#BookReviews: #Mystery #TimeTravel #Memoir

Taking a break from syllabic poetry, I want to share the reviews of some fabulous books I’ve read this month. All four are my favorite authors (The Haunting… has been written by two perceptive stalwarts.) I have read one more brilliantly written book by our wordsmith – Diana. I would share it in my next post this week.

The Haunting of Chatham Hollow gives you a few hiccups in the beginning, oscillating between two timelines and many characters but soon picks up a steady pace and keeps you invested in the mystery as well as seances. A complex plot, ensconcing many stories, it is a combination of supernatural fantasy and cozy horror. 

The style of two authors mingles in a brilliant manner! Who seeks the hidden treasure of Ward Chatham and why? Would Chatham’s ghost reveal the secret? What is the significance of the curse? Many such questions keep gnawing at your heart till the end.

The strength of this book lies in the seances, each one more vivid, more captivating than the other, giving you the feeling of a real scene of a movie. Spiritualists and skeptics provide a balanced view but Ward Chatham adds a weird aura to the story.

Benedict is hardly a competitor for Victor, probably due to his nefarious designs and that is why the latter emerges to be my favorite character. All the characters have been crafted with equal astuteness and the most stunning one is the grandmother of Aiden. 

It is marvelous how all the links are woven together in the end. However, some of the details are superfluous; they hamper the pace of the book and eliminating them could have made it more thrilling. Highly recommended for all kinds of readers. 5 stars reading. 

Geller’s Find by Sandra Cox is an intriguing tale, a combination of western and time travel, with a cozy romance thrown in. True to her style, Cox dives into the story headlong, and keeps a brisk pace, never letting you waver an eyelid. While hiking through the majestic Great Basin, Luke’s love for artifacts leads him into the past, as he hurtles down into a deep hole, “whirling into a tube of rock”and reaches in the year 1882 where he meets Lily, a rancher. The vivid description of his journey, as if he were in an elevator is most captivating. Many questions would crop up in your mind – How would he get back? Will he stay and never go back? How would he find his bag that gets lost? Where would he stay? Can he adjust to the unfamiliar surroundings?

Cox’s characters are most realistic and the way they welcome Luke into their lives is heart-warming. Strong yet tender at heart, Saffron likes Luke but he keeps his distance, as he knows he doesn’t belong to their world. Stryker remains an enigma till the end though Luke is smart enough to see through his sinister plans. There is enough action to keep you enthralled. The book converts into a page-turner toward the end and much is left to the imagination of the reader. Pick up this book, you won’t be disappointed. 5 stars! 

The Winding Road is a poignant memoir of Miriam who was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma in one of her organs at the time of her hysterectomy. It was considered to be incurable. She was told that the survival rate was six to twelve months among the patients over the past twenty years. An experimental treatment was recommended and Miriam decided to go ahead with it. Her candid account of the treatment and suffering is extremely heart-rending.  My heart goes out to her, as she had the grit and the determination to walk through the unknown road, never losing sight of her destination. The positivity that kept her going despite the long waits, failing health and side effects of the chemo, is noteworthy. It was the most difficult path, with excruciating pains that she had to bear throughout the treatment, loss of appetite and weight loss.

Her persistence paid off; the blessings and prayers of her friends and family plucked her from the jaws of life-threatening cancer and she could fulfill her wishes of playing with her grandchildren. It requires great resilience to relive those moments while telling the story but Miriam chose to share it and I admire her fortitude. She has also shared some beautiful pictures of her family that reinforces how valuable this life is with our near and dear ones. 5 stars!

Happy reading! Thank you.

– Balroop Singh.

If you like poetry, here is my latest release  Hues Of Hope 

#BookReviews 5 #Stars for each one

You would be amazed at the variety of the books that I am sharing with you today. If the young adult adventurous story made me feel as young as Lily and Christy, Mateo’s blood brother kept me at the edge of my chair and A Long Walk Home reassured me that Angels of hope are always around us. I have read three more books but would like to share only those that earned 5 star reviews from me.

The Bloody Shoe Affair by Joy York is a brilliant YA adventurous story of two teenagers who dare to venture into dangerous avenues of investigating a double murder, as Lily believes an innocent man has been imprisoned. A first person account, with exciting details and teen talk; teen tone never wanes throughout the book, and that adds an extra charm to the carefully crafted dialogues, interspersed with a dash of humor despite a serious theme. Lily’s crazy idea of stuffing marshmallows in Christy’s bra and Troy asking if any of them were wearing perfume that smells like marshmallows cracked me up! 

Joy’s characters are crafted with immense dexterity. It is the inquisitive nature of Lily that draws her reticent cousin, Christy into her daredevil plans of sneaking into the basement to locate the old jail cell and talk to the potential murderer. She believes in taking risks, possesses an amazing skill of cooking up stories at the spur of the moment, and has an incredible convincing power to impress people. An incorrigible liar, intrepid and obdurate, Lily exudes enviable confidence, which inspires Christy who nurses doubts at each step and is scared that if they are caught, she might have to spend the rest of her summer in reform school.

The strength of this book is connected with its characters. You would love them despite their irrational feats of lying and spying. It captures the true behavior of youngsters. An enjoyable read!

Mateo’s Blood Brother: Sequel to Mateo’s Law is a dark tale of revenge, action-packed with fierce attacks by Delilah, who returns in this book with a vengeance. Undeterred by the responses of the Chief of Police, Jesse and Sheriff Mateo, the wicked shape shifter is too smart for the brothers. The chase keeps you guessing till the last page, concluding in an incredible manner. The budding romance of Mateo and Blair has matured in this book and there are some steamy love scenes in the middle of busy hours of the chase. 

Cox’s crisp style adds to the pace of the story, which moves forward quickly, the investigations sound genuine and the friendships amazing. All the characters have an unbelievable strength and refuse to give up despite serious injuries. She puts just the right emotion into the relationship of Mateo and Blair. A thread of suspense hangs till the end, with the appearance of another brown wolf. I like how Sandra lightens the sordid situations with a dash of humor. This is a well-written book, just like her western romances. Though a sequel, it can stand alone. Highly recommended.

A Long Walk Home symbolizes trudging through your failures and frustrations into maturity, a lovely message of thinking about your own self and finding happiness despite all the negativity that tries to blind us. Written in an eloquent style that never falters, Finn takes you through the lives of two friends and delivers a profound message: “there is magic all year round but I am glad they take some time to think about it once a year.”

Kenzie’s pain would reach your heart; the season of joy and celebrations seems meaningless to her, as her emotions spiral out of control. The setting is perfect for the mood of the story. However, our Angels of hope are always around us to protect us before we plunge deeper into the dumps. This sweet story would win your heart. I finished it within an hour. 

Thank you. Happy reading!
Balroop Singh.

If you like poetry, here is my latest release  Hues Of Hope 

#BookReviews: 5 #Stars for each one!

Mystery and romance is a deadly combination and these books have both. I enjoyed all the three books due to their themes and amazing visual details. I would like to share my thoughts about them with you. Please click on the links to view the book descriptions.

Genuine Deceit – My Review:

I was lured by the name of this book, wondering how deceit could be genuine! I was not disappointed. All speculations about who deceived whom and why would fail and you have to wait till the end to know the truth. ‘Genuine Deceit’ deals with a multi-dimensional plot with its tentacles connected with the past of Reagan’s parents and complicated relationships.

Shocked by the murder of her grandmother, Reagan arrives in her childhood home and gets sucked in by the vortex of inexplicable discoveries. As she is trying to find a foothold, she sinks deeper into the whirlpool of mysteries. Her friends try to help her but it is hard to believe whom to trust. The story gets murkier with each chapter, each development entangles it more than expectations. It moves at a good pace but it could’ve been breathtaking if a few superfluous chapters were edited.

Characterisation has not received much attention, as the story is packed with events. However, Aiden emerges to be a perfect protagonist who could absorb emotions, support Reagan in all the situations yet give her the freedom to make her own decisions. Fiona’s character development is slow but stunning. Secondary characters sound nondescript. 

Too much has been compressed into this book and the baggage of back stories is so massive that you would wonder – what else? It finishes in a filmy style with amazing visual details, transporting you to the scene of crime. Such an outstanding plot doesn’t need profane language – (F and S words) could have been avoided. If you like mysteries, this is a must read! 

Things He Hadn’t Told Her – My Review:

Things He Hadn’t Told Her by Vicky Whedbee captures your attention from page one, as it begins with a nerve-wracking incident of two teenagers pledging to be “blood brothers” when Chad saves the life of Cole. It introduces you to loving relationships within affectionate families, awesome friendships, beautiful description of a fairy tale romance and wedding. It has an amazing flow, realistic characters but their story is predictable. It makes you wonder how long should you hold your true feelings; it tugs at your heart and makes you think about the depth of love. Riding on the rollercoaster of emotions, Chad holds his secret in his journal, which plays a significant role in the book.

Vicky possesses an eye for detail; the way she talks about her characters and their dressing style adds another dimension to the visual effects of their appearance. She has a knack of carrying on the conversation for a long time and hold the interest of the reader. Written in a light-hearted style, a mixture of humor and realism makes it pure fun at places: “Cole was preoccupied with picking up more than two grains of rice at a time with his chopsticks.”

However, the book gets melancholy toward the ending and drags on for a long time. I wish Maggie had picked up the vibes, I wish she could have been more perceptive. On the whole it is an interesting book. Highly recommended. 

Between the Vines – My Review:

Between the Vines recline entangled relationships, which need to be understood. Elena and Aaron’s attraction to each other is not new yet they try to dismiss it for their own reasons. Both have their doubts, Heather, the jealous hen tries to cash on their weaknesses and a superb story with an eternal triangle unfolds. Written in a breezy style, this novella banks on edgy relationships that cry for attention.

Who could define relationships better than Staci? She has crafted three couples, so different from each other. If the unconditional love of Larissa for Jace would melt your heart, you would like to shoot Heather for her selfish overtures to win Aaron and poke Elena for building tall walls around her to keep Aaron out intentionally. This may be a quick read but provide the lovers with some food for thought. I really enjoyed it.

Thank you. Happy reading!
Balroop Singh.

Heart-warming Stories #BookReviews

This week, I am sharing two novellas by Staci Troilo, as I read them one after the other and both won my heart due to her style of writing. I look forward to reading more in the series.

I had read and reviewed The Edge of Fear in the month December but am sharing the review now, as this book too focuses on relationships and I have just finished another book – Love Me: A Christmas Wish by Jacquie Biggar who weaves wonderful webs of relationships.

No Such luck by Staci Troilo is a brilliant story that defines relationships and makes Piper Seidel ponder over her lucky charm and high school crush. I like Staci’s crisp style, her dive into the story, without wasting a moment in unnecessary descriptions to let the reader decide the superfluity of adolescent thoughts that sound dearer than realities of life. 

When I stumbled upon book – 2 of the series, I thought, let me start with book – 1 and I must confess, it made my afternoon most pleasant. This is a short read, I finished it within an hour but it left me craving for more – such is the style of Staci! Her focus on characterization is remarkable, as Piper, an impatient, brazen and reckless person grows up into a fine woman by the time her story ends. There is a subtle message for those who lack the virtue of introspection. I look forward to reading the next book in the series. Highly recommended.

‘Pour It On’ is as enjoyable as good wine, a perfect blend of fun and business in an aura of light-hearted “meet and greet” night that might crash due to Nigel, the arrogant sommelier who has decided to quit Romy’s restaurant, without any prior notice.

I like the metaphorical title of this novella, as Staci astutely pours anger and angst right in the beginning, with a dash of romance into the story along with wine. Rick Santucci adds the much needed boost to the party though the misunderstanding is like an icing on the cake, making the story superbly succulent.

Troilo creates memorable characters with well defined traits. You would either love or loathe them and admire the skill of their creator. If you like short, heart-warming stories, this is a perfect pick.

The Edge of Fear by Maura Brennan is a riveting story of love and relationships that are exemplary if we keep Frank out, but such vindictive and sinister characters do lurk around us to derail a mirthful life. Hattie’s happiness agitates him, he conspires to extract money out of her but how far does he succeed in harassing his former wife keeps you turning the pages of this fast-paced book. Brennan wastes no time in unnecessary details and keeps her focus on the story.

Strong female characters, action-packed narrative, love for little Lilly and a filmy finish make this book quite engaging till the last page. Though predictable at places, the story moves at a breath-taking speed and the smooth introduction of new characters is admirable. A thread of fear runs throughout and is contagious enough to touch your heart. All the characters leave a mark on your memory, especially Celine and Agnes. Even secondary characters like Rhonda have been handled with elan. Highly recommended for those who like light thrillers.

Love, Me: A Christmas Wish Novel by Jacquie Biggar is a heart-warming story of Cassie who believes in the magic of Santa Claus. She wants a puppy but her yearning for a dad overrides her Christmas wish and she writes a letter to Santa to give her a dad so that her mommy won’t be alone if she falls sick again. My heart goes out to such a child who is suffering yet thinks of her loving mom. Add another character of utmost goodness to the story and a perfect world, where love abounds, is created.

Kyle enters just at the right time when Grace needs help; his attraction fortifies his efforts and lovely bonds are created. Biggar has a knack of crafting such relationships in her stories and this book is exceptional. A feel-good story that is bursting with hope despite Cassie’s battle with cancer. There are some beautiful moments to be cherished and I love how Avery and Cassie wait for Santa in the sleigh to convey their new Christmas wish! Highly recommended!

Thank you. Happy reading!

– Balroop Singh.

The #TBR Pile #Writing Challenge

Pixaby image

She grabs each book with panache
But lets it languish in some corner
Promises would be kept, she knows
When’d that day dawn, she doesn’t decipher.

Decorated with turmeric
Scented by cinnamon
Smeared with her favorite sauce
Some sit at her kitchen ledge, waiting to be read.

They enhance the ambiance of her home
Books are her first love
A unique drape that keeps her 
Cloaked in her treasured trove.

Butterflies of her basement,
They charm, but
Keep her away from real beauties
That Mother Nature offers.

Her new beloved ‘Kindle’ is bursting
But the masked beauties
Know their boundaries
No eyes follow and no fingers beckon! 
© Balroop Singh

Inspired from Diana’s Writing Challenge, click to join the fun. Thank you.

If you like poetry, click here to hear Magical Whispers

Have you checked my latest release? – Slivers: Chiseled Poetry