Book Review: The Dragonfly Prophecy

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The Dragonfly Prophecy

Jacquelyn Castle

Published by Class Act Books


281 pages

$17.95 soft cover

Reviewed by Laura Hartman

Genre: Young Adult

Lexi Blane has a pretty good life as far as seventeen-year-olds are concerned. Her parents love her and she mostly likes them. Her gorgeous boyfriend William is as crazy about her as she is about him. The only fly in the ointment is the fainting spells Lexi has been experiencing. To make matters worse, she thinks she must be developing some sort of mental illness because she is beginning to hear voices that no one else can hear.

The undiagnosed fainting spells and mysterious voices ruin the surprise island vacation her parents and William planned for her. After fainting, then experiencing odd dreams, she wakes up in a hospital to find she was only dreaming the vacation and her reality is more of a nightmare. What is the truth? Did she really dream the vacation? If so, why does she have a scar from a cut she remembers getting there. Is she dreaming the new life she woke up to? Could both of them be connected and real?

When she begins to reacquaint herself with old friends, something seems out of sync. Then she begins to dream of meeting each night with William, whom everyone says does not exist. Lexi can’t tell friends from enemies or who is lying and who is telling the truth. Something mysterious and possibly magical is happening to her that she doesn’t understand it. Even worse, she may not survive it.

Author Jacquelyn Castle’s bio states she worked in finance but has written stories since she was a teenager. She has dozens of incomplete manuscripts sitting on her computer waiting to be finished. It is our good fortune that she listened to her inner calling and followed her passion for writing magical stories. The Dragonfly Prophecy is her debut novel, and we can only hope she is typing feverishly right now if her other manuscripts in progress are as good as this one.

It has been a long time since I read a book in one day. I literally could not put down this book. Multi-layered characters with an unusual and interesting plotline kept my interest from the first paragraph to the last page.

Copyright © 2011 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

The GenReview website and My Reviews

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A few posts ago I told of the end of The GenReview. Because the wonderful writer and editor Tony Burton allowed all his reviewers full copywrite rights on our reviews, I decided to add the reviews to my blog that can no longer be seen on his website.

I hope some of you find a new author to follow or a book to enjoy by reading one of themlots of books.

Book Review: Vintage Connor, The Blonde in the Lotus Elite

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Vintage Connor: The Blonde in the Lotus Elite

Robert Baty

Published by R. J. Buckley Publishing


311 pages

$19.00 Hardcover

Reviewed by Laura Hartman

Genre: Murder Mystery

Vintage Connor: The Blonde in the Lotus Elite, Robert Baty’s debut novel, roars out of the gate with the force of a nitro fueled engine. Ray Connor, retired police officer, has two weaknesses, vintage cars and an undeniable attraction to Evie, the woman who walked out of his life over twenty years ago.

Evie is back, asking Ray to help find the person that murdered her 21 year old daughter, Janey. The police are convinced it is suicide and don’t appreciate an ex-cop from a different precinct asking questions. Bodies are starting to pile up and Ray’s quiet life of acquiring vintage cars for rich clients is about to take a wrong turn down a dead end street. To add to Ray’s misery, someone stole his vintage silver Porsche 911.

Baty has a great voice for this novel. Noir often sounds like an over-the-top attempt to be a gangster from the 50s. Not so with Baty. The novel is about fast babes and faster cars, but he flawlessly sets the mood with realistic dialog and descriptions that pull you right into the scenes.

I love the rumble of a big block engine, a tough guy that is soft when it comes to women and a good mystery. This book has them all, and was a fast, fun read. I can’t wait to read the sequel, The Girl in the MG in 2012.

Copyright © 2011 Laura Hartman

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

Book Review: A Dark Dividing by Sarah Rayne

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A Dark Dividing

Sarah Rayne

Felony & Mayhem Press


480 pages

$14.95 (Pub date: June 2011)

Reviewed by Laura Hartman

Genre: Mystery Fiction

This is quite possibly the best book I’ve read in the past year. Rayne’s rich characters and layered plotlines that connected and concluded satisfyingly at the end made this book nearly impossible to put down once I began to read it.

Harry Fitzglen, a self-destructing journalist, is given the task of reviewing an art gallery opening. He is oddly drawn to the photography display by Simone Anderson, the aloof artist with a hidden past. Her photo of a crumbling eighteenth-century mansion not only piques his interest, it pulls him deeper into the life this mysterious woman.

When asked to dig into Simone’s past and the mystery of her missing twin sister by his editor, Harry cannot resist. The quest leads him back 100 years to the abandoned orphanage in her photo, named Mortmain – translation: Dead hand – House.

Rayne takes us back and forth effortlessly from 1900 to present day, never losing the reader as she weaves the tale of Mortmain House, Simone’s childhood and Harry’s search for the truth.

As soon as this book hits the shelves, run to your bookstore, library or computer to get a copy. Mystery fans can rejoice that England’s “Queen of Darkness” is sharing her nightmares with us. I am anxiously looking forward to her next novel.

Copyright © 2013 Laura Hartman

The demise of another wonderful website

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It pains me to announce that the website I did book reviews for is gone. The owner of the site, a brilliant man, was going to pull the plug sometime this year because he couldn’t get enough reviewers for the number of review requests he received, but a mistake by his hosting service deleted all of the reviews for the past several years. So he decided enough was enough. 

I learned a lot from him – thank you Tony Burton! And will miss the email from him listing books he has available for review. I stepped outside my comfort zone and read different books from often unheard of authors. I will miss the excitement of finding one in the mail and cracking the spine to find a new favorite.

My writing improved by turning phrases and looking harder at at structure and content of everything I read, not just the books I was reviewing.

I will continue to review the books I read here and on Goodreads, but will truly miss The GenReView. Thank you Tony – I can’t thank you enough for the opportunity you gave me by allowing me to review for your site the last few years.

(pic from google images:

Book Review: Mixed Signals by Jane Tesh

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MIXED_SIGNALS_march5thMixed Signals

Jane Tesh

Poisoned Pen Press


233 pages

$14.95 (soft cover)

Reviewed by Laura Hartman


Genre: Mystery

Private Investigator David Randall has his Christmas plate overflowing with problems instead of sweet treats. Mixed Signals starts out with Randall listening to Camden, friend and landlord, practice his solo for a Christmas concert. The sound of Handel’s Messiah is quickly drowned out by Camden’s screams of horror upon finding his friend Jared brutally stabbed to death.

Christmas is pushed aside as Randall is on the case when Boyd Taylor, one of the suspects, hires him to find the real killer. Tensions rise when Camden’s psychic powers kick in with a vengeance giving him reason to believe he might be linked somehow with the murder.

Randall digs deep into the case with the help of his girlfriend Kary. She does the leg work at the library, then surprisingly joins a group of people in Parkland that formed a “Super Hero Society” as “Wonder Star” to help find The Parkland Avenger – who is either good or bad reminiscent of Spiderman – depending upon the opinion of the characters.

Randall has a list of suspects as long as his arm.  The victim was fresh from jail, serving time for breaking into the Parkland Museum of History. The editor of the local paper, his son, a local journalist hungry for the “big story” to cap her career and the Avenger are all persons of interest.

With all of this going on, Christmas elbows in with the arrival of Randall’s mother. Clad in animal prints, mom has changed. All of the residents of 302 Grace Street love her. Her son would rather she hadn’t changed and fears she will talk about his young daughter’s death in a car accident, which he avoids thinking or talking about.

This mystery has twists and turns that all lead to the killer if you pay attention. When the clues were revealed, each little event becomes clear to the reader. I really enjoyed spending the holidays with Randall and Camden in Parkland.

The only fault I can find with this fun read was a bit of confusion about the characters. This is the second book in Jane Tesh’s Grace Street Mystery series. I would have liked to read a page or two of flashback to have more of a sense of where Cam, Randall, Kary and the rest of the residents of 302 Grace are coming from. Little glimpses of each character are sprinkled throughout the book, so it was a treasure hunt finding them.

I am looking forward to reading the first in Tesh’s series, Stolen Hearts to fill in the gaps.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

Copyright © 2013 Laura Hartman

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