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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.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Winter's Redemption and Winter's Rise by Mary Stone; The Last Watch by J.S. Dewes

After reading the first two books in the Winter Black series back-to-back, I was ready to get back to Winter  and her FBI friends and colleagues.  

Winter's Redemption (Book 3).    Mary Stone does an excellent job of drawing the reader into the plot, characters, and backstories, never letting up on the pacing.  

The Preacher is back and killing again after over a decade, but Winter is excluded from the investigation.  She understands the reason for her exclusion, so she gives in and joins Aiden and the Behavioral Analysis Unit in order to take part in a distanced way.

Just what I needed to keep my head away from all of the real-life issues that we all deal with now.  Yeah, serial killers, FBI, BAU, and Winter's unusual gift.  That's the ticket.

Winter's Rise (Book 4)  In the previous books, Winter has been searching for clues to what happened to her younger brother who was kidnapped during the murder of their parents.  The search continues, but Aiden,  an excellent profiler, suspects that having been raised by a serial killer, Justin is not going to be what Winter hopes for.

The main plot, however, deals with a sinister surgeon who has an unhealthy (deadly) interest in anyone who has had a traumatic brain injury and after recovering, exhibits some of the strange gifts that both Winter and her friend share.  

I'll give the Winter Black series another rest before continuing, but I will be continuing.

I just finished this one last night.  Science fiction and full of suspense and danger.  Loved it!

description: "The Divide.

It’s the edge of the universe.

Now it’s collapsing—and taking everyone and everything with it.

The only ones who can stop it are the Sentinels—the recruits, exiles, and court-martialed dregs of the military.

At the Divide, Adequin Rake, commanding the Argus, has no resources, no comms—nothing, except for the soldiers that no one wanted.

They're humanity's only chance."

  A great debut from J.S. Dewes!  Review will be scheduled closer to publication date.

This would be the perfect year end Daylight Saving Time 

Not a bad idea...

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.

Audio book

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

 Too clever, too long.  

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.  

Read in Sept.  Blog review scheduled for 

NetGalley/Harper Collins
Mystery/Thriller.  Nov. 10, 2020.  Print length:  608 pages.  

Song of the Dead is the first in a series featuring Ben Westphall.  It is one of the strangest mystery/crime books I've ever read.  I certainly didn't know what to believe.  

from description:  

Police detective Ben Westphall is burnt out and leading a quiet life in the North of Scotland. Things change when he is assigned to investigate the cold case of a UK national who disappeared in Eastern Europe under mysterious circumstances and who, despite being declared dead, has re-appeared, claiming to have been held for over a decade, various body parts having been harvested during that time. Westphall travels to Estonia, chasing leads and shadows that may lead to an international drugs and organ trafficking conspiracy.

 Westphall is an oddity of ex-secret service, current police detective, and a "sensitive" to the paranormal.  Or is he a burned out middle-aged man with mental problems?  Interesting premise:  a man who was declared dead and identified by both his girlfriend and his parents, turns up alive.  Missing a few body parts.  

So...I didn't exactly love it, but I might try another one in the series.  I guess I'm curious about Westphall.  

Crime/Thriller.  2016.  Print length:  272 pages.  

Monday, October 19, 2020

The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M. Eden

Last year I read The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah M. Eden and enjoyed it thoroughly.   It was such fun!  After a little doubt at the beginning, I fell into the whole idea.  The authors of Penny Dreadfuls formed the secret Dread Penny Society whose primary goal, aside from writing in the genre, was rescuing street children.  

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.

Heh, heh.  I couldn't resist adding this meme to the post.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Winter's Mourn and Winter's Curse by Mary Stone

 Special Agent Winter Black had an intense personal reason for joining the FBI--when she was thirteen, her parents were murdered, her younger brother abducted, and Winter was left for dead.  

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

A Stranger in Town by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong's sixth book in the Rockton series foreshadows changes that may take place.  Do the council want to close Rockton for good?  Is that the reason for fewer people being accepted into the community?

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.   

Armstrong's paranormal Darkest Power Trilogy  and The Rising Dark Trilogy would be good for the RIP challenge.  I actually liked them better than the Cainsville books.

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.  

Recently finished.

From description:  
"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.

NetGalley/47 North 

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.  

Kindle Unlimited

Police Procedural.  2016/2020.  Print length:  225 pages.

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Death and the Maiden by Ariana Franklin/ Samantha Norman

The final novel in the Mistress of the Art of Death series featuring Adelia Aguilar is soon to be released.  Death and the Maiden by Samantha Norman completes the series begun by her mother Diana Norman (writing as Ariana Franklin).

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.