Blackbirds, Sugar, and Death

I’ve been slacking on my reading. I know, I know. Shame on me, right? In any case, here are the last 4 books I managed to finish reading in their entirety.

Beginning with Blackbirds (Miriam Black #1) by Chuck Wendig

Blackbirds (Miriam Black, #1)

I’m not sure what to say about this book.

It seems straight-forward in the synopsis: Miriam Black knows when you will die. With a bit of skin to skin contact, she can see the exact moment of your death. She’s given up trying to change fate, and instead becomes a morbid witness to the end. However, she meets a trucker named Louis Darling, and discovers that he will die in 30 days while calling her name. Shifting between past and present events, Miriam’s story unfolds. Morbid, disturbing, and─at times─graphic, “Blackbirds” is the kind of book you don’t read before bed. Unless, of course, you enjoy that sort of thing. Warnings for foul language and graphic depictions of sex and violence. 3 stars.

I saw this book, Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile on one of those “anticipated” book lists. Woman of color writing about people of color and it didn’t involve the “gritty streets”? In.
 Queen Sugar
Charley Bordelon inherits a surprise sugar cane farm from her late father. She packs up her 11 year old daughter, and leaves California for Louisiana, where she is welcomed by her grandmother, Ms. Honey. Upon arriving, however, everything immediately goes wrong. Her farm is in shambles, her manager has quit, she lacks the funds to get everything she needs, her daughter is less than pleased, and to top it all off, her estranged older half-brother, Ralph Angel, arrives, looking for what he feels he is owed. Against the odds, Charley manages to get her farm up and running, learning some hard lessons about work, faith, and family along the way. Fleshing out the characters completely would make for a much longer book, but at just over 350 pages, this books certainly feels long enough. Ralph Angel is never truly a villain, but it’s difficult to pity him. Ms. Honey is easily written off as a hard woman, but only when it comes to her girls (daughter and granddaughter). Her great-daughter, Micah, she treats as a treasure, and her grandson, Ralph Angel, she coddles and treats as a misunderstood child. 3.5 stars for ease of reading, word flow, and attention-holding.
 I have a habit of downloading free ebooks on Nook and Kindle. I go on binges, selecting 5-10 books at a time, and promptly forget about them. I decided to do a little cleaning up of my virtual books shelves. I found this one, A Death Displaced (Lansin Island #1) by Andrew Butcher.
 A Death Displaced (Lansin Island, #1)

Nicolas Crystan lives a somewhat ordinary life. He works. He eats. He sleeps. He survives. One day, he has a dream about a car accident. Soon after, he recognizes the signs unfolding in real life, and rushes to prevent the death of the red-haired woman he saw in his premonition. He manages to save her physical body, but not her soul.

Juliet Maystone runs a cafe. After having her life saved by one Nicolas Crystan, she begins to see spirits. Overwhelmed, she joins forces with Nick at his mother’s spirit’s urging to solve a mystery.

Quick read, requires suspension of belief in several parts, and Juliet becomes a somewhat unlikable character by the end. Takes place in the United Kingdom (Ireland? England? I honestly can’t recall if it was ever said, but London tends to be mentioned in casual conversation). 3 stars.

 Most recently, as in, finished about an hour ago, I read Dying For a Living (Jesse Sullivan #1) by Kory R. Shrum.
Dying for a Living
Jesse Sullivan dies for a living. In an alternate, near-future world, science has discovered that there is a small percentage of the population that, once they die, don’t stay dead. They have Necronitic Regenerative Disorder. The word zombie, mind you, is a slur and not to be used in polite company. Many of them are employed as death-replacement agents. As in, some rich sod visits an A.M.P. (Analyst of Necro-Magnetic Phenomenon, don’t ever call them psychics) after hearing from their doctor that they’re going to die. An A.M.P. gives them a date, and they hire a replacement agent to die for them so they can get on with their lives. Jesse, however, runs into a problem on what appears to be a routine replacement: the client is trying to kill her, permanently. Suddenly, Jesse’s simple life and death becomes a lot more complicated, including the fact that she’s half in love with her best friend/assistant, Ally, while sleeping with her benefits only sort of friend, Lane. Hunted by police, the Church, and her very employers, Jesse must find out who is killing the unkillable, and what makes her so special. “Dying For a Living” was quite enjoyable, if a bit cliched in parts. Lots of characters to keep track of, some with their own convoluted back stories. A good copy editor/proofreader be useful as this edition (Smashwords via Nook) has several formatting/punctuation mistakes. 3.5 stars, and will possibly pick up the sequel when it’s available.
 That’s all for this time, folks!

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