Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny


Chief Inspector Gamache - Book 8

This 8th book of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache quite honestly broke my heart a little.

Louise Penny doesn't just write mysteries, she writes about human beings. People in all sorts of troubles, with all sorts of flaws, and with both moments of deepest despair and the supreme joy. I guess one could say she writes about the human condition - unless that's too much of a cliché. :)

So for the first time, we do not visit Three Pines. We don't even really get a mention of Three Pines and I think that's by deliberate design. Three Pines is a place of healing and peace, (despite being the per capita murder capitol of Quebec) and there is really not a lot of peace and healing to be found by the end of The Beautiful Mystery.

The murder occurs in a monastery hidden deep in the wilderness of Quebec and the only members of the Sureté sent to investigate are Gamache and his second in command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir.

Now, I had thought that since the end of the previous book, A Trick of the Light, things were on the upswing with Gamache and Beauvoir, and the first half of The Beautiful Mystery seemed to bear that out. Then it all goes to hell. The problems of the monastery are reflected in the problems of the Sureté and the problems of Jean-Guy and Armand and I have to say that I finished the last quarter of the book with a palpable feeling of dread. One that did NOT disappear with the closing lines - so I started the next book right away and those that know me, know I don't DO that. *LOL*

I have to say that I didn't completely get all the details of the explanation of the mystery. I didn't matter though, not really, I understood the emotions behind the actions. :)

So, yes, I am on Book 9 (and weeping because I only have 2 more after this and then the new one that just came out) and I can honestly say that I love this series more and more with every book.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Enjoy the Dance by Heidi Cullinan


Dancing - Book 2

I was able to read this early because I am a patron of Heidi's on :)

Heidi is one of my favourite authors and I was so looking forward to this book, the second book in the Dancing series. The first one, Dance With Me, was the first book of Heidi's that I ever read and I adored it, so I was very eager to read this long-awaited sequel.

The first quarter of Enjoy the Dance was disappointing. (And it kills me to say it.) I felt as if I was reading a series of articles on the GLBQT homeless youth community in Minnesota. I understand that this is a subject very dear to the author's heart and it should be important to all of us, but selfishly, I didn't want to feel lectured while reading about Spenser and Tomas' love story, and that's how I felt during the first quarter of the book while the teenager that brings them together, Duon, got settled. I learned little about any of the characters - and characters that I love are Heidi's strong suit, so this was especially disappointing. I know the author possesses the talent to make her readers aware of all this stuff through the presentation of her characters, but it didn't happen this time, I'm afraid.

But the other three-quarters of the book were WONDERFUL! The characters came to life, the relationships were created and things began to move forward. Spenser, the kindergarten teacher is a lovely character. Calm, sweet, smart, instinctively wise... I liked him an awful lot. The object of his affections, the fellow who lives across the hall, Tomas, is the dancer and some of my favourite scenes have to do with him dancing with Duon and Laurie (one of the MCs from the first book) en pointe.

Spenser and Tomas fall in love easily and quietly and simply, despite all the hurdles they have to overcome - Duon's future with them, marriage equality, immigration problems, prejudice at Spenser's job, Spenser's scars from his youth in the system... my GOD there were alot of them! And I ended up in tears more than a couple of times during the final chapters.

So, despite the near lifeless read of the first quarter of the book, the rest of it picked up most wonderfully and gave me the Heidi read I love so much.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Sims by F. Paul Wilson


Sims was recommended to me by my friend Mike when I expressed an interest in Wilson's latest novel, Panacea, and was going to have to wait because I won't pay $14 for an ebook.

I really enjoyed it! It was a real page turner, I have to say. Part of that was helped by the way that Wilson wrote the book, using mostly small chapters which gives the book a brisk pacing perfect for a thriller.

There were some nice twists and turns in the book, some that I saw coming and some that I didn't. But I think it's okay to see some because then you don't feel like a moron while you're reading. *LOL* I loved the character of Patrick, the lawyer, and I loved the sim Tome. The bad guys were suitably bad and the good guys were suitably good, as should be. I did find myself wondering a bit at the epilogue about what Patrick was actually doing - everyone else important was accounted for and I had to take off a half a star for that.

I wonder why they never made a movie out of this book, it would seem to me to be a perfect property.

So, yup, I really enjoyed my read. :)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fairs' Point by Melissa Scott


Astreiant - Book 4

From one police procedural to the next, it seems. This one, Fairs' Point is set in the fantasy city of Astreiant and is the fourth in the series starring Nicco Rathe, the cop and Phillip Eslingen, the soldier as they solve the latest mystery to come their way.

The story takes place around the yearly dog races and Phillip actually acquires a young pup. I must say, the scenes between him, the dog and the young dog trainer, Naimi, that he hires to take care of the young racing dog are some of my favourites in the book.

We meet a few of the characters from the three previous books and it is lovely to see them again. I'm especially fond of Sohier, Rathe's co-worker and wished to see more of her.

The politics of Astreiant are twined around the mystery as they have been in previous books, and once again, they leave me confused, but I think all that means is that I can't extrapolate some of the clues that are laid in the mystery, so when the climax comes, I'm more surprised than maybe the average reader. *LOL*

Phillip is still my fave of faves and I'm very glad he and Nicco are settling into their relationship, and are able to solve the bumps that come along the way. They make for a good partnership all around! :)

Hopefully Melissa Scott is working on the next in the series, Point of Sighs, because I need more of this whole cast of characters. I hear hints that it might be about Rathe's friend, Istre b’Estorr, who I quite adore too.

In short, I just need more Astreiant!

Vigilante Season by Peter Kirby


Luc Vanier - Book 2

I enjoyed this second of the Luc Vanier crime novels. While I don't love Luc Vanier in the way that I love Armand Gamache, I do appreciate and enjoy his darker and grittier tales.

Set in Montreal once again, this time focussing on the Hochelaga district, Peter Kirby gets the atmosphere and locale pretty much bang on. And this time, there's quite a bit of despair and darkness swirling around our hero, with the seemingly-hopeless case and the problems in his own personal life. To be honest, while I don't mind gritty and rough, I could have done with a little less doom and gloom. Mind you, there is a dark side to many things Quebecois and Montrealais, so... I guess it makes sense. *LOL*

So, all in all, a good read and one I can recommend if you like gritty police procedurals.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford


Kai Gracen - Book 1

Ah, Rhys Ford has steadily become one of my go-to authors. She never disappoints and often even totally delights. Like this time. :)

Black Dog Blues is the first of the Kai Gracen series - a post-apocalyptic urban fantasy type series. What's happened, you see, is that the lands of the Sidhe, the elvin (as Rhys calls them) have merged with the lands of mankind. This premise hits a lot of my sweet spots, I have to say.

Whereas Rhys usually writes a lot of steamy sexytimes and intense romance, this series is different. It's really fantasy, pure and simple, with elves and magic and dark creatures and adventure and while there is a romantic element and Kai is definitely a sexy, sexy creature... it's just a small part of the story so far. This is, after all, Book One. Quite honestly, the few steamyish elements almost felt... out of place, maybe? I did like how the relationship between Kai and Ryder ( the elvin lord) grew and made it from a bad place to a good one. And their banter... Rhys is really good with banter and I love that!

I really enjoyed the world building that went into this ,even though there were times I felt something must be missing, but I think we'll find out more and more as time goes on.

So I really loved this in the end. One of my faves stepping a bit outside of her norm and making it work. And you know... there wasn't a jarring or manipulative cliffhanger - so I gave it an extra half star because Rhys... .well, she loves those damned cliffhangers that I hate. *LOL*
I'm glad I have book 2 (which just came out) already in my Kobo!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Map of Bones by James Rollins


Sigma Force - Book 2

Map of Bones wasn't bad. I had been hoping for more of an early Tom Clancy type of read, but this was a little thin on most counts.

There was a lot of exposition, feeling as if one character telling the others the whole history of the world at times. It certainly shows off that the author did a lot of research. I found it all a bit complicated and more than once it felt like a bit of a slog to get through things and get down to the action.

The characters were okay - generic techno-thriller types with an interesting quirk or two that I thought could have been explored a little more. There was a bit of a romance as there often is in this type of book, but it never hooked me. I actually wanted to know more about what was going on with a couple of the secondary characters more than the main couple.

There were some interesting twists and turns and one HELLUVA twist that managed to catch me completely by surprise. I wanted more about the motivations though.

All in all, this was a pleasant read and should the others in the series (yes, this is apparently the second of the Sigma Force books even though Kobo says it's the 1st.), go on sale for a reasonable price, I'll pick them up. I wonder if they'll deal with the same characters at all? Hmm...

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny


Chief Inspector Gamache - Book 7

It's no secret by this time that Louise Penny is one of my most favourite mystery writers, indeed one of my fave writers PERIOD. A Trick of the Light just reaffirms those facts. :)

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is back with his team, Beauvoir and Lacoste, but after the events of the previous two books, he's changed and in some ways it's for the better, but in a couple of subtle ways, maybe not.

The mystery hits close to home in Three Pines and our good friends Clara and Peter are very much involved. Lots of change there too. There are definitely troubles to get past for most of the cast. Gamache, Beauvoir, Olivier, Clara and Peter... they all have decisions to make and paths to chose.

The mystery, while it's very good and very much in the front of the tale, also reflects what's going on in the regular characters' lives. There are layers in Penny's books, thoughtful and insightful layers. That's why I can't classify them as cosy mysteries - they are so very much more than that. They just juicy and deep and enjoyable and thoughtful and ... well... I love the characters. Even when they're being their terrifically flawed selves - maybe especially then. :)

Damn, I love these books!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Emerald Storm by Michael J. Sullivan


Riyria Revelations - Book 4

I loved this installment of the Riyria Revelations - book 4 if you're keeping count.

My favourite fantasy brothers-in-arms, Royce and Hadrian are back, this time, their travels taking them to sea on the ship, The Emerald Storm. We meet some new characters, Wyatt, Poe, Wesley who bring some surprises to the tale. :)

We also get to follow Arista as she takes on more of her mantle as a magic-wielder. And Modina and Amelia, empress and 'secretary', are back too.

While this book mainly centered on the high-seas adventure and some growth happening back at the empress' residence and the plots therein - it also felt like a big set-up for the next two books in the series (which I went and purchased as soon as I finished this one to make sure I had them in the ereader for when I wanted them. *LOL*). Oddly, this didn't bother me as much as it might have, I suppose because both plot lines were exciting and engrossing enough on their own.

This is classic epic fantasy done well and I'm enjoying the series immensely!