Monday, September 25, 2017

The Big Book of Rogues and Villains by Otto Penzler

Otto Penzler always does a wonderful job of picking out stories for his anthologies.  He has it done again with these stories.  There are 72 stories and it's 928 pages long.  Took me almost three days to read this one but it was worth it.

Vintage Crime/Black Lizard and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this books (thank you).  It will be published October 24th.

With body snatchers, Dracula, the Cisco Kid and more starring in these stories, it holds your attention.  The early stories had more shock value.  The ones that always appeal to me are the ironic endings.  I'm not looking for perfect endings, I just enjoy justice winning once in a while.

Here's a list of the stories that seemed special to me as I read them:

The Unpublished Memoirs by ASW Rosenbach.
The Gray Seal by Frank L. Packard
A Retrieved Reformation by O. Henry -- excellent read!
The Burglar by John Russell
After Dinner Story by William Irish
The Cat Woman by Erle Stanley Gardner
The Theft from an Empty Room by Edward D. Hoch
Quarry's Luck by Max Allen Collins
Keller on the Spot by Lawrence Block

Many of those authors are old friends that I've been reading for years.  It's always fun to read stories you know will enjoy.  Give it a read and see which stories talk to you!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

This fantasy world holds all kinds of creatures and has political ploys, spies, corrupt officials and more, just like earth.  Our animals are a bit tamer but the game playing is the same.  In this story, if you didn't plan well, you could very well end up dead.

Del Ray and Edelweiss let me read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published October 17th.

The author uses a bard to tell the tales of the various cities and their history.  He has magic that can make him look like the character telling the tale.  When he gets on his platform and begins speaking, everyone gathers around to hear his tales.  They are not all good stories but they are the truth.  That leads to having assassins looking for the bard.  He's assigned a professor to write his tales down and keep him company.  They put the bard in a different safe house each evening and he's not told where.  That almost ended up with him dead but the guards stopped them.

You meet a lot of different clans, it seems like almost everybody dies, and there's a new magic found.  A few people can communicate with animals and they can use them as weapons against the enemy.  The mariners can remove the water from your brain.  The lavamakers can burn you up.  Giants can squish you.  Danger is very prominent in this world.

This book was 640 pages long and I wasn't bored at all.  The story is vibrant and interesting.  I was anticipating a whopping ending and then found out it was a cliff hanger.  We'll have to read the next book to find out more.  That disappointed me a bit.  I like the books to end with an opening for a future volumes.  This one didn't feel like it was done.  But this world feels real and I'm sure there will be more fighting in the future.  It began with a volcano going off and the tension has continued since then...

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Polly loves the little bakery she owns where she creates beautiful pastries and breads.  She's got a steady boyfriend, is living in a lighthouse and life is good.  It's true the lighthouse is not as warm as it could be but it has the most spectacular views.  All it takes is her girlfriend having a night out and the world she lives in falls apart...

William Morrow and Edelweiss allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published October 10th.

When her girlfriend went out partying, she woke up in a motel room with a man sleeping next to her.  She escaped as fast as she could.  She also just barely got home before her husband shows up and she hides what she's been up to.  The problem is that she's pregnant now.  And she's not sure whose baby she's having...

If that wasn't enough drama and tension for everyone, Polly finds her father is in the hospital.  She has never seen him or knew him at all.  The woman calling is his wife.  And then Polly finds out he was married before he met her mother and had her.  No wonder he wasn't around.

With lots of tension and drama already crowding the pages, Polly's boyfriend finds out she didn't share this knowledge with him and he thinks their relationship is not what he thought it was.  He goes to stay with friends.

Despite all these obstacles, things smooth out and there's even a surprise for Christmas...

Happy Birthday! by Mamoru Suzuki

This is a really sweet picture book about the birth of baby and his first birthday.  It has simple text and beautiful graphics.

Museyon and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published October 1st.

There is a short version of the baby's birth, the author even mentions the baby's beginning life which is filled with food, sleep and poop (!) and then moves on to when he begins to crawl and eventually walks.  By his birthday, he's running.  Mom even predicts him flying away when he gets older and she makes sure that he knows he'll always be loved and that home will be waiting for him.

It's a very precious look at a baby's life and the graphics make the story more real.  The author did a very nice job with this simple picture book.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Shanghai Incident (Master Diplexito and Mr. Scant #2) by Bryan Methods

The boy and his butler are on a mission to find his uncle's missing daughter.  When his uncle goes missing, too, it becomes an even more dangerous mission.  Where could he have gone and why would he go alone?

The author sent me an ARC of this book to read for review (thank you).  It will be published October 1st.

This is the second book in this series and it's just as exciting as the first one.  The tale starts in Paris, where the boy gives a homeless boy some chocolates.  After that, the younger boy has attached himself to him and he's trying to tell him something.  It's in French though and he doesn't understand enough of that.  Mr. Scant tells him he's trying to find Julian, his older brother.  It just so happens that middle aged boys have been disappearing around Paris.  Now they have three persons to search for.

You learn about the various power groups of China, find that some of their allies are really their enemies, and it's up to them to stop a plot to kill the young boy who is the current emperor.  There's plenty of action, Mr. Scant's strength is needed, and Master Diplexito mind is called into action.  They don't have an easy time trying to save the emperor and one of the allies is poisoned.  It's a good thing this team is so resilient.

This was another exciting read and I see there's another book coming next year.  That's a long time to wait but it will be another deadly adventure, I'm sure. 

Jorie and the River of Fire by A H Richardson

Jorie misses Rufus.  She's got plenty to do but they had a great adventure together and she wouldn't mind doing more adventuring.  She gets even more anxious when the white cat comes out of the tarn and tells her the good wizard needs her help.  He can turn into a dragon but not when he's confined in a small space and starved.  Luckily, Rufus will be home in a couple of days.

The author sent me a copy of this book to read for review (thank you).  It has been published and you can buy a copy now.

I read the earlier book in this series and enjoyed it.  This one is even better.  

The first thing Jorie does when they use the tarn to get to the other world is visit the wizard's castle and get the magic stones.  She takes them with her because they warn her of danger and can even give her special powers to fight it.

Trying to find the wizard means they must go to the most dangerous place in this world and find a way across a burning fire river without burning up.  They also have to avoid the hunters the bad wizard uses.  The bad wizard is on guard for them himself, so they try to stay hidden as best they can.

There are new revelations, new characters, and a lot of danger in this story.  It kept me glued to the book as I worried if Jorie and Rufus would both live through the quest.  I also enjoyed the budding romance between Rufus' grandfather and Jorie's aunt.  

With all the odd characters this author has created, you certainly won't be bored!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Lot Like Christmas: Stories by Connie Willis

I was looking for a pleasant romantic set of Christmas stories when I found this book.  I forgot that Connie Willis is a science fiction/fantasy author.  These are Christmas stories alright but have you imagined sharing it with aliens?

Del Ray Books and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published October 10th.

I enjoyed the story of the aliens that have come to visit.  The only thing they respond to is Christmas music and only to some songs.  The officials won't listen to the person who is figuring it.  So she steals them and sets up a performance with a music teacher and his choirs to try to prove that humans deserve to live...

There was also a story of Christmas celebrations in the future.  You picked a theme, the company supplies all the decorations, food, etc.  But when you have a woman changing her mind every five minute and someone else who picks no theme but wants one done, it becomes quite a challenge.

The story about the best Christmas movie is amusing, especially with a spirit trying to help.

These may not be the traditional stories but some sound like it and they do eat roasted chestnuts.  This is an entertaining read.