Didn't want to abandon The Shadow Box, but didn't love it. It would have been stronger if Claire had been less eager to believe in her husband in the first place; she never rang true to me. On the other hand, another reviewer referred to the book as a "popcorn read," and I agree that the reader wants to discover how it ends. :) I think I'll keep that phrase in mind for quite a few books!
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Saturday, January 16, 2021
Bluff by Jane Stanton Hitchcock, The Stolen Child by Alex Coombs, No Way Out by Fern Michaels, and a Reminder about Kelley Armstrong's A Stranger in Town
Winner of the 2019 Dashiell Hammett Prize for Literary Excellence in Crime Writing
Publishers Weekly Top 10 Mysteries for Spring 2019
"Driven by the heart-pounding suspense of a high-stakes poker game, Bluff is a vivid, compelling novel about deceit, seduction, and delicious revenge that will keep you spellbound and cheering as you turn the last page." -Susan Cheever, New York Times bestselling author
Bluff is a mix of comedy of manners and revenge tale with an older society woman who plays badass poker! It was fun and unpredictable as the reader is led along through a murder, escape, and many surprises. Thanks to Cathy for this recommendation, I really enjoyed it!
Poisoned Pen Press Mystery/Revenge. 2020. Print length: 320 pages.
The Stolen Child. DCI Hanlon #1
Although I liked the characters and some elements of this one, the subject matter was depressing. There weren't any graphic descriptions and yet....
A good crime thriller, but you may want to consider that it is a dark look at evil and pedophiles.
I will give the author another try and hope the subject matter doesn't distress me.
Crime/Police Procedural. 2021. Print length: 302 pages.I've never read Fern Michaels before, but I'd classify No Way Out as a cozy. It started out very interesting with a young woman who never left her house. I wanted to know why and what she was afraid of.
A second thread involves a case of domestic abuse in the neighborhood.
What could have been a really suspenseful read turned into a "everything works out in the end" sort of book. That's fine, but building so much suspense and curiosity and then having half the characters reform completely--makes the original suspense feel false.
I didn't hate it, but it isn't really a genre I enjoy; however, it should appeal to those who are already fans of Fern Michaels.
Cozy. March 30, 2021. Print length: 322 pages.
Although, I actually reviewed this months ago, this is just a reminder that A Stranger in Town by Kelley Armstrong will be published Feb. 2. Reviewed in October.
What else can I say--I like this series. :)
Monday, January 11, 2021
I'm so behind on reviews and have been absent from both my blogs. It wasn't an intentional or planned break, but once I got out of the habit of more regular posting, it became harder and harder to post. Here are two recent books that have cold cases at the heart.
I liked Serpentine better than the more recent installments of the Alex Delaware series. The first books were favorites, but for the last several years, the books haven't appealed to me as much.
My favorite character is not Alex, but Milo Sturgis, and Serpentine felt more like some of the earlier books.
from description: Psychologist Alex Delaware and detective Milo Sturgis search for answers to a brutal, decades-old crime in this electrifying psychological thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling master of suspense.
A young woman's request for an inquiry into her mother's death is dictated from Milo's superiors, and he isn't too happy about it. The case is 25 years old and records are sparse. Milo involves Alex and the two visit the young woman. Something catches their attention, and even if Milo doesn't believe anything will come of it, he gradually becomes more intrigued. And it turns out that not only was it murder, but someone is still determined to avoid exposure.
I have a weakness for Milo.
NetGalley/Random House Police Procedural/Cold Case. Feb. 4, 2021. Print length: 368 pages.
Aarev Rai's family lived in an exclusive cul de sac in New Zealand, but regardless of how much money the family had or how beautiful Aarev's mother was--family life was a battle ground.
She wants him to help a man called Andrew Duran, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time and now has a dedicated brother and sister team out to assassinate him.
I'm not at all as sure about the mother/son business, but I'm very happy to see Evan Smoak take up his mantle as the Nowhere Man again!
Read in August; blog review: Jan. 11.
Keep 'em coming, Mr. Hurwitz!
NetGalley/St. Martin's Press
Mystery/Thriller. Jan. 26, 2021. Print length: 432 pages.
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
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
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
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, 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
Thursday, December 10, 2020
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
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
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
Both of these made me laugh!
Friday, November 20, 2020
I was surprised to hear that Maria V. Snyder was writing science fiction. I've read Snyder's Study novels which begin with Poison Study and are exciting fantasy with compelling, memorable characters and great world building.
When I saw Ashley's review of the third book in Snyder's Sentinels of the Galaxy series, I barely skimmed it because I wanted to begin with the first book. Snyder and YA science fiction--a combination I didn't want to miss.
In Navigating the Stars, Seventeen-year-old Lyra has had a disjointed childhood as her archaeologist parents have moved from planet to planet investigating the secrets behind the Terra Cotta Warriors found on different planets throughout the galaxy.
The characters are likable, and the relationship between Lyra and her parents is believable. Lyra resents the moves that uproot her life, but the parental relationship is strong and supportive.
The world-building is, for the most part, limited to the interactions of the characters on the base itself, with some development of the archaeological dig site. The planet is a desert with sandstorms that can interrupt the work, but doesn't require further detail.
The science takes in the conundrum of space dilation--and the difficulty of adjusting to the phenomenon of a few months in space travel for a crew and passengers becomes decades for those on the planet they just left. Snyder invented the Q-net to make communications possible, and Lyra is a talented hacker, who "worms" her way through the Q-net with skill and often impactful results.
Navigating the Stars differs from Snyder's other novels, aimed as it is toward a YA audience, but it was a fun and exciting experience. Could have done without some of the YA romance, but I can't wait to get to book two!
---From description: Decimated by plague, the human population is now a minority. Robots—complex AIs almost indistinguishable from humans—are the ruling majority. Nine months ago, in a controversial move, the robot government opened a series of preserves, designated areas where humans can choose to live without robot interference. Now the preserves face their first challenge: someone has been murdered
An intriguing concept that, for me, was not fully realized. The Preserve is a dystopian murder mystery with many elements of contemporary problems transformed by shifting the power from human to AI. It is interesting that the author refers to "robots" rather than AI, and that the most likable character is Kir, the robot partner of the Preserve police chief Jesse Laughton.
Because the robots are so human in their character flaws of prejudice and addiction, it is difficult to think of them as "not human."
Although an interesting police procedural, perhaps the most provocative aspect for me is...what is left out. The book jumps into a situation with no background or history. A little historical explanation would have been nice, if not at the beginning, at least at some point.
Kir's mechanical body blends with humans, and his brain has all of the complex, moral, and empathetic qualities we would hope for (and are often missing from) genuine humans. The only real difference between humans and AI, as presented in the novel, is that their bodies don't bleed. The movements and abilities are the same and function physically as efficiently as humans. Their "brains" also function much as in humans--with good or bad opinions and intentions.
I had all kinds of questions as I read, more questions than answers. Sometimes, however, raising questions is enough to make a book worthwhile.
Dystopian/Police Procedural. Nov. 3, 2020. Print length: 256 pages.
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Books--there are never enough; I'm continually adding to my list. I always find time to read them, but taking the time to review them is another story.News of the World by Paulette Jiles. (Thanks, Sam!) I read it on my Kindle, but I ordered a physical copy for my husband.
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Saturday, November 07, 2020
The Eagle Catcher by Margaret Coel, Chaos on Catnet by Naomi Kritzer, and What My Husband Did by Kerry Wilkinson
Mysteries that take place in the West appeal to me. Favorite authors include Tony Hillerman, Craig Johnson, Cormac McCarthy, and R. Allen Chappell.
I've added Margaret Coel to that list, after reading The Eagle Catcher, set on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. (Thanks, Cathy!)
Father John O'Malley, Jesuit priest and recovering alcoholic works with Vicki Holden, an Arapaho lawyer in an attempt to find the killer of a tribal chairman and make sure his nephew is not convicted of the murder.
Injustice is a theme, both historical and present day, as hidden crimes from past and present come to light. Social and culture prejudices are thematic, as well, and blended easily into the mystery plot.
The Eagle Catcher is the first book in the series, so I have more to read! Since some of my latest books have been abandoned for lack of interest or for mediocre writing, I'm doubly grateful for a new series to enjoy.
Although I haven't read the first book (Catfishing on Catnet), I did find this YA novel intriguing.
from description: "When a mysterious entity starts hacking into social networks and chat rooms to instigate paranoia and violence in the real world, it’s up to Steph and her new friend, Nell, to find a way to stop it—with the help of their benevolent AI friend, CheshireCat."
Chaos on Catnet is a YA thriller with some genuine considerations about social media/the internet and its ability to influence hundreds of thousands of people. As I was reading it, we were all watching social media and news media as the election approached, and even now, in the aftermath of the election, we see the influence of the media for manipulating emotions.
Pretty scary the way those with an agenda can influence hundreds of thousands of people to violence. In the book and in real life, this happens.
At the same time, the internet does have many positive benefits. Friendships with people you may never meet in person, inspiration concerning hobbies and interests, and finding acceptance and support among like-minded people. Steph has this support among her friends.
An AI with human qualities is still a long way in the future, if ever; but the ability of people to use the internet and social media in a destructive fashion has been troublesome for a long time. Even more so during all the problems 2020 has presented.
Because I think the novel is of current interest, I'm reviewing it now rather than scheduling it for later.
YA/Thriller/Science, Tech. April 27, 2021. Print length: 304 pages.
I like Kerry Wilkinson a lot, but this was not my favorite. However, looking at Goodreads reviews, Almost everyone else, loved it. So...there you go.
from description: "A little girl has been left for dead. And now my husband is missing."
Things aren't looking good for Maddy's husband Richard, and in a village that knows everything that happens and closes ranks, things aren't looking good for Maddy either.
I realize the cutting back and forth to Maddy's childhood serves a purpose, but I found it distracting. Much simpler to give a brief background concerning Maddy's father having been convicted of a crime he didn't commit.
Maddy, as she tries to puzzle out the situation of her husband's absence, also has to face some of the elements of their marriage.
Mystery. Nov. 17, 2020. Print length: 360 pages.
Today is my birthday, and my daughter texted that she gave me a new president! Couldn't be happier!