Monday, December 31, 2018

Book Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black @hollyblack

The Wicked King by Holly Black book cover and review
Time for one last review before the end of the year, and it's a good one! The Wicked King, sequel to The Cruel Prince, incorporates the same slow building danger and tension as the first book.

If you haven't read The Cruel Prince, be warned --spoilers ahead!

Jude has control of Cardan, the King. The problem is, she only has it for one year and one day, not nearly enough time for her little brother, Oak, to be ready to take over as king.

And just because the king has to do everything Jude says, it still isn't easy being a human in Faerie. As she tries to build new relationships and keep up her relationship with the Court of Shadows she also must deal with the fact that someone close to her has betrayed her. She can trust no one. And the Queen of the Undersea is threatening war against Faerie. Jude ends up in the biggest fight for her life as of yet.

The Wicked King takes a while to get going. Maybe it is because I couldn't remember all of the details from the first book, but I had a hard time keeping track for about the first quarter of the book. This is a pretty complex world with lots of characters and alliances to remember. Black slowly gives out tidbits that helped me to recall the important facets of The Cruel Prince. And once I settled into this world again, I was sorely hooked. The twist at the end was stunning! Now there will be a long wait for the next book.

If you've read The Cruel Prince, don't wait to read The Wicked King. If you are a fan of fae books, this is a great series--not to be missed.

Published by Little, Brown BFYR, January 8, 2019
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
336 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Saturday, December 29, 2018

Book Review: The General's Daughter, by Nelson DeMille

The General's Daughter by Nelson DeMille book cover and review
I almost forgot to review this book!  I'm not sure why The General's Daughter came on my radar, but I enjoyed it. It' is an old book, and only one other book has been published in the series (Paul Brenner Series). Maybe that's a good thing.  The General's Daughter has also been made into a movie starring John Travolta.

The general's daughter has been found dead on a firing range.  Naked, her hands tied to stakes, and her underwear around her neck. Paul Brenner, a member of the Army's investigative team, happens to be on base investigating another case, and he is called in. His involvement in the case is complicated by the politically charged atmosphere the case creates, as well as the fact that he will be working with a rape investigator with whom he has had a previous affair that ended badly.

Turns out the general's daughter, an upstanding Army officer, has secrets. A sex room is discovered in her basement with pictures of all of her conquests. Their faces are hidden, so did one of these men murder her? Or was this a risky sexual encounter gone wrong? The twists and turns keep you interested and guessing.

I liked how, with about 100 pages left, the investigators and the readers are pretty sure who the murderer is. It is still interesting though, as they work to get the proof (or the confession or the disproof.)  The banter between Paul and his ex is entertaining, and the idea that they might get back together adds another element of intrigue to the story.

I flew through The General's Daughter. It was the right book at the right time, and I enjoyed the military aspect, the politics involved, and the twisted lives these people lived. It all added up to a compelling mystery/thriller. Recommended to those who enjoy the genre.

Published by Warner, 1992
eBook obtained from the library
454 pages

Rating: 4.5/5

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Thursday, December 20, 2018

Audiobook Review: Educated by Tara Westover

Educated by Tara Westover book cover and review
Westover's memoir, Educated, struck me as it explores the pull of a family connection no matter what sort of instabilities are present.

Tara grew up in rural Idaho in a Mormon family where her father was bipolar, and her mother overlooked all sorts of really terrible situations that her seven children were exposed to.

Facts of Tara's life: her mother is an herbalist, and they were not allowed to go to the doctor. For anything. Broken bones, burns--nothing. Her mother was also an unlicensed midwife and suffered brain damage in a car accident.

Her father is a survivalist hoarding weapons, gasoline, water, food, etc. The family owns a junkyard and Tara and her siblings were required to work in it. Safety was of no concern, and this is where many of the accidents happened, but "God would protect them."

Her older brother was physically abusive, and no one seemed to care.

They were not allowed to go to school. Their homeschooling was nonexistent, until Tara decided, at the age of 17, to study and pass the ACT so she could go to college.

While reading this, you keep thinking, "Don't go back!" Why would you want to subject yourself to the danger and instability of life at home? But Tara returns, again and again, even trying to crawl back after her entire family, and extended family, have disowned her. It's easy to think she was stupid, but I'm reading this having grown up in a "normal," safe environment surrounded by friends and family that were neither mentally ill, nor religious fanatics. My family was easy to love.

It borders on disbelief. But even if some of what she remembers isn't entirely accurate (and she admits this at times) it paints a picture of where her mind was, and is, and how her extreme changes in mindset came about after years of education and some counseling.

So what struck me after reading Educated is that everyone needs family or some type of substitute family. We crave it. We are compelled to return to our roots. And for Westover, this was the source of turmoil that took her years to overcome. I'm sure she is still working on overcoming it.

The narrator, Julia Whelan, is excellent. I believed that this was Tara telling her story.

Fans of memoirs of difficult childhoods (ex: The Glass Castle) will enjoy (well, that might not be exactly the right adjective) Educated.

Published by Random House, February 20, 2018
Audiobook obtained from the library
352 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Book Review: Orphan Monster Spy, by Matt Killeen @by_Matt_Killeen

Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen book cover and review
Right before the holidays is probably not the best time to read Orphan Monster Spy, since it is a chilling tale about a child spying during World War II. It's a very compelling novel, but I'm glad I'm finished!

Sarah has nothing left. She's just witnessed her mother being shot as they were trying to escape. She's on her own, it is cold, she's hungry, and she has no papers. She gets some advice from a mysterious stranger as to how to get herself on the ferry to escape, but she ends up saving this stranger rather than saving herself.

An unlikely partnership begins, as she realizes this man is working for the resistance.  Sarah, although a Jew, is blond and blue-eyed, and she can help him.  After everything she's been through, what does she have to lose?

Orphan Monster Spy is an uncomfortable book. Sarah must decide to sacrifice--potentially everything--over and over again as she takes incredible risks to complete her mission. Her decisions are reckless and somewhat unbelievable, but they serve to mount the tension and danger to unbelievable heights.

Teens will get a different perspective of the war, and also see what a difference one person can make if committed to a cause. It is ultimately a story of triumph over all odds that is very satisfying. Orphan Monster Spy is written for teens but also recommended to adults who are interested in another perspective of WWII.

Published by Viking BFYR, March 20, 2018
eBook obtained from the library
432 pages

Rating: 4.5/5

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Monday, December 17, 2018

Book Review: A Christmas Revelation by Anne Perry

A Christmas Revelation by Anne Perry book cover and review
I’ve never read any Anne Perry before, and A Christmas Revelation was a sweet story that warms the heart at Christmastime.

We are in Victorian London, and Worm is a 9-year-old little boy who doesn’t even know what Christmas is.  The former street urchin has recently been taken in by Miss Claudine and given a job at her clinic.  When Worm sees a beautiful lady on the streets abducted by two men, he can’t forget.  He enlists the help of Squeaky, the bookkeeper with his own checkered past.  Together the two of them try to find and help the woman and get involved in a dangerous sting operation to save her.

This is during the Christmas season, and Squeaky is teaching Worm all about the holiday and its traditions as they prepare for the special day. Will they get to enjoy the feast? Or will the bad guys ruin it? You will have to read A Christmas Revelation to find out.

If you are into charming Victorian mysteries, with a bit of excitement and heartwarming characters that are easy to root for, you will enjoy A Christmas Revelation.

Published by Ballentine, November 6, 2018
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
192 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Book Review: The Warriors by Paul Batista

The Warriors is billed as a John Grisham-like legal thriller.  And it is, but a bit gorier.

Raquel Rematti is a high profile New York attorney involved in an astounding case.  Senator Angelina Baldesteri, former first lady and current presidential candidate, has been indicted for tax evasion, money laundering, and election fraud. As the trial progresses, Raquel realizes that this cold, calculating client will do anything to be acquitted, including lying...and possibly even more serious actions. It comes to the attention of the prosecutor that a witness is being bribed.  And Raquel herself is being accused of being involved in the bribery.

Not only is Raquel in danger of losing her career, but even her life. It takes a while for the action to get going, but once it does, it is relentless.  Many major players are losing their lives, and it isn’t quite clear until the very end if Raquel will escape.

Those fans of legal thrillers involving corruption at the highest level, and wanton violence, will enjoy The Warriors.

Published by Oceanview, December 18. 2018
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
336 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Book Review: Broken Lands by Jonathan Maberry @JonathanMaberry @simonschuster

Broken Lands by Jonathan Maberry book cover and review
Wow! Wow! Wow! I'm so happy to be back in the Rot & Ruin. Well, actually, I'm very glad I'm not actually there, but Broken Lands was such a welcome addition to the world that Maberry created in his Benny Imura (Rot & Ruin) series.

Gutsy is our main character.  She lives in New Alamo, a very protected and seemingly thriving community, safe from the "Los Muertos" (her mother's name for the undead.) Her mother has just died from tuberculosis - yes, many of the old diseases have returned. And when Gutsy buries her in the Catholic tradition - tied up but not quieted--someone digs her up and brings her back to Gutsy's house. Who would do that?

Gutsy has a great group of friends, both young and old, that are helping her through her loss. But when Gutsy witnesses many of the dead being dug up, she realizes that all is not what it seems in New Alamo. The danger isn't just from the undead, there is danger within.

Meanwhile, Benny, Chong, Nix, and the others are safe (and a little bored) in Reclamation. The people have established contact with many other towns, including Asheville, North Carolina, where there is a huge settlement and the beginnings of a new government. When all contact is lost with Asheville and Joe Ledger's (who was on his way to Asheville) whereabouts are unknown, the teens decide they can't wait for the adults to do something. After all, Chung's medication comes from Asheville and without it, he succumbs to the virus. So they craft a daring plan to leave the safety of Reclamation and go in search of Joe Ledger.

It is fairly obvious that these two groups of kids are going to meet up. But the why and how isn't clear. And what about Joe? Well, there is a big surprise there too.

I loved the Rot & Ruin series. For some reason, these characters grabbed me from the start. The tension is palpable as they fight off both Zombies, bad guys, and everything nature can throw at them using an unusual and creative variety of methods. So, to have the story continue in Broken Lands is very satisfying. I'm "all in" and can't wait for the next installment--huge cliffhanger in this one, by the way.

Broken Lands is the start of a new series and could be read without reading the previous books. There is enough backstory given to help everything make sense. But...WHY would you not want to read Rot & Ruin first? I think Broken Lands will be much more enjoyable if you have the whole story. So, what are you waiting for? I can't recommend these books enough to horror lovers. Even horror likers. Maberry is exceptional.

Published by Simon & Shuster BFYR, December 11, 2018
eARC obtained from Edelweiss.
544 pages

Rating: 5/5

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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Book Review: One Day in December, by Josie Silver

One Day in December by Josie Silver book cover and review
Sometimes I don't pay much attention to book blurbs.  I thought, because of the title, that One Day in December was a Christmas romance. It is a really heartwarming and entertaining romance, but not a Christmas book.

One day (in December) Laurie is on a bus and makes eye contact with a cute guy at a bus stop and there is some electricity between them. But the bus drives away. Laurie spends more than a year (along with her roommate Sarah's help) looking for this mystery man. Sarah isn't just a roommate, she and Laurie are best friends and would do anything for each other. Laurie never finds the guy...until...Sarah introduces Laurie to her new boyfriend, who she has fallen head-over-heels for. It's Jack--the guy at the bus stop.

Laurie can't tell Sarah because Sarah is so happy.  Jack doesn't say anything, so Laurie assumes he doesn't remember her. The reader gets Jack's perspective though, so we know he does remember her.

Life goes on for Laurie, Jack, and Sarah.  They are happy, most of the time.  Relationships end and begin. I won't go into details, but I found it difficult to know what to wish for.

One Day in December kept me entertained and it was a quick, cute read. The characters were well described and the situation seemed a bit hopeless. They do get their "happily ever after" though, so we get nice closure.

If you are in the mood for an intriguing romance that is heartfelt and a bit complicated, check out One Day in December.

Published by Broadway Books, October 16, 2018
eARC obtained from NetGalley
416 pages

Rating: 4/5

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