Murder at the Columbarium by Emily Gallo #BookReview #RBRT @TheEmilyGallo

Cover: Murder at the Columbarium
by Emily Gallo

 

The author sent me an ARC of this book (mobi format) in exchange for an honest review (a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team).

My rating:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (4 stars)

Plot
(by Goodreads)

Jed’s quiet life as caretaker of the San Francisco Columbarium is turned upside down when he comes upon a dead woman’s body and a crying baby just inside the gate. His search for answers thrusts him into a world of corruption, bigotry and drug trafficking and he becomes one of the principal suspects.

Genre(s): > Mysteries (Kindle Store)
> Literature & Fiction (Kindle Store)
> Mysteries (Books)
Series: n.a.
Length: 387 pages
Release date: 2018-09-23

Teaser


…Jed watched as the two men climbed the stairs. He took a rag and went upstairs as well. He started wiping down the front of the niches as he tracked the pair. They stopped in front of Francesca Balducci’s apartment and the better-dressed man crossed himself while the larger man stood to the side. Jed decided to move away at that point. He didn’t know much about Francesca Balducci. Her niche was one of the more traditional ones: a picture of an old woman, a brass urn, a crucifix, and a vase with some withered flowers He would look her up to see when she had been put in her apartment. He doubted it had been more than a year ago. She hadn’t had any visitors that Jed remembered. He was pretty sure that  this man had not been here before…


My Opinion

This book focuses on the Columbarium’s caretaker Jed and how his life changes when finding a murdered young woman on the premises.

With “Murder at the Columbarium”, Emily Gallo has created a well-elaborated and intriguing story about Jed and his friends. The story comprises a variety of characters with sufficient depth, interesting turns, food for thought, and a great flow. I was drawn into the story right away, close to Jed, his wife, their friends; captivated by what this story had to offer. I had a great time reading “Murder at the Columbarium”. It is a memorable story; I enjoyed reading about Jed who is warm-hearted and determined.

This is for you if you like steady-paced mysteries, stories that let you follow along and inspire your own train of thoughts, as well as books you would like to read again because their stories are unforgettable.

Recommended.

In brief:

Cover ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (4 stars)
Writing ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (4 stars)
Plot ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (4 stars)
Characters ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (5 stars)
Mood Suspenseful
Pace Steady
POV Third person – past tense
Language :mrgreen:  (few mild swearwords)
Violence :mrgreen: – 😳  (some violence without too many details)
Sexual content :mrgreen: – 😳  (some mentions without details)

 

About the author

“I View My Life In 3 Stages”

Emily Kaufman was the girl growing up in Manhattan in the fifties and sixties. In the sixties and seventies, I attended Clark University and lived in San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Seattle doing the hippie/peace/love/protest thing.

In the eighties and nineties, Emily Saur lived in Northampton, MA and Davis, CA and was the more conventional wife, mother of two, and elementary school teacher.

In 2006, I retired from teaching and became Emily Gallo when I married David, a professor of economics, and moved to Chico, CA to continue our journey. I started writing screenplays and television and moved into novels. David, Gracie (our Schillerhound), Savali (our cat) and I now divide our time between two and a half acres of gardens, orchards in Chico and a 750 square foot condo on the beach in Carpinteria, CA.

Connect with the author:

Website:  https://www.emilygallo.com/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/TheEmilyGallo
Amazon:  Emily Gallo
Buy links:  https://books2read.com/u/4NQBj8


Please take a look at my statement on reading in My train of thoughts on …reading.  Now I am asking you.  🙂

My questions for you bibliophiles:
What about you?  What did you think about “Murder at the Columbarium”?  Or – if you did not yet read “Murder at the Columbarium” – are you now interested in reading it yourself?

I am looking forward to reading your comments.  🙂


 

 

 

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Not Knowing by Donna Dechen Birdwell #BookReview #RBRT @donnadechen

Cover: Not Knowing
by Donna Dechen Birdwell

The author sent me an ARC of this book (mobi format) in exchange for an honest review (member of Rosie’s Book Review Team).

My rating:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (4 stars)

Plot
(by Goodreads)

When Meg was a little girl, Abuela María predicted she would travel to the moon.

Now she’s an archaeologist digging up Mayan ruins in Belize while trying to keep her own past buried beneath hard work and professional responsibility. It isn’t working. The summer of 2022 seems destined to push all of Meg’s buttons—her deep-seated aversion to marijuana and guns and the unwanted presence of a boy who reminds her of a certain horrific summer in Mexico. Digging deeper only unearths more questions. And then her husband buys a lottery ticket for the first tourist flight to the moon. What Meg doesn’t want to know may yet be her redemption.

Genre(s): > Contemporary Women’s Fiction
> Contemporary Women Fiction
> Contemporary Literature & Fiction
Series: n.a.
Length: 327 pages
Release date: 2019-07-20

Teaser


I drifted easily to sleep. It was good sleep but somewhere near morning, I began to dream. At first it was just one of those dreams of childhood, being in the old home place, catching the aromas from the kitchen – bread baking, chicken frying – and then playing hide-and-seek with my big brother among the bins and bushes of our neighborhood without fences. But then it shifted.


My Opinion

This book focuses on archaeologist Meg Fitzellen, spending her summer at ‘her’ Mayan ruin site in Belize; for her, digging in ancient history is more pleasant than reminders of her own past. Insights and Belizean events still have an influence on her after returning home to Texas.

With “Not Knowing”, Donna Dechen Birdwell has created a nicely developing and intense story about Meg Fitzellen. The story comprises a variety of characters with sufficient depth, interesting turns, archaelogical knowledge, and has a good flow. I was drawn into the story right away, close to Meg and Seth; captivated by what their story had to offer. I had a good time reading “Not Knowing” – also a great source of food for thought.

“Not Knowing” may be categorised ‘Contemporary Women’s Fiction’ – it offers a lot more. I enjoyed the human touch, the dreams, as well as the little mysteries; a story not easily forgotten.

This is for you if you like female protagonists, stories that let you follow along and inspire your own train of thoughts, as well as books you would like to read again.

Recommended.

In brief:

Cover ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (4 stars)
Writing ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (4 stars)
Plot ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (4 stars)
Characters ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (4 stars)
Mood Suspenseful
Pace Steady
POV Mainly: First person – past tense
In dreams: first person – present tense
Ending – present tense
Language :mrgreen:  (few mild swearwords)
Violence :mrgreen: – 😳  (some violence in retrospective)
Sexual content :mrgreen:  (some mentions without details)

 

About the author

Donna Dechen Birdwell is creator of a haunting dystopian 22nd-century world in her RECALL CHRONICLES, which began with Way of the Serpent in 2015. Her writing is informed by a lifetime as a student of humanity and her travels to many countries, several of which (Belize, Ireland, Nepal) have become her “homes away from home”.  Donna is convinced that storytelling is one of our most powerful social mechanisms, imagination our most precious human trait.

Before anthropology, Donna was a journalist, and beyond anthropology she became an artist and photographer. As an artist, she is largely self-taught and her work has been primarily in acrylics on handmade Nepali lokta paper. She maintained an art studio in East Austin for a number of years, participating in EAST Austin Studio Tours from 2011 through 2014. Her primary photographic interest is in Miksang comtemplative photography.

Donna’s paintings and photographs have been displayed at ASmith photographic gallery in Johnson City, Austin Bergstrom International Airport (February 15 – May 20, 2014), Glovinsky Gallery in Denver, CO, Dragonfly Gallery (Austin), Gallery Black Lagoon (Austin), The Art Studio Inc. (Beaumont), and Frederick Gallery (Fredericksburg, VA). Her work was included in St. Louis Women’s Caucus for Art catalog of “Contemporary Women Artists XVI: Longevity.”

Donna holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from Southern Methodist University and previously taught at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.

Connect with the author:

Website:  https://donnadechenbirdwell.com/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/donnadechen
Amazon:  Donna Dechen Birdwell
Buy links:  https://books2read.com/u/bM9E0k


Please take a look at my statement on reading in My train of thoughts on …reading.  Now I am asking you.  🙂

My questions for you bibliophiles:
What about you?  What did you think about “Not Knowing”?  Or – if you did not yet read “Not Knowing” – are you now interested in reading it yourself?

I am looking forward to reading your comments.  🙂


 

 

 

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Fool’s Gold (Sam Harris Adventure, #1) by PJ Skinner #BookReview #RBRT @PJSkinnerAuthor

Cover: Fool’s Gold
(Sam Harris Adventure, #1)
by PJ Skinner

 

The author sent me an ARC of this book (epub format) in exchange for an honest review (member of Rosie’s Book Review Team).

My rating:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (4 stars)

Plot
(by Goodreads)

Indiana Jones wannabe finds adventure a little tougher than she expected.

It’s 1987. Geologist Sam Harris is a woman in a man’s world – naive and underpaid, but resilient and passionate. Desperate for her first job, she accepts a contract with a dodgy entrepreneur exploring for gold in the remote rainforests of Sierramar.

When she uncovers a clue to a treasure buried deep within the jungle, she is sent on an expedition to find it, but one of her colleagues is plotting to seize the hoard and will kill to get his hands on it.

Will Sam find the treasure or will her first adventure be her last?

If you like gutsy heroines, exotic locations, and complex characters, then you’ll love PJ Skinner’s thrilling novel.

Download Fool’s Gold for free and have an adventure today.

Genre(s): > Women’s Adventure Fiction (Kindle Store)
> Travel Adventure Fiction
> Mystery Action Fiction (Kindle Store)
Series: Sam Harris Adventure, #1
Length: 303 pages
Release date: 2017-12-12

Teaser


…There was no front door. A lopsided doorframe with interesting fungi springing from the holes in the wood was all that remained. It had only one habitable room, the floors in the other room having caved in. Two log stools made up the lavish furnishings of this palace.

There would be no escape from living with Wilson in close proximity. Sam wondered if this was the best accommodation available in the village. Wilson had not treated Don Moises with much respect and she suspected the two things were linked. Worse still, something was missing.

“Where’s the toilet?”

“There is no toilet. Go to the forest or the river. You can wash in the river which runs parallel to the main street over there.”


My Opinion

This book focuses on geologist Sam; in need of a job she accepts an offer that takes her to the rainforests of Sierramar, to an adventure that gets her in some unanticipated situations.

With “Fool’s Gold”, PJ Skinner has created a slowly yet steadily developing adventure around Sam Harris. The story comprises a variety of characters with sufficient depth, drama, surprising turns which are solved as the story continues, and interesting geological/archaeological passages. I had a good time reading “Fool’s Gold” – it is the beginning of a promising series. I was drawn into the story having finished the first chapter, already getting closer to Sam.

This is for you if you like female protagonists, characters with an agenda, and slower-paced (yet not too slow) adventures.

A promising first book in a new series.

Recommended.

In brief:

Cover ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (4 stars)
Writing ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (4 stars)
Plot ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (3 stars)
Characters ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (4 stars)
Mood Suspenseful
Pace Starting slowly, then steadying at a good pace
POV Third person – past tense
Language :mrgreen: – 😳  (some medium swearwords)
Violence 😳  (some violence)
Sexual content 😳  (a lot of mentions)

 

About the author

PJ Skinner is the author of the Sam Harris Series of adventure mystery/thriller novels. A geologist who has spent thirty years roaming the planet and collecting tall tales and real-life experiences, she now writes fact-based novels from the relative safety of London. She still travels worldwide collecting material for the series and having her own adventures.

The author is working on the fifth book in the Sam Harris Series, The Bonita Protocol, which will be published in the summer of 2019. She is also researching two other new books, one of which, Rebel Green, is being written with the help of a childhood spent in Ireland.

The Sam Harris Series will appeal to lovers of adventure, mystery and travel. It has a unique viewpoint provided by Sam, a female interloper in a male world, as she struggles with alien cultures and failed relationships..

Connect with the author:

Website:  https://pjskinner.com/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/PJSkinnerAuthor
Amazon:  PJ Skinner
Buy links:  https://books2read.com/u/mdGYrl


Please take a look at my statement on reading in My train of thoughts on …reading.  Now I am asking you.  🙂

My questions for you bibliophiles:
What about you?  What did you think about “Fool’s Gold”?  Or – if you did not yet read “Fool’s Gold” – are you now interested in reading it yourself?

I am looking forward to reading your comments.  🙂


 

 

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The Story That Had No Beginning by Daniel Kemp #BookReview @danielkemp6

Cover:
The Story That Had No Beginning
by Daniel Kemp

The author sent me an ARC of this book (mobi format) in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (four stars)

Plot
(by Amazon)

Alicia Collinson and her partner, Sir Giles Milton QC have a dinner party to host in the Chelsea home they share, but they are unaware of an extra guest; the ghost of Alicia’s dead twin brother. Alicia poses a surprising question to Sir Giles and their guests:—“Do you think lying is endemic in society today?”

They all have different answers based on their experiences, but what was the purpose of her question and how did her brother die?

 

Genre(s): Kindle eBooks
> Literature & Fiction > Literary Fiction > British & Irish
Books
> Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Literary
Series: n.a.
Length: 158 pages
Release date: 2018-05-04

 

Teaser


I discovered in life that it is useless to speculate on what might have been. To want something that has gone is a wasted sentiment, one where grudges wander and despair is only a partially filled glass away. I have, however, nothing else to do than wonder what might have been had I found my twin that day in Bishopsgate. Having said that, and although I was not poor, I could not have competed with Mary on a financial footing, nor, it must be said, with the amount of time she did manage to devote to my sister. More importantly than either of those was how she exhibited an extraordinary example of benevolence for Alice to follow, whereas all I could have shown my sister was how to fight…


My Opinion

This story is introduced by Tom Collins. He tells the readers about how he and his twin sister Alice were taken into two different foster homes when they were eight, as well as about the dinner party, hosted by Alicia Collinson – his sister.

With “The Story That Had No Beginning”, Daniel Kemp presents us with a pretty unusual combination of contemporary fiction and mystery. The story is told by Tom’s ghost sometimes in a quite philosophical way. The first chapters may seem a little complicated, due to a multitude of characters, as you learn more about them, the better you get a clear picture. The book comprises interesting turns and has a good flow. Daniel Kemp lets a ghost tell the stories of his sister and of himself, enriching the plotline with surprising insights and food for thought. I was drawn into the story after a few chapters – when I had a basic knowledge of the relevant characters. I could then easily envision the characters and locations. I had a good time reading “The Story That Hand No Beginning”. It is a quite enjoyable read.

This is for you if you like contemporary fiction combined with mystery, surprises, and food for thought.

In brief:

Cover ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (three stars)
Writing ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (four stars)
Plot ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (four stars)
Characters ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (four stars)
Mood Suspenseful
Pace Steady
POV First person – past tense
Language :mrgreen:  (decent enough)
Violence 😳  (scattered scenes, mentions)
Sexual content 😳  (mentions of acts, few details)

 

About the author

Daniel Kemp, ex-London police officer, mini-cab business owner, pub tenant and licensed London taxi driver never planned to be a writer, but after his first novel —The Desolate Garden — was under a paid option to become a $30 million film for five years until distribution became an insurmountable problem for the production company what else could he do?

In May 2018 his book What Happened In Vienna, Jack? became a number one bestseller on four separate Amazon sites: America, UK, Canada and Australia.

Nowadays he is a prolific storyteller and although it’s true to say that he mainly concentrates on what he knows most about; murders laced by the intrigue involving spies, his diverse experience of life shows in the short stories he writes; namely Why: A Complicated Love and the mysteriously titled– “The Story That Had No Beginning”.

He is the recipient of rave reviews from a prestigious Manhattan publication, been described as —the new Graham Greene — by a managerial employee of Waterstones Books, for whom he did a countrywide tour of signing events, and he has appeared on ‘live’ television.

Connect with the Author:

Website:  https://theauthordannykemp.com/
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17257200.Daniel_Kemp
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/danielkemp6
Amazon:  Daniel Kemp
Amazon:  books2read.com/u/3G9QL8


Please take a look at my statement on reading in My train of thoughts on …reading.  Now I am asking you.  🙂

My questions for you bibliophiles:
What about you?  What did you think about “The Story That Had No Beginning”?  Or – if you did not yet read “The Story That Had No Beginning” – are you now interested in reading it yourself?

I am looking forward to reading your comments.  🙂

 

The Curse of Time (Bloodstone, #1) by M. J. Mallon #BookReview @Marjorie_Mallon

Cover: The Curse of Time
(Bloodstone, #1)
by M. J. Mallon

The author sent me an ARC of this book (epub format) in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (5 stars)

Plot
(by Goodreads)

Fifteen-year-old Amelina Scott lives in Cambridge with her dysfunctional family, a mysterious black cat, and an unusual girl who’s imprisoned within the mirrors located in her house. When an unexpected message arrives inviting her to visit the Crystal Cottage, she sets off on a forbidden pathway where she encounters Ryder, a charismatic, but perplexing stranger.

With the help of a magical paint set, and some crystal wizard stones she discovers the truth about a shocking curse that has destroyed her family’s happiness.

Genre(s): Kindle eBooks > Children’s eBooks
> Science Fiction, Fantasy & Scary Stories > Fantasy & Magic > Coming of Age
> Science Fiction, Fantasy & Scary Stories > Fantasy & Magic > Paranormal, Occult & Supernatural
Books > Teens
> Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Coming of Age
Series: Bloodstone, #1
Length: 242 pages
Release date: 2017-08-26

 

Teaser


I couldn’t help but wonder if whatever was happening to my family had reached beyond us and touched others.

Esme answered when she’d got over the shock of seeing me. ‘I can’t tell you how I got here. I’m compelled to keep that a secret. All I can say is that I’m trapped and can’t get out. Whereas you can walk out the door, but you won’t be free until you find the cottage.’ Esme smiled. Her blonde hair caught the reflections from the morning light hitting the mirror leaving a shiny spot on the wall behind me. I gazed at her face and saw that her eyes held the truth: in the sadness, she couldn’t hide.


My Opinion

This book introduces you to 15-year-old Amelina Scott, living in a rather unusal home.

With The Curse of Time, M. J. Mallon has created a well-crafted paranormal teen story that made me follow Amelina as an invisible ally; inwardly cheering her on as she tried to find a solution for her family’s issues. It is a very compelling read that draws you close to Amelina and her quest. M. J. Mallon introduces Amelina with utmost care, she is a complex and believable teenager, and you want to find a possibility to support her. The story has a steady yet fast-paced flow, still leaving you sufficient opportunity to grasp the situations. Even if I am way past my teenage times – I had a great time reading this first book in the Bloodstone series. I am looking forward to reading the next books in the series.

This is a book for you if you like paranormal and occult stories with believable characters, mysteries, the young adult genre per se, and if you appreciate great story-telling.

Highly recommended.

In brief:

Cover ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (4 stars)
Writing ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (5 stars)
Plot ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (5 stars)
Characters ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (5 stars)
Mood Suspenseful
Pace Fast, steady
POV First person – past tense
Language :mrgreen: – 😳  (decent enough)
Violence 😳  (scenes of violence)
Sexual content :mrgreen: – 😳  (decent enough)

 

About the author

I am a debut author who has been blogging for three years: https://mjmallon.com. My interests include writing, photography, poetry, and alternative therapies. I write Fantasy YA, and middle grade fiction as well as micropoetry – haiku and tanka. I love to read and have written over 100 reviews: https://mjmallon.com/2015/09/28/a-z-o

My alter ego is MJ – Mary Jane from Spiderman. I love superheros! I was born on the 17th of November in Lion City: Singapore, (a passionate Scorpio, with the Chinese Zodiac sign a lucky rabbit,) second child and only daughter to my proud parents Paula and Ronald. I grew up in a mountainous court in the Peak District in Hong Kong with my elder brother Donald. My parents dragged me away from my exotic childhood and my much loved dog Topsy to the frozen wastelands of Scotland. In bonnie Edinburgh I mastered Scottish country dancing, and a whole new Och Aye lingo.

As a teenager I travelled to many far-flung destinations to visit my abacus wielding wayfarer dad. It’s rumoured that I now live in the Venice of Cambridge, with my six foot hunk of a Rock God husband, and my two enchanted daughters.

After such an upbringing my author’s mind has taken total leave of its senses! When I’m not writing, I eat exotic delicacies while belly dancing, or surf to the far reaches of the moon. To chill out, I practise Tai Chi. If the mood takes me I snorkel with mermaids, or sign up for idyllic holidays with the Chinese Unicorn, whose magnificent voice sings like a thousand wind chimes.

Connect with the author:

Please take a look at my statement on reading in My train of thoughts on …reading.  Now I am asking you.  🙂

My questions for you bibliophiles:
What about you?  What did you think about The Curse of Time?  Or – if you did not yet read The Curse of Time – are you now interested in reading it yourself?

I am looking forward to reading your comments.  🙂