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review 2018-10-13 03:32
Sunny Randall's Back in this Promising Reintroduction
Robert B. Parker's Blood Feud - Mike Lupica

I have a complicated relationship with Sunny Randall. Readers of this site have been frequently exposed to my love for Robert B. Parker's Spenser and Jesse Stone novels, both by Parker and the continuations by Ace Atkins and Reed Farrel Coleman (let's overlook Michael Brandman's contributions for the moment). I enjoyed his stand-alone works, and I thought the first couple of Virgil Cole & Everett Hitch books were fun (I haven't tried the Robert Knott continuations). Which leaves us with Sunny.

 

Sunny Randall, the story goes, was written to be adapted into a film series for Parker's chum, Helen Hunt (incidentally, I've never been able to envision Helen Hunt in a single Sunny scene, but that's just me). She's a private investigator; a former cop; part-time painter (art, not house); emotionally entangled with her ex-husband, but can't live with him; lives in Boston; and enjoys good food. But she's totally not a female Spenser -- she doesn't like baseball, see? I've read all the books -- some multiple times -- and while I enjoyed them, I've never clicked with Sunny the way I have with others. Including every other Parker protagonist. Most of her novels are mashups and remixes of various Spenser novels, entertaining to see things in a different light -- but that's about it. Frankly, the most I ever liked Sunny was in the three Jesse Stone novels late in Parker's run (but both characters are better off without each other).

 

So when it was announced that Mike Lupica would be taking up the reins of this series I was intrigued but not incredibly enthused. I only know Lupica from having bought a few of his books for my sons when they were younger. I didn't get around to reading any of them, so he's really a new author for me. And sure, I was a little worried about a YA/MG author taking the reins of a "grown-up" series. But not much -- if you can write a novel, you can write a novel, it's just adjusting your voice and language to be appropriate for the audience.

 

Enough blather -- let's talk about Blood Feud. Since we saw her last, Sunny has had to move, Richie (her ex-) has gotten another divorce (giving them the chance to date or whatever you want to call it) and has replaced her late dog, Rosie, with another Rosie. Other than that, things are basically where they were after the end of Spare Change 11 years ago (for us, anyway, I'm not sure how long for her, but less time has passed you can bet).

 

By the way -- does anyone other than Robert B. Parker, Spenser and Sunny really do this? Your dog dies, so you go and get another one of the same breed and call him/her the same name? Is this really a thing?

 

Then one night -- Richie is shot. It's not fatal, but was done in such a way that no one doubts for a moment that it could have been had the assailant wanted it to be. For those who don't know (or don't remember), Richie is the son of an Irish mob boss, although he has nothing to do with the family business. He's given a message for his father -- his shooter is coming for him, but wants him to suffer first. This kicks off a race for the shooter -- Sunny, the Burke family and the police (led by Sgt. Frank Belson) are vying to be the one to find the shooter.

 

Before long, the violence spreads to other people the Burkes employ -- both property and persons are targeted by this stranger. It's clear that whoever is doing this has a grudge going back years. So Sunny dives into the Burke family history as much as she can, so she can get an answer before her ex-father-in-law is killed. Not just the family history -- but the family's present, too. As much as the roots of the violence are in the past, Sunny's convinced what the Burkes are up to now is just as important to the shooter.

 

Richie's father, Desmond, isn't happy about Sunny sticking her nose into things. Not just because of the crimes she might uncover -- but he really wants to leave the past in the past. But as long as someone might come take another shot at Richie, Sunny won't stop. This brings her into contact with several criminal figures in Boston (like Parker-verse constants Tony Marcus and Vinnie Morris) as well as some we've only met in Sunny books.

 

There are a couple of new characters in these pages, but most of them we've met before -- Lupica is re-establishing this universe and doesn't have time to bring in many outsiders, but really just reminds us who the players are. Other than the new Rosie, I can't point at a character and say "that's different." He's done a pretty good job of stepping into Parker's shoes. Not the pre-Catskill Eagle Parker like Atkins, but the Parker of Sunny Randall books, which is what it should feel like (( wouldn't have objected to a Coleman-esque true to the character, just told in a different way). I think some of the jokes were overused (her Sox-apathy, for one), but it wasn't too bad. Lupica did make some interesting choices, particularly toward the end, which should set up some interesting situations for future installments.

 

The mystery was decent enough, and fit both the situations and the characters -- I spent a lot of the novel far ahead of Sunny (but it's easier on this side of the page). I enjoyed the book -- it's not the best thing I've read this year, but it's a good entry novel for Lupica in this series, a good reintroduction for the characters/world, and an entertaining read in general. If you're new to this series, this would be as good a place to hop on as it was for Lupica.

 

I want better for Parker's creation (but I think I'd have said that for most of Parker's run with the series), and Lupica's set things up in a way that we could get that in the near-future. He's demonstrated that he has a good handle on the character he inherited, the question is, what can he do with her from here? I was ambivalent about this series coming back, but I can honestly say that I'm eager to see what happens to it next.

 

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Putnam Books via NetGalley in exchange for this post -- thanks to both for this.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/10/12/blood-feud-by-mike-lupica-sunny-randalls-back-in-this-promising-reintroduction
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review 2018-09-29 00:19
ARC Review: Threepeat (Secrets #3) by KC Wells and Parker Williams
Threepeat - K.C. Wells,Parker Williams

Super late to the party with this review, but life took a left turn that still has me scrambling to catch up... well, enough of me and my poor excuses.


I'm not usually one to read menages. There are but a few I've read in my time on GR, and I can probably count them on one hand. However, not only is this book 3 in the Secretsseries, but also written by the fabulous team Wells/Williams, so I definitely had grabby hands.

I have but one complaint after reading this book - why, oh why didn't we get to see Tim's blood family get what's coming to them? Why? I want to read that. 

Anyway, getting ahead of myself.

Aaron and Sam are an established couple, both into the BDSM scene, and both Doms. Obviously, that's a little tricky to navigate but for a good six years, they had a submissive that lived with them, whom they both loved, and who out of the blue decided to leave and break the contract, no explanation given. 

Obviously, this left them reeling, and two years later, Aaron is not ready to try again, and Sam doesn't know what to do. They're in danger of breaking up - that much is clear from the narrative. 

Then Aaron finds Tim, out on the streets after the poor young man was kicked out of his home for being gay, rescuing him from a situation that might have turned real ugly if Aaron hadn't shown up.

So, Aaron takes Tim home to Sam, and after nursing him back to health, the two older men offer him a roof over his head in exchange for some light house-keeping and cooking and such. Sex is definitely not on the table, which - thank goodness, because that would have been super gross, and I wouldn't have liked the characters if they'd done that. These are good men, so they don't. 

Tim sees the two men, thinks them hunky, observes them, learns about them, and realizes that they are exactly what he wants and needs. If only...

This is a sweet read. Not over the top sweet, but engaging and heartwarming and just smile-inducing sweet. I had some giggles too. There were some edge of my seat moments. 

I liked all three characters. Aaron was the softer of the two initially, but there is softness in Sam too - he just hides it better. There was so much sweetness in Tim, but also a lot of steel in his spine. I enjoyed seeing all three men's points of view, with each bringing something unique to the relationship. I enjoyed them learning about each other, learning to navigate the unknown waters, learning to make their threesome fit. I enjoyed the sexy times - I can always count with these authors to make them highly emotional. 

Obviously, this couldn't be a Wells/Williams book without a bit of drama. I won't go into detail here, but it's rooted, as these things often are, in lack of communication and bad assumptions. It doesn't last long, thank goodness, and all three men learn from the experience. 

The characters from the previous books all make an appearance, including Eli and Jarod, the owners of Secrets, and Jarod's indomitable mother, who not only provides a bit of humor but also a lot of really good advice. 

The ending was perfect and oh so swoon-worthy. Loved it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can hardly wait to see what these authors come up with next. It's definitely best to read this series in order, though each book works as a standalone. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-09-09 16:34
Giraffes Can't Dance - Giles Andreae,Guy Parker-Rees

Gerald the giraffe wants to dance, but his legs are too skinny and his neck is too long. At the Jungle Dance, the warthogs waltz, the chimps cha-cha, and the lions tango. "Giraffes can't dance," they all shout when it's Gerald's turn. But with some advice from a wise cricket, Gerald starts swaying to his own music.This is a great book to show children they can do anything they set their minds to. 

After reading, children might come up with other animals that should be invited to the Jungle Dance and what dance they might perform. 

 

Lexile: 570LL

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review 2018-06-22 16:12
Strong ‘girl-power’ message, as well as one of loyalty and friendship, in this exciting adventure on the high seas in ‘Seafire’
Seafire - Natalie Jane Parker

This book about a ship full of fierce, brave, loyal women ready to take on any battle on the high seas, is definitely an adventure with a strong girl-power message (as promised). 

 

Captain Caledonia Styx takes charge of the ship Mors Navis after losing her family to a corrupt and vicious warlord, Aric Athair, and his fleet of ships who he fills with ‘Bullets’, boys and men who he doses up with the drug Silt. Caledonia vows to avenge her loss, and all those of her ‘sisters’, and leads them on mission to find her two brothers, who she finds are still alive (and also now Bullets), after capturing one ‘boy’ called Orna. 

 

The characters on the Mors Navis are tight friends and fighters, loyal to the end, and they are all written with fascinating idiosyncrasies (and names!). What is so great about this book in general is that this is a story about family, friendships, the importance of bonds and loyalty, and how that carries these self-professed sisters through such adversity together.

Parker has written the book with a lot of sailing lingo (I just read that she grew up in a Navy family), so that took a bit of getting adjusted to, but is totally necessary for it to feel authentic. It’s interesting that she has chosen to have the book read as though it’s in some sort of past, but it’s written with talk of the ‘Old World’ and there is some interesting tech, ie the electromagnetic field around the Bullet ship.

 

The conflict that Caledonia has within herself, that makes her so hardened, is most interesting; I struggled with it a little though, in connecting with her, but it would be appropriate since that’s how it would be in reality. Other characters are also just as fascinating, and Parker will hopefully develop these further when this adventure continues. The pacing was a bit slow in parts, but when I think about that, I think about how the crew has to actually wait as they sail on the high seas, and would spend time preparing to reach their next port or venture. 

 

Overall, this is an exciting take on a sea adventure, and I expect the reader will end up gunning for the crew of Mors Navis like I did. And unsurprisingly, the ending has left the reader with a major cliffhanger. 

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review 2018-06-08 23:55
Thrills Abound in A Secret to the Grave by Jane Blythe @jblytheauthor
A Secret to the Grave (Detective Parker Bell Book 1) - Jane Blythe

 

Jane Blythe is a suspense/thriller writer that is on my must read list. I eagerly anticipate each book I receive from  her and she has never failed me. I am beginning her Detective Parker Bell series and know I am going to have many hours of thrills and chills.

 

So….let’s begin.

 

Cover by QDesign

 

A Secret To The Grave (Detective Parker Bell #1)

Amazon  /  Goodreads

 

MY REVIEW

 

Beware! Once I started, I couldn’t stop and I recommend locking your doors and turning off your phone before beginning.

 

Just looking at the cover for A Secret to the Grave has chills running up and down my spine, as I rub by hands together with glee, eager to dive into another series by Jane Blythe.

 

Detective Parker Bell and his friend and partner, Detective Skylar Wyatt are on the case and it will not be easy to unravel the who, what and why. The kidnapper has taken his first victim and left rules to the game he wants to play. Follow the clues and save some faceless women and Jane will die. Do nothing, let the women die, and Jane will live. What do you think?

 

The first brutal, savage, grotesque murder creates a sense of urgency for all of them…and me.

 

Parker struggles with his past, nightmares making sleep something to be avoided, but nine women’s lives are at stake and they are counting on him and his cohorts to save them. So, buck up. The clock is ticking…

 

I can hardly wait to see where Jane Blythe will take me to next. I want dark, gritty, truly terrifying suspense and death and there is no short supply of it here.

 

Jane Blythe kept me guessing the why of it. I love that. The women are geniuses that have their own nightmares and I keep wondering why they don’t fight back.  No matter what the maniac does to them, the women keep the secret he so desperately wants to know. Why are they willing to go peacefully (?) into that good night? They are damaged goods and I wonder, how far will they let this go before someone decides enough is enough. I love the twists and turns Jane has created. I am curious…so very curious about the secret, the real mystery.

 

I sure do hope curiosity doesn’t get this cat. LOL

 

Romance? Oh yeah…and she fights it every step of the way. Both Parker and Tessa had a hard life and remain aloof in the love department, though they have cherished friends.

 

The fire alarm went off at the police station, my heart began to beat faster.

 

A shot rings out…Oh, please, please, please, don’t let it be her.

 

The slow, agonizing suspense in this riveting, action packed thriller made ME want to go after HIM myself. I wanted to scream at Parker, HURRY, HURRY!!!!!

 

I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of A Secret to the Grave by Jane Blythe.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos 4  Stars

 

READ MORE HERE

 

MY REVIEWS FOR JANE BLYTHE’S BOOKS

 

 

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Source: www.fundinmental.com/thrills-abound-in-a-secret-to-the-grave-by-jane-blythe-jblytheauthor
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