Burning Ridge – a review

Burning Ridge, Timber Creek K9 #4

By Margaret Mizushima

Mattie Cobb is a police detective with a K9 partner working on a small town in Colorado. Her latest case turns out to have a very personal connection and her past will hold the answers she needs to solve the crime.

This is the 4th book in the series, but I didn’t feel lost for long. I really liked Maggie’s relationship with her dog, Robo. That was the best part of the book. I would definitely read more in this series.

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The Inventor and the Tycoon: A Review

12786118 The Inventor and the Tycoon: A Gilded Age Murder and the Birth of the Moving Pictures

by Edward Ball

Synopsis: From the National Book Award-winning author of Slaves in the Family, a riveting true life/true crime narrative of the partnership between the murderer who invented the movies and the robber baron who built the railroads.

Review:

I am a sucker for historic true crime. I love reading about crime, detection, and the law from the past. This one sounded pretty interesting. I really liked the movie aspect of the story, more about the early days of film.

Unfortunately, this book didn’t really work for me. It’s a joint biography of two men in the 19th century, inventor Eadweard Muybridge and rail tycoon Leland Stanford. I liked the story about the building of the railroad – and the many references to Utah in there – and the story of the inventor/photographer was pretty interesting too. But together, they didn’t make any sense. The only connection, as far as I could tell, was that that had a brief business connection. But I’m sure that millionaire Stanford had lots of business dealing with a lot of people.

But the author chose to drop plenty of hints about the murder and then drop it for another chapter about the plight of Chinese workers on the railroad. Honestly, I finally just got bored and let it go. I need a better book about the the building of the railroad. This one just didn’t work for me.

Currently reading!

Happy weekend! Today was lazy after some health -related stuff this week, so I’m finally getting back into reading again. Here’s what I’m reading now.

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. Ok, I’d put this aside for now as it was getting to the heavy part, and I just couldn’t handle it, but I think it’s time to dig it out again.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. My first book by her and I’m not really connecting with it. Not sure about this one.

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot. This one is for book club and I am *flying* through this. Love it.

What are you reading? Let me know in the comments.

Sawdust in His Shoes

Sawdust in His Shoes by Eloise McGraw Jarvis.

One minute Joe is on top of the world – fame, applause, friends – the next he is orphaned, homeless, and unemployed. When his father is killed, Joe hopes he’ll be able to stay in the circus and live with an old friend. But the court needs time to consider the matter. Soon the circus must move on and Joe is shoved into a boys’ home. Joe decides to set off on his own instead, but it’s only after meeting an extraordinary ordinary family that things finally start looking up.

A few years ago I read another book by Jarvis and really enjoyed it. (The Golden Goblet) When I heard she had a new book out, I was pleased but surprised. She must be pretty lucky to be writing new stuff so long after her previous book. It turns out that this is a new edition of her very first novel, which explains its old-fashioned feel. It’s set during the height of the traveling circus, when tractors were replacing horse drawn plows, when telephones were on the party line and no television existed. A circus was seen as glamorous and exotic, not quite respectable.

Joe is a brash, daring kid with a quick temper. He’s kind of a mess when his dad dies. It takes a family like the Dawsons to help him heal.

I really enjoyed this book. It did take me a little while to get into it, but that might have been me. Once I got started, the story moved well enough. I think most lids would like this one. It was clean and perfect for your animal loving kids. It would be good one to read aloud too.

Must Read Graphic Novel!!

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You need this one!

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage – The Mostly True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua

Have you heard of Countess Ada Lovelace, daughter of poet Lord Byron? What about Charles Babbage? You should get to know this pair!

Book description:

THE THRILLING ADVENTURES OF LOVELACE AND BABBAGE . . . in which Sydney Padua transforms one of the most compelling scientific collaborations into a hilarious series of adventures.

Meet Victorian London’s most dynamic duo: Charles Babbage, the unrealized inventor of the computer, and his accomplice, Ada, Countess of Lovelace, the peculiar protoprogrammer and daughter of Lord Byron. When Lovelace translated a description of Babbage’s plans for an enormous mechanical calculating machine in 1842, she added annotations three times longer than the original work. Her footnotes contained the first appearance of the general computing theory, a hundred years before an actual computer was built. Sadly, Lovelace died of cancer a decade after publishing the paper, and Babbage never built any of his machines.

But do not despair! The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage presents a rollicking alternate reality in which Lovelace and Babbage do build the Difference Engine and then use it to build runaway economic models, battle the scourge of spelling errors, explore the wilder realms of mathematics, and, of course, fight crime—for the sake of both London and science. Complete with extensive footnotes that rival those penned by Lovelace herself, historical curiosities, and never-before-seen diagrams of Babbage’s mechanical, steam-powered computer, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage is wonderfully whimsical, utterly unusual, and, above all, entirely irresistible.

My review:

I completely fell in love with this book! It made me laugh so hard! The stories were great, the illustrations clever. The author adds so much historical data. I can’t pick my favorite story, the one with the Victorian novelists or the Looking Glass episode. If you are a nerd like me, you will love this one.

Walter Cronkite, a biography

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Walter Cronkite by Douglas Brinkley

I was very excited to read this biography as Walter Cronkite has always been someone I admire. I remember watching him when I was a little girl. He was the news anchor on CBS. I still remember his last broadcast on the day he retired.

Unfortunately, the book wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. The information was interesting, but it was presented fact after fact, with little attempt to break it up into meaningful chunks or themes. I listened to this one and I think that was a mistake. The reader had a rather monotone voice that nearly put me to sleep.

Murder on the Appian Way

Murder on the Appian Way (Roma Sub Rosa #5) by Stephen Saylor

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Photo by Anastasia Zhenina on Pexels.com

I love a good historical fiction, and if there’s mystery or romance in there too, I am even more interested. This book is about Gordianus the Finder, neighbor of the orator Cicero, who becomes entangled in the hunt for a murderer.

Even in Rome, maybe especially in Rome, politicians did not get along. But this feud may have actually caused a murder. Soon each side is fighting in the streets and then actual riots break out. Gordian goes back to the scene of the crime to see if he can figure out who’s really guilty.

I loved the setting on this. The story is based on actual events, and it’s full of details, such as the local shrine of the Good Goddess, Hestia  I think, and the courtroom drama. It felt like I was really there.

The one thing I wasn’t crazy about was Gordianus. He comes a little too close to cheating on his wife for me to see him as a really good guy. But I did like the series enough to see if I can find the first book in the series. I like the audio version, but I think print would be fine too.

Back from vacation!

My trip was great! Of course, I was worn out when we got back, and I had a lot of catching up to do. But I’ve been away from my blog for too long so I wanted to share a couple of reviews with you.

I didn’t get as much reading in this week, but I do have 2 books I DNFd.

The first was a debut mystery, Turnstone by Graham Hurley. Based on Portsmouth, England, the book description said it was about a missing man. But after reading to a while, there was no indication of that case and I had found five typos. Not interesting enough to continue.

Then I found Zero Limit, which sounded like a cross between Artemis and Armageddon. Unfortunately, I guessed the disaster and who would die first long before it happened. The idea sounded good, but the writing wasn’t up to it.

I got both of these from Kindle Unlimited, so maybe it’s just a case of you get what you pay for. Luckily, I had a fun Net Galley book up next. I’ll get to that review later.

 

Whispers Underground – a review

Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch
Rivers of London series book 4

So much that I love about this series. The world building is really different. This is urban fantasy set in London, but what sets it apart from most UF is that our main character, although he is part of a supernatural crime section, remains very much a policeman. He acts like a cop, he thinks like a cop. He just deals with weird stuff. I like that.

What I didn’t like was amount of profanity. I know I’m really conservative about that, but it is a real annoyance for me. My library only has this book as digital audio books, so unless I want to buy them, this is the only way to consume them. Which is great for all the variety of accents in here, but not so great as hearing the profanity is worse for me than reading it. I don’t like being sworn at repeatedly. Undecided if I want to continue this series

The Archimage’s Fourth Daughter: A Review

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions remain my own.

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The Archimage’s Fourth Daughter by Lyndon Hardy, Magics # 4

Excerpt:

Alodar placed his hands on Briana’s shoulders, paused for a moment more, and then said softly, “The answer is no.”

“You can’t do that!” Briana yelled back. “Even the Archimage has limits to his power. You admitted as much yourself. You cannot order me around like some serf of an Arcadian lord.”

“I do not order you to stay because I am the Archimage,” Alodar said. “I do so because I am your father.”

Briana felt the anger well within her like a brush fire suddenly out of control. She clinched her teeth so as not to say more. The library page had a key to this council chamber, she thought fiercely. It might take more than a single kiss to get it, but that is what she would have to do.

Brief book description:

A group of residents from a magical world have found a way to pass into another realm, but then lost contact. The archimage and his council need to find out what happened. They plan to send someone to find out, but his youngest daughter instead journeys there to discover a new world without magic. Instead the residents use technology. Briana has to find these offworlders and find out what they’re up to. Then she has to find a way to keep them from destroying her world.


Y’all. This book. I don’t even know where to start.

Let me start with the good: The part I really liked was when Briana came through to the “new world,” which was of course, modern Earth. Briana is has grown up in a medieval male-dominated style world, living a sheltered and privileged life due to her father’s status. She has servants, she has magic, and she has money.

When she gets to Earth, she has none of that. Instead she winds up living on the streets and in shelters at first, because she doesn’t understand how money works, she has no documents, and knows no one. She’s befriended by a homeless man named Eddie who takes her under his wing and shows her how to survive. Before long, she’s finds a place where she can wait tables and earn a little cash while she tries to figure out her next move. This was definitely the best part of the book. Not only was her struggle real, but it gave the author a way to discuss some modern day social issues, like the problem of homelessness, the divide between rich and poor, and problems with unjustified police engagement. I think this could have been taken even further, and really would have made a great book just by itself.

But it wasn’t the main part of the book. We then get into these bad guys. Who are they? Why have they been on earth so long and what is their problem? I don’t really know. They were just really unpleasant. I had a hard time seeing them as much of a threat. They never come above ground! How much damage can they do? And I’m not exactly sure what they looked like. The writer said they had tusks or something, they weren’t human. I’m not sure Briana was either, but she passed as human. I didn’t really get it. How had these dudes managed to survive for a hundred years, living underground with their weird wasp things?

Briana finally meets some humans who can help her with her quest, which I had almost forgotten by this point of the book, and that brings up the next set of problems I had with the book. Briana. I just didn’t like the girl. When she was lost on a new planet, I felt sorry for her. I could only imagine how disorienting that must be. But for someone who’s supposed to be smart, she sure took a long time figuring stuff out. She’s so stuck in her old world way of thinking, that she can’t tell when a man is hitting on her.

She chats up a guy because well, plot, and the next thing you know, she’s invited herself to move in with him. He’s kind of a creep, so he thinks, “Hey, hot girl I barely know, sure you can move it with me if you move into my bed.” Like she’s JUST introduced herself and he’s already trying to get her clothes off. But honestly, what would most guys think? This strange girl wants to move in with you? Slow down!

So sure, he’s a creep. But then she is all offended that he expects sex. She just wanted to move in with him and have him drive her places and buy her food. In return for what? Does she help with school work or house work? No. This other random dude who moves in too does that. She accuses him of using her, but he’s just there to solve her problems.

I really lost interest in the second half of this book. The plot sort of limps along and the bad guys are bad and we get an epic battle at the end, but it wasn’t worth it. I was really disappointed. This is book 4 in a series, but the series has been on hiatus for a long time, and I was assured I could jump in at this point, so I didn’t read the previous book. It might have made a difference to me, but I just can’t imagine that I’d want to go back and read them now. If you are into magic-based fantasy, I would say don’t start with this one. Try his first book, Master of the Five Magics, which I guess is about Briana’s father. But I’m moving on.