Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Tuesday book reviews


 







Four-star review of Beast by Anna Willett

Two well-written horror short stories make up this book. The first, Last Call, is a good reason to never visit a haunted house, even with a friend. In the second, The Widow, Dan’s experiences may have scared him straight. Both stories are filled with vivid descriptions. Since I’m not a fan of horror stories, if I hadn’t been given an ARC of these to read, I wouldn’t have picked this up. Perfect for this time of year, though.










Five-star review of New Worlds: Rogue Star #2 by Jasper T. Scott

Like the first one in the series, this is a fast-moving story, this time focusing on Logan’s attempts to find his son and on the amazing technology of the robotic Screechers who have invaded Earth. Logan, his wife and daughter are living in a hidden underwater city, but his son was left behind. Logan especially is a very believable character with many choices to make. Some of those get him into desperate situations. The wrap-up is far-fetched, but after all the twists and turns, why not?

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Tuesday Book Review

 









Three-star review of Key Lime Die by Summer Prescott


Like the first book in the series, the first half of this one was build-up. The murder didn’t occur until the halfway point. As expected from that build-up, Marilyn was suspected of killing her rival pie maker. She did solve the crime, I’ll give her that. I like Marilyn and love key lime pie, but I don’t think I’ll read more stories about her misadventures.


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Tuesday Book Review on Wednesday

 










Five-star review of Rogue Star: Frozen Earth by Jasper T. Scott

I always enjoy this kind of science fiction story, especially if it’s as well-done as this one. A rogue asteroid is hurtling toward Earth. It will cause another ice age, affecting the northern half of the U.S.

Named for Richard Greenhouse who discovered it, the rogue hides an invasion by alien robots. Richard’s sister Kate, brother-in-law Logan, and their family don’t take his warnings that it’s coming until it’s almost too late for them to fly from New Jersy to San Antonio and join him in the compound he created. But the story really picks up after they do. The characters are real, and their reactions to the invasion by the aliens before the rogue arrives are also real. I’ve already purchased the second book in the series and will read it very soon.


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Tuesday review on Wednesday

 








Four-star review of Blowout by Catherine Coulter

Savich and Sherlock are on the case again, this time after one of the Supreme Court Justices is murdered in the Supreme Court Library. This time, they are aided by police detective Ben Raven and reporter Callie Markham, who’s also the step-daughter of the murdered man. The suspense is riveting as one after another, the Justice’s law clerks are killed too. The side story involving Savich seeing the ghost of a woman dead for decades detracted from the main story. And I still want to know which of the women was the lover of the mass murderer who killed the Justice. This was much better than the historical romance written by the same author.


Tuesday, September 22, 2020

 Tuesday Book Reviews









New Mexico Remembers 9/11 anthology

This anthology includes poetry and prose from current New Mexico residents recalling where they were on 9/11 and what the events that day mean to them. Whether they were in New York, Washington D.C. or somewhere else, they each have a story to tell. Whether moving or funny, the reminiscences are all well-written. I didn't rate this since I have a story in it.










Four-star review of Waking (Clockwork Twist #1) by Emily Thompson

Twist is a small Londoner who has a gift that allows him to repair anything mechanical. He's hopeless around real people. When he's whisked away in an airship, powered by steam and hot air balloons, his focus is on finding a clockwork princess and bringing her back to life. Along the way, he has adventures and meets a strange collection of people. He finds the only one who can touch him without disasterous consequences is Jonah, a young man whose gift is the ability to see the future of anyone he looks at. The two form a connection. This steampunk novel, the first of a long series, was a quick read. The writing is good, the characters and situations interesting. I'll read more about Twist.


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

 









Four-star review of A Lime to Kill by Summer Prescott


The murder didn’t happen until 45% into the story, but I enjoyed reading about Tiara’s decision to help her mother Marilyn run her key lime pie store in Key West. The characters were fun. Marilyn, the narrator of the story, was especially well-rounded. There were enough hints about her and her daughter for me to know this series has a lot to explore. I’m not a particular fan of cozies or romances, but I’ll be happy to read more about them and their delicious shop. And the recipes included at the end were an added bonus.


Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Tuesday Book Review

 A Girl Called Ari

Five-star review of A Girl Called Ari by P. J. Sky


This dystopian YA story grabbed me from the start and carried me onward. A true page-turner. The mayor’s daughter is kidnapped from a walled city of spires and towers. She finds herself in the wastelands near the salt mines where another teenaged girl, the one named Ari, toils and lives. The two set off together to get back to the city, encountering numerous perils, both natural and man-made. The author avoided going for the expected happily ever after ending for both girls. I’ll never doubt an author’s tweet about her book again. I’ll look for more by this author in the future.



Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Tuesday Book Reviews

 

Five-star review of The Secret Servant by Daniel Silva


A page-turning thriller about the role an Israeli spy and art restorer, Gabriel Alon, plays in the rescue of the daughter of the American Ambassador to England after she is abducted by a jihadist group. The story takes place in England, Holland, Denmark, Egypt and Israel. This is the seventh in a series but the first I’ve read, yet I didn’t have any problems following the interaction among characters who obviously took part in earlier novels. An emphasis is made on the fact that the growing numbers of Muslims throughout Europe include members of radical groups.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

 

Murder Aboard the Flying Scotsman: a 1920s cozy historical mystery (Ginger Gold Mystery Book 8) by [Lee Strauss]

Four-star review of Murder on the Flying Scotsman by Lee Stauss

I’ve enjoyed Strauss’s cozy mysteries before. This one, in the Lady Ginger Gold series, is as good as the others. A head has been found in the mail car aboard the Flying Scotsman train taking Ginger and her new husband, Inspector Nigel Reed, for their honeymoon in Edinburgh. All of the first class passengers become suspects as the jewels of one of them are stolen. Those cars are separated from the rest of the train, and the Reeds assist the York police in solving the crimes, which are related to the 1855 Gold Robbery.


Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Tuesday Book Reviews on Wednesday

The Killing Fog (The Grave Kingdom, #1)

Five-star review of Killing Fog by Jeff Wheeler


Quite a bit different from the Kingfountain series by the author I’d read over the years, and even more engrossing. I enjoyed reading about Young Bingmei, her connection to the Phoenix Blade, her freeing of the Dragon King and all the other people involved in her story. First in a series, this novel was full of action, tension, world- and character-building. According to the author, his visits to the glaciers in Alaska and to China gave him the ideas for this story and that shows. The fight scenes are reminiscent of Martial Arts movies, especially when Bingmei flies over her opponents and performs well-practiced maneuvers with staff and sword. I look forward to the other titles in the series. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

 The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression

Four-star review of The Emotion Thesaurus second edition by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi


An improvement over the last version of the book I used a few years ago. Expanded to 130 entries so you can find most emotions you can think of, and for each a long list of physical signals and behaviors as well as shorter ones of internal sensation and mental responses. Acute and long-term responses are also addressed. This is a good reference book for when you want to show a characters emotional response to something that occurred.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Tuesday Book Reviews on Wednesday

Four-star review of The Pythagorian Solution by Joseph Badal

This was an exciting story set on the Greek island of Samos. Lots of action and good descriptions of the beautiful island. The good guys are well developed but, though there are short chapters about what the bad ones are planning, their characters are all charicatures. I could have done without the rape scene too. The basis for the story, that a fisherman has such a good understanding of geometry that he can leave the clue to leads the good guys to find a treasure aboard a Turkish boat that sank at the end of WW II, is a leap. But the tension built throughout, so this book was a page-turner.


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Tuesday book review on Wednesday


Short one this week for a shorter book

Trixie Finds Her People

Four-star review of Trixie Finds Her People by RJ the Story Guy


Cute book of dog stories for kids about how a dog adjusted to a new family and the real and imaginary adventures she had. Partly told through the eyes of the brown rescue dog. Good descriptions of the dogs behavior with emphasis on how much scent plays in a dog’s perceptions.


Tuesday book review on Wednesday

Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline


Although this was slow to build up to the event that shaped the lives of so many people, especially when we know one of the five teens will die, the second half of the book was full of action and suspense. Secrets kept for twenty years come out one by one. The method of writing each chapter from the POV of each of a few characters works here. A few of the deaths seemed unnecessary. I’ve always enjoyed Scottoline’s work, starting with the series and more recently a few of the thrillers, but this didn’t quite measure up to the rest.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Tuesday book reviews on Wednesday

CyberSpace (CyberStorm #2)



4-star review of Cyberspace by Matthew Mather

I was eager to read this near future novel since I’ve enjoyed all of Mr. Mather’s books I’ve read, including the first in this series, Cyberstorm. As I read it, I realized I didn’t remember the last parts of that novel. This one was full of the same kind of suspense and I do care for Mike and his family and friends and what happens to them, but I didn’t see much character development. Here he is going through yet another world-wide catastrophe and he doesn’t learn anything new about himself. But I learned a lot of neat stuff from the discussions about how many satellites are orbiting our world, ane what would happen if they were damaged, turned off or brought down by a physical or cyber attack. The most important for me was the explanations about how the time signals they send are used in diverse ways, since that relates to my own novels.

The Valcourt Heiress (Medieval Song, #7)

Three star review of The Valcourt Heiress by Catherine Coulter

I’ve read several of Coulter’s FBI thrillers, but this was the first historical romance. Set in King Edward’s regency, the story of Merry, the titular character, and Garron of Kersey included a few page-turning sections, wast mostly very wordy. That he didn’t realize at first that the Merry who joined him at court was not his Merry didn’t sit right with me. And a twin? How cliché. I almost didn’t care whether Arthur was dead or alive. Some sections were better written and developed than others, especially the beginning, but it sort of fell apart toward the end.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Tuesday Book Reviews

The Brotherhood of the Rose (Mortalis, #1)



5 star review of The Brotherhood of the Rose by David Morrell

This book taught me more about creating tension and writing action scenes than all the talks I’ve seen David Morrell give. Two orphans, Saul and Chris, were mentored by the mysterious Eliot and trained to be assassins, supposedly for the CIA. Years after Eliot gave the boys their first Baby Ruth candy bar, they are being hunted by every espionage group in the world. Loyalty is tested by betrayal leading to revenge. The story moves swiftly from the rockies in Colorado to Washington, D.C., Bangkok to London, Paris to the Canadian rockies and other places along the way. Most of the time a page-turner with a few sections of exposition.


ICE by Kevin Tinto


4 star review of Ice by Kevin Tinto
From the cliffs in the Gila Mountains of New Mexico to Antarctica, this novel was full of action and emotion. The Native American mystery starts with the discovery of an unknown dwelling at the bottom of a cliff and kept my interest through this story. The main characters of anthropologist Dr. Leah Andrews and her mountain-climbing husband Jack are only partly rounded, and I expect will continue to show what their made of in book 2. The geography and history of southwestern New Mexico are skewed somewhat. A cliff dwelling is known in the area, and the muddling of Navajo and Pueblo Indians is disturbing, but since the novel is part science fiction, I can accept that, as if it was alternate history. I’m interested enough to read on to find out what happens to the Native American girl.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Tuesday Book Review

The Motive (The Curtis Chronicles,#1)


The Motive: Cycle of Violence by Joseph Badal


Good plot about an Albuquerque doctor who’s called to Hawaii upon the death of his sister. He doesn’t believe it’s a suicide, as the police claim, and sets out to prove it. Along the way, he meets a woman his sister worked with to help kids, and when they’re both threatened, enlists the aid of a former pal. My only gripe is the novel spends too much time on the bad guys’ stories and also drags out the ending – which segues to the next book in the series. Still, it was full of action and adventure, tension and plot development and several great characters.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Tuesday Book Review

Cloak of Darkness


Four-star review for Cloak of Darkness by Helen MacInnes

I hadn’t read any of the authors espionage thrillers for many years, although they used to be favorites of mine. It was like the proverbial old shoe, fitting me and my current mood. I would have rated this higher, just for the way she creates suspense, but it’s dated in so many ways, mainly because it’s set in the late 1970’s. Still, I enjoyed reading about Robert Renwick again and seeing what he was up to this time. When he’s told his name is on the Minus List, he travels to New York. For Claudel, the story starts in Djibouti. After Robert stows his young wife away in a safe place in Virginia, he and Claudel meet up in the Swiss and French alps in pursuit of a previous foe and a new one.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Tuesday Book Review

The Interspecies Poker Tournament: The Roshaven Case Files No. 27

5-star review of The Interspecies Poker Tournament: The Roshaven Case Files No. 27 by Claire Buss


Another fun read about thief-catcher Ned Spinks and his assistant Jenni the sprite. This time, they’re after a mustachioed shape-shifter who take the form of each kind of fae creature before he kills one of them. Jenni’s loyalty is torn between Ned and Momma K, the highest authority of all the fae, who has tasked her with finding the murderer. We learn more about each of the fae communities along the way, and a get a quick lesson on Texas Hold’em. If you’re looking for a quick and delightful read, this is the book for you.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Tuesday Book Review


Nemesis Games (The Expanse, #5)


4 star review of Nemesis Games by James S. A. Corey

The crew of the Roci are back from the Ring and the discoveries on the other side, but they’re separated. Amos is on Earth, Alex on Mars, Naomi trying to reunite with her son, and Jim waiting on repairs to his ship on Tycho Station. With alternating chapters about each of them, their various stories combine to tell their stories, not just their present, but their pasts. Nemesis Games takes us back mainly to the inner planets.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Tuesday Book Review


Excelsior (The Excelsior Journey Book 1)

3 star review of Excelsior by George Sirois

Teenager Matt Perry has written a comic strip about the hero Excelsior ever since he touched a sword, found during an archaeological dig. Turns out the sword holds the essence of the actual Excelsior, who saved his world Denab IV from the Krunations. And Matt was chosen to absorb the essence as many have before. He’s needed to free the Denabians. This novel is full of exciting adventures and situations, dear to the hearts of teenage boys. Aside from occasionally lapses, the writing was good, but I knew how it would end, especially since it’s the first of a series.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Tuesday Book Review on Wednesday

A Conventional Corpse (Claire Malloy, #13)


5-star review of A Conventional Corpse by Joan Hess

I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed reading the Claire Malloy mysteries. Somehow I’d missed this one in the past. Claire, a bookstore owner, is roped into hosting a mystery writer’s convention in Farberville at the local college and a quaint old house turned hotel. The chaos that ensues is unavoidable, given that the four female and one male writers are frenemies, and that few of them get along with an editor who crashes the party. Taking a back-seat to all this is Claire’s relationship with police detective Peter Rosen. Toss in a cat, Claire’s daughter and her friend, a vegan hotel owner, and a few others, making this a fun story from start to finish, the kind of book I need at a time like this. I understand the Kindle version of the book has many spelling errors, but I didn’t notice any in the print version.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Tuesday Book Review

Drop Dead Crime: Mystery and Suspense from the Leading Ladies of Murder



4 star review of Drop Dead Crime: Mystery and Suspense from the Leading Ladies of Murder

An anthology of stories from four writers I hadn’t read before and one of my all time favorites in this genre, Julie Smith. I enjoyed a couple more than the others, but overall, these were good stories with female protagonists and intriguing plots. These are obviously experienced writers who know how to write. The one I particularly liked was the last one by Leslie Wolfe featuring FBI agent Tess Winnett.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Tuesday Book Review

The Girl at the Border


Four star review of The Girl at the Border by Leslie Archer

I would have given this book five stars, because it was well-written and engrossing, but the author didn’t seem to know whether this was a psychological thriller, a murder mystery, action-adventure or something else entirely. It didn’t help that we jump without warning between the main characters, not only in distance but time. I enjoy modular stories like that, but usually there’s some indication at the beginning of a module that there’s been a change. The blurb begins: Renowned archaeologist Richard Mathis is half a world away on the island of Crete when he learns his daughter, Bella, has gone missing. Within twenty minutes, hes on his way back to the States. Two days later, hes dead. But in the end, it’s really about the parallels between Richard’s assistant Angela and Bella.