Saturday, March 31, 2018

Review: The Madman’s Daughter

The Madman’s Daughter The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Having never read The Island of Dr. Moreau, I went into this very blind. It was not my usual fare, but it was pretty good. Especially if you like love triangles, medical horror, and weirdness.

You see, Juliet is Dr Moreau's daughter. He's disappeared in disgrace and her mother went to great lengths to keep them alive and well, and once she died Juliet was on her own. A series of farfetched circumstances brings her smack into her past, and off to the island we go.

Some disturbing things happen on the island, and no one is actually safe. We get the angsty love triangle, part and parcel of the young adult genre, but I strangely don't hate it here. And an ending that wants you to pick up book 2 and keep going. I'm going to refrain, although I'm sure I'll get to it eventually. Just not today. Juliet, it's not you, it's me. Still, good enough for 3 stars.

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Friday, March 30, 2018

Review: Matched

Matched Matched by Ally Condie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have had this on my shelf to read forever. I finally worked it into my reading list. It was pretty good.

It's standard fare for YA dystopian. The world isn't extremely fleshed out, though. I got to the end and was shocked there wasn't more. Yes, we have the expected cliffhanger to lead you right into book 2, but the story just seemed...lacking, maybe? You get the obligatory love triangle, of course. I didn't mind this one, though. Cassia is just discovering who she is, so she waffles, and that is ok. Ky and Xander are both good dudes, and she loves them for different reasons. Like I said, standard YA dystopian fare here, and that's ok. It hits its mark.

Enough good stuff to get me into book 2. Eventually. 3 stars.

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Review: The Cat Who Went into the Closet

The Cat Who Went into the Closet The Cat Who Went into the Closet by Lilian Jackson Braun
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Back to Pickaxe, and we are getting ready for the big snowstorm that is always promised but never delivered. This time it hits.

Qwill and the kitties move from the charming apple barn to the Goodwinter mansion for the winter. He claims it is because he doesn't want to plow the drive, but you know it's so he can keep an eye on Polly, who is living in the carriage house. These two are ridiculous. Junior's grandmother moved to Florida and then died, and Qwill and Koko think foul play might be involved. What else is new? They see murder everywhere. Koko is exploring the hundreds of closets in the mansion, and keeps bringing up treasures that are clues. Or not, because he's a cat, not a person. We never know with him. Yum Yum is just there, being pretty and touching Qwill's mustache. And eating like the pampered queen she is.

The mystery doesn't always make sense but the characters are charming so we roll with it. On to the next. 3 stars.

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Review: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I absolutely adored this book. No surprise there, but have found a new author to explore. I'll be reading more by Sarah MacLean.

Lady Calpurnia, Callie, to her family and friends, is a spinster. Gasp, at 27! She is definitely on the shelf. And she always does the right thing, but now she's had it. She's made a list of rules she is going to break, since she is firmly in spinsterhood anyway. Reputation be damned. And she's been crushing on Gabriel St. John since he was kind to her way back in her first season, so he is her choice for first passionate kiss. He's a man, so he obliges. In fact, he's ready to oblige her in the whole list. Misunderstands abound, as usual, but in the end we get our HEA, which is why I'm here, folks. I'm all about the HEA.

Callie and Gabriel are the perfect match, and the plot is lots of fun. Happily headed to book 2. 4 stars.

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Review: A Test of Wills

A Test of Wills A Test of Wills by Charles Todd
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've been waiting to start this series. While I think I like Bess Crawford more, I still enjoyed my time with Ian Rutledge.

Back from the Great War and dealing with some ghosts, Inspector Rutledge is sent to investigate a case that triggers some of his issues. He able to keep it together and eventually crack the case, though, because he's quite good at his job. I confess, I was actually surprised by the villain and didn't see it coming. If you did, good job, because it came out of left field for me.

Solid start to a new series for me. I like my men smart, strong, and a little messed up, so I'll be reading on. 3 stars.

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Review: Proper Gauge

Proper Gauge Proper Gauge by Hugh Howey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Coming back to the silo after the cleaning. I must say, I enjoyed this installment more than the first one. I might be hooked.

Things I loved: The Mayor, The Deputy, and their relationship. Jahns and Mames, sitting in a know the rest, but not really. It's still sweet though. Finding out more about the silo.
I'm torn on Juliet. I part love her, part not, but we will see how she fleshes out in part 3.

And that cliffhanger ending? I can see why people are hooked on this book series. 3.5 stars.

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been sitting on this for a few days, trying to gather my thoughts. Super torn about how to rate this one. On one hand, I enjoyed the mystery. I thought it was quite interesting, but I do like stamps. I have a collection myself, but nothing really rare or valuable like in this story.

I liked how dysfunctional the de Luce family is, and how Dogger and Mrs Mullet just roll with it all. It was all quirky in a good way. They are a strange combo of odd and normal. And while I liked Flavia, and her genius wrapped up in immaturity, she played older than 11 years old. Had she been just a few years older, I think I would have been in love. Genius or no, she just didn't feel eleven, if that makes sense.

However, I give full kudos to the narrator for the audio. She was delightful and actually bumped my rating up from 3 to 4. Definitely will read book 2.

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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Review: Opal

Opal Opal by Juliet James
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I adore mail-order bride books. I think I must have been one in a past life. But this one just wasn't great. Perhaps it was too short to really flesh out the characters? Perhaps I shouldn't have started with book 7 in the series? We may never know.

The Sheriff. Oh, the sheriff. He has hints of being amazing. But I needed more. And Opal? Yes, she was strong and could stand on her own. But why did it take her so long to do it? Plus, the silliness of their pasts was a deal breaker for me.

2 reluctant stars, but you know I'll go back and read the other ones too. Eventually.

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Friday, March 16, 2018

Review: Under Orders

Under Orders Under Orders by Dick Francis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Back in England with my good friend Sid Halley. Sid is one of my favorite investigators. Strong, flawed, and unfailing honest.

This time Sid is digging into the world of online gambling and the death of a jockey. He's got a new love interest, and I think this one is for keeps. Finally! Sid has so much bad crap happen to him that it's exciting to see him happy. We get the usual band of characters in this one, and decent dose of Charles, the ex-father-in-law and pretty much the best retired Naval officer ever. I must confess, I have a slight crush on Charles. We get to see Jenny in a different light finally. Danger abounds, and, without giving too much away, they all lived happily ever after, as they do. Or some version of it.

Standard enjoyable mystery by my good friend Dick Francis. Three solid stars.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Review: Stillhouse Lake

Stillhouse Lake Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What to rate? Oh what to rate! I am so torn. I really liked it, even though I wasn't a huge fan of Gwen. I like gritty, what would you do, scary situations. I like to think, "would I do that?" She made some questionable decisions in my book, but I get it.

I stayed engaged in the mystery. I wanted to know more, and it was unwrapped a little at a time. However, there were a few too many things thrown together for my liking. A few questions left unanswered (probably to get you to read book 2). And some overly telegraphed plot points, which I won't list here for fear of spoiling you. But yes, I guessed the bad guy from the first introduction. The red herrings were not convincing enough for me, so I never suspected them at any point.

I know I sound like I didn't enjoy it, but I really did. You should read it. I'm going to land on 3.5 stars, but not sure if I'm rounding up or down yet.

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

Review: The Cat Who Wasn't There

The Cat Who Wasn't There The Cat Who Wasn't There by Lilian Jackson Braun
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We're off to merry old Scotland with Qwill. Sadly, the kitties are staying home. But worry not, they get some action in the story, too.

Qwill, Arch, Amanda, Polly, and the gang head to Scotland on a tour. You know, Qwill's mother was a Mackintosh, so he can't resist a trip to the motherland. Dr. Melinda, Qwill's former flame, is back catting around because she inexplicably just can't resist the mustache. Then the tour guide tragically dies, and there is a mystery to solve, friends. Just like you would expect, Qwill and Koko are on the case. He's so good he solves it all in his apple barn mansion, which sounds amazing and I'm a little jealous. Plus there is a plot about teddy bears that I feel like was totally unresolved. Am I wrong?

Plus, sounds like Arch Riker is finally going to get a love interest who isn't crazy and abrasive like Amanda. No offense, Amanda, but you really sound awful. He needs a little love in his life.

P.S. Qwill, I'm sure the ladies were annoyed that you bought them all the same gifts. I called that last book. Glad it came back to bite you in the butt. No wonder you are single.

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Review: Pretty Poison

Pretty Poison Pretty Poison by Joyce Lavene
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Cozy mysteries really can be hit or miss for me. This one had some high points, but when you find the quirky affectations of the main character particularly annoying, it doesn't bode well for the series.

Peggy Lee is a quirky gal with spirit. She's got a green thumb, and she owns a garden shop. She's widowed, still misses her cop husband, wears a purple cape (I wish I were kidding) and rides her bike everywhere because she is environmentally conscious. She's even converting her old Rolls Royce to hydrogen. Plus she teaches at the university. She does it all in her fabulous 50s.

The plot is thin...dead body in her shop overnight. Poison. Flowers. A sexy vet next door who is a (gasp) younger man and he's definitely interested in Peggy. A cast of characters in her shop who are nearly as annoying as she is. And an awesome, awesome dog. Honestly, I'm going to read book 2 because of the dog and the vet.

2.5 stars, and I just can't bring myself to round up. Sorry, Peggy, but you are trying way too hard to be quirky for me. Dial it back and you might get the third star in book 2.

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Saturday, March 10, 2018

Review: When Beauty Tamed the Beast

When Beauty Tamed the Beast When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, yes, of course I loved this book. I do have a type, and this fits it perfectly.

Step one. Smart, sassy MC. She doesn't have to be pretty, in fact, oftentimes she doesn't realize her beauty, but this one is gorgeous. Step two. Strong, smart MC who is a bit prickly on the outside, but with a soft marshmallow center. He is usually handsome, but this one has (gasp) a disability! He walks with a cane because of a leg injury and is a real a-hole to the world. But he is a brilliant doctor, so you know he isn't all bad. Now how much money would you bet that she is able to break through his hard exterior? Bet it all, friends, because you know we are driving directly towards an HEA.

Lots of good banter between the MCs and a very wonderful side plot with the Duke. All-around a winner for you historical romance lovers. 4 stars.

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Thursday, March 8, 2018

Review: The Governess Affair

The Governess Affair The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very pleasantly surprised by this one. Glad I read it.

Hugo Marshall, will you be my book boyfriend? You are exactly my type. Strong on the outside, soft on the inside. Smart (very important). And a strange mix of safe and dangerous. He's the perfect match for Selena, and she was damn lucky to find him.

Really fast read and hits all of the right historical romance notes for me. I'm quite excited to see how book 1 holds up against the backstory. It's going to be tough to beat Hugo, and I hope he makes an appearance.

Really loved it. 4 gooey stars.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Review: Faith

Faith Faith by Leighann Dobbs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Pretty standard fare for a mail order bride western romance. Cute, but it could have been a few chapters longer to really flesh out the characters. Maybe we get more in book 2.

Faith is a mail order bride / spy. She's being blackmailed into finding out the dirt on her rich new husband. He has a broken heart but needs to have a wife to be viewed as a respectable businessman. Ok, not sure why this makes him respectable, but we'll go with it. It was the Wild West, folks. Just roll with it. He's handsome. She's gorgeous but doesn't know it. He's brave. She's stronger than she looks. Together a match made in heaven? Probably. The real stars of the show are Robertson, his driver and Maisie, his cook / household runner / boss of everyone. I would read a series just about these two precious gems.

Yes, I will read the next book because I have an addiction to mail order bride western romances. I have no idea why, but I do. Stop judging me. I must be a reincarnated mail order bride from 1880.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Review: Mated to the Meerkat

Mated to the Meerkat Mated to the Meerkat by Lia Silver
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So imagine you are talking to your son about shifter romances, and he asks if there are any about meerkats. Well, any good mother would be obliged to find one, and then read it, right?

This one was surprisingly cute and funny. I don't read a lot of shifter books, but I liked it. Recommend if you like shifter romances with sparks and you can suspend disbelief enough to enjoy the story. Plus, it's short but sweet. 3 stars.

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Sunday, March 4, 2018

Review: Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I absolutely love Brené Brown. She inspires me with real talk to take a hard look at my life, my decisions, and own who I am. Sometimes I need a kick in the butt, and she's right there to give it to me. No sugar-coating things, just no bullshit, be the best person you can be regardless of the hand life dealt you. You are in charge.

Inspired yet? Probably not, because I'm not Brené so my words aren't as powerful. But grab the book, or better yet, the audio, and start making positive changes for yourself. You deserve it, friends. Life is short, so embrace the 168 hours you get every week and take charge of your destiny. Love you all. And so does Brené. 3.5 stars.

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