Linda's Latest List
|Linda T - Store buyer and Queen of Everything (LNT) aka She Who Must Be Obeyed looks forward to:
* urban fantasy, especially kick-ass chicks
* fast-paced chase novels
* good bad guys and bad good guys
* something completely different-surprise me!
* a sense of humor, especially if it's weird and/or a bit twisted
A unique debut fantasy taking place in an alternate 1800’s England where magic seems to be on the wane and the new Sorcerer Royal need to fix it fast, if possible. Unfortunately, Zacharias Wythe will not be getting much help from his fellow members of The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers. You see, he’s the adopted son of the former Sorcerer Royal, a freed slave and definitely not a proper gentleman. Zacharias visits Mrs. Daubeney's School for Gentlewitches, a school for suppressing the spells caste by young ladies who have a proclivity for magic. There he meets Prunella Gentleman, a young woman who will change his life forever. Proper ladies do not practice magic as it is too much for their delicate minds and bodies. However, Prunella, an assistant at the school and an orphan whose heritage is also questionable (read “person of color”), has magical abilities far beyond any woman he has met before. She also has a dark secret involving some mysterious stones full of magic. Zacharias takes Prunella as an apprentice, intending to convince the Society to change their policies on women and magic. And so the fun begins! For those who like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, a dash of Jane Austin, dragons, some vampires, and witches too-well, who doesn’t! -- Linda
Hostile Takeover, the sequel to the darkly amusing The Intern’s Handbook might also be called The War of the Roses, because assassin John Lago faces his most deadly target yet-his wife Alice! Filled with murder, mayhem and more than a dash of sarcasm, Hostile Takeover begins with just that: their workplace, Human Resources, Inc. coming under the control of John and Alice. Husband and wife assassins working together, training new employees to infiltrate corporations under the guise of interns and kill high profile targets can put a real strain on a marriage. Can John and Alice survive (literally) the inter-office conflicts and find true love again? If they manage to avoid killing each other, can they also survive outside sources who want them dead? For fans who like their thrillers on the dark side, with a splash of twisted humor.—Linda
The Fountain of Youth. Does it exist, and if so, where and also when? More important, to what lengths would a person go to find it, keep it, and exploit the consequences of eternal youth? The Eternal World stirs up a cornucopia of times and places, including Spanish conquistadors, a Native American woman out for vengeance, a scientific prodigy specializing in biotechnology, and the conglomerate made up of very youthful men determined to keep and exploit their powerful influence, growing richer while not growing much older. When the corporation’s source of their youth begins to dry up, they call upon biotechnology expert David Robinton to try and recreate their liquid gold. He believes his research will benefit all mankind, but we know better. When Shako, the daughter of the chief whose tribe was destroyed by the conquistadors, comes calling with vengeance on her mind, David must figure out who is using him and why. Oh yeah, and how to survive this epic battle of immortals. For readers who like a fast-paced supernatural thriller mixing fantasy with history.—Linda
Spencer Quinn has already proven that he has no trouble getting inside a dog’s head and providing a convincing voice with the Chet and Bernie mysteries. His new middle grade series features the just adopted, slightly slobbery but handsome mutt Bowser, and his new pal, eleven-year-old Birdie Gaux. When Birdie and her grandmother bring Bowser home to the family bait and tackle shop in the bayou, they find that their prize stuffed marlin is missing. Bowser and his powerful nose immediately sniff out a clue in the form of a cigar discarded by the dock. This sends Birdie and Bowser on the trail to danger. Narrated by Bowser, and similar to the mysteries as told by Chet the Jet, Woof is perfect for adults and kids who like dogs and mysteries. It helps to be easily convinced that our pooches know what’s going on, but are simply distracted by bacon and cats.-Linda
The sequel to Murder as a Fine Art, my favorite mystery of 2013, Inspector of the Dead brings back opium-eater Thomas De Quincey, his headstrong daughter Emily and Scotland Yard detectives Ryan and Becker. Based on real attempts to assassinate Queen Victoria, in Inspector of the Dead, a serial killer is targeting the upper crust of British society. With each victim, he leaves a note naming a person who previously attempted to assassinate Queen Victoria, implying she is the ultimate target. De Quincy isn’t the most likable character, nor do the British citizens respect him. Fighting his opium addiction and poor health, he, nevertheless, is able to look at the murder scenes with an unbiased and unique perspective, seeing beyond the prejudices of an upper-crust society where appearances are everything. Inspector of the Dead skillfully blends fact and fiction, re-creating 1855 Victorian London’s fog shrouded streets. As always, David Morrell’s impeccable research and gifted storytelling elevates Inspector of the Dead to the pinnacle of historical thrillers.-Linda
Wow! I was hooked on Touch from the first page. Kepler recounts watching the body she (he?) had just been occupying die from an assassin’s bullets. Then the gunman turns away from the body known as Josephine, still looking for her. He knows she can switch hosts. Kepler is not safe yet. Touch has the pace of an express train with faulty brakes. A continuous chase novel with accounts of past lives thrown in to bring humanity to characters constantly changing bodies and circumstances. Kepler treats her host bodies well, even coming to care for them deeply, especially Josephine. So when Josephine is murdered, Kepler looks for revenge. What does it mean to be human? What’s love got to do with it? How can a thrilling science fiction novel manage to explore the meaning of life at a profound level while still sending the reader on a roller coaster ride with twists and turns on every page? Be prepared to set aside some time to read Touch because you won’t want to put this book down.-Linda
Upon first meeting Freedom Oliver, I was convinced I would not like this brash, drunken, tough-as-nails woman working in a small town Oregon biker bar. Surprise! Still waters run deep and Freedom is a bottomless well. Placed into a witness protection program after killing her husband, a cop, she puts her kids up for adoption, thinking they will have a chance at a better life. However, it’s tough to choose which family is the most loathsome, her dead husband’s sadistic family unit or the adoptive parents who seem to be part of a bizarre religious cult. When Freedom discovers that her daughter has gone missing, she loses her handlers and heads back to Kentucky, where her daughter was raised. Freedom seeks redemption, some kind of release from her internal demons. She misses her kids so much she becomes physically ill, fights depression, has a group of miscreant relatives out for revenge, and gets some unexpected help from an Oregon lawman. Freedom’s Child is for those who like fast-paced chase novels with flawed characters, likable despite their faults. –Linda
Do cats have nine lives, and what does that really mean? Cat Out of Hell pursues this idea in a most unique way. Part Sherlock Holmes investigation, part gothic tale, a bit of Interview with a Vampire, Cat Out of Hell is a wickedly funny, creepy, can’t put down tale (tail?). Our story begins at a seaside cottage in England with a cat and a man facing each other across a kitchen table. The cat says “Shall we begin?” This is the story of Roger, who has become immortal by the paw of Captain, killed repeatedly until he becomes the companion Captain has been craving. The Captain, a big black tomcat, can be a bit jealous of others, man and beast, who enter the pairs’ lives. Mysterious deaths occur. Lots of mysterious deaths. A thriller for both cat lovers and cat haters. Not for those who hate to read of murders of animals (and people). Definitely for those who will enjoy a wickedly funny, sarcastic, scary story full of quirky characters, both human and beast. Two paws up (‘cause I’d fall over if I tried to hold up four). Mewow!--Linda
The latest winner of the Tony Hillerman Prize, Bad Country is a lean, mean, noir western mystery as harsh and dry as the remote corner of Arizona known to locals as "El Hoyo” where our hero, Rodeo Garnet lives. A former rodeo cowboy, Rodeo gets by as a private investigator, bounty hunter, and warrant server. Rodeo takes on a case involving an elderly Indian woman from his own Reservation who has hired him to help discover who murdered her grandson. Rodeo and his faithful old dog chase the twisted trail of clues in his trusty (and rusty) pick-up as he also tracks down information on related cases involving a series of murders, including one where the body was found in his own backyard. I suspect that fans of Craig Johnson and Michael McGarrity will want to check out Bad Country, making sure to have an icy beverage close by. –Linda
India and Pakistan are on the brink of nuclear war; child psychologist Caitlin O’Hara is treating the daughter of India’s ambassador to the United Nations for her violent visions and speaking in tongues, while a thief steals a strange silvery stone relic from a lab aboard a survey ship in the South Atlantic. How do these occurrences relate to one another? These are the clues to an ancient lost world of human beings who lived on Antarctica before it became a frozen wasteland and before our species developed. Is there a connection between these souls of the past and possessed teenagers in our present? And what about those rats overrunning New York City? This fast-paced mystical thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last ”wow!”
Linda and Bunny
Daphne has had a rough time of it at home in Detroit. Her mother does not believe her stepfather is abusing her. After his accidental death at Daphne’s hands, she decides to move in with her Aunt and Uncle in the small town of Carbon County, Wyoming. She has fond memories of visiting there when she was a child. But times are tough in Carbon County and she finds her relatives, along with the entire town, struggling to get by. Strange occurrences are happening; beginning with the sounding of trumpets the day Daphne arrives. The town is caught in a religious fervor, convinced the “End Times” are coming. Daphne’s family discovers oil on their land and all hell breaks out, imagined riches and feuding neighbors adding fuel to an already incendiary atmosphere. A mysterious boy, Owen, and his sister Luna, arrive, drawn to Carbon County by an unknown force visualized in their recurring dreams. A war between good and evil seems to be brewing and Daphne and Owen need to decide where they stand as the town heads straight for the Apocalypse. Daphne, a downtrodden girl in search of love and acceptance, grabs your sympathy and support from page one. Please note that End Times is the first in a series, leaving you wanting the next book ASAP. Normal 0 – Linda
A kingdom besieged. Dragons enslaved by the Empire. A prince given the power to free them. A young woman discovers she is a Seer. Add in young love, political intrigue, a town of secretive wizards, a sprinkling of magic, a rogue dragonrider, stir it up, and voila! An epic fantasy entitled Moth and Spark. The young lovers, prince Corin and Tam, must both learn how to master their powers in order to save the kingdom of Caithen. Like romance, dragons, and quests? I am recommending this book to those who like the idea of dragon/human bonds similar to the books of Naomi Novik and Anne McCaffrey.
As Raymond Chandler once wrote “Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.” It is the early 1950’s and Philip Marlowe is back walking the mean streets of Bay City, California. Benjamin Black (aka John Banville) is guiding the quintessential P.I. through a dangerous case involving a seductive young heiress, the black-eyed blonde. She hires him to find her former lover Nico Peterson. We know that the case is not going to be a simple search for a lover gone missing. As Marlowe begins his search, he starts to grasp how far the heiress and her rich Bay City family will go to protect their interests. Full of plot twists to satisfy the most discerning mystery reader, The Black-Eyed Blonde is a sharp, somewhat melancholy, yet compelling novel. To continue in Raymond Chandler’s words “The detective must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor.” Benjamin Black’s Marlowe fits the bill. –Linda
First contact occurred two years ago. Cara Sweeney is grateful for the L’eihr technology that came with the alien encounter. Her mother’s cancer was cured. Now Cara and her family will be hosting a L’eihr exchange student. She envisions her future as bright and shiny, with her blog going through the roof and colleges vying for her attention. Still, she will have to share her home (and bathroom) with an alien.
When Aelyx shows up, she’s confused about her feelings. Sure, he’s the cutest guy she’s ever seen, human or alien, but he’s also cold and annoyingly smart. Soon the town, along with Cara’s classmates, begins an anti-L’eihr campaign, threatening violence toward Aelyx, Cara and her family. Cara and Aelyx are drawn to each other and soon find themselves falling in love. But a plot to have the earth-alien alliance fail threatens not only Cara and her family, but also the future of the entire planet. It’s up to Cara to figure out how to save mankind and the L’eihr’s future too.
Appealing to science fiction and YA readers, a plot with a forbidden love theme involving intergalactic exchange students allows Landers to discuss important issues such as teen romance, peer pressure, trust and acceptance of those a little bit different from ourselves. – Linda
In 2150 genetic manipulation has been forbidden and kids who show genetic “mistakes” are turned over to the government. When Zelia’s chemist father is killed, she and her sister find themselves under scrutiny from some very scary strangers. Zel escapes and finds her way to a safehouse, while her sister Dylia is held captive and used as a human guinea pig for experimentation with sensory weapons. Zel is determined to rescue her sister, with or without the help of her outcast mutant pals. Zel is a great character, a super-smart, science geek with fierce determination who will stop at nothing to save her sister. Control is a smart, fast-paced dystopian adventure with love, betrayal, mutants, auditory ecstasy drugs, science geeks, scary technology and one kick-ass heroine. -Linda
Mr. Wuffles is a persnickety cat. He ignores all of his cat toys. But when he spots a little spaceship filled with little green aliens, he sees the perfect toy. As a result, the aliens are getting a bit of motion sickness and their spaceship knocked around enough to sustain damage. The aliens take refuge behind a radiator and meet some new small friends. Using symbols as a language, the aliens get the help they need and make new friends too! This picture book with few words and delightful illustrations is my recommended “read” for kids of all ages.
Helen and Troy head out on a road trip. Just your average all-American boy (nearly perfect in every way) and your awkward teenage girl (who is a minotaur) along with a three-legged dog embarking on a mission from an ancient god. Helen is worried because she will be so embarrassed to shed in Troy’s classic car or rip the roof with her horns and she can’t get cute shoes that fit her hooves to save her life! Troy is ever optimistic that all will work out in the end. He doesn’t know about the badass orc bikers on their trail. Or the various challenges they will face at every stop. You know, like a Cyclops and an enchanted Mystery Cottage. Fun as usual from one of my favorite authors. Guaranteed to bring a laugh or two or more!
Let me hear you say “Hooray, Chee and Leaphorn are back”. Tony’s daughter Anne takes up the mantle to bring a new perspective on a classic series. Chee’s wife, Navajo Nation Police Officer Bernadette (Bernie) Manualito, is a witness to a shooting and someone she knows is seriously wounded. Her husband, Sergeant Jim Chee, is put in charge of finding the shooter. So even though Bernie is ordered to step back, since she is a witness, you know she will be in the thick of this very personal investigation. Intrigue in the world of ancient Indian art and artifacts along with the atmospheric locale of Chaco Canyon add to the rich Southwestern atmosphere of Spider Woman’s Daughter. I am looking forward to the next Bernie adventure.
Hooray, Carl Hiaasen is back, bringing us a new Floridian tale of mayhem, greed corruption, voodoo, and a deranged monkey. Andrew Yancey is an ex-cop assigned to roach patrol, i.e. restaurant inspector, after being demoted for publicly assaulting his girlfriend’s husband with a vacuum cleaner hose. I won’t say what part of the anatomy was breached. He is asked by the local sheriff to take a severed arm to Miami for DNA testing. He now has the mauled arm in his freezer. The best-laid plans…Real estate monkey business, as well as a pet monkey belonging to a voodoo priestess in the Bahamas, draws Yancey into a crazy unpredictable adventure sure to leave you laughing.
Zoe has just moved to New York City, and is looking to start fresh as a travel editor after leaving her old job because of a disastrous affair with her publishing boss. She spots a quirky ad in a dingy bookstore and sees it again in a strange coffee shop. When she meets the person who placed the ad, she is repeatedly told that she’s just not right for the job. Zoe perseveres and is hired to edit a different kind of travel guide—for the undead. As the only human on the job, she must quickly learn about vampires, zombies, death goddesses, and other undead visitors who require a unique approach to tourist spots. Each chapter begins with a quote from the guide, with restaurant recommendations and hotel accommodations (or whatever is needed, like fresh dirt or a nice park). This is a unique and fun addition to urban fantasy, with Zoe ready to jump into the fray when the delicate balance between the undead and the humans is threatened.
I have always looked forward to reading a new book by David Morrell, knowing it will be scrupulously researched with attention to details, along with fast-paced action, pulling you into the story with a fierce grip. “Must keep reading” you tell yourself at 2 A.M. “To hell with work tomorrow.” Murder as a Fine Art takes us to Victorian London. The story begins with the very accurate retelling of a brutal massacre occurring 40 years earlier known as the Ratcliffe Highway murders. David warns us in the introduction that the description of the slaughter is accurate. He introduces Thomas De Quincey, the famous, or infamous author known for his memoir Confessions of as English Opium- Eater. DeQuincey also wrote an essay detailing the Ratcliffe Highway murders and becomes a prime suspect in a series of copycat killings mirroring the ones 43 years ago that caused panic in the streets. His efforts to prove his innocence are hampered by his need to chug back the laudanum to function. Fortunately he is accompanied by his daughter Emily, a delightfully outspoken, no-hoop-wearing modern woman, who provides moral and physical support for her father when he is weakened. She also manages to contribute to the investigation led by a Scotland Yard detective and a very likable policeman. We learn about techniques of investigation just beginning to be used by the newly formed Scotland Yard and the changing Victorian London verging on the industrial age. Appealing to those fans of historical crime fiction, of course, but also to anyone who enjoys a fast-paced, well-written thriller full of quirky characters and fascinating historical figures.
There is always cause for celebration when a new Discworld novel arrives. Snuff features Commander Sam Vines, taking a vacation with Lady Sybil and young Sam to her ancestral home in the country. Not that Commander Vimes wanted a vacation, especially a country holiday, with trees, animals, fresh air and strange country noises unfamiliar to a city dweller. But never fear, soon a corpse will appear and Sam’s vacation will turn into an investigation full of goblins, magic, murder, kidnapping, and poo. Yes, poo. For while Inspector Vimes is investigating the murder of a Goblin girl, young Sam is deep into poo. He has met a children’s author who writes about the different kinds of poo, and young Sam is delighted to find that the country affords many examples of his new infatuation, ready for sample collection. So while Commander Vimes fights Goblin prejudice and a bit of smuggling by local pirates, young Sam is armed with a bucket and considerable determination to collect samples of the local forest creatures' scat, secretly (well, not so secretly) wishing for an encounter with an elephant. What else can I say except enjoy! --LNT
Reading the introduction to this book, I thought “Yeah, another zombie novel. Ho, hum.” Much to my delight, Petrucha’s novel about zombie P.I. Hessius Mann is a great noir thriller, putting life back into the undead. Mann is convicted of his wife’s murder and sentenced to die. Die he does. When suppressed evidence is revealed and his conviction is overturned, the miracle of modern science allows Mann to be raised from the dead. But modern science is far from perfect. Depending on many factors, including how long a person has been dead, cause of death and trauma to the body, a zombie’s capabilities upon returning to “life” have certain limitations. They eventually run out of gas and go feral. The human population can be rather unsympathetic to the zombie’s plight. When Mann is hired to locate a lower-functioning zombie who is heir to a large fortune, the whole idea of “zombie rights” rears its ugly undead head. With this provocative idea in mind, Petrucha brings to life a unique blend of horror, thrills, intrigue and danger to Dead Mann Walking. I can truthfully say that this is indeed my favorite zombie P.I. novel.
Welcome to Terry Pratchett’s version of Victorian London, where a guttersnipe by the name of Dodger can rise up out of the sewers to become a (sort-of) gentleman. Dodger gets by as a tosher, one who scours the sewers searching for treasures washed into the murky depths from the busy streets above. One day he rises from a drain to rescue a damsel in distress and finds himself in the middle of a mystery involving the girl’s identity and powerful foes that want her dead. Dodger is soon in the thick of things, partnering with reporter Charlie Dickens and social reformer Henry Mayhew, grappling with Sweeney Todd over a haircut, and hobnobbing with Benjamin Disraeli and Sir Robert Peel. Dodger is an appealing hero, kind enough to issue a warning about “Richards” (cockney slang involving certain dangers from “Richard the Thirds” rhyming with…) while giving the upper crust a tour of the sewers. A well-researched setting, great characters, sly jokes (of course!), action and adventure, and hopefully, true love, make Dodger simply irresistible.
This sequel to The Boy in the Suitcase finds Copenhagen Red Cross nurse Nina Borg and her daughter fighting for their lives against terrorists and a deadly illness. The trouble begins inside an abandoned Soviet military hospital building in Hungary, where Tamas and Pitkin are scavenging for anything in salable condition. A fissure in the wall from a recent earthquake has opened up the previously sealed off basement. They have found a dangerous prize next to an oddly bright yellow and black sign. The object seems oddly warm to the touch. Maybe it could be worth something on the black market. A possible buyer in Copenhagen brings the boys and their toxic prize to Denmark. Nina gets involved when she is asked to check on some sick kids by Peter Erhardsen, a fellow volunteer helping the homeless, who is taken violently ill by a strange malady that has also affected a group of Roma families living in an abandoned garage. Soon Nina is involved with terrorists, sex traffickers and Copenhagen’s counter-terrorism unit while battling radiation sickness and kidnappers. Invisible Murder is totally scary with it’s “this could happen to you and there’s nothing you can do about it” terrorist threat and dirty bomb scenario.
While the President is on the campaign trail, the President’s Vampire, Nathaniel Cade, and sidekick Zach Barrows are on the trail of an ancient evil targeting those Cade is sworn to protect. Cade is after the Boogeyman, a centuries old entity he had fought and put down (unfortunately, not permanently) in the past. He’s baaack (cue eerie music) and badder than ever, and his target is the President of the United States. No one in his path, including staff, campaign workers, reporters, the secret service, and the president’s daughter is safe from the relentless pursuit of this unstoppable monster. Cue the bloodbath. Culminating in a totally kick-ass duel on (yes, I’ll tell you) Air Force One, I give the battle a hearty “GET OFF MY PLANE” two thumbs up for action, explosive violence, and clever use of Air Force One technology. Good to the very last page.
Reading instructions: Pick up Raylan, settle down in a comfy chair, enjoy the ride. My praise for Raylan, a collection of three interlinked stories featuring Deputy U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens, is totally “justified”. Make the stories even easier on your mind’s eye by picturing Timothy Olyphant in the role as Raylan. Each of the three stories involves a very unique bad gal. Layla is a nurse who has come up with a very unique kidnapping scheme involving human organs. Carol Conlan is a viperous vice president of M-T Mining, ready willing and able to deal with coal miner problems any way necessary, including shooting a man who's standing in profit’s way. Then there’s Jackie Nevada, a college student who can outplay anyone at the poker table, and hopes to outplay Raylan, or at least participate in some interesting foreplay, depending on the flop, the turn and the river. Will she have the winning hand? Bottom line…snappy dialog, quirky characters, true grit, totally justified.
What’s a spineless (literally), conquering warlord to do once a planet’s inhabitants have been subjugated? Emperor Mollusk, conqueror and now benevolent ruler of Earth, is bored. He, his loyal pet ultrapede Snarg, and his tough Venusian army commander Zala are hanging out at his lair on Dinosaur Island, experimenting with the earth’s polarity when a new challenge rears it’s ugly head, er, make that brain. No body, just a brain. The Sinister Brain and his nefarious brain gang, the Council of Egos, are fervently plotting to take over the universe. Luckily, Emperor Mollusk has plenty of weapons hidden under his tentacles. That about sums up the plot. Plenty of crazy action, with skewed science, a cool death ray, and robots that definitely don’t follow the rules, Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain is for readers that like their science fiction pulpy. Similar to John Zakour’s Plutonium Blonde.
Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) Thomas wakes up in a London park with no memory of who she is. Never mind that she is surrounded by bodies clothed in lab coats and wearing rubber gloves. Luckily, there is a note in her coat pocket with the salutation “Dear You, The body you are wearing used to be mine” and signed “Love, Me”. She’s given a red pill, blue pill choice and decides to go down the rabbit hole. Following the instructions left by her former self, she reports to work with the idea of finding her true identity and discovering who wants her out of the picture. But that job! Myfanwy is an executive, a Rook, in a super-secret organization, the Checquy Group, that keeps the world safe from supernatural threats. The Checquy Group has sort of an X-men feel, with kids attending a school to help them develop their powers, and a hierarchy of agents doing fieldwork, fighting various supernatural forces. The former Myfanwy was a shy, awkward girl, unsure of her supernatural powers and happy to stay in her office, organizing the Group. The new Myfanwy is still unsure, but is not satisfied to hide in her office, waiting for her enemies to come back and finish her off. Using the copious notes and files left by her former self, her confidence grows and she begins the transformation from shy office girl to kick-ass agent. With a backstory told in the unique form of letters and notes, totally unexpected creepy yucky monsters, and surprising plot twists, The Rook makes for a great supernatural spy thriller. Marketed as “On Her Majesty’s Supernatural Secret Service”, Myfanwy is a force to be reckoned with ... and there’s room for a sequel.
The new Thomas Perry book finds our heroine, Jane Whitefield, a Seneca woman who helps people disappear, caught in a world of trouble. Poison Flower begins with Jane helping wrongly convicted prisoner James Shelby escape from custody at the criminal court building in downtown Los Angeles. He has been imprisoned for murdering his runaway wife. He does escape, but crooks posing as cops who are working for the real killer are in pursuit. Jane and James are on the run, and are soon joined by a woman hiding from an abusive ex-husband. I won’t give away more of the plot except to say it involves kidnapping, torture, cross-country pursuits, and revenge. Unrelenting suspense, a skillful and passionate warrior woman, and a nerve-racking climax makes Poison Flower a must read.
Give the Gift of Communication, Wookiee style! How to Speak Wookiee: A Manual for Inter-Galactic Communication by Wu Kee Smith includes 10 key phrases in Wookiee dialect. A sound module voiced by Chewbacca (for proper pronunciation) is guaranteed to make a child laugh and possibly drive parents crazy! Better than a drum set. Chronicle Books.
For those who like their mysteries Dark and Danish! Nina Borg, a Red Cross nurse in Copenhagen, is asked to do a favor for an old friend. Karin leaves Nina a key to a train station locker, and when Nina retrieves the suitcase in the locker, she finds a little boy inside, naked, barely alive and obviously drugged. She encounters a violent man at the train station lockers, leaving her confused, afraid, and hesitant to contact the police. She sets out to discover the boy’s identity and the reason he’s being smuggled into the country. You can look forward to a suspenseful thriller with intriguing characters, a surprising twist and definitely a sequel with nurse Nina.
This is the 11th Inspector Peter Diamond mystery and if you have never read any books in this series, Stagestruck will do nicely. Going behind the scenes at Bath’s Theatre Royal, we catch a glimpse of the backstage and backstabbing world of theatre rivalries. The Theatre Royal is in danger of closing, suffering from financial troubles. The owners come up with the brilliant idea of hiring fading pop star Clarion Calhoun to act in their next production. This will bring in the crowds, but there may be a problem. Can she act? The curtain goes up to a sold out crowd, but Clarion is on stage for only a minute or two when she begins screaming and tearing at her face. She is rushed to the hospital, disfigured from caustic drain cleaner found in her face powder. Further complications develop, bringing Detective Diamond in to investigate a possible murder. Diamond has suffered a life-long fear of theatres, his phobias adding to the complexities of this case. After all, he’s dealing with actors, and they are experts at masking their feelings. Throw in a few theatre ghost sightings, some dead tortoiseshell butterflies (a precursor to tragedy), and the irritating Sergeant Dawkins tagging along to “help”, and we have an entertaining classic whodunit. Signed copies of Stagestruck are available. --LNT
Nathaniel Cade, vampire, took a blood oath 140 years ago to protect and serve his country. He’s a state secret, he’s a predator, and he’s still going strong, protecting us from unspeakable monsters (but we’ll speak of them) accompanied by his sidekick Zach Barrows. In Blood Oath, the monsters are the humans, not the zombie soldiers they’ve created from stitching together the body parts stolen from our dead soldiers returning for burial. In The President’s Vampire, are the monster mutated Snakeheads our enemies, or those who created them? Again, the real horror lies with the method to the madness. I loved both of these books. You’ve got to love a book that blames those missing White House tapes on a super-secret vampire serving his country. --LNT
Way back in 1979, I read Trevanian’s Shibumi. I loved the adventure and intrigue, the almost supernatural skills displayed by assassin Nicholai Hel, along with Trevanian’s snarky sense of humor. Hel is fluent in seven languages, a master of a form of martial arts called "naked kill," has a deep knowledge of Eastern cultures, including the ancient Japanese game of Go and in possession of "proximity sense" that enables him not only to know when someone approaches him but to sense how that person is feeling. Who better to continue Hel’s story than Don Winslow? He has written a prequel, so you can start here if you haven’t read Trevanian. Satori takes place in the early 1950s, with Hel just released from jail for the murder of his mentor. The CIA offers him a deal he can’t refuse: in return for freedom, money and a neutral passport, go to Beijing and kill the Soviet Union's Commissioner to China. Pretty much a suicide mission. But, of course, things are much, much more complicated than Hel is lead to believe, including his involvement with the lovely and mysterious Solange, his trainer in Western ways. Will our superspy survive this insane assignment and achieve his life goal of Satori, understanding and harmony with the world?
OK, are we burned out yet on zombie apocalypse stories? Well, my surprising answer is a hearty NO! Madeline Roux has written a unique, funny, and thrilling adventure with a twist. Her heroine, Allison, is trapped, just like the title suggests, facing a zombie outbreak. She works in a chain bookstore, Brooks and Peabody, and is trapped along with her manager and four others in the break room. These back rooms, for those not in the know, are usually depressing enough already. But being trapped with nothing but Mountain Dew and nacho flavored Doritos to consume is a real challenge. Allison turns to her laptop and uses the military emergency wireless network to start a blog. While she and her companions face orange lips and fingers, along with a caffeine high, Allison reaches out to others, finding comfort and much needed information about the world outside the stifling break room, which by the way, lacks adequate reading material for being in a bookstore. Allison is desperate to find information about her mother, and soon realizes that she and her companions will have to venture out to face the ravenous, but slow moving zombies and the sometimes even more dangerous humans. Luckily, Allison’s axe wielding skills improve with time and practice. I highly recommend this unique take on the popular zombie genre.
Ahoy maties, get ready to buckle your swash. The manuscript for this pirate, make that privateer, tale was found as a complete manuscript after Michael Crichton’s death in 2008. Pirate Latitudes is set in 1665 in the Caribbean. Captain Charles Hunter decides to go after a Spanish galleon and its cargo of riches moored in the bay of a small island near Jamaica. The governor of Jamaica approves the venture, so technically, Captain Charles will not be stealing the treasure (pirateering = death by hanging), but privateering (making a profit off an enemy of England). What ensues is an adventure caper on the high seas, filled with lusty pirates, a kick-ass female warrior, a nasty villain (or two), a hurricane and, yes, a sea monster. Release the Kraken!
I let my husband read Impact first because the cover had a fiery ball of flames hurtling toward earth and I thought, oh yeah, another apocalyptic meteor collision. Call Bruce Willis and full speed ahead to save the world. But my husband said, “Hey, this is great. I think you’ll really like it.” Blast it. Right again! Impact IS a blast! We’ve got three scenarios. First up is former CIA operative Wyman Ford, last seen in Blasphemy, checking out radioactive gemstones mined in Cambodia. Over in Maine, college dropout and frustrated astronomer Abbey Straw spots a meteor landing near one of the many small islands near her home. She wants to cash in by selling fragments on e-bay, so she and girlfriend Jackie begin a search for the impact crater. And then there’s the angry red planet. Gamma rays from Mars? Mark Corso, a Mars mission technician at the National Propulsion Facility gets hold of some very classified and dangerous data. How do these three occurrences tie together? Well, I’m not telling, so you’ll have to read Impact to find out. There are several reasons why I loved this story. The two women searching for the impact make a great team. While they are hunting down the point of impact, a psycho who wants in on the action, even though he doesn’t know what the action might be is chasing them! Wyman Ford kicks ass over in Cambodia in a totally moral way. And the mysterious gamma rays along with a High resolution NASA image revealing a feature hidden in the depths of a crater on Mars reveal some unique surprises about this Impact.
--LNT (and hubby Jan Tonnesen)
A precocious teen girl loves chemistry. She helps Dad solve a murder while plotting to make her sister's lips explode with a new lipstick formula. Gotta love it.