Book Review: Erin McCarthy’s Shatter

by Kathy Davie

Shatter (True Believers, #4)Shatter by Erin McCarthy
Series: True Believers, 4
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fourth in the True Believers New Adult romance series and revolving around four best women friends.. The couple focus is on Kylie and Darwin/Jonathan.

Thanks to Erin McCarthy, Intermix, and NetGalley for providing this ARC for my enjoyment.

My Take
It’s a story that switches between Kylie’s and Darwin’s points-of-view, and it’s easy to tell when the switch happens. It’s beautiful to read their emotions, their growth, their fears and worries… And Kylie is so right in the end. She has to give him that space.

McCarthy manages to place a lot in this story: truth, realization, growth, and the fears about the past, the future, their today. As for this story’s immediate conflict, it’s a terrifying challenge and an opportunity for Kylie and Darwin to learn about each other. To come to value the other, although it’s a pretty rocky start. There are very realistic reactions from all concerned, and it sets a good example for teens. In a roundabout way, lol.

In so many ways this is a good “handbook” for teens. What to be aware of with boyfriends who are no good. Because, oh boy, Nathan is such a lowlife, sleazy jerk. He was always after Kylie to do things because they would titillate him, not because they would make Kylie happy. Instead, reading Shatter could help teens learn how to recognize the good ones. Read a great example on why you want to pay attention to contraception.

The emotions will tug you back and forth what with Darwin fascinated and enthralled by Kylie but not prepared for a long term relationship and Kylie, well, she’s under hormonal attacks in addition to expecting and yet not expecting support from him. Although hormones can’t explain Kylie’s weird reaction to Darwin being concerned about being “naked and parts … touching without protection”. What he’s saying does make sense. Why does she have such a problem with it?

“We have different people in our lives for different reasons.”

This surprise is life-changing for both of them. And it does help Darwin make a decision that has been weighing on his mind. He’s also determined to not be his father.

“I don’t want to have any hope. … I can’t have hope. I need to have strength and independence and realism, not hope.”

I do like the sleeve Darwin wears. Info that has meaning to him. He’s caring, considerate, and fantasizing about Kylie. She’s sweet, funny.

I am so with Kylie. If Nathan truly loved her, he would never had done what he did in the first place, and he sure wouldn’t have continued to pursue it! What a jerk!! Darwin is such a complete contrast. He researches the situation and steps up, and he considers Kylie’s practical needs and fulfills them just as Kylie’s friends do. It’s a beautiful example of support from truly decent people. And people who won’t let Kylie get away with her judgmental anger.

“Any man can be a father,
not every man can be a dad.”

What an absolute jerk! I can’t believe Nathan would keep after her like this?!! Of course, it does take all kinds in this world…I just wish we didn’t have to have his kind. Then her professor’s suggestion! WTF? I am so glad Kylie decided to gather up evidence, although I think she should have told more people what she was doing.

I feel bad for Kylie, unable to celebrate a birthday she’s been planning for, for ages. But, ohhh, I do love Darwin’s thoughtfulness and his efforts.

You will laugh, cry, and rage throughout the story and alternate between wishing you were them and glad you are not and happy for both of them. Even if there was a time I wanted to slap them both silly…

And my glass is full…

The Story
After Nathan’s little disclosure and her knowledge of his actions afterwards, Kylie can’t live with the others any longer. It doesn’t matter than she hates being alone, she cannot be in their old apartment any longer.

None of this helps with the fact that she’s failing chemistry. She needs help. And she gets it, along with a loving night. One Darwin can’t believe he succumbed to…!

It’s over the Christmas vacation that Kylie learns about her unexpected gift, and it won’t be a welcome surprise. It was just a one-night stand.

The Characters
Kylie Warner knows she’s not bright, she hates being alone, and she loves with all her heart. Her mom and dad are an absolute dream. Matt, Jake, and Ainsley are her siblings.

Jonathan “Darwin” Kadisch is the grad student tutor her chemistry professor assigns to Kylie; he’s cute, has a great sense of humor, and is a kinetics genius. Darwin’s mom, Debbie Fagenbaum, is an absolute treasure while his father is an excellent example of what not to be. Although, it gets so MUCH worse. His Uncle Mike is his mother’s brother and has kids. Devon is his roommate. Miranda is his gay best friend.

Robin is with Phoenix (see Believe, 3), and they’re moving to New Orleans. Jessica is with Riley (see Sweet, 2) and they live with Riley’s younger brothers: Jayden, a sweetheart who has Down Syndrome and is so funny, and Easton, who is the youngest. Rory is with Tyler (see True, 1).

Nathan is a stupid, selfish tool who raped Robin, one of Kylie’s friends. Now he’s her ex-boyfriend. Professor Ben Kadisch is Kylie’s chemistry professor, head of the undergrad chemistry program, and a total tool with a shameful past. Lydia is the girl Darwin is dating — and what a cold-hearted bitch she is!

The Cover
It’s hard to get past the block of yellow holding the title with the author’s name above it in yellow. Behind all that is a photographic image in black-and-white of a young couple, feverishly embracing.

The title is Kylie and Darwins’ lives when they Shatter into pieces.

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Book Review: Donna Andrews’ The Good, the Bad, and the Emus

by Kathy Davie

The Good, the Bad, and the Emus (Meg Lanslow, #17)The Good, the Bad, and the Emus by Donna Andrews
Series: Meg Langslow Mystery, 17
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Seventeenth in the too-funny Meg Langslow Mystery series. This one finds the family getting bigger and takes place outside of Caerphilly at Riverton.

My Take
Andrews continues with the fun, and I’m having a hankering for an emu egg for breakfast. Hmmm… Meg’s manipulations of everyone to keep the peace, send them down the path she prefers, or to get what she wants are hilarious. Thank god she manipulates for good. I do love how well Meg knows her kids and how much time and attention she gives them.

Then there’s Meg’s so-practical side. She’s an organizer, she understands people and their foibles, and she’s okay with them. My favorite example is when she sees her grandfather having a late-night “coffee” and suggests a good alternative that won’t bring unwanted advice, lol.

You can’t help loving the wide range of characters in this story. Not all the core characters appear in this one, but you’ll still love those who do. Dad doesn’t have as big a role as he usually does; he adores diving into mysteries and always sets up a portable MASH unit wherever he goes, and he doesn’t slack off in this one. We just don’t see that much of him. Lordy, Andrews cracked me up with descriptions of Natalie’s wardrobe! I especially loved Natalie’s decking out her tent and pith helmet to match her preferences!

Yeah, it’s lots of fun, and it is a sad one. The chance of finding a lost relative, the anger that it couldn’t have been the other one to die, and then the resolution, the realization, that the living still have so much to give. I kind of wish that Andrews had pulled at our heartstrings more with Dad’s reactions, but then I suppose that would cut into the humorous side of it. Meg and Annabel learn quite a bit about each other in this: Meg’s investigative experience and Annabel’s judicial knowledge. Both have an interest in mysteries. Seems to run in the family. Common sense seems to run in the family too, lol.

“A hunch is a deduction your subconscious has made from evidence you don’t yet know you have … all you need to do is bring the evidence up into your conscious mind.”

It’s a good example of why you should give people a chance to talk And the value of an open mind! It would have relieved some of the frustration!

You can’t help laughing (and being impressed!) by the turnout of Blake’s Brigade. A mention at dinner and too early the next morning finds dozens of people milling around in Annabel Lee’s back field. Sometimes I think it’s worth reading just for Blake’s “pronouncements” alone. He’s too funny in his ego. It’s even funnier when you have intelligent characters who enjoy laughing behind a raised hand and yet accept his egocentricities.

For a minute, I thought Meg wasn’t going to tell Annabel about that candy! The poisoning certainly makes things more tense — and funnier. Those letter wars sound rather vicious. I wish Andrews had provided some examples…

Oh, yes! That imagery Meg comes up with of Annabel as a dragon with her hoard and her castle…too funny!

I am curious about that vicious storm that came through and took down power lines for at least half the state and took down cell towers, and there’s never a mention of muddy ground. I want a storm like that. Seems a waste too of Jim Williams’ problems. Just a mention that could have been taken into the dramatic arena, but isn’t. And I think that bank should be investigated. Andrews never does provide the reason why Cordelia and Robert didn’t have children. It’s hinted that it was Cordelia’s fault, but never what it was. Why didn’t the cousins have a switch installed in the house? It doesn’t make sense.

At last! We find out why Annabel is such a recluse and even talks of resorting to a veil!

Lots of rustling in bushes, wrangling through the forest, wending through camera crews, and dodging murderous intent. It’s a sweet ending, exactly right, and yet it felt a bit flat. Ah well…

Saved by the emus!

The Story
Inattention puts paid to Meg’s initial plans for her summer vacation and works out beautifully for Stanley Denton. He needs to borrow Meg’s face for a few days for an investigation he’s doing for Dr. Blake.

It’s a trip that will have far-reaching consequences to the entire Langslow family, sad ones as Stanley found the target of his search six months too late. She’s dead. There is however a cousin who may part with memorabilia or at least let the family see it IF they solve Cordelia’s murder.

Rescuing the emus who were flushed out of the former Biscuit Mountain Ostrich and Emu Ranch years ago makes a good cover story.

The Characters
Meg Langslow normally works at a forge creating works of art in iron, but having twin rowdies has slowed that form of expression down. Her husband, Michael Waterston, is now a tenured professor of drama at Caerphilly College. The boys, Josh and Jamie, are four years old now and a hoot all over the place all the time with questions blasting out everywhere. Bodes well for their futures! Dr. James Langslow always claims he was found as a baby in the mystery section of the library, where the librarian adopted him. Rob is Meg’s brother (he mostly just gets a mention), and he’s brought his Irish Wolfhound, Tinkerbell, who’s friends with Spike, the Waterstons’ vicious purse dog. Rose Noire is Meg’s cousin, who’s heavily involved in the metaphysical. Mother also has a brief cameo. Natalie is Meg’s seventeen-year-old niece, sister Pam‘s youngest, who bravely took on the role of summer babysitter.

Camp Emu
Dr. Montgomery Blake is the famous zoologist who keeps showing up on Animal Planet and National Geographic. He’s also Dr. Langslow’s no-longer-long lost daddy. SPOOR is the Society to Preserve Our Owls and Raptors, a local bird conservation and appreciation group that turns out to help Blake’s endeavors. Caroline Willner is an old friend and runs the Willner Wildlife Sanctuary. She’s Blake’s second-in-command and has shown up in her new toy, a brightly painted gypsy caravan drawn by a placid Percheron.

Blake’s Brigade is a blend of the paid and volunteers and has everything: RVs, camera crews, a mess tent with private caterers, a shower tent, port-a-potties, eccentric air support, wranglers from both ends of the movable sector, and more. The blonde Valkyrie, Sherry S. Smith, is the photo-release Nazi! Jim Williams is a new recruit. Seth Early is one of the Waterstons’ neighbors, a sheep farmer, who has joined this expedition with his border collie, Lad. Thank god!! Meg reckons he’s here to be close to Rose Noire… The unfortunate Fred who likes a bit of Scotch with his coffee is going to miss most of this. Evan is a lazy slug but good for sitting around and guarding gates. Dr. Clarence Rutledge is Dr. Blake’s regular vet — the holistic biker one — and the leader of the Knights of the Iron Horse who will go up against the Knights of the Silver Spear led by Lady Joni of Langevoort. Millicent is knitting the ugliest sweaters, scarves, and leggings for the emus.

Cordelia Mason was Dr. Blake’s old college girlfriend whom he lost track of. Robert Mason is her late husband. Annabel Lee is the cousin who wants that murder solved. Uncle Moss and Aunt Morgana were Cordelia’s parents. Weaver bought their house. Dr. Dwight Ffollett, a dentist, is a good friend of Mrs. Mason and Miss Lee. Thor Larsen owes a great debt to the cousins and works at Larsen’s Auto Repair. He ends up helping quite a bit in this, and Dr. Blake takes quite the shine to the poor lad. Ann Murphy is the local librarian with a secret crush on Dr. Blake.

The nosy Theo Weaver is the nasty mean neighbor next door. You’ll love that story of the mulberry tree, lol. Chief Heedles inherited the office from her daddy, who thought the world of Weaver. Virgil Eaton owned the Biscuit Mountain Ostrich and Emu Ranch until it passed to his son, Hosmer. Smedlock Mining is one of the bad mining companies who prefer to spend the money on fast cars than on environmental controls. The emus were lured to Pudding Mountain.

The emus
Liz is the boss emu. John Stuart Mill is being fought over. Frances Hodgson Burnett, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Zora Neale Hurston, Hans Christian Anderson, Claire Boothe Luce, Lucy Maud Montgomery, John Quincy Adams, John Wilkes Booth, Howard Phillps Lovecraft, Agnes de Mille, and Edwin Way Teale are excellent escape artists. Edward Everett Horton is the smallest and can’t wait to go into captivity. It’s safer!

Stanley Denton is a private investigator who moved to Caerphilly in, I think, Some Like It Hawk , 14.

The ER
Crystal is a friend of Meg’s who’s put her and the family in her “frequent flyer” group. Dr. Gridwell is the ER duty doctor, and Dad’s opinion on him is still out. Bringing up Dad’s name is a surefire way to get hurried through…!

The Toad Wars is how Blake’s Brigade refers to one of their campaigns against a mining company to preserve a new species of toad. They weren’t poisonous, so they were named Anaxyrus willneri.

The Cover
The cover is too funny with its yellow background and flying carpet of green grass with three dressy emus pacing out. The first emu is wearing what could be Millicent’s pink scarf topped off with pink sunglasses and a hat (could be a pith helmet!) bedecked with a pink flower. The next emu in line is less fancy with a big pink bow over its eyes. But it’s that last emu that sums it up as he races by with some yellow crime scene tape, lol.

The title is a fun take-off on the Clint Eastwood movie, only justice will be found as Meg winnows through The Good, the Bad, and the Emus.

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Book Review: Lee Child’s Personal

by Kathy Davie

Personal (Jack Reacher 19)Personal by Lee Child
Series: Jack Reacher, 19
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nineteenth in the Jack Reacher thriller series revolving around a lone wolf, retired from the army and exploring his America.

A special thanks to NetGalley and Bantam Press for allowing me to enjoy this eARC.

My Take
Child knows how to pull a reader in. Of course, “knowing” Reacher, Child already has quite a bit set up for us ahead of time, lol. I do love “listening” to Reacher make his conclusions. His questions. His curiosity. His knowledge. Although…I don’t remember Reacher thinking about the Socratic method that much in previous books. Hmmm, maybe I need to start my re-read…

It’s part of what I love about Jack Reacher (and other stories/series of this ilk) is the intelligence and observation required. That ability to make deductions from the information gleaned, and to act on it. I know how little I observe around me — even though I want to think I see a lot. Just had a thought — shocking, I know *grin* — being Jack Reacher is similar to being an editor. Reacher knows so very much about how his world works — I’m thinking about his knowledge of snipers, guns, making one’s bones, the AK-47, government identification, and more — and an editor has to know about his or her world. The one of words, sentences, plots, and more. It’s a detailed knowledge, knowing the nuances of a word being used whether it’s correct for the time period, for expressing that thought in the story. Soooo, maybe we each have our own strengths of observation, lol.

Oh, crack me up. Yep, Reacher is unconventional if only because he thinks ahead, plotting out all the angles. After all, people are people with the same motivations, dreams, plans all over the world. We’re not so different from each other. It’s also human nature when he analyzes Nice’s motives and explains the difference between CIA and military. Some very excellent points there as well. There’s that intriguing look behind the EU politics with that bit about why the Polish and Greek governments are suddenly about to have elections.

“…if it’s some big terrorist statement … it’s probably not Italy. I mean, who would notice? Those guys change every three weeks anyway.”

Hmmm, Sherlock Homeless. An interesting nickname, and it certainly fits Reacher *grin*.

Oh, miaow!

“…you should take that washing machine out of the yard. I don’t think it’s compulsory.”

Yep, it sure was an interesting trip out to Arkansas, and it was amazing how much information Reacher pulled out of it. Of course, Kott did leave quite a bit of information. Enough that it would knock me back a few miles. Not feet…miles, or at least 1,400 yards.

LOL, that initial beginning in Paris…interesting to see how alike these handlers were *more laughter*. It was sweet too, Reacher taking the time to see his mother’s grave.

I wish Child had said why Nice has that nasty beat-up vehicle. What was her reasoning for it? Is it simply because it’s so outside the box? Is she gonna keep it? I hope we’ll see her again in future installments. Scarangello though, I’m not keen on making her acquaintance again. I didn’t care for her comment about Reacher being as bad as Kott. I don’t get where she’s coming from, especially when she’s CIA. I’d say, right off the bat, that she’s a more likely candidate way before Reacher!

There’s a lot of back history going on in this story. The AK-47 and the reason for its creation, which makes perfect sense. And how very sensible of the government (who knew a government could be sensible??) to plan for it. The behind-the-scenes details on how a G8 conference is choreographed. The fears behind it for the players.

There was one area in which Personal was completely unlike any previous Jack Reacher story. Tell me if you pick up on it!

Wow, that ending. It was something of an anticlimax, that betrayal, I had expected something completely different, yet this made so much sense. A shocking example of truth in human nature.

And, as Bennett says, “We didn’t rule the world by being nice.” And yes, I’d enjoy reading more about this character as well, lol.

The Story
It was a long-range shot at the French president that started it. Only a few snipers in the world were skilled enough. It’s the why behind the U.S.’s concern about the attempted assassination that has Reacher curious.

It soon turns out that they want Reacher out there as bait. After all, the American sniper they suspect wants Reacher dead, so…

Then comes London and two very angry gangs, which MI5 is likely to be very pleased about.

The Characters
Jack Reacher has been retired from the army for years and spent that time roaming America, but the army hasn’t forgotten him. And Reacher realizes ruefully, that he’s much too predictable. Dominique Kohl was one of Reacher’s failures, at least in his own mind.

In North Carolina
Casey Nice is assigned through the State Department; she’s actually CIA. Antonio Luna is a very good friend of Casey’s. Joan Scarangello is also CIA, older, deputy to the deputy director of operations. She knew Joe Reacher and tries to use that.

Brigadier General Rick Shoemaker is second-in-command to General Tom O’Day.

In France
Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure is the French version of the CIA.

In London
Karel Libor was a big-deal Albanian gang leader. Wallace Court is where they intend to hold the G8 conference. The Romford Boys are led by Charlie White with his lieutenants: Tommy Miller, Billy Thompson, and the real “power behind the throne”, the enforcer, Little Joey Green, a real brute of a man. He’s enough to scare Nice off her crutches. Gary is one of Little Joey’s team leaders. GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) is the British version of the NSA.

The suspected snipers
John Kott was originally from Arkansas and was snapped up for sniper school. He was incapable of distinguishing between real life and the battlefield. William Carson is an ex-SAS operator with 50+ kills to his name, at some incredible distances. Fyodor Datsev is the Russian, ex-KGB. Rozan is the Israeli, and the best they ever saw with a fifty-caliber Barrett.

Yevgeniy Khenkin is Sluzhba Vneshgney Razvedki, or as Yevgeniy says “KGB really, old wine, new bottles”. He was Datsev’s handler back in the day. Bennett is the English representative with an interesting character. Very stereotypical English in fact. He could be MI6, he can be anyone you want, it’s all pretty fluid at the moment, lol.

The Cover
The cover is shades of gray — how appropriate! — with a lone man standing on a deserted road leading to the Capitol building. One man facing down government.

The title is what this is for Reacher, Personal.

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Word Confusion: Knew versus New

by Kathy Davie

This particular confusion is fairly close in how it’s spelled, well, considering you need to add a k, that is. New is all around us, in context, as a word denoting new this, new that. New ingredients, new products, new this year.

I knew that people confused words, but with this proliferation of new everything and anything, I find it difficult to understand how anyone cannot know the difference between these two words.

It’s an evolving list, these Word Confusions, and sometimes I run across an example that helps explain better. If you’d like to track it, “Knew versus New” can also be found on my website. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Knew New
Credit to: Apple

Image by Cayuga Pictures / Robertson-Cole [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ad for the American film If Women Only Knew (1921) with Robert Gordon and Virginia Lee (1901 – 1996), from page 10 of the May 8, 1921 Film Daily.

Image by Neji (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Part of Grammar:
Past tense of know

Verb; Verb, intransitive & transitive

Present tense: know
Past participle: known


Also, newer, newest

Adverb; Noun

Be aware of through observation, inquiry, or information

Verb, intransitive:
Have knowledge or information concerning

Verb, transitive:
Have knowledge or information concerning

  • Be absolutely certain or sure about something
  • Have developed a relationship with someone through meeting and spending time with them
  • Be familiar or friendly with
  • Have a good command of a subject or language
  • Recognize someone or something
  • Be familiar or acquainted with something
  • Have personal experience of an emotion or situation
  • [Usually, be known as] Regard or perceive as having a specified characteristic
  • [Usually, be known as] Give someone or something a particular name or title
  • [Know someone/something from] Be able to distinguish one person or thing from another

[Archaic] Have sexual intercourse with someone 1

Not existing before

Made, introduced, or discovered recently or now for the first time

  • Not previously used or owned
  • Of recent origin or arrival
  • [Of food or drink] Freshly or recently produced
  • [Of vegetables] Dug or harvested early in the season

Already existing but seen, experienced, or acquired recently or now for the first time

  • [New to] Unfamiliar or strange to someone
  • [New to/at; of a person] Inexperienced at or unaccustomed to doing something
  • Different from a recent previous one
  • In addition to another or others already existing
  • [In place names] Discovered or founded later than and named after

Just beginning or beginning anew and regarded as better than what went before

  • [Of a person] Reinvigorated or restored
  • Superseding another or others of the same kind, and advanced in method or theory
  • Reviving another or others of the same kind

Anew, afresh (often used in combination)

Something that is new

A new object, quality, condition, etc.

I knew about the birds.

Verb, intransitive:
He knew of our new instructions.

Verb, transitive:
I knew she was going to be late.

Oh, yeah, he knew her all right.

new crop varieties

This tendency is not new.

A secondhand bus cost a fraction of a new one.

a new baby

new potatoes

Come see Marty’s new bike.

a way of living that was new to me

I’m quite new to gardening.

I have a new assistant.

This would be her new home.

recruiting new pilots overseas.

New York

starting a new life

the new South Africa

A bottle of pills would make him a new man.

the new architecture

the New Bohemians

[Usually in combination with a hyphen]

new-mown hay

new-fallen snow

The valley was green with new-planted crops.

roses new washed with dew

A fascinating mix of the old and the new.

Ring out the old, ring in the new.

History of the Word:
Old English cnāwan (earlier gecnāwan) meaning recognize, identify and of Germanic origin.

From an Indo-European root shared by Latin (g)noscere and Greek gignōskein.

1 Hebraism that has passed into modern languages.
Compare with German erkennen and the French connaître.

Before 900

Old English nīwe, nēowe, of Germanic origin.

It’s related to Dutch nieuw and German neu from an Indo-European root shared by Sanskrit nava, Latin novus, and Greek neos, all meaning new.

Middle English newe

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

Kathy Davie is an author, educator, and artist with a BS in Technical Writing & Editing with minors in Digital Media and History from Metropolitan State College in Denver, Colorado.

She is the author of the arts marketing series, Your Portfolio & You, aimed at helping artists survive (and thrive) at the business of being an artist and include Accounting for the SMALL Businessperson, How Copyright Applies to the Artist, the Buyer, the Employer/e, the Sold Artwork, Dealing with Photographs, Slides, Digital Images, and Surviving the Outdoor Arts Festival.

A huge believer in knowledge being power, Kathy has begun a free set of Author Tools for authors interested in self-editing including an online tutorial in Using Microsoft Word’s Markup Tool, words commonly confused by authors and Punctuation and Formatting Tips.

Contact Kathy for various writing and editing services or explore her artwork.

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Book Review: Robin Hobb’s Fool’s Assassin

by Kathy Davie

Fool's Assassin (The Fitz and The Fool Trilogy, #1)Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb
Series: The Fitz and the Fool Trilogy, 1
            Realms of the Elderlings, 7
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First in The Fitz and the Fool Trilogy, itself a subseries within the Realms of the Elderlings in which it falls seventh — my best guess! The first trilogy is the Farseer Trilogy and the second is Tawny Man, followed by this story.

A special thanks to NetGalley and Harper Voyager for providing me this eARC which I enjoyed so thoroughly.

My Take
This was such a soft, easy, and cozy read for most of the story. It’s such a lovely life with bits of conflict inserted here and there until it suddenly culminates in one major conflict after another, ending so suddenly with the worst. And yet, when I go over my notes, it’s not really that cozy or soft. I think my impression came from all the reminiscing that Fitz does, from the comfortable life he and Molly have at Withywoods. There’s so much love and joy at the start of this that you can’t help but feel that comfortable sweetness.

That reminiscence is a huge and detailed past with tons of intrigue, suspense, and danger hinted at within the story — and I have got to go back and start at the beginning with Assassin’s Apprentice, Farseer 1.

And that’s one of my niggles with this story. Hobb has us slipping along in our cozy comfort, crying here, laughing there, building, slowly building the intensity until she suddenly kicks us off the cliff we didn’t know was there. Of course, it could also be my anger at the way in which Hobb left us, dangling from that cliff with a slippery, thin, and fraying thread.

“We live in our bodies. An assault on that outside fortress of the mind leaves scars that may not show, but never heal.”

An old friend has been trying to contact Fitz, Molly believes she’s pregnant — for several years, former coworkers are pressuring Fitz to return to his profession, but Fitz is too comfortable with his easy life. It takes a drastic event for him to realize how easy that life had been. A sadness that hits Fitz first and then Bee as they come to realize how very much Molly took care of them.

Writing has a big part in this story, for Fitz is either copying scrolls or writing about his own past on a nightly basis. His biography started as a history of the Six Duchies, but it evolved and changed perspective as Fitz matured. There’s one section in which Fitz speaks with Chade about why he writes, and I believe writers would find it of interest.

“If a few students come reluctantly to their studies, let them go. If all students come reluctantly to their studies, then let your scribe be dismissed and find another. For once students have been taught that learning is tedious, difficult, and useless, they will never learn another lesson.”

It’s also full of people who can hear nothing but what they want to hear. Nettle with her demands that Bee come to Buckkeep and be warehoused because she’s so stupid, despite what her mother has been telling her over the years. Despite what Fitz tries to tell her. There’s the ill-mannered Shun and FitzVigilant who don’t understand their true positions, the debt they owe Fitz when they tear at Bee. And, heck, ill-mannered is a very mild epithet I toss at these two jerks. FitzVigilant at least has been to court and should have a much better idea of proper behavior, especially at table.

I’m not very happy with Fitz either. He should be leaping in much sooner to support his daughter. He should respect her intelligence. God knows he’s talks about it enough. He claims he can care for Bee, but at every stand, he proves he can’t. He loves her. He loves her very much. And he is supposedly this great spy who notices everything. Everything but how unhappy his daughter is. Supposedly he’s intelligent, but he doesn’t apply that intellect to his daughter. Lastly, there’s his leaping in to attack without knowing what’s going on.

Ah, it’s so sad when Fitz tries to play a game with his daughter. When we learn this is the only kind of game he knows, and he believes he’s failed. Again. And so much sadder still when Bee is nine and she’s with her mother in the lavender garden. Oh, god, I cried and cried. It was so unfair.

You’d expect that the ending, as horrible as it is, would be the worst to happen, but it’s not. Not really. It’s that expected death that hurts the most.

The Story
It’s been a long haul for Fitz to finally have what he’s always desired: Molly. Now he revels in his Molly, in the Winterfest party Molly adores. Meanwhile, the messenger is abandoned. To her fate, it seems, as three erstwhile musicians wander the party. Incidents at the party which are merely a forewarning of what is to come.

Yet another shock is Molly’s announcement of her pregnancy, a years-long one. Fitz can only regret the fading of her mind. Until that is, the baby is born but doesn’t seem to thrive. And fear chills Fitz’s heart for he worries what the Farseer royals will expect of his child, more than he would want her to bear.

It isn’t often that Fitz leaves Withywoods: he accompanies the former queen to her father’s funeral, confronts Chade about the assassin he sends to Fitz’s home, in between he regrets and adores his teeny daughter, and he will protect her with everything he has. His daughter, the Bee who refuses to let him touch her, who follows her mother everywhere, who does not speak.

It’s Bee who warns him of the butterfly man, and Fitz finds the messenger from the Fool. The dying messenger with the warning of the son. It’s Bee who helps the crippled and blind beggar at Oaksbywater, an action that may well result in death. But before that knife falls, both Bee and the beggar can see so much more clearly . . . Bee sees a myriad of paths into the future while the blind man, well, the blind man can see again, but only briefly until his assassin strikes.

The Characters
FitzChivalry Farseer * is now known as Holder Tom Badgerlock, and he and his lovely wife of eight years, Lady Molly Redskirts, live at Withywoods, a beautiful estate that serves so many. Fitz had been Wit-bonded to Nighteyes until the wolf died. Lady Patience is Fitz’s stepmother and the widow of Prince Chivalry, Fitz’s father who died in a riding “accident”. Nettle is Molly’s oldest, a daughter. She’s also Fitz’s true daughter and a Skillmistress whose strongest talent is Skill-manipulation of dreams who spends most of her time in Buckkeep Castle working for King Dutiful. A spy insinuated into the house, Riddle used to be the house steward until he and Nettle fell in love. Molly’s six sons include Chivalry who is building a fine horse breeding operation; Swift with his Wit-bond with a bird; Nimble; Steady who is part of the king’s Skill-coterie, able to lend Strength; Just (he’s barely 20); and, Hearth (he’s 17). Burrich had been Molly’s first husband and father to the boys. The famous minstrel, Hap Gladheart, was an eight-year-old orphan when Fitz took him in. Bee is their late-in-life baby. Stripy is the hunting cat who will clear the corridors for Bee.

Withywoods staff
Revel is the new steward who was trained by Riddle; Dixon is Revel’s right hand. Tallman is the stablemaster; Tallerman is his son. Perseverance “Per” is Dapple’s groom and exercise boy; one day he’ll be Tallestman as he’s Tallman’s grandson. (Dapple’s name soon changes to “Priss” to reflect her nature.) Shepherd Lin is in charge of the sheep; Daisy is his dog while Boj is his son. Nutmeg is the cook. Mild is Cook’s daughter. Tavia. Elm and Lea are scullery maids; Taffy is the kitchen lad. Opal and Pansy are new kitchen maids while Cor and Jet are the new footmen. Careful will become Bee’s maid — at last! Shaky Amos is mostly retired although he is given tasks from time to time. Bulen is assigned to FitzVigilant as his servant.

Per, Elm, Lea, and Taffy will be among the estate children being taught with more attendees including Lukor, Ready, and Oatil who are also from the stables; Spruce; Larkspur is the gardener’s boy; and, several others.

Lord Chade Fallstar is the king’s spymaster, an old assassin turned adviser, and Fitz’s great uncle and mentor. Thick is a simpleton but highly and strongly Skilled. Lady Rosemary is Chade’s current apprentice; a spy chosen by Prince Regal from the beginning. Shun is another apprentice of Chade’s. A cocky, conceited, ill-mannered one who thinks too much of herself. Quiver tried to teach her while Rono died for her.

Kettricken is the former Queen of the Six Duchies, King Verity’s widow, and King Dutiful‘s mother; Dutiful is the third Farseer king Fitz has served. Courser is the name of Dutiful’s dog. Dutiful’s wife, Queen Elliania, is of a matrilineal people and spends much time taking their sons, Prosper and Integrity, to visit her mothershouse. King Eyod of the Mountains is Kettricken’s father, and she is the heir to his throne with Dutiful in line after her.

The Fool whom Fitz called Beloved is the White Prophet whom Fitz hasn’t seen in 10 – 15 years. He also masqueraded as Lord Golden, a jester for King Shrewd. Garetha was a gardener’s maid while Laurel was a Witted huntswoman, and Jofron, a toymaker in the Mountains, is another possibility. Prilkop was the Black Man who had been the Fool’s traveling companion; he is an example of a White Prophet who lives long.

Lant FitzVigilant is the apprentice assassin they send with Kettricken to invade Bee’s nursery. Later he will be sent to Withywoods as Bee’s tutor to keep him safe. At one point, Kettricken’s entourage includes Lady Solace, a healer, and her husband, Lord Diggory, and Lord Stoutheart with his wife, Lady Hope.

Web is a Witmaster who is bonded with a gull, Risk. Pacer is the cobbler. Jeruby is the boy Fitz orders to drive the cart of puppies to Withywoods. Rube is to clean up the head.

The Wit is a despised magic as it bonds with animals. The Skill is a collection of hereditary talents that often manifests in the Farseer line of kings and queens. Forged is a state in which a man is stripped of his humanity and they love only themselves. It had been a dark magic used by the Pale Woman and her captain, Kebal Rawbread. The Six Duchies are six kingdoms now united under one king. Oaksbywater is the largest market town close to Withywoods Manor. The stone portals, the Witness Stones, are a magical transporting device that can’t be used too often and only be used by someone with Skill. A King’s Man must have a close affinity to the one he serves and lend his strength when they require it.

El is a sea god while Eda is the goddess of farmlands and pastures. Sa is the two-faced and double-gendered god of Jamaillia.

A White Prophet is born in every third or fourth generation with a gift of prescience and ability to influence the course of the world. The Servants of the Archives located on the Pale Isle were once those who served the White Prophet folk.

FitzChivalry Farseer is technically dead. His genealogy, origins??, are so confusing. When he was “alive”, he was the bastard grandson, nephew, and cousin to kings — a firstborn son of an abdicated king which would be Prince Chivalry. His mother was Hyacinth Fallstar who became a foot soldier for Duchess Able of Farrow. When she became pregnant, she returned to her farm and took a husband, Rogan Hardhands, who did not like his stepson, Keppet, but supported Hyacinth in having him educated. The Fool thinks Fitz is the Catalyst, the Unexpected Son, who would save the world.

The Cover
The cover is a golden textured background with an assassin’s banner flying on a long spear-topped pole, two swords crossing on a royal blue background. The “F” in the title is embraced by an open “window” that shows us a blue sky and a building in the background with a bee flying above the “window”.

The title is exact as the Fool’s Assassin almost kills him.

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Book Review: Åsa Larsson’s Sun Storm

by Kathy Davie

Sun Storm (Rebecka Martinsson, #1)Sun Storm by Åsa Larsson
Series: Rebecka Martinsson, 1
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First in the Rebecka Martinsson mystery series and revolving around a Stockholm lawyer in a personal crisis.

It won the 2003 Swedish Crime Writers’ Association Prize for best debut novel.

My Take
It starts out very spookily as we read of the victim calmly embracing his death, and Larsson builds the tension with hints of past troubles, of religious issues, and parental abuse.

There’s a past here, a history that Rebecka has with the church. I’ll admit to a prejudice against organized religion, so that colors what I think. The Catholic priests who abuse children and others, the preachers who abuse the trust of their congregation, and it’s here in this story as well. The so-called Christianity that flies out the window as soon as desire rises up. Whether that desire is for power, money, lust, or fear.

I’ve also got a built-in prejudice against von Post since I first encountered Larsson in her fifth book in this series, The Second Deadly Sin. He is the most incredibly disgusting jerk, and it’s too much fun to read how disrespected he is, lol.

Jeez, Måns is something of a jerk. Pulling her client out from under Rebecka. I’m not impressed with Sanna either. She wants so badly to keep her daughters and yet hasn’t a clue or doesn’t care enough to take care of them. She’s such a weaselly immature, self-obsessed wimp! And she plays Rebecka like a virtuoso. I hate her passive-aggressive attacks on Rebecka. I just wanna smack her around. Then there are Sanna’s parents. What a piece of work that father is! And there’s some history they have against Rebecka too.

Does this sound familiar?

“Weak people are often drawn to the church. And people who want power over weak people are also drawn there.”

Sivving is an interesting character. He’s warm and yet odd about how he lives in his house, an across-the-road neighbor to the older Martinssons. He has some lovely stories about her grandparents. About her grandfather Albert and his courtship of Theresia, how she won Albert’s father’s (Eric’s) heart.

The one problem I have with this story is Måns’ interest in Rebecka. Larsson never makes this believable. In ANY way. As for Rebecka’s acceptance…*eye roll*…gotta be that Scandinavian negativity. I dunno.

I love Larsson’s style. It’s warm, cozy, and full of personalities. When you add in what we learn about Swedish culture and how different the police operate in Sweden, it simply becomes more fascinating, and Larsson keeps things much too interesting.

The Story
Having found her dead brother, Sanna Strandgård is terrified and begs Rebecka to come home, to represent her. To protect her children from her parents.

It was Viktor’s death and revival that resurrected the churches around Kiruna, that revived the faith of the people. It was the church’s success that doomed the pastors’ families.

It had been Rebecka’s love for God that sent her down the path to ruin.

The Characters
Rebecka Martinsson is a lawyer who specializes in tax law, working for Meijer & Ditzinger. She’s inherited a share in her grandmother’s house in Kurravaara, fifteen kilometers outside Kiruna. Uncle Affe and Inga-Lill hold the other share. Eric “Sivving” Fjällborg is her retired neighbor; Bella is his pointer bitch. Lena and Mats are his children; his wife, Maj-Lis died a few years ago. Mary Kuoppa keeps him in buns.

Meijer & Ditzinger, the law firm
Måns Wenngren is Rebecka’s boss, a lawyer, and a partner with the law firm. He’s also divorced with two sons, Johanne and Calle, and drinks too much. Madelene is his now ex-wife. Maria Taube is a fellow tax lawyer and friend. Sonia Berg is one of the secretaries.

Law enforcement in Kiruna
Inspector Anna-Maria Mella is usually team leader — when she’s not being heavily pregnant; Inspector Sven-Erik Stålnacke is her partner and is supposed to be taking over during her leave. He also has a cat, Manne. Sergeant Tommy Rantakyrö and Inspector Fred Olsson are part of her team. Sonja works the switchboard.

Simon Larsson is a crime scene photographer. The senior medical examiner is Lars Pohjanen; Anna Granlund is the autopsy technician.

Assistant Chief Prosecutor Carl von Post has a problem with women in authority, heck, he just has a problem with women. He’s an incompetent, attention-seeking jerk with delusions of competence. And the Swedish system appears to require a prosecutor to head investigative teams.

Robert is Anna-Maria’s husband and their children include Petter and Marcus.

Viktor Strandgård, a.k.a., the Paradise Boy, is a well-known religious leader in Kiruna, mostly because he died and came back with a full report on life after death. His experience united three separate churches into one: The Source of All Our Strength. Sanna Strandgård is his sister. Sara and Lova are her daughters. Virku is their dog. Ronny Björnström is Sara’s father; Sammy Andersson is Lova’s. The Strandgård siblings’ father, Olof, is abusive and a local politician with sway. Kristina is the cowed wife.

The church, The Source of All Our Strength
There are three pastors of the church: Thomas Söderberg was a pastor with the Mission Church; Gunnar Isaksson; and, Vesa Larsson, a former artist. Below them are five elders including Frans Zachrisson and Alf Hedman. Curt Bäckström is a hanger-on at the church and one of Sanna’s admirers. Patrik Mattsson knows something. Ann-Gull Kyrö is the pastors’ secretary.

Thomas is married to Maja; Magdalena is her sister. They have two daughters: Rakel and Anna.

Gunnar is married to Karin, and they have a daughter, Anna, and a son, Andreas. Astrid is Vesa’s wife. Baloo is her undisciplined dog.

Victory Print is the publishing company printing the books, pamphlets, and videotapes the Church sells.

It was in Margareta Fransson‘s Religious Studies class that Nina Eriksson spoke up. It resulted in Viktor, Sanna, and Rebecka being part of the eleven at the Mission bible camp.

The media
Anders Grape is with Radio Sweden. Lena Westerberg is with TV3.

The Cover
The cover is bright with snow and bare trees caught up in the haze. Somehow, splotches of footprints trail off into the distance through the sky.

I have no idea about the title, Sun Storm, unless it’s, possibly, a reference to Jesus as the Son of God and a storm is raging over this church.

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Book Review: Åsa Larsson’s Blood Spilt

by Kathy Davie

The Blood Spilt (Rebecka Martinsson, #2)The Blood Spilt by Åsa Larsson
Series: Rebecka Martinsson, 2
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Second in the Rebecka Martinsson mystery series set in Sweden in and around Kiruna.

My Take
Larsson has put a definite twist on the mystery, creating both a cozy story and an in-depth look at everyday Swedish culture with The Blood Spilt similar to Sun Storm, 1, in that again, priests are dying around Kiruna. It did take a bit before I realized that the first chapter was the murder happening. There was a surreal quality to it and yet it played to the basics of the people in this area.

Business is really different in Sweden. Rebecka is unable to work, and her office keeps insisting she take time off. Can you see that happening in the States? Hah! Of course it does help that her aid in Sun Storm has brought the firm a lot of good publicity — and clients.

Between the first story, Sun Storm, and the fifth, The Second Deadly Sin, I know that Rebecka keeps returning to Kiruna, but she also had a relationship with Måns, which still hasn’t developed. If anything it’s still adversarial. So, on to the Kiruna side and how Larsson brings Rebecka, who’s based in Stockholm, back to Kiruna and make it believable. And she does. Make it believable.

Speaking of which, you get the sense of the Swedish being very modern as well as being old-fashioned with their interest in traditions, their obsession with berry picking, hunting, and fishing. Basic, back-to-earth interests that must still be concerned with tax laws, employment rulings, and how the police work.

One difference — and it provides a reason for returning — is that the Swedish church has only recently separated from the government, and this has offered all sorts of opportunities for tax lawyers as well as problems of which they won’t be aware.

As much as I enjoy the wolf sequence, I’m not sure what the point is. Sure it’s a laudable effort on Mildred’s part to want to preserve the wolves, but why is it here? What is the connection that I’m missing?

We learn a tiny bit more about Rebecka’s mother. As for Lisa’s actions, it takes too long for me to understand, and I had no idea that she missed Mildred that much. It’ just heartbreaking.

Something horrible must have happened in Mildred’s past that she’s so vehement about protecting women. Her murder certainly does provide opportunities for her fellow priests to look back and consider their stances anew. Their reactions are certainly interesting, honest.

The real controversy here are the issues revolving around Mildred: the unfairness of the very cheap hunting lease, the embezzlement of the wolf fund, Mildred’s affair, Wikström’s personal and moral problems, Bertil’s sudden regrets, Kristin’s escalation of attack, and another’s perception of the “attacks” Mildred was making against them.

It’s a look at how marginalized women still are and male attitudes even in such a liberated country as Sweden. Forward thinking versus traditionalism. It’s psychological in examining the people involved from Rebecka’s PTSD to Lisa to Lars-Gunnar to Mildred to Micke to the “Christianity” of the priests to the blessing of Nalle. How Mildred made me take a second look at him, to appreciate him. It’s another look at Anna-Maria and how her family grounds her. You won’t regret reading this. It’s very definitely a buy series if you like good writing, a cozy quality, and a chance to live in another culture.

The Story
It’s Pia who finds Mildred, a restless sleep with a sudden inspiration that takes her to Jukkasjärvi church. Meanwhile, Rebecka is hesitant about this office picnic. She’s not ready to be around people. Luckily Måns is abrasive enough that his dare spurs Rebecka into accompanying Torsten on a pitch to a church group that will include Jukkasjärvi, Vittangi, and Karesuando.

Rebecka is sliding into the community. Taking Nalle about with her. Working as a waitress at Micke’s Café. There when another priest disappears.

The Characters
A tax lawyer off on disability, Rebecka Martinsson is a mess since Sun Storm. I think she mostly grew up with her grandmother in Kurravarra. Now Rebecka owns a share in the house along with her Uncle Affe and Aunt Inga-Lill. Sivving is still a neighbor there; Bella is his pointer bitch who’s had puppies which gives Nalle a thrill. Lena is Sivving’s daughter.

The law office is Meijer & Ditzinger in Stockholm
Måns Wenngren is Rebecka’s boss; Madelene is his ex-wife. Maria Taube is a fellow lawyer and Rebecka’s friend. Tthe partners include Erik Rydén, Ulla Carle is one of the firm’s two female partners, and Torsten Karlsson who suggests Rebecka stay in his cottage. Petra Wilhelmsson is a new hire along with Johan Grill, gawkers. Krister Ahlberg is a criminal lawyer. Meijer & Ditzinger is working on a new project with the Jansson Group Auditors.

Kiruna PD
Inspector Sven-Erik Stålnacke still doesn’t have Anna-Maria back from maternity leave, and he’s missing her. Divorced, he lives alone except for his cat, Manne who’s missing. Inspector Anna-Maria Mella is the team leader; she’s had a little boy, Gustav. Robert is her husband. Her other children include Jenny, Petter, and Marcus. Hanna is Marcus’ girlfriend. Sonja still works the exchange.

Other members of the team include Fred Olsson who is good at research and Tommy Rantakyrö. Alf Björnfot is the chief prosecutor. Christer Elsner is a professor of the history of religion. Ah-ha, this is the story when the unsociable Inspector Krister Eriksson makes his appearance. He’s a tracker and Tintin is his dog these days. Zack was the dog he had five years ago. Anna Granlund is an autopsy technician; Lars Pohjanen is the senior police surgeon. He had lung cancer a few years ago.

Mildred Nilsson is their priest, a very active and controversial one helping the women and children in the parish. Erik Nilsson is Mildred’s husband, a house husband who takes care of the cleaning and cooking. He loves her, and I’m not sure about her. The church wants him out of the house in Poikkijärvi. Mikael Berg is the rural dean and responsible for personnel issues.

Stefan Wikström is a priest as well. His wife, Kristin, is not satisfactory. Benjamin is their oldest and angry son. Bertil Stensson is the parish priest, the one in charge. Pia Svonni is a churchwarden. Mankan Kyrö is also a churchwarden more interested in an easier life. Torbjörn Ylitalo is the church’s forest warden and chairman of the hunting club.

Lisa Stöckel chairs the Magdalena, a women’s group organized by Mildred that does practical things to help women. She’s not really the person for this position, although her day job as a debt counselor and budgeting advisor come in handy. Mimmi is Lisa’s daughter. Tommy was her husband until she divorced him. And Lisa prefers her dogs: Majken, Bruno, Karelin, and Sicky-Morris. Magnus Lindmark hated Mildred and the Magdalena for enticing his wife, Anki, away from him along with his children. And from the sound of him, I suspect she’ll live a lot longer.

Majvor Kangas is one of the women in the Magdalena. Annette is the vet.

The café
Mimmi is waitress and cook and Micke’s lover. Micke Kiviniemi owns the bar and café, and he is careful of her, worried she’ll up and leave. Malte Alajärvi is one of the regulars. Nalle is slow-witted due to an inflammation of the brain as a toddler; his father is Lars-Gunnar Vinsa, a retired policeman who leads the hunt on the church land. His wife, Eva, left him, and he brought her back when she was ill with cancer. Lisa is his cousin. Lars-Gunnar’s father, Isak, was terribly abusive.

The wolf pack
I think Yellow Legs is the one Mildred is interested in. Her half-sister is the alpha female.

Catching up…
Seems the whole Strandgård family (Olof, Kristina, and Sanna) moved, took the girls, Sara and Lova, away.

The Cover
The cover is a black-and-white image of a snowscape before a narrow waterway with trees gathered on both sides and one in the front. A footpath leads to the lake, a snow fence creates a barrier along it and separates the grasses around the lake with a hint of pink to it all. A suggestion of the aurora borealis, perhaps?

The title finds The Blood Spilt everywhere, physically and metaphorically.

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Book Review: C.E. Murphy’s Mountain Echoes

by Kathy Davie

Mountain Echoes (Walker Papers, #8)Mountain Echoes by C.E. Murphy
Series: Walker Papers, 8
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Eighth in the Walker Papers urban fantasy series about a former Seattle cop who has been learning the ropes as a mage/shaman and battling Irish goddesses — some of whom are family!

My Take
Whoa…! It’s gotta be old home week for Joanne these days. In Raven Calls, 7, it was a family reunion with her mom’s side of the family. This time around, we’re finding out more about Dad and his background. One that Joanne comes to regret for all her lost opportunities as she learns the truth behind their nomadic travels, the truth to why her dad called her Jo.

Poor Jo. Most of the previous stories have found her learning that she missed a lot as she was growing up, mostly due to the chip she’s been hauling around on her shoulder. And Mountain Echoes is no different; it’s merely exploring a different angle of Jo’s past. I thought what Joanne learned about her mother and her maternal side of the family was pretty intense, and in my opinion, it’s got nothing on what Jo learns here about her father. If only because she spent most of her life around her dad.

On the positive side, each story has found Jo learning more and more, gaining in strength, power, and knowledge, preparing her for each story as it arrives. She’ll need everything she’s learned…and will learn more in this one. The one lesson she never seems to learn is to stay prepared beyond the end. I also enjoy Jo’s real approach to her shamanism. She may be a late learner but she’s also a grateful one who leaves the ceremony at the door. And sometimes taking too long to learn can be detrimental to your health.

It’s also a treat for Jo to be in a town where people simply accept what she is and what she can do without question. Of course, there always has to be a negative, and the town may accept that her abilities are natural, but they sure aren’t accepting Jo.

And thank god Jo finally gave it back to that stupid, jealous bitch, Sara. Her husband is missing and this is what she chooses to focus on?? Nor can I believe that Sara is that insecure about her husband. I’m with Jo on this one, silly cow. I know I should feel bad for how Sara is treated; the reasons she’s shunned now are wrong. I’d shun the twit for how she behaved all those years ago and how she behaves toward Jo now.

Lol, I did enjoy Lester’s perspective on the former stoner now being a cop! I did like him. Too bad Michael shows up. Well, for Lester anyway. Ya gotta love Michael Morrison if only for how accepting and supportive he is of such a metaphysical area. I’m disappointed that Shaman Rises, 9, will be the last in this series, I’ve enjoyed the characters. And wait’ll ya read what Morrison gets up to in this story! Omigod, you may possibly pee your pants laughing. What a turnabout!

As Murphy points out, it’s The Neverending Story out there where Lucas and Jo’s dad have disappeared into the great nothingness. It makes sense as well when Jo so quickly realizes what’s causing the mountains to scream, what’s sending the despair radiating out. And the despair deepens as Jo discovers what this despair is tied to, the history, the past of all Native American peoples.

Fun reference to Dr. Who as well as a reference back to our teen years when we made out in cars, lol.

Ooh, that sexual visual Jo has of Morrison cross country.

The Story
She hasn’t recovered from the battle with the Morrigan and the Master when she gets an emergency call from her father’s people, specifi c ally from her high school nemesis: . Seems her dad and her baby daddy are missing.

Healer, savior, killer. Will the real Joanne Walkingstick stand up?

It’s a battle against pure Evil…

The Characters
Joanne Walker, aka, Siobhán Walkingstick, is half-Irish and half-Cherokee and a shaman, but no longer a detective on the Seattle PD. Morrison is quite pleased about this! Her spirit guides are Raven who guides Jo between life and death; Rattler provides healing, fighting, speed, and shapeshifting while Renee, the walkingstick, is timeless. Petite is Jo’s “beloved 1969 Boss 302 Mustang” that she’s been restoring for years.

Gary Muldoon is her seventy-four-year-old best friend, a taxi driver, her companion in this whole new shamanic world of Jo’s, and he carries a totem spirit, a tortoise. His late wife was Annie.

Coyote gets a cry for help in this, and big Coyote shows up as well. Captain Michael Morrison is Jo’s former boss and now her intended lover — they haven’t had a chance to hook up yet! Sheila MacNamara was her mother who gave herself over and over into death to protect her daughter.

Special Agent Sara Buchanan Isaac had been Jo’s best friend in high school until Jo took Sara’s statement too literally. Lucas Isaac is Sara’s husband, and Joanne’s children’s father. Oopsies.

Qualla Boundary, Cherokee Reservation, North Carolina
The Qualla Boundary is where Joanne spent her high school years. Cherokee County Sheriff Lester Lee was the high school troublemaker, and it seems he had a crush on Joanne back in the day. Carrie Little Turtle is Lester’s grandmother and was one of the three elders who gave Joanne her drum; she’s married to an older Lester. Daniel Little Turtle is another grandson and very belligerent.

Ada Monroe adopted Aidan Monroe, Jo’s surviving twin son, a very powerful boy oozing with contempt for his birth mother. Yep, he’s his mother’s son all right.

The Master is an evil godlike being whom Joanne has been battling, or rather, whose minions she’s been battling for months now. Before Joanne, it was her mother. The Executioner is a product of the Nothing. His wights besiege the mountain.

The Lower World is “where the Native peoples of America were born”.

The Cover
The cover is kinda painful. It’s a beautiful background of purples and greens of the Carolina forests, but I’m exhausted looking at the tank-top-clad Jo in her jeans as she appears to hover in a reclined position over a tree trunk — with nothing supporting her back.

The title is a result of the mountain screaming for the Mountain Echoes the atrocities.

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Book Review: Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch

by Kathy Davie

Rum PunchRum Punch by Elmore Leonard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A crime novel involving gun running and smuggling in Florida.

My Take
It has parallels with Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series in its easy, laid back style while it’s casually violent on the criminal side. On the cop side, they’re also easy and laid back and good with laying it on thick. I would like to know who snitched about the money Jackie’s bringing in.

“She said, ‘That man works? Has a job?’

‘He’s a bail bondsman.’

‘I wondered,’ Simone said, ‘”cause he don’t know shit about robbing people.'”

Jackie is somethin’ else; she’s smart, she’s good. She plays it cool in jail, with Ordell, and with Max as she comes up with plans to jack everyone. Max certainly wonders until he decides not to sweat it.

Poor Louis. He tries to rob a liquor store, and oopsies. Stupid move, but it gets so much funnier and stoopider when them jackboys still don’t realize they should’a finished high school as they work out the letters so they can figure out the words so they can read them instructions, lol. Actually, they sound a lot like me when I’m trying to figure out what the destructions say when I’m trying to assemble somethin’. Hmmmm…

Then there’s Ordell’s women. Man, he is such a user. It’s interesting to view these four women, how different they are, the different reactions and fall-outs for each of them. Each is talented in a different way. Well, okay, it’s really only Sheronda and Simone who have something going for them. Melanie certainly gets what she deserves.

Leonard pulls you back and forth, keeps you wondering how it’ll all turn out. He keeps it spare and clean with definite characters.

Interesting note to leave it on. It does make me wonder if there’s a sequel.

The Story
Ordell’s good at cleanin’ up to protect himself, and some of the people who work with him know it. Kind of a shame how many don’t.

Someone tipped the cops off about Jackie, and she’s not about to go down for Ordell.

The Characters
Jackie Burke is a middle-aged stewardess, in good shape, working Islands Air. She also brings money in for Ordell.

Max Cherry has been miserably married for twenty-seven years and works as a bail bondsman for Glades Mutual. He seems a very gentlemanly sort with honor. Renee is his user of a wife with her art gallery, Gallery Renee, and her snotty busboy artist, Da-veed. Winston Powell is another licensed bondsman and a friend of Max’s.

Special Agent Ray Nicolet is with ATF these days and Special Agent Faron Tyler is with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), Division of Criminal Investigation. They’ve been friends since FSU. Cheryl is Tyler’s spouse, a housewife. Anita is Nicolet’s ex, an x-ray technician.

Ordell Robbie, a.k.a., Whitebread, is a light-skinned black man who’s a player and thinks he’s all that. He certainly has the coldness down. Louis Gara is an old friend who happens to be a dark-skinned white man and wants to be a player. Oh, well. An ex-con, he’s currently working in Glades Mutual along with Max. Ordell’s women include Sheronda who likes to cook and puts out in gratitude, Simone is a much older woman who mimics the moves of Motown artists and is incredible in bed, and Melanie is his white girl who’s not much good for anything. Raynelle is a new one, a junkie who has lost it, but she’ll do for now.

Beaumont Livingston is one of Ordell’s people and brilliant with numbers. Mr. Cedric Walker is his contact in Freeport in the Bahamas who takes the guns. There are some jackboys who work for Ordell too: Zulu; Cujo, a.k.a., Hulon Miller, Jr.; Sweatman; and, Snow.

Big Guy, a.k.a., Gerald, is a white supremacist stockpiling a range of weapons. Richard was the man Ordell and Louis tried to pull something on some thirteen years ago.

Some of the bondees
Zorro. Reggie just had to go to his mom’s birthday.

The Cover
The cover switches between black and red: the top half is a red background with the author’s name in black while the bottom half is a black background with the title in red. To ensure we know it’s a balmy, yet dangerous, place there’s a blue crane holding a belt of dropping bullets.

The title is code for Ordell’s operation out of the Bahamas, it’s a Rum Punch.

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Do You Know The Secret Truth About Writing?

KD Did It:

I really like what Herron has to say in this about needing a good story. That it’s more important than all the prettifying y’all might do.

Originally posted on Painting With Light:

Break On Hammock

Another writing blogger, whose scribblings I often enjoy, pointed out in one of his musings a while back that with all the articles, novels, e-books and blogs available today, more words are being written now than ever before.

As he also pointed out, a lot of that writing can be summed up in one word … forgettable.

Sadly, I agree with him.

I’ve seen a lot of things written by the new surge of independent, self-published authors that are not only forgettable, they’re often trite, badly formatted, poorly written and downright boring.

I suppose that’s why my local library didn’t want my books in their collection when I first asked if I could donate them.

Two of the four books are award-winners. All have received 5-Star reviews. But folks at the library hadn’t read a single word, and they were adamant in wanting nothing to do with them.

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