Category: Books



Wretched Wicked (Preternatural Affairs #9.5)Wretched Wicked by S.M. Reine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book. I always love me a Sara Reine story. This is the first I was able to finish in one night.

Sadly, it wasn’t about my favorite characters. I know a lot of the reviewer LOVE Cesar Hawke and his boss, Fritz Friederling, they are not the highest on my list. Still, it was a good story and a fast review of Fritz’s life. He hasn’t had top billing in any of these stories. So for those who need a review, or those who want to start somewhere other than Six Moon Summer, hundreds of books ago for SM Reine (or so it seems–she is so prolific!) Wretched Wicked would be a good start.

I did enjoy seeing life from Fritz’s point of view. I think I understand him a lot better. Can’t wait for more from Ms. Reine. Glad I don’t really live in her universe, but happy to meet all who do!

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Undead Drive-ThruUndead Drive-Thru by Rebecca Besser
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was on one of those Free Kindle Book offers and since it was in the genre I’m writing about, I thought I’d give it a try.

The story was short and darkish humor. It could have been a story that occurred at the start of The Walking Dead. I could almost see it in comic book form. I finished reading it in one night. It draws on the same psychic bent that poor Maggie’s dad, Hershel, had on the show, that the zombie is just a sick version of the loved one.

It was a fun short read. You might like it.

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The Regrets of Cyrus Dodd (Wyattsville, #4)The Regrets of Cyrus Dodd by Bette Lee Crosby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book. Sorry, I’m so late in reviewing. I read it quite a while ago. Still, I remember it with fondness.

This is the fourth of this series and I never got book three. I hate reading things out of order. But the book sat on my Kindle shelf so long I decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I did. This was one of the best character development stories I’ve read in a long time.

Bette Lee Crosby can write so well, you feel you are there, smelling, tasting, feeling everything the characters do. Their mental confusions can make you wonder about your own thoughts. The sadness the characters feel draw the Kleenex near. But when things work out you nearly are jumping up and down.

Please give this gem a try. It easily could stand alone. The other books in the series only give you a bit of a back knowledge, not really needed to care about what is happening and to whom. Loved it! I can’t wait to read more of Ms. Crosby’s work!

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Playing with Fire: The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American PoliticsPlaying with Fire: The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American Politics by Lawrence O’Donnell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I like Lawrence O’Donnell. He’s not my favorite. But I relate to him in that he is about Southern California where others are all in New York. I relate to him because he’s close in age to me. He seems to see things the way I do, most of the time. Not always. So when I had another credit on Audible I decided to grab his book.

It makes me a little embarrassed to admit that this was tough to get through. Not because it was a difficult read or that Mr. O’Donnell is boring. It is just… well… I lived through this history.

1968 is the year I graduated. The draft and Viet Nam were in the news and alive in our school. The boys who graduated the year before us were drafted. By 1968 we lost so many guys that were friends. So this history is painful. Oh, and if we didn’t lose the guys to death they went to Canada and we never saw them again. Or they killed themselves. It was a hard time to be a teen. In our high school, the spirit of our class was depressed. We lost most of the games. The year before and the year after the spirit was normal. But I really feel that that depression that lived in our souls was due to everyone knowing we might not see each other again. So I entered this read with that heavy weight.

Not only was this hard to listen to because of the death of friends, but we’d also lived through Kennedy being assassinated and the disharmonious political life was on the news every day. Listening to the political upheaval again did give me a little understanding as to what happened but it also hurt like reliving it all. As my bedtime book it brought dreams back I never wanted to see again.

On the other hand, if you didn’t graduate that year, especially if you are younger, this is an important look at that history. Lawrence reads and tells this history with reverence and his research was deep. Even if you aren’t his fan, this may give a bit of history to your political understanding. I know I am nowhere near politically adept, I like seeing how others perceived that time. Just like now, our families, friends, churches, and personal experiences color how we see our moment in time. It wasn’t quite such a divided world as it is now, and yet it was. Walter Cronkite helped us get through some of it but I can remember family members arguing about all of it. A Catholic President? Unheard of! The Pope will be running the show. Yep, I heard that said. People who were marching were unAmerican? Really? What about the Tea Party? Anyway, if you get the chance, read or listen to this and see what you can remember way back then.

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The Writer's Digest Sourcebook for Building Believable Characterwriter's Digest Sourcebook for Building Believable Characters SThe Writer’s Digest Sourcebook for Building Believable Characterwriter’s Digest Sourcebook for Building Believable Characters S by Marc McCutcheon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my go-to book for NaNoWriMo. It is great to set up characters for your book. I don’t know how others do it. I have a program called WriteItNow that is good for generating names. Other people use that program for everything. But I write in yWriter. After I have my names, I go to this book. I have tabs set up for different characteristics and I use a number generator on my phone to give me the characteristic according to the list of each page. I try not to cheat. If the character is very flawed it is easier to write them. Between the name and the characteristics, a story seems to emerge.

The beginning of this book has a character development questionnaire. I have found this handy, also. This is the best book to get me started writing and helps me keep writing unless my characters are stuck behind boulders and not moving. Then I need bigger help. Probably a sprint/prompt=sprompt will get my characters out. Or I’ll pull a George R.R. Martin on them.

If you get the chance to buy this book, you will be buying a treasure!

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Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life UnstrungGone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung by Min Kym
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Passion.

That is what this book inspired in me. The music major (piano/voice) in me was jumping up and down as I read and listened to this book. By the way, I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book from NetGalley.

As I have often said, it is hard to rate an autobiography. It is their life, their truth. Even so, if you have practiced any instrument for any length of time you feel what the author feels about her violin. Min Kym has written a readable and relatable story. She describes her passion to play the violin in great detail. Stagefright doesn’t seem to enter her world as she is with her best friend at all times. Her life goes downhill when the violin disappears. I won’t give spoilers but that is enough. I have been without my piano (by the way, I have a love/hate with the piano) and worse found times when my voice didn’t work (bronchitis, etc.) and I know I was a mess!

I don’t want to rewrite her book or tell much more. I think musicians will appreciate this book the most but others will enjoy it, too.

The biggest thing that has happened to me since reading this is I want a violin to play with! I’m watching sales hoping. I know I might never get past Twinkle, Twinkle, something I did learn when I tried it a long time ago, but, I want to try!

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The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living DeadThe Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While I’m waiting for my characters to come out of hiding, yes, they are literally behind boulders during a volcano as Exploding Ebolic Zombies surround while being shot at by corrupt police… I thought I’d get some of my past due reviews written.

When I was telling my son about my upcoming (and now current) NaNoWriMo zombie novel, he dug out this book. It is an actual handbook that uses some well thought out ways to survive Zombie attacks. It is done tongue in cheek yet if you think about it, these ideas could save you during any kind of catastrophe. It is well-written. And the font easy enough for me to read during the day. But since most of my reading happens at night, before bed (yeah, zombies before sleep didn’t help much), I added the audible version so I could lean back and really think about what the author was telling us. Marc Cashman narrated this quite well. Though it is written in handbook form the narration was authentic sounding and keeps the reader/listener engaged.

I highly recommend this book for those who can take the humor with the survival facts. It will help my future writing as I rethink: how safe are my characters behind those boulders? And where is an exploding zombie when you need one to attack those cops?

Oh, just enjoy the book!

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Race of Thieves (Artifact Hunters #1)Race of Thieves by S.M. Reine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not every were is a wolf. In this case, a squirrel who’s pretty feisty and smart is the person Shatter Cage. Sometimes he is not as smart as he thinks he is. Then he finds himself in some pickles. But sometimes that squirrely brain helps him escape.

Okay, it sounds kind of silly. But Sara Reine’s characters are serious beings on the post-apocalyptic side. All her books suck you in and won’t let go until the last page. For those of us lucky enough to get to read for honest reviews it is the very best of worlds! I love all her series-es. Usually, I tell folks to start reading at the Six Summer Moon series and enjoy the ride. But somehow Ms. Reine has been able to write a new series that includes a lot of our old favorites without a newbie feeling lost. There is just enough background to feel informed without overwhelming the reader. So if you are new–start here.

If you follow my reviews you will know that my main objective is female authors writing strong female main characters. I know most people don’t have that aim in their reading/entertainment lives. That’s why I’m giving a four-star where most are giving a five-star review. I haven’t been the biggest of fans of Sara’s male main characters. But Dana is in this book. She’s one of my favorite characters so if I could this would be a four and a half star review.

Thanks for letting me read this. I can’t wait for the next one!

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The Secret of Big A (Embracing the ABC with Love)The Secret of Big A by Ofra Peled
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I read children’s books I do it with my own children in mind. Now granted, they were kids 40 years ago, so things might be different now. But with that in mind as I read this I found myself a little bored. I know. That is a surprise as this stars reading and beaches. That should have won me over, but I couldn’t see my kids liking it or wanting to read it over and over. There seems to be a lot of positive feedback on this book so it’s just me, I guess. I hope everyone else loves it.

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Acorna's QuestAcorna’s Quest by Anne McCaffrey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It has been a couple months since I finished reading this book. I must admit to not remembering much about it at all. I’m currently reading the next book in the series and so I’m confusing the storylines.

As much as I loved Anne McCaffrey’s dragon books, the Unicorn Girl series is less about the Unicorn Girl than it is about people who want to use or abuse said star of the books. As much as I love space travel books, this was more about bad guys and good guys who happen to know the girl while in space or on other planets. So sad.

I was fortunate enough about a decade ago to buy first editions of the hardbacks of a lot of McCaffrey books. But now that I have the time, my eyes have a hard time with printed tomes. I bought this Kindle version to aid in my reading. I wish there had been an Audible version as it might have helped.

Just to encourage those stuck in this book, the next in the series does give you a bit more time with the Unicorn people. I hope I haven’t discouraged readers of this series. Keep on and find the good parts and hang on. We need fantasy/sci-fi to escape the noise of our every day lives stuck on Earth.

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