The Manual of Detection – a Review

The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry

Found at the library

In this tightly plotted yet mind-expanding debut novel, an unlikely detective, armed only with an umbrella and a singular handbook, must untangle a string of crimes committed in and through people’s dreams

I’m not really sure how to describe this one. It starts when lowly clerk Charles Unwin finds himself unexpectedly promoted to detective but given no cases. Instead he decides to solve a disappearance, but he has no clues.

I’m the one hand he just sort of bubbles through the investigation, but on the other events unravel in such unpredictable ways that I never knew where this story was going. I couldn’t even figure out what it was about for a really long time. I am sure though that whatever it was I just read, it was truly original and I’m glad I read it.

You can find a better synopsis, but I would avoid them. If this description appeals, just give it 50 pages and then decide if you like it. I’ll be interested to see what this author does next.



This is not me. Just FYI.

I just read two fun books in a row, both YA, both ones I would recommend.

The first is The Plastic Magician by Charlie M Holmberg. I’ve blogged about her before, even did a giveaway of one of her books. (Speaking of which, I should do another giveaway soon!) So it’s no secret that I enjoy her writing. This book is an add-on to her Paper Magician series, but introduces an entirely new main character. Here’s the synopsis.

Wall Street Journal bestselling author Charlie N. Holmberg returns to the enchanting world of The Paper Magician.

Alvie Brechenmacher has arrived in London to begin her training in Polymaking—the magical discipline of bespelling plastic. Polymaking is the newest form of magic, and in a field where there is so much left to learn, every Polymaker dreams of making the next big discovery.

Even though she is only an apprentice, Alvie is an inventor at heart, and she is determined to make as many discoveries—in as short a time frame—as she can. Luckily for her, she’s studying under the world-renowned magician Marion Praff, who is just as dedicated as Alvie is.

Alvie’s enthusiasm reinvigorates her mentor’s work, and together they create a device that could forever change Polymaking—and the world. But when a rival learns of their plans, he conspires to steal their invention and take the credit for it himself.

To thwart him, Alvie will need to think one step ahead. For in the high-stakes world of magical discovery, not everyone plays fair…

My take:

Alvie is a young German American woman who can’t wait to learn magic. She’s even chosen her field – The newly emerging study of plastics. She gets chosen for a very prestigious apprenticeship in England and sets off. Not a lot of plot going on here, but Alvie was so much fun as a character and the world was so engrossing that it didn’t bother me that the villain was really obvious. There was a light romance – very light – but it was a sweet one. I would recommend it to lovers of light fantasy.

Which brings me to my second book, The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman. I saw this recommended by a Good Reads friend, so when I saw a copy at the library, I had to grab it. It’s based on this extra-dimensional library that maintains the language and literature of the worlds. Cool, right? Here’s a synopsis.

Collecting books can be a dangerous prospect in this fun, time-traveling, fantasy adventure from a spectacular debut author. One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction…

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it’s already been stolen.

London’s underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested–the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something–secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself. Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option–because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself.

My verdict:

A fun romp that goes completely over the top. Vampires and airships and far and alternate worlds all combine in this crazy little book. I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but I was in the mood for slightly goofy fun and this book was just what I needed. Irene and Kai are great characters and there’s still plenty of mystery left for the next book. It’s the first in a series, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest.

Major Lord David, a review

Major Lord David by Sherry Lynn Ferguson

Decades of war with France are over and Napoleon Bonaparte is safely confined on Elba. Yet Major Lord David Trent finds his homecoming far from peaceful. His father, the Duke of Braughton, is determined to see his son wed, and he has a very specific bride in mind: his neighbor’s daughter. David cannot recall that the neighbor even has a daughter, much less one he might find appealing! And after years spent fighting on the Peninsula, he is in no mood to be ordered to court anyone.

Wilhelmina Caswell has always been in love with Lord David, as her family is well aware. Her preference, and the designs of both their fathers, would seem to make the match inevitable. But as the spring of 1815 advances along with an emboldened Bonaparte, a looming battle threatens thousands of lives and one growing love at Waterloo.

It’s funny how sometimes when you’re reading, all your books 📚 sort of align. I’m listening to a book about Napoleon in Egypt and then I started this one, which is about an English officer in the war against the French, and the in Touch there was a section about his life in Egypt.

This is a neat little historical romance between two lovers who grew up as neighbors and then fell in love. 💓 My problem though was that the conflict between the two was more annoying than believable. Billie was too afraid of her feelings or something to admit them. I got tired of that. It was really sudden on David’s part, but too slow on hers.

Some reviews mentioned not liking the descriptions of war in a romance book. I didn’t have any problem with that. The synopsis made it pretty clear that was was a major theme in the book. I’ve read other books set in the era that have similar passages, notably The Spanish Bride by Georgette Heyer. If you wanted pure romance, then this will probably not satisfy. I thought it was good enough that I want to read the next book in the series. All of these so far have been clean as far as sexual content, so if you like it steamy this book is not for you.

Touch – a Review

Touch by Claire North

Kepler had never meant to die this way — viciously beaten to death by a stinking vagrant in a dark back alley. But when reaching out to the murderer for salvation in those last dying moments, a sudden switch takes place.

Now Kepler is looking out through the eyes of the killer himself, staring down at a broken and ruined body lying in the dirt of the alley.

Instead of dying, Kepler has gained the ability to roam from one body to another, to jump into another person’s skin and see through their eyes, live their life — be it for a few minutes, a few months or a lifetime.

Kepler means these host bodies no harm — and even comes to cherish them intimately like lovers. But when one host, Josephine Cebula, is brutally assassinated, Kepler embarks on a mission to seek the truth — and avenge Josephine’s death.

This book is a case of where the idea 💡 was better than the execution. First of all, if I hadn’t read the synopsis, I might have enjoyed the slow reveal a little more. As it was, the description doesn’t really match the spirit of the book, IMO.

As it was, I wish there had been more time in each “skin” before jumping into the plot. I liked the idea a lot, but the ending fell flat for me. I will admit that I found myself thinking about the book for a long time, wondering what I would have done differently

Deadly Engagement – a Review


Deadly Engagement by Lucinda Brant (Alec Halsey #1)

Synopsis: An eighteenth century historical mystery. Diplomat and amateur sleuth Alec Halsey becomes embroiled in countryhouse murder and mayhem. He must confront past demons in his love life and a cruel twist of fate that reveals why his brother now loathes him. If you love Sebastian St. Cyr novels by CS Harris and Julian Kestrel novels by Kate Ross then you’ll love Deadly Engagement.

My Thoughts:

When I opened this ebook, it was billed as a ‘crimance.’ Call me a word snob, but if I had seen that in the description, I never would have bothered reading it. What the heck is a crimance? But I can’t really hold that against the author because I don’t know who chose that word. It could have been her, but it could have been the editor, some PR person, or a random publishing exec. In any case, it’s such a horrible word!

But let’s put that aside and talk about the story. Alec arrives back in England after being posted in Paris. He goes to visit the woman he loves only to find that she is recently betrothed to his brother. And his former lover is there to witness his humiliation. Trying to forget his love, Alec learns that friend is dead from a duel, again with Alec’s brother, Edward. That guy is bad news. And he hates Alec.

Intrigue and romance all around, followed by a murder and attempted rape. I enjoyed the story and the setting, but the love angle wasn’t as convincing as it should have been. Still, I would read more by this author.

What Are You Reading?

Happy Monday! Hope your weekend was good. Mine involved a lot of driving.

I’m currently reading 2 books, kind of a low number for me, but I’ve been reading fewer books at a time this year.

8049273 The Elegant Universe is my current audiobook. I *finally* finished the Plantagenet book by Dan Jones, which was a whopper at something like 26 hours. This one is much shorter, but involves a lot of big concepts. It’s about string theory, quantum mechanics, and the search for the ultimate theory of the universe. I don’t really get all the ideas in here, but part of why I love books about physics is that they make you think in ways you aren’t used to. Brian Greene uses a lot of examples that help explain things in a way that you can understand them better. It’s been a fun book.

24357485I’m also reading Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson. This is on my Kindle. I love the steampunk fantasy world that the author has created here, and I love that even though I read the previous book in the series, I still can’t really predict where he’s going in this book. The relationships as well as the plot are still keeping me guessing. It feels like an easy read too, compared to the horrible Ada Palmer book I just finished.

That’s it for me. Hope you are finding something awesome to read. Let me know what books you are into right now and whether you like them!

Children of Blood and Bone: Review

34728667Title: Children of Blood and Bone, Legacy of Orisha, book 1

Author: Tomi Adeyemi

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not affect my opinion of the book.

First off: That Cover. Wow.

Synopsis: Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. 

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. 

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy. 

My thoughts:

I was lucky to get a chance to read this one! It came at the perfect time, right after I watched AND LOVED Black Panther. I had been hearing from absolutely everyone how amazing this book was, how much they were looking forward to it, if they hadn’t read it yet, and on and on.

I really liked it.

And that’s it. I didn’t LOVE it; it wasn’t AMAZING. It was good. Maybe really good. But that was it.

It started off really well – this horrible oppressive nation with a rich and complex history. Zelie’s back story is really compelling, and the secondary characters were very likable. The magic system is really interesting, and I loved the world building. I would love to see a leopardaire. I loved Princess Amari and absolutely hated her father. He is just horrible!

It was Zelie that I didn’t really love. I felt like the romance there was weird and it just didn’t work for me. But I could have kind of gone with it, maybe it was just that it was the first book and thinking about it more would have changed my mind. But Zelie was not as a great a character as I was hoping for in the beginning. I felt like she didn’t learn and grow much over the book. She was still impulsive, still getting into the same fights with her brother.

When I compared this to Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older, which I also read recently, I liked Sierra more. I felt like she really had that moment when she came into her own power and really transformed into this powerful, strong woman who was ready to fight the world and win. Maybe it was because this book was split between Zelie and Amari, but I didn’t feel like Zelie had that moment of transformation in quite the same way. Don’t get me wrong – I think this was a good book and I’m glad I read it. But I think it could have been even better.

It’s possible that it was just me, that I read it at the wrong time and I would have enjoyed it more if I were in a different mood. If you are looking forward to reading this one, I’d say go ahead and give it a try. But I’m not in a hurry to read the next book.

Too Like Lightning – review

Too Like Lightning by Ada Palmer

I read this one because it won the Hugo award and it sounded intriguing. What a mistake!

Extremely ambitious, I’ll admit that. But the ending introduced a whole next level of violence and sexual dysfunction that left me completely disgusted. When I learned Mycroft’s story, about how he had been tortured and taught to torture, it made want to vomit. And this is the person the writer wants to be the protector of a friendless child? What the hell did I just read? I do not understand how this book is recommended for the awards. What is the matter with people.
It ends with a child facing either being murdered or being championed by those who have been taught to torture others for political reasons and to find sexual release in doing so. Not recommended for anyone!

Review: Heap House

Title: Heap House (The Iremonger Trilogy)

Author: Edward Carey

Synopsis: Clod is an Iremonger. He lives in the Heaps, a vast sea of lost and discarded items collected from all over London. At the centre is Heap House, a puzzle of houses, castles, homes and mysteries reclaimed from the city and built into a living maze of staircases and scurrying rats.

The Iremongers are a mean and cruel family, robust and hardworking, but Clod has an illness. He can hear the objects whispering. His birth object, a universal bath plug, says ‘James Henry’, Cousin Tummis’s tap is squeaking ‘Hilary Evelyn Ward-Jackson’ and something in the attic is shouting ‘Robert Burrington‘ and it sounds angry.

A storm is brewing over Heap House. The Iremongers are growing restless and the whispers are getting louder. When Clod meets Lucy Pennant, a girl newly arrived from the city, everything changes. The secrets that bind Heap House together begin to unravel to reveal a dark truth that threatens to destroy Clod’s world.

My thoughts:

What a weird book! I don’t remember how this one made it on to my TBR list, but I’m kind of glad it did.

It’s sort of a cross between Tim Burton and Oliver Twist. It’s set in a strange version of Victorian England. Clod, and yes, the spelling is intentional, is an orphan part of a wealthy but strange family that makes their living exploiting the poor and claiming their trash. It’s made them rich but set them apart in the most bizarre ways. The whole book is just really hard to describe.

Clod is definitely the best of a bad bunch though, and I really wanted to see him escape from this horrible life. I loved Lucy, and I can’t wait to see how she shakes things up. It definitely ends on a cliffhanger, so be prepared for that.

I am going to finish this series, but I didn’t love it enough that I’m just dying to get the next book. I got this one from the library and I didn’t like it enough to buy it. I am honestly unsure how kids will like it. I think the kids who like the Tim Burton kind of feel will enjoy it. It’s a little Lemony Snicket like, so if you’re into that vibe, you’d probably enjoy it too.

Review: Along Came Jones

This book was received in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. My opinions, however, remain my own. Thanks for the chance to read this book!


Title: Along Came Jones

Author: Victoria Bernadine

Summary: Benjamin Ferrin Macon-Jones has it all: a luxurious lifestyle in Toronto and the love of an intelligent, ambitious woman…until that same woman refuses his marriage proposal, tells him he’s a detriment to her career, and leaves him. Unable to deal with his cantankerous family trying to be supportive, he quietly slips away into the Canadian countryside.

Lou Upjohn has problems of her own. She’s a recluse and agoraphobic, staying safely within the walls of her ancestral home in small town Saskatchewan and depending on Ike, her best and only friend, to deal with the outside world.

Only Ike’s just married another woman and now he’s moving to Vancouver. Before he leaves, he hires the new guy in town, Ferrin Jones, to run her errands and do her yard work. Lou isn’t happy, but even she has to admit the stranger looks mildly interesting.

Both their lives could be changed forever if she only has the courage to open the door. 

My thoughts:

I don’t read much contemporary romance, like, at all, so I was a little surprised to be approached to review this story. However, I am pretty open about my mental health issues, and I found that angle intriguing enough that I said yes. I’m so glad I did!

I am really not a fan of the insta-love that substitutes for a real relationship in so many new books. Maybe that’s because it’s primarily YA, but I *so* don’t want to read about a couple who meet, fall in love, and fall into bed. I’m not into those books. If you are, hey, good for you, but I want real people who have time to get to know one another before they fall.

So this book was a breath of fresh air for me. I loved the MCs – Ferrin was just so appealing, with his crazy family and optimistic attitude. I can see why Lou fell for him – he’s just a great guy. And Lou, she’s so real and so much stronger than she has given herself credit for being. I liked that she didn’t magically overcome her panic attacks. The pacing felt pretty realistic. The bad guy is just human garbage and I was glad to see them get what they deserved.

If you are looking for a good romance with a great small town setting, I would definitely recommend this one. The author says she’s been writing for a long time, and it shows. Recommended.