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: Farmer in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein

farmer in the sky by robert heinleinFarmer in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein

Series: Heinlein’s Juveniles #4

Genre: Science Fiction

Setting: Ganymede

Source: Audiobook, purchased (6 hours, 34 minutes)

Narrator: Nick Podehl

Publishing Date: 1950

174 pages

Synopsis: Bill Lermer, a resourceful matter-of-fact teenager of the 21st century, tells what happens when his family decide to leave Earth and try scientific farming on Ganymede, one of the moons of Jupiter. 
After a two-month flight through space, including collision with a meteorite, only danger and hardship await the new colonists. But even a hair-raising adventure in the cave of The Other People cannot persuade Bill to return Earthside.

My thoughts

Farmer in the Sky won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1951. I can see why. It’s entertaining and doesn’t read like an antique book! It also reminded me of The Martian by Andy Weir. (I’m sure other people have made that comparison!) I think it’s my favorite so far of the Heinlein Juveniles I’ve read recently. In the last couple of years I’ve read five of the twelve books Heinlein specifically wrote for young people. I also read most of them when I was a teenager, but that was many years ago! I’m really enjoying revisiting them.

Farmer in the Sky

Bill, his dad George and his stepmother and stepsister decide to emigrate to Ganymede because Earth is overcrowded with rationing and limited choices. However, they aren’t quite ready for what they find when they get to Ganymede. It’s a lot more primitive than they thought it would be. Life on Ganymede isn’t always easy, but the family works together to succeed. Bill becomes a farmer and George works in town as an engineer so they can afford to get the farm started. It’s hard work, but they have a goal and are willing to work for it. It’s a rough life and they have their tragedies, but also their triumphs.

I’m fascinated at the details Heinlein added to this book about how the terraforming worked and how the settlers manage to live (or not live) on Ganymede. And I like the other familiar touches the author uses. Bill was an Eagle Scout on Earth and he discovers there are scout troops on Ganymede. He joins a troop and learns all sorts of helpful tips about living and surviving on a planet earthlings didn’t evolve on. He also meets other farmers and learns how to farm . . . what a hard job farming is, but also the satisfaction of hard work. He learns about self-sufficiency, but also how to accept help when he needs it and give help to his neighbors when they need it.

Audiobook

I listened to the audiobook and really like Nick Podehl’s narration. He does a good job with the different voices. He has a strong voice which is especially good with the male voices. And he’s easy to understand–always a plus!

Bottom Line

This is an excellent book for young teens, but also a great book for adults–particularly if you like classic science fiction.

My Rating: B+

Narrator Rating: B+

Awards

Hugo Award for Best Novel (1951)

Have you read any books by this author?

Reading Challenges

Swords and Stars Reading Challenge hosted by MsNoseinaBook — Read a science fiction classic

Review: Blood Hollow by William Kent Kreuger

Blood Hollow by William Kent Kreuger

Blood Hollow by William Kent Kreuger

Series: Cork O’Connor #4

Genre: Mystery

Setting: Northern Minnesota

Source: Audiobook, Library (11 hours, 15 hours)

Narrator: David Chandler

Publishing Date: 2004

512 pages

Synopsis: When the corpse of a beautiful high school student is discovered on a hillside four months after her disappearance on New Year’s Eve, all evidence points to her boyfriend, local bad boy Solemn Winter Moon. Despite Solemn’s self-incriminating decision to go into hiding, Cork O’Connor, Aurora, Minnesota’s former sheriff, isn’t about to hang the crime on a kid he’s convinced is innocent. In an uphill battle to clear Solemn’s name, Cork encounters no shortage of adversity. Some — like bigotry and bureaucracy — he knows all too well. What Cork isn’t prepared for is the emergence of a long-held resentment from his own childhood. And when Solemn reappears, claiming to have seen a vision of Jesus Christ in Blood Hollow, the mystery becomes thornier than Cork could ever have anticipated. And that’s when the miracles start happening….

My thoughts

I read the first three of this series in 2017 and really liked them. I’ve meant to get back to the series and finally did. I listened to the audiobook and though it was 11 hours long it only took about three days to finish it! The narrator is great and the mystery is very good. It kept me guessing! Just like Cork I had many suspects throughout the course of the book!

The setting in the series is also one I really like. The books take place in northern Minnesota among lakes and forests. The main character is the former sheriff of his county and is part Irish and part Ojibwe Indian. The Ojibwe people and culture play a big part in these books and I love that. Cork O’Connor is very human, makes mistakes, but has strong ethical beliefs. He was raised Catholic, but no longer goes to church. Things happened in earlier books that caused him to doubt the existence of God. This book really explores different beliefs as well as miracles and spirituality. What is real when it comes to God? And how do we really know? How do we interpret “signs” from God? Are they real or not? Is God real? I like how this book talks about these things during the course of this mystery without preaching and without taking anything away from the mystery.

I also like that these books have lots about the relationships of the characters–especially Cork’s family. They have their ups-and-downs in and they’re not perfect, but they love each other. Cork has Ojibwe friends as well as white friends. There are tensions between the two groups of people in this book (as in earlier books), but Cork tries to have good relations with both groups.

I recommend this series if you like mysteries set in interesting places along with compelling characters and ideas.

My Rating: B+

Narrator Rating: B+

Awards

Anthony Award for Best Novel (2005)

Have you read any books by this author?

Reading Challenges

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

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge hosted by the POPSUGAR website — A book I borrowed (from the library)

Review: Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

Series: Unknown

Genre: Mystery

Setting: Iowa

Source: Audiobook, Library

Narrator: Julia Whelan

Publishing Date: 2017

296 pages

Synopsis: When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters–her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora. Now, two years later and with the help of her hearing dog, Stitch, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, deep in the woods near her cabin, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again.

As clues begin to surface, Amelia finds herself swept into an investigation that hits all too close to home. But how much is she willing to risk in order to uncover the truth and bring a killer to justice?

My thoughts

This is the first time I’ve read any books by Heather Gudenkauf, but I want to read more. I really enjoyed this story about a woman who lost her hearing in an accident. Her life fell apart after that–she lost her nursing job, she started drinking, her marriage fell apart, she no longer can see her step-daughter as often as she’d like to and she’s estranged from most of her friends. I like that this book feels authentic. The author doesn’t pull any punches.

Background

Two years after her accident Amelia is finally getting her life back together, but it hasn’t been easy. She’s living alone except for her hearing dog, Stitch. She’s applied for a job, but not as a nurse. She loves nursing, but she can’t go back to that yet. She’s joined AA and struggles daily to remain sober. However, she is staying sober.

She does get the job though she missed the first interview when she found a murder victim. The murder victim turns out to be a nurse that Amelia was good friends with before her accident. After the accident she shut out most people. Gwen, the murdered woman, had reached out to Amelia on several occasions–the last time a month or so before–but Amelia ignored her. Since Amelia knew Gwen she’s more drawn to try to find out why Gwen was murdered. There are lots of clues and it’s hard to know why Gwen was murdered. Some strange and scary things happen to Amelia, too–though maybe they’re just her imagination.

Narrator

The mystery is really good. There are a number of parts I thought were scary, but it didn’t stop me from continuing to listen feverishly. I liked the narrator of this audiobook–Julia Whelan. She’s easy to understand though maybe a little too matter-of-fact sometimes. However, I would listen to another book she narrates.

The characters

The fact that Amelia can’t hear really ramps up the suspense in the story. I like that Amelia is determined to be self-sufficient and manage her own life. Stitch is fun to read about. For the most part, he’s a great companion and pretty good hearing dog. He isn’t as obedient as I would have expected though he does come through when he needs to. I was a little surprised he was a hearing dog since he doesn’t always listen too well to Amelia. (That is acknowledged in the book.)

Jake is Amelia’s best friend and the one who has helped her the most to come to terms with her life. He’s a police officer and solidly behind her. Jake was her brother’s best friend and Amelia tagged along behind them–much to their chagrin. She had a crush on him when she was young. Amelia’s husband, David, is still in Amelia’s life. They’re separated, but not divorced. David allows Amelia to have supervised visits with her stepdaughter, but is not very helpful or understanding of what Amelia has gone through.

I’d love to read another book with these characters. However, it doesn’t look like Ms. Gudenkauf writes sequels. I recommend this book–especially if you like mysteries, dogs, people overcoming handicaps and good stories.

My Rating: B+

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!

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge hosted by the POPSUGAR website — A book by a local author (Iowa)

Mini reviews: from Ben Arronovitch’s Peter Grant series

I read several stories in Ben Arronovitch’s Peter Grant series since the first of the year. I’ve grouped them together since they are all short works. One is a novella, one a graphic novel and the other a short audiobook. I’ve also only written mini reviews for each work.

The Furthest Station by Ben Arronovitch

Series: Peter Grant #5.5

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Police Procedural, Novella

Setting: England

129 pages

Synopsis: There have been ghosts on the London Underground, sad, harmless spectres whose presence does little more than give a frisson to travelling and boost tourism. But now there’s a rash of sightings on the Metropolitan Line and these ghosts are frightening, aggressive and seem to be looking for something.

My thoughts

This is short, but the author tells a complete story. I enjoyed reading about ghosts on the London Underground. Mostly the ghosts on the Underground are harmless, but now there are more ghosts appearing and they’re very aggressive. They’re scaring passengers so PC Peter Grant is sent to investigate. This is a quick read and a good one for Peter Grant fans.

My Rating: B+

Rivers of London: Body Work by Ben Aaronovitch & Andrew Cartmel

Series: Peter Grant/Rivers of London Graphic Novels #1

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Graphic Novel

Setting: England

Synopsis: Peter Grant having become the first English Apprentice wizard in fifty years must immediately deal with two different but ultimately inter-related cases.In one he must find what is possessing ordinary people and turning them into vicious killers and in the second he must broker a peace between the two warring gods of the River Thames.

My thoughts

This is the first graphic novel I’ve read in a while and I enjoyed it. I think the fact that I read the Peter Grant print series helped me understand the characters better in the graphic novel–especially since I don’t read graphic novels very often. This graphic novel is a new story, not just a retelling of a story in the print series. I like that a lot. It’s always fun to read a new Peter Grant story and the illustrations gave the story a different dimension. I still like print stories better than a graphic novel since I like to picture the events in my head as I’m reading. However, it’s always nice to broaden my horizons a bit.

My Rating: B

A Rare Book of Cunning Device by Ben Aaronovitch

Series: Peter Grant #6.5

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Audiobook

Narrator: Kobna Holdbrook-Smith

Length: 29 minutes

Setting: The British Library

Synopsis: Somewhere amongst the shadowy stacks and the many basements of the British library, something is very much amiss – and we’re not talking late returns here. Is it a ghost, or something much worse? PC Peter Grant really isn’t looking forward to finding out….

My thoughts

This is very short–only 29 minutes–but it’s fun and I enjoyed listening to the audio. I haven’t listened to any of the other books in this series. The narrator is excellent and makes me want to listen to the next book in the series rather than read it.

Within a minute or two of the start of the story something larger than Peter’s dog Toby and with lots of legs runs past and the librarian asks “Tell me that wasn’t a spider?” When Peter reassures her it wasn’t, the librarian comments, “Thank God for that. I can’t stand spiders.” This is funny and a bit of a creepy story!

My Rating: B

Have you read any of the Peter Grant series? How do you like it?

Reading Challenges

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

Swords and Stars Reading Challenge hosted by MsNoseinaBook — Read an SFF graphic novel 

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.

Putting the mystery into historical

Delivering the Truth by Edith Maxwell

Quaker Midwife Mystery #1

Setting: 1888, Massachusetts mill town

Narrator: Michael Page

Rose Carroll is the Quaker midwife and I really enjoyed reading about her. The life of a midwife in that era is fascinating as is reading about Quaker life in this town. I think she is something of an anomaly since she’s a midwife and unmarried at 26, but she sticks to her beliefs without being obnoxious. Rose boards with her brother-in-law and family. Her sister died not too long before the book starts and Rose helps with cooking and cleaning when she can as do the oldest children. She also wants to help her sister’s children. She’s also able to have office space in the house to meet with her pregnant women clients.

She and a local doctor like each other and I can see that could be a problem for her. The doctor comes from a well-to-do family and his mother is not at all happy about Rose. Plus I think her Quaker faith and belief in a simple life will become a problem. So that is a set-up for problems for them in the future!

I am busy working on my family history this year and I have several ancestors who were Quakers so I found this book very interesting since I don’t know a lot about the Quakers as a group. I am reading more so I can know my family’s social history as well as genealogy. Even though this is fiction much of the Quaker lifestyle feels authentic.

Ms. Maxwell does a good job with the mystery. I found it interesting and thought Rose’s involvement with it made sense. There is a fire in a carriage factory and one of the people who dies in the fire is a fellow Quaker. Because Rose is so involved in both the Quaker and non-Quaker communities she hears a lot as she helps women from all parts of society when they’re pregnant and giving birth. Then the son of a carriage maker is murdered and one of Rose’s knitting needles is the murder weapon. Now she’s definitely involved!

I listened to the audiobook version of this (on Audible) and really enjoyed it. Michael Page did a very good job narrating.

I found this book interesting with a very good mystery!

Narrator rating: B+

Rating: B+

A Question of Inheritance by Elizabeth Edmondson

A Very English Mystery #2

Setting: England, 1953

I read the first book in this series in 2015 and really enjoyed it so I finally got this one read it was great, too! Hugo Hawksworth was an intelligence officer who worked in the field until he was badly injured during a mission. Now he’s on desk duty which he doesn’t enjoy very much. Hugo’s latest assignment is to find out about missing artwork and the possible involvement of a British officer in the aftermath of WWII.

Hugo and his 13-year-old sister Georgia have managed to board in Selchester Castle which has been pretty much empty since the Earl disappeared during a snowstorm seven years earlier (read book 1!). Georgia and Hugo still live at the castle, but a new Earl (an American!) is arriving with his two daughters so Georgia and Hugo are looking for a new place to live. Right now they’re still at the castle and will probably get to stay until after Christmas.

The Earl and his two daughters arrive as well as Lady Sonia (the new Earl’s half-sister who isn’t happy she’s been disinherited). Lady Sonia brings a couple of guests for Christmas. Freya who was the former Earl’s niece (and was a prominent character in the first book) is also present as is the cook and housekeeper–Mrs. Partridge. There’s a lot of tension in the castle and then a death occurs. Hugo and Freya (and Georgia) work to figure out what’s going on.

I enjoyed the mystery a lot. These books are cozy mysteries as well as historical mysteries. I’m really looking forward to the third book which comes out in October 2017.

Rating: B+

Have you read either of these books? Do you like historical mysteries? If you do I think you might like one of these!

Who done it?

This year I’m trying something different with the books I read. I’m not going to do a separate review for every book I read. I need to shake-up my blog a bit and this is one way I’ve decided to do it.

These are some of the mysteries I’ve read since the first of the year.

Real Murders and A Bone to Pick by Charlaine Harris (Aurora Teagarden series #1 & 2)

Audiobook, purchased, narrated by Thérèse Plummer

Charlaine Harris wrote a new book–Sleep Like a Baby–in this series last fall. I had considered rereading some of the mysteries she wrote before she started writing the Sookie Stackhouse series.

A new book in the Aurora Teagarden series was impetus to start with that series. I own most of the paperbacks in this series and had bought the audio edition of the the first book–Real Murders–which I listened to last fall. I like the narration of this book. I didn’t really remember too much about Real Murders or A Bone to Pick even though I had read them years ago.

Real Murders revolves around Roe Teagarden’s membership in the Real Murders Club. The members are interested in true crime–especially historical cases. Each member tends to specialize in a particular murderer and murders. It’s great fun until the members of the club start dying. The deaths resemble the murders of some of their favorite murderers.

I don’t like true crime so I found their pastime morbid and icky. I did enjoy reading about Roe and the rest of the characters as well as the mystery.

Rating: B-

Paperback, purchased

In A Bone to Pick the Real Murders Club has disbanded and Roe inherits an estate from one of the former members of the club. Inheriting the estate isn’t all roses, however. Roe has many questions. She not only inherits her friend’s house and money, but everything in the house including a skull which was cleverly hidden. Why did her friend leave her all this money and the house? They weren’t that close. Why is the skull hidden in the house? Where is the rest of the body. Did her friend kill someone? Why did someone break into the house?

I like this series. Roe is an engaging character and I like the Southern vibe. (I don’t live in the South. If I lived there that vibe might irritate me!) I like the fact that Roe moves along in her life from the first book to the second book. She embraces the fact that she has inherited an estate and uses that to change things in her life. I also enjoy many of the other recurring characters in the book.

An enjoyable, light read.

Rating: B

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Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths (Ruth Galloway #5)

E-audiobook from the library, narrated by Clare Corbett

dying-fall-by-elly-griffiths

I’ve read three books in this series since the beginning of the year. It’s hard not to gobble them all up since I like this series so much. However, I want to space them out and really savor them! I’ve listened to a few books in this series and really like the narrations.

This book is mostly set in the north of England–in Blackpool–where Harry Nelson is from. Harry and his wife Michelle are there visiting their families. He also visits his old police friends and gets involved in their cases. He also realizes he and his old friends don’t have much in common anymore. It’s always hard to realize that you no longer understand old friends.

Ruth also travels north to investigate what might be King Arthur’s bones. One of Ruth’s old friends discovered the bones, but then died in a house fire. Cathbad comes along and helps take care of Ruth’s toddler daughter Kate. Of course, awkwardness occurs when Ruth and Kate accidentally meet up with Harry and Michelle Nelson.

Sometimes the mood in this book is bittersweet and a number of things change for a number of the characters in this book. The suspense kept me listening as fast as I could!

Rating: B+

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The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths (Ruth Galloway #6)

E-book, purchased

This book continues some of the events which happened to characters in the last book. I like that we learn more about a number of continuing characters throughout these books. They change during these books as well as the main characters. Lots happens to some of the characters in this book.

I like the way Elly Griffiths ties the historical aspects of her books into the present day aspects. She makes them very relevant to her story.

This was a difficult book for me since children are in danger. I don’t like that kind of suspense very well. However, this is a good mystery and I did enjoy it. Still one of my favorite mystery series.

Rating: B

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Dead Man’s Fancy by Keith McCafferty (Sean Stranahan #3)

Trade paperback, purchased (bought in the Country Bookshelf in downtown Bozeman, Montana when we took our road trip last fall)

Sean is an interesting character. He’s originally from the Northeast, but moved to Montana after his marriage failed. He has discovered he fits in so much better than he did in the Northeast. He’s been a fly fisherman since he was a child and he did some private detective work where he lived before.

He’s also an artist so in Montana he sets up a studio where he paints, but also advertises his detective services. He gets a few cases as well as selling some paintings. He meets Sheriff Martha Ettinger during his first investigation–The Royal Wulff Murders. Martha shows up in all the books and the books have a police procedural vibe.

The books revolve around fly fishing and Montana. Each book is named after a named fly tie which has something to do with the murder. I like that aspect. The author is a wildlife writer for outdoor magazines and does a great job with not only the mysteries, but also with the fly fishing aspect of the books. I like reading about the outdoors and fishing. I grew up in Oregon and spent lots of time with my parents camping, hiking and fishing. Other people might not enjoy the fishing aspects of the books so much.

This book has lots of aspects to it. The tension between environmentalists and ranchers as well as wolf lovers and wolf haters. A woman searching for her missing sister. And just who was the missing woman? There are so many contradictions to her. Dead Man’s Fancy has lots of twists and turns which I enjoyed. It’s hard to know exactly what is important and what isn’t.

Rating: B+

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The Armada Boy by Kate Ellis (Wesley Peterson #2)

E-book, Purchased

I recently reviewed the first book in this series–The Merchant’s House.

The mystery of the murder of a WWII American veteran keeps my interest and I find the detective team interesting.

I’m still not completely convinced yet about the archaeology aspects of these books. I do like the excerpts written by a character in this book at the beginning of each chapter talking about the “invasions” in this part of England which tie the Armada invasion with the WWII invasion of American soldiers. Even though the American were allies they completely disrupted life in this part of the world as  the Armada survivors might have done. The American allies weren’t always seen as a positive influence during or after WWII.

I really like the contemporary portions–the mystery and characters make for a good story. I’m looking forward to reading more books in this series.

Rating: B-

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Have you read any of these books? How did you like them?

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Review: The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson

The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson

Walt Longmire #1

Audiobook, purchased

Contemporary Mystery, Police Procedural

Walt Longmire, sheriff of Wyoming’s Absaroka County, knows he’s got trouble when Cody Pritchard is found dead. Two years earlier, Cody and three accomplices had been given suspended sentences for raping a Northern Cheyenne girl. Is someone seeking vengeance? Longmire faces one of the more volatile and challenging cases in his twenty-four years as sheriff and means to see that revenge, a dish that is best served cold, is never served at all.

………………

TV series. I’ve watched some of the Longmire TV series on Netflix and enjoyed it so I decided to start reading some of the books.

I really like Walt Longmire. Of course, since I’ve watched the TV show my thoughts are colored by watching that series. To me Robert Taylor (Walt Longmire), Lou Diamond Phillips (Henry Standing Bear) and Katee Sackhoff (Victoria “Vic” Moretti) seem perfect for their roles. These main characters are very familiar after watching the TV series. As I read more of the books I’ll have to decide if I continue to think that.

Narrator. When I started listening to the audiobook I didn’t like the narrator (George Guidall) very well. However, by the end of the book I decided he did a good job. I really like the different voices he uses for different characters. I have the second book as an audiobook, too, so I will get to listen to him again and make a further evaluation.

My thoughts. Walt seems depressed through much of the book. (That may be why I didn’t like the narrator to begin with.) The murders of young men convicted of rape (but given suspended sentences) of a young native American girl several years before is an absorbing mystery. It’s hard not to want vengeance for the young girl. But Walt has to find a murderer even if he abhorred the original crime.

Even though Walt is depressed he still has a personal code, belief in justice and he does his job. Henry Standing Bear is a good friend–even when Walt sometimes doesn’t want a friend. It’s nice to see such a strong friendship.

The book has a lot of wry, self-deprecating humor–mostly Walt’s.

There are only three major vote getting days in Absoroka County, and I can’t remember the other two. “Oh God, no. It’s Pancake Day.” I thought about shooting myself. I could see the headlines: Sheriff shoots self, unable to face pancakes.

I like the mysticism that sometimes shows through in the story. Henry Standing Bear takes it for granted, but Walt isn’t always comfortable when he comes face-to-face with it.

I sometimes forgot about how spiritual Henry was. I had been raised as a Methodist where the highest sacrament was the bake sale.

The story and mystery are absorbing right to the end. The time Walt and Henry spend on the mountain is absorbing reading. I grew up in Central Oregon so mountains and winter were often scary times when people were lost in the mountains. I also have many relatives in Eastern Oregon who are ranch owners so I’m familiar with western lands and cowboys. When my husband and I drove through Wyoming and Montana in September 2016 the land seemed so familiar to me. Sometimes I long to step into the fictional land of books like Craig Johnson writes–the lands where a cowboy code often still exists.

I have the second book in the series and want to read it soon.

Rating: B

Have you read books in this series? Or have you watched the TV series?

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

the-firebird-by-susanna-kearsleyThe Firebird by Susanna Kearsley
Narrated by Katherine Kellgren
Series: Slains #2
Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: Scotland, Belgium, Russia
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark , 2013
Audiobook, purchased
539 pages
14 hours, 37 minutes
Grade: A-
Narrator grade: A
Synopsis: Nicola Marter was born with a gift. When she touches an object, she sometimes glimpses those who have owned it before. When a woman arrives with a small wooden carving at the gallery Nicola works at, she can see the object’s history and knows that it was named after the Firebird—the mythical creature from an old Russian fable.

Compelled to know more, Nicola follows a young girl named Anna into the past who leads her on a quest through the glittering backdrops of the Jacobites and Russian courts, unearthing a tale of love, courage, and redemption.

There are times when our victories have a cost that we did not foresee, when winning brings us loss.

and

“If we cannot be what we were born to be–the whole of it–we die a little on the inside every day we live the lie. I’d die for you in every other way,” he told me quietly, “but not like that….”

Initial impressions

  • I love this book. And I love that we hear about and meet a few of the same characters from The Winter Sea.

Cheers

  • The narration by Katherine Kellgren is excellent.
  • I love the songs sprinkled throughout the audio version of the book. The narrator sings them and it’s lovely.
  • This book is similar to The Winter Sea in the sense that the story has both contemporary and historical story lines.
  • This book is called Slains #2, but I think it can be read as a standalone book.
  • I can understand why Nicola doesn’t want to publicize her gift–that she can sense things from objects when she holds them.
  • Rob is such a likable character–someone I would want as a friend. He really cares about Nicola, but he wants her to accept who she is. Even so, he’s willing to go to Russia with her and try to help her.
  • I love the part of the story in Russia–both in the past and in the present.
  • Parts of the book are heartbreaking–especially the story in the past. The story about Anna is from the time she’s a little girl until she’s a young woman. She is wonderful to read about. The narrator really brings her to life and though she goes through many trials she still emerges a happy and optimistic young woman.
  • I love the way Ms. Kearsley writes. Her writing is really lovely–very poetic. Makes me happy to read or listen to. She makes me care so much for the characters. Sometimes I’m crying and sometimes I’m just so happy to read about these characters.
  • I think I like The Winter Sea a little better than The Firebird.

Jeers

  • None I can think of!

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I was so happy to listen to this book. The narrator is excellent and Susanna Kearsley’s writing is excellent. I’m looking forward to reading some more of her books.

Awards

  • RITA Award by Romance Writers of America for Best Paranormal Romance (2014)
  • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fantasy (2013)

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

Author info

  • Susanna Kearsley studied politics and international development at university, and has worked as a museum curator.
  • Her first novel Mariana won the prestigious Catherine Cookson Literary Prize and launched her writing career. Susanna continued her mix of the historical and paranormal in novels The Splendour Falls, Named of the Dragon, Shadowy Horses and Season of Storms.
  • Susanna Kearsley also writes classic-style thrillers under the name of Emma Cole.

Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Audiobook Challenge–hosted by Hot Listens and The Book Nympho blogs
  • TBR Pile Challenge–hosted by the Bookish blog
  • Ultimate Reading Challenge–hosted by the Popsugar blog (a book set in a different country–Great Britain (Scotland) & Russia)