Saturday, April 21, 2018

ARC Review: What You Want to See by Kristen Lepionka

What You Want to See
Author: Kristen Lepionka
Series: Roxanne Weary (Book 2)
Publication: Minotaur Books (May 1, 2018)

Description: The thrilling follow up to The Last Place You Look, starring troubled and determined private investigator, Roxane Weary.

Marin Strasser has a secret. Her fiancĂ© thinks her secret is that she’s having an affair, and he hires P.I. Roxane Weary to prove it.Then, just days into the case, Marin is shot to death on a side street in an apparent mugging. But soon enough the police begin to focus on Roxane's client for Marin’s death, so she starts to dig deeper into Marin’s life―discovering that the elegant woman she’s been following has a past and a half, including two previous marriages, an adult son fresh out of prison, and a criminal record of her own. The trail leads to a crew of con artists, an ugly real estate scam that defrauds unsuspecting elderly homeowners out of their property, and the suspicious accident of a wealthy older woman who lives just down the street from where Marin was killed.

With Roxane’s client facing a murder indictment, the scammers hit close to home to force Roxane to drop the case, and it becomes clear that the stakes are as high as the secrets run deep.

My Thoughts: Roxane Weary's next case should be an easy one: follow her client's fiance to see if she is having an affair. Things get more complicated when the fiance is found shot to death on the street after having an argument with Roxane's employer. Worst yet, her employer's gun is missing and it might be the murder weapon.

Roxane has to clear her client. As she begins to dig into Marin Strasser's background more questions than answers are found. She says she's an interior decorator but her business card has only a phone number and an email address and tracking down previous clients seems to show that she was stealing from them. And it looks like she has scammed her fiance Arthur Ungless out of $75,000 for "wedding plans." Digging deeper leads to a previous marriage where she also tried some scams and left angry heirs behind.

Roxane also uncovers some illegal activity going on at Arthur's printing business. Apparently an employee had decided to branch out by making illegal IDs, driver's licenses, and passports. This brought the business to the attention of a local criminal which resulted in the death of the criminal's daughter and which brings Roxane to the criminal's attention.

Throw in Marin's son who is just out of prison and eager to find another scam and you have plots and twists all over the place. Roxane has scaled back her alcohol use in this one but she is also really lonely. Her relationship with Tom, one of her father's proteges, has changed since he's found a new girlfriend and her relationship with a former girlfriend is also in a precarious situation. The girlfriend is trying to contact Roxane but Roxane isn't sure if she wants to get involved with her again.

I enjoyed the twists and turns in this mystery. Fans of the first book won't want to miss this one.

Favorite Quote:
I wouldn't have described myself as a workaholic, not exactly. Just a person with an obsessive need to resolve the things that I got paid to resolve. "I'm pretty boring," I said. "When I have a case, all I do is work. When I don't have a case, I mostly just sleep."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Friday Memes: What You Want to See by Kristen Lepionka

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:
Urban renewal was in the air on Bryden Road. The dilapidated house across the street from my apartment had been condemned, foreclosed, and eventually purchased by a fighty grad-student couple who appeared to be using the renovation process as experimental marriage counseling.
Friday 56:
I stopped in my bedroom to swap out my shirt for a tank top. As I got closer to the kitchen, I smelled freshly baked bread and rosemary. I said hey and stood in the doorway, taking in Shelby's expression of absolute horror as she brandished a small canister of garlic powder. "This expired nine years ago."
This week I am spotlighting What You Want to See by Kristen Lepionka. This is the second Roxanne Weary mystery. Here is the description from Amazon:
The thrilling follow up to The Last Place You Look, starring troubled and determined private investigator, Roxane Weary

Marin Strasser has a secret. Her fiancĂ© thinks her secret is that she’s having an affair, and he hires P.I. Roxane Weary to prove it. Then, just days into the case, Marin is shot to death on a side street in an apparent mugging. But soon enough the police begin to focus on Roxane's client for Marin’s death, so she starts to dig deeper into Marin’s life―discovering that the elegant woman she’s been following has a past and a half, including two previous marriages, an adult son fresh out of prison, and a criminal record of her own. The trail leads to a crew of con artists, an ugly real estate scam that defrauds unsuspecting elderly homeowners out of their property, and the suspicious accident of a wealthy older woman who lives just down the street from where Marin was killed.

With Roxane’s client facing a murder indictment, the scammers hit close to home to force Roxane to drop the case, and it becomes clear that the stakes are as high as the secrets run deep.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

ARC Review: Shattered Mirror by Iris Johansen

Shattered Mirror
Author: Iris Johansen
Series: Eve Duncan (Book 23)
Publication: St. Martin's Press (April 24, 2018)

Description: From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes Shattered Mirror, a new explosive thriller featuring forensic sculptor Eve Duncan.

Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan is once again thrown into a deadly game of intrigue when she receives a cryptic package containing a skull and a two sided mirror. Eve is determined to reconstruct the skull and uncover the mystery of the person’s identity, and when she does, the face of a beautiful woman begins to emerge. But who is she?

As Eve gets closer and closer to finding the answer, she becomes swept up in a lethal chase that spans continents and threatens to destroy the family that she has worked so hard to bring together. Eve and her team must work quickly to discover who is behind the murder – and maybe even prevent more loss of life. But how do you fight a killer who is willing to destroy anyone as a means to an end?

No one is safe in #1 New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen’s next explosive, high-stakes thriller that will keep readers on the edge of their seat through every heart-pounding chapter.

My Thoughts: This story begins with a burnt skull with a bullet hole wrapped in a nice package with and including a two-sided mirror being left on Eve Duncan's front porch. Because her fey and precocious six-year-old Michael encourages her to restore the skull so that the victim can find her way home, Eve begins something that will lead to incredible danger.

Then the story switches to Cara at school with her new roommate former child star Darcy Nichols. Cara is wishing to visit Eve, Joe and Michael and angsting over her relationship with Jock Gavin who has been out of touch for some months. Cara is also planning her usual month with her Russian mafia grandfather Sergei Kaskov which makes Jock and her family uneasy. When her rooms are broken into in New York, she takes Darcy and goes back to stay with Eve for a while leaving Jock to investigate.

Cara's relationship with Jock is changing. She's eighteen now and not the traumatized eleven-year-old that Jock rescued. They've had years of being best friends but now she is starting to feel grown-up feeling around him. Jock is a former assassin who feels that Cara can do better and he's been waiting for years to find some more appropriate for her to love.

When they get to Eve's, they are all surprised and upset to find that the skull belongs to Darcy's secret twin sister. She was brain-damaged at birth and Darcy's mother blackmailed Darcy to work in show business to earn the money to provide her sister with the kind of care she needed while forbidding her to visit her. However, they do have a twin mental communication which they could use to get around their mother's rules. Only, the twin Sylvie dropped off Darcy's mental radar a couple of months before and now Darcy knows why.

The villain has set up a complex plot to get revenge on Eve, Cara, and Cara's grandfather leaving Darcy as collateral damage. It will be up to Eve, Joe, Jock, and Kaskov with Cara, Michael and Darcy's help to defeat the villain before he can complete his plot.

This was well-written. I enjoyed the fast pace of the story and the relationships between the characters. I like that Cara is part of a family formed by love rather than blood relationships. I liked her growing and changing relationship with Jock.

Favorite Quote:
Eve's glance shifted to the skull in front of her. Talking to Cara had brought home to her that life was difficult and filled with problems, but with effort they had a chance of being solved. the ugliness that had been done to this young woman and teh silent threat of her being deposited on Eve's doorstep might not be as easy to resolve.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

ARC Review: A Town Called Vengeance by Kevin Wolf

A Town Called Vengeance
Author: Kevin Wolf
Series: Brokeheart
Publication: North Star Editions (May 1, 2018)

Description: Faded words on yellowed newsprint tell stories of an Apache war party led by a she-wolf. For the frontier newspaperman, Kepler, the accounts beckon him to finish the battles he fought in the Colorado mountains. Kepler’s quest brings stagecoach attacks, waterless days in the Arizona desert and an unholy alliance with a creature of darkness. In a barroom in a town called Vengeance Kepler faces down the gunman that even Doc Holiday feared. Renegades and gunrunners stand in his way. And his sacrifice may cost the woman he loves. Will his crusade for justice turn to a fight for revenge? In a battle fought with silver bullets and fire, will Kepler’s courage be enough?

My Thoughts: This is the second book in a series that began with BROKEHEART. In this story, Kepler has come with June to Vengeance, Arizona Territory, following rumors of a pack of werewolves. He wants revenge on Landry, the female leader of the pack, because of events that happened in BROKEHEART. Kepler is a gifted newspaperman. He finds that, in addition to the werewolf threat, the town is also being threatened by roving Apache warbands.

When he humiliates an outlaw named Little Jed, Little Jed retaliates by firing a shotgun through Kepler's bedroom window almost killing him and June but Little Jed is in turn killed by a wolf who just happens to be Landry, the wolf Kepler is after. Little Jed's death puts his father Jedidiah Bethea on Kepler's path bent on revenge.

Kepler decides to take June and head for Tombstone with a Pinkerton agent named Orville Powers who is taking a number of women with him. What he doesn't expect is for all of his enemies to band together and set Kepler up for a chase across the Arizona desert to rescue June.

I enjoyed this blending of the tradition Western with werewolves. What confused me a little was Landry's relationship with Kepler. He clearly wanted her dead but she helps him over and over again through the course of this book. I enjoyed Kepler but wished I knew a little more about his backstory. I guess BROKEHEART will have to go on my reading list.

Favorite Quote:
Night and dark fell away, and I saw her plainly. Landry gathered her skirts, knelt, and grazed the bloodstained dirt with her fingers. Her purple-tinged eyes found me, and she touched a fingertip to her tongue.

"Kepler." My name floated on the moonlight, and like the wisp of smoke that carried Little Jed's killer away, she was gone.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

ARC Review: Save Me by Tiffany Snow

Save Me
Author: Tiffany Snow
Series: Corrupted Hearts (Book 4)
Publication: Montlake Romance (April 17, 2018)

Description: In this fast-paced romantic suspense, China Mack will make one final choice.

Computer genius China Mack may be the former head of Vigilance, the government’s clandestine spy program, but she can still be knocked off balance. And two back-to-back personal blows have thrown her into a tailspin.

While her relationship with tech billionaire Jackson Cooper is on the rocks, China is testing the boundaries of what she feels for man-of-mystery Clark Slattery. But when China learns that her mother’s death sixteen years ago wasn’t an accident, she can’t rest until she knows the truth. And China’s own father, an elusive ex–CIA agent, might have been the killer. To avenge her mother’s death, she needs help, and both Jackson and Clark step up to the plate. But when her investigation is linked to a decades-old international plot to hack the New York Stock Exchange, putting both of the men she loves in danger, China must make an impossible decision to keep them safe.

As the three of them are plunged into a far-reaching conspiracy, China’s notions of love and trust are turned upside down. For China, this final case couldn’t be more personal—or more dangerous.

My Thoughts: This is the fourth China Mack adventure. This time China has broken up with her billionaire tech boyfriend Jackson Cooper and is trying out a relationship with the mysterious Clark Slattery. This causes borderline Asperger's China all sorts of stress because she has real conflicts about falling in love and loves both of those very different men.

When China learns that her mother's death when China was eight was not an accident and that her mother's lover Mark Danvers who also happens to be her father might have been the one to murder her, China is determined to find out if the information is true and if so to find her missing father. When she discovers her ex-CIA agent mother's journal and a video, she learns that despite being married, her mother falls completely in love with fellow agent Danvers and conducts an affair with him that results in China's birth. The idea that Danvers then killed her mother convinces China that love can only lead to the ultimate betrayal.

When following her mother's trail leads to the discovery of a computer program that was put in place to protect the New York Stock Exchange from the Y2K virus but had a suspicious backdoor, she and Jackson find themselves the target of murderers who don't want that mysterious backdoor to come to the public's attention. They barely escape with their lives.

China decides to leave both of her men behind and go off the grid to find her missing father and find out what really happened when her mother died. There she spends time using her computer programming skills to track down her father and set up a trap for him. But, while she is doing her thing, both Jackson and Clark are doing theirs. Clark calls on his CIA contacts to track down Danvers and Jackson uses his tech genius to follow the money. The final confrontation happens in New Orleans where China finally decides which of the men she is in love with and learns things about her father that change her viewpoint about him.

I really like China. She is not good with social clues, collects all sorts of fandom memorabilia, has a pretty inflexible routine for her life, is a way-off-the-charts genius, and has a flawed self-image. I'm glad that her story ends up with a happy ending.

Favorite Quote:
"Yeah. Chances are she'll take the bus. It's the most anonymous way, and she's been reading those Jack Reacher books lately."

Great. Only he would have a genius girlfriend who thought she could be Jack Reacher when she broke out in hives if the clock on her microwave didn't match the clock on the DVR.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

First Paragraph/Teaser Tuesday: Shattered Mirror by Iris Johansen

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posted the first paragraph of a book she is reading or planning to read. In 2018, Vicki from I'd Rather Be at the Beach is taking over this meme.

Here's mine:
The lights in the lake cottage sent out a cozy glow that lit the banks of the lake and made that  house of death appear welcoming. Everything about the place and property spoke of beauty and a deceptive invitation that made one think that all was well with this world.
 
Link up here. It is very easy to play along:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.
Here's mine:
"How could you get in my way when I hardly ever see you?"

"I seem to manage," he said dryly. "There's no one in the world as loyal and steadfast as you, Cara. I saved your life, so you think it belongs to me? It belongs to you. Only to you, Cara."
This week I am reading Shattered Mirror by Iris Johansen. It is the most recent in the Eve Duncan series. Here is the description from Amazon:
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes Shattered Mirror, a new explosive thriller featuring forensic sculptor Eve Duncan.

Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan is once again thrown into a deadly game of intrigue when she receives a cryptic package containing a skull and a two sided mirror. Eve is determined to reconstruct the skull and uncover the mystery of the person’s identity, and when she does, the face of a beautiful woman begins to emerge. But who is she?

As Eve gets closer and closer to finding the answer, she becomes swept up in a lethal chase that spans continents and threatens to destroy the family that she has worked so hard to bring together. Eve and her team must work quickly to discover who is behind the murder – and maybe even prevent more loss of life. But how do you fight a killer who is willing to destroy anyone as a means to an end?

No one is safe in #1 New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen’s next explosive, high-stakes thriller that will keep readers on the edge of their seat through every heart-pounding chapter.

Monday, April 16, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (April 16, 2018)

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. YA and middle grade reviews will still be posted on  Ms. Martin Teaches Media - my other blog.

Other Than Reading...

New week, same old weather. It was cold and snowed again a couple of days this week. Most of the new snow melted the same day and some of the old snow is finally melting away. Forecast is calling for 5 - 8 inches of snow from Saturday afternoon to Monday morning. Right now (Saturday morning) the wind is howling which is a good thing because it is pushing the bulk of the snow south. Central Minnesota is expecting between 12 and 18 inches of snow this weekend.

My brother was sick last Sunday; he thought it was food poisoning. Unfortunately, he was wrong as I caught the same thing on Friday and still don't feel very well. All I felt like doing was laying on the couch and reading some comfort books.

My Beginner's Chair Yoga class was cancelled for lack of enrollment. So I was switched into Beginning Soma Yoga which was interesting. I bought myself a yoga mat and will be going on Tuesday afternoon until the end of May.

Read Last Week
The Game Can't Love You Back by Karole Cozzo - review to be posted May 11
The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst - review to be posted May 12
Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson - review to be posted May 16

After finishing these review books, I got sucked back into reading The Others series by Anne Bishop. I was only going to read Written in Red but couldn't stop until I finished the series again.
Written in Red by Anne Bishop
Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop
Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop
Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop
Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop

Currently
Aftermath by Kelley Armstrong (May 22)

Next Week
Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe by Preston Norton (June 5)
How We Roll by Natasha Friend (June 5)
Triple Crown by Felix Francis (mine - added 4/18/17)
Montana by Gwen Florio (mine - added 2/15/18)

Reviews Posted

On Inside of a Dog:
The Viridian Convict by Sam York 
Whispers of the Dead by Spencer Kope
Collecting the Dead by Spencer Kope
Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs
Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet

On Ms. Martin Teaches Media:
Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian
Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton

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

Bought
Wild Hearts by Kimber White
Lock In by John Scazi

Review
Aftermath by Kelley Armstrong (May 22)
A Merciful Silence by Kendra Elliot (June 19)

What was your week like?

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Book Review: Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs

Burn Bright
Author: Patricia Briggs
Series: Alpha and Omega (Book 5)
Publication: Ace (March 6, 2018)

Description: In her bestselling Alpha and Omega series, Patricia Briggs "spins tales of werewolves, coyote shifters, and magic and, my, does she do it well" (USATODAY.com). Now mated werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham face a threat like no other--one that lurks too close to home...

They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok's pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm.

With their Alpha out of the country, Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the mountainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf--but can't stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills--his as enforcer, hers as peacemaker--to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past that springs from the darkest magic of the witchborn...

My Thoughts: With Bran out of the country, Charles is in charge of his pack temporarily. It's not a position he has ever wanted. He doesn't get along with Bran's wife who delights in causing trouble. Anna has been deflecting her to make things smoother for Charles.

When a distress call comes in from the fae mate of one of the wilding wolves who live in isolation within the pack, Charles and Anna discover an old enemy and a traitor within the pack. Anna uses her skill as an omega wolf to free one of the wildings from a curse that has had a grip on him for over 90 years which was one of the most interesting parts of this story. I liked the imagery of this section of the story which has Anna caught in a sort of dreamworld with fairy tale images. She needs Charles's magic to help her free Wellesley's wolf from a thorn hedge. When she calls for him he is in the middle of a fight with a group of the other wildlings.

This story was interesting and moved the overall story arc along by identifying a mysterious villain who had caused problems before. But not much else happens in the book. I wouldn't recommend starting the series here but those who have read the series won't want to miss this episode.

Favorite Quote:
If she had never become the victim of the Chicago pack's desperation, who would she be?

Would she have found someone else? A boy her age? Sweet and strong, full of hope -- unfouled by centuries of killing? Could she have made a home with some other man? Had a dog, a couple of cats, and 2.3 children?

The only thing that he knew for sure was that Anna wouldn't have been crying over a pair of dead werewolves, one of whom she'd tried to save and the other whom she had killed herself.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday Memes: Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs

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:
This was bad. This was so very bad.
Quite an ominous beginning.

Friday 56: 
There was an instant of blazing pain so big it had a sound that vibrated his bones, followed by silence.
This week I am featuring Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs. I enjoy this author's urban fantasy novels and this is book 5 in the series. Here is the description from Amazon:
In her bestselling Alpha and Omega series, Patricia Briggs "spins tales of werewolves, coyote shifters, and magic and, my, does she do it well" (USATODAY.com). Now mated werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham face a threat like no other--one that lurks too close to home...

They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok's pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm.

With their Alpha out of the country, Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the mountainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf--but can't stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills--his as enforcer, hers as peacemaker--to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past that springs from the darkest magic of the witchborn...

Thursday, April 12, 2018

ARC Review: Whispers of the Dead by Spencer Kope

Whispers of the Dead
Author: Spencer Kope
Series: Special Tracking Unit (Book 2)
Publication: Minotaur Books (April 17, 2018)

Description: A series of bizarre murders―the victims nearly unidentifiable―forces FBI tracker “Steps” Craig to match wits with the most cold-blooded killer he’s ever encountered.

There has been a murder, but not only is the identity of the victim unknown, most of the body itself is missing. All that’s been found is a pair of feet, stored in a portable cooler, and left in the house of a Federal judge in El Paso, Texas. The killer apparently broke into the judge’s house, left his grizzly message, and disappeared without a trace. With no clues as to the killer, the person killed, or the intent behind the cooler, all the authorities really know is that this likely isn’t the killer’s first―or his last―victim.

Magnus “Steps” Craig is an FBI agent and an elite tracker, easily the best in the world. Steps is renowned for his incredible ability to find and follow trails over any surface. As part of the three-man special team, FBI’s Special Tracking Unit (STU), he is called in on cases where his skills are indispensable. But there’s a secret to his skill. Steps has a kind of synesthesia, an ability that allows him to see whatever each particular person has touched in a unique color―what Steps calls ‘shine.’ His ability is known to only a few people―his father, the director of the FBI, and his partner, Special Agent Jimmy Donovan.

While the Special Tracking Unit tries to grapple with the gruesome scene in El Paso, they soon discover another, earlier victim. Once again, only the feet―in a disposable icebox―were left behind. With almost no clues besides the body parts, Steps and his team find themselves enmeshed in the most difficult case of their careers. And The Icebox Killer has only just begun.

My Thoughts: The latest case for Steps Craig and his partner Jimmy Donovan is a puzzler. They are called to El Paso because a Federal Judge has found a cooler with feet in it in his living room. Steps sees everyone in different colors which is very helpful in his investigations but needs to be kept secret. He can use his ability to see the shine of a killer and, by seeing the shine on multiple victims, know if the killer is a serial killer. However, his ability isn't evidence that can lead to a court conviction so he and his partner need to find conventional evidence too.

The first pair of feet leads to another pair of feet this time in the home of a defense attorney. Steps and Jimmy spend a lot of time on their Gulfstream jet traveling between crime sites. Their office assistant Diane holds down the fort at their home location in Washington State and is a computer guru who tracks down all sorts of evidence for them from State and Federal databases. Very few people know about Steps's special ability and Diane isn't one of them though she is getting suspicious.

Despite Steps's special ability which can only be muted by special lead crystal glasses and which causes massive headaches, Jimmy and Steps still need to do the ordinary police work of knocking on doors and traveling up and down I-10 from Texas to Albuquerque to follow the path of the killer they have nicknamed the Ice Box Killer.

What I enjoyed most about this book was the friendship between Steps and Jimmy and the way they work so well together. I also liked seeing Steps's relationship with journalist Heather growing. I thought the fact that he wrote her letters was romantic. I also liked that he felt that it was time to tell her about his special ability but couldn't quite bring himself to do it.

The writing was engaging as it was told by Steps who has a number of interesting personality quirks. The action was fast-paced. The mystery itself was nicely done with clues and motives gradually revealed. I recommend this series. Start with COLLECTING THE DEAD to get the whole story but this one does stand alone quite well.

Favorite Quote:
I'm not interested in the ice box; I'm keeping my distance. Styrofoam freaks me out. I don't know why, it just does. I have issues, okay?

The only thing that freaks me out as much as Styrofoam is your standard everyday forest. Anytime large numbers of deciduous and evergreen trees start milling about together, you know it can't end well.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Book Review: Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Heart on Fire
Author: Amanda Bouchet
Series: Kingmaker Chronicles (Book 3)
Publication: Sourcebooks Casablanca (January 2, 2018)

Description: GODS. I’M AN IDIOT.

Without Griffin—and apparently a few meddling Gods—to push me along, I’d still be telling fortunes at the circus, lying about my past, ignoring my future, and living as far away from my tyrant mother as humanly possible.

True understanding thuds into place. Hope isn’t just an abstract concept; it’s me. Flesh and blood me. Griffin knew it all along. Probably everyone did. I’m an idea in human form.

I have the power of the Gods at my fingertips.
The only thing ever stopping me has been me.


My Thoughts: The finale of the Kingmaker Chronicles is action-packed and really puts our heroes to the test. Cat is pregnant, has unreliable magic, and is building an army to defeat her mother who is the most evil of evil villains.

Cat's main problem is that she doesn't have confidence in her magic. All the people around her see her as the embodiment of hope for a new better future but she has her doubts. Those doubts are magnified when she finds out how much the gods have interfered with her life and with Griffin's.

When Griffin's brother Piers calls a god to ask him to take her away from Griffin, she learns that her main protector when she was a child was actually Ares, the god of war. Of course, Piers's actions don't go quite as he thought. He missed the part of the scroll that said "call a god, lose a soul." Since Ares won't take a pregnant Cat, he has to choose between Griffin, who the gods want right where he is, and Kaia, his own innocent younger sister. Griffin sees Piers's actions as a major betrayal of him and his family. When Piers is sent off with Athena, Griffin is angry and betrayed and has his faith in his family tested.

That is only one test the Cat and Griffin have to deal with here. When searching for a potion to make her unreliable magic more reliable, she and Griffin run into her mother who is posing as the hermit and, when poisoning her fails, throws her into a volcano. Only the sudden appearance of wings she didn't know she had save her. However, those same wings fail her when she is sent to Tartarus by Zeus for trying to assume a gods powers. Cat needs to finally believe that she has what is necessary for her magic to work reliably before she can escape and get back to Griffin.

This was a great conclusion to a series that has been filled with action, adventure and romance from the very beginning. I like the worldbuilding and I really like the characters in this series. I love the relationship between Cat and Griffin. Fans of epic fantasy won't want to miss this series.

Favorite Quote:
Griffin sweeps his hands down my arms. His skin is rough, his touch gentle. "Don't doubt us, Cat. Don't doubt me."

I take a shaky breath. "I don't. I just...I'm..." I stop, at a loss.

Griffin lifts his eyebrows. "Inarticulate at the moment?"

Scowling, I thwack him in the chest.

"Overwrought?" he supplies, his mouth quirking up.

I thwack him again.

"Highly emotional?"

Thwack. Thwack.

"Apparently weak, because none of that hurts at all."

I give him the evil eye -- a grumpy one.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

ARC Review: The Viridian Convict by Sam York

The Viridian Convict
Author: Sam York
Series: Blue Dominion
Publication: North Star Editions (April 10, 2018)

Description: The Godfather meets Guardians of the Galaxy in this crazy-ass adventure set on Viridian, a prison planet full of aliens…who want to eat you. Tig, the only human, is thrust into a lose/lose/lose situation when the mob boss he works for asks him to pick up and deliver a package that the Fed—the governing body of the known universe—also wants. To make matters worse, the “package” has curves for days, an attitude to match, and her own agenda for how this is all going down.

My Thoughts: Tig works as a muni on the prison planet of Viridian. Munis are enforcers of a sort for Granny who is the crime lord of the world. Tig happens to be the only human on the planet. He was a cop on Earth and framed when the planet was annexed by the Fed - short for Federation. Sentenced to the prison planet, he first became a drug addict. Now he is clean but torn between working for Granny and working for Mia who is a Fed who has something on him. Generally he has convinced himself not to care about things because he has no control over his life.

When he is tasked with picking up a package and bringing it to Granny, Mia interferes and orders him to bring the package to the Sisterhood. Tig picks up the package which turns out to be a lovely girl but he isn't the only one who wants her and she isn't okay with being anyone's package.

Tig finds and loses the girl he calls Angel a few times. Rumor has it that she has a package that will make anyone who controls her rich. The Swans, also known as the Cluckers, capture her a couple of times. It also seems that whenever Tig does manage to catch up with her, his enemies aren't far behind and his private informants and his few friends are killed whenever he calls on them for help.

This was a twisty science fiction story where everyone except Tig have bunches of hidden motives for their actions. He isn't quite TSTL -Too Stupid to Live - but he seems a little clueless and too trusting for someone who has survived ten years on a very hostile planet.

The story was fast-paced and reminded me a bit of a noir mystery. Tig is the same sort of character as the detectives in those stories - hard-boiled, tough, graphic vocabulary, and unsentimental but a sucker for a beautiful woman. I'll be eager to see where this series goes next.

Favorite Quote:
Both of my options came with lethal consequences.

Do as Mia asked, and Granny would flay me alive.

Stay loyal to Granny and Mia would see me executed.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

First Paragraph/Teaser Tuesday: Whispers of the Dead by Spencer Kope

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posted the first paragraph of a book she is reading or planning to read. In 2018, Vicki from I'd Rather Be at the Beach is taking over this meme.

Here's mine:
Darkness -- nearly complete.

Overwhelmed and surrounded, a single incandescent bulb pushes back defiantly against the stygian black. Its feeble light barely reaches through the emptiness, but what illumination it brings reveals the length of a man secured horizontally to a low bench with leather straps and restraints.
 
Link up here. It is very easy to play along:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.
Here's mine:
"Go ahead and collect all the police tape," Jimmy tells the officer. "Close down the crime scene; we're done here."
This week I am reading Whispers of the Dead by Spencer Kope. I got this eARC from NetGalley. Here is the description from Amazon:
A series of bizarre murders―the victims nearly unidentifiable―forces FBI tracker “Steps” Craig to match wits with the most cold-blooded killer he’s ever encountered.

There has been a murder, but not only is the identity of the victim unknown, most of the body itself is missing. All that’s been found is a pair of feet, stored in a portable cooler, and left in the house of a Federal judge in El Paso, Texas. The killer apparently broke into the judge’s house, left his grizzly message, and disappeared without a trace. With no clues as to the killer, the person killed, or the intent behind the cooler, all the authorities really know is that this likely isn’t the killer’s first―or his last―victim.

Magnus “Steps” Craig is an FBI agent and an elite tracker, easily the best in the world. Steps is renowned for his incredible ability to find and follow trails over any surface. As part of the three-man special team, FBI’s Special Tracking Unit (STU), he is called in on cases where his skills are indispensable. But there’s a secret to his skill. Steps has a kind of synesthesia, an ability that allows him to see whatever each particular person has touched in a unique color―what Steps calls ‘shine.’ His ability is known to only a few people―his father, the director of the FBI, and his partner, Special Agent Jimmy Donovan.

While the Special Tracking Unit tries to grapple with the gruesome scene in El Paso, they soon discover another, earlier victim. Once again, only the feet―in a disposable icebox―were left behind. With almost no clues besides the body parts, Steps and his team find themselves enmeshed in the most difficult case of their careers. And The Icebox Killer has only just begun.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Book Review: Collecting the Dead by Spencer Kope

Collecting the Dead
Author: Spencer Kope
Series: Special Tracking Unit (Book 1)
Publication: Minotaur Books (June 28, 2016)

Description: Magnus “Steps” Craig is part of an elite three-man Special Tracking Unit of the FBI, charged with finding the lost or abducted and bringing them home. Dubbed “The Human Bloodhound,” Steps is renowned for his incredible ability to find and follow trails over any surface. He has a special skill―known only to his partner―that has enabled his team to stop seventeen serial killers over the past five years. But now there’s a new monster at-large, and the bodies are piling up.

When the remains of one young woman are found, Steps recognizes the “signature” from another crime scene: the mark of a sad face. Meanwhile, a serial killer that Steps has been trying to track for over ten years, code name “Leonardo,” is back in play―and on Steps’s trail. Just as the investigation seems to be closing in on Leonardo, the hunt for Sad Face heats up. Now, it’s up to Steps to outrun and outwit one of the most twisted serial killers he’s ever encountered. . .as time ticks away on the lives of the victims. Will this be another one of Steps’s miraculously-solved cases―or his last?

My Thoughts: "Steps" Craig is part of a three-man Special Tracking Unit of the FBI. Everyone thinks that he is just a superb tracker. Only a few people know that Steps tracks using a psychic ability that lets him see the shine left by people. Steps is pretty sure that this isn't really a gift because he can't not see the shine that surrounds everyone. Only a special pair of lead crystal glasses hides the shine. And, while he and his team have stopped seventeen serial killers over the past five years, Steps still feels his failure to save the victims. His sleep is plagued with nightmares.

When the team is called in and the remains of a young woman are found, Steps recognizes the shine of the killer as someone he has seen before at another death. As the team investigates they find the shine of a person that they name the Sad Face Killer for the sad faces he leaves at crime scenes and begin linking a number of other deaths to the same killer. When they find a list the killer left, they know that they have just a short time to track him down before he kills again.

This was a great story told by Steps who has a unique gift and a unique way of looking at the world. I was immediately pulled into the story and couldn't put it down. I was moved by the high personal cost that the team has to pay in order to do the jobs they do.

This was a fast-paced story and an intense one. I highly recommend it.

Favorite Quote:
I'm probably a bravo male.

Bravo males are important because they help out the alpha males and say, Bravo! Bravo! whenever they do something right, even if it's infrequently. This positive reinforcement is vital because alpha males have large egos that constantly need refilling.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (April 9, 2018)

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. YA and middle grade reviews will still be posted on  Ms. Martin Teaches Media - my other blog.

Other Than Reading... 

I'm writing this on a sunny, cold Saturday morning. We had snow three days last week but the stronger sun melted all of it away in between the snow showers. We still have quite a bit of snow on the ground. The roads are clear but the ground is still about 90% snow covered. I really want Spring but forecasts are for a colder than normal April.

The next snow is forecast for Monday which also happens to be the day I am attending my first Chair Yoga class at one of Duluth's new Middle Schools. I know where it is but have never been there and am not really eager to drive in snow to get there. Hopefully, the snow will be as light as the last few snowfalls.

I have been keeping busy watching baseballs. The Atlanta Braves are my first choice but I'll have any game on in the background while I'm reading. I have also still been watching The Voice which I usually watch on my computer the day after it airs because it seems to always overlap my Braves games. 

I also enjoyed watching Jesus Christ Superstar last Sunday evening and am listening this morning to the remastered CD edition of the 1970 recording. I had this musical on LPs but got rid of all my LPs when I moved. Most went to a friend's son who was just getting into collecting vinyl. The others were scooped up by people attending my moving/rummage sale.

Read Last Week
  • Flowers and Foul Play by Amanda Flower - cozy mystery set in Scotland with a woman fleeing a broken heart who inherits a magical garden. My review will be posted May 5.
  • Lake Silence by Anne Bishop - a reread of a favorite book.
  • The Plastic Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg - an alternate history fantasy about a young woman learning the new magic of manipulating plastic. It is also a mystery and a romance. My review will be posted on May 9.
  • Onyx & Ivory by Mindee Arnett - a long, young adult epic fantasy that doesn't distinguish itself from the myriads of other YA epic fantasies. My review will be posted on May 4.
  • Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire - I chose this one from my TBR mountain because I enjoy epic fantasy and this series has been nominated for a Hugo Award. My review will be posted on May 10.
  • Airports, Exes, and Other Things I'm Over by Shani Petroff - a YA romance I got for review from Macmillan. It was engaging and entertaining. My review will be posted May 9.
Currently
The Game Can't Love You Back by Karole Cozzo is another of my recent review books from Macmillan. I am enjoying this sports romance and have just a few chapters left.

The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst is next. This is the third book in the Queens of Renthia series.


Next Week
For my adult reads this week, I an digging into my TBR pile. I have the first books in series where I had review copies from later in the series and wanted to catch up and one mystery that has been sitting on TBR mountain for over a year.
Two of my YA picks this week are from my review stack. The other one has been on TBR mountain since 2010.
Reviews Posted

On Inside of a Dog:
Bad Neighbors by Maia Chance
The Shadow of Death by Jane Willan
Lord of the Pies by Nell Hampton

On Ms. Martin Teaches Media:
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
The Stone Girl's Story by Sarah Beth Durst
The Summer of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix

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

Bought
All Systems Red by Martha Wells (free book from Tor.com)
Pocket Apocalypse by Seanan McGuire
Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire
 Midnight Blue-Light Special by Seanan McGuire
Flight by Alyssa Rose Ivy
Uncorking a Lie by Nadine Nettmann
Decanting a Murder by Nadine Nettmann

Review Books
The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager (July 3)
The Disappearing by Lori Roy (July 17)

What was your week like?