Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Tuesday Book Review on Wednesday

 


Five-star review of Still the Sun by Charlie N. Holmberg

Holmberg is one of my favorite fantasy writers and this latest novel didn’t disappoint. She’s explained that the idea for this story came to her in a dream. However she came up with the plot and world of this book, it was very unusual. I was with Pelnophe all the way through as she tried to understand the machines she was attempting to fix inside a tower a distance from Emgarden, the town where she lived. Were they artefacts of the ancients? Who were the two strange men who’d been living in the tower? There were so many mysteries that were gradually but satisfyingly resolved in this town where the shining sun alternated with an all-encompassing mist. There’s room left for a sequel I hope Holmberg will write.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Tuesday Book Review on Wednesday

 

Five-star review of Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen

On the surface this is a story about time travel, but it’s really more about the travelers. Kin Stewart travels for the Temporal Corruption Bureau (TCB) as a field agent and is stranded in the San Francisco Bay area in the 1990s after a malfunction. He’s built a life for himself, and the metabolizers that agents use to allow safe time travel cause him to forget that he’s actually from the mid-22nd century. He marries and settles down with his wife Heather and their daughter Miranda until ‘rescuers’ come for him eighteen years too late. They return him to 2042 – and his fiancée Penny – where he’s been gone only weeks, but he can’t forget Heather and Miranda. The novel is well-written and each of the characters is developed.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Tuesday Book Review on Wednesday

 

Four-star review of A Lingering Shadow : An Arabella Stewart Historical Mystery (Arabella Stewart Historical Mysteries Book 2) by D. S. Lang

Arabella, recently returned from France where she was a telephone operator for the Signal Corps in the Great War, is working to revive business at the golf resort start by her grandfather and his partner Mac, but the murder of a guest puts her plans on hold. She and her childhood friend Jax, now the town constable, must find the murderer if the resort and their small Ohio town can survive. The tension between Arabella and Jax is the same as in the first book, since Jax is still hesitant to reveal his part in her brother’s death during the war and she’s fighting the feelings she has for him. A few characters from the first book play a smaller part in this one, and I would have liked to see more of them, but the focus is on the two of them, as it should be, and on the motivation for the murder.  

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Tuesday Book Review on Wednesday

 


Four-star Review of Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

As a departure from his usual mystery novels, this YA book still retains the humor and Florida setting. Roy Eberhardt recently moved to a small town there after many years in Montana. He’s homesick and being bullied by a middle-school bully on the school bus, but he becomes fascinated by a barefoot boy who runs past the bus and doesn’t seem to go to the school. Meanwhile, a pancake conglomerate wants to build a new pancake house in an empty lot in the town, and barefoot boy has been sabotaging their plans for what turns out to be a legitimate reason. Although I’m not a member of the target group for the book, I did enjoy reading it.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Tuesday Book Review on Wednesday

 

Five-star Review of The Curious Secrets of Yesterday by Namrata Patel

Tulsi has been expected all her life to take over for her mother and grandmother as a spice healer in the Ayurveda tradition at their shop in Salem, Massachusetts, but she doesn’t think that’s the path she should take. The Gupta women also had a tradition of raising a daughter alone. The problem for Tulsi was that she didn’t know how else to live her life or what she wanted instead. But as she uncovers secrets about her mother and grandmother’s past and gets to know the owner of the new restaurant next door, her options become clearer. She also meets people from her mother and grandmother’s past in Chicago. Throughout the book, each of the characters is beautifully developed. The writing is engaging. As a bonus, it was fascinating to learn about various herbs and spices and their medicinal values.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Tuesday Book Review on Wednesday

 

Four-star review of The Ministry of Unladylike Activity 2: The Body in the Blitz by Robin Stevens

 In the follow-up series to the Murder Most Unladylike collection, Hazel’s little sister May is joined by her friends Nuala and Eric to investigate murders, this time in the London mews where they are living while they train to help the Ministry’s spies including Hazel, Daisy and their friend George during World War II. Yes, I figured out what was going on long before the kids but then they’re about 11 years old and this is only their second case. Stevens seems to know how pre-teens’ minds work and the chances they might take. The story is told by Nuala who, like Hazel in the first series, is the one documenting the cases. The characters in the story are interesting. Some of the situations are implausible, but fun to read about.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Tuesday Book Review on Wednesday

 

Four-star review of A Precarious Homecoming: An Arabella Stewart Historical Mystery Book 1

Arabella Stewart recently returned from France where she was part of the United States Signal Corps during the Great War and found her hometown in northern Ohio as well as the returning servicemen changed. She mourns her brother who died in battle as well as her parents who also died, in their case from the Spanish flu that swept the country. But when a middle-aged German-American is killed, suspicion falls on the former servicemen. Arabella, her brother’s friend Jax, who’s now the town Constable, and others investigate the murder. With so many suspects, it takes time to narrow down the list. Some of the dialogue seems stilted but considering the time period, it’s probably true to the way people spoke. I picked the right murderer long before the end, but so did Bella and Jax. They just had to prove it.  

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Tuesday Book Review on Wednesday

 


Four-star review for Redemption (Eva “Lightning Dance” Duran Book 1) by Deborah Ledford

Eva “Lightning Dance” Duran is a Taos policewoman searching for her best friend, Paloma, a renowned hoop dancer from the Taos Pueblo. Paloma and three other women, all addicts, have been missing for a while. Paloma’s teenage son, Kai, is also searching for his mother. The story is told from many POVs, including the woman holding the four women prisoner. Descriptions of the area around Taos and the Pueblo resounded with me because of a recent trip there to see the city and the gorge bridge, which pays a crucial part in the story. I’m also interested in stories that portray the lifestyle of any of the many Puebloans in New Mexico.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Tuesday Book Review

 


Four-star review of Bad Blood (Kate Shugak, #20) by Dana Stabanow

This book refers to other characters and incidents in this series but is really about the feud between two villages, one prosperous and the other fallen on hard times, and the deaths of three people. Kate, her half-wolf, half-dog companion, Mutt and her significant other, Park Ranger Jim travel to various places in their part of Alaska to determine who killed each of them. There’s a Romeo and Juliet-style romance involved along with bootlegging and drug dealing. The cliffhanger ending leaves quite a few questions unresolved. Stabenow’s writing is always excellent with great descriptions and character development.

 

 

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Tuesday Book Review

 


Five-star review of The Queen of Thieves (The Moonwind series Book 2) by Johan Rundberg

 In this second book of the series, Mika is curious about the extended absences of three other children from the Stockholm orphanage where she’s lived her entire. Her investigation shows they’re working for a woman who performs in the squares. Mika suspects she trained the kids to be pickpockets who operate while she has the audiences attention. But it’s more complicated than that. Mika is a wonderful spunky character. It was good to see some of the others from the first book in the series. The mystery behind her own background and that of an infant delivered to the orphanage is woven into the story and provides additional motivation for Mika.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Tuesday Book Review


Five-star review of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon

This book provides brilliant insight into how the mind of its first person narrator works. Christopher John Francis Boone is a fifteen-year-old autistic boy who needs a concrete understanding of what goes on around him. He can’t deal with abstracts or intangibles. The teacher at his special school asked him to write a book about the death of a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, since Christopher discovered the skewered body of the standard poodle late one night. He uses the book to detail his investigation of the murder the way his favorite detective, Sherlock Holmes might. When things get tough, rather than think about them, he does math puzzles in his head. He especially likes prime numbers and knows them up to 7057.

 Years before, Christopher’s father told him that his mother went into hospital and died from a heart attack. Since then, it was just Christopher and his father. And his pet rat. But as secrets are revealed, including who killed Wellington, Christopher must be brave enough to face some of his hardest tasks, including a solo trip on a crowded train and facing reality. His ability to cope with life increases throughout the story. A can’t-put-down book that left me feeling proud of him. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Tuesday Book Review




Four-star review of Boy of Chaotic Making (Whimbrel House Book 3) by Charlie N. Holmberg

In the third book of the series, Merritt, his now fiancée Hulda and Owein (in the body of a terrier) travel to London at the request of Queen Victoria who offers to put Owein and his magical abilities into the body of a boy who will one day marry Lady Cora, who is a relative to the Queen. As usual, many of the large cast are well-developed characters. Moral issues involved in the story, and that Merritt in particular wrestles with, forced me to downgrade this novel from a full five-star review, but the writing, as is usual for Holmberg, is excellent. I do enjoy reading about Merritt and Hulda and the development of their relationship, their magical abilities and uses. And I do love how Owein’s soul continues to grow no matter what form it’s in. I’ll look forward to more books in the series. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Tuesday Book Review

 


Five-star review of The Bad Weather Friend by Dean Koontz

This was a fun paranormal/horror story, or rather two stories intertwined. One is the story of super-nice guy Benny Catspaw’s childhood filled with psychopathic people including the wife of the headmaster of the boarding school he was sent to. The other is his present day where he’s just lost his job and was about to lose his girlfriend. In the second, the intervention of a seven-foot tall Craggle named Spike as well as a girl named Harper Harper help him through a series of confrontations with people who abhor his niceness. I always enjoy Koontz’s books, but this was one of, if not THE best ones.

Tuesday Book Review on Wednesday

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Five-star review of The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle Book 1) by Patrick Rothfuss

 

This first in a two-book series is a prime example of a story within a story. We spend the first five or six chapters firmly in the current time for innkeeper Kote, his student Bast and Chronicler before we begin to get into the main history of Kvothe. Some would say it’s not the main story, but I read it as such. We only get his boyhood and early teens in this book, but so much happens. His early days with a band of Ruh, his efforts to stay alive in Tarbean, and his time in Imre and at the University with his first love Denna weaving through. But the last chapters show how important the framing of the story is. The writing is excellent, the way it plays out the story kept me reading when I should have been doing other things. Every time I picked the book up, it transported me to the world that Rothfuss created, a world filled with magic and magic users, myths and legends. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Tuesday Book Review


 Four-star review of Last Night by Luann Rice

 

Really, this should be three and a half. It was a good enough story about the search for who killed artist Maddie, known as MC and abducted her little daughter CeCe. Detective Conor Reid and his girlfriend Kate arrive at the legendary Ocean House on the Rhode Island shore for a romantic getaway but instead follow Maddie’s sister Hadley so they’re witnesses to her discovery of the body in the snow not far from the hotel. I most enjoyed the parts from the little girl’s point of view. Some of the dialogue is stilted or at least pedestrian. I was routing for the good guys, but I didn’t care a whole lot about any of them.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Tuesday Book Reviews


Four-star review of Night Owl by Andrew Mayne

Retired spy Brad Trasker is hired to protect Kylie Conner, CEO, designer and pilot of a next-generation aircraft. But when the plane blows up before Kylie can board,  all threats against her become real. Most of the action is fast paced, the main characters (Brad and Kylie) are developed if not entirely likeable and there is some sense of satisfaction at the end, but the big baddy pulling the strings gets away, forcing readers who care enough to read the next book in the series. I’m not sure I do. Trasker’s use of a memory palace to discover who’s behind the events is intriguing.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Tuesday Book Review


Five-star review of Six Memos for the Next Millenium by Italo  Calvino

 There are only five memos or rather lectures that Calvino wrote in 1985 but never was able to deliver due to his untimely death. They cover what he calls literary values of lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility and multiplicity in a far-ranging references to literature, myth and folklore. A sixth was added in the class I attended by the writer running the course. The titles of each section could have been something broader because the content covered so many aspects of each word. Perhaps better titles would have been weight, pacing, precision, imagination or vision, and proliferation. There’s so much to unpack in this little book. I’ll have to reread it to get the bits I didn’t the first time around.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Tuesday Book Review on Wednesday


 Four-star review of Earth Lost (Earth Rise Book 2) by Daniel Arenson

 

I don’t often read space operas for the same reason I gave this four rather than five stars: how grotesque the aliens usually are and how many humans are killed in battles with them. On the other hand, Marco Emery, the reluctant soldier, is called Poet by his comrades in arms and there is a poetic element to the writing. The philosophical thoughts Marco has after each battle, after each death are unusual. This is only the second novel in a long series. I can only imagine where it goes from here. How much can the survivors take in their fight against the scum? I’ll need a while to recover before I read book three.



Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Tuesday Book Review


Four-star review of Aeon Burn Book 2 of 3: Aeon by Matthew Mather and Dale M. Nelson

This second book in the series was published after Matthew Mather’s untimely and tragic death. That’s somewhat obvious in the switch towards the end from showing this postapocalyptic story to telling what happened over several months to the characters and the world. I hope the third book in the series develops more slowly, showing the emotions of each of the characters we’ve come to love or hate. In this story, we follow Max’s efforts in the Amazon to learn what his childhood friend Ben Belloc is doing at the Colony, his pregnant wife Tali’s search for a safe place to have their baby, and physicist Xin Rhou’s trek across the melting Antarctic from one destroyed research station to another. They’re all dealing with the rising temperatures due to supernova Aeon’s detonation in the atmosphere. Most of the book was exciting and I will read the third book.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Tuesday Review on Wednesday

 


Four-star review of Live Wire by Harlan Coben

 Myron Bolitar’s search for his kid brother and his attempts to help his clients, former tennis star Suzze T and her husband Lex, is a twisty but solid story. However, there were just too many instances where we got to witness his decision-making process in detail, and then he did something that wasn’t, or at least not exactly, one of the options. OTOH, I know one of the themes of the story had to do with making wrong decisions and taking the wrong path, so that aspect plays into it. Each of the characters is well developed, the story is well-written and the descriptions were top notch. This is the last of the Myron section of a very long series and somewhat of a turning point before the beginning of the YA series featuring his nephew Mickey.