book reviews

3 More Great Books I Read

Here are three more great books I am thrilled I didn’t miss reading:

  1. Jess Williams Westerns — Jess Williams is the Robin Hood of the  Old West, always on the side of right and justice with a little help from a magic pistol.
  2. Hopjoy Was Here — the most unique detective mystery I’ve read in a long time
  3. The Sixth Day — next in Coulter’s popular Brit in the FBI series

Jess Williams Westerns

by Robert J. Thomas

My rating: 5+ of 5 stars

Robert Thomas is one of the best storytellers I’ve ever read. His plots are easy to follow with clever twists to keep me interested. His characters are multifaceted and never boring. Characters and plot lines are woven through the long series (seventy books and counting–he writes about one a month), resolving and reappearing with a cleverness I find impossible to believe. I mean, how does he know that a character he introduces in one book will reappear thirty books later as the entire storyline? I couldn’t do that but he never fails.

One unusual point is that Thomas gave away the ending to the long series in Book 1. Specifically, he tells readers how Jess’ life will unfold at its end. He even named Jess’ wife which I can’t remember and have spent many a book wondering if the woman he meets is the one he marries. Really, it’s enough to know he does find happiness, after a horrid beginning to his life.

I have a pile of books on my Kindle I’m eager to read but every time I finish Jess Williams’ latest adventure, I can’t stop myself from starting the next.

If you’re looking for a different sort of review on this series, I wrote one here, when I was only about ten books into the series. Now I’m forty fifty books into it and have a bigger, deeper take on it. Highly recommended for anyone who simply loves a good story.

Hopjoy Was Here (A Flaxborough Mystery)Hopjoy Was Here

by Colin Watson
4 of 5 stars

While Hopjoy Was Here (Farrago 2018),  third in the Flaxborough Mystery trilogy, is a detective crime mystery, that doesn’t begin to describe this quirky, humorous, beguiling novel. Chief Inspector Purbright and Sergeant Love are called in when Brian Hopjoy and his roommate disappear from their rented lodgings at 14 Beatrice Avenue. While none of the neighbors even hint at foul play, there are secrets only known to a few in law enforcement that make this much more complicated than it appears. For starters, Hopjoy is an undercover operative.

Yes, this sounds mundane but it’s not the plot is it that really makes this book a jewel. Here are a few of the lines:

“Purbright, who had been examining his finger-ends while marveling at the length and vehemence of Chubb’s speech, looked up blandly at Ross. It was Pumphrey, though, who spoke first.”

“Staring out at him from behind the windows of the twenty-three cafés and snack bars were the perplexed, hostile eyes of holiday-makers awaiting the fish and chips, pies and chips, ham and chips, egg and chips, sausage and chips –in fact, every permutation of succulence except chips and chips –that were being borne to their plastic-topped tables by girls with corded necks and dress seams strained to the limit as they ferried their great trays.”
“It had been erected only five years previously by a Flaxborough jobbing builder whose coincidental relationship with the chairman of the housing committee had put him in the way of contracts for five estates of bay-windowed rabbit hutches and made the chairman the brother-in-law of a millionaire.”

Do you see what I mean? Long sentences with tons of detail that threaten to derail your concentration but don’t. Instead, you come away feeling like there is so much to say, how could it be encapsulated in fewer words? ‘Unusual’ is too pedestrian a term for this book. ‘Eclectic’ is closer. Whatever the description, ‘delightfully entertaining’ is the result. I confess I almost quit reading several times early in the story because of its unusual approach to unpacking the detective drama:

“The sudden smile invested his large, rather lumpishly cast face with a charm that was the greater for being unexpected, like greenery on a pit heap. ‘I’m”

“…‘they’re a rum lot of buggers in Flax.”
“…fresh slip of toilet tissue curled preparatorily across the neck rest of the shaving chair was as motionless as a marble scroll. The scissors, razors, and hand clippers set in methodic array at the back of the big oval wash-basin seemed as unlikely to be put ever again to use as tools sanguinely sealed into a burial chamber in Luxor.”

But Watson’s storytelling technique is so unique, I became hooked. By the last word, I was ready to read more.

–received for free from NetGalley in return for an honest review

The Sixth Day (A Brit in the FBI, #5)The Sixth Day

by Catherine Coulter
4 of 5 stars

In The Sixth Day (Gallery Books 2018), Book 5 in Coulter’s popular Brit in the FBI series, the stars, Special agents Nicholas Drummond and Michaela Caine are trying to take a much-overdue vacation, this one in England to see Nicholas’ family. Before they even settle in, Nicholas’ father asks him to help with a ransomware problem that has shut down his company computers and the FBI asks him (since he’s already in England) to check out the suspicious death of a German political leader who drops dead in front of 10 Downing Street. With the aid of Drummond’s genius computer geek, the ransomware is quickly solved solve but not so the death. In fact, Drummond and Caine tie it to several other suspicious deaths that were previously considered natural causes and are now looking more like murder. The weapon of choice: drones.

In a time when drones are all over the place with little control and lots of variety, this addresses the terrifying fear of how easily they can be weaponized. My one complaint is that too often, the author goes a sentence too far in explaining his points. I get it, move on, and he’s still talking. It makes me want to skip ahead. Not good for a murder mystery. But, I’ve read every book in this series, enjoyed them all, so there’s no chance I won’t keep reading because of a pesky complaint about too many words.

–received for free from NetGalley in return for an honest review

View all my reviews

Jacqu, Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the upcoming Born in a Treacherous Time. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.


32 thoughts on “3 More Great Books I Read

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  3. Jacqui, thank you for sharing these latest reads!! I always enjoy reading your honest and professional reviews, giving us the high points, what could be a improved as well as sharing a flavour of the book. I went to an interesting book talk given by two crime writers this week – came away with more signed books to add to my pile on the floor. Roll on free days!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve had that experience myself. It’s one reason why I lean more toward ebooks. I can search a character I’ve forgotten about and see what the h**** happened to him in the past!


  4. Only you would have read all 70 books by one author and still be looking for something new to read. I am so envious of your ability to read so quickly.

    Hopjoy was Here sounds like my kind of book – I like to be captivated by language.
    Thanks for three great reviews. (I’m going to need a computer just for my To Be Read list!)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Jacqui – I’ve noted the Thomas’ books … and will see if some are in the library – all 70 …well that will be a stretch! Cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I always enjoy your reviews. I don’t always agree with them, because life would be boring if we always agreed with each other, but they are well thought-through and introduce me to different styles of description which is informing by itself. Among other things I now teach Creative Writing to adults at a local college so this kind of thing is perfect for me !

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do tend toward respecting the work required to write a book over loving the story. As you said, I don’t need to agree with a book’s fullness to respect it.

      Do share some posts about the creative writing class. Mine, at my local community college, is a wonderful memory for me, in no small part due to the teacher.


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