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review 2018-10-20 22:18
Hell On Wheels
Hell on Wheels - Julie Ann Walker

Well, I liked it, but didn't really like it...I have some nitpicks. So, Ali's got some people after her and she goes to her brother's best friend for help. She's known him (and been in love with him) for over a decade and vice versa.
This had a decent amount of suspense. The characters are likable. But, the romance was so-so. It's the "I'm in love with best friend's sibling" trope, but can't have them because it's my best friend's sibling/not good enough. Whatever. Last I checked both were adults and didn't need anyone's permission. I thought the back and forth (I want you, but can't have you! and Made a move/said something, but then a push back) was too much and lasted too long before they finally got together. I also thought the ending a bit rushed. 
Ali was a well written character. I felt I knew her. Nate not so much. I knew next to nothing about him and that was the same at the end. While I liked Ali, be warned. She has a weak stomach and threw up 4 times. The other thing? She doesn't cuss. It's crapola. HE double hockey sticks. Frank even apologies for cussing (yes, women have delicate ears and will go ape shit should they hear a curse word!). Insert eye-roll here.
I thought Becky and Frank (who also happen to be the couple featured in the next book) had a strong story-line in this book. I am definitely pro-Becky. I thought she was fantastic and kick ass. I loved that she was so unconventional. Frank? I'm calling him a misogynistic asshole! I thought Becky was tolerated, because they NEED her skills, but at the same time, was not really one of THEM. Her goal is to be one of THEM. She takes steps to make that happen, and Frank, tells her she will never be one of them. And if she leaves, he will sabotage her chances. Now, it doesn't say what his reasoning was (beyond "for her own good"), but I can't help but think it's because: 1. Becky is a woman. 2. He likes Becky. 3. He must therefore "protect" her. I'm curious if he redeems himself because I thought this book had good, strong female characters that didn't venture into TSTL territory and could hold their own.
Featured in this book: Frank (Boss), Rebecca (Becky), Ethan (Ozzie), Dan (Dan Man), Patti
Someone does die. Wonder if Dagan will join?
Mentioned: Billy (Becky's brother), Christian, Rock, Steady, Mac, Jamin

Halloween Bingo:  Suspense square.  

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review 2018-10-15 17:19
Thoughts: Front Page Fatality
Front Page Fatality - LynDee Walker

Front Page Fatality

by LynDee Walker
Book 1 of A Nichelle Clarke Crime Thriller

A fiery crash kills two young police officers. A horrific accident? Or something more sinister?

Crime reporter Nichelle Clarke is covering the deaths of two young police officers near Richmond, Virginia. On the surface, it looks like a tragic accident. But as she digs deeper into the investigation, Nichelle realizes that all is not as it seems.

Evidence goes missing.

A prosecutor vanishes.

Someone is trying to cover their tracks.

Nichelle is struggling to put the pieces together, until a seductive Mafia boss shows up with the headline tip of a lifetime. But each step closer to the truth becomes exponentially more dangerous. And her investigation soon transforms into a murderous game of cat and mouse.

 

 

On a side note:  I like the newer covers for this series.  It's been noted that LynDee Walker was able to get the rights to all of her books, thus giving her the opportunity to repackage her series.  Each book gets a brand new, grittier looking cover illustration, and the whole series gets a brand new title as well, having previously been known as A Headlines in High Heels Mystery, which I can see why it had been given this series title in the first place, but doesn't really show you that there's so much more to the story than Nichelle's love for fancy heels of all kinds.

 

Now, moving right along to the review:

 

 

Front Page Fatality is an extremely enjoyable and strong start to the Nichelle Clarke Crime Thrillers, and definitely has a lot of potential to continue on being great if the rest of the books follow along the same vein.

The story is fast-paced and the murder investigation keeps you on your toes.  To be honest, I really didn't know what to think and who I thought would end up the ultimate culprit of the murders, and of the drug evidence disappearing.  I wasn't surprised at the ending, but was kept guessing throughout.  As others have mentioned, this book feels much grittier than your typical cozy mystery, with constant action from the beginning, all the way till the end, and even a darker atmosphere than your typical, humorous cozies.  The characters are all interesting in their own way, and I hope to see more of them in the rest of the series.

I especially loved our heroine, Nichelle Clarke, who isn't the typical badass independent woman, nor is she a giggling, swooning damsel either.  Nichelle is resourceful, smart, and doesn't spend her time pining after the first man who gives her a mega-watt smile.  I also love that she's not out to be TSTL material, even though she DOES manage to get herself into trouble a couple times--at least she openly admits that getting herself killed was never the plan.

She also reacts appropriately when she finds a strange man in her home who shouldn't be there... sort of.  I would have liked a lot less talking and a lot more dialing of 9-1-1, but I'm guessing Nichelle had her reasons; though I don't really approve of her still finding Mr. "Call me Joey" attractive after he'd just broken into her home.  I DO appreciate her then spending the time searching her home and locking all of her doors and windows following that little incident, and keeping vigilant about it even a day or two later.

I also love Nichelle's relationship with Bob, her boss--a pseudo-father-daughter relationship, if you will.  I like how they kind of take care of each other.  I hope to see more of that in upcoming books.

The side characters could have been fleshed out a little more.  Grant Parker felt like he should have been more interesting than he actually comes off.  Nichelle's best friend, Jenna also feels like another tangent waiting to be told.  And then Nichelle's police detective source, Aaron ended up disappearing for a good portion of the book.  So, ultimately, as I'd mentioned already, I DO hope to see more of these people in future books, if only because there is SO much potential going on there.

The only one thing that DID bug me about this book were the constant commentary about Nichelle's co-worker, Shelby--it felt in bad taste, honestly.  What people do in their romantic and/or sex lives is no one else's business, and using that as an attack against Shelby so much was uncalled for and unnecessary.  No matter that Shelby was a big bitch to Nichelle all the time--you can dislike her for her general attitude and rude behavior, but there's no need to stoop to attacking her bedroom habits.

I had figured Nichelle to be above that, considering she'd been able to hold her tongue against Les, the temporary stand-in when her boss, Bob has a heart attack.  Les was a standard asshole who kept the insults coming and I had so, so wanted her to retort back at least once.  But she held her tongue every single time, even after he kept insinuating that she was playing hooky and not taking her job seriously enough.

Nichelle's behavior towards Shelby is a different matter, however, from the fact that Shelby's "sleeping with the boss to advance her career" side-fact had to be brought up at all.  Truthfully, I had been so ready to be happy about Nichelle and Shelby's relationship being one of friendly rivalry of some sort when Nichelle mentions how Shelby is good at what she does, and could even potentially work the police and crime beat if she got the chance.  But then we pull the slut-shaming card and I just felt a bit frustrated.

I appreciate that Nichelle and Charlie, a television news reporter, have the friendly rivalry going on, but Charlie barely makes an appearance in the book.  It would have been nice to see more of this between Nichelle and Shelby, rather than just making Shelby out to be the stereotypical "Mean Girl."

But anyway, this book was overall entirely enjoyable, and I was very satisfied with it.

 

 



 

Halloween Bingo 2018
(a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community)


Other possible squares:  Amateur Sleuth; Terrifying Women; Murder Most Foul

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/10/thoughts-front-page-fatality.html
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-10-02 19:27
September 2018 — A Wrap-Up

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on October 2, 2018.

 

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Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

 

Like the two previous books in this series, this one was hilarious! Pratchett continues to amaze me by dealing with huge issues like gender discrimination in his own unique way:

“I can see you’ve been getting ideas below your station,” said Granny coldly.

 

As always, the humor was exquisite. Consider the following quote:

However, it is primarily a story about a world. Here it comes now. Watch closely, the special effects are quite expensive.

 

And this one:

“You’re wizards!” she screamed. “Bloody well wizz!”

 

I mean who even thinks of what a character would think if they were turned into an old palace. Pratchett, that’s who:

For the first time in her life, she knew what it was like to have balconies.

 

And then there was this one:

The light was misty and actinic, the sort of light to make Steven Spielberg reach for his copyright lawyer.

 

I also learned a new delicious word:

 

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Oh, and the writing was beautiful and witty, which is also characteristic Pratchett:

There should be a word for words that sound like things would sound like if they made a noise, he thought. The word ‘glisten’ does indeed gleam oilily, and if there was ever a word that sounded exactly the way sparks look as they creep across burned paper, or the way lights of cities would creep across the world if the whole of human civilization was crammed into one night, then you couldn’t do better than “coruscate.”

 

Granny was my favorite character. She dealt with sexist snobbish wizards with such aplomb and scolded sense into anyone who dared act crazy! More Pratchett love here.

 

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Undead and Unfinished by MaryJanice Davidson

 

Okay, okay. So it took Betsy almost ten books to realize how selfish she was. But at least, she owned up to it and then did something about it.

 

The book was funny:

And I was self-aware enough to realize that if I thought someone was being immature, it was time for them to reexamine their life.

 

It also had dark foreshadowing, which will form the plot of the future books. I am confident though if Betsy can survive her evil step-mom, dying, becoming a vampire, ruling over the bloodsuckers, marrying a selfish power hungry vampire and get him to fall in love with her, be sisters with the Devil’s daughter, adopt her own step-brother, prevent an all-out war with the shifters, and take down a villain or two, then she can handle whatever’s coming her way. Right?

 

 

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Time Travelers Strictly Cash by Spider Robinson

 

The good things about this compilation first. It had nuggets like this one:

One of the major agonies of reviewing is that you cannot recall an opinion which later reflection reveals to be fatheaded. There isn’t enough time for anything but snap judgments, and often you end up regretting them, and there’s no practical way to retract them.

 

I’m pretty sure seldom has a reviewer been this honest about their job and its drawbacks. Anyone who goes back and reads their reviews from before will agree with this point of view.

 

Then there were the stories with such beautiful one-liners, which is why I love the Time Travelers series:

And-and funny men are nicer lovers. They know about pain.

 

Not to forget brutal truths thrown in for good measures, like this one:

Of course one of the first concerns of a colonizing country is to properly condition the colonists. To ensure their loyalty. Because a colonist is supposed to give you the things you want to have in exchange for the things you want him to have, and for this golden opportunity he is supposed to be properly grateful. It wouldn’t do for him to get any treasonous ideas about his own destiny, his own goals.

 

Now for the bad part. This book doesn’t just contain the Callahan stories. It includes some reviews written by Robinson, a defense of Robert Heinlein, and other short stories not from the Callahan series. The so-called defense is long and drawn out and full of sexist, homophobic, and other negative comments. I skipped most of it.

 

The Callahan stories included:

 

Fivesight

The title is a play on the word foresight and is a sad but uplifting story about a character whose husband can see a few hours ahead into the future.

 

Dog Day Evening

This is the story of a German Shepherd, Ralph von Wau Wau, and it is exactly Callahan-tastic!

 

Have You Heard The One…?

This story is about a new character who comes to visit the saloon, Al Phee, and reveals the true nature of one of the regulars, Josie Bauer. Another fun one!

 

Mirror / rorriM Off The Wall

This story describes the events that befall Robert Trebor and how Callahan and the narrator, Jake, help him out.

 

The non-Callahan stories were:

 

God is an Iron

It is a story about how a thief and a drug addict save each other.

 

Soul Search

A woman tries to reawaken her mate to life from a cryogenic sleep. Things don’t go so well. The story’s focus is on what could make reincarnation possible

 

Local Champ

This represents Robinson’s rare attempts at writing a fantasy story. It is about a warlock who becomes all-powerful and immortal and how he meets his demise.

 

Serpents’ Teeth

Kid emancipation and parenting are the focus of this story. It was a miss for me.

 

 

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Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

 

Exhaustingly descriptive and maybe dated to some extent. I think if the pages spent by the author describing Manderley were removed, the result would be a fast-paced thriller. I didn’t mind that the author took her time unraveling the secrets surrounding the first wife’s death. It made the story exciting but I did mind when she spent pages and pages telling me about the garden and the rooms of the mansion. How awkwardly the second Mrs. De Winter tries to fill Rebecca’s shoes and her trials were described very well. It made you feel for her while remaining in awestruck by the glamorous creature Rebecca had been. How Rebecca’s nurse mentally tortured the girl and the rambling man by the beach only deepened my enjoyment of the mystery. But when De Winter finally confessed, I wanted to smack him hard. It took him this long to say that? Why did he make his wife suffer so much? The idiot! And when Manderley finally burned now, I was like good riddance!

 

 

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Nightlight by The Harvard Lampoon

 

A parody of the Twilight series. It had its laugh out loud moments, not because they were funny. They made me laugh because they accurately described how nonsensical certain things were in the original series. Bella looking after her parents instead of it being the other way around. Her thinking that all the guys were falling for her. I could go on and on, but I won’t…

 

 

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

 

If I was to name one pompous, pretentious book that glorified one era and was elitist as shit, I’d probably name this one! The protag is a geek, which made him better than everyone who met him. He is also a Mary Sue. He was singlemindedly solving the riddle when he suddenly just had to fall in love. The girl he fell for was introduced as an independent woman but by the end of the book, she had been successfully Hollywood-ized. There were dei ex machina of all kinds and the last one was obviously the worst. The villain’s character was cardboard thin and just in it for the money. He worked for an organization that was supposedly the worst, right? Then how come he kept failing and they never replaced him? What pissed me off, even more, was the fact that the book was marketed as YA. None of the targeted audience would have even existed in the eighties. Why add all those obscure references? Just to show off how knowledgeable the author is? Then why not write a non-fic about the subject? A quick read if you can ignore the glaring faults with this one!

 

 

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Megalodon & Prehistoric Sharks by Various Authors

 

Fun, informative book that made me thank my stars that I wasn’t born back then! Some of these bloodthirsty giants even counted the land amongst their hunting grounds. Yeesh! Check out some of the hair-raising illustrations below:

 

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25489238

 

Once Upon a Time Machine: Greek Gods and Legends

 

Icarus

A father-son team on a space voyage; guess which one doesn’t survive the trip?

 

Theseus and Metrotaurus

Theseus needs to board a train to meet his beloved. The metrotaurus isn’t having any of it!

 

Pandora

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The Slaying of the Pseudors (Odysseus)

Odysseus returns home to find aliens have taken over and turned his family into pterodactyl-like creatures. The rest, as they say, is history!

 

Footsteps (Hermes)

The divine messenger cannot survive going digital. Or can he?

 

Arachne

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Persephone

An alien heroine tries to convince her mother she loves Hades. A sad ending!

 

Hyperion

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Flying Horse Style (Pegasus)

Why even a chimera isn’t a match for Pegasus!

 

Aphrodite

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Daphne

Even a modern-day Zeus doesn’t know when to give up!

 

Minotaur

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Hades

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Andromeda

Andromeda isn’t going home and Perseus can go hang himself.

 

Eurydice

He tries to bring Eurydice back with a software.

 

The Muses

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Game Changers (Athena and Poseidon)

Game developers try to bring back their creation to order.

 

Away Mission (Actaeon)

A friendship that survives several alien transformations until it doesn’t!

 

The Twelve Labors of Mech-Detective Heracles

She doesn’t know how to give up!

 

Pygmalion

The classic tale, except this time, Galatea returns the favor!

 

A Heavy Stone for all the Peoples (Sisyphus)

A tale as old as time, but with a twist!

 

Eros

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Jason and the Argonauts

Gang wars break out over the golden fleece err jacket.

 

Metal Illiad

Achille’s exploits at the Battle of Troy turned into a comic strip.

 

Cerberus

16

 

Cosmogony (Uranus)

The dominant species always ends up wrecking the world!

 

Ares

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The Long Bow (Telemachus)

Is it set in Ancient Greece or the modern times, who can tell? But Ulysses comes through for his son!

 

Zeus at Large

A comic strip about Zeus’ sexcapades.

 

Riddle of the Sphinx

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I loved all the illustrations and most of the stories in this comic compilation.

 

 

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Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros

 

I read this book for the Hispanic Heritage category in Book Bingo. It started off beautifully. The descriptions of how subtly — and not so subtly — different life was on both sides of the border were juicy and well written. I loved reading about the different generations of a family and how circumstances shaped their lives and nature. When the book began, the narrator calls her grandma, the Awful Grandmother. By the end of the book, she drops the awful, and you can see why. What turned me off was how the book dragged on needlessly when it could have been wrapped up at least 100 pages earlier. I realized early that there wouldn’t be a twist and I was right. Still, the story left me wanting.

 

 

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The Color Purple by Alice Walker

 

 

I have always wanted to read this book but haven’t been able to woman up for this task. Once I had bought a physical copy, I even picked it up. Got as far as the first page, which sets the tone of the book, and explains that it is going to be epistolary. The book found its way back on my bookshelf and languished there, it did. Until Book Bingo because I am friends with this kooky group of girls. We all have different reading tastes so any attempts at starting a book clubs have met with a failure of the bitchy sort. What we flock towards is Bingo because it allows us to read whatever the heck we want – provided it matches the description of a Bingo square. After several months or so, one of us – usually, this person of ill-repute – wails about Bingo. The rest of us say aye and so it begins like it began this time.

 

I read The Color Purple for my Banned Book square. A perfect choice because it has been banned many times and for various reasons. It is a book that breaks your heart but also reaffirms your faith in familial love. After all, it was the sisters’ love for each other that helped them survive the cruelties of fate. You’d start reading thinking that this book recounts a tale that isn’t unique in any way. You’d be right too if the author hadn’t used clever devices like broken grammar and failed to establish Celie’s voice. Besides the writing, I also liked that Celie didn’t get back with her husband. They remained friends but she had outgrown him, so it seemed right that she didn’t go back.

 

Another thing I liked was that this book showed women behaving like women usually do: being generous and compassionate, raising other women’s kids as their own, leaving home to fulfill their dreams, being stronger than the men, and refusing to give in when it mattered.

 

A few quotes from the book:

If he (God) ever listened to poor colored women the world would be a different place.

Shug: Why any woman give a shit what people think is a nystrey to me.
Grady:  A woman can’t git a man if peoples talk.
Shug look at me and us giggle. Then us laugh sure nuff.

 

I finished the book in a few hours. It was the perfect length!

 

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

 

Two pages into the book and Christopher’s autistic nature made me fall in love with him. We might find his life complicated by certain behavioral quirks. But to him, life was quite straightforward. A particular number of red cars meant a Good Day and yellow ones meant a bad one. He had plans in place for a bad day and he followed them to the letter. What did throw him off were how people said one thing but meant another. Since he couldn’t lie or bluff, he found it difficult to interpret others’ behavior when they did that. It took a lot of work for him to match a person’s expression with past experiences stored in his mental database. An animal’s life held as much value for him as a human’s, which is why he decided to work out who murdered the neighbor’s dog. His parents loved him as best as they could but they were human and lost their temper at times. This book made me realize the importance of patience. The next time I run into someone who isn’t like everybody else, I hope I have the presence of mind and the compassion to exercise some patience and accept them for who they are!

Some Christopher wisdom for us all:

I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you speny all your time thinking about them.

If only we were all this smart, all the time!

 

So, that was my September in a nutshell. How was yours?

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review 2018-09-25 21:04
Sum Tyms Bytin Sum Tyms Bit: "Riddley Walker" by Russell Hoban
Riddley Walker - Russell Hoban


"People ask me how I got from St. Eustace to Riddley Walker and all I can say is that it's a matter of being friends with your head. Things come into the mind and wait to hook up with other things; there are places that can heighten your responses, and if you let your head go its own way it might, with luck, make interesting connections."

in "Riddley Walker" by Russell Hoban

 


The language is what makes this book, working at multiple levels. For a start, it gives the reader an instant sense of estrangement, telling us from the first line, at a gut level, that we are in a world very different from ours. Then, as Hoban has said, the difficulty of reading it slows the reader down to Riddley's own speed, and it makes you read unusually carefully.

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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text 2018-09-24 22:59
Yanni's Story (The Spencer Cohen Series Book 4) N.R. Walker Free!
Yanni's Story - N.R. Walker

When Yanni Tomaras is kicked out of his family home, his parents’ final words are religious insults and an order to never return. Homeless and desperate, he’s lured in by Lance—charming on the outside, an evil predator underneath—who abuses Yanni until he finds the courage to leave.


Yanni should feel free. But by the time Spencer Cohen finds him, he’s resigned to being handed back to Lance and once again being caged by fear.


Starting school and a part-time job, Yanni begins to reclaim his life. But a love for silent films leads him to Peter Hannikov, a man with a kind heart but who’s twice his age. An unlikely friendship between them blooms into so much more. Neither man knows what he wants, at first. Finding out exactly what he needs is Yanni’s story.


“I’d spent years as a bird, caged with my wings clipped, tormented and beaten.
I thought I’d escaped when I’d left my abuser, but in hindsight, I could see that I was still caged, this time by fear and self-doubt.


Spencer and Andrew, and Andrew’s parents, opened the door to the cage that confined me.


But it was Peter who taught me how to fly.”

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