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review 2018-12-12 00:51
Earth, Air, Fire, Water: Tales from the Eternal Archives #2
Earth, Air, Fire, Water (Tales from the Eternal Archives, #2) - Jane Lindskold,Linda P. Baker,Tanya Huff,Margaret Weis,Carrie Channell,Edward Carmien,Mark Garland,Nancy Varian Berberick,Robyn McGrew,Janet Pack,Jean-Francois Podevin,Bruce Holland Rogers,Nina Kiriki Hoffman,Donald J. Bingle,Kristine Kathryn Rusch,Lawren

The short story anthology Earth, Air, Fire, Water edited by Margaret Weis, the second and last collection of the Tales from the Eternal Archives, contains thirteen stories of varying quality loosely connected to one another through the titular mystical library.  But unlike the first collection all thirteen stories were all fantasy genre.

 

The best story of the collection was “Strange Creatures” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, which followed Chief Dan Retsler investigating the latest in a series of animal mutilations but suddenly finds out that the latest animal might be linked to mythical “selkies”.  The next two best stories were “How Golf Shaped Scotland” by Bruce Holland Rogers, a fun and good natured short story about how a game of golf created Scotland’s iconic coastline, and “An Elemental Conversation” by Donald J. Bingle, a conversation between a Reverend and his friend during their weekly chess game about how the news of non-human intelligent life affects religion with a twist ending.

 

The two worst stories of the collection were “Water Baby” by Michelle West, which followed the life of a young woman who is emotionally connected to the ocean and how it affects her and others, and “Sons of Thunder” by Edward Carmien, in which a djinn recounts his time as a follower of Jehua and how his brother and his tribe converted to the new faith leaving him alone.  These were the two “worst” examples of six stories that were not really good even though they had interesting concept, but just bad execution ruined them.  An interesting facet was the unevenness of the number of stories for each element covered in the book, with Air only have one while Earth had five and Water had four and Fire starting off the book with three.

 

The thirteen stories that make up Earth, Air, Fire, Water were a mixed bag of quality from the excellent to downright disappoint, just like every other anthology collection that has been published.  However I will be honest in how well I rated this book given how poorly it began and ended.

 

Individual Story Ratings

Burning Bright by Tanya Huff (2/5)

The Fire of the Found Heart by Linda P. Baker (2/5)

The Forge of Creation by Carrie Channell (2/5)

How Golf Shaped Scotland by Bruce Holland Rogers (4/5)

The Giant’s Love by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (3/5)

Family Secrets by Robyn McGrew (3.5/5)

Dvergertal by Nancy Vivian Berberick (2/5)

An Elemental Conversation by Donald J. Bingle (4/5)

Water Baby by Michelle West (1/5)

Only As Safe by Mark A. Garland and Lawrence Schimel (3/5)

Out of Hot Water by Jane Lindskold (3.5/5)

Strange Creatures by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (5/5)

Sons of Thunder by Edward Carmien (1/5)

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review 2018-11-20 14:27
Miami Days, Havana Nights
Miami Days, Havana Nights - Linda Benntt Pennell

Sam Ackerman is a 17 year old Jewish boy trying to help his family with money in New York, 1926. Sam finds out he can make an extra two dollars working for a gangster in a speakeasy. Usually Sam is only tasked with cleaning up, however when Sam witnesses a hit and is tasked with dumping the body, he is seen by the police. Sam is hurried out of New York and sent to a contact in Miami, Moshe Toblinsky, the mob's bookkeeper. Indebted to the mob and Moshe, Sam continues working for the mob, now running alcohol back to the mainland. Sam is housed with the Scheinberg family and can't help but take notice of their daughter, Rebecca. Sam wants out of the mob in order to marry Rebecca, but is too far in. It seems that he will always owe someone a favor.

Presently, Liz Reams is trying to fish out the next big discovery in American Crime. She is desperately trying to keep up to her early career success from her last discovery about Al Capone, but keeps coming up empty. Liz finally gets a break when she finds a news article with pictures, but she still needs to identify the man with the scar on his face and his connection to Moshe Toblisnsky. However, now she is indebted to the man who lined up all of her contacts.

I always love a good dual time story and Miami Days Havana Nights is no exception. The chapters alternated between Sam and Liz's points of views and each chapter always seemed to end on a small cliffhanger making me devour the next chapter so I could see what would happen next. Both Sam and Liz had equally compelling stories and I'm glad that their relationship was only historical figure and researcher, what tied their stories together was simply their sense of obligation to those who have helped them. Sam's story showed how kids were pulled into the mob and kept there. Sam never had any intention of joining, he just wanted extra money to support his family, because of his ideals and work ethic, he was the perfect person to fulfill mob tasks. From Sam's story, I also learned of the extent of the Jewish people within the mob. Moshe Toblinsky's character is loosely based on Meyer Lansky. LIz's story dives into the high pressure in the world of academia and research, especially as a female researcher looking into American Crime. I appreciated how Liz grew more aware of her actions and how she felt as she was digging deeper into Sam's life. Overall, a fast-paced dual-time story exploring Florida's Jewish mob connections.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

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review 2018-11-16 07:10
Thoughts: The Woman Left Behind
The Woman Left Behind - Linda Howard

The Woman Left Behind

by Linda Howard
Book 2 of GO-Team

 

 

Jina Modell works in Communications for a paramilitary organization, and she really likes it.  She likes the money, she likes the coolness factor—and it was very cool, even for Washington, DC.  She liked being able to kick terrorist butts without ever leaving the climate-controlled comfort of the control room.

But when Jina displays a really high aptitude for spatial awareness and action, she’s reassigned to work as an on-site drone operator in the field with one of the GO-teams, an elite paramilitary unit.  The only problem is she isn’t particularly athletic, to put it mildly, and in order to be fit for the field, she has to learn how to run and swim for miles, jump out of a plane, shoot a gun... or else be out of a job.

Team leader Levi, call sign Ace, doesn’t have much confidence in Jina--who he dubbed Babe as soon as he heard her raspy, sexy voice--making it through the rigors of training.  The last thing he needs is some tech geek holding them back from completing a dangerous, covert operation.  In the following months, however, no one is more surprised than he when Babe, who hates to sweat, begins to thrive in her new environment, displaying a grit and courage that wins her the admiration of her hardened, battle-worn teammates.  What’s even more surprising is that the usually very disciplined GO-team leader can’t stop thinking about kissing her smart, stubborn mouth…or the building chemistry and tension between them.

Meanwhile, a powerful Congresswoman is working behind the scenes to destroy the GO-teams, and a trap is set to ambush Levi’s squad in Syria.  While the rest of the operatives set off on their mission, Jina remains at the base to control the surveillance drone, when the base is suddenly attacked with explosives.  Thought dead by her comrades, Jina escapes to the desert where, brutally tested beyond measure, she has to figure out how to stay undetected by the enemy and make it to her crew in time before they’re exfiltrated out of the country.

But Levi never leaves a soldier behind, especially the brave woman he’s fallen for.  He’s bringing back the woman they left behind, dead or alive.



The truth is that this book probably doesn't deserve more than 3 Stars.  It isn't the best outlined, and would even come across as fairly boring to anyone looking for an action-packed story where our heroine gets left behind, and needs to fend for herself until her team comes back for her.  But the summary blurb is a little bit misleading, frankly, and the action-packed part of the book really doesn't take place until well into the last half of the book.

The Woman Left Behind had tons of potential to be a great book, but it fell short of that by maybe spending too much time on Jina's day-to-day training life with the GO-Team she's been re-assigned to work with.  This part of the book, in itself, is already a little unbelievable, and requires a very high willingness to suspend disbelief.

By narrative, Jina ends up spending six months on physical training and drone training.  In the book, there are times where you want to get on with the story.  On the other hand, I can't find myself just blowing off that first half of the book she spends challenging herself and pushing herself to physical limits she never knew she had.  And I honestly loved the camaraderie built between her and a team of macho super paramilitary men who didn't think she was going to make it in the first place.

Color me contradictory--those six months she spends getting to know her knew teammates was truly loads of fun.  I love a character driven story, and I love great character interaction, and this book certainly had that in spades.  To others, it might come off dragged out and too banal for a romantic suspense, or military romance thriller.  And once again, the entire ordeal requires a certain amount of suspension of disbelief anyway--because who in their right mind actually thinks its a great idea to take a bunch of chair-bound tech geeks and force them through high impact military precision training so that they can join these elite GO-Teams in dangerous operations?

I have a hard time believing that the higher ups couldn't have just transferred in some military personnel, already trained for battle, who also have great tech skills.

But moving along, because something about that entire training sequence sort of appealed to me anyway.

Yeah, I'm kind of wishy-washy in my opinions.

And speaking of the romance, for romance lovers, this book might also kind of fall to the wayside.

While we DO have a lovely couple to focus on, we unfortunately don't get to see much of the chemistry, or the romantic bond building between Jina and Levi.  And also, Levi sort of runs hot and cold, which helps him get categorized squarely on my asshole list.  I don't care that he also had some very good personality traits, he crossed a couple lines he shouldn't have crossed and that makes him an asshole.  The way that the romance was resolved made me a bit pissy.

On the other hand, I like how Jina's own self-revelation journey/conflict was concluded.  Somehow, it seems appropriate for her.

So without a whole lot of suspense and without a whole lot of romance, and without even a focal conflict, this book, instead, ends up becoming a sort of self-journey book for Jina, as an individual.  And it's a fairly thought-provoking journey that I thoroughly enjoyed.

And we'll just kindly side-step that strange, background villain subplot that lurked along the entire book, and took up precious book space every few chapters.

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/11/thoughts-woman-left-behind.html
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review 2018-11-14 16:06
Claws of Death
Claws of Death - Linda Reilly

Deanna Daltry grew up in Whisker Jog, New Hampshire, before she became a famous actress. Now that she's older she wants to return home and does so by buying the stone mansion off Cemetery Hill. She has also just adopted two kittens from the High Cliff Shelter for Cats. However not everyone is a fan of the fading star. After being the target of some nasty pranks, Deanna finds herself the prime suspect in a murder investigation when a body is found on her property. Lara is on the hunt for another killer, with the help of a certain blue-eyed ragdoll.

I love the cover. I love cats, I love all animals. I love that Lara and aunt Fran run a shelter, along with their new employee Kayla, that provides the care and love the cats deserve until they can find their perfect home. But these people have their quirks and after reading book three then book one these quirks got on my nerves - the crying!! These people, all of them in the book!, are always crying!! And the abbreviated words got on my nerves. And Lara's childishness when it came to her relationship.. "we had a great night last night but when he text me today he didn't put a smiley face, which can only mean he doesn't like me anymore and wants to break up" Ugh. Otherwise it's another good book in the Cat Lady Mysteries. The mystery itself is well done. I look forward to a break from the people, I'll miss the cats, but I'll keep my eyes open for book four.

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review 2018-11-14 16:05
Escape Claws
Escape Claws - Linda Reilly

Lara Caphart has returned to her hometown of Whisker Jog, New Hampshire, for the first time in sixteen years. Her estranged aunt Fran is having trouble looking after herself with two bad knees. Lara also gets to help out with her aunt's eleven cats. Lara loves her aunt and the cats, but what she doesn't love is someone trying to bully her aunt into selling her land. When Lara spots a ragdoll cat that she believes is the reincarnation of her childhood pet, Blue, she follows her to the edge of Fran's yard only to stumble upon the body of the town bully. Lara is determined to get herself and aunt Fran off the suspect list.. with the help of Blue, of course.

I read book three first and needed more. I inhaled this book. It's easy to get lost in. I love the cover. I have cats and would take in every cat that needed a home, in fact I would love to give every animal in the world a good home but now I'm getting off track.. it's refreshing to have people who want to help and love these little cuties and it just makes me so happy! I do find it annoying that these characters cry all the time and the abbreviated words kind of got on my nerves as well but even so, this book was still great. The mystery was clever and well done. And it was fun to learn how the High Cliff Shelter for Cats came to be. On to book two!

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