The Captain won't be joining you for dinner this evening.

Murder on the SS Rosa
A Ginger Gold Mystery, #1
Lee Strauss
La Plume Press, May 2017

Kindle, 182 Pages
Also available in paperback
Genre(s) Cozy Historical Mystery
Source Author's rep

Other books in this series

Murder at Hartigan House #2, Murder at Bray Manor #3, Murder at Feathers & Flair #4, Murder at the Mortuary #5 (Jan 2018), Murder at Kensington Park (TBA), Murder at St. George's Church (TBA)

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

What it's about...  

Mrs. Ginger Gold is a widow and quite the fashionista. She is also a Lady and along with her dog, Boss and her companion and friend, Haley Higgins, is on her way from New York to London to settle her recently deceased father's estate. Haley was a nurse in the war and is going to London to attend medical school and become a doctor. They are sailing on the SS Rosa.

The captain of the Rosa is Captain Walsh. His wife, Mrs. Walsh is traveling with him. His mistress, Nancy Guildford, is also traveling with him. Ms. Guilford, an actress and total fashionista, travels with a companion, an older woman named Patty Applebaum.

When Captain Walsh is found dead before dinner, Ginger offers her sleuthing services to another passenger. Chief Inspector Basil Reed of Scotland Yard also is traveling on the Rosa. Though hesitant to accept her assistance, eventually he realizes Ginger's too deeply involved not to let her help him solve the puzzle. Together they snoop out all the dark secrets in the nick of time.

Technical Tidbits...  
The cover is wonderful. The elegance of the minimal elements on it makes it really worth looking at. The use of just two fonts that work so well together. The lovely female used as Ginger Gold off to the side on the golden oval. The picture of the ship that relates to this storyline. Then the clip art elements used on the side in a darker shade as the color of the text. Add that the color palette is so harmonious. It is just a wonderful cover for a cozy, historical mystery. I've looked at the other books in the series and they also use this format. The color palette and pictures change to match the story in the book. Wonderful choice!

The storyline is very good. There are enough secrets and twists and turns that it really holds your attention.

The characters are interesting. They have some really fun quirks. I love it that Ginger is always worried about what she will wear and is she going to be outdone by another woman. This time she's simply blown away by the actress, Nancy Guilford with her Hollywood wardrobe. I'm sure we'll see this funny trait in other books.

The pace felt rather leisurely, though it really moved along quite well. I think it was the tone and time that made it seem that way.

The tension was often relieved by little asides such as Boss problems like not leaving him in the stateroom all day. She also got distracted with her concern for Scout, her little friend from the crew. The tension also peaked with her run-in with the head chef, Chef Babineaux. That was scary, but it didn't seem to lead anywhere. 

And this is where you STOP if you don't want to see any SPOILERS...

The good, the bad, and the ugly...and how much it lit up my life... ✰✰✰✰

I loved the character of Ginger Gold. She's a Lady, but she doesn't use her title often. I'll bet she won't hesitate to use it in England if it'll be useful, though. And her fascination for fashion and outdressing all the other women in her sphere. Too fun! I have to wonder if we'll see Chief Inspector Basil Reed again. How long will she spend in England? Or will she return to America soon?

Ms. Strauss has a wonderful imagination. Going back to this time creates a treasure chest of stuff to work with. She has all the fashion she wants for Ginger since it was such a pivotal time for fashion with the establishment of the great fashion houses. The Golden Age and lots of rich people to rub elbows with on either shore. Haley Higgins is getting into medicine as a doctor, which is precocious, but not totally original. Once she has her training, she could be such a help to Ginger in her cases. And she always has Boss as a distraction if she needs him. Now that she's met the Chief Inspector, she also has a connection to Scotland Yard, which I'm sure she'll take advantage of.

And, of course, there is her title. She's a lady. Her entre into society goes without saying. From the titles of the books, I'm guessing she stays in England. She has carte blanch to cut a swath through London's upper crust and possibly find the next Mr./Lord. Hmmm. The possibilities...

857 wc

Can these two handle her?

Between a Wolf and a Hard Place
NorCal Shifters, Books 1-6
Annalise Nixon
Self-Pub, Jan 2016
Kindle, 338 Pages
Only in digital format
Genre(s) Paranormal, Menage a Trois
Source Author's rep

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

What it's about... 

Iris is sweet, sassy, and curvy. She's also been kidnapped. Iris, her sister, and her BFF were grabbed by some really nasty guys. The gals swore they would get free and make sure that all three of them were safe. Then they were drugged. When Iris woke up, her sister and friend were gone. She managed to get away from the two guys who had her, but when she woke up again, two different guys had her. And they couldn't have been more different. These guys were both really hot looking, built, and tattooed. 

Barron and Evan were BFFs, too. They did everything together. Evan even joined Barron's wolf pack, though he wasn't a wolf. They had always hoped to find the right woman to share for the rest of their lives. To them, Iris seemed like a gift. She's lovely, curvy, and tattooed. What more could they possibly want?

Iris has her mind set on freedom and finding her sister and BFF. Can Barron and Evan change her mind long enough to make her theirs? 

Technical Tidbits...  
The cover just didn't seem to work. The picture of the threesome at the top seems too dark to see the separate people, so it's just heads and hair. And the font used for the title is just outlandish. It's hard to read and outdated. I did like the wolf and bear in the lower third.

The storyline was good. It was full of twists and turns. Information kept popping up and things kept changing. 

The characters were well developed and we learned more with each chapter. With Iris, most of her information was upfront and she shared it. With Barron, most of his came towards the beginning. But with Evan, we had to wait until later on to get to know him very well. But it was worth the wait.

The pace was a bit irregular. Sometimes we were running around trying to get away and others we were just sitting around the cabin being bored. It sort of stuttered.

The tension was a bit uneven because of the pace and some of the characters.

And this is where you STOP if you don't want to see any SPOILERS...

The good, the bad, and the ugly...and how much it lit up my life... ✰✰✰⭒

Iris was what the average guy seemed to consider a little on the "chubby" side. Full-figured? The first guys who kidnapped them made snarky comments about her figure calling her "the fat one". So when she was first with Barron and Evan she didn't expect that they would like her figure. She really had hang-ups about her appearance. She didn't expect men to be attracted to her. But they really liked what they thought of as curvy and sexy. In fact, it seemed like all the wolves in the pack thought that about her. Certainly, Bryce and Shane shared that thought about her. She had self-esteem issues, but both of the guys went to work on those right away, and they got through to her. I really like the fact that they realized she had issues and they immediately went to work bolstering her up in that regard. They also genuinely liked her figure, so that helped. But they did it all with intent.

Evan isn't a wolf, but he and Barron have been together so long and so close, sharing everything including women that it's just one more thing to share. And the pack seems to accept him for what he is. He's certainly useful in a fight. But Evan decides Iris needs the support of the pack and he should bow out, he really hurts her. Without talking to her about what he was doing, why he was doing it, or whether or not she wanted it. He just shut down!  Shut off!

When Iris gives Barron the choice of her and the pack or Barron, he panics and she's hurt again. That's when Shane steps up and becomes her friend and confidant. Finally, someone, she can talk to and relax with. But he's also in charge of security and under orders to take good care of her. Since the three have gone through a mating ceremony, the pack will take care of its own if the guys can't get their heads screwed on straight. It's wonderful that Shane becomes such a great friend, but it's too bad that he has to be ordered to do it. They did have a rocky start, but still, it would have been nice for it to be a genuine friendship from the beginning. They did become real friends in the course of the pretend just because Iris is a really great person.

But someone better make up their mind pretty soon because the Montgomery Pack is already in town and they want Iris. It appears they already have Sherry, Iris' BFF. No need to worry there, though. It seems Barron's brother, Alexander, the one that's 10 minutes older and a heck of a lot tougher, is going to rescue her. Don't know much about him, yet. I'm hoping Sherry and Alexander have the next book. He sounds rather intriguing. 

938 wc

Totally Convoluted & Amazing!

Love Reconsidered: A Novel
Phyllis J. Piano
Spark Press, Aug 2017
Kindle, 297 Pages
Also available in paperback
Genre(s) Family, Grief, Women's Lit
Source Author's Rep

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

What it's about...

Two families are in shock and grieving for the death of Stu, a young man they all loved deeply. He was the son of two of them, Ted and Gerrie. And he was Sunny's boyfriend, the love of her life. Her parents, Durk and Aleen were very fond of him as well.

He was killed in a freak accident following some shocking news by a young man named Vincent who is also trying to deal with the aftermath of it all.  

How do they all deal with not only the shocking news that sent Stu running into the night but the pain of his death? How much can each one take before they break? Can any good come of all this?

Technical Tidbits...  
The cover is exquisite with the pristine white background and the spill of scarlet rose petals looking like drops of blood. So vibrant!

The storyline is totally convoluted and amazing! I think this is the type of story we should always be expecting from Ms. Piano. I really don't think she will ever write a simple story.

The characters were all wonderful. Totally rounded with good depth and real personalities. Each had realistic quirks and idiosyncrasies. 

The pace was good, picking up at times to be rather frantic as the author threw things at us almost faster than we could process.

The tension stayed high throughout the whole book. I just kept waiting to see how this would all work out. I cried lots of tears along with the characters. I got mad at them a lot, too. And there were a few times that I was disappointed in one or two of them.

And this is where you STOP if you don't want to see any SPOILERS...

The good, the bad, and the ugly...and how much it lit up my life... ✰✰✰✰✰

The beginning of the book had me totally fooled about how this was going to go. Ted, Stu's father, seemed almost like he was gay. He's playing house with his new place and has the two corgis now. He invites Sunny and Aleen over for the football games. Then he and Aleen get makeovers and go for counseling. He just seems gay sort of playing with the girls. But he's not. It was totally misleading.

Sunny meets some friends at school and they create a study group. She gets really close to two of them, Dawn and Benjamin. She tells them the story of what happened with Stu and his parents and hers and they are very supportive of her. The study group evolves and each of the kids becomes part of each others' families and really close. Eventually, Sunny begins to heal and she allows Benjamin in. He has been very patient with her, letting her know that he wants more than just friendship whenever she is ready. And eventually, she is ready.

I didn't like Gerrie, she wasn't a very likable person. She was all about her job and she seemed to be grumpy all the time. Gerrie went to the doctor and came home with the diagnosis that pulled everyone in and made them all have to work together. Her diagnosis makes everything sort itself out and helps everyone get over all the pain and anger. They had more to think about.

I don't know how realistic this ending would be in today's society. I keep thinking how it would work realistically. I don't know if it would work or not, but it does make a really great ending to a book. I can't recommend this to you enough! 

Love Reconsidered is being released 
Wednesday, November 1, 2017

679 wc

To Each His Ghost #0.5 prequel
S.M. Boyce
Self-Pub, Mar 2016
Kindle, 25 Pages
Only in digital
Genre(s) Paranormal, Ghost
Source Author

Other books in this series

Ari #1

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

What it's about... Mel is five years old when she makes a pinky promise with a ghost named Hazel. She promises to never leave him. And you know you can't break pinky promises, right? Especially to a ghost.

Ghosts can be scary. And little girls grow up and forget things. But once you have a ghost, you always have a ghost. Mel is in her twenties and married to Greg. They have a little boy named Dorian who's just learning to say a few words. 'Puppy' is a new word, but Mel didn't teach it to Dorian. 

Hazel is back and this time he's brought a monster with him who just might look something like a puppy, but it's still a monster.

But Greg doesn't see ghosts or demons... 

Technical Tidbits...  
The cover is a bit disappointing to me because it's mostly text. I do love that big, bold font, but I prefer something that relates to the book, the story. The handprint and eye just don't really do that for me, though they are creepy. The cover is consistent throughout the series as far as I've seen.

The storyline is very good. In this case, the cliffhanger works for both the story and as an introduction to the series. I wouldn't normally say that, but from here you would have to deal with a psychologist who also sees ghosts. Does he say you're sane because he also sees ghosts? He'd be locked up with you in a heartbeat. Does he say you're insane because you see ghosts, alienate you, and not be able to help you deal with your situation?  

The characters were not too highly developed as this was never intended to be a full novel. This is a teaser for the series. So what we get here is a brief introduction to some of the characters in the series or one of the books. I haven't read forward, so I really don't know, yet, what's ahead.

The pace was fast. In 25 pages we moved from Mel's childhood to her parenthood. And the only question I had was how did she and Greg meet.

The tension was chilling. I'm not normally a horror fan. And this one isn't going to change me to one. But this is very well done with the tension picking up as soon as they pinky promise because you know how those things go. And the chill still runs up and down my back when I'm writing this after I've closed the book.

And this is where you STOP if you don't want to see any SPOILERS...

The good, the bad, and the ugly...and how much it lit up my life... ✰✰✰✰

I really don't like reading short prequels like this. And I won't be reviewing them alone anymore. I'll be reviewing them with the first book of the series from now on. But this one was already on my TBR&R list, so I had to do it. Also, S.M. Boyce is one of my favorite newly discovered writers and I'd probably cut her some slack.

On the cover there's the handprint that would be bloody, I think if it weren't green. It has an eye in it. This is going to be the same throughout the series from what I can see. Only the color scheme will change from book to book. I'm not sold on this. I really like a cover to relate to the book I'm reading. I suppose this eye and its bloody handprint are relevant because these are paranormal ghostly horror stories. 

If I'm still spooked from reading 25 pages by the author, I don't think I will hold up to a full-length novel of this genre by her. I don't think I'd be able to go to sleep at night. But for those of you who enjoy the total chills and thrills of this sort of story, I recommend S.M. Boyce's To Each His Ghost series. Currently, there is only the prequel and the first book, Ari. But I believe book #2 is due out reasonably soon.

758 wc

P.S. from Paris
Marc Levy translated by Sam Taylor
Self-Pub, Sep 2017
Kindle, 290 Pages
Also available in paperback, audiobook
Genre(s) Contemporary Romance, Foreign
Source Author's rep

Other books by this author

If Only It Were True, All Those Things We Never Said, Replay

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

What it's about... 

Mia is an actress whose husband David, an actor, has cheated on her once more. In spite of currently starring in the same film with her husband, Mia flees London to hide in her friend's Paris cafe as a waitress.

Paul is trying to recapture his initial success by living in Paris. He thinks he may be in love with his Korean translator, though he can't quite understand why his books are so popular in Korea. 

Arthur, BFF of Paul, and his wife Lauren stop by to see Paul while on vacation. They hook Paul and Mia up on a dating service and hope for the best.

Can two ex-pats solve the problems of the world as well as their own love lives while staying "just friends"? They can try.

Technical Tidbits...  
The cover is mostly writing, but I'm a softie for couples under umbrellas. It's not great, but it's bright and open and it catches the eye. It certainly relates to the story, as well.

The storyline is very interesting and well executed, I felt. A novel way of handling the romance formula of bringing together the lovers who start about as far apart as they could be. It could only be worse if they really disliked each other.

The characters were well developed. You got to know them quickly and they became more rounded out as the story went on. You learned their secrets and idiosyncrasies. You could almost predict what would make them twitch.

The pace was very good. It was fast through the whole story with few exceptions. It kept you focused and totally involved in what the characters were doing, even the secondary characters were interesting.

The tension was there all the way to the end when it finally snapped.

And this is where you STOP if you don't want to see any SPOILERS...

The good, the bad, and the ugly...and how much it lit up my life... ✰✰✰✰

I kept wondering through the whole book why Paul never questioned why his books were so popular in Korea. Why he didn't check that situation out before it reached the point it did. Of course, then it would have spoiled the story. He really had his head down trying not to see what was really going on.

And his Korean translator/mistress who he suddenly decides he's in love with who he doesn't communicate with between books? What's with that? How can he see that as any sort of normal relationship? He's really hiding from life completely. Arthur and Lauren are right to try to get him involved with a real person!

There's the other side of Paul, though. Like when he takes Mia not to the opera but on top of the opera. Yes, he takes her to the rooftop of the opera house to see Paris at night. If that's not a romantic gesture, nothing is. They got in trouble for doing it, but OMG, imagine it! All of Paris at your feet! Lit up at night! Breathtaking. 

And at the Book Faire when everyone is talking about the wrong books, he can't seem to stop them. Because of politics, no one can change the program from what it has been scheduled to be without causing a lot of trouble and people getting into serious trouble. So he can't even really ask what's going on. And the Korean mistress is nowhere! Finally, he gets to sit and talk with the American Ambassador's partner and he has some idea about what's going on. Then his Korean editor shows up and lo and behold look who she is! She tells him the truth about her story and why it had to be a secret. I kept wondering why the political party allowed the books to be printed if they were that incendiary. It would be nothing to them to simply destroy the whole publishing company. But apparently, they allowed several books to be published.

Then Mia disappears and Paul writes his best book yet. He writes Kyong's story. He wins a huge writing award. And then he tells the story behind it all publically.

I loved the way the author ended this. The scene he created is very European in tone. And very romantic!

799 wc

Betrayal of Thieves
Legends of Dimmingwood, #2
C. Greenwood
Self-Pub, Dec 2012
Kindle, 181 Pages
Also available in paperback, audiobook
Genre(s) dystopian fantasy
Source purchased

Other books in this series

Magic of Thieves #1, Circle of Thieves #3, Redemption of Thieves#4, Journey of Thieves #5, Rule of Thieves #6

My Disclaimer:
I purchased a copy of this book at the current price. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

What it's about...  

Following the Fists' raid on the band's hideout, Ilan returns to collect her hidden stash and runs into Terrac. Terrac is there to say good-bye to Ilan. He's finally going to continue on to become a priest as was intended before he was captured by the band. Their goodbye is interrupted by the Fists and they make a run for it.

Terrac isn't as quick as Ilan and ends up badly wounded and taken by the Fists. Ilan has to run. She meets up with a thief named Fleet and she gets to see the underside of the Praetor's city and meet some of it's less savory residents.

Ilan and Fleet set off to locate the priest, Hadrian, with the River folk to get his help because Ilan has decided she has to rescue Terrac from the Praetor's prison. She can't leave him suffering in the hands of the Fists.

Ilan is a girl with big, natural magic in a man's world that has banned magic and destroys those who have it. And somehow she is tied to the Praetor himself, something her parents never told her, something hidden.

Technical Tidbits...  
The cover is done by Michael Gauss for the whole series. They are magical! Absolutely wonderful! They catch your eye, they hold your attention. They relate to the story. They are beautiful artwork. C. Greenwood has chosen very well with these covers.

The storyline was ambitious but didn't seem to quite work out. It sort of fell apart at the end.

The characters have been developing since the first book and will continue through the whole series, I'm sure. Fleet was new and developed very quickly. He became a full-blown character in just a couple of chapters. Ms. Greenwood has a magical touch with characters.

The pace was a bit uneven, fast and frantic for awhile and then just sort of stop and totally idle. 

The tension was not maintained throughout the book because the pace kept changing and you'd wonder what was going on and the story would seem to wander off a bit.

And this is where you STOP if you don't want to see any SPOILERS...

The good, the bad, and the ugly...and how much it lit up my life... ✰✰✰

I had to put this book down and read something else to clear my mind. This is only 181 pages, but for some reason, it seemed to go on and on. I think this series would have been better done as just a couple of larger books and just tighten some things up. This doesn't feel like it should have been a book. It feels like a section of a book that's been stretched to be a book.

The storyline was meant to be a grand quest of rescuing Terrac from the Fists' prison, but he didn't need rescuing. He was wearing fine clothes and riding around with the Praetor's hunting party and training with the Fists themselves. No grand quest. It was a dud.

This whole book is held together by the characters. Ilan, Terrac, Fleet, Hadrian, and the Praeter are the anchors and the story just sort of bounces off them. The overarching story is the real grand quest and deserves to be done as a duology or trilogy so that it can be handled in depth and detail. Stretching it to these six short books has diluted it and distracted from the actual story. I intend to read the whole series of six books because I want to read the whole story, but I would have preferred to do it in fewer, richer books. It is available in a set of the six books, and if you decide to read it I suggest buying it this way and going through the whole thing as one story.

732 wc

LIMABEAN DESIGNS announces Premade Cover Group

Limabean Designs now has a Premade Cover Group. Beautifully designed premades in all different genres. Seasonal sales are offered. If you are in need of a cover, look no further! All covers made with love! Send a request to be added to the group. 

Aquamarine Sea, #1
Karen Stensgaard
Sandefur Metz Publishing Company, May 2017
Kindle, 285 Pages
Also available in paperback
Genre(s) Women's Lit, Debut Novel
Source Author

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

What it's about...  

Kat has been widowed for about a year now. She's just closed down her internal audit business and isn't quite ready to move into a new field. She gets the idea from a picture on a bottle of Aquavit to take a cruise on a vintage clipper ship. In the process, she seems to be attracting men that she's not sure are right for her. Which man might be right for her and wait until her cruise is done? The cruise certainly seems to be very authentic. She has to have a wardrobe appropriate to the time of clipper ships and can't take any technology with her. How intriguing. 

Technical Tidbits...  
The cover is certainly colorful enough to catch the eye and has the bottle of Aquavit on it with the picture of the clipper ship. However, the overall look of the cover was just too garish to me. The mosaic background didn't create the right background for the bottle. The bottle just got lost in all that color and wasn't the focus. Something a bit quieter would have been better, I think.

The storyline was pretty good, but it's obviously only part of the story. Those of you who have read me for any time now know how I feel about stories that rely on more than one book to tell a story. For those of you who are new to my blog, I'll enlighten you. I feel a book should contain a complete story. It may be part of a larger story or a series, but you should not have to buy more than one book to get a story. I don't like cliffhangers or limp closings in books. I don't mind having questions when there is a continuing story as long as the book I'm reading has an ending to it. It needs to be the logical stopping point in a larger story if it's not a story all its own.

The characters needed more developing, but I suppose that will happen over time with the next book.

The pace was good. Kat is one of those characters that things just keep happening around and who doesn't sit still for long. She moved on from one thing to another and didn't let the dust settle.

The tension was amazing. I remember when I got to the last page I let out my breath, not realizing I'd been holding it. I had to let the tension go! But a cliffhanger, Ggrrrrhhh...

And this is where you STOP if you don't want to see any SPOILERS...

The good, the bad, and the ugly...and how much it lit up my life... ✰✰✰⭒

I'm sure you can guess what my big beef is with this book. I just can't stand it when a book ends on an extremely stressful cliffhanger. I don't know what the author has planned for this book, but this is the type of thing I'm used to seeing from self-published authors. Not from publishing houses. But since the author is the publishing house, I guess that really makes this a self-published work and that changes things. There really does tend to be a different tone to books that are published by publishing houses as compared to those that are self-published. That's not to take anything away from self-published authors. I really support them and am always happy to read and review their books. And I do love them! I do, however, find a difference in what I read because of editors and such. 

Now, back to the book. The three men in Kat's life were great. I thought they were a really nice assortment. Greg and his snap changes of personality. Charlie and his possible ulterior motives, and Matteo and his possible outside interests. They were all nice enough to be possibilities, but then they all had their faults as well. I really didn't like Greg from the beginning because of his age. The other two were okay until I found out about Matteo's little secret. Then when Kat finally manages to get to Denmark to see her brother-in-law and his unwelcoming wife, she gets told her husband had been planning on leaving her when he died. How could that be? And because she didn't need him anymore? Strange idea. Interesting concept to set off on a clipper ship with, though.

I'm intrigued with this clipper ship business. They have asked all sorts of questions. They have made all sorts of rules about what she can and cannot take. She has to have clothing that is authentic to the clipper ship time. She can't take anything from modern times with her. They pack it up and take it away! Even underwear! It makes you wonder just what is going to happen on this cruise. And she has just met three men. Is she really going to leave behind three new men while she sails off for months all alone? 

I have no idea when the next book is due out, but it should be interesting to see what happens and how many books this story is intended to last for. The author's profile says she has more books with Kat's adventures underway, so let's hope we don't have to wait for the next installment.

Please, sit down and eat with us...again.

Gone With the Wings
Meera Patel, Book #1
Leena Clover
Self-Pub, Jun 2017
Kindle, 243 Pages
Also available in paperback
Genre(s) Asian-American Cozy Mystery/Food
Source Author's Rep

Other books in this series

A Pocket Full of Pie #2, For a Few Dumplings More #3, Back to the Fajitas #4

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

What it's about... 

Meera Patel is an Asian-American woman who has dropped out of grad school and now works at the local university library shelving books and telling students where to go. Yeah...

Meera's father is a highly regarded professor at this university and has an assistant that Meera absolutely can't get along with. The two young women have been enemies since they were young children. They even have trouble being polite to one another.

So when the assistant is found floating in a pond, Meera is the logical suspect. Even some of her friends and family look at her strangely. Then she is accused of a second crime and has no defense.

Meera's best friend, Tony, runs the gas station in town. He and Meera start trying to work out who really did it and if the two crimes are related so the police will stop harassing Meera.  

Technical Tidbits...  
The cover is rather delightful with its folk art painting look. The lovely medium teal blue with the fall colors against it really makes a lovely eye-catching color scheme. And the style of the artwork is charming. High marks for the cover!

The storyline was rather good. It's one I'm sure we've all read in any number of books and seen in movies. But Ms. Clover has added some aspects to distract from that.

The characters, for instance, were highly attractive and diverse given their culture and the fact that they still participated in the many aspects and festivals of their culture. They wore the costumes and used the many props of their culture without embarrassment or stigma. They kept the richness of their cultural activities alive through the celebration of their holidays, clothing, and food. Particularly their food. 

The pace was brisk and kept your attention on what was happening or might be coming up next. It seemed that there was always something going on. Usually another meal. The tension wasn't significantly helped by all the things that went on. Some things simply happened and really didn't seem to move the story along in any way. It was a side activity.

And this is where you STOP if you don't want to see any SPOILERS...

The good, the bad, and the ugly...and how much it lit up my life... ✰✰✰✰

I obviously don't like food anywhere near as much as the author does. It seemed like any time Meera stopped to breathe in the book, she had to eat. Whether she cooked the food or someone else provided the food. And we were treated to a full description of every item she ate. If she cooked it, we were given the whole list of ingredients and had to cook with her. They even talked about food a lot. It got to a point that I started skipping those parts. I hope I didn't miss anything important.

I did like the way Ms. Clover defined the relationship between Meera and Tony. They obviously had been friends since they were children and have remained close. They are just waiting for the right time to take their relationship over the line to make it more than a friendship. It was only mentioned once, but it set the tone for how they interacted with each other and others.

I'm not convinced of the believability of the conclusion. It just didn't seem feasible to me. Two schools, two states, two countries. Just too disparate for me. Just my opinion.

A question for the future series...
Who was the woman in the rental car who picked up the missing girl and was she the same woman who followed Tony and Meera to Wichita? Could it be she's finally fallen out of the tornado? I know that's more than one question, but it's all tied together as you'll see once you read the book.

728 wc

What's the difference?

Fleet Week Romance, #1
Marie Johnston
Self-Pub, Jun 2015
Ebook, 66 Pages
Only in Digital Format
Genre(s) Contemporary Romance, Military Romance
Source Author

Other books in this series

Shooter #2

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

What it's about... 

Olivia has given David one last chance. If he stands her up again, they are finished. He can't accept that she's serious.

Kane is a Navy Lieutenant on a ship tied up at a pier in NYC for Fleet Week. He can't resist the lovely lady steaming over her phone at the table next to him.

With very limited time allowed by the ship, Kane works on convincing Olivia to attempt a long-distance relationship as his ship gets ready to leave on deployment for half a year or so. She agrees, but really isn't sure this is the thing for her or that it will work.

Can e-mail and the occasional phone call hold a relationship together? A fragile, new one? What's the difference between a workaholic boyfriend who stands her up and a boyfriend who isn't there and can only send emails? Olivia really has to think this one through.  

Technical Tidbits...  
The cover has that great blue with a Navy ship facing the Statue of Liberty so we know immediately where we are. In front of those is a very attractive young couple looking hot, but a bit shy, just like Kane and Olivia. And she's the one pulling back a bit. I think this cover really hits the spot on portraying the story and it's attractive into the bargain!

The storyline is very interesting and so much like real life. Having been in the Navy and married to a sailor, I'm aware of all sorts of ways sailors get together. When the ship is tied at the pier for a Fleet Week type thing, all sorts of things can happen. The wives who can, all travel to be their with their husbands wherever the ship has pulled in. The single guys go out on the town for the most part. 

And the lack of communication while the ship is underway is accurate. You never know when you'll be able to talk or send email. You write letters a lot, since you know those will be delivered fairly regularly. It's not easy, it takes effort.

The characters are great. They are real people you could get to know.

The pace is good. It's not terribly fast. The beginning has to move along because you have to feel they don't have much time. But then you have to feel the time dragging during the cruise while they are apart, so things slow down in the middle. They pick up again as the ship nears the end of the cruise and communication gets easier and Olivia starts to see what Kane was trying to tell her.

The tension is there throughout. I kept feeling like I should sit down and talk with Olivia about what Kane was going through and why it takes effort on both parties parts. And what a low-down dog her ex was!

And this is where you STOP if you don't want to see any SPOILERS...

The good, the bad, and the ugly...and how much it lit up my life... ✰✰✰✰✰

Olivia and Kane were absolutely adorable! They were both young, attractive people who just wanted to be in a solid relationship and be valued for what they were. Kane was the perfect man for Olivia to meet after the neglect she had suffered from David. Kane would almost worship her, and she needed someone who would really value her and bolster her up. It's not that she needed to be treated like a princess, but after being second best to David's ambition, she needed some bolstering.

Once she figured out what the difference is between a boyfriend who stands you up and one who just isn't there for months at a time, she starts to understand Kane more and more. And to value him!

When David pulls his nasty trick, I wanted to cry right along with Olivia. Did he really think that she would take him back if he did something like that? BUT, it bothered me that Kane immediately accepted what David said on the phone. Didn't he have any faith in Olivia? I know it was a strange situation, but why take David's word. Why didn't he ask to speak with Olivia?

This is only 66 pages, but there's a whole lot packed into it. The second book is about half again as long, so the series is getting larger, at least.

Turbulence and Triumph Books One & Two

Ocean's Justice
Ocean's Gift 
Turbulence and Triumph #1
Demelza Carlton
Lost Plot Press, Sep 2014
Kindle, 172 Pages
Also available in paperback
Genre(s) Fairy Re-tale in 6 Parts
Source Author

Ocean's Trial
Ocean's Gift 
Turbulence and Triumph #2
Demelza Carlton
Lost Plot Press, Sep 2014
Kindle, 158 Pages
Also available in paperback
Genre(s) Fairy Re-tale

Source Author

Other books in this series:
Ocean's Triumph #3, Ocean's Ride #4, Ocean's Cage #5, Ocean's Birth #6

My Disclaimer:
I was provided complimentary copies of these books. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

What it's about...Ocean's Justice 

This is the first part of six, so there is no ending to this book. The story stops at a stopping place and picks up in the next book. To get the whole story, you must read all six books. I'm reviewing only the two that I read. This first one finds our main character, Maria, adrift on a raft at sea. She's nude, speaks no English (the language of the sailors of this ship that "rescue" her), but understands some Dutch. She has memories of a ship's fire and men dying when the ship sunk. She remembers a man named Giuseppe. And she has been turned out of her home for some reason.

William McGregor is a handsome Scotsman. He's a passenger on the Trevessa, looking for a bit of adventure along with his employment. He's not adverse to a lovely lady either. Mr. McGregor gives Maria his protection as the superstitious sailors are all for tossing the beautiful woman back to the ocean when she can't tell them her story. Either that or raping her. But William can't be everywhere to protect her, even though he tries.

In spite of life boats and the Captain's infamous canned milk, the weather, the sea, and sailors' superstitions have their way. Once more, Maria is adrift at sea and picked up by another ship. This time she's better prepared. 

Technical Tidbits...  
The cover is a bit on the plain side to me. Though I liked it. There are two covers, it seems. The one I had is the one with the mermaid on it that I show above. I like the composition and all. I just think it needs more color and embellishment, a bit more drama to make it match the story that's in the book.

The storyline is good. It's not totally original as this is a retelling of the fairy tale, The Little Mermaid. I haven't read the original story. I suppose someday I should do that, since there are so many retellings of it these days. I should know what the original is, so I can tell what these other authors are changing or embellishing.

The characters were fairly good. It was difficult to really know any particular character. There wasn't a lot of background on anyone. I think Mr. McGregor got the most detail actually. Maria is still something of a mystery, though you are supposed to "know" her already by knowing what she is. Ms. Carlton added some interesting touches to the crew, like Mr. Kaito, the green-tea drinking cook with the interesting fighting style. And Captain Foster who wanted all life boats to be stocked with canned milk. There's also young Charlie, who thinks Maria should be his because of their age similarities. He keeps interrupting William and Maria to get her to come and do things with him. 

The pace was fast. Poor Mr. McGregor was kept really busy trying to keep Maria safe. Between the weather and the other sailors with their ill intent, he really had his hands full right up until the final storm. That's when Maria took a hand in things, too.

The tension was pretty consistent right up until the end. It was like waiting to see who was going to stick a knife in your back in a dark place. Who's going to kill William? Or who was going to get their hands on Maria? What will the next rescue lead to?

What it's about...Ocean's Trial 
This book starts off right where the first one ends. Maria's been rescued by an English-speaking crew again, but this time there's no threat to her life. She's been kept a secret and smuggled to shore in Freemantle to live with Merry D'Angelo, a very nice widow. Her command of English has improved greatly, thanks to Merry, and she's posing as Merry's niece, a fisherman's widow.

She's working hard alongside the fishermen helping sell their fish and has earned their respect because she really knows her fish. There's one young fisherman who feels a lot more than respect for her, too. Tony and Maria work closely together and are great friends, and Tony would like to take their friendship further. But her pasts are catching up with her. Yes. Pasts. She needs to find out what happened to William McGregor in that final storm. Is he still alive and does he still love her? But older connections are catching up with her as well. And these may prove deadly. 

Technical Tidbits...  
The cover wasn't one that I really cared for. I didn't feel it said much about the story. There were so many dramatic scenes that could have been depicted on it. What was used was disappointingly drab.

The storyline is again, a continuation of the retelling of The Little Mermaid story. The author has created a wonderful "down under" freedom to the story by placing it in Australia.

The characters continue to develop as the story continues. We learn so much more about Maria's story when she meets up with a significant person from her past. We learn more about how her species see humans, as well and how different she really is.

The pace continues fast and furious in this second book, especially once Maria decides to take off on her journey.

The tension remained consistent throughout this second book. While some questions were answered from the first book, there were more questions piled on that now need answers and make you want to pick up the third book to get them.

And this is where you STOP reading if you don't want any SPOILERS...

The good, the bad, and the ugly...and how much it lit up my life... ✰✰✰✰

I kept trying to remind myself that voyages such as these would take months to complete and that there would be plenty of time for Maria to learn the language. However, there was nothing in the story to make me slow down and keep that thought in my head. Everything was happening fast and furious, so it seemed like she was something of a "Super Woman" learning the language very quickly with William. Then when she was with Merry, she learned to speak and act like a lady in a very short time. That was another leap forward.

It wasn't just the language, either. She understood the value of those pearls when she found the moaning oysters. She understood the beauty of them for jewelry and had a necklace made, as well the the financial aspect of them and how to get the best price for them. All this for a simple girl from the sea? Hhmmmm...

When Maria has her confrontation with her mother, her mother says Maria should just seduce the human male and get pregnant, then kill him and come home to become the head of the Council. Since Maria's older sister is dead, it is Maria's duty. There is a comment made about the older sister's death, but no explanation about how she died. Is Maria responsible for her sister's death somehow? Is that why she is banned from her home? Is getting pregnant by a human the only way she will be allowed to come home? I'm still confused about that. I still want an answer to that part. But Maria doesn't see humans as disposable. She's in love with William. She loves Merry almost as a mother. She loves Tony sort of like a brother, but maybe as more. That's why she needs to find out if William is still alive and loves her.

BTW, this being adrift thing is getting a bit old. She starts out adrift on a raft and the Trevessa picks her up. Then the Trevessa sinks in a storm and she's adrift in a life boat for Merry's friends to find her. Then at the end there she stows away on the way to Christmas Island. That's almost as bad as adrift. One of these days, she's going to have to buy a ticket and get her own cabin. She probably doesn't have that kind of luck. Seems to me the story of The Little Mermaid is a sad one all the way to the end.

You need to understand that I really do judge covers! Not with stars, but I love a great cover on a good book. There were so many good things that could have been on this second cover. Maria could have been in a life boat. They could have used the pearls somehow and brought that part out. Or Maria perched on the ship as she stowed away to Christmas Island. Maria at the fish market with that huge fish that only she could identify would have been a great cover.



These are the four covers for the other books in this series. I haven't read these books (just the synopses), but I feel they probably could be better, too. The one I like the best, is the last one on Ocean's Birth. It shows the drama of what Maria is up again and the main cause of the drama without giving away any part of the story. It is so dark, though. 

50 Years is a Long Time to Keep a Secret

The Stationmaster's Cottage
A River End's Love Story, Book 1
Phillipa Nefri Clark
Feb 14, 2017, 340 pages

Also available in paperback
Genre(s) Historical Romance, Contemporary Romance
Source NetGalley

Other books in this series:  

Jasmine Sea Book 2

My Disclaimer:
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

What it's about... 

Christie is a professional make-up artist just back from a big photo shoot. She lives with Derek.

Derek is a real estate developer with tickets to go on holiday to Lizard Island before Christie's even unpacked. No problem, he's packed for her. Let's go! 

But just as they are going out the door, Christie receives a telegram from Angus, a long-time family retainer, telling her that Gran has died and Christie is needed for the estate and the funeral. Well, of course, she is. Gran was her only relative. Gran saw to her after her parents died. And now she's dead.

Christie arrives in River's End grieving for Gran, confused about Derek and their relationship, and exhausted beyond belief desperately trying to understand what's going on or more accurately, what's happened.

She needs sleep, answers, and support. None of which is going to happen anytime soon, it seems. Why has Gran left her the cottage? What is the story behind the damaged painting in the tube? Why were the love letters never opened? Who was the older woman in the cemetery? What does the handsome surfer have to do with all of this? Why is his dog so sweet and he's so surly? And why has Derek left her to deal with all of this on her own? 

Technical Tidbits...  
I loved the cover with the parchment as a reference to the old letters. The picture of the old cottage with the key to the cottage or the box were nice touches as well. And the red ribbon to tie the letters up was another nice reference to the story. Together they all created a charming cover for a wonderful story!

The storyline was great. The author took us back and forth between the two main relationships and time to tell the whole story, which created nice depth to both stories. It added nice depth to the characters as well as you learned things that happened before and during their youth and current times. 

The pace was good throughout. Each time I thought it might start to lag, it would pick right up. It was just time to take a breath before moving in another direction.

The tension never lets up from page one until the end. It holds your attention in a way that doesn't let you relax enough to put it down until you know all the answers to Christie's questions. The quality of the writing is such that you are able to work things out right along with her and sometimes a bit before her. No magical surprises at the very end that you couldn't have foreseen

And this is where you STOP reading if you don't want to see any SPOILERS...

The good, the bad, and the ugly...and how much it lit up my life... ✰✰✰✰✰

Here sits Christie with the funeral of her last relative, so she thinks, and a complete mystery on her hands; and her boyfriend has gone off on holiday and is scheming with another woman against Christie. Me? I would have had a bit more to say before my flight and I would have blocked all Derek's calls. I never would have taken a single one of them. Instead, she's justifying what's going on and planning to straighten their relationship out when she gets home. How they have to support each other. Be more aware of each other's needs. Hmmm. No.

All this time, Derek is partying and planning to do a real estate deal along with his friend Ingrid. They want to develop the land the cottage is on. And everyone seems to know this but Christie! I thought they did her a favor when they interfered with her next job. It gave her the excuse she wanted to change the focus of how she worked. She can be angry about their meddling, but she really can't be upset about the outcome.

Martin Blake, a local artist building a wider renown with his colorful paintings. So different from his grandfather's work. 
He's drawn to Christie but doesn't like the trouble that comes with her. His dog, Randall, adores her and he trusts Randall's judgment about people.

Now, if Martin would only stop shutting down and sit and talk with Christie about things. And if Christie would share her part of the story with him, they would have the story all put together probably by lunch on the third day with just a few gaps. Gaps that Angus can help them fill in by reading Gran's letter to Christie so she can find the last puzzle piece. But, no, neither one can share what they know. Of course, if they did this would be a short story instead of a novel.

Frannie claimed to love Thomas and to be the best friend of Martha, Gran's younger sister. The three of them were always together, friends. Thomas and Martha had just had their engagement party when Frannie played the first part of her nasty trick that split them up. What kind of best friend would do that? That's not love. That's possession, control, jealousy. Then to follow through with the second act, that was just evil. For a sister to stand by and knowingly allow it to happen is unforgivable. And to keep that secret from the two involved for 50 years is inexcusable. To pass it off to an unknowing young woman is cowardly. 

I loved the times that Christie got to be alone in the cottage and to explore and discover its treasures. She had learned to care for plants from Gran. To find that the cottage had orchards and gardens made her very happy. It was something she had been missing in her city life. She even enjoyed cleaning it and making it her own. Making it a home. These were the breathing moments among the mad tension of the mystery about the letters, the painting, the lovers, and the handsome surfer.