Friday, March 23, 2012

Invisible (Ivy Malone Mystery Series #1)

By: Lorena McCourtney

Ivy Malone has a curiosity that sometimes gets her into trouble, and it's only aggravated by her discovery that she can easily escape the public eye. So when vandals romp through the local cemetery, she takes advantage of her newfound anonymity and its unforeseen advantages as she launches her own unofficial investigation.
Despite her oddball humor and unconventional snooping, Ivy soon becomes discouraged by her failure to turn up any solid clues. And after Ivy witnesses something ominous and unexplained, she can't resist putting her investigative powers to work again. Even the authorities' attempts to keep Ivy out of danger and her nosy neighbor's match-making schemes can't slow her down. But will the determination that fuels this persistent, quirky sleuth threaten her very safety?

I knew nothing about this book coming into it. I saw it for free via Amazon Kindle and it was a mystery. Kindle, Free, Mystery - they had me at "free". I had just come off of another free book (the previous entry in this review blog) that really surprised me with it's quality, and the pleasant surprise carried over to Invisible. The premise of the book is that a Little Old Lady (LOL) becomes embroiled in a murder mystery involving an innocent young woman. After the death of her best friend and the desecration of a local cemetery, Ivy is suddenly at a loss of purpose with her life. Her recent discovery that she can become invisible opens the doors to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, she CAN still affect change and bring justice to an increasingly broken world. She decides to stake out the cemetery in hopes of catching the vandals, but is instead privy to the disposal of a large object over the side of a bridge and into the river. Soon after, she realizes that she hasn't seen her best friend's renter in a while. The search for Kendra Alexander reveals a deeper mystery. One that goes beyond a few toppled headstones. Ivy finds herself being wooed and hunted all at the same time.

Invisible is, refreshingly, well written. I know nothing of the author, but she is evidently a Christian as there are plenty of references -scriptural and otherwise - to Jesus and the Bible. Ivy draws on her faith to get her through the situations she finds herself in. The pacing is well done, the characters well thought out, and the story itself is quite unique - yet at the same time, standard. The idea of a geriatric crime solver is prime-time tv fodder (Diagnosis Murder, anyone?), but McCourtney breathes a new life into it.

However, I must caution the reader: if you get this book, you will eventually find yourself drawn to the Ivy Malone series. Now I have to get the rest of the books!

Soul Identity

By: Dennis Batchelder

You can't take it with you... but what if you could? Most people believe their souls outlive their bodies. Most people would find an organization that tracks their souls into the future and passes on their banked money and memories compelling. Scott Waverly isn't like most people. He spends his days finding and fixing computer security holes. And Scott is skeptical of his new client's claim that they have been calculating and tracking soul identities for almost twenty-six hundred years. Are they running a freaky cult? Or a sophisticated con job? Scott needs to save Soul Identity from an insider attack. Along the way, he discovers the importance of the bridges connecting people's lives.

Soul Identity turned out to be a real gem of a find. I have been on a kick of finding free eBooks on Amazon and Souls Identity happened to be one of them. Usually, the free books are either so old they are "classics", and therefore bland, or they are so poorly written that giving them away is the only way to boost 'sales' numbers. This book is, refreshingly, neither.

Batchelder puts a new and interesting twist on immortality by suggesting that a person's soul can come back to inhabit someone else after a person dies. It's not so much immortality as much as it is a lineage - but one that doesn't require a specific last name or gene pool. It is truly an interesting concept; that a person can have the same soul as, say, Albert Einstein, Confucius, King Tut, and the Biblical Adam, and not have it revolve around some sort of mysticism or religion is quite an accomplishment. I had no trouble suspending belief and buying into the premise.

I haven't read any of Batchelder's work before, but I intend to find more of his books as this one blew me away.

Soul Identity is a well paced, interesting story that had me swiping from page to page. I actually couldn't read it fast enough. Since the story sets itself up in an unconventional way for a sequel, I must now go and find Soul Intent.

Get this book! It's well worth the price of admission!