Saturday, December 31, 2016

Review--The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's clear why The Fifth Season won the Hugo Award in 2016. The combination of skilled writing and world-building keep the reader on her toes in a satisfying science fiction novel about the end of the world.

It's a fabulous tale and I can't wait to see where Jemisin goes with her masterful storytelling.


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Review--The Wrong Side of Goodbye (Harry Bosch, #21)

The Wrong Side of Goodbye (Harry Bosch, #21; Harry Bosch Universe, #24)The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Harry Bosch's life changes as he ages, but one thing remains the same, his commitment to getting the answers and solving the crime. Now that Harry's left the LAPD he's splitting his time between a smaller police department and private investigation. It's the latter that leads him to a possible missing heirs case, and the story unfolds with two side-by-side investigations.

Longtime fans of Bosch will find this another satisfying entry in the long-running series, but it even works as a stand-alone novel.


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Friday, December 23, 2016

Review--Christmas in America

Christmas in America (Gentry Family, #0.5)Christmas in America by Holly Bush
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As is usually the case with collections, I liked some stories more than others. I'm giving this one four stars primarily because of Donna Thorland, author of the Renegades of the Revolution series. Her bittersweet (to those of us who've read the books) Christmas story fills in a gap in the history of one of the recurring characters, incidents that were referred to but never clarified.

The other tales were enjoyable, and in keeping with the season, but Thorland's offering really hit the mark. Her research and writing are outstanding.


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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Review--The Chemist

The ChemistThe Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I sometimes find myself out of step with other readers. Something everyone else loves leaves me feeling "meh", while I'll enjoy the hell out of a book that's getting less than stellar reviews.

This seems to be one of those times. There were parts of The Chemist that seemed over-the-top and strained my credulity, but no more so than plenty of other thrillers I've read and enjoyed. And I liked the premise, a lot. A scientist with a particular set of skills works for a super seekrit government black ops agency. She is a torturer par excellence, known as The Chemist.

But the chemist knows too much, and is on the run for her life, and when she's offered a chance to stop running she grabs it...and things get worse.

There's a highly improbable (but sweet) love story, an intriguing cast of characters, and a high stakes, fast-paced action scenario. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Many of the negative comments I read at this site were all about Ms. Meyer being the author of the Twilight series. This struck me as short-sighted and mean-spirited, and I'm not sure a male writer who crosses genres would have had the same crap shoveled at him. This book is very different from Twilight, and should be judged on its own merits. I would cheerfully read another suspense/thriller novel by Ms. Meyer, and applaud her willingness to try something different than the books that brought her fame and fortune.


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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Review--Wild at Whiskey Creek (Hellcat Canyon, #2)

Wild at Whiskey Creek (Hellcat Canyon, #2)Wild at Whiskey Creek by Julie Anne Long
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Absolutely delightful friends-to-lovers tale. There were laugh-out-loud moments, and I didn't feel the conflict was too contrived, though it was clear to anyone who knew these two that they were slated to be together or miserable apart for all their lives.

I also liked that there were no obvious villains and that most of the time these two acted like grown-ups. The theme of financial insecurity, where a family can be one car breakdown from homelessness was also handled sensitively.

Ms. Long has made a graceful transition from writing fabulous historicals to writing fabulous contemporaries, and I look forward to her next novel.


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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Review--Crosstalk

CrosstalkCrosstalk by Connie Willis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed it, but it's not going to be the book of Ms. Willis' where I grab fans of romantic comedy with science fiction and say "Read this, right now!" That would be Uncharted Territory.

The characters and set up were interesting, but I felt Briddey was far too easily manipulated by Trent and others. Even CB, to a degree, moved and directed her actions and all of them kept information from her, limiting her ability to act. The length of the novel and the pacing contributed to Briddey's problems far too long as well. I kept gritting my teeth after the umpteenth selfish act by Trent and hoping Briddey would stand up and say, "No."

I love Ms. Willis' novellas. She really shines in that genre and this would have been far more enjoyable, in my opinion, had it been a novella rather than a novel.


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Thursday, December 01, 2016

Review--2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas

2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sweet novel about some not-so-sweet characters, including a motherless little girl who desperately wants to sing jazz. There's also her absent father, the neighborhood that helps raise her, and two longtime friends dipping their toes into the murky waters of romanceland's familiar trope of friends-to-lovers.

Then there's The Cat's Pajamas, a struggling nightclub with an over-zealous, code enforcing cop breathing down its neck. The habitues of the jazz club are a book in themselves, a father trying to reconnect with his musician son, some scheming to keep the club open, fake Cubans and more.

I stumbled across this little literary gem at an indie bookstore, Mac's Backs in Cleveland. If nothing else, it's a good illustration of why we need bricks-and-mortar stores, where you can browse, wander among the stacks, and maybe walk out with an unexpectedly enjoyable read.


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