Mini Reviews!

I’ve been reading a lot lately but I haven’t been able to keep up the reviews on here. I thought I would do some short reviews and bundle a bunch of them together so you can see what I’ve been up to.

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Murder among friends

The Accident by Linwood Barclay centers around a man whose wife dies in a drunk driving accident. He can’t believe that she would have gotten behind the wheel in that state, but her death starts him asking questions that trigger a rash of violence all around him. I really like this writer – what a page turner!

Short stories

I found The Man Who Would Be King at the thrift store for a dollar. I love Rudyard Kipling, so this little collection of 5 of his best stories was just what I needed. If you can find such a collection (and I think some of them are free on Kindle) this is a great place to start. I loved Kim and Jungle Stories too.

Nonfiction Audio

After finishing my book for book club, I was looking for another good book to listen to from my library. I decided on Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell. It’s the first book I’ve read by her and I enjoyed it. This one is about the history of Hawaii, a state with such a rich and interesting heritage that I feel she barely scratched the surface. She has a rather annoying voice though, so I think I’d read it instead of listen.

Other News

We did have to say goodbye to Tina and it was just as heartbreaking as we thought it would be. She was feisty right up to the last, but went right off to sleep in the end. It sort of broke my heart today to come home to all the signs she left around the house, to be cooking dinner and not have her under foot demanding her fair share. We still have Rosie, but to go from 3 cats to one in just eight months is such a shock. We had Tina for 15 years and Spooky for 12. It’s not easy to say goodbye.

 

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Nanowrimo check – in

How’s your book going? Are you still excited? Or has the push to write every day slowed you down too much?

Writing should not be a chore, IMO, but it also shouldn’t wait until you’re “in the mood” to write. Sometimes good stuff comes from pushing yourself to write when you don’t feel like writing.

Here’s my book stats so far.

Title: The Second Killer

Setting: Grand Junction, Colorado

Protagonist: Lutie Mitchell, lab technician

Other characters: Eli, Lutie’s brother, also biracial, Special Forces; Josh, Lutie’s boyfriend, Maddy, nurse, Lutie’s best friend, Agent Daniel Stapleton and Agent Jen Moreda, both FBI.

My biggest challenge so far has been continuity – keeping the story in a logical timeline and making sure things are happening in the right order

My biggest triumph has been writing through some emotional stuff and still getting in the words, even when I had a migraine.

How are you doing? Any tips you want to share? Anything you’re struggling with? Let me know!

Paving the New Road: A Review

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions, however, remain my own.

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Title: Paving the New Road (Rowland Sinclair mysteries #4)

Author: Sulari Gentill

Setting: Australia then Germany 1933

Summary:

It’s 1933, and the political landscape of Europe is darkening.

Eric Campbell, the man who would be Australia’s Führer, is on a fascist tour of the Continent, meeting dictators over cocktails and seeking allegiances in a common cause. Yet the Australian way of life is not undefended. Old enemies have united to undermine Campbell’s ambitions. The clandestine armies of the Establishment have once again mobilised to thwart any friendship with the Third Reich.

But when their man in Munich is killed, desperate measures are necessary.

Now Rowland Sinclair must travel to Germany to defend Australian democracy from the relentless march of Fascism. Amidst the goosestepping euphoria of a rising Nazi movement, Rowland encounters those who will change the course of history. In a world of spies, murderers and despotic madmen, he can trust no-one but an artist, a poet and a brazen sculptress.

Plots thicken, loyalties are tested and bedfellows become strange indeed.

My review:

I must admit to knowing little or nothing about Australian politics, but I know a good thriller when I read one. Rowland Sinclair and his group of friends have been sent into the very heart of Nazi Germany to put a stop to an Australian politician’s nascent friendship with Adolf Hitler. While there, Rowland want to discover who murdered the last guy sent on the same errand. Along the way he meets lots of historical figures caught up in the same pre-war frenzy. Famous names aside, the real thrill was in seeing whether they would all escape Germany alive. A real page-turner.

This was the first book I read by this author and I’m sure I would have enjoyed it more if I had been more familiar with the characters and their backstory. However I was able to jump in and sort things out, so I’m glad I got chosen for it. I can say it won’t be the last I read by this author! Recommended.

Thursday Throwback – loved it!

25810271Woman with a Blue Pencil

Reading Decathlon, book 2

Title: Woman with a Blue Pencil

Author: Gordon McAlpine

Genre: literary mystery

Themes: racism, war, patriotism, stereotypes, love

Setting: Los Angeles/California 1941

Source: Found it on Goodreads/Library

Story: Is it about Sam Sumida, Japanese American looking for the murderer of his wife? Is it about Jimmy Park, Korean American, hunting for an evil Japanese mastermind intent on destroying America? Is it about William Thorne, recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor and father of four, writing spy thrillers under an assumed name? Is it about Takumi Sato, young Nisei confined to a camp in California with an ailing father? Or is it about the woman with the blue pencil, who manipulates them all for her own gain?

The answer is yes, it’s about all of these and more. It’s about the power of narrative to sustain us through the most difficult times in our lives. It’s about the drive to honor our truth, no matter what the cost.

I can’t recommend this strongly enough. It’s a puzzle and a book and a triumph. I wish I had written it. 5 stars.

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.

Book Review: Two for the Show

Reading Decathlon, book 8

Two for the Show

by Jonathan Stone

Plot: Chas works as an investigator, but his only client is an unusual one – Vegas magician Wallace the Amazing. Chas is the reason Wallace can mystify his audience by knowing everything about them. It’s a hidden partnership, but it’s worked for 20 years. Then one day something goes wrong with the show. As Chas tries to find out what happened, he gets pulled into hidden identities, kidnapping, and violence. Just when you think you know what’s happening, the plot shifts and you’re left with nothing but questions.

Pros: I love the basic idea of the Vegas mentalist and his hidden staff. I liked the sudden shifts in the plot, the way Stone keeps you guessing.

Cons: So many! First, the characters. Their motivation was unconvincing. I never understood why people were after Wallace. And why was Chas so sneaky and crafty is some things, and so trusting in others? But the biggest problem was Wallace. Everything in the story revolved around him. I like that he remains a mystery, even at the end of the book, but I didn’t think anything about the guy made sense.

Another drawback was the pacing. Stone would stick these long pages of interior monologue and explanation in there where they didn’t belong and only slowed the action down. I get it already. Move the story forward.

I picked this one up because I loved Stone’s previous book, Moving Day. But this one is such a disappointment. I think with some editing, it could be worth reading. But as it stands – don’t bother. 2.2 stars