A few reviews

I’m playing catch up with my reviews so I’m going to do a few today.

Let’s start with the one I didn’t like so I can finish strong. The Shadow Rises by K S Marden, Witch Hunters book 1. Witch hunters and witches and inherited powers. A little confused with poorly developed characters. DNF. Not much to say but at least it was free.

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Adrenaline by Jeff Abbott, Sam Capra book 1

Sam works for the CIA. His wife is expecting their first baby. She also works for the Company. One day Sam goes to work and receives a call to from her to come outside right this second. As soon as he does a bomb goes off in the building and she disappears.

Sam is now the only survivor and the chief suspect. He only wants to escape custody and find his wife and baby. To do that he has to make some new allies and go on the run.

I love a good thriller and this one sounded really exciting. It has a great premise, as who doesn’t identify with wanting to find your family and keep them safe? The bad guys were pretty bad,the pace was goos. But the writing kept me from giving it more than 3.5 stars. Also I don’t enjoy political thrillers as much, so it wasn’t quite what I expected.


 

Goldmayne by Kate Stradling

Duncan escapes an abusive father to wind up servant to a witch. There he meets a talking 🐎 who helps him escape. They set off for a neighboring country and find work at the castle.

This was a fairy tale retelling of two French stories, Scurvyhead and Goldmayne. I was unfamiliar with either story, so I couldn’t tell at first how it was going to end. It has a happy ending, of course, and the hero gets the girl. Fun stuffstuff. This one is on Kindle Unlimited or it’s only $1.

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Finally my favorite of the bunch, Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

“Far from city politics in the Calderon Valley, the boy Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting. At fifteen, he has no wind fury to help him fly, no fire fury to light his lamps. Yet as the Alerans’ most savage enemy – the Marat – return to the Valley, he will discover that his destiny is much greater than he could ever imagine.” Caught in a storm of deadly wind furies, Tavi saves the life of a runaway slave named Amara. But she is actually a spy for Gaius Sextus, sent to the Valley to gather intelligence on traitors to the Crown, who may be in league with the barbaric Marat horde. And when the Valley erupts in chaos – when rebels war with loyalists and furies clash with furies – Amara will find Tavi’s courage and resourcefulness to be a power greater than any fury – one that could turn the tides of war.

I actually liked this better than the Dresden Files. I liked Tavi and Amara better than I like Harry Dresden. It still has some problems, mainly a hyper sexualized female villain (her character does get explained though), but I thought it was a lot of fun. Looking forward to the next book.I

 

Hope this have you done ideas for your next read. See you later!

 

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Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness – a review

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Title: Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness 🐓

Author: David Casarett

Meet Ladarat Patalung – the first and only nurse detective in Thailand. 
Two nights ago, a young woman brought her husband into the emergency room of the Sriphat Hospital in Thailand, where he passed away. A guard thinks she remembers her coming in before, but with a different husband – one who also died.

Ladarat Patalung, for one, would have been happier without a serial murderer-if there is one — loose in her hospital. Then again, she never expected to be a detective in the first place.

And now, Ladarat has no choice but to investigate…

The first novel in a captivating new series by David Casarett, M.D.

Ladarat at works at a large hospital in the tourist town of Chiang Mai, Thailand. She is  a nurse ethicist, which means she helps with tough decisions that doctors and patients make every day. She enjoys her job, but when a friend who is a police officer asks for her help investigating a sudden death at the hospital.

A woman arrived at the emergency room with her dead husband and her marriage certificate, asking if she could get a death certificate. Very odd, she thinks. Even more mysterious when she discovers that the same woman had visited the hospital a few years earlier, with a different dead husband, one with the very same name. The police think it was murder, and that in fact, the woman might be a serial killer. Ladarat isn’t sure she’s cut out to be a detective, but surely finding a killer is an ethical thing to do? Meanwhile, she’s also helping the family of a dying tourist and preparing for a coming inspection by the health department.

I really enjoyed this book. The setting was so refreshing. I found myself drawn deeply into the world of the busy tourist destination. Then the hospital was a great place for the story too – so much human drama. The writer is always comparing the  Thai and American culture.

My one concern – I would have enjoyed this book more of it were an Own Voices book. This was written by an American doctor, so it’s no wonder that he got the hospital part right. But I really wondered how accurate the whole Thai setting was.  In the end though I liked it enough that I would probably read another book by the same author.

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Pirates AND Dragons!

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Are you looking for a great escape read? After watching Marvel’s The Avengers: Infinity War – no spoilers, I promise! – I *really* needed something light and happy. What could be better than a fantasy story with a love triangle, pirates, and a little dragon? How about a kick-ass heroine who gets in there and mixes it up? And how about doing it all for less than a dollar?

The book is Moss Forest Orchid, book 1 in the Silver & Orchids series by one of my favorite fairy tale writers, Shari L. Tapscott. I’ve talked about Shari’s books before on here, so you know that I love them, but these books are not based on a fairy tale. They are entirely new.

Lucia is from a family of chicken farmers, looking for a way into a better life. She teams up with best friend (and grandson of the local lord) Sebastian and sets up as adventurers. Unfortunately, she invests all their earnings with a man who turns out to be a con artist, and the two have nothing to show for all their hard work. Then they hear about a new job – bringing back a cutting of a rare flower, an orchid that only grows in a distant and dangerous swamp. The pay would be enough for Lucia to pay back Sebastian and make a new start.

There’s only a few problems with this plan. First, Lucia and Sebastian can hardly talk to each other without fighting, so teaming up is going to be rough. And second, there’s this distracting (and sexy) pirate captain who keeping turning up. Finally, Lucia has hm, acquired a dragon egg, which is going to be trouble. The whole thing is a bit of a mess. But hey, pirates are good!

I loved this one so much that the love triangle didn’t even phase me. Normally I avoid those books, but this one was just done right. I was really deceived by the first book, but as soon as I finished, I downloaded book 2, Greybrow Serpent, and completely switched my ship! The first book is available on Amazon right now for only $1 so you have no reason not to check it out. Love, love this series!

 

 

A Lack of Temperance – a review

A Lack of Temperance by Anna Loan-Wilsey

Hattie Davish arrives at her new job as a secretary to an older woman. But whe she get there, she finds that her employer is missing and she’s right in the middle of a storm over temperance. Her employer is the president of a large protest organization and they’re hosting a rally that week. But her new boss turns up dead and the police haven’t got much to go on. Hattie better figure out what’s going on before she become a victim herself.

I liked this series debut. The setting, Arkansas in the late 19th century, was well done. I liked the resort town. It’s certainly one that’s not overdone, so I hope that the writer keeps the books in the same area. But I wasn’t as crazy about the main character as I was about the setting. I felt that she was a little inconsistent and times and not especially likeable. Still, she might grow on me.

Overall, recommended. I received this book for review from LT Early Reviewers program.

These Honored Dead – a review

These Honored Dead by Jonathan Putnam, book 1 in the Lincoln and Speed series

Set in Illinois during the time Lincoln worked as a private lawyer before his marriage.

Joshua Speed, the enterprising second son of a wealthy plantation owner, has struck off on his own. But before long, he makes a surprising and crucial new acquaintance–a freshly minted lawyer by the name of Abraham Lincoln.

When an orphaned girl from a neighboring town is found murdered and suspicion falls on her aunt, Speed makes it his mission to clear her good name. Of course, he’ll need the legal expertise of his unusual new friend. Together, Lincoln and Speed fight to bring justice to their small town. But as more bodies are discovered and the investigation starts to come apart at the seams, there’s one question on everyone’s lips: does Lincoln have what it takes to crack his first murder case?

Inspired by actual events from the American frontier, Jonathan Putnam’s thrilling debut These Honored Dead brings renewed verve and vigor to the historical mystery genre that readers haven’t seen since Caleb Carr’s The Alienist.

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So much of this was freaking amazing. I have so much to say I don’t really know where to start.

I guess I’ll start with the audio. I listened to this one and I have to give the reader a solid 5 stars. There were so many different voices in this one. The freed Black man, the Kentucky gentleman, Abraham Lincoln with his well-known high pitched voice, the poor house keeper, the Illinois sheriff – such a range but all of them sounding distinct and authentic.

Several of the other reviewers complained that there was either not enough Lincoln or any at all, objecting to his presence in a historical fiction. I liked it. They should have read the book description.

For the rest, I really enjoyed this book. I thought the premise was great. The story itself was good. But it was the setting that made it exceptional. So many issues packed in here. I loved the accent for the Kentucky gentleman, that’s just a very pleasing sound. But then I’d hear what he was actually saying. He just couldn’t understand what the problem was with The Peculiar Institution i.e. slavery. He was reluctant to use the real word and called his slave a Bondswoman. Just the way he spoke for her, treated her like – well, like property. That wasn’t even the main subject of the book, but it still dominated things, what with the looming threat of the coming war.

I would recommend this one. I already added the second book to my TBR list.

The Time Hunters – A Review

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The Time Hunters, book 1 

by Carl Ashmore

Becky is a typical thirteen year old girl. She likes Facebook, gossiping and plenty of sleep. So when she and her brother, Joe, are invited to stay with their ‘loony’ Uncle Percy at his stately home, she thinks it’ll be the worst summer ever. What she doesn’t realise is that Bowen Hall is also home to a baby Triceratops, two Sabre-tooth tigers and the mythic hero, Will Scarlet… 

‘The Time Hunters’ is a thrilling adventure that takes Becky, Joe, Uncle Percy and Will on a quest through time to find the legendary Golden Fleece. 

The Clock is ticking…. 

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Becky and Joe are sent off to spend the summer with their Uncle Percy, whom they’ve never met. Neither is very excited about it, but it turns out to be the most exciting thing that could have happened to them – and something that could change their lives forever.

This is actually a tricky book for me to review. It’s not because I didn’t enjoy it. I did. Rather, it’s because I’m not the target audience. This is clearly written for younger readers. I wish I could have given it to a young teen and asked them what they thought. For me, I thought it was pretty over the top, a little too much going on in here and not enough character development. But it wasn’t written for me.

The book has plenty that would have appealed to my kids when they were younger – the idea of time travel, the fun look at classic myths and the twists the writer includes, and hey, dinosaurs. What kids wouldn’t enjoy that? I liked that the writer looked at time travel from a kid’s eye. Most adult time travel books have them going back to see famous historical events like Washington crossing the Delaware or the Battle of Hastings. But kids would absolutely be more interested in dinosaurs, in events they have personal knowledge of, or things that affected their family. I felt that was very real.

That said, I hope that as the series progresses we see some character development. Becky and Joe are pretty typical siblings – they don’t get along great most of the time. Joe is very much treated like he’s too young to understand what’s going on while Becky gets the full explanation. I’m not sure that’s completely fair. There’s only two years separating the kids. I’d like to see their relationship develop and the kids mature. With the big reveal near the end of the book, there’s certainly room for some growth.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and I would recommend it for parents with kids about 9 – 13. As it is, I don’t think I’ll be reading more, but it was a fun read.

 

Bosch: A Review

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Have you watched this Amazon show? I only saw the first episode, but since I mentioned it in a blog post recently, I thought I would rerun my review of the first book in the series by Michael Connolly.

The Black Echo by Michael Connolly

This may be the only time I can remember that I am giving a book 5 stars, but I’m not planning to read anymore in the series.

It’s not the main character. I really liked Harry Bosch. Maybe he’s a bit cliched, but I found him a likable sort of loner with a messed up past. A crummy childhood, combined with some serious PTSD from the Vietnam war, has left him unable to trust anyone. It’s a good thing, really, because with just a couple of exceptions, everyone in this book is exclusively working for himself.

When the body of a fellow Tunnel Rat, a guy from Harry’s old army unit, is found apparently dead of an overdose, Harry feels like he owes his old buddy more than the cursory glance the rest of the police force wants to give the case. Add to that some guilt Harry feels about letting his old buddy down, and he’s just not about to let things drop. So when his investigation leads to a connection with a major bank heist that the FBI is still investigating, he starts asking questions. A lot of questions. And now he’s being followed by two guys from Internal Affairs who can’t wait to shut him down.

This all sounds pretty good, so what am I complaining about? It’s just the general feel of the book. It’s unrelentingly pessimistic – life stinks, you can’t trust anyone (and Harry can’t), everyone is hiding something, and there’s no such thing as a happy ending for anyone. It’s Harry against The World. And I’m just not going to read more of that. My own life is complicated enough; I don’t want to read somethings this dark when it’s supposed to be reading for fun. So I guess I’m saying that it’s a good book; it’s just not the right book for me.

Top 10 Tuesday!

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Characters I liked That Were In Non-Favorite/Disliked Books

This is my first time joining in the fun here, but I needed a good topic today and I figured there was no time like the present to start with this one.

This was a hard one. Normally if I don’t like the characters, I don’t like the book. So the reverse is kind of true also. If I like the characters, I generally like the book.

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One – Detective Harry Bosch – The Black Echo by Michael Connolly. Connolly did a great job creating a MC that was complex, dark, with a compelling back story. The book however, was too dark for me to really enjoy. If you like the dark detective types, then I would recommend it.

Two and Three- Tommy and Tuppence – Postern of Fate by Agatha Christie. This was a case for me of where a good author writes a really bad book. Tommy and Tuppence, a team of married detectives, are now much older and have slowed down. But I don’t think that was the reason I didn’t like the book. There was just no plot. So disappointing, because I loved the previous books.

Four – Mr. March – March by Geraldine Brooks. In this retelling of the classic story Little Women, Reverend March is away with the Union troops during Civil War. It’s a great premise for a story. Unfortunately, I really didn’t like the book. The author throws in a love triangle for no apparent reason, besides changing the familiar characters into people I didn’t like.

Five – Ozma The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige. Oh, this series. It had so much potential. But the writer was problematic, the second book let me down so hard, and the whole thing became such a mess. Such a shame. It could have been great.

Six – Sherlock Holmes – A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is where it all began, but it really wasn’t such a great book. It’s got some major plot holes, some serious pacing issues, but the characters became icons.

Seven and Eight – Mrs. Jeffries and Inspector Gerald Witherspoon in Mrs. Jeffries Stalks the Hunter by Emily Brightwell. This is sort of an obscure series, but I remember being so disappointed by the end of the series. She took characters I’d come to love and just stuck them in this lame book.

Nine – Don Quixote in the same book by Miguel de Cervantes. It was actually BECAUSE I liked the character so much that I lost patience with this book. Every single other character treats him like crap, but it’s OK, because he’s crazy. Listen, I have so many issues with this book, I could go on for hours. But I’ll stop there.

Ten – Mary Russell in Mary Russell’s War by Laurie R. King. Another case of a bad book by a good author. It’s a collection of short stories that all should have been left in the bin. Stick to the novels in this case.

 

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.

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!