Tuesday, February 05, 2013

2013, Part 1

The History of the World According to Facebook by Wylie Overstreet- This humorous book tells the history of the world as if everyone and everything was on Facebook and could leave messages on each other's walls. Most are humorous, like the one where the meteorite is about to hit the earth during the Cretaceous. and posts "Gonna hit on the Earth soon, if you know what I mean." And in reply, the Tyrannosaurus, Brontosaurus and Triceratops post "NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!", the Earth replies "FML" and the cockroaches remark, "LOL". There are subtle winks at modern times and culture and movements, ans when the 80's are noted to be a in a relationship with "bad taste". For a really humorous look backwards, this book can't be beat, and is told perfectly to be light and amusing without being offensive  Highly recommended.

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines- Isaac Vainio is a Libriomancer, a magician who can reach into books and pull out any sort of item, as long as it will fit through the book's pages into the real world. He is one of the Gatekeepers, set to guard the world from... something, by Gutenberg, the very first Libriomancer. However, after a short career, he was taken out of active work and became a cataloguer, who reads books for the potential magic items within them and catalogues what he finds. But when he's attacked by a set of vampires called Myerii, after Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series, he discovers that all sorts of vampires are attacking Libriomancers, thinking that the Libriomancers are attacking them. He's only saved by the appearance of Lena Greenwood, a nymph, who helps him defeat the vampires. But the closest Libriomancer secret storage center has been attacked, his former boss has been turned, and Gutenberg is missing, presumed dead, along with the automatons who protected the world from Libriomancers gone bad. And now it seems that only Isaac can save it and find both Lena's missing lover and the vanished Gutenberg from attacks by vampires. But who is the person behind setting the Libriomancers and vampires on a collision course, and can even Isaac come back from losing his body? Wow, this book was fantastic. A bit of a slow starter, but I loved the ideas and even Isaac's last name, which is probably Norwegian or Swedish. I loved everything about this book, even the idea of Libriomancy itself. If you love books and love reading, you have to read this book! Highly recommended.

Archangel's Storm by Nalini Singh- Jacob is one of Raphael's Seven, seven angels who serve each  member of the Cadre. When Raphael is contacted by Neha, an angel whose only love betrayed her and whom she imprisoned for the rest of his life in retaliation, Raphael is concerned for her sanity, because her love, Eris, has been slain, and if the murderer isn't caught and found, Neha will go crazy, and given her age and power, she could slay a great number of humans, vampires and angels. She asks for the aid of Jacob, Raphael's spymaster, to find the murderer, and because she has always wanted Jason for one of her servants, he refuses to be bound to her. Instead, she binds him to Mahiya, her niece, the daughter of Eris and Niveiti, Neha's sister and the woman Eris was caught cheating on Neha with. Mahiya is something of an outcast at Neha's court, disliked by her aunt, but too easy to use against Eris to set free. Now that Eris is dead, Mahiya has become useless, as her presence can only serve to remind Neha of her love's infidelity. But as Jacob investigates the murder, he discovers that Mahiya isn't the useless ornament of the court she pretends to be, but she knows that she could not escape her aunt without an offer of shelter from one of the other members of the Cadre, which none of them would give her. But as Jacob and Mahiya become close, and then lovers, can he get her free of Mahiya? And can he find the murderer or murderers as angels and vampires close to Neha continue to die? And when the true culprit is revealed, can both of them survive the coming conflict to find happiness and love together? I really enjoyed this book, both in the stories of Neha's court, and the mysteries surrounding the murders and the story of Neha, Eris, Nivriti and Mahiya. I liked how Mahiya kept her strength hidden, and the ending of the book where she finally found friends and a life for herself. It's a really good series, and I can't wait to read more. Not all the books are about the same characters, but I like the characters that Nalini Singh comes up with, and the stories she tells. Recommended.

Still Life with Shapeshifter by Sharon Shinn- Melanie is a woman with secrets, so when a former television reporter shows up at her door, planning a book on shapeshifters, she doesn't want anything to do with him. But Melanie's secret: That her sister, Ann, is a shapeshifter and has been all her life, is outed when Ann comes home to Melanie and meets Brody Westerbrooke, the ex-reporter. He sticks around, entranced by Melanie and bonding with both sisters. Ann, too, has someone in her life, a shapeshifter named William that she met while they were both in their animal forms, and as Melanie struggles with her fear for Ann and what this will mean, William gives her a new fear- Ann is slowly losing her strength, winding down, and nobody knows the cause. Meanwhile, we are introduced to Janet, a teenager who bonds with an injured wolf that comes to her house one night. She helps him and discovers that he is also a human boy named Cooper with whom she falls in love. But one thing is certain- Shapeshifters don't live beyond fifty, and Ann, who is only in her early 20's, is dying. But does Melanie have the strength to let her sister go? And what hope is there in the relationship between Janet and Cooper? This story made me cry. It's another sort of slow starter, but you grow to care for the characters so deeply that the end of the story is like a punch in the gut- in both good and bad ways. A lot of the ending is sad, but at the the same time, Melanie's "superpower", that she knows both when to hang on and when to let go, means that her new life will be much different and more fulfilling than her old one. This story is deeply affecting and I still feel choked up about the endings to both Ann's story and Janet's story. Beautiful, sad, and haunting. Highly recommended.

Gunmetal Magic by Illona Andrews- Andrea Nash is a Bouda, a Werehyena who was once a Knight of the Order of Merciful Aid who was thrown out for her Bouda status. However, she isn't like the other Bouda, because she is a Werekin- her father was a hyenawere, a hyena that could take on human form rather than the other way around, and that means most Bouda look down on her and despise her, and her first pack abused her and her mother horribly. So she put her first allegiance to the Order, because she didn't trust other Weres not to treat her the same as she and her mother had been treated. But when she chose the Order over the Bouda pack, and her lover, Raphael, the spoiled angel of the Bouda pack, they broke up in anger over what he saw as a betrayal. Now, he needs her help- several of the pack have been slain and since she opened an investigation agency with Kate Daniels, he needs her to find out what happened. It seems that Raphael has gone into salvaging work, and in the course of the job, he and his crew found a hidden storehouse under the property, and something was stolen from it and the Werehyenas guarding it were killed. Now, Andrea must team up with Raphael and a Black Magic practitioner to track down what was stolen and prevent the resurrection of a very nasty old God. But another, former God is pulling the strings, and Andrea and the other Bouda, not to mention the other Weres don't want this one returning to power either. But can they destroy two Gods and keep the entire Earth safe from their wrath? Meanwhile, Kate witnesses an accidental murder when she and Curran, the Wereleader, are out for Dinner one night. The handler of two vampires is strangled by a necklace, and when her parents arrive, the father fixates on the necklace, so his wife puts it on their son instead. Kate is shocked and infuriated, and must track down the maker of the necklace before it kills the young boy. Can she ensure a happy ending for the boy and justice for the mother who treated her son so horribly? Both of these stories are excellent and happen concurrently, and I loved both of them. Andrea was a semi-new character for me, yet she picks up a ton of new responsibilities and may end up featuring in more books of the series, and Kate is the usual protagonist, but I loved the story, and felt the ending was very apropos. Excellent book, excellent writer, not one to miss.

The Homefront Detective by Edward Marston- When a young man is murdered on the street in World War I London, there is considerable sympathy. But when the young man is identified as a Conscientious Objector or "Conchie", the sympathy evaporates- people feel that he should have been away fighting the war with the rest of the young men of England, But Cyril Ablatt felt that going to war would merely turn him into an instrument of slaughter, and this young library worker could out-argue anyone who disagreed with him. So who was angry enough to kill him? Inspector Harvey Marmion of Scotland Yard and his assistant, Sergeant Joe Keedy, have to find the murderer, even if no one cares that a "conchie" is dead. They do care about the victim, but soon find that Cyril Ablatt was keeping any number of secrets, But when another man, a junior rector, is also attacked, they will have to discover if someone has taken it into their head to harm non-soldiers, or if they took him for another "conchie", or if the second attack had nothing to do with the first, and still discover the culprit or culprits in both cases. Amidst the terror and turmoil caused by the war, it's no easy thing to discover a murderer, and Joe's developing feelings for Marmion's only daughter, Alice, now helping by resettling refugees from France and Belgium, must be kept under wraps, as Marmion doesn't quite approve of Keedy's romantic life. But can Keedy prove he isn't just playing with her heart? This was quite a new series for Edward Marston, being that his others take place in earlier times, i.e. the Elizabethan and the Victorian. I didn't know this was the second book until the end, but despite not being the introduction to the series, I was able to follow the story perfectly, and enjoyed it greatly. Tension was maintained throughout, and Marmion and Keedy's superior comes off as pretty venal and uncaring about justice, not to mention sticking his nose into the case left and right. He comes across as a very unsympathetic character, something that always seems to exist in Marston's works on the side of the detective. It troubled me a bit, but I did enjoy the book and would definitely read more. Recommended.

Blacksad: A Silent Hell by Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido- Blacksad travels to New Orleans to take on the case of a missing musician for his producer. The Producer, Faust LaChapelle, who is dying of Cancer, wants Blacksad to find  Sebastian "Little Hand" Fletcher, who actually does have one arm smaller than the other, but who was the best musician Faust ever signed. Faust is afraid that heroin addiction has consumed Fletcher's life, and wants him found to ensure that he's alright. But more is going on here than it seems. The band that  Fletcher was once in is gone, and the bandmembers are all dead, but for Fletcher himself. Fletcher is also looking for a place to sing a new song, "Pizen Blues", about a small village in Caledonia poisoned by a supposed "health rub" that caused deaths, miscarriages  and birth defects in the people and children of the people who used it. The maker of the rub was never prosecuted, because he paid off a judge to look the other way. Now, rather than be exposed, the man is seeking to end Sebastian's life before he can play his song and bring the whole filthy thing to light. But can Blacksad save Seb Fletcher, or will his own demons end up killing him first? This graphic  novel also includes a "making of". showing how the artist draws and colors the stories, and two short stories in the back, about a woman seeking to bring down the entity that killed her sons, and a story about the inequities of life, and about the things that make you feel better. I love Blacksad, and this is the last book that will be published of it, because that's the end of the story. But I love how the stories deal with such deep issues, and this story, A Silent Hell, has to be my favorite. It's sad, and you feel the injustice in it deeply, more deeply than if the figures involved were actual humans. The storytelling is amazing, and, like noir in general, the sympathetic figures evoke your sympathy and the villains only revulsion. This is one you should check out, and I can't recommend it enough. Highly recommended.

Dream Eyes by Jane Ann Krentz- Judson Coppersmith is Sam's brother, and he's recovering from nearly being killed by his old boss on a Carribean Island when he's drawn to Wilby, Oregon, to help the best friend of Sam's fianceé, Amy discover if the death of her friend and mentor was a murder or not. Gwen Frazier is convinced that Dr. Evelyn Ballinger was killed in her home by a paranormal device, but as she gets her information from Ghosts, and in this case, Evelyn's ghost, she isn't likely to be believed, and all because Police Chief Oxley believes that Gwen had something to do with three deaths that occurred years ago in Wilby when Gwen took part in an experiment to discover others with psychic abilities under Evelyn's tutelage. Only one of the subjects was a serial killer, and killed two people, then tried to kill Gwen before she turned the tables on him and ended up killing him instead. And that wasn't the only repercussion of the study. One of the other participants had fallen in love with the killer and now blames Gwen for killing everyone, so Gwen's return to Wilby is problematic. But Judson can tell that Evelyn was murdered, and he works with Gwen to find the killer, desiring her even as he is angry at what he feels is her pity in offering to help him deal with his nightmares. With a multitude of suspects, and their nightmares that only seem to stop in each other's arms, can they discover the true killer, and unravel the history that led to Evelyn's death? Well, it didn't take long for this series to cross over with the Arcane Society, but I did like how Evelyn's cat, Max, was part of the story. On the other hand, I thought this series was supposed to be or stay separate from the Arcane Society series, and to see her abandon this so soon was disappointing to me. Still an excellent romance, and an interesting mystery, so I'd highly recommend this book.

Elemental Magic edited by Mercedes Lackey- This is a series of short stories written by other authors and set in the Mercedes Lackey universe of The Elemental Masters. "A Song of the Sea" by Diana L. Paxson has a Water Elemental master deal with her new husband and a band of malicious sirens in ancient Greece. "The Fire Within Him" by Samuel Conway has a Fire Master accidentally killing Icarus, and deciding to get his revenge by spreading the secret of Flight. But will the birds let him succeed? "Makana" by Fiona Patton has an Earth Mage working with masters of the other Elements to take down an evil magician who wants to take over the world. "War to the Knife" by Rosemary Edgehill has an Air Master tracking down a mage using Fire Powers to kill during the Napoleonic War. "Stones and Feathers" by Elizabeth A. Vaughn is a slice of life about an Earth Mage being inducted into the Yeoman Warders of the White Palace. "Fire's Children" by Elizabeth Waters deals with the two children of a Fire Master, and one discovering that his affinities are  very different from those of his father... "For the Sake of Clarity" by Cedric Johnson deals with a down on his luck Earth mage rescuing a fair maiden from an Evil Mage in the old West, "To Ride the River Horse" by Dayle A. Dermatis has an imprisoned Water Master rescuing the Earth Mage who helped set  her free. "The Phoenix of Mulberry Street" by Michelle Lang has a Fire Mage coming into her own with the help of a Fire Elemental to deal with the threat of another Fire Master gone bad. "Air of Mystery" has an Air Master who is an apprentice to a perfumier deal with a threat to a female heiress that she inadvertantly caused. "A Flower Grows in Whitechapel" by Gail Sanders and Michael Z. Williamson takes the characters from "The Wizard of London" and dumps a half-Chinese Earth Mage on their doorstep, with two Elementals asking Isabelle Harton and her people to keep her safe from being hunted. But who is hunting her and why? "Tha Thu Ann" by Tanya Huff involves a girl who can see and bring peace to the dead moving to an island in the Caribbean with her Earth Master father, and having to deal with a deadly cult who wants to call up a horrible darkness. "The Collector" by Ron Collins has a one-handed Black Earth Mage who is nearly enslaved by a horrible woman who collects things... like Elemental Masters and people. "Queen of the Mountain" by Kristin Schwengel involves a servant girl with Fire Powers and her mistress encountering Pele in Hawaii. "I Have Heard the Mermaids Singing" by Mercedes Lackey takes an Elemental Magician who can communicate with all Elementals and has her seeking out a possible inimical Water Master in a seaside town. But can she survive the experience? I liked this book, and I liked most of the stories. Even though I didn't feel it was a bad story, "War to the Knife" didn't quite feel long enough, I felt the story felt like it should have been longer. My favorite stories were "The Phoenix of Mulberry Street", "A Flower Grows in Whitechapel" and "Thu Tha Ann"- all of which were wonderful. Highly Recommended.

Avengers: Mythos by Various- This graphic novel explores the backgrounds and origin stories of several Avengers, from Captain America, Hulk, Ant Man, Wasp, The  Vision, Luke Cage, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver and Thor. What really made me interested is that Iron Man isn't included, but I guess they've told and retold his origin story so many times that nobody could bring up interest in doing it again. My favorites in this volume were Luke Cage, Ant-Man and Wasp. Luke Cage because I don't think I ever saw his origin story, and Ant-Man and Wasp because we get to see how Hank Pym is kind of screwed up even before he becomes a Superhero. I enjoyed this book, and while the art isn't all that stellar, it still tells wonderful stories. Recommended.

Shadow Rising by Yasmine Galenorn- The D'Artigo sistees are working for Asterial, Queen of the Otherworld and fighting the forces of Shadow Wing, who wants to control them all. But Menolly, the youngest sister and a Jian-tu (a sort of acrobat/Ninja) Vampire, is finally planning her marriage with the Werepuma Nerissa. Nerissa is pledged to sire Changelings for her clan, and Menolly has allied herself with Roman, the Warlord Vampire Son of Blood Wyne, who is in essence the leader of most of the Vasmpires. But they only truly love each other... but planning a wedding isn't so easy if you have no idea what you really want- except to be together with the one you love forever.. And Menolly, her sisters, their spouses and friends have a lot on their plate already, only to get more dumped on them when the Queen summons them home to a meeting with their father and to give them news. Shadow Wing has sent his minion Telazhar to reignite the Scorching Wars, fought between the Fae and the Necromancers. Additionally, a subordinate of Telazhar, Gulakah, the Lord of Ghosts, has come to Earth to make things hard on those who would defend it, and he's sending hordes of Hungry ghosts and othger undead to kill humans. It's up to Menolly and her sisters to defend Earth, all the while tracking down Gulakah to banish him and close the portal he is using to summon his minions while staying alive and dealing with the Hungry, sometimes incorporeal undead. But Menolly will have to overcome her fear of her own bloodlust to move forward, and discover what she really wants to celebrate her marriage. I like this series, but honestly, this is reaching the point of overload. Although they are taking care of it, so many people inhabit their house, they must be packed in like Sardines! Aside from that, the characters keep growing in power and ability, all without seeming like Mary Sues. A bit purply in prose sometimes, but still an entertaining read that keeps me interested in reading more. Recommended.

The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow- Emma Bannon is a sorceress in service to the Queen of England, and through her, to Britannia, the ruling spirit that possesses every King or Queen of England. But when a series of mentaths, or human calculating machines, are killed in an attempr ro develop a machine that can think and calculate on its own, Emma seeks out the Unregistered Mentath Archibald Clare in order to protect who she feels would next be at risk. But when they both come under attack, it will be up to them both, and Emma's bodyguard Mikal, to discover who was killing mentaths and stealing their brains and why, and then, to deal with the conspiracy behind it all and bring the conspiracy down, even if Mentaths are driven insane by magic, which follows no rule of logic whatsoever. I loved this book, although I found the cover oddly reminiscent of "End of the Century", at least, in what the male character looks like, while he seems to be somewhat balding in the book itself. I like Emma Barton, though she'd be hellish to live with, and Archibald only slightly better. Still, the interactions of the characters made me smile a lot, and the story, a sort of magical Steampunk world, captivated me from the start. Highly recommended.

Steel's Edge by Ilona Andrews- Charlotte de Nay is a former healer, a commoner raised to a noble, but when her husband wishes a divorce when she is found to be sterile, she has a hard time holding back her healing talent from doing harm. So she moves to the Edge, where she is robbed and wanders hungry, but the press of her magic is less strong, until she is taken in by Eléonoré, an Edger who has lost too many in her family to conflict. But when a group of slavers kills Eléonoré and a teenaged girl to  kidnap and get revenge on a man Charlotte had recently healed, she goes after them, intending to make them pay for the lives they stole. And there she meets Richard Mar, better known as the Hunter to the Slavers, and she finds a new meaning in life in taking down the slavers with him. Richard would not want to involve her, but she insists, and he cannot tell her, "No." As they search for the slavers and seek to bring down the man behind the slavers, who is so close to the throne that he cannot be touched without specific and overwhelming proof, Charlotte gives in to her destructive powers more and more, making the urge to use them grow overwhelmingly strong. But can she pull herself back from the edge when she threatens to become nothing more than an instrument of destruction? And can Richard pull her back when she tries to kill even him? This book is the end of the so-called Edger 'arc', and involves yet another member of the Mar family. Here, we get to see protagonists from past books return, and even hint at a possible future Romance, perhaps in a different arc. But this book is compelling, with the descriptions of how Charlotte feels when she uses her healing power to harm, and how her powers are  instrumental in bringing down the slaver operation, and how she slowly gets sucked into using them more and more. The romance aspects are also nice, and I really enjoyed this book. Highly recommended.

The Men on My Couch: True Stories of Sex, Love and Psychotherapy by Dr. Brandy Engler with David Rensin- Dr. Brandy Engler moved to New York to start a career as a sexuality counselor for women. What she didn't expect was the calls from men. Lots of calls. In this book, she shares the true stories of some of her patients, interspersed with her own story with a man she loved, but who had his own issues with love and intimacy. How she dealt with him, and her patients both successes and failures, forms the body of the work. Men say they crave sex, but in reality, they also want love, although sex serves as a distraction. Some men use sex and the chase as a measure of their own self-worth, the more women who seem to "want" them, the better they feel about themselves. The idea that a woman might want him for reasons unrelated to who he is (wealth and status), may rock these men deeply- they are devastated when think they women they chase might be treating them similarly. And that is just one issue men have. This book strips off the covers as to what men really want- when stripped of all the camoflage and covering of out and out sex. An interesting and at times, fascinating look at Men and their psychology, viewed with an attitude of sympathy. Recommended.

Night Veil by Yasmine Galenorn- Cicely Waters grew up the child of a Junkie mother, and believed she was one of the Magic-Born, a witch whose power was over the wind and weather. But since moving back to New Forest, Washington, she has discovered she is part- Sidhe., specifically the Uwilah Sidhe, and she can shapeshift into an Owl, legacy from her father. But Cicely's love, the Sidhe Prince Grieve, has been captured by the Vampiric Fae Queen, Myst, and Cicely has had to ally with Vampires to fight Myst and her court. However, the choices that her erstwhile allies are making may not be the best for her, and other vampires, like Lannan Altos, have stepped forward to offer their aid. But can Cicely trust them, especially when Lannan appears to want to control her, and even her human allies want to separate her from Grieve. Meanwhile, Cicely's friend Kaylin, whose soul is occupied by a Dream Demon, has his Demon awaken, and for Cicely to save his life requires a trip into the lands claimed by the Indigo Court, and seeking out of the Bat People. But when her old allies desert her when she refuses to sacrifice herself for their sake, can she make new allies and survive when everything seems lost? This series has lots of parallels with the Otherworld novels also by this author. However, instead of the characters being sisters, the characters here are merely friends, and Cicely is the only half-fae. But nonetheless, I feel like she might end up attached to both Grieve and Lannan as mates- although I'll admit that this is only hinted at so far. Still, I did enjoy it, but not quite as much as the otherworld Novels. Recommended anyhow.

Poison Princess by Kresley Cole- Evangeline or "Evie" Greene has just returned home from two months imprisoned in a school for "wayward teens", She was there because of the pictures she can't stop drawing, of a coming apocalypse. And despite the drugs she is taking, she continues to have visions. She doesn't want to let anyone know, especially not her mother, who sent her away in the first place, and who she fears would quickly send her back in a heartbeat if she realized that Evie were still having visions. In the meantime, she still struggles with real life and a Cajun Bayou Boy named Jackson Daniels, who she is drawn to despite his wanting to know all her secrets, and the fact that she already has a boyfriend whom she loves. She isn't quite successful at keeping her secrets, but that doesn't seem to matter when the Apocalypse *does* come, and she and her mother struggle to survive. Then, after she discovers the powers her blood has over plants, Jackson comes back into her life, warning her and her mother, who is dying, that an army is on its way, one that will take them into itself to survive- but Evie might not survive the experience. Evie's mother begs her to run with Jackson, but until her mother is dead, Evie can't leave her. When she dies, they set fire to the mansion and go. Jackson teaches Evie to survive on her own, but Evie must face up to the fact that she isn't the only teenager out there with strange powers, and that she must kill the others to survive. But can Evie, gently raised and unwilling to hurt others, face the truth and kill to survive? Can she draw on her powers as the Empress to face up to what she must do? Or will the boy who embodies the Card "Death" and his follower, "The Devil" be the ones to triumph in this struggle? I have to admit, this book took more than a little working to get into. Most of the story is told through the framing device of Evie telling her story to a boy who is going to kill her when she finishes her story, and I didn't think the story needed the framing at all. Other than that, the story was pretty easy to get into, and I liked it when Evie realized a certain vision wasn't sent by others, but something from her own past. Being knowledgable about the Tarot, the aspects of some of the cards were interesting, some being the card upright, while some where the card in reversed aspect. But then again, some of the cards were taken at face value- Death being death rather than change, and the Devil being purely malevolent rather than someone being chained to bad habits. But I am intrigued by the story and where it can go, and I want to read more at this point. So recommended.

Tiger's Destiny by Colleen Houck- Kelsey, After having many adventures with the White Tiger,Ren, and his brother Kishan, the black Tiger, both trapped in a life where they are sometimes Tigers and sometimes men, has been kidnapped by Lokesh, the former Vizier to their parents. With Kelsey's holding many of the Treasures of the Goddess Durga, Lokesh is eager to turn Kelsey to his side and have a son on her.. As he tries her powers and tries to get her to take his side, Kelsey believes none of his lies and knows she will not long survive the birth of any child he might get on her. So she plays a dangerous game, trying to stall for long enough so that the brothers can free her. When they arrive, Kelsey is waiting to wed Lokesh, but the two brothers steal her back, and Kelsey, who has given up on Dhiren, or Ren, when he broke her heart again, spends time with Kishan, loving him, but not in love with him, even though she has agreed to be with him. But they have one last adventure to go on, and one more treasure to retrieve for the Goddess Durga, the Rope of Fire, which is held beneath the Earth, in a city of Light at the Earth's core. But after the shocking sacrifice of one of their number, their hearts are numbed, and Kelsey withdraws into herself, hoping she can be free of losing people, like her mother and father. An encounter with the last remaining Phoenix burns away the sadness in her heart and forces her to face the truth about her turning away, and after obtaining the rope of fire, they must travel into the past, to confront Lokesh where he had been banished to, and defeat him forever there. However, the form Lokesh has taken is of a monster defeated by the Goddess Durga, and she is nowhere to be found. Only a warrior Princess named Anamika, who leads the last warriors of her Kingdom against the monster that Lokesh has become. Can Kelsey and the others defeat Lokesh and turn Anamika into a goddess for the good of her people? But what will be the cost to Kelsey when Ren seems drawn to Anamika? Will Kelsey give into despair when she seems to be losing everything she loves to Anamika, even the snake bracelet Fanindra, given to her by Durga? And how will she deal at leaving one of her Tigers alone in the past, and never seeing him again? Well, this last book was everything I'd hoped for. The other three books were about saving Ren and Kishan and helping them be reconciled to each other, and now this last book is about Kelsey growing up as well. Two years have passed since the first book, but Kelsey still has to change and grow to be worthy of her love and finally deal with Lokesh. Amazingly enough, I didn't quite see the ending coming, and except for the author having everybody be happy and married (I felt that was a bit of overkill concerning the story), I enjoyed it a lot. This book is entirely an appropriate end to the story and the ending was sweet, if a little too drawn out, And yet, the one question I had at the end remained unanswered- did what the characters do together change the past, or is/was it all fated to happen again? I hoped they did change things, but since everything in this book took place in the past, I did find the question lingering. Anyhow, great book, great series and highly recommended.

Stormdancer: The Lotus War Book One by Jay Kristoff- Yukiko is a daughter of the Werefox clan, sent out with her father, Masaru, the Shogun's Chief Hunter. So when the Shogun hears of a living Thunder Tiger, a creature that is Tiger behind and Eagle before, he sends out Masaru, his daughter and the rest of his hunters to bring in a creature that no one believes exists any more. The Hunters view it as a sure and certain death, but there actually *is* a Thunder Tiger in the clouds, and they manage to catch it. Keeping it, however, is another matter, and Masaru is forced to free it after clipping its wings when the ship is brought down by fire. Yukiko, however, clings to the Thunder Tioger, and is stranded with it on the mountain when the ship crashes, along with the Ship's Engineer, a young man who spends most of his time hiding in his armor. His guild is the one who regulates the Red Lotus that now both powers and pollutes everything, the land included, and the only way to bring back life to the land is to build up the soil with the life and blood of the conquered gaijin. Yukiko knows of the Red Lotus and the pollution, but when she discovers the true cost, she vows to fight alongside the rebels who inhabit the mountain, and the city of the Shogun besides, wanting to bring him down for all he has done. But to do this, she will need to use her secret gift of understanding animals, and the help of the Thunder Tiger. But will he support her plans, or is he no more than an animal, and ready to bring her down at any moment? This was the first book in a new series, but it definitely starts in Medias Res, with the Lotus already in use and poisoning the planet such that the sky has turned red and much of the land is darkened and black from Lotus poisoning. It's not hard to see that there is a problem, and the Shogun, even though he is just a young man, might already be insane. Insane or care only for his own wants and pleasures. Yukiko isn';t very sympathetic at first, but she does become more so as time passes, and being inside her head helps, of course. I found this book fascinating, and it definitely kept my interest as Yukiko grows up, becomes a woman, and ends up having quite an adventure- which will continue, apparently. Recommended.

A Million Little Bricks: The Unofficial Illustrated History of Lego Phenomenon by Sarah Herman- Traces the start of the Lego company, from the original wood working of Ole Kirk to when the company he started began to make plastic blocks and how they branched out from there. The book covers both Lego sets that are exclusive, and those that are licensed, although the proprietary sets are covered first, and then the licensed ones, so that if you are wondering about the Harry Potter or Star Wars sets, you will have to wait until all the proprietary sets, such as Lego Space and City sets are covered before you can read about those. I would have preferred the licensed sets be covered in the same chapters as the Proprietary ones, by timeline, but it does make sense to do it the way the author did it as well. I found this to be interesting to read, with sets differentiated by colors used as well as the various differences between sets released to be part of the same continuity, but I was a little disappointed that the author didn't cover some of the faults of Lego, like how "boy" sets differ from "girl" sets by color and focus, where boy-focused sets are based around action, whereas the sets aimed at girls are less so. Still, an interesting read. Recommended.

Lord's Fall by Thea Harrison- Pia Giovanni is a Wyr, specifically a unicorn Wyr, who stole from Dragos, a Dragon who rules over New York and the Wyr itself. Dragos, in chasing after her, fell in love with Pia, and she has now become his mate. So when she must leave him to negotiate with the Elves who live in the South, Dragos doesn't want her to go. He can live with the elves hating him, but their blockade of trade is causing problems for both businesses, the ones owned by Dragos and the ones owned by the Elves, and Pia knows they must fix this before things get worse. Dragos, meanwhile, must stay in New York to oversee the Protector Games, which will choose the seven protectors that help Dragos oversee his business and the Wyr. Since all of Dragos's main protectors are needed in the games, Pia is assigned a team of backup protectors, none of which respect her, to take her south to the Elves. Along the way, Pia must learn to command the respect of her bodyguard, including Eva, the woman who is leading her protectors. Also, Pia is pregnant with Dragos' child, and even though she's seven months along, the baby isn't anywhere near ready to be born. But when an ancient evil from past days attacks the Elven enclave and kidnaps the consort of the Elven leader, Dragos must lead his Wyr south to the Elven stronghold to rescue Pia and resolve the war. Pia, too, must learn to lead on her own and get Dragos to accept her choices and back her decisions, and they have to win a war in a dimension alien to their own. But when the leader of the Elves is slaughtered, can Ria and Dragos take down the thread without further injuring the Elven people? I read the book about Pia and Dragos, but missed the two in between. Thankfully, you don't need to have read them to understand what is going on- but if you haven't read the first book, you won't know what Pia is unless you have read the first book. Still, this was a lovely book that brings the story forward and shows us the continuing and deepening love between Pia and Dragos. I liked the interactions between Pia and the various Elves, and those between Pia and her guards. An excellent book and a great read, Recommended if you have read the first book. If not, read that book first.

Moonshifted by Cassie Alexander- Edie Spence is a nurse working in a secret area of the Hospital. Her cover is that she works in the Pediatric area, but actually Edie works in the Sub-basement caring for the Supernatural community, specifically Vampires and Werewolves. Edie was also involved with a zombie named Ti, but when she was put under threat of death by the vampires, he had to leave town to save his own life, and now Edie feels abandoned. But her concerns are put on the back burner when she and her fellow nurse Charles see a man run down by a black truck at an intersection. The man is a supernatural, so while Charles keeps him alive, Edie runs back to the hospital to summon help. It turns out that this man is the Alpha of the local werewolf Tribe, and his accident throws the pack into turmoil over whether or not he might recover. Edie is also contacted by the vampire girl she saved to be her representative at the ceremony installing her in vampire society. Along with that, she receives a silver knife containing some of Anna (the vampire)'s blood in it. Edie doesn't want to agree, but when Anna explains that Edie is the only person she can trust, Edie feels he has no choice. But in addition to the problems at work, Edie must deal with her family, including her formerly-addicted brother who seems unable to stop with drugs. Only Edie's agreement with the forces that hide the sub-vasement where she works keeps her brother clean. But as her job and personal life collide in entanglements that she could never see coming, she ends up making friends and enemies on both sides of the aisle. But will her ability to make friends help her survive the events to come, or will her friends end up dragging her down? This is the second book in the series, and it doesn't explain at all how the world works, it just sort of throws you in the deep end, and not having read the first book, I wasn't sure I could trust what I figured out. Still I really enjoyed the book, and I got drawn in to Edie and her concerns very easily. The character is sympathetic and the other characters are also very engaging. Really excellent and highly recommended.

Lady and the Magic by Tammy Falkner- Sophia Thorne has come to the human world to carry out a mission to find out what happened to the Duke of Robinsworth's daughter that has made her withdraw into herself. But Sophia finds herself much more strongly drawn to Ashley, even though she is also drawn to his daughter in a friendly, not motherly, fashion. But Sophia's intense attraction to the music that Ashley plays keeps bringing them together in a way that often puts her in his arms, scantily clad and begging for his kiss. But when other members of her family keep showing up and interrupting her mission, Sophie must decide if the love she finds with Ashley and his daughter is worth giving up the world in which she lived her entire life. But when she discovers that her long-lost mother is also living in the human world, will that change her mind? And is there a chance for her to take Ashley to live in the world of the Elves with her? Okay, so this is a romance novel. But it seemed to be very epitome of a by-the-numbers romance novel. There's the whole "strangely draw to one another" on her part, and am attracted despite behavior that should seem almost crazy from her on his, and the usual cast of nagging servants, except here they are Fey. In the end, it only lifts itself a bit from the muck at the end, but I found the whole thing rather forgettable. Not recommended.

Sister of the Dead by Barb and J.C. Hendree- Magiere used to be a conwoman, pretending to kill vampires, vampires that were actually her partner in cons, the half-elf Leesil. But when she was forced to actually kill vampires, she discovered that she is a Dhampir and especially skilled at killing vampires, and the sword that she inherited also has powerful powers against the undead. Leesil, too, is trained as an assassin, and their dog, Chap, is a powerful nature spirit trapped in a dog's body. And with them now is a scholar named Wynn. But now that Magiere knows most of her capabilities, and Leesil has discovered that his mother might still be alive, he wants to go and find her. Only Magiere thinks she has to go find about her own mother and her birth first. But when she finds her aunt is the only one who welcomes her home. But two vampires, the vampire scholar Chane and Welstiel, his master, are on their trail, trying to prevent Magiere from discovering her true origins. But can they keep a determined woman from ferreting out the truth? And what is the true origin of Magiere and what is she, really? I have enjoyed this series from the get-go, and this latest entry was very good and interesting. We get to see that Magiere isn't, as was thought, a Dhampir, even though she is the daughter of a Vampire, she is something quite more than that, having been made from a variety of creatures that each embody a different element: air, earth, fire and water. So, what is she, really? We don't know, and we don't get a clue during the story. But the fact that she was made to be the way she is and that she can or has control over other monstrous creatures is interesting. I can't wait to see how her lineage plays out in the future. Recommended.

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