Saturday, February 23, 2019

Book Review: Connections in Death by J. D. Robb

Connections in Death
Author: J. D. Robb
Series: In Death (Book 48)
Publication: St. Martin's Press (February 5, 2019)

Description: In this gritty and gripping new novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series, Eve Dallas fights to save the innocent―and serve justice to the guilty―on the streets of New York.

Homicide cop Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband, Roarke, are building a brand-new school and youth shelter. They know that the hard life can lead kids toward dangerous crossroads―and with this new project, they hope to nudge a few more of them onto the right path. For expert help, they hire child psychologist Dr. Rochelle Pickering―whose own brother pulled himself out of a spiral of addiction and crime with Rochelle’s support.

Lyle is living with Rochelle while he gets his life together, and he’s thrilled to hear about his sister’s new job offer. But within hours, triumph is followed by tragedy. Returning from a celebratory dinner with her boyfriend, she finds Lyle dead with a syringe in his lap, and Eve’s investigation confirms that this wasn’t just another OD. After all his work to get clean, Lyle’s been pumped full of poison―and a neighbor with a peephole reports seeing a scruffy, pink-haired girl fleeing the scene.

Now Eve and Roarke must venture into the gang territory where Lyle used to run, and the ugly underground world of tattoo parlors and strip joints where everyone has taken a wrong turn somewhere. They both believe in giving people a second chance. Maybe even a third or fourth. But as far as they’re concerned, whoever gave the order on Lyle Pickering’s murder has run out of chances…

My Thoughts: The story begins with Eve and Roarke going to a fancy cocktail party at Nadine's new home. It is interesting to see Eve realizing how many people are now a part of her life. And it is rather dismaying for Eve too.

Eve meets Rochelle Pickering. She's a child psychologist who is dating Crack who is one of Eve's friends from even before she met Roarke. Roarke is planning to hire her to be the head therapist an An Didean - a residential project to help young girls. Naturally being Eve, she takes an opportunity to check her out for any criminal past.

The next thing she knows, Crack is calling her because they have found Rochelle's younger brother dead of an apparent overdose when they return home. Rochelle doesn't believe that Lyle killed himself. He did have a troubled past with gang involvement and drug use but prison and rehabilitation worked for him. He's clean, he's working, he's happy and rebuilding trust with his family.

It doesn't take more than a brief look for Eve to realize that Lyle was murdered instead of falling off the wagon and overdosing. Her investigation takes her deep into the Bangers - Lyle's former gang - where she uncovers much more than the usual gang violence. There is dissension in the ranks, a corrupt disbarred lawyer, and plots and betrayals. There are also a whole bunch of stupid members of the gang.

While the case is pretty easily solved and lots of gang members are taken off the street, Eve is generally sad. She begins to think that the system that is her moral center has failed. It takes Roarke's support and his own explanation for why he helps her solve her cases before Eve regains her balance.

This was filled with the usual snarky banter between Eve and Peabody. It also explores more of Eve's unique viewpoint regarding social things and her usual mangling of idioms. Her relationship with Roarke and her friends remains strong and gives her emotional support as she does a difficult job.

The series continues to be strong even in this 48th episode.

Favorite Quote:
"We should do a girls' night," Peabody said. "Go to a club and -- no, a piano bar! Classy. We could all have fancy drinks, and --"

"Consider this conversation the closest you'll ever get me to a piano bar with a bunch of women drunk on fancy drinks. Who's on the mother?"
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Friday Memes: Connections in Death by J. D. Robb

Happy Friday everybody!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City ReaderThe Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Beginning:
The legalized torture of socializing lined right up with premeditated murder when you added the requirement of fancy shoes.

That was Lieutenant Eve Dallas's stand on it, and she should know. She was a murder cop in fancy shoes about to socialize.
Friday 56:
She let out a puff of air. "If I'd known there was trouble for him, I'd've called the police. The man I had the bad sense to hook up with when I was younger than that boy in there had some run-ins with the police, and they weren't much good to me back then, either. But I'd have called you in to help Lyle and his sister."
This week I am spotlighting the latest in the In Death series by J. D. Robb - Connections in Death. Here is the description from Amazon:
In this gritty and gripping new novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series, Eve Dallas fights to save the innocent―and serve justice to the guilty―on the streets of New York.

Homicide cop Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband, Roarke, are building a brand-new school and youth shelter. They know that the hard life can lead kids toward dangerous crossroads―and with this new project, they hope to nudge a few more of them onto the right path. For expert help, they hire child psychologist Dr. Rochelle Pickering―whose own brother pulled himself out of a spiral of addiction and crime with Rochelle’s support.

Lyle is living with Rochelle while he gets his life together, and he’s thrilled to hear about his sister’s new job offer. But within hours, triumph is followed by tragedy. Returning from a celebratory dinner with her boyfriend, she finds Lyle dead with a syringe in his lap, and Eve’s investigation confirms that this wasn’t just another OD. After all his work to get clean, Lyle’s been pumped full of poison―and a neighbor with a peephole reports seeing a scruffy, pink-haired girl fleeing the scene.

Now Eve and Roarke must venture into the gang territory where Lyle used to run, and the ugly underground world of tattoo parlors and strip joints where everyone has taken a wrong turn somewhere. They both believe in giving people a second chance. Maybe even a third or fourth. But as far as they’re concerned, whoever gave the order on Lyle Pickering’s murder has run out of chances…

Thursday, February 21, 2019

YA ARC Review: We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

We Set the Dark on Fire
Author: Tehlor Kay Mejia
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (February 26, 2019)

Description: In this daring and romantic fantasy debut perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and Latinx authors Zoraida C√≥rdova and Anna-Marie McLemore, society wife-in-training Dani has a great awakening after being recruited by rebel spies and falling for her biggest rival. 

At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children. Both paths promise a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class.

Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her pedigree is a lie. She must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society.

And school couldn’t prepare her for the difficult choices she must make after graduation, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio.

Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or will she give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

My Thoughts: This fantasy sets up a very different world. It has an island society with a sharp division between the rich and the poor. Based on an ancient religious myth, high society gentlemen take two wives. The young women are trained in exclusive schools to be either Primera - the wife who is her husband's advisor and the social face of the marriage - or the Segunda - the wife is centered around the home and children. Both sets are trained in the same school.

Daniela Vargas is the school's top student in the Primera track. But Dani is keeping a major secret, her whole life is a lie. Her parents snuck into the correct part of the island and Dani is at school under forged identity papers. On the verge of graduation and marriage, Dani is approached by a young man who introduces himself as Sota and who knows way too much about Dani's hidden past. He blackmails her into working for the Resistance which creates difficulty for Dani. She has been following the plan to marry into power in order to provide a better life for her family and to achieve the life her parents want for her - despite not wanting the life for herself.

Making her life even more complicated is that the Segunda chosen for their marriage is a long-time rival of hers from school. Carmen as bullied and belittled her for almost their whole school career though they did begin as friends.

Dani finds herself in a marriage to a man she doesn't like who also isn't following the rules about these sort of marriages. She is supposed to be his adviser and partner but he is treating her as a not very bright minion. And Carmen is behaving strangely too. All of sudden not only does she want to be Dani's friend but she is encouraging romantic relationship between the two of them. Dani falls in love with Carmen despite not knowing whether or not she can be trusted.

This story is filled with twists and turns and people with secrets and their own hidden agendas. Dani has a terrible time trying to decide what to do and who, if anyone, she can trust.

The world building was engaging and Dani was a character that I was engaged with. I kept hoping that things would go well for her. This is apparently the beginning of a series because the ending lacks resolution to many of the plot threads. I'll be looking forward to more to find out how things work out for Dani.

Favorite Quote:
It took Dani a moment to turn to stone this time. A hundred shades of girl, he'd called her, and though she hadn't appreciated the delivery, he'd been right. Dani slid into her lies like second skins. It was part of survival. She had no doubt she could do what he was asking her to do. The only question was, what would she be setting in motion if she did?
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

ARC Review: My Favorite Cowboy by Donna Grant

My Favorite Cowboy
Author: Donna Grant
Series: Heart of Texas, Book 3
Publication: St. Martin's Paperbacks (February 26, 2019)

Description: New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant rounds up the hottest cowboys in Texas in her latest novel of no-holds-barred passion.

Audrey Martinez is a veterinarian who has devoted her whole life to the care and protection of horses—even if doing so leaves her little time for meeting a man. Who would have thought that a strange case of criminal horseplay would lead her to falling deeply, wildly in love? If only the man who makes her heart race faster than a wild mustang would let his guard down, that is. . .

Caleb Harper is no ordinary cowboy. Sure, he wears his hat, boots, and jeans like a second skin, and displays an easygoing charm that comes from years of working on the ranch. But with his military background, and Army buddies at his side, he is tried-and-true Texas tough. Audrey knows she can trust a man like Caleb to help her save horses. But can Caleb trust himself to resist his attraction to Audrey—or will the sparks of their desire end up getting them burned?

My Thoughts: This romantic suspense title was filled with melodrama and insta-love.

Audrey Martinez is an equine veterinarian who is called to a friend's auction yard when some of his horses are sick. Audrey loves horses and has a reputation as an excellent vet, but their illness baffles her. Audrey has been focused on her career especially since the death of her mother and her father's decision to leave the family. It is just Audrey and her younger sister Maddy now.

Caleb Harper is a local ranch owner who has made a name for himself as a horse trainer since he left the Army and came back to begin his ranch with his brother Brice. He was raised by his sister Abby after his mother deserted the family when Caleb was six and Abby had just graduated from high school. Times were hard for them until Abby fell in love with rich rancher Clayton who helped her raise her brothers.

Both Audrey and Caleb are relationship-shy. Caleb's sense of abandonment shows in his history of having one-night stands and not having any relationship last more than a day or two. Audrey has also had a series of short-term relationships. Maddy says that it is because she is looking for Prince Charming and no real man can measure up to her ideal man.

But Caleb takes one look at Audrey when he comes to the auction barn and is fascinated. When Audrey is attacked and has her office ransacked, Caleb and his whole family take her and her sister under their wings and offers their protection.

While trying to solve the mystery of who is poisoning the horses and why, Caleb and Audrey fall in love. Naturally, given their histories, there are bumps in the road.

This was a nice romance albeit a little melodramatic. It is also third in a series but stands alone quite well.

Favorite Quote:
She didn't know why they hadn't killed Maddy, but she was thankful for that at least. But the attackers had done enough damage to her sister. It wasn't just Maddy's face and body that were bruised, it was her spirit, as well. Her bright, shining soul was dimmed, and Audrey feared that it might never glow again.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Book Review: Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch

Foxglove Summer
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Series: PC Peter Grant, Book 5
Publication: DAW; Reprint edition (January 6, 2015)

Description: When two young girls go missing in rural Herefordshire, police constable and wizard-in-training Peter Grant is sent out of London to check that nothing supernatural is involved.

It’s purely routine—Nightingale, Peter’s superior, thinks he’ll be done in less than a day. But Peter’s never been one to walk away from someone in trouble, so when nothing overtly magical turns up he volunteers his services to the local police, who need all the help they can get.

But because the universe likes a joke as much as the next sadistic megalomaniac, Peter soon comes to realize that dark secrets underlie the picturesque fields and villages of the countryside and there might just be work for Britain’s most junior wizard after all.

Soon Peter’s in a vicious race against time, in a world where the boundaries between reality and fairy have never been less clear....

My Thoughts: Two young girls go missing in rural Herefordshire and PC Peter Grant is sent from London to check that there is nothing supernatural going on. Also, his superior Thomas Nightingale wants to take Peter's mind off the Lesley's going over to the dark side. At first, it looks like a horrifying but not magical crime until the girls' cellphones are discovered trashed in a way that indicates magic was used around them.

Between meeting one of Nightingale's old colleagues and having the chance to find out more about his mysterious boss's past and one of the missing girls' invisible friend, Peter has a lot to investigate. While Nightingale remains in London to make sure that Lesley isn't planning to plunder the Folly, he does send Beverly Brook to assist. She is a river goddess and Peter's new girlfriend and has an in with a group Peter doesn't.

Throw in changelings and encounters with the Fair Folk and you have an action-packed supernatural adventure filled with Peter's usual snark. Fans of the series will enjoy this latest episode in an engaging urban fantasy/police procedural series.

Favorite Quote:
We were pretty certain we knew roughly where he'd been, but members of the public have an unnerving tendency to switch straight from lying to your face to telling you what they think you want to hear - with no intervening period of veracity at all. That's fine when you're looking for them to put their hand up to some crimes and boost your clear-up statistics. But when the lives of two kids depends on the accuracy of the statement, you tend to be a bit more thorough.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, February 18, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Feb. 18, 2019)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

I will be combining my YA and adult reading and purchases on this one weekly roundup.

Other Than Reading...

It snowed last Sunday, last Monday, and last Tuesday which kept me at home. The sun came out on Wednesday and I managed to get to Curves four days in a row. It snowed again Thursday afternoon but didn't begin until I was home from my exercise session.

My brother and I went out to dinner on Thursday to a place that has been around for years and years but had sort of slipped our memory. Bridgeman's is a local ice cream parlor but also sells food. We both had burgers and fries and one of Bridgeman's famous malted milks. He had strawberry and I had chocolate banana. I brought more than half of my malt home and stored it in the freezer for another day. Maybe today's the day! We decided that we had to come back again soon. They had so many interesting things on the menu.

I'm counting down the days until the beginning of baseball's Spring Training. I think the first game will be on TV next weekend. The Voice is set to begin a new season next week too. I'm also excited about that.

After another DNF on my review stack this week, I was wishing that a person could read a brief sample of a book before selecting it for review. It wouldn't have taken much from the one I DNFed to know that I wasn't going to get along with the style.

Read Last Week

If you can't wait until the review shows up on my blog, reviews are posted to LibraryThing and Goodreads as soon as I write them (usually right after I finish reading a book.)

  • Cast in Oblivion by Michelle Sagara (Mine) - 14th in the Chronicles of Elantra. My review will be posted on March 2.
  • Trouble on the Books by Essie Lang (Review) - So-so cozy mystery. Lots of inconsistencies in plot and characterization. My review will be posted on March 3.
  • The True Queen by Zen Cho (Review) - Historical fantasy with engaging plot and characters. My review will be posted on March 5.


  • Murder in Belgravia by Lynn Brittney (Review) - Historical mystery set in 1915 which begins a new series. My review will be posted on March 9.
  • Navigating the Stars by Maria V. Snyder (Mine) - Classic space opera with aliens and romance. My review will be posted on March 7.
  • Murder from Scratch by Leslie Karst (Review) - Entertaining cozy culinary mystery. My review will be posted on March 10.

DNF
The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees (Review) - I quit this one at 14%. I didn't enjoy the writing style which was too "Literary" for me. There were lots of lush descriptions and a confusing plot. 


Currently
Sherwood by Meagan Spooner (Review) - I grew up on The Adventures of Robin Hood and am enjoying this reimagining of the story.

Next Week




Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

Bought:


New Review:




What was your week like?

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Book Review: The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop

The Shadow Queen
Author: Anne Bishop
Series: Black Jewels (Book 7)
Publication: Roc (February 2, 2009)

Description: In a tumultuous world ruled by witches and warlocks who wear their power as jewels, one Queen’s chance at redemption is the last hope for a desperate people in this novel set in the world of the Black Jewels...

Theran Grayhaven is the last of his line, desperate to restore the land of Dena Nehele. But first he needs to find a Queen who knows Protocol, remembers the Blood’s code of honor, and lives by the Old Ways.

Languishing in the Shadow Realm, Lady Cassidy is a Queen without a court, a castoff. But when she is chosen to rule Dena Nehele, she must convince bitter men to serve once again.

Theran’s cousin Gray is a Warlord Prince who was damaged in mind and body by the vicious Queens who once ruled Dena Nehele. Yet something about Cassidy makes him want to serve—and makes him believe he can be made whole once again.

And only Cassidy can prove to Gray—and to herself—that wounds can heal and even the whisper of a promise can be fulfilled...

My Thoughts: This story has two main plot threads. In the largest one, Theran Grayhaven comes from Terreille to Kaeleer to call on an old favor from Daemon Sadi. He is a descendant of Jared and Lia (The Invisible Ring). He is living in a wartorn land. After Jaenelle cleansed the Blood of all of Dorothea's influence, the landen in Terreille revolted. This revolt was put down but Terreille, particularly Dena Nehele, lacks Queens. Those who survived are either to old or too young to create a court and restore the land.

Lady Cassidy is a Queen without a court. Her court was seduced away from her by a younger, prettier queen. She knows she's tall, gawky, and not pretty and her confidence has been wrecked by the desertion of the Warlords who should have stayed pledged to her. She is a friend of Jaenelle's and an excellent Queen who cares for her land and her people.

Daemon asks Jaenelle who suggests that Cassidy might be the one Theran needs. However, Theran takes one look at her and his disappointment is very clear to her. To him, her lack of beauty and power indicate a woman who won't be able to claim the loyalty of any of the Warlords and Warlord Princes who have fought to keep Dena Nehele.

Since the choice is Cassidy or no one, Theran reluctantly brings her to his home knowing that Daemon, Lucivar, and Saetan and other friends will be keeping an eye on the situation.

One of the first people Cassidy meets in Gray. Gray is Theran's cousin and a victim of the old Queens. He was captured at fifteen and tortured until he was rescued two years later. He only feels safe when he's working in the gardens at Grayhaven and still has an emotional age of fifteen. However, meeting Cassidy and falling in love with her make him willing to battle his hurts and grow up.

Meanwhile, Daemon is having a hard time convincing himself that Jaenelle can love the whole of himself. Even he has trouble with the part of himself known as the Sadist. And Saetan, who has retreated to the Keep, after giving control of Dhemlan to Daemon, finds out that even though Dorothea and her disciples are gone homegrown evil still exists which almost brings out the man who destroyed Zuulaman and almost costs him his sanity.

This was an excellent story filled with wonderful characters set in a fascinating world.

Favorite Quote:
"When a man has scars like that, there are boundaries he can't cross, lines he has to draw to keep himself whole. But those boundaries aren't as small as you might think, and a man can choose to live safe or he can choose to live right up to those lines. He might slip over a line every now and then, and that will hurt like a wicked bitch, but he might decide that what he gains will be worth the price."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.