Thursday, June 30, 2022

Book & Audio Review: Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews

Bayou Moon

Ilona Andrews
Narrator: Renee Raudman
Series: A Novel of the Edge (Book 2)
Publication: Ace (September 28, 2010); Tantor Audio (September 28, 2010)
Length: 492 p,; 15 hours and 32 minutes

Description: The Edge lies between worlds, on the border between the Broken, where people shop at Walmart and magic is a fairytale–and the Weird, where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change your destiny…

Cerise Mar and her unruly clan are cash poor but land rich, claiming a large swathe of the Mire, the Edge swamplands between the state of Louisiana and the Weird. When her parents vanish, her clan’s long-time rivals are suspect number one.

But all is not as it seems. Two nations of the Weird are waging a cold war fought by feint and espionage, and their conflict is about to spill over into the Edge—and Cerise’s life. William, a changeling soldier who left behind the politics of the Weird, has been forced back into service to track down a rival nation’s spymaster.

When William’s and Cerise’s missions lead them to cross paths, sparks fly—but they’ll have to work together if they want to succeed…and survive.

My Thoughts: This was a very interesting and suspenseful fantasy/romance. William is a great character. He had always been alone, having been abandoned at birth by his mother, and raised in what was essentially a prison and trained to be a weapon. He is a changeling and, while he knows something of what humans expect, his own instincts are those of his wolf. 

Cerise is the strong leader of her family. She is the one who has managed the money and also managed to keep everyone fed and clothed. When her parents disappear, she is ready to do anything to get them back but human enough to know the emotional costs. She is attracted to William but reluctant to invite him home with her because she knows how hard her family can be on outsiders.  William is also attracted to her. They have trouble connecting because they each misread the other's signals.

The book was filled with fascinating characters. The villain - Spider - was the worst kind. He could commit any kind of atrocity with no regrets because he felt has cause was just. That is creepier than someone who is insane or evil. Many of the members of Cerise's family were also unique and interesting characters. I am especially fond of Kaldar who is always talking, arranges the marriages, and can do magic if someone will bet him before he tries.

This is not a story for the faint of heart. A few of the atrocities who were associates of the Spider will be appearing in my dreams for a while. This aspect is enhanced by the audiobook experience. But if you like action and adventure, and a well-told tale, you can't go wrong with this story. I recommend it to lovers of paranormal fantasy.

Favorite Quote:
When sarcasm flies over a blueblood's head, does it make a sound? No, I guess not.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

ARC Review: Holy Chow by David Rosenfelt

Holy Chow

David Rosenfelt
Series: Andy Carpenter (Book 25)
Publication: Minotaur Books (July 5, 2022)

Description: In Holy Chow, the next mystery from bestselling author David Rosenfelt, the beloved characters―both human and canine―of this fan favorite series are back on the case with the author’s trademark wit and humor.

Retired lawyer Andy Carpenter’s calling has always been running the Tara Foundation. The dog rescue organization places hundreds of dogs in new homes every year. It’s added up to so many dogs and new owners that Andy can’t even do the math. But there’s one dog―and one owner―Andy will always remember.

About a year ago, Rachel Morehouse came to the foundation looking for a companion. In her sixties and recently widowed, Rachel wanted a senior dog that also needed someone. Andy took a liking to her, Rachel took a liking to Lion, an older Chow Chow, and the rest is history.

If Rachel dies, will Andy take care of Lion if her stepson cannot? Andy agrees, no questions asked, and promptly forgets about it... until he receives a call from Rachel’s estate to attend her will reading. Which is where he meets Rachel’s stepson, Tony, who is promptly arrested for his stepmother’s murder. And he wants Andy to prove his innocence.

Andy has continued to learn more about the woman he so greatly admired and the businesses she ran, and holy chow, was this woman impressive. The person who killed her deserves to be held accountable, and if Tony is to be believed, they’re still out there. And that possibility is too much for Andy to remain on the sidelines.

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this new episode of the long-running Andy Carpenter series. This one begins when a woman who adopted a big chow calls Andy to ask if he will take the dog back if something happens to her. 

A couple of weeks later, he's contacted by a lawyer and asked to attend a reading of a will. The lady died. At first, it seemed like natural causes since she had heart trouble and cancer, but it was soon discovered to be murder. Her stepson has been accused of the crime.

Andy, rather less reluctantly than usual, agrees to defend the stepson but there isn't much evidence that supports his belief that the man is innocent except that Andy likes him and he wants to adopt his stepmother's dog. 

The investigation uncovers all sorts of wrong-doing at the $12 billion business the woman had recently inherited from her husband. Most of the book deals with uncovering that wrong-doing and trying to figure out how Andy can bring it all up at the trial. 

I enjoyed the entertaining dialog. The story was also filled with tension because of a few attacks on Andy to try to get him to back off. Fans of the series won't want to miss this episode.

Favorite Quote:
"Any ideas who would have profited from killing Rachel Morehouse?"

"The police seem to think the answer is your client."

"Yeah. I hate it when that happens."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

ARC Review: The Hidden One by Linda Castillo

The Hidden One

Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder (Book 14)
Publication: Minotaur Books (July 5, 2022)

Description: The discovery of an Amish bishop's remains leads chief of police Kate Burkholder to unearth a chilling secret in The Hidden One, a new thriller from bestselling author Linda Castillo.

Over a decade ago, beloved Amish bishop Ananias Stoltzfus disappeared without a trace. When skeletal remains showing evidence of foul play are unearthed, his disappearance becomes even more sinister.

The town’s elders arrive in Painters Mill to ask chief of police Kate Burkholder for help, but she quickly realizes she has a personal connection to the crime. The handsome Amish man who stands accused of the murder, Jonas Bowman, was Kate’s first love. Forced to confront a painful episode from her past, Kate travels to Pennsylvania’s Kishacoquillas Valley, where the Amish culture differs dramatically from the traditions she knows. Though Bishop Stoltzfus was highly respected, she soon hears about a dark side to this complex man. What was he hiding that resulted in his own brutal death?

Someone doesn’t want Kate asking questions. But even after being accosted and threatened in the dead of night, she refuses to back down. Is she too close to the case―and to Jonas―to see clearly? There’s a killer in the Valley who will stop at nothing to keep the past buried. Will they get to Kate before she can expose the truth? Or will the bishop’s secrets remain hidden forever?

My Thoughts: When her childhood friend and first love is arrested for murder, Kate travels into Pennsylvania to look into the crime. Eighteen years earlier, the 86-year-old Amish bishop disappeared. Now his bones have been discovered in a field carved out of the surrounding woods. Jonas Bowman's old muzzleloader was found next to the body.

When Jonas identified the gun as his, he was arrested for the murder of Ananias Stoltzfus. The church leadership don't believe that Jonas killed Stoltzfus and want Kate to look into the case. It helps that Kate was once Amish, so she has a better understanding of the mindsets of the people involved. They are hoping that her being a Chief of Police will give her an in with local law enforcement.

Kate agrees to help, especially since she has unresolved issues about Jonas. When she arrives, she discovers that the police aren't interested in cooperating with her and that many of the Amish are very reluctant to say anything negative about their old bishop.

But someone doesn't want Kate asking questions. She's attacked in her hotel room and her car is run off the road. Unfortunately for the criminal, Kate is a stubborn person who takes the attacks as proof that there are secrets to be discovered.

I enjoyed the setting. I also like Kate who is a complicated woman who is finally getting a handle on what she wants for her life. The information about the Amish was interesting. While I didn't figure out who the killer was, I had a pretty good idea of what some of the other secrets were.

This was an engaging and tension-filled thriller. Fans of the series will enjoy this new episode. New readers will likely be curious about this engaging main character and enjoy the mystery.

Favorite Quote:
There is a moment in the course of an investigation when you know it's going to come together. It's a frenetic time. You don't know how all the information fits or if it will come to you in the right order. All you know is that the answer is buried somewhere in the slapdash pile of data churning in your head.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Book & Audio Review: Oath Sworn by K. N. Banet

Oath Sworn

K. N. Banet
Narrator: Savannah Gilmore
Series: Jacky Leon (Book 1)
Publication: Kristen Banet (May 13, 2020)
Length: 354 p; 9 hours and 17 minutes

Description: I’ve never been the type to find trouble. Owning a bar takes work and that was all I wanted. Serving cold beers and paying my taxes. Those were the responsibilities I wanted for the rest of my life.

I didn’t ask to be a werecat. I didn’t ask for the responsibility to uphold an ancient treaty. I didn’t ask to get pulled into the middle of a werewolf pack’s coup.

But Carey Everson, the very human daughter of a werewolf Alpha, needs me. Her father’s enemies are on her heels and I’m her l

My name is Jacky Leon and nothing is going to stop me from honoring my word.

My Thoughts: Jacky Leon just wants a quiet life. She's a reluctant werecat who just wants to run her bar and live her life. But when eleven-year-old Carey Everson comes begging for her protection under terms of an ancient treaty, she has no choice but to protect the child.

The treaty says that she can't get involved in werewolf politics, but Carey is the pack alpha's human daughter. And groups of werewolves want her and are willing to fight Jacky for her despite what the treaty says. 

After the first attack, Jacky and Carey run and hide out in an out-of-the-way motel which happens to be owned by a fae. When trouble shows up, the fae helps and offers Jacky healing and a gift she doesn't really want. When she is attacked again and Carey is taken, Jacky has no choice, at least according to her sense of honor, but to head to Dallas and rescue the child, no matter whose politics she has to interfere in.

The story was action-packed. The worldbuilding was intriguing. Jacky is a nicely complex character just coming to terms with her new life. I liked her loyalty and loneliness. I liked her determination to protect Carey no matter what it might cost her in the future. 

I look forward to reading more books in this series. 

Favorite Quote:
"Stop saying thank you," I demanded, covering my face. "Stop. I'm just...this is what good people do, right? We show up, even when we're not ready and we're totally out of our depth. I made a promise to her and I'm going to see it through. Stop...thanking me for that."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

ARC Review: The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston

The Dead Romantics

Ashley Poston
Publication: Berkley (June 28, 2022)

Description: A disillusioned millennial ghostwriter who, quite literally, has some ghosts of her own, has to find her way back home in this sparkling adult debut from national bestselling author Ashley Poston.

Florence Day is the ghostwriter for one of the most prolific romance authors in the industry, and she has a problem—after a terrible breakup, she no longer believes in love. It’s as good as dead.

When her new editor, a too-handsome mountain of a man, won't give her an extension on her book deadline, Florence prepares to kiss her career goodbye. But then she gets a phone call she never wanted to receive, and she must return home for the first time in a decade to help her family bury her beloved father.

For ten years, she's run from the town that never understood her, and even though she misses the sound of a warm Southern night and her eccentric, loving family and their funeral parlor, she can’t bring herself to stay. Even with her father gone, it feels like nothing in this town has changed. And she hates it.

Until she finds a ghost standing at the funeral parlor’s front door, just as broad and infuriatingly handsome as ever, and he’s just as confused about why he’s there as she is.

Romance is most certainly dead . . . but so is her new editor, and his unfinished business will have her second-guessing everything she’s ever known about love stories.

My Thoughts: Florence Day is a ghostwriter for an immensely popular romance author who has to deal with some ghosts of her own, both figurative and literal. After a betrayal by her lover, Florence no longer believes in romance and is having trouble finishing her current romance, the last in her contract, despite a number of contract extensions.

When she meets Benji Andor who is her new editor after the previous editor's retirement, she is told that there will be no more extensions and the book is due almost immediately. However, a phone call from her mother telling her that her beloved father has died from a sudden heart attack, sends her rushing back home to the town she fled right after high school graduation. She's stayed away for ten years. 

Dealing with her own grief and that of her mother, brother and sister would be hard enough, but then the ghost of Benji Andor appears with issues of his own. Florence has seen ghosts since she was a child. In fact, seeing ghosts and helping one find his killer when she was thirteen and the harassment and bullying that followed, were the main reasons she left home never to return. 

This was an engaging story about grief which was also a romance. The love between her parents and their love for their children infuse this book. I enjoyed watching Florence's attitude about love and romance evolve through the course of this story. 

People looking for a unique sort of romance with wonderful, quirky characters will greatly enjoy this book. 

Favorite Quote:
Standing there in the middle of the dandelion field, looking up into Ben's soft ocher eyes, I began to realize that love wasn't dead, but it wasn't forever, either. It was something in between, a moment in time where two people existed in the exact same place in the universe. 
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, June 27, 2022

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (June 27, 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...

I spent most of this week resting and trying to get over my bronchitis. Thus far, I've noticed no significant improvement in my symptoms. I'll probably be heading back to Urgent Care next weekend to give them a second try at finding something to cure me.

I did briefly attend a couple of local festivals - one on Saturday and one on Sunday. 

The Rhubarb Festival was Saturday. It is sponsored by CHUM which is a multi-faith-based charity feeding the hungry and helping the homeless. Since I knew parking would be difficult and wasn't familiar with this year's site, I managed to convince my brother to be my chauffeur. The weather was gorgeous, and the parking was as horrendous as I had anticipated. We ended up parking blocks and blocks away from the festival after driving around residential streets for enough time to get me lost. I walked to the site but convinced my brother to go get the car and pick me up nearer the festival when it was time to leave. I haven't been doing much walking since I've been sick. My main purpose in attending was to buy a rhubarb pie which I did accomplish. 

Sunday was Taste of Greece which is sponsored by Duluth's only Greek Orthodox Church. That one was held at my old high school and was within my comfortable driving range, so I went by myself. I didn't stay long there either. I walked around, saw the massively long line for the Greek dinners, and decided a gyro from the Express line and some Greek sweets would satisfy my craving for Greek food. There was also music and dancing which I missed.

This coming week should be a quiet one of reading and baseball watching. At least, I hope so.

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.)
  • Something from the Nightside by Simon R. Green (Mine; Kindle & Audiobook) -- First in an urban fantasy series that drifts too close to horror for me. I liked this story which was also a hard-boiled detective story but won't be continuing the series. My review will be posted on July 7.
  • What Lies Beneath by J. G. Hetherton (Review; July 12) -- Second thriller starring reporter Laura Chambers. Entertaining story with an interesting main character. My review will be posted on July 5.
  • No Nest for the Wicket by Donna Andrews (Chirp Audiobook) -- Cozy, humorous mystery starring Meg Langslow. My review will be posted July 14.
  • Count to Three by T. R. Ragan (Mine; Kindle & Audiobook) -- Compelling and graphic story about a couple of kidnappings and the private investigators who are trying to solve the cases. My review will be posted on July 12.
  • A Poisonous Page by Kitt Crowe (Review; July 12) -- Second cozy starring bookstore manager Lexi Jones and her dog Cookie who have to find the real killer when a body is left in the yard of her best friend's brother. My review will be posted on July 6.
  • Alliance of Equals by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller (Mine; Audiobook Reread)
  • Trader's Leap by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller (Mine; Audiobook Reread)
  • Upgrade by Blake Crouch (Review; July 12) -- Near future science fiction story about genetic manipulation. Fast-paced and thought-provoking story. My review will be posted on July 7)
Next Week
Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

What was your week like?

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Book Review: Naked in Death by J. D. Robb

Naked in Death

J. D. Robb
Series: In Death (Book 1)
Publication: Berkley (July 1, 1995)

Description: In the year 2058, technology completely rules the world. But for New York City Detective Eve Dallas, one irresistible impulse still rules the heart: passion…

Eve Dallas is a New York police lieutenant hunting for a ruthless killer. In over ten years on the force, she's seen it all—and knows her survival depends on her instincts. And she's going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire—and a suspect in Eve's murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own, and it's up to Eve to take a chance in the arms of a man she knows nothing about—except the addictive hunger of needing his touch.

My Thoughts: This story begins with Eve - Lieutenant Eve Dallas of the NYPSD - dealing with the aftermath of a case when she killed an addict just after the addict has sliced up and murdered a three-year-old child. Before she can go into Testing, she's called in for a Code Five case.

Licensed Companion Sharon DeBlass has been murdered with an illegal firearm. This is a political hot potato because her grandfather is Senator DeBlass. The Senator is a strong right-wing conservative against legal prostitution, the gun ban, professional mothers and all sorts of other realities in the United States in 2058. He also has a great deal of influence with her superiors in the NYPSD. 

As Eve begins to investigate, with the help of her former partner Ryan Feeney, she learns that one of the last people to see Sharon was Roarke. Roarke is a mysterious billionaire with no first name and no past that anyone can find. She certainly doesn't expect to be powerfully attracted to the mysterious Roarke. And he wasn't looking for her either. 

When Sharon's death is only the first with two more following - also licensed companions but not having anything else in common - Eve along with an assist by Roarke has to find out why someone wanted them all dead and stop him before he kills again. 

I liked the way the worldbuilding was woven into the story without long info-dumps. I liked the way the characters were introduced with just enough information to begin to get to know them. I loved the beginning of the romance between Eve and Roarke who were remarkably alike despite outward appearances. 

Favorite Quote:
God, what a face, he thought. All those angles and expressions, all that emotion and control. Just now she was fighting off showing both surprise and pleasure as the taste of the wine settled on her tongue. He was looking forward to the moment when the taste of her settled on his.
I bought this one in 1995 and read it the first time then. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Friday Memes: Naked in Death by J. D. Robb

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.

She woke in the dark. Through the slats on the window shades, the first murky hint of dawn slipped, slanting shadowy bars over the bed. It was like waking in a cell.
Friday 56:
Eve treated herself to one precious cup the next morning. Even her temperamental AutoChef hadn't been able to spoil the dark, rich flavor. She drove to the station, with her faulty heater, under sleeting skies, in a wind chill that came in just under five degrees, with a smile on her face.
This week I am circling back to a book I first read in 1995. Naked in Death by J. D. Robb is the first of (currently) 56 books in the In Death series. While I have kept up with the series and, in fact, eagerly anticipated each new one, it has been quite a while since I read the first book. I found that it held up very well for me and made me want to read more.

Here is the description from Amazon:
In the year 2058, technology completely rules the world. But for New York City Detective Eve Dallas, one irresistible impulse still rules the heart: passion…

Eve Dallas is a New York police lieutenant hunting for a ruthless killer. In over ten years on the force, she's seen it all—and knows her survival depends on her instincts. And she's going against every warning telling her not to get involved with Roarke, an Irish billionaire—and a suspect in Eve's murder investigation. But passion and seduction have rules of their own, and it's up to Eve to take a chance in the arms of a man she knows nothing about—except the addictive hunger of needing his touch.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Book & Audio Review: Blind Search by Paula Munier

Blind Search

Paula Munier
Narrator: Kathleen McInerney
Series: A Mercy Carr Mystery (Book 2)
Publication: Minotaur Books (November 5, 2019); Macmillan Audio (November 5, 2019)
Length: 345 p.; 12 hours and 9 minutes

Description: Former Army MP Mercy Carr and her retired bomb-sniffing dog Elvis are back in Blind Search, the sequel to the page-turning, critically acclaimed A Borrowing of Bones.

It’s October, hunting season in the Green Mountains—and the Vermont wilderness has never been more beautiful or more dangerous. Especially for nine-year-old Henry, who’s lost in the woods. Again. Only this time he sees something terrible. When a young woman is found shot through the heart with a fatal arrow, Mercy thinks that something is murder. But Henry, a math genius whose autism often silences him when he should speak up most, is not talking.

Now there’s a murderer hiding among the hunters in the forest—and Mercy and Elvis must team up with their crime-solving friends, game warden Troy Warner and search-and-rescue dog Susie Bear, to find the killer—before the killer finds Henry. When an early season blizzard hits the mountains, cutting them off from the rest of the world, the race is on to solve the crime, apprehend the murderer, and keep the boy safe until the snowplows get through.

Inspired by the true search-and-rescue case of an autistic boy who got lost in the Vermont wilderness, Paula Munier's mystery is a compelling roller coaster ride through the worst of winter—and human nature.

My Thoughts: The second Mercy Carr and Elvis mystery takes place in the Fall in the lovely state of Vermont. It's hunting season and only a fool goes out into the woods without orange clothing. When Mercy heads off in the woods after Elvis takes off when retrieving arrows, Mercy doesn't follow until she kits out and grabs Elvis's orange vest.

She finds Elvis with billionaire Daniel Feinberg's hunting party where they have treed a bear with the aid of an elkhound pack. Then Elvis and the elkhounds take off and the next thing they find is a young woman who has been shot in the heart with an arrow. It turns out that she was one of Feinberg's guests who hadn't yet arrived when the hunters went out. 

Mercy doesn't think that the death was a hunting accident, but there are a number of possible explanations. It seems the Vermont woods are filled with poachers, gun runners, and drug runners. But that doesn't mean that she isn't going to look into the lives of Feinberg's guests to see if any of them had a reason to want the young woman dead.  

Mercy teams up with Forest Ranger Troy Warner and his dog Suzie Bear to look into the murder despite being told to back off by Detective Harrington. They do have a witness who might have relevant information, but Henry is nine, autistic, and nearly nonverbal.

But someone saw Henry and wants to eliminate the possibility that he will share what he saw. Mercy and Elvis are determined to keep Henry safe from all hazards. 

I liked the growing relationship between Mercy and Troy except Troy isn't as divorced as Mercy thinks he is. I also liked Mercy's relationship with her dog Elvis which is changing as they both ger over the death of Mercy's fiance who was also Elvis's handler. They are becoming quite a team.

This was a fun story for fans of cozy mysteries that also have dogs with big personalities. 

Favorite Quote:
Funny how grief waxed and waned. It faded away until you thought you were safe and then a random word, sound, gesture brought you right back to the brink again.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

ARC Review: For the Love of the Bard by Jessica Martin

For the Love of the Bard

Jessica Martin
Publication: Berkley (June 28, 2022)

Description: To go for it or not to go for it? That is the question when two former high school flames return to their Shakespeare-obsessed hometown for a summer of theater and unexpected romance, in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author Jessica Martin.

Literary agent and writer Miranda Barnes rolls into her hometown of Bard’s Rest with one goal in mind: to spend the summer finally finishing her YA novel, the next installment in her bestselling fantasy series. Yet Miranda’s mother, deep in the planning stages for the centennial of the town’s beloved annual Shakespeare festival, has other ideas.

Before you can say “all’s fair in love and war,” Miranda is cornered into directing Twelfth Night—while simultaneously scrambling to finish her book, navigating a family health scare, and doing her best to avoid the guy who broke her heart on prom night.

When it comes to Adam, the veterinarian with a talent for set design and an infuriating knack for winning over Miranda’s dog, the lady doth protest too much. As any Shakespeare lovers knows, the course of true love never did run smooth, and soon Miranda realizes she’ll have to decide whether to trust Adam with her heart again.

My Thoughts: This story was a great romance from a debut author. Miranda Barnes is an author of a very popular YA fantasy series who is having trouble writing the next book. She goes home for the summer to Bard's Rest - a town obsessed with Shakespeare - to try to recapture her writing mojo. 

However, there are many distractions. Her mother who is directing the annual festival has discovered a lump on her breast and seems more interested in the fate of the festival than her own health which greatly disturbs her husband and three daughters. When Miranda offers to help lighten her mother's load, she finds herself directing a production of Twelfth Night and trying to stay away from the handsome veterinarian/set designer who broke her heart when she was in high school. 

Adam Winters is back in town running his father's veterinary clinic while his father recovers from a heart attack and surgery. He very much wants to have another chance with Miranda if she can be convinced that he is a changed man who can be trusted with her heart. 

The story has great dialog and a fascinating setting. I loved the family relationships and the rekindled romance between Miranda and Adam. There are even great pets since Miranda has a rescue dog named Puck who is an "indiscriminate eater", and Adam has a rescue pig named Lucille. 

I can't wait for more from this fresh new voice.

Favorite Quote:
"Everything okay at home?"

I shrugged. "Your guess is as good as mine. Cordy's definition of an emergency runs the gamut from 'there's a fluctuation in responsibly sourced cacao prices' to 'I burned down the bakery for the insurance money.'"
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

ARC Review: The Lost by Jeffrey B. Burton

The Lost

Jeffrey B. Burton
Series: Mace Reid K-9 Mystery (Book 3)
Publication: Minotaur Books (June 28, 2022)

Description: The Lost is the next mystery from author Jeffrey B. Burton starring an extraordinary cadaver dog and her handler.

Glencoe, Illinois:
A home invasion turned kidnapping at the mansion of billionaire financier Kenneth J. Druckman brings Mason “Mace” Reid and his cadaver dog, Vira, to this wealthy northern suburb of Chicago. Druckman was assaulted, left behind while his wife and young daughter were taken for ransom.

Brought to the scene by the FBI, Reid specializes in human remains detection, and Vira is the star of his pack of cadaver dogs he’s dubbed The Finders. After Vira finds the dead body of the mother, former supermodel Calley Kurtz, everyone is on high alert to find Druckman’s missing daughter before the five-year-old disappears forever. But the trail Vira finds on the property’s dense woodlands leads right back to Druckman himself.

With the help of Detective Kippy Gimm, Reid and Vira must race against the clock. Nothing is as it appears to be . . . and the red herrings could be lethal.

My Thoughts: Mace Reid and his cadaver dog, Vira, are called to the home of financier Kenneth J. Druckman by the FBI. Supposedly there was a home invasion, Druckman was beat up, jewels were stolen, and so were Druckman's supermodel wife and six-year-old daughter. Mace and Vira quickly find the murdered body of the wife and Vira indicates that Druckman is the guilty party. But young Eleanor is still missing.

This leaves Mace and his girlfriend Kippy, Chicago homicide's new darling, to find the missing girl. But things are complicated and more people than Druckman are lying.

The story is told from multiple viewpoints including those of a few of the villains of the story. When all is untangled, we have a story of greed financial chicanery including Ponzi schemes, the Russian mobs, and a mysterious financial mogul who isn't going to allow himself to be cheated. 

Along the way we have great scenes with Mace, Kippy, and his assorted dogs. I loved Mace's voice as he narrated is sections of the story. 

Fans of the series will enjoy this third adventure. 

Favorite Quote:
Kippy found herself cast as the fashionable cosmetic concealer used to mask over CPD's black eye.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Book & Audio Review: Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg

Lost Hills

Lee Goldberg
Narrator: Nicol Zanzarella
Series: Eve Ronin (Book 1)
Publication: Thomas & Mercer (January 1, 2020); Brilliance Audio (January 1, 2020)
Length: 241 p.; 6 hours and 41 minutes

Description: A video of Deputy Eve Ronin’s off-duty arrest of an abusive movie star goes viral, turning her into a popular hero at a time when the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is plagued by scandal. The sheriff, desperate for more positive press, makes Eve the youngest female homicide detective in the department’s history.

Now Eve, with a lot to learn and resented by her colleagues, has to justify her new badge. Her chance comes when she and her burned-out, soon-to-retire partner are called to the blood-splattered home of a missing single mother and her two kids. The horrific carnage screams multiple murder—but there are no corpses.

Eve has to rely on her instincts and tenacity to find the bodies and capture the vicious killer, all while battling her own insecurities and mounting pressure from the media, her bosses, and the bereaved family. It’s a deadly ordeal that will either prove her skills…or totally destroy her.

My Thoughts: The first Eve Ronin thriller is an action-packed story. Eve has parlayed a viral video of her taking down an action movie star into a position in robbery-homicide for the Las Angeles Sheriff's Department. She been partnered with Duncan Pavone who is 163 days from retirement.

Their first case together takes them to an isolated house in Topanga Canyon where they find lots and lots of blood but no bodies. A woman and her two children were likely slaughtered in the house, but no bodies have been found. When the obvious suspects - the live-in boyfriend and ex-husband - are alibied, the case looks like it has hit a dead end. 

The LASD is already reeling from scandal at one of the jails and needs their new, bright poster girl to solve the crime and change the media's focus. Eve feels great pressure to prove that her new job wasn't only a publicity stunt and to prove to herself that she is up to the challenge.

A new suspect is identified, and all the clues lead to a certainty that he was involved. However, the evidence is circumstantial and not conclusive. Eve needs to find the bodies. 

I enjoyed the setting. Southern California with its connection to the entertainment industry and tendency to wildfires makes a great background. Eve, whose mother has made a career out of being an "extra", thinks Eve should capitalize on the publicity she's receiving to further her own career. After having her childhood disrupted by her mother's ambitions, Eve has no desire to pursue such a career. 

I liked the characters, especially Eve, and liked the way the tension of the story kept ramping up to a fiery conclusion. Nicol Zanzarella's narration did a fine job with the characters and the building suspense. 

Favorite Quote:
"Most crimes have a Walmart connection," Duncan said. 

"It's like six degrees of separation," Garvey said. "Only with Walmart."

"Almost never fails," Duncan said and went to his cubicle. "That's why I have Walmart's regional supervisor on my speed dial."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

ARC Review: Red on the River by Christine Feehan

Red on the River

Author: Christine Feehan
Publication: Berkley (June 28, 2022)

Description: #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan goes all in with this sexy romantic thriller set among the dangers—both man-made and natural—of Nevada’s breathtaking landscape.

Vienna Mortenson isn’t your typical gambler. She prefers to stay under the radar, using her poker winnings to support her family and her community, including the local search and rescue team, which she heads up. Out in the backcountry there’s no time for hesitation when lives are on the line. Vienna prides herself on being tough and decisive. She’s not the sort to make a fool of herself over a guy, especially one who left her high and dry without a backward glance.

Zale Vizzini’s job constantly puts him in harm’s way. Working undercover and disappearing for months at a time isn’t exactly a recipe for a stable relationship. Despite the challenges and the risks, Zale wants something real with Vienna. He just needed time to figure out how to be in her life without putting her in danger. Now, he’s determined to win her back, and he’s ready to lay all his cards on the table.
As their friends’ wedding approaches, Zale takes advantage of the festivities to make a play for Vienna’s heart. But there are more deadly forces waiting to strike in the rugged terrain of Nevada and the western Sierras. Soon both of their lives are threatened, and the odds are stacked against them....

My Thoughts: While not listed as part of a series, RED ON THE RIVER stars many of the same characters as the author's recent MURDER AT SUNRISE LAKE. This time the band of fast friends are getting ready to celebrate Stella's wedding by taking part in lots of outdoor adventures that are on her wishlist. But first, Vienna Mortenson is scheduled to play in a big poker tournament in Las Vegas.

Vienna Mortenson is a surgical nurse, head of her county's search and rescue, beautiful and brilliant and has a psychic gift that lets her see what cards her opponents have which makes it easy for her to win big bucks at poker. She usually plays online using the money to support her hospital and the local search and rescue efforts along with building her own retirement nest egg. 

Zale Vizzini met Vienna during the first case and then they had a six-week romance while spending time camping. Then he disappeared back to his secret life as an undercover operative breaking Vienna's heart. Now he's back investigating in the same hotel where Vienna is and wants to get back together. But he's keeping secrets which doesn't incline Vienna to want to take a second chance on him.

However, as Vienna becomes the target of someone who wants her dead, she needs to depend on Zale and her girl pack to survive. 

It isn't often that one reads a romantic suspense title with a glossary, but this story had two. First of all, there were rather complete depictions of the Texas Hold Em tournament games with its required vocabulary. Second, the specific vocabulary of rock climbing was used when the girls began their outdoor adventures for stella's pre-wedding adventures. 

Fans of Feehan's work with likely enjoy this story despite the fact that the girl pack is all filled with larger-than-life characters - beautiful, brilliant, talented in many ways but with secrets that give them a hint of vulnerability. I also had a little problem with Vienna's psychic gift. While I could accept her gift in face-to-face poker games, I had more trouble believing that her talent as described would work in an online environment. Suspend disbelief and read this one for the adventure and for the romance. 

Favorite Quote:
"This is going to be interesting, the two of us navigating our way together, since neither of us know what a good relationship is. We'll just have to make our own rules."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, June 20, 2022

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (June 20, 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...

I still haven't turned on the air conditioning. The heat we were supposed to have last week was kept at bay due to winds off "the world's biggest air conditioner" otherwise known as Lake Superior. A standard phrase as a part of our local weather forecasts is "cooler by the lake." I think we got to 75 degrees F (24 degrees C) very briefly one day. Otherwise, temperatures were in the 60s (15-20 degrees C). We may not be as lucky this coming week. 90s (32 degrees C or higher) are being forecast. 

I finally gave in and went to Urgent Care about my long-lasting cough. I came home with a tentative diagnosis of bronchitis and prescriptions for antibiotics, strong cough drops, an inhaler, and Flonase. I also got instructions to come in again if I'm not better in a week to ten days. I guess they weren't happy that I let this linger for a few months.

My brother will be off work this week since he was encouraged to use some of his banked vacation days. He doesn't have any plans, but I hope he'll try out a couple of new recipes. In addition to rest and taking prescribed drugs, my plans include the usual reading, listening, and watching Braves baseball.

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.)
  • For the Love of the Bard by Jessica Martin (Review; June 28) -- Entertaining contemporary romance with interesting characters and a wonderful setting. My review will be posted on June 23.
  • Neogenesis by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller (Audiobook Reread)
  • Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg (Mine; Audiobook) -- This contemporary thriller was entertaining. I enjoyed the main character and thought the mystery was well done. My review will be posted on June 21.
  • The Hidden One by Linda Castillo (Review; July 5) -- Another excellent entry in the Kate Burkholder mystery series. My review will be posted on June 29.
  • The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston (Review; June 28) -- Entertaining paranormal contemporary romance. My review will be posted on June 28.
  • Oath Sworn by K. N. Banet (Mine; Audiobook) -- Engaging start to an urban fantasy series with great worldbuilding and interesting characters. My review will be posted on June 28.
  • Holy Chow by David Rosenfelt (Review; July 5) -- Another entertaining entry into the Andy Carpenter series. My review will be posted on June 30.
  • Accepting the Lance by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller (Audiobook Reread)
Next Week
Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

What was your week like?