Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Jewish Grandma and a Coffeehouse

You think this the beginning of a joke. It is really the beginning of two book reviews.

Death Before Decaf (A Java Jive Mystery, #1)Death Before Decaf by Caroline Fardig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First things first, I received this in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley.

I really wanted to give this book a 4.5! In good "snobby reader" conscious I can't give a cozy mystery 5 stars. But it probably is one of the best modern mystery novels I have read. I could guess part of the solution, but I certainly did not have it all together. So I loved the surprise at the end. I loved the characters and that surprises me. I'm not one that normally falls in love with mystery novel characters. I enjoyed the humor. I didn't laugh out loud, but as I said earlier I'm a book snob. I was also surprised that I liked the love triangle as much as I did. I am definitely Team Ryder! But I fear that we are supposed to be Team Pete. I never pick the winning guy. I can't wait for the next installment. I want to know what happens next with Juliet and Java Jive.
Well written, interesting characters, a mystery that keeps you guessing, a bit of humor, and some romance to top it all off. I really loved this one.

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A Pain in the Tuchis (A Mrs. Kaplan Mystery #2)A Pain in the Tuchis by Mark Reutlinger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First things first. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley.

Having read and enjoyed Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death, I thought I would pick this one up. I am SOOO glad I did. I enjoyed this one more than the first one. Reading about Mrs. Kaplan and Ida again was so much fun. It feels like I get to visit with my very own Jewish grandmother. I get to learn a new language and hear about their adventures. Mr. Reutlinger does a great job of making the language a natural part of the story and keep us in the loop. The solution to this mystery was not a complete surprise. I had suspicions about who was the culprit, but I can't say that I had it all figured out. I did enjoy the solution of the previous book more than this one. However, I enjoyed Mrs. K and Ida more in this one than in the previous one. So just go buy both of them and enjoy some time at the Julius and Rebecca Cohen Home for Jewish Seniors!

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I really loved both of these and I look forward to reading the next installments of them. If you like mysteries without too much blood and guts and heartache, read these. They fit nicely into their genre, cozy mysteries.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Book Review: Things a Mother Discovers by Filipa Fonseca Silva

Things a Mother Discovers: (and no one talks about)Things a Mother Discovers: by Filipa Fonseca Silva
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First things first, I received a free copy of this book from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.

I think my favorite parts were the illustrations. Those were so gorgeous and I would buy this book for those alone. As to the actual writing, her honesty was refreshing. As a mother, I really enjoy hearing that I'm not alone in these things. The warning against those without a sense of humor is a good one. She doesn't hold back and I LOVED it. If you don't want that much brutal honesty, then I would pass on this one.

I didn't agree with all of her ideas and didn't connect with everything. There were some very European elements, which was enjoyable to read, but didn't connect with my mothering experience. There were some places where I disagreed with her thoughts, but that is bound to happen.

Overall, a fun read that let me know I'm not alone in this mothering job.

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Most of  my disagreements with her were based on several of my spiritual beliefs. Not so strongly as to anger me or even frustrate me. It did dampen my enjoyment of the book as a whole, but dislike two chapters isn't really a big deal in my book. And seriously the illustrations at the end of the chapters were beautiful and calming and just a really great addition. In this crazy sprint that is motherhood of young children, it is nice to have something to make you pause and take a deep breath.

If you are looking for a quick read to make you laugh and enjoy your kids a little more, this one is definitely worth $4.79.

If you are looking for good books and you are willing to review them, check out Story Cartel.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Two Sci-Fi Novellas

Relics: The Dawn: Relics Singularity Series Book 1Relics: The Dawn: Relics Singularity Series Book 1 by Nick Thacker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There is a lot of tech speak in this novel. I understood most of it, but there were moments that didn't make any sense. But since it is Science Fiction, I assumed it was made up. Most of those things were specific details. The general idea of those conversations was clear.

I don't particularly like series of books because I have a hard time caring for the long periods of time in between novels. And I was prepared to not like this one as I couldn't see how there could be a satisfying ending. I was wrong. There was a satisfying ending. So much so that I am even willing to wait on the next book in the series.

After all that negative, you might be wondering why I gave it 3 stars. Thacker creates great characters and a compelling plot. I genuinely like the main characters and I'm desperately hoping for the best for them. The plot seems simple, but really has many layers. Just when I start to understand one part another part comes up with questions.

So the plot and characters are worth 3 stars even if the details are sketchy and it is a series. Fascinating read that will make you think. It is worth the money.

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The Lucid - Season One: The BeginningThe Lucid - Season One: The Beginning by Nick Thacker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm so glad they didn't use the word zombies. They used the word suppressed. I like that idea much better. It seems more realistic and less gruesome. It fits this novel very well.
I also like Adam's heart. His love for his family is developed throughout the novel. It isn't just a throw away thought to show his humanity. It is his driving force. This makes him the obvious good guy. And the obvious bad guy has no family and seems to have no feelings for anyone else. He doesn't have much humanity left in him.
I like the clear cut good guy and bad guy. I like that the problem of humanity is brought down to a personal and familial level. These things set this novella apart from other "end of humanity, machines are taking over" novels I have read. I look forward to others in this series.

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I preferred The Lucid to Relics. However for just a few bucks a piece, they are both a good investment. If don't like science fiction, you may not like these. Relics is very computer tech heavy. The Lucid is more about chemicals in the tech department, but not too much in the first novella anyway. They are both great to get you thinking about what if. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Day The Angels Fell by Shawn Smucker: Book Review

The Day The Angels FellThe Day The Angels Fell by Shawn Smucker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this would be an easy review to write, but I am wrong. I normally don't think twice about the number of stars to give. I have changed my mind several times so far. This book seems to be evading my summation.

Sam and Abra are rather adorable. Shawn's writing is fabulous as usual. There is a note of magical realism about the book. The religious references are sufficient without being heavy handed.

The story is straightforward and yet I kept expecting it to go somewhere else.
Often when I see the main character going through a significant amount of pain and suffering, I have to take a break from the book. I was worried that this one would be that way, so I wasn't in a hurry to finish it. However that didn't happen. Maybe that is why I kept expecting it to go somewhere else.

I will say the very end was a bit of a surprise and I'm glad it went in that direction.

I have heard someone refer to it as a coming of age story. I can see that and they aren't my favorite type to read. However, the magic within it kept me reading.

Overall, I enjoyed the book even though it wasn't what I was expecting. I'm looking forward to the sequel.

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This one was so hard to write a review for. A few weeks after finishing it and I still can't really put my thoughts into sufficient words. There were a few things that I was hoping to have more explaination for, but they might be answered in the sequel or I might have missed something or it wasn't that big of a deal to begin with. The story is memorable. The characters are lovely. The pain isn't overwhelming.  And the magic is superb.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Gray Picture of Dorian by Nick Thacker: Book Review

The Gray Picture of Dorian: An Artificial Intelligence Techno Thriller Sci-Fi Short Story by Nick Thacker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This short piece of fiction is disturbing in all the ways that science fiction should be.  I could see what was coming before Dorian could and I wanted to warn him. Then there was another part of me that thought he deserves it.

The title immediately reminded me of Oscar Wilde's classic and as I read this modern Dorian reminded me of the classic as well. He is vain and concieted and totally fine with using the people around him. I don't want to give away the ending, but this modern Dorian find himself shut out of his own life. As much as I didn't like him, I didn't want that ending for him either. However he made his bed, so now he must lie in it.

This is definitely worth the $2.99 because of its entertainment value and its re-readability. I only take away half a star because it is a smidge depressing.

I recieved an advance copy for an honest review. The above is my honest review of the work of a fabulous author.

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I would really give it 4.5 stars.

I am normally skeptical of a modern take on a classic novel. This one is well done and there is no need for my hesitation. This one left me wondering about humanity and technology. It left me with a sadness for Dorian as well as a feeling that I just read a very well put together story.

You can get it here, which is an affiliate link.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Precious Jewels Trilogy by Kerstin Geir: A Book Review

It has been many years since I have fallen so in love with characters, since I felt their loss so keenly when the book was done. The one that comes to mind is Rilla of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery. I remember being heartbroken for days after I finished that book. This one didn't cause me so much heartache, but I did miss Gwenyth and Gideon for days after I finished the books. I considered starting them again!

For all of my love, I am not without compliant. I am not happy with the resolution. It was clever, but somehow unfulfilling. I could go on, but I don't want to give away the ending. I think one reason I was so unhappy with the ending is that it seemed unrealistic. Yes even in the setting of time traveling genes, it was unrealistic. One of the things I loved so much about this series was how realistic the characters actions are. The way they act, react, and think definitely seem characteristic of teens that have some anomoly about them and need to plan ahead. The ending seems less planned and had a longer lasting impact. I worry that they will regret their decision later. And I think that tells you just how obsessed I became with them.

Ruby Red (Precious Stone Trilogy, #1)Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh my goodness! I loved this book. There are several classic themes, girl who doesn't know how great she is discovering hidden powers and falling in love with someone she feels is far above her, secret societies keeping secrets. But there are some new ones, time travel and family members from the past trying to influence the future. Gwen is fabulous. Lesley is amazing. Gideon is wonderful. They are all as you would expect them to be based on their roles in the story, but their voices are so authentic and believable. I will be going to the library tomororw to get book #2; Can't wait!!

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Sapphire Blue (Precious Stone Trilogy, #2)Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book in 6 hours! I literally couldn't put it down. I normally don't like series books. I think generally there is too much introduction and not enough of the bad guy to want to keep reading.

This is not that book!

Ruby Red gives us an introduction to the characters and the problem with some meat on it. It isn't all introduction. Sapphire Blue gives us a few answers and a few more questions. There were multiple parts that made me react out loud to what was going on. There are funny parts. There are inspiring parts. And there are heart breaking parts. The count seems even more dangerous at the end of book 2 than he did at the end of book 1. I can't wait to see how this ends.

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Emerald Green (Precious Stone Trilogy, #3)Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A few points at the end were too convenient. I love that she didn't spell out each piece piece of the ending for us. She left us thinking at the end and putting some things together ourselves. The point of view, 1st person, stayed true throughout the whole series. I love that! It really adds another dimension to the story.
Fabulous series. I read the whole thing in less than a week. Books 2 and 3 I read in one sitting. Loved it!!

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The box set is available for less than $30 through Amazon, when they come back in stock. But I read the whole series through the library. I love it so much that I do plan on buying the trilogy.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Book Review: Journal 97 The Case Notes of E.R. Satz :The Right Side by Ben Kotyuk

Journal 97 The Case Notes Of E.R.Satz: The Right SideJournal 97 The Case Notes Of E.R.Satz: The Right Side by Ben Kotyuk
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I got a free copy of this book from Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.

The book reads like a myth or fairy tale. Third person point of view. Straight forward action. No hints of deeper motivations. The characters, Vladoff and Yuri, are likable and simple. There are hints dropped throughout the story of the ending, but somehow I still found it to be a surprise.

The narrator is E.R. Satz, a theoretical historian. And the book are notes from one of his journals. It is a clever frame story to present the heart of the story, how Vladoff and Yuri found a place to settle down.

There is much humor in the book. The town that runs on brussel sprouts, the smell they leave, and the knee water that plagues them. You laugh, but even as you laugh you are caring for the characters.

The only negative I have to mention was resolved by the end of the book. It seemed to be getting long and going nowhere in particular. When I got to the end and reread that it was a book of theoretical history, it all fell into place and I laughed at myself for not remembering that as I read.

It is not a deep novel, but it is humorous. It is an easy read and rather enjoyable. Not something I would normally gravitate toward, but I'm glad I did.

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Seeing the price of $2.99 on Amazon makes me like the book even more!!

Journal 97 The Case Notes Of E.R.Satz: The Right Side Kindle Edition

  • File Size: 3870 KB
  • Print Length: 101 pages
  • Publisher: Kelley Lee McDonald; 1 edition (January 29, 2015)
  • Publication Date: January 29, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English