Billy Maddox Takes His Shot by Jay Lemming

26885461

Billy Maddox reports for his new job as a Border Patrol agent in Nogales, Arizona.  He is a young man who is still trying to find his niche in the world, but is being a Border Patrol agent to right choice for Billy?

When Billy was a child growing up on a ranch in Cochise County, Arizona, his younger brother was killed in a shootout between the Border Patrol and drug mules from Mexico.  His father Hector came to hate the illegals that crossed his land, and eventually drew publicity for shooting one of them in self defense.  After that, his mother and father sold the family ranch and retreated to Tucson, and Billy’s family was never the same again.  Billy was brought up to hate Mexicans and the death of his brother became a taboo subject in their household, leaving Billy with a lot of inner turmoil and anger.

Billy is now 23 years old, married and has his own child.  He loves his family and wants to be a good husband and father, but his hot temper has kept him from being able to successfully hold down a job.  His wife has grown impatient with his failures, and she has given him one last chance to make things work before she takes their young son and leaves.

With all this baggage hanging over him, Billy embarks on his new career, trying to fit in and make a place for himself.  He knows that he could be setting himself up for a great failure, and he will need to fight his demons every step of the way.  Then, just when tensions at home get even worse, Billy finds himself exposed to the very real dangers of being a Border Patrol agent when he and his partner are pursued by drug traffickers and caught up in a deadly shootout.

When I read the description of this book, I was very interested.  I am an Arizona native, born in Tucson and this, along with the fact that the border situation is an ongoing controversy for all of us who live here in Arizona, grabbed my attention right way.  Even though the book takes place in 1999, immigration is still very much a hot topic across the country, as witnessed in the recent presidential election.  America’s population has become very torn on their feelings towards illegal immigration.  I was very surprised to find that the author, Jay Lemming doesn’t live anywhere near the border.  But he has done his research, and he does a great job here of touching on some of the opposing perspectives when it comes to illegal immigration.

There’s a lot to like about this book.  As I’ve said, it’s culturally and politically relevant to our times, but the fact that it’s about a border patrol agent also makes it unique.  There is also a riveting action scene.  But what I liked the most is that the author takes a keen look at the American family dynamic.  He touches on the very real human emotions, insecurities and struggles that take place within families.  I was very caught up in how Billy’s family and friends interacted with each other.  Even though the story is told from Billy’s POV, I felt as if I could relate to each and every person and what they were feeling.  This book is well worth the read.

I want to thank the author for providing me with a complimentary copy of his book in exchange for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

The Lost Island by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

19162709The Lost Island is Book 3 in the Gideon Crew series.

Gideon has wrapped up his latest mission and he is ready to jump right into the next one. At this point, there’s no question that he will go on working for Eli Glinn at Effective Engineering Solutions. This time he will be utilizing skills from back in the days before he became a nuclear scientist.

There’s a special exhibition at New York’s Morgan Library; the Book of Kells, the finest illuminated manuscript in existence and Ireland’s greatest national treasure. Ireland’s government is reluctant to let the manuscript out of their hands and has insisted upon the highest security measures during the exhibit. Gideon has been tasked with a seemingly impossible assignment; he must steal a single page from the manuscript.

Gideon started stealing from art museums and historical societies when he was a teenager. He knows that every security system is vulnerable, either through technology or social engineering. He will have to use all he knows to turn the impossible to the possible. It is pure entertainment to read as he once more puts his skills to work to obtain his goal.

Having accomplished the impossibility of stealing the page, Gideon then learns from his employer that there is an ancient Greek map hidden under the illumination. This map leads to more than your ordinary treasure.

“The manuscript in question was an early Greek geography, and it described various legendary wonders of the world. Among these was a most intriguing place: an island ‘far in the West, where the earth meets the sky.’ The geography went on to mention a ‘great cave overhung with laurels on the face of a cliff far above the sea.’ There, the manuscript claimed, a ‘secret remedium could be found, the source of eternal healing.’

So now, in the company of his new partner Amy, Gideon sets sail into the dangers of the Mosquito Coast. Their encounters will be life-threatening but they must find out where the map leads and what strange wonder lies at the end. It just might be a priceless discovery that could change the world and possibly save Gideon’s life.

Having read other reviews of this series I have to say I disagree with the harsh criticism that I’ve come across. The authors have drawn from many different areas in this series and they continue to entertain. I have been a diehard fan of Preston & Child for a couple of decades now. So far, the Gideon Crew series has been much lighter fare than the Pendergast books, and each one has been good fun. They delve deeper into the main characters with each book, and at this point in the series, I felt a difference. It seemed to me that the storyline more closely reflected the sense of mystery and adventure I first felt with these authors back when I read Relic all those years ago.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

Vanished by Joseph Finder

8418806Joseph Finder’s Vanished is the first book in the Nick Heller series.

Nick Heller is an international investigator working for the high-powered intelligence firm, Stoddard Associates.  His current assignment: locate the missing cargo which was part of a shipment belonging to the Traverse Development Group.  But when all signs point to the case being wrapped up too tidily, Nick just isn’t buying it.

Coinciding with Nick’s case, his estranged brother Roger is kidnapped.  Nick’s relationship with his brother was shattered by their rich father’s highly publicized arrest and imprisonment.  But Nick has stayed close to Roger’s stepson Gabe.  For Gabe’s sake, Nick has to find Roger and protect his family from further threat.

As Nick delves further into the two cases he finds out that his employer may be involved a high-level cover-up and that his brother, Roger has been hiding a few secrets of his own.

Nick Heller is an intense and likable character.  Having been a Special Forces operative, he is tough and street savvy.  Nick also has a reputation for being able to see around corners.  He goes into a case like a dog with a bone and doesn’t give up.  He utilizes many of his past connections to help with his investigations and he’s not afraid to step outside the law when necessary. His circle of friends is a handy group to know and the author provides us with some in-depth knowledge of their investigative techniques.

In the vein of a fine John Grisham novel, Vanished is a brisk thriller that introduces us to a new hero with a lot of depth.  If you are in the mood for good, page-turning escapism, give it a try!

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

Book Blurb:

In “The Passage” and “The Twelve”, Justin Cronin brilliantly imagined the fall of civilization and humanity’s desperate fight to survive. Now all is quiet on the horizon but does silence promise the nightmare’s end or the second coming of unspeakable darkness? At last, this bestselling epic races to its breathtaking finale.



”The world we knew is gone. What world will rise in its place?”

The Twelve have been destroyed and the hundred-year reign of darkness that descended upon the world has ended. The survivors are stepping outside their walls, determined to build society anew and daring to dream of a hopeful future.


But far from them, in a dead metropolis, he waits: Zero. The First. Father of the Twelve. The anguish that shattered his human life haunts him, and the hatred spawned by his transformation burns bright. His fury will be quenched only when he destroys Amy – humanity’s only hope, the Girl from Nowhere who grew up to rise against him.

One last time light and dark will clash, and at last Amy and her friends will know their fate.

Just reading that will leave you dying to crack the cover if you’ve been waiting! On we go!

In The City of Mirrors, which is the final book of The Passage Trilogy, Cronin starts us off with an excellent recap of the first two books in the trilogy. However, if you haven’t read the first two books of this trilogy, you absolutely should before reading this one. This trilogy is an epic and although each book probably can be read as a stand-alone, I don’t think you would get the full impact. 

It’s now twenty years after the events that took place at the end of The Twelve and we start out by getting caught up on where each of the beloved main characters are, and what they have been up to. I liked that. Of course, we are dying to know this stuff, why would we keep reading otherwise? Note: In the second book of this trilogy, my excitement was somewhat dampened when a lot of stories with new people were started. What ever happened to some of those people anyway? Although it did end up coming together, there were times when I was just dying to get back to the characters from the first book. So here we are!

SPOILER ALERT——-
Peter has mourned the loss of Amy but he still has dreams of her each night. He has gone on to become a great leader in Kerrville, where the surviving humans are flourishing. New generations have been born and mankind is starting to feel safe again. People are beginning to think of expansion and life outside the gates. Peter’s son Caleb and his family are among those that are moving on.  

But both Lucius and Michael know that the danger isn’t over. The threat to mankind is still alive. They have joined forces and are working to save the human race. But first they need to let everyone know what they’ve been up to, and try to convince everyone of the threats still to come.

After all, there is still one of them out there. Zero, aka Tim Fanning, who was the first to contract the vampire virus and became the father of them all. Alicia, having suffered a ravaging loss, knows Zero is out there, she can hear him in her head. She prepares for battle and makes her way to him in New York City. But before the battle begins, Alicia is given the full life-story of Fanning which is a novel in itself. Fanning’s tale is a tragic story of love and revenge. It is so beautifully told, yet I still found it hard to feel sorry for Zero.  

In the end, our heroes must come face to face with Zero. Will Fanning’s human past allow him to have any mercy, or will the monster that has become Zero prevail? There are some very heart-wrenching endings for some of those we’ve come to love in this story. I really didn’t know what to expect, but let me tell you there are some surprises here and I wasn’t all that thrilled with the way some characters were wrapped up. This many pages into this epic tale, I was looking for a little more payoff. And let me tell you, each and every time you think this story has come to an end it doesn’t!

I did like the epilogue although it’s a bit lengthy and overdone. The journal, the island, the archaeological finds were riveting. But we don’t really care about the characters in the epilogue, and Cronin takes us so far into their story that it makes me wonder if he has plans for them in future books. And you see, that’s just the trouble with these books, too many stories within the story. I get that it’s hard to span so many years and come up with thousands of pages for a trilogy but there were just too many times that the story veered off in unexpected directions. Another negative is that some of the romantic relationships just didn’t gel for me. Throughout the books I did find the origin of the virus interesting, and I thought that the connection between the vampires and their progeny was a quite believable premise, but I wasn’t especially fond of the dream sequences that took place in these books. There are those between Amy and Carter, Amy and Peter, etc. I just never bought into these. But I guess that’s why they call it fantasy, right?  

Are you confused about whether I liked it? It would be an understatement to say that I have mixed emotions about this book. I was very conflicted about rating it at all. I think the impact made on each individual reading the trilogy will be profoundly different. Personally, I really liked The Passage, thought The Twelve was just ok and The City of Mirrors has left me flailing somewhere in between. So… do I love Cronin’s writing or not…. hmmmm….. actually I do! His writing is so masterful that it keeps you reading even though you may not always like where you end up. He evokes a roller-coaster ride of emotions and isn’t that what great authors strive for? Bottom line, this series IS a classic and I will be reading future books by Cronin.

I want to thank the publisher (Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

  

Whispers in the Mist by Lisa Alber

29995505

If you read the review I wrote just prior to this, you’ll see that it was for the first book in the A County Clare Mystery series. Whispers in the Mist is Book 2 of this series by Lisa Alber.

I thought the first book was a quick read but not well-developed and I wasn’t wholeheartedly enthused about reading book two in the series. But I’m glad I did. To me the tone of this book was so different that I felt as if I were reading a completely different author. In this book, the characters are fuller, richer. The atmosphere soaks you in. From the time you read the book blurb, you can tell that this book is much different from the first:

There’s a whisper in the mists

In Lisfenora, Ireland, a strange fog has rolled in off the Atlantic. Along with the fog comes tales of Grey Man, a predatory faery of local lore who snatches innocent souls into his deadly gloom.

And with the mists come murder

When a teenage boy dies in Detective Sergeant Danny Ahern’s arms, Danny finds himself pursuing his own grey man, a killer who becomes more elusive the closer Danny gets to the truth. A mute woman may be the key to solving the murder and helping Danny heal his own broken life, but first she must unlock the memories from her past.

Part psychological suspense, part mystery, Lisa Alber’s haunting tale of family secrets and broken love won’t let you go until the final twist.

We are introduced to new characters that are well-developed and sympathetic this time. I even like Merrit McCallum a bit better than I did in the first book. She seems like a kinder, less self-involved person because she shows more compassion in this book. But let me tell you, I really like the character of Danny Ahern and for me he is the real star here. As I read, I was so caught up in his emotions and the turbulence of his life. I’m super anxious to see where Lisa Alber takes us next and I do hope it has more to do with Danny Ahern and the new characters we’ve been introduced to here.

Everything about this book is much more haunting and will stay with me longer. I did figure out who the murderer was early on but the details behind who, what and why made for a good story that kept me reading. This one is more in the tradition of a good Tana French or Maeve Binchy read, and this time I did get that comfy, cozy feel that I love when reading books that take place in Ireland. The jump in this author’s writing talent from one book to the next is astonishing. If Lisa Alber’s writing keeps improving like this, she will be at the top of the best-seller lists in no time.

I want to thank the publisher (Midnight Ink) for providing me with the ARC through Netgalley for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

Kilmoon by Lisa Alber

22056872

It’s June 28, 2008 and the setting is Northern California where we are introduced to Merrit McCallum who is staring at the empty syringe lying beside her on the rug.  Beside her is dead body of the man she called father.  Her mother committed suicide years before.  Merrit is feeling guilty, lost and possibly irredeemable.

With her mother’s journal in hand, Merrit travels from California to Lisfenora, a small town in Ireland.  She arrives during the annual matchmaker’s festival that the small town is so well-known for.  Merrit has big plans to meet her real father, Liam Donellan who is known as Liam the Lion, The Matchmaker of Lisfenora.

Upon arrival, Merrit bides her time while trying to figure out how to introduce herself to her father.  She reads snippets from her mother’s journal hoping to unravel the secrets of the past.   As the matchmaking festivities get underway, Merrit braces herself to meet her father.  But things quickly go awry.  Merrit is being blackmailed by Lonnie, and when Lonnie turns up dead, all signs point to her as the murderer.  Her troubled past is catching up to her and she has learned that she’s not the only one who claims to be Liam’s long-lost biological daughter.  Merrit finds herself caught up in a web of deceit and mystery as she struggles to uncover the truth behind what kind of man her father really is.

Kilmoon is a tale of murder, lost love and people yearning to feel like they belong somewhere in a world where life has taken a lot of unexpected turns.  I can’t say I was completely hooked.  It was a fair read but Merrit is just not a very likeable character and I don’t think that the book ever really answered the matter of whether she murdered the man who raised her.  The uncertainty of this creates a main character that is a bit shady and it’s difficult to feel sympathy for her plight.  The town drunk, Marcus, whom Merrit has befriended is a more sympathetic character.  I also didn’t find Liam to be the charismatic character that he was cracked up to be.  Apparently he lost a lot of his charm through the years.  The most interesting character to me is Danny, the town Garda officer, who has been assigned to work the murder, but also has strong loyalties to Liam.   Pay attention to this character, he is the real star.

I also generally love any books set in Ireland.  Something about the atmosphere touches my soul, and I usually settle in comfortably, feeling at home.  However, the atmosphere here lacked depth and didn’t give me that cozy feeling.

I read this book because I got the ARC of the second book in the series, Whispers in the Mist, from Netgalley.  Having already moved on and read the second book (review to come), I can tell you that the series is worth sticking with.  I liked the second book so much better.  Kilmoon is a quick read and worth reading for the introduction to the A County Clare Mystery series.  The characters and atmosphere of Lisfenora become much stronger as the series expands.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

The Fold by Peter Clines

Okay folks, this one’s a page-turner!  I was hooked, line and sinker! 0807161831b-1

First and foremost, Mike Erickson is such an interesting protagonist!  Mike has an eidetic memory, also called a photographic memory.  What was the most unique here is the author’s descriptions of the way Mike’s brain works using “ants” to gather, categorize and file away what he takes in (can you say jealous? LOL!).

Mike has made the decision not to live his life being looked at as “different.”  He wants to live just like an average guy, no fuss, no unwanted attention.  He could have a very high paying job and has been offered such a few times through the years.  But Mike is happy being a high school teacher and that’s that.

Then his old friend, Reggie, the one that keeps trying to recruit him, comes calling again.  Reggie works for the government and he oversees funding for a secret project.  The secret project involves teleportation!  No way!  Mike finds it hard to believe that people are buying into this.

A team of scientists are working on a new invention called the Albuquerque Door.  The Albuquerque Door is run by computers and magnetic fields and creates a fold in dimensions, thereby transporting someone or something to another dimension.  This makes traveling from one dimension to another as easy as crossing the street.

The question is, should the funding go on.  The project doesn’t seem to be coming to fruition quick enough.  There are questions about whether the scientists working on it are hiding something.  This could be a huge discovery.  But is it safe?  Reggie talks Mike into going out to California and taking a look.  What Mike finds when he gets there is beyond his wildest dreams.

My inner circle of readers had very mixed reviews on this one and I wasn’t sure what to think going in.  I am a bit behind on my reviews and sometimes I find that’s not such a bad thing.  I finished this one almost a month ago.  So here I am several weeks later and I find that I’m still thinking back on this book and liking it more each time.  That’s how this book sits with me.  I really liked this character and this is such a well-written book.  Peter Cline takes us on a very fun and interesting ride!

 I want to thank the publisher (Crown Publishing) for providing me with the ARC through Blogging for Books for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

The Requiem Red by Brynn Chapman

21419856

Orphaned Jane has only ever been known as “29.”  She has lived at the Soothing Hills Sanatorium since she was a young girl and it’s the only home she remembers.  She’s not sure what’s wrong with her, but she hears things in the corn fields beside the asylum and when she hears music she sees colors no one else can see.  She tries to hide this because at Soothing Hills a lot of patients are subjected to various forms of torture.

Jules is the daughter of the esteemed Dr. Frost who is the head of the Soothing Hills Asylum.  Her father is cold and unpredictably easy to anger.  Jules has been forced into an engagement to a young man she doesn’t much care for but, if it gets her out of her father’s household and allows her more freedom, she’ll happily comply.  Since her fiancé has given the okay, her father unhappily agrees to allow Jules to volunteer at the asylum.

There’s a killer on the loose at Soothing Hills and all of the women who have been killed have one thing in common, they were 29’s roommate at the time.  Dr. Frost immediately orders that Jane be put to questioning, and Jane lives in fear of the increasingly torturous sessions.  She finds kindness in the new orderly, Mason, who is falling for Jane and vows that he will protect her.  But how much can she trust him?  Who is the killer, and who will be the next victim?

The author brings us the true horrors of asylum life in the 19th century.  The prescribed treatments at Soothing Hills are a true reflection of what patients in asylums at that time were subjected to.  At times, there was nothing wrong with those patients.  They were falsely imprisoned, tortured and even lobotomized.  Unfortunately they did not have a glimpse of kindness, love and hope.  But that what books are for!    

The Requiem Red is a 19th century tale of gothic horror and love.  I would say the prime target for this book is the young adult audience, but it will be enjoyable to others as well.  It is fast-paced with alternating POVs from both Jane and Jules, with a couple of other POVs thrown in sporadically.  Simply written and enjoyable, I predict that you will fly through this one in one sitting.

 I want to thank the publisher (Month9Books) for providing me with the ARC through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

The Chimes by Anna Smaill

24914195

Young orphan, Simon Wythern, leaves the farm he grew up on and heads to London carrying only his memory bag.  In his memory bag are the items which contain the memories that he wants to hold onto, all the bits of the life he’s led thus far.  You see, in Simon’s world, the only memories people retain are those that they carry in their memory bag.  If you lose your memory bag, you become one of the nameless, those wandering without purpose, where each day is a new day, without memories of the days that came before, and there is only bodymemory left to fall back on.

In this alternate London, written history has been destroyed and replaced by music.  The whole city talks and thinks and carries on to the sound of The Chimes.  Each day a carillon sounds the chimes and society has been taught to think and act based on the music of The Onestory which is sounded by the chimes.  The music of the Onestory is composed by the elite members of The Order and it tells of The Allbreaking, where the past world was destroyed by a weapon built of dischord, which was then turned upon itself.  The Order arose from the ashes of dischord to save the people from chaos and bring about a new world of harmony.  Onestory is there to give their world meaning and help the people understand their place in it.  All else outside of Onestory is considered Blasphony.  But, for those who live outside The Citadel, The Chimes often bring Chime Sickness and eventually death.

Simon arrives in London with only a name and a song to find, a thread to follow.  The thread is a woman named Netty, whom his mother referred to right before she died two days ago of the chime sickness.  But when he finds Netty, she seems to have no idea who his mother was and Simon doesn’t really know why he seeks her to begin with.

Time passes and Simon finds himself living in a storehouse on Dog Isle.  He has become a member of the Five Rover pact.  The pact consists of other young homeless kids, pactrunners, who eke out their living by hunting for remnants of The Pale Lady, a silver palladium ore, which The Order holds dear.  All of the other members of Simon’s pact have no memory bags and they live on bodymemory alone.  Bodymemory keeps them in their places.

But Simon begins to notice that he is different and seems to have a gift.  The Chimes don’t bring the usual sickness to him, and he is able to hold on to some of his memories.  He also forms a relationship with the pact’s leader Lucien, who has a secret past and seems untouched by The Chimes.  The two become part of a secret network of people, working against The Order to preserve memories and pass them on.  Simon and Lucien form a plan to uncover the suppression of The Order, in hopes of creating a new world where people can choose for themselves and hold their memories dear and close in their hearts.

The Chimes is a fresh piece of speculative fiction exploring a world I haven’t previously encountered.  It is definitely different and has an intriguing premise.  Being a music lover, I am not especially fond of the fact that music was used against the people in a negative way, but this story unfolds with a poetic beauty and style that makes it both unique and captivating.

I want to thank the publisher (Quercus US) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

The Twelve by Justin Cronin

The second installment of The Passage Trilogy by Justin Cronin takes us backwards to the beginning of the viral outbreak, a government experiment gone awry.

13565543

As the world begins to realize that there is evil among them and it will be their downfall, we are introduced to a new set of characters who are struggling to survive.  These new characters lives are woven in with the characters we already know.  The story surges forward 100 years into the future, where everything comes down to a last stand between Amy, mankind’s’ savior and The Twelve, the original vampires they created.

I wasn’t as enthralled with this book as I was with the first.  It jumps back and forth through time, we get numerous POVs and when we rejoin the characters from The Passage, quite a bit of time has elapsed.  The landscape of their lives has completely changed, some of the characters have died and one is incomprehensively resurrected.  This left me feeling adrift and unsatisfied.  The book also featured another theme that I’m a bit tired of, the evangelistic leader with the wrong agenda.  This is a theme that seems worn to me.

Did I say that Cronin yanks us around?  You’re just getting invested in the character, place and time you’re in, when BAM! he changes it up and totally leaves you hanging, wondering where what you just read fits in with the rest.  But he does eventually bring it all together in the end.  Though his writing style can be a bit bumpy and frustrating, the man is a great storyteller and I don’t give up that easily.  I continue to firmly believe in Justin Cronin and where he is taking us, so I will be reading the final installment.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

Gideon’s Corpse by Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child

12050989

Book two of the Gideon Crew series picks up with Gideon having completed the assignment he took on for Effective Engineering Solutions, a top secret agency that subverts terrorism in the U.S.

Gideon is eager to return to his life as a nuclear scientist who likes cooking himself a nice meal after a long day of fishing.  Unfortunately, things can’t be that simple.  Gideon now lives with the knowledge that he has a rare brain aneurysm and has less than a year to live.  The question is whether or not Gideon can rely on the source of this news, that source being Eli Glinn, the head of Effective Engineering Solutions.  Did Mr. Glinn use the news of Gideon’s impending doom to manipulate him into doing the job?  Gideon needs to know, so he seeks a second opinion.

Any plans Gideon might have about returning to his old life are also put on hold as he is manipulated into taking on another assignment.  This time he is sent to assist the FBI in stopping former colleague Reed Chalker, who seems to have turned into a conspiracy theorist gone mad and has taken an innocent family hostage.  He teams up with FBI agent, Stone Fordyce.  The situation turns from bad to worse when Chalker dies and it is discovered that he had extreme radiation poisoning, the kind that comes from being in contact with a nuclear bomb.

Further investigation reveals that Chalker converted to Islam and was helping a group build the nuclear bomb in question.  Now the real question becomes what happened to the nuclear bomb, where is it and when is it scheduled to detonate?  Crew and Fordyce must race to find out before the unthinkable happens!  This story has so many twists and turns you’ll hurt your neck!

This series is very different for devoted Preston & Child fans.  Gideon has his hidden depths but he is not as deep and dark as their most well-known character, Aloysius Pendergast.  Crew is a simply a likeable hero who has his heart is in the right place.  Following Gideon around is a non-stop thrill ride in the tradition of Bruce Willis’s character, John McClane in Die Hard.  He takes on the bad guys left and right, gets pretty banged up in the process and uncovers massive conspiracies that go way over his head.  The only thing that might stop him is that nasty brain aneurysm.

Don’t take this stuff too seriously folks, just sit back and enjoy the ride! The Gideon Crew series is quick, light action-adventure reading that will leave you breathless!

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

Showdown City by Todd Berger

27133253

Huey Palmer is a divorced, free-lance helicopter pilot in Las Vegas. He’s been an absentee father at the times when his daughter needed him the most. His daughter is now preparing for college but he doesn’t have the money to send her to the one she’s aiming for. Why? Because he’s compulsive gambler who is always on the edge of winning big, which also means he owes money to the wrong people. In short, Huey needs to find himself a windfall, and fast.

The answer to his problems may lie in his next job. When a new customer comes along in the form of billionaire, Ernie Swords, Huey just can’t say no. Ernie is a collector of guns and he’s finally located the long-lost and highly sought-after antique gun of his dreams. This very rare gun was last known to be in the possession of 19th century French anarchist, Etienne Roux. When Roux disappeared, so did the gun and now that Swords has finally located this valuable antique, he won’t be letting it get away. The only problem… it’s located on government-secured land in the Nevada desert, land that he can’t gain access to. So he hires Huey to fly him in covertly. It’s a high paying job, but also very risky and if they are caught, they could face jail time. But hey, it will be a quick in-and-out operation and Huey just might be able to pull himself out of the financial hole he has dug for himself…right?

As they reach their destination, their helicopter is shot down and they find themselves stranded in a small western town called New Roux City. New Roux City is not on any maps. It’s a long-forgotten place founded by Etienne Roux when he fled from the government. Etienne fulfilled his dream of founding a community where laws don’t exist didn’t turn out so well. Roux’s descendent; Miller Roux and his henchmen have a hold over the town, and in this town “without laws” each citizen is required to carry a gun because all disputes are handled by challenging your offender to a showdown.

Showdown City is a fantastic surprise of a book giving us an edgy twist on the western genre! It’s refreshing, original, adventurous, funny and utterly enjoyable! Need I say more? I very much look forward to reading more of Todd Berger!

I want to thank the publisher (Diversion Books) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

Everything I Don’t Remember by Jonas Hassen Khemiri

27274311

When Samuel dies in a car crash, an unidentified writer goes in search of the truth behind his death by interviewing his friends and family. Was Samuel’s death an accident or was it suicide? We are given Samuel’s story through the writer’s interviews with Samuel’s mother, his roommate, his childhood friend and his girlfriend as they flash backwards and forwards through time.

The mother was a flighty character who was very uncooperative and did very little to forward Samuel’s story. The roommate, Vandad is an ex-thug who decided to get an honest job once he became friends with Samuel. The childhood friend, Panther is a wild-child bohemian artist. The girlfriend, Laide is a very unlikeable and pretentious Swedish-Arabic interpreter and activist, whose only redeeming quality is that she tries to help abused women. Each of the characters reveal more about Samuel from their own selfish perspectives, making it seem very unlikely that we will ever know the real Samuel.

Everything I Don’t Remember is billed as a murder mystery in the book blurb. It really doesn’t hit the mark. I would say it simply falls under literary fiction. It’s a rather bland tale that seems to have been turned into a puzzle for some unknown reason. The unveiling at the end was more about the writer himself than Samuel. I wasn’t invested in the writer so that mattered very little to me.

Perhaps it was the very ordinariness of the characters that made this such a highly rated book. I didn’t care for or about any of them. In this case I’m convinced that it was the structural style, the political activism element and the subject of abused women that made this the winner of the August Prize in Sweden. Personally, I wasn’t satisfied with this book. It left me feeling like there should have been more to it. However, this wouldn’t be the first time I haven’t cared for a highly rated book (i.e. Gone Girl really gave me the heebie-jeebies). If you want to read something that has an unusual narrative structure, this may be a good read for you.

I want to thank the publisher (Atria Book) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghost

The Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence



The Liar’s Key
is second book in The Red Queen’s War series by Mark Lawrence.

Kudos to Mark Lawrence for beginning this book with a nice refresher on the first book of this series in a short yet concise manner. It did bring something new to light for me. I fully understood that Snorri, being a Viking and all, was from Norway, but for some unknown reason I did not cop on that Jalan’s home in Red March was in Northern Italy. I have to say that I feel really stupid, but not once reading the first book did I grasp this. Thanks for enlightening me Mark!

The twist at the end of the first book left Jalan and Snorri bound together under the Silent Sister’s spell, however they have exchanged light and dark spirits now. Jalan is now haunted by the dark spirit, Aslaug. Snorri is now haunted by the light spirit, Baraqel. The spirits whisper at them and still try to induce suspicion of the other’s motives.

As we rejoin Jalan, he is holed up in the northern town of Trond with Snorri and Tuttugu. After nearly losing their lives at the Black Fort, they have recovered and are waiting for winter to recede so they can resume their travel. Snorri is in possession of Loki’s Key, a magical key to open any lock. Snorri hopes that it will gain him entry to death’s door, in order retrieve his dead wife and children and bring them back. He wants Jalan to continue on the journey with him but Jalan is yearning to go home and resume his life. This is the first hint that his progress toward maturity has not been hastened. He spends most of his time longing for his princely days when he could drink, gamble and chase women to his heart’s content. Yet Jalan hasn’t stayed completely out of action just because he’s not yet home, and soon his antics catch up with him and he finds himself fleeing Trond in a boat with Snorri and the ever-loyal Tuttugu.

Snorri’s quest to find death’s door leads them confer with the ice witch Skilfar, who offers up her new apprentice, Kara as a companion on their journey. Old secrets are revealed through the blood magic that Kara works on Jalan. This blood magic brings on a series of intriguing flashbacks in which we learn some of Jalan’s family history such as how the Red Queen became the iron queen feared across the south, more about her siblings and answers to how Jalan’s mother died.

In a brief separation from his companions, Jalan does make his way home, but nothing is as it was when he left. His expectations are dashed and he is happy to leave again on an assignment for his uncle, Garyus. Again we get a deeper understanding of the world Jalan lives in as he travels to a new city and enters the merchant banking world where of course, more trouble awaits.

Jalan eventually finds himself reunited with his travel companions and once again caught up in Snorri’s quest to find the portal to the underworld. Through it all they are pursued by the Dead King’s minion, Edris Dean and his necromancers, who wish to gain possession of Loki’s Key for their own dark and deadly purposes.

At the end of Prince of Fools, I felt that Jalan Kendeth was the epitome of the anti-hero, progressing to a full-fledged hero, much to his chagrin. This may be a bit slower coming to fruition than I had anticipated! Jalan has stayed true to character and he is quite the character! Funny as hell! I could quote Jalan all day long, but since I was sent the ARC I won’t. Still the question lingers…who is the real Jalan Kendeth? Is he the vain, immature, avaricious and cowardly ne’er-do- well, leave-’em-in-the-dust-and-run guy that you can’t stand? Or is he that goofball friend who never appears serious, but will have your back in a pinch and fight by your side for what’s good and right? Jal does his best to avoid responsibility and has convinced himself that he is a coward of the highest form, but some of his actions speak louder than words. Despite myself I think I like him!

Overall, this is a great second book in the series. The story grew by leaps and bounds and the character development and world building was fascinating. I certainly look forward to The Wheel of Osheim!

I want to thank the publisher (Berkley Publishing Group) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

Esther the Wonder Pig: Changing the World One Heart at a Time by Steve Jenkins, Derek Walter, Caprice Crane

28535191

So one day, an ex-girlfriend of Steve’s calls up and offers him a pot-belly pig. He knows that his partner, Derek will freak out if he brings another animal home without talking about it first, but Steve just can’t resist. Come on, all you animal lovers out there does this sound even a little bit familiar? I know it does to me. My loved ones have just quit fighting it.

Esther is no bigger than a teacup when Steve brings her home and she quickly wins Derek’s heart. What both Derek and Steve don’t anticipate is that little Esther grows up to be a 650 pound pig. In their little 1000 square foot home, this proves to be quite a trial of errors. Steve and Derek don’t give up easily though. The love they both have for Esther allows them to conquer each problem they face along the way. In the process, they even become vegans.

Nowadays, Steve and Derek and Esther live on a farm. They have become the successful founders of Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary for farm animals in need. They did so with a lot of faith and donations from fans and followers of Esther’s on Facebook. Steve and Derek are performing daily miracles for these animals and they are doing so with loads of love in their hearts. Esther truly is the “Wonder Pig.”

Oh my, what a wonderful book this is! This book is a must-read for animal lovers everywhere! Esther, I would love to meet you some day!

Once you have read about Esther, you’ll want to check out the website and Facebook links below:

Websites

Esther the Wonder Pig

Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary

Facebook Links

Esther the Wonder Pig

Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary

Esther’s Army

Esther’s Kitchen

I want to thank the publisher (Grand Central Publishing) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

The Big Sheep by Robert Kroese

30657957

Robert Kroese puts a fresh spin on the LA noir detective story with this tale of quirky private investigator Erasmus Keane and his assistant, Blake Fowler.  The story is told from the POV of Fowler.  It takes place circa 2039 in a section of Los Angeles that has been disowned by civil authorities after the economic collapse of 2028.  The section is referred to as the Disincorporated Zone, or the DZ.   Erasmus Keane, who prefers to be referred to as a “phenomenological inquisitor” rather than a P.I., has an office right on the edge of the zone and he takes on unlikely cases, giving each case his own unlikely name for it.

Erasmus takes on The Case of the Missing Sheep.  The sheep in question is a large breed, female sheep named Mary, who has been genetically altered by researchers at Esper.  But Mary has been stolen and the head honcho at Esper wants her found.  As Keane and Fowler begin their investigation of the missing Mary, they are sidelined by beautiful actress Priya Minstry.  Priya thinks someone may be out to kill her.  Fowler thinks she might just be a little bonkers.  As these two cases progress, they begin to realize that one may very well have to do with the other.

 The Big Sheep is fast-paced, clever, atmospheric and funny in an absurd, tongue-in-cheek sort of way.  I recommend sitting down and taking the afternoon to breeze through this little gem.  It’s a good, fresh read for both sci-fi and detective mystery fans.

I want to thank the publisher (St. Martin’s Press) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

Waypoint Kangaroo: A Novel by Curtis C. Chen

26114364

Kangaroo was an orphan who stumbled upon the unique and supernatural ability to create a pocket universe to stash things in.  As he grew up, the government nabbed him to work for them as a spy.  He has been physically implanted with tools that come in handy for all sorts of things a spy might need.  He has his own handler, his own doctor and his own gadget guy.  Kangaroo is a great James Bond for the future!  A bumbling, wanna-be hero who is always jumping in feet first without thinking ahead.  He is kept very busy as he travels the universe carrying out his assignments in a post-war universe.

But when his current mission takes a bad turn and his partner is killed, Kangaroo is sent on vacation while his department undergoes an audit.  He boards a cruise to Mars.  There’s only one problem.  Kangaroo doesn’t know how to deal with the term “vacation.”  He can’t quite turn off the work brain and turn on the relaxation one.  He makes a spy game out of everything he does.  When you’re looking for trouble, you usually find it!  Trouble comes in the form of a hijacked spaceship and Kangaroo must race time to save those aboard and end the potential for another war between worlds.

If I could describe this book in one word, that word would be FUN!  Kangaroo is as entertaining as they come.  What a character!  Always up to something!  Whether he is trying to relax into his vacation and have a few drinks, or chasing the bad guys, he puts himself right smack in the middle of all sorts of escapades.  This is a great book and first in a new series!

 I want to thank the publisher (St. Martin’s Press) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

Flotilla by Daniel Haight

27969187

In Flotilla, we meet Jim Westfield, who is 15 years old. Jim and his sister are alone on their father’s boat, floating in the Pacific, and facing an unknown future. Drug dealers, pirates and biological terrorist attacks on the United States have forced them to flee Colony D. They don’t know if their parents are alive or dead.

Jim has been in and out of trouble because of his penchant for heavy drinking. After his last bout of binge drinking, Jim was put on probation, and the only thing that kept him from spending the summer in rehab was a trip to stay with his father, Rick.

Rick left when Jim and his sister were quite young. His life is a mystery. He spent some time in prison, and now he has made a new life as a fish farmer on Colony D. Colony D is a self-sustained, man-made island in the Pacific, overseen by the fish farming corporation, PAC Fish. The island is made up of an assortment of boats lashed together into a community which lives by its own rules. The community is somewhat reminiscent of Water World.

As Jim’s story of living on Colony D unfolds, and he gets to know his father more, he begins to see that this man is much more complicated than he appears to be on the surface. Rick is a man who will never be satisfied with the life he has, he always wants more, and he is constantly looking for new ways to make a buck. Some of those ways may get him into trouble.

Jim is your typical teenaged smart aleck kid, who thinks he knows it all and that the parents are jerks. He’s a smart kid, but he has a lot to learn, and he needs to learn it without the effects of alcohol clouding his judgment. He is at turns funny, bone-headed, insecure and, well…a teenager. It’s refreshing to read about a teen doing things a teen would do! His escapades with his friend Riley are so reflective of that male teenage spirit!

As the book draws to a close, Jim brings us full circle, back to how he and his sister wound up alone on the boat. The end is a bit of a cliffhanger, leaving you anxious to see what happens next. Taking place in the near future, Flotilla is a unique and very enjoyable coming of age tale.

I want to thank the author and the publisher (Northern & 71st) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay

26505409

A richly woven tale that focuses on a handful of people, each of whom, for a different reason, is compelled to leave the place they call home and embark on a new adventure in life. We follow the lives of pirates, spies, merchants, soldiers, artists and emperors as they travel into the unknown. They each face new and dangerous experiences, on a journey to reach their separate and unexpected fates.

I was thrown off a little in the beginning as each of the main characters and plot were brought into focus. I wasn’t sure what type of book I was picking up to read. The author introduces us to an intricate political and religious landscape, and then he quickly and masterfully pulls everything together, giving us an epic tale in only 585 pages. Much less than your usual epic!

Children of Earth and Sky is a sumptuous reading journey which I thoroughly enjoyed. Aptly titled too!  History and fantasy combine effortlessly.  Kay took inspiration from assorted influences such as Venice, the Ottoman Empire, Renaissance Europe, the maritime trade of Dubrovnik and the Uskoks of Croatia, among many other historical periods. You can see that this author is well-versed in a lot of areas and you can also see that he loves history. I haven’t read any of Kay’s books before but I have noticed that he has a great following and I can certainly see why. Told in the tradition of a Bernard Cornwell novel, this author surely has a lot of those same fans.

I want to thank the publisher (Berkley Publishing Group) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence

18191460

Prince Jalan Kendeth, is the third son, tenth in line to the throne.  He is self-described as a liar, cheat and coward who is nine parts bluster and one part greed, has a gift for lying and sounds the least convincing when he tells the truth.  He’ll be the first to run and leave everyone in the dust when trouble heads his way.  He’s refused to grow up and spends most of his time drinking, gambling and chasing women.  He’s royal so he has been schooled in royal affairs, but since he’s so far from becoming the heir to the throne, he just doesn’t care.  Why give up all of the comforts of life and be serious?

Jalan’s grandmother is the powerful Red Queen.  It’s common knowledge that she practices forbidden sorceries in her tower.  There are plenty of rumors that Grandmother’s secret counselor is a blind-eye woman, who is rumored to be old and half mad, but no one has ever really seen her.  No one but Jalan, that is.  He sees here hovering over Grandmother’s shoulder every time the family members are summoned, but no one else ever seems to see her.

Things are looking a bit grim in Jalan’s life right now.  He’s currently on the run from Maeres Allus and his men due to racking up some gambling debts.  There’s very little hope he’ll be able to worm his way out of the situation this time.

His Grandmother has summoned the family members.  She has had captured slaves brought in to give news of what they have seen.  Snorri ver Snagason, a huge Norse warrior of Undoreth, the Children of the Hammer, is among those purchased off the slave ship.  Snorri warns that there are grave rumors that The Dead King is sending his undead army their way.  Snorri’s homeland was raided by the dead and he has lost his family to The Dead King’s minions.

As if these things aren’t enough bad news for now, Jalan is witness to The Silent Sister casting one of her spells.  In trying to flee, he and Snorri are somehow caught up in her spell and they have borne away part of the magic in the form of a curse.  Jalan has a pesky angel in his head that seems to be causing him to take actions that make him appear to be a better man than he is.  Snorri has a pesky devil in his head, making him do uncharacteristically bad things.   Jalan and Snorri form an unlikely pair and wind up tied together and on the road to Snorri’s homeland, on a quest of rescue and vengeance.  They will have to make their way through areas where the frozen dead wander and Jalan will be lucky if he makes it back home alive.

This is my first Mark Lawrence read but it won’t be my last.  I really enjoyed this book!  Jalan and Snorri are a great unlikely pair.  I liked that Snorri always comically misunderstands Jal’s actions and holds him in high regard.  Gotta love a great Viking warrior anyway!  Jalan’s devil-may-care attitude is hilarious.  He is always trying to worm his way through life, but here he has caught this curse, and suddenly he’s becoming a more likeable guy, but he just doesn’t see it.  The two are stalked by death at every turn and the tale builds to an explosive ending.  I look forward to continuing this series!

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

The Fireman by Joe Hill

26222107

Draco Incendia Trychophyton is the scientific name for what has become known as “Dragonscale.”  It’s a spore that is spreading like wildfire, literally, throughout the U.S.  When people first contract Dragonscale, they discover black and gold markings on their bodies, somewhat resembling tattoos.  They begin to emit smoke, burning from the inside and eventually going up in flames.  Those who are sick are being sent to secret death camps, in hopes that the deadly contagion can be stopped.

Harper Grayson is a grade-school nurse who loves musicals, most especially Mary Poppins.  Harper tends to see the bright side in things.  She is happily married to Jakob and takes great joy in bringing comfort to others.  When she witnesses a man go up in flames from the Dragonscale, and then her school is shut down due to the plague, Harper begins to volunteer her time at the hospital helping those who are sick.

Having put herself in continual contact with those who have the Dragonscale, Harper eventually discovers that she has it too.  On top of this, she is pregnant.  Her husband, Jakob doesn’t handle this so well and goes a little, no make that a lot, off the deep end.  He insists that they commit suicide, but Harper rejects that idea because she has heard that babies are being born healthy, without sign of infection.  Jakob goes on a rampage and tries to murder Harper.  That’s when she is rescued by a mysterious stranger, “The Fireman,” who has somehow gained control of his Dragonscale, and uses it in a superhero sort of way to help others.

The Fireman takes Harper to a community that calls itself a safe haven for those that are infected.  But in a world that has gone crazy, safe havens aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.  Think of this one as a scary commune!  When things begin to go bad, Harper knows that she must find a safe place to bring her baby into the world, and she’s going to need The Fireman’s help to do it.

There are so many apocalyptic books out there now, that a lot of what’s in here is nothing original.  The world falls apart, there are survivors fighting to make it to a new home, there are crazies out to get them…  What makes The Fireman a good read is the writing.  Harper is a formidable character, strong, bold and funny!  The character of Jakob is one scary madman and the community that takes Harper in, well, these people are completely off their rockers.   Joe Hill is a talented writer and this book will keep you up reading through the wee hours of the morning!  I love it when that happens:D

I am not sure if Joe Hill will appreciate the comparison, but there are definite tones of his father in this book.  Come on, Joe, I know you didn’t use that last name for a reason so you’ve gotta be proud to make it to that same category all on your own!  Stephen King is the master of horror and it seems that his son is a chip off the ol’ block!

I want to thank the publisher (Orion Publishing Group) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

Gideon’s Sword by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

8286216August 1988

Gideon Crew is 12 years old when he accompanies his mother down to Arlington Hall station, where his father works for INSCOM, The United States Army Intelligence and Security.  His father is holding hostages.  When the hostages are let go Gideon and his mother watch as Gideon’s father is gunned down.

October 1996

Gideon goes to the hospital to see his dying mother.  After years of drinking herself into oblivion, her liver is failing.  Gideon hasn’t spent a lot of time with his mother.  He’s been too wrapped up in his own life.  His mother tells of him of his father’s job vetting the government project named Thresher.  Against the advice of Gideon’s father, the NSA signed off on the flawed project.  Several months later the Russian government cracked it.  General Chamblee Tucker was in charge of the Thresher project and he saw to it that Gideon’s father was set up as the scapegoat for the disaster.  When Gideon’s father tried to take the information public he was assassinated.  After she tells him the tale, Gideon’s mother asks him to “even the score” and “do to Tucker what he did to your father.”  These were his mother’s last words.

Current Day

A decade later we meet up with Gideon again.  He is now in his 30s and he works on “The Hill” at Los Alamos National Lab.  Everything Gideon has done for the last decade has been done with the design of putting him in a position to fulfill his promise to his mother; the promise of seeking revenge for his father’s death by bringing General Tucker down.  His job gives him access to necessary information that he needs to accomplish this.  When Gideon finally locates the memo his father wrote criticizing Thresher and advising against it, his revenge comes to fruition.

Now that Gideon has fulfilled the goal he’s spent the last decade devising, he is in limbo, wondering what’s next in life.  He is recruited by Eli Glinn, who works for an organization called Effective Engineering Solutions, to carry out a sensitive mission.  EES wants Gideon to intercept a Chinese scientist who is defecting to the United States.  The scientist carries top secret information that could be important to the U.S. government.  They believe this is information on the development of a new weapon.  Gideon has perfected many arts over the years and they believe he is just the man for the job.

Indeed, Gideon does have some experience that will be put to good use.  We learn that he used to be an art thief and as he undertakes this new job, we watch him artfully change personas again and again.  He knows the art of a con and uses social engineering to his advantage.  He knows people in the right places to get necessary information that he isn’t getting from his employers.  Gideon is a survivor but it will take everything he is to survive this mission.

I’ve been a fan of the Preston and Child writing duo for a long time.  I love their FBI Special Agent Pendergast series.  The Pendergast character and his sidekicks have been artfully built throughout each of the books.  I would even venture to say that Pendergast and his dastardly brother are two of the most intriguing characters featured in modern day thrillers.  Additionally, I have read and enjoyed each author’s solo works.  These authors always flesh out the landscape of their books, giving us a tidbits of great historical background on New York and other locales.  This new series is not an exception.  Gideon’s Sword is the first book in the Gideon Crew series and introduces a character that is young, clever and resourceful.   This book had a well-written, fast-paced story-line that put me in mind of watching a one of those adventure movies like Die Hard.  I  look forward to seeing where these authors take Gideon’s character in the rest of the series.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

 

 

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

29965072Ted Flask is a 42 year old man living in Los Angeles, CA. He has recently ended a serious relationship with Jeffrey and he sees a shrink on a regular basis. The one great thing in Ted’s life that he can count on is Lily.

When Ted was in his twenties, his best friend Trent predicted that his life would change forever when he turned 29. Sure enough, one beautiful spring day, the last day of his 20s, he held Lily in his arms. When he adopted Lily and brought her home, she immediately exclaimed THIS! IS! MY! HOME! NOW! And indeed Lily had found her forever home. Ted would be responsible for her daily life and well-being from then on.

That was 12 years ago. Ted and Lily have a routine these days. They are always there for one another. He can confide in her, he can share a pizza with her, he can play games with her, he can watch football with her and he can talk about cute guys with her. Lily is the epitome of selfless love, patience, kindness, strength. She is all of the things that Ted needs in his life. Lily is 12 years old. Lily weighs 17 pounds. Lily is a dachshund.

Now Ted has discovered that Lily has an octopus. All of a sudden it’s just there, sitting on her head for the world to see. Ted is outraged, fuming! IT CAN’T HAVE HER! Ted doesn’t know what to do. He frets, he ponders and in the end he decides to take himself and Lily off on a bizarre adventure to the sea, in hopes of ousting the octopus from their lives.

You may or may not have realized it but Lily’s “octopus” is a metaphor for a tumor.

The moment I began reading Lily and the Octopus, I knew it would be both one of the most heart-warming and one of the most heart-wrenching books I’ve ever read. If you are an animal lover, I think you will feel the same. Well-written dog books are the ones that talk of happy times, funny times, sad times and everything in between; the things that form the bond between man and man’s best friend. These books usually always feature a sad note because unfortunately, our best friend just doesn’t live as long as we do. Yet somehow they also tend to leave us with something upbeat at the end

I knew I wanted to read this book but I wasn’t so sure of the timing. I had to get it read because it was being published soon, and I like to get my reviews done around that time. But, I wasn’t sure it was such a great idea because I was going into Memorial Day weekend. Eight years ago on Memorial Day, I lost the sunshine of my life, my boxer, Ginger. She had a heart seizure and died at home in my arms. Of course, she’s ALWAYS on my mind. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her, but Memorial Day is an especially tough time for me as I relive that night over and over again. The average life span of a boxer is 10 – 12 years and I’ve known of quite a few owners who lost their boxers to cancer much earlier than that. Ginger lived to be 12 years old so I count myself among the lucky. But life will never be the same without her sweet and gentle soul by my side.

This book has some excruciatingly funny moments. It also has some very tough moments. Is it worth the read? Absolutely! I wholeheartedly recommend it! Steven Rowley has created a work of fiction around the wonderful and tearful times he shared with his own dog, Lily. He writes of Ted and Lily’s relationship with heart, humor and, I’m sure, lots of his own tears. He shares all of the cute, silly and distressing memories of his time with Lily. In the afterword, he expresses his wish to share these feelings with others in order to give them permission to grieve for their pets too; because the love you share is part of the legacy of kindness that will always carry forward.

I want to thank the publisher (Simon & Schuster) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

This is what I read in May for short story month

Shortstory

Most of us readers know that May was Short Story Month.  I am just a bit behind!

I don’t really think of myself as much of a short story reader but I have read a lot of Stephen King shorts, because I love Stephen King!  Generally, I think of myself as one who likes to settle in for the long haul!  But being the contradictory person that I am, I find myself reading more and more of them since I started a blog.  This is because I’ve found that some of the blogs I enjoy following the most are those of unknown writers who publish their shorts on their own blogs.

For short story month in May, I also chose to read three by a known author, Andy Weir, who wrote The Martian.  I enjoyed that book very much.  These are all three very short 3-4 page stories that can be read online for free.   Andy has a great sense of humor and a talent for thinking outside the box.

The Egg is a very interesting and imaginatively written piece of flash fiction that really makes you think…what if????  There are so many ways to look at this story and it left a good taste in my mouth. 4 stars

The whole time I was reading Annie’s Day I was thinking “Boy, this Annie really needs to read The Egg!”  There is a great unexpected little twist at the end. 4 stars

I wasn’t that taken with The Chef.  Apparently Andy thinks you’ll be more taken with it upon a second read because when you get to the end, he tells us “Now read it again.”  I still wasn’t that taken with it.  I don’t know, I guess the subject matter just didn’t do much for me.  2.5 stars

Averaged and rounded up to

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

Well, that’s about all I can say without ruining it for other readers.  I mean this review is as long as one of the shorts!  If you’ve read them, leave a comment with your perspective.

Although I’ve passed up the month of May with this post, you may be interested in reading short stories year round.  There are innumerable blogs and websites where you can read them for free.

These are just a few of the websites that have short stories to read:

americanliterature.com

classicshorts.com

flashfictiononline.com

storyaday.org

newyorker.com

theparisreview.org

These are some great WordPress blogs that I follow for short stories:

caitlinsternwrites.wordpress.com

feliciahf.wordpress.com

loredanaem.wordpress.com

zruthcblog.wordpress.com

There are so many so if you have a short story blog, leave a link in the comments for those of us who might like to come over and read some of your writings!

The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie

25361840

The Drifter is 31 year-old Peter Ash, a former Marine Lieutenant who spent 8 years deployed.  Peter fought in two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Having been schooled in economics, Peter should have returned home to a bright future, but instead he has returned with PTSD, in the form of a “white static” in his head, which triggers a panic attack from acute claustrophobia.  Peter can no longer spend time indoors, in crowds, or in brightly lit areas, so he has spent the last 12 months on the trails of Northern Washington hiking and sleeping under the stars.

When Peter gets a call from one of his war buddies that his former sergeant and close friend Jimmy Johnson has committed suicide, he feels compelled to return to society to help out the man’s family.  Jimmy has left behind a wife, Dinah and his two boys Charlie and Miles.

As Peter sleeps in his truck at night, he begins to help Dinah with repairs to her home during the day.  He starts work on Dinah’s porch and makes two unwanted discoveries.  The first is a dog; the meanest, ugliest dog he’s ever laid eyes on.  The second discovery is a suitcase filled with explosives and $400000.00 in cash, leading Peter on a quest to find out what Jimmy was up to in his final days.

The Drifter focuses on the many things that happen to war veterans when they try to resume their normal lives, treating their plight with sensitivity and at the same time, educating us on the realities that they have to face.  Peter’s character was well fleshed-out.  I loved his interaction with the dog a lot, along with his sense of humor.  He rescues this dog that will most likely try to tear his head off, and tries his hardest not to hurt it.  Then, when he gets it out from under the porch, he immediately thinks of naming the mangy male dog Daisy or Cupcake!  The storyline was wrapped up tidily, while at the same time leaving room for character growth in the next book of the series.

I want to thank the publisher (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) for providing me with the ARC through the Goodreads Giveaways program for an honest review.

small ghostsmall ghostsmall ghostsmall ghost

Kitty's Books

Readers & Writers Blog

Meaning Beyond Words

Books, life, and awkwardness.

All Mini Leeches

I write, I read, I watch, I turn into a werewolf

citygirlscapes

two girls. one city.

the fun in reading books

BOOKS and ME and EVERYTHING in between!

Jesus Freak Reader

Book Reviews, Makeup, Travel

Bean's Bookshelf and Coffee Break

Living in my head with fiction as my compass and coffee as my fuel

swytla

Blog of a book lover, movie and TV watcher, a distracted writer, and overall curious person

Bookish Things and Tea

"There was no way in hell she was moving to the southern continent without all of her books." -Sarah J. Maas

Young Adult Book Madness

YA & NA Book Reviews

ninireads.png

may your book cover never crease!

Periods and Semicolons

Living life, one page at a time.

Kitty's Books

Readers & Writers Blog

Meaning Beyond Words

Books, life, and awkwardness.

All Mini Leeches

I write, I read, I watch, I turn into a werewolf

citygirlscapes

two girls. one city.

the fun in reading books

BOOKS and ME and EVERYTHING in between!

Jesus Freak Reader

Book Reviews, Makeup, Travel

Bean's Bookshelf and Coffee Break

Living in my head with fiction as my compass and coffee as my fuel

swytla

Blog of a book lover, movie and TV watcher, a distracted writer, and overall curious person

Bookish Things and Tea

"There was no way in hell she was moving to the southern continent without all of her books." -Sarah J. Maas

Young Adult Book Madness

YA & NA Book Reviews

ninireads.png

may your book cover never crease!

Periods and Semicolons

Living life, one page at a time.

Kenyan Library

Life in the pages

Sorry Television

Reading a book a week

Busty Book Bimbo

A life measured in books and cups of tea

A lazy Squirrel's reading guide

Recommendations with a handful of nuts

%d bloggers like this: