January 2022


The first book in the mystery series Cold Poker Gang.

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Publication year: 2014

Publisher: WMG Publishing

Format: ebook

Page count from Amazon: 182

In this series, a group of retired Las Vegas Police detectives gathers together once a week to play poker. They also have permission to look into cold cases and try to solve them.

Bayard Lott hosts the game. He’s a widow, living alone. He has an adult daughter Annie who is a very good poker player and rich. She also solves mysteries together with her boyfriend Doc Hill. Lott’s former partner and best friend Andor Williams is also a player in the weekly game. The newest player is Julia Rogers who retired from detective work because of a leg injury. In fact, Julia wants the gang to try to solve her husband’s murder.

Julia’s husband was murdered 22 years ago in Las Vegas. The case was never solved. Lott and Williams were the detectives on the case back then and it has always bothered them. This time, they’re far more experienced and can look at the case from a slightly different angle. Julia lived in Reno back then so Lott and Williams didn’t even interview her.

This is a complex case with a lot of surprises. That partly explains why Lott and Williams didn’t get anywhere with it the first time. Unfortunately, their work also seems sloppy. Julia gives the case a very personal angle, especially when they find disturbing things about her former husband and she’s thinking about how she can tell her daughter about it.

Lott and Julia are the two POV characters. They also quickly find each other attractive and start liking each other’s company more and more. Lott’s wife died three years ago and he’s still not over it while Julia never had a real relationship after her husband’s murder. The romance is a gentle one without the toxic romance tropes, so I liked it a lot. The mystery is also more like a cozy mystery, without blood.

This was an interesting case with very likable POV characters.

The first book in Silke’s Strike Force superhero series. It can be read as a stand-alone.

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Publication year: 2020

Format: ebook

Page count from Amazon: 303

Silke Butters is a supermodel. She’s also Indian-American so her way to the top wasn’t easy. She was often dismissed because she’s not blond and fair-skinned. But with determination, she clawed her way up and is now finally the face of Candy Girl Cosmetics

Now, she finally has what she wants. Then she starts getting strong headaches and seeing strange visions. One of them is of her father whom she hasn’t seen in many years. The next day, her adopted brother Joe comes to her and tells her that her father is dead.

Silke has mixed feelings, mostly regret. Her father was strongly against her modeling career so she hasn’t really talked with him after she left for New York when she was fifteen. Her father, Duke, was a soldier and after retiring from the Army, he started a private security firm, the Enforcer Factory, which is now doing extremely well. Joe is Duke’s partner in the firm. Joe also has secrets from Silke. For example, Joe himself is an Enhanced, person with superpowers.

And now, Silke has strange feelings and visions. Also, her attraction toward Joe is surfacing.

The ruthless, super-powered Sin Squad is targeting the Enforcer Factory. They’ve even infiltrated it. Now, they won’t stop for anything to get what they want.

This was a very interesting beginning to a series. It introduces us to a world where superpowered beings are mostly secret pawns in a larger game. Silke has no idea about them and the revelations in the book are a shock to her. It’s also her origin story; she’s learning about her powers and learning how to use them.

Silke is impulsive, but also very determined. Also, her life as a model needs her to be quite disciplined; she loves food but must restrict her diet. Also, Silke’s roots are from India which means that she’s no stranger to prejudice. However, these days she’s a famous model so she has to deal with her celebrity. There’s also a romance subplot: she was attracted to Joe before she left for New York, but never acted on it. Now, Joe has a girlfriend.

Joe is a stoic soldier who hero-worshipped Duke Butters who took Joe in after Joe’s parents died. Duke was sick for a while before his death, so it wasn’t a surprise to Joe. Joe has also promised that he doesn’t tell anything to Silke and he feels that he’s protecting her.

My favorite character, however, was Mackenzie ”Maki” Monroe whom Silke calls Mac n’ Cheese. She’s a computer expert. She’s also happily married with kids and heavily pregnant. But I feel I need to give a content warning about miscarriage.

The book has several POV characters, but Silke is the most prominent one. She’s mostly a very good main character who is trying to figure out what is happening to her and what’s happening around her. However, right at the start of the book, she makes some stupid choices: mixing painkillers and alcohol that felt out of character for her.

Also, the author does sometimes use more ”tell” than ”show”. Sometimes she just summarized the scene quickly rather than writing it out. It takes a long time until Silke gets any sort of handle for her powers. I’m also not a fan of plots where the main character is deliberately kept in the dark, especially ”for her own good”, so I didn’t really like that. Unfortunately, the book has also quite a few typos.

Still, it was an enjoyable and exciting read.

Top 5 Wednesday is GoodReads group where people discuss different bookish topic each week. Today, the topic is Made You Laugh.

We all have those “auto buy” authors that even without knowing what the book is about, we’re already pre-ordering it! For this week’s prompt, share with us some of your favorite authors!

I don’t have auto buy authors any longer (my TBR is already huge), but I have quite a few favorite ones.

1, Lois McMaster Bujold

I love her fantasy and scifi books. I like her new Penric and Desdemona series of fantasy novellas, but I’m a bit behind with them.

2, Seanan McGuire

I love her Toby Daye urban fantasy series with fae and her comics. But she also writes horror and I don’t want to read that.

3, Naomi Novik

I loved her Temeraire series a lot! It’s dragons set in the Napoleonic Wars period.

4, Steven Brust

I love his fantasy Vlad Taltos series and the spin-off Khaavren Romances which is a homage to Alexandre Dumas’ the Three Musketeers, in writing style as well as in other ways.

5, Kristine Kathryn Rusch

She writes in a lot of genres. I love her science fiction series (the Diving universe and Retrieval Artist), mysteries, and short stories. She also writes fantasy and romance.

The second book in the humorous romantic the Saint of Steel fantasy series.

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Publication year: 2021

Format: Audio

Running time: 15 hours, 38 minutes
Narrator: Joel Richards

Clara is a lay sister of the Order of St. Ursa. She’s been through a terrible time. Her sisterhood of nuns was kidnapped and she was thrown out of the cage they were kept in and left as dead. She was rescued and nursed back to health, but ended up as a house slave, er, a servant who can’t leave. Now, she’s a battle forfeit to a mercenary. She was planning on escaping and looking for her sisters, but fortunately the mercenary group is going in the right direction. The captain also seems to respect nuns, although Clara is just a lay sister, as she repeatedly says. So, Clara joins the mercenary company as a guide. Just for the convenience of traveling with armed men, of course. The mercenary captain is attractive, but Clara has secrets and no man will want her after they find out what she is. So, he’s strictly a traveling companion until Clara finds her sisters and must try to free them, alone.

The Temple of the White Rat hired Istvhan, Galen, and a group of mercenaries to escort a man and his wagon, and also find the mysterious killers who appeared in the first book. Istvhan and Galen are former paladins. Their god, the Saint of Steel, is dead and they’re struggling to find meaning in their lives. Serving the White Rat is good enough. They are berserkers and their god kept them from hurting the innocent, so they don’t really advertise their paladinhood. So, Istvhan is content to let others think that he’s a mercenary captain. He’s not happy that he must allow Clara to join the group, because of local customs, but he also must help a nun. Clara is a very tall and strong woman, much like Istvhan is a tall and strong man, and he can’t help, but be attracted to her. But she’s a nun.

Istvhan pretty much stole the spotlight in the previous book, Paladin’s Grace, and I was really looking forward to the book where he’s the main character. Unfortunately, Kingfisher had to find a way for the couple not to get together until the very end, so Istvhan’s very practical and straightforward manner changed. Sadly, in this book he’s hesitant much in the same way as Stephen was in the first book. In fact, this Istvhan could have used a practical Istvhan-type character to give him advice! So I ended up being rather frustrated with the first half of the book where both Clara and Istvhan make up excuses not to speak their minds. Now, Clara has her secret which made her doubt feel more real, but Istvhan… not so much. He’s struggling with his attraction toward a nun, but she tells him repeatedly that she’s a lay sister and neither of them is in a celibate order so it felt really contrived to me.

Also, what’s wrong with letting them pair up early and continue the quests together as a couple??

Fortunately, the second half made up for that. Once the plot started rolling it, I enjoyed the story much more. The book also had some wonderful and mysterious (perhaps even horrific) moments that the writer does so well. The world-building was expanded and we get to see more of one of the secondary characters from Swordheart, which I loved. The book has its share of dark moments, but thankfully the nuns being raped wasn’t one of them.

Clara is a wonderful character. She’s tall and strong, especially for a woman, and is in her late thirties. It’s wonderful to have a romance with older characters who aren’t conventionally attractive. I also loved a pair of characters they run into about halfway through the book and I loved how Istvhan and Clara flirted by comparing the aches in their bodies. Hilarious!

Top 5 Wednesday is GoodReads group where people discuss different bookish topic each week. Today, the topic is Made You Laugh.

We talked about memorable books at the end of last year, but what about books that have made you laugh? What are some of your favorite stories that have either made you chuckle or belly laugh?

1, Terry Pratchett: Witches Abroad

I love Pratchett’s books even though I didn’t read any last year. Any of them are good for a laugh or two, but I particularly love the Witches books.

2, Steven Brust: Jhereg

Vlad Taltos is a witch with an intelligent familiar, Loiosh. Their snarky conversations make everything better. Jhereg isn’t my favorite book in the series, but it’s the first.

3, T. Kingfisher: Swordheart

This is a fantasy romance book with lots of humor.

4, Jasper Fforde: The Eyre Affair

Thursday Next is a literature detective and she gets to go inside books!

5, Elizabeth Peters: The Last Camel Died at Noon

Peters’ series is historical mystery, but it has lots of humor, too. It’s set in Victorian times. Amelia Peabody and her husband are amateur Egyptologists.

The seventh Dirk Pitt book.

Publishing year: 1984

Format: Print

Finnish translator: Maria Sivonen

Page count: 418

Finnish publisher: WSOY

This adventure book starts with two plotlines that merge. In one, Dirk Pitt and his friend Al Giordano look for a sunken ship that is carrying a stolen shipment of nerve gas. The gas is escaping and killing people. The second plot involves the kidnapping of the four most important politicians in the US.

The story starts with Arta Casilighio, a bank teller who finds the passport of another woman. Arta gathers the courage to steal a lot of money and head to Europe aboard a ship. Unfortunately for her, a group of Korean men highjacks the ship and kills everyone on it.

Twenty years later, something is mysteriously killing people on ships. The US government sends Dr. Julia Mendoza from the Environmental Protection Agency to order Pitt and Giordano to look for a sunken ship that is spreading the poison. Pitt does so but Dr. Mendoza is exposed to the poison and dies. Pitt swears revenge.

Meanwhile, the four top men in the US government go missing, and the men closest to them try very hard to cover it up while both the FBI and the CIA are looking for the president and the other men.

This was my first Cussler book, but I know the series is very popular. Unfortunately, this book didn’t really work for me. It has lots and lots of point-of-view characters. I didn’t have trouble telling them apart from each other, but none of them were very compelling. Also, the plot centers on politics which I didn’t find compelling. The book has also some racism toward Asians.

The plot has some incongruous elements. Perhaps most fantastical of them is not just mind control, but the notion that you can inject memories from one man’s brain to another’s. For a thriller book, the plot felt slow to me, because of the politicking.

Action Heroine Fans is a GoodReads group for people who like reading about action heroines. They have a reading challenge for this year, too, and I’ve joined it. However, since this year they only allow books, I have a more modest goal of six books.

1, Cynthia Vespia: Karma

2, T. Kingfisher: Paladin’s Strength

3, Genevieve Cogman: The Dark Archive

4, S. K. Dunstall: Stars Uncharted

5, P. Djeli Clark: A Master of Djinn

6, Rachel Aaron: One Good Dragon Deserves Another

7, Rachel Aaron: No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished

8,Michael J. Martinez: The Enceladus Crisis

9,

WMG Publishing has another very interesting Kickstarter: Crimes collide.

For over four decades, New York Times and USA Today bestselling writers Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith have been writing professional mystery short stories that have won awards and sold millions of copies, plus they have been acclaimed and enjoyed by fans over the entire world.

Now, for the first time, Kris and Dean are collecting 100 of their mystery short stories together into a five-volume set called CRIMES COLLIDE. 50 stories from each author, ten stories from each author in every volume.

It’s already funded and hit the second stretch goal! 14 days to go.

I’ll gather again all the books and comics I’ll read this year into this post

Challenges:

Mount TBR (24) 8

Action heroine (6) 4

Star trek (3) 1

January

1, Clive Cussler: Deep Six

2, T. Kingfisher: Paladin’s Strength (tbr)

3, Cynthia Vespia: Karma (tbr, action heroine)

4, Dean Wesley Smith: Kill Game (tbr)

February

5, Rachel Aaron: Nice Dragons Finish Last (tbr)

6, Genevieve Cogman: The Dark Archive (tbr, ah)

7, Alexis Hall: the Affair of the Mysterious Letter (tbr)

March

8, David Dodge: To Catch a Thief

9, T. Kingfisher: The Seventh Bride

10, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, ed.: Fiction River: Justice (tbr)

11, Everina Maxwell: Winter’s Orbit

12, Carmen Carter, Michel Jan Friedman, Peter David, Robert Greenberger: Doomsday World (star trek)

13, Matthew Costello, Neil Richards: Murder on Thames (tbr)

14, S. K. Dunstall: Stars Uncharted

April

15, Jason M. Hugh: Zero World

16, Matthew Costello, Neil Richards: Mystery at the Manor (tbr)

17, David B. Coe and Joshua Palmatier ed: Derelict /tbr)

18, Matthew Costello, Neil Richards: Murder in the Moonlight (tbr)

19, Lawrence Block: The Burglar in the Closet

20, Andy Weir: Project Hail Mary (TBR)

May

21, Jane Yolen: Dragon’s Blood (TBR)

22, Anthea Sharp: Faerie Song: A Dark Faerie Tale

23, Lois McMaster Bujold: The Orphans of Raspay

24, Theodora Goss: European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman

25, Lois McMaster Bujold: The Physicians of Vilnoc

26, Philip Pullman: La Belle Sauvage (tbr)

Wyrd and Wonder

Top Five Single-Serve Fantasy Reads

Wyrd & Wonder: Woodland creatures

Top Five Books Featuring Our Wyrd & Wonder Mascots

Top Five Fantasies Since Last Wyrd & Wonder

Wyrd&Wonder: Current Read

Wyrd and Wonder: Top Five from a Favorite Subgenre: Faerie Fantasy

June

27, Theodora Goss: The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl

28, Karen A. Wyle: Donation

29, Michael J. Martinez: The Enceladus Crisis

30, V. E. Schwab: A Gathering of Shadows

31, Martha Wells: Fugitive Telemetry

July

32, Alix E. Harrow: A Spindle Splintered

33, Catherynne M. Valente: The Past is Red

34, P. Djeli Clark: A Master of Djinn

35, Aliette de Bodard: Fireheart Tiger

36, Seanan McGuire: Across the Green Grass Fields

37, Shelley Parker-Chan: She who Became the Sun

38, Ryka Aoki: Light from Uncommon Stars

Comics

1, N. K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell: Far Sector

2, Once & Future vol. 1: The King is Undead

August

39, Xiran Jay Zhao: Iron Widow

40, Tracy Deonn: Legendborn

41, Edward Ashton: Mickey7

42, Rachel Aaron: One Good Dragon Deserves Another

43, Catharine Ingelman-Sundberg: The Little Old Lady who Struck Lucky Again! (tbr)

Comics

3, Strange Adventures

September

44, Becky Chambers: The Galaxy and the Ground Within

45, Rachel Aaron: No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished

46, Patricia A. McKillip: Od Magic

47, Geoff Trowbridge, Keith R. A. Candido, Chris Roberson: Star Trek: Myriad Universes: Echoes and Refractions (tbr)

48, Dan Koboldt: Silver Queendom

October

49, Blake Crouch: Dark Matter

50, Marty Wingate: The Bodies in the Library

51, Phillip L. Wray: The Pontcourt murders: A Charles de la Forêt mystery

52, George R. R. Martin and Garder Dozois ed.: Dangerous Women 2 (tbr)

53, Naomi Novik: Spinning Silver

54, Donna Leon: Friends in High Places (tbr)

Comics

4, Tatsuki Fujimoto: Chainsaw Man vol. 1

November

55, Adrian Tchaikovsky: Children of Time

56, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith: Colliding Worlds, vol. 1

57, William Ledbetter: Level Five

58, James S. A. Corey: Babylon’s Ashes

SciFiMonth

1, SciFiMonth: Puny Human

2, SciFiMonth: To Boldly Go

3, SciFiMonth: Not as we know it

4, SciFiMonth: Even Better Together

5, SciFiMonth: Space craft

6, SciFiMonth: Turn Back Time

December

I’m again joining this challenge in an attempt to lower my TBR mountain. I’ve succeeded a couple years in a row so hopefully this year, too.

My goal is again Mount Blanc, 24 books.

Mount TBR challenge and rules.

Books read

1, T. Kingfisher: Paladin’s Strength

2, Cynthia Vespia: Karma

3, Dean Wesley Smith: Kill Game

4, Genevieve Cogman: The Dark Archive

5, Alexis Hall: the Affair of the Mysterious Letter

6, Matthew Costello, Neil Richards: Murder on Thames

8, Matthew Costello, Neil Richards: Mystery at the Manor

9, Matthew Costello, Neil Richards: Murder in the Moonlight

10, David B. Coe and Joshua Palmatier ed: Derelict

11, Andy Weir: Project Hail Mary

12, Jane Yolen: Dragon’s Blood

13, Catharine Ingelman-Sundberg: The Little Old Lady who Struck Lucky Again!

14, Philip Pullman: La Belle Sauvage

15, Geoff Trowbridge, Keith R. A. Candido, Chris Roberson: Star Trek: Myriad Universes: Echoes and Refractions

16, George R. R. Martin and Garder Dozois ed.: Dangerous Women 2

17, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Dean Wesley Smith: Colliding Worlds, vol. 1

18, James S. A. Corey: Babylon’s Ashes

19,

Books I plan to read

1,

2, Dangerous Women 3

4, Fiction River: Doorways to Enchantment

5, Fiction River: hard choices

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