Book Haunt

Book and animal lover of epic proportions.  I read a little of everything. Love SF/Fantasy, mysteries and historical fiction. Oh who am I kidding!  I love ALL books!  I've been an avid reader all of my life.  Mom used to catch me with a flashlight under the covers reading way past bedtime!  I am my most content when I have a book in my hand and feel that a life without books is no life at all!

 

 

His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik

His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire) - Naomi Novik

His Majesty’s Dragon is the first book in the Temeraire series by author, Naomi Novik.

 

Will Laurence is the successful naval captain of Britain’s HMS Reliance.  Laurence comes from well-to-do family, he’s patriotic to the core and he’s got his sights set on getting home to propose marriage.  Little does he know that his life is about to undergo a drastic change.

 

The HMS Reliance has captured one of Napoleon’s French frigates and seized its cargo.  Included in the cargo is an unhatched dragon egg which will hatch before they make land.  In Britain and France, dragons are a valuable asset.  A dragon and its handler are assigned a crew and form part of the Aerial Corps used in combat against the enemy.  It is common knowledge that the dragon’s handler has to be a person that is present at its hatching, and he must be able to harness the dragon.  One of Laurence’s men must be willing to give up his life at sea and go into aerial combat with the dragon.  His man Carver is picked to be that person but much to Laurence’s chagrin, when the baby dragon hatches it has different ideas.  The baby dragon chooses Laurence to be the one that harnesses him. 

 

Laurence names the dragon Temeraire.  When he hatches he is already very knowledgeable.  He began learning the languages of those around him while he was still in the shell.  Did I tell you that these dragons talk too?  Temeraire in particular, takes great interest in learning as much as he can and loves nothing better than having a book read to him.  Laurence is charmed by the little fellow and enjoys his company immensely.  But being Temeraire’s handler means that he will have to give up his navy career and become part of the aerial corps.  He also realizes that his station in life will now be much different and he won’t be able to make that marriage proposal.

 

With Napoleon’s forces drawing close, her Majesty’s forces rally to defend their country.  The question is whether Captain Will Laurence will be defending it from the air or the sea.  Can Temeraire be convinced to accept a new handler?      

 

Captain Will Laurence is a likeable character; he’s a stand-up guy who is well-bred, young and successful, a man you would want by your side in a time of need.  Temeraire is absolutely delightful.  His enthusiasm for learning and everything around him is infectious.  That said, this is definitely an introduction to a series of books and a lot of this book is just fleshing out the story to come.  It’s a fun premise with the combination of humans and dragons set against the background of the Napoleonic Wars.  I enjoyed it and I plan to continue reading.  I am certain that this series has a lot more to offer.

Vici by Naomi Novik

Vici - Naomi Novik

Vici is a short story introducing us to the world of Naomi Novik’s Termeraire series. If you are interested in reading this series, start here and you will get a perfect little glimpse of what you’re getting into.

Worst Journal Ever by Spencer Clark

Worst Journal Ever - Spencer Clark

Reviewed at Book Haunt

Jem: Lessons in Living

Jem: Lessons in Living - John Donald Middleton

Book Haunt review

Buried Secrets by Joseph Finder

Buried Secrets (Nick Heller) by Joseph Finder (2012-01-03) - Joseph Finder

International investigator and ex-Special Forces Operative, Nick Heller was first introduced to us in Joseph Finder’s Vanished, the first book in the Nick Heller series, which I did a review on back in September of 2016.  Here’s the link if you are interest in reading it:  Review of Vanished by Joseph Finder on bookhaunt.com

 

In Buried Secrets, we rejoin Nick Heller a few months later and he has moved from Washington D.C. to Boston to open his own investigative agency.  Nick has brought along his old work associate Dorothy, who is an ex-NSA employee and a digital forensics expert.  He has also hired receptionist and office manager, Jillian Alperin.

 

When an old family friend comes to Nick for help, Nick can’t say no.  Marshall Marcus is the richest guy in Boston.  He was employed Nick’s mother when his father, Victor Heller, went to prison, and treated her and her sons like family.  Now Marshall’s daughter Alexa has gone missing, and Nick agrees to try and locate her.  The case also brings him into contact with an old flame, Diana Madigan, who works for Child Abduction Rapid Deployment.

 

The story switches back and forth from Nick’s POV to the POV of Marshall’s daughter, Alexa.   Alexa is in the hands of a man she thinks of as “The Owl,” who is her only lifeline to the world.  His power over her is absolute.  He has buried her alive with very little food and water, and sends horrifying live video feeds to her family over the internet.  Here the reader feels every moment of Alexa’s terror as if we were there with her.  This kidnapper thrives on the fear he sows and as I read, I got chills down my spine. 

 

Nick knows that he must find Alexa because her time is running out, but he soon begins to realize that Marshall has been sandbagging him.  He has become involved with some very bad people and his reluctance to tell the truth may cost him his daughter’s life.

 

Nick Heller is a boldly drawn character and I have a feeling he’ll be around awhile.  He’s one of those that you shout out loud rooting for.  He never takes anything at face value, operating at full speed and he absolutely does not take any crap from anyone.  But Nick isn’t just a hardcore macho man; he genuinely cares about people.  We see this side in his relationship with his nephew Gabe, a surly teenager that Nick is especially fond of.  Nick and Gabe have some typical adult/teenage banter with Nick constantly jibing him about his taste in music.  Nick much prefers the twangy guitar licks of “The Titan of The Telecaster,” Bill Kirchen.  Somehow in my book this makes him even more interesting.  We also get a glimpse of Nick’s love life as we find out more about his former relationship with the new character, Diana.  Most of us that read these series know that the heroes usually go through relationships like water.  So far in the first two books, it’s hard to tell if that’s the case but I don’t mind reading more to find out.  These are enjoyable, fast-paced reads.

Age of Myth (The Legends of the First Empire, #1) by Michael J. Sullivan

Age of Myth: Book One of The Legends of the First Empire - Michael J. Sullivan

In 2012, I picked up The Theft of Swords – Volume 1 of The Riyria Revelations, which contains the first two books of the series, The Crown Conspiracy & Avempartha by Michael J. Sullivan. I found the books to be quite good and continued on with the series. By the end of the series I had become an avid fan along with a ton of other people and Michael J. Sullivan’s books continue to rank in my favorites. Michael started out writing stories for his children and he now has a huge fan following. He is very involved with his fan base and his books are continually at the top of the Best Sellers in Fantasy. Let me tell you, it’s well-deserved.

 

Age of Myth is book 1 of The Legends of the First Empire series by Michael J. Sullivan. The book starts off with an Author’s Note for those who have read the Riyria books, noting that this series is set three thousand years before the events in those novels. But let me clarify that you don’t have to have read those series prior to reading this one, although I highly recommend you read them some time very soon.

 

For Herkimer and his son Raithe, life on their side of the river in Dureya is not fruitful. Dureya is a barren land and their clan is hungry. So one day Herkimer and Raithe dare to cross the river to hunt and they end up getting caught slaughtering one of the deities’ deer. The deities are those who are called the Fhrey, the most powerful in the land and known throughout as immortal beings.

 

In Dureya, Herkimer is the only man to wield a sword—a metal blade. Herkimer is known as Coppersword and he is a feared and respected man. Because Herkimer fought on the side of the Fhrey for over 30 years against the GulaRhunes, he thinks his indiscretion of being caught with weapons on their side of the river may be excused. But that’s not the case, and in the ensuing fallout, Raithe’s father Herkimer is killed by one of the Fhrey, Shegon. Raithe then grabs his father’s blade and in turn strikes Shegon. Raithe is shocked to learn that although the Fhrey are very long-lived, they are not immortal, as myth would have it. Shegon now lies dead at his hand and Raithe’s life, along with everyone else’s, will forever be changed when the world learns that the gods can indeed be killed.

 

It’s the end of one era and the beginning of another as Raithe finds himself on the run in a strange land with one of the deity’s servants, Malcolm, by his side. As they venture into the Crescent Forest, Raithe realizes that although Malcolm professes to think of his life with the Fhrey as if he were a slave, rather than a servant, he has really led a pampered life compared to Raithe. The two make very off-kilter traveling companions, with the self-effacing Raithe now becoming a legend, accompanied by his hilarious sidekick, Malcolm who takes delight in embellishing Raithe’s feats in order to further his fame as Raithe of Dureya, “The God Killer.”

 

Raithe and Malcolm make their way into the village of the Mystic Dahl Rhen, where the chieftain, Reglan of the House of Mont, currently rules Clan Rhen. They are brought before Reglan’s wife, Persephone, the Lady of the Lodge. Persephone has lost her first son at birth, the second to sickness, and recently the only one who had grown to adulthood was killed by Grin the Brown. Now, as these two newcomers arrive in Dhal Rhen, Persephone learns that Reglan has also fallen to the bear known as Grin the Brown while seeking revenge for their son’s death. But Persephone will need to put aside her grief to become a leader to her people.

 

There is also another recent arrival to Dahl Rhen, a girl named Suri, who is accompanied by a white wolf named Minna. Legend has it that Suri was stolen as a baby by the crimbals, creatures of the forest. In Suri’s case, she somehow got away during her first year of life, and was found and raised by Tura. A child fortunate enough to get away from the crimbals is known as a malkin because they are never quite right again. Suri is indeed an unusual girl, one of those naïve and mysterious characters that I find utterly captivating. She has mystical abilities and talks to the trees. Her latest visions have led her to seek Raglan in Dahl Rhen to let the chieftain know that “we’re going to die.”

 

These are just some of the great characters we are introduced to in Age of Myth, which is the start of an epic six book series. No one builds unforgettable characters, both male and female, like Mr. Sullivan and I cannot wait to see what happens next. Which leads us to the other great thing about Michael J. Sullivan, and that is, as with the Riyria series, the entire series is already written. What that means for us as readers is that we won’t have to wait years for the next book in the series. They already have scheduled release dates. Yippee! I can’t tell you what this means to me! I’m sure a few of you fantasy readers know who I am referring to when I say “oh come on already” whilst I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release of the next book in the series. I know I can name two series that fit this scenario right off the bat! (Note: Not included in the two, but one author who can be excused for this is Robert Jordan, who was diagnosed with a terminal illness while writing his series and did sadly pass away.) Oh but, I got off on a soapbox rant, didn’t I? Back to the subject at hand-->as I said in the beginning of my review, I am always so happy to pick up a book by Michael J. Sullivan, and this book was certainly no exception to that rule. Sullivan is an extraordinary talent in the world of writing and I am confident that if you read his books you will absolutely agree. I didn’t stop with getting the ARC of this book. I actually purchased an autographed copy from the author’s website. Not something I usually do but I have become that much of a fan. I want to read these books over and over and over again  Read Age of Myth, you’ll love it!

 

I want to thank the publisher (Random House Publishing Group- Ballantine) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

Italian: Learn Italian: A Guide To Learning The Basics of A New Language

Italian: Learn Italian: A Guide To Learning The Basics of A New Language - Jenna Swan

This book is exactly what the title says it is. It's easy to understand and my mom and I sat around and had fun attempting to use our Italian. This is a book that will teach you the basics you need to get around on that dream vacation to Italy and you can learn it in a very short time! The layout of the book is very easy to understand, taking you through the basic structure of the Italian language and how to use it in a sentence. If you are looking for a quick introductory guide to Italian this is the perfect book for you!

 

I want to thank the author, Jenna Swan for providing me with the ARC through LibraryThing’s Giveaways program for an honest review.

Beyond the Ice Limit By Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

Beyond the Ice Limit: A Gideon Crew Novel (Gideon Crew Series) - Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child

First off let me say something I didn’t know prior to reading this, but should have, since I’m a long time Preston & Child fan.  Beyond the Ice Limit is a sequel to The Ice Limit published in 2000, which I have somehow missed reading to this point.  That being said, Beyond the Ice Limit is an enjoyable read whether you read it as a stand-alone or a follow-up. 

 

The events that took place in The Ice Limit are well outlined as a historical lead-in to this storyline.  Those events involved the head of Effective Engineering Solutions, Eli Glinn, who is also Gideon Crew’s boss.  Eli Glinn and his team tried and failed to recover a meteorite off the coast of South America.  The mission was a disaster from start to finish, revealing that the whole crew was in way over their heads, and that what they were messing with was not your average meteorite.

 

Now, five years later, Glinn wants Gideon to participate in a new mission, not to recover the meteorite, but to destroy it.   As usual, Glinn isn’t putting all his cards on the table with this new assignment.  But Gideon knows enough about working for Glinn now, to know that his life is in peril.  What the hell, he’s not long for this life anyway, right? 

 

So…a fun (or is that harrowing?) new adventure begins.  I’ve always found thrillers that take place on the sea really keep my on the edge of my seat!  The confined state of a ship, submarine, or any other seagoing vessel is just plain scary to me if you’re trying to get away from something!  This one isn’t an exception.

 

As I’ve said in my previous reviews, this series has grown on me quite a bit and it’s pure escapism.  A fun read from start to finish.  The only tiring thing that each of the Gideon Crew books has in common is that whoever winds up being Gideon’s romantic interest doesn’t seem to have a storyline much past that book, á la James Bond.  But Lincoln and Child always give us a solid read, with a thrilling and adventurous storyline.  These authors have a talent for making you feel as if you’re right in the thick of the adventure.        

 

I want to thank the publisher (Grand Central Publishing) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

 

Billy Maddox Takes His Shot by Jay Lemming

Billy Maddox Takes His Shot - Lemming,  Jay

Billy Maddox reports for his new job as a Border Patrol agent in Nogales, Arizona.  He is a young man who is still trying to find his niche in the world, but is being a Border Patrol agent to right choice for Billy?   

 

When Billy was a child growing up on a ranch in Cochise County, Arizona, his younger brother was killed in a shootout between the Border Patrol and drug mules from Mexico. His father Hector came to hate the illegals that crossed his land, and eventually drew publicity for shooting one of them in self defense. After that, his mother and father sold the family ranch and retreated to Tucson, and Billy’s family was never the same again. Billy was brought up to hate Mexicans and the death of his brother became a taboo subject in their household, leaving Billy with a lot of inner turmoil and anger.

 

Billy is now 23 years old, married and has his own child. He loves his family and wants to be a good husband and father, but his hot temper has kept him from being able to successfully hold down a job. His wife has grown impatient with his failures, and she has given him one last chance to make things work before she takes their young son and leaves.

 

With all this baggage hanging over him, Billy embarks on his new career, trying to fit in and make a place for himself. He knows that he could be setting himself up for a great failure, and he will need to fight his demons every step of the way. Then, just when tensions at home get even worse, Billy finds himself exposed to the very real dangers of being a Border Patrol agent when he and his partner are pursued by drug traffickers and caught up in a deadly shootout.

 

When I read the description of this book, I was very interested. I am an Arizona native, born in Tucson and this, along with the fact that the border situation is an ongoing controversy for all of us who live here in Arizona, grabbed my attention right way. Even though the book takes place in 1999, immigration is still very much a hot topic across the country, as witnessed in the recent presidential election. America’s population has become very torn on their feelings towards illegal immigration. I was very surprised to find that the author, Jay Lemming doesn’t live anywhere near the border. But he has done his research, and he does a great job here of touching on some of the opposing perspectives when it comes to illegal immigration.

 

There’s a lot to like about this book. As I’ve said, it’s culturally and politically relevant to our times, but the fact that it’s about a border patrol agent also makes it unique. There is also a riveting action scene. But what I liked the most is that the author takes a keen look at the American family dynamic. He touches on the very real human emotions, insecurities and struggles that take place within families. I was very caught up in how Billy’s family and friends interacted with each other. Even though the story is told from Billy’s POV, I felt as if I could relate to each and every person and what they were feeling.  This book is well worth the read.

 

I want to thank the author for providing me with a complimentary copy of his book in exchange for an honest review.

The Lost Island by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

The Lost Island: A Gideon Crew Novel - Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child

The Lost Island is Book 3 in the Gideon Crew series.

 

Gideon has wrapped up his latest mission and he is ready to jump right into the next one.  At this point, there’s no question that he will go on working for Eli Glinn at Effective Engineering Solutions.  This time he will be utilizing skills from back in the days before he became a nuclear scientist.

 

There’s a special exhibition at New York’s Morgan Library; the Book of Kells, the finest illuminated manuscript in existence and Ireland’s greatest national treasure.  Ireland’s government is reluctant to let the manuscript out of their hands and has insisted upon the highest security measures during the exhibit.  Gideon has been tasked with a seemingly impossible assignment; he must steal a single page from the manuscript.

 

Gideon started stealing from art museums and historical societies when he was a teenager.  He knows that every security system is vulnerable, either through technology or social engineering.  He will have to use all he knows to turn the impossible to the possible.  It is pure entertainment to read as he once more puts his skills to work to obtain his goal. 

 

Having accomplished the impossibility of stealing the page, Gideon then learns from his employer that there is an ancient Greek map hidden under the illumination.  This map leads to more than your ordinary treasure. 

“The manuscript in question was an early Greek geography, and it described various legendary wonders of the world. Among these was a most intriguing place: an island ‘far in the West, where the earth meets the sky.’ The geography went on to mention a ‘great cave overhung with laurels on the face of a cliff far above the sea.’ There, the manuscript claimed, a ‘secret remedium could be found, the source of eternal healing.’

So now, in the company of his new partner Amy, Gideon sets sail into the dangers of the Mosquito Coast.  Their encounters will be life-threatening but they must find out where the map leads and what strange wonder lies at the end.  It just might be a priceless discovery that could change the world and possibly save Gideon’s life. 

 

Having read other reviews of this series I have to say I disagree with the harsh criticism that I’ve come across.  The authors have drawn from many different areas in this series and they continue to entertain.  I have been a diehard fan of Preston & Child for a couple of decades now.   So far, the Gideon Crew series has been much lighter fare than the Pendergast books, and each one has been good fun.  They delve deeper into the main characters with each book, and at this point in the series, I felt a difference.  It seemed to me that the storyline more closely reflected the sense of mystery and adventure I first felt with these authors back when I read Relic all those years ago. 

Vanished by Joseph Finder

Vanished - Joseph Finder

Joseph Finder’s Vanished is the first book in the Nick Heller series. 

 

Nick Heller is an international investigator working for the high-powered intelligence firm, Stoddard Associates.  His current assignment: locate the missing cargo which was part of a shipment belonging to the Traverse Development Group.  But when all signs point to the case being wrapped up too tidily, Nick just isn’t buying it.   

 

Coinciding with Nick’s case, his estranged brother Roger is kidnapped.  Nick’s relationship with his brother was shattered by their rich father’s highly publicized arrest and imprisonment.  But Nick has stayed close to Roger’s stepson Gabe.  For Gabe’s sake, Nick has to find Roger and protect his family from further threat.

 

As Nick delves further into the two cases he finds out that his employer may be involved a high-level cover-up and that his brother, Roger has been hiding a few secrets of his own. 

 

Nick Heller is an intense and likeable character.  Having been a Special Forces operative, he is tough and street savvy.  Nick also has a reputation for being able to see around corners.  He goes into a case like a dog with a bone and doesn’t give up.  He utilizes many of his past connections to help with his investigations and he’s not afraid to step outside the law when necessary. His circle of friends is a handy group to know and the author provides us with some in-depth knowledge of their investigative techniques.    

 

In the vein of a fine John Grisham novel, Vanished is a brisk thriller that introduces us to a new hero with a lot of depth.  If you are in the mood for good, page-turning escapism, give it a try!        

The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin

The City of Mirrors: A Novel (Book Three of The Passage Trilogy) - Justin Cronin

 

Book Blurb:
In "The Passage" and "The Twelve", Justin Cronin brilliantly imagined the fall of civilization and humanity's desperate fight to survive. Now all is quiet on the horizon but does silence promise the nightmare's end or the second coming of unspeakable darkness? At last, this bestselling epic races to its breathtaking finale.

 



"The world we knew is gone. What world will rise in its place?"

 

The Twelve have been destroyed and the hundred-year reign of darkness that descended upon the world has ended. The survivors are stepping outside their walls, determined to build society anew and daring to dream of a hopeful future.

 


But far from them, in a dead metropolis, he waits: Zero. The First. Father of the Twelve. The anguish that shattered his human life haunts him, and the hatred spawned by his transformation burns bright. His fury will be quenched only when he destroys Amy – humanity's only hope, the Girl from Nowhere who grew up to rise against him.



 

One last time light and dark will clash, and at last Amy and her friends will know their fate.

 

Just reading that will leave you dying to crack the cover if you've been waiting! On we go!

 

In The City of Mirrors, which is the final book of The Passage Trilogy, Cronin starts us off with an excellent recap of the first two books in the trilogy. However, if you haven’t read the first two books of this trilogy, you absolutely should before reading this one. This trilogy is an epic and although each book probably can be read as a stand-alone, I don’t think you would get the full impact.

 

It’s now twenty years after the events that took place at the end of The Twelve and we start out by getting caught up on where each of the beloved main characters are, and what they have been up to. I liked that. Of course, we are dying to know this stuff, why would we keep reading otherwise? Note: In the second book of this trilogy, my excitement was somewhat dampened when a lot of stories with new people were started. What ever happened to some of those people anyway? Although it did end up coming together, there were times when I was just dying to get back to the characters from the first book. So here we are

 

SPOILER ALERT-------

 

Peter has mourned the loss of Amy but he still has dreams of her each night. He has gone on to become a great leader in Kerrville, where the surviving humans are flourishing. New generations have been born and mankind is starting to feel safe again. People are beginning to think of expansion and life outside the gates. Peter’s son Caleb and his family are among those that are moving on.

 

But both Lucius and Michael know that the danger isn’t over. The threat to mankind is still alive. They have joined forces and are working to save the human race. But first they need to let everyone know what they’ve been up to, and try to convince everyone of the threats still to come.

 

After all, there is still one of them out there. Zero, aka Tim Fanning, who was the first to contract the vampire virus and became the father of them all. Alicia, having suffered a ravaging loss, knows Zero is out there, she can hear him in her head. She prepares for battle and makes her way to him in New York City. But before the battle begins, Alicia is given the full life-story of Fanning which is a novel in itself. Fanning’s tale is a tragic story of love and revenge. It is so beautifully told, yet I still found it hard to feel sorry for Zero.

 

In the end, our heroes must come face to face with Zero. Will Fanning's human past allow him to have any mercy, or will the monster that has become Zero prevail? There are some very heart-wrenching endings for some of those we’ve come to love in this story. I really didn’t know what to expect, but let me tell you there are some surprises here and I wasn’t all that thrilled with the way some characters were wrapped up. This many pages into this epic tale, I was looking for a little more payoff. And let me tell you, each and every time you think this story has come to an end it doesn't!

 

I did like the epilogue although it’s a bit lengthy and overdone. The journal, the island, the archaeological finds were riveting. But we don’t really care about the characters in the epilogue, and Cronin takes us so far into their story that it makes me wonder if he has plans for them in future books. And you see, that’s just the trouble with these books, too many stories within the story. I get that it’s hard to span so many years and come up with thousands of pages for a trilogy but there were just too many times that the story veered off in unexpected directions. Another negative is that some of the romantic relationships just didn’t gel for me. Throughout the books I did find the origin of the virus interesting, and I thought that the connection between the vampires and their progeny was a quite believable premise, but I wasn’t especially fond of the dream sequences that took place in these books. There are those between Amy and Carter, Amy and Peter, etc. I just never bought into these. But I guess that’s why they call it fantasy, right?

 

Are you confused about whether I liked it? I am! It would be an understatement to say that I have mixed emotions about this book. I was very conflicted about rating it at all. I think the impact made on each individual reading the trilogy will be profoundly different. Personally, I really liked The Passage, thought The Twelve was just ok and The City of Mirrors has left me flailing somewhere in between. So... do I love Cronin’s writing or not…. hmmmm….. actually I do! His writing is so masterful that it keeps you reading even though you may not always like where you end up. He evokes a roller-coaster ride of emotions and isn't that what great authors strive for? Bottom line, this series IS a classic and I will be reading future books by Cronin.

 

I want to thank the publisher (Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

Whispers in the Mist by Lisa Alber

Whispers in the Mist (A County Clare Mystery) by Lisa Alber (2016-08-08) - Lisa Alber

If you read the review I wrote just prior to this, you’ll see that it was for the first book in the A County Clare Mystery series. Whispers in the Mist is Book 2 of this series by Lisa Alber.

 

I thought the first book was a quick read but not well-developed and I wasn’t wholeheartedly enthused about reading book two in the series. But I’m glad I did. To me the tone of this book was so different that I felt as if I were reading a completely different author. In this book, the characters are fuller, richer. The atmosphere soaks you in. From the time you read the book blurb, you can tell that this book is much different from the first:

There's a whisper in the mists

 

In Lisfenora, Ireland, a strange fog has rolled in off the Atlantic. Along with the fog comes tales of Grey Man, a predatory faery of local lore who snatches innocent souls into his deadly gloom.

 

And with the mists come murder

 

When a teenage boy dies in Detective Sergeant Danny Ahern's arms, Danny finds himself pursuing his own grey man, a killer who becomes more elusive the closer Danny gets to the truth. A mute woman may be the key to solving the murder and helping Danny heal his own broken life, but first she must unlock the memories from her past.

 

Part psychological suspense, part mystery, Lisa Alber's haunting tale of family secrets and broken love won't let you go until the final twist.

We are introduced to new characters that are well-developed and sympathetic this time. I even like Merrit McCallum a bit better than I did in the first book. She seems like a kinder, less self-involved person because she shows more compassion in this book. But let me tell you, I really like the character of Danny Ahern and for me he is the real star here. As I read, I was so caught up in his emotions and the turbulence of his life. I’m super anxious to see where Lisa Alber takes us next and I do hope it has more to do with Danny Ahern and the new characters we’ve been introduced to here.

 

Everything about this book is much more haunting and will stay with me longer. I did figure out who the murderer was early on but the details behind who, what and why made for a good story that kept me reading. This one is more in the tradition of a good Tana French or Maeve Binchy read, and this time I did get that comfy, cozy feel that I love when reading books that take place in Ireland. The jump in this author’s writing talent from one book to the next is astonishing. If Lisa Alber’s writing keeps improving like this, she will be at the top of the best-seller lists in no time.

 

I want to thank the publisher (Midnight Ink) for providing me with the ARC through Netgalley for an honest review.

Kilmoon by Lisa Alber

Kilmoon, A County Clare Mystery - Lisa Alber

It’s June 28, 2008 and the setting is Northern California where we are introduced to Merrit McCallum who is staring at the empty syringe lying beside her on the rug.  Beside her is dead body of the man she called father.  Her mother committed suicide years before.  Merrit is feeling guilty, lost and possibly irredeemable.

   

With her mother’s journal in hand, Merrit travels from California to Lisfenora, a small town in Ireland.  She arrives during the annual matchmaker’s festival that the small town is so well-known for.  Merrit has big plans to meet her real father, Liam Donellan who is known as Liam the Lion, The Matchmaker of Lisfenora. 

 

Upon arrival, Merrit bides her time while trying to figure out how to introduce herself to her father.  She reads snippets from her mother’s journal hoping to unravel the secrets of the past.   As the matchmaking festivities get underway, Merrit braces herself to meet her father.  But things quickly go awry.  Merrit is being blackmailed by Lonnie, and when Lonnie turns up dead, all signs point to her as the murderer.  Her troubled past is catching up to her and she has learned that she’s not the only one who claims to be Liam’s long-lost biological daughter.  Merrit finds herself caught up in a web of deceit and mystery as she struggles to uncover the truth behind what kind of man her father really is. 

 

Kilmoon is a tale of murder, lost love and people yearning to feel like they belong somewhere in a world where life has taken a lot of unexpected turns.  I can’t say I was completely hooked.  It was a fair read but Merrit is just not a very likeable character and I don’t think that the book ever really answered the matter of whether she murdered the man who raised her.  The uncertainty of this creates a main character that is a bit shady and it’s difficult to feel sympathy for her plight.  The town drunk, Marcus, whom Merrit has befriended is a more sympathetic character.  I also didn’t find Liam to be the charismatic character that he was cracked up to be.  Apparently he lost a lot of his charm through the years.  The most interesting character to me is Danny, the town Garda officer, who has been assigned to work the murder, but also has strong loyalties to Liam.   Pay attention to this character, he is the real star.

 

I also generally love any books set in Ireland.  Something about the atmosphere touches my soul, and I usually settle in comfortably, feeling at home.  However, the atmosphere here lacked depth and didn’t give me that cozy feeling.

 

I read this book because I got the ARC of the second book in the series, Whispers in the Mist, from Netgalley.  Having already moved on and read the second book (review to come), I can tell you that the series is worth sticking with.  I liked the second book so much better.  Kilmoon is a quick read and worth reading for the introduction to the A County Clare Mystery series.  The characters and atmosphere of Lisfenora become much stronger as the series expands.

The Fold by Peter Cline

The Fold: A Novel - Peter Clines

Okay folks, this one’s a page-turner!  I was hooked, line and sinker! 

 

First and foremost, Mike Erickson is such an interesting protagonist!  Mike has an eidetic memory, also called a photographic memory.  What was the most unique here is the author’s descriptions of the way Mike’s brain works using “ants” to gather, categorize and file away what he takes in (can you say jealous? LOL!).

 

Mike has made the decision not to live his life being looked at as “different.”  He wants to live just like an average guy, no fuss, no unwanted attention.  He could have a very high paying job and has been offered such a few times through the years.  But Mike is happy being a high school teacher and that’s that.

 

Then his old friend, Reggie, the one that keeps trying to recruit him, comes calling again.  Reggie works for the government and he oversees funding for a secret project.  The secret project involves teleportation!  No way!  Mike finds it hard to believe that people are buying into this.

 

A team of scientists are working on a new invention called the Albuquerque Door.  The Albuquerque Door is run by computers and magnetic fields and creates a fold in dimensions, thereby transporting someone or something to another dimension.  This makes traveling from one dimension to another as easy as crossing the street.

 

The question is, should the funding go on.  The project doesn’t seem to be coming to fruition quick enough.  There are questions about whether the scientists working on it are hiding something.  This could be a huge discovery.  But is it safe?  Reggie talks Mike into going out to California and taking a look.  What Mike finds when he gets there is beyond his wildest dreams.

 

My inner circle of readers had very mixed reviews on this one and I wasn’t sure what to think going in.  I am a bit behind on my reviews and sometimes I find that’s not such a bad thing.  I finished this one almost a month ago.  So here I am several weeks later and I find that I’m still thinking back on this book and liking it more each time.  That’s how this book sits with me.  I really liked this character and this is such a well-written book.  Peter Cline takes us on a very fun and interesting ride!

 

I want to thank the publisher (Crown Publishing) for providing me with the ARC through Blogging for Books for an honest review.

The Requiem Red by Brynn Chapman

The Requiem Red - Brynn Chapman

Orphaned Jane has only ever been known as “29.”  She has lived at the Soothing Hills Sanatorium since she was a young girl and it’s the only home she remembers.  She’s not sure what’s wrong with her, but she hears things in the corn fields beside the asylum and when she hears music she sees colors no one else can see.  She tries to hide this because at Soothing Hills a lot of patients are subjected to various forms of torture.

 

Jules is the daughter of the esteemed Dr. Frost who is the head of the Soothing Hills Asylum.  Her father is cold and unpredictably easy to anger.  Jules has been forced into an engagement to a young man she doesn’t much care for but, if it gets her out of her father’s household and allows her more freedom, she’ll happily comply.  Since her fiancé has given the okay, her father unhappily agrees to allow Jules to volunteer at the asylum.

 

There’s a killer on the loose at Soothing Hills and all of the women who have been killed have one thing in common, they were 29’s roommate at the time.  Dr. Frost immediately orders that Jane be put to questioning, and Jane lives in fear of the increasingly torturous sessions.  She finds kindness in the new orderly, Mason, who is falling for Jane and vows that he will protect her.  But how much can she trust him?  Who is the killer, and who will be the next victim? 

 

The author brings us the true horrors of asylum life in the 19th century.  The prescribed treatments at Soothing Hills are a true reflection of what patients in asylums at that time were subjected to.  At times, there was nothing wrong with those patients.  They were falsely imprisoned, tortured and even lobotomized.  Unfortunately they did not have a glimpse of kindness, love and hope.  But that what books are for!    

 

The Requiem Red is a 19th century tale of gothic horror and love.  I would say the prime target for this book is the young adult audience, but it will be enjoyable to others as well.  It is fast-paced with alternating POVs from both Jane and Jules, with a couple of other POVs thrown in sporadically.  Simply written and enjoyable, I predict that you will fly through this one in one sitting. 

 

I want to thank the publisher (Month9Books) for providing me with the ARC through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program for an honest review.

Professional Reader