Sunday, May 20, 2018

By Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank

Sometimes Dottie Frank has me laughing so hard I fear I may have to change my panties, other times are a total miss. Luckily for me, this time was a winner. I had the good fortune to hear the author the week before the book was officially out, when she co-hosted and spoke at the spring Books and Authors luncheon, sponsored by the Post Courier. One of the authors had to bow out at the last minute, so  Ms Frank filled in. As usual, she was warm, engaging, and downright hilarious. If you ever have the chance to hear her speak, regardless of if you like her books or not (or like me, like some of them, but are not fond of others) go hear her. For her fabulous ability to engage an audience while speaking, she is one of my favorite authors, let alone for her ability to catch elements of the lowcountry in her writing. She's got a way with words, and an eye for what makes entertaining reading (as evidenced by this book, inspired by her two children each getting married, and by the birth of her first grandchild.)

For the record, DBF had a magic way with the rules of publishing and was able to swing copies her book for the luncheon, the week before the actual publishing date. I didn't complain!

From the publishers:
In this thoughtful, timely, humorous, and bighearted tale, perennial New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank examines what happens when a young sophisticated Chicagoan falls for the owner of a farm on Johns Island, a lush Lowcountry paradise off the coast of South Carolina-trading the bustle of a cosmopolitan city for the vagaries of a small southern town.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Lies That Bind US by Andrew Hart

Despite the fact it's taken me a few weeks to sit down at the computer and write my thoughts, it's not the fault of the book or the author. I broke my patella a month or so back, and my computer sits in a location at my home quite inconvenient to wiggling in with ambulation aids. I am loathe to do much on my iPad or phone, because I make so many typos anyway, and that number multiplies on those devices. It's really vanity speaking, because I like Andrew Hart and enjoy the few conversations I've had with him when he's used his other name, so don't want him believing me to be a total dullard. Ah vanity...
As to the book, I truly enjoyed it. A good suspense novel engages the mind and grabs the attention. This also seemed to grab my fingernails, because several are now mere nubs, when I am sure I had a full set at the start of the book. I loved the weaving of mythology and location into the story.  Mr Hart blended a intriguing tale of friendship, betrayal, and regaining of trust, along with the additional element of danger. The tension ramps up pretty quickly, especially after the fatal flaw of the main character is revealed.
Bottom line? Read the book. You'll get a good yarn, and might just learn something in the process.

From the publisher:
From a prize-winning and New York Times bestselling author comes a chilling novel of deception under the sun…

Jan needs this. She’s flying to Crete to reunite with friends she met there five years ago and relive an idyllic vacation. Basking in the warmth of the sun, the azure sea, and the aura of antiquity, she can once again pretend—for a little while—that she belongs. Her ex-boyfriend Marcus will be among them, but even he doesn’t know the secrets she keeps hidden behind a veil of lies. None of them really know her, and that’s only part of the problem.

Then again, how well does she know them?

When Jan awakens in utter darkness, chained to a wall, a manacle around her wrist, her echoing screams only give her a sense of how small her cell is. As she desperately tries to reconstruct what happened and determine who is holding her prisoner, dread covers despair like a hand clamped over her mouth. Because, like the Minotaur in the labyrinth in Greek myth, her captor will be coming back for her, and all the lies will catch up to her…

Monday, May 14, 2018

Immediate Dead by Blue Cole

love the premise of this story: Young cop gets transferred Homicide and is paired with the notorious detective nicknamed The Reaper, who has closed out far more cases than everyone else. His secret (and it is a secret from everyone he works with) is that he's able to converse with the recently dead. His prime witness is the person just knocked off. Pretty cool, huh? But even his plucky, organized, and smart new partner doesn't know his secret. Will his surly introverted nature run her off, or will they go on to become a team made in heaven (or hell, depending on how you view things)? And remember, she's plucky, organized, and smart, and intent on finding out what's driving him.

This was my first Blue Cole book, and an early one of his. The premise, as I said, wowed me. I'm looking forward to following the characters, and also watching the author evolve in his craft. Also, it was fun to see characters named after folks Blue and I both know through the ever wonderful JordanCon, a yearly fantasy con dedicated to the memory of Robert Jordan, which is fast turning into a celebration of fantasy literature and art, while remaining a heck of a good time.
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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Cold Bath Street by A.J. Hartley

I will be honest: stories that dip into horror are not my thing, but AJ Hartley is one of my favorite authors, so I decided to read this. It wasn't easy getting a copy. When I first tried, the book was not even listed on amazon (now listed, but currently sold out, as the book has gone into a second printing.), and unheard of by other booksellers. I finally tracked a copy down through Book Depository (fantastic service and free shipping to the US from UK). Was it worth it? You betcha!

Preston Oldcort's nightmare returned. The Bannister Doll, with all its ghostly horror had come after him, and he finds himself flat out on the sidewalk, waking from the terror-- only to find that it is true, and he is dead, trapped in an in-between place, where the all the horrors of the ghost world  are real.

AJ Hartley set this book in his hometown, and uses the setting, including the local legends and stories to full advantage. AS I said, horror isn't my genre of choice, but a well-told ghost story is terrific. And this is a good tale. (Plus the cover is maybe one of my all-time favorites. You have to see it in person to understand the true nature of it, though I did put up a video over at Instagram.

2018-read, a-favorite-author, great-cover, made-me-look-something-up, met-or-know-the-author, not-my-usual-read, read, ya-lit

Publisher blurb:
Preston Oldcorn is in a desolate void between life and death. In order to save his soul he must brave his greatest fear - Cold Bath Street. A gothic thriller - think Hunger Games crossed with Artemis Fowl - that will keep you gripped to the end. Stunning black and white illustrations throughout.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Everlasting Nora by Marie Miranda Cruz

Listen up all you school librarians and parents of middle school age readers: This is a beautiful book for middle schoolers. It taught me so much about a culture of which I know very little. The world can be a scary place, and bad things can happen to those we love. Yet friends can help us through those tough times and even in finding solutions. It reminds me, yet again, why one of my favorite quotes is from Aesop: No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Thanks to Nora, and Marie Miranda Cruz, I now know more about the cemetery culture/community in the Philippines.

I received my copy from Tor Books. Sorry it took me so long to write my thoughts. Nora is a great character for the target audience. There's a great balance of threat and positive resolution, while also tackling some issues that exist in many cultures.

Tags: tor, 2018-read, first-novel-or-book, taught-me-something, thought-provoking, kids-of-most-ages, made-me-look-something-up, made-me-think, advanced-reader-copy

From the publisher:
An uplifting middle-grade debut about perseverance against all odds, Marie Miranda Cruz's debut Everlasting Nora follows the story of a young girl living in the real-life shanty town inside the Philippines' North Manila Cemetery.


After a family tragedy results in the loss of both father and home, 12-year-old Nora lives with her mother in Manila's North Cemetery, which is the largest shanty town of its kind in the Philippines today.

When her mother disappears mysteriously one day, Nora is left alone.

With help from her best friend Jojo and the support of his kindhearted grandmother, Nora embarks on a journey riddled with danger in order to find her mom. Along the way she also rediscovers the compassion of the human spirit, the resilience of her community, and everlasting hope in the most unexpected places.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Thoughts on two books by Margaret Killjoy

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion (Danielle Cain #1)


I think I've found a new author to add to my favorites list. I'm not much of a traditional horror fan, but Killjoy didn't write a traditional horror story. For starters, the main character is homeless, queer, punk traveller, who comes to an anarchist squatter settlement in Freedom, Iowa, in search of answers as to why her best friend killed himself after leaving there. The semi-utopia she finds in Freedom has some deeper darkness below the surface: power struggles, magic, and a demonic bloodred deer with three antlers. All wrapped up in some pretty decent writing. Even better, there's a sequel. Yay!

The Barrow Will Send What it May (Danielle Cain #2)


After I devoured The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion I was really excited to read another novella by Margaret Killjoy, featuring the punk, queer, homeless, anarchist Danielle Cain, fresh on the road with companions from Freedom, Iowa. They're headed out into the world with the loose idea of fighting demons. Their journey takes them to a small town things are not exactly right. For starters, there are a couple of people who have returned from the dead, and occultists running the library. As with the first in this series, I really enjoyed Killjoy's style, and am hoping for more in this series.



I received both books courtesy of Tor Books, as part of a care package to to keep me from going stir crazy while healing from a broken patella. It made falling and breaking myself almost worth it.

Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality by Sarah McBride

Sarah McBride is an amazing woman, a powerhouse in the fight for trans equality. Her own story is beautifully told in Tomorrow Will Be Different. Sarah is honest, forthright, and informative in recounting her journey to bring her from the gender identified at birth to her true gender as female. Because of her political activism, a passion from a young age that grew into a career, Sarah has also had the opportunity to support and fight for gender equality and supportive legislation in Washington DC, her home state of Delaware, and elsewhere in the US. Her fight for equality also brought Andy, a trans man into her life. Their time together was brief, cut short by cancer, but clearly these two remarkable people had something very special. And clearly, the work that the two of them each did to lay the foundations for a world where transgender individuals are safe, respected, supported, and truly equal is incredibly important. It is more than most of us do in a lifetime. Sarah did it before she turned 26. And she hasn't stopped.

Thank you, Sarah. I am in awe of your accomplishments. Thank you for sharing so beautifully the story of your journey and for allowing us to come along. You give me hope.

Thank you to blogging for books for sending me this copy. Sadly this program is ending, but at least I get to go out on a high note with this amazing memoir.