This installment is mostly recent releases of ebooks and DTB’s in various series and one that can be viewed as a stand alone, and a few ebooks. I’ve noticed I’m gravitating to more humorous mystery in ebook than paper. Only a few series are worth the cost of a print copy for my bedtime reading. And since it’s summer, I will also tell more about Reacherfan Groundhog and Trey Dupress – their first major adventure – Murder at The Myrtles Plantation. It’s a long story that had many authors about half written by me and then I edited the tale into a finished product. I’m doing another polish and then I’ll post installments during those lazy summer months.
But right now, it’s all about books.
Many times I’ve said how good this series is and how creative and funny Darynda Jones can be spinning multiple story lines at once. I supposed that’s why I was so disappointed in Eighth Grave after Dark. Jones set the bar high and held it there through seven books – then she wrote this.
Eighth Grave has several issues – first was the stagnant setting. In the other books, Charley was moving around, checking on things. Her she’s near her delivery date for Beep and essentially trapped in an old nunnery on hallowed ground to keep the Hellhounds from killing her and Beep. Second is the rather insubstantial mystery plots that run thru this book. ‘Kit’ Carson is working on a serial kidnapper/killer case involving an old lover’s niece. There’s nothing there, just ordinary data checks. Next is the crying nun’s ghost and what she wants. (Jones always runs a ‘live’ mystery in tandem with a ‘ghost’ case.) And then there’s the elephant in the room – Beep. And there was the whole Beep’s birth scene, not to mention the sob story from the evil step-mother explaining her DECADES of bad behavior.
Now al lot of information is finally disclosed in this entry, but it’s done without excitement or tension. But the worst part – and I mean ‘throw the book at the wall’ annoyance level – is the ending. I won’t spoil it for you, but I sat there yelling “WHAT? WTF IS THIS CRAP?” at about 3AM when I finished it. I just hope none of the neighbors heard me. Between her father’s ghost and his not believable tale, to “You really don’t remember!” – I wanted to set the book on fire. Since this was about the over-arching plot of Charley’s existence that’s key to the whole series, it’s unforgivable.
OK, my seething anger aside, the book was far from her best effort. Tension levels were off, the whole pregnancy plot kind of fizzled, so did the wedding, and bland ‘mysteries’ that could have been solved by any armchair Nancy Drew, resulted in the kindest description of this effort as LAME – and the ending insulted the intelligence of the readers.
Eighth Grave After Dark gets a D+ to C- (2.8*) from me. It is nowhere near the quality of the first seven books and the ending has me wondering if I want to pay the HC price for the ninth book that’s already on order. Fans will love this book despite all the plot, the data dumps, and character issues. Try and get it cheap because it’s far from her usual quality. My copy is off to the next owner in Hawaii.
Cold Burn of Magic is the first book in Jennifer Estep’s latest young adult series. Young Adult is a very hot market for paranormal writers as The Hunger Games and other proved. Her previous YA series, the Mythos Academy books, I never read, so I can’t say how they compare, but here, her 17 yr old female and 19 yr old male leads acted more like adults than teens.
Lila is a 17-year-old thief who is stealing a necklace to order for her sort of friend, mentor, and fence, Mo. We catch her as she eludes guards armed with swords – why not guns and swords, but apparently only swords. Like her Elemental Assassin series, people here often have ‘Talents’. And like her Spider assassin, Lila has two talents. She is also a high school student trying to avoid getting put back in the foster care system. After school, she heads for Mo’s pawn shop and ends up getting in the middle of an assassination attempt on the heir to one of the two most powerful families, Devon Sinclair.
Lila’s interference saves Devon’s life and forces her to change her own and take a job as his bodyguard. Lila hates the Sinclairs because her mother died as a result of protecting Devon years earlier during a chance encounter in the park. Now here she is doing the same thing and risking exposure of her rare Talent to people powerful enough to rip it from her.
The plot of Cold Burn of Magic is basic and had limited tension. At just over 300 pages in trade size, it was a very fast, easy read. Too many of the ‘world building’ elements had common ground with her Elemental Assassin series, and Lila was a bit too much like Gin Blanco – tough, talented, independent, and shrewd – and the setting just adds ‘magical’ creatures to the list.
While not impressive, Cold Burn of Magic is suitable for young adult readers while having just enough substance for many older adults. I give it a C+ (3.3*) and suggested read if you can find it cheap.
I admit that Craig Johnson is a favorite mystery author and Walt Longmire is a marvelous character, so I am predisposed to love his writing and sly wit. Dry Bones delivers plenty of entertainment but is far from his best mystery. Johnson’s biggest weakness is the emotional elements between Walt and his daughter, home to visit with his granddaughter.
At the heart of Dry Bones is the discovery and ownership of a huge T Rex skeleton found on disputed land and a dead Native American found by Walt’s enigmatic friend Omar while out fishing. Danny Lone Elk’s status in the tribe means no autopsy can be performed, but Walt is convinced the old man was murdered. Caught in the middle of the dispute between the tribe, the family, the discovery of the bones, and the state, Walt also has to deal with his exhausted, cranky daughter and granddaughter.
Johnson creates characters that seem so real that you feel you know them, but Walt’s emotional disconnect from his daughter is on full display. When the call comes about her husband, Vic’s brother, Walt is, as always, tied up with the case. Fossils of T Rex skeletons sell for big bucks (Johnson acknowledges he used the fight over another fossil as his inspiration here, so if that seems familiar, that’s why.) – money all different parties are claiming. And murder is usually about money – only this time, not from the auction of the skeleton.
While I figured out who did it early on, Johnson’s writing and characters made the story too entertaining to put down. The ending had a very clever twist. “Save Jen!”
I give Dry Bones a C+ to B- (3.6*). My SIL who also read it, voted it higher, but I’m tougher on books than she is. We both liked the ending. A short read, it really isn’t worth the nearly $20 discount price, so wait any buy used or borrow from the library. My copy went right to my brother and SIL and then off to the book swap games.
In the latest installment of the Lexi Carmichael series, No Woman Left Behind, Moffet opens with a hysterical scene where a nervous Lexi is trying to explain to Slash why having dinner with her parents will be a disaster. The part about her father looking at them and knowing they were having sex, including that ‘innovative maneuver’ he did on the table cracked me up. But dinner is interrupted by gunshots and Lexi and Slash are drawn into a battle of wits with arch villian Broodryk from No Test for the Wicked – a man she defeated and deprived on millions of dollars.
Xavier is in a Greek hospital fighting for his life and twin, Elvis Zimmerman, is being held captive by Broodryk and only Lexi and can play the game to free him. From a private chat room, Lexi finds she must swallow her fears and go to Africa to get the next clue. Broodryk wants to play on his home turf.
Slash and Lexi fight about her going, but she feels responsible for what’s happened to Elvis and if she doesn’t play his game, he’ll just kill him and kidnap another person, maybe her brother or mother. She knows even with SEALs and the help of Grayson, the CIA analyst, she probably won’t live, but off she goes.
There are several hysterical scenes – the one finding Gray and ‘Hands’, the SEAL sniper team leader, in flagrante delicto while running from a ‘spider’ and then the tandem jump from 12,000 feet with Hands are both priceless. The plot has tension and wit and is just a damn fun read.
No Woman Left Behind gets a B+ (4.3*) from me. Available ebook only and worth the price. This is a fun series.
Book one in a new series my Melissa Olsen, Boundary Crossed was offered free in the Prime First plan on Amazon. Can’t beat free, so I gave it a shot as ebook.
Allison Alexis Luther ‘Lex’ to her Army buddies, spent two tours in Iraq until she walked out if the desert after an IED got her squad in the Humvee. The Army gave her an honorable discharge and funny looks, because she should have died. Now, the only living child of the Luther family, second largest employer in Boulder,CO, is a night clerk at a convenience store building a floor display in soda 12 packs when she hears a young couple debating diaper sizes. When she goes to help them, she sees the baby is her niece – and the couple has kidnaped her. She screams for the other clerk to call the cops and proceeds to use her best combat skills against them.
Something strange happens in the fight and even though she gouged out the mans eyes, he seemed to grow them back. Badly wounded, Lex dies. Again. Then 4 more times in the OR, but each time she comes back. She wakes in the hospital getting the same strange looks she from the Army doctors. Her world goes sideways when ‘Detective’ Quinn comes in to question her and she relates everything to him. Then she feels the same pressure on her mind she felt from the kidnapper. Quinn tells her she’s a witch, so does a young man name Simon, who is also a witch. he’s a vampire Welcome to the brave new world.
Finally grudgingly accepting the whole witch thing, she seeks protection from the vampire ‘dominus’ for the state. Her niece is a null. The story centers around Lex’s slow acceptance of her power and the fact most witches hate and fear her – she’s a Boundary witch, or death witch, with a special affinity for vampires, since technically, they’re dead.
In print, the book is just about 300 pages. It’s a fast, easy read and the UF world building minimal since it all happens here and now. Lex is an interesting character, but only she and Quinn are well-developed. The supporting cast is minimal and kind of sketched in.
Boundary Crossed gets a C+ (3.3*) from me. Not essential, but give it a try if find a cheap print copy or buy the ebook. At $5, the ebook is pricy for what you get.