November Book Giveaway!

Open book on wooden table.
Designed by Freepik

My birthday is next month, so I’m giving you a gift! But this time, I’m really being careful not to tell you what it is, but to make you guess. I’ll reveal it ahead of time, though, I’m not going to make you wait right up until the very end.

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  1. This author grew up in California then moved to China.
  2. This is her first published book.
  3. It’s published by Simon & Schuster.
  4. This is a YA sci fi/dystopia.

Right, that’s all the clues I’m giving you today. You’ll have to check back if you want to win! And how do you win? I can hear you asking!

  1. Follow my blog
  2. Like this post
  3. Comment and tell me one other post that you read

For an extra chance to win, follow me on Twitter @Cindy_Bohn and tell me your username. That’s it! Only people who follow the rules will be eligible to win. For this contest, I will ship anywhere. You must enter by November 4th. Winners will be announced November 5th. Good luck!

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NaNo Prep #1 – Are You In?

This is the first in a series of articles I will be doing about prepping for NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. 

Hey, fellow writers! Next month is NaNoWriMo, and whether you’re a first timer or a repeat, there’s one question you have to ask yourself LONG before November 1st if you want to be a success.

Are You In?

Are you in – as in – are you committed? Are you in this project for the long haul? Are you going to write every day, right up until November 30th?

This really matters, because if you’re just casually committed to your book, you’re not going to finish it. Hey, you don’t HAVE to write a book. But if you want to write, you need to really want it. That’s been my problem lately. I’m kinda half-hearted about writing. I want to finish my book, but I want to finish my other projects too.

So for the month of November, I’m committing to writing every day, for at least 30 minutes a day. If that means leaving the house so I can use a computer, then that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to the library, or getting on my tablet, or using a freaking notepad and a pencil. But I’m going to write.

What about you? Are you going to stick with it, even when you feel like you have nothing to say that day and you really want to go do something else? If you really will write every single day, you can absolutely hit 50,000 words by the end of the month. You can finish. We’ll do it together.

 

September Wrap-Up

September is over! I’m so glad summer is over! I feel like this year has flown by. It’s definitely been a better year than last year for me. And this was a pretty good month, for reading and other stuff. Here’s a look at what I read this month, and best of each category.

Audiobooks

It has been the year of the audiobook for me! And this month was no exception.

  • Frogkisser by Garth Nix – 4 stars, review here
  • Newt’s Emerald, also by Garth Nix – 4 stars, review here
  • The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner – 5 stars!!!
  • American Colonies by Alan Taylor – 3.4 stars, review here
  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman – 5 stars, review here
  • Entwined by Heather Dixon – 4.2 stars
  • The Sans Pareil Mystery by Karen Charlton – 4 stars, review here

Lots of great choices this time. I actually have 2 books with 5 star ratings, and I’m torn between the two. TQOA was a reread, but AMCO was new to me. Still, I love Eugenides the Thief so much, I have to give the award to that one.

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Graphic Novels

Only one this time, Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon. Only rating it 3 stars, although it got higher marks from other folks. Still, I’m glad I read it. Review here.

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ARCS and Review Books

Two finished this month, and I didn’t like either one.

  • Trust in Axion by Bruce Meyer, 1.5 stars, review here
  • Darkwater: Xenkur Chonricles by DW Johnson, 1 star, review here

 

Challenges

This month was my Off the Shelf Challenge, to clear out some of my TBR books around the house and off my Kindle queue. I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped – those darn library books were just so tempting. (Maybe if I actually stayed out of the library it would have helped, right?)

  • Passage by Connie Willis, 4.3 stars
  • Enchanted by KM Shea, 4 stars
  • The Dragon Man by Garry Disher, 2.2 stars, review here
  • The Pierced Heart by Lynn Shepherd, DNF
  • Murder of a Beauty Shop Queen by Bill Crider, 3.75 stars, review here
  • Something New by PG Wodehouse, 3.5 stars

Not bad, but not great. Still, the winner was Passage, solid sci-fi by the master. I haven’t done a review yet, but it was really good.

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Library Books

Yeah, I meant to stay out of the library all together, but I sneaked in at the end of August and didn’t get around to reading the books until this month, so here they are.

  • Lord of the Wings by Donna Andrews, 3.5 stars
  • Die Like an Eagle, also by Donna Andrews, 3.3 stars

It doesn’t matter much, here, but I liked the Halloween setting of the first book slightly better than the second. Still, both are recommended if you like funny mysteries. Reviews here.

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So that was my month in books! I’m currently STILL reading The Queens of the Conquest (it’s going to kill me!), plus Nation by Terry Pratchett on audio, and a fantasy/myth anthology. No definite plans for October other than maybe some spooky fare. We’ll see. What was your favorite book this month?

Australian Police Mystery

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Title: The Dragon Man, DI Challis #1

Author: Garry Disher

Setting: Australia present day

Off the Shelf challenge

Meet Hal Challis, Detective for the Mornington Peninsula police force in Southeast Australia, in the first investigation in this prize-winning crime series

“A serial killer is on the loose in a small coastal town near Melbourne, Australia. Detective Inspector Hal Challis and his team must apprehend him before he strikes again. But first, Challis has to contend with the editor of a local newspaper who undermines his investigation at every turn, and with his wife, who attempts to resurrect their marriage through long-distance phone calls from a sanitarium, where she has been committed for the past eight years for attempted murder—his.”

The police procedural is a name for a type of mystery which is pretty much like the name implies – it centers around a group of police officers and one or more crimes they are trying to solve. Generally there’s one central case and a few others minor ones. Depending on the writer, there’s also some stuff about the officers, about their home lives, their relationships, their backgrounds. It’s like Law & Order or NCIS.

Normally I like police procedurals. I’ve read a lot of them, set throughout the 20th century up until modern ones. My favorite authors tend to be out of print, but there are some writers who are still producing first class books.

This one was not one of them.

I see that it won quite a few awards and has all kinds of blurbs on the back. What can I say? I was not impressed. It wasn’t that I hated all the characters. DI Hal Challis, the MC, is interesting with quite the back story.

It’s just that I got bored. I thought this was about a serial killer, but the writer wound up spending so much time on other crimes, on the personal lives of the police officers, on accusations of police misconduct, that the serial killer case got lost. I think if I had been in a different mood, I might have enjoyed it more.

I did like the setting. I don’t read much Australian fiction, so it was nice to get out of my comfort zone and see what else is out there. So that part did work for me.

Overall, I don’t know if I’d recommend this one or not. Maybe if you want to try a police novel and are looking for an unusual one, you could give it a try. Also, it’s the first in the series, although it doesn’t necessarily read that way, and it’s possible the series gets better as it goes. Unfortunately, I don’t think I could find any more by this author if I wanted to. And I guess that’s OK. I think I’ll just call it quits here and move on. 2.6/5 stars

Trigger Warning: sexual violence

 

 

Humorous Mysteries

23014654If you like a little humor with your mysteries, Donna Andrews has got a series for you. Meg Langslow is a blacksmith whose family has a tendency to get involved in stuff that leads to murder. She has discovered a wide array of murder victims over the years, but she keeps her head and always manages to figure out who done it.

I love funny books, so I took a break from my Off the Shelf challenge this month and read two of Andrews’ latest books, Lord of the Wings and Die Like an Eagle. All of them have birds and bird-related puns in the title.

Lord of the Wings revolves around the mythical town of Caerphilly, Virginia where they’ve begun a new Halloween Festival. Things were going pretty smoothly until someone started a strange scavenger hunt. It started at the zoo and ended in a murder. The next book in the series, Die Like an Eagle, centers around Meg’s twins and their first baseball team. The books are #18 & 19 in the series, but you can start anywhere really and give it a go. My favorite is probably We’ll Always Have Parrots which involves a fan convention. It is just hilarious.  Great reads for curling up with a good book.

Murder of a Beauty Shop Queen

Title: Murder of a Beauty Shop Queen 👑 🔪💈 (Sheriff Dan Rhodes #19)

Author: Bill Crider

Setting: small town Texas present day

Petty young Lynn was a favorite stylist at the beauty shop, especially with the men. But someone didn’t like her – enough that they got her over the head with her own hair dryer. Is her murder connected to the string of thefts in the county? Or was it her love life? The sheriff needs to catch the killer before someone else dies.

I really like these books. There’s a lot of humor in them, as well as a slice of small town life. As a former Texan, I just really get a kick out of this series. I would start with the first book in the series, Too Late to Die. They’re all pretty quick reads.

My Latest Book Haul

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I got books! As you can see, I’ve also got a cat. Tina saw me take out my phone and had to get in the shot, so here she is.

I have lots of great thrift stores nearby. Usually I try to restrain myself, but this time, I bought all the books.

 

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5 mysteries and one fiction! Strong as Death on top, that’s a historical mystery set during a pilgrimage. Then four mysteries from the same publisher. I’ve read The Lord Mayor of Death and wanted to read that one again. It’s good, very suspenseful. Not sure about the others, but they were worth a dollar!

Fannie Flagg writes HILARIOUS stuff. We read one of her books for book club last year and it was really good.

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Oh, Murder and Chips is set in New Zealand. I never get mysteries set there, so this should be good. Here’s another shot of my helpful cat.

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Thanks, Tina.

Newt’s Emerald: Sunday Standalone

Standalone Sunday was started by Bookslayer and you can find more here. It’s for title that are not part of a series.
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Title: Newt’s Emerald: Magic, Maids, and Masquerades

Author: Garth Nix

Setting: Alternate England 1830s

On her eighteenth birthday, Lady Truthful, nicknamed “Newt,” will inherit her family’s treasure: the Newington Emerald. A dazzling heart-shaped gem, the Emerald also bestows its wearer with magical powers.

When the Emerald disappears one stormy night, Newt sets off to recover it. Her plan entails dressing up as a man, mustache included, as no well-bred young lady should be seen out and about on her own. While in disguise, Newt encounters the handsome but shrewd Major Harnett, who volunteers to help find the missing Emerald under the assumption that she is a man. Once she and her unsuspecting ally are caught up in a dangerous adventure that includes an evil sorceress, Newt realizes that something else is afoot: the beating of her heart.

In Newt’s Emerald, the bestselling author of Sabriel, Garth Nix, takes a waggish approach to the forever popular Regency romance and presents a charmed world where everyone has something to hide. ”

Lady Truthful’s family has guarded the Newington Emerald for generations, using its magic to control the waves. One stormy night, her father displays the emerald to her and her cousins when there’s a violent crash. When everything is cleared up, the emerald is gone. Her father is distraught over the loss of the heirloom. Truthful decides she must recover the jewel on her own.

Garth Nix has done it again. He is such a versatile writer. I just finished a review of Frogkisser! which I really enjoyed. This book was just as much fun. He takes all the conventions of a Regency romance and turns it into something fresh and new. Every romance trope is in here – a heroine in disguise, a masquerade ball – but uses them to gently poke fun at the conventions. The addition of the magic was a fun touch.

The romance in here was a lot of fun too. Major Charles Hartnett – or is it Robert? – is dashing and heroic, but it’s Truthful who manages to rescue him more than once. Their attraction is combined with some nicely managed sexual tension, but it’s all PG rated.

My biggest complaint is that I wanted to see the emerald’s powers used more. There’s some stuff at the end, but it could have been used better. In general though, Nix does a great job of taking a traditional Regency romance and weaving in magic. The fantasy aspect is well thought out and a lot of fun.

This one is recommended for fans of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer or those looking for a romance with something extra.

Review: Private

7134202Title: Private (Private #1)

Author: James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Format: Audiobook

Source: Audible freebie

Setting: Los Angeles, present day

“Wouldn’t it be neat if there was a private investigation business that was WAY COOLER than the cops? With a super advanced crime lab that had all the latest stuff? And investigators who could carry big guns and didn’t have to follow all the police regulations? And they worked for all the big clients because they were so cool?”

Well, yeah, I guess that would be neat. Not very believable, but neat. And I would read that.

“Wouldn’t it be great if we had a whole bunch of diverse characters that all have sexy secrets and every one has this like, diverse background that we’ll go into in complete detail, like an Irish secretary who is working on her citizenship? And a quirky scientist guy who does his own forensic exams? And a damaged main character who inherits the whole business from  his criminal dad and has to fight with his EVIL TWIN BROTHER???”

Um, I guess so. Evil twins are kind of over done, but…

“And would wouldn’t it be EVEN BETTER if the crime exposed the rotten underbelly of Hollywood with the mob and prostitutes and drugs and serial killers after school girls and a conspiracy to undermine professional football?”

Wait, how does football fit in to this?

“Wouldn’t you totally read that?”

Not on purpose I wouldn’t.

“Oh, so we’ll just throw it all in there a little at a time, so you’re already hooked on the story and you have to read it to see what happens. Wouldn’t that be super cool?”

Nope.

Review: Hawkeye

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Title: Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon

Authors: Matt Fraction, David Aja

Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, and Kate Bishop, aka Hawkeye, team up in a series of adventures. The first stories are mainly about Clint, while the last story is mainly about Kate with the Young Avengers. The art was good, but the stories weren’t anything special. The exception was the last story about Clint and Kate. That one I really liked. This is part of the Marvel Now! series, which I have generally enjoyed and is available free through Kindle Unlimited.