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The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley {3.5 Stars}

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley {3.5 Stars}

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
Published by Bloomsbury on July 14th, 2015
Genres: Adult, Historical Fantasy, Literary
Page Length: 318 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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1883. Thaniel Steepleton returns home to his tiny London apartment to find a gold pocket watch on his pillow. Six months later, the mysterious timepiece saves his life, drawing him away from a blast that destroys Scotland Yard. At last, he goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori, a kind, lonely immigrant from Japan. Although Mori seems harmless, a chain of unexplainable events soon suggests he must be hiding something. When Grace Carrow, an Oxford physicist, unwittingly interferes, Thaniel is torn between opposing loyalties.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is a sweeping, atmospheric narrative that takes the reader on an unexpected journey through Victorian London, Japan as its civil war crumbles long-standing traditions, and beyond. Blending historical events with dazzling flights of fancy, it opens doors to a strange and magical past.

3.5 Stars

Thoughts:
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The Purloined Poodle by Kevin Hearne {4 Stars}

The Purloined Poodle by Kevin Hearne {4 Stars}

The Purloined Poodle by Kevin Hearne (Oberon's Meaty Mysteries, The Iron Druid Chronicles)
Published by Subterranean Press on Sept. 30th, 2016
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Urban Fantasy
Page Length: 112 pages
How I got my copy: Borrowed
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Thanks to his relationship with the ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan, Oberon the Irish wolfhound knows trouble when he smells it—and furthermore, he knows he can handle it.

When he discovers that a prizewinning poodle has been abducted in Eugene, Oregon, he learns that it’s part of a rash of hound abductions all over the Pacific Northwest. Since the police aren’t too worried about dogs they assume have run away, Oberon knows it’s up to him to track down those hounds and reunite them with their humans. For justice! And gravy!

Engaging the services of his faithful Druid, Oberon must travel throughout Oregon and Washington to question a man with a huge salami, thwart the plans of diabolical squirrels, and avoid, at all costs, a fight with a great big bear.

But if he’s going to solve the case of the Purloined Poodle, Oberon will have to recruit the help of a Boston terrier named Starbuck, survive the vegetables in a hipster pot pie, and firmly refuse to be distracted by fire hydrants and rabbits hiding in the rose bushes.

At the end of the day, will it be a sad bowl of dry kibble for the world’s finest hound detective, or will everything be coming up sirloins?

The Purloined Poodle is another exciting novella entry in Kevin Hearne’s New York Times best-selling Iron Druid series.

4 Stars

Strengths:
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Gasp by Lisa McMann {4.5 Stars}

Gasp by Lisa McMann is the concluding book of the Visions trilogy and continues the tradition of edge-of-your-seat action with lots of awesome banter and cuteness thrown in to lighten the mood. If you haven’t read Crash or Bang yet, I really recommend you check out those reviews and read the books instead, since there will be major spoilers (the fun is finding out how the vision is going to play out after all!). Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let me just warn you that there will be fangirling and I read this book in literally one four-hour sitting. Gasp was everything I hoped it would be and still managed to surprise me despite all my speculating up until release day, ha.

Note: I purchased Gasp because I couldn’t resist. Buuuuuuuuuyyyyy iiiiiiiit!

Gasp by Lisa McMann {4.5 Stars}

Gasp by Lisa McMann (Visions #3)
Published by Simon Pulse on June 3rd, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Paranormal, Thriller, YA
Page Length: 256 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
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After narrowly surviving two harrowing tragedies, Jules now fully understands the importance of the visions that she and people around her are experiencing. She’s convinced that if the visions passed from her to Sawyer after she saved him, then they must now have passed from Sawyer to one of the people he saved.

That means it’s up to Jules to figure out which of the school shooting survivors is now suffering from visions of another crisis. And once she realizes who it is, she has to convince that survivor that this isn't all crazy—that the images are of something real. Something imminent.

As the danger escalates more than ever before in the conclusion to the Visions series, Jules wonders if she'll finally find out why and how this is happening—before it's too late to prevent disaster.

4.5 Stars

Strengths:
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The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (Guest Post)

I’m back! And with a guest post :-).

I’ve only gotten through the first book of the Dresden Files (it’s on my todo list! In fact the second one is sitting right next to me…) but my bookaholic parents both tore through them, and so I figured it’d be fun to write about what my mom thinks about these books!

Title: The Dresden Files (The first book is Storm Front)
Author: Jim Butcher
Pages: ~350 per book (paperback)
Setting: The books take place in an alternative universe Chicago where magic is real and works, but most of the population still isn’t really aware of it. Magic has a tendency to interfere with technology though and there is a whole different world and politics revolving around magic.
Premise: Harry Dresden is a quite powerful wizard who has had a checkered past that got him on the bad side of the wizard government and is also the only wizard in the phone book and willing to help non-magical types. This obviously makes his life a little bit interesting when the magic entities that prey on humans get in his path.

Strengths:

  • Great characters
  • The main character has down sides to his magic, and isn’t all powerful
  • Good supporting characters with their own strengths and weaknesses, and they don’t always get along (more realistic)
  • The bad guys are really bad, so you’re quite happy for their demise
  • Good description/feel of Chicago
  • Complex plots and twists you don’t see coming
  • Magic is complex and there is a wide range of talent levels

Weaknesses:

  • First couple of books have a bit of frantic/stressful pace, but that gets better 
  • Dresden has a bit too much drama with authority figures, it just gets a bit unbelievable and annoying
  • Dresden’s mouth is also a bit annoying; someone in their 40’s should have better self-control

Summary: These are nice easy books that are fun for airplanes and summer activities that need reading. They are great urban fantasy and pull from a wide range of mythological backgrounds. If you have a problem with Christianity getting mixed in with magic and other religions, then you might not enjoy it. There are also some sexual innuendos, so PG-13 rating. Overall, great for the beach, everyone will know you’re a nerd!

-A (and Mom!)

Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich

Sci-fi and fantasy novels are all well and good, but I do read other books. One example is the hilariously funny Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich. Now, Evanovich is a prolific writer and so has a lot of series, some better known than others, but the Stephanie Plum novels are a must read for anyone looking for a good laugh. I have listened to a number of them on CD, and I highly recommend listening to the later ones since the narrator definitely adds to them. The earlier ones have a different narrator and I might be biased (since I listened to the later ones first) but I don’t like the earlier narrator nearly as much. Also, these books really don’t need to be read/listened to in order! There are a few over-arching plots in Stephanie’s life, but each book easily stands on its own.

Title: Stephanie Plum novels (first one is One for the Money)
Author: Janet Evanovich
Setting: New Jersey, not quite our world from what I can tell of the spin offs, but very nearly
Premise: Stephanie needed a job so she became a bounty hunter for people who skip bail after getting bonded out. She has a tendency to wind up in ridiculous and hilarious situations and handles them with jokes and dumb luck.

Strengths:

  • Really really really really funny! You will be laughing out loud.
  • Brave and fairly intelligent but mostly lucky and witty female character
  • An endearing boyfriend and complicated friendship with a really hot guy
  • Hilarious minor characters, including a cross-dressing stoner
  • Light and easy mysteries

Weaknesses:

  • Warning, there is some swearing *gasp*
  • It can be a bit grisly sometimes despite the humorous setting. There are murders.
  • Not always very realistic :-)
  • I’ve never been to New Jersey, but I’m suspicious about how accurately it is portrayed :-)
  • I have a tendency to crave donuts after reading these books…

Summary: Really excellent books to pick up in the airport or whenever you need a good laugh and an easy read, as long as you don’t mind a bit of a darker side to the humor once in a while. They are also great to listen to while driving, since they don’t take much brain power to follow.

Bell, Book, and Murder by Rosemary Edghill

This collection is proof that I do like mysteries sometimes! It was recommended to me by a teacher from high school, so it must be good right? It is, don’t worry.

Title: Bell, Book, and Murder
Author: Rosemary Edghill
Length: 448 pages (paperback)
Setting: Modern day, New York, our universe as far as I can tell
Premise: Bast is a normal person, but in suspicious about the death of a friend in the first book, then people start relying on her to solve mysteries for them. She’s also Wiccan, which isn’t really relevant, but is done quite accurately and therefore deserves praise.

Strengths:

  • Very interesting plot twists, you’ll never see them coming
  • Accurate portrayal of Wicca
  • Well rounded characters, including the main character, who definitely was also duped at one point

Weaknesses:

  • It’s a little grisly a few times
  • It does have the classic problem that books involving normal people solving mysteries do, in that it seems highly improbable that this would ever happen :-)
  • There are no more books past these three :-(
  • The second one might have taken some liberties with history, but I am no expert
  • Apparently according to mystery readers these books aren’t that hard to figure out (proves how many mysteries I read… I was stumped :-) )

Summary: These stories are a little hard for me to classify, since they aren’t fantasy, but they aren’t really that strong of mysteries, but there is the Wicca element. I guess it’s a fiction that is a bit mysterious? Oh well, they are good stories with a delightful character and I recommend them. They can also be instructional about the Wicca religion if you’ve ever been curious, since they are quite accurate.

Til next time!
-A

Veil of Lies by Jeri Westerson

So over winter break I wanted to take a break from reading fantasy, and so read a mystery that my dad had lying around the house. This little experiment reminded me why I don’t particularly like mysteries…. They just aren’t my thing :-). It also labeled itself a medieval noir, what is that anyway?

Title: Veil of Lies
Author: Jeri Westerson
Length: 273

Strengths:

  • Interesting main character
  • Not purely a linear plot, had some nice twists, as I think mysteries are supposed to have
  • I think it was fairly historically accurate, though I’m not a history person

Weaknesses:

  • As far as I can tell, there were about three different bad guy groups, a bit confusing there…
  • I’m not sure what the female character thought she was doing, but she annoyed me….
  • I think there were parts that were not very historically accurate…
  • The writing was rather meh
  • I was not convinced through reading this book that I should read more mysteries

Summary: If you like mysteries, you’ll probably like it better than I did. My dad checked out the next couple in the series from the library, so they couldn’t have been too horrible. If you are a history buff, be warned that you might end up cringing (though again I have no idea for sure). It was a fairly easy and quick read, so always good for airports or car trips!

-A