Review 5 star
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Small Forgotten Moments by Annalisa Crawford is a work of literary fiction about a young woman named Jo Mckye who is an artist in London and suffers from severe amnesia. She can’t remember much about her past before the last three years. She doesn’t know how her current friends, Nathan and Lily, came to be in her life. But she does have a recollection that her mother lives in Cornwall—and then there’s Zenna, a girl she paints and sketches over and over again. All of her art is about Zenna. Jo has constant nightmares about this artwork too, and they’re getting worse. At an exhibit of her art, she meets a former boyfriend who she doesn’t even recall dating and she knows something is seriously wrong. She returns to her mother’s home where the truth about Zenna awaits. Zenna was a real person and Jo has been doing everything in her power to forget about her.
Annalisa Crawford’s story is intense in emotion and does a good job of taking suspense in an intellectual direction. It links a strong mystery plot with a mesmerizing level of detail into Jo’s mind because the mystery she has to solve is about herself. While it’s a big challenge for Jo to be a detective when the clues are all embedded in her literally mind-numbing lack of memory, it’s a delight for a reader to be swept along in this story. It’s both poignant and action-packed. I couldn’t put this book down because the creepy, fascinating world of someone who has undergone hypnotherapy in order to forget a tragedy—and then is slowly having her memories resurface—was so compelling and well shown. A talented work of fiction, Small Forgotten Moments builds minute-by-minute tension to a gripping conclusion as Jo’s confused, yet assertive personality swirls from the pages much like the vividly described art of Zenna that she creates.
Review 5 star
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Polish Dragon P.I. (Midnight Cranes) is a cozy mystery book by Steve Zimcosky. Private investigator Tom Sipowicz has just returned from his last excursion, and is hoping for a short break. But the president of a manufacturing company wants a private investigation into the deaths of two workers at his plant. Sipowicz gets hired at the plant, MaGed Material Handling, as a low-level laborer so he can probe into the situation. Does anyone know anything about these deaths? What about the mysterious defective parts that keep coming from the parent company in Germany every few months? It isn’t long before he finds out there’s a lot of truth to be discovered at this seemingly ordinary place full of cranes, welders, and secrets.
A brisk and easy-to-read cozy mystery, Polish Dragon P.I. (Midnight Cranes) is a delight. It has a lot of fascinating details of work in a factory, plus a nice mix of characters as Tom goes about his rounds pretending to be employed at MaGed while really finding some adventure in an engaging action story. Steve Zimcosky has written a great book for readers who enjoy reading plausible and realistic stories. Events are really well foreshadowed—I didn’t guess who the main villains in the plant were when they were introduced, yet afterwards it all made sense with the way they were shown at first—and the gradually building threads of Tom’s dealings, on a tight time deadline, with various investigative agents, a quirky night-owl chemist, a funny female sidekick, and a shady drug dealer known as the Ghost kept me on my toes right until the end. Very entertaining story, with good execution of the mystery elements, unique plotting that hinges on a rare language, and a charming hero.
Review 5 star
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Miracle on Aisle Two is a light-hearted, feel-good Christmas novella. Author Beth Carter writes a about a surprise romance between a struggling single mom and a wealthy architect with a spirit of generosity. Adam Donovan grew up poor before he became successful and when he spots a desperate single mother failing to recover layaway toys in Target because she’s just lost her job, he offers to pay for everything. Madison is suspicious of him, but one date leads to another date, a tour of the amazing hotel he’s renovated, and an introduction to her whip-smart, cute little daughter Betsy. Adam is finding his way into Madison’s life and he seems too good to be true. But does he have a connection to the bitter divorce that put Madison’s dentist employer out of business and ruined her life?
What a perfect story for Christmas! Much like Madison falls for earnest, slightly goofy Adam, I found myself delighted by Miracle on Aisle Two’s encouraging tone that sometimes good things really do happen to people. There are miracles, surprises, and a touch of Santa-for-grownups in the world, giving the mature presents of friendliness, caring, and making things right. Madison is a practical person who struggles to accept a sudden turn for the better, with an endearing klutziness in the face of so many changes crowding into her life. I saw a lot of myself in her and I think most women would find Beth Carter’s book a pleasant and surprisingly vivid read about the strength and caring that the holiday season brings out in people. A nice supporting cast of a loyal friend, a distraught dentist, and a much-loved but hard to manage child round out this cozy little novella that has a warm and fuzzy twist at the end.
This is the companion for Sarah Scheele's newsletter blog. In it I share reviews for books I'd recommend/are similar to my own.