Sunday, November 22, 2015

Bookish Thoughts: Novellas by Matthew Dunn, J.A. Jance, & Coreene Callahan

The Spy Trade: A Spycatcher Novella by Matthew Dunn
Witness Impulse, 2014
Crime Fiction; 208 pgs
Source: I received an e-copy of this book for an honest review from the publisher via Edelweiss

First Sentence: Later today, Bob Oakland would wish he'd been killed in a manner that was quick and painless and nothing like how he imagined it would feel to have the blade of a penknife saw through his gullet.

From Goodreads: 
When a mission goes awry in Syria, senior CIA officer Bob Oakland is captured by aspiring members of ISIS, who demand the release of one of their own, Arzam Saud, in U.S. captivity. When their hands are tied by Washington's refusal to negotiate, the CIA turns to MI6 officer Will Cochrane to find out what's really going on. The threats are escalating quickly, and in order to save the CIA officer, Cochrane must uncover why Saud is truly so important . . .
It has been awhile since I last read a spy novel, and this was my first time reading anything by Matthew Dunn. I was looking for something short and fast paced when I picked up The Spy Trade to read. The mention of CIA and MI6 caught my interest immediately. I imagine the characters are more fully developed in the longer novels and over the course of the series, and so there was little time spent on that aspect of the story.  Still, Dunn does a good job of setting up the characters and getting the reader invested in them and their plight. I wanted Bob to come home alive and in one piece. I am glad Will Cochrane is one of the good guys, although I think I would feel intimidated in his company. The story itself was at times intense, and always interesting.  I loved how it all played out. It wasn't quite what I expected. Will I read more in the series? I just might. I would like to see Will Cochrane in action again.

To learn more about Art Taylor and his book, please visit the author's website. You can also find the author on Facebook and Twitter.


Stand Down (A J.P. Beaumont Novella) by J.A. Jance
Witness Impulse, 2015
Crime Fiction; 112 pgs
Source: I received an e-copy of this book for an honest review from the publisher via Edelweiss

First Sentence: As the machine spat out the last drops of coffee that Monday morning, a tiny whiff of hairspray wafted down the hallway from Mel's bathroom and mingled with the aroma of freshly ground beans and the distinctive fragrance of Hoppe's #9 gun-cleaning solvent.

With his wife busy with her new job as Chief of Police of Bellingham in Washington, retired detective J.P. Beaumont is trying to stay busy finding and renovating a new house closer to her work. He feels a bit antsy, not being on the job. He spends quite a bit of time reflecting on his recent past, including the tragic accident that took the life of his well respected boss. Meanwhile, his wife is meeting some resistance from certain people in her field who weren't happy with her getting the job of chief. When Mel suddenly goes missing, Beaumont doesn't hesitate to put his old training into use, not trusting his wife's coworkers to get to the bottom of it before it is too late.

J.P. Beaumont has long been one of my favorite characters, and I am always happy for the chance to visit with him again. I have missed a few books in the series between the last one I read and this one, but I had no problem feeling caught up as I read this novella. Fans of the series will enjoy this one, it is a good transition book for what is to come next in J.P. Beaumont's life. I imagine we haven't seen the last of him. For those who are new to the series, know that there is a lot of history for the character, more than this novella can capture, but I think the reader will get a good idea of the sort of person J.P. Beaumont is. I found this novel to be more reflective than action packed, but I did not mind so much. When the action did kick in, it was at full-throttle and quite suspenseful.

You can learn more about J.A. Jance and her books on the author's website


Fury of a Highland Dragon by Coreene Callahan
The Story Vault, 2015
Romance (Paranormal); 102 pgs
Source: I purchased for my own reading pleasure.

First Sentence: Standing on top of his favorite cliff, Tydrin leaned forward to peer over the edge.

Ivy Macpherson is an ethical hacker now on the FBI's most wanted list for cyber espionage. She is determined to clear her name. She did not count on getting help from an unlikely source. Tydrin is haunted by his past, self-blame and guilt weigh heavily on him. When he comes upon Ivy, he is immediately drawn to her. Ivy gets more than she bargained for in accepting Tydrin's help, for he is Dragonkind, a dragon-shifter. If that is not enough of a shock, how will she react when she finds out the man she is so attracted to is keeping a terrible secret from her about hers and his connected pasts?

I have a soft spot for shape shifters. I am not sure why, exactly. I have been wanting to read one involving a dragon-shifter for a few months now, and decided to take a chance with this novella by Coreene Callahan. I enjoyed this story quite a bit, being pulled in Callahan's world of Dragonkind. While I did not feel lost as a first time reader to this series, I did feel I was missing some key elements that might have made my enjoyment of this book better. I am still not sure what a High Energy (HE) female is exactly and there were some threads picked up and left hanging that I imagine got their start in earlier books and/or will be resolved in a later book. Still, the story of Ivy and Tydrin was an interesting one--and rather steamy--and I liked the resolution. You don't always see endings that wrap up quite like that, and it was refreshing in a way. I am definitely curious to read more in this series.

To learn more about Coreene Callahan and her books, please visit the author's website. You can also find the author on Facebook and Twitter.


© 2015, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

11 comments:

  1. Whilst not a fan of the novella as you know, Fury of a Highland Dragon does appeal. Perhaps because like you I have a soft spot for shape shifters in the way I don't for say vampires.

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    1. Tracy - I would like to go back and read the first book in the series or at least a full length novel by Callahan. I think novellas can offer a decent taste of an author's writing, but they aren't always the most fulfilling.

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  2. A novella sounds perfect this time of year.

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    1. Kathy - Yes, especially with everything so busy! They make nice quick reads.

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  3. I enjoy novellas for the fast payoff, but miss the depth that is possible with a full-length novel. The dragon-shifter series sounds interesting; I'll keep it in mind. The other two are a little out of my usual reading range; I do read romantic suspense, but rarely "regular" suspense and spy novels. Still, the Jance novella sounds good.

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    1. Lark - I think so too. Novellas are great when you are looking for something quick, but I tend to wish there was more--similar to short stories, really. I'd be really curious to try more by Callahan at some point, especially to learn more about the world she's created. You might like J.A. Jance's Sheriff Brady series more than her Beaumont one, which is where Stand Down falls. It's not romantic suspense--definitely more on the mystery side--but not as gritty.

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  4. I haven't read any of these authors' books and they seem like an intriguing read, especially Fury of a Highland Dragon for I don't think I've ever read a dragon-shifter!

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    1. Melody - I just love J.A. Jance. I haven't read one of her full length novels in way too long. :-( Fury of a Highland Dragon was a fun one. I wouldn't mind reading more books about dragon shifters.

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  5. I bet I would like the Jance series but haven't started it. Maybe when I catch up with all the other series that I'm already reading, haha.

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    1. Stacy - I enjoy all of Jance's series. I think you would too. She's written so many books--it's kind of daunting when you think of starting from the beginning.

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