Book Review: Stay of Execution by: Kellie Larsen Murphy



Publication Date: March 5, 2015

Origins:  From Author for Review

Synopsis: Little Springs was just a small college town, the kind of town where everyone knew everyone and violent crime was nonexistent—until a series of rapes and murders at the college. After an outbreak of fear and hysteria, only the arrest and conviction of Leo Spradlin, the "Co-Ed Killer," could end the terror.

Years later, Spradlin is suddenly cleared based on unshakable DNA evidence, and no one is more surprised than Detective Mike Cancini. As new questions surround the identity of the true "Co-Ed Killer," Cancini struggles to accept his role in the conviction of an innocent man. Suspicions mount when Spradlin’s release coincides with a fresh wave of rapes and murders at the college, eerily reminiscent of the original crimes. Cancini is drawn back to Little Springs, caught in a race against time to uncover the identity of the latest "Co-Ed Killer" before the next girl dies…

A tension-filled psychological mystery, Stay of Execution is also a novel about loyalty, deceit, and the darker side of truth. 

Review: In STAY OF EXECUTION, the town of Little Springs breathed a sigh of relief when Leo Spradlin, the so-called ‘Co-Ed Killer’, was locked up for a series of heinous rape-murders. However, years later due to one a group like the Innocence Project, the DNA evidence was re-examined and Leo Spradlin was cleared of involvement in the crimes. Spradlin is released and instead of moving to another town, he goes back to Little Springs, where he is definitely not wanted. Detective Mike Cancini who was a rookie when the ‘Co-Ed Killer’ was active and was instrumental in Spradlin’s capture has also come back to Little Springs. Cancini is not convinced of Spradlin’s innocence, no matter what the DNA evidence has to say. Once Spradlin is pardoned and released, the rape-murders start up again convincing a lot of towns people Spradlin’s not as innocent as he and the evidence state. Cancini decides it’s up to him to find the evidence to finally solve the ‘Co-Ed Killer’ murders once and for all. STAY OF EXECUTION is a well-paced and well-written mystery novel. The characters were fully fleshed out and the author truly captured the atmosphere of a town gripped by fear and panic. The evidence of the previous murders and the new murders were described in such a way to be informative, but not overly gory. STAY OF EXECUTION is written in multiple voices, which actually works very well. I enjoyed STAY OF EXECUTION better than the first book in the Detective Mike Cancini series, A GUILTY MIND, as the writing was sharper and the characters much more well-rounded.

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Book Review: Iced by: M. Terry Green


Publisher: Middleworld Productions

Publication Date: February 10, 2015

Origins:  From Author for Review

Synopsis: Though she doesn’t know her real name, Thirteen is sure of two things: survival and finding her sister. Nothing stands in her way—not the great Pacifica Ice Sheet nor the slavers she escaped—until her deadly hunt takes a maddening turn. 

The first and only clue in her search is held by the survivor of a wrecked ice ship. But he’s not sharing. He has a daughter to rescue, and he needs Thirteen’s help. 

In the unforgiving subzero, a wary alliance is formed. Although she’d do anything to find her sister and finally know her own name, Thirteen never forgets the first rule of the ice. You only get one mistake—your last. 

Review: ICED is the story of a world vastly changed by some unknown event causing the entire planet to become covered in ice. We’re not told of how this happened or how society evolved due to this catastrophic event, but we are brought into a world were slavery is the norm and anyone can be taken away within an instant to serve a master. Free people must take every precaution and sometimes even those are not enough to keep them safe. The main character of ICED is Thirteen, a woman who no longer knows her true name and is on a quest to find her sister. Thirteen escaped from a master who had branded her their property and now she is the scourge of slaver ships everywhere, known simply as the Ghost due to her strange appearance and how quickly she appears and disappears. Thirteen has a unique appearance: clear hair, frost-colored eyes with a nictitating membrane, and grippers on her feet – all of which help her blend in and survive in this icy world. ICED is beautiful in its descriptiveness, not only of the characters but of the world itself. Truly character-driven, ICED will pull you in and you will be breathless until the ending. I really connected with the characters and I think it’ll be easy for other readers to do the same. ICED is well-written and leaves you craving more once you reach the end.

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Book Review: The Daughter by: Jane Shemilt


Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Publication Date: March 3, 2015

Origins:  From Publisher for Review

Synopsis: How well do you really know those you love?

Jenny loves her three teenage children and her husband, Ted, a celebrated neurosurgeon. She loves the way that, as a family, they always know each other's problems and don't keep secrets from each other. 

But when her youngest child, fifteen-year-old Naomi, doesn't come home after her school play and a nationwide search for her begins, secrets previously kept from Jenny are revealed. 

Naomi has vanished, leaving her family broken and her mother desperately searching for answers. But the traces Naomi's left behind reveal a very different girl to the one Jenny thought she'd raised. And the more she looks the more she learns that everyone she trusted has been keeping secrets.

How well does she really know her sons, her husband? How well did she know Naomi? If Jenny is going to find her, she'll have to first uncover the truth about the daughter she thought told her everything. 

Review: In THE DAUGHTER, a family is torn apart by the disappearance of their 15-year old daughter. It’s apparent to me this family doesn’t communicate very well and the parents, Ted and Jenny, are oblivious to what their 3 children, Ed, Theo, and Naomi, are up to on a daily basis. I don’t know if this obliviousness is deliberate or just due to having busy lives. I don’t think THE DAUGHTER should be taken as a morality lesson about women needing to stay home with their children, as there have been many parents I know who work and are able to be present in their children’s lives. Sure, it’s a given fact we never know the people in our lives (family, friends, co-workers, etc.) as intimately as we know ourselves. However, there just seems to be a distance in this family which is exacerbated when 15 year old Naomi disappears. I also don’t think it was fair for Jenny to be blamed for the distance when Ted was no better a father. THE DAUGHTER was slow-moving and there were points when I totally lost interest in the characters because I felt little to no connection. THE DAUGHTER also ends in a strange way, with no real conclusion or closure which may not appeal to some readers.

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Book Review: The Mist-Torn Witches by: Barb Hendee


Publisher: Roc

Publication Date: May 7, 2013

Origins:  From Publisher for Review

Synopsis: In a small village in the nation of Droevinka, orphaned sisters Céline and Amelie Fawe scrape out a living selling herbal medicines in their apothecary shop. Céline earns additional money by posing as a seer and pretending to read people’s futures.

But they exist in a land of great noble houses, all vying for power, and when the sisters refuse the orders of a warlord prince, they must flee and are forced to depend on the warlord prince’s brother, Anton, for a temporary haven.

A series of bizarre deaths of pretty young girls are plaguing the village surrounding Prince Anton’s castle. He offers Céline and Amelie permanent protection if they can use their "skills" to find the killer.

With little choice, the sisters enter a world unknown to them — of fine gowns and banquets and advances from powerful men. Their survival depends on catching a murderer who appears to walk through walls and vanish without a trace — and the danger around them seems to grow with each passing night.

Review: THE MIST-TORN WITCHES is the first book in a new series by Barb Hendee, half of the writing team behind the Noble Dead series. The orphaned Fawe sisters, Céline and Amelie, sell herbal remedies (such as tisanes, infusions, macerates, tinctures, and elixirs) in the apothecary shop left to them when their mother died. Their mother was also a Seer, something which Céline now must pretend to be when a distraught young man comes calling. Years later, Céline is paid to ‘See’ a particular outcome for a client by a maniacal warlord prince, but when she can’t go through with it she and Amelie must run. They’re taken in by the prince’s brother…for a price. Céline must use her skills as a Seer to solve the strange wasting deaths of young, pretty village girls. THE MIST-TORN WITCHES is a very character driven novel which draws you in quickly. Céline and Amelie appealed to me in different ways and I was glad they weren’t carbon-copies of each other. All the characters stood out to me distinctly, the solution to the mystery was surprising, and I enjoyed the supernatural elements. It was gratifying to see how much the characters evolved over the course of the book. THE MIST-TORN WITCHES is an excellent start to a new series. Bravo!

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Book Review: Unelmoija: The Dreamshifter by: Elle Boca


Publisher: Poyeen Publishing

Publication Date: November 24, 2013

Origins:  From Author for Review

Synopsis: Ready for a new kind of urban fantasy? In Unelmoija: The Dreamshifter a pretty yet ordinary young woman's life is transformed beyond her imaginings when a traumatic incident changes her forever. An unexpected encounter with the father she never knew and a mysterious man that repels and attracts her at the same time leads her to discover she's not who she thinks she is. Amy, unassuming, intelligent, with newly acquired superhuman skills, lives in a historic Miami waterfront estate. She’s about to discover that a safe location, youth and special abilities may not be enough to protect her from whoever wants her dead.

Review: In UNELMOIJA: THE DREAMSHIFTER, we meet Amy, who is thrust into a world where she has no idea who to trust and figuring out her new abilities may be the only way to save her life. Amy meets her father for the first time and she learns about her people, the Weeia, and her powers as a dreamshifter. Amy’s father has had to make hard decisions as an Elder and he is both feared and despised for those choices. Amy’s also receiving help from Duncan Bittersdorp, who quickly becomes her friend and ally. Amy is kidnapped and her mother injured by people who want to bring down her father and use her abilities for their own ends. I liked Amy and Duncan both and was rooting for them to succeed against the obstacles they faced. I did like how the readers learned about the Weeia along with Amy. UNELMOIJA: THE DREAMSHIFTER was a solid introduction to a new world and leaves readers with a desire to pick up the next book in the series.

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