The Further Adventures of Mac McClellan!

May 14, 2015 at 11:01 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

5129Niw-m5L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Deadly Ruse
Author: E. Michael Helms
Publisher: Seventh Street Books
Genre: Mystery/ Suspense
Length: 237 pages

Retired marine, private eye, sexy girls, whiskey, drugs, diamonds, casinos, the good ol’ South… what more could you ask for in a genre crime novel?

I enjoyed my second adventure with Mac McClennan. Despite the self-depricating B-movie references to its own plot points, closing a Mac McClennan book always leaves me wanting more Mac.

Of course, Mac has women fawning over him and his older gentleman charm. His girlfriend can take care of herself, but still finds it in herself to swoon into a faint in the opening chapters. Our heroes tote guns, our villains are scum. It’s all around good, fast-paced fun set in the sun, with just the right amount of danger.

I look forward to Mac’s next adventure, since he’s on the verge of being an official P.I. now…

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The Ice Sisters Cover Reveal

December 17, 2014 at 11:43 pm (Fan Art) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

The Glorian Legacy Series by A.L. Raine is about to begin.

Not long before it’s in print for you to read and enjoy!  For now, here’s the cover!

ALRaine book one

Cover art by Gershom Wetzel of Aoristos.

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Murder Past Due Times TWO!

November 23, 2014 at 4:20 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

P1000582I seriously read these books just so I could use that headline.  I know, so cheesy, but it’s the little things in life…

Well, that’s not entirely true.  I picked them both up at various times, years ago when I first got hung up on cozy mysteries.  It wasn’t until I was moving that I put reading all my paperbacks on my TBR priority list so I can purge them.  Only prime keepers are going to the new house once it is built.  While unpacking paperbacks in my temporary abode I discovered this little coincidence and my very silly self immediately thought in rhyme.  Naturally, I had to read them right away.  (Or as right away as one can when one reads books for part of my living.)

D.R. MeredithI shall preface by saying: both were appropriately cute.  Meredith, however, has a writing style that puts her a cut above the rest in the genre and I can’t wait to read more of her series.

I read through her book in nearly one sitting.  Despite it being the third in the series, I didn’t feel like I had missed a beat, though I felt like I should surely go back and read the others as soon as possible.

The Cat in the Stacks series is fun, but I’ll probably  just happen across them as I happen across them, rather than purposefully seek them out.  Although, I did appreciate that I had indeedMiranda James series selected the first of that series.  It is always nice to begin at, well, the beginning.

Both books were set in the south, which naturally made them fun for me.  Meredith’s is actually set in Texas, however, and James’ is set in Mississippi with only a few references to Houston.  I absolutely adored Meredith’s Ryan character and found him incredibly endearing, where James won me over by introducing me to a breed of cat I’d never heard of – a Maine Coon.

I will always choose books that lend themselves to wanting to read more books.  Books on books are my favorites.  Novels set in literary settings, a close second.  Libraries, bookstores, reading groups, these are the places that keep my heart at rest – even if we have to kill someone off to maintain a plot line and a reason for being there in the first place.  So whether it is sooner or later, I’ll return to both of these writers eventually.

End note: I like this Miranda James cover better…

Miranda James

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E. Michael Helms Does It Again

November 13, 2014 at 3:08 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

deadly catchTitle:Deadly Catch

Author: E. Michael Helms

Genre: Mystery

Length: 207 pages

I always have fun reading an E. Michael Helms novel – but this latest one was by far the most fast paced.  MacArthur McClellan is clever, well-trained, and his personality is as snugly as a bear.  I enjoyed tromping through crime scenes and fishing sites with him and his side kick Just Kate Bell.

Although I’m pro-legalization of marijuana and found myself rolling my eyes at some of the locals when they discovered someone “they thought they knew” smoke marijuana or ate a marijuana brownie, the story was filled with all sorts of memorable characters and crazies.

The bookstore I work out of most often is near an international airport.  I find myself selling flight reads more often than not.  I highly recommend this for a quick domestic flight.  I also think it would behoove the airport bookstores to carry it in stacks.

I also really liked the character of Bocephus Pickron, especially his first name.  I can’t discuss my thoughts on him further without giving away too many spoilers.  I’m looking forward to seeing what investigations Mac will stumble into next and wonder how many of these weekend mysteries Helms has in his back pocket.  I think he could write Mac mysteries for years… I’d read them.

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Insurgent and Allegiant

November 4, 2014 at 4:28 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I read Divergent a while back.  It intrigued me enough to know that I wanted to read the rest of the series eventually, but not enough to make too much of a mad rush to get my hands on it.  Although now I have read the rest of the series, despite many people telling me not to bother, and I’m glad I did.

InsurgentSo there’s a little too many fingers curling into shirt scenes… it might be the only way Roth has seen or experienced closeness – in the form of people tugging on t-shirts or twining their fingers around fabric in a near desperate manner.  That’s ok.  As a writer, I have a nasty habit of tucking things places.  She tucked this into that.  He tucked blah blah blah.  My editor gets on me about it all the time.  I’m surprised Roth’s editors didn’t nab her for the finger curling.  But that’s not the point…

The point is, despite the teen coming of age romance that we’ve seen over and over again, I liked one major thing about THIS romance.

AllegiantTris acknowledges that Love is a Choice.

“I fell in love with him. But I don’t just stay with him by default as if there’s no one else available to me. I stay with him because I choose to, every day that I wake up, every day that we fight or lie to each other or disappoint each other. I choose him over and over again, and he chooses me.”

After Twilight and Bella’s helpless infatuation…  After The Mortal Instruments and the “to love is to destroy” mantra…  After Hunger Games and a PTSD induced marriage of comfort… I’m glad Roth had the guts to write about another kind of choice, the kind that doesn’t happen just once, but every day in every moment.

I think that every true relationship has a little bit of all of those things: infatuation, passion, trust and comfort, and thousands of choices.  It’s interesting that in one sub-genre of young adult fiction, all released within a decade of each other, all popular enough to make blockbuster films out of them… we’ve covered such a vast array of relationships in our teen romances.  It’s good for young people to see such a variety of examples.

Even though Roth’s aren’t my favorite books ever, I like that she had the courage to write the ending no one wanted, but the one that would be expected in a world such as the one her characters live in.

I still haven’t seen the Divergent movie, but I’m looking forward to the day I do a little bit more, hoping that they stick to the books and don’t go too Hollywood with it.  I also look forward to seeing what Roth will write next.

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Voyager

October 1, 2014 at 4:23 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

P1000526Title: Voyager

Author: Diana Gabaldon

Genre: Defies Genres, but most commonly found in Historical or Romance sections, sometimes Fantasy

Length: 1059 pages

Seriously, the first thing I exclaimed when I was done reading via illness induced three day marathon was “Holy Crap on a Cracker!”  Clearly I need to find new expletives.  That particular one was not worthy of the book it came on the heels of.

As always, Diana Gabaldon is fabulous and a wonderful storyteller.  Where I’ve usually plucked my way through her books, reading a little here and a little there as a fairy tale adventure before bed – this time I just plowed right through until I was done.

I picked up the third installment of Gabaldon’s book – a first edition mass market paperback from November 1994 that life threw in my lap somewhere along the way – after watching the new Starz series to date.  Putting Gabaldon’s story to film has been a long time coming, but it was worth the way.  I watched 6 episodes in a row, tucked neatly in my bed with a bag of jalapeno chips and lots of hot tea.  Don’t let me fool you, I’d been planning my all-day cave viewing for nearly two weeks, and it would have happened whether I’d been sick that day or not, but being sick definitely helped me get away with it.

See, I planned on writing a review for the show to accompany my other Diana Gabaldon related posts. But the show doesn’t really need one. They’ve done so well, in my opinion, and followed the story hook, line, and sinker. Although I find my fairly prude self fast forwarding through the sex scenes, I think the show is wonderful.

Especially awesome was seeing the author – Diana Gabaldon – pop up in The Gathering episode.  She has such a lovely and obvious face, I was so excited for her to be IN her own creation in that manner.

Naturally, when I ran out of episodes I sought out the next installment of the book – having started reading the series ages ago, but never finished. (I can’t finish it all at once, I have to savor it.)

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Alone

September 23, 2014 at 2:50 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , )

box setTitle:Alone

Author: Robert J. Crane

Genre: Thriller

Format: Kindle Ebook

Alone is the first of a three part series called The Girl in the Box.  I found the whole series as a free Kindle download on twitter.  (You can find some amazing deals through twitter.)

Having now read the first of what seems to be a pretty bold series, I can whole-heartedly say that this is a title worthy of purchasing the paperback.  It’s all action and go from the first page to the last, and Crane’s plot points are well calculated and paced perfectly.

I’m pretty excited about reading the whole series and can’t wait to review the box set as a whole.  Fans of the TV Shows Alias and Lost Girl will find themselves completely engrossed by this first book.  There’s plenty of action, moderate gore, and a good amount of mysterious story reveals to keep any reader on edge and holding their breath for the next scene.

Other reviewers seem to find a lack of character development and interesting storytelling, but I think those people are missing the book’s purpose.  It isn’t about character development – it’s not meant to be the latest story of the ages (read here: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, or The Matrix).  Instead, this is an entertaining action story, worthy of a blockbuster movie (read here: Die Hard, Mission Impossible, Resident Evil, etc).

Give it a try – you can download the ebook for free.  See what you think.

 

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Afternoon Tea Part One

September 4, 2014 at 8:43 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

P1000339Title: Gunpowder Green

Author:Laura Childs

Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Length: 244 pages

With autumn in the air, it’s back to hot afternoon tea (as opposed to iced sweet tea) and my dive into cozy mysteries.  Even though in Texas, fall tends to be more of a state of mind than an actual weather change.  Post Labor Day it’s still in the nineties, but there’s rain and I made a trip to the grocery store just for tea bags.

Many of my afternoon teas happen on the back deck.  My backyard table is actually newer and nicer than my kitchen table and it’s where I prefer to take my meals and spend time journaling and reading, if the weather allows.  It’s nice to spend time, even if it’s in a book, with people who feel the same way:

“I think it’s time we thought about lunch.  Margaret Rose baked cranberry bread yesterday, and I threw together some chicken salad earlier.  Why not fix trays and eat out here where we can enjoy the view?  It’ll be ever so much nicer.” – pg. 149

Laura Childs, The Indigo Tea Shop, and Theodosia Browning aren’t just about tea though.  There are gardening elements, I am finding, in each of her tea shop mysteries.  (Apparently, the gardeners in town tend to be a murderous bunch, and the tea shop sorts the sleuthing kind.)  I love hanging out in small towns with historic districts, antique dealers, garden extraordinaire, and party goers.

“Timothy Neville adored giving parties.  Holiday parties, charity galas, music recitals.  And his enormous Georgian mansion, a glittering showpiece perched on Archdale Street, war, for many guests, a peek into the kind of gilded luxury that hadn’t been witnessed in Charleston since earlier times.” – pg. 212

Reading this inspired me.  I am an event coordinator and I adore bookish parties, cozy festivals, people gathering in gardens, and atmospheres that allow for coffee, wine, or cups of tea, and quiet conversation or a people reading books.  Fall is a good time for these sort of events, and though my Fall is already planned, not everyone’s is.

A lovely lady at Fuller’s Country Store has agreed to guest blog for me soon about tea parties she’s hosts.  I don’t know the details, but I’m pretty excited to find out and scroll through photographs of the upcoming event.  Stay tuned for “Afternoon Tea Part Two” for the details, the pictures, and a review of Laura Childs’ third Tea Shop Mystery: Shades of Earl Grey.

 

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Fairy Bell (and Fizz)

July 9, 2014 at 9:20 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Fairy BellTitle: Fairy Bell Sisters: Sylva and the Fairy Ball

Author: Margaret McNamara

Illustrator: Julia Denos

Kiddo is on a Peter Pan kick.  We’re reading bits of Peter Pan every night before bed.  She’s watching the Disney movie as I type this.  A few months back she watched the ballet.

Not just Peter Pan, though.  She loves ALL things Neverland.  Jake & the Neverland Pirates is a huge favorite and she’s dying for the lego set.  I’m making her wait until her birthday.  Speaking of birthdays, the child wants a Neverland themed party.  She will dress as Tinker Bell, she says, someone must be Peter Pan.  Everyone else has to be a lost boy.  If we could get one of the grandfathers or uncles to be Captain Hook I think the girl might die of happiness on the spot.  She loves Captain Hook.  Also, she has an unusual amount of adoration for crocodiles and clocks.

So, naturally, when she saw a book at the library with a fairy she squealed, “Tinka Bell.”  Her “er” sounds don’t always makes it all the way out of her mouth.  She’s only three.  I explained that the book was about Tinker Bell’s little sisters.  She was blinded by fairy wings and shoved them in the library bag.

Warning to other Moms: THIS IS NOT A STORY ABOUT TINKER BELL.

Or Neverland.

My daughter had to remind me of this on nearly every page.  I cannot express enough how disappointed she was…

Until the TROLLS arrived.

P1020485Apparently we are a troll-loving family.  Both me and my daughter loved The Three Billy Goats Gruff (my grandmother read it to me when I spent the night at her house and kiddo has her own updated version we read all the time).

She is fascinated by The Hobbit.  Mostly, I think, for the troll scene.  She has seen the live action movie, but she relishes the 1970’s cartoon.

And of course – we adore Fizz & Peppers.  I adore Fizz & Peppers and I think she loves it a bit because I do – but it is heaven.  And full of trolls.

P1020486Ultimately, she enjoyed the book, but decided she didn’t want to read the rest of the series yet.  At the end of the Fairy Bell ball story there is a blueberry birthday cake – and a blueberry fairy cake recipe.  So, naturally, we baked.  Oddly enough, we had freshly picked blueberries in our fridge… picked by M.G. King (the author of Fizz & Peppers!) and delivered to our house!

Another odd coincidence for this reading adventure… take a look at these chapters:

P1020484

The books have nothing in common.  And somehow managed to have everything in common.  It was one of those reading experiences where we could not sit down and read one without thinking of the other. Note: Chapter three of the Fairy Bell Sisters book ends on that page.  On the next page begins chapter four.

Til the next reading adventure…

 

 

 

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Wrapping up Clare, Clary, and Clockworks

June 18, 2014 at 1:26 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

City of Heavenly FireTitles: City of Heavenly Fire and Clockwork Princess

Author: Cassandra Clare

Genre: Fantasy/ Teen

*SPOILERS*

So I was finally able to wrap up two series, The Mortal Instruments and the prequel series Infernal Devices.  It was kind of refreshing to finish something and know that I know as much of the story that is available to know at the moment.

City of Heavenly Fire was exactly what I expected.  Great closing to it all, not a lot of surprises.  The only thing that did surprise me were the number of new characters that were introduced, seemingly to kick start another set of books.  But Clary and Jace are finally basking in their glorious together-ness, the readers got a wedding (Clary’s mother and Luke of course), and the teen couple finally sealed the deal which was expected, gratifying for the masses, but also disappointing for me – the girl who waited.

clockwork princessClockwork Princess was not nearly as satisfying.  It went as expected (the ending sort of spoiled by having already read City of Heavenly Fire), but also disappointed me in the sense that sometimes a girl should actually have to do a little more choosing.  No one gets everything they ever wanted that thoroughly, and Tessa being allowed to love both boys so completely thrusts you outside of the book’s reality and back into your own by the sheer fact that no one should be allowed such a fairy tale.  Even in happily ever afters, a girl has to pick a prince.  You didn’t see Clary marrying Jace and running into the ever after with Simon or vice versa.  It was sweet and wonderful, but too sweet and too wonderful, and therefore fell flat to me.

I’m glad I read them the way I did though, I am.  Even if things were a little anti-climactic, I understand stories and the fact that the characters simply have to live their lives and sometimes those lives are anti-climactic.  I’m just also a little relieved that both series have ended.

I still adore Cassandra Clare, I still look forward to reading more of her writing in the future.  But for now, I think I may have burned myself out.  Or maybe Clare burned herself out.  I’m not sure and it’s probably not fair for me to decide right now.

 

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