First Lines Friday #39

Hooray! It’s Friday!
I have plans for this weekend including chores, studying, reading, and lots and lots of gaming.

Today’s post: A First Lines Friday for my current read! It’s a lighter book, contemporary romance, compared to the gritty and action-filled previous read. It’s a nice breather in between all of the adrenaline rushes! Can you guess what I’m reading based on the book’s opening lines?

First Lines Friday is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?  

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

(Click on the book covers for a link to their GoodReads page)

꜀( ˊ̠˂˃ˋ̠ )꜆ F – R – I – Y – A – Y !! ꜀( ˊ̠˂˃ˋ̠ )꜆

This week’s lines…

“There it is!” Ivy Perkins pointed at the weather-beaten sign hanging from a dented mailbox nearly obscured by a stand of overgrown dead shrubbery. “Four Roses Farm, Punkin. See it?”

Enjoyed that preview? This week’s book is…

The Santa Suit by Mary Kay Andrews

Blurb

From Mary Kay Andrews, the New York Times bestselling author of Hello, Summer, comes a novella celebrating the magic of Christmas and second chances in The Santa Suit.

When newly-divorced Ivy Perkins buys an old farmhouse sight unseen, she is definitely looking for a change in her life. The Four Roses, as the farmhouse is called, is a labor of love—but Ivy didn’t bargain on just how much labor. The previous family left so much furniture and so much junk, that it’s a full-time job sorting through all of it.

At the top of a closet, Ivy finds an old Santa suit—beautifully made and decades old. In the pocket of a suit she finds a note written in a childish hand: it’s from a little girl who has one Christmas wish, and that is for her father to return home from the war. This discovery sets Ivy off on a mission. Who wrote the note? Did the man ever come home? What mysteries did the Rose family hold?

Ivy’s quest brings her into the community, at a time when all she wanted to do was be left alone and nurse her wounds. But the magic of Christmas makes miracles happen, and Ivy just might find more than she ever thought possible: a welcoming town, a family reunited, a mystery solved, and a second chance at love.

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Book Review: Pirate Bounty by Rick Partlow and Pacey Holden

Hello, my lovely peeps🐥!
I’m aching for the weekend and it feels so far away! I finally got to a very interesting point in Fire Emblem Engage except, now I’m too busy to have a moment to sit down and enjoy the game…Sure, I’ve got time to play it, but I feel like I can’t fully immerse myself and truly have fun until it’s the weekend when I’ve got a little more time.

For today’s post, I am sharing this week’s book review. This time around, I’m featuring Pirate Bounty: A Military Sci-Fi Series by Rick Partlow and Pacey Holden!


Title: Pirate Bounty: A Military Sci-Fi Series
Author: Rick Partlow and Pacey Holden
Genre: Fiction, Sci-Fi, Space-Opera, Action, Military Sci-Fi
Edition: Ebook > Kindle
Length: 360 Pages (Kindle)
Published: 29 Nov 2022
Publisher: Aethon Books

LINKS:
Amazon
: [Link]
Goodreads: [Link]


Sometimes, it takes killing to make a living.

That fiancée? She’s married—to another guy.

The family business? His parents sold it.

Jack Bennet returns from the war to find the life he left behind has moved on without him. The only option he has to make ends meet lies in a military surplus junkyard starship. What’s a former Combat Search and Rescue soldier to do?

Fix up the ship, hire the cheapest pilot—a notorious drunk—and take the first contract that comes up: collect a bounty on one of the most ruthless killers in the Pirate Worlds, a place crawling with thieves, cutthroats and con artists whose primary language is violence. Jack must abandon his nice guy persona, or exploit it, if he is to survive.

What could possibly go wrong?

Experience the start of an explosive Military Sci-Fi Series from bestseller Rick Partlow, author of Drop Trooper, and debut author Pacey Holden.

This was a surprisingly random find. I was growing slightly desperate and was on my fourth book of the week (having dumped the other 3) but when I came across this book, I gave the sampler a quick peek, saw some badass scene in the first chapter (prologue) and thought, “This is the one!” I had really enjoyed the writing, my deciding point in getting the book, and probably one of my favorite aspects about the book. The battle scenes were quick, chaotic, and felt like a warfield, and the emotions around it felt real enough to make me picture and visualize the scene perfectly. There was just enough description to make the average scene not too overwhelming, but the real fun kicks in on the battle and fight scenes. It’s an adrenaline rush of movement and everything’s so quick. Blink and you’ll get popped in the face. Lose your attention and you might get shot. I really enjoyed those scenes and that final fight scene had a lot things happening. It was a race against time trying to save someone while trying to make your way through the chase and fight and stay alive. It gets really intense! I do love me intense some intense scenes!

Another thing I really loved about the book were the main character John (Jack) Bennet and his pilot, Robin (Birdy) Hartley. When I saw the book revolved around a ship, I was kind of expecting a whole crew of people (or at least one or two more others). I’m a sucker for a ragtag crew, kicking ass, while throwing quips and banter around so I was just a biiit disappointed in seeing that it was just Jack and Birdy (mostly Jack because as Birdy doesn’t fight and mostly stays up in the skies or trying to sneak off with Jack’s money into a bar or casino). I like that Jack, despite all of his military background, because he’s on his own now, and he’s just one guy against a gaggle of enemies, it’s natural in that he’s constantly getting away by the skin of his teeth, doesn’t get everyone out together, or just gets overpowered. I like that realism. I just got off a round in Fire Emblem where my archer walked away scrap free after 7-8 enemies surrounded him because he’s too overleveled…

I really enjoyed Birdy’s character too. This guy is a drunkard who lives for his next moments with the bottle and lands himself a job in which one of the job duties is to be sober (and remain sober) but he ends up getting himself into a tussle [almost] straight into his role, drunk out his mind and giggling like a madman. By the end though, he was pretty reliable. He really could’ve left Jack to die, but kept his word and stuck around. He’s a mess of a person, but a decent enough human when not blasting his remaining brain cells with happy juice. Even when he was drunk, he wasn’t such a bad person either, just annoying and stubborn.

I will say though, Jack’s abysmal luck is laughable. This luck makes up most of the plot because of the situations he lands himself in. This guy had a future plan only to come home to betrayal after betrayal (heartbreaking really; wtf parents does something like that? And his fiancée too??), get a scrap of metal of a starship as his only piece of his share in the family company being sold, gets a drunkard as his only pilot (budget was tight okay?), still aims for a relatively peaceful and civilian life with a shipping business of his own, gets his business Amazon/Walmart’d before it even takes off, gets tied up with royally pissing off a mobster for his first delivery, lands himself in prison, has to take another job and ends up as a bounty hunter (there goes his hopes and dreams of living a fight-less life), and finally gets roped into some major cult thing trying to get someone out of said scary major cult.

The world building was interesting, though we only got to experience a couple of worlds, we come across aliens, other humans, mobsters, and cults with the creepiest “everybody looks alike” vibe. Classic shiver-down-your-spine kind of cult. The weapons and ships were neat, though most of the concepts did occasionally fly over my head as general background information. 

All in all, a pretty good read. It was the only one of four that I was able to stick with, so if nothing else in my review says much, this one small note might. I enjoyed the reading, while I can’t say I enjoyed Jack’s awful luck at life, it did catapult the plot at a lightning speed because nothing says fast-paced until life throws whole trees at you when you’re still trying to recover from a single lemon…The characters were enjoyable, Jack felt real enough. I definitely enjoyed the writing and some of the dialogue. I enjoyed some of the other characters as well, such as Jack’s love interest Val and a villain named Artemis (an enemy of an enemy is a sorta kinda, more like a bio-prisoner, of a friend of mine) who was a riot to read. If you enjoy sci-fi, spaceships, planet hopping, cult and mobster rage/vengence dodging, bits of romance, drunk but tries to stay sober pilots, and unlucky main characters, pick yourself up a copy of Pirate Bounty. You never know. You might enjoy it as much as I did.

WWW Wednesday – 01 Feb 2023

Hello my lovely peeps! Happy hump day and happy February as well!
It’s the middle of the week and that means it’s time for this week’s WWW Wednesday! I was able to finish a pretty exciting book this weekend, but then got caught up and hooked on Fire Emblem Engage on Sunday and Monday so guess who’s been slacking with reading again? Still though, I did find a wee bit of time to squeeze in a few handful of minutes to read this week, so let’s see what’s on my reading list this time!

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam over on Taking on a World of Words

The Questions
What are you currently reading?
What have you just finished reading?
What are you going to read next?

(Click on the book covers for a link to their GoodReads page)


What are you currently reading?

The Santa Suit by Mary Kay Andrews

I’m not usually a romance fan, but when it comes to short, easy to read, chick-lits, I’ll pick it up anytime. I just came out of a pretty intense and action filled read and usually in between those kinds of books, I like to have a little refresher. It used to be the next book up in the Virgil Flowers series, but I’m finally out of new ones, I’m procrastinating on the Prey series, and honestly I think even I got sick of using bloody thrillers for a refresher. A light-mooded book with a bit of romance and a plot where you know it’ll most likely end up with some form of HEA sounds like a much better choice. So I went Libby scrolling and the cover caught my eye. What more is there to say?

Blurb

When newly-divorced Ivy Perkins buys an old farmhouse sight unseen, she is definitely looking for a change in her life. The Four Roses, as the farmhouse is called, is a labor of love—but Ivy didn’t bargain on just how much labor. The previous family left so much furniture and so much junk, that it’s a full-time job sorting through all of it.

At the top of a closet, Ivy finds an old Santa suit—beautifully made and decades old. In the pocket of a suit she finds a note written in a childish hand: it’s from a little girl who has one Christmas wish, and that is for her father to return home from the war. This discovery sets Ivy off on a mission. Who wrote the note? Did the man ever come home? What mysteries did the Rose family hold?

Ivy’s quest brings her into the community, at a time when all she wanted to do was be left alone and nurse her wounds. But the magic of Christmas makes miracles happen, and Ivy just might find more than she ever thought possible: a welcoming town, a family reunited, a mystery solved, and a second chance at love.

What have you just finished reading?

Pirate Bounty: A Military Sci-Fi Series by Rick Partlow & Pacey Holden

I spent most of the week prior to last week just picking up…and putting down…and picking up…and putting down book after book. Nothing was sticking and I was worried I was seeing the beginning of another reading slump after struggling to get out of my last (very long) one! You know that tingly feeling you get sometimes and you go “Uh oh, incoming cold!” That’s what two weeks ago felt like to me.

I was on Amazon again when I came across a book that was already on my TBR. I had some e-book credits in my account and the Kindle version was only $0.99 so it was only natural to pick it up.

The sampler’s writing? Great!
The cover? Neat-o! 
TBR status? Already interested in picking this book up for a while.
Price? Free 99!
Results? I got it, I read it, and I loved it! Review to come tomorrow!

Blurb

Sometimes, it takes killing to make a living.

That fiancée? She’s married—to another guy.

The family business? His parents sold it.

Jack Bennet returns from the war to find the life he left behind has moved on without him. The only option he has to make endsmeet lies in a military surplus junkyard starship. What’s a former Combat Search and Rescue soldier to do?

Fix up the ship, hire the cheapest pilot—a notorious drunk—and take the first contract that comes up: collect a bounty on one of the most ruthless killers in the Pirate Worlds, a place crawling with thieves, cutthroats and con artists whose primary language is violence. Jack must abandon his nice guy persona, or exploit it, if he is to survive.

What could possibly go wrong?

What are you going to read next?

The City & the City by China Miéville

I made a little post on IG the other day saying that no book has ever made me feel the same way as Perdido Street Station did. I get this fond and happy feeling every time I lay eyes on it on my shelf and that doesn’t even happen when I lay eyes on any books from my favorite author! Perdido Street Station and Miéville’s writing was simply special in a way I can’t fully describe and so, every other Miéville book after Peridod Street Station has been a struggle to start. His writing was dense and beautiful and I felt like all his books would be similar. I thought, “I’ll read this book when the time is just right.” I had to have the perfect environment, the perfect time, the perfect couch, the perfect weather before I so much as let myself curl up to explore another of his books.

The time isn’t perfect. The weather is piss poor. And honestly, I’m so achy from poor posture, no couch will ever be perfect to me. But, I’ve got to start somewhere and next week will be that somewhere sometime. I eagerly await it. If I finish The Santa Suit early (doubtful, I’m a slow reader), I may even start The City & The City this weekend!

Blurb

When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. To investigate, Borlú must travel from the decaying Beszel to its equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the vibrant city of Ul Qoma.

But this is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a seeing of the unseen. With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, Borlú is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one.

As the detectives uncover the dead woman’s secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them more than their lives. What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.



First Lines Friday #38

Hello my lovely peeps🐥 and happy Friday!
It’s the end of the week and I’m looking forward to a weekend of books and video games!
Last weekend was Chinese New Years so I didn’t spend much time at home and the past two weekends were spent cleaning up for it. So this weekend, I finally get to lay down and relax for a bit! 

For today’s post, we have a First Lines Friday!
After picking up and DNF’ing a handful of books (3 I think), I finally have one on hand that I’m on the 60% mark at. Can you guess what it is based on its opening lines?

First Lines Friday is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?  

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

(Click on the book covers for a link to their GoodReads page)

꜀( ˊ̠˂˃ˋ̠ )꜆ F – R – I – Y – A – Y !! ꜀( ˊ̠˂˃ˋ̠ )꜆

This week’s lines…

If you want to make it in the galaxy, the first thing you need to learn—and you might want to get this written down somewhere, because if you forget it, you’re screwed just like every other clueless wastrel wandering the cosmos—is that every decision has a consequence.

Enjoyed that preview? This week’s book is…

Pirate Bounty by Rick Partlow & Pacey Holden

Blurb (Goodreads)

Sometimes, it takes killing to make a living.

That fiancée? She’s married—to another guy.

The family business? His parents sold it.

Jack Bennet returns from the war to find the life he left behind has moved on without him. The only option he has to make endsmeet lies in a military surplus junkyard starship. What’s a former Combat Search and Rescue soldier to do?

Fix up the ship, hire the cheapest pilot—a notorious drunk—and take the first contract that comes up: collect a bounty on one of the most ruthless killers in the Pirate Worlds, a place crawling with thieves, cutthroats and con artists whose primary language is violence. Jack must abandon his nice guy persona, or exploit it, if he is to survive.

What could possibly go wrong?

Book Review: Tanqueray by Stephanie Johnson & Brandon Stanton

Happy Thursday! I thought last week went by fast, being that I started my new job a day into the week, giving me a 4-day week, but this week is supposed to be my first full week and it went by even faster than the last! It feels like I blink and it’s already almost Friday. Time is wild!

Today’s post is my review for Tanqueray by Stephanie Johnson & Brandon Stanton!

Title: Tanqueray
Author: Stephanie Johnson & Brandon Stanton
Genre: Nonfiction > Memoir, Biography
Edition: Audiobook (Libby)
Length: 3 hours 17 minutes
Publishing: 12th July 2022

LINKS:
Amazon: [Link]
Goodreads: [Link]

1970s New York City: Go-go dancers, The Peppermint Lounge, gangsters, Billy’s Topless, and Stephanie Johnson…

In 2019, Humans of New York featured a photo of a woman in an outrageous fur coat and hat she made herself. She instantly captured the attention of millions. Her name is Stephanie Johnson, but she’s better known to HONY followers as “Tanqueray,” the indefatigable woman who was once one of the best-known burlesque dancers in New York City.

Brandon Stanton chronicled her life in the longest series he had yet posted on HONY, but, now, Stephanie Johnson—a woman as fabulous, unbowed, and irresistible as the city she lives in—tells all in Tanqueray, a book filled with never-before-told stories, personal photos from her own collection, and glimpses of New York City back in the day when the name “Tanqueray” was on everyone’s lips.

When I first read Stephanie’s story, it was via HONY’s Facebook page and, I’m sure like many others, I eagerly waited for Brandon’s next piece to the story as they typically get posted in a time interval rather than the entire story all at once. It was an amazing story that brought tears to my eyes and I knew, a short time later, that a book was coming out as well. I never actually got around to it, until this month when I’d simply happened upon it while scrolling through Libby, looking for my next read.

This was a great story, although I doubt “beautiful tale” and “wonderful story” is the right word, but, it evoked strong emotions in me and just as I loved the original posts, I loved this book as well. There was a little bit more in this book than what was in the posts and includes an extra (audiobook special) interview towards the end between Brandon and Stephanie, looking for updates from Stephanie and discussing the emotions that came during the process of this book.

The story by Stephanie was captivating and makes you keep reading on. Most of HONY’s stories will have you glued to your phone for updates on the next piece of the full story and this was no different. I’m so glad that Brandon had stopped to listen to Stephanie’s story, even though he didn’t have his equipment on him (and he even went back to grab it!). From this book and from Stephanie, we get to listen to her life as both as Stephanie and as Tanqueray and my was Tanqueray glamorous and unstoppable. She had a special resilience to her. It does have a little different feeling from normal memoirs and autobiographies, but it doesn’t take away from the story one bit. Her childhood and much of her life is incredibly drama filled, intense, and heartbreaking. Her memory and ability to recall all of this information from all the way back to her childhood and her dolls, praying to have a chance to escape her mother. She remembers her good friends, the warden that helped her during her time in jail, the times she spent with other people, the mobsters that helped her…Her ability to show us readers what NYC was like back in the 70s was remarkable and so crystal clear even after all these years.

This was a story that was engrossing and simply too short. It was fascinating though and a great read. I’m glad Stephanie was able to share this story and I’m so glad to come across it again.

Blog Tour Book Review: Unanimity by Alexandra Almeida


Title: Unanimity
Author: Alexandra Almeida
Genre: Fiction > Science Fiction, LGBT, Romance, Dystopian
Length: 570 Pages
Publishing: 18th October 2022

LINKS:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0B1TGN5FM/  
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/62835573 

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. A huge thank you to TheWriteReads and the author for this copy! All opinions are my own.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Shadow is a reluctant god with a broken mind and a death wish. He used to be Thomas Astley-Byron, an affluent young screenwriter whose creativity and idealism saved a world from the brink of collapse. Together with Henry Nowak, an AI expert, Tom created heaven on earth by inventing a Jungian simulated reality that helps humans confront their dark sides. The benevolent manipulation platform turned the two unelected leaders into beloved gods, but now everything is failing. The worlds suffer as a sentimental Tom descends into his own personal hell, becoming the embodiment of everything he despises and a shadow of his former self.

His journey from an optimistic, joyful Tom to a gloomy Shadow is paved with heartache and sinister interference from emerging technology. Humans and bots fight for his heart, but their aims differ: some want to own it, some to dissect it, and others to end its foolish beat. Still, the biggest threat comes from within—none of the sticky stories that steer Tom’s life end well.

Who’s pulling on Shadow’s heartstrings? Are their intentions malign or benign? It’s all a matter of perspective, and Shadow has none left.

Now, a young goddess—Estelle Ngoie—has been appointed to replace him, and unlike Shadow, Stella takes no prisoners, and her heart bleeds for no one.

This was a really good sci-fi book with an interesting plot and even more intriguing world and concept that was nicely done, creating this vast world that left me with lots to explore and more to crave. Right away, the plot is intense, we have a goddess questioning herself for reviving a god who clearly did not want to be revived. Straight away, Goddess Stella, a stark contrast to the main character and previous God, Shadow, gets right into business, stating her reason for resurrecting an bringing back Shadow to being that he is needed to save the Down Below, or Spiral World and he’s the only one that can do it.

The book has some pretty complex characters that have some good amount of depth, background, flaws, and problems of their own. Each personality is vastly different from the other and many of them loathing someone else in the group, but it’s going to take a lot of cooperation if things are going to go smoothly and for the plan to work, which is mainly about keeping Shadow alive long enough to “save the worlds.” I really enjoyed the cast of characters from Sybil, the AI operating system that is sketchy through and through, to our protagonist, Shadow, and to Stella and Thorn, two seriously badass female characters. There’s also Nathan Storm, Shadow’s (Tom) soul mate as well as Twist (Henry), Tom’s best friend and co-creator of Spiral World. A colorful bunch indeed, especially as, when it comes to gods, this group seems to be the brattiest I’ve ever seen.

The writing was neat, smooth, and full FULL of dialogue. There’s a lot of talking whether it’s an interview between a talk show host and another character, a deep and intimate moment between lovers, or even in battle, there’s lots of talking. The pace was fine and the characters changed between the current timeline and the past, to give more background and information as the story moved on, which was kind of neat and besides learning more about each character and their origins, as well as their ties to each other and the plot, it’s also a small relief from the intensity of the current timeline, a small breather (although the past can occasionally get intense on its own). 

I did have a couple of issues though. Sometimes, I just got lost in the plot. I could understand the overall plot and so small details could occasionally be sacrificed. Sometimes though, I might come across a section or even whole chapters where I had to reread because I was a bit lost resulting in either “oh, got it” or just leaving it because while I’m still confused, I figured it’s a small enough detail to deal with later. Then, while I loved the characters (ok, I mean I sort of hated them because it was like being the adult standing in between teenagers and their fighting) I felt a little distant from them. I couldn’t connect with them or their emotions and feelings. Both issues were quite small though and didn’t take away from the overall read. It’s just that something felt off every now and then.

Overall, a pretty good read of hard science as well as bits of philosophy with moments to think and ponder, lots of dialogue and lots of action, intense conversations and intense scenes, high on emotion and I, again, can’t emphasis enough how neat the concept of exploring the dark side of a human’s mind, the level of worlds, and the complex (and coolness) of the science of AI and bots in this dystopian world. A good read, I’d recommend it and wouldn’t mind rereading it again either. 

Alexandra Almeida has over 25 years of experience in technology, strategy, and innovation. In her role as Chief Transformation Officer, she acts as a senior advisor to enterprise executives. Alexandra is an experienced speaker at events such as SXSW, and the Women in Tech Series.

For the time being, and to protect her creative freedoms, Alexandra prefers to write using a number of pen names.

​Her debut fantasy novel, released under another pen name, has received the following awards and recognition:

  • Reader’s Favorite Awards – Gold Medal Winner – Young Adult – Fantasy – Epic
  • Reader Views Awards – 1st Place – Fantasy
  • CIPA EVVY Book Awards – 2nd Place – Fiction – Mythology
  • B.R.A.G. Medallion Recipient
  • Eric Hoffer’s Da Vinci Eye Awards Finalist for Best Cover Artwork
  • The Wishing Shelf Book Awards Finalist – Books for Adults
  • Awesome Indies Approved


Following the self-publishing path by choice to retain full control of her IP, Alexandra invests in the best editors available in the business to match publishing quality standards.

Book Review: Open Season by C.J.Box

The first week of the year’s over and now the second week’s nearly over too! These last two weeks have gone by quickly!
This book was part of my “you’ve had it forever, just read it already” list from my 2023 Bookish Resolutions & Goals post. I knew I had plans on reading it by the time this year ended, but I didn’t think it was going to be my first read of the year. I had needed to pick something for my first read and I had nothing. I wasn’t about to fail my other 2023 resolution of “read every day” on day 1, so I ran around my room and picked a book. I just grabbed whatever was out and Open Season was still on my bed from when I randomly picked the 3 (physical) ones to come up with that list for my New Year’s post.

In any case, I’m very glad to have picked this book up. I was able to get started on that 5 priority reads list of mine early!
So, for today’s post: My book review for Open Season by C.J.Box!

Book Title: Open Season
Author: C.J. Box
Length: 278 Pages
Edition: Physical > Paperback
Published: 31 May 2016 (first published/hardcover/ 9 July 2001)
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Crime, Western, Suspense, Action

Goodreads: >LINK<
Amazon: >LINK<

The first novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series featuring Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett–the book that launched one of the biggest, most reliable, and fastest growing franchises in commercial fiction!

Joe Pickett is the new game warden in Twelve Sleep, Wyoming, a town where nearly everyone hunts and the game warden–especially one like Joe who won’t take bribes or look the other way–is far from popular. When he finds a local hunting outfitter dead, splayed out on the woodpile behind his state-owned home, he takes it personally. Even after the discovery of two more bodies, and the resolution of the case by local police, Joe continues to investigate.

As Joe digs deeper into the murders, he soon discovers that the outfitter brought more than death to his backdoor: he brought Joe an endangered species, thought to be extinct, which is now living in his woodpile. But if word of this rare species gets out, it will destroy any chance of InterWest, a multi-national natural gas company, building an oil pipeline through the mountains and forests of Twelve Sleep. The closer Joe comes to the truth behind the outfitter murders, the endangered species, and InterWest, the closer he comes to losing everything he holds dear.

This book has been sitting on my shelf since I purchased it from an on-sale box in Kmart before the store closed back in 2018. Meaning, this book has been sitting on my shelf, unread, for over 5 years now and while I did get around to it once before, I never made it past the prologue of the book (although, it might’ve been because I was moving at the time). I’ll be honest, I almost DNF’d it a few times, I was just not feeling the book for the first quarter of it, but by the time I finished, I was singing praises for it.

I thought that the book was fairly interesting, even in the beginning. With a starting paragraph revolving around the sound flesh makes when it’s been penetrated by a high-powered rifle bullet, it does have a pretty good hook to it. Something dies and needs immediate investigation seems to ensue. The mystery seems to start right away. 

Joe Pickett is a game warden and it’s his job to protect the animals, especially when it’s outside hunting season and poachers are trying sneak around with their work. He’s relatively new on the job, but is an honorable and straight man. Sure, others have successfully gotten away via bribery, but not with Joe Pickett. No sir, he’s not that kind of law enforcer. No bribe and no, he won’t look the other way. If you deserve a ticket, you’re going to get a ticket. He even arrested the governor of Wyoming for fishing without a license (something nobody will ever let him live down)!

The story begins with the death of an outfitter, shot, and who dies on Joe’s property. It’s usually the police’s job to deal with crimes like homicide, but not only does he know this man, but to have had the guy succumb to his wounds in Joe’s very own backyard, this is extra personal. When things get wrapped up too quickly and swept under a rug, Joe takes it upon himself to investigate deeper into the case, sniffing out things that the police had clearly missed previously. However, when he digs too deeply, suddenly his whole life is upturned and everyone he loves is faced with dangers and threats.

My favorite thing about this book are the characters. C.J. Box has an intro (in this edition, at least, ~2016) where he talks about how he picked out Joe’s name, why is the book is set in Wyoming, and about strong female characters and strong female characters we got. Joe’s a huge family man, unlike some of his close friends, who are happy to boast about cheating, such as when Joe walks in on his friend with another woman, despite being married. But Joe? Joe is a good guy and a very loyal husband and a great father. I enjoyed the fact that he isn’t perfect. I’ve seen some cocky cops as well as cops who seem to have stellar records. Well, he has a good handful of items against his reputation by the end (some having recovered though), not to mention how unliked he can be since he simply won’t look the other way. 

“In what Joe and Marybeth later called ‘one [sic] his larger bonehead moves,’ Joe had written the wrong date for the appointment with the director in his calendar and simply missed it. When Joe screwed up, he tended to do it massively and publicly.”

Joe’s bogged down by finances (he barely makes $26,000.00 a year) along with the guilt of letting his family down because of this low income, is later further bogged down by the guilt of his involvement in the case and bringing dangers to their front steps, is a bad pistol shot, and makes mistakes that the community quickly knows about. I love a good cop that can sniff out clues like a blood hound and always seems to know what they need to do next, but at the same time, seeing a guy like Joe, who isn’t perfect and constantly anxious about the events in his life, it’s kind of refreshing.

Then there’s his wife, Marybeth, and their two children, Sheridan and Lucy. Marybeth takes care of her family amazingly well. Pregnant, and caring for the two kids, she always sticks by with Joe, despite how rough their situation is. Sheridan, their older daughter, is one of the stars of the show here, having her own POV chapters and being very involved in the case due to what she witnesses and experiences. Multiple times, she’s in such danger that my heart’s at my throat. She’s so brave in this book and is quite smart as well. 

I also enjoyed the writing. It’s easy to read and where things are needing description, C.J. Box doesn’t overdo it and the writing flows smoothly. Where things shine the most, like I mentioned before, are the characters. I admire Sheridan and loved her chapters. I especially love how C.J. Box was able to easily switch the narrative tone from the point of view of an adult (Joe) to a child’s (Sheridan). This especially shows during moments when Sheridan’s in danger. I could feel her very real fear and it’s horrifying (it’s absolutely terrifying and I’d throw up if I were in her shoes). Villain wise, they’re written in a way where I almost anticipated who they are very early in the book. These characters just ooze a slimy feeling and you immediately distrust them (and what do you know, I was kind of right, even if I did guess wrong). 
Overall, this was a great book and a good start to a new series. When it comes to mystery thrillers, the protagonists, if they are part of the government/law enforcement, I’m generally used to seeing them as spies, FBI, PI, actual police/state agents, forensic scientists, and the such. Now, adding to this mix, we have a game warden, a position I (as someone who lives in the big cities) have never really considered to lead a story. It was a great read that invoked real and helpless fear inside me. I wasn’t so much as focused on the plot itself as I was with keeping track of Joe and Sheridan’s involvement to that plot as well as reading Joe’s despair that he’s let his family down, hard. I’m so used to seeing a seasoned cop, even by the very first installment, that it’s nice to see how green Joe is. I’ve recently reached the end of one of my favorite mystery thriller series, so I’m very interested in seeing where C.J. Box will take our game warden next. Seeing as the series is currently 23 books long, including the upcoming publication for Storm Watch coming out this year (2023), I’m sure this’ll be quite the journey.

WWW Wednesday – 11 Jan 2023

Happy Wednesday my lovely peeps🐥!
After Righteous Prey, at the end of September, I went into a reading hiatus and when I came back, it was a slow ease, reading here and there and mostly for BBNYA. I’m glad to finally be back on schedule: one book a week and reviews on Thursdays!

Today’s post is going to be this week’s WWW Wednesday!

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam over on Taking on a World of Words

The Questions
What are you currently reading?
What have you just finished reading?
What are you going to read next?

(Click on the book covers for a link to their GoodReads page)

What are you currently reading?

Unanimity by Alexandra Almeida

I’m currently reading a book for my first blog tour of the year: Unanimity by Alexandra Almeida. It’s pretty interesting and intense so far, and I look forward to finishing it this week.

Goodreads Blurb:

Shadow is a reluctant god with a broken mind and a death wish. He used to be Thomas Astley-Byron, an affluent young screenwriter whose creativity and idealism saved a world from the brink of collapse. Together with Henry Nowak, an AI expert, Tom created heaven on earth by inventing a Jungian simulated reality that helps humans confront their dark sides. The benevolent manipulation platform turned the two unelected leaders into beloved gods, but now everything is failing. The worlds suffer as a sentimental Tom descends into his own personal hell, becoming the embodiment of everything he despises and a shadow of his former self.

His journey from an optimistic, joyful Tom to a gloomy Shadow is paved with heartache and sinister interference from emerging technology. Humans and bots fight for his heart, but their aims differ: some want to own it, some to dissect it, and others to end its foolish beat. Still, the biggest threat comes from within—none of the sticky stories that steer Tom’s life end well.

Who’s pulling on Shadow’s heartstrings? Are their intentions malign or benign? It’s all a matter of perspective, and Shadow has none left.

Now, a young goddess—Estelle Ngoie—has been appointed to replace him, and unlike Shadow, Stella takes no prisoners, and her heart bleeds for no one.

What have you just finished reading?

Open Season by C.J. Box

The poor book had been sitting on my bookshelf since prior to my then-local Kmart closing down (2018-2019). I figured it was time to read it. I had it added to my New Year’s resolutions and goals for this year, part of a list of 5 books I’ve owned forever and thus must read by 2024. It was a bit of an accident that I ended up picking it as my first read of the year. Really enjoyed it, actually, and the review is live on Cozy with Books, tomorrow!

Goodreads Blurb:

The first novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series featuring Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett–the book that launched one of the biggest, most reliable, and fastest growing franchises in commercial fiction!

Joe Pickett is the new game warden in Twelve Sleep, Wyoming, a town where nearly everyone hunts and the game warden–especially one like Joe who won’t take bribes or look the other way–is far from popular. When he finds a local hunting outfitter dead, splayed out on the woodpile behind his state-owned home, he takes it personally. Even after the discovery of two more bodies, and the resolution of the case by local police, Joe continues to investigate.

As Joe digs deeper into the murders, he soon discovers that the outfitter brought more than death to his backdoor: he brought Joe an endangered species, thought to be extinct, which is now living in his woodpile. But if word of this rare species gets out, it will destroy any chance of InterWest, a multi-national natural gas company, building an oil pipeline through the mountains and forests of Twelve Sleep. The closer Joe comes to the truth behind the outfitter murders, the endangered species, and InterWest, the closer he comes to losing everything he holds dear.

What are you going to read next?

Tanqueray by Brandon Stanton & Stephanie Johnson

This has been on my TBR for a while, ever since I saw Brandon’s original post and Tanqueray/Stephanie’s story on HONY’s Facebook. I was running through the nonfiction section of Libby when I came across this audiobook copy and, seeing as next week will be hectic with both the new job & Chinese New Year prep, the length was just perfect. I can’t wait to get into this one!

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

I was in Barnes & Noble, the other day, and already had two books on hand. I left the table (that had this book on display along with other nonfictions), and came back, and left, and came back, and left and told myself I’m on a strict budget, and came back, and left again, and eventually, as I was rushing to the register, I came back and grabbed it. I heard great things about it, the writing (in the brief period that I skimmed the book) did not sound like the boring history textbooks I am used to seeing such topics in, and honestly, the glossy pages won me over because I like shiny things.

I’d also seen it before, floating around booktok and bookstagram, and when I was checking out, the cashier also told me that he really liked this book. I wasn’t about to leave it behind then!

Goodreads Blurb (Tanqueray):

1970s New York City: Go-go dancers, The Peppermint Lounge, gangsters, Billy’s Topless, and Stephanie Johnson…

In 2019, Humans of New York featured a photo of a woman in an outrageous fur coat and hat she made herself. She instantly captured the attention of millions. Her name is Stephanie Johnson, but she’s better known to HONY followers as “Tanqueray,” the indefatigable woman who was once one of the best-known burlesque dancers in New York City.

Brandon Stanton chronicled her life in the longest series he had yet posted on HONY, but, now, Stephanie Johnson—a woman as fabulous, unbowed, and irresistible as the city she lives in—tells all in Tanqueray, a book filled with never-before-told stories, personal photos from her own collection, and glimpses of New York City back in the day when the name “Tanqueray” was on everyone’s lips.

Goodreads Blurb (Sapiens):

100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens.

How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come?

In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating – breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, paleontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come?

Bold, wide-ranging and provocative, Sapiens challenges everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our power … and our future.

That’s a wrap for this week! How is your bookish week looking?
Are you reading anything good? Let me know in the comments below!

First Lines Friday #37

Happy Friday! It’s the first Friday of the year and I’m currently in the middle of my first book of the year as well so for today’s post, I’m sharing a First Lines Friday with you! Can you guess what book it is based on the opening sentences?

First Lines Friday is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?  

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

(Click on the book covers for a link to their GoodReads page)

꜀( ˊ̠˂˃ˋ̠ )꜆ F – R – I – Y – A – Y !! ꜀( ˊ̠˂˃ˋ̠ )꜆

This week’s lines…

When a high-powered rifle bullet hits living flesh it makes a distinctive—pow-WHOP—sound that is unmistakable even at tremendous distance. There is rarely an echo or fading reverberation or the tailing rumbling hum that is the sound of a miss. The guttural boom rolls over the terrain but stops sharply in a close-ended way, as if jerked back. A hit is blunt and solid like an airborne grunt. When the sound is heard and identified, it isn’t easily forgotten.

Enjoyed that preview? This week’s book is…

Open Season (Joe Pickett # 1) by C. J. Box

Blurb (Goodreads)

The first novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series featuring Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett–the book that launched one of the biggest, most reliable, and fastest growing franchises in commercial fiction!

Joe Pickett is the new game warden in Twelve Sleep, Wyoming, a town where nearly everyone hunts and the game warden–especially one like Joe who won’t take bribes or look the other way–is far from popular. When he finds a local hunting outfitter dead, splayed out on the woodpile behind his state-owned home, he takes it personally. Even after the discovery of two more bodies, and the resolution of the case by local police, Joe continues to investigate.

As Joe digs deeper into the murders, he soon discovers that the outfitter brought more than death to his backdoor: he brought Joe an endangered species, thought to be extinct, which is now living in his woodpile. But if word of this rare species gets out, it will destroy any chance of InterWest, a multi-national natural gas company, building an oil pipeline through the mountains and forests of Twelve Sleep. The closer Joe comes to the truth behind the outfitter murders, the endangered species, and InterWest, the closer he comes to losing everything he holds dear.

2023 Bookish Resolutions & Goals

Unbelievably enough, it’s 2023! It was like I blink and an entire year is already over. 2022 was just such a weird year and I had a ton of ups with just as many downs, but by the time New Year’s Eve rolled around, the year was ending on a great note and I was actually looking forward to January for the first time.

In 2022, I got myself a dog, I landed a new gig while resigning from my old one, I actually managed to read a ton of books despite the loss of time, I could have stuck to my goal of “read every single day” if I didn’t spend the last few months of the year doubling down on that job search, and I was even able to stick to a “a review a week” schedule for a good few months! That was probably my most surprising accomplishment of the year!

So, with the new year here, there’s nothing like a little 2022 goals wrap up and setting this year’s resolutions as well (because why not, right?)

2022 Resolutions & Goals Review

So did I accomplish and make it through at least some of my 2022 bookish goals? Let’s see:

  • Read 30 Books
  • Finish a Series
  • Catch Up on the Virgil Flowers series
  • Do a Themed Reading Month
  • Read More Indie Books
  • Read Every Day
  • Raise My Ratio on NetGalley

Daily Reading & Goodreads Challenge (30 Books)

I was able to reach 30 books and then went over! I gave up on trying to redo my 100 days-in-a-row posting spree that I had done back in 2021, so instead I threw the do-more mentality into another goal instead. If I couldn’t post every day, maybe I could read every day instead. I stuck to the daily reading goals for almost the entire year until my job search in October threw me off track. I never realized how motivating a long streak really is until you lose the streak and simply go from 100 to 0 overnight. Once I missed a single day, it was game over to my motivation and I was stuck in a months-long reading slump. Or maybe it was just burnout…

Still, though, this daily reading goal did help with reaching my book count goal. The plan had been to read every single day whether it was 30 seconds or 30 minutes, whether it was 1 sentence or 100 pages. It didn’t matter so much as I picked up a book and settled down to try and read. And, what do you know? Once I got over the hump of getting started, I was easily able to do at least 30 pages a night, on busy days, and sometimes 60 to 100 pages during the weekends. Because, who sits down to read only 30 seconds, especially when your eyes accidentally stray to some crazy plot twist three paragraphs down, and now you’re too captivated to stop? By the end of 2023, I was able to call it quits at 46 books. So, that’s at least one goal down! Uni and High School me couldn’t have even imagine surpassing 10 books a year, let alone over four times that!

Finish a Series, Catch Up on Virgil Flowers & Do A Themed Month

Last year, I had two Sandford releases that I had my eyes on for a while but never got around to and not for the lack of time or motivation either. Virgil’s solo adventures are pretty much over at this point (from what I’ve seen so far and yes, I did cry). Ocean Prey is where Virgil and his ex-boss, Davenport, start to work together and Righteous Prey was his latest release (2022). 

My goal, before reading Ocean Prey was to at least be all caught up on Virgil’s side of things (12 books not including Ocean Prey) because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to wait until after catching up on Davenport’s side of the story (30 books not including Ocean Prey). I spent all of February not only catching up to the latest books, but also either fully rereading or skimming old Virgil books (to remember some key character/plot points) while writing some throwback reviews on them. So I guess, in the end, I accomplished 3 of my goals in a single month back in February: To finish a series (Because I haven’t seen any newer Virgil Flowers solo book past Bloody Genius), to catch up on the Virgil Flowers series, and to have a themed month. 

Read More Indie Books & Raising My NetGalley Ratio

With blog tours from TheWriteReads, being a BBNYA panelist, and just generally accepting and trying out new genres, I think I read some pretty unique books last year. Just to name a few, I really enjoyed the short story The House Plant by Jeremy Ray, The Way Out by Laura Stamps, Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree, #Rejected Goddesses by Nina Holmes and Natalie Watson, Song of Kitaba by Mark Everglade and The Journey of Artemis: EXODUS by Lamonte Louis. Then of course, there were all the excerpts as well as the three full reads from being a BBNYA panelist, all of which I really enjoyed. I think, I could count this as another goal reached and checked off the list!

NetGalley wise, while I didn’t read all that many books from the site I did manage to raise my ratio just a bit so that I was above the 80% mark and hey…I’m still there!

2023 Resolutions & Goals Review

And now, for this year’s goals!

Kick-Start back up my Daily Reading Goal

There was one reason and one reason only that had me abandon this goal last year and it was that I’d gotten so busy with life and work that I was either down on time or energy, or both, to have been able to squeeze that tiny 5 minutes of reading into each day. Not to jinx how good or bad my new job will be once I start in a couple of weeks, but I don’t anticipate to be drowning from the workload. I hope this means that, even on my busiest days this year, I won’t be so overwhelmed that I won’t have the time (or energy) to at least pick up my Kindle phone app to read for 5 minutes or even 5 sentences before bed! 

Do a Themed Month

Sure, I accomplished this (if bingeing a single author/series in a month counts) back in 2022, but what I meant with a “themed month” was a Beach-Read-July, a Spooktober, or Merry Holidays December. I even had Spooktober’s TBR all picked out, but it had been right around the time when I had to give up on books (and games!) so that I could get serious with the job search and it was also about the same time I was losing steam after my poor streak kicked the bucket. December certainly didn’t fair any better afterwards! I hope to have a spooky October or at least have a Merry December month this year. Gosh, I missed it when I tried to do a holiday month of TBR back in 2020 too!

Be More Active on Instagram & Post More Reels

I have finally stopped denying that IG’s stupid algorithm has changed. I never did do well on that SM platform when I had it up as a Study IG (from back in college) so having the algorithm flip like that on me, when I was already not used to constantly taking even just photos had me reeling (pun!!). What do you mean I have to start uploading videos??

However, I won’t lie. Taking videos and editing them has been a little more fun and so this year, I plan on trying to upload more reels and be more active on there. I’m not even trying to grow on there. One small goal at a time, how about simply posting more?

(But, as of the time of drafting this post, I’m only 6 off from 500 followers so by all means…feel free to give me a follow 👀)

Post A Review A Week

Like the daily reading goal, for the same exact reason, there was only one reason I stopped doing this, and it was the lack of time and energy. And, like the reading goal, I fully intend to get back into this. It might take a little more time, but I’m hoping I can start with a review every two weeks and slowly move back to my “Reviews Every Thursday” schedule!

Goodreads Challenge

Ok. I know that I want to have no numerical pressure, but it just doesn’t feel right to have a bookish goals post without it. I also love watching my little challenge meter tick upwards, so I set another goal in GR. Of course, this year, I had a random number generator decide my goal for me. Right before going to bed on NYE, I picked a few colors and had the generator throw a number between 25 and 50 at me. Whatever color was closest to Goodread’s new challenge banner (flag? header?) was going to be my goal and this year, I’ll be aiming for 38 books.

Clear Five Books That I’ve Owned Forever and STILL Haven’t Read

Instead of placing a hard ban on buying books, this year, I would like to read the below 5 books that’s been sitting in my bookshelf/Kindle forever (and ever and ever). I want to at least clear these five. Any more than that will be bonus points. I can do that, right?

  • Open Season C.J. Box
  • Duplicity by Newt Gingrich & Pete Earley
  • Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook
  • Airedale by Dylan Byford
  • The Labyrinth of Flame by Courtney Schafer

And that’s my list of bookish goals for 2023!

I think they’re pretty do-able goals! Let me know what your goals are for this year, bookish or not! I better run off to actually pick a current read, least I miss the very first day of my very first goal of the year!

Happy New Year! May this be a prosperous and good one to us all!