Wednesday, July 25, 2012

2012, Part 12

Born of Silence by Sherrilyn Kenyon- Darling Cruel is a member of the most hated royal family in the world, and he is the most hated of them all. But in reality, his uncle is the only one who lives up to the name, and who slew Darling's father to gain the throne. But Darling, who is known as a gay man, isn't, actually. He's just posing as one to cover up his mother's many lovers, even though this has caused him to be both hated and scorned. But he also masquerades as Kere, the second in command of the Resistance that is fighting against his uncle, while he is in disguise. He can't legally fight his uncle until he's 26, but he's found a loophole in the rules. He just needs to get the rest of his family to safety, and he will do it. But when he prepares to flee with his sister, he is captured by the same Resistance he is part of, and without his disguise, nobody recognizes him. The members of the Resistance take him and torture him, and it isn't until he is just about to be rescued by his friends, that the woman he loves, the Leader of the Resistance, discovers who he really is, when one of the men shows her a ring he tried to protect, and she recognizes it as belonging to her mother. Freed by her friends, they slaughter the Resistance, take Zarya hostage, and try to put Darling back together. But when Darling is finally free to take care of his uncle, he goes completely crazy. Can bringing Zarya back to him restore his mind and calm his rage? or will he take revenge on her, thinking that she betrayed him to the men who tortured him?And can Zarya convince him she had nothing to do with what her men did? And can her love save him from an eternity of rage and madness? I liked this series. Sherrilyn Kenyon still sort of overplays the trope of "How abused can I make this hero's past?", but plenty of abuse occurs in the present, and most of the abuse-worthy stuff occurs because the hero offers himself up as a sacrifice to protect others. I liked how he was able to hold himself back from being cruel to everyone, and that the ending showed what kind of man he truly was. I enjoyed the ending more than reading some of the torture parts, but this was a good book. Recommended.

Local Custom by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller- Er Thom yos'Galan is being commanded by his mother to marry, but he cannot forget the Terran woman who had become his lover. He agrees to marry, but asks leave to take care of something before he meets his new bride. When his brother goes to give him leave, he goes to find Anne Davis and tell her he loves her- only to find she has given birth to s aon- his son, which she has named Shan yos'Galan, in deference to him as the father. But faced with a son of his body, Er Thom must take Shan back to Liad to introduce Shan to his delm and thodelm, the heads of his clan. Unfortunately, she doesn't see it in quite his way, and the local custom that each of them expects is wildly different. Can Er Thom convince Anne he loves only her and wants to be with only her, or will his mother, who doesn't want a Terran in her family, either as Er Thom's bride or the mother of his son, contrive to end their relationship? When Anne's work as a linguist threatens her life and the life of her son, can Er Thom track her down and save her from those who would kill her to conceal the truth that she has found concerning the origins of the Liaden and Terran languages? This book was a delight to read, showing us Shan yos'Galan's parents and how they nearly didn't get married because each didn't know how to deal with or react to the local customs of the other. I loved Anne and Er Thom together, and how they finally overcame all obstacles to be with each other was simply wonderful. Er Thom's mother was such a bitch- even though she wanted the best for the family, she tried to do it in a way that ran roughshod over everyone else, because of her own frailties and problems. Excellently done and a joy to read. Highly recommended.

Commedia Della Morte by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro- Saint-Germain found the love of his life in Madelaine de Montalia, but when she became a vampire like him, he had to give her up to run her own life. Now, thanks to the French Revolution, Madelaine's life is in danger- because she was a noblewoman, no matter how well she treated her servants, the Committees of Correspondence would have her die to finish purging the nobles of the Revolution. When she is detained in her home by soldiers, she sends her current lover, Theron Heurer, to Saint Germain with a plea for help and rescue. And Saint Germain has an idea on how to rescue Madelaine, but he will need the help of his own current lover, Photine, the leader of a Commedia del Arte troupe. But her son, Enee, has become dangerously jealous of Sant-Germain, and on the long sojourn in France, his enmity rises to a dangerous head, it may endanger all their lives... I love the Saint-Germain books, and it was nice to see him go to rescue Madelaine de Montalia. It shows that Vampires don't always make good choices, and that their lovers are not always well chosen, as by the end, both have been abandoned by their human lovers, but find solace in each other. Highly recommended.

Dorchester Terrace by Anne Perry- Thomas Pitt is now the head of Special Branch, having taken over from his friend and former boss, Victor Narraway. But Aunt Vespasia Cumming-Gould has a friend whose past life may tie into a horrible plot that could endanger English-Austrian relations, and endanger her own life. Serafina Monserrat was a revolutionary when she was younger, and her own knowledge of secrets terrifies her as she moves into her twilight years, as she sometimes no longer remembers where she is or who she is talking to. But when she turns up dead of a Laudnaum overdose she couldn't possibly have taken herself, even by accident, who is responsible for her death? And what might it have to do with Austrian-English relations and the possibile assassination of the scholarly Duke Alois of Hungary, and why does Tregarron, the boss of Thomas's brother-in-Law Jack, seem so dismissive of the idea? Is it because he doesn't trust Pitt, who is new to his position, or is there a deeper, darker reason for his distrust? As plots abound, Pitt, Charlotte and Narraway must work to discover the truth, and keep England, and themselves, safe. This book was quite a bit different for the other novels in this series. In the other books, Pitt has always been sure of his place, and sure he had superiors to back him up. But now, it seems that's no longer the case- he's the head of Special Branch, and everything rests on his shoulders alone. But does he have the knowledge and expertise to solve the case? I love how this mixed family tensions with Pitt's work and how the different jobs of Pitt and Jack caused tension between Charlotte and her sister Emily, and I always love Vespasia Cumming-Gould, who is simply awesome for an old Victorian lady. Highly recommended and enjoyable.

Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck- Kelsey may have won Ren back from Lokesh, but he no longer remembers their love or their romance, and no matter how hard she tries to bring back his memories by making him his favorite cookies she bakes, he not only doesn't remember her, but is actively hurt by touching her. Kelsey tries not to get hurt by it, but when he tells her to forget him and starts looking for love with another girl, Kelsey is pushed right into the arms of Ren's brother, Kishan. It's only when she, Ren, Kishan, Mr. Kadam and Nilima set off on another voyage by sea to retrieve another thing for the goddess Durga to help Ren and Kishan break their curse that Ren finally regains his memories when he sees Kelsey kissing Kishan, and he tells her he was responsible for giving up his memories to try and keep her safe. But Kelsey has been too hurt by Ren, and even though she is angry with him, she is determined not to give in to love with him again. Her problem is that her love for Kishan is a safe and comfortable thing, while her love for Ren is an all-consuming fire. But as they face off against five celestial dragons to retrieve Durga's necklace, can Ren win Kelsey back or will Lokesh, who now wants Kelsey for himself, steal her away before either brother can win her completely? This was another really excellent adventure, but I found all the back and forthing with the romance subplot to be more than a little... tiring. It reminded me a lot of Twilight, and that isn't a good thing. But generally, the adventure made up for that, and I am really hoping the next book is the last. You'll enjoy meeting the various dragons, and my two favorites were the last two- the gold dragon, who controls all the wealth and riches of the world, and the crystal/white Dragon, who pretends to be fearsome, but is actually the nicest of them all. Recommended.

Wolf Who Rules by Wen Spencer- Tinker, the human girl who has been changed into an elf and married to the leader of the elven enclave near the City of Pittsburgh, is back in this book. Pittsburgh has been dragged into the Elven lands/dimension/world, and the gate is blocked because three different worlds are pressing on it simultaneously- the human world, the elven world, and the world of the Oni. Now, monsters are coming from the Oni world, including a Dragon, and endangering Pittsburgh and the humans entrapped there. The elven response is to go after all the Oni and kill them, including half-oni children which are the product of an intermarriage with humans. But a Dragon from the Elven lands has also showed up, and Tinker must deal with her new, elven sensibilities and culture, and her growing feelings for Pony, one of her guards. She feels she is being disloyal to Windwolf, her husband, for her feelings, but unbeknownst to her, Elves have quite a different conception of what guards are there for. But as Tinker continues to dream about the Wizard of Oz, and a contingent of Elves from the Stone and Fire clans descend on the area to fight back an invasion by the Oni, Tinker must reconnect with her mother, now an astronaut on the orbiting part of the gate, and find a way to bring the gate back to earth, reopen the gate to the human part of Earth, and save the Tengu, who have been enslaved by the Oni, as well as keep her husband and the entire city safe. But can she do it before the Oni Dragon, and the Oni, come through and kill them all? I liked this book. I loved the first book, Tinker, and i honestly thought it was a stand-alone book, so to see this made me squeal in glee, a little. I love how Tinker works, and I loved finding out bits about the Elves, and reading more about all the characters I read in the original book. In short, this book was practically perfect, and I loved it. The only place where it failed to be utterly perfect was... now I want to read more with these characters. Highly recommended, and utterly involving.

The Magistrates of Hell by Barbara Hambly- James Asher and his wife, Lydia, have come to Peking, China to track down the new kind of vampires with James's mentor, the vampire Hunter known as Solomon Karlebach. But they are not alone in the city, as their former vampire companion, Don Simon Ysidro is also in the city, undertaking the same task. But when a young woman is killed at a diplomatic party, the father of the Young man suspected of killing her, a former classmate of Asher, asks him to find the real killer, or at least, someone who he can blame to take the suspicion off his own son. But as Ysidro and Asher investigate the problem of the new kind of vampires, he finds that Karlebach may have deeper secrets than even James knows, and his investigations into the killing of the girl uncover a murderer hiding in the diplomatic quarter. But when Lydia is kidnapped by a criminal syndicate backed by a real vampire to protect the new vampires, because they wish to exploit them themselves, James will have to protect his wife, save Ysidro, and bring down a criminal syndicate to ensure that he is able to leave Peking with his life and reputation intact. I always love Barbara Hambly's mysteries, and I have loved James Asher ever since reading "Those Who Hunt the Night" many years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, though there weren't many sympathetic characters besides James and his family. Recommended.

Point of Knives by Melissa Scott- After the events of Point of Hopes, Nicolas Rathe and Phillip Eslingen are drawn into another mystery, this involving the slaying of a man and his son both known to be pirates, within a few blocks of each other on the same night. Grandad Steen was retired from the business, being too old for it now, and his son was still a sometimes sailor. His grandson is sailing now, and due back in Astreiant at any time. But Phillip Eslingen is found standing over the body of Grandad Steen's son, and says he was there to meet the son for his employer, Hanselin Caiazzo, over a matter of some gold- ever since the events of the summer, Caiazzo has been strapped for cash, which doesn't bother Rathe one bit, but Grandad Steen's son was about to make a deal with Caiazzo to get him the gold that he needed. But it seems that Caiazzo isn't the only one who needs that gold, or thinks that it should be theirs. With the return of Grandad Steen's grandson, a woman comes out of the works, claiming to be Grandad Steen's new wife, and she has a valid marriage certificate, but his grandson never met her and doesn't know who she is, and says his grandfather wasn't looking to marry, and wouldn't remarry. But the gold is foreign, and may have some of the same powers that alchemical gold does, and may be being sought for the same reason- to bring down the government of Astreiant, either from without or within, Can Nicolas and Phillip find the parties behind the killings, bring them to justice, and find the chest of Gold that Grandad Steen hid and make it safe for the city before someone decides to kill them as well? Or will the forces of chaos prevail? I loved this book, and I loved this series, which may not continue now that Melissa scott's co-writer has passed on. But I did love this book, even though it's rather small- and much more explicit about the relationship between the two main characters. I loved the mystery, and I'd love to see more, so I hope this isn't the end of the stories about Astreiant or these two characters. Highly recommended.

Stupid American History: Tales of Stupidity, Strangeness and Mythconceptions by Leland Gregory is a series of factoids about people, places and events in American History, some of which are really, patently stupid, but most of which are simply amusing, like how Andrew Jackson never kissed a baby during his term of Presidency. When handed a baby to kiss, he handed it over to his Secretary of War. It debunks stories that aren't true (when asked about his supposed response to one of his cabinet about Ulysses S. Grant being a drunk, and President Lincoln saying if he could find out what Grant drank, he'd have a case of it delivered to ALL his generals, Lincoln said he'd never said it), and little known historical facts- During the wild west Era, Tucson Arizona had 3000 people, two doctors, a newspaper, a brewery and several saloons, but only one bathtub. As for stupidity. it's there, too, with anecdotes about how the builder of the Empire State Building wrote an article in the Ladies Home Journal called "Everyone should be rich", two months before the Stock Market crashed, setting off the great depression. I found this book to be funny and amusing and occasionally let me know something I didn't before. It's not a really deep book, but it is fun, and it's something you can read in stages, a few pages a day or so, as it's a bit of a chore to read straight through. But if you're looking for something amusing, this book has you covered. Recommended.

Brainless: The Lies and Lunacy of Ann Coulter by Joe Maguire- Ann Coulter is a well known right wing pundit who is famous for unleashing scathing attacks on the left, liberals and anyone that catches her ire. But who is she; really, and where is she coming from with her attacks? This book traces Ann's history, and the attacks she has made on everything from Planned Parenthood to 9/11 Widows (who she said were dancing on their murdered husband's graves at the thought of receiving the money they were owed) and most especially, Bill Clinton (numerous lies, almost too numerous to mention). She also has a hate on for other women (You shouldn't vote and should just stay home), Atheists and Non-Christians (you are all going to hell), Planned Parenthood (who want to promote abortions) and others. This book provides proof of when and where she made all those attacks, and why she was wrong, with extensive footnotes. Reading this book was a real eye-opener. I know a lot of conservatives swear by her, and the titles of her books certainly rub me the wrong way, as well as the jokes people use when talking about her (Ann the Man, Mann Coulter), but this was a look at what she says, and s well as being eye-opening, it's also stomach-turning. If you don't already like Ann Coulter, this book provides great information on what she says and how she gets it wrong. And if you do, you can always check out the attribution list and see if the author got it wrong for yourself. Highly recommended.

Soulless: Ann Coulter and the Right-Wing Church of Hate by Susan Estrich- In addition to her scathing attacks on other people, one of the most frequent comments about Ann Coulter is how she has lowered the level of discourse in this country by her out and out attacks, becoming the High Priestess of Hate for the nastiness and scorn she has unleashed on her opponents and those she disagrees with. This book shows Ann in all her unmitigated hatred, and while she may not have unleashed the tide of hate and nastiness in this country, she has done little to stop it or stem the tide. And how does she get away with it? Much like Sarah Palin, nobody really objects on her side because she is a woman and a lot of men seem to think she is good-looking. But sadly, looks are only on the outside, while ugly goes to the bone. And we get to see a lot of the ugly side of Ann Coulter here, and I, personally, think her looks are highly overrated. Another excellent book pointing out where Ann gets it wrong and her incredible nastiness towards anyone who disagrees with her. Even when they are correct and she is not. Another eye-opening book that shows why looks shouldn't prevail over substance. Highly recommended.

Concierge Confidential by Michael Fazio with Michael Malice- A Concierge is a service offered by high-end hotels. If you need to know where to go for dinner, the best place for steak, or need a helicopter to take you from New York City to Atlantic City for some high-stakes gambling, they are the one who can make it happen. Michael Fazio started out in the Entertainment Industry, and found he was better at getting his boss what she needed and even enjoyed making it happen. So after bailing out of the film industry and spending some time as a lounge singer on a cruise line, he got a job at the Intercontinental Hotel and became a Concierge. This book shows how he learned on the job and some of the people- good, bad and indifferent, he had to deal with during the course of the job. He also showed how he worked and how he did what he did, and how you can do it, too (well, if you have the same contacts he does). I liked this book because he showed how that service happens and what it takes to do that kind of job. This was an unusual book, and I liked it a lot. Reading it was amusing and entertaining, and showed how hard it is to do the job right. Highly recommended, and the stories in this one are the best.

Crimes of Passion: An Unblinking Look at Murderous Love by Howard Engel- This book is a look at crimes of passion committed by men and women throughout history- specifically a look at 25 different cases where love led to death, everything from Dr. Hawley Crippen to Lorena Bobbit to OJ Simpson. A look at why these murders happened and why their trials either led to a conviction or acquittal, and the changing attitudes towards crimes of passion that these outcomes showed. This book was fascinating at first, but in the end, it became kind of a slog to read, even with the trial details. More interesting was reading the outcomes and how it showed changing attitudes towards women and crimes of passion. Recommended, but it can be boring.

FairyTail Volumes 16-20 by Hiro Mashima- Back from their last mission, Lucy and Natsu worry over the Master of the Fairy Tail Guild. Thankfully, he will make it, and after the Fantasia Festival, Natsu, Lucy, Erza and Gray are sent to make contact with the members of three other guilds: Hibi, Eve, Ren and the Guildmaster, Ichiya of the Blue Pegasus guild, Lyon, Jura and Sherry of the Lamia Scale Guild, and the child, Wendy, of the Cait Shelter Guild to take out the Dark Guilds. But Wendy is not alone- she is followed by Carla, a talking Cat like Happy. The Dark Guilds are talking about something called Fantasia, and The Oracion Seis are teaming up to find it. But first, they must revive Jellal, the dark magician and former friend of Erza, who tried to destroy the world, as only he knows where Fantasia is. And only Wendy has the power to Revive him, as she can heal literally anything. And she was also rescued by Jellal, so she has a reason to bring him back. But when he is revived, he can't remember anything, except that the Fantasia is evil and must be destroyed, but the leader of the Oracion Seis sends the city that is part of Fantasia heading towards the guild of Cait Shelter. But why? What is so important about the Cait Shelter Guild, and what does that mean for Wendy? Afterwards, Wendy joins the Fairy Tail Guild, and we discover why Claudia can talk, like Happy, and who she is. But when they travel to another dimension to get the guild back, can they prevail on a world with no magic? This was an engaging arc, and I found myself glad I could read the entire thing at once, back to back. I enjoyed the story, and while it occasionally got Dragonball-esque, being able to read the entire thing in one go actually made me happier than having to spread it out over days or weeks (or even months). I like what happened with and to Jellal and the details of the Cait Shelter Guild and why it existed. The new Arc that is starting also promises to be entertaining, but I am going to wait until it's complete before reading it. Recommended.

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