Saturday, May 16, 2015

On a Personal Note

All of you that have followed me, I thank you. With my life the way it is right now, maybe the way it has always been, I am not going to be able to continue on with my book blog the way I had intended. I just haven't been able to carve out enough time to even read one book a week, which was my first goal when starting this. So at the end of the current year, 2015, I will no longer post reviews here.

For the commitments I have made, I will honor them and post reviews as I am able to.

Again, I thank all of you and wish you all happy reading.

Looking Glass Killer

This book was one that was pitched to me through an organization that helps self-published authors with exposure to their books. I thought that it sounded interesting and worked it into my long list of books I wanted to read. This is book II in a series, I believe.
The main problem that I had with this book is that in some areas it read like a college lecture in mathematics or statistics. Floyd Merrell is a retired professor and this definitely reflects that. I think that in many areas it had a great deal of promise, but outside of the long passages on mathematics, it lacked in a great deal of content in respect to character development and plot.
Within the book, the main character Detective Lucia and her partner are trying to find a killer who taunts Lucia and seems to have a pattern with where the victims are killed. The problem is that most of the book takes place at the police station. Lucia and her partner Mike do visit the crime scenes, but outside of that there isn't a whole lot of action. Most of the dialogue revolves around them theorizing about sociopathic tendencies. Early in the book, within the first 20 pages, Lucia is already calling the killer "brilliant" and I did not see how that was possible.
Perhaps if I had read the first book I would have had a better understanding of Lucia's character, but I didn't even know she was from Brazil until almost 70 pages in. Even now as I write this, I am not certain that I could tell anyone who asked me much about any of the characters in the book with any specific detail. I think that I would have liked a little more detail and character development.
Some of the other issues were the constant references to Lewis Carroll, a tremendous amount of cliché phrases, and a lack of connecting the killer with Lucia. I found myself skipping through passages due to all of the mathematical explanations. I really feel that if some of that was cut out, more character development had been put in, and a few close call scenes between Lucia and the killer were created for more drama or climax that this would have been an amazing book.
Overall, I think that this book was okay. My main piece of advice for any self-publishing author is to get a good copy editor to help you out with issues in terms of grammar and storyline. If Merrell had done that and gotten some non-academic beta readers, some the issue mentioned above may have been resolved before publishing. It was a really good idea, just poorly executed.
Rating: 1.5 out of 5
I was given a copy of the book by the author through Bostick Com.; I was not paid to do this review.

The Detroit Electric Scheme

This is another author that is going to be speaking at a writer's workshop I was thinking about going to this summer and he is an author from Michigan. I am always looking for authors to read from my home state and was naturally intrigued.
From the very beginning of the book I was hooked. I thought initially that I was not going to like the main character Will Anderson, but he grew on me as I progressed through the pages. DE Johnson definitely did an amazing job with character development as well as very diverse. It isn't easy to get a reader to connect with or even like a drunk, bitter main character accused of murder, but Johnson does it.
The historical aspect of the book was almost a character on its own. It was like I was back in the early 1900's Detroit on the verge of the electric automobile explosion. Sadly, I have never quite taken to Detroit and do not go there unless I have to, but this book made me see it in a different light. It would have been fascinating to see this town in its heyday and not the broken down city it is turning into. The description of the horse drawn carriages, night clubs, and train stations were spot on and I am going to look for further books by this author in the hopes to experience this unique view.
There is a little bit of romance in this book, but it is shrouded in darkness which I am okay with. I have never been one to enjoy a sweet romantic entanglement within the confines of a dark murder mystery and one of those would have been very out of place in this book. I think that Johnson's handling of this helped not only the story but helped with the main character as well. It humanized in a way that made him likeable where without it, Will probably would not have been.
Overall, I thought that this was a dark, wonderfully written historical fiction on the Detroit automobile race. If everything afore mentioned is intriguing to you, then you will definitely find this book entertaining and will probably want to read more from this author. If you are someone who does not like historical fiction or a rather dark piece, then you might want to skip this, but it would be a shame because of how great a story this is.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
I borrowed this book from my local library and was not asked to write a review of this book.

State of the Onion

I was contemplating going to a writer's workshop this summer and this author is one of the individuals giving a seminar. Since I have a guilty pleasure of reading mystery books that also contain recipes, I thought that I would love this book finding yet another series to read through. But, unfortunately, I just did not find this book as fun as I was hoping.
One of the things that really irritates me while reading is if the main character, male or female, is completely ditzy and irresponsible with their crime solving actions. The main character here, Ollie, has both of those traits. I was hoping that my love to cook, and eat, would be enough for me to have a connection with her, but I was not able to find her interesting enough. That lack of connection was one of the main problems I had while reading this book.
The book itself is a very quick read and I was able to get through it in a few nights. Julie Hyzy does a good job with plotlines and it seems to have enough twists and turns to get you through. In the end though, I found it a little lacking in reality. An assistant chef at the White House takes down an assassin and then thwarts off several other attacks on her life while trying to find out who the murderer is. Something tells me that the White House Security would never have allowed her to muddle in national security issues and at some point she would have ended up in jail. That is just my own assumption and perhaps that would have made an interesting plot point in this story.
Overall, it was a good read. Not sure it has peaked my interest enough to read the rest of the series, but it was a good read nonetheless.
If you need a little more action and intrigue in your mysteries, then I would probably skip this one. If however a straight up cozy murder mystery is your cup of tea, then put on the kettle and give this one a try.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
I borrowed this book from my local library and was not asked to do a review of this book.

Friday, March 27, 2015


Thieftaker (Thieftaker Chronicles, #1)
On my quest to read a different type of literature, in this case historical mixed with fantasy, I came across this book. A fantastical murder mystery set during the time of Samuel Adams in Boston 1765 and I enjoyed every page of it.
I thought that D. B. Jackson did a really nice job with this tale. It easily transported me to Colonial Boston and the characters were all familiar since some of them were actual people from the time. Because I am sucker for description, I was taken with the setting and could honestly see the taverns, poor parts of town, rick parts of town, the wharfs, and even feel the cobble streets. A great deal of research was done for this book and it never once came off like a history lesson from 8th grade Social Studies.
The main character Ethan Kaille was pretty well rounded. In fact many of the characters were well developed. My only complaint with Ethan is that he seemed much more older in the way that he emoted than he actually was. I think that he was supposed to be in his thirties, but he came off as much older to me. Maybe even in his late forties. I also thought that he had interesting morals for basically being a thug or thief, which might be one of the reasons I found myself liking him.
Overall, the story was well paced and had some nice twists and turns. I especially enjoyed the scene in the tavern with Samuel Adams. Although, I had to keep telling my thoughts not to turn to the comedy sketch done by Dave Chappelle did in regards to Samuel Jackson selling beer. But I digress...I do wish that there was a little more action throughout it and that the conjuring side of the plot had been built up a little more. Especially since that is one of the main pieces to finding the murderer in the story. Speaking in Latin and then letting the ghost guide Reg do the casting seemed rather dull. If those scenes had been a little more fleshed out and fantastical, I think it would added another layer of dimension to the storyline.
The only other thing that needed wither further developing or should have been limited were all the beatings Ethan received from his enemy/rival Sephira Price. There were too many of them and I got a little tired of them as the plot went on. If they were taken out completely, I don't think that the storyline would have been weaker one bit. The only reason to keep them in would be a foreshadowing for a possible sequel, but even then, she could just be introduced in the next book.
If you enjoy fantasy books with a great deal of Colonial American History, then this book might be for you. If you're not big on spell casting and don't really enjoy American History, then this book might not be for you.
Rating: 4 out of 5
I borrowed this book from my local library; I was not asked to review this book.

City of Dark Magic

City of Dark Magic (City of Dark Magic, #1)
*May have a few things that could be considered spoilers*
When I saw the summary for this book I was instantly intrigued. I LOVE Beethoven and this book was a mystery set in Prague around his music. However, what I thought the book was going to be about and what it actually was when I finally read it, were two completely different things.
Sadly, there were several things about the book that detracted from how amazing it could have been. The main character Sarah and her sexual escapades was the biggest one for me. There was too much sex in the book for me and unless it serves a purpose to the plot, then it doesn't belong in the story. In this case it did not amplify or make the plot better and could have been left out without causing any issues with the overall feel of the book.
The other issue was the writing itself. I think at times it was quite brilliant and I loved all the music imagery in it. However, on many other occasions it seemed to detract from the story being told and I began to skip through areas. Flyte's attention to dialogue was quite wonderful though and it was extremely realistic. That I did enjoy, since I am not skilled at writing good dialogue.
For me, the last big issue was with the overall plot of the story. I was hoping that there would be some sort of time travel and it is shown that the main character Sarah was actually the "Immortal Beloved" the Beethoven wrote the three letters to that were never mailed. Unfortunately, the book really wasn't about the music, but about the Golden Fleece? It went from a murder mystery with political conspiracy to suddenly an alchemy driven search by a secret order. That was a little too much for the writing to handle and it did not work in the final version. I think that it would have been wise to stick with the Beethoven angle and then set it up for a sequel book dealing more with the alchemy and golden fleece plot.
If you like sexually driven characters that carry a murder mystery based novel, then this book may be for you. However, if you are like me and like your mysteries to have a little more mystery and little less sex, then this book may not be for you.
Rating: 2 out of 5
I borrowed this from my local library; I was not asked to write a review of this book.


An English Ghost Story

An English Ghost Story
This book was on a local book club's reading list and it sounded pretty interesting, so I checked it out.
At first I was taken in by the language and style of how the book was written. There was something about it that was different from what I had been reading and it was refreshing. I think that Kim Newman brought some wonderful description writing and in fact, the setting of where the book takes place is as much of character, if not more so, than the actual people characters brought to life among the pages.
It is interesting to see how a family moving into a home could alter themselves and the ghosts that inhabit the place upon doing so. This family was truly dysfunctional and it set up a wonderful foundation for a traditional ghost story with a few new tricks. Add in some ancient paranormal power, like the Druids for instance, and you have an explosion of supernatural potential.
However, about a third of the way in when it starts to take on that paranormal/horror persona, it began to get a little out of control and the structure of the piece began to suffer. I wish that Newman would have really thought about pacing and about why parts of the book happened in the places that they did. The biggest problem I had was how the book actually ended. Without giving too much away, it was almost as if the whole book was a family therapy session of sorts and that is not really what I am looking for when reading a scary book.
There were a few parts in the book that made me say things out loud, which is why I am not completely upset with spending the time I did reading it. The moment when the mother put the son in the magical dresser was one of them. I think I might have even got a little misty eyed as I wondered what would become of the little boy.
If you are someone who needs their scary books to be so freaky that you can't read them at night without every light on in the house, (or apartment or dorm room or hotel), then this book isn't for you. If you don't mind reading a scary book only to find out that you were in therapy for a few hours, then this book might be for you. Overall, an interesting book that had a few wonderful, nail biting moments.
Rating: 3 out of 5
I borrowed this book from my local library; I was not asked to write a review of this book.