Saturday, July 18, 2015

Review: Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs



Title: Speaking in Bones

Author: Kathy Reichs
(Author Website) (Facebook)

Genre: Fiction: Thriller & Suspense

Publisher:  Random House Publishing Group– Bantam Dell – 7/21/15

Length:  320 pages

Source: Net Galley

About the Book: (from

For every case Temperance Brennan has solved, there remain innumerable unidentified bodies in her lab. Information on some of these is available online, where amateur sleuths sometimes take a stab at solving cases. One day, Tempe gets a call from Hazel “Lucky” Strike, a web sleuth who believes she’s successfully connected a body in Tempe’s lab to a missing persons report on an eighteen-year-old named Cora Teague. Since the bones in her lab do seem to match Cora’s medical records, Tempe looks into the case, returning to the spot where the bones were originally found. What seems at first to be an isolated tragedy takes on a more sinister cast as Tempe uncovers two more sets of bones nearby. When she then learns that the area is known as a viewing point for a famous unexplained light phenomenon with significance for a local cult, Tempe’s suspicious turn to murder by ritual sacrifice—a theory thrown into question when Hazel herself turns up dead. Still reeling from her mother’s diagnosis and the shock of Andrew Ryan’s potentially life-change proposal, Tempe races to solve the murders before the body count climbs further.

About the Author:  (from author website)

From teaching FBI agents how to detect and recover human remains, to separating and identifying commingled body parts in her Montreal lab, as a forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs has brought her own dramatic work experience to her mesmerizing forensic thrillers. For years she consulted to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina, and continues to do so for the Laboratoire de Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale for the province of Québec. Dr. Reichs has travelled to Rwanda to testify at the UN Tribunal on Genocide, and helped exhume a mass grave in Guatemala. As part of her work at JPAC (Formerly CILHI) she aided in the identification of war dead from World War II, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Dr. Reichs also assisted with identifying remains found at ground zero of the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Dr. Reichs is one of only eighty-two forensic anthropologists ever certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. She served on the Board of Directors and as Vice President of both the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, and is currently a member of the National Police Services Advisory Council in Canada. She is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

Dr. Reichs is a native of Chicago, where she received her Ph.D. at Northwestern. She now divides her time between Charlotte, NC and Montreal, Québec.

My Review: Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs is one book in the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reich.  Kathy Reich is a new author to me.  Though Speaking in Bones is part for the Temperance Brennan  series, I read it as a stand alone book and found it very intriguing. There might have been some small connections between characters I may have missed due to not reading previous books, but they were not obvious to me.  So definitely can be read as a stand alone book.   Speaking in Bones is a forensic thriller, which is very well researched.  Considering the author is a forensic anthropologist, it is no surprise how well researched the books is.

The characters in Speaking with Bones are very compelling.  I am actually wanting to read previous books so I can get to know Temperance Brennan better.  She is an interesting character. Being the main character in all the books, there are many details about her that may have added to my reading of Speaking in Bones.  Another character that was interesting is Hazel “Lucky” Strike.  Who knew there is a community of amateur sleuths online that spend their time researching missing people and unidentified remains in hopes of finding a match and bringing the remains home to their family.  Hazel believe the remains she has found are that of Cora Teague an missing persons who disappeared at the age of 18.  Cora comes from a very religious community, almost zealots of sorts, they never reported her as missing. They said she ran away with a man…such wicked ways in their minds. 

My Rating: 4/5 –really liked it- I read Speaking Bones in a little over a day while camping in the middle of a State Park in Minnesota.  An ideal setting to read a psychological thriller, when you have to walk to the satellite toilet alone in the middle of the night.  I was very intrigued by the story and found it hard to put down.   The pace of the story was very good and kept you on the edge of your seats.   Temperance tends to make some bad decisions in the story, which puts her in dangerous situations and heights the intensity of the story.   I found myself liking the determination and character of Temperance very early in the story.  Temperance and I definitely need to get to know each other better.  

In Speaking in Bones, Kathy Reich tells a story of religious zealous, obsession and murder with a bit of psychological twist. 

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Speaking in Bones was also reviewed on the following blogs: A Thrill A Week, The Bookbag, and So, I Read This Book Today.

**Disclosure – Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs was received from and Random House Publishing Group– Bantam Dell in exchange for a fair review.

Review: Black Dog Summer by Miranda Sherry

BlackDog Summer

Title: Black Dog Summer

Author: Miranda Sherry
Author Website) (Facebook)

Genre: Fiction: Thriller & Suspense

Narrator: Jilly Bond 

Publisher:  Highbridge Audio. 2/18/15

Length:  9.5 hrs • 8 CDs

Source: Audiobook Jukebox‘s reviewer program

About the Book: (from

In this extraordinary debut novel reminiscent of The Lovely Bones and Little Bee, a mother watches from the afterlife as her teenage daughter recovers amidst the startling dysfunction of her extended family.

A small, bright thread of a story weaves out from the moment of my passing and seems to tether me to this place. Perhaps this is why I have not left yet. Perhaps I have no choice but to follow the story to its end.

Compulsively readable and stylistically stunning, Black Dog Summer begins with a murder, a farmstead massacre, in the South African bush. Thirty-eight-year-old Sally is but one of the victims. Her life brutally cut short, she narrates from her vantage point in the afterlife and watches as her sister, Adele, her brother-in-law and unrequited love Liam, her niece Bryony, and her teenage daughter, Gigi, begin to make sense of the tragedy.

A suspenseful drama focusing on marriage and fidelity, sisterhood, and the fractious bond between mothers and daughters, Black Dog Summer asks: In the wake of tragedy, where does all that dark energy linger? The youngest characters, Bryony and Gigi, cousins who are now brought together after Sally’s murder, are forced into sharing a bedroom. Bryony becomes confused and frightened by the violent energy stirred up and awakened by the massacre, while Gigi is unable to see beyond her deep grief and guilt. But they are not the only ones aware of the lurking darkness. Next door lives Lesedi, a reluctant witchdoctor who hides her mystical connection with the dead behind the facade of their affluent Johannesburg suburb.

As Gigi finally begins to emerge from her grief, the fragile healing process is derailed when she receives some shattering news, and in a mistaken effort to protect her cousin, puts Bryony’s life in imminent danger. Now Sally must find a way to prevent her daughter from making a mistake that could destroy the lives of all who are left behind.

Gorgeously written, with a pace that will leave readers breathless, Black Dog Summer introduces a brilliant new voice in fiction.

About the Author:  (from author website)


Miranda Sherry was seven when she began writing stories. A few decades, numerous strange jobs (including puppeteer, bartender and musician), and many manuscripts later, her latest work, Black Dog Summer, is being published by Head of Zeus.
Her first novel, Days Like Glass, was shortlisted for the EU Literary Award in South Africa in 2005.
Miranda currently lives in Johannesburg with her sort-of-husband and two weird cats.

About the Narrator: 


Jilly Bond studied English & Drama at Bristol University and graduated with a 2:1. After four years working in production for BBC Television,she trained as an actor at Drama Studio London.
She has performed in theatres all over the British Isles & Germany, in plays by Shakespeare, Shaw, Wilde, Coward, as well as Ayckbourn, Pinter, Willy Russell, Neil Simon and numerous new writers. Jilly Bond  worked extensively on radio (including the role of Bridget in The Archers) and recorded hundreds of unabridged audiobooks (some award-winning); appearing on television in series such as Doctors, Judge John Deed, Alistair McGowan's Big Impression, Comedy Nation & Channel 4's cult hit As If. 

My Review: 
Black Dog Summer by Miranda Sherry is a riveting story told from the point of view of Sally, who was violently killed on a farm South Africa.   The farm was an peaceful animal sanctuary.  Sally and her daughter Gigi lived on the farm with others.   Sally, her sister Adele and Adele’s husband, Liam have a complicated past that has significantly effect their relationship.  Sally and Adele have been estranged for a number of years.    Gigi, Sally’s daughter survives the attack which take her mother’s life.   Gigi is understandably traumatized.  After being released from the hospital, she goes to like with her Aunt and Uncle, Adele and LIam, and their children.

Sally is stuck between the here and now, and the afterlife. She is able to see threads and if she follows them she is able to connect with various family members connect to each thread.    She is able to see what is going on in her daughter’s life.   Adele and Liam’s neighbor, Lesedi is a South African Sangoma.   The only person Sally is consistently able to interact with is Lesedi. 

Part of the story is told from the point of view of Bryony.  I found Bryony to be a very intuitive girl for her age. 

My Rating: 4/5 –really liked it-  Jilly Bond’s narration of the story, Black Dog Summer by Miranda Sherry is riveting.   You are immediately drawn into the story and care for the characters.  Jilly is very good at building suspense with the pace of her narration.   There is a scene between Gigi and her younger cousin, Bryony toward the end of the story that had a real effect on me.   I actually  had chills and found myself holding my breathe listening to this scene, something that has never happened to me before.   That is some great narration to be able to evoke such a physical reaction from the reader.

I enjoyed the point of view from which the book was written.  I enjoyed being able to hear the story through Sally’s voice and observations.  I really felt her frustration as she was only able to watch and not change the course of events in a meaningful way.  I loved the idea of the brightly colored thread connected to each person.  The threads represent the complexities of family relationships and how our stories are interwoven.  Black Dog Summer is about the complexities of family and our relationship and how a death can affect those relationships. 

Black Dog Summer, a debut novel by Miranda Sherry is a very emotional book.   If you enjoy family drama, complex relationships with a hint of supernatural, you will love Black Dog Summer by Miranda Sherry. 

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing


Black Dog Summer was also reviewed on the following blogs: Literary TreatsWorn Pages and InkThe Bookbag, My Dog-eared Purpose and Not Now Darling. 


**Disclosure – Black Dog Summer by  Miranda Sherry was received from Audiobook Jukebox’s reviewer program and HighBridge Audio in exchange for a fair review.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Review: Other Side of Midnight – Simone St James


Title: Other Side Of  Midnight

Author: Simone St. James
(Author Website) (Facebook)

Genre: Fiction/Historical

Narrator: Mary Jane Wells 

Publisher:  Blackstone Audio, 04/07/15

Length:  10.0 hrs • 8 CDs

Source: Audiobook Jukebox‘s reviewer program

About the Book: (from

London, 1925. Glamorous medium Gloria Sutter made her fortune helping the bereaved contact loved ones killed during the Great War. Now she's been murdered at one of her own séances, after leaving a message requesting the help of her former friend and sole rival, Ellie Winter.

Ellie doesn't contact the dead—at least, not anymore. She specializes in miraculously finding lost items. Still, she can't refuse the final request of the only other true psychic she has known. Now Ellie must delve into Gloria's secrets and plunge back into the world of hucksters, lowlifes, and fakes. Worse, she cannot shake the attentions of handsome James Hawley, a damaged war veteran who has dedicated himself to debunking psychics.

As Ellie and James uncover the sinister mysteries of Gloria's life and death, Ellie is tormented by nightmarish visions that herald the grisly murders of those in Gloria's circle. And as Ellie’s uneasy partnership with James turns dangerously intimate, an insidious evil force begins to undermine their quest for clues, a force determined to bury the truth, and whoever seeks to expose it...

About the Author:  (from author website)

StJamesForweb400-200x300Simone St. James is a lifelong reader of ghost stories and other spooky reads, but it wasn’t until she was an adult that she discovered two wonderful genres: romances and old, classic gothics.

Wishing she could read something that combined the three, with a 1920’s setting thrown in as well (and having written two full novels that were rightfully rejected everywhere and will forever live under the bed), she wrote THE HAUNTING OF MADDY CLARE, which was the book she really wished to read. An agent’s representation and a publishing contract soon followed, and she has been happily writing in her chosen, made-up genre ever since. THE HAUNTING OF MADDY CLARE won two of Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® awards, as well as Crime Writers of Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Book.

Simone spent twenty years behind the scenes in the television business before leaving to become a full-time writer. She lives just outside Toronto with her husband and an elderly cat who is probably sleeping as we speak. When not writing, Simone can be found traveling, cooking, staying active and healthy, gardening badly, and reading, reading, reading. Among her favorite authors (besides the geeky history and research books she loves) are Mary Stewart, Daphne duMaurier, Deanna Raybourn, Susanna Kearsley, Jacqueline Winspear, Victoria Holt, Kate Morton, George R. R. Martin, and Stephen King. How’s that for a mix? She is also rather addicted to Sherlock on the BBC.

About the Narrator: 

MJW-8Mary Jane Wells, British actress, writer and voiceover artist.

She trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and then did theatre for 12 years in the UK and Europe. She first came to the US with French classic, The Red Balloon at the Mark Taper some years ago. She returned later that year with a solo show, Martha for the Annenberg Centre, toured to the Kennedy centre and the New Victory on Broadway, and the International showcase in Philidelphia where she won the Victor Award.

She lives in LA and have been shooting, writing and voiceovering in London and Los Angeles. She is the voice of the TV commercial campaigns for Puma Mobium, Jet 2, Sunny Finance, LinkedIn and Eharmony, and the audiobooks which have been sourced as the inspiration behind Downton Abbey.



My Review:  From the get go, Other Side of Midnight by Simone St James  had me with the engaging story line and the wonderful narration by Mary Jane Wells.   I do not believe I have listened to a book narrated by Mary Jane Wells, but glad I have discovered her.  A very engaging narrator who really performs with great emotion!

Other Side of Midnight is set in 1925 in London following World War I.   Gloria Sutter and Ellie Winter are women with true psychic powers. After the War there were plenty of charlatans playing on peoples desperate need to communicate with their lost loved ones.     Psychics, séances and spirit communication were common as death and grieve were plentiful after WWI; too many, sons, husbands and lovers lost to the war.

Gloria Sutter is murdered during one of her séances.  She left a message to be delivered to Ellie Winter, to “Find Her”, in the spirit world.  Communication with the dead was not something Ellie did anymore, she found lost things for people. Ellie investigates the under belly of the psychic world to find clues to Gloria’s murder.   She is accompanied by James Hawley an investigator wishing to debunk the psychics. 

All characters were very well developed. I was especially impressed by the development of the secondary characters.  I felt I had a good understanding of each very unique character.  They each added to the story line in their own way. I also really like the details put into the description of Ellie’s psychic powers and what it must have felt to be her.  

My Rating: 4/5 –really liked it-  If you are a huge fan of historical fiction as I am, you will enjoy Other Side of Midnight by Simone St James.  Set in 1925, in London, following WWI is such a emotionally charged time in history.    Add to that the mystery,suspense and romance,  you have one very engaging story!  I mostly listen to audio books while walking and I can tell you I got some extra miles in at the end of this book!  The twists a the end were very suspenseful.  I found the end convenient, but very satisfying.

If you are in the mood for a eerie historical mystery with a hint of romance and suspense, checkout Other Side of Midnight by Simone St James.  If you love an engaging and emotional narrative,check out the audio book narrated by Mary Jane Wells. 


My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Other Side of Midnight was also reviewed on the following blogs: Smart Bitches, Trashy BooksThe Literary Hoarders; Bookarahma; and Miss Bates Reads Romances.   


**Disclosure – Other side of Midnight by Simone St James was received from Audiobook Jukebox’s reviewer program and Blackstone Audio in exchange for a fair review.