Book Monster

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Honestly, I’ve had very little time to read of late and I don’t like what I’m reading, but I refuse to DNF two books in a row. The result is that I’m a this grumpy blue monster right now because I’m not getting fed with good words. Reading is that important.

July Reading Challenge Report Card

The challenge for July was to read a book that was a best-seller in the year you were born.

Here’s how we did:

Bethany

Sigh, I have to log a DNF for July. I picked Eric Van Lustbader’s “The Ninja.” The No 1 NYT bestseller for the week I was born was “The Bourne Identity,” which I’ve read twice. I knew Van Lustbader was carrying on the Bourne books for the Ludlum estate, so I thought, sure, why not? 60-some pages in, I clearly knew “why not.” The plot is flimsy at best at the beginning and there are graphic sex scenes that do nothing to move the plot along. I intended to pick up something else (looking strongly at PD James’ “Innocent Blood”) but the month vanished in a flurry of flooded basement clean-up and with that I lost a bunch of reading time. Onward to August!

Stacie

I read an Agatha Christie book titled “Sleeping Murder” featuring Miss Marple. It’s probably the equivalent of a modern cozy, as Miss Marple shows up to solve a murder. This one involved a young couple who stumble across a murder that occurred 18 years before. Spoilers: Miss Marple helps them solve it and teaches them some valuable life lessons about deductive reasoning. In all, it was a charming read.

Adult XP

Real life has been intruding in annoying ways of late, starting with a series of health and dental insurance hiccups and proceeding to an all-out disaster of storm water backup in the basement. (Yeah, that last is as bad as it sounds).

The fiancé and I started joking about these circumstances earning us “Adult XP” to bring a little levity to the situations. (And really, who decided this was a good character class to play??)

So, to help you in your adulting quest and in honor of Gen Con happening all of this weekend here in Indianapolis, here is a chart understanding how many Adult XP are awarded for different life circumstances:

  • A reboot of a childhood favorite as a new TV show or movie: 25XPkeep-calm-and-level-up-7
  • Medical insurance hassle: 50 XP
  • Hitting an age where the doctor adds a new “routine” test/procedure, etc: 50 XP
  • Planned major purchase ($500-$1,000): 100 XP
  • Moving, in-town: 125 XP
  • Planned major purchase ($1,000-$5,000): 150 XP
  • Planned major purchase for which a loan is required (car, home, boat, etc.): 200 XP
  • Moving, out of town: 175 XP
  • Going on a trip you’ve always wanted to take: 300 XP
  • Unplanned major purchase: 500 XP
  • Life event, marriage: 1000 XP
  • Life event, first child: 2500 XP
  • Life event, second child: 4000 XP
  • Life event, third+ child: 1000 XP, each
  • Life event, parenting your parent: 5000 XP

What else would you add to this list?

We interrupt your Regularly Scheduled Program

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For this public service announcement: finding a nest of baby bunnies in your back yard will cause you to stop all yard work, send the dogs indoors and snap pictures of their adorableness.

It will also make you wonder about future generations of bunnies. And whether it would be better to relocate them now. And who on your Facebook friends list might have experience in this sort of thing.

Or if anyone wants a baby bunny?

Anyone?

Book Banter: Sacrifice Fly by Tim O’Mara

Title: Sacrifice Fly
Author: Tim O’Mara
Genre: Detective / Mystery
Length: 320 pages
Where Stacie’s Copy Came From: an ARC from Minotaur Books

Plot Basics: Raymond Donne (that’s “done”, not “dawn”) is a cop turned teacher. Donne is the kind of teacher that cares about the students, sticking his neck out to make sure that they have the best chance. One of his students has been missing for too many days, and Donne pulls out the detective skills he thought he left behind him. A visit to Frankie’s home leads to a dead body and a journey to find Frankie, safe.

Banter Points: The back story is handled perfectly in O’Mara’s new series. Donne has history that colors his view of the world and O’Mara hints, explains and inserts the information into the story when and where it is needed.

The story focuses on Frankie’s disappearance, and Donne’s subsequent illegal investigation. The format allows Donne to break police procedure yet gives him the right ties into the department to keep the case moving. One tie is his Uncle with the same name, an Academy instructor, deputy and and null around importantly well connected individual. Like many relationships, this one brings Donne both good and bad results throughout the story.

The story’s focus is on the case and getting Frankie home. Along the way, Donne’s relationships show potential future growth, both in friendships with Edgar (a techie, wanna be cop) and Billy (his former partner), and romantically with two very different women. The setup is nice for future books, without the cliche of a love triangle.

Bummer Points: None at this time.

Stacie’s Recommendation: I’m sticking with this series and am looking forward to reading the next two:  Crooked Numbers and Dead Red.

Book Banter: The Fraud

thefraudTitle: The Fraud (Carter Ross #6)

Author: Brad Parks

Length: 345 pages

Genre: Mystery

Where Bethany’s Copy Came From: Review copy provided by the author

Plot Basics: Newark, New Jersey, always suffers from carjackings. But when a seemingly respectable business man is killed during one, the newspaper takes note and assigns investigative reporter Carter Ross to sniff out a story. Carter realizes there are more victims than just one white man. But his digging takes him close to the edge of illegal activity and puts his very pregnant girlfriend and editor in peril.

Banter Points: This series keeps getting better. Carter is such a wonderful narrator and Parks’ portrayal of modern journalism is so spot on. Also, Parks is doing what I’m not seeing Lee Child do (and wish he would). Each plot stands alone, but time is moving around Carter in ways that he has to deal with and the personal part of Carter’s life ties it all together.

Also, there’s solid mystery in these pages with plenty of twists and turns. It’s no wonder Parks keeps winning awards for his books.

Bummer Points: It’s not a bummer yet, but Carter does a major thing at the end of the book that I hope Parks uses in the future to push Carter’s character farther. If he doesn’t, I’ll be bummed then.

Word Nerd Recommendation: I’d say go back and read the whole series, but really you can jump in at any point and The Fraud isn’t a bad place to start.

Book Banter: Dead Heat

18941694Title:  Dead Heat (Alpha & Omega #4)
Author:  Patricia Briggs
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Length:  324 pages
Where Stacie’s Copy Came From:  Oshkosh Public Library

Plot Basics:   Charles and Anna combine a visit to an old friend with a horse buying trip. Anna is surprised that Charles hasn’t mentioned his friend Joseph — a human — is dying. Once in Phoenix, they are pulled into Kage’s family for more than the purchase of a horse: a fae has targeted Chelsea. Charles and Anna team up with FBI agent Leslie Fisher and local Cantrip agents to find a missing child and bring her home.

Banter Points:  It’s inevitable that Charles and Anna are always going to be pulled into cases; I like how Briggs uses their travel and life together to show the impact of the Fae and Werewolves on the human population. Agents like Leslie and Cantrip are a realistic reaction to changes in this urban fantasy. The complementary storyline to Mercy Thompson is an excellent way to appease readers who want to know more about this complex world without burdening the same group of characters with overly complex storylines.

Briggs is a horse person and adds them into this story as an integral part of the telling without over doing the details. She picks Arabians as the breed Charles wants to buy for Anna. By the end of the story, I was half way to wanting to know more about them and understand their character and personalities. And I’m not a horse person at all. It’s a challenging balance for an author to achieve and Briggs accomplished it.

Also, the raising of the stakes by showing how the Fae are violating the treaty?  Yeah, I cannot wait to see where this one goes.

Bummer Points: I never get the sense that either Charles or Anna is in any real danger. I wouldn’t want any harm to come to either of them but there is this steadiness about the two of them that let’s me know that they are always coming to come out on top, leaving the characters introduced to be the ones to bear the burden of tradegy.  Briggs is capable of writing this way as there have been times when I wondered about the two main characters in the Mercy Thompson series.

Stacie’s Recommendation:  Grab it. This is a must read series for me.   But be sure to switch over to the Mercy Thompson series and read both in order.  You’ll appreciate the world-building Briggs has done by doing so.

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