Tuesday, January 16, 2018

First Paragraph/Teaser Tuesday: Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posted the first paragraph of a book she is reading or planning to read. In 2018, Vicki from I'd Rather Be at the Beach is taking over this meme.

Here's mine:
There are a thousand shades of brown.

My scooter skimmed about the surface so fast the ground blurred, kicking up a wake of dust that hazed from the color of dried blood to beige, depending on the angle of the light. Ahead, rust-colored hills made chocolate-colored shadows. The plains before the hills were tan, but in a few hours they'd be vivid, blush-colored, beautiful. Right now, the sun was low, a spike of light rising from the rocky horizon in the early morning. The sky above was pale cinnamon.
 
Link up here. It is very easy to play along:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.
Here's mine:
He seemed to expect me to respond to all that. Maybe I should have told him I wanted to be left alone after all. "I didn't think much about Earth at all until a couple of weeks ago. I have no idea what it's like."

"But aren't you excited?"

Was everyone at Galileo Academy going to be like this? "Going to Earth wasn't my idea."
This week I am reading Martians Abroad by Carrie Vaughn from my TBR pile. Here is the description from Amazon:
Well-known for her bestselling series Kitty Norville, Carrie Vaughn moves to science fiction with Martians Abroad, a novel with great crossover appeal. Polly Newton has one single-minded dream, to be a starship pilot and travel the galaxy. Her mother, the Director of the Mars Colony, derails Polly's plans when she sends Polly and her genius twin brother, Charles, to Galileo Academy on Earth.

Homesick and cut off from her plans for her future, Polly cannot seem to fit into life on Earth. Strange, unexplained, dangerous coincidences centered on their high-profile classmates begin piling up. Charles may be right―there's more going on than would appear, and the stakes are high. With the help of Charles, Polly is determined to find the truth, no matter the cost.

    Monday, January 15, 2018

    It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Jan. 15, 2018)

    It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

    It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

    I will be combining my YA and adult reading and purchases on this one weekly roundup. YA and middle grade reviews will still be posted on  Ms. Martin Teaches Media - my other blog.

    Other Than Reading...

    This was an interesting weather week. It warmed up midweek and rained. Then it snowed but only 3 inches which fell on top of a sheet of ice. Now, on Saturday morning, we are back in the deep freeze. My brother informed me that it was -17 degrees Fahrenheit when he got up and -16 when he went to work at 9 AM. I don't feel any need to leave the house to experience it myself. The forecast is for a high of 1 degree but with the wind it will feel substantially colder. Tomorrow they are predicting 8 degrees and snow showers. Our next warm up, when they are predicting 15 degrees, won't be until Wednesday.

    I should be gathering information for my taxes but am still waiting for my W2 from the school district and statements from my investments. I'm also not eager to sort through years of paper looking for home improvements that were made on the Locust Street house so that I can lower the taxes on the money I received from the sale. I know the papers exist because my brother never throws anything away but he isn't particularly organized and most papers are still in boxes we moved from Locust Street and never unpacked. I know I have until April but I want to get my taxes done so they aren't hanging over my head like an anvil.

    Meanwhile, I am spending a lot of time reading and have made a pretty large dent in the pile of books that are releasing in February. This week looks like it will be YA heavy since last week I concentrated on adult books.

    Read Last Week
    • No One Can Know by Lucy Kerr - 2nd Stillwater General Mystery. My review will be posted on Feb. 12.
    • Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre - YA Epic Science Fiction and my favorite book of the week. My review will be posted on Feb. 11.
    • Something to Howl About by Christine Warren - prequel novella to her new Alphaville urban fantasy series. My review has been posted on Amazon, GoodReads, and LibraryThing.
    Currently
    Murder in Bloomsbury by D. M. Quincy is the second in the Atlas Catesby historical mystery series.

    Next Week
    • A Call to Arms by David Weber, Timothy Zahn and Tom Pope has been on TBR mountain since Oct. 6, 2015. I pulled it off and put it on the calendar because I just got the 3rd book in the series for review. 
    • Little Girl Gone by Gerry Schmitt has been on TBR mountain since Sept. 26, 2017.
    • Ink, Iron, and Glass by Gwendolyn Clare (Feb. 20) - YA review book from Macmillan
    • Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda (Feb. 20) - YA review book from Macmillan
    • Fire and Bone by Rachel A. Marks (Feb. 20) - YA review book from NetGalley
    • The Tombs by Deborah Schaumberg (Feb. 20) - YA review book from Edelweiss
    Reviews Posted

    On Inside of a Dog:
    On Ms. Martin Teaches Media:
    Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

    Free:

    Bought:

    Review:
    What was your week like?

    Saturday, January 13, 2018

    ARC Review: A Merciful Secret by Kendra Elliot

    A Merciful Secret
    Author: Kendra Elliot
    Series: Mercy Kilpatrick (Book 3)
    Publication: Montlake Romance (January 16, 2018)

    Description: A pair of ritual murders could expose Mercy Kilpatrick to something terrifying: her own past…

    Raised off the grid by survivalists, Mercy Kilpatrick believed in no greater safeguard than the backwoods of Oregon. Unforgiven by her father for abandoning the fold for the FBI, Mercy still holds to her past convictions. They’re in her blood. They’re her secrets—as guarded as her private survival retreat hidden away in the foothills.

    In a cabin near her hideaway, Mercy encounters a young girl whose grandmother is dying from multiple knife wounds. Hundreds of miles away, a body is discovered slashed to death in a similar way. The victims—a city judge and an old woman living in the woods—couldn’t be more different. With the help of police chief Truman Daly, Mercy must find the killer before the body count rises. Mercy knows that the past has an edge on her. So does her family. How can she keep her secrets now…when they’re the only things that can save her?

    My Thoughts: Mercy Kilpatrick is on her way back from checking on her wilderness cabin when she almost runs down a girl. Morrigan is desperately searching for someone to help her grandmother. When Mercy gets to their isolated home, she find the grandmother dying after a brutal knife attack. Being out of cellphone range she takes Morrigan and drives to somewhere she can get reception before going back and waiting for the police. Morrigan's mother Salome is away from home and can't be contacted.

    Meanwhile, boyfriend and Chief of Police Truman Daly is getting worried about Mercy because she wasn't planning to be gone all night. He goes off to try to track her down and discovers her at the crime scene where she's being interviewed by the police.

    When Mercy learns that Oliva Sabin's death is very similar to the death of Judge Malcolm Lake which happened nearly the same time in Portland, the FBI takes over jurisdiction for the investigation of both deaths. Mercy can't be directly involved but her good friend Ava is put in charge. Both she and Truman are interested in the investigation but neither are legally involved. That doesn't stop either of them from doing what they can to investigate.

    Since Olivia and her daughter Salome are both considered to be witches by many in the community of Eagle's Nest, it is thought that there might be some connection there. But that doesn't explain the judge. Although the judge did live in Bend for a while years ago and a connection is found between him and Olivia which could explain why she has been hiding in the woods for many years.

    This story was a fast-paced mystery with flashbacks to a time when Salome was a teenager and knew both Truman and Judge Lake's son Christian. It also has some sections from Salome's point of view. I am especially fond of Mercy who has a unique background. She was raised by preppers and, although she has left the group, she is still doing her own prepping in case the world as we know it falls apart. Her supplies and her isolated cabin give her a feeling of security. She is also finding a new sense of security with her niece and with Truman that is causing her to open herself up more than she has in years.

    This was a great story with plenty of action and excitement as well as being the story of two people who are committing themselves to each other.

    Favorite Quote:
    The instant love she'd felt for Kaylie had emboldened her to take that plunge with Truman. Her heart had easily expanded to make room for her niece and then expanded again as she repaired fences with her formerly estranged family. Being deliberately cut off from her family had left her with an empty heart for years, but since she'd returned to Eagle's Nest, she suddenly had a small crowd to care for.

    It hadn't weakened her foundation. She was stronger.
    I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

    Friday, January 12, 2018

    Friday Memes: A Merciful Secret by Kendra Elliot

    Happy Friday everybody!
    Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City ReaderThe Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

    Beginning:
    Mercy thought it was a deer.

    But it was a girl who burst out of the brush along the dark road and into the headlight beams of her SUV. She stomped on the brakes and jerked the steering wheel to the right. Spinning sideways, her vehicle shuddered as her tires bounced along the snow-packed ruts of the road's shoulder. It rocked to a stop and she clung to the wheel, gulping for breath.
    Friday 56:
    "Let's sit down," Christian suggested and pulled out a bar stool at the island for Mercy.

    She sat and pulled out a small notebook. Gabriel slowly took a seat, giving her his attention.

    My, won't this be fun.
    This week I am reading A Merciful Secret by Kendra Elliot. I got this eARC from NetGalley. It is the third in the Mercy Kilpatrick series. Here is the description from Amazon:
    A pair of ritual murders could expose Mercy Kilpatrick to something terrifying: her own past…

    Raised off the grid by survivalists, Mercy Kilpatrick believed in no greater safeguard than the backwoods of Oregon. Unforgiven by her father for abandoning the fold for the FBI, Mercy still holds to her past convictions. They’re in her blood. They’re her secrets—as guarded as her private survival retreat hidden away in the foothills.

    In a cabin near her hideaway, Mercy encounters a young girl whose grandmother is dying from multiple knife wounds. Hundreds of miles away, a body is discovered slashed to death in a similar way. The victims—a city judge and an old woman living in the woods—couldn’t be more different. With the help of police chief Truman Daly, Mercy must find the killer before the body count rises. Mercy knows that the past has an edge on her. So does her family. How can she keep her secrets now…when they’re the only things that can save her?

    Thursday, January 11, 2018

    ARC Review: A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn

    A Treacherous Curse
    Author: Deanna Raybourn
    Series: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery (Book 3)
    Publication: Berkley (January 16, 2018)

    Description: Members of an Egyptian expedition fall victim to an ancient mummy’s curse in this thrilling Veronica Speedwell novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries.

    London, 1888. As colorful and unfettered as the butterflies she collects, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell can’t resist the allure of an exotic mystery—particularly one involving her enigmatic colleague, Stoker. His former expedition partner has vanished from an archaeological dig with a priceless diadem unearthed from the newly discovered tomb of an Egyptian princess. This disappearance is just the latest in a string of unfortunate events that have plagued the controversial expedition, and rumors abound that the curse of the vengeful princess has been unleashed as the shadowy figure of Anubis himself stalks the streets of London.

    But the perils of an ancient curse are not the only challenges Veronica must face as sordid details and malevolent enemies emerge from Stoker’s past. Caught in a tangle of conspiracies and threats—and thrust into the public eye by an enterprising new foe—Veronica must separate facts from fantasy to unravel a web of duplicity that threatens to cost Stoker everything...

    My Thoughts: Veronica Speedwell and her partner Revelstoke Templeton-Vane (Stoker) have another mystery to solve. This one hits home for Stoker because it involves the ex-wife who vilified him after leaving him for dead in the Amazon and the man she married who used to be Stoker's best friend.

    It's 1888 and all things Egyptian are all the rage. When the ex-best friend, who was working as a photographer for an excavation, disappears after apparently stealing a priceless crown discovered in the dig, Stoker and Veronica need to find him before scandal again visits Stoker. Since Veronica is an illegitimate daughter of the Prince of Wales, scandal affecting Stoker will spill over onto her and greatly displease the Royal Family.

    Stoker needs to confront the ex-wife who ruined his life and for whom he has very conflicted feelings. Of course, they also need to interview the man who was in charge of the dig, his Anglo-Egyptian wife, his spoiled daughter, his handsome assistant and the American millionaire and his son who used to be partners with the man in charge of the dig.

    Meanwhile, the press is focusing on the possibility that that whole expedition was cursed since there have been deaths associated with it and Anubis (or someone posing as him) is appearing around London to keep the idea of the curse alive.

    This was a great story. Veronica is such an intriguing character. She would be an original no matter what time period she lived in. She is particularly out of sync with Victorian womanhood. She is smart, brave, uninterested in public opinion, blunt, practical, and intrepid. I love her relationship with Stoker.

    The story is filled with adventure from balloon flights to chasing miscreants through London's sewers and escaping burning buildings. Fans of historical mysteries will love getting to know Veronica and Stoker.

    Favorite Quote:
    I had made no secret of my perfectly sensible approach to relationships between the sexes -- namely that marriage was a ridiculously outmoded institution and that sexual exercise was both health-giving and revivifying to the spirits. In the interest of respectability, I never indulged whilst in England, preferring to satisfy my urges during my trips abroad, a discreet and wholly efficient arrangement.
    I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

    Wednesday, January 10, 2018

    ARC Review: What Doesn't Kill You by Aimee Hix

    What Doesn't Kill You
    Author: Aimee Hix
    Series: A Willa Pennington, PI Mystery
    Publication: Midnight Ink (January 8, 2018)

    Description: A favor for a friend turns into a murder investigation, drawing apprentice PI Willa Pennington into a labyrinth of lies and deception in the shadows of Washington, D.C.

    Willa Pennington thought that becoming a PI would be better than being a cop. She thought she’d never have to make another death notification or don a bulletproof vest again. She thought she could move past the pain of losing her best friend. She thought she’d be safe.

    But she couldn’t have been more wrong.

    Now, agreeing to do a simple favor has brought her to a dead body, a missing person, and a battle of wits with an old friend who has dangerous secrets. If Willa can keep her focus, she could solve the murder, find the missing girl, and figure out if the person she’s trusted with her life is the one trying to end it.

    My Thoughts: Willa Pennington has quit the police force and is apprenticing with her father to become a private investigator when a neighbor asks her to do a favor. The Horowitz's granddaughter Violet has gotten involved with an abusive boyfriend and the grandparents have asked Willa to go help her move out. However, Violet is missing and the abusive boyfriend Joe is there but dead after being shot twice in the chest.

    Willa's first goal is to prove that Violet had nothing to do with the death. But the case quickly spirals into far more dangerous territory as she investigates Joe who had some really creepy friends. One friend surprises her. Willa's childhood friend Seth seems to know Joe too.

    Willa and Seth have a complicated relationship. Willa and Seth's brother Michael were best friends until Michael's recent death in an IED attack. Michael had long since made Willa promise not to have anything to do with Seth when he realized that she had a crush on him. Willa is still regretting  hooking up with Seth after Michael's memorial service and now, after years of seeing him only at family gatherings, Seth is back and acting in a very suspicious way.

    Willa and Seth need to work together to solve Willa's case and Seth's since he is an undercover ATF agent dealing with locating some stolen guns. The danger keeps building as Willa gets closer to the case. There are at least two attempts on her life.

    I loved Willa. She is strong and smart and dealing with losing her best friend. She is in need of therapy and can't sleep. She has a very smart mouth that helps cover some of her grief. I loved her relationship with Seth. She wasn't going to stand to be the little woman who was put somewhere safe while the menfolk dealt with all the danger.

    This was an excellent first novel. I can't wait to read more about Willa in future novels.

    Favorite Quote:
    "I can't believe Joe's dead. He wasn't the best boyfriend but he really loved Violet."

    I wasn't the best judge of it but I assumed abuse was an automatic disqualifier from the title. As for love, the bruises negated that too. Sure, that was a matter of opinion but it was a pretty widely shared one.
    I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

    Tuesday, January 9, 2018

    ARC Review: Deadly Summer by Denise Grover Swank

    Deadly Summer
    Author: Denise Grover Swank
    Series: Darling Investigations (Book 1)
    Publication: Montlake Romance (January 9, 2018)

    Description: New York Times bestselling author Denise Grover Swank gives a former TV star one more shot at fame—and it proves to be a killer comeback…

    Ten years ago, Summer Butler was television’s most popular teenage sleuth. Since then, she’s hit—what gossip sites just love to call—the gutter. Nearly bankrupt, betrayed, estranged from her greedy mother, and just about unemployable, she’s coaxed into that desperate haven for has-beens: reality TV.

    Winging it as a faux PI, she’ll solve off-the-cuff mysteries in her hometown of Sweet Briar, Alabama. For added drama, there’s police chief Luke Montgomery, inconveniently Summer’s first and only love.

    It’s when Summer stumbles upon a very real corpse that Darling Investigations takes an unexpected twist. The growing list of suspects is a big draw to viewers, but the reality is that Summer doesn’t know whom she can trust. Someone has written this killer new scene especially for her, and unless Summer gives the role everything she’s got, it could be her last…

    My Thoughts: Summer Butler is a television star whose star has fallen. When she was a teen she played a teenage private eye whose signature line was "Gotcha." But ten years later she can't find a job, her manager mother ran off with all her earnings, and she is about to lose her house and lose the family farm. Salvation might be at hand if she is willing to go the route of reality TV...

    Summer finds herself in her hometown of Sweet Briar, Alabama where her first boyfriend, and the only man she's ever loved, is now Chief of Police Luke Montgomery and the lady at the diner runs a Facebook page filled with local gossip. She is reunited with her cousin Dixie who is playing her assistant and the grandmother who disowned her when she couldn't leave her film site in Southeast Asia to attend the funerals of her grandfather, aunt and uncle when they died in a fire Dixie was convicted of causing.

    Summer arrives to find that most of the cases that she will be working on for the show have been set up by her incredibly ambitious producer. The cases range from a missing person to finding out which neighborhood pooch impregnated another. She spends most of the time on the case of the missing man. Otto Olson drinks and going missing for a few days isn't unusual but his sister is concerned because he has now been missing for a week.

    Summer, Dixie and their cameraman Bill are secretly trying to solve the case of Otto's disappearance even after the producer has made them move on to other cases. When they find Otto's body and the bodies of two other men, Summer knows that they might have bitten off a little more than they could chew. But despite Luke's orders to leave the investigation alone, Summer needs to prove herself.

    This story had small town politics, drug deals, stalkers, family drama, and a nice second chance romance. Summer is a great character and I look forward to reading more of her adventures.

    Favorite Quote:
    And yet I couldn't deny that I wanted to prove that I could solve a real case. I wasn't a real PI -- I was only playing one for TV, just like I'd done before -- but I couldn't deny that I liked questioning people for real. I liked looking for clues. My gut told me I could be good at this, that for the first time in my life I could do something that helped people and made fe feel good about myself. I wanted to really give investigating a chance.
    I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.