Yes, you have all been awaiting my return. Or maybe not. But I’m back! And we the good, the bad, and OMG what the hell were they thinking?
I’m happy to report I can now see again – with both eyes. Yes, it’s true. You CANNOT see through cataracts. I must admit to a certain feeling of persecution as my very blue-eyed dad never wore sunglasses and died at 85 cataract free. My OLDER brother has hazel green eyes and also never wore sunglasses – and he’s CATARACT FREE! Both spent/spend a LOT of time outdoors. I have worn sunglasses – expensive polarized glasses – for decades and I’m the one with cataracts. Gene pool lotto sucks.
Still, thanks to modern surgery, getting cataracts removed is stupidly expensive, but easy. It’s the inability to see, and double vision, before, the two different focal points between, and the waiting on the healing to get results and news reading glasses, which I still need. Then I have to get my driving confidence back. It’s so nice that street signs are no longer blurry even wearing my distance glasses. The downside, I might have the beginning of age-related macular degeneration, so add one more vitamin to the mix. If you’re over 60, it’s actually a good idea. PreserVision AREDS2 by Bausch & Lomb are recommended and I got mine on Amazon.
Between surgeries (2 weeks apart) I really couldn’t read much and frankly reading before had become a challenge. But I’ve been playing catchup and plowing through print and ebooks. So hoping you all had excellent holidays and are ready to check out what new – or at least new to me – in books!
Big type, easy reading, mindless, predictable plot, short book. Perfect for getting back in the game with my brain still in neutral. Turbo Twenty-Three was better than her last book – which I remain convinced was written by someone else. That’s it, that all the good to mention.
Evanovich is stretching her reader’s credulity more and more with each book as they get more and more like an I Love Lucy episode – but less funny. Let’s face it, it’s tough to be Lucy and Ethyl packing chocolates, but she gives it a shot in an ice cream factory. Sorry, that’s just visual comedy she can’t quite pull off. Vaguely amusing is about it.
The plot is just painfully obvious, the trip to Disney was pointless except to give Ranger and Steph a reason to climb into bed. And Ranger was insulted in the last book and this one she insults Morelli.
The eternally young Steph Plum has grown old, tired, and retreads dialogue and plots till you’re just so damn glad you got it through a book swap site and didn’t pay a dime is it a relief. Frankly, a dime is about the fair price.
Turbo Twenty-Three gets a D+ to C- (2.5*) for a waste of perfectly good paper. If it takes more than 3 hours to read, try staying awake more. I know it’s kind of a snoozefest, but it’s fairly painless and you won’t be wincing at the continuity errors like those in her last book. Highly missable and get it from your library. Buying this is a waste of money.
The new young adult Steampunk series by Shanna Swendson is a new genre for the humorous fantasy romance author. Rebel Mechanics is the series and the book title is All is Fair in Love and Revolution. Verity Newton is the ‘daughter’ of a Yale University professor who knows she’s not his own. She is very well educated at 17 and gets a second class ticket to New York City to find a job as a governess. In this world, England has kept hold of the colonies and conveniences are supplied by their ruling class, magisters, magic users who are titled and act pretty must like all aristocracy. After being turned down for every job she interviewed for, she finds she must go into the heart of the magister area. Much to her surprise, she is offered the job, complete with room and board. Her charges youngish uncle bears a striking resemblance to the gang that held up her train and stole the crown’s money.
These improbable coincidences plague the book’s setup, including the way she meets the Mechanics. The plot is largely simplistic, Mechanics vs. Magisters, as the audience is young adult, and the prose matches that. The pacing plods along at times and seems to race to cover her bald spots. Verity is no fool and figures out both sides of the game but is now caught in the web while being governess to the grandchildren of the Duke who rules the city. Set in 1888, it combines some historic elements with her Steampunk NYC, but at limes seems lacking the verve that make the best book have a sense of life. I was always outside the story, never really engaged.
All is Fair in Love and Revolution gets high marks on Amazon, where I bought it for under $7 (but buy the ebook or borrow from the library -this is not a keeper). Despite that, the best I can do is C- (2.8*) It’s short and fairly fast read for an adult and not a struggle for kids 11 and up. Not as well imagined as some of the recent Dystopian books and certainly no Harry Potter. An uninspired read.
Poison is the New Black is the most recent entry in the entertaining humorous mystery series Eat, Prey, Die by Chelsea Field. In this, Izzy and her neighbor, overactive senior Etta, get involved in proving the innocence of Mr Black, the legbreaker who threatened Izzy in book one about paying off her ex-husband’s debt to some mob loan shark. Turns out, Mr Black is just a family man trying to make a living after losing his job, house, and life savings caring for a sick wife and exceeding bright daughter. Etta, convinced Izzy is a ‘honey trap’ for some secret government agency – not a Shade, a paid food taster highly trained to detect poisons, is convinced they can prove the cops are wrong.
She also has the assignment from hell, being a Shade masquerading as a PA to one of the obnoxious ‘Housewives of Beverly Hills’ type who is competing with other backstabbing females for a position in the annual nude calendar. Apparently, poisoning the competition is a well-established tradition, all the while maintaining that brittle civility that masks bone-deep loathing among the rich and useless. Another Shade – one that hates Izzy, is also on the job for another club member. She makes Izzy’s life miserable.
Worse, her honey, the taciturn Connor, has become even more remote and she about ready to throw in the towel on him – except she needs access to his security company to help Etta and Mr Black.
Altogether a fun, fast-moving story that includes the Christmas short Taste of Christmas. The author balances the 3 plots lines rather well, with a few bobbles here and there, but mostly dead on. A good entry if a solid and entertaining series, one I recommend to anyone who enjoys a light, humorous mystery with well-done characters.
Poison is the New Black gets a B- (3.8*) and is recommended to fans of the Miss Fortune series, Whiskey Bayou series, and the Davis Way series. I purchased the ebook online.
We go back to Reacher’s past in the Military for this installment in the series, which was an improvement over the usual trope he’s kind of exhausted. Night School is set in 1996 and takes place mostly in Europe. It opens with Reacher finding himself sent to ‘school’ with just 3 other men, each coming off an equally highly successful case, one from the FBI and from the CIA. Someone is trying to sell something for $100 million dollars – who, where, and what are the questions. Lee brings back Sgt Neagley, who has made several appearances in the Reacher books past and present.
Each man in the class is briefed by members of the National Security Council. This premise is off to a weak start and frankly, the plot is lame in many ways. A high-level Iranian asset is at risk and these guys putter around Hamburg, but Reacher becomes convinced a murder in Hamburg is tied to the deal and does his usual off-grid independent routine with Neagley’s help.
The story complex, yet oddly flat and lifeless. The bad guy – yes military – is no genius yet seems to defeat all the systems. Even he is two-dimensional. Yes, there are the usual fight scenes, yes, Reacher gets laid – and not by Neagley. Yes, the day is saved. And the whole thing was lackluster with occasional reminders of how good Child can be when he really tries.
Night School gets C- (2.8*) from me. It good enough for a plane read or an evening’s diversion so long as you don’t ask for too much. For fans only and borrow it from your library. My copy of Night School came through the PBS book swap site and will go back out the same way.
One Fell Sweep is once again one of the most original books I read in months. Ilona Andrews’ Innkeeper series, of which this is book 3, just gets better and better. I count it one of my top 5 series. Unlike some, there is no over-arcing plot that must be advanced. Each book is a complete story, the characters and secondary plot lines might move on a bit, that’s about it.
Ilona Andrews (a husband and wife team) started this series online on the author website. A practice they continue. But the final published book gets rewritten and polished and occasionally changed a bit. You want to know how much I liked it? I bought the ebook AND the print book.
Dina DeMille’s Inn has been quiet since the ‘peace’ conference she hosted, but the sense of someone brushing her boundary wakes her and she goes to her balcony to find Sean, an alpha strain werewolf and neighbor/sort of boyfriend, is out and about. He feels uneasy. And they both soon know why. A boost bike screams down her road, turns and comes back. She hits it with EMP that kills the bike. She and Sean just manage to hide the bike and it’s alien rider before her neighbor gets there. Her anger at the disturbance is real, but when they get inside and she starts on the Ku rider, it’s lost when he gives her a necklace and a note with coordinates – to a hellhole in the Holy Anocracy – Kahari. There’s nothing she can do but call Lord Arland Krahr, Marshall of House Krahr for help. And she gets it – and him and his ship to take them to ‘the anus of the universe’ to get her sister Maude and niece Helen.
As usual, the rescue is the beginning and Arland is taken with Maud and decides to stay at the inn for a much needed ‘retreat’.
The story that unfolds is rich, complex and has multiple plot lines involving a race near the brink of extinction, the Hiru, seeking her help and in return offering her the chance to ask the Archivarius one question about her parents – who disappeared along with their Inn. But they bring with them another race that declared a holy war on them for no know reason generations ago. It’s the Hiru’s last chance at survival and the Draziri’s chance at reaching paradise. Between them stands Dina, her Inn, Sean, Maud and daughter Helen, Arland, the ever-cunning Caldenia, Orro the drama king chef, and Wing the small Ku on a hero’s quest.
With a great story, humor, grief, fighting, adventure, and a touch of romance, this quirky group is as real as any characters you’ll meet. One Fell Sweep earns an A (4.8*) rating and the whole series is highly recommended to lovers of original, well-plotted and written urban fantasy.