The Red Hot Fix by T. E. Woods

Red Hot FixThe Red Hot Fix by T. E. Woods

Description from Goodreads

In the white-knuckle follow-up to her explosive debut novel, The Fixer, T. E. Woods returns with another tense, intricate thriller.
 
What do you say, Morton Grant, Chief of Detectives? You got what it takes to find me? Show me a move. . . . Or I’ll have to show you one of mine.

A little more than a year after the Fixer killings, Detective Mort Grant of the Seattle P.D. once again has his hands full. In the last four months, seven men have been murdered in seedy pay-by-the-hour motels: first strangled, then tied with rope and set on a bed of crushed mothballs, with a red lipstick kiss planted on their foreheads. Speculation abounds that the killer is a prostitute who’s turning her tricks into dead men. The press has taken to calling her “Trixie.”

As Mort follows scant leads in the case, he can’t help but feel continued guilt over his involvement with the Fixer. Though the public holds her up as a folk hero, a vigilante who seeks justice when the system fails, Mort cannot shake the fact that serious crimes have been committed. And though legend says she has vanished, Mort knows exactly where the Fixer is—and he’s conspiring to keep her hidden.

As Trixie strikes again, Mort suddenly finds himself and his family in the crosshairs. Because these new murders are not random, and their perpetrator is hell-bent on luring Mort into a sick and twisted game. If he’s not careful, he’s going to need Fixing.

Praise for The Fixer
 
“Pitch-perfect . . . solid characters, unpredictable twists and excellent plotting; a must-read for those who enjoy crime fiction.”Kirkus Reviews

I gave this book four stars out of five

My thoughts:

This was an easy book to read, and I really enjoyed it. I thought that it was very well written. I enjoy this author’s work. As the second book in a series it provided an excellent follow up to the author’s debut novel, ‘The Fixer’. This book was a definite page turner.

The plot was fast paced and crammed full of suspense, keeping me interested and invested right to the end. There were many clever and inventive twists and turns in the plot that kept me thinking the whole time, including false leads that took you off in the wrong direction.

The story continued the connection between Mort and Lydia, which had been solidified in the previous book. I enjoyed seeing how each of them attempted to develop relationships with prospective partners, given our knowledge of the secrets they were keeping, and the things that had happened in their pasts.

It was fascinating to see how the fixer had grown as a person and the creative manner in which she dealt with the situation that she found herself in. The themes were definitely of an adult nature, but were not treated in a tacky way. It seemed like this was almost two stories in one, with the strength of the main subplot.

The characters were very interesting and well established. They were developed further in this book, with a greater amount of back story revealed, especially regarding Mort and his past. It was also good to see that the members of Mort’s team, introduced in the first book were given larger roles to play in this one. We were able to get to know those characters that we had only a passing familiarity with.

The conclusion was surprising, with a great twist. I would recommend this book to thriller fans, that like a heavy dose of suspense and a plot that is not straightforward to unravel. Although the book can be read in its own right, I think it is beneficial to have read the first book in the series too.

This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by Netgalley and the publisher.

American Past Time by Len Joy – Blog Tour part 2

Part two of today’s Len Joy extravaganza is my brief review of ‘American Past Time’.

American Past TimeAmerican Past Time by Len Joy

Description from Goodreads

September 1953. Dancer Stonemason is three days away from his major league debut with the St. Louis Cardinals. With his wife and son cheering him on, he pitches the greatest game of his life. And then he loses everything.

Told against the backdrop of America’s postwar challenges from Little Rock to the Bay of Pigs to Viet Nam, AMERICAN PAST TIME is the story of what happens to a man and his family after the cheering stops.

I gave this book five stars out of five

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book. I thought that it was extremely well written and I found the story fascinating.

For me, it was the story of a chance at future success squandered, or rather, certainly in the eyes of the protagonist, traded, for the sake of the perfect game.

The story had a good pace to it, and I liked how each part concentrated on the viewpoint of different members of the family. I enjoyed how it was possible to relate to these differing standpoints and opinions, yet still understand why each of them acted as they did.

The characters were all well rounded and very believable. It was easy to identify with the Stonemason family, and invest in their lives. Dancer Stonemason in particular, was an interesting character. I was fascinated by his growth as a person, and how he gave up his dreams for what he thought was the good of his family. Not that this necessarily worked out as he expected.

I also liked how the family ultimately grew and developed as a unit, whether they were together in the same location or not. It was nice to see how the relationship between Dancer and his son, came full circle in the end.

The story was set against a backdrop of a number of major events in American history, such as the moon landing, the Vietnam war, the assassination of Kennedy, etc.

This was most definitely one of those books that I did not want to end. I found myself always wanting to know what happened next to the characters. I would have been happy had the book been double the length.

I would recommend this book to, well, just about anyone really. I enjoyed this immensely.

This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by JKS Communications.

MI29 – Mouseweb International to the Rescue by S.J. Tozer

MI29 Mouseweb International to the RescueMI29 – Mouseweb International to the Rescue by S.J. Tozer

Description from Goodreads

Did you know that we humans are monitored by Mouseweb International, a worldwide network of mice working undercover to lend a paw whenever we need it most?

I gave this book four stars out of five

My thoughts:

This was such a fun book to read. It is pretty short, and obviously written for younger readers.

This would be a great book to read with the children. What children wouldn’t enjoy a story about intelligent, talking animals, spies, and a battle of wits between the good, kind-hearted mice and the mean, evil rats?

I really enjoyed the way that the mice had taken human technology and miniaturised it for mouse use, and how they had a secret intelligence organisation that worked in unison with a number of human agencies for the betterment of all.

There were many wonderful illustrations by Rosy Salaman, my favourite being the ones of the mice attending a fancy dress party.

I would recommend this book as something to read with younger children, and for older children in the six to nine year age range to read themselves. Frankly I think anyone, of any age, would enjoy it. I certainly did.

This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by Netgalley and the publisher.

No Quarter Asked by Janet Dailey

No Quarter AskedNo Quarter Asked by Janet Dailey


Description from Goodreads

Stacy needed time to adjust

Stacy’s world collapsed with the death of her father. She had to sort herself out; decide what she wanted to do with her life.

The secluded cabin in a Texas valley seemed a perfect place to think. But when Stacy met the arrogant rancher, Cord Harris, all her hopes of peace and serenity vanished. Especially when Cord said, “Go back to the city, where you belong.”

It was exactly the wrong thing to say to Stacy. It made her fighting mad–and determined to stay!

I gave this book three and a half stars out of five

My thoughts:

I quite enjoyed this book as a light, easy to read romance, that was reasonably short and quick to read.

I found that the story was a little predictable in its format and structure and it was obvious from the beginning, how things were going to end. This made the story feel rather formulaic, passing through the usual features present in a romance.

I liked how the initial ill feeling between Stacy and Cord, and their instant dislike of one another, advanced as the story progressed, right up until the final conclusion of the book.

The tension and antagonism between Stacy and Cord was well handled, although given the western theme I found it difficult to grasp all of the nuances of the interactions between them. It was interesting seeing the difference between the accepted manner in which a rancher would behave towards a woman, and the way a city woman would expect to be treated by a man.

I liked the character development, which I thought was very good, with just enough back story provided to allow mixed signals and confusion to creep in to their burgeoning relationship. It was fascinating to see how both of the main characters grew through the course of the book, adapting their views and beliefs.

Overall I enjoyed many aspects of this book and would recommend it to anyone wanting a quick, easy read, that does not require too much interpretation.

This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by Netgalley and the publisher, Open Road Media, as part of the Retro Reads Program.

The Paris Lawyer by Sylvie Granotier

The Paris LawyerThe Paris Lawyer by Sylvie Granotier

 
Description from Goodreads

As a child, Catherine Monsigny was the only witness to her mother’s death. 20 years later as an ambitious attorney in contemporary Paris, she catches a professional break when her boss assigns her to major felony case in rural France. An immigrant stands accused of poisoning her husband, but her secrets are not the only ones hidden in the scenic rolling hills of Creuse. While preparing the defense, Catherine is reunited with images of own past and a high-intensity search for two murderers ensues. Who can she believe? And what will Catherine do with her past should she discover it?

I gave this book four stars out of five

My thoughts:

I quite enjoyed this book. It was a relatively quick and easy read.

I liked the protagonist and found the story interesting. The character development and the back stories of the major players were well handled, with sufficient detail retained to leave some uncertainty about characters motives. I liked the fact that the author led me off in one direction and had me convinced early on of how the story would end, only to find that I was wrong in my assumptions.

One thing that I did not like about this book were the numerous dream sequences, or half remembered events from the past. I had trouble telling sometimes which parts were actually happening, which were real, and which harked back to times gone by.

There was a reasonable pace to the book, although I did find that the dream sequences interrupted progress at times.

I thought that the way the main story and primary sub plot were treated was excellent. I liked how they weaved in and out and took over precedence from one other, with what I had considered sub plot ultimately becoming the main thrust of the novel for me.

The conclusion to the story was surprising and I loved that I had not seen it coming too early on.

I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys an easy to read thriller, mixed with a little romance. A clever plot, well executed. A most enjoyable read.

This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by Netgalley and the publisher.

Peach Blossom Pavilion by Mingmei Yip

peach blossom pavilionPeach Blossom Pavilion by Mingmei Yip

Description from Goodreads

A seductive and evocative debut that opens the doors on life as a Chinese courtesan in the Peach Blossom Pavilion…

Behind the doors of the pavilion, a world of sensuality and intrigue awaits…

Xiang Xiang’s life as an innocent girl is about to change beyond recognition.

Falsely accused of murder, Xiang Xiang’s father is executed, and her mother forced into a Buddhist nunnery. Xiang Xiang, alone and friendless at thirteen years old, is tricked into entering the Peach Blossom Pavilion, where she is given the name Bao Lan – Precious Orchid.

There she is trained in the fine arts of womanhood, studying music, literature, painting, and more importantly, the art of seduction and pleasuring men; and becomes one of China’s most successful courtesans.

However, Precious Orchid is determined to avenge her parents and sets out on a journey that includes passion, adventure, danger, fame, and finally, her chance to achieve the justice she has sought so long.

An enchanting tale of opulence and desire, perfect for fans of Anchee Min and Memoirs of a Geisha.

I gave this book five stars out of five

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book. It was a memoir, a journey through life, a story about overcoming misfortune and rising above it.

The writing was of a very high standard and I enjoyed reading about China in this period and experiencing the sights and sounds of the different regions. The many descriptive passages of the settings were wonderfully vivid and expressive. The culture of this world was riveting.

There are no doubt many that will draw numerous parallels between Peach Blossom Pavilion and Arthur Golden’s, ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’, but I feel that doing this would be doing a disservice to oneself. Apart from the setting and the general subject of the book, these were very different stories.

The inner workings of the many Pavilions’ and the lives of the prostitutes that worked there were illuminating.

I quickly became invested in the protagonist Xiang Xiang, and her relationship with Pearl was interesting. The development of the main characters, and the building of fascinating and involved backstories, that were later relied upon as motivation for future events, was cleverly expounded. I liked the way that Xiang Xiang grew and developed into a successful prostitute, but also her inner strength and drive to avenge the wrongs done her family, and ultimately her growth as a woman.

It was interesting to unravel the continued involvement, through coincidence, that the man that had started the series of events that resulted in Xiang Xiang ending up in the prostitution house, had in her life.

I found this an easy book to get lost in. It was well paced, with the story moving along rapidly.

It was interesting to see the Xiang Xiang of the present, and how different her life had been in the period she was remembering and relating.

I would most certainly recommend this as an enjoyable read. Despite the differences between this and ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’, I believe that both books are cut from a similar cloth, and if you enjoyed Arthur Golden’s novel, then you will most certainly enjoy this extremely well written and remarkably executed story, by Mingmei Yip.

This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by Netgalley and the publisher.

The Antigone Poems by Marie Slight and Terrence Tasker

The Antigone PoemsThe Antigone Poems by Marie Slight and Terrence Tasker

Description from Goodreads

Passionate, brutal, and infused with extraordinary lyricism, The Antigone Poems provides a special expedition into the depths of the ancient Sophocles tragedy. The work’s obsessive, ritualistic and ultimately mysterious force brings into sharp focus the heroic, tragic figure at the center of the primordial compact between gods and humans. The work, a collaboration between poet, Marie Slaight and artist, Terrence Tasker, was created in the 1970’s, while the artist were living in Montreal and Toronto.

I gave this book five stars out of five

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book immensely. I am a keen reader of poetry of all kinds.

This book was a combination of extremely powerful poetry by Marie Slaight, accompanied by incredibly haunting artwork from Terrence Tasker. The combination is a work of epic proportions.

The poetry was very dark and evocative, in keeping with the theme of Sophocles original tragedy, Antigone. This is a beautifully presented book, and will keep readers coming back to it again and again, getting something extra from it on each new reading.

I would certainly recommend this to anyone interested in poetry and in particular in a different slant on Sophocles work.
This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by Netgalley and the publisher.

Summer on the Moon by Adrian Fogelin

Summer on the MoonSummer on the Moon by Adrian Fogelin

Description from Goodreads

It is the beginning of summer vacation. Socko and his best friend Damien entertain themselves playing with the decrepit old elevator in their tenement or throwing things off the roof, taking special care to avoid the local Tarantula gang and its leader, Rapp.

I gave this book four stars out of five

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick, easy read, perfect for secondary school age children, but with enough interest for those of us that are a little older, but still young at heart.

This was a story of change and escape. Escape to a better standard of living, from a world in which fear and worry were the dominant factors in the life of the protagonist, a life of poverty, to one in which he was introduced to a different world, a world in which he felt part of a family. It was about the struggle to move on and leave behind his best friend, knowing that his friend’s life would begin to landslide as a result. It was a story of loyalty between friends, under difficult circumstances.

The story was also about learning to deal with new situations and people. Our protagonist learned how to connect with people from a different generation and also about the joys, and confusions, of first love.

I really liked the protagonist, Socko, named for the Greek philosopher, Socrates. What a cool name. The characters the author created seemed very real and I enjoyed the relationships that Socko had with his best friend Damien, and then with Livvy. How the friendship, and love, blossomed between Socko and Livvy was fun to see, as was the lack of realisation that Socko had about it.

Livvy was also undergoing a pivotal life change, although hers was in the opposite direction to that of Socko, coming from a far more privileged background. The changes that both were experiencing eventually brought them together, each starting from opposite ends of the spectrum.

I really liked this story and would certainly recommend it to others. It had a message of hope, that by helping others, you would ultimately be rewarded. It was a book about growth and change, and that bad people receive their just desserts.

This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by Netgalley and the publisher.

If It Rains Pancakes by Brian P. Cleary

If it rains pancakesIf It Rains Pancakes by Brian P. Cleary

Description from Goodreads

Brian P. Cleary explains and demonstrates how to write two types of ancient Japanese poetry: haiku and lanterns. Short introductions outline the basic rules of each form, and the poems range from hilarious to touching, with lighthearted illustrations adding to the books appeal.

I gave this book four stars out of five

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed reading this short taster of the haiku and lantern poetic forms of ancient Japan. It is a great way for children to be introduced to these forms, and to poetry in general.

Illustrated throughout with fun pictures by Andy Rowland, the images help bring the poems to life for children and grab their attention.

The simple and relevant poems will be fun and interesting to children and adults alike. Children will be able to relate easily with the content and topic of the poems. The book is reasonably short and so can be read with them in one sitting, or maybe two, splitting the sessions between the two poetic forms.

I would recommend this book as an enjoyable and informative read to share with your children. Learning whilst having fun is always the best way.

This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by Netgalley and the publisher.

The Kill by Emile Zola

The Kill by Emile Zola

Description from Goodreads

The Kill (La Curée) is the second volume in Zola’s great cycle of twenty novels, Les Rougon-Macquart, and the first to establish Paris – the capital of modernity – as the centre of Zola’s narrative world. Conceived as a representation of the uncontrollable ‘appetites’ unleashed by the Second Empire (1852-70) and the transformation of the city by Baron Haussmann, the novel combines into a single, powerful vision the twin themes of lust for money and lust for pleasure. The all-pervading promiscuity of the new Paris is reflected in the dissolute and frenetic lives of an unscrupulous property speculator, Saccard, his neurotic wife Renée, and her dandified lover, Saccard’s son Maxime.

I gave this book four stars out of five

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book a great deal. This is the second part of the infamous Rougon-Macquart cycle of twenty volumes by Emile Zola, and follows on from ‘The Fortune of the Rougons’.

For a relatively short book of 260 pages this took me an inordinate amount of time to read. I kind of lost my way at the midpoint and didn’t get back to it for a few months. That is not to suggest that this was the fault of the book though. I gave this book four stars out of five despite the high quality, since I know that other books in this cycle are even better.

The writing was technically very proficient, as one might expect, and the descriptive passages evocative of everything one imagines of Paris of this period.

It was an interesting insight into the influence of Haussmann on the architecture of, and ultimately, the face of the future Paris.

The power of this book, I believe, is the authors ability to bring to life the hedonistic lifestyle followed by many Parisians, and the debauchery that prevailed at the time. He combined this with an exploration of the underbelly of Paris and the corruption associated with the development and rebuilding of the city.

I enjoyed the character development, which was superb, along with the relationships of Renee with her husband, Sacard and his son, her lover, Maxime. The characters were interesting and fully formed. I liked the numerous small links to the family history, as this both tied the story in with the previous volume and set the stage for future volumes.

I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Paris of this period, due to the dearth of information that can be gleaned from it, or those interested in classic French literature. It was a fantastic account of the period, and an excellent read.