Reading Check In 8/17

book mail 2

Hi guys! I just wanted to drop in and let you all know what’s been going on with me. I have been reading, but most of the books that I’ve read are either part of a series (and I am waiting til I finish the series to do a review) or simply not really  worth a review. I do have some review books that I’ve been reading or will be reading , so review posts will be coming.

But I kind of sort of took a break. At least from the rat race of reviewing. It’s hard to write reviews for books that were just “meh” or that are part of a series (since I don’t want to give anything away).  And after talking with my friend, I decided to go “old school” with my reading. You  know – if you’re old enough to have experienced this- before technology got involved. If you read an amazing book, or at least one that made a deeper impression than “that was ok”, you would talk it up to your friends, strangers, anyone standing around looking lost.  I have accepted that not every book that I read will need a review. If it’s not something that I would talk about to my friends in real life, it’s probably not worth the time and effort it takes to write a review for my blog.

That’s not the only change I’ve made. I don’t use Goodreads anymore. It is a great way to track the books you’ve read and that you want to read. But, that just helped me lose control and if I live 5 lifetimes I would not be able to read everything on that list. I use libib, to keep track of my physical and digital libraries, as well as the digital books that I have for review (because I have so many that I forgot about them. You know out of sight, out of mind.) And I have been keeping an old fashioned paper and pen reading journal.  Since I have started this in the beginning of July, I have read 13 books. My reading goal for the year was to read 80 books. So add that with the total books that I had read tracking Goodreads and a few that GR didn’t count because they were re-reads, and I am at 90+ books.  Not bad if I say so myself.

In case you want to know what I’ve been reading:

I have finished Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan.

I am currently half way through the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews.

I have started the Morganville Vampire series by Rachel Caine.

Always Shine!

 

 

 

 

Review: Wages of Sin by Nancy Allen

The Wages of Sin: An Ozarks Mystery (Ozarks Mysteries)

Wages of Sin by Nancy Allen 

Ozarks Mystery #3

A string of curses split the air under a bright blue September sky stretching over the Ozark hills.

This is the third book in The Ozarks Mystery Series. I have not read the first two, but this seems like a series that you can jump right in. I was a little confused as to who was who, and who the series was supposed to follow, but it didn’t take me long to figure it out.

This follows a domestic abuse case that ends in the pregnant woman being murdered. The witness is the woman’s 6 year old daughter, Ivy. In the beginning the case seems pretty open and shut, and to be all about the death penalty. But as we get to know Ivy better, and read from different points of view, we learn  that there is more going on than what meets the eye. Some of it is obvious, and some of it is told to us.

Elsie is not the first pick to assist Madeliene with the case, but she jumps at the chance. Trying a death penalty case is much more difficult than she thought it would be. She begins to second guess herself when the morality of the death penalty begins to weigh on her.  She seems to be the only one who can get through to Ivy, but there is so much that Ivy is not telling her.

If you are expecting an action packed thriller, you may be disappointed, as the action doesn’t kick up until the end after the trial has taken place. The story unfolds much as it would if you were a lawyer talking to witnesses and building a case. This is not a bad thing at all, but it is far from the lawyer movies that are most popular. The lawyers in this book are simply lawyers, for the most part.  When Elsie figures out the secrets that Ivy has been keeping she sheds her lawyerly persona and runs to the rescue without a plan.  But something tells me that this is not the first time, nor will it be the last.  I enjoyed it enough to want to check out the rest of the series.

3 stars

Elsie tapped her white cup against Bree’s, splashing the liquid onto Bree’s pants. “Here’s to us girlfriend.”

Always Shine!

A copy of Wages of Sin was given to me by the publisher, Harper Collins, free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wages of Sin is currently available.

Be sure to check out Nancy Allen’s website  twitter, and facebook for more information about the author and her books.

Review: Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

Glass Houses (The Morganville Vampires, #1)

Glass Houses by Rachel Caine 

Morganville Vampires #1

On the day that Clare became a member of Glass House, somebody stole her laundry.

Clare Danvers is a sixteen year is smart and never fit in with her peers. She has graduated high school and is starting college. Instead of allowing their teenage daughter to apply for the colleges that she wants, colleges that were too far from home, her parents allow her to attened Texas Priarie University. Just like high school, but more deadly, Clare is tortured by the resident mean girls and her clique. After being shoved down dorm steps, Clare has had enough and she looks for off-campus housing. Answering an ad for a roommate, Clare meets Eve, Shane and Michael and is able to stay at the Glass House. Soon, she discovers the truth about the town of Morganville, and her trouble has just begun.

I was introduced to Caine’s writing through her Weather Warden series. I enjoyed it, and started collecting her books. I have the first eleven books in this series, but I am just now getting to read it. I still need to catch up on the other series, but I dove in with this one because…. I had moved it to a stack of books that I wanted to read and then rehome. I figured that since my taste has been changing that I would not really enjoy this series. But this book surprised me, A LOT. Enough that I am not sure that I will be getting rid of this series. And now I want to devour all of the books right now.

Clare is a high school age girl with college level intellect. This gets her in trouble with resident mean girl, Monica. Shane is the classic lady’s man with a wicked sense of humor. Eve is your typical angry goth girl coffee shop barista. Michael is the big brother of the group who carries an astounding secret of his own. They live in the Glass House, which is a protected house/mansion in the middle of Morganville, a town run by vampires.

This was a fun, quick read. Quick as in it would have taken me a few hours to read it if I didn’t have a  little destructor running around and other responsibilities. One of the things that I really enjoyed was that the vampires are real monsters. Yes, some blend into the regular people. Most are obviously vampires and come with power and violence. While there are some fangbangers mixed in with the rest of society, most of the public are not looking to interact with them. I enjoyed getting to know the characters, and started to care what about what happened to them.

Yes, the mystery was a bit predictable, but it was still engaging. Yes, the ending was a cliffhanger. But it was really setting up the problem for the next book, this book’s storyline was resolved. This was a great start and I am looking forward to seeing how everything turns out.

4 stars ****

“Do they sell stakes at Home Depot here? Clare asked. Shane and Eve looked blank. “Dumb question. Never mind.”

If you want to know more about Rachel Caine and her books, check out her websitefacebook or twitter.

Always Shine!

Review: The Body in the Wardrobe by Katherine Hall Page

The Body in the Wardrobe (Faith Fairchild #23)

The Body in the Wardrobe by Katherine Hall Page 

Faith Fairchild #23

It was far from love at first sight for Sophie and Will. He assumed she was as money grubbing and devious as the rest of the contenders.

I have to admit that this was my first foray into the Faith Fairchild series. After I discovered that this was book 23, I thought I’d regret accepting this for review. To my delight, I enjoyed this book. While there is the comfort and familiarity of a long-running series, this installment is able to stand on its own.

Sophie and Will are enjoying the rest of their honeymoon while they can. Will will be traveling to Atlanta to work on a case. Sophie will be starting her job at the Maxwell & Maxwell law firm as well as looking for a house with the Maxwell family realtor, and long time friend, Miss Laura. As it turns out, Miss Laura is part of the small group that is unhappy with Will’s choice for a wife.  Dealing with the awkwardness of that and settling into an unfamiliar town leaves Sophie a bit out of sorts. But like any southern lady, she doesn’t let it show. Even when strange things continue to happen. Finding a body with a knife in its back starts off the trail of clues that not everything is as it seems. Having someone push her into a storage closet and convince the others that she left continues it.

Meanwhile, in Aleford with the Fairchilds, Faith is dealing with her own issues. Mostly she is dealing with the mean girl situation at her daughter’s school and the surprising news that her husband brings home to her.

If you are expecting an amateur sleuth traipsing around Savannah, Georgia, you will be disappointed. In fact, Sophie doesn’t actually go looking to solve anything. She gathers questions that she will ask her husband or in-laws or anyone who’d be willing to answer them one day when the time is right. Even though the summary said that Sophie and Faith would be teaming up to solve the mystery, it happens via phone mostly. By the time that Faith makes her appearance in Savannah, the mystery is being resolved on its own. For the most part. This is not to say that it wasn’t a good story or that I didn’t like it.

I like the way that as Sophie was learning about the customs and culture of Savannah it was leaking out onto the pages. I liked Faith, and wish I could have seen her solving mysteries more. I, however, didn’t really like solving this mystery with Sophie. Mainly because she didn’t do anything.  She was kind of whiny and while I am sure that she is smart enough to solve the mystery, and it may not have been a mystery as long as it did if she had chosen not to run away, she didn’t do anything to confirm my suspicions. I would say that Sophie was reactive to the strangeness around her, but that is given her too much credit. And I am not sure if the vision that held a key piece of information was a signature part of Hall’s writing or if it was simply a nod to the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil  by John Berendt.

Did I enjoy it? Yes. Will I look into the rest of the series? Yes. Would I recommend it to you? If you are interesting in a mystery that is actively being solved, no I wouldn’t recommend it. If you are interested in a story drenched in the history of Savannah, or a decent story, yes I would recommend it.

3 stars

What she did recognize was that she was no longer alone. There were three in the garden.

Always Shine!

A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher, Harper Collins, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. All thoughts expressed are my own.

The Body in the Wardrobe is currently available.

Be sure to check out Katherine Hall Pages’ website for more information on the author and the rest of her books.

Editor’s Pick of the Month: July

I thought that I would be picking anthologies to read for the next few months. But, after last month’s pick I changed my mind. For this month I am going with something tried and true.

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games #1 

I have wanted to reread this for a long time now. But, there are so many books that I want to read for the first time, so it just seems to get pushed back and back. This way I can read it slowly without it taking a reading spot from a new book. Since I will be rereading the entire trilogy it won’t matter how slowly or quickly I get through each book.

If you  have not read this, I do recommend. If you have a young one that doesn’t like to read or are picky about what they read, I recommend this for them as well.

Always Shine!

Review: Editor’sPick of the month- Naked City

Naked City: Tales of Urban Fantasy

Naked City Edited by Ellen Datlow

This was the book that was selected for the Editor’s Pick of the month. In an attempt to read at least one book off of my shelf, I have started this new feature. This will help create movement and flow in my own personal collection of books.

It did take me the month to get through this book, and in the end I still dnf’d it.  The first story was a Jim Butcher story, so it started out well. Then the next two stories fell flat for me, so I skipped ahead to the authors that I knew well and wanted to read. Patricia Briggs and Melissa Marr. I was not surprised that I enjoyed their stories. I even read the Naomi Novik story. I’ve been wanting to read a couple of her books, so this gave me the opportunity to sample her writing. Needless to say, I really want to start one of her novels. I did start reading Holly Black’s story, and, I didn’t finish it. I don’t know what it is about her, but her stories have been more misses than hits for me. But I really enjoyed White Cat, so I keep going back. I don’t know how I ended with so many of her books, but I have quite a few in my collection.  While I will read more of her work, I won’t be rushing to do so.

Out f 20 short stories, I read 7. I started, but didn’t finish 1 and didn’t bother with 12 stories. I enjoyed 4 out of the 7 that I read. 1 out of the other 3 was ok, but I personally felt like 2 of the stories was a waste of my time.

Would I recommend this anthology? If you are interested in any of the authors in this anthology, I would say get it from the library. If you are familiar enough with the authors and their writing to know whether or not you will enjoy the stories, then maybe buy it? Though I have accumulated a lot of anthologies, it is hard for me to recommend anyone to buy them. I do not usually have book buying regrets,but anthologies, for me, are a regret. (Now, I am only talking about mixed grab bag anthologies. I am very happy with the short story anthologies that Kelley Armstrong and Patricia Briggs did for their long running series.)

Review: Almost Like Being in Love by Beth Vogt

Almost Like Being in Love (Destination Wedding #2)

Almost Like Being in Love by Beth K. Vogt 

Destination Weddings #2

A new day -another opportunity to prover herself to her boss. of course, Caron had complicated th whole “prove herself” challenge by working for her father.

The first two sentences tell you what the challenge is going to be right from the beginning. But, it goes deeper than just Caron working for her father.  What I found to be hilarious, yes I did laugh at this, was the fact that everyone seems to think working for her dad was a bad idea to begin with. When Caron quits, pretty much everyone is like “it’s about time”. She is shocked by this reaction and splutters trying to defend her choice to work at the family realty company.  The only person who wants her to try to get her job back is her long-term boyfriend, Alex.  This, amongst other things, keeps their relationship off-kilter. Caron takes her friend, Margo, up on the offer to come visit. While helping Margo prepare for her wedding, Caron wins an all expenses paid wedding. Which is awkward since she and Alex aren’t yet engaged.

An opportunity arises for Caron to develop a skill that slowly develops into a business idea. The catch is that she will be working with her ex-boyfriend. Something else that stands in that keeps her relationship with Alex off balance.  This story was more than just about how two people come together and fall in love. It’s about being honest with oneself and those that we love, and not just about who you choose to spend the rest of your life with. It’s about finding the strength to stand on your own and walk your own path. It’s about the choices that we all have to make in real life.

I enjoyed this story, it was deep but a little fluffy. I knew from the beginning that there would be a happily ever after, but I still enjoyed the journey to get there. What I enjoyed the most was the upfront faith that the characters had, and while they may have been struggling, they were still honest about it.  I also enjoyed that the humor that was found in the pages did not come from miscommunication (that is such an overdone trope). Will you be surprised by how the story ends? No, but your heart will be warmer and lighter. You will be left with a smile on your face.

3.5 stars

But hidden within these moments was a glimpse of the future and what might come, given time and prayer and choosing to love.

Thanks to Howard Books for giving me a free, copy to review.

Though this is a review copy, all of the opinions and ideas expressed are my own.

Almost Like Being in Love will be available June 28, 2016. 

Be sure to check out Beth Vogt’s websiteFacebooktwitter and instagram to find out about the author and her other books

Always Shine!