Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What did we order this week??

Things have been a little crazy here this week!  I've got a stack of reviews I'm hoping to get put in by this weekend.  That's not the point though!  It's ordering day!!  I'm veering off track a little this week because of the chaos.  Normally, I pick and choose quite carefully what we're going to buy each week.  This week, in the snippets that I've been online, I've been adding things to my cart.  As a reward to myself for still being sane on Wednesday  night, I'm buying whatever I have in my cart, as well as my reviewer requests!

This first one is a reviewer request.  I've really been enjoying reading these reviews!  I'm hoping she reads the entire series!

This second one, I know nothing about, but I do know my reviewer and that means it's probably a riveting true crime!

Next up, I am a huge Jerome K. Jerome fan.  I fell in love with his works when I was an itty bitty kid spending my afternoons in the book room at the local antique store.  It was brought to my attention that I don't have this particular copy, and that must be remedied!!  If you need to know how to deal with ugly babies or women with the vapors, Jerome is the man to turn to!

We're picking up two Vincent Scarsella books!  Why?  Because!  Yes!  That's my logic!  First up, we have Return to the Psi Academy.  I can't wait to get my grubby little paws on this one!  I was just waiting for hard copy to show up and now it's going to be mine!  If you have a science-minded kid, they're going to eat this up!  I'm not a science-minded kid...but I'm going to gobble it up too!

Then, we're getting Anonymous Man.  Eventually, I will own every book that Vincent Scarsella writes.  If I'm lucky, they'll all be autographed.  I'm picking this one up because it's a great deal and I want to read it and put it on my shelf.

We're also getting J.L. Murray's Monstrous!  This one was just released this week and I've been waiting forever to get a hold of it!  Doesn't it look like great fun?!  Murray is a darling with a twisted mind and I can't wait to sample her writing!

Lastly, we have All Darling Children.  I've been waiting since October to get my hands on a hard copy.  Everything Katrina writes has this unique charm to it.  You can't help but be fascinated by her work.  This is sort of a horrific re-telling of Peter Pan, to my understanding, and I'm really anxious to see her darker side.  It is my fervent hope that one day, when the fabulous Gregory Maguire stops writing, Katrina Monroe/Saete will be my 'go to' author for magic and wonder.

Hopefully, we'll be back to our normal ordering schedule next week.  In the meantime, keep sending us those suggestions!

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Dead of Winter by Jean Rabe

Though Rabe has over 35 published books, I hadn't heard of her as an author.  I actually purchased this book because I found that I liked her as a person.

Piper has just taken over as the new sheriff in Fulda, Indiana.  She's only twenty-three and her subordinates aren't happy with the fact that she's taking over.  She's not too happy about taking the job when her first murder shows up immediately after she takes office.  The bodies begin to pile up and she finds that her sleepy little town has a serial killer on its hands.  Will she be able to pull her team together in time to catch the murderer, or will the bodies just keep piling up?

I was pleasantly surprised by the mystery content here.  Rabe did an incredible job of throwing in likely suspects along the way.  As a reader, we're just as gung ho to solve the murder as the sheriff's department is, and just as clueless.  Once they figure it out, you're like 'oooh...yeah...yeah...i um...totally thought that too...'  I was half-expecting to find that it was some character we'd never heard of.  Depending upon the type of reader you are, it may be someone you've never heard of.  It's obscure and at the same time, it's staring at you with bright Christmas lights.

The characters are pretty phenomenally put together.  They're realistic and you find yourself empathizing with them.  Most of them.  Each is intriguing and carries heft as an individual.

The murderer...what can I say?  I'm terrified to send Christmas cards now.  Don't worry, that's not a spoiler!  It does take quite awhile to figure out who had motive, means and opportunity.  The way that Rabe was able to get into the killer's mind was fantastically fun.  I never saw it coming.

If you're looking for a fun murder mystery this holiday season, I can't suggest this one enough.  You'll find yourself devouring page after page.  It's not just about solving the murders, but also an urge to see what happens next and who's going to do it.  I'll admit, I fell in love with this little town and I'm anxious for Jean to hurry up and finish the second book so I can jump into it.

Transgressions by Phillip Berrie

After months of trial and error, an elderly male wizard who's body has been destroyed, takes up residence inside the body of a young female half-elf.

A malevolent spirit is after the wizard, and he also feels adamant about finding what destroyed the spirit of the half-elf.  He and his assistant do all they can to solve the mystery and save the city from the malevolent spirits.

The middle of this book was great.  Once the wizard becomes a little more comfortable in his new skin and we start to know the characters a little better, we become a bit more invested.  Once we figure out the sort of world we're in, we find that it's a pretty magical and fascinating place.  The story telling is smooth and you can easily just get lost in what you're reading.

The beginning and ending felt pretty mis-jointed, however.  Dropping into a new world is usually pretty difficult.  Dropping into this world was unusually difficult.  We find ourselves facing the same confusion and displacement that our wizard is feeling, and at the same time we're trying to figure out the characters and the world.  Not only that, but it feels like we're set down in the middle of a war zone in the beginning.  I'm all for some action in the beginning to get you interested, but this was a little more than necessary and added some confusion that made it more difficult to get into the story.

As for the ending, I was pretty confused.  I understand this is the first book in a series and that more will be explained as the series continues.  You MUST read the epilogue in order to have any idea what's going on.

At the end of the story, we have a few short stories that give you  more insight into the characters.  Though I didn't read them first, it might have been helpful if I had.  Also, there's a glossary of terms in the back of the book that I wish I'd have read first as well.  I found both of these things once I'd finished the story, but I really feel like both of them would have helped with world creation and character setting and my confusion wouldn't have lasted as long.  This is also one of those rare cases where reading the blurb on the back of the book is helpful.

If you do a bit of prep work, this is actually a pretty good story.  I think now that I'm past the confusing setting stage, I would like to know more.  My favorite character has gone missing and I know that I definitely want more information there.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What did we order this week?!

It's my favorite day of the week and I'm sooo excited this week because we have some really great stuff to order!  Now, we have great stuff to order every week, but every week I'm this excited!

First, we have our reviewer picks!

Reviewer pick one is Queen of the Tearling, and this is a stunning cover!

Reviewer pick two is Spilled Milk, which I'm told is a great book!

Next up, we have a book from our 'to buy and review' list.  Let's see...Henning Mankell was suggested to me awhile back.  We're going to try the first book in the Joel Gustafson series.

Now we get to pick a book that has fewer than five reviews!  These are always my favorite because I never know exactly what I'm getting into until I begin reading! We're actually going to be buying two of them this week.  Why?  Because I'm greedy!!

The first is a suggested book that just looks darn fun!

Sometimes I accidentally fall into awesome things.  Today, I accidentally came across Bill Hiatt while I was looking up something completely unrelated.  Hello, Bill!  Pleasure to meet you!  So when I did a quick stalking of him, I found out that he's got some great looking books out!  We're going to start with this one because it just looks intriguing!

That's our order for this week!  Unless we come across more books and deals that we just CAN'T wait until next week for!  Happy good week, guys!

The Last Guard by K.J. Taylor

Guards stay at their posts, and die to defend their cities...Southerner Sergeant Kearney 'Red' Redguard is the last of a disgraced family, and a loyal guardsman.  And with a murderer stalking the streets, the city guard is his city's best defense.  But in the North, King Caedmon Taranisaii is gathering his army, and the cruel Night God prepares for the downfall of the South.  A new dark griffin roams the land, warning of the war to come.

Betrayed and sent on the run, Red must fight to save his homeland.  But it may already be too late...(taken from the back of the book)

Normally, I prefer to write my own description of the book, but after several attempts, I realized I couldn't with this one.  The description the book gives barely even scratches the surface, but it comes closer than I could.

The world building here is absolutely phenomenal.  I know that Taylor has several other book series out, and I'm hoping they're built in a similar world but with different characters.  It's sort of a Middle Earth meets alternate reality type of place.  Griffins are key players in this world.

The griffins are stunningly done.  Taylor gets to the heart of what makes a griffin tick and keeps them true to her vision.  There are several points where we see conversations that differentiate between griffin thoughts/actions and that of human.

'Taylor's character creation is perfection as well.  Each one, down to the tiniest throwaway character, has been intricately designed and given a unique personality.  Even if you only have a glimpse of them, they're real enough that you keep them in your memory.  Perhaps not connected to the name, since some of them are difficult, but the character itself you can remember.

If action is your thing, this is your book.  I picked it up and couldn't believe it started off in such dire circumstances.  Then I was happily reading and came to the end and thought to myself 'Wow! That was a great book, but short!' At that stage, I realized I was only on chapter three with plenty more book to go!  I had this experience several times while reading.  I felt certain everything was wrapped up, only to find out that I was so wrong!  About ten chapters into the book, I considered going on blood pressure medication to deal with all of the stress and pressure I was feeling by living vicariously through Red.

In the beginning, I only had one complaint.  Sometimes the dialogue doesn't really match what you'd think a character would say.  You read something and it gives you that tiny disjointed feeling, because it just doesn't match who you have in your head.  However!  This is absolutely necessary!  The characters randomly saying things that are so out of character add some much-needed levity to the book.  Those moments are when you get to breathe in between all of the action and chaos.  Instead of nitpicking, realize that it's written that way for a reason and it works!

The ending of this book is one of the best endings I've read in years.  I was devastated and overjoyed.  It was exactly how I wanted it to end and I hated every single moment of it.  Actually, my true devastation came in when I realized the sequel isn't out yet.  As soon as it comes out, it's mine!  Miiiine!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

It's Tuesday! Let's hear those suggestions!

Every Wednesday we put in a book order.  Every Tuesday, I ask for suggestions for what to buy!

Every suggestion you post either here, Facebook, or Twitter will be put on my 'to buy and review' list.  That means that at some point,  each book suggested will be reviewed on our website as well as have an Amazon purchase verified review.  Simply for suggesting it!  We have plenty of reviewers who read all different genres, so there is someone guaranteed to be the right person to snatch up your book and read it.

If you're an author, pitch me your book!  If you read something recently that you really enjoyed, sell us on it!  If you're one of my review staff, this is the place you post what you want to read next!  Are you a publicist, marketer, or publisher?  Start giving us book suggestions!  We'll take them all!

On Wednesday, we'll order one book from the suggestions list and the rest, one from our 'to buy and review' list, as well as a book that has fewer than five Amazon reviews.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Amish Midwife by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould


Description:  A dusty carved box containing two locks of hair and a century-old letter regarding property in Switzerland, and a burning desire to learn about her biological family lead nurse-midwife Lexie Jaeger from her home in Oregon to the heart of Pennsylvania Amish country.  There she meets Marta Bayer, a mysterious lay-midwife who desperately needs hep after an Amish client and her baby die.

Lexie steps in to assume Marta's patient load even as she continues the search for her birth family, and from her patients she learns the true meaning of the Pennsylvania Dutch word Demut which means 'to let be' as she changes from a woman who wants to control everything to a woman who depends on God.

A compelling story about a search for identity and the ability to trust that God securely holds our whole life-past, present, and future.

My Thoughts:  Alexandra 'Lexie' is a nursing mid-wife in Oregon when she gets the dreaded phone call at work.  Her father, who has cancer, doesn't have long for this world.  She takes a leave of absence and rushes to his side.  On his death bed, he tells her about a box in the closet for her, one he never opened but one that might bring her closer to finding her birth parents.  After his death, she looks into the box that has a letter about property in Switzerland, 2 swatches of hair and not much else.  Her dear friend Sophie makes some enquiries, and finds that a mid-wife in Pennsylvania needs some help and it might do Lexie good to take a break and to also look for her birth parents.

When she arrives at Marta's house, against Marta's wishes, things go awry.  No one wants to giver her information about her birth, and no one wants her help.  Marta is going through some legal battles at the moment and when pushed against the wall, realizes she needs Lexie's help with her Amish patients and the babies soon to come.

Along the way, Lexie meets a doctor who she starts having meals with, even though she left her fiance James back in Oregon, telling him they were on a break.  She also pokes her nose into everyone's business to get the information she is seeking.  She won't take no for an answer, even though the Amish prefer to leave the past in the past and not discuss it.

Things eventually come to a head, with the heal of someone close to Lexie and all is revealed.  however, it isn't quite what Lexie was looking for.  She needs to look to God for the peace and comfort of the answers she's given.  I liked most of the characters in this novel, and I found it interesting to see how different Amish settlements lived.  I did not care for Lexie.  While I felt for her plight, she didn't care if she hurt people in her path to her goals.  She was actually a pretty flat character except when she was angry.  Then she became a full dimensional person who had some life and fire in her.

I look forward to reading the next installment in the Lancaster series.  I thought the settings were great and would love to delve into some of the secondary characters' lives.  I just hope Lexie is better behaved if she makes any cameo appearances.  All in all, a great story if you love reading about the Amish, prefer your fiction clean and a mystery that keeps you turning the pages long into the night.

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All books (unless otherwise specified) belong to me already, have been borrowed, or are sent to me by the author, publisher or review company for review. I do not receive any monetary rewards for reviewing books. The opinions expressed in my reviews belong solely to me.