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Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley

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Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley Stiletto by Daniel O'Malley
Narrator: Moira Quirk
Series: The Checquy Files #2
Published by Hachette Book Group on June 14, 2016
Source: Library
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Length: 23 hrs 12 mins
Format: Audiobook
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In this spirited sequel, The Rook returns to clinch an alliance between deadly rivals and avert epic—and slimy—supernatural war.

When secret organizations are forced to merge after years of enmity and bloodshed, only one person has the fearsome powers—and the bureaucratic finesse—to get the job done. Facing her greatest challenge yet, Rook Myfanwy Thomas must broker a deal between two bitter adversaries: The Checquy — the centuries-old covert British organization that protects society from supernatural threats, and… The Grafters — a centuries-old supernatural threat.

But as bizarre attacks sweep London, threatening to sabotage negotiations, old hatreds flare. Surrounded by spies, only the Rook and two women, who absolutely hate each other, can seek out the culprits before they trigger a devastating otherworldly war.

STILETTO is a novel of preternatural diplomacy, paranoia, and snide remarks.

I loved The Rook last year, the first in this series and was looking forward to Stiletto, even though based on reviews I read I had my high expectations tampered a bit. Happily, because while Stiletto was enjoyable, it didn’t blow me away like The Rook.

Rook Myfanwy Thomas is in the midst of negotiating a way for the Grafters to join the Checquy. The two groups have been enemies for hundreds of years, each believing the other to be monsters, but having the two join forces is rather brilliant. The two groups definitely have different strengths and ways of looking at the world that could complement each other.

But Myfanwy is not the main character here. Yes, she gets some screen time, but the stars are Pawn Felicity Clements and Grafter Odette Leliefeld. Odette is a sad young woman, mourning the loss of her closest friends and unsure of her part in the Grafter Delegation. Felicity is assigned to be her bodyguard, since many in the Checquy truly hate the Grafters and especially Odette. Of course, watching Odette 24/7 also gives Felicity the opportunity to spy on her, see where her loyalties lie. I like the two women, although neither has as big a personality as Myfanwy. They do fit well into the overall Checquy/Grafter merge. Each is very good at what she does and is leery of the other woman’s capabilities. They do grow to like, and trust, each other. I liked that we got to hear each woman’s viewpoints and thoughts, both about their own organization and the other.

I listened to the audio and the narrator did a wonderful job with a large cast of characters. She made each person unique and while I can’t vouch for the accuracy of her accents, they felt fine to me. It is a long book and there are some parts that felt maybe unnecessary or too drawn out, and parts were rather slow. Each piece had its purpose, but I’m not sure that it couldn’t have been done a little better, the pacing could have been more consistent.

Stiletto is full of funny bits of dialogue, monster killing, extraordinary powers, and amazing science. It had me laughing out loud at times. I love its tongue-in-cheek style. It’s also about institutionalized hatred and how to (maybe) overcome it. It’s about the responsible use of power. It’s about building relationships and learning to appreciate differences. And it’s about defeating bad guys who can look like anyone and know most of your secrets.

About Daniel O’Malley

Dan O’Malley graduated from Michigan State University and earned a Master’s Degree in medieval history from Ohio State University. He then returned to his childhood home, Australia. He now works for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, writing press releases for government investigations of plane crashes and runaway boats.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon

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Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon
Series: Gethsemane Brown Mysteries #1
Published by Henery Press on September 13, 2016
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal
Pages: 280
Format: eARC
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With few other options, African-American classical musician Gethsemane Brown accepts a less-than-ideal position turning a group of rowdy schoolboys into an award-winning orchestra. Stranded without luggage or money in the Irish countryside, she figures any job is better than none. The perk? Housesitting a lovely cliffside cottage. The catch? The ghost of the cottage's murdered owner haunts the place. Falsely accused of killing his wife (and himself), he begs Gethsemane to clear his name so he can rest in peace. Gethsemane's reluctant investigation provokes a dormant killer and she soon finds herself in grave danger. As Gethsemane races to prevent a deadly encore, will she uncover the truth or star in her own farewell performance?

Murder in G Major drew me in because of the mix of mystery and music, set in Ireland to boot. I did have a problem with the whole set up of how Gethsemane at the school and cottage; it just seemed a bit of a stretch, but it’s certainly not the first cozy mystery to force its heroine into the spot she needs to be.

It’s not surprising really that the Irish town is full of an odd mix of people, some good, some bad, some amusing, some crazy. Actually, even the cottage being haunted fits. I did love the interactions between Gethsemane  and her ghost, the composer Eamon McCarthy. She’s feisty, he’s a hot head, together they’re perfect. I liked the school kids too, even if they weren’t really given much screen time.

The mystery itself was good, just the right amount of clues and suspects. and there was one bit of the ending that I just loved. This is the first in the series and I’m looking forward to seeing how Gethsemane’s friendships with the townsfolk evolve.

All in all, it was an okay book, a typical cozy with a ghost thrown in. If you like similar books, cozy mysteries with a touch of paranormal, pick it up. If not, don’t bother, it’s not good enough to make you step out of your comfort zone.

About Alexia Gordon

A writer since childhood, Alexia Gordon won her first writing prize in the 6th grade. She continued writing through college but put literary endeavors on hold to finish medical school and Family Medicine residency training. She established her medical career then returned to writing fiction. Raised in the southeast, schooled in the northeast, she relocated to the west where she completed Southern Methodist University’s Writer’s Path program. She admits Texas brisket is as good as Carolina pulled pork. She practices medicine in El Paso. She enjoys the symphony, art collecting, embroidery, and ghost stories.

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

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The Rook by Daniel O’Malley The Rook by Daniel O'Malley
Narrator: Susan Duerden
Series: The Checquy Files #1
Published by Hachette Audio on March 1, 2012
Source: Purchased
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Mystery
Length: 17 hrs, 51 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Myfanwy Thomas awakes in a London park surrounded by dead bodies. With her memory gone, her only hope of survival is to trust the instructions left in her pocket by her former self. She quickly learns that she is a Rook, a high-level operative in a secret agency that protects the world from supernatural threats. But there is a mole inside the organization - and this person wants her dead.

As Myfanwy battles to save herself, she encounters a person with four bodies, a woman who can enter her dreams, children transformed into deadly fighters, and an unimaginably vast conspiracy.

Loved this book! Granted it’s not perfect – there’s a fair amount of info-dumping made palatable by the whole amnesia bit. It’s kind of a paranormal, sci-fi-ish spy thriller, with a dollop or two of humor.

As the blurb says, Myfanwy wakes up with no memory  surrounded by dead bodies. She is guided back into her life as one of the heads of a secret paranormal agency by letters she wrote to herself, having known she would lose her memory thanks to the warnings of a variety of psychics, including a duck. So she fakes her way, but also discovers she has an AWESOME power that the old her barely made use of. She’s a character to root for, the underdog due to her amnesia and that people underestimate her and never truly respected the old her. Oh and she’s facing an enemy who has been waiting for revenge on England for centuries and has all kinds of yucky, nasty and dangerous things/people/fungi at their command.

The agency is full of inter-office politics, jockeying for position/power, uncomfortable Christmas parties.Oh, and someone she works with probably wants her dead, or at least out of the way, but the old Myfanwy never figured out who, so the new Myfanwy can’t be sure who to trust. Some of the supporting characters could use a little more development,but with such a large cast, that’s probably to be expected.

The plot moved quickly, except for when the letters bogged it down. I personally enjoyed the format, but I could see where it might annoy some people. I listened to the audio and really enjoyed the narrator’s reading. She nailed Myfanwy’s new personality for me, especially the sarcastic and amusing comments.

The mystery of who stole Myfanwy’s memory and why was well-done. I was surprised, but the whodunnit made sense given the clues. I’m looking forward to listening to the second in the series.

About Daniel O’Malley

Dan O’Malley graduated from Michigan State University and earned a Master’s Degree in medieval history from Ohio State University. He then returned to his childhood home, Australia. He now works for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, writing press releases for government investigations of plane crashes and runaway boats.

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