Tour’s Books Blog

December 22, 2017

Where does the time go?

I’ve had a busy couple of months and I’m amazed at how the days slip away when retirement should be a long, boring nothing. Sometimes I wonder how I managed when my days were 12 hours long.  I’m starting this on Veteran’s Day so thanks a vet everyday!

Image result for tomb of the unknown

 

And now Thanksgiving is over and you hardy shoppers are out bargain hunting while I hide at home.  I leave the weekend to folks with strollers, screaming kids, and bored husbands.  My days of massive gift buying are gone and I’m entering the, “I need to get rid of this crap!” stage.

I’m also entering the carpal tunnel years and ‘dry eyes’ years.  Annoying combination when using a computer.  Not to mention reading – ebooks and print.  SIGH.  One perseveres against such things and goes right on reading – brace on wrist and drops for eyes!  Typing is a bit more problematic, hence the delay.

Oh, if you didn’t get the memo – I HATE WINTER!  It hasn’t been cold, but here it is 5 PM and IT’S FREAKING DARK OUT!  I keep telling myself, “It’s not that late!”  It still feels like nights are forever!  (Days after I wrote that we got snow and single digit nighttime temps and days in the 20’s.  I should shut-up about nice weather.  I scare it so badly, it runs away.)

Well, I’m on my third wrist brace.  Here’s hoping it helps.  So, some quick reviews of the books I’ve been reading.

*******************************************

Image result for white knights julie moffett

White Knights by Julie Moffett – first book in a young adult series that spins off of her Lexi Carmichael books.  The same general premise with girl nerd set in the high school where Lexi went undercover and includes some of the characters from No Test for the Wicket.  Not bad, Lexi and Slash show up.  Angel Sinclair is the younger sister of Gwen who was a character in No Living Soul.  Sort of a watered down Lexi and a decent read for 14 and up.  (C+ to B- 3.6*) E-book and expensive paperback.  Stay e-book.

Everlasting, Maine

This is part of the Amazon version of the old Thieves World concept.  Create a place and characters and let different authors write books set there, each a basic stand-alone where previous characters may show up for cameo roles.  Rather than fantasy, these are light paranormal cozies by a number of well-known names.  All are e-book or expensive paperback.  Not worth the print price.

Dead Man Talking is book 1 by Jana DeLeon about a haunted lighthouse and lost treasure that someone is hunting for – and her aunt got injured in the process of stopping the thief.  Light roman and quick read.  Easy to figure out.  C+ to B- 3.7*

Witchful Thinking by Kristan Painter who has turned her own Nocturn Falls into an Amazon ‘Land’ book using the same multi-author technique.  In Witchful Thinking, book 4 in the series and may or may not be the last, the lead is by far and away the best.  Charlotte Fenchurch has found a grimoire, not just any grimoire, but one that can be opened and read by just one witch and it chooses that witch at the Everlasting library.  Charlotte saved when the head librarian tosses it out as just an old book, but in Charlotte’s hand’s it’s not.

Walker Black is a  leopard shifter that works for the Fraternal Order of Light – it’s always guys, right?  He attracted to Charlotte, not just because he thinks she has the book, but because she’s his mate.  Charlotte doesn’t know it, but a lot of people want her and that book.  A good plot, solid pacing moved along both the romance and mystery, and some of the better characters.  A solid B (4.1*) from me.

Fooled Around and Spelled in Love is actually book 3 but who cares.  Author Michelle M Pillow is far better known for her erotic romance, but is moving into other genres as the ebook houses publishing Romantica (lady porn) keep closing down.  Here she keeps it PG and fairly good, but a bit OTT with Aunt Polly and a magic camera.  About an average cozy read, nothing special.  A baker who is a great photographer and a bespelled camera and former citizen of Everlasting turned writer who can’t wait to leave till he meets Anna.   C+ (3.4*) though Amazon gives it a higher rating.

I haven’t read the final book, but I’ll let you know.  Another converted Romantica writer, Mandy M Roth is the author.

**********************************************

Image result for no regrets by Julie Moffett book cover

No Regrets, the latest Lexi Carmichael installment lacked a lot of things – and many are regrettable.  It was almost painfully obvious in its plot, not very much fun, flat ending with the bad guys – especially The Father, who never was a developed character – and a few stray moments of classic Lexi humor to semi-redeem this otherwise blah book.  It starts with Xavier and Basia’s wedding (big miss in a chance for fun, pelican notwithstanding) and immediately moves to an improbable case for Andy, the COO of ComQuest, the company Xavier and Elvis Zimmerman work for.  Suffice it to say, in retrieving ComQuest’s newest invention – a sort of Trekkie tricorder that diagnoses diseases – Lexi lands at the same resort where Basia and Xavier are sharing their super, secret honeymoon.  (Somehow Lexi wrestles a crocodile on the ferry from St Thomas to Tortola.  Only problem, there are no crocs on St Thomas OR Tortola.  One does wonder where it came from.)  After only one lesson Lexi also successfully uses Krav Maga.   Sigh.

In creating White Knights for young adults, Ms Moffett seems to have given short shrift to this book and slapped No Regrets together using bits and pieces of others stories and tried to loosely, and ineffectively, link them in some coherent fashion.  It didn’t work.  My grade is C- (2.7*).  Forgettable and missable, but I suppose there are worse ways to spend a few hours.  E-book only.  I read an ARC.  It will be released later this month.

***************************************************************

Image result for deep freeze john sandford

Virgil Flowers, AKA ‘The Damn Flowers’, has a Minnesota winter mystery on his hands.  Two if you count the creatively altered x-rated Ken and Barbie dolls that seem to be coming from the same town of Trippton.  Trying to get answers on the dolls is tougher than getting answers on the murder – a woman frozen in a block of ice – hence Deep Freeze.  Of course, getting the crap beaten out of him by 4 women and ending up with what looks like a squid on his face to keep his broken nose in place does not improve his mood.  There’s some BDSM lite here and as usual, Sanford carries the plot with fair humor and wit.  Not as dark as his last few and interesting as he usually has Virgil chasing two things at once, and this is no exception.  Clever ending.

Deep Freeze gets a B- (3.8*) for traditional mystery fans.  HC only at this point so get it from the library or buy cheap used.  Got the book through a game on Paperback Swap.

***************************************************

Image result for the drifter nicholas petrie

The first book of a new series by a writer not known to me is a chancy thing.  Still, it was a book exchange game and this looked interesting.  I was right.  The Drifter by Nick Petrie didn’t have the ‘blow you away’ impact of The Killing Floor by Lee Child, or it’s complexity, still, it had a lot in common.

Peter Ash is an Iraq and Afgan war vet who developed an odd version of PTSD – being in enclosed spaces causes him to hear a kind of ‘white static’ and get louder and louder till he gets a violent urge to get out.  The plot revolves around one of the men under his command who died by a purported suicide.  Ash comes down off his mountaintop and goes to investigate.

There’s some action but too much focus on his ‘white noise’ issue – to the point where it was annoying and at times distracted from the plot at just the wrong time.  Reacher is a force of nature and a trained investigator.  Ash is curious by nature, but not the kind of expert that Reacher is, though the author imbues him with certain ‘intuitive’ gifts.

The writing was good, the plot got a bit silly there at the end, but it was a decent, if derivative, read.  I give The Drifter a C+ (3.6*) and something that fans of Reacher might enjoy or be annoyed by.  I’ll likely try book two, but if the ‘white noise’ distraction remains disruptive, I’m done.

***************************************************

Image result for The Midnight Line cover

From a Jack Reacher wannabe to the real thing, The Midnight Line was unexpected and kind of timely and Lee Child’s best book in a while.  Like most Reacher books, it starts off with him wandering a small town while waiting for his next way out – preferably somewhere warm, a LOT warmer than Wisconsin.  But seeing a West Point graduation ring, one that HAD to be earned by a woman given its size, in the window of a pawn shop, sets the plot in motion.  This is Reacher – the real thing – and the pawn shop owner tells him how the stuff in his shop REALLY gets there.  That sends Reacher not south to where it warm – but across the Great Plains determined to return the ring – and smelling a crime behind the whole thing.

But the pawnbroker made a call, and some guys are waiting for ‘Bigfoot’ in the tiny town.  Everyone makes mistakes and Reachers gets his next clue and the little rat who set him up gets killed by his boss.  So Reacher gets colder as he heads to Wyoming where he finds the ring’s owner living in a tent with some other ex-soldiers who the VA have kicked from the system despite obvious physical and mental issues, including severe chronic pain and mental issues.  This is Reacher.  He helps them ………… well I’ll let you find out.

Better than many of his recent books.  I could have done without the sex bit.  The Midnight Line get a B- (3.7*) from me.  Not his best, but the best of his most recent books.

*********************************************

Image result for hardcore twenty four

Janet Evonavich keeps this tired series limping along in Hardcore Twenty-Four.  Steph is still wrecking cars, sleeping with 2 men and eating at mom’s.  There’s also a giant boa constrictor named Ethel on the loose, raccoons raiding a broken down trailer, a naked bail jumper (no Vaseline this time), and sexy Morelli and Ranger.  And there’s always Lula.  And just for laughs, the enigmatic Deisel shows up and starts sleeping in her place.

Now you’d think with all this going on it would be fun, if not blessed by a coherent plot.  Laughs were few and forced.  The plot hectic and often in WTF territory.  Whole scenes are reruns from earlier books.  The Zombies are new.  Not real – but when your plot centers around a grave robber and stolen brains and a missing insane scientist who usually works for some secret government agency, well, let’s just say the plot needed work.  A LOT of work.  Starting with throwing it out and doing some more believable.

If you think you’d like X Files Meets Lucy and Ethyl, give it a try.  But please DO NOT BUY THIS JUNK.  Get it from the library.  Mine was loaned in ebook from a friend.  Free is good.  Hardcore Twenty-Four gets a D+ (2.4*) and a suggestion it’s for the desperate only.

****************************************************

Image result for the tomb of the honey bee

Book 2 in the Posie Parker series, The Tomb of the Honeybee by L.B. Hathaway is set in 1920’s London, an historical mystery in the Golden Age of mystery, was a decent read – except I knew who did it.  Still, the characters were good and the plot interesting with unexpected trips to France and Egypt thrown in.

It all starts when a distraught and somewhat disheveled Lady Violet Boyton-Dale arrives at her office asking her to take a case pro bono to find her famous adventurer brother Alaric Boyton-Dale.  She pleads with the reluctant Posie to come out to the manor for the weekend.  Nothing about the weekend feels right to Posie and soon she off to the South of France where her erstwhile boyfriend and business partner is supposedly staying with dear old dad while he recuperates from serious health problems.  She’s shocked to find him married to his ex-girlfriend to whom he lied about the large reward Posie got on her first case.  Posie proves tough and resilient and realizes she was lucky to have lost a chronic liar in Len, but frankly, it was all kind of – “Is it me, or does this whole thing seem odd to you?”.

Her search for Alaric is well done and finding him ends up putting them both at risk – and is a bit OTT.  As I said, I knew who did it but getting the confession is fascinating.

The Tomb of the Honeybee is a good read despite some holes in the plot and I give it a C+ to B-  (3.6*) rating.  Read in e-book and that’s what I would suggest.  Print is overpriced.

 Happy Holidays!

 

Advertisements

December 21, 2017

Paperback Swap (PBS)

Filed under: Editorial — toursbooks @ 1:24 am
Tags: , , ,

With some trepidation and a feeling that the site was withering on the vine, I returned to PBS.  I played in some swap games and argued with folks on the political affairs forum – and then a very strange thing happened.

PBS showed the site was not secure.  They corrected the login page and swear the kiosk where they sell junk is safe but ………………… well, nothing else is.  Now being somewhat security conscious while keeping in mind there isn’t much there that’s correct, I pressed them a bit and was contacted by a woman in the IT department and assured the site with our names and addresses and all manner of private info being exchanged by what PBS calls, incorrectly, ‘Private Messaging’ was getting converted to a secure site.  I began making deletions and changes.  I also posted two threads, one on the political forum and on on the general chat forum warning folks about the security issues.  PBS naturally came in and “Oh dear, it was just us forgetting to pay the fee for the security for an hour or so.  All is well.”  When I pointed out all but the Login was unsecured, they came back with ‘how hard it was to changes everything to https format’.

Now, remember, most of us are PAID members.  I’m not on a ‘free’ site anymore and haven’t been for 3 years.  And in 3 years they haven’t managed to secure the site.  I was not impressed.

BUT WAIT!  THERE’S MORE!

A stranger wanders into tiny little Current Affairs and Politics (CAAP) forum and starts a thread.  The thread title “THOU  SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS”.  No, that is not a joke.  Some complete twit actually had the unmitigated temerity to use a Biblical quote, and not just any old quote, one of the Ten Commandments.  Apparently, the poster, Len, uses a rather modern bible as the quote is normally “Thou SHALT not bear false witness….”  Now I am an agnostic and knew both those things, and also knew the commandment had to do with perjury more than general falsehoods although they too are covered.  But he posted a somewhat questionable graph and article about the number lies Trump has told vs Obama.  Now these ‘lies’ are not weighted in any way, a deliberate oft-repeated whopper like ‘If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance!’ vs cheating on your golf score or lying about your weight both equaled 1.

It also did not count how many time the answer was evaded, side-stepped, responded to with a non-sequitur, or simply ignored.  Obama was a master at those things.  Trump’s mouth is in gear before he thinks.   Never give a straight answer when and equivocation will do.  Chris Wray, Director of the FBI, did that by constantly saying, “We’ll wait for the Inspector General’s report,” to question from Committee members.  (I’m not counting on living that many years.)

So there’s a bit of back and forth – and I even eschewed remarking on this thread title and then I thought, “What the hell is a PBS Team Member who has extensive access with the powers that be doing on a political forum?  This doesn’t seem right.  It’s like a judge dating one of the lawyers trying a case in his court.”  hummmmm  So I am extremely uncomfortable.  All the forum members have different jobs and experiences and a wide variety of expertise and life experience, but there we are all equal.  A PBS Team Member is an insider with access none of us have to both personal information and people in power.  This bothers me.  If he wishes to engage in political debate, he should go to a site where he too is naught but an equal.  There are thousands to choose from.

Thinking about this more bothered me enough to send an email to Richard Pickering, the nominal owner of PBS.  I get a reply from the ever-anonymous, and super secret, and feared employee, The Librarian.  All these years and no one has ever ‘come out’ and admitted to being The Librarian.  Speculation is rampant.  Perhaps they get taken by a demon if caught out and new Librarian appointed.  Now one does not bandy words with The Librarian.  Well, except me.

After politely expressing my concerns to Mr Pickering, who ignored me, his loyal minion wrote:

Dear xxxxx,

The Team is usually far too busy to participate in Forums; we have no policy against it, though.

Len is our head programmer. He is an integral part of the Team, and we know him to be invariably gracious, patient, genial, kind, well-informed, and very highly intelligent. Without reading any of his recent posts, we strongly believe that if he has chosen to participate in the Discussion Forums, those who encounter his posts should consider themselves fortunate to have his contribution to the discussion.

As long as Len is being courteous, we don’t know why it would make you uncomfortable to have him participate in Forums. He is not your “boss” — he does not actually close accounts or reprimand members (although he *could* do those kinds of things, he is far too busy keeping the site running, and overseeing members is not his responsibility). Also, if you are doing something in Forums that you fear will get you “in trouble”, you should not be doing it! 🙂

It’s also wise to bear in mind that any member of the Team, or any member of the club, can “lurk” in any Forum at any time (meaning, read without posting), so you should not consider any communications there to be privileged or private. You should not be sharing anything in Discussion Forums that you aren’t comfortable with anyone (Team member or not) reading.

Luckily, there is an easy solution if you don’t like Len’s posts: you can click “Ignore this member” on one of them, and you will not see them anymore. It would be a shame in our opinion — you would be passing up an opportunity to learn something — but that is your choice! Also, if it makes you uncomfortable to have one of the Team participate in a particular discussion, you can always recuse yourself from that particular topic and let a few days pass; chances are good that Len won’t have the leisure time again for a good while, and there are plenty of other discussion topics in which to participate.

Of course, if you feel that Len has been discourteous or abusive, please specify the text to which you object and give us a link, and we’ll look into it!

All the best,

The PaperBackSwap Team

 

So, without checking anything, Len is praised as the font of wisdom that we poor, pitiful, uneducated, benighted, souls should look to for enlightenment.  And as an encore, he’ll walk on water and do the loaves and fishes!!!!!!!!  I don’t know about you but I sure as hell wasn’t feeling all that ‘fortunate’ about arguing with the HEAD PROGRAMMER of a site that has personal information on me!  Now anyone with an ounce of sense would stop there, but, well, I was REALLY pissed at the patronizing, condescending tone that twit took with me.  So naturally I replied:

 

By the way, as Head Programmer, you just admitted he has at his disposal all the skills and equipment to destroy my life.  Yeah, I want him on a political form.  Lurk all you like.  You run an unsecured site, so if I’m supposed to be impressed by his dedication, you’re crazy.

 

OK, there go both my Queen of Tact and Miss Congeniality Awards for 2017.  I might even get booted for a more …….. er, pointed post in the thread.  Yes, I did mention the bit about loves, fishes, and walk on water thing.  I also might have said something about The Librarian either being his mother or in love with him.

 

I don’t know which is worse, the moron from PBS who thinks Len walks on water and does the loaves and fishes routine, believes everyone here is so stupid and uneducated we need his brilliance and insight to manage our pitiful, ignorant, depressing, uneducated lives, plus we mustn’t be naughty because almighty PBS might be watching!  I assume The Librarian is Len’s mother or is madly in love with him.  She also thinks PBS customers need to be spoken to like dimwitted 5 year olds.  She obviously missed her calling as the Commandant of a daycare stalag.  I do so love being patronized and condescended to.  Malice drenched in sugar.

 

That post might just put me in the running for the Sarcastic Bitch Award.
I sent The Librarian’s response to Pickering with the following:

 

Are these people related?  Married?  Or does she just worship Len from afar?
I would be passing up an opportunity to learn something????  ARE YOU PEOPLE ALWAYS DEMEANING TO YOUR PAYING CUSTOMERS????   That twit called me ‘stupid’ about 4 times – albeit in the most patronizing and condescending manner possible.  You and she know nothing of my accomplishments or education.  You know nothing about me.  
But I will say this, if you want to backhand insult your own customers, you managed nicely.  Too bad your Librarian didn’t think that perhaps the golden boy Len might learn something from others.  Obviously, he knows it all.
That sandbox crack about getting myself ‘in trouble’ is so infantile I’m between speechless and wanting to dope slap the jerk who wrote it.
No wonder PBS is in a death spiral.  I’ll help give it a good kick on my blog.

 

Well, I’ve kept my word.  Here is the blog post about the idiots that run PBS.  My advice – RUN AWAY!

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.