Thursday, November 15, 2012

2012, Part 14

Personal Assets by Emma Holly- Béatrix Clouet's mother owned and operated the store known as Meilleurs Amis, but when her mother dies, the company is left in the hands of her lover, Phillip, the young artist and model that Béatrix loved first, and Béatrix finds solace in painting and becoming an artist, but still can't help but be attracted to Phillip. A visit by her college friend Lela gives her hope and an idea- to be an established artist on her own. But Lela has a request- to take over the New York shop and see if she can't pull it out of the tailspin it's been in, while Béatrix tends to the  rest of the company, and Phillip. As Béatrix comes into her own and discovers what she really wants out of life, Lela encounters the boss of her old flame and becomes incredibly attracted to him without knowing who he is, really. As Béatrix and Phillip become closer, Lela discovers who her new lover is. But can he be trusted with her heart and her secret? And when Phllip and Bea are outed as lovers, this may be the end of Meilleurs Amis. Can they come up with a way of saving the company that both of them love? I found this book very hot, in a physical way, it's much closer to erotica than traditional romance. But that didn't make me love it any less. In fact, I liked it better for its hotness, and it made the book a very satisfying read. Recommended.

Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan- Mel lives in the Town of New Whitby, started and still mostly controlled by vampires. However, the vampires, who live in groups known as "shades", live in their areas of town, and the humans live separately, But when a new Vampire named Francis starts attending the same school as Mel and her friend Cathy, Mel instantly hates him and wonders why he is attending a human school with humans. He's likely hundreds of years older than they are, so what does he need to learn? But Cathy is entranced by the first sight of the mysterious vampire, and soon believes that he is "the One", the person she is destined for and fated to be with. But Mel doesn't want to lose her friend, and begins investigating Francis and why he wants to go to their school. Along the way, she also gets drawn into the problems of another friend, the daughter of the Principal of the School, whose father supposedly ran off with a vampire who fell in love with him. But nobody seems to think he would have done any of this. On top of it all, Mel meets a human boy who is being raised by Francis' Shade, and whose very existence calls everything she has ever believed about  vampires into question. And if she can't change Cathy's mind about becoming a vampire, will Kit change her own? I picked this book up because of the title, which riffs on the whole "Team Edward/Team Jacob" thing that that the Twilight books and movies used to sell themselves. And while Mel is a great character, she's not flawless or removed from the whole idea of romance with a non-human creature- she's actively against it, being bigoted against the whole idea. The book shows how she changes and grows from her rather knee-jerk prejudice against vampires into something more balanced, to the point where she becomes very adult about the whole thing. I enjoyed this book a lot, and it turned a lot of the tropes about vampires on their heads. Definitely worth a look if you are sick of the whole "Twilight" thing.

Live and Let Drood by Simon R. Green- When Eddie Drood returns home to his family one day to discover that they have disappeared and the family home has been destroyed, he goes a little bit crazy, thinking and knowing that he is the Last Drood and looking for who might have done this to him and those he loves. Not even Molly Metcalf, the witch and woman he loves, can bring him out of his funk. Until he realizes that while the house that had been destroyed was A Drood House, it wasn't *his* Drood House. The house must have been spirited away to another dimension and this one left behind as a decoy. After taking care of a few villains who would loot the remains of the house for profit, Eddie must ally himself with Moxxon's Mistake, a set of sentient armor created by his family long ago. The armor killed its maker, and with Ethel, the otherworldly intelligence that creates the Drood armor gone with his family, he has no choice if he wants to get his family back. But who activated Alpha Red Alpha and made his family disappear to another reality? Eddie will have to ally with the Rogue Droods to bring his family back and discover and punish whoever made it disappear in the first place. And along the way, he may just discover what really happened to his parents. But how will he take the news? I am very slowly warming to Eddie Drood. He's not my favorite of  Simon Green's heroes (that would be Hawk and Fisher, from the series of the same name and of the "Blue Moon" series, but he's  not as objectionable as he used to me. I still want to slap his face, just not as often, but he can still be a smarmy git, so YMMV on that. I liked the armor and this book definitely set up the next- I can't wait to see what really happened to his parents, and why they are still hiding after all these years. And you get smacked in the face, over and over, with who his parents are supposed to resemble. I got so tired of it by the end that when "Patrick" and "Diana" show up yet again, I rolled my eyes, and said aloud, "I get it, I get it. The Avengers. Stop beating that horse, it's dead." And yet the ultimate revelation was a surprise. Recommended.

Time Untime by Sherrilyn Kenyon- Kateri Avani is a scientist, but when she receives a stone in the mail from a colleague of hers, she knows he has found something special- because it predates humanity in the Americas. And yet, it exists, and it is covered with strange writing that no one seems to be able to interpret. So when a strange man named Cabeza shows up and demands the stone from Teri, she believes it is the stone he is seeking. Only three strange warriors show up to defend her, and she ends up with one of them, a man named Ren, in Hell and is forced to work with him and trust him to survive. The longer they are together, the more she experiences his past, and sees the kind of man he is, so that even though she has dreamt of him killing her from the time she was young, she grows to trust and care for him. But he doesn't give his own trust so easily, and he actively resists falling for  her- he trusted once before, and got kicked in the teeth for it. But Kateri is the only one who can prevent the world from ending at the end of the year. Can Ren keep her safe until she is needed, and help her restart the clock of time that is needed for the world to go on? Can he keep himself from betraying the woman he has come to love? This was an interesting book, and set up on Mayan beliefs rather than the Greek and Roman (and Atlantean) myths that the rest of the series runs on. I enjoyed it, but I was a little disappointed that the supposed betrayal that Ren had promised to save Kateri's life didn't get more time. It didn't seem to impact the story at all. I have no idea how the series is going to go on from here (or even if it will), but the problem of Nick is still around, and while Kenyon has claimed that the series might end here (I think it will just be the end of the Mayan-themed stories), it seems rather pointless to end it here. Also, Ren joins the 'Worst Childhood in the World" club, which has become quite overplayed in my book. Recommended, but not very highly. It's sort of more "same old, same old" once again.

God Save the Queen by Kate Locke- Ever since the plague came into the world, the highborn have mutated. In the cold areas of the world, they became Werewolves, while elsewhere, they became Vampires. And then there are the unfortunates- those who mutated far more wildly, becoming goblins. Most aristos can interbreed with humans, and their children, the halfies, protect the Aristos from goblins and humans both. Alexandra Vardan, known as Xandra, is a halfie who is the daughter of a British Aristo Vampire. But when her sister Drusiilla goes missing, she goes to the Goblins, all of whom know everything that is going on in the streets, for answers. And they tell her that her sister is in Bedlam for attacking one of the Aristos. But when her sister burns herself to death while in custody, Xandra knows she is still alive, because the body she is shown isn't her sister's. Who is protecting her sister, and why did she feel it was necessary to pretend to die? Xandra finds a rot running deeply through the country, through the Aristos and Halfies alike, and there are people who want to bring down the current order of the country and place something new, and possibly, hopefully better, in its place. And both sides want Xandra to join them. But when Xandra learns the truth about herself, will she be able to look beyond the lies spun by both sides and find the truth? And in the end, will she want to? I liked this book because it want beyond the "Vampires vs. Werewolves" dynamic by introducing the goblins, and making all three of them a product of the same disease/plague. Best, I loved Xandra's "voice" and it enchanted me so much that I was drawn into the novel and loved staying by her side throughout. The ending was a little shocking, but I can't wait to see what happens with Xandra in the future. This reads like the first book in a new series, and I want to find out more, like if things really change for the halfies and the goblins. Highly recommended.

Beaten, Seared and Sauced: On Becoming a Chef at the Culinary Institute of America by Jonathan Dixon- Lots of people want to make a difference in their lives and love cooking, but few people decide to go to the Culinary Institute of America  and learn from the best. Jonathan Dixon, looking for a new direction in his life after a small career in journalism, did just that. And what he learned was that the CIA is not for everyone. Your time there will change you, change the very way you look at food. And not everyone is cut out to be a Master Chef, or even a Sous-Chef in charge of their own restaurant. Even if you end up being an "also-ran" in the food world, there is a place for you. Dixon was unusual, coming to the CIA in his late 30's, and had trouble with not overthinking his food. But what he learned there was invaluable and did indeed give him a new direction in life. Just not the one he thought he was  headed towards when he first attended the CIA. I enjoyed this book for the look it gave me at what a pressure-cooker the CIA really is, and how many people just don't make it. But for those that do, it turns out chefs like nobody's business. Recommended, and it might turn you off from going to the CIA, or spur you on, if that's your interest. YMMV.

Redoubt by Mercedes Lackey- Mags is still working under his Herald-teacher, Nikolas, the King's Own Herald, who also acts as a spy. Now that Amily is safe and has had the operation that has transformed her from a cripple to someone who is on the mend, the entire student body is on the lookout for anyone who might mean her harm, and Mags is finally able to spend a little more time romancing her as he can, but he worries he isn't doing it right. Of course, he's also spending time in the pawn shop that Nikolas runs in Haven under his assumed identity, but lately, Mags has felt like something is watching him, and he is afraid that the thing that is watching him is a ghost-something he's had all too much experience with in the mine, and he's deathly afraid of ghosts- and with good reason. Even Nikolas isn't sure why Mags is so afraid, until Mags details his former experiences with ghostszt the mine. But Mags is also dealing with the fallout from Bear and Lena's relationship. They have decided to get married, because as long as Bear is single, his family, and more importantly, his father, can decide to marry him off as they will. And as Bear and Lena are very much in love, they would rather stay together. So when they marry and Bear's father finally finds out, there is an explosion that ends up with him nearly being arrested. However, shortly afterwards, Mags is kidnapped from Haven and taken to Karse, where he must find his way free if he ever wants to return to Haven and his life as a Herald. But with Demons roaming freely in Karse and his Mind Speech abilities gone, will he ever find out what his kidnappers have to do with his parents, and find a way to let Dallen know where he is? Well, I found this book less objectionable than some of the earlier ones in this series. Mags has finally learned to speak just like everyone else, or is allowed to speak like everyone else, and the end of the book has him surviving on his own in a foreign country where he literally starts with nothing. But the ending was sort of foreshadowed earlier in the book, and in a somewhat clumsy way. When Nikolas tells him that he can survive on his own because of his upbringing in the mines, I was thinking to myself, "Hel-lo Mr. Foreshadowing!" without even knowing what was going to happen later in the book. But it was enjoyable, and let us know why Valdemar never intervened on behalf of the people of Karse when they knew that there were demons in Karse. And I have to admit, it's a good reason. Now that we have more hints about Mags' family and who they were (and what his real name is), it makes me hope that Mercedes will flesh out some of the smaller Kingdoms shown in the Valdemar Companion. Highly recommended.

The Fallen: Warrior by Kristen Douglas- Tory has all her life been raised by her mother, the Contessa, who arranged for her to be trained in fighting, everything from martial arts to weapons by a personal weapons trainer. But the one thung that Tory really wanted: the freedom to travel and be herself, was denied her. Even when she fell in love with a boy named Johann and tried to run away with him, she was found and brought back. And all because she is the warrior goddess, Victoria Bellona, reborn, and is the destined bride of the Fallen Angel, Michael. In fact, all the Angels are fallen, since God crested the world and then left, leaving things to be on their own. Now, Tory is the destined Bride of Michael, but he resists caring for her. It's only after he retrieves Tory that he discovers from one of the female seers that Tory will die on her 35th birthday, in only a few days time. This gives Michael an excuse to avoid getting close to her- his heart will be ripped out if he comes to care for her, and loses her suddenly. But Tory refuses to be ignored and when Michael gives in and makes love to her, she also takes some of her blood, tying them together. So when she is kidnapped from Sheol and taken to the Dark City, better known as Heaven,  Michael will do anything to retrieve her, if not let her go. But time passes differently in the Dark City, and the danger steadily draws him closer to Tory. But when their fated battle comes, will he be able to save her from her fate? This was an interesting book, but I never really felt that Michael really connected with Tory. The love scenes were hot and all, but I just found myself not caring too much about the characters. Perhaps it's because it seemed more like a vampire book than a book about Angels, and Tory's supposed powers remain an enigma until almost right up until the end. Not recommended.

Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey- Daisy Johanssen is a half-incubus, daughter of the Incubus Baalphegor. Raised by a loving mother, she is okay with her heritage, but she is more prone to falling victim to "The Seven Deadlies", or the Seven Deadly Sins. She also has to be careful, because if she ever asks to be empowered by her father (which he certainly wants her to do), she could end up bringing the walls down between Heaven, Hell and Esrth, leading to the end of days. In the meantime, she acts as an agent of the Goddess Hel, her sheriff on Earth. So when a drowned college kid turns up in Pemkowet, where she lives, Daisy has to find out what killed him, fast, because his parents are a big deal in a nearby town that isn't nearly so accepting of the supernatural. But the victim had a secret- he was in Pemkowet to have sex with some sort of water creature. But what? And Hel wants Daisy to find out who has it, and what it is, something that will bring Daisy closer to both the Hunky Werewolf she's had a crush on since she was little, and a new Master Ghoul in town. But Daisy will need help from both of them to succeed- but can she contain her rage long enough to bring the people responsible to justice? I rteally enjoyed this book. Daisy is fun and funny, and I liked how Hel was depicted, and the support characters who Daisy interacts with. The story was interesting, and I definitely want to see more of Daisy and Pemkowet. Highly recommended.

The Wizard Heir by Cinda Williams Chima- Seph McCauley is a wizard, young and untaught, and that is a problem for him, because his untamed powers caused accidents for everyone around him, and now he's been kicked out of school- again. Sent to the school known as Havens by his guardians,  Seph agrees to be taught by the Headmaster to gain some training, only to realize that the cost for such training is way too high. Imprisoned at the school, denied any contact with those outside, he is tormented nightly with horrendous dreams that leave him screaming, and is told that the dreams will end if he just submits. But Seph is made of stronger stuff than that, and even though the dreams take him to the very edge of sanity, Seph is able to resist and finally manages to get a message out to his attorneys, and finds a student who disagrees with what the school is doing and offers him some help and training. Rescued in the nick of time, his new guardian takes him to Trinity as a Sanctuary. But his classmates are already there, and are determined to get him back. Can Seph keep himself safe when he is kidnapped from Trinity in order to hold him over his father as a hostage? This was the second book in the "Warrior Heir/Dragon Heir Trilogy", and it was quite brutal to read. My sympathy was with Seph as he was tortured by the Headmaster and his own classmates. By the end of the book, though, I just wanted it to be over. Reading all that torture was kind of gruelling. Still, if you liked the other books, you'll enjoy this one. Recommended.

Star Wars- X-wing: Mercy Kill by Aaron Allston- Rogue Squadron has long since been disbanded, but when it seems that a High-ranking Rebel general has sold out the Alliance for gain, an ex-Rogue named Face Loran gathers together a squadron of his ex-comrades to find out the truth of the matter and take down the treacherous general. Included in the team is Piggy, now known as Professor Voort saBinring- the only super intelligent Gamorrean. Piggy doesn't want to return to service, but truth to tell, his current life is dull and boring, and he craves a bit of excitement. He's not so sure about one of his new comrades, a Yuuzhan Vong raised by a member of the Alliance, But when their leader is killed in an ambush, it will be hp to Voort/Piggy to hold the team together and make sure everything comes out okay- and to deal with the Yuuzhan Vong in their midst. I miss the old Rogue Squadron books, it's true, so I picked up this book looking to relive those old days. But despite the scattering of old comrades who show up during the story, this didn't feel like much of a Rogue Squadron book to me until about halfway through, and then the old magic came back. Despite a slow start, I loved the story and the ending. If you are looking to relive the old books, stick with this one, and it will eventually reward you. Also, some of the old characters return in flashbacks and cameos. Recommended.

Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan- Percy Jackson has been missing for months, and now we discover what happened to him and what he has been doing. Percy lost his memory, and wound up in California, where he is being chased by monsters, only to find temporary refuge in the Camp of the Roman Legion-made up of not only demigods, but the children and grandchildren of Demigods. These demigods aren't Greek, though, they are Roman, and while each of the Gods has something in common with their Greek counterpart, they are by no means the same. Percy shows up just in time to be added to the Legion, escorted in as he is by Juno, the Roman counterpart to Hera. But several things set him apart from the Roman Demigods immediately. However, when Percy turns around the Legion he is temporarily assigned to and helps them win the weekly battles theu fight against each other, some of the Legionnaires look on him more kindly, while others look on him rather less so, especially the Roman's forseer, who wants the job of leader of the Legions himself. But when he tries to rid himself of Percy by nominating him to lead a group to find the lost Golden Eagle of one of the Legions, he may have bitten off more than he can chew, because Percy isn't going to die without a fight, and he has two of the Roman Demigods on his side, one of whom is in love with Jason, the lost leader, while the other is the Son of Mars and an oriental woman who had more secrets than anyone knew. Is Percy the "Son of Neptune" spoken of in the Prophecy? And if not, who might it be? Another excellent adventure from Rick Riordan. This allows us to see what Percy has been doing while he's been missing, and why no one has heard from him. I am also looking forward to seeing what happens to Percy and all his friends, old and new, in the last book. This is a rip-roaring adventure that's fun and has plenty of suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat. I liked the revelation of who the "Son of Neptune" was because I didn't see it coming. The fact that the Gods here are different from the Gods we have come to know in the Greek Pantheon was a little strange, but I quickly adapted, much like Percy did. Highly recommended.

Uppity Women of the New World by Vicki Léon- Well-behaved women rarely get written about in history books, and that's true here where Vicki Léon writes about the women who made waves, from native women who fought against the Spaniards to Spanish women who came to the New World to make a name and a fortune for themselves, to colonial women who stood up for themselves and sometimes were severely punished for it. There is even a British Noblewoman who first discovered the practice of live vaccination and pushed for it, first with her own family, and then the royal family, and then to countries and places beyond. It's really an amazing book and an amazing look at some very interesting women that are never mentioned in the history books, even though they should be,  Highly recommended.

Fabergé and the Russian Master Goldsmiths by Gerard Hill, G. G. Smoradinova and B. L. Ulyanova is a look at the works of Carl Peter Fabergé and of the goldsmiths and other crafters who worked for him. In addition to the expected Easter Eggs made for the royal family are carvings in semiprecious and precious stone of various animals, flowers and other objects, clocks and watches, religious icons, cigarette cases and other small boxes, jewelled crowns, and samovars, tea sets and similar objects d'art. They are all quite beautiful and gorgeous, and seeing them all gave me an appreciation of what Carl Peter Fabergé and his artisans did. An excellent, attractive, if very expensive book. Recommended.

The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan- It's time for the final showdown between the Kanes and the serpent Apophis. But Sadie is busy worrying about Walt, the magician she loves, and Carter's is exasperated with his sister. They are also trying to save the last writings of the magician, Setne. whose spells might be the only one which provide a hope to defeating Apophis. But when they go to Arizona to try and protect the last copy of the scroll scribed by Setne, Sadie is contacted by a spirit claimng to be her "uncle Vinny", that only he can help them- but they have to help him, first. So when the last scroll is destroyed by the agents of Apophis, they have no choice but to travel to the court of their father, Osiris, and persuade him to let Setne go while they find the spell that can imprison the shadow of Apophis, of his sheut. But even if they can find the spell, can they keep ahead of Setne's propensity for treachery and chaos? After a stunning betrayal, they are left alone in the afterlife to regroup and find that they need to imprison Apophis' sheut. Carter teams up with Ria while Sadie and Ward go to find what they need to perform the spell. But will this be Ward's last day? And even if they can banish Apophis, will they be able to save the first Nome from the attack of renegade magicians who have allied themselves wih Apophis? Well, the Kane series was... interesting, but I really didn't enjoy it as much as I do the Percy Jackson books and series. And it seems like, at the end of "The Serpent's Shadow, Rick Riordan is telling us, not so subtly, that the Kanes will eventually show up in the Percy Jackson books or vice-versa, which smacked of pandering to me, at least a little. So, while I enjoyed this trilogy, I wouldn't recommend it as readily as the Percy Jackson series. Still, not bad, and the ending promises some intriguing stuff to come for the Kanes.

Lethal Rider by Larissa Ione- Thanatos is one of the four Riders of the Apocalypse. But since the Demons have flooded through portals into our world, he and his fellow Riders have been fighting them, hoping the Demons won't be able to break the seals, known as agimorti, which would make them fight on the side of the Demons. But for the last eight months, Thanatos has been poisoned with Hellhound  venom so that he can't move. His brothers and sister riders in the Horsemen think he'll lose it when he realizes that hell is literally breaking loose on earth. But he's too busy remembering Regan, who seduced him. He thought his virginity was his Agimorti, but it turned out not to be the case, and he's angry at being taken advantage of. But he's slowly throwing the venom off and planning revenge on Regan. Once he kidnaps her from the Headquarters of the Aegis, the demon-hunting organization she works for, he realizes she is pregnant (actually, she has to tell him). And then he's caught between wanting to take care of her and wanting to kill her. Meanwhile, though. his brother, Pestilence, formerly known as Reseph, is fighting on the side of evil. Can Thanatos save his brother by reforming his Agimorti, or is it too late? And can Regan live through her remaining pregnancy and surviv e the birth of Than's child? I enjoyed this book, even though I haven't read the previous books in the series. Thanatos starts out violently angry, and has to deal with his own memories and fear of what Regan is coming to mean to him. While Regan, a warrior, has to learn to deal with the softer side of her nature, and her rejecyion by the Aegis while the world goes to Hell in a handbasket. Excellent book that really drew me in. Very enjoyable and recommended.

Lawe's Justice by Lora Leigh. Lawe Justice is a Lion Breed, an Alpha. Raised in the labs with his mother, a Native American woman who, along with her mate, was killed before his eyes, Lawe is tasked with tracking down a Rogue Breed named Gideon, who was infected with a strange disease and is seeking a woman stilen from the labs as a girl, one infected with the same disease, which may be the only chance to save him. But this woman is also being sought by the breeds, as what she was infected wth might be the only chance of saving Jonas Wyatt's daughter, infacted by the scientist Brandenmere before he died. And helping track both Gideon and the missing women is the mercenary Diana, better known as Diane Broen, the sister of Jonas' mate. But Diane is Lawe's mate, and while he's been trying to ignore their connection, he can no longer ignore her ot the reaction she stirs in him when they are forced to work together so closely. He wants her to stop her work as a mercenary and settle down, but he refuses to give up his job as a Breed Enforcer in return, while Diane can't give up being what she is and resents being asked. When the two of them return to the Reservation that Lawe once lived on, can they avoid letting their argument spill over and interfere with the hunt for Gideon, or will they tear each other apart as their mating heat turns to arguments and a traitor stalks Diane's trail. Will the two of them ever be truly comfortable with each other and their life choices, or is this mating impossible? I am actually getting kind of tired of the Breed books, or maybe it was just this one, where Lawe comes off like an Alphole for so damn much of the book. I was tired of his high-handed ways, and wanted to kick his ass several times over. It's not until near the very end that he settled down, but by then he had gotten enough of my sympathy back to redeem himself. I just had a rather jaundiced view of most of the beginning of the novel, still. This one wasn't my cup of tea so much, but it was otherwise okay. Recommended, but not highly.

No comments: