Monthly Archives: May 2017

Pieces of My Life by Rachel Dann

A journey she never expected…

Pieces of My Life Rachel DannTitlePieces of My Life
Author:  Rachel Dann
Publish Date:  May 17, 2017
Genre:  Romance
Source:  NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Publisher’s Description:

Kirsty is happy. Really, she is. After five years with her boyfriend, Harry, she’s ready to take things to the next step and turn that spare room into a little nursery. And she thought Harry was too.

Only, it turns out that Harry’s ‘big news’ is actually not that he wants to try for a baby, but that he wants to travel to South America – with Kirsty! She’ll just have to trust that after their trip of a lifetime, Harry will be ready to settle down for good.

Arriving in hot, steamy Ecuador it soon becomes clear that Harry is hiding something. Something that he’s been hiding for years. And as Kirsty’s dreams are at risk of shattering, she begins to pick up the pieces of the life that she’s put off for so long…

Spoilers Ahead.  *BEWARE*


Ruby_Lee_100Ruby Lee says…

A few weeks ago, on a long car ride, I had a good discussion with a friend about the reputation of the romance genre and books that are classified as “Chick Lit.”  Many people feel that these genres have nothing important to say.  I argued that it depends on the author and not the genre to give a book meaning.  Pieces of My Life is the perfect example to support that argument.

Before I read Pieces of my Life only 45 books out of my 696 read books on Goodreads hadbadge5v5 5 star ratings.  After reading this brilliantly designed story, there are 46. Rachel Dann weaves together a story that speaks about social justice issues for women in Ecuador, South America, reconnecting with a distant father, a young woman’s journey to find herself, and intrigue of a great love story.

In most books, I would argue that these are too many themes for one book, but Dann has the magic ability to make them flow together flawlessly.   She creates rich and deep characters that come alive in a reader’s mind.  When the book ended, I immediately began to miss them.

Amazingly, this is Dann’s first book which leads me to wonder where she has been all this time.  If this is her first try, I can’t wait to see what’s next.  We might have to add higher numbers to our rating system.

Other reviews…

If you like this book, try…

Red Runes by Nicholas Olivo

Doc Graystone and the Red Runes is a great escape for anyone looking for a short, unique fantasy story with hints of mystery and supernatural thrills!

Red Rune Nicholas OlivoTitle: Red Runes
Author: Nicholas Olivo
SeriesAdventures of Doc Graystone
Publish Date:  April 10, 2015
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source:  Provided by the author (and purchased)

Publisher’s DescriptionBoston, 1932. The police are baffled by a series of killings in which the victims have had mystical runes carved into their flesh. Enter Doc Graystone, gentleman necromancer. Adept at delivering two-fisted necromantic justice, Graystone battles demons, revenants, and ragmen in a race against the clock to stop a madman from destroying the world as we know it.

Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel (in other words, SPOILERS!)


Nervous_Nellie_100Nervous Nellie says…

Welcome to the world of necromancy. In the year 1932, in Boston, Massachusetts, there is a doctor who is very proficient at necromancy and solving crimes by asking the victim “who done it?”  I kind of feel like it’s cheating, but where killers are concerned, one must take whatever advantage one finds.  Doc Graystone is looney bin material according to his peers.  He is grieving over the loss of his fiance and I got the hint that he had something to do with it.  He has been perpetually drunk and disorderly since the “incident” and has become a recluse while wallowing in his guilt. Practicing necromancy cannot be good for the soul and with this first short story, little is revealed about how he came to practice or what kinds of cases he has solved.  Also, he portrays his peers as idiots, so I’m interested in discovering “the rest of the story.”

badge3v4This little novella (all 5 are on average 43 pages each) is a very good intro to this Indiana Jones type character.  He knows a lot about the big bad beasties living in the world and he’s nobody’s fool. He can reanimate corpse’s to get their last words and get to the bottom of suspicious deaths.

I have not started #2 in the series yet, but that’s only because I wanted to write this review and give ya’ll a heads up regarding this quick little escape.  It’s worth your time.  I enjoyed it!

Kat Mandu says… 

I loved this novella! I’ve always been fascinated by necromancy, despite its dark reputation. Olivo takes the idea of necromantic control, ennervation, and soul bargaining and plays with its potential. The focus isn’t necessarily on the magic so much as the intention behind it and I love its endless possibilities, not to mention all the hints the author throws out referring to various things about the gentleman necromancer. Grant Graystone seems to have all kinds of secrets, some involving his fiancee’s death and maybe some darker pacts of his own that may come to haunt him later.

I really enjoyed this particular adventure and I can’t wait to read the rest. I don’t really have any dislikes towards it, beyond wishing a couple things would have been explained more (like his relationship with Victor, the ghost in the theatre; or how Joan died and what role he had to play in it; or how he was able to summon a particular carriage driver from the Beyond and what happened with the girl – I mean, he probably fulfilled his promise, but it was never mentioned so there was no finality to it). But those are things that could possibly be answered in the next installments, so perhaps I’ll receive my answers when I read on.

Other reviews…

If you like this book, try…

We Remember

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

– By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae  
     Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915
during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium

Ruby_Lee_100When I was a child, I remember walking around my grandma’s small town with her and my sister selling paper poppies for a donation to the American Legion Auxiliary.  I always had a wonderful experience talking with people and being with my grandma. However, I didn’t understand the impact of the act of asking a person to buy a poppy.  Looking back, I remember how sometimes voices would get softer or hands would tremble as they retrieved money from their billfolds.  Were they thinking about their own experiences in the Armed Services?  Were they remembering a friend or family member that never came back?

The popular phrase is that freedom isn’t free.  There are right. It is paid for by the blood, sweat, tears, and time of millions of Americans going back to the first person to give his life in the American Revolution.  Today, we honor all of those that went before us and made the path for our freedom and all of those that still fight today to keep it.  I encourage each of you to attend the Memorial Day service being held in your community.  The services usually are not long and you will have the chance to remember and recognize the heroes from your area.

Thank you to all who have served or are serving for our country.

Thank you to all the families of these amazing heroes

Thank you to all those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.  We remember you.

May God bless you all.  May God bless America!

Nell’s Gossip and Book Hunt 5/28/17

This weekly installment is intended to help readers find out the news in the book world.  Pull up a chair and get in on the fun.  This Sunday, I feature new releases.  If you know of any that sound good and I missed, please let me know!

There are seriously so many good books being released that I feel my Mount TBR will avalanche all around me any minute.  I am happy to read them all, as I’m sure we all are!

  •  This title is released by Harlequin, but if you know the name Jeaniene Frost, you know exactly the amount of adventure involved.

Title:  The Sweetest Burn
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Series:  Broken Destiny#2
Release date:
June 27, 2017
Genre: Fantasy/Suspense/Romance
Publisher’s Description: Conquering a supernatural realm turned out to be easier than getting over a broken heart. But her initial victory has made Ivy a target for revenge, forcing her to reunite with the dangerous—and dangerously sexy—Adrian. Ivy isn’t sure which will be harder: finding the hallowed weapon that will repair the crumbling walls between the demon and human realms, or resisting Adrian, who’s decided that come hell or high water, he will make Ivy his. 

At first, Adrian tried to resist his feelings for Ivy. Now, determined to break the curse that dooms their love, he’s vowed to save her and to have her. If only he can persuade her to forgive his past sins. But defying destiny—and surrendering to the smoldering desire between them—will bring consequences and sacrifices they never imagined…

  •  I love Bec MacMaster’s books.  The adventure and mystery is more of the story than the actual romance.  Her world of London Steampunk is so vivid and colorful that I feel like I’m right there with them.

Title: The Mech Who Loved Me
Author: Bec MacMaster
Series:  London Steampunk: The Blueblood Conspiracy #2
Release date: June 27, 2017
Genre: Steampunk Fantasy
Publisher’s Description:  Ava McLaren is tired of being both a virgin, and a mere laboratory assistant for the Company of Rogues. When a baffling mystery rears its head, it presents her with the opportunity to work a real case… and perhaps get a taste of the passion that eludes her.

Blue bloods are dying from a mysterious disease, which should be impossible. Ava suspects there’s more to the case than meets the eye and wants a chance to prove herself. There’s just one catch—she’s ordered to partner with the sexy mech, Kincaid, who’s a constant thorn in her side. Kincaid thinks the only good blue blood is a dead one. He’s also the very last man she would ever give her heart to… which makes him the perfect candidate for an affair.

The only rule? It ends when the case does.

But when an attempt on her life proves that Ava might be onto something, the only one who can protect her is Kincaid. Suddenly the greatest risk is not to their hearts, but whether they can survive a diabolical plot that threatens to destroy every blue blood in London—including Ava.

  •  A whole new series by Kathy Reichs? Who can say no to that! I love Temperance Brennan, but it’s time to meet Sunday Night.

Title:  Two Nights
Author: Kathy Reichs
Release date: June 30, 2017
Genre: Thriller/Mystery
Publisher’s Description:  Meet Sunday Night, a woman with physical and psychological scars, and a killer instinct. . . .
Sunnie has spent years running from her past, burying secrets and building a life in which she needs no one and feels nothing.
But a girl has gone missing, lost in the chaos of a bomb explosion, and the family needs Sunnie s help.
Is the girl dead?Did someone take her?If she is out there, why doesn t she want to be found?
It s time for Sunnie to face her own demons because they just might lead her to the truth about what really happened all those years ago.

  •  Don’t forget about the short story that Faith Hunter will be publishing in the new anthology released August 1, 2017.  The story is from Leo’s perspective.  If you don’t know who Leo is, pick up the Jane Yellowrock series that Faith writes.  You will not be sad because it is so very good.
  •  A new series crossover will be released from Susan Stoker on September 5, 2017.  This looks like another I’ll get hooked on.

Title:  Protecting Dakota
Author:  Susan Stoker
Series:  Sleeper SEALS Book 1 crossover with SEAL of Protection series 
Genre:  Contemporary Military Romance
Release date:  September 5, 2017

Publisher’s Description:  The Sleeper SEALs, are former U.S. Navy SEALs recruited by a new CIA counter-terror division to handle solo dark ops missions to combat terrorism on U.S. soil.

PROTECTING DAKOTA

Dakota James’s life has become the stuff of nightmares. The leader of the Ansar al-Shari’a terrorist group has become obsessed with her, determined to take her as his wife. On the run, she’ll have to pin her hopes on the retired SEAL charged with finding and stopping Aziz Fourati before he can carry out plans to bomb more US airports.

Recently recruited to join a sleeper SEAL team tasked with fighting terrorism on US soil, Slade “Cutter” Cutsinger, with the help of some Special Forces friends, has located the one woman who can identify the deadly Ansar al-Shari’a leader. That was the easy part. Keeping her safe proves more difficult than anyone ever imagined.

When she and her new friend, Caroline, are kidnapped by the terrorist group, Dakota can only pray Cutter and the SEALs will reach them before they’re taken out of the country–and away from Cutter forever.

Title:  The Trouble with Twelfth Grave
Author: Darynda Jones
Series:  Charley Davidson 
Release Date:  October 31, 2017
Genre:  Urban Fantasy/Romance
Publisher’s Description:  Ever since Reyes escaped from a hell dimension in which Charley accidently trapped him, the son of Satan has been brimstone-bent on destroying the world his heavenly Brother created. His volatile tendencies have put Charley in a bit of a pickle. But that’s not the only briny vegetable on her plate. While trying to domesticate the feral being that used to be her husband, she also has to deal with her everyday life of annoying all manner of beings—some corporeal, some not so much—as she struggles to right the wrongs of society. Only this time she’s not uncovering a murder. This time she’s covering one up.

Add to that her new occupation of keeping a startup PI venture—the indomitable mystery-solving team of Amber Kowalski and Quentin Rutherford—out of trouble and dealing with the Vatican’s inquiries into her beloved daughter, and Charley is on the brink of throwing in the towel and becoming a professional shopper. Or possibly a live mannequin. But when someone starts attacking humans who are sensitive to the supernatural world, Charley knows it’s time to let loose her razor sharp claws. Then again, her number one suspect is the dark entity she’s loved for centuries. So the question becomes, can she tame the unruly beast before it destroys everything she’s worked so hard to protect?

 

 

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The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Written in 1970, Witches of Worm introduces us to a very different kind of middle-grade. In this short book, Jessica is a twelve-year-old girl who “rescues” a cat she names Worm, only to discover the decision may lead to her own demise.

Title: The Witches of Worm 
Author: Zilpha Keatley Snyder 
Series: Stand-alone.
Publish Date: February 1, 1973
Genre: Middle-grade fantasy
Source: Purchased by the reviewer.

Publisher’s Description:

Jessica has read enough books to know that her cat Worm must be a witch’s cat. He’s cast a spell on her, but to whom can she turn? After all, no one will believe that Worm has bewitched her . . . or worse…

 


Kat Mandu says…

Maybe people who read this in the seventies wouldn’t have realized that the lead character of Witches of Worm, Jessica, is actually well on her way to becoming a sociopath. Seriously, this girl has some issues. She can lie well and displace the blame just as easily. Not to mention she says some pretty creepy stuff to Worm – threatening to abuse him, to stop feeding him, pinning the blame on him for all her silly, childish pranks. There are several incidences where she’s physically cruel to Worm, and also a mention of how she beats a dog with a stick and her friend Brandon had to stop her. And overall, she’s angry and bitter. If it hadn’t been for her regret at the end, I’d say she was definitely going to lead a very dark life.

However, she’s also very young and doesn’t exactly have the best role model in her life, as her mother is never around and when she is, she tries to be manipulative and emotional.

This story isn’t really about witchcraft or magic, like I originally thought it might be given the title. But it does make you wonder about the different devils in everyone, and how many are able to shove aside the guilt for their mistakes onto someone else. Really, that’s what this book is about. In it, Jessica does a lot of bad things – pull pranks on her paranoid landlord’s wife, shrink her mother’s dress on purpose, shove Brandon’s trumpet out a high window and break it. She then convinces herself that her creepy-looking cat is the culprit behind her evil acts. But really, she’s just messed up. A messed up kid, but messed up nevertheless.

It’s also rather about forgiveness in a way.

I was intrigued by this story and all its weird interactions. I don’t really read stuff written this long ago unless it’s a “classic.” Or at least not kid’s books. So I give it a four because the plot really hooked me. 

 

Other recommendations…

…you might try  The Egypt Game, also by Zilpha Keadley Snyder, not to mention The Seance by Joan Lowery Nixon and A Gift of Magic by Lois Duncan.