Category: Reading



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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Acorna: The Unicorn GirlAcorna: The Unicorn Girl by Anne McCaffrey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is no secret that Anne McCaffrey has been one of my favorite authors of all time. I think it is within this decade that I was in a bookstore in Reno that had some pretty good deals. They told me that they had just received a huge collection of First Edition Anne McCaffrey’s books. I nearly passed it up. I’ve never been rich monetarily. I figured I wouldn’t be able to afford it. But being a store that wanted to keep their merchandise moving, they actually quoted me a price for the whole collection that I could afford.

But I was working and found that reading “real” or “tree” books hard for my eyes. And I was always tired with fibromyalgia. So the books sat on my shelves.

When we moved here the McCaffreys sat in a box until I got a new bookshelf. Now they are out on display so I can’t resist. Except reading the old way is slow. So I try to keep my paper bookmark where I am in the Kindle version and read a bit when I can.

Luckily, I’ve been collecting the Kindle versions of Anne’s treasures. At least this one has text-to-speech. I kind of hoped for Audible but they don’t have this book. It’s okay as I can speed up the listen-rate to 2x and get through a book in no time.

As much as I looked forward to Acorna, who wouldn’t want to read a story about a unicorn girl? I have to admit that as much as I love her writing style, I found this book wasn’t so much about the girl as it was about child slavery and the men who found the girl. You never get to see her point of view, even when she grows up. Still, Ms. McCaffrey and Ms. Ball cover the issues well and made a good story. I am already into the next book and I see the plot continues with other people. Acorna is still not showing up personally. Maybe that will change soon.

I still liked the book and can’t wait to see what happens in the series.

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SpellsmokeSpellsmoke by S.M. Reine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sorry to be late to the party, again. Between computer/internet issues and smoke making my eyes too blurry to get online to write this, I am about a week late for this review.

I am always happy when I get to review yet another of S.M. Reine’s books. She has got a library full of her own writing at this stage. She never stops! So I couldn’t wait to read Spellsmoke. Unfortunately, I seem to have a huge amount of books to read right now and some are waiting for reviews. It’s hard to be fair when you have favorites. Wink, Wink.

When a book starts with Meadowood Mall… I’m hooked. I knew of every aspect of the walk through the mall. Even Dippity Dots Kiosk! And Borders! I love when Sara includes Reno and other places many of us know and love in her stories. Who knew so many demons and vampires walked the Washoe County streets? I wish I would have gotten to know her when I lived there!

Okay, Lincoln Marshall is not my favorite character. He maybe is equal or above Cesar but most people will like them, I think. What I liked was meeting old friends like Rylie and her wolf clan. Which reminds me: Please, if you haven’t started these series’s Start with Six Moon Summer (Seasons of the Moon, #1). That’s when you meet Rylie Gresham for the first time. Lincoln comes later in the series. But recurs often enough you get to like him.

Oh, and we get to see Sophie Keyes the historian again. She’s a little weird, but I like her a lot.

Ms. Reine is bringing up touchy issues in this book but handles them with grace. Thing like racism and abuse. I’m proud of how she presents these and finds ways to explore both sides and introduces other angles not in a dogmatic way but rather in ways we all need to think on.

I can’t wait to read book three in this little series. We weren’t left on a cliff but were given enough to want to continue. I hate putting Sara’s books down and go back to real life!

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A Weapon of Magical Destruction (Agents of A.S.S.E.T. #1)A Weapon of Magical Destruction by Katie Salidas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a GoodReads Giveaway. Thank you!

I was pleasantly surprised that I liked this book. It wasn’t another teen angst story wrapped in Sci-fi. It was an actual adult in the working world dealing with a sudden onslaught of magic. (Smile) The writing was good but it was unsettling with the vampires, etc. Even so, towards the end, I seemed to care what was happening regardless of the vampires.

Book 2 is on my Kindle Wishlist on Amazon. I look forward to seeing what happens next.

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