Friday, July 29, 2016

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

After enjoying one of the more recent Stephanie Plum mysteries as a book on tape a few weeks ago, I thought I might as well go back to where it all started and read my way through the series, so I reserved a copy of One for the Money at the library. Somehow or other, Evanovich seems to have leapt onto the scene with this first book as nicely turned out as her more recent ones. Perhaps she has been writing for other genres or in other series before beginning this one.

In some ways, the books gave me an immediate impression of seeing familiar faces, as we encounter Stephanie's cousin Vinnie, his secretary Connie, detective Morelli, bounty hunter Ranger, and even Lula, who is a streetwalker at the beginning of the stories. We also get to meet her close family for the first time; Mom, Dad and Grandma Mazur.

Stephanie blunders her way through her first few apprehensions in the new job, and stirs up a lot of trouble in her main case, which involves bringing in her old neighborhood nemesis, Joe Morelli,  Morelli, a cop, is accused of murdering a confidential informant. He swears it was self-defense, but the perp's gun seems to have disappeared, and witnesses are rapidly doing the same.

Obviously, Stephanie's rookie apprehension skills are not enough to outwit Morelli, so he and she dance around the issue, while they uneasily work together to find his witness and get her bounty

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold

I've read and re-read the Vorkosigan saga over the years, but this is the first time, since encountering him in Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, that I noticed Lieutenant Jole in Aral Vorkosigan's entourage. I had wondered a bit if Bujold had simply introduced him created out of whole cloth, and was reassured to find he had been there all along.
Note: He appears in Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, as well.

Anyway, that has nothing much to do with the plot of The Vor Game, but I found it interesting, at least.

The book begins with the inclusion of a novella detailing Miles' first assignment after completing military training when, instead of being given ship duty he is sent to be a weather technician at Kyril Base, amid a wasteland of frozen tundra. The base is commanded by an Old Army type who turns out in the end to be a homicidal lunatic, and Miles' trainer is a hopeless alcoholic. In the pursuit of his duties, Miles nearly dies when his ground car is submerged in a bog, discovers a body in a drainage ditch, and is arrested for mutiny. And that's just the first 10% of the book.

To keep Miles out of further trouble, Aral and Ilyan decide to keep him on a short leash, and he is assigned to Ilyan's ImpSec. Fat chance!

When Admiral Naismith's Dendarii Mercenaries turn up to enforce a blockage in a nearby solar system, Miles is escorted by some very unimaginative officers to the Hegen Hub, where his assignment is simply to once again assume the persona of the little admiral and to order the fleet out of the area, which is crucial to Barrayaran interests.

This simple mission manages to rapidly go off the rails when Miles is falls afoul of some arms dealers, ends up as indentured labor, and discovers that Emperor Gregor has run away from home, and landed in the Hegen Hub!

The story of how Miles rescues the Emperor, gains and loses and gains command again of the Dendarii, double-talks some psychotic murderers, and foils an invasion attempt by the Cetagandan fleet, is absolutely delightful, in the manner we've already come to love from Bujold and Miles Vorkosigan.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Dragon Conspiracy by Lisa Shearin

SPI operatives and partners, Mac and Ian, attend a pre-auction gala to display the Dragon Diamonds, a set of ill-fated jewels comprising a magical relic originally owned by each of the goblin and elvish races, and five cursed merely "human" stones (think Hope Diamond) with no supernatural powers to speak of other than their bringing ill fortune to their owners, who included the Romanovs of Csarist Russia. At the unveiling of the stones, a statue of three harpies suddenly comes to life and the bird women abscond with the stones, but not before a newbie "gem mage" tries to stop them, and gets himself and Mac knocked senseless in the process.

The being behind the thievery has some diabolical plan to use the stones to kill half of the supernatural population of New York City and to "out" the rest to the human population, so SPI, its dragon chairman, Vivian Sagadraco, and our heroes rush around to try to discover the villain's identity and thwart the plot.

Plenty of good twists and turns, and the addition of a few new characters to the series. This isn't particularly deep reading, but it's just unpredictable enough to be fun.

Saturday, July 23, 2016


Habits of a lifetime - I've never been one who "customizes" his possessions. I buy stock vehicles, don't add cosmetic accessories, don't put stickers all over them, etc. At best, I may add a camper shell to keep the rain off of the bed of the pickup, add trailer brakes, that sort of thing.
So, I was thinking the other day that i ought to put something on my iPad (white white white) to distinguish it from every other iPad out there. I have this Pyramid Brewing sticker sitting in a basket in the kitchen, and I decide I should just put it on the back of my Pad...I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

Am I in a rut, or what?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Mea Culpa

Once again, I feel I must apologize for the lack of book review posts. The motivation simply hasn't been there. I do have one queued up for Monday, and have finished eight books that I need to finish writing reviews for, so at some point a flood of backlog should appear.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Spycatcher by Matthew Dunn

Somewhere in my readings I ran across a reference and recommendation of this novel, which is former MI6 employee Dunn's first novel. He's followed it with some more, and with any luck at all, his skills will have developed a bit as he continued writing. I found the plot intriguing, the action realistic, but the dialog was a bit too forced, and the hero, a British assassin named Will, just a bit too tortured and conflicted for my liking.

So I came to a point about halfway through the book where I simply didn't care anymore what happened of the characters. It sat on my nightstand for several weeks and soon it will be time to return it to the library. Ah well.