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Skin Game: A Novel of the Dresden Files
Skin Game: A Novel of the Dresden Files
by Jim Butcher
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.99
64 used & new from $5.45

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cool characters, mysterious quest, scary bad guys, and hope for the future, April 13, 2015
Harry Dresden is off on a classic quest, with a team of characters drawn from his past, like figures in a complex board game. Skin Game centers on the plot and counter-plot of successive trials, all nicely told with that laconic self-deprecating humor characteristic of the protagonist. He’s sure he’s messing up again, convinced his earlier betrayals will grow, and deeply hurt by the thought that he might end up being one of the bad guys. But someone else is still convinced there’s plenty of goodness in Harry, as the team of light is pitted against the dark in a haunted and scary Underworld.

Nice hints of wisdom hide in the dialog of Dresden with his friends. Curiously thought-provoking mysteries surprise the reader with enticing threads woven into the tale. And a sense of something larger continues to grow from the pages as the overarching story progresses.

Skin Game is a fun book just for itself—cool characters, mysterious quest, scary bad guys, and Dresden plotting to maybe succeed and survive. But you should probably read at least a few of the earlier books first, or you’ll struggle to know why who would be suspected of betraying whom. And there are more than plenty betrayals in this tale!

Disclosure: We waited for it to be out in paperback and bought it straight away.


A Chimerical World: Tales of the Unseelie Court
A Chimerical World: Tales of the Unseelie Court
by S. Clayton Rhodes
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.86
27 used & new from $12.62

5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! These stories are cool, scary and fun!, April 3, 2015
I have two books of A Chimerical World, Seelie and Unseelie, but somehow I found myself drawn to read this one first. Does that mean I have some affinity for the frightening side of fae? I’m not sure. But what I found was a really cool collection of radically different tales, and a really great read.

The stories are fun, intriguing, surprising, and all with secrets hidden in the dark. These fae are cruel and manipulative, huge and powerful, tiny and strange. Rebecca Leo’s In Plain Sight draws the reader straight in with mystery hiding behind a New Orleans parade. Innocent fairytales morph into Orwellian darkness in David Turnbull’s The Wunderhorn. Quietly scary horror invades Treehouse by Kim Smith. And Britain’s hallowed shores prove of source of many twisted myths and terrors. Fear of Little Men by Mike Pileoor offers a perfect blend of Victorian gothic and steampunk in the middle of the book. But Carmen Tudor’s haunting Faerie Stories and the Bean Nighe is surely my favorite. You’ll find grim humor, classic accents, horror, magic and fun in this collection, something for everyone with any turn of interest in chimerical strangeness. But be aware, by the end you’ll hear a voice crying, “Run... They’re coming,” and you’d better obey.

Disclosure: I hosted one of the authors during a blog tour and was delighted to get a chance to get a free ecopy of the book.


Dark Prelude
Dark Prelude
Price: $0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Great characters and cool introduction to the author, April 3, 2015
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This review is from: Dark Prelude (Kindle Edition)
Author Andrea Parnell recreates a convincing 1750s London, where a mysterious stranger offers a poor girl the chance to escape her fate, and rich sons battle and drink together, just for fun. Details entice the reader and make the patchwork of dark streets, gloomy houses, and docks, seem vividly real. Dialog is convincing, and characters, apart from the mysterious brothers, are nicely three-dimensional. The novella is a prequel to a longer tale, and it’s clear the brothers will become more real as history reveals their motivations.

Scary scenes of threat and escape accompany Sylvia’s flight, with nicely drawn details of the problems of running in a long skirt. Meanwhile, pleasing humor adds depth and intrigue.

The novella ends, at least in my copy, with excerpts from longer works, nicely advertising the author’s writing skills, and enticing readers to purchase more books. Occasional typos might have marred my enjoyment, but they’re probably fixed by now, and anyway, the storylines have got me thoroughly hooked. I would love to read more. (Can I download some time first please?)

Disclosure: I found that it was free and decided to try it.


Murder at the Art & Craft Fair (Book 6 Dekker Cozy Mystery Series)
Murder at the Art & Craft Fair (Book 6 Dekker Cozy Mystery Series)
Price: $2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Slow fun read, April 3, 2015
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Murder at the art and craft fair, by Steve Demaree, is told with great voice and pitch perfect dialog. It’s a fun ramble combined with cool mystery, as a close-to-retirement cop, of a certain age and weight, embarks on dating, dieting, and solving heinous crime. The nonsense chatter between him and his colleague doesn’t make for fast reading, but it’s certainly fun and intriguing. Soon though, these two cops are down at their wits end with no resolution in sight. Luckily they’ve got their trusty girlfriends to help, and some nighttime premonitions – not that dreams really offer much in the way of aid. And not that unplanned bakery stops aid in cutting crime or calories.

It’s a fun tale, relaxed, and filled with one-liners, two-liners and more; a great way to read your way through some donuts and coffee too.

Disclosure: It was free and I couldn’t resist.


Three Tales, Four Dogs
Three Tales, Four Dogs
by Roz Silva
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.99
3 used & new from $6.81

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great dogs, great lessons, great fun!, April 3, 2015
This review is from: Three Tales, Four Dogs (Paperback)
I love dogs, and I love Sue Ann Erickson’s illustrations of four great dogs on the cover to this book. Her pictures dominate the pages inside as well. Bright, fun, and filled with the sort of detail that’s bound to catch a small child’s hands and eye. There are pathways to trace, toys to find, all sorts of things “spread out on our lawn,” as Tank Takes It All in the first tale. The text is clear, short and simple; it’s easy to read while a distracted child looks for clues, and it's easy to pick up the thread when the page is turned. Rhyming is nicely unobtrusive, and the storyline is pleasing and fun.

Once Tank’s lawn has been cleared, readers move on to meet the Scaredy-Cat Dog – a perfect hero for all those kids who’ve been called names, she protects her home from the evil garbage truck. Then there are guard dogs Rocky and Ready, proving dogs might not be so scary as they look, so don't judge your friends by appearances either.

I really enjoyed this book and would love to share it with a small child, though I’d probably remind the child at the end that real dogs aren't always safe.

Disclosure: I was given a free copy and I love it!


Maya & Filippo Visit San Francisco
Maya & Filippo Visit San Francisco
Price: $2.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun addition to the series, and a fun preparation for a visit, April 3, 2015
As the Fun Princess sails into San Francisco harbor, young Maya and Filippo are set for another informative adventure. What can children do in San Francisco? Where can they go? What will they see? And how will they deal with not being able to do everything they’ve planned?

The pictures have a nice bright stylized appeal, and if Mom sometimes sounds like she’s swallowed the guidebook, it’s really not a problem. Sentences are short and sweet. Information is nicely given. And the adventure ends with a pleasing quiz, plus the conclusion that there are no right or wrong ways to visit a new place.

Maya and Filippo Visit San Francisco would be a good addition to a Maya and Filippo collection, and a fun book to share before visiting the city with kids.

Disclosure: I was lucky enough to read an ecopy before the release.


Oliver and Jumpy, Stories 10-12 (Oliver and Jumpy, the cat series)
Oliver and Jumpy, Stories 10-12 (Oliver and Jumpy, the cat series)
Price: $2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun bright stories and illustrations, April 3, 2015
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The stories of Oliver cat and Jumpy kangaroo continue to be entertaining in this next collection. The voice (Oliver’s in two out of three tales) shifts tenses and switches from formal to casual in a fairly convincing way, evoking a senior child talking to younger siblings. New friends include a bored dog, eager to be freed from his yard, visiting seagulls flying high, and a nervous butterfly called Bluey.

Illustrations are bright and cheerful, inviting children to point and share in the fun. And a wonderful idea of more ways to share is included in the back of the book. Imaginative children can make up their own stories and send the ideas to the author to be written and illustrated later. It’s a pleasing concept that should surely inspire some tiny authors to have a go.

Disclosure: The book was free, so I thought I’d give it a read.


Good Friday: Dreams and Nightmares (Twisted Family Holiday Series Book 2)
Good Friday: Dreams and Nightmares (Twisted Family Holiday Series Book 2)
Price: $1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An oddly absorbing little tale, and a fascinating read, April 3, 2015
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Widower Johnson has dreamed of a beautiful woman, during Lent. Perhaps he’s “blessed.” But “Johnson’s heart stopped,” when he saw her in the flesh. Still, “despite the feelings of panic and loss of essential organ function,” he makes his awkward way to speak to her, and true love follows... maybe.

Coffee is wonderful, secret recipes have power, and these two vendors of fine food and books seem made for each other. But Johnson’s daughter worries, and suddenly the story’s slightly odd tone makes perfect sense. Realities are clashing here, but is it dream or nightmare, the end or the beginning of everything? And what has Easter to do with it?

Good Friday Dreams and Nightmares is short, confusing, intriguing, and, in the end, really satisfying. A cool, odd little story, pleasingly out of the ordinary.

Disclosure: It was free, on Good Friday.


Crucify!: Why the Crowd Killed Jesus
Crucify!: Why the Crowd Killed Jesus
Price: $6.15

5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly readable and thought-provoking. Beautifully researched., April 3, 2015
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Fascinating and well researched details in this intriguing book not only invite readers into Biblical time and place, but also verify the legitimacy of Luke as a great historian, and of the other gospel writers as honest recorders of what they knew. Why don’t we hear of Jesus childhood – surely important to the mythology of such a great figure, if he were myth? Why don’t we hear of him living in Bethlehem as prophesied – wouldn’t this have been hugely important to the writers? Why does he tell people to keep his miracles secret if he wants to be famous? Why does he teach in parables if he wants to be understood? And why did the crowd who followed him around suddenly turn and cry “Crucify”?

Biblical references, familiar and unfamiliar, abound in this book, together with background detail that deepens their meanings. By the end, it all ties together into a convincing image of a man who, contrary perhaps to revisionist modern expectations, knew exactly who he was and did nothing by accident.

The author answers the arguments of Zealot author, Reza Asla, with clear example and explanation. At the same time, he combines the gospel timelines convincingly into a whole that constantly surprises the reader, even with familiar events. The book is beautifully written, thoroughly enthralling and intriguing, and an enjoyably satisfying read, especially as Easter approaches.

Disclosure: It was free and I couldn’t resist. It’s just my sort of thing.


Springtime: Fun Kids Science Book
Springtime: Fun Kids Science Book
Price: $0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice pictures, simple lesson, March 25, 2015
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Beautifully illustrated with vivid colors and happy-faced fruit and vegetables (and raindrops, and more), Steven Lioy’s Springtime is another sweet book for tiny tots and their parents to enjoy. My only complaint is I’d love to see all the fruit and vegetables named, as those bees pollinate them, rather than just a favored few. After all, they’re so beautifully painted in the image. But then, maybe, there’d be too many words, and it’s the pictures that make this book, fun for kids to point while parents read, and a fun way to teach those first beginning lessons of science. Yes, rain and bees are good for you!

Disclosure: It was free and I can easily imagine enjoying it with a small child.


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