Saturday, May 23, 2015

2015, Part 3

The Rules for a Proper Governess by Jennifer Ashley- Roberta "Bertie" Frasier is the daughter of a cheat who makes her living as a "Touch" or pickpocket. When she picks the pocket of Sinclair McBride, a Scottish Barrister, on the orders of her brother, she has already been intrigued by his getting off a lady's maid who Bertie counted as a friend. But when he catches her after she picks his pocket, he is set upon by bullyboys or street toughs, and Bertie ends up saving his life. He lets her go in thanks for the saving him, but when she encounters his son and daughter later in the street, they have climbed the scaffolding of a building and their lives are in danger. Bertie risks her own life to get them down and bring them home safely. When their current governess quits, McBride sees how his children listen to Bertie, and hires her to be their governess, since all the other ones he's hired have failed to get them to listen or to inspire their respect. But as Berie serves longer in McBride's household, his feeling towards her are growing increasingly muddled, and he wonders if he can lose his heart to a London pickpocket. But how can he not, when Bertie is not only loveable, but strong, smart and brave? And as for Bertie, how can she not fall in love with McBride, who is all those things himself? I loved this book. The hero and heroine were such strong characters, but willing to work with and respect each others skills and talents. I loved their slow development of feelings for each other and the children, who weren't just plot moppets, but actually contributed to the story themselves. They were little handfuls, but intrigued by Bertie in a good way. I loved every bit of this book, and the characters. Highly recommended.

Sentinel Wars: Binding Ties by Shannon K. Butcher- Lyka Phelan is a slayer, but she also hides a secret which could mean the end of her if it were to be found out. Joseph is a Theronal, a leader of his people. But time is running out for him to find his lifemate, as the number of leaves on the birthmark tree on his chest are falling, and even though he is frustrated by being leader, he knows he is best suited for the job, so he sticks with it instead of going out and fighting  with the rest of his people. But when Lyka's home compound is invaded and destroyed by the Synestryn, her brother and a group of Slayer children are captured by the Synestryn, and Lyka wants to join in the hunt. But Lyka is the sister of the leader of the slayers and so her life shouldn't be put at risk, lest her death lead to the unraveling of the contract between the two races. But when Joseph denies her the chance to search for the missing with the others, , Lyka pulls out her trump card: She, too, is Theronal, one of the few Theronal women left, and in exchange for Bonding with Joseph, he must let het go to search for her brother with him and his team. But, as Eric is forced to mate with the Synestryn leader to satisfy her need for a Slayer/Synestryn crossbreed child, he must also try to save the young children who have been captured along with him. But can he keep his revulsion for the Synestryn leader in check long enough to keep the children safe? And after all this is over, what will happen to Joseph and Lyka? and do they have a happy ending when Joseph is nearly killed in battle with the Synestryn? This book had a cover like a sword and sorcery novel, but it read more like a romance. It's actiually somewhere in between. with a romance set in a fantasy universe. I don't think I've read this particular universe before, but it was interesting. I just did feel like I'd missed a lot of backstory that would have made this story better. Recommended. But remember this story is not the first in the series, and you may have little idea of what is going on because of it.

If the Vicount Falls by Sabrina Jeffries- When Jane Vernon was young, she was in love with Dominick Manton, second son of the Duke of Rathmoore. But when his elder brother inherited, Dom soon found himself disinherited by his brother in payment for not calling the police on their half-brother. Left penniless, Dom was forced to find work as a private detective, but regardless, she still wanted to marry him. To protect her fortune, Dom staged a scene that made her break off the engagement. Now, years later, his brother is dead and his sister in-law, Jane's cousin, Nancy, is missing. Jane wants to investigate, but Dom wants nothing to do with it. However, with Jane determined to do right by Nancy. he is reluctantly drawn in to helping Jane find her cousin, and discovers that while he and Jane may have broken off their engagement, the feelings for each other have never really gone away- on either side. As Dom discovers he still loves Jane more than anything, and she discovers that she still has strong feelings for him, they must work together to find Nancy and restore her to the bosom of her family. For Nancy is pregnant with the heir to the Duke of Rathmoore, and it is up to Dom and Jane to try to save her and her unborn child, if possible. But can they do that when their passion for each other is flaring brightly? This was another great book with two strong characters. It starts rather slowly, with Dom refusing to confront his desire for Jane or any feelings he once had for her, and Jane still being angry at him. Over the course of the story, they are forced to confront their feelings for each other, and I loved how they finally came together in the end. I loved every interaction between the two, and definitely recommend this wonderful book.

The Accidental Countess by Valerie Bowman- Lady Cassandra Monroe has long waited for Julian Swift to return from the continent. But he isn't her betrothed, he is her cousin's fiancé instead. But when her cousin confesses to being unsure about her betrothal to Julian, Cassandra is forced into pretending to be Patience Bunbury, a made-up friend of her cousin who her cousin uses to get out of obligations which she cannot outright refuse. But when Cassandra is forced to pretend to be Patience at a false house party, she is disconcerted to find that Julian appears to have taken an interest in Patience in a romantic fashion, which disconcerts her greatly. But as her dreams of romance with Julian come true, how can Cassandra revel to the man she loves that she is not the woman she is pretending to be, but the friend from their childhood? And when the deception is finally revealed, can Julian trust the woman who he thought he loved but who fooled him so completely? Can he listen to his heart without being led astray by the anger in his mind? Can there be a happy ending for these two accidental lovers? Another really great book that I loved in aftermath more than when I was reading it. I liked the ending, but the reading of it was actually pretty painful for me. I hate when characters actively lie to each other, and this book had tons of that, so it wasn't my favorite when I was reading the parts where Cassandra was lying to Julian. But when they finally came together, that part I loved. Recommended.

Avenger's Angel by Heather Killough-Walden- Uriel and his fellow Archangels came to earth millennia ago to search for their promised brides, the Archesses. But despite living on Earth in human form, they have been unable to find any sign of their promised brides and are losing hope. They only have God's word that these brides even exist. Also banished to earth is the Angel Samael, who also lives as a human and owns the world's largest media company, the better to search for the archesses. But Samael, who was banished from Heaven for rebelling against God, wants to steal an archess for himself. Eleanor Granger has grown up knowing she was different her whole life. With her ability to heal and control fire, she has lived life on the run from anyone who wants to study and control her. But when she meets Uriel in the guise of Hearthrob movie star Christopher Daniels, he knows she is meant to be his- now he just must convince Ellie of it. But when Samael steps in, Uriel goes from human to vampire, like the one he played as Christopher Daniels. Can he control his new condition long enough not to harm Ellie and convince her that they are meant to be one? And will his brother angels find their own archesses? More to the point, who are these people out after Ellie and what do they know about Ellie, Angels and the Archesses? And why are they trying to kill Uriel and mate Ellie? This was an interesting book, but I wasn't wholly into it. I got that Uriel was supposed to be like Robert Pattinson, but I just found myself unable to get into the whole book until near the end, but even so, I was left kind of unimpressed with the ending. While Ellie seems like a real person, Uriel didn't turn me off, but neither did he really appeal to me. Neither recommended nor not. This was a "Meh" for me.

Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare- Clio Whitmore has been engaged to the same man, Piers Brandon, the Marquess of Granville, a diplomat who works for the highest levels of the British Government. But though she loved Piers at the start of her engagement, or thought she did, eight years of waiting, of not being a bride, have taken their toll on her spirit, and now that she has inherited a castle, she wishes to dissolve their engagement and live by herself. But Rafe Brandon, Piers' brother, will not sign the papers allowing her to escape the engagement. He is determined to save his brother's engagement, even if it kills him- or he must plan the wedding himself! But when she begins to share the castle with Clio, he finds himself slowly falling for her, and giving her all the things his own brother hasn't, such as strength, being there and the confirmation that she is beautiful and worthy of love. Slowly, Rafe starts wanting her for himself, and not for Piers. But when another of his brother's possessions, an old dog that Rafe has been caring for, dies, can Rafe finally admit to Clio what he really wants- and admit it to himself at the same time? I loved this book. Although sometimes uncomfortable to read in spots, it was, in others, a laugh and a lark. When Rafe finally admits to himself that he can stop being the rebel everyone expects him to be, be can finally reach for his own happiness. And as for Clio, she has to learn to believe in Rafe and his feeling for her before she can accept him as her own. Glorious, and I loved the ending. Recommended

The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy byJulia Quinn- Richard Kenworthy needs a bride, and when he stumbles across Iris Smythe-Smith, the only one at the musicale put on by her family who can actually play an instrument, he thinks he has found the perfect bride, one with an income and one also who is overlooked. Iris, for her part, is surprised when Richard pays her attention, as she has always disappeared into the background of her family. But she comes to accept him, and when he asks her to marry him, she asks for more time, but he presses the issue by deep kissing her where her mother is able to see, and she is forced to marry him right away, even though she probably would have said yes eventually anyway. But Richard will not touch her on their voyage north to his home, and although he does exhibit romantic feelings towards her, he refuses to make love to her, and she doesn't know why. Until his two sisters return home almost two weeks after they have married, and Iris discovers why Richard needed a bride so badly and what he intends to do. But while Iris finds herself  feeling betrayed by Richard's actions, she still loves him, and as she attempts to make a reconciliation, Richard, feeling stung, retaliates. Can they find a way to resume their loving relationship, or is their relationship doomed forever to be cold and loveless? For most of this book, I actually liked it, however, what Richard does and how he lied to Iris made me enraged on her behalf and I didn't think he did enough to make amends before the book and story ended. This ruined the book for me, and I would not recommend this book to anyone because of the possibly rage-inducing ending. Not recommended.

Garden of Lies by Amanda Quick- Ursula Kern is the owner of The Kern Secretarial Agency and once of its finest secretaries, Anne Clifton, dies under mysterious circumstances, Ursual decides to look into it herself. However, to do so, she must stop working for Slater Roxton, an explorer, as his own secretary while she goes to work for Valerie, Lady Fulbrook, Anne's employer. Lady Fulbrook is a poet who publishes most of her work in an obscure American Literary Jounral, and her husband is in charge of various businesses, but when she leaves the house for the first time, Slater is waiting for her and tells her someone is watching her. He is determined to help her if he cannot dissuade her from her plan. But Lord Fulbrook appears to be up to his eyebrows in a scheme involving a drug known only as ambrosia, which once made men have pleasant dreams and visions, but is now more likely to drive them mad and/or murderous. But what happened to Anne and why exactly was she killed? Can Slater and Ursula find out before whoever killed Anne kills them as well? Because Anne, too, appears to have been involved with the making of Ambrosia, and now Ursula can no longer avoid the implication that Anne was doing something possibly illegal; But can she and Slater, who are discovering that they have feelings for each other, must unravel the mystery and find the true culprit before he or she disappears. I really liked this book. It didn't have the psychic powers, but the Ambrosia reminded me a little of the formula from the Arcane books, though the ambrosia is far less dangerous (while actually being more dangerous for seeming essentially harmless). But I liked the chemistry between Ursula and Slater and the elements of the mystery, and also the revelation of who the actual villain was. I also loved many of the side characters, like Slater's mother. The book was an extremely enjoyable read, albeit less steamy than some of Amanda Quick's other books. Still recommended.

Behold A Pale Horse by Peter Tremayne- Sister Fidelma is a Dalaigh, or a lawyer of ancient Ireland's Celtic peoples. She is also a religeuse, and she has recently come from Rome, where she helped solve a mystery for the Pope. She is in Genua when she says an old religious man who is attacked, but she comes to his rescue and when he learns that she is from Ireland, he tells her that the monastery he hails from has a monk there who hails from Ireland and who was recently attacked, and his life is despaired of. Fidelma,, who was a student of the monk, brother Ruadan, travels to the monastery to see him and bring him word to his people. But little does she know that the monastery is on disputed ground, and two different provinces are going to war over it. But when someone kills Brother Ruadan and rumors of lost treasure abound, Fidelma must discover the truth of what is going on and uncover the traitors who are hiding among the monastery's monks. She works with another monk there, Brother Eolann, also a child of Ireland, to ferret out the traitors in amongst the monks of the monastery. But can she restore a rightful lord to his throne and solve the several murders which preceded the crisis. But can she do it on her own without the help of Brother Eadulf? This book was a throwback to earlier in the series, before Eadulf and Fidelma married and became parents. I missed the presence of Eadulf in this book, because he appears in neither this book nor the one set in Rome. I've gotten so used to him being Fidelma's aide, that it was kid of strange to read a story without him. But this was an interesting story about murders in a monastery, heresy and battling lords, not to mention a missing treasure that may or may not have been found. I really enjoyed this book and the mystery, and Fidelma's interactions with the people around her. Recommended.

The Seventh Trumpet by Peter Tremayne- Sister Fidelma has left the religious and become once more simply a Dalaigh Brehon or advocate in the Brehon law courts at the level of Anruth, or one level lower than the highest level, Ollamh. Fidelma was recently turned down to become the Brehon Judge for her brother's court of Muman, and she is still smarting over it. So when a young man's body is found facedown in the river by a farmer, Fidelma asks to be allowed to investigate. Also, the man wore a brooch showing he was from neighboring kingdom. He had been stabbed in the back, but who could have committed this outrage? Fidelma, Eadulf and Enda, a warrior of the Nasc Niadh, or King's Elite unit, are tasked with discovering the murderer and bringing him or her to justice. As it turns out, the murder may have more to do with rebellion and revenge than anything else, and with Fidelma's brother Colgu having finally found a possible bride, this is the prefect time to rebel against him if they want to seize the throne. But who could be behind the plot, and why have they turned an otherwise innocent monastery into an armed castle? Can Fidelma stop the plot against her brother without further bloodshed or will more deaths come about before it is ended? Another excellent book in the Fidelma series (can't really call it the "Sister Fidelma" series when she's no longer in religious orders). Here Fidelma is just a Princess and Brehon, but she is still remarkably effective as an investigator and detective. Sometimes she misses things, but Eadulf is there to pick up any slack she might leave, and sometimes his "outsider" status allows him to pick up a nuance or clue that Fidelma and Enda might miss. This was an intriguing story, involving Colgu finally possibly getting married. Fidelma thinks the girl he is interested in is a vapid airhead (not in those words, of course), but she turns out to have more depths than anyone suspected. In any case, an excellent novel and mystery. Recommended.

Atonement of Blood by Peter Tremayne- After traveling many of the areas of Ireland seeking evildoers for Cashel and Colgu, its King and Fidelma's brother, Fidelma and Eadulf are finally home to stay for a while. But on a winter feast day, during a feast, a religious comes into the room and stabs Colgu while calling out a woman's name, Liamuin. He also kills Aedo, the chief Brehon of Muman who shields the king with his body and takes a blow meant for him.. The guards cut down the intruder, but Fidelma and Eadulf are left with the question of who perpetrated this horrible deed. and who Lamuin was. They backtrack the man who stabbed Colgu and left him gravely injured, but when he recovers his wits, he has no idea who Lamuin is or why the man seems to have thought that Colgu might have known her. But it turns out that the man was from the lands of the Ui Fidgente, who have been foes of Muman in the past. But was this aborted assassination another attempt at war by the Ui Fidgente, or was it simply the actions of a deranged man who was in love with a woman long dead? And can Fidelma find the true person behind the conspiracy to kill her brother, and who was Liamuin, and why was someone willing to kill in her name? This book was another excellent mystery, involving twisted love and hatred many years old. So many twisted threads come together in this book, but the outcomes here are positive ones, with hatred being overcome and peace re-established at the end. I loved ho Fidelma was off her game here, being distraught over the serious wounding of her brother and the possibility that he might die. It made her act differently, but she loses much of her "stiff upper lip" because of her worry. It was good to see her be human and somewhat emotional. I mean, it is her beloved brother we are speaking of. But I liked how she even managed to impress the Ui Fidgente with her deductive abilities. She was not only able to find the killers, but she helped recover a Ui Fidgente relic and give them some measure of peace and payback for atrocities committed by both sides. A really compelling mystery and book. Recommended.

The Dark Side of the Road by Simon R. Green- Ishmael Jones is a very strange young man who works for "The Colonel", his boss in a mysterious agency which investigates things that man was not meant to know. Ishmael is invited to the Colonel's family holiday gathering, and when he arrives the house is cut off from the world by a howling blizzard. However, the Colonel is dead and no one at the house is what they seem to be- not even Ishmael. As he investigates the death of his boss and the influence of the Colonel's family, it becomes obvious that something has infiltrated the family estate- any only Ishmael is qualified to deal with this thing that is slowly killing everyone off. But how many more will die before he unmasks the creature and deals with it? I liked this book, which reminded me a lot of the first Nightside novel, and, in fact, doesn't seem to be connected to either his Shaman Bon/?Eddie Drood character or any of the Nightside novels. And while he fights horrors, Ishmael is a different sort of creature, of man, entirely. I was intrigued by his story and of his past, but I have a feeling this will end up much like Simon Green;s last two series. If you enjoyed them, as I did, this series will scratch that itch inside you for more. Recommended.

Tracker by C. J. Cherryh- After the recent trouble with the rebellion in the assassin's guild, things are finally returning to normal, and the Assassin's guild is re-forming, with an eye towards looking after their own affairs. Jase is going to be going home along with Cajeiri's ship-friends. But just when Bren can possibly think about relaxing for once, a rebellion aboard the space station, as well as the return of the kyo from deep space mean Bren, the aiji-dowager and Cajeiri must return to the space station to deal with the diplomatic greeting of the kyo. However, a human named Braddock has seized control of the children who have come back from the planet and is trying to agitate for another space station for the people from Reunion. As well as there are supposed to be equal numbers of humans and atevi on the station and with the arrival of the Reunion refugees, the station is strained by the sheet number of people it is being asked to support. And the Mosphei commander of the station has fallen in with Braddock and is refusing orders from Mospheira. It's up to Bren to settle matters for the arrival of the kyo and set the human and atevi come to an agreement over what happens on the station. But can he accomplish all this *and* find Cajeiri's friends, who have been seized in a hostage attempt? I love this series. Atevi are not at all like humans, even if they look like them in large part, and the humans are more fractious amongst themselves than the atevi are. I love Bren and Jago and Cajeiri and the Dowager and all the other characters in this series so very much. The aliens are convincingly inhuman and the humans come off badly by comparison. I love that Bren seems to be the perfect bridge between cultures, what all people in his position should be, but which only Bren has become. Amazingly well-done and highly recommended.

Henni by Miss Lasko-Gross- Henni is a cat-like humanoid living in a village with her father, mother and sister. When she is young, her father is denounced to the village priests by her mother, who is a fanatical follower of the local religion, and her father is killed. Before this, her father had confessed to Henni that he was unhappy in his marriage and didn't really lover her mother. Later, Henni delivers a meat pie to the priests for her mother and discovers that her mother has sent a bribe to the priests to marry her well. Disillusioned, Henni retreats to the edge of the village to think, and in a burst of rebellion, crosses the lines that you are not supposed to cross or you will lose your soul. When she feels no different, she returns after crossing all three lines, but her sister rejects her, and she meets a man who brands her with his ring and tells her to run off. She is found by another set of people, who are like Henni but they wear clothes. Assigned to an old man who is supposed to teach her the rules of their culture, Henni tricks one of the guards when she hears that a piece of art has been left outside the village, she goes to see it, running afoul of the religious laws and is sentenced to death. But she manages to talk her way into merely being banished, and discovers the artist who left the art- the blind son of a court painter who fell out of favor when secular art was abolished, and who died a bitter man. His son was an artist who refused to knuckle under and was blinded, his eyes torn out. Still, he opens Henni's eyes to how one can pretend to follow the law while subverting the spirit of it, and Henni discovers that the artist has a book that once belonged to her father, which means that he must be alive somewhere... But does Henni have the courage and strength of will to try and find him on her own? I loved this graphic novel, which is all about being yourself and following your convictions.. It does get a trifle heavy-handed at times, but it shows how certain societies control people (or try to control people) for their own benefit. It's not a comfortable read, but I think it's a wonderful book and story. Recommended.

The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes- The Complete Collection by Jeff Johns, Book 1- The Avengers are coming down off saving the world when cities across the world begin disappearing, and the Wasp and Yellowjacket are caught in Washington DC when it disappears. It, along with the other cities, reappear in some strange dimension, somehow conjoined with each other into one huge, super-massive conglomeration. But it isn't peaceful. Meanwhile, Wanda the Scarlet Witch, ends up being possessed by some strange entity and attacks Warbird and She-Hulk. Meanwhile, Henry Gyricj is assigned as liaison to the Avengers and the rest of them must decide if they can deal with him. Also, an entity named Scorpio, the Holder of the Zodiac, attacks, and Ant-Man asks a question apparently no one has ever asked before. If Zodiac is a key, what does it unlock? Meanwhile, the cause of the strife turns out to be the forces of order and chaos, normally one bing, but now separated. Can the Avengers bring them back together to reconstitute the original being. The rest of the comic reprints the Vision: Icons book, where we see the origins of the vision and see him reclaim his memories and emotions from the "Brother" who stole them from him. He reconnects with his long-dead creator through his granddaughter and a young boy whose father is in the military while defeating his erstwhile brother. I liked this book a lot, and the stories within. The Vision story was wonderful and I can't wait to see how the end impacts the main storyline of the comic. The one of the war between order and chaos was also good, and I liked all the side stories that were incorporated. Recommended.

Sculptor by Scott McCloud- David is a sculptor who once had it all, wealth, money and fame, and threw it away when he gave an interview about his art. Now struggling after his earlier success, David finds himself drinking in a bar when he is approached by his Uncle Harry. But his uncle is dead. It's actually Death himself. He asks David what he'd give for his art, and David tells him "anything". So Death makes a deal with David. David, if he accepts the deal, will live 200 days but in that time, he can sculpt anything he sees in his head with his bare hands. But in those 200 days, David, while making a lot of art, meets a girl, Meg, an actress, and falls in love with her. He finds his inspiration, loses it, and finds it again. But as he explores his art and his artistic vision, he struggles to come up with something... something big, that he can leave the city, and people, after he's gone. Through love and life, David finally finds the inspiration, but can he finish it before his deadline with Death? I'm a writer. I make my living with words, but I have none to describe this beautiful story and how it left me feeling when I finished it. I am quite literally, speechless. Read it. Highly recommended.

Jason by Laurell K. Hamilton- Jason Schuyler is one of Anita's sometimes lovers, but she tends not to call on him even though he's into some pain the bedroom, he also is in love with a dancer, J.J., and she just doesn't "get" why he'd be into such a thing. Jason asks Anita to try and help him explain, and she sets up a bed session to show J.J, *why* they like it. But J.J. Turns out also try and help Anita with her first female lover, Jade, a black tiger. Jade's former master really did a number on her and it is making Anita unhappy when she tries to make Jade happy in bed. But is there something Anita can do to help, and can J.J. help her find what that "something" is? This isn't a big story. it's small and intimate, and happens mainly in bed and all involves relationship stuff. Some people might not think that this is a good reason to write a book, but it's a small, self-contained story, more of a novelette or novella than novel. And a lot of space is taken up with part of the author's next Anita Blake book. I enjoyed it, but this sort of story isn't for everyone. If you don't mind pretty much a side story about Anita, you'll enjoy it. Otherwise, give it a miss.

Somewhere I'll Find You by Lisa Kleypas- When Damon Savage was a mere seven years old, he was married to the daughter of a man who gave his father a loan to pay his gambling debts. The girl was barely out of diapers and Damon never agreed to the marriage, and now that he's older, he wants an annulment. But he can't find the woman he was married to, Julia Wentworth. Her family refuses to tell him where she is, and none of his hired detectives have had the least luck. While Damon has a lover in the pretty widow named Pauline, Lady Ashton, he isn't sure he wants to marry her, but he does want to be free to make his own choice. Until he meets the actress, Julia Wentworth, and wants her for his mistress. But unbeknownst to Damon, Julia Wentworth is his wife, and she knows who he is. When he finally finds out she is the woman he's been looking for, and that she is also the woman he wants, will he still want to marry her and let her go? As for Julia, who has found fulfillment in her role of an actress and in the theatre herself, will she agree to give it up to become wife and lover to Damon? Can she have both or is it all one way or another? I started out thinking this book was going to be good, but the way Damon acted once he discovered that Julia was his wife just turned me right off. He's stalker-y and overbearing in a way that harkens back to the sort of Alpha Assholishness of an earlier breed of romance novel. I get that Julia fell in love with him, but I wondered why. He only seemed to be nice when he was getting his own way. In fact, I found a lot of the men in this story rather reprehensible in behavior. Normally, I like Lisa Kleypas. I didn't like this book, or Damon.

The Ideal Wife by Mary Balogh- Miles Ripley, the Earl of Severn is being pushed towards an engagement by his mother and sisters, who have the perfect wife for him, or so they think, a beautiful blonde named Frances Galloway. But Miles fears being married to an empty-headed woman who thinks of little but herself. What Miles says he wants is a wife dull and plain as dishwater, someone who can be a true companion to him. So when he meets Abigail Gardiner, a distant member of the family, who has been dismissed unfairly from her job as a governess, and only asks him for a letter of recommendation from him, he offers her a job in his own house, as his wife. Abigail is startled, to say the least, but eventually accepts and marries Miles within a few days. He does tell her that he wants to be married and why, but doesn't tell her about his "requirements" for a wife. Abby may not be dull as dishwater, but he soon finds himself in love with an entranced by his new wife, and wants to ensure that she is happy. But when people learn of his requirements, who are already gossiping about how plain Abby is, and she learns what Miles said, can she live with the hurt she feels? And when the Galloways and their daughter Frances start making trouble for Abby, is there anything Miles can do? And can he allay her hurt feelings over his words in a way she will accept? I loved this book, which was gentle and lighthearted. In fact, I think it was my favorite book written by Mary Balogh that I have read so far. I loved Abby and Miles and the whole family of each. Abby loved and looked out for everyone in a way I found noble and admirable. I enjoyed the story so much that I never wanted it to end, which is high praise for a book like this. Highly recommended.

Love Him or Leave Him: But Don't Get Stuck With the Tab by Loni Love- Loni Love is an African-American comedian with lots of sass, but she also seems to have her head on straight when it comes to men, so people are usually asking her for advice about their man problems. Since so many people asked her and seemed to like the advice she gave them, Loni wrote this book to help every woman. And her prime rule is to love yourself first, and don't accept being second in anything to the man you are with. Knowing your own worth as a woman and loving yourself is being confident enough to also put yourself first, because then, no man can take advantage of you or use you. But she hasn't always had it together, and she shares stories from her own life and the life of her friends and the people she knows about that illustrate her points. I found the book amusing and informative and I could definitely see it helping a lot of people. Recommended.

The Angel Court Affair by Anne Perry- Thomas Pitt is asked, as head of Special Branch, which usually investigates terrorism threats, to keep an eye on a woman named Sofia Delacruz, an English Expat who lives in Spain as the head of a religious movement. She is known to be a fiery speaker, but her Theology is what really causes people to denounce her. When she and two of her female disciples disappear from the Angel Court House where they had been staying, it's up to Pitt to discover what happened to her and who kidnapped her. Meanwhile, a threat comes into the police threatening to kill Sofia unless her husband, back in Spain, denounces her as a Scarlet woman and home wrecker before the world and her audiences in England. So, of course, Pitt must also investigate what really happened in Spain, but his men are already being stretched thin, and while there are many rumors about what Sofia did in Spain, her brother, who happens to be a Trustee of the national Bank of England, so he sends Vespasia Cumming Gould and her new husband, his old Boss, Victor Narraway, to Spain to investigate. But can he and his men discover what has become of Sofia Delacruz, and more importantly, why she was kidnapped in the first place? And can he do it without creating an international incident? I actually liked  this book a lot, which delved into the religious feelings that her characters had or, in Pitt's case, rarely thought about. Sofia Delacruz preached the sort of Theology which wouldn't seem out of place today, but which would have been frowned on by many at the time. This made it an interesting and thought-provoking book for both reader and characters, but the outcome of why she was kidnapped and why the kidnappers wanted to discredit her led in a very different direction than I thought it would. This book is definitely recommended.

She Hulk: Law and Disorder by Charles Soule, Javier Pulido and Ron Wimberly- Jennifer Walters, Cousin of Bruce Banner, was a shy attorney when she took a bullet meant for him and only he could save her life with a blood transfusion. Now, she's an attorney who moonlights as a crimefighter, and spends most of her time in SHe-Hulk form. But when she breaks with the firm she formerly worked for over compensation issues, she takes on a case of a woman whose husband invented part of the Repulsor tech that Tony Stark, Iron Man, uses and goes after him to get compensation for the man's widow. With the money she gets from that case, she opens her own law office and goes to work on a case involving Victor Von Doom's son, who REALLY doesn't want to succeed his father. But can Jen, as She-Hulk really drive the point home? Then, she decides to investigate "The Blue File", a case she was assigned back when she worked for her original employers. But investigating this is actually dangerous and may not be capable of being solved. Can Jennifer and Patsy and her secretary get to the bottom of what is really going on? I didn't particularly like the art in this graphic novel, but the stories were solid and they were entertaining to read. Still slightly recommended.

The Avengers: Time Runs Out Volume 2 by Jonathan Hickman, Key Walker, Scott Hanna, Stefano Caselli, Szymon Kudranski, Mike Deodato and Mike Perkins- As the Illuminati's actions come home to roost, the Avengers are split in two. Iron Man is imprisoned and Spider Woman and the Black Widow track him down only to leave him there when he protests wildly that only he can save them. But as he does so, the Avengers are rent in two, with one side supporting the Illuminati, the other side the Cabal. And meanwhile, Valeria Richards warns both her father and Doctor Doom that neither can hope to win. What they have to do is not fail. But when the forced come to a clash, will they fight the real threat, or fight each other? And who will come out the winner when the Multiverses clash? This was only okay. I haven't read the first volume and I suspect it would be a little more understandable if I had. This graphic Novel is not one you just pick up and si down to read, so if you want to pick this one up on your own, it's a hard row to hoe. Apparently, the Illuminati have made mistakes and universes are being destroyed, and Black Swan, a hero from a different universe, has show up to try and get people to stop it. But the Illuminati, especially Iron Man, don't want to admit they were wrong, and so everything goes to hell in a handbasket very quickly. It's kind of depressing to read and I honestly had a hard time finishing it. Not recommended for me.

Shutter by Joe Keatinge, Leila DeLuca, Owen Gieni and Ed Brisson- Kate Kristopher used to be a world-reknowned explorer, but she's been retired for many years. Now, however, for some reason, someone is out to kill her. She isn't sure why, but apparently, she has siblings she never knew about and a younger brother who was born shortly before her father died. As Kate seeks to find out who is trying to kill her and why, she also has to stay alive and keep her newly discovered brother safe. But that's going to be harder than it her father raised her siblings as well. Going on the run with her brother and Alarm Clock Cat (who resembles a Felix the Cat clock, is she up to the challenge after years of being a normal person? This graphic novel looked interesting, and Kate's world is not our own, it has non-human races, magic and curses, among other things. I'd be interested in reading more, at least to find out why the rest of her siblings (save her younger brother) want her dead. I was more intrigued by the world Kate lives in than Kate herself, who seems like a standard "action girl" stereotype. This one was a meh, ranging into recommended territory.

Not Always a Saint by Mary J Putney- Daniel Herbert is a doctor who lives alone with his sister. Ever since his beloved died while he was away at school, he has done his best to give medical aid to everyone who needs it. One night, a young woman named Jane comes to him, battered by an abusive husband. He treats her and lets her go, but his sister decides to open a house for women who need shelter. Seven years later, his parents and brother die of the pestilence, leaving him lord of the manor, which he has a duty to perpetuate. He decides to go to London to find himself a wife, someone older, who can run the estates while he tends to the patients at his practice. Jessie Kelham is a very beautiful woman whose looks have always brought her trouble. Now that her beloved older husband is dead, she is left as guardian of their young daughter, who has inherited the estate. But her husband's older son is incensed that he didn't inherit and he hates Jessie. Afraid that he will bring a suit and take control of her daughter, she heads to London to find a husband, older and kind, who will not mind raising her daughter as his own. One night, they meet across a crowded ballroom, but Jessie is determined to avoid Daniel until she has no choice and their discovery in a room together forces them into an engagement and marriage that it seems both of them really want. But when Jessie's past comes back to haunt her, can she and Daniel win their way free to have a loving marriage that both want? I thought this was a wonderful romance. One of the plot twists I saw coming right away, as to why she turned him away at first, but her son-in-law forces her hand. I loved the hero, the heroine and pretty much everything that happened between them. There is not a thing wrong with this book Highly recommended.

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes- Cassie is very good at reading people, and has been her entire life. But when her mother was killed by a serial killer, she became able to read just about anyone. One night, while at work, she is approached by an arrogant boy who tells her to tell him how he takes his eggs. After he's left, he leaves behind a card for Agent Tanner of the FBI. It seems that Cassie is a natural profiler and they want her to join similarly gifted young people to solve cold cases. But all of her fellow "naturals" have something in their past to be ashamed of, like Dean, whose father was a serial killer and who shares Cassie's ability to profile people. Lia is a consummate liar, but is a human lie detector. Sloane is phenomenal with numbers and science, Michael can read the emotions of people. But when the serial killer from Cassie's past fixates on her, can she and her newfound friends use their ability to find the killer and capture them? I loved this book, which combines science, psychology and a really gripping story that pulled me in and kept me there. Each character is well crafted, and I didn't see the end coming. Highly recommended.

The Lazarus Curse by Tessa Harris- Thomas Silkstone is a young Physician living in London. He is approached by the Royal Society to catalogue a load of sample plants and animals recently retrieved from the West Indies. Of the three men on the expedition, two have died, and only one, the artist has been returned to London. Since Silkstone is a science-minded man, he is perfect for the job of cataloguing all the animals and plants from the expedition. But when the artist, and the specimen of calalue, a plant retrieved from the Indies goes missing, Silkstone must find out what happened to the artist and unravel the secrets of the plant, which is said to have the power to bring the dead back to life. Another problem that besets him is that of an escaped slave he finds in the street, neaten nearly to death. He brings Joseph back to his lodgings and cares for him there, but his master wants him back, and Silkstone's landlady is willing to betray them for the money. Meanwhile, on her estate, Thomas' lady love  Lydia Farrell, from whom he has been separated by force of law, must deal with matters at her estate and her newly returned son. But when she hires a new estate manager, has she found the right man? And when it becomes clear that people in charge of the British Empire want to use the Calalue to make their armies invincible and turn enemy soldiers into slaves, can Thomas discover what the herb really does and if this scheme will even work? I liked this book, and the ending really shocked me, but I liked the mix of old world and new, and the story of the calalue plant, which is more like the plant used in making Zombies rather than actually making people come back to life. This is a book I will want to read the next one of, just because of the shocking ending. Definitely recommended.

Vermonia Volume 8: The Return of the Queen by Yoyo- Unsuccessful at defending Vermonia despite all they have done and the lessons they have learned, the only pillar left standing is the pillar of Wind, which, unbalanced, is causing strange weather all over the land with unrestrained Yami magic  Now, they must defend the final pillar or Vermonia falls. Uro wants the Bolirium, but does it reside within the staff of the Queen, or does one of the warriors have it? And can they prevent Uro from getting it and protect the Queen when she reappears? The final battle was a fitting end for this series, and, as we get reminded, they have an entire life to live in their own world, aka "The Blue Star", but they will be able to visit Vermonia if they are needed, via the objects of power that they discovered. This short series was pretty good, and reminded me a bit of "Magic Knight Rayearth, at least a little. Recommended.

The Time of Contempt by Andrzej Sapkowski- The Kingdoms of Milfgard and the North are about to come to blows, and Geralt's ward, Ciri, who carried Elder Blood and is the last living princess of Cintra, is wanted by all parties in the war for their own purposes. Meeting up again with his love and sorceress,Yennifer, he reconciles with her and escorts her to the sorcerers conclave on the island of Thanedd. But intrigue is being plotted on the island, and even as Yennifer plans to enroll Ciri in the school there, Ciri doesn't want to be a sorceress. She would rather be a Witcher or have adventures. So when she runs away, she is found by Geralt and Yennifer both. They argue, make up and end up traveling to Thanedd together for the conclave. But something is going on. The intelligence services of various kingdoms and principalities have agents there, and someone wants the Conclave to collapse. When fighting breaks out, Geralt barely escapes with his life, Yennifer is captured in statuette form and Ciri escapes through a malfunctioning portal. Geralt goes in search of them both, but the Conclave erupts in flames, and many of the magicians are killed. But as he goes in search of both women, can he deal with the treachery of the Kings behind the chaos and find the women he loves? This was an interesting book. Geralt isn't into politics and intrigue, and it costs him big when trouble starts, and he's forced to battle innumerable foes. Likewise, Yennifer assumes that her magic and fellow magicians will keep her safe, only to be quite surprised when she fails. It's the carpet being jerked out from under everyone, and it's a big shock that separates everyone, with no sign, at the end, that they might ever find each other again. This book, this series, has quite a different feel to it than most Western Fantasy. A sort of world-weariness and distrust of government that you don't generally see in the West. Still, it's different enough to enjoy while remaining very readable. Recommended,

Friday, April 24, 2015

2015, Part 2

The Darkest Touch by Gena Showalter- Torin is an immortal warrior who opened Pandora's Box and was possessed by the Demon of Disease- every time he so much as touches someone, they grow sick, and if they don't die, they become a carrier. Keelycael is the Red Queen, the last of her kind, a Curator- also immortal and possessed of immense power. Both of them have been imprisoned in an otherworldly prison, and Keelycael is angry at Torin for killing her best friend, a human who was supposed to bring him comfort, but whom he touched and infected by mistake instead. While Keelycael wants nothing more than to rip Torin into teeny-tiny shreds, she also finds herself attracted to him like nobody she has ever met before. He seems a little sad and hesitant of hurting her, even if she wants to kill him. For his part, Torin knows that Keely, also known as the Red Queen, is deadly, but he thinks she is an extremely fine woman as well. So when he accidentally infects her, he is desperate to save her, not knowing that she will get under his skin before he can blink. She is also the only one who can find Pandora's Box and lock the demons it once contained away forever. But can he convince her to do so and save him and his friends? and once he's had a taste of her, can he ever give her up? Torin isn't the only one who wants Keely. Hades and Lucifer both want her on their side of the war they are fighting with each other, since whoever manages to get her help is guaranteed to win. The question is, can Torin win her heart before Hades, her old lover, can steal her away from him? I enjoyed this book a lot, both characters are imprisoned, but because Keely's friend has died of disease, She is quickly confused by her growing attraction to the mysterious Torin, but the cycle of them wanting to be with each other and Torin rejecting her because of his fears of causing her harm with the diseases generated by his demon quickly became annoying and tiring to me, because he never really takes the time to discuss his fears with Keely, he ends up rejecting her over and over, and regretting it only minutes or hours later. This happened no more than three or four times, but I still found it annoying. Aside from that, I liked the romance between the two characters, but some of it just annoyed me. Still Redcommended.

Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover by Sarah MacLean- Georgianna Pearson never really got a season, as she fell in love with a man who seduced her in a hayloft and got her pregnant, then left her. Covered in scandal when she was only sixteen, she has since returned, bent on revenge, as Chase, owner of The Fallen Angel, London's Most Notorious Gaming Hell. Here, the price of admittance is an important secret, and those who don't pay their debts are utterly ruined. But her three fellow owners are now all married, and Georgianna finds herself entering the marriage mart again to find a husband, one which will allow her daughter respectability and open doors closed to her as a bastard child. She has chosen Lord Langley, who she hopes she can get to the altar herself, without blackmail, even though his secret is also one she knows. But Duncan West, the most famous newspaperman in London, meets Georgianna at a ball, and is immediately intrigued by her. Though he has already satirized her in print, he finds himself sympathizing with her and wanting to help her in her quest- that is, if he doesn't reach out and take her for himself. And Georgianna wants him, too, even as she struggles for the title and respectability that Langley would bring her. But Duncan West has his own request to make of Chase, the proof that a powerful politician is guilty of Treason, one who holds West's own secrets over his head as blackmail. When such powerful desires collide, what can be the fallout? Will Anna choose love or a title, and can Duncan seduce her into his own arms? This is fourth in a quadrology of books, the others of which I have never read. But I really enjoyed this book, and wished I could have read the others as well (currently, the library I work for doesn't own them). I like Georgianna, so determined to get what she wanted for her daughter, whom she loved fiercely. I also loved Duncan, although he also came off as controlling occasionally, he, too, had a younger relative whom he loved, in this case, a sister, who could also be hurt by his secrets coming to light. I found the story surprisingly easy to read, and I really missed it when I had to put it down to do other things. I'd definitely recommend this book to other readers, and Sarah MacLean is a writer to watch. Highly recommended.

Green Lantern, Volume Five, Test of Wills by Robert Venditti, Billy Tan, Van Jensen, and Bernard Chang- The Guardians of Oa are gone, and the Green Lanterns are alone in the universe, which is a signal to those who resent these Guardians of Law and Order to try and bring them down. The Lanterns have discovered that using their powers is somehow depleting the universe, and will bring about its death that much sooner. With the Green Lanterns exiled from Earth in favor of the Red Lantern Guy Gardner, the Durlans shift shape to resemble Hal and use his image to declare that the Lanterns are now in charge of the Galaxy. Hal must find a way to convince a multitude of races and peoples that the Corps is not becoming an authoritarian organization hell-bent on controlling the Universe. But not even all the Lanterns are on his side, and something is preventing the rings from recognizing their true owners. Hal and the rest of the Lanterns of multiple spectrums must work together to restore order to the universe and honor to the name of the Corps. But can they succeed against an enemy that can take on anyone's shape? I don't normally read Green Lantern, but this one sort of appealed to me. It certainly made me remember Chameleon Boy from the Original Legion of Superheroes, but we can see why nobody trusts Durlans- here, they try to take over the entire galaxy. We also get to see that Reep Daggle's ancestor, Ren Daggle, was on the side of the Lanterns. It's a long, hard war that tests everyone, but it's an entertaining read, and I did enjoy the comic. Recommended, even for those who may not be Green Lantern fans.

Festive in Death by J.D. Robb- Sima, an employee of Trina, the lady who does makeup for Eve when she needs to be glamorous, discover the body of Sima's ex-boyfriend murdered in his apartment when they go to prank him, Trina calls Eve Dallas. The man, personal trainer Trey Ziegler, has been killed with a blow to the head from his bodybuilding trophy and a knife shoved into his heart  bearing the message, "Santa Says You've Been Bad! Ho Ho Ho!". Eve discovers that the trainer has over one hundred and sixty thousand dollars in his locker at work, and an herbal tea full of chemicals that mimic Zoner in his "Bag of Tricks". He's also been sleeping around on Sima, and she's not the only one he's played dirty tricks on. But who took it into their mind to kill him? Eve must investigate the death of a man she is coming to despise, while preparing for a holiday party with Roarke and her friends. But can she bring the true culprit to justice and unweave the tangled web the killer has created? Another excellent book by Nora Roberts, writing as J.D. Robb. I loved that the murdered man was a scumbag, but Eve really shines in this case, and she gets her man, so to speak, in both ways. I also loved the party things. Eve will never be a woman comfortable at a party, but I loved how she took the time to get everyone the perfect gift, Roarke included. I even liked the murder investigation, and how Eve uncovered the true murderer from a field of suspects. Another shot out of the park. Highly recommended.

Blood on the Water by Anne Perry- William Monk is a commander in the River Watch, and he and another watchman named Orme are out on the Thames when a pleasure boat named the Princess Mary explodes for seemingly no reason one night. Though Monk and Orme do their best to save people, there are many, almost two hundred people, who die. But before he can do much investigating, the case is taken away from him by the Home Office, because some of the dead were politically significant, and there is a dread of Foreign unrest, especially in Egypt, where the Suez Canal is being built. Suspicion centers around a man named Habib Beshara, an Egyptian who may have criminal connections, who debarked the boat before it left the dock. What the investigators cannot discover is a motive- why did he do it? After a trial, he is quickly convicted, with public sentiment being that he is surely guilty. However, shortly after his conviction, it is discovered that he is dying, and therefore is saved from execution,which angers many people. Worse, though, is that Monk discovers one of the men at the trial who testified to Beshara's whereabouts was clearly lying, and thus, the conviction must be overturned and the true culprit found. But when they do find the man who may actually be responsible, can Monk also discover the reason for the crime? And what will that reason reveal about the true state of Britain's involvement in the Suez and the conduct of their soldiers there? This book is like two mysteries in one. First there is the investigation by the home office, the second by Monk himself, both of which are very well done. Like Monk, we can feel his frustration when the first investigation seizes on the easy culprit of Habib Beshara, and when they stop looking for the real culprit and instead try to convict the suspect they already have. And in the second we identify with the danger as someone attempts to kill Monk to prevent him from finding the true killer and the reason for the sabotage. Anne Perry does very well at making us sympathize and feel for (and with) Monk as he attempts to get to the bottom of the mystery, and in the end, we feel something for the villain of the piece as well. Not enough to sympathize with him, but enough that we can see why he felt he was justified in killing so many people. Highly recommended.

Trust No One by Jayne Ann Krentz- Grace Elland found and killed a murderer back when she was only sixteen. Since then, she has mostly gotten over her post traumatic stress syndrome. But when she finds the body of her boss, Sprague Witherspoon, dead in his room with a bottle of Vodka close at hand, she finds it hard to control her jitters- because the brand of Vodka is the same one that she was forced to use to kill the man who was going to kill her when she was only sixteen. Now under more stress than ever, as the police seem to blame her for murder, or for the siphoning of money from Witherspoon's accounts. She is invited to dinner by her friends, Irene and Devlin, to dinner and a blind date at their home. But Grace suspects that Devlin, who also happens to be the chief of Police, is trying to decide if she really is guilty and called in her date, Julius Arkwright, to get another opinion. And she is right, but Julius Arkwright, though he makes a very bad initial impression on Grace, is intrigued by her and senses that she is not guilty of any kind of crime. In fact, she seems to be haunted, and when she confesses that someone has been e-mailing and texting her Witherspoon's daily affirmations subtly changed into threats, he can see the effect it has on her. But who is behind the killing of Witherspoon and who wants Grace dead, and why? Though Grace is attracted to Julius, and he to her, she hires him to help her plot out a new career for herself, and inadvertently ends up getting involved with Julius' ex, who left him for his business partner and whose family business is now failing and nearly dead. His ex is assuming that Julius is behind it, but, to be honest, he's lost interest in being a venture Capitalist. As he finds a new career for Grace, can he find a new career for himself as well? I liked this book, even though it had nothing to do with any of the psychic powers universes that Jayne Ann Krentz (aka Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle) usually writes. Like her earlier novel "Soft Focus", this one is completely grounded in the normal business world. But Grace comes off as a sort of naïf who doesn't seem to notice that she is the only one who has her Boss' best interests at heart. She is literally the only worker in the office who didn't have something going on the side, and while there is more than one "Bad guy", the ending of the story managed to shock me.. in a good way. I had no idea, right up to the end, who the bad guy/bad guys were, nor why they were out after Grace. And the connection to her life came totally out of left field, although, to be honest, she only did this through narrative slight of hand. This was a good book, but the book isn't always telling the truth about the facts, which will definitely leave you feeling left out at the end of the mystery. Still, recommended.

The Seelie Wars, Book One: The Hostage Prince by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple- Snail is an apprentice midwife of the UnSeelie Court, working for Mistress Softhands. The Faerie Queen of the Seelie Court is pregnant and due to give birth soon, and all three midwives and their apprentices are needed for the birth. But when something goes wrong and the Queen detects magic being used against her, she fires back, killing one of the apprentice midwives and causing the other midwives and their apprentices to be imprisoned and questioned under torture. Prince Aspen is the Seelie Prince who is assigned to the UnSeelie Court as a hostage. But when his tutor reveals that war is going to be declared, he helps Aspen to prepare for departure- as when open war breaks out, Aspen's life will be forfeit- as will that of the UnSeelie Prince in his father's court. Fleeing to save his own life, Aspen encounters Snail, and the two of them join forces to save themselves. But all is not as it seems, and the Ferryman between the Seelie and UnSeelie kingdoms forces Aspen to ask all he meets three questions that might free the Ferryman known as the Stickman. And Snail finds herself far more useful to the quest to get to the Seelie lands than Aspen. But can she develop feelings for a boy who often treats her life a slave, and sometimes like a friend? And what will happen between the Seelie and UnSeelie realms now that Aspen has fled? This book sets up the entire trilogy that follows and it does a very good job of that, even as to what kind of creature Snail is, and why she alone is able to do things that no other faery can do. I liked the story and both of the characters, and I liked how the two of them made it to freedom by working together. An excellent book and one kids will really enjoy, although it's slightly more girl-centric since the series is more about Snail than Aspen. Recommended.

The Seelie Wars, Book 2: The Last Changeling by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple- Snail and Aspen made it to the Seelie Court, but were forced to flee from there as well when they discovered that Aspen had been lied to, and no war had been declared. But with Aspen's flight from the UnSeelie Court, that had led to war, and so now Aspen and Snail, renamed Nomi have taken to the road as a minstrel and his helper. But the leader of the circus they fall in with, Professor Odds, seems very interested in Snail and rather contemptuous of Aspen. All in all, Professor Odds is very odd indeed and seems to have an ulterior motive for taking them both on. Snail, apparently, is not all she seems, and the professor is fomenting revolt against both the Seelie and UnSeelie for their crimes against another race, and he wants Snail to join their ranks because of who and what she is. But when Seelie and UnSeelie clash, Aspen's father is killed, and Aspen must take the throne. But can Snail and Aspen's friendship survive the revelations to come, and can Aspen and Snail take out the person who is really behind the whole war? Another really excellent book that continues the patterns set in the first book- Snail is the more important character, but we do get to see at least some answers to Stickman's questions from the first book. Fleshing out the story and helping us see the bigger picture for once, this is an excellent story and very readable. Recommended.

The Hoarder in You by Dr, Robin Zasio- Robin Zasio has worked with many hoarders and "collectors" whose homes and lives were overwhelmed by the stuff they go and refused to get rid of, which overtook their houses and their lives. Dr. Zasio looks at hoarding, why it happens and why it isn't so easy to deal with- you can force the people who hoard to throw their things out, but if you don't deal with the underlying issues, the problem will always reoccur- you must deal with the psychological reasons for the hoarding before you can have the hoarders get rid of their things. And the reasons can be varied. The main problem with hoarders is that they cannot deal with being able to not buy things, or pick up what seems to be trash that they feel they can repair. And even if you aren't a hoarder, you can be a collector- and Dr. Zasio also covers how to deal with your collections so that they won't take over and become the basis of hoarding. With the same rules she uses on the "Extreme Hoarders" show, she shows you how to deal with the items you have accumulated, and where to get help if you need it with your hoarding. I felt this was a good book o read. I am a collector, but I feel I could turn into a hoarder if bad things happened, so I was interested in seeing what she recommended. I found this book very helpful, and I definitely think it could be helpful to others. Highly recommended.

The Truth About Nature: A Family's Guide to 144 Common Myths about the Great Outdoors by Stacey Tornio and Ken Keffer- Nature is beautiful, and we often treasure wisdom hanged down to us by our parents, grandparents and other people. Some of this "wisdom" is wrong. Separated into four categories based on season, this book debunks common misconceptions about nature, from the story that "Squirrels remember where they bury their nuts for the winter", "Bees die after they sting you", "Flower Bulbs are Always Planted in the Fall" or "Mice Eat Cheese". These are given debunked and discussed as to why they are wrong. Interspersed with the discussion and debunking of myths are pages where readers are prompted to do actual science, and discussions about larger issues about animals and biology. If you like animals and have taken a college-level biology class, or even watch lots of programs about animals on the Learning Channel or the Discovery Channel (or Animal Planet), you'll almost certainly know most of the true facts already. Still, it's not a bad book, and really is more meant for parents to read with their kids rather than for adults to read on their own. It's not a bad book by any means- full of information, facts and illustrations. A cut above for parents wanting to be sharing science and biology information with their kids. Recommended.

Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder- Avry wasn't a healer until she was poisoned by a death Lily. When she survived its venom, it unlocked her magic and made her a Healer. Then She was kidnapped by Kerrick, Prince of Alga, to resurrect the King of Alga, Ryna, who had been locked in magical stasis. Now that Ryne is back to normal, Avry wants to return to Zabin, where she goes undercover to help the soldiers, teaching them how woodcraft and how to move silently in the forest, hoping it will help them when King Tohon's troops, an army of the dead, arrive to conquer the country. She has plans to reveal herself as a healer before Tohon's troops invade, but until then, she wants to do something more proactive to help her people. Meanwhile, Kerrick goes north to rouse the people of Alga. Ryne is Kerrick's brother, and Ryne is to head to Zabin first. But when the tribes of the north attack Kerrick's troops, he is taken prisoner, along with his young cousin, who stowed away in the baggage train and who is being used by the tribes to control Kerrick's behavior and to extort him into not escaping. As Kerrick lives among the tribe and slowly gains their trust, he treats with them to come and help the Kingdoms fight against the menace of Tohon, who leads an army of the dead. But his delay with the tribes gives Tohon the means to conquer Zabin and Tohon, who wants Avry for his own, takes her prisoner, intending to seduce her to his side. And, he has Avry's sister, Noelle, to threaten to keep Avry in line. Avry will need all the help she can get- from both the death Lilies and the Peace Lilies, if she is to help defeat Tohon's army and wipe out the menace of hus undead. But can she do so without losing everyone and everything she had come to love and care for? I didn't read the first book in this trilogy (and the third book hadn't been released yet), so I was a bit at sea when starting this novel. That being said, the backstory reminded me a great deal of "Poison Study", but in a slightly different way. And how Avry fell in love with the man who imprisoned her, like Yelena did Valek (and how similar the ending sounds Valek and Kerrick are... But I liked the story and how Avry was determined to do the right thing. Despite how similar the stories of Avry and Yelena were, I did like this book and found it a good read.

Cast in Sorrow by Michelle Sagara- Kaylin Neya is a Hawk in Service to the Ruler of Elantra. One of the races who dwell there are the Barrani, elf like creatures who are functionally immortal (can be killed by damage, but who do not die of age. The Barrani don't like Kaylin because she survived a test which most Barrani fail or choose not to take. The idea that a mere human could succeed where Barrani fail is distasteful to them, and most of them would rather kill her or let her die rather than live as an embarrassment to their race. Even so, not every Barrani hates her. One of Kaylin's closest friends is Teela, a fellow Hawk. So when Kaylin is invited to a special Barrani ceremony deep in the woods, she must accept, and Teela comes with her to safeguard her. But then Kaylin's home is firebombed with a mage bomb, and it has two different magical signatures on it. However, Kaylin seems to be the only person who can see the second signature. Plus, people are disappearing from the fiefs, and the same mage signatures. Who could be stealing people, and why? Can Kaylin discover the secret before she must leave for a Barrani Ceremony? I really like this series. which I started reading years ago, Kaylin has discovered more about the glyphs on her skin, but not why they are there or why she was chosen to be the one who carries them. This book delves into the story of the fiefs and why people are going missing, and she begins to travel to the ceremony she will be taking pert in. But even here, someone is trying to kill her, and she must fight back to survive not only hostile Barrani, but the other "lost" Barrani who want to regain An'Teela and their names,. An excellent book looking at a uniquely alien society. Highly recommended.

Cast in Peril by Michelle Sagara- Kaylin neya was invited to take part in a Barrani ceremony. But on her way there, she was chosen by fate to wear the dress of the Teller, who fulfills a unique role in the Barrani ceremony. But when attacked the "Lost Barrani who once took part in the naming Ceremony with her fellow Hawk An'Teela, the party of Barrani and Hawks must take shelter with the Lord of West March, who is related to the Barrani Consort. But something is happening inside the forest, related to the lost Barrani. The ceremony requires Kaylin to tell a story in a way that the Barrani can understand. It's possible that this will cause the Lost Barrani Ferals to be reclaimed and get their names, or it could unmake the world. When the Consort  is sunk into a coma, it is Kaylin, as a healer and user of magic to rescue the Consort's spirit from whatever has it now. But will Kaylin be able to fulfill her duties to the Green and to the Consort and fulfill her part in the ceremony in a successful way? Or will she do the green even more harm than it has already suffered> And will she survive the ceremony to return to Elantra at the end? Another excellent book in a great series. Kaylin and the Consort have a strained relationship, as well as with the rest of the Barrani. The only thing that gives them comfort is that Kaylin is merely mortal, and will only be around for what seems a short time to the Barrani. It was kind of strange seeing things through Barrani eyes, but in the end, although I only understood a bit more about these enigmatic elf-like beings  it was a welcome change from knowing even less. An excellent continuation to the story from the last book. Hihgly recommended.

Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King- After being on a mission for Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock Holmes and his American wife Mary Russell plan to go on to California to deal with unfinished family business. But on the ship there, which will also pass through Canton and Japan, they meet a young Japanese woman named Haruki Satp, who Mary is intrigued by while Holmes deals a lesson to the son of th Earl of Darley. While his father is a known (to Holmes) blackmailer, the son is a card cheat, and Holmes teaches young Darley a lesson by being a better cheater. But Miss Sato turns out to be more than a mere well-educated foreigner, and her family needs help in dealing with a Blackamiler who is seeking to extort monies from the Emperor of Japan with a missing copy of a very special book whom the Emperor should not have given away when he was a young man. Darley, the Blackmailer is summarily dealt with, but when the Blackmailer strikes again, Haruki is sent to England to deal with the aftermath. Can Holmes and Mary Russell help her find the missing book, and the map which it was supposed to hold? And can they be entirely comfortable with the motives of Haruki Sato?? I loved this book, and the glimpse we get of the true Japan before it was so highly Westernized. I loved the character moments, and the multiple reveals at the end. This was a really excellent mystery and I read it through in less than a day. An excellent book, well-researched and full of story. Highly recommended.

Mangaman- story by Barry Lyga and illustrated by Colleen Doran- Ryoko Kiyana is a transplant from far away- not Japan, but another dimension, another reality. Stunned by his appearance, he is kept on a military base as Dr. Capeletti tries to figure out how he got here and send him home, repairing a rift through which monsters called Kaiju occasionally break through into our world from the spaces between "our" reality and others. But when Kiyoko begins falling for Marissa Montaigne, who has fallen out of love with her current boyfriend, it causes trouble in her school, which he has also begun to attend.  However, nobody but Marissa seems to like him. He leaves behind speed lines and sweat drops in his wake, but  she is intrigued by him, and as a castaway from another dimension, he can see through the edges of the panels, and discovers that not only can he see past the edges of the panel, he can walk though them as well And he teaches Marissa to do the same. But when Marissa's ex-boyfriend decides to challenge Ryoko to a fight, it works against him as none of Ryan's punches hurt Ryoko's, while Ryoko's fighting prowess sends her ex to the hospital. Ryoko only wanted to get back home, but now he has Marissa to distract him... Will he want to find his way back after falling for Marissa? I really liked this book The story was intriguing, with a nominally manga character interacting with Western comic book characters, but ultimately Ryoko falls a bit flat for fans of manga, his world seems to be a mashup of various genres of manga (his girlfriend is an ex-magical girl who used to have a locket that could change her in any way she wanted. She changed into a boy, and the locket was broken, leaving her a boy in girl's clothing. And Ryoko's appearance is "off", even by Manga's standards. But I really enjoyed the story, and the ending, while something also of a disappointment to me, was still pretty wonderful. Good for fans of both manga and comics, there is a lot to love here, some disappointments, but I found the story to be wonderful nevertheless, Recommended

Castaway Planet by Eric Flint and Ryk E. Spoor- The Kimei family are traveling on the Ship Outward Bound to a new planet to help start a colony when there is an accident and their ship/Shuttle is separated from the rest of the Outward Bound mid-flight. With them is Sakura's friend, "Whips", real name Harratrer, a Europan "Bemmie" are on the Kimei family pod after the accident, and separated from the other ships in Hyperdrive, the family must find a planet on which to survive until being rescued. However, shortly after touchdown on the planet, their ship is lost, and the family and Whips must survive on a planet with nearly no resources and alien life which is mostly hostile. They need to make what they can to survive and thrive, but can they ever be rescued, in the wide vastness of space? This book is science fiction, and I thought it was a stand-alone novel, until I saw it was the new novel in the "Boundary series. As I haven't read any of the others, I can't say if the Kimei family will appear again in the future, but I pretty much loved the book, which is pretty much a sci-fi retelling of the Swiss family Robinson in space. Most of the action devolves around the family surviving and thriving around the planet's challenges, so if you are expecting something more action-oriented, you are going to be disappointed. But for someone who enjoys a more "Man vs Nature" (even if the "man" is often the 14-year old Hitomi Kimei, an aspiring pilot) will enjoy this book very much. Each of the family helps the others to survive, headed by Laura Kimei, a physician and her husband, Akira Kimei, biologist. Along with Sakura's sisters, 7 year old Hitomi, 10 year old Melody and Caroline, an aspiring 17 year old  geologist. Each of the family is given lots to do, and their struggle to survive is quite affecting and interesting. There is some action in the family's interactions with the local wildlife, but this book is rather more sedate and slower paced. Recommended, but be sure you know what you are getting before you pick this up.

Once More My Darling Rogue by Lorraine Heath- Drake Darling is ennobled now, but he was once a commoner and because of that, many in society will never accept him as good enough. Especially not Lady Ophelia Lyttleton, who spends her time snubbing him and giving him the cut direct. But when she is abducted and thrown into the Thames, she loses her memory and is found by Drake, who decides to take his revenge by telling her she is his housekeeper and making her be his servant for a day. But the ruse lasts for far longer than that because he is afraid of what she might do to him for playing the prank on him. And then, he finds himself attracted to her, by her inability to let animals or orphans be abused, and how she somehow inserts herself into every corner of his life. As for Opehia, she becomes very attracted to Drake, and even gives him everything. But when she regains her memory unexpectedly (at the sight of an old friend), she is devastated by what he is done and is angry that he didn't stop her from giving him everything. But when she must rescue her aunt from a husband who she thinks is trying to poison her, she needs Drake's help. The question is, can she trust him every again? I found this book, okay. I felt that Drake should have owned up to what was going on much sooner, and he comes across as a real ass about using Ophelia like he does. Yes, she is very cruel to him, so he feels like he has a reason, but not wanting to face up to what he'd done made him look rather weak. The romance was otherwise okay, and he does give her abuser a highly satisfying (Metaphorical) boot to the rear, so that was a good ending. But if you dislike the idea of a man being cruel to a woman who has been made an amnesiac, you must not be as forgiving of what Drake does. Heck, I didn't even like it. Neither recommended nor not recommended. Your mileage about the hero may vary.

The Once and Future Duchess by Sophia Nash- After a scandalous night of drinking and debauchery, Prinny, the Prince Regent, has decided that it is time to make those around him marry, and his next candidate is James, Duke of Candover, who has an absolute aversion to marriage after two failed engagements. Isabelle Tremont, the Duchess of March, has loved James from afar for a long time, but when he refuses to marry her (because he claims he cannot inflict on her a marriage without love and affection, they agree to each "vet" candidates for marriage for each other, as Isabelle has also be ordered to marry by Prinny. But while Isabelle battles a broken heart, James finds himself unable to suggest her an alternate candidate for marriage that he can stomach marrying her. Isabelle was long his friend, and as each tries their best for each other, he finds that his emotions are engaged on her behalf anyway. But can he swallow his pride enough to suck it up and admit to his love for her and propose marriage to her? And can Isabelle accept his apology and give her heart wholeheartedly to James when she had been metaphorically slapped in the face by his lack of interest? Will their be wedding bells between them after all? This book had a very interesting pemise, and I rather like James coming to terms with his feelings when he realizes that he can't bear to see his old friend love another and realize he has feelings for her after all. As for Isabelle, she has to get over her feelings of hurt and realize that James doesn't really know how he feels about much at all. Recommended.

Night Shift by Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Lisa Shearing and Milla Vane. This short story collection has four tales of shapeshifters and magic. Nalini Singh contributes "Secrets at Midnight". Bastien Smith hasn't yet found his mate. But when he is intrigued by a scent carried on a female relative, he discovers her: a human teacher named Kirby, he finds himself getting worried for her: she is having srange symptoms: vomiting, pain and weakness. Then he discovers that Kirby is an orphan whose parents died in a fire, and his wanting to help her find her family makes him discover all her secrets- like how she may not be human after all... Illona Andrews contributes "Magic Steals". introduces Tigress Dali Hanimau, who is in love with Jim Shropshire, leader of Clan Cat. There is an incursion of Eastern demons and curses invading her neighborhood, which is good because Dali's job, which she was born into, is to take care of threats just like these. But when Jim tags along, Dali thinks that he will find out just how weak she is and reject her. But Jim doesn't seem to mind... "Lucky Charms" by Lisa Shearin, has Makenna Frazier, a seer from the south, starting her first day on the job with SPI, Supernatural Protection and Investigations, when she discovers that all the seers before her have died, and messily, on the job, Luckily, her partner, Ian Byrne, has been set to look after her by the head of SPI, Vivian Sagadraco, an actual dragon. But their first case turns out to be looking for a Leprechaun Prince who disappeared during his own bachelor party, and everything goes downhill from there..."The Beast of Blackmoor" by Milla Vane has a female warrior woman who seeks to bring down a threat to people deep in a forbidden land, and her only guide is a warrior who failed to defeat that same menace long ago. But when he begins to develop feelings for her, and she for him, will he crew everything up when he tries to deny his feelings? This was a great collection I loved every single story, but to my mind the best was "Lucky Charms", because it had to set up a whole universe and I loved the many different story threads. It was the standout story to me in a book filled with standout stories. Though each is quite different, together, they make the perfect little packet of story goodness. Highly recommended.

Ill Wind by Rachel Caine- Joanne Baldwin is a Weather Warden with control over air. But when her senior mage, Big Bob Burlingame, wants to see her, she has no idea that he is actually host to a demon- until he puts it into her. Now Joanne is infected, and the only way she can get rid of the Demon without dying is to get a Djinn and get it to take the demon from her and host it himself, which will save her and doom the Djinn. But Joanne hasn't got a Djinn and has no way to get one. Unless she can speak with her old friend, former Weather Warden Lewis. Lewis, however, is no longer a Weather after stealing three Djinn Bottles from the Wardens. Joanne needs to ask him for a Djinn. but he's disappeared. On the way to Oklahoma, where divination tells Joanne she can find him, she picks up a hitchhiker named David, who she ends up catapulting into a relationship with. Wanted for killing "Bad Bob" by the other Weather Wardens, she also has them on her tail, wanting to catch her and take her powers away from her. Can Joanne elude them, find Lewis and stay alive while removing her Demonic Taint? Or will she lose her race against time? I loved this book. We get to live inside Joanne's skin, inside her mind, and it makes the book seem very real and immediate. Joanne loves fast cars and handsome men, and the story of how she came to know Lewis is actually rather amusing. I enjoyed every bit of this thrill ride of a book. Highly recommended.

Heat Stroke by Rachel Caine- Joanne was saved from her demon, but at a high cost. David, her lover, turned out to be a very powerful Djinn and he turned her into a Djinn as well. Now Joanne must come to terms with her new form and learn what it's like to be in the same position as the Djinn that she and other Weather Wardens have done through the years. And she has come to the attention of Jonathan, the leader of the Djinn, who decrees that Joanne must be trained, but not by David, who is too close to her emotionally. Instead, she is given to another former human turned Djinn named Patrick, who enslaves her to teach her some hard lessons about the nature of Djinn. But as David is trying to close a hole in the Aether that has suddenly appeared, Joanne is enslaved again, this time to another Warden, who passes Joanne to her son, who treats her like a slutty variation on "I Dream of Jeannie". Joanne must learn to use the usual tricks that the Djinn use to thwart those they do not want to serve. And when the woman Warden enslaves David, Joanne must work to free him before the woman can order him to make her his lover… or kill Joanne. And there is still that hole in the Aether to deal with which apparently only Joanne can. Fresh out of freedom and fresh out of ideas, Joanne must find a way to free herself and take care of the hole, even if it means dying once again… This was unusual, in that Joanne finds out what it is like to be a slave, to not have a choice in who she serves, just like the Djinn who work with the Weather Wardens. And when she finds out that her own existence is responsible for the hole in the Aether, and that she has made David less powerful simply by existing, it's hard not to want to sacrifice herself to save his life. In short, Joanne is delivered of a lot of shocks, and she still manages to rise above them and live. Very excellent, and highly recommended.

Chill Factor by Rachel Caine- Now human again, Joanne is sent to Las Vegas where her former human "master from when she was a Djinn has set himself up in style and is ruling over the city. Kevin, who has been abused by his mother and had a really terrible life, may be somewhat sympathetic, but now that he has power, he's ruling over everyone and everything. And she isn't the only one who wants to stop him... Who is this secretive organization called Ma'at, and why is she having flashbacks to the first time she was sent to Las Vegas? Because the last time she was in Vegas, the man she was sent to investigate turned out to be using his powers to profit... and "Disappearing" the people who were sent to investigate if he couldn't bribe them to ignore his "irregularities". But when Joanne survived he and his partner's attempts to "disappear" her, she came back to kick his butt. Now, his father blames Joanne for his son's death, and he's the leader of Ma'at. So while they offer her help to get rid of Kevin, it doesn't mean that they have her best interests in mind. And even if she can take care of Kevin, does that mean she actually needs to kill him? And will she want to keep up her association with the Wardens when they have screwed her over so thoroughly? Another really good book, this one has Joanne dealing with the menace of Kevin, who has decided to go to Vegas and live out every dream he'd ever had. But this book through lots of twists and turns at Joanne, and revealed some of her backstory, making her that much more kickass.. The ending was also a surprise, both parts of it. Highly Recommended.

Windfall by Rachel Caine- Joanne Baldwin used to be a Weather Warden, but now she's trying t live life at an ordinary girl. And to be honest... she's not doing very good at it. She's living in Florida and working with the local weatherman. But she's certain he's hiding something. But she no longer cares to find out. Even though she and the other assistant weathergirl, Cherise are being constantly humiliated on the show, they are more interested in drinking, shopping and sunbathing. After all, that's normal life in the south for a pretty young girl right? Until Joanne's sister is left by her husband and she gets nothing, and even then, her sister meets a handsome, polite Brit who she seems to have fallen in love with, and he with her, while David is slowly dying, and needs her energy to survive, do most of the time, he must spend it in his bottle. Add to the mix a revenge-obsessed cop who wants Joanne to admit she killed his partner, her sister pending lots of Joanne's money because she is addicted to shopping, a scheme involving destroying real estate for money, and man who wants Joanne to heal his ex-lover whom he may have nearly tortured to death, and Joanne is in for a real hum-dinger of s time. And that isn't even with the approaching hurricane.. The readers who find the Weather Warden series exciting are going to find this one a change of pace. All Joanne seems to interested in is having nice clothes, a perfect bronzed beach body and men. All the female characters are like that, which was rather disappointing. But some of the characters still managed to surprise me, and all of the female characters managed to ride above the stereotype for a while (except for one, and I wasn't expecting much from her anyway, to be truthful).I loved the comeuppance the "handsy" meteorologist got, but things look a little bleak for David towards the end. He seems to be going Ifrit..I hope not. But I'm willing to read more to find out. Recommended.

Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop- Meg is a Cassandra Sangue, a blood prophet, who sees things in visions when she cut herself. But each blood prophet only has 1000 cuts in them and after that, they die. So the Others, the monster-like native that populate America, have taken her in under their wing, because unlike other humans, she doesn't smell like prey. She isn't the only Cassandra Sangue around. The others rescued the imprisoned Cassandra Sangue and tried to return them to their proper homes. But now the Cassandra Sangue are committing suicide in large numbers, or dying because of trying to cut themselves without their razors and dying from blood loss. What makes Meg so different? How was she able to survive when so many of her sister in Power are dead? Meg and her human friends must find ways to articulate how she keeps herself sane in an-ever changing, expanding world. And other humans have other Cassandra Sangue in "Breeding factories" which are now illegal to use. Unable to pray for raising the girls, they are dumping them on roads, pregnant and alone, but only after making them fear the others, first./ On top of this, some humans in the old World, like Cel-Romano, want the humans in Thasia to rise up against the Others. There is a motivational speaker in charge of the "Humans First and Last". A human from Lakeside, Monty, the policeman, his daughter is found travelling alone on a train, and has been taken in hand by a Pedophile, He protects her, and when they reach Lakeside,  They discover a stash of valuable gems hidden inside her bear, and blood on the outside. Gems from Jewelry that humans claim was stalen by others, but which some humans think is money being funneled to HFL. Can Meg save her fellow humans and Cassandra Sangue from starting a war with the Others, sure to end badly, very badly, for the humans? I has assumed that this was a trilogy, but now it seems it's going to be longer, and I was relieved to hear that, because I love this series and the hints of a romance that seem to be developing between Meg and Simon Wolfgaard. I like the sort of "picks sides thing developing, but I am quite sure that this isn't going to end well for the arrogant humans. Not all the humans are arrogant, of course, but the readers sympathies are definitely going to be with the Others in this The arrogant humans across the sea deserve to get their butts handed to them, and it will be interesting to see if this can end without the arrogant ones being wiped out. Highly recommended- can't wait for the next book!

The Witch with No Name by Kim Harrison- Now that Rachel Morgan is in a relationship with her former boss, Trent, an elf, and she has defeated a problem with magic and the elven Goddess, everything should be coming up roses for her, right? Not so much... The vampires want their souls back. Rachel could give them to the vampires, but she knows that for most of the elder vamps, it will be a death sentence. Now, she isn't necessarily opposed to killing them, but the vampires who are left can and will run wild without the older vampires there to control them. Plus Al, Rachel's mentor among the demons, wants nothing to do with her after she helped the elves, who are trying to exterminate the demons. The last thing that Rachel expects is an offer of help from the elves. But when the Elves conspire to rid themselves of the Demons, the Vampires and their problematic goddess all at once, it's up to Rachel to stop them before they damage the world irreparably, but can she defeat the Elven High Priest before he does something he cannot undo? Or will her solution be worse than the problem? This is the final Rachel Morgan book, and it was nice to see the threads get all gathered together and nicely tied up at the end. Everybody gets what they deserve and the demons get redeemed, such as they are. I liked the sting in the tail about how the elves also get what they deserved and that Rachel and Trent get a happy life together at last. Recommended.

Twice Tempted by Eileen Dreyer- Five years ago, Alex Knight thought he'd saved his friend Ian's sister from homelessness and disgrace by returning her to the home of her grandfather. But when it seems Ian has been killed, her grandfather brutally rejects her and casts she and her sister Maeve out onto the street. Now, Fiona has fond dreams of Alex and the single kiss they shared, but she cannot forget that Alex dumped her with her uncle who rejected her and her sister so brutally. But when it turns out that there are people out after her and her sister, Fiona must turn to Alex to keep her safe from those who would kill her and discover what she and her sister might have taken that would make them a target. And as for Alex, e's never forgotten the kiss he shared with Fiona. Can he keep her and Maeve safe from a nest of enemy spies while she and her sister decipher the new message that could endanger Alex and his friends? And Can Alex save his father, who seems determined to work himself to death? I loved this bok, which took several romance conventions and turned them on their heads. First of all, Maeve, who seems younger and more childlike than Maeve (and who, in light of modern diagnoses, is clearly on the autism spectrum) is actually the older sister to Fiona rather than being younger, and while Maeve could be the subject of a sequel, her romance is happening at the same time as Fiona's. Otherwise, the tropes were well-used and I liked how both sisters were brilliant, each in their own way. I liked Alex and Fiona (and Maeve and Chuffy) a lot, and since the book revolves around all of them, this was a very good thing. The romance and the plot were satisfying, and I found the ending delightful. Highly recommended,

Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder- Avry is a healer, able to absorb the hurts of others into herself, who heals wounds and diseases with ease. But instead of being celebrated, she is hunted, because Healers like Avry are being blamed for a plague that decimated the Fifteen Realms, and are hunted to extinction. But when compassionate Avry slips and heals a child, it turns the city where she has taken refuge against her, and she is captured. Freed by a group of what she thinks are bandits, Avry discovers that the leader of the group, Kerrick, wants her to heal Prince Ryne, who was infected with the plague and who is being held prisoner by Tohon, a death Magician who wants Avry for his own ends. But Avry has been learning while she is with Kerrick and his men, and she has discovered the truth of where the plague came from what she might need to do to save the Fifteen Realms. But can she do so without falling for either of the men who she suspects wishes to use her? And can one woman with healing powers heal the realms and return peace to the world? I read this book after the second book in the series, and I was honestly stunned at how bleak Avry's position is at the start of the book. Obviously, as Fantasy novels with a strong romantic element, Avry does end up with one of the men, and since I'd read the second book, I knew who it was going to be. Even so, I liked the story of how she and Kerrick grew closer and learned from each other, and the powers that each of them had. Even Tohon, the villain of the piece, was handled well, and you could see why Avry would be attracted to him. Excellent book and definitely recommended,

Taste of Darkness by Maria V. Snyder- Avry might have taken care of Tohon, placing him into the same kind of stasis that he'd once put Prince Ryne into, but his lieutenants are still active, as well as other threats, still plague the fifteen Realms. And Tohon's army of the dead is still on the march as well. But now Kerrick is missing, and Avry must deal with threats on her own while Kerrick, who is tied deeply to the forest, must discover how to undo to himself what he did to wind up in this condition in the first place. And he and Avry must make the Realms safe for everyone, and restore the rulers of the various regions to their thrones. But how can they when there is so much unrest, and Tohon sis till manipulating events from behind the scenes, even in stasis? I loved this final book, which I had been waiting to read ever since the second one. Plenty more happens to both Avry and Kerrick, and Tohon, even though he's supposed to be in an unbreakable stasis. Avry raises her own dead soldier, and finally finds the cure for the plague which Tohon created. The ending was wonderful and sort of triumphal for Avry and Kerrick, and I liked the outcome of what happened to the both of them, and how they ended up bonded and loving each other. Highly recommended ending to the series. Definitely worth the read.

Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs- Charles, son of the Marrok, or highest ranking werewolf in America takes Anna to the southwest to buy her a real riding horse that can be her own. He's also going to be meeting an old friend of his, Joseph, who he met when Joseph was a young man and they broke horses on ranches together. But now Joseph is old and dying, and although Charles offered to change him into a werewolf years ago, Joseph chose not to be changed. Charles is apprehensive about seeing Joseph again, as Joseph has never changed his mind. However, something in the area is making people go crazy and attempt to kill children, including the wife of one of the pack wolves who happens to be pure human. But when the rage infects her and tries to make her kill her children, she fights back and the only way to save her is to change her into a wold, and Charles is asked to do it. Complicating the situation is a fey who may be kidnapping children and an FBI investigation into a missing child that ask Anna and Charles for help. Can they uncover the true culprits and buy Anna a new riding horse without getting killed, or will Charles find this case as stressful as being an enforcer to his father Bran, the Marrok? And will be finally be able to relax into his new role, whatever it happens to be? As for Anna, as the only nown Omega Wolf, can she soothe and heal the wounds between Charles and his friend Joseph, and help him accept Joseph's choice to die a human, after all? This was a great book, with plenty of tension and Charles and Anna being neaky, loving and working together to solve the answers to what was going on. Anna shows why she is the perfect mate for Charles, she's an Omega, but she is also still a werewolf,and she actually ends up really exerting her power for the first time and puts two strong Alpha werewolves to sleep at once. I loved this book and the story and will definitely read more of Patricia Briggs she's at the top of her game as a writer, and it shows.Highly recommended.

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas by Stephanie Barron- Jane Austen goes with her mother and sisters to visit her brother, a parson, and his wife and family, for Christmas. They are invited to a Christmas Party by s friend of the family, who happen to be rich members of the ton. But when a messenger arrives from a Navy Admiral to his wife who is also at the party, he is killed in the woods the next day, and the message he was carrying to the Admiralty, the only English copy of the  Treaty of Ghent, his death becomes a crisis for the Admiralty. Jane teams up with a Guest at the party, the artist Raphael West, to solve the mystery. But does the death of the young man have more to do with his duties for the Admiralty, or a woman's jealousy? I love Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen mysteries and it seemed as if this one took longer to write than usual. I love Jane Austen as a detective, because her known sharp observations of people in society and those around her demonstrated a fierce intelligence and ability to observe others closely, which are also suited for being a detective, and thus, make her admirable suited for her role in these books. And Jane certainly does put her observation skills to the test here, paired with another excellent observer of life, an artist. I liked the way that Jane and West interacted, and although we know that Jane spent her life as a Spinster, I loved their scenes together ad wished she might interact with him again in another book. This is a wonderful book, once you get used to the rather stilted manners of the time, and I recommend it highly to those who like historical mysteries, Jane Austen, or both, Or even those who just like a well-plotted mystery tale.