Sunday, July 20, 2014

War of the Roses: Stormbird by Conn Iggulden

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Stormbird
by Conn Iggulden


ISBN-13: 978-0399165368
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Released: July 8, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Goodreads:
In 1437, the Lancaster king Henry VI ascends the throne of England after years of semi-peaceful regency. Henry is famed more for his gentle and pious nature than his father’s famous battlefield exploits; already, his dependence on his closest men has stirred whispers of weakness at court.

A secret truce negotiated with France to trade British territories for a royal bride—Margaret of Anjou—sparks revolts across English territory. The rival royal line, the House of York, sees the chaos brought on by Henry’s weakness and with it not only opportunity in the monarch, but also their patriotic duty in ousting an ineffectual king. As storm clouds gather over England, King Henry and his supporters find themselves besieged abroad and at home.


My Review:
Stormbird is a historical novel set in France and England from 1443 to 1454 AD. This book is the first in a historical series on the Wars of the Roses.

The time period and the characters were vividly described, immersing me in the story and making me feel like this was how it could have really happened. The characters were complex and realistic, and I always understood why they were acting the way they did. But I didn't like any of them enough to connect/bond/root for them.

The descriptions of life and war at that time were vivid, gritty, and sometimes crude. I'm not sure about how historically accurate this novel is since it's not a time I'm familiar with. I did question some aspects, especially how the marriage-by-proxy was so surprising to the participants.

There was some bad language--and not just "mild" bad words. There was a short sex scene, but it wasn't described in erotic language. There were a number of detailed, gory torture and killing scenes. The scene where an honorable man has his head sawed off while he's still alive just had too much detail for me.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Crime Rib by Leslie Budewitz

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Crime Rib
by Leslie Budewitz


ISBN-13: 9780425259559
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: July 1, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Food Preneurs, a popular TV cooking show, has decided to feature Jewel Bay, Montana in an upcoming episode. But when the show's producer is killed in a hit-and-run accident, gourmet food market owner Erin Murphy has to step in to help organize the main feature--a steak-cooking competition between three of Jewel Bay’s hottest chefs.

Then one of the contending cooks is found dead. With all the drama going on behind the scenes, it’s hard to figure out who didn’t have a motive to off the contestant. To keep the town’s reputation from crashing and burning on national television, Erin will have to grill some suspects to smoke out the killer.


My Review:
Crime Rib is a cozy mystery. It's the second book in the series. You don't need to read the previous book to understand this one, and this book didn't spoil the previous whodunit.

The mystery was clue-based, and there were plenty of clues and several suspects. The reader isn't told the critical clue that narrows the suspect list down to whodunit until we get a cozy-plot based clue that pretty much does it instead. The heroine doesn't even realize the significance of this critical clue until after she's confronted by whodunit.

The heroine was generally a nice person, but I don't really like heroines who justify breaking and entering in order to gain clues. The other characters were interesting and varied. There were some nice details about locally-made foods.

There was a minor amount of bad language. There was no sex. Overall, I'd recommend this mystery novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Grace Against the Clock by Julie Hyzy

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Grace Against the Clock
by Julie Hyzy


ISBN-13: 9780425259672
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: July 1, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
The town clock is in desperate need of repair, and a benefit to raise money to restore the beautiful timepiece is being held at Marshfield Manor. Grace Wheaton, the mansion’s curator and manager, is on hand to help the event run smoothly.

When one of the organizers collapses on stage during the festivities, Grace suspects something was going on behind the scenes. The victim never left the room, yet the murder must have happened while he was at a crowded party with no enemy in sight. Grace must track down the secrets of the past before the murderer strikes again.


My Review:
Grace Against the Clock is a cozy mystery. It's the fifth book in the series. You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one, and this one didn't spoil the whodunits in the previous books.

This mystery had less involvement at the Manor and more time on the renovations on Grace's historic house. I enjoyed the characters and how Grace is growing as a person. The mystery was clue-based, but there weren't enough clues to firmly say it was one person and not another until Grace discovers the final clue. There was enough information to put whodunit on a suspect list, though. The story thrived on discovering how the murder was accomplished as much as on trying to discover whodunit.

There was no sex and no bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting, well-written novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Earth Girl by Janet Edwards

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Earth Girl
by Janet Edwards


ISBN-13: 9780007443499
Paperback: 358 pages
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Released: August 16, 2012

Source: Borrowed from my local library.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
In 2788, only the Handicapped live on Earth. While everyone else portals between worlds, 18-year-old Jarra is among the one in a thousand people born with an immune system that cannot survive on other planets. Sent to Earth at birth to save her life, she has been abandoned by her parents. She can’t travel to other worlds, but she can watch their vids, and she knows all the jokes they make. She’s an ‘ape’, a ‘throwback’, but this is one ape girl who won’t give in.

Jarra invents a fake background for herself – as a normal child of Military parents – and joins a class of norms that is on Earth to excavate the ruins of the old cities. When an ancient skyscraper collapses, burying another research team, Jarra’s role in their rescue puts her in the spotlight. To make life more complicated, she finds herself falling in love with one of her classmates – a norm from another planet.


My Review:
Earth Girl is a young adult science fiction novel. Jarra started out with some issues. She wanted to get people to see her for who she really is and then confront them with their prejudices about "Handicapped" people. Only she gets to know the students from other worlds and starts to like them despite her own prejudices. She's stuck in a piles of lies. How could her new friends ever trust or like her once the truth comes out?

The world-building is worked naturally into the story and created a complex and interesting future without getting too bogged down in how everything worked. However, when I started re-reading the novel, I realized that I could skim over a good bit of the story because there was a lot of worldbuilding. The details brought the world vividly alive in my imagination, but they didn't need to be read twice.

The suspense came from the physical danger of the job and the relationship tensions. The characters were complex and reacted realistically to events. Jarra had a believable but unexpected coping reaction near the middle of the book. I wasn't initially sure that I liked the twist, but it worked out satisfactorily.

Some sex was implied. There was one instance of swearing and a minor amount of made up bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Mrs. McGinty's Dead by Agatha Christie

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Mrs. McGinty's Dead
by Agatha Christie


ISBN-13: 9780062074089
Mass Market Paperback:
272 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
First Released: 1951

Source: Borrowed from my local library.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Mrs. McGinty died from a brutal blow to the back of her head. Suspicion falls immediately on her shifty lodger, James Bentley, whose clothes reveal traces of the victim’s blood and hair. Yet something is amiss: Bentley just doesn’t seem like a murderer.

Could the answer lie in an article clipped from a newspaper two days before the death? With a desperate killer still free, Hercule Poirot will have to discover whodunit before someone else dies.


My Review:
Mrs. McGinty's Dead is a historical mystery set in 1951 in England (though it was a contemporary mystery when it was written). I thought it was humorous what Poirot had to "suffer" through to solve this mystery. He had to stay with a very unorganized and unskilled-at-cooking family. Mrs. Oliver's situation was also funny.

On the other hand, I found the mystery confusing. The whodunit and how was complicated. Especially in the case of the first murder, it didn't seem to me that it was realistic that whodunit would have gone unnoticed. However, the clues were all there, even though the major ones might only be understood by the English of 1951. I certainly was left thinking, "Huh? I don't know anyone who did that" over something Poirot thought "everyone knows" (relating to names). Ah, well, learned something new.

There was no sex. There was a very minor amount of explicit bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this novel to Agatha Christie fans.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Thread End by Amanda Lee

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Thread End
by Amanda Lee


ISBN-13: 9780451467393
Mass Market Paperback:
336 pages
Publisher: Obsidian Mystery
Released: June 3, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Embroidery shop owner Marcy Singer can’t wait to see the new exhibit at the Tallulah Falls museum on antique tapestries and textiles, including beautiful kilim rugs. But her enthusiasm quickly turns to terror when, the day after the exhibition opens, she discovers a dead body behind her store wrapped up in a rug from the exhibition. The rug isn't the only piece missing from the exhibition, either!

Along with her boyfriend, Detective Ted Nash, Marcy must unravel an intricate tapestry of deception to find a desperate killer.


My Review:
Thread End is a cozy mystery. It's the seventh in a series, but you don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this book didn't spoil the whodunits of the previous mysteries.

The mystery was clue-based. It was a unique idea to have the art thief dead yet the art still stolen. I started suspecting whodunit about halfway through, but I only started feeling confident of whodunit shortly before the heroine realized who it was. The characters were interesting, and the heroine and her boyfriend were generally nice characters with a sense of humor.

There were no sex scenes. There was a very minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting mystery.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Tempest in a Teapot by Amanda Cooper

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Tempest in a Teapot
by Amanda Cooper


ISBN-13: 9780425265239
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: June 3, 2014

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
When her fashionable Manhattan restaurant goes under, Sophie Taylor retreats to her grandmother’s cozy shop, Auntie Rose’s Victorian Teahouse, where serenity is steeped to perfection in one of her many antique teapots. The last thing Sophie expects is a bustling calendar of teahouse events, like her old friend Cissy Peterson’s upcoming bridal shower.

Not everyone is pleased with the bride-to-be’s choice of venue—like Cissy’s grandmother, who owns a competing establishment, La Belle Epoque, and has held a long-simmering grudge against Rose for stealing her beau sixty years ago. Tensions reach a boiling point when Cissy’s fiancĂ©’s mother dies while sampling scones at La Belle Epoque. Now, to help her friend, Sophie will have to bag a killer before more of the guest list becomes a hit list…


My Review:
Tempest in a Teapot is a cozy mystery. I almost didn't read past the prologue as I wasn't sure I'd like the heroine, but I'm glad I gave it a chance. The characters acted realistically and were more developed than in most cozy mysteries. The heroine was a mature person and someone I enjoyed reading about. I liked that she was logical and thought out all the possibilities rather than just assuming the obvious.

The mystery was a clue-based puzzle mystery. I had some strong suspicions about how everything was connected, but I wasn't sure of exactly whodunit until the big reveal. Not many authors can give enough clues to make things guessable and still keep me uncertain until the end, so excellent job! I look forward to reading more of this author's mysteries.

There was no sex. There was some bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this complex mystery.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.