Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Adventures of Basil and Moebius by Larry Hama

Alaric Moebius and Basil Fox are two rough and tough fellas that love the same woman.  That alone could make them mortal enemies but when someone steals their love, they join forces to get her back.  That doesn't work out well...

Diamond Book Distributors and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published March 10th.

Moebis is a good looking dark haired almost feminine looking male who is a great shot.  Basil is ex-military and can use almost anything for a weapon, the more firepower the better.  He's a bit like Harrison Ford with a wider build.  

These two form an unlikely alliance in an attempt to make some money by thievery.  It wouldn't have been a bad thing except it doesn't go like they planned and they come to the attention of someone who wants them to work for him.  This is where the adventure jumps into science fiction.

There is a collector who looks human, has lots of money and power, and wants certain artifacts.  He's willing to pay them for their labors in recovery.  Once they try and succeed despite the dangers and a few facts the collector didn't share, he binds them to him.  This is done by a strange tattoo that comes to life when they are being summoned.  If that wasn't enough to make you upset, the human turns into a monster when he shows his real self.

Basil and Moebius will keep you reading and wondering how they will survive their adventures.  So far they have.  But I dread to think of what's going to happen when the collector has all he needs...

Friday, February 27, 2015

In Search of Lost Dragons by Elian Black'Mor and Carine M

I was a bit surprised about what this book is.  I thought it would be a quest to rescue dragons.  It's a quest all right, but it's trying to locate their lairs and resting places and notating how many kinds there are.  It's really quite fascinating.

Diamond Book Distributors and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published so check with your local bookshop or comic book store for a copy.

It reads like non-fiction.  It's done in journal form and the narrator/illustrator travels over Europe through the middle east and even into Saigon.  He discusses the legends about each dragon and draws pictures of their bones as well as pictures of them in flight.

The world of dragons has been written about for years but this graphic novel names more than I've heard of and even suggests they are behind some natural disasters.  I found that interesting.  

My favorite parts of this novel are the full page color illustrations.  They take your breath away!  Check it out at your local store and I'm sure you'll want to take a copy of this book home with you.  If you have an interest in dragons, it'll please that need, too.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Outcast by Robert Kirkman, Paul Azaceta

Kyle's mother beat him up and abused him for years.  He didn't understand why and didn't know the reason for her hate, but he puts up with for years.  Then one day, he fights back...

Diamond Book Distributors and Net Galley allowed me to read this graphic novel for review (thank you).  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore or comic shop for a copy.

This is an anthology of comics featuring the Outcast.  Somehow horror stories are even more scary done in graphic form.  This book is a good example.

Kyle stays alone in his old home and isolates himself.  He doesn't even want contact with his sister, but she's determined to see him and take him grocery shopping.  He knows he has something wrong with him, but he doesn't know what.  When he finds a priest on his doorstep, he knows that something is developing.

The priest wants his help exorcising a demon from a young boy.  He's not sure he wants to help but he's had enough experiences with demons he's willing to try.  It turns out he can help.  But what works on one doesn't work on another...

This mix of horror/fantasy suggests demons are taking over people and making them act out of character.  With the world the way it is now, it sure seems like it could be real.  It also looks like Kyle is the only thing standing between them and more demonic possession.  I expect the demons will be coming after Kyle.  Hope he learns enough soon enough to fight them...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Princess Academy: The Forgotten Sisters by Shannon Hale

Miri is on her way home.  She's anxious to get there and is very happy that Peder will be on the same trip.  She's in love with him and they hope to get permission to marry.  When the King summons her and the wagons leave without her, she promises to catch up.  However, it's not to be...

Bloomsbury USA Children's Books and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published March 3rd, so watch for it.  If you haven't had the chance to read the first book, Princess Academy, you might want to read that one first.  This one makes sense even if you don't, but you'll better understand the background of the story if you do.

The King tells Miri she is to become a teacher and go to a far off village in a swamp to teach three young girls (princess type girls) how to act like a princess.  It seems one of them will be matched with a King from another kingdom to keep the peace and increase trade.  But when Miri gets there, all she finds are three swamp rats.  Their clothes are dirty, they don't wear shoes, and they have no money.  They've been surviving by eating what they can catch.  Nobody is fat, that's for sure.

First Miri gets bit by a snake (non-poisonous), she can't figure out how to fish, and she's a hazard in the water.  But she's determined to do what she can.  The three "princess" girls aren't sure what to think of her.  But Miri knows the King was sending them money, so she sets out to see who is stealing it.

This story of full danger, history accounts of the past, and prejudices from the past and present both.  Miri is doing this job to save her home and the quarry.  The King and Queen were trying to change history.  Peder can't wait for Miri and heads out to find his love.  And if that wasn't enough, there's even a fight with a caiman!  What more could you want?

It was a hard battle but the story ends well.  There's regret, lost time and future hope all in the last chapter.  This was a very good read.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Saving Cecil A Cleo Cooper Mystery by Lee Mims

Cleo is in her element.  She working loves working outside and taking core samples of the soil to test.  They're drilling an oil well and she's working as their geologist.  She's getting married again (to the same husband she divorced) and the kids are handling the wedding details.  Life is good.  At least it was until she found the dead man.

Midnight Ink and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published April 8th.

This is a cozy mystery with a lot going on.  Cleo leads a full life with her job and her family.  The proposed wedding date is creeping up on her and her daughter is going all out on the wedding planning.  She wasn't in love with her husband the first time she married him but she is now.  Everything should be great but not when the sheriff is accusing you of murder...

She and the sheriff go back a long ways.  He tried to put her father behind bars for murder when he was innocent.  So she's expecting no sympathy from him.  She even suspects him of trying to hurt her by shooting her tire out so she goes over a cliff.  But she can't prove it.

She discovers that the dead man had discovered a fossil from long ago that was worth not only money but bragging rights.  She finds wild boars being bred with domestic pigs.  The more she finds out about the family she's working for, the worse it gets.  They're almost bankrupt and need the money from the well output.  Are they the ones raising the hogs?  Who's sneaking around trying to stop the well?  Why was the young man killed?  Can she figure it before she becomes the next victim?

This is a mystery in more than one way and the story keeps your attention all the way through.  There's  a side of romance served, too, and it's not just Cleo's.  Give this a read and see what you think.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Sparks by Kyle Prue

Get ready for a grand adventure.  Mr. Prue takes you into a world that reminds me of the Roman era and has it's own gladiators, assassins, and emperors.  He's created a full bodied world with characters that will hold you tight in tension as they fight their battles.

PR by the Book and the author sent me a copy of this book to read for review (thank you).  it will be published February 24th, so be sure to grab a copy.  This is first in a trilogy and I will be looking for the others in this series.  It's good.

The Vapros, the Taurlum, and the Celerius are three different families of power in the walled city.  They are each scheming about how to make their wealth more extensive and how to get to even for any wrong doing another family might have done against them.

Neil is sneaking in on the Taurlum's with the intent to kill the grandfather of the clan to make a statement about not messing with his Vapros family.  He doesn't succeed and even has to be saved by a street girl he's friends with.  His friendship with a commoner is frowned on but she saves his life.  This is the beginning of a fast paced story with lots of action and drama.

I'm very impressed with this young man's writing.  It's smooth, flows well, and he's a great story teller.  This is fantasy but it reads as if it's true.  Their supernatural powers are amazing but when everyone has some, it's not such a big deal.

The families are there to serve the people and the emperor but not all do.  And when the emperor's guard starts to gather the family members they suddenly realize he's not their friend but their enemy.

The only apparent safe place for the children that got away is outside the walls of the city.  But no one knows what's out there.  All they've heard is rumors.  Facing rumors is better than facing death, though.

There are some tough losses in this first book and I imagine the others will be just as bloody.  I can see a mystery forming, though.  There may be a lost family outside the walls.  I'm not sure if they will be friendly or an enemy, but it makes me want to read more.

Can the feuding family members get along well enough to stay alive?  Only time will tell. 

You can buy a discounted copy of this book that is signed by author here:   We have a special discount code for your readers who want to purchase The Sparks. They can purchase the book from Kyle Prue’s store on his official website. The code ‘BLOG25’ will get them 25% off an autographed copy, signed by Kyle Prue! NOTE: This code will not work on purchases made on Amazon.  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Baseball Player and the Walrus by Ben Loory

He's a baseball star, a big baseball star.  He makes lots of money, has tons of fans and is famous.  So why is he not happy?

Penguin Young Readers and the author sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It will published February 24th, so look for a copy at your local bookstore then.

Alex Latimer is the illustrator and his drawings are neat and clean with a long toothed walrus.  They should have special appeal for boys.

When the baseball player visits the zoo and sees the walrus, he knows what he's been missing in his life.  He needs this animal that flaps its flippers at him and barks at him.  Since he's rich, he buys him.  And then he remodels his home and grounds to create an ideal environment for his walrus.  There's one problem, though.  When he's playing all these baseball games, he never has enough time with his walrus.  So he quits. This creates another problem:  how to pay for all those improvements and food costs of a walrus.  Uh oh...

I like how Mr. Loory solves this problem and makes it work out well for everyone.  Well, especially for the former baseball player and the walrus.  I mean, don't you want them to be happy?  Mr. loory and I did!

It's a fun book to read that is a bit silly but makes the point that you need to do what makes you happy.  That's the best way to be happy.  This would be a good book to share with the animal lover in your family.  Just point out that the story shows why they can't have their own walrus.

An Armadillo in Paris by Julie Kraulis

Armadillos are odd creatures.  The first time I saw a live one was in Texas and I was amazed!  So how could I skip a story about one visiting Paris?

Tundra Books sent me a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so you can find a copy at your local bookstore now.

This is charming tale of a young armadillo visiting Paris to see the things his grandfather found during his visit there.  This is an easy way to learn about the attractions and history of Paris.  Evidently armadillos eat a lot of pastries.  There's a lot of mention about the iron lady and Arlo can't wait to see her!

These little tastes of Paris may entice your child to learn about the places mentioned.  The illustrations are gorgeous and the iron lady is a well known landmark.  Why not visit a tourism website for Paris and share more pictures with your child?  Who knows, maybe someday you'll be lucky enough to visit there and see those places yourself.

Even if you just stay home and take an armchair tour, Arlo and his grandfather will take you on a grand tour.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Every now and then someone disappears in Bone Gap.  Finn's mother went off on her own but Rosa was kidnapped.  No one believes him when he tells them about this man he saw and what happened.  Even his brother has quit looking for her.  But Finn hasn't.

Balzer + Bray and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published March 3rd.

This story has the flavor of a Ray Bradbury story.  You don't quite understand what's going on, the dark man flits from one world into another, and anyone that does know anything isn't talking.  What seemed a bit incongruous in the story was Finn's romance with Priscilla.  It mellows the story out a bit, which is good, and you get to watch Finn growing up as he continues his search and defends his relationship with Priscilla (she prefers Petey).

While this is pretty much a horror story, there's an underlying message in the story about bullying, gossip, and true beauty.  The final standoff at the end of the story was amazing.  I suddenly knew what they needed to do and the next sentence made it happen.  

I felt like I'd walked into a house of mirrors while reading this.  I'm glad I got out OK.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Death Marked by Leah Cypess

Ileni is a sorceress who has lost her magic.  She almost died while trying to hide her loss in the Assassin stronghold and she runs when she gets a chance.  But where she ends up is no better...

Greenwillow Books and Edelweiss allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published March 3rd, so watch for a copy then.

No matter where Ileni is, people are trying to get her to join their side.  Her problem is that she can't decide which side is the right side.  Both have told her stories that have proven to be false.  She can't even trust her own heart.

This is a world of danger and death.  Even in the walls of the compound no one is safe.  And it doesn't take long until she recognizes an assassin there.  Nobody is quite what they seem.  She could actually be killed in training sessions if someone wasn't watching out for her.  

Ileni is an interesting character.  She knows she's destined for great things but she doesn't know what it is.  She's conflicted on that and mixed up in love, too.  I wish she'd been a bit stronger but the author uses her weaknesses to make the story more interesting.  The war between the two governing groups adds to the pressure and problems.

I'm glad that Ileni finally finds her skill, even if it's by accident.  I just wish that so much heartbreak didn't have to happen along the way.  Of course, that's what most of us would like our lives to be like, too, right?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Keepers: The Box and the Dragonfly by Ted Sanders

He's a very good student and excels at science.  So how did he get involved in a such fantastic magical adventure?

HarperCollins and Edelweiss allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published March 3rd, so you can grab a copy then.

Horace is riding the bus home from school when it gets rerouted due to road work.  He can't believe it when he sees a sign down an alley on a business that has his name on it.  How can that be?  He doesn't realize that investigating it could be dangerous...

All you need to enjoy this story is a little imagination.  I enjoy stories with a lot of action, danger, magic, and good chemistry between the characters.   This one has all that.

Horace finds that the odds and ends in the store (which no longer has his name on it) are fascinating.  Even more fascinating is that there is one particular one there that belongs to him.  He has to search for it but when he finds it, he knows it.  When he figures out how to use it, he's amazed.  It goes against science but it functions.  The man and woman he meets at the store tell him he's in need of training, but he's not sure.  When he meets a girl who also has a special gift, he begins to understand there may be some truth in what the man told him.

The young ones are being asked to be Guardians.  There is a faction that has separated from the group of Guardians and now has become their enemy.  They want the magic items for the power they bring, not to do good.  Whether Horace really wanted to do it or not, he's being followed by one of them.  If he uses the box, the tall skeletal man who follows can find him.  That's not a good thing.

One of my favorite parts in this story is how Horace uses his head to get him out of tight spots and conquers his own worst fear to save his friend.  Horace is a good kid and I'm already looking forward to reading more in this series.  Why don't you give it a try?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Shadow of the Raven (Dr. Thomas Silkstone #5) by Tessa Harris

In this fifth book of the series, Dr. Silkstone is still performing autopsies and trying to solve crimes.  But he's consumed with the thought of Lydia being in a mentally ill facility.  He keeps trying to visit to no avail.  He even gets escorted out by the staff with instructions not to return...

Kensington Books sent me an ARC of this book for review (thank you).  It is being published this month.  I find each book in this series worth reading.  There's a lot of detail about the time period and the beginning of forensics.  The author also bases her stories on historical events in the past, which makes them ring true.

When Thomas is called to do an autopsy on a surveyor, he has no idea about the intricacy of a multi-faceted plan for development of the land that is planned by Lydia's father and his cohorts.  As he looks into the murder, he finds that they are prepared to do whatever is necessary to acquire what they need.  Like putting Lydia in an asylum and blaming the murder on those who oppose them.

Thomas succeeds in proving the man accused could not have committed the crime, but he has made some very bad enemies.  He's also no closer to finding out who actually killed the surveyor.  Then there's another death...

In the meantime, he finds out that Lydia believes he has signed the paperwork confining her to the asylum.  When he finally gets an audience with her, she won't have anything to do with him!  The next thing he hears is that she has died and is being buried immediately.  He can't even get back in time to go to her funeral.  He's heartbroken but he's not sure he believes her father.

The story is full of side plots, nasty high jinks and murder.  As usual, this author kept me intrigued and very busy reading.  However, the ending is awful.  It's a total shocker and a cliff hanger to boot.  I don't like those!  I prefer it ends with open ended questions but not with a last line that looks like there's more to come and they aren't there.  

One thing about it, she has ensured I will read the next book in this series.  And it better not take a year to get here...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Heart of Steel by Elizabeth Einspanier

This is a very unusual story that makes a fascinating read.  You're not sure where the author is going or how it's going to turn out but it's entertaining all the way through!

Goddess Fish Blog and the author allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It's science fiction, fantasy and romance all intertwined.

Julia is on vacation, one she dearly needs after being attacked on the job.  Jim has taken her to the Hawaiian Islands and they are going to go scuba diving.  She wants to break up with Jim but hasn't gotten her courage up to do so yet. She decides she'll tell him after they get back.  Jim has his own plans; he's going to propose to her on this trip.

When a monster from the deep grabs them, the normal world falls away.  Julia awakens in a room that's not unlike a hospital room but much larger.  She also has a new leg.  The sharkish monster bit her leg off.  She's a doctor herself and she knows that humans don't heal that quickly.  But she can see the proof right in front of her...

This story is a bit like "The Island of Dr. Moreau" that H G Wells wrote.  It even has touches of Frankenstein.

A grieving man has created his own world on an island.  He has a large facility that is dedicated to chimera.  He uses various animal parts, mechanical parts and robotics to put his creatures together and he gives them life.  It's like a mix of steampunk and biology.  When he finds that Jim was Julia's boyfriend, he brings him back to the living by adding "parts" to him.  What he doesn't know is that Jim is like an evil Frankenstein.  Jim will do anything to keep Julia to himself, even kill her...

Julia is beginning to care about the mostly mechanical doctor and he's been in love with her since he met her.  But can they escape Jim?

Enter here to win a $20 gift certificate from the author to the Steampunk Emporium:  HERE

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:  Tour Dates

Happy reading and I hope you win!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Allure of Deceit by Susan Froetschel

Ms. Froetschel takes you back to Afghanistan and to the world of Ali, who died in the book "Fear of Beauty."  Life is still unsettled here and there's still a tenuous connection between Paul from the states and this small country village.

Seventh Street Books sent me a copy of this book to read for review (thank you).  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.  You might want to grab the earlier book to familiarize yourself with the characters.

You learn a lot about the country, their ways of life, and their attitudes in Afghanistan when you read this author's work.  That's part of what makes her books work.

When a recently married rich young man and his wife are killed by a terrorist attack in a parking garage, his mother is devastated.  She has no one else in her life.  She decides to honor his wishes and set up the foundation he was beginning to help people in the world.  He came up with a new technology that sold well; he was a very wealthy man.  All she had to do was pick who was going to get the money.  She surrounded herself with good staff and worked on meeting his goals.  She also wondered if it was really a terrorist who took him out.

In the Afghan village, charity workers are trying to "help" people who don't need or want help.  They have taken in any unclaimed children and are raising them as part of their family.  No one is homeless or underfed or without a place to sleep.  The women from the helicopter try to explain what they are doing, but it's useless.  When they leave, the helicopter suddenly crashes killing everyone on board.  Paul tells them they don't have to worry about them coming back, that the helicopter cargo shifted and they went down.  I wasn't sure I believed him.

Everyone has secrets, some more than others.  Life is hard here and you can forfeit yours for going against traditional beliefs or acting inappropriately.  Add in politics, greed, and power and you have a setting for a real mess.

The finale in this story is very ironic.  So much was wrong and so many people betrayed that it looked impossible to settle.  Even more ironic was that the person who served as the catalyst for the event survives unscathed.  It's not a pleasant ending but it is appropriate.  You won't be bored reading this story.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Huckleberry Spring (The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill #4) by Jennifer Beckstrand

Emma couldn't believe it when Ben told her he couldn't marry her and left to go to Florida.  He was her love and she was so excited about a new life with him.  Then he was gone.  Didn't he love her too?

Kensington Books sent me an ARC of this book to read for review (thank you).  It's being published this month, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.

Anna is a big matchmaker.  Felty goes along for the ride although he's afraid that one day she will bite off more than she can chew.  She's very good at manipulation.  I've enjoyed every one of these Amish tales.

In this one, Anna writes to Ben and tells him he must come back because Felty is having surgery.  The romance that she's trying to build goes so slow, that poor Felty has more than one surgery!  It's a good thing he's willing and a good sport both.

Ben is taking care of the animals and the farm.  Anna has hired Emma to grow her a huge pumpkin for her grandson.  She's also planting other crops to help them out.  This is uncomfortable for both of them since they broke up.  But Anna doesn't care; she's determined!

When Emma discovers that Ben has suggesting to other men they might date Emma, she's really hurt.  Now not only is she not worthy of him, he's trying to marry her off so he can go back to his sweetheart in Florida with a clear conscious.   She doesn't need or want his help!

When she falls in a well and he falls in trying to save her, they have the ultimate challenge to survive.  They do it together with Emma taking a lead roll.  He feels guilty because he couldn't save her and she finds out why he's run off to Florida.

Ms. Beckstrand smooths the story out and there is a happily ever after, even if it didn't seem like it in the beginning.

The worst part is that Annie has already picked out her next matchmaking opportunity.  Oh, and don't eat any of her pumpkin dishes; they're not cooked enough and are awful concoctions.  Felty must have an iron stomach...


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina is back again and her troubles are just beginning.  The person she thought she locked away is free and controlling other's minds.  War is imminent.  Her love is marrying the new queen.  And her uncle has gone on a journey and has not returned...

Random House Books for Young Readers and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published March 10th.

Seraphina's beloved city is coming under attack and she decides to try to find the other half dragon, half human beings to try to mount a protective wall around the city.  This sounds like a good idea until she finds that they are a very odd group of people who have various physical and mental defects.  While she tries to work with them, she also discovers that the person she locked away in a cottage in her mind is loose and taking over their minds.

She has to fight that, worry about her friends and uncle, and travel impossible distances to get allies set up for the potential war.  Dragons are formidable warriors and they are hard to stop.

The original book, Seraphina, was excellent and I bought a copy for my personal library.  I found this book to be a good read and it explained a lot of what was discovered in the first book.  But it just didn't grab me and hold me as the first book did.  It's good, but it's not great.  However, I would not have missed the opportunity to see the rest of Seraphina's story.  I just wish it was a little more happy ever after for her.

Friday, February 13, 2015

In the Time of Dragon Moon by Janet Lee Carey

Uma has been disguising herself as a male so she can train with her father to become a healer.  In her tribe, only men can be Adans.  So she does it in secret and learns what she can.  No one in their village expected what happened next...

Kathy Dawson Books and Edelweiss allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published March 24th, so grab a copy then.  There are two earlier books in the series that you could pick up and read while you're waiting.

The King's men come to the village and take Uma and her father away.  He has been curing infertility in the Euit women of his village.  The queen wants to have another baby and wants him to make her fertile, too.  The King's men take the village hostage to ensure he will do as he's told.  The only snag there is that the Red Dragons live in the woods next door and they have no patience with the King's men.  Will they be able to succeed at getting her fertile before the truce breaks down?

When her father dies from the stress and not eating, Uma is then unofficially designated healer and told to take over.  She negotiates a three month contract with the queen who tells her to dress as a woman now and that if she doesn't succeed at making her fertile, she'll be burned at the stake.  She has to do it to save her village anyway.  This just makes her more desperate.  Then the queen's older son tries to rape Uma.  That sets off a tidal wave of trouble, none of it Uma's doing.

She thought her father's death was the worst day of her life, but that's because she didn't know how wicked the queen could be...

This an action packed fast moving story with Uma and Jackrun falling in love as they meet the various threats and try to stay alive.  It's an impossible relationship.  But Uma becoming a healer was impossible too and that happened.

I loved this book and have already ordered a copy for my personal library.  It has every emotion in it, but love is the one that wins.  It's my type of book.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Devils And Dust: A Jack Keller Novel by J.D. Rhoades


Jack is a mentally wounded warrior.  He takes care of trouble.  He shows no mercy and he's more than happy to kill people.  He got really scared when he found himself enjoying.  He went through treatment and then went to make a new life.  But his old skills are needed again...

Polis Books and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore for a copy.  This is part of series so there are others you could add to your book buying spree.

Jack is living in the desert working in a bar in a small town.  He's living with the young owner and taking it day by day.  Then an old love of his walks in and starts asking questions about him, trying to find him.  When he pops in and sees her, he's thunderstruck.  She explains why she's come to look him up.  Her husband is missing.  Jack didn't know she was married.  But he also knew he couldn't turn her down.

This story is full of the worst part of living on the border.  They sell drugs, do sex trafficking and force labor for no pay.  They kill indiscriminately.  And that's where the missing man's two boys are now.

There's a corrupt sheriff, a secret intelligence group, and Jack and Angela looking for Oscar.  Everyone is playing games.  The sheriff is taking money from the sex trafficking, the lawyer is aspiring to take over his boss' operation, and the guy running the church compound is crazy.  It's not a safe place to be but if you have Jack with you, you have better odds.

This story reads fast.  Some of what you read is awful but it's true about life near the border.  I live in New Mexico and read about it in the paper every day.

Jack may be fictional but I had to admire him kicking ass and getting Oscar back.  Read it, you won't be bored.  The ending will stick with me for a while.  Let me know what you think about it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Stolen Magic by Gail Carson Levine

Elodie, the dragon detective Meenore, and the kindly ogre Count Jonty Um are all travelling to see Elodie's family.  When they get caught in a snowstorm, they worry about the oxen dying from the cold but they suddenly find themselves taken in and given a new quest.  Meenore may be a great detective, but they have no clues.  Someone has stolen the Replica and the magic that held the volcano at bay is gone.  Disaster is coming and many people will die if it is not found quickly.

HarperCollins and Edelweiss allowed me to read a copy of this book for review (thank you).  It will be published April 21st, so make a note to grab it then.  If you like magic, fantasy, shapeshifting, ogres, dragons and determined young girls, you've love this story.

The brunka that comes to lead them to a warm barn is troubled.  When she tells them why, she also admits that she doesn't know how much time they have before the volcano erupts.  It was stolen once before and returned in three days without much damage.  But she doesn't know when complete disaster will take over.

The ogre can shapeshift, so he turns into a bird and goes to warn the people in the lava's path.  He intends to come right back, but finds himself helping the folks trying to escape.   After all, a horse can move much quicker than balky mule.

Elodie does the detecting in the main building, which is huge.  There are "bees" (the workers), guests, and dozens of rooms.  She finds out the circumstances of the theft but it answers nothing.  No one saw the thief.  She continues to try to reason out it could be done.

Once Meenore has talked to everyone, he goes to find Count Jonty, who has not returned.  While he's trying to find him, he finds himself starting to help the humans on the ground who need help.  He can't understand why he does it, because he doesn't care about them.  At least he didn't used to before he met Elodie.

The author cleverly fits the thief in among the folks in the house.  It takes a combination of what the brunka calls the "lamb" (Elodie) and the "pup" (a young man visiting at the house) to come up with the solution.

This is a very good read.  Elodie struggles on her own, her companions are trying hard to get back, and the final confrontation is remarkable.  You won't be bored.  I'm also looking forward to the next book in this series.  And I'm buying A Tale of Two Castles so I can read the first one.  You might want to do that while you're waiting for this one to come out.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Blanche Among the Talented Tenth A Blanche White Mystery by Barbara Neely

Blanche is going on "vacation" for the first time in a long time.  She's let the kids go first with their friends and she's coming to join them on the beach.  It doesn't take long before she gets drawn into the family fights at the hotel and even the family she is staying with has it's problems.  When she finds out a few days before her arrival a woman was electrocuted in her bathtub, she wishes she'd never come...

Brash Books and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published, so you can grab a copy now.

Growing up in Washington state, I came from a white community.  My mother taught me to accept people of all colors (even green) and all beliefs.  Her idea was that we could all get along if we set our differences aside and celebrated the sameness.  I think it's possible, too, but not probable.  Too many embrace their differences.

To me, black was black.  Then we visited New Orleans and by listening to the history and culture there, I found out it wasn't that simple.  This book explores that concept in depth and I found it interesting reading.

Blanche is a dark Negro, almost purple skinned.  The folks at the hotel were relatives of the original owners, very rich Negros, a few whites, and all had their places.  The dining room was even segregated, with one side for those who had ownership or rights; the other side was for the "outsiders."  Blanche didn't belong to either set.

Not only is the hotel full of different "classes" of people, her niece she's raising is starting to worry about how dark she is.

While Blanche is worrying about all that, she's almost sure that lady's death in the bathtub was not accident and she's being pursued by an attractive male.  There's something sly about him but he makes her heart sing.

Blanche does find out what happened to the woman but the other information she learns is hard to take.  No one was really her friend there; she was being used.

I find Blanche fascinating as a character.  She believes in basic goodness, is cynical enough to get by, and she loves the children she's raising even if she feels herself losing them to their own lives.  She's not super thin, she likes her food, and I like her.  Why not give it a read and see what you think?

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Body in the Birches: A Faith Fairchild Mystery by Katherine Hall Page

Sophie is only there because her mother is on a cruise and can't get back in time.  She was free at the time and needed a change of scenery to get over finding out that her dearly beloved didn't love her.  Catching him in bed with another woman is a sure sign it's over.  She's been to the beach house before and has many fond memories of it.  But the new memories being made are the kind you want to forget.

William Morrow and Edelweiss allowed me read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published May 12th, so make a note to pick it up then.  There are several others in this series you could read while waiting.  This was my first read in this series, but it won't be my last.

Uncle Paul is going to pick one family to inherit the home.  He's going to observe them for a month and make up his mind about who would best carry on the family tradition and keep the home and estate secure.  When he announces this, the various members of the family begin snarling at each other.  Many haven't been regular visitors but no one wants to give up this valuable and important holding.

The sucking up is obvious, the characters are varied and no one is exactly normal.  The one odd guy is someone Sophie can't put in place.  He's not a relative.  He's actually not even the person he says he is; there is no one of that name.  He appears to be protecting her uncle, which is a good thing.  And she's attracted to him.  But after Ian, she's not getting involved.

When people start dying, it gets even weirder.  Faith knows something is wrong, but not what.  I enjoyed Faith and her good works and intuition, but Sophie is really the hero of this story.  When they bring Ian over to spend the weekend and he tries to get back together with her, he's out of luck.  She also manages to save the relatives she loves, even if it means she almost dies herself.

This is the tale of an old town with lots of history and its share of odd characters and traditions.  It's a cozy mystery but it's faster paced than most.  I enjoyed the story and the ending is perfect.  Ms. Page does a very nice job on this one!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Green and Pleasant Land: A Fran Harman mystery by Judith Cutler

Fran and her husband are both retired.  When one of her husband's associates asks them to come back to work temporarily to work on a cold case, they decide it will be like a vacation in the country with some work to do.  That's not so...

Severn House and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published April 1st, so keep an eye out for it then.  This is the sixth book in this series so you could grab a few others to read while you wait.

They are not welcomed into police quarters.  They don't even have a space set up for them to work in.  They're told there is no budget.  It's obvious the new man in charge doesn't want them.  (The one that hired them has been retired early.)  But they've been contracted to work so he gives them broken down furniture and tries to ignore them.  When they ask for staffing, they're told they can have some volunteers.  Part of those who volunteer get up and walk out at the first meeting.

If it wasn't obvious they weren't wanted at work, someone floods the cottage they're living in.  From there, the threats get more serious.

It all seems a bit odd.  There's a missing woman and her son, the other young son dead in the abandoned vehicle, and no sign of where they went.  There are no bodies, either.  This was twenty years ago, so much knowledge has already been lost.  What isn't lost is denied them.  And the further they search, the more certain they are that the police are involved with the disappearance.

I like this couple's investigative techniques and the way their shared knowledge leads them to new conclusions.  They make a great team for work and a great couple, too.  I enjoy reading this series.

The countryside may be green and beautiful but there's evil living in the village.  And they have to prove it.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Backyard Witch #1: Sadie's Story by Christine Heppermann, Deborah Marcero (Illustrated by), Ron Koertge

What's Sadie to do when her two best friends have gone off to camp together and she's left home by herself?  After all, they'll be gone four days!

Greenwillow Books and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published July 21st, so make a note to grab it then.  It's the first in this new series and I love the little witch in the story!

Sadie is sitting in the house reading and holding her cat, when Wilson wants to go out.  He speeds across the yard to the playhouse.  The odd part is that it appears there is smoke coming out of the playhouse.  When she tells her dad, he checks and there's none.  He also tells her the playhouse is plastic and if it caught fire, they would smell it.  She wanders out of the house to check it out and can't believe what she finds when she looks inside:  a cauldron bubbling away and a witch stirring it!

This is a really sweet story about a lonely girl who isn't lonely anymore.  She and the witch have picnics, save the playhouse from being sold at the yard sale, and check out birds to see if they can find the witch's missing friend whose spell went wrong.  They find a lot of birds but not the one she's seeking.  They do find her missing cat, though.

My favorite part of the story was the little witch making bird sounds for Sadie and bringing birds in up close and personal so she could admire their colors.  I'm a bird watcher and have more than one bird book so I can figure out what they are.  We even get a few parrots and our southern birds that migrate through.  They're only here for a day but they are really gorgeously colored.

I hope children reading this book get inspired to do some bird watching, too.  There are more than you can imagine and some are hard to identify.  But it's fun to check them out with your binoculars and keep track of what you've seen.  Whether you're at home, near a pond or the sea, or in the desert, there are birds.  Have you seen a roadrunner lately?  They go through my yard.

Sadie creates her own bird book to record her sightings and gets her friends to look, too.  This is book one in this series and I'll be watching for book two.

Happy reading and happy birding, too.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Monday's Lie by Jamie Mason

What would your life be like if your mother was a spy?

Gallery Books and Net Galley gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It was published February 3rd, so you can find a copy at your local bookstore now.

This was an unusual story with lots of twists and turns and quirks built in.  More than anything, it's about how a young girl was influenced by her mother's career choice (or lack of choice) and how she reacts as she grows older.  The thing about being careful all the time, observing what's around you and looking beyond what you're looking at is that it can make you paranoid. 

Dee wants to be normal.  Boring normal.  No spy games, no strange things happening in the middle of the night.  She just wants peace in her life.  She marries her college sweetheart and all is well for a while.  But she knows her husband isn't happy and is pursuing other women.  Since Dee is afraid to have a child and still takes birth control pills, he's lost what interest he had in her.  

When Dee starts to feel like someone is following her, she starts trying to locate her watcher.  It's even worse than she thought.  There's one from the past as well one from the present observing her.  The only person in her life she can trust is her brother and she can't tell him everything.

When she accidentally overhears her husband on the phone making arrangements she knows nothing about and her car becomes dangerously disabled while she's driving it, she starts having suspicions about his motives.  How much understanding and forgiveness is normal and how much is insane?

One of my favorite parts of this story was Dee's memories of conversations with her mother.  Mom had a real interesting take on life.

Dee is her mother's daughter and she manages to handle what is thrown at her.  She doesn't want to be recruited into her mother's work, but she has taken a liking to the man she works with.  I think there will be more in this series.  Dee is too intriguing as a character to let her go now.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Hector Fox and the Giant Quest by Astrid Sheckels

Lucy Skunk wishes that fairytales were real.  So Hector Fox and his friends go off in search of the giant in the forest that they've heard rumors about.  After all, that's like a fairytale, isn't it?

Dover Publications and Net Galley allowed me to read this book (thank you).  It has been published, so check with your local bookstore for this picture book.

The illustrations in this story are rich and luscious.  I wanted to pet the animals and go on the trip to the woods myself.

The trip is not without its scares.  They find a huge shadow in the woods and think it might be the giant when it's just their friend, a big bear.  He goes on their journey with them.  They find a rowboat.  It sinks.  Soon they are stuck on the wrong side of the marsh.  There's nothing to do but go to sleep and hope for the best in the morning.

The morning brings sun, a big campfire, and a stranger in their midst.  They have found their giant...

This book's illustrations are what brings it to life.  I'm going to purchase a copy to go in my personal library.  I collect picture books and this one will fit there perfectly.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

THE CHRISTMAS DRAGON / STRINGS by Ruthanne Reid

These are two exciting short fantasy stories that will take you into another world and leave you with some echoes in your mind after reading them...

The Christmas Dragon begins with a box on Katie's front porch.  It's Christmas and it might be a present from her uncle but why is it jumping around?  When a neighbor catches her looking at it, she tells him it's Mexican jumping beans.  I don't think so.

When she opens it, she finds a real pretty white baby dragon.  Nothing she has in the house is anything he wants to eat and when he vomits, he emits flames.  Since she has no idea what to do with him, she sets out to go visit her uncle and find out.

Even the trip to the uncle's isn't without incident.  She even meets a Fey on the way.  Somehow the two of them end up doing her quest.  Her uncle is gone but he has left a note saying she has to go to the Crow King.  The Crow King is not a nice guy.

I found myself flipping pages so I could read it faster and find out how it turns out.  If you like fantasy, you'll probably do that, too.

Strings is about the Fey named Grey.  He plays his music in bars and enhances his power with the love he feels there.  When the bar he's in gets invaded by a monster, he barely escapes alive.  Then he finds out he has been marked and there's no getting away; you have to kill the monster or die.

This is an age old war with monsters that are slices of old gods.  He will have to defeat it himself but he's talked into taking the bartender.  It's a good thing he did even if it's a shocking ending to the fight.  

This Fey seems to care about people more than most.  It might be because he's in hiding and spends as much time with them as he does.  I liked that touch.  

I enjoyed both these stories and will be watching for more in this series.  After all, the dragon hasn't grown up yet and I'm sure Grey will be even more fascinating in future tales.  Who doesn't like dragons and the Fey?

Ruthanne will be awarding a $50 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour: Rafflecopter Entry

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:  Tour Dates

Happy reading.  Leave a comment and  good luck to you!