Thursday, April 30, 2015

Audio Book Review: The Bat: The First Inspector Harry Hole Novel

Title: The Bat: The First Inspector Harry Hole Novel by Jo Nesbo
Publisher: Random House Audio
Length: 9 hours 39 minutes
Narrator: John Lee
Format: Audio
Genre: Nordic mystery

Synopsis: Before Harry took on the neo-Nazi gangs of Oslo, before he met Rakel, before The Snowman tried to take everything he held dear, he went to Australia. Harry Hole is sent to Sydney to investigate the murder of Inger Holter, a young Norwegian girl who was working in a bar. Initially sidelined as an outsider, Harry becomes central to the Australian police investigation when they start to notice a number of unsolved rape and murder cases around the country. The victims were usually young blondes. Inger had a number of admirers, each with his own share of secrets, but there is no obvious suspect and the pattern of the other crimes seems impossible to crack. Then a circus performer is brutally murdered, followed by yet another young woman. Harry is in a race against time to stop a highly intelligent killer who is bent on total destruction.

(25)Review: I struggled with the Narrator of this book.  There were times I felt like I was listening to a sportscaster, the inflections and ways of speaking were sometimes distracting.  John Lee narrates the first 2 books in this series and then it switches to someone else so I will be interested to see how the other narrator performs with the same character.

Although this is the first book int he Harry Hole series, it wasn't released in the USA until the last few years.  I think most of the people who have read this book and reviewed it have already read a Harry Hole novel and love this character therefore are excited to read about his beginnings.  Unfortunately this is the first Harry book I have read and I found it only so so.  I'm not sure if it was the narrator or the story but I found that it didn't hold my attention as long as many other Nordic Mysteries.  They usually are a bit slower and darker than US mysteries but this one seemed to wander around having a hard time figuring out where it needs to go. Despite this I'm gonna stick with Harry though since I have high hopes for later books.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Book Review: Blood Memory

Cat finds herself battling with alcohol, plagued by nightmares, and entangled with a married detective. Then, in her childhood bedroom, some spilled chemicals reveal two bloody footprints
Title: Blood Memory: A Novel by Greg Iles
Publisher: Pocket Star
Pages: 800 pages
Format: Paperback
Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Synopsis: Some memories live deep in the soul, indelible and dangerous, waiting to be resurrected....Forensic expert "Cat" Ferry is suspended from an FBI task force when the world-class odontologist is inexplicably stricken with panic attacks and blackouts while investigating a chain of brutal murders. Returning to her Mississippi hometown, Cat finds herself battling with alcohol, plagued by nightmares, and entangled with a married detective. Then, in her childhood bedroom, some spilled chemicals reveal two bloody footprints...and the trauma of her father's murder years earlier comes flooding back. Facing the secrets of her past, Cat races to connect them to a killer's present-day violence. But what emerges is the frightening possibility that Cat herself has blood on her hands....

(24) Review: I found a copy of this at our beach house and picked it up for something to read while we were there - I couldn't put it down.  I loved it.  Cat is a mess, personally and now her professional career is taking a dive.  Suffering from panic attacks at the last two crime scenes Cat is struggling to get control of her life.  She is pregnant by her married boyfriend, trying to withdraw from alcohol and is having flashbacks of her fathers death. It seems that the story she has been told all her life is not true and the truth is muddled up in her head with blackouts, manic episodes, and alcohol.  Now the police think she may have some inside information into the serial murders that are taking place or she may actually be the perpetrator. The truth however is far more disturbing.

I loved how this book unraveled, as Cat tries to piece together what is going on with her. Iles has hooked me with his subtle writing, it was like peeling an onion with each layer you find something new.  His descriptions of the South and southern culture bring the bayou right to you and allow you to feel the humidity in the air and the deeply secretive ways of many of the little towns near New Orleans.

I am also impressed that Iles has been able to capture the fear, confusion and insight of a female character which seems so difficult for so many male writers who try to have a female protagonist.  Kudos Iles I will be seeking you out for more! So glad I found this one.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

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!
My Teaser this week is from Blood Memory: A Novel by Greg Iles

"Stepping around Natriece, I look down at the luminescence on the floor. It's not diffuse, as I had thought, but well defined. Suddenly an eerie numbness spreads through my body. 

I'm looking at a footprint."

Friday, April 17, 2015

Review: Double Dip Feelings & A Terrible Thing Happened

Title: Double-Dip Feelings: Stories to Help Children Understand Emotions by Barbara Cain
Publisher: Magination
Format: paperback
Pages: 32 pages 
Genre: Kids

Synopsis: This volume is designed to help children understand emotions, and shows that it is possible to experience two contrasting feelings at the same time, such as feeling both proud and scared on the first day of school. Questions are raised throughout the book to help them cope with the tugs and pulls of emotions that simultaneous and dissimilar feelings can produce. This second edition contains new illustrations.

(22)Review: This book helps children understand that it is possible to feel two ways at the same time. Feelings are complex things and when children have conflicting feeling such as when they are dealing with moving to a foster home or to a new adoptive home from their biological home there can be excitement and sadness.  This book can help facilitate the conversation on having these conflicting feelings and that being perfectly normal.  Nice illustrations and easy to understand text.

Title: A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret Holmes
Publisher: Magination
Format: Paperback
Pages: 20
Genre: Kids

Synopsis: Sherman Smith saw the most terrible thing happen. At first he tried to forget about it, but something inside him started to bother him. He felt nervous and had bad dreams. Then he met someone who helped him talk about the terrible thing, and made him feel better.

(23)Review: Sherman Smith saw a terrible thing and he tries really hard to forget about it but it just makes him angry, gives him nightmares and makes his stomach hurt. When he finally starts talking about what he saw his life becomes better, his nightmares go away and he realizes he isn't as angry.

Research has shown that children who have witnessed violence or trauma are actually affected as strongly or worse than the primary victims. Children who have experienced trauma or witnessed violent deaths can be helped by talking to a parent, teacher, or other adult about their experience. This story can help children to talk about things that are bothering them.  Maybe their terrible thing isn't is different or not as bad as Sherman's but if its keeping them up all night or making them unhappy if they share it and talk about their feelings they will be more likely to move through it.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Audio Book Review: The Tomb (Repairman Jack #1)

Title: The Tomb (Adversary Cycle/Repairman Jack) by F. Paul Wilson
Publisher: Audible Studios/Tor Books
Format: Audio Book
Narrator: Joe Barrett
Length: 15 hours 33 minutes
Pages: 448 pages
Genre: thriller

Synopsis: Much to the chagrin of his girlfriend, Gia, Repairman Jack doesn't deal with electronic appliances-he fixes situations for people, often putting himself in deadly danger. His latest project is recovering a stolen necklace, which carries with it an ancient curse that may unleash a horde of Bengali demons. Jack is used to danger, but this time Gia's daughter Vicky is threatened. Can Jack overcome the curse of the yellow necklace and bring Vicky safely back home?

(21) Review: Joe Barrett is a fabulous narrator.  He changes his voice allowing the characters to come alive which helps with the ease of figuring out who is talking.

Jack is not a nice guy.  He is a fixer or situations, and isn't a stranger to violence and death.

Jack is hesitant to take the case of a shady man who wants to recover a stolen necklace of no value but figures its easy money.  He takes the case finds the necklace but soon finds that this case and an other case he is working on to try to woo his girlfriend Gia back are connected and may connected to an ancient cures. Now Gia's daughter Vicky is threatened and Jack can't let anything happen to her.

There are chapters of this book that take place back in time in India to try to bring understanding as to why this family is even attached to these demons but the majority of the book centers around the present. Jack reminds me a bit of John Connolly's, Charlie Parker, except that I don't think Jack deals with the supernatural all that often but since this is only the first book in the series I really can't say that for sure.  Either way Repairman Jack is a very interesting character, he lives off the grid, helps people with their problems and can be lethal. He loves Vicky and Vicky seems to understand Jack better than Gia, and trusts him to keep her safe.

While this is supposed to be a horror book it reads more like a detective novel which may be why I make the connection to the Charlie Parker series.  I really liked this book and Repairman Jack. His attachment to Gia and her daughter keep him human and his character believable.

The writing keeps you wanting to know more, it flows nicely and gives you just enough to keep the story moving forward.  There is apparently a lot of time between this book and the next in the Repairman Jack series but lucky for me I don't have to wait.  There are quite a few more in this series and they are being added to my TBR list immediately.

The main issue I had with this book is that I couldn't listen to it fast enough.  I almost wish that it had been a paperback so that I could have flipped forward or read at my own speed instead of someone elses.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

ARC Review: Normal: A novel

Title: Normal: A Novel by Graeme Cameron
Publisher: Mira
Format: Kindle - advance e-galley
Pages: 304 pages
Genre: Humor, fiction, psychological murder mystery

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: "The truth is I hurt people. It's what I do. It's all I do. It's all I've ever done."

He lives in your community, in a nice house with a well-tended garden. He shops in your grocery store, bumping shoulders with you and apologizing with a smile. He drives beside you on the highway, politely waving you into the lane ahead of him.

What you don't know is that he has an elaborate cage built into a secret basement under his garage. And the food that he's carefully shopping for is to feed a young woman he's holding there against her will—one in a string of many, unaware of the fate that awaits her.

This is how it's been for a long time. It's normal…and it works. Perfectly.

Then he meets the checkout girl from the 24-hour grocery. And now the plan, the hunts, the room…the others. He doesn't need any of them anymore. He needs only her. But just as he decides to go straight, the police start to close in. He might be able to cover his tracks, except for one small problem—he still has someone trapped in his garage.

Discovering his humanity couldn't have come at a worse time.

(20)Review: Fast paced, weird, funny and tragic all at the same time this is a great black comedy.  Never did you think you would be routing for a serial killer but there is something about Graeme's killer that makes you start routing for him.

I couldn't put this down once I started it and finished it in a few days - it may have been sooner if I didn't have such a busy life that kept getting in the way! I've heard this book compared to the series Dexter, and I can see the similarities since for once we don't want the serial killer caught!

Graeme's killer undergoes a transformation during this book and while its happening you aren't sure if it is a good thing or a bad thing.  I just found this book so different and entertaining.  I didn't want it to end and when it did I was left wishing I had someone to discuss it with.  I needed to talk about that ending and what it meant and what if and oh so may things.  I haven't really loved a book as much as this in a long time.  It was unique and fun, creepy and is bound to stay with me for a long time.  I am definitely recommending this to anyone who likes crime fiction and mystery books.  Bravo Graeme!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Review: The Infinite: Gates of Thread and Stone, book 2

Title: The Infinite: Gates of Thread and Stone, Book 2 by Lori M Lee
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Format: Audio Book
Time: 9 hrs. 39 minutes
Narrator: Jessica Almasy
Genre: YA

Synopsis: The walls of Ninurta keep its citizens safe.
Kai always believed the only danger to the city came from within. Now, with a rebel force threatening the fragile government, the walls have become more of a prison than ever.

To make matters worse, as Avan explores his new identity as an Infinite, Kai struggles to remind him what it means to be human. And she fears her brother, Reev, is involved with the rebels. With the two people she cares about most on opposite sides of a brewing war, Kai will do whatever it takes to bring peace. But she’s lost her power to manipulate the threads of time, and she learns that a civil war might be the beginning of something far worse that will crumble not only Ninurta’s walls but also the entire city.

 (19)Review: The pace of this book was much better than the first one or perhaps I just got used to it.  I didn't feel like I was lost and listening to someone read to me in a foreign language like I did at the beginning of the last book.

Kai's life has gotten very complicated since the first book. She is struggling to come to terms with who she is and what it means.  The two men she loves her brother and Avan are both struggling as well for different reasons. This book picks up only a few months after the last book ends so everyone is still reeling from the events that took place in book 1.

When Kai is given the opportunity to travel to a new kingdom out across the Outlands she jumps at the chance to put a little distance between herself and her problems.  This new land is very different and beautiful but the people and the culture are strange and not always very welcoming.  While there she discovers a new threat, a mystery of who these people were, how they have magic and what is going on in another city nearby that is driving their people insane. She also discovers much more about where she comes from and what she is capable of which is a good thing since there is definitely more going on in this new city than meets the eye.

This book was a great sequel to Gates of Thread and Stone. Full of action and intrigue.  I loved the relationship between Kai and her brother Reev, as Reev struggles against his baby sister who he raised, as she grows up and become a woman. Kai's transformation from defiant young girl to a powerful woman who begins to realize what she could be if she would let herself is well done and believable. I really liked this sequel and felt that was just as good as the first and left me wanting even more.  Can't wait for the 3rd.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Review: Insurgent (book 2 of the Divergent Series)

Title: Insurgent (Divergent Series) by Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 525 pages
Genre: YA Dystopian

Synopsis: War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

(18) Review: After the events in Divergent, Tris, Four and a few stragglers have escaped and are taking shelter trying to pull themselves together. Insurgent picks up right where Divergent left off which was nice not to lose any time between stories.

Similar to Katniss in the Hunger Game Trilogy Tris is having a hard time with her part in the events that took place in the previous book.  She can't hold a gun, she struggles with the decisions that are being made around her. Tris feels that there is more going on than and follows Marcus the Abnegation leader overhearing that there is some piece of information that is being kept secret which may have led to Candor's leader to kill people to protect.

I really liked this book there were lots of twists and turns and while the beginning was more setting things up by the end you were whizzing along with so many plot twists that sometimes I wasn't sure which was real and which was a simulation.  There were a lot of different characters introduced and some old ones that surprise you, many with a lot of depth of character.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Review: The Witch of Napoli

historical fiction based on Italian medium Eusapia Palladino
Title: The Witch of Napoli by Michael Schmicker
Publisher: Palladino books
Format: ebook
Pages: 342 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction,

I received an advanced e-copy of this book from the publisher through

Synopsis: Italy 1899: Fiery-tempered, seductive medium Alessandra Poverelli levitates a table at a Spiritualist séance in Naples. A reporter photographs the miracle, and wealthy, skeptical, Jewish psychiatrist Camillo Lombardi arrives in Naples to investigate. When she materializes the ghost of his dead mother, he risks his reputation and fortune to finance a tour of the Continent, challenging the scientific and academic elite of Europe to test Alessandra's mysterious powers.

She will help him rewrite Science. His fee will help her escape her sadistic husband Pigotti and start a new life in Rome. Newspapers across Europe trumpet her Cinderella story and baffling successes, and the public demands to know - does the "Queen of Spirits" really have supernatural powers?

Nigel Huxley is convinced she's simply another vulgar, Italian trickster. The icy, aristocratic detective for England's Society for the Investigation of Mediums launches a plot to trap and expose her. Meanwhile, the Vatican is quietly digging up her childhood secrets, desperate to discredit her supernatural powers; her abusive husband Pigotti is coming to kill her; and the tarot cards predict catastrophe.  Inspired by the true-life story of celebrated Italian medium Eusapia Palladino (1854-1918).

(17)Review: The cover of this book didn't draw me in, although the description of the book left me intrigued, so I was unsure whether or not I would like this but from page one I was riveted. Alessandra and Tomaso really keep you interested and moving the story along in this well written novel about the relationship between religion, science and the paranormal.

Lombardi wants to study Alessandra since she is the first spiritualist who he believes may be real, his nemesis Huxley is shamed by Alessandra and makes it his mission to discredit and ruin her. Both men's reputations hinge on them being right and Alessandra being either real or a fake.  Meanwhile the vatican is upset with her "powers" and also want to discredit her but not in the name of science but in the name of religion, in order to keep and bring people to church they feel they have to discredit anyone who shows any paranormal power believing that only the church has access to the teachings of the spiritual.

Michael Schmicker does a great job of keeping you interested, allowing the mystery of whether or not Alessandra really does have powers or if she is what everyone believes her to be, just a talented trickster. Just when you think you have made your mind up about her the story shifts just a bit and leads you down another path, which leads to a genuinely intriguing story.

Tomaso's observations and genuine care of Alessandra no matter, what bring a source of humanity, innocence and compassion to a story that is filled with characters who you aren't really sure about. Are they good, are they bad, what is their agenda? And everyone seems to have an agenda. Even eventually Tomaso seems to have an agenda but it doesn't take stepping on someone else to achieve it which is what makes him one of the truly likable characters in this novel.

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