Kate is Back!

Okay, so this is a novella and not a full book. I read this well within the space of a day, I set time aside to just sit and read as I knew I wouldn’t want to do anything else at all during this time.

Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym for Gordon & Ilona Andrews, a husband and wife writing team. They now have six series out there, but my favorites are definitely the Kate Daniels and Hidden Legacy series. I say Kate is back as the team has been focusing more on other series as they felt the Kate Daniels series came to a natural conclusion. But she wormed her way back into their writing much to the delight of their fans.

As for the series, I have read them all and I love them all! However, I do recommend starting at the beginning of whichever series you choose as they definitely build on each book going forward. Not the type of series you want to jump in the middle of. In addition, the Ryder series is actually more of an extension of the Kate Daniels series, so don’t start there. However, each book tends to have a somewhat- to completely-satisfying ending so you don’t feel like the story is incomplete at the end of the book (not always the case with some authors). You can pause and reflect at the end of a book, before rushing out to get the next one. Other authors of mine tend to write one book that just happens to go across 3, 4, 5 or more books really. You have to wait until the entire series is released or you get very frustrated. Not my favorite but when you love the author what can you do?

The website is a great place to pick up some of their online novellas, and to sign up for their blog or publishing updates. They do an excellent job keeping it up to date, and is often full of fun quips or ideas and is easy to read.

Book Review – Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach by Mary Kay Andrews was a great summer read. A couple twisty mysteries to solve, a strong female lead, an unexpected friendship, and a few challenges to solve on the way to a new life after a tragic accident. When I first purchased the book, after recommending it for my book club sight unseen, I was a tad worried. It was definitely a heftier book than I expected so I took a little longer to work my way through it, but it was worth it and I loved the ending. Great for summer!

Book Review – Win

Need a good book to read? A mystery with a definitely new twist? Try “Win” by Harlan Coben. This was my first travel book and it was perfect for the cabin in the woods. I was talking books at a retirement party for a friend of mine, and he asked if I had read anything by Mr. Coben. I was thinking, yes but it had been a while. So, when I saw this one at the bookstore, and it was a stand-alone book, I nabbed one for the drive. I tend to use my Nook when I go into restaurants, but for sitting in hotels (or cabins) I prefer a good old-fashioned book. “Win” is a nickname for Windsor Horne Lockwood III. He is a definitely an anti-hero and the secrets he dredges up… I wonder if the truth was something he really wanted to know in the long run. Lots of great background in this one, I am hopeful that there will be a second one that will provide a more in-depth storyline. I give this 5 out of 5 stars, so it will be hard to beat!

Win – Harlan Coben

Travel Dreams Part 2

I have been continuing my bucket list in my new travel journal. Right now I am starting with a western driving tour over the course of about 3 months, maybe in 2023. Yes, I am planning for what seems like a long way in the future! Over the weekend I sat down with my oldest nephew to go over what I am thinking. He has done some rafting trips and such out west so he has more experience out there than I do! For example, I had no idea there was so much to see and do in Utah. I am very excited to get out there and do some hiking and exploring. I will have to work on my knees so I can do some horseback riding too, I hope.

A page from my Travel Dreams Journal

My next state to take a closer look at is Arizona. I have spent quite a bit of time around Phoenix as my grandparents used to live in Sun City and I had a very close friend (Scott and his partner Angel) who lived in Phoenix. I would typically fly down once or twice a year to visit and once in a while Grandpa would even let me borrow his car (I was in college at the time, so I was broke all the time). The furthest north I went though is Prescott, never made it to Sedona. So my plan is to go down into northern Arizona and visiting Lake Powell, Sedona, Tuba City and Jerome.

After that I will start looking at New Mexico and Oklahoma! At the very least, this has given me something to dream about and draw about and think about. What will I do after we come out of Covid-19? After retirement? All such good questions.

If you have any thoughts on what I should absolutely NOT miss in eastern Wyoming, Utah, Arizona or Oklahoma please let me know! If you are wondering about what the left side is mentioning, it is Longmire Days! I am a huge fan of the Longmire tv series and have read some of his books too. I highly recommend them!

I saw this template on Pinterest and fell in love with it. Each location will have a “card” where I draw in a feature of where I want to go. Sometimes a location, sometimes a feeling. Then you separate the pages into different boxes to write down ideas or thoughts. I am so sorry that I didn’t write down who had the original idea.

Thank you for reading this!

Uncle Hugo’s Needs Help

Go Fund Me Page

Uncle Hugo’s was a great local bookstore impacted by the violence that erupted from the protests this spring. The owner also writes a quarterly newsletter that provides excellent summaries of upcoming books. The building was literally burned to the ground and all his inventory was gone. If you can help this small, local, reader-oriented business for mysteries and science fiction books, please do.

An Early Wake – A Book Review

This is the third book in the County Cork series by Sheila Connolly and I have to say I learned quite a bit about the history of music in Irish pubs.  This book really leaves me wanting to visit Ireland and experience some of these pubs in the small towns that dot the landscape. In this book, expat Maura is trying to find ways to keep the pub she has inherited afloat. A visitor brings in the idea of opening her back room up for musicians as the former owner had done many years ago. By word of mouth the news travels and musicians, and music-goers, show up leaving her to think this may be a way to keep her business going. But, this is a mystery and one of the musicians who shows up is murdered and the mystery of why and by whom begins.  I really do love this series and is a good one for a quick, fun read.  I have read a couple of Ms. Connolly’s Museum Mysteries and did enjoy them, but I haven’t read any of her others.  For some reason this series just spoke to me more.

Breaking Creed – A Book Review

Alex Kava has a number of books in her Maggie O’Dell series that sounded like a really good read, but a series I never had the pleasure of reading. However, when I heard that she was starting a NEW series, the Ryder Creed Novels, I jumped at the chance to try it out. Being about K9 search and rescue dogs as a central feature of the book, even better. We selected this for our Mystery Book Club and all who read it agreed it was a good pick.  Some of us have already read the second one and I definitely planning on doing so myself. Now, if only I could find the time!

There is a cross-over with Maggie O’Dell in this book, so if you have read that series I would definitely recommend picking this up.

The Ice Princess – A Book Review

I just finished The Ice Princess by Camilla Läckberg from Sweden.  I am unsure why the sudden interest in Swedish authors, and I definitely wouldn’t compare this to the Stieg Larsson series, but it was a hit for me.  You know what I enjoyed? The main character (Erica) actually talked to the police and shared information!  Very refreshing.  Although I did guess a portion of the mystery, and a good part of the rest by the end, I didn’t figure it all out.  The book was inhaled in the space of one day and over lunch and then dinner (yes, I read while I eat when I am alone).  This was a sad tale, one that really shows what choices can do to your family and friends.  How these choices can result in such odd detours to and from happiness, or even just being comfortable with your life or future.  Sad, but satisfying ending in some ways.  I recommend giving it a try, I know I plan on reading the next one!  Left me thinking about moving to Spain when I retire!

A Cold and Lonely Place by Sara Henry – A Book Review

This is the second book by Sara J. Henry, her first in this series was “Learning to Swim” which I reviewed for my book club in 2011.  This year, the vote was unanimous and we decided to read the second one for November 2014.  We all loved the first one and we were hopeful that the high quality writing would continue.

I must say I was very much taken with the style of her writing in this book.  It was very thought-provoking, a tale of looking beyond first impressions as you may be surprised by what you learn. The core mystery comes out right away, but there is so much beyond this.  Who is Tobin Winslow? Why was he in Saranac? What is the story behind Jessamyn?  Those are the true mysteries.  The pace is a bit slower, a bit more thoughtful but I liked it more than the first. Admittedly, the rest of the book club liked the first one best. So, I recommend reading them both and forming your own opinion!

You can read this story without having read the first book, but it does help you understand some of the side story lines if you read Learning to Swim first.

The Martian by Andy Weir – Book Review

Every now and then a book comes along that grabs your attention and really leaves an impression.  This is one of those books! Andy Weir has written a very thought-provoking book on the what could happen when we start to explore Mars and about man’s ability to adapt and survive impossible odds.

What would happen if an intrepid astronaut is accidentally left for dead on Mars after a mission is prematurely aborted due to adverse weather conditions. How he survives and the work that he does to get off Mars and back home is just gripping.  I don’t believe this is really a spoiler, I mean really that is the whole point of the book!  It is the how that is so entertaining and engrossing.  He incorporates technical details with a sense of humor, providing an engaging story with the data you need to understand what the astronaut is doing and yet a storyline that leaves you caring for, and rooting for, him.  If you are at all a “space geek” and believe in the need to move beyond our planet and strike out to other worlds, then this is definitely for you.  Even the story of how this book was published is a fascinating read!

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