Saturday, December 31, 2016

Born to Run (North Oak #1) by Ann Hunter

Alex always runs away from her foster homes.  She's also always caught and returned.  The last home she's in is the worst of the lot.  She and her best friend make plans to run that night.  But when Ashley visits the bathroom in the middle of the night to get ready, the night explodes...

I received this ebook from instaFreebie and the author to read for review (thank you).  It has been published and you can pick up a copy now.

Alex knows she's done an awful thing and will have to answer for it, so she runs again.  She's alone and she hates it.  She hates knowing Ashley is dead.  She hates what's she done.  But she has no choice except to run.

She runs as far as she can but she's not well.  When she collapses by a gate, she just doesn't care anymore.  She's done all she can do.  When she wakes up, she's in a bed and it's not back at the foster home.  She's found a new family that is willing to take her in.  She doesn't trust them.  She tries to run again but gets caught.  The man who found her tells her to give it ten days and see how it goes.  She doesn't want to but she's on a ranch that raises race horses.  The horses talk to her and comfort her.

Life is going better but she knows she doesn't deserve it.  When the girls living there ask her what's wrong she tries to keep it to herself but over time, she begins to trust a bit.  When she tells them the truth, she ends up in jail.

When all the truth comes out, she finds herself in a better situation than she expected.  She's got a home now and guardians, but she also has a lot more even if she doesn't know it.  The man that owns the ranch is her Uncle.  The next book in this series should be even more interesting.  I know the family raising her is going to have their challenges.  She's almost as wild as the horses...

Friday, December 30, 2016

Descender, Volume 3: Singularities (Descender #3) by Jeff Lemire (Writer), Dustin Nguyen (Artist)

Robots always draw me into a story.  In this tale, robots are feared.  There was an uprising long ago and now humans consider them dangerous and of use only as scrap.  One is just a little boy who lived a quiet life in his past but now has no home and no friends...

Image Comics shared this book with me for a review (thank you).  It has been published now and you can get a copy.  I read an earlier book in this series and was intrigued to see what the author had done next.  It was different and it was good.

Mr. Lemire takes us back to the beginning.  You get back stories on all the main characters.  I would have thought this would be the first in the series but it's still an interesting read even at this point.  

Since I had read some of the earlier work, I knew the characters.  How they turned into the people they did was fascinating.  Two of them had even been married in the past and that was a new revelation.  Reading these pieces of the past made things fit together better.  Most unknowns were explained.  Now where the story is going to go from here is only known to Mr. Lemire.  I'll be watching for the next story...

The Very First Christmas Stocking & the Gifts of the 7 Coins by Terry Paul LaFargue

Here's a different look at the birth of Jesus.  Instead of the three kings, a family of shepherds come to visit...

Dog Ear Publishing and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published.

I was expecting the traditional story with a few additions but this is a totally different look.  When a shooting star lands in the meadow where two children were watching the sheep and it turns out to be jet like star that two angels are riding, you know it's going to be different.

It's a good tale with lots of lessons to learn on the way.  The coins of this story are positive natural attributes we carry in our hearts.  With angels, stars, coins, Christmas stockings and a pot luck dinner, there's a new flavor to the birth of Christ.  I couldn't get used to calling Mary Ms. Mary but that's me.  I guess I'm a little too entrenched in the old version.

This would be good for young ones.  They will enjoy the boy angel that keeps getting in trouble.  They'll also learn about skills it's good to have.  Why not give it a try?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Journey on a Runaway Train by Gertrude Chandler Warner, Anthony VanArsdale

Remember the Boxcar Children?  Gertrude Chandler Warner wrote a great many books starring these children.  I think I read the whole series when I was young.  I at least read every one I could find.  When I saw this new mini-series, I had to revisit them and see how they have held up over the years.

Albert Whitman & Company and Edelweiss allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published February 1st.

All the same characters are in this series, along with their dog.  The story begins at home when a funny looking man gives them a flyer about a business who buys antiques.  Their grandfather decides to sell the old trunk up in the attic.  It will give them more space, they don't use it anymore and a little extra money might be nice.  When they go to clean it out, they find a turtle fetish that had not been in there before.  They don't know it, but that's going to send them off to an adventure in New Mexico!

It seems their grandfather has arranged for them to make this trip on a private train and take the turtle and other artifacts back to the people they were stolen from.  In this case, the turtle is going to the Acoma Pueblo otherwise known as Sky City.  But someone else wants that turtle so it's not going to be an easy journey.

This a well-written modernized story of the Boxcar Children and somehow it's lost part of its charm to me.  With everything updated, it has a different flavor.  However, the world keeps changing and a new batch of children won't find a thing wrong with them.  I'm just a dinosaur who likes to read books.

If your child has never read about the boxcar children, this might be a good place to start.  They are written for young readers and aren't too long.  It might be a reunion for old friends with some and that's a good thing, too.

Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune by Pamela S. Turner

Many years ago in a land faraway, a baby was born.  His father went to war and never came back.  The new ruler intended to kill the sons of the defeated Samurai but the mother was very pretty.  He sends the boys to the monks in the hills to care for them.  Later he will be sorry he did that.  That baby might not even remember his father but he still has his proud heart and his will to succeed and put down his enemies.

Charlesbridge and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published on the 2nd of February.

Set in medieval Japan, this story is fiction based on fact.  That makes it much more readable and makes you care about the characters within.  This is for young readers but it also has a lot of violence in it.  Don't give it a child who will be upset by beheadings or killings in general.

It's a fascinating look at the politics in this era.  The Emperor was like a god.  He chose which of his Samurai he would reward and gave them land to use for harvests and even let some of them keep part of the taxes he charged the other residents.  However, when the Samurai under him start fighting with each other he moves some place safe and waits to see how it turns out.

There are constant wars there.  People get slighted, people get disappointed, people don't agree.  Then the person that made them feel that way suddenly gets dead.  That usually creates another enemy.

The baby grows up and learns a bit about being a Samurai but he's still a young man when he goes to fight.  He's also not welcome.  One of his worst enemies is his half-brother and he has more than one.

Yoshitsune is a fine tactician but he has no people skills.  He does wondrous things in the field and ensures more than one battle ends in his half-brother's favor but he doesn't get the rewards he wanted and he's angry about that.

There's no happy ending for anyone in this story.  It's life and sometimes happy doesn't happen.  One thing I know, when you read this story, you'll be glad you're alive now... 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Maresi: Book 1 in The Red Abbey Chronicles by Maria Turtschaninoff

Maresi is thirteen and has come to the Abbey because her family doesn't have enough food to go around.  She knows her youngest sister died because of hunger so she goes and leaves what food there is to her family.  The Red Abbey only has women.  There are no men anyway on the island.  Fishermen bring them their food by boat and never ever step on the dock.  It should be safe.  But one young novice brings danger...

Amulet Books sent me an ARC of this book to read for review (thank you).  It will be published January 3rd.
This is a mesmerizing fantasy tale from a Finnish author that I'm very happy to have found.  I enjoy her imagination, her story is easy flowing and exciting and the theme of women of power on a seldom visited island in the sea makes a unique setting.

They grow most of their own food.  They have classes, they learn skills, and they learn history.  Maresi just loves the library.  (I would, too.)  She gets to read in free evenings and she stays later than she should.  Her life is perfect now.  Then a new novice shows up.  Her name is Jai and she's very, very quiet.  Maresi takes her under her wing and shows her what she need to do as a novice.  Jai sticks very close and even starts coming to the library with her.  

When Jai finally tells how she came to be at the Abbey, Maresi is shocked.  Her father killed her older sister because she had let a boy have a drink from the water she was bringing home.  He was sure she gave him more than that.  His method of death was awful.  He dug a grave, put her in it, and then filled it up with dirt while she was still alive.  He's a very dangerous man.  The worst part is that she knows he'll be coming after her.

The novices who have certain talents get apprenticed to the upper positions in the Abbey.  Maresi would love to be the next librarian.  She has other talents, though.

When the men invade, the women create a magical storm to make them leave.  They return and the final battle is out of this world.  There is death in this story; there is also life and a hope for a better future. I can't wait to see what the next book brings!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

THE SECRETS OF MOONLIGHT COVE by A.G. Reid, Barb DeLong, Jill Jaynes, Shauna Roberts, Janna Roznos, Kathleen Rowland

Moonlight Cove is a quaint little town on the coast of California.  Everything looks peaceful but there are some waves underneath.  There's also a lot of romance in town.  That makes it a fun read.

The author and Goddess Fish Blog Tours gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  You can grab a copy at Amazon now.

Mr. Valentine is a vampire that likes to play matchmaker.  Cupid wants him to stop...

My favorite story is:  Maggie’s Mystery Man by Barb DeLong.  He's in town wearing a disguise.  Maggie is journalist.  And when the story goes live before he's ready for its release, their romantic entanglement falls apart...

The next story has a woman who sees the dead and has to help them resolve problems to move on to the next life.

Surprise Deliveries has a missing man the daughter is trying to find.

The next story has a woman trying to come to terms with her sister's death.  Her grief eventually turns to surprise and an appreciation for a gift she wasn't expecting and a love didn't think she'd find.

The last story is about a man who was injured in war who's home and has his girlfriend being the star of a TV show.  Does he really want to marry her?

All of them are short stories and they are all good.  While they used the same setting, each story was unique and had some quirks for you.  It's an easy light read and the romances are sweet.  Want to go to the beach?  Just buy this book.

The authors will award a $10 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn commenter via Rafflecopter.  Enter HERE.

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found HERE.

Happy reading and good luck!

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Pinch of Poison by Alyssa Maxwell

Haverleigh School for Young Ladies is a proper young woman's school where those who are privileged attend.  Some common girls get scholarships but they aren't really welcome.  However privileged these girls might be, it doesn't protect them from murder.  When the head mistress eats a small cake for dessert after a public event, she suddenly chokes and dies...

Kensington Books and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published December 27th.

Phoebe and her housemaid and partner in crime, Eva, are at the dinner along with others who were working on the fund raising event.  They aren't sure if she choked, had a heart attack or what.  They are very surprised to find she's been poisoned.

From here, the mystery grows.  There's a handyman around that has mental challenges.  The nurse seems to be scarred by her war service.  There's a younger assistant to the head who would like to have her position.  Who would have murdered her?

This is a mix of trouble from the past meeting up with trouble in the future.  The killer didn't know the substance would kill her.  The bad man is most unexpected.  Eva and Phoebe both have a romantic interest even if they aren't thinking about marriage.  I can't wait to see how that turns out in the future.

The ending is quite appropriate.  The conspirators involved in the death end up dead themselves.  Justice served itself this time.

Feud Valley Showdown by Denis Hughes

When he headed  out on vacation to visit his sister and her husband, he was warned it was a rough town and to watch the sheriff.  He might be crooked.  What he finds is a burned down cabin with a dead man inside.  He figures it's his brother-in-law, the victim has been shot.  But where is Beth?  While he's looking for her, the sheriff shows up and takes him in for murder...

Endeavor Press/Pioneering Press and Net Galley gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It has now been published and you can find a copy on Amazon.

Degard is a federal marshal but he does mention that.  If there's a problem with the sheriff it's just as easy to look him over from the inside than out.  Now if only there wasn't a lynch mob outside!

Degard finds himself in the middle of a valley feud.  The two main landowners maintain the other one is killing their men, stealing cattle, using too much water and anything else that could happen that would antagonize the relationship.  The foremen are gunmen.  Tempers are short.  But somehow Degard knows that there's an outside influence at play.  He tries to play a cool head in hot tempers but it isn't making him friends.

And then there's the counterfeiting going on.  Only a few know about that and the ones that discover it by accident have all been found dead.  The worst part is that he still hasn't found Beth!

One man against the town isn't good odds, but federal marshals don't go down easy.  This was a good read with a touch of romance and it even had a happy ending for the good guys.  Here's a great western for you. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

Mrs. Creasy is missing.  Grace has picked up the habits of her elders and gossips with her friend, Tilly, about whether she just left or if she was murdered.  They decide to investigate.  They find secrets alright, but not the ones they wanted...

Scribner sent me a copy of this book to read for review (thank you).  It has already been published so you can buy a copy now.

The avenue they live on is filled with families in all stages of life.  Grace attempts to question people discreetly but it doesn't work well.  The more the girls snoop, the more questions arise.  Why does everyone hate Walter?  Who helped burn his house down?  Is that really Jesus on that drain pipe?

The reverend in the story refers to people as goats and sheep.  The goats are bad and the sheep are good.  Before the story is over, you'll meet more goats than sheep.

Grace has an active imagination and natural curiosity.  She doesn't take hints about minding her own business and everyone is worried that Mrs. Creasy is going to give away their secrets.  As the story goes along, you learn most of these secrets and realize no one in the community is without fault.  

The biggest lesson Grace learns is that betraying a friend to be more important is a bad thing.  She almost loses her friend.  But she does grow up a bit before the end of the story.

This is an interesting look at neighborhood and all its little idiosyncrasies.  A crime was planned, a crime was carried out and now everyone has guilty consciousnesses.  It didn't happen like planned and some people were hiding even deeper secrets.  Sometimes it's better to tell the truth... 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Kill the Father by Sandrone Dazieri

She's suffering PTSD from her last assignment.  The man she wanted to take into custody was blown to bits in front of her as well as a good part of the restaurant and many other customers.  She was injured, in shock, and mentally impacted by the size of the damage.  She feels it was her fault.  So she's still not back at work.  And then they call and want her to come to the site where a child has been abducted.  She doesn't want to do it but she also doesn't want the boy to die...

Scribner sent me an ARC of this book to read for review (thank you).  It will be published January 17th.

Colomba comes and looks around but sees no clues.  The mother, who was with the child, is lying on the ground beheaded.  This is just the beginning of an ugly case.

Her boss asks her to contact the Silo boy.  He's a man now but he's very odd.  He was captured as a child and grew up locked in a silo.  He never actually saw the man who kidnapped him but he called him Father, as he was told to do.  Punishments were handed out freely.  He doesn't leave his apartment, but if he's going to help with the case, he will have to.  He has many fears, she's still having panic attacks.  Their determination to find the boy before he is killed is still their priority.

This is an Italian tale and it swerves, curls around, visits the past and the present, and eventually comes way to close to home for Colomba.  Dante becomes the hunted and a victim once again.  It's almost 500 pages and took me two days to read but it kept me reading and didn't bore me once.  The story is almost like peeling an egg.  You take a layer off and there's more underneath.  I certainly never expected Father to be who he was.

The whole time Colomba is investigating this case, she's not back on duty.  She's doing a lot of things that are over the line of legal and she almost gets killed several times.  Good thing she's tough.  I found the relationship between her and Dante interesting.  They both have had their traumas but they work well together.  I hope I get to read the next book in this series.  I care about Mr. Dazieri's characters!

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson by Nancy Peacock

This is a story of a slave who loved a woman more than he should have.  He met her while he was being sold.  They were both sold to the same man and they were both attracted to each other.  But the master had taken a fancy to her also and he held the position of power...

Atria Books shared an ARC with me of this book for review (thank you).  It will be published January 3rd.

The life of a slave is not a nice story.  Especially not when you have a sadistic master.  Persimmon is determined to help Chloe escape the master.  He can't figure out how but he wants to protect her.  He'd like to have her as his wife but that doesn't mean anything in the slave world.  Families are separated all the time there.  When he gets caught eating some chicken and loving Chloe, he gets fifty lashes with the whip.  It takes him a while to heal but he's no less resolute about helping her.

When the war gets closer to them, the master moves them to Texas.  He takes all that stay and lets those who ran to be with family go.  Before they get out away from the harbor, he kills one cook who was too afraid to get on the boat.  He just shoots her down.  Then Chloe sits close to Persimmon and the master demands Persimmon come over to where he is.  He shoots him in the shoulder and Persimmon falls over the side.  He can't swim.  The master shows Chloe that he's drowning and the boat leaves.  Persimmon lives.  And now he has a new goal.  But Texas is a big, big state.

I think this is an accurate account of what could have happened to the slaves involved.  It's not pleasant to read.  Persimmon ends up losing anyone he loved.  The men he went to Texas with, his children, his dignity and more.  He lives with Indians for a while.  He kills the master.  But as he writes this story, he's sitting in a jail cell waiting to be hanged.

If you want to learn how ugly the slaves were treated and how one man can lose his soul trying to find his love, this book will do that.  It just made me feel sad.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The River at Night by Erica Ferencik

They've been friends for a long time.  Every so often they take off on a trip together to revitalize themselves and catch up on each other.  Pia is the leader by default.  She suggests and the others follow.  The majority of them like to lie on a beach and sip a cool drink but she suggests riding the rapids on a river in upper Maine.  The main character in the book is not fond of the idea.  Win is bit lethargic in life right now and would rather not do things that frighten her.  Facing your fears can make you stronger, though, so she goes.  They all will be sorry they went...

Scout Press sent me an ARC of this book to read for review (thank you).  It will be published January 10th.

This book encapsulates a lot of my fears.  I'm afraid of water, afraid of the dark, and am not fond of camping in a tent with animals around.  I know why I'm afraid of these things and I've done my own share of facing my fears, but it still makes me nervous when I read about it.  These women have their own reasons for fearing the situation they get stuck in.

They get started on their trip and it's going along as it should be, even if Pia is sleeping with the younger guide.  Then there's an accident on the river and the guide drowns and the raft gets away.  They only have the clothes they are wearing and each other.  It goes downhill from here.  All the negative parts of their attitudes come to life and nice isn't around much.  

A campfire excites them, they think they've found someone who can help them.  They find a young man who can't talk but seems to be indicating they should leave.  His mother shows up and offers them some water and some food.  Don't ask what the food is...  She tells them her son will show them out in the morning.  Then she tells him in sign language to take them into the woods the next day and kill them.  Luckily Win knows sign language from dealing with her now deceased little brother.  The women run.  The boy and his mother hunt them.

This is a gripping story that in some ways reminds me of the movie, Deliverance.  It was another raft trip with danger on the hillside.  I would never approach a make shift house in the woods if I hadn't observed the occupants first.  Everybody knows that's how horror stories start.  This book was definitely a horror story to me.  Try it and tell me your opinion.

The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World by David Jaher

I've always had an interest in Harry Houdini so this book caught my eye.  It's the story of Harry's life along with the folks whose spiritualism he tried to debunk.  I'd never heard of the Witch of Lime Street.  This is her story, too.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review (thank you).  It has been published and you can grab a copy now.

This is very detailed non-fiction look at Houdini and his talents and all the people he knew.  I was surprised to find Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the crowd.  Houdini used a lot of tricks in his act, so he was suspicious of anyone who claimed to be a medium or otherwise involved in spiritualism.  He pointed out several frauds.  When Doyle finds one he thinks is true, he and Houdini find themselves on the outs.

While the read is interesting, there almost too many facts included to make it pleasant reading.  You hear of every seance, every fraud discovered, and follow so many people in the story you could become confused.  I prefer a more succinct form of writing, so this took me a while to read.

The most interesting part is the battle between Houdini and Margery.  She's no witch but he doesn't believe in her manifestations either.  As they dance around each other, it's not easy to tell who is going to win.  I wouldn't say Houdini actually won, but he did stop her from winning a contest put on by the Scientific American.

All in all, it was an interesting look at the 1920's where superstition ran high.  People were anxious to talk to the dead.  Even if the comments were vague, it assuages some of the guilt of the requester.  Sometimes the live feel guilty about being that way or feel that the young ones shouldn't have died so soon.  We still feel that way but most of us don't go visit a medium looking for communication from the dead.

This is history and the author writes a no nonsense book about the past.  It's a bit dry and too many pages but history can be like that.  If you want to know more about Houdini or spiritualism, you'll find it here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters: The Jolly Regina by Kara LaReau, Illustrator Jen Hill

Jaundice and Kale Bland are just that:  Bland.  They have their routines and follow them every day.  They make no changes, hardly even go outside.  They have oatmeal for breakfast ALL THE TIME.  And they're waiting for their parents to come home.  They went out on an errand and haven't returned.  They're content with their lot.  They'll just keep waiting.  And then someone knocks on the door...

Amulet Books sent me an ARC of this book to read for review (thank you).  It will be published January 10th.

When one of them answers the door because the caller has promised a surprise, she's holding a burlap bag.  She tells them to look deep in the bag for their surprise.  Then she closes the bag and kidnaps them!

Imagine finding yourself on the Jolly Regina and surrounded by a batch of pirates.  Scary, eh?  Especially when you realize they are all women.  They are put to work swabbing the deck and the only thing that gives them courage is that the captain of the ship says she's seen their parents.  She marooned them on Gilly Gun's Island (very punny).

Now the Bland sisters are having all kinds of adventures each day.  There's a monkey on board who likes to steal buttons or anything eatable.  There's a fat cook who sorrows over her size but teasing makes her eat more.  Everyone is a bit odd.  Silly things happen, and it's all in good fun.  This has just a touch of Roald Dahl's type of humor.

The Bland sisters might not be swashbucklers but they keep up with the pirates. It will be interesting to see what new adventures they will have in the future.

Winter Solstice: Short Stories from the Worlds of KP Novels by Lincoln Cole, Linda Cassidy Lewis, Jessica Knauss, Jacqueline Ward, Ann Omasta, Jada Ryker, Fiona Quinn, & 3 more

Winter is coming in through the door, so I thought reading this one would be good timing.  There's a mix in this short story collection from romance to mystery to horror.  It's a very nice collection from Kindle Press authors.  I haven't read much from that source so I found some new authors in my read.

InstaFreebies shared this book with me for review (thank you).  It has been published and you can find it on Amazon.

It begins with romance and the stories are light and Christmasy.  Just what I needed to help get me in the mood for Christmas.

They were all good.  Most were excerpts from their books.  The one that really touched me was "All I Want For Christmas" by Katherine Hayton.  It's about a missing little girl and it's a very good tale.

If you'd like a light read around the Christmas tree, this one will do it for you.  I didn't find any disappointments in this read.  Give it a try!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Secret Origins by James Riley

After their escapades in the past in comic books, you'd think that Owen and Bethany would be smarter than to step through a portal into a new world.  After all, they got in big trouble before.  Why would they think this time would be any easier?

Aladdin and Edelweiss allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published January 17th.

This is written for middle graders and has comic book heroes and villains as well as interesting skills that Charm (from the other world) has endowed Bethany and Owen with.  It's an interesting story with Nobody trying to rewrite his character and change the comics he's in to Mr. Dark who wants to kill everyone in his world.  The whole reason they are there is because they believe they saw Bethany's missing father go in the house.  She's absolutely determined to go after him and won't stop at anything.  But she's got a big surprise waiting for her...

There's lots of action, good and bad characters, a guy in a banana suit that plays an important part, and even more odd characters.  This is an easy read full of nonsensical stuff and makes it a fun read for young ones.  I think reading the first in this series would be a good place to start.  There were several references to the story in this one.  However, this one read fine alone.  Any child hooked on action fantasy will love this one. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Silver Gate by Kristin Bailey

Elric knows his sister, Wynn, is different but she's honest, laughs a lot, and is good, sweet, and loving.  He's not sure why his mother and Wynn live in the woods by themselves while he lives with his dad, but he gets to visit and he's content with that.  However, when his mother dies, things fall to pieces.  His father wants to sell his sister to the castle as a servant.  He can't let that happen!

Katherine Tegen Books and Edelweiss allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published January 10th.

I liked this book for several reasons.  Even though Wynn is different, Elric stands up for her and tries to protect her.  He's not sure if she's a changeling or not, but he knows he loves her.  She remembers a song her mother used to sing about a silver gate and about a fairy queen.  She wants to go there.  He thinks it's just a song and there's nothing magic about it.  One of the people he meets in his journey tells him that magic is there is you believe in it.  I believe in magic but it might not be as exciting as some of magic I read about...

When Elric says he wishes he had a pig so they could eat good again, Wynn asks about buying one at the next town.  A gang of boys are giving her trouble so he goes to save her.  When she finds him again, he's badly beaten and in the ditch.  She drags him out of the ditch and gets him to a safe place and then uses her dress for bandages and honey to help the cuts and bruises.  He wakes up sticky and crabby.  But the next man he meets tells him the honey stops infections and helps close up the wounds so she's not all wrong in her attempt at healing.

They have many more adventures, even end up stuck in a house with feral dogs outside.  It was really hard to get away from them!

This is written for middle graders but I had great fun reading it.  With all the action, the fairy queen, and the discovery at the end made a great story.  I can't wait to see this next one in this series...

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Hideout by Watt Key

Sam is twelve and has his own boat.  He lives in Mississippi with his Mom and Dad and is life is good.  He's a good kid overall but he's still got a lot to learn.  It confuses him when he gets beaten up at school for no more than being friends with another boy.  He wonders if he should still be friends with him and pretty much decides not.  So he heads out on his boat, looking for excitement.  After all, there's a dead man somewhere out there in the swamp and maybe he can find him and be more important in his father's eyes.  What he finds isn't dead...

Farrar, Straus, & Giroux (BYR) and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published January 10th.

This book should especially interest middle grade boys.  It's mostly about the world of boys and men and all the trouble you can get in by trying to help someone.  I enjoyed the tale.  I could relate to it.  I was different, too.

Sam is cruising in the area he's not supposed to be in (like all children, he stretches his limits) when he comes across a young boy living on an island in the swamp.  He has no food, no bedclothes, no other clothing that what he's wearing.  Sam goes home and sneaks out some food to share with the boy.  Each trip finds him taking more goods as well as food.  The boy insists his father and his brother will be joining him but Sam doesn't think that story sounds right.  It's not.

His stepbrother is not a nice man.  When he shows up with a couple of other guys, Sam gets nervous.  It gets worse.  The brother decides he knows too much.  With the young boy determined to find his dad or drown himself instead of going back to a bad foster home, and the bad brother,  money and marijuana involved, Sam is in a bad situation.

There's plenty of action, lots to worry about, and reconciliations between Sam and his friend he left behind and Sam and his new friend.  It all works out, despite the trouble Sam ran into.  He was very lucky. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

This is an old Russian fairy tale and the author does a very good job of recreating that atmosphere.  You feel the cold, the anguish, and the fear of the people in the story.  It's a tale of old gods, unseen helpers and a reverend that only has his personal needs in his mind.  Are you ready to step into an old world?  Bring your blanket...

Del Rey and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published January 10th.

Vasilisa is the youngest child in the family.  Her mother died shortly after her birth but she made her father promise to keep Vasilisa safe.  She knew she was different.  Vasilisa hasn't realized it yet but she finds out quickly people can't see the odd creatures that live in the house, the woods, the stable, and the river like she does.  She doesn't understand why but she knows they are her friends.  

There is a magical mystical feel to this story.  When their old priest dies, they ask for a new one to replace him.  He's young, paints icons, and wants everyone to be afraid of him and love him both.  He tells them the odd creatures that protect their homes and help them with their chores are bad and that they shouldn't believe in them.  As they forsake them, bad things begin to happen.

Vasilisa plays in the woods and by the river all the time.  She enjoys the outdoors.  When she finds a strange tree and even odder man laying under it, she finds someone she should have never made an acquaintance with.  He's dangerous.  He's bound to the tree but he's building his power and he intends to come after her.

With Vasilisa's magical abilities, it doesn't take long for the village to turn against her.  Her new stepmother doesn't like her either.  Things build to a tense, suspenseful ending that will hold your attention all through the book.  Russian fairy tales don't usually have a happy ending but I think this one does.  You read it yourself and then tell me if you agree with me.

This story really talked to my fanciful side.  I  enjoyed this read very much.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Soldier, Spy, Heroine: A Novel Based on a True Story of the Civil War by Debra Ann Pawlak, Cheryl Bartlam du Bois

Sarah tries hard to make her father love her.  She knows she's a failure because she is a girl rather than a boy, but she learns to shoot accurately, ride a horse like an appendage, and work as hard as any man.  He's still disappointed in her and he's angry when she loses a calf in a flooding river.  She said he'd rather she drowned than the calf.  Unfortunately that was true.  But when he decides to marry her to a man older than he is that has grown children older than she is for a few head of cattle, she's had enough...

Yucca Publishing and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published January 24th.

She moves to the city and lives with her mother's girlfriend from the past.  She learns to make hats and is quite creative with them.  She has her own money, does what she wants and life is good.  Then her father finds out where she went.  She moves again and then transforms herself into a boy.  With her hair short and wearing shirts and pants like she did on the farm, she looks male because she's flat chested and acts like one.  She starts out as a bible salesman.  From there, she becomes a soldier...

This is a fictional account of a true story about a woman who impersonated a man and served as soldier in the Civil War and then became a spy.  It's a good thing she knew how to dress up and disguise her voice.  She went in to spy as a black man or a black cook.  She acted like an old Irish washerwoman.  And she fooled them all.

The only common soldier knowing the truth was the boy she loved and asked to run away with her.  He couldn't leave his mother, so she went alone.  But when they found each other in the service, he kept her secret and they shared their love with plans for future.  It's not to be.

This story graphically talks about the war, the wounds, the dead, and the toll on the people involved.  It's very readable and shows how war has been ugly even from the beginning.  If you are giving this to a child to read, make sure they are able to stomach all the death.

Sara Emma survives and even gets the army pension she deserved.  It took the help of her husband and her friends but she wons the right to say she was in the war.  At that day and age, it seems almost impossible, but determined women can be hard to stop.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Deadlight Jack by Mark Onspaugh

If you're not careful, Deadlight Jack will get you in the swamps of Louisiana.  The adults think it's just an old wive's tale to keep children out of the swamp.  The children know better.  Any adult that meets him won't be seen anymore, so they should have paid attention the old tales...

Hydra and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published January 3rd.

This horror tale has monsters, ghosts and paranormal beings included in it.  Jimmy from Alaska has the Raven guiding him in life, but the Raven is no friend of his.  He's moved to Nisqually now and shares his home with George, a black man that has certain spirits talking to him, too.  When George can hear his grandson asking for help, he goes to the rescue.  Jimmy goes with him.  They may be old but they are going to do what they can for the young boy.  It won't be easy.

The being called Deadlight Jack steals children.  He uses music and floating lights and then captures them and makes them his prisoner.  When they die, he doesn't let them go.  He keeps them close and feeds the unfortunate people meets in the swamp to them.  He's attempting to become all powerful.  And he has George's grandson.

There's a touch of mythical and legendary foes in this story.  Ghosts talk to the older men.  Jimmy's grandchild sends him help and he really needed it.  Without her help, George's heritage and ability to sing, and some luck, they never would have been able to overcome the evil monster.  Even then you're not sure if it's gone.

I wonder if the next book will have more about this up and coming wild talent that the granddaughter has?  I'd find that very interesting.

I'd recommend you read this one in the daytime.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Book Jumper by Mechthild Gläser

Amy is willing to pull up stakes and move from Germany to Scotland and her grandmother's home.  She's been bullied and ridiculed at school, her mother has been abandoned by her married lover who went home to his family, and a new start would be good for both of them.  The only problem is that her mother hasn't told her about her heritage...

Feiwel & Friends and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published January 3rd.

This book caught my attention because the characters could go within stories and meet the characters and enjoy the story up close and personal.  I was imagining a nice visit with some classic stories and a happy ever after ending.  It wasn't like that...

When Amy finds out she's a book jumper, she's excited.  She's always been a reader and she thinks this will be real special.  Her mother tells her it's  dangerous and won't let her read just any book.  She's also mad at Grandma for telling her about it.  Amy takes her visit in the Jungle Book.  The first person she interacts with is Shere Kahn, and she's afraid he's going to eat her!  He recognizes her as a reader, so she's safe.  But when she wanders farther than she should and finds a margin, she also finds trouble.

There's more than one mystery in this story.  There are thefts in the book kingdoms and it's causing conflicts.  Someone is also stealing ideas, which makes the classic story fall apart.  How can you have the Wizard of Oz without the tornado?  What's Alice in Wonderland like without the White Rabbit?  She's working hard to find the thief before it's too late.  When she does, she's sorry.  

This is a good story with lots of action and either revisits or introductions to many classic stories.  I enjoyed everything but the ending.  I'm soft hearted and wanted happy ever after.  That's not quite how it turned out.  But everyone likes something different and since it's fantasy, I can make up my own ending.  After all, haven't you ever rewritten a story ending?  I have a good imagination, I just take the characters down a different path.  This ending is appropriate and matches the story line so most people will be just fine with it.

I wonder if there will be a sequel to Amy's story...

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Six-Gun Serenade by Mason Macrae

He's come home to his ranch after being away for a year.  What he finds is trouble.  There's a new guy in town buying up land and he's trying to take it legally or by force.  Jim's claim is legal and he's not going to give up his ground.  The other guy is not beyond playing dirty and things heat up quickly.

Pioneering Press gave me a copy of this book to read for review (thank you).  It's available now on Amazon.

One thing that really puts Jim in a bind is that the girl he's the guardian of has decided she's in love with him.  He considers himself her big brother and won't consider her otherwise.  She gets mad, then she gets even.  She's going to sell her part of the property.

With fighting for his ranch and his life, he doesn't have much time to worry about her.  He's even willing to let her sell the land and go off to a new life, he just wishes she hadn't chosen the man she did for a husband.

Greed has been around for a long time and that's what's driving the other man in his attempt to buy the whole area around this dry lake.  When Jim figures out his angle, he tries to get the other ranchers to take a stand.  They're scared and are hesitant.

The thing that tickled me about this story was that as time goes on and Sheila realizes just what a con man her "fiance" is, she grows up a bit.  It's a long hard road home and a good fight before things get resolved.  You had to be tough in the old west...

Monday, December 12, 2016

One Week In The Library By: W. Maxwell Prince, Art By: John Amor

Have you ever felt like the library is alive?  Like maybe if you go quickly around the corner, you might catch a character out of their book?  Even if you haven't, this book will take you there...

Image Comics shared this book with me for review (thank you).  This book has been published and you can grab a copy now.

The illustrations are otherworldly.  You feel like you're in the future and you're not sure what's going to happen.  When things happen you're not sure just what it was.  There are stories within a story here.

The books move themselves on the shelf.  Other worlds and characters pop into a room.  There are natural disasters and odd creatures about.  But that's normal for this library.  There is one man as the librarian and he mostly reads, but he often gets caught up in the adventures.  And he searches for a door out...

He finally finds a door and when it opens, he finds himself in an office.  The library was strange; this office is just plain weird and there's an interesting touch at the end of the story.  This isn't a traditional story; give it a try and see what you think.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The War Trail by Gordon Landsborough

Four men are crawling across the desert with a desperate need for water.  They tangled with the Shoshone Indians and lost their horses.  The Indians aren't after them anymore but they will die soon with no water.  The worst part is the monster after them.  They carry a secret and he's determined to have it...

Pioneering Press shared a copy of this book with me for review (thank you).  It's available now for purchase.

The four men each have a quarter of a gold piece that tells them with the four words where the inheritance is buried.  Someone is picking them off and then gathering those quarters.  He colors himself blue and wears a witch doctor's mask.  He's ruthless and deadly.

When a young cowboy hits town on foot, all he's looking for is a new horse.  Someone played a trick on him and it broke his horse's leg.  He's not in a good humor and he gets worse when he hears what they are saying about him.  Without any intention of doing it, he finds himself in a ring for a fight.  He took out the champion with one hit so now he has to do the fight.  He manages to survive and convinces the saloon owner to give him a horse.  Before he gets out of town, he meets a grieving girl and hears of her father's death.  He got to town but didn't last much longer.  She's clueless about where his inheritance may be, but she knows he had one to share with her.  Dave decides to ride the War Trail for her and get it back.

With that man made monster on the loose and Indians around, it's not a safe trip.  There's gunplay, murder, and an all out Indian attack before the issue is settled.  The best part is that he gets the girl in the end.  Dave was a big man with a good punch and he needed that strength to survive.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Pink Panther Volume 1: The Cool Cat is Back by S.A. Check (Author), Adrian Ropp (Author, Illustrator), Bill Galvan (Illustrator), Bob Smith (Illustrator)

Just seeing the cover of this book took me back in time.  When I was fifteen, I got to go to afternoon matinees with my girlfriend who could drive.  We went to anything just to be free and have the time to ourselves.  They showed cartoons before the movie and the Pink Panther ones were special.  I had to grab this one to read because of my memories of the past and I found it just as much fun as it was at fifteen (many, many, many moons ago).

Diamond Books and Edelweiss let me read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published December 13th.

Cartoons in this era were just plain fun.  Sometimes silly, sometimes fantastic and far out, but all fun to read.  A good example of what I mean is the one where the Pink Panther is creating animal balloons at a birthday party.  The spoiled brat the party is for wants a specific kind of balloon toy, but the Pink Panther can't understand him.  You should see all the various balloon types he tries to shut the kid up.

Then there's the time he was going to a costume party and ran into Frankenstein on the way.  They pick up their invites and go on but he's now going to a scary party, which he wasn't expecting.  He survives through quick thinking.  And then he runs into Frankenstein again and ends up going home with the best costume prize while Frankenstein gets the scariest prize just like the originally exchanged invitations.

This was like visiting with an old friend and I really enjoyed reading it.  If you've seen his cartoons before, you'll want to get this one.  If you haven't met him yet and you like comics, you should give this one a look.  Nobody else is like the Pink Panther... 

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Adventures of Henry Whiskers by Gigi Priebe, Daniel Duncan

Henry Whiskers is the oldest child in his family and he takes his duties seriously.  He has to watch his little sister carefully; she's an explorer.  The mouse city is under the floorboards and no one except Titus (the cat) knows they live there.  Part of Henry's job is to keep the dollhouse on display clean and well kept, just like his father did.  He does a good job at that but he also finds himself reading in the comfortable library chair and sometimes he falls asleep.  He's almost been caught so he tries not to do that.

Aladdin and Edelweiss gave me the opportunity to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published January 3rd.

This is a wonderful tale for a middle grader.  Isabel gets in trouble and Harry has to save her.  He gets his friend to help him, they almost get caught by the cat and by rats, they steal a car to get Isabel back home and they have adventures that almost make you hold your breath!  Can you imagine being wrapped up in a carpet?

There's much excitement, lots of challenges and fast action through out the story.  The illustrations are luscious and full of whimsy.  I found it a real joy to read and wouldn't mind meeting Henry in another adventure.  He's good at them! 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Crimson Snow: A British Library Crime Classic by Martin Edwards

I'm a big fan of classic mystery stories and short stories, so I was glad to see this book.  I was not disappointed and you won't be either.  Got your cup of coffee or tea and ready to start?

Poisoned Pen Press and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It will be published January 3rd.

Typical English short stories can be a bit dry and drab to me.  I think that's a difference in cultures.  Only a couple fit in that category in this collection.  The rest were all busy and interesting and had good mysteries.

I have noted three that I enjoyed the most.  If you're a mystery reader, I can almost guarantee you that you will enjoy them, too.

The Man with the Sack by Margery Allington has Mr. Campion in action and her stories are always good.

Death in December by Victor Gunn was also very good.  I don't recall reading his work before but I really liked this one.

The last one is the one I liked best in the whole book:  The Carol Singers by Josephine Bell.  Ms. Bell always writes very good mysteries and this one is no exception.  When the old woman is found dead in her home, there's no witness to the tragedy.  But what she did on the spur of the moment is what identifies her killers.  It's a twisted road to the answer but sometimes life is like that.

These all have a Christmas theme in some way or the other.  Death is not what one normally asks for at Christmas time, but death comes at any time of the year...

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Secret Ingredient of Wishes by Susan Bishop Crispell

This is an interesting look at wishes.  If you could grant wishes, would you?  How careful would you have to be when you made them?  What if you really didn't mean to do what you wished?  How do you recover from making your little brother disappear?

Thomas Dunne Books sent me a copy of this book to read for review (thank you).  It has been published and is available now.

This story was just bit beyond believable for me.  The story line is good, I enjoyed the characters and I especially liked the small town she found when she decided to leave her past behind.  Rachel is not the strongest young woman.  She has guilt over losing her brother, her father leaving her mother and her mother's suicide.  She's been surviving but she keeps living with that guilt.  In an attempt to leave that behind and move on with her life, she packs up and heads out with no particular destination in mind.  She's heading towards the beach and will try to pick up the pieces there.  Unfortunately, she runs out of gas in a small town and can't go on with her journey right away.  It's the best thing that ever happened to her.

She ends up staying with an old woman who makes pies for the whole town.  It's named Nowhere and that's an appropriate name.  It doesn't take long until Rachel notices people visit Catch at the back door and request certain pies.  Those pies have a magical ingredient baked in them that helps them keep secrets, fall in love, and more.  Rachel's still too scared to tell Catch about her own magic.  She does help her bake pies and deliver them though.  And the male neighbor next door is fascinating.

There's trauma, drama, gossip and more in this story.  There's the knowledge that once you've wished something, you can't change it.  It's like that old adage:  Be careful what you wish for; you might get it.

This was a pleasant read and has a positive ending.  It was a bit far-fetched to me but it was enjoyable.  See what you think!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Her Last Breath (Detective Kerri Blasco Book 2) by J.A. Schneider

She awakens in bed with a strange man.  She doesn't know who he is but even hungover she can tell he's not alive with that knife in his chest.  She freaks, knocks over a lamp, cuts her hands and can't find her purse.  She's got asthma and she needs her inhaler.  Instead she passes out from lack of air.

RGS Media and Net Galley allowed me to read this book for review (thank you).  It has been published so you can grab a copy now.

Someone arrives and does CPR on her until the medics show up.  He gives her his card and then comes to see her at the hospital.  He works on the floor below and heard the commotion.  He used to be a cop and didn't panic during the emergency.  She's estranged from her husband but when the cops start talking about charging her with murder, she calls him.  He's not fond of this stranger but he tries to mind his own business.

This is tense, stressful tale.  She had been drugged with something that makes you forget at the media event she attended.  Someone is setting her up but who?  She gets so paranoid she doesn't trust her friends, her rescuer, or her husband.  Someone is out to get her.

I had my suspicions but the truth isn't revealed until the end.  Kerri is the only one keeps her from being nailed with a murder charge.  Even her phone had been tampered with.  Kerri just knows it doesn't fit, but how to prove that?

If you couldn't remember, your mind will go nuts trying to.  Poor Mari is blank until it's almost too late.  You start this one, you'll read it until the end.  You might even have trouble taking time to eat.  The storyline holds you and you fear the danger along with Mari.

You read it and tell me what you think.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Guns Across Red River by A A Glynn

Dannehar just stopped in town to get something to eat.  Instead, he gets a gun in his back and the sheriff tells him he'll be spending his night in jail.  Anyone who comes to town with a gun gets that treatment.  Dannehar knows Oskin.  They've both been soldiers and then lawmen after the war.  He goes along with it and gets a good meal out of it.  Then he and the boy he's jailed with work an old trick and he escapes.  That was working great until he gets pinned down by the river by a couple of men in the rocks above him.  They have rifles.  He just has his pistol.  The odds aren't good.

Pioneering Press allowed me to read this ebook for review (thank you).  It has been published and you can get a copy now.

He's lucky, Oskin has a rifle and takes them out and then joins him.  He's surprised to see him but Oskin was getting antsy about his job as sheriff and the adventuring bug hit him when Dannehar came through.  Dannehar explains he's going to help a negro who saved his life during the war.  He was drowning and he got him out of the river.  They shook hands and then went back to the war:  one on one side and one on the other.  This man needs help because someone is trying to run the Indians and the others in the town out.  

What they find is ugly.  There are bad men on the way to that location, too, and there are gunfights on the way.  When they see a burned out ranch, they run into a good batch of men bracing them.  They think it's over, but there's a black man in the midst of them and he vouches for them.  It seems there's oil in the ground on the Indian side of the river and the driller is determined to get it.  They won't sell, so he'll take it by force.

The action gets hot and the bullets fly but the boys have lots of experience dodging them.  Once the war is over, Dannehar is off to look up a widow he knew in earlier days.  Oskin comes along.  Dannehar's going to get teased all the way there...

This is a very good western.  Give it a try.

Eeny Up Above! Jane Yolen, Kathryn Brown (Illustrated by)

Eeny is a mole.  Her sisters are very happy in their home but Eeny is more adventuress.  She goes up and samples all of the seasons of the y...