Brothers Keepers by Donald E. Westlake

 

 

Brothers Keepers
AVAILABLE NOW!
What will a group of monks do when their two-century-old monastery in New York City is threatened with demolition to make room for a new high-rise? Anything they have to. “Thou Shalt Not Steal” is only the first of the Commandments to be broken as the saintly face off against the unscrupulous over that most sacred of relics, a Park Avenue address.
Returning to bookstores for the first time in three decades, BROTHERS KEEPERS offers not only a master class in comedy from one of the most beloved mystery writers of all time but also a surprisingly heartfelt meditation on loss, temptation, and how we treat our fellow man.

Release date: February 5, 2019 
**Note– This book was first published in 1975 and is a re-release!**

If you keep up with my blog and my reading lists, you will note that I’ve read one of Donald E. Westlake’s books and reviewed it here before.  If you’re interested in hard case crime novels, as I sometimes am, you should check him out.

But, being that this novel was written quite some time ago, a reader must understand that the language and the story itself is very much a product of its time. For example, in the second chapter of Brothers Keepers, there is a small section where a monk is writing a letter to Miss Ada Louise Huxtable of The New York Times. There are many starts and stops to the letter, but the letter itself is set up in a style in which not many younger people today might recognize with a name and address in the left corner, date in the right, and a formal letter following. I was taught how to write a business letter in high school, but a lot of schools aren’t teaching this skill today and it’s becoming lost in translation with email writing as a preferred method of conveyance and text messaging coming in a close second. Obviously, it takes on a second to figure out what’s going on, but the difference in the times might come as somewhat of an amusement to some and makes this story even more fun to read.

A world without cell phones and internet in every device? How novel.

Mostly,  Brothers Keepers is a timeless story. The monks themselves are all very well written and their attitudes toward their home being scheduled for destruction in order to make way for modern growth within their city are well portrayed. Westlake’s writing–and the humor within–is absolutely delightful as usual. Whatever feelings and anxieties over a dire situation the monastery went through in the story can easily be translated into the issues and goings on of today. The story and characters will resonate well with a newer generation and likely generations to come.

Brothers Keepers is available from Amazon.com in Kindle ($6.15) or Paperback ($ 8.14) form. 

 

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A Demon And His Witch by Eve Langlais

DemonandhiswitchRelease date: June 2012
Genre: Paranormal romance

Burning alive is nothing compared to the heat of his touch.

There are better ways to break up with a girl than having her roasted at the stake as a witch. Is it any wonder Ysabel has trust issues? She got her revenge, though, and it only cost her a slightly tarnished soul.

Working for Lucifer isn’t all bad, until her ex-boyfriend escapes the bowels of Hell and she’s forced to team up with a womanizing demon to fetch the jerk back.

As a minion in Lucifer’s legion, Remy’s seen a lot of things, but nothing can prepare him for the witch with the acerbic tongue – and voluptuous figure. The more she pushes him away, the more determined he becomes to seduce her. However, what’s a poor demon to do when he accidentally falls in love and wants to keep her forever?

Welcome to Hell where you’re screwed if you do and damned if don’t. And just so you know, Lucifer has a special spot reserved for you…

I have had this book resting on my Kindle device forever. I’m glad I dove further into the TBR pile this weekend because I really enjoyed this book and will probably soon gift myself with the rest of the series. There are six books in the Welcome To Hell series and this is the first one.

The main characters are fantastic. Ysabel is a very likable witch. I enjoy her quick reactions. She is certainly not a damsel in distress, though she does find herself in a bit of a hot pickle. Being that A Demon and His Witch is a shorter read, the reader (that’s us!) doesn’t get to see too much into Ysabel’s past, which I thought would have made for an interesting novel in itself, possibly several volumes (lol).

BUT… (Drumroll)

As Ysabel is such a strong, smart character, I find it difficult to believe she didn’t see the betrayal from her lover in the end of her life. I do get that sometimes people only see the good in others, but Ysabel was written sharply–little hidden, speaks her mind…I felt like she would have been more likely to have seen him for what he was eons ago, but had she, this would have been a totally different story.

The hero in this story is an alpha male, in case that matters to any of you. Remy is a half demon, half mortal. In the story, we readers meet his demon mother and learn that his mortal father was accidentally killed by his mother (who says she loved him, but…). We quickly learn that Remy is a take charge sorta guy, he’s toying with the idea that he might settled down to a forever relationship, although it goes completely against his previous dating practices (in which he just sort of meanders from bed to bed, I suppose lol).

The plot of the story is basically strewn right out in the back cover blurb, so I won’t get into too much description of it here and I certainly don’t want to give you any big spoilers because people who do that suck. The gist of it is that Ysabel and Remy are tasked with bringing five escaped damned souls back to hell. These particular souls were people responsible for Ysabel’s death, so obviously it’s personal for her. Remy and Ysabel are quite the match and their constant banter was hilarious.

Four stars! YAY.

A Demon and His Witch by Eve Langlais is available at Amazon.com for Kindle at $2.99 and Paperback at $7.99. 

The Smoke by Simon Ings

The SmokeQuick FYI before we begin this review…

You know when you’re a kid and you’re minding your own business, just sitting down somewhere behaving, and then out of nowhere your older sibling comes along and sideswipes your entire head with a giant, heavy, feather pillow, knocking you into the floor? And before you even knew what happened, they just keep hitting you with the pillow? That’s what this book will do to you if you’re not carefully paying attention. 

Simon Ings’ The Smoke is about love, loss and loneliness in an incomprehensible world. 

Humanity has been split into three different species. Mutual incomprehension has fractured the globe. As humans race to be the first of their kind to reach the stars, another Great War looms.

For you that means returning to Yorkshire and the town of your birth, where factories churn out the parts for gigantic spaceships. You’re done with the pretentions of the capital and its unfathomable architecture. You’re done with the people of the Bund, their easy superiority and unstoppable spread throughout the city of London and beyond. You’re done with Georgy Chernoy and his questionable defeat of death. You’re done with his daughter, Fel, and losing all the time. You’re done with love.

But soon enough you will find yourself in the Smoke again, drawn back to the life you thought you’d left behind.

You’re done with love. But love’s not done with you.

To be completely honest, there is a lot going on in those pages. This novel is not for everyone. However, Simon Ings has clearly grasped and delivered to his readers an unmistakable grief and the loss of any need to go on. Those are emotions I find hard to describe when I’m writing and I know other authors do too. To do this well is commendable, particularly in an alternative history setting.

But, reader beware. It is extremely easy to get completely lost in this book. As a matter of fact, I’ve had it on my night stand a few months and it has taken me a while to put myself into the right head space to read the story and be able to give it the attention it deserves. That does NOT mean I didn’t like it or couldn’t get into it, but alternately that after reading a fair bit I realized I needed to be able to concentrate in order to not get completely lost. Books with later release dates were finished before this one as The Smoke is not a particularly easy read. Not by any measure.

With most difficult tasks, though, I found the reward to be satisfying. Characterization and writing were both wonderful and I enjoyed the plot, too. The story will break your heart if you’re not careful.

For a reader only just beginning to enjoy the science fiction genre, if you’re looking for a novel to get your literary feet wet, maybe try something else until you’re ready. Or maybe buy it read it slowly in order to keep track of what’s really happening within the plot. I most certainly do give my recommendation, though. Well done, Simon Ings.

The Highland Chieftain by Amy Jarecki

chieftain
After being unceremoniously jilted by her betrothed, Lady Mairi MacKenzie is humiliated and heartbroken – but she’s not desperate. As the daughter of an earl, she won’t give her hand to just anyone, and she definitely isn’t swayed by a last-minute proposal from Laird Duncan MacRae. The powerful clan chieftain may be disarmingly handsome and charming, but he’s not a nobleman. Mairi doesn’t want his pity or his charity – even though his dark smoldering gaze makes her melt with desire.
Dunn may be a battle-hardened clansman, but he’s always had a soft spot for Mairi. For years, she tormented him with flirtation – only to reject him. But he’s not giving up. When Mairi is attacked by redcoats, Dunn goes after the woman he loves. Through brute strength and fierce action, he will protect her life at any cost. But to win her heart, he will have to show her the tenderness in his own.

Look folks, I can’t say how happy I was to have found this author. Show me a Laird with some integrity, and I’ll show you all of my Kindle money. Seriously. And, ya wanna know the cool thing? Amy Jarecki has more books out there. So, I’m broke now.

This particular book is exactly as the blurb says. There is nothing in advertisement that isn’t delivered within the pages of the story. You get what you ask for and you get it in a way that holds you for as long as it takes to read the entire story.

Starting with the main character, Mairi MacKenzie, I’ll say that she is someone I would want to be my friend. Her range of feelings throughout the book are very human, which a reader tends to appreciate. Though she is a strong character, she isn’t out of touch with reality (her own reality, that is). Maybe the author knew someone like her and that’s why Mairi turned out to be a character I felt I knew.

Dunn, on the other hand, was just as real, but somewhat of a different sort–and that’s not a bad thing. Who doesn’t love a highlander with a heart of gold? He was very well written and a very realistic match for Mairi MacKenzie.

The KINDLE copy of The Highland Chieftain is only $3.99 and has 100% earned my stamp of approval and a full recommendation. Go buy it and read it today. TODAY, folks. You’re welcome.

 

A Summer Scandal by Kat French

scandalWhen Violet moves to Swallow Beach, she inherits a small Victorian pier with an empty arcade perched on the end of it, and falls in love immediately. She wants nothing more than to rejuvenate it and make it grand again – but how?

When she meets hunky Calvin, inspiration strikes. What if she turned the arcade into an adult-themed arcade full of artisan shops?

Not everyone in the town is happy with the idea, but Violet loves her arcade and business begins to boom. But as tensions worsen and the heat between her and Calvin begins to grow, life at Swallow Beach becomes tricky. Is it worth staying to ride out the storm? And can Violet find her own happy ending before the swallows fly south for the winter?

Well, I’m going to start this review off by saying that there is absolutely nothing within the pages I’d call scandalous. Not one thing. It’s a very vanilla romance with very vanilla characters who have very vanilla problems. That doesn’t make it a bad book, however. Even though the title is somewhat misleading, it’s a decent read, if not somewhat dull through the majority of it.

But, since the word scandalous is right in the title, I will say that I had higher hopes for the story and the characters–particularly the main character and her love interest. Yes, I know that a scandal could be described in ways that are debatable–one gal’s scandal is certainly not the next, so take this with a grain of salt.

There is a bit of comedy within the story, which some of my blog readers know I love. So, it has that going for it. I may give this author another shot one day, but honestly I won’t go out of my way. I’ll recommend this book to some of my friends who read this sort of thing, though! Happily, too. It’s well written and the story is well formed–no big issues with anything other than that it just simply wasn’t for me.

Get a KINDLE copy of A Summer Scandal by Kat French for $5.99 if you’re interested. 

Wild Hunger by Chloe Neill

***WARNING***
This book is the Heirs Of Chicagoland No. 1, meaning there will soon be an Heirs Of Chicagoland No. 2. However, if you are unfamiliar with this author, please note that she has another series called the Chicagoland Vampires Novels that I feel maybe you should read first. It is NOT necessary because I didn’t start with the Chicagoland Vampires Novels and I felt Wild Hunger stood alone fine. But, I wish I had started with the Chicagoland Vampires Novels. If you, like me, like things to go perfectly in order, maybe start with Some Girls Bite

Wild-Hunger-Final.jpg

As the only vampire child ever born, some believed Elisa Sullivan had all the luck. But the magic that helped bring her into the world left her with a dark secret. Shifter Connor Keene, the only son of North American Central Pack Apex Gabriel Keene, is the only one she trusts with it. But she’s a vampire and the daughter of a Master and a Sentinel, and he’s prince of the Pack and its future king.

When the assassination of a diplomat brings old feuds to the fore again, Elisa and Connor must choose between love and family, between honor and obligation, before Chicago disappears forever.

RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 14, 2018
AVAILABLE AT AMAZON.COM

I loved this book. It was one of those I couldn’t put down and I felt like I knew each character personally. I have never read anything else by this author, but I’ve already looked her up and I think I’m going to have to look into some of her other series (Devil’s Isle Series, I’m looking at you).  I never once got lost through reading details, lengthy dialogs, or descriptions and I felt the plot pretty much carried itself.

I did expect there to be more interaction between Connor Stupid Keane and Elisa Sullivan, but after I read the entire novel I realize there is probably a good reason why there wasn’t. Their story is building over a few books, obviously, and there is very little in entertainment value lost by not hearing from Connor in every single chapter. Somehow, it works quite well.

The only regret I have is that I didn’t wait until closer to the release date to read the book because now I am ready for the second book, which hasn’t even been announced, much less given a release date. And, the anticipation is really driving me bananas! That being said, I’ll be singing Chloe Neill’s praises all summer long, at every opportunity. And, I’ll be (not so) patiently awaiting the announcement of a second Heirs Of Chicagoland novel.

Bravo, Chloe Neill.
Now, about that second Heirs Of Chicagoland novel…

 

The Earl, the Vow, and the Plain Jane by Cheryl Bolen–Review

BolenRelease date: June 12, 2018
Available for pre-order NOW!

Bereft of beauty as well as fortune, the exceedingly plain Miss Jane Featherstone has failed to attract any suitor during her three Seasons. Rather than be a burden to her brother and his obnoxious wife, Miss Featherstone vows to accept the first man who asks—even though she’s always worshipped a lord who’s far above her touch. . .

Lord Slade must marry an heiress in order to honor the deathbed vow he made to his father, and he needs Miss Featherstone’s help in wooing her beautiful cousin. After her initial anger, Miss Featherstone agrees to his scheme, telling him she’s doing so because she admires his Parliamentary record of humanitarian legislation and his reverence for truth. But the more he’s with the two cousins, the more attracted he becomes to Miss Featherstone. What’s a man of his word to do? Break a vow to a beloved father—or follow his heart with Miss Featherstone?

*******

It didn’t take me long to read this book, probably only two sittings. I liked the story. I loved the premise behind it. The characters were okay, too. But, that was it. They were just okay. Not spectacular, not extraordinary, and I would not call Lord Slade an alpha male at any turn, for any reason. Obviously a vow to a dying father was important, but a man caring for three sisters should have realized (way before he did) that those left alive are far more important than any vow, particularly minors in his care. He was only a man and Jane was only an average woman–the Plain Jane, I suppose. I expected much more from these characters. By their descriptions, I envisioned totally different people.

I really felt like the book was missing some umph.

Regardless, there were a lot of things within the story I liked, otherwise I would have taken much longer to read it. There were also things (and characters) I really hated, which, to a certain degree, was the reason I stuck around to finish the story.

I really hated the younger cousin, Sarah, and I desperately wanted somebody to shove a pie in her face–unfortunately, no pies landed. Major bummer, right? She was a bit sure of herself and, even though she was young, I really think she could have taken better care of her words regarding beauty and Miss Featherstone.

Some people, amirite?

This was a very sweet romance, too, so not really the sort of book I’m used to picking up. I tend to read racier, edgier, faster paced books. When I, on purpose, pick up a sweet romance, I expect for there to be some sort of major conflict or, at the very least, some really warm scenes. In this book, a lot of that was really lost. To add insult to injury, so to say, the ending unfolded too quickly for the amount of build up behind it. I’m okay with knowing what’s going to happen before it does (and any reader can tell you this is very common), but I really dislike being let down in the delivery of these happenings.

I can’t say that I can give a recommendation for this book to anyone unless I give them a full report of the letdowns as well as the good points, so you have all been warned. Three stars.