Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Audiobook Review: A Liaden Universe Constellation Volume 4 by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

A Liaden Universe Constellation, Volume 4

Author:
Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
Narrator: Kevin T. Collins
Series: Liaden Universe Constellation
Publication: Baen Books; 1st edition (July 16, 2015); Tantor Audio (July 26, 2022)
Length: 416 p.; 15 hours and 4 minutes

Description: BOOK 3 in the multivolume Liaden Universe ® short fiction collection. Tales of the Liaden Universe® brought together for the first time. Space opera and romance on a grand scale in a galaxy full of interstellar trading clans.

A dozen recent Liaden Universe short works are added to the collection in the third volume of A Liaden Universe Constellation. Ranging from comic to cosmic, only one of these works was first published before 2011. These welcome new additions bring the collected Constellation of Lee & Miller Liaden short stories to 45 works in three mega-volumes.

The nationally best-selling Liaden Universe® novels are treasured by space opera aficionados for their wit, world-building, strong characterizations, tender romance, and edge-of-the-chair action.

Since 1995, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller also created shorter tales, illuminating additional facets of the Liaden experience. Here is a vast tapestry of tales of the scouts, artists, traders, priestesses, sleight of hand magicians, and pilots who fill the Liaden Universe® with the excitement, action, and romance that readers of the hit series have come to adore. Contains all new entries published after 2011.

My Thoughts: This collection includes twelve stories of varying length. Together the stories tell more about favorite characters and/or illuminate different part of the massive Liaden Universe.

Code of Honor is Tommy Lee's story and tells about his life with the mercenaries and what happens when he is called home.

Guaranteed Delivery tells about Aelliana and Daav's fourth courier assignment.

Intelligent Design tells how Jeeves came to be Korval's butler.

Out of True tells about when Clay and Squithy meet the norbears and take them out into the greater galaxy,

Roving Gambler is a Quin story.

King of the Cats is a crossover, non-canon story about Kinzel calling Val Con to his world to help him rescue some cats.

Kin Ties tells what happens when Ren Zel dea'Juden and Anthora go back to Cassiaport on Korval's business and meet a woman bent on her grandfather's revenge.

Eleutherios tells the story of one Bedel on a strange and damage world.

The Rifle's First Wife is the story about how Diglon Rifle came to marry a Liaden Scout. 

The Space at Tinsori Light tells about Jen Sin yos'Phelium, pilot of Korval, who, injured, finds his way to Tinsori Light.

Landed Alien tells what happened to Kara ven'Arith after Theo was expelled from the Academy and before they met again on Codrescu Station.

Moon's Honor is a Lute and Moonhawk story. In this one, she becomes his apprentice when the Head of her Circle sends her out to get some experience of the world outside of Temple.

All of these stories were entertaining. They include stories that tell us more about characters who appear in the main line stories. They also include stories from other parts of the wide Liaden Universe. I especially enjoyed Out of True this time because I've now met the characters again in the Jethri novels.

It is good to have all the stories collected in one volume since they were originally published in a variety of places from chapbooks to the Baen website.

Favorite Quote:
Whoever had come, whoever had heard, and heeded his call. That one he would serve, as well as he was able, for as long as he could.
I bought this one. The Kindle copy in 2015 and the audiobook in 2022. You can buy your copiy here.

ARC Review: It's News to Me by R. G. Belsky

It's News to Me

Author:
R. G. Belsky
Series: Clare Carlson (Book 5)
Publication: Oceanview Publishing (October 4, 2022)

Description: Dashed dreams: she wanted to run for president one day, now she’s dead at 20

When Riley Hunt—a beautiful, smart, popular student at Easton College in Manhattan—is brutally murdered, it becomes a big story for TV newswoman Clare Carlson.

After days of intense media coverage, a suspect is caught: a troubled Afghanistan war veteran with a history of violent and unstable behavior. The suspect’s mother, however, comes to Clare with new evidence that might prove her son’s innocence.

As Clare digs deeper into the puzzling case, she learns new information: Riley had complained about being stalked in the days before her murder, she was romantically involved with two different men—the son of a top police official and the son of a prominent underworld boss—and she had posted her picture on an escort service’s website offering paid dates with wealthy men.

Soon, Clare becomes convinced that Riley Hunt’s death is more than just a simple murder case—and that more lives, including her own, are now in danger until she uncovers the true story.

My Thoughts: News Director for New York City's Channel 10 has to deal with a new boss and a complex mystery in her fifth adventure.

The television station's owner has hired a new executive producer for the news division. Susan Endicott has come in to boost the station's ratings - not to make friends. She and Clare are in conflict immediately. Clare is more interested in the news than the ratings. 

When an attractive blonde co-ed named Riley Hunt is murdered just feet away from her dorm at Easton College, all the elements are there for a big news story. As Clare begins to investigate, she finds lots of questions. Who is Riley Hunt? Is she the bright, bubbly, friendly person everyone says she is? What about her fiancĂ© who's the son of the deputy police commissioner who takes over the case? What about her possible relationship with the son of a local crime boss? Why is she pictured on a website the bills itself as a dating app but is charging fees for the girls to go on "dates"? And, what about her strange relationship with her mother? Then there's the odd reactions of her roommate, a Wanna-Be actress. 

Clare is deep into her investigation when a homeless Afghanistan war vet is arrested for the crime. He had her cellphone and her blood on it and some of his clothes. But he is so mentally and emotionally damaged that he doesn't remember committing the crime. Clare is skeptical that he is the killer, and when he supposedly commits suicide in jail, she's even more skeptical.

Clare keeps investigating while juggling her new boss's attempts to shake things up in the newsroom. And three-times divorced Clare meets a new man - a professor at Princeton - who is also taking up some of time.

I really enjoyed this episode in the series. Clare is a great character who is excellent at her job but who has a train-wreck of a personal life. I like that she's witty, even though her boss doesn't appreciate her sense of humor any more than Clare's suspects do. 

Fans of mysteries with strong, but flawed, female characters will enjoy this story. 

Favorite Quote:
"But it's time for you to move on from this story now."

"I realize that."

"Just put it behind you."

"Yep."

"So is that what you're going to do?"

"Have we met?"

"Right." She sighed.

"So what are you going to do now?"
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, September 26, 2022

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (September 26, 2022)

 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.

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 pretty quiet week. For the first week of Fall, the cool temperatures were very fall-like. So were the cloudy, foggy and rainy days. Luckily, I had lots of indoor things to do.

I really stacked up both my review stack and TBR pile this week. There were so many Kindle and BookBub deals that I just couldn't pass up. I also needed the next two books in the Kris Longknife series if I wanted to keep reading it which I do. I also had a chance to get cheap Kindle copies of books I already own in print and might want to reread someday. 

I've been keeping up with my Atlanta Braves baseball team too. They really didn't need the three-game losing streak they had this past week. As I'm writing this on Sunday morning, they are one and one-half game back of the Mets for Division championship. While they have already qualified for the playoffs, I really would like them to win the Division again. Their next game starts at noon today. 

I did some baking and cooking this week. I made a chicken and spinach lasagna which turned out pretty well and has left us lots and lots of leftovers. I also made raisin bran muffins which I haven't made for many years. They turned out to be as good as I remembered and are really handy because the batter can sit in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks until I want more muffins.

This coming week should be mostly quiet. I do have an appointment on Monday for a biopsy which will be done under local anesthesia. There's nothing else on my schedule. 

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.)
  • Under a Veiled Moon by Karen Odden (Review; October 11) -- Wonderfully realistic historical mystery with intriguing characters. My review will be posted on October 8.
  • Dashing Through the Snowbirds by Donna Andrews (Review; October 11) -- A cozy Christmas mystery in the long-running Meg Langslow series. My review will be posted on October 11.
  • Changeling by Molly Harper (Mine; Kindle & Audiobook) -- Nice YA fantasy with interesting magic and engaging characters. My review will be posted on October 25.
  • The Belle of Belgrade Square by Mimi Matthews (Review; October 11) -- Nice historical romance with interesting characters and a well-developed setting. My review will be posted on October 11.
  • Santa's Little Yelpers by David Rosenfelt (Review; October 11) -- A Christmas mystery with Rosenfelt's usual snarky hero and engaging plot. My review will be posted on October 12.
  • Kris Longknife: Resolute by Mike Shepherd (Mine since 2008) -- Great space opera starring Kris Longknife. I like the characters and worldbuilding in this series. My review will be posted on October 13.
Currently
Next Week
Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

Review:
Bought:
What was your week like?

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Book Review: The Recovery Agent by Janet Evanovich

The Recovery Agent

Author:
Janet Evanovich
Series: Gabriela Rose (Book 1)
Publication: Atria Books (March 22, 2022)

Description: #1 New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich returns with the launch of a blockbuster new series that blends wild adventure, hugely appealing characters, and pitch-perfect humor, proving once again why she’s “the most popular mystery writer alive” (The New York Times).

Lost something? Gabriela Rose knows how to get it back. As a recovery agent, she’s hired by individuals and companies seeking lost treasures, stolen heirlooms, or missing assets of any kind. She’s reliable, cool under pressure, and well trained in weapons of all types. But Gabriela’s latest job isn’t for some bamboozled billionaire, it’s for her own family, whose home is going to be wiped off the map if they can’t come up with a lot of money fast.

Inspired by an old family legend, Gabriela sets off for the jungles of Peru in pursuit of the Ring of Solomon and the lost treasure of Lima. But this particular job comes with a huge problem attached to it—Gabriela’s ex-husband, Rafer. It’s Rafer who has the map that possibly points the way to the treasure, and he’s not about to let Gabriela find it without him.

Rafer is as relaxed as Gabriela is driven, and he has a lifetime’s experience getting under his ex-wife’s skin. But when they aren’t bickering about old times the two make a formidable team, and it’s going to take a team to defeat the vicious drug lord who has also been searching for the fabled ring. A drug lord who doesn’t mind leaving a large body count behind him to get it.

The Recovery Agent marks the start of an irresistible new series that will have you clamoring for more and cheering for the unstoppable Gabriela Rose on every page.

My Thoughts: Gabriela Rose is a Recovery Agent. She travels the world looking for lost treasures. This time she is looking for the Ring of Soloman because she needs the proceeds to help out her parents and her hometown which was almost completely destroyed by a hurricane.

As a descendant of Blackbeard, Gabriela has piracy in her blood and a hidden trunk of old diaries and maps. Unfortunately, the trunk is hidden in the home she gave her ex-husband Rafer when they divorced. When Gabriela is caught by Rafe breaking into the house to search for the trunk, Rafe decides to tag along on the treasure hunt. 

The hunt takes them from Peru to Costa Rica and California as they search for the ring which is also coveted by El Dragon and his army of twisted followers. They explore caves and underwater lava vents. They team up with drug lords who just want to get rid of their competition. And Gabriela is almost sacrificed to El Dragon's god of death.

The adventure was over the top. The humor consisted mainly of comments by people who were really lacking in verbal filters. I love the uber-competent Gabriela and am looking forward to her further adventures. 

Favorite Quote:
Gabriela got coffee and returned to her bedroom. I'm living in a television sitcom, she told herself. I'm being stalked by a guy who worships the God of the Dead and my ex-husband is naked and in my kitchen. I never aspired to being normal, but this is too weird even for me.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Friday Memes: The Recovery Agent by Janet Evanovich

 Happy Friday everybody!

Book Beginnings on Friday is 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:
Gabriela Rose was standing in a small clearing that led to a rope-and-board footbridge. The narrow bridge spanned a gorge that was a hundred feet deep and almost as wide. Rapids roared over enormous boulders at the bottom of the gorge, but Gabriela couldn't see the river because it was raining buckets and visibility was limited. 
Friday 56:
"When was the diary with the clues written?" Pepe asked.

"The sixteenth century," Gabriela said.

"Chances of those candles still being here aren't good," Pepe said. "The wild pigs would eat them."
This week I am spotlighting The Recovery Agent by Janet Evanovich. I heard a lot about this book. So, when it was on sale for my Kindle, I bought a copy. Here is the description from Amazon:
#1 New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich returns with the launch of a blockbuster new series that blends wild adventure, hugely appealing characters, and pitch-perfect humor, proving once again why she’s “the most popular mystery writer alive” (The New York Times)

Lost something? Gabriela Rose knows how to get it back. As a recovery agent, she’s hired by individuals and companies seeking lost treasures, stolen heirlooms, or missing assets of any kind. She’s reliable, cool under pressure, and well trained in weapons of all types. But Gabriela’s latest job isn’t for some bamboozled billionaire, it’s for her own family, whose home is going to be wiped off the map if they can’t come up with a lot of money fast.

Inspired by an old family legend, Gabriela sets off for the jungles of Peru in pursuit of the Ring of Solomon and the lost treasure of Lima. But this particular job comes with a huge problem attached to it—Gabriela’s ex-husband, Rafer. It’s Rafer who has the map that possibly points the way to the treasure, and he’s not about to let Gabriela find it without him.

Rafer is as relaxed as Gabriela is driven, and he has a lifetime’s experience getting under his ex-wife’s skin. But when they aren’t bickering about old times the two make a formidable team, and it’s going to take a team to defeat the vicious drug lord who has also been searching for the fabled ring. A drug lord who doesn’t mind leaving a large body count behind him to get it.

The Recovery Agent marks the start of an irresistible new series that will have you clamoring for more and cheering for the unstoppable Gabriela Rose on every page.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Audiobook Review: A Justified Murder by Jude Deveraux

A Justified Murder

Author:
Jude Deveraux
Narrator: Susan Bennett
Series: A Medlar Mystery (Book 2)
Publication: MIRA; Original edition (February 26, 2019); Recorded Books (February 26, 2019)
Length: 334 p.; 10 hours and 31 minutes

Description: New York Times bestselling romance author Jude Deveraux continues her breakout Medlar Mystery series with a twisted tale of guilt and revenge...

The small town of Lachlan, Florida, was rocked last year when two bodies were uncovered in the roots of a fallen tree. Despite their lack of investigative experience, Sara Medlar; her niece, Kate; and Jack Wyatt found themselves at the center of the mystery, working together to reveal the truth behind a decades-old secret in the sleepy town. After a narrow escape, they vowed to never again involve themselves in something so dangerous—until Janet Beeson is murdered.

When Janet’s body is discovered, everyone is shocked by the violence of the attack. The sweet little old woman has been shot, stabbed and poisoned, but no one can imagine who would want to harm one of the town’s kindest, most helpful residents.

Sara, Kate and Jack are determined to leave this case to the professionals. But they are soon bombarded by townspeople eager to tell their stories and clear their names with the trio who solved the Morris murders. Even the sheriff is hoping they’ll lend their skills to a crime that seems to have no explanation and no motive. And once the town gets talking, they begin to see that there are more secrets buried in quiet Lachlan than anyone could have imagined…

My Thoughts: I listened to this second case for the Medlars, but think it would have been better had I read it with my eyes. The narrator didn't make the voices distinct for me. I was often wondering who was doing the talking. It was even harder because parts of the story were told in flashbacks which give one or two of the current suspects motives. 

The story concerns the death of a woman who was described as sweet and forgiving. Her manner of death - shot, stabbed, and poisoned - seems to indicate that she wasn't as nice as first look told. 

Bestselling author Sara Medlin, her real estate saleswoman niece Kate, and adopted grandson Jack Wyatt were successful in their first case. But they have decided that it was too dangerous and wish people would quit coming to tell them about Janet. Even the Sheriff wants them to investigate. 

As they begin looking into Janet's life, they find a number of people who wanted her dead. The suspects range from the woman who sold Janet her house to teenage mean girls to Jack's foreman who is worried about losing custody of his son. There were others too. 

Sara, Kate, and Jack soon learn that Janet was never satisfied until she got revenge for even the smallest slight. The woman who beat her in a crocheting contest had her sheshed burned down. The beautician who accidentally dyed her hair green had Janet put her out of business by establishing a competitor next door. 

I liked the byplay between Jack and Kate and wonder if she's really as clueless about how much he likes her as she seems. 

It was a nice mystery with a sort of surprising ending. I just think I would have enjoyed it more if I had read it with my eyes.

Favorite Quote:
Janet Beeson had a gunshot in her head and a large knife sticking out of her chest. Green vomit was on her chin and down the front of her shirt. Poison, maybe?

Sheriff Flynn recovered first. "Somebody really, really wanted her dead," he managed to say.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Book Review: Kris Longknife: Defiant by Mike Shepherd

Kris Longknife: Defiant

Author:
Mike Shepherd
Series: Kris Longknife (Book 3)
Publication: Ace (October 25, 2005)

Description: As part of an agenda to oust her father from his political position, Kris Longknife is relieved of command. But when an alien enemy launches an invasion, she defies both government and military authority to lead a rag-tag fleet against the threat.

My Thoughts: Lieutenant Kris Longknife finds herself assigned to small, experimental ships designed to protect individual planets and made of the semi-smart metal that was used in an assassination attempt against her. The ships have all sorts of problems from equipment failures to the sheer impossibility of small ships taking on battlecruisers. 

Before the problems can be solved, but with some hope in sight, Kris is pulled from the ship and arrested for dereliction of duty. This is a put-up case because her father's enemies have found a way to get him out of power and are using Kris's earlier mission as a way to keep him out. 

While awaiting her court martial, her Great-grandfather King Ray sends her on a diplomatic mission to sit with one of his old comrades who is dying and, incidentally, convince her planet to join the United Sentients. She has a fight on her hands when off planet agitators attempt their own takeover of the planet. 

Then, when returned home to Wardhaven, Kris learns that the planet's defense fleet have been sent to another potential member planet of the United Sentients just when a battle fleet of unknown origin comes to Wardhaven.

With the new government burying its head in the sand, it is up to Kris and quite a few co-conspirators to get her twelve ships functional and find a way to defeat the invading armada. Luckily, she isn't alone. Her Grandpa Al opens his space repair facilities to her, and she gets help from his crew along with private yacht captains, space tugs, the Army, the Navy, and even the local flying clubs. It is up to twenty-three-year-old Princess Kristine Longknife to meld all these elements together into a cohesive fighting force if she wants her planet to survive. 

I enjoyed the planning, conniving, space battles, and soul-searching even while hating the losses of friends that were the inevitable result of the battle.

Favorite Quote:
"Battles aren't so much won by the brilliant choices of the winner as lost by the dumb mistakes of the losers."
***
"Eighty years of peace create a certain way of thinking."

"Yes, Father. And those who don't break it may very soon find it listed as their cause of death."
I bought this one before 2008. You can buy your copy here.