Sunday, April 28, 2019

Review: Song of the Robin

Song of the Robin (Sarah Macintyre #1)Song of the Robin by R.V. Biggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Buy on Amazon

I read this book without actually choosing it like I would normally. I met Mr. Biggs on a Forum and he mentioned Song of the Robin was up on NetGalley. I was an approved NetGalley reader, so thought I'd give it a go.

The title is not conducive to selecting this book. Sounds kind of romance-y and not my thing at all. It starts like a contemporary romance, but I proceeded.

Then the book became a mysterious tale of a woman, Sarah, who begins to see visions, flashes of things that looked vaguely familiar, like the tall man who keeps showing up in weird places, then disappearing again. Sarah is perplexed by this stalker, particular since he's transparent sometimes. She begins to doubt her own sanity as more strange occurrences plague her life. She goes home from work and discovers that nothing of hers is in her house. She figures her no-good husband has tossed all her things in the rubbish.

She reveals some of the strange occurrences to her best friend, Rachel, but hesitates to put too much of a paranormal spin on what's going on. After all, she wasn't crazy or was she?

So the reader is slowly dragged into Sarah's visions changing the contemporary romance into something far more sinister. She sees herself in two realities, skipping through time and place without knowing how she got to where and when she is.

There is a little bit too long segment in the book on her life story. When that began and carried on for several pages I became impatient to get back to the crazy hallucinations plaguing Sarah. Eventually, we the readers are given enough information to suss out what has happened to Sarah. It's weird and imaginative story telling which I accidentally stumbled on via NetGalley and I'm quite glad I did.

Still, Mr. BIggs, think about cutting a little bit out of that middle sections (you know the one) because the pace begins to lag and you might very well lose some readers. That's my only niggling complaint.

I will be posting this review on GoodReads as I do with every book I read in its entirety.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Review: Through Better & Worse: A Montana Love Story

Note: E. J. Ruek, Aeros, and C.J. "Country" James are all pen names for D.L. Keur.

Through Better & Worse: a Montana Love Story (A Country James Novel Book 1)Through Better & Worse: a Montana Love Story
by D.L. Keur Writing as C.J. "Country" James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Buy on Amazon in Ebook or Print

Recommended 4-1/2 Stars Rounded Up (that's a pun) to 5.

Not many books are perfect, but this one's darned close for the genre: Contemporary western romance. The details of cattle ranching and division of property I know to be accurate, however it might be a bit more information than the non-country reader would like. I can just hear the romance fans yelling, "Get on with the kissing!" Nevertheless, I very much appreciate a book that doesn't slide by the setting and circumstances with no more than a how-do-you-do along the way. Readers who like technical details will be pleased.

This is not your bare-chested, sexy cowboy romance (though Jake ain't bad). Those western-romance-lite books are mere cotton candy representations of real ranch life and real ranch people. Author, C.J. "Country" James, knows the people she writes about far better than most. She's taken a pen name for the Country series, of which this book is the first.

Not only does the pseudonymous James write truly and honestly about the modern west, but is also an artist and has recorded her own audio versions of the book. With a woman that talented, you can't go wrong reading or listening to her books.

The first encounter between Dree Blake and Jake Jarvis couldn't have been worse. Jake has a teenage mind inside a man's body. Driving his fancy pickup too fast, he wants to get around the old clunker pulling a horse trailer. But there isn't room to pass. Narrowly missing Dree's horse trailer by a hair, he yells insults at the girl driving the rig. Neither one has any desire to see the other. Ever.

But the Fates are fond of creating coincidental meetings. Dree is heading to the Jarvis ranch to help teach the hands a new, more humane, method of castrating bull calves. After a demo, Dree and the two men from the Montana Department of Agriculture are asked to stay around for the upcoming roundup of the calves. Just as she's putting her mule, Cougar, into the stable, who should come driving in all la-di-da except the man who nearly drove her off the road.

Jake figures Dree is at the ranch to rat on him. He waits nervously for the blow up from his grandfather, Franklin. But nothing happens. Relieved, Jake is grateful the blocky little lady has kept her peace about the encounter.

Dree recognizes Jake all right, and figures out he's the heir to the Jarvis Ranch. It wouldn't be in her best interests to cause a ruckus. Besides, Dree does not like all. An incident from her childhood, violent beyond measure, gives her horrible anxiety attacks. The result is Dree is too quiet and too easily dismissed.

With this inauspicious beginning, Jake and Dree are forced to learn more about each other. They each find the other isn't quite as horrible as they first thought.

As the story progresses, a lot happens, but that'd all be spoiler material. However, this is a big R Romance, so you have an idea of how it turns out. What will surprise the hell out of you is how.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Review: Derelict (Halcyone Space #1)

Derelict (Halcyone Space, #1)Derelict by L.J. Cohen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Buy at Amazon

This first book in Cohen's Halcyone series is a great start. The main character, Ro Maldonado, is a prickly and talented young woman with an abusive father. And let me tell you, her father is a major jackass, a criminal, and an all-round candidate for worst father ever. However, his bad parenting is almost equaled by Micah Rotherwood's dad, a disgraced senator in league with Maldonado senior. All of the despicable behavior is in spoiler territory, so 'nuff said.

When Ro discovers Micah in the crashed derelict ship, she wants to move in as well. She's fascinated by the 40-year-old tech and wants badly to fix this abandoned ship for her own. Micah has been using the space for botany experiments, which involve growing some illegal plant material.

Jem Durbin is a brilliant kid who is a little bit infatuated with Ro and eagerly takes on projects to help her revive the Halcyone. His brother, Barre, is a genius in a completely different way involving music, but has a bit of a drug habit. When Jem finds Barre unconscious, he asks Ro to hack the medical system to get rid of any evidence of drugs in Barre's system. As soon as he can get his brother up and moving, he takes him to the Halcyone to hide out from their parents. Jem knows Barre will be sent to rehab if he's found, so off they go to join Ro and Micah on the derelict ship.

Okay, four brilliant teens messing about with an old ship. What could go wrong? Plenty is barely sufficient to cover it.

Overall this is a great setup for the series as we learn about the main actors in the series books to come (there are three in the series as I'm writing this, so hurry up and get started now).

This is a strong opening to an entertaining series which is not all fluffy YA kid stuff. There is plenty of tech here to satisfy the hardcore Science Fiction fan.

Highly recommended. I'll definitely be hitting the other books in the series soon.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Review: In the Spirit of Murder

In the Spirit of Murder (Claudia Hershey, #1)In the Spirit of Murder by Laura Belgrave
My rating:  4 of 5 stars
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Writing B+
Characters B
Plot C

Laura Belgrave's writing is good enough for me to want to read more of this series. That's a big reason to always try another book by a writer when one book leaves you a bit cold, but a second or third might be the best thing since sliced cake.

The problem with this particular book would require me to divulge a huge spoiler, but I'll just say that the conclusion would be in a list of tropes to avoid. Up to that point, it was a great read.

Too bad, because there are many things to like about the writing. I'd recommend the author, if not this book in particular. I'm definitely eyeing the next book in the series, "Quietly Dead."

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Review: "The Somniscient" and "Dead Man's Hand"

Two short reviews for books by Richard Levesque

The SomniscientThe Somniscient by Richard Levesque
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Amazon Buy Link

Richard Levesque has created another vivid world extrapolating technology advances. Don't let the tech talk scare you off. This is a very readable and entertaining book. It is also ripe for being the first in a series. The world of creating and selling dreams, which can only be redeemed by earning Zees just so you can sleep is weird, creepy, and inventive.

Why 4 stars? Because I'm like that. Where others smack 5 stars up (sometimes for crappy books), I dole out stars like they're as precious as Zees. This one comes close to getting the 5th star. How about 4.99 stars just to keep Mr. Levesque on his writing toes.

Dead Man's HandDead Man's Hand by Richard Levesque
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Amazon Buy Link #FREE

Dead Man's Hand is a fun, short paranormal. I'm glad it's a series since Ace Stubble, a lawyer "Representing the Undead and Paranormal Communities," is a Sam Spade type with a big helping of Dresden on the side.

The various troubles of the non-human (or human with talents) populace almost make Ace one of the undead himself. But, being the sharp shyster he is, Ace Stubble can usually pull off a miracle even if it's by accident.

I liked the concept, the writing, and Ace Stubble enough to want to read more.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Review: The Sorcerer's Key

The Sorcerer's KeyThe Sorcerer's Key by Clayton Clifford Bye
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Amazon Buy Link

Jack Lightfoot's parents were on the run from their homeworld of Eden. The nasty sorcerer, Morgan, wanted what the Lightfoot family had: the ability to cross over into Earth to take advantage of the technology that Earth has, something that Eden does not.

When Morgan finds a way to send an assassin after the Lightfoot family to find the key to opening the door between worlds, Jack is thrown into a battle between sorcerers. Only problem is, Jack has lived on Earth his entire life and all the magic he knows is entirely theoretical.

With only the training his father has given him, Jack has to jump worlds and learn to use his magic ... fast. Morgan is out to kill Jack for the key to move between worlds.

The Sorcerer's Key is a fast action tale of magic and action. It's fast moving from the first page onward. I knew I'd like this book from the beginning.

It's modern, rather than medieval, setting makes Jack a young man who might be the teenager down the street. Very modern Jack has to cope with the 19th C. non-technological, yet highly magical world of Eden.

Clayton Bye's writing is smooth and exciting. He keeps the reader on their toes, or at least propped up in bed reading into the wee hours.

I'd definitely recommend this book for all fantasy fans.

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Saturday, April 06, 2019

Review: Old Hickory Lane

Old Hickory LaneOld Hickory Lane by E.J. Ruek
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Purchase at Amazon

Warren Jeffreys wants to be a premiere veterinarian on the horse show circuit. He certainly has the education (multiple degrees) and a special connection with the horses he loves (not to mention the cows, pigs, goats, and mules), but he's got a prickly personality. Who'd care, you think? The top horse breeders are a snooty bunch and want to be catered to by their vet. Warren is not a people person.

Ms. Ruek's sometimes frightening, sometimes humorous story of the aspiring veterinarian is an engrossing read. Not all warm and fuzzy like "All Things Great and Small," it still has elements to tug at your heart strings. You can't help but wish Warren success, but you also want to slap him upside the head to knock the chip off his shoulder. If he was totally likable, I don't think the story would be near as compelling. The characters, the situations, the details of day-to-day veterinary work will keep you glued to the page. I would have read it all in one session, but for the book's substantial size. You definitely get your money's worth.

Highly recommended.

More about the story with spoilers:
Before Warren can realize his dream, he's got to get the all-important work credits. He joins a veterinary clinic in Idaho to gain the all-important experience. Just a couple of years, he thinks.

Unfortunately for Warren, his personality along with being an "Injun" is a prejudiced and tight-knit area, he is scorned and even ripped off by a rotten slumlord. Forced to live in a hobo camp until he can earn enough to afford an apartment, he has to hide so nobody will know his poor circumstances. To the rich horsey set, it'd never do for their vet to be anything but prosperous...and white.

Along the way, he finds himself falling for Elise, whose grandmother raises a rare breed of horse which fascinates Warren. He wants both the woman and the job. Elise likes him, so that's not a problem, but her grandmother keeps pushing him away from having a relationship with the young woman. Prejudice or something more?

Slowly, Warren gains the trust of the farmers and ranchers in the area. His bosses at the Lewis and Clark Clinic see his skill and the something extra Warren adds when he treats animals. A skill or magic? Warren doesn't even know for sure, only that his Cree grandmother taught him ways to feel an animal's emotional state and even tell him what their problem is. Not in words, but in a metaphysical connection to the animal that allows him see and understand more than any normal human.

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Monday, April 01, 2019

Review: Marriage Can be Murder

Indies Rising Author

Marriage Can Be Murder: A Mystery Novella (Love Can Be Murder Mystery Novellas Book 2)Marriage Can Be Murder: A Mystery Novella by Heather Haven
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lee Alvarez may be a settled down married woman, but she's still an active detective at Private Investigations, Inc., the agency owned by her mother. Sounds normal, right?

In this continued series of the Alvarez Mysteries, Haven decided that two is better than one, so Lee's new husband, Gurn, is brought aboard. A good thing since the client in this 2nd book in the 2nd series based on the Alvarez family, seems to cooperate only with men. Lee asks the questions, and Delores De La Vega, and aging femme fatale, directs her answers to the handsome Gurn. Lee knew he'd come in handy.

Right from the first page, Lee Alvarez is the same snappy witted woman I loved throughout the Alvarez Family series. Getting married didn't change a thing except she now has two cats and one husband to help her sleuth out the truth of just who's trying to murder Delores or is it all in the has-been movie star's mind?

Heather Haven's books are most delightful when she's imbuing her characters with a smart mouth along with plain old smarts. I've enjoyed reading them all. Lucky me! I recommend the entire two series to any readers who like female sleuths with attitude solving the murders while keeping her Gucci purse and Manolo Blahnik shoes unscuffed.

You'll certainly enjoy the "Nick and Nora Charles of Silicon Valley" as Haven has described the newly-wed, crime fighting duo of Lee and Gurn.

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