This would be the perfect year end Daylight Saving Time
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
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.
After the vicious murder of his wife and daughter, Charlie Parker is pursuing the killer. He ends up in Arkansas where young black girls have been brutally murdered, wondering if the same killer was at work. Even after deciding the murders were not by the same man who killed his wife and daughter, Charlie decides to help when the Police Chief asks.
This is a more straight forward murder investigation without some of the supernatural elements in most of the novels, but the book is every bit as engrossing as Charlie reveals the depth of corruption of a powerful family.
Connolly's writing is always haunting and suspenseful, and I enjoyed this glimpse into the way Charlie Parker moves from the hunt for the man who killed his family to using his skills as a former NYPD detective to solve other murders.
Recently, I found this:
Should you read John Connolly’s Charlie Parker novels? For me, the answer is an unqualified “yes”. They are intriguing, entertaining and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. A complete list is here. My only tip would be that although the first book, Every Dead Thing, was a big hit, I found it hard to get into, with an immense amount going on and multiple plot lines. The second book, Dark Hollow, worked better for me; and the third, The Killing Kind, kept me up late to find out what happened next. So if you are a Charlie Parker novice, you may want to consider not starting with the first book in the series. Indeed, if you read Every Dead Thing later, once you’ve become familiar with the protagonist, it will give you the dubious pleasure of learning exactly what ghastly fate befell Parker’s wife and child in the opening chapters of the series. (Source)
The prologue of the first novel almost made me put the book down. I think the idea of beginning with any of the other novels in the series would be better. The evil in the Charlie Parker novels is papable, and it is the supernatural that makes them bearable, giving the reader and out, the evil isn't real. (The Dirty South is a departure in the lack of the supernatural.)
In 2014, I read The Wolf in Winter, for the R.I.P. Challenge and then went back and picked up all that I'd missed. Now, I'm always on the lookout for more.
If you are planning on Carl's R.I.P. Challenge this year, try Dark Hollow or any of the later novels in the series, but buckle your seat belt--good vs evil is a frightening experience.
Read in June. Blog review scheduled for Sept. 10.
Police Procedural/Thriller. Oct. 20, 2020. print length: 448 pages.
Tuesday, September 08, 2020
When young Daniel Whitman is killed at a high-school party, the community is ripped apart. The death of Sanctuary's star quarterback seems to be a tragic accident, but everyone knows his ex-girlfriend Harper Fenn is the daughter of a witch--and she was there when he died.
VV James weaves a spellbinding tale of a town cracking into pieces and the devastating power of a mother's love. Was Daniel's death an accident, revenge--or something even more sinister?
As accusations fly, paranoia grips the town, culminating in a witch-hunt...and the town becomes no sanctuary at all.
America is a melting pot, but tradition remains an influence on all of us regardless of our origins. Some traditions and cultural influences are positive, and some are difficult to adapt to a new country. I loved the characters and their efforts to do the best they could for themselves and for those they love--and as we all know, it isn't always easy. From generation to generation, regardless of our points of ancestral origin, ideas and beliefs have to be adjusted.
Well-behaved Indian Women excelled at showing the choices necessary for both mothers and daughters as they struggle to make the best of their lives.
Read in August.
Women/Culture. July 14, 2020. Print length: 385 pages.
Sunday, September 06, 2020
Still Life has cold case DCI Karen Pirie involved in two cases. A traffic accident ends up revealing a skeleton in a van in a garage that has been there for at least ten years. As Karen and Jason investigate, they believe the body belongs to one of two women. However, in the midst of this investigation, Karen is sent to the Firth of Forth where a body has been discovered--connected to another cold case.
Juggling two cases, Karen must also deal with the release from prison of the man who killed her lover.
As usual, McDermid writes an absorbing tale with characters who have decided personalities of their own. Jason Murray, Karen's DC, is gaining confidence and is a loyal subordinate, and a new and interesting character is Daisy, who shows promise for future books.
In the last chapter, after both cases have been wrapped up, comes the change that has affected us all: the virus "that had been a whisper on the wind" as Karen, Jason, and Daisy investigated "had taken firm root in Scotland." All three "were warned of the lockdown that was to begin in the morning. They'd be working from home, whatever that meant in practice." What a conclusion. The case wrapped up, but their lives on hold.
I'm hoping McDermid will write a book dealing with Karen's team and crime during lockdown.
Read in June; blog review scheduled for Sept. 6.
Police Procedural/Cold Case. Oct. 6, 2020. Print length: 448 pages.
Wednesday, September 02, 2020
She knows immediately that the killer is local and not the man they've been chasing, but she still feels some responsibility to aid in the investigation.
This is Nikki's first return to Stillwater in 20 years. After her parents were murdered, Nikki couldn't wait to finish high school and leave town, which is one personal complication for Nikki. Another is that the man convicted of her parents' murders has drawn the attention of the Innocence Project and a number of townspeople have joined in support and want his conviction overturned. Nikki still believes he is guilty, but the situation adds complications.
Nikki has to confront the past and the present even as she tries to discover who killed Madison and Kayleigh--and in a surprising development, whether the murder of the two girls is in any way connected to the murders of her parents.
The Girls in the Snow has a lot of potential as a new series. I look forward to Nikki Hunt's next case.
Read in August; blog review scheduled for Sept. 2, 2020.
Police Procedural. Oct. 19, 2020. Print length: 347 pages.
Friday, August 28, 2020
A Fatal Thaw opened with a chilling murderer randomly shooting and killing with abandon. Sadly close to the kind of thing we have become accustomed to hearing about and as horrifying and difficult to understand.
from description: "Soon, nine people will be dead, seemingly the victims of a random act of violence—until a routine ballistics test reveals that one of the murders was anything but random."
One madman and one murder of opportunity disguised as part of the madman's killing spree. Kate and Mutt (wolf/huskey mix) step in to investigate.
Again, the glimpses into the culture of the Alaskan wilderness and indigenous people are informative and entertaining. The potlatch (ceremonial feast) organized by Kate's grandmother was a beautiful and touching event as various tribes honored the deceased.
Shugak packs so much into these books and does it so skillfully: characterization, plot, and setting are so adeptly blended that the reader feels truly immersed in the story.
Dead in the Water has Kate undercover on a crabbing boat from which two young men have gone missing.
In addition to the mystery of what happened to the young men, the dangers and financial rewards of fishing and crabbing in Alaskan waters is made perfectly and frighteningly real.
"These conditions add up to the deadliest occupation in the United States -- 128 per 100,000 Alaskan fishermen perished on the job in 2007, 26 times the national average [source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health]. Fishing deaths also make up about a third of all occupational fatalities in Alaska each year."
and "Crab pots and crab pot launchers are common sources of injuries. Fishermen get caught up in the coil lines. Working at the edge of the boat also puts them at risk of being swept off the deck and falling overboard."(source)
Also neatly intertwined with the plot is a history of the Aleut tribe and why they were removed from their original homes on the Aleutian Islands during WWII when Japanese troops occupied the islands of Attu and Kiska. The information about the Alaskan Scouts, a fascinating part of the defense of Alaska during the war was new to me.
"It wasn’t easy to become an Alaska Scout. The qualifications were stringent, and Castner handpicked them all—trappers, hunters, fishermen, dogsledders, miners, and prospectors. He also chose Native Alaskans—Aleuts, Eskimos, and American Indians. “They have one thing in common,” he said. “They’re tough.” (source)
Learning by reading fiction is the easiest and most memorable way to absorb history. Well, it works for me because I can't resist checking things out.
This time Kate is on the North Slope investigating drug-related deaths. She has personal grievances against the Prudhoe Bay oil company, but as she learns more about how the company operates, she is impressed with the amenities for workers who must spend much of their time in the far north and its deadly cold.
Not my favorite, but still very good!
Next up is Play with Fire, and I am making an effort to delay ordering it. I can feel myself weakening, however.