Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Grumpy Jake/ Melissa Blue/ 104 pgs

To be honest, the titular Grumpy Jake is not all that grumpy. However this is still a cute story. Jake is a single dad to a kindergartner, Jayden. Bailey is Jayden's new teacher and she's more than a bit wary of Jake, who has a reputation of sleeping around with his son's preschool teachers. This is a bit icky, but it's not really a huge part of the book. Jake and Bailey end up trapped in an elevator for an afternoon, get to know each other, and end up casually dating. Which leads to much, much more. A short, fun read.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

War of the Damned Series, Book 1 Resurrection Of The Damned / Michael Todd & Michael Anderle / 230 pages

Three months ago, there was a demon invasion. Due to that, old rules are thrown aside as the world figures out just who the enemy really is. A mercenary named Katie is trying to take a much-needed vacation in Los Angeles but  unfortunately, both friends and foes want her in the worst possible way. While trying to enjoy her vacation she is kidnapped, has to help deal with a demon incursion, and exorcises a ghost at the hotel she’s staying at. The government wants Katie either to experiment or dissect to figure out why she is stronger than all the other damned.  Damned are humans possessed by a demon, this gives them abilities to fight and send other demons back to hell. Then the leader of the demons that caused the demon invasion also wants Katie for what, Katie doesn’t know.. Katie's Killers a mercenary group of damned that fight the demons are facing a new reality, one where they are needed more than ever now that the world's eyes have been uncovered. Narrated by Emily Beresford 5h 41min. 

I Bring the Fire Series, Book 4 Fates / C. Gockel / 498 pages

Two years ago Loki, god of mischief and chaos, destroyed a large chunk of Chicago's financial district and then vanished into thin air, at least to most of the world that’s what he did.  But Amy knows that when Loki got a hold of the world seed Cera, she took control of Loki and tried to destroy the world, Loki sacrificed himself to stop her and disappeared. He still has not been found. Amy knows that whenever Loki dies he is reborn without any of his memories and that it’s only a matter of time before he comes back, and Amy has to protect what Loki gave her, all of his memories before he sacrificed himself, but she’s missing some of her own memories from the event.  Others are looking for Loki too, Odin, ruler of the Nine Realms, is desperate. To find Loki, he sends his son Thor on a dangerous quest to consult the all-seeing Norns. But Thor needs humanity's help, Loki's former lover, veterinarian Amy Lewis. Hoping to keep Loki from Odin's machinations, she agrees to help Thor on his journey. Bohdi Patel's memory was wiped by Loki's mischief. He thinks that Amy and Thor are both crazy to want anything to do with Loki. But he needs to find his parents, and he's been told that the Norns will answer any question-for a price. Narrated by Barrie Kreinik 14h 59min.

I Bring the Fire Series, Book 3 Chaos / C. Gockel / 322 pages

Third book in the series, Things are heating up in Chicago for Amy Lewis in more ways than one.  More and more portals are opening up letting in all kinds of dangerous and deadly creatures from the nine realms into the city. Amy is still working for DUO the department of Anomalous Devices of Unknown Origin as a secretary for Steve Rogers and as a kind of liaison between them and Loki, acting as a contact person for them.  DUO needs Loki’s help with all the strange things happening but they definitely don’t trust him and some people higher up want to capture and question him despite all he’s done. The weird relationship Amy has with Loki is getting interesting as they become closer. But Loki is still determined to get the World Seed, Cera from underneath DUO’s headquarters and use it to gain power to destroy Asgard and kill Odin for causing the deaths of his two sons, wife and friend, no matter the cost to himself and others. Amy doesn’t trust Cera knowing she has her own vendetta and wants to control Loki.  Narrated by Barrie Kreinik 9h 8min

Monday, February 10, 2020

Ten Things My Cat Hates about You/ Lottie Lucas/ 400 pgs

Back in the day this would have been known as chick lit. Today it's probably labeled a romantic comedy. Clara can't seem to make a relationship work, although sometimes her cat Casper is to blame, especially when he attacks her dates. She lives in Cambridge, England and works in a museum. Her brother, for unknown reasons, has recently moved in with her. She ends up with two men in her life: Josh, the cat's vet, who seems to only want a good time with Clara; and Adam, a professor who isn't good about sharing his thoughts and feelings. There is definitely a bit of Pride and Prejudice to this. I found the plot very predictable. Clara can't seem to figure out anything that is going on around her and as with the best chick lit heroines, humiliation and embarrassment seem to find her. There are some funny moments and I loved the Cambridge setting (as opposed to London).

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Guild Codex: Spellbound Series, Book 5 The Alchemist And An Amaretto / Annette Marie/ 296 pages

As a guild bartender, Tori can handle pretty much anything thrown her way, mages, sorcerers, druids, witches, the occasional demon. But anything family-related and she’d rather run for the hills. So why on earth did she agree to spend the holiday with her three best guy friends Aaron, Ezra, and Kai at Aaron family’s home, which is a giant castle that is also a school.  Meeting his famous parents is already terrifying enough, but there are bigger problems. Students of Aaron’s family's renowned mage academy are being attacked on the grounds and somehow no one has seen a single assailant. Unexplained tracks litter the nearby woods, rumors of forbidden alchemy are circulating the campus, Ezra has been acting strangely since they arrived, and Aaron is falling back into his old way surrounded by the upper class elite at the school.  Something deadly is brewing in the shadow of Sinclair Academy, and the longer Tori and her friends take to uncover it, the more dangerous it becomes. But no matter the risk, they’re determined to protect the students. And Aaron's parents too, If they have to. Narrated by Cris Dukehart 6h 55min.

Friday, February 7, 2020

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter/ Erika Sanchez/ 344 pgs

Young Adult is not something I routinely read but every now and then one catches my eye, as this one did. The book focuses on Julia Reyes' last two years of high school in Chicago. Julia has all of the teenaged angst you'd expect but her stress is multiplied because her older sister dies at the beginning of the story, her parents are immigrants from Mexico, and her family is poor. While I can see why Julia drove her mother nuts with her behavior, I could definitely sympathize with Julia too. She's smart, she wants to go to college, she wants to be a writer. None of these are things her mother understands, plus her mother has her own worries. This is a vivid story about one young girl trying break outside of herself and make her own way. The blurb hints at a mystery and there is one, but it's only given sporadic attention and is not the focus of the book.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey

The river of doubt : Theodore Roosevelt's darkest journey

Candice Millard.
416 Pages

Pub New York : Doubleday, 2005.2005

An extraordinary and thrilling account of Theodore Roosevelt’s journey to find the origin of the Rio de Duda, or the River of Doubt. The story sets its pace after Theodore has just given his speech for the presidential elections of 1912 where he was shot in the chest by a saloonkeeper John Schrank. Even after being wounded in the chest, he spent 90 minutes finishing the speech. Despite his heroics, he failed to win the nomination. What followed was a depressive period, which was soon remedied by an invitation to give a series of speeches in South America by the invitation. Beginning as a simple tour of several South American cities, evolves into an amazing and dangerous tour up the River of Doubt to find its source. The U.S. President as a boy was a keen naturalist and saw this as an opportunity to pursue his lifelong dreams. Accompanied by his son Kermit, and several other naturalists, adventurers, and C├óndido Rondon, Brazil's most famous explorer and the river's discoverer. The journey begins blighted by ill prepared plans with poorly thought out supply provisions: caviar, china, untested rafts, and other exotics. What follows is a journey cursed by starvation, malaria, being stalked by the cannibalistic Cinta Larga tribes, and even murder. At one point, a severely ill Theodore pleads to be put to death in order to save the rest of the expedition. In fact, after returning to the US, Roosevelt never recovered his health after his harrowing expedition. The author Candice Millard gives a portrayal of Theodore’s character and moxy, and the intricate and interlaced environment of the Amazon.

The One for You/ Roni Loren/ 442 pgs

This is the final book in a series that I have absolutely loved. This one centers around Kincaid, a feisty real estate agent who just rashly bought a farmhouse with the dream of turning it into a B&B. As with the other books in the series, Kincaid is a survivor of a school shooting. Her then boyfriend, Graham, died that night. She, however, does not have any memories of the evening, which is explained later in the book. Growing up, Kincaid's best friend was Ashton, a nerdy bookish boy who, unbeknownst to her, had a massive crush on her. To escape his parents and the aftermath of the shooting, Ashton left town right after graduation and is now a successful author. However, his leaving gutted Kincaid. For reasons, they are both back in town now and in charge of getting a bookstore ready for sale. This is another wonderfully romantic novel from this author.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Gwendy's Magic Feather / Richard Chizmar / 328 pages

This is the sequel to the book Stephen King and Richard Chizmar co-wrote, Gwendy's Button Box.  Gwendy Peterson is now thirty-seven years old and is a representative in the United States Congress.  She returns to office in Washington one day after a meeting and finds the mysterious button box of her childhood sitting on her desk.  The box was entrusted to her one summer by Richard Farris, a mysterious stranger.  The buttons if pressed could cause catastrophic events in any part of the world.  Gwendy takes the box home with her over the Christmas holidays.  The box has effects over her mother's battle with cancer and with the disappearance of three girls from the town.

The Shoemaker's Wife / Adriana Trigiani / 470 pages

This story is based on the author's grandmother.  The story begins in Italy in the early 1900s.  Enza is the oldest daughter of a large family.  Ciro is being raised with his older brother at a convent after their mother leaves them there when their father is killed in a mining accident in America.  Their mother is mentally unable to care for them.  Enza and Ciro meet when Ciro is hired to dig the grave of Enza's youngest sister who has died.  Shortly after this Ciro immigrates to the United States and becomes an apprentice to a shoemaker.  Later Enza and her father also immigrate to America to earn money to send home to the family to build their own home.  Ciro and Enza both end up in New York City and their paths cross several times, until at last after Ciro returns from fighting in World War I they get married.  From there they move to Minnesota to set up their own shoe business.  This was a beautiful story that does a good job telling the immigrant experience in the United State.

The Silent Patient / Alex Michaelides / 323 pages

Alicia Berenson is a famous painter married to a famous fashion photographer.  One evening her husband returns home late from work and Alicia shoots him five times in the face.  Police arrive to find her with the gun, but Alicia never speaks a word.  She refuses to talk or explain all through her trial.  She is found guilty and is put in a secure psychiatric unit in North London.  Over the years Alicia continues her silence and her art work increases in value.  Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who is fascinated by Alicia's case and when a position opens up at the facility that houses Alicia, Theo applies and is hired.  Thus, Theo sets out to try to get Alicia to talk.  The results of his efforts lead to unexpected consequences and takes the reader on a thrilling journey!

Thursday, January 30, 2020

A Fatal Winter / G. M. Malliet / 364 pages

Max Tudor is the priest in the small English village of Nether Monkslip.  His former occupation was in the intelligence community and as a result the local police come to him to help investigate crimes.  In this story a bother and sister, Lord Footrustle and Lady Baynard,  living in nearby Chedrow Castle are found dead.  Max is called on to go to the castle and to interview the long-lost greedy relatives who have recently come to visit at the castle.  With the information he gathers he solves the mystery of who is responsible for the murders.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time / Mark Haddon / 226 pages

This book is about a mathematically gifted autistic boy, Christopher,  living in England.  The author tells the story from Christopher's point of view. Christopher's mother has left him and his father to live in London with another man.  She can no longer cope with raising an autistic child.  Christopher's father tells him his mother is sick in the hospital and then that she has died.  One day Christopher is in his neighbor's backyard and discovers that the neighbor's dog has been murdered.  Christopher sets out to be a detective and track down clues to solve the dog's murder.  In the process he stumbles on evidence that his father has lied to him about his mother and that she is living in London.  Angry with his father Christopher takes off on his own to London to find his mother.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

A Madness of Sunshine/ Nalini Singh/ 352 pgs

I've always wanted to read something by Nalini Singh but she writes paranormal romance which is not my thing. So I was happy to see she'd written a suspense novel. This one takes place in a remote little town in New Zealand and the descriptions of the landscape really make me want to travel there. Anahera returns to her small hometown after the death of her cheating husband. A lot of ghosts still reside in town, including that of her abused mother, now deceased, and her abusive father, still living. As soon as she returns, a young woman goes missing while on a run. The only police officer around is Will, an outsider banished to this remote town after an "incident." The cast of characters are well done and Singh lets you see them from outsider Will's eye as well as Anahera's, a local but one who's been gone for twelve years. Add in some missing hikers from years ago and the insulated location and this is a tense, well-done suspense. I hope she writes more of them.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Thriver / Mendel Rosenberg / 79 pages

What drew me to this book is that the author lived in St. Louis when he wrote this book.  Mendel Rosenberg lived with his family in Lithuania.  When the Germans invaded Lithuania in World War II the Rosenberg family was forced to move to the ghetto created for Jews in 1941.  Mendel was 14 years old at the time. Eventually the family is transferred to concentration camps.  Mendel's father, grandmother, and brother do not survive the war.  Only Mendel and his mother survive.  The author does a good job telling his story of his life surviving WW II and what he did after the war.

The Pink Suit / Nicole Mary Kelby / 280 pages

On November 22, 1963 President Kennedy and the First Lady travel to Dallas, Texas.  Mrs. Kennedy is dressed in the now iconic pink Chanel-style suit that was the President's favorite.  This novel tells a story of how that suit was created in the New York boutique Chez Ninon.  Kate is an Irish immigrant that works at the boutique and is charged with making this suit.  Although the two women never meet, Kate knows exactly how to make the suit to fit the First Lady.  The story shows how this famous suit also was a big part of Kate's life.

Escape From Paris / Stephen Harding / 206 pages

This is the true story of a small group of downed American aviators in World War II who are hidden and guided out of Nazi occupied France by the French resistance fighters.  The story specifically focuses on American Joe Cornwall and the daughter of the family sheltering him, Yvette Morin.  Yvette and her parents lived and worked at the Hotel des Invalides, a complex of buildings which includes the tomb of Napoleon.  The Morin family with the help of other resistance fighters were able to smuggle in , hide, and help downed Allied flyers escape Nazi France.  Joe Cornwall spent more time with the Morin family due to unexpected circumstances which allowed time for Yvette and Joe to fall in love.  By the time Joe is able to escape he and Yvette are engaged.  Shortly after Joe gets out of France Yvette and her parents are arrested by the Nazis for their resistance activities.  The book follows the story of what happened to Yvette and Joe during the rest of the war and after WWII ends.

Friday, January 24, 2020

I Bring the Fire Series, Part 2 Monsters / C. Gockel / 264 pages

After being attacked by a serial killer, saved by Loki the so called god of mischief, lies, and chaos then dragged to Alfheim, losing every cent in her bank account because Loki decides to borrow it, and caring for her ill grandmother, Amy Lewis has lost her scholarship to veterinary school. But it's all right, she has a plan. If she manages to keep her day job as a receptionist, and her night job as a vet tech, she might be able to get her scholarship reinstated and save enough money for the dreaded "miscellaneous fees." Too bad her regular boss had to take care of some things and her new temporary boss is unbearable.  Agent Steve Rogers (not related to Captain America) has political aspirations, but when a suitcase nuke turns out to be something much worse and so-called Norse gods start showing up in his life, he has a priority shift, and is transferred from the career path of his choosing to DUO the department of Anomalous Devices of Unknown Origin. Meanwhile, Loki's priorities and plans haven't changed at all. He wants Asgard to burn for Odin’s part in murdering his sons, ex-wife, and mentor. Of course, earthly pleasures can be so distracting.These three disparate characters have little in common, but they'll have to join forces to save the earth from trolls, wyrms, frost giant invasions, and an old evil growing beneath Chicago's streets.Narrated by Barrie Kreinik 7h 18min.

I Bring the Fire Series, Part 1 Wolves / C. Gockel / 254 pages

Driving across america from California to Chicago, Amy Lewis is on her way to her grandma's house for her summer break from college and she's being chased by a very bad predator. Galaxies away Loki, is waking up in a prison cell, strangely without a hangover, and with no idea what he's done wrong-this time, anyway. Thor is hiding something, Odin is up to something wicked, and there seems to be something that he's forgotten.  It seems that Thor has broken his oath to Loki to protect his sons and Odin is determined to execute them for “treason” against the throne. In the process of breaking out of prison and trying to save his sons Loki falls through a portal to Earth and ends up saving Amy. Now Loki and Amy must join forces to outwit gods, elves, magic sniffing cats, nosy neighbors if Amy can convince him not to be too distracted by Earthly gadgets, Earthly pleasures, or three-day benders, they just might pull it off. Narrated by Barrie Kreinik 7h 25min.