#FridayReads 2020-10-16 – ‘Betwixt’, ‘Petra’s Ghost’, and ‘The Name Of The Star’

This week, all my books are haunted but by very different kinds of ghosts. I have the haunting of an Irish pilgrim walking the Camino de Santiago, a woman from Phoenix inheriting a haunted house in Salem and a New Orleans teenager at school in London discovering she can see dead people.

‘Petra’s Ghost’ by C.S. O’Cinneide (2019)

C. S. 0’Cinneide is the pen name of Carole Kennedy, a Canadian writer who has written two novels and who runs the She Kills Lit blog which she uses ‘to spotlight and celebrate women writers of thriller and noir.’

Tangental thought: I had to look it up to check but 0’Cinneide is the Gaelic version of O’Kennedy or Kennedy. Imagine that conversation on Ellis island.

I approached 0’Cinneide’s books backwards by accident. I was attracted to ‘Starr Sting Scale’, her dark, violent but witty book about Candace Starr, an assassin who is trying, unsuccessfully, to add the word ‘former’ to her job title. I went looking for more books by her and found that ‘Petra’s Ghost’ was being issued as an ebook in the UK this month. It was only after I received it that I realised ‘Petra’s Ghost’ had been published in 2019 but hadn’t made it to UK Kindle until this year.

The inspiration for the novel came from the author’s pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago. It tells the story of an Irish pilgrim, walking the Camino, carrying his wife’s ashes and a secret about how she died. After a young woman goes missing along the Camino, he finds himself stalked by a mysterious figure.

I’m expecting something very different for ‘The Starr Sting Scale’. Something haunted by grief and searching for hope and forgiveness.

Betwixt by Darynda Jones (2020)

Darynda Jones is from the American South West and has twenty-five novels to her name including sixteen novels in her series about Charlie Davidson, part-time PI and full-time Grim Reaper. I was amazed to find that her first book wasn’t published until 2011. Darynda Jones is so prolific that she makes Stephen King seem like someone with writer’s block.

Before she began her writing career, she raised her sons, picked up a degree in Sign Language Interpreting from the University of New Mexico and worked as an interpreter.

Sadly I DNF’d the first Charlie Davidson book when it came out. I’ve often wondered if I missed something, given that I know lots of people who love the series. So, when Darynda Jones started a new series this year with no paranormal elements in it, I decided to give it a try. I enjoyed ‘A Bad Day For Sunshine’. It gave me great characters to cheer for, a puzzle to solve and it made me smile. I’m on board for the rest of the series.

This week’s read, ‘Betwixt’, is another new series that Darynda Jones has started this year that I thought I’d try while waiting for the next Vikram Sunshine book. This one is about Defiance Dayne who, in her forties find herself divorced, homeless and stripped of the restaurant she’d run in her home town of Pheonix. Then a stranger bequeaths her an old house in Salem and she goes there to check it out. That’s when the weirdness start and Defiance finds out who she really is.

The publishers describe ‘Betwixt’ as:

Paranormal Women’s Fiction with a bit of class, and a lot of sass, for anyone who feels like age is just a number!

The ‘Women’s Fiction’ label is not entirely encouraging but I tried the first couple of chapters and it seems to a light, fun read. I’m hoping that wit and plot out-weigh mid-forties wish fulfilment.

‘The Name Of The Star’ by Maureen Johnson (2011)

Maureen Johnson is an American, originally from Philadelphia, now based in New York, who has published seventeen Young Adult novels, five stand-alone novels and twelve books split across four series.

The ‘About Me section of her blog is split into three, a fancy bio for marketeers, a long bio that’s quite funny and a short bio that just reads: ‘I write books’. I liked that.

I also liked this picture from her Instagram account:

‘The Name Of The Star’ is a Young Adult thriller about Rory, a teenage girl from Louisiana, attending a residential Sixth Form College in London.

I’ve started the book and so far, a lot of fun is had with Rory discovering the eccentricities in living amongst the English, including taking assignments so seriously and learning to play hockey (that’s field hockey for those of you who live in countries with real winters and play what we in England call Ice Hockey).

Rory is easy to like and the pleasure she takes in her new environment is engaging. The biggest suspension of disbelief point is that it’s rare to find a residential Sixth Form College. Wikipedia says there is one but I haven’t been able to find it.

The plot hangs off the fact Rory’s Sixth Form College is in the East End and so in the middle of things when the Jack The Ripper murders start to be repeated. Oh, and Rory seems to have acquired the ability to see dead people but hasn’t worked that out yet.

I’m expecting something light and fun with just enough plot and threat for me to be able to route for Rory and her friends.

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