Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Halo Effect by Anne D. LeClaire

Yet, one day Lucy doesn’t come home. Days later her body is found deep in the woods. The initial pain of the loss brings Will and Sophie together, but Will is angry. He cannot get past the anger and rage of someone taking their daughter. Sophie finds her own way to deal, by getting involved in finding lost children and bringing them home.

They no longer communicate, and the anger only builds. Still, their marriage is not at a crisis point, one that Will does not want. But he is unable to move on.

When Sophie takes a break, and goes to the beach with a friend for the summer, Will suddenly understands that he is driving a wedge between them. Yet, he cannot control the rage that runs through him.

When Father Gervase asks him to paint portraits of the saints for a new cathedral, he is not interested. Yet Father Gervase is insistent. Slowly Will finds interest in the project, and as he chooses those who hold the look of pain, he finds a way to make them shine with saintliness. Unknowingly, his project will take him to places and to meet people that he cannot have imagined.

One of his models possesses something of Lucy’s that she would never part with. Will is incensed, wanting to act before speaking. Yet he finds that there is no guilt in this young student. Little does he know that the evil is lurking very close and that his questions and curiosity which have taken over some of the rage, is bringing the evil to light. Will he find the answer before one of Lucy’s best friends dies?

LeClaire has given us darkness, and evil, but finds a way to grace though the light of love. Her characters are your neighbors and friends, and the circumstances they experience happen all too often. She creates fierce, independent thinkers, and finds a way to tie in the events that shape them all. You grow to know and enjoy the individuals, and begin to understand their pain.

If you enjoy stories of people threaded with suspense and danger, you will find this The Halo Effect fits the criteria. The beauty of the paintings and the interaction with the priest ads a glow of greatness to a darkened soul. The story is dark and yet a twist of lightness shines through giving you hope for those involved.

This would be a great book for a reading group or book club, with lots of interesting thought for debate.

Rating 4/5

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Tips for Living by Renee Shafransky

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: ' Tips for Living', A Murder Mystery by Renee Shafransky.

In Tips for Living, by Renee Shafransky, we meet Nora, a woman who had the perfect life until the truth came through. Finding out that her husband had an affair was not the worst of it. The fact that he made another woman pregnant, that was the breaking point.

To help rebuild her life and confidence she moves to a small resort town some distance from her previous home in New York City. Here she begins to pick up the shattered pieces of betrayal and hurt. She still understands that all will take time, and that she must get beyond her past. She finds a new job and works to make a name for herself in this new home.

Suddenly the past comes crashing through. Her ex-husband and his new family have bought a home in her new town. Not only that but the new wife has joined her yoga group, and she is now in closer proximity than is comfortable. As her life again begins to swirl downward, a murder occurs that shatters her resolve in such a way that her life once again falls apart.

Who killed her ex-husband and his wife and why does she have no memory of the night it happened? Where did the injuries on her hand and arms come from and why can’t she understand her memory loss?

Trying to hold herself together she becomes a suspect in a crime she is sure she did not commit. Asking questions, she puts herself in the cross-hairs of one who will kill to keep a secret from coming out.

Can she help to find the answers to both the murders and her memory before she becomes a casualty as well? The secrets are layered in piles that hide them among the twigs of truth. Can she free herself from betrayal once again, and help solve the brutal murder of her ex-husband and his wife?

Shafransky does a wonderful job of creating scenarios that create questions and her characters are so real you would believe you know them. Her characterization of them brings you to some that remind you of those you know in your own circles. The realism is quite well done.

If you enjoy murder mysteries and crime stories you will find this a great addition to your library. The work is fast paced and keeps you digging for the truth.

This would be a great work for a reading group or book club with many avenues of discussion.

Rating 3/5