canada

Book Review: Blood Sister by Kenna McKinnon

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Why This Book 
I’d heard a few good things about Blood Sister by author Kenna McKinnon from some fellow readers and decided to take a chance on it. It was published in 2015 by Creativia and has a very unique set of characters and multiple voices (you’ll get this joke later on)… let’s get on to the review.

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Plot, Characters & Setting 
Set in contemporary Canada, this quirky novel tells the story of two vicious murders of the town mayor and doctor in Serendipity. While the police lead the investigation, they’ve called in a consultant private-eye who has a unique relationship with the detectives working on the case. She’s a schizophrenic who still hears voices and is currently on a stress leave while she re-adjusts to new medication levels. As if that’s not enough of a reason to draw you in, Annie is married to another interesting fellow, Samir, a Sudanese man who has a few issues of his own to deal with, but they may just be trying to pull the wool over their guardian’s eyes… as they’re barely in their early 20s and not quite ready to be on their own based on a few crimes they too committed in the past. Add in a sexy new detective named Mark Snow who just happens to have the same initials as the possible murderer and you’ve got yourself quite a corker to figure out!

Approach & Style 
I read this 294-page mystery and suspense novel over ~4 hours on my iPad via Kindle Reader. It’s broken into ~90 chapters which means each one is relatively short around 3 to 4 pages. While it could be difficult to tell who’s talking, given all the personalities sometimes taking control of Annie, author McKinnon has kindly italicized those moments so readers are quick to follow along. The story is told in third-person POV with a perspective focusing on the main character, Annie, and her adventures not only in solving the crime, but deciding how to handle her relationship with Samir and feelings for Mark.

Key Thoughts 
Let’s focus on the mystery first. Two dead people always make a story more complicated. Was it a single murderer, a serial killer with more victims in his/her plan, or just two very unrelated incidents. Lots of red herrings and different motives, both real and faked, help move this plot along nicely.

You’ll either love or hate the characters. They are portrayed quite well, so it’ll really come down to your ability to see through the quirks and nuances versus the games they seem to be playing with each other and within poor Annie’s mind. I’m in awe of how the author kept this all in line!

There are a lot of side-stories going on which help keep readers interested in all the action and characters. Between birds and cats, foreigners and natives, old historic beliefs and medical approaches, the novel seems to have a bit of everything. It’s a lot to keep track of, but imagine what that’s like for Annie who has to try to assemble all the clues while her schizophrenia idles up and down depending on her adjustment to the medicine.

Throw in a bit of romance, some Canadian humor, and the potential for some fun and silliness, you’ve got yourself quite a unique read. If you’re looking for something different and logical in its own right, this would be a great choice to push your reading comforts. The best part is following Annie’s mind and voice throughout the story. She’s got a lot of charm and intelligence, and you never quite know what she might say out loud unintentionally. I know a few people like that!

Summary 
This was a unique book and I don’t think I expected it to be what it turned out to be — but that’s certainly not a bad thing either! It has all the drama, mystery and suspense you’d expect in this type of novel, but it gives you a very different setting and tone as part of the ride. I like when books throw me for a loop, especially when you need to re-orient how you think in order to align your reading style. Kudos to the author for finding great formatting, approaches and character descriptions to help make everything pop on the page.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
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Book Review: Lethally Green by Amber Boffin

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Why This Book 
I was lucky enough to win a contest I’d entered last month. I received the book as a giveaway and needed a lighthearted mystery when the new year started.

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Plot, Characters & Setting 
Maggie moves back home to Canada from Great Britain after a few painful events. When she arrives, she needs to settle her parents estate and immerse herself among the people she grew up with. Unfortunately, the town is in a bit of disarray, and a body is discovered on her property. As she tries to set up her new photography business, Maggie teams up with ‘Ranger’ Adam to help solve the case, as the local police don’t seem very skilled when she interacts with them post-murder. In the end, she solves the case and begins to develop her new life back home.

Approach & Style 
I read a ~220 page physical copy in 3 hours over the course of two days. There are 28 chapters, each relatively short, written in a third-person POV somewhere between limited and omniscient, as you jump around from different character perspectives to understand everything happening behind the scenes with the murder. It’s a bit atypical for a cozy, at least the ones I’ve read, which tend to only focus on the main character’s POV. Interesting approach, as it helps give you different perspective. Not sure how I feel about it yet, but I’d give another one a try to determine my thoughts…

Key Thoughts 
For a debut, it’s a good read. I’d probably give it a 3 to a 3.5 rating, as there were parts I connected with, but there were also some where I struggled to get invested in either Maggie or the actual murder. It has all the right elements, but something was missing from being a really strong and intense read. I would consider another one, pending the plot and scope of the story. I’m curious to see how others feel about this book. It reads very quickly, which shows the writing is good; however, at times it felt stilted or flat — almost like things were happening because they were supposed to happen, and not necessarily the most interactive way for readers. An example was the way Maggie took control of the police department’s case; she is smart and was able to help drive to the conclusion, but I am not sure I understand why she was invested or allowed to take it so far on her own. She approached her quest to solve the case as if she were ticking off a list of items, telling readers some details but not all that was in her mind. She felt like the police detective, not the actual cops. I’m sure as the series progresses, this will become a charming element, but it wasn’t as endearing in the beginning when I haven’t totally invested in Maggie as a character, not knowing her whole background (can I trust her?). That said, I do like the setting and the set of extended characters — I see potential. I enjoyed the friendship between Adam and Maggie, as well as Amy and Maggie. I also find the mayor intriguing, as she’s definitely a big ball of grey on situations… she could be bad, she could be good… only time will tell!

Summary 
Many thanks to the author, publisher, and Review Crew for the opportunity to read this book. I’m glad to kick the year off with this cozy and look forward to seeing other reviews. It’s set in Canada, which was a new one for me! I always enjoy learning about other places and the details of what makes them tick. Good luck to the author.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Review: Anne of Green Gables

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Anne of Green Gables Book Review
3+ of 5 stars to Anne of Green Gables, the first book in a series by L.M. Montgomery, written in 1902. I read this book nearly 30 years ago and had to refresh my memory a little, before writing the review. I’d forgotten it was part of a whole series. I read more than one, but not sure which other ones. I recall this first one… a tale about an orphan girl, acclimating to a new family, meeting friends and neighbors. On the outskirts, it’s a coming-of-age tale about a young girl becoming a woman and learning about the realities of life. It’s both a funny book to read and an educational one with some lessons. It’s something every kid should read, just to understand how good they have it… or if they are adopted, to learn how to deal with it. Anne’s a beautiful person, forgetting age for a few seconds. And whenever she’s around, it sorta feels like the comforts of home. If you haven’t sampled it, read one of the books in the series just to see what life was like for a girl like her over a century ago. It’ll be a positive read, even so many years later.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: Gone with the Twins

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Gone with the TwinsMy rating: 4 of 5 stars to Kylie Logan‘s Gone with the Twins, the fifth book in the “League of Literary Ladies” mystery series about a woman who owns a B&B on an island between Ohio and Canada and helps the local police solve crimes using her skills as a secret famous fiction author. I was excited to read this book as it was recently released and one of the only mystery series I am current on. While it was a good story and follow-up to the previous books, it wasn’t my favorite and felt a little too easy this go-round. But still worth a read.


Story

Bea is still upset after finding out a secret about Levi at the end of the previous book, but her heart still wants him. As the story starts out, a rival B&B has opened, taking all of the normal summer guests that would have gone to Bea’s place had the famous Champion Twins not set up camp on the island. Recently thrust back into the spotlight after having been kidnapped, Riva and Quentin Champion have designed their new B&B like Tara from “Gone With the Wind,” which just happens to be the book that Bea and her friends in the literary league started reading. When the local real estate agent who sold most of the homes to the main island inhabitants passes away, her niece, Vivian, takes over and begins making enough enemies that she’s soon found dead in her basement on the evening she was set to meet several people to sell them antiques from her late aunt’s house. When it looks like Chandra, Bea’s neighbor and New Age friend, is the primary culprit, Bea sets out to prove her friend’s innocence. Along the way, she and Levi re-connect and he watches over her when the murderer gets too close. Somehow, it’s all connected and Bea will stop at nothing to figure out what’ at the core of the shenanigans, especially when rumors about her not-true ex-con or ex-psycho status, as well as fake bed bug stories, start popping up all over town. In true Bea style, she dives in with the Chief of Police, Hank, and soon uncovers more connections to her own past than she realized were possible.


Strengths

Bea’s friends and hijinks are on target. The story incorporates daily life as well as solving the crime, making it a fun and quick read. Her interest in Levi maintains its roller coaster course, providing a good boost of romance, fun and humor. The descriptions of the Twins and their history is something cute to laugh about. And the cast of new characters is vivid and amusing.

The story focuses on Chandra’s relationship with her first husband, who was connected to Vivian, the victim in this book. The Twins figure prominently both in the real estate transactions and the fame of Hollywood being brought to the quiet Lake Bass island. Levi appears frequently while Luella and Kate take a bit of a back seat this time. It’s good to focus on different supporting characters in each book, as we get a more well-rounded opinion of the whole shebang!


Suggestions

The plot was a little too simple in this book. A few red herrings helped create a bit of fun and suspense, but the title gives it away, knowing the Twins have something to do with the mayhem. No spoilers given away here, just mentioning what felt too obvious for a reader. While there were a few potential suspects, the reasons for everyone never felt compelling enough for one of them to want to murder Vivian, but when you find out why, it makes sense. Just a little too loose for me.

The story starts off with the death of the elderly real estate agent who sold Bea the B&B. I would have liked to know that character, Estelle, a little more. Her death and appearance just seemed inserted for plot points. As this is Book 5, I think the author should have dropped more hints about Estelle in Books 1 thru 4 so we as readers felt the loss, too.


Final Thoughts

The charm and suspense felt a little off in this book, too. I expected more, given the great impressions I had from the earlier books. Still worth a read, just sayin’! That said, I love Bea and the whole premise of the book, and her secret identity as F.X. O’Grady. I hope the next book focuses more on her own past… and I definitely look forward to the next one, even is this one was a little disappointing.

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