Day Shift by Charlaine Harris

In preparation for the last volume of this series release, here is my review of the second volume of the series, which I read as an Ace/Roc reviewer.

 

In Midnight, Texas, there is a psychic, a witch, her talking cat, an angel, a vampire, a hired killer, and other mysterious residents. In Day Shift, this second novel about Midnight, the psychic, Manfred Bernardo, is unfortunate enough to have one of his clients die during a session and her grasping son accuses him of stealing the jewels that she hid from him. It takes a village to get Manfred out of this predicament.

Charlaine Harris’s newest series is set in the same world as her Sookie Stackhouse universe, where vampires and weres are “out” but those of other natures haven’t quite revealed themselves. Manfred is the real thing, a psychic with a large clientele who sometimes schedules meetings at hotels where he will see successive clients over a few days in nicer settings than his living room in Midnight. This time. Rachel Goldthorpe wants to talk to her dead husband, Morton, about their son, Lewis, who is badgering her about his inheritance and basically making her life miserable.

Written in a sparse, yet precise and descriptive style, the mix of characters and flow of plot is just right. The characters are all connected in logical ways that make sense in the framework of the story. They all seem to be given equal time to live and breathe with the exception of Madonna and her husband, Teacher, the proprietors of the local diner. They remain mysterious, but there are hints that the next novel might concern them.

A new character in town is Deideric, a small boy who is mysteriously left in the care of the Rev, the taciturn caretaker of the local chapel, who spends his time holding funerals for pets and marrying young couples who pass through. He is not a good choice for the boy, who seems to be growing by leaps and bounds each day.

When Manfred is questioned by the police, his fellow Midnight neighbors want to clear his name, get rid of the reporters lurking around town, get their lives back to normal, and get the spotlight off their quiet town. With the help of some surprise visitors from Harris’s previous books about Sookie, the book sets out to do just that. It doesn’t help that an old abandoned hotel has been renovated and filled with what appears to be indigent seniors with no known relatives. The motives of the hotel owners are hidden and the publicity of the new enterprise is not welcomed by the town residents, who would prefer to live anonymously.

I really like this new series and was very happy to have been given a chance to review the novel in advance as a member of Ace/Roc Stars. If the rest of the selection of books I received are this good, I will be in bookworm heaven for the rest of the year! Thank you Ace/Roc!

 

This Gem In My Hand (Streetlights Like Fireworks Book 4)

Jack and Lauren Go Home.

The 4th book in the Streetlights Like Fireworks series is a personal journey for our psychic pair, as they return home from Seattle to Richmond in a two week visit to family. They are swept up in a mystery from the past, when Lauren feels compelled to buy a toaster oven from a thrift store that has a ghost attached. Like the previous books, Jack and Lauren are sensitive to people who haven’t moved on. This manifests in different ways: visual and dreams. In the last book, they were warned about a dark house and this seems to be pointing towards the future bed and breakfast the toaster oven (purchased by the thrift store in a garage sale) came from. The house belonged to a family that had tragedy in it’s past. Love lost and found, and class barriers are a theme this time. The ghosts, a former friend of Lauren’s who never forgot her kindness in middle school, Jack and Lauren’s love for each other, and Jack’s sister Caitlen (his adoption and acceptance by his adoptive parents is still a stressful part of his relationship with his family), who is struggling with growing up and being open with her parents, are the main arcs of the story to be resolved.

Lauren’s old friend, Tyler, is part of a team of psychic investigators who are overjoyed to have their help in filming occurrences in the old house, which nightly slams doors, moves objects, and even speaks to sensitive people. There is a malevolent presence in a bedroom on the second floor that would keep the business from being a success. It’s ok to hear noises and see things out of the corner of your eye, but a heavy spirit that makes people unhappy and cold isn’t welcome.

I always enjoy the Streetlights Like Fireworks books, but this one particularly spoke to me. David Pandolfe’s dialog again shines as a clear voice of this age. People who are in their 20’s will particularly enjoy these books, but they are not just for them. Another hit for Pandolfe.

I received this ebook in return for my review.

 

Finished March 6. 2016

The Library Of Alexandria

Review of Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1)

By Rachael Caine

What if instead of inventing the device that changed the world of knowledge, Gutenberg was branded a heretic and the printing press was suppressed? Books were never freely distributed among the populace , but were the private property of the Library of Alexandria, and artifices guarded the Library against any incursion. That is the premise of Ink and Bone, Rachel Caine’s fascinating new series. I was given an advanced copy from Ace/Roc for a fair review.

Jess Brightwell was raised in a family that outwardly appeared to be honorable, though not extremely wealthy. In 2025 London, books were only in your home if you purchased a special dispensation to have an electronic copy, somewhat like our tablets. No book was original, hand printed, or special….unless you were a collector, and you trafficked in bootleg, black market books. That was the secret sideline of the Brightwells. Jess had been running books to those who could afford to pay for them since he was a child. Some of these were true collectors and scholars who treasured the written page, but some were perverts. Jess brought the last book in his running career to one of these, an Ink Licker, who purchased a one of a kind book and proceeded to eat each page in front of him, like a drug addict.

Jess’s father purchased a commission to have Jess join the Library, and learn all it’s secrets. He was to go to their school with the end result of being offered a lifelong job within the sacred walls and spy for his family. But it wasn’t going to be easy, and certainly not as simple as his father and brother expect it to be. The world is in turmoil, with war between Wales and England, and the Burners, people who want all books abolished. When his education is done, where will his loyalties lie?

I appreciate the completely unique world Caine has invented, one which is at once archaic and technologically up to date. Intellectual suppression and innate mechanical skill has created an odd mix of automatons and Victorian styled society whose every thought is urged to be set down daily in their Codex (diary) but if they produce anything new, it is only allowed if authorized by the Library. Individuals that have skills that the Library can use are often conscripted against their will. One group of people who have almost magical powers are the Obscurists. When their powers manifest, they are whisked away to the Iron Tower, never to set foot outside again.

Our story follows Jess and his fellow group of postulants who are striving to be the last six to be accepted into the Library. They all have different talents that the Library can use, and they all have secrets. They are led by Scholar Wolfe, who has his own mysteries. Is he their guardian or their enemy?
I am looking forward to the next volume in this series, as this one has only whetted my appetite.

 

I finished this book  on April 26, 2015.

Flying around in ships.

Review of The Aeronaut’s Windlass

by Jim Butcher

The start of a new series by a solid fantasy writer is always exciting. This new book is even more so, a thick heft of a thing, full of adventure and fraught with danger. The world is shrouded in mist which shelters evil creatures. To protect mankind, the Spires were created, warrens of levels that shelter humans from the dangers of the outside world. Within these walls the aristocratic houses and commerce thrive and the Guard and the Fleet protect Spire Albion.

We open on a scene of drama, the young woman who we meet while she is leaving home to become what society deems unfit for a lady, a member of the Spirearch’s Guard. Gwendolyn Lancaster comes from the family that has had the great responsibility of creating the crystals that power the great airships that for commerce and armed forces are essential. They also power everything that needs energy, such as the gauntlet that Gwendolyn uses to punctuate her leaving.

At the same time, the Captain of one of the ships that uses the crystals to defend the Spire Albion against Spire Auroran airships with his Merchant ship, the Predator, Captain Francis Madison Grimm is desperately fending off the ASA Itasca, a battlecruiser built to run down ships like the Predator. But Captain Grimm has an excellent crew, a fast ship, and a rapier sharp mind. He is also an exiled captain of the Albion’s Fleet due to a mysterious charge of cowardice in the face of battle.

The story follows Gwen’s education as a Guard, and all the Guard trainees she meets, and the Captain of the Predator and his crew until the two groups meet in a mission for the Spirearch of Albion to protect Master Ferus, an Etherealist who controls the mysterious forces of nature. There embarks an adventure that fairly flies off the page and keeps you up at night reading. Rarely do I find books about the tactics of war so fascinating, but this story is full of interesting characters that you truly care about. There is Bridget Tagwynn, whose best friend is a cat named Rowl, whose help is integral to solving the puzzle of treachery and treason that Albion finds itself in. Benedict, member of the guard and Gwen’s cousin is a fierce fighter anyone would want at their back. All are fleshed out and well drawn characters that inhabit this Steampunk flavored world.

I received an advance copy for review.

 

I finished this book June 20, 2015

Zombies, with an Egyptian twist.

Review of The Reburialists

By J.C. Nelson

for Ace/Roc Allstars

 

I don’t normally read this type of book. That said, I did enjoy it. It was a roller coaster of a novel, dragging us along with our heroes Brynner Carson and Grace Roberts. Along the way they leave a landscape littered with the bodies of the reanimated, who they learn to dispatch with aplomb.

Brynner Carson grew up in the shadow of his father, Heinreich, who was a fighter and researcher against the scourge that infests this version of the Earth. For four thousand centuries the legions of Egyptian flavored undead have been controlled by a mysterious force that causes bodies to rise from recent graves to attack humans for it’s own reasons. This fight is coming to a crucial nexus with the coming together of these two strong willed and beautiful people. Grace is a highly intelligent translator brought in by the BSI, the organization that makes it’s mission the eradication of the creatures who torment the living. Grace has secrets that make her actions sometimes hard for Brynner to understand.

Brynner is the man who has made his life’s mission align with the organization that pays him to do what he would do without pay. Grace needs the higher pay she’s getting to translate Brynner’s father’s diaries to find a secret that can help them in their fight. They are strongly attracted to each other, but with the end of civilization as we know it at hand, they must ignore their lust and get to business. They are both being manipulated by their boss, Director Bismuth, who has her own idea how the mission should be accomplished, and will use anyone and anything to get things done.

Several times I thought I knew who the real villain was, and it was not who I thought. There is real emotion here, we know their motivation and it is noble. J. C. Nelson knows how to build suspense and build a credible world with incredible beings in it. I believed that this could happen while I was reading it. I raced though the book in a day.

In conclusion, if you enjoy action and a world full of “zombies”, a little sex and a grand story, you will like this book.

I received this book for free in return for writing a review.

I finished this book on March 6, 2016