Thursday, May 03, 2012

2012, Part 3

The Agency: Body at the Tower by Y.S. Lee Reunites Mary Quinn with her sometimes love interest James Easton to investigate a series of deaths at the sight of London's Clock Tower, Big Ben. Mary uncovers mismanagement and sabotage, while James, back from India after falling victim to Malaria, is a mere shadow of the man he used to be. But when he recognizes Mary from their previous foray together, it could blow her cover as a young boy working as a nail runner and tea fetcher (tea that is usually liquor). Can Mary satisfy James' interest in why she has shown up working as a boy while keeping her real mission secret, and can she keep him safe from those attempting to sabotage the clock? Another excellent foray into the world of Mary Quinn. This story is as full of intrigue and danger as the first book "Spy in the House", and what a change time has made in both characters. We also see Mary finally get a glimpse into her real past, but will the true knowledge of who she is elude her?

The Secret World Chronicle: Book Two-World Divided by Mercedes Lackey with Cody Martin, Dennis Lee and Veronica Giguere. A world of superheroes has to deal with the outcome after they were invaded by otherworldly aliens from an alternate dimension. A real Angel acts as advisor to several heroes, but is constrained from being truly helpful by her orders from God, and a secret cabal set up by Nicola Tesla, among others, The Red Army, and a coalition run by a supervillain must team up to help destroy the invaders on the ground and find out what they are really going after and why they are still here after the invasion. It culminates in a huge beat-down on the Aliens in Atlanta, but the threat is not over yet. This book came about because the authors are involved in an online Superhero MMO, and that is rather obvious in the storylines, which seem very much like the ones you see in MMOs like City of Heroes, Champions Online and DC Heroes Online. That being said, it was a mistake to pick up this book number 2 when I have never read book number 1. None of the characters really appealed to me and I felt like I had missed out way too much by not reading the first book first. And yet, it didn't make me want to seek out the first book, either. If you haven't read the first book, save your money and find something else, as this book won't do it for you.

Firelight by Kristen Callahan- Miranda Ellis is a woman with a strange ability to generate heat and fire. The last child of a poor household thanks to her father's gambling, she is aghast when her father barters her hand and body to a nobleman named Lord Benjamin Asher for payment for his debts. Miranda doesn't want to marry Asher, who is disfigured and has a fearsome reputation, but her father tells her that if he doesn't, he will cast her out of her home forever. Miranda reluctantly marries Asher and finds out there is so much more to her husband than she or anyone else knows- he's been cursed due to a past event, and she, unbeknownst to him, is the only one who can break the curse. But the woman who originally cursed him wants to keep Asher in her clutches, and Miranda's strange powers seem to be the only thing that can deal with the other woman as well. But can Miranda, who is coming to love her husband, figure out what she needs to do before he decides to sacrifice himself to end the curse, and his maker? Part of what attracted me to this book was Miranda's strange powers, but they weren't dealt with in a way I would call realistic. For example, those who know of them never seem to wonder where they came from or how she got them, and I was thinking that they would therefore be commonplace as a result. But they aren't. No one else seems to have any kind of powers at all, and nobody wonders if she is a witch or child of the Devil or anything like that, not even her father. It was strange and I didn't like that nobody reacts like that in the book. It seemed unrealistic, to say the least. Other than that, the story was good, and I'd recommend it, but the problems with her powers may find you feeling the same sense of unreality.

When Maidens Mourn by C. S. Harris- Sebastian St. Cyr, newly married to the wife of the man who is his greatest enemy, takes on the mystery of who killed his wife's good friend Gabrielle Tennyson and left her body floating in a small craft on Camlet Moat. Gabrielle believed that Camlet Moat was the site of Camelot, but not everyone agreed with her assessment. Suspects for her killing include jealous fellow intellectual rivals, the foreman of her excavation crew, a nearby nobleman who was supporting her in her dig, and his wife, who didn't like Gabrielle at all and thought she was a threat to their marriage. Along the way, Sebastian finds out that Gabrielle had a lover, a Frenchman who was being ransomed back to France after the Napoleonic Wars and who endangered his parole by falling for her and leaving London to be with her.Sebastian and Hero must untangle the threads surrounding Gabrielle's life and death and find her real killer before they kill again to cover up the reasons for the deed. I like this series, and every book in it has proven fascinating. Sebastian is an unusual hero, with physical traits that allow him to almost always come out ahead in conflicts. But we see him getting to know Hero better, and for the two of them to start trusting each other, to the point where they may actually fall in love with each other, possibly in a future book. I certainly hope so, and highly recommended.

The Lord of Illusion by Kathryne Kennedy- the third and final novel in the Elf Lords trilogy takes us to Dreamhaeme, Land of Illusions, where Camille Ashton, last descendant of the white seer who witnessed the Elf Lords arrival in England, is imprisoned. Drystan Hawke, minor scion of Dreamhaeme, has dreamed of Camille and knows she is the key to finally overthrowing the Elf Lords who rule the land and sending them back to their home. He takes on the role of his brother, and heads to Dreamhaeme to find and free Camille, but her years of enslavement have left her emotionally wounded and not open to investing in any of the finer emotions, as her every attempt at finding someone to love, even as a friend, have ended with her being kicked in the teeth and back to being a slave once more. But when Drystan saves her from being raped and beaten once more, he is determined to get her to trust him- because to leave Dreamhaeme and steal the scepter from its lord, they will need the help of his Dragon, and the other scepters- and to banish the Elf Lords from England, they will have to find where they originally emerged into the human world. But will Drystan be able to unlock Camille's heart and the secret of her power, and can the half-Elven hybrids like Drystan overthrow the even more powerful Elf Lords? This book is the last in the series, and at the same time, it disappointed me that so many of the stories of the other hybrids stealing the scepters from the Elf Lords were glossed over and only revealed in this book. I was hoping to read the stories of the theft of the other scepters, but this was not to be, and I found the ending seem to lack something because of that. This could have been a triumphant ending to the series, but it wasn't as good as I felt it should be. Recommended, but not highly.

Beyond Seduction by Emma Holly- Merry Vance doesn't want to be married, but her mother seems to be pushing her into a marriage with her long-suffering suitor, Ernest Althorp. Even her father wants her to marry Ernest, and is upset when she turns him down yet again. Unbeknownst to Merry, her mother is being blackmailed by Althorp's father, who she once had an affair with, to get Merry to marry Ernest, otherwise, he will reveal their affair. Merry decides to disgrace herself to get out of marrying, and a chance encounter with the artist, Nicholas Craven, provides her with the means: he asks her to pose for him, and she agrees. But she doesn't count on falling in love with him, and when she becomes his lover, she finds herself falling even harder. He makes her see herself as a beauty, and paints her as Lady Godiva- and when her mother sees the painting, she knows Merry's story of being in Wales with a friend of hers is a lie. Dragged back to England by her family, Merry is in disgrace, but Nicholas, unable to live without her, must do the unthinkable and claim back his noble title in order to wed her. But can all the lies in her family come between their desires? I loved this book, which was very hot and sensual. I could see how Merry could fall for Nicholas and he for her, and my sympathy was always with her. Highly recommended.

The Slayer Chronicles: First Kill by Heather Brewer- Joss McMillan is just a normal kid until Vampires invade his house and kill his sister. Then, all he wants is vengeance on them. But he's in luck, because his family is part of the organization of Slayers, and only one child in each generation will become a Slayer. But Joss' grandfather believes he is too weak and soft-hearted to be a good Slayer, and at the Slayer training camp in the wilderness, Joss gets that slammed into him again and again. Unfortunately, someone is killing the Slayers who are his trainers, and is trying to pin the blame on Joss. Can Joss discover and kill the vampire or person killing the other Slayers and become a Slayer, or will his training mission end with his death? I got into Heather Brewer's Vladimir Tod series, but this one, while I wanted to like it very much, was just so much of a non-starter for me. I didn't really like Joss and the Slayers seemed just brutal and cold, especially his grandfather. So, I wasn't rooting for the Slayers and the book was just a slog. Not recommended.

Natsume's Book of Friends, Volume 10 by Yuki Midorikawa- Takeshi Natsume can see all sorts of spirits, something that causes him problems. But when he inherit's his aunt's book of names the number of spirits wanting to kill and eat him for the book goes up drastically. But when Natsume finds a Yokai willing to protect him in exchange for the book when he dies, his attitude towards the Yokai undergoes a change. There are two main stories in this volume: in one, a boy from a school Natsume used to attend returns, wanting to know if the girl he is meeting is human, and he blackmails Natsume into helping him. In the second, a group of Yokai seeking the return of the Forest God for their festival try and threaten Natsume into helping them. But his exorcist friend Natori is helping the other side in this. Good stories, with unusual outcomes, and I like how Yokai are at least as complicated as humans, both in morals and emotions. Thought-provoking, sometimes sad, always heartwarming. Highly recommended.

Day of the Dragon by Ruth York- Dr. Madison Dartmoor is an expert archaeologist who is excavating a cave in remote Italy, but when she comes to Las Vegas to give a speech at a conference, she discovers that her discovery is getting her attention from all the wrong circles. Not only do some people want to suppress what she has found, some of them want to kill her and destroy the site for all time. Ramsey Gallagher may look like a man, but he is actually a Dragon, though long ago he lost many of his powers. Madison's discovery may mean there is hope for him to regain them, so he wants and needs to keep her alive. Unfortunately for them both, Madison's own assistant and mentor may be part of the plot to destroy the site. Can Ramsay keep his secret even as he falls for the beautiful Doctor, and can she help him reinvigorate the Dragon part of himself before the forces allied against them conspire to destroy the site? This was an interesting book, and it was good to see the history of Dragons from the other books Ruth York has written. The challenges are immense, but the hero and heroine face up to them with courage, and the love story was incredible. Recommended.

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