Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers Review

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Blurb:
Packed with high stakes mystery and tons of heart, this first installment in a new series introduces Kazu Jones-a spunky, scrappy detective who’s this generation’s Harriet the Spy.
When a string of dognappings grips her Denver neighborhood, Kazu Jones vows to track down the culprits. She can’t stand to see more dogs go missing-especially once her neighbors’ beloved pet is taken because of her gigantic mistake.
With the help of her gang-including her best friend and expert hacker, March; and her ginormous, socially anxious pup, Genki-Kazu uncovers evidence that suggests the dognapping ring is bigger than she ever imagined. But the more she digs, the more dangerous her investigation becomes. The dognappers are getting bolder, and Genki could be next.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY: “In this spirited debut, Holyoak introduces an indefatigable heroine whose distinct voice and loyal canine companion contribute to her considerable appeal. The diverse allies, plot twists, and delightful dogs make this a memorable beginning for Kazu and her friends.”
KIRKUS:Holyoak creates a well-paced mystery with approachable characters and issues. The dognapping case and the go-get-’em attitude of Kazu provide just enough suspense and action without being too scary. Holyoak sprinkles in topics of growing up, including friendship, relationships with parents, mean people, and telling the truth.  A not-too-scary, diverse mystery for those who love action, dogs, and spunky heroines.”
Title: KAZU JONES AND THE DENVER DOGNAPPERS
Author: Shauna Holyoak
Pub. Date: April 23, 2019
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Pages: 320

Where Can You Find It?

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My Review:

This was definitely a five star read, I read about half of it out loud with my daughter, and we’ll continue to read it but I had to steam on ahead to finish for the review. She’s patiently waiting to find out just exactly was the Denver Dognapper! Truthfully Shauna gave us a great diverse cast of characters, not just in a beautiful blend of different backgrounds but each character stood on their own. Kazu Jones is our spunky fifth-grade detective with her dog Genki and her best friend March who is a meticulous academic and lover of technology to Madeleine Brown who Kazu has never gotten along with and CindeeRae who along with her love of musicals, loves her dog Lobster just as much. The kids have taken over, in a thread of The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew comes Kazuko Jones, written with an ease and a way that will entice children to pick it up and not put it down. Now there are actions that the children take, and much like Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys, it’s not an action a parent would like their kids to make in real life, but this is written for a child’s enjoyment and even I loved it Kazu makes some decisions and they may not be good ones but the author has Kazu grow during the book and her actions have consequences but you can’t keep a natural detective down for long. There is something just really promising about Kazuko Jones and the adventures that could lay in store for her past the case of the Denver Dognappers. I would say that this is a series to keep an eye out for because I feel this and a couple of others I have spotted lately are really going to be at the forefront of pushing the mystery genre into the modern day for children.

Honestly, I could gush on and on about this but at the end of the day this was a new favorite for my daughter and I and we hope to read more about Kazuko, her group of friends, and her Sleuth Chronicle adventures.

5/5 Cups of Coffee from the mini and I

About the Author:

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Shauna has been telling stories long before she could ride a bike, and some of them are even true! She writes for kids and teens and thinks it’s kinda the best job ever. Kazu Jones and the Denver Dognappers is her debut novel, and it will be released on April 23, 2019! She lives in Idaho Falls, ID with her husband, six of their seven children, and two naughty dogs.
Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway!

3 winners will receive finished signed or unsigned copies of KAZU JONES AND THE DENVER DOGNAPPERS, US Only.

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KAZU JONES AND THE DENVER DOGNAPPERS

Tour Schedule:

Week Two:

4/22/2019- BookHounds YA– Interview

4/23/2019- Eli to the nth– Review

4/24/2019- two points of interest– Interview

4/25/2019- The Caffeinated Reader– Review

4/26/2019- That Bookish Princess– Review

The Fourth Courier Review

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A Fast Paced Espionage Thriller for Alan Furst Fans Sent In Post-Cold War Poland.

It is 1992 in Warsaw, Poland, and the communist era has just ended. A series of grisly murders suddenly becomes an international case when it’s feared that the victims may have been couriers smuggling nuclear material out of the defunct Soviet Union. The FBI sends an agent to help with the investigation. When he learns that a Russian physicist who designed a portable atomic bomb has disappeared, the race is on to find him—and the bomb—before it ends up in the wrong hands.

Smith’s depiction of post-cold war Poland is gloomily atmospheric and murky in a world where nothing is quite as it seems. Suspenseful, thrilling, and smart, The Fourth Courier brings together a straight white FBI agent and gay black CIA officer as they team up to uncover a gruesome plot involving murder, radioactive contraband, narcissistic government leaders, and unconscionable greed.

Thank you Wunderkind PR, Arcade Publishing, and Timothy Jay Smith for the opportunity to read and review a final copy!

This book was published on April 4, 2019.
[So, just this month, if you’re looking for a new release to read in crime thrillers, this could be for you!]

[**I am giving my honest review in exchange, nothing less, nothing more!**]

So now you’ve read the blurb, and well if you like thriller novels and unique settings, this one may be the read for you!

Timothy Jay Smith gives us something unique by setting his story in post-cold war Poland, and it’s great to travel to Warsaw in the 90s through his prose. Not to mention it’s fun to watch how differently our FBI Agent Jay works compared to Kurt, our CIA man.

The plot is interesting and the pacing is really well done. It’s not often we get to see espionage in such an appropriate time in history as far as book settings go! I really enjoyed Smith’s narrative voice and honestly loved the ending.

I think my two issues were the only things holding me back from marking this as 4 Cups of Coffee. Firstly, I really didn’t like the women they way they were written, not so much Basia, she was not meant to be a ‘good’ character (as in morals), and that’s fine, always love someone you can loathe a little in a book but at the same time you get where she’s coming from. She’s a survivor, she doesn’t give a crap about your feelings. And secondly, I just wanted more espionage and less Jay going on dates 😉 I was happy for the man, but I’m always one to rally for more espionage over romance so while this might be a problem for me, it could also be the reason someone else reads it and I hope you all reading the review will give this a chance if this sounds enjoyable to you!

Another thing I found that I enjoyed and it was such a small detail that it surprised me, was the fact that Jay was separated from his children and he missed them, actively thought of them and people just forget that dads are capable of that too and I thought that was just a splendid small detail for Smith to add about Jay.

Once more I am so grateful for the opportunity to have read this, now please let’s all cross fingers that Timothy Jay Smith continues writing and gives us all the espionage too.

So end game rating: Three Solid Cups of Coffee.

[I know it’s not always clear what my ratings mean but 3/5 Cups means that I enjoyed reading the book and would certainly recommend it to others who liked the genre. And in fact tomorrow I’ll be diving more into critiquing and reading for my post!]

Mini Reviews

 

I was going deviate from a review to do this lovely post on how I became a reader and love books so much, but, I just want sinus meds and a nap and to eat soup. So! A couple of mini reviews!!


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GoodReads Blurb:

What would you do if your whole life was a lie and learning the truth could cost you your life? 

From New York Times bestselling author of the Shadow Falls series comes C. C. Hunter’s new YA thriller about a girl who learns that she may have been kidnapped as a child, and must race to uncover the truth about her past before she winds up a victim.

Chloe was three years old when she became Chloe Holden, but her adoption didn’t scar her, and she’s had a great life. Now, fourteen years later, her loving parents’ marriage has fallen apart and her mom has moved them to Joyful, Texas. Starting twelfth grade as the new kid at school, everything Chloe loved about her life is gone. And feelings of déjà vu from her early childhood start haunting her. 

When Chloe meets Cash Colton she feels drawn to him, as though they’re kindred spirits. Until Cash tells her the real reason he sought her out: Chloe looks exactly like the daughter his foster parents lost years ago, and he’s determined to figure out the truth. 

As Chloe and Cash delve deeper into her adoption, the more things don’t add up, and the more strange things start happening. Why is Chloe’s adoption a secret that people would kill for?

Chloe Holden has always known she was adopted, her parents love her and she has a good life. Suddenly her parents are divorced and Chloe and her Mom are left to deal with cancer and a move to Joyful, TX right before Chloe starts her senior year.

While Chloe’s life is turning upside down, she meets Cash a foster kid of the Fullers who lost their daughter, Emily Fuller, 15 years ago, kidnapped under the watch of her Nanny.

What’s the connection between Emily and Chloe?

The plot keeps you engaged and entertained, you really feel bad for both Chloe and Cash for their own respective hard points in their lives. There’s more of Chloe’s parents in this book than most YA novels so that was actually a nice change.

The characters are not very deep but the fast pace of the plot makes up for it and you do get enough into Chloe and Holden’s heads that it doesn’t feel like they’re shallow, just that you could have left wanting more.

There’s some awkward writing at some rare moments (I’m not clear why boobs are such an awkwardly written thing in this but they are), but overall Hunter was fun to read and there are definitely some stereotypes but that didn’t take away from it being fun to read.

It was paced fast enough that I really didn’t want to put it down after starting it and I thought the ending was great. I felt not as much sympathy for Chloe’s Mom or for Mrs. Fuller but you could at least see where they were coming from and the interaction between Chloe and Cash was quite cute in the end.

An enjoyable and easy read, I would recommend it to those who like this sort of YA ‘mystery’ genre or looking for a quick read. I would pick up another book by C.C. Hunter.

I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

 


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GoodReads Blurb: When Sarah takes a job with occult expert Dr Matthew Geisler, he promises to help her understand the sorrowful spirit that seems to have attached itself to her.

As Sarah struggles to cope with the ghostly presence, she runs into Zeke, the man who left her six months earlier and is recovering from injuries suffered in an alleged accident. But Zeke has secrets of his own, and when an attempt is made on Geisler’s life, Sarah finds herself caught in a struggle between the living and the dead.

Unsure who she can trust, Sarah must solve the mystery of the soul determined to haunt her, and save Dr Geisler and herself from an unknown threat.

[This book was previously published as WEEPING IN THE WINGS.]

[Note: This is the SECOND book in a series, which may cause some confusion for the first couple of chapters.]

I would say this was a solid good read. Enjoyable, great pacing, and not too long. It had hints of paranormal, it was a good mystery and though you may find you could pinpoint ‘whodunit’ early on, it doesn’t take away from the entertainment value. It’s the sort of book where I KNOW I’ll want to read the next one each time and I appreciated the writing style as well. It wasn’t too flowery or heavy and it’s a blissful escape from a stressful day, the sort of read where it won’t drain you but it will keep you intrigued.

Another point I loved about this book was that you could really enjoy the WWII era of it and, this is a small thing but I LOVE that Thomas remembered about food rationing and made a point of including it during the food parts of the book, you want bacon in California in WWII? Too bad! So, HUGE kudos to historical accuracy on that front!

Zeke was pretty interesting but I think my favorite part was that he didn’t take over the storyline, in the end it was still about our Protagonist Sarah, she solves things without him and uses him as a sounding board, and guess what? It works and you still can appreciate the romance part of it without being like ‘please stop ruining the character(s)’.

I would recommend this to any mystery/paranormal reader and would definitely recommend reading the first book, well, first. It’s light, it’s fun, and yea probably predictable but sometimes that’s the kind of read I need.

I received this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

** Just a note guys, to me 3 cups of coffee ain’t nothing to be ashamed of, it means I find a book enjoyable and maybe wasn’t my favorite read but it was still good ***

 

 

WWW Wednesday

It’s time for the WWW Wednesday meme brought to you all by Taking on a World of Words

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What are you currently reading?

GoodReads Blurb:

Sarah Bennett has two secrets: she sees ghosts, and she is in love with a spy.

When Sarah takes a job with occult expert Dr Matthew Geisler, he promises to help her understand the sorrowful spirit that seems to have attached itself to her.

As Sarah struggles to cope with the ghostly presence, she runs into Zeke, the man who left her six months earlier and is recovering from injuries suffered in an alleged accident. But Zeke has secrets of his own, and when an attempt is made on Geisler’s life, Sarah finds herself caught in a struggle between the living and the dead.

Unsure who she can trust, Sarah must solve the mystery of the soul determined to haunt her, and save Dr Geisler and herself from an unknown threat.

[This book was previously published as WEEPING IN THE WINGS.]

I actually just finished this two minutes ago, but we’ll roll with it for my current read as you know, I haven’t started anything new in the last two minutes. I actually really enjoyed this, and while there was some confusion for me in the first couple of chapters (it wasn’t made clear it was the SECOND in a series but that’s been fixed, thanks to Isabelle) I was able to push past it and really just enjoy it. It’s a supernatural mystery, a medium who wants to solve crimes and it reminded me of a more adult-aimed The Mediator type series in a way, at least where the ghosts were concerned. I would totally recommend this one for those who like this genre, I’ll have a review posted of it tomorrow.

What did you recently finish reading?

I could post the GoodReads blurb for like the 80th time about this one, but I’ll spare you, I already reviewed it and that can be found here if you’re curious! Another top notch 2019 release and I was pretty happy to read it, and that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t read Kal’s awesome review of it. This book was like ‘oh, you have feelings, great, I’m gonna exploit them and make you weep.’ So, it comes highly recommended from me!

What do you think you’ll read next?

GoodReads Blurb:

For the past three years, Brynna has been patrolling the streets of Forcadel as a masked vigilante, protecting the innocent and beating up bad guys. Her current target is Lord Beswick, a slumlord businessman who keeps the townsfolk in a vicious poverty cycle. But one fateful evening, she’s captured by Felix, the captain of the king’s guard, and told a shocking truth: her father and brother are dead, and she needs to hang up her mask and become queen.

Before long, she negotiates a deal with Felix: attend to her royal duties during the day and continue her vigilante mission to take out Lord Beswick at night – at least until her coronation. But the politics of Forcadel are as volatile as the streets, and Brynna isn’t sure whom she can trust in the castle. With two royals dead in less than a month, she must use all her wits to make sure she isn’t the third.

I have actually been itching to start this one!! But! I wanted to make sure to do my eARCs in some sort of reading order by when they released, so, NOW I finally get to read this one and it’s my last eARC I really ‘needed’ to get through for my monthly goal, though I did add Nation of the Beasts, we’ll see if I get through it by this week, probably not, I’m not a machine and eventually have to take a break from reading lol. Anyway, I’ll talk more about our Princess Vigilante in The City of Veils as the publication draws nearer. [April 16th for those who are curious]

Have you read any of these? What did you finish or start this week?

Toodles!

My Top 5 Mystery Picks

Another Monday! There will be a day of Mini Reviews this week, I finished a couple and didn’t feel like only having review posts so I’m shoving some eARCs together while Stardust will get its own review post. But for now….

TIME TO GET OUR MYSTERY ON

These are in no particular order, I love them all, I’m a mystery lover.

5. Loves Music, Loves to Dance


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This was the first ‘proper’ mystery [and kind of a thriller] that I read, stepping away from the loving childhood mysteries like Hank the Cowdog the crime sleuthing ranch dog. Anyway, this isn’t a literary masterpiece but it was absolutely entertaining and terrifying to read for me. I remember reading this and having to keep the light on afterwards, jumping at the sounds in the night [let me also let you all know that I’m a huge scaredy cat, I was convinced I was going to get brutally murdered because I watched too much Law and Order SVU too much in my teens so don’t use me as a gage on how scary something is]. There’s a serial killer targeting women through the personals in the newspapers, and his signature is always the same, but will our detective be able to solve the crime, or will she be another victim?

4. The Comforters


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So! This was a new author for me! I just read her first novel The Comforters, as all Scottish libraries have received new centenarian editions of her novels like the one pictured. I really want to read more of her, this one was so quirky and I loved it, it was a more modern sounding Agatha Christie though they were really almost contemporaries as their timelines did cross. She also doesn’t seem to make religious jibes which was pretty brave for a female author at the time, so, I ended up having quite a lot of respect for her. If you’re an Agatha Christie fan, you may like her, but they’re definitely two different authors!

3. The Hounds of Baskervilles


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I had to add some Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the mix. I loved reading this book in English class in HS, and I’ve seen like ever variation of Sherlock Holmes that exists except for like 2, and that’s not for lack of trying! I really do believe that there is something great about Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, a man who isn’t weighed down by the certain aspects of humanity that usually make for a great protagonist, and instead of making the book ‘worse’ it’s one of the reasons most people love it. I also can’t help but love Dr. Watson, I would say this is also a good first Sherlock Holmes book for those looking to get into it, and I do know that some people can find it a bit wordy. Not difficult, just tedious perhaps.

2. Dead Man’s Blues


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I have recently gushed over this one and if you’re interested in it, I went ahead and linked my review to it. This had it all for me, jazz, Louis Armstrong, murder, historical fiction with a lot of good research about the Mafia in Chicago at the time (as well as just being ON point with the music history as well). The structure of the book even tries to replicate a jazz song. [For those curious, my grad work was all about jazz music in WWI and WWII in the U.K. and Paris, so, super fan girl] This was better than its predecessor The Axeman’s Jazz though I did really enjoy that too, and you don’t need to read it if you want to read this one, the characters are the same but any mention of the first book is explained so you’re not left scratching your head. Not to mention it doesn’t hurt that Ray Celestin is friendly and so helpful with answering questions!

1. Murder on the Orient Express


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Hahaha did you all think I wasn’t going to add her, or did you think it was going to be 5 Agatha Christie books? Oh, there’ll be a top 5 Agatha Christie books but not this post, and I actually wanted to put two but felt it was unfair as the other books on this list are great too. So, I’ve chosen Murder on the Orient Express for a couple of reasons. First off, it’s one of her most iconic books and I do absolutely love it. Secondly, this book is not at all like her others as far as the ending goes and so for those two reasons it beat out Death on the Nile for my pick for this list. She’s our Queen of Mystery and this was part of her Golden Age. I love Hercule Poirot the most out of her different series. Ms. Marple is definitely a badass but, I always enjoy the Poirot novels more. Christie also does some awesome short stories and standalone novels as well and you never have to read the other Poirots to pick up any of them which is great.

So there you all have, my top 5 mystery pics!! As you’re reading this, I’m probably at Captain Marvel, so…

Toodles!

Charity Shop Finds!

I swear this will not be every Sunday, in fact, we’re swearing off the High Street until next pay period and even then we’re not going crazy again.  [Or so we say pahaha]

So what did we grab this past Saturday??

 

Mini-Spawn also got two books of her own, a mini guide to Venice [My Mother is Venetian and she is a very proud Nonna at the moment lol] and her free book for World Book Day which I’ll be talking about more this week.

So instead of having full sized pics like the other times, I thought this might be a bit less scrolling for you all! So! We did not spend more than 1.50 for any of the books you see here! Overall we spent about 12 pounds.

Mary Stewart writes the Merlin series I’m tackling this year (Arthurian Saga technically) but she also wrote mysteries and I really wanted to check them out. Probably about 2-4 of these will go back to donation!.

The ones where there’s no title that you can see are: The one with the geometric cover is The LIght and the Dark, the one next to it is War and Peace, we own this but the cover’s too pretty to pass up lol, and the faded blue one is part of a favorite saga of mine, The Forsyte Saga; In Chancery. There we have it! Books, books everywhere! I have no idea where I am supposed to put them all??? Not to mention I have my books from Amazon coming [This is not the usual, I haven’t bought new books in like years on my own lol].

Anyone read any of these or score any deals of your own you wanna share??

**Also, when is a good time to do a first giveaway, should it be here or on Instagram, should it be after a certain number of followers? I’m asking because I’m most likely about to have two copies of Priory of the Orange Tree and if that happens I might save it for a giveaway.**

The Dresden Files: Storm Front


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First off, let me say that I was regarding this book with a huge amount of skepticism. Looking at the cover the man reminded me of people I knew in High School, people I did not at all like [I mean like specific people here lol not a generalization though I mean to be fair I hate everyone equally].

But it was for a book club, it was short, and it was a Wizard Private Investigator. I mean…you all know by now. MYSTERY IS MY WEAKNESS [And Sci-fi!]

So I rounded up my rating to four stars on GoodReads but it is a 3.5 in my books, a solid fun read, but had its issues.

Note: This is the first of The Dresden Files

Pros:
– Mystery and Fantasy a bit of a modern-day sprinkling of noir as far as it goes the office with the creaky fan with the mysterious woman client.
– We are getting a really awesome urban fantasy world.
– The author could really make me chuckle with some of the things he had our dear Wizard say
– It leaves you wanting to know more, what about this kind of mysterious White Council, when do we get to know more about Mac the Pub owner, how will his friendship with Murphy go after this?
– It’s fun and easy, it’s not there to make you think, but it’s not a bore either.
– Talking Skull ❤  Bob is literally the best part of this
– The reverence fairies have for pizza, I connected with them on a spiritual level
– The fact that Harry couldn’t really interact with technology, it was pretty amusing most of the time
– Deborah Chester was a Professor of his, I love her, she wrote my absolutely favorite Sci-Fi trilogy [*coughs and unashamedly links you back to the Sci-Fi picks post*]
– I want to go to Mac’s Pub, and I want a steak sandwich. Now please and thank you.
– A nice easy way of world building [gets a little too explanatory as Harry’s narrating it to you, but, overall enjoyable!]

Cons:
– I hated Harry most of the time. I hate how he saw the female characters but I could respect that this was done from his point of view so we don’t really know how the women are, only how he sees them [for the love of all that is good, please someone tell me he gets less horrible with this] I mean he basically is a chauvinist
– How are women attracted to him? I’m sorry but if my husband didn’t shower for a week, I would not be like -tosses bedroom eyes- [And I would hope he would throw my ass in the shower if the roles were reversed] But more to the point of it,
– At one point I wanted to take Murphy and shake the living crap out of her, she got so annoying and it seemed to really contradict the fact that they were supposed to have had trust in the first place, it didn’t feel like they did, to begin with in my opinion.
– So, someone brought up a good point that had been nagging me at the back of my mind in their Goodreads review; WHY DOES HE CONTINUOUSLY NOT HAVE HIS STAFF? THERE IS NOT ENOUGH WIZARDY THINGS FROM THE WIZARD
– Don’t read this for strong female characters, you’ll be filled with cliches, and, that works with some, like Mac, but not for the others
– Harry wears a duster and boots with sweatpants at one point, I was already annoyed that he wore the duster. This pushed me too far, I nearly screeched and flipped a table over
– This is no literary masterpiece, and a lot of times Butcher’s writing will get awkward and clunky but he always smooths it out at the end. But, don’t read this to be filled with meaningful insight.

A quick fun read I’ll be reading more Dresden Files, but, if the lack of depth to the female characters and Harry’s wardrobe continues, I may have to rate down more.