Artifact ~ BRC

I almost didn’t review this month–I’ve had a few re-reads and read a few books that didn’t inspire me to review, but then I downloaded Artifact by Gigi Pandian just before I went on vacation (for $2.99 on ebook!), and there were so many things I liked about it that I decided I needed to post a review.  (Look at me, reviewing an adult book!)

ARTIFACT-cover-1-Henery-Press-June-2013From Amazon:

When historian Jaya Jones receives a mysterious package containing a jewel-encrusted artifact, she discovers the secrets of a lost Indian treasure may be hidden in a Scottish legend. But she’s not the only one on the trail. From San Francisco to the Highlands of Scotland, Jaya must evade a shadowy stalker as she follows hints from the hastily scrawled note to a remote archaeological dig. Helping her decipher the cryptic clues are her magician best friend, a devastatingly handsome art historian with something to hide, and a charming archaeologist running for his life. When a member of the dig’s crew is murdered, Jaya must figure out which of the scholars vying for her affections might be the love of her life—and which one is a killer.

You may think this summary implies the book has a heavy romance bent–it doesn’t.  The romance is mostly covered by a few scattered words like, “intense” and “passionate.”  But it definitely adds a bit of tension and suspense all its own.

By now I assume you’re on the edge of your seat wondering what I liked about this book.  Read on as I tell all…

1.  Jaya Jones.  Seriously, that is a great name for an adventure heroine, and she doesn’t disappoint.  She’s a tiny (under 5′), 30ish South Indian history professor in San Francisco, and she plays the tabla (drums) at an Indian restaurant.  She’s smart and feisty, she eats like she means it, and she’s thoroughly unsentimental.  Basically, she’s a chick who gets things done.

2.  Supporting characters!  From the Russian landlady (Nadia) to the North Indian sitar player/magician/best friend (Sanjay), to the mysteriously attractive graduate student (Lane) who teams up with Jaya to get busy on this mystery, not to mention a slew of minor characters.  They were all pretty fascinating.

3.  The mystery of Lane was *quite* satisfying.  I won’t say any more–no spoilers.18518215

4.  An anything goes mentality: A ruby bracelet falls into her hands -> she teams up with Lane and sets off for the British Museum (where she has connections because of her graduate work).  They stumble over a clue -> they set off for an archaeological dig in the Scottish Highlands.  They’re bouncing around at the drop of a hat, and as a hardcore planner, I enjoyed the freedom.

5.  The historical element.  The author wove in a lot of historical detail quite legitimately, given Jaya’s academic background, and it was pretty much all relevant to her solving the mystery.  Very interesting.

I’m back from vacation and have bought the second book in the series (also for $2.99), and I’m already enjoying the new historical direction.  If I buy the third, I’m going to have to cough up a whopping $4.99, but I think it’ll be worth it.

So.  If you like historical mysteries, unique, spunky heroines, and a dash of romance, I recommend you give the Treasure Hunt Mystery series a try!  For more reviews, click through on the typewriter.  And have a great summer–we’re back in September!

* In other news…the cover for my August 2015 release was revealed today!  Two months to go!!  *

YouTube Preview Image
Click icon for more
book review blogs
@Barrie Summy
Posted in book review club on 06/17/2015 05:00 am | 8 Comments

If You Find This ~ BRC

Here we are again! For this month’s Book Review Club, I have another middle grade novel to recommend, which is kind of weird. I hardly read any middle grade or YA, but lately that’s all I’ve been reviewing. What can I say?  I’ve discovered some good stuff!

May I present (um, review)… If You Find This by Matthew Baker!

If you, like me, are a fan of the 80’s classic The Goonies, then that just adds another layer of awesome to this book, because it is seriously The Goonies of this middle grade generation. I would LOVE to see this book get made into a movie. So. Much. Goodness.



You know I like to start with the covers, and this one has a lot going on. I deliberately attached a HUGE image so you could get the full effect. I love all the details: the house on the hill, the three boys, the background sketching (done by the author), the beam of the flashlight, the silhouettes of houses, and the man standing at the bottom…It all factors into the story!!

Okay, moving on.  From Amazon:

Mixing mystery and adventure in the tradition of Louis Sachar, Avi, and E.L. Konigsburg, If You Find This is the story of unlikely friendships, unexpected bravery and eleven-year-old Nicholas Funes’s quest to prove his grandfather’s treasure is real.

Nicholas is a math and music genius with no friends and a huge problem: His father has lost his job, and they’ll have to sell their house, which holds the only memory Nicholas has of his younger brother. Just in time, Nicholas’s senile grandfather arrives, filled with tales of priceless treasure he has hidden somewhere in town–but where?
With the help of misfit classmates, two grandfathers, a ghosthouse, hidden messages, séances, and an uncanny mind for numbers, Nicholas stages a nursing home breakout, tangles with high schoolers in smugglers’ tunnels, and gets swept up in a duel with the biggest bullies in the neighborhood. Will it be enough to find the treasure and save his house?

Sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it? Well, that doesn’t even do it justice. Here’s a sample page that gives you an idea of how the author has incorporated Nicolas’s musical and mathematical mind.

Happy to the power of jamboree!! Best. Kiss. Ever!

Like The Goonies, this story is about a family poised to lose their house and a treasure hunt that will hopefully help them keep it.  But Nicolas has a bigger reason to want to keep his house than the kids in the movie.  When his baby brother died, they planted a tree in the backyard in remembrance, and that tree has become his brother in his mind.  He “talks” to his brother with his violin, and his brother talks back with the breeze.  If he leaves this house, he’s leaving his brother behind.

There’s kidnapping, secret caves, a decades-old shady past, and plenty of mystery and adventure, but there are also bigger themes: old age and death, bullying, loneliness, acceptance.  This book has a TON going on, but really and truly, it’s about loyalty, friendship, and the courage to do the right thing.  I loved it and cannot recommend it highly enough.  I can’t wait for more books by Matthew Baker.

Click icon for more
book review blogs
@Barrie Summy
Posted in book review club, Uncategorized on 05/06/2015 02:31 am | 8 Comments

The Falconer ~ BRC

Happy Spring! In Texas we’ve already had 80 degree weather–strawberry picking weather.  And I’ve already gone strawberry picking.  In fact, it’s probably around time for me to go again…  But I digress.  Let’s get to it.  On Tuesday there was a tweet in my feed about THE FALCONER by Elizabeth May being on sale for $1.99 (ebook).  I loved the cover and was intrigued by the storyline, so I bought it.  No regrets.  Well, maybe one little one.  But I’ll get to that.  As of the writing of this review, it is still on sale, so go grab it up!  Read on, and I’ll tell you why you should.

From Amazon:
Edinburgh, 1844. Beautiful Aileana Kameron only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. In fact, she’s spent the year since her mother died developing her ability to sense the presence of Sithichean, a faery race bent on slaughtering humans. She has a secret mission: to destroy the faery who murdered her mother. But when she learns she’s a Falconer, the last in a line of female warriors and the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity, her quest for revenge gets a whole lot more complicated. The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller blends romance and action with steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read.

FalconercoverfinalOne year ago, Aileana was dreaming about balls, and dresses, and the man she might marry.  Then she saw her mother murdered by a faery.  Since then, she’s been training to fight and kill faeries who willfully murder every night in Edinburgh–training with a faery who has vowed never again to kill humans.  In her spare time, she invents new weapons to arm herself in the fight.  They incorporate arrows, fire, explosives…whatever it takes, and the inventions are seriously half the fun of this book.  Aileana is a fascinating character: driven, broken, self-possessed, cunning, guilt-ridden…and when we meet her, she’s already thoroughly entrenched in this unbelievable life.  There’s also a charming, funny little pixie living in her dressing room.

After all this is established, and it’s clear she’s settled into her crazy life, the hits start coming and don’t let up.  She discovers she’s a Falconer–the last of her kind–ideally suited to fight against the faeries and surprise! that the seal that has locked the faery population beneath Edinburgh is about to break and she’s the only one who can fix it.  Then there’s the pesky little problem of her father requiring her to marry.  And the fact that she’s falling in love with the faery who’s trained her…  Not to mention a whole bunch of other things that I won’t mention here, because they’re kind of spoilery.  Believe me, it’s intense.

I loved Aileana, but there were times I thought her language didn’t totally gel with my expectations for a young lady living in 1844 Edinburgh.  Still, that was a minor flaw.  The book did require a little suspension of belief–it read like an action/adventure movie might play out–but honestly, I didn’t care.  And then there was that ending.  Let’s just say that it was good, but it wasn’t nearly enough.  It’s a serious cliffhanger, and I don’t even know when the next book is coming out!!

So.  While I recommend this book–highly–I’d maybe suggest waiting to read it until number 2 is visible on the horizon.  I think it might be available in the UK, but I’m not sure when the US release date might be.  I’ll definitely be waiting.

Now click through on the typewriter for more reviews!

Click icon for more
book review blogs
@Barrie Summy
Posted in book review club on 03/31/2015 08:39 pm | 15 Comments