Tag: reading

Book Review: Whispers of the Dead, by Spencer Kope

whispers
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Whispers of the Dead
Author:  Spencer Kope
Genre:  Thriller, murder mystery
Rating:  4.5/5

Magnus “Steps” Craig and his partner, Jimmy, are part of a special FBI tracking unit, called in to solve the tough cases. Only three people know, but Steps can see “shine,” a unique color trail left where a person has touched. This ability makes Steps very good at tracking and finding killers.

But this case is different. The killer is more cold-blooded than any Steps and Jimmy have ever seen. The only part of the victims found are their feet, left in a portable cooler for the next target to find.

The first body found was left in the home of a federal judge in El Paso, but when another body is found in Baton Rouge, Steps realizes the killer has big plans, and the FBI has almost no clues. It will take every scrap of ability Steps and Jimmy have to unearth clues before the Icebox Killer strikes again.

I didn’t realize this was part of a series until I finished reading it, but I had no trouble getting up to speed. The characters make this novel! Steps’ ability is unique and interesting, but he’s a complex guy with a lot of layers, and his deadpan humor and snarkiness were a joy to read. The relationship between him and Jimmy, and the rest of the team, was well-developed and believable, and I found myself glued to the page, watching the characters interact. This is not your boring, predictable police-procedural/forensic mystery, but a detailed story about fascinating characters with great relationships.

Spencer Kope is a former Russian linguist with the Navy. Whispers of the Dead is his new novel, the second in the Special Tracking Unit series.

(Galley provided by St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

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Book Review: The Fairies of Sadieville, by Alex Bledsoe

fairies
Image belongs to Tor books.

Title:  The Fairies of Sadieville
Author:  Alex Bledsoe
Genre:  Fantasy…ish.
Rating:  4/5

When graduate students Justin and Veronica find an old film cannister with three words on it, “This is real,” they aren’t prepared for the film inside, which shows a girl transforming into a winged fairy. Justin is desperate to find a topic for his thesis, so the two set out to find the mysterious Sadieville, a town that vanished off the face of the earth over a century ago.

In rural Tennessee, everyone seems to have secrets. Secrets that point to the Tufa, a clannish group with dark skin, dark hair, and white teeth. They all look similar and they seem to have an unusual affinity for music. But not everyone likes Justin and Veronica asking questions, although Tucker Carding seems happy to help them—for reasons unknown.

Soon, Justin and Veronica find a secret, hidden for years, that will have all the Tufa asking a question they never dreamed of:  if they could go back to their homeland of Tir na nOg, would they?

I should probably say that this is the first Tufa novel I’ve read. That really didn’t matter, as I was able to follow the story/history with no problems at all. This read like smart literary fiction with a fantasy element. The setting here is tremendously well-done, with Appalachia full of living, breathing life on every page. I really enjoyed reading this, and highly recommend it!

Alex Bledsoe grew up in Tennessee and now lives in Wisconsin. He’s the author of the Eddie Lacrosse novels, the Firefly Witch novels, the Memphis Vampires novels, and the Tufa novels. His newest novel, The Fairies of Sadieville is the final Tufa novel.

(Galley provided by Tor Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills, by Jennifer Haupt

10,000 hills
Image belongs to Central Avenue Publishing.

Title:  In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills
Author:  Jennifer Haupt
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  5/5

In 1960s Atlanta, Lillian Carlson was swept along in the Civil Rights Movement; listening to Martin Luther King speak and working to see change. She fell in love with Henry, a photographer intent on capturing the impact of solitary moments, but violence tore them apart. Heartbroken, Lillian moved to Rwanda to run an orphanage, making a difference in the lives of children.

Nadine is a young Tutsi woman whose life was shattered by the Rwandan genocide. While she seeks to make her dreams come true, the violence of the past haunts her present and her future, and the secret she keeps could endanger everyone around her.

Rachel is Henry’s daughter, reeling from the loss of her mother and her baby, and desperate to find the father who abandoned her years ago. She knows she needs to heal, but she doesn’t expect to find so much hope in a country scarred by hatred and violence.

This book. This book. It started out slowly, but I kept reading because of the characters. I loved all three women and wanted to see each of them find peace and happiness. The Rwandan culture comes to life on the pages, as the author delves into the horrors that happened between the Tutsi and the Hutus—and the survivors’ search for peace. I knew almost nothing about the genocide before reading this, so that part of it horrified me, but there is so much hope in this novel, and the beauty of Rwanda fills the pages.

Jennifer Haupt is a journalist and an author. In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills is her first novel.

(Galley provided by Central Avenue Publishing in exchange for an honest review.)

 

What I Read in March (2018)

Books Read in March: 14

Books Read for the Year: 40 /150

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck (classic). This was kind of a “meh” read for me. I likee reading about the culture, but I just could not care about the characters.

Go:  A Coming of Age Novel, by Kazuki Kaneshiro and Takimi Nieda (cultural). I enjoyed this, well, as the title says, coming-of-age novel, set in Japan and exploring the conflict about being raised Korean in a Japanese society, embracing your identity, and honesty.

God is Able, by Priscilla Shirer (spiritual). Excellent read.

Wreck My Life, by Mo Isom (spiritual book). I reviewed Isom’s most recent book last month, and decided I had to read her first book immediately. She writes with an honesty and openness that is truly moving.

For Review

southern discomfort

Southern Discomfort, by Caroline Fardig. The first in a lovely cozy mystery series + Southern fiction (one of my loves). When Quinn’s best friend Drew’s brother is found murdered and Drew and Quinn herself fall under police suspicion, they decide to find a better suspect for the police. Quinn’s just not sure how her ability to be polite in all circumstances–Southern to her core–will come in handy. This was a great read!

in search of us

In Search of Us, by Ava Dellaira. This is about Angie, a 17-year-old biracial girl who never knew the father her mother said is dead. But when Angie finds out she has an uncle, who her mother said was also dead, Angie starts to doubt everything her mother has told her. This is also the story of Angie’s mom, Marilyn, who fell in love at age 17 with James, someone who encouraged her to live her own life, not the life her mother wanted her to. This book is wonderful, yet sad.

HeartBetweenUs2

The Heart Between Us, by Lindsay Harrel. Megan spent her entire childhood wishing for a new heart, while her twin sister, Crystal, got to do everything. Now, three years after a heart transplant, Megan sets out to complete the bucket list of her heart donor, and takes Crystal with her, as the two struggle to heal their fractured relationship, as well as trying to sort out their own lives. A lovely, uplifting book!

In Sight of Stars

In Sight of Stars, by Gae Polisner. Klee lost his world when he lost his father. Now he’s living in the suburbs with his mom when he loses control and ends up in a mental facility. To recover, he must learn the truth about his father, his mother, and his whole life. Loved this!

rosie colored glasses

Rosie Colored Glasses, by Brianna Wolfson. Another read about mental illness, told from a child’s perspective. I found the adults in this book to be a bit unbelievable, with the way they completely ignored 11-year-old Willow and her struggles with her mother’s manic-depressive life.

Paris by the Book, by Liam Callanan. (review forthcoming) Leah Eady’s husband vanished, leaving her with their two daughters. Not knowing what happened, but chasing down clues her husband left—maybe, possibly—Leah goes to Paris and starts a new life in the bookstore her husband wrote about. But she sees his everywhere in her mind, and her daughters want to know when their dad is coming back. I am ambivalent about this book. Solid, evocative writing, but I just don’t get the characters and their motivations. Strong does of denial here as well.

Hurricane Season, by Lauren K. Denton. (review forthcoming) Two sisters, both intent on chasing their dreams, have trouble dealing with their pasts to embrace their futures—while a hurricane looms. I enjoyed this book a lot. The sisters’ relationship is so well-done!

Just Because

Everlife, by Gena Showalter. This is the third book in the Everlife series, and I loved it! I love the idea of this series, which is, in many ways, biblical. Ten is an amazing character (and I love her blue hair), and the choices and hardships she faces are overwhelming. Fantastic writing and characterization as always from Showalter, and a unique setting and plot to back it up.

Left Unfinished

The Flight Attendant, by Chris Bohjalina. Made it about 15% though this novel about a flight attendant who wakes up beside the murdered body of her one night stand. Unlikable characters are one thing I can’t deal with, and Cassandra was so willfully self-destructive I couldn’t take any more.

Indecent, by Corinne Sullivan. Unsympathetic main character. Why are you doing this crazy thing?

Strangers, by David Alexander Robertson. I liked the difference in protagonist and setting, but the author was playing his cards a little too close to his vest:  if I don’t have any idea what the big secret from the past is, the characters’ actions now make no sense.

A Guide for Murdered Children, by Sarah Sparrow. I read quite a bit of this, but realized I had NO idea what was going on, so I stopped.

Protogenesis, by Alysia Helming. Again, I had no idea what was going on, and the character just wasn’t believable enough to pull that off.

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for QuickLit.

Book Review: Rosie Colored Glasses, by Brianna Wolfson

rosie colored glasses
Image belongs to MIRA.

Title:  Rosie Colored Glasses
Author:  Brianna Wolfson
Genre:  Fiction (not quite YA).
Rating:  3/5

Eleven-year-old Willow hates that her parents are divorced. She hates that she and her brother have two separate lives:  one filled with rules and sternness when they’re with their father, Rex; and one filled with laughter and crazy rituals when they’re with their mother, Rosie.

Willow knows how much her mother loves her. Every Spaghetti Sunday, late-night room-painting endeavor, or costumed reenactment of Rocky Horror Picture Show proves it. Her father just yells or gives her more lists to follow. Why can’t she live with her mother all the time?

Then her mother’s behavior changes, and Willow finds herself waking up at her father’s house when she’d fallen asleep at her mother’s. Her mother no longer wants to paint or sing or dance. Her father grows sterner. Willow has no idea what’s wrong, she just wants her old life back.

I wanted to love this book. It takes a heavy topic and explores it from the viewpoint of child who doesn’t know what’s going on. Rosie is a vibrant character, full of music and color and life, while Rex is rigid and rule-bound. The characters are very black-and-white, and the moments when they act out-of-character aren’t explained, just glossed-over. Perhaps the child’s viewpoint made this hard to relate to, but I kept stumbling over the wording and how everyone left Willow so clueless as to what was really going on.

Brianna Wolfson lives in San Francisco. Rosie Colored Glasses is her debut novel.

(Galley provided by MIRA in exchange for an honest review.)

 

Book Review: In Sight of Stars, by Gae Polisner

In Sight of Stars
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  In Sight of Stars
Author:  Gae Polisner
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4.5/5

Seventeen-year-old Klee’s life has changed immensely in the past year. He’s living in the suburbs. He’s in love with the volatile and free-spirited Sarah. And his beloved father, who taught him about art and explored New York City with him, is dead.

When life with his ice queen mother gets to be too much and an unexpected betrayal sends him over the edge, Klee ends up in the “Ape Can,” a psychiatric hospital for teens.

Klee must deal with his past if he’s ever to get back to his real life, but that means exploring the darkness and the secrets he doesn’t even know are there. Pushing people away has always been the easy way out, but Klee will have to learn to trust if he’s ever to heal.

In Sight of Stars alternates between the present, when Klee is hospitalized, and the past, events leading up to his breakdown. Klee is a fascinating character:  he’s broken, but he longs for wholeness and belonging, despite the blows the world keeps raining on him. This is a look at mental illness from the inside, gazing at the hurt and confusion that ripped one boy’s life to shreds, and how he learns to knit those shreds back into something whole.

I enjoyed reading this, and loved learning the truth right along with Klee, as he searches for the meaning in his past, his present, and his future. There’s a little bit of Klee’s brokenness in all of us. And, hopefully, his strength as well.

Gae Polisner is a family law attorney. She writes women’s fiction and young adult fiction. In Sight of Stars is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Coincidence Makers, by Yoav Blum

thecoincidencemakers
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  The Coincidence Makers
Author:  Yoav Blum
Genre:  A mix of several:  mystery, romance, literary fiction-ish.
Rating:  3.5/5

We’ve all had something happen “by coincidence,” like running into your childhood best friend on the side of the street when you have a flat tire. Or meeting someone new in a coffee shop after you knock your drink off the table onto their shoes. But what if those things don’t just happen by chance?

Guy, Emily, and Eric are Coincidence Makers:  they work for a secret organization, creating the coincidences they are assigned through complex manipulations and machinations. Sometimes, they create a love match. Sometimes, they just give someone the push they need to live their dreams.

Guy used to be an Imaginary Friend, and he fell in love with another Imaginary Friend. He’s never forgotten her, and thoughts of her haunt every day, so he tries his best to ignore Emily’s overtures. But when Guy is assigned a coincidence that’s higher than anything he’s done before, he realizes even his hidden world has deeper secrets.

I liked this book. The concept is unique and fascinating—even if the “science” is sometimes a bit over my head. Guy, Emily, and Eric are characters I liked, and they would be fun to hang out with. The book is dreamy, and reading it felt like floating…or I probably would have enjoyed it more (not the right type of book for my mindset at the time), but it was a good, creative read.

Yoav Blum is an Israeli author and software developer whose novels have become international bestsellers. The Coincidence Makers is his newest novel.

(Galley provided by St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Southern Discomfort, by Caroline Fardig

southern discomfort
Image belongs to Alibi Publishing.

Title:  Southern Discomfort
Author:  Caroline Fardig
Genre:  Mystery, Southern Fiction
Rating:  4/5

Quinn Bellandini runs a B&B with her grandfather, her sister Delilah, and the ghost of her late uncle Frank—whom everyone but Quinn believes in. She bakes scones, keeps the B&B running smoothly, and plays guitar in a band with her friends. She doesn’t even have time to date.

Her friend Drew runs a restaurant down the street with his brother, Jason, a surly, argumentative guy who fights with everyone—including his wife. When Quinn finds Jason’s body one night, she’s horrified—but not really surprised, considering how everyone disliked Jason.

What does surprise her is her presence near the top of the list of suspects, along with Drew. When Drew suggests they try to uncover a more-likely suspect to save their own necks, Quinn reluctantly agrees. She’s more suited to baking than investigating, but she finds her talent for killing people with kindness to thinly disguise her pointed remarks comes in handy. And she’ll need every trick she has to stay out of jail while she searches for a murderer.

I thoroughly enjoyed Southern Discomfort. I’ve never been to Savannah, but as a born-and-raised Southern girl, I found the setting believable and familiar (especially the popularity of sweet tea). Quinn and Delilah’s relationship was fantastic, and their interactions made the book even better! A great read for cozy mystery fans and anyone who loves Southern fiction.

Caroline Fardig is the author of the Lizzie Hart series, the Java Jive series, and the Ellie Matthews series. Southern Discomfort is her newest novel, the first in the Southern B&B mystery series.

(Galley provided by Alibi in exchange for an honest review.)

 

What I Read in February 2018

Books Read in February: 14

Books Read for the Year:  28/150

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

A Wrinkle in time, by Madeleine L’Engle (classic). I wanted to re-read this, before the movie came out. I loved it again!

Daughters of the Night Sky, by Aimie K. Runyan (cultural book). This is about Russian women pilots during WWII, and was a very good read, although sad—the discrimination and issues the women faced was hard to read about. Also, it’s about war, so of course it’s sad.

sex

Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot, by Mo Isom (spiritual, review forthcoming). As I grew up in the (Baptist) church, and sex was something that was never talked about, this was an intriguing read. And Isom’s conversational voice is phenomenal.

For Review:

You Will Be Mine, by Natasha Preston. I expect some twists and suspense from Preston—and this delivered—but the characters that insisted on doing the stupidest things imaginable—like sneaking off alone while being stalked by a serial killer—kind of ruined this for me. Almost DNF.

The Book of Pearl, by Timothee de Fombelle. I enjoyed this translation of a boy from the world of story forced to grow up in a world without magic—here—and how he tries to gather proof of his home’s existence.

the rending

The Rending and the Nest, by Kaethe Schwehn. Very intriguing dystopian novel. Four years ago, most of the population and animals, a lot of the stuff, and the sunshine and weather disappeared for unknown reasons. The survivors are getting by, making new lives for themselves scavenging from the scraps left over.They gain new hope when one of the women gets pregnant, but when she gives birth to an object, the world comes crashing down around them again. This is a strange book, but it’s very compelling and intriguing.

the belles

 

The Belles, by Dhonielle Clayton. On the surface, this book did not seem like it would be right for me:  it’s about a society that reveres beauty above all else, whose inhabitants are born grey and must pay to change their physical appearance to match society’s trends (See? It’s about half of what bothers me so badly about our own society.). Camellia is a Belle, one of the elite who controls Beauty. She is determined to be the Favorite—the leading Belle—but when she reaches court she finds that there is far more going on than she ever imagined, and the darkness she finds has a long reach. This was an engrossing book, and about far more than what I first assumed to be trivial superficiality—though there’s some commentary on that as well. Extremely readable! (Like, I read this in a single day, and can’t wait for the next book!)

TLG

The Liar’s Girl, by Catherine Ryan Howard. This is about a girl whose boyfriend was convicted as a serial killer ten years ago…and now that more victims are showing up, he will only speak to her. She can’t rest until she finds out the truth about his claims of innocence.

tess

Tess of the Road, by Rachel Hartman. This is a fantasy book that deals with some hard subject matter—rape, emotional abuse, women’s’ rights—but above all else, it’s a book about a character that changes in profound ways as a person. Loved it!

BFM

Blunt Force Magic, by Lawrence Davis. I enjoyed this so much! The MC is very self-deprecating, but he steps in to helps save a stranger–even knowing it’s going to land him a whole lot of magical trouble! (Please read the review, as it’s more detailed. But I will definitely read more of this series!)

DotS

Daughters of the Storm, by Kim Wilkins. This is another one that you should read the full review on, as the writing was great, but I disliked the characters so much that it almost made me DNF the book.

thecoincidencemakers

The Coincidence Makers, by Yoav Blum (review forthcoming). This literary fiction is about three Coincidence Makers—exactly what they sound like—who have different specialties. One of them, a former Imaginary Friend, is haunted by the loss of the Imaginary Friend lover that he knew in his past. A dreamy, soothing read.

DNF:

Sugar Lump by Megan Gaudin. Vapid and superficial, despite the very intriguing premise of the book. (And I love YA, so that wasn’t the problem. But I like real YA, not surface-level, and I couldn’t get past that.)

A Cold Day in Hell by Lissa Marie Redmond. Only made it about 10%. I felt pretty distant from the main character to start with, but stuck it out until she met with the accused killer, a teenage kid who just randomly had sex with a girl he didn’t know in her car, and then she turned up dead a few hours later, and he’s totally confused about why he’s been accused. Here’s the thing: I don’t do stupid people. Or stupid characters. So his blasé attitude about the whole situation was a deal-breaker for me right then and there.

Just Because:

The Dark Calling, by Kresley Cole. I hate the idea that this series is almost over, because I love it so much. SO. MUCH. I think I got the first book free—and I knew the author was a good one—so that’s why I ended up reading the first one…just before the second book came out. And I was sucked in from the beginning. I hate when a character I like gets killed off, but it always makes sense in this series. Also…when a love triangle is involved, I usually have a favorite/one that makes mores sense for the heroine. This time I don’t. I love Jack and Aric both equally, and they both make sense for Evie. So…I kind of don’t want to know who she ends up with…

Linking up with Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick Lit.

 

 

Book Review: Blunt Force Magic, by Lawrence Davis

BFM
Image belongs to WildBlue Press.

Janzen’s life as a package courier in Cleveland, Ohio isn’t glamorous. He works, hangs out at a hole-in-the-wall bar, and goes home drunk to his dog. It’s a life, just a dull one. Five years ago, Janzen was an apprentice Artificer, living on the edge in a group of practitioners intent on fighting evil, but now he’s alone.

So, Janzen works, drinks, and sleeps. And repeats. Until the day he’s delivering a package and finds himself fighting for his life against a Stalker—a creature from the Abyss—defending a young witch against the dark predator.

Now Janzen must figure out who sent the Stalker, delving into his past for any scrap of help he can find, before the monster succeeds in killing him—and the witch. All in a day’s work, right?

This book. From the first page, I was drawn in by Janzen’s dry, self-deprecating humor and his unflinching honesty. He left the magical life behind years ago, but he doesn’t hesitate to step back into his role when danger threatens a young stranger. This character made the book—but the whole gritty urban fantasy/detective noir feeling didn’t hurt, either. A great read!

Lawrence Davis is the author of Blunt Force Magic, the first book in The Monsters and Men trilogy.

(Galley provided by WildBlue Press in exchange for an honest review.)

 

More reviews at <a href=” https://tamaramorning.com/”>Tomorrow is Another Day</a>