Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Taken by Vicki Pettersson

Posted by Rebecca Brendel



Reviewed by: Andrew Zollman

What I ReadThe Taken by Vicki Pettersson

Find It @YCLD:
 Here! 

What It's About: Griffin Shaw used to be a PI, but that was back in the 1960’s . . . and he was still alive. Fifty years later, he's an angel, but that doesn't make him a saint. While out on a take, one small mistake has altered fate, and now he's been dumped back onto the mortal mudflat to collect another soul—Katherine "Kit" Craig, a journalist whose latest investigation is about to get her clipped. Rebuking heavenly orders from Sarge (the Pure in charge of centurions), Grif refuses to let the red headed siren come to harm while he’s around. Besides, protecting Kit helps his chances to solve the mystery of his own unsolved murder. Griffin Shaw is overdue payback for the death of his beloved wife, Evie.

Joining forces, Kit and Grif’s search for answers leads beyond the bright lights of the Strip into the darker recesses of the cities night life. But a ruthless killer determined to destroy them isn't Grif's biggest threat. His growing attraction to Kit could cost them both their lives, along with the answer to the haunting question of his long afterlife . . .

What I Thought: For most people, 1960s nostalgia comes from the culture it embodied and not the negatives many people lived through at the time. The mob ruled the streets, the Vietnam War was a reality, and the country seemed like it was falling apart at the seams. This was the reality that Grif was reminded of, along with the death of his wife long ago.

Vicki Peterson does a great job mixing historical realities in the 1960s to the personalities of both Grif and Kit in the story. I really enjoyed Kit’s portrayal of a modern rockabilly and the way she interacts within that lifestyle is done really well. However, don’t let my comments fool you, this is a dark story with many twists and turns. It will take you on a ride through the highs and lows of Las Vegas and even into some of its darker corners and the people who rule over them. Enjoy reading about Grif and Kit as much as I have.

Readalikes: Something More than Night by Ian Tregillis


Or look this book up on NoveList!

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bad Country by C.B. McKenzie

Posted by Rebecca Brendel


Reviewed by: Becky Brendel

What I Read: Bad Country by C.B. McKenzie

Find It @YCLD: Here!

What It's About: Rodeo Garnet is a man with an old dog. He's also a private investigator who prefers to live in an area of Arizona known to locals as "the Hole", and he's just come home from vacation to find a dead body down the street from his house. The local sheriff has his hands full with a string of seemingly-unrelated murders in the area, but it's none of Rodeo's business until one of the victims' grandmothers asks him to find out who killed her grandson. Rodeo slowly begins to realize that all of the bad things happening in this bad country are interrelated - and hit closer to home than he'd thought.

What I Thought: This book is an excellent example of noir fiction - a story that paints the world as simultaneously bleak and beautiful (there is a sense of poetry in all the run-down, dried-up scenery - and people - that Rodeo meets). It's not a tearjerker, but it's unsettling, haunting, and frequently very funny. Rodeo makes an ideal noir/hardboiled detective, in that he plays his cards close to his chest and is a good person without being a nice one. His relationship with his dog also humanizes him, often through small details; Rodeo's own diet consists primarily of spoonfuls of whiskey and Spaghetti-Os, but he makes sure his dog takes its medications on time. McKenzie spends a lot of time on this attention to detail. Sometimes this works against him, as he has a habit of listing every single object, including their brand names, when Rodeo packs his bags, but for the most part it makes the Southwest setting come alive.

The main whodunit - "if these are serial murders, who's the culprit?" - is a bit underwhelming, and once the culprit's identity is revealed, that plotline feels more like a nod to noir tropes than anything else. But even the mystery of what happened to Rodeo's client's grandson takes a backseat to evoking a sense of place. Rodeo encounters people from all walks of life in his investigation, and while none of them are traditional paragons of virtue (this is a hardboiled detective novel), and McKenzie falls into tropes several times, the novel refuses to judge its characters' lifestyles, preferring to let each of the characters judge themselves. Reading this book feels like driving through the Arizona desert. Don't read it to beat the Yuma heat - but do read it for a thoughtful musing on an area much like this one, both the good and the bad.

Readalikes: Anything by Raymond Chandler, as an obligatory mention of noir fiction; Bill Pronzini's Nameless Detective novels, for the same sense of bleakness evoked in Rodeo's world.

Or look this book up on NoveList!

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Posted by Rebecca Brendel


Reviewed by: Andrew Zollman

What I ReadA Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Find It @YCLD:
 Here! 

What It's About: Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

What I Thought: Ok, plain and simple. When you pick a book to read, what are you really looking for in a story? When I picked up this book, I thought I was going to get an intellectual book on magic following simple characters in a conflict. Wow, was I wrong about this book. Although I still got the intellectual characters and the story, I got so much more from A Discovery of Witches. As a Librarian, I can appreciate the dedication of the characters to trying to find the answers to their magical and biological problems. The Story starts off as an urban fantasy fiction, and begins an evolution through genres from romance to discovery and adventure, to high fantasy and historical fiction. I appreciated the changes because as the story changed so did the characters to deal with their surroundings. Deborah Harkness does a great job of blending each genre to the story and weaving progression of the characters. I recommend this book to all teen and adult readers interested in history, science, or just want to have fun with a little magic.

Readalikes: Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison

Or look this book up on NoveList!


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