Saturday, June 22, 2013

2013, Part 4

Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs- Mercy is finally healed from the wounds she took in the last book, River Marked, and it's Black Friday. Adam's daughter, Jesse, has convinced Marcy to drive her out to the Black Friday sales. But after hitting Home Depot, they still don't have what Jesse wants to buy so she convinces Mercy to take her to the local mall. On the way, Mercy has a minor freak out and gets into an accident, totaling her car. But after getting the accident dealt with, she finds out why she had her Freak-out. Someone has kidnapped Adam and the entire pack, and is holding them hostage so that Adam will assassinate a Senator who is anti-were. Adam knows that this would mean that the wrath of the United States would come on any werewolves, so Adam refuses, and the men holding him kill the most submissive wolf in the pack, and Mercedes "sees"  through the bond she shares with Adam and the pack. In addition, Adam and the others have been poisoned with silver, and Adam, while taking much of it into himself via the pack bond ends up having it drawn off by Mercy, who then vomits much of it up on the floor. The fact she can do so is unprecedented, and may come from her association with Coyote. But can she and the remaining free member of the pack find out who has taken them, and where, and cut off the scheme that the men want Adam to carry out? Who is behind it, anyway? And when the master of another Vampire Seethe tries to move in and take over, can Mercy keep her friends safe? And can she call on the help of her mentor, Zee, to ensure that her loved ones come out on top, when the Fae have withdrawn from the United States because of the events in "Fait Game"? Whoa, this one was another book that made me rush through it, even when I wanted to slow down and take my time, because the story and characters pulled at me so powerfully. So much goes on, and readers are pulled in every direction by the various twists and turns, but the story is good, and I have to admit that I didn't see a lot of the ending coming, nor who was really responsible. I can't wait for the next book in the series- I want to see what happens with the Fae  and the Marrok and werewolves both. Highly recommended.

CSI: The Case of the Plagued Play by David Lewman- Woodlands Junior High is putting on a student written play, but problems have plagued the production. Despite how hard the cast and crew have worked, someone is hiding props and doing everything they can to get the play halted or cancelled. Club CSI investigates, having a number of suspects for the sabotage, from the boy whose played came in as second runner up in the class, to one of the cast, to the prop master herself. Even the drama teacher who chose the play to be put on. But who is the true culprit and why are they trying to end the play? A fair number of red herrings makes the Club CSI members second-guess themselves at every turn, but can they finally discover the truth? This book was a little thicker than the other stories in this series, but that was fine, as all the red herrings and misdirection took up quite a bit of time in the book. But the story was good, and even if I guessed the true culprit from the beginning, finding out the why of why they wanted the play cancelled was not completely unexpected. But the clues are hidden well, just the idea that the least likely suspect is often the true villain turned out to be true in this case. Still an excellent story, and both the book and the entire series is highly recommended.

The Mystery Woman by Amanda Quick- Beatrice Lockwood works for Flint and March, usually working as a chaperone protecting young ladies and their virtue from scoundrels that would despoil them. But when her latest case goes awry, she is helped by a man named Joshua Gage, who has been on her trail. Before working for Flint and Marsh, and even before she was an actual chaperone, she worked as a psychic practitioner under an assumed name. But the man who killed her mentor and caused her to flee into the night is after her once again, and Gage believes that she is the one who killed  her mentor and ran off with the money from the Psychical Society that he ran. On actually meeting Beatrice, though, he feels that she is not a criminal, and while he disbelieves in Psychic powers,  he does  believe her to be unusually perceptive and coolheaded. So when she asks to be included in his investigation, he cannot refuse But as they investigate who killer her mentor and who might be blackmailing Gage's sister, Beatrice and Gage discover a powerful attraction between them that could endanger them both,.. or lead to true love. But as Gage deals with his badly injured body, and a nephew who wants nothing more than to follow in his footsteps, he must also seek to control his powerful passion for Beatrice. But does he need more control, or to let himself free? And can Beatrice find it within herself to accept her feelings for this dangerous, unusual man?  And can both of them win free of their enemies and a stunning betrayal that will call into question everything Gage thought he knew? I usually fall into Amanda Quick;s stories and sink into them like a stone. This one was a bit more difficult to do that with because both characters are exceedingly self-controlled and it was a bit off-putting at the beginning of the story. But when the characters started to lighten up a bit and reveal more of themselves, that was what finally sucked me in. The villains here are sufficiently villainous and at the same time hidden that the story unfolded in a way that was truly suspenseful. You get a definite feeling of menace that is quite chilling. Recommended.

Wild Invitation by Nalini Singh- Four short stories set in the Psy-Changeling universe. "Beat of Temptation" has Tamsyn, the healer for DarkRiver, returning to the pack after time away in Medical School. but when she meets Nathan, her soon-to-be-mate again, he tries to keep his distance so that she can have some time to have a normal life before she is subjected to the mating heat. But his intention to keep his distance only makes her think he doesn't want her, which is far, far from the truth. But can he make her see that, or will she have to take matters into her own hands to get what she wants? "Stroke of Enticement" involves Anna, a young teacher who was nearly crippled in a train accident. But when she meets Zach, the uncle of one of her  students, he begins a determined courtship of her that runs squarely into her determination never to marry or enter into a longterm relationship of any kind, because of her past hurts. But Zach wants to have her forever. Can the man and the Leopard convince the reluctant human to accept both his love and the mating bond? "Declaration of Courtship" has  Grace, an extremely submissive wolf, courted by Cooper, an extremely strong Alpha. Butt can he court her without  overwhelming her and making her run, and can she learn to stand up to this man and wolf who  overwhelms her in every conceivable way? Lastly, "Texture of Intimacy" coves the first few weeks after the mating of Lara, the pack healer, and Walker, a Psy who hid his emotions even in the midst of Silence. Can they learn to adjust together, and accept each other's strengths and weaknesses to discover the true joy in their bond? I liked every one of the stories, and they all felt very different, but in a good way. My favorite story was probably "Stroke of Enticement", as I loved the interactions between Zach and Anna, and also between her and her mother, and between her parents as well. This is probably one of my favorite Pay-Changeling books now. Highly recommended.

Destined by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast- Zoey and her friends have returned to Tulsa, but Zoey's mother has  been killed, and she only knows because Nyx let her witness her mother crossing into the afterlife, and Zoey is wracked with grief. But she has to suck it up and return to the House of Night to get schooled. But Nefret isn't out of options yet. Her alliance with the white bull has given her a servant in Aurox, a vampire who can turn into a bull when he absorbs enough pain, anger and sorrow. But even though Zoey is an eeemy of Nefret, Aurox finds he cannot absorb her sorrow, and instead of it feeding him, he feels her emotions as well.  Zoey's grandmother seeks her out to tell Zoey of her mother's death. Since it happened on her grandmother's land, her grandkother will fast and do a ceremony to cleanse the land of the death. She requests that Zoey and her friends do one as well. Neferet is afraid, but she cannot say why, and so she approves the request to appear magnanimous. But it isn't all bad. Thanatos, of the council has come to the school as a teacher to teach advanced classes, and even as the other Vampire teachers bristle at Neferet's bringing humans in to "help" them with their duties, Lenobia finds a kindred spirit in the cowboy sent to help her and his horse. Meanwhile, Kalona seeks to take back Rephaim, but Rephaim is more convinced that Stevie Ray loves him than his father is, and the loss of Rephaim hits him hard. Gradually, it becomes clear that the ritual that takes place on Grandma Redbird's land must be done sooner, and Neferet chooses to act before Zoey and her friends can discover that she killed Zoey's mother. But can Aurox, Neferet's pawn, kill or injure Zoey to prevent the ritual from being successful? And more to the point, does he want to? And Erik goes on his first marking mission, only to encounter a blind girl who is his target. But when he finally marks her, she gains back her sight, and True Sight as well as Red Markings. But what does she have to do with the Red Vampires? I liked this book a lot. I still feel it's more interesting and a better romance than the Twilight series, It was interesting, seeing where Heath's spirit ended up, and I enjoyed Zoey's interaction with Thanatos and even Lemobia, and Lenobia's interactions with her new Cowboy helper. It often seems that the plans Neferet makes end up coming back to bite her in the ass, and I am counting on that to continue. This book was a bit of a waiting game, with several surprising turns for the characters, but I can't wait to read the next one.

Streadfast: An Elemental Masters Novel by Mercedes Lackey- Katie Lagford is on the run from her abusive husband, and a life at the circus that has family joined when they could no longer make a good living on her own. When her parents died in a fire, she was forced to marry the strongman by the Master of the Circus, and his displeasure soon turned into slaps and punches. Now, she's on the run with the money she's earned and looking to run as fast and far from her husband as possible. A group of gypsies shelters her, both because her mother was a gypsy and because of the magic she has- but Katie isn't aware of any mafic, and soon , she must leave the gypsies and make her way on her own. She heads to Brighton, where she quickly gets a job with Lionel Hawkins, an Air Mage who stays in Brighton year round, as his assistant in a magic act. Here, she also comes to the attention of Jack Prescott, a Fire Mage who used to be a soldier in the Boer war, where he lost his leg. He's haunted by what happened to the Boer women and children, but neither he nor Lionel are Elemental Masters, rather, merely Elemental Magicians, and so they are not considered hight up in the cheme of the White Lodge. But as Katie's magic awakens one night when she and Jack are nearly incinerated by a misfired shell at the Fireowrks show, they teach her to use and control their power, even though Katie is more powerful than either of them will ever be. But when Katie's husband returns, neither can do anything to help her- not openly at least. Katie is still the property of her husband by British law, and, and so Katie is going to have to take him out on her own- but maybe with some help. But can she fight against this brutal man who has no compunction about hurting her severely and taking everythin she has yet again? Can Katie get away from him witht he help of her Elementals, or will using them to deal with him inevitably turn them to evil? and more to the point, can she find a way to get a divorce that will have her and Jack be happy together? This book was a wonderful return to form for Ms. Lackey. While "Home from the Sea" suffered from the introduction of two characters from an earlier story, this book mentions that it takes place around the time of "Reserved for the Cat", without ever revisiting those characters. And while I knew as soon as I saw the cover what fiary tale this one was based on, I still wondered about the ending and how it would play out. I should have had tno worries on that score. It's a glorious story, a wonderful love story, and highloy recommended.

Goddess Interrupted by Aimée Carter- Kate has enjoyed the summer off that she shared with James, though only as a friend. But when she returns to the Underworld to become Henry's wife and Queen, he seems strangely distant, and the palace is attacked by strange tendrils of fog. It transpires that Calliope, or Hera, has joined with Cronos, who has awakened and partially freed himself. Now, she wants to let him loose on the surface world, even if it means destroying the mortals. Even if it means that all the Gods fade, she doesn't care. And she also wants to destroy Kate, who has earned the love of Henry and therefore her enmity. So when Cronos abducts Henry,  Walter and Phillip, the others assume that they have already lost, but Kate, Ava and James go in search of Kate's sister, Persephone, to figure out where the gate to the Underworld is to try and free them and bring down Calliope. Along the way, Kate finds little flowers, beautiful and colorful, that smell like cake, which she assumes come from Henry. And Persephone is a revelation, petty and spiteful, but still willing to help them. Only when they finally get to the cave and save Henry and the others, she discovers that Henry is still in love with his ex-wife, no matter how she betrayed him. Kate, who has developed the power of visions, is treated to some very unwelcome ones, and is still strangely stand-offish. Can she repair her relationship with Henry? And should she? Why is he being so distant from her? Does he still love her, or will he throw her over for Persephone? and could she trust him to reply honestly if she asked him why he is distant? Can Kate be with the man she loves, or is pain all she has to look forward to? Coming after the Goddess Test, this book was a revelation and an awakening. Calliope, who she made an enemy of, still hates her- even more now that Kate has returned to share Henry's life and throne, and the revenge she takes on Kate is horrendous. At the same time, Henry has things to work through, feelings of betrayal engendered in him by his previous relationship with Persephone, who still doesn't want him or love him the way he wants her to. Recommended.

The Goddess Legacy by Aimée Carter- This is a series of short stories about the different Gods and Goddesses in the series, showing backgrounds on why they are the way they are. The story begins with Hera, one of the most powerful of the Gods, who enabled Zeus and his brothers and sisters to conquer the Titans. But when Zeus claims kingship over the sky and surface world, Hera is angered that he considers the Goddesses beneath ruling. When he seems to change himself to be with Hera, she finally unbends and marries him. But has he really changed? And will his inability to do so drive the ultimate wedge between them? Ava/Aphrodite is being married off to Hephaestus, but she revolts, wanting to follow her heart and marry Ares. she leaves Olympus to get away from her father and the others who are pressing her to marry Hephaestus. But when Ares leaves her to go off to war, and a wounded man shows up on her island, will he mean more to her than the love of her life? And who will suit Aphrodite  better? The next story is about Persephone, who is married at a mere sixteen to Hades. But although she likes Hades as a friend, she finds it impossible to live with him, and has affairs with Hermes before he betrays her with Aphrodite (as she sees it), and when she meets Adonis, she is unaware at first that he and Aphrodite are together. But when she realizes that Aphrodite is with Adonis, she is determined to fight for this man. But when Adonis dies, how can Persephone save him from an afterlife that is an endless torture? And when Hermes, shunned by the Gods because of his relationship with Persephone, is sent out to discover why Helios and Selene have faded, can he discover why the old Gods faded and possibly prevent the current Gods from doing the same. But when Hermes befriends a group of young boys and their female leader living off robbers traveling through their woods, he ends up falling for their leader, Tuck. But when she gets captured by the Lord she hates, can Hermes get back in time to save her life? And how will the Gods end up not fading? Lastly, we see into the mind of Hades, and his decision to Fade. But when he meets Kate, will his opinion change? And will he accept the offer of Calliope/Hera when she offers to marry him instead of Walter? This book was the third in the series and gives backstory for the characters in the series. We get to see why Calliope is so angry at all the rest of the Gods and Goddesses, Hades included, and why she loves Henry/Hades so much. In a way, you do sympathize with her feelings, but just as obviously, her scorched earth tactics lose her that sympathy. I didn't feel as much sympathy for Ava/Aphrodite, despite her story, although I did find her fascinating. Persephone also had a bit of my sympathy, but the whole "Feuding over a man"thing was kind of ridiculous. I got the feeling that Adonis was a reed that bent whatever way the strongest wind was blowing, and it made him seem awfully shallow. James/Hermes' story was one of the more interesting ones, but the one on Hades seemed to be marking time until the last chapter. All in all, it's not a bad collection of stories, and they certainly kept my interest. The insight we get into the various Gods and Goddesses is great, but I would have liked to seen one on Zeus. Is he as callous and shallow as he comes across? Or does he, too have his reasons? well, maybe someday. Recommended.e

Mixed Vegetables, Volumes 5 and 6 by Ayumi Komura- Hanayu Ashitaba is from a pasty-baking family, but lives to be a Sushi Chef. Hayato Hyuga's family owns a famous sushi restaurant, but he wants to be a baker. The two of them get together so that they can marry into each other's families and inherit the business, but discover real feelings of attraction for each other in the process, But can they both keep their dreams alive? Now, Hayato Hyuga tells her he's willing to give up his dream, because his grandfather wanted him to take over the business. Next, Hanaya makes a bet that she will beat Hayato in their midterms, and if she loses, she will stop working at Hyuga Sushi. But when her father gets a last-minute order for a bridal confection for a woman whose friend is getting married, she gives up her study time to help her father make the Croque-em-Bouche. But will that come back to bite her in the ass? And then Maezawa, one of the workers at the Ashitaba pastry shop, tells Hayata that he wants to marry Hanayu. But will he interfere with their romance? And will their holiday at the beach be interrupted by work?I like this series, even though in the beginning both characters struck me as fairly mercenary and repellent, but the characters have grown on me and continue to do so. I am rather expecting the two businesses to end up conjoined into one, with one side selling sushi and the other selling cakes, so that both characters could be happy. But so far, the series is holding my interest. It's kind of settled down into a more or less a standard student romance. Still, it's not bad- Recommended.

Captain America and Iron Man by Cullen Bunn, Barry Kitson and Jay Leister- Iron Man is at an Arms dealer's convention, showing off his latest creation, the Myriad Engine, which produce tens of thousands of mechanical hornets. But Stark has better ideas than to use them for war. Use them to pollinate crops, or to deliver medicine. And hoping he has given the assembled people something to think on, he adjourns. But he isn't there to show off, but to track down an arms dealer named Kashmir Vennema, but when Batroc aqd his crew invade the Madripoorean weapons show to steal a computer virus known as the Harvester Protocol, they accidentally set it loose on the island, imperiling the world as the virus seeks to take over everything it can touch, including Iron Man's bio-technic armor and every weapon that Batroc and hos crew possess. But can Iron Man purge the virus from his system and keep it from spreading out of Madripoor and into the wider world? And can he and Captain America bring the people responsible for setting the virus free to justice? The second story involves Captain America meeting the fighting both against and alongside Namor the Sub-Mariner during World War 2. When a set of occultists unleash the powers of the Kraken Mask, It's up to Namor and Captain America to defeat the holder of the mask and destroy it so that it can never be used again. But will Namor succumb to the temptation of the mask's power? I enjoyed this graphic novel, which showed some of Tony Stark's genius at creation. He also gets to poke fun at himself and be self-deprecating. The WWII era Cap and Namor Story was amazing and interesting, how he never seems to incite Namor's distate for humans. It's a pretty excellent story, and showed the persistence of evil. Recommended, perhaps even highly, as a dose of fun and amazing.

Natsume's Book of Friends, Volume 13 by Yuki Midorikawa- Takashi Natsume can see all sorts of Onu and other spirits. He inherited "The Book of Friends" from his sunt, and the spirits within the book want to reclaim their names- if anyone uses the book, they can command the sopirits with their true names  But Natsume has won their friendship by returning their names to them if they ask politely. Along the way, he met Nyanko-Sensei, a powerful spirit who has taken the form of a ceramic  Maneki Neko. Seen by everyone as a real cat, he keeps Natsume safe in return for the book when Natsume inevitably does. Natsume isn't the only one who can see spirits. Lots of professional exorcists can as well, but Natsume rather dislikes the malleable morality portrayed by most professional exorcists. However, when  Matioba sens him a message asking for his help, Natsume can;t hlep byut agree, because he does like being helpful.- and matoba tells him exoprcists are being attacked. Going undercover as an Oni serving Matoba, he must discover the person who has been replaced by another spirit in a mask. But can he do it before anyone else is attacked, and can he keep Matoba from using him this way again? Finally, we get to see the interaction betrween Natsumi and two of his classmates, and how they slowly become friends. Can his mask keep people out as well as attract them? Another interesting set of stories, although I did feel the two classmate tales suffered a bit from running so close together. The mystery and hunt for the killer was the more interesting story. Highly Recommended, both book and series.

The Goddess Inheritance by Aimée Carter- Kate has been captured by Calliope/Hera and is pregnant with Henry's child. She's been held by Calliope and Cromus for nine months and is about to give birth. But when her baby comes, Callipe comes and takes her new son away from her, intending to deprive Kate of everything she loves. And helping her is Ava, who Calliope is holding the threat of killing Ava's husband Nicholas over. Then the other gods attack and free Kate, but not her son, who she and Henry name Milo. Kate is forced to flee, but at least she can keep track of her son through visions. But visions aren't enough when she wants to hold him. But in addition to Calliope as a foe, Cronos sets his eyes on Kate, wanting her as his own, a toy and plaything. In addition,  Henry has been badly hurt in the assault on Calliope's palace, and lies in a coma. The only chance to save Henry is to find Cronos' wife, Rhea, but she didn't fight in the last war and may be unwilling to fight in this one. Kate and James head to Africa to track him down, while Kate Communes with Henry through her mind and visions, seeing both her husband and son. Until James asks her to take him along into her visions, and he reveals that it isn't Henry she's seeing and speaking with, but Cronus. As Rhea refuses to help once again, Kate tries to remonstrate with her, but ends up begging the Titan to at least heal Henry, which she does. But Rhea tells Kate that she holds the key to defeating Cronos in herself. Henry appears to escoet Kate and James to Athens, which Cronos has destroyed with a tidal wave. But left behind in the Acropolis, whcih he hasn't destroyed, are pictoglyphs depicting what Cronus wants... and Kate is one of them. But she hasn't told Henry that she agreed to stay with Cronus if he would spare the life of everyone. But when the war against Cronus heats up, it's obvious that the Gods are doomed without Calliope, and she isn't interested in fighting on their side, it's obvious that the fascination that Kate holds for Cronus may be the only key to defeating him and Calliope. But now that Calliope holds a weapon that can kill a God, how can any of them stand against her and Cronos. But can Kate bring herself to sacrifice her love and life with Henry to be with Cronos and end the war? And would such a sacrifice even work? This was an interesting endint to the series, with just the right amounts of tension, danger, love and heartbreak. I found the ending good and surprising, in a way, and the ultimate ending made lots of sense, considering who Kate is. A wonderful, fitting ending. Recommended.

Super Pop: Pop Culture Top Ten Lists to help you win at trivia, survive in the wild , and make it through the Holidays by Daniel Harmon- This book is a book of lists, specifically top ten lists. Best movies to gain wisdom by? Sorted. Best movies and TV shows to learn how to eat better? Done. And so on and so forth. Included with each entry on the list is the reason why it is there- and why it rocks. But unless you are completely on board with the totality of Pop Culture, the nature of the lists can be rather hit or miss, and more of them were misses for me than hits. I found this book sort of uninspiring to read, but I sispect that its utility will vary to different people. It's okay, but if you are looking for a book to knock your socks off, you'll have to look elsewhere. Get it from the library- don't buy it.

The Silver Siz by A.J. Lieberman and Darren Rawlings- Phoebe is an Orphan living on her own on a world where Orphans cannot live on their own. She pretends her father is very busy and thus can't meet with thr landlord. Her parents used to work for Craven Mining, until the ship they were on blew up- something engineered by the owner of Craven Mining to get the secret they were looking for, something to replace Hydro-2, the super fuel which is incredibly expensive... and incredibly polluting for all its potential power. But when Phoebe is rounded up and placed on an orbiting ship with other orphans, she finds that, like her, five of them have a certificate giving them ownership of property on one of the orphan moons. When each of them brings out their certificates to show Phoebe, microchips embedded in the paper start to glow, and they realize that all of their parents were killed in the same Craven mining "accident", and Phoebe intends to escape to see if they can find out where their parents died. But Craven is still after Phoebe, and when he sends his "son" out after them, they end up stealing a ship and landing on the moon that their parents bought a part of. What will they find on the Orphan moon, and can they keep Craven from discovering the secret? Can Phoebe and her new friends find what their parents couldn't, and can they outwit Mr. Craven and bring his crimes to light? I loved this graphic novel, which has six kids fighting back against a tyrannical rich man, his henchmen and his robots to save the legacy of their parents. And just when it seems they might have lost everything, well.. you'll have to reasd that for yourself. An excellent story, and the ending may make you cry, in a good way. Recommended.

Love in the Time of Dragons by Katie McAllister- Tully Sullivan lives, what is to her, a fairly uncomplicated life. She's married to a man named Gideon and has a son named Brom, and she is an apprentice to a mage. The only thing that isn't normal, more or less, about her life, is that once a year, she blacks out for weeks at a time, where she has very intense dreams. But when she goes to London to meet her magician master, for some reason, her collapse comes early, and she dreams of being Ysolde Bouchard, a young woman being raised by foster parents. Her father is a magician, and he gets visited by Baltic, another magician, who realizes that Ysolde is a dragon, and he takes her away with him, because he, too, is a dragon, the Wyvern of the Black Dragons. Animosity ignites between he and Ysolde when he realizes she is a Silver Dragon. but he falls in love with her, and wants her to be his mate. However, the Wyvern of the Silver Dragons also wants her for his own, and War comes between the Dragons, not only over Ysolde, but also over Baltic's wanting to rule over all the other Dragon septs. When she returns to herself, she awakens in an unfamiliar house, with unfamiliar people. They have realized her Dragon nature, and are trying to protect her, but Tully has been recognzed as Baltic's mate, and Baltic's former second in command, Kostya, now Wyvern of the Black Dragons, wants Tully killed for Baltic's crimes, none of which she can even remember. Both Ysolde and Baltic were supposed to have died 300 years ago, and now it seems that Tully has been reborn, and her Dragon spirit is trying to reawaken. Tully would rather believe she is going mad than that any of this is true, but when she meets a reborn Baltic, he is just as hot for her as he was back when they first met. But now he is an outcast among Dragons. However, Baltic has a new wrinkle. He was reborn as a new type of Dragon, a Light Dragon. But will any of his former foes or friends believe him, and can he convince Tully to come back to him? And can she make peace between the Septs so that there is no second war? More to the point, can anybody believe that Balic is good? Well, this book is a part of the Dragons series that Katie MacAlister writes, but truth be told, I just wasn't quite feeling this one. I didn't feel much of any connection to either Tully/Ysolde, and none at all to Balic, which really killed most of my interest in the story. It's not that the characters were unlikeable, just not particularly interesting to me. Okay, so they are a new type of Dragons, Light Dragons. How do they differ from other Dragons beyond being able to use magic? It's never really revealed. Is that the only difference, or are their more? We don't know. And ultimately, the story sank n the shoals of "So?" Not recommended.

Unnatural Habits by Kerry Greenwood- When a young female reporter is attacked in the street, Phryne Fisher and her friend Doctor MacMillan learn she is investigating the disappearance of several heavily pregnant wiomen from a home where they were ready to give birth. The Reporter thinks they may have been kidnapped to a brothel for men with... highly unusual tastes. Phryne is concerned, but when the reporter herself disappears, the Police call in Phryne to investigate. Not only does Phryne have to find the missing reporter, and the pregnant women, but also discover who may have kidnapped the reporter, and why. What secrets is the church hiding, and why do they treat pregnant women so badly? Can Phryne do anything for them? and will she be successful in her quest? Also, Phryne now has another helper- a young man who wants to learn how she does what she does. But is Tucker, used to life on the farm, a good fit with Phryne and her constructed family? This book was good, but the treatment of women we see in the novel made me grind my teeth in anger. Luckily, it's an anger Phryne shares, and she is in a better position than the reader to do something about it. and do something she does, most wonderfully. An excellent mystery and a wonderful all-around book that may not always be comforting or comfortable to read, but which keeps your interest very well. Recommended.

Hidden by P.C. Cast- Now that the truth of Nefret's attack on Zoey's mother is revealed, she is kicked out of the house of Night, but she retaliates by setting herself up as a liaison between the humans and the vampires, and implying that the vampires of the House of Night are responsible for attacking humans. In response, Thanatos, new leader of the Tulsa House of Night, holds a press conference of her own where she paints Nefret as a mere disgruntled employee with an axe to grind. The grudge match between Shaunee and Erin continues, and Erin takes a turn for the Evil and starts a relationship with Dallas, leader of the evil Red Fledglings. Meanwhile Nicole, one of the Evil Red Fledgelings, has helped out after a fire in the stables, and no longer seems to fit in with her former group. And Shaylin, the girl with true sight, has been seeing both changes in their aura. But when Zoey faces up to Aurox being Heath's spirit reborn, she has to tell Stark what she has discovered, and it's time for someone else to step up and become the pillar of water in their circle. But who will it be? And a fire at the stables menaces not only Lenobia and her newly reborn love in the form of the human cowboy who came to work for her, but all of the animals in the stables- at the behest of Neferet. But will her intention to cause chaos bring the White Bull to her side, or will her need for his help keep him away? And will Zoey and her friends be able to solidly defeat Neferet once and for all? Has Kalona really turned away from the Darkness? And can Zoey and her friends keep Aurox in his human form as he battles Neferet, his mistress? This was another great book. More changes happen both to and among Zoey's crew. Erin's turn to evil was rather surprising, but also rather inevitable, given the last book- and Shayla's new role in the coven was amazing. Erik also seems to be becoming less of a prick, although it's taking Shayla to bring that out of him. As the books keep reminding us, change is possible, both from evil to goos, and from good to evil (or certainly bad). Redemption is also possible, and Zoey's life never gets any easier, with men falling for her- and even coming back from the dead to be wtth her. This series is coming to an end, but I have enjoyed it all. The next book is to be the Penultimate one, and I can't wait. Highly recommended.

Excalibur: The Legend of Arthur- a Graphic Novel by Tony Hill and Sam Hart- Uther Pendragon was a warlord who used the power of the Unseelie Folk to shift his seeming to that of Grolois and take his form to spend the night with Gorlois' wife, Igraine. Out of that night comes Gorlois's death in battle, and Igraine's pregnancy with Arthur, Uther's heir. But the price that the Unseelie wamt for their help is Arthur himself, and Uther has Merlin hide him somewhere that Uther doesn't know. So instead, they take Arthur's half-sister, Morgan, for ten years, and Arthur grows up in the country. Uther is slain by his Lieutenant, Ulric, and his sword, Caliburn, is driven into the stone, from which it cannot be pulled, by any save his heir. so when Ector, the Knight who has been raising Arthur, takes Arthur and his son, Cei, to the tourney that happens every year around the sword in the stone, even though Ulric has forbidden it under pain of death, he tries his hand and fails. But when Ulric appears and tries to kill Arthur, Cei defends him, and then Arthur tries to defend Cei from getting killed, only he needs a sword, and so pulls Caliburn from the stone, proving his rightness to be the King of England. But when Ulric would kill Arthur then and there, Merlin appears to tell Ulric that Arthur has the right to challenge him- at dawn the next day. Arthur doesn't trust Merlin, who it seems abandoned him, but Merlin has a plan to not get him killed- take him to Avalon, where a year and a day will pass in a mere few hours on Earth, and have him tutored by the Seelie Fae in war, fighting and statecraft. But after a year and a day passes, Arthur doesn't want to leave, for he has fallen in love with Vivianne, the Lady of the Lake, and he wants to spend time with her. So he makes a bargain with Bran the Blessed for another year and a day in Avalon- and Bran agrees, as long as Arthur comes to Avalon and rules in Bran's place after he dies. Arthur has had visions of his death since he was a boy, and agrees. After the year is up, Arthur must leave Vivianne and Merlin his own lover, the nymph Nimue, and return to the human world to fight Ulric. But after Arthur is victorious, he begs Merlin to take his memory of Vivianne from him- the nobles want him to marry Guinevere, daughter of Leodegrance, and he cannot do so with the memory of Vivianne so fresh in his mind. Merlin, hating the necessity, agrees, and then goes to take on Morgan, calling herself Le Fay after her time with the Unseelie. She hates Arthur, but helped him against Ulric- only to dash him down even further later. Merlin tries to take on Morgan, but she prevails. She thinks she has killed him, but he has merely been throen seven years in the future. Here, Arthur rules over a land at peace and content- but Guinevere and Arthur have never truky connected as husband and wife. Arthur's champion is Sir Lancelot Du Lac, who is in love with the Queen, but chastely, and so wields the sword Caliburn on Arthur's behalf. But the Unseelie know that his mother was an Unseelie Fae raised amongst the Seelie and they salivate for his fall from grace, into their realm. But the time of Arthur's death is approaching, and everyone seems to be conspiring to bring him down. But can Arthur somehow survive the death he has seen coming since he was a mere boy, and can he remember what he has lost by forgetting it before the bitter end comes? This was quite a different look at King Arthur and the events surrounding his reign. Interference by the Fae, both good and evil, explained much- and while the blanking of Arthur's romantic love for Vivianne did a lot of damage, it gave him hope at the end. In this book, the ending is quite different with regards to some of the Knights of the Round Table and Guinevere as well. I liked this version best of pretty much all those I have read, even though Arthur comes off as somewhat of a less than strong figure due to the foreshortening of the story. Nevertheless, an excellent read and highly recommended.

Wolfishly Yours by Lydia Dare- Livoana Mayeux is angry with her father for shipping her off to England to learn how to be a lady. She's more used to following her Lycan brothers around the Bayou, absorbing the place's natural beauty. But now she is stuck in frigid England having her every move scrutinized. Grayson Hadley is feeling put-upon in much the same position, being treated as a wayward cub by the female tutor being paid to drum better manners intothe head of him and his brother. So when the two of them meet for the first time at the home of Livi's grandfather, Livi can tell what Grayson is, and he is stunned to find a woman who actually knows a Lycan. But unfortunately, he finds himself inadvertantly covering her in scandal, not to mention punch. But can Livi overcome this unfortunate first public metting, and can Grayson, who wants her as he has no other woman, keep from tearing apart any other male who pays her attention? I only read this book partway through- the characters didn't capture me, and reading it became a chore I could no longer persevere in. Livi was spoiled and selfish, and Grayson was practically urinating circles around her to keep the other wolves at bay while Grayson's brother and their ettiquette teacher were being incredibly spoilered to be the next couple to fall into love and matrimony- and I could only think I had tons of better things to do with the time I was using to read this book. So I stopped. I have just read this book, God, so many times before. It was the ultimate in meh, and for someone not as into Paranormal Romance as I am, it may even be enjoyable- not so much for me, though. Not recommended.

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