Perfect Gravity by Vivien Jackson

Publish date Nov. 7, 2017
Paperback $7.99, e-book 3.03

In a world made up of electronically enhanced humans, cyborgs who look and act human, and a populace of people who live in fear of their government, one hopes that a group such as Vivien Jackson created will exist.

Perfect Gravity is the second novel of the triad series “Tether” with our main characters being Senator Angela Neko and Kellen Hockly whom readers first met in the prior book, Wanted and Wired.  Senator Neko plays hardball with dignataries, cool disdain against her husband Daniel, toys with the public’s emotions to win campaigns, and generally isn’t a very nice person if you were to get to know her. Yet, far from being Cruella, Jackson writes some of the best traits for this heroine whom I couldn’t end up liking by the end. Now, to be fair, some of this thinking was due to her previous introduction in book one. Yet, in Perfect Gravity it takes one man, and one cat, whom Angela had never forgotten, for me to see her redeeming side.

Kellen, also introduced in the prior book, is your all-round soft-hearted, loveable character. He’s the cute puppy who is not afraid to bite those who threaten him, yet knows which people are good and who is not to be trusted. Along with Kellen is an adorable, fluffy kitty named Yoink, who in my opinion steals the book away from Angela and Kellen. I could go on and on about Yoink, but I know there’s only so many cat lovers out there who would understand “Yoink blurred into the room, a comet of wild fur, screeching. She hooked her claws on Kellen’s jeans leg and literally climbed him.”, ““Lucky cat says sum of luck is proportional to number of belly rubs sustained,” Yoink communicated.”, and one last one ““My human. I want you to pet me. I also want to bite you.”

To be honest, it took a while to get entranced in this book due to all the back story back flashes. I have it on the DL Author Jackson was a bit concerned about this aspect, but ‘The Powers That Be’ asked her to keep it in. For me, this slowed down the first portion of the book, but then some people love to know all. I personally felt it would have been better to cut some of it out and spread it out a bit more. Once the background was fully fleshed out, the story took off at warp speed on a wild ride of espionage, intrigue, and war– which I was hooked on with super-glue and wouldn’t let go until the wee hours of the morning.

Overall, I loved this book! The symbiosis of the triad-characters along with the updates of formerly introduced characters made for a well-balanced, entertaining, movie-for-the-mind type novel.  Get your copy today and enjoy the ride Jackson is know for.

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Best-Laid Plants, by Mary Wingate

Publish Date October 17,2017
Price: $4.99 e-book

What better to read in October but a cozy mystery! This series, A Potting Shed Mystery, is one of my fav’s due to it takes place in the UK, the heroine is in her 50’s [like me], and the books are rich with places, facts and an actual storyline to wrap yourself up in.

For those of you who have not read this series, Pru Parke is a historical gardener from the states who now lives in England with her law enforcement husband, DCI Christopher Pearce. In this newest edition we start out in the same pub where in the first book, The Garden Plot, they didn’t quite hit it off, yet now reminisce on their happy marriage. This is something I enjoy about these cozy mysteries– getting wrapped up with the characters as if they are my friends and I get to hear all about the adventures they have. In this case, the reader gets to re-live some of this couples’ ‘firsts’ as if one is looking back on their own courting with their spouse. Wingate does a wonderful job hooking the readers in to Pru and Christopher’s relationship and the rich British history. If you’re a plant person, you’ll find yourself wishing you could visit some of the lush gardens in the series; and as I’m in Texas, some of the cooler weather!

This time around Best-Laid Plants revolves around a small village with a historical manse with an immense garden. While the owner and villagers are quirky, they’re likable and intricate to the story. Also, I’m happy to say that DCI Pearse is more like the self-confident police officer I like, as there were a few books I wondered what happened to his personality. Pru has grown in her sleuthing prowess; while she started out a bit over the top, she’s now grown to a proper copper’s wife who thinks things through vs rushing in without thought while still keeping with her original likable persona.

Overall, I recommend getting a pint, some crisps or chips, your favorite plush chair or recliner, and settle in for friendly evening with two of my favorite characters.

A Conspiracy In Belgravia, Sherry Thomas

Publish date September 5, 2017
Book $15, Paperback $9.97, e-book 9.99 [Pricing via Amazon]

In book two, A Conspiracy In Belgravia, we find Charlotte, Mrs. Watson, and Inspector Treadles living a normal daily life in their respective fields–which of course is not what Charlotte Homes needs. And as boredom set in, so opens up a can of worms, or in this case mysteries, bafflement, and murder.

I have to say I was looking forward to this installment in the Lady Sherlock Series based on the previous, and first, book. To say this latest installment did not disappoint is an understatement; the more I read, the more I couldn’t put this book down as the web of intrigue underlying in this book is vast. Just when I thought I’d figured a train of thought out, Ms. Thomas throws another red herring into the mix, taxing my poor little brain and forcing into overdrive wanting to figure out what is really going on, which of course made it very difficult to put this book down.

The reader is introduced to Lord Bancroft who wishes to pursue Charlotte with matrimony in mind, Lord Ingram assists behind the scenes with Charlotte’s investigation, and Mrs. Watson becomes more intriguing in her study of Charlotte and her desire to continue to assist Charlotte with her detective cases. There’s even a nice surprise waiting at the end for readers, while at the same time drawing out that edge of desire wanting the next book now. This book is nicely tied up at the end, no a cliff-hanger, just a wanting desire maker to see what the next chapter in Charlotte’s life will be.

For those who did not read the first book and want to just start with this one, is no issue, as it’s great as a stand alone if you for some reason want to skip the first book; in saying this, if you have not read the first book, you may find yourself seeking it out anyway. So while you’re waiting a few short weeks for the publish date, go pick yourself up a copy and see how this all started.

Say Yes to the Scot A Highland Wedding Box Set

Publish Date June 20,2017
Price $3.99 e-book only

With this summer’s heat index rising, I was looking for a way to cool off via a mental trip to Scotland. What I got with this compilation of bridal stories was in stead a heatwave of sweet romance.

Typically I forego compilations due to past experience where the author tries to place a 100K word novel in a 50K space, thereby missing the story– what I consider the main reason for picking up a book. Instead I found four authors to whom can write a romance in the allotted space, keeping the story and romance going from start to finish in a cohesive plot.

If you’re looking for new authors and don’t want to invest 300 pages of unknown writing style and story direction, this is a great way to do so. If you just want a little something to get you through the summer while waiting on your favorite author’s book to release, this is also a great resource for not a lot of expense of time or budget.

Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine

Publish Date July 11, 2017
Price: $17.99 Hardcover, Kindle $10.99

I’ve been a follower of The Great Library series since the first book, Ink and Bone came out in 2016; this latest installment sent my emotions, yet again, on a thrill ride of ups and downs, my heart breaking for characters and leaping with joy for them too.

Let me start with what I feel is the premise for this book, “You, of all people, understand the power of a symbol.” This one simple line not only sums up the basics of what the reader will be experiencing, but also sets the tone–dark, devious, and misleading. Take a look at the cover, its red and ash grey, stone is melting from the heat, the foundations of the building is cracked and crumbling; there’s no lightness about this cover because in this edition the characters are hard-pressed to find hope in their current situation.

The story starts out where we were last dropped, literally, in the prior book, Paper and Fire, inky blackness, flesh feeling like it’s being ripped apart, and confusion. From this point on, don’t expect a break as Caine will keep the reader from food, water, relaxation and rest, just like her characters. She’s keeps a fast pace, luring readers for ‘just one more chapter’ which will see your favorite character be either hurt, betrayed, beaten or blown-up. It’s not to say there’s not any hopeful moments, it’s just that the circumstances are so bad that if you, or the characters, miss seeing that one, faint, firefly moment of light in the dark, which comes so rarely, you’ll miss it, so don’t blink.

I started wondering while reading this book if I would have had the courage this cast of characters have: the necessity to continue to keep fighting for what’s right; the strength to overcome seemingly impossible odds; to trust where in other circumstances I wouldn’t. My parents lived through WWII, Vietnam, and many other wars. They were raised during WWI and the midst of the depression. It was their backbone that brings me the inner courage to keep going on days that I may instead say “I’ll just pass on today and see what tomorrow brings.” This latest edition brings to mind that what we [society today] think are impossible odds is in reality, just an illusion, a falsehood, brought on by media, the internet and society.  I’d like to quote more more line: “The Archivist is right, you know. We are dangerous.” “We’d damn well better be,” Jess said. “Or we’re all dead.””

Reading the last paragraph– the last line– I felt elated and betrayed simultaneously by Rachael Caine; betrayed as once again I was left with my nails clinging to the page like a free climber without a net; elated that YES! [fist bump into the air], the story is not over (I had thought this was a 3 book deal.)

 

 

Single Malt Murder, by Melinda Mullet


Pub Date 21 Mar 2017
Price $4.99 e-book

I came across this book a little while back and two things grabbed my attention- single malt whisky and Scotland, two things in my top 5 favorite things list. Yes, I love the smoky-peaty single malts the best, but most people like the smooth, sweeter varieties. With this said, I wanted to read a mystery too, so this seemed like a match made in malt.

Melinda Mullet is new to the novel writing business and according to her bio had been an practicing attorney prior to her new career.  With this said, the mystery of who done ‘it’ is a bit more intricately woven than some other mysteries in what I call the lower to mid-range mysteries (meaning this is not on a high school or college level reading level.)

If you’re not a whisky drinker, it’s okay, neither was Abigail Logan, our lead character. Mullet uses this lack on knowledge to educate her readers on the whisky process, type of whiskey and some history too; not so much so that you’re bored, but enough to make you think that that bottle of booze in your cabinet took a lot more than the bottle of beer you may have laying about.

As for the mystery itself, Mullet does a superb job of misdirection, using Abigail’s thought process to bring you to a possible murderer only to have her and you, the reader, think about your suspects again. While, if you’re a savvy reader, about half way you’ll start coming across clues as to who ultimately was behind the nefarious deed; if you’re reading to enjoy the story, no worries, the who, what and why is revealed pretty close to the end of the book so you’re not wading out the blah-blah-blah of page fillers once the reveal happens.

Which brings me to pacing of Single Malt Murder which was, in my opinion, dead on. In the beginning I was a little leary as it the pacing seemed a little slow, but I reasoned due to this is the first book, introductions needed to be made and the explanation of the whisky making process needed to be explained, that accounted for, what I call, the slow pacing. and after the first couple of chapters the pacing and background information started to weed itself out and allow the story to truly begin, creating a good, solid page turner.

Overall, this was a good malty murder novel, and at parts, I did think about breaking out my stash and sipping along as I’m sure I have some of the smoother, sweeter variety in my closet somewhere. As a side note, I’m thinking Mullet mentions, incognito, Macallan (or it could be Glenfiddich) and Laphroaig while explaining these fine Scottish treasures.  If your are a whisky connoisseur I think you’ll enjoy this series based on this first installment.

Toward A Secret Sky, Heather MacLean

Pub Date April 4, 2017
Hardcopy $17.99, e-book $9.99

While skimming through books this cover caught my attention with its stormy sky, highland hills and secret emblem floating above what I consider to be Celtic lettering. With this said, I read the description; ping #1 for me was it looked to take place in Scotland, so I assumed it had the ‘Scots humor’ I adore, and hoped MacLean would be endearing readers to the rugged Scotland I’ve come to know. Ping #2- Secret International Organization= mystery and intrigue, right? Ping #3- twisted labyrinths and famous cathedrals. So far, before I even cracked a page, I wanted to read this book!

Cracking open said book, I can honestly say it’s a page-turner. MacLean’s writing hits each story beat perfectly, each chapter starts with a hook and ends with a hook, which in turn equals ‘page-turner’ a.k.a loss of sleep if you’re reading at night.

MacLean hit on all my pings marvelously; it does take place mainly in Scotland with the secondary cast of characters weaving in the Scot’s humor, vocabulary, and daily living nuances of uprooting to a new country. Maren’s grandparents and new friends she makes help the readers understand what it would be like to suddenly find oneself in another country.

Maren, the 17 yr old who starts her story with the loss of her mom and immediate relocation to Aviemore, Scotland to be under the care of her grandparents, states the major differences between living in the US and Scotland succinctly with the large and small differences: language barriers, food choices, music availability, internet woes, phone challenges, etc. I love this, but then I’m an adult and have experienced US vs. the World differences in various countries.

Gavin, the hero of our story, is truly our hero as he does a lot of saving of Maren when needed, which is often. Gavin’s character is a type of angel, but a very young one. He’s also the hot Scot and we’re first introduced to him while he’s hunting in a kilt–great way to unexpectedly meet a hero, right? I found Gavin’s role to be a bit of an enigma though. The more I read, the more I found Gavin’s character to be confusing; in one scene he’s more like a standard young man, then the next he’s almost all knowing. I can understand that when it comes to romantic relationships this would be a new thing to him, being an angel in which MacLean explains Gavin has never been ‘in love’; it seemed like Gavin was a little too much like the waves on the beach with his knowledge and lack of knowledge flowing in and out instead of a steady movement forward as the book proceeded. Maybe this is the authors way of explaining how confusing love can be? As for love, my favorite line regarding the attraction factor is from Maren: Forget I ever met him. Short of getting a lobotomy, I had exactly zero chance of succeeding at that.

As for the story line itself, I would explain it as Buffy melds with James Bond. We’ve got the supernatural, superpower element of good vs. evil and the international men [and women] of mystery who are licensed to kill. There’s plenty of fast paced action mixed in with the underlying mystery of nightmares of foresight, disembodied screeching and in true Bond fashion, a cast of characters whom MacLean has no problem exterminating and replacing with new blood.

Overall, I give this a two thumbs up for it’s great pacing, plotting, and story beats which carry the reader swiftly through the book. I believe the young adult readers will enjoy this, but fair warning, this is definitely geared for the female readers who love action and not so much sappy, wimpy high school love stories.