Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Tuesday Book Reviews

The Coin

Four star review of The Coin by Maria Elena Alonso-Sierra

This romantic thriller about an American woman Gabriella (originally from Cuba), who lives near Grasse and found a coin while hiking. The coin has markings added after it was minted, and they indicate that it’s part of some international scheme to create dissent among people. Gabriella, married with two children, is guarded by a reluctant American operative who happened to be nearby on vacation. The intriguing plot of the novel moved quickly with lots of tension that was sometimes interrupted by head-hopping, the growing attraction between the operative and the woman despite her marital status, and the obvious identity of the antagonist.

Siege and Sacrifice (Numina #3)

Five-star review of Siege and Sacrifice by Charlie Holmberg

The third novel in this trilogy follows through on what was promised by the first two and gives the reader even more. Kolosus has been inflicted on the world and Sandis, the other vessels, and the clerics must work together to fight him. This time the story also takes us to the ethereal plane where the numen reside, many more numen than we’ve seen before. Their origin is revealed – another excellent piece of world building from one of my favorite fantasy writers. The ending to Sandis and Rone’s story was perfect. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Tuesday Book Reviews

Dark Waters by Chris Goff

Five star review of Dark Waters by Chris Goff

Raisa Jordan arrives in Israel to take over for another diplomatic security agent and immediately becomes involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict when her predecessor is shot along with a Palestinian. Witnessing the event are an American federal judge Ben Taylor and his Lucy, who’s in Israel for non-traditional treatment. There are also an Israeli sniper Ganani, another Palestinian Haddid, and assorted member of the police and diplomatic corp. The action is fast-moving, but allows the growth of the characters. The author said at the conference where I bought this book that her daughter convinced her to travel to Israel and her trip inspired the book.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Tuesday Book Reviews

I'm back with a couple of reviews for you all

Children Of The Future

3-star review of Children of the Future by Jane Suen

Great premise, but the writing is stilted. When Telly arrives with his schoolbus to pick up the kids they're all gone except for Billy, who's hiding. Most of the book is devoted to the search for the kids, so there's a feeling that this might be a crime or an alien abduction, but when they're found, Telly's the only one who continues to question who took them and why. Written at a fourth or fifth grade level, this might be suitable for kids although they might not understand the ending.

Top Marks for Murder (Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries, #8)

5-star review of Top Marks for Murder by Robin Stevens

One of the best of a great series. Hazel and Daisy are at Deepdean School for Girls, finishing their fourth year and preparing for the anniversary festivities. Their dormmate Beanie sees a woman being strangled in the woods, setting the Detective Society off to find bodies and clues and get into all sorts of mischief. Hazel, as vice-president and secretary, relates their adventures as they eliminate suspects in the murder that occurs during the gala dinner. As always, the girls triumph, but the fun is in how they get there, one step ahead of the Inspector as usual.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Tuesday Book Reviews

The Churn: An Expanse Novella (The Expanse)

5-star review of The Churn by James S. A. Corey

This novella tells the back story of one of my favorite Expanse characters, Amos Burton. His life as a young adult in the mean streets of Baltimore, during a time when Earth, Mars and the Belt haven’t yet become embroiled in war, explains a lot about his abilities, his sometimes ruthless, sometimes tender behavior. It’s as well written as the novels in the series so you can experience what life was like for him. We even learn how he got his name. The Churn occurs due to a crackdown on crime and mobsters, and seals Amos’ fate.

The Loot (Charlie McCabe Thriller Book 1)

4-star review of The Loot by Craig Schaefer

Schaefer’s first crime thriller and the first in a new series follows Charlie McCabe, just back from her military tour, where she was a bomb defusing expert. That skill comes in handy in this fast-paced story. Charlie must come up with money to pay her father’s bookie. The job she gets with an agency that provides protection for wealthy people won’t pay nearly enough to provide the amount she needs. There are several great characters in this story that behave consistently, including Charlie. I enjoyed this enough that I’ll look for the next in the series.

Dying to be Fathers: A Dai and Julia Mystery

5-star review of Dying to be Fathers by E. M. Swift-Hook and Jane Jago

A great addition to Swift-Hook and Jago’s stories about Dai and Julia in a Britain where the Romans were never defeated. This time Dai, his brother-in-law and nephew are kidnapped and Julia is about to give birth but is asked to temporarily take charge. So many of the usual characters are involved in the efforts to find the three and learn why they were taken. This has to be my favorite alternate history series.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Sunday excerpt

And now for something completely different, here's a bit from my kids' book, So You Want to be a Dragon:

On a sunny, warm day in the second month of summer, I was selling clams and oysters to hungry passersby in the central marketplace, when my little sister came running up to me. Her eyes blazed and her hair was wildly disheveled. Cora was seven going on forty, always trying to boss me even though I was six years older and a foot taller. We had the same dark brown hair and brown eyes, even the same turned up nose, sprinkled with freckles.
Cora tugged at my hand. “This way!”
“Where are we going? I still have shellfish to sell.” I pointed to what was left on the table at the front of my stall.
“Come on, Bekka.” The urgency in her voice was compelling.
I followed her down an alley, redolent with the odor of rotting vegetables and spoiled fish. The alleyway appeared to end in a high wall, but before we reached it, she turned left into an even narrower passage between two-story brick buildings I’d never been down before. About half-way to a dead end, she stopped abruptly and studied the side of the building on the left, then touched three chipped bricks.
A section of wall slid sideways, leaving a gap just wide enough for me to slip through, tearing my gray tunic in the process. Cora didn't have any difficulty following me. Once the section closed we were left in pitch black. I conjured up a light and held it out in both hands. It couldn't illuminate the darkest corners of the small room, but it was enough to see the dirt floor, a single chair with broken slats in the seat, and an old wooden table. The latter had once been painted green, but only flakes of paint remained. The skittering of rodents was the only indication of something alive in the room. At least the stench wasn't as bad as in the alley.
“We'll be safe here,” Cora said.
“Safe from what?”
“Safe from the dragons that burned everything on the south side of Lorando. A lot of the harbor is gone.”
“Cora, how did you know about this hidey-hole and the way in?”
“Derry told me about it last winter. Didn't he tell you?”
Derry was our neighbor, a year older than me, and always getting into trouble. No matter how many times our mother warned us to stay away from him, neither Cora nor I could.
I didn't answer. Instead, I inspected our surroundings. “How did you know about the dragons? And how long do we have to stay here?” I walked over to where my sister sat on the cold, hard ground.
“I saw some people running from the harbor, and asked one. She didn't stop but she shouted at me, telling me to take shelter. I...I couldn't find Mother, but you were just where I thought you'd be.”
I sat beside her. “How will we know when to leave?” Besides the fact that it was dark except for my light, we didn't have any water and, to eat, only the small sack of raw clams I'd grabbed.
“Give me your hands.” My little sister held hers out, palms up.
I placed my larger ones on them.
“Now close your eyes and what do you see?”
I gasped. In my mind was a vision of the south part of town, the harbor smoking but no longer aflame, and three huge dragons flying out to sea.
“It's safe to leave here now.” Cora let go of my hands and stood. She found the secret spot to push to open the way from the room and we stepped outside again.
It was as if the dragon attack had never happened. Almost. Smoke from the harbor had reached this central section of town. The smell of burnt wood and flesh was faint, but added to the putrid alley smells, it made my stomach queasy.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Holiday Book Reviews

Happy Holidays

The Fifth Doll

4-star review of The Fifth Doll by Charlie Holmberg

Well-written as all of Mrs. Holmberg’s books are, but I found it a bit disturbing. Very imaginative. Nesting dolls are part of Russian culture, but she has used them in a unique way. Matrona lives in an idyllic insular village but is attracted to a younger man although she’s betrothed to another. Returning a paintbrush to Slava thought to be a tradesman and living in the largest house in the village begins her journey. The bit of Russian history, retold in the middle of the book, was probably unnecessary although it explained part of Slava’s motivation. The mystery of the dolls in Slava’s home and of the village is revealed piece by piece the same way as the dolls are exposed from first to fifth.

Ye Olde Magick Shoppe

4-star review of Ye Olde Magick Shoppe by Claire Buss

Fun-filled as always when Ned Spinks and Jenni are on the scene. A mysterious magic shop has appeared in town and when the investigator and the sprite from The Rose Thief, well, investigate, they’re spirited away to a spot miles out of Roshaven. How will they get back and thwart the owner of the shop? A quick read guaranteed to bring a few laughs.

The Dragon Reborn (Wheel of Time, #3)

5-star review of The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan

The third book in the Wheel of Time series continues to follow the adventures of Rand, Perrin, Mat, Nynaeve and Egwene from the Twin Rivers, Elayne the daughter-heir to the throne of Andor, and Moiraine the Aes Sedai and Lan her Warder. Despite their fleeing Tar Valon in book 2, the girls are raised to the level of Accepted. They take off again after thirteen Black Ajah. Perrin is with Moiraine, Lan and Loial on his own path, and Mat with Thom (yes, Thom’s back!) but all of the paths converge, like the threads in a pattern. This is what it means to be Ta’veren.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Sunday Excerpt

Here's an excerpt from A Bite of the Apple, my award winning novella:

Have you ever wondered why I travel so much?” Aunt Gill asked in a low voice as we worked side-by-side at the sink.
I sensed her eyes on me. “I thought it was because you found it enlightening and enjoyable.” Glancing at her out of the corner of my eye, I rolled up my sleeves, but they were already wet with soap suds.
Well, it is that, surely. But I don't travel only for pleasure.” She paused as if unsure how to say something. “I'm sent by the Council.”
The High Council?” My voice squeaked in surprise. They'd ruled the land since democracy replaced the monarchy in our country more than a hundred years before. “What can you do for them?”
Oh, a bit of this and a bit of that.” She waved a hand vaguely.
I waited to see whether she'd say more, and eventually she did. “Often I act as a courier, carrying letters that cannot go through official channels.”
Oh!” That sounded infinitely more exciting than traveling only to see the sights. “I bet you've met the most interesting people!”
Yes, yes, I have.” She hesitated. What had she chosen to leave out?
Go on.” I forgot I had two dirty knives in my hands and stared at her.
She studied my face before she continued. “There are times when my task is more dangerous.” She said the next slowly, perhaps to be certain I understood the gravity. “I'm sent to obtain information our government needs. Or explore a place we've never visited before. Sometimes to establish a relationship with their government.” I must have looked stricken because she added, “I've been well-trained for my work, as you will be.”
Me?” The knives clattered as they fell into the basin.
Aunt Gill sighed. “I'm not getting any younger. It's time to prepare my successor. I've proposed you to the council as my replacement.”
I shook my head. “What do I know about these things? I've never been farther away from home than Romik except the two times we went to the seashore at Cobend. I...I grow vegetables and tend to animals.”
She nodded. “And so you must be trained. You'll return with me to the capital, and we'll begin your education.”