Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Rise & Fall of Great PowersThe Rise & Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Contemporary Fiction




So when I first saw this book on Edelweiss I was thinking "Hooray another book about books!", not the case this is not another The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin and though I did enjoy the book the confusion about what the book is actually about irritated me to no end thus affecting my review of it. That said this review is not going to be like my regular reviews because I just cannot bear to summarize this book with the mood I have been in lately. Writer's Block BIG TIME. So here goes.

I found this book to be less than what many critics and big time reviewers led me to believe, it is not the great American novel which in the future will be a classic. No, all lies. The book was just okay and it was very confusing and yes you get it in the end but did we really have to go through all those mazes lost and confused just to get to an ending like that. Come on now.

The characters are uber eccentric and were only somewhat relatable I did find some piqued interest because of their personalities but that I couldn't relate to them hardly at all I just felt a huge distance between me and the book, this disconnected for want of a better term.

I did enjoy the story, which I know is a little hard to believe after my rant above but it was just "eehh", not love nor hate.

Thanks for coming by,
Amy

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

The QuickThe Quick by Lauren Owen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Historical Fiction





Given the sprint reading course that I have been on lately I was a little intimidated by the bulk of this book 544 pages is not something to blink an eye at but a gothic Victorian London and vampires is just to hard for this girl to resist. It is like my favorite genres meshed into one glorious book!

So James and Charlotte Norbury, brother and sister, grow up in the family home, Aiskew Hall, with each other as the others only companion. There are some servants of course but since their mother's death their father doesn't ever come home to see his children and seems even to bothered to take care of their welfare. But they have each other and they make due the best that they can. Then one day their father comes home but only because he is deathly ill and whilst the kids are playing the children are finally allowed to see their father but only Charlotte does because while they were playing James went into the hidden priest hole in the library and so as not to get in trouble Charlotte left him in there and went to see their father alone. After leaving her father's side Charlotte noticed that Mrs. Chickering, her aunt, Mrs. Rowley, the housekeeper, and the doctor all went into the library where James was still locked in the hidden priest hole unbeknownst to the adults they were actually informing James of his father's death in the most unpleasant way. What a horrible way to find out your father is dead and that you missed the chance to see him, would you blame your sister for it? James doesn't seem to but Charlotte fears it but by then it doesn't seem to matter because they are soon forced apart, James to school and Charlotte to live with their aunt, Mrs. Chickering.

Time soon passes rather quickly and in the case of this book a turn of the page burns through years of James and Charlotte's lives. James is in his final term at Oxford and is getting ready to take London by storm deciding upon writing as a profession since he is rich enough already to be able to do what he loves even though the pay is dismal. James soon finds himself sharing a suite of rooms with Christopher Paige and a friendship of note ensues but then something more seems to grow there and that is just not something you do in Victorian London. Confronted by Eustace, Paige's brother, about their relationship, James wants to end it but Paige would rather run away together than lose James or let Eustace tell him how to live his life. But tragedy strikes first leaving Paige dead and James a creature of the night.

After not hearing from James after the death of their aunt, Charlotte sets out for London to discover what has become of her brother and finds that thanks to the Aegolius Club her brother is now a vampire. Both Charlotte and James meet both regular people and vampires along the way who help them escape the clutches of the Aegolius Club. A lot of action ensues and they are able to escape London and return to their ancestral home where Charlotte seals James into the priest hole in the family library as she sets off to find a cure for her brother. Always searching Charlotte ages as her brother stays hidden in the priest hole looking just like when she sealed him in there but when Charlotte dies her husband goes to free James only to find the priest hole empty!

I found the writing gripping the kind that bounds you to the page having to know what is next, there were a few parts that I thought what the "...." but this book is quite a large undertaking for a first novel so I choose to forgive those parts.

Thanks for coming by,
Amy

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Midnight Crossroad (Midnight, Texas, #1)Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris (Midnight, Texas #1)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal/Mystery



Manfred Bernardo just moved to Midnight Texas, what appears to be just a normal washed up town with only one working traffic light is really the place where the weirdest things occur and some of the scariest creatures call home, but Manfred has not considered himself "normal" for a very long time anyway so he thinks he might just fit in.

There are many "interesting" characters living in Midnight, so here is a little run down:
1.) Manfred Bernardo, is Midnight's newest resident and is also a psychic.

2.) Fiji Cavanaugh, lives across the street from Bernardo, and is a witch. Her unusual cat, Mr. Snuggly lives with her (you will find out that Mr. Snuggly is hiding quite the secret from everyone).

3.) Bobo Winthrop, owns the local pawn shop, plus he rents out quite a few properties around town, including the place Manfred is renting out.

4.) Olivia Charity & Lemuel. Both rent out apartments from Bobo and even though they are in some sort of sexual relationship together they do not live together they just live across from each other, weird. So Lemuel is a vampire, he drinks blood but he doesn't have to because apparently he can also drink a person's energy. Olivia I don't think is anything supernatural but she is definitely a kick butt type of girl.

5.) Madonna, Teacher, and Grady. Madonna owns and operates the only restaurant, Home Cookin', in town. Her and Teacher are married and he is the general handyman around town and also picks up a shit or two at the pawn shop and the gas station. Grady is their 8 month old son.

6.) Joe & Chuy. Midnight's only homesexual couple they each run a section of the Antique Gallery and Nail Salon, one restores furniture the other does nails. They also have a dog, Rasta, who is not harboring a secret live Mr. Snuggly but they still hate each other.

7.) The Lovell's, Shawn, Creek, and Connor. Shawn is the owner/operator of the Gas n' Go which is the only gas station in Midnight which is okay because it only needs one. Creek and Connor are Shawn's kids. You can just tell the whole way through the book that there is just something off with this family.

8.) And last but certainly not least is the Reverend Sheehan, a man of few words but when he does talk you can bet it is important so you better listen up. I think Rev. Sheehan is harboring a secret like Mr. Snuggly only that the Reverend's secret is much, much bigger, guess I will have to wait till book #2 comes out to see if we get let in on that little secret or if we will have to wait for the last book, book #3.


Okay so now that we get who the main players are let's move on to what happens...

So a two months before Manfred moved to Midnight Bobo's girlfriend Aubrey went missing and while out on a town picnic Fiji stumbles upon a decomposing corpse and with only one person missing from town it is not hard to summarize who it is.

Once the sheriff starts to investigate Aubrey's death the news that Aubrey was not exactly who she said she was is hard for Bobo and some of the other residents to handle but when Aubrey and Bobo's past, way, way back before they even met each other comes to light it because even tougher, was Aubrey there as a spy for the white supremacist group, the Men of Liberty? And if so what did she want with Bobo? Is anybody really who they say they are?

I love Charlaine Harris so it was no surprise that I love Midnight Crossroad because it is classic Harris storytelling. She really knows how to set a scene and her attention for detail is amazing, seriously I could go into some of these places and find things because she lays them out so descriptively in her books you feel like you are there. And of course I don't think you could ever find a dull character or a boring story line in any of Charlaine Harris's books. Midnight Crossroads is not your average "supernatural" story so don't be expecting to read one!

Thanks for coming by,
Amy

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Good Suicides (Inspector Salgado #2)The Good Suicides by Antonio Hill (Inspector Salgado #2)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Crime




Scary looking dog on the cover freaked me out every time my eyes happened to fall upon it. Talk about how a book's cover can effect how you feel about the book and this one sets a menacing tone to go along with the inside contents, yes I was actually freaked about what was going to be inside before I even opened the book up. Aaahh, the power of a book's cover!

Okay so onto The Good Suicides...
The book picks up almost a year after the end of the last book in this series, The Summer of Dead Toys, and follows two different story lines; one of the stories revolves around Inspector Salgado and the batches of suicides he is investigating and the other story revolves around Leire, who was Inspector Salgado's partner in the last book but who is now on maternity leave and who is on her own time secretly investigating the disappearance of Ruth, Salgado's ex-wife, which happened at the end of the last book. Sorry about that spoiler if you haven't read the first book in the series yet! I made that bold so maybe if you don't want a surprise about the first one yet because you haven't read it then maybe you could just skip this part entirely! So Leire is very pregnant and is putting herself and her unborn child at a great risk by investigating Ruth's disappearance but she feels so compelled to do it she can't seem to talk herself out of it even though she knows deep down it would be better for her just to let it go and rest as much as possible before the baby is born. She finds out quite a lot of things about Ruth that Salgado probably doesn't even know and some of these secrets are not so good, like why would Ruth be seen on a videotape visiting the man that her ex-husband beat the crap out of and nearly lost his job who then wound up murder and decomposing in the apartment under Salgado's apartment in order to implicate that Salgado had something to do with said evil man's death? Very, very interesting!

So now that I covered Leire's part of the story here is Inspector Salgado's part...

The Alemany Cosmetics company's employees seem to be having a bit of bad luck lately, one went nuts and killed his wife, daughter and then himself; then another employee either jumped or was pushed on to some train tracks; then another was fed sleeping pills until she slept the eternal sleep. Seemingly random incidents but when you start compiling a list of all that these three have in common you have one weird "how it all happened". Just like with Antonio Hill's first book in this series I was blown away at the originality that his stories possess it is truly unlike any other books you will read in this genre. I didn't figure it out until Inspector Salgado's investigative efforts were laid out upon the page, which if you read a lot of my reviews you will see me complain that I know who did it before the solution is actually confirmed by the author and this is one thing that lowers my opinion of books like this but luckily the type of mystery Antonio Hill writes raises my opinion of his writing!
A must read if you love an unconventional mystery/thriller!

Thanks for coming by,
Amy

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Summer of Dead ToysThe Summer of Dead Toys by Antonio Hill (Inspector Salgado #1)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Crime



The reason I picked up this book at the library is because I received the second book in this series for review and the back of the second book was covered in praise for this book so I held off reading the book I got for review so that I could read this first.

Inspector Hector Salgado is in deep doo doo! Yep, I said doo doo, I'm trying to stop cussing so anyways, he physically assaulted a perp during an interrogation and had to take a bit of a vacation till the heat wore down a little bit but now he's back. But he still has to watch his back and his temper to avoid placing his job in even further jeopardy.

Not long after being back Salgado's boss Savall asks him to look into a case unofficially, here the boss and the victim's mom knew each other, and this rotates from an unofficial inquiry into a suicide/accident to a murder investigation. Did he really fall or was he pushed?

Like all good literary detectives Inspector Salgado manages to unravel the mystery behind what seemed to be a tragic accident but turns out to be so much more.

One of the best things that I found about this book is that this story is not your conventional crime/police novel there just seems to be this whole mass of events and people without a real huge hint towards the solution, which you normally find littered throughout much of this genre, at least in my opinion, this made the ending a shocker and who doesn't love to be surprised! Not all the book's content is about the crime either, the author lets you into Inspector Salgado's personal life to and the biggest cliffhanger of the story doesn't even involve the crime but instead has something to do personally with Salgado. The ending also makes quite the start for the second book in Antonio Hill's Inspector Salgado series, The Good Suicides, which I should have the review typed up and posted this week to!

All and all this was a spectacular read with only a few moments of long seemingly meaningless words in the form of paragraphs.

Thanks for coming by,
Amy

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Secret Lives of the Tsars: Three Centuries of Autocracy, Debauchery, Betrayal, Murder, and Madness from Romanov RussiaSecret Lives of the Tsars: Three Centuries of Autocracy, Debauchery, Betrayal, Murder, and Madness from Romanov Russia by Michael Farquhar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Non-Fiction/History


Michael Farquhar takes us back through history highlighting all the horrible and weird things that the Tsars of Russia were guilty of during their reigns. The book does discuss every ruler that the Russian people had during the three centuries of Romanov rule but I did find that Catherine the Great and Nicholas's (the last Russian tsar) rule made up most of the content of the book, going on for more than one chapter which is all that most of the other Tsars got. I did find this book a bit boring since I knew most of the information anyway due to my love of history but if you are unfamiliar with the lives of the Romanov Tsars then this book will be sure to entertain and enlighten you to all of the best "gossip" about the Tsars.

Thanks for stopping by,
Amy

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Sunday, July 06, 2014

The Skeleton Crew: How Amateur Sleuths Are Solving America’s Coldest CasesThe Skeleton Crew: How Amateur Sleuths Are Solving America’s Coldest Cases by Deborah Halber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Non-fiction/True Crime



Author Deborah Halber brings to the page tales of the volunteers that spend their lives hoping to give names to the thousands of unidentified dead that go unclaimed in the United States each year. These volunteers go over missing persons information and information complied by the medical examiners across the country looking for any clue that will help to match an unidentified body to that of a missing person case.

Halber interviews a few citizen volunteers that take this what seems to be macabre type hobby and shows you that these volunteers mean business and this is not some weird fascination with death but something that is important in the struggle to identify the unidentified and to help bring closure to those who have a missing family member that has yet to be identified waiting to be found and given their name back so that them may go home.

There are not tons and tons of success stories because the information given to these volunteers is of course limited and even when they do contact law enforcement they are often not taken seriously but the fact that there has been any success at all with such limited information really shows what these volunteers are made of. Using the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs, which is run by the U.S. Department of Justice and through web groups such as the Doe Network these volunteers have done what not many are willing to do.

I found this book interesting and even though it tackled a tough subject I didn't find the information contained in the book to be overly frightening, which translates to "I didn't have to sleep with my light on!"

Thanks for coming by,
Amy

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Saturday, July 05, 2014

Sorrow Bound (Aector McAvoy, #3)Sorrow Bound by David Mark (Inspector Aector McAvoy #3)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Crime 



DS Aector McAvoy is having a horrible day, the city is in the middle of an oppressive heat wave and he is stuck in his therapist's office that has no AC and windows that don't open, and worst of all he is happy when his phone rings even though he knows it can't be good news.

Next thing he knows he is standing over the corpse of Philippa Longman who had her chest caved in. Soon another body surfaces, then another, and still another till DS McAvoy is knee deep in dead bodies with only one thing connecting all of them together, Sebastien Hoyer-Wood. All these innocent dead people all helped to save Sebastien Hoyer-Wood's life. The unit that DS McAvoy belongs to is called the Serious and Organized Crime Unit and they were already investigating a local drug organization when the mass murderer got started so to say work was a bit stressful for DS McAvoy would be a bit of an understatement. Think things can't get worse well they can when those being investigated start targeting his family. Writing a crime novel where the same group is running two separate cases is never easy because there can be a lot of confusion between cases but for the most part the author keeps the information from both cases separate enough that you are not mixing people involved in one case into the other case. There were some what the "h..l" moments but for the most part I felt connected to the story and its characters. The novel twists and turns and in the end you are like no way because not till the end do you really know the truth.

Sorrow Bound is the 3rd novel in DS Aector McAvoy series and even though I read this as a stand alone read I did not feel that I missed out on any of the comings and goings in this novel just because I didn't read the first two novels. However, I will definitely be checking out Original Skin and The Dark Winter because after reading Sorrow Bound this feels like another great crime thriller series I could get into.

Thanks for coming by,
Amy

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Friday, July 04, 2014

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1)The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (Queen of the Tearling #1)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: YA Fantasy



Kelsea Raleigh Glynn is a princess but she is not your average princess. Raised by a couple, Carlin and Barty, while she was in hiding Kelsea is more the girl next door who loves to read then a princess in a castle trying on gowns and then buying them all because she couldn't decide which one she liked best.

It is Kelsea's nineteenth birthday and it is time to go back and ascend her throne where her Uncle currently sits as regent. Unwilling to give up the throne to a teenager Kelsea's Uncle and many others with lots to lose should Kelsea become queen conspire to make sure that the coronation doesn't happen. During this quickened coronation Kelsea is wounded but still gets confirmed showing everyone that she is just not some little girl who can pushed around that even with a knife in her back she will still stand as the queen. Even though Kelsea is now Queen Kelsea the blaggards won't relent and Kelsea and her guards must constantly be on their toes. Adventure abounds in this book as Queen Kelsea fights to stay alive while making drastic changes that while may be better for the Tearling now in the long run it could bring a fearsome enemy to their very doors. Magic can be found in Kelsea's two Tearling sapphire necklaces that when worn gives her a means to protect herself and can they can even show her what is to be.

Queen Kelsea of the Tearling has the power to change the lives of the Tearling for the better this is her chance to see herself and the great things that she is capable of. A female heroine that we can all relate to because even though she doubts herself sometimes and is insecure about her looks at the end of the day she does what needs to be done regardless of her self perceived shortcomings.

I loved, loved, loved this book, which is the first in a trilogy, and cannot wait to read the remaining books in this series when they come out!

Even though this books is not slated to come out for a few days yet it has already been acquired by Warner Bros. in conjunction with Harry Potter producer David Heyman. And guess what, one of our favorite bring the book to the big screen actresses is slated to play Kelsea is none other than Emma Watson!!!!! Apparently this has been in the works for awhile and I am just finding out about so excuse the excitement!

Thanks for coming by,
Amy

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Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Breakwater BayBreakwater Bay by Shelley Noble
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Chick-lit/Romance




Meri Hollis's life seems perfect she has a loving supporting family, a boyfriend, a job she loves, and friends but on her 30th birthday her family will tell her the truth about her past that will send her looking for answers. I personally think that Meri handled the news fairly well I don't think that I would be as composed about it as she was to find out my "family" is not technically my "family".

Alden, her Gran's neighbor, though a teenager when Meri was born was like a big brother to her until her and her family moved away when she was in her teens but even then he kept a close eye on her from afar. But why? The intensity of his devotion seems like a bit much, at least to me, Meri of course does not question it because he has always just been there but when a promise made long ago is revealed to her Meri starts to look at Alden a bit different. So is her entire relationship with Alden just an obligation that he feels he needs to keep filling because of a promise he made 30 years ago?
But is it more than that? For both Alden and Meri.

A heart-warming story of family and a love that has always been there! This was one of the better chick-lit books that I have read this year.

Thanks for stopping in,
Amy

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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The Corsican CaperThe Corsican Caper by Peter Mayle (Sam Levitt #3)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery




Sam Levitt, master sleuth, is on vacation but like all great sleuths the mysteries and spy-like adventures don't stop just because your on vacation.

Sam and his girlfriend Elena are staying at the home of billionaire friend, Francis Reboul, when it becomes crystal clear that the Russian mobster, Oleg Vronsky, would do anything to get what he wants and what he wants is Reboul's villa.

Who would kill for a villa he has his eyes on? Well Vronsky would, but he wouldn't do it himself their are other ways to dispose of someone without implicating one's self. Vronsky, however, does not count on Reboul's friends actually doing something about this hit on their friends life. Full of jet-setting adventure I found The Corsican Caper to be a more tame spy novel than I am used to but it was still good, like a good sleuth novel from the good old days, Christie and Doyle come to mind in the style even though I don't feel that this novel lives up to any of theirs just that their topic/style of novel is the same. A quick, enjoyable read!

Thanks for coming by,
Amy

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