Friday, December 30, 2016

Review: History of a Suicide: My Sister's Unfinished Life

History of a Suicide: My Sister's Unfinished Life History of a Suicide: My Sister's Unfinished Life by Jill Bialosky
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I saw this book at Barnes & Noble on a feature table years ago and added it to my TBR shelf. I finally picked up a copy and got into the sad headspace of grief, loss, and the unthinkable end of suicide.

I am a generally content person. I have a good life. I am good at looking at the glass and finding it half full, and not worrying how it will be refilled (it will, I just take it on faith). So suicide confuses me. I want to better understand how someone can see that not only as an option, but THE option. The way out. I really want to understand the darkness so I can possibly help others. Books like this one give me a partial glimpse into a different perspective. Plus, and if you know me at all you know how true this is, I love a good cry.

I wish I could help everyone who has ever contemplated suicide see how life is precious and precarious enough without ending it early. And that you are all loved. But I can't, so instead I seek to better understand. Much like the survivors left behind, some questions can never be answered. 3 stars.

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Review: A Conspiracy of Kings

A Conspiracy of Kings A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We return to Attolia, but this time with less Gen, less Irene, and more Sophos. And Helen, who seems to be more understandable and likable in this one.

Sophos, who you might remember from The Thief, has grown up. We get glimpses of who he is becoming as he loses everything, hits rock bottom, and rises up, like a king should. And along the way we get a few glimpses of Gen and Irene, who I dearly love, and the continuing evolution of Sophos and Helen, who we were teased about from the end of book 1.

Turner's writing style takes me a while to settle into for some reason. I enjoy her stories and her characters, but they are a bit of slow burn for me. Once I get back into the groove, however, I speed right along and enjoy the journey.

Still love book 3 best, but this was a solid three star read. Can't wait until book 5 next year!

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Review: First Lord's Fury

First Lord's Fury First Lord's Fury by Jim Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

And we come to the end of our epic journey with Tavi and the rest of Alera. It was a wild ride, and I'm sad once again that it is over. Don't worry, Tavi, I'll be back again in a few months to take the trip with you all over again.

If you are reading this review and you haven't read the other books in the series, stop here. Seriously. Go pick up a copy of Furies of Calderon and grow up with Tavi. If, however, you are done with the series, you can keep reading my thoughts. This book is long and full of details. You are going to learn more about the Canim, not enough about the Icemen, and way too much about the Vord Queen, who I find tedious. I mean, I get that she is the ultimate big bad, but I find her annoying.You get the ending you want for most of the characters, and are left wanting more for others. Just like life, I suppose.

Romance, action, survival, politics, and war. Jim Butcher, can we be best friends? My favorite series of all time. 4 stars for this book and the series overall.

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Monday, December 26, 2016

Review: The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, that was interesting. Not overly fun, but a decent read. Someone who loves Laura? Check. Someone who has read the books a hundred times? Check. Someone who wants to uncover the history behind the books? Check. Sounds like me. She even churns butter.

I would be interested in taking the same trip, but now I don't necessarily feel I need to. Thanks, Wendy! If you love the Little House books, you will probably find this a decent read. 3 stars.



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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Review: The Ask and the Answer

The Ask and the Answer The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Patrick Ness, we might have reached the end of the road together. I still haven't forgiven you for Manchee. And I am left caring less and less about Todd and the Mayor and they may have to carry on without me. I am going to blame the audio's narration for Todd. The dialogue and vernacular sucked in a listening format. Viola was good, though.

First of all, I don't love books that have scenes of cruelty. I know I seem like an immovable rock without feelings, but inside I am a marshmallow who loves puppies, sunshine, and all things good. The scenes with Davy, Todd and the Spackle almost lost me. I was pulling for Spackle 1017 to rise up and end this nonsense.

The next book should be interesting, and I admit wanting to know more about Viola's people and the origins, but it will be quite a while before I decide to return. No promises. We'll see. 3 stars because I am weird and most people love this series.

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Review: These Happy Golden Years

These Happy Golden Years These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Strap in, folks. This might be a long one, since it's my favorite book in the series.

We begin our story once again in the cold winter of the Dakota Territories. Laura has received her teaching certificate and begins teaching school to keep Mary in college. She dreads teaching, she doesn't want to leave home, but she pulls herself up by her bootstraps and puts on a brave face. The school is 12 long, cold miles from home. She's staying with the school board president's family, run by his awful wife who hates it out West. It's a long two months in the freezing cold, and the only way she stays sane is because of the wonderful Almanzo Wilder. He drives out there, regardless of the weather, and brings her home to her family. Every. Single. Weekend. Through blizzards and awkward conversations. Almanzo must have really loved her, because she is ridiculous sometimes and tells him she won't ride with him after she is back home. What? Girl, you are crazy. But he's the best, and continues to make sure she gets home safely. I have a real thing for strapping young farm boys who are good with horses and very kind and brave. Almanzo is my jam.

And then she is home, and she conveniently forgets that she wasn't going to go around with him anymore. Apparently strapping young farm boys are her jam, too. Laura, no judgment. He's rad. And he apparently gets you, big time. Secret Christmas gifts, buggy rides, and appears to be a strong partner in crime. You get to drive the horses and race across the prairie together. You break wild horses and go to singing school together. And at the end, a sweet proposal and a kiss, leading to a quick marriage. Well, I say quick, but he courted her for three patient years, so nothing quick about that, folks. I mean, she was eighteen when they got hitched. And he builds her a kick-ass pantry so you know he loves her.

I'm 99% sure my husband is Almanzo Wilder reincarnated, and this book directly shaped the kind of man I am find attractive. 5 stars. Love this series!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Review: Little Town on the Prairie

Little Town on the Prairie Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The town of DeSmet survived the long, hard winter, and spring has arrived. Laura gets her first job, as a seamstress, in town, and starts earning money to send Mary to the college for the blind in Iowa. She's a dedicate gal, for sure. This money is enough to send Mary off in the fall. I have no idea what it cost back then, but I'm sure it was a bit out of Pa's reach. Very nice that they figured out a way to send her. Say what you will, the Ingalls family is from hearty stock and they find a way to get it all done.

And romance is in the air! Laura is a grown up now, all of fifteen years old, and Almanzo squires her home from church. She's a bit clueless to his affections, but she walks home with him anyway. And at the end of it all, Laura gets her teaching certificate and her first school. 3.5 stars because I'm a sucker for a G-rated romance.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Review: The Long Winter

The Long Winter The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you know me at all, you know how much I hate being cold. Winter is the worst! This book is my worst nightmare. Snow. Way below zero temps. Freezing winds. No food. I like to think I am a hearty pioneer gal, but in my heart I know I love food and sunshine way too much. But, much like Laura, I would survive, because I'm strong like a bull.

A comically stereotypical Indian, straight from central casting, walks into the store in town and warns the white people that a big heap long winter is coming. He's basically ignored by everyone but Pa and the Wilder Boys, because they are smarter than everyone else. Plus handsome and talented and funny. But I digress. The winter comes, the trains stop, and the whole town is on the brink of death. Literally. Luckily for the entire town of DeSmet, Almanzo and Cap have more bravery than sense, and they go on a foolhardy mission to save the town.

I love this one. 4 stars.

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Review: The Cat Who Went Underground

The Cat Who Went Underground The Cat Who Went Underground by Lilian Jackson Braun
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Vacation time for Q & the gang. We are going back to the cabin in the woods for the summer.

Qwill and the kitties are "roughing it" in the K cabin. But not really, because Qwill is a freaking millionaire, yo. But he continues to keep it real by staying frugal by eating in diners and riding a mountain bike around. Polly Purebred is living it up in merry old England on a librarian exchange, so Qwill thinks about putting the mack down on various young ladies, but somehow resists. And Qwill decides the historic cabin needs an addition, so he hires some folks off the books and gets the results you would expect. And has all sorts of problems with the plumbing and heating, and of course the young female plumber seems to crush on old man Q. Can't resist those mustachioed bucks, eh? Then a few people disappear, end up dead, and Koko once again solves the mystery while Yum Yum daintily eats from a crystal bowl. Yum Yum, you are dim but pretty.

As usual, three stars. I knew who was guilty from the beginning but was totally wrong about why. On to the next!

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Friday, December 16, 2016

Review: By the Shores of Silver Lake

By the Shores of Silver Lake By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

On the road again with the Ingalls family and we say goodbye to Plum Creek. Sadly, this time without my boy Jack. We are headed to the wilds of the Dakota Territories, friends. On a train! To claim a homestead and settle down, no matter how much Pa and Laura want to go to Oregon.

Pa heads to Dakota to work the railroad and be the payroll clerk, then Ma and the girls head out to meet them. The railroad men are filled with rough talk and violence, but Laura is fascinated with them as you would expect. Pa proves himself to be smart and brave, as usual, and then the railroad moves on to leave the Ingalls family alone in the Big Slough. After a cozy winter in the surveyor's house (what luck!) they stake a claim to their 40 acres and move into the claim shanty to win their bet with the government. Three stars, and onto the Long Winter! BRRR.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Review: On the Banks of Plum Creek

On the Banks of Plum Creek On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pa Ingalls, you are a starry-eyed optimist. Always looking on the bright side. Grasshoppers destroy your wheat? No problem. Holes worn through your boots? No problem. Deadly blizzards nearly kill you? Still no problem.

How Caroline Ingalls kept from choking this man to death is beyond me. And she moved AGAIN when she didn't want to. Also, a baby pops up out of nowhere with barely a mention. However, this is one of my favorite books in the series because I fell in love with the idea of living in a dugout. In fact, I would go move into one right now. That's right, I'm a prairie gal. Sue me. I was sad when they moved into the real house. Plus, this book kills me because of everyone in this series, I love Jack the most.

To this day, I am terrified of a grasshopper plague and have thought through what I would do. Burn them. Burn them with fire. Thanks, Laura. 4 stars.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Review: Little House on the Prairie

Little House on the Prairie Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We have now left the Big Woods of Wisconsin and are in Indian Territory - gasp! Funny to see the opinions of the early 1930s. We go West, poor Jack has a scare, and we build a log cabin. Totally jealous. I think I would have made a fantastic pioneer man. Not a woman, because I would not want to do my laundry in a bucket, nor make corn mush all day, every day. But I would hang with Mr. Edwards and live off the land.

Once again, 3 stars. I like them progressively better as Laura ages.

Side note...Carrie is like a ghost child. She is mentioned so seldom I am surprised when her name is brought up. Poor Carrie!

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Review: Small Favor

Small Favor Small Favor by Jim Butcher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Harry, Harry, Harry. You will never change, and that's why I love you so much. More sass. More monsters. And more coins floating around Chicago, harassing Murph and Harry. Luckily they have the knights and wardens to help them fight evil.

Marcone is trouble, and Mab calls on Harry to bail him out. He reluctantly helps his frenemy, because he just can't resist the siren's call of trouble. He gathers his band of merry men and women, and they quest on to save the good people of Chicago. And Ivy. And Marcone. Harry makes some missteps and bad decisions, puts everyone in danger, and barely saves the day, as usual. And he gets his ass kicked as many times as you would expect. But what's that I smell around the corner? Could it be romance? Nah, I feel like Butcher is messing with us. Guess we will see in book 11.

You should try these books on audio. So good! Just like you would think Harry would sound. 3.5 stars.

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Review: Death of a Hussy

Death of a Hussy Death of a Hussy by M.C. Beaton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The more things change, the more they stay the same. And Hamish changes least of all.

Hamish and Towser, recently relegated to Strathbane after Lochdubh's police station has been closed due to lack of crime. The people of Lochdubh are crafty and make up a bunch of crimes to get Hamish back. Hurray! He returns home to meet newcomers Maggie and her niece, Allison. Maggie is overbearing, conniving, and a bit awful with an insecure center. Allison is a shrinking violet who falls for Hamish. Hoping to light a bit of a fire under Pricilla, I'll allow it.

Maggie is rich, you see, and lords that money over little orphan Allison and four of her former lovers/honeypots. And she's writing quite the risqué account of her sexcapades. Saucy! Then she ends of dead, of course, and Hamish is on the scent to find the killer. No one believes him, but he gets his man, or woman, in the end. He's lazy, but smart, after all. And he gets 3 stars for continuing to bring me back to Lochdubh.


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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Review: Changeless

Changeless Changeless by Gail Carriger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lord and Lady Maccon continue their odd life of paranormal bliss. But something is causing the pack to stop changing, and it isn't Alexia for a change. More sass, more bickering, and suddenly Alexia is off to Scotland in a dirigible to track down her husband at his ancestral home.

We get the expected steampunk elements tied neatly to the paranormal. Good stuff! Danger, deception, and plot twists abound. And we get a surprise ending that will get you to move book 3 up your TBR list, so well played, Carriger, well played. 3.5 stars because I didn't love it quite as much as book 1, but still very enjoyable.

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Review: Little House in the Big Woods

Little House in the Big Woods Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love to go back and re-read this series every few years. I love traveling West with Laura and her family. Her Pa reminds me of how I might have been back then, always itching to go to a new place with fewer people.

Worth it for nostalgia alone. 3 stars, as always.

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Friday, December 9, 2016

Review: The Slave

The Slave The Slave by Kate Aaron
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Ah, where to start? This book was not for me. The writing was just ok, but I was not a fan of the MC. That's a deal breaker. If it could have been just about Kai, I might have been ok. The nicest thing about this book is that it was free.

You see, I really hated Tam. It ruined the entire story for me. I hate weak characters, and I hate whiners. The end. 1 1/2 stars and no book 2 in my immediate future.

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Review: If You Find Me

If You Find Me If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ok, I'm a huge baby. This book made me cry. I think it's the mom in me. I need a tissue now.

This book wasn't quite what I expected. I knew it was about a girl who had been kidnapped, but that was about it. I actually liked how it was laid out with the rescue at the beginning and the flashback interwoven into the story afterwards. More of a mystery that way, dropping in the puzzle pieces. My nitpick: it didn't seem like the girls went to therapy or had any professional help outside of the social worker helping test them for school. Really? Maybe I missed a throwaway line or something, but no one on one sessions? No family / group therapy? Kids are resilient, but that missed the mark for me.

I've had this book on my list for a while now. Glad I finally got to it. 3.5 stars, but rounding up because it was a tear-jerker, and I love those kind of books.

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Review: The Duke and I

The Duke and I The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Why yes, I will have a little cheese with my romance. Thank you. Give me a double-helping. I'm a marshmallow. Crusty on the outside, and gooey and warm inside.

Julia Quinn writes great historical romances. I accidentally started with book 2 in the series, and have worked my way back to book 1. I will definitely continue my journey with the Bridgertons. They are fun. You know there will be troubles. Misunderstandings, tears. Family meddling where they shouldn't be. But lots of love, and always my HEA. I gotta have that. This one is the eldest daughter, Daphne. Pretty, but in a regular person way. Smart. Outspoken. A little flawed. My favorite kind of heroine! Simon is a little bossy, smart, funny, and flawed as well. My favorite kind of hero. Add up all the historical romance tropes and you have this book, but in the best possible way.

If I wrote historical romances, I would hope they would turn out like this. 4 stars.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Review: Mission to Murder

Mission to Murder Mission to Murder by Lynn Cahoon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jill, Jill, Jill. You are silly. But I found you less annoying in this book, slightly. Your boyfriend Greg is amazing and is very much like my husband. You need to lock that down, stat.

Jill finds herself smack in the middle of a murder, and is once again the prime suspect. Seriously? I think there are 400 people in this town, and Jill is always stepping in it. Add the Scooby Doo-style wrap up with the villains at the end and I had to deduct a half star.

However, I am a sucker for a quick mystery, so I will of course read book 3. Feel free to judge me! 2 1/2 stars, rounding up to 3 because I love Greg and her dog Emma.

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Review: Crown of Midnight

Crown of Midnight Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book 2. More Celaena. More intrigue. Twists, turns, deception. Good stuff. This series is great on audio.

Celaena is now the King's Champion. She continues to kick ass, yet be her own person. She can't seem to get her shit together on the romance front, but I'll give her a pass because she led a messed up life during her formative years. She's a good person, but flawed, and I love her. Oh, and speaking of love...Chaol. Ah, Chaol. You are my book boyfriend. You are 100% better than Dorian (stay over there in the friend zone, please, because you will find a perfectly good princess to fall in love with later, I'm sure). You love Celaena, even with her rough edges. You guys are a great match, which I'm sure means there will be love triangles galore in the next few books. I can handle it as long as you get your HEA. I love me a good HEA. I'm a sap. Shut up.

4 stars. Almost scared to start book 3 and ruin my happiness.

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Review: The Last Girl

The Last Girl The Last Girl by Joe Hart
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Really torn what to rate this one. On one hand, I thought the premise was interesting. On the other, it was about 100 pages too long. It was a slow read for something that should have been full of action.

Meet Zoey, a woman in a world that isn't having girl babies anymore, and no one knows why. She has spent her life in a compound with other girls who are basically prisoners, but for their own safety. Lots of things happen, then more things happen, then we reach the cliffhanger ending to send us right into book 2's arms. Book 2 may be waiting quite a while (no offense).

My main beef may sound strange. Actually, I have two main beefs--one on the writing, one on the plot. 1) The writing. Zoey (and the rest of the girls) are written like young teens. I had to keep reminding myself that she was turning 21 in a few weeks. She seemed 14 at most. 2) The plot. Seriously, has everyone in America lost their minds at that point? Females do not determine gender, males do. So unless I misunderstood that they were (view spoiler), then this book makes no sense from top to bottom. Now that I'm thinking more about it, there are more threads to unravel and I may end up with no sweater, so I will stop this review and go drink coffee instead.

2.5 stars. I reserve the right to read book 2 at some point if it fits a challenge. Otherwise I will pretend they all lived happily ever after.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Review: An American in Scotland

An American in Scotland An American in Scotland by Karen Ranney
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Once upon a time, I accidentally started with the third book in a series. You see, I needed a book with someone wearing a kilt on the cover, and this fit the bill. So off I went.

We hit the right notes here. Strong, smart, independent heroine. She travels from America to strike a deal with MacIain. He is taken with her right away. Not looking for love, he stumbles into her. They are like puzzle pieces. Cue violins. And then there are misunderstandings, danger, and kisses. And they finally get their HEA. Not a spoiler, just the genre, folks. Calm down. You don't read historical romance for any other reason, and you know it.

I liked it enough to read books 1 and 2. I'm giving in 3 1/2 stars, but rounding down because I may not read it again, and I reserve 4 stars for books I will re-read.

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Review: Neanderthal Seeks Human

Neanderthal Seeks Human Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is definitely not my usual genre, but I really loved this book. Janie was awkward, and weird, and smart, and funny. Quinn was shockingly a good balance for her. At first I thought she was written way too over the top with the quirkiness--I'm ridiculous and I'm nowhere near as bad as her--and she was WAY too oblivious, but that's ok. By the end, I got what I wanted, the HEA.

I switched back and forth between the audio and eBook, and the narration was solid. 4 surprising stars from me, and I will read the others.

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Review: Highlander's Bride

Highlander's Bride Highlander's Bride by Lexy Timms
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Nothing remarkable here. The story winds around, not making a ton of sense, but the MCs hit it off sexually and get well acquainted VERY quickly. Barely any time travel and no explanations, but I'm not interested enough to continue the series to find out. Lame. Insta-love and lots of historical tropes in this one. 2 stars.

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Review: Named of the Dragon

Named of the Dragon Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I typically love Susanna Kearsley, but this one fell a bit flat for me. Maybe it's because I listened to it on audio. I just didn't get pulled into the story like I usually do.

I didn't like the characters. Any of them. They were all bad people, self-absorbed, ridiculous, and a bit vapid. The cheesy ending was actually what nudged it from 2.5 stars back to 3, because you know I am a sucker for that HEA.

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Review: The Highlander Takes a Bride

The Highlander Takes a Bride The Highlander Takes a Bride by Lynsay Sands
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm a sucker for a kick-ass heroine. No wilting flowers for me, thanks.

Meet Saidh Buchanan. She rides well, shoots well, and talks like a pirate. Sometimes. But sometimes she's a lady. What a paradox! Now meet Greer. Strong, sexy. A big heart under all of those big muscles. He falls for Saidh. She falls for him. But she isn't looking to be strapped to anyone, and I liked that about her. I also love her rowdy brothers, and thought it added a layer of fun to the story. They are ridiculous.

Mystery and intrigue are afoot, and Greer and Saidh look to figure out what is happening in the castle before it's too late. Will they solve the crime? Will they live HEA? You can guess the answer to both questions, and then read to find out if you are right. (Spoiler...you are). 3 stars. I'll go back and read books 1 & 2 as well.

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Review: Angels Flight

Angels Flight Angels Flight by Michael Connelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great entry in the Harry Bosch universe. Man, he's my kind of detective, but he really can't catch a break with his love life. Poor Harry! I love Bosch because he's lawful good, a kind of everyday Joe who fights for justice and just can't keep his mouth shut when things aren't right. He's one of my book boyfriends. Love them smart, gruff, and principled, I guess.

We have a couple of murders. One with a hot shot lawyer who loved suing cops. And a poor innocent lady in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's a complicated plot, and I have to be honest, I guessed way wrong on this one. I was surprised at the twists, so well played, Connelly. Bosch is awesome, and if you aren't reading this series, start at the beginning and get reading. You can thank me later.

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Review: Unwind

Unwind Unwind by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, I needed a while to recover from the end of this book. Still not sure what I want to say.

It's an interesting storyline. Scary to think that the government would allow an atrocity like unwinding, but we have allowed plenty of other awful things to happen that look abhorrent in hindsight. Good, likable characters, with baddies you love to hate. And a really memorable scene towards the end that I want to talk about once you finish, so get reading.

Off to track down book 2.

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Review: Becoming Alpha

Becoming Alpha Becoming Alpha by Aileen Erin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Pretty decent start to a new series. I am going to choose to ignore the insta-love in this case because a) you knew it was coming from the book blurb, b) it's young adult, and it goes with the territory, and c) it worked in a really weird way.

Tessa has a strange condition, and her parents somehow roll with it. Ok. Cool parents, I guess. Turns out she's a witch. Witches and werewolves don't mix, until they do. Then it becomes Hogwarts for wolves and peculiar children, and we are off to the races. With angsty love, because what is high school without it.

Strife, battles, and good vs. evil. Good enough to read book 2 to see where it's going.

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Review: Thicker Than Blood

Thicker Than Blood Thicker Than Blood by Madeline Sheehan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, I must be weird. I have never had a friendship like these two. Always holding hands, and embracing, and kissing each other "hard" on the lips. It makes me think I haven't had a true friend. Their depth of commitment to each other made the story not ring true for me. Or maybe I'm a robot.

I know, I know. It's a zombie book. It's the apocalypse. No one knows because we haven't been there. But the strangeness of the relationship kept pulling me out of the story. I don't think I would have reacted like either of them at any step of the story.

Anyway, I wanted to love you but I think you are just ok. It's not you, it's me. 2 1/2 stars.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Review: Romeo Alpha, Book 1

Romeo Alpha, Book 1 Romeo Alpha, Book 1 by Darla Dunbar
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Imagine you are just told you had a long-lost relative who left you a mansion. Do you:
a) ask more questions and go see the house
b) tell yourself it's too much to deal with and wait until tomorrow to find out more

If you choose B, this book is for you. If you choose A, I have saved you 90 minutes of your life. Put this book down and move on. This heroine is too stupid to live. 1 star.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Review: Dumb Witness

Dumb Witness Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Agatha, you've done it again. I was WAY off on this one. I guessed 3 times and was wrong for all of them. But not to worry, my friend Poirot was right on target, as usual. I feel a bit like Hastings, in the dark all of the time.

This one involves Poirot and Hastings coming to the case after the crime occurs. A letter delay, the criminal almost off without punishment, until Poirot catches the scent. And like the dog in the book, he doesn't let go.

Good plot (as usual) and some fun twists and turns. 3 stars.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Review: The Soulkeepers

The Soulkeepers The Soulkeepers by G.P. Ching
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So this book. Yeah. It pretends it is a dystopian YA, but it really became more of a religious Christian faith book. Which is all well and good, but it really should be one of the main page genres, Goodreads. While I will read anything, there wasn't much indication from the genre list or book blurb.

Anyway, it was an ok story. Some romance, a little danger, and teen angst. 2.5 stars, but I won't round up to 3 because it might mislead readers.

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Review: Go Ask Alice

Go Ask Alice Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Man, I'm torn about this book. At first I liked it. Then I hated it. Then, as a parent, I was horrified. Then I was back on board. Then, the ending.

Really not sure what to rate this one yet. I'll be back.

Ok, now I'm back.  Still not loving it.  I am going to give it 1.5 stars, but I'm rounding down in this instance because this would serve as a cautionary tale for NO ONE in this day and age.  It is dated and has not stood the test of time.  Alice, you need to look inside yourself for the answers, and the answer to this one is, get your shit together.  Please.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Review: Theirs To Eternity

Theirs To Eternity Theirs To Eternity by Barbara Cartland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Babs, you've outdone yourself. Maybe your books on audio are the way to my heart? The stilted prose just disappeared with this narrator and I hated the heroine far less than usual.

Silly plot about gypsies, stolen jewels, and family secrets. Misunderstandings abound, and if the hero and heroine would have just communicated instead of being dumb this book would have been about 15 pages. Anyway, I'm a sucker for the HEA so I'm giving this a rare 2.75 stars, rounding up to 3.

XOXO, Babs. You've finally done it. I'll give you another try on audio.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: Firestorm

Firestorm Firestorm by Nevada Barr
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Anna, Anna, Anna. You continue to surprise me.

On an assignment from Mesa Verde to assist with the firefighters in Northern California, and she uncovers a killer. Don't worry, my boy Fredrick Stanton attempts to ride in on his white horse, but Anna doesn't need that. She's still not sure what she needs. She's a marshmallow inside, sure, but she's walnut hard on the outside.

Anyway, everyone's a suspect and they all seem shady, except Harold Black Elk who just seemed awesome. And Anna solves the case, puts herself in harm's way, and makes it home mostly in one piece. Can't wait to read book 5. Stanton, I'm pulling for your quirky self.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Review: The Eighth Guardian

The Eighth Guardian The Eighth Guardian by Meredith McCardle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved this! Fantastic start to a new series for me. Doing a happy dance. Spies? Check. Time travel? Check. Stubborn, flawed heroine? Check. Good stuff.

Amanda, code name Iris, goes to a kick-ass spy training school. Color me jealous, because I SO want to go there. She's recruited early to a top secret branch of the government. And get this: they time travel. Remember the short-lived show from the 80s, Voyagers? I feel like the author and I are the only two people who watched it, because it is like Phineas Bogg and Jeffrey were the grandfathers of this program.

Did I mention that I loved it? Because I did. Subtracted a star because Abe annoyed me and I'm not sure how the next book will continue on without hitting the reset button somehow. But hey, it's time travel so anything is possible.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Review: Forevermore

Forevermore Forevermore by Lauren Royal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cameron Leslie, I love you. Clarice is one lucky lady.  I love this series.  Stop judging me.

Sweet, short novella told from Clarice and Cameron's point of view after Cait and Jason's wedding. I want more of their story, but this will have to do.  Are you expecting a HEA?  Yes, you are.  Are you going to sigh a little at the end?  Yes, you are.

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Review: Ill Wind

Ill Wind Ill Wind by Nevada Barr
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

New book, new park. Anna's at my old location, Mesa Verde, so I loved reading this one. I sold a ton of this book in my stores when I worked there. It's interesting to be able to visualize each location while you are in the park. Minus the dead bodies, of course.

Shoved into seasonal housing, prickly Anna is winning friends and influencing people, as usual. But she starts to settle in, and quickly gets embroiled in sabotage for the pipeline threatening to ruin one of my favorite parks, and then murder. I have to admit I thought I had it figured out a couple of times, but was wrong. And then our old Fed Stanton comes, and Anna is off to the sparring races. I'm interested to see where they take this quasi-partnership in book 4.

I love this series because Nevada Barr allows us to armchair travel to our National Parks. They are my among my favorite places. Take care of them, visit them, and leave no trace.

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Review: Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Where'd You Go, Bernadette Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

True confession time: I'm a bit socially awkward like Bernadette. Like 2 steps removed. So I can relate to the cringe moments and had to laugh. Plus, who hasn't dreamed about escaping for a while? Just me? Oh, ok.

I enjoyed how it flowed, with the letters, emails, and inserted thoughts from Bee. I think the odd format just worked really well for the storyline. The family was flawed, the neighbors and school moms were flawed. It just hit a lot of really real notes with me.

I found it curious to see some of the reviews. I have to assume you are all well-adjusted people who couldn't relate to the ridiculousness happening in parts, but it all resonated with me. BRB while I pack warm clothes for Antarctica.

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Review: Let It Snow

Let It Snow Let It Snow by Heidi Cullinan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

M/M love story set in cold Minnesota. Lots of stereotypes, and I found the main character to be pretty annoying with his whining and pity party, but hey, sexy lumberjacks in a cabin. The second star is because I am a marshmallow who loves a HEA. Shut up. 2.5 stars overall.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Review: Tell the Wolves I'm Home

Tell the Wolves I'm Home Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My heart is hurting over this book. I need a tissue. And a hug.

This book hit all of the right notes with me. Coming of age story with a quirky, misfit heroine. Dysfunctional family dynamics that seem true-to-life. Love. Introspection. Grief. What can I say? I like a few tears in my books (sometimes).

Set way back in ye old 1987 (gads, I was in high school, folks. This isn't historical fiction!), AIDS was a scandalous, secret "gays only" disease. Times were different then. June loved her uncle, and after he dies she finds out she only knew parts of him. Walk with June as she tries to discover who he really was, who she really is, and bring some tissues, because you will need them. Unless you are a robot, then you will be fine.

Loved it. 4 stars. Going to hug my kids now.


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Monday, August 8, 2016

Review: The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories

The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories by Marina Keegan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Marina Keegan was only 22 when she was died in a car accident. Newly graduated from Yale and ready to continue her budding career as a writer, we are left with a collection of work from her short life. Half of the book is short stories, and the other half essays. You can see glimmers of what she would have potentially grown into as a writer. Her voice, as you would expect, is very young. She's in college; her life has barely started. I liked some of the stories, didn't like some others. These are stories that wouldn't have been published under other circumstances.

Overall, three stars, but I'm having a hard time separating the tragedy of a life cut short from the actual work, so actually 2.5.

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Review: Mrs. McGinty's Dead

Mrs. McGinty's Dead Mrs. McGinty's Dead by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Poirot, my friend. Together we exercise our little gray cells and solve the case. Always a pleasure. And as usual, you get to the solution before me.

Another Christie mystery where I point the finger in my mind at all of the wrong people. I think I solve the crime over and over, only to be wrong at the end. But luckily for all of us, Poirot was there and saw what we did not.

Mrs. McGinty is dead. Her lodger is accused of the crime, but several other suspects seem to have the big three: motive, means, and opportunity. Can you guess the answer before Poirot? You can't, but don't feel bad, because he's the best. Three stars.

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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Review: Mortality

Mortality Mortality by Christopher Hitchens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Life is short. Cancer sucks. Please remember that, my friends, and make the most of every moment.

Regardless of whether you agreed with Christopher Hitchens or not, this is a powerful read. Disease can strike anyone, anywhere, anytime. We can do all of the right things--exercise, eat healthy foods, get enough rest--and still get sick. We can do the wrong things--smoke, drink, overeat, eat unhealthy foods--and stay healthy. The body is a mystery at times. And you aren't guaranteed tomorrow.

Diagnosed with esophageal cancer that had spread to his lungs and lymph nodes, Hitchens chronicles his mortality in this short read. If cancer has touched your life in some way, I think this book will speak to you. It's worth the hour of your life. 4 stars.


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Friday, July 29, 2016

Review: Curse of the Pharaohs

Curse of the Pharaohs Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

More adventures with my favorite couple, Peabody and Emerson. If my husband and I were Egyptologists in the late 1800s, we would be them. I love their bickering and unabashed love.

They have returned to Luxor, leaving young Ramses in the care of Emerson's brother and his wife. Not necessarily a call I would have made, but hey, it was a different time. Plus, this is fiction. Superstition, murder, and grave plundering abound, as you might expect if you read the first book. If you didn't, stop reading this review and read book 1 instead.

A fun series! 3.5 stars.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Review: Still Life with Murder

Still Life with Murder Still Life with Murder by P.B. Ryan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great start to a new series for me. Historical mystery with a strong, smart heroine. I really liked Nell Sweeney. The story begins with Nell being unexpectedly hired as a governess for the wealthy Hewitt family. Fast forward to secrets, murder, and intrigue with William, the black sheep of the family. The family is in turmoil as the police are convinced they have the right man.

Not to worry, Nell is on the case. The mystery is intriguing and I really enjoyed the relationship between Will and Nell. I thought the ending was satisfying and I immediately went out and got the next book. 4 stars.

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Review: A Purple Place for Dying

A Purple Place for Dying A Purple Place for Dying by John D. MacDonald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hop in your time machines, kids, because we are going back to the swinging sixties. Take a ride with my good friend and salvage consultant, Travis McGee. Private Eye and a real cool cat. The ladies absolutely love him.

This is the third book in the series, and while it's fun to go back in time and see what life was like before the technology age, you have to take yourself out the mystery at times. No, he doesn't have a cell phone. No, he doesn't have the internet. No, he doesn't know how to solve crimes with anything but his brains and his brawn.

This time the T-man is in Arizona, not in Florida, and he's deciding if he will help the fair maiden Mona leave her husband, when, blammo! Sniper. Not to worry, folks. Travis is on the case.

Chalk the blatant sexism to the era and just enjoy the ride. Like most of them, 3 stars.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Review: Two Bronze Pennies

Two Bronze Pennies: A Police Procedural Set in Late 19th Century England Two Bronze Pennies: A Police Procedural Set in Late 19th Century England by Chris Nickson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Started on book 2 because I needed it for a challenge. Interesting enough that I will go back and read book 1 as well.

DI Tom Harper is an engaging enough chap. Newly married and in love, he's a bit of the everyman good fellow you really want to win in the end. Plus, you get historical mystery with an interesting religious storyline that will make you think.

Definitely a good one for historical mystery lovers, and a pleasant way to pass the afternoon.

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