Review: Doggirl by Robin Brande

Doggirl by Robin Brande

Series: None

Genre: Young Adult, Dogs

Setting: High School

Source: Ebook, purchased

Publishing Date: 2011

251 pages

Synopsis: I BELIEVE IN SIGNS. 
And this one said: “Dog trainer needed immediately. Must provide own dog.” 
I snatched the paper off the announcement board before anyone else could see it. 
BECAUSE IT’S ABOUT TIME. 

Meet Riley Case: An expert with dogs, lousy with people. She’s been keeping a low profile at her high school–well, except for that incident with the birds–but when the chance comes to use her talents as a dog trainer to help the drama department win a national competition, she knows she can’t stay in the shadows any longer. 

Funny and tender, with plenty for any animal-lover to love, DOGGIRL and her dogs will steal your heart.

My thoughts

I loved this story about a high school girl who trains her three dogs. After she finishes college she wants to train dogs for movies. She gets her first job for the dogs in a school play.

I heard once that people know what they want to be by the time they’re ten years old. I’ve known since I was four.

My parents brought home the movie Babe, and forget it, that was it. I’ve watched it like 8,000 times now. The pig, the dogs, the duck, the sheep–someone had to teach each and every one of them how to perform all those tricks.

Riley is a great character. She doesn’t really understand people, but she understands and loves animals–especially dogs and they love her. The dogs in this book are wonderful. I would love to know all of them! I don’t read many young adult books, but reading this book made me happy.

Fig, Jack and Heidi

The dogs in the book–a Great Pyrenees named Fig; a Border Collie named Jack; and a Dachshund named Heidi–stole the show for me. I’d love to meet dogs like them. Fig has actually saved Riley’s life a couple of times. Jack knows the meaning of many words

If you like dogs, or school plays or just want to read a story that will make you happy you should read Doggirl.

My Rating: A-

Have you read this book or any books by this author?

Reading Challenges

  • 52 books in 52 weeks hosted by the mommymannegren.com blog — A teen as the main character
  • Review Writing Challenge hosted by Shari @ Delighted Reader blog
  • They Call It Puppy Love Challenge hosted by Barb @ Booker T’s Farm (February challenge)

Review: Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon

Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon

Series: None

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Setting: England

Source: Ebook, purchased

Publishing Date: 2009

449 pages

Synopsis: Thirty-nine year old Rachel is having a really bad year. After losing her job and breaking up with her boyfriend, Rachel has inherited her late aunt’s house, her beloved border collie, and a crowded rescue kennel, despite the fact that she knows almost nothing about dogs. Still, considering her limited options, she gamely takes up the challenge of running the kennel. And as Rachel starts finding new homes for the abandoned strays, it turns out that it might not just be the dogs that need rescuing.

Opening sentences:

When February started, Rachel Fielding had a middling-to-glamorous career doing PR for Internet companies, a boyfriend who regularly bought her flowers and dressed better than she did, a cleaner, and a skin-age three years younger than her actual age, which was thirty-nine.

By the second week, however, she had, in one simple maneuver, managed to lose the love of her life, her Chiswick flat and her job.

My thoughts

This is an author whom Barb @ Booker T’s Farm recommended. I grabbed this book when it was on sale and I’m so glad I did. I love it–the rescue dogs, the setting in England and interesting, fun characters (including dogs). I wanted to meet these people and dogs and have them for friends!  The book has Rachel’s POV, but also several other people’s POVs. I enjoyed learning more about these characters and how they interact with Rachel’s world and the dogs’ worlds.

They Call It Puppy Love Challenge

I’m participating in “They Call It Puppy Love” Challenge during February. The challenge is hosted by Barb @ Booker T’s Farm. I was so happy to sign up for this challenge since I’m enjoying reading books about dogs. I’ve saved some books for this challenge so you’ll see me reading lots of dog books this month!

Rachel

Rachel lost her boyfriend, apartment and job all at the same time and is distraught–especially about her ex-boyfriend of ten years. At about the same time she learns she’s the executor of her Aunt Dot’s estate and that she has inherited her aunt’s house, land, border collie and rescue kennel. That’s overwhelming for Rachel along with everything else. She’s never had a dog and knows nothing about dogs let alone a rescue kennel. Rachel’s from London and she’s not a “dog person!” However, Rachel tries to fulfill her obligations. She loved her aunt, but discovers she really didn’t know a lot about her after she moves into the house.

Rachel also finds out the kennel needs to take in some money and can’t survive with just rescue dogs. The vet–George–who is quite gruff and plainspoken tells her the kennels are also meant to have paying customers who board their dogs. Rachel slowly learns more about dogs and about rescue dogs. And about walking dogs and cleaning kennels and feeding dogs. Slowly some of the rescue dogs are given permanent homes. Rachel begins making friends including Natalie who is a marketing pro. Together Natalie and Rachel begin working on plans for the rescue dogs and to make the kennels profitable. I really like that we get  stories of other people in this book, too.

Gem

Gem is a wonderful dog. When I was younger I always wanted a collie especially after I read the Albert Payson Terhune books about his collies. (I read lots of dog books when I was a teenager!) I found a copy of Lad: A Dog–the first book in the series at a used bookstore a few months ago and plan to read it again one of these days. Anyway, Gem was Aunt Dot’s dog and is missing Dot, but he’s a typical intelligent herding dog who helps during dog walks by herding the rescue dogs who don’t know about walking on a leash. He also provides solace to Rachel when Rachel takes him for solitary walks and indulges in her once a day crying. He is just what Rachel needs even if she doesn’t know it.

Romance

There are relationships at various stages of romance in this book. I like that the romances don’t take over the story. I like romances that are part of the daily life people live. I love that Rachel starts out a mess and grows and changes during this book.

Rescue dogs

We meet so many wonderful rescue dogs in this book. We learn about the heartbreak these dogs suffer if they’re abandoned by their owners. It’s especially bad when the dog is just abandoned on a street or out in the country. They sometimes doesn’t survive that. We get to know the quirks and characters of the rescue dogs and meet some of the people who adopt them.

Bottom line

A really good book especially if you like dogs!

My Rating: A-

Have you read any books by this author?

Awards

Romantic Novel of the Year (RoNa’s) Award (2010)

Reading Challenges

  • The Backlist Reader Challenge hosted by Lark @ The Bookwyrm’s Hoard
  • Review Writing Challenge hosted by Shari @ Delighted Reader blog
  • They Call It Puppy Love Challenge hosted by Barb @ Booker T’s Farm (February challenge)

Review: Zero G by Dan Wells

Zero G by Dan Wells

Series: None

Genre: Middle Grade Science Fiction

Setting: On board a spaceship

Source: Audiobook (Free monthly member selection from Audible) (4 hours, 8 minutes)

Narrators: Emily Woo,  Margaret Ying Drake, Josh Hurley, Allyson Johnson, David Shih, Eddy Lee, Jennifer Van Dyck, Betsy Hogg, Chelsea Spack, Polly Lee 

Publishing Date: 2018

Synopsis: It’s one kid versus an entire band of space pirates in this cosmic middle grade caper from New York Times bestselling author Dan Wells.

Zero is just one of 20,000 people aboard a spaceship bound for a new planet set to be colonized. The journey is over a century long but luckily, everyone is in stasis, so they’ll be safe and sound asleep during the trip. Everyone that is, except for Zero, whose pod has malfunctioned, waking him up a hundred years early. His initial excitement in roaming the ship alone quickly turns to a heart-stopping interstellar adventure when a family of space pirates show up, trying to hijack the ship and take the colonizers hostage. With everyone he knows fast asleep, it’s up to Zero to think fast and find a way to stop them–all on his own.

My thoughts

This is a fun adventure story. I think it’s more middle grade book than young adult (which is how some people on Goodreads describe it). It’s important to remember this is a middle grade book so some suspension of disbelief is needed. I didn’t have a problem because the story is so much fun. Zero is such a courageous, adventurous character.

Spaceship to new planet

Zero is 12-years-old and travelling with his family to a new planet. Everyone will be in stasis during the voyage since the trip will take about 100 years. Zero is super adventurous so before he and his family are scheduled to sleep he escapes his family and enjoys the zero gravity by flying through the spaceship exploring various parts of the ship. He meets the ship’s pilot who will guide the ship through the solar system the first few weeks of the trip so they avoid collisions with asteroids. And he even meets the ship’s AI. The AI will help the pilot guide the ship. After meeting them Zero realizes he needs to quickly head back to the part of the ship where his family is scheduled to sleep. When he gets back he discovers his two brothers are already asleep and his parents are beginning to worry about him. They enter their pods and soon sleep.

When Zero wakes up he’s excited to talk to his family and see the new planet. However, when he leaves his sleep pod neither his family nor anyone else near them is awake. He remembers the ship AI and talks to it. The ship AI tells him they’re only weeks into the trip and it thinks his pod must have malfunctioned somehow. They are approaching the Kuiper Belt at the edge of the Solar System. After that the ship goes into its hyper drive which a human can’t survive. At that time even the ship’s pilot goes into a sleep pod so he can survive and wake up to guide the ship to their new planet.

Zero quickly discovers the ship’s pilot is missing and there’s no one to pilot the ship through the asteroids of the Kuiper Belt. He also discovers the AI has some holes in its memory. The AI tells Zero he will have to help pilot the ship to avoid asteroids since the AI isn’t programmed to do that. Just after he helps the ship avoid an asteroid, Zero sees something else headed toward them. It turns out it’s a spaceship filled with space pirates! When Zero finds that out he realizes he has to save the ship and all the people on it. Zero is very innovative as he wages guerrilla warfare against the pirates! There’s excitement throughout the rest of the story. Several of the pirates are bad people, but I think this wouldn’t be a problem for most kids. Maybe because Zero is such an intrepid opponent.

Narration

I loved the full cast narration. Really fun to listen to.

Bottom line

I think this would be a great audio for a family to listen to on a road trip. I think my kids would have loved this when they were younger and I’d guess even kids as young as about 8-years-old as well as many adults will enjoy this. I’d love to listen to more Zero G stories about his adventures on their new planetary home.

My Rating: A-

Narrator Ratings: A-

Have you read any books by this author?

Reading Challenges

  • 52 books in 52 weeks hosted by the mommymannegren.com blog (a children’s book–I’m interpreting that as middle grade book)
  • Review Writing Challenge hosted by Shari @ Delighted Reader blog

Review: Mercy Falls by William Kent Kreuger

Mercy Falls by William Kent Kreuger

Series: Cork O’Connor #5

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Setting: Minnesota and Chicago

Source: Audiobook, Library; 11 hours, 32 minutes

Narrator: David Chandler

Publishing Date: 2005

434 pages

Synopsis: Back in the saddle as sheriff of Tamarack County, Cork O’Connor is lured to the nearby Ojibwe reservation on what appears to be a routine call — only to become the target of sniper fire. Soon after, he’s called to investigate a mutilated body found perched above the raging waters of Mercy Falls. The victim is Eddie Jacoby, a Chicago businessman negotiating an unpopular contract between his management firm and the local Indian casino. Sparks fly when the wealthy Jacoby family hires a beautiful private investigator to consult on the case. But once Cork discovers an old and passionate tie between one of the Jacoby sons and his own wife, Jo, he begins to suspect that dark, personal motives lurk behind recent events. Murder, greed, sex, and jealousy hide around every corner in this maze of danger. But somewhere beneath the turbulent Mercy Falls lies the truth — and Cork is determined to find it….

My thoughts

This book was like riding a roller coaster…just when I thought the mystery was solved and it was winding up something more happens and I’m chugging back up a hill again and then racing down the other side. This happened to me several times and I’m still not sure the mystery is completely solved!

Once again sheriff

Cork is the sheriff of Tamarack County again and he has changed some of the department policies. As the book opens one of his deputies is questioning why the sheriff has changed the policy that he ride along on most calls to the reservation. A few minutes later they come under sniper fire and are fighting for their lives. And so begins a book full of twists and turns. I’m not going to say too much more about the book except that this is a great series and I think Mercy Falls is my favorite so far! There’s a lot of suspense as the story rolls along and Cork and the other law enforcement officers try to figure out why everything happens. Is everything connected, and, if so, how’s it connected?

A good listen

I listened to the audiobook and even though it’s over 11 hours long I listened to almost all of it in a day! The narrator is David Chandler and I think he does a good job. I’ve listened to several of the books in this series that he narrates and he makes the characters come alive in my imagination.

Bottom line

I have taken my time reading these books over the last couple of years, because I like them so much. It’s hard when I run out of books in a series even if it just means waiting for a year or so for the next one. However, as soon as I ended this book I had to go and get the next in the series since Mercy Falls ends on a bit of a cliffhanger!

My Rating: A-

Narrator Rating: B+

Have you read any books by this author?

Awards

  • Barry Award Nominee for Best Novel (2006)
  • Anthony Award for Best Novel (2006)

Reading Challenges

  • 52 books in 52 weeks hosted by the mommymannegren.com blog — An audiobook
  • The Backlist Reader Challenge hosted by Lark @ The Bookwyrm’s Hoard
  • Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge hosted by Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My! & Barb @ Book T’s Farm
  • Library Love Challenge hosted by the Angel’s Guilty Pleasures blog
  • Review Writing Challenge hosted by Shari @ Delighted Reader blog

Review: White Silence by Jodie Taylor

white silence by jodi taylorWhite Silence by Jodie Taylor

Series: Elizabeth Cage #1

Genre: Fantasy, Thriller

Setting: England

Source: Audiobook, purchased (10 hours, 31 minutes)

Narrator: Kate Scarfe

Publishing Date: 2017

325 pages

Synopsis: Elizabeth Cage is a child when she discovers that there are things in this world that only she can see. But she doesn’t want to see them and she definitely doesn’t want them to see her. 

What is a curse to Elizabeth is a gift to others – a very valuable gift they want to control. 

When her husband dies, Elizabeth’s world descends into a nightmare. But as she tries to piece her life back together, she discovers that not everything is as it seems. 

Alone in a strange and frightening world, she’s a vulnerable target to forces beyond her control. 

And she knows that she can’t trust anyone… 

My thoughts

Oh, my gosh, this book wasn’t what I was expecting! I knew it was a fantasy and I’ve read some of Jodi Taylor’s time travel series–The Chronicles of St. Mary’s–and I love that series. This new series is quite different. It’s more of a thriller and even ventured into horror territory for me. (I don’t like being scared so keep that in mind!) There were parts of this book that scared me–especially since I was home alone at the time…lol. I hadn’t planned to read any scary books for Halloween, but it happened anyway!

First part is more typical fantasy…the second not so much

The first part of the book is like a typical fantasy. The main character has some sort of magical ability, but she doesn’t know exactly what it is. She learns to hide her ability, but still comes to someone’s attention. By the time this has happened she’s happily married. However, her husband dies and the world she knows comes to an end. This is where the book gets very unpredictable.

Excellent narrator

I listened to the audio version of the book and it’s excellent. The narrator, Kate Scarfe, does a wonderful job. She’s easy to understand and I felt she really understood Elizabeth. I love the colors on the cover of this book, too!

One of my favorites this year

White Silence is one of my favorite books so far this year. I’m not going to say too much more about the book except that even though I was scared during some of dark light by jodi taylorthe book I listened compulsively and finished the 10+ hours of narration in one day. The second book–Dark Light–comes out at the end of this month and I’ve preordered it!

My Rating: A-

Narrator Rating: A

Have you read any books by this author?

Reading Challenges

Swords and Stars Reading Challenge hosted by MsNoseinaBook — Read the first book in a series

Review: Artificial Condition by Martha Wells

Artificial Condition by Martha WellsArtificial Condition by Martha Wells

Series: The Murderbot Diaries #2

Genre: Science Fiction Novella

Source: Hardback, Library

Publishing Date: 2018

158 pages

Synopsis: It has a dark past – one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself “Murderbot”. But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more.

Teaming up with a Research Transport vessel named ART (you don’t want to know what the “A” stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue.

What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…

My thoughts

I love Murderbot! These books by Martha Wells are such fun to read. Murderbot is so self-aware. I keep thinking of her as female though she’s actually neither male nor female and doesn’t want to be either. It’s hard for me to think of her as “it” as that seems to make her less than she is. However, the author makes a point of calling Murderbot an it so I guess I have to follow that lead. The fact that Murderbot has organic parts as well as inorganic parts makes it hard to think of it as property and with no feelings. Murderbot hacked its “governor” (which made it do whatever humans told it to do) which makes Murderbot’s desire to just watch video serials understandable. Even though Murderbot was treated as an object owned by a company and had to obey orders it has strong ethical beliefs.

This is a short book, but lots is packed in to the story. Murderbot is on its own in this book though it makes some friends along the way. It has decided to investigate what happened in its past–why it calls itself “Murderbot.” After that incident Murderbot’s memory was mostly wiped so it has only vague memories of what happened

Since Murderbot is traveling alone it is posing as an augmented human since security units are either owned by a company or have a human guardian. It hitches a ride on a research transport vehicle that it names ART. ART initially scares Murderbot, but they come to an understanding and help each other. I love the interactions between Murderbot and ART. There’s a lot of snark as well as genuine feeling between them.

The book has mystery, humor, adventure and danger. I already have the third book in the series!

My Rating: A-

Have you read any books by this author?

Reading Challenges

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge hosted by the POPSUGAR website — The next book in a series you’ve started

Review: The Sinister Pig by Tony Hillerman

the sinister pig by tony hillermanThe Sinister Pig by Tony Hillerman

Series: Leaphorn & Chee #16

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Setting: U.S. Southwest, Washington, DC

Source: Ebook, Purchased

Publishing Date: 2003

352 pages

Synopsis: Sergeant Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police is troubled by the nameless corpse discovered just inside his jurisdiction, at the edge of the Jicarilla Apache natural gas field. More troubling still is the FBI’s insistence that the Bureau take over the case, calling the unidentifiedvictim’s death a “hunting accident.”

But if a hunter was involved, Chee knows the prey was intentionally human. This belief is shared by the “Legendary Lieutenant” Joe Leaphorn, who once again is pulled out of retirement by the possibility of serious wrongs being committed against the Navajo nation by the Washington bureaucracy. Yet it is former policewoman Bernadette Manuelito, recently relocated to Customs Patrol at the U.S. — Mexico border, who possibly holds the key to a fiendishly twisted conspiracy of greed, lies, and murder — and whose only hope for survival now rests in the hands of friends too far away for comfort. 

My thoughts

Background

I love Tony Hillerman’s mysteries. I’ve read them for years (though there was a time in the late 1990’s and 2000’s I stopped reading mysteries). I’m going back now to read some of the ones I missed and some of the older ones I don’t remember as well or that I just want to read again and enjoy.

This is one of the books I hadn’t read and I really enjoyed it. I’m reading the books as I find them for a price I can pay so I’ve been skipping back and forth with the books. Each book is a self-contained mystery, but the overall arc of the main characters’ personal lives changes throughout the series so this isn’t the best way to read the books! I’m not sure that I read the two books before this one so I’ll eventually read those.

The story

This mystery involves Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee when an unidentified man is found shot in their jurisdiction. The FBI takes over the case and the case is closed when the Feds say the man was a hunting accident victim. This is a tense mystery. There were problems even in 2003 (as there have been for years before and years after) with illegal immigrants and drugs coming over the U.S. – Mexico border. And any time there’s lots of money involved people don’t want to give that up–so they don’t care who gets hurt or killed in the process.

Bernadette “Bernie” Manuelito

Bernadette “Bernie” Manuelito is a main character in this book and I like her. She quits her job with the Navajo Tribal Police and  takes a job with the Customs Patrol at the U.S. – Mexico border. She’s curious about unusual things she sees during her patrols and that quickly gets her in trouble. Leaphorn and Chee begin to see that some of the things Bernie has seen may tie-in with their dead man even though no one at the federal level will talk to them.

One reason Bernie quit her job with the Navajo Tribal Police: she realizes she needs to get on with her life. She likes Jim Chee, but he doesn’t seem to notice her. I like that she realizes she has to be strong enough to leave that situation. She’s not only strong, but a smart, honest and conscientious law enforcement officer. And maybe Chee noticed her more than he let on!

A really good mystery and I recommend the series! I plan to read and review more of the books this year.

My Rating: A-

Have you read any books by this author?

Reading Challenges

Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge hosted by Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!

Review: The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths

The Woman in Blue by Elly GriffithsThe Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths

Series: Ruth Galloway #8

Genre: Mystery

Setting: Norfolk, England

Source: Audiobook, purchased (9 hours, 44 minutes)

Narrator: Jane McDowell

Publishing Date: 2016

358 pages

Synopsis: Known as England’s Nazareth, the medieval town of Little Walsingham is famous for religious apparitions. So when Ruth Galloway’s druid friend Cathbad sees a woman in a white dress and a dark blue cloak standing alone in the local cemetery one night, he takes her as a vision of the Virgin Mary. But then a woman wrapped in blue cloth is found dead the next day, and Ruth’s old friend Hilary, an Anglican priest, receives a series of hateful, threatening letters. Could these crimes be connected? When one of Hilary’s fellow female priests is murdered just before Little Walsingham’s annual Good Friday Passion Play, Ruth, Cathbad, and DCI Harry Nelson must team up to find the killer before he strikes again. 

My thoughts

One of my favorite mystery series. Ruth Galloway is such a good character in these books. She’s a forensic archaeologist, a college professor, a single mom and helps the police on occasion. It sounds like she would be obnoxiously organized and efficient. However, she’s like most of us–she feels constantly busy with never enough time! She does love her life though–being a mom and teaching with occasional archaeology digging and police consultations. The book takes place in Little Walsingham in the county of Norfolk in England. It is known as a village with many shrines to the Virgin Mary and that features strongly in this mystery.

I listened to the audio version of this book and like the narrator a lot. She did a good job with the different voices and was easy to hear and understand. Made the story even more interesting.

Throughout these books one of the best things are all the friends Ruth has. In this book Cathbad, a long-time friend of Ruth’s, appears in the beginning of the book since he’s in Walsingham taking care of a cat and house sitting for a friend. When the cat escapes from the house Cathbad rushes in pursuit and sees a woman in blue in the graveyard near the house. He wonders if he has seen a vision of the Virgin Mary, but the woman later is found strangled.

It’s great to see DCI Harry Nelson and Sergeant Clough again. There are many pieces to the mystery. Ruth gets involved when a friend from her university days comes to Walsingham for a conference and gets in touch with Ruth. Hilary says she has a problem and wants to talk about it with Ruth. Hilary has received a number of threatening letters from someone who doesn’t like the fact she’s a woman priest. A good mystery which kept me guessing. And if you haven’t read the books before this be sure to read the earlier books first as each builds on the one before

My Rating: A-

Narrator Rating: B+

Have you read any books by this author?

Reading Challenges

Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge hosted by Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!

Review: Starman Jones by Robert A. Heinlein

Starman Jones by Robert A HeinleinStarman Jones by Robert A. Heinlein

Series: None

Genre: Science Fiction (one of Heinlein’s Juveniles)

Source: Audiobook, purchased

Narrated by Paul Michael Garcia

Published by Blackstone Audiobooks, 2008, (original publication date: 1953)

252 pages; 8 hours, 29 minutes

Synopsis: The stars were closed to Max Jones. To get into space you either needed connections, a membership in the Guild, or a whole lot more money than Max, the son of a widowed, poor mother, was every going to have. What Max does have going for him are his uncle’s prized astrogation manuals—book on star navigation that Max literally commits to memory word for word, equation for equation. When Max’s mother decides to remarry a bullying oaf, Max takes to the road, only to discover that his uncle Chet’s manuals, and Max’s near complete memorization of them, is a ticket to the stars. But serving on a spaceship is no easy task. Duty is everything, and a mistake can mean you and all aboard are lost forever. Max loves every minute of his new life, and he steadily grows in the trust of his superior officers, and seems to be on course for a command track position. But then disaster strikes, and it’s going to take every trick Max ever learned from his tough life and his uncle’s manuals to save himself and the ship from a doom beyond extinction itself.

My thoughts

Starman Jones is part of the Heinlein Juveniles series. Heinlein wrote twelve novels between 1947 and 1958 which were published as the juvenile series.  These books are all standalone books. The first book was Rocket Ship Galileo and the last was Have Space Suit — Will Travel. I guess these would be considered young adult books today though in many ways they’re simpler more straightforward stories than many young adult books written today. I read these (and many of Heinlein’s adult novels) as a teenager. I loved the adventure in these books as well as so many of the characters. It’s been years since I read most of these books, but I think the main characters were all boys. That didn’t bother me when I was reading them. I don’t think I thought about it! I still related to the main characters and wanted to have those adventures. Heinlein wrote about characters who were intelligent, hardworking and honest and showed that was the way to get ahead in the world. I took that to heart and still believe that today. However, I am also really happy there are more books written with female main characters and more female authors.

This was a good science fiction adventure story. Max Jones is a teenager who always wanted to be an astrogator and since his uncle was an astrogator and talked of naming Max as his heir Max hopes he did that before he died. Many occupations–including astrogation–are hereditary and managed by guilds and since Max doesn’t come from an important family and doesn’t have any money he won’t have a chance to become an astrogator if he wasn’t named an heir by his uncle.

Max runs away from home after his stepmother remarries soon after Max’s father dies. Max does manage to get himself onto a passenger spaceship (but with forged documents). Even though his job is taking care of the animals on the ship–cleaning their cages–he’s ecstatic that he’s in space. During the course of the book Max manages to come to the attention of the spaceship’s captain and other officers and is given a chance to learn about the running of the ship. However, he not only has the deception that got him onto the ship, but a number of other disasters await him and the ship.

Jones is a smart, but naive young man at the beginning of this story. He learns a lot and grows up a lot by the end of the book. The book didn’t end quite as I thought it would. It’s always nice when a book surprises me. I thought this ending was good and wished that Heinlein had written more books about Max!

I read and reviewed Have Spaceship – Will Travel a couple of years ago, but of the two I like Starman Jones better. I own a number of the other Juvenile Series books so I may try to read them this year.

My Rating: A-

Narrator Rating: A

Have you read any of Robert Heinlein’s books?

Reading Challenges

2018 Swords & Stars Reading Challenge hosted by MsNoseinaBook — Read a book whose cover has stars in it or whose title has any variation of the word star in it.

Death Comes to the Fair by Catherine Lloyd

death-comes-to-the-fairDeath Comes to the Fair by Catherine Lloyd
Series: Kurland St. Mary Mysteries #4
Genre: Historical Mystery
Setting: Kurland St. Mary and Kurland St. Anne in England
Published by Kensington
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: November 29, 2016)
–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.
304 pages
Grade: A-
Synopsis: It’s harvest time in the village of Kurland St. Mary as Lucy and Robert prepare to take their vows—but a murderer has taken an unseasonable vow of vengeance . . .

As Miss Lucy Harrington, daughter of the village rector, and Major Sir Robert Kurland plan their nuptials, the major is beginning to wonder if he’ll ever hear wedding bells. He’s seen complex military campaigns that involved less strategy, and he’s finding Lucy’s meddling family maddening.

When the body of Ezekiel Thurrock, the church verger, is discovered crushed by a stone gargoyle that has fallen from the bell tower, the tragic death strikes a somber note and the wedding is delayed. But the evidence suggests this was no accident, and Lucy wonders if bad blood at the village fair had anything to do with the man’s mysterious demise, since there was much bitterness over Ezekiel’s prizewinning vegetables.

As Lucy and Robert uncover long-standing village feuds, the town’s dark secrets begin to take their toll and the couple soon finds they too are in grave danger . . .

Initial impressions

  • Best book in the series so far. The mystery is more complex and the story is more than just the mystery.

Pluses

  • I like how the series moves the personal lives of the characters forward even as mysteries unfold. In this case Robert and Lucy are planning their wedding. They are frustrated that they must take into account many other people. They would like to keep things simple!
  • I like the regard and love Robert and Lucy show for each other. I also like how Robert has grown and changed throughout the series in his regard and respect for Lucy. Lucy has also come to respect Robert and realize what a good person he is.
  • I wasn’t sure how the mystery would be solved for quite some time!
  • During the fair Robert judges the area produce. He judges it without regard for who wins and loses even though Lucy tries to tell him it’s serious business to the area residents and can cause feuds. He doesn’t heed her warnings and awards most of the prizes to one person. He’s very surprised at the anger, grumbling and talk about a “rigged” system from those who didn’t win!
  • I like the different attitudes Robert and Lucy have. Robert is idealistic–he believes giving the prize to the best carrot or turnip is the right thing to do. Lucy is pragmatic–she understands the politics of the villages, that the villagers have long memories and that spreading the prizes among many people will give everyone something to brag about. Who is right?
  • The murders look like they could be accidents and no one seems to believe or care when Robert and Lucy think they could be murders. At first it’s hard to see why the murders took place.
  • The story shows the importance of knowing the history of the people and their region when those people live in an area for a long time–even when no one seems to know the origin of feuds and resentments.

Minuses

  • The book is named after the fair, but the fair is only in the first few pages of the book. However, what happens at the fair does seem to cause some of the events.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • I hope there are more books in this series!

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

Author info

  • (from Goodreads): “Catherine Lloyd was born just outside London, England, into a large family of dreamers, artists, and history lovers. She completed her education with a master’s degree in history at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, and uses the skills she gained there to research and write her historical mysteries. Catherine currently lives in Hawaii with her husband and youngest daughter.. ”

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