Ramblings of an Avid Reader

I'm a QUILTBAG reader, writer, and book hoarder.i've got a passion for the unknown, and studied Religion, Nursing, Philosophy, and Psychology in University. I run a small company making decadent bath & body products. 2 Wyrd Sisters is the place to start spoiling yourself and others. I'm a reviewer at Net Galley, and a writer at Pop Culture Beast.

Professional Reader

Reviews Published

The Bone Witch

The Bone Witch - Rin Chupeco

The Bone Witch, Rin Chupeco's latest novel is striking. I haven't read anything quite like it, and found it wonderful.

 

Tea can raise the dead. But raising her brother was an accident. Many women are asha, those who can control elemental magic, but very few can practice necromancy. Fortunately though, Mykaela, the current Bone Witch was near and took Tea under her protection.

 

Tea trains in the ways of an asha, which is quite similar to the training of a geisha. They learn history, music, performance, current events, and how to control their elemental magic. And when they finish training, they are able to wear their ceremonial hua, which is different for every asha, designed strictly for her based on her abilities, her training, and her personality.

 

The story is told in two points of view, from the bard who found Tea in the desert, and from Tea herself. And it's very obvious who is speaking at each time, which makes it easier to follow. There isn't lots of flip flopping between POV's, and it helps contribute to the flow of the story.

 

There are some very pertinent topics discussed in The Bone Witch, including that of toxic masculinity. Only women can become asha, men who have the potential must become soldiers. This is addressed well in the book, with one of Tea's friends proving that just because he is male, doesn't mean that asha training is for the weak.

 

There is a ton of world building, and it does get bogged down in details. There is so much description and page time dedicated to Tea's asha training, and not nearly as much fighting daeva as teased. That being said, and me being a costuming/history/sociology nerd, I liked the slow parts. The details will probably come in handy in the rest of the series, and was worth the slog.

 

The ending left me wanting much more. I wanted to know more about what happened to Tea in those unmentioned years. Why she became hard, what happened to her brother, and what her new determined plan is. Rin Chupeco has set a very ambitious bar, with the foreshadowing of what is to come.

 

If you're a fan of (implied) Asian history, geisha training, necromancy, coming-of-age stories all with a bit of supernatural demon-ish critters thrown in, you may well like it. But be forewarned, there is a lot of worldbuilding and description, and this may turn off some readers. But give it a chance, you may wind up liking it.

All Our Wrong Todays

All Our Wrong Todays: A Novel - Elan Mastai

All Our Wrong Todays is the first novel by Elan Mastai, and is receiving serious praise. Well deserved praise in my estimation.

 

Tom Barren is the one who destroyed the universe as he knew it. He went from a semi-utopian world, similar to what we had envisioned in Sci-Fi of the 1950's. Flying cars, automated houses, helpful robots, all that sort of thing. But Tom erases that future when he travels back in time and accidentally disrupts the event that brought that world to fruition.

 

The thing that makes Tom's base timeline possible is a thing called the Goettreider machine. A machine powered by the movement of the Earth itself. A perpetual motion machine, that produces completely clean energy. Tom, as the first time traveler, goes back in history to witness this event, and his presence causes an accident that results in the Goettreider machine never being used.

 

Much of the novel focuses on Tom's attempts to right this wrong. To fix the universe to what it was supposed to be, if he hadn't screwed it up. But then be begins to realize that if he fixes it, so that his timeline comes back, all the people in this timeline would never exist. From his alternative parents, the sister he has in this timeline that didn't exist in his original one. The woman he falls in love with. All of them would not only cease to exist, but their potential would never have existed. And that weighs heavily on Tom.

 

This existential crisis is what powers most of the book, and it does get a little repetitive. It was an interesting read, and as Mastai is a screenwriter, this book seems like it belongs on a screen. And it probably will get that treatment. If you're a fan of 50's and 60's Sci-Fi, Heinlein, and potentially Douglas Adams, you'll probably enjoy All Our Wrong Todays. But if Sci-Fi, or Sci-Fantasy isn't your bailiwick, you're probably not going to find it nearly as amusing or enjoyable.

 

Snitch

Snitch - Dharma Kelleher

Snitch, the second novel in Dharma Kelleher's Shea Stevens series is as fast, thrilling, and improbable as they come. And that's what makes it such a fun read.

 

Shea Stevens just extricated herself from her involvement with the outlaw MC's she swore off. Until a new club, headed by Labrys, who happens to be an exgirlfriend of Shea's, comes to town. And when people start dying from a laced party drug, all signs point to the Athena Sisterhood. The MC headed by Labrys. At the mercy of the local PD, because of the informant contract she signed to keep out of prison, She is instructed to infiltrate the Athena's, and find out who is dealing the drugs.

 

Shea has been working too long of hours at Iron Goddess, her custom bike shop, and her current girlfriend, Jessica is pissed. Shea was granted custody of her niece Annie, but Jessica's been the one taking all of the responsibilities.

 

Getting involved with the Athena's, and becoming their newest prospect was not in Shea's plans, but digging out just who's dealing the drugs is becoming harder and harder to suss. It's not the Confederate Thunder, who insists that the Athena Sisterhood either stop wearing their cuts (the vests that declare their membership in the MC), submit to having the Thunder over them (which will never happen because they are committed to feminist causes and will not submit to a bunch of racist, homophobic, misogynistic a$$wads), or disband.

But the Thunder isn't dealing, they sold their entire stash to someone. Indigo, the next best bet isn't dealing either, the mysterious deals she's been making are for her hormones. It's not Labrys either, her deals are from sporting bets. So just who is it, and why are they so set on trying to kill Shea?

 

With fast paced dealings from the very beginning, Snitch is the perfect follow-up to Dharma's first book in the series, Iron Goddess. This one focuses on the feminist sisterhood, and the power of women and the bonds of sisterhood and friendship. Rooted in intersectional feminism, Snitch reminds us that feminism comes in all shapes, sizes, and colours. From cis-het white women, to trans lesbians of colour, we are all women, and throwing one group under the bus damages us all. And Dharma reminds us of this in a seamless way, of including women of all walks into her books, without making it a "teaching point".

 

Dharma is on the shortlist of my favourite LGBTQIA authours, which makes reading her writing that much better. And reading books by more LGBTQIA authours should be important, more now than ever. Step out of your comfort zone, read Snitch, seek out other subversive authours, support them, and #RESIST!

Numenera: The Poison Eater

Numenera - The Poison Eater - Shanna Germain

The Poison Eater is a novel set in the Numenera universe. This one is by Shanna Germain, who is the co-creator of the award-winning Numenera RPG world. Her short stories, essays, poems, novellas and more have appeared in hundreds of books and publications, and The Poison Eater is a strong addition to that catalogue.

 

Talia is the latest Poison Eater. The newest one in a long line. A line of people who are relied upon to poison themselves in order to inform the city of Enthait about what dangers are coming.

 

No one knows anything about Talia, she appears to have just shown up in the city one day. She refuses to talk about her past, and for good reason. Talia was captured by the vordcha, horrifying creatures who are both organic and mech. They slaughtered all of Talia's warrior sisters, and "enhanced" Talia before she escaped them. She still has nightmares about them, and bears the scars from what they did.

 

In one of her poison induced dreams, Talia sees them coming. The protectors of the city are sent out to try to stop the horde, and Talia is frightened that the woman she loves will not return. While she waits and frets, Talia does her best to uncover plots, learn more about the last poison eater, and discover where she fits in Enthait.

 

The Poison Eater is part Sci-Fi, part Fantasy, part Dystopian fiction. It's tough for me to categorize, but it falls solidly into those categories. It was a fairly fast read, there were spots that I had a difficult time trying to muddle out, but those were dreams and flashbacks from Talia, and as such were probably supposed to be disjointed and confusing. It didn't distract from the story, but rather added to it, showing the growing fear and anxiety Talia feels.

 

I'd recommend this for readers over 16ish. There's a fair bit of violence, and the themes of that may be disturbing to young readers. But for fans of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Dystopia, and books built on the structure from a RPG, this is a great read. I didn't know about the RPG before reading the novel, but if I had, it would have prompted me to pick it up sooner. All in all, a nice solid read. Entertaining, creepy, and wrought with emotions.

Hard Rhythm

Hard Rhythm - Cecilia Tan

Hard Rhythm is the third and final (sadly) book in best-selling author Cecilia Tan's Secrets of a Rock Star series. The previous books are Wild Licks, and Taking the Lead, and Hard Rhythm is no disappointment in the series.

 

Maddie has been working at the most exclusive BDSM club in Hollywood for a while now, and has seen it all. She's done much of it too, because you can't teach without experience. But she still feels a big empty space inside, that she can't be a "real" submissive because she can't let go.

 

Chino, the drummer for the most wildly popular rock band, can't get over Maddie. He's had a thing for her since the first time he saw her. But he's got abandonment and family issues of his own to work through before he can fully commit to a relationship.

 

Chino & Maddie eventually decide to give in to their mutual feelings, but Chino wants Maddie to completely give herself over to him. She's bared her body, but Chino wants her mind as well. And in learning to bare Maddie's mind, Chino learns to bare his past and family. And in learning to bare their deepest secrets, Maddie & Chino will forge a bond beyond what either could have hoped for.

 

As always, Cecilia is at the top of her game, giving hot, steamy sex together with characters you care about. Relationships you want to succeed, packed full of naughtiness. I've said it before, and I continue to stand by it, Cecilia Tan is one of the greatest writers of smut out there. Few others can combine the tenderness of a budding romantic relationship together with the endorphin packed beginning of D/S relationship the way she has with the Secrets of a Rock Star series.

 

If you're looking for some loving smut, pick up the series. If you're new to the smut genre, pick up the series. If you like your love stories on the sexy side, pick up the series. It starts off quickly, there are no boring parts, everything is important for the stories, and the sex is marvelously hot. It's definitely a must read.

Burning Bright

Burning Bright - Melissa McShane

Burning Bright, the first book in Melissa McShane's latest series, The Extraordinaries,is a well crafted tale spun with care in an alternate universe almost identical to ours.

 

Elinor Pembroke wakes up, her bedchamber on fire. She extinguishes the flames with only a touch of her mind. But at 21, Elinor is considered too old to present her talent, after all, even her younger sister showed hers years ago. But Elinor's talent is much stronger than anyone anticipated. She is an Extraordinary Scorcher, and unusually powerful for even that.

 

Faced with the choice of being forced to marry a man who disgusts her, or living the rest of her life on the generosity of her relations, Elinor makes a third choice. One most unexpected, and unsuitable for any lady of her station.

 

While learning how to harness her powers, Elinor navigates her way through the unending bureaucracy of 19th century British Naval command. She meets another Extraordinary, the captain of the ship she is first assigned to. Captain Ramsey and Elinor strike up an unsuitable friendship, and that friendship saves the lives of them both.

 

Burning Bright was an enjoyable story, there was romantic tension throughout the book, but it didn't become blatant until the end, when Elinor makes the final decisions about who she is, what she wants, and what she will become. Which was nice. She wasn't pressured into the relationship, she didn't feel obliged to the romance, and it wasn't forced, it evolved naturally. This is a little unusual in most novels with that heavy of romantic tension, especially because the choices were left firmly in the female protagonist's hands.

 

The book is very well suited to YA/NA readers, although there are a few scenes with semi-explicit violence. But these scenes are handled with a light touch, and there are genuine reactions from the characters regarding their feelings about those acts.

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (The Road to Nowhere 1) - Meg Elison

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife is set in the dystopian near future. A plague has wiped humanity out, leaving one woman to every ten men. And almost all of those women are traded as commodities. Because what better thing can you bargain with than something that is so rare that most men haven't seen since before the plague?

 

The Midwife, who changes her name and appearance throughout the narrative, writes everything she sees and experiences in her journey about the US looking for other survivors. At least other female survivors. No children have been born, and those few women who have become pregnant have died immediately following childbirth, so the Midwife hands out birth control to all the women she comes across, hoping to help preserve their lives.

 

There are very graphic descriptions of rape, murder, and stillbirth. This can be incredibly triggering, and needs to be very clear. This is not a happy book, it's not a hopeful book. It's a very gritty, disturbing, and honest look at what happens after civilization falls, and individuals are left alone to their own devices. 

 

That being said, I liked the book. It's written in a style that's rather unique, and may be difficult for many to get into. It's part narrative, part journaling, part chronicling. And the jumps between the POV's are very sudden, with no apparent rhyme or reason. It's a difficult book to finish, mostly due to the subject matter. But I'm glad I read and finished it. It was worth the discomfort I felt at many places, knowing that all that stands between "Us" and "Them" is our thin veneer of humanity and compassion.

 

In the interest of disclosure, I received a copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. 

Dark Stars

Dark Stars (The Thief Taker Series Book 3) - C.S. Quinn

It is October, 1666. London is still smoking in the ruin of the Great Fire, and the horrors of mutilated bodies are mirroring events from several years ago.

 

With the greatest eclipse as yet seen just on the horizon, and a prophecy that the "Eye" must be found, or be lost forever, Thief Taker Charlie Tuesday begins his mad dash through London to find the Eye, and stop the murders.

 

Accompanied by Lily, a Romani with a serious chip on her shoulder, Charlie must solve clues relating to the Eye, while being followed by a notorious judge, a Dutch ships captain bent on destroying the British Navy, and the stranger who is committing the murders.

 

 

C.S. Quinn wove together a wonderful tale in this book, the third in a series. I haven't read the first two, and fortunately, that's not a requirement. Dark Stars is brilliant as a standalone mystery novel, giving enough history to the characters that you don't feel as though you're missing out on what created them. It is obvious that there is a past between Charlie and Lily, but the reader isn't completely left in the dark about it. 

 

I really enjoyed it, read it fairly quickly, and have recommended it to a few other people looking for a New Adult historical fiction mystery. It's a good one to pick up if you enjoyed the Robert Langdon series, as the plot is similar, and the pacing is as quick.

 

In the interest of disclosure, the publisher and NetGalley provided me with an advance copy of this book.

A Wizard's Forge

A Wizard's Forge (The Woern Saga, #1) - A.M. Justice

A Wizard's Forge, the first book in the Woern Saga by A.M. Justice, is a touch indescribable. It's fantasy, it's sci-fi, it's tragedy, drama, a bit of horror. But all those themes are well woven into a book that more than lives up to the promises it lays forth.

 

Victoria, Vic to those close to her, is a Logkeeper, the youngest ever. Her job is to record the history of the district, from the time the space explorers came to "Knownearth", until now. And to record the present with just as much accuracy. It is a job that Vic's family has held, and one that she has aspired to her entire life. Until the day that slave traders steal her away to Traine. She is sold into sex slavery, as most of the people she was kidnapped with, both the young men and women. There isn't discrimination to the gender of who is sold, only to their beauty and worth.

 

Vic is sold to the Realmlord, and is subject to psychological and physical torture, until she is a broken woman, obeying only the Realmlord and only seeing herself for her worth to him. But she does eventually build up the courage to run, and happens upon a teletransporter that takes her to another kingdom. One where she is allowed to heal, and recover herself.

 

Vic learns that her path is to become a warrior, to defeat the Realmlord, and to help break the stranglehold that Traine has on the world. She is successful in this, becoming the Blade to her squadron's dagger. Over and over The Dagger completes objectives thought impossible. And much of it due to Vic's desire for revenge. Eventually she knows that the time has come to travel to Traine, to meet her destiny with the Realmlord.

 

This seems a strange summary of the book, as there is so very much more going on. From the various courts, the histories of those lands, the inhabitants. The world building is masterful. It's very much like stepping into a fully realized world, and picking out the story of a single inhabitant. I'll be honest, it's a bit of a slog at times. The plot is so dense with goings on, with characters, and with a number of different plots and sub-plots. But it's worth it. Keep slogging, because it gets better and easier. 

 

I highly enjoyed the book, even with my difficulties of trying to keep everything straight and sorted out. That's my problem though, not the author or the books fault. And it's nowhere near as sloggy as Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. It's closer to G.R.R. Martin. So if you're a fan of fantasy, sci-fi, action, horror, and that sort, give A Wizard's Forge a shot. Just remember, stick with it in the slow parts, because the way it plays out needs those slow bits.

 

I was given an ARC of this title by the publisher

Venom and Vanilla

Venom and Vanilla (The Venom Trilogy) - Shannon Mayer

Venom and Vanilla is the fist book in Shannon Mayer's latest series, The Venom Trilogy. Mayer is a bestselling author of many books, and The Venom Trilogy looks like it should have fit right in with her other series.

 

Venom and Vanilla opens with Alena, who is the owner of a successful bakery, ill with an incurable disease. One that is passed to humans by Supes. Supernaturals who aren't supposed to be this far south. They were contained behind the wall, supposedly to keep humans safe from them. But Alena contracts the disease anyway. She is given a choice, to either waste away and eventually die, or to become a supernatural being, and all that entails. Alena fights for a bit, but eventually gives in, and allows herself to be transformed.

 

When she wakes up, she notices that she can still pass for human, something many supes can't do any longer. But then, Alena is special. Nobody knows just what she is, only that she's not your run of the mill supe.

 

Eventually, Alena learns that she's an ancient and powerful creature, one who has powers far beyond those of regular supes. And a creature that the Gods want to kill. Yes, there are Gods. Roman Gods are brought into the mix, in a strange twist. So Alena has to deal with learning the powers she has, all while fighting Roman Gods.

 

It's a fun book, not particularly deep, but fun. There are some serious problems with Alena, the fact that she speaks like a teenage valley girl, as opposed to a successful businesswoman in her 30's is just one of them. The characters aren't particularly well developed, there isn't any motivation for them, and Alena being summoned to fight Achilles is just...odd, jarring. I didn't like it, but I didn't dislike it either. It just seemed "meh". So I can't really recommend it, but I won't really steer you away from it. Unless you're just starting to read paranormal/urban fiction. In that case, this would be a really bad early taste of a genre that can be very, very good.

 

I did receive an ARC of this book from the publisher.

The Operator

The Operator - Kim Harrison

The Operator is the latest book by award winning author Kim Harrison. It is the second book in the Peri Reed Chronicles, the first being The Drafter. 

 

I am assuming that The Operator begins very close in time to where The Drafter ends. I haven't read the first, so I can't speak for certain. However, The Operator opens with Peri in the coffee shop that she owns, trying to piece the last year back together. She is a Drafter, which means she can rewind time for a bit and rewrite it. It means that she loses a period of time in her life though. Which causes some problems because new memories can be placed there, ones that Peri can't dispute because she has no organic memories of that place in time. 

 

Peri is given a copy of the diary she kept during her training at OPTI, and as she begins to piece back together those pieces of her past, that past comes calling again. Her constant companion, Jack, was her Anchor. The person Peri trusted to fill in her memory blanks from Drafting. Jack betrayed her, and is now a hallucination that Peri uses as her intuition. But Jack is back, the real Jack. And he's got some tricks up his sleeve that Peri isn't prepared for.

 

When her former "boss" at OPTI tries to lure Peri back, she tries to run. Tries to keep her life as her own. But the promises that she's being made seem almost too good to be true. Can he really have a drug that can allow Peri to draft by herself, eliminating her need for an anchor, and thus eliminating the potential for all of her memories to be erased and rewritten?

 

The Operator takes us on a thrill ride, as Peri both works with and tries to evade the CIA, OPTI, and the local police, all while trying to piece together her real past. She meets old "friends" and new ones, and has to determine who is less likely to get her suckered into working for them, or killed. And on some occasions, being killed is only temporary, so it's the question of permanently killed, instead of "mostly dead".

 

The Operator was fun, but I think I'd have enjoyed it more if I'd read The Drafter first. Kim Harrison writes books in a series, and while they can be read alone, it's always better to read them in order. There is so much background information, character development, and general information you miss if you don't start with the first book in each series. It was a bit of a slog though, I kept picking it up and putting it back down, because while it was good and enjoyable, it just didn't seem to grab me as tightly as some other books do. I liked it, but it wasn't fantastic, and won't go on my "read again" list. However, I'd still recommend it, if you like semi dystopian books, kick-ass heroines, people dealing with some serious (metaphorical, in this case) demons, etc. It's worth a read, with the caveat of reading The Drafter first.

 

 

  • Series: The Peri Reed Chronicles
    Mass Market Paperback: 496 pages
    Publisher: Pocket Books (November 22, 2016)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1501149911
    ISBN-13: 978-1501149917

 

In the interest of disclosure, the publisher did provide me with a copy of this book to read.

 

Good Behavior

Good Behavior - Blake Crouch

Good Behavior is a collection of the three short stories about Letty Dobesh, written by Blake Crouch. Crouch is a best selling novelist and screen writer. His Wayward Pines trilogy has been adapted into a series on FOX, and Good Behavior is currently airing on TNT.

 

Good Behavior introduces us to Letty Dobesh, fresh out of prison and trying to make a new start. But as her boss reminds her, once a junkie whore, always a junkie whore. Letty tries to make a break from her past, but making it in the straight world is harder than it seems. And a good grift makes it easier to coast by for a few months.

 

"The Pain of Others" finds Letty a party to an unusual situation. Interrupted in the middle of a heist, she overhears a murder being planned. "Sunset Key" sends Letty to the Florida Keys, to the side of a man spending the end of his free life on his private island. And of course there's a heist involved. "Grab" finds Letty in Las Vegas, going along on the steal of a lifetime. 

 

At the end of each novella, Crouch tells us of his experiences turning Letty from a character on a page into the star of a TV series. These bits are not short, but they give some great insight into the creation process of a new TV series. And as Crouch is both the writer and a producer on the Good Behavior series, the continuing development of Letty should be seamless. 

 

I enjoyed the novellas, there were a few twists in each one, but while I think the best twists were in "Sunset Keys", many feel that is the weakest story in the book. I'm not certain I agree with that, but Letty in that story is much different from her in the others. She and Javier are the recurring characters in both the novellas and in the show, and their relationship is an interesting one, filled with admiration, dislike, and some serious flames. I'm hoping that Crouch will continue to both write new Letty novellas as well as episodes for the series, but we'll see how that is able to unfold. 

 

In the interest of disclosure, the publisher, Thomas & Mercer provided me with an advance copy of Good Behavior.

— feeling hypnotized
"
But more wonderful than the lore of old men and the lore of books is the secret lore of ocean.

H. P. Lovecraft
"

Unnatural Deeds

Unnatural Deeds - Cyn Balog

Unnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog is a bit of an odd duck. The book starts out with someone who has been in a terrible accident, and is narrating the story. It's a bit hard to follow until the book starts really unfolding, but it's worth the confusion.

 

Victoria Zell is the new girl at an exclusive private school. The other students have been together forever, so she sticks out even more than she usually would. The only person who understands her is her neighbor and boyfriend Andrew. He's been there for her every day since Victoria's family moved in. And they share everything, all their secrets.

 

Or rather, they shared their secrets. Once Zachary Zimmerman, known as Z, shows up in Victoria's homeroom class, her world gets turned upside down. Encouraging her to cut class, be more adventurous, make new friends, and eventually try out for the lead in the school play, Z seems to be an interesting influence on her. But is he a good one, or a negative one?

 

With chapters interspersed with interviews from Victoria and Z's classmates, teachers, families, and friends, it's obvious something serious happens at the end. But what exactly is it? And even if you know what it is, how did it happen, and why? 

 

It's difficult to get much more into the plot and story of Unnatural Deeds, as it will spoil all the sudden, unexpected twists and turns. I had an inkling of what the twist at the very end might be, but I was surprised by how it played out. That was nothing like what I expected. And it's not like anything I've read before. Which was nice. It's still a YA book, so it's geared towards HS and early college students, but it's a good read for adults.

 

Fans of Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse novels, Gone Girl, The Woman in Cabin 10, etc. will find this an enjoyable read. There is a lot of mental illness in the book, but it's well handled. It's a very major theme, but it makes it realistic, showing the ebbs and flows of depression and low mania. It is a bit stigmatizing near the end, but I think the rest of the story makes it a little more acceptable. It's a good read. 

 

Unnatural Deeds
Cyn Balog
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire (November 1, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1492635790
ISBN-13: 978-1492635796

 

In the interest of disclosure, I was provided an ARC of this book.

A Whole Latte Murder

A Whole Latte Murder: A Java Jive Mystery - Caroline Fardig

A Whole Latte Murder is the third novel in the Java Jive series by best selling author Caroline Fardig. 

 

Juliet Langley is the manager at Java Jive, the coffee shop she worked at in college, that is now owned by her best friend Pete. Java Jive, and Jules, seem to attract strange occurrences, and Jules wants to get to the bottom of the latest ones.

 

When Jules' boyfriend Ryder gets promoted to Homicide, things start falling apart. Jules has a pretty good idea of what that's going to entail, due to her involvement with several murders in town already. And she doesn't want Ryder in that position. 

 

When a local college student goes missing, and then Jules' neighbor turns up dead, things really start to get complicated. Jules and Pete team up to try to get to the bottom of the disappearances, especially when one of the women who disappears works at the coffee shop. 

 

With several twists and turns, Jules and Pete get to the bottom of the mystery, while dealing with the fallout from broken relationships.

 

I really loved Death Before Decaf, the first novel in the series, but A Whole Latte Murder just didn't hold me as much. It's a good mystery, and several of the plot twists I never saw coming. That being said, it felt a little predictable. Fardig seems to use the same characters in very set ways, and there isn't much character development. It was a fun book, and I enjoyed it, it just didn't live up to my expectations. Fans of Cozy Mysteries will enjoy it. Fans of Fardig's other series, Lizzie Hart Mysteries, will find it right up their alley. And those who like Charlane Harris' Aurora Teagarden series, or her Harper Connelly series, or even the Lily Bard series will not be disappointed.

 

A Whole Latte Murder
Caroling Fardig
Java Jive series book 3
Publisher: Alibi (November 8, 2016)
Publication Date: November 8, 2016
Sold by: Random House LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B01AQNZQFY

 

In the interest of disclosure, the publisher provided me with an advance copy of this book.

Isis Orb

Isis Orb (The Xanth Novels) - Piers Anthony

Isis Orb, the 40th installment in Piers Anthony's wildly successful Xanth series, is a comfort novel. Filled with the types of characters and puns we've all grown to love, Isis Orb is like a warm hug from an old friend.

 

It is a story Anthony has told several times, that of a bit of a bumbler who has a wish, who goes to visit the Good Magician, and sets out on a quest. It's a tried and true plot for Anthony, but it holds up to the the new characters and situations. With characters like Cylla Cybin, who has the power of causing hallucinations (Psilocybin, a chemical that causes hallucinations), to Faro Heights, a winged centaur who is afraid to fly, Anthony doesn't disappoint his readers.

 

The story focuses on Hapless and his party trying to take a magical orb from Isis. Yes, that Isis, the Egyptian Goddess. They meet interesting characters along their way, driven by Hapless and his magic box. The box is a reminder to him to "think outside the box", which he does in order to meet the other five members of his party. Each party member is introduces separately, which gives readers a chance to get to know each new member before the next one arrives, which is nice. The confrontation with Isis was rather interesting. Rather than direct confrontation, the encounter took an educational bent, allowing the reader to see a side of a mis-remembered deity. 

 

The puns are plentiful, as anyone who has read an Xanth novel will tell you. This is no different. There are ones that will make you groan, and ones that will give you a moment's pause until you decipher what it is. And the "Adult Conspiracy" is alive and well here too. The Adult Conspiracy is a natural feature in Xanth to "protect" all characters under the age of 18 from "knowledge that could being them great harm". It's another continuing theme in all the Xanth books.  

 

It's another Xanth novel, one that I highly enjoyed reading, and that will get talked about and passed around in some circles. I've been a fan of them since the mid 80's, so picking up Isis Orb wasn't a stretch, it was a bit of a comfort back to my formative years of just starting to read fantasy novels. It's not the best Xanth I've read, it's not the worst either. It's fun, it's entertaining, it reads fast, and it'll make you smile and groan. Give it a shot, it's a fun little story.

 

 

Isis Orb
Piers Anthony
Series: The Xanth Novels
Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy (October 18, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 150403631X
ISBN-13: 978-1504036313

 

In the interest of disclosure, I was provided an ARC by the publisher.

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