Wednesday, December 03, 2014

2014, Part 11

Almost a Bride by Jane Feather- Jack Fortescu is a man on a mission, and that mission is finally taking *everything* away from Frederick Lacey, Earl of Dunston. So when the Earl loses his fortune and family home "With everything in it" to Jack, he blows his brains out, leaving behind his sister, Arabella Lacey, to take the fallout for her brother. But Arabella doesn't know the terms of the agreement, and Jack wants to keep it from her so that he can force her to marry him, all so he can have his final revenge on Frederick, who he thinks killed Jack's sister and his lover in the French Revolution. But Arabella agrees to marry Jack, and finds that the man she loves has been lying to her through her connection with French Emigres. But when she discovers that Jack's sister is still alive in the Bastille, she will not let him go alone into France to rescue her. And as Jack stays married to Arabella, he starts to discover her brilliant mind, loving heart and sense of wit, and finds himself unexpectedly falling for his bride. But can he let his revenge go to enjoy an entirely unexpected love? I found this one a little hard to get into. Jack is such a jerk for most of the book because he's fixated on Revenge. I thought Arabella deserved far better. But both characters sneaked in and stole my heart. It's hard not to feel for Jack and his feelings of hatred for Frederick Lacey- and with good reason. I found this a difficult romance, but ended up loving how the characters came together. I almost wish it lasted a bit longer so we could get to see Jack as a changed man and loving Arabella a bit more. Still an excellent book. Recommended.

My Unfair Lady by Kathryne Kennedy- Summer Wine Lee knows nothing about being a lady. Raised on the frontier of America, she grew up in poverty, until her father struck it rich for her mother, who was already dead. He continued to amass wealth for Summer, and Summer came to New York to live with him, only to fall in love with Monte Tarkington, one of the richest families in New York. He also loves her, but his family will not accept her until she has been presented to the Queen. And so she travels to London, only to discover it isn't as easy as that. She needs lessons to prepare herself for London, so she approaches Byron, impoverished Duke of Monchester with a proposal- get her introduced to the Queen and polish her so she can be accepted. Byron is as well known for his viciously truthful tongue that makes the ton fear him. But this American who has offered him the chance to regain the money his family lost isn't afraid of him- perhaps he should be afraid of a woman to packs a knife beneath her skirts and is ready to jump in and save him from someone who seems set on killing him. Constantly surprised and taken aback by her, he finds himself drawn to her beauty and fearlessness, and soon, he no longer wants to teach her so she can go back to New York and marry Monte- he wants her for herself. As for Summer, the dashing Duke becomes more than a teacher- he becomes a friend and a lover, but can she deny what ahe finds she really wants to return to New York to marry the man she thought she loved? Or does she have the will to reach for something she never knew she wanted? This was an intriguing and engaging story. Summer starts out as a fish out of water, but also finds that the skills she learned as a child in the American Southwest can be equally needed in England. But it is Byron who finds himself the most changed. Renowned for his poisonous tongue, he is only accepted because of his rank and his friendship with the Prince. The things he wants- the things he cares about, are far removed from his daily life. It was nice to see him change and grow to accept Summer, and the effect they have on each other through the course of the book, and I liked the ending very much. Recommended.

The Viking Takes a Knight by Sandra Hill- John of Hawk's Nest is a valiant Saxon Knight who wants nothing else than to be left alone in peace to raise bees and perform his experiments with honey. But others around him are telling him that he needs a good woman to ease his needs. Ingrith, a Viking Princess, runs an orphanage where she raises the son of the Prince, who is now in danger from a relative who has taken the throne and wants the boy killed to ensure the succession. With another threat from the Captain of the Guard, who intends to make her his leman, against her wishes, she flees to John's Castle, hoping to hide the boy from his relative and keep him alive and her from the Captain's Bed. But when she takes charge of the Castle kitchens, John is irritated with Ingrith, but cannot help but notice her... finer qualities. Ingrith, too, finds herself more attracted to John the longer she stays in his company. As they come together, both body and mind, John will have to go to Ingrith's father to take her to wife. But can he win her wild heart? This was an okay romance novel, but nothing all that good really stood out about it for me in a good way. However, what really made me annoyed with the story was the phrase, "Man parts", used by pretty much everyone, no matter their culture or background. Really? Neither the Vikings nor the Saxons have a more prosaic or earthy term for that part of the body? Not even Ballocks? It grated on my nerves after a while, and I found it offputting in the extreme. It's horrible that it's often the little things that so ruin a story that later make you look back on things with a jaundiced eye. I mean, the word may sound like it should be courtly and old-fashioned, but to my ears it just falls lame, and flat. So, I wouldn't recommend this book because I still cringe when I think of reading the love scenes. Save your money. Not recommended.

Silver Nights by Jane Feather- Sophie Golitskova's mother died in childbirth, on the run from the forces of the Czarina Catherine, who they were accused to wanting to overthrow, and her father shot himself rather than be captured. Their daughter, Sophia Alexeyevna was taken to her grandfather to raise. But when Catherine orders her to marry Prince Paul Dmitirev, she sends a young Cavalry Officer, Dmitriev's aide, Adam Danilevski, to deliver the news and escort her back to the capital for her marriage. Sophie does not want to be married, but both Adam and her grandfather conspire to get her to accept the marriage. She and Adam become close- almost lovers, but not quite, as he takes her to meet her bridegroom. Prince Dmitirev doesn't actually want Sophie, though- he wanted her mother, who was won instead by Sophie's father. Because he doesn't want his new bride, except as a sop to his pride, he determines to completely rule her-something foreign to the spirited Sophie. And just when he thought he had the job finished, she rebels against him, and he sells her beloved horse. When she continues to defy him, she becomes Adam's lover, and the Czarina colludes with the lovers by assigning her husband fat from the two, and looking the other way. But finally Dmitryev has had enough and sends her off on a visit to her grandfather in thin clothing and without any heat. Only Adam's interference saves her, and he returns her to her grandfather, loving her through the winter. But she is pregnant with his child, and when her husband finds out, he is determined to separate the lovers once and for all and to kill Sophie if he cannot make her his. Her only hope is Adam. Can he find her and rescue their son in time? Reading this romance was hard. I mean, I loved the story and the love between Sophie and Adam, but her husband was a real piece of work, and the evil he does to Sophie, and to Adam as well, made me sick. In a way, it was almost too real to be able to dismiss as merely a story. Paul Dmitiryev is a monster, and he is so realistic, it's really disturbing, because you can see that actually happening. But I found the romance a little dry and almost... too mannered for me, which was strange, considering the supposedly untamed nature of Sophie and what happens. As a result of the sickening monster who is the villain and the almost too dry nature of the romance, I found myself not enjoying the book very much. It was simply not my cup of tea. So, not recommended from me, but I have a feeling that other people would find this more interesting than I did.

A Gentleman Never Tells by Amelia Gentry- Gabrielle was taking a walk with her hound, Brutus, after witnessing the love between her fiancé and her sister, Rosabelle, when she came on Lord Brentwood walking his deceased mother's laphound, Prissy. In moments, she is in Brent's arms, kissing him for all she is worth, with he gladly returning her ardor. But when they are caught by her father and her fiancé, she can't betray her sister's dalliance and instead keeps her silence. The betrothal broken, her father forces Brentwood to offer for her and they become engaged. But when she offers to let her former Fiance offer for her sister, instead, he claims that he was only kissing her because Rosabelle enjoyed kissing, and that he feels nothing for her. Gabrielle is shocked, but knows she will never marry him. But as she finds herself falling for Brent, they are thrown together when he goes in search of his mother's missing dog, finding that other nobles are also missing their dogs as well. Brent also is in London to take care of his half-brothers, born out of an affair that his mother had with a man she met in London. Now that his mother is dead, he wants to protect them from finding out about their real parentage and thinking ill of their mother. Plus, he keeps Gabrielle's secret about being the one to initiate the kiss, because a true Gentleman never tells. But can she find a way to keep Brent, the man she is falling in love with, and her family as well? This romance made me smile. Yes, there are some genuinely uncomfortable moments for both Brent and Gabrielle, but generally, their romance was made of happy moments and  it left me happy to read. While there was nothing "knock your socks off" about this story- it was still a solid romance that, at the end of the book, left me with a smile on my face. Definitely a book to feel good about. Recommended.

Black Butler, Volume 8 by Yana Toboso- The Big top assassins continue their rampage, and Ciel and Sebastian, along with Ciel's servants, must fend them off with weapons and cunning. While it might be possible to save the assassins, Ciel determines that they are too badly damaged to risk them re-entering society. However, he does as one of them asks and goes to save the rest of the orphans from the orphanage they come from because the assassins are trying to free the other children there. Then, Ciel is visited by his fiancée and has to have a new wardrobe made. But the designer is crazy and wants to dress Ciel like a toy doll. Can Ciel fight for his right to dress like an adult and can Sebastian save him from having the scar that seals their contract be seen by the fashion designer? I like this series, which sort of riffs on the same things that "Yami no Matsuei" or "Descendants of Darkness" does so well. It also puts me in mind of "Godchild", with a detective having a devoted Butler who helps them, and it sort of mixes the two genres. I find the character of Sebastian an intriguing study in contrasts. Despite being a literal devil, he usually ends up fascinated by the evil that humans are capable of- apparently, humans are or can be worse than devils, and Cain and his opponents often show this. Recommended.

Black Butler, Volume 10 by Yana Toboso- Ciel's been giving a Royally sanctioned dinner party, but three people have been killed, including Sebastian. Seemingly at an impasse, one of the guests steps forward to try and solve the murders and determine who is responsible, but Ciel has already sent for help- a vicar named Jeremy Rathbone, who arrives just as the guest determines that someone from the outside, not a part of the guests, must have committed the murders. But can the Vicar determine the true murderer, and is Sebastian really dead? This book is the end of a locked room-type mystery, although it's less a room than an entire estate cut off from the world by a horrible storm and an overflowing river, but it manages to remain a creditable mystery, though readers familiar with the work of Arthur Conan Doyle will notice that the solution is very Holmesian and even the supposed "vicar" is strongly based on the appearance of Jeremy Brett from the Sherlock Holmes TV series from Granada Television. Nonetheless, an interesting book to read and a fun story. Recommended.

At Last Comes Love by Mary Balogh- Duncan Pennethorne, Earl of Sherringford, has fled from the ton after a notorious scandal. But now that five years have passed, he's been informed that his grandfather is cutting him off from the funds that sustain him, his servants, and his son, Tobias. Traveling back to London to confront his grandfather, he discovers that the old man is holding him to his promise to marry before his grandfather's 80th birthday and have an heir by his 81st- and he only has two weeks to fulfill the terms of the agreement. Sebastian sets off in search of a wife who will have him. By contrast, Margaret Huxtable gave up on the idea of marriage, or even romance, to raise her three siblings after their parents died. The man who she was in love with and promised to wait for betrayed her when he was on the continent, and now that he has returned, she wants nothing to do with him. However, her only other prospect for romance and marriage has since met another woman and married her as well, leaving her alone. Literally running into Duncan on the dance floor, he proposes to her right away, liking the looks of her, and she accepts, but thinking he is merely joking. When she realizes he is being honest, she decides that she won't agree to marry him- but she will agree to be romanced, with the possibility to marry him at the end of his time. He agrees, but can he give Meg the love she yearns for while still hiding so many secrets from her? And can Meg heal the rifts inside Duncan's family and help him regain what he's lost? I liked this book, which had a very strong hook to draw me in- Duncan was exiled from the Ton because of a scandal- but the blurb doesn't make clear what the scandal is. But let me say- it's a doozy. Duncan ran off with his brother's wife at his own wedding. Of course, there is more to it than that. Considerably more, and therein lies the truth of the matter and the reason why it happened. But Duncan's good fortune in finding the right woman to marry and his wife's ability to love and be loved is what underlies the story and makes the ending worthwhile. I loved how open and honest Meg was and how I could understand why Duncan lied about so many things to her- by that time, I was invested in the story and wanted to see both Hero and heroine end up happy. Recommended, though this is an older book and you may have o search for it.

Mars Up Close: Inside the Curiosity Mission by Marc Kaufman, with a forward by Elon Musk- Mars is almost a twin to earth- nearly the same size, but even though it is in the habitable zone of the sun, Mars is dry, dessicated and dead, especially when compared to Earth, with an abundance of free-flowing water and an equal abundance of life and life forms. But Mars may have once had water- many features on Mars seem to have been sculpted by water, and they continue to whisper to scientists that Mars may have looked even more like Earth when it was younger. But could the secrets of Mars' green past still be found buried in the present? And with a human mission impossible at this point in time, how will we be able to find the evidence if it is? Adam Steltzner, a rock guitarist, designed an SUV-sized rover to explore the surface of Mars, absent any humans. And so began the story of the Curiosity rover, and the incredible journey it undertook across the surface of the red planet to probe into the Martian past. Filled with hundreds of photos and charts, this book tells us both the human story of the Rover and the many people at NASA who made it work, fixed it when there was a problem (from many millions of miles away) and who shared in the triumph of the Curiosity mission. We get to see everywhere along the way, from the time Curiosity landed, through the glitch that nearly ended the mission and into further triumphs later on. This book was packed with information and the stories of those who worked on the Rover mission, and the story of the Rover itself. If you wanted to know anything about the Rover and its mission, here is the place to find it. Highly recommended.

New York Christmas by Anne Perry- Jemima Pitt is now in her twenties and she is acting as a companion to Delphinia Cardew, and acquaintance of hers to New York City to marry Phinnie's fiancé, Brent Albright. Both families are rich and while neither is titled, their marriage will definitely be an affair to remember. However, Brent's brother Harley asks her to help him find Phinnie's mother, a woman who abandoned her husband and daughter and ran off for no apparent reason, to keep her from attending the wedding and spoiling the occasion, Jemima is glad to try and help. But when Phinnie's mother turns up dead and is found by Jemima, he throws her to the wolves, in this case, the New York Police and accuses her, in a roundabout way, of killing Phinnie's mother, Jemima is imprisoned and questioned. To save her own life and find the real murderer, Jemima must team up with Patrick Flannery, the Irish policeman assigned to the case. It turns out that Maria Cardew, Phinnie's mother, was nursing the owner of the apartment. Trying to track down the woman, Jemima, freed with the help of Celia Albright must discover her own hidden detective instinct to determine not only the true killer, but save herself from the Hangman's noose. This was a short but wonderful novel, part of Anne Perry's Christmas series. Here we get to see Jemima, the daughter of Thomas and Caroline, finally come into her own and help solve a mystery. And it's a great one that ties into the American location they take place in. Also, though we haven't seen a section from Jemima's perspective before, I found her an engaging Mix of both her mother and father's point of view. I liked the ending and perhaps Anne Perry, like Elizabeth Peters, is going to do a "next generation" series, where the children of the two original characters come into their own and take on many of the same roles. I can only hope! Highly recommended,

Love on the Dark Side Anthology by various Authors is a collection of soft-core erotica of the paranormal variety from a company known as "Black Lace" In "What Witches Want" by Mathilde Madden details Lilith, Queen of the Witches as she attempts to find a man to be her lover. Can she do it by giving up her power? "The Black Knight" by Olivia Knight has a faithful Knight ensorcelled and imprisoned by a wicked enchantress. Can his lady-love and her mother save him from the woman's clutches? "My Earthquake in Leamington Spa" by Kristina Lloyd has a Married woman finding love and a satisfying love life with a Butler of another era, who she visits by traveling through a time portal into the past. But can their relationship last when all she wants to do is be with him?  "Stranger to My Shores" by Sophie Mouette has an oceanographer find a merman washed up on shore. She saves his life, and he gifts her love, but can the two of them be together when he is a creature of the tropics and she lives and works in  Cape Cod? "Lust for Blood" by Madelynne Ellis tells of one woman's Odyssey of sex and seduction with two vampires, "Sun Seeking" by Janine Ashbless has a tourist in Greece getting seduced by a pair of Greek deities living on a small island, "Power Play" by Katie Doyce has a supervillain fall into the clutches of a very sexy Superhero on vacation, but while they play a game of seduction, will she let him go at the end, or throw him in jail for his crimes? In "The Shadow of Matthew" by Gwen Masters, a woman mourning the death of her husband gets a little supernatural visitation from the dearly departed. "Magic for Beginners" by Sabine Whelan has a student of magic in love with her teacher, but will they come together before she explodes in frustration> "Sweet Dreams" by A.D.R. Forte has a woman meet one of her co-workers in her dreams for tremendous sex. But can it last? "Girl of His Dreams" has a woman with the power to enter and manipulate the dreams of others try to seduce a co-worker with her powers. But will her plans succeed? "To Stand Between the Wild and the Human" has a researcher on a deserted isle meet a mythical creature- a kitsune. But when she begins falling in love with him, can their experience end happily? "Watching the Detective" by Portia DaCosta has a woman dreaming od a sexual encounter with her favorite fictional but was it really just a dream when her boyfriend has dreamed of watching her? "All I Want for Christmas" by Mae Nixon has a video store employee summon her own succubus for Christmas. But what does se really want? "The End of the Pier" by Angel Blake has a man encountering the BDSM model of his dreams. But will their encounter end the way he wants it to? I was interested in this book mainly because I love reading Emma Holly's story, which sit firmly on the line between romance and erotica. But this book was a mixed bag for me Some of the stories were good, and others were only okay or did nothing for me. My favorites were "The Black Knight" and "Power Play". The rest just didn't scratch that same itch. I suspect that this will be true for everyone, but it is a nice overview of what's available. Neither recommended nor not recommended.

Black Butler Volume 9 by Yana Toboso- The Queen commands Ciel to throw a party for a relative of hers visiting from Germany. It must be Ciel because the man wishes to meet leading industriaists and Ciel runs the Funtom Corporation. The man proves to be quiet a problem, especially when drinking, as he manhandles an actress invited for the dinner, and will not let her go. He also drinks like a fish and Sebastian has to haul him off to his room. Later that night, though, the man is dead, and Sebastian and the other guests must find the killer. But he isn't the only one who is killed- when Sebastian looks into the fireplace in the murdered man's room, he is struck from behind and killed. Ciel is angered by his Butler's Death, but he'a also angry at Sebastian for dying.. But when another guest is discovered dead, it's up to Ciel and a young Doctor with an interest in mysteries, to solve the whodunit and unmask the murderer... This volume neatly sets up a locked room and "locked house" mystery, but doesn't (as yet) reveal the murderer. Nevertheless, it was an interesting read, and seeing Ciel's reaction to Sebastian;'s death was very affecting, but we are already getting clues that make it clear that things are not quite as they seem. Despite having already read Volume 10 and knowing who the murderer was, I still found the story quite suspenseful, and I enjoyed reading it. Tension is handled well, with the suspense ratcheting up and up as the story goes on. Recommended.

Black Butler, Volume 12 by Yana Toboso- Ciel and his fiancée are sailing on the Campania, but there is a zombie loose on the ship.Ciel and Sebastian team up to take it down, but it's not the only one on the ship. One of the guests has created a machine to bring the dead back to life, and he's traveling with quite a few corpses in his baggage, all stored in the lower baggage compartment. But when one zombie becomes hundreds, two reapers show up and start killing the zombies, inadvertently helping Ciel, Sebastian and Elizabeth and her family fight off the zombie plague. Elizabeth thinks Ciel will reject her if she shows off how good at combat she is, but she also wants to keep him safe. But the reapers care nothing for the living and they very much don't like Sebastian. Soon, the walking dead outnumber the living, and Sebastian and Ciel are separated as they attemopt to keep more Zombies from being produced. But who is really in charge of the mysterious "Aurora Society", and why do they want to save humans by re-animating the bodies as bloodthirsty killers? And who or what gave them the idea in the first place? This volume starts out with a single zombie and escalates from there. As more and more of the living dead show up to plague the living, the more chaotic and out of control things get, until the entire ship is in chaos- and the reapers don't care to help the living, except indirectly. In fact, the reapers plan to destroy the ship and sink it, killing everyone on board, before they are stopped and coerced into doing things in a way that will allow the other humans to survive. But who will be among the survivors is still an open question, mong others. Recommended.

Black Butler, Volume 13 by Yana Toboso- We finally meet the mastermind behind the Aurora Society, and learn why the Kaiser wants zombies- and the answer isn't pretty. The remaining humans, Elizabetgh and her family, Ciel and the others must team up to prevent further deaths. But even with the assistance of the two Reapers, are Ciel and Sebastian enough to overcome this new foe? And in the midst of Death, their foe calls up the memory of the first meeting of Ciel and Sebastian and find out how a devil became a Butler and Ciel came to take Sebastian into his service. But Can Sebastian really die? And what would happen to Ciel if he does? Another tense and suspenseful volume. In the midst of a Zombie outbreak, a supernatural fight is going on, one that will have the fate of the world at its stake. But Can Ciel and the others survive the villain and ensure that he meets a just fate? I am hoping the next volume is the conclusion of the fight, because the whole "Zombies" thing is getting old. But the villain and his motivations are finally explained, and it was a welcome change to see. The backstory of Sebastian and Ciel is fascinating, and I want to read more of that. More mysteries tantalize the reader, and I found them fascinating. Recommended.

Revenant by Kat Richardson- Harper Blaine has been living with her boyfriend, Quinton, who lives life as a ghost in the system to escape the clutches of his father, James Purlis. Quinton has always been wary of his father, but now his niece has disappeared and his sister is asking for his help. Making her way to Portugal with the help of a vampire she knows named Carlos, she is shpped to Portugal as a dead body, with a spell on her yo make her seem that way. But once in Portugal, it seems that Quinton's niece was kidnapped by her own grandfather, along with being given two very creepy presents. Harper determines that the two people with Purlis were magicians who deal with death, and that they are responsible for kidnapping Soraia, and that the magicians need the litle girl for a rritual they are going to do. The only help Carlos can give Harper is that sometimes, someone must sacrifice something precious to them to make a ritual work right. But what does Purlis want so badly that he'd give up members of his own family to accomplish it? And what do the magicians want from Purlis in return? And furthermore, what history do the magicians have with Carlos, a vampire who was also once a magician? And can Quinton, Harper and their allies save Soraia from her grandfather and from whatever vengeance the magicians are planning before a magical catastrophe falls on Portugal/ I read this book almost all at once while waiting to see a Doctor, and I have to admit, I was hooked from the very first page. I liked the way that Harper saw Portugal and how Kat Richardson described the History of Portugal affecting the ghosts there. Naturally, Europe is far older than Portugal, so there are more ghosts there and as a different culture,the way that the Portuguese people saw and reacted to the ghosts in their midst was different and interesting. While I really enjoyed the main plot, I also found the subplot with Carlos and his history and later, how it tied into the main plot, incredibly gripping. I liked the way that even Carlos, an immortal vampire who you think would be immune to or have thrown off his emotional baggage by now, found that to be not the case. In short, this book kept me engrossed and engaged right up until the very end. Definitely recommended, along with the entire series.

The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz is a book of 150+ recipes of all sorts, based on foods, meals and drinksmentioned in the Harry Potter books. You'll find everything from the proverbial soup to nuts (no actual nuts, but there are recipes with nuts in them. Unlike some cookbooks, which arrange recipes by type (breakfasts, appetizers,, main dishes and so on). This book arranges meals by where they are eaten, from "Good meals with Bad Relatives" (foods that are metnioned in the chapters where Harry is with the Dursleys, to foods on sale in or near Diagon Alley, to the feasts at Hogwarts, dinners at the Weasley home of "The Burrow", all the way to the treats available in Hogsmeade at Honeydukes and similar shops, this book brings on the fun aspects! It's not all British foods, though, as the book was published after "Deathly Hallows" and covers both some French and German recipes enjoyed by students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, as well as the lovely Fleur Delacort, so recipes like Bouillabaisse and Blanmange make appearances as well. Most of the recipes are rather classically English, but they are also all pretty much from scratch, which may take a bit of time, especially for sweets like cakes, whereas most Americans tend to make premeasured cake mix rather than measuring and mixing the ingredients themselves. On the other hand, there are recipes here for things that are really interesting, like Real English Muffins and the like. If you are interested in Harry Potter and trying to make things like the characters in the books eat, this is definitely a book you are going to want to look into. I haven't tried any of the recipes, but they look good, and they were developed by a French-trained chef, so they should be extremely edible and delicious. Worth a read- recommended.

Rise of the King by R.A. Salvatore- The Companions of the Hall are reborn and reunited, but the machinations of the Drow, specificially MAtron Mother Quenthel Baenre of Menzoberranzan, is bringing wat to the North, and Drizzt and his companions feel that they must intervene as the Kingdom of Obould Many-Arrows is overthrown by a Warlord named Harrtusk under Drow leadership. The Orcs then combine with the Frost Giants, Goblins, Ogrillions and other monstrous humanoids to wage war on the Kingdoms of the North, including Nesme, Silverymoon, Everlund and the three Dwarf Citadels of Clan Adbar, Bruenor Battlehammer's Mithral Hall and Citadel Felbarr, among others. The sheet size and ferocity of the Orcish army and its allies leads to many towns and cities being overrun and some of the dwarven leaders being killed. With the Dwarves penned up in their lands by the sheer size of the Orcish led army, the Silver Marches Confederation falls apart, leaving the cities weakened still further. Drizzt and his friends meet up with Athrogate and help defend Nesme, then try to reach Mithral Hall, but Regis and Wulfgar are separated from the others while Drizzt, Bruenor, Athrogate and Cattie-Brie reach Mithril Hall and do some fast talking to prove who they really are. But without them, Nesme falls to a trick by the Drow and their Orcish army, and there is no guarantee that Drizzt and the companions of the Hall will be able to prevail against the sheer numbers arrayed against them. Will Drizzt and his friends fall attempting to save the North once again, or will the Drow overreach themselves and find themselves defeated? Meanwhile, Jarlaxle and his lieutenant in the Bregan D'Arthe, Kimmuirl Oblodra, discover what Quenthel Baenre has done to Dahlia, now ensconced in the role and person of Darthiir Do'Unrden, Matron mother of that house and firmly allied with Quenthel. But her mind is broken and it's unknown if the person of Dahlia even exists any more. What will happen to the north, regardless of the way things fall out? Wow, so much stuff happens in this book, and yet, it still all ends on a cliffhanger, with the Companions separated and both sets of characters in trouble, and events all up in the air around them. So much battle happens, and we nearly lose a character from the Companions several times, that this one had an air of actual danger and excitement to it. I found the characters better in this one, and the story kept my interest throughout. I've gotten used to the changes of the characters in this one now, or rather I should say that the characters have become more like their old selves, and it's hard to not to feel a glimmer of excitement that I used to feel when I first read R.A. Salvatore's books years ago. I feel cautiously hopeful for this series. Recommended.

Heart Fortune by Robin D. Owens- Glyssa Licorice is a member of the highly flaired families of Celta, her family being hereditary librarians. She has already met her Heartmate, a man named Jace Bayrum, and while they connected on a sexual plane, he fled from her because he doesn't want to be tied down to anything like a mate. An adventurer at heart, Jace is working on an archaeological site- the crash of one of the Celtan Colonists original spaceships, the Lugh's Spear, assisting with excavations there. Off a recently ended relationship with a woman named Funa Twinevine, who decided she also wanted a realtionship with Andic Sanicle, Jace declining to share her and giving her up, Jace is the first one to enter the ship and is nearly hurt. But the reverberations of his near-death reach Glyssa, who decides to take her destiny in her hands and join the expedition so she can make a deeper connection with Jace. But doing so is a big risk to her careet, and Jace, who has been connecting with Glyssa in his dreams, has also been tagged with the reputatuon of being unlucky and a possible saboteur on the expedition. By the time Glyssa joins him, Jace is feeling ostracized, and Glyssa and the daughter of the two people leading the expedition, who happens to have a crush on Jace, are the only ones who will spend time eith him- and Jace and Glyssa's new Fams, Glyssa's FoxFam, Lepid and Zem, the HawkcelFam that Jace saved from a broken wing. As they research the origins of the ship, it becomes clear that the expedition *does* have a saboteur, but it isn't Jace. Can Jace and Glyssa discover the real saboteur and save the contents of the ship before the saboteur can make off with valuable artifacts from the past of Celta? And can Jace overcome his background to trust Glyssa with his heart and make her his? And when they are trapped in the ship together, can Glyssa uncover the source of Jace's flair and find a way to save them all from a horrible, Lingering dearh? And can she overcome the way Jace treated her to claim her HeartMate and found a new life for them? I love the Robin Owens Celta stories, which are almost something like the Harmony books of Jane Castle, only the Celtans already had some sorts of mental powers and were seeking a place to build a society on that. Psychic powers are also increaing in strength and potency, causing unrest between those who want the pople with new and greater powers to be added to the "Noble" families, while others do not. But this book eschews that part of society to focus and the origins of the colonists and the people who are investigating that origin. That being said, this is a romance novel and that's what the story is pretty much taken up with- the feelings of the characters and their varuous encounters with each other. I did like the story, as I wanted to be an archaologist when I was younger , and the story fed right into that. The romances Robin Owen writes are always fine, and this was just another wonderful one- this one was hampered by Jace's past and his family, and Glssa's hurt at him. However, to stay alive at tne end, they had to overcome their feelings on both sides to survive, and I liked the ending. Recommended.

Heart Fire by Robin D. Owens- Antenn Blackthorn-Mossused to be wild street kid after his sister was killed in a fire and he was adopted into a gang run by his older brother, who killed Nobles in a really horrific firebombing. Antenn was saved by the Blackthorn family, adopted, and became one of their sons. Now an architect with a budding careet, he is contracted to build a Cathedral for a non-mainstream religion called "The Intersection of Hope". He is assigned to work with a priestess named Tiana Mugwort, whose mother holds those beliefs and who must write a new ritual to consecrate the temple to the four deities of the Intersectionist faith. But even though Tiana's mother is a member of the Intersectionists, Tiana is of the more popular Celtan religion of the Lord and Lady. But she has bad memories based around the church because of a murder that was blamed on the members of the Intersection of Faith, whose incense was left at the scene of the crime. Tiana's family was attacked by a mob because of it, but Tiana thinks it had less to do with that and the fact that Lord Equisetum wanted a job that Tiana's father was also in the running for. But as she works with the members of the other church (who wish to be known as the Hopers), new clouds are gathering. Though her family lost their own estate and now live in the BalmHeal Estate, which hides itself exceot to those who need healing), Lord Equisetum is violently opposed to the temple being built outside the city- and to Tiana herself, as well as Antenn. Both previously outcast and now accepted by the dint of their trying, Antenn and Tiana find themselves attracted to each other quite deeply. Only Antenn has blocked knowledge of his Heartmate because he didn't want to be distracted from becoming accepted and building his business. When the protection is finally removed, he discovers that Tiana is his HeartMate, and she is upset at how he has hidden from her all this time. She channels the rage she feels into a case against Lord Equisetum investigated by IlexWinterberry. To remember what happened that night, Tiana will have to relive it as if she was there, and gain enough courage to swear out a complaint against Lord Equisetum. But as protect against the new temple being built intensifies, someone seems determined to stop it from being built. Can Antenn and Tiana protect the temple from the forces converging to force it never to be built and bring Lord Equisetum to justice? This was another great Robin Owens romance. Both characters in this one are or have been outcasts, and know what it is like to be looked down upon- and hated and hunted. But both are trying to overcome their origins. The love between them is unexpected and yet sweet, and I liked how they both had cat Fams, and the way they interacted with each other- and how they helped each other defeat the threats to the temple they were building. I really loved this book, and these two characters. The only downside is that we don't get to see what happens to the ultimate villain who is causing all the problem. His fate is discussed, but not revealed. Highly recommended.

Archangel's Shadows by Nalini Singh- Ashwini is a Guild Hunter, a friend of Elena, and Janvier is a hundreds year old vampire who has been interested in Ash since she first tracked him down on behalf of an angel. Luckily, Janvier made up with the angel and Ash wasn't forced to kill him. However, both of them share an interest in each other. Now, Cleaning up in the aftermath of the attack by Lijuan on New York, Ash is assigned to find who or what has been killing and mummifying dogs in the New York Sewers. Janvier has been assigned to find out why vampires have been turning feral and bloodthirsty- which may be related to a new drug on the scene. Ash and Janvier think their problems might be related, and they team up to find answers, Janvier helping Ash with the mummified animals- and humans that are turning up, and Ash helping Janvier track the drug. Doing so makes them become cloaer, but Ash is hiding a secret from Janvier, one that affects her whole family, and may be why she is so opposed to becoming a vampire like him- it has to do with her power- the ability to read people by skin to skin contact. But as she and Janvier become closer, even becoming lovers, she can't help but let him into her life- which includes all of her secrets. But will Janvier be angry when he finds out what she has been hiding from him, or will he understand? And can Ash and Janvier track down the villains responsible for the dead animals and the drug? I liked this book. Ash's secret is kept not only from Janvier, but from the reader as well until very late in the story, which lends it a strength and weight equal to its later impact on the story. We, as readers, get drawn into the head of Ash and when the big secret is finally revealed, it's portentous in a way few other secrets are in romance novels. And I found this book gripping and emotionally engaging in a way I haven't found many others lately. This was a wonderful story with great world-building, and I loved to see all the other characters that showed up in it again. Lovely, just lovely. Highly recommended.

To Desire a Devil by Elizabeth Hoyt- Beatrice Corning is the niece of the Current Earl of Blanchard. Before her uncle became Earl, he was not a nobleman, but a fairly wealthy member of the merchant class. He doesn't make a very impressive Earl, but he is determined to remain Earl. As for Beatrice, she knows she is supposed to marry, but she has only ever been attracted to one man: the son of the former Earl of Blanchard, whose picture hangs over the fireplace in the home that now belongs to her Uncle. So when Reynaud St. Aubyn finally returns home from the colonies, he goes back to the home that was once his- but if Beatrice's uncle has his way, he won't be welcome there. Reynaud is no longer the man he was- years enslaved by the Native Americans have changed him in deep and fundamental ways- more than the scars on his body and the tattoos around his eye- he has been betrayed by someone among his own men, and now that he is returned to England, Reynaud is determined to get his life back- starting with the title that should have been his, and justice on the member of his command who betrayed him, and blackened his name in the process- because the rumor is that the betrayer had a French mother, and in all the men captured by the Indians- that could only be Reynaud himself. And he finds himself attracted to Beatrice, and wanting her as he has wanting nothing before, save freedom. But can he win her if she hurts her Uncle by taking back his title? And if she doesn't want a title, how will he win this beautiful, fascinating woman for his own? I found this book only okay- It's the last in a series of four by Elizabeth Hoyt in the :Legend of the Four Soldiers" series. I hadn't read the others in the series, but that was actually fine, as most of the novel focuses on Reynaud and the way he feels after living for seven years in captivity among American Indians in the Colonies. The other characters come in near the end, when they are tracking down the true identity of the traitor. In truth, I wasn't all that taken with Reynaud, even considering what happened to him, he treats people like an ass a lot of the time, and his jerkish behavior made it hard for me to like him. Yes, he has an excuse, but his behavior towards Beatrice made me want to kick him hard in the ass- because he deserved it. And because of that, I wasn't as invested in the ending. Neither recommended nor not. I found the hero's behavior towards the heroine not really excusable, even with everything that had happened to him.

Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell- Judy Melinek is the daughter of a man who committed suicide, a doctor, and who was left emotionally adrift by him killing himself when she was just a teenager. She wanted to become a doctor like him, a surgeon, but the hours were killing her. Back when she was originally graduating from Medical School, she'd been offered a job in the Medical Examiner's office. When she flamed out of being a surgeon, she went back, asking if they could recommend a job for her, and to her surprise, they were holding a spot open for her. Here was her real introduction to the job- to the plain English she'd have to use instead of medical jargon, and the bodies she would be working with- their circumstances of death, and the rulings she would have to make- Accident, Homicide, Natural, Therapeutic? Each one of those means different things. If a robber fires his gun by accident while in the commission of a robbery, the death could be accidental, but the death would also be death by gunshot- even though the robber shot the victim, it was not a planned killing. Whereas a doctor trying to remove an old bullet during an operation may cause a therapeutic death by bullet- he was trying to improve the patient's life by the operation, but the therapeutic operation ended up killing him... and so on. Part of Dr. Melinek's training took place in New York City before and during 9/11 and she speaks about what it was like to work in the ME's office during that time, and the personal and professional toll it took on her. This was an amazing book that only took me a couple hours to read, in between doing other things. A fascinating look into Judy Melinek's life and the life of the people she touched, and who touched her as well during her time in New York. Really excellent and Highly recommended.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie by Rita Mae Brown- "Sister" Jane Arnold is the Hunt Master of Foxhounds for the Jefferson Hunt in Central Virginia. When the dead body of a man is found in the grave of an old horse in Kentucky, along with the skeleton of a dog, Sister must discover who he is and why he was buried with the horse and the dog. Surprisingly, he turns out to be the grandfather of her love, Gray Lorillard, who was thought dead in a whorehouse years ago. Now, his wife, Gray's mother, wants to know the truth about how he died, and who killed him. And it's up to Gray and "Sister" to find out for her. But he's not the only dead body. When a Vet known and beloved by the community is killed in her office, Sister is sure that the murder is connected to the body of the dead man, the horse and the mystery. But how many more people will have to die before the truth comes out, and what is the truth behind the murder that everyone seems to be working so hard to keep silent. The Hounds can hunt game, but will they be successful on the hunt for this murderer? I found this an interesting change from Harry and the goings on in Crozet. Sister is much older than Harry, and far more into the Hunt scene- the main characters here are Hunting dogs and foxes rather than cats and pets. Even though the body is discovered in Kentucky- it has repercussions in Sister's world and among the people she knows. It's not quite as well developed as Crozet, West Virginia, but it will, given time. Recommended- just be prepared for an entirely new cast of characters.

Santorini: The Prehistoric City of Akroteri by Christos G. Doumas, Ephor of Antiquities- The tiny island of Santorini and the ancient village of Akroteri are all that remains of an island destroyed by a volcanic eruption and explosion- the story of which became known as Atlantis. But Santorini is still inhabited, and the beauty of the white-washed houses mingles with leftover tufa and blocks from the old eruption. This book explores the island, from the remains of the palace to the beautiful stone stairs that run from the harbor all the way to the cliffs. The book is filled with pictures of the island itself, and of the Palace at Akroteri, showing Minoan-esque art, pottery and wall frescos, many of which have been greatly restored. None are on the island, owing to the fact that the Volcano is still active (albeit underwater in the center of Thera). I really enjoyed the book- there are more pictures than text, but the views of the island are superb, and the text is full or information about the island, if a little stilted in English. Recommended.

Urban Legends: 666 Absolutely True Stories that Happened to a Friend... of a Friend... of a Friend by Thomas Craughwell- This book collects Urban Legends- stories that are supposedly true, but generally aren't. Most of them are used to "warn about people who stray off the straight and narrow of Christian behavior, while others entertain through Schadenfreude or just a "Can't look away" sort of feeling. Others purport to tell us the true story behind people we think we know. These stories are entertaining, but all of them are false. In reading them, though, we learn more about outrselves- and what kind of people we are. I enjoyed this book, and laughed at the stories. Yes, you can find other books in the store about Urban Legends "Spiders in the Hairdo" and the like, but this book collects a huge number in one place, sorted by type, the ne plus ultra of Urban Legends. recommended.

The Future Falls by Tanya Huff- Charlotte "Charlie" Gale is a member of the magical Gale family and is a "wild" Power- she has the ability to travel through "The Wood", an otherworldly nexus that can lead anywhere, any time. And her sense of music is what allows her to travel where she needs to be. But Charlie has learned that the Earth is about to be obliterated by an asteroid that cannot even be seen from Earth, and she is trying to stop it by whatever means are necessary, calling on her family, the Fae and anyone else she can think might have a vested interest in saving the Earth. Her second problem is Jack, another Gale member who is also a Dragon Prince. Jack is seventeen, and he has fallen desperately in love with Charlie, but because she is 30, marrying him, or having any kind of a relationship is verboten, as Gales can only marry those in the family within seven years of their age. Even as Charlie works to save the earth, she must fight her attraction for Jack. They are best suited for each other, but unable to be together. And Jack is convinced that the best way to deal with the problem is for him to go to the Fae courts and give up four years of his life learning to be a sorcerer so that he can destroy the Asteroid before it can crash into the Earth. But with Charlie working on the problem- and a new Dragon no one knows in town, can they save the earth and find some way around their own problems at the same time? Or is the Earth on an inevitable course for destruction?  Despite this book being about a relatively serious problem, it also had a strong hint of "teenage romance" because of Jack. But while Jack sort of doesn't confront his problems in anything but a head-on manner, it was easier to read than any anime romance, with added meddling (with good intent) from the Aunties, and plenty of pie, this book was another triumph for Tanya Huff. who I have enjoyed reading. Recommended, but if this is your first Gale novel, you're not going to want to start here.

Burning Dawn by Gena Showalter- Elin Vale is a human, kidnapped from her home and taken to some alternate plane to be imprisoned in a camp where she is tormented and tortured daily. But nothing compares to the torture of Thane, a Sent One who is the very image of an Angel- when he isn't being used as a sex slave by Malta, Princess of the Phoenix. Malta has Thane so enslaved through her pheromones and a drug which heightens their effect that all he can remember or want is being Malta's sex slave, open to her in every cruel and dominating thing she does to him. But Elin has access to the cure for the drug, and if Thane will take her with him when he escapes, she will give him the cure- and hopefully return to Earth at the same time. But Thane's experiences with Malta have left him craving pain with his pleasure, and while he finds himself powerfully attracted to Elin, he doesn't want to abuse her for his own pleasure. As for Elin, she is attracted to Thane, but all she wants to do is go home to Earth and live her own life. But when she falls in love with the man who saved her, nothing is going according to plan. As Thane must track down a demon Prince on Earth, can he keep Elin safe, and will he survive learning her deepest secret? I wasn't quite sure what to think about this book. It's not the first in the series, and yet, I didn't fee; it had all the information and backstory I needed to not have read the other books. In other words, for me, this book was not the best entry point to the series.  Everything else was fine, but I felt too far behind in terms of what was going on in the story to really follow it. Recommended, but not especially highly.

Son of No One by Sherrilyn Kenyon- Josette Laqndry has grown used to being the only person in her family who doesn't believe in magic or the supernatural. But when reality bites her hard on the butt, she agrees to bethe videographer and photographer for some friends of her sister who are investigating a supposedly haunted house. Left alone in a room with a huge, full-length mirror, she finds herself tripped and falling face first through the mirror, and into another place. Cadegan is a warrior who is also half-demon. All his life, he has struggled against evil, but a betrayal from a brother left him stranded in a land which is an antechamber to Hell, and ruled over by demons, fae and Night-haunts. He rescues Josette and keeps her safe, trying to help her return to her own world. But her way is blocked, and Cadegan must serve the Night Haunts to get a key that can return her to the human world. In the meantime, he must gather the ingredients needed for the potion the Night Haunts want to make, though for what end he does not know, and hope he can keep himself alive long enough to get Josette free. But she has also fallen for Cadegan, and now she doesn't want to leave without him. Leaving him imprisoned in Hell's antechamber becomes anathema to her, and nothing, not even her sisters, will move her. But Cadegan doesn't know the whole story of his life, nor why his brother betrayed him so. When he is finally free with Josette, the threat he represents to the world isn't over. But can his and Josette's best efforts be enough to change him... for good? I love Sherrilyn Kenyon's series, and this one broke the mold of "Hero with the worst backstory ever". I mean, it's still not good and he's still pretty tortured, but I didn't feel like Cadegan was competing in the competition to be the worst history in the history of the world type stakes. I liked the chemistry between him and Josette, and how Josette, despite not wanting to believe in magic and/or ghosts, didn't spend time in a futile, "This can't be real, I MUST be hallucinating" type spiral. She accepted magic and weird stuff in a realistically speedy manner, considering what she was going through and experiencing, and I liked that. And the romance made me smile in a good way. Highly recommended,

Flying Too High: A Phryne Fisher Mystery by Kerry Greenwood- Phryne Fisher has but recently moved to Ausralia, and she is in the process of moving from her previous lodgings in a hotel and into a real house. She is also in the process of setting up herself as a detective and solver of mysteries. So when a distraught woman approaches Phryne ay home and asks her to prevent her son from killing his father after they argue, Phryne pops around to the son's airfield to have a word with him, gaining his respect by wing-walking on a plane during a flying lesson. However, the father is later slain and the son, with whom he'd just had another blazing row, gets the blame, and Phrune. who almost certainly knows the son had nothing to do with the death, looks into the death on behalf of the family. Meanwhile, a young girl whose father came into lots of money after winning the lottery is kidnapped by a group who want a sum of fat cash for their trouble. But the girl, who had sneaked out of the house to buy candy with a threepence she'd found in the street, is smart and has her own ideas about how to stay safe. But can she keep the Pedophile who wants her for her body away from her, and stay close to the man who only wants to keep her safe? Ands can she discover who killed the Aviator's father and why before he is charged with the crime and tried? This was a very interesting sort of novel. Phryne is without some of her usual supports, yet is her usual irrepressible self and manages to pull out the right answers despite the lack of some of her favorite people to work with. I enjoyed seeing Phryne work and seeing her triumph over the mysteries that beset her. Recommended, most definitely.

Dangerous Personalities: An FBI Profiler shows you how to Identify and Protect Yourself from Harmful People by Joe Navarro with Toni Sciarra- Joe Navarro is an ex-FBI Profiler, in the same unit as Robert Ressler, John Douglas and similar FBI Profilers who led the country in profiling serial killers and other dangerous criminals. But now, he turns his attentions to helping ordinary people find and keep themselves safe from the five most dangerous types of people you are likely to meet: The Narcissistic Personality, The Unstable Emotional Personality, The Paranoid Personality, The Predator, and those who are some combination of two three or more of the above. He takes us step by step through each personality, showing how and why they are dangerous and how they can be dangerous to you, your life, reputation and money. Each chapter is leavened with stories from real life, and most of them are absolutely horrifying. After showing the type of people they are, and discussing how each type brings you down in all sorts of ways, there is a checklist, in ordinary English, asking you questions to evaluate whether or not a person is that type. People who show few attributes are less destructive, but can still have  wide-ranging effects on your life, those with more can be extremely toxic and deadly to have in your life. Finally, the chapter on the combined personalities discusses how sometimes the combination can be worse, qualitatively, than a single dangerous personality alone. The last chapter describes how to protect yourself from these people and even to get away from them, if you need to. In many cases, it comes down to listening to your gut, and keeping away from them in the first place. Sometimes, as when the personality is your child or other relative, it can't be done.. In which case, other strategies can be used. I liked this book very much, as it is written for laymen, using the language of laymen (plain English) and discusses these people as regular people would talk about them.. Highly recommended.

Hate Crimes in Cyberspace by Danielle Keats Citron- Most people would agree that the internet is not exactly a welcoming place. As many communities that exist as places for open discussion and support, there are an equal number or more that enjoy hating, hurting and bringing other people down, verbally or in other ways, out there. But sometimes, worse than just people badmouthing otjers on the internet, hate campaigns will spring up that attempt to do more than slander, hate on, or "punish" people for their views. These attacks often come off the internet and extend into people's real lives with bosses being contacted and filth spread around the people they are targeting, sometimes with effects that aren't known until much, much too late. And these attacks don't even have to be targeted because of malice. Sometimes, it's just a circle of people trying to outdo each other in bile, getting worse and worse with the users not knowing or caring that the person they are attacking it a real person with real feelings. This book focuses around three real-life cases of hateful criminal behavior in cyberspace: towards a law student, an actor, and a tech guru, examining each case and showing how the crimes affected them in real life. Some are still dealing with the fallout and other stories are shown in which the person affected never went to the police, or who went to authorities and got no help. As one Policeman said who was approached by a victim who was being harassed and cyberstalked on Facebook, "What's a Facebook?" Often, small-town police forces are unable and/or unwilling to deal with this sort of crime online because of lack of knowledge and lack of technology, leading the attackers to get away with it. I found this book troubling to read because of recent stories like GamerGate, the attacks on Briana Wu and Anita Sarkeesian, and the knowledge of how much police and law enforcement are still playing catch-up in this technology game. It was frightening and disheartening that in a world where so much appears to be moving forward, we are still experiencing a strong move backwards to old attitudes and old hatreds. I can only hope our knowledge and enforcement can close the gap so that those responsible for these attacks can be caught more successfully and stopped. Frightening and highly recommended.

Crimson Angel by Barbara Hambly- Benjamin January has returned to New Orleans, his wife, Rose and his son, John. He doesn't want to leave his wife and newborn son again, but  Rose's  white half-brother Jefferson Vitrack tracks her and Ben down with stories of treasure remaining on the Cuban estate of their ancestor and as proof brings a gold and ruby angel figurine which is spoken of in family legends. But he can't persuade Ben to go in search of it, because Ben and Rose already have all the money they will need for some while from Ben's last adventure. But when Jefferson Vitrack is murdered, it seems that he isn't the only one who is out after the treasure and Ben and Rose must leave little John behind with Ben's sister Olympe and her husband and go in search of the fabled treasure to keep it from the hands of a ruthless man willing to kill on behalf of it. Accompanied by Ben's friend Hannibal Sefton, now weaned from Opium and clean of vices, they must track down the truth of the treasure and what really happened on the Le Rouge Ange plantation before the revolution, and what happened to those who survived after it. Whispers of an evil French bokor and the toll he took on the slaves of the plantation may have more to do with why the locals see the place as haunted, and Ben's memories and a journal may be all that stands between a ruthless man and a secret he is trying to quash. But can they survive the hunters and the slave catchers and the others who are sniffing around for any trace of treasure? I really enjoyed this book. It was a look at the major island communities in the Carribbean during the slave times and after the slaves had managed to free themselves. It's an even more treacherous environment than the one Ben is used to inhabiting, and as they say, shit gets real very quick. I loved how the mystery became less about missing treasure than truth, but there was some of each in the story. I loved the ending as well, and the truth being an explosive thing. Recommended.

The Perfect Kill: 21 Laws for Assassins by Robert B. Baer-Bob Baer worked for the CIA and at one point, he was tasked with assassinating an assassin working to drive the Americans out of the Middle East, Hajj Radwan, which means "The Delightful One". But the many schemes cooked up to try and eliminate Radwan failed, because Radwan knew what the CIA didn't- how to use assassination as a weapon of terror, and how to boil down the act to one target, one bullet and the kill. And that's it. American had forgotten, or never learned these lessons when it came to dealing with the Middle East and the people who opposed them there. They used killings as a means of boasting, or warnings, and failed to kill of Radwan, who knew about being the perfect killer, the coldest assassin, better than the Americans did. And here, Baer lays out the essential laws of Assassins and assassination, and tells the story of Radwan and Baer's hunt for him. I should have loved this book- I always enjoy true stories and tales about bringing people to justice, but this book was almost... boring to me. I found it hard to get through and the baggage of Baer weighs down the story instead of being fascinating. Instead of a tense hunt for a ruthless assassin, it becomes a tedious story told by a boring uncle. The facts and "laws" that he passes on may be sound, but I felt the rest of the story, of Baer;s hunt for Radwab, actually dragged the book down. Not recommended unless you need to fall asleep.

Collision: Book Four of the Secret World Chronicles by Mercedes Lackey, Cody Martin, Dennis Lee and Veronica Giguere- John Murdock has been brought back to life by Seraphym, but he no longer remembers her- or the last ten years of his life. Seraphym is thrown into a tailspin by his lack of memory, and since she has given up her status as a celestial to save him, it's doubly disheartening that he doesn't remember their love, and worse that he seems to be hearing the chorus of the divine that she gave up to save him. But when a secret Thulian base is discovered in the valleys between India and Nepal, it's up to all the world's super and metahumans to gather together and destroy it. But can the humans , infiltrated by Thulian agents, keep their plans secret enough to take the Thulians by surprise, and can the metahumans in their separate factions, work together well enough to destroy the Thulians? And can the humans, and their new "Secret" meta Steel Maiden, persuade the alien Metisians be peruaded to weigh in on the human side against the Thulians? And will their coming together of races save them, or damn them all? This was an interesting book. Part of the book is taken up with the mystery of what has Seraphym's sacrifice made of John Murdock and what new powers has it given him, and even more to the point what has it taken away. The book builds to the attack on the Thulian base, and the aftermath, and lest we forget, some Thulians escaped, meaning this isn't the endgame, but I loved how it all came together- the deepening of the relationship between John and Seraphym, and how he was the keystone needed to overcome the Thulians at the end. I am looking forward to reading more in this shared world, and seeing what happens. Highly recommended.

The Traitor- Sebastian St. Clair is half French and half English. He fought in the Napoleonic wars, but on the side of Napoleon. And worse, as a torturer, used to get information out of captured British officers. Now that the war is over, he is back with his English relatives, specifically his aunt Freddy, who has engaged a new companion, Millicent Danforth, a young lady who takes up the life of a companion to escape her own relations. But while Sebastian deals with ex-English officers trying to kill him for his actions during the war, he is the Baron and needs a wife and an heir, and his gaze lights upon Millicent, who is still smarting after leaving the two aunts who loved her because they were about to die and could no longer shelter her from the rest of her family, who wanted to turn Millicent into an unpaid servant to her brother's family. To save Millie and because he has fallen in love with her, Sebastian marries his Millie, all the while about to meet another man, a Scotsman, who is willing to beat Sebastian to death with his bare hands. But can they find who is sending these officers after Sebastian and reveal his real role in the war effort? Or will hidden foes be the death of Sebastian yet? I liked this book, which I read after I'd read the sequel, "The Laird", about Sebastian's servant, Michael Brodie. Even so , I enjoyed the book, even though I knew that Michael was hiding a very big secret of his own from Sebastian all through the book. I liked the romance between Sebastian and Millie and I loved the reveal of her secret, and how Sebastian helped her begin to overcome it. This book is extremely enjoyable, even if you read it out of order. Recommended.

The Laird by Grace Burrowes- Michael Brodie left homeland and new Bride to follow the drum to the war against Napoleon. Left behind in Scotland was his new Bride, Brenna, and his father and Uncle, Angus. But when Michael returns after so long away and long after the war had ended, he finds his bride quietly furious at him, and to a land much changed. Tenants have died and some have left Scotland for America. Michael slowly begins romancing Brenna, but it's been so long for him that he barely remembers how to do so. And when his little sister, Maeve, arrives from Ireland to be with him because her other sister is finally pregnant, he must deal with Brenna's strange behavior towards the girl in keeping him away from Angus- whom Brenna already dislikes intensely. But his Brenna is hiding far more secrets than that, and Michael must deal with them, and the change in his and Brenna's relationship as well as the arrival of his sister. Can he untangle the knot his clan holding has begun and cut out the rot that has taken root at its core, or will the damage of a hidden foe cause too many problems to resolve, sundering Michael and Brenna apart? I loved this book, which is part of the "Captive Hearts" series, I thought originally that it had something to do with a book of a different series by a different author, but this series is really excellent and engaging. I loved how Michael and Brenna interacted, and when the villain was revealed for the horrible person they were, I could really believe it all. I loved the ending, and I want to see more in this series. Definitely recommended.

A Scandal to Remember by Elizabeth Essex- Jane Burke is a conchologist who wants to join a Royal Society expedition to the South Seas. She is invited along on the strength of her initials, and the belief that she is her father. Lieutenant Charles Dance is an officer newly come to the Tenacious, and what he finds sickens and disgusts him. The ship is in no way ready to sail- it's practically rotting in port, and Dance needs to use the prize money he has acquired just to refit the ship well enough to keep her afloat. He finds Jane Burke an unwelcome distraction, but her ability to hold up under pressure reluctantly draws his admiration, even as things go from bad to worse on the ship. The purser absconds with the money, including the funds that were supposed to go towards buying food for the expedition members, ad the Bosun is actively cruel. Meanwhile, the sailors think that Jane's presence endangers the ship simply because she is female. So when the Captain commits suicide and the ship founders attempting to cross Cape Horn in the midst of a horrendous storm, someone locks her below decks while the ship is sinking. Dance goes back to find her, rescues her, and they sail away from the wreck on her pinnace, which she was taking along with the expedition. The other sailors decamp in the ship's boats and Jane and Dance end up on a small atoll in the middle of the ocean, where they recover and become lovers, as Jane starts her own personal expedition there. But rescue brings not salvation, but danger, for the rescuers are led by the Bosun, who blames Dance for the ship's sinking. Can Jane and Dance prove that he was not responsible before an Admiralty Court? I liked this book because Jane is a scientist and she acts like it when she is aboard ship. She is capable of caring for others like a woman. Some of the situations on board she helps with, but in other cases, she causes more problems for Dance. I liked that he esteemed her for her mind and thinking ability, as well as the fit of her garments. And when they finally became lovers- well, most of the book was chaste, the part after they land on the Atoll was where the romance really became physical. But the seeds were laid long before that. An excellent book and one I really enjoyed. Recommended.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

2014, Part 10

Fireborn by Keri Arthur- Emberly Pearson is a Phoenix, a supernatural creature of fire who is reborn over and over with the help of her fellow phoenix/soulmate, Rory- who she can mate and produce children with, but not really love. Emberly was in love with a cop named Sam, but he discovered her relationship with Rory, but not the details and assumed she was cheating on him and just left her. She is still bitter about it, and hasn't gotten over him leaving her like that, but at the same time, when she has a vision of Sam being killed, she does her best to intervene and prevent his death. When she meets him again, though, he's changed. and not in a good way- he's darker and colder and now working for the "Paranormal Investigation Team" or PIT. He's investigating a bunch called the "Red Cloaks, who were made from humans trying to become immortal using vampire blood. Sam's own brother was killed by a Red Cloak, and he's holding a grudge. But when the scientist who Emberly has been working for is killed and his death has ties to the Red Cloaks, Emberly can't resist getting involved- and in trouble with her former lover. There is also Jackson. fire Fae she meets and forms an intimate connection with, who happens to be a P.I. coming at the case from a different direction. But when things start to go south, she keeps running into Sam, and seeing hints of the man she once loved inside his new, harder, colder persona. But can she solve the murder of the Scientist she was helping, or will Sam shut her and Jackson down? And might this case kill Emberly and make her unable to rise again into a new life? Can she resist falling for the man she once loved all over again, or will heartbreak be the only thing he can give her now? I liked this book, which reminded me of the Riley Jensen books, but I really didn't like Sam, who it seems to me will be one of the men in Emberly's life. But the rest of it was wonderful, and I like Emberly's relationship with Jackson, and I like the whole "Sex-positive" message of the books, which allow Keri Arthur's characters to sleep around without making them seem bad or wrong for doing so. Recommended.

Carousel Tides by Sharon Lee- When Kate returns home to Archer's Beach, Maine, it's to look after the old Carousel run by her family. But her grandmother is missing, presumed dead, and Kate, once guardian of the land, is slowly dying after haing severed her connection to the land when she was only a teenager. Now, she feels the need of the land to have her back, and strange events are stirring in Archer Beach- and an old enemy of Kate's has returned and wants her, and the power she has. For Kate is really a Faerie Princess, and her mother gave herself over into the keeping of Kate's Enemy to keep her daughter free. But Kate has spent so long running from her problems- how can she deal with things she has spent most of her life avoiding, and her old enemy is stronger than ever. If she couldn't do anything about him then, how can she now? But while Kate has enemies, she also has friends and allies, and the creatures imprisoned in the Carousel might be on her side in this battle. And this stime, she's not just fighting to protect herself- but everyone and everything else in town, who will all suffer if she fails to deal with the dark Fae coming after ber. Luckily, she has far more and stronger allies than she knows.... I saw this book, and was intrigued by the cover, so I picked it up and read it. It reminded me a bit of the SERRAted edge tales- the cover art. And to be honest, I wasn't disappointed at all. The story started slowly, with hints of the problems to come. Kate is ignoring what she is and who she is, and she's dying because of some bad decisions she made- all of which she will have to unmake to save the town and the people she loves- and has come to love. I loved the different characters, even though it's hard to know who to trust until nearly the end of the book. And I loved the reveal of who the characters were and what's at stake. All in all, a book which is well worth reading. Recommended.

Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed How We Eat by Gail Jarrow- When people in the Southern US, mostly poor and low wage workers, started dying of a mysterious disease known as "Pellagra, nobody could agree on how they caught it or what caused it. What they did know was that the disease generally started with intestinal upsets and diarrhea. Eventually, the sufferers would develop horrible rashes on their skin, especially in places that were exposed to the sun. This would  occur for years, after which the Pellagrin (an Italian name for someone suffering from Pellagra) would slide into insanity, which then, inevitably led to death. When Pellagra broke out in the South, it didn't take long before it became an epidemic, especially in areas heavily involved in cotton production. But the actual cause of Pellagra was murky. Some maintained that the disease was caused by moldy corn- but even those who ate Fresh Corn were afflicted. Others determined that the disease was caused by some infection- yet nurses in hospitals and asylums, who were living with and often next to Pellagra sufferers, were not becoming infected. And some people were saved by going into the hospital- many were not. Many physicians tried to determine the reasons that people were getting the disease, but it was a Jewish Doctor, Joseph Goldberger, to solve the reason for the disease and discover a cure. But once he found it, would other doctors and the people of the south accept his conclusions? This was a fascinating book- I'd heard about Pellagra, but didn't know much about it or how pervasive it had been. Nor all that much on how it was cured and why it is so little known today. Pellagra was a nutritional disease, like beriberi and scurvy, but discovering the cause was not easy. This is a book for teens, and it's written like a medical mystery, but the pictures of the sufferers are pretty horrific, and the small biographical snippets about sufferers of the disease are scattered throughout the book. This book made me think a lot, and while the stories of the sufferers are horrendous, the outcome is interesting, and even after Joseph Goldberger died, work had to continue to ensure the cure was something that could be given to everyone. An amazingly interesting book that really kept my interest. Recommended.

Lord of the Changing Winds: The Griffin Mage, Book One by Rachel Neumeier- Kes is the dreamy daughter of a farmer in the country of Feierabiand. She loves horses, but spends most of her time wandering the hills outside her village. But when the village discovers Griffins have come to her village of Minas Ford, her life turns upside down. Kes, who might be a mage, is asked by the griffin Mage, Kairaithin, to help heal his people. but he does not tell her than doing so will change Kes from a woman of earth into a woman of fire- one not sustained by food, but by heat and light. But the arrival of the Griffins is also changing the land around Minas Ford, from fertile farmland to desert sand, and the King of Feierabiand tries to drive the Griffins out of his land, only to find himself and his forces outmatched- and his mages, earth mages all, are bitterly opposed to the Griffins and Kes, the new fire mage. But can the Lord Bertaud, also a noble of Feierabiand, discover a way to make peace with the Griffins, and keep them from invading Feierabiand and have them help the Feierabiandans from being invaded by their sister nation of Casmantium? And what will become of the Griffins and Kes? I liked this book, the first in a trilogy. I have liked Griffins ever since Mercedes Lackey's Skandranon series, and while these Griffins are infinitely more alien, I liked these Griffins as well. I found myself unexpectedly fascinated by the story, and really enjoyed every bit of it. I would highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys reading fantasy. Highly Recommended.

Land of the Burning Sands: The Griffin Mage: Book Two by Rachel Neumeier- Gereint Enseichen of Casmantium is a slave, but he is a slave who would be free. So when the Griffins change northern Casmantium into a wasteland of burning sand, he hides from his master and hopes to escape his own imprisonment and servitude  by making his way over the mountains. But a chance encounter with a scholar whom he saves in the desert gives Gereint the hope which he could be free. He is sent to the Scholar's Daughter, a maker who is trying to understand the nature of rocks so that she can help design a bridge to the neighboring country of Feierabiand. But when Gereint is discovered to be a slave, he is imprisoned and forced to serve the country's only remaining mage, Beguchren, who imposes some very strange conditions on Gereint as they travel northward to deal with the Griffins. But following after them comes Tehre, the scholar's daughter, and Lord Bertaud of Feierabiand. Can they save Casmantium from the Griffins who want revenge on Begruchten and his people, who attacked them in the first place, and can Gereint become the mage that Begruchten wishes him to be? And can they reach a peacable accord with the Griffins? This was a different book, but while characters from the first book turned up her again, including Kes and Kairiathin, the story mostly focuses on Gereint and Tehre as the main characters. The Griffins seek revenge on Casmantium for attacking them in the first place, and will not be denied- and Casmantium needs mages, specifically Earth mages, to stave them off. But it's not quite so easy to make an Earth mage, even from a talented maker, as it seems. Only Tehre might have accomplished the feat of turning herself into a mage- and she was both uncommonly intelligent and gifted. I liked this book, despite it being about the "opposite side" from the first book, and really identified with Gereint. I wanted to see him freed and happy, and while I sort of cordially despised Beguchren for 99% of the book that he was in, I was happy to see how he ends up. Recommended, and I can't wait to read book #3.

These Lawless Worlds Book #2: Scales of Justice by Jarrod Comstock- This book was one I remembered reading back when I was younger, one of those peculiar to the late 70's and early 80's, with as much sex as story, and where the sex was part of the story. Aleria Farrell is a judge whose beat includes the outer worlds of the galactic scene. So when a garbled message about the extinction of an entire species is received, it is she, and her alien, silver-skinned bailiff named Jemall, who are assigned to the case. But getting there means a trip of weeks through space, sharing space with an orono, or intelligent dolphin named Rosmer. The message was received telepathically, and Aleria is a sensitive, so Rosmer must work with her to develop her telepathic powers on the trip to the planet, known as Kahiko. When they arrive, they are greeted by the natives, and the leader of the planet, Prince Neihinei, guides them around, keeping them safe from the dangers and showing them the many beautiful places. Aleria finds herself being seduced by the planet, and then by Nehini and the other natives. She even partakes of their chief diversion, Sumati. And in doing so, she discovers what is truly happening on Kahiko- and it is up to her and her friends to put a stop to the genocide, and ensure that Kahiko is able to become part of the Confederation. But will it be so easy to change the entire economy and way of life for the whole planet? And can she make the Kahikans understand the concept of a taboo? I was actually surprised by this book- today, it reads more like a urban fantasy or romance novel than a strictly Sci-Fi novel, but the sex wasn't as out of place as I had feared it might be, and the story held up surprisingly well. I enjoyed the book all over again. There *is* so much sex in the story that you will occasionally forget what the main characters are there for- but the conclusion to the book, where Aleria must pass judgment on the planet of Kahiko, is very well done, and I never got the impression that she is anything but a judge, but she is also a woman. Reommended, if you can find a copy.

I Could Pee on This and other poems by Cats by Francesco Marciuliano- This is a small book of poems from a cat's point of view, put into four general categories, from Work, Play, Family and Existence, and each poem channels the essence of what it is to be a cat. From "I Lick You" "I lick your nose. I lick your nose again. I drag my claws down your eyelids. Oh, you're up? Feed me." Others are similar, and if you are a cat owner, you are sure to get a chuckle on pretty much every page, and a smile of recognition if you don't. This book is so close to how a real cat acts, it's amazing. Highly recommended,

Blood Games: A Chicagoland Vampires Novel by Chloe Neill- Merit is the Sentinel of Cadogan House and the lover of Master Vampire Ethan Sullivan, When she challenges him to a foot race, it's to help the vampires of the city gain more acceptance. It also gets the winner a dinner of their choice to be enjoyed with the loser. But while Ethan wins (just barely), someone makes a half-assed attempt on his life and tells him to stay out of the running for the vacant seat on the worldwide vampire council. Meanwhile, Merit is summoned to a crime scene by her grandfather- a woman has been killed , two swords shoved through her body, and because vampires use Katanas, this leads to the assumption that a vampire killed her. But Merit and her second are able to reveal that the swords used are just replica Katanas, not the authentically old ones that a real vampire would use, and a vampire would not treat Katanas so shamefully. Meanwhile another "attempt" is made on Ethan, telling him to step down or people will be hurt. But the vampires will be there to judge his strength will be in Chicago soon, and another female vampire, from Georgia, also wants the seat. Is she the one behind the threats to Ethan and Merit? Meanwhile, another woman's body is discovered, this one marked with Pentagrams, leading to the suspicion that a magician might have done it, so Merit calls on the assistance of her friend Mallory, a witch. She reveals that the pentagrams are actually Pentacles- like those in the Tarot Cards, and that the dead bodies are from a specific tarot made by a man who died, whose wife sold the copies of the cards he'd made. But who is using the cards as a template for murder, and why? And can Ethan successfully navigate the challenges ahead, and can Merit as well, while tracking down a vicious murderer? With Ethan's former lover trying to cause tension between them, and whoever is trying to persuade him not to run for the council seat, Merit has more to worry about and more to keep her eye on than usual. But what happens if Ethan loses? Or if his inability to confess misdeeds from his past sunders himself and Merit apart? Can Cadogan House survive the turmoil that is coming, and the murderous rampage of a human determined to kill? I'd never read any part of this series before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Nor is it anywhere near the first book in the series, but I found it easy to get into and the story was enjoyable. Very much so. There were scenes that made me laugh aloud (like the one where they go to a convention and people think Merit is cosplaying as herself.), so I really enjoyed this book, and I want to read more. Highly recommended, and I am going to look up others in this series now.

Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier- This is the third book in the Ruby Red Trilogy. Gwen is supposed to fulfill a wonderful destiny to bring healing and good health to the human race, but nobody seems to want to tell her how. The leader of the secret society that sends her back in time, the Count, aka Ragocy de Saint-Germain, has taken a high interest in Gwen, but she finds him creepy and doesn't trust him. Her cousin, Lucy, and Lucy's husband, Paul have left the Circle of Twelve over not trusting the count, but Gwen seems to be the only person who believes them that the Count is up to no good, and Gideon, Gwen's partner in their time excursions, has recently told her that he doesn't love her after all, sending Gwen into a tailspin of hurt and pain. With so much to do and find out, can she discover what the Count is really up to, find who he is working with the in the future, complete the circle and discover the cure for death and disease, all before the Count can have her killed so that he can become immortal himself? And can she survive the death that is coming for her? Because for anyone to win, she or someone else must die- and it's sure that the Count isn't going to let it be himself- all he wants is immortality. But can Gwen deny him what he wants? This was an interesting book. So much gets revealed in this book- who Gwen really is, who the Count really is and what he wants, and who is really on her side and how to get what she wants. But it's up to her, not any of her allies or her friends, to defeat the Count, after finding out who he is in her time. And while one of the revelations is what allows her to defeat him, he sort of goes with a whimper, not a bang. At the end, Gwen's entire conception of who she is completely changes, and yet, she's still traveling in time to meet her allies. I wonder how the circle has changed, and what they use the time traveling devices for now. I was not really all that impressed with the third book, which I felt descended into way too much confused story threads that could be slightly hard to follow, but it was still an interesting book, and I'd still recommend it. Recommended, but not as highly as the first two books in the series.

Women in Game of Thrones: Power, Conformity and Resistance by Valerie Estelle Frankel- examines the female characters in the Game of Thrones series, both in the books, and in the television series, which differs from the books in ways both large and small. For instance, in the books, Daenerys is much more a chooser of her fate. When she goes to marry Khal Drogo, she accepts his advances almost eagerly, where in the show, they play the scene more as a rape, because the character is supposed to be so young (the actress playing Daenerys, is not as young as she is supposed to be in the books, of course. But these changes change the characters in ways that make them much more problematic than those in the books. In a way, this cheapens some of the characters, but there are also characters that have grown and deepened compared to the books because they subsumed other characters into themselves, or proved popular/interesting and were kept on by the producers because of public interest. These changes and the story roles the female characters play in the series are spelled out, and their problematic aspects noted. While this book is told mostly from a feminist perspective, it does point out the places where the TV series "Falls down on the job", when it comes to making characters as interesting as the books- and where the books also have problematic portrayals of women. In short, the books have more well-nuanced, well-rounded female characters, but there are shockingly few in both areas who could serve as real feminist role models. Even the "best" female character for this portrayal, Daenerys, is portrayed in the TV series as the white savior of darker peoples, a problematic portrayal because they are also portrayed as worshipping her. However, she seems to be going back to her origins, where she will connect with the wisewoman in their city and emerge with more wisdom. It remains to be seen if this will be borne out in the series, of if they will play with the story some more. I don't follow either the TV series or the books that closely, but I enjoyed this book immensely, as it goes into tropes and stereotypes and which ones are in use for the different characters in both series. Given a choice, if I ever do start reading through the entire series, I think I will pick that of the books, because I feel, given the information here, that the series runs into the "Flanderization" of the book characters, that both their positive, negative and problematic aspects are increased to make for better TV Drama. Highly recommended.

Death Blows: The BloodHound Files by D.D. Barant- Jace Valchek was once an FBI profiler... in our world., But she was kidnapped out of our world and taken to another one, where humans are rare and sorcerors, vampires (called 'pires), Lycanthropes (called 'thropes) and Golems (known colloquially as 'Lems) all exist in place of humans in our world. Jace was kidnapped because her skills as a profiler are badly needed, and while she has been promised that she will eventually be allowed to return home, Jace has been trying to track down the name of the Shaman who kidnapped her from her own world and into this new one, as she isn't exactly happy about the entire thing.. But now she is faced with a new case. In Addition to her search for Aristotle Stoker, a human from our world who is preying on the Supernaturals of her new world, someone is killing off members of an all-Supernatural team of Superheroes. Their exploits were chronicled in comic form, but Comics in her new world have been outlawed because their nature is to change opinion, and some have spells woven into them that would allow sorcerors to power spells that could effect the entire world.. But when someone goes after the heroes of yesteryear, is it because of a case they too part in, or is it to power just such a spell? Meanwhile, the Vampire in charge of the office is pregnant- only the baby's father has been killed, putting her life at risk. The 'thrope the office uses as a physician is disappearing for no explainable reason, leaving Jace in charge of his dog- another 'thrope that seems barely intelligent.  And someone is crossing the bonds of reality again, and Jace still has no idea who the man who brought her across is- or wether the strange people of her new world will ever let her go... This was another urban Fantasy I picked up at random, but which I found to be interesting and worth keeping. I liked the conceit of the world, with the humans as being a vanishingly small subset of the people on the world. Here, we get to see more about how Vampires can be born, how 'Lems are made and animated, and what can go wrong with that, and why Jace's skills are needed. Despite humans being a minority, most killings are straightforward depending on what Supernatural did the deed. Humans killing would be a tremendous outlier, and so they need s human expert on humans killing to understand Stoker and why he would kill- Humans in this world just don't do that. That's what made it all so interesting. Definitely recommended.

The Dee by Lynsay Sands- Lady Emmaline Eberhart wants a child to be the heir to her husband. But except for her wedding night the man has not shared her bed nor done the deed with her. So she petitions the King to get him to order her husband to lay with her. The King asks her  what exactly happened on her wedding night, and seems very unhappy about what he hears. However, as her husband is returning to her, he dies in an accident, and the King assigns her a new man to take to husband right away, Amaury deAneford. Amaury has never seen Emmaline, but assumes she is either very old. or very ugly- why else would a man resist bedding a rich heiress? But when he meets her, he finds himself wanting her, and bedding her immediately- in a way that far surpasses what her first husband did, and completely changes what she thinks of as "Bedding". Because it seems that her first husband's mother and brother have their own ideas about lady Emmeline and her inheritance, and they want her brother-in-law to take over where his brother left off. Only they are foiled by Amaury having already bedded Emmaline in a way that makes it clear that she was sill a virgin up until that point. But when someone keeps trying to murder Amaury, he doesn't know who to trust, and Emmaline doesn't want to confess it was she who saved him by shooting arrows at his attackers out of the forest. Can the two of them overcome their fears of commitment and trust issues to have a real, loving marriage and prevent the schemes of her ex-mother-in-law and ex-brother-in-law? Or will Emmaline have to don mourning clothes once again? I generally enjoyed this novel, though inretrospect, it seems suspect that someone who lived in medieval times had no idea of what the marriage bed entailed, as they would have seen animals- especially horses, sheep and cattle being mated pretty much everywhere. Okay, the book is 17 years old, but still! It became harder to justify the longer the book went on. At the very least, in medieval parlance, Emmaline's father did her a great disservice. In that, the setup of the story made me wince, so it was less successful for me as a whole. The love story was fine, but the background made me sad. Not recommended.

The Marriage Spell by Mary Jo Putney - Abby Barton has long been fascinated by Jack Langdon, Lord Frayne. So when he is wounded unto death, and she can help heal him with her Wizardly Powers and a circle of healing with other wizards, she does so. But her price for the healing is to marry him- or at least, that is what she tells him and his friends. When she does go to heal him, though, she discovers a great well of magic power within him, and she draws on that to help heal the shattered vertebrae in his neck. But while Jack is grateful, he is also somewhat appalled, as he hates wizardry now- though as a child, he was fascinated with it and even used it himself. But his father had Jack shipped off to Stonebridge academy to curb his interest in both magic and doing magic, and it seems to have worked. He is grateful to Abby for saving his life, but when she offers to let him cry off of the marriage, he won't do it. yes, the upper class hates magic, but Jack has become very attracted to Abby and both this and a sense of duty to his word make it impossible for him to back down. But along with his marriage come a series of other shocks, that he has been ensorcelled to make him hate magic, and that his own sister shares his magical gift, which makes him seeks out the spells in his own mind, and discovers that this is not the only spell cast on him- he has another that makes him avoid his home, and one that makes him almost dangerously reckless with his own life. Ones that he cannot help but conclude were placed on him by his mother's second husband, who inhabits the family home and who has turned Jack's mother into a pale shadow of her former self, focused only on her new husband. But as Jack and Abby try to deal with the horrible pall than hangs over the estate- a clear consequence of his stepfather's magic, Jack will have to deal with the fact that not only is he a mage, but a very strong one- and the consequences that will come out of that, for him and his friends and Abby. I liked this book. I never encountered this version of a world before, but I found it interesting and wonderful to read. The world-building is accomplished wonderfully and seamlessly from the first page of the book, and it hardly took any time at all before I was invested in both the book and the story. And I loved both characters. Jack is a bit of a prat, but as we find out, he has sort of been magicked to be that way, and he does love Abby very much, which excuses him very nicely. I am pretty certain I am going to end up keeping this book, which I loved. Highly recommended.

The Gilded Web by Mary Balogh- When Alexandra Purnell escapes a hot ballroom for a breath of fresh air outside, she hardly expects to be kidnapped. But when two men mistake her for the younger sister of a friend of theirs, one who is rumored to be going to Scotland for a quick marriage against her family's wishes, Alexandra finds herself becoming the object of blame, by both her father and her now-former fiancé and his family But the man whose house she was kidnapped to is the only one to stand up for her and offer her marriage to overcome what many will see as a failing on her part and a scandal. At first she believes that her father and fiancé will support her. But when they blame her as well, and people who she formerly thought of as friends cut her, she finds herself accepting the offer of Edmund, Earl of Amberly, to be his wife and now fiancée. But along with his offer comes the realization that she is very much attracted to Edmund, and that the two of them inspire heat in each other as well as warmth. Free to be a woman for the first time in her life, and awakening to her own sensuality. Alexandra must find it within herself to accept the changes in her life and take the freedom and love it will afford her. The question is, can she, with all the strictures she has lived with all her life? This didn't seem much like a Mary Balogh novel to me, , but to be fair, it's also one of her first novels and I suspect her style was still gelling at the time she wrote it. But it was still enjoyable in its own way- I just found I prefer the style that Mary Balogh has now over the style she started with. And the strangest thing is that I can't even put the difference I experienced in words, I can only say it was different and not necessarily in a good way to me. Not recommended, and YMMV.

Crash Go the Chariots by Clifford Wilson- Pretty much everyone who lived during the 70's is familiar with Erich VonDaniken, a Swedish Con Man and Fraud who published the book "Chariots of the Gods", which theorized the completely debunked theory that non-white indigenous cultures (and even some white ones) were completely incapable of constructing the magnificent monuments that litter the ancient world and that these monuments had to be the work of "Gods", human appearing aliens who did all the actual construction work, and who the primitive humans therefore worshipped as Gods. I was interested in this book, because in the beginning, the author presents reason and science based evidence for rejecting VonDaniken's claims. This is the best part of the book. However, when he starts rejecting VonDaniken's claims because they go against what the Bible says, my newfound enthusiasm for reading the book went away. He makes a point of rejecting the "Stories, Legends and Superstitions" referenced by VonDaniken, but has absolutely no problem accepting the very same "stories, legends and Superstitions" when they come straight out of the Bible. In fact, in several cases, he insists the Bible are stories of truth, when in point of fact, there is no evidence beyond the authors belief that this is so. He also goes beyond to accept that several mentions of Gods from other cultures seem to be true- a fact contradicted by Christian belief, and then sort of wishy-washily concludes that evil spirits also exist. This book was a great disappointment to me, and to be honest, I would rather read a reason and science based rebuttal to "Chariots of the Gods" than this sort of weaksauce. Not recommended unless you are a Christian, and even then, some of the things asserted by the author may end up taking you aback.

Born of Fury by Sherrilyn Kenyon- Dancer Hauk is Andarion, a race which loves perfection and savagery in battle. But Hauk, scarred in an accident hen he was young, was always seen as less than perfect. But when his elder brother died escorting him on his Endurance, and Hauk managed to survive, his brother's wife and his own family blamed him for his death and scarred him even further. And when Hauk was required to try and take his brother's wife as his own and protect her, she cruelly rejected him, scarring him even further. Every year he was required to ask her and every year she rejects him and scars him again. But this year, her son by his brother is ready for his own Endurance, and once he makes the climb, it is up to Hauk to ask again- and this time, Dariana has said she will accept him. But on the Endurance, he discovers SumiAntaxas, a League Assassin who was sent, not to kill him, but to get information that Hauk is a member of the Sentella, a group dedicated to fighting the League wherever they may be. But she is driven not by love of her job, but by love of and for her daughter, being held by the league and threatened with death should Sumi not do her job. But as Haukhelps and protects her, Sumi discovers that Hauk is incredibly brave and warm, much the way his other brother, also known as Hauk was, and as Sumi discovers the truth behind the tragedy that shattered her own family, she finds in Hauk a man to fight for and with, and to love more deeply than she ever thought possible. But Hauk is sworn to Dariana, and can be killed if so much as touches another woman- and Sumi wants to touch him very much. With two youngsters to protect and a large number of mercenaries out to kill him, can Sumi and Hauk keep each other safe without succumbing to their desire for one another? And with Hauk pledged to a woman who hates his guts, can he ever find true happiness with the thought of having to submit to Dariana riding over him? Wow, this book was pretty amazing. Yeah, Hauk had a bad childhood, but it hasn't yet been flanderized to the frankly insane levels you see in the Dark Hunter books. I liked Sumi, whose childhood was also pretty awful, and who hated to kill, but did it anyway to keep her daughter safe. I liked how Sumi came to feel about Hauk and discovered his finer qualities, and I liked how Hauk threw over the traces and threw it all away to love Sumi and be with her. The ending of the book made me smile Happily, and it was nice to see the villains get what was coming to them and see everyone safe and happy at last. There are some instances of (alien) cursing in this book that are not translated, like minsid, but it's rather mild, all things considered. Highly recommended.

Night's Honor by Thea Harrison- Tess is on the run and needs somewhere safe to hide. She thinks that maybe hiding in a Nightkind demense is the only place she can go to ground. So when she applies for a job at the Halloween Ball given by the Vampires, Her "application" is short and to the point. She's not pretty and yet she is the smartest person in the room. But she only gets one interview- the Xavier DelToro, who asks what she can do and then makes her prove she is telling the truth. Tess is terrified of Vampires, and Xavier especially, and while he has her in mind for a special operative and puts Tess through some very specialized training, he is also intrigued by her, and Tess finds her fear of him slowly fading- not enough to allow him to drink from her, but when they spend even more time together, as he insists on teaching her to dance the waltz. But when the past she was on the run from finally catches up to her, she has to decide if keeping his trust is more important than saving her own life... or perhaps he can help her with her problems. But can even a four hundred year old vampire go against one of  the Nightkind elders on her behalf and help her win? And will she ever be able to have him drink from her vein so that she can share his power and resistance to aging? This book is set in the same universe as the series involving Dragos, only this one involves Vampires and Djinn, another set of powerful, reclusive Nightkinf. Since we haven't yet met any Djinn, we are completely unknowing what Tess's boss can do to her for straying from his employ. The tale was a really interesting one, and I liked both Tess and Xavier, their histories and how they came to end up being a couple- I also like Tess's fear, which wouldn't be unnatural for a human in this universe, and the romance aspect I felt was very well done- both how Tess came to be interested his Xavier and vice-versa. I really enjoyed the book and would definitely recommend it.

Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy: Prelude by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Wellington Alves, Manny Clark and Jeff David Ramos- This comic collects 8 short stories of the members of the Guardians of the Galaxy before they came to join up. The first tells of Nebula, a childhood companion and adversary of Gamorra as they trained under her father, Thanos. Nebula tries her best, but fails when compared to Gamorra, and has several parts of her body replaced with mechanical parts as a result. Then, we get to see Rocket Raccoon and Groot as they go on a little job for someone when they are running short of money to refuel their spaceship. Afterwards, we get to see Gamorra herself interacting with the Collector, Taneleer Tivan- an actual prequel to the movie. We also get to see a comic from the 70's, when Drax the Destroyer and Iron Man fought together to free Drax from his captor, Thanos, and his minions. Next is a tale of Adam Warlock, fighting against a group of religious fanatics who want to bring him into their faith and make him espouse their cause. Along the way, Gamorra is about to rescue him, but Adam Warlock doesn't need her help. Then, the Hulk finds himself in the world of Rocket Raccoon and helps him against a sinister figure who wants to enslave Rocket's girlfriend, Lylla.  We see the origin of Groot from "Takes to Astonish", and how he once attempted to take over the earth through the plants here, and finally, we get to see the new origin of Starlord as J'son of Spartax crash-lands on earth and meets Meredith Quill, and they share time together as he repairs his ship. But when their son is born, J'son's trail is backtracked, and two aliens kill Meredith, and Peter kills them with the gun his father left behinf, which looks like a mere toy gun to everyone else, since only someone with the blood of J'son can wield it.  But it also becomes the reason that Peter Quill becomes a NASA Astronaut and ends up in space. This book was interesting, as it combines both new and old stories to weave the tale of the Guardians before they met and joined up together. The older stories are interesting, but the Drax there doesn't much look like his movie self. Still the stories were interesting and even if the Starlord story has been reprinted in another graphic novel, it was interesting and fun to read. Recommended.

The Leopard by K. V. Johansen- Ahjvar was a famous assassin known as the Leopard, but he is hiding in a small town on the coast, looked after only by a young male servant known as Ghu. So when Princess Deyandara, comes looking for him at the behest of a Goddess, he isn't inclined to listeb- even when the Goddess promises him the remission of a curse that leaves him alive and deathless- he's lost too many and too much to do anything but live a life sunken in misery. But when he leaves to escort her back to the place where her brother is, to keep her from those who would make of her a queen, the nightmares return, and he is also being sought. Splitting from his companions, Ahjvar must make his own way out of the pickle he is in. Meanwhile, the goddess of the waters takes a new Voice, a young dancer named Zora. And unlike the Goddess's previous Voice, she achieves a closer union with the Goddess of the Waters, speaking not only for the Goddess, but with the Goddess's actual voice. But the Goddess is actually the spirit of a long-ago young mage who accompanied her mad brother, and hoped that death would finally allow her to escape him. But he brought her spirit back, and she merged with the waters to hopefully escape him forever. Mages are now anathema to her, and she uses what is left of the spirits of mages to serve as her guards. She also is served by a group of raiders who are killing mages, and rulers, to ensure that her worship rules the lands- and it is these raiders who another Goddess wants Ahjvar to slay in return for a peaceful death. Meanwhile, another woman from the North comes with her demonborn lover, carrying a sword meant to slay seven devils who escaped from the coldest of the cold hells- but as they come near Marrakand, who can tell what weaving these disparate threads will form? This book was a did not finish for me. I got about 7/8ths of the way through the book, trying to push on and read the ending when I realized I just didn't care about any of the characters enough to finish reading the book. So many characters are introduced so quickly that I just ended up not caring about any of them. The book spends time introducing the various characters and then giving us various snippets about them that I hoped to be able to weave together as the story went on. But it wasn't enough for me and I gave up in disgust before the end. The stuff we see isn't enough to get me to care about the characters as much as I wanted to. It's not just the characters mentioned above, but many others, more minor to the story, who are given this treatment and I felt that the story became a fairly disjointed mess to me. I couldn't finish it, and I really don't recommend it. I was hoping this book was going to be something like "The Nightrunners" books based on the cover, but it wasn't, and I couldn't help but fault it something for that.

All my Patients Kick and Bite: More Favorite Stories from a Vet's Practice by Jeff Wells, D.V.M.- This is the second collection from Vet Jeff Wells and has more stories from his practice in the Western US. From dealing with the tight-fisted father of a little girl whose cat was very sick to encountering new cattle with extremely long horns who would NOT let him deal with an injured calf and a llama who had to have its toenails trimmed and was very much not impressed with his vet, these stories are sure to delight and amuse with stories of sick animals and their sometimes crazy owners I really enjoyed this book, which reads very much like the tales of James Herriott, but with a more American feel. As well, Dr. Wells shows us how often it is that the human element provides help and aid to the healing of animals when he tells a story about a little boy and two beloved ponies, and how the young boy was led into a life in medicine by his experiences with his ponies. This is a heartwarming book that made me smile, laugh, and nearly cry. Highly recommended.

Illusion by Sherrilyn Kenyon- Nick Gautier has been an outcast all his life. His father was a demon called a Malachi, and his mother was the rather saintly young woman who had attracted him. But while other people may have rejected Nick, he has the love of his mother, who raised him as a normal young man, who happens to be charismatic, but snarky, and with a will that cannot be denied. Awakened early to knowledge of who and what he is by his older self, who has become a thoroughgoing demon who is destroying the world, his older self is trying to change the future by changing his own past. But this time, this Nick Gautier, is his last chance. If Nick succumbs to the power of his bloodline or is killed- or his mother is killed: that will be the end, for Nick and the World. And now, Nick falls asleep and wakes up in a different body, a different life, where his father is Bubba Boudreaux and he has been raised a short and more ordinary life. But when Nick tries to figure out how he got there, and how he can back to his real life, home and time, he is blindsided by how, in this new world, his allies are gone and some of his allies are now his enemies. He also finds that his soul or spirit has been riven from his body and placed in the body of this world's Nick Boudreau. Meanwhile, in his own world, his friends and allies have noticed the change and are trying to get their Nick back. But when Demons in both worlds seek to kill Nick while his body and soul are separated, can Nick summon his allies from his own world to defeat the Demons in both worlds? And when it seems Nick can be rescued, can Kory, whose spirit left her body to go to her Nick, be left behind forever? I have really enjoyed the "Chronicles of Nick" series. I like seeing Nick how he was before he was the utter bastard that losing his mother and finding out that he was a Malachi Demon turned him into. But this new world has some rather horrible stings in the tail that aren't present in his own world, and they are fairly horrifying in and of themselves... but you'll have to read the book to find out for yourselves. In any case, I loved the book and I would heartily recommend it, even if it's YA, adult readers will also find a lot in it to recommend it. Highly recommended.

Natsume's Book of Friends, Book 17 by Yuki Midorikawa- Takahashi Natsume has always been able to see Oni and other spirits. But unlike his aunt, who challenged the spirits and collected their names into a book to summon them because she had no real friends, Takahashi has made friends with many spirits by returning their names to them. He now lives with one: Nyanko Sensei, a powerful spirit living in the body of a porcelain cat who everyone sees as a real cat. When Natsume discovers another spirit, Aoi, who is looking for a human girl he once played with, Natsume agrees to go look for her. But the girl is supposedly getting married, and Aoi is pleased she found other humans to be with, as he will live very much longer than she will, and not age in the bargain. But the woman who Aoi once played with has her own agenda- she wants to live with Aoi. But can Aoi give up his duties to live with a human? Next, Nyanko Sensei invites Natsume to a party among the spirits. But when Natsume tries to follow him, he ends up getting drawn into a strange game and bothered by dreams. Can Natsume find a way out of being "It" in a game of hide and seek amongst spirits. The last story is a side story about Natori Shuichi, and how he started down the road to become an exorcist. He only wanted to find out how to remove the little tattoo of a lizard that crawls around his body. But when he is challenged by other exorcists, he is determined to beat them. But will he be happy with the outcome of his quest? Another interesting volume. Given the nature of how humans and spirits usually have unhappy outcomes, I don't think the first story will end happily at all. But the story about the game was cute and short, and it was interesting finding out more about Natori. Definitely recommended.

Poison Fruit: Agent of Hel by Jacqueline Carey- Daisy Johanssen is a half-demon who works for Hel, Queen of the Underworld as her agent in the tiny town of Pemkowet. But now the town is in trouble. It's being sued for an incident that happened on Halloween, and the same lawyer who is suing the town is also buying up large pieces of town for an unknown client, which Daisy doesn't trust. But when Daisy suspects that the enemy lawyer who is also half-demon, is using his magic against the judge in the case, she mobilizes the town's coven against him- but outside of Pemkowet and Hel's Domain, there is little magic can do to affect the judge. But when all their plans to defend the town fail, they learn the true nature of the opposition against them- it's Persephone, Queen of Hades, who wants to take over Pemkowet's underworld, and she is using the court judgment against them to bribe the town council with money to sell the Underworld to her. But Daisy isn't down with that plan- she is a servant of Hel, and even with Persephone offering her an equivalent job, she can't just leave Hel behind. Even as Daisy struggles to have a relationship with Stefan, the ghoul, she must join together with the members of the town to defend Hel's Underworld when it comes under attack by the forces of Persephone. But, if, as the signs are telling her, she must accept her demonic heritage to prevail, how can she do so without breaking the world? And Can she do so without laying waste to everything and everyone she loves? I liked this book a lot, even if it was the end of the series. Everything is wrapped up in a satisfactory fashion, and we get a HEA for Daisy at last. I can't say much more than that without spoiling a good deal of the book, but Daisy makes a lot of changes in the Supernatural world, in a good way, and she changes in outlook and determination. If you have enjoyed the rest of the series, you will definitely want to read this one. Highly recommended.

Lady Windermere's Lover by Miranda Neville- Lady Cynthia Windermere was never asked if she was willing to marry the Earl. She simply went along with the marriage her family contracted. Her husband, Damian, married her for the rights to the property that came with her on marriage, because he had foolishly lost his family home at a hand of cards when dangerously drunk. After the marriage, he entered a career in the Foreign Office. Now, returned to his wife a year later, he finds himself intrigued by this woman who is a complete stranger to him. As for her part, Cynthia is less than thrilled by the return of her erstwhile spouse, and has been taking her irritation with her missing husband out by spending his money on horrendous "antiques" and using the proceeds to help out French Emigres. But as much as Damian wishes to get to know his wife better, he also believes that she is secretly carrying on an affair with Julian, his former best friend, who he believes should have reined him in when the was about to wager his home. But can he overcome this hurdle to find out the truth of Cynthian's affections and claim her for his own. But Cynthia must also confront the man who is her husband over his abandonment of her and the treatment she has suffered at his hands. Can both of them overcome their estrangement and have a happily ever after? I  was so not feeling this book. He Hero acts like an entitled jerk for so much of it, I kept wanting to serve him heaping helpings of "Slap on Toast- Hold the Toast".. It does help that he slowly gets better, but it is a very long, slow process., and after a certain point, my patience with Damian was completely gone. In short, this book was not a good one for me, and I wouldn't really recommend it to anyone, unless you have a lot more patience with the hero being a jerk that I did. Not recommended.

It Takes a Scandal by Caroline Linden- Sebastian Vane was once a happy, charming man, until he came home from war with a shattered leg and the necessity of caring for his father, who was slowly going mad. Add to that a scandal over money stolen from the family of his next door neighbor, a quarrel with the same over his friend's daughter being in love with him and going missing, and his father abruptly disappearing, and most people think that Sebastian Vane is mad at best or a horrible villain at worst. With most of his property sold off by his mad father, he lives in straitened circumstances with a minimum of servants. When Abigail Weston, the eldest daughter of one of the richest men in England, moves in next door and meets Sebastian, she can see nothing wrong with him, and is instead intrigued, digging to find the true story of this fascinating, elusive man. But when she begins to be romanced by Benjamin Lennox, the man who was once Sebastian's friend and who he quarreled with over his sister so long ago, Sebastian knows that Abigail will never choose him over Ben. But he hasn't consulted with the lady, and she has definite ideas where Sebastian is concerned. But can she uncover the truth of the events surrounding the disappearance of his father and the quarrel between him and Ben before Her father and Ben's father have them neatly sewn up together into matrimony? And can she have the man she truly loves? I really liked this book. Sebastian is the perfect tortured hero and he treats Abigail so well, at first trying to avoid her because of the scandal that surrounds his name, but she wins him over quite handily, and he wins her heart when he is willing the show her the whereabouts of a missing grotto constructed for a former King's Mistress. I like how they bond over dogs, and all their interactions together. Recommended.

The Escape by Mary Balogh- Benedict Harper was seriously wounded in the Napoleonic Wars and came close to losing both legs. With his friends, "The Survivor's Club", they bond over having survived what seem to be life-shattering injuried. Even though his legs can barely hold him up, Benedict holds out great hope of being able to walk again some day. But when he visits his sister, he meets a young widow named Samantha McKay, who is being oppressed by her husband's family. She married him because she fell in love with him, and found out, to her sorrow, that he was massively unfaithful to her. Worse, he couldn't be faithful. And shortly after he went to war on the continent, she had to live with his family and the judgmental creatures they were, ready to restrict any aspect of her life simply because they thought it "proper". But when he came back from war injured, Samantha became his tireless nurse- which he resented and acted like a child, always demanding her attention. Now that her husband is gone, she feels nothing but relief, but because her husband's family thinks she should remain in deepest mourning forever, she is still chained by the presence of her sister-in-law. When she meets Benedict, it is not a happy or easy meeting for either of them, but as they begin to spend more time in each other's company, she likes the feeling of being free with him. And when her sister-in-law objects to Samantha spending time other than in mourning her former husband. Samantha rebels- and causes her sister-in-law to withdraw back to Samantha's father-in-law, who insists she come back to the family seat and live in propriety- i.e. under her in-laws thumbs. And he sends a complement of burly men to make her comply. But Samantha's mother inherited a cottage from her aunt, and that cottage has become Samantha's property via inheritance. On the strength of the connection, Samantha journeys to Wales to see the cottage for herself- and Benedict, unable to let her travel alone- goes with her as he "husband", only to find himself growing closer than ever to Samantha. In the freedom of Wales, the two become lovers, but Benedict must decide for himself how much freedom he wants, and whether or not to accept his injuries as limiting himself forever. But can he find healing and a new life with Samantha, or will she reject him for a new life of her own? I really enjoyed this book, which is one of a very few where the hero doesn't magically get better as a result of the heroine tending him (or having sex with him). I liked that the limitations he experienced at the start stayed with him through the book. The only thing that changes in his attitude towards himself and his own body. But the heroine, too, must change and accept that her mother was a flawed person and be able to build a life of her own before she can accept Benedict in her life. I loved how they came together, and how their romance progressed, all through the book. I liked that the choices were hard, and both characters really changed and grew over the course of the book. Highly recommended.

Don't Swallow Your Gum: Truths, Half-Truths and Outright Lies about your body and Health by Dr. Aaron E. Carroll and Dr. Rachel Freeman- We've all heard the warnings. "Don't Swim for an Hour after eating or you'll drown!", "Don't Swallow your gum- it stays in your stomach for 20 years!" "Cover your head or you'll catch a cold!", but how many of those are actually true? These two physicians make and show the real truth-sometimes surprising, about your body and what goes on in it. My favorite statement in this book was under the category of "Shaving your hair makes it grow back in darker and thicker". If this was true, Male Pattern Baldness (Alopecia) could be cured by shaving your head numerous times... Amazing how we never think about this, do we? I found this book amusing and interesting. It's written to be fun and funny and yet really inform you and get you to think. Highly recommended for a short, fun read.

Fool for Love by Eloisa James- Henrietta MacLellan has always wanted a husband and a family of her own, but her health is too fragile to even be able to dream of having one of her own. However, when she meets Simon Darby and his two sisters, she finds him disturbingly beautiful and finds herself beginning to dream of things she has always been told are forbidden to her by her health. She even writes herself a steamy love letters as if it was from Simon, but her dreams will remain just that, dreams, will they not? Until her friend convinces her to use the letter to win Simon for her own by initiating a scandal that will force him to marry her to retain his good name. But Simon, already falling for Henrietta, and loving the way she interacts with his sisters, isn't willing to take the common wisdom about Henrietta's health at face value. In danger of making a fool of himself over her, can he convince her that she *can* have what she wants, and himself as well? I found this an interesting book. The Hero and Heroine are locked into old patterns of thought and behavior, but through meeting each other, they are forced to change and grow. I liked how Henrietta wrote a fake love letter to herself. It wasn't quite steamy as we think of the term, but for the time, it was certainly a bold declaration of love. And I love hoe they cast off old modes of thinking to finally be with and love each other. Recommended.

Trapped at the Altar by Jane Feather- Ariadne Daunt has grown up in a small valley all her life, her family on the outs with the Royal Family because of their religion. She is in love with Gabriel Fawcett, a musician, but her family wishes her to marry Ivor Chalfont, , who is of the King's religion and who they hope can restore the Daunt's close ties to the crown. Forced into marrying Ivor and taking on a mission to restore her family's good name, Ariadne wonders how she can fall for a man who she only thinks of as a good friend. As for Ivor, he has loved Ariadne since they were children- but he will not allow himself to give a name to a bastard child. Since he cannot be sure of Ariadne's affections, how can they ever work together on the mission for her family if she is pining for another man. But when Ariadne starts to fall for her husband, everything is different- and when she meets Gabriel in London, will she choose to run off with him or stay with the husband she has come to love? I spent a good deal of time irritated at Ariadne through this book. Yes, she was in love with another man, but at the same time, Ivor treats her a little badly because he knows she has been with Gabriel and wants to ensure that any child she bears is actually his. But she acts like she will never fall out of love with Gabriel and keeps Ivor on tenterhooks about her real feelings until very late in the book, making it much harder for him to trust her- and I couldn't see where he was all that much in the wrong. Thus, I never really got invested in Ivor and Ariadne as a couple, which made this book less successful for me, even though it ended with them together. Not recommended.

I Never Metaphor I Didn't Like: A Comprehensive Compilaion of History's Greatest Analogies, Metaphors and Similies by Dr. Mardy Grothe- This book shows the best of the literary and other worlds in crafting bon Mots on themes of love, marriage, Age, Death and similar subjects- both for an against. The cover is illustrated with a fish on a bicycle, bringing back the claim of Feminist Gloria Steinem about "A Woman Needs a Man like a Fish needs a Bicycle", which spoke to the idea that a women needs a man- or a relationship with a man, to be happy and fulfilled in life. Other ideas abound in the book, and I found myself enjoying the book greatly. The only drawback is that there are sometimes almost too may thoughts on a particular topic and I found myself growing tired of reading about it. This is not a book to open up and read straight through, but to put aside and read when you are interested in the topic being discussed, or to leaf through when you are thinking. It's not a bad book, but reading it straight through can be a bit overwhelming. Nonetheless, recommended.