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Friday, July 23, 2021

In Fury Born (audiobook) by David Weber, narrated by Vivienne Leheny

Science fiction is one of my favorite genres, and David Weber has long been one of my favorite authors.  His books are long (often 800+ pages) and full of characters, and yet I never have a problem with the number of characters and always hate to finish his books.  I think I've read every book in the Honor Harrington series--unless I've somehow missed a newer publication since 2018..  The Safehold series is where I began reading Weber years ago, and I've read at least 4 in that series--but somehow lost track of it.  Not for lack of interest, however.


I actually read In Fury Born in 2008, but then I saw an audio book that has the addition of Alicia Devries' backstory.  Nearly 32 hours of audiobook!  To say it took a long time to finish is an understatement, but I never lost interest, and I did a lot more walking, weeding, stitching, laundry, and other chores done during those days than would otherwise have happened.

The narrator Vivienne Leheny was exceptional.  

from description:  Imperial Intelligence couldn't find them, the Imperial Fleet couldn't catch them, and local defenses couldn't stop them. It seemed the planet-wrecking pirates were invincible. But they made a big mistake when they raided ex-commando leader Alicia DeVries' quiet home/work, tortured and murdered her family, and then left her for dead. 

Alicia decided to turn "pirate" herself, and stole a cutting-edge AI ship from the empire to start her vendetta. Her fellow veterans think she's gone crazy, the Imperial Fleet has shoot-on-sight orders. And, of course, the pirates want her dead, too. But Alicia DeVries has two allies nobody knows about, allies as implacable as she is: a self-aware computer and a creature from the mists of Old Earth's most ancient legends. And this trio of furies won't rest until vengeance is served. 

In Fury Born is a greatly expanded new version of David Weber's popular novel Path of the Fury, which has gone through six large printings in its original mass market edition. David Weber has added considerable new material, revealing the earlier life of Alicia DeVries before she embarked on her mission of vengeance, and illuminating the universe of the original story. The result is a novel with almost twice the wordage of the original, and a must-buy for all David Weber fans.

I didn't even realize it was the same book I read years ago because this version begins with Alicia Devries' background, acceptance into the cadre, and first adventures--a prequel, of sorts.  Even when it came to the familiar parts, I'd forgotten so much even that it was as good as new.

Not for everyone, but military science fiction and space opera fans should give David Weber a try.  I'll be getting back on board with books I've missed. :)

Military Science Fiction.  Narrator Vivienne Leheny.  

 




Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The Witch Hunter by Max Seeck

 

When I received The Ice Coven from NetGalley, it didn't take long to realize that I had not read the previous novel and that it might be a good idea to go back and pick it up.  I stopped and ordered The Witch Hunter and read it first--although I already had some information the reader was not supposed to know from reading even a little of the second book.                                                                                                                                       Jessica Niemi is called to the scene of a murder, and it is a strange scene indeed.  Disturbing, not because of blood or gore, but because of the way the woman is dressed and the expression on her face.  Maria Koponen, wife of a best selling author, has been murdered in a way that imitates the death of a character in her husband's first book in his trilogy about the Inquisition and torture of witches.  More deaths are to come and while some do not precisely imitate the murders in the book, they are too similar to dismiss, and investigator Jessica Niemi realizes that there is not a single, lone killer, but a cohesive cadre of believers.  But believers in what?  Witchcraft?

The novel is dark, creepy, and suspenseful, but not entirely satisfying.  The concept of murders imitating those of a novel isn't new, but there are twists in this one to take the idea further. 

The flashbacks to Jessica's sojourn in Venice when she was nineteen were ugly, unnecessary, and interrupted the pace of the main plot.  The interruptions add nothing of importance to the plot except for the introduction of a character that could have been better served in another way.

The Witch Hunter is suspenseful and sinister, and to give the author credit, he does not engage in gory details, especially since those details are not needed when the creep factor is so high.  The conclusion was rushed and unsatisfying, obviously setting up for the second book.

The author does a good job of building atmosphere and suspense, some of the characters are sympathetic, and he skillfully keeps the reader from knowing one important detail.

On the other hand, the gratuitous backstory in fitful intrusions, an unbelievable premise (once you realize what it is near the end), and the hurried and open-ended conclusion make me wonder if I want to read the Ice Coven...even though I already have it.   

NetGalley/Berkley
Mystery/Thriller.  2020.  Print length:  400 pages







 

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Midnight at Malabar House by Vaseem Khan

Cathy recommended Vaseem Khan as another author of Indian mysteries, and since I enjoyed Suhata Massey's The Widows of Malabar Hill and The Satapur Moonstone so much, I wanted to read Vaseem Khan's new series as well.   

Midnight at Malabar House is set in Bombay, but where The Widows of Malabar Hill is set in the 1920's as Ghandi's influence is increasing, Midnight at Malabar House begins on New Year's Eve 1949--after the 1947 partition of British India into two independent dominions, India and Pakistan.  From both historical accounts and a novel read years ago (I don't even remember the name), I knew this was a bloody and tragic period of sectarian violence and massacres.

Vaseem Khan creates Persis Wadia, India's first female detective: "mistrusted, sidelined and now consigned to the midnight shift."

 Persis, however, is determined to do her job regardless of prejudice and setbacks, and when she gets the call that Sir James Herriot, an important British diplomat, has been murdered, she finds herself in a sensational and delicate case amplified by the fact that she is female and the case is virulently political.

Midnight at Malabar House is an excellent mystery, but as I read, it was so many of the passages and events that reminded me of our contemporary problems, not only here in America, but in many countries.  We have pasts (and contemporary problems) that we would prefer not to acknowledge.

Quotes

"Inflame a man's passion and you can make him do anything."

"Evil could only flourish if the world colluded with it."

"How was a nation to establish itself if it could not look itself in the mirror."

"Thought Police, in particular, bothered her, the idea that individualism and independent thinking might actually be considered a crime."

"And that today many want that restriction."

"Men, women, and children murdered.  All in the name of patriotism."

"We all know what happened," she said.  "The trouble is that a new fiction is being written.  Day by day we are rewriting the past."

"...who set aside decades, sometimes centuries of friendship, who took up sword and flame to terrorise their neighbours and compatriots, to murder men, women, and children in a frenzy of bloodlust that even now is difficult comprehend."

"That is the true legacy of Partition.  The way it has coloured the perceptions of two peoples who were essentially one, the way it continues to serve as a means by which political interest on both sides of the border can employ hatred and prejudice as a means of deflecting criticism of their regimes."

Recommended for both the mystery and the history.  And now I want to read The Dying Day by Vaseem Khan.

Purchased.

Historical Mystery.  2020.  Print length:  320 pages.  

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I keep weeding, fighting mosquitoes, and retreating upstairs to work on my little monsters.  As Les at Coastal Horizons mentioned in a comment, listening to an audio book makes weeding less onerous, but darn, the heat!  

The blue jays that had been visiting for the peanuts I put out for them have been absent lately.  I suspect the aggressive mockingbird who patrols the yard and dive bombs Edgrr may be responsible.  Mockingbirds can intimidate other birds, but I would have thought blue jays would be worthy enough opponents.  At any rate, I miss the blue jays; they have their own feeder with nothing but peanuts and no other birds seem to want them.   

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell, Count to Three by T.R. Ragan, and A Void of Magic by Sandy Williams

 

Tallulah and Zack leave baby Noah with Tallulah's mother Kim.  It is unusual for the nineteen-year-olds to have a night out, and Kim is happy to see them have a chance to enjoy themselves.

Unfortunately, they don't return home.  Kim is frantic, but no one seems to have a clue about what happened.  The young couple have disappeared, and Kim insists that her daughter would never willingly leave her baby.  The police find no trace that would lead them to an answer--one way or another.  

A little over a year later, Sophie Beck arrives at Maypole school where her partner has been appointed the new Headmaster.  When she sees a sign saying, "DIG HERE," she assumes it is part of a scavenger hunt.

After learning of the missing teenagers,  Sophie is curious--she is, after all, an author of cozy mysteries, and she returns to the sign and digs.  What she finds makes her even more invested in discovering what happened the night Tallulah and Zack went missing.  She takes her find to Kim, who recognizes the ring as the one Zack intended to use when he proposed to Tallulah.  

Multiple POVs and two time lines, allow Lisa Jewel to unravel the plot at a pace guaranteed to give just enough information at just the right time.  And it doesn't always lead where you might expect.  

Read in July.

NetGalley/Atria Books
Suspense.  Sept. 7, 2021.  Print length:  416 pages.





Dani Callahan became a private investigator after own five-year-old daughter disappeared.  She continues to search for her daughter, but she also works to help others find their loved ones.

I like Dani, Quinn, and Ethan, and Count to Three appears to be the first in a new series by Ragan.  I haven't read her other series.   I plan on reading the next one, but hope there are no characters like Carlin Reed--a serious nutcase if there ever was one.  It was not the plot, but the main characters and the growing relationships between them that kept me involved.

As for the plot, the kidnapped young woman trope is so over done, but twelve-year-old Ethan's determination to do something about what he saw the day of the kidnapping really appealed to me.  

Read in June.   

NetGalley/Thomas & Mercer

P.I./Mystery.  Dec. 14, 2021.   

Ashley mentioned A Void of Magic: Kennedy Rain Book One in her Can't Wait Wednesday post, and I found it available on NetGalley.  

Kennedy Rain's family has been part of  the Rain Hotel since its inception, going back generations.  What differentiates the Rain from other hotels is the power of the land on which it is built and its clientele.  The property is a null zone; the clientele and employees are paranormals.  As guests of the hotel, magical powers are rendered null and void; vampires are able to watch the sunrise and werewolves are able to avoid the transformation induced by a full moon.

The Rain family, however, are human and must manage the paranormals by using the power of the original treaty, skill, and diplomacy.

Kennedy Rain, however, has problems with the hotel and its paranormal guests and has created a life for herself as a college student, avoiding the hotel and her parents as much as possible.  Until her parents go on vacation and Kennedy is forced to handle some hotel crises during their absence.

Initially, some of the problems seem a little run-of-the-mill, but Kennedy is forced to accept there is more going on.  A run of extremely bad luck or a paranormal conspiracy?  

It was fun until I got to the end and realized it was a cliff hanger!  Well, that was a blow and means a long wait for the next book.   The first book in a series is always a bit of a problem if you like it and want the next book quickly--cliffhangers are even more frustrating!  Maybe I'll try one of Williams' other (completed) series in the meantime.  

Read in July.

NetGalley/Brimfire Press

New Adult/Paranormal.  July 27, 2021.   

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Literary topics from Jeopardy

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan


 des
cription:  This is a tale of courage and compassion, of good sons and vulnerable young mothers. Absolutely beautiful.' -Douglas Stuart, author of SHUGGIE BAIN (Winner of the Booker Prize 2020) It is 1985, in an Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal and timber merchant, faces into his busiest season. As he does the rounds, he feels the past rising up to meet him - and encounters the complicit silences of a people controlled by the Church 

 If you are familiar with the Magdalene Laundry asylums and the subsequent scandals, you will see a connection as well to the abuse of Canada's indigenous children in the resurfacing of the sordid past of the Kamloops Indian Residential School and the many other government-funded and often Church run institutions and victims.

"The Magdalene Laundries were part of an interlocking system of orphanages, industrial schools, “mother and baby homes” for unwed mothers and church-run institutions in which Ireland once confined tens of thousands of its own.

At least 10,000 women and girls are believed to have passed through the laundries between independence from Britain in 1922 and the closing of the last one in 1996." (source)

Small Things Like These, set in Ireland in 1985, deals with the actions of one man when he is confronted with truth of the abuses at the local Magdalene Laundry.  A quiet story of courage and conscience.  In only 128 pages, Claire Keegan illustrates the way various people react to abuses in the Church.  So committed to their religion or from fear of repercussions, most ignored or failed to believe or failed to acknowledge what went on.   Bill Furlong faces what he did not want to be true--and acts.  

It was not until 1996 that these institutions were finally closed.  

NetGalley/Grove Atlantic

Literary Fiction.  2020 & Nov. 30, 2021.  Print length: 128 pages.

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until 1996, pregnant or promiscuous women could be incarcerated for life 

Magdalene Laundries

Irish Mother and Baby Homes 

Three fictional books that use history and fiction as vehicles to remind of us of the roles of both government and Church in the treatment of children:

 Lost by Claire McGowan includes elements of the Magdalene Laundries. 

 Asylum by Jeannette deBeauvoir, a mystery with facts about Canadian Residential Schools that shocked me as I did some research and the U.S., the CIA, and Project MKultra played a horrific role.   Dupleiss Orphans

Stolen Lives by Matthew Pritchard, another fictional account based on terribly real circumstances that took place during the Spanish Civil War during Franco's dictatorship. 

Thursday, July 08, 2021

July 4th, and A Familiar Sight by Brianna Labuskes

 We had a get-away over the long July 4th weekend and were able to visit with both daughters and all three grands.  It was wonderful to see the Colorado Crew for the first time in so long.  My husband and I were pretty superfluous when the girls got together and rarely shut up, talking 90 mph the entire time.  The cousins, too, were engaged discussing everything over the last year.  Fee and I sat back and listened with grins on our faces.  

I've been catching up on blogs and household chores since we got home late Tuesday afternoon.  How far behind one can get in 4-5 days!  The laundry and everything else waited until the next morning.  

Once a few years ago, my cousin's wife and I were chatting about chores we disliked, and she mentioned she had changed her attitude about them by thinking about what she did like, not what she didn't.  Now, when I fold sheets, the idea that they will be fresh and ready for the next change makes me smile, even struggling to get a fitted sheet on the bed is more a preparation for the comfort of sleeping on it later than the annoying chore it has been in the past.

None of this means I enjoy the tedium of repetitive cleaning.  Yes, I love clean sheets and mopped floors and clean bathrooms, but at least the thought of the result takes away some of the feeling of resentment at having to do the same things over and over, day in and day out.  

My other go-to on "chore-ing" is an audio book.  It doesn't have to be particularly good, but if I can listen while working, I'm not in as much of a hurry to just get through it because the tasks aren't cutting into my "reading" time.  

I have been slow to come around to audible books, but my appreciation of them has grown tremendously in the last several months.  Not having to choose between reading and sewing is another benefit.  I can sit and stitch and listen quite happily.  That doesn't mean I prefer audio books, just that I have learned to enjoy them at times.

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I'm a little on the fence on this one because 1) the writing is good and I found the plot compelling, but 2) there was a disconnect about the traits of sociopaths and psychopaths and a few things that were not resolved for me.

from description:  Psychologist and criminologist Dr. Gretchen White is a specialist in antisocial personality disorders and violent crimes. She’s helped solve enough prominent cases for detective Patrick Shaughnessy that her own history is often overlooked: Gretchen is an admitted sociopath once suspected of killing her aunt. Shaughnessy still thinks Gretchen got away with murder. It’s not going to happen again.


When a high-profile new case lands on Shaughnessy’s desk, it seems open and shut. Remorseless teenager Viola Kent is accused of killing her mother. Amid stories of childhood horrors and Viola’s cruel manipulations, the bad seed has already been found guilty by a rapt public. But Gretchen might be seeing something in Viola no one else does: herself.

If Viola is a scapegoat, then who really did it? And what are they hiding? To find the truth, Gretchen must enter a void that is not only dark and cold-blooded, but also frighteningly familiar.

Gretchen is a fascinating character even though she describes herself as a sociopath.  A lot of her background is hinted at--Gretchen was suspected of killing her Aunt Rowan when she was eight-years-old.  The next book will probably go into that background, but at present, her responsibility for her aunt's murder is ambivalent.  

Thirteen-year-old Viola Kent is certainly a psychopath, and Gretchen never doubts the diagnosis, but Gretchen doesn't believe the girl murdered her mother Claire.   Viola, however, is quite happy to take credit.  She feels no guilt or shame for any of her previous violence and is proud of the accusation and happy with the notoriety.  

Then Lena Brooks, Viola's lawyer, commits suicide.  Lena, one of Gretchen's few friends, has sent some subtle clues that Gretchen didn't pick up on and then leaves a phone message saying that she "messed up" and wants Gretchen to fix it.  Now Gretchen is looking both back at a message she didn't understand and committed to finding out what Lena wants her to do.

I was engrossed and read with compulsion even as the differences between sociopathy and psychopathy didn't always match with the DSM and the reactions to some of the incidents didn't make sense to me.  Yes, there is a superficial hint about why Viola was kept at home and not hospitalized--it would damage the couple's reputation.  Both parents were afraid of Viola, yet Viola attends school where she might be a danger to classmates and her younger brothers are locked in their room for safety.  If I believed one of my children was a danger to my other children and/or myself, I think I would seek a better solution than a locked door.

Told from two POV, Gretchen's and Reed Kent's (husband of Claire and Viola's father).  Gretchen's portion is told in the present; Reed's is told in non-chronological order.

The plot is complicated, the characters are complicated, and the relationships are tangled, yet the way the plot comes together makes sense.  Mostly.  Some events are never explained or cleared up satisfactorily.  I'd love to discuss the book with someone who read it and still had some of the same questions.

I found the book a compulsive read, and I look forward to more of Gretchen White, but the book isn't without flaws that left me with some questions, and I can't explain the more important ones without giving away too much of the plot.

differences between sociopathy and psychopathy

not all psychopaths are violent

21% of CEOs are psychopaths

Kindle First Choice/Thomas & Mercer

Psychological Suspense.  Aug. 1, 2021.  Print length:  367 pages.


Thursday, July 01, 2021

The Killing Kind by Jane Casey, Bloodless by Preston & Child, and Other Stuff

It is like the climate is fighting back.  I'm stunned at temperatures in areas that  have never experienced the like and who for the most part don't even have AC.  The Northwest and Canada are not accustomed to the kind of temperatures that Arizona is used to having, and it is proving deadly. 

Jane Casey's The Killing Kind is a standalone, not part of the Maeve Kerrigan series.  

Four years earlier, barrister Ingrid Lewis defended John Webster on a stalking charge and was successful.  It doesn't take long before Ingrid realizes that Webster was guilty and has turned his manipulative powers against her.  A sociopath with an obsession is a dangerous thing, and eventually, Ingrid finds her relationship with her fiancĂ© in tatters, her home burned down, and the realization that Webster may always be a threat.

Then, having had no problems from Webster recently,  another set of circumstances puts Ingrid in danger, and Ingrid immediately assumes it is Webster again.  This time, however, Webster appears to want to help.

Aside form the typical suspicion of various characters that is typical in this kind of psychological thriller, there is an unexpected revelation about 60% in that provides an unexpected turn of events--that makes you wonder about the narrator.  

A page-turner that  (as is usual with Jane Casey) kept me involved.  Casey is a skilled writer who can keep the reader engaged and a little off balance, not certain of the guilty party, but pulled one way or another as motives or information becomes available.  

 I enjoyed this one; it was nice to have Casey try something a little different, and The Killing Kind is certainly twisty and suspenseful.

I do, however, want more of Maeve and Josh and hope Casey isn't tired of them!

NetGalley/Harper Collins                                                                                                                              Suspense.  Sept. 21, 2021.  Print length:  480 pages.

 

I never miss an Agent Pendergast.  The books are a mix of campy, supernatural, and horror--and the strange appearance and personality of Aloysius Pendergast.  

The novels aren't for everyone, but Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have a huge fan base.  The first in this long series is Relic, which was made into a movie in 1997.  

What I liked about this one is that the novel has a connection to the famous and unsolved D.B. Cooper case.  

These books are not literature; they are an amalgam of horror, supernatural, and suspense.   I liked the earlier books better for the most part, largely for characters who are no longer part of the series, but I can't resist giving each new one a try. 

 The information about D.B. Cooper (even if the novel is fiction) made me curious about elements in the unsolved 1971 real life case.  I'm not sure I like the importance of Constance in the later books.  

Read in April.

NetGalley/Grand Central Publishing

Suspense.  Aug. 17, 2021.  Print length:  400 pages.

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The weeds are winning in the garden.  Between the mosquitoes and the heat, the desire to get out and pull weeds is a challenge that doesn't appeal to me as much as it has in the past.  I have discovered that if I use Tea Tree Oil on mosquito bites, the itching is lessened more quickly, so that's a plus.

The Nightmare Catchers  continue to keep my interest and amuse me.   I have so many scraps left over from the fidget quilts and other projects that simply browsing through bags of scraps have provided me with plenty of fabric with which to work.  Below, Agnes is not the one that I originally intended for Bryce Eleanor (it was a much sweeter cat version), but she loved Agnes and her lavender backpack.