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2017 Reading Challenge

Jill Elizabeth has read 2 books toward her goal of 150 books.
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Book Review: Lockheed Elite by Tyler Wandschneider

“Coming out on top never happens the way you plan.”

A few weeks ago, I introduced you to Tyler Wandschneider, author of Lockheed Elite, the first in a new sci fi series about a team of salvagers scouring the universe for treasure, righting the occasional wrong, and trying to stay out of the way of the Galactic Alliance… Today, I’m pleased to bring you my review of this first-in-series book, a rip-roaring action tale full of deception, betrayal, and a superb cast of characters – all of which I thoroughly enjoyed.

The story opens with an interview – the best salvage crew in the galaxy has an opening, and their interviewee brings more to the table than anyone (her included) could have guessed. The unfolding story is full of intrigue, theft, slavery, secrets, double-dealing, triple-dealing, and more cool interstellar gadgets than your imagination could conceive. Fortunately for all of us, Wandschneider’s imagination takes care of our shortcomings in this regard, and the resulting tale is a shifting funhouse mirror display of honor among thieves, too-good-to-be-true’s, and a handful of good old-fashioned smackdowns.

The characters are great, a perfect melding of the familiar (The Gentle Giant, The Snarky Woman with Something to Prove, The Tough Guys who Inevitably Implode, The Anti-Hero) with a handful of twists that spin the familiar on its head (I can’t explain those without giving spoilers, but trust me) and keep things interesting throughout. The plot is well paced, with plenty of rough and tumble action interspersed with tidbits of social commentary, an unexpected romance (or two), and enough cautious optimism peppered with snarky one-liners to bring a smile to even the most battle-hardened intergallactic space-veteran’s heart.

This was a fun, easy read. The writing is as engaging as the author himself – which you no doubt know after reading his guest post (and if you didn’t before, definitely do now). This is a promising beginning to a new series, and I for one look forward to seeing where Anders and his team head next…

Guest Post: The Real Lady Spies by Ellen Butler

Last week, I shared my review of the delightful spy story, The Brass Compass. This week, I’m pleased to bring you a guest post from the author, Ellen Butler, in which she enlightens us about the origins of her fictional character Lily Saint James. Enjoy!

The Real Lady Spies
by Ellen Butler

Many people have asked if Lily Saint James is a fictional character. Indeed, she is however, her character is inspired by the actions of real female spies from WWII. An amalgamation of three women formed the basis of her background and traits.
Continue reading Guest Post: The Real Lady Spies by Ellen Butler

Book Review: Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore

“Why don’t you leave her?” asked Milo.
Floyd digested this question for five full minutes.
“I’m trying to be mature about things,” he said at last. “I thought maybe we just needed time. Marriage is work.

“The problem with a barracuda,” said Milo, “isn’t that you aren’t being mature. The problem is that it’s a barracuda. If you don’t like being in the boat with it, one of you has to go.”

I really wanted to like this one… With clever, pithy lines about life and love like the one above (to illustrate the point, Milo actually pulls a barracuda into the boat, where it thrashes at Floyd’s feet – one of the BEST illustrated life lessons EVER in fiction!), how could I not be intrigued?? I was a little apprehensive, because Douglas Adams and Christopher Moore are hit-and-miss authors for me, and there were more than a few comparisons between those authors and Poore, but I was optimistic because of the subject matter. I’m fascinated by the concept of reincarnation and love when Death is a character – there are so many wonderful possibilities to explore in the complex relationship between man and Death… I was semi-turned off from the get-go though – the book opens with reference to death by shark, and I have a ridiculous life-long phobia about sharks, so I was battling the eight ball from the opening line. Unfortunately, things never really picked up for me after that… Continue reading Book Review: Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore

Book Review: Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

“His mind felt full of shattered ice and quicksand, all sharp edges and dull helpless sliding at once, poisoned with blue, drunk with it.”

This was a cool find, and not quite what I expected.

Dr. Greta Helsing (the family dropped the “van”) is in the family business. She serves as the go-to medical practitioner for the Things That Go Bump In The Night – she takes care of them and they, in turn, as we learn as the story develops, more than take care of her in return… When a new, unidentified, source starts attacking London’s TTGBITN, Dr. Helsing quickly steps in, hunting the hunters who are hunting her and her friends… Sound confusing? It’s really not – and the story development and cast of characters are more than original enough to keep you entertained, curious, and in suspense throughout the book.

Both Greta and her “monsters” are more human than you might expect in a book about supernatural characters. Continue reading Book Review: Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

Book Review: The Brass Compass by Ellen Butler

I love historical fiction, particularly when it covers an aspect of history that I’m not already familiar with – I love having the opportunity to learn something while being entertained, it adds an extra dimension to the story that I really enjoy. That said, there are certain periods of history that I tend to avoid in my historical fiction. There are timeframes and historical events, like the Holocaust or slavery and the Civil War, that I find difficult to enjoy because of their underlying impact on humanity. I read fiction to be transported into the world of the story; I don’t generally want to be transported to a place of horror and despair. I will read non-fiction about these eras and events, because I don’t expect the same things from non-fiction. I like being generally well-informed, and to consider myself so, I feel compelled to read non-fiction across the spectrum of human emotion, because I firmly believe that ignoring the distasteful elements of history makes us subject to the risk of allowing them to be forgotten or mitigated in our memories, and thus to be repeated. So it will come as a surprise to you (it did to me!) that I no only read Ellen Butler’s novel of female spies in Nazi-occupied Germany but that I so thoroughly enjoyed it.
Continue reading Book Review: The Brass Compass by Ellen Butler

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