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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-03-27 04:51
Review: Don't Look Down by Hilary Davidson
Don't Look Down - Hilary Davidson

***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer!***


In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that I did not read the entire book. I read to 150 pages and I just couldn’t stomach it anymore. Reading it was painful and I just couldn’t do it. And since I am about 98% sure I know how it’s going to end, there really wasn’t much to keep me reading any further.


This book is just not good. It’s not a good character story nor is it a good police procedural. I am not an expert in the law or police procedure, by any means, however I have read enough books and watched enough Law & Order that I know how these types of books should work. I have a basic understanding of the law and how it works and this was not even close to being accurate. This case would get thrown into the nearest paper shredder and the detectives would be berated in open court to handle a case this way.


Also, consider this your ***SPOILER WARNING***


Three prime examples that the author has zero idea how the police actually function:


- The detectives go to the office of a suspect and state that they need to speak with said suspect, the fill-in receptionist advises that the suspect is not there but her office is that way so feel free to wait. Apparently this is a good enough cause for the detectives to search the suspect’s office. They do not have a warrant. They have not obtained permission unless you count the receptionist and yet they snoop through everything and decide to obtain a warrant for the suspect’s home once they find something. That is called an unlawful search and any evidence obtained in said search is automatically inadmissible in court, except in this book.

  • - They go search the suspect’s home and find her boyfriend there, they do not escort the boyfriend outside or to a specific place while they conduct the search. He just follows them around from room to room, offering an opinion on what they find and being asked leading questions about their investigation. Apparently in this book a search warrant also means that you get to search anything in the home and seize anything you feel like. That isn’t how search warrants work. Typically search warrants indicate exactly what sort of evidence you believe that you will find or that you believe is relevant to the investigation. For example, a murder weapon, belongings of the victim, etc. You don’t just get to snoop and seize things on a whim because they might pertain to your investigation. Also, one of the uniform police officers is asked to crack open a safe. Which he does, in just a few minutes. Is safe cracking a typical skill for a beat cop?
  • - When they find the suspect they are unconscious from blood loss. The suspect is taken to the hospital for treatment after being placed under arrest. The detectives then literally have a conversation of “Do you think we have to Mirandize her again? I don’t think it counts if they’re unconscious.” No, it doesn’t count. But apparently this is also a book that a suspect is taken into custody after suffering a gunshot wound that has left them unconscious from blood loss and they are expected in court the next day to be arraigned.

Also, on to another rant. This felt like a social justice rant. Every other page you have the African American detective making some observation about how awful things are for minorities in New York City and how wonderful white people have things. For example, “That’s assuming that the DA will arraign a wealthy white woman for possession of an illegal firearm, which isn’t likely.” Spare me. In case Ms. Davidson hadn’t noticed, she is white. And lecturing the reader about racial injustice. Personally, I am so white that I practically glow in the dark so I understand that I have very little perception of what minorities in this country experience on a day to day basis. I found it condescending for a white woman to be lecturing about the plight of another race. A plight that she does not understand.


Finally, this story is predictable. I knew how this was going to go by page fifty. All it took was one line (not a direct quote, I can’t be bothered to find it again), “If I had to pinpoint my blackmailer I would have said Lori in a second, but Lori had been dead for eighteen months.” Well there you have it folks. Two possibilities. Either Lori is not really dead and exacting revenge for some past slight. Or Lori is actually dead and someone close to her is exacting revenge for some past slight. I really don’t need to slog through 300 more painfully bad pages to find out that the ending is exactly what I think it is.

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review 2019-12-20 06:34
Greenfire by Saranne Dawson
Greenfire - Saranne Dawson

Nazleen is the ruler of the Hamloorian people. Like all Lieges, she is Cerecian: a descendant of Stakezti, a mysterious golden-haired child who had special powers (telepathy, visions of the future, the ability to wield green fire). It was Cerecians who wielded their green fire against the violent Warriors and brought peace to this land. Since then, a female Cerecian Liege has always ruled Hamloor, reluctantly choosing a mate from among the Warriors when it comes time for her to conceive an heir.

Nazleen knows that she will need to choose a mate soon. Her choice will almost certainly be Miklav, the Warrior Chief. He's a Warrior, so she'll never be able to fully trust him, but he seems to be a good man, and he's made some changes to Warrior society that she finds surprising, intriguing, and a little unsettling. However, first she must deal with news that may shift the balance of power more in Miklav's favor: there have been several sightings of aliens, some of whom might be male Cerecians. There have only ever been female Cerecians, and it's uncertain whether these possible male Cerecians are peaceful or as prone to violence as the Warriors.

Love Spell futuristic romances (which weren't necessarily "futuristic") used to be my catnip. If I found one at the library or on a used bookstore shopping trip, I wanted to read it. I figure I've probably owned this particular book for at least 15 or 20 years. I never seemed to be in the mood to read it, but I couldn't bring myself to offload it either. Love Spell nostalgia, I guess.

Sadly, this didn't turn out to be a hidden gem. I don't think I'd have liked it even if I had read it back during the height of my "futuristic romance" reading. The beginning was weighed down by overly complicated and confusing world-building. The story had potential but was generally boring. Even worse, this wasn't a romance. I don't care what the cover art and branding make it look like, it's not a romance.

It's possible to see the bones for a couple potentially decent romance novels in this book. In one, Nazleen and Miklav, two rulers who see each other as political adversaries, work together to investigate a potential threat towards their people and gradually begin to care for each other. In the other, Nazleen grew up believing that Cerecians were only ever female, while Zaktar believed that Cerecians were only ever male. After a disastrous meeting, they tried to patch things up between them for the good of their people, but also because they found themselves drawn to each other.

Two thirds of Greenfire was the first romance. This confused me, because the back of the book indicated that Nazleen and Zaktar were the book's heroine and hero. It was possible that this was somehow a stealth poly romance, but the Cerecian Sisterhood's visions of

Miklav being killed in a war

(spoiler show)

didn't seem like a good sign.

I initially figured that Zaktar would show up early on,

kill Miklav or somehow cause his death, and then spend the rest of the book trying to get Nazleen to trust him.

(spoiler show)

As pages and pages went by with little more than a single instance of telepathic contact between Nazleen and Zaktar that Nazleen thought might have been a hallucination, I became more unsure of the route this story was going to take. I also found myself thinking that this read far more like SFF with romantic aspects than an actual SFF romance. Although Nazleen and Miklav had sex, Nazleen never truly trusted Miklav and made it clear that he didn't have her heart. Miklav actually seemed more emotionally involved with Nazleen than Nazleen was with him, despite the fact that he had a long-term lover with whom he'd had a child (Hamloorians, and Warriors in particular, rarely had lifelong monogamous relationships).

I disliked Miklav's lust for political power and his controlling behavior. However, at least he had a significant on-page presence and had spent a good deal of time with Nazleen. The same couldn't be said about Zaktar. And yet. (Major spoilers from this point on. MAJOR.)

About two thirds of the way through the book, Zaktar killed Miklav. He could have held back and just stunned him, but instead he deliberately killed him - he wanted Nazleen after having briefly seen her, and he viewed Miklav as his rival. Nazleen tried to kill him in return and ended up miscarrying - yes, she was pregnant and Miklav was the father. Zaktar saved her life by carrying her into the Cerecians' sacred green fire...an act which the two later found out was an ancient Cerecian marriage ceremony. So, no matter what Nazleen did, she was unwillingly bound to someone. Nazleen spent most of the Zaktar portion of the book avoiding him, to the point where Zaktar thought he'd end up having to go back to his people alone, but once that "unwittingly married" bit came up, Nazleen's resistance magically evaporated and the two of them had sex in the sacred green fire. The end. Literally the end. The book just stopped right there.

It was bad enough that the book's supposed hero didn't really meet the heroine until the last third of the story, after he'd killed the man she'd chosen as her mate.

(spoiler show)

That ending, on top of everything else, was a slap in the face. On the plus side, now I get to offload this book and free up a little shelf space.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2019-12-05 19:56
More Really Neat Rocks

My window for cutting rocks is very small.  If it's too hot, which is basically April through October, the oil that lubricates the saw blade gets too hot, too, and smokes and can literally burn my fingers.  Not to mention that it's too hot to stand out on the patio and work.  If it's too cold, well, it's too cold.  Ideal temperature is between 55 and 75, so I try to grab as much of that window as I can.


Oh, and no rain.  We've had quite a bit of that lately, too.


This morning promised to be perfect, so I headed out there shortly after 8:00 and put in a little over two hours.  I wanted to try some more of the jasper chunks I've picked up over the years to see if there was anything exciting.  One chunk of lavender moss agate looked promising, but turned out to be pretty much of a dud.  The small pieces broke easily along fracture lines, so they'll go in the tumbler for fun.  Another piece of red-brown material proved to have some nice veins of white agate that may yield a few nice cabochons if they polish well enough. 


Everything is sitting in kitty litter right now, getting the oil absorbed off it.  In a couple hours I'll pull the stones out of the kitty litter and wash them in soapy water.  Then I'll be able to tell just how nice the agate-in-jasper stones are.


But the jasper wasn't turning out anything spectacular, and I knew I had a whole bucket full of chalcedony pieces just the right size and shape for slicing, so I selected three or four of those and started slicing away.  Nice, but not spectacular.


My fingers were getting sore and I knew I was going to have to do a serious cleaning of the saw because the jasper makes an unbelievable mess, so I thought I'd dig down into another bucket of agate nodules to see if there was anything that caught my eye.  A few small nodules turned out to have some nice banding, and one had a bit of purple.  I decided to try one more that looked like it just might have some color to it.


Some of these stones are from the area around Fourth of July Butte west of Phoenix.  It's a well-known rock hounding site, and even though people have been collecting there for decades and decades, it still produces some nice material if you have the patience to look.  There's another location near Fourth of July called the Chimney Beds, but I've never found anything remotely interesting there.  Other people have, but not I.  A third location in the same general region has lots of small nodules (4.0 - 8.0 cm diameter) that have either nice concentric banding or pretty crystal centers.  That's where I found my first amethysts, and I've collected a lot of those little nodules.


The little purple stones I cut last year came from either Fourth of July (most likely) or the third location.  And that's where this morning's last stone came from.



The purple banding was enough of a delight, but the frosting on this cake is that the crystals at the very center are purple, too.


It's not a big stone.  I didn't get many slices from it, and some of them are marred by black inclusions.  But this was pretty neat.



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review 2019-11-05 14:29
ARC REVIEW Don't Breathe A Word by Christie Craig

Don't Breathe a WordTexas Justice #2, The Cold Case Unit of Anniston PD has a new case when they look into a young stripper's disappearance, the murder of her boyfriend, and the connection they had to the gang leader/drug dealer who killed Juan Acosta's wife and unborn baby. Juan already killed him in the line of duty but the large scar on his face serves as a daily reminder that he failed his family. Finding the person responsible for this cold case and maybe even finding the stripper alive will help, or so he hopes. But then there is his new neighbor and her daughter something just doesn't feel right he knows they are running from something but he doesn't know what and he's determined to find out.

Vikki Holloway gained guardianship of her niece, Bell, after her sister died in a hit and run. Vikki always suspected her sister's abusive husband as the culprit but never had proof and it seemed pointless to prove it after he died but then Vikki swore she saw him leave her apartment after ransacking it and then he called her threatening her. Scared for her niece she ran and with the help of AWCO they got new identities. After almost being found in Arizona they moved to Texas where she became Nikki Hanson and Bell became her daughter.

Juan felt intrigued by Nikki and her daughter and oddly protective of them too. He knew they were hiding something but the more he got to know them the more he felt inclined to help them, not even the truth scared him off it just made all the more determined to keep them safe. All the while Juan and his team mates are working his cold case which has suddenly become hot again with the only witness disappearing only to reappear and get shot at and put into a coma. Vikki is hesitant to accept any help from anyone but Juan isn't easily put off, the sexual attraction is one thing but Vikki starts to actually trust Juan. 

Overall, I loved this book. It was an exciting read with great characters, Bell is adorable. I loved the descriptive foreplay and then leaving the sex up to the reader's imagination it was just enough to satisfy me. It is a nicely balanced romantic suspense and it can be read as a standalone. I look forward to Connor's book next.     


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text 2019-10-23 20:16
The power of omens even when we don't believe in them

The past several days have been pretty rough.  Yesterday, after dealing with Moby and then lifting the dog food out of the car, my back told me no more, no way.  I spent the afternoon and most of the evening lying on the couch with the heating pad.  Today I feel a little better.


I would like to have a day or three in a row where I have nothing to do but catch up on the things I enjoy doing, but that's not in the foreseeable future.  So I get by with what bits of time make themselves available.


Today I grabbed some time to do some thinking, and if my thinking tends to come back to the same important point no matter how I try to avoid it, it also reminds me that there are serious obstacles I have to overcome if I want to make certain desired changes in my lifestyle.


It's all a matter of how to get from Point A to Point B.


And sometimes you need a ferry.


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