religion

Book Review: All Saints – Murder on the Mersey by Brian L. Porter

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All Saints: Murder on the Mersey (Mersey Murder Mysteries, #2)All Saints: Murder on the Mersey by Brian L. Porter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Murder is always an awful way to go, but when your killer is bent on revenge and has a taste for the thoroughly vicious and insane, it won’t be pretty. Such was the case for several men (who deserved it) in the second installment of the ‘Mersey Murder Mysteries’ series by Brian L. Porter. All Saints: Murder on the Mersey is a graphic tale where violent deaths are brilliantly depicted and religious hypocrisy is exposed. Kudos to Porter for making his characters come alive and his story stand out in the series.

In this book, Ross, Izzie and the rest of the gang are called to a cemetery when the naked, mutilated body of an unknown man is found. Certain parts have been cut off and stuffed in his mouth. Obviously, the crime is going to be of a sexual nature, but this is only the beginning. More bodies surface and none have a connection to one another — at first. Then the chapters begin to alternate with the murderer(s) discussing the crime, events from ~40 years ago coming to light, and hidden dreams of a priest who’s suddenly appeared back in town after a very long time. What do they have in common and how will they eventually lead to discovering the true intentions of a killer with a taste for the macabre and gory endings?

Porter’s imagination is explosive. He balances horrific crimes with poignant steps in the main characters’ lives (marriage, love, children). Each book handles a gruesome social issue vividly and with a punch to leave you thirsting for the next one. The way in which the victims die reminds you of thrilling and suspenseful horror films where a serial killer goes mental / berserk. Watching it unfold, realizing the relationships, and experiencing the connections to various gospels and names is entertaining and page-turning. I finished this one in just a few hours over a quiet afternoon. It’s gotten me very psyched for his upcoming release in which a haunting image is on the cover – can’t wait til he shares it. Bring it on soon, Porter! For now, I’ll be content to finish the one remaining in the series I haven’t gotten to… six in total so far — you’ll enjoy them all.

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and 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 –and multiple Readathons. 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.

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Book Review: Last Train to Lime Street by Brian L. Porter

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Last Train to Lime Street (Mersey Murder Mysteries Book 6)Last Train to Lime Street by Brian L. Porter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you were to look over my previously read book list, you’d notice ~75% are mysteries that are part of a book series. I enjoy getting to know a group of characters in a realistic setting who work together (or sometimes against) trying to discover what secrets led to a murder. Brian L. Porter’s ‘The Mersey Murder Mysteries’ series provides all that and more. I’d finished reading three of five previously written when his latest was released this month. Although I try to read in order, these can be read out of order as they’re stand-alone mysteries based on the fictional Merseyside Police Specialist Murder Investigation Team. If you read out of order, you might find someone married in a later book and single in an earlier book, but otherwise, it should be okay. Kudos to the author for building a great atmosphere and backdrop to tell his stories about the bizarre and nasty murders his special investigation team handles.

In Last Train to Lime Street, a train engineer making one of his final stops before retirement is navigating between stations when he sees something fall from a bridge. He tries to stop the train, but a collision is inevitable. He thought it was a body, but when he stumbles from the train car, it’s way more than he expected. Porter viscerally describes the impact of the train scattering body parts everywhere, and we soon realize, the body was naked and its severed head was actually cut prior to the collision. Who is the victim? When he’s got no identification and several parts are still missing, this won’t be an easy case. Enter detectives Izzie Drake and Andy Ross who quickly find a connection to a man recently reported as missing — an American transplant who runs a very successful adult entertainment company. Readers learn all about the porn industry through the victim’s business partners and three wives (1 current, 2 ex). Was he killed for something related to the mob-connected film company, a trick gone wrong, or some other more personal connection few knew anything about?

Our key detectives have to trace the path the victim took in the 2 days since leaving his wife and home for a business meeting. No one will admit to anything. Everyone says he was a good guy. Porter’s highly adept at creating a fine balance between educating readers on how the porn industry works versus what may or may not have contributed to the death. At times, the material can be a bit graphic, which for me was completely okay. It’s handled well, and it’s necessary to paint a full picture of the lifestyle and potential areas for clues. Not for the faint of heart, it delivers a powerful punch when you find out who the killer is and why (s)he felt the need to dispose of this well-known film star and business owner.

I’ve not read many UK police procedural series, but I love Agatha Christie’s books and the Midsomer Murders television show. I get the same traditional British feel in Porter’s books as I do from these other treats, but Porter’s are set in the early 2000s so they feel more current and urban. This is not your quaint little town that has a murder every so often. Drake and Ross handle only the intense! I love being able to get inside the head and actions of the entire team… we get the perspective from ~10 police members including a German transplant visiting for 2 years and those from other part of the UK who contribute to researching the case. Porter drops in a few wonderful personal stories for the primary detectives on the case so we know what’s going on in terms of marriages, children, relocation, and family death. It makes you feel like you’re reading about old friends when you stick with a series like this one.

I thoroughly enjoyed this latest edition and am looking forward to reading the earlier two I hadn’t gotten to yet. I have a goal: to be current before Porter releases book #7 in this series in early 2019. Why don’t you hurry up and read them so we can buddy read the next together?

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and 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 –and multiple Readathons. 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.

Book Review: The Church Murders by Lisa Reynolds

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The Church Murders (Rory Murphy Mysteries #1)The Church Murders by Lisa Reynolds

If you’ve every perused the list of books I’ve read, you’ll quickly notice I tend to read A LOT in certain genres, but I also have very broad ranges and try to sample from them all. When I came across The Church Murders, the first book in the Rory Murphy Mysteries, by Lisa Reynolds, it sounded like a unique story. I know the blogger from reading and reviewing similar books, so I decided to purchase this one on Amazon earlier this month. When I realized it’s only ~60 pages and a short intro to the larger story, I slid it into a very busy October reading schedule and completed it yesterday.

To start with, for the plot and setting alone, I would recommend the book. As the author’s first book in the series, she’s working through a few approaches to get them set where she wants them (I’ve been there before!) and I appreciate all the effort going into making her voice and style perfect. Our leading sleuth, newly thrust into the role, is a disabled young gay man living in Ireland and then England (I believe). We learn a little of his backstory which essentially consists of an accident that left him in a wheelchair and feeling as if he’ll never find love. Out at a pub, Rory and his friends discuss a recent murder that occurred in a church. Rory was secretly in love with his caretaker turned friend, but the guy has a boyfriend already. Fast-forward a few weeks/months, Rory’s met someone and is finally relaxing a bit except a few more murders have occurred. He’s compelled to investigate them and works with his friends only to discover the killer might be one of them.

So… given this is a short novella intro, I don’t want to spoil much more of the plot. It combines elements of religion, sex, revenge, doubt, and love. What I saw in this book is the potential for a really strong series surrounding Rory and his friends. It’s one of the few where I’ve found a leading gay man, a leading disabled man, and a no-holds-back approach to discussing religion in a mystery book. I really liked these aspects and look forward to sampling more from the author. Given how short the first one is, I can easily say it was fully packed with twists and turns. If the author expands into longer novels from here, I think it will work out really well. This was a good story, but it definitely leaves you wanting more drawn-out action… so I’ll be picking up the next one in the series in the upcoming months to see how things progress!

If you want to check out more on the author and her blog which always has great posts, reviews, and other fun things… find her on Facebook and WordPress through these links. Thanks for sharing these characters with us, Lisa. I look forward to more soon.

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and 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 –and multiple Readathons. 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.

Book Review: A Column of Fire by Ken Follett

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I’ve reviewed ~575 books in the last few years and don’t often give out 5 stars. I can be a bit stingy as I want the book to just completely knock me over. Ken Follett is one of few authors who consistently impress, excite, and satisfy this thirst. The Pillars of the Earth came very close. World Without End hit the mark and is one of my top 5 all-time favorite books. In the third book in the Kingsbridge series, A Column of Fire, I am again thoroughly exhilarated and awarding 5 stars. I do think World Without End is slightly better, but this was superb on so many levels. I’m doubly blessed as I won this book through a Goodreads Giveaway and my blog followers selected it as my April 2018 Book Bucket List read. It was also a buddy read with a wonderful friend.

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At the outset, this is a book covering the impact on several families and towns throughout Europe during the religious wars in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. From Spain to Europe, Scotland to England, and even parts of Africa and the Caribbean, this book tracks the various changing of the guard under Henry VIII’s daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, as well as other claimants to the throne, Mary of Scots and James I. Some are Catholic. Some are Protestant. Who will win? History knows, and many readers familiar with these facts know. But it doesn’t spoil the beauty of this absolutely stunning series of novels by Follett. He’s crafted an amazing set of towns, families, bonds and rivalries over a period of 60 years in this particular third novel where the tides turn every 5 to 10 years, or every 100 to 200 pages (yes, it’s nearly 1000 pages long). Your heart breaks. Your eyes bulge. People could be horrible. They could be kind. Persecution in the name of religion truly happened, and while some find this book taking advantage of history to present drama… my response is basically — Umm… yeah, it’s historical fiction and that’s the point. If you want a 100% accurate book, go read a non-fiction account.

With a tome of this length, my review could go on forever. I plan to keep it shorter than that. Ned Willard is the protagonist, and the novel follows his life from a teenager to a 70-year-old man through which time he has many lovers, wives, friends, and family. He is one of the most respectable characters I’ve ever met in a book, and while he certainly does a few things that I’d consider wrong by today’s standards, he was a visionary nearly 500 years ago. His treatment of others despite their beliefs, gender, race, or status were fantastic. He acted the act when he needed to but always to achieve a goal to ultimately help people. And he suffered… more than any man should.

If you’ve never read Follett before, you are truly missing out. If you’ve not read this 3-book series, you are missing out. It’s nearly 3,000 pages in total, but you don’t have to read all 3. You can choose just one and read them out of order. They’re set about 100 years apart, so you may miss a few details and connections, but nothing to throw you off. I’m going to be in a book daze for weeks. And maybe years since I don’t expect him to write another one in the series, but if he does, it will be at least 5 years based on the last few. This makes me sad. But I can always re-read them. And I will. They are that good. Seriously… who chooses to re-read 3000 pages again?

Huge amounts of plot and drama. Sometimes you’ll think “that’s just too much” but truly…. much of this ACTUALLY happened. It may have been different characters or a slightly different order. But people were cruel back then. They killed for no reason. Religion was a mega prompt for doing bad things. (Hey, wait, that happens today, too…). So in theory, this is such a statement about people and life and the lessons we fail to learn century after century. But for the most part, I look at this as a way to step into a different world, one that fascinates me. I forget any true facts I know about the life of these monarchs and pretend it’s all new to me. It makes me smile. I rush to the book each night to devour more pages. And I gush… because this was a buddy read with my friend Noriko in Japan. I can’t wait to catch up with her about this again!

I’ll end here not because I am out of things to say, but because I have so many more books to read. And I’d rather chat about it than extend my review. So if you’ve read it, message me. Would love to discuss Follett with ya!

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. 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.

Book Review: Origin by Dan Brown

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When Origin, the fifth in the Robert Langdon series by Dan Brown, was published last Fall, I couldn’t wait to read it. Unfortunately, I had several ARCS, giveaways, and commitments that forced me to hold off until just this week to read it – nearly 5 months of misery. I cried when my fellow readers published reviews and I couldn’t look at them. I kicked things when the book mocked me on the shelf. Then my wonderful blogger friends voted for this as the book they wanted me to read in February on my Book Bucket List! So I survived and made it my priority this week… in the end, it was a good read and I will always enjoy Brown’s style, plots and characters. I’m giving this one 3.5 out of 5 stars and will rate either a 3 or 4 on each of the book sites depending on their ratings meanings.

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The story is quite intriguing, as always. A man holds a press conference to reveal that he has found the answers we’ve all been searching for: (1) Where did we come from, and (2) Where are we going? It kicks off a series of events including his murder, the ire of many established world religions and the envy of historians and cultural icons. Langdon pairs up with the future Queen of Spain who runs the museum where the murder occurs, then they travel the country to discover all the answers.

The scenery, setting, and backgrounds are marvelous. Brown is highly adept at giving readers exactly as much as they need to picture the story without coloring it in too much… a few blurry edges for personal imagination. The sheer intensity of the research he must have done in the worlds of science, religious, museums, Spain and art is admirable. The volume of characters, the who is good versus who is evil balance, the red herrings, the small and large steps during the chases… all of these facts and the enveloped tone completely make this a 5 star read from those perspectives.

But then I started comparing it to his previous novels, to other works in this sub-genre and to his overall approach in telling the story. It fell short for me. There weren’t enough side stories. The characters were flatter than usual. I would love to have seen a bigger story about the Spanish royalty’s influence and history (other than Franco) in regard to science, evolution and romance. There were no scenes except a memory between the prince and his future consort, so I didn’t root for them. Langdon almost felt like a secondary character in the book. And the various sects of religious and military groups involved in the story seemed too fluid and/or disorganized in terms of the bigger picture. It made the story less interesting as I couldn’t really latch onto any specific character. Even Langdon had a minimal connection to the man who was murdered… despite being professor and student, we saw very little memories of a bond between them. Throw in a few conversations at a pub bonding over a theory, or an argument over the church, something to connect them for us in the present.

That said, I do enjoy these types of novels and there was enough to keep my interest. It just wasn’t a consistent page-turner throughout the whole book. I’ll still read the next one. And I’ll always be in awe of the author’s intelligence, world knowledge and style.

 

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.

Book Review: The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

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I read The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom several year ago and just realized I never wrote a review… so it gets a mini one from memory. I enjoyed this book. It had a great voice, interesting characters and good messages. I liked how each of the 5 people were connected in different ways, some surprise. The style grabs you. I thought it was a good intro to learn more about how this author writes. Spiritual without getting too religious. Witty and charismatic on some levels. Endearing to see how you watch other people live, as well as guess what happens when you die. I will definitely read more from the author.

oks

 

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.

Book Review: Prayer for the Dead by James Oswald

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Why This Book 
About 6 months ago, I won a Goodreads giveaway from the publisher, Crooked Lane. They accidentally shipped this book instead of the one I had won. Rather than pull it back, they let me keep the book, but I hadn’t gotten to read it. On my quest to close out all ARCs, giveaways and books on my shelves before I download or buy anything new, Prayer for the Dead, the fifth book in the Inspector McLean thriller and mystery series, published in 2015, and written by James Oswald, was the oldest in my queue, as I work why way through the TBR I actually have copies of. I rarely read in the middle of a book series, but with 4 books prior to this one, it was too much to go back to the beginning, so I’ll start here…

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Plot, Characters & Setting 
Set in current times in Edinburgh, UK, Inspector Tony McLean battles politics within his local police precinct and journalists with whom he has a very unsteady relationship. He’s also protecting a few local neighbors who are being vandalized and trying to re-build his former tenement after some accident that occurred in the previous novels. One of the journalists approaches McLean to ask for help with a missing colleague. Readers already know the colleague was sadistically killed in the opening chapter by someone with pseudo-religious or Masonic beliefs. A few bodies build up, and the cases all begin to collide. McLean learns he may actually be connected with the killer from many years earlier, and sets off to stop the serial murders with very little information. Includes some graphic violence, medical lingo, and police procedural language. No romance or side-stories, other than what he’s doing with his old tenement. A few minor things that might be good to know from prior books, but it can be read stand-alone.

Approach & Style 
I read the 340-page hardcover over 2 days in about 5 hours. Through ~75 chapters, the novel includes both 1st person and 3rd person POV. The killer appears in several chapters, disguised and talking to readers in 1st person POV, but the rest is mostly from McLean’s 3rd person POV. Perspective follows both around as crimes are committed and investigated.

Given it’s a police procedural, about some very religious and historical beliefs, and set partially in a medical environment, it’s not a run-of-the-mill thriller — there are many levels of technical details to weed through, particularly when it comes to UK police departments. I had no idea which type of investigator was more senior than the others, and they often refer to each other as Sir or Ma’am, so I was a tad lost. Not enough to stop me from reading, but enough that I wouldn’t say it was totally easy to adapt to for an American. Put a little chart in the back, please!

Strengths 
It’s complex, full of mystery and has lots of page-turning moments. There are enough characters to keep you guessing. The interweaving POV and perspective is handled adeptly. I liked the story and the way in which the murders occurred and how the investigations took place. Very detailed-oriented, and this makes me a happy reader! I also like the author’s writing style and feel connected to the development of the chapters and overall way things were described.

Concerns 
For one, the ending was way too quick. You don’t discover who the killer is or what his/her connection is to McLean until the last 15 pages. If that were the only concern, I’d probably have given this 4-stars; however, it was confusing and didn’t wrap up all the plot lines. I still don’t truly understand who was murdered years ago, whether the killer came back from the dead, or why one of the victims even died. Or even how the religious components truly fit in with all the other characters. I unfortunately must say this did not get fleshed out as well as it needed to be. Even if it’s a mystery thriller series, and more will be revealed later, as a whole book, it lacked a cohesive story that clearly set out the who/what/when/where/why of the crime.

Final Thoughts 
If this were the first book in the series, I’d have definitely passed on any future reads. Knowing it’s made it’s way to 5 books, through a traditional publisher, I’m certain I must be missing something, or that perhaps the earlier books were better. I probably won’t pick up another one, given my long TBR list, but I’d be curious to hear from anyone who has read the author before… what did I miss?

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.