Tuesday, July 7, 2020

ARC Review: The Vanished Seas by Catherine Asaro

The Vanishing Seas
Author: Catherine Asaro
Series: Major Bhaajan (Book 3)
Publication: Baen (July 7, 2020)

Description: MAJOR BHAAJAN RETURNS.  Book three in the Skolian Empire Major Bhaajan series by Catherine Asaro.

SURVIVE THE CITY OF CRIES

Bhaajan grew up in the Undercity, a community hidden in the ruins buried beneath the glittering City of Cries. Caught between the astonishing beauty and crushing poverty of that life, and full by wanderlust, she enlisted in the military. Now retired, Major Bhaajan is a private investigator who solves cases for the House of Majda, a royal family centered in Cries. The powerful elite of the City of Cries are disappearing, and only Bhaajan, who grew up in the Undercity, can find them—if she isn’t murdered first.

My Thoughts: Major Bhaajan's next case has her investigating the disappearance of a woman from a gala where she was set to announce the winning of a major and lucrative contract. Bhaaj was at the gala because her employers - the Majdas - asked her to attend to look for anything suspicious. She is immediately sympathetic toward the woman's bewildered husband and is especially so because another investigator is so certain that he is guilty.

Things heat up when someone tries to kill Bhaaj as she investigates. Bhaaj isn't at all certain that it isn't her employers. But, no matter who wants her dead, Bhaaj isn't going to rest until she figures out what happened to Mara Quida. Things get even more complicated when another woman vanishes in the same way that Mara did. Only this one was an old friend of her employer Colonel Lavinda Majda who is third in line for the Majda throne.

I love the world building in this story which takes place on Raylicon - a dying world with a lack of fresh water and only two cities. The City of Cries is where all the wealthy, powerful, and beautiful live. The Undercity is where Bhaaj is from. The people there have their own culture and language and have little to do with the people from Cries who look down on them. However, it was recently discovered that the people in the Undercity have a much larger percentage of psychic gifts than the general population and those gifts are need to keep the galactic civilization working.

Bhaaj left the Undercity to join the army and then retired back home when her enlistment period was up. She came back with a galactic education, many physical enhancements, and a desire to help the citizens of Undercity survive and flourish in the greater galactic culture.

Her investigation takes her from Cries to the Undercity and out into the desert to the three ships that brought the original settlers from Earth to Raylicon thousands of years in the past and are now a scientific treasure guarded by the army.

An Appendix at the end of the book lets the reader see some of the ways this story and its science grew. Asaro has a Ph.D. in Chemical Physics which means that reading it seemed like magic to this math-challenged reader. The real math and science was no less magical than the science and math in the story. Luckily, readers can enjoy the wonderful, detailed and engaging characters whether or not math is a language they speak.

Favorite Quote:
"I don't believe Mara Quida ran out on him, that he killed her, that someone kidnapped her, or that a guest at the gala ambushed her. So what the bloody hell happened?"

"A good question."

"Somebody somewhere did something," I muttered.

"That was certainly specific." Max sounded amused.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, July 6, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (July 6, 2020)

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.

Other Than Reading...

This has been a week of record-breaking heat here in Duluth, Minnesota. After not reaching 90 for three years, we have had three days with temperatures in the 90s and have set two temperature records. I have been spending most of my time in my air-conditioned home. Most 4th of July public activities have been cancelled already because of the Corona Virus and I wouldn't have attended any had they been held since I'm not a big fan of crowds in the best of times.

This has been another week of listening to a lot of audiobooks as I finished the Alpha and Omega series and started a very long science fiction series. I don't know how many of them I will get in that series though. The first couple were $1.99 for the audiobooks because I already owned the Kindle copies but the price has jumped to almost $18 for additional titles. I might be able to get a better price if I buy the Kindle and add on the audiobook. I have all of these books already but mostly in paperback or hardcover since I purchased them as they were published and will probably go that route.

You might notice that I have really stretched out the dates when reviews will be posted. I keep track of my posts on a Google calendar. The first thing I do is slot in dates for the review books on my stack. Then I fill in around those review books with my own books. All of the audiobooks I've been reading lately have ballooned my scheduled posts to 27 and will give me at least some posts finished already that won't show up until October. It's kind of confusing doing things this way because I also have 5 books still to read for July and I'm really used to reading books in the order they'll appear on my calendar. But once I get hooked on a series, I want to finish the series before moving on to something else.

I also spent some time this week setting up posts for the rest of July and August since I wanted to do that before being forced to switch to the New Blogger. I took a look at it but couldn't figure out how to create a new post. After exploring the Help section, I learned I wasn't alone in my problem but the answer was easy once someone shared the trick. I still feel better knowing I have a bunch of posts ready for my review though.

June Reading

I read 33 books in June. Twenty-one if them were audiobooks. All of the audiobooks were rereads though I read most of them a number of years ago. Twenty-six of the books I read were my books and 7 were review books.

I added 37 books to my collection in June. Nineteen of my new additions were audiobook and 5 were review books. Fourteen of the new arrivals are still TBR.

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.)

  • Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs (Mine; Audiobook) - The fifth in the Alpha and Omega series has Bran away and Charles in charge. It concerns the wildlings - werewolves who are very old and not in control of their wolves - and a traitor in the pack. Entertaining and engaging. My review will be posted on Sept. 16.
  • Tiger Eye by Marjorie M. Liu (Mine) - This one has been on my stack since July 2009 and is the first in the Dirk & Steele urban fantasy/paranormal romance series. It was enjoyable and entertaining. My review will be posted on July 11.
  • A Call to Duty by David Weber and Timothy Zahn (Mine; Audiobook) - This is classic military science fiction and takes place early in the Honorverse. It tells about the early days of the planet Manticore and the development of the Maniticoran Navy and follows the story of a young man named Travis Long. My review will be posted on July 16. 


  • A Call to Arms by David Weber, Timothy Zahn & Thomas Pope (Mine; Audiobook) - This is the middle book in the Manticore Ascendant series and follows the further adventures of Travis Long. It is filled with military details, political infighting on Manticore, and a galactic plot to take over the planet. My review will be posted on September 17.
  • A Call to Vengeance by David Weber, Timothy Zahn & Thomas Pope (Mine; Audiobook) - The final book in the Manticore Ascendant series has more military action, political infighting, and galactic plotting. The series ends but with lots of questions left to be answered. My review will be posted on Oct. 7.
  • On Basilisk Station by David Weber (Mine; Audiobook) - This is the first book in the Honor Harrington series. It is set on Manticore about 500 years after the events of the Manticore Ascendant series and is the first of what is currently a 14 book series and another spin-off series of 4 books. My review will be posted on Sept. 22.

Currently


Next Week
Reviews Posted


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



  • A Call to Arms by David Weber, Timothy Zahn & Thomas Pope (Audiobook) - Manticore Ascendant #2
  • A Call to Vengeance by David Weber, Timothy Zahn & Thomas Pope (Audiobook) - Manticore Ascendant #3
  • On Basilisk Station by David Weber (Audiobook) - Honor Harrington #1



What was your week like?

Saturday, July 4, 2020

ARC Review: Hometown Hero by Liza Kendall

Hometown Hero
Author: Liza Kendall
Series: A Silverlake Ranch Novel (Book 3)
Publication: Berkley (July 7, 2020)

Description: A charming new contemporary romance set in Silverlake, Texas, where love throws old rivals a curveball. . . . 

Andrew “Ace” Braddock is a player in every sense of the word. The center fielder for the Austin Lone Stars, he’s also been at the center of numerous sports scandals involving beer, bars, and baseball bunnies. But when he takes the fall for a teammate, Ace wakes up in the hospital, injured and in serious trouble. He’s sent to lie low and recover at his family ranch in Silverlake, Texas, where he’s saddled with his worst nightmare: his high school nemesis—a beautiful nurse who refuses to play doctor with him.

Mia Adams has no time to fool around. The daughter of Silverlake’s high school baseball coach has three jobs and a pile of debt left behind by her missing ex. The very last thing she wants is to spend her time indulging hometown hero Easy Ace Braddock. If she didn’t need the money, she’d have nothing to do with the guy from her past who stole her dad’s time, attention, and love away from her before leaving for the major leagues.

As Mia does her best to corral the irrepressible Ace, keep a sense of humor, and fight her unwelcome attraction to him, he charms, sidesteps, and outmaneuvers her. Will the onetime enemies find love at home base, right in the town where they grew up?

My Thoughts: This romance is between two very complex people. Mia Adams is very busy. Her husband left her holding all sorts of debts when he abandoned her and left the country. She is trying to keep her problems secret from those people in town who would be very likely to help her. Meanwhile, she's working three jobs. When she gets a new job as the "sober companion" for a MLB star who was apparently driving drunk, she can't turn it down even though Easy Ace Braddock is not a favorite of hers.

Ace Braddock stole her father's attention from her when she was already abandoned by her mother who was always off traveling to take care of the less fortunate. Ace needed her father's attention as his baseball coach after his parents died in a head-on car crash. Ace comes across as an arrogant ass who feels entitled to all the adulation a popular and attractive athlete gathers. But inside, he is still trying to get over the guilt he feels for the death of his parents. He believes that they wouldn't have been out on the road if he hadn't manipulated them into taking him to a baseball game.

I liked the banter between the two characters as they gradually come to fall in love. Of course, there are lots of problems along the way as Ace does things that seem to be designed to take away Mia's agency and control. I didn't like how little Ace thought about how his actions would affect Mia and how readily Mia forgave him.

The story also concerned itself with family relationships as Ace has to deal with his three brothers and his sister who he more or less abandoned for his baseball career. And Mia's relationship with her father is also an important component of the story.

Fans of romances with depth will enjoy this story.

Favorite Quote:
It was bad enough tht he'd stolen her father from her, but at least, it had better mean something. To toss away his incredible opportunities - the ones her father had gifted to him - that was the cherry on top of the cow-patty sundae.

She was also extremely angry at herself for finding him hot.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Friday Memes: Hometown Hero by Liza Kendall

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 radio was still playing. That was the surreal thing. Andrew "Ace" Braddock, second baseman for the Austin Lone Stars, was suspended upside down, hanging by his seat belt...and AC/DC was still blasting.
Friday 56:
Mia squirmed and changed the subject, not subtly. "So how are you feeling?"

Jules gave a snort, making it clear she wasn't fooled for a second. Still, she followed Mia's lead. "Fat, tired, and spacey. With cravings for onion rings and strawberry ice cream at the same time, which is disgusting."
This week I am spotlighting Hometown Hero by Liza Kendall. It is a contemporary romance and one of the main characters is a professional baseball player. I really enjoy sports romances. Here is the description from Amazon:
A charming new contemporary romance set in Silverlake, Texas, where love throws old rivals a curveball. . . . 

Andrew “Ace” Braddock is a player in every sense of the word. The center fielder for the Austin Lone Stars, he’s also been at the center of numerous sports scandals involving beer, bars, and baseball bunnies. But when he takes the fall for a teammate, Ace wakes up in the hospital, injured and in serious trouble. He’s sent to lie low and recover at his family ranch in Silverlake, Texas, where he’s saddled with his worst nightmare: his high school nemesis—a beautiful nurse who refuses to play doctor with him.

Mia Adams has no time to fool around. The daughter of Silverlake’s high school baseball coach has three jobs and a pile of debt left behind by her missing ex. The very last thing she wants is to spend her time indulging hometown hero Easy Ace Braddock. If she didn’t need the money, she’d have nothing to do with the guy from her past who stole her dad’s time, attention, and love away from her before leaving for the major leagues.

As Mia does her best to corral the irrepressible Ace, keep a sense of humor, and fight her unwelcome attraction to him, he charms, sidesteps, and outmaneuvers her. Will the onetime enemies find love at home base, right in the town where they grew up?

Thursday, July 2, 2020

ARC Review: Out of Time by David Klass

Out of Time
Author: David Klass
Publication: Dutton (July 7, 2020)

Description: In this explosive thriller, a fiendishly clever serial bomber and self-styled "eco-terrorist" hits targets across America--and a conflicted young FBI agent may be the only person possessing the unique skills needed to catch him.

A massive FBI manhunt is underway for an elusive and terrifyingly adept serial bomber. He's just struck his sixth target, Idaho's Boon Dam, killing a dozen innocent people. But the bomber, who the press has dubbed "Green Man," insists these drastic acts of violence--each one carefully selected to destroy a target that threatens the environment--are necessary to draw the world's attention to the climate-change emergency.

The FBI has no real leads. It's as if Green Man can predict every step of their investigation, skillfully evading all their standard tactics.

Until young agent Tom Smith approaches the task-force leader with an unexpected insight. Tom, a computer programmer by training, may be the only person with the unique skill set needed to catch Green Man before he strikes again....

My Thoughts: This techno-thriller is told from two points of view. The Green Man, an environmental terrorist who has caused billions of dollars worth of damage and many, many deaths, tells about why he is doing what he is doing despite his anxiety and conscience and fear for his family. Rookie FBI Agent Tom Smith, who graduated from Stanford and could be making tons more money working in Silicon Valley, has some other ideas about the course of the investigation and avenues that those involved haven't gone down.

Tom actually admires the Green Man because Tom is also concerned about the environment and fears for the planet's future. However, despite hating his FBI Agent father, Tom has gone into the family business though he isn't doing it his father's way.

The story is fast-paced and very tense as the FBI team tries to find out who the Green Man is and what his next target it. It is filled with the many minute details that make up a complex investigation. It is also filled with the politics that surround any large investigation. The President wants a quick solution that provides him with great photo ops and positive publicity for his reelection campaign and, if the FBI doesn't turn up something soon, he'll transfer the case to Homeland Security.

Meanwhile, Tom is tracking down obscure leads and actually coming closer to finding out what the FBI needs to know and the Green Man is starting to make mistakes in the run-up to his biggest act of terrorism.

I enjoyed the story and especially like Tom who is a brilliant investigator who sort of admires Green Man. But for Tom, the end doesn't justify the means and stopping Green Man is his major concern.

Favorite Quote:
He gave her his stock answer. "I went into the family business."

"And what exactly is your family business?"

"Catching bad guys," he told her with a sheepish grin.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

ARC Review: Once You Go This Far by Kristen Lepionka

Once You Go This Far
Author: Kristen Lepionka
Series: Roxane Weary (Book 4)
Publication: Minotaur Books (July 7, 2020)

Description: Once You Go This Far is the fourth thrilling mystery from Shamus Award-winning and Anthony and Macavity Award-nominated author Kristen Lepionka.

Junior-high school nurse Rebecca Newsome was an experienced hiker―until she plummeted to her death at the bottom of a ravine in a Columbus metro park. Her daughter, Maggie, doesn't believe it was an accident, and Rebecca's ex-husband is her prime suspect. But he's a well-connected ex-cop and Maggie is certain that's the reason no one will listen to her. PI Roxane Weary quickly uncovers that the dead woman's ex is definitely a jerk, but is he a murderer?

As she pieces together the days before Rebecca died, what Roxane finds doesn't quite add up. From a series of trips to Detroit and across the border to a casino in Windsor, Canada, to strange calls from Rebecca's home to a charismatic political candidate, to a women's health organization, to a secretive church group that seems to have more information about its members than it should, Roxane needs to figure out how everything is connected before a dangerous secret gets someone else killed.

My Thoughts: The fourth Roxane Weary mystery begins with Roxane meeting a woman at a Columbus Park. It was a brief meeting since Roxane was waiting for her brother and the woman and her dog seemed eager to hit the trail. That should have been that, but moments later she learns that the woman has fallen from the path and died. She ends up going to the hospital since she's got the dog and meeting the woman's daughter.

After getting things squared away with the dog, Roxane goes on with her life. She isn't expecting the woman's daughter to stop in a couple of weeks later to let her know the woman died and that Maggie, the daughter, wants Roxane to look into things since Maggie finds the death suspicious.

Roxane begins to look into things and is immediately dropped into a complex situation with ties to a secretive church, a couple of the victim's ex-husbands, and a charismatic female politician who views don't align with the church.

The more Roxane looks, the more questions she has and the more bodies pile up or the more people go missing. And her case gives her the perfect excuse for putting off any emotional encounters with the guy she is seeing. Emotional encounters are always to be avoided in Roxane's world since she had way too many with her father before his death. A half-sister she didn't know she had is just one more bomb from her father and is complicated by the fact that both her brothers knew about it but hadn't told her.

This was an entertaining mystery with an intriguing main character. I liked reading about Roxane but could easily understand how so many of the people in her life found her difficult.

Favorite Quote:
"Do you want to hold her?"

I put the borrowed pen down. "If you need a break, I am happy to hold your baby. My ovaries do not ache to do so, however."

Maggie laughed. "I think that's the most honest thing anyone has ever said to me."

"I try."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

ARC Review: Outsider by Linda Castillo

Outsider
Author: Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder Book 12
Publication: Minotaur Books (July 7, 2020)

Description: Linda Castillo follows her instant New York Times bestseller, Shamed, with Outsider, an electrifying thriller about a woman on the run hiding among the Amish.

While enjoying a sleigh ride with his children, Amish widower Adam Lengacher discovers a car stuck in a snowdrift and an unconscious woman inside. He calls upon Chief of Police Kate Burkholder for help, and she is surprised to recognize the driver: fellow cop and her former friend, Gina Colorosa.

Years before, Kate and Gina were best friends at the police academy and patrol officers in Columbus, but time and distance have taken them down two very different paths. Now, Gina reveals a shocking story of betrayal and revenge that has forced her to run for her life. She’s desperate for protection, and the only person she can trust is Kate—but can Kate trust her? Or will Gina’s dark past put them all in danger?

As a blizzard bears down on Painters Mill, Kate helps Gina go into hiding on Adam’s farm. While the tough-skinned Gina struggles to adjust to the Amish lifestyle, Kate and state agent John Tomasetti delve into the incident that caused Gina to flee. But as Kate gets closer to the truth, a killer lies in wait. When violence strikes, she must confront a devastating truth that changes everything she thought she knew not only about friendship, but the institution to which she's devoted her life.

My Thoughts: This is the twelfth Kate Burkholder mystery and this time an old friend with a big problem comes to visit.

Gina Colorosa is on the run from a bunch of her police colleagues who are into all sorts of illegal activities. Gina isn't so clean herself. When she has to run, with a bullet in her shoulder, she finds her way to Amish country where Kate is the Sheriff.

A car accident puts her in the way of Adam Lengacher who was a childhood friend of Kate's. Now he is a widower with three young children. With a blizzard on the way and no way to get Gina somewhere where she won't endanger the Lengachers, Kate is forced to hear her story and decide what she can do to help her.

The problem is that, while they were good friends from the time they met and all through their time at the police academy, their paths took radically different turns once they were on the job. Gina was always an adrenaline junkie and had a more flexible set of morals than Kate had. That caused a break in their friendship that was never healed.

Kate calls in her boyfriend John Tomasetti who works with the BCI to try to find out the true story since neither she nor John think that Gina is telling everything she knows. Meanwhile, two of Gina's fellow officers want to find her and kill her before she can get her version of the facts out in public.

This was a fast-paced and action-packed thriller. Fans of the genre and fans of the Kate Burkholder series won't want to miss this one.

Favorite Quote:
He starts to open the door, but I stop him. "Joe, you know you can't talk to anyone about this, right?"

"I talk to my cats, mostly. I've got five of them, you know. Feral, or so they think. Unlike most of my human friends, they never repeat a word."

I grin, liking him. "Thank you."

"I hope your friend finds peace."

"Me, too."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.