Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Quick Used Bookstore Pick-Me-Ups

Beholder's Eye (Web Shifters) by Julie E. Czerneda

"United in their natural form they are one, sharing all their memories, experiences, and lives. Apart they are six, the only existing members of their ancient race, a species with the ability to assume any form once they understand its essence.  
Their continued survival in a universe filled with races ready to destroy anyone perceived as different is based on the Rules. And first among those Rules is: Never reveal your true nature to another being. But when the youngest among them, Esen-alit-Quar, receives her first independent assignment to a world considered safe to explore, she stumbles into a trap no one could have anticipated.  
Her only means of escape lies in violating the First Rule. She reveals herself to a fellow captive―a human being/ While this mistake might not ordinarily prove fatal, the timing of the event could not be worse. For something new has finally made its way into the Universe, the Enemy of the Web, bringer of death to all forms of life. And the hunt it about to begin."

Ravenmocker: A Molly Bearpaw Mystery by Jean Hager

"The award-winning author of The Grandfather Medicine introduces Molly Bearpaw, an investigator for the Cherokee Tribe, who looks into a mysterious case of botulism in a local nursing home. She is also asked to verify that the victim's heart was not stolen by a ravenmocker--a Cherokee witch. In sorting through the means and motives for the murder, Molly enters a deadly race for time."

Monday, January 28, 2019

Sweet 16 - R. L. Stine's Cheerleader Series Recap

As a part of my little January Sweet 16 TBR, I read my way through the entirety of R. L. Stine’s Fear Street Cheerleader series (one per day). It came as my way of nodding and recognizing my roots for mystery/whodunit fiction, and how now was the perfect time to revisit one of my favorite young adult series from my time. And, despite twenty-years worth of distance, I found myself still in love with the stories. Mostly. Think about it, though. High school cheerleaders combating a possessing and murderous evil spirit, that was essentially exacerbating the nature of teenage jealousy. An evil spirit who gets inside one girl per book (except for books four and five) to commit its deadly deeds–with "reasonable" nudgings of crushing the competition with newfound power. And each book the questions are: Who's the possessed girl? How do you destroy an evil spirit which keeps coming back?

Still good stuff indeed, man. Really, really good stuff. The series predates my "learning" of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer (the TV show–that is). But the Cheerleaders series definitely has that same metaphoric bend in relating surviving high school with... well... the monster within. I just don't think Stine give it the same thought, though.

Friday, January 25, 2019

What Design For Murder Left Me With ~ By Carolyn G. Hart

"When mystery bookstore owner Annie Laurance is invited to stage a Mystery Night for the annual antebellum house tour of the Historical Preservation Society of Chastain, South Carolina, she instead finds herself the leading lady in a flesh-and-blood drama. The play's the thing wherein the curtain falls on mean-spirited grande dame Corinne Webster. While jeweled fingers point, accusing Annie of murder, the perpetrator lurks within the genteel cast of Murder-Most-Make-Believe . . . and the murder weapon is one of the props. 
In the tight-laced society of Chastain, Annie is guilty until proven innocent. With her fiance, Max Darling, Annie pieces together evidence to clear her name—until her chief witness is murdered. Now it will take all her sleuthing skills to discover the evil in the heart of Chastain's Beautiful People."
The second book in the Death on Demand cozy series came away with a decent four stars from me. I wasn’t bothered by the lengthy coloring of the various characters. Nor was I bothered by the setup before the first murder and whodunit struck almost 100 pages in. Nope. It didn’t bother me because I like the way Hart writes characters–as they feel alive.
Yet, what did bother me was the main character, Anne. She came across as too much of a commanding, reactive know-it-all. And I found myself bothered with how she treated her boyfriend Max. She was rather dismissive of him one too many times.
Nonetheless, hey, I’m ready for the third book in the series. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Clip Second Book Hesitations ~ Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett

"The streets of Stoneham, New Hampsire are lined with bookstores...and paved with murder.  
When she moved to Stoneham, city slicker Tricia Miles met nothing but friendly faces. And when she opened her mystery bookstore, she met friendly competition. But when she finds Doris Gleason dead in her own cookbook store, killed by a carving knife, the atmosphere seems more cutthroat than cordial. Someone wanted to get their hands on the rare cookbook that Doris had recently purchased-and the locals think that someone is Tricia. To clear her name, Tricia will have to take a page out of one of her own mysteries-and hunt down someone who isn't killing by the book."

Sisterhood & Victimhood

I am deeeeep on the fence about going into the second book of this series. I found the main character and bookshop owner, Trisha, to be obnoxious as all get-out. She had this laser, scornful and judgmental attitude that I couldn’t get with. And said attitude came aimed toward her older sister, Angelica. Yet, I got it. I got the reason why Trisha was more or less glad to see the arrival of her sister.

You see, the two have a jealous-geared and acrimonious relationship rooted in their childhood. It came from the individual treatment both ladies received from their parents. To keep it simple, Angelica's personality received much more parental attention than Trisha's. It's a cool way to build character and add backstory–for sure. Still, with over twenty years of Trisha begrudging Angelica's existence and whining about their childhood throughout the book; I grew to dislike Trisha.

It got to be too much. Especially when I didn't find her as pleasant as her sister. Which was kind of ironic considering Trisha is carrying the book. Anyway, I can't count how many times I screamed: “Good god, girl! Get over it!”

However, the twist is that I want to see how their relationship develops. The double-twist, I would read the second book for Angelica alone.

Interesting development, but it may take me a minute to get to the second book.

My added gripe. Trisha got more annoying to me the second she used the word "retarded" to describe another individual. As someone who works with people with certain disabilities, I was fuming. And certainly giving the author the side-eye.


Anyway, this is what I left the book feeling.  The mystery wasn't exactly glowing.  Standard.  Formulaic.  Traditional.  Commercial.  Not all that exciting.  It was the relationship between the two sisters that made it worth the time.

Friday, January 11, 2019

(3) Last Year's Disappointing Reads | Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen

(Sorry I forgot to put an accouterment/image of the book up on the screen.  I was multi-tasking and running out the door while doing the final save of the video.)

It took me a few years to get over my hesitation with going into this series.  I was just never sure as to what I was going to get, hence the "blind date" analogy mentioned in the video.  Nevertheless, while it did disappoint, I am going into the proceeding book with hope.

Her Royal Spyness (A Royal Spyness Mystery) by Rhys Bowen
"London, 1932. Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, 34th in line for the English throne, is flat broke. She's bolted Scotland, her greedy brother, and her fish-faced betrothed. London is a place where she'll experience freedom, learn life lessons aplenty, do a bit of spying for HRH—oh, and find a dead Frenchman in her tub. Now her new job is to clear her long family name..."

Thursday, January 10, 2019

(2) Last Year's Disappointing Reads | Serpentine by Laurell K Hamilton

I.  Have.  Got.  To.  End.  Reading.  This.  Series.

Serpentine (Anita Blake #26) by Laurell K. Hamilton
"A remote Florida island is the perfect wedding destination for the upcoming nuptials of Anita’s fellow U.S. Marshal and best friend, Edward. For Anita, the vacation is a welcome break, as it’s the first trip she gets to take with just wereleopards Micah and Nathaniel. But it’s not all fun and games and bachelor parties…  
In this tropical paradise, Micah discovers a horrific new form of lycanthropy, one that has afflicted a single family for generations. Believed to be the result of an ancient Greek curse, it turns human bodies into a mass of snakes.  
When long-simmering resentment leads to a big blowp within the wedding party, the last thing Anita needs is more drama. But it finds her anyway when women start disappearing from the hotel, and worse, her own friends and lovers are considered the prime suspects. There’s a strange power afoot that Anita has never confronted before, a force that’s rendering those around her helpless. Unable to face it on her own, Anita is willing to accept help from even the deadliest places. Help that she will most certainly regret—if she survives at all, that is…"


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

(1) Last Year's Disappointing Reads | The Terrans by Jean Johnson

I wanted to read more sci-fi books.  Especially those with female leads.  So, spurred by the insta-love I felt for Tanya Huff's female space marine, Torin Kerr, I gave Johnson's series a go.  And that go did not exactly pan out as I'd hoped.  Leaving me with a disappointing read...  Pardon me for those who are familiar with the book if I missed some summary details.  I read the book in July and swiftly sold it soon after.

The Terrans - First Salik War by Jean Johnson
"Born into a political family and gifted with psychic abilities, Jacaranda MacKenzie has served as a border-watcher and even spent time as a representative on the United Planets Council. Now she just wants to spend her days in peace and quiet as a translator—but the universe has other plans… 
Humans have long known that they would encounter more alien species, and while those with precognitive abilities agree a terrible war is coming, they do not agree on who will save humanity—a psychic soldier or a politician. 
But Jackie is both. 
After she is pressured into rejoining the Space Force to forestall the impending calamity, Jackie makes an unsettling discovery. Their new enemy, the Salik, seem to be rather familiar with fighting Humans—as if their war against humanity had already begun…"

Too much set-up, mundane details and "star gazing".  Not enough movement. 

Friday, January 4, 2019

I Guess the 1st Book Haul of 2019

Barnes & Noble Pick-Ups

Murder with Fried Chicken and Waffles (A Mahalia Watkins Mystery) by A. L. Herbert.  I’ve seen this floating around once or twice.  It’s a black cozy mystery (series) with a soulfood-themed hook.  And Death by Dumpling is in the same vein of a food inspired mysteries.  Except the author, Vivien Chien, takes on the Chinese noodle shop as her hook.

 Barnes & Noble Online Pick-Ups

Wednesday, January 2, 2019



Last year I put 17 down.  Same for 2019.  I use that number because I love the number, and because I only use Goodreads Reading Challenge to track what I've read over the year.   It's just a cool tool use.

And that's it.  I guess...

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Sweet 16 - Tentative High School Revisited Reading TBR

The first thing I thought when I woke up New Year’s Day was how in two months it’ll be twenty years since I turned sixteen-years-old. How. In. The. BLOODY. FUCKIN’. HELL! Did. This. Happen? No. Seriously. Where was I in the last twenty years?

Anyway, for whatever reason I kept thinking about this blind leap through time. And as I started grudging around looking for something to start the new year reading (while fussing and sipping coffee), I eventually slumped into nostalgia. I thought about how R. L. Stine's Fear Street Cheerleaders series introduced me to the Whodunit of reading. I thought about how much I grew from ages 13 to 18 being a loyal and dedicated reader to K. A. Applegate's Animorphs series from its debut in '96 to its end in '01.

Needless to say, the reflections on my teenage reading kept coming. I thought about how I tried to emulate many of my favorite authors by writing similar stories to theirs back then. And, well, I thought about time and how it goes by so fast. As well as how memories keep us warm and remind us how special our lives really are when things don't always seem so sweet in the here and now.

That's when I got up to create a TBR reflecting my readings back in and around 1999–give or take. Authors like Naoko Takeuchi [Sailor Moon], K. A. Applegate [Animorphs], R. L. Stine [Fear Street], and T. A. Barron [The Ancient One] all came to mind. Luckily, I’ve kept all my early readings and decided to pull a few out to compose a sort of Sweet 16 Tentative High School Revisited Reading TBR to take on between my regular reading.

Let's kill some cheerleaders with R. L. Stine, baby!

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