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.


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.

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!

Flashback Friday

Here’s a review I published earlier that I hope you will enjoy.

Themes: weather, adversity, family, faith, science
Setting: January 1888, Dakota territory, Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska

January on the prairie is never exactly balmy. The weather had been very cold all month. Then it warmed up for a while – not a lot, but enough that people seized the chance to get outside and tend to a few neglected chores, repairing the roof, feeding the livestock, bringing in more fuel for the fire, and sending the kids to school. All of which put them into danger.

Weathermen today love to talk about the “warm before the storm,” and this was a classic example. The storm hit with incredible power, bringing punishing winds and very fine, stinging snow that covered everything outside in minutes. Those folks caught away from home were in big trouble. And many of them were the school children.

Laskin seems to have done his research on this one. The stories of the children were amazing and often heartbreaking. That part was very good. But what I didn’t enjoy as much was the story of the Signal Corps and the effort to place blame for the number of deaths caused by the storm. It was a blizzard. The blizzard was to blame.

Seriously, it’s hard to see how things could have ended any differently. It was 1888. There were no satellite weather imaging thingies. There wasn’t even reliable radio. The weather stations themselves weren’t even equipped with telegraph lines linking them up to each other. And if there were, how were they supposed to broadcast their weather forecasts? Forecasting then was even more a matter of absolute luck and guesswork. But there was no way to make them public anyway. They had some sort of flags and alerts they issued, I wasn’t quite clear on that, but no one in the little prairie towns could have known about them. It wasn’t like they put the forecasts in the newspaper or on the radio.

I felt that this technical part took too much focus away from the part that I really found good, which was about the storm itself and how people managed to survive or didn’t. This other bit about the science of it all was just a distraction. I wound up skipping most of that. Still, it was a good book and I would recommend it. It’s just that compared to The Worst Hard Time, I knew that it could have been much better. 3.25 stars

Review: Ollie, Ollie, in come free

Ollie Ollie in Come Free: A Memoir of Swallowed Time

In the 1950’s and 60’s families are expected to deal with death privately and silently. This is no different for the Bernards, a large Catholic family that tries to rebuild after the loss of their three oldest children. Yet the deaths haunt the author’s emotional development into adulthood with a subtle force she can only uncover in psychoanalysis while mothering her own young children.

Ollie Ollie In Come Free is an immersion in the secrets of a young girl’s inner life and unexpressed grief. Brimming with memories of Midwestern childhood during an era of social upheaval, it offers moving insights into Anne Bernard Becker’s personal healing journey as well as universal themes of loss and growth.

My Review 
I was given this book for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinion remains my own.

This is a very personal, and at times difficult, book to read. Anyone who has experienced loss knows how deep the pain can go, how unexpectedly it will resurface. The author lost three of her siblings in childhood only to lose more of her own children as a mother.
The rather fluid approach to storytelling seemed to work well, showing how her grief kept her anchored in the past even while raising her own children. Thanks for the chance to read it.

Review – Sign Off

Sign Off by Patricia McLinn, Caught Dead in Wyoming, book 1*

Reporter Elizabeth “E.M.” Daniher is way out of her comfort zone, pushed out of her high profile job and into the consumer affairs spot in a tiny affiliate in Wyoming. But even here, she sniffs out a story in the disappearance of a local deputy with an eye for the women and more than a few enemies.

I enjoyed this book. It’s a fun fish out of water story and I liked the MC. It could have been better, but I am willing to see where this series goes.

Review – Not from the Stars

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. My open remains my own.

Title: Not From the Stars (His Majesty’s Theatre, book 1)

Author: Christina Britton Conroy

Synopsis: Filled with the history of the British theatre and allusions to Shakespeare, Not From the Stars is the first in the His Majesty’s Theatre series about the lives of the actors and academics who lived in the repressive days of Edwardian England, but refused to be stifled.

Even though I’m not an actor myself and haven’t been On stage since high school, for some reason I have a soft spot for books about the theater. Add an historical setting, and I’m there! So this book set in the world of English theatre 1885 sounded really interesting.

Established actor Jerry O’Connell is attracting attention – and not the good kind. Rumors fly that he and his make co-star are a little too close, and the police are taking notice. He tries to be discreet, but when he meets a desperate young ingenue he realizes that they can help each other. She needs a place to live, he needs a cover. Together they set up house and both are their careers take off.

Meanwhile young Elisa Roundtree is torn between an uncaring father and a cruel fiance. She finds a brief happiness at school, but things soon grow more complicated.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I was more interested in the actors and their lives than in Elisa. I didn’t agree with some of the choices she made. But it was really an eye opener to read about the laws regarding homosexuality. For some reason I didn’t realize that this was the first in a series and I expected things to be more resolved at the end of this book. It’s not a cliffhanger exactly, but just the first installment of a longer story.

If you like historical fiction, I would a definitely recommend this one. It’s available on Kindle Unlimited right now so you should check it out.