Friday, April 16, 2021

Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

Reviewed by Ambrea

 

Braden Mack is the mastermind behind the Bromance Book Club and, truthfully, he considers himself a bit of an expert on love – except he’s about to get a rude awakening when he meets Liv Papandreas.  Liv is a sous chef at the hottest restaurant in Nashville, until she discovers her celebrity chef boss is a predator.  Now, she’s been blacklisted and, despite her distaste for the man, Mack – and the Bromance Book Club – are the only ones up for helping her.

Like the previous novel, Undercover Bromance is an enjoyable romantic comedy.  I was so excited to meet the Bromance Book Club again and I enjoyed reading about all their antics.  It sets a faster pace than the previous novel – there’s an element of espionage and action-adventure that wasn’t in its predecessor – and it seems to ratchet up the enemies-to-lovers angst a little more, but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.

Mack was easily one of my favorites from the Bromance Book Club, so I was excited to read about him.  Liv, on the other hand…well, not so much.  She’s so bitter and snarky and, occasionally, just plain mean that it was really difficult to enjoy her as a character; however, I did appreciate that she had a chance to grow and develop as an individual.  It wasn’t all bad!

Even so, Undercover Bromance just couldn’t quite meet my expectations that the first novel set.  Personally, I think I prefer Mack as a character in other people’s stories versus the protagonist in his own.


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Nevermore: Year of Wonders, Purpose of Power, Laced, The Splendid and the Vile, China Dolls

 


The first book up was Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks which, as the title implies, is set in London in 1666 at the height of the Great Plague. When a plague-infected bolt of cloth carries the disease into her small town, Anna Frith and the other villagers must confront the horrors of both disease and superstition.  This historical fiction novel was inspired by the true story of the town of Eyam, which quarantined itself during the Plague of 1665.   Our reader found this to be a beautiful but realistic story about the bubonic plague, and it helped her understand what it must have been like living during those times.  She highly recommends it. 

 


Our next reviewer is reading The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart by Alicia Garza, who is one of the founders of Black Lives Matter.  This book is more about Garza’s upbringing, personal growth and approach to community organization rather than a history of the Black Lives Matter movement.  Garza talks about her childhood, and her years of community organization and her nearly twenty years of community organizing work, and talks about the hard lessons that she had to learn and unlearn on the way.  While our reader is only part way in to this memoir, she would recommend it.

 


Laced: A Regan Reilly Mystery by Carol Higgins Clark has Regan Reilly and her husband Jack going to Hennesey Castle on their honeymoon.  The lovely Irish setting even has its own ghost story, that of May Reilly, who made a beautiful lace tablecloth for the castle but was never paid for it before she died in 1822.  Legend has it that May has haunted the castle ever since.  Ne’er do wells steal the tablecloth and the chase is on.  Can Jack and Regan catch the thieves and return the tablecloth?  Our reader loved this breezy, fun romantic mystery written by the daughter of Mary Higgins Clark.

 


Turning back to non-fiction, the next book was The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson.  This bestselling biography takes an in-depth look at the war time life of Winston Churchill and his family members as they deal with the onslaught of Hitler’s bombing raids.  Our reader did not realize how brilliant Churchill was and how close World War II came to having a very different ending.  She highly recommends this book. 

 


China Dolls by Lisa See is a historical novel about three Chinese-American friends in California and their intertwined lives before and during World War II.  Our reader was particularly impressed by the level of research that the author did while writing this book, seeking out and interviewing multiple “China Dolls” – that is, performers who worked in Chinese themed nightclubs as dancers and entertainers—to make the book more authentic.  Our reader recommends this book.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Naked in Death by J.D. Robb



 

Once again, we are pleased to have Kevin Tipple provide us with a guest review.  Kevin's own award-winning blogspot features reviews, news, and author interviews with an emphasis on the mystery genre.  Check out Kevin's Corner!

 

Naked in Death: Eve Dallas Mysteries (Book 1) is the first novel in a police procedural series that is set in 2058 according to the author’s website thought it is not actually specified in the book itself. AI is everywhere, there are flying cars, and more. Firearms, as we know them, are banned and those that remain are considered antiques and primarily in the possession of the wealthy people who collect them. Despite a technology driven future, there are still murders and a need for a police force.

As the book opens, Detective Eve Dallas awakens in her New York City apartment just a few hours after she killed a man. The fact that she ended his life does not haunt her at all. The fact she was unable to save the young child does. An issue she will need to hide as she goes through testing today so that she can go back to duty. 

At least that was her plan before the Commander sent her to a homicide at Twenty-Seven West Broadway on the eighteenth floor. Testing, for now, is out the window, because she is needed on this case and it is a high priority. Not only is she to be the main detective on the case, she is only to report to the commander, and a tight lid is in place. Once on scene, she soon learns why all the secrecy and the restrictions. 

It isn't every day the granddaughter of a U.S. Senator moves to New York and becomes a licensed companion (prostitute). Sharon DeBlass was that granddaughter and she is now very much dead in her bed. She was not stabbed or cut by a laser. Instead, she is a victim of three very strategically placed gunshots. Those gunshots and the gun used are very much a message sent by the killer to law enforcement and the public.

 Her grandfather is Senator DeBlass of Virginia. He comes from old money and is a very vocal champion of extreme right-wing politics. Why she was murdered and who killed the 24-year-old woman are the most obvious questions for Lieutenant Dallas. Clearly, it was not a suicide. The fact that her wounds were inflicted by gunshot, in this case, a .38 made many years before the gun ban, could be a political statement of some sort. That fact as well as the fact that the killer reported the death himself by way of video call after posing the body means this is not the work of a random killer acting out of a rage moment. This was a deliberately planned and orchestrated event. Lieutenant Dallas and her partner for this case, Ryan Feeney, have a bad one on their hands.

It also will not be the last. 

What follows is a complicated police procedural with a bit of romance that often becomes graphic. The story itself is highly entertaining despite the author's frequent pov head hops between the characters. In some paragraphs, two or more head hops happen in the same paragraph with a couple of sentences. That tends to be disconcerting to the reader as is the author’s technique of constantly shifting between third person and first throughout the read. One does tend to get used to it, after a while, but it does provide a distraction in otherwise entertaining story. 

Naked in Death: Eve Dallas Mysteries (Book 1), overall, is a complicated and very entertaining police procedural. Graphic in terms of the murders in the book as well as intimate moments between characters, it is not for every reader. Having had the series recommended to me by Lesa Holstine in a comment on her Faithless In Death review, who also pointed out there are fifty more books, I have my reading work cut out for me. Challenge accepted.

 

The second book in the series, Glory In Death, is on the way in large print to my local library branch.

 

 Naked in Death: Eve Dallas Mysteries (Book 1)

J. D. Robb

https://jdrobb.com/1995/07/naked-in-death/

Putnam

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/300636/naked-in-death-by-j-d-robb/9780593197455

1995

ISBN# 0399151575

Hardback (also available in audio, eBook, and paperback formats)

294 Pages

My read was an eBook version provided by Barry Ergang from his personal library after he saw my comment on Lesa Holstine’s recent review as noted above.

 

 

 

Kevin R. Tipple ©2021

 

 
 
 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett

 


 

Reviewed by Jeanne

Thirteen year old Tiffany Aching is continuing her training to be a witch.  At the moment, she’s apprenticed to Miss Treason, a 113 year old witch whose house is festooned with cobwebs and skulls to impress the locals. She takes Tiffany out one cold night to watch the dancing, because she says it must be witnessed—and not to dance.  It’s very cold and very dark, and seems to get colder as they go into the woods.   Tiffany is a bit disappointed and mystified to find that it’s only Morris folk dancers, like those she’s seen traveling around the countryside when they can get past the public houses.  What is so important about Morris dancers?  Though to be fair, something does seem a bit different, a bit off…

Tiffany’s feet don’t think so, though, as her foot starts tapping and before she knows it she is dancing—and catching the attention of one of the most important dance participants.

The Wintersmith has never really noticed humans, but he finds himself infatuated with this girl who has dared to join the dance.  He wants her for his wife.  He woos her with snowflakes in her image, with ice roses, and blizzards that threaten to kill everything living.  Tiffany has never quite had a real boyfriend, so dealing with one of this magnitude is quite a challenge.  She will need all her wits and all her friends to save her world.

And the Wee Free Men are going to help, of course, not to mention a rogue cheese named Horace, an assortment of witches, and maybe even a boy in not so shining armor.

Pratchett continues to delight me with is sly, humorous, and insightful tales.  Tiffany Aching is one of my favorite parts of the Discworld series as it follows a young girl from age 9 as she learns her trade as a witch.  It’s less about magic and more about understanding people—or people-like creatures like the Wee Free Men aka the Feegles who are small blue pictsies with more courage than brains.  They fear no creature but the idea of math has them quaking in their boots.  I understand that.

As usual, Pratchett delivers laughs and lessons in a wonderfully concocted tale.  Do start with Wee Free Men, though, to get the full effect.  Meeting the Feegles for the first time is not to be missed.

The Tiffany Aching series in order:

Wee Free Men

A Hat Full of Sky

Wintersmith

I Shall Wear Midnight

The Shepherd’s Crown