Monday, July 30, 2018

Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Can't believe I haven't reviewed this book before. It's one of my favorites in the series. So much happening to Harry and his friends. Umbridge, Dumbledore's Army, the return of He Who Must Not Be Named. And at the center of it all is Harry, who should be putting all of his efforts into becoming the best wizard he can be, but does the silly rebellious teenager thing and doesn't stay focused.

There is loss. There are bad decisions. You will be angry and sad and frustrated by this book. But in the end you realize all of the things that happen had to happen to get us to the final pages of book 7. I had to go through all of the steps of grief while reading. I had to take a series break because I know what happens in the next book and I'm just not emotionally ready for it all.

Jim Dale really brings it all to life on audio. If you haven't listened to this series yet, you are in for a treat. 4 solid stars and an extra hug for Neville.

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Sunday, July 29, 2018

Review: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An enjoyable entry to the series. I might have loved it even more if I hadn't started with book 3.

Ian Mckenzie has "issues". He is, for lack of a better term, autistic. He doesn't like to be touched. He doesn't look people in the eyes. He says the wrong things, speaks out of turn, and generally has a hard time getting along in the world. Misunderstood by everyone but his amazing brothers, he has adapted. Now he is facing an attraction that he hasn't experienced before and doesn't quite know how to proceed.

Luckily for Ian, Beth knows how to handle him. She's experienced true love before, being a young widow. She figures out his quirks, gives him space, and accepts him for who he is. Nice, right? Throw in some drama, false accusations, and a bit of a mystery and you've got yourself a find new series. If you love strong women, unconventional heroes, and historical romance, give this one a look. 3.5 stars.

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Friday, July 27, 2018

Review: The Dark Horse

The Dark Horse The Dark Horse by Craig Johnson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wrote a long, long, review about this book. Goodreads was over capacity and ate it. I'm not sure I can muster the energy to repeat myself, but here we go.

You know how sometimes a book in a series you love just doesn't hit the mark? That's this one for me. I'm not sure why. It has all of the pieces you would expect in a Longmire mystery. Walt and Henry. Ruby and Vic and Lucian, but in very limited amounts. Some fun undercover moments for Walt. Lots of Dog. And horses. However, I'm left wanting more but can't figure out why. Maybe it was the constant time jumps. Maybe it was Walt trying to be undercover in his hometown. Seriously, Walt? You're pretty well-known. And Henry even more so. But anyway...

Walt is investigating a murder of a man no one is going to miss, and a bunch of horses that everyone will. And a missing horse, and a near-comatose wife who is in the middle of it all. You know Walt. He can't help but be involved now. It's just who he is.

Like I said, the components are all there, and it is actually pretty good, but not as great as some of the others. 3 stars.

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Review: I Hunt Killers

I Hunt Killers I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, that was a wild ride! I went in expecting something totally different, but I loved this book.

Jasper Dent is the son of a VERY prolific serial killer. He is alone in the word (well, except for his crazy grandmother) and trying to convince himself that he can have a normal life. Dude, you stayed in the same small town and expected people to not look at you sideways? All the while your grandma is crawling all over the floor thinking she is under attack and other crazy things. Your life will never be normal, but I'm applauding your spirit. But you do have a great BFF in Howie and a wonderful girlfriend in Connie. You are lucky in a lot of ways. And I'm hoping not nearly as messed up as you seem to think you might be. Fingers crossed!

You get to follow along with Jasper and how he puzzles out a copy-cat killer while trying to work through his messed up emotions. It's really well-written, and I loved it on audio. You should check this one out. I think you'll like it. It gets a bit dark in places, especially for a young adult book, but how else can you write about serial killers? 4 stars.

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Review: Elephants Can Remember

Elephants Can Remember Elephants Can Remember by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's always a treat when I discover a Christie novel I haven't read before. Especially one with Poirot, since he's my favorite. Not sure how I missed this one.

We have a twisted case brought to us from Ariadne Oliver. She has a curious inquiry regarding a long-past case dropped in her lap by a pushy woman, and she can't stop thinking about it so she calls up her old friend Hercule Poirot. Hey, if I was friends with him I would do the same thing. Let him employ those little gray cells and help me sort it all out. And naturally, that is what happens. What else would you expect from Dame Agatha?

Red herrings abound, and I totally thought I had the case cracked 58% in but alas, Agatha fooled me again. You saucy minx, you really are the greatest mystery writer of all time. Subtracting a half star because no actual elephants are featured in the book. (Just kidding, Agatha, you earned all three enjoyable stars).

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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Review: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Off to Botswana to solve some crimes with Mma Ramotswe. I think I'll stick around for a while.

Mma Ramotswe decides she will open a detective agency with her inheritance after her father passes away. It's safe to say it's risky - no one thinks a woman can be a detective. But of course she solves crimes with her common sense, so she makes a go of it. Each case with unique, with a common thread of her life in Botswana tying them all together. And I got the ending I was hoping to get, so I'm excited to start book 2.

Definitely fun for mystery lovers. Nothing too crazy, but a quick, easy start to a new series. 3 stars.

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Review: Dark Of The Moon

Dark Of The Moon Dark Of The Moon by John Sandford
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was set up on a blind date with Virgil Flowers by my good friend Lucas Davenport. We had a good time. I think we will go out again, but it isn't a love match. Probably just going to be friends.

Virgil is a good cop. He gets under people's skin, he puts the clues together, and in the end he solves the crime, even if he doesn't get his man in the traditional sense. In this one, we are investigating one crime outside of the Twin Cities, and get sucked into another one along the way. Coincidence? Probably not. He's a good cop, like I said, and he can put those clues together like a pro.

I thought I solved the crime a couple of times, but I was wrong in the end. Lots of red herrings in this one to throw you off the scent. Well-plotted, and typical Sandford. 3 stars.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Review: The Many Sins of Lord Cameron

The Many Sins of Lord Cameron The Many Sins of Lord Cameron by Jennifer Ashley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, well, well, another new series for me. Very excited to dig into book 1, as I mistakenly started with book 3. I'm not even mad about it. Cameron is nearly too good to be true.

Cameron Mackenzie. Scottish rogue. Rich widower. Single dad. A natural horse trainer. And handsome in his kilt, to boot. He's a "love 'em and leave 'em with a fancy necklace" type of guy. Until he meets Ainsley Douglas. Widow with a past. Companion to the Queen. Picker of locks and all-around snoop. But with a precious heart of gold, just like Lord Cameron. You just know they are headed towards a happily ever after.

Yes, there will be bumps in the road. Otherwise the book would be 5 pages long. Yes, some of the bumps are very obvious, but there were enough pleasant surprises to keep me going. Plus, I'm a bit of a sap, as you know, so their banter and kisses warmed my marshmallow heart.

Looking forward to reading all of the Mackenzies and McBrides books. But I'll start at the beginning for the next one. 3.5 stars.

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Sunday, July 8, 2018

Review: The Last Time I Was Me

The Last Time I Was Me The Last Time I Was Me by Cathy Lamb
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Total fail for me. I absolutely hated the main character, the dialogue, and the writing style.

This book could have been 10 pages long if you removed all of the stupid dialogue and details. We go to the grocery store, and the author makes it a point to give us 5-10 full names of people we literally will never cross paths with again. And the names are all unique, and vaguely ethnic, so we can see the diversity of this random small town in Oregon.

Quirky characters? Sure. We have a weird woman who is obsessed with germs. Some migrant workers who are seriously stereotyped in the worst way. A main character who obsesses over shoes, and speaks her mind in a way that no one would want to be friends with her. Throw in the world's worst anger management counselor and a Gary Stu of a governor who inexplicably tolerates the MC's crap and you have a hot mess of a book.

I can't think of anything nice to say right now, so I'll leave it at: 1 star. Do not recommend to anyone.

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Saturday, July 7, 2018

Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We return to Hogwarts with lots of changes for Harry this year. First, the Tri-Wizard tournament. Very exciting. We get a glimpse of other wizarding schools. Tragedy strikes, and we end with a very satisfying set up for book 5.

We kick this installment off with the fun of the Quidditch World Cup. Harry attends with the Weasleys and has lots of fun until dark things happen, setting us up for what is to come. Harry is selected as a champion for the Tri-Wizard tournament. But, gasp! He didn't enter his name because he's not 17. As Fleur says, he's just a little boy! Danger abounds. And in the end, we are in a very dark place to take us into the next book.

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Review: Break In

Break In Break In by Dick Francis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another winner by Dick Francis. He never lets me down.

This one introduces us to Kit Fielding, champion steeplechase jockey. He's a fantastic everyman, like Francis writes so well. A good man who loves horses, justice, and his friends and family. He's brave (not to a fault like my boy Sid Halley, but still brave) and doesn't hesitate to do what needs to be done for his sister. While I am a bit lukewarm on Danielle, I love the Princess and understand why Kit is so taken with her. She's fantastic.

Read this one before you read book 2, naturally, or you won't care as much about what is happening in Kit's life. I wish Francis had written more about Kit, but sadly we only get 2 books. A good mystery and good racing. 3.5 stars.

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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Review: Hello Stranger

Hello Stranger Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Garrett and Ransom's story was very satisfying. They definitely belong together.

Two unconventional people, who, on the surface, may seem a mismatch. However, they fit together like puzzle pieces. She's smart, strong, and independent. He's also smart, strong, and independent. Together, they resonate. It's good stuff. He's strong enough to appreciate her brains and independence. He's not intimidated by her career, in fact, he encourages her to be even more of who she is. She, on the other hand, doesn't bat an eye at his job and all that entails. She is probably the only person strong enough to handle him, and vice versa. A match made in heaven.

This story was everything I had hoped it would be. Really can't wait to read West's story next! 4 stars.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Review: Just Like Heaven

Just Like Heaven Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another rousing Smythe-Smith musical. Settle in for a night of entertainment. I loved Honoria’s story. Glad she gets her HEA. Plus, it’s always a pleasure to visit the Bridgertons again.

Honoria and Marcus have known each other their entire lives. She’s suddenly transformed from pesky little sister of his best friend to pretty, self-assured young lady, and now everything is different between them. Or is it? Too close to the situation, everyone can see where it’s headed but them. You, dear readers, will see it soonest of all, because we only read historical romance for the sweet happily ever afters.

Julia Quinn writes friends to lovers better than most. She’s an absolute favorite of mine. 4 stars

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Sunday, July 1, 2018

Review: Riding to the Moon

Riding to the Moon Riding to the Moon by Barbara Cartland
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

A new low by Dame Barbara. What a stinker of a plot.

We have the lovely Indira, fresh from India and the death of her father. She's perfect in every way, naturally. Cartland's stuttering heroines are written the same way. Throw in men who can't help but fall in love with her, hidden identities, ruthless villains, and a dash of Eastern mysticism, and you've got yourself a party, folks. But one that you don't really want to attend but a friend makes you go, and you stand in the corner counting the minutes until you can leave. Plus the food is terrible.

The real high point was the sexist steeplechase, and that isn't saying much. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I have no real excuse for doing this to myself, except I enjoy complaining about the plots afterwards. 1 star.

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