Saturday, October 04, 2014

2014, Part 9

Kalona's Fall by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast- A long time ago, Mother Earth made the gods and goddesses as her children. But all but one of them left the earth out of boredom. The only one left was the Goddess known as Nyx, and she found the earth lovely and beautiful beyond all measure. Because she stayed, Earth gave her gifts: Power over the elements, including spirit, and, because she wanted a lover and companion, Mother Earth asked the Sun and the Moon to create companions for her; Lover, companion, plaything and friend in each. They were Kalona and Erebus, and while Nyx loved Kalona, he felt unequal to his brother. The Earth Goddess commanded a competition between the two, Kalona wanted very badly to win. But can he compete with his seemingly better-favored brother as he inadvertantly helps create the Vampyres and seems to do wrong every time he tries to do something good. But can even the immortal lover and plaything of a Goddess deal with the guilt and the darkness that he has seemingly helped unleash< or will it defeat him forever? I loved this book, which was written rather like a fairytale, but at the same time, helped me understand Kalona's love and frustration. It even ends like a fairytale- but here there are no "happily ever after"s. I felt bad for Kalona after reading this book, and it's so unlike the other books in the series- but not in a bad way. A more mythological way. Definitely recommended, though. A wonderful companion to the "House of Night" series.

Forbidden by Jacquelyn Frank- Docia Waverly is on her way to work when a car nearly runs her down. Jumping onto the guardrail of the bridge she was walking on sees her pushed over the side and onto the rocks below- and she can't even say why it happened. But while she is dead, for lack of a better term, she is approached by a strange woman who asks Docia to mingle her soul with that of the woman so that she can be reborn into the world, Docia finally agrees- because she doesn't want to die so young, and also because she wants to find out who was responsible for doing this to her and why. Shortly after returning to the world (and her brother Jackson, a cop who practically raised her), Docia is attacked again, but saved by two men who take her away to a luxuriously appointed mansion where she is told that the woman who is sharing her body is Hatshepsut, the Queen of the Nightwalkers, and that her love and husband, Menes, will be reincarnated shortly, by the same method she is experiencing, to join her. However, one of the men who rescued her, Ramses, she finds herself attracted to. And he, to her as well, which is troubling to him because Menes, his friend and King, should be her only love. Something about the woman who shares her body, Docia, is attracting him, and despite everything in him that says he should keep his hands off of her, he cannot resist her. But the Nightwalkers, including their Gargoyle allies, are fighting against some of their own- former priests and priestesses from Old Egypt, who wish to control their society and make the rules. Odjit, a female priestess, is ruler of the Rival faction and would like to see Docia and Hatshepsut dead. But when she and her minions abduct Docia and Ramses, Docia must cone to terms with her attraction to Ramses and Vincent, the man he shares his body with. Or is she even Hatshepsut at all? And if she isn't the Queen, who is she really, and what does she have to do with the ongoing war? And if she isn't Hatshepsut, who and what is she to Ramses, and can they discover a way to end the war between the two sides of the Bodywalkers? This was the first in the series to the book, Forever, which I read a short while back. This tells the first story in the tale, how Docia became a bodywalker, and how Jackson ended up getting involved, along with his friend, Leo Alvarez. It was interesting because it pretty much lays out the source of the Bodywalkers, and their society and why they are at war with each other. It also introduces some of the other Twelve races of the Nightwalkers, including the Gargoyles, The Djynn, The Wraiths, The Night Angels and others, two of which we know are also the vampire-esque Nightwalkers and the Shadowdwellers from earlier series of her books. It also mentions a prophecy about the twelve Nightwalker races having to come together to do something, and that sounds intriguing. I liked the characters and the worldbuilding, and I loved the romance and the story. A wonderful read. Highly recommended.

A Wedding Wager by Jane Feather- Lady Serena Grantly was born to the nobility. But when her widowed mother wed a gaming man, her life soon became one of shame and disrepute, with the remains of her mother's fortune fueling her step-father's life. By the time she met Sebastian Sullivan, she seemed not to care for anyone. But she fell in love with Sebastian and shared as much as she could of herself with him. When her father was forced to move on by gaming losses, she threw Sebastian out of her life and followed her foster father-s omething she has always regretted. Now, finally back in England, she is determined to leave her foster father behind and foil his burgeoning romance with an innocent daughter of a wealthy tradesman. But what she didn't count on was Sebastian coming back into her life. Sebastian, for his own part, feels he has gotten over the way that Serena crushed his heart, but once he sees her again, he can't get her out of his mind. Meanwhile, he must find a bride from beyond all bounds of decency and redeem her if he wishes his family to not become destitute- and his two brothers also share in this mission. His older brother has already found a bride, but Sebastian can see no other woman for him but Serena. Does he have a chance to rekindle their love for each other, or will her schemes to undo her stepfather interfere with their own romance? More to the point, where does Serena's heart really lie, and can she overcome her step-father's abuse of her to reclaim the life and love she should never have had to give up? I liked this book. Serena and Sebastian spend so much of their time wearing masks- that only they can see what is really behind the mask and see each other. This gives their romance a tension and also a strength that I loved to read. Serena's history is often sad, but she never feels sad for herself or gives into sorrow or hatred (and she really dislikes her stepfather- but who can blame her? Reading this made me smile a lot, and I always enjoy smiling as I read. Recommended.

Crave the Night by Lara Adrian- Nathan is a ruthless Generation One Breed, raised in a prison by Dragos, a mad Breed male and trained to be a ruthless warrior and assassin. Rescued from slavery by his mother, Corinne, and her own mate, Hunter, he spent the rest of his life trying to be an Order Warrior instead and trying to adapt to being more normal. But he's still struggling with allowing people- even his own mother, to show him love and ternderness, because he was ruthlessly punished for either allowing it or showing it on his own. However, Nathan was recently kissed by a female Breedmate named Jordana Gates, and despite his task to find and bring down Cassian Gray, a seeming Breed who runs a gambling den/fighting pit in the heart of downtown Boston, Jordana keeps showing up as part of the case- Her friend, Carys Chase is in love with one of the Breed fighters in the pit, a male named Rune, and Jordana and Carys are close friends. Jordana is supposed to be marrying a Breed male Lawyer, Elliott Bentley-Squire, but it's a choice being pushed on her by her father, who wants her to be married and mated before her twenty-fifth birthday. The question is, why? But she cannot keep away from Nathan, and to be honest with herself, she doesn't really want to. Something about his danger and wildness bring out a deep, hidden wild side of Jordana's own. But Cassian Gray isn't human or Breed- he's Atlantean, the race that wants to kill all the Breed, and the humans as well, so when Cassian Gray makes a visit to Jordana before he is killed by his fellow Atlanteans, Nathan wants to know why- and Jordana has no answers to give him. But as Nathan sticks close, drawn by his feelings for the cool, but passionate Breedmate, both he and Jordana will have to unpack all their assumptions about each other and who and what they are- because Jordana is more than just an ordinary Breedmate, and the secrets behind who she is may save more than just Nathan and the Breed. Wow, this was some book. I read this one in something of a fever, as it scratched a real itch for me to do with my "Bad Boy" and "Hot, Dangerous lover and lovemaking" wants. Reading this book left me a little breathless and I couldn't put it down for very long. I was craving bad boys and hot loving, and that was exactly what I got and then some. This book scratched all my itches and made me want more of the same. Definitely recommended, and it's nice to see more Breed books now that the Dragos arc is finished.

Love and Let Spy by Shana Galen- Jane Bonde is a female spy working for England, trying to bring down the French Spymaster, Fonce. But as she grows older, she is no longer able to travel viably on her own, and her own uncle has decided that she must be married. He has even picked out her groom- Dominic Griffyn. As for Dominic, he has a past as a bastard to contend with, and is quite content on his own. But his mother and stepfather require him to marry Jane, who he's only heard of as a paragon- a diamond of the first water who is wanted by men everywhere. He only wants to raise horses and live his life, but neither of their families will allow them their wishes. But can Jane still track down Fonce with her fiance and husband following her everywhere, and will Dominic realize that his wife is actually a spy? Worse, will he get caught up in her chase and either give the game away or ensure she is unable to do her job? Is there hope for love and redemption on both sides in this marriage made on paper? I looked at the back of this book and thought it sounded interesting, at the very least, so I picked it up- but alas, it was not to be. Neither character really appealed to me, both were rather too mannered to make me think of kickass woman or manly derring-do and the story as a whole just left me cold. This book was a "Did not finish" for me, as I abandoned it anout 1/4 of the way in. If you like regency-era spying (or slightly earlier) and pastiches of James Bond, only in a female vein. this book might appeal to you. Unfortunately, it didn't hit me where it needed to. Not recommended.

Forsaken by Jacquelyn Frank- Leo Alvarez is only human, but it was his hand that laid low the Vampire Priestess Odjit, and when his friend, Jackson is nearly mortally-injured by the Imp God Apep, Jackson is only saved by the intervention of Faith, a messenger Night Angel, a being with black skin, white hair and chartreuse eyes, and blue-white wings. She stabilizes him, but healing Jackson and restoring his souls to balance is going to take a Marid Djynn, and to find one, Leo and Faith must use a niknak to find Docia's Djynn friend, SngSing, who might know of a Marid Djynn who can do the task. But none of the other bodywalkers can leave, so it's up to Leo and Faith to do the job. Leo, however, hates Nightwalkers of all kinds, having recently been kidnapped by one and held under torture. But he may have to give up his prejudices when he travels with Faith, as his bad feelings hurt her in ways he wouldn't want to inflict on anyone, no matter how damaged he is inside by what he has undergone. And when they find the Djynn, he has a job for them to do, stealing a nikkie- a living niknak. And even then, he demands a price for the healing- a price that Leo himself must pay. But is Leo willing to do that for an old friend, who he doesn't even view as his friend any more, and is Leo able to let go of his bitterness to find love for himself? I liked this book, but there were also a few things I didn't like about it. For one thing, I expected the "Night Angels" to be a little more alien and less human than Faith was written, and her family seemed less Angel-y and more like a normal human middle-class family with wings and a condition that turned them albino-white in the sunshine. I found that a bit disappointing. Yes, I know we, as readers, are supposed to be able to understand these characters, but aside from her features and her powers (flight, the ability to read minds and send souls to rest), the character of Faith was very mundane, especially when you get the reveal towards the last third of the book. And for some reason, that just rankled me- Don't get me wrong, the romance itself was great and the story was extremely enjoyable, but the character of Faith just seemed too ordinary to have the role she was playing, if that makes any sense. I liked how Leo reacted to Faith, but the way they got around his distrust of her was handled with a very convenient cop-out- I would have liked to see him deal with his antipathy and distrust and not have it so easily hand-waved away. Other than that, though, the story is fine, with lots of hot romance and love. I just wish the problems I had with it were handled better. Recommended- your mileage may vary.

Fire Rising by Donna Grant- Sammi Miller owns a pub in the Highlands, but her ex-boyfriend business partner is up to his ears in trouble- and now he's in trouble with the mob. He confesses to Sammi that he's been laundering money for them through the pub, and also that he's been skimming off the top- and now he's been caught at it. He warns Sammi, telling her to run, but before she can, the mob man guns him down in cold blood, and Sammi is forced to go on the run. As she leaves, the pub is blown up behind her, and she's wounded in the shoulder. Haunted by the feeling that someone is watching her, she keeps moving, heading towards Dreagan, a small Scottish village that is home to Dreagan Industries, a producer of Whiskey. Unbeknownst to Sammi, it is also the home of the Dragon Kings, and her sister, Jane, who Sammi wants to take shelter with for a short while, is the mate of a Dragon King named Banan. Also a Dragon King is Tristan, who fell out of the sky one day two years ago, and who is the newest Dragon King to show up. Tristan, though, used to be a Dark Warrior named Duncan Kerr, until he died and lost the Warrior inside him. He was somehow reborn as a Dragon King, but his memories of his life with his twin brother Ian are dim and confused- and he can't even be sure if he really was Duncan. But when Sammi shows up in Dreagan, her sister is determined to help her, and Tristan finds himself attracted to her. But both of them have ISSUES, and Tristan is drawn into a conflict with both Ulrik, the Dragon King of the Silver Dragons, who wants to kill and Dominate mankind, and the Dark Fae, who want Sammi for reasons of their own. As they try to survive and make sure of what and who they really want. Tristan must decide what he must do regarding his possible twin, and Sammi must deal with the fact of what Tristan is, and what being the possible mate of a Dragon King might mean for her. She also has to come to terms with the fact that her sister and Banan's enemies used her to get to her sister and deal with the lies Jane and Tristan told her- but can both of them do that and make the right decisions that will lead to them finding love and keeping those they love safe? I read some of Donna Grant's Warrior books and this new series nicely dovetails into that one with Tristan being Duncan Kerr reborn. Although we don't get *why* he was reborn as a Dragon King, we do get an awful lot of worldbuilding (even though this isn't the first book in this series, but the third. I liked both characters fine, and I liked how Sammi tries to get through life on her own, without relying on anyone- and when she has to rely on someone, she doesn't like it, because I am that way myself. A really great book, a good romance, and an interesting backstory and world. Recommended.

Shadows Before the Sun by Kelly Gay- Charlie Madigan was once human, but now she carries the powers of three other races inside her. Also, her partner Hank, a Siren, has been kidnapped by his people and brought to Elysia, his world, to be punished for the crime of running away from the towers that protect the city- towers which are run by young children who are only supposed to serve for seven years, but who actually never leave. Hank managed to get free, and he knows the truth about what goes on in those towers, and it's little better than slavery for the children who serve there. They are kept so isolated with magic, that by the end of their term of service, they are unable to leave, because they cannot function in the real world. But Charlie is determined to get Hank back, so she goes to Elysia, where she meets Alessandra, a seer who she has had dealings with in the past. Alessandra has seen a vision that means Charlie's mission is something that Alessandra needs to help her with, so Alessandra claims Charlie as her bodyguard and helps her get to see the Circe, the Siren Witches who act as advisors to the King. But as Charlie searches for Hank, he is undergoing the NecroNaMoria, a horrific curse that ties his soul to his body after he has died and keeps bringing him back as he undergoes horrific torture, which is slowly driving him insane, and he cannot even die to escape the torture. But as the forces at home deal with Jinn Crime Boss Grigori Tennin search for Akhneri, a divine being, Charlie must discover a stone tablet for a mage from Earth and also find and free Hank from his fellow Sirens- only the Circe have a secret to hide, and it's not just the secret that Hank knows, and they are willing to kill anyone who stands in their way- up to and including Charlie- and of using Hank to do the deed. Can Charlie get Hank to remember who he is, and does she have any chance of standing up to Hank's people and ths who would do her and her partner wrong? And what does it all have to do with the Siren's "stolen words" from out of the past, and can Charlie kill the Death that just might kill her because of the powers she now holds? Well, this was the last book in the four book series, and I never did read books one and two. Yet, I really enjoyed this book and the whole sroryline- I liked what happened, and I liked how she dealt with everyone around her. She's not a perfect character, but Charlie Madigan is very interesting to read about, and I wanted her to suceed by the end of the book. The evil she fights is truly disgusting, and I like that sometimes evil can be unapologetically evil- but here, we get to see that this evil is bigger than we thought. Enjoyable book, and if I ever see the first two, I'ddefinitely pick them up and read them. Recommended.

The World of Shannara by Terry Brooks and Teresa Patterson- Terry Brooks wrote the Shannara books starting back in the 80's, and since the first story about the Sword of Shannara, the world has steadily grown and expanded. But Terry Brooks never really wrote down the history of his world, it's all come out of his books, from the "Knight of the Word" series starring John Ross, which eventually folded into the Shannara Universe, all the way up to the books in 2008, this volume collects all the stories about Shannara, and the main characters and the items and people mentioned in the stories, into one coherent volume that lays out the maps of the lands, pictures of the characters (who have generally heretofore only appeared on the covers of the books, and the various artifacts and legends of the lands that make up Shannara. If you are interested in the backstory of the Shannara books, , and if you want to know the stories and legends of Shannara and have them collected all in one place, this is the book for you. It's a coffee-table sized book with pictures in both color and black and white, maps and discussions of everything Shannara-related. I's a beautiful book and I liked the depictions of the various characters and the story of how the land has changed and grown since the first book. The only thing is that the prequels, about the Knights of the Word and how that world became the world of Shannara, are limited to a single chapter in the back of the book- and not a very large chapter at that. I have enjoyed all the books, and this volume really struck a chord in me, showing how the world has changed from "our world", to Shannara. And... is it just me or is Parkasia supposed to be the remnants of Florida? (Possibly a shoutout to Xanth, perhaps?) I liked this book, and if you want to see overviews of the books published up to 2008 all collated into one place, or if you just really love Shannara, this is the book you are going to want to have on your shelf. Recommended.

Valentine Wedding by Jane Feather- When Edward Beaumont dies on the continent, he sends both his sister and the home office a message. But since he was in possession of a message showing the plans for the Spring Offensive, enemies of England go in search of the information. Back in England, Ned's sister Emma is upset to hear of her brother's passing, but is even more upset when Lord Alasdair Chase is put in charge of her finances, which her brother left completely to her. With her increased consequence, she is sure to be a hit on the marriage mart. Once, she and Alasdair were in love and engaged to be married, but a betrayal set them apart, and now Emma wants nothing to do with Alasdair, because she keeps forgetting the betrayal and remembering the many years of friendship and love between them. But when she learns that Alasdair only has control of her fortune until she gets married, she vows to have a lover and a husband by Valentine's Day. Alasdair thinks he is all right with her moving on- until actual suitors show up for her hand and he realizes that he has never stopped loving her. And he must stick around her and find the cipher that was actually sent to her by Ned and not the Home Office. But at least one of her suitors is actually an enemy Spy attempting to Romance her to get the Cipher which she presumably has possession of- and when he loses her back to Alistair, the Spy and his men attempt to take out their frustrations on Emma- and only Alistair can stop them. But will he be able to win Emma's heart after how he shattered it the first time around? And can Emma forgive him and open her heart to him again after all these years as they become lovers once more? Or will the betrayal that broke them apart do the same thing again? This book was like catnip to me- former lovers split apart by a misunderstanding, but unable to keep their hands off each other and unable to stay angry with each other. It was nice seeing a broken apart couple that actually forget why they broke up when they get back together- and how Alasdair chooses to take out his competition was both funny and touching. I loved this book, and both characters came off well, even though Alasdair was being sort of a prat about why Emma was angry with him. "Oh, she found out I have a secret baby with my mistress, how dare she be upset and angry about that!" ::Rolls my eyes.:: Still, I loved this book and enjoyed the story. Recommended.

The Crimson Campaign: Part Two of the Powder Mage Trilogy by Brian McClellan- Taniel Two-Shot is a famous Powder Mage. His father, Tamas, overthrew the King of Adro, because he was running the country into the ground financially, and willing to sell out his people for more money to continue spending. However, the country of Kez, who the King was going to sell out to, invaded when it was clear that Adro was not going to capitulate under Tamas. Now, Tamas' command has been cut off from Adro by a counteroffensive from Kez, leaving him stranded behind enemy lines and deep in the mountains of Kez. His only hope is to make his way home, but Kez Cuirassers and Cavalry are hot on his trail, and his army is without supplies. Can Tamas make it home in time to save Ardo? Taniel, now responsible for the death of the God Kresimir, but none of his superiors believe that he actually killed the God. He has also been lost in a drugged stupor as he tries to deal with what he has done. But he is roused by the forces of Rikard, a former councilman who wants to be elected first speaker, and wants Taniel beneath him on the political ladder, since Tamas will not take the reins of power himself. But when Taniel returns to the army, his father is considered dead by the command, and he is merely one more Powder mage- except that Taniel refuses to cede ground to the Kez troops and wins the regard of the troops below him as he stops the High Command from throwing away the lives of the troops, then allowing the Kez to win the land they were trying to defend. Additionally, he discovers that Kresimir isn't actually dead, and is looking for the man who shot him to have revenge- and the only person who might be able to protect him from an enraged God is Ka-Poel, his savage aide. And back in Adopest, Inspector Adamat will do anything to get his family back, including working with a crimelord named Vetas. But when he discovers that Vetas is holding his wife and son, he must find a way to bring the crime lord down and save the woman he loves. But what cost will he end up paying to save her life? And will he and his family ever be the same afterwards? This is an excellent volume to follow up to "Promise of Blood", and I was engaged all the way through the book and the story, even if certain parts were very hard to read. All the main characters caught my sympathy, and even a lot of the secondary characters as well, from Privileged Borbador to Ka-Poel. This is a surprisingly interesting book and series, and builds smoothly out of "Promise of Blood", and I will be very ineterested in reading, "The Autumn Republic" whenever it comes out. Highly recommended and extremely enjoyable.

The House of the Four WInds by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory- The tiny country of Swansgaard is overblessed with daughters- twelve of them, but with the birth of a single brother, the King and Queen must face facts: they are not rich enough to make a dowry for all twelve of their daughters, so their daughters decide that when they turn eighteen, they will leave Swansgaard and make their fortunes elaewhere. The first to leave is Clarice, a young woman who has become an expert swordsman. She wants to set herself up as a fencing master, but realizes that she doesn't have a name or the experience to do so. Instead, she signs on a ship to the new world, hoping to make a name for herself there, but disguised as a man to keep herself safe from rape. Unforunately for her, she signs on with a Captain Sprunt, and soon wishes she hadn't, as he beats and mistreats his crew and eventually makes them rise up against him in a riot of blood. Clarice/Clarence, having befriended Dominick, the navigator, sides with the crew and is the one who kills the captain during the melee. Afterwards, the crew discovers that much of their supplies are false, and they do not have enough to reach Hispaniola like they had planned. However, Sprunt was guiding their ship somewhere, and Dominick, voted the new Captain of the now-pirate ship, finds that the Island is inhabited also by pirates, who do not really trust the crew despite having Sprunt's necklace that is used to be able to even see the island. They want Dominick to sail to get a certain treasure to be allowed to leave the island, which requires taking on a woman named Shamal, who is filled with inimical magic. She wants Dominick for herself- but for what end, and why is she trying to use magic to win him to her side? And what can Clairce do to prevent her plan from succeeding? I saw this book, and even though I don't usually read stuff like this, I trusted Mercedes Lackey's name enough to want to read this book. And I can't say I was disappointed. Clarice starts out thinking she has seen it all and won't be affected by her travels, only to learn that isn't so in the hardest and worst way. I loved thr growth of her character, and how she and Dominick started as friends and slowly grew to be more, even before her secret was revealed. I loved this book a lot, and I am definitely looking forward to reading about the other princesses (although I think twelve is a lot for any series). Highly recommended,

The Mist-Torn Witches by Barb Hendee- Amelie Fawr and her sister Celine are the daughters of a seer, and when their mother dies, they have no way to support theselves, except that Celine pretends to see visions of the future, as their mother had. Amelie, for her part, acts as her sister's protector. Celine's first "Vision" is for a young man whose father wants him to marry a rich heiress, but his heart is already given elsewhere. She advises him to marry the woman he loves. Later on, however, Rhiannon. the bride he rejected comes to see Amelie, but she has already been contacted by Rhiannon's supposed fiance, and bribed to make her accept the marriage. Celine has a vision of her new husband accusing Rhiannon of infidelity and having her killed, and tells Rhiannon so. This leads to men attacking their shop and burning it down, they are only saved by the timely intervention of Jaromir, the Captain of the Guard of Sub-Prince Anton, who is the brother of the man Rhiannon would have had to marry and the man who first sought out Amelie and Celine all those years ago. Now, he has a new mission for the girls- discover who is killing young women of his court, and stop them. These are not the usual sorts of killings- the bodies are withered and shrunken- and there is no sign of who is doing the killings. But to catch the killer, each sister will have to reach within herself to grasp the magic that is their legacy, and adjust to a life of balls, fancy dresses and nobles willing to kill for what they want. But the death of their mother has bereft them of information they need to survive. Can they open up to their abilities, and discover the twisted hand behind the slayings, and can they make a new life for themselves, a life they so desperately want? This is an offshoot from Barb and J.C. Hendee's The Noble Dead series. The sisters appear in one of those books, and the two series are set on the same world. Apparently, there are two kinds of witches: Mist-Torn witches, who have their magic from the time they are young, and Cauldron Witches, who must work at magic and throw in a bit here and a bit there into a cauldron. But the two girls, because their mother died early, know nothing about magic or their own family. There is already another book in this series, and I cannot wait to read it. And to be honest, I liked this series a bit more than I liked the Noble Dead series at the outset. The series was easy to read, and a fast read as well. I enjoyed the book and I can't wait to read the next one in the series, which is always a good sign in my book. Recommended.

Wild Wolf by Jennifer Ashley- Misty is the owner of a flower shop, one she has struggled to make work and build her clientele. But her brother is an ex-con, and when men he knew in the pen show up at the Flower Shop looking for him, the only person Misty can think of calling for help is Graham, her sometimes boyfriend who happens to be a wolf Shifter. He, along with some friends of his from Shiftertown, succeed in driving off the cons, but both Graham and Misty are wounded and Misty finds herself offered water by a drifter who turns out to be Fae which nearly enslaves them both, making them want more faery water. Misty consults a book she owns for how to remove their compulsion to drink the water, but while the cure helps her, it doesn't work on Graham, and he, who has been hungering for her, only finds solace when he is "tasting" Misty. And she returns the favor. This leads Graham into even more trouble, as the other shifters of Shiftertown can't find out that Graham is partially enslaved by the Fae, and his relationship with Misty is looked down upon by the other shifters, as Misty is only human, and they want a lupine shifter for Graham's wife. But when the Fae turn up claiming to have made the Shifters and want them back as their soldiers, it's up to Graham and Misty to track down the Fae responsible and free Graham when he is kidnapped to tbe first Shifter to act as a stud to breed a new army of Shifters, it's up to Misty to save him, and when the Fae use the human authorities to "Check" the collars the shifters have to wear to control them, can Graham and Misty save the shifters and help them survive to be free? I thought I might enjoy this book, but several factors came together to make this only a "Meh" experience for me. For one thing, the hero is really an asshole. I know that all sorts of weres and shifters are supposed to be "Bad Boys", bur this went beyond that and into "asshole" territory. Graham, although he rescues Misty and generally treats her well, I just couldn't get into him as a hero. Also, I know someone named Graham and every time his name was mentioned, I got a strong sense of, "No, Graham isn't like that..." And even the other Shifter characters didn't really appeal to me, so I ended up finding this book just marginal. So, this might appeal to others, it was not my cup of tea. Neither recommended nor not. Just "meh".

Murder and Mendelssohn by Kerry Greenwood- A Choir conductor has been murdered, and DI Jack Robinson asks for Phryne's help on the case. Hugh Tregennis wasn't well liked, by anyone on the chorus, but it hardly called for poisoning him and stuffing a musical score in his mouth. But the manner of the death is strange, because the poison would have killed him long before the strangulation was effective. And if someone wanted him to suffer, why poison him, as it rendered him insensible? Phryne joins the chorus as a soprano, but she is also distracted by the presence of an old friend, John Wilson, a doctor who is an "invert" (gay), but who also finds Phryne irresistable. John is treveling with Rupert Sheffield, a mathematician and former codebreaker who is in Australia to deliver lectures on the science of detection. But John is in love with Rupert, while Rupert hardly seems to know that love, or even feelings, exist. Additionally, someone is going out of their way to try and kill Rupert, and John may need Phryne's help to catch the culprite. But when yet aother conductor is murdered, Phryne finds herself needing help to catch the true culprit or culprits, and hope she can stop them before yet another conductor is murdered. But can she tie together the threads of murder into a coherent whole and keep her old friend and his inamorata alive- as well as bringing John's love, Rupert, around to seeing him as someone to love who loves him as well? I liked this book, the descriptions and the singing, and the callbacks to Sherlock holmes in "John Wilson" and "Rupert Sheffield" (who is described in such a manner as those fans of a certain actor will be kicking themselves if they don't recognize him. But it was an interesting story, and I liked the reveal on who the actual murderer/murderers were, even that "Rupert Sheffield" learns to admire the mental faculties of women. And at the end, in the afterward, the author points out that deduction is a purely female skill, and Sherlock Holmes gets lauded for it becuase he is male- an actual woman would not get lauded for such a skill. And that gave me something to think about! Highly recommended.

Air Bound by Christine Feehan- Airiana Ridell has lived with the fear of going crazy, like her mother, who spiraled into a funk of alcoholism and drinking, and then was murdered when Airiana was only sixteen. Luckily, Airiana met up with five other women who had the same kind of trauma in their past, and now they run a farm together. But lately, the patterns she sees in the clouds have been getting more insistent and she is insistenet that something bad is going to happen to her and her sisters. So when an unnatural fog rolls in, she is not surprised to be kidnapped by Maxim Pakenskii, a man who shares the same sort of powers over air that she has. Maxim has been hired by Airiana's missing father, Theodotus, to bring Airiana to him and work on a project she came up with as a child- one that could have devastating consequences for the world as a whole. But her father isn't the only man who wants Airiana. a Greek Billionaie also wants her, and has hired Max for the same reason. And Max wants her for himelf, and can't stop wanting her, no matter how much he tries. But as this hardened mercenary succumbs to Airiana's charms, can he leave his old life behind to choose a new one with her- and the four young Italian children they saved from lives as sex slaves? And can Max adopt a new identity that will pass the scrutiny of the government to be able to live a long, full, loving life with Airiana? I have read some of the other "Bound" books by Chritine Feeshan, and this one was only okay, I felt that the heroine trusted Max too fast, and felt it was more Stockholm Syndrome than anything else, since he made a decided effort to be nasty to her. In most cases, I don't like the whole 'fated mate" thing, because it's generally lazy writing, but here, Christine Feehan made it work. I liked the mix of romance and danger, action and, um, "action". So, overall, recommended.

Star Ward Omnibus: Infinities- This book collects three "what if" stories from the original Star Wars Trilogy, exploring what would possibly have happened if, say, Luke's Proton Torpedo malfunctioned in the canyons of the Death Star, letting it survive. Leia is taken prisoner by the Empire, becomes the Emperor's pet and is turned to the Dark Side. Luke, meanwhile, becomes a Jedi under Yoda and must bring down the Empire and the Emperor, still. The Second "What If" is, what if Luke had died of his injuries and the cold before Han got to him on Hoth. This also ends very differently, with Leia taking Luke's place as Yoda's Student, but The Emperor and Darth Vader believe Luke is still alive, since there are still disturbances in the Force. Lastly, the third "What If" story involves What if Leia had blow up Jabba's Palace with the Thermal Detonator before she could rescue Han?  Han spends far longer suspended in Carbonite while Luke and Leia search for him, but the outcome of what happens to the Emperor and Darth Vader is quite unexpected, and I really loved the stories in the book. They were different, but different in a good way, and I found the stories entertaining and fun, as well as sad, considering what happens in each. I can't stress that if you haven't read this particular graphic novel, you should. I highly recommend it, especially if you like alternate history, paths not taken and what if stories. And even if you don't, you'll still probably enjoy it.

Batman/Judge Dredd Collection by John Wagner, Alan Grant, Simon Bisley, Glenn Fabry, Val Semeiks, Cam Kennedy, etc.- This grahic novel collects four stories that mingled the world of Judge Dredd with that of Batman. In the first Story, Judgement in Gotham, Judge Death escapes through dimensions to Gotham. Batman finds the belt and puts it on, ending up in MegaCity One. But he soon comes to blows with Judge Dredd, who doesn't like Vigilantes. Can Judge Anderson bring a solution? And meanwhile, in Gotham, Judge Death teams up with Scarecrow to bring some true terror to Gotham City. But  Real Mean has also come to Gotham and is on his trail. Can a restored Batman and Judge Anderson return the evildoers to MegaCity One? The Second Story, Vendetta in Gotham, involves Judge Dredd appearing in Gotham dpecifically to kick Batman's Butt. Meanwhile, the Ventriloquist and Big Boss are plotting the death of a local politician. Can Batmas survive Dredd and still rescue the politician? And why did Dredd come back now? "The Ultimate Riddle" has Batman, Judge Dredd, the Riddler and a host of other people kidnapped by an alien King from another dimension to fight for his pleasure and kill each other. But is it true, or are their perceptions being warped in some way? Finally, in "Die Laughing", the Joker warps his spirit into MegaCity one, where he encounters the four Dread Judges, who have been encased in a crystalline material to keep them imprisoned, but the Joker and they are intent on locking themselves in with a group known as the Seventh Day Hedonists, who are locking themselves away forever in a pod that will serve as their personal paradise. But when a senior Judge is infected with ths spirit of Judge Mortis, he declares Judge Anderson an outlaw, and she is shot before she can make her way to Gotham City, where she warns Batman of what has happened. Now it is time for Batman to revisit MegaCity one and help Judge Dredd battle and contain the four Dread Judges and return Joker's spirit to his body in Gotham. But can Batman really fight four evil spirits, or will the futuristic weapons of Dredd and his fellow judges end up bringing them down? The volume ends with a Lobo/Judge Dredd Story. Lobo is guarding an entertainer known as Uncle Funkle. But it turns out that Uncle Funkle is dead, and a shapeshifter has taken his place. This shape shifter has a brother who is after a gemstone called the Star of Mars, owned by President Richer Rich, a scion of the Rich family. The shapeshiter's brother wants the rings for the power they will give him. But when Lobo comes hunting the imposter and Judge Dredd the ring, will the universe, and their fores be able to stand against two such formidable men? This was an interesting Grpahic Novel. The art is mainly done by British artists, and I can't really say I found the art all that interesting. In fact, I found it downright ugly in the first three stories, and only "Die Laughing" made me *not cringe* when it came to the art. It was just not to my liking when it came to style. The stories themselves were interesting, even if large portions of the second one was just a long, extended fight scene that seemed to be a little off right up until the rest of it. Though we never get to see Judge Dredd's opinion of Batman after that, I'd wager it did change. Needless to say, I liked "Die Laughing" the best of all the stories, for both art and plotting. The Lobo story at the end has both Lobo and Judge Dredd in it, but they never really interact (and that might have made the story even more interesting, honestly. The art was okay, and the story was somewhat needlessly twisty, but otherwise okay.

The Avengers: The Legacy of Thanos by Roger Stern, John Byrne and John Buscema- The disappearance of Thanos leaves his starship, Sanctuary II, behind. Monica Rambeau, the new Captain Marvel, visits it in space. However, she isn't the only person on the ship. A group of alien mercenaries, led by a woman named Nebula, intend to use the ship as a base to take on the Skrull Empire, so when they take her prisoner, Monica discovers that they have warped to another galaxy, leaving her no way to find her way home. Reluctantly, she agrees to work for them. Meanwhile, back on Earth, The Vision steps down from being the leader of the Avengers because a fault in his brain led him to try to take over Earth throught its computer system. The Wasp is voted back in charge, and the Scarlet Witch leaves with the vision to testify before the Joint Chiefs. She is replaced by The Black Knight, and Hercules receives a new costume from Hephaestus after his old one is destroyed. The rest of the Avengers find themselves reacting to a situation in the Savage Land, as a massive, armored warrior known as Terminus destroys the machinery that keeps the Savage Land warm. Terminus, however, is taken care of by Hercules and the Black Knight. And then FireLord show up in Manhattan, and Spiderman defeats him, but the Avnegers take him back to the mansion to have him pay for the damage he caused- backed up by the strong fist of Hercules. In search of Captain Marvel, who has managed to send a message to earth, the Avengers go in search of her, only to find the Skrulls in the midst of a Civil War, fighting over who should tule them. Since Nebula wants to take over for herself, even though she isn't a Skrull, the Avengers end up clashing with Nebula and her forces. But during the battle, Starfox, who is the brother of Thanos, discovers that Nebula is his Grand-Niece, and when the Beyonder attempts to "Help" the Avengers by Banishing her beyond the bounds of the Galaxy, he is incensed and insists on going in search of her. But first they must help the Skrulls settle their internal disputes, and even the Fantastic Four ends up being drawn into the conflict. This was an interesting book. The Avengers has changed roster many times over the years, and we get to see that quite well here, with characters as varied as Starfox, FireLord and Hercules, not to mention Simon Williams, Wonder Man. These stories take place both on and off Earth, and in some of the strangest places in Marvel Earth, but the story throughline is mostly about Monica Rambeau, Captain Marvel, and her experiences in Skrull Space. And that is quite an adventure. I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone who loved comcis or the Avengers. Recommended.

Star Ward Omnbus: Dark Times Chronicles the adventures of two Jedi after the fall of the Jedi Order. Dass Jennir, a Jedi of low power and no particular skill, comes to the planet of Telerath and discovers that people are being endangered by fighting between two gangs, one of which ships slaves. He is hired by a local bar owner and Madam, Ember Chankell, to take out one of the two gangs, but she is secretly working with the head of the other gang. When Dass Jennir ends up getting the two gangs to go to War with each other, But when the fallout nearly gets him killed and his former allies are left in danger, Jennir goes in to rescue them, and decides to taken Ember back to her family on Vondarc with the help of a group of smugglers he once helped and who have been searching for him. Meanwhile, Darth Vader is hunting down the last survivors of the Jedi, Jennir included. But Dass is being hunted by a Bounty Hunter named Falco Sang, and he stacks Jennir on Vondare. Jennir had rescued a bunch of young Children from a man on Esseles, and then killed him and took the man's droid for his own. But the droid, who Jennir has since rebuilt, was transmitting Jennir's location back to the man's family, who hired Sang to kill him. Jennir rescues Ember from Sang, and leaves him behind on Vondarc, where he is found and questioned by Darth Vader, who takes him prisoner and puts him through harsh training. Meanwhile, there a bunch of orphans traveling with a Whiphid Jedi named Master K'Krukh who land on the planet of Arinnea and become part of the planet's refugee population, but have no intention of staying there. In the camp, they meet another Jedi, Master Zhao, and with him, they make their escape in the middle of the night. However, Arkinnea is hiding a terrible secret, and it's something that neither the Empire nor the Separatists would like; Arkinnea's troops are pretending to resettle the refugees in the north and is instead dumping them from a height to die... all because they don't want to deal with aliens on their planet. But can K'Krukh, Zhao and the others find a safe place for the orphans, all Jedi, to settle? Taking the thread of Dass Jennir and his friends up once more, the story switches back to them. They have found another Jedi, Beyghor Sahdett, who has a plan that may end up taking out Darth Vader. But he and Dass Jennir need another jedi to help them, and go to Kestavel to enlist the help of Master Huldorra. But Sahdett is leading them into a trap for the Emperor, and Vader, who has been having his own worries about what the Emperor is doing and possibly maneuvering him into a trap, must go to Kestavel to take care of him. But who will die on Kestavel, and will any of Dass Jennir's friends, allies and lovers escape? Or will he simply be another Jedi swallowed up by the Empire? This was a long but interesting story with Dass Jennir and his friends. I liked the many twists and turns of the story and how allies and enemies and friends shifted around Ember starts as a seeming ally, but actually an enemy, then becomes an ally, a friend, and a lover in fairly short order when she realizes what a good man Jennir is. I found each of the stories satisfying to read, and very entertaining. Recommended.

The Hot Zone by Jayne Castle - Sedona Snow was and still is a talented gatekeeper, but when she is abducted during an ordinary job and kept in a secret laboratory in the Alien Labyrinth underground, and dosed with some mysterious formula, she never realized that she could develop a new talent- one for controlling fire. But thanks to a Dust Bunny she names Lyle, she is able to escape the underground lab and returns to her Marriage of Convenience Husband, Brock Prescott, who, it turns out, dissolved her marriage a mere two days after she disappeared and immediately shacked up with his personal assistant- all without ever even sending out a searching party for her. Feeling angry and abandoned, she sells everything and moves to Rainshadow Island, a place for outcasts and weirdoes like her. But due to several new discoveries on Rainshadow, a Guild Boss named Cyrus Jones has been assigned there to take over- along with a number of other hunters. Sedona finds herself attracted to Cyrus, and he to her, but she has to be careful about divulging her new, extra talent, as legend has it that multi-talents are dangerously unstable. However, it seems that someone wants Sedona in the worst sort of way, and it's not just some mysterious people out after her- both the families of her parents, who broke Covenant Marriages to be together and have Sedona, her ex, and the Guild all want her for various reasons. But when an ex-Hunter discovers a new location in the catacombs under Rainshadow, Sedona and Cyrus are left behind and trapped in a dangerous Blue Quartz forest being hunted by unknown monsters that make their homes under Rainshadow. But unlike the man who Sedona blames for her kidnapping in the first place, Cyrus Jones means it when he says he doesn't leave any of his people behind. And when Sedona and Cyrus succumb to their feelings in a crystal cave, can Cyrus convince Sedona that what they experienced in the cave was only the result of their coming together and not the crystal in the cave? And when it appears that the families of her parents want to reconnect with her again, will she be able to forgive them for the way they treated not only her, but her parents as well? And when the Jones family's formula resurfaces on Harmony, can Cyrus put a stop to its dispersal, and save Sedona from a treachery she never expected? I liked this book a lot. Sometimes I think Jayne Castle/Jayne Anne Krentz/Amanda Quick can do no wrong with the writing of her romances- I've enjoyed just about all of them, and with the exception of a few niggling things, all of them have been pretty wonderful. This one is no exception. I liked the hero and the heroine, and how the two of them were attracted to each other from the start, and not in some lazy, "Fated mate" kind of way. (I mean, fated mate stories can be okay, but some of them are just an excuse to bring the hero and heroine together in some way that allows the author to be lazy and not write actual attraction and wooing.) I also like how Sedona fell for Cyrus- after realizing that he is a Guild Boss who takes care of his people, and he stays behind with her to get everyone else on the team out of a dangerous situation. Though I didn't find this book as steamy as I thought I might, I did enjoy it enough to enthusiastically recommend it to everyone. Highly recommended.

The Winter Long by Seanan McGuire- October "Toby" Daye has gone through a lot and done many things for the both the Kingdom of the Mists and her own liege, Sylvester of Shadowed Hills. But recent events, and the ascencion to the throne of Queen Arden Windermere, have changed things, not the least of which is Toby's relation to royalty. Though Queen Arden owes Toby much for restoring her to the throne, the relation to Sylvester and his wife, Luna, has deteriorated to the point, where she no longer really calls them friends. But when Sylvester's twin brother, Simon, shows up on her doorstep after Toby is acclaimed the Hero of the Kingdom of the mists, he admits it was him, along with Oleander De Merelands, who were responsible for kidnapping Luna and her daughter, and turning Toby into a fish for almost 14 years. But the one who hired him to do all those things is still around, and it's someone that Toby knows- and now they are back. Toby must find out who hired Simon, and save the Luidaeg when the employer, one of the firstborn, comes to take revenge on the Luidaeg for answering Toby's Questions. And then,  Toby must find a way to deal with the threat once and for all without killing off Sylvester, Simon, Tybalt, Quentin or any of her other friends and allies. But can she stand against an actual firstborn and win a fight with some who has been stabbing her in the back the whole time? Wow. This latest Toby Daye book was wonderful. It doesn't take very long at all in time in the book, but so much happens. The book's story pulled me along, and I didn't want to put it down at all. I loved so much about this book, as we get to see so many people who Toby has touched in her life, and many of them come to help her when she is in trouble, no matter how much Toby wants to work it out on her own, to prevent others from being hurt. But the story will delight you, even as it makes you worry for and about Toby, and the ending made me smile. Highly recommdned

Valentine by Jane Feather- Sylvester Gilbraith is stunned to find himself the heir to the Earl of Stonebridge. Though he's part of the family by blood, his branch of the family has never been accepted by the Belmonsts, the line of the family that was usually in the succession. But the Earl has put a sting in the tail of the inheritance- Sylvester must marry one of the Earl's four granddaughters to inherit the money that should go with the estate. In the thirty days before the Earl's granddaughters are informed about the unusual codicil of the will, Sylvester travels to the Earl's seat and sets about finding one of the granddaughters to be his bride. He finds himself attracted to Theodora, the one who was the Earl's unofficial heir, to whom he left the running of the estate. But even as she battles with Sylvester, she does find herself attracted to and wanting him. The question is, will Sylvester's lies and omissions end their love and their marriage before it is truly begun? And when it seems that someone is out to kill Sylvester, for reasons unknown, can Sylvester keep himself and Theodora alive from someone who is willing to injure or kill both of them to get what he wants? I liked this book. Yes, Theodora is amazingly headstrong, but she is also out for justice and while she hates Sylvester seemingly for who he is, she is also the perfect wife for him, fiery and able to keep up with him while her sisters want other things out of life. I really enjoyed this book, and how both characters saw beyond their flaws to really end up falling in love. Recommended.

Friday, September 05, 2014

2014, Part 8

Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction, David Aja and Javier Pulido- Hawkeye is back, and when he gets badly injured in an accident, he gets out of the hospital, only to fnd himself near a building in Bed-Stuy where mobsters are harrassing the residents. Moving into the building, he sets himself against the mobsters while becoming close to the building residents and saving an abused dog as well. But unlike the other Avengers he works with, Hawkeye has no real superpowers, and his whole shtick is shooting arrows. Trick arrows. Okay, really good trick arrows, but still... Can he take on guns and gangs, and villains like Madame Masque, armed only with a bow and arrows? Okay, this book was interesting, but they kind of made Hawkeye the Buttmonkey of the Avengers. The Doof. The Goofball for whom nothing ever goes right. Kind of like Old School Spiderman. And while that's a lot more characterization than Hawkeye has ever gotten, it still kind of rankled me. Because he's been recently made more popular thanks to Jeremy Renner playing him in the Thor and Avengers movie, but this kinda felt... disrespectful to the character, who as I remember in the older Avengers comics, was always a strong and kinda competent guy. Not so much the buttmonkey of the group. I felt slightly offended reading these, and I am sad to say that the feeling never quite went away, even when Hawkeye pulled it all out in the end. I also found the Russian mobsters constant use (some would even go as far to say overabuse) of the word "Bro" to be annoying and eyeroll inducing. It may have been meant to be humorous, but I didn't find it amusing in any way, just annoying. I wouldn't recommend this series, but it might float your boat.

Hawkeye: Little Hits by Matt Fraction, David Aja, Steve Lieber, Jesse Ham and others- Hawkeye now owns the building that he saved, but his actions have attracted the attention of high-caliber villains like Kingpin. With a Price on his head, Hawkeye must make it through and save the building, his tenants and their families from the wrath of the criminals, along with a serial killer known as the Clown. But with the mobsters also after a dangerous ex of his, Darlene Penelope Wright, not even Kate Bishop may be enough help to pull Hawkeye's fat out of the fire. But when she abandons him, how can he stand against the forces arrayed against him? I only read this because I got this and "Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon" at the same time. Less Bro in this volume, but he's still the buttmonkey, seeming consistently down on his luck, and I really didn't find this rather thin graphic novel to be any better than the first. Not my cup of tea. Not recommended.

Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews- Dina DeMille owns an inn in the Avalon Subdivision of a small town in Texas. Unlike her perfectly ordinary neighbors, Dina may not stand out from the crowd, but her inn is something special, with a mix of magic and technology, and visitors from other dimensions often stay there. When dogs in Dina's town start dying, she suspects her neighbor, Sean Evans, ex-military and newly moved into the subdivision. He also happens to be a werewolf, which is why she suspects him of the killings. Sean is on edge because he wants to protect the area in which he lives, and he doesn't like Dina interfering in what he considers his own business. But when Dina kills the thing that has been killing the dogs, it's not a misplaced mountain lion or cougar, but a dangerous extraterrestrial hunter. And when a contingent of Vampire Lords of House Krahr show up to hunt the rest of the thing's pack and its master, Dina will have to scramble to help both Sean and Arland, the Vampire Marshal of House Krahr, who have a vested interest in hunting the thing down. But are she and the inn, which is still, very weak, up to the task? And when both men show and interest in her and more, can she keep her feet on the ground and her mind on task for what they face ahead? This was a very obscure Ilona Andrews book, but that didn't make it any less awesome. There is so much story packed into this surprisingly slender book that I was constantly amazed that it wasn't thicker. I'd love to read more of this series, which is surprisingly light on the romance aspects. More a "He's hot and I find him attractive" rather than outright snogging or shagging. There is definitely something of an attraction triangle, with Dina as the hypotenuse, but it's not overwhelming. Really excellent and I want to read more. Recommended.

Victories by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edgehill- Spirit White and her friends have left Oakhurst Academy behind and are fleeing after the death of their friend Muirin. Spirit, who has long thought she had no magic, has found out she has magic after all, the magic of Spirit, which was neither acknowledged nor taught at the academy. Worse, the man in chanrge of Oakhurst turns out to be Mordrd in disguise. Now left on their own, the only hope they have is reaching QUERCUS, a user she met on the internet who seems to know more than he is telling. When they reach their destination, they are met by a woman named Vivian, who takes them to meet QUERCUS, who is the spirit of the actual Merlin. Now, it is up to them to fight Mordred and the Dark Knights, and to do so, they will each have to remember their past selves, find the four Hallows and destroy Mordred. But that won't be easy with the Shadow Knights on their tail and the rest of the students locked up in Oakhurst Academy. Can they find the Hallows, Destroy Mordred's unkillable body and fight the final battle- and win? I really enjoyed this book, which was the ending of the series. Lots of interesting stuff happens, and we get to see why Spirit White is the only Spirit magic user at the entire school. The ending was a bit of a disappointment- not the fight against Mordred. which was great, but the ending where magic has somehow inexplicably diminished with the death of Mordred and the passing of all the reborn spirits. It just didn't make sense as to why, but other than that, I really liked the book, and wondered what would become of the magicians and the world. I assume the former "Mark" would do something about that, it's sort of left like that. Admittedly, most people wouldn't know they had magic without someone telling them that it exists, but again, to me it felt a bit disappointing. Recommended.

Thanos: Redemption by Jim Starlin, Keith Giffen, Dave Sharpe- Thanos has given up on destroying the universe as a present to Death, the only thing he loves and instead decides to aid those he has harmed, including the inhabitants of Rigel-3. After staving off a coup by the Rigellian military against their Grand Councillor, he discovers that their current problem is that one of their colony worlds is about to be attacked and devoured by Galactus. Thanos decides to stand him off, but during the course of the conflict, he discovers that Galactus is trying to collect the Soul Gems to end his own endless hunger. However, Galactus is being made a pawn of by an entity known as Hunger, who destroys realities. He tried to prevent Galactus from releasing Hunger, but is unsuccessful. Then, he teams up with Galactus, who now realizes his error, to destroy Hunger. But can they destroy such a thing> Afterwards, he travels to the Kyln worlds, the universe's largest prison camp, where the Beyonder has reincarnated in a mortal female form. There he battles her with the help of Peter Quill, Star Lord and Gladiator of the Shi'ar Royal Guard, who has had himself incarcerated to monitor the Beyonder's new body. Thanos fights her but can he prevent the Beyonder from escaping and being reborn? Also freed is the Old One, who once served Galactus as a Herald, but now only seeks to destroy him. A fact which he cannot usually do. However the previous battle with Hunger has weakened Galactus, and now he might succeed, So Thanos goes to Galactus to warn him. But can he prevent the Old One from destoying the weakened Galactus? and what will he do with The Old One if he does? This was an interesting collection of stories, but as with all things, Thanos's "Redemption" didn't last long. In the Comics, he died and was reborn and went right back to his old ways almost immediately. Which only goes to show you, nothing changes for very long in comics. It was interesting to see Thanos try for redemption, but he doesn't make a very good hero. He's a little too easy with killing people to really make a good hero. But it was certainly a good experience to read these stories and see Thanos trying to help those he had wronged. I particularly loved the scene where he speaks with Lady Death as a young child, and she tells him the score- if he kills everything, there will be no death, since death requires life to exist. It was also nice to see Adam Warlock being Thnos's sidekick and fellow traveler for a bit. Entertaining if nothing else, and recommended.

Murder in Murray Hill by Victoria Thompson- Frank Malloy is a cop, but he's hiding something from his fellow officers- he's about to become a very rich man, thanks to a millionaire dying and leaving Frank all his money to look after his daughter, who Frank rescued in a previous case. The minute this news comes out, Frank will be a Pariah in the station house, so when a man asks Frank to look for his missing daughter, Frank takes it on, knowing it might be his last case. Frank discovers that the daughter had been responding to a fellow she met through a lonely hearts ad for months, and she disappeared in her best clothes- probably a sign that they were going to meet. But when he succeeds in tracking the man down, he finds out that Grace Livingston isn't the only woman the man has kidnapped and is holding in his home, making them into his bawds. He calls in Sarah Brandt to help with the women, who have been brutalized, and also discovers that the man has been killed, possibly by Grace Livingston, before they ever set foot in the house. And there are signs that the two women in the house were not the man's first victims. However, then Frank's inheritance information comes out and he loses his job. Still, he isn't able to give up the case- not when the officer he had to hand the case off to is a drunk and wants to arrest Grace Livingstone for the crime- only Frank doesn't believe she did it. Also missing is the man who helped the kidnapper, and when he turns up murdered in the house, a former inmate of the house and the man who bought her away from the kidnapper become more important as they have to find out if the person who killed the kidnapper also killed his servant. And what if the killings don't end there? Meanwhile, Frank and Sarah decide to marry, but can they get Frank's mother to warm to the idea? She has never liked Sarah, thinking that Sarah will take Frank and his deaf son away from her. Can they persuade her otherwise, and can they come to an agreement on which house they will buy to house their growing family? Another really enjoyable book. I like the way Frank and Sarah interact, and despite Frank inheriting a ton of money, he hasn't changed, being essentially the only honest cop in the lower ranks of the force. He may have lost his job, but he remains a cop at heart, and seeing him transition to a private investigator was wonderful. Sarah hasn't had to change as much, but it was nice to see her move on and make friends with Frank's mother at last. A lot is going to change, but the heart of the series will remain the same, and I look forward to reading more. The subplot with the three women who were caught in the scheme was also very enjoyable, and I liked how they also became friends despite what had happened to bring them together. Highly recommended.

Hunter by Jax (Jacquelyn Frank)- Tatyana is a lawyer in a Manhattan office, but when she goes to see what has become of her brother Dimitre, who has fallen out of touch with her, she finds herself cold and stranded in the Catskills wearing only her party dress and a shawl. Leaving her car to try and find someone, anyone, to help her, she stumbles across a giant house and heads for it. In the house lives a coven of Magic users, and one of their own, their protector, Hunter, has recently come home after a long time away. Hunter is unusual in that, despite being the protector of a coven of good Witches, he comes from a family who has long been part of evil. Only the master of the coven he protects, Ryce, saw the good in him and befriended him. And when Tatyana rings the door and falls into a faint, it is his arms that she falls into. Both of them are immediately attracted to each other, but when an evil coven attacks later that night, Tatyana ends up helping them all and discovers magic of her own. To protect her and her emerging abilities, though, Hunter must make her his thrall to protect her from members of the evil coven who will try to make her a thrall as well. But while thrallship in a good Coven is akin to mentorship, being a thrall to someone in an evil Coven is more like being a slave, both sexual and magical. And thrallship comes with an almost addictive desire for the thrall to serve the master- in every way, both physical, magical and sexual. Given the attraction that already exists between Hunter and Tatyana, they have a hard time keeping their hands off each other. But when Dimitre returns to the house (because he has also found magic and joined the coven), they are trying to determine exactly what kind of magic Tatyana has. And as her relationship with Hunter heats up, so do attacks by the evil Coven, whose master is Hunter's actual brother. But can they take out the evil coven before the members of that coven destroy the Coven Hunter has sworn to protect? I liked this book. I liked it a lot. There were definitely some plot holes (Tatyana's entire outside life seems to disappear without worries after she arrives at the house, and no one seems to miss her, not even her other brothers. I found this a little annoying, but the story stands well on its own, and I can see more sequels dealing with the unattached members of the Coven. I enjoyed what we saw of the other members and I think I will enjoy reading books about them, Recommended.

Midnight's Lover by Donna Grant- Ian Kerr was one of two brothers who were Warriors, and they shared the same Warrior between them. But when Ian's brother Duncan was killed, Ian lost control of the God which was in his body, having to control twice what he did before. So, he ran off into the mountains, where he takes shelter in a cave, trying to control Farmire, the God within him, living on whatever animals the god chooses to hunt, but having contact with no one, lest he snap and kill them by mistake. Danielle Buchanan has been raised in Scotland ever since she was a child, but she knows she is a descendant of the Druids and has magic. Unfortunately, she hates her magical talent. When she finds things, she can tell who owned the and must return the item as soon as possible or she suffers terrible pain. So when she finds a key hidden under some snow when she turns down a friend for a date, she must return the key to MacLeod castle. On the way there, though, she is involved in an accident and winds up in Ian's cave. Reluctantly, Ian agrees to escort her to the castle, however, he discovers that Farmire seems to be calmer in her presence. Along the way, they are tracked by forces belonging to Deirdre, and Ian must help another warrior, one not allied to either the mie (Light) or droch (dark) Druids defend his home. And once they reach the castle, the key tells Danielle she must wait. For there is a spy in the castle, and he wants Ian out of the way so he can more easily betray the other Warriors into Deirdre's control. But when Ian voluntarily imprisons himself to keep Danielle safe, can she unmask the traitor and keep Ian, the other Warriors and their wines and husband safe from the traitor, and will she ever find out what the key opens? More to the point, can she convince Ian that they were meant to be together? I found this book really interesting, until I found out that each Warrior turns a different color when his God comes out, and I had this sudden vision of Monsters in Power Rangers colors, and I couldn't keep from laughing. Aside from that, it was a suspenseful book and one that I enjoyed, but the hero was so stubborn that at times, I wanted to kick him in the shins. But I did love the story and the love and caring that grew between Ian and Danielle, and how they unmask the traitor. Recommended.

Promise of Blood: Book One of the Powder Mage Trilogy by Brian McClellan- Field Marshall Tamas has acted to overthrow the corrupt King of Adro, and the Cabal of Privileged who supported his rule. But as the members of the Privileged known as the Circle died, they all said "Do not break Kreismir's Promise. While claiming that it means nothing, Tamas calls on the talents of Adamat, the former police inspector, to track down the meaning of the saying. Also called back home is Tamir Two-Shot, Tamas' son, himself also a Powder Mage, who can manipulate the power in black powder to guide bullets and do magic. They can also ingest the powder, which gives them energy and extends their senses. Tamir comes with his companion, Ka-Poel, a savage from the lands of Deliv. When Tamir saved her life several times, she followed him to repay her debt. When his estranged father sets him to apprehending a Privileged who was with the Royal Cabal the night before the coup, he must work with another female Privileged and a mage killer. but the woman is more than she seems, and seems immune to all of their powers. Then, the nation of Kez declares war, because the King was about to sign a treaty with Kez to eliminate most of Adro's debt, which had been racked up by the King, and get more money for himself to fritter away. And not everyone in Adro is happy with Tamas' actions- and a crime lord wants to influence Adamat's investigation, threatening his family to do so. And then there is corruption in the people who are backing Tamas' coup, and Tamas himself is kidnapped, and a star of gold implanted in a wound near his knee, rendering him powerless as a mage. But he is truly trying to do the best for his country- only the country is broke, bankrupted by the now-executed King. Can he, Adamat and Tamir pull together to save the country from the forces that threaten it? And what of the rumors of the return of the Gods? Can Tamas trust them not to destroy Adro for what he has done, or are they just a tale, as everyone believes? This was a first for me- a tale of magic set in a world where the most common form of magic involves guns and gunpowder. But the story was taut and gripping. Just when you think you understand what is going on, something else comes up and you are back to where you were before. I liked the characters while also despising them for some of the things they did. Tamas comes off as unsympathetic at the beginning, but by the end of the book, you do begin to see something of his point of view. I can't say too much about the plot, because that would give away some of the twists in the story. But this story is something I will definitely be reading more of- it was just that engrossing. Recommended.

Circle of Desire: The Damask Circle: Book 3 by Keri Arthur- Ethan Morgan is a werewolf whose niece is missing, She is one of a number of abductions of children recently, who have been found dead and drained of their souls. Ethan is desperate to find his niece, but the chief has also called in Katherine Tanner, and her grandmother, Gwen. Katherine and Gwen are witches, but Katherine is also a shapeshifter, able to take the form of a bird. She also wants to find the missing kids, but she knows that there is a werewolf and something else, something much, much worse, that is responsible for the abductions. But she finds herself attracted to Ethan, and he needs someone to be his lover through the moon heat, which will drive him wild with animalistic sensuality. But Ethan is also hiding secrets as well as his heart, and as he and Kat search for the abducted children, fight zombies, a werewolf and a Mara, Kat will have to decide if she can help Ethan overcome the baggage that is holding him back from shifting, and keeping him aloof and distant from others. But will she be able to get Ethan to trust her enough to open up to her? And when their times together end in Kat conceiving Ethan's child, can he overcome his past and admit his love for her, or will one or both of them end up dying in the Mara's lair? The Damask Circle books, just like the Nikki and Michael books, are as much about the cases the characters are trying to solve as the romance, but n this case, just like the other Damask Circle books, the story drives the romance, and vice-versa. I did like the romance in this book, but the wqay Ethan kept basically wanting to dip his wick without making a real connection with Kat pissed me off. Thankfully, He got the equivalent of a clue by four to the head, so the ending made me happy that they ended up together. Recommended, but Ethan might make you angry before it is all over.

Batman: Zero Year Volume 4: The Secret City by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and Danny Miki- Bruce Wayne has been missing from Gotham for years, travelling the world. But he is back now, under the cover of darkness, trying to save the city from the criminals who have taken it over. But as he faces off against the Red Hood and his goons, Bruce will have to make a decision as to what is more important to him- his last remaining family, headed by his uncle Phillip, who also runs the corporation bearing his name, or fighting the evil that lurks in the criminal underbelly of Gotham. But when the two separate worlds collide, which will he choose to savem and can he find a way to save both? And what will the birth of Batman mean for Gotham> The end of this graphic novel shows how the training Bruce underwent made him into the man he was- learning driving from a thief of expensive cars, thinking outside the box from a strange explorer and fighting from a queen outside of Norway. Each tries to teach him what they are best at, but Bruce has his own way, and fits their training to his own ends. Can he survive the lessons they have to teach? This was an interesting graphic novel. We get to see Bruce struggle with what he is trying to do- so much more than he struggles as Batman. He clashes with his family, with Alfred, with the police and the criminals in a way he never does after the becomes Batman- because during this series, he is becoming himself, struggling to put the lessons he's learned into practice in Gotham. And eventually, we know he succeeds, but it's interesting watching him get there. Recommended.

The Secret Mistress by Mary Balogh- Lady Angeline Dudley was raised in the country, far from London and the rest of the ton. Her brother is a rakehell, but he is the only family she has left, and the only one who can help her navigate the world inside London in her first season. She is too cheerful and direct for most of the ton, but when she leaves the safety of her room at the inn, she encounters two other men. Edward Ailsbury, Earl of Heyward, defends her when another rake thinks she is a woman of light virtue- he can see that she is dressed far too well, and too soberly, to be a courtesan. But from that meeting , Angeline concieves a passion for Edward, and wants to marry him herself. Edward, though, feels like a passionless stick, stuck in a life of duty. When the woman he would marry turns him down, he offers for Angeline- also to be turned down for lack of passion and feeling. But as they continue to meet and interact with one another, can he see that they are very well suited for each other, and that, indeed, she could make him the happiest of men if only he could let go of his ideas of himself and allow himself to feel? And as for Angeline, can she see Edward as he really is and persuade him to let down his guard and let her into his heart? I like Mary Balogh, and this is very Mary Balogh- down to how the characters passions are engaged long before they end up in bed together, In this case, though, Edward is very self-doubting, and torn between Angeline, who he does like, but feeling he has to make a decision now and to do his duty to his family. Angeline, for her part, wants Edward to be happy, and even if it is not with her and she is feeling horrible about it, tries to shove him in the direction of the woman he asked to marry him years ago, thinking his heart is still engaged there. But it's up to the other characters to take a hand and ensure that Edward and Angelline will end up together and happy. This one takes a while to come together, and it requires all the book for them to realize how very much in love they are. So recommended, but you might get tired waiting for that ending. 

Simply Magic by Mary Balogh- Susannah Osbourne is a teacher in a Miss Martin's School for Girls, and during the summer, she usually stays to help take care of the students who have no home to return to. but this time, she can have some time off, and a former fellow teacher, who married a member of the nobility, invites her to stay for the summer. And there she meets Peter Edgeworth, Viscount Whitleaf, who is immediately captivated by Susannah's looks and wits, though she remembers him and wants nothing to do with him even if he has no memory of meeting her. Peter is staying awsy from his mother, who wants nothing more than to have him settle down and raise a family, but Peter is tired of living life to his mother's wishes and decides to stay around Susannah, who he finds more interesting than any other woman he has ever met. But Susannah still wants nothing to do with him, and he must find out why this intelligent schoolteacher so appeals to him, and why she also wants nothing to do with him- and the fault lies in the pasts, and the parents of both of them. But can Susan forgive Peter's mother for causing her father's death, and can Peter forgive his own mother for lying to him. But can both of them forgive each other enough to find love with each other through the unexpected bond they share?

Nocturnal by Jacqueline Frank, Kate Douglas, Jess Haines and Claire Willis- This is a book of four short stories. "The Phoenix Project" by Jacqueline Frank begins with Amara, who has been kidnapped and held with others in a strange facility where they undergo various tests. But when she is forced to undergo another test and paired with a kidnapped Cop named Nick, they must survive what has been done to them and escape to get retribution on those who endorsed the experiments. But will they ever be the same again? In "Crystal Dreams" by Kate Douglas, Mari is the daughter of two hippies. When her father falls sick, Mari takes over running their shop in Evergreen, California so that her mother can be together with her father. But when something Demonic slips through a portal from another world, Mari's only hopes are Darius, a Lemurian Guardsman from a third world and her mother's book of spells that she has never believed in. Can she bone up on magic in time to save herself, Darius, and the entire town? "Spark of Temptation" by Jess Haines gives us Sara Holloway, a P.I. with an aversion to Magic. Coming off a less than successful case, she finds her boyfriend, a local cop, being even more controlling than usual and demanding that she quit the case. But Sara can't do that. And her new partner, the Mage Arnold, is throwing off sparks that make her uncomfortable- and not just because of the way her skin feels about his magic. But as the case they are on heats up, can she and Arnold find a meeting of the minds and hearts- in time to save both their skins? "My Soul to Take" by Clare Willis involves Maggie Dillon, a native of New Orleans and the doctor at a mental ward. But when she finds herself reacting to Derek, a musician who clains he is possessed, she must turn to alternate sources for help when her psychiatric skills fail her- like her sister, the Voodoo Queen. But can she free Derek from the entity that haunts him? I liked this book a lot. The stories were very interesting and each gave good story on the supernatural. My favorite was "The Phoenix Project" followed by "Spark of Temptation", but all of the stories were good and interesting to read. I liked how the stories did world building, even with so little space in which to do so. Even better, I ended up believing in each romance, again, despite the lack of length of the stories. Recommended.

Hot Lead, Cold Iron by Ari Marmell- Mich Oberon is a private eye working in Chicago in the 1930's. But he's more than just a private detective- Mich is a fairy, a Knight of the Seelie Court, and a self-imposed exile from Faerie. But when he is contacted by the wife of a mobster to find her missing daughter, who has had a changeling taking her place, Mick will have to search both Chicago and the Otherworld to find her- *and* find out why she was taken, and by whom. Either that, or have his secret revealed to the world. But if the cold iron in the city and the case doesn't kill him first, maybe, just maybe, he might find his way to repairing the reputation he never cared about before. This was, for me, a book I found interesting when it was returned to library by someone else. I love historical detective stories, and I love stories about elves and such, so I figured that this book was in my "golden zone". Well, not quite exactly. It's really soaked in the kind of "noir detective" side of the pool and that doesn't quite appeal to me as much as other periods in history. But reading about the fae in this particular Chicago captured my interest, and the case's twists and turns really kept me entralled. I ended up enjoying the novel, bit not quite as much as I expected to. Still. not a bad series, and one I would probably read more of in the future. Recommended.

The Defenders of Shannara: The High Druid's Blade by Terry Brooks- Paxon Leah is no noble- he's just one of many descendants of the Leah family. No longer nobles of any sort, he runs his family's shipping business for his mother and tries to keep an eye on his sister, Chrys, who has been running pretty wild lately. Paxton is just about to try and rein her in, at least a little, when he hears from the barmaid at the local bar that Chrys lost money gambling with a stranger, and when she couldn't pay what she owed right away, the man kidnapped her. Paxon takes his family's sword off the wall and goes in search of his sister, who has been kidanpped awayto Wayford. When Arcannen, his sister's kidnapper, lays him low at the local airfield, Paxon follows him with the sword. In Wayfield, he discovers that Arcannen has magic, but not that many people like him. Kidnapping his sister back, he is forced to fight Arcannen and discovers that the sword has magic after all- magic enough to defeat Arcannen. But Paxon has no idea how to use it. Contacted by the Druids, Paxon goes to meet them, and they agree to tutor him in magic and fighting- if he will serve the Druids for a time. Unbeknownst to Paxon, who agrees to the druid's offer. Arcannen isn't done with the Leahs, and it wasn't really Chrys that he wanted- he wanted Paxton and his blade- and his sister Chrys for an assassin. But who is she supposed to assassinate. As Paxton gets caught up in looking for a traitor amongst the Druids, and taking on various tasks, Chrys is kidnapped again and one of Arcannen's allies works to turn her into the assassin Arcannen needs. But can Paxon and his friends and allies amongst the Druids rescue Chrys and keep her safe? And can they also uncover the name of the traitor amongst the Druids and bring him, her or them to justice? I read the original Shannara books years ago, and I've eagerly followed the stories since, even the ones where they linked Shannara and the "Knight of the Word" books This one was no exception to the rule of how wonderful these books are. I connected with the characters right away, and the last books, about Arlingphant and Aphenglow Elessedil are referenced here- with the Druids restored, and the surviving sister now Ard Rhys. But plots abound., and there are rumbles of things going on under the surface that I am sure will come to fruition in future books, And I will definitely be there reading. Hihgly recommended,

Hill of Bones: A Historical Mystery by the Medieval Murderers (Karen Maitland, Susanna Gregory, Bernard Knight, Phillip Gooden and Ian Morson- This unusual Mystery series involes murders that takeplace through different times and eras in history- but around the same location. Here, the location is the Hill of Solsbury in Bath. Phillip Gooden starts off the book with a story of two brothers who go to join Arthur's forces at Solsbury Hill. One brother, Geraint, is carrying a dagger with an ivory hilt carved in the shape of a bear that he was given by a seer/witch and told he would know when to use it. But his secret is discovered by a fisherman in a coracle, and he may have to defend it with a murder- and save Arthur's ife as well. The next part of the book takes place in the 1100s, when a Knight who once supported King Richard, Symon Cole, and his wife, Gwenlian, are sent to Bath to solve the murder of its guardian by King John. John will take away Symon's lands if he cannot solve the murder and bring the culprit to justice, and confirm him in his lands if he solves the mystery. Gwenlian doesn't trust John and does some investigaiting on her own. But can she bring the culprit to justice and save her too-trusting husband from death? The Next part is written byBernard Knight and involves treasures, plare and a pyx from Bath Abbey. A Lay brother is charged with the thefts, but Riocas, a cat-catcher and Selwyn, the Royal Steward, must band together to free the innocent Lay Brother and find the true culrpit or culprits. The Next story tells of a man named William, who survived a shipwreck, who uses his abilities with medicine to become a prophet of God. He gets gullible villagers to follow him, but when one of his followers is murdered, he has to find out who really killed her, to save his own neck. But is he truly innocent after all? The next tale by Phillip Gooden, concerns a travelling player named Nick Reville. After playing a role in Bath, he is approached by a woman who wants him to impersonate her cousin to her dying Uncle. Nick reluctantly agrees to do so, and the man gives him a small chapbook before passing away. However, Nick is attacked several times for the book, and when the man's son arrives, Nick must help him find whoever is after the book in order to save his own life. But can he find the secret of the chapbook and who is after it in time?Then, in a tale by Ian Morson, Joe Malinferno, a sometimes con man and sometimes researcher and his companion, Doll Pocket, come to bath to open a mummy case for a rich patron. But when a murder occurs on Solsbury hill where the exhumation occurs, Queen Charlotte, one of the attendees, is implicated in the crime, and it's up to Joe and Doll to figure out who really killed the victim and who might have wanted to throw suspicion on Queen Charlotte. Lastly, the ending tale, by Bernard Knight, shows the history of the Hill when a dead body is discovered there, and it turns out to be a case for the archaeologists. But when competing theories come to blows, is anyone safe? This was quite an unusual idea for a book, but not the first book in this series. I wondered how it was going to work, and in practice, it turned out to be very good and interesting. The first story sets the scene and the last one lays it to rest, as missing items and dead bodies in plenty are recovered on the hill. This was unusual for a mystery book, and is more like a connected series of short tales, but all were well told and kept your interest from the first to the last. Highly recommended.

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews- Kate Daniels is the mate of Curran, the Beast Lord of Atlanta, head of the Shapeshifter Council. But she is also the only daughter of Roland, one of the most powerful mages in the world, and since he's awakened, her ties to him are coming out, and that means nobody is safe. But when Curran is invited to another shapeshifter's territory who he is trying to make peace with, it's Kate as his mate who must attend the monthly conclave with the Masters of the Dead, those who rule and control vampires, which are brute, mindless beasts who will murder anything in their vicinity if left uncontrolled. But when Kate gets to the Conclave, she discovers that one of the local masters, Mulradin, has been killed by a local Werewolf- a woman who spends her free time making love in her beast form, which other shapeshifters consider unseemly. Added to this is the fact that the wolf Alpha is the wife of the former Alpha, and her Beta is pushing for Alpha status, because the Alpha just isn't strong enough. Said Alpha also blames Kate for the death of her husband, so Kate is unwilling to intervene in the conflict. But when Kate and Ghastek, the other Master of the Undead, are kidnapped by Hugh, her father's servitor, Kate and Ghastek must survive until Curran can come rescue them. But they aren't just anywhere, but a very specific place- Mishmar, her father's tower/place of torture. Protected by crazy, ancient vampires and magic, she, Curran, Ghastek, and their allies must then continue to survive and get out of Mishmar, and even then, Katehas to find a way to get her father to leave her, Atlanta, Curran and everything else she loves- without becoming her father in the process. But can she find a way that won't leave her becoming the same kind of thing that her father is, and will still protect others from him? The book ends with a short story about Kate's adopted daughter, is bored with her school and doesn't want to go. Kate wants her to attend a school for users of magic, but when a young girl disappears from the School, Kate asks Julie to investigate the disappearance because someone as young as she is wouldn't stand out as much as Kate. But can Julie find out Lisa's secret and discover what has become of her? And will she end up attending the school later? I got into Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels books when the first book came out, which, hard as it is to believe, was seven years ago. This book seems like it could be the end (right up until the very last lines, but it isn't, and I am glad the series will be ongoing after this one. But this book does make some major changes- not just in the life of Kate and Julie, but of Curran and Atlanta. I loved this book for how much we are still learning about the characters and cultures of the various wereanimals. Here we see more about some of the twisted sex lives of certain weres, and certain humans, and we also learn about the early life of Ghastek, and why he became a Master of the Dead. It was quite enlightening as well as being entertaining. I really enjoyed reading this book, and I felt that everything had changed by the end of the book. This is one you shouldn't miss if you like the Adventures of Kate Daniels.. Highly Recommended.

The Eye of the World Graphic Novel, Volume Five by Robert Jordan, Chuck Dixon, Marcio Florito and Frances Nuguit- The Ta'veren have become separated, but events are drawing them back together in Caemlyn. Rand and Matt make it there first, and Mat is ill. They take rooms in an Inn called "The Queen's Blessing", where Rand meets Loial, an Ogier. Meanwhile, Lan, Moiraine and Nynaeve rescue Perrin and Egwene from the Children of the Light. Rand also goes to see a captured Logain, the False Dragon, and climbs the walls of the palace to see the procession, but when he falls into the gardens surrounding the palace, he meets Elaine Trakand, the Princess, and her companion, Gwyn. Taken before the Queen on suspicion of being an Aielman, Rand must defend himself from a green-robed Aes Sedai wh does not believe him. But the Queen, Morgause, sets him free, but tells him to stay in the city while Elaine leaves for Tar Valon and the tower of the Aes Sedai. But when Moraine and the others arrive, she discovers the source of Mat's illness, a blade that Mat stole from Shadar Logroth and didn't tell anyone about until they were separated. Moiraine is able to take it from him, but evil follows the blade and radiates from it. It was about to take Mat over, but she is able to help him a little bit- enough to bring him back to what he was, temporarily- but she can't remove the blade from him without killing him. Forced to flee the city, the band, now including Loial, must travel the darkways of the Ogier. But will the ways be intact? and can they escape the trollocs, Myddral and Fades by using the darkways? Another excellent graphic novel that better illustrates the Eye of the World novel- though we're talking an ungodly number of grphic novels if they adapr the whole thing.into graphic novel form. But it's well done, and I enjoyed seeing the book in this form, and seeing more depictions of the characters than just on the cover. I can't imagine doing the entire series this way- because it would take up so much room. But it's nice to read nonetheless. Recommended.

Forever by Jacqueline Frank- Jackson Waverly has come back from the brink of death by bonding with Menes a pharoah from a race of Nightwalkers. But Jackson, who is slowly bonding with Menes, is also interested in Doctor Marissa Anderson. Menes is interested in finding the perfect women to bond with the woman he loves, the Pharoah Hatshepsut, but Jackson, a canine-handling cop, is more interested in Marissa, who is avoiding her feelings entirely. But when Jackson, on a hunt for a missing kid, is attacked by the Nightwalkers who are inimical to his own faction, he's dorced to bond more quickly, and reveals his secret to Marissa in the process. But the other side's leader makes a mistake of his own and bonds Odjit, his female leader, with the spirit of Apep, god of destruction. And while he cannot undo it, he must make his peace with Menes and Ramses and their allied Nightwalkers to defeat Apep. But Jackson's friend Leo is his prisoner, and being tortured by Chatha, a Nighwalker who delights in torture, and bonded with a Down's Syndrome child-man. As things change,

Guardians of the Galaxy by Jim Valentino- This graphic novel contains the old school 70's versions of the Guardians, and not the characters from the recent movie. Here, we see the Yondu, Martinex, Aleta. Charlie-27, Major Vance Astro and Nikki. Charlie is a Jovian, from Jupiter, while Nikki is a Mercurian, from Mercury. Nikki and Charlie are friends, but he wants to be something more. First, Yondu, who is the last male of his race, goes crazy, wanting to hunt down Force, who exterminated his people- especially since the only female of his race hates him. But Yondu wants to mate with her to bring back their people, and he is incensed that the Guardians are being late at hunting down Force. Meanwhile, Aleta is looking for some love of her own, and looking at Vance Astro, bearer of Captain America's shield. She and Martinex were once married, but when he killed her children and imprisoned her inside him, her love turned to hate. But Vance, imprisoned in his own suit lest his skin oxidize on contact with air, only has his little pocket dimension where he can shed his costume and be a human again- a dimension that Aleta can enter, as she can switch her form to being only light. Meanwhile the ship warps to a planet named Haven, home of the last of the Mutants from Earth, They fled, looking for a home of their own, but with each succeeding generation, the number of mutants lessened, and the number of normal humans grew, until now, a world of humans in ruled by just seven mutants, and they have become tyrants. Their ruler is Rancor, a descendant of Wolverine. Giraud, a human, is rescued from a mutant-induced interrogation, and the Guardians Quiz him on what life is like on the surface. He gladly answers their questions and begs for their help in unseating Rancor and the other mutants. But while some of the Guardians go off to see for themselves what is going on, Martinex seeks out an ancient power to help free Giraud's people. And when the other Guardians are attacked, it's up to this ancient force, the Phoenix. But can he find someone willing to bind with the Phoenix, and when Rancor decides to destroy the planet rather than let the humans win, can the Guardians save the rest of the people?And even if they can save them, can the Guardians accept one of thr Havenites as a new member of their team. Afterwards, the Guardians have an encounter with the Ghost Rider, they meet up with their opposite numbers when they run afoul of Mephisto, and Aleta disappears, along with Martinex, perhaps forever. And finally, the Guardians return to Earth, only to find it in the midst of a Civil War, but can they ferret out the true villains amisdt the chaos? And which Superhero from Old Earth is still alive? The Guardians undergo changes in their line-up, and who will remain at the end of the book? This was the old Guardians of the Galaxy and had a very different set of characters from the Newer Giardians in the movie. For instance, two of the Guardians are from Humans who colonized both Mercury and one of the moons of Jupiter. Charlie-27 is extremely strong, thanks to the higher gravity of Jupiter and Nikki exudes heath through pores on her head, giving her a literally flaming head. And while the guardians of the movie seem to get the goofier stories, the stories here are prety straight-up insofar ad their seriousness level goes. It's not a bad book, but if you're looking for a Guardians of the Gakaxt movie-tyoe story, you aren't going to find it here. Nonetheless, it's an excellent book and there's lots of interesting stuff going on. I just wish they'd used the characters better. Recommended.

Captain America: Loose Nuke- Cap has just gotten back from spending ten years in an alternate reality where Arnim Zola ruled the world. Coming back with him is Jet, Arnim Zola's daughter, who was trained to rule the world. But Cap's life for those ten years are something quite different, and "The Iron Nail", a new villain, is determined to expost S.H.I.E.L.D., and he'll use every dirty trick to do so, Even exploiting both Cap, who is both in mourning for Sharon Carter, who was killed just before they got out, and Arnim Zola's son, who Cap had raised for the ten years, teaching him to reject the attitudes of his father, and accept Cap's Americn Ideals. But Cap's needed immediately and doesn't have time to mourn, no matter how much he needs it. He's sent after Nuke, a former American Soldier from Vietnam who was given a version of the Super-Soldier serum that drove him just a bit crazy. But it's more the mental conditioning they tried to use on him that cause many of his continuing problems. But when Cap, who is broken up inside, catches up with Nuke, will he be able to reatin hia ideals, or will he let the rage festering inside him come out? And how will Cap deal with Nuke, who is both a victim and a villain? This was a very rare experience, to read a book where Captain America has been driven to his breaking point, and he's being forced to go even further with a man who seems to be a villain, hurting the others who have attacked America in the past. But can Cap unwittingly foil the plot put in place by Iron Nail, and who is the one who gave "Iron Nail" his powers (It looks like it could possibly be Fin Fang Foom, but I honestly have no idea. Also making an appearance in the book is The Falcon, who sees Steve and his need for healing, but is unable to convince Maria Hill that Cap really needs some time to adjust. We also get to see Cap as a boy, and see his mother, the reason why Cap grew up the way he did. One thing I didn't understand about this book is how we get to see both Ultimates Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and normal Earth 616 Fury in the same book without it really being explained. Also, the book ends on a cliffhanger with a villain who strongly reminded me of the Riddler in design (not powers or name). I will be interested to see what this new villain does and how he deals with Cap- and how, and when Cap deals with him when they finally come to blows. Recommended.

What People Wore When:  A Complete Illustrated History of Costume from Ancient Times to the Nineteenth Century for Every Level of Society- Consultant Editor Melissa Leventon- This book is exactly what it describes, but it features the artwork of two older artists, Frierich Hottentoth and Auguste Racinet. And while the drawings of various times and places are nice, as the text says, they are not always correct- sometimes te artists changed colors, or misattribted what they were copying, or just got it wrong. Which often made me wish that these were based on new drawings instead of correcting various older ones. Still, it's a large and extensive catalogue of drawings show changes in fashion through the ages and the various wrinkles of what fashions changed where and wny. The back of the book is packed full of pictures or various details, like hoods, collars and necklines. It's a wonderful book- huge and weighty, and is full of different fashions and when and by whom they were worn. For those interested in the history of fashion, it's an invaluable book- but with the caveats I mentionef before- I would have preferred new drawings based on actual remaininf costumes and outfits. Still definitely recommended.