Archive | September 2015

Review – The Cruelest Month (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #3) by Louise Penny

9839068Once again, Inspector Gamache is called to the tiny village of Three Pines when a murder occurs in the old Hadley house.  He is also fighting his own battles within the Surete because of the Arnot case.

The primary mystery and plot line focused on friendship, jealousy, small town living, etc.  Penny did a great job of providing plenty of suspects while keeping it believable.

But, honestly, this became a 5-star read for two of the sub-plots.

A very, very minor portion of the story revolves around Ruth.  She has been written as a tough old bitty who offends everyone around her but she still somehow remains a part of the inner circle of friends.  Here, we are able to see a hidden side of Ruth and it reminds us all that we need to be more forgiving and understanding.  We don’t always know what someone is going through or the memories they deal with.  Most of the time, harsh words may be said to you but the underlying emotion isn’t meant for you.

And, finally.  Finally!  We learn more about the Arnot case (which took place prior to book one) and why it still affects Gamache personally and professionally.  He is a good man who had to make a hard but necessary decision which changed his life forever.  Instead of becoming bitter, he has remained content by accepting his decision and the consequences.   There are those around him that just can’t understand his happiness when their own lives are so unhappy.  Since I don’t want to spoil anything, I will just say Penny found a way to twist the knife unexpectedly.  My heart was racing and my eyes were burning.  It was that good!

5/5 stars.  Highly recommended.

Mini-Review — Two Ravens and One Crow by Kevin Hearne

Another solid Iron Druid Chronicles novella. Atticus, Granuaile, Oberon, Morrigan and Odin. Really, could you ask for more?
In most series, you can skip the short stories and novellas that take place between the main novels. But in this series they usually give the reader important background info and, when it’s this good, you don’t want to miss a thing!
Favorite quote: “But people who truly want to shed blood will find a way to shed it, just as people who wish to do good will find a way to be a benediction to their neighbors.”

Review – The Drafter (The Peri Reed Chronicles #1) by Kim Harrison

23492477I cannot imagine the pressure a successful author feels when they release the first book in a new series.  Kim Harrison has many die-hard fans from her Hollows series and they have been both anxiously awaiting the Peri Reed book and lamenting the loss of Rachel Morgan’s adventures.  When the first reviews started coming in, I was confused.  Goodreads friends rated either 5-stars (It was awesome!) or 1-star (Ugh!)  Where would I fall in the spectrum?  Truth is, somewhere in the middle.

The Drafter is set in an alternate, future world where drafters are able to reset time – basically go back a very short period – and redo an action to change the past.  Anchors are able to see these drafts and remember both timelines.  They are also needed to bring the drafter back mentally by giving them an accurate memory of the new version of events while erasing the old one.  Make sense?

Anyway, Peri is a talented drafter who is employed by a government agency and sent on covert missions.  Think Sidney Bristow (Alias – one of my favorite TV shows) with some paranormal ability.  She and her anchor are also lovers.  Apparently this is encouraged to support their bond.  Peri finds out that she has been lied to and doesn’t know who to trust.  When others can change your memories, how do you know what is real and what has been created to manipulate you?

Harrison did a good job of starting to build the world but she does have some work to do.  I felt there were holes in my memory a few times while reading as things didn’t always add up.  I decided to just go with it and enjoy the story but hopefully she will tighten this up in future installments.

Also, I can see why some readers didn’t like Peri.  For most of the pages, she isn’t likable.  And we are supposed to believe certain things towards the end of the story that haven’t been supported with the facts we’ve been given.  Harrison did some “telling” about character history rather than “showing” them together in action.  I’m able to forgive this in book one.  But, I want to feel the feels to be sold on relationships.

Overall, a good start with great potential.  3.5/5 stars.

Review – Phantom (Harry Hole #9) by Jo Nesbo

13256064Remember the complaints I listed in my review of Book 8?  Well, forget them.  Book 9 is freaking brilliant and justified none of the worries I had a few weeks ago.

I won’t spoil this book for you but might spoil prior installments.  Be forewarned.

Phantom begins with Harry living on the wagon in Hong Kong.  He is now a collections agent (ha!) and is keeping his act together.  When he gets a call from Beate Lonn that Oleg has been arrested for murder, he comes back to Oslo to help clear the boy who once called him Dad.

Where to begin?  Nesbo didn’t use serial killers or grisly, inventive murders.  Instead he focused on the characters.  Specifically, Harry, Rakel and Oleg.  Both Harry and Rakel admit that they are the loves of each others lives.  But they haven’t been able to make it work because of his job and addiction to alcohol.  She pulled back even more after the events of The Snowman and Oleg lost his father figure.  It would be easy to blame all of his problems on this but that would give him a free pass that he doesn’t deserve.  Oleg has had some tough times in his life but his mother has loved him unconditionally and when it mattered, Harry was always there for him even with they weren’t together.  Phantom is, put simply, heartbreaking because we know the boy that Oleg was and glimpse the man he may become – both good and bad.

Secondary characters are familiar.  Gunnar Hagen as the head of the Crime Squad, Beate, Bjorn Holm, Mikael Bellman and even Martine, who we met The Redeemer.  We have finally narrowed down those that are truly Harry’s friends.  Hint: not everyone on the list above is a friend to Harry.

Nesbo slips in and out of the timeline to keep us on our toes.  The murder victim narrates a portion of the flashbacks to allow us to see the entire picture.  And, yes, the author does use misdirection to his advantage and you will never see it coming.  It isn’t manipulative but, as a reader, take nothing for granted!  Pay attention to the details and you will be glued to the pages until the end.

5/5 stars.  So far, there is one more book in the series.  It’s possible that it is the final installment for Harry and I cannot wait to see what Nesbo has in store for us.

Review – The Dark Horse (Walt Longmire #5) by Craig Johnson


“He didn’t like animals, and I don’t trust people that don’t like animals. Hell, animals are the finest people I know.”

When their barn containing several horses is burned down and her husband is found shot to death, Mary is arrested.  She admits to shooting her husband in retaliation for killing her prized horses.  Her arrest occurs in a neighboring county but the sheriff doesn’t have room so he asks Walt to keep her in one of his cells until she is taken to prison.  Walt quickly figures out there is more here than meets the eye and he works to find what really happened to Mary, her husband and the horses.

Fans of the television show will recognize the plot from one of the episodes.  While it stays pretty close in many respects, there are enough differences that I will still on the edge of my seat.  Walt again puts himself on the line to find the truth and The Dark Horse couldn’t have been much better.  Of course, he gets an assist from Henry and Vic along the way (yes, fans, there is more Vic and Walt action here…finally.)  One of the things that continues to keep each book fresh and new are the secondary characters introduced for each story.  Here we have an beautiful female bartender, old school ranchers and an almost-ghost town whose residents don’t welcome visitors with open arms.  Plus, a strong-willed but damaged black mare with a grudge to settle.

There is something about this gritty sheriff  that is hard to define.  When an author finds the magic to build such a character, they have to just count their lucky stars.  Craig Johnson will be counting for a long time.

Review – A Fatal Grace (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #2) by Louise Penny

9648240Start typing, hit backspace, start typing, hit backspace.

Since I opened the window to review A Fatal Grace, that’s what I’ve done. Why? I’m not sure. This was a 5-star read for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Sometimes, though, the hardest books to review are the ones that you loved.

The Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series is somewhere between cozy mystery and thriller. The setting stays the same, Three Pines in Quebec. The main character doesn’t live in Three Pines but investigates when murders occur in this small village. The secondary characters are the residents. Sounds like a cozy right? But it’s much deeper and has undertones that make it more thriller-like. That’s why it works for me.

It might stretch the imagination to believe there is so much activity in what is a sparsely populated area. Somehow, Penny makes it work. This village supports a fancy bistro, B&B, book store, art patrons and more. And you just know when a stranger comes into town something bad is going to happen.

Highly recommended and I cannot wait to get to the next in the series (which I found this week at the used bookstore – WOO HOO!)

Review – The King of Plagues (Joe Ledger #3) by Jonathan Maberry

9120730It’s been a while since I read a Jonathan Maberry and I was nervous to start The King of Plagues.  I’ve loved his books but for the past several months, I’ve been on a reading diet of mystery/thrillers and urban fantasy.  Was I ready to get back into the world of the Department of Military Science?

Most definitely, yes!

What I love about this series (besides Joe Ledger) is that while it started with zombies (brrrraaaaiiinnss), it has grown into just being solid thrillers.  Fans of Lee Child will devour books 2 and 3 especially.

Many of the underlying themes are timely and Maberry excels with character development.  The stories are detailed enough without becoming over-done.  The King of Plagues does have a somewhat slow start.  While there are brief action pockets in the first half, you have to read through a lot of set-up for the REAL story to reveal itself.  I also have to admit that there were a couple of times that I felt too much political idealism came into play.  We could argue if Joe L. would be a liberal or a conservative but that’s beside the point.  He has a job to do and he does it.  Just…a couple of times it seemed the author’s feelings on torture, the war on terror, etc. came through more than the story.  Or, I could just be sensitive.  With the election next year, everyone’s already started the Facebook political rhetoric and I’m sick of it.  Whether I agree or disagree with someone on an issue, I really don’t want to hear about it all day every day.  I want my entertainment, whether it be books, Facebook or television, to be politics free.  Maybe not possible but a girl can dream.

4/5 stars.  Another winner.