Book Review: Singapore Sapphire by A. M. Stuart

I picked this book up off of the Libby App, an ebook loan service run through the library. I started it about 12 pm that afternoon and I finished it at 1:30 am that night. I could not put this book down.

Ms. Stuart writes a well told, emersive story set in the 1910s of Singapore. It is one part travel log, one part historical, and two parts mystery. It is a wonderful first book with a heroine that isn’t the norm. The best part of this story is the characters, well rounded people with flaws, quirks, and personality. Her descriptions of Singapore make you feel as if you are really there. The oppressive humidity, the bugs, the smells of a city, are used to create a living backdrop for the story to play out.

It is a murder mystery but it so much more than that. It is a look at people and the lengths they will go to for love, greed, and everything else that motivates mankind.

What are you reading? Drop me a comment. I am trying to expand my reading horizons. Cheers, james

Book Review: My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland

My Life as a White Trash Zombie is written by Diana Rowland. It is the first book in the series and was published in 2012. There are six books in all, the last one was published in 2017. Ms. Rowland on her website’s faq page states book six is probably the last in the series.

I must admit I was intriqued about the title and premisis of this book. I was browsing through the “Just Added” section on the Libby app and saw it. The cover is nice especially for a zombie book. I haven’t read or watched zombie anything until I stumbled on a few episodes of IZombie. I kept thinking either this was the inspiration for IZombie or IZombie was an inspiration for the author. Since I have read the book. Nope I think good old coincidence plays out here.

Our protagonist isn’t a shining example of humanity and she doesn’t want to be. However Ms. Rowland touches on a lot of hot button subjects, poverty, drug abuse, rape, child abuse and neglect, through her protagonist’s eyes.

I found the book enjoyable. However I wasn’t captivated enough to trying read it in one sitting. I may or may not decide to read the other five books. I think she tactfully handled her story well if a little oddly. I have italized the book cover synoposis. If you like humor with gore or a fan of zombies this series might be a good fit. Even if you can’t stand the thought of the undead, Ms. Rowland keeps things light.

Angel Crawford is a Loser.
Living with her alcoholic deadbeat dad in the swamps of southern Louisiana, she’s a high school dropout with a pill habit and a criminal record who’s been fired from more crap jobs than she can count. Now on probation for a felony, it seems that Angel will never pull herself out of the downward spiral her life has taken.
That is, until the day she wakes up in the ER after overdosing on painkillers. Angel remembers being in a horrible car crash, but she doesn’t have a mark on her. To add to the weirdness, she receives an anonymous letter telling her there’s a job waiting for her at the county morgue—and that it’s an offer she doesn’t dare refuse.
Before she knows it she’s dealing wth a huge crush on a certain hunky deputy and a brand new addiction: an overpowering craving for brains. Plus, her morgue is filling up with the victims of a serial killer who decapitates his prey—just when she’s hungriest!
Angel’s going to have to grow up fast if she wants to keep this job and stay in one piece. Because if she doesn’t, she’s dead meat.

Cheers, james for more information on this interesting series and author.

Book Review: The Glass Spare

I picked up a book on Libby, my library’s ebook app, called The Glass Spare by Lauren Destefano. This book is fantasy meets steampunk meets weird. It is the debut novel of the author. There is supposed to be a second book. A duology vs a trilogy or series, interesting concept.

Anyway I had no expectation of book or author and I fell into the swing of her world pretty quickly. It was only when telephones, air ships, and cars popped up that I got jarred out of the story. That is where the steampunk comes in, otherwise it is firmly in the fantasy realm.

The premise aludes to the myth of King Midas and frequent mentions of a “golden king” that turned all he touched into gold until he died miserable. Anyway our heronine Wil is her father’s fourth child and only daughter. She is dark where her parents and sibs are fair haired and blue eyed. Her father keeps his children mostly away from the public eye. He set up a rumor that the princess is fair and away at school of some type. Yet that is the only mention of schools in the story. In reality her father is grooming her to be a spy and she is forever getting into scraps and fights on errands for him and her brother.

Wil is pretty well rounded if a little immature. However she is only 15, and several months away from turning 16. She was born with a strange birthmark, a pale line across her chest over her heart.

She finds out she had been cursed and her touch can turn the living into jewels. The only catch is she has to be excited/frightened. So after a terrible accident she is exiled from her home and she goes in search of a cure. She finds instead the prince of the rival kingdom and yeah well. There is kidnapping, fighting, and lots of complications. As the book ends we see Wil headed home to find out why someone would have cursed her. And if she doesn’t return there will be serious repercussions for everybody else.

Hope I have wet your interest in giving this book a shot. It is a fun read and twisty enough to keep your attention. Cheers, james

Book Review: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

O’night where to start? Nevernight is the title, however it also functions as a phenomon that occurs in this world. There are three suns that never truly set except once ever 3 or so years. Hence it is never night there. Our main character is the oldest child of a well connected family only dear old dad is hung for treason and mom and baby brother are shipped off to a horriffic nightmare of a prison. While Mia is taken on the condition she would be safe except she is to be drowned instead. Doublecrosses, and even triplecrosses are a theme throughout the book.

This where things get really interesting, you have two seperate yet linked together scenes going on when we meet Mia. She is remebering her first time with a lover and her first time killing.  Okay I was torn between huh and wtf. Things then start to smooth out and I stayed with it. We get to live through Mia’s story as she transforms from a scared little girl to a trained badass assassin for the Lady of Blessed Murder.

And I will leave you there in my description, this book is not Young Adult suitable for the sex and the violence. However it is very suitable for someone that enjoys fantasy. Mr. Kristoff is a wordsmith that makes you take another look at language and story telling. It is a deep and chewy filling satisfying read and I am looking forward to the next book in the series. 

Cheers, james

Book Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

Picked up the Libby app from my library that allows members access to ebooks. One of my first selections was an interesting book called the Bone Witch. The author Rin Chupeco writes a vivid story loosely based around the geisha lifestyle with magic and fighting monsters. 

The main character is the youngest member of her family and her oldest brother is killed in battle. At his burrial she starts screaming that her brother is alive and not to burry him. She then brings him back to life sorta. She is a bone witch, her powers are over death and the dead. After she raises her brother she falls ill and is taken under the wing of another bone witch. Bone witches are needed to destory the monsters that plague the land. They lay the monsters to rest and take something called a beozor stone. These stones are powerful magic and used in potions for everything. The book is told is a double format that is weird but readable. As a first book in a series it ended on the abrupt side. The next book is in planning but hasn’t been released yet. 

All in all a worth while interesting read. Cheers, james

Book Review: Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

I picked up a copy of this book for two reasons; I have never seen this version before and I have been curious about Pride and Predjuice and Zombies. However I don’t do zombies in any way shape or form. Not my cuppa. I dig sea monster movies and adventure novels. Loved Peter Benchely’s Creature, the book was awesome, don’t bother with the horrible movie mess. 😬 Kronos by Jeremy Robinson, who also wrote Anatarkas Rising. And Steven Alten’s Megalodon books. Very enjoyable reads. So I felt I would be a suitable reader.

Since I wanted to try Ms. Jane Austen again I thought this might be a better way in vs the orginal book. I must say the world is in a right mess when the book opens and it takes some time to get used to the new normal. All sea life has gone man eater mad and wants nothing more than the death, destruction and dismemberment of the human race. Odd premise, but I was willing to go with it. Ms. Austen’s words and voice are meshed nicely with the coauthor Ben H. Winters. 

I did feel I was missing some rather important details by not having read the orginal story first. There were some interplays between characters that seemed to have been lost under the constraints of the sea monster theme. Or maybe it was me. One interesting thing is the loss of one seemingly important character, Maragret the youngest sibling. What happened or did she vanish in the orgnial story too? 
All in all it seems to be a diverting and fun way to spend a few nights reading. I think a fun twist would be update the story leaving the sea monsters in place. See how well cell phones and the victorian sensibilities would mesh. 

Cheers, james

Book Review: Moth and Spark

Moth and Spark is the debut novel of author Ann Leonard. Published in 2014 it has been well recieved in both the fantasy and romance genres. However as a reader of both fantasy and romance, I place it firmly in the romance with fantasy attributes catagory. It is a nice hard back with stunning cover design. 

For a quick light read this is a decent book, however if you are expecting a hardcore fantasy novel with a dash of romance this isn’t it. The love story is the author’s prime focus for over half the book while she builds the plot quietly in the background. The last third of the book did not seem as well built as the previous chapters. There were certain loose ends that were too neatly tied up without the reader feeling there was more to it. 

I wanted to like this book and parts certainly amused me, however I felt there was certain elements missing from the story. According to the author’s website she wrote this as a stand alone novel. But she has been tossing about ideas for a sequel that would be placed years in the future. Perhaps when she writes her sequel the characters will shine a light on certain events from a hisorical context. I give this novel more points from a romance than fantasy because that is what it is. Magic and dragons do not a fantasy make when they are merely window dressing for the love story. 

Cheers on this Halloween evening, james

Moth and Spark

Update: I am really starting to enjoy this story. The author has a light touch although some of her elements can be out of place. She reference a unseen color changing light effect in a mideval time frame. What? Where did the led mood light come from? Anyway the details and story move along once I got past a slow start. This was more to do with putting the players in place and not losing the reader. Cheers, james

I picked this book up the other day at the local dollar store. I started reading while home sick, while I realize isn’t the best time to read high fantasy. It had been calling to be read.

I read a review from The Caffinated Reader and I poked around the author’s website. I admit I never write about a book before reading it, but there is something about this book. I want to like it. Maybe it is the story blurb on the inside cover or perhaps the teaser on the back cover. 

So more on this book and author once I read it. Cheers, james

Book Review: Howl’s Moving Castle

Ms. Diana Wynn Jones wrote this fantastical tale and later Studio Gibli turned them into classics. If you love stories of magic gone awry then this book was written just for you. 

The title character Wizard Howl is a strange fellow in a world full of the strange and fantastical. The author paints a vivid and fully developed world. She people this world with folks that you know and have passed on the streets of your hometown. Doors lead to new and exciting places. I urge you to give it a try.

Cheers on this Sunday evening, james

Dean Koontz’s Watchers

Last night I finished this much beloved story. I am a Dean Koontz (DK) fan, but somehow I missed this back in the day. It was only after listening to my hubby’s repeated “this is your kinda book”. I decided to give it a try. I will try to speak generally because I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t read it yet. 

That said anyone familar with DK knows his great affection for dogs. I believe most of his books have a dog somewhere in them. Watchers features a doggie protaganist along with his human protaganists. I feel like I am back writing in college or high school. (Sorry Ms. Brown) Anyway DK wrote and first published this book in the late ’80s  before all the computer revelution of the ’90s and early ’00s. Talk about being able to read the writing on the wall. As a child of the ’90s I grew up with computers as the start of everyday tool. So to read this book now, amazes me how many things have come to pass. Sadly information has lost its impact, people live more in the virtual than the physical world. DK hinted at this a couple of times although one protaganist believed information would set us free. Instead it distracts us from that which we should be observing like the hawk on the power line waiting for supper. 

All in all I found Watchers to be a great modern novel  with powerful themes of love, loyalty and a dash of humor in just the best places.All but one character showed depth and roundness. Richly told, richly peopled this is a story people will still be reading when computers have faded from memory and we are part of the world wide web on a physical and mental level. A time when humanity and technology meets in the womb of imagination.
The following link is to an Afterward in the 2008 edition of Watchers. In it DK speaks of the writing of Watchers and an admirable sense of humor. Give my regards to Mr. Foot.

WATCHERS From the Author