Wednesday, April 17, 2024

ARC Review: Next of Kin by Samantha Jayne Allen

Next of Kin

Samantha Jayne Allen
Series: Annie McIntyre Mysteries (Book 3)
Publication: Minotaur Books (April 23, 2024)

Description: From Tony Hillerman Prize-winning author Samantha Jayne Allen comes Next of Kin, a mesmerizing novel set in a hardscrabble Texas town, where the past is never far away.

At a gathering for her cousin’s wedding party, newly-licensed PI Annie McIntyre gets asked an age-old question: what really makes us who we are, nature or nurture? Clint Marshall, an up-and-coming musician and an adoptee at a personal crossroads, wants to hire Annie to find his biological parents, and that question is on his mind. Annie accepts his case, not knowing then that she, too, must decide if she really believes what she tells him that night―in essence, that people are in charge of their destinies. That people can change.

When Annie discovers her client's father is a bank robber who her granddad, Leroy, arrested back when he was sheriff, reverberations sound between the past and the present, igniting old flames and rivalries. When the brother of her client dies suddenly, his death ruled a suicide, Annie questions whether or not it was in fact homicide―and who in this family of outlaws would rather some secrets stay buried.

As Annie sets out to find who killed the brother―and stays out of sight lest she be next―she finds herself searching abandoned, overgrown fields, scouring pool halls and roadside motels, wondering if she will ever escape the sense that her world in Garnett, TX expands and contracts in off-kilter ways, growing smaller and yet still more confounding. Fearing that in a place where everyone knows everyone, your enemy is always closer than you think.

My Thoughts: The third Annie McIntyre mystery has Annie having her new private investigators license and working with her grandfather Leroy's old partner in their investigations firm. Annie is also involved in her cousin Nikki's wedding. Her next case comes to her when the best man, Sonny's adopted brother, hires Annie to track down his birth parents.

Locating Clint Marshall's mother and siblings doesn't turn out to be hard but opens a real can of worms for both Annie and Clint. It turns out Clint's birth father was a bank robber who is in prison. Annie's grandfather Leroy was instrumental in capturing him and his adoptive mother was one of the bank tellers when the bank was robbed. 

Going to talk to Clint's birth mother is difficult as she blames Leroy for lots of the problems in her life. But her son Cody is more receptive to having a brother. Annie also runs afoul of the next-door neighbor whose daughter disappeared at the same time as the bank robbery. She feels that the police didn't do enough to find her missing daughter whose bones were discovered some ten years after her disappearance.

Then Cody dies in an apparent suicide which Annie really doubts and Clint disappears just before the wedding. Annie is kept busy trying to discover who killed Cody and where Clint is and finds herself digging into secrets from her family's past. 

This was quite a twisty mystery with so many connections between all the characters which raised more questions for Annie than providing answers to her inquiries. I liked the setting which was described very well. I thought the characters were well-developed too. 

Favorite Quote:
"You want to be the hero. Then folks deal with you, and you're just this regular old dope. They realize you're less there to save the day than you are to just make sure the day don't get worse. Law and order's not the same as justice--I wish I'd have been able to do more just work.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

ARC Review: Murder in Rose Hill by Victoria Thompson

Murder in Rose Hill

Victoria Thompson
Series: Gaslight Mysteries (Book 27)
Publication: Berkley (April 23, 2024)

Description: Midwife Sarah Malloy and her private detective husband Frank discover that the cure is worse than the disease when they investigate the death of a promising young woman in this atmospheric, riveting mystery from the USA TODAY bestselling author of Murder on Bedford Street.

Sarah Malloy has just helped with the delivery of a bouncing baby girl at her women’s clinic, when she receives a visit from an engaging and determined young woman writing an article for New Century Magazine. Louisa Rodgers explains that she is researching the dangers of patent remedies. Sarah is only too happy to tell Louisa exactly what she thinks of the so-called medicines whose ingredients include heavy doses of alcohol and other addictive drugs, and hurt much more than they help.

A few days later, Sarah receives a visit from a bereft Bernard Rodgers, who explains that his daughter, Louisa, has been found strangled in the lobby of the building where New Century has its offices. The police have decided it was a random attack and have made no attempt to investigate, hinting that Louisa got what she deserved for sticking her nose where it didn’t belong. Sarah wants justice for the bright young woman but as she and Frank delve deeper into Louisa’s life, they find that nothing is quite as it seemed and Louisa is not who she claimed to be. The Malloys must first solve the mystery of Louisa’s life before they can figure out who wanted to see her dead…

My Thoughts: The story begins when Louisa Rodgers comes to the women's clinic where Sarah volunteers to find out what they know about patent medicines. Louisa is a socialite who wants to be a journalist and is hoping to write an article exposing the dangers of patent medicines.

When Bernard Rodgers comes to see Frank a few days later, he wants Malloy to discover who murdered his daughter Louisa. There are plenty of suspects including a delusional stalker who claims he and Louisa were engaged, a fellow boarder at Louisa's boarding house who claims to be Louisa's best friend, and the owner of a company that makes patent medicines. 

As Frank and Sarah investigate, they learn that all was not well in the Rodgers' home. While her father doted on Louisa and disparaged his son Oscar, her mother was just the opposite. 

Then Mr. Rodgers is found dead of an apparent suicide which greatly complicates the case.

I liked the setting and the historical detail as the story takes place the same time McKinlay was shot and later died making Theodore Roosevelt, an acquaintance of the Malloys, president. I liked the information about patent medicines. I liked Sarah's electric car. 

This was an entertaining historical mystery which is the 27th book in the series. 

Favorite Quote:
"At least we're trying to learn," Malloy reminded her. "Not all the parents do."

"I know," Sarah said sadly. "I can't understand how a parent of a deaf child could refuse to learn to sign. How would you communicate with your child? How would the child let the parents know what she needs?"
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

ARC Review: At the Edge of the Woods by Victoria Houston

At the Edge of the Woods

Victoria Houston
Series: Lew Ferris (Book 3)
Publication: Crooked Lane Books (April 23, 2024)

Description: Someone is murdering pickleball players in Loon Lake and Sheriff Ferris is on the hunt for their killer in Victoria Houston’s third nail-biting Lew Ferris mystery, perfect for fans of Marc Cameron and Nevada Barr.

When a local pickleball player is shot in the head while practicing at an abandoned tennis court with his partner-slash-lover, Sheriff Lew Ferris suspects that the bullet was a stray shot from hunters in the area. It’s not until a second player–the first victim’s mistress and pickleball partner–is killed that Sheriff Ferris realizes this is no hunting accident. Someone is hunting people, and it’s up to her to find out who.

With the first victim’s crazed widow breathing down Lew’s neck, there’s no room to breathe, let alone to find time to appreciate the beautiful Loon Lake fall and go fishing. Adding to Sheriff Ferris’ difficulties are three pickleball players convinced someone has targeted them, someone who will do anything, even murder, to frighten them away from the courts where they play – but why?

Who is really at risk? The pickleball players, or Lew and the people close to her?

My Thoughts: This is the third book in the Lew Ferris mystery series. I chose it, despite not having read the first two books, because I was interested in the Northern Wisconsin setting. Lew is the sheriff. She was elected after some years as police chief of Loon Lake. And while being a sheriff is her job, her real love is fly fishing. She is an expert and an excellent teacher.

When a local dentist is shot while playing pickleball at a court he built at on old summer camp, Lew has a mystery to solve. She is of the opinion that the gunshot the killed him was an accident since deer season is coming up and lots of hunters are sighting in their guns and some aren't too concerned with safety. But there are a fair number of people who could have wanted the dentist dead including his wife and daughter. 

Lew begins her investigation with lots of help from the local rumor mill. When the dentist's pickleball partner and the woman he planned to marry after divorcing his wife is also killed, Lew doesn't suspect a second accident. 

I liked all the talk about fishing that was woven into the story. I thought the characters were interesting. I didn't really like the abrupt resolution to the mystery and felt that it was overshadowed by other parts of the plot. 

Fans of the series will enjoy this one as well as fans of Northern Wisconsin. 

Favorite Quote:
"Can I tell you what I like about Lewellyn Ferris besides her fishing?

"Careful," said Bruce with a smile in his voice. "I might be too young to hear this..."

"She listens," said Osborne, emphasizing his last word. "She has a good heart. She's kind and she listens. You can't ask for more."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, April 15, 2024

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (April 15, 2024)

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.

Want to See What I Added to My Stack? links to Stacking the Shelves hosted by Marlene at Reading Reality.

Other Than Reading...

This was a quiet week filled with melting snow, Braves baseball, a new recipe, and dinner out at Texas Roadhouse. 

I have almost finished my In Death Rereadathon and will begin looking for my next audiobooks. Right now, it looks like a reread of a science fiction series that I read as review copies a few years ago but I may make different choices. 

This coming week will see the housecleaners on Thursday and a dentist's appointment on Friday. There is to be a rainy, windy start to the week and 60% change of snow on Thursday. It doesn't look like we'll be making much solar power from Tuesday through Friday.

I did spend some time this week on my reading calendar and setting up posts on Blogger for part of May. Books are filled in but there are spots for audiobooks that I'll choose based on mood or something. 

Read Last Week
  • Archangel's Lineage by Nalini Singh (Review; April 23) -- In this episode of the Guild Hunter series, a fragile peace is broken when the Refuge is in danger and Elena deals with her estranged father's heart attack. My review will be posted on April 23.
  • An Unfinished Murder by Jude Deveraux (Review; April 30) -- A Medlar Three mystery concerns an old murder in a house Kate remembers from her childhood. My review will be posted on April 24.
  • Every Time I Go on Vacation, Someone Dies by Catherine Mack (Review; April 30) -- Interesting cozy mystery complete with footnotes and told by an unreliable narrator. My review will be posted on April 23.
  • Abandoned in Death by J. D. Robb (Audiobook Reread) -- In Death Book 54
  • Governor by David Weber and Richard Fox (Audiobook; Mine since January 16) -- Epic space opera set in the same world as the Honor Harrington books. My review will be posted on April 25.
  • Desperation in Death by J. D. Robb (Audiobook reread) -- In Death Book 55
Next Week
Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?


What was your week like?

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Book Reviews: Kris Longknife Boot Recruit & Kris Longknife's Maid Goes on Strike by Mike Shepherd

Kris Longknife Boot Recruit

Author: Mike Shepherd
Publication: Self-Published (June 11, 2021)

Description: Everyone has known since Kris Longknife – Mutineer that Kris ran off to join the Navy after graduating college much to her parents’ dismay. However, the story has never been told of how that came to pass. Worse, how does a scion of the Longknife clan survive that massive drop in social levels, plummeting from the Prime Minister’s brat to a lowly Boot Recruit. Here, at last, is the story in all it’s fuss and feathers still on this rare bird. Enjoy.

Kris Longknife's Maid Goes on Strike

Mike Shepherd
Publication: KL & MM Books (October 13, 2017)

Description: This collection of 4 short stories under one cover: Maid Goes on Strike, Ruthie Longknife's First Christmas, Among the Kicking Birds and Bad Day.

My Thoughts: These are fill-in pieces to the long-running Kris Longknife series. 

Boot Recruit is a novella and talks about Kris's reasons for joining the Navy after college and things that happened when she attended OCS. Fun story with all sorts of adjustments for both Kris and the Navy. 

Kris Longknife's Maid Goes on Strike contains four short stories. The first is about a problem on Alwa and the way Abby decides to solve it. Ruthie Longstreet's First Christmas is about a visit to Grandfather Al which turns into the second assassination attempt the baby manages to survive. Among the Kicking Birds takes place on Alwa and has Kris negotiating with the ostriches for land for the humans. Bad Day has Kris at Navy Headquarters on Wardhaven during her time as a staff officer and the reason why she asked for another job. 

The stories were all entertaining and filled in some other adventures in the universe. None were really essential, and none would really stand alone without having read the rest of the series. 

Favorite Quote:
"Why didn't your famous computer tell you that was a defective pod?" gunny asked.

"The interface on the pod's computer was so obsolete I could not attach," Nelly answered for herself.

"That was when I realized I had a problem," Kris put in. "I just didn't know how bad it was."
I bought these. You can buy your copies here and here.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Friday Memes: Kris Longknife Boot Recruit & Kris Longknife's Maid Goes on Strike by Mike Shepherd

 Happy Friday!

Book Beginnings is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader. She asks that the first sentence is posted along with the author and title of the book and the reader's initial thoughts on the sentence, the book, or anything else it inspires. 
Carrie at Reading Is My also provides a linky for sharing first lines and connecting with others. This meme asks that the chosen books be PG or marked as Mature if they are not. 

The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda at Freda's Voice. This meme is currently on hiatus but many of us are still including a sentence from page 56 or from 56% of the ebook. Anne @ Head Full of Books is picking up the slack until Freda is ready to return. I think this link will get you to the correct place

With an unwanted nudge from behind, Kris Longknife took the last step up. There were only five people ahead of her before it would be her turn to cross the stage to where the President of the University of Wardhaven handed out diplomas. 
Friday 56:
Kris could help but giggle. The sight of a gun truck with a huge Christmas tree tied to its top had to be one of the strangest sights of the holidays.
This week I am spotlighting two different books in the Kris Longknife series by Mike Shepherd. Kris Longknife Boot Recruit is a novella that tells how Kris comes to join the Navy and Kris Longknife's Maid Goes on Strike contains four vignettes from the series. Here are the descriptions from Amazon:
Kris Longknife's Maid Goes on Strike - This collection of 4 short stories under one cover: Maid Goes on Strike, Ruthie Longknife's First Christmas, Among the Kicking Birds and Bad Day.
Kris Longknife Boot Recruit - Everyone has known since Kris Longknife: Mutineer that Kris ran off to join the Navy after graduating college much to her parents’ dismay. However, the story has never been told of how that came to pass. Worse, how does a scion of the Longknife clan survive that massive drop in social levels, plummeting from the prime minister’s brat to a lowly boot recruit. Here, at last, is the story in all its fuss and feathers still on this rare bird. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Book Review: Longknifes Defend the Legation by Mike Shepherd

Longknifes Defend the Legation

Mike Shepherd
Publication: KL & MM Books (April 15, 2020)

Description: Grand Admiral Kris Longknife is rampaging across the stars, kicking butt and taking planets away from the Iteeche rebels. She asks her grandparents, Gramma and Grampa Trouble, to came out to spend time with Kris's kids while she is gone.

Meanwhile, back on the Iteeche Imperial Capitol planet, intrigue and power plays continue. Within fifty kilometers of the Imperial Palace are a dozen clan factions who dream of seizing the purple from the hand of the young Emperor.

The Human Embassy once more comes under siege. This time, however, the entire Legation District, all thirty-six blocks and three million Iteeche must be protected.

Meanwhile, the kids are left on their own. Sneaky parents should not be surprised to discover that their kids are just as sly as they are.

Before too long, Little Ruth and Johnny, along with thirty of their Human and Iteeche friends, are in way over their heads.

Can Little Ruth keep her friends alive long enough for Gramma Trouble to race to their rescue.

Can Ruth, not yet eight, learn the hard lesson of being a Longknife?

This action-packed adventure of just under 100,000 words is a great parallel story for Kris Longknife Stalwart that shows just what measures need to be taken to keep the home fires burning, because - Longknifes do what they have to do . . . no matter the cost.

My Thoughts: Meanwhile back at the capital planet while Kris Longknife is off in space trying to put the rebels down, her children Ruth and Johnny are learning and playing with their friends both human and Iteeche. While the grownups are dealing with attempts to disrupt life at the Legation District, the kids just want to go swimming in the Emperor's lake. 

They make plans using their computers Daisy and Hippo, who are some of Nelly's children, to find a way to sneak out of the Legation District and find their way to the lake. Unfortunately, they are kidnapped on their way. While the humans and their associated Iteeche are combing the planet for them, Ruth who isn't quite eight-year-old uses her intelligence and the remembered guidance of her mother to find a way to let her Gramma and Grampa know where the kids are. 

This was an excellent adventure. I enjoyed getting a look at the next generation of Longknifes who are as intrepid and smart and determined as their forefathers. This story is told from both the viewpoints of Gramma Ruth and young Ruth who is her great-granddaughter. 

Favorite Quote:
"Let's see how their boss guys like being caught in a cage with one of their snakes on the loose."

"Good idea," Gramma Trouble said. "I sure don't want to have to look under my bed for one of those critters."

"You wouldn't look," Grampa Trouble grumbled. "You'd have me do the looking."

"I don't want anyone in the Legation District to have to look," Abby said. 
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.