Murder Among the Pines

Murder Among the Pines by John Lawrence Reynolds

I got this one from Early Reviewers for free in exchange for an honest but fair review. My opinion remains my own.

Police chief Max Benson is busy enough with the summer visitors to her sleepy Canadian town, but when her ex-husband becomes the chief suspect in a murder investigation, she might have to clear up her schedule. This was a very quick read. The ending was not really a surprise, but if you like mysteries, I think you’d like this. Perfect for beginning readers. It is the third in the series, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying it.

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Son of a Gun: A Review

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

Title: Son of a Gun

Author: Lee Ness

Setting: Present day, various locations

It’s been a long time since Eidolon has answered to another name. He’s almost forgotten who is truly is or where he came from. Then he almost gets caught and he has to track down which one of his previous clients – or targets – might want him dead.

His name was John King, and he’s an assassin.

It’s not a bad life, but he’s not thinking about long term survival until suddenly he becomes responsible for someone else.

I enjoyed this book. The pacing was very good and Eidolon is a solid character, with well developed motivation and a nice character arc. It’s quite topical with the political maneuvering and so on. It was very violent, more than I expected and more than I like, really. It’s available for free right now on Kindle Unlimited too.

 

2 Faery Tales

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I love some good fantasy involving the fae. I like fluffy happy fairy tales too, but sometimes I like the darker tales, the ones that remind you that those Fair Folk can be spooky and otherworldly beings as well as beautiful and kind. I just read two fae books in a row, and while neither was as good as I hoped, one was better than the other one. Neither of these were specifically YA books, but either one could be read by any age.

I’ll start with the one I am recommending (with reservations).

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The Masked City by Genevieve Cogmon
Invisible Library book 2

I read the first one in this series, The Invisible Library, last month I believe and I thought it was quite fun. In that one, Junior Librarian Irene is given a new apprentice and sent into a world to retrieve a rare book. When she is there, she discovers that the fae are rather powerful in that world, which also has some steampunk aspects, and narrowly escapes being murdered by the one person to escape the Library oaths.

This book starts a little while after that one. Slight spoiler: she is assigned to remain on that world with. Her assistant Kai, who has secrets I won’t spoil, but trust me they’re big, gets kidnapped in this one and taken to an alternate Venice entirely ruled by the fae. Irene has to get him back before war breaks out. More noticeable plotholes than the first book, but more dragons, so it sort of events out. Irene is still awesome, but too impulsive. I liked the Train. If you’re looking for a fun series that sort of bridges the YA/adult gap, this one would be a good place to start. Right now this series is four books long, but it sounds like the author has even more planned, so this is a good one to check out if you want something you can really enjoy.

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A Fairy Tale by Shanna Swendson book 1

This one was not as good as the previous book. You might know this author from her Rebel Mechanics or Enchanted, Inc series. This one was at the library so I thought I would give it a try. Emily gets kidnapped by the fae – there’s a lot of that going around – and big sister Sophie wants to get her back. Lots of faery politics, some romantic tension, and a bulldog. Not a lot to this book, and Sophie really takes her time, but I liked the picture of the fae world and I liked Emily. I didn’t like that it took Sophie so long to figure things out. Probably won’t read more in this series.

So that’s it for today. Also, I’m thinking of starting a BookTube channel. Let me know in the comments if you would watch and what you’d like to see from me if I do. Happy reading!

Encore Review – cool nerdy science book!

 

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This review appeared earlier.

Themes: science vs. religion, triumph of the underdog, the self educated working scientist vs. the elite theorist

I’ve been a fan of Winchester’s since I read The Professor and the Madman several years ago. Sure, he can go on a bit, like in Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded, where he spent lots and lots of time on Continental Drift and not enough time on exploding volcanoes. But when he’s on, he’s really on. So I was happy to get a copy of this book at the used bookstore.

I’d have to rank it up there with my favorites. Winchester’s geology background really shows in this book, but that’s not a bad thing. First of all, who but a geologist, or a scientist anyway, would choose to write a biography of someone like William Smith, who never did anything sexy or cool, but simply wandered all over the British isles, improving drainage, of all things, digging canals and mines, and making a map?

But what a map. A map that really did, in its own way, change the world. He’s called The Father of English Geology, which doesn’t sound like an especially cool epithet to me, but to each his own. But his map made possible the huge advances in the dating of the earth of understanding Continental Drift, as mentioned above, and finally allowed us to understand what fossils actually were, not Figured Stones, but relics of previous living things. That was huge.

I loved the cover. It’s a copy of his map that unfolds. I loved that there is another copy of the finished map inside, in full color, and a modern map with it for comparison. I wish they had added a color portrait of the subject as well. Color I guess doesn’t really matter, but the full page size would have been nice. There’s a glossy of geologic terms at the back, but the few words I looked for weren’t there. Oh, and I *really, really loved* that this was a story of a brilliant man of humble origins who made a huge discovery, was ridiculed and victimized because of it, and then was vindicated. How cool is that?

If you are interested in reading about science, I would recommend this one. If you like stories that feature real life triumphs of the underdog, I would definitely recommend this. It’s not your usual take on the subject, but it’s all true, and it makes a great story. 4.25 stars

Muirwood – a Review

The Wretched of Muirwood by Jeff Wheeler*

I have read Wheelers other series and enjoyed it, but I didn’t know much about these. When I saw the set at the thrift store I decided to snag all three. Later I read the rather tepid reviews. Readers described them as a rather predictable story of a Pig-Girl who saved the Kingdom, but I was kind of in the mood for safe and predictable, so I have it a try.

Lia is a Wretched, which is sort of like a foundling, except it’s an actual class in her world. One day a stranger arrives with an injured boy and asks her to hide him. She does. Turns out that he’s a knight in training and the evil Sheriff of Nottingham or so edging is looking for him. Meanwhile, Lia can do magic and stuff so she goes on this quest with him and fulfills her destiny and all that.

It was pretty unexceptional, but okay enough. Now I have two more books that I suppose I’ll read to see if it gets any better. We have yet to meet the Dude Who Wants to be King, but I guess he’s cooler than the actual 👑, so maybe that will be fun. IDK. I’m hiding from some real life worries in these books and I’m not up to any Serious Topics right now.

Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend them unless you were under 14. For everyone else, you’ve read this story before and seen it done better

Monday – What Are You Reading?

Hey all! How was your weekend? Mine was pretty good – time with the kids, made it to church, and my son tried out a new recipe for chocolate cake. It wasn’t perfect, but it was still pretty yummy. Oh, and I finished a bunch of books.

Right now I am just reading one book, The Room by Swedish writer and actor Jonas Karlsson.

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You might be able to guess from the briefcase that this is set in an office. However, even if you haven’t worked in an office, I’m sure you’re familiar enough with the basic environment that you could enjoy the book. I’m finding it really funny. Bjorn is the narrator and he is troubled that none of his coworkers are as good at their jobs as he is. In fact, they are pretty dismal, while he is doing most of the work. Then he finds a secret room at work where he can relax for a few minutes and get away from their annoying habits.

The writer is an actor who has won some awards in Sweden. I think his drama background shows because I could easily imagine this as a play. It works great as a book though. It’s really short, although it has 65 chapters, most are only a couple of pages long. I can’t wait to see how it ends.

What are you reading right now? Are you enjoying it? Let me know in the comments.

Review: Heap House

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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!

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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.

A Short Heist

I received a copy of this for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Review: The B-Team: The Case of the Angry First Wife by Melodie Campbell

Synopsis:

Del’s great-aunt, Kitty, has retired from a life of crime and embarked on a new venture, the B-Team. Although Del works at an animal shelter by day, by night she, her great-aunt and their cohorts, Dino and Ritz, use their criminal skills to right wrongs. In this fun book, the modern-day Robin Hoods set out to return a necklace to its rightful owner but along the way discover they’ve been duped by an imposter who also wants to get her hands on the necklace. The problem is, criminals can’t go to the police, even if they are on the side of the good. Del comes up with a new plan, and the B-Team saves the day. Not without a few detours along the way. 

Review:

Del and her brother Dino have grown up in and around the family business. What that business is exactly is never spelled out, but it’s not strictly legal, judging by their skill set. Lately their aunt Kitty has decided to use their talents to help in the cause of justice, which is not to say it’s legal, and agrees to take on a case recovering a ex-wife’s diamond necklace. Things do not go as planned.

Del is an appealing character and I liked Aunt Kitty. The rest are sort of just outlines, but this book is extremely brief, little more than a short story. I would have enjoyed it more if three or four of these exploits were gathered together. As it is, it was a quick fun read that made me smile, but nothing deeper than that. Thanks for the chance to read this one.

Must Read!

I just finished the BEST audio book – It’s called Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz.

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Gregg Hurwitz writes these great thriller than always have me on the edge of my seat. They’re one of my secret pleasure from the library, secret because I get one and hide up in my room and read it like crazy until I get to end. Just don’t even talk to me until I’m done, because they’re that good.

Usually his books are stand alone, which I like because I can read them in any order, based on when the library has them, and I don’t have to remember the character names or whatever. I just know the suspense all has to wrap up in one book, which makes it more intense. But then I heard he had a series, and I had to check it out.

Synopsis:

Who is Orphan X?

The Nowhere Man is a legendary figure spoken about only in whispers. It’s said that when he’s reached by the truly desperate and deserving, the Nowhere Man can and will do anything to protect and save them. But he’s not merely a legend.

“Excellent…A smart, stylish, state-of-the-art thriller…might give Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books a run for their money.”—The Washington Post

Evan Smoak is a man with skills, resources, and a personal mission to help those with nowhere else to turn. He’s also a man with a dangerous past. Chosen as a child, he was raised and trained as an Orphan, an off-the-books black box program designed to create the perfect deniable intelligence asset: An assassin. Evan was Orphan X—until he broke with the program and used everything he learned to disappear. But now someone is on his tail. Someone with similar skills and training who will exploit Evan’s secret new identity as the Nowhere Man to eliminate him.

 

My review:

What a great ride! It reminded me a little of Alias, a little of the movie Salt. Evan is the Nowhere Man, and if you’re in real trouble, desperate trouble, he’s the best friend you could have. I love Evan as a character, and I love the way Hurwitz takes the time to develop who he is at the beginning of the book, and then show us how he got there and how he changes. I know you don’t read thriller for character development, but I think that’s what shows a great writer.

I got this one on audio, like I said, and I think that’s totally the way to go. I’m already planning to download the next one. I don’t want to give away too much, but the description of the second book already has me wondering how Evan is going to get out of this mess. If you like edge of your seat books, pick this one soon.