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review 2018-01-16 17:01
First Kovac and Liska Book
Ashes to Ashes - Tami Hoag

Even though this is called the first Kovac and Liska book it's really not. The book focuses on Kate Conlan who is a former FBI agent and her former lover Special Agent John Quinn. These two do appear in "Ashes to Ashes" but after that, I can't even remember if we see them again. This is a pretty good start to the series that stars Kovac and Liska. not everything is going to involve serial killers though, some of it just involves terrible people doing horrible things to someone else. I did love the dialogue in this one and the ending was really good. 

 

So I finally finished "Mindhunter" the other day and started going back through my Hoag backlist. She did a really good job with the mystery/thriller aspect of this, while also including profiling in this. 

 

Kate Conlan is now a crime victim's right advocate. Living in Minneapolis now, she hopes to recover from her broken marriage. When she is called in to deal with a young woman who may be a potential target of a serial killer due to what she saw. The FBI is called in, and there enters John Quinn who is a profiler. Due to their past with each other there's some friction. Quinn is also dealing with the fact the local police are not exactly welcoming at first. Or let's say Kovac is not at first. Liska weirdly keeps hitting/flirting with him or whatever that was. You realize that in the next book, Kovac had a thing for Kate Conlan who he often says resembles Rene Russo. I do wonder what would have happened if Hoag pushed things along more in that line.  

 

I did like Kate a lot and wish she show up in future books. She's great at her job and has an overbearing and gross boss. John annoyed me a bit here and there with regards to Kate. 

 

I did like the team aspect when we get down into the local police. Kovac and Liksa complement each other and I can see why Hoag kept writing about them. They may not be in this story as much, but what we do see makes you yearn for more. 

 

We also get into the "mind" of the serial killer in this book called "The Cremator". 

 

The writing was really good and the flow works from beginning to end.


The setting of Minneapolis seems bigger than what I always thought it would look like if I ever went there in real life. We get a lot of local politics happening in this one too. 

 

I did love the ending in this one and have to say that the reveal was very well done. 

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text 2018-01-08 18:58
2017 in Review
How To Be A Tudor: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Everyday Life - Ruth Goodman
New York 2140 - Kim Stanley Robinson
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World - Andrea Wulf
Murder Must Advertise - Dorothy L. Sayers
The Summer Before the War: A Novel - Helen Simonson
Racing the Devil - Charles Todd
Calamity in Kent - John Rowland
Ashes of London - Andrew Taylor
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie
Agnes and the Hitman - Bob Mayer,Jennifer Crusie

2017 was an excellent reading year around here.  I had four five-star reads, not counting re-reads, which is a very high total for me, out of some 90+ books read.  One was a novel - 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson, and three non-fiction: The Invention of Nature, by Andrea Wulf, and two by Ruth Goodman, How to be a Tudor, and How to be a Victorian.  Wonderful re-reads included Dorothy L. Sayers' Murder Must Advertise, several Mary Russell novels by Laurie R. King, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (which I think I read in about 1978, but remembered nothing).

 

The best historical novel I read in 2017 was The Summer Before the War, by Helen Simonson, and the best new mystery Racing the Devil, by Charles Todd.  I read a decent amount of non-fiction, all of it good, from The Glass Universe (about the ladies of the Harvard Observatory) to Michelangelo's Ceiling (Damn it, your holiness, I'm a sculptor, not a painter), The Sun and the Moon (the Man-bats, or America's first great "fake news" story), and A is for Arsenic (Agatha Christie knew her poisons).

 

I had some reads that were just pure fun, like Jennifer Crusie's Agnes and the Hitman, Deborah Harkness' trilogy on witches, or Anne Bishop's novels about The Others.

 

It did have down moments.  Calamity in Kent's plot boiled down to "Scotland Yard inspector decides his tabloid journalist friend, Jimmy, is the best choice to solve a locked room mystery, and tells Jimmy to go for it."  Um.  OK?

 

The one which angered me, however, was my sole 1-star read of the year, The Ashes of London, which was billed as a thriller set during the Great Fire of London.  It is set *after* the fire, did not have very good historical detailing (it could have been pretty much anywhere and anywhen in the past that had suffered a large fire), and had two narrators, neither interesting.  And then it offended me with a touch of "let's start the characterization of the woman by having her evil cousin rape her" and I was out.

 

But most of my reading year was wonderful.  I hope yours was, too.

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review 2018-01-06 16:41
Snow Like Ashes - Sara Raasch

"I grin at his exasperation, but my smile is short lived as the dull edge of his practice sword swipes under my knees."
Miera is a Winterian refugee orphan raised by the general, Sir. She is training to be a warrior alongside her friend and future king, Mather. When she discovers the ancient locket that could restore the magic of the kingdom, she finds herself in a world of evil and danger, and eventually realizes that her destiny has never been her own.
This is the first in a series and my first read by Sara Raasch. It was an interesting page turner that left me excited for the next book in the series, Ice Like Fire.
I would recommend this read to anyone interested in the adventure of life in finding their own destiny.

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review 2017-11-28 14:21
Die Herrschaft der Masken // An Ember in the Ashes!!!
Elias & Laia - Die Herrschaft der Masken - Sabaa Tahir,Barbara Imgrund

german and english review

 

Das Buch wollte ich jetzt wirklich schon so lange lesen. Doch irgendwie habe ich es nie geschafft und habe es auch nicht zu Hause. Ich bin dann durch Zufall bei Spotify auf das Hörbuch gestoßen und hab es einfach mal als Zeichen gesehen. Ich bin absolut keine Hörbuchhörer. Ich habe es schon so oft versucht und irgendwie brauch ich immer ewig. Aber da ich unbedingt ein Hörbuchhörer werden will, gebe ich es nicht auf und versuche es immer wieder. Schön zu wissen, dass ich nur in seltenen Fällen so hartnäckig bleiben kann.

 

Aber zu dem Buch. Erstmal direkt zum Hörbuch an sich. Ich fand die beiden Leser total klasse. Ich mochte auch die Melodie die am Anfang, am Ende und zwischen verschiedenen Teiles des Buches kurz eingespielt wurde, weil sie wirklich gut zu der Stimmung des Buches gepasst hatte. Es war die ungekürzte Version, deswegen hatte ich das Gefühl, das Buch geht ewig und ich habe auch wirklich lange gebraucht, was nicht an der Geschichte lag, sondern an mir.

 

Zu der Geschichte an sich.

 

Inhalt: Wie überlebt man in einer Welt, in der Männer mit silbernen Masken jeden Tag den Tod bringen können? Wie kann man sich selbst treu bleiben, wenn die Herrschenden des Imperiums alles dafür tun, voller Grausamkeit ein ganzes Volk zu unterjochen? Elias und Laia stehen auf unterschiedlichen Seiten. Und doch sind ihre Wege schicksalhaft miteinander verknüpft. Während Elias in der berühmten Militärakademie von Schwarzkliff dazu ausgebildet wird, als Elite-Krieger die silberne Maske der Macht voller Stolz und ohne Erbarmen zu tragen, muss Laia täglich die Willkür der Herrschenden fürchten. Als ihre Familie ermordet wird und ihrem Bruder die Hinrichtung droht, schließt sie sich dem Widerstand an. Als Sklavin getarnt, dringt sie in das Innerste von Schwarzkliff vor. Dort trifft sie auf Elias, den jungen Krieger, der eigentlich ihr Feind sein müsste ... Eine mitreißende Geschichte, in der es buchstäblich um Leben und Tod geht.

 

Zu den Charakteren. Wir hatten Laia und Elias. Die Geschichte wurde aus der Sicht der Beiden erzählt. Laia ist mir gleich ans Herz gewachsen (ich mochte sie schon als ich eine kleine Leseprobe aus dem Buchladen mitgenommen habe und das erste Kapitel von ihr lesen konnte). Ich finde ja sie ist von Anfang an ziemlich stark, aber sie findet durch das Buch hinweg, immer wieder neue Stärke um nicht aufzugeben und behält ihr Ziel fest im Auge. Elias, mochte ich auch, bei ihm hab ich ein bisschen länger gebraucht obwohl ich immer für Charaktere zu haben bin, die auf der falschen Seite stehen, die aber immer nach einem Ausweg suchen um da rauszukommen. Seine Kapitel waren auf jeden Fall mehr actiongeladen als die von Laia, trotzdem fand ich ihre Kapitel öfter viel interessanter.

 

Es gab so viele Nebencharaktere, dass ich bei manchen einfach total keine Ahnung habe, wer sie eigentlich waren und was sie getan oder eben nicht getan haben. Aber einige haben sich dann doch wieder in mein Herz geschlichen. Ich mochte besonders Izzy und die Köchin (die beiden und wie nah sie sich standen, was sie schon alles gemeinsam durchgestanden hatten), Sana (von ihr hätte ich mir mehr gewünscht aber vielleicht bekomme ich das im zweiten Buch??), Helena mochte ich auch sehr gerne und egal wie es zwischendrin auch ausgesehen hat, ich habe nie das Vertrauen verloren, dass sie am Ende doch die richtigen Entscheidungen trifft.

 

Die Story an sich, war wirklich richtig interessant und auch spannend gemacht, ich mochte den Teil mit den Prüfungen obwohl es wirklich grausam war. Ich mochte den Teil mit dem Widerstand, obwohl ich kaum einem von ihnen traue.

 

Und das Ende hat es auf jedenfall geschafft, dass ich es kaum abwarten kann, dass nächste Buch zu hören. Ja, ich hab schon geguckt, es ist bei Spotify und ich werde es wieder versuchen. Diesmal ist es eine gekürzte Version, ich hoffe allerdings, dass ich trotzdem alles Wichtige dabei haben werde.

 

***

 

I wanted to read this book for forever. Somehow I never got it done and I don't even have it at home. I stumbled over it on Spotify the other day (a month ago) and took it as a sign. I'm not an audiobook person. I tried so many times and I somehow always take forever to finish one. But just because I WANT to be an audiobook person, I won't give up. Good to know how persistent I can be in rare situations like that.

 

But let's talk about the book. Firstly about the audiobook itself. I really liked both the readers. And I really liked the melody they played in the beginning, the end and between the different parts of the story, cause it fit the mood of the book so well. It was the full version, not some cut down one, and because of that, I kinda had the feeling the book was going on forever and I took really long too finish it. It wasn't the books fault, it was all mine.

 

About the story.

 

Summary: Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

 

The characters. We have Laia and Elias. The story is told from both their point of views. Laia got me right from the start (she already got me when I took a little sample of the book from the bookstore and was able to read her first chapter). I think right from the beginning, she is really strong but I also think that throughout the book, she finds a lot of new strength to focus on her goal and to never give up. I liked Elias, too. It took me a while, tho, even though I love those characters that are on the wrong side of things and try everything to get away from that. His chapters had a lot more action going on but I still thought that Laia's chapters were much more interesting most of the time.

 

There were so many minor characters, that with some of them I'm still lost and don't know who they actually are and what they did and didn't do. But some of them still found their way into my heart. Sneaky little bastards. I loved Izzy and the cook (those two, how close they are and what they both went through together), Sana (I wish we could've gotten more about her, but I have hope for the second book), and Helene, I loved her and through everything that was going on and that didn't put a good light on her, I still had faith in her that she would do the right things in the end.

 

The story itself was really interesting and exciting, I loved the parts with the trials, even though they were really brutal and cruel. I also loved the Resistance part of the story, though I don't trust most of them.

 

And the ending totally got me and made me wanted to listen to the next book right away. Yes, I'm listening to it again, spotify has it in a cut version and I hope, that I still get to hear all the good, important stuff.

 

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review 2017-11-23 19:46
Have you ever wondered what would happen if an elf, a vampire, a wizard and a werewolf met...
Out of the Ashes - Ari McKay

...while I can't honestly say that I have...I can say that it was hella' good fun finding out.

The last thing alpha werewolf expected to find when he returned home was 5 dead pack members and the rest of the pack missing. In need of help to find his missing pack Eli heads to the pack in Asheville and the supernatural community located there. When the supernatural council turns down Eli's plea for help...all except for one person...half-elf, Arden Gilmarin. 

As soon as they shake hands Eli knows he's met his mate...something he neither wants nor believes he needs. As Arden and his friends, the vampire Julian and a wizard named Whimsey work with Eli to figure out what's happened to Eli's pack, Eli begins to find it harder and harder to ignore his inner wolf's demands to be with it's mate. 

While Arden knows that he wants Eli as soon as they meet what he doesn't realize is that they're mates. 

I really enjoyed this story. It held my interest from start to finish. Both the storyline and the characters. The pace was fast but not excessively and the mystery and romance were woven together seamlessly. But even more than the story I loved these characters. Arden with his sweet caregiver ways, Eli with his gruff, alpha behavior and determination to keep Arden at arms length, Julian the mysterious vampire who keeps his past a secret and while he's not as open about his feelings as Arden or Whimsy it's still abundantly clear how much he cares about his two friends and the wizard, Whimsy. Whimsy is absolutely adorable and totally a spitfire...seriously don't mess with his friends because he will curse your sorry behind.

This was only my second time listening to an audio book narrated by Andrew McFerrin. I have to admit I was to say the least impressed by this narrator and the challenge he had narrating this story seriously there were a lot of speaking parts in this with a lot of different characters and Mr. McFerrin did a pretty impressive job giving them all their own unique voice and just keeping it straight as to which voice belonged to who and in how wonderfully expressive they were and this all combined to make one of the funnest audio books I've listened to in a while. I can definitely see me listening to this one again. 

Best of all 'Out of the Ashes' as well as being one of the books in Dreamspinner's 'Dreamspun Beyond' series, this is the first book in Ari McKay's 'Asheville Aracana' series and I'm definitely looking forward to whatever comes next whether it's Julian or Whimsy or even someone new, I'm on board for what comes next from 'Asheville'.


*************************

 

An audio book of 'Out of the Ashes' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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