Friday, February 5, 2016

A Death in the Family by Michael Stanley

A Death in the Family: A Detective Kubu Mystery by Michael Stanley --- 359 pages

Not quite a cozy and not quite a police procedural, the Detective Kubu mystery series presents a less idealized, slightly grittier version of life in contemporary Botswana, a small, arid country bordering South Africa, than that found in Alexander McCall Smith's better known No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series.

In this the fifth book of the Kubu Series, Assistant Superintendent David "Kubu" Bengu of the Botswana Police, is shocked by the senseless murder of his own elderly father, a man of upright character, well-respected by his neighbors, and suffering from the early stages of dementia.  What's even worse is that Kubu, the best detective on the Force, has been forbidden to participate in the investigation.  But driven by grief and stubbornness, Kubu attempts to snoop around behind his boss's back.

When another inexplicable murder occurs --- an official in the Department of Mines --- Kubu's boss sets him on that case. It looks like suicide, but Kubu quickly discovers this suicide looks highly suspicious.  Then an American mining consultant who was a friend of the victim is attacked by a knife-wielding assailant. Kubu is convinced that all three crimes are linked and have to do with a proposal to expand a Chinese uranium mining concession near the historically important town of Shoshong.

To keep Kubu from compromising the investigations by his obsession with finding his father's killer, his boss sends him to represent Botswana at an international police conference in New York City in the middle of winter. Kubu's close encounter with the Big Apple provides some comic relief and yet another opportunity to meddle with the investigation.

Of course it takes Kubu's superior instincts to pull together all the various threads and find the solution, but not before a riot is engineered in order to cover up another murder.

Click HERE to read the review from Publisher's Weekly.

Click HERE to read the review from The Strand Magazine.

Click  HERE to read the review from Book Reporter.

Darkness On His Bones: A James Asher Vampire Novel by Barbara Hambly --- 250 pages

July 1914: Lydia Asher receives a cable from the British Embassy in Paris. “James Asher met with accident last night stop critical condition Hospital Saint Antoine stop.”

Lydia finds Paris on the verge of panic. Archduke Francis Ferdinand has been assassinated, the city is rife with rumors of a German invasion. Hospitals are barely staffed, medicines unavailable, in the rush to prepare for war. No one seems to know why James was in the bell tower of the ancient church of St. Clare or how he fell --- or why his throat and arms are punctured with multiple wounds --- but Lydia can't wait for him to wake from his coma and explain. She knows about James' top secret work for British Intelligence. She wastes no time sending for the one man who can help, the only man who will help: the vampire Don Simon Xavier Christian Morado de la Cadena-Ysidro.

While Lydia retraces James' footsteps during the day, Don Simon stands guard at his bedside by night, and together they piece together the puzzle of his actions prior to his accident.

Meanwhile the unconscious James experiences strange and disturbing dreams. Old memories are entangled with recollections of recent danger.  Past betrayals appear to be repeating themselves. The German invaders are exploiting rivalries among the vampires of Paris, searching for a powerful talisman that will allow them to use the vampires to win dominion.  Don Simon knows how it almost happened before. Now it is happening again. The hunt for the Facinum, the talisman of mastery, and the Chapel of Bones. Whoever controls them will be Master of All.

The sixth book in the James Asher Vampire Series is another riveting tale from Hambly.  Read them in order starting with Those Who Hunt the Night for the maximum enjoyment.

Click HERE to read the review from Publisher's Weekly.

Click HERE to read the review from Intravenous

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Pandora Hearts, v.13 by Jun Mochizuki

Pandora Hearts, v. 13 by Jun Mochizuki - 180 pages

Isla Yura plans to recreate the Tragedy of Sablier.

Untamed by A G Howard

Untamed by A G Howard  273 pages

Alyssa Gardner went down the rabbit hole and took control of her destiny. She survived the battle for Wonderland and the battle for her heart. In this collection of three novellas, join Alyssa and her family as they look back at their memories of Wonderland.

In Six Impossible Things, Alyssa recalls the most precious moments of her life after Ensnared and the role magic plays in preserving the happiness of those she loves. In The Boy in the Web, Alyssa's mother reminisces about her own time in Wonderland and giving up the crown to rescue the man who would become her husband. And in The Moth in the Mirror, Morpheus delves into Jeb's memories of the events of Splintered.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Wicked and The Divine by Gillen McKelvie & Wilson Cowles

The Wicked + the Divine, v. 1: the Faust Act by Gillen  McKelvie & Wilson Cowles - 144 pages

Every 90 years, twelve gods are reborn as teenagers.  They attract huge fandoms until they all die within two years.

I thought this premise sounded really intriguing.  It also was listed as one of the Best Graphic Novels for Teens.  I do not agree.  I didn't find the story engrossing.  I also thought the language was very vulgar and explicit for teens.

Haatchi & Little B: The Inspiring True Story of One Boy and His Dog by Wendy Holden

Haatchi & Little B: The Inspiring True Story of One Boy and His Dog
by Wendy Holden --224 pages

Haatchi was abandoned on a railroad track, and if he hadn't been extremely lucky, he could have been easily been killed. Even with his luck, his back leg and tail had to be amputated. Such a big dog, so many health problems caused by his missing limb, it's hard to place a dog like that in a foster home.

Owen, aka "little buddy" or "Little B" was born with a rare genetic disorder that constantly contracts his muscles and leaves him dependent on a wheelchair and many doctors. As he grew up, he began to notice his differences more and more and, to his parents' dismay, he withdrew into himself and refused to be social or make friends.

This story is about two broken lives coming together into one complete life. Haatchi was the confidence Owen needed, and Owen was the motivation Haatchi needed to keep living.

While the story is touching and tender, I am not a huge fan of the author's style, or lack of it. She seemed to put things in a bland light, or perhaps my attention span is just not very long. I would have liked it shown to me instead of told. Also, forgive me, I feel like the story should be more about Owen than Haatchi. Even so, this boy and dog are undoubtedly a sweet pair.

Home by Nightfall by Charles Finch

Home by Nightfall: A Charles Lenox Mystery by Charles Finch --- 294 pages

It's 1876 and Charles Lenox has abandoned his promising career in Parliament in favor of his fascination with detection. Drawing on his reputation and contacts as an amateur sleuth, he is now a partner in a detective agency, along with his former protegee Lord John Dallington, and the intrepid Miss Polly Strickland.

Just now London is agog with the mysterious disappearance of a celebrated German pianist and favorite of the Royal family. Charles and his partners desperately want to be called in by Scotland Yard to consult on the case, but their overtures have been rebuffed, and a rival agency has been hired instead.

Charles is also concerned about the desolate state of his elder brother Sir Edmund, who is mourning the sudden death of his wife Molly. When business requires Edmund to return to the family estate in Sussex where Molly died, Charles decides to go with him. No sooner have they arrived then they learn that the peace of Lenox House and the nearby village of Markethouse has been disturbed by a series of small but strange incidents targeting a respectable resident of the village. Lenox investigates, coaxing his brother to participate (in the hopes of distracting Edmund from his grief). But as the odd happenings continue, Charles begins to suspect there is something seriously amiss in Markethouse.

Juggling two myserious cases, one on London and one in Sussex, Charles finds his powers of detection challenged at every turn. Neither case is as simple as it seemed at first. Reputations and lives are hanging precariously in the balance. Worst of all, Charles finds no matter what he does, any sense of justice achieved is ambivalent at best.

Finch writes well: his characters come alive on the page, his plots are fiendishly clever, and his research incorporates fascinating details of everyday life in Victorian England.  This is the ninth book in the Charles Lenox Mysteries Series. It can be read as a stand alone, but I recommend reading the series in order, starting with A Beautiful Blue Death.

Click HERE for a review from Publisher's Weekly.

Click HERE for a review from the Reading the Past Blog.

Click HERE for a review from The Bookwyrm's Hoard web site.