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Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Deep Into The Dark by P.J. Tracy
2. It is supposed to be a series featuring LAPD Detective Margaret Nolan and murder suspect Sam Easton, but as it turns out, Nolan plays a pretty minor role. Sam and Melody Traeger take over the novel.
3. I knew the villain on his first appearance. That's fine if the author intends for you to, but I think it was supposed to come as a surprise.
Deep into the Dark kept my interest because of Sam and Melody, but the plot was not believable. Either plot, I guess, because there was a secondary plot thread.
The eccentric and endearing characters that helped make Monkeewrench such a fun series are absent in Deep into the Dark, which is more of a straight forward crime novel.
If I had not been hoping for some of the fresh and funny aspects of Monkeewrench, I would have liked it better, but the author (whose mother and partner for the Monkeewrench series has died) is entitled to take a new path with a different vibe.
Read in August. Blog review scheduled for Dec. 30, 2020
NetGalley/St. Martin's Press.
Crime. Jan. 12, 2021. Print length: 352 pages.
Monday, December 28, 2020
Books by W.R. Gingell, Danielle Girard, Lisa Gardner, and Linda Rui Feng
Another attempt to catch up on reviews.
Ashley mentioned the Between books by W.R. Gingell a while back. I knew I'd really liked Wolfskin by Gingell (Intisar Khanani recommended Gingell's books) and had also enjoyed Masque. So I thought I'd give the Between series a chance.
How embarrassing. I'd already read the first two and didn't realize it until I started reading Between Jobs, book 1, but the first page brought much of it back...well, certain scenes and the characters back, there was much I didn't remember. I raced through it again and went for Between Shifts, book 2, which I'd also read.
I moved on to books 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7! Book 3 (Between Floors) was even better, and I couldn't stop! They were all free from Kindle Unlimited, and they carried me through December. Briefly: a teenage human's house is taken over by 2 Fae and a Vampire (investigators). Murder mysteries in an Urban Fantasy. If you enjoy Urban Fantasy, this may be for you, too!
Far Gone is the second book in the series, and I haven't read the first book. Maybe that would have helped, but it still worked fine as a stand alone.
When a North Dakota couple is shot down in their home in cold blood, the sleepy town of Hagen wakes with a jolt. After all, it’s usually such a peaceful place. But Detective Kylie Milliard knows better.
Despite not handling a homicide investigation in years, Kylie is on the case. A drop of blood found at the scene at first blush promises to be her best evidence. But it ultimately only proves that someone else witnessed the murder—and the results are shocking: the DNA reveals a familial match to a crime involving local nurse Lily Baker from over a decade ago. This unveiling stirs new nightmares for Lily as she’s forced to reckon with the most traumatic time in her life.
I'd give this one a 3/5. Maybe if I'd read the first book, I'd have been more invested in the characters.
NetGalley/Thomas & Mercer
Detective. July 6, 2021.
I love Gardner's D.D. Warren series, but I'm not sure about this one.
from description: Frankie Elkin is an average middle-aged woman, a recovering alcoholic with more regrets than belongings. But she spends her life doing what no one else will--searching for missing people the world has stopped looking for. When the police have given up, when the public no longer remembers, when the media has never paid attention, Frankie starts looking.
From description: A lyrical novel set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution that follows a father’s quest to reunite his family before his precocious daughter’s momentous birthday, which Garth Greenwell calls “one of the most beautiful debuts I’ve read in years.”
I've read Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress and Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China and maybe a couple of others about the Cultural Revolution, but those two made the most impression.
Swimming Back to Trout River is an excellent and worthwhile addition for anyone interested in the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) or interested in just reading a beautifully written book. This is another NetGalley book and won't be published until May, so when I review it, I'll schedule the review for later.
Sunday, December 27, 2020
Death and the Singing Birds by Amy Myers and Bone Canyon by Lee Goldberg
A cozy mystery set in the 1920's with Nell Drury as the chef in a historic old mansion. I found Nell a little annoying, especially at first. The dialog is a little stiff, the humor, forced.
New neighbors to Wychbourne Court are not quite fitting in. Sir Gilbert and his wife Lady Saddler host an artistic event. A murder, a friend of Nell's who suffers from shell shock is arrested. The Wychbourne Court crowd, both upstairs and downstairs, are sure that Mr. Bailey is innocent.
Cozy mysteries are hit or miss with me. This one was a miss.
Read in Sept.; blog review scheduled for Dec. 27.
Cozy Mystery. Jan. 5, 2021. Print length: 224 pages.
I read Goldberg's first Eve Ronin book (Lost Hills) in January and enjoyed it.
In this second entry, a brush fire reveals scorched bones and further investigation reveals more bones. As Eve and her partner Duncan investigate, the situation may prove dangerous as secrets are uncovered. The relationship between Eve and Duncan, who is due to retire shortly, helps make this series more engaging. Eve needs Duncan's experience; she is aware of her own inexperience, but she does tend to annoy others and is insistent when she feels she is right.
There is already a good deal of resentment over Eve's promotion, add to that her suspicion about corrupt members of the department, and Eve finds herself in a dangerous position.
I look forward to the next book.
Read in Sept.; blog review scheduled for Dec. 27.
NetGalley/Thomas & Mercer
Police Procedural. Jan. 5, 2o21. Print length: 287 pages.
Monday, December 21, 2020
Their Frozen Graves by Ruhi Choudhary, Cold Wind by Paige Shelton, Noose by Eric Red, They Disappeared by Joy Ellis
I'm trying to catch up with some reviews before 2021!
Their Frozen Graves is the second book in this series featuring Detective Mackenzie Price. Although I've not read the first book, the book works as a stand alone.
A twisty plot and an engrossing read. I liked Mackenzie and may look for the first book.
"When two bodies are found dumped in a vast lake in Lakemore, Washington, Detective Mackenzie Price is first on the scene. She identifies one of the victims as Katy Becker, a local known for her work helping the community. The other victim looks strikingly similar.
Still grappling with a shocking revelation from her past, Mack is only too happy to throw herself into the case. But when she goes to break the news to Katy’s husband, the investigation takes an unexpected turn: Katy is very much alive, and has never met the women who resemble her so closely."
Mystery/Police Procedural. Jan. 7, 2021
Cold Wind is another "second book" that provided enough background that it wasn't necessary to have read the first book.
from description: "Beth Rivers is still in Alaska. The unidentified man who kidnapped her in her home of St. Louis hasn’t been found yet, so she’s not ready to go back."
Benedict, Alaska seemed a safe place for Beth to stay hidden because her kidnapper is still at large. Secure in the fact that only a few people know about Beth and her situation, she is able to continue writing her thrillers under a pseudonym.
When two eight-year-old girls knock on the door to her office, Beth realizes that they either cannot or will not explain who they are or how they got there. They are silent.
Oh, and the body of a woman is found in a trapper's shed. Beth gets busy trying to solve both mysteries. She wants to find the girls' parents and to discover who the dead woman is why she was killed.
I liked most of the book, but found the plot complications too far-fetched. Not that you know this until the conclusion, but still.
The characters and setting appealed to me, but the resolution was disappointing because I couldn't get past all the coincidences in the explanation.
Netgalley/St. Martin's Press
Mystery. Dec. 8, 2020.
The cover really speaks to you, doesn't it? <grin> In many ways the book lives up to the cover. More Louis L'Amour than Larry McMurtry, it is a pulp fiction Western with lots of violent deaths.
Joe Noose is a bounty hunter who brings culprits in alive. Not all bounty hunters want to bother with the "alive" part, and a group of twelve bounty hunters follow Noose. When Noose finds and captures the bank robber, they charge in. Killing the bank robber and taking his body in for the bounty.
Noose follows them into town. The bad guys end up killing a U.S. Marshall then frame Noose for the murder. Now, Noose has a bounty on his head and twelve men in pursuit.
Uh oh. For Noose to save his own life and to get justice, a lot of bad bounty hunters are going to have to die.
They Disappeared is the latest in the Jackman and Evans series by Joy Ellis.
Ellis is a favorite of mine for her books set in the fens on the east coast of England.
In this latest installment, Orac, the IT boss, has gone missing and everyone is concerned.
The second thread involves three missing urban explorers. Who is targeting these young men and why?
Joy Ellis' plots keep my attention, and her characters have dimension. I always speed right through her books.
Police Procedural. Nov. 30, 2020.
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
Defending the Galaxy by Maria V. Snyder and The Blacksmith Queen by G.A. Aiken
Defending the Galaxy, the final book in the Sentinels of the Galaxy trilogy by Maria V. Snyder, offers another fun and exciting adventure. Snyder is able to take a pretty odd and fantastical premise involving the terra cotta warriors and turn it into a multi-planet space conspiracy full of suspense.
Funny, bawdy, farcical, with a lot of bloody incidents, The Blacksmith Queen is...well, I'm not entirely sure how to classify it. Parody/Fantasy? Fun!
Friday, December 11, 2020
Stormy Weather by Paulette Jiles
Thursday, December 10, 2020
The Tech by Mark Ravine and Gone Too Far by Debra Webb
Alexandra has just taken charge of her new team, a motley crew of screw-ups at the Arizona Field Office, the latest in a series of forgettable assignments.
Friday, December 04, 2020
Whiskey When We're Dry by John Larison
I read this about two weeks ago after Les mentioned it. An epic tale of the Old West that concentrates not on the romantic aspects of the Western genre, but on the difficulties of making a life in a dangerous land.
Tuesday, December 01, 2020
Chasing the Shadows by Maria V. Snyder and When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain and Other Stuff
Jumping from one holiday to the next. Our Thanksgiving was surprisingly good, but now the countdown to Christmas which, I think, will be harder for us. We are taking it one day at a time. We've started decorating in hopes that color and memories will keep us cheerful throughout the season.
We finally got some cold weather, so my husband built a fire and put on Christmas music. Fee also bought me some Christmas pajama bottoms. Size XS. I laughed and laughed! In fact, every time I think about it, I cackle. Fee is a wonderful and thoughtful husband, but not very observant :) I've been debating putting them in with the Goodwill stuff...or sewing up the bottoms of the legs and hanging them for a Christmas stocking!
I'm really behind on reviews. Because I'm so busy. ??? Well, busy reading, anyway.Chasing the Shadows was another fun romp with Lyra, who has survived the attack on her life. To keep Jarren from realizing that Lyra is still alive, she has been given a funeral and a new name--Ara Lawrence, and Ara has a new job in security.
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Children of the Valley by Castle Freeman and An Ace and a Par by Blake Banner
Both of these made me laugh!
Friday, November 20, 2020
Navigating the Stars by Maria V. Snyder and The Preserve by Ariel S. Winte
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
News of the World by Paulette Jiles
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
The Outcast Girls by Alys Clare
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
Trick or Treat?
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
Winter's Redemption and Winter's Rise by Mary Stone; The Last Watch by J.S. Dewes
This would be the perfect year end Daylight Saving Time
Sunday, October 25, 2020
Rosemary and Rue, October Daye #1 by Seanan McGuire
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
Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz and Song of the Dead by Douglas Lindsay
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.