Book Reviews

Ethan (The K9 Files, #1) by Dale Mayer

512lcobwiil

I found this book through Freebooksy a few days ago. I was actually surprised by it. It is a very clean romance (right up to the end and even that isn’t super racy). It’s more of a suspense story than anything else.

Ethan is a disabled war veteran trying to find his place in the world. He is handed a request to find a missing retired war dog named Sentry. Sentry was adopted out after his retirement from the military but the military department charged with keeping an eye on retired war dogs has run out of funding and Sentry fell through the cracks. No one knows where he is. As these dogs deserve the best homes possible after their retirement, particularly with their training, Ethan decides to take on the assignment. He runs into Cinnamon, an animal rescue volunteer, when he brings in an injured shepherd to a local veterinary clinic. In looking for who injured the shepherd, Ethan stumbles across a suspicious compound with extremely well trained dogs working it with the guards. Soon local retired veterans, the police, and Cinnamon are all involved with the compound.

Like I said the romance was very clean and interesting to watch develop between Cinnamon and the reclusive Ethan. I loved reading about the highly trained dogs. I am always interested in dog training and was hoping for more on how they are trained. Unfortunately, this book focused on what the dogs can do at the end of their training, not the actual training itself. Oh well. The dogs are highly involved in the book which is nice. I thought the book could have been made a little longer and not felt as if it drug on. Actually, some of the book felt a little rushed. Some of the events could have been spaced out more with some relationship development, background character highlighting, or discussion and background information. I absolutely loved reading it but since I finished it I feel like it’s missing substance, you know the deep background and little events that help build the depth of the book and relationships between the big events that make it really easy to remember the book. That being said the book was extremely well developed, moved along well, kept reader interest, and was well edited. The main characters were also fleshed out quite well.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.30 PM

Advertisements
Book Reviews

Dose Vidanya (Silver Hills #1) by Sam Cheever

51TP0TgZPrL

Flo and Agnes live a the Silver Hills Seniors and Singles Residence. Agnes is a retired weightlifter with a death-predicting cat and Flo is an inquisitive middle aged woman with an attack dachshund. Trouble starts when one of the kitchen staff is found dead in the basement. The police believe it to be natural causes, but Flo thinks otherwise. She begins her own investigation with the help of Agnes, the Activities Director called T.C., and her friend (and crush) Roger. Between a ransacked apartment, a set of night managers who are content to let the residents think they’re vampires, a policeman with a crush, and various residence characters, Flo and her buddies get into several uncomfortable places – all leading up to a final confrontation with the killer!

I think if I was a fan of the genre (cozy, retirement age, mysteries) this would be a fabulous book. I found myself laughing out loud several times and the characters were well-developed and relate-able. The story line moved well, the setting unique and interesting, and the plot not unbelievable. I’ve read enough mystery books that I was able to predict a few things which was both nice and annoying because I was like – Why aren’t the other characters noticing this? Also, the policeman was made to look somewhat inept, which is addressed but still somewhat annoying. I did like how the story built and that you got to see an investigation from an amateur sleuth point of view that made you feel like you could attempt the same thing. However, the stuff these women did would probably have gotten them arrested or several pieces of evidence thrown out at trial.

I did enjoy it. I can’t say I was fully pulled into the story, but it kept my interest. There was plenty of humor to balance out the murder story line. There was also a decent shot at predicting the killer which can be fun if it’s something you’re into. It did set up for a decent series with memorable characters and enough leeway to include variety in later story lines.

My Rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.30 PM

2018 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge · Book Reviews

Ride the Wind by Lucia St. Clair Robson

207144-m

I first fell in love with this book when I was around 14, which honestly was probably too a little too young to be reading this book…LOL. It probably held the title of favorite book for many years and is still in my top five. I’ve been meaning to re-read it for several years and finally managed to work it in to my schedule. I was determined not to skip ahead or to just read the parts I knew I felt like reading – I was going to re-read the book in its entirety this time.

It was somewhat different than I remember. The last time I read it had to be probably over ten years ago and I know I skipped through a lot of it. The premise for the story is the life of Cynthia Ann Parker, a young girl captured by the Comanche and raised among them, eventually marrying a great chief and raising several children before being recaptured by her family. As a historical fiction, there is some creative license taken and her life among the Comanche pieced together by old passed down stories, history, research and imagination. The author builds a very real and believable life for the young girl and what it may have been like for her among the Comanche. I doubt it is how it actually happened, but that is not the point of historical fiction. What I had forgotten about, was how many secondary and even tertiary story lines are wound throughout the book. There are sections that follow the girl’s family, a US Marshall, a squad of rangers, other members of her tribe, and even from the perspective of an Indian chief of an enemy tribe.  It sounds hard to follow, but the author wove it so seamlessly together it is not a problem. You get a whole variety of views, beliefs, events, and interactions from the time frame and what life was really like. Some of it is particularly brutal, some heart-breakingly sad, some joyful, and others just brutally honest everyday life.

You learn a lot about the time frame, Comanche life, Comanche politics, the fighting against the Indians, political moves and promise breaking in Indian politics, and the views and beliefs of several different types of people at the time. I find it a difficult, but rewarding read, even though it ends sadly. All the characters are relateable, reminding you of someone. The story line is easy to follow and makes sense. The events make you emotionally invested in the book and the characters. With getting to see both sides of the time frame, it can be difficult to hate the various characters in the book.

I’d recommend it to anyone interested in Native American life, western history, classical fiction, or a historical story with a small romance in it. The romance is not explicit at all and is only alluded to once. Mostly it is just a heavily emotional book with characters who are extremely well-developed, a story line that builds strongly, and a book that will make you remember what was in it.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.27.43 PM

 

 

2017 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge · Book Reviews

Pretty-Shield, Medicine Woman of the Crows by Frank B. Linderman

905013

I love reading about American Indian history, particularly historical fiction or memoir told by or about women. I’m surprised that I have not come across this book earlier.

The story is basically a series of interviews that the author had with Pretty-shield. He even tells you right there in the book and he goes on to describe each interview in detail to recount what she has told him. This is not a biography, but rather an outsider-lead memoir. During each interview Frank prompts a topic or Pretty-shield comes in with a story she remembered and wants to share with him. You get the feel for the reservation school house they are using and snippets about life for Pretty-shield at the reservation. However, the bulk of the information comes from the various stories Pretty-shield conveys to Frank through sign talk and an interpreter. The topics vary greatly and don’t follow any particular order. You learn about women’s jobs in the Crow nation, various ceremonies, cultural fears and beliefs, daily routines, buffalo hunts, marriage ceremonies, the importance of war between the tribes, mourning, family relationships, traditions, and even about the the Crows joining with General Custer and fighting with him at the Little Bighorn. There is a wealth of information in this relatively short book, conveyed by a very enthusiastic and likable woman. I wasn’t a big fan of the interview format or the disjointed story telling, but you did learn a lot. I think if he would have taken her stories and put them in chronological order it would have been a little better. However, he was staying true to his craft and intended to portray his information and source in the most authentic way possible.  You really got a feeling for the type of woman Pretty-shield was and got a strong sense of her personality and sense of humor. She is a fascinating woman and really brings to life the Crow nation and its lost lifestyle. I’m surprised there aren’t any historical fiction books based around her life and stories.

If you are at all interested in American Indian history, way of life, or an interesting woman, I would highly recommend this book for you. Like I said, you have to expect to read it as an interview and not really a story. She tells different tales within each chapter and varies between present day and when she was younger. You learn a mass amount of information about the Crows and their lifestyle and get a deeper understanding of their culture and belief system. I can’t say I’ll probably read it again, but I am definitely glad I read it now.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.16 PM

2017 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge · Book Reviews

Dances with Wolves by Michael Blake

51nbabf5cyl-_ac_ul320_sr228320_

This is one of those times where I watched the movie before reading the book. I absolutely loved the Dances with Wolves movie. I never actually knew it was based on a book until a few weeks ago. when I found that out I ordered it and started to read it the day after it came (I didn’t have time in the actual day it came to start LOL). I was not disappointed by the book at all. I actually have to remark that I was impressed with how well the movie followed the book. There was very little left out and the few things they added in the movie helped to add to the story rather than distance itself from the book.

The story follows Lieutenant John Dunbar as he is assigned to a fort in the middle of the Indian frontier. seven he arrives, the fort is abandoned and he is the only soldier. He begins to complete tasks and waits for more soldiers to arrive, all while finding a peace living alone in the frontier and making friends with the animals he shares space with. You learn about his past in the civil war and his attitude toward the world and its inhabitants. He inevitably encounters Indians, Comanche, and talked the first steps in learning their culture. Little by little he is drawn deeper and deeper into their culture, particularly with the help of a white woman who was adopted by the tribe as a child. You learn her story as well over time. The story comes to climactic ending after the arrival of new soldier at the fort.

I was greatly impressed with the depth of the main character. You get pieces of thoughts from other characters scattered throughout but you primarily focus on the thoughts and actions of the lieutenant. Through his eyes your learn of a new culture and way of living. You learn about personal peace and evaluate how you see the world. You gain a respect for living of the land and see beauty in nature. But must of all it opens your eyes to the destruction one race can have on the world, how one person can set of a chair reaction of catastrophic or wonderful events and how each individual action crates ripples that shape our lives. The story isn’t action packed, but it moves steadily on with new ideas and events and revelations within the characters that keep you engrossed in the story and lets you continue to think about the story after you’ve put it down for the night or when you had to go to work. If I could have I would have read the book in one sitting. However, I was not able to but am thankful I had the in-between time to think about what I read and how I can relate to it or what it means to the world.

I’m surprised this book is not recommended reading in high school or college. It paints a beautiful picture of Comanche life and the impact white civilization had early on in their movement west. It also gives insights into sitting others, self evaluation, and how to view the world. I recommend this book to everyone. I’m very interested in reading the sequel to this book as well, The Holy Road.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.27.43 PM

2017 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge · Book Reviews

Revel: Twelve Dancing Princesses Retold (Romance a Medieval Fairytale, #4) by Demelza Carlton

34224098

When I was growing up Twelve Dancing Princesses by the Brothers Grimm was my favorite fairy tale. When I came across this adaptation, I knew I had to read it. I was not disappointed by how well the author adhered to the original tale, but was also able to make it fresh and uniquely her own.

Twelve Dancing Princesses is the tale of twelve princesses (go figure) who live in a castle with their father. Each night he locks them in their room. Every morning he unlocks the door and finds twelve pairs of dancing shoes that have been danced to pieces. The king is baffled by these events and wants to solve the mystery of how his daughters dance new shoes to pieces every night. Therefore, he issues a challenge – Any man who can solve the mystery will be given land, a title, and have his choice of the twelve princesses for a wife. The men have three nights to solve the mystery or their life is forfeit. Men come and men go, but the princesses continue to dance away until one man solves the mystery.

The author decided to adapt the story so that the princesses were in exile from the king’s harem because of his wife’s jealousy. Also, she focused on one man and one princess. From these two points of view she weaves the tale. I find it was much more emotional and much easier to connect with the story, particularly as an adult. There are some areas which are not suitable for children (sexy passage near the end) but the majority of the book is well written and clean.

The characters she chose to focus on in the story are extremely well developed. I think she could have expanded more on the other princesses, you only really get a feel for a couple of them, and increase interaction with the Queen’s cousin, who is guarding the princesses. She also gave a great story line to the princes the princesses went off to see each night. I think she took the essence of the story, all of the key points, and held true to them while also honoring them and enhancing them with the deeper, more complex story line. I think in the end I actually enjoyed this more than the original as it was so much more complex and emotional it drew me in more than the the original fairy tale ever did.

I think if anyone mildly liked Twelve Dancing Princesses when they were younger, this is a definite must read. It is so interesting as to keep your attention. It is also a widely enjoyable fantasy read, as well as a historical romance. I’d recommend it to anyone that likes romance, historical fiction, historical romance, or magical romance.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.16 PM

2017 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge · Book Reviews

The Cater Street Hangman (Charlotte and Thomas Pitt #1) by Anne Perry

51uekht9del

I’ve read several books in the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series, but somehow I’ve never managed to read the first one. Well, I’ve managed to correct that! As per usual with this series I listened to it on audiobook, which is what took me so long since I haven’t been driving as much in the summer. Davina Porter did another fantastic job with the narration as I’ve come to expect from her.

The story follows the Ellison family (Charlotte’s family) as they begin to deal with a hangman killing females on a street away. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the killings, just a single female, strangled and mutilated in the night. First it was a maid from another house, then the daughter of a close friend, then another maid from their house, slowly getting closer and closer to their lives. Inspector Thomas Pitt is assigned to the case and regularly interacts with the family in his pursuit of the killer. In doing so, he becomes more and more enamored with Charlotte, as she deals with her own feelings and the crazy family drama that is erupting around her, mostly from her two sisters and her grandmother.

The story is not completely full of twists and turns, but the ones that do occur are quite surprising. I didn’t see the answer until almost right before it was revealed. You meet a multitude of characters, some interesting, some annoying, all well developed, and are pulled in to the world of the upper class. It is interesting to watch the upper and lower classes meet through Thomas Pitt.

This book is a definite ode to the series and a great starting point. I can see why all the other stories are so well developed and unique because this book is what started them all. The story line is unique in its obstacles and turns, but also somewhat mundane. There are the things you expect to happen, but they either happen in a way you didn’t expect or they happen and have an effect on other events that you didn’t expect. I’m not sure I explained that right but I can’t seem to think of another way to say it…

Anyway, if you’ve never read this series, feel free to start right here at the beginning. This is a definite must for any historical mystery readers. Also, any readers who enjoy murder mysteries or are getting into murder mysteries, this is a fantastic read. There are no gory details or steamy scenes. It is a romance, but only as a secondary, possibly tertiary story line. Also, anyone who likes historical fiction, probably not 100% accurate mind you, would also really like this read. I’m glad I finally took the time to read it. I was honestly ecstatic how surprising it turned out.

My rating:

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 12.29.16 PM