Thursday, March 30, 2017

Miraculous Mysteries: Locked Room Mysteries and Impossible Crimes -- anthology

Miraculous Mysteries by Martin EdwardsA nice collection of mystery stories; a good reason why the Poisoned Pen Press anthologies are quickly becoming a must-read. Stories of murders that couldn't have happened, mostly because of locked rooms. There were several authors with stories I already knew but enjoyed visiting (Sayers,  Allingham, etc.) as well as some new-to-me authors and stories. Was every single one a winner? No, but enjoyed most of them.

Four stars
This book comes out June 6

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Every Body Yoga by Jessamyn Stanley

Every Body Yoga by Jessamyn StanleyI first "met" Jessamyn Stanley on Instagram and loved her pictures. I saw her book on NetGalley and snatched it up. I loved the book. I love the writing, I love the language and I  love the pragmatism. There is language in this book. It's not a high-falutin' philosophic exploration of yoga (though it does include some of that). Instead, this is a lovely introduction to people who might be nervous about getting onto the mat for the first time. Yogis are often introduced as skinny white ladies twisting themselves into ridiculous poses but the fact of the matter is that everybody (every body) can do yoga.
I liked the mix of poses and writing. So many yoga books do all the writing and then do all the poses and then asanas. This was a nice interspersion.
A  nice review for experienced yoga-goers and I suspect a very nice beginning for newbies.

Four and a half stars
This book comes out April 4

Monday, March 27, 2017

Twelve Terribly Active Princesses who were not Exactly Dancing by Michael Ann Dobbs

I generally liked this book. There was a little too much text on the pages but the updated fairy tale was fun. The repetition of the mattress moving will delight children. And the fact that none of the princesses fell in love with their manager? Priceless!

Four stars
This book comes out April 4

Occult and Battery by Lena Gregory

I didn't read the first story in this series but I didn't feel like I needed to. The story of Cass Donovan, a former psychiatrist with just a hint of the psychic about her (though she doesn't seem to believe it.) She's excited to have been hired for a weekend party, even if it is at a supposedly haunted house.
Occult and Battery by Lena GregoryBut nothing seems to go right. A big storm moves in, her husband is there with the ex-best-friend he cheated on Cass with, and she seems to have conjured a real ghost. Then, one of the three siblings who hired her to make their new hotel a success is found dead. Why was he up in the cupola? And how much can Cass and her friends do while trapped in the hotel by the snowstorm?
The character of her (presumably gay) friend Bee was just a little too, too but I have hopes for future books in the series.

Four stars
This book comes out April 4

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Red Clover Inn by Carla Neggers

The meeting between Charlotte Bennett and Agent Greg Rawlings does not get off to an auspicious start. They're at a rehearsal dinner for Charlotte's cousin and Greg starts off by telling Charlotte she's too uptight. And it doesn't go uphill from there.
Red Clover Inn by Carla NeggersGreg is attracted to Charlotte and is delighted to learn that she is going to be at the Red Clover Inn in the Swift River Valley so he can spend more time with her. Well, Charlotte and his teenage children from a youthful first marriage.
I liked that this was a quiet story. Slow and steady, Charlotte and Greg built their relationship and fooled no one but themselves as they did so.

Four stars
This book comes out March 28
Followed by The River House

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Forever Mine by Erin Nicholas

Maya Goodwin rushes into life headfirst. No matter what she does, she does it with all her heart. It has gotten her in trouble including one where she got trapped inside a burning car. It was that incident that sent her to desk duty. Now she runs a center teaching martial arts through the lens of superheros. It's that center that sends Dr. Alex Nolan to Zoe.
Forever Mine by Erin NicholasAlex has only just discovered that he fathered a child almost ten years ago during a drunken one-night stand. He might never have found out except that Charli (his daughter) is a hemophiliac and that happens to be Alex's specialty. So he's trying to find a way to connect and wants to do it through her favorite, very geeky, TV show.
This is a lovely story where both characters show some growth and we get to seem them help each other. For the most part, they were adult about the whole thing and while there was a misunderstanding at the end, it didn't seem like a Big Misunderstanding. I didn't love everything about their relationship but Nicholas creates a nice story of two people coming together and I can't wait to hear more about costume designer, Sophie. Possibly with Maya's sparring partner Ben but I would also be okay with him getting his own book. A tough guy sidelined from his favorite activities? I hope that there is more to that story than just as a plot point for an Alex breakthrough.

Four stars
This book comes out March 28

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Crazy for You by Rachel Lacey

Bolstered by her friends, Emma has decided that it's time to divert from her normal stream of dull boyfriends and shake things up a bit. Her target? Her (now dead) brother's best friend Ryan. She's had a thing for him for years and is ready to act on int.
Ryan has a thing for Emma as well but he promised her brother that they would never hook up. Plus, his biological half-brother is in town and Ryan is trying to be a good example so that his brother's family will allow him to keep in contact. 
It's Ryan's rigid adherence to the dead brother's promise that made me enjoy this book less. It's repeated over and over and over with no growth on Ryan's part until the very end of the book. And Trent (Ryan's brother) is little more than a plot moppet (albeit eighteen-years-old). 
I really liked the first book in the series but just couldn't get into this one in the same way. I'm holding out hope for the next book when a wounded warrior and the woman he loved are getting their second chance.

Three stars
This book comes out March 28
Followed by Can't Forget You

Monday, March 20, 2017

Unicorn Crossing by Dana Simpson

Unicorn Crossing by Dana SimpsonI've heard about this series on several podcasts and at least a few blogs and there was a general amount of squee-age involved with every review. And now I know why.
The unicorn, Marigold, and her human friend Phoebe go through a lot in this book. Halloween, winter, reading books (discussion of ebook vs. physical vs. scroll), Marigold going on a trip, and many other adventures. It's fast, it's fun, it even imparts some moral lessons. A good read.

Four and a half stars
This book comes out March 28

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Unyielding by Shelly Laurenston

Erin Amsel has been described as infuriating. Somehow, this resurrected-from-the-dead Crow has managed to piss off both gods and man alike. And she actually seems to enjoy doing it. Pretty much no one enjoys spending time with her, even Stieg Engstrom so he's not especially happy to have been assigned to following her around to the hottest clubs in town.
The Unyielding (Call of Crows, #3)It's not as if Stieg is a happy guy on a regular day anyway. He's often described as the angriest viking ever. But the more time that he spends with her, the more he is attracted to her. And he wants to have her back when it turns out she's the only one who can help save the world from the coming apocalypse.  It's going to be up to both of them to dive into hell and be able to still come up swinging.

I honestly couldn't see why Erin would be pissing people off. I also wanted to know more about both her and Stieg's backgrounds. We got a gloss but no further explanations. And the same for their eventual trip to retrieve and object that would help stop the end of the world. It was supposed to be an epic journey but went REALLY fast. And I couldn't decide if I was amused or not how much Nidhogg was modeled on movie-Smaug. But I did like their romance, even with the danger boner and I especially liked the fighting with the crazy She-Elf. I would suggest new readers start at the beginning of the series but I think regular readers will quite enjoy this books.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out March 28

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Finding Our Forever by Brenda Novak

Cora Kelly is trying to find some closure in her life. She wants to know more about her birth mother and thinks that working at the boarding school her mother runs. But Aiyana Turner wasn't the one to hire Cora, instead, it was one of her 8 (!) adoptive sons, Elijah. A man who Cora is desperately attracted to.
Eli has some past issues of his own. He might have been adopted by Aiyana but the beginning of his life wasn't exactly tea and roses. We don't actually get a full description of what his life was like which was sort of disappointing. There are glimpses of his current relationship with his birth mother but no resolution.
This is a wonderful Novak story but suffers from a few things -- this is a world building story so we don't get as much time with the main characters, we get to see a lot of the physical relationship with Cora and Eli (why are so many authors into sex in public places right now? Is this the new thing in romance novels?) but not as much of the emotional, there is a nice use of condoms in the beginning and some discussion of alternate means of birth control but no discussion of STIs as if condoms were only used as a mean to prevent pregnancy but nothing else.
This isn't one of Novak's super-emotional stories that rips your hearts and guts out but I still think regular readers will enjoy.

Three stars
This book comes out March 21
Followed by No One But You

Friday, March 17, 2017

Seduce Me, Cowboy by Maisey Yates

Seduce Me, Cowboy by Maisey YatesHayley Thompson has been the good girl for her whole life up to and including working as her father's secretary. In the church where he was the pastor. Everyone knows who she is. Everyone knows what to expect of her. So when she decides to answer an ad to be the assistant to a man she doesn't know, life changes drastically.
Jonathan Bear owns a successful company but doesn't feel like he is successful. Instead, he feels like the town bad boy (although we never really see that in this book, maybe it was better built up in previous books in the series?). When Hayley Thompson replies to his ad, he doesn't think she'll stick. But when she does, he becomes attracted to her. And though he tries to stay away, he just can't.
This book, even at over 200 pages, felt really fast. The relationship never really had time to develop. I did enjoy the fact that this story was for Hayley and Jonathan without too many "pop-ins" from previous people in the series.

Three stars
This book came out March 7

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Bound Together by Christine Feehan

I loved the Sea Haven books and wanted to finish out the Sisters of the Heart, even though I felt the series was getting farther and farther away from what was making it good. But, I finally got the story for Viktor Prakenskii. We've known for some time that he's married to Blythe Daniels and he's finally coming home to get her. Oh. And he's bringing eighteen of his chose family home to her so that she can heal them just like she's going to heal him. And the kids that he's bringing home, the ones that have been the victims of some pretty horrific sexual abuse. But it's okay because he's going to make it be okay.
Blythe isn't so sure about letting Viktor back into her life. He got close to her, married her (she's pretty sure about that point but it's a bit fuzzy), and then murdered her stepfather right in front of her. Then disappeared for five years without a trace. But he's back now along with his motorcycle club that seems to have no boundaries. And that's no problem because Viktor keeps telling her it's no problem.
I had so many issues with this book. It was really more of a two and a half but I rounded up. I just really need to stop reading Feehan's books because they aren't my cup of tea and yet I keep picking them up. To be honest, this book was just darn hard to follow. The sequel bait was an entire motorcycle club all with real names and nicknames. And this book is FULL of the thing that drives me nuts about this author, she doesn't just give you information, she slaps it upside your head four or five times to make sure that you know that Savage and Reaper are blond. And brothers. And the one is more broken. I couldn't even tell you which because, even after all that repetition, we had the motorcycle club to keep track of, the previous H/Hs from five books in the Sisters of the Heart series PLUS there was a tie-in to the 7 Sea Haven books.

Two and a half stars
This book comes out March 21

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Baker Street Irregulars: Thirteen Authors With New Takes on Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes is hella popular these days with movies, television shows, and books all re-imagining how these books could be reinterpreted -- brought into the modern day or different genres. This book invites thirteen different authors to do just that.

Locked Mike Strauss
Set up as Sherlock and Watson being on some sort of reality show where Sherlock solves crimes and Watson plays the bumbling fool, who in fact is is league with the producers to make Sherlock look good. I didn't really get a good feel for the show or for Sherlock. The premise was interesting (basically the producers hire people to commit crimes so that Sherlock can solve the case) but didn't play out well in a short story.

 Three stars

Identity: An Adventure of Shirley Holmes and Jack Watson Keith R. A. DeCandido
There have been a LOT of gender-swapping of the Holmes and Watson characters. Some more successful than others. This story not only plays with gender but with race. Set in the modern day, Watson encounters Martha Hudson while covering for her oncologist. It plays close to the beloved Sherlock Holmes we all know except that Shirley is her niece in this case and Martha wants someone to move in and keep an eye on her. The case they solve will be familiar to Holmes fans with some nicely updated twists.
 Four stars

The Scent of Truth Jody Lynn Nye
A futuristic sci-fi Holmes. In this case, the Holmes-character is a dog-like being from another planet (named Baskur, naturally) and he has mainly retired but is lured into another case by a middle-aged journalist. There was some really nice world-building for a short story in this one and the info-dumping was kept short and tight.

Four stars

The Adventure of the Reluctant Detective Ryk Spoor
I swear I've read this one before. Or at least a similar version. Supposedly a case that takes place somewhere in the middle of the Holmes canon, soon after Mary dies, it starts with a strange woman entering Sherlock's apartment. She is not quite... right. For the woman she claims to be, there are some glaring discrepancies. To tell too much more would give the ending away but it wasn't quite up to the snuff of ACD.

Two and a half stars

A Scandal in the Bloodline Hildy Silverman
Suppose that Watson became a werewolf after an encounter with the Hounds of the Baskervilles. And that Sherlock was turned into a vampire at the edge of the Reichenbach Falls by Irene Adler. Now it is present day and Irene's huband, the paterfamilias, is missing. If he dies, she will go to. As will Sherlock.

Three stars

The Fabulous Marble David Gerrold
An interesting take where Watson is... some sort of computer program? Not an AI, exactly, since that's more what Marble does/is. There is a particular brand of sexbot, the Lorelei, that can become whatever the user desires; man, woman, other. Several bots that have been dismantled and their... well their male options have been removed. This one was a little too weird for me but a nice idea.
Three stars

The Scarlet Study by Jim Avelli
In a world where Big Brother makes people take drugs to keep them dumb, Sherlock Holmes has a brief, shining moment of reversing the trend. Three stars Delta Phi Heidi McLaughlin If Watson were a love-struck frat boy and Sherlock an oblivious girl on campus, it would take a very special case to bring them together. I love romance novels, I love cheese, this was a little too much.

Two stars

Beethoven's Baton Austin Famer Sherlock and Watson are violinists in Ludwig van Beethoven's orchestra but it seems like someone is plotting to kill the great man. Again, a little too much of a reach and the ending was bonkers.

Two stars

The Adventure of the Melted Saint Gail Z. Martin
Quirky. Very quirky. Sherlock was not the main character in this one. It felt like she (Shelley is transgender in this story) was just stuck into another story. As a Sherlock Holmes story, it was maybe a two/two and a half but I liked the idea of a Museum collecting objects that have ghosts attached, waiting for their mysteries to be solved. 

Three stars

Automatic Sherlock Martin Rose
Dr. Jovan Watson is Russian, working on a robot that will perform the perfect surgeries. But instead of his dream being realized, he is left with a robot that can... solve crimes? Might have been better as a more developed story.

Two and a half stars

The Hammer of God Jonathan Maberry
A really interesting take where Sherlock Holmes and John Watson become a novice and her mentor who are called in to solve a series of crimes that seem to have been perpetrated by God himself. Not sure how I feel about this as a Sherlock story but I liked the idea. Three stars Code Cracker Beth W. Patterson Sherlock is a crime-solving parrot. Do I need to say more? The idea was interesting, the story was just meh.

Three stars

Overall Three stars
This book comes out March 21

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Can You Solve My Problems? by Alex Bellos

I really enjoyed most of this book. I did a lot of logic puzzles when I was younger and this reminded me of them. Most of these were puzzles I hadn't read before and I enjoyed that there were all levels of puzzles and the explanations were clear and coherent.
After awhile it did get a bit boring so it might be good to portion the puzzles out. I also would not recommend getting the ebook. It was really annoying to try and flip back and forth between the front and back on a digital version, so much easier with a physical book.

Four stars
This book comes out March 21

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Devil's Triangle by Catherine Coulter; J.T. Ellison

The book opens with Kitsune "The Fox" stealing the "Staff of Moses." She overhears her employers arguing right before they try to kill her. When they don't succeed in that, they manage to somehow not only manage to discover her true identity, they are able to kidnap her super elite soldier husband. So she contacts Nicholas Drummond and Michaela Caine for help.
They bring the Covert Eyes team to Eruope and discover that Kitsune's clients, the Koaths - brother and sister, are planning to bring the world to its knees by controlling the weather. They are descended from Moses himself and are therefore able to use his staff to cause mass destruction.
I have generally enjoyed this series but this book felt like it was jumping the shark. Slightly outlandish storylines have become cartoonish in their leaps from logic. And the villains... ufda. They just are not well-developed. We get glimpses of some depth but mostly Ajax and Cassandra are fairly one dimensional.
I really do wish we could get a better glimpse at Kitsune as she seems like an amazing character who, despite her propensity toward thievery (she is called "the thief" something like a-billionty times in this book), is so far fairly likable.

Three stars
This book comes out March 14

Friday, March 3, 2017

Yoga FAQ by Richard Rosen

I requested this book through NetGalley because it looked like a nice introductory book into yoga and, quite frankly, had a fun cover. But this is not a light book, the author dives right into the depths of yoga. And, I'm gonna be honest, this threw me off for the remainder of the reading. Especially with the subtitles, I was expecting something a little... more basic. A reference you could flip around in and look for answers to various questions.
This is a perfectly nice book about yoga. There are proposed questions and answers, sometimes with accompanying stories related to yoga or short bunny trails containing more, related information.
I'd say that this book is more geared to the advanced practitioner or slightly-past-the-beginning-teacher than newbies; especially since there are a lot of references that those just starting on their yoga path just won't get.

Three Stars
This book comes out March 7

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Pressed to Death by Kirsten Weiss

With the Harvest Festival under way, Maddie Kosloski is shocked when her arch-nemesis Laurel wants to take away her main attraction, a haunted wine press. It seems that the previous owner has called it in as stolen and Laurel is only too happy to confiscate it, even though Maddie has the receipts to prove that she is the rightful owner. Too bad Maddie is later the one to discover the previous owner, Romeo, dead in the grapes that were supposed to be used in her mother's grape pressing contest. But she's not as serious a suspect as the man's wife, his estranged son, and even some of the people who are part of his Death Cafe group (where they discuss aging).
Not only does Maddie's mother get her involved in solving the case in order to help the Ladies' Aid group, but Maddie also gets roped in to helping set up a room in the annual Haunted House and she's working to keep her assistant, the dead man's estranged son, out of jail. Oh, and something is going on with her sweetie, Mason.
And the Mason storyline was just annoying. It's maybe not a plotline used in cozies much but I've read it over and over in romance novels. Maddie is fairly adult about the whole thing (she actually TALKS to Mason) but I just wish that this particular plot point hadn't been used. And there were some other plots that got short shrift since there was so much going on. But over all a good story that I quite enjoyed.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out March 8
Follows The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum