Book 59 of 2015: The Deathsniffer’s Assistant by Kate McIntyre

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The Deathsniffer’s Assistant is a fantasy novel with a unique pseudo-Edwardian setting and a murder mystery twist. What’s not to love about floating castles, eccentric lady detectives, and a protagonist who judges everyone by the quality of their shoes!
After losing his parents in the Floating Castle Incident, the sensitive and mannered Chris Buckley has spent six years raising his magically talented little sister, Rosemary. They have been living on the savings that his once-wealthy family left behind. That money is drying up, and Chris finds himself with no choice but to seek out work in Darrington City as it spirals into a depression. The only employer willing to consider his empty résumé is O. Faraday, the manic Deathsniffer. Faraday’s special magical gift is a heightened intuition which is invaluable in hunting down murderers.
When a Duchess calls on Olivia to solve the mystery of her dead husband, Chris finds himself tangled in Faraday’s daily life and unable to extract himself from the macabre questions of the investigation. His involvement grows more complicated as political forces close around Rosemary. They only see her as a tool that can be used to end the depression at the cost of her freedom—or even her life.
Chris must juggle the question of who killed Viktor val Daren with the responsibility of keeping Rosemary and her magic safe from those who would use her up and toss her aside. Worst of all, he begins to learn that the national disaster that took his parents’ lives may not have been the accident it seemed.
Set in a world very similar to 1900s London, The Deathsniffer’s Assistant combines the investigative murder mystery with a tale of personal and societal redemption. It is about the relationships between broken people who clash more often than not, but manage to shape and learn from one another in spite of this. The story is told from the perspective of Christopher Buckley, young and impressionable and influenced by the prejudices of his time, as he finds himself surrounded by a cast of exceptional women whose differing characters will slowly reconstruct his understanding of strength in others—and in himself.

I will start this review by saying that I received this book through the publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, for an honest review.

The Deathsniffer’s Assistant intrigued me the moment I read the blurb. I love fantasy and I love mysteries. Add in that it has a turn of the century feel and I was sold.

The first thing to note about the book is that there is a broad magic system involved. However, it isn’t difficult to comprehend. The names of each person pretty much says what they are able to do. For instance, sumfinders find sums. They are accountants, bookies, loan sharks, etc. Wordweavers weave words; they are the writers, the office workers, secretaries, etc. In this sense, the magic didn’t fly over my head and confuse me. I didn’t feel like I needed a glossary (unlike the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson).

The author basically puts you right into the world and into the life of Christopher Buckley, a young man trying to support his sister and keep his family legacy. He’s a wordweaver, which isn’t the best of categorizations, but he’s good at his job. He worries about his image to society, he is constantly trying to figure out what is the best thing to say (even if he doesn’t agree), and he wants to keep his sister safe. I related to him the best. I’m like Christopher . . . well, except for his reason of keeping his sister safe. That isn’t a problem of mine.

Christopher does find a job with a Deathsniffer. A Deathsniffer is a branch of Truthsniffer. As you can guess, Truthsniffers are the police or private investigators of Tarland (the world in the book). A Deathsniffer is a fancy word for saying homicide detective or person who only deals in mysteries that involve death/murder. Olivia Faraday is one of the best and she’s Christopher’s boss.

If you need a little idea of her personality, I would peg her like Sherlock Holmes. Don’t worry though, she does have her own little niche. She’s not just a female Sherlock. She does have issues with societal ways, but instead of being awkward about it, she just ignores it. She wears frilly things that don’t make you think “I work with the dead.” She reminds me of the “crazy” category in Sims 2.

The main mystery was fairly easy to figure out once I hit 50% in. I had a feeling I knew who the killer was, but I was incorrect as to why the killer killed. However, the murder mystery wasn’t what really intrigued me. In the midst of the homicide, there is also a political war going on. There are factions going against each other and Christopher’s sister may be the key to it all.

McIntyre was able to weave a mystery while still making the world believeable. She left hints that there is more than what we are seeing and shows it through Christopher’s actions and story. I can’t wait to read more to see what is going on. Is there something more to Christopher than a Wordweaver? What happened to the Floating Castle? How is Olivia and Christopher’s relationship going to grow? These are all questions that aren’t answered in this book. Luckily, there should be more in the works… at least whenever I see “#1″, I instantly think series.

The Deathsniffer’s Assistant is a good fantasy/mystery that makes you want more. It has humor, awkward characters, and I honestly found every bit of it enjoyable. I can’t wait to see what Kate McIntyre has in store with the Deathsniffer and her Assistant.

What America NEEDS

These past few years have been a struggle for America. You can’t deny that. It seems every day there is a new riot or a new person shot by a person of authority. You see it every day on Facebook, Twitter, the news . . . everywhere. There are African American people who are upset. There are Caucasian people who are upset. I’m not sure about the Asian or Latino communities, but I’m sure there are some who are upset as well.

When we aren’t looking at race, there are Christians who are upset. There are Muslims who are. There are homosexuals. There are heterosexuals. I did miss a few people, but basically, you can say everyone is upset. And we aren’t all upset about one side or the other. We are upset with each other.

America is like the parent and everyone within its borders are her children. We are having sibling rivalry. We are jealous of each other or think that there is jealousy. We hate each other or think that there is hate. Whatever the truth is, we are blinded by these emotions and aren’t looking to embrace one another.

Over many years there has been great change, but not enough. I know this. You know this. You may not agree with what I’ve said and what I will say, but know this: I only want people to acknowledge that not everyone should be lumped into one category.

For instance, I am a caucasian and asian pacific islander mix. I am not comfortable in my racial background. I don’t know anything about the Fillippino culture except that pancit, chicken adobo, and lumpia are amazing. I don’t know who decided not to enrich my life with the culture. I don’t know if it was an ancestor when my grandmother’s family moved to America. I don’t know if it was my father’s decision. I don’t know if it was my own. Whatever the case may be, I’m not comfortable about that part of my racial heritage.

On the other side, I know more about my German, Welsh, and Danish background. I have some traditions passed down. I love that part of my heritage. I understand it. But, do I feel comfortable in a pure white setting? No. I still feel like an outsider no matter the case.

Where do I feel comfortable? AMERICA. There are political views I dislike greatly. There are choices made for our futures I dislike. I do get upset and sometimes say what a terrible country we live in. But, ultimately, I love America.

I love it for its diversity. I am not a typical white/asian straight woman. I’ve had crushes on girls. I’m not Christain. (In fact I don’t have a religion. I have faith.) I have a sister who is a lesbian and married who had a kid before she found her wife. I have a brother who lives with his partner. I have a father, a stepfather, and my best friend’s father is like my own. I say I have three mothers: my biological one and two of my best friends’ mothers. I am not typical. I should not be lumped in one category or the other, EXCEPT for AMERICAN.

What you need to understand is, you are not a typical white or black or hispanic or whatever. You are you. It is beautiful. Enough shaming yourself when you look in the mirror. Enough shaming others when you get upset about how your background is being represented. The representation isn’t the majority. It’s not even the minority. It is a representation. It is a visual to help depict something. It’s not the truth.

The problem is . . . we rely too much on our political views and on the views of the media to do the thinking and love for us. I’m not saying they are inadequate tools. They are great tools, but tools shouldn’t determine a person’s view. We shouldn’t have our Media “teaching” us about race or have our TV shows depict one race as better or racial shaming of any kind.

Instead of getting upset when someone doesn’t understand your struggles, we should try and teach with our whole heart. We should all educate each other. No two people are the same. We need to be proud of our background, but more proud of our union as a nation. Race shouldn’t be the end all be all. It should be a celebration for our nation.

What needs to happen is change within the home. The home is where everything begins and everything ends. The government isn’t going to change personal views. The media isn’t going to change personal views. It is how you raise your family or you are raised that will change the views of the future. I propose a more culturally diverse school system. Instead of job days, it should be culture days. Schools should welcome various expressions of culture and allow children to ask the hard questions. Those children will then be able to educate their parents or peers. Every school needs this. Every child needs this for a better nation.

I don’t want people to forget that AMERICAN CULTURE is the broad term of all the cultures. I view the word AMERICAN as an embrace of every culture around and wanting to be educated. You can be (and should be) proud of your heritage, but that heritage isn’t the only building block of AMERICAN CULTURE.

I’m not saying there aren’t civil issues that need to be adressed. They do. However, we need to work towards education and embracing one another in order to make the country we want.

I saw a picture today of a police officer helping a protestor. The police officer probably didn’t care for the protestor’s opinions, but he helped a man out. I don’t know if the protestor said anything to him, but I hope he thanked that officer. The protestor probably didn’t know that a black man could ever want to help a white man who actively dislikes anyone not white. If he did thank the officer, I’m sure the black officer would never have thought that his action would bring out a piece of humanity.

You would never have known that the actions of the police officer and protestor were color related if I let it alone. You would have seen a good man doing his job despite the political differences. Despite the cultural differences. That needs to be celebrated. It doesn’t need to be seen as a black man once again showing patience in the midst of chaos. It should be seen as a man being a man. It needs to be seen as a human being helping another human being despite differences. That police officer wasn’t being patient because it’s expected . . . he was being human because he believes in treating people with respect.

Education. Love. Respect. That is what our nation needs to stop racial distress. We don’t need “reality TV” to teach us. We don’t need our senators to teach us. We don’t need our news to teach us. WE NEED EACH OTHER TO TEACH US. I need you and you need me.

And, once we’ve started that revolution, maybe, just maybe, our government and media will follow.

Book 58 of 2015: Prophet of the Badlands by Matthew Cox

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For most twelve year olds, being kidnapped is terrifying. For Althea, it’s just Tuesday.

Her power to heal the wounded and cleanse the sick makes her a hunted commodity in the Badlands, a place devoid of technology where the strong write the law in blood. For as long as she can remember, they always come, they always take her, and she lets them. Passed around in an endless series of abductions, she obeys without question―mending those who killed to own her.

After three whole months in the same village, the affection of a young warrior makes her feel almost like a member of the tribe rather than a captive. Her brief joy shatters when raiders seize her yet again; for the first time in six years, being stolen hurts.

A reluctant escape sends her wandering, and she realizes her gift is a prize that causes as much death as it prevents. Her attempt to return to the tribe leaves her lost and alone, hounded at every turn. When a family who sees her not as the Prophet―but as a little girl―takes her in, she finds the courage to use her power to protect those she loves.

A strange man from a world beyond her imagining tests her newfound resolve, seeking to use her power to further his own agenda. Tired of being property, her freedom boils down to one question:

Can Althea balance the sanctity with which she holds all life against the miserable truth that some people deserve to die?

Let me begin by saying that I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Curiosity Quills Press. It is for an honest review.

Now that’s out of the way, I need to say that Prophet of the Badlands was a book I had to put down on numerous occasions. There could be many reasons why I would do this. Maybe I had a busy family life, time constraints on other books, the book may have been terrible, or perhaps parts of the story were too upsetting to be taken in large doses. For me, this book was more of the last reason and a bit of the first (family issues aren’t for a review, but they were there).

The first thing that came to my mind was: Mad Max. The Badlands and the people residing in them were very much like the bullet holed cars and bald headed creepers that the Mad Max movies comprise of. These bad guys don’t hold back in their actions. Their evil is commonplace, but doesn’t make them any less evil.

That said, as the story progressed, there was more to it than men in torn clothes stealing a little girl for profit (no pun intended on the title). The world has a history that, if you are new to, you learn through minor things gathered from an illiterate innocent child. I still don’t know the full story about the world, but I am more than intrigued. I would come back to this world. There are cities very similar to Fifth Element meeting Bladerunner bordered by a world likening to Mad Max. What made this world come to be? What kind of war could do this? You get some answers, but you are left wanting more (in a fun way, not in a “I need to know to understand the story” way).

Althea, our twelve year old main character, is a special child. She’s pale with blonde hair and unusual eyes. They glow. She is a commodity in the Badlands. Throughout the tribes and raiders, she is known as the Prophet. She can heal people, speak through the mind, and can make a person feel something they never had before. To the civilized world, we find out who she is, but for the Badlands, Althea is a rare being.

The first thirty percent was a bit slow for me. We aren’t introduced to the family the blurb suggests right away. Instead, we are met with Althea’s first love and her abduction away from him. This abduction leads to new people who introduce her to new thoughts and emotions. Something inside her is stirring.

After that thirty percent, the book gets fast. Althea grows and makes decisions that had me at the edge of my seat. I wanted her to pull through. I had to set aside the book each time her life seemed just too bleak, but couldn’t leave the world because I needed to know that she would survive. Her innocence and need to take care of people resonated in me. Yes, she was innocent, but she wasn’t the kind of innocence that you’d want to smack. Althea chose to be innocent. She chose to help people even if they were evil to her. She chose to value life over anything else. Qualities that I have to applaud.

By the time I reached the fifty mark, Althea’s life makes yet another turn. In that moment, most of my questions were answered. A new world was introduced. A new life as well. However, I kept wanting Althea to have something more. I wanted her to be happy.

The book ended beautifully. Since this is in a series, I can be sure that the questions I have or even the excitement of the world will continue. What I’ve also noticed is that this world is the setting in other books by Matthew Cox. I may need to read those in the future as well.

This is a must read for Sci-Fi/dystopian lovers. It has everything I could want in a book of that genre. I loved every bit of it. I loved the strong emotions it gave me. I loved the attatchment I had for Althea. I loved the inventiveness of the world and the hints at what made the world come to be. I loved it from the beginning to the end.

Book 57 of 2015: Dream A Little Dream by Kerstin Gier

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Mysterious doors with lizard-head knobs. Talking stone statues. A crazy girl with a hatchet. Yes, Liv’s dreams have been pretty weird lately. Especially the one where she’s in a graveyard at night, watching four boys conduct dark magic rituals.

The strangest part is that Liv recognizes the boys in her dream. They’re classmates from her new school in London, the school where she’s starting over because her mom has moved them to a new country (again). But what’s really scaring Liv is that the dream boys seem to know things about her in real life, things they couldn’t possibly know–unless they actually arein her dreams? Luckily, Liv never could resist a good mystery, and all four of those boys are pretty cute….

This is the fourth book by Kerstin Gier that I’ve read. Under a recommendation, I found this book in the library and quickly got a hold of it. Though I technically started it a while ago, I didn’t really get time to delve into its world(s) until just recently.

Dream a Little Dream is a young adult book that is part paranormal, part romance, and part mystery. The main character, Liv, and her younger sister, Mia, live their lives moving around. They’ve been to many countries and schools… too many to count. When the plans of a forever home is changed, they feel their lives changing once again. Change is normal for Liv, except when it deals with a new family, new school, and a mystery.

I love Liv. She is a smartass, intelligent, and doesn’t let the typical teen drama get to her. When a mystery comes into her life, she’s even more alive. This girl seems to thrive in dangerous or potentially dangerous situations.

The big mystery is the group of four boys in the school. No, they aren’t vampires. They are regular rich popular boys, but they have a secret. Every boy has their own personality. No two boys are the same. And before you start worrying about a huge love pentagram. . . nope, not there either. In fact, the romance is solidified to one boy. The other three are important though. They are central to the mystery and, to be honest, they were enjoyable to read. I absolutely love Jasper and Grayson (two complete opposites).

The good thing about Kerstin Gier is that it’s easy to get into her worlds. Granted, she’s a German native and the book I read has been translated, but so many things can get lost in translation. I wasn’t lost in the book. I could understand everything and wanted to continue. So, for native English readers, fear not!

The concept of dream worlds is very interesting. It made me wonder what my dream door would look like. Each world was inventive and interesting. Though you may or may not know the exact detail of everything, Gier was able to give an imaginative and believeable situation. Well, believeable in a fantasy style.

In all, I am interested enough for the second book and will have to wait patiently for it. I actually liked this book better than the Ruby Red trilogy and I really like that series. The ending was a bit abrupt, but I feel that if it wasn’t, it would start to bore the readers. However, the ending hints that there’s more to the mystery than what Liv thinks. Which makes it exciting.

Book 56 of 2015: The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie

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In that place where you’re more asleep than awake any more, I hear something else. A phrase uttered in a child’s voice, no more than a whisper: Night Night.

Something freaky’s going on with Sunshine’s new house . . . there’s the chill that wraps itself around her bones, the giggling she can hear in the dead of night, and then the strange shadows that lurk in her photographs. But the more weird stuff that happens, the less her mum believes her. Sunshine’s always had a quirky affiliation with the past, but this time, history is getting much too close for comfort . . .

If there is something, or someone, haunting her house, what do they want? And what will they do if Sunshine can’t help them?

As things become more frightening and dangerous, and the giggles she hears turn to sobs and screams, Sunshine has no choice but to accept what she is, face the test before her and save her mother from a fate worse than death.

The first in a frighteningly good new series based on the popular YouTube sensation The Haunting of Sunshine Girl Network, created by Paige McKenzie.

I first came across The Haunting of Sunshine Girl one night during one of my husband’s deployments. I viewed a few episodes of the webseries and thought it interesting enough to subscribe to the Youtube network. That said, I decided it would be fun to read the book once I found it in bookstores. Knowing what to expect, I opted for the audio library book (which functioned nicely during knitting, exercising, and chores).

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl follows the life of a sixteen year old goody two shoes named . . . well, Sunshine. I know, the name is a bit strange, but we have some weird ones out there (let’s not mention mine). As I was saying, Sunshine moves to the Pacific Northwest because her mother was given a job in the neo-natal clinic of the hospital in the small town of Ridgemont, Washington. I personally liked this because my own mother is a nurse and we moved to Bremerton, Washington for her job in the Navy. It kind of parallels.

In her new home and town, Sunshine feels strange. She is beginning to realize her home is haunted and that there is more to it than just Casper the friendly ghost. Not to mention, it may not be friendly. Through all of this, she learns something about herself and it’s connection to her destiny.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way: if you think the book sounds juvenile, you would be right. I’m not saying juvenile because of it being cutesy (though there are moments when Sunshine speaks), the book can be seen juvenile because of the level of fright.

Now, I’m not claiming to be a great horror aficionado, but I take my horror rather seriously. I have levels of how scary a movie or book is. Mind you, my labels are titles of movies or books or authors in order to get a better idea. The levels go as: Devour (a movie with Jensen Ackles. Great actor, absolutely horrible movie), Goosebumps/ShiversFear Street, Stephen Kingand horrific (I have yet to find a horrific just yet). Okay, back to my review.

I found The Haunting of Sunshine Girl to be at a Goosebumps/Shivers level of horror. There were creepy moments, but nothing to truly wet your pants or lose sleep over. This is fine. Like I said, I was expecting it. The best part in the horror vein was during the night when Sunshine and Mom get the fright of their life. It was creepy, had a level of sorrow, and I wouldn’t want that experience in my own home.

Because of the level of horror, the book is more about a young girl finding her destiny. That part was a bit easy to figure out, but it wasn’t unenjoyable to read (err, listen to for me). The way Sunshine finds an ally and learns what she does was interesting. I didn’t see the little twists until later on and I liked that.

There is an abundance of the word “creepy” that can get very annoying, but the “creepy” does start to dwindle somewhere in the halfway point. It’s either that or I got used to the word being used multiple times in one chapter.

There is also an abundance of Jane Austen references, but I wasn’t too annoyed by that. I like Jane Austen. I would have tea with her if I could.

There was an adequate enough action in the book to keep me listening. Yes, it had slow moments and yes, it wasn’t action packed. In fact, most of the action was in the ending. However, this didn’t bother me in reading the book.

All in all, this is a fun book for the younger crowd. Like, thirteen and under. I liked it, but you have to expect something like this before reading it. Don’t go diving in thinking you are going to be unable to sleep. If you are unable to sleep after this book, please see a specialist. You shouldn’t be scared about this book. That said, it was fun and it did end in a cliffhanger. I will probably read the others as they come out.

Book 55 of 2015: Havelock by Jane D. Everly

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Eliana Havelock is a female with no past, whose determination to bring down a Karachi arms dealer catches the attention of the British Secret Intelligence Service. MI-6 is currently fractured due to political upheaval with many of its covert programs dissolved or disbanded. When Eliana presents the opportunity to divert an international arms disaster, the head of MI-6 partners her with one of it’s best and brightest, the enigmatic, Connor Blackwell. But in a world of secrets and hidden agendas, who can Eliana trust? And what, or who, is Eliana really after?

I received this book from the publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, for an honest review.

Havelock is a spy action thriller serial that is now just coming out. Each episode is a few chapters long, but in those chapters you get a lot of action and bits of the puzzle. For episode one, we meet Eliana, learn a mystery, and meet the people Eliana gets help from: MI-6. It is written in a mixture of first person and third person. When we are just reading Eliana, it’s first person.

Dare I say it, Eliana is a serious badass. I fell in love with her right in the beginning. She can take down anyone she needs to, she’s resourceful, and she’s flirtatious. She is one of the ultimate femme fatale characters. You would think that her segments, being in first person, should throw you off, but they actually didn’t. I was able to grasp what was going on and feel who she was as a character.

I believe we are shown only Eliana’s inner thoughts because we are supposed to connect with her. Since there is a secret service involved in the series, the idea of trust is going to be a big issue. Eliana’s inner thoughts may help the reader establish a relationship and root for her if a betrayal is in the mix. Which should prove to be fun given how awesome she is.

Now, this is a serial, if you’re not into that then wait, but this is something you may want to read. Especially if you like action. Can’t wait for the second one.

Book 54 of 2015: Nero’s Fiddle by A.W. Exley

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One… death by spontaneous human combustion is a rare act of God
Two… is surely a freakish coincidence
Three… well, that’s starting to look deliberate.
Cara has a new role as Queen Victoria’s artifact hunter, she’s adapting to married life and living in a country manor that more closely resembles a mausoleum.
In London, Inspector Fraser investigates a series of strange deaths by divine fire – except he doesn’t believe in coincidences. Despite himself, he enlists Cara’s help to identify what artifact could cause such a hideous death while his desire to bring her husband to justice burns unabated.
Someone’s intent on making sure a decades old secret stays hidden and Cara must figure out who is responsible before this case consumes her family and rocks the entire realm to its foundations.

I received this book from the publisher, Curiousity Quills Press, for an honest review.

Nero’s Fiddle is the third book in the Artifact Hunters Series. The series follows the life of Cara and Nate as they search for artifacts that have magical properties. Set in a steampunk London, the books are filled with adventure and intrigue. Some are more like spy novels whereas others are more like murder mysteries. This one, is a mix between the two.

Following the events of Hatshepsut’s Collar, a series of unusual deaths are occuring in London. The determined and possibly obsessed Inspector Hamish Fraser is on the search for a culprit. During all this, Cara and Nate are gathering artifacts, setting up shop, and deciding on their future: Parliament or Spy ring?

The character growth was more to their relationship than personal. Given the quickness to their intimacy, that doesn’t really surprise me. We are met with another character, Malachi, who owns the bookstore that Cara visited in the first book. Another interesting thing is the story line that goes on as the book is going. There is a novella that features Amy. It is actually set the same time in this book and had some things that I could see reflecting back in the novella. I’m thinking I’m going to have to read it later on.

The book isn’t as quick paced as the first one, but there are chapters in the book that deal with the past. As in Nessy and Nan, the lovable eccentric elderly duo. I love what we see in the two. It was interesting to see their friendship from the beginning and the events that challenged their lives. It was these chapters that kept me more interested, just because I didn’t know where they fit in.

They fit in nicely, by the way.

The book really begins picking up pace about 60% in. From the beginning to that point, the book is still interesting along with the characters, but it’s that percentage that you are engrossed in the story. I found myself smacking my head realizing the turn of events. Very nice.

In all, this was a good addition to the series.