Nothing Short of a Firing Line Could Make Me Finish This One...

The world has done a completely-insane, spin-and-180-twist move on its axis during the first three months of 2020 due to the global coronavirus pandemic, leaving the vast majority of us feeling some combination of nervous/anxious/uncertain about… well, basically EVERYthing.
Thank goodness for books, right? (I mean, as long as you’re not reading about deadly contagions, plagues, or biological warfare, which… yeah, no.)
Long before (we’re talking WEEKS) things got really bad here in the U.S., though, I’d started a book—an Urban Fantasy tale by an author I’d never read—which sounded like a mindless, light diversion from all of the usual, non-scary-deadly-virus stuff that currently has me on edge.
So, why haven’t I finished the book? What’s to blame—the awful COVID19 crisis? A rash of debilitating migraines? No, actually the disappointing issue is that the book in question—R.J. Blain’s Playing with Fire—is just so mind-numbingly awful that weeks later, I STILL can’t force myself to finish it…

A Plucky Redhead Walks into a Bar... and Finds She's Not in Kansas, Anymore (UF book review)

After not reading a single book for two months—Say whaaat, girl? (I know, weird, huh… but believe it or not, sometimes it’s even possible to get burned out on that most lovely of pastimes)—my choice of return to the written word was a little… well, unexpected.

How so, you ask (no doubt still trying to wrap your brain around the multi-month moratorium)? Because I opted for an urban fantasy—no, that’s not the fascinating part—the sort of UF that I thought I’d already read waaaay too many of, in the past… you know, where everyone involved is barely legal, impossibly beautiful (or insanely, bodice-rippingly hunky), and, oh yeah, somehow manages to solve crimes (stop bad guys, save the world, prevent the apocalypse, etc.).

Or, at least that’s what I thought I was getting myself into, after opening the cover of Annette Marie’s Three Mages and a Margarita… which, while definitely a bit of all the above, surprisingly turned out to be way more fun, and a lot more interesting, than the inclus…

Hackin' & Detectin', Minnesota-style... review (Monkeewrench returns!)

One of the funny things about reading a series is that if/when there’s a longish wait between books, you can forget how much you like—and how much you’ve missed—those characters, and all the little details of their lives that you’ve learned.
So it was with me and the “Monkeewrench” gang (which first appeared in  the 2004 book by the same name), and whom I’ve eagerly followed ever since. I’d check the web every once in awhile to see if a new book—the ninth in that series, now—was due, only to be disappointed.

The wait is finally over, though, and—thank the stars—The Guilty Dead does not disappoint.

The Monkeewrench team of cyber-tech experts (aka hackers)—a cobbled-together oddball squad of misfits who share, among other things, sordid/unhappy pasts, distrust/dislike of Big Government, and, obviously, solid geek skills—is intact, and still working from their “office” digs in one of the member’s fancy Minneapolis mansion. They still operate mostly on the down-low, although they’ve taken …

The Family You Lose, Choose, & Find Again... (Night & Silence review)

There comes a time when things must end. It’s one of those inescapable truths and, as humans—keenly aware of our own mortality—we get this.
But carbon life forms don’t hold a monopoly on the concept; eventually, everything hits a point of being past its prime.
Most of us hope to reach a place of some decrepitude before it’s time to stop walking this mortal coil. (Being “old” is sorta the goal, for most humans.) Big-ticket items such as computers, phones, and cars are all designed with an expected obsolescence built in (which typically has more to do with corporations making money than with a sudden lack of functionality or usefulness, but I digress…). When it comes to series, though—whether books, movie franchises, or TV shows—the object is definitely to go out on a high note… before whatever-it-is seems tired and long-in-the-tooth.
And that notion is what kept popping into my mind when reading Night and Silence, the latest in Seanan McGuire’s ever-engrossing (and long-running) October D…

The Stars Now Unclaimed... Bad-Ass Chicks with Space Guns!

What do you get when you throw a tough fighter pilot (with her own sporty little starship); a wunderkind (who can manipulate some Seriously Big Stuff with her mind); a would-be space pirate (with a distinctly romantic side); a robot preacher (as in, clergywoman made of metal); an older, wiser space spy (somehow everything just sounds cooler when you put “space” in front of it, doesn’t it?); and a sentient spaceship (a female ship with Artificial Intelligence, who is as persnickety about keeping her surfaces spiffy-clean as she is about trying to keep her captain alive) together… then toss ‘em smack-dab in the middle of an about-to-erupt, epic space battle (see? totally cooler than just “a battle”) against a hodgepodge horde of the galaxy’s meanest hombres, who’re hellbent on destroying your worlds and adding you to their vast number, if possible (or killing you dead, if not)? 
Pure. Unadulterated. Awesomeness. (Well, duh, right?
Or, to put another way, you get Drew Williams’ rip-roar…

Scott & Bailey: Binge-worthy Brit Show that Really "Gets" Women

Whether police procedurals are strictly your “thing”, you need to check out Scott & Bailey (on Amazon), if seeing women depicted as smart, flawed, and entirely human, is.
The British show centers around two detectives working on a Manchester police division’s murder squad: middle-aged Detective Constable Janet Scott (Lesley Sharp, in a splendid performance) and her younger partner, Detective Constable Rachel Bailey (the absolutely-spot-on Suranne Jones)—who, when the show begins, have been partners for about a year. Over the course of five seasons (33 episodes, in all), Janet and Rachel (along with the rest of the squad) solve a lot of cases… but just as importantly, we get to watch the ups and downs in their friendship, other relationships, family lives, and their careers.
To say that Rachel is the “crazy” one (into casual sex, messed-up family, aptitude for flying off the handle) and Janet the “proper” one (married for a quarter-century, cautious, in the habit of thinking before s…

Providence Isn't Always a Good Thing... But This Book, Is (review)

Let’s just start this off by cutting to the chase, hmm? Caroline Kepnes’ newest release, Providence, is one of the most beautiful stories I’ve read in, well… a long, long time. Actually, one of, in ever
Yeah, I know… way to build up the suspense and make sure everyone reads to the end of the review, GlamKitty. Well, so be it. I mean, how often does anyone heap that sort of praise on a detective-slash-coming-of-age-slash-supernatural-slash-horror tale (that’s also a love story)? Pretty much never. But okay, since you don’t want to just take my word for it, let’s peel a layer off the onion and get a taste of Providence... ______________________________ Jon is a nice kid. He brings the mouse from one of his classes home from school over the holidays to care for it. He’s kind, funny, quiet and… okay, a little “different” from other kids his age (but especially the other boys, who pick on and bully him mercilessly). 
Chloe is Jon’s only friend, and is all of those things, as well… but she man…