Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review: The Secret Abyss

Book Cover: The Secret Abyss by Darrell Pitt
Published July 2015 by Text Publishing Company
Source: eGalley ARC from NetGalley

When the world's deadliest assassin, the Chameleon, escapes from prison, Jack begins his most dangerous investigation yet.

With only the scantest of clues, the team travels from London to New York, a bustling metropolis filled with airships, steam cars and exciting new ideas.

Here they uncover a terrible plot that threatens the president's life and brings the nation to the brink of civil war. Can Jack track down the Chameleon in time? And just what is the mysterious whip of fire that has the power to wreak destruction across the world?

Focus on Freading: Sister Joan Mysteries

For this week, I want to tell you all about a lovely series of mysteries set in a small village in Cornwall. As the series begins, Sister Joan of the Order of the Daughters of Compassion is being sent to the order's convent in Cornwall. She's just completed her fifth year as a nun. The order has a policy of keeping each household rather small and her home convent has been growing while the Conwall convent has lost a couple of elderly sisters. But, the Prioress of her home convent cautions Sister Joan and asks her to keep her eyes open after she arrives—something seems to be very wrong in Cornwall.

Book Cover: Vow of Obedience by Veronica Black In book after book, Sister Joan gets involved in murders. She winds up assisting Detective Sergeant Alan Mill solve murders in the small Cornwall community. And, in each volume, Sister Joan must struggle between her rebellious streak and the vows she took when she joined this cloistered order.

Freading offers all 11 books in the Sister Joan mystery series. Get started with A Vow of Silence and read straight through to A Vow of Evil. Sister Joan is an interesting character.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mini Reviews: Kris Longknife: Defender and Murder Simply Brewed

Book Cover: Kris Longknife: Defender by Mike Shepherd

Title: Kris Longknife: Defender
Author: Mike Shepherd
Genre: Science Fiction
Page Count: 386
Rating: 4/5 ★★★★☆

Format: eBook
Source: borrowed from library via Overdrive
Completed: 21 July

Kris Longknife: Defender is book 11 in Mike Shepherd's military SF series. In the previous book, Kris returns from exile and convinces her great grandfather to send her on a mission to guard the planet with the bird-like inhabitants from the marauding aliens. There's an ulterior motive here: the hostile aliens refuse to communicate and blow their own ships up if they are damaged. They fired on the life pods ejected from the ships in Kris's fleet in their first encounter. It's imperative that the aliens don't backtrack the humans to their home planets. So, Kris and her new fleet are drawing a line in space and are determined to keep the aliens from taking any more inhabited planets.

In a single novel, Kris experiences a series of rapid promotions and leads another fleet into battle against the aliens. This time they are the defending fleet and can set up ambushes to give themselves a better chance of surviving an attack by the moon-sized mother ships and the hundreds of accompanying ships of an alien advance force.

I borrowed this book from the library through the Overdrive subscription. As I mentioned in this week's Stacking the Shelves, I was surprised that the library got a copy so quickly after I requested it. I read it in just a couple of days, requested that the library get a copy of the next in the series, and it has already arrived. I'm thoroughly enjoying the books in this series and am thrilled to find out that a new volume is scheduled for October and yet another for sometime in 2016.


Book Cover: Murder Simply Brewed by Vanetta Chapman

Title: Murder Simply Brewed
Author: Vanetta Chapman
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Page Count: 358
Rating: 3/5 ★★★☆☆

Format: eBook
Source: purchased May 2015
Completed: 23 July

One of the first books I received from NetGalley was Murder Tightly Knit, the second book in Vanetta Chapman's Amish Village Mystery series. Then, I received and reviewed Murder Freshly Baked, the third book. Having enjoyed both of them, I knew that I wanted to go back and see how the series started, and when I saw that Murder Simply Brewed was on sale, I immediately hit the “BUY” button.

Amber Wright is the general manager of the Amish Village and Inn, a retail complex in the small town of Middlebury, Indiana. When Ethan Gray is found dead in the coffee boutique that he runs, the police call it a heart attack—“natural causes”—and that seems to be it. Except Amber is convinced that Ethan was murdered. And, there seems to be someone who has a grudge against Amber and the Amish Village. Several acts of vandalism have gotten everyone on edge. Are they related to Ethan's death or not?

This was an engaging read. I suspect that the series will end with only three volumes. I'd love to see yet another outing for Amber, Hannah, and all the characters at the Amish Village shops. But, if that's not to happen, there are quite a number of books by Ms. Chapman that I haven't yet read.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday Summary: 26 July 2015

Where I've been reading

After a short road-trip and vacation and then two weeks working from home, I went back to a more normal work schedule this week. I flew to Northern Virginia on the outskirts of Washington, DC, on Monday morning and back home on Thursday evening. I wound up with a lot of new library books this week due to requests/holds all coming in at the same time. Fortunately the books borrowed through Overdrive had a three week check-out period, giving me plenty of time to schedule them in over the next couple of weeks. And, on Saturday afternoon, I set out on a drive from Dallas to Atlanta. Although it's only about fourteen hours on the road, I decided to break it up over two days. So here I sit on Saturday night in Jackson, Mississippi, making the final updates to this week's Sunday Summary.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (42)

There are an amazing number of new books at my house (mostly in my Kindle) this week. I have a record number of books from the library, the two free audiobooks from the SYNC summer give-away, and two books for review. I'm going to be spending all my free time reading in the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Focus on Freading: Ellery Queen

As I was browsing the newest entries in the Freading catalog, I knew immediately which books I wanted to bring to your attention in this first Focus on Freading post. I saw that a number of books by Ellery Queen were showing up on the New Arrivals page. “Ellery Queen” is the name of a famous fictional detective and the pen name of Fredric Dannay and Manfred Lee, cousins who wrote over 30 novels and myriad short stories starring their eponymous character. In addition to the novels written by and featuring Ellery Queen, they also lent the name as a house name for novels by other writers and published under the pseudonym of “Ellery Queen”.

Now, through Freading, libraries and their patrons have access to 39 novels and 5 short story collections by Ellery Queen. These are recent reprints by Mysterious Press, distributed by Open Road Media. Start at the beginning with The Roman Hat Mystery, originally published in 1929, and read through to the detective's last appearance in A Fine and Private Place from 1971.

Book descriptions below provided by the publisher.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday Post: 19 July 2015

Where I've been reading

I had a second week at home in Texas. I would have liked to take care of stuff that needs to be done, but I didn't. I still have a huge mound of laundry to wash, dry, and fold. I haven't made the sweet potato muffins I promised my hubby. I didn't sew or knit at all during these past two weeks. I just worked, read, and watched a little bit of TV. And, I spent each Saturday with my grandson. He's become quite the engineer or architect with Legos, building cars and boats and buildings with amazing creativity for a 5-year-old.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (41)

I'm doing very well with my commitment to avoid buying books. The only new books at Reading in Texas were the two free Audiobooks from the SYNC summer reading program. This week's books are set on the mighty Mississippi River.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Introducing Focus on Freading

Introducing a brand new weekly feature at Reading in Texas. I want to bring attention to Freading, an ebook service for libraries. I'm thrilled that my library has a subscription to Freading since the catalog contains many outstanding authors and much more of the “backlog” that other services that focus primarily on recent best sellers.

So, each week, I'll highlight books which have caught my attention at Freading.com. Sometimes, the featured books will be new additions to the online catalog. And sometimes they'll be hidden gems.

Now, I'll be up front with you. I primarily read mysteries, science fiction, and fantasy. I read almost no non-fiction and I'm not fond of romance, chick-lit, erotica, westerns, and military fiction, so these categories may not be represented very often. But, I'll try to pull myself out of my comfort zone from time to time and highlight books that aren't my usual oeuvre. And most of the time, the books will be ones that I have not yet read—but which are winding up on my “To Be Read Soon” list.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday Summary: 12 July 2015

The Red, White and Blue read-a-thon, the first of five COYER read-a-thons, is now over. I completed one book which qualified for the give-aways associated with the read-a-thon: Kris Longknife: Furious by Mike Shepherd. Just look at this cover. Really blue, right?

Where I've been reading

I was able to spend the entire week at home in Texas. Of course, that meant that I actually spent less time reading than when I'm traveling. On business travel, I have time waiting in the airport terminal and the time in flight. I also eat many meals alone and read through dinner. On road trips like last week, I have hours and hours of time to read as we speed down the highway. At home, it's another matter: I'm working, doing chores around the house, and distracting competitors to reading in the TV and Internet.

So, it's understandable that I only completed two books this week. I'm falling a little bit further behind on my annual goal of reading 200 books, but I expect to make some of this up when I turn to the mid-grade books I've been collecting to read. Those tend to be a bit shorter and have a simpler vocabulary and therefore I should be able to get a few more under my belt. For now, though I'm on a roll with two series where the books end with an obvious lead-in to the next volume. Guess I'll just keep reading away and see how things go over the next couple of months.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (40)

It's the 10th week of the 2015 SYNC program. SYNC gives away 2 FREE audiobook downloads every week each summer. SYNC audiobook titles are given away in thematic pairs. Young Adult focused titles are partnered with classics, required reading titles and other thematically appropriate Young Adult tiles to encourage literacy and listening in young people across the country.

Okay! I'm not a Young Adult. But I enjoy reading books targeted to the YA audience. I may never listen to all the books I've received through this program, but I have discovered some wonderful authors and books. This week is all about exploration.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Cover Reveal: Destiny Rising

Today is the cover reveal for Destiny Rising by Siobhan Davis. This cover reveal is organized by Lola's Blog Tours.

Destiny Rising

Isn't that an outstanding cover? See how it fits with the first two in the series:

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Sunday Summary: 5 July 2015

Yesterday marked the beginning of the third week of the summer-long COYER Challenge. It also was day one of the Red, White and Blue read-a-thon, the first of five COYER read-a-thons. Originally designed to encourage readers to focus on the freebies and review books that tend to accumulate in the eReader (hence the name Clean Out Your E-Reader), this summer's event allows reading of *any* books, electronic, audio, or printed on paper. So far, I've completed 7 books in this challenge.

Since only owned books count toward the COYER Challenge, the library books I had on hand are just extras. I have entered into a number of year-long challenges, and in order to keep up with those, I will be getting some additional books from the library throughout the summer.

Where I've been reading

I'm just returning home from a week-long Road Trip! We drove from our home in Texas to Las Vegas to deliver our granddaughter back to her mother after a lovely six-week visit with her family here in Texas. Then we took off for Canyon de Chelly in Arizona and on to Cortez, Colorado. From Cortez, we traveled to Los Alamos in New Mexico, and spent an afternoon at the Bradbury Science Museum, learning more about the establishment of the laboratory and the Manhattan Project during World War II. Finally, it was time to return to our home. We spent at least four hours each day in the car—time that I mostly spent reading. (Well, I dozed some of the time.)


Saturday, July 04, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (39)

Happy Independence Day!

I've just gotten back home from a week-long road trip. While I'm tired of sitting in the car for long hours at a time, I'm all refreshed and ready to return to work on Monday. A couple of good things about road trips:
(1) I have lots of uninterrupted time to read
(2) I don't have to go to work
(3) I'm offline most of the time

The important part of #3 is that if I'm offline, I'm not shopping for books and I'm not borrowing any from the library and I'm not requesting review books. This means that my TBR stack isn't growing. So this week, the only new books are from the weekly give-away at SYNC Audiobooks.