Thursday, January 30, 2014

Review: Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin

Saints of the Shadow Bible (Inspector Rebus, Book #19)
by Ian Rankin
Release Date: January 14th, 2014
2014 Little, Brown and Company
Hardcover Edition; 400 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-4091-4474-8
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

Rebus is back on the force, albeit with a demotion and a chip on his shoulder. He is investigating a car accident when news arrives that a case from 30 years ago is being reopened. Rebus's team from those days is suspected of helping a murderer escape justice to further their own ends.

Malcolm Fox, in what will be his last case as an internal affairs cop, is tasked with finding out the truth. Past and present are about to collide in shocking and murderous fashion. What does Rebus have to hide? And whose side is he really on? His colleagues back then called themselves "The Saints," and swore a bond on something called the Shadow Bible. But times have changed and the crimes of the past may not stay hidden much longer -- and may also play a role in the present, as Scotland gears up for a referendum on independence.

Allegiances are being formed, enemies made, and huge questions asked. Who are the saints and who the sinners? And can the one ever become the other?

My Thougths
Saints of the Shadow Bible is the nineteenth novel in the Inspector Rebus series and it was a real treat to read.  I thought that Standing in Another Man's Grave was a bit slow, so it was with real pleasure that I read this one, as Rebus was in fine form and as interesting as ever.  Back on the force, demoted to detective sergeant, but ready to take on the baddies of his world.  And in this case, with a new law being passed allowing the Scottish police to re-prosecute old crimes, Rebus find himself in the thick of things as a thirty-year-old case, involving himself and his old colleagues, are being investigated for a crime, and suspicion of corruption and worse.

One of the things I thoroughly enjoyed in this novel was the joining of forces of Malcolm Fox and Rebus.  I wondered how long it would take before that would happen, and I was not disappointed in the results.  I saw a softer side to both Rebus and Fox, despite the fabled bloodhound nose being put to good use by Rebus, and it was interesting to see how the two of them worked together, building an element of trust despite themselves.  Sometimes it was easy to lose track of the plot, but the author is quite deft at allowing these little interludes and then pulling the reader right back into the middle of the intrigue, and the story just keeps on going.  And you can't help but admire the skill of a writer who can do that so easily.  I know it's happening, but I'm quite willing to be led along and just enjoy the banter between Fox, Rebus, and Clarke, as well as the other supporting characters that make this novel so much fun.  

Despite the lightheartedness of the banter, the concepts and the plot line were not light subjects, despite the author's lighter treatment of them.  Having the political intrigue fall onto innocent shoulders, and then blossom from there shows how easily a ticking bomb can go off in an atmosphere already waiting for a fuse to go off on a ticking time bomb.  I almost think the subject was treated too lightly, but it was done with Rankin's usual flare, and he certainly makes you think about how easily events can be set off.  He also deftly shows how the thinking in the police force is changing and I find that aspect quite interesting.  There was an episode in this novel that I find quite enlightening, and I'm sure it was especially so for Rebus (sorry folks, spoiler alert), and it was definitely a telling point for how things have changed from thirty years ago. I'm sure Rankin will go into more depth in the next novel as he has been doing so in his last few novels and the trend seems to be continuing.

Saints of the Shadow Bible should please all Rebus fans as the conflicts build wonderfully, both personally and politically, and come to an enticing conclusion.  I am already looking forward to the next book in this series as I can't wait to see what happens to Clarke, Rebus, and Fox as they try to negotiate a fledgling working relationship.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Evernight Teen 1st Birthday Blog Hop

EVERNIGHT TEEN turns one this month and we’re helping them celebrate during their 1st Birthday Blog Hop!  It’s EVERNIGHT TEEN’s birthday, but you get the presents. Enter below for a chance to win a $100 iTunes gift card!

EVERNIGHT TEEN books feature fresh teen fiction that’s raw, gritty and real. Whether paranormal, contemporary, sci-fi or suspense, EVERNIGHT TEEN stories are about real issues and pack a strong emotional punch. You’ll find cutting edge fiction that today’s young adults can relate to and will keep you turning the pages long into the night. Upper Young Adult titles, include…

X5 by Diana Stager
Being a socially awkward geek with anger management issues has made Travis Armstrong an outcast, but on top of that, he has visions of the future. Not that he can tell anyone, except in an anonymous online forum. When he takes a chance and meets with another group member, he winds up at The Bunker, where everyone is like him, and where, finally, he feels like he belongs. 
Tara Gage has been at The Bunker since she was thirteen years old. Even among the residents there, she’s unique, and her special talents lead her to discover that The Bunker is not the safe haven it seems to be. She’s determined to escape and get back to her family.  
When they each have visions of the other’s death, Travis and Tara know they have to run. With their captors desperate to get them back, they must rely on each other to get away before their visions become reality.
14+ for brief language, sexuality, and adult situations

X5 by Diana Stager is now 25% off at Evernight Teen until January 31st!
Leave a comment about X5 below for a chance to win an Evernight Teen eBook of your choice. Then follow the Rafflecopter to enter the grand prize of a $100 iTunes gift certificate.
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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Review: Royal Inheritance by Kate Emerson

Royal Inheritance (Secrets of the Tudor Court, #6)
by Kate Emerson
Release Date: September 24th, 2013
2013 Gallery Books
Softcover Edition; 368 Pages
ISBN: 978-1451661514
Genre: Fiction / Historical
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

Audrey Malte, born about 1528 and raised at court by the king’s tailor, John Malte, was led to believe she is Malte’s illegitimate daughter when, in fact, her father is King Henry VIII. When she reaches marriageable age, she begins to realize, from the way certain people behave toward her, that Malte is keeping secrets from her, and she sets out to discover the truth. Her quest involves the best and the worst of the courtiers, among them a man with whom she falls in love.

Unfortunately, Malte has already entered into negotiations for her betrothal to someone else, and Audrey guesses the truth about her legacy when the king settles property on her, jointly with Malte. Marriage is definitely in Audrey’s future, but will it be to the man she wants to wed?

My Thoughts
Royal Inheritance is the sixth book in the Secrets of the Tudor Court series. What I've always liked about this series is learning about the lives of women I had just heard about in passing, or had never heard about, but who actually existed during this time period.  It's always refreshing to read about the Tudor era from a unique and fresh viewpoint.   

Audrey is the illegitimate child of King Henry VIII and in this story, she is retelling her life to her young daughter, Hester, in order for her daughter to understand the dangers of having royal blood run through her veins.  I liked the set-up of the story as you get an understanding as to how things stand between Jack and Audrey in the present, as well as learn the story of how they got to the point where they are now.  I actually looked forward to the present scenes as I was quite interested in the political machinations of the Queen Mary time period and how Jack was involved considering they were both loyal to Princess Elizabeth, and very fearful for their lives and their livelihood.

I thought the plot was interesting, but I don't think it quite conveyed the urgency and the dangers of the late King Henry VIII's time period fully enough.  Audrey seemed to be somewhat naive as to what was happening around her, so focused on making sure she didn't marry Lord Southwell's son, that she seemed to ignore all of the other politicking that was going on.  And Jack, being so involved in Lord Admiral Seymour's life, would have been much more knowledgeable about the state of affairs in England that what is conveyed in this book.  I felt frustrated sometimes as the story seemed to drag over the marriage issue and pointedly ignored some of the other really important issues that were happening.  And after doing a bit of research, Jack was a bit more of a troublemaker than was conveyed in this book, and it's too bad we didn't really get to see that side to him, other than hints and flashes, such as when he was in the tower writing his dangerous poetry, as that would have added some fun to his story, I think.  

Royal Inheritance is an interesting entry in the series, but it is definitely not my favourite one (By Royal Decree still is.)  Although I know it is based on a true story, there were some parts that I had trouble suspending belief over, such as Audrey asking King Henry VIII if he was her father.  I just can't imagine anyone coming right out and having a conversation like that with him, especially in the last few months before his death, when he was said to be quite querulous.  And she obsessed over Jack for years, not really knowing anything about his life, or at least the readers didn't really learn anything about his life, which was frustrating.  That being said, Royal Inheritance was well-written, had a nice flow to it, and the transition from past to present was seamless.  I am always drawn to the Tudor era and enjoy reading about people and events that are different, and this, Ms. Emerson does well. 

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Witch Hunt by SM Reine
Called by Robert J Crane
Flaming Dove by Daniel Arensen
Cursed by Scott Nicholson & J.R. Rain

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Review: The Portal's Choice by KD Pryor

The Portal's Choice (The Gatekeepers of Em'pyrean, Book #1)
by K.D. Pryor
Release Date: May 5th, 2013
2013 Medaket Lane Publishers
Ebook Edition; 496 Pages
ISBN: 978-0989251403
Genre: Fiction / YA / Supernatural
Source: Review copy from Bewitching Book Tours

4 / 5 Stars

Tallis Challinor is faced with a problem that goes way beyond anything she’s ever encountered. And that’s saying something when you’re a teenage girl in a new town. Coping with the death of her parents was hard. Surviving life with her crabby uncle Craig was horrendous. But dealing with pissed-off spirits who appear in her basement determined to make her life miserable, well that’s way beyond creepy. It’s even deadly.

When Porteur, the head gatekeeper for the spirit world, tells Tallis that she has been chosen to round up the spirits who escaped through the portal and send them back through the gate, she is shocked, frightened, and ultimately determined to see the task through. But chasing down angry spirits isn’t a task to be taken lightly, and Tallis knows that if she fails, the consequences to the living beings she loves will be dire.

My Thoughts
The Portal's Choice is the first novel in The Gatekeepers of Em'pyrean Series and overall, it was a very interesting read.  Being a contemporary ghost story, something that always draws me in as I tend to be a sap for such things, I enjoyed the overall story although the main character, Tallis, did drive me crazy at times.  I did waver between a 3.5 and 4 star rating for this one, but the stronger plot line made me lean more towards the 4 star rating.  

Tallis is a fifteen-year-old girl who has faced quite a lot in her young life having lost her parents tragically a few years ago, and then losing her aunt to cancer.  Faced with another upheaval in her life, she is sent to live with her Aunt Gabbie and Uncle Noreis, and that's where her life takes a turn for the interesting, as she learns her Uncle Noreis comes from a long line of hereditary gatekeepers whose job is to keep the portals closed between realms so the ghosts don't have any reason to cross into our world.  Naturally, evens in past caused great upheaval at one of the gates, and Tallis is left to clean up the mess as the involved gate happens to be sitting in her basement.  

I thought the plot was quite interesting, and I had no trouble following along, although it did tend to get quite convoluted towards the end.  I liked how a lot of it was about Tallis' life, and not just about the portal and the ghosts, and although it did slow down the pace somewhat, I enjoyed this aspect tremendously.  Why?  Those are the parts where I actually liked Tallis the best as she seemed more normal while she tended to be more obnoxious and spoiled when dealing with the ghosts and those around her who wouldn't believe her stories about the ghosts.  There were times when I wished her Aunt Gabbie would send her to her room for being obnoxious and rude.  Of course people are going to doubt what she's seen and heard, they are ghosts!!!  

The other characters are quite interesting too, and I was rather drawn to Constance for some reason.  She just seems like such a nice lady, but she's also someone I wouldn't want to have me see stealing a cookie from the cookie jar either.  I just liked how she saw through people, and didn't beat around the bush.  It was rather refreshing.  And without being overt, she also managed to tone down Tallis, which made me quite happy.  I also took rather a shine to Bailey as well, and hope she continues to play a role in future novels.  I just liked her spunk and her perceptiveness with regards to other people; she was a lot of fun and I enjoyed her character and the interactions she had with others, including her mom.  She kind of reminded me of my daughter.

The Portal's Choice was an entertaining first novel in a new series about ghosts and portals.  Even though it started rather slowly, I don't feel like it hampered the reading experience at all as I tend to dislike books that are only about the ghosts and forget that people actually lead lives in between their ghostly encounters.  The plot had some nice twists in it, one I was definitely not expecting, and the characters developed rather nicely.  Hopefully Tallis will outgrow some of her angst as she grows older as some of her reactions did get on my nerves, but nobody is perfect.  I am looking forward to reading The Inn of the Kindred Spirits, the second book in this series, which was released on November 18th, as I am curious as to what will happen to Tallis as she journeys to France to visit her grandparents.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Book Blast And Giveaway: Conspiracy of Silence

Title: A Conspiracy of Silence
Genre: History
Author: Harry Goldsmith, M.D.
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 289
Language: English
ISBN - 978-0-59584-331-2

Harry S. Goldsmith takes a surprising and historical journey into the last days of one of America’s most revered leaders in A Conspiracy of Silence: The Health and Death of Franklin D.

In his quest to find the truth behind FDR’s death, Goldsmith sought to find FDR’s medical records. Failing to uncover such documents, he stumbled across a secret memo. This document revealed that FDR was aware of his deteriorating physical condition and knew how it would impact the importance of Harry S. Truman’s 1944 nomination for vice presidency.

Goldsmith contends that the memo was directly tied to the political intrigue involving FDR’s last year of life. The Health and Death of Franklin D. Roosevelt also contains a host of new information regarding FDR and gives further evidence that he was well aware of the impending attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Purchase your copy:



Dr. Goldsmith has been a professor of surgery for 35 years and a student of medical history throughout his life. He has invented several surgical procedures including an operation to treat Alzheimer?s disease and a procedure to treat acute spinal cord injuries. He is an author of 227 papers or book chapters, has edited three surgical texts, and has received honorary degrees from two Chinese universities. He is a surgeon, worldwide lecturer, and advisor on the application of his surgical procedures.

Pump Up Your Book and Harry are teaming up to give you a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate
  • This giveaway begins January 7 and ends on January 21.
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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Book Blast and Giveaway: Will You Be My Friend?

Title: Will You Be My Friend?
Genre: Childrens
Author: Kim Heaton Ramsay
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Pages: 16
Language: English
ISBN - 978-1-47729-503-8

Marley Mouse wants to make some new friends. During Marley’s search she meets four kind creatures who are very different from her. Sweet Marley offers her friendship to each of them despite their differences and has lots of fun with her new friends.

Purchase your copy:




Kim Heaton Ramsay works in healthcare and has spent her career helping people. Will You Be My Friend? is Kim’s first illustrated children’s book. She lives near Fort Worth, Texas with her husband, to whom she has been married for 27 years. Kim has two grown children, a son and a daughter.

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Review: Not the Killing Type by Lorna Barrett

Not the Killing Type (Booktown Mystery #7)
by Lorna Barrett
Release Date: July 2, 2013
2013 Berkley
Hardcover Edition; 320 Pages
ISBN: 978-0425252222
Genre: Fiction / Cozy Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

It’s November in Stoneham, New Hampshire, and that means it’s time for the Chamber of Commerce elections. The race is already a bit heated, as the long-standing Chamber president is being challenged by a former lover—Tricia’s own sister, Angelica. Then local small business owner Stan Berry throws his hat in the ring.

Unfortunately, it’s not there for long when he’s found murdered in the Brookview Inn. The murder weapon is a brass letter opener belonging to the inn’s receptionist. Tricia knows there’s no way the receptionist is a killer. And when Angelica asks Tricia to help clear her name and win the election, she sees little choice except to start snooping.

She soon uncovers a ballot box full of lies and betrayals, and a chamber full of people who had grudges against the victim. But were they serious enough to lead to murder? And who truly had something to gain? Tricia will have to do some serious sleuthing before she pulls the lever on a killer.

My Thoughts
Not the Killing Type is the seventh book in the Booktown Mysteries and while the writing, and the plot, were still interesting, and many of the characters developed quite nicely, it was the main character, Tricia, whom I thought was the most interesting, but it was also her character I had the most problems with in this installment.

This mystery centers around the Chamber of Commerce elections, which gets especially interesting when a third candidate is nominate for the position of president, and is then subsequently murdered.  Naturally, it is Tricia who finds the dead body, putting her sister Angelica into the position of suspect yet again, forcing Tricia into the position of amateur sleuth, searching for clues amongst the rather fascinating residents of Stoneham.  The interactions between Tricia and the other characters are often a delight and I have developed a real fondness for Pixie, Tricia's shop assistant.  Her brash manner and insightful, yet untimely, comments are downright funny.  

I thought the development, or perhaps lack thereof, in Tricia's love life was quite interesting.  There was a bit of a twist to Tricia's life that I wasn't quite expecting, and although I thought the twist was great, I don't think the author really did enough with it in this novel.  I realize that it's probably leading up to events in the next couple of books, but I just felt that the chemistry? zing? something was missing in these events.  And to be honest, I really wasn't all that sympathetic to Tricia's plight because of this - I was more like, get on with it and quit moping around.  And I don't think that was the emotion the author was trying to get across.  I think she was trying to show that Tricia was going through a difficult point in her life, and needed a support system of her own, but so much was happening around her that she was kind of being overlooked.  It just didn't come across that way. 

As always, there were a few surprises and twists in terms of the murder.  I did manage to figure out who the murderer was, but I guessed incorrectly as to the reasons.  There are also a couple of yummy recipes included at the back of the book if you like to cook, one of which I am going to try myself.  

Not the Killing Type is another good mystery in the Booktown series.  I enjoyed learning more about the various characters and reading about their lives. The writing style was good and the plot was interesting.  While I have enjoyed this series very much, in all fairness, I don't think this was my favourite one of the series. It's not that I didn't enjoy it, I did, but I just felt that something was missing from this one.  However, I am still looking forward to the next book in this series, Book Clubbed (July 2014), as I am curious as to what will happen with Tricia's love life and how she will deal with her melancholy.  And who will she find next?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Review: The Forbidden Stone by Tony Abbott

The Forbidden Stone (The Copernicus Legacy, Book #1)
by Tony Abbott
Release Date: January 7th, 2014
2014 Katherine Tegen Books
Ebook Edition; 432 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062194473
Genre: Fiction / Juvenile / Adventure / Series
Source: Review copy from publisher

4.5 / 5 Stars

It all began when four friends-Wade, Lily, Darrel, and Becca-received a strange, coded email from Wade's uncle Henry shortly before the old man's sudden death. They set off for Germany to attend the funeral with Wade's father, Roald, and discover that Uncle Henry left them yet another baffling message that they suspect is the key to figuring out how and why he died.

The message leads to a clue, and the more clues they discover, the farther they travel down a treacherous path toward an ancient, guarded secret. Soon they are in a breathless race across the globe, running for their lives as a dangerous shadow organization chases them around every corner. Their only hope of saving themselves-and the world that they know-is to find twelve magical relics from a hidden past that will unlock the Copernicus Legacy.

My Thoughts
The Forbidden Stone is the first book in what is going to be an extensive journey over the next four years, covering six novels and six novellas for each of the novels.  I went and took a look at the blog site for this series and readers have an opportunity to enter for a chance to win a trip to New York to participate in your own relic hunt, based on the events in the first book.  There are a few other extras on the site including teaching ideas if you're a teacher and wish to introduce this to your students in the classroom, a game, and a character guide.  I spent quite a bit of time looking up information on this site.

I am more familiar with Tony Abbott's work in his series, The Secrets of Droon, which is more at the second and third grade levels, so it was nice to read something that was more at the Intermediate level from him.  And I have to say that The Forbidden Stone grabbed my attention right away, to the point where I had to force myself to put it down and go do bed.  The short chapters easily sucked a reader right into the action, and I was always "One chapter more" until I realized I had read another fifty pages and really needed to put it down.   Mr. Abbott also has a way of writing that captures your attention and imagination and you just want to keep on reading to find out what happens next.  The plot had a lot of twists and turns, even if slightly predictable to an older reader, and you never really had a chance to catch your breath until the end.  My son is currently reading it at the moment and he is finding it just as action-packed as I did, to the point where he wants to read through dinner.  I'll be curious to know his take with regards to the predictability (he's thirteen) when he's finished.

I thought the characters were delightful and fun for such a novel.  Darrell made me laugh as he was always looking for spies and such around him and his constant obsession was fun to watch.  I do have to hand it to him though, as he was right more than once in this novel as some of the other characters were somewhat naive about being chased and the use of electronics out there. Darrell was hilarious in Berlin as he had this idea that the whole spy network originated in Germany because of the Berlin Wall - such fun.  The banter between them all was interesting and I enjoyed it immensely.  Lily should have shut off that tablet days earlier though, and I wondered how long it would take before someone took it away from her. And where did she find that never ending battery as my own tablet would never have lasted that long.  Amazing!! 
My only concern would be the level of knowledge a reader should already have about Copernicus and Ptolemy, and while the author does a credible job of explaining these historical figures to readers, it is still done in riddles and clues, and I know my own son was confused over certain concepts that I needed to explain to him.  I had already read a couple of biographies on Copernicus and Ptolemy, so I came into these novels with a rather high level of knowledge so my take on this is quite skewed. However, what it did do was open up some interesting discussions over the dinner table that were quite enjoyable so if reading continues to lead to that, I am all for it.  My son had never heard of Copernicus until this novel, and he is finding the research quite fascinating.  But would all readers be the same?  Not sure. 

The Forbidden Stone was an enjoyable start to a new series by an author I have long admired for his children's series.  It was action-packed, full of suspense, had the secrets and riddles and clues that I love, was fun, and the characters were interesting.  There is a lot of room to grow and develop and I am really curious as to what happens next, especially as the author left off this book with quite an ending.  I am definitely looking forward to the release of book 2, The Serpent's Curse, coming in October 2014.