Saturday, January 17, 2015

Hunter's Haven by Linda Thackeray

I ended the year needing to catch up to my Goodreads goal for the year and I'm still more in 'read mode' than 'write mode'. I finally made some serious progress on Crane's War, my upcoming Military Space Opera, yesterday. Hunter's Haven I finished on Wednesday. It's few books these days that tempt me to stay up past my bedtime, but this one did that. Great read!

John Hunter signed up to protect his country. Proving his abilities on the fields of war, he was quickly recruited to special ops - where he lost himself in the inanity of killing, feeling less like a man fighting for freedom and more like a killer for hire. If it weren't for the letters from a little sister desperate to connect with a much older big brother she barely knew, John felt he would have toppled over the edge.

He comes home to join the police force, still protecting those who needed it. He couldn't be bought, and when the gang lord killed his little sister as an act of retribution, Hunter let the rule of law fall away, and rampaged wielding the sword of revenge.

And then the plague decimated the world, leaving little to run from and nowhere to run to, Hunter roamed the highways. Until he heard of a place called Haven.

This story begins with Hunter's attack on the drug lord. I was immediately drawn in. If you like your heroes hard, gritty, and realistic this is a book for your TBR shelf. The action never stops, and while the story gets dark, you never have the feeling that what you're reading was written for shock value. This author either knows a veteran or is one - I have a hard time thinking this amount of realism: in details, hardware, and emotion, was written from searching the internet.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Wire in the Blood by Val McDermid

I have a couple of confessions before we get into this. First, this was an audible listen while I treadmilled (is that even a word?), drove, and wandered about the house. I'm not a huge music fan. Audible books are a welcome addition to my life.

The second thing is I saw the British series television make of this before reading it. Robson Greene plays the part of Dr. Tony Hill in those. I love them. I love what he does with that character. The book version hasn't decreased that in the least, and might have even elevated my appreciation of his talent as an actor.

That said, the movie version does not follow the book exactly - and for once I love that too. The book, as it should be, is much more in depth, letting us deeper into the detectives who work so hard to bring a serial killer to justice. It's more difficult than usual with this case as the killer they've set their sights on is a national sports hero turned tellie star and the National Profiling Task Force that Dr. Hill has only just started aren't even supposed to be working a case.

To add to that, the district they've been set up in is full of coppers who don't give a fig about profiling. When one of Tony's team gets too close to the suspect and is murdered, it's the profiling team those detectives look into for a suspect, not the wealthy T.V. star whom the murdered detective was last seen alive with. It's up to Tony and his team to find evidence on Jacko Vance before they lose a second detective from the task force to an incompetent frame up.

From a writers perspective, since I write too, I appreciated the way the author used third person unrestricted along with the judicially placed omniscient sentence or two. The transitions between the characters, which included the killer, never left me feeling jolted out of the story. It flowed with impeccable and certain aim to the ending. That tends to be one of my pet peeves with third person- that feeling that I've suddenly been dropped into a completely different book when I turn the page. One could argue my experience is because I had already been introduced to the story, and I can't discount that, but the way the author handled transitions between scenes and characters had something to do with it as well.

Normally when you read a mystery, it's all about finding answering "who done it". Not so with this story. We know who the killer is practically from the beginning and that doesn't lessen the tension built as the team works to prove he's their man before his latest victim dies. It is a story about profiling after all, and it was expertly handled.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Rambling on a Friday

So I've made this new deal with myself. I need to exercise every day. In the interests of actually seeing that happen, I either have to hit the yoga mat or the treadmill for thirty minutes, or I have to clean something for an hour.

I hate to clean. I come from a long line of women who hate to clean. I don't mind working out. I like the way I feel when I'm done. I like the positive effects it has on both my physical and state, but I'm a really bad starter. Procrastination Central, that's where you'll find me.

You'd think that given the option, I'd chose working out. I thought I would. My house has never been cleaner. I'm a little bemused, bordering on confused, blinded by all the shiny, dusted surfaces surrounding me. A journal entry into Good Housekeeping was not the expected result.

Don't get me wrong, I do kind of like it, but I still need to hit the mat at least three times a week. I have major house projects that need to be done this spring and summer and I'd really like to skip the part where I end up hobbling around like a ninety year old after spending all day moving rock. Using muscles you haven't stretched for years in full weekend-warrior-yard-apocalypse mode is painful. I'm trying not to do that this year. I've hit the stage in my life where I actually know I have a lower back.

I have landscaping to do. The house needs a coat of paint. The crawlspace needs a vapor barrier and some insulation - which is what started this repair list in the first place. I was standing at my computer typing and my feet became ice cubes. That's what happens when you live in an old house in need of some TLC.

That also led to new fur-lined boots I can wear around the house. They look ridiculous, like I could snow shoe in them, but I now understand why so many people wear them despite that fact. My tootsies are toasty. Now if I could just get them on the treadmill.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Stone Gods, by C.B. Pratt

Eno the Thracian is back! If you read Hero for Hire, you know what I'm talking about. Stone Gods finds Eno in route to see his mother. Even monster slayers get homesick, but Eno has a reason for seeking out the woman who bore him into this world. One of the Gods let it slip that Eno's father might not be of the mortal realm, and Eno decides to ask the only person he knows who can either corroborate or deny this claim.

Intent on getting the truth one way or another, he sets out for home only to find that the path to his homeland is besieged and that he's developed a sidekick - Naunet, Princess of Egypt, has been told by every seer she's spoken with that her fate lies in the hands of a barbarian. She's decided that's Eno. Between working out how to stay single and sirens, Eno finds his trip rerouted. But that's all right. He's in need of some good will with the Gods after killing Pan's daughters. Even Apollo thinks Egypt is a good idea.

Like the first book, this story is full of history, humor and action. I love how the history is tight, but the quips often reflect our own current culture. It's a lighthearted peek at the past following a character that's larger than life and not taking himself too seriously.

The next book is Dark Mountain. Going to have to get cracking - I have to know who Eno's father is!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Dark Shadows, The Mercy Carver Series by Jana Petken

Born on a night that took both her parents, Mercy Carver is raised and sheltered by her grandparents. On the eve of her eighteenth birthday she finds out she's been promised to the local butcher for four years. Mercy's stomach turns. She tries to think of a way out, but coming up with nothing, plans a single day of freedom over the bridge in London - a town she's never seen. If she'd only known what that day would bring.

This story starts off like a gothic, but quickly turns to an historical romance reminiscent of the old 600 page 'bodice rippers' full of kidnappings, damsels in distress, thwarted lovers, and a trip to a new country. It's not 600 pages, thank goodness, and while the author doesn't spare the details of our heroines trials, the story doesn't get as dark as some others I've read in the past. It isn't full of happy coincidences either, staying true to a reality I may not have always liked as I read, but understood.

Set in the American pre-civil war era, there is a great deal of attention to history delivered in a very conversational manner. Again, the author stayed true to the period. When you're introduced to a slave owner, he talks and thinks like a slave owner. It's a tad bit bracing, but honest.

I no longer read a great deal of historical romance, but this one took me back. Glad I picked it up.