Wednesday, September 26, 2012

(64) Dying Echo

Title: Dying Echo: A Grim Reaper Mystery (Grim Reaper Series) by Judy Clemens
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
250 pages
Genre: Mystery

I received this book as an electronic ARC from netgalley.com.  It was published August 7, 2012

Synopsis: It's been years since Casey Maldonado visited her hometown, and the only reason she's returning now is to get her brother Ricky out of jail, where he sits after being arrested for the brutal murder of Alicia McManus, his girlfriend of several months. Casey believes in her brother's innocence, but proving that to the cops is a different thing altogether. As Casey and her ever-present companion Death investigate Alicia's murder, it becomes clear she was not who she claimed to be, from her name to her non-existent past. Instead of a solid history, she left only questions when she died. Where did she come from? What secrets did she know? And, most importantly, who were the three people she spoke of when Death carried her away?

Review: This is the 4th book in this series and after reading this one I think I am going to go back and read the others.  Casey is a broken woman, her husband and young son were killed in a car accident that Casey barely escaped.  But escape she did and she has been torturing herself ever since, begging for death, who is now her traveling companion, literally.  The grim reaper travels with Casey helping her with information that she needs, and nudging her toward life.  He is fun, quirky and has a killer sense of humor.

Casey returns to her hometown when she finds out her brother has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend.  As she digs into the case she discovers that the girlfriend is not who she seems to be, in fact no one seems to know who she really is, with the exception of Death. Since she can't go to the police with information obtained from a supernatural being she sets out to uncover evidence that she can use.  Along the way she is aided by a man she met in the last book who wants more from Casey than she is ready to give.

This book left me wanting more.  Casey is so emotionally wrecked that you can feel her pain ooze off the pages, and Death give a great levity to the whole book.  He always has a quick witty remark or snarky comment to make.  He is fascinated by electronics and is constantly creating mobile phones and ipads to occupy himself. I believe he wants Casey to move on and learn to live again but also will miss her if she decides to embrace life once more.  This is definitely a series to keep your eye on.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Teaser Tuesday 9/25/12



Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Synopsis: It's been years since Casey Maldonado visited her hometown, and the only reason she's returning now is to get her brother Ricky out of jail, where he sits after being arrested for the brutal murder of Alicia McManus, his girlfriend of several months. Casey believes in her brother's innocence, but proving that to the cops is a different thing altogether. As Casey and her ever-present companion Death investigate Alicia's murder, it becomes clear she was not who she claimed to be, from her name to her non-existent past. Instead of a solid history, she left only questions when she died. Where did she come from? What secrets did she know? And, most importantly, who were the three people she spoke of when Death carried her away?


"Casey thought of her own travel bag, which hadn't included any photos until Ricky had sent one the week before - probably only a day or two before his own life had been destroyed. Death had always given her a hard time about not carrying pictures."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

(63) Duck Boy

Title: Duck Boy
Publisher: Biting Duck Press
294 pages
Genre: Sci fi, YA

This title is due to be released on October 20, 2012.  I received an electronic ARC of this book through netgalley.com 

Synopsis: Steve is a 14 year old boy whose mom disappears. The police are called in and conclude that she has left the family – run away. Everything falls apart for him after that. School is a disaster--he's failing his classes, and ever since an ill-fated attempt to save a bird from a frozen pond, bullies call him "Duck Boy."

During the first Christmas since his mother’s disappearance, Steve’s dad has to travel for work, just to keep his job, and Steve is forced to stay with his Great Aunt Shannon. Aunt Shannon introduces Steve to alchemy, and shows him that alchemy may have caused his mother's disappearance. Then his great aunt disappears while she is experimenting.

Steve begins his own experiments, and finds his philosophers stone, and through an accident discovers that the two most important women in his life have gotten lost in an in-between dimension. In order to save them, he must keep his promise to the lord of the “world of pieces” and give himself to the world. Steve decides to jump into the world to keep his promise quickly and completely, just as he did when he saved the duck. He finds that instead of dissolving him, the alternate dimension is now at his command.

Review: This is a great story about a misfit boy whose world is turned upside down when his mother disappears. His father is distraught and doesn't know how to cope and so the two of them are just floundering through life, until Steve is sent to stay at his Great Aunt's house for Christmas. That's when his world changes.

Through his fantastical adventure to save his mother, his Great Aunt and a new friend Steve finds his inner strength and his self esteem.  He learns that he has skills that not everyone else has and his determination and will are stronger than he ever thought.

A fun, fantastical adventure and coming of age story.

(62) Explosive Eighteen

Title: Explosive Eighteen: A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovich
Publisher: Bantam
352 pages
Genre: Fiction

Synopsis: Before Stephanie can even step foot off Flight 127 Hawaii to Newark, she’s knee deep in trouble. Her dream vacation turned into a nightmare, and she’s flying back to New Jersey solo. Worse still, her seatmate never returned to the plane after the L.A. layover. Now he’s dead—and a ragtag collection of thugs and psychos, not to mention the FBI, are all looking for a photograph he was supposed to be carrying.

Only one person has seen the missing photo: Stephanie Plum. Now she’s the target. An FBI sketch artist helps Stephanie re-create the person in the photo, but Stephanie’s descriptive skills are lacking. Until she can improve them, she’ll need to watch her back.

Over at the bail bonds agency things are going from bad to worse. Vinnie’s temporary HQ has gone up in smoke. Stephanie’s wheelman, Lula, falls for their largest skip yet. Lifetime arch nemesis Joyce Barnhardt moves into Stephanie’s apartment. And everyone wants to know what happened in Hawaii?

Morelli, Trenton’s hottest cop, isn’t talking about Hawaii. Ranger, the man of mystery, isn’t talking about Hawaii. And all Stephanie is willing to say about her Hawaiian vacation is . . . It’s complicated.

Review: The word that always comes to mind after reading a Stephanie Plumb book is mind candy.  There really is no substance just wacky fun.  The characters are like your favorite pair of pants that are broken in, in all the right places.  The problem is that they are getting worn pretty thin.  I really need her to throw a wrench in the works.

After 18 books that are pretty much all the same.  Bumbling bounty hunter bungles captures, eats lots of cluck in the bucket and tools around with her sidekick Lula, and is caught between hunky Morelli the cop and spicy dangerous Ranger the ex special forces bounty hunter. Oh and did I mention everyone who seems to be on her capture list is crazy?  They are all quirky and nuts.  This book was just as fun but I would like something new to happen.  Which I'm hoping was briefly foreshadowed in this book when she realized she may have goofed on her birth control! A baby Plum would be an interesting addition...not to mention she probably doesn't know whose kid it would be...flip a coin, Ranger or Morelli

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

(61) The Magdalen Martyrs

Title: The Magdalen Martyrs (Jack Taylor) by Ken Bruen
Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur
274 Pages
Genre: Noir fiction

Synopsis: Jack Taylor is walking the delicate edge of a sobriety he doesn't trust when his phone rings. He's in debt to a Galway tough named Bill Cassell, what the locals call a "hard man." Bill did Jack a big favor a while back; the trouble is, he never lets a favor go unreturned.
Jack is amazed when Cassell simply asks him to track down a woman, now either dead or very old, who long ago helped his mother escape from the notorious Magdalen laundry, where young wayward girls were imprisoned and abused. Jack doesn't like the odds of finding the woman, but counts himself lucky that the task is at least on the right side of the law.

Until he spends a few days spinning his wheels and is dragged in front of Cassell for a quick reminder of his priorites. Bill's goons do a little spinning of their own, playing a game of Russian roulette a little too close to the back of Jack's head. It's only blind luck and the mercy of a god he no longer trusts that land Jack back on the street rather than face down in a cellar with a bullet in his skull. He's got one chance to stay alive: find this woman.

Unfortunately, he can't escape his own curiosity, and an unnerving hunch quickly turns into a solid fact: just who Jack's looking for, and why, aren't nearly what they seem.

Review: I thought I would spend a little more time with Jack Taylor and I'm not sure I'm happy I did. This series is dark and not in a spooky, creepy kind of way, just a sad, lonely depressing kind of way.  I'm not sure how much longer I can stomach this series but I have two more books so I will tackle those and hope there is some redemption.

Jack is a broken man, and if the alcohol doesn't kill him, someone else surely will.  He used to be a good cop now he just stumbles through life making drastic mistakes and taking drastic measures to clean up his mess.  That's how he became indebted to Bill Cassell in the first place.

Jack's saving grace is books and if you ever wanted a small sampling of all different books this is where to find them because he is often quoting different books and authors to get him through his life.

The Magdalen story line is very interesting - The Magdalen Martyrs were unwed mothers who were placed in a Franciscan home until they had their babies.  They were routinely tortured and beaten as sinners and the worst offender was a woman they called Lucifer.  Jack is charged with finding a woman who used to work in this home.  Throughout the book are little stories about what went on in the home which were sad and dark but gave the story depth between the drunken, drug induced binges.

All in all I felt this one was better than the last two - the pacing was better and it wasn't as all over the place.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

(60) The Killing of the Tinkers

Title: The Killing of the Tinkers: A Novel (Jack Taylor) by Ken Bruen
Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur
244 Pages
Genre: Noir mystery fiction

Synopsis: When Jack Taylor blew town at the end ofThe Guards his alcoholism was a distant memory and sober dreams of a new life in London were shining in his eyes. In the opening pages of The Killing of the Tinkers Jack's back in Galway a year later with a new leather jacket on his back, a pack of smokes in his pocket, a few grams of coke in his waistband, and a pint of Guinness on his mind. So much for new beginnings.

Before long he's sunk into his old patterns, lifting his head from the bar only every few days, appraising his surroundings for mere minutes and then descending deep into the alcoholic, drug-induced fugue he prefers to the real world. But a big gypsy walks into the bar one day during a moment of Jack's clarity and changes all that with a simple request. Jack knows the look in this man's eyes, a look of hopelessness mixed with resolve topped off with a quietly simmering rage; he's seen it in the mirror. Recognizing a kindred soul, Jack agrees to help him, knowing but not admitting that getting involved is going to lead to more bad than good. But in Jack Taylor's world bad and good are part and parcel of the same lost cause, and besides, no one ever accused Jack of having good sense.

Review: What do you know another drunk detective...but unlike Harry Hole, from Redbreast by Jo Nesbo Jack doesn't go on the wagon. In fact he is so deeply under the wagon I'm surprised he functions.  Every time he wakes up without a hangover he is stumped.  Fast paced, hard hitting and dark this Irish mystery can leave you scratching your head if you don't know or can't pick up some of the slang. I'm really trying to like Jack but its difficult, he is almost beyond redemption in his spiral downward. Even his friends are a quirky mess.

Jack is approached by the head of the Gypsy's to help solve the murders of several of his kin because the police don't seem to care.  Of course this plunges Jack into a crazy and unfortunate series of events that leaves him even more broken, and on the edge. I don't feel sorry for Jack and by the end of the book I am almost starting to like him.  I'm not really sure about this series...I guess I will have to take a few more books about Jack for a spin before I make up my mind.

(59) The Redbreast

Title: The Redbreast: A Harry Hole Novel by Jo Nesbo
Publisher: Harper Collins
553 Pages
Genre: Nordic Mystery

Synopsis: Detective Harry Hole embarrassed the force, and for his sins he’s been reassigned to mundane surveillance tasks. But while monitoring neo-Nazi activities in Oslo, Hole is inadvertently drawn into a mystery with deep roots in Norway’s dark past, when members of the government willingly collaborated with Nazi Germany. More than sixty years later, this black mark won’t wash away—and disgraced old soldiers who once survived a brutal Russian winter are being murdered, one by one. Now, with only a stained and guilty conscience to guide him, an angry, alcoholic, error-prone policeman must make his way safely past the traps and mirrors of a twisted criminal mind. For a conspiracy is taking rapid and hideous shape around Hole . . . and Norway’s darkest hour may be still to come.

Review: I wasn't quite sure about this book in the beginning.  I think I'm getting tired of burned out drunk detectives, but this one surprised me.  Flipping back and forth between the present and the past we learn about a dark spot in Norway's history and what can push a man over the edge.  It was a little confusing at first trying to figure out how things tied together but as you get further along it really takes off.  I really started to like Harry by the end of this book and look forward to the next one. He was flawed but he wasn't broken, and he learns how to play the political game very quickly.  I also like that there were strings left hanging for Harry to pick up in the next novel.  It wasn't all neatly wrapped up in the end but you also weren't left with a cliff hanger, it was just a path untraveled.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

(58) Altar of Bones


Title: Altar of Bones by Philip Carter
Publisher: Pocket Books
672 pages
Genre: Mystery


Synopsis: "They didn’t have to kill him…He never drank from the altar of bones.” Cryptic dying words from a murdered homeless woman in present-day San Francisco unlock a long-buried secret that alters history. Now, a pair of ruthless assassins are sent to cut the few living “loose ends.” And a young, resourceful woman on the run encounters a determined man with his own connected past and vengeful agenda. Forced to partner for survival and answers, a fast-paced and deadly game of cat and mouse ensues, whisking the duo from the winding streets of Paris to the faded palaces of Budapest to the frozen lakes of Mongolia...where destiny, passion, and further betrayal await them.

Review: Ancient secrets, hidden treasures, and the fountain of youth all things that people would kill to learn more about.  The secret of the Altar of Bones has been kept by Zoe's family for generations, but Zoe has never heard of it.  A murdered homeless woman who she finds out is her grandmother who she thought had been dead  for years leaves her a cryptic note and clues to find a treasure that others will kill for.

Ry, an undercover DEA agent comes home from an assignment to find that his father is dead, and has told his brother an impossible tale of treason and murder. Before he can find out more assassins attempt to kill him leading Ry fighting for his life and into Zoe's path where they must fight for survival together and discover the location and the secret of the Altar of Bones, and who is trying to kill them for it.

Fast paced, with great twists and turns this was a great read.  What would you do if you found the fountain of youth but with long life also came insanity...would you still drink?

Teaser Tuesday 9/4/12



Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


    "The problem is that if all the colleagues of this trigger happy liaison officer of yours consider the promotion conspicuous and start to think of the title as a window-dressing, then we haven't got very far. That is, we haven't got anywhere at all. If they suspect a cover-up, rumours will immediately begin to fly, and we will give the impression that we have consciously tried to hide the fact that we, you, this policeman, committed a blunder."  
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