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Us, by David Nicholls – Review

About the book, Us Us

Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Harper (October 28, 2014)

David Nicholls brings the wit and intelligence that graced his enormously popular New York Times bestseller, One Day, to a compellingly human, deftly funny new novel about what holds marriages and families together—and what happens, and what we learn about ourselves, when everything threatens to fall apart.

Douglas Petersen may be mild-mannered, but behind his reserve lies a sense of humor that, against all odds, seduces beautiful Connie into a second date . . . and eventually into marriage. Now, almost three decades after their relationship first blossomed in London, they live more or less happily in the suburbs with their moody seventeen year-old son, Albie. Then Connie tells him she thinks she wants a divorce.

The timing couldn’t be worse. Hoping to encourage her son’s artistic interests, Connie has planned a month-long tour of European capitals, a chance to experience the world’s greatest works of art as a family, and she can’t bring herself to cancel. And maybe going ahead with the original plan is for the best anyway? Douglas is privately convinced that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance in the marriage, and might even help him to bond with Albie.

Narrated from Douglas’s endearingly honest, slyly witty, and at times achingly optimistic point of view, Us is the story of a man trying to rescue his relationship with the woman he loves, and learning how to get closer to a son who’s always felt like a stranger. Us is a moving meditation on the demands of marriage and parenthood, the regrets of abandoning youth for middle age, and the intricate relationship between the heart and the head. And in David Nicholls’s gifted hands, Douglas’s odyssey brings Europe—from the streets of Amsterdam to the famed museums of Paris, from the cafés of Venice to the beaches of Barcelona—to vivid life just as he experiences a powerful awakening of his own. Will this summer be his last as a husband, or the moment when he turns his marriage, and maybe even his whole life, around?

Buy, read, and discuss Us

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads

Watch the trailer for Us


About the author, David Nicholls David Nicholls

David Nicholls’s most recent novel, the New York Times bestseller One Day, has sold over 2 million copies and been translated into thirty-seven languages; he also wrote the screenplay for the 2010 film adaptation starring Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway.

Trained as an actor before making the switch to writing, Nicholls’s previous novels include Starter for Ten (originally published in the U.S. as A Question of Attraction), adapted into a film starring James McAvoy, for which Nicholls also wrote the screenplay; and The Understudy. He continues to write for film and TV as well as writing novels and adapting them for the screen, and has twice been nominated for the BAFTA awards. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

Connect with David

Website | Facebook


My Thoughts

I loved One Day, so when I was offered the chance to review US I leapt at it, and I’m glad I did. This book is wonderfully crafted, the dialogue is snappy, but realistic, and the characters feel like real people.

It takes a special kind of author to write about the (possible) end, and definite shift, of a marriage while still being witty, but Nicholls is an expert at that kind of poignance mixed with humor, and even at their worst his characters, and his plot, are thoroughly engaging. Personally, I was hooked quite early on, when there’s a bit of internal monologue from POV character Douglas about how if is son had needed another year of school, his marriage would have had one more year of perceived solidity. It’s such an unaffected observation, and on the surface it’s funny, but then you realize how very fragile he really is.

Author Nicholls was an actor before he started writing, and I suspect that’s why his use of language is so dead-on. He writes with an actor’s ear, and his words are meant to be spoken aloud. Indeed, this is one of those books that had me reading bits to the dogs (hey, any audience is better than none) and following my husband around the house telling him, “No, wait, you must listen to this scene.”

Small surprise, then, that his books end up as movies down the line. Consciously or not, they’re written to be cinematic.

Us is the kind of novel that turns into an immensely popular art film, the kind that all the cool people see, but that never makes it into the mainstream multiplexes. I have no problem with that, as these are precisely the sorts of novels I most enjoy.

If you, too, like wit-infused realism, then Us is the novel for you.

Goes well with Thai food and iced coffee


More About this Tour

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour hosted by TLC Book Tours. For the complete list of tour stops, see below. For more information, click HERE.

Monday, October 6th: The Daily Dosage

Tuesday, October 7th: nomadreader

Wednesday, October 8th: From L.A. to LA

Thursday, October 9th: Spiced Latte Reads

Monday, October 13th: BookNAround

Tuesday, October 14th: Bibliosue

Friday, October 17th: 5 Minutes For Books

Monday, October 20th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, October 21st:  A Bookish Way of Life

Wednesday, October 22nd: Vox Libris

Thursday, October 23rd: The Scarlet letter

Monday October 27th: Read. Write. Repeat.

Tuesday, October 28th: Lavish Bookshelf

Wednesday, October 29th: nightlyreading

Thursday, October 30th: Always With a Book

Monday, November 3rd: Alison’s Book Marks

Monday, November 3rd: Drey’s Library

Wednesday, November 5th: More Than Just Magic

Thursday, November 6th: Walking With Nora

Monday, November 10th: Booksie’s Blog

Wednesday, November 12th: Literary Lindsey

Thursday, November 13th: Books and Bindings

Friday, November 14th: Every Free Chance Book Reviews

Sunday, November 16th: Giraffe Days

Monday, November 17th: Doing Dewey

Tuesday, November 18th: Bibliotica

Thursday, November 20th: The Book Binder’s Daughter

Friday, November 21st: Bookshelf Fantasies

Friday, November 21st: Book Loving Hippo

Friday, November 21st: Books in the Burbs

Monday, November 24th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach

Tuesday, November 25th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Wednesday, November 26th: missris

TBD: Reading in Black & White

TBD: …the bookworm…

TBD: BoundbyWords

Introducing: A Home For Christmas by M.K. McClintock (@mkmclintock) with Giveaway

A Home for Christmas Book Blast

About the book, A Home for Christmas A Home for Christmas


Publication Date:
November 5, 2014
Trappers Peak Publishing
eBook; 74 pages
ASIN: B00NE43C0O

Settings: 19th Century Montana, Wyoming, & Colorado
Genre: Christmas Short Stories/Western/Sweet Romance

Includes three historical fiction short stories to delight and entertain this holiday season.

CHRISTMAS MOUNTAIN
In search of family she barely knows and adventure she’s always wanted, Katherine Donahue is saved from freezing on a winter night in the mountains of Montana by August Hollister. Neither of them expected that what one woman had in mind was a new beginning for them both.

TETON CHRISTMAS
Heartache and a thirst for adventure lead McKensie Stewart and her sister to Wyoming after the death of their parents. With the help of a widowed aunt and a charming horse breeder, McKensie discovers that hope is a cherished promise, and there is no greater gift than love.

LILY’S CHRISTMAS WISH
Lily Malone has never had a real family or a real Christmas. This holiday season, she might get both. From an orphanage in New York City to the rugged mountains of Colorado, Lily sends out only one wish. But when the time comes, can she give it up so someone else’s wish can come true?

Praise for A Home for Christmas

“5 stars! I have just finished reading three short stories written by M.K. McClintock, part of her collection A HOME FOR CHRISTMAS. I really enjoyed these charming historical fictions CHRISTMAS MOUNTAIN, TETON CHRISTMAS and LILY’S CHRISTMAS WISH!” – Nicole Laverdure

“Heart-warming and inspiring.” – Kat Cambron

“A delightful collection of stories sure to warm any reader’s heart.” – Elizabeth Loftus

Order the eBook

Amazon | Kobo

Watch the Book Trailer

(Or click HERE.)


About the Author, M.K. McClintock MK McClintock

MK McClintock is the author of bestselling historical western romance and award-nominated historical romantic mystery. She spins tales of romance and adventure inspired by the heather-covered hills of Scotland and the majestic mountains of home. With her heart deeply rooted in the past and her mind always on adventure, she lives and writes in Montana.

Learn more about MK by visiting her website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


A Home for Christmas Book Blast Tour Schedule

For the complete tour schedule, see below, or click HERE.

Monday, November 3
Literary Chanteuse

Tuesday, November 4
Unshelfish

Wednesday, November 5
Book Nerd
The True Book Addict

Thursday, November 6
So Many Books, So Little Time

Friday, November 7
Bibliotica
Let Them Read Books

Monday, November 10
Susan Heim on Writing

Tuesday, November 11
What Is That Book About

Wednesday, November 12
Historical Fiction Connection

Friday, November 14
Passages to the Past


Giveaway

Giveaway

To enter to win the following prizes, please complete the form below. Giveaway ends on November 14th at 11:59pm EST. One winner per giveaway item.

– PB Trilogy of the Montana Gallagher Series + Woolrich Rough Rider Throw (Open to US residents only)
– Ebook Trilogy of the Montana Gallagher Series (International)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To open the Rafflecopter form separately: click HERE.

How to Build a Girl, by Caitlin Moran (@caitlinmoran) – Review

About the book, How to Build a Girl How to Build a Girl

• Hardcover: 352 pages
• Publisher: Harper (September 23, 2014)

What do you do in your teenage years when you realize what your parents taught you wasn’t enough? You must go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes—and build yourself.

It’s 1990. Johanna Morrigan, fourteen, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there’s no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde—fast-talking, hard-drinking gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer. She will save her poverty-stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer—like Jo in Little Women, or the Brontës—but without the dying-young bit.

By sixteen, she’s smoking cigarettes, getting drunk, and working for a music paper. She’s writing pornographic letters to rock stars, having all the kinds of sex with all the kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less.
But what happens when Johanna realizes she’s built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters, and a head full of paperbacks enough to build a girl after all?

Imagine The Bell Jar—written by Rizzo from Grease. How to Build a Girl is a funny, poignant, and heartbreakingly evocative story of self-discovery and invention, as only Caitlin Moran could tell it.

Buy, read, and discuss How to Build a Girl

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Caitlin Moran Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran was named the Columnist of the Year by the British Press Awards in 2010, and Critic and Interviewer of the Year in 2011 for her work at the Times of London. Her debut book, How to Be a Woman, won the 2011 Galaxy Book of the Year Award and was an instant New York Times bestseller.

Connect with Caitlin

Website | Twitter


My Thoughts

If I hadn’t gone to a performing arts high school (and been an only child in an upper middle class American family) I might have turned out very much like Johanna – depressed, and never quite fitting anywhere. As it is, I’m certain that I’ve met this girl, or girls like her, when I’ve worked with high school students.

Fourteen is a difficult age, especially when nothing else in your life is remotely ‘normal,’ and Caitlin Moran captures the angst and alienation of the teen years incredibly well, then surrounds Johanna with a cast of eccentric, often annoying, but never boring characters, and the sense of glimpsing a world that’s not quite as pretty and happy as our own is only enhanced.

And yet, as much as Johanna and her family are imbued with a sense of otherness, there’s also something profoundly, painfully, viscerally REAL about them that makes you want to alternately hug them and shake them until they come to their senses.

This book is gritty, even grim at times, and yet it’s also a brilliantly written coming-of-age story with elements of snark and black comedy that should not be missed.

Goes well with Fish and chips and a really good craft-brewed lager.


TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For the more information, and the complete list of tour stops, see the list below or click HERE.

Monday, September 29th: BoundbyWords

Tuesday, September 30th: The Scarlet Letter

Wednesday, October 1st: Fourth Street Review

Thursday, October 2nd: Lit and Life

Tuesday, October 7th: The Steadfast Reader

Wednesday, October 8th: Luxury Reading

Thursday, October 9th: Snowdrop Dreams of Books

Friday, October 10th: Bibliophilia, Please

Monday, October 13th: A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, October 14th: Bibliotica

Tuesday, October 14th: Sara’s Organized Chaos

Wednesday, October 15th: guiltless reading

Thursday, October 16th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World

Friday, October 17th: Books à la Mode

Monday, October 20th: Consuming Culture

Tuesday, October 21st: Drey’s Library

Wednesday, October 22nd: The Whynott Blog

TBD: Book Addict Katie

Butternut Summer by Mary McNear – Review

About the book, Butternut Summer Butternut Summer

• Paperback: 400 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (August 12, 2014)

Caroline’s life is turned upside down the moment her ex-husband, Jack, strides through the door of her coffee shop. He seems changed—stronger, steadier, and determined to make amends with Caroline and their daughter, Daisy. Is he really different, or is he the same irresistibly charming but irresponsible man he was when he left Butternut Lake eighteen years ago? Caroline, whose life is stuck on pause as her finances are going down the tubes, is tempted to let him back into her life . . . but would it be wise?

For Caroline’s daughter, Daisy, the summer is filled with surprises. Home from college, she’s reunited with the father she adores—but hardly knows—and swept away by her first true love. But Will isn’t what her mother wants for her—all Caroline can see is that he’s the kind of sexy “bad boy” Daisy should stay away from.

As the long, lazy days of summer pass, Daisy and Caroline come to realize that even if Butternut Lake doesn’t change, life does. . . .

Buy, read, & discuss Butternut Summer

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Mary McNear Mary McNear

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Mary McNear is a writer living in San Francisco with her husband, two teenage children, and a high-strung, minuscule white dog named Macaroon. She bases her novels on a lifetime of summers spent in a small town on a lake in the northern Midwest.

Connect with Mary

Facebook


My Thoughts

Mary McNear has created, in Butternut Lake, the kind of small town most of us would secretly love to live in, even when we pretend to be ultra-sophisticated urbanites. She’s also created a group of characters, old and new, who feel like just the sort of people who would actually inhabit such a town. I fell in love with her work when I read and reviewed Up at Butternut Lake in April, and that love has only grown stronger with Butternut Summer.

In this book we have a lovely dose of family drama – Jack has been estranged from his wife Caroline and their daughter Daisy for most of the latter’s life – set against two romances – the slow, reconnection between Jack and Carolyn, and the almost-immediate connection between Daisy and Will. Each relationship is given its own attention, and its own rhythm, and McNear has done a particularly good job at showing the reluctance of former lovers to risk renewing their relationship as well as the intensity of young love.

While it’s not a character, per se, the local diner, Pearl’s is as important to the plot of Butternut Summer as the U.S.S. Enterprise is to Star Trek. Not only is it the center of much of the action, saving the place is a core factor of Caroline and Jack’s relationship. It’s the coffee shop we all wish we could visit, park Luke’s, part Mel’s, and part something else entirely, and visiting it again through this novel reminded my of my own childhood visits to my own family’s diner in New Jersey.

If you want a compelling story full of interesting, believable characters and a rich setting, you need to read Butternut Summer.

Goes well with Broasted chicken and mashed potatoes, and a glass of iced tea.


TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For more information and the complete list of tour stops, click HERE.

Review: Sweet Water, by Christina Baker Kline

About the book Sweet Water Sweet Water

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (July 1, 2014)

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train comes a novel about buried secrets and the redemptive power of forgiveness

Cassie Simon is a struggling artist living in New York City. When she receives a call from a magistrate telling her she has inherited sixty acres of land in Sweetwater, Tennessee, from her grandfather, whom she never knew, she takes it as a sign: it’s time for a change. She moves to the small Southern town where her mother, Ellen, grew up—and where she died tragically when Cassie was three.

From the moment she arrives in Sweetwater, Cassie is overwhelmed by the indelible mark her mother’s memory left behind. As she delves into the thicket of mystery that surrounds her mother’s death, Cassie begins to discover the desperate measures of which the human heart is capable.

Buy, read, and discuss Sweet Water

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads


About the author, Christina Baker Kline Christina Baker Kline

Christina Baker Kline was born in England and raised in Maine. The author of five novels, including the runaway bestseller Orphan Train, Kline has taught literature and creative writing at Yale, New York University, and Fordham. She lives outside of New York City.

Connect with Christina

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts:

This is one of those books that had me reading passages – especially the italicized parts that took place in the past – out loud, so I could feel the way the language fit in my mouth, as well as my brain. I don’t do this a lot, but when I do, it’s always with a book I want to truly savor.

Author Christina Baker Kline has woven a tapestry depicting a mother and daughter who never get to interact directly, but impact each other’s lives both directly and indirectly. Cassie, the daughter, is curious, questing, artistic. Ellen, the mother, long since deceased, feels like a living presence, despite existing only in flashback-like sequences.

The supporting characters – Cassie’s lover, her father, Ellen’s friends – are woven just as vividly as the women at the heart of the story, and even Sweetwater itself feels more like a character than a mere place.

This novel isn’t particularly long, but it also isn’t a fast read. Instead, it’s one to be absorbed slowly, like an unwinding country road through a field of wildflowers.

Goes well with Sweet tea, fried catfish, and hush puppies.


TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For more information, and the complete list of tour stops, click HERE.

Review: The Yankee Club, by Michael Murphy

About the book, The Yankee Club The Yankee Club

Publisher: Alibi (August 12, 2014)
Pages: 280

In Michael Murphy’s action-packed Prohibition-era novel of suspense, a mystery writer returns to the bright lights and dark alleys of New York City—uncovering a criminal conspiracy of terrifying proportions.

In 1933, America is at a crossroads: Prohibition will soon be history, organized crime is rampant, and President Roosevelt promises to combat the Great Depression with a New Deal. In these uncertain times, former-Pinkerton-detective-turned-bestselling-author Jake Donovan is beckoned home to Manhattan. He has made good money as the creator of dashing gumshoe Blackie Doyle, but the price of success was Laura Wilson, the woman he left behind. Now a Broadway star, Laura is engaged to a millionaire banker—and waltzing into a dangerous trap.

Before Jake can win Laura back, he’s nearly killed—and his former partner is shot dead—after a visit to the Yankee Club, a speakeasy dive in their old Queens neighborhood. Suddenly Jake and Laura are plunged into a conspiracy that runs afoul of gangsters, sweeping from New York’s private clubs to the halls of corporate power and to the White House itself. Brushing shoulders with the likes of Dashiell Hammett, Cole Porter, and Babe Ruth, Jake struggles to expose an inconspicuous organization hidden in plain sight, one determined to undermine the president and change the country forever.

Buy, read, and discuss The Yankee Club

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Goodreads


About the author, Michael Murphy

Michael Murphy is a full time author and part time urban chicken rancher in Arizona. He lives in Arizona with his wife of forty-one years and the four children they adopted this past year. In August, Random House Alibi will publish his ninth novel, a historical mystery set in the prohibition era, The Yankee Club.


My Thoughts

I’ve been a mystery fan ever since I cracked open a reprint of one of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe novels in a bookstore/cafe in Ashland, OR, when I was fourteen. I’ve been a noir fan almost as long, so you can imagine how eager I was to read The Yankee Club when I was offered the opportunity.

Jake Donovan, former detective, now author of a series of novels based on his own experiences, is the perfect literary detective, hard-boiled but never hard-hearted. Laura, childhood friend turned actress, is his perfect partner in (solving crime). While either could easily have become stereotypes, author Michael Murphy gave us, instead, characters that are an homage to the genre, but are still fully-realized on their own.

As well, the collection of supporting characters are well-rounded and interesting. Gino, owner of the speakeasy The Yankee Club, reminded me very strongly of some of my own family members (who ran boarding houses and diners near the Jersey shore during the prohibition years). Similarly Frankie, Mildred (whom exists mostly off-screen, but is nevertheless incredibly real, and Miss Belle Starr are people you’d expect to meet in Murphy’s version of New York, and yet each of them has their own moment, their own surprise, that makes you realize the level of crafting that went into this story.

And the story itself is fantastic. Mystery. Intrigue. Personal jeopardy and emotional drama. All of these things abound, but none of them ever threaten to overwhelm the plot. The combination of fictional and real-life events works really well, and I especially enjoyed the real people peppered amongst Murphy’s creations.

Bottom line, this is a gritty detective story, a romance, and a glimpse at a period in time not too far before our own, and woven through it all is the very real poignancy that comes from facing the knowledge that going home again is never exactly what you expect, but leaving it is never entirely possible.

The best part about this book, however, is that it’s merely the first in a series.

Goes well with a juicy steak, a perfectly baked potato with sour cream and chives, and a J&G.


TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For more information and the complete list of tour stops, click HERE.

NetGalley Wrapup – 2014 First Half – Volume I

At the urging of one of the blog tour companies I work with, I signed up for an account with NetGalley earlier this year. This allows publishers to send me widgets for the books I’ve agreed to review, so I can download them straight to my kindle. It also allows me to leave feedback – usually a few good lines from my review and a link to the rest – directly for the publisher.

I’ve been reading like crazy all year – as I always do – but I’m a little behind on reviews that are NOT for tours – so here’s my NetGalley wrapup for titles I’ve read in the first half of 2014 that do NOT have separate review pages in this blog.

Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski Don't Even Think About It

I always love Sarah Mlynowski’s work and this is no exception. She’s funny, smart, and her characters – teens in this case – are always believable, although they tend to occupy a slightly heightened reality. Great work, great read.


The Art of Arranging Flowers, by Lynne Branard The Art of Arranging Flowers

If you, like me, have ever spent your last ten dollars on fresh flowers when you should have spent it on milk or bread, you will love this novel. It’s a delightful human story about relationships, loves, and lives, and of course flowers. Mix in a little bit of magical realism, and you have a bouquet of compelling storytelling wrapped in raffia. READ THIS BOOK


Dangerous Dream: A Beautiful Creatures Story, by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl Dangerous Dream

I hadn’t read the books, but only seen the movie, when I read Dangerous Dream. Nevertheless, I was sucked into this richly created world and enjoyed finding out what happened next with the characters. It made me buy the books, for a better understanding of what had come before. It may be YA, but it appeals to all ages.


All of the above books are available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Review: A Case of Spontaneous Combustion (Displaced Detective #5), by Stephanie Osborn

About the book, A Case of Spontaneous Combustion A Case of Spontaneous Combustion

Publisher: Twilight Times Books
Print Length: 344 pages

When an entire village on the Salisbury Plain is wiped out in an apparent case of mass spontaneous combustion, Her Majesty’s Secret Service contacts The Holmes Agency to investigate. Unfortunately Sherlock Holmes and his wife, Dr. Skye Chadwick-Holmes, have just had their first serious fight, over her abilities and attitudes as an investigator. To make matters worse, he is summoned to England in the middle of the night, and she is not — and due to the invocation of the National Security Act in the summons, he cannot even wake her and tell her.

Once in London, Holmes looks into the horror that is now Stonegrange. His investigations take him into a dangerous undercover assignment in search of a possible terror ring, though he cannot determine how a human agency could have caused the disaster. There, he works hard to pass as a recent immigrant and manual laborer from a certain rogue Mideastern nation as he attempts to uncover signs of the terrorists.

Meanwhile, alone in Colorado, Skye battles raging wildfires and tames a wild mustang stallion, all while believing her husband has abandoned her.

Who — or what — caused the horror in Stonegrange? Will Holmes find his way safely through the metaphorical minefield that is modern Middle Eastern politics? Will Skye subdue Smoky before she is seriously hurt? Will this predicament seriously damage — even destroy — the couple’s relationship? And can Holmes stop the terrorists before they unleash their outré weapon again?

Buy, read, and discuss A Case of Spontaneous Combustion

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Add to Goodreads

Please note: at this time, this title is only available in digital formats. A print edition is planned.


About the author, Stephanie Osborn Stephanie Osborn

Veteran of more than 20 years in the civilian space program, as well as various military space defense programs, she worked on numerous space shuttle flights and the International Space Station, and counts the training of astronauts on her resumé. Her space experience also includes Spacelab and ISS operations, variable star astrophysics, Martian aeolian geophysics, radiation physics, and nuclear, biological, and
chemical weapons effects.

Stephanie holds graduate and undergraduate degrees in four sciences:
astronomy, physics, chemistry and mathematics, and she is “fluent” in several
more, including geology and anatomy.

In addition she possesses a license of ministry, has been a duly sworn, certified police officer, and is a National Weather Service certified storm spotter.

Her travels have taken her to the top of Pikes Peak, across the world’s highest suspension bridge, down gold mines, in the footsteps of dinosaurs, through groves of giant Sequoias, and even to the volcanoes of the Cascade Range in the Pacific Northwest, where she was present for several phreatic eruptions of Mount St. Helens.

Now retired from space work, Stephanie has trained her sights on writing. She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to more than 20 books, including the celebrated science-fiction mystery, Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281. She is the co-author of the “Cresperian Saga,” book series, and currently writes the critically acclaimed “Displaced Detective” series, described as “Sherlock Holmes meets The X-Files.” She recently released the paranormal/horror novella El Vengador, based on a true story, as an ebook.

In addition to her writing work, the Interstellar Woman of Mystery now happily “pays it forward,” teaching math and science through numerous media including radio, podcasting and public speaking, as well as working with SIGMA, the science-fiction think tank.

The Mystery continues.

Connect with Stephanie

Website | Twitter


My Thoughts

Sherlock Holmes and Skye Chadwick-Holmes are back in the fifth installment of Stephanie Osborn’s fabulously entertaining Displaced Detective series, and while this story is complete in one volume (unlike the others which were pairs of companion stories), it feels just as meaty and satisfying as its predecessors.

What I really love about this series is that Osborn bases her mysteries in real (if sometimes theoretical) science, and that she relays the science in ways that are easy for people like me, who were music and theater majors, to understand. From the moment the mass disappearance (death) of an entire town was described, I was able to make reasonably accurate guesses about the technology that caused it, but this in no way spoiled the story, because knowing the cause wasn’t enough, the real mystery was as much in the “why” as in the “how.”

As well, I love that, a year into their marriage, Skye and Sherlock are evolving as individuals and as a couple. While they are separated from each other for much of this story, when they do come together, the reasons for their separation explained, we see two people who have become better because of their relationship. Anyone can write “falling in love” reasonably well. Writing about a couple who can stay in love takes finesse, which Osborn has in great amounts.

Over the last several years, Sherlock Holmes has been reintroduced to us in many, many guises, and the beauty of the character is that there’s room for every version, and enjoying one doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy others. Regular visitors to this blog know that I’m a massive fan of Laurie R. King’s Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell series, and that I especially love that she’s incorporated early feminism and the art culture of the early twentieth century into her work.

This doesn’t mean that I like Osborn’s work any less. In fact, I think these two series make really good bookshelf buddies, because both give us a glimpse at Holmes as a married man, and both do it in unique ways.

Back to Stephanie Osborn’s latest offering, though, I’ll confess that at one point I, who was an original viewer of Sex and the City felt that Skye and Sherlock’s relationship was a bit too restrained, even when they were out of the public eye, until Skye herself reminded one of their friends, and we readers as well, that Holmes is from a more restrained time and culture. It’s worth noting, also, that the relationship they have is absolutely true to the characters Osborn has created, and that these are genre-defying science-fiction/mysteries and not romance novels.

While A Case of Spontaneous Combustion is best enjoyed after reading books 1-4 of the Displaced Detective series, fast reads all, it also has enough backstory to be a satisfying standalone.

Goes well with: Falafel, with extra-garlicky tahini sauce, tart strained yogurt and cucumbers, and a side of tabouleh, with mint tea.

Review: A Life of Death, by Weston Kincade



Homicide detective Alex Drummond is confronted with the past through his son’s innocent question. Alex’s tale of his troubled senior year unfolds revealing loss, drunken abuse, and mysterious visions of murder and demonic children. Is he going insane? With the help of his close friend Paige Kurtley, Alex must find the source of his misfortune and ensure his sanity.

“A well written story that flows off the page.”
~ Coral Russell, author of Amador Lockdown

“Another awesome book by Weston Kincade – a paranormal coming-of-age mystery page turner. I could not put it down… I promise you will not be disappointed with this one.”
~ Chantale, Geeky Girl Reviews

“A Life of Death is a completely amazing story. Fans of paranormal mystery and suspense stories should enjoy this book. Definitely give it a read as soon as you can!”
~ K. Sozaeva, Now is Gone

“A Life of Death is my favorite kind of book, characters' emotions are painted in details. It's so vivid and alive I get a sense that Alex, the main character, is a younger version of Weston himself. This book in beautiful in unexpected ways.”
~ Helmy Parlente Kusuma, author of There is Hope

“A Life of Death is quite simply, absolutely superb. I loved this book, it was an emotional and entertaining journey that had me hooked.”
~ David King, An Eclectic Bookshelf

“A very good story.”
~ Kathleen Brown, author of The Personal Justice Series

“The title drew me in and the novel itself is an experience that should not be left unread.”
~ Bruce Blanchard, author of Demon's Daughter

“Mr. Kincade did a wonderful job telling this story. The characters are well developed and easy to relate to. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this book."
~ Christi, Alaskan Book Cafe
Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only


My Thoughts

Weston Kincade sent me this book directly, months ago, in multiple installments, which is how it was originally published. More recently, he asked people to re-post reviews for the current “complete” edition.

As my original review was lost in a database glitch, I sat down to re-read Kincaid’s work, in order to update my thoughts, and I’m not sorry.

On the surface, Kincaid’s story is a simple mystery, but once you look past the surface, you see a family drama, a battle between natural and supernatural, and a close look at what it means to be a victim, and to overcome victimhood.

Kincade’s characters are all fully realized, dimensional people, but what I really liked about them is that they’re not all “pretty” people. They are human, they get into fights, aren’t all rich and well-to-do, and sometimes, aren’t even all that likeable.

And yet, the story – Alex’s story, and that of his son – is compelling. You want to find out why Alex sees the visions he does, and you really care about his relationship with his son.

Marketed primarily to YA/NA audiences, A Life of Death has something for everyone, of every age, which is as it should be when it comes to good storytelling.

Goes well with Open face meatloaf sandwiches and RC cola.

Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Light Fantastic by Jeffrey Lang



Returning to the story begun in the novel Immortal Coil and continuing in the bestselling Cold Equations trilogy, this is the next fascinating chapter in the artificial life of one of Star Trek’s most enduring characters.

He was perhaps the ultimate human achievement: a sentient artificial life-form—self-aware, self-determining, possessing a mind and body far surpassing that of his makers, and imbued with the potential to evolve beyond the scope of his programming. And then Data was destroyed. Four years later, Data’s creator, Noonien Soong, sacrificed his life and resurrected his android son, who in turn revived the positronic brain of his own artificial daughter, Lal. Having resigned his commission, the former Starfleet officer now works to make his way on an alien world, while also coming to grips with the very human notion of wanting versus having a child. But complicating Data’s new life is an unexpected nemesis from years ago on the U.S.S. Enterprise—the holographic master criminal Professor James Moriarty. Long believed to be imprisoned in a memory solid, Moriarty has created a siphon into the "real" world as a being of light and thought. Moriarity wants the solid form that he was once told he could never have, and seeks to manipulate Data into finding another android body for him to permanently inhabit...even if it means evicting the current owner, and even if that is Data himself.

™, ®, &© 2013 CBS Studios, Inc. STAR TREK and related marks are trademarks of CBS Studios, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only
Release date June 24, 2014.


My Thoughts

I pre-ordered the digital edition of this book several months ago when it was first announced, so I knew it would be arriving on my Kindle around 2:00 this morning. I was pleasantly surprised when it actually showed up at midnight, because I’m very nocturnal. Translation: by the time I went to bed around 2 AM, I’d read 81% of this novel.

The Light Fantastic is the sequel to Lang’s own Immortal Coil, which, I confess, left me conflicted when I first read it. The adult part of me, the part that is an improviser and a writer, really liked it, though I felt that Data and Rhea’s relationship was both too fast, and not believable (this despite the fact that I liked Rhea as a character). The part of me that was 16 or 17 when TNG premiered on TV and crushed on Data had other issues, but adult-me was able to ignore them.

But then David Mack gave us is Cold Equations trilogy, and those expanded upon Data 2.0’s mindset and choices, and gave us better insight into the Fellowship of AI, and left a door open for more with this beloved character.

And now Lang has wrapped up a truly amazing arc. We get to find out how Data’s been spending the last two years of his life. We get a glimpse into his life with the newly restored Lal, his daughter, who is in the midst of the android equivalent of adolescence, and then she’s abducted – by Moriarty – yes, the hologram – and we’re thrown into a story that is both a mystery and a story about what it means to grow up, grow old, raise children, and explore one’s identity.

Data as a father is both hilarious and heartbreaking – especially as he’s still acclimating to his new body and his permanently engaged emotions.
Lal as a teenager is also hilarious, and frustrating, and it gave me new respect for the way my own mother must’ve felt when I was a teenager myself.

Geordi, of course, is along for the ride, because no Sherlock can be without his Watson, and along the way we are introduced to a few favorite characters from both TNG and TOS.

Overall, The Light Fantastic is a truly satisfying read, and if Data doesn’t sound exactly the way we’re accustomed to him sounding, well, he himself states in the novel that he isn’t entirely certain how much of him is HIM, and how much is leftover Noonian Soong.

The tag, of course, teases a new mystery, and I have no idea if that will pan out, or if the soft canon of the novels will eventually merge with the soft canon of the STO game and the Countdown to Trek 2009 (in which Data was Captain of the Enterprise), but if it doesn’t, I would totally buy a series of intergalactic mysteries featuring Data and LaForge.

Goes well with French-pressed coffee and a chocolate croissant.