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review 2017-04-04 21:03
Death Masks / Jim Butcher
Death Masks - Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden, Chicago's only practicing professional wizard, should be happy that business is pretty good for a change. But now he's getting more than he bargained for: 
A duel with the Red Court of Vampires' champion, who must kill Harry to end the war between vampires and wizards...  Professional hit men using Harry for target practice...  The missing Shroud of Turin...  A handless and headless corpse the Chicago police need identified...  Not to mention the return of Harry's ex-girlfriend Susan, who's still struggling with her semi-vampiric nature. And who seems to have a new man in her life.

Some days, it just doesn't pay to get out of bed. No matter how much you're charging.

 

In my opinion, the best book so far in the Harry Dresden series. It feels to me like Butcher has found his stride and as a result that Harry has found his centre. He’s thinking about the Whys of what he does, not just about what to do next.

Although the vampires get things rolling in this book, the Harry-Red Court conflict gets pushed to the side as he deals with bigger issues. This is what I was wanting when I read The Last Coin. Awesome use of Judas’ thirty pieces of silver!

One of the things I appreciate most about this series? There are fabulous women characters. I mean, Susan started out strong, went limp for a while, but returns in this book with power. Too bad that she can’t stay—she would provide a good balance to Harry. Then there’s Michael Carpenter’s wife, Charity, who runs an enormous household, rides herd on a passel of children, and still manages to make armour! Not to mention Karrin Murphy, Harry’s police department contact. She doesn’t get much screen time in this volume, but she’s still effective when called upon.

I also enjoyed getting some back story on John Marcone, the godfather of Chicago.

Okay, I think I am ready to board the Dresden bandwagon. Make room!

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review 2017-04-03 17:17
Web of Lies / Jennifer Estep
Web of Lies - Jennifer Estep

Curiosity is definitely going to get me dead one of these days. Probably real soon.

I'm Gin Blanco.

You might know me as the Spider, the most feared assassin in the South. I’m retired now, but trouble still has a way of finding me. Like the other day when two punks tried to rob my popular barbecue joint, the Pork Pit. Then there was the barrage of gunfire on the restaurant. Only, for once, those kill shots weren’t aimed at me. They were meant for Violet Fox. Ever since I agreed to help Violet and her grandfather protect their property from an evil coalmining tycoon, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m really retired. So is Detective Donovan Caine. The only honest cop in Ashland is having a real hard time reconciling his attraction to me with his Boy Scout mentality. And I can barely keep my hands off his sexy body. What can I say? I’m a Stone elemental with a little Ice magic thrown in, but my heart isn’t made of solid rock. Luckily, Gin Blanco always gets her man . . . dead or alive.

 

 

This isn’t happy-clappy urban fantasy.  Gin Blanco isn’t necessarily someone I’d want to drink blackberry ice tea with, but she makes for an interesting main character.  She’s a supposedly retired assassin, romantically fixated on an upstanding cop.  Staying retired isn’t easy, especially when Gin runs a restaurant on the wrong side of the tracks.

 

There’s good action in this series, although I wish Gin didn’t get so physically beat-up all the time.  Yes, her friend Jo-Jo can (and does) fix her up afterwards, but why even go through all that pain?  In some ways, Gin has female friends, like Jo-Jo and Sophia, the sisters that help her out regularly, but they aren’t really BFFs—she doesn’t know many intimate details of their lives and she keeps them in the dark about the nitty-gritty of her life too.  That role seems to be occupied by her foster-brother, Finn.

 

I’m hoping for a change in focus in book 3 from upstanding cop to a new guy who’s been introduced who seems much more suitable for Gin.  I’ve read the teaser at the end of this volume, which seems to indicate a whole lot more beating for Gin to endure, but I also have hope that the new guy’s sister might end up being a true friend to Gin.

 

Definitely going on to book 3!

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review 2017-03-31 15:52
Callahan's Lady / Spider Robinson
Callahan's Lady (Lady Sally's, #1) - Spider Robinson

A HOUSE OF "HEALTHY" REPUTE...Welcome to Lady Sally's, the House that "is" a home -- the internationally (hell, interplanetarily) notorious bordello. At Lady Sally's House, the customer doesn't necessarily come first: even the staff are genuinely enjoying themselves.

Wife of time traveling bartender Mike Callahan, and employer of some of the most unusual and talented performing artists ever to work in the field of hedonic interface, Her Ladyship has designed her House to be an "equal opportunity enjoyer," discreetly, tastefully and joyfully catering to all erotic tastes and fantasies, however unusual. Like her famous husband, Lady Sally doesn't even insist that her customers be "human."..as long as they have good manners.

 

2.5 very conflicted stars.

I just don’t know what to think about Spider Robinson’s books. But I keep persistently reading them as part of my science fiction & fantasy reading project. I say persistently, because they aren’t widely available and I find that I have to request them by interlibrary loan, a process which requires patience.

On the one hand, Robinson is an engaging writer. He writes characters who are interesting and situations that are worth exploring (despite all the god-awful puns).

One the other hand, he makes assumptions about life and especially about women that drive me crazy. Take this book for example—the main character, Maureen, who tells the tale is a prostitute. If you believe that prostitution is all about sex, you will love this book. If you believe that it’s all about power, this book will make you cranky. I’m a bit cranky.

I guess what I’m saying is that Maureen, the main character, pretty much felt like a man transplanted into a woman’s body. I couldn’t relate to her motivations at all, despite the fact that I think I’m fairly open minded about sexuality.

Mr. Robinson, I’m not sure if it’s you or if it’s me, but I find your books difficult to enjoy.

Book 252 of my Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading Project.

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text 2017-03-31 13:20
March 2017 (Books Read This Month)
A Crown of Wishes - Roshani Chokshi
What the Night Knows - Dean Koontz

Image result for march

 

So I definitely had some really good hits this month with a few duds. I read 52 books this month. Out of those 52, I DNF 2 books as well. 

 

My favorite book this month was a tough one, but I went with "A Crown of Wishes." My least favorite book this month was "What the Night Knows". 

 

5 stars

 

The Boy on the Bridge by M.R. CareyThe Sleeping Doll by Jeffery DeaverAll-New Wolverine (2015-) #1 by Tom TaylorThe Labors of Hercules by Agatha Christie

 

 

Stephen King's Dark Tower by Robin FurthVisions in Death by J.D. RobbSilence Fallen by Patricia BriggsSurvivor In Death by J.D. Robb

 

Memory in Death by J.D. RobbMs. Marvel, Vol. 6 by G. Willow WilsonDark Tower by Robin FurthDark Tower by Robin Furth

 

Dark Tower by Robin FurthThe Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValleMs. Marvel, Vol. 5 by G. Willow WilsonThe Burning Wire by Jeffery Deaver

 

Death in the Clouds by Agatha ChristieConversations With the Fat Girl by Liza PalmerThe Sandman, Vol. 1 by Neil GaimanA Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

 

4 stars

 

Murder is Easy by Agatha ChristieDark Tower by Robin FurthDark Tower by Robin FurthDark Tower by Robin Furth

 

 

The Sandman, Vol. 2 by Neil GaimanBridges by Maria MurnaneIf You Really Loved Me by Ann RuleYou Belong to Me and Other True Cases by Ann Rule

 

On Second Thought by Kristan HigginsDifficult Women by Roxane GayThe Sandman, Vol. 3 by Neil Gaiman

 

3 stars

 

Flying Too High by Kerry GreenwoodDark Tower by Robin FurthDark Tower by Robin FurthMs. Marvel, Vol. 4 by G. Willow Wilson

 

 

More Happy Than Not by Adam SilveraWe Are Okay by Nina LaCourThe Secret of Chimneys by Agatha ChristieSeason of Storms by Susanna Kearsley

 

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

 

2 stars

 

The Shivering Sands by Victoria HoltRoadside Crosses by Jeffery DeaverGood at Games by Jill MansellXO by Jeffery Deaver

 

1 star

 

Echoes in Death by J.D. RobbDivine Evil by Nora RobertsThe Horror at Red Hook by H.P. LovecraftThe Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro

 

What the Night Knows by Dean KoontzRoman Crazy by Alice Clayton

 

DNF

 

Black Coffee by Agatha ChristieThe Next Always by Nora Roberts

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review 2017-03-29 21:44
My Name is Lucy Barton / Elizabeth Strout
My Name Is Lucy Barton: A Novel - Elizabeth Strout

Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn't spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy's childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lies the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy's life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters.

 

Wow, this little book went by quickly! But it deals with deep issues, the stuff that nobody likes to talk about, especially if you’re directly involved. As Lucy and her mother are.

Despite what Lucy tells us about writing—that one should plunge right in and confront the main issues—that’s not how this book is structured. It’s all about reading between the lines, intuiting what’s going on, and piecing together the bits & pieces that Lucy deigns to throw to us, the readers. She tosses out tidbits of information, all from her own point of view and we have no other voices to give us some balance. Only what she reports that her mother or her siblings or her husband said.

A flighty and somewhat untrustworthy narrator, our Lucy, and yet I felt compelled to sift through the fragments to try to figure out exactly what happened in that family home to make her into the uncomfortable person that she currently is. Was it just poverty? Or what else was happening?

If you enjoyed this novel, you might also like The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. Both examine women’s attempts to escape impoverished backgrounds (and incidentally, I've read both for my real-life book club).

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