Today's Grateful List/3 October 2015

  • Rainy days spent at home
  • Doctor Who
  • Popcorn
  • Things getting better

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Nine Lives: A Lily Dale Mystery

I admit that I hadn't read others in this Lily Dale series before picking up Nine Lives, but apparently that's not a necessity, luckily for me. The premise sounded good and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, so I decided to give it a go. And all in all, I'm glad I did.

This is the story of Bella, whose husband Sam has passed away, leaving she and her young son at loose ends. When she's laid off from her teaching job, she feels her only option is to move from New York to Chicago to live with her cold, disapproving mother-in-law. But along the way, her car breaks down in Lily Dale. Yes, THE Lily Dale, home to psychics and mediums, but Bella is at its mercy for a place to stay. Somehow she finds herself in a bed and breakfast, filling in for the owner, who has recently passed away herself. But the kindliness of the townspeople and the appearance of a very pregnant cat--which may or may not have shown up at Bella's former home days earlier--keep Bella and Max in the town while her car is repaired. It sounds like a good thing, but there are some decidedly odd events going on, and Bella becomes certain that Leona, the previous owner, was murdered. Will she and Max be safe here, even for a few days.

There's a lot to like in this story. Bella's determination to get on with her life despite her losses makes her easily sympathetic and Chance the Cat is a good anchor for the home and for both Bella and Max. There are some very odd people in Lily Dale, but most are believably written, especially when one considers the setting for the story. There are some weird occurances, and Bella's unsettled nature fuels a sense of urgency. But it's the idea that everything happens for a reason that lends a heart to a murder mystery.

My biggest issue with the book is the fact that it's written in third person, present tense, leading to sometimes clunky sentences that seem superficial rather than in-depth. Several times I was pulled out of the story because of the writing style, though I did settle into it about mid-way. Personally, I felt the plot would have benefitted greatly from a first person view point, but that is just my preference because I don't feel the two styles gel particularly well. Overall, however, I ended up liking the book and will probably seek out others in the series.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

How Everyone is Feeling At Work This Week

When you walk in and see your shitty section

Posted by Server_life on Sunday, 23 August 2015

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Scorpion Rules

I just finished The Scorpion Rules, and I have to say I really enjoyed it! I wasn't sure going in, especially since I'd read some not flattering reviews ahead of time (I really need to stop doing that). But it pleases me to no end to be able to give this one two big thumbs up!

Greta is one of the Children of Peace: Rulers in the post-apocalyptic world must give their heirs to a Precepture, sort of a holding camp, from the age of five until the heir turns eighteen. This is done to ensure that no country will wage war on another; if it happens, the heir is killed. It's a mostly successful system, one thought of by the great Talis, an AI who basically rules the world. As the story opens, Greta is certain that the approach of a Swan Rider means she will be killed, but the unfortunate punishment goes to a classmate instead. If she's momentarily relieved, it's fleeting; a new hostage, Elián, comes to the Precepture, and he is nothing but non-compliant. The AIs in charge must make an example of him, and by extension, those in his age group, which includes Greta and her roommate Da-Xia. That alone would be bad enough, but things go from bad to worse when Elián's country invades the Precepture in order to force Greta's country into terms for water. Greta's life hangs in the balance, and there's the reality that someone will have to account for the countries' actions.

There's a lot more going on, of course, including the daily life of study, gardening, and herding goats, but Greta knows her life is forfeit if her country becomes involved in a war. Dealing with AIs also involves torture and the expectation of a certain, reserved behavior, but when your life is on the line, it's hard to stick to all the rules. And with teenagers, there is, of course, a romantic aspect, but in this case, it's not necessarily what you think it's going to be.

Like I said, I really enjoyed this novel. I think Greta is entirely believable, and I found the circumstances surrounding the invasion of the Precepture to be realistic and horrific enough to ring true. There's torture and there are forbidden relationships; there are people who seem to be one thing and others that are just evil. I was a bit worried at first that Talis would become annoying, but surprisingly, I grew to enjoy his interactions. It's a good, edge of your seat story, and I have no problems recommending it to anyone who likes dystopians.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

For a while while I was reading Delia's Shadow, I didn't think I was enjoying the story. I mean, the idea of the story was great--young woman moves back to San Francisco a few years after her parents' deaths in the big quake, but that's not the big thing. No, Delia's biggest problem is that she sees ghosts, and now one has decided to attach itself to her until she solves the mystery of the ghost's death. It sounded cool, and when some rather grisly murders were added in, (necessitating a handsome, grieving police detective), I figured it was a can't miss.

And yet...the storyline felt clunky. We meet Delia's best friend, Sadie, who is getting married and whose mother is dying, and she accepts Delia's problem with no issues whatsoever. I could almost get on board with that, and I did love Gabe, the detective, who lost his wife in the earthquake. I think my biggest problem was the addition of Isadora, a woman who also communes with ghosts but mostly just came off as an irritating drunk. Had she been left out of the story entirely, I would probably be giving the book five full stars.

Don't be mistaken, the longer I read this book, the more I liked it. I could nitpick how the murderer was "found out", but it's a paranormal mystery so that would be pointless. Though I figured out where the story was headed, I was thrown for a loop by a big twist in the murders late in the story, and the friendship between Delia and Gabe blossomed nicely into a full on romance. While the murders were described in rather gory detail, I ended up finding myself caught up in the story and stayed up past my bedtime to finish. I'll be looking for the sequel, but hoping Dora finds a job in another country so she won't be making an appearance.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

True to my word, I didn't wait long after finishing The Chaos to dive into Infinity, the third book in the series. I've got to was almost as good as the other two, and definitely another page turner. If you haven't picked up this series yet, you need to. Let me tell you why.

Infinity picks up two years after The Chaos, and Sarah and Adam are living in a tent, roaming about after an earthquake has devastated London. Along with them they have Sarah's two younger brothers and Mia, Sarah's daughter. When they chance upon a community that seems inviting, Sarah, who is pregnant, really wants to stay, but Adam fears he is still being hunted for his ability to see "numbers"--when a person will die. As it turns out, he's got every reason to be worried, because three men on motorcycles show up looking for him, and they take Mia in order to get to him. Taken to an underground bunker, Adam is separated from Mia and Sarah (who has gone after her daughter), and it's obvious that the men are not the kindly souls they are pretending to be--they want something and they're willing to go to great lengths to get it.

My biggest issue with this installment was the fact that I could never truly understand how the men knew about Mia's number swap--I went back over it and even though I could see why they wanted Adam, I felt like more explanation was needed. I do think the way the story is ultimately resolved was brilliant--the author certainly threw a curve I wasn't expecting, and I loved it! I literally raced through this one, and am sad that the series is done. Creative and riveting, this entire series is an absorbing read. Give it a try.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Rat Pack Again

So, at first I was a little let down by It Was a Very Bad Year...The initial part of the story was redundant of an earlier story, and there seemed like there was no big mystery after all. But I should have known my Eddie G had way more up his sleeve than just finding some racy pictures of an actress. Eddie G and Big Jerry never let me down, and they certainly didn't in this Rat Pack Mystery.

To recap: Eddie is approached by the on-screen wife of Joey Bishop, Abby Dalton, to help retrieve some pictures she made early on in her career that wouldn't uphold her current good girl status. Naturally, Eddie agrees, and since Big Jerry just happens to be in town with his nephew, he enlists the hit man into intimidating the photographer holding the pictures. While there's some breaking and entering involved, this portion of the story resolves quickly and is a bit ho-hum. And then...Frank Sinatra calls. His son, Frankie Jr., has been kidnapped, and he needs his buddy Eddie to help handle the situation. It should come as no surprise that the earlier bit of the story is woven into the second half, and things are not at all what they seem.

It never ceases to amaze me how adeptly Randisi intertwines actual events with those of the fictional Eddie G, and in this case, he has Eddie helping the FBI make the case against the real-life kidnappers. The way Randisi writes the tale, I am almost convinced this is how it really, truly happened. Eddie and Jerry are delightful as always, and the appearances of the Rat Pack and other celebrities add completely to the atmosphere. Bookended by a short narrative of present-day Eddie looking back, this is a fun entry that will keep you turning the pages.


Monday, September 07, 2015

I read Numbers a few years ago and loved it. Went out and bought The Chaos, and put it in my To Be Read pile...where it languished, unread, for far longer than it should have. Recently the book began calling to me (true readers will understand that) so I picked it up and immediately got sucked in. I was thoroughly and totally reminded why I loved Numbers--the chill of impending doom and the inability to make anyone understand because you are so different that others will only think you are crazy.

Adam is the son of Jem (the main character in Numbers). He's inherited her "gift":  He sees people's death dates simply by looking into their eyes. At age fifteen, it becomes apparent to him that something big is going to happen on January 1, 2027, because there are so many people with that date reflected in their eyes. But Adam has no idea what to do about it: he's already too much of an outsider, and before she died, his mother warned both he and his Nan that they should not be in London on that date.

Sarah knows something awful is happening, too, because she continually has nightmares where a boy takes a baby from her and walks into the fire with it. When she meets Adam, she's stunned to realize he's the boy from her dreams--and she is pregnant. Her life harbors much worse secrets, however, and she takes off, but is she able to outrun what's coming?

This book is a page turner from the start, and Adam is a heartbreaker--everything he tries to do ends up coming out wrong somehow. Told in both his and Sarah's points of view, you get the feeling that it's all going to crash down around them, but it does seem to take longer than it should. However, the story is so captivating, and the outcome so expected yet unexpected, I literally inhaled the story. I also ordered Infinity, the final book in the trilogy, but don't worry: It's up next in my reading queue. I won't make the same mistake twice.


Monday, August 31, 2015

Total Brain Candy (Just When I Needed It!)

Be forewarned...if you are looking for deep, meaningful reading, The Bourbon Kings is not the book for you. But if you are interested in good escapist fiction that sucks you into the lives of privileged, spoiled rich people, you're going to be pleasantly surprised. I know I was.

First, let's be clear: There is nothing paranormal about The Bourbon Kings, unlike Ward's uber-successful Black Dagger Brotherhood series. This first book in the series instead relies on a deeply dysfunctional family whose ancestors began the Bradford Bourbon Company; a family that features one daughter and three brothers with deep-seeded scars at the hands of their strict, unfeeling father and emotionally distant mother. The main character is Lane, third son, who has had nothing to do with his family for over two years; he's left the old Kentucky home of Easterly and lives in New York, playing poker and avoiding life. But with a phone call that the woman he feels is his true mother is dying, Lane takes a flight back and ends up staring down his demons:  his father, the family business, the woman he loves, and a wife who somehow is still living with the family despite the estrangement between them.

The points of view shift around a bit in this novel, with Lane and Lizzie (the woman he loved and lost), taking the most pages as family secrets, lies, and outright cruelty take center stage. But there are also chapters from Edward, the oldest brother, now physically incapacitated and well on his way to being a full-on alcoholic; Gin, the youngest sister whose libido attacks first and asks questions later; and Sutton, the daughter of the rival bourbon company. I found myself fully engaged each time the point of view moved, ready to find out what atrocity was looming and whose life was about to implode next.

Sure, the storyline is overly dramatic but there's some base satisfaction to be had in knowing that the rich have problems, too, and Ward deals them out in spades. As Lane tries desperately to win Lizzie back, other ugly truths begin to rear their heads, and he realizes the family's problems go way deeper than his being married to a someone he hates. There are several mysteries thrown in, and some flashbacks give insight into what put the dys- into dysfunctional. Life is complicated and overwrought and yet you cannot look away.

There are a few negative points, including the way Ward "borrows" things like the Kentucky Derby and renames them...Yes, I'm aware she probably needed to do so to avoid getting in trouble, but it's still annoying. There are also some misunderstandings that are silly, and everything is over the top. But it's that very thing, the over the top bit, that pulls you in and keeps you turning those pages to learn more.

I admit I'm hooked. It's the whole Dynasty vibe, and it's got me loving the fun. Don't pick it apart; just give it a go for what it is and enjoy the ride.

Blogger isn't letting me upload the I'll give you a link instead.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Pros and Cons

I finished this book last night and admittedly spent too much time afterwards trying to decide how I was going to review it. I've finally decided that the best way to do this is a Pros/Cons list because I'm about equally divided in my thoughts right now.

Pro:  Strong start. I roared right through the first 75 pages or so, needing to know what the big secrets were and how Nina fit into it. GREAT beginning.

Con:  And then...and then...the dragging bit happened. Nina, our heroine, must try to rescue her sister, Melanie, from the clutches of the Church, which runs everything in the demonically possessed world. And we hear about this...and hear about this...and hear about this...

Pro:  Nina is determined to do the right thing, no matter the cost. And sometimes the right thing involves doing some really bad stuff, but you know she's only thinking of what's right.

Con:  Nina's not very likable, unfortunately. She is abrasive and single-minded, even while she is determined and focused. 

Pro:  The whole Church twist is great. It's almost a throwback to the Inquisition, and it's truly scary to think that this could happen (minus the demons). Everyone is taken in, and everyone believes, or is forced to believe. Nina is part of the whole until she realizes what's really going on, and then it's almost too late.

Con:  I really hate Devi.  I know I'm not supposed to like her at this point, but I really hate her which makes me not want to read further. In fact, I'm not a big fan of any of the gang with which Nina aligns.

Pro:  I like the Finn twist. Unique and unexpected. I'd like to see how this ends up.

Con:  The whole exorcist thing.  Where does it come from? Without being too spoiler-y, I will say that I understand that it's the focal point of Nina's story, but I don't get where it came from (though I suppose I'll learn this later on).  I just felt like some parts of it were way too conveniently accepted by Nina, a girl who normally rejects everything.

Pro:  It's a great premise and may yet be really interesting.

Con:  Too many people I just do not care about. I doubt I'll read the next one, which is a shame, as I normally love Rachel Vincent. the math.  I'm giving 3 solid stars for good idea but a sort of messy climax with people I didn't care for. You may come away with more excitement than I did, but I'm just not that enthusiastic.


Saturday, August 01, 2015

Fly Me to the Morgue

Love this series and love Eddie G.! In book 6 of the Rat Pack Mysteries, Fly Me to the Morgue, Eddie's newest life-threatening problem comes when he accompanies Bing Crosby to look at a possible race horse the celeb may want to buy. Having impressed Bing with his horse knowledge a year earlier, Big Jerry is asked along for the ride, but naturally it's far from a regular visit to look at a horse. Instead, the trio meet with the body of the guy selling the horse, and while that's not their fault, one thing leads to another. Once again, members of the Rat Pack and their friends become involved, along with the Mob and other unsavory characters.

This mystery, like the others, isn't particularly deep but it is so engaging, and so page-turning, that I thoroughly enjoyed myself and raced right through it. All our favorites are back, including Eddie, Jerry, Danny, as well as Frank, Dino, and various other celebrities. Randisi continues to weave Eddie seamlessly into the Vegas of the 60s, and I continue to love these books. This one is just as good as the others, and the addition of Bing to the storyline is just icing on the cake. Why aren't you reading these books? They're too much fun!