Publisher and Publication Date: Bethany House. 2017.
Genre: Christian fiction. Mystery. Suspense. Romance.
Audience: Christian fiction readers.
The House on Foster Hill has been in my TBR pile a few years. I’m determined to catch-up on this stack.
Two time periods with a main character in each period.
Kaine Prescott is the modern day main character. She’s a widow. She doesn’t have children. She relocates from California to Wisconsin to start a new chapter in life. She wants to break free from sad memories and start afresh. She buys an old house unseen in the hometown of her grandfather. The town is Oakwood, Wisconsin. Kaine feels her husband’s death was not an accident, but she’s been unable to convince the police. Meanwhile, Kaine believes she is being stalked.
Ivy Thorpe is the main character from the early 1900s. Ivy lives in Oakwood, Wisconsin. A young dead woman has been found in the cavity of a tree on the Foster Hill House property. Ivy helps her father who is a doctor with the medical examination. Ivy feels a duty to preserve with dignity the dead. She keeps a journal of deceased people. She feels this is a calling or a mission. Meanwhile, a young man arrives back in Oakwood as an investigator. His name is Joel Cunningham.
The House on Foster Hill is a chronological narrative structure.
The House on Foster Hill is a plot driven narrative.
The antagonists are both people and an agenda.
The House on Foster Hill uses the plot and subplots as the thrust of the story. They are the engine that propels the story forward.
What I like about the book:
~The cover. It’s gothic looking. The cover is haunting and enticing.
~The idea and setting of the story is wonderful. A mysterious house with a strong history of unexplainable events. Two women who are grieving. Both women have a pull to understand the secrets of the house.
~Ivy is a woman from the early 20th century, but she is the assistant to her father on a post mortem woman. I feel this is a rare job for a woman of this time period. I feel her experience working alongside her father made her a unique and interesting main character.
~Kaine’s working career had been in social work. She worked with women who had been victimized and abused. I feel her education and experience gives her a knowledge and wisdom most people don’t have. I feel this made her an interesting and valuable main character.
What I don’t like:
~There are too many subplots. I count 11. I don’t feel it is necessary to have so many subplots that the reader is wandering off in different directions and wondering how all of them or some of them will be reconciled by the last page. I feel some of the subplots need trimming.
~I don’t like the name Kaine. It is pronounced like Cain. I spent at least half the book wondering how to pronounce the name and the other half being reminded of Cain and Able.
~Kaine doesn’t respond in certain situations as I’d expected. She had years of education and training as a social worker. Her work placed her in crisis situations. In her career, Kaine would have attended further training. In The House on Foster Hill, she behaved as a cliché in a crisis situation instead of her training. I didn’t like this. I didn’t feel it was believable.
Publisher and Publication Date: Flatiron Books. 2019.
Genre: Fiction. Malaysia. Coming of age story. Mystery.
Audience: Readers wanting something different. A mystery but also a coming of age story. Setting is in Malaysia during the 1930s British colonial era.
I finished reading this book December 26, 2019. This book is shelved with books read in 2019.
The year is 1931. Malaysia.
Ji Lin is a young woman who is an apprentice dressmaker. She is also working as a dance-hall girl in order to pay off her mother’s mahjong debts. Her job as a dance-hall girl is a secret to most, as well as the debts her mother owes. She has a step-father and a step-brother. Her step-brother, Shin is studying to be a doctor. While Ji Lin is dancing with a salesman, a small cylinder falls out of his pocket and she catches it. The salesman is unaware. Later, Ji Lin looks in the cylinder and finds a finger.
Ren is an eleven year old boy. His twin died. He promised a dying man he will find the missing finger and bury it in his grave. He has 49 days or his soul will be taken. Ren works as a house boy for a surgeon.
The Night Tiger has a storyline that I’ve not read before. It held strong interest to me all the way through the book, till I knew the outcome or resolve.
In addition, there is a mysterious supernatural element in the story of victims being killed and half eaten (supposed) by what the locals believe is a ghost animal (possibly a tiger.) This conflict in the story is an example of the people’s superstitions. The people believe in luck. For example, people can be lucky or unlucky and this determines their life. Ren believes he must carry out the dying man’s last wish or he will suffer soul consequences. Ji Lin hates her unlucky life. She feels trapped by duty. What can she do to change things?
Ren needs what Ji Lin has. How will these two people come together for a satisfying resolution for both of them?
I enjoyed reading this book! It’s a different type of read for me.
Publisher and Publication Date: G.P Putnam’s Sons. July 2, 2019.
Genre: Fiction. Detective. Mystery.
Rating: Very good.
Audience: Readers who love a female crime solver.
Nell Flynn is a FBI agent with no real home address. Her dad (that she’s estranged from) had been a homicide detective in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York for many years. Her mother was murdered when Flynn was young. Her dad died in a recent motorcycle accident. Flynn returns home for the funeral. She believes the accident that killed her dad is suspicious. In Suffolk County, two women are murdered with ties to the same escort service. Flynn is asked to help investigate the case of the murders.
The first thing I love about this book is the layers of themes running in the book.
•Unanswered questions about Flynn’s mother’s death.
•The estrangement between Flynn and her dad.
•Another mystery woman. What relationship did this woman have with Flynn’s dad?
•Is the Suffolk County Police Department good guys or bad guys?
•A mystery about her dad’s death.
•The mystery about who killed the women.
Girls Like Us has a solid pace or rhythm. It’s a story where it doesn’t get to ahead of itself, even during moments that are intense. It moves steadily along helping the reader stay tuned.
It’s a realistic story. I’ve read some detective stories that are too over the top with action and it comes across as not believable. Girls Like Us is believable; and, because it’s believable, the story has a dark and frightening atmosphere.
A solid tie-up or closure for the ending left me satisfied.
Publisher and Publication Date: Gallery Books. January 8, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction. Mystery.
Source: I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Very good.
Audience: Readers of World War II time period.
About the author:
Julia Kelly is the award-winning author of books about ordinary women and their extra ordinary stories. In addition to writing, she’s been an Emmy-nominated producer, journalist, marketing professional, and (for one summer) a tea waitress. Julia called Los Angeles, Iowa, and New York City home before settling in London. Readers can visit JuliaKellyWrites.com to learn more about all of her books and sign up for her newsletter so they never miss a new release.
Additional points of contact for Julia Kelly:
The Light Over London covers two time periods, 1941 and 2017.
In 1941, Louise Keene is age 19. She works as a bookkeeper for a grocer. She lives at home with her parents. They live in Cornwall, England. Louise is coaxed by her cousin to attend a dance. Louise meets Flight Lieutenant Paul Bolton at the dance. He is the first young man to really notice her and they have a whirlwind romance. Louise’s mother is controlling and has already chosen Louise’s future life. Louise wants more in life than to settle.
In 2017, Cara Hargraves is a recent divorcee. She lives in Barlow, Gloucestershire, England. She works as a dealer of antiques. While sorting through antiques from an estate, Cara finds a journal from the early 1940s. Cara reads through the journal entries and begins to search for the mystery author.
I read The Light Over London in 2 days! I’m not a fan of dual time periods, because this has been done too much. I am a fan of World War II books. Adding other elements to the story: antiques, a granddaughter/grandmother bond, and a mystery to solve about the author of the journal. All of these reasons kept me glued to the book.
I think it’s fascinating Kelly weaved in to the story a common problem men and women have when they seek out a romantic partner. The attraction and involvement with a person similar to a parent. Another words, if a parent is controlling a child will often (but not always) become involved with a person who is controlling.
There is two mysteries in the book. The second mystery becomes apparent at the end of the book along with the reveal. This surprised me. I didn’t necessarily expect a happily ever after conclusion, but the ending was a surprise.
Both Cara and Louise are not strong-leap off the page type characters. They are average people who survive hard life struggles. This makes them believable. It makes the main characters easy to identify with.
Publisher and Publication Date: Fleming H. Revell Company. July 16, 2019.
Genre: Christian fiction. Suspense. Mystery.
Audience: Readers who love light suspense in a Christian story.
Shawn Smucker website
I love everything about this book! I love this book from the front cover to the back cover!
Light from Distant Stars is the story of Cohen Marah. When the book begins Cohen finds his father on the floor in the family funeral home. He presumes his father is dead. He leaves without calling the police. In chapter two, Cohen reflects on memories from childhood, when his father was a pastor, when his family was all together. The book moves back and forth between the current situation of his father’s grave injuries, and the painful memories of his childhood. Wrapped up in Cohen’s childhood is an event that is suspenseful and a mystery. For a brief time, he had two friends who needed his help. Cohen questions his responsibility in his father’s injury. He has a few visits with a priest to confess sins and seek “counsel” and “absolution.” In these confessional moments with the priest, Cohen speaks aloud with the thoughts, insecurities, and fears he’s held inside. Meanwhile, Cohen has a sister who is pregnant with twins, her older son is Johnny.
I’d not heard of this book until an author I follow recommended it. I immediately ordered the book from Amazon.
Light from Distant Stars is a story that swallowed me up whole. To state it’s a page turner is an understatement.
In most stories, the author describes the characters. In Light from Distant Stars, Smucker lets the story reveal the characters through dialogue, mannerisms, and behavior.
I loved the mystery and suspense with the two childhood friends and the Beast. The revealing of who they really are kept me reading till the end.
The ending climax of the story is believable and it caused my heart to beat faster.
The story has several subtopics or other themes: unforgiveness, unreconciled trauma, child abuse, loss of dreams, disappointment, heartache, loneliness, alcoholism, love, and sacrifice.
Light from Distant Stars is a perfect book to read for a clean but suspenseful Halloween season.
I plan to read more books written by Shawn Smucker.