Category Archives: Contemporary

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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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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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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The Future is Yours by Dan Frey

The Future Is YoursThe Future Is Yours by Dan Frey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: The Future is Yours
Author: Dan Frey
Series: n/a
Pages: 352
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Date: February 9, 2021

Summary:

Two best friends create a computer that can predict the future. But what they can’t predict is how it will tear their friendship—and society—apart.

If you had the chance to look one year into the future, would you?

For Ben Boyce and Adhi Chaudry, the answer is unequivocally yes. And they’re betting everything that you’ll say yes, too. Welcome to The Future: a computer that connects to the internet one year from now, so you can see who you’ll be dating, where you’ll be working, even whether or not you’ll be alive in the year to come. By forming a startup to deliver this revolutionary technology to the world, Ben and Adhi have made their wildest, most impossible dream a reality. Once Silicon Valley outsiders, they’re now its hottest commodity.

The device can predict everything perfectly—from stock market spikes and sports scores to political scandals and corporate takeovers—allowing them to chase down success and fame while staying one step ahead of the competition. But the future their device foretells is not the bright one they imagined.

Ambition. Greed. Jealousy. And, perhaps, an apocalypse. The question is . . . can they stop it?

Told through emails, texts, transcripts, and blog posts, this bleeding-edge tech thriller chronicles the costs of innovation and asks how far you’d go to protect the ones you love—even from themselves.

Review:

One year. How wonderful would it be to know what will happen one year into the future? We would know the results of the presidential election. We would know where the world stands with the COVID-19 crisis. And yes, we would know the winning lottery numbers. Yes, that would be wonderful!

But why can we only see one year into the future? Has something happened? Is it a glitch with the software? Did we cause it?
Quantum physics is used to explain the ability of information to travel from the future. Don’t let that worry you though. There are only a couple of places where the science gets heavy and it does not disturb the flow of the story. I am not a scientist. I know the words/concepts they use, but I do not understand the science. Not understanding did not disturb the flow of the plot at all.

Underneath what is a wonderful science fiction story is a slow building tension. What really does happen in the future and does the “time machine” affect it? Can it, should it, be fixed?

I never saw the ending coming, but I should have. The clues were there. I just didn’t put it together.

This is not just a science fiction novel, but a novel of human relationships. There is jealousy, both professional and personal. There is a fear of the future and how this science can and will influence that future. There are politicians, scientists, and the common man. Everyone is involved!

I generally don’t care for books that are not written in straight prose. This one, however, makes the variety of styles work. The only thing is you have to pay attention to the dates because they jump around and I found that confusing at first.

Would I recommend this book? Definitely, but only to readers who enjoy science fiction. I don’t think this is a book for the general populace. I think that it would only be appreciated by readers who enjoy science whether they truly understand it or not.

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

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Truth, Lies, and Second Dates by MaryJanice Davidson

Truth, Lies, and Second DatesTruth, Lies, and Second Dates by MaryJanice Davidson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: Truth, Lies, and Second Dates
Author: MaryJanice Davidson
Series:
Pages: 320
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Date: December 15, 2020

Summary:

Captain Ava Capp has been flying from her past for a decade. She’d much rather leave it, and her home state, behind forever. But when she finds herself back in Minnesota, against her better judgment, everything goes sideways in a way she never expected it to.

M.E. Dr. Tom Baker has never forgotten Ava and the cold case she ran away from. When she shows up unexpectedly in town, in spite of himself, sparks fly. Which is terrible because he can’t stop his growing attraction to her. Can these two Type-A’s let their guards down and work together to put Ava’s tragic past behind her for good? And keep their hands off each other at the same time?

Review:

Unlike the first two books in this loosely connected series (Danger, Sweetheart and The Love Scam), Truth, Lies, and Second Dates stands alone. The only connection is the H in Danger, Sweetheart and the h in TLSD (that is way too long to keep typing out) are former hookups. They were not a couple. They were not even really friends, but simply got together when Ava was in town.

And Ava – Ava is a pilot for a wonderful domestic airline that I would really like to be for real. It sounds like a great place to work and fly with. Anyway, she ends up back in her hometown, which she hates, for a layover. She left ten years earlier when her best friend was murdered AND that is the basis for the plot. The murder was never solved and now it looks like the murderer is after her.

As in the earlier books, I started out not liking this one. I thought it was dumb. Of course, the premise of the series is to address as many romantic tropes as possible, so it kind of meant to be dumb. But like the earlier books, I really enjoyed it. I adore Tom and how literal he can be. At the very end of the book and this is not a spoiler because it is so obvious, it’s stated that he is on the spectrum. As the kids used to say, “Well, duh.”

My favorite character of all is Tom’s niece Hannah. She is only six and her I.Q. is off the charts. I really hope we get her book when she has time to grow up. That’s if she hasn’t destroyed the world by then.

As I said, I ended up liking all three of these books. They’re fun and they don’t take a lot of thought. If you’re looking for escapism, I couldn’t recommend anything better.

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

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Review: Spells for the Dead (Soulwood, #5) by Faith Hunter

Spells for the Dead (Soulwood #5)Spells for the Dead by Faith Hunter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: Souls for the Dead
Author: Faith Hunter
Series: Soulwood; #5
Pages: 384
Publisher: Ace Books
Date: July 28, 2020

Summary:

Nell Ingram is a rookie PsyLed agent, using the powers she can channel from deep within the earth to solve paranormal crimes. Together with her team, she’s taken on the darkest magic and the direst foes. But she’ll need to tap into every ounce of power she has for her newest case.

Nell is called to the Tennessee mansion of a country music star and finds a disturbing scene–dead bodies rapidly decaying before everyone’s eyes. The witch on her team, T. Laine, knows this can only be one thing: death magic, a rare type of craft used to steal life forces. PsyLed needs to find this lethal killer fast. But when a paranormal-hating FBI agent tries to derail the investigation, they find themselves under attack from all sides.

Review:

This was an absolutely amazing book. At times, I held my breath due to the tension. At other times, I laughed out loud (Marilyn! When you read the book, you’ll understand). I have enjoyed all of these books, and the Jane Yellowrock ones, as well, but this one was my favorite.

Nell has grown so much as a woman and in her power. The relationship with Occam is warm and loving. I want a cat-man. Mud is in some ways a typical pre-teen and in others so exceptional due to her raising and her gifts. Nell definitely has her hands full with her.

All of my favorite characters make an appearance. Firewind, who I don’t want to like, is growing on me. Ricky-bo is also becoming likeable. There are hints of something unnamed going on with other team members and I can’t wait to find out what that is all about.

I have been in a terrible reading slump recently. This book has helped tremendously. It was engrossing, exciting, and so satisfying.

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