The Reason for this Blog

Although I track my books on Goodreads, I wanted a place of my own to talk about books.  I will post reviews for the most part, but I reserve the right to ramble.

 

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Review: Fan Fiction: A Mem-Noir by Brent Spiner

Fan Fiction: A Mem-Noir: Inspired by True EventsFan Fiction: A Mem-Noir: Inspired by True Events by Brent Spiner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: Fan Fiction: A Mem-noir Inspired by True Events
Author: Brent Spiner, Jeanne Darst
Series: n/a
Pages: 256
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Date: October 12, 2021

Summary:

From Brent Spiner, who played the beloved Lieutenant Commander Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation, comes an explosive and hilarious autobiographical novel.

Brent Spiner’s explosive and hilarious novel is a personal look at the slightly askew relationship between a celebrity and his fans. If the Coen Brothers were to make a Star Trek movie, involving the complexity of fan obsession and sci-fi, this noir comedy might just be the one.

Set in 1991, just as Star Trek: The Next Generation has rocketed the cast to global fame, the young and impressionable actor Brent Spiner receives a mysterious package and a series of disturbing letters, that take him on a terrifying and bizarre journey that enlists Paramount Security, the LAPD, and even the FBI in putting a stop to the danger that has his life and career hanging in the balance.

Featuring a cast of characters from Patrick Stewart to Levar Burton to Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, to some completely imagined, this is the fictional autobiography that takes readers into the life of Brent Spiner and tells an amazing tale about the trappings of celebrity and the fear he has carried with him his entire life.

Fan Fiction is a zany love letter to a world in which we all participate, the phenomenon of “Fandom.”

Review:

“Fictional autobiography” – That’s how the blurb describes this book and it’s actually the only problem I have with it. I want to know what parts are true!

As a longtime Star Trek fan, I really enjoyed this book. Next Generation was never a favorite of mine, but who could not love Data.

This book is for Star Trek fans. The tidbits about various actors and Gene Roddenberry grabbed me because Star Trek is so much a part of my life. The story itself was engrossing and some of the packages “Data” received were simply gross.

Mostly, this book was fun. Even when bad things happened, I was reminded of a Three Stooges skit, rather than feeling any sense of suspense.

Yes, I enjoyed this book BECAUSE I am a Star Trek fan and that’s my one reservation about recommending it. I can’t imagine anyone who is not a Trekkie caring about it at all.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Review: When Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting

When Sparks FlyWhen Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: When Sparks Fly
Author: Helena Hunting
Series: n/a
Pages: 320
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Date: September 21, 2021

Summary:

Running the Spark House, a hotel/event space that has been in her family for years, has been Avery Spark’s lifelong dream. After years of working hard and making personal sacrifices, Avery and her two younger sisters have turned the Spark House into the premier destination in Colorado Springs. Avery is living her best life—she works with her sisters and loves every minute of it, she has a great group of friends, and she lives in a fantastic condo with her best friend Declan. She might not have any love in her life, but she’s happy.

But everything comes to a screeching halt when Avery is in a car accident, leaving her immobile for weeks. After nearly losing Avery, Declan insists that he will be the one to take care of her while she recovers. However, as Declan becomes Avery’s caretaker, lines begin to blur.

Avery and Declan have been best friends since college and always had an attraction to one another, but when she ended up dating his best friend, Sam, they successfully stamped down any feelings they may have ever had for one another. Now, as Declan and Avery spend more time together, they each begin to wonder what would’ve happened if she’d dated him instead of Sam. What starts as a friend helping out another friend turns into foreplay and, before they realize it, they recognize how deeply they care for one another. But when things get serious their past threatens to destroy everything they have built.

Review:

I have mixed feelings about this book. I only gave it three stars, but I think it’s because I’m the wrong audience for this book. First of all, though, I want to say what I liked about it.

From the description, it’s obvious it’s a friends to lovers book. I like Avery, Declan – not so much, but I love Avery’s sisters. I’m looking forward to their books even though I was not thrilled with this one. That’s it. That’s what I liked – Avery’s sisters.

The book is written in first person, alternating between Avery and Declan. That way, the reader gets a lot of information that would be hidden if it used a third person narrator. And that brings me to one of the two things I really didn’t like about it. I don’t like first person and I really don’t like alternating viewpoints. As I implied earlier, it’s a personal taste issue.

However, my real issue with the book is Declan is an immature jerk. He’s thirty-years-old, but acts more like he’s still in college. He makes stupid decisions that hurt other people. He regrets them and accepts his responsibility, but still!!!

Finally, in parts of the book, the dialogue is overblown. Declan and Avery talk to each other like they are sitting in a counselor’s office. No one talks like that in real life.

So yes, three stars, but I will read the sequels. As I said, I want the sisters’ stories.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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A Good Day for Chardonnay (Sunshine Vicram, #2) by Darynda Jones

A Good Day for Chardonnay (Sunshine Vicram, #2)A Good Day for Chardonnay by Darynda Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: A Good Day for Chardonnay
Author: Darynda Jones
Series: Sunshine Vicram, #2
Pages: 416
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Date: July 27, 2021

Summary:

Running a small-town police force in the mountains of New Mexico should be a smooth, carefree kind of job. Sadly, full-time Sheriff–and even fuller-time coffee guzzler–Sunshine Vicram, didn’t get that memo.

All Sunshine really wants is one easy-going day. You know, the kind that starts with coffee and a donut (or three) and ends with take-out pizza and a glass of chardonnay (or seven). Turns out, that’s about as easy as switching to decaf. (What kind of people do that? And who hurt them?)

Before she can say iced mocha latte, Sunny’s got a bar fight gone bad, a teenage daughter hunting a serial killer and, oh yes, the still unresolved mystery of her own abduction years prior. All evidence points to a local distiller, a dangerous bad boy named Levi Ravinder, but Sun knows he’s not the villain of her story. Still, perhaps beneath it all, he possesses the keys to her disappearance. At the very least, beneath it all, he possesses a serious set of abs. She’s seen it. Once. Accidentally.

Between policing a town her hunky chief deputy calls four cents short of a nickel, that pesky crush she has on Levi which seems to grow exponentially every day, and an irascible raccoon that just doesn’t know when to quit, Sunny’s life is about to rocket to a whole new level of crazy.

Yep, definitely a good day for chardonnay.

Review:

Read the first book! Do not read this book without reading the first book! Believe me. Take my word for it. READ THE FIRST BOOK!

Oh, yes, the first book? The title is A Bad Day for Sunshine. It leads right into book two: A Good Day for Chardonnay. I can guarantee that you will have no clue what is going on if you do not read the first book.

Are we all clear now? You do understand you have to read the first book first, right?

Now that that is out of the way.

I never thought Darynda Jones could top her Charley Davidson series, but she has definitely done it with the Sunshine books. These books are straight contemporary with a mystery and (will you get on with it?) a romance. Actually, they don’t have a mystery, they have multiple mysteries.

Who abducted Sunshine when she was a teenager?

Who is the father of her daughter?

Who is her Chief Deputy in love with?

Has Randy (the raccoon) been officially deputized?

And a new mystery involving one of Levi’s uncles . . . is he in prison unjustly?

And the thing about Darynda Jones, she can make you feel any of these mysteries are just as important as another.

This book does clear up some of the mysteries, but it definitely introduces more mysteries and problems. The plot is wonderful, but my favorite parts are the one liners.

For example, there is one scene where Sunshine has to climb a ridge. She thinks to herself that she needs more cardio and less Oreo. That could be me talking. No, I mean really. That could be me.

And of course, my absolute favorite parts of the books are her chapter headings. I’ll leave you with my favorite one.

“Donate blood today! Please note: it must be your own blood.”

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Title: The Bookshop of Second Chances
Author: Jackie Fraser
Series: n/a
Pages: 448
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Date: May 4, 2021

Summary:

Thea Mottram is having a bad month. Her husband of nearly twenty years has just left her for one of her friends, and she is let go from her office job–on Valentine’s Day, of all days. Bewildered and completely lost, Thea doesn’t know what to do. But when she learns that a distant great uncle in Scotland has passed away, leaving her his home and a hefty antique book collection, she decides to leave Sussex for a few weeks. Escaping to a small coastal town where no one knows her seems to be exactly what she needs.

Almost instantly, Thea becomes enamored with the quaint cottage, comforted by its cozy rooms and shaggy, tulip-covered lawn. The locals in nearby Baldochrie are just as warm, quirky, and inviting. The only person she can’t seem to win over is bookshop owner Edward Maltravers, to whom she hopes to sell her uncle’s antique novel collection. His gruff attitude–fueled by an infamous, long-standing feud with his brother, a local lord–tests Thea’s patience. But bickering with Edward proves oddly refreshing and exciting, leading Thea to develop feelings she hasn’t felt in a long time. As she follows a thrilling yet terrifying impulse to stay in Scotland indefinitely, Thea realizes that her new life may quickly become just as complicated as the one she was running from.


Review:

I have read this book twice now and I have to say it was even better the second time. I liked it so much that I changed my 4-star to a 5-star review. I rarely give books a 5-star and never to an author I have never read before.

Obviously, I loved this book. It is a romance, but more than that it is a description of a woman’s recovery after having life kick her in the teeth. As the description says, Thea loses her job and her husband (the rat bastard) in a matter of weeks.

What she doesn’t know is that it will turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to her.

She inherits a house from a great-uncle that she has only met four times. She can’t understand why it was left to her instead of a closer family member. Her uncle explains why in the will.

And this is why I love this book. It has the best lines in it. I could have done an entire review of just great lines. I won’t, but I will include this one.
Uncle Andrew states he left the house to Thea “whom I have only met on four occasions, but who each time was intent on reading rather than talking, which has always been my own preference.”

Since I feel the same way, this really appealed to me.

Anyway, she meets a man who’s a “right arse.” Everyone says so, even him. Fortunately, she just finds him amusing. Of course, she falls for him. I’m not giving anything away. It’s a romance after all, right?

There is no great mystery or secrets to be discovered. This is a book about relationships and is hysterically funny in places. I did have to Google a few terms because I am from the United States and this book is very British. I didn’t always get the slang.

I just have to say, “brown sauce” does not sound at all appealing.

I’ve already recommended this book to friends and my local librarian. It is truly a fun book to read.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.




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Breaking Badger (Honey Badger Chronicles, #4) by Shelly Laurenston

Breaking Badger by Shelly Laurenston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Breaking Badger by Shelly Laurenston

Title: Breaking Badger
Author: Shelly Laurenston
Series: Honey Badger Chronicles, #4
Pages: 368
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Date: August 31, 2021

Summary:

It’s instinct that drives Finn Malone to rescue a bunch of hard battling honey badgers. The Siberian tiger shifter just can’t bear to see his fellow shifters harmed. But no way can Finn have a houseful of honey badgers when he also has two brothers with no patience. Things just go from bad to worse when the badgers rudely ejected from his home turn out to be the only ones who can help him solve a family tragedy. He’s just not sure he can even get back into the badgers’ good graces. Since badgers lack graces of any kind…

Mads knows her teammates aren’t about to forgive the cats that were so rude to them, but moody Finn isn’t so bad. And he’s cute! The badger part of her understands Finn’s burning need to avenge his father’s death–after all, vengeance is her favorite pastime. So Mads sets about helping Finn settle his family’s score, which has its perks, since she gets to avoid her own family drama. Besides, fighting side by side with Finn is her kind of fun–especially when she can get in a hot and heavy snuggle with her very own growling, eye-rolling, and utterly irresistible kitty-cat…


Review:

As always, I was delighted to get a copy of a Shelly Laurenston book. It doesn’t matter which series or which pen name (G. A. Aiken) she is using, her books are my go-to favorites. And I absolutely love the honey badgers.

Many of my favorite characters showed up in this book. Charlie is one of my favorites and she was true to form. However, it is the number of newish characters that bothered me. Most, if not all, of them were introduced in the last book: Badger to the Bone. The new characters include four tiger brothers and their hybrid sister and four honey badger hybrid female friends. They’re all great characters, but that was too many personalities for me to keep track of all at once.

Did I enjoy the book? Definitely! Will I read it again? Of course. Is it one of my favorites? Afraid not.

One thing for sure. You really need to re-read Badger to the Bone before this one. You will be totally lost otherwise.


This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.




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The Ancestor by Lee Matthew Goldberg

The AncestorThe Ancestor by Lee Matthew Goldberg
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: The Ancestor
Author: Lee Matthew Goldberg
Series: n/a
Pages: 348
Publisher: All Due Respect
Date: August 21, 2020

Summary:

A man wakes up in present-day Alaskan wilderness with no idea who he is, nothing on him save an empty journal with the date 1898 and a mirror. He sees another man hunting nearby, astounded that they look exactly alike. After following this other man home, he witnesses a wife and child that brings forth a rush of memories of his own wife and child, except he’s certain they do not exist in modern times-but from his life in the late 1800s. After recalling his name is Wyatt, he worms his way into his doppelganger Travis Barlow’s life. Memories become unearthed the more time he spends, making him believe that he’d been frozen after coming to Alaska during the Gold Rush and that Travis is his great-great grandson. Wyatt is certain gold still exists in the area and finding it with Travis will ingratiate himself to the family, especially with Travis’s wife Callie, once Wyatt falls in love. This turns into a dangerous obsession affecting the Barlows and everyone in their small town, since Wyatt can’t be tamed until he also discovers the meaning of why he was able to be preserved on ice for over a century.

A meditation on love lost and unfulfilled dreams, The Ancestor is a thrilling page-turner in present day Alaska and a historical adventure about the perilous Gold Rush expeditions where prospectors left behind their lives for the promise of hope and a better future. The question remains whether it was all worth the sacrifice….

Review:

This book has two of my reading preferences: time travel (but not really) and an Alaska setting, both present day and historical. This should have been a four or five star review. As it is, I gave it three stars and I feel like I’m being generous. I liked the premise of the story and it is not something I have read before.

So what didn’t I like about the book? It dragged . . . painfully. I normally read a book in two to three days and this one took me weeks. I couldn’t make myself stick with it. My main problem with the book is none of the characters were likeable. I can understand their motivations, but there was no growth, no improvements. Wyatt was selfish and self-centered in his former life and he carried on the same way in his new life. Travis was no better.

I really wish I had not received this book as an early reviewers copy. Once I started it, I felt obligated to finish. It was not worth the time.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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The Russian Cage (Gunnie Rose; #3) by Charlaine Harris

The Russian Cage (Gunnie Rose #3)The Russian Cage by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: The Russian Cage
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Gunnie Rose, #3
Pages: 304
Publisher: Gallery/Saga Press
Date: February 23, 2021

Summary:

Picking up right where A Longer Fall left off, this thrilling third installment follows Lizbeth Rose as she takes on one of her most dangerous missions yet: rescuing her estranged partner, Prince Eli, from the Holy Russian Empire. Once in San Diego, Lizbeth is going to have to rely upon her sister Felicia, and her growing Grigori powers to navigate her way through this strange new world of royalty and deception in order to get Eli freed from jail where he’s being held for murder.

Russian Cage continues to ramp up the momentum with more of everything Harris’ readers adore her for with romance, intrigue, and a deep dive into the mysterious Holy Russian Empire.

Review:

Gunnie Rose used to have a simple life . . . at least by her standards. She transported and/or protected goods, whether they were living or not. She definitely kept out of the way of politics and magic users. Now, in spite of herself, Lizbeth Rose becomes involved with the politics of the Holy Russian Empire. Since that is where the magic users are trained, that means she is also involved with magic users known as Grigoris.

This is the third book in Harris’ Gunnie Rose series and I think it is the best one so far. The world building is pretty much done and the focus is more on the plot and relationships. I love that Lizbeth is developing a closer relationship with her newly discovered sister Felicia. I am also enjoying finding out some of Felicia’s secrets.

Of course, I would recommend this book to anyone who is already a fan of Charlaine Harris’ other series. Having said that, the plotline is totally different from her other works. I think I have read everything she has written and this series is definitely one of her best.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Undercover Kitty (Second Chance Cat Mystery, #8) by Sofie Ryan

Undercover Kitty (Second Chance Cat Mystery; #8)Undercover Kitty by Sofie Ryan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: Undercover Kitty
Author: Sofie Ryan
Series: Second Chance Cat Mystery, #8
Pages: 352
Publisher: Berkley Books
Date: January 26, 2021

Summary:

Sarah and Elvis can always be found at a charming secondhand shop in the village of North Harbor, Maine. Despite the small-town setting, the daring duo often find themselves wrapped up in murder, but luckily they have help–a quirky group of senior citizens runs an amateur detective agency called Charlotte’s Angels out of the store.

The Angels are hired to look into who is sabotaging cat shows in the state, and they decide the best way to do that is to send Elvis the cat undercover as a contestant. But then one of the cat show volunteers is murdered just before the latest competition, and Sarah and the Angels have to catch a killer in two shakes of a cat’s tail!

Review:

Sarah and Elvis are once again involved in a mystery in their small town. This time someone is sabotaging cat shows in the region. The owners need someone to investigate and Elvis, of course, is the ideal cat to go in undercover.

This is the eighth book in Sofie Ryan’s Second Chance Cat mystery series and they just keep getting better. I always enjoy the descriptions of the items in Sarah’s upcycling store. I am not creative and I wish the store was real. I would love to purchase some of their merchandise. The relationship between Mac and Sarah is growing, but these books are not romances. They are cozy mysteries with a heavy dose of cats.

I would and have recommended these books to readers who love cozies, cats, and small town people. The upcycling component is just a bonus.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Furbidden Fatality (Catskills Pet Rescue Mystery, #1) by Deborah Blake

Furbidden Fatality (A Catskills Pet Rescue Mystery #1)Furbidden Fatality by Deborah Blake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Furbidden Fatality
Author: Deborah Blake
Series: Catskills Pet Rescue, #1
Pages: 288
Publisher: Berkley Books
Date: February 23, 2021

Summary:

Kari Stuart’s life is going nowhere–until she unexpectedly wins the lottery. The twenty-nine-year-old instant multimillionaire is still mulling plans for her winnings when trying to rescue a bossy black kitten leads her to a semi abandoned animal shelter. They need the cash–Kari needs a purpose.

But the dilapidated rescue is literally going to the dogs with a pending lawsuit, hard to adopt animals, and too much suspicious attention from the town’s dog warden. When the warden turns up dead outside the shelter’s dog kennels, Kari finds herself up a creek without a pooper-scooper.

With the help of some dedicated volunteers, a cute vet, and a kitten who mysteriously shows up just when she needs it, Kari must prove her innocence all while trying to save a dog on death row. Now she just needs to hope that her string of unexpected luck isn’t about to run out.

Review:

Alright. Now I have another reason I NEED to win the lottery. I want to buy an animal shelter for my community. I cannot think of a better use of the money.

Of course, what I don’t want is to find a dead body in the backyard. Unfortunately, that is what happens to Kari.

Furbidden Fatality is the first in a new cozy mystery series and I loved it. I have read several of Deborah Blake’s paranormal titles, but I believe this is her first realistic mystery. There are numerous characters, both good guys and bad, but mostly good. As I said, there is a murder, but not anyone who didn’t need killing. This was just a great book.

Even though it seemed like the main bad guy should be obvious, I did not have it figured out until the end. The clues were all there; I just didn’t put it together and that’s a good thing. I hate figuring out the ending too soon.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes cozies and especially to anyone who loves animals. I can’t wait for you to meet the boss of everyone: Queen Nefertiti, a small, black kitten!

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Joint Custody by Lauren Baratz-Logsted & Jackie Logsted

Joint CustodyJoint Custody by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: Joint Custody
Author: Lauren Baratz-Logsted & Jackie Logsted
Series: n/a
Pages: 256
Publisher: Berkley Books
Date: January 5, 2021

Summary:

A mischievous dog takes matters into his own paws when his beloved owners split up in this offbeat romantic comedy.

The Man has custody Monday through Friday, The Woman has custody on the weekends. But that’s not enough for Gatz, who will do anything to bring them back together–even if it kills him. And it almost did. Of course he knows chocolate is bad for him, especially two whole pounds of it, but it’s the risk he’s willing to take to get them back together.

Gatz knows that The Man and The Woman are perfect for each other–how can they not see it too? She is an editor and he’s a writer. She’s a social butterfly and he’s as introverted as a guy can get. After the misguided death-by-chocolate attempt, Gatz thinks he still has time. But when New Man–so handsome, so nice, so perfect–enters The Woman’s life, he realizes he’ll need to step up his game. And you know what they say: drastic times call for drastic doggy measures.

A laugh-out-loud romance that will touch your heart and make you want a furry friend of your own.

Review:

I requested this book simply because I loved the idea of a book from the dog’s point of view. At first, I thought I had made a mistake. Initially, I thought it was trying too hard to be cute . . . the book, not the dog. Gatz is cute and he knows it. He, however, does not like to be called cute. It is so overdone!

The two main human characters love each other, but are horribly mismatched. The relationship finally falls apart and Gatz is devastated. He has to get his people back together and will stop at nothing to accomplish that.

As I said earlier, I thought the first person dog was a bit much. However, the premise worked much better than I expected. To be honest, Gatz has more of what I would call a cat attitude than a dog. He knows he is the most important character in the book and thinks very highly of himself. To me, that is all cat.

Anyway, this book was fun and heartbreaking all at the same time. Yes, it is a romantic comedy, but it is really more about relationships than romance. It is not all light and fluffy. All of the main characters, including Gatz, demonstrate emotional growth and the willingness to admit they could be wrong about some things.

Did I love this book? No. I did enjoy it though and am glad I read it. There was a lot more depth than expected and as in all good romances, things work out in the end.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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