Tag Archives: Book Reviews

Magic for Liars – Book Review

Published Date: June 4, 2019

Publishing Co.: Tor

Pages: 336

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I received this copy from the publisher via Netgalley in an exchange for an honest review.

Ivy Gamble is a small time private investigator who deals with mostly, disability fraud and spouse cheating cases. Today, however, the local school of magic has approached her to investigate the death of a teacher, first ruled an accident. The principle of the school suspects that it was actually murder, and she can’t sleep until she gets a second opinion.

Ivy need the money, and the notoriety. The problem is, she’ll have to confront her estranged sister. The sister she’s been jealous of for a lifetime, for getting to be magic while Ivy was just ordinary. It’s not just her sister she’ll have to contend with though, it’s a whole league of people she doesn’t know how to interact with. People born to magic, who use it for such trivial reasons. She’ll have to manage her anger, on top of solving her first murder case.

Sarah Gailey’s strength is definitely in characters and their development. Ivy’s internal struggles are deeply relateable. Her interactions with people she’s uncomfortable with, and her attempts to hide her own magic inability, make for a fascinating look into the human psyche. The plot was fairly straightforward for a murder mystery. Gailey dabbles with a couple of red herrings but in all honestly, I had the mystery figured out far before our awkward PI did.

I’m left wondering, does Rahul give her a chance to explain? We’ll never know though as this is a stand alone novel. Some mysteries never get solved.

Advertisements

My Life Among the Underdogs: A Memoir – Book Review

Published Date: January 15, 2019

Publishing Co.: William Morrow

Pages: 245

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My mission is to rescue. My hope is that one day I won’t have to.”

If you’ve heard that quote before, there’s a good chance that you’re a fan of Animal Planet’s Pit Bulls & Parolees. This memoir belongs to the feisty, red-headed woman who started Villabos Rescue Center, first rescuing wolves and wolf hybrids, then turning to one of the dog’s with the baddest reputations, the American Pit Bull Terrier. Currently, the rescue houses close to 400 dogs of all breeds and employs parolees to help with all of the work. It takes one tough person to hold all of that together.

In My Life Among the Underdogs, we get a peek into Tia’s life before starting the rescue. First, being raised a cowgirl by her stepmother who taught her to depend on no one else, to a drifting young adult, to an exotic animal trainer, to a dog trainer for Hollywood, then to rescuing full time. All of this while giving birth to and raising two beautiful daughters, who would become strong, independent and compassionate just like their mother.

We also learn the life stories of some of the top dogs of Tia’s life. These chapters were both uplifting and heartbreaking. You learn about these wonderful, resilient creatures and all they taught both Tia and humanity and then, you hear about their passing. How can that not tug at your heart? If you’ve had a dog, you’re probably all too familiar with that pain, so it’s impossible not to relate.

There are not too many people in this world that I truly idolize but, Tia Torres is one of the them. Life spent rescuing animals is hard, I’ve dabbled in it myself, no where near the size that Tia has. While rewarding, at times it can be absolutely soul crushing. You have to look the worst of humanity in the eye, not engage to the best of your ability and just get the poor, tortured animal the fuck out of dodge. It’s a hard thing to dedicate your life to. Animal rescue workers are more prone to depression and suicide, and it’s understandable.

I hope to see more memoirs from Tia Torres or anyone on her rescue crew. It helps bring more people into the rescue fold, even if it’s adopting instead of shopping, every changed mind is progress and we still have a long ways to go.

My one complaint, and I don’t think I’ve said this since I was little, is that there are no pictures! I mean, I want one million dog pictures, but if there could have just have been ten or so, that would have been great. I loved hearing about these amazing dogs but I would have also really liked to see their cute little faces.

Knight’s Shadow (Greatcoats #2) – Book Review

Published Date: June 2, 2015

Publishing Co.: Jo Fletcher Books

Pages: 592

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My review of Traitor’s Blade (Greatcoat’s #2).

There is a reason that this is referred to as swash-buckling fun, it is that, but it’s also so much more.

Knight’s Shadow begins to take a darker turn. We return to the crew with Falcio paralyzed from neatha poisoning. Each morning, the paralysis takes longer and longer to go away, all the while they’re surrounded by enemies. All the while, Falcio is slowly dying. That is the end he sees coming every morning he wakes and cannot move, cannot speak, can hardly breath. If it weren’t for his friends standing guard over his body at night, his enemies could slip in and easily finish the legendary Greatcoat.

The mission begins the same, to put Aline on the throne, but they’ve underestimated the game. There is a secret third player playing havoc with their plans. One moment they’re gaining ground, the next they’re knocked down two pegs and are fighting for their lives once again. The hits keep coming, but how much can one group of people take?

This novel ended up being so much more than I had expected, and to get too detailed would be to ruin the many excellent turns of plot. There were several moments where I was left simply with goosebumps and I was nothing but a fiend that had to continue to find out what happened next.

This easily climbs to the top of my favorite fantasy series list.

The Knife Man: Blood, Body Snatching, and the Birth of Modern Surgery – Book Review

Published Date: September 12, 2006

Publishing Co.: Broadway Books

Pages: 324

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

You know you’ve worked in the medical field for awhile when you can read about gonorrhea and syphilis on your lunch without losing your appetite. Some people may count that as a negative, I count it as a positive. It takes a hell of a lot to ruin my lunch.

For myself, this was very much a one chapter at a time read. There is nothing wrong with it, it’s not even too text book like in any matter. The stories are fairly fascinating and John Hunter was a character, there just wasn’t the pull to dig in deep and not let up until I was finished. Perhaps in true Hunterian fashion, I had to contemplate the works and dissect the knowledge at my own pace.

John Hunter had a thirst for knowledge that could hardly be quenched. From his early days, until his last, he needed to know more about how the world worked. About anatomy, about evolution (though it wasn’t dared called that back then), and disease states. His approach to science greatly influenced the scientific method that we know today. He began to change how wounds were treated, depending less on blood letting and more on experimentation to find a better way. He improved surgical methods.

While he had many admirers, he had just as many enemies who did not like him challenging the accepted way to practice medicine. This almost never slowed him down though. He pushed boundaries that led to many advancements. He also had a few theories that ended up slowing down progress on other things, for example, he conducted an experiment to prove that gonorrhea and syphilis were essentially the same disease. There was a flaw in his method that he never did find out about, as we know today that they are not the same disease.

There are so many things that this one man is responsible for influencing in both science and medicine, that I could go on for pages. Instead, if you’re interested, go pick up this book. It will educate you far more than I would ever be able to. He was a revolutionary and a rebel, and you know how much I like rebels.

Warning: lots of animal torture.

“Hunter had died, as he had lived, in rebellion, speaking his mind.”

Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad #1) – Book Review

Published Date: September 12, 2017

Publishing Co.: Crown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 384

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

It’s my theory that if you’ve ever said the words, “Money doesn’t buy happiness,” then you’ve never been dirt-fucking-poor. Money can buy a lot of happiness. Maybe not all the happiness in the world but trust me, it takes a major weight off of your shoulders and puts you on the path to achieving what does makes you happy.

The Babel Corporation has selected poor teenagers from all over the world to compete for amounts of money they never imagined by going first to space, then onto a new planet. The trick is, they have to survive rigorous training and score high enough through these competitions to make it down to Eden, a planet inhabited by lifeforms known as Adamites, who like human kids but not so much the adults. The teenagers may still encounter trouble while down on the planet, mining a precious resource called Nyxia, the real goal for Babel.

Emmett Atwater was plucked from Detroit. Poor, dying mother with shit insurance, and a father working himself to the bone trying to make ends meet while raising a son and being the support of an ailing wife. When Emmett is offered a chance to make all right for his family, he doesn’t hesitate. All his other competitors are enemies, standing in the way of his goal. Until, a couple sneak behind his wall and make themselves friends instead of only competition.

Almost all of the kids know that Babel Corporation is much more sinister than their outward appearances, but with that kind of money and healthcare for family on the line, you can over look a lot.

This was a fair start to a YA science fiction trilogy. I think the part that will interest me the most will come in book two. Although, I’m not running off to pick up the next book. Time will tell if I continue the series.

Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson #10) – Book Review

Published Date: March 7, 2017

Publishing Co.: Ace Books

Pages: 371

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Several things happen at my house when I have a Mercy Thompson novel to read; dogs are taken out to do their business, the husband is shunned to the basement for video games, I shower and get into pajamas. Then it’s time to read undisturbed for as long as possible. Either it’s read in one sitting or two, this time it was two because I read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.

We enter on a fun pack video game night, Mercy’s game character has died so it’s time to bake some cookies. But alas, some of the most important ingredients are missing so she has to run up to the store. That’s when she’s abruptly kidnapped and carted off half way across the world by one of the world’s most dangerous players. Her bond to the pack has been cut off and she’s one her own with no one to back her up. She has no money and doesn’t speak the languages she hears.

The kidnapper is not being honest about why he took her and she’s been taught by Charles to escape at the first chance you have, so she uses her coyote wiles and does just that. She’s racing across Europe evading capture and searching for allies while Adam and friends race to meet this mysterious man and negotiate her release, not knowing that she’s already escaped his clutches.

Adam is barely keeping his wolf under control while he attempts to play nice with the monster that took his wife. Luckily, he’s brought along people that can help him be diplomatic when it’s the last thing on his mind. It’s going to take three werewolves, two vampires, and two goblins for cooler heads to prevail and rescue their favorite troublesome coyote.

In this case, besides the usual things I love about the series, I very much enjoyed the historical research and mythology of the Czech Republic. It’s not a history I’m familiar with so I really liked learning something new intertwined with everything else I enjoy about this world Briggs created.

Chasing Graves (Chasing Graves #1) – Book Review

Published Date: December 7, 2018

Publishing Co.: Bengalley.com (self-published)

Pages: 301

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

You call me Krass as an insult and yet you forget what that means to me. Our mothers don’t push when we’re ready to meet the world. We have to claw our way out, so we’re born fighting.”

There is supposed to be peace in death. Not in the city of Araxes. Your death is only beginning when you die here. Souls are bound and forced into indenturement, the pretty word for slavery. Living in such a city is cut throat, you either rise to power or die and make someone else more powerful, because in this city, the more shades you own, the more powerful you become. Thus, murder is a rampant way of life. There is money to be made in the selling of ghosts and there are rules about such things, but the whole city pretty much just flips a big middle finger to that.

Caltro Basalt arrives to the city in hopes of a lucrative lock picking job and is promptly murdered just minutes after stepping off the boat. However, Caltro won’t go quietly into servitude. He’ll bide his time and plot his freedom and revenge.

Nilith travels the desert, dragging her husband’s corpse to the city in order to bind him. Not out of love. His ghosts dogs her footsteps, bitching every step of the way.

Sisine is the Emperor’s daughter. The emperor has sealed himself away in the room he calls The Sanctuary as he doesn’t trust anyone not to kill him. Which is a valid worry as Sisine is desperately seeking more power and the seat he sits on.

I choose this book randomly while in a funk. I strayed from my TBR list and browsed ebooks, finally settling on this. I hadn’t heard much about it, there are pretty of glowing reviews, and I just wanted something I wasn’t expecting much from. I loved the concept and enjoyed my reading while never really falling in love with it. The ending isn’t exactly a cliffhanger so there are plenty of unanswered questions and much more to the story. Maybe one day I’ll pick up the next book and find out but currently, I’m not rushing to get it. I still think it’s a promising series.

The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride – Book Review

Published Date: April 28, 2009

Publishing Co.: William Morrow

Pages: 352

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A saga that has fascinated people since the late-1840s.

Author Daniel James Brown does a fantastic job of weaving the tale of the doomed emigrant party that we’ve all heard of at some point in our lives. The tale of a group of early Americans, who with big dreams, traveled the wrong path to glorious California and became stuck in the Sierra Nevada mountains as winter hit. Eventually, almost all of them, would have to eat their fallen friends in order to survive.

Brown not only brings light to the every day trials they faced before becoming entangled in Mother Nature’s snare but also highlights the science behind the way people behave in horrific situations, and how the human body handles things like starvation and hypothermia. He paints a brilliant picture of life during this time period before tragedy struck and how the survivors tried to rebuild their lives after.

This has been so thoroughly researched that you’re bound to hear some new tidbits to an old story. The narrative doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects. For instance, one mother boiled ox hide until it became a gelatinous goo to feed her children. Not much for flavor but apparently nutritious. Some members of the camp would boil and re-boil ox bones until they were soft and chewy.

While it is a bleak tale, it is also one of the stubbornness of the human spirit and the adamant will to live.

But, I also wonder why they didn’t start eating the flesh of dead people sooner. I can only imagine the mind set one must get to before they can actually consume human flesh, but there were a few bodies that weren’t touched at all in the beginning even though they had already run out of meat. It feels as though perhaps, a few more people could have survived if they had come to terms with their impending cannibalism sooner.

Just some food for thought.

Get it?

I’ll show myself out.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Book Review

Published Date: July 31, 2016

Publishing Co.: Little Brown

Pages: 343

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

A Friday night well spent. (Yeah, I party hard. Who’s asking?)

Nineteen years after the ending of the original Harry Potter series, we’re thrust back in with our favorite characters, all still friends, all struggling at being parents. A new, or perhaps not so new, darkness is rising and this time, the new kids on the block are the ones fighting it. (Dating myself with that reference.)

I’ve never read a play before that wasn’t Shakespeare. (I’m cultured now.) For most of the story, I forgot that I was reading a play and not one of my favored books. Despite lacking the usual detail of a novel, I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I liked seeing Ron, Hermione, Harry and Ginny as parents and seeing how their children turned out. I have to say that I’m more than a bit disappointed in Rose Granger-Weasley, bit of a twat that one.

A quick and easy dose of the Potter-verse.

Uncanny Collateral (Valkyrie Collections #1) – Book Review

Publishing Date: April 2, 2019

Publishing Co.: Self published (I believe)

Pages: 151

Goodreads Synopsis.

Rating: 4 out 5 stars

I received this ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Uncanny Collateral is a solid edition to a promising new Urban fantasy series that skips out on all the mundane details to bring you fast-paced action and entertaining characters.

I have already been seeing a lot of comparisons of this with the Dresden Files and I think that happens almost by default just because it’s urban fantasy and the main character is male instead of female. There may be some very small similarities but the glaring one is that this one contains a lead that is lacking that highly annoying ‘white knight syndrome’ that plagues the other series. That alone makes this story feel like a giant sigh of relief.

When someone sells their soul, a bargain is struck. Fame for your soul. Money for your soul. Love for your soul. Whatever the bargain, eventually you have to pay your part of the deal. Sometimes people try to weasel their way out of the deal and that’s where Alek comes in. He’s a reaper. He collects souls. He’s half troll, half human and a slave to a collection agency that bought him at birth. His only friend is the djinn trapped in the ring on his finger and his current case has Death himself as his client. Someone is stealing souls from Death, an imp war is brewing and somehow Alek finds himself in the middle of both.

I was pleasantly surprised by just how into this I was right from the beginning. Alek is an engaging character, in a well-built urban fantasy world that is action packed with an original story line. I could have easily sat and read this all in one sitting if it wasn’t for things like work and sleep getting in the way.