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Book review crime fiction history mystery reading suspense

Read and Review (R&R) – “The Lessons We Learn”

“The Lessons We Learn” by Liz Milliron

Betty Ahern – the bold, risk-taking PI with moxie, wit, and heart!

It’s March 1943, and Betty Ahern is back and taking on a case that is very personal. When Betty’s best friend, Lee is jailed for the murder of his father, Betty must prove his innocence and get justice for her friend.

Betty and Homicide Detective Sam McKinnon team up and together they investigate Blackie Thomas, a numbers and illegal gambling boss, and the men and women who do his bidding. Tracking down Buffalo’s seedy and corrupt characters is a challenge, but Betty is determined and will stop at nothing to question them in brave Betty style so she can solve the case before Lee’s court plea date.

“The Lessons We Learn” is story three in Liz Milliron’s Homefront Mystery Series. Milliron immerses you into the time period and holds you there. Her characters jump off the page – some into your heart, and some into the river.

A page-turner filled with mystery and history.

Categories
Book review fiction history mystery reading suspense Uncategorized

Read and Review (R&R) – “The Lost Apothecary” by Sarah Penner

The Lost Apothecary
By Sarah Penner

I am a fan of historical fiction and when I read the synopsis of this book, it immediately caught my interest.

A female apothecary in 1791 dispenses poisons to women to liberate the women from the men who have wronged them.

During this time period, a woman could do little to remedy a horrible situation. That is where Nella, the apothecary came in handy. Her shop of poison remedies is discretely hidden in Bear Alley, a back street in London.

This story is written in first person and goes back and forth between three POVs:
Nella, the apothecary who dispenses the poisons;
Eliza, a twelve year old lady’s maid who comes to Nella’s shop seeking assistance for her mistress; and
Caroline, a present day woman traveling to London on her 10th wedding anniversary. Her plans and dreams however are ruined by the infidelity of her husband shortly before the trip causing Caroline to take a soul searching journey to London alone.

When Caroline is invited to go mudlarking (scrounging for treasures along the shoreline) of the Thames’ River, and discovers an old vial with a bear logo scratched into the bottle, the past and present collide.

I enjoyed this book and found the old natural remedies fascinating. Sarah Penner did a wonderful job of creating in her characters a likeability that I found myself rooting on even the apothecary, Nella.

Filled with mystery, murder, betrayal, heartache, and lost dreams, “The Lost Apothecary” is Sarah Penner’s debut novel and a New York Times Bestseller.

Categories
Book review fiction history reading

Read and Review (R&R) – “Prisoner 88” by Leah Pileggi

“Prisoner 88”
by Leah Pileggi

One of the authors at the Festival of Books in the Alleghenies that I talked to was Leah Pileggi. Leah is the author of “Prisoner 88,” a middle grade historical fiction novel.

It’s 1885. Ten-year-old Jake is sentenced to five years in the Idaho Territorial Penitentiary for shooting a man who had threatened his pa. From the very beginning, you can’t help but feel for and love Jake.

Although this book is primarily for young readers, adults will enjoy it as well. A quick read (142 pages), I found it hard to put down.

Inspired the by the real-life imprisonment of a minor in America’s Old West. This book is well-researched and detailed.

Leah does a wonderful job of conveying the prison system during this time period from the point of view of an uneducated, naïve, and impoverished little boy.

Strong characters, authentic dialogue, and well-developed setting make “Prisoner 88” a great read for you or the middle grade student in your life.

Categories
Book review history mystery reading suspense Uncategorized writing

Read and Review (R&R)

When I heard that Liz Milliron was writing a second book involving her character Betty Ahern in the Homefront Mystery Series, I couldn’t wait to read it. Below is my review.

History and Mystery

It’s 1942, and Betty Ahern is back and leaving her mark not only on the engines she builds at Bell Aircraft but as a darn-good private detective in the First Ward, a neighborhood in the City of Buffalo, NY.

In “The Stories We Tell,” Liz Milliron’s second book in the Homefront Mystery series, courageous and bold Betty takes on a case of a co‑worker at Bell who is grief-stricken over the sudden death of her grandmother. Before long, Betty is caught up in a secret dating back fifty years. Determined to solve the case, she enlists the help of her loyal friends, Dot, Lee, and Detective MacKinnon of the Buffalo PD. Betty uses her moxie to uncover the truth as one clue leads to another and more and more suspects die. Betty better watch out, or she may be next!

Liz Milliron does an exceptional job of dropping you into the time period and holding you there. Her characters are real, likeable, and her descriptions of the ethnic neighborhoods, the people, and culture during that era are well-researched and impressive.

A great page-turner. I can’t wait to see what Betty is up to next!