The Last Death of Jack Harbin by Terry Shames

the-last-death-of-jack-harbin-by-terry-shamesThe Last Death of Jack Harbin by Terry Shames
Series: Samuel Craddock Mystery #2
Genre: Mystery
Setting: Jarrett Creek, Texas
Published by Seventh Street Books, 2014
Library book
253 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: Right before the outbreak of the Gulf War, two eighteen-year-old football stars and best friends from Jarrett Creek, Texas, signed up for the army. But Woody Patterson was rejected and stayed home to marry the girl they both loved, while Jack Harbin came back from the war badly damaged. The men haven’t spoken since.

Just as they are about to reconcile, Jack is brutally murdered. With the chief of police out of commission, it’s up to trusted ex-chief Samuel Craddock to investigate. Against the backdrop of small-town loyalties and betrayals, Craddock discovers dark secrets of the past and present to solve the mystery of Jack’s death.

Town Café has all the charm of a cow barn. A big tin Quonset hut, it’s pockmarked on the outside, as if it was used for target practice in some past life. Bill Schroeder trucked it in about ten years ago and plopped it onto a lot near the railroad tracks. The place has knotty pine walls decorated with random signs advertising beer and farm equipment. Christmas lights are strung all over the place, year round. But the food is good.

Initial impressions

  • The characters, mystery and setting are so well done. I totally recommend this series!

The Story

  • Jack Harbin is an Army veteran who was in the Gulf War. He lost a leg and his sight. He was a star quarterback in high school in Jarrett Creek and still goes to all the games. He will talk football any day of the week and usually holds court at the Town Café. He’s sometimes hard to get along with, but football is always a favorite topic in Jarrett Creek, Texas.
  • When first Jack’s father dies and then Jack dies Samuel Craddock has to step in and figure out what’s going on.

Pluses

  • I really like this series. Samuel Craddock the protagonist of these books is someone I’d like to know.
  • This is written in first person, present tense–not something I usually like that well, but it works for this series.
  • This is practically a police procedural!
  • I like the way Ms. Shames portrays the small town life in rural Texas. I’ve lived in small rural towns in the west and this portrayal seems true-to-life. . . lots of gossip, everyone knowing at least a few things about their neighbors, people willing to pitch in and help when someone needs it, people making snap judgements about others and just like anywhere many shades of gray.
  • There’s a lot going on under the surface in this book. Some of the story goes back to Jack Harbin’s high school days, to his military days. And then what these things mean to the present day.

Minuses

  • I had a pretty good idea about the mystery, but it didn’t keep me from enjoying the book.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • I’m happy there are five books in this series so far. I want to read the next book soon!

Awards

  • A Library Journal Best Book of 2014

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Terry Shames grew up in Texas, and has an abiding affection for the people she grew up with and the landscape and culture of the town that is the model for Jarrett Creek.
  • She graduated from the University of Texas and has an MA from San Francisco State University.
  • Terry now lives in Northern California with her husband, two terriers and a regal cat.

Reading Challenges

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Waiting on Wednesday: September 28

I am participating in Waiting on Wednesday hosted by Breaking the Spine. This gives me a chance to show the books I’m looking forward to in the next few months.

Check out Breaking the Spine for more information.

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after-atlasAfter Atlas

by Emma Newman

Series: Planetfall

Genre: Science Fiction Mystery

Publication date: November 1

Synopsis: Govcorp detective Carlos Moreno was only a baby when Atlas left Earth to seek truth among the stars. But in that moment, the course of Carlos’s entire life changed. Atlas is what took his mother away; what made his father lose hope; what led Alejandro Casales, leader of the religious cult known as the Circle, to his door. And now, on the eve of the fortieth anniversary of Atlas’s departure, it’s got something to do why Casales was found dead in his hotel room—and why Carlos is the man in charge of the investigation.

To figure out who killed one of the most powerful men on Earth, Carlos is supposed to put aside his personal history. But the deeper he delves into the case, the more he realizes that escaping the past is not so easy. There’s more to Casales’s death than meets the eye, and something much more sinister to the legacy of Atlas than anyone realizes…

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The reasons this book appeals to me:
  • I like books which combine fantasy or science fiction with a mystery.
  • The book sounds intriguing! I didn’t read the first book, but it sounds like this book is just set in the same world Ms. Newman created.
  • I really like the cover! It has the same concept as Planetfall.

 

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My fall TBR list

Top Ten

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted at the Broke and the Bookish blog. Each week a different topic is introduced and it is fun to see what everyone writes each week. Check out their blog for more information.

This week I’m talking about my fall TBR list. I’m doing a combination of my most anticipated books for the fall as well as a few books I already have that I’ve meant to read. All but one of these books are from authors and/or series I’ve read before.

The new books for this fall

Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels #9) — Urban Fantasy

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers (Wayfarers #2) — Science Fiction

Den of Wolves by Juliet Marillier (Blackthorn & Grim #3) — Fantasy

An Import of Intrigue by Marshall Ryan Maresca (The Maradaine Constabulary #2) –Fantasy Mystery

Death Comes to the Fair by Catherine Lloyd (Kurland St. Mary Mystery #4) — Historical Mystery

The books from my lengthy TBR list (some of these books have been on previous quarterly TBR lists!)

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (All Souls Trilogy #2) –Fantasy

The Winter Long by Seanan McGuire (October Daye #8) — Urban Fantasy

Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold (Vorkosigan Saga #8) — Science Fiction (Space Opera)

The Sound of Broken Glass by Deborah Crombie (Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James #15) Mystery (Police Procedural)

Moonshadows by Julie Weston (Nellie Burns & Moonshine Mystery #1) Historical Mystery

What books are on your list this fall?

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Sunday Post: September 25

Sunday-Post

 

 

This is a great meme to take part in every week and I thank Kimba for hosting it!

I like this meme because it gives me an opportunity to take a look back at last week and forward to next week in both my personal life and my blog and book life! I also like to see what other people are doing and what books everyone is reading.

Last week–home and blog

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Road trip

We’re on our road trip and as with anything it has its ups and downs–mostly ups. The scenery is beautiful, my husband and I have lots of fun together and we’ve listened to two audiobooks while driving! The downsides–we’re tired since it 20160919_104029is a busy schedule we’re keeping and we hit a deer in Canada.

We were almost to the U.S. border in Washington State when a deer jumped out and smashed in the right front of the car.

The big upside–we were unhurt and wonderful people stopped to help. We ended up having the car towed 120 miles to Spokane, Washington where we could find a repair shop and a rental car agency.

We’ve rented a car and are in Seattle for our niece’s wedding. We’re still trying to figure out what we’re going to do next since the car is not totaled, but will take some time to repair. However, all that is for next week. Right now we’re enjoying the wedding!

The blog

The first week we were gone I had posts scheduled and thought I would get more done while we were traveling, but that has been harder than it seems. Using my cell phone to prepare posts isn’t as easy as I thought and lots of places in the mountains and rural areas have no cell service. The next couple weeks I will see how much I can get done. I do hope to visit more blogs and catch up with what everyone else is doing.

Blog posts — last two weeks

My books

What I’m reading
  • Address to Die For by Mary Feliz
What I read last two weeks
  • Grave on Grand Avenue by Naomi Hirahara
  • The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie
  • Blood Sport by Dick Francis
  • Twice Buried by Steven F. Havill
  • Negative Image by Vicki Delany
New–Books, E-books, NetGalley, Audiobooks–purchased or free or from library

The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel

Blood on the Tracks by Barbara Nickless

Among the Departed by Vicki Delany

Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen by Vicki Delany

Punctured by Rex Kusler

End of the World: Stories of the Apocalypse by Martin H. Greenberg, editor

Next Week–home & blog

We’re in Oregon next week visiting with family. I hope to catch up on sleep and enjoy some good visits! Also prepare some posts and visit blogs!

Blog posts (tentatively)

  • Top Ten Tuesday
  • Waiting on Wednesday
  • Review
  • Sunday Post

What did you do last week? What books did you collect? What are you planning?

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Road Trip–Glacier National Park

My husband and I have been on a road trip for about 10 days now. We’ve had many adventures and seen beautiful places. I posted photos and some commentary earlier in the week (Mammoths and Black Hills) from our first major stop.

Our second major stop we visited Glacier National Park in northern Montana and had a beautiful day to see the mountains, rivers, lakes, valleys, waterfalls….

We decided to travel on the Going to the Sun Road which I heard about through the years, but I figured it had gotten wider and easier to drive on through the years. Maybe it has, but it’s still a narrow, twisty road that’s kind of scary some of the time as well as a road that shows beautiful scenery. Next time maybe we would let someone else do the driving since we saw cool, red buses on the road!

We reached the top of mountain pass and found a bit of roadside snow from earlier in the week. There is a visitor’s center and lots of trails to walk further into the mountains. A little earlier in the day there were mountain goats visible, but they had gone around to the other side of the mountain. Then we started down the mountain.

And down the mountain we went! This side was shorter which we were glad of! But the views were no less spectacular. Near the bottom was a beautiful lake and then we were outside the park.

We drove around the bottom side of the park from east to west back to our hotel. However, I saw a shortcut which we took. Of course, that turned out to be an unmaintained road with open range cattle and horses. Which we did see! Again it was a narrow, twisty road with drop offs, but pretty scenery!

We drove about seven hours on these roads. We were happy we’d seen Glacier National Park. The scenery is spectacular, but we were exhausted when we got back to the hotel.

On to Canada and Banff National Park.

Waiting on Wednesday: September 21

I am participating in Waiting on Wednesday hosted by Breaking the Spine. This gives me a chance to show the books I’m looking forward to in the next few months.

Check out Breaking the Spine for more information.

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an-unsettling-crime-for-samuel-craddockAn Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock

by Terry Shames

Series: Samuel Craddock Mystery #6

Genre: Mystery

Publication date: January 3

Synopsis: When the Jarrett Creek Fire Department is called to douse a blaze on the outskirts of town, they discover a grisly scene: five black young people have been murdered. Newly elected Chief of Police Samuel Craddock, just back from a stint in the Air Force, finds himself an outsider in the investigation headed by the Texas Highway Patrol. He takes an immediate dislike to John Sutherland, a racist trooper
Craddock s fears are realized when Sutherland arrests Truly Bennett, a young black man whom Craddock knows and respects. Sutherland cites dubious evidence that points to Bennett, and Craddock uncovers facts leading in another direction. When Sutherland refuses to relent, Craddock is faced with a choice that will define him as a lawman either let the highway patrol have its way, or take on a separate investigation himself.

Although his choice to investigate puts both Craddock and his family in danger, he perseveres. In the process, he learns something about himself and the limits of law enforcement in Jarrett Creek.

.…………………………

The reasons this book appeals to me:
  • I’ve read a couple books in this series and it has become one of my favorites.
  • Samuel Craddock is a character to cheer for and the Texas setting is very well done by the author.
  • I’m happy Terry Shames is coming out with another Samuel Craddock mystery!

Mammoths and Black Hills

We have been on the road for seven days and have driven a lot of miles! I had a few posts scheduled during the week, but didn’t manage to get a Sunday Post done. We are in Canada now and I can only use the internet when we have wireless available in hotels. I’m hoping to write a few posts during the next couple weeks about our trip.

Our first major stop of our road trip was at The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, South Dakota.

Mammoth bones were found here over thirty years ago. Paleontologists work to uncover the bones of dozens of Columbian Mammoths and Wooly Mammoths as well as other animals who died here. The site is the largest in the United States that shows mammoth bones in situ (left where the bones are found).

The site appears to have been a sink hole fed by warm springs. Vegetation would have grown on the side of the sink hole and mammoths and other animals sometimes fell in. Once they fell in they couldn’t climb out the steep, slippery sides and they died of starvation. Over thousands of years the sink hole filled in with dirt.

One humorous story we heard during our tour was that all the mammoths found and identified so far are young males. The scientists think the young males had to leave their herd and because they weren’t as cautious as older mammoths they fell into the sink hole!

After we left The Mammoth Site we drove through the Black Hills. Surprisingly they got their name because the hills are black! Though I thought the hills looked like regular hills. We stopped for lunch in Hill City. Such a cute town. I especially liked the two metal sculptures in front of a shop–a horse and a mule (or a donkey).

We ate at the Alpine Inn. They had German food and I had spaetzle which I love. And a Fat Tire beer from New Belgium Beer!

Then we drove out of South Dakota into Wyoming and finally to Montana for the night. Next major stop is Glacier National Park.

Stripped Bare by Shannon Baker

stripped-bareStripped Bare by Shannon Baker
Series: Kate Fox #1
Genre: Contemporary Mystery
Setting: Grand County, Nebraska (Nebraska Sandhills)
Published by Forge Books
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: September 6)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
288 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: Kate Fox is living the dream. She’s married to Grand County Sheriff Ted Conner, the heir to her beloved Nebraska Sandhills cattle ranch, where they live with Kate’s orphaned teenage niece, Carly. With the support of the well-connected Fox Clan, which includes Kate’s eight boisterous and interfering siblings, Ted’s reelection as Grand County Sheriff is virtually assured. That leaves Kate to the solitude and satisfaction of Frog Creek, her own slice of heaven.

One night Kate answers a shattering phone call from Roxy at the Bar J. Carly’s granddad Eldon, owner of the ranch, is dead and Ted has been shot and may never walk again. Kate vows to find the killer. She soon discovers Ted responded so quickly to the scene because he was already at the Bar J . . . in Roxy’s bed. And to add to her woes, Carly has gone missing.

Kate finds out that Eldon was considering selling his ranch to an obscenely rich environmentalist. Some in town hate the idea of an outsider buying up land, others are desperate to sell . . . and some might kill to get their way. As she becomes the victim of several “accidents,” Kate knows she must find the killer before it’s too late. . . .

Initial impressions

  • I like this book a lot. A good first book in a series.

Pluses

  • Lots goes on in Kate’s personal life during this book. There’s a mystery, but also a personal journey for Kate. She has to make decisions and decide what she really wants.
  • I really like Kate and can understand all the emotions she goes through. It’s a rough ride for her, but once she begins figuring out what’s going on she doesn’t flinch.
  • I like the way her family–especially her siblings are portrayed. I felt that was pretty true-to-life.
  • The mystery was puzzling especially at first as Kate and the reader don’t get all the information.
  • There are lots of suspects.
  • I love the setting of the book. I feel the author must really understand the Nebraska Sandhills country.
  • The mystery is solved at the end, but there are lots of loose ends to find out about in future books.

Minuses

  • It was hard to keep track of some of the characters in the book. Kate has eight brothers and sisters, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles. Lots of names at first. However, I think the author made the right decision to leap right into the story.
  • After reading the synopsis I was impatient for Kate to find out some of the circumstances for the  shootings at the Bar J–such as her husband’s infidelity!

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • I’m really looking forward to the next book in this series!

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Shannon Baker announces the Kate Fox mystery series, to debut with Stripped Bare, releasing September 2016 from Tor/Forge. A modern western described as Longmire meets The Good Wife.  Now a resident of Tucson, Baker spent 20 years in the Nebraska Sandhills, where cattle outnumber people by more than 50:1. 
  • She is also the author of the Nora Abbott mystery series from Midnight Ink. A fast-paced mix of Hopi Indian mysticism, environmental issues, and murder. Shannon is an itinerant writer, which is a nice way of saying she’s confused. She never knows what time zone she’s in, Timbuck-Three, Nebraska, Denver, or Tucson. Nora Abbott has picked up that location schizophrenia and travels from Flagstaff in Tainted Mountain, to Boulder in Broken Trust and then to Moab in Tattered Legacy. Shannon is proud to have been chosen Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ 2014 Writer of the Year.

Reading Challenges

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Waiting on Wednesday: September 14

I am participating in Waiting on Wednesday hosted by Breaking the Spine. This gives me a chance to show the books I’m looking forward to in the next few months.

Check out Breaking the Spine for more information.

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firewalkFirewalk

by Chris Roberson

Series: Unknown

Genre:  Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Mystery

Publication date: October 18

Synopsis: Izzie Lefevre was the newest investigator for the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit when she first came to Recondito, a coastal city that’s been shrouded in mystery and legend for centuries. Local law enforcement had requested the Bureau’s assistance in hunting a sword-wielding serial killer who’d left a dozen mutilated bodies in his wake. Patrick Tevake was a local homicide detective assigned to the taskforce, and together he and Izzie managed to track down and stop the killer before he claimed another victim.

Five years later, Izzie and Patrick remain haunted by what the killer said before he fell in a hail of gunfire. Izzie’s ancestors were “mambos,” voodoo priestesses who claimed to communicate with the dead and protect the faithful from evil spirits. Patrick’s Polynesian great uncle told stories of Recondito’s supernatural menaces that lurk in flame and shadow. The killer’s last words have brought up a past both Izzie and Patrick thought they’d long since left behind, and neither has been able to shake the feeling that their case was never completely solved.

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The reasons this book appeals to me:
  • This book received a starred review from the Library Journal.
  • I’m not really a fan of zombies in books or TV, but I thought I’d give this book a chance.

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Favorite space opera & military science fiction

Top TenTop Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted at the Broke and the Bookish blog. Each week a different topic is introduced and it is fun to see what everyone writes each week. Check out their blog for more information.

This week we talk about our all-time favorite books in a genre of our choice. I’ve decided to talk about my favorite space opera and military science fiction books.

I lump these two genres together because they so often overlap. I think almost every military science fiction is space opera. And many space operas also involve military.

Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, as well as chivalric romance, and often risk-taking. Set mainly or entirely in outer space, it usually involves conflict between opponents possessing advanced abilities, futuristic weapons, and other sophisticated technology. (from wikipedia)

Military science fiction is a subgenre of science fiction that features the use of science fiction technology, mainly weapons, for military purposes and usually principal characters that are members of a military organization involved in military activity; occurring sometimes in outer space or on a different planet or planets. It exists in literature, comics, film and video games. (from wikipedia)

My choices:

The Warrior’s Apprentice

  • by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Vorkosigan Saga #2
  • This series is a favorite of mine and this is the book where I fell in love with Miles Vorkosigan and the way he can reinvent himself. Even though he has severe physical limitations he’s able to become a warrior and military leader.
  • Space opera and military science fiction also.

Old Man’s Warold-mans-war

  • by John Scalzi
  • The first book in the Old Man’s War series is my favorite.
  • Very inventive. I thought the idea to use old men and women from earth to fight mankind’s wars is very interesting. How the space military manage to turn them into soldiers is fascinating. The characters–the old soldiers–make the book great, too!

Marque and Reprisal

  • by Elizabeth Moon
  • Book 2 of Vatta’s War
  • Elizabeth Moon has written several series. I have read all of them and love them all. (Though I have decided I need to reread some of them!)
  • I would classify this as space opera with some military science fiction overtones.

Agent of Change

  • by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
  • Liaden Universe #9
  • There are so many books in this series I love. Lee and Miller have created a great universe and their books span generations within one family. I really like the characters in this book. I think it’s my favorite in this series, but it’s hard to choose.
  • Space opera

The Price of the Starsprice-of-the-stars

  • by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald
  • Mageworlds #1
  • Such a fun series. Lots goes on in these books.
  • Space opera

Armada

  • by Ernest Cline
  • A rare stand-alone book
  • Videogames are the perfect training ground for the military…right?!!
  • Military science fiction (and space opera)

Valor’s Choice

  • by Tanya Huff
  • Confederation #1
  • Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr is such a great character. She epitomizes what you hope an NCO is for her troops and for her officers.
  • Military sci fi and space opera.

Honor’s Knight

  • by Rachel Bach
  • Paradox book 2
  • It took me until the second book to be totally sold on this series, but Devi Morris won me over in this book!
  • Space opera with a little military science fiction vibe

Terms of Enlistment

  • by Marko Kloos
  • Frontlines #1
  • This was one of my favorite books in 2013. Especially good book about the life of a military recruit in basic training.
  • Military science fiction (and space opera)redshirts

Redshirts

  • by John Scalzi
  • Standalone
  • Such a fun book. John Scalzi is one of my favorite authors!
  • Space opera

What about you? Do you like science fiction? Space opera? Military science fiction? What are your favorites?