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review 2016-02-10 20:01
Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy
Urban Shaman - C. E. Murphy

 

Urban Shaman

by C.E. Murphy

Pages: 416

Date: June 1 2005

Publisher: Luna

Series: Walker Papers (1st in Series)

 

Review

Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0

Read: February 10 2016

 

This is the first book that I’ve read by this author. It’s a book that (1) hadn’t been on my radar; (2) even so, it was one of the books picked to be read by me in Feb/March (it was the part of the picking wherein the picker picked something not on my pick’em shelf).

 

Being, as it was, a book that hadn’t been on my radar, I did something I do not always do when picking books. I examined reviews. Some of those reviews kind of put me off, they did. And some of that description on GoodReads both intrigued me and vaguely put me off.

 

Two last thoughts; one directly related to the above – this is my second attempt to read this book. When I found out that this book had been ‘added to my list’ I examined it. Beat at it. Sampled it. Didn’t particularly wish to continue with it. And put it to the side. Then I came back to it and gobbled it down. Second thought – I had something of a reoccurring thought bouncing in my brain as I read this book – what the bloody hell is the sexual orientation of this character? I didn’t particularly care if she was straight, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, or what, but if I knew she was . . . something, then I’d look at other characters differently. Like, the first woman who means anything to this book that Joanne Walker (the main character) meets, Joanne kind of drools over how beautiful Marie actually turned out to be. Mouth parted, frozen in appreciation beautiful. Ah, I thought, did I stumble into a Lesbian Romance? Wait, now Joanne is dropping hints that if not for the fact that her first encounter with Morrison, she might have been all over him. Now she’s checking out every guy she meets and dropping a comment (mentally was it?) about how she doesn’t really like girls or women. Oookay.

 

Leap, as we will, to the Romance section of this review to find . . . . as far as I can tell, Joanne is asexual.

 

Characters

This book is one in which only one character is followed. Somewhat refreshing, in its way. Been a while since I only really had to care about one specific character.

 

Joanne Walker - is a youngish woman of Cherokee and Irish ancestors (father is Cherokee; mother is Irish). For whatever reason she spent most of her childhood bouncing around basically every three months while living with her father. Until she got to high school years. Because of this, and other reasons, Joanne Walker knows almost nothing about being a descendent of the Cherokee people.

 

Joanne is a college graduate, with an English degree, but knew, even before going to college, that she would work as a mechanic. Somehow or another falls into having a job with a police department as their mechanic. Joanne’s first boss (or at least the one before Morrison) had Joanne go to the Police Academy, so Joanne is technically a police officer.

 

Joanne is super rational and logical. Right up to the point she spots a woman being chased by dog like creatures, while Joanne herself is up in the sky in a plane.

 

One last thing of note – Joanne Walker name, officially, is not actually Joanne Walker. But Joanne Walkingstick. It would have been Siobhan (she-vaun) Walkingstick, but her father didn’t accept the name Siobhan. So, Joanne is both Joanne Walker and Siobhan Walkingstick (I’m not actually sure why her ‘other name’ is Siobhan Walkingstick if Siobhan, as a name, got rejected; I might have gotten confused there).

 

Mystery

Two, in a way, to follow. (1) Someone is killing people. Joanne investigates. (2) Joanne is a really rational logical person. She learns that there is this fantastical world out there and now must attempt to unravel the mystery of this fantastical world.

 

Both mysteries are interrelated, fun to follow, and well constructed. Mostly. There was a point wherein I got kind of overwhelmed with ‘otherness’. Briefly.

 

Romance

Joanne drools, as noted, when she spots Marie – the woman she had spotted from a plane and chased down to save. There’s some kind of sexual tension going on between Morrison (Joanne’s boss) and Joanne. On several occasions Joanne almost kisses certain people. While dead tired and in something of a dream land, Joanne kisses or is kissed by a Celtic god.

 

Her ‘soul mate’, ‘lover’, ‘best fuck buddy’, and/or the like is not found and drooled over in this book. This is by no means a romance novel that happens to have fantasy; nor is it a fantasy that has much in the way of romance.

 

Maybe needless to say, there is no sex – graphic or otherwise, in this book.

 

Mercedes ‘Mercy’ Thompson vs. Joanne ‘Siobhan Walkingstick’ Walker

Just something of a quick note here – two women who are main characters in Urban Fantasy series.

 

Auto Mechanic – Mercy & Joanne

Half-native American – Mercy & Joanne

Raised by someone other than mother – Mercy & Joanne

Shifter – Mercy (werecoyote). Joanne does, in fact, shift in the book – from human to coyote to raven – but only when entering and exiting her ‘dream guardian’

Coyote – Mercy’s father. Joanne’s spirit guide.

Celtic Folklore – Joanne. I don’t specifically recall anything involving Celtic folklore with Mercy.

Werewolves – Mercy. I do not specifically recall anyone being a werewolf in Joanne’s first book.

Vampires – Mercy. No one appears to be a vampire in Joanne’s first book (though mention of Vampires occurred).

Etc. etc.

 

The point of this section is relatively simple. While reading I noticed certain tidbits about Joanne. These tidbits reminded me of Mercy Thompson. Therefore I felt the need to examine some of the similarities and differences, though more as a list than as a detailed analysis.

 

One last point – despite the covers on the books (at least the cover of the first Joanne Walker book), the two women do not actually have a vaguely similar appearance. Mercy looks Hispanic or of native American origin. Joanne, for the most part, looks black Irish (pale with black hair) – the ‘for the most part’ involves how she does in fact look like she’s of native American origin in black & white pictures (this isn’t some magical thing – it’s just that her facial bone structure is similar to that of native American facial features, which is somewhat hidden when people look and see a pale white woman, and somewhat revealed when people see B&W photos).

 

Overall

Unexpectedly, I found this book to be rather humorous. I don’t specifically recall, now, what or why I found myself laughing, but do recall that I did keep finding myself laughing at the antics going on.

 

Humor - my status updates reminded me of one - during the book certain events occur that involve Native American folklore. At one point Joanne noted, in reaction to what she saw around her:

“This isn’t even the kind of Indian I am,” I protested. (19% mark?) - I found that vaguely humorous at the time I read it.

 

Right, so, loved the book. Refreshing to read a book wherein people aren’t pairing off to hump each other; and or find lifelong meaningful fuck buddies. And there’s a bunch of humorous stuff that occurs.

 

February 11 2016

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review 2016-01-19 18:26
Love on Tap by Karis Walsh
Love on Tap - Karis Walsh

 *I received this book from NetGalley in return for a fair review.*

 

Love on Tap by Karis Walsh

Pages: 240
Date: 2016
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Series: N/A

 

Review Rating: 4.45 out of 5.0

Read: January 18 to January 19 2016

 

My fourth book by this author. Fair warning, but I appear to be an outlier with this book. What with how I ended up, rating wise, at least, compared to everyone else who has read this book.

 

Characters
The book stars Tace Lomond (Stacy Lombard, her sister couldn’t make the s sound, so she became Tace), and Berit Katsaros. Tace is a clerk at a department store, and the supporter of her siblings. Berit is a field archaeologist. Both had mothers with gambling addictions. Both had overworked fathers. I’m not sure what Tace’s father actually did (or when he left the picture, if he did, I’m vaguely confused about that part), but both appear to be of relatively working class stock.

 

Tace and Berit had three major differences, though, that helped move them from their few similarities to help them onto diverging paths that lead to where they were in life when the book opens. Bluntly: siblings, work, supporters.

 

Tace had younger siblings that she had to help raise, and had to try to fit school work around paying work starting around the age of 13. Berit did not have to fit school work around paying work.

 

Tace basically had to grow up fast, and be semi-parent, semi-sister to her siblings, because her mother was gone and the father needed the help. Berit didn’t exactly have a great childhood, what with cowering in casinos waiting for her mother, but she didn’t have to try to help raise siblings.

 

Tace had no one to try to be there for her, to look up to, to say that she mattered. Berit had a grandfather who inspired her and helped her come to the realization of what she wanted to do with her life – become an archeologist.

 

It wasn’t all sunshine and happiness for Berit, of course. Other than her grandfather, her childhood was apparently crap. One major trait that made it to her current personality, though, is directly tied to the death of that grandfather. She can never believe in contentment, that it would last. Since her own grandfather died while she was feeling content with life, and before she had graduated high school. So she needs to constantly move around, moving from dig to dig, not putting down roots, because she can’t allow herself to do so.

 

I’m not sure it was ever sunshine and happiness for Tace. The mother walked out on the family when Tace was, I think, somewhere between 7 and 13. Ah, I think she was nine. I’ve same vague recollection that Tace is 7 years older than her younger brother, Kyle, and that he was 2 when the mother left. Making Tace 9. So Tace had to grow up fast, and take over some level of mother-figure for her siblings. Her childhood was cut short and her teenage years were not at all like the others around her. She worked and never gave a thought to college. All of which lead to her with a personality, when the book opens, of being quite down on herself – she’s doing what she needs to do to continue supporting her sister in college, and helping her brother who might be going the ‘drifting through life’ path of their mother. The down on herself part has to do with how she can’t allow herself to feel happiness, or attempt to go for her own goals. Plus, she’s quite intimidated by anyone with an ounce of education, or just anyone who happens to be a student at college. This developed both from her own family circumstances, and from growing up as a townie in a college town. And the almost constant harassment that came from being that.

 

Plot
The book opens with Tace living and working in her small college town, while Berit is off on a dig in Peru. We, the readers, see their story through their own eyes. As in, in other words, both are main points of view. Tace’s section opens with Tace working, and receiving word from her brother that he needs to see her at a specific location.

 

She goes. Finds an overgrown dumpy looking place. Finds Kyle, the brother, near a building that looks, at least the external parts, to not be in great shape. She wonders what mess she has to bail her brother out this time. Well, it turns out; Kyle won a brewery in a poker contest. Poker game. He entered because he needed money for gambling debts, but found that everyone else in the game was in somewhat similar circumstances. So, they had to gamble for things like deeds to breweries. Tace, reluctantly, agrees to give the monetary value of the place to her brother so he can use the money to pay off his debts. Meanwhile Tace will immediately contact a real estate agent and sell the place.

 

The agent sees no value in a failing beer brewery and suggests tearing everything down and selling the land. For much less than Tace gave her brother. Her only real option seems to be to build the business up so that she can get some money back out. So she goes about attempting to do so. Helps that there’s this ninja like guy on the property who introduces himself as the brewmaster, or something like that, and is, in fact, quite good at his job. Since the beer actually tastes great. All but the porter, at least.

 

Berit’s section opens with her in Peru. On a dig. I believe I mentioned that at some point. A new intern has arrived and she is showing him around. While examining some bones she realizes why this specific body had been buried in a different position than the others, she had died in childbirth. Realizing that the interns were in the area the woman was found and might mess up finding the baby skeleton, she, a male colleague, and the intern run. Suddenly the male colleague falls from crumbling ground and Berit lunges for him. Gets, then loses his hand, then follows him over.

 

Cut to – Berit is riding in a taxi through a small town. She’s annoyed, frustrated, and in pain. She’s going to spend a year teaching at a college, mostly to pass the time, and because she thinks it will be easy. Though she’s never attempted to teach in a classroom before. Just out on digs to small groups of interns. Taxi cab stops at a house. Berit stares at the front porch. And the stairs leading up to it. She hadn’t actually informed her landlady that she was in a wheelchair. Mostly because she doesn’t want to be in a wheelchair and really hoped she wouldn’t be by the time she arrived at the house.

 

Tace stares at the woman in the wheelchair, her new tenant. She needs the money from renting out her rooms. Which are up a steep staircase. A ramp can be put in for the front porch, but nothing will fix the internal stairs. So, obviously . . . she gives the wheelchair bound woman her own first floor bedroom and den to the professor, and moves up to the attic.

 

Berit attempts to figure out how to actually teach. Tace tries to figure out how to run a brewery. A friendship and connection develops immediately between the two.

 

Romance
Lots and lots of months pass, though, before anything like a romance begins. Depending on various definitions of romance. The touching and stuff, doesn’t begin for months and months, at least.

 

Despite their own hang-ups – Tace literally flees if she learns someone has an education (there is a scene in a bar where she’s having a grand old time with a woman, learns that that woman is a professor, and immediately, flees the building); while Berit fears being tied down. I don’t mean in a bondage type way, I mean in a – tied to one location/one woman way. I lost this paragraph. Let’s try again. Despite their hang-ups, the two women actually do seem to work well together. Relatively naturally. I mean, if they had meet and then immediately leapt into bed together, then got on really well, then I’d say that things weren’t meshing – stated personalities and actions; but that isn’t what happened.

 

Scenery/location
I had a good sense of the ‘outside town’ areas of Walla Walla Washington. The wheat fields, the wineries – all of which look the same – like they were lifted from Tuscany; and the brewery. I had a vague awareness of the layout of Tace’s house, and a vague feeling of the college, but no real handle on the store Tace worked in. Nor was my feeling for anything else inside the town that strong. Or, for that matter, exist at all, really. Beyond the vague sense that there was a college somewhere in there, a house, a department store . . . somewhere, and a bar.

 

Overall
Overall, I’m quite happy to have had the opportunity to read this book. I got a good solid sense of a struggling brewery, a quick look into the life of an archaeologist. Brief though that might have been – I mean the dig scenes. And something of a look at the life of a new professor.

 

An enjoyable experience. I have no idea why everyone else who has read this book on GoodReads seems to have hated the book (as of the time of writing this review - I had not actually read what they had written so that my own thoughts could be expressed un-disturbed). I was actually kind of reluctant to dive in because of what I had seen on here, ratings-wise. But I’ve read the author before, and the book looked interesting, so I dove in.

 

Oh, and for those who care about such things – yes there is sex scenes. Graphic sex scenes. Two or three.

 

I’d rate the book a good solid 4.45 out of 5.00 stars.

 

January 19 2016

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review 2015-06-18 23:25
The Woods by Ronald Lee Geigle
The Woods - Ronald Lee Geigle

The Woods

by Ronald Lee Geigle

Paperback, 432 pages

Published March 8th 2014 by Polidais LLC (first published December 5th 2013

 

The Woods seemed a little slow and wordy when I first started to read it, but that didn't last long. I started to like the characters, despite their flaws, and enjoyed the descriptions of the town and region. I could tell a lot of time went into researching the logging business, unions, the region, and the time frame of the story. The length of the book logs in more than 400 pages so it did take some time to read. Geigle includes a bibliography at the end of the novel. He also grew up in this region which I believe helped him put a face to his characters and the region.

 

****This book was received from the author, Ronald Geigle, in exchange for a fair review.****

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review 2014-04-07 02:07
Book Review: Finding Home by Tammy L. Grace
Finding Home: A Hometown Harbor Novel (Volume 1) - Tammy L Grace

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

In Tammy L. Grace's debut novel called Finding Home, we are introduced to Sam Cooper who has recently divorced from her husband Marty after 25 years of marriage due to his unfaithfulness. Sam decides she needs a fresh start away from the home in Seattle where they resided.  Along with her dog Zoe, she relocates to a community called Friday Harbor on San Juan Island where she owns a vacation home. She purchases a coffee shop/book store and hires Jeff, the local handyman, to update the shop. They quickly become friends and Jeff introduces Sam to many of the locals on the island.

 

There are many charming characters throughout the book, young and old. You can't help but want to get to know everyone in this small, quaint town a bit more! It is a very sweet and inspiring read.  In the future, I hope to see a series of books focusing on the different shops, their owners, updates on characters in previous books and some of Sam's mouth-watering pie recipes! I hope that is what Ms. Grace has planned for her readers!

 

I would be remiss if I did not mention that this book reminds me of Debbie Macomber's 'Cedar Cove' series, which I loved!!!! If you're also a fan of that series I would suggest you read Finding Home by Tammy L. Grace.

Visit Tammy's website

Tammy on Facebook

Tammy on Twitter

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review 2014-03-17 13:24
Evening Stars by Susan Mallery
Evening Stars - Susan Mallery
 

Evening Stars (Blackberry Island, #3)Evening Stars by Susan Mallery My rating: 3 of 5 stars This is the third book in the Blackberry Island trilogy. The story focuses on Nina Wentworth, who was also in book two. Nina works for Andi's pediatric office as her nurse. The book focuses on how Nina has always been a caretaker for her family. Nina's mother is flighty to say the least, so Nina's always taken on responsibilities for their family. She helps keep their family antique shop, Blackberry Preserves, afloat even though the shop barely makes any money. Nina's sister Averil is having trouble moving forward in her life. Averil and her husband cannot agree on starting a family and Averil has been saying she is going to begin writing a book, but has stalled on it. Her husband Kevin just wants their life to move forward and Averil isn't sure what she wants. Her solution is to take a break from her life and go back home to Blackberry Island to think things through. Her husband isn't overjoyed by her solution, but is patient with her. Nina hires a new part-time employee for the antique shop after the employee her mother hired steals from them. Cindy, the new hire, turns out to be a great addition to the shop and helps them become more profitable. Through most of the book Nina and Averil's mother Bonnie, is off on a road trip with her life partner Bertie, looking for merchandise for the shop. Nina deals with the return of her former high school boyfriend Dylan returning to the island. She also is the attraction of a younger man named Kyle whom she babysat his sister when she was younger and he reveals he always had a crush on her. In her eyes she views Kyle as a fun fling and Dylan as a friend to lean on during stressful times with her family. Although this wasn't a terrible book, it definitely wasn't my favorite in this series. I did not like how Nina's character was made out to be so responsible for everything in her mother and sister's lives. The fact that Bonnie's life partner Bertie did not step up and make Bonnie take more responsibility in her life angered me. It was also upsetting that Nina felt she had to be the one to be in charge of so much in her family at such a young age. As for Averil, her character just seemed selfish and lost to me. In a lot of ways Averil was more like her mother and Nina was the total opposite. My favorite parts of the book were Nina juggling her relationships between Kyle and Dylan. I felt the writing towards the end of the book was more intriguing than the writing throughout the story as a whole.

Source: allaroundthecircle.blogspot.com/2014/03/book-review-evening-stars-by-susan.html
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