Vicious Circle by Wilbur Smith

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Vicious CircleA somewhat different book that holds your interest if parts of it don’t drive you away! Hector Cross lived a life of high risks and actual warfare and then he met and married Hazel Bannock. Hazel was the daughter of the founder of Bannock Oil which was one of the largest refinery type businesses in the English Empire. Hazel had previously lost a daughter from a previous marriage but was now pregnant with a daughter to be by Henry. All seemed to be going well until she was brutally murdered while out driving her Ferrari as Hector followed in his Land Rover.

He was able to get two of the criminals who were involved in Hazel’s shooting but one of them got away. This thus became his passion to find not only that one but the entire group that was behind this killing.

Mighty Mary by Tony Scaringe

Reviewed by Dianne Woodman

Mighty MaryMighty Mary is a fascinating work of fiction, based on real-life events, that encompasses the sport of international yacht racing and the first all-women’s team to vie for the America’s Cup in 1995. Tony Scaringe expertly portrays the obstacles faced by the women who were breaking new ground by competing in a male dominated sport. Readers gain an inside perspective into the concerted undertaking and unwavering commitment necessary in order for this momentous event to take place.

The prologue, chapter and section headings, and epilogue are integral to the storyline. The prologue provides readers with a brief history of the America’s Cup and introduces Dan Cook, the motivator behind the establishment of the women’s team. Interviews with Cook are skillfully interwoven into this story that exemplifies a noteworthy occasion in history. The chapter headings, as well as section headings within chapters, do not interrupt the flow of the story. Specifically, the headings are an invaluable source of information by giving readers each chapter’s theme, along with making it easy to follow changes in locations, events, and timeframes. The epilogue includes uplifting and appreciative comments in recognition of not only the women’s team but also their advocates. Moreover, these remarks are made by men who are instrumental in changing the perception of women’s ability to compete against men in yacht racing. In addition, the epilogue includes a meeting with the press in 1995. This encounter brings into question whether or not a man may have negatively affected a key performance.

A Casualty of War: A Bess Crawford Mystery (Bess Crawford Mysteries) by Charles Todd

Reviewed by Teri Davis

A Casualty of WarThere are certain authors that you just can’t wait to read their next books. Charles Todd is one of those that many people who enjoy authentic historical fiction feel anxious in waiting for the next book. Personally, I feel that Todd truly seizes your mind immersing you in the World War I battlefield with the nurse, Bess Crawford. There is no male or female preference, just dumping you onto the war torn areas so much that you can smell it.

World War I, was coming to an end and for nurse Bess Crawford returning home is now within her future. While waiting for the transport, she chats with others and happens to meet a memorable soul, Captain Alan Travis, He is a wealthy Englishman from a prestigious family who have made money in Barbados.

Surprisingly, while is still working near the Frontlines, Bess finds again that one her patients as Captain Travis. While he is injured this time, he claims that his cousin, James Travis attempted to kill him. She agrees to investigate only to find nothing about this Lieutenant Travis. She does wonder if his possible concussion confused him and whether the Lieutenant even exists.
A while later, Bess meets Captain Travis for the third time. He again claims that his cousin attempted to kill him. He is badly wounded this time. Whether Bess believes it or not, someone did shoot at him.

Hardball (V.I. Warshawski Novel) by Sarah Paretsky

Reviewed by Allen Hott

HardballThis is quite a story. V.I. Warshawski (known as Vi) is a private detective who is asked to find out what happened to Lamont Gadsden by his aunt. Lamont has been missing for over 40 years. Though his own mother has no hope or desire to find out where or if Lamont is alive, his aunt “hires” Vi to do some searching.

Having worked for the police department and being the daughter of a deceased police officer, Vi does have the ability to do some very extensive searching. Her searching is not restricted to the Chicago Police Department but because of private investigating she is able to get into many areas to delve for information.

Many things happen to Vi though as she begins looking and most of them are pretty scary. There are also people killed and in so of these cases Vi feels it has occurred because of her investigation.

Further clouding up the picture is the arrival in town of her young cousin, Petra, who moved up from Kansas City to be closer to her father, Peter. As the story grows more and more involved it appears that somehow even Peter has some knowledge of the missing Lamont. And Petra, who really admires Vi, gets more and more involved in the whole picture.

The Otter of Death (Gunn Zoo Series) by Betty Webb

Reviewed by Teri Davis

The Otter of DeathTheodora “Teddy” Bentley loves her work as a Zookeeper. It always provides variety even with boring tasks. While completing the annual “otter count” at Gunn Landing Harbor in California, Teddy discovers her favorite otter, Maureen is holding a smartphone. You think of the possible fun in getting a phone away from an otter.

When Teddy actual examines the phone, she finds that the camera had been in use recently capturing a crime in action, a murder.

The phone belongs to Dr. Stuart Booth, part of the otter census crew and a marine biology instructor. Stuart in not known for his good behavior, but has a tendency to sexually harass his female students who idolize him, at least for a while.

Fortunately or unfortunately, Teddy’s fiancé is Sheriff Joe Rejas. He is handsome, hunky and doesn’t like Teddy nosing into his business.

So what is Teddy to do when her friend, Lila, an accuser of Booth’s conduct, is arrested for his murder?

Dead Man Switch by Matthew Quirk

Reviewed by Allen Hott

Dead Man SwitchWithout a doubt there is plenty of action in this one. John Hayes is a retired special ops agent for the U.S. government but it seems that he and many former ops agents never retire. They claim to do so and the government claims they are gone but they continue to operate under cover. No one except a few at the very top of the U.S. security system knows how it all works.

This story starts as Hayes is working undercover amongst some Pakistani undercover agents when several U.S. special ops agents are caught by the Pakistani group. One of the special ops agents recognizes Hayes who actually pretends as though he is going to kill the agents. But instead Hayes turns on the Pakistanis and poof the U.S. guys kind of get away. Well, not exactly as the two agents are both pretty well beaten up in their escape. Hayes is even covered by a snow drift caused by the rescuing helicopter’s downdraft.

Hayes is pretty well frozen when he himself is rescued by his boss who pulled all stops to find him and get him back to the U.S. He is supposed to go back into retirement officially but since he is and has always been undercover he is still on call to the top dogs in Washington.

Dancing with Death: An Epic and Inspiring Travel Adventure by Jean-Philippe Soulé

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Dancing with DeathOffering an intensely evocative and aptly titled narrative, Dancing with Death both guides and inspires, armchair adventurers as well as venturesome travelers to the jungles, seas, people and cultures of the world’s “roads” less traveled within the beautiful panoramas of Latin America. Co-authored by co-adventurers Jean-Philippe Soulé and Luke Shullenberger, this dynamic read memorializes not only their experiences during their expansive sea kayaking journey, but also serves to help bring awareness to the cultures and history of the seldom seen or noted native peoples they encountered.

From the start, the story treats the mind to the emotions and visages entwined in this thrilling narrative which memorializes the unforgettable and awe-inspiring expedition by sea touted as a one of a kind undertaking. Author, guide, and adventurer Jean-Philippe Soulé accompanied by fellow adventurer and able friend Luke Shullenberger find themselves and their kayaks sorely tested by weather, tides and their bodies as they paddled thousands of miles braving often life-threatening conditions including near drowning, malaria, shark attacks, crocodiles, guerillas, armed bandits and corruption during their one of a kind undertaking. The overall journey spanning three years, 3000 miles and seven countries included Baja, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. The expedition fully titled as the Central America Sea Kayaking Expedition 2000, but also known as the CASKE2000, was a quest intended as an effort to connect with, learn about and preserve in writing the history of the self-reliant, indigenous peoples and their respect for and relationship with the earth.

Thread the Halls (A Mainely Needlepoint Mystery) by Lea Wait

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Thread the HallsAngie Curtis is looking forward to her first, of what she hopes is many, quiet Christmas holidays with Patrick West. Patrick is also looking forward to his first holiday spent with Angie. Both are anxious to see how their relationship grows during this holiday season. Unfortunately, his mother has other ideas.

Skye West is both a movie star and Patrick’s mother. She is planning on taking a break from her current movie, along with some co-stars, writers, and the director at her Victorian mansion in this small Maine town. Of course, a well-known and loved celebrity who rarely visits her home mansion, can come home for Christmas bringing along a few friends, or acquaintances, and it won’t affect the town people at all. Why would it?

Skye wants everything perfect. The mansion needs to be decorated for Christmas like a picture perfect Currier and Ives postcard, complete with a horse-drawn sleigh, needlepoint pillows, high-class meals available at all hours, and of course, carolers. Not to mention that to attend these events would require the proper outfits for Angie.

Vox by Christina Dalcher

Reviewed by Teri Davis

VoxThe status of women in the United States has changed tremendously in the last one-hundred years with numerous examples of their proper relationship with men varying as much as each individual female.
The current President of the United States and his trusted Christian advisor changing women’s rights. All women are to be cared for my the head male of their family. For those married, that means their husbands. For unmarried women, the means their closest male relative.

In order to preserve the households of doting women, each female wears a bracelet limiting her speech to one-hundred words a day. Any word beyond that will cause the bracelet to shock the wearer with increasing strength as each word is said. Could you live with only speaking one-hundred words a day?
Young girls are taught in their own school. Naturally, they don’t need the level of education of their male counterparts. Girls learn additional home economics needed in their duties of being future wives and mothers.

Jean is a wife and mother of four children, three teenaged sons and one younger daughter. Every day the wife is expected to cook and clean. Women are not allowed to read books or to use a computer. Those are only for men.

Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller

Reviewed by Teri Davis

CarolineMany of us have either read, heard, or watched Little House on the Prairie. These stories are told from Laura’s perspective. Did her mother, Caroline see things the same way? For author, Sarah Miller, her hours of research recreates the Little House experience, but from Caroline, not Laura.
Imagine moving in a horse-drawn covered wagon, likely carrying the equivalent of your entire household in a large car or van, along with two young girls, ages four and five, and being pregnant. Also, you probably can only move about fifteen miles a day. Any takers?

Their adventure begins in the Big Woods of Wisconsin during February of 1870 with her husband, Charles eager to sell his land and move his family to the Kansas Indian Territory. The reason for leaving in February is the hope that most of winter is over and opportunity for owning a large amount of land, even if far from their family and friends. The hope is that the sooner they arrive in Kansas territory, the sooner they can build a house, establish themselves in this unknown land and possibly even plant before the following winter.