Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

ARC REVIEW: Isabella’s Painting by Ellen Butler

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*Spoilers*

*Thanks to Power to the Pen for giving me the chance to read this novel early*

This novel follows Karina Cardinal as she’s living as a lobbyist in D.C. and dating one of the most desired bachelors, Patrick Dunne. The Dunne family is one of the most famous and wealthiest families in D.C. Martin Dunne working for a contracting company and Patrick following in his father’s footsteps.

Karina accidentally discovers a stolen painting in Martin’s study during a family Christmas party. Curiosity gets to Karina as she starts to research the hidden painting and realizes Martin is dealing with a mafia-tied mystery.

Desperate to help those she cares about, she returns the painting to the rightful owners. However, she ends up being hunted for revenge. Will she survive long enough to solve the mystery and help the ones she loves?

I was enjoying this book for the first few chapters. Stolen painting, classic art, mafia ties, how could you get more suspense? Then when Karina goes to Colorado for a family emergency and her boyfriend, Patrick, shows up soon afterward. As soon as they revealed this, I knew where it was going. Patrick ends up proposing, you know the rest.

The book started dragging with the romance drama. I wanted to get back to the mystery! I don’t want this relationship drama in my mystery books! (Stephanie Plum is the only exception to this rule) About 3/4s of the way through the book the mystery picked back up and I was binging this book as much as I could!

Overall, I thought this book was alright. Interesting premise. I’m all for women sleuths or women detectives, but the deep-seeded romance took what could have been an awesome story into a melodrama.

I didn’t particularly like any of the characters. Karina is not very interesting, she felt dull and not very strong. Patrick is a jerk and so is Martin. If you’re looking for deep characters you won’t find them here.

I would recommend this if you want a cheesy romance with some light mystery. It’s alright if you like this kind of thing. It’s just not my cup of tea.

Order it on Amazon

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: The Ballad of Black Bart by Loren D. Estleman

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*No Major Spoilers* 

Between July 1875 and November 1883, a single outlaw robbed the stagecoaches of Wells Fargo in California’s Mother Lode country a record of twenty-eight times. Armed with an unloaded shotgun, walking to and from the scenes of the robberies, often for hundreds of miles, and leaving poems behind, the infamous Black Bart was fiercely hunted.

Between robberies, Black Bart was known as Charles E. Bolton, a distinguished, middle-aged man who enjoyed San Francisco’s entertainments in the company of socialites drawn to his quiet, temperate good nature and upper-class tastes.

Meanwhile, James B. Hume, Wells Fargo’s legendary chief of detectives, made Bart’s apprehension a matter of personal as well as professional interest.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

I am not a fan of westerns, being raised with a father who loves westerns (good and bad) and trying to read Louis L’Amour; didn’t leave a good impression of the genre with my young self. I did start liking Bonanza when I got older, however, Gunsmoke still makes no sense to me.

This book, however, caught my eye. The imposing stagecoach, the gentleman in the bowler hat holding the stagecoach at gunpoint made me pick up this book from my local library. I thought I’d give westerns another try.

The story was great! The development of characters and their motives were relatable. Being in California both during the Gold Rush and after the rush would drive anyone to rob just to keep food in their bellies.

In the afterward, Mr. Estleman stated that he took a few liberties with the story. The poetry was fiction, but I think it made the story better. I could tell this author did his research with his novel.

Now for the negatives, the vocabulary at times was difficult. I tried to look up the words so I could understand, but it got so tedious that I quickly gave up and just took my best guesses at what the words meant.

This is a good book, for anyone who loves westerns will enjoy this novel. It’s a nice quick read, and I enjoyed reading this novel. I would say unless you have an excellent vocabulary, or don’t mind having a dictionary on hand as you read, you can decide whether this book is good for you or not.

Posted in Book Reviews, DC comics, Graphic Novels

REVIEW: Batman, Vol. 4: The War of Jokes and Riddles

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*No Major Spoilers*

This graphic novel follows the Joker, the Riddler, and Batman as a war breaks out between the two villains. The Joker can no longer laugh, and the Riddler wants to defeat the sullen Joker. Both want to defeat Batman. Other Gotham baddies are forced to pick sides and battle it out in the streets of Gotham for their leader’s supremacy.

This is all told from a flashback, as Bruce Wayne tries to explain to Selena Kyle what happened during the War of Jokes and Riddles. How many innocent lives this war took, and if she could forgive him for what he did.

This story also tells the beginning and end of an underrated hero called Kite-Man. As he’s part of the war he thinks about his son throughout. He debates within himself on whether he’s a loser or not. He fought valiantly and came to peace on the battle within himself.

This book was amazing! It was a fully fleshed out story, and the motives of everyone involved had their reasons for fighting in this war. This book had me glued to the pages wondering who was going to win.

The Joker was really scary in this book. It’s one thing to see the Joker laughing hysterically when he does something evil, but it’s a completely different story when he’s not laughing at all.

The Riddler was creepy as well, giving out his riddles. Being mysterious as he always is. I appreciated how they drew Riddler to look like an Irishman. I thought that those features suited the character well.

I sympathized with Batman/Bruce Wayne in this story. He was pushed so far, and the war took so many innocent lives. I can understand how he felt while he was telling Selena the story.

This is getting my Choice Award because this is one of the better comic books I’ve read in awhile. I would recommend this to anyone who loves Batman, Joker, Riddler, and stories that has “Civil War” vibes. This is a must-read for D.C. Comics fans, and for anyone who loves comics to begin with.

Posted in Book Reviews, DC comics, Graphic Novels

REVIEW: Gotham Central, Book 2: Jokers and Madmen

Joker week

*No Major Spoilers*

In this action-packed graphic novel follows the Gotham City Police Department. Major Crimes Unit has a more difficult job than the Batman. Having to deal not only with the corruption that makes Gotham what it is, but having to deal with the psychos in costume.

Things have gotten complicated for the police since the court started throwing out cases because the police had been somewhat reliant on calling Batman to help them. However things just gets worse when a sniper starts running loose in Gotham, no one in Gotham is safe!

A cold case resurfaces as new matters bring up old memories for one retired cop with a drinking problem. How does a hostage situation turn into a cold case where the boy’s locker room gets blown to bits? Read this book to find out!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I enjoyed this book! It has plenty of the famous Batman villains in this collection of stories! I especially loved the story involving the Joker! Just wow! There’s a method to his madness, and only Batman knows how the Joker works!

I was expecting a lot of Batman showing up and saving the day, but this is a story where the G.C.P.D. does all the saving without having to depend on Batman to do their job. I loved how they showed just how much effort the G.C.P.D. puts into their jobs. Made me feel like I was watching Law & Order (pick whichever one you want, they’re all great in their own way)!

I did at times, lose track of the characters. Most of the male cops were your stereotypical male cops. The female cops however were great! You can see how tough it is to be a female in a males’ role.

One thing I didn’t like about it was the artwork (I know I’m being picky here). I’m not a fan of watercolor or anything that looks like watercolor. Just a nitpick from me.

I loved this graphic novel. I give it my 10/10, would recommend for anyone who loves comics, and crime! Also the Joker, this week is Joker themed after all.