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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Dead on Arrival

Dead on Arrival       

Review of Dead on Arrival by Lori Avocato

Overview from Romance – and murder – is in the air!

Medical insurance fraud investigator Pauline Sokol likes to keep her feet firmly placed on the ground, but her new undercover assignment has the aero-phobic ex-nurse flying high and her stomach lurching! Compelled by her convictions of right and wrong, she takes off in order to ground a land-and-air ambulance company that’s been doing some rather creative billing, and needs to crash and burn before they soak the insurance company for more.

Pauline’s insides do a real loop-de-loop when the company’s owner is found dead, and Pauline starts to receive threatening phone calls. Suddenly the air feels safer than the ground! If Pauline (and handsome, irritating, fellow investigator Jagger) doesn’t solve this case soon, even a jolt of electricity from the sexy helo-pilot-paramedic ER Dano won’t be enough to revive her. 

My Review:

Part Chick-Lit, part Mystery, Dead on Arrival is funny, romp through one of the cases of Emergency Services worker and Insurance Fraud Investigator, Pauline Sokol. As an RN, her expertise is apparently in demand in the fraud investigation business and this time she’ll be working as an RN for an ambulance company along with her partner-in-crime/mentor, Jagger, in an effort to uncover who is committing fraud with a side of murder.

This one reminded me of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plumb series in that we have an amateur female detective trying to solve a case without the assistance of the police and it is funny but, for the most part, that is where the similarities end (except for the two, make that three, hot guys that she is trying for and the humorous tone).
Our protagonist, Pauline Sokol (not sure what nationality that name is), is desperate to prove to Jagger that she is improving her detecting skills and that she can handle this case by herself but she can’t seem to get totally out from underneath his shadow and expectations. We hear her thoughts as she relates how proud she is that she thought of this or that on her own so I can only assume that in previously novels she had to be told what to do.
Currently being in the medical field myself, I found the details somewhat interesting though I don’t think anyone who is not in the field would find it too boring. I never thought too much about the billing side of things before though and Pauline’s justification to her family that her investigations are important because insurance fraud raises the rates for everyone else made sense. And then you add in a murder and things get a whole lot more dangerous, and interesting.
Meanwhile Pauline’s wisecracks and weak hormones kept me laughing along with the strange cases she encounters in the ambulance rides with “Buzz Lightyear” and “ER Dano.” But when Pauline begins falling for ER Dano even though she has him on her short list of potential suspects will she be able to do the right thing and keep her personal feelings out of the case?
This case as told through Pauline’s eyes was both interesting and entertaining too. I loved some of the other characters as well, especially Pauline’s mom, Stella.
The only downside to this story is some of the profanity was a bit much at times for me and there were some typos. Plus, we are told two times about the time before the story took place when Pauline went out of town and her mother replaced all her underwear with thongs. It was funny the first time, the second time was overkill. Still, a good, lighthearted read.

Contains: profanity (including a couple of f bombs), sexuality, and psycho patients


Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Puppet Queen

The Puppet Queen: A Tale of the Sleeping Beauty       

Review of The Puppet Queen by Mira Zamin

Overview from After Selene's homeland falls to the Pari curse, she is forced to must contest for the throne by her insidious fiancĂ©. When rivalries threaten to plunge the country into civil war, Selene must fight through magic and malice—her family's fate hangs in the balance.

The Puppet Queen is a young adult fantasy retelling of Sleeping Beauty infused with the folklore of the Middle East.

My Review:

The story this week is a retelling of the classic Sleeping Beauty tale but from the point of view of Sleeping Beauty’s sister, her twin sister. Selene, our main character, is the mischievous twin of the future sleeping beauty. She is constantly venturing outside when she’s not supposed to and getting into trouble.

One day she convinces her sister Auralia to go out with her. That’s when things start to get crazy. Some men from the palace follow them and summarily escort Auralia back to the palace. When she arrives back Selene wonders why her parents, the Emir and Emira of Aquia, never cared when she left the palace on her own but are obviously worried about her sister venturing out.

It is then that she is told the story about the Pari curse that was placed on her family. The night she (and her sister) were born lightning struck their sacred tree and the blame was placed on Selene since it happened at the exact moment that she came out of her mother’s womb. A Pari queen came to her parents but since Selene was somewhere else at the moment, she saw only the one child and assumed that this was the one responsible for the damage to their tree.

Her father tried to reason with the Pari queen but to no avail and Auralia was cursed to hurt her finger on a spindle which would usher in death for everyone in Aquia. The curse was later adjusted by the djinn so that they would only sleep and then only until Auralia’s true love released them with a kiss.

Of course the plot goes on but I will leave the rest for you to read. And it is really a great story worth reading. I loved the character of Selene and how she grows in the novel. Even when her mother is asleep Selene uses her words, and those of other family members to guide her in her quest to remove the curse and rule Aquia.

First, she must fight against an abusive husband and learn to rule in her own right. Later she goes up against his cronies as well as the other Emirs and Emiras in Ghalain with only the help of a few trusted friends as well as the djinn who have helped her family before. She will soon find a way to break the curse, find her sister’s true love and become the woman she was destined to be.

If there is any downside to the story, it would be the lack of editing. Several times I was jarred out of the story by typos and other errors that could have been prevented by the author hiring a good editor. However, it was not enough to make me stop reading. So as long as you’re not too bad of a stickler for these kinds of things and you like Fantasy, you should enjoy the story.

Contains: mild language, violence

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Cry Wolf

Cry Wolf

Review of Cry Wolf by J. Carson Black

Overview from Laura Cardinal: Packs a SIG Sauer P226 9mm. Investigates homicides in small towns that have limited resources. Brings justice to murder victims--and to their killers. Laura’s job description: Criminal Investigator with the Arizona Department of Public Safety. But maybe it should just say “Troubleshooter”.

Tell me no lies.

Laura and her aspiring-film-director partner, Anthony, catch a homicide case where nothing is as it appears. When pathological liar Sean Perrin is found dead in his car at a trailhead in scenic Madera Canyon, he leaves behind a skein of lies and half-truths that are impossible to untangle. From violent death in a sordid motel room to a high-end prostitution ring in Las Vegas, Laura and Anthony follow Sean’s trail across a landscape of broken dreams and convincing lies—until they confront the true evil behind the mask.

My Review:

This week’s review comes to us courtesy of a Nook book that I bought for .99 cents which features twelve mystery/thriller novels. The first one was Don’t Know Jack which I reviewed a few weeks ago. I enjoyed Cry Wolf by J. Carson Black much more.

It was also one of a series, though strangely, the last one instead of the first one. It seems like most of the cheap or free books on the Barnes & Noble website nearly always feature the first book in the series.

Our protagonist on this one is one Laura Cardinal, homicide detective for some police department near Tucson. Her blissful Saturday with her man is interrupted by the call to duty when Las Vegas resident Sean Perrin gets himself murder in nearby Madera Canyon.

She and her partner, Anthony, a screenwriter in training, must now unravel the mess of lies that Mr. Perrin has told about himself. For example, was he really a Navy Seal? Did he really have a model for a wife? Well, you get the idea.

It turns out that at least some of Mr. Perrin’s stories were true but which one got him killed? While searching for the answer which seems always just out of reach for Laura, she has to contend with the occasional appearances by her former, deceased, mentor, Frank. He points her in the right direction but he can’t solve the case for her.

This story seemed short to me but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I appreciate how the author wisely didn’t load it down with a bunch of crap just to make it longer. The ending was different from what I expected but not unlikely, as were the characters.

I recommend it as a great read for summer, light and entertaining. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to enjoy this one.

Contains: some language and sexuality