Thoughts about books I’ve read–Jan 2018

I’m trying something a little different for some of my reviews this year. I’ve only done a few stand-alone reviews so far this year so I’m going to do a post about the books I read each month, I will list all the books I read (in this case January 2018) and write a few sentences about each one and give a link to the review if I’ve already reviewed the book. I really want to get my reviews under control.

The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch

The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch

Series: Peter Grant #5.5

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Novella

Source: Ebook, purchased

129 pages

My Rating: B+

Reviewed: April 19

Bottom Line: A quick read, but a satisfying story. Great for Peter Grant fans.

;The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine ArdenThe Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Series: Winternight Trilogy #1

Genre: Historical Fantasy, FairyTale Retelling

Source: Audiobook, library (11 hours, 48 minutes)

Narrator: Kathleen Gati

346 Pages

My thoughts

I listened to the audiobook and loved the narrator. She does a really good job with this historical fantasy. I think this is a good book to listen to since it’s a fairy tale retelling and I think fairy tales are great to read aloud. It reminded me of when my mother would read fairy tales to me when I was a child–especially ones like “East o’ the Sun, West o’ the Moon.”

The story kept me guessing about how it would end especially since fairy tales told by Hans Christian Anderson or the Brothers Grimm do not always end well for the main characters. The setting is in a fantasy medieval Russia–very exotic. This has so many fairy tale images–a stepmother and stepsisters, a nanny who tells the old stories of magic and spirits and how the smart people honor these spirits. Vasilisa loves the old stories and follows her nanny’s teachings which puts her in opposition to her stepmother. A wonderful story with memorable characters . . . a true tribute to fairy tales.

My Rating: A

Narrator Rating: A

A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna RaybournA Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn

Series: Veronica Speedwell #2

Genre: Historical Mystery

Source: Ebook, library

338 Pages

My thoughts

I read the first book in the series when it came out. I’ve read a number of Deanna Raybourn books through the years and enjoyed them. I liked the first book in the series more than this one–maybe the setting seemed newer to me in the first book. However, that may have more to do with me and my mood when I read this one. I do like the main characters–Veronica Speedwell and Stoker. (The books remind me a little of Jayne Ann Krentz’s books when she writes books set in the 1800s using the pseudonym Amanda Quick.)

This is quick, fun, light reading. However, I’m not sure I’ll read the next book  since this didn’t holding my interest as much as the first book.

My Rating: B-

Evan Help Us by Rhys BowenEvan Help Us by Rhys Bowen

Series: Constable Evans #2

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Source: Audiobook, purchased (6 hours, 52 minutes)

Narrated by Roger Clark

223 Pages

My thoughts

This is a series Rhys Bowen wrote before her Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness series. I love the setting in Wales and Evan Evans is a very fun character. (He reminds me of Hamish in the Hamish MacBeth series by M.C Beaton.)

I like the cover of this book since the story is about someone in the village finding ruins. The villagers immediately begin thinking the ruins must be a castle and that it will put the village on the map. They even think about renaming their village! Then the person who found the ruins is murdered. Does his murder have something to do with the discovery of the ruins?

I listened to the first book in the series last December and I really like this series. In my genealogy research it looks like some of my ancestors came from Wales to the United States in the 1700s. I have someone in my family tree named “Ellis Ellis!” So that makes me love the Welsh setting even more! I also like how Ms. Bowen shows that the villagers don’t like incomers–especially from England. If the villagers are speaking English they quickly switch to Welsh! It’s these little touches which make me like this series.

My Rating: B

Narrator Rating: B

Summon the Keeper by Tanya HuffSummon the Keeper by Tanya Huff

Series: Keeper Chronicles #1

Genre: Fantasy

Source: Ebook, purchased

366 pages

My Rating: B-

Reviewed: April 17

Bottom Line: This was fun, but a little too cute. Not my favorite Tanya Huff book.

A Dragon of a Different Color by Rachel AaronA Dragon of a Different Color by Rachel Aaron

Series: Heartstrikers #4

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Source: Ebook, Kindle Unlimited

525 Pages

My thoughts

One of my favorite series and now there’s only one more book before the series ends. That makes me sad since I love the characters and feel the world building is excellent. However, I’m glad when an author decides a series is finished and ends it so they can move on to other stories they want to tell.

A Dragon of a Different Color really moved the story along and I can see an ending in sight! It seems things just keep getting worse and worse for Julian and the Heartstrikers. Lots of things he thought he knew and understood are in doubt–including who he can trust. Julius has gone through so much, lost so much and in this book there is more to come.

The arrival of the dragons of China is very dramatic and it doesn’t look good for the Heartstrikers. It’s hard for Julius to show much interest in what’s happening, but he has to continue to step up. And, of course, all is not as it seems. If you haven’t read the books before this one you really need to read them before you read this one. And I do recommend you read this series especially if you like fantasy, urban fantasy, good world building, dragons and good story telling!

My Rating: B+

Starman Jones by Robert A Heinlein

Starman Jones by Robert A. Heinlein

Series: None

Genre: Science Fiction

Source: Audiobook, purchased

272 pages

My Rating: A-

Reviewed: March 30

Bottom Line: One of Heinlein’s Juvenile series and a good science fiction adventure story.

………………………….

Does this format I’m trying out work for you to show my mini reviews as well as links to my reviews.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

Second Street Station by Lawrence H. Levy

second-street-stationSecond Street Station by Lawrence H. Levy
Series: Mary Handley Mystery #1
Genre: Historical Mystery, Police Procedural
Setting: Brooklyn, 1888
Published by Broadway Books, 2015
E-book, purchased
336 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: Mary Handley is a not your typical late-nineteenth century lady. She’s fiery, clever, daring—and she’s not about to conform to the gender norms of the day. Not long after being fired from her job at the hat factory for insubordinate behavior, Mary finds herself at the murder scene of Charles Goodrich, the brother of a prominent alderman and former bookkeeper of Thomas Edison. When Mary proves her acumen as a sleuth, she is hired by the Brooklyn police department—as the city’s first female policewoman—to solve the crime. The top brass of the department expect her to fail, but Mary has other plans. As she delves into the mystery, she finds herself questioning the likes of J. P. Morgan, Thomas Edison, and Nikola Tesla. Mary soon discovers the key to solving the case goes well beyond finding a murderer and depends on her ability to unearth the machinations of the city’s most prominent and respected public figures, men who will go to great lengths to protect their secrets.

Much like Mr. Churchill’s Secretary and Maisie Dobbs, Second Street Station presents a portrait of a world plunging into modernity through the eyes of a clever female sleuth. Mary Handley is an unforgettable protagonist whose wit, humor, and charm will delight readers from the very first page.

“I no longer wish to be a scientist or philosopher, Mother.”

“Really?” said a relieved Elizabeth, thinking this awful incident may have somehow netted a positive result.

“I’ve decided I want to be a detective.”

Elizabeth flinched. This daughter of hers would never give her peace.

and

The irony of Sean’s becoming a policeman didn’t escape Mary, though she didn’t believe he had chosen that profession as a protruding middle finger to their lifelong sparring.

Initial impressions

  • Fascinating historical mystery set in Brooklyn in the late 1800’s with historical characters.

The story

  • When twelve-year-old Mary finds a murdered man on a train she tells her mother she wants to be a detective (much to her mother’s irritation).
  • The grown up Mary is a factory worker in a hat factory instead of a detective.
  • Mary decides to find out who murdered a friend’s fiance. He is also Thomas Edison’s bookkeeper so this is a high-profile murder.
  • She comes to the attention of the police and the press and the police make her the first woman police officer. She doesn’t realize that some of the “higher-ups” expect and want her to fail. But she has support from other people in the police department.

Pluses

  • Mary Handley is a great character. She’s an intelligent, likable and tenacious young woman.
  • It’s ironic that her brother does become a police officer and that Mary works in a hat factory when she grows up.
  • I like all the historic characters in this book–JP Morgan, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla. It’s really interesting to read about them. Even Mary Handley is a real person. The murder is based on a real murder.
  • The historic aspects of the story are very enjoyable.
  • There are red herrings in the mystery!

Minuses

  • There are a few coincidences in the book. Parts of the book don’t seem very plausible. However, Mary is a fun character plus the historic aspects make the book enjoyable.

And concluding thoughts . . .SecondStreetStation_Map

  • A map of Mary Handley’s Brooklyn, 1888-1890 is on Mr. Levy’s website. It’s great!
  • I’m looking forward to reading the next book soon!

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

Author info

  • LAWRENCE H. LEVY is a highly regarded film and TV writer who is a Writers Guild Award winner and two-time Emmy nominee. He has written for various hit TV shows such as Family Ties, Saved by the Bell, Roseanne, and SeinfeldSecond Street Station is his debut novel and Brooklyn on Fire is his second book.

Reading Challenges