Saturday, May 27, 2023

Book Review: Deadtown by Nancy Holzner


Nancy Holzner
Series: A Deadtown Novel (Book 1)
Publication: Ace; Reissue edition (November 10, 2009)

Description: First in a brand new urban fantasy series that's "fresh and funny, with a great new take on zombies" (Karen Chance) and "full of dangerous magic and populated with characters so realistic, they almost jump off the page" (Ilona Andrews).

If you were undead, you'd be home by now...

They call it Deadtown: the city's quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its borders-but Victory Vaughn, Boston's only professional demon slayer, isn't exactly human.

My Thoughts: Victory Vaughn is a shapeshifter and demon killer. She might be the last of her kind if her young niece doesn't inherit shapeshifting which her sister really hopes she won't.

After a plague hit Boston and turned most of the citizens into zombies, the human government created an enclave called Deadtown for the inhuman and undead residents. Since then, residents have been fighting for their rights which is a real uphill battle.

Vicky's sometime boyfriend Kane is a werewolf lawyer really concerned about winning rights for all inhuman and undead residents. Currently, Massachusetts is one of the few US States were residents of Deadtown have some limited rights. The current race for governor could change that as the leading candidate is extremely opposed to any more rights and freedoms for people he calls "monsters."

Vicky is more concerned about making a living than politics. She is hired by the haunted wealthy to rid their dreams of various demons that cause nightmares. However when helping her latest client who happens to be a gangster and a supporter of the anti-inhuman governor candidate, she encounters the demon who killed her father and marked her. 

She learns that the demon has been bound by a human sorcerer. It makes Vicky determined to find the demon and send it back to hell and to find the sorcerer too. 

There is another problem too. A fanatic human scientist wants to study Vicky and her family and goes so far as to kidnap Vicky's ten-year-old niece. Since it isn't certain that the niece is human or like Vicky, human law is taking a wait-and-see approach leaving the rescue to Vicky and one police officer who is one her side. 

This was an engaging and entertaining urban fantasy story with an interesting main character. I enjoyed this story which begins a series. 

Favorite Quote:
For me, ethics were a lot simpler. If you had a problem and you could afford my fee, I'd help you out. And if you were a demon and came after me, I'd kill you. So I wouldn't win the Nobel Peace Prize any time soon. My system worked for me.
I bought this one for my first Kindle December 29, 2009. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Friday Memes: Deadtown by Nancy Holzner

 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.

Two rules I live by: Never admit to being a shapeshifter on a first, second, or third date with a human. And never, ever bring along a zombie apprentice wannabe on a demon kill.
Friday 56:
The next summer I was eighteen years old, a high school graduate, and feeling more than ready to graduate from Mab's training program as well. I was all grown up now, and this would be the summer I finally got to kick some demon ass. 
This week I am spotlighting a book I added to my stack December 29, 2009. It was one of the first books I bought for my Kindle. Deadtown by Nancy Holzner is the first in an urban fantasy series. Here is the description from Amazon:
First in a brand new urban fantasy series that's "fresh and funny, with a great new take on zombies" (Karen Chance) and "full of dangerous magic and populated with characters so realistic, they almost jump off the page" (Ilona Andrews).

If you were undead, you'd be home by now...

They call it Deadtown: the city's quarantined section for its inhuman and undead residents. Most humans stay far from its borders-but Victory Vaughn, Boston's only professional demon slayer, isn't exactly human.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Audiobook Review: The Battered Badge by Robert Goldsborough

The Battered Badge

Robert Goldsborough
Narrator: L. J. Ganser
Series: Nero Wolfe Mysteries (Book 13)
Publication: Blackstone Audio (April 17, 2019)
Length: 6 hours and 31 minutes

Description: A shake-up in the New York Polic Department's homicide squad following a high-profile murder is bad for business for private investigator Nero Wolfe.

When wealthy and popular crusader and reformer Lester Pierce is gunned down in front of his Park Avenue residence, the public outcry forces the NYPD to restructure its homicide department. As the deceased was highly critical of Inspector Lionel Cramer, the longtime head of homicide is temporarily relieved of his badge. But it seems Cramer was not just a scapegoat. He was seen dining in Little Italy with mob kingpin Ralph Mars.

All of this amounts to little more than conversational fodder for private eye Nero Wolfe and his assistant Archie Goodwin. But if Cramer's provisional replacement, Captain George Rowcliff, becomes permanent, Wolfe's future dealings with the force will be much compromised. Loath to depart from his routine, Wolfe makes the unusual decision to take on a case without an actual client.

His investigation quickly points toward Pierce's organization, Good Government Group, where high-minded idealism is often trampled under the competing ambitions of the staff - several of whom would clearly have benefited from Pierce's demise. Despite the burgeoning list of suspects, Wolfe hasn't ruled out the involvement of the underworld and its connection to Cramer. But in order to untangle an abundance of motives and end the inspector's forced furlough, Wolfe may have to venture out of his comfort zone - and the premises of his brownstone.

Continuing his beloved series, Nero Award-winning author Robert Goldsborough "demonstrates an impressive ability to emulate Rex Stout's narrative voice" (Publishers Weekly).

The Battered Badge is the 60th book in the Nero Wolfe mystery series, but all titles can be enjoyed in any order.

My Thoughts: A new Nero Wolfe story is concerned with the death of Lester Pierce who is a crusader and reformer who wants to change the police department. Inspector Lionel Cramer of the NYPD Homicide division has been a particular target of the reformer. He's been put on leave and Captain George Rowcliff has become his replacement.

Neither Wolfe nor Archie are looking forward to working with Rowcliff but they don't have a client to encourage them to investigate. Cramer's sergeant comes to ask Wolfe and Archie to look into the case but he doesn't have the money to hire them. Archie begins to investigate and discovers a bunch of potential suspects including the "other woman." the mob, and others. 

When Wolfe finally decides to get involved, it brings some changes to his normal pattern. He doesn't have a client and the climax has him actually leaving his home for the reveal of the villian. 

Goldsborough does an excellent job recreating Rex Stout's characters. They sound and act just like the originals. L. J. Ganser does a great job narrating the story. He does an excellent job with Archie as the narrator.

I received this one February 26, 2023 from the Audible Plus catalog. You can buy your copy here.

Book Review: Unknown by Rachel Caine


Rachel Caine
Series: Outcast Season (Book 2)
Publication: Ace; 1st Printing edition (February 2, 2010)

Description: Living among mortals, the djinn Cassiel has developed a reluctant affection for them-especially for Warden Luis Rocha. As the mystery deepens around the kidnapping of innocent Warden children, Cassiel and Luis are the only ones who can investigate both the human and djinn realms. But the trail will lead them to a traitor who may be more powerful than they can handle...

My Thoughts: The second book in the Outcast Season series finds Cassiel becoming more human and falling in love with Earth Warden Luis Rocha. They are both on a quest to rescue Luis's niece who has been kidnapped by Pearl along with many other Warden children to be turned into weapons in her war against humanity.

Cassiel is conflicted and alone. She was exiled from the Djinn and turned human because she refused to massacre humanity. Her leader believes that this is the only way to defeat Pearl and save the Djinn. More and more Cassiel fears that he might be right. But the more she spends time with humans, the more determined she is to find a way to defeat Pearl and still save humanity. 

I enjoyed the worldbuilding in this story. I am also getting to like Cassiel more as she becomes more involved with humans and their problems. 

Favorite Quote:
Luis sighed. "So, I'm taking bets. Did we just do something really smart, or really, dramatically stupid?"

"I see nothing to say it can't be both," I said. "There is, after all, an endless supply of stupidity."
I bought this Kindle version February 2, 2010. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Book Review: Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader

Anne Fadiman
Publication: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (November 25, 2000)

Description: Perfectly balanced between humor and erudition, Ex Libris establishes Anne Fadiman as one of our finest contemporary essayists.

Anne Fadiman is--by her own admission--the sort of person who learned about sex from her father's copy of Fanny Hill, whose husband buys her 19 pounds of dusty books for her birthday, and who once found herself poring over her roommate's 1974 Toyota Corolla manual because it was the only written material in the apartment that she had not read at least twice.

This witty collection of essays recounts a lifelong love affair with books and language. For Fadiman, as for many passionate readers, the books she loves have become chapters in her own life story. Writing with remarkable grace, she revives the tradition of the well-crafted personal essay, moving easily from anecdotes about Coleridge and Orwell to tales of her own pathologically literary family. As someone who played at blocks with her father's 22-volume set of Trollope ("My Ancestral Castles") and who only really considered herself married when she and her husband had merged collections ("Marrying Libraries"), she is exquisitely well equipped to expand upon the art of inscriptions, the perverse pleasures of compulsive proof-reading, the allure of long words, and the satisfactions of reading out loud. There is even a foray into pure literary gluttony--Charles Lamb liked buttered muffin crumbs between the leaves, and Fadiman knows of more than one reader who literally consumes page corners.

My Thoughts: This collection of essays illuminates Anne Fadiman's love of books and shows how books have influenced and infused her life. She covers a wide range of topics from her own curiosity about Arctic explorers especially the Victorian failures to her family's obsession with proofreading. 

Essays about merging her library and her husband's library after their marriage and about the care and treatment of books were my favorites. While she and I have different feelings about writing in books, I do share the habit of leaving books face down and sprawled open as I'm reading them. The idea that using a bookmark indicates a stop while leaving the book open and facedown indicates a pause is one I hadn't had before but do agree with. 

I don't share her feelings about used books and really don't want to find someone else's crumbs in the gutter of a book but can understand how they could appeal to some other different reader. Nor do we read the same sort of books. "Literary" and "Classics" are phrases that lead me to look for some different book while they seem to draw her in. 

All in all, I enjoyed this book. Fadiman's love for books shone clearly through each page. 

Favorite Quote:
But why do I receive catalogues devoted exclusively to salsa, equestrian gear, electric grills, extra-large clothes, extra-small clothes, tours to sites at which UFO's have landed, and resin reproductions of medieval gargoyles? Do these companies know something about me that I don't know?
I bought this one October 25, 2009. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

ARC Review: A Killer's Game by Isabella Maldonado

A Killer's Game

Isabella Maldonado
Series: Daniela Vega (Book 1)
Publication: Thomas & Mercer (June 1, 2023)

Description: An FBI agent with a background in cryptography. A brilliant game maker bent on revenge. A deadly battle of wits and wills. An ingenious thriller from the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Cipher.

FBI agent and former military codebreaker Daniela “Dani” Vega witnesses a murder on a Manhattan sidewalk. The victim is chief of staff for a powerful New York senator. The assassin turned informant is Gustavo Toro. His code: hit the target and don’t ask questions. When Dani suspects a complex conspiracy, the only way to take down the mastermind is from the inside, forcing her to partner with Toro. Together they must infiltrate the inner circle at a remote facility.

Except it’s a trap. For all of them.

Locked in a subterranean labyrinth and held captive by an unseen host, Dani, Toro, and others must fight for their lives. Now Dani must stay undercover, unravel a bizarre conspiracy, and survive lethal puzzles. But will Toro be friend or foe? Because in this killer’s game, everything is real: the paranoia, the desperation, and the body count. And only one person can make it out alive.

My Thoughts: A KILLER'S GAME was an action-packed thriller starring Danielle Vega, a former Army Ranger turned FBI Agent. The case begins with the death of a Senator's Chief of Staff and ends in a former missile silo. 

Vega sees a man kill the Chief of Staff and chases him. He eludes her. When a friend of the Chief of Staff comes with a letter he was to bring to the FBI if anything happened to his friend, the case becomes more complex. From a band of hired killers run by a former Army Colonel to a tech billionaire with a grudge to a corrupt Senator, the story is packed with a variety of characters. 

Vega herself seems too good to be true. She's an elite soldier; she's a master strategist with the ability to solve all sorts of puzzles. She's also only been with the FBI for a matter of months. Yet she's the one for is assigned to go undercover with to find evidence to arrest the Senator. 

If the reader is ready to suspend belief, the story was engaging and it certainly was packed with action. Fans of thrillers will enjoy it. 

Favorite Quote:
Before leaving the Army, Vega had served in their most elite combat unit, where she had smashed through closed doors, glass ceilings, and preconceived notions. Wu had no doubt she was more than qualified for this assignment. Her only challenge would be dealing with Toto, whose loyalty was only to himself. 
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, May 22, 2023

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (May 22, 2023)

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...

I had a nice quiet week with nothing on my schedule after last Monday's doctor's appointment. This week I have another medical appointment for an ultrasound of my thyroid but otherwise the week is empty of appointments. 

I finished the final In Death novel until the new one comes out in September and am trying to ignore the stack of novellas in the In Death series until I get ahead on my calendar. Next week will be filled with books I already own including some I bought in 2009. I am starting my June review books too. 

I have planned my June calendar but still have openings for two books and two audiobooks late in the month. I haven't decided what I want to read but have 2450 choices on my "To Read" stack. I'm sure that something will catch my attention. 

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.)
  • Desperation in Death by J. D. Robb (Mine; Audiobook) -- 55th in the In Death series.
  • Encore in Death by J. D. Robb (Mine; Audiobook) -- 56th in the In Death series
  • Unknown by Rachel Caine (Mine since February 2, 2010) -- Second in the Outcast Season urban fantasy series. Knowing that there were two more books in the series removed a lot of the suspense, but it was a good story. My review will be posted on May 25.
  • Booked for Murder by Jasmine Webb (Mine; Audiobook) -- Aspiring author Poppy Perkins finds herself the prime suspect in the murder of one of the customers in the coffee shop where she works. Entertaining story. My review will be posted on May 30.
  • The Battered Badge by Robert Goldsborough (Mine; Audiobook) -- This entry in the Nero Wolfe mystery series was an engaging historical mystery. The new author has Rex Stout's voice down pat. My review will be posted on May 25.
  • Deadtown by Nancy Holzner (Mine since December 29, 2009) -- This is the first in an urban fantasy series and was an entertaining story. My review will be posted on May 27.
  • A Fool's Gold Wedding by Susan Mallery (Mine; Audiobook) -- I was looking for something short to listen to this week and found this novella which is part of the Fool's Gold romance series by Susan Mallery. It was entertaining and well-narrated. I don't plan to review it.
  • A Botanist's Guide to Flowers and Fatality by Kate Khavari (Review; June 6) -- This second in the Saffron Everleigh historical mystery series was an engaging mystery about a woman trying to make her way as a botanist is 1920s London. My review will be posted on May 30.
  • Final Cut by Marjorie McCown (Review; June 6)
Next Week
Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?


What was your week like?