Monday, July 31, 2017

Parrot Talk by David B Seaburn

This is a tale of a dysfunctional family that needs to come to terms with things that have happened in their life.  At the heart of tale are two grown men doing what they can with their lives.  They grew up depending on each other and they still are.  But things are going to change...

PR by the Book and the author sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published and you can buy a copy now.

When they get a phone call from a stranger telling them their mother has died, they both feel betrayed.  She wasn't so far away she couldn't have called, written or visited with them.  Why did she desert them so long ago?  They aren't even sure if they should tell their father.  He was the one who ran her off years ago.  But they were still married even if he had other women after her departure.  This sets the stage for a very strange story.

They remember bits and pieces of their time with her but not much.  They've spent a lot of time forgetting.  And now the wormhole has opened up in front of them again. If that's not strange enough, the woman said she wanted them to take Paul.  They have no idea who Paul is.  When they find out, it's worse.  It's a parrot and she'd had it for twenty years.  The parrot is mourning Millie.  The men are jealous that it spent more with their mother than they did.  The oldest one wants to get rid of it.  The youngest is going to keep it.

The bird has secrets: Bits of their mom's memories and thoughts and speaks almost in her voice.  Grinder listens and comes to his own conclusions about what happened so long ago.  Their father shows up and he's found Jesus now.  It's almost worse than when he was drunk all time.  But he does share some insight on the death of the marriage.  He doesn't remember it all but the boys do.

The parrot adds a bit of joy to the story but it's really a look at lost lives and how the boys who are men now need come to terms with what happened and move on.  Grinder has a reason to smile now and I liked that.

This is not a happy book but the human emotions in it are real and it was a good family study on what we do to ourselves.

Lady Mechanika: La Dama de la Muerte by Joe Benitez, M. M. Chen

Lady Mechanika is back and she's getting out of town.  Her lover is dead.  She's going to Mexico.  She just wants to get away and get herself back together.  However, she hits the town when the Day of Dead celebration is going on...

Diamond Book Distributors and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published September 26th.

The illustrations in the series are always breath-taking.  Add the vivid colors of Mexico and the makeup used for the Day of Dead make this issue really stand out.

She meets the family of the place she stays and agrees to go to the party.  When men ride in on horses with green flames around them, she finds that they all go hide in the church and give the men money and goods to make them leave.  If you don't have enough, they take a child and disfigure it and then throw in the next village to ensure getting plenty.  She doesn't take well to that and decides to take the fight to them.

She tracks them, kills the ones she finds but also learns there are more.  One thing about the Lady, she's a killing machine.  All you can do is follow along and be surprised by how versatile and varied her killing talents are.  Especially after she finds out they leveled the village she was visiting and killed everyone in it.  There's no mercy here.  Well, maybe just a touch of mercy.

These series is bloody and adrenaline driven but I like graphic novels and this artwork is enchanting.  Give it read as long as death doesn't scare you. 

The Bluejay Shaman (Alix Thorssen Mystery Series Book 1) Kindle Edition by Grier Lake

Wade is a history professor married to her sister.  When he gets arrested for murder, Alix jumps in to prove he didn't.  Even if he didn't, he was in the area sleeping in his car with no witnesses and it was his knife that was used in the murder.  He's going to sit in jail for a while since the judge won't set bail for him.  She's got to do something.

Instafreebies and the author let me read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published and you can buy a copy now.

With a touch of Indian mysticism involved, she has to try to sort between beliefs as well as alibis.  The dead woman had had a fight with Wade the day she died, so he did have a connection with her.  But it was over white women adopting Indian culture and that wasn't a cause for murder.  So who killed her and why?

The more Alix digs, the deeper the mystery gets.  You have a woman that is grieving Shiloh deeply and she's living in her house, too.  Did that mean they were a couple?  She finds there is a missing bluejay shaman pictograph, there's a cult in the area, and there's a mad history professor.  How all this ties together isn't apparent until the end of the story and then that's almost the end of Alix, too.  

The Indian lore added to the mystery and made this story stronger.  There will be more cases for Alix.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Lost And Found (September Day #1) by Amy Shojai

September has just moved into town.  With the loss of her husband and her dog, she's trying to get used to living alone with her cat.  When she gets a call from her sister saying her son is lost in the blizzard, she knows she has to help.  He's autistic and shouldn't be out alone.  It's a good thing he has his service dog with him.

The author shared a copy of this book with me for a review (thank you).  It has been published.

This is a twisted tale of desperate people who want to see improvements in their children or grandchildren who have autism.  There are secret medications being shared with them.  They have to sign agreements to acquire it and they don't understand all the risks but they can see the results.  It does help them, at first...

The story quickly becomes complicated.  The boy almost freezes but his dog manages to stop a small bus and the driver lets them board the bus.  When he doesn't get off the bus, she takes him to the mall to finish her route and then asks for his name and address.  He gives it to her, she calls for them to come pick him up.  But someone else answers the phone...

There's lot of tension, time limits, threats and murders along the way.  There is even a bad cop involved.  And you learn one of September's secrets, too.  Life will go on but it's changed in many ways.  Despite all the deaths, it's mostly a change for the good. It also looks like September has acquired a dog again.  This series continues so you know there are more cases for the dog and handler.  There was almost too much happening in this story but it helped keep your attention and the little boy is safe and sound now.

Raining Men and Corpses (Raina Sun Mystery #1) by Anne R. Tan

Raina is a graduate student who made the bad decision to sleep with one of the professors.  Then she made it worse by loaning him money.  Money he keeps promising to pay back but doesn't...

The author shared a copy of this book for a review (thank you).  It has been published and you can get a copy now.  

When he's still hedging on paying the money back, Raina lies and tells him she's pregnant and she needs the money.  He's shocked, but he's not unhappy.  Her tactics have backfired on her again.  What else could go wrong?  The next time she sees him, he's dead.  Well, that has to be end of bad things, right?  No.  She's a suspect and one of the cops is her ex-husband, who she still happens to love...

Besides being involved in a murder case, she's the executrix of her grandfather's will.  The various relatives are suing for money.  And she knows there's another family in China even if no one else does.  Then Grandma shows up and moves in.  The two grandmothers are playing matchmaker with her and her ex.  She can't tell her about Grandpa's other family.  And if she doesn't prove she didn't do it, she may end up in jail.

With plenty of relationship shenanigans, odd facts about the professor start adding up but nothing appears to be pointing at any one person.  It soon will.

I'm hoping Raina and her ex get together again.  We'll just have to see what happens in the next book.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

A Raucous Time (Celtic Cousins' Adventures #1) by Julia Hughes

Rhyllann and his cousin Wren are in trouble.  There were men trying to find an old book that Wren had acquired while working with an old man who loves books.  Grandma ends up in the hospital and Wren's foot gets hurt.  Crombie knows the two boys are lying.  He also gets the idea that Wren is the mastermind behind the odd happenings.  But he has more problems than that...

The author and Instafreebies sent me a copy of this book to read for review (thank you).  It has been published and you can buy a copy now.  

Legend says that a fortune was lost during bad weather a long long time ago.  Wren thinks the book he found will help him find it.  Rhyllan is conflicted.  Having money would be nice but he's not sure if he believes it will really be there.  Plus he has the cop breathing down his neck.

There's lots of action, corrupt cops, and mystical magic that only works because the boys are Celtic.  Those who touch the sword otherwise pay with their life.  At the end of the story, the boys split up.  But Wren is back on his doorstep before the last page.  This adventure isn't over yet.

Orphan Lost by Sarah Christian

David's mother died and then his father became abusive.  He ran away from home and lived on his own at fourteen.  He's fifteen now and has a home with other orphans.  Since he is the oldest, he's sent with the children and a visitor to go have a picnic in woods and see the sights.

The author shared a copy of this book with me for review (thank you).  You can read more about her and her books here:  https://sarahshomestead.com/wp/2017/04/22/orphan-lost/

They had run into a strange man in town and he scared Mary.  He was missing an arm, his leg was bad, and his face was scarred.  David told her he was OK and not to worry but she wouldn't change her mind.

As they walk through the woods, David sees bear sign.  He makes everyone stick together.  Then he realizes Mary is missing.  They look for her but don't find her.  They determine to stay there overnight and look again in the morning.  Maybe she will see their fire and return to them.  But their visitor is not Mary, it's Mother Bear...

It's a good thing someone else noticed their fire.  The group had gotten between Mom and her cubs but they soon move and all is well.  They end up all together again with a new friend.  

This is a short story but the author expresses herself well and it has a very nice ending.  This looks like a good series. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Night Beat (Fiona Griffiths, #0.5) by Harry Bingham

Fiona is paired with a Sergeant on night patrol.  She's a new officer and she needs to see just how bad it is on the streets.  Sarge thinks she looks too young and wet behind the ears to be much help.  Her safety vest doesn't even fit her right.  But it's part of his job...

The author shared a copy of this book with me for a review (thank you.)  You can get a copy of this short story here:  http://www.harrybingham.com/get-the-night-beat-free/

So we have Sarge who is condescending and protective and then you have Fiona who is more than she appears to be.

They have a few encounters and Fiona does her part and holds up well.  Then they find a known troublemaker who comes up to harrass Sarge and while Fiona minds her own business she sees another crime go down.  She's the one that figures out the knife used didn't belong to the man that used it.  He was angry about his lost love and the other guy interfered and got stabbed.  Fiona is the one that stopped the bad boy who owned the knife from escaping.  She said he tripped on the last step.  She was the only thing between him and the door...

She also does well when she visits the women at the center of the conflict and gets her to give an honest statement about what happened.  Previously she blamed it all on the man.  Now she admits she lorded it over him.  Sarge doesn't know how she did that either and that's probably just as well.

Sarge uses his techniques and experience, Fiona uses hers and is just beginning to pick up experience.  They make a mean team.  

I really like Fiona.  She's a strong woman who wants justice and she makes it happen.  I'd read more in this series. 

Lev In Glasgow by Harry Bingham

Lev is Russian and doesn't speak the best English.  But he's Fiona's friend and he gets the job done...

The author sent me a copy of this book to read for review (thank you).  It has been published and you can grab a copy now.

Fiona asks him to find the man from Glasgow who worked with a Russian in an attempt to kill her.  She emphasizes she just wants him to find him, she'll deal with him after that.  No need to eliminate him and spoil her fun.

This is a short story but Lev travels, talks to a bookstore owner and eventually returns with the name and location.  The story of the hunt is done in broken English with Russian nuances and I know I didn't get all the references but I found his contacts and ways of doing business interesting.  Lev doesn't fascinate me as much as Fiona.  Men might like him better.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Three Sisters (Emily Castles Mysteries #1) by Helen Smith

Emily goes to a party she was invited to mostly because her dog has died and she needs to get out of the house and get back to living again.  What she didn't expect to find was a performance ongoing during the event.  Nothing is quite like it seems.

The author shared a copy of this book with me for review (thank you).  It has been published so you can grab a copy now.

While Emily visits with neighbors and watches the performances she ends up being drawn into one.  A woman wants her to find a suitcase and take it downstairs to a man who is waiting for it.  She finally says yes and, with help, gets the heavy case down the stairs.  The man hands her a key and she opens it.  The woman who asked for her help has folded herself up in the suitcase!

With all this going on, she's not surprised to see a knife act coming up.  What she doesn't expect is one of the knives to be real and to watch someone die.  She also doesn't expect her dead woman to come back to life.  She's sure she was dead, she saw the life leave her eyes.  But everyone else thinks it's just her imagination after her loss of her dog.  

This is an interesting mystery with performances, odd neighbors, and murder going on under your nose.  Emily does ferret out the truth but it's not pleasant...

Cutie’s Big Adventures: Cutie Meets Mr. Lizard by Felicia Di John

What caught my eye on this one was the chihuahua's big ears and the fact it's set in the desert.  I live in New Mexico which has lots of desert and they named our local baseball team the Chihuahua's!  I needed to read this book...

The Cutie Series Co. and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published so you can get a copy now.

Cutie is home and bored while his mom goes to school.  He decides to sneak out the window and climb down the tree to go snooping around outside.  The tree is scary but he makes it.  The first animal he finds is scared of him and runs but Cutie runs, too.

The lizards are a bit plain and don't represent any danger.  Cutie ends up staying at their house for the day and playing with his new companion.  He has a good time.

Then he sneaks back home and finds that food he rejected in the morning tastes better now.  After all, it's better than eating ants like the lizards do!

Cutie's ears helped keep the story alive and interesting.  I wonder what Cutie will do next? 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Sal is a thief.  At the moment, she's a highway man and she's hoarding bits of her stolen goods to try to leave this life and go on to something better.  Her boss isn't easy to get away from.  When she finds out they are going to have auditions for a vacant position at the castle she decides it's time.  The Queen needs to find a new assassin for her Left Hand.  They are her hired killers and Sal wants to avenge the deaths of her people, especially her own family.  She begins practicing by killing her boss and taking his hand along to prove it and gain her entry.

Sourcebooks Fire and Net Galley let me read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published August 29th.

She gets accepted.  From now on she's named as a number:  Twenty-three.  There are rules.  They have classes.  And they are allowed to kill the competitors...

Sal walks a fine line here.  She's not a natural killer but she has people she wants to kill.  She has to protect herself and her maid.  And she's got to stay alive to become Opal of the Queen's Left Hand.

Sal is gender fluid and plays the part of male or female depending on the clothing she wears.  She most often acts male but she's not big bodied so others assume she's female.  They make other assumptions which cost them.  Some even pay with their lives.

Sal falls for the lady she robbed in a carriage in the past.  She's her instructor in this new life and they spend enough time together to flirt and carry on a romance.

This story focuses on Sal's quest to become an assassin and to kill those who left her people stranded with the shadows who destroyed them.  She manages to do her assignments but things are still going wrong.  The Queen isn't who she thought she was, the assassins do what they are told with no questions and this is hard for her, and her love gets kidnapped by her father.  At the end of this story, the tale is just really beginning.  It will be interesting to see what the next book is about.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Long Way Home by Gigi Priebe, Daniel Duncan

Henry Whiskers is off on another adventure.  His mother has forbidden it but he found this map, you see.  His dad drew it and there's an X marked on it.  Maybe it's something important...

Aladdin and Edelweiss allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published August 29th.

I love this series.  Henry doesn't mind taking chances, love seeing the sights, and has a partner in crime, Jeremy.  When he goes to find Jeremy, his cousin, he encounters the house cat.  While he and Jeremy are racing away from the cat, they get caught by the cook.  She's a nice person that decides to rehome them in the park, away from the castle.  That's good news and that's bad news.  The map is of the park but Henry and Jeremy don't know where they are...

The story is full of adventure.  With friendly field mice and a nasty dog, there's plenty of excitement.  It even looks like Henry might have met a new love interest.

What Henry finds is that the X marked his father's diary.  He's taking that home and will read it by himself first.  I just know he's going to find more things to explore.  He's an exciting mouse!

Dark Screams: Volume Seven by Edited by Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar

This series always draws me in.  It is an anthology of fantasy and horror and I always find a few stories to savor even though this really isn't the genre I read regularly.  This one had some good stories, too.

Hydra and Net Galley let me read this book for review (thank you).  It is being published today.  

Here is synopsis of each story included:

LIZARDMAN by Robert McCammon
The lizardman thinks he knows about all the mysterious dangers of the Florida swamps, but there are things lurking in the bayou that are older and deadlier than his wildest dreams.

A MONSTER COMES TO ASHDOWN FOREST (IN WHICH CHRISTOPHER
Although every child dreams of visiting Hundred Acre Wood, only one has ever actually frolicked in that fabled forest—and survived.

FURTHEREST by Kaaron Warren
She’s been going to the beach since she was a child, daring the other kids to go out past the dunes where those boys died all those years ago. Now she realizes that the farther out you go, the harder it is to come back.

WEST OF MATAMOROS, NORTH OF HELL by Brian Hodge
After the success of their latest album, Sebastián, Sofia, and Enrique head to Mexico for a shoot under the statue of Santa Muerte. But they have fans south of the border who’d kill to know where they get their inspiration.

THE EXPEDITION by Bill Schweigart
On a quest to bring glory to the Führer, Lieutenant Dietrich Drexler leads his team into the ruins of the Carpathian Mountains. But the wolf that’s stalking them is no ordinary predator.

SNOW SHADOWS by Mick Garris
A schoolteacher’s impulsive tryst with a colleague becomes a haunting lesson in tragedy and terror when he’s targeted for revenge by an unlikely, unhinged rival.


My favorites in this set of story were Lizardman and Snow Shadows.  Just creepy enough to make shiver and be glad I was home in my nice warm house.  All of them are haunting.  I really like this series and will continue to read more. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Super Max and the Mystery of Thornwood's Revenge by Susan Vaught

Max spends most of her time sprucing up her wheelchair.  She paints on it, tinkers with the controls to make it go faster, and she pretends she's a super hero.  She knows she's not but we all have own little fantasies and creating great feats in her mind doesn't hurt anyone.  She lives with her grandfather and life is good.  But then things start to go wrong...

Paula Wiseman Books and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published August 29th.

Someone has created a fake Facebook page for her grandfather.  It has all kinds of nasty comments on it.  Soon more social media accounts appear.  All effect her grandpa negatively.  Whoever is posting it is hiding his identity and the comments are antagonizing the town and the mayor.  While Max is worried about that, she also finds out the abandoned mansion behind them has someone in it.  She can see lights over there.  Might it be the one doing the malicious social media assault?

Max has trouble getting around on rough ground but she and her girlfriend do some reconnaissance with her friend's mother.  They get in the house and look around but all they find is a footprint and it's a common sneaker pattern.

As things get weirder and weirder and business websites go down and the bank gets hacked into and loses its money, it appears grandpa may end up being fired.  Then what would Max do?  She doesn't want to live with her mother.  She keeps searching for the bad guy but she's not happy when she finds out who it is.  

I liked this story because Max doesn't let her disability slow her down.  She keeps on going and does what is necessary to survive.  Some people give up.  Not Max.  The author kept me reading and the story ends well for all except the guilty party.  Max and her mom still have some things to work out so there may be more in this series.  I'd read 'em. 

The Late Show by Michael Connelly

Renée is a new character and I like her very much.  She's tough, determined and won't let anything get her down.  She's been treated badly before, so now she's being much more careful but she still pursues cases that intrigue her.  She just covers her butt better.

Little Brown and Company and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published so you can grab a copy now.

As is usual, this is a fast paced read with casualties along the way.  Renée accused her supervisor in the past of harassment.  He wanted more than just good police work.  However, even her own partner wouldn't back her up.  She gets stuck on the night shift which is where old police officers go to die or retire, whichever comes first.  What she finds is that's where the interesting cases show up.  Her new partner tells her she needs to turn it in to the squads that handle those cases.  But she's invested in the transvestite that took such a beating with brass knuckles he/she might die.  And she hates the fact that a young waitress was shot in the bar.  Especially since she thinks a cop was involved.  So she keeps snooping.

She does find the guilty parties but one of them finds her and almost kills her.  When she fights back and kills him, they try to make her look like she used excessive force but she survives that.  It helps that she recorded the cop talking to the reporter and feeding him false information.

She also finds evidence left for her by her previous partner.  Someone has killed him in his garage, and he knew he was skating close to death.  Now she has the information to take down a bad cop.  If only she lives long enough to do it...

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Crime Scene by Jonathan Kellerman, Jesse Kellerman

Clay works as the coroner's investigator.  He's seen all kinds of dead bodies but this one just doesn't feel right to him...

Ballantine Books and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published August 1st.

Clay thinks there may be more to the story than a simple fall down the stairs.  What he doesn't realize is that by digging into the case, he opens up old troubles.  This professor was tied up in a murder in the past and the case was closed but it was never really solved...

They put a big black student in jail for the murder of the Asian girl.  The cops basically forced his confession.  He's out now but he didn't kill the professor.  Clay begins looking into the other players and finds the instructor that worked with the black student is dead too.  He also fell down the stairs.

While investigating the deaths (were they murder?), Clay is also sleeping with the professor's daughter.  He doesn't do too badly at solving crimes, even if everyone else is bucking him, but he has no love life sense.  I expect he will get better with that as time goes on.  He does figure out what happened so many years ago.  And he's working on helping the disabled innocent man build his life again.  He's an interesting character and I'd read more in the series.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Cat Shining Bright by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

Joe and Dulcie have kittens.  Joe is very much the proud papa but he wants to get back to his investigative work.  He stays home like a good boy until murder happens, then he goes back on the hunt.

William Morrow and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published August 15th.

The cats always dominate this series and I find it fun to read.  Joe and his buddies are very protective of their humans and they also want to stop crime and help the police chief.  He's not aware they speak to humans yet, but he accepts their phone calls and wishes he knew who the informers were...

When Joe heads out to the crime scene, he doesn't realize the two male kittens are following him.  By the time he finds out, they're almost in trouble.  Trying to send them home does no good.  They're determined to be involved!

With two boys and a girl, Dulcie is plenty busy taking care of kittens.  But investigating is in her blood, too.  Soon she's in on the hunt.

It starts with car thefts and graduates to murder.  One of the thieves gets identified but the finger prints on him do not match with the prints of the man Wilma has identified.  What's going on?

It's mix of crime from the past and in the present and it doesn't take too long for the combined crime fighting team to take them down.

Having cats use a telephone is a bit much, but there are a lot fun cat antics and people bonding going on, too, so it's OK.  If you like cats, you'll enjoy this series.

Blacksmith's Christmas Bride (Sweet Town Clean Historical Western Romance Book 9) by Sarah Christian

Therese would really enjoy being able to go on adventures and have fun.  Unfortunately, her mother is ill and she has to run their hotel with almost no help from her father.  He's good at telling her what to do and is contemplating her future.  All she can do is live from day to day and try not to get too tired.

The author shared this ebook with me for a review (thank you).  The book has been published and you can get a copy now.

She's friends with the blacksmith but he never seems to see her as a woman.  Still, having a good friend is what she needs if she's going to keep her sanity and the hotel running.  As they dance around each other and try to decide how they really feel about each other, her father is trying to arrange a marriage for her.  He picks one of their countrymen who needs a wife and is rich.  Therese has no desire to marry him but she can't say no to meeting him.

When Hunter finds out about it, he's upset.  He tries to run off the other suitor and that just makes Therese angry.  But before things get worse, a snow storm hits.  Therese and Hunter agree to take food stuff out to the outlying cabins to help the folks that can't get to town.  Of course, the other man says he's going along, too.  But he gets lost.

Therese gets her adventure and very nearly dies from the exposure to the cold.  She also finds her love and that's the best part of the story.

This was a very pleasant read and I enjoyed it a lot.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Moon Princess by Barbara Laban

Sienna is unhappy.  Her mother is missing (everyone else thinks she's dead) and now her father wants to move her to Shanghai.  It's bad enough she's lost her Mom, now she's going to lose all her friends.  She has no choice and he's grieving her Mom, so she goes without too much protest.  After all, that's where her mother went missing...

Chicken House and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you). It will be published July 25th.

The first person they meet is the housekeeper, Ling.  Her father spends so much time working he doesn't realize that Ling isn't very nice to his daughter.  She feeds her traditional Chinese food that poor folks eat, won't let her go out, makes her learn the Chinese alphabet, and punishes her for any little thing.  She manages to ask her Dad if she can go out with the cook on her shopping trip and he says yes.  Ling isn't happy but she can't stop her.  That's when she meets Feng.

You see, Sienna has an invisible dog named Rufus to keep her company.  He comes and goes, he's very opinionated, and he has no patience with her.  She loves his company but she likes her alone time, too.

When she talks to Feng, he tells her he used to have one, too.  His was a small dragon.  Before the story is over, there are more animal friends involved.  This story requires a vibrant imagination but I have one so it was no problem.  My pets were real but I depended on them as much as these children do.

This is a grand adventure that mixes myths and superstition with current events and culminates in an exciting tale with good ending.  I enjoyed this read.  It's written for middle graders.  Anyone who likes fantasy will like this story.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol

She's been looking forward to being a witch her whole life.  Now they are being tested at graduation time.  The testing machine goes nuts and the school head determines it's because she's not good enough to be a witch yet.  She tells her she's an apprentice.  She also assigns her to a little town out in the boonies that hasn't had a witch for a long time.  She thinks she can do no harm there...

Chicken House and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published July 25th.

Arianwyn starts her new career trying to get snotlings out of someone's home.  That doesn't go well.  Arianwyn doesn't have a lot of self-confidence and not all her spells work, so she's cautious and only stuns them.  But when another one runs out, she uses a stronger spell and it doesn't work.  It destroys the nest and sends the remaining snotlings out into the house.  A big mess is made, one of the children gets bit, and the mother is now her mortal enemy.  Not a great start...

My favorite part of the book is how she makes friends with the odd creatures of the woods.  She has a Moon Hare that she saved and healed that won't leave her.  She makes friends a little blue fey, and she has a secret glyph she knows that has some significance, but she doesn't know what or why.

As the story goes along, the monsters get bigger and meaner, her powers get stronger and she fights for right.  It doesn't help that her enemy from school comes to town to live with the Mayor.  She messes up spells, sets things lose she shouldn't, and lies about it saying Arainwyn did it.

This is written for middle school children but I really enjoyed it.  I wouldn't mind reading more about Arainwyn.  She's survived and done well so far.  What will her new challenges be?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I Know a Secret: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel by Tess Gerritsen

Maura is called to a homicide scene and knows that it must be bad.  No one is looking well when she arrives.  It is odd when the dead woman has no eyes.  She's holding them in her hands...

Ballantine Books and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published August 15th.

Men and women both are turning up dead.  Their poses are odd, it's like they are trying to send a message.  But what kind of message?

It takes time to develop relationships between these people from other walks in life.  What they find is that they went to a local day care facility when they were young.  They were also part of a case of child abuse case.  The son who drove the schoolbus that picked the kids up was accused of murder as well as sexual misconduct.  He's just been released from jail when these killings began.  They question him but Jane is beginning to think he really might have been innocent.  

This is a very twisted tale that shows how early in life evil can show itself and how it affects their lives.  The people involved were "different", but not in a good way.  I couldn't believe who was helping the killer.

Get ready to read an awful sequence of events in the cop's world.  At the end, there's still one guilty party free but Jane has a long memory...

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ivy and the Lonely Raincloud by Katie Harnett

He's a small raincloud that separated from the others.  He looks around through the city for someone to be friends with.  What he finds is everyone loves the sun and doesn't want to have anything to do with him.  Then he notices a little girl...

Flying Eye Books and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published August 15th.

There's a small grumpy girl walking home beneath him.  She doesn't pay attention to him.  She's too busy being crabby.  She ignores everybody around her, speaks to no one and slams into her flower shop.  He follows her.  She still ignores him.  But he wants to make her smile.

This is a cute amusing tale that will make you smile when you see what he does to make her feel better.  There is always a special friend or two in your life.  You just have to find them.  This may not be a usual relationship, but they are special friends now.  And the little girl is smiling more.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Explorer by Katherine Rundell

They are flying back to England when their pilot has a heart attack.  When Fred comes to, he's bruised and no longer in the plane.  He hopes the others got out because the plane is burning up...

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss allowed me to read this book for review.  It will be published September 12th.

Lila and Max, sister and brother, and Con a young snobby girl also survived.  But they have nothing but the clothing they are wearing.  No weapons, no food, no water.  And they don't teach you jungle survival in school.  They do have two intellectual weapons though:  Fred read every explorer book he could find and has a good background in survival hints learned from that and Lila's mother is biologist and she knows a lot about bugs and plants.  That much will keep them alive but how will they get out?

This is a grand adventure.  There are all kinds of dangers in the jungle.  Keeping five year old Max out of trouble is a real challenge.  Food is scarce, and what they do find to eat is nothing they've eaten before.  They find an old shelter and take refuge there for a few days.  Then Fred puts a raft together and tries to take them down the river.  

The children face challenges that frighten them and they are afraid they will not be successful but if they want to survive, they have to overcome those feelings.  They find a lone survivor in a forgotten city and stay with him for a while.  They promise they will keep him and his city a secret.  But then Max gets sick and things get real serious.

This is an exciting tale that keeps your attention and makes you wonder how Fred can be so brave.  I think it was all those books he read...

Colorblind by Leah Harper Bowron

It's 1968 and Leah is a middle school student.  When one of the teachers retires, the new teacher begins to be chatted about before her arrival.  It's rumored she talks funny, has odd hair, lives in the quarter and more.  It takes a while before Lisa realizes they mean she's black...

PR by the Book and Spark Press let me read an ARC of this book for review (thank you).  It is being published today.

Lisa's parents each have their own opinions.  Her father is a lawyer and he will represent colored people.  Her mother has the opinion of the community that they are lesser beings and a bit stupid.  Lisa finds herself siding with her father but she won't tell her mother that.  Her mother tells her things and then tells her not to tell her father.  Soon the secrets she's carrying are going to cause trouble for her.

The mean boys who bully Lisa (she was born with a cleft palate and has a flat nose on one side) are tickled to have a teacher to torment.  The teacher attempt to ignore them but the hounding is getting to her.

Lisa finds it hard to stand up for herself but she does defend the teacher.  That just gets her in more trouble.  Her mother makes problems for her by assuming things about the teacher.  If Lisa is going to handle this, she has to grow up fast.  She does.  And she's not keeping secrets anymore.

The sad part is that being different in any way invites rude comments and bullying even in this day and age.  My mother raised me to welcome any new person as a friend.  Color, religion, or politics didn't matter.  I know that's unusual but I think life would be better for everyone if we could just agree to get along.

Just remember to be like Lisa and stand up for what you believe in.  It's not easy but you can do it.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

Sorina has a special power.  She can create illusions that appear real.  She's also part of the Gomorrah Festival and works in the freak show.  She has no eyes but she can see.  It's unfortunate she can't see what's going on around her until it's almost too late...

Harlequin Teen and Edelweiss allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published July 25th.

If Sorina has a problem, she can go the proprietor of the show.  He's her father and she loves him.  He adopted her when she small and he's always protected her.  So when one of her illusions is murdered, she talks to him.  They decide it was where they were doing their show and must have been one of the locals.  They moved on.

But the next town they stop in they lose her illusion of a little brother.  He drowns and he's always been deathly afraid of water.  He's also too young to have climbed into the place he died.  Who's killing her family?

The story is ripe with details and insight to how magic works in this world.  The bad part is that no matter how many questions she asks, she's not getting closer to any answers.  Then she starts putting the local tragedies together with the deaths of her illusions and she starts to realize the deadly truth...

This story will stick with you after you set it down as read.  It's a twisted tale that somehow ends up with a sad/happy ending and you know Sorina is going to be OK.  So is the rest of her family, but she's lost something on the way to understanding.  Ms. Foody made me care about her.  If you like magic, you'll like this story.

The Boy Who Lived In Pudding Lane by Sarah Addington

This is a tale of how Santa Claus came to be.  We meet him as a young child who liked to give Christmas gifts and that sets the course of his life...

Grafton and Scratch Publishers and Net Galley let me read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published September 12th.

Those of you who know your nursery rhymes will meet all kinds of old friends in this tale.  There's Jack and Jill, Mary who's quite contrary and many many more.  When Mrs. Claus keeps having twins after Santa's birth, he wants to give them presents like the other children get but there is no money.  So he starts spending time in their workshed and soon as created all kinds of handmade toys.  When he's ready to deliver them, he falls asleep on the roof where he meant to sneak them in the house.  His parents can't find him and notify the town crier so everyone is out searching for him.  That means there is a big crowd when he comes down the chimney and hands out his presents.  And that starts his new career...

The most fun was watching how the author added nursery rhyme characters to the story.  If you have a little one who likes fairy tales or likes Mother Goose, they'll enjoy this tale as well.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Tracker's Canyon by Pam Withers

Tristan's father has disappeared.  They can't find any evidence except where his rope had broken.  No pack, no body, no nothing.  Tristan doesn't want to believe he's dead.  He learned tracking from his father and how to climb canyons and rappel down them.  He doesn't want to give up on his dad.  But he can't go back alone.  And he has to take care of his mother now.  She fell to pieces when her husband disappeared...

Dundurn and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published August 15th.

Tristan finally gets a chance to go on a trip to the canyon where he lost his dad.  What he doesn't realize is that someone in the group is a potential killer...

The truth has been twisted by one person into a lie and a personal vendetta.  He's not sure who it is or why they are after him but he had to be very careful about everything he does on this trip.  He keeps finding hints of his father's presence and he's trying hard to find him as they go along. When he finds his father's bootprint next to where he was sleeping, he's especially eager to continue the hunt.  But he's in more danger than his father is.

This is a very suspenseful read with three people in dangerous country and death on the horizon.  It takes quick thinking and using the things his father taught him to keep Tristan safe.  I read this story straight through because I couldn't wait to see how it ended.  I wouldn't be surprised if you did, too.

How to Change a Life by Stacey Ballis

Three friends from high school meet again at their favorite teacher's funeral.  They reunite, chat about the good old days as well as where they are in life now, and they decide to set some bucket list goals to accomplish before they are forty.  That gives them eight months.  The winner doesn't have to donate to the teacher's charity fund.  They have always been competitive.  They are at different situations in their lives but they make their lists.  Things they think they should accomplish and suggestions from the others that will take them out of their comfort zones...

Berkley sent me a copy of this book to read for review (thank you).  It is being published today.

Eloise is a chef.  She works for a family, an elderly man, and does other functions as they are booked.  She's been in love once but when she had to leave France to come home and care for her father, he didn't follow.  It tore her heart to pieces so she has lived a solitary life with only a dog for companionship.  One of her assigned goals to enter the dating world again.

Teresa wants to perk up her marriage's romance.  Lynne has large corporate goals.  They all start to work on their goals.  Lynne accomplishes most of hers right off the bat.  Teresa breaks her ankle and they can't tell her husband why.  (She was taking pole dancing lessons.)  Eloise has some real ugly dates and then meets a man who is different from the usual run of the mill men.  He's also black but that doesn't bother her.  She's just hesitant about how his family will feel about her and about how her mother and aunt will feel about him.  No need to worry.

The crisis comes when they are out to dinner and Lynne and comes in.  It seems Eloise's new love was her ex.  She called him Mr. O So Wrong.  She'd never said his name.  And now Eloise is too attached to give him up.  Can she keep her friend and him too?  Does she want to keep her friend?

That question takes a lot of soul searching.  It also takes Teresa to get them together and make them discuss what they think of each other and why honestly.  No holds barred.  Just because they are near forty doesn't mean they all grown up yet...