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Two New Reviews up at Shiny Book Review (SBR)

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Folks, it took me longer than I’d have liked to review two new books over at Shiny Book Review (SBR for short, as always). One was nonfiction, the other was fiction. Both were outstanding.

The first, UNBROKEN CIRCLES FOR SCHOOLS by Ken Johnson, is a nonfiction book about what schools can do to help juvenile offenders. (This is a vast oversimplification, of course.) Mr. Johnson discusses the differences between retributive and restorative justice (the latter is much better, but isn’t often used by our criminal justice system), and how schools can help. Go read my review, then check out this outstanding book.

The second, DEVIL’S LAKE, is a romantic suspense novel by Aaron Paul Lazar. It’s an outstanding novel in every respect, and I was pleased to review it on Valentine’s Day for our Romance Saturday at SBR promotion.

So if you’re looking for something new to read in either nonfiction or fiction, head on over to SBR and take a look at these two reviews.

Just Reviewed Two Books at SBR…and Other Stuff

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Folks, I remain much closer to ill than well, I’m afraid. But I was able to get up a new “2-for-1 SBR Special” — that is, two new book reviews instead of one over at Shiny Book Review — a few, short minutes ago.

What books did I review this time? I picked Mercedes Lackey’s BASTION and CLOSER TO HOME, both featuring Herald Mags and his love interest, Amily, along with an interesting mix of characters and Companions.

Did I enjoy these books? Without spoilers, I can say honestly that I did. But one was far more predictable than the other.

Anyway, please go check out my reviews for BASTION and CLOSER TO HOME, and see what you think.

Aside from that, I’m gearing up for my first-ever book promotion for AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE. Because of that, the price has been temporarily dropped to only ninety-nine cents. So get your copy now, if you haven’t yet…the price will be going back to $3.99 in early December.

Finally, I wanted to pass along a bit of a wonderful new review I received for AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE at Amazon:

Fresh, innovative and daring, this story comes across as something very different from the rest. It offers new fantasy concepts, including a unique take on elves and their relationship with humans in a contemporary setting.

(Go read the rest of this rave review for yourself!)

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 23, 2014 at 1:25 am

Three New Reviews Up at SBR

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Folks, I’ve been busy reviewing books over at Shiny Book Review (SBR for short, as always).

On Friday, I reviewed Robert W. McChesney’s DIGITAL DISCONNECT and Alena Graedon’s THE WORD EXCHANGE. And just now, I reviewed Michael Z. Williamson’s FREEHOLD.

These reviews weren’t easy to write, which is one reason I delayed writing them until now.

Still, I hope you will enjoy them in the spirit intended.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 26, 2014 at 2:37 am

New Book Review is up at SBR for Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s Worthy “Spiral Path”

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Folks, as most of you know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, the past few weeks have been incredibly challenging. I had surgery two weeks ago, and while I’m slowly recovering, many things went by the wayside.

Including book reviews. Edits. Writing of any sort. And as of yet, I haven’t been medically cleared to resume performing on my musical instruments, either . . .

It’s because of this that I was sorely in need of constructive diversion. And as I’d been sent an ARC of the inestimable Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s third book in her ongoing Night Calls series several months ago, I did my best to first re-read the previous two books in this series (NIGHT CALLS and KINDRED RITES respectively), then read her newest, SPIRAL PATH, several times for good measure.

Along the way, the ARCs kept getting updated. Cover art was added. And the book was released earlier this week.

So even though I have other reviews pending at Shiny Book Review (SBR for short, as always) that have been in the queue nearly as long as SPIRAL PATH, I didn’t hesitate to review Ms. Kimbriel’s newest book this evening. (Or, considering it’s 4:38 AM as I write this, maybe I should say “this morning” instead.)

Because it’s late (or early, depending on your mindset), I can’t recall right now if I’ve mentioned that I find Ms. Kimbriel’s books — all of them, but most particularly the Night Calls series — to be “comfort books.” That is, books that make you feel better about yourself, and about life in general; books that, no matter how terrible you feel, always help to cheer you up.

So I freely admit that I’ve read and re-read Ms. Kimbriel’s books many times since I first was introduced to her work in late 2012 with FIRES OF NUALA (reviewed in March of 2013 at SBR). Everything she writes is well-researched, has depth and purpose and feels like a real place with real and vital people doing really vital things . . . and it’s just as well that e-books don’t fray with age and use, or my advance reader copies of Ms. Kimbriel’s stories would’ve all frayed into disintegration by now.

Anyway, while I slowly take up my life again, and all of my various responsibilities, I’m very glad I was able to make some time to review SPIRAL PATH this evening/morning.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading my review as much as I enjoyed writing it, and that you’ll check out all of Ms. Kimbriel’s work without delay. (She’s having a sale right now on her first book in the Night Calls series, the not-so-coincidentally named NIGHT CALLS, if you’re interested . . . I know I picked up a spare copy, just to loan to other people later on, as I am not giving up my treasured ARCs for anything.)

———–

P.S. I wonder, sometimes, whether my late husband Michael got a chance to read any of Ms. Kimbriel’s work “the first time around” (that is, when her first five books were put out in the late 1980s and early to mid 1990s). I like to think so, because she’s exactly the type of author he’d have adored — and for much the same reasons as I do.

Just Reviewed Victoria Alexander’s Latest at SBR

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Just figured I’d drop a little blog-let here to let you all know that I reviewed Victoria Alexander’s latest Victorian Era romance, THE SCANDALOUS ADVENTURES OF THE SISTER OF THE BRIDE, over at Shiny Book Review late Saturday night. (Or at SBR for short, as always.)

But you want a capsule review, you say? Well, here it is . . . I loved the story, thought it was funny, enjoyed the characters . . .

But the editing was absolutely horrible. And as this is a big-budget book from a well-known publisher, that is just not acceptable.

I don’t have a clue what happened with this book, quite frankly. But as an editor myself, I know that if you have a twenty-five word sentence with zero commas in it, there’s usually something wrong.

And it’s doubly wrong for a Victorian Era romance, because if anything, those old fuddy-duddy Victorians were much bigger sticklers about proper punctuation than I am as a modern-day editor. And if you want to properly evoke the period, you need to observe all the regular conventions of said period.

But you say, “Who cares about the commas, Barb? Why are you obsessing about this, anyway? You’re a modern reader. You can deal . . . can’t you?”

Um, yes and no.

The lack of commas (thus the lack of proper punctuation), especially in long stretches of dialogue, kept throwing me out of the reader’s trance with great force. And as there is absolutely no excuse for the lack of proper punctuation for the three reasons I gave over at SBR, I docked the book a grade.

At any rate, go take a look at my review, and judge for yourself whether or not I’m making any sense this fine day.

Then come back and let me know. (I’ll be here.)

Just Reviewed Aaron Lazar’s “Spirit Me Away” at SBR

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Before I forget, I wanted to let my readers know that I just reviewed Aaron Lazar’s SPIRIT ME AWAY over at Shiny Book Review (SBR for short, as always), which is a new mystery in his long-running Gus LeGarde series. SPIRIT ME AWAY is set in 1969 and is a prequel to many of his mysteries featuring Gus.

In SPIRIT ME AWAY, Gus married his young bride, Elsbeth, a few months before the start of this novel; they’re music students living in Boston. When a young woman who’s lost her memory shows up nearby, they take her in and try to find out who she is. But there are some bad people out there who want her for nefarious purposes . . .it’s not a “cozy mystery” as are many in the LeGarde series, being rather a mystery with a great deal of romantic suspense. But it’s very, very good, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Also, I reviewed Aaron’s LADY BLUES over at SBR a couple of weeks ago. This, too, is a novel featuring Gus LeGarde, but is in the present-day and deals with the mystery of an old man in a nursing home who’s struggling to recover his memories with the aid of a new and experimental drug. But then the drug’s formulation is changed . . . slowly the old man loses his memories again. And then a friendly nurse goes missing, then the old man himself seemingly wanders away . . . Gus must get to the bottom of whatever is going on and, if possible, reunite the old man with his long-lost lover in the process before the man’s memories are gone for good.

I enjoyed LADY BLUES. It’s a warm, comforting mystery with a lot of musical ambiance and tons of food references. Gus and his family and friends are vital people who enjoy life and live it to the fullest, and they seem like people you know (or at least should know) . . . anyway, go take a gander at these reviews, and let me know what you think of ’em.

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 20, 2014 at 1:25 am

Two New Book Reviews up at SBR

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Folks, it’s been a busy weekend for me over at Shiny Book Review (SBR, as always).

On Friday night, I reviewed the tenth and final volume of Stephen R. Donaldson’s long-running series starring Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, THE LAST DARK.

And a few, short hours ago, I reviewed Veronica Roth’s ALLEGIANT, which is of course the final volume of her Divergent trilogy.

I hope you’ll enjoy the reviews, and let me know what you think, as per usual.

This week, I’ll be reviewing Cedar Sanderson’s TRICKSTER NOIR and Aaron Paul Lazar’s mysteries SPIRIT ME AWAY and LADY BLUES, the latter as a 2-for-1 special.

As for an ETA for these reviews, my normal reviewing days over at SBR are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (though sometimes, as today, I bleed over into Sunday. Bad me.) So do stay tuned…

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 8, 2014 at 5:06 am

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