Both of these made me laugh!
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Friday, November 20, 2020
I was surprised to hear that Maria V. Snyder was writing science fiction. I've read Snyder's Study novels which begin with Poison Study and are exciting fantasy with compelling, memorable characters and great world building.
When I saw Ashley's review of the third book in Snyder's Sentinels of the Galaxy series, I barely skimmed it because I wanted to begin with the first book. Snyder and YA science fiction--a combination I didn't want to miss.
In Navigating the Stars, Seventeen-year-old Lyra has had a disjointed childhood as her archaeologist parents have moved from planet to planet investigating the secrets behind the Terra Cotta Warriors found on different planets throughout the galaxy.
The characters are likable, and the relationship between Lyra and her parents is believable. Lyra resents the moves that uproot her life, but the parental relationship is strong and supportive.
The world-building is, for the most part, limited to the interactions of the characters on the base itself, with some development of the archaeological dig site. The planet is a desert with sandstorms that can interrupt the work, but doesn't require further detail.
The science takes in the conundrum of space dilation--and the difficulty of adjusting to the phenomenon of a few months in space travel for a crew and passengers becomes decades for those on the planet they just left. Snyder invented the Q-net to make communications possible, and Lyra is a talented hacker, who "worms" her way through the Q-net with skill and often impactful results.
Navigating the Stars differs from Snyder's other novels, aimed as it is toward a YA audience, but it was a fun and exciting experience. Could have done without some of the YA romance, but I can't wait to get to book two!
---From description: Decimated by plague, the human population is now a minority. Robots—complex AIs almost indistinguishable from humans—are the ruling majority. Nine months ago, in a controversial move, the robot government opened a series of preserves, designated areas where humans can choose to live without robot interference. Now the preserves face their first challenge: someone has been murdered
An intriguing concept that, for me, was not fully realized. The Preserve is a dystopian murder mystery with many elements of contemporary problems transformed by shifting the power from human to AI. It is interesting that the author refers to "robots" rather than AI, and that the most likable character is Kir, the robot partner of the Preserve police chief Jesse Laughton.
Because the robots are so human in their character flaws of prejudice and addiction, it is difficult to think of them as "not human."
Although an interesting police procedural, perhaps the most provocative aspect for me is...what is left out. The book jumps into a situation with no background or history. A little historical explanation would have been nice, if not at the beginning, at least at some point.
Kir's mechanical body blends with humans, and his brain has all of the complex, moral, and empathetic qualities we would hope for (and are often missing from) genuine humans. The only real difference between humans and AI, as presented in the novel, is that their bodies don't bleed. The movements and abilities are the same and function physically as efficiently as humans. Their "brains" also function much as in humans--with good or bad opinions and intentions.
I had all kinds of questions as I read, more questions than answers. Sometimes, however, raising questions is enough to make a book worthwhile.
Dystopian/Police Procedural. Nov. 3, 2020. Print length: 256 pages.
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Books--there are never enough; I'm continually adding to my list. I always find time to read them, but taking the time to review them is another story.News of the World by Paulette Jiles. (Thanks, Sam!) I read it on my Kindle, but I ordered a physical copy for my husband.
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Saturday, November 07, 2020
The Eagle Catcher by Margaret Coel, Chaos on Catnet by Naomi Kritzer, and What My Husband Did by Kerry Wilkinson
Mysteries that take place in the West appeal to me. Favorite authors include Tony Hillerman, Craig Johnson, Cormac McCarthy, and R. Allen Chappell.
I've added Margaret Coel to that list, after reading The Eagle Catcher, set on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. (Thanks, Cathy!)
Father John O'Malley, Jesuit priest and recovering alcoholic works with Vicki Holden, an Arapaho lawyer in an attempt to find the killer of a tribal chairman and make sure his nephew is not convicted of the murder.
Injustice is a theme, both historical and present day, as hidden crimes from past and present come to light. Social and culture prejudices are thematic, as well, and blended easily into the mystery plot.
The Eagle Catcher is the first book in the series, so I have more to read! Since some of my latest books have been abandoned for lack of interest or for mediocre writing, I'm doubly grateful for a new series to enjoy.
Although I haven't read the first book (Catfishing on Catnet), I did find this YA novel intriguing.
from description: "When a mysterious entity starts hacking into social networks and chat rooms to instigate paranoia and violence in the real world, it’s up to Steph and her new friend, Nell, to find a way to stop it—with the help of their benevolent AI friend, CheshireCat."
Chaos on Catnet is a YA thriller with some genuine considerations about social media/the internet and its ability to influence hundreds of thousands of people. As I was reading it, we were all watching social media and news media as the election approached, and even now, in the aftermath of the election, we see the influence of the media for manipulating emotions.
Pretty scary the way those with an agenda can influence hundreds of thousands of people to violence. In the book and in real life, this happens.
At the same time, the internet does have many positive benefits. Friendships with people you may never meet in person, inspiration concerning hobbies and interests, and finding acceptance and support among like-minded people. Steph has this support among her friends.
An AI with human qualities is still a long way in the future, if ever; but the ability of people to use the internet and social media in a destructive fashion has been troublesome for a long time. Even more so during all the problems 2020 has presented.
Because I think the novel is of current interest, I'm reviewing it now rather than scheduling it for later.
YA/Thriller/Science, Tech. April 27, 2021. Print length: 304 pages.
I like Kerry Wilkinson a lot, but this was not my favorite. However, looking at Goodreads reviews, Almost everyone else, loved it. So...there you go.
from description: "A little girl has been left for dead. And now my husband is missing."
Things aren't looking good for Maddy's husband Richard, and in a village that knows everything that happens and closes ranks, things aren't looking good for Maddy either.
I realize the cutting back and forth to Maddy's childhood serves a purpose, but I found it distracting. Much simpler to give a brief background concerning Maddy's father having been convicted of a crime he didn't commit.
Maddy, as she tries to puzzle out the situation of her husband's absence, also has to face some of the elements of their marriage.
Mystery. Nov. 17, 2020. Print length: 360 pages.
Today is my birthday, and my daughter texted that she gave me a new president! Couldn't be happier!
Saturday, October 31, 2020
I don't know what happened, but this morning I found 160+ entries on my book blog Feedly! How will I ever catch up, and where were all of these yesterday or the day before? Some I understand--Foreword Reviews and Civilian Reader will publish a bunch at once. However, there are many from blogs I read regularly that just appeared!
Trick or Treat? Finding all of these at once feels like an unpleasant trick. Oh, well, it isn't as if I have big plans today. :)
On the Upside
* Yesterday, Fee and I voted. Bossier Parish made it easy, and we were able to deliver our ballots by driving through a location at the Bossier Parish Court House and delivering them in person (through a car window)! We had planned to go to the History Center polling place last week, but there was a line. Not a terribly long one like in many places, but we decided to do the drive-through for convenience. It felt good, and I'm glad to have that done.
* I've had wonderful Halloween mail!
* Fee (my Renaissance Man) made a pecan pie! What is a pecan pie but candy in a pie pan. Mmmm.
* We celebrated another anniversary on the 29th. :)
* No more mosquitoes! It isn't cold here, but cold enough to eliminate those blood suckers. Finally.
Cathy's post about her El Dias de la Muertos alter with all of the decorations, photos, and memories of loved ones inspired me to make a collage of some of the La Calaveras Catrina dolls I've made in the past. Amelia liked the first one, so I made better ones for her and Erin, then made one more (in her skivvies) for me.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
This would be the perfect year end Daylight Saving Time
Sunday, October 25, 2020
I rarely "read" by audio book, but I did listen to Rosemary and Rue. Two problems I have with audio books:
1. A problem with sitting and listening, so I had to keep finding things to do as I listened. Things that don't take much thought--so my house was a little cleaner when I finished, I made progress on a little embroidery project, and I walked a lot. It just takes so damn long to get through an audio book and this one is unbelievably long.
2. Listening to a woman try to give assorted male voices takes me out of a story. I know this is difficult, and I admire good readers, but still...
As far as the book itself, I was interested in October Daye and her problems, but the almost getting killed, surviving, almost getting killed, surviving, over and over was well over the top and strangely unexciting.
Ultimately, I'm giving it a 3/5 because I see potential and this is the first in a series that received two Hugo nominations. I may read the next book to see if some of the problems I had are resolved by reading instead of listening and if the author skips some of the filler. Eleven hours is simply too long when you can read it in half the time.
Urban Fantasy. 2010. Print length: 346 pages.
A friend of ours actually caught a squirrel in the act of carving her pumpkins.
Thursday, October 22, 2020
I love allusions and little easter eggs in a novel, but not when they are as contrived as the ones in this one. Horowitz did a great deal of research and planning to fit them all in, but will you recognize any of them? No, because each one is part of the puzzle the author builds.
While it is fun to search for easter eggs someone, even if not you, might recognize, it is annoying to have to have each one explained to you in a lengthy dissection at the end of the book.
I can admire the Horowitz's planning all of the details with extensive research of anything that could possibly amplify the lion/leo trope he has decided to use, the technique is more self-promoting than needed to advance the plot.
Most reviews are extremely positive, but I found the book manipulative and the pacing slow and a bit disjointed.
Monday, October 19, 2020
The Gentleman and the Thief includes the previous characters, but focuses on Hollis Darby and Ana Newport.
from description: A gentleman scribes penny dreadful novels by night and falls in love with a woman who is a music teacher by day and a thief at night.
The penny dreadful stories didn't work quite as well in this one, but it was still a fun read.
Read in April. Blog review scheduled for Oct. 19, 2020.
NetGalley/Shadow Mountain Publishing
Historical mystery/Romance. Nov. 3, 2020. Print length: 368 pages.
Friday, October 16, 2020
When Winter emerged from the coma resulting from the blow to her head, she found herself hyper-aware and more observant than she had been previously.
from description: "After human remains are discovered in the woods, someone will go to lethal lengths to keep an old mystery buried. Special Agent Black is pulled into an investigation that hits too close to home. In the town where her parents were murdered, Winter needs to find one killer...while being stalked by the shadow of another."
Although there is another of those pesky prologues, the first chapter grabbed my attention. From then on my interest never flagged. Winter has a special talent resulting from her traumatic brain injury that aids in her investigations, but that comes with consequences. She keeps her ability to herself, much like Magnus "Steps" Craig in the Spencer Kope novels.
The plot was fast-paced and gripping and the characters imperfect and likable. A dark plot without getting to graphic.
Suspense. 2019. Print length: 318 pages
There is a thread being carried through from Winter's Mourn as FBI Agent Winter Black continues her hope of finding and nailing the serial killer who murdered her parents and abducted her younger brother. Winter's Curse, however, contains another complete case as the FBI becomes involved with a bank robbery that appears to be the first step in a sinister plan that involves more senseless deaths.
from description: "A blessing? A curse? It’s not easy to possess the gift of knowing too much.What at first seems like a standalone bank robbery becomes something much darker as a pair of masterminds hack their bloody way onto the list of the most notorious US heists. It’s not a job exclusive to the FBI, but Winter’s office nemesis, Sun Ming, is convinced that she holds the key to taking down the murderous criminals hungry for fame."
Blessing or curse, Winter's gift is useful to a successful outcome.
The secondary characters continue to develop and other characters are also weaving themselves into the storyline.
Like the first book, you have to be able to suspend disbelief. A lot of people die and one of the villains is a not truly believable evil psychopath. Nevertheless, this was another suspenseful and absorbing plot, and I can't wait to read the next book!
Suspense. 2020. Print length: 290 pages.
I've been making Halloween mail, embroidering, and trying to finish some garden cleanup. Reading is still an everyday occurrence, and I'm glad I found a new series that reads quickly and keeps my attention.
Enjoy you are enjoying Halloween Season!
Saturday, October 10, 2020
An injured woman stumble into a gathering of teenagers by a lake. Detective Casey Duncan and Sheriff Eric Dalton happen to be there at the time and quickly realize this could be an attack by hostiles. The woman doesn't speak English and is in bad shape. Casey and Eric have a bad feeling about possible outcomes of this attack, and when they arrive at the tourists' campsite, they discover the remains of at least two men, although it is difficult to tell because of animal predation.
Casey has been pondering the reluctance of the council to admit to the problem of the hostiles, and as things go from bad to worse, Casey becomes more certain that the council is responsible for the hostiles, not simply for wanting to avoid doing anything about them.
I've liked every book in the Rockton series so far, even if this is not my favorite. My curiosity about what comes next is intense.
Read in September. I will mention this again closer to the date of publication.
NetGalley/St. Martin's Press
Mystery/Suspense. Feb. 2, 2021. Print length: 368 pages.
Thursday, October 08, 2020
Spellbreaker by Charlie Holmberg, Girls of Brackenhill by Kate Moretti, and Frozen Minds by Cheryl Rees-Price
I've been having trouble with my books lately. Six books abandoned, one after 70%, although I may return to that one.
"The orphaned Elsie Camden learned as a girl that there were two kinds of wizards in the world: those who pay for the power to cast spells and those, like her, born with the ability to break them. But as an unlicensed magic user, her gift is a crime. Commissioned by an underground group known as the Cowls, Elsie uses her spellbreaking to push back against the aristocrats and help the common man. She always did love the tale of Robin Hood."
There were parts I liked, but overall, something didn't quite work for me. I didn't care for Holmberg's earlier series, but decided to give this one a try. Evidently, most readers are fans of the author's The Paper Magician and like this one as well.
Fantasy. Nov. 1, 2020. Print length: 284 pages.
From description: "A newly engaged woman is summoned to her aunt's storybook mansion in the Catskill mountains - her beloved aunt has been killed in a tragic car accident and her uncle is gravely ill and at the end of his life, to the scene of her sister's mysterious and traumatic disappearance sixteen years earlier. She discovers that some family secrets will not stay buried and sometimes old ghosts haunt forever. "
My attempts at finding something a little spooky for the season were again met with disappointment. This one had so many blind alleys, and the open-ended conclusion left me unsatisfied.
Mystery. Nov. 1, 2020. Print length: 330 pages.
------The following book worked better for me. :)
I read The Silent Quarry a few weeks ago and liked it. Frozen Minds is the second book featuring DI Winter Meadows and set in Wales.
from description: "Bethesda House is a haven for vulnerable adults, those with complex mental disabilities. Their safety is dependent on those who care for them, and their wellbeing centres on routine.
When a body is discovered in the freezer at Bethesda House it is easy to shift the blame on the residents. Inside the house, they see and hear everything.
Who would believe them?"
Winters and DCI Edris have a good relationship and the rest of the team is developing character. The residents and their carers are only some of the suspects as there has been financial misconduct as well. I'll be reading the third book in the series soon.
Police Procedural. 2016/2020. Print length: 225 pages.
Thursday, October 01, 2020
The first books are set during the reign of Henry II, and the main character, Adelia Aguilar is a medical doctor trained in Salerno, Italy. In the first books, her friend Mansur takes the role as doctor with Adelia as his assistant. Because she is a woman, Adelia must rely on this subterfuge in order to practice her skills: investigative, medical, and logical.
In Death and the Maiden, Adelia is older and Henry II has died, but Adelia has been training her daughter Allie to succeed her in her medical (and investigative) capacity, and it is Allie who becomes the main protagonist in this book. Adelia and Rowley make welcome appearances, but the story revolves around Allie.
When Adelia injures her ankle, Allie is allowed to go to Ely without her to care for their friend Gyltha, who is ill. As Gyltha recovers, Allie enjoys the sense of independence, but she but she is also concerned about the disappearances of several young women in the area. A handsome young lord from a neighboring estate adds a hint possible romance (which would greatly appease Rowley, who is eager to see his daughter married). But then Hawise, a young woman who has been a friend during Allie's stay, disappears and the suspense mounts.
Hopefully, Samantha Norman will take the opportunity to write further of the adventures of Allie, even if Adelia and Rowley stay a bit in the background.
Read in May. Blog review scheduled for Oct. 1, 2020.
NetGalley/Harper Collins/William Morrow
Historical Mystery. Oct. 20, 2020. Print length: 416 pages.
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
I've read several books by Mulrooney and have enjoyed them. Never Came Home is the second book in her new series featuring DI Siv Drummond. I read the first one about this time last year and liked the focus on the investigation while Mulrooney continues building the character studies of Siv, Ali, and Patrick.
Before moving from London to Berminster, Siv lost her husband in an accident. He left and never came home, and Siv continues to grieve.
Siv's new case involves a mother who left the house intending to be back quickly, but who never came home. Now, six years later, Lyn Dimas' body has been found, and a case that was written off as a possible suicide becomes a murder investigation.
Depending on her small team of Ali and Patrick, Siv attempts to untangle all the lies and misdirection that led to Lyn's murder. And there are plenty of lies and secrets to be uncovered.
Since it will be another year or so before the next Siv Drummond installment, I may have to go back and check on more of the Tyrone Swift series which I also liked.
Police Procedural. Oct. 6, 2020. ----------
Tomorrow is World Postcard Day, and I've got some postcards almost ready to send. Mine are Halloween themed, but they are postcards, so I'm counting them.
The spider lilies are up and making me happy, the cosmos and lantana are still blooming like mad, the milkweed has little left after the Monarch caterpillar feasts. The second bloom of the daylilies is over, but everything else is going strong.
Friday, September 25, 2020
Saturday, September 19, 2020
DI Winter Meadows has returned to the village where thirty years earlier the murder of one girl and the serious injuries of a second girl proved a devastating event for a small village.
Winters went to school with both girls and had a crush on Gwen, the girl who survived. Gwen had no memories of what happened that day, and the person responsible was never found.
Gwen, now married with two adolescent children, has begun having flashbacks to the day of the murder. Nothing consistent, a brief image at best, but the possibility of further memories may put her life at risk.
Winter Meadows re-opens the case, hoping to discover who killed Bethan and attacked Gwen. A number of suspects are unhappy about further investigation into the case and may not want Gwen to remember.
The conclusion was not what I expected. I liked the characters and the setting--this may be a new series for me. As a first book in a series, the introduction of characters is almost as important as the mystery.
Police Procedural/Mystery. 2014. Print length: 259 pages.
Attica Locke has become one of my favorite writers, and this article gives so much information about her family and her books. Why Did My Black Ancestors Never Leave Texas.
Bibliotherapists and Ann Cleeves
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Set in the same world as Thorn, Theft of Sunlight features Rae, daughter of a horse rancher. Alyrra, the betrayed princess turned goose girl, is now about to marry the prince. But although Alyrra plays an important role, she is not the protagonist this time.
Rae, who limps as a result of a club foot, has come to the palace to visit her cousin and been drafted into becoming an attendant to Alyrra. Rae agrees because she has a purpose of her own--finding out who is behind the stealing of children and selling them into slavery.
Despite the handicap of a club foot, Rae pursues the dangerous task of discovering the how and the who behind the thefts of children. Another one of Khanani's wonderful female protagonists, Rae is defined by courage and persistence.
Danger and suspense keep the pace quick. Who to trust? How deep is the conspiracy?
My only problem--waiting for the next book. Recommended!
I'm reviewing this early since the publication date is so far away, but will mention it again in March, 2021.
YA/Fantasy. March 23, 2020. Print length: 528 pages that absolutely flew by!
Monday, September 14, 2020
Inspector Treadles accused of murder? Two dead bodies and Treadles in a locked room. The two men are connected to his wife's business, and the inspector won't defend himself. Things aren't looking good.
Treadles, a traditional man, has had problems with his wife's inheritance of a large manufacturing concern. Not only is she now the chief source of income, but she has insisted in actually managing the company. The Victorian mindset of the man being the breadwinner and protector has caused some strife between husband and wife.
The Victorian tradition of patriarchy and male authority is the reason Charlotte has to operate as a factotum of Sherlock Holmes. It is only as a personal assistant to the fictitious Sherlock that Charlotte and Mrs. Watson are able to succeed in their investigations. Never doubt, however, that these two women are as capable as any man.
There is such fun in Charlotte's odd (and autistic?) personality, her love of cake, and her rather fantastic taste in clothing (her Christmas dress almost puts Lord Ingram's eye out). The truly feminine combined with Charlotte's ability to defy tradition and succeed in a paternalistic society by subterfuge lends even more whimsy to the books.
Each book builds on the other, so start with the first one, A Study in Scarlet Women, to get the full pleasure of how Charlotte becomes Lady Sherlock.
Read in June; blog review scheduled for Sept. 14.
Historical Mystery. Oct. 6. Print length: 362 pages.
I love these stamps, but imagine Charlotte and Mrs. Watson in feminine attire, although Charlotte does, on occasion, assume a male disguise. :)
Thursday, September 10, 2020
Fran's elderly parents demand her presence every weekend and in addition to the long drive, she is expected to cook, clean, take care of the garden, and answer each request from crotchety parents who belittle her and depend on her.
At work, after driving back after a long, debilitating weekend, she is trying to cover her job and that of someone else as well. Exhausted and barely able to keep things together, Fran is struggling.
Mark Turner, colleague and friend, gets Fran a two-year-old case that will allow her some relief from trying to do too much. Mark has long been a friend, and it is clear that they care for each other...and that the caring could develop into something deeper.
The case Fran is working concerns a woman brutally attacked and left for dead. She remains in a vegetative state which has been pronounced permanent. Will Fran be able to determine who assaulted the woman?
I liked the plot and Fran's developing relationship with Mark Turner. As their friendship deepens into something more, each is able to offer support to the other, even as they are unsure about whether the other feels the same way.
While I liked the Kate Powers books, I like these characters better. Thanks, Cathy, for comment that gave me the heads up on this series. :) Oh, and for New Tricks, which I am enjoying.
Read in August.
Police Procedural. 2006. Print length: 396 pages.
I've read a couple of books by Allison Brennan, and each one has been fast-paced and suspenseful. On the minus side, the books are full of characters from previous books in the Lucy Kincaid series. Nevertheless, the books can be read as stand-alones.
from description: Two years ago, FBI Agent Lucy Kincaid put psychopath Elise Hansen Hunt in juvenile detention for her role in an organized crime syndicate. Now eighteen, Elise has been released with a clean slate, and plans to take her revenge by making Lucy’s life hell. The plot begins with Lucy’s husband Sean Rogan, who has been arrested for a murder he most certainly did not commit.
Cold as Ice is certainly as suspenseful as the other books I've read.
Strange how worried I can be for characters--when I know that in the end, things will work out. Nevertheless, I worried about Sean, feared Elise, and cheered all efforts to make sure the characters I cared about turned out OK. :) Brennan knows how to ratchet up the tension and keep her readers on edge.
Read in August; blog review scheduled for September 10.
NetGalley/St. Martin's Press
Suspense/Thriller. Oct. 27, 2020. Print length: 480 pages.