Review: Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher

Format: trade paperback
Pub Date; November 12, 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Length: 313 pages
FTC: Review copy courtesy of the publisher
POV: 3rd, past

I read this book way back in April after receiving it at Apollycon. It’s been a long 7 months, because not talking about this book felt like torture. It’s one of my favorite books of the last few years. Fake relationships or secret agendas really aren’t my usual thing since they often involve so much dishonesty, but Christopher’s strong voice just draws you in. The whole book is delightful.

Knowing my well publicized distaste for cartoon covers might make you a little leery, but I assure you: this book is a ROMANCE. It’s not chick lit. It’s not women’s fiction. It’s not mainstream fiction. It’s a romance. I promise.


Review: Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews (Hidden Legacy)

Format: mass market
Pub Date: August 2019
Publisher: Avon
Length: 400 pages
POV: 1st, past
FTC: Review copy courtesy of the publisher

I've been a BIG fan of Ilona Andrews for years. They started solidly in Urban Fantasy, and the Hidden Legacy series is still mostly in that genre, with strong romantic elements.  The original trilogy featuring Nevada Baylor ended with Wildfire, with the novella Diamond Fire acting as a bridge between that trilogy and this book. If you haven't read any of the previous books, I think you could enjoy this one, but there is a distinct chronology, and you'll definitely get more out of it if you've read the other books.

Unlike the previous trilogy, this one is told from Catalina's POV, which is a bit jarring at first if you're used to Nevada. Quite a lot has happened in the three years since Wildfire. Nevada is no longer Head of House Baylor. Catalina has taken over that role, which is a bit of a struggle for her. Rogan's mother has taken her under her wing, and helped train her...which is a good thing for someone whose magic is not combat oriented. She's also primarily responsible for running Baylor Investigations, and it's that role that once again gets her, and her family, into trouble when an old acquaintance asks her for help.


Review: Bark of the Night by David Rosenfelt

Format: Hardcover
Pub Date: July 16, 2019
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Length: 291 pages
POV: First, present
FTC: Review copy courtesy of the publisher

I've read Rosenfelt's Doug Brock series, but hadn't tried his Andy Carpenter series. It is even more sarcastic than the Brock books, which given that the other series is about a police detective seems unlikely, but it's the truth. Apparently, nothing is more sarcastic than an almost retired defense attorney.

The cover, featuring a very cute French Bulldog, might mislead readers into thinking that this book is a cozy mystery: it's not. It's a thriller about organized crime, with a lots of brutal murders.

The dog angle IS delightful, though. Truman, the bulldog in question, is taken to a vet to be put down, but the vet has suspicions. So he scans the dog, finds out that the person who brought the dog in wasn't the owner, and contacts the one person involved in the criminal justice system he knows who also loves dogs: Andy Carpenter. The dog is the key to the entire mystery, and not just a prop.

This is the most sarcastic protagonist I've read in years, and I really enjoyed it despite the present tense. It hits that sweet spot between cozy and hard boiled that so few seem to get right. Recommended.

My Grade: B

The Blurb: 

When defense lawyer Andy Carpenter’s veterinarian asks to speak to him privately at the checkup of his golden retriever, Tara, the last thing Andy expects is Truman. Tiny, healthy, French bulldog Truman was dropped off days ago with instructions to be euthanized by a man everyone thought was his owner. But now the owner is nowhere to be found. 
Andy is furious. Who would want to euthanize a perfectly healthy dog with no explanation? He is willing to whisk Truman away to the Tara Foundation, the dog-rescue organization which is Andy’s true passion. They will find a home for Truman. But that’s not all the vet tells Andy. Thanks to Truman’s chip, it’s discovered that the man wasn’t Truman’s owner at all . . . Truman's real owner has been murdered.
It’s now up to Andy – with help from his loyal sidekick Tara, Truman and the rest of the gang – to solve this case. In the latest in the popular Andy Carpenter mystery series, David Rosenfelt’s charmingly clever wit and love of dogs are back and better than ever.


Review: Buried by Ellison Cooper

Format: Hardcover
Pub Date: July 16, 2019
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Length: 356 pages
POV: 3rd, past
FTC: Review copy courtesy of the publisher

An FBI agent and his working dog stumble across a cavern filled with human bones. And discover that fresh bodies are also being deposited in the site.
SSA Sayer Altair gets assigned to the case which would ordinarily require a task force. Only one problem: the FBI is being investigated and resources are scarce. She cobbles together a small team to help her investigate the horrendous crime scene, while also worrying about the political fallout in Quantico that is, partially, her fault. 
The complicated subplots dilute what should be an utterly terrifying book. The chapters that deal with an anonymous, powerful psychopath and the shitshow at the FBI headquarters don't serve the plot or the book at all. 
This is clearly a mid-series book with threads that lead to the book before and presumably the next book in the series. If you like every thread neatly tied up, this book will annoy you to no end. I actually liked the various subplots, some tied up and some left hanging. My main complaint was the flatness of the characters. I wanted to know more about them. Instead, they felt flat and didn't add much to the story. 
It's a decent book, but could have been excellent with tighter editing and character development. Recommended, but check it out from the library.
My Grade: C
The Blurb:
Senior Special Agent Sayer Altair studies the minds of psychopaths. But even she didn't expect to uncover a killer within the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Rooting him out and exposing internal corruption got her a bullet wound and six months of desk duty. Now, she’s finally back in the field, called in when an off-duty FBI agent and his cadaver dog fall into a sinkhole filled with human bones. 
Found deep in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, the skeletal remains date back almost two decades, the same time a beloved local teen disappeared. The cold case quickly heats up when Sayer's team finds two fresh corpses among the bones. When a gruesome clue ties these new bodies to a woman recently kidnapped along with her young daughter, Sayer has to uncover the connection between the old bones and the new bodies before the mother and child become the next victims. 
But the killer is one step ahead, attacking her team and sabotaging their efforts. With Sayer's investigation compromised and unsure of who to trust, she receives unwanted help from Subject 037, one of the anonymous psychopaths she is currently studying. She has the chilling realization that he’s someone powerful in Washington D.C.―and he is not about to let a mundane serial killer jeopardize his own ominous agenda for Sayer…


Review: The Demon You Know (Others series) by Christine Warren

Format: Mass market
Pub Date: May 2007
Publisher: St. Martins
Length: 344 pages
POV: 3rd, past
FTC: used copy from the TBR, purchase date unknown

Christine Warren is one of those authors who can be hit or miss with me. Some books I really enjoy, and others are kind of meh. This book, however, was actually bad. I almost DNF'd it, but stayed with it out of sheer stubborness.

Abby Baker, a low level employee for a local TV station who is unremarkable in every way except for having eyes of two different colors, gets caught on the street during a riot. While hiding from various violent factions, she ends up getting possessed by a fiend, a sort of evil spirit. NOT a demon, as we're told over and over and over again. Demons good, fiends bad.

Rule, an actual (good) demon, is on the hunt for a big bad fiend. He happens across Abby just as she's possessed by the fiend he's looking for, so he (of course) grabs her and carries her fireman style to an Others-friendly club. Abby considers it kidnapping; Rule considers it protective custody.

Much of the book consists of Abby trying to escape her involuntary confinement. There is a giant parade of secondary characters who don't really add to the story other than to confuse the narrative. Not only is Abby unremarkeable physically, her personality is rather bland as well (except for her determination to escape which constantly puts her in danger). The only interesting parts of the book are where she's arguing with the fiend who possessed her: a pervy, juvenile one named Lou.