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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Revenger by Alastair Reynolds

RevengerRevenger by Alastair Reynolds

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Jacket Blurb: A superb science fiction adventure set in the rubble of a ruined universe, this is a deep space heist story of kidnap, betrayal, alien artifacts and revenge.

The galaxy has seen great empires rise and fall. Planets have shattered and been remade. Amongst the ruins of alien civilizations, building our own from the rubble, humanity still thrives.

And there are vast fortunes to be made, if you know where to find them.

Captain Rackamore and his crew do. It's their business to find the tiny, enigmatic worlds which have been hidden away, booby-trapped, surrounded by layers of protection--and to crack them open for the ancient relics and barely-remembered technologies inside. But while they ply their risky trade with integrity, not everyone is so scrupulous.

Adrana and Fura Ness are the newest members of Rackamore's crew, signed on to save their family from bankruptcy. Only Rackamore has enemies, and there might be more waiting for them in space than adventure and fortune: the fabled and feared Bosa Sennen in particular.

Revenger is a science fiction adventure story set in the rubble of our solar system in the dark, distant future--a tale of space pirates, buried treasure, and phantom weapons, of unspeakable hazards and single-minded heroism and of vengeance...


Read for June's book group.

This started out engaging and interesting. A steampunk space opera, set in a far future universe, where Occupations have come and gone as civilizations rose and fell, and now Miners seek out "baubles", wait for them to open, and basically plunder what ever was left by those earlier occupations.

Two sisters embark on an adventure with the intent of signing on with a mining ship to help their father who is in financial ruin. They show aptitude as "Bone Reader's", the ability to listen to the ancient skulls on the ship and send and receive messages.

However, their father takes exception to their stealthy departure and demands their return. Before Captain Rackamore can bring them back, the ship is beset by the dread Bosa. Bosa slaughters half the crew and takes one sister to be her new Bone Reader. Fura, the second sister, hides, is eventually saved, and returned to the father.

Fura escapes a nefarious Doctor and her Father's attempt to sequester her. Joins a ship and with the help of Prozor, they plot revenge against Bosa and well...you know how it ends. Really, you do.
This was not my first foray into the pages of Alastair Reynolds. I was expecting a space opera (which I got), but I was not expecting steampunk (surprise!). You will note I said this "This started out engaging and interesting..."  I managed to read about 2/3 of it, then I set it down and wandered away. Night before book group I realized I had a DNF and quickly skimmed the last 50 pages and confirmed what I suspected the ending would be.

This is, when all is read and done, a YA book. I'm not wild about YA and I really wish publishing houses would market their books accordingly. It must makes me annoyed when I am deceived.

  • The plot is predictable. Very, very predictable.
     
  • The main character was...not quite annoying, but not very interesting either. 
  • Some in our book group were notably disgusted with terms like "lungstuff" and demanded to know, why not just call it "air".
  • I DID like the ships. Those were kinda cool with the unfolding sails.
     
  • The baubles that open and close - neat concept.
     
  • Paladin. Best part of the story.
Recommended if you like YA, recommended for a YA.

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Recipe Review from 6/18/2017

"Man plans,  God laughs."  Yiddish Proverb.

Maybe that should be, "Man gets a puppy, Man plans, God laughs even harder..." 

It's mid to end of June.   I bought some squash plants last weekend and we thew them into the garden to see what'll happen.  Rutabaga's got planted.  And if we can get the tiller into a couple of beds, then we'll plant peas, swiss chard, and kale.  A much scaled back plan from what we had intended last December or even March. 

Puppies'll do that...


The Meal Plan from the week of June 18:
Sun (L)  pasty       (S)  out
Mon (yoga) brats
Tues - Salmon nicoise salad with Parsley potatoes
Wed (trap shooting class) leftover brats
Thurs (yoga) leftover salmon salad
Fri - Chickpea salad with leftover salmon



Summer Salmon Nicoise Salad  (Ckng Lght, July 2017)  gluten free
Couple of modifications here - I got a 1.25 lb salmon fillet and grilled it, then used the salmon in several dishes starting with the one below.   I don't have a microwave, so I cooked the potatoes on the stovetop, removing the potatoes then proceeded to cook the eggs, beans and corn in the same water.   I will note, 6 minutes was not long enough to fully hard boil the eggs - they were definitely soft boiled. 

End result, while my modification seem putzy, I was able to do several things at the same time and dinner was on the table in about 40 minutes.  The salmon took the longest, but that was because it was only partially thawed (bought it on the way home from work) and it took a bit longer to grill.  Not a biggie - I could start dishes while waiting.

I would make this again! 

Photo from cookinglight.com
2 large eggs
1 (8-oz.) pkg. haricots verts (French green beans) 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 (12-oz.) salmon fillet, about 1 in. thick
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 head butter lettuce, torn (about 6 cups)
3/4 cup chopped English cucumber
1/2 cup fresh yellow corn kernels
1 1/2 ounces pitted kalamata or Niçoise olives (about 1/4 cup)
4 small radishes, cut into 1/2-in. wedges
  1. Bring a medium saucepan filled with water to a boil. Carefully add eggs to pan; cook 6 minutes. Add green beans; cook 2 minutes. Drain; plunge bean mixture into a bowl of ice water. Let stand 3 minutes; drain. Peel eggs, and cut into quarters.
  2. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Sprinkle fish with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Add fish, skin side down, to pan; cook 7 minutes. Turn, and cook 3 minutes. Remove fish from pan; break into large flakes with a fork.
  3. Combine remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper, vinegar, parsley, and mustard in a bowl. Divide lettuce among 4 plates; top evenly with eggs, beans, cucumber, corn, olives, radishes, and fish. Drizzle with vinaigrette.
Serve with:

Parsley and Dill Potatoes  (Ckng Lght, July 2017)  gluten free
I don't have a microwave, so I modified by pre-cooking in a boiling pot of water, then finishing as directed below.  I did this while prepping everything above, then used the boiling water to blanch the green beans and cook the corn. 

1 tablespoon water
1 pound baby golden potatoes, quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  1. Place 1 tablespoon water and quartered potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Microwave at HIGH 4 minutes or until tender. Place potatoes on a paper towel-lined baking sheet; let potatoes dry for 5 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add potatoes; cook 3 minutes or until browned and crisp. Combine potato mixture, garlic, and remaining ingredients; toss.


Summery Chickpea Salad (Ckng Lght, July 2017) vegetarian, gluten free
Fast, simple, tasty.  Perfect for a warm summer night.  Only modification was I skipped the cucumbers (I'm not a fan) and I subbed some leftover flaked salmon from the recipe above.

Made enough for about two meals

Photo from cookinglight.com
1 1/2 cups halved multicolored cherry tomatoes
1 cup canned unsalted chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I used the whole can)
I cup grilled salmon, flaked; preferably room temp or chilled
1 cup half-moon English cucumber slices
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup slivered red onion
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine tomatoes, chickpeas, cucumber, parsley, onion, olive oil, lemon juice, pepper, and salt. Toss gently to combine.



Monday, June 19, 2017

Recipe Review from 6/11/2017

The Lil Monster continues to amuse, delight and frustrate us, usually all within the span of five minutes.  We're making slow but gradual progress on Obedience Training - he understands "come" and "sit", now to make them a bit more consistent.  Leash training is NOT his favorite and he takes great umbrage to not being allowed to do his own thing.  Tough luck buttercup!  :D

The Chicken Caesar Salad recipe mentioned below in the Meal Plan is from Cooks Illustrated cook book and one I've made before.  It's an awesome recipe if you like Caesar salad, the only downside being the raw egg yolks.  I know there is some way to cook the yolks before using, but I can't recall where I saw the technique. 

The Meal Plan:
Sun (L) leftovers of some kind (S) Chicken Caesar Salad
Mon (yoga)  Leftover Caesar Salad
Tues - weenie wraps and tots again  :D
Wed - Sweet Potato Taco bowl
Thurs (yoga) - leftovers
Fri - leftovers
Sat (L) more leftovers  (S) pizza


Sweet Potato Taco Bowl (My Kitchen Love blog) gluten free, vegetarian option**
This came recommended from two sources, and it was a only a matter of time before it made it to the meal plan.  This...is AWESOME!!

I posted the recipe as "written" from My Kitchen Love, but I had some rather significant modifications.  It's that kind of recipe - you can't go wrong, really:
  • I used 3 tbsp Penzey's Bold Taco Seasoning, divided (2/1) instead of mixing the spices below
  • I skipped the meat and subbed instant brown rice instead
  • Because I skipped the meat, I sauted 1/2 cup onion, tossed 1 tbsp taco seasoning in to bloom the spices, then added the corn and beans to heat through. 
  • Then assembled everything. 
I did think some spinach or other lettuce would have been a nice addition, and added it to the leftovers.

This comes together in about 30-40 minutes, from pulling out the cutting board and ingredients to putting bowls on the table.  Depending on how much clean-up you want to do before sitting down. 

photo from My Kitchen Love blog
2 tbsp chili powder1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 lbs (454 grams) sweet potatoes, peeled and copped into 1-2" cubes (approx.)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lbs (454 grams) extra lean ground beef** (I skipped, subbing rice instead)
1 x 14 oz (330 ml) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn, either from can or 2 ears of corn (shucked and kernels removed from ear)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved OR 2 large tomatoes chopped
1 avocado, sliced


Optional additional garnishes, sour cream, jalapeños, sliced green onion, chopped cilantro leaves, lime slices, crumbles feta, etc.
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. In a small bowl mix together chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt, oregano, garlic power, onion powder, and cayenne pepper (if using).
  3. Toss sweet potatoes pieces with vegetable oil and half the seasoning mixture from the small bowl, about 2 tablespoons. Bake for 15-20 minutes until tender and cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, cook beef over medium-high heat for about 5-7 minutes until cooked through. If necessary, drain any large quantities of fat from skillet, leaving about 1 tablespoon. Add beans and remaining seasoning mixture from the small bowl. Toss to fully coat beans and beef with seasoning. Continue to cook until beans are heated through.
  5. To serve either place all ingredients in separate dishes for family style serving, or make individual bowls before serving table.
  6. Serve with any desired optional garnishes.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Sixth Man by David Baldacci (Sean and Michelle #5)

The Sixth Man (Sean King & Michelle Maxwell, #5)The Sixth Man by David Baldacci

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Jacket Blurb: Edgar Roy--an alleged serial killer held in a secure, fortress-like Federal Supermax facility--is awaiting trial. He faces almost certain conviction. Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are called in by Roy's attorney, Sean's old friend and mentor Ted Bergin, to help work the case. But their investigation is derailed before it begins--en route to their first meeting with Bergin, Sean and Michelle find him murdered.

It is now up to them to ask the questions no one seems to want answered: Is Roy a killer? Who murdered Bergin? With help from some surprising allies, they continue to pursue the case. But the more they dig into Roy's past, the more they encounter obstacles, half-truths, dead-ends, false friends, and escalating threats from every direction. Their persistence puts them on a collision course with the highest levels of the government and the darkest corners of power. In a terrifying confrontation that will push Sean and Michelle to their limits, the duo may be permanently parted.


Read as an audio book.

This was a "panic pick" - I was heading out on a road trip, the book I had put on hold was missing in the system, and I needed something NOW. Assured by the librarian that The Sixth Man could be read as a stand alone, I grabbed it.

And loved every minute! This is an enjoyable, slightly over the top (aren't they all?), political/mystery/thriller that is perfect to just zone out on - pure brain candy.

Later, a quick search on Goodreads said this is book #5 in the series. Now the plot alludes to earlier "things", but I never felt I was missing huge chunks of story line or plot arc.

As with the John Puller series on audio, there is a male and female narrator which works very well and something I quite applaud. And, as with the John Puller series, it was the same narrators - whom I ADORE - but unfortunately, in my head, using the same narrator made the book feel like a John Puller copy in some regards. Several regards, which I'll expound on below.

My tiny complaints:

This felt similar to The Escape by Baldacci (John Puller #3). Rising star/super smart guy is framed for a crime he didn't commit, elaborate high-profile prison escape, uber-secret female government agent, government really wants the prisoner back, murders, cover-ups, search for the truth...some very comparable threads woven throughout.  Perhaps too many

Many of the murders seemed over the top and unnecessary. Trying to "cover-up" the E-program by bumping off person after person when so many people already know about it? That just didn't jive with me.

The climatic conclusion was somewhat predictable given the foreshadowing earlier in the plot. 

Despite my noted quirks, as I said above, this is just fun brain candy. I enjoyed the back and forth between Sean and Michelle, Kelly Paul was an interesting gal, and the double-crossing by everyone kept me engaged by following the who's stabbing who in the back.

I greatly appreciated that Michelle and Sean didn't jump into the sack on-page - there was reference to them sleeping together previously and how it was affecting their current relationship and expectations. That kind of rapport I can get behind. I have little tolerance for the standard cookie-cutter romances found in so many of these thrillers/mysteries.

Overall, fun. Just...fun. I'll be going back to read the first four in the series. Recommended (even as a stand alone!)!



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Monday, June 12, 2017

Recipe Review from 6/6/2017

Kepler had his follow-up vet appt this week - he's now 15.5 lbs!  He was 10.5 at his first appt.  While he's still small, I can see how his legs have gotten longer.  That and he can scoot across the yard after Andy-dog like nobody's business; he can't keep up with Andy, but Kepler gives it a solid try.  Still a mouthy 'Lil Monster, he has to eat, chew, and sample everything.  Fingers and toes are a favorite.  I just keep reminding myself...this will pass.  This WILL pass. This had better pass...

Karl - if you're reading this, I think Kepler likes lemon juice.  He tries to attack the little lemon after he gets a mouthful.  Go figure.

The Meal Plan from week of June 6:
Sun  (S)  weenie wraps and tater tots (sometimes ya just gotta...)
Mon (yoga)  leftover weenie wraps
Tues - Grilled Salmon and roasted tomatoes
Wed - leftover salmon pasta salad
Thurs (yoga) - leftover pasta salad
                                                 Fri - leftover pasta salad
                                                 Sat (L) leftovers   (S) scrounged...

                                                 Lunches - bagel sandwiches

Seared Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes (Ckng Lght, June 2017)  gluten free
A super easy dish that I simplified a bit more by cooking the salmon on the grill and skipping the oven completely.  The Husband pre-heated the grill to 350*, I seasoned the fillet with a bit of salt and pepper, and grilled it for 10 minutes checking once for doneness.  While filet was cooking, I continued with sauteing the onions, tomatoes and basil.

I would make this again.  Total YUM!  Don't skip the balsamic vinegar - it really brings the whole dish together: the sweet tomatoes and onions, the bright basil, the flavorful salmon - with a hit of tart tangy balsamic. 

Cooking tip - cook extra salmon and use the leftovers in a pasta salad for the next couple nights dinners. 
photo from cookinglight.com

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 (6-oz.) salmon fillets, about 1 in. thick
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2/3 cup thinly sliced shallots
3 cups cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup torn basil leaves, divided
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  1. Preheat oven to 500°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large cast-iron skillet over high. Sprinkle fillets evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add fillets to pan; cook 4 minutes on one side or until golden brown. Place fillets, seared side up, on prepared baking sheet; bake at 500°F for 4 minutes or until desired degree of doneness.
  3. Return skillet to medium-high. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan. Add shallots, and sauté 2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, tomatoes, and 1/3 cup basil; cook 2 minutes or until tomatoes begin to break down. Stir in vinegar, and cook 1 minute.
  4. Place 1 fillet on each of 4 plates; top evenly with tomato mixture and remaining basil.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Banning St. Park/Mother's Day

This is a bit of a belated post.  Mother's Day weekend the Husband and I invited the Parents out to our place for lunch (reviewed here), and then we day tripped down to Banning State Park.  Despite living up in the Northland nearly 20 years, and having driven by the park more times than I can count, we had never been. We fixed that oversight Mother's Day weekend.  

Banning St. Park is located right off of I35 at exit #195 near Sandstone, MN.  Despite it's proximity to the highway, once you are in the park you forget how close it is.  

Kettle River


History from the website:
In the late 1890s, the Banning Sandstone Quarry employed 500 workers who chiseled the rock into massive blocks. The strength and pink color of this sandstone made it very popular for building construction. On September 1, 1894, the great Hinckley forest fire swept through the area inflicting heavy financial losses on the company and on the St. Paul and Duluth Railroad line serving it.

Business resumed after the fire and by 1896 a village was platted on the fields above the quarry. The village was named in honor of William L. Banning, president of the St. Paul and Duluth Railroad. The village grew and by the turn of the century it was incorporated with a population of approximately 300. By this time, however, contractors were beginning to use structural steel for building construction. By 1905, all work at the quarry ceased.

Fires continued to be a problem so that by 1912, the town of Banning virtually ceased to exist. Today, all that remains of the site are weathered ruins along the Kettle River. Banning State Park was established in 1963 by the Minnesota state legislature, with 5,246 acres.

In 1971, the park acreage increased to a total of 5,877 acres. In 1986, the park boundary was expanded to include the Log Creek Drive area, for a total of 6,237 acres. A 10-mile stretch of the Kettle River, designated as a state Wild and Scenic River, bisects the park. In 1995, the local community of Sandstone, the DNR and the Pollution Control Agency worked together to remove the Kettle River dam and return the river to its natural state which now showcases the Big Spring Falls and the Sandstone Rapids. The park's water resources include the Kettle River, Wolf Creek, Log Creek, six streams and three springs. The scenic Kettle River includes five spectacular rapids: Blueberry Slide, Mother's Delight, Dragon's Tooth, Little Banning and Hell's Gate. These rapids provide one of the state's most challenging whitewater experiences for canoe and kayak enthusiasts.


We did the self guided Quarry Loop trail, taking advantage of the trail extension along the river.  The weather was a sunny 85*, bugs were minimal on the regular trail and obnoxious closer to the water.  While there were other people out and about, I didn't feel overly crowded.  There is talk of going back later this summer to hike some of the other trails and enjoy a picnic lunch, but I've been warned that the mosquitoes, deer flies and horse flies can get really bad - so we might have to wait until cooler Fall temps prevail.



Natural uncut stone wall
Flowers growing in the rocks


Discard piles


Monday, June 5, 2017

Recipe Review from 5/29/2017

A very hectic week coping with new pup and a three day yoga intensive that had me down in the Cities.  Meals were uber simple - including the one new one below.  Enjoy!

The Meal Plan from week of 5/29
Sun (L) baked spaghetti   (S)  Iowa chops with asparagus
Mon (L) leftovers  (S) Goat cheese stuffed portabellos
Tues - leftover Goat cheese stuffed portabellos
Wed- leftover baked spaghetti
Thurs (yoga training)
Fri (yoga training)
Sat (yoga training)

Goat Cheese Stuffed Portabellos  (Ckng Lght, June 2017)  vegetarian option**
I made this two nights in a row and really liked it.  I would totally make this again!  It's super easy to assemble, add in some quinoa/rice and a veggies and bam! dinner is on the table in 30 minutes or less.

Only one small modification - I skipped the prosciutto.  If you have some on hand, use it.  I wouldn't go out of your way to buy a package though.  I served this with instant brown rice and roasted asparagus.  I baked the asparagus at the same time as the mushrooms at 450*, not the 500* called for.   I made the toppings the first night, but only cooked two 'shrooms, then used the leftovers the next night.   I don't recommend subbing regular bread crumbs for this, stick with Panko.  

Recommended! 

4 large portobello mushroom caps, stemmed and dark gills removed
Cooking spray
3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
3/4 cup whole-wheat panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into 1-in. pieces
  1. Preheat oven to 500°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  2. Coat mushrooms with cooking spray; place, top sides down, on prepared pan. Top with 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bake at 500°F for 4 minutes.
  3. Combine 6 tablespoons panko and oil in a small bowl. Combine remaining 6 tablespoons panko, chives, rind, juice, salt, and goat cheese in a bowl. Spoon 1/4 cup goat cheese mixture into each mushroom; top with panko mixture. Bake at 500°F for 3 minutes. Top with prosciutto and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Trespasser by Paul Dioran (Mike Boditch #2)

Trespasser (Mike Bowditch, #2)Trespasser by Paul Doiron

My rating: 3 of 5 stars





Jacket Blurb: In Paul Doiron’s riveting follow-up to his Edgar Award–nominated novel, The Poacher's Son, Maine game warden Mike Bowditch’s quest to find a missing woman leads him through a forest of lies in search of a killer who may have gotten away with murder once before.

    While on patrol one foggy March evening, Bowditch receives a call for help. A woman has reportedly struck a deer on a lonely coast road. When the game warden arrives on the scene, he finds blood in the road—but both the driver and the deer have vanished. And the state trooper assigned to the accident appears strangely unconcerned.

    The details of the disappearance seem eerily familiar. Seven years earlier, a jury convicted lobsterman Erland Jefferts of the rape and murder of a wealthy college student and sentenced him to life in prison. For all but his most fanatical defenders, justice was served. But when the missing woman is found brutalized in a manner that suggests Jefferts may have been framed, Bowditch receives an ominous warning from state prosecutors to stop asking questions.

    For Bowditch, whose own life was recently shattered by a horrific act of violence, doing nothing is not an option. His clandestine investigation reopens old wounds between Maine locals and rich summer residents and puts both his own life and that of the woman he loves in jeopardy. As he closes in on his quarry, he suddenly discovers how dangerous his opponents are, and how far they will go to prevent him from bringing a killer to justice.


Read as an audio book.

Narrator changed from book one to book two. I'm never thrilled when that happens, but I think the narrator for book two was more character appropriate.

Premise of the book is, Mike is called to the scene of an deer/car collision at the end of his shift. He's tired and cranky from dealing with a local and several ATV trespassers who cut down some of his trees. Mike finds a crunched car on a very deserted stretch of road, a missing deer, and the owner of the vehicle absent. When the state trooper arrives, Mike expresses his concern about the absent woman and is told to mind his own business and go home. Mike does, where his girlfriend Sarah lays into him for being late again. Mike can't shake the feeling that something's amiss, and when his friend Charlie arrives for dinner, the two head out to look into matters further. Mike finds the missing woman - brutally murdered and defaced. From there it's a matter of asking the right questions until everything cracks open.

I enjoyed this second book. I thought Bowdich's insistence in following up on the missing woman a nice character reveal - Mike cares about people. As was his tenacity to keep asking questions in his, albeit limited capacity as a game warden.

However, I did have a few issues with a handful of items:

Sarah (spelling?); the girl should get a clue that Mike does NOT have a 8-4 job, that he's going to be late and his schedule is going to be erratic. I do not like Sarah. I find her whiny, condescending attitude inappropriate for a girlfriend of a young guy who's just starting out in a career of his dreams. Unless that's what the author is going for and she will eventually just go away? I can only hope. Sarah's my biggest detraction in this series so far.

I don't think how Mike handled the ATV trespassers was very professional and I think it would have been prurient to have called in for some help and advise. Granted, it did add some drama! to the whole situation, but, seriously...taking on two individuals on ATV's in the dark solo, in an ice storm, was something I'd expect to see in a cozy mystery. Stupid, just stupid. And if sliding and rolling an ATV into a tree broke it? Yeah...not a very well built ATV.

Why didn't Mike hand over the box of Jefferts "evidence" to the authorities when it was given to him? He was convinced the guy was a bad egg, he repeated said he didn't believe anything they said about him, Mike was admonished not to have contact - so just hand over the box already.

Ultimately, as I noted above, I did enjoy this book. The pacing was perfect, the little twists and turns the plot took kept me engaged, and the ending was nicely written. I'll be looking for book three in the series.



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