Monday, July 28, 2014

The White Magic Five and Dime by Steve Hockensmith (Author), Lisa Falco (Author)

The White Magic Five & Dime (A Tarot Mystery)

The White Magic Five & Dime (A Tarot Mystery)
Price: $9.59


Steve Hockensmith , Lisa Falco
4.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 Stars Nothing is Really Perfect, But This Book is Close!, July 28, 2014

Book Description

July 1, 2014
Much to Alanis McLachlands surprise, her estranged con-woman mother has left her an inheritance: The White Magic Five & Dime, a shop in tiny Berdache, Arizona. Reluctantly traveling to Berdache to claim her new property, Alanis decides to stay and pick up her mother's tarot business in an attempt to find out how she died.
With help from a hunky cop and her mother's live-in teenage apprentice, Alanis begins faking her way trough (sic) tarot readings in order to win the confidence of her mother's clients.  But the more she uses the tarot deck, the more Alanis begins to find real meaning in the cards ... and the secrets surrounding her mother's demise.
Praise:  "A charming comic mystery" - Booklist

Have you ever started a book and after a couple of chapters thought to yourself that this drivel just wasn't for you? That is what I first thought about The White Magic Five and Dime, but something kept me reading and I quickly became engrossed in this book.

At first the sarcasm and hidden self pity from Alanis was just a bit too over the top ...until you read further and really get a feel for our protagonist. Initially I was annoyed with see all of the 80's TV and movie references but it soon became fun to try and figure them out.

The story is a mystery and a very good one at that. I wonder how many other readers will have an easier time figuring out who done it and why, than I did, but I didn't catch on until the real killer was actually revealed. Anything else I say about the big reveal will `spoil' the story so I am not going to say anything more.

So many secrets, so many cons...this is going to make an excellent series and I am certainly going to be along for the ride.

Happy reading!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Flight of the Golden Harpy

Flight of the Golden Harpy
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $11.04

"Book Description

June 17, 2014
Kari, a young woman, returns to the jungle planet of Dora after ten years in Earth’s schools determined to unravel the mysteries surrounding the harpies, a feral species with the appearance half-bird, half-human.

The human colonists believe harpies are dangerous animals, which are known to steal women. The creatures are hunted like wild game, their wings considered rare trophies. But Kari distrusts these rumors. When she was attacked by a monster in the jungle as a child, a male harpy with rare golden coloring rescued her.

Constant hunting by men has driven the harpies to the brink of extinction. Is Kari’s savior, the elegant golden harpy, is still alive? If so, how long can he and his flock survive the ravages of mankind?

Susan Klaus's Flight of the Golden Harpy is an imaginative and romantic fantasy novel that questions what it means to be human.

At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied."
2.0 out of 5 stars A Political Statement, July 18, 2014

This book was just one big statement on animal cruelty/anti-hunting using the guise that animals have emotional feelings like humans do. At least this was my impression on this book. I couldn't see any other point to it. Many other authors try to get away with this type of orating and it doesn't usually work out too well for them...I hope it works better for Ms. Klaus.

This may have been written as a 'fantasy' and and the fact that it is a fantasy is being used as an excuse for its
weaknesses. However, that does not give the author the privilege of throwing out every rule on good writing there is. I am not an author but even I know that characters need to be well fleshed, the reader needs to feel engaged with them no matter what. An author should never make you feel indifferent to or bored with the character. The fact that Kari is so ultra beautiful and desirable and Shail is so handsome, was on just about every other page and soon became a joke to me.

The writing seemed to stutter along, the speech amongst the characters seemed forced and false. I was never sure if the non-usage of contractions had to do with the world Kari lived on or if it was an editing glitch.

In my opinion, if there is no discernible plot by the time you have read 25% of the book then what point is there to keep reading? To read about a world? What was this fantasy world compared to? A Pre-Jurassic earth? I'm sorry, it was just not enough to keep me engaged in this novel.

ARC supplied by publisher for reviewing purposes

Friday, July 11, 2014

Product Details

Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels Book 7) by Ilona Andrews (Jul 29, 2014) 

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews ( Finished hard-cover copy ready for publication) Includes short story Magic Tests.

"Magic Tests" is all about Julie and the fact that she is checking out a new school to go to.  This story takes place before the events in Magic Breaks.  It is a really wonderful story that shows Julie in all of her magical glory and the fact that  her apple did not fall far from the tree, even though she isn't Kate's natural daughter.  She is being tested in a most unusual way - by hunting down a missing student.

No Spoilers

Wow…this book is just WOW!

Book Description

 July 29, 2014
No matter how much the paranormal politics of Atlanta change, one thing always remains the same: if there’s trouble, Kate Daniels will be in the middle of it…

As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear…

**Includes the bonus Kate Daniels story Magic Tests** 

 If you have been a fan of the series and have followed the series from the start and if you have followed the Andrews BLOG at all or even the gossip, you will know that this was supposed to have been the last book in the series.  This one would have been the final confrontation; the one that ended the sweet anticipation of what will happen when Kate finally confronts her father Roland.  Luckily, for us the series has been picked up for more books.

This book starts off very interesting - it has a 'Character List' though not one that includes every character from every book.  Mostly they are the characters that will play a huge part in this  book. It is very handy to have.

 Then we have "From the Journal of Barabas Gillliam" which is invaluable in bringing the reader up-to-date on the series, or you can rather consider it a refresher.  Told in a totally different voice than Kate's book (more like Curran's voice), it was a blast to read.

An interesting quote from this journal is the last line---->

"There is a storm gathering on our horizon. We will make a stand, but I wonder if it will matter in the end."

This book is what other authors have tried to do and failed miserably.  When one story ARC ends, they should have been able to slip over to something new but these other authors just could not manage it.  The Andrews do manage to do so and do it flawlessly and seamlessly, with style, skill and panache.

That is not to say that this book was utterly perfect.  There are some tiny problems that I personally had with some of the story telling.  Some parts had been dragged out until I was started to get frustrated.  My heart can only take so much!  Thanks to the Andrews team deft skill they know just when to add some of Kate’s and Curran’s snarky humor to lighten up   almost overly tense scenes.

While it is true that the main story ARC has reached a finale of sorts, (and not in the way I would have expected or liked, but in a better way) it opens completely new and surprisingly interesting possibilities for the series.  This is going to be great!  I cannot wait to see what is going to happen in the next few books that the team has been contracted to write!

This book has some very fantastic character growth for many people.  Unfortunately there are no deaths of anyone very significant…hint, hint. We do finally get to meet Roland and he is not as I (or Kate or Curran) expected…well at least not totally.  He is actually a better character than the one I had imagined. He is someone that I think I will enjoy trying to figure out and reading about in the coming books.  Combine Evil with Ward Cleaver and you get Roland…sort of, if you can imagine and you have Roland!

There is a lot going on in the time the story takes place and it is a much shorter amount of time than you can imagine,

I am so itching to add some real spoilers, but that would just be so wrong of me. ;-)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ice Shear: A Novel

Ice Shear: A Novel
Ice Shear: A Novel
by M.P. Cooley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.25

4.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 Stars Nothing is Really Perfect, But This Book is Close!June 20, 2014

This review is from: Ice Shear: A Novel (Hardcover)

Book Description

 July 22, 2014
A small town cop’s murder investigation turns deadly when she uncovers a web of politics and drugs linked to an outlaw motorcycle gang in this gripping debut suspense novel for fans of Winter’s Bone, Frozen River, Breaking Bad, and Sons of Anarchy.
As a cop on the night shift in Hopewell Falls, New York, June Lyons drives drunks home and picks up the donuts. A former FBI agent, she ditched the Bureau when her husband died, and now she and her young daughter are back in upstate New York, living with her father, the town’s retired chief of police.
When June discovers a young woman’s body impaled on an ice shear in the frozen Mohawk River, news of the murder spreads fast; the dead girl was the daughter of a powerful local Congresswoman, and her troubled youth kept the gossips busy.
Though June was born and raised in Hopewell Falls, the local police see her as an interloper—resentment that explodes in anger when the FBI arrive and deputize her to work on the murder investigation. But June may not find allies among the Feds. The agent heading the case is someone from her past—someone she isn’t sure she can trust.
As June digs deeper, an already fraught case turns red-hot when it leads to a notorious biker gang and a meth lab hidden in plain sight—and an unmistakable sign that the river murder won’t be the last.

I have to say that this book totally surprised me. I never thought I would like it as much as I did.

I love mysteries and although this was a rather complex plot, eventually hard-core mystery lovers will most likely figure out who-dun-it before the end. This is not a bad thing since you still need to know why they done it!

June (Juniper) Lyons is an ex-FBI agent who quit the Feds and came back home with her husband and daughter to Hopewell Falls New York while her husband succumbs to cancer. She is now working as a regular cop in this rather impoverished corner of New York. Nothing much ever happens, until one early morning a body is found.

This was never going to be a simple case considering that the dead girl is a Congresswoman's daughter who is married to the towns' very bad boy. Eventually we start getting a very clear picture of just how bad so many of the people involved with this young woman are. And we soon find out what lengths people will go to cover up just how bad things are going to get.

As far as this being a debut, you would never know it from this book. This is a gripping story that was well thought out and plotted. The characters are very `real' and while you may not like very many of them (I did not).

Some areas of this book could have used a little more explanation, some of the characters didn't ring quite true and some things just did not add up for me but never enough to pull me out of the fascination I had with the whole story.

I am hoping that this is the start to a series and that some of the issues that I had, will be explained and the characters I had problems with will be more fleshed out.

This is a great debut and the perfect read when the thermometer climbs over 90% this summer!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Top Secret Twenty-One: A Stephanie Plum Novel

Top Secret Twenty-One: A Stephanie Plum Novel
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $11.84

Book Description

June 17, 2014
Catch a professional assassin: top priority. Find a failure-to-appear and collect big bucks: top score. How she’ll pull it all off: top secret.

Trenton, New Jersey’s favorite used-car dealer, Jimmy Poletti, was caught selling a lot more than used cars out of his dealerships. Now he’s out on bail and has missed his date in court, and bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is looking to bring him in. Leads are quickly turning into dead ends, and all too frequently into dead bodies. Even Joe Morelli, the city’s hottest cop, is struggling to find a clue to the suspected killer’s whereabouts. These are desperate times, and they call for desperate measures. So Stephanie is going to have to do something she really doesn’t want to do: protect former hospital security guard and general pain in her behind Randy Briggs. Briggs was picking up quick cash as Poletti’s bookkeeper and knows all his boss’s dirty secrets. Now Briggs is next on Poletti’s list of people to put six feet under.

To top things off, Ranger—resident security expert and Stephanie’s greatest temptation—has been the target of an assassination plot. He’s dodged the bullet this time, but if Ranger wants to survive the next attempt on his life, he’ll have to enlist Stephanie’s help and reveal a bit more of his mysterious past.

Death threats, highly trained assassins, highly untrained assassins, and Stark Street being overrun by a pack of feral Chihuahuas are all in a day’s work for Stephanie Plum. The real challenge is dealing with her Grandma Mazur’s wild bucket list. A boob job and getting revenge on Joe Morelli’s Grandma Bella can barely hold a candle to what’s number one on the list—but that’s top secret.

From the Hardcover edition.

 Contrary to what some anti-fans are going to think, Ms Evanovich should not end this series. There are still tons of fans who revel in the familiar, who take comfort in it and love it. For a while I too was unhappy, but I recently re-read the series (slowly) and could see book by book, small growths in both Stephanie, the way the author plots her books, develops her mysteries and growth in the story lines. We have to remember that just because years have passed since we've started reading these - it isn't so in the story line.

Each book can be read as a stand-alone so this is most likely another reason for things not moving in directions that you may wish they would take, or moving along as quickly as you would like. These are not coy mysteries, but the style is very similar to many cozy mystery authors.

I think that this was one of the more serious of her books and deals with a fairly timely issue. If anything it has less gore than some of her earlier books, yet the deaths that happen 'on page' as it where, are a little more creative and less thuggish (most of them). Just think of what "One for the Money" was about and you'll see what I mean. We will never get rid of the 'mafia' mentality of the books and that is some of the charm of this series.

With this book, not only do you see Stephanie growing and questioning her life, but also you see the plot line or story line grow and mature. This was one of the most serious of the books in recent memory. Yet it was one of the funniest too. I loved it. I think that there is renewed hope for this series.

We still have the same typical Stephanie issues...and where would we be if she didn't get at least one car blown up per book? However trite, many of us readers love this aspect of the novels. Stephanie is a creature of habit much like many of us. Fortunately, for us, our habits and ruts do not include explosions and numerous deaths.

Grandma plays a bit of a lesser role in this novel - Grandma is ticking off things on her `bucket list' in this novel and one of those things is to see Ranger naked. Wouldn't any of us want to see him naked? Well Grandma gets to tick off many items on her list! *hint,hint*

Ranger also lets Stephanie know (in Ranger style) that she is more important to him than she thought she was.

Why can't Stephanie choose? Because it wouldn't be the same series if she did, and what would the constant readers do it the series really changed all that much? Would you still keep reading if she married Joe? If she ad to give up helping Ranger and listening to his double entendres?

No I really don't want to see the series change too much, but I am thrilled that the author has allowed Stephanie to question her life and to let the plot become a little more serious and timely.

I'm sad that so many people didn't really read the book, that so many people just skimmed it, because I THINK that these people missed the subtle changes in Stephanie, Ranger and Joe and the authors usual style.

For what it's worth - if you as a reader are so unhappy with the direction of these books - why keep reading them?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Not Good, Not Bad

Mr. Mercedes: A Novel

Mr. Mercedes: A Novel
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $11.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A Mixed Blessing, June 8, 2014

Book Description

June 3, 2014
In a mega-stakes, high-suspense race against time, three of the most unlikely and winning heroes Stephen King has ever created try to stop a lone killer from blowing up thousands.

In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.

Brady Hartsfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again. Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.

Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

I have the horrible feeling that letting others know that in my opinion, this isn’t Mr. Kings best work, is going to be a mistake…but here goes:
I loved the idea that the author used a different from the one we are in know, yet he did not delved too far into the past.
I loved the fact that the protagonist, Det. Ret. Bill Hodges is an overweight, depressed and suicidal, non-tech savvy lump who may just have one more thing to do before he literally ‘bites the bullet’.
I also loved that this book combines many of Mr. Kings past tropes. Not very well, but they are combined. I saw so many of his past successes packed into this book.
I liked the fact that he had so many unlikely characters helping in the end.
I also liked that he did get the girl-sort of.

What I did not like?

This book was too similar to so many of his past works, the characters were not really well fleshed out and the ‘horror’ aspect just really wasn’t horrible enough to justify using that word.
This book read more like a police procedural but with a couple of semi-horrible things thrown in just as an after-thought. Perhaps I am just immune to fictional horror because of true/real horrors going on all around us in everyday life.
I admit that I haven’t been keeping up with Mr. King’s writings since “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” and The Dome, so I don’t know how his latest works have evolved –but this just seems like a kinder gentler Stephen King with a touch of Richard Bachman thrown in.

This is not a wonderful book but it is not a horrible book either. I think that his is the type of book that everyone will be reading something different into it. Each reader will have different emotions pulled out of them, and each separate person will be seeing a different horror behind the words.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Shiver of Light (A Merry Gentry Novel)

A Shiver of Light (A Merry Gentry Novel)
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $11.99

2.0 out of 5 stars 1.5 Stars ...Oh Brother - A Classic Laurell, June 4, 2014

Book Description

June 3, 2014
I am Princess Meredith NicEssus. Legal name Meredith Gentry, because “Princess” looks so pretentious on a driver’s license. I was the first faerie princess born on American soil, but I wouldn’t be the only one for much longer...

Merry Gentry, ex–private detective, now full-time princess, knew she was descended from fertility goddesses, but when she learned she was about to have triplets, she began to understand what that might mean. Infertility has plagued the high ranks of faerie for centuries. Now nobles of both courts of faerie are coming to court Merry and her men, at their home in exile in the Western Lands of Los Angeles, because they will do anything to have babies of their own.

Taranis, King of Light and Illusion, is a more dangerous problem. He tried to seduce Merry and, failing that, raped her. He’s using the human courts to sue for visitation rights, claiming that one of the babies is his. And though Merry knows she was already pregnant when he took her, she can’t prove it.

To save herself and her babies from Taranis she will use the most dangerous powers in all of faerie: a god of death, a warrior known as the Darkness, the Killing Frost, and a king of nightmares. They are her lovers, and her dearest loves, and they will face down the might of the high courts of faerie—while trying to keep the war from spreading to innocent humans in Los Angeles, who are in danger of becoming collateral damage.

Edited for various typos made while in the heat of the moment!

Please forgive my ramble for that is what this is and less a review -I find that my review is written more like this book was and less like a proper review!

Sooo...we waited 5 years for *this*?

A re-cap of the story with no spoilers ------------------------------->

Discussions of past books...blah,blah,blah.

Discuss the entourages clothing and appearance.

Have babies.
More inappropriate talk about the men.

Some action.
More recap, re-hash, filler, introspective depressing filler.

Some interesting bits with Taranis and the Andais that never gets built on.

Being set up as a Deity - again never gets expanded on---Oh and more more re-hash.

A death, a fight, some dream leaping/visiting and questioning of mortality--- yet MORE filler and repetitiveness.

The end. ------------------------->

Annoying parts? Aside from the fact that this book was filled to the covers with c r a p --- there* was* actually some interesting parts, unfortunately they had not been expanded on to make a fresh new book. The interesting and plot building parts seem to be brushed under the carpet and we the readers are left wondering what the heck we waited.

The death was supposed to be horrific, but it just left me with a 'so what' sort of feeling, I didn't feel horror or regret and I should have, It just wasn't written for me to actually 'feel it'.

The interesting bits with the Queen was perfect and there should have been more.

Merry bringing mortality to Fairy seems to be an unwise addition to this story - a better plot would have been the Fae and all its representatives should have brought immortality to Merry.

Could the third baby possibly the Kings?

------------------------------------>END SPOILERISHNESS<-------------------------------------------- br="">
Merry should have taken care of the King the whole way, not just as far s she took it. Unfortunately for us this leaves the option open for Ms Hamilton to be repetitive with her next book-repeating (beating dead horses)anything that Taranis ever did to our poor Merry- If I had read one more time how she was beaten at the Shining Court by the King - I would have pulled my own eyes out!

This is the perfect book for the first time reader, since everything will be totally fresh for you -for us long-time ready to beat yourself over the head to keep yourself awake long enough to finish.

Also be prepared for nothing really new, or eye opening.