My return to blogging with slightly new directions

My return

I realize I’ve been absent from this blog for a while. I lost my desire to blog plus I’ve been busy. November and December are always the busiest months in our family. And I love all the family time and activities. I’ve spent January thinking about what I want to do with my blog and now I’m ready to begin again. I’m reinventing my blog just a little.

February is a good time to restart. It’s a cold day today (9 degrees at the moment), but a beautiful blue sky day just like the one below showing our backyard on New Year’s.

January 2018 backyard

I’m eager to return to my blog and blog friends. I’ve read some blogs during my hiatus, but not done much commenting. I’ve read books during my time off and that’s always a good thing. I managed to meet my 2017 Goodreads goal of 100 books which makes me happy. My 2018 goal is to read 90 books and I’m on-track for that.

New Directions

I plan to take my blog in a slightly new direction. I will keep my name, because let’s face it–I am a Readerholic! I don’t feel quite right unless I have a book I’m reading and thinking about.

However, I plan to talk more about some of my other interests–making greeting cards–usually using paper, rubber stamps and die cuts while listening to audiobooks while I create; my genealogy and family history research; perhaps some cooking and baking; and whatever else catches my interest.

A watercolor in progress on a pre-stamped card

I still plan to talk about books, but I probably won’t review the books I read though I may write a few lines about why I liked or didn’t like the book. That will be my goal anyway. I plan to participate in a few memes to talk about books and I want to write more opinion pieces–sometimes about books and sometimes not.

I’m going to see how it all goes. I’m giving myself permission not to review books and go in whatever direction I feel like going. I want to get the joy and fun back in my blogging. I hope some of my blogging friends come along with me, but I realize I’ve been gone–and never said I was stopping or whether I was returning. I just stopped communicating and I’m sorry about that. I understand if you’re not interested in returning or in following my new directions.

Plan to Reevaluate

I plan to reevaluate after about six months and see what I’m enjoying and what isn’t working for me, because at the end of the day this blog isn’t a business. I’m not making any money from it (no affiliates or advertising). I’m no longer accepting free e-Arcs from NetGalley. (I stopped that nearly a year ago in 2017.) I love having followers and people comment just as I love to read and comment about what other bloggers are doing, but I need to do what makes me happy–otherwise I won’t continue blogging. If people stop following and commenting I will either have to find a new audience or continue for my own enjoyment!

What do you think? Are you still enjoying your blog? (I hope so!) Can you tell if a blogger is enjoying what they’re writing about?

Hunting Hour by Margaret Mizushima

Hunting Hour by Margaret Mizushima

Timber Creek K-9  Mystery #3

Publication Date: August 8

e-ARC (from NetGalley and the publisher)

–All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Mystery, Police Procedural

Deputy Mattie Cobb is working through issues from her past and has withdrawn from Cole Walker and his family to focus on herself, when she and her K-9 partner Robo get called to track a missing junior high student. Until they find the girl on Smoker’s Hill behind the high school, dead. But that’s only the start of trouble in Timber Creek, because soon another girl goes missing–and this time it’s Sophie Walker. Hard as they search, Cole, Mattie, and Robo can’t find her anywhere. Mattie’s primary suspect, a strange man who lives near the wilderness area, calls to report he hears deer “screaming” in the woods. Suspecting the man might have lost touch with reality and be referring to something he’s done to Sophie, Mattie takes Robo into the dense pine forest, hoping to pick up a trace of her scent. But when Robo does catch Sophie’s trail, it leads them to another clue that challenges everything they thought they knew about the case. Now Mattie and Robo must rush to hunt down Sophie’s kidnapper before they’re too late in Hunting Hour, the third installment in critically acclaimed author Margaret Mizushima’s exhilarating mystery series. 

………………………..

My thoughts

This is the third book in this series and I like it as much as I do the other two. I like the setting in the Colorado Rockies and I like so many of the characters–especially Mattie Cobb and her partner Robo. Mattie and Robo continue to bond as partners and Robo continues to show how smart he is as he learns new skills. I love reading about K-9 dogs and the amazing things they can do.

Mattie has pulled away from colleagues and friends in this book as she tries to come to terms with problems from her past. Cole Walker and his children became important to Mattie, but she feels she can’t continue to see them since she feels so uncertain about herself. Cole likes Mattie and isn’t sure what’s going on since Mattie has shut down. Her problems are beginning to affect her work and professional life as well. Even Robo is affected by Mattie’s distraction and worries. I like the way the author shows Mattie’s problems and the ways she’s trying to understand and come to terms with her past.

Mattie and Robo do come together to do their job during this book. Robo is a great companion and friend to Mattie. He helps her heal. I also really like the friendships Mattie has made with her colleagues–especially Stella and Rainbow. And I like the way her working relationship has changed with Brody. In the first book there’s a lot of animosity between them. Both have grown and changed which is a really good part of these books. I like how Mizushima has handled the working relationships Mattie has. We have a number of well-rounded characters to read about.

Margaret Mizushima has become a favorite author as I’ve read these books. I look forward to reading many more in this series.

My recommendation

Have you read books in this series? I encourage you to do so if you enjoy mysteries, police procedurals and/or working dogs. I would start with the first book because all three are very good. I like that this is not a gritty series. Yes, there are murders and heartbreak (that isn’t sugar-coated), but the gory parts of the murder aren’t dwelled upon. I don’t want to get into the mind of a murderer. I don’t want to read pages and pages about the murder victim’s last moments or their horrific injuries. I’m not a lover of a psychological thriller. I enjoy reading about the friendships and professional relationships within a police department. I like the search for clues as they try to discover what happened and why. I like the books where justice is done. I don’t like to read about crooked cops–though I know they exist.

My rating: B+

A Peace Divided by Tanya Huff

A Peace Divided by Tanya Huff

Peacekeeper 2

Publication date: June 6

e-ARC (from NetGalley and the publisher)

–All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Military Science Fiction

The second book in the action-packed Peacekeeper series, a continuation of Tanya Huff’s military sci-fi Confederation series following Torin Kerr.

Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr had been the very model of a Confederation Marine. No one who’d ever served with her could imagine any circumstance that would see her walking away from the Corps.

Although the war is over, the fight goes on and the Justice Department finds its regular Wardens unable to deal with violence and the people trained to use it. Ex-Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr has a solution: Strike Teams made up of ex-military personnel, small enough to maneuver quickly, able to work together if necessary. Justice has no choice but to implement her idea and Torin puts her team of independent contractors back into uniform. It isn’t war, it is policing, but it often looks much the same.

When the scientists doing a preliminary archaeological dig on a Class Two planet are taken hostage, Torin’s team is sent to free them. The problem of innocents in the line of fire is further complicated by the fact that the mercenaries holding them are a mix of Confederation and Primacy forces, and are looking for a weapon able to destroy the plastic aliens who’d started and maintained the war.

If Torin weren’t already torn by wanting that weapon in play, she also has to contend with the politics of peace that have added members of the Primacy–former enemies–to her team. Before they confront the mercenaries, Torin will have to sift through shifting loyalties as she discovers that the line between”us” and “them” is anything but straight.

……………………..

My thoughts

I’ve read the first book in this series as well as the Confederation series where the saga of Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr began. Now she’s ex-Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr. Now she’s Warden Kerr and the Confederation is supposed to be at peace.

I love reading about Torin Kerr so I am very excited Huff has begun another series featuring Kerr and her compatriots. Kerr is no longer military. Now she and her team–mostly ex-military–are Wardens for the Justice Department. So even though the Confederation is at peace outbreaks of violence are not uncommon. The Confederation has the problem most governments have when they’ve been at war for years: a huge military is no longer needed so what happens to all the retired soldiers? How do they adapt? And if they can’t adapt what will they do to survive? This is exacerbated in the Confederation, because the three species known as the Younger Races (humans, Krai and di’Taykan) were brought into the Confederation specifically to fight the war for the original members of the Confederation who were too “evolved” to fight their own war. When the war ends with a whimper the Younger Races are unhappy since the Elder Races in the Confederation have always viewed them as too violent to have around. Groups like Humans First formed (they show up in An Ancient Peace–the first book in the Peacekeeper series).

I like that Huff shows Kerr has still not completely adapted to civilian life. She’s still troubled by all the death she’s seen–especially the deaths of her troops. She’s had counselling, she knows she still has problems, but like many soldiers she doesn’t like talking about her feelings or her innermost thoughts or problems. She’s doing better, but still has anger issues.

It is so nice that Huff has brought back a number of characters from the original series. Presit is one of my favorites. As always Presit is her lovable, annoying self. When she first appeared in the books I didn’t like her very much and she’s still annoying especially to Kerr, but she’s a fun character to read about. And she moves things along in the plot. Even though Kerr finds her annoying and doesn’t want the press and noncombatants along, Kerr and Presit have a grudging admiration for each other and like each other more than they admit.

It’s also great to see Craig still hanging in there with Kerr. He has his own problems he’s had to deal with. As a former civilian salvage operator he’s used to operating alone on a spaceship where he doesn’t see or interact with anyone for months at a time and no one invades his personal space. At one time he couldn’t tolerate anyone in his ship with him so he’s come a long way now that he’s a Warden and pilot of their ship. He is a counterpoint to Kerr’s military outlook. It is great to see both points-of-view.

I really like some of the Primacy forces who were the enemy in the original series–especially Firiv’vrak and Vertic–and hope we will see more of them in the future. Huff always does a good job making even the strangest sounding alien believable.

If you haven’t read any of the books in either the Confederation series (books 1 through 5) and the Peacekeeper series (books 1 and 2)  you could start with the Peacekeeper series, but don’t forego the pleasure of reading the Confederation series. So many adventures and so many twists plus the truth of war. Such good books!

My rating: B+

Watching the Detectives by Julie Mulhern

watching-the-detectives-julie-mulhernWatching the Detectives by Julie Mulhern

Series: The Country Club Murders #5

Publication date: May 23

e-ARC (from NetGalley and the publisher)

–All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Historical Mystery (1970’s Kansas City), Cozy

Ellison Russell wanted a decorator, not a corpse. Too bad she finds Mrs. White in the study killed with a revolver. Things go from bad to worse when she finds Mr. White in the dining room killed with a candlestick. With so many bodies, is it any wonder Detective Anarchy Jones’ new partner considers Ellison a suspect?

With the country club gossips talking a mile a minute, an unexpected cocktail party, a visit from Aunt Sis, and a romantic decision, Ellison hardly has time to think about murder. Unfortunately, the killer has plenty of time to think about her.

…………………………

My thoughts

I’ve read these books since Julie Mulhern started publishing them in 2015. They are such fun books to read. They have a lot of humor, but also sometimes a very serious side which is the case with this book. It’s a cozy and historical, but Mulhern adds some serious issues. I like that.

Ellison Russell

Ellison Russell has a strong voice. Mulhern does a good job through these books showing Ellison from the first book when she’s an unhappy wife, protective mother and downtrodden daughter, not too sure who she is to the present loving mother and daughter who is very much her own woman–self-confident and willing to stand up to her strong-willed mother. With each book Ellison comes to know herself a little more.

With Watching the Detectives Ellison makes some decisions about her future, deals with her disapproving mother, her rebellious daughter, infuriating Aunt Sis and two very different suitors. And, of course, Ellison finds more murders which a new detective teamed with Detective Anarchy Jones finds very suspicious.

Clue aka Cluedo

I like the use of “Mrs. White in the study with the revolver”–reminiscent of the board game Clue. (Called Clue in North America, but originally begun as Cluedo in 1949 in the UK. I had never heard of Cluedo before!) Although the book doesn’t explicitly mention the board game Aggie at one point tells Hunter, “Mrs. White in the study with a revolver.” (Note: This may have changed in the final copy).

1974 Kansas City, Missouri, USA

The historical aspect–1974 Kansas City, Missouri in the United States–makes this series especially interesting. Ellison comes from a wealthy background where people are expected to marry well, belong to the Country Club, where husbands golf, wives play bridge and don’t have jobs and no one causes scandal. Secrets are kept in families. However, times are starting to change: the 1960’s have already happened with the Vietnam War, peace protests and perhaps the biggest change–birth control. Women can have control of their bodies and even start having careers. They don’t have to get married and have a husband take care of them. However, I think the country club set was probably slow to change–especially the older generation such as Ellison’s mother.

The mystery

I thought the mystery was well written. There are contradictory clues plus I didn’t know what to think of Mrs. White. Not knowing the character of the victim made it harder to guess the why and who of the mystery. I did guess before the end of the story who did it, but it didn’t take away my enjoyment of the book at all.

If you haven’t read the preceding books in this series, you really should read them before reading this book–mostly because they are so good. I was a little unsure about Ellison in the first book–The Deep End–because I thought Ellison let so many people walk all over her. However, she grows a backbone as the series continues and becomes a character I love.

I hope there are more books in this series!

Book Rating: B+

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Review: Cold Welcome by Elizabeth Moon

Cold Welcome by Elizabeth Moon

Series: Vatta’s Peace #1

Publication date: April 11 in the US; April 13 in the UK

e-ARC (from NetGalley and the publisher)

–All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

cold-welcome-by-elizabeth-moon-uk
The UK cover

Science Fiction

After nearly a decade away, Nebula Award–winning author Elizabeth Moon makes a triumphant return to science fiction with this installment in a thrilling new series featuring the daring hero of her acclaimed Vatta’s War sequence.

Summoned to the home planet of her family’s business empire, space-fleet commander Kylara Vatta is told to expect a hero’s welcome. But instead she is thrown into danger unlike any other she has faced and finds herself isolated, unable to communicate with the outside world, commanding a motley group of unfamiliar troops, and struggling day by day to survive in a deadly environment with sabotaged gear. Only her undeniable talent for command can give her ragtag band a fighting chance.

Yet even as Ky leads her team from one crisis to another, her family and friends refuse to give up hope, endeavoring to mount a rescue from halfway around the planet—a task that is complicated as Ky and her supporters find secrets others will kill to protect: a conspiracy infecting both government and military that threatens not only her own group’s survival but her entire home planet.

…………………………

I have read most of Elizabeth Moon’s books through the years and love them. She writes really good stories and a lot of them are military science fiction which is what the Vatta’s War series is as well as the start of this new series (Vatta’s Peace). Elizabeth Moon served three years in the U.S. Marine Corps so she has a good knowledge of the military and uses that very well in her military science fiction.

BTW, I like both the covers, but I think the UK cover is especially nice. What about you? Which cover is your favorite?

Read Vatta’s War series first?

It’s been awhile since I read the last book in the Vatta’s War series and reading this book made me want to go back and reread that series! I think that will be one of my goals while I wait for the next book in the Vatta’s Peace series! I think a person who hasn’t read the Vatta’s War series can begin with this book, but if you read the Vatta’s War series first there are things you will understand better and this book will be richer and the backstory more understandable. Also reading this book will give away some of what happens during the Vatta’s War series.

My thoughts

Ky is now an Admiral as well as founder and commander of Space Defense Force, but most of this book takes place on the planet with Ky stranded in a very inhospitable place when her shuttle is sabotaged and crashes. The odds are against her and her fellow survivors living through the crash let alone surviving when they’re not found quickly, but Ky is very good at surviving. However, there are no communications in this area of the planet (near a failed terraforming continent). They’ve crashed into the ocean and the weather is very harsh (think Antarctica and its surrounding ocean in the winter) with the nearest military base far away and perhaps saboteurs among the survivors.

Ky is very much alone as she attempts to lead the survivors and keep everyone alive long enough for a rescue. She doesn’t know whom she can trust and no one lives near the area of the planet they crash in. This is very much a story of survival against all odds. Her family and friends don’t know if she is alive or not, but they continue to hope. However, most people both on planet and off assume all aboard the shuttle are dead.

The book alternates between Ky and her group, family and friends both on and off planet and her command structure in the Space Defense Force. I enjoyed all these POVs, but mostly wanted to know what was happening with Ky and how she would survive. Ky and her group move from crisis to crisis and there are lots of tense moments. She’s very ingenious and has a definite gift for command. No one knows for sure how far the sabotage goes or who’s involved. The Vatta family has been a target before and no one is sure they really found everyone involved in earlier conspiracies. Is this a new threat, an old threat or both?

A very good series beginning. This book is a complete story, but by the end there’s lots of room for more adventures. I’m hoping the next book has more of Ky and her friends and allies together. And more on her ship in space again.

My rating: B+

Have you read any of Elizabeth Moon’s science fiction? Or her fantasy?

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The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders

the-secrets-of-wishtide-by-kate-waundersThe Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders
Series: Laetitia Rodd Mystery #1
Genre: Historical Mystery
Setting: 1850-1851 England
Published by Bloomsbury USA
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: September 13)
–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.
352 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: Mrs. Laetitia Rodd, aged fifty-two, is the widow of an archdeacon. Living in Hampstead with her confidante and landlady, Mrs. Benson, who once let rooms to John Keats, Laetitia makes her living as a highly discreet private investigator.

Her brother, Frederick Tyson, is a criminal barrister living in the neighboring village of Highgate with his wife and ten children. Frederick finds the cases, and Laetitia solves them using her arch intelligence, her iron discretion, and her immaculate cover as an unsuspecting widow. When Frederick brings to her attention a case involving the son of the well-respected, highly connected Sir James Calderstone, Laetitia sets off for Lincolnshire to take up a position as the family’s new governess—quickly making herself indispensable.

But the seemingly simple case—looking into young Charles Calderstone’s “inappropriate” love interest—soon takes a rather unpleasant turn. And as the family’s secrets begin to unfold, Laetitia discovers the Calderstones have more to hide than most.

Initial impressions

  • I really enjoyed this book. It’s similar to a number of historical mysteries taking place in Victorian England, but has enough freshness to create a fun, memorable mystery.

Pluses

  • I like that Laetitia (Letty) is an older protagonist (52 years old) than most female protagonists in books.
  • The relationship between Letty and her brother is a nice one. And the antagonism between Laetitia and her sister-in-law is not unexpected. I also think that Laetitia and her brother working together makes sense. I also like the image of Letty’s brother Frederick–a renowned criminal barrister–at home with his wife and ten children!
  • Mary Bentley–Letty’s landlady–is a down-to-earth character and has become Letty’s friend as well as helping with Letty’s investigations.
  • I like that this isn’t the first investigation Letty has done for her brother. This provides more background for the book.
  • The book doesn’t pull any punches.
  • The book has a satisfying mystery.
  • The Calderstone family is interesting and it’s clear to Letty when she becomes a governess to the family that they have lots of secrets. I didn’t figure out all that was happening and was surprised several times during the book.
  • I like the little touches the author adds: that John Keats once lived in the house where Laetitia lives now, for example.
  • The way Laetitia remembers her husband is so nice to read about. They truly loved each other.

Minuses

  • By the end of the book there are many threads to the story. That might bother some readers. It didn’t keep me from enjoying the characters, story and mystery, however.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  •  I’m glad this is the first book in a new series. I look forward to the next book!

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

Author info (from Goodreads)

  • Kate Saunders (born 1960) is an English author, actress, and journalist. The daughter of the early public relations advocate Basil Saunders and his journalist wife Betty (née Smith), Saunders has worked for newspapers and magazines in the UK, including The Sunday Times, Sunday Express, Daily Telegraph, She, and Cosmopolitan.
  • She has also been a regular contributor to radio and television, with appearances on the Radio 4 programs Woman’s Hour, Start the Week, and Kaleidoscope. She was, with Sandi Toksvig, a guest on the first episode of the long-running news quiz program Have I Got News For You.
  • Saunders has also written multiple books for children and for adults.

Reading Challenges

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Stalking Ground by Margaret Mizushima

stalking-groundStalking Ground by Margaret Mizushima
Series: Timber Creek K-9 Mystery #2
Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural
Setting: Timber Creek, Colorado–the high country in Colorado
Published by Crooked Lane Books
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: September 13, 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.
320 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: When Deputy Ken Brody’s sweetheart goes missing in the mountains outside Timber Creek, Mattie Cobb and Robo are called to search. But it’s mid-October and a dark snow storm is brewing over the high country–and they’re already too late. By the time they find her body, the storm has broken and the snow is coming down hard.

While Brody hikes down to bring back the forensics team and veterinarian Cole Walker gathers supplies to protect them from the storm, Mattie and Robo find themselves alone, guarding the gravesite overnight in the dead of the early winter. And that’s only the first long, dark night in a series of them, because as their investigation develops, Mattie, Robo, Brody, and Cole find themselves in the middle of the killer’s stalking ground–with no way out unless they can catch a predator more deadly than any natural threat.

Initial impressions

  • A very good addition to the series.

Pluses

  • Mattie and Robo make a great team. I like that they’re coming to trust each other more.
  • Mattie has trouble trusting and relating to people sometimes, but I think because of Robo she’s growing more confident and making more friends.
  • When Mattie hears that Deputy Ken Brody’s girlfriend is missing she wonders if Adrienne didn’t just leave. Mattie finds Deputy Brody difficult to get along with and can’t imagine that being his girlfriend is easy.
  • However, the evidence mounts that Adrienne didn’t disappear on her own. And when her body is found Mattie finds herself beginning to understand Brody better and realize he loved Adrienne.
  • There’s a scary scene where Mattie and Robo are alone in the Colorado wilderness overnight guarding Adrienne’s body while Brody goes back to guide the forensic teams and others to the site.
  • I like that Mattie is beginning to make more friends and learning that friends will help–that she doesn’t have to do everything herself.
  • This isn’t a very gritty, dark mystery–and for me that’s a plus as I don’t like dark mysteries too much.
  • I like many of the characters in these books. And there are hints of romance to come in future books. But that doesn’t take over the story.

Minuses

  • I did have ideas of who the murderer is, but wasn’t sure of the motive. I still enjoyed the mystery and story.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • I’m hoping for a third book in this series. I hope it comes soon!

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

Author info

  • Margaret Mizushima has a background in speech pathology and practiced in an acute care hospital before establishing her own rehabilitation agency. Currently, she balances writing with assisting her husband with their veterinary clinic and Angus cattle herd. Her short story “Hay Hook” was published in the 2014 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers anthology Crossing Colfax. She enjoys reading and hiking, and she lives on a small ranch in Colorado where she and her husband raised two daughters and a multitude of animals. She can be found on Facebook/Author Margaret Mizushima, on Twitter @margmizu and on her website.

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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.

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Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

missing-presumed-by-susie-steinerMissing, Presumed by Susie Steiner
Series: Unknown
Genre: Mystery
Setting: Cambridgeshire, England
Published by Random House
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: June 28)
–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.
368 pages
Grade: C+
Synopsis: At thirty-nine, Manon Bradshaw is a devoted and respected member of the Cambridgeshire police force, and though she loves her job, what she longs for is a personal life. Single and distant from her family, she wants a husband and children of her own. One night, after yet another disastrous Internet date, she turns on her police radio to help herself fall asleep—and receives an alert that sends her to a puzzling crime scene.

Edith Hind—a beautiful graduate student at Cambridge University and daughter of the surgeon to the Royal Family—has been reported missing for nearly twenty-four hours. Her home offers few clues: a smattering of blood in the kitchen, her keys and phone left behind, the front door ajar but showing no signs of forced entry. Manon instantly knows this case will be big—and that every second is crucial to finding Edith alive.

The investigation starts with Edith’s loved ones: her attentive boyfriend, her reserved best friend, and her patrician parents. As the search widens and press coverage reaches a frenzied pitch, secrets begin to emerge about Edith’s tangled love life and her erratic behavior leading up to her disappearance. With no clear leads, Manon summons every last bit of her skill and intuition to close the case, and what she discovers will have shocking consequences not just for Edith’s family, but for Manon herself.

Suspenseful and keenly observed, Missing, Presumed is a brilliantly twisting novel of how we seek connection, grant forgiveness, and reveal the truth about who we are.

Initial impressions

  • Interesting, but not exactly the book I thought it was going to be. I thought it was more police procedural. Ended up more thriller and psychological.

The story

  • Edith Hind is missing. A small amount of blood is found in her house. Her door is unlocked, cell phone, car and personal items are left behind.
  • When her boyfriend returns from a weekend away and finds her gone, he notifies her parents and the police.
  • A huge search finds no sign of Edith alive or dead.
  • As the hours, days and weeks go by and the police find no real clues to her disappearance the police believe she must be dead.
  • Where is Edith and is she alive or dead?

Pluses

  • I don’t really enjoy thrillers or psychological mysteries which this book is more than it is a police procedural.
  • The book is told in a mix of present and past tense and from many points of view. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw is probably the main character, but we find out about the story from many others, too. At the beginning of each chapter the present tense aspect and switch in point-of-view jarred, but after a couple of paragraphs I got used to it. I think the author shows quite a bit of skill to write the book this way.
  • I found the story suspenseful and quite well-written.
  • It is more character study than mystery.
  • I don’t like Manon very well–which isn’t necessary for a book–though I like to connect with characters.
  • My favorite character is Davy, Manon’s partner. I like the way he views the world and how he see’s Manon. Though he certainly has his blind spots.

Minuses

  • Manon is a mess during much of the book. She’s 39 years old, but she hasn’t learned some of the basics of working in a team in the workplace, let alone as a detective sergeant in the police force. And her personal life is a mess. She does some stupid things both professionally and personally.
  • I thought the end of the book ties up all the strings in this book much too easily. And I’m offended by one of the characters at the end of the book.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • This isn’t really the type of mystery I enjoy. I think that’s at least part of the reason I didn’t like the book as much as other readers.
  • I did find parts of it interesting and suspenseful. However, this is not quite my chosen genre.

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

Author info

  • Susie Steiner grew up in north London and studied English at York University, which is when she first fell in love with north Yorkshire, in particular the north York Moors national park, which was the setting for her first novel, Homecoming. Homecoming was published by Faber & Faber to critical acclaim in 2013.
  • She worked for national papers as a news reporter. She left reporting when her first novel sold.
  • Her second novel, Missing, Presumed, is a bestselling thriller with Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw at its heart. Missing, Presumed is based in Cambridgeshire. She worked closely with Cambridgeshire police during the writing of this and the next Manon book.
  • She lives with her husband and two sons in north London.

Reading Challenges

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

the-invisible-library-by-genevieve-cogmanThe Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
Series: The Invisible Library #1
Genre: Fantasy
Setting: Inside the Library and in alternate worlds
Published by Roc
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: June 14)
–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.
352 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction…

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it’s already been stolen.

London’s underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself.

Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself…

Initial impressions

  • So many things caught my attention about this book–the Library aspect, the adventure of finding books and bringing them back to the Library. I enjoyed the book–with a few caveats!

The story

  • Book begins with Irene in an alternate world stealing a book for the shadowy Library. She gets away and back to the Library, but not before she is chased to the portal to the Library.
  • She reports in and immediately receives a new assignment. And she is assigned a student to mentor. She had hoped for some down time in the Library, but she heads off into the Library to meet Kai, the student she must take with her and mentor.
  • When she meets Kai he is rather mysterious. Their assignment is to an alternate London which is chaos-infested. Irene is puzzled that she is being sent there with a student.
  • In a chaos world reality is changed enough to allow supernatural beings and magic. This makes the world unpredictable and dangerous.
  • On their way to the portal for the alternate world they are intercepted by another spy who wants Irene to hand over her assignment. Irene has a history with this spy and doesn’t trust her.
  • Irene and Kai enter the alternate London, meet their colleague stationed in this world who briefs them about the world and start trying to retrieve the book.
  • They immediately run into problems which escalate–mostly because of the chaos in this world.
  • Irene tries to figure out exactly what Kai is hiding as well as trying to unravel the mystery of where the stolen book is. Can she trust Kai?
  • She receives an urgent message that a dangerous renegade Librarian is present in this alternate London.
  • Irene and Kai must unravel the mysteries, decide who to trust and survive to get the book back to the Library.

Pluses

  • The chaos world Irene and Kai are sent to is interesting. I think there is lots more to learn about it in future books.
  • The ability to move through many worlds is very exciting to read about.
  • Reading about a huge invisible library is very awesome!
  • I enjoyed learning more about Irene and Kai during the book. Each of them have vulnerabilities, but lots of strength of character, too.
  • Lots of chaotic things happen during the book both because of the world they are in, the characters they meet in that world and the renegade from the Library who infiltrates the world.
  • There’s a steampunk vibe to the world Kai and Irene are in which I enjoy.
  • There’s mystery to the story and even a detective from the world they’re in whom they join forces with.
  • Kai is still mysterious by the end of the book and I look forward to getting to know more about him.
  • I want to learn more about the Library. I have a feeling the motives of the Library and some of the people working there may not be as pure as Irene thinks.

Minuses

  • This read more like a young adult book, but it doesn’t seem like it should be YA since Irene has lived quite a while already. Irene doesn’t seem as self-confident and experienced as I would expect and Kai acts like a teenager. I’m not sure the romance vibe between them works.
  • I feel like this first book throws lots of concepts and setup of the worlds at the reader which we will understand better as we read more books. This made things kind of confusing, but after a bit I just went with the flow!

And concluding thoughts . . .

  •  The next book in this series–The Masked City–comes out in the United States in September!
  • I want to find out what happens next!

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

Author info

  • Genevieve Cogman got started on Tolkien and Sherlock Holmes at an early age, and has never looked back. But on a perhaps more prosaic note, she has an MSC in Statistics with Medical Applications and has wielded this in an assortment of jobs: clinical coder, data analyst and classifications specialist. Although The Invisible Library is her debut novel, she has also previously worked as a freelance roleplaying game writer. Genevieve Cogman’s hobbies include patchwork, beading, knitting and gaming, and she lives in the north of England.

Reading Challenges