Thursday, July 30, 2015

2015 Part 5

Viper Game by Christine Feehan- Wyatt Fontenot is a Ghostwalker, born and raised in the swamps of Louisiana, Cajun Country. But when he returns home on leave with the Fortune brothers, Malichai and Ezekiel, he learns that all is not right in the Swamp. Grand-mere tells him that a building has been costructed in the Swamp, and some of the security men have been harrassing her when she goes into the swamp to collect herbs for healing. Wyatt is enraged, and goes into the Swamp with his compatriots to deal out a little Swamp Justice. But he also encounters two someones who he never sees, but only senses, and is intrigues. When Le Poivre, aka Pepper, shows up at his Grand-mere's house, he discovers that, like him, Pepper has been enhanced with Animal abilities, and hers include a venemous snake. She was intended as an infiltrator and femme fatale who could kill men as easily as seduce them, but she doesn't want to kill anyone, and her sexuality was also enhanced so that she is always craving sensual contact. But she and Wyatt, despite her efforts, start to bond when he agrees to help her free the rest of the women and children still held at the facility. There is one child she has already bonded with, Ginger, but when they go into the facility to free the children, they discover that the mad scientists in charge of the same program that changed Wyatt and his Ghostwalker compatriots mingled his and Pepper's DNA to create these children, making him a father and giving him a family all at once. But Wyatt will have to convince Pepper that he really wants her, and that she isn't using her pheremones to convince him to want to be with her before she can be his, and their family can truly be complete. But can he convince this shy, prickly damaged woman that he truly wants to be there for the long haul and convince her to stay with him? I like Christine Feehan's books, but her Ghostwalker series has always been kind of on the edge of "Meh" for me. And so it was with this one. I liked Pepper, I liked the setup, but the romance simply didn't scratch my itches for me. I mean, the sex is hot and all, but I was just never truly into it and that left me feeling rather uninvested in the story. So this one is "Meh" for me. If you like the GhostWalker series, you'll probably enjoy it. Otherwise, it's just okay.

Rule Breaker by Lora Leigh- Gypsy McQuade lives with a terrible pain. She was saved by the Breeds when attacked by Coyote Breeds when she was younger, but her brother, Mark, older and wiser than her, was killed, leaving her outcast from her own family. Not only does Gypsy blame herself for what happened that niight, so do her parents, and she can never make it up to them. So she works at her mother's party planning business and keeps her distance from the Breeds. But when her parents are hired by Jonas Wyatt, and the Breed Council to plan two very important events, she is thrown together with one of the men who rescued her, the Lion Breed, Rule Breaker. Rule is attracted to her, but he's sure she isn't his mate. He's just anxious when he's not around her, and distracted when she is. But as he uses the assignment Gypsy has been given to get closer to this woman that he wants very much, he discovers that she may be working against the Breed. But can he track down the truth, or will Gypsy be killed and he cast from the Breeds forever? But rot goes deeper than he knows. Can he keep Gypsy safe and protect her from the hurt that is sure to fall upon her? I liked this book a lot. I don't generally find the Breed books as hot as some others (like those by Emma Holly), but I enjoy the stories and this one was both tragic and sad. It was wonderful to watch Rule and Gypsy slowly move together, even though Gypsy is in many ways scared of him. But the traitors are close to her, and I loved the outcome of the story. This is mildly hot, but it was the story, not the sex, that kept my interest. Recommended.

Windfall by Rachel Caine- Joanne Baldwin has left her days of being a Weather Warden behind. Now, she's working at a small Tv station in Florida, being the sexy assistant to a lecherous weather forecaster and, sadly, living hand to mouth. It's made even worse when her sister, heading for divorce, moves in with her after her husband leaves her. Now, in addition to dealing with her depressed and shopaholic sister, she has a man who blames her for the death of his partner investigating her, and she has to deal with the knowledge that the Djinn she loves, David, is slowly fading. Plus, she's apparently engendered a Djinn child, and a Hurricane is bearing down on the state and an assassin on her tail. Teaming up with her new BFF, Cherise, while her sister is romanced by a studious Brit, she must survive Bad Bob's partner in crime and a Hurricane bearing down on her. And without the support of the Weather Wardens. But can she do all of that and keep her sanity in the bargain? I love this series, and this book kept me more than entertained when I was in the hospital. This one has perils aplenty and laughs galore as Joanne painfully wins her way through. I loved the new character, Cherise, and their slimy boss, who finally got his comeuppance in the end. This book was Cathartic, but in a good way. Highly recommended.

Firestorm by Rachel Caine- At the end of the last book, Joanne was warned by her Djinn lover that Mother Nature was waking up from her slumber, and she was really angry at the humans. Plus, the Djinn who was leader of the Djinn, had committed suicide, and the new leader had chosen David, her lover, as new leader. Plus, the Weather Wardens had broken the agreement between them and the Djinn, making the Djinn... understandably upset. With little time to warn the rest of the Weather Wardens, Joanne takes off to New York to try and tell them what's going on. But many Weather wardens are missing, presumed dead, in the wake of the Djinn attack, and Joanne is the only person who might be able to lead them. Because all the weather diasters they have fought over the years were merelyMother Nature fidgeting in her sleep, and this will be nothing compared to her awake fury. And another Djinn is using the Djinn pissed off at the Wardens to attack them. His name is Ashan, and he is NOT happy. With all this on her plate, Can Joanne survive the coming Apocalypse, or will she lose everything and everyone she loves in a desperate struggle to keep earth and its humans alive? Wow, the tension in this series is really building, to more and more apocalyptic events. In this one, Joanne and the weather Wardens must face off against Mother Nature herself, or at least put her back to sleep. Cherise continues to be a strong secondary character, and the ending of the book puts us in doubt as to what will become of Joanne. Again, I read this in the hospital, and it really took my mind off my problems. A fascinating book with lots of stuff going on. Joanne may be brought low, but not down. Highly recommended.

Thin Air by Rachel Caine- Joanne never expected to wake up naked and freezing in a forest. But not only did she do that, she also woke up without her memories. Without these, she cannot channel her Weather Warden powers or remember who the two men who found her are. One man says he is David, her lover, and one man says he is Lewis, a Weather Warden like her, But Joanne has lost her powers along with her memories, and she needs to regain them, or she will slowly fade away. But who would hate her enough to try and steal her life like this? And who will she choose to go with. Her old friend and onetime lover Kevin, or David, the Djinn who won her heart? This was an Amnesia story, but one done well, and when the ending finally came, we discover who stole her memories and why. Also, the Weather Wardens are still dealing with the problems of the Earth out of control, and Weather Wardens infected by Demons. Who can Joanne trust, and can she win free to try and make everything right? That's the question Joanne is forced to ask, and what she would give up to make everything okay. An interesting book. Recommended.

Obsession in Death by J.D. Robb- When Leonore Bastwick is killed, and a message left by the body claiming that the killer did it for Eve Dallas, Eve is blindsided, but is also determined to catch the murderer. When a small time illegals dealer named Ledo is killed, the killer leaves another message saying that he or she is doing it for Eve. Apparently, the Killer believes that Eve is their best friend, and that he or she is taking out the people Eve wants to, but cannot for job reasons. But when the killer fails at taking down their third target, they shift their focus to Eve's friends, angry that Eve hasn't been supporting the killer. Can Eve save her friends and acquaintances from a killer who wants personal attention from her, in the worst of ways? I liked this book, because Eve spends so much of her time shunning personal connections. She thinks she has this very small circle of friends, but this book shows how many lives Eve has touched, and how many people she can actually call friends of hers. Especially people on her squad and people in her circle of people at work, all of whom are concerned about her and want her to live and succeed. How many people the killer had to choose from when they started going after her friends (with the aim of becoming Eve's Best Friend) was pretty amazing, and this book had a tension to it that I really enjoyed, because this time, to use a cliché, it's personal. I especially loved Eve discovering how much fan mail she gets and how many people think they are having other-dimensional sex with her. It was amusing to see her reaction. Highly recommended.

Dead Ice by Laurell K. Hamilton- Anita is approached by the Feds with an unusual case: someone has been raising zombies to make porn. But while that isn't so unusual, but the spirit of the Zombie is still inside the dead body, retarding its ortting and making any sex film with the zombe truly disgusting. At the same time Anita is tracking down whoever made this film, she is also dealing with her wedding to Jean Claude, Master of the City, and a smaller ceremony of commitment to those she really loves, plus, she needs to find tiger lovers to ensure that Marmee Noir stays dead. All in the day of the life of Anita, yes? Then shy does everything suddenly feel so wrong? And did the zombie master who raised the zombie find out his resurerrection techiques from the woman Anita killed for wanting to make "perfect" zombies like this man is raising?, and has he passed on his knowledge to others to do the same? I liked this book, which had not just one but three entertaining plots and subplots. The one with the Zombie women was horrific, the with the wedding was serious but also had plenty of humor, and the stuff about selecting a new tiger lover was a bit more humorous, with some serious bits. In all, It added up to an extremely enjoyable read, and I am certainly looking forward to the next one. Highly recommended,

Cat's Lair by Christine Feehan- Caterina Benoit is on the run, and she's rightly scared of the man who is after her, who happens to be a thug, crime boss and killer. But when she meets Ridley Cromer, a martial arts instructor who teaches at the dojo where she takes lessons, she is cautiously intrigued by him, and he forges a deeper connection with her, installing a security system in her "home" a warehouse owned by the boss of the coffee house where she works as a barista. But Ridley is hiding just as much as Cat and with just as much reason. But when she is betrayed by the DEA, it is Ridley, under his real name as Eli, who must protect her from the man who is after her. But he isn't a man, but a Rogue leopard shifter. Luckily, so is Eli, and Catarina is one as well, although she doesn't know it. But having been terrorized by Rafe Cordreau all of her life since she was 8, Catarina is not at her best fighting her, and Eli wants the same thing that Rafe does- to be her mate, and he seems just as pushy and violent as Rafe is. But can Eli keep Catarina safe, and himself as well, when Rafe calls in every marker he is owed to find her? and can he save her when Rafe savagely attacks her and leaves her for dead> This is a leopard-shifter book which, unfortunately, was only meh for me on story. The book is linked to Christine Feehan's Carpathians novels (and her Ghostwalkers series), but I just found myself uninterested in the story or the characters. I liked Cat surviving on her own just fine, but the "romance" smacked to me of Stockholm syndrome, and although Eli eventually found that he loved her, for me it was too late to save the romance for me. Not really my favorite.

Menage by Emma Holly- Kate Winthrop is the small-town owner of a bookstore called Mostly Romance, which is nice, but doesn't make her a lot of money. She also rents rooms to two college students, Joe, a moody music student, and Sean, who takes courses in business and prelaw. When she comes home at night and catches them in her bed, with an item of "ostensibly" her underwear, Sean suggests that Joe invite her to join them, which she does, and then the three of them become lovers and sometime partners. But as the relationship goes on, things begin to change. Joe becomes an actor and composer, and while all three of them are close, it seems Joe has fallen in love with Kate, whereas she doesn't want to limit his life and refuses to deepen their relationship when he goes off to New York to act. Even Sean's relationship with Kate seems to be slipping into something more business than sexual. But when Joe returns to woo Kate properly, can she resist falling for his charms? And where will Sean stand in all of this? I love this book. Emma Holly's softcore erotica fairly sizzles with Kate finding affection with both young men, but loving Joe just a little bit more than the way she feels for Sean. The sex is copious and hot, and the way Kate takes control and "masters" Sean was wonderful in and of itself. Hightly recommended for the hot sex and bondage and BDSM done right.

The Half-Breed Vampire by Theresa Meyers- Slade Donovan is a vampire who hunts down threats to his race, and Raina Ravenwing is the local game warden in the area.. But when a new strain of wolves show up, werewolves, Slade's actual heritage is revealed, and his entire world is being called into question. Raina, too, finds that her assumptions about her family and heritage are just plain wrong, Even as their worlds are being ripped apart, Slade and Raina find themselves clinging to their newfound feelings to survive in a very different world. Are they really as far apart as they feared? This was oksy for a Silhouette novel, although, being a Harry Potter nerd, I kept thinking of the heroine as "Rowena Ravenclaw". It's obviously part of a series I haven't read, but I wasn't sure why the vampires couldn't just tell Slade who his parents were and all and cut out a lot of BS in the middle. It was not even really okay. It kept my attention, but this was not a story I particularly enjoyed. Would not recommend.

The FanGirl's Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks by Sam Maggs- So you're into a thing. REALLY into it. How do you connect with other people who share your passion online? Well, luckily for you, fangirl, there are tons of things to like and people to share your obsession with on the internet. This book calls out different types of Girl Geeks: Sherlockians, Potterheads, Disnerds and True Believers/Marvelites, among others and tells you how to connect with other fans and how to take part in fan-related activities like cosplay, writing fanfiction, attending cons and taking on the trolls who inhabit the internet and seems to hate you or everything you love. While this book is great for Girl Geeks who may be new to geekdom, older fangirls will find a sort of "Been there, Done That" kind of attitude, though even this old fan found new things from this book to love and enjoy. Recommended, mostly for new fans, though.

Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman, Volume 1 collects ten stories about Wonder Woman in one volume. Each story is complete and by a different writer (or writers) and artist (or srtists). Gothamazon by Gail Simone, has Batman injured and missing from the streets of Gotham. With the various of his foes running rampant, Oracle calls on Wonder Woman to come take Batman's place. But Wonder Woman refuses to be or act like Batman. Obviously, his approach hasn't been working. Maybe it's time for an Amazon to try her own brand of justice? Defender of Truth by Amanda Deibert shows Wonder Woman taking on Circe and making the difference in the life of a child. Brace Yourself, by Jason Bischoff, shows Diana growing up on Paradise Island and how she becomes strong enough, and determined enough, to win her chance to leave. Taketh Away by Ivan Cohen has Wonder Woman believing her powers from the Gods and Goddesses have been taken away, leaving her no more than an ordinary human. But when she must take on Cheetah, can she defeat the villainess? Bullets and Bracelets by Sean E. Williams has Wonder Woman as a rock star, but when she is attacked at her latest concert, she takes some time off to get to know two regular girls. But when the boy who attacked her shows up with a gun, can she make a difference? Morning Coffee by Ollie Masters has Diana going after Catwoman, who has stolen the Golden Fleece. When the Dragon of Colchis shows up, Diana must take it down, then catch the wayward cat who took it... No Chains Can Hold Her by Gilbert Hernandez has a Wonder Woman from another universe crossed over with Supergirl and Mary Marvel When all three are kidnapped by Kandar Ro and Sayyan, emperor of a distant planet. Can the three women defeat the alien pair and return each other to their own universes before anyone is the wiser? Attack of the 4500 Foot Wonder Woman by Rob Williams has Wonder Woman inflated by Henry Pym's "Pym Particles" to fight Byth, Creature of 1000 shapes. But when she finds out why he keeps attacking, can she discover a way to put an end to his rampages, permanently? Ghosts and Gods by Neil Kleid, has Wonder Woman and Etta Candy fighting Ra's Al Ghul with the help of Deadman, aka Boston Brand. But in a mythology where Ghosts only exist in the lands of the dead, can Wonder Woman accept Deadman for who he is and use his help to defeat Ra's? Dig for Fire by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman has Wonder Woman sent to Apokolips to retrieve two Amazons who are attempting to destroy the planet. But when she is captured by Darkseid, can she make a bargain that will preserve the planet, and Diana's sisters? I liked this collection of short stories, especially the first story, which shows her taking on Batman's Rogues Gallery and winning, thanks to Joker's bet with Two-Face that leaves him unable to kill anyone for the night. And amazingly enough, she makes a big difference in city, to the point where even Batman is impressed. I loved all the stories in the book, and show Wonder Woman from different perspectives, different art styles and even different places. Highly recommended, I can't wait to see more.

Night Pilgrims by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro- St. Germain is in Egypt, a Coptic Monastery where he tends to the hurts of the monks. But Rakoczy Sidi Sandjermin must move on due to political tensions. Luckily, he has been asked to travel with a group of pilgrims led by Sieur Horembaud to find the fabled lost cities of Christianity. None of the other seekers have ever returned, but that doesn't discourage them. With them is a knight, Torquil, who has been badly burned by the sun, and Rakoczy is tasked to care for him with the aid of Soror Imogen. But her presence actively undermines Rakoczy's treatment and so he asks for a different helper. Bondame Magrethe, Soror Imogen's sister-in-law, on the Pilgrimage to heal her brain-wounded husband, takes her place. But as the journey goes on, Rakoczy grows closer to Magrethe, while Torquil dies of his injuries, and Soror Imogen goes mad. As other pilgrims die, give up their journey or are wounded in a run-in with bandits, it is Magrethe, Rakoczy and Rogier, his servant, who keep on in the face of hardship. And Magrethe falls in love with Rakoczy, but can he show her who and what he truly is without inciting her hatred and disgust? Would she agree to become as he is, given her great faith? And when Rakoczy is wounded, will she stay with him or move on? Another excellent Chelsea Quinn Yarbro book, with Pilgrims traveling south at night to cross the desert, so that Saint-Germain can join them. The Pilgrims are people of their time, and one, Heneri, who starts out as Margrethe's cousin by marriage, protector and chaperone, decides to convert to Islam rather early in the book, leaving her and Soror Imogen alone, which accentuates Imogen's descent into madness. It's a fascinating look at a fascinating time in history, and I really enjoyed the entire book. Highly recommended.

Sustenance by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro- It is the 1950's and the War is over, only to be followed by a cold war Between Russia and the United States. It is also the time of HUAC, and people being declared "UnAmerican" for the slightest of reasons. One of those people is Charis Treat, a writer and scholar who comes to Europe to escape the madness that her own country has become. Because of her interests and Scholarship, she, too, has been branded a "Communist Sympathizer" and has left her husband and sons to preserve her marriage and her husband's career. In Paris, she falls in with a group of writers and academics who have been similarly labeled. She comes to the attention of St. Germain when he approaches her to publish her next work through Eclipse Publishing. Charis is relieved to find someone willing to publish her work and help her find support to live in Europe so far from her family. St. Germain becomes interested in her as more than just an academic, but when her husband tells her he is divorcing her, it comes as a complete shock, and she and St. Germain become intimate, and he shares the truth of his condition with her. However, forces in the American Government are determined to investigate him as a possible communist or sympathizer, and want the records of his company. which he is determined not to give them. Matters come to a head as HUAC begins to be discredited and someone is determined to make an example of St. Germain. But can even he survive the explosive force of a bomb, and how will he live after being "eliminated" so thoroughly? Here is history that we think we know the truth of, but often forget was lived by people forced to leave America after being declared "Communist Sympathizers". Life was not easy for them in a Europe still rebuilding after the war, and being the "man or woman without a country" was hard, parted from family, friends and everything familiar. And we feel with and for Charis, so when her husband wants to divorce her, it feels like a profound betrayal for a woman who has been so faithful to him. I really got caught up in this story, but I was disappointed by the ending. Yes, I know that St. Germain has few surviving lovers, but this ending seemed especially cruel and unnecessary. I really enjoyed this book and it was uncomfortable and good at the same time. Highly recommended,

Minecraft Combat Handbook by Mojang- Lots of people, kids and adults alike, love Minecraft. Minecraft is like LEGOs, but with added monsters in survival mode. There is also PVP combat held on servers. This book covers the basics- Monsters, Potions, how to build weapons and armor to protect yourself and what the health levels and types of monsters there are, from Silverfish, Creepers, Zombue, Skeletons and Witches all the way up to Zombie Pigmen, Blazes, Endermen and the Ender Dragon. It also covers potion making, enchanting and how to spawn enemies like Withers, and the Ender Dragon. Then it goes into PVP and how to construct traps, make cannons and dispensers and how to build a base, both normal and "epic" versions. Anything you need to know about combat and/or PVP is definitely covered in this book, along with other extras like dyeing leather, achievements available in game, and how to battle the Ender Dragon (but what it drops is kept a secret). For those looking to get into Minecraft, or those looking to up their battle expertise, this book is definitely for you. Recommended.

Thor's Serpents K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr- Ragnarok has come, but Matt and his friends Reyna, Ray, Owen, Fen and Laurie are working yogether to try and ensure that the world survives. But with Matt's grandfather working to end the world, Matt is on his own when it comes to getting help from his family. Or is he? It turns out that Matt's Uncle Paul is working to save humans, along with his friend, Alan. But when Jotuns, huge giants covered in fire, show up in town, Matt is going to have to learn to fight them in a hurry. And Astrid, who has been hanging around with Loki's Wolves, turns out to be the Midgard Serpent. Or, well, one of them, and Matt is going to have to fight her. Or is he? Astrid likes him, she doesn't want to fight him, she wants to go out with him, but she may not have a choice. Add the Norns showing up and a very real countdown to the end, and Matt and his friends have more on their plates than ever before. Can they save humanity, themselves, and win through to the end as still being friends? This is the finale to the trilogy, and I really enjoyed it. The book is fairly hefty, but there was a lot of stuff to see and cover, so it didn't feel overly inflated. I liked the subtle spiking up of tension throughout the book, and the ending was wonderful. I really enjoyed this short series. It sort of reminded me a bit of Percy Jackson, but for the Norse Gods. There is a resemblance, but no real correlation, as the series are very wildly different. Still definitely recommended.

Who Buries the Dead: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery by C.S. Harris- When a man is found decapitated at Bloody Bridge, Sebastian is called in, away from his wife and newborn son. But he can find little about the killer. One of the witnesses is too frightened even to remember clearly what he saw. But Sebastian's investigation puts him squarely at odds with an old foe of his, a British man involved in the Spanish War who slaughtered an entire house of nuns and children to achieve an objective, and who apparently doesn't feel ashamed at what he did. For Sebastian, who witnessed the slaughter, he is upset and hates the man, and feels a strong need to bring him down, especially when the man threatens his wife and son. But no one around the other man seems to care, including his wife, and the man with the missing head may have been involved with the theft of the head of Charles Stuart, whose tomb has been rediscovered outside London, and which a great many relic collectors would just love to get their hands on. But can Sebastian solve the mystery of the murder, find the head and return it to its grave so the King doesn't get angry, and save his new family all in one case? I love this series, and even if C.S. Harris made up the condition that gives Sebastian his "extra powers", I have loved every single one of these books, and this one was no exception. I love the characters, especially Hero, Sebastian's bluestocking wife, and even his son is wonderful. I am looking forward to any and all sequels if they continue to be of this quality. Highly recommended.

A Scoundrel by Moonlight by Anna Campbell- When her sister is seduced and abandoned, Eleanor, or Nell Trimble, discovers that her seducer is none other than the Marquess of Leath.Dorothy, having lost the child, is on her deathbed, and she confesses all, including that the marquess keeps a book of his conquests, which he showed to Dorothy. Dorothy also asks Nell to take revenge on Leath by destroying him utterly, so Nell takes a position as a housemaid in the home of the Marquess's mother. She quickly rises from housemaid to companion, and when Leath returns from London, it is because of the scandal of his sister running off with and marrying the leader of Leath's opposition. To quiet the scandal, Leath plans to rusticate in the country for a while, but when he meets Nell, his antenna twitch and he is sure she isn't what he seems, while she attempts to search the house for the book he supposedly posseses. However, her experience of him one on one is the opposite of a rake. Yes, he excites her most powerfully, but she appears to have the same feelings for her, and yet, he holds back from seducing her. Nell feels that her first impression may have been wrong, but when he asks her to become his mistress, she doesn't agree. Only when her feelings can no longer be dened does she finally agree to a relationship with him, knowing he can never take her for his wife due to the difference in their stations. When she finds confirmation of her fears after their first night together, and takes the evidence to Leath's worst enemy in the government, can he find her and explain to her the real reason the incriminating letters are in his bag, and can he join with his former enemies to bring down the real enemy? This book is fairly large and hefty for a romance, but it was robust in all the right parts, and the tension between the Hero and heroine was well-done and their slow turning of suspicion into lust and then love was excellent. I found this book enjoyable, but it did a slow burn sort of build-up to the end. And then, the end was still sort of slow when it probably would have benefitted from being a bit more fast-paced. Still recommended.

Darius by Grace Burrows- When his sister is disgraced and his brother collapses in grief after the death of his wife, Darius withdraws from society and becomes a "special friend" to certain women. But never a lover. He usually lets them abuse and beat him for money. But when he is approached by Lord Longstreet, an ill and dying Lord, to give his new wife a child, he offers Darius enough money to do what he wants afterwards, so Darius agrees. However, as he prepares to become a woman's lover for coin for the first time, he discovers that he may give of his body, but at the same time, he can't help but let his heart follow. And Vivian is not the woman he suspected. She was the companion of his Lordship's first wife who Longstreet married to avoid her destitution, and to prevent her from returning to the arms of her abusive family. Completely untutored in pleasure, Darius cannot help but be enthralled by her gentle, genuine, and unstudied ways, and by the time she must leave, he and she no longer want to be parted. But she must return to her husband. And while she tries to forge a connection between them, something more than just lust or convenience. But when the women who pay Darius for his company refuse to be cast over, Darius finds he must step up to gain his own freedom and be with Vivian when her husband finally passes. But can he win free of two very vindictive women who will stop at nothing to possess him? I liked this book a lot. When readers are first introduced to Darius and his way of life, they will assume he is nothing more than a gigolo, but that proves not to be the case. Even so, his own self-opinion is very low because of what he does, and he doesn't believe he deserves love or affection. I loved how Darius seduces Vivian, and the connection that is forged between them. All, as it turns out, with the collusion of Lord Longstreet himself, who schemes for them to remain together after he is gone. Recommended.

From the Charred Remains by Susanna Calkins- Lucy Campion is a maid in the Lord Magistrate's house, and the magistrate has helped to educate her. But now that the Great Fire of London has come and past, Lucy realizes that the household doesn't really need her, and she should find another job. Her task hauling away debris from the fire results in her seeing two young boys find a body in a cask in the remains of a tavern, and when Lucy tries to find our how the man in the cask died, she ends up at a book sellers, where she offers to sell the true story of the finding of the body- but she also decides to work for the printer as a bookseller and servant as well. Lach, the printer's apprentice, is scornful of her, but the Printer agrees to take her on. Lucy finds herself rubbing elbows with the constable investigating the death and being privy to several reveals in the case. When a purse containing a poem belonging to the dead man shows up, she is approached by a woman who claims to be the subject of the poem and to know who the man is. But is she right, and who did the man to death on the night of the fire? Impelled to find the truth, Lucy must dig for the answers, without falling prey to the same murderer. I liked this book. Lucy is a wonderful protagonist, a smart woman who doesn't revel in her intelligence, but is humble when trying to find the truth. She dogeedly works away while working to find out what is going on, and is instrumental in finding the killer. I really enjoyed the mystery and the different characters we encounter in the process. I didn't really see the ending coming or who the real murderer was. Excellent book and Highly recommended.

Spell Blind by David B. Coe- Justiss Fearsson is a weremyste, a kind of changeling who can do magic, but doesn't change shape. He is tied to the phases of the moon because as the new moon approaches, he is able to draw more on magic, but it also comes with a significant drawback- he goes crazy on the night of the full moon. Justiss is called out by his old partner, Kona Shaw, to the body of a state Senator's daughter which has been killed and left behind, her eyes taken out and possibly destroyed. The killer dubbed by the press as the "Blind Angel Killer" was a case that Justiss was assigned to before he left the force because of his moon madness- it was hard to explain any of his "phasings" as anything but periodic mental breakdowns, and his superiors wouldn't put up with it. But many of the cases Justiss is investigating all seem to lead back to the Blind Angel Killer, and of a magician whose powers flare a bright red to his magical senses. Over time, his magic had gotten stronger, and Justiss fears what the Blind Angelkiller might be... and who he might be becoming. As he is drawn into the case once more, Justiss  becomes known to the killer, who sees him, rightly as a threat. But when Justiss is targeted, can he fight off the worst serial killer he has ever seen, and discover who and What he is? Or will Justiss just be added to the list of victims of the Blind Angel. And when he finds romance with a Blogger named Billie, can he keep her safe as well? This was an unusual book, with an unusual premise and hero. Even though Justiss was something new to me, I liked his story, his background, and the other characters in his life- even how he explained his powers to Billie, and how she eventually came to believe him. This was an excellent book, and I very much enjoyed it. Recommended.

Dark Shadows- Return to Collinwood by Kathryn Leigh Scott and Jim Pierson- Dark Shadows started out as just another soap opera, albeit one with a very gothic bent. But when the failing show began to introduce more and more supernatural elements, culminating with the rise of the vampire, Barnabas Collins, from the family crypt, where he'd been imprisoned and chained for over 200 years, the show took on a new life and new popularity. This book tells the story of Dark Shadows from its beginning as a soap opera, all the way through the movies that were made of it, two revival series, and now the movie starring Johnny Depp. Told mainly by Kathryn Leigh Scott, who was part of the soap from the very beginning, she tells stories of the 60's and 70's series, and the making of the first movi. The stories continue with Jim Pierson, and he tells of the revivals and of being contacted by Tim Burton and Johnny Depp before the making of the new movie. This book has plenty of photographs and stories about production and the stars. I never watched the original series, but I watched the 1990's revival with Ben Cross, and I had a friend who introduced me to the original series. This book was wonderful to read and very enjoyable. I loved the pictures of the casts of all three series, and it was a very fun book to read. Recommended, especially if you are a fan of any of the series/movies.

Suspense and Sensibility by Carrie Bebris- Recently married, Elizabeth Darcy and Fitzwilliam Darcy, are enjoying married life, but a letter from Elizabeth's mother reminds her that she and her new husband have a duty to see Elizabeth's sister, Kitty, married, and quite happily, at that. Which to their mother means a man with a title. But when Kitty meets Henry Dashwood of Norland, she becomes entranced by him, and he seems equally taken with her, despite her lack of connections or money. His mother is not s happy with the relationship that develops between Harry and Kitty, and neither is Harry's sister. Harry, who has been poking about on his estate, has found a portrait of his debauched ancestor, his Great Grand-uncle, Francis Dashwood, which he decides to rescue, as his resemblance as a young man to Henry is great. There is also a beautiful Grecian Mirror, which Henry thinks is a real antique, possibly. When he becomes disgusted by how his own family is treating Kitty, he leaves the home and his mother, having proposed to Kitty, who has happily accepted. However, soon after his engagement, his behavior changes to become as debauched and pleasure-seeking as his distant ancestor. Kitty and even Henry's family are upset by this turn of events, with Henry's mother and sisters blaming Kitty, and Kitty blaming Henry's mother. But when Henry loses the family estate in a game of cards, Kitty ends their agreement to marry, and his mother cuts him off from the inheritance. Elizabeth is shocked by the change, but discovers that the mirror houses Henry's soul, which has been exchanged for that of his ancestor. Can Elizabeth and Darcy find a way to free his soul to inhabit its body once more, and what might be needed to do so. Furthermore, what will become of Henry with the rest of his family cut off from him? I really enjoyed this book, which was interesting because I have never been a big Austen reader. But this book combined the characters with an interesting and intriguing mystery, and I really, really enjoyed it. Highly recommended.

The Masque of a Murderer by Suzanna Calkins- Following the move out of the Magistrate's House, Lucy Calkins is still working as the Printer's assistant and apprentice. But not much has changed. When the Magistrate's Daughter, Sarah, returns to England, she recognizes Lucy on the street. Sarah has become a Quaker, and she recently returned to England after spending time in America. But upon her return, Sarah is summoned to the house of an old friend, Jacob Whitby. Jacob has been run over by a cart and is dying, and Sarah is asked to go to his house to visit him. She takes Lucy along to accompany her, but when she is left alone with Jacob, he tells her he didn't fall in front of the cart, he was pushed, and that someone in the circle of the Quakers is a fraud, and that his wife may be in danger. He begs Lucy to find out who the traitor is and keep her safe. Soon after, he dies. Luxy is asked to take down his last words before he dies so a pamphlet can be published about his life. She does so, but also does a little snooping around and discovers some things that definitely don't add up with the Quakers. While Sarah is a true and devoted Quaker, and Ahivah, another Quaker seeress, seem to be genuine, she has no idea who the traitor is . But can she find out before Sarah or another Quaker dies? And can she keep herself and Sarah safe as the traitor gets closer and more people begin to die? Another excellent book with a wonderful interesting mystery and some interesting information about Quakers and their activities in the new world and England. Lucy is growing closer, not only to Adam and the Constable, but also to Lach, her fellow apprentice, and he gets to help with the investigation. Recommended.

The Seduction of Lady X by Julia London-  Lady Olivia Carey is the one bright spot in Harrison Tolly's life. Harrison is the steward to Lord Carey, who is a vain, venal man who holds hid wife in contempt because she has not yet been able to give him an heir. But this is more due to the faults of her husband, who has a decided fondness for drink and whose lovemaking has devolved to a few minutes of groping, then thrusting until he reaches his end, usually being too incapable with drink to do even that. But when Harrison is informed that he is heir to the Earldom of Ashwood, he turns it down so that he may stay with the Careys. However, Lady Carey's sister is pregnant by a man she met when she was traveling in Spain, and Lord Carey is going to use that as any excuse to be rid of his wife's sister, who he hates. To help her out, Harrison says he will wed her sister as opposed to Lord Carey's idea to send her to a nunnery in Ireland. But this causes a rift between Harrison and Lord Carey, one that comes to a head when there is a rumor started that Harrison is Olivia's lover. Lord Carey rides off to confront him, and there is a terrible accident, and the new heir throws Harrison off the estate after the funeral. But just before, Olivia and Harrison become lovers at last, even though Harrison is still promised to marry her sister. But can Harrison, Olivia and her sister prevent a terrible tragedy and find happiness for them all, even if it means flouting convention and following their hearts? I liked this book. Harrison Tolly is being pulled in many different directions in this book, and so is Olivia. Each value their integrity more than just about anything, but Olivia's husband treats her with indifference at best and hatefulness at his worst. He doesn't beat her, but that is because Harrison stuck up for her when Lord Carey first tried, and by the end he does hit her once again. He blames her for her inability to conceive, when his drinking seems much more to blame. Harrison knows he loves Olivia, and that it is hopeless to be anything more than an admirer from afar, but she is completely oblivious to his feelings, thinking of him merely as a friend. It isn't until near the end of the book that she discovers his feelings and that she shares them. A lot of this story is hard to read, but mainly for the way Lord Carey treats his wife. The other parts are much better, and made it hard to put down and stop reading. Yet, I did enjoy the ending and the romance, such as it was. Recommended,

Natsume's Book of Friends, Volume 18 by Yuki Midorikawa- Takashi Natsume can see Yokai, or spirits. His grandmother, Reiko, had the same ability, but was shunned for it. So, she would challenge the Yokai to contests and insist on them writing their names in her book when she defeated them, which gave her a hold and a power over them. Though Natsume has the same powers, he wants to free the Yokai from their enslavement to whoever holds the book, and has been freeing the Yokai who come to ask for their names. In the meantime, he helps out various people with their Yokai problems, helped by Madara, a very powerful Yokai who inhabits a porcelain cat and is called Nyanko-sensei. In this volume, Natsume is approached by a goat-yokai who wants to find a yokai named Ake, They both work for the same Yokai who is their sensei. Now, theit sensei is ill and the goat-sensei wants to find his fellow student to challenge him as to who will be in charge when their master passes. But Ake is hiding and being fractious. But can Natsume find Ake and be an impartial judge over the process? Next, a famous exorcist has passed away, and his granddaughter knows he has a study full of his tools, but she cannot find it. Cam Natsume and Natori uncover the man's study before the rest of the exorcists do? Finally, a girl is in the forest, looking for a yokai she met in the form of an owl. The owl left behind a ring, and she wants to return it to him. But the Owl can't have her remembering him and must take away the memory. Cat Natsume and Nyanko-sensei help her find the owl yokai and return his ring to him? And when the spirit must wipe her memory in return, can Natsume sav her from this fate?

As Twilight Falls by Amanda Ashley- Kadie Andrews is a photographer, photographing ghost towns across the old West. But when she gets lost and wanders into the town of Morgan Creek, she quickly discovers that she can't leave- the town is home to five vampires, and she is claimed by one of them to be a blood donor for him. But then the town's founder, Rylan Saintcrow, arises from his slumber and claims Kadie for his own. Kadie finds herself angry at being imprisoned, but at the same time, she finds herself attracted beyond measure to Rylan, and reluctantly begins to fall for him. Still, she is trapped in Morgan Creek, and so is everyone else who wandered into town. Most of the vampires in town are male, but there is one woman, who has men to serve as her vessels, but she is so horrible to them that at least one of her victims wants to be killed rather than continue to live in the town. But as she and Rylan grow closer, Kadie intercedes on behalf of the town's inhabitants to get Rylan to loosen their restrictions. And when the Vampires in town rebel and want to leave the town's safety, Rylan decides to let them go. Only, when they finally leave, Vampire hunters start arriving in town. Only a few, at first, then more and more. And that, it turns out, was partly why the vampires were sheltering here, in Rylan's protection. But when the hunters have a connection to Kadie, she will have to return to her family, and her sick and dying sister, to learn what it is that is going on, and the secret that has underlain her family for years...  I liked this book, especially the reveal of the secrets Kadie's family is/was hiding. There was no clue about this early in the novel, but I loved how the characters in Morgan Creek were fleshed out and ended up being ale to leave at the end and the choices they made. In the end, Kadie, too, needs to make a choice, and what she chooses made me smile. I really liked this book and the mostly non-violent way that Rylan dealt with the vampire hunters. Recommended.

Worth Any Price by Lisa Kleypas- When Nick Gentry of the Bow Street Runners is given the job of tracking down a rich man's runaway soon-to-be bride, he thinks of it as nothing more than an easy job, but when he finally finds Miss Charlotte Howard, he is dumbstruck. Working as a servant, Charlotte lives in fear of being dragged back to face the man who claims to be her fiancé, as he has been her jailer for most of her life, dictating what she learned, how much she could eat, and so much more. Nick finds himself drawn to the lovely Charlotte and decides that the only way he can save her from the Rich Lord who claims her is to marry her himself and save her. Charlotte, falling for Nick and afraid of what her erstwhile Fiance will do if he gets her back, agrees. But Nick, who has been trained by a madam to be a world-class lover, has never given his heart before, but this time he will, and when he returns to London to the stunning news that the Bow Street Runners are disbanding in favor of Robert Peel's new Police Force, Nick is thrown for a loop and is compelled by his brother-in-law to take up his family's noble title, which is the last thing he wants to do, he realizes that with Charlotte to protect and love, he no longer wants to risk his life as he did before. But when Charlotte's former fiancé tries to put her sister under the same constraints he put Charlotte under, and to blackmail her family into handing over her sister and Charlotte as well, can Nick and his former colleagues rescue her before the unthinkable happens? I actually liked this book. I liked Nick and Charlotte both as they are both strong and strong-willed people. But instead of taking the easy way out and have them fight each other after they start the marriage, Lisa Kleypas has the danger they face together mostly external. The internal struggle is for Nick, who doesn't want to give up his job as a Runner to be a Lord. But that is soon put pad to when he realizes, as a married man, that he can't go on risking his neck the way he has. An excellent novel that pulled me in with good writing and kept me there with plot. Highly recommended.

The Revenge of Lord Eberlin by Julia London- Tobin Scott's father was hung when he was just a boy, accused of stealing the Countess of Ashwood's stunning ruby jewelry. Following their father's death, Tobin, his mother and sister moved to London. Shortly thereafter, his mother died and he was forced to send his sister into service and take a job on a ship. But this also proved the making of his fortune, as he made money dealing arms, and returned to England a rich man and a titled one as well, having purchased a Dutch title when he was abroad, from a noble fleeing the war there. Now, he returns to the village where he was born and lived most of his life, only to find that the woman whose evidence was used to accuse and convict his father has also returned to Hadley Green. Lily Boudine was only a child when she woke to see Tobin Scott's father riding away from the estate late at night, but she had no idea that her innocent statement of fact would be used to convict Tobin's father and put him to death. Alas, things also didn't go well for Lily's aunt died, and she had to take shelter with her Irish relatives. Recently, she was informed that she had inherited Ashwood. But when Tobin moves into Tiber Park, he decides to ruin Ashwood and Lily both as a price for condemning his father to death. Lily knows that Ashwood could fail and decides to fight Tobin every step of the way. But Tobin is distracted by Lily's beauty, and when he threatens to take her innocence in exchange for leaving Ashwood alone, she agrees. But once he tells her about what happened to his family, she becomes determined to find out what really happened to the ruby jewelry that went missing, and she will not let it go until she finds the truth. Tobin, already distracted by her beauty finds his heart coming to care for Lily. But how can he keep up his plans for revenge when he discovers the truth about his father and Lily's aunt? Can he still destroy Ashwood when he has come to care for Lily? This is a book whose story was started by a theft, and a tragedy. Lily saw Tobin's father riding away from the estate, and when she told her nanny what she'd seen, her testimony was used to both accuse and convict him. Tobin thinks she lied about what she saw, but this was one thing she didn't do. Lily never thought about what would happen to Tobin's father, nor Tobin and his family, but her search for the truth brings them together and makes them both much happier people. I liked this book, and both Lily and Tobin, who were strong and stubborn. But Lily is able to convince him that he has misjudged her and also find the real reason his father was leaving the estate so late. also, Tobin is afflicted with what I assume is PTSD over his father's death and only being with Lily eases the symptoms. This was a fantastic book, and the second book in a trilogy, of which "The Seduction of Lady X" is the third. An interesting and enjoyable read. Highly recommended.

The Dangerous Gentleman by Julia London- Adrian Spence has long been his father's whipping boy, while his younger brother Benjamin is his father's golden boy. But when Adrian is tricked into killing his best friend by that very same man, his father has had enough, and disinherits Adrian in favor of Benjamin. Adrian, though, knows Lilliana Dashell, the woman who Ben is contracted to marry. When he can no longer bear his father's cruelty and Ben's standing by and letting it happen, he goes to Lilliana and tells her that he has fallen in love with her and wants to marry her. She has always been enamored of him, and breaks off with Ben to marry him. Adrian considers it a revenge well-taken and tires to put Lilliana out of his mind. The one place he cannot ignore her is in the marriage bed and there he turns into a tender, masterful lover. But he refuses to let her be anything more, and Lilliana can tell something is wrong. She tries to get closer to Adrian, but he keeps her at arms length. It is only when he has a horrible accident that he is able to overcome that distance between them. But Ben, Lilliana's former Fiance, cannot seem to stop coming around and implying to Adrian that he and Lily are still very close., Perhaps even in the Biblical sense. When Adrian regains his sight, he doesn't tell Lilliana right away, which she views as something of a betrayal. But when they are nearly forced apart again, they must realize that Ben is pushing them apart, and that his father's animosity may have nothing to do with Adrian, but rather his mother. Can Adrian resist taking revenge on his father when the truth is revealed? Another good book, though this one was a bit harder to read. because of the supposed infidelity to the marriage on both sides. It isn't until Adrian and Lilliana realize what is going on and dig for the truth that each realizes how much the other loves them, and they finally manage to move past the hurt. Adrian and Ben are not nice characters. Oh, they seem innocent and steadfast, but the bitterness between them and the fact that each is willing to betray and backstab the other make them not very likeable characters. I only came to like Adrian because he really did come to care for Lily, but I didn't like him for long periods of this book. Lilliana comes off best, and I felt like Adrian didn't deserve her. Recommended, but not highly.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

2015, Part 4

Baptism of Fire by Andrezej Sapkowski- Geralt continues to search for Ciri, who has been tansported to a deadly desert by a malfunctioning portal. She relies on herself and her training as a Witcher and sorceress. But when she calls on the power of fire, she reaches too far and is nearly taken over by an inimical force and saves herself by shutting down her magic, for good it seems. Making it out of the desert, she winds up being captured, and then freed when a group of young human and elven bandits known as the Rats arrive to free their leader. Normally, they are six, but Ciri, calling herself "Falka" joins with them, losing herself in their banditry and killing, getting further and further from her true self. Geralt tries to go in search of her, having heard that Ciri is to be married off to a King. But he knows she is elsewhere, having dreamt of her. And likewise, she dreams of him. Geralt, accompanied by the Bard Dandilion and a human woman archer named Malva, tries to travel down to where he last saw Ciri, to track her down. Joining with a group of Dwarves and a gnome who are escorting a group of women and children dispossessed by the war, they discover a physician named Regis who also comes along with them when he finds out his village was burned. But as they are cut off from traveling south by the actions of the fighting armies, they each discover truths about each other and are forced to make hard decisions. Meanwhile, Yennifer is transformed back into a human by the elven sorceress and is forced to join a group of sorceresses who want to impose their own vision upon the world. Can they do it without consequences? And will Yennefer stay true to the magicians when they have forced her to join them on threat of being returned to statue form. But men still seek after Ciri, can Geralt find her before the Bounty Hunters do? I liked this book. It's kind of obvious that Anderzej Sapkowski's political views have informed his writing. Or at least the political history he seems to have lived through, as this is a very sort of world-weary sort of fantasy that isn't like much of what I have read from other authors. Yet still, I enjoyed it very much, it being more gritty and just different from Western Heroic Fantasy. These characters have more flaws and scorn being "heroic", but end up being heroes anyway by sticking up for their principles and those they love, and the villains, aside from the monsters, appear to be attached to nations and kings rather than idealistic or simple outright villainous simply to be villainous. A goodm nuanced fantasy novel from a superb author. Recommended.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J, Maas- Feyre is the last hope of her family. With her father crippled and their mother dead and their fortune gone, she saves them by going out and hunting deer in the woods that border the fae lands. But when she kills a deer and a wolf, she realizes that the wolf is very probably a fae. But she doesn't care, skinning it and taking both pelts to the market to sell, and venison to her family to feed them. Her two sisters are too naïve or too uncaring to hunt for them, so it lands of Feyre to do so. But her killing of the Fae wolf leads to her being abducted by Tamlin, one of the High Fae Lords, ruler of the Faerie Court of Spring. Instead of killing her, he tells her that he needs her life for the life of the Fae she slew. But all she must do is live with him, among his people, and while at first, she makes plans to escape, she soon realizes how futile such plans are, and how many things are waiting in the woods beyond Tamlin's manor walls waiting to kill her. Slowly, her feelings for him begin to change, and things go from bad to worse. a Plague is brewing in the Fae lands, one which could imperil the human lands as well, and Feyre's only hope at breaking the curse is to decipher a riddle set to her by the true blight on the Fae Kingdoms, Amarantha, or to complete three impossible tasks set by Amarantha herself. But even if she manages to complete the tasks will the evil fairy give up the prize she wants, Tamlin? Or will Feyre win her way out of Amarantha's tricks and snares to win her and Tamlin free? This story sort of retells the story of Tamlin, but with a number of twists and the ending is completely different. I really liked it, I loved the way the story built and the little pieces that seemed to mean nothing at first and ended up having a big impact on the story. Sarah J. Maas is a very good storywriter, and while I was disappointed at first that it wasn't another Celaena Sardothian book, this is very good nevertheless. It also has elements of Beauty and the Beast in it, with a curse needing to be broken by the words and actions of the heroine, and perhaps a bit of the story of the Fisher King as well. Excellently done and Highly recommended.

Dayshift by Charlaine Harris- Manfred Bernardo is a psychic, a real one, but he's also a fake, and does readings over the internet. When he goes from the town where he is living, Midnight, Texas, to Dallas and stays in a hotel to give personal (and expensive) readings to a number of clients. But his first afternoon Client drops dead in Manfred's room, and it happens after another resident in the small town is sighted after two people in another room die. Manfred, though, knows that she was there to kill the two, but has no idea how his client died. Worse, her mentally damaged son insists that Manfred killed her and took a fortune in jewels from her purse before she died. Being a psychic and therefore considered a shady character, Manfred must clear his name before police attention is focused on him and on Midnight, where a number of very interesting people live. Plus, there is an old hotel in town that gets renovated so that it can be turned into an eldercare hostel. The question is, why is the conglomeration of companies banding together to do this, and what do their plans have to do with the town. That's not the only upset in town. A young boy arrives in town and grows up unnaturally fast while staying with the local reverend, who makes money as an animal cemetery as well as being a preacher. And the other resident in town who Manfred saw in Dallas, Olivia, might be a contract killer. The man she lives with is a vampire. And Manfred is a friend of Sookie's. With all these threads converging on the town, Manfred is going to have to solve the mysteries with the help of Olivia, and the residents of Midnight will have to work together to figure out what is going on and why before the situation becomes deadly. This is a spin-off series from Charlaine Harris' "Sookie Stackhouse vampire mystery/romances. This one  more about the mystery than the romance, and I liked it a great deal. Manfred has grown and matured since meeting Sookie. In this book, he actually qualifies as an "upstanding citizen" and does his level best to try and solve the mystery and save his fellow Midnighters. There are far less vampires and were creatures in this book, and more seemingly otherwise normal people. It's different than Harris' other series, but still good and well worth reading. Recommended.

Born of Defiance by Sherrilyn Kenyon- Talyn Batur has lived his entire life as an outcast from his people, the Andarions. With his father not recognizing him, his only recourse was to the military, and though he is a smart, dedicated, intelligent soldier, he is stuck at the level of major and discriminated against by his own superior all because of his birth. When he contracts with a house to have a mistress, he must pay them many times the normal going rate to have Felicia be with him. She is born out of wedlock, but recognized by her father, but even so, her options are also limited. Studying medicine, she also sells herself, much as her mother did. But she only accepted Talyn because he treated her well and promised her a place close to her college to live in. When she moves in with him, she discovers how badly he is treated by his own superior, and the many cruelties the man inflicts on him. Despite her intention not to get emotionally involved, she ends up falling for Talyn, motivated by his obvious feelings for her and the loving, considerate way he treats her. But when she grows tired of the way he is treated by her superiors, she calls in the help of her half-brother, who gets him reassigned to the palace. But even here, the mistreatment follows him, and the man he is supposed to be guarding is a friend of his former commander, gets him cashiered and thrown onto a notorious prison planet with his legs broken. Even so, Talyn manages to survive and help a group of prisoners to stay alive. But when his mother, who is also in the service, finds out what has happened to him, she takes action through her friend, the sister of the current Andorian Empress, getting him retrieved. But Talyn has had his fill of the monarchy and being mistreated. When a rebel approaches him about overthrowing the current family on the throne, he is all for it. But can he keep Felicia safe while staying a fighter in the ring all the while overthrowing the royals in the coming coup, which will demand of him that he take a leadership role? I loved this book. Yes, Talyn's people are harsh, and he has a really sucky life, but his mother loves him and he's extremely good at what he does. The reason behind his superior's hatred of him is believable and horrible at the same time, but I loved how Talyn and Felicia came together and how they never doubted their feelings for each other and never descended into sniping or yelling at each other. The ending ties into other books in the Sentella series as it ends with the overthrow of most of the royal family and the revelation of Taplyn's true father and clan (s). It' a good book, if a trifle hard to read at times because of the abuse Talyn suffers. Recommended.

Spider Men by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli- Spider man is swinging through the city one night, taking down crooks, when he notices a blast of purple lightning coming from a rooftop not far away. Where it came from, he discovers the lair of Mysterio, and a portal powered by Stark Technology, presumably stolen from Tony Stark. But when he and Mysterio have a fight, the portal flares and Peter is sucked in... only to appear elsewhere, and seemingly, elsewhen. Where it once was night, now it's day, and his while the city appears unchanged, he is confronted by a smaller man, a teenager, wearing a spider-suit. They fight, and Miles uses his Venom sting to knock Peter out. Cottoning to who Peter is right away, he tries to remove Peter's mask. But Peter, waking, objects to this and learns some of what this universe is like from Miles and Nick Fury. But he breaks away from them, trying to find out if it is really true. Peter goes to his apartment and finds out that in this world, he's dead and people think his costume in poor taste as if he is trying to ape the original Spidernan. But when Peter goes to see his Aunt Betty and Gwen Stacy, they think he is trying to start something, until he pulls off his mask and shows them his face. There are explanations all around. Meanwhile, back in the original comics universe, Mysterio has sent a robot double of himself to kill Spider-Man once and for all, but the two Spidermen fight him off and with the help of the Avengers and Nick Fury, return to the original comics world to deal with Mysterio, But can they defeat him before the portal collapses and strands either one in the wrong world? I don't generally read Spider Man (never did, really), but I loved this graphic novel, which was smart, funny and snappy. The best funny scene was where Nick Fury asks Peter what he is like in Peter's world, and Peter can only say, "White." and Ultimates Fury is like "Sad to hear that." The book ends on a mini-cliffhanger as Peter tries to see if there is a Miles Morales in his own world and appears shocked at what he finds, but the novel leaves us in suspence. It was a great book and I really enjoyed the crossing over of worlds and characters. Highly recommended,

Dead of Winter by Kresley Cole- Evie, theEmpress of the Current Arcana, has been kidnapped by Aric, the Death Card, and imprisoned at his base. But even though she has come to have feelings for Aric, she is also in love with Jack and when she heard Jack had been captured by the Lovers, the most twisted and evil cards of this cycle, Evie left Aric's fortress to try and save the boy she loves. But Jack has been busy since she was gone, forging together elements of an army, accompanied by several other members of the Tarot, including the Fool, Judgment, The Tower, The Moon and others have encamped across the river from the army lead by the father of the Lovers. Jack is their prisoner, but they have ways of cloning themselves, and can mingle their blood to create copies of themselves. They also have a secret, and to discover it, Evie, Jack, Aric and the other trumps will have to work together to deal with them. But with Evie the focus of love for both Aric and Jack, can she keep their friction to a minimum and keep them all safe by using her powers? I love this series and I love these characters. I don't know who Evie will pick, it's turning into rather a "Team Arci/Team Jack kind of situation. People have theorized that Jack is an Arcana, possibly the Sun (given his skills as a leader, I am thinking possibly the Emperor, but only if he does turn out to be an Arcana, which is far from assured. I am personally trending towards Aric, myself, But I am willing to be persuaded. So much happened in this book that it seems like it should have been longer, but I like the mix of character and action moments, and how Evie struggles against the Red Queen, the more "outcome oriented" part of her personality. It was also nice to see Jack and Aric come, if not to actually like each other, respect each other for their abilities and talents. I can't wait for the next installment! Highly recommended.

Murder on Amsterdam Avenue by Victoria Thompson- While waiting to be married, Sarah Brandt and Frank Molloy have purchased a home together, which Frank is having remodeled to suit them and their family. But now that he is no longer a policeman, Frank is building another type of business entirely, as a private detective. When Sarah's mother discovers that Charles Oakes, the son of an old friend, has died unexpectedly, she takes Sarah along on a visit to console the family. But Charles' father hires Frank to look into the death and find the man who killed Frank, who was poisoned with arsenic. As it seems that he had no enemies outside the home, Frank concentrates on the servants working in the house, and Charles' wife, who isn't exactly mourning him the way that she should be, But when a servant named Daisy, who used to work for Mrs. Oakes when she was a slave and Mrs. Oakes the daughter of the plantation owner, is also poisoned by arsenic concealed in pieces of candy that she took with her to the home of a friend,  Malloy wonders who might have wanted her dead as well, and why. Working with another former member of the force who he hires after Gino returns from the War in Cuba, he and Sarah's adopted daughter Maeve join forces with Gino and Malloy to find the real killer and bring him or her to justice. I love this series, which marries turn of the century New York with a family dynamic a bit like Anne Perry's Thomas and Charlotte Pitt novels. Though this series was always a bit more gritty and grounded in realism than the Anne Perry books, I like both of them, and this book was no exception to the series. Some of the elements of this case seemed to call back to earlier cases, like when Malloy investigated the truth behind the facts of the death of her husband, I found this quite wonderful and believable, especially the reasons behind the murder, which speak of hidden secrets and shame. Highly recommended once again.

Hulk: Omega Hulk Book 1: by Gerry Duggan and Mark Bagley- The Hulk has evolved again, this time into "Doctor Green", with the physique of Hulk and the mental prowess of Banner. And he wants to eliminate all the other heroes ad villains whose powers derive from gamma radiation from the world. So he sets up a lab, working with other scientists to make antidotes to Gamma ray irradiation. The irony is, of course, that he, himself, is immune to his own cure. He will be the Hulk forever. He tales out the Abomination, Atom Bomb, the Red She-Hulk, Skaar, and even Hulkling, who isn't gamma-irradiated, just a shapeshifter. But will he be able to take down The Red Hulk, aka longtie Hulk foe "Thunderbolt" Ross? And when one of the scientists working with Doc Green turns herself into a living tree and takes over all the plants near her, using them to kill humans, Doc Green has to take it on himself to deal with her. But why did she do this? I thought this was okay. It's definitely a breath of fresh air for the Hulk Franchise, I thought it harkened back to The Joe Fixit Character. Even though he's intelligent and tries to control his temper, he's still a scary guy, as he's willing to use the strength of the Hulk in his own ends. I thought it was okay, but not completely enjoyable. Slightly recommended.

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua-Ada Lovelace was a mathematician and daughter of Lord Byron who was turned towards mathematic pursuits to keep her from having a "poetic" disposition. Charles Babbage was also a mathematician 20 years her senior who invented the first computer, "The difference Engine" and later "The Analytical Engine". Ehen Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage met, it was a match made in heaven, as she saw more uses for his machine beyond just mathematical calculations. In writing code for the machines, Ada became the first programmer (of sorts). After this historical introduction, Sydney Padua moves on to rebrand them as mathematical adventurers in a parallel but different steampunk universe. In the first, Lovelace and Babbage must fix things at the Bank of England when the American Banking system collapse. In the process, they invent the steam engine and give one man the idea for the railroad. "Luddites" shows a bunch of angry "computers" people who do sums for a living, like accountants) attacking the engine which has taken away their jobs. Lovelace and Babbage must handle this with... MATH. In "User Experience" George Eliot, aka Marian Evans must make her way through the Engine with her manuscript in search of spelling errors, but will she survive the experience? In "Mr. Boole comes to tea, and shows Boolean logic. "Imaginary Numbers" takes Ada to the land of fantasy, i.e. imaginary Numbers, in a manner reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. The book ends with recollections of people who knew Lovelace and Babbage, and some papers about them and their ideas. I liked this book, which is art graphic novel and part text, with numerous and copious footnotes. The story of the two protagonists was interesting, and several stories, while taken from actual history, mirror things happening today. This graphic novel is very geeky, but fun. Highly recommended.

The Devil Takes a Bride by Julia London- When Grace Cabot sets out to seduce Lord Amherst to save her sisters from penury and disgrace, she ends up in the embrace of his brother instead, the Earl of Merryton, who is known to be staid and humorless. But when they are found together in a shocking and profound kiss, Grace must marry him, and since he is so cold and seemingly unfeeling, she wonders how she can ever be happy with such a man. But that cold, staid, humorless exterior hides a man in pain, who must put up a passionless front just to survive living day to day, and as Grace discovers her new husband's deepest secrets, she must heal them if their marriage is to survive. But will she always long for the love and the man she never had? I really liked this book. Jeffrey, Lord Merryton, is like anything but his title. He's not merry, has an obsession with order, and with the number 8. But all of these are hiding a shocking secret from the past and a terrible history. And while Grace doesn't react very well to her husband's needs at first, she eventually begins to understand him and she is not shocked by his needs and desires. I was a little disappointed that the desires he felt sort of went away when Grace was willing to do a few things with him, but otherwise, I found the book good and interesting. Recommended,

The Ugly Duchess by Eloise James- Theodora Ashby is the ward of the Duke of Ashbrook, and has been raised with his son, James Ryburn, for most of their lives. But when his father loses the estate, he tries to force James to marry her an secure her fortune so that they can save the estate. James is resistant at first, thinking of her as a sister, but soon his discovers that his true feelings for her are far more tender and intimate. He does end up marrying her, and they begin to save the estate together, until Theodora overhears her new father-in-law congratulating his son on the success of their scheme. Theodora, overhearing them, is shocked and crushed. She tells both men to leave forever, and settles down to getting the estate out of entail and dressing the way she wants rather than in endless pink and ruffles. Soon, she goes from an ugly duckling to a swan. Meanwhile, James has become a sea captain, and then a privateer. But just as Theodora who has heard nothing from James for 7 years and has been unable to find him, is about to have him declared dead, when he returns in a spectacular fashion. But can the two of them reconnect when both have changed so radically? I liked this book a lot> Both characters change from when they are separated from each other to when they finally reconnect and rediscover their love at the end of the book. Theodora blossoms into love, then shuts herself off for fear of being hurt again. But I loved how they got back together and rediscovered their love at the end of the book. Recommended.

Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes- Cassie Hobbes is a natural profiler whose mother was killed by a serial killer. She was taken in by the FBI to join another group of talented teens like herself- broken by life, but coming out of it with seemsingly supernatural instincts for reading emotions, telling lies, Profiling or for seeing patterns. In the first book, Naturals, Cassie discovered that the killer who killed her mother wanted her as well. Now, her friend and fellow "Natural Profiler", Dean, is drawn into a case by a serial killer who is mimicking his father's killings. But just as they did for Cassie, the entire team of naturals wants to help Dean and find the copycat who is killing in the same way as his father did. But for what reason, and why does Dean's Father want to know and control Dean? And now they have a new protector to deal with, Agent Sterling, Brigg's wife, has returned to the force and wants to get the naturals program shut down. But she also wants to protect Dean. But why? What history do they share together, and can they find the copycat before any other women die? Another excellent title. I really enjo0yed the whole "Criminal Minds for YA" vibe, and the characters. Cassie and her fellow Naturals intrigue and absorb, and even the adults are always interesting. Lets teens see Criminal Profiling from the inside and see how the FBI works. I love Cassie, though. No more love triangle this time around, at least I hope. If you're a teen, or you know one who enjoys the whole "CSI/Criminal Minds", this series might scratch the itch you feel for more. Highly recommended.

By Tooth and Claw by S. M. Stirling, Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint and Jody Lynn Nye.- An alternate Earth tale, in this alternate, the asteroid did not strike the Earth, and the dinosaurs did not go extinct. Instead, the earth is inhabited by two very different races of intelligent beings, the Mrem, a humanoid feline race, and the Liskash, a reptiloid Dinosaurian race. The Mrem are fierce warriors, but the Liskash have mental powers. Now, a great disaster has come, and the great water has invaded the lands occupied by both the Mrem and Liskash, forcing both to struggle for survival. "Bury My Heart" by Mercedes Lackey and Cody Martin tells the story of the Long Fang, who lived to the south and were nearly drowned by the rushing tidal wave of the waters. Left smaller and much, much poorer by the Tsunami that engulfed their lands, they struggle to make their way t safety. But though Sartas Rrem, the leader and his mate Reshia, do their best to try and lead their clan to safety, a large group of Liskash are on their trail. Can Sartas Rrem and his warriors hold them back long enough to get the rest of the group to (relative) safety? "A Clan's Foundation" by S. M. Stirling- When a group of escaped Mrem slaves from a Liskash holding rescue a Wild Mrem Warrior, he must help them to become a unified tribe if they want to join the Clan of the Claw. "Sanctuary" by Eric Flint has a clan of Mrem on the run from a Liskash Warlord. But when they help and are rescued by a group of outcast Liskash, they must make a lasting peace if they hope to outwit and evade the forces of the general- a route that will take them across the long water and see the Mrem and Liskash joining their mental abilities to win their way to safety. Lastly, "Feeding a Fever" by Jody Lynn Nye tells of a Mrem clan of dancers beset by disease. When the servant of the Dancers makes a detour to gather plants and food from a nearby swamp to tempt the dancers into eating, they are captured by a group of Liskash who want to turn the Mrem into slaves. And only the ingenuity of the Dancer's servant can save them from death, humiliation and slavery forever... I liked these stories, which are more of a shared world story than a cohesive whole. Still, I really enjoyed each separate story, and both the conflict and cooperation between the Mrem and Liskash. My favorite was a tossup between "Survival" and "Feed a Fever", both of which were strong stories, each in different ways. Still, all the stories here were above average. Highly recommended.

His Wicked Reputation by Madeline Hunter- Gareth Fitzallen is the bastard son of a Duke. While two of his brothers love him, one of them, Rupert, hated him and sought every chance to bring Rupert low. Making his own way as a factor for sales of fine art, Rupert is skilled in the art of seduction of older, willing women.  Eva Russell is the daughter of a gentleman, reduced to near-penury by the deaths of her father and brother. She and her sister live in genteel poverty, alleviated by the money she makes from copying pictures that she finds in the attic of the manor house down the lane from her own. But when she meets Gareth on the road and realizes that he is the owner of the house, she must stop her copying of the paintings. So she does so, but realizes that her new paintings have made much money for her and her sister. She plans a trip to the house of a relative and meets again with Gareth there. In the meantime, he has been assigned a task by Ywain, called Ives by his brothers, to track down paintings that went missing from the manor house of a noble, all of which belonged to wealthy nobles, who sent them into safety during the Napoleonic Wars. But as Gareth tracks down the paintings, he and Eva become closer, then lovers, when her house is broken into and her paintings ruined by forces unknown. Not the paintings she copied, but ones she did on her own. But when Gareth offers her and her sister the chance to stay in London, she sees one of her paintings up for auction at Sotheby's, and when she tries to tell the man that she did the painting, he treats her as if she is crazy. But as the assaults on her home continue, it is clear that a group of Ruffians think that her brother hid a great treasure with her, and they want it back. The treasure turns out to be at least part of the missing paintings, and Gareth must keep Eva and her sister safe while they discover what exactly happened to the paintings and where they are now. But will Eva be put in gaol for forgery, or can Gareth save her and convince her that she did nothing wrong? And will Gareth leave his life of lechery and finally settle down with Eva, the woman he has come to love? I liked this book a lot. I liked how Gareth and Eva interacted, and their interactions with their relatives as well. I would love to see if Eva became famous for her painting as well. But this was a superior romance novel nonetheless. Recommended.

Red Flags: How to Spot Frenemies, Underminers and Toxic People in Your Life by Wendy L. Patrick- This book shows you how to spot the people in your life who willo hurt you and cause you pain because of who they are. In a way, this book reminded me of that book on the 5 most dangerous kinds of people, because this book pretty much covers the same ground, only in a different way. They both focus on the need to look beyond the surface, to see what people are really like underneath, which mostly involves looking at them when they are at home and in spaces and places they feel at home. Mostly, putting these into action involves paying attention to what people say and do and not just accepting them at face value. It's filled with interesting information and interesting stories of how the people she warns you against can leave you hurt and blindsided when they turn on you. And interesting book and recommended,

Orion and King Arthur by Ben Bova- Orion is an operative, a construct made by the future human who masquerades as the God Aten in time. He uses Orion to intervene in situations  and twist the situation for his benefit. When Orion helps Siegfried overcome both Grendel and his mother, he discovers that one of the children Grendel's mother has in her lair is none other than Arthur. He helps Siegfried rescue the hostages, and later, is returned to Britain by Aten to ensure that Arthur doesn't become King. But Orion finds King Arthur to be noble and worthy of respect, and aided by the Lady of the Lake (Orion's love and a creator like Aten) and Merlin (another creator who calls himself Ares), they elevate Arthur to the Kingship despite Aten's wishes and plots to the contrary. But even Orion is unable to Keep Arthur safe from every plot, and Aten's attempts to punish Orion and even destroy him is only making Orion stronger. Soon, he may become Aten's equal. But will Aten allow it? And can Orion save the King from his foredestined end? And can Even Orion stand against the might and cunning of his creator? I thought this was a new book, but as it turns out, this is part of a series. Orion is the main character, and he is both a servant of Aten and a foil to him. Aten wants to manipulate history to make himself and the other creators possible, and Orion works to undo that. But despite Orion's "meddling" in the timeline, the Creators somehow still exist. This book doesn't really explain how this is possible  But by the end, Aten has declared his intention to destroy Orion, so there will be at least one more book in the series. I greatly enjoyed the book, as it showed mostly Arthur and Orion interacting as friends as well as noble (or Dux Bellorum- War Leader) and Liegeman. If I see any more of these, I will certainly pick them up. Highly recommended.

The Lady is a Vamp by Lynsay Sands- Jeanne Louise Argeneau is  a researcher at the Argeneau blood clinic, working on issues that concern immortals, but one night, she is kidnapped from her job by Paul Jones, whose daughter, Olivia, is dying of a brain tumor. John wants Jeanne Louise to turn his daughter and make her immortal, saving her life. Jeanne Louise is startled, but soon realizes that Paul is her lifemate when she cannot read his mind. Soon, the two of them are in love and on the run from the Immortal Enforcers who will do anything to set Jeanne Louise free. But she no longer wants to go free, nor does she want Paul punished for what he has done. But when the Enforcers, including her Uncle, Lucian, show up to "rescue" her, it precipitates a crisis that may end up parting them forever. Can Jeanne Louise live with the knowledge that the man she loves will die long before she even grows old? Or will a solution be found to their dilemma? I liked this book, usually, the books are about an immortal male and a human female. Sometimes, both the male and female are immortal, but this is one of a few that broke the mold. I liked the interaction between Jeanne Louise and Paul even back when he hard her a prisoner, and after she fell in love with little Livvy and him, it only got much, much better. This was a wonderful book and well-worth the read. Recommended.

The Immortal Who Loved Me by Lynsay Sands Sherry Carne is a big success. Though she is barely thirty, she owns her own, successful kitchenware shop. But when the shop is invaded by three men chasing a young girl, things quickly go out of control. The men are immortals, and fangless vampires as well. The girl is Stephanie, also a fangless vampire, because she and her sister were turned by these vampires long ago. But unlike them, they aren't crazy, They do, however, want Stephanie. Sherry, dragged along in the girl's wake, helps her out and Stephanie's relative, Basileos Argeneau, is called in to assist. Stephanie, who is extraordinarily good at reading these things, believes that Sherry could be Basil's lifemate. There is a complication, though. While lifemates cannot be read by their lifemate, Sherry is difficult to read anyhow. Which can only mean that Sherry has been around a vampire most of her life, and has developed the mental shielding that comes inevitably when someone is able to read your thoughts. And since no one knows of any vampires in the area, it must be a rogue. Sherry must uncover the secrets of her own life to help Basil find out who might have been influencing her and uncover the truth about herself and her own birth. But can she live with the results? This book was only okay. I usually like the Argeneau vampires books, but this one I found merely middle of the road and kind of boilerplate as it all went. Sherry finding out about her past and how she came to be (as well as he secret of who the vampire close to her was good, and the rest was
just okay. Recommended, but not highly.

Forbidden Magic by Jo Beverley- Meg Gillingham was impoverished by the death of her parents. Now, she tries to keep everything together for sake of her sister and brother. Finally, with Christmas coming and out of options, she resorts to a magical item that has been in her family for generations, the Sheela-mg-gigh, a rude carving of a woman. She wishes for someone to rescue her from their situation and prevent their landlord from despoiling her sister for his own wicked lust. Into her home comes Lord Saxonhurst, who is in a pickle. He was raided by his grandmother, and she rules hm as harshly as iron. So, he needs to fulfill the promise he made to her, to marry by his 25th birthday, which is a mere few days off. Then, a maid who used to work for Meg tells him about her, and Meg about Sax (as he is called), and suggests that they take care of each other's problems by marrying. It seems the perfect solution on paper and would get them both out of their difficulties. But will Meg and her siblings be able to adapt to Sax's crazy household and lifestyle? And when his grandmother continues to try and control Sax, can Meg help him stay out of her clutches and free? Because when she uses the magic of the Sheelagh, it always exacts a price... This book was acually mad fun. Taking place in the Georgian Period rather than the Regency or Victorian gives it a different air, one of unstated and unbridled sensuality and hedonism. I loved both Meg and Sax, but mostly Sax, as he was really helpful to Mag. But he's not without his own problems, and Meg definitely helps him with that. I loved this book and am really glad I stumbled on it. Recommended.

The Secret Pearl by Mary Balogh- Lord Brocklehiurst has been scarred in war, and his features often make him seem ugly to his wife, who is in love with another man, his brother. But when he comes on a skinny and starved looking prostitute with a strange air of self-possession, he cannot help but engage her. Wen she turns out to be a virgin, he realizes that he has done her wrong. He buys her food and attempts to do more for her, but she disappears into the night, leaving him with only a name, Fleur. Isabella Fleur Bradshaw is a woman of secrets, and on the run, attempting to survive on her own. When she loses her virginity, she is at the end of her rope, but she is soon hired ats a governess by the wife of Lord Brocklehurst. His wife is fretful, and is soon sure that her new governess is her husband's mistress, but he refuses to let her be let go. Like her mother, the daughter is fretful and complaining, but Fleur soon brings her out of her attitude. As Fleur and Lord Brocklehurst grow ever closer, they must keep themselves from breaking his marriage vows within his house, and a House Party brings all of Fleur's secrets into the light. But can she face them to be free to finally love him? And when Lord Brocklehurst's brother returns, it causes tension between him and his wife. But what will become of these two star-crossed lovers, can they ever be together? This is one of Mary Balogh's early romance stories, and as such, isn't much like her later works. It has adultery (on both sides of a marriage), and a very mournful tone. Both Lord Brocklehurst and Fleur live in such constrained circumstances, and they aren't free to be together, which leaves the book with a mournful yet hopeful tone. And there is so much tragedy... so much. It was interesting, but not so much romantic as some of her later works. I liked it, but it's not a book for everyone. Recommended.

Storm of Shadows by Christina Dodd- Rosamund Hill is a daughter of two archaeologists, now dead. Aaron Eagle is a Chosen One, descendants of two very special children born to a mother who abandoned them. Both had powers, but while one twin used them for good, the other used them for evil. Aaron is of the Chosen Ones, who use their powers to help Humanity. They need Rosamund's help to track down a prophecy left by a dark-skinned prophetess that could help save the Chosen Ones, who are almost the only Chosen Ones left after an explosion took out the others. But Aaron and Rosamund are not alone in looking for the Prophecy. Lance Matthews, a member of the Others, and markedly handsome and cunning, wants Rosamund's services for the Others, the group that came out of the evil twin. And he got to Rosamund first. Can Aaron convince her to help him whole keeping her safe from Lance Matthews and find the prophecy before The Orhers get it? I liked this series, not quite so much as her earlier "Darkness Chosen" series, but enough to really enjoy this books, which is a whirlwind trip around the world and  shows us how Powerful the Chosen and The Others are. I liked the characters, and while this is not the first book in the series, I didn't feel left out or left in the dark by the story. Recommended.

Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf by R. A. Salvatore- Bruenor and the Companions of the Hall return to his home, where the Drow and their forces, including the army led by Harrtusk, now ruling Obould's old Kingdom of Many Arrows, are besieging the far north, trying to bring down the Many Dwarf Halls and the independent cities in the area with the hopes of building a Drow Kingdom under the Darkening, which permanently blots out the sun and the stars from shining. But in addition to the forces of the Dwarves, the forces of the Drow are rent from within by infighting and tensions between clans. Plus, Tos'un Armgo and Tiago Do'Urden don't always agree, with Tiago fighting boredom in his new lands and Tos'un ready to use his half Drow daughter, Doum'wielle to his own advantage. Only the threat of Quenthel Baenrae keeps them in line, as do the efforts of Gromph Baenrae, the Mage and Head of the Sorcere. Meanwhile, Regis and Wulfgar have been separated from their friends and must survive in the Underdark tunnels beneath the North, which they manage to do quite handily. But when Jarlaxle intervenes, accompanied by his lover, the two Copper Dragon Sisters, the tide really begins to turn. But who is really on the side of the Dwarves and who is merely opposing Matron Mother Quenthel and her forces? And can the Dwarves work with the humans and Sinnafein and her elves, along with the folk of Silverymoon to free the north of the Drow? This book was... okay at best. I have noticed that I don't really get as excited about Drizzt and his companions as I used to. Part of that is that Salvatore and the publisher seem to be all too willing to give into Drizzt's many fanboys and keep writing about him, when I think he should have been left to pass into obscurity once more. With so many Drizzt books about, sooner or later, I would hope that R.A. Salvatore ran out of enthusiasm for writing about the Drow and picked up some new characters. I am very upset that, say, Cadderly was killed off (and his lady-love Danica). I wanted to read more of those characters, but they just weren't as popular as Drizzt. And I think this series and these characters are jumping the shark at this point. Yes, the battles are still massive and thrilling, but all the joy seems to be gone, and I'd like to only read the next book when R.A. Salvatore has found that joy in writing again. So, still recommended, but only slightly.

Rushed to the Altar by Jane Feather- Jasper Sullivan, Earl of Blackwater, is not a wealthy man. So when his uncle proposes to leave his fortune to Jasper and his brothers, with one stipulation: each one must marry a former prostitute who they saved from her profession. Jasper encounters Clarissa Astley the daughter of a prosperous merchant, when she is living in a brothel and searching desperately for her younger brother, just a child, who has been taken away from their home by her guardian, who wants to eliminate the heir, her brother, and then force her into marriage so that he can take their parents fortune. But on her own, she is unable to find him, and reluctantly, she needs Jasper's help. In return, she agrees to marry him to spite his already spiteful uncle and give him enough money to live on. But when the hand of her Guardian reaches out to snatch her away, Clairssa will have to escape the man she fears the most, and find a life with Jasper, who she is in love with, in the bargain. But can they outwit their foes and triumph before Clarissa is dragged away to a lunatic asylum and his uncle disinherits him? I liked this book. I'd read another book in the series, and all three brothers seem to be getting around their uncle by marrying women who aren't actually courtesans, they just looked like they were. But I liked all the characters, the romance was wonderful and the ending was actually rather appropriate for the villain. Highly enjoyable and highly recommended.

New Spring by Robert Jordan- This is a prequel to the Wheel of Time stories. It starts in the White Tower, as Moiraine Damodred witnesses a foretelling from one of the Tower's Seers. Afterwards, the seer falls dead at Moiraine's feet and precipitates the search for the newly born Dragon Reborn. Moiraine and her best friend Siuan Sanche, join the search for the mother of the Dragon Reborn, looking for women who gave birth in the sight of Dragonmount, which covers a lot of ground. Siuan and Moiraine are sent to one of the army camps to record the borths, with women lining up to do so because the Amyrlin seat offers a reward to any woman who has given birth to a child in the time allotted for the birth. But soon, the test to become a Aes Sedai is given to both of them and both pass, becoming sisters of the Blue Aja. Siuan is taken into the spy service, Moiraine is chocen to learn more magic. But soon she becomes convinced that she knows who the mother of the new Dragon reborn is... or might be, and takes off on her own to investigate. Along the way, she meets an outlander named Lan Mandragoran., he Uncrowned King of a country swallowed by the Blight. As he and his companions are drawn into the conflict between Darkfriends, Black Aja and all too human enemies, Moiraine, Siuan and Lan will have to work together to defeat the dark and find the Dragon Reborn. But how long will it take her to find them, and can she meet the Black Aja and Darkfriends she meets along the way? I actually rather enjoyed this book. It takes place twenty years before the series and ends a few months later, but we get to see the forces being marshaled to look for the Dragon Reborn, who has just been born. Sadly, Moiraine doesn't find Rand until 20 years later, but we get to see her encountering Lan for the first time and how they bonded (and how she bonded him. This book sets up the rest of the series, and like the first books in the series, things actually happen fairly swiftly. This makes it a fast read and it's also surprisingly good. I really enjoyed it all the way through, even if Moiraine *doesn't* find the child she is searching for. Recommended.

The Loving Daylights by Lynsay Sands- Jane Spyrus is a tech geek who designs gadgets for spies. Disturbingly, though, all of the gadgets she designs seem to revolve around sex. A Mini -Missile designed to resemble a bright pink vibrator, Tampons that act as locator beacons, and a condom that reacts to male excitement by shrinking to a fraction of its former size. But when her next door neighbor is kidnapped by her boss, Jane must team up with her grandmother, a feisty ex-spy now confined to a wheelchair and her neighbor's hot brother, Abel Andretti, to find Jane's friend. Luckily, she borrowed a few of Jane's "tampons". But in the process, Jane is called upon to actually *be* a spy, something she isn't quite prepared for. And when Abel, an accountant, and she start getting closer than she's ever been with a man, Jane finds herself pulled in two directions. But can she rescue her friend *and* land a man who is constantly impressed with her mind and ideas, and seems to think she is sexy as well? This book was a mix of laughs and hotness. Jane is clumsy, lacks confidence and is better with technology than people. But when Edie goes missing, Jane will do anything to find her, even become a spy and not just a tech. As she bumbles through the case, she gains skills with people, dressing sexy and builds confidence. And Abel, after a less than successful first meeting, finds himself enjoying both sides of her. I liked their chemistry and how they treated each other, and I would definitely recommend this book to someone looking for a fun, comedic modern romance. Recommended.

Sinful in Satin by Madelaine Hunter- Celia Pennifold's mother was a courtesan, a very rich and famous one. Her mother attempted to sell Celia into the same sort of life, Celia ran away to the country and found a different sort of life working with other women in a gardening business. Now that her mother is passed on, Celia has returned to London to take up residence in one of her mother's houses, the other being sold to pay off her many debts. Unbeknownst to her, though, Jonathan Albrighton, a spy, rented the house from Celia's mother, and is interested in finding her mother's account book, which will shed light on certain diplomatic spying that went on long before. Celia also wants to find it, to find out who her father really is, and why her mother never told her, as she took the secret of the reality of Celia's parentage to the grave with her. But as Celia tries to make a new, quieter,more sedate life for herself, phantoms of the past are knocking at her door, from the man she once loved to the man she is coming to care for deeply. But one cannot go digging into a hidden past without turning up hurtful secrets and when Celia uncovers the truth of who her father is, it may open up a world of new secrets, and the truth about her mother in equal measures. But can she live with the truth of her parentage and the shame of having been born the daughter of a courtesan? And can she find love when a man wants her for nothing more than her body and maidenhead? I liked this book as well. Celia is someone who has lived with the truth of who she is for a long time, and she thinks she has very little illusions about how the world works. But she still does have some, and it up to Jonathan to help her with finding her true father. Jonathan is a spy, trained not to have emotions, but when he starts getting close to Celia, all that changes, and he has to face that he has been lied to as well. I found this story engrossing, for pretty much all of it. And would definitely recommend it to others.

Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt- Temperance Dews is a widow working for her family's Foundling Home, along with her brother, Winter and a servant named Polly. The home is on the edge of St. Giles, a poor, crime-ridden area of London. One night, en route to retrieve a child  who has been abandoned, she is followed home by Lazarus Huntingdon, Lord Caire, a man well-known for his passions, and the twisted ways in which he fulfills them. Caire is in St. Giles to track down the Ghost of St. Giles, reputed to have murdered Caire's mistress by gutting her. But he is unfamiliar with the area, and Mrs. Dews is very familiar, So he asks for her help, offering first money, and then a sexual relationship with him. But Temperance is further-seeing than that, and holds out for an introduction to the Ton, so she can get her Orphanage and Foundling Home a patron who will support them with money donations. A deal is struck, but as they start and continue the search, they discover an inconvenient longing for each other, and they must help each other face the demons in their past before they have any hope of being free of their baggage. But is love too much to expect for these wounded hearts? I loved this book. I'll admit it took a while to warm up to both  characters, but you don't get the sense of how injured they are until near the middle of the book. Eventually, they do end up confronting their past demons, and I loved the true identity of the villain. This is the first book in a series about St. Giles, and several characters are teased as sequel bait, but not in a way I particularly minded. Highly recommended.

Lord of Darkness by Elizabeth Hoyt- Godric St. John is the Ghost of St. Giles, but when the woman he married comes to London to invade his run-down home, he wants her to go away as quickly as possible. He doesn't want to give up being the Ghost or the memories of his first wife, who died early, and the woman he married, Lady Margaret, "Megs" Reading, he has promised to be a husband to in name only. But Megs wants two things from her trip to London, to kill the Ghost of St. Giles, who murdered the man she loved, and to beget a child of her own after she lost the child of her lover. Godric married het to save her reputation, and because her brother forced him into it. But now that Meg is living in his house, doing her best to bring his home back to life, he finds his heart coming alive as well, and when she discovers his secret, he has no choice but to take her along on his search for the murderer of her love, both to prove his own innocence, and to keep her from harm. But can they have a true marriage of equals and find the love they have been denying? And will Godric agree to give up being the Ghost for Megs? Another really excellent book, the fifth in the "Maiden Lane" series. of which this is book 5. I liked seeing Godric and Megs strike sparks off each other, and finally come to admit that they loved and cared for one another. I see that in the time between "Wicked Intentions", several characters have been paired up, and Godric was one of the characters from the first book that it was good to see again. Several years have passed, but the character is a little grimmer and darker than he used to be, sort of Regency Batman. Nonetheless, I enjoyed every minute of the book. Both characters hurt each other and get over their past ties to form a new one with each other, and it held my attention every step of the way. Recommended.

Redshirts by John Scalzi- Andrew Dahl is an Ensign newly assigned to the Universal Union Flagship Intrepid. Older than the usual Ensigns, he is a refugee from Forshan. But Human, not alien. He was a seminary student of the Forshan religion until a religious Schism wiped out the abbey he had made his home. With nowhere left to go, he joined the Union Academy and was assigned to the Intrepid. But soon after he arrives on board, he discovers a curious fact. Whenever someone is looking for Ensigns for away missions, everyone seems to disappear. In asking his crewmates, he discovers that this ship has an abnormally high casualty rate. While the Captain and Science Officer are never affected, new recruits to the ship seem to die like mayflies every time they beam down to a new planet. It's so much more than other ships in the same fleet, even ones tasked to dangerous missions in the Union, that the lower crew members have been avoiding going on away missions. But what could lead to such an increased threat of death? There are crew members, mostly the Captain and the Bridge Crew, who never seem to be affected, except for the Astrogator, who is regularly menaced, but always saved at the last minute. But when a theory of what s happening is proposed by a crewmember who seems to have literally disappeared, can Dahl and his friends on the lower decks  discover if the theory is true and work to ameliorate what is happening before they die as well? The books ends in three novelettes that examine characters in the past and their reaction to meeting the crewmen from the future, and how they deal with that. This is an amusing, yet also horrifying book. There are plenty of nods to Star Trek, but the true culprit is a rip-off cable show. And the landing parties usually consist of Captain, Science Officer, and Ensign Expendable, sometimes more than one. What it would be like to live on board a ship where to attract the notice of the senior crew is basically, to die, was unexpectedly chilling, making this an effective mix of humor and horror. It sounds like it might be funny, but to the characters caught in the trap, it's no joke, and I enjoyed it very much. It reminded me of the Stargate SG-1 episode where we see a TV series based on the Stargate SG-1 team, and while that is played straight rather than for laughs, this book is going to stay with me for a long time. A very long time. Highly recommended.

Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett- When Polly Perks' brother Paul marched off to war a few years ago, the troops were promised that the war would be short and victorious. But when her father falls ill (and the local god, Nuggan, has declared a woman owning a business is an abomination, she decides to cut her hair, run off to join the army and follow him to bring him back home. But Polly's nation, Borogravia, is badly outmatched by the forces of Zlobenia,. and even worse, Zlobenia is allied with Ankh-Morporkh, who has sent Duke Commander Vimes to oversee the War. But as Polly joins Sergeant Jackrum and the rest of her newly-recruited squad of In and Outs, she begins to realize that being a man is harder than she thought, and that most of the "men" in her group aren't even men at all. But can this Monstrous Regiment of Women, dressed like men, end the war with Borogravia and Ankh-Morpork and bring peace to the land? And can they survive the march to the front and bring down the fort where the forces of Zlobenia are holed up, free High Command and get out again safely? For Nuggan has declared women dressing like men to be an abomination, along with the color blue, oysters and rocks) and just being in their position means that they, too are an abomination. Can they still win the day? Terry Pratchett is known for his humor, and writing comedy, but this book edged much closer to satire that out and out comedy. In his novel, "The Truth", Terry took on the press. But here, it's the military mindset- mostly of the commanders and planners rather than the soldiers left to carry out their orders. Vimes is not the only character from previous books to show up here. Buggy Swires, Sergeant Angua, William deWorde and Otto Chriek, among others. Plus, there is a vampire and an Igor, and numerous other typical characters, and a troll as well. I loved this book, and I would definitely recommend it for a good dose of humor. Highly recommended.