Space Mystery!

This book was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review.
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Title: Matters Arising from the Identification of the Body: A Guerline Scarfe Investigation

Author: Simon Petrie

I’m a big nerd when it comes to space. I don’t know a lot, but I love stories set in space, science fiction stories, and stuff like that. I also love mysteries. When I got asked to review a book that had both, I couldn’t resist.

Guerline Scarfe – what a name – is the equivalent of a police officer sometime in the future. She’s been asked to investigate a suicide. It looks like a pretty straightforward case, but she is a thorough officer and figures that any death deserves an explanation.

Tanja Morgenstein was working on Jupiter’s moon Titan when she pulled off her helmet. Despite the doctors best efforts, she died. Now it’s up to Guerline to figure out why she did it.

I really enjoyed this book. I liked the mystery aspect, I liked the characters, and I really enjoyed the setting. It’s a world enough like our own that I could identify with what was going on, but enough different that it was completely fresh. I recommend this one and I’m looking forward to the next book in this series. Apparently Petrie has other books out but none in this series yet, but who knows? 4/5 stars and thanks for the chance to read it.

Pretty Good Urban Fantasy

Title: A Dragon of a Different Color (Heartstrikers #4)

Author: Rachel Aaron

Setting: alternate Detroit

SPOILERS FOR THE REST OF THE SERIES

I’m assuming that when you read #4 up there, you know I’m going to comment on the rest of the series up until now, right? Just checking.

Do you like dragons? Do you like the idea of dragons living among humans in today’s world? Then you should check out these books by Rachel Aaron. The series starts with Nice Dragons Finish Last.  Main character Julius is, as you might guess, a nice dragon, which makes him a liability in his clan. His mother decides to get rid of him. Lucky for Julius, he meets an aspiring mage named Marci. Unluckily, she’s in trouble with the mob about then. It’s a fun series. I really liked the first book, but I feel like the author is losing her steam a little bit here.

This one starts immediately after #3, No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished. In that one LAST SPOILER ALERT! I’M SERIOUS! Marci has died, Julius took control of the Heartstrikers clan away from his ruthless mother, and most of the clan has dispersed to their own lairs.

That’s when the Chinese dragons show up. They want to take over the clan. Julius is not happy – he didn’t work as hard as he did to set up a dragon council just to give control to some outsider – but unless he comes up with a plan fast that’s exactly what he’ll have to do. Fortunately, Julius can always come up with a plan.

My biggest complaint in this one was that there was so much talking! So much discussion, over and over and over, about how we’re all in terrible danger unless we do something fast. So let’s talk about it for another 2-3 pages before we do anything, right? How about no. How about you cut to the chase and do something! I still really like Julius as a character, but we hardly got to see him be awesome at all. And why have a book about dragons if they’re not going to be awesome all over the place?

If these do sound like fun, they are available from Amazon through Kindle Unlimited for free. You should definitely start with book 1 though. It really was fun.

You Call This a Joke?!

35653858Title: The Luckless (The Second Age of Retha, Volume 1)

Author: AM Sohma

When Kit starts her new submersion video game at the VR arcade, she’s surprised to find herself not in the science fiction world she expected, but back in the fantasy themed world of Retha. It seems her cousin, who works for the company, decided to play a little joke on her by sticking her in the wrong game with a joke character – a elf dancer with virtually no attack skills and precious little defense either. To make it even harder, he sort of branded her as an outlaw.

But the joke turned serious when the game system malfunctions and Kit, along with hundred of other players, are all trapped inside the game. The only way out is to win, and Kit’s chances are pretty much negligible unless she is able to team up with some stronger characters.

If you’ve read my blog for long, you know I have a weakness for this genre, lit-RPG fantasy. Ready Player One by Ernie Cline is one of my all-time favorite books. I also loved Omnioptia Dawn by Diane Duane and Awaken Online by Travis Bagwell. So this one was right up my alley. I loved the idea of Kit being stuck with this frivolous character when she’s fighting for her life. It made the stakes that much higher.

This book is written by KM Shea, under a new pseudonym for her sci-fi books. Like her fairy tale books, this is clean for sex and language – in fact, conventional swearing is not possible in the game, with a funny story there – but there’s not much romance in this one yet. There’s a few hints, but nothing at all so far, which is fine too. I give this one 4/5 stars.

Review: Stand Short and Proud

This review was written at the request of the author; however, the opinions expressed are my own.

Title: Stand Short and Proud (Chronicles of the Floating Continent, book 2)

Author: Billy Wong

Meg, together with a couple of friends, have set out as monster hunters. Their timing could not be worse. A truce on monsters has been declared and they’re left with no one to fight but bandits. Instead Meg and her partner Patrick enlist in the army. Meg’s sure their experience will make them valuable recruits, and it seems that she’s right. Despite her petite height, which she is VERY sensitive about, Meg gets right in the middle of a fight with what seems to be a reincarnation of an evil wizard. And if this guy comes back, the whole kingdom is in danger.

I really enjoyed this book. It reads like an adventure or a quest story, sort of a journey. Lots of training, marching, hanging about the camp, making new friends, that kind of thing. I was disappointed that there weren’t more women in the army. Their captain is a woman, but it would have been nice to have something approaching equal numbers. I also liked that this is not a romance. There’s no love interest in this at all. There’s friendship, camaraderie, and that’s it. Kind of a refreshing change.

I wish that the author had included a few paragraphs near the beginning to catch new readers (like me) up to speed with this series. I didn’t read the first one, and I was really lost at first. There was nothing in here about how Meg met her traveling companions, about the general, about this new truce with the monsters. Also a map would have been helpful, but then I always want a map!

Now for more serious criticism. While I liked the pacing of the story, I felt like the writing was a little choppy and the dialogue needed a little work. It didn’t flow as smoothly as it should have in places. Meg especially just couldn’t stop with the pithy remarks in the middle of a battle. Really? Maybe quit talking and just concentrate on fighting.

If you enjoy fantasy and action, I think you should give this one a try. I would definitely start with book 1, The Golden Dawn.

About the author:

Billy Wong is an avid fan of heroic fantasy, with a special love for strong female warriors. He draws inspiration from the epic legends of old, and is on a quest to bring over the top deeds and larger than life heroes back to prominence in today’s literary world.

Review: The King’s Traitor

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Title: The King’s Traitor, The Kingfountain series #3

Author: Jeff Wheeler

Themes: Ambition, loyalty, love, duty, trust. Again a strong theme of Richard III, King Arthur, and this time the Little Mermaid.

The lives of Owen Kiskaddon and the king Severn Argentine have been intertwined since he was first taken to the king’s court as a frightened little boy. Almost twenty years later, his mentor is dying, his boyhood love is married to another man, and the king he serves has become the monster he was long rumored to be.

Owen’s latest errand for the king is a highly personal errand – he’s sent to propose marriage to the young Duchess of Brythonica. The idea is to provoke an outraged rejection, use that as a pretext for war, and strengthen the kingdom. Owen has little enthusiasm for the task, but even he is not expecting to have his proposal accepted. Duchess Sinia is nothing like he expected. She’s Fountain Blessed, like Owen himself, and her magic permeates the land. Brythonica is full of fertile fields, happy peasants, and a mysterious wood.

This book was so full of action I can’t possibly cover it all, but Wheeler has a talent for taking an already tense situation and making it more suspenseful. There were a few times that I thought the characters were not cautious enough, that they were making obvious mistakes. But I could forgive that, since the characters were so well developed that I truly cared about them. They didn’t all survive, but I won’t spoil it by telling you more. If you haven’t tried this series, I would recommend it for anyone who loves fantasy or history. I’ve heard some people who were put off by the fact that the protagonist is only 8 years old in the first book, however I don’t think that lessened my enjoyment of the book at all. It starts with The Queen’s Poisoner, and there’s a related trilogy after. 4/5 stars

Review: As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust

Title: As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust. Flavia De Luce #7

Author: Alan Bradley

Spoilers for the previous books in the series, so if you’re planning on reading them but haven’t yet, don’t read this review! You’ve been warned.

At the end of the previous book, Flavia’s beloved mother Harriet has been located and brought home to Bishop’s Lacey at last for a burial. But while Flavia has inherited everything, she’s being packed off to Canada to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy to be trained up in all the things a gentlewoman (and a spy?) might need to know. Flavia is homesick, but full of pluck as per usual, so when a body falls out of her chimney, she takes it in her customary stride. Something is clearly a foot.

I enjoyed this one, but it wasn’t as much fun without the usual Buckshaw crowd. Still, it did Flavia good to let her stretch her wings a bit and see what she was made of. Looking forward to the next one.

Review: The Treasure at Poldarrow Point

Title: The Treasure at Poldarrow Point (Angela Marchmont, #3)

Author: Clara Benson

After solving two cases in close succession, Angela Marchmont is struck with a nasty case of pneumonia. Her doctor has ordered a rest cure at the sea side, so she’s headed to Cornwall. She’s barely unpacked when her impulsive goddaughter has shown up and discovered a local story of buried treasure.

Naturally, young Barbara has decided that would be the perfect project for their summer holiday. Angela is reluctant at first, but she gets caught up in the lives of the local residents. There’s a sweet old lady and her nephew, a quarrelsome married couple, an odd scientist, and an attractive Scotland Yard detective all involved in the events nearby.

The lighthearted treasure hunt takes a deadly turn when someone takes a shot at Angela and Barbara goes missing.

This one was my favorite in the series so far. The others were rather predictable, but not in a terrible way. This one I was actually caught off guard more than once. I thought I had it figured it out, but there were several surprises in there. I have already downloaded the next one in this series. If you like the British mysteries, this series is so much fun.

Review: The Murder at Sissingham Hall

question-mark-1750942_960_720Titles: The Murder at Sissingham Hall and The Mystery at Underwood House, Angela Marchmont books 1 & 2

Author: Clara Benson

Setting: England, 1920s

Looking for a mystery along the lines of Hercule Poirot, Lord Peter Wimsey or Albert Campion? These might just be right up your alley. They have the fun of the Lady Daisy Dalrymple series by Carola Dunn.

Our sleuth is Angela Marchmont, a charming divorcee who has a bit of a past with British espionage, although this is disappointingly vague. The first book involves the murder of a wealthy gentleman during a house party, just when his wife’s former beau has returned to England from making his fortune in Africa. The second book is about a mysterious family curse that’s wiping out the members of the Haynes family once per year and the family reunion has struck again. Angela is on the scene, with a little obliging help from Scotland Yard, but I found it much too obvious who the culprit was in each case.

These are the kind of comforting reads that I gravitate towards when I need something soothing and light, something where it all works out in the end and my brain doesn’t have to work too hard. It’s the literary equivalent of chicken soup and crackers, or a nice bowl of ice cream. Maybe that’s not fair, but sometimes that’s just what I want. These are available through Kindle Unlimited too, so they’re worth trying.

Review: Murder at Sedgwick Court

Title: Murder at Sedgwick Court, Rose Simpson book 3

Author: Margaret Addison

Genre: historical cozy mystery

Setting: Sedgwick Court, England, 1930

Rose Simpson and her beau, Cedric the Earl of Belvedere, are hoping for some quiet time enjoying each other’s company. (Suitably chaperoned, of course.) But Lady Lavinia, the earl’s sister, comes home from France bringing her own house party with her. A love triangle soon develops and before long, a young woman is murdered. Scotland Yard arrives to investigate, but of course, it’s Rose who solves the case.

These are fun, very light mysteries that are good to read when you want something fluffy. There’s not a lot of substance and certainly no realism, but that’s kind of the point. I enjoyed this one and I’ll probably forget about it within the week.

Review: Puss Without Boots

Title: Puss Without Boots, Fairy Tale Kingdoms #1

Author: Shari L. Tapscott

Genre: fairy tale romance

Themes: true love, magic, work, trust

Suzette, also called Etta, is the youngest child of the miller. Now that her aunt has passed, she left the mill to the oldest child, the donkey to the middle child, and Suzette – well, she gets the cat and some money – to buy boots for the cat. Suzette is less than thrilled. She uses the money to buy herself some boots.

But a few weeks later when Etta takes her first day off, she discovers that this is no ordinary cat. Puss can talk. He doesn’t mind about the boots, but he had definite plans for Etta. Plans that involve teaching her to hunt and stop spending time with the new chocolatier, Beau.

I really liked this book. After a string of books that I was only lukewarm about, this one won me over with it’s charming story and characters. Etta is such a refreshing change from so many stupid characters! And Beau, I mean come on, he has a chocolate shop! Plus their relationship developed slowly enough that I really cared about them as a couple.

This was a very quick read. I’m definitely recommending this one if you like clean fairy tale romance, and I’m pleased to see that she has several other books out. The next one is about Rapunzel.