Wednesday, November 18, 2015

2010, Part 1

The Wedding Cake War by Lynna Banning- Lolly Mayfield finally had the nerve to apply for the position of being a Bride in the town of Maple Falls. But finally, desperation pushed her to it. Lolly was about to marry Kellen Macready sight unseen- but when she finally got to town in Maple Falls, she found that she was not the first, but the Third bride to show up. And then the women of the Maple Falls explain to her that the town needs a new schoolhouse, and to raise money, they are holding a competition between the Brides with Macready as the Prize, with the entire town betting on the outcome. Lolly feels humiliated, until she meets the other two Brides to be. Fleurette McClair is a snooty woman from New Orleans, and Careen Gunderson is a perfectly nice girl from Maple Falls. Determining not to lose to Fleurette, Lolly throws herself wholeheartedly into the competition. Kellen Macready only agreed to this farce because the prize money was to go for rebuilding the school. His bachelor heart wanted no part of marriage- not even to Careen Gunderson. But when he finally met Lolly, he no longer felt he minded as much. But who will win the war for Kellen's heart, and will the woman agree to marry him after all. And can a man find something like true love with an entire town looking in on the contest? This was a cute book, and if I had been in the heroine's shoes, I have no doubt that I'd have been a bit annoyed with the situation as well. But the best part of this book is that there were no true villains and the story ended well for each woman in the contest- something that made me smile at the end of the book. Also, the contest reminded me a lot of reality shows, complete with a cooking competition. Recommended.

Hawken's Wife by Rae Muir- Hawken is a man without a past, his memory stricken from him by an accident in his past. No longer remembering anything from his former life, he's become a trapper and trail guide in the West. When he's hired to help a wagon trin make its way even further west, Hawken meets up with Meggie McIntyre, a girl who can ride as well as any man, and who has a fearless heart. She joined the journey on the Oregon trail to save her friend, Tildy, from an arranged marriage, but her father, Jim Mac, and brother have conspired to try and rein her in. But Meggie is seemingly irrepressible... and soon she finds herself longing for Hawken, who is traveling with two slaves on the run and a business partner with whom he intends to set up a trading post. But when the people of the town don't exactly welcome him and his business, can he find a second goal in life as a trail guide? And will Meggie still want him if he does? But more to the point, can a man who has no memories of his former life settle down with someone he loves without even knowing if he left anyone who loved him, like a wife, behind? How can he create a stable future based on an unknown past? Well, this was a cute story. Meggie definitely caught and held my interest with her unusual ways, like naming her horse John Charles. She's wild and a tad reckless, but at the same time, she knows what she wants, and what she wants is Hawken. It was nice seeing her thawing him and making him want to reach for a future with her, and the book is full of humorous stuff, like the character who thinks Meggie is a witch because when she asks for the Hail Storm to stop... it does. This was a good book, and I'd definitely recommend it.

Avatar: The Last Airbender Cine-manga, Volume 1- On the world of four nations, the north and south are ruled by the water nation. Two young people of the water nation, Katara and her brother, Sokka, go out fishing, lose their boat and find an iceberg with a young man inside. The young man is Aang, a member of the vanished Air nation, who disappeared 100 years ago. Along with AAng is Appa, his flying Bison. But when Katara finds out that Aang is a Bender, she wants his help in learning how to Bend. It seems that she is the only Bender in her village, and her tribe has lost contact with its sister tribe in the North. While Aang is an Airbender, she tells him she believes in him, and he agrees to help her. But Katara  isn't the only one interested in Aang. It seems that Prince Zuko of the Fire Nation has staked his Honor on catching the Avatar. And when Aang and Katara investigate an old Fire Nation ship, wrecked in the first years of the war, they fall into an old Booby trap and a signal is sent to the Fire Nation. But can they escape before the ship of Prince Zuko finds them? This was cute, but short and is clearly meant for younger readers than most manga. The art style is cute and so are the characters. I think I'd definitely recommend this Cine-Manga to younger kids. Recommended.

Alan Moore; Wild Worlds- This book holds five stories written by Alan Moore. The first is a crossover between Spawn and the WildC.A.T.s. When Zealot and Grifter of the future come back to try and kill Spawn, he attacks the modern day WildC.A.T.s instead, but their battle is interrupted by the future versions of Zealot and Grifter, who explain their actions by saying that in the future, Spawn has become the ruler of the nation, under the name of the Ipissimus. Of course, the modern-day heroes decide to go into the Future and take on Future Spawn/Ipissimus. Spawn underwent his transformation when he found a strange amulet. But when they finally break through to the Ipissimus, he knows exactly what they are going to do... because modern-day Spawn is fighting him as well. He grabs the amulet and is sent back to the modern day, along with future Zealot. But the effect of the amulet makes the modern-day Spawn start to go bad as well... until he realizes that the future Zealot is his daughter. But will his actions change the future? The second story shows the end of the Universe, as experienced by the Superhero Majestic, and what happens at the end. Voodoo is a member of the WildC.A.T.s, but when she moves to The Big Easy to clear her head, she supports herself by returning to her job of stripping, but gets involved with a club where the dancers are dying off. But who and/or what is killing them, and why? Deathblow: By Blows follows the story of Genevieve Cray, a female clone who must survive a murderous world to discover why she is there and why she was made. But can she escape the grasp of those who made her in the first place? The last story has their own base attacking the WildC.A.T.s. But why, and what is making it do so? I liked all of these stories, and I especially enjoyed the first story, but my favorite was the one about Genevieve Cray, probably because I didn't need to know anything about the characters-mainly because the original Deathblow was a character from the WildStorm universe who was killed off. This story is classic Alan Moore, which is far better than the paint-by-numbers first story. My next favorite was the Majestic story. His whole story is that he's immortal. But I liked it a lot, as the character's nature is apparent throughout the story. Definitely recommended.

Cause of My Teacher by Temari Matsumoto- This book is a series of Shonen-Ai short stories about teachers and their students and romances between them. The first, and the book's name is about a boy in love with his young teacher who has already confessed his feelings and started a relationship with the man. But the boy loved his teacher's glasses. When the boy needs glasses as well, will their feelings change. My favorite story in the book is "Boy  from the Palace of the Sea" has a boy Prince from a medieval seaside Kingdom who fall in love with his teacher/mentor and becomes his sex slave. But why would the Kingdom allow its Prince to become a sex slave to his teacher? I liked all the stories, but after a while they kind of ran together, so I would have to say that this book is okay if you are desperate for some Shonen-Ai, but otherwise, this book is easily missable and forgettable. Not recommended.

The Official XXXHolic Guide Created by Clamp- This is your guide to all things XXXHolic, but really only for the first nine volumes, with guides to the stories, characters, fashions and even a insight of what "hitsuzen" means in the course of the story. It's a good book, but for an official guide, it's kind of sparse, considering how long the series went on for and this really only covers the first nine volumes, and the series went on for a full nineteen volumes. It doesn't really talk about many of the issues that came up later, and spends more time talking about Yuko's fashion choices than just about anything else. It's okay, but I would have loved to see something a little deeper and less stuff that reminds me of some of the same things that you see in Japanese fan magazines, like fan ratings of their favorites characters, pairings, scenes and lines. It's okay, and it reprints lots of interesting stuff from the first nine volumes. Recommended.

Sherlock Holmes: Return of the Devil by Martin Powell and Seppo Makinen- Sherlock Holmes, with a dearth of cases to keep his attention, he has retreated into his addiction to cocaine. But as he retreats from the world, his hallucination becomes yet more hellish. But he is not alone in his hallucination. All across London, other users of cocaine are having the same sort of hallucinations. Clearly, something has poisoned the cocaine supply of London, and to combat it, Sherlock Holmes must throw off his addiction with the help of his friend, Watson and take on Moriarty. But can even he overcome his need for a drug to keep him mentally entertained? I have long followed the career and art of Seppo Makinen, especially his Sherlock Holmes stories, starting with "Shadows in Gaslight", where Sherlock Holmes takes on Dracula. Well, this is a stand-alone story, mostly without any sort of supernatural characters. Here, they are here, but they are all Hallucinations. I liked this story, and I felt that this was an excellent story about the last case of Holmes' career. Originally published in two separate comics, this is still not a very long book, and the style is rather strange, but it was a good story and interesting. Recommended.

Akiko Pocket-size #5: Bornstone's Elixir by Mark Crilley- Akiko is pulled out of School by, not her friends Beeba and Spuckler Boach, it is Prince Froptoppit who comes for on Mr. Beeba's orders. It seems that Mr. Beeba's old friend and mentor, Professor Lunderdorf, is dying and Mr. Beeba is determined to save him by searching for a legendary cure-all known as "Bornstone's Elixir". To do so, they split up, Akiko and The Prince must buy a large amount of Bornstone's favorite ale. Along the way, they meet a tall, handsome man named Kell, who interferes with Prince Froptoppit's pursuit of Akiko as a girlfriend.  Later, he joins them to help them get the ale, while Beeba and Spuckler and Gax go off in search of a Yoodoo bird. But when they descend upon Bornstone, the giant man refuses to give up the Elixir that was developed by his father. Can the group persuade Bornstone to save Professor Lunderdorf., and can Kell be trusted with the Elixir? Then, in a short story, Akiko is invited to a tiny world by its queen, but will her friends ruin it for her? I love the Akiko books, and this series of short stories are really excellent and fun. Even the ending to this one is great, with Beeba having to manage Professor Lunderdorf's expectations. I really enjoy this series, and both kids and adults will find it enjoyable. Recommended.

DemonWars: The Demon Spirit by R.A. Salvatore- Even after being banished from Corona, the Demon Dactyl's influence continues to grow and spread. Having charmed the cleric Markwart, Markwart begins to carry out the Demon's desires, making it seem that the stone mage Avelyn was corrupted, and searching for him to kill him and confiscate the stones that allow him to wield magic. Meanwhile, Jillesponie, Avelyn's apprentice in magic, is growing in power, and accompanied by her husband the Ranger, Elbryan. They recruit the elf Belli'mar to help them in the absence of the elf Tumtum. But when Markwart finds that Avelyn is dead, he suppresses the trutj and when he discovers a centaur buried at the sight of the battle, he digs him up and has him carried off to be questioned. He then switches his focus to Pony, taking in her family to question them. But when Pony discovers from the priest, Father Jojonah, about Markwart's focus on her, she goes after him with her allies, only too late to protect her adoptive family. But can she, Elbryan, Belli'mar and their new friend, the thief, Roger, can she avenge her family and free the world from Dactyl's influence? I thought this book and characters reminded me a lot of R.A. Salvatore's other hero, Drizzt Do'Urden. If you consider Elbryan as an analogue to Drizzt, and Poni as an analogue to Catti-Brie, I found myself thinking that they were very much alike- Not completely similar, of course, but enough alike in how they described their skills that I was thinking "Hey, hold on a minute..." Not that this is a bad thing, but in my case, it made me the story easier to get into. This comic was good, with lots of interesting world-building and excellent art. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone who likes R.A. Salvatore or fantasy. Recommended.

Wolfsbane and Mistletoe edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner- This book is a series of short stories by different authors about Christmas and Werewolves. "Gift Wrap by Charlaine Harris has Sookie  discover a Were named Preston Pardeaux in the woods on her property just before Christmas. Can Sookie keep him safe from his own clan? "The Haire of the Beast" by Donna Andrews has a witch who accidentally turns her boyfriend into a dog, instead of the man she was actually wanting to turn. But can she fix things in time for Christmas? "Lucy, at Christmastime" by Simon R. Green, Has Leo Morn drinking at Strangeways in the Nightside. He's remembering the first time he turned into a werewolf, and his girlfriend, Lucy. "The Night Things Changed" by Dana Cameron has two sisters, a werewolf and a vampire. But when her sister is attacked, can defend her, but the people in town are suspicious of them. But when a school bus of kids go missing can the Werewolf sister rescue the kids and change the mood of the town? Or even just one person? "The Werewolf Before Christmas" by Kat Richardson has a werewolf killing Rudolph before Christmas. But when Santa needs Rudolf, can a werewolf lead the reindeer on a trip around the world and find himself and his attitude changed?  "Fresh Meat" by Alan Gordon has a man who raises dogs needing the help of his dogs when werewolf hunters come to kill him. But can he hide the truth of what he is from a neighbor who wants to get closer to him? "Il est Ne" by Carrie Vaughn has Kitty meeting a newly turned werewolf in a lonely café. Can she impart some Christmas cheer, not to mention hope, to someone who has hit bottom after their life has changed. And what sort of change can she make for him? "The Perfect Gift" by Diana Stabenow has a Werewolf and a Police Officer in Canada discover what each other is and perhaps make a close connection. "Christmas Past" by Keri Arthur has two people on the Supernatural Investigations Squad having to deal with a crime on Christmas Eve when the man is a Werewolf, but their past romance came to an end at his hands. The question is, can they get past that and make a new future? "SA" by J.A. Konrath has a man who is upset at what is appearing in his feces, and finds that he is eating people. But when he goes to "Shapeshifters Anonymous", will he find the help he needs? "The Star of David" by Patricia Briggs has a child welfare officer who needs help with a young boy who may be being abused by the family, can her father, a Werewolf, help her find the truth? "You'd Better Not Pyout" by Nancy Pickard has two Russian Vampires trying to prove that Santa is a Vampire. But are they right? And will they survive if he isn't? "Rogue Elements" by Karen Chance has a combat mage with a Werewolf mother tasked for a job dealing with weres. But is she really the person who is perfect to deal with this issue? And when she finds out the truth about the three missing Werewolf girls, can she contain her anger, and deal with the issues she has stirred up. "Milk and Cookies" by Rob Thurman has a were boy who is trying to persuade his Sister that Santa is real and exists. But how far will he go to keep the magic alive? "Keeping Watch Over His Flock" by Toni L.P. Kelner has a Werewolf boy who transgressed one of the biggest laws of his people. But will his explanation of why he broke the law get out of trouble? I liked this book- all the stories were great, and my favorites were probably the last two, the first one had quite a sting in its tail and the second one was just a great story. Don't get me wrong- they were all excellent. but those were the two I liked the best and found the most memorable. If I had to pick a third for my "Top 3", I'd go with "Rogue Elements" as the third. Nonetheless, Highly recommended.

Highlander's Touch by Karen Marie Moning tells the story of Lisa Stone  whose mother is dying of cancer, has taken a job as a nighttime janitor to help ends meet and let her stay with her mother until she dies. But when Lisa touches a flask that was found near a river in Scotland in an office where she shouldn't have been she finds herself in 14th Century Scotland, in the Castle of Circenn Brodie, who has vowed to kill anyone who touched the flask. But intrigued by Lisa, he seeks reasons and excuses to keep her alive. But a fey named Adam wants Circenn to go back on his word, and is intrigued when Circenn keeps finding ways to keep her alive. But when he falls in love with her, can he send her back to the future to be with her mother, knowing he might never see her again? And who will Lisa choose, her mother or Circenn? I liked this book, but I preferred  Karen Marie Moning's Fever series with Kayla MacLane. But it was a good romance, I was just irritated with the ending. in which Adam and Circenn manipulated time to save Lisa and give her a different past. Recommended.

The Horseman by Jillian Hart- When Katelyn Green loses her baby, her father-in-;aw decides that she won't bring anything else into the family. But when Dillon Hennessey approaches her to marry her, she feels she has little choice. But can the two of them find real love out of necessity, and can he persuade her that his feelings are true and restore her faith in life? This was only okay. Jillian Hart made me believe in the characters and wanted them to be together. I just don't particularly care for Westerns. so recommended only slightly.

One Lucky Vampire by Lynsay Sands- Nicole Phillips is a famous artist, known for her portraits. But when she and her ex-husband, a user, are getting ready for their divorce to be final.  But when there are three possible attempts on her life in a very short time, her friend, Marguerite Argenau, hires a vampire named Jake Colson (also known as Stephano Notte) to guard Nicole, in the guise of a housekeeper. Jake Can't cook, but he can learn and he agrees to do it for Marguerite. Nicole insists that she doesn't think her husband, soon to be ex, is really trying to kill her, just that he is forgetful and perhaps a little vindictive. But when Jake nearly dies from taking a dip in Nicole's hot tub, which has been poisoned with Nicotine, it's obvious that there is something up... and Jake also realizes that he can't read Nicole's mind, which means she is his lifemate, or could be. But can he save her from whoever wants her dead, or seems to want her dead. And the question is, who is trying to kill Nicole, and why? And will Jake and Nicole end up together, or can she deal with the reality that Jake is a vampire? I loved this book. I have to say that the image of Jake on the cover really appealed to me, with the short beard and mustache and the leather jacket. With this in my head, I was prepared to be attracted to Jake, but the character as written was really attractive to me. He takes care of Nicole and he does a lot of stuff to keep her safe, even before he realizes that she is his lifemate. I just loved the character, and I loved the story, and if you like guys who appreciate the woman they are attracted to, this character and book will appeal to you as well. Highly recommended.

Literature: The New York Public Library Book of Answers- More Unusual and Entertaining Questions From America's Leading Reference Resource by Melinda Corey and George Ochoa- The New York Public Library is the largest Public Library in American, Possibly save the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. But can you answer the questions in this book without looking at the answers? The categories cover American Literature, The Ancient World, Authors in Love, Deaths, Drama, Table Talk, Writer's Lives, Trick Questions and Popular Delusions and every area in between. This book gives you a lot to think about and covers just about everything, being taken from real life reference questions submitted to Librarians at the Library. My favorite section was the "Trick Questions and Popular Delusions, of course. I would definitely Recommend this book for those looking for answers.

Must Love Hellhounds by Charlaine Harris, Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews and Meljean Brook- This book is a collection of four stories, all dealing with Hellhounds. "The Brittlingens Go to Hell" by Charlaine Harris is about two female mercenaries, and have to fight their way out of Hell, and manage to get Hellhounds out of the deal. But can they escape the baleful influence of Lucifer? In "Angel's Judgment" by Nalini Singh, the leader of the Vampire Hunter's Guild believes that there is a traitor in the Guild, and the only hope she has is a Vampire Hunter who breeds his own Hellhounds. But when the two of them begin to have feelings for each other, will it endanger their mission? "Magic Mourns" by Ilona Andrews has Andrea Nash, subbing for Kate Daniels discovering that Cerberus, the legendary Three-headed Hound of Hell out of Greek Myth, has appeared in Atlanta. But where is it and what. or should that be, who is it looking for... and why? And Can Andrea deal with it before it tears a bloody path through Atlanta? "Blind Spot" by Meljean Brooks has Maggie Wren, who is looking for her employer's niece. But first, she and her Hellhound must recover a blind man who she finds sexy as all get our. But will there be time for romance, or even sex, when she is on the job, and what secrets does her new companion hold? I loved this book. I had never read about the Britlingens before, so that story was only okay for me, but I really enjoyed Angel's Judgment and "Magic Mourns". I haven't read that much Meljean Brooks, but the story is supposed to be part of her "Guardian" series. Even so, it was intriguing. I like the use of literal Hellhounds in three of the stories, and I can't even pick one favorite here. All the stories are good. Highly recommended.

Doctor Who: The Tides of Time by Dave Gibbons and Steve Parkhouse is a reprint of the stories that appeared in Doctor Who Monthly during the time that Peter Davison was playing the 5th Doctor. "The Tides of Time" has The Doctor in a small English village when things from the past and the future. He meets a Knight from the Medieval Era named Sir Justin. The Doctor discovers the a hostile alien has taken over the Event Synthesizer, and the Doctor must put it back in the hands of its normal controller, but do so will require the help of Rassilon, the High Council of Gallifrey and Merlin the Magician. "Stars Fell on Stockbridge" When a local crazy comes across the Tardis in the woods, he realizes that the Doctor is an alien. But he also sees a star falling from the sky. The Doctor investigates with the man, they find an alien spaceship. But who or what is on board? "The Stockbridge Horror" has quarrymen finding the outline of the Tardis in a chalk Quarry. But when the Doctor discovers a strange character in black setting fires in the fields around Stockbridge, the Doctor must team up with Gallifreyan Agent Shayde to bring the being out of the Tardis's memories banks. "Lunar Lagoon" has the Doctor discover a Japanese Warrior on a small, unnamed Pacific Island. But when the Japanese takes him prisoner, can he escape? in "4-Dimensional Vistas", The Doctor finds himself on another small island, where he is accosted by a soldier, also from World War II, but the time is the 80's and The Doctor concludes that he is lost in time. But when Ice Warriors attack humans at the North Pole, can the Doctor and his new companion take them on? "The Moderator" has the Doctor facing off against a ruthless businessman who wants The Doctor's Tardis for his own. But when he sends an underling to "negotiate" with The Doctor, will the Doctor be able to survive the efforts of the Gaunts, Wrekkas and the Negotiator himself? I found this volume interesting. Some of the stories I really liked and some that I just found tedious. My favorite story was the book namer "The Tides of Time". I found Justin, The Doctor's new companion, to be refreshing and interesting, with his attitude of awe at the universe and his travels with the Doctor. I found the ending sad, but still interesting. Some of the later stories could be tedious, and I didn't necessarily enjoy the companions. Some of the stories seemed to drag on a bit, but overall these stories were very English and that may be the reason why I didn't get into them very well. Recommended, but this may not be what you expect.

Sherlock Holmes: The Cases of the Twisted Mines by Steven Phillip Jones, Aldin Baroza and Seppo Makinen- When Sherlock Holmes is visited by the police in the Case of a Mr. Hyde, he interviews the man and discovers Hyde in possession of a check made out to Jeckyll. He insists he obtained it legally, but he cannot say why Jeckyll gave him the check. Holmes digs into the matter further, but when he is visited by Dr. Henry Jeckyll himself, he discovers that the good Doctor is hiding something. The question is... what? and when one of Holmes' Bow Street Runners sees Hyde jump out of Jeckyll's skin after he has a fit, can he uncover the truth and bring the miscreant to justice? In "The Adventure of the Opera Ghost", Holmes is intrigued by a private message in a Paris Newspaper. When he travels to Paris to look into the matter, he discovers that the Paris Opera House is haunted, by a Ghost, known as the Opera Ghost. But can Holmes Ferret out the secret of the Opera Ghost and the woman who seems to be the recipient of his regard, Soubrette Christine Daae? These bring Holmes to bear on two other Victorian Stories, Stevenson's "The Curious Case of the Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde", and Gaston Leroux's "Phantom of the Opera". One of them deals with what might be possible real magic (Jeckyll and Hyde) and one in which most of the "Magic" is merely smoke, mirrors and hidden passages. In the case of the first story, the comic hews closely to the original story, and in the second case, less closely, but still fairly close. I liked this book, and even the rather inconclusive ending of the first story was interesting, because Holmes' Deductive logic breaks down in a case where magic makes things possible. If you know either story, or have seen a movie (or play) will probably be able to tell much of what is going to happen, but's and interesting read anyhow. Recommended.

Ben Franklin Takes the Case by Robert Lee Hall- This book is couched in the sort of "Hidden Manuscripts I found in some old pace" sort of story, supposedly a Case that Ben Franklin had to take on when he was in London before the American Revolution. Benjamin Franklin was there to try and get England to agree to some of the Colonist's demands. While in England, Franklin goes to meet an old friend of his, Ebenezer Inch, only to find that he has been killed. Working in the ship is Inch's apprentice, Nick Handy. Nick is not happy with Inch's family, as they mistreat him and merely tolerate him. So when Ben Franklin takes Nick under his wing to teach Nick about printing and much else besides, Nick becomes Ben's amanuensis, apprentice and legs, to run about where Franklin cannot go because of his gout. Nick isn't only seeking the death on Inch, who treated him like a son. The question is, who is his father? Will Nick be happy with the answer, or come up disappointed with no answer at all? And can he and Ben Franklin discover who killed his beloved Master and bring them to justice? I loved this book, which is written in the language of the 1700s and includes the written neologisms of the time, like "Oh" written as "O" and so one. This makes the writing feel authentically old and the story feel more realistic. I liked Ben Franklin's characterization, and that of Nick Handy. I also found the story interesting and fun. Recommended.

Vampire Hunter D, Volume 4 by Hideyuki Kikuchi and Saiko Takaki- In a Floating City Paradise, D rescues a woman named Lori and brings her to the city. Supposedly, the city is free of Vampires, but when Vampire Marks appear on the neck of the Mayor's daughter, D teams up with the Mayor to find any vampires that may have infiltrated the city. But the city is built on lies, and those in charge may not have the best interests in mind. The question is, what is going on, what is happening, and what does the strange, unsavory man known as Pluto VIII have to do with any of what is going on? Can D save the city, or is it already doomed by the choices its people and leaders have made? I liked this manga, which made D just as Ethereal and otherworldly as he appears on the covers of Hideyuki Kikuchi's novels. D is cold and reserved, withdrawn from people and most women, because he is a Dunpeal, aka a Dhampire, a half-human and half-vampire. D's world is both futuristic  and medieval at once, and also highly magical, with D having some sort of demon face grafted onto his hand, and much of his items are future science masquerading as semi-magical devices, as most people have forgotten science. I liked the whole idea of a floating city, and the idea of the noble vampires, though we never see why the nobles arose or where or how. Recommended. nonetheless.

Blow Me Down by Katie MacAllister- Amy is a financial analyst who spends her downtime on the MMO game "Buckling Swashes", where her alter ego is the fierce "Earless Erica". And one of her fiercest opponents is Black Corbin, who, in reality is Corbin, the programmer of the game. But when the game is attacked by Corbin's ex-partner, Paul Samuels, everyone already in the game or those who log in afterwards is stuck in the Virtual World. To get out, they have to track down Paul Samuels in the game, under whatever identity he is using and defeat him in battle to destroy him and get back home. But to do so, they are going to have to work together and navigate the world of the game, and Amy is a complete neophyte where this pirate game is concerned. can she learn enough to take on the big boys and win along with Corbin? And can she and Corbin translate their lust for each other from the game to the real world? I loved this book, but it has a sort of retro feel about the whole MMO sort of thing. I liked the details of the game world, and how Amy and Corbin as "Earless Erica" and "Black Corbin" come together and discover their lust for each other. I also love how they come together as people., and their interactions with each other. This book rocked my socks off. Highly recommended.

The Bellmaker by Brian Jacques- Joseph was the Bellmaker for The Abbey, and his daughter, Mariel, left the Abbey to travel withg her friend, Dandin, who bears the sword of Martin the Warrior. But when they were in the hot southern deserts, they run into two female Ermines known as the Dirgecallers. They kill the Dir4ecallers, but are captured by the rat minions of a fox who is called the "Foxwolf", because he wears a wolf pelt.  The Foxwolf, Urgan Nagru, and his wife, Silvamord, are trying to take over the north. They have conquered the lands of the Good Squirrelking, Gael SquirrelKing, and his wife Serena and their family. Dandin, Mariel, and their new friend, Bowly Pintips, are rescued from the rats by Meldrum Fallowthorn. Meanwhile, allies of Gael seek to rescue the King, but Gael and the leader of the Rescuers, Rab, must cover the escape of Gael's son Truffen, and are thought dead. Meanwhile, Martin the Warrior sends Jospeh a dream about Mariel and tells him be must sail to her rescue. Martin and his fellow Redwallers, Hon. Rosie the Hare Warrior, durry Quill, a Hedgehog, Rufe Brush, the Squirrel, and Foremole, must steal the pirate ship from two Rat pirates, The Pearl Queen and Slipp and Strapp. They must sail the ship south to rescue Dandin and Mariel from Urgan, But when they meet up with the Redwallers and Truffen and restore Gael to his throne and defeat the evil Foxwolf, his mate and their army of rats. But can the small group of Redwallers, Mariel and Dandin and a bunch of good animals defeat an evil army in the north? I love these books. Yes, they are for kids, and the stories are all good vs evil in its most simplistic form. But while certain races seem evil, Jacques has characters who can change. For example, the rat, Blaggut, who really, sincerely wants to change his ways, and ends up killing his evil Captain and making things up with the people (animals) of Redwall. It's a good adventure story, and will appeal to both kids and even teens. Heck, I enjoyed it and I'm an adult. Highly Recommended.

Mattimeo by Brian Jacques- Mattimeo is the son of Matthias, but a bit spoiled, as he has been lionized by the Redwallers since he was born. But when he fights the mean, obnoxious rat, Vitch, who, as it turns out, is helping Slagar, Masked Fox, who wants to infilatrate the Summer Feast and carry off the Redwallers to sell for slaves. He and his group pretends to be a circus troupe and drug the redwallers, then steal the Dibbuns, or the young children of the abbey, Matthias, Tess and Tim churchmouse, a Vale named Cynthia Bankvole and Sam Squirrel. They wake in St.Ninians Priory and are marched off to the distant kingdom of Malakiss, but the slaves aren't being told where they are being taken. Also with them is Auma, a badgermaid who had already been captured. The slavers also pick up Jube, a hedgehog who is sure his father is going to rescue him soon. Matthias and several redwallers are on the trail of Mattimeo and his companions, but when they reach the underground realm of Malakiss, all bets are off. Can Matthias and the Dibbuns fight to stay alive until help reaches them and will Mattimeo show the stuff to become a warrior like his father? Another excellent novel. Yes, it's very black and white regarding good and evil, but it's a thrilling tale well suited for kids and teens. The Dibbuns occasionally get on my nerves, but are otherwise okay as protagonists. Recommended.

Martin the Warrior by Brian Jacques- Martin the Warrior has often appeared in the Redwall tales as a benevolent ghost who helps the Redwallers and represents the best of warriors and the Warrior spirit. But he's never appeared as an actual character, until now. Martin starts out already a seasoned warrior. son of another Warrior, Luke. But Martin has been captured by the Tyrant, Badrang, and enslaved. Martin has sworn to escape, and he does, but without his father's sword that he swore to reclaim. Martin joins up with several other good animals, including a mousemaid named Laterose, or "Rose". The companions are separated, and while Martin, Rose and a Mole named Grumm are captured by shrews, but are freed after they save the life of the Shrew Queen's son, along with a Hedgehog named Pallum. When they finally reach Noonvale, Rose's home, Martin and Rose's father, Urran Voh, raise an army, but it is not large enough. It's only with the help of Boldred, a scholarly owl, that they finally raise enough animals to take on Badrang. They also meet up with their other companions, Felidoh, a squirrel, and Brome, Rose's brother, who have freed Badrang's slaves, with the help of The Rambling Rosehip players. But will the fight against Badrag cost Martin everything he has worked for? I loved this series, which uses animals as their "alien races, and which, Brian Jacques based on the people he saw working in England in World War II. I loved the story, and it was good to hear the original story of Martin, and it had both victory and tragedy. Recommended.

Charmed by Jayne Castle, Lori Foster, Eileen Wilks and Julie Beard- Is four short stories built on Paranormal themes. "Bridal Jitters" by Jayne Castle has Virginia Burch, who is about to marry a Ghost Hunter named Sam Gage. They are only going to be having a two year marriage of convenience, rather than a full-on covenant marriage, which means it can be dissolved after two years if they don't have any children, But when the two of them start developing real feelings for each other, will it impact their jobs? And can the find the man behind the difficulties they have been experiencing? "Man in the Mirror" by Julie Beard- When an overworked modern woman sees a Medieval Knight in a mirror, she gets pulled into it in an attempt to defend him. But what will happen to her in this ancient time, and can she somehow find love back in the modern day? "Tangled Dreams" by Lori Foster involves a Bartender who is attracted to a female customer named Allison, and she for him. But can two ghosts, Rose and Burke, bring them together by mixing up their dreams so that each knows what the other is dreaming and fantasizing about? "Pandora's Bottle" by Eileen Wilks has a girl named Dora who is fiancee to a stockbroker, but she is also torn between a man who happens to be a Djinn. But will she have to choose between them? I liked this book a lot, as the stories are all excellent, and I loved all of them, even the ones by authors I knew less well. Of course, "Bridal Jitters" was probably my favorite, because I really love  Jane Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle/ Amanda Quick is one of my favorite authors, but my second favorite was "Man in the Mirror" by Julie Beard. Highly Recommended.

Galactic Gourmet by James White- Gurronsevas is a an alien chef who has decided to leave his job to take up a post at Sector General Hospital. His idea is to make the "hospital Food" there better, But his experiments only succeed in causing chaos. But when he goes on a mission to a planet running short of food which has been reduced to cannibalism, he bends his massive culinary knowledge to saving people from having to eat each other, can he find a solution that weans them away from meat so that their entire race can survive? I loved this book. I love the whole "Sector General" Universe to begin with, and seeing the arrogant Gurronsevas both succeed and fail as he moves through the hospital and working on both the food for the doctors and the patients. And when he really shines, of course, is when he must wean an entire race away from eating meat. I loved the story and seeing the Hospital in a frenzy over Gurronsevas's experiments. Highly Recommended.

Mind Changer by James White- This is another Sector General Novel This one focuses on the chief Psychiatrist, O'Mara, who has had a history of Sector General going back to when the Hospital was first being constructed, deep in Interstellar space. But now, the time is coming for O'Mara to retire, and train his successor. But what will Sector General be without its Chief Psychologist and the person who has always been there? And while O'Mara is used to ferreting out everyone's secrets, what secrets are hidden behind O'Mara's tetchy façade? And will he be able to move on from his old job, and what else does O'Mara do when he isn't in his office? I liked reading this book a lot. O'Mara has always been a character who had the same position in all of the stories, so seeing what lay behind that façade was endlessly fascinating. Highly recommended'

Final Diagnosis by James White- Patient Hewitt has a real fear of aliens, but he's sent to Sector General. He is suffering from many different symptoms, but the doctors on his homeworld can find absolutely nothing wrong with him, and so they have labeled him a hypochondriac. As a last resort, they have sent him to Sector General, in hopes that the alien doctors can find something that they can't. As O'Mara probes Hewitt's mind, he tells his fellow patients, all aliens, his life story. But as the other alien patients fall ill with the same symptoms that Hewitt has, the Doctors begin to worry about the possibility of a cross-species of disease, which has never happened before. And to get to the bottom of this conundrum, the Sector General ambulance team will have to take Hewitt home to discover what is really going on, and what the "cure" may be. I loved this book, as it posed a truly unique medical conundrum, and all of the usual suspects are involved, Prillicla, Conway, Murchison, O'Mara, Charge Nurse Naydrad, and all are there to find the solution to the problem. I also loved what was reason behind the "disease". If you liked "House" or other medical procedural shows, this is the Sci-Fi equivalent. Highly recommended.

Heart Change by Robin D. Owens- Signet D'Marigold is the last of her family, and she lives alone on her flaired estate, but while her minor flair is for cabbling, and making shoes, no one can tell her what her main flair is, not even T'Ash, whose collection of gemstones, can detect any kind of flair. But then she gets a visit from Vinnie T'Vine, a young prophet, who tells her that he can tell her what her main flair is- she is a Catalyst, and he needs het to look after his fiancée, Avellana Hazel, who suffered brain damage after attempting to fly out the window when she was only three. Vinnie wants Signet to look after Avellana, and guide her through her Passage. Avellana's family want her to survive her passage, so they hire Cratag Maytree to look afterwards. Soon, Signet's life is full, with two other people living in her estate and a fam. Not only does she love Avellana on sight, but Avellana and Cratag come with fams of their own. But when Avellana's flair comes, it nearly destroys the Marigold residence. But can Avellana survive this destructive Flair? Meanwhile,.Cratag and Signet are finding love, but must deal with Signet's abandonment issues and Cratag's not inconsiderable issues as well. What sort of the life can Cratag and Signet have considering her flair and his, which is barely existent? And can they find a lasting love? I loved this book. I've loved all the Celta stories, which have a strong Pagan/Wiccan vibe to them, both in their approach to a religion and life in general. I also loved Signet and Cratag and their romance, and how they dealt with their problems. Neither is young, and their pasts add to their romance. Highly recommended.

The Queen's Bastard by C. E. Murphy- Belinda Primrose is a Bastard, the unacknowledged daughter of Queen Lorraine, trained since she was young by Lorraine's spymaster and lover. Belinda, completely unknown and can mingle in the courts of Echon, where she can seek out the enemies of Aulun. But when Belinda realizes she is the holder of magical power, will she betray her Mother and Aulun to dabble with Javier, the seductive prince whose mother's papers she is trying to get into. But Javier is much the same as Belinda- he, too, has witch power, and he wants her to stay with him, only it's dangerous to for her to stay too long in one place. But how can she have a life of her own while remaining her mother and father's creature? And can she just leave her duties and responsibilities behind? This book I bought because I love C.E. Murphy's Urban Shaman series. But Belinda is a much more difficult heroine to like, much less love. She spends half her time being heroic and epic, and even more time being a stone-cold bitch. As such, it's difficult to cheer her on when you are so busy disliking her. Even when she gets attacked, it was difficult for me to feel sorry for, something I wouldn't probably say about any other heroine. But it's a competent book and while there are very difficult passages, I can only lightly recommend it.

Hunting Julian by Jacqueline Frank- Julian is a hunter, sent from another world to find "Chosen", women whose energy can revive his kingdom, which is constantly on the edge of starvation and breaking down. Asia Callahan is looking to see who has made her sister an many other women disappear. But when Julian sees Asia, he realizes she is more than just Chosen, she is his Kindra, or his Chosen mate. When he lures Asia into his arms and into his world, will she be able to accept what has happened to her and to her sister, and more importantly, will she stay with Julian and help him and his Kingdom, or is she too focused on finding and freeing her sister to listen to what Julian and his people have to say? And can she listen to her body and heart to find out what she really wants to do? I found this book interesting, but annoying when it came to Julian himself. Asia started out as a strong character, but Julian and his people seemed to never have hit upon the idea of *asking* women to come save his world, and that annoyed me. It was all like "Let's go to another world and just steal all the wimminz we needs!" Later, Asia got more annoying, but I had a hard time thinking of Julian and his people as in any way heroic. It was okay, but Julian and his people just completely ruined the story for me. Not recommended.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

2015, Part 9

The Knight and the Seer by Ruth Langan- Gwenellen Drummond comes from a magical land, but unlike her sisters, her magic never seems to work properly. Her efforts to cast a spell properly land her in the lands owned by Andrew Ross, whose land has been invaded by his enemies, his villages burnt and people scattered. They might need magic, but Andrew only believes in revenge, and no strange woman who seems to have fallen out of the sky can make him believe any different. Until she works with him and his people to dig out and help him rebuild. Only then can he see that this strange young woman might be just what he needs to bring back peace to his lands- if only she'll stop speaking of magic and spells. Can Gwenellen make Andrew believe in magic once again, or will she be fated to return to her land of magic without the man she has fallen for? I liked this book a lot. I liked how Gwenellen needs to find true love to make her magic work and how Rafe was just the man to fill her needs. I also liked that in the end, she decided to stay with him, leaving her family behind, and of the magic she found where she was. Recommended.

Her Dearest Sin by Gayle Wilson- Sebastian Sinclair is a honorable member of Her majesty's army, but when he is scarred by a man come to bring back Dona Pilar, he vows vengeance. Encountering her again while on a diplomatic mission, he steps in to shield her from the man who took her back, Julian del Castillo, who wants her for her money and her dowry, and he's made the ruler of Spain fall in line with his plans. All Pilar wants is to be free- she doesn't expect to feel anything for the man who stepped in to protect her- but before she knows it, he has become very dear to her heart, and she seeks to protect him from the vengeance of his own protector, Julian del Castillo. But when she must enter a fake marriage to flee her protector's wrath, can she keep her heart from falling for a gallant Englishman who promises to never let her go? Another really good book that I definitely enjoyed. I loved how Pilar sought to keep him safe even as he was trying to do the same for her. The two characters fall in love, but have to come to terms with what that means for themselves. Recommended.

The Viking by Margaret Moore- Meradyce is a a beautiful Saxon who has come to the attention of the married clean leader of her village, Kendric. Einar Svenson is the Viking who has been paid to come and kill the wife of that very same man. He thinks Meradyce is the wife, and carries her off instead, leaving the leader of her village stuck with a woman he hates. But as the village leader  schemes to get rid of his troublesome wife and to get back Meradyce, Meradyce is already fitting into the Viking village as a midwife. And it's not only the women who have noticed. Einar, too, has noticed, and is slowly losing his heart to the beautiful Saxon. But when Ingemar, the Viking wench who wants Einar for herself, betrays the entire village to the Saxons, and Meradyce must keep the villagers safe while Einar and his men sail to the rescue. But can she keep the Vikings safe until the men arrive, or will she even be able to lead her new people to freedom on her own? I enjoyed this book. Yes, it begins with a trope of the woman being carried off by a rampaging Saxon, but at the same time, it moved beyond the trope in a good way. I liked how Kendric's children were also taken, and that was less important to him than getting Merdyce back (he only wants his son, not his daughter). I ended up enjoying it far more than I thought I would. Recommended.

The Masterful Mr. Montague by Stephanie Laurens- Violet Matchum comes to Mr. Montague to reassure the woman she is companion to about her wealth. Lady Halstead believes there is too much money in her accounts, but when she dies unexpectedly, it seems like someone from her family might have done it. Barnaby Adair and Inspector Stokes, and their wives, Penelope and Griselda, are on the case to discover not only who might have killed Lady Halstead, but who is responsible for the extra money in Lady Halstead's account, and is it the same person who might have killed her? And Montague might be falling for the beautiful Violet, but will she return his affections? I actually liked this book far better than the Cynster novels, and I liked how the romance was no longer so much between Adair and Stokes and their wives (although, to be fair, they did get a lot of time in the spotlight as well), and more to Mr. Montague and Violet. Highly recommended.

The Bloodforged by Erin Lindsey- Alix Black used to be just the King's Bodyguard, until she married the King's Half-Brother, Liam. But for the Kingdom of Alden to survive, Erik and Alix will have to appeal to the King of the land of Harrm, while Erik, who is horrible at diplomacy, is sent to the Republic of Onnan to find out where the massive fleet that the Onnans promised Alden is after too many months in construction. Finally, Lord Riggard Black must turn back the Trionate from invading the heartland of Alden with the help of Andyrithi soldiers and a female priestess of Wisdom. But when both Liam and Erik fail at their tasks, something seems strange about Erik, and Alex and Liam must uncover what happened to cause such a change, and deal with the results without informing Erik. But can they uncover the secret truth at the heart of the change? I hadn't read the first book, but I enjoyed this book very much, and the world-building was excellent. I really enjoyed the characters, and the change at the end was amazing, as well as the reason behind it. It actually reminded me a lot of the writing of Deborah Chester. Highly recommended.

Updraft by Fran Wilde- Kirit Densira is the daughter of a trader in the spire of Densira in the city. All she has wanted her whole life is to be a trader as well, but when she opens a window during an attack on Tower Densira, she attracts a skymouth. But her scream drives it away, which gets her a charge against her by a singer, who adjudicate the laws, along with her best friend, Nat. They must clean out the lower four levels of Densira, where trash collects and those who cannot live elsewhere hide. The Singer wants her to become a Singer, but she would rather be a trader, and refuses. But when both of them fail their wingtest (the only way to get around the city), for stupid reasons, likely orchestrated by the Singers, they make an assault on the Singer's spire. Nat seems to fall to his death, where Kirit is saved and told to climb up into the spire all on her own. But even as Kirit struggles to join the ranks of the Singers and master her ability of Skymouth singing, she becomes aware that not all is right in the Spire, and that her father was a Singer as well, and was responsible for the death of her friend Nat's father. But the lies keep piling on, and when Kirit decides to lead a revolt in the Singer's spire, can she fight off Rumul, who has bribed the Windbeaters to help him win? I liked this book, which is a stand-alone book instead of part of a trilogy. But in this case, I'd love to see more about what happened in the city and about how Kirit and the others remake the roles of the singers in the city. I loved the world-building and the characters, even the ones who only appear for a very short time. I also loved how the entire city comes together to fight off the plague of Skymouths, and the entire ending. It's a wonderful book, and it seems like it should have been a YA, except that the focus (or one of them) is *not* on romance. Highly recommended.

Dark Warrior Unleashed by Alexis Morgan-  Ranulf Thorsen is over a thousand years old, a former Viking Raider who serves as enforcer for Kyth, tracking down and disposing of Rogue Kyth as a Talion enforcer. But when Kerry Logan, a woman who likes hanging out in dance clubs and at sports events, foils the efforts of a firestarter to burn down a club she is dancing at by saving the people who were trapped inside with her by leading them to safety. But because she also comes to the attention of the Pyromaniac who set the fire, both Ranulf and the police want to keep her safe. But when the Pyro turns out to be a Rogue Kyth Talion, not only is Ranulf involved, but Sandor Kearn, another Talion who thinks that Ranulf is just a single hunt away from the dark side and Dame Judith, the leader of Kyth society. But there is more at stake than anyone realizes, because it seems that Dame Judith is dying and Kerry, having the power of healing, can be the one person who can replace her. But will Kerry even believe in the Kyth and her own powers, and who will she choose to be her lover and champion, Ranulf or Sandor? Given that Ranulf is mentioned on the back of the book first, that's kind of a no-duh kind of question, but because this is part of a series, it seems like this could be the beginning end, or a middle as well. I liked Ranulf. He went from overly world weary to wanting to engage with Kerry and actually enjoying himself once again. I could believe the character arc and the characters, and how they resisted making Sandor the bad guy. Yes, he's wrong, but in the end, he comes to realize that Ranulf is just as good as he is. I liked this book, and would definitely recommend it to others.

Sister Light, Sister Dark by Jane Yolen- Jenna is the daughter of a townswoman adopted by a woman of the Hill tribes near the end of their existence. Even as academics fight over whether or not she was a real woman, her life followed closely to a prophecy given to followers of the Mother Goddess. But she also must survive three mothers and discover how to summon her dark sister, a twin from the other side of the mirror, to assist her when her adulthood journey goes disastrously wrong. But can she survive the alien warriors on the way who want to kill her for helping the son of an evil warlord, who wants to get away from his father and the rest of his family? I liked this book, which reminded me a bit of "The Handmaid's Tale", with the notes about academics fighting over the truth of the story and what it means. And, of course, the academic who is least credited it the one who is the closest to being right. I also liked the very mythic feel of the story, and the fact that the story itself was interesting and fun. Recommended.

Living with Ghosts by Kari Sperring- The City of Merafi was constructed in order to keep out ghosts and spirits. But now, Valdarrien, dead ten years. has been seen by his best friend and brother-in-law, Thiercelin, who approached Gracelin, a failed priest of death, to try and banish his ghost or at least lay him to death. But Valdarrien wants to be reunited with his former love, Ioreth Yscoithi. Joyain wants to have a life free from strife, but as forces  converge on Merafi, a sorcerer and a foreign ruler have come together to try and drown and destroy Merafi. But to undo their work, it will require a sacrifice in the city's name- a willing sacrifice. The question is, who will be willing to sacrifice themselves for the city, and can they find out who is behind it and how the spell on the city can be lifted. But while Thiercelin is fixated on his relationship with his wife, a counselor to the ruler of Merafi, and Gracielis is afraid of becoming a full priest and hooked on his indolent life as a lover to women for money. As the floodwaters rise and sickness spreads through the city, all the characters must come together to fight it and the people behind it. But can they triumph over those who would destroy Merafi? I found this book a little boring at the start, but as the story picks up, the story became more interesting. This is a stand alone novel, and it's a fairly good one. Slow at first, but picks up towards the end. And a very good story, with excellent world-building. Recommended,

The Rebel and the Lady by Kathryn Albright- Victoria Ruiz is on the run from Santa Anna and his army. But when her family sends her to the Alamo to take shelter, she meets Jake Dumont, whois looking for his brother, a doctor. But while he shouldn't be staying there and looking for his brother instead, he can't bring himself to give up the sight of this beautiful women, When it seems that Santa Anna will destroy the people in the Alamo, they must flee the doomed fort and find Jake's brother. But will Victoria leave with Jake, or will she face death to stay with her family? I thought this was only okay, verging on meh. I didn't find it all that interesting a romance. It's there, but I didn't get turned on by it or find it all that interesting. Not recommended.

Eternal Kiss by Laura Wright- In a world where vampires are a whole separate race and have their own vocabulary, the vampire race have a breeding male who is little more than an animal who is only interested in feeding. The Roman family are sons of the breeding male, and the vampire council in charge wants to bring back the breeding male from one of the Roman brothers. One of the members of the council is using an impure blood named Ethan Dare to make one of the Roman brothers give themselves up to the rite that will make one of them the breeding male. He has his eye on Nicholas Roman's brother, Lucian. But when a vampire veana female named Kate Everborne brings Nicholas a young male balas, or vampire male child, she tells him that the boy's mother said that the child was Nicholas'. But Ethan wants Kate and the child to bring Nicholas in to the council. But Nicholas is far more interested in Kate, who is a former resident of Vampire Prison. With Secrets of his own, can Nicholas persuade Kate that she wants to be with him more than to face the possibility of prison once more? I was interested to read another vampire romance, but this book was dragged down for me by all the esoteric terminology and all the terms that were flung around for vampire male and females of different ages. It just seemed unneeded  complication to the story and was ridiculous. It's an okay story, but was dragged down by all the ridiculous terminology. Not recommended.

Griffin Stone: Duke of Decadence by Carole Mortimer- When Griffin Stone nearly runs down a woman on a forest road, he feels duty bound to offer her shelter in his home. But even as he looks for who she might be, it becomes clear that whoever she was running from is also the man that Griffin was sent into the country to look for. But as he true identity becomes clear, her memory of what actually happened becomes crucial to capture a true villain. But will Griffin be able to give up the woman who he calls Bella when she is discovered to be an upper class woman? I liked this book very much. Yes, it's based on the amnesia trope, but I liked how this one came out, which was neither overdone nor sloppily or lazily done. I also liked both Griffin Stone and Beatrix (which is "Bella"'s real name)'s interactions, and how he helped her recover her memory. Recommended.

How to Seduce a Scoundrel by Vicky Dreiling- When Tristan Gatewick gives his friend Marc Darcett, Earl of Hawkfield, the guardianship of his sister, Julianne, for the season while Tristan is away, he's told in no uncertain terms not to let Julianne get interested in any rakes, Hawk included. So when Hawk gets carried away by Julianne during a dance, he makes it immediately clear that he has no interest in marrying her, because he is afraid of his true feelings. But she doesn't allow herself to be brought down by his rejection. Instead, she and her best friend, and her chaperone, Mark's Aunt, decide to write a book on "How to get a Rake to Offer Marriage". But when it is finally published, it becomes the scandal and talk of London- including among Hawk's friends. But can Hawk face up to his true feelings for Julianne? And when he has to talk to Tristan about marrying Julianne, can he confess his true feelings for her and ask her brother for her hand, can he convince his old friend to let Julianne marry him? I actually enjoyed this book a lot, especially the writing of the book part, and I liked how Julianne teases and taunts Hawk with his feelings and finally gets him to tie the knot, when she has long had feelings for him. Highly recommended.

Weddings from Hell by Maggie Shayne, Jeaniene Frost, Terri Garey, and Kathryn Smith- In "Till Death by Maggie Shayne, Kira McLellan doesn't believe in curses, even though her mother and father supposedly fell victim to one on her family. But when she is summoned back to Scotland to meet her family, she meets and falls in love with Scot Ian Stewart, and suddenly becomes aware that not only are curses real, but so is her own. And if she wants to save the life of the man she loves, she is going to have to break it..."Happily Never After" by Jeaniene Frost has Isabella, a girl who is marrying a local mob boss to save her Brother's life. Little does she know that her grandmother's former lover, a vampire, has been summoned to save her from her fate. But can she accept the love of a supernatural creature in his place?  "Ghouls Night Out" by Terri Garey has Nicki Styx, who can see Dead People. When one of her sister's bridesmaids doesn't show up for the wedding fittings, Nicki discovers that the woman is dead, but she has to discover who murdered her sister's friend while taking her place. "The Wedding Knight" by Kathryn Smith brings back Payen Carr, a vampire, to stop the wedding of the woman he loves to the wrong man. But can Payen put paid to the wedding while keeping Violet safe and her out of his own arms? Or will she end up in Payen's arms? This was an interesting book, but I actually found the story "The Wedding Knight" to be the most interesting story, even though I usually like Maggie Shayne and Jeaniene Frost far more. Still, all the stories were good and interesting. Recommended.

A Husband's Wicked Ways by Jane Feather- Aurelia Farnham is a widow, living in Cavendish Square, but when a man named Greville Falconer arrives to let her know she's been widowed for real this time, Aurelia is astonished. She's believed herself to be a widow for over two years now. But Colonel Sir Greville Falconer tells her that she has been lied to all this time, she is very angry. But when he asks for help in bringing down a foreign spy, she is intrigued enough to agree. Putting herself in his hands, and they begin a mock-courtship to bring Greville into her world. But very quickly, the courtship becomes less a sham and far more real. but can they keep their real selves separate from the mission long enough to bring those they hunt to justice, or is Greville merely preparing yet another mission by pretending to be interested in her for real? And can she trust him to answer truthfully if she asked him? I loved this book, as I usually enjoy the whole "is this real or is the spy just playing a deeper game?" kind of question. I liked both the main characters and how they become entangled with each other. I also liked how they both have to tear their masks away to find out the truth between them. Highly recommended,

Castle of the Wolf by Margaret Moore- Thomasina is beautiful and virginal, and she comes to the attention of Sir Rheged of Cwn Bron when he sees her passing out alms to the poor at night. But when the tournament her father is holding ends, it is Sir Rheged who wins and claims to the prize, only to discover it is worth a mere pittance instead of what it is supposed to be worth, Sir Rheged, who comes back and kidnaps Thomasina instead to persuade her father to make up the money, which he needs to help rebuild his castle from its state of disrepair. Thomasina is horrified to be kidnapped, but as she spends more time in Sir Rheged's company, she comes to see that he is not the savage that many make him out to be. As for Sir Rheged, he begins to realize that he has taken the real treasure from her father- Thomasina herself. But when she interferes in the feud between Sir Rheged and his greatest rival, can she mend the feud and bring the feud to an end? I liked this book, as I always love Welsh heroes (I admit it, I have a sneaking love for the underdog, and the Welsh were pretty much that in the Middle Ages), and this book was right up there as my catnip- Hero who is a successful knight, but people think him brutal because he comes from Wales, who finds love with a maiden who needs to see below the surface to find his finer qualities. Recommended.

Secrets of Surrender by Madeline Hunter- Roselyn Longworth is a good woman, but when she makes the mistake of succumbing to the blandishments of Lord Norbury, along with his protestations of love, she becomes debauched by him, but when she refuses to be debased any further, he decides to auction her off to the highest bidder. But she is surprised to be bid on and won by Kyle Bradbury, a mere architect. But while the expects to be treated like a soiled rag, he continually treats her well and gently. By the time she is seduced into loving him, she realizes that Kyle has bid his future to win her, and only because he wanted to rescue her from Lord Norbury. In order to repay him, she will have to marry him and sacrifice everything that was to come to her to ensure their survival. But can Kyle, who has secrets of his own, save them both with hi talents? I liked this story, but while the beginning was similar to another book I'd read recently, I liked how Roselyn had to deal with what had happened to her, and with both of their choices in their lives. But watching their relationship unfold was very enjoyable and affecting to me. I enjoyed it immensely. Recommended.

A Match for Marcus Cynster by Stephanie Laurens- Niniver Carrick is the head of the Carrick clan, laid low by her father and older brother's bad decisions. But when the members of her clan start becoming a problem by seeking her hand in stupid and disruptive ways. When it gets really out of hand, Niniver seeks out the help of her next door neighbor, Marcus Cynster, looking to have a problem relieved by pretending to seek her hand in marriage and being her bodyguard to prevent overeager members of her clan from breaking in on her to force the issue. But her male clan members aren't the only ones seeking to marry her- and there are many secrets hidden in the past of her family that are hidden to blow her out of the water. But when someone else seeks to take over the clan, will the clan choose Niniver to continue to lead them, or let her go and let someone else take over? And when Marcus realizes that not only does Niniver need his help, but that she is the perfect woman for him, can he persuade Niniver to realize the same and to marry him? I loved this book, when I usually can't stand the many Cynster novels just because there are SO MANY OF THEM. It's a case of there being way too much of a good thing. I feel a deep weariness of sequelitis here. But this book focused far more on Niniver and showed her to be a strong woman who was doing a hard job, and doing it well, and she probably would have succeeded without Marcus Cynster's help, it just would have taken longer, so I liked it for that reason. Also, generally, Marcus is on his own much of the time- with his family off in the background. Recommended.

Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready- Ciara Griffin used to be a con artist, but she is trying to go straight. But when she is hired to do marketing and PR for WMMP, the local radio station, which is about to be taken over by a conglomerate, she discovers that all the DJs who seem to know so much about their areas of music are actually vampires, who were musicians at those times and are deathly afraid of change. When Ciara is able to wrap her head around the whole idea of vampire DJs, she comes up with a way of telling the truth within a con, by pretending that the vampire DJs are human DJs pretending to be vampires for the promotion. But while there are other vampires out there who are not very happy with Ciara and the other vampires at the station for their "hiding in plain sight" game brings Ciara to their attention, and some of them want to kill her or turn her into a mere vampire Scooby Snack, she is also connecting with Shane, the youngest vampire at the station. But when the vampires are coming to the attention of both human and vampire hunters, she also has to hold off the people who want to buy up WMMP. But can she do all that and keep herself alive as well? I liked this book, which had a rather unique take on both vampires and the story. Vampires are so creatures of the time they were made that as time passes them by, they just don't change. It's possible that they can't, or just that it is very hard for them to do so, as time passes, they react badly-very badly, to things that are newer than what they knew. I liked that idea about vampires as it was something new- that their brains weren't as plastic as humans. I liked the romance, the characters, and the ideas in this book. Highly recommended.

The Duke Next Door by Celeste Bradley- Deidre Cantor is a young woman with a plan on her mind, to win her grandfather's vast fortune by being the first in the family to marry a Duke. So she marries Calder Marbrook, Marquis of Brookhaven and future Duke of Brookmoor. But her future husband had some secrets of his own he'd been hiding, like a spoiled, bratty daughter who most certainly DIDN'T want a new mother out of the deal. But when the girl becomes the fly in her ointment, can Deidre make her marriage somehow a happy one, and find a place in her heart for her new stepdaughter, or will the games she plays with Calder's heart bring them both nothing but sorrow? And when her games lead to an abduction, can her husband see beyond her games to find the love in her heart? I found Deidre rather mercenary, but during the course of the book, she actually won me over, whereas, I found Calder to be much more sympathetic  all the way through. But in the end, I did want the two of them to find love and be happy. So I ended up enjoying this book. But I do say that it's not for everyone. So, recommended, but with a caution.

The Renegade Hunter by Lynsay Sands- Nicholas Argeneau was once a vampire hunter. But when he was discovered to have killed a young woman who had known his dead wife, he was declared a rogue. When he's captured by his former fellow hunters, he meets Josephine Willan, who has been brought in to be a possible mate for his fellow immortals. But when she sees him in the process of escaping, he's the only one she is interested in. Nicholas wants to stay away from her, but he can't help himself when he injures her dog and feels that he must make it up to her. But when he tells her about what got him declared renegade, Josephine senses something wrong with his story and when they are recaptured, she makes a case for him being innocent. But can Nicholas, his old colleagues and Josephine discover the truth and set them both free to live and love for as long as they are together? I liked this book. I liked how Nicholas thought of himself as a rogue and yet he did his level best to keep Josephine and her dog and friends safe, even as she wanted to be with him very strongly. I loved both characters and the story and who was behind what really happened to Nicholas. Highly recommended.

Shadowlight by Lynn Viehl- Jessa Bellamy has a strange psychic talent to see into people's pasts merely by touching them. But her job as the head of a company dedicated to ferreting out frauds and tricksters comes into question when she notifies the FBI of a woman working with a con artist to defraud a company, she comes to the attention of Jonah Gennaro, the head of GenHance, a biotech company. He wants to kidnap and experiment on Jessa, with no guarantee that she would survive the process. But when she is kidnapped by Gavin Matthias from a meeting with Bradford Lawson, Lawson blames Jessa for the damage Matthias inflicts on him and his company wanting to fire him. But as Matthias tries to convince Jessa that her life is in danger, she tries to wonder why what she can see of his past is shrouded in mist. But when they must go on the run from Bradford Lawrence, will they come to the attention of the Kyn, and will Matthias and Jessa be able to keep each other safe? This was a series I read a long time ago, but I really enjoyed this book. I wonder why I haven't seen any more of this series or Lynn Viehl. I wish I could find more of her stuff. I liked her Kyn books and the Kyndred books as well, and this one is no exception. The villains are both evil and scary, one in a more intellectual way, and one as a definite evil threat. Highly recommended.

Drink of Me by Jacquelin Frank- Reule is the leader of the Sange, who most of the people in the world consider savages. But when he leads a mission against the Jakals, who have imprisoned a member of his pack, he discovers a woman who has taken shelter in the second floor of the house where the Jakals have holed up and is projecting a feeling of limitless sorriw. He rescues the woman, who he named Mystique, When he returns to his capital city of Jeth, he discovers that the woman is recovering from horrible wounds, but she knows a little bit of his tongue. but she cannot remember her real name or where she comes from. Soon after, she takes up the job of healer as the Sange healer is completely unable to do his job and is actually killing people through inaction. Mystique takes over and gets into a relationship with Reule. But when the city is approached by people from the mountains, it seems that they are looking for a female murderer who fled their city, and it is quite obvious that they are looking for Mystique. However, one of Reule's pack has looked into her memories and knows she was telling the truth that she couldn't remember. But can she remember what truly happened in time to keep from being dragged off by her own people and tried as murderess? And will Reule defend her if he thinks he is married to a murderess? I am used to Jacquelyn Frank writing all sorts of Nightworld characters, but this one is not tied in any way to any of her previous series, and so I was rather confused. The cover with its Black and silver(ish) souple made me think of her previous Shadowdweller series, but as far as I can tell, it was a stand-alone novel. Even so, the story was something I loved. I loved how Mirage was not at all afraid of Reule and his people, even though others seem to think they are some sort of savages. But I liked how Mirage knew what she wanted and went for it, and the things she accomplished while she was in the city. I also liked the reveal of her background, and the truth, of course, but also felt that the conflict with Reule's second was sort of thrown in at the end for tension without much need, I felt. still I loved the book and want to see more. Highly recommended.

Wayward Moon by Denny DeMartino- Philipa Cyprion is a  forensic astrologer, sent to the Baderes Space station to investigate the death of Duriken Sunteel, who attempted to merge with the station to save her world. However, the merger was interrupted, and her consciousness was forcibly rejected, leading to her death. It's up to Philipa and her lover and comrade Artemis Hadrien, to figure out who or what killed Duriken Sunteel. The only problem is trying to understand the alien society and why Duriken Sunteel wanted to even try to resurrect a dying world. But the aliens have their own theories, including something called a Shimbang, which is apparently some sort of evil, disembodies intelligence. But *something* is fooling around with time and space, and it seems like something may have to do with an alien race whose home planet exists at the center of the universe. But when Hadrian disappears into the mid-air, it seems the only way to get him back is for Philipa to travel to the planet and track him down for herself. But can the visit provide insights into who might have killed Sunteel, and why? I was not enjoying this book. The whole idea of a "forensic astrologer" just made my head want to explode, but I just didn't get into the characters and it seems like a whole bunch of things were going on that just didn't make sense. Why would astrological signs, visible from earth, have any influence on aliens? How does that even make sense? I found myself both boggled and uninterested in the entire book. I would not recommend this book, both for reasons of not making sense and for being deeply uninteresting. Not recommended.

Black Wings by Christina Henry- Madeline Black is an agent of Death, tasked with escorting souls to the door that will bring them into the afterlife. But when she takes over for a friend who has a hot date, she is attacked by something big and bad, and her friend is killed. But a new possible renter, Gabriel Angeloscuro, helps her out. It's only afterwards that she finds out that Gabriel was sent by her father, the fallen angel Azazel, to look after her. This is because another of Azazel's children, Antares, is after her. But not only is Antares after her, but Ramuell, the Nephilim, or half-angel, child of Lucifer, is after her as well, and has also killed her mother in the past. But Maddy has been dreaming of Evangeline, the long-ago consort of Lucifer, who somehow disappeared from her own world and the life of Lucifer, who she loved. Can Maddy discover what happened to Evangeline and her children? and why is Gabriel forbidden to have a romance with Maddy, and can Maddy defeat Ramuell without attracting negative attention from Lucifer? And can shedo so and keep her job as an agent of death? I liked this book a lot. I liked Maddie and I liked Gabriel and her Gargoyle, Beezle. I liked her introduction to her father (who was actually kind of frightening), and how none of the Agents of Death could see beyond the door, and how the fallen angels fell merely by wanting to have kids with human women. I also loved Gabriel's story and how and why he and Maddy couldn't have any kind of relationship. Definitely recommended.

Blood Angels: Deus Encarmine by James Swallow- Rafen is a Space Marine of the Blood Angels chapter. He's fairly experienced, but after a battle on the memorial world against a chapter of Chaos Marines known as the Word Bearers, he is reunited with his actual brother, Arkio, who comes to prominence with an idea as how to defeat the Chaos Marines guarding the spaceport and defend their ship in space from Chaos Marine ships. The inquisitor in charge, Stele, presents Arkio to the other marines as something to look up to, but when Arkio touches an ancient artifact, the spear known as the Spear of Telesto that Stele recovered from the orcs, it flashes and recognizes him. Slowly, Arkio begins to change over time, becoming more and more like Sanguinus, the progenitor of the Blood Angels Order. But as Arkio becomes colder and distant, Rafen has more and more trouble believing in his brother as the reborn Arkio, even though his fellow Marines have heartily embraced Arkio as Sanguinus reborn. But as everyone who might cast doubt on Arkio's ascension dies in horrible ways, who can Rafen call upon to advise him, and when it's demanded of him that he must agree that Arkio is Sanguinus reborn, can he bring himself to betray the Emperor of Man? I wasn't very familiar with the Warhammer 40K Universe, but this one was about one of the Blood Angels, one of the three chapters I Have heard of; (Space Wolves, Ultramarines and Blood Angels are the three) but I didn't find it hard to come up to speed on the book, who the Blood Angels were and what Stele and the Chaos Marines were trying to do. I found it grim and dark (but then, the whole Warhammer Fantasy Universe defines Grimdark, but it was easy to feel for Rafen, who wanted to save his brother and talk sense into him, but couldn't, and was losing everyone who he trusted most. Recommended, but unless you really like Grimdark (and I am only "eh" on it, you may find it depressing.

Blood Angels: Deus Sanguinius by James Swallow- As Arkio returns to the center of space, the Blood Angels chapter is being ripped apart by Heresy. The two sides are those who believe that Arkio is Sanguinus reborn, and those who don't.. But as Arkio draws the two parts of the chapter closer to war, Stele and the Chaos Marine leader are close to coming to a war of their own, and when it comes to war between Dante, leader of the Blood Angels, will Arkio's corruption begin to show? If so, who can bring the brothers back together when the leaders of the Blood Angels come together to parley and are attacked by the Chaos Marines? Will the Chapter fall or stand strong, and will Rafen, now wanted as a traitor by those who have sworn loyalty to Arkio, destroy the man who made all of this happen? I enjoyed this book, but again, it's very Grimdark- as you would expect the world of Warhammer 40K to be. So I recommend, but YMMV.

So Still the Night by Kim Lenox-Marcus Helios used to be a member of the Shadow Guard, until he underwent Transcencion to bring down a Rogue, and began a slow process of decline. His only hope is to find the three ancient scrolls that might tell him where to find a very special mirror that might be able to reverse his condition and save his life. Luckily for him, Mina Limpett's father was in possession of the two scrolls he needs most. But Mina left her father behind in the east and then came home to the family of her uncle. When Marcus shows up and realizes that Mina's father's is dead. but his body isn't in the grave, he approaches her to get het father's papers, but she isn't giving them up, or even giving Marcus a clue as to where he can find them. He should be angry at her, but he's too fascinated by her instead, and attracted to her. He marries her to get access to her father's papers. and also because this is the first woman he has ever wanted to marry in his life. However, this doesn't please Mina's aunt, who wants Marcus for herself, and Marcus' sister, Selene, is looking for an excuse to take his life. And then there is a woman calling herself "The Ripper's Bride" is out after Marcus and wants him for her own, as Marcus will soon flip to being evil and wanting to destroy all humans and the world. But when Marcus rejects her, will Mina find out more about her family, and will she ever be reunited with her father? I liked this book. It's not one of my favorite vampire romance series, but it's something different, and I enjoy it when I read it. Kim Lenox's vampires are quite different, and I do like that, but it's just not my favorite. Recommended, but not highly.

Scottish Miscellany by Jonathan Green- Ever had questions about Scotland, like "Why do clans have kilts" or "What does an Egyptian Princess have to do with the birth of Scotland?" or "When does a broth become a Scotch Broth?", well then this book might be the answer to all those questions. I had a Scottish co-worker (before she retired), and I feel that she would have loved to have this book to show people who have questions about Scotland, Scottish heritage or other bits of Scottish life, like tartans, or why Scotland is known as "The Home of Golf". The questions are rather simple, but answers go into quite a lot of depth and are very interesting. This is a book that doesn't go to deep questions, but it's good for a lot of more generalized questions and specific answers. Recommended, just don't expect the answers to go too deep.

Her Vampire Husband by Michelle Hauf- In order to bring peace to the warring Werewolf and Vampire clans, Vampire Creed Saint-Pierre is supposed to marry Werewolf Princess Blu Masterson. Neither one wants the wedding, but both are being more or less forced into it. Blu by her father and Creed by pressure from the other vampire Clans. To the Council who has mandated the marriage, Blu must accept Creed's kiss. At first, she is unwilling to accept anything from him. She longs for her former boyfriend, the Werewolf Ryan, as he is less violent and abusive than her family. But when Creed treats her even better than her family and Ryan, she begins to question why she is following what her father and the other Werewolves want her to do. But as she falls deeply in love with Creed, he finds himself falling in love with her as well. And as both sides in the war are going behind each other's backs to cause strife and win the oncoming confrontation. But can Creed and Blu bring the clans into line by their actual love, or will it take more than that to bring actual peace? and is peace even possible? I loved this book. I first found Michelle Hauf from her Luna books series, Seraphim, Gossamyr, Rhiana. I liked that series, and this was the first other book by her I've seen (along with "A Vampire for Christmas", which I have recently acquired and am going to read. I loved this book, and I understand there are more in this series (and I want to find them, honestly!). I loved both characters, and I loved how they came to trust each other more than their respective sides, and I loved how Creed came to appeal to Blu. She seemed so confident. but she merely puts on a good game- she was actually abused, and Creed comes to love her despite his intention to remain unmoved. I also loved how both of them were willing to suffer for their love. Highly recommended.

Touched by Light by Catherine Spangler-Dr. Julia Reynolds is an academic who has been scarred by an encounter with a killer when she was just a young woman. She and her sister have come to the attention of the Sentinels, a group of humans who are the reborn spirits from Ancient Atlantis. But when a Sentinel disappears from the radar, the Sanctioned Adam Masters, who used to be a high priest in Atlantis, comes to Julia, who is his perfect conductor, to try and find the man, as he feels the Sentinel isn't dead, but his presence comes and goes. The man, Matt, has been possessed by a Belian, an evil Atlantean, who was able to take him over because his wife died, and Matt is unable to deal with the loss. Matt's adopted son, Sean, is desperate to find his father, but it isn't until the three of them are joined by Julia's student, Miriam, who is Romany, that they are able to get a lock on Matt. But Julia is troubled, because the man who attacked her and left her permanently injured, Bennett, has just been released from jail, but he wants Julia back, who he felt led him on. And Julia hates Adam, and feels that he and she could never be joined, even though they she is his perfect conductor, and when they do come together, their connection is explosive. But for them both to have any chance, they will have to exorcise the Belian, save Matt and deal with Bennett, and Julia will have to accept that she and Adam are perfect for each other. But can she bring herself to stand his high-handed ways? I thought this book looked interesting, and it was, but to get there, I had to put up with a lot of stuff that was annoying, like the high-handedness of Adam and Julia's extremely annoying prickly personality. Eventually, both of them grew on me, but it was a tough row to hoe to get there. I ultimately found the book rewarding., but this isn't for everyone, and it isn't an author I'd willingly seek out to read more of. YMMV, but a cautious recommendation for me.

The Knight's Broken Promise by Nicole Locke-Gaira of Clan Colquhoun was on her way to visit her sister in the village of Doonhill. Unfortunately, she gets there after the inhabitants have been slaughtered almost to a man by the English. English Knight Robert of Dent, known as Black Robert, goes to the village to see what one of the men under his command has done. There he finds Gaira, her niece and two other children who have survived the battle in the village. Gaira, who is fleeing a man who she was wedded to without her consent, needs to bury the adults and bring the children back to her home clan. But when she knocks out Robert inadvertently, he ends up agreeing to help her get the children back to her clan, the two of them are thrown together, and both of them find themselves falling for the other. By the time her husband comes  to get her back, he believes that she has been unfaithful with Robert, and Robert defends himself and Gaira, they are inextricably bound together. But with both sides let them be together? I liked this book. Medieval romances are my catnip, so this book was right up my alley. I loved both characters, though I did find it a little annoying that Gaira is so open and Robert so closed off. I did like how each fell in love with each other, even though Gaira didn't know who "Black Robert" actually was. And I loved the ending and how they finally ended up together. Recommended.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

2015, Part 8

Pumpkin Scissors, Volume 5 by Ryotaro Iwanaga- As the battle at the ball continues, Alice must win against a skilled Lodelian Bodyguard. But if she wins, can she bring the wrongdoers to justice, all of them, without getting them killed by Section 1? And when the Princess of Lodelia comes to the Empire to try and gauge its readiness, can Machs save the Empire from her wrath? Another really good book, with lots of action and thoughts on nobility. I love the way each section sets off each other, and the section with Machs was really funny and gave insight into his character. Recommended,

Lady's Hazard by Miranda Jarrett- Bethany Penny, one of the three Penny sisters, has made a fortune, like her sisters, from their gaming hell, serving members of the landed and gentry. But she is still more interested in serving food for the poor rather than the spoiled scions of the rich. However, when someone begins poisoning the poor with the food served at the poor kitchens around the city, Bethany considers that the most heinous crime imaginable. To find the culprit, she teams up with Major William Callaway, a titled man who lives more like the poor in the streets. For it seems that all of the men who have been killed are from the military- and are all from the regiment he led. He no longer believes in love or caring, until he finds in Bethany a kindred soul, one who truly does help out of the goodness of her heart. But as their search draws them closer together, can the man who doesn't believe in love and the woman who thought she would never marry find the kind of love that makes them stronger together than apart? I love Miranda Jarrett, and this book is one of the main reasons why. William Callaway has lost faith in everything and Bethany Penny no longer believes in marriage for herself, but through their working together, they find out they were both wrong. An excellent book, but I can't say the villain of the piece caught me entirely by surprise. Recommended.

Angel in Chains by Cynthia Eden- Azrael was once leader of the death Angels, but when his fellow angel Keenan fell over love of a woman, Az was angry. However, he falls for the anger he feels, and when he remembers who he is, he wants nothing more than to reclaim his position as an angel and his status. Howeverm when he sees Jade Pierce being harassed by shifters, he can't help but intervene. She isn't sure who Az is, but she is more frightened for him than for herself. It turns out that when Jade was young, she fell in love with a shifter boy, but his father was abusive and he wasn't much better. But when she finally got up the strength and courage to leave him, he wouldn't let her go. So she made her way on her own. But her former boyfriend and lover wants her back, and is willing to kill anyone who gets in the way of having her- Az included. Az, who has regained his power to kill with a touch, discovers that he can't use it on Jade's ex, because he is part-angel. And her ex wants to get Angel dust, made from destroying Angel's wings. When he can't get them from Az, he summons another angel and destroys her wings. But when Az decides to take the man out, because he wants Jade for himself, how can he destroy an evil shifter who is also part angel? And can Jade love Az, even though he is now a fallen and no longer an angel? I liked this book, because I will have to admit that I really took a dislike to Az in Angel of Darkness. It was nice to see him fall and see how he redeemed himself on the Earth, and also how he fell in love and gave up on being an angel for Jade. I enjoyed it, but seeing Az get his comeuppance was also rather nice, Recommended.

Dearest Rogue by Elizabeth Hoyt- Lady Phoebe Batten is beautiful, but also almost completely blind. To guard her, her brother haa hired Captain James Trevillion, who himself is injured and has a hard time walking. But when she is nearly snatched several times in London, he takes her away to his family estate, disguised as his wife. As for Phoebe, she is angered by the way Trevillion is always there, preventing her from trying to live her life in the way she wants. But when she is dragged agaist his hard body when he rescues her from kidnappers, she soon becomes aware that her irritation covers a very real affection for him, an affection that is quickly turning into something more than just lukewarm. But when he takes her to his boyhood home disguised as his wife, she soon becomes aware that she wishes the role was more real than anything else. Can she convince both James and her brother that this is a good idea? James has longed from Phobe from afar, but when she begins heating things up between them, can he convince her it isn't a good idea, or will he succumb to her charms? I liked this book, especially the byplay between the two characters and how they, despite the damage to their bodies, liked each other for whom they are. Highly recommended.

About a Vampire by Lindsay Sands- Justin Bricker is a Hunter working for the vampire council, but he has been left alone while his partners found their lifemate. He, of course, gave them plenty of advice on how to win their lifemates over. But when Justin meets Holly when she breaks in on him and Anders disposing of Rogues in the mortuary cremation oven, he chases her and causes her to fall, right on the pair of scissors she'd been carrying to use against any zombies who might attack her. With her lifeblood gushing out, and him being unable to control her, He turns her to save her- and now must teach her how to use her powers as an immortal. Only one problem- Holly is married. Holly, for her part, has lived all her life with either her parents or her husband, who she grew up with as her best friend. But when she is abruptly turned immortal by Bricker, she must come to terms with her new, better body, and drinking blood. But when she must return to her husband, how can she give up Bricker, who she got close to? And what will she do if her husband is also a potential lifemate for her? I liked seeing the obnoxious Bricker taken down a peg. He's always been so confident with women, but seeing him struggle to woo Holly (thanks to the interference of his friends) was really amusing, since he previously claimed to know it all. But the ending was nice, and how things neatly knitted up the story was very good and wonderful. Highly recommended.

When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare- In her first London Season, Madeline Gracechurch was so uncomfortable with the crowds and masses of people that she decided to save herself the hassle of catching a husband. On a trip to Brighton to see a relative, she made up a fiancee named Logan MacKensie and claimed she had met and fallen in love with him in the city, and that he had to leave on campaign. In the meantime, she wrote him letters about what she was doing (while talking about how much she hated society and how she was doing this to get out of being married), and when he was no longer useful, she killed him off and "mourned" him. However, when she is willed a castle in the Highlands, she goes there with her aunt Thea. However, soon a man turns up her her door, the real Captain Logan MacKenzie, who has gotten her letters all these years. He is looking for a home for himself and his men, all of whom were wounded and some crippled by the war. He threatens to blackmail Maddie if she doesn't go along with his plan, threatening to expose her using the letters she wrote. So Maddie has no choice but to go along with his plan. But when the flesh and blood man she thought she created begins to actively woo her, and she finds herself not panicking about him, can she keep her heart in line and resist falling in love? Or is her heart already irrevocably lost? And will she still be able to follow her career of being a wildlife illustrator if she gives her heart away to Logan? I loved this book, as it follows Maddy sort of paying for the mistake she made in making up a supposed fiancee to spare herself her fear of crowds and people in large numbers. I also liked Logan and his men, and how she dealt with them all. I also liked that she didn't give up on her dream. Highly Recommended.

The Dream Maker's Magic by Sharon Shinn- Kellen's mother gave birth to her away from home, but she insists that she gave birth to a boy, not a girl. Therefore, Kellen was raised as a boy would be, and her father, a traveling trader, stayed only as long as he could deal with his wife. When a truth-teller came to the village and her mother dragged Kellen to see her, the truth-teller told her that Kellen had been born a girl- had always been a girl. But her mother was still unable to accept the truth. When she went to school, she met a boy named Gryffin, the son of the local innkeeper, who, unbeknownst to most, horribly abused Gryffin after he was forced to take the boy in. Kellen has two dreams, to have her mother accept her, and for Gryffin to be safe and well. But when the village is visited by the Dream-Maker, now an old woman, can she make those two dreams come true for Kellen. When she goes to find Kellen to bring him to the Dream-Maker, she finds she cannot- he has gone missing. The next day, after the Dream-Maker leaves, she finds that his uncle had dragged him out of town, beat him again, further damaging his already-weak legs, and left him in the woods to die. Kellen rescues him and takes him to work with her, ensuring he has a place with an old schoolmate of theirs. Then word comes through the land- the Dream-Maker's magic has passed on. And it seems that Gryffin has it. But when they must separate for a yeat, will Gryffin remember Kellen at the end of it, and can they have any kind of future together? I loved this book, which was a continuation of The Safe-Keeper's Secret and The Truth-Teller's Tale. A Dream Maker has the power to make wishes come true, but only for others, and not for themselves. And their powers come from the hard lives they have led. But can Gryffin make Kellen's dreams come true? I loved the poignancy of this romantic story and how Kellen saves Gryffin and in the end, he saves her. I loved every aspect of the story and the many characters in it, even Kellen's mother. This is a book you simply must read. Highly recommended.

Rise of the Gryphon by Sherrilyn Kenyon and Dianna Love - Evalle is an Alterant, a human mixed with some sort of supernatural race. She fights trolls, demons and other sorts of deadly things, but she is an outcast among the Beladors who serve the Druids. More than anything, she wants to find out her origins and help the Beladors, getting back in their good graces. In hopes of catching a traitor among the Beladors and rescue a friend they captured, she tries to infiltrate the deadly Medb coven in hopes of finding out informtation, along with her partner, Storm, a deadly Skinwalker. But when she is tricked into donning a bracelet intended to lead her into a trap, Evalle must try to keep Storm, now her lover as well as her partner, safe. And to do that, she must enter a deadly fighting competition against other Alterants and win, becoming one of the finalists. Dogged by a young witch whose powers are growing, and the leader of the coven from becoming immortal, along with her Dark Druid mate, Cathbad. But when it turns out the leader of the Medb needs the strongest Alterants for an attack on the Belador home dimention, can Evalle find the answers she needs while keeping her friends and lover safe? And what do the Medb know about the Alterants, anyway? I liked this book despite not having read the other books in the series, but the story hung together anyway. I wasn't completely sure of all the players and details, but it's a great novel withg plenty of interesting twists and turns. Recommended.

A Call to Arms by David Weber, Timothy Zahn and Thomas Pope- Travis Long is an excellent spacer with one little hang-up: rules are meant to be followed. Living in a time where most commanders are slack about enforcing those rules, Travis has run into many problems in the Manticoran navy. Now, there are problems in the admiralty, with the politician in charge of MPARS agitating for increasing the size of MPARS and decreasing the size of the navy, Travis' brother is working with Winterfall to do his bidding. But with a mercenary group, the Volslungs, seeking to conquer Manticore to secure a possible Wormhole Junction on the edge of Manty space, it's up to Travis and his fellow spacers to try and keep Manticore free and destroy the ships of the Volslungs. Thankfully, they have been ill-informed about the ships in the Manticoran forces by a traitor, and it's possible that MPARS and its ships being the only thing standing between Victory and Defeat. But as Travis tries his best to keep his ship and Captain alive, can he be s decisive factor in the battle for Mantcore? I liked this book, esecially the growing romance between Travis and Lisa Donnelly, and the final battle in Manticore space. This was a seriously good book, and I can't wait to read more. Highly recommended.

The Legacy of Lehr by Katherine Kurtz- Mather Seton and Dr. Wallace Hamilton are a husband and wife team sent to Beta-Geminorum to bring Lehr cats back to the emperor for his menagerie. No sooner do they have the highly-intelligent, psychically active cats on board the ship Valkyrie that strange things begin happening on board. The cats, supposedly demons to a number of alien races, seem to be killing and attacking people on board the Valkyrie. But both Seton and Wallace, and their men, believe that it is impossible for the cats to escape from their cages. When scraps of blue cat fur are left behind at the scenes of the attacks, and the victims appear to have been carved up by claws, everyone suspects the cats as the culprits... but are they really? And how can they prove it if the cats aren't at fault? This was a great sci-fi mystery, with an entirely sci-fi ending, and wonderful characters and alien races. Highly recommended,

Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare- The daughter of a prominent author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight is down to nearly her last penny when she hears she has inherited a castle from the Earl of Lynforth, she travels there, only to be confronted by the nearly fully-blind  Ransom, Lord Rothbury, who contests her ownership of the estate. But with nowhere else to go, Izzy can't leave, and she intends to stay in the castle, defending her claim on it, for as long as she can. But while Izzy has grown up on stories of love and romance, it seems she has outgrown them all, except perhaps for the one of beauty and the beast- especially if the beast is a lord who no longer believes in love or dreams, and especially hates the sort of faerytales that Izzy's father wrote. But he is willing to employ her to help him read through his backlog of mail and find out why her uncle thought he owned Ransom's castle. But as they share his home and Izzy keeps falling for Ransome, he realizes he can no longer live without her- even if the Moranglians (followers of her father's tales) keep showing up at the castle dressed in medieval garb and knightly armor. But now Ransom's solicitors want him declared insane- apparently so that their tricking his accounts is dismissed. But when he chooses that moment to propose to Izzy, can she keep him safe from Bedlam and accept his proposal as well? I liked this book- it was a cross between fairy tales and true love, and I did sort of suspect the twist that Ransom figured out along the way. I liked Izzy and I like Ransom, and their romance is wonderful. Naturally, it takes some time for Ransom to warm up to Izzy, but I really liked them both, and the ending when he declares his love for her is wonderful. Recommended.

Angel Betrayed by Cynthia Eden- Sammael, known better as Sam is a former Death Angel who fell from Heaven when he decided to kill humans who had attacked a village, killed women and children, but not before raping them horribly. Ever since then, he has been cast out on the Earth. But now he is approached by a woman named Seline O'Shaw, who claims she needs protection from some people who are intent upon killing her. Sam turns her down, but when she is attacked on the street, he takes her to one of his many homes to keep her safe- only to find out that Seline is a succubus- or part succubus, to be honest. He's expecting her to betray him, but he's not expecting her to intrigue him. And when it turns out that Seline is working for a punishment Angel named Rogziel, who wants to punish all the fallen angels on earth, the two of them end up working together to defeat the Punishment Angel, who is going after fallen who fell for things like love. When he starts killing even relatively innocent Fallen, Sam decides to take him on- and also his brother Az, who Rogziel has imprisoned in his base and is torturing. But when Rogziel also decides to kill Seline, that's when Sam hits his limit. How far is Sam willing to go to save the woman he loves, and, more importantly, how far is she willing to go for him? When they are separated between love and hell, can anything on earth reunite them? Or are they fated to be separated forever? This is the second book in the Fallen series, but I really ended up liking it. Sammael is usually equated with Satan in a lot of religion, but Sam is strong, hard and uncompromising, much like his angel-self used to be. He's also possibly the first fallen angel and we get to see others who fell for a variety of reasons, from love to curiosity, to wanting to protect their human. We also get to see different kinds of angels from guardian angels to punishment angels to messenger angels, not just the Death Angels. This expanded the universe in a very good way, and we also got to see Uriel, one of the major angels (archangels) in the story as well. I liked how the dichotomy of Seline was revealed, as you would think someone half angel, half devil would be quite... different. Highly recommended.

The Disaster Profiteers: How Natural Disasters make the Rich Richer and the Poor Even Poorer by John C. Mutter- Natural disasters happen, but you might expect that when they do, both rich and poor are given equal chance to come out from under the debris and rebuild, rebuild better and rebuild stronger. Or maybe not in less equal societies, where the ones in charge don't distribute aid equally, but surely in America, that isn't the case... Sadly, though, even in America, in areas struck by any kind of disaster, the poor end up less well off and the Rich are barely touched, and even get more of the pie than they did before. Mutter shows why this happens- even in countries like the US, but also in places like Haiti, South Korea and Thailand. It really opened my eyes to how unequally even our society distributes wealth and why it's the poor who have the hardest time when even everyone loses just about everything they have. A fascinating book. Recommended.

The Turning Season by Sharon Shinn- Karadel is a vet in the tiny little town of Quinton, living on the edge of town and trying to live a normal life. But Karadel is a shifter, and not really very normal at all. At any time, she can suddenly feel the shift come upon her and have to hurry home to throw off her human clothes and revert to being some sort of animal. And when she has animals to feed and look after, it's even harder. But luckily, she has people around her, humans and shifters both, who know who and what she is and take care of her as much as she takes care of them when they shift or become injured. People like Bonnie, a human who is raising a shifter named Alonzo with her lover Aurelia. Celeste, another shifter who maintains a happy-go-lucky attitude towards life, and Ryan, another shifter who is Karadel's ex-boyfriend, who tries to lighten her up and who is the male "twin" of Celeste. But complications come to Karadel's life when a local man tries to rape Celeste outside in the alley of a new nightclub they went to. Karadel has bonded with Joe, one of the Bouncers, and as they get closer, chaos rises from Celeste's having turned into a bobcat and clawed the man to get away. But as Karadel deals with inconvenient shifts and her new boyfriend, an even bigger dose of chaos comes to town when someone attempts to abduct Celeste and hurts her very badly. Ryan is furious, and when he goes out for vengeance on the two men who hurt her, all the shifters Karadel knows are caught up in the battle. Can Karadel find the normality she wants amid the backdrop of what is going on in town, and can she prevent one of her friends from making a mistake with their life? I wasn't sure what to expect from this series, but this is very much like a literary novel, only with shapeshifters. Or, to quote the title of the earlier book in this series, "Still Life with Shape-Shifter". It seems so ordinary a book, but at the same time, somehow profound and at all times wonderful and amazing. Each of the characters is well and exquisitely drawn, and I loved reading it. I even read it twice- that's just how good it is. Highly Recommended.

Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and more tell us about Crime by Val McDermid- Val McDermid is a mystery writer, and these days, whether you are writing police procedurals or any other kind of mystery, you'll want to keep yourself up to date on the whos, hows, Whats and Whys of forensics, which is all about gathering clues from many different sources to either find suspects or eliminate ones already found by the police detectives. This book covers ten different areas of clue detection and also how the clues are collected at the scene and, finally, used and abused in the courtroom itself. The book covers fire scenes, bugs, DNA, facial reconstruction, Pathology, Toxicology, Anthropology, Digital Forensics and more on its way to showing us how many ways there are now to ferret out clues as to who killed this person and how- the why usually belongs to Psychiatry. It's a fascinating book that covers everything in a fairly fine detail and shows how the science in question was used in real-life crimes to solve the old "Whodunnit?" question. While there are other books out there for writers that give more detail (usually in a single book about a single kind of detection, this book gives a fascinating overview of it all. Highly recommended, whether you're a writer or just fascinated with things like the CSI series.

Siren's Call by Jane Castle- Ella Morgan is a song talent, a very strong one- specifically, she can sing people into sleep- or death. Her kind is known as a Siren, and she is used to people thinking of her as some kind of monster. But when she sings a killer about to marry her friend into a sleep to prevent him from killing her or her friend, she is happy to have her skills and powers. Shortly, though, she leaves the company she is employed at to become a freelance dream interpreter- and in her first case, she helps a dust bunny to free its friends from a man who wants to use them to test out an old alien relic- a destructive one. While on the case, she meets Rafe Coppersmith, son of a rich family dealing in mining, who has recently found a new area under the island of Rainshadow. The two of them connect, and he promises to take her on a date. Shortly thereafter, he is recalled to Rainshadow to help his family, and falls prey to a horrible psy-fever that is destroying his mental talent. But he returns to Ella to hire her, because his family needs her help with Dinosaurs that prey by using their own songs to hunt in the Wonderland Area under Rainshadow. Rafe, even if he suspects Ella is a Siren, needs her help too badly to let her turn him down. And when he saves her from men trying to abduct them, is willing to leave with Rafe to go to Rainshadow. But she will be taking along Lorelei, the Dust Bunny who adopted her after she saved its friends. Now, in the catacombs underneath Rainshadow, can Ella keep everyone alive while steering Rafe through the depts. of his psy-fever? I loved this book. I loved Ella's powers and her struggle to hide them, and I loved the revelation of music talents and what she was capable of. Moreover, I loved Lorelei and the rest of the dust bunnies and how Ella came up with a new profession for Rafe after his talent shifts. In short, I loved everything, and I suspect the next novel will have something to do with the city of Ghosts and Fog. I love this series very much. Highly recommended,

An Arranged Marriage by Jo Beverley- When Eleanor Chivenham was young, she hated her brother for his unbridled lifestyle. When he sold her home out from under her, she had no choie by the terms of her father's will but to move in with him. But when he sells her for the night to an Earl who believes she is a lightskirt, she can no longer stay with him and leaves, running away, even if she does lose her money to her brother by doing so. When the Earl finds her again, he explains that it wasn't him who took her innocence, but his brother, who has returned to Paris in the meantime. But if she is pregnant, the child will be part of his family, so he will take care of her until his brother returns and can be persuaded to marry her. When he does marry her, Nicolas promises her to tell her the truth, unless he cannot. He also lets slip to her that it really was his brother who got her with child, but Christopher likes men instead of women and thus cannot marry her, which makes her distrust hos brother. Meanwhile, Nicolas must try to win the heart of a female spy and prostitute to get her to turn over the knowledge she has to England about a plot against the Emperor of France, but when Eleanor has tried to make her life with Nicolas worth living, he finds he cannot pretend to be in love with another woman when it is Eleanor he loves. And as they grow further apart, can they ever find their way back to each other before he is forced to go the distance with Madam Bellaire? I liked this book. Jo Beverley writes/wrote some really good romances, and some of my favorites of the 1980's. This book is from the 1990's, but she still has her charms. I don't know if I would have been as patient as Eleanor is with Nicolas, but I loved reading this book and it took me back to everything I loved about Jo Beverley. Recommended,

The Marriage Test by Bettina Krahn- Griffin de Grandaise is gifted with a sense of smell that is extremely potent, so much so that a smell which is merely unpleasant  to ordinary people is like a whiff of pure garbage to him. Also, it means that food made with substandard ingredients or even spoiled ingredients, is pure garbage to him and he cannot eat it. So he has looked for the perfect chef to suit his tastes for years. Joanne of Childress is the daughter of a former nobleman who was dumped into the convent of the Brides of Virtue when she was only a child. Thanks to her cooking, the convent has enjoyed unusual peace and serenity among the nuns and novitiate. The abbess wants Joanne to take vows, but Joanne has no such calling and wishes to be free to be a normal woman, even though she truly enjoys cooking. So when two of Grandaise's men stumble on the convent and sample her cooking, it is rumors of her cooking that draw Grandaise to the Convent of the Brides of Virtue. But when the Bishop and the Duke of Avalon are also feasting there, it means the Abbess cannot simply send Grandaise away. Instead, he leases her from the church for one year and agrees to return her to the convent with her virtue intact, or be punished by the King of France. Meanwhile, Grandaise's neighbor Verdun believes that Joanne is merely a mistress, and since he is to marry his daughter to Grandaise, which he is against, he decides to make Grandaise marry Joanne, thus bringing the King and Church's wrath upon his head, and marry his daughter off to a fat German Prince. But when Joanne and Verdun's daughter Sophie decide to take it into their own hands to solve things, can the men do anything but go along? And will the true culprit behind the incidents between the two Noble lords feud ever be brought to justice? This was an older book, but the story was very interesting, it being all about Medieval cooking and cookery. In fact, Bettina Krahn said she tried to make the dishes as authentic as possible to medieval recipes and at the same time, delicious-sounding to modern ears. In this, she succeeded, and I really enjoyed reading the book and the sensuality of food and taste revealed within. Highly effective and wonderful. Recommended.

Drink of Me by Jacquelyn Frank- In the outlands where the Jakals wander, torturing and killing people to feed on their pain and despair also live the Sange, who drink blood in the act of passion with their mates and are thereby feared. So when a woman who feels sorrow very deeply is rescued by Reule, leader of the Sange, he cannot help but try to help her, as he can feel her sorrow beating on him. But when she awakes, she is amnesiac, unable even to remember her own name, and when Darcio, his shadow, tries to read the memory of her body, it seems that she was wounded before she crawled to where he found her, but just remembering that far back hurts. Reule names her "Mystique, and before long, she saves one of his broodpack from dying with her ability to take on the pain and wounds of others to heal. Taking the place of the Physician she ousted, he finds himself falling for her and making her his Prima, or wife. But when people who look like Mystique, the Yesu, come to the Sange city looking for a murderess, Reule knows they mean Mystique, but can she regain yher memories and remember why these men seek her and provide a true explanation to what actually went on, or will Rye, Reule's heir cast her out for her crime without listening to the truth? I like Jacquelyn Frank's exquisite romances among peoples who aren't human and have never been human. Like this one, which apparently takes place in a very different world than the Nightwalkers/ Shadowdwellers universe. All we learn of here are the Sange, the Jakal and the Yesu, none of which I am aware of from the other series.. Nonetheless, I liked the interesting world, the characters, and the Sange, which are analogous to vampires while not actually being vampires (having fangs and drinking blood are the only two things Sange and vampires have in common.. Nevertheless, I loved the world-building and the glimpses of the world and peoples we saw. Highly recommended,

Closer to the Heart by Mercedes Lackey- with the crisis of Amily taking over as King's Own from her father, Nikolas finally past them and Amily and Mags in love and to be married, the King has decided to make political hay from their marriage by turning it into a low-key diplomatic event. However, the ambassador from Menmellith comes riding into Haven, the Capital of Valdemar, hell-bent for leather with horrible news- the Regency Council that rules Menmellith for the ten-year old boy who rules as King has heard of a horrible plot against the King by one of the Lords passed over by the Regent Council, and he is backing his bid against the King with weapons purchased in Valdemar- bearing the marks of Valdemaran swordmakers. The King has no idea of who bought the weapons or where they are coming from, and who, if anyone in Valdemar, is behind the plot. With no time to waste, Mags, Nikolas and Amily must look into the matter, and one of Amily's latest ideas, of a service to train unwanted spinsters for working for the crown in the guise of "Crown Approved Maids", recruits a young woman named Keira, who is willing to do anything for Valdemar, even give up her purity, if it helps the Kingdom. So as Nikolas goes among the master smiths to find out who purchased the weapons, Mags, Keira, Lord Jorun, Nikolas's mentor and a former street boy named Coot go amongst the Mine-Owners to see who might have lent money to this venture. But as the King attempts to keep a diplomatic delegation delayed by coming up with ploys to keep them from making easy headway through Vakdemar, Mags and Amily are kidnapped from the grounds of the collegium itself. But can they escape from their jailer and put paid to his plans? I loved this book- I loved how Mags and Amily forestalled all the fuss over their wedding by getting married on their own beforehand and the way the structures they'd set up helped them track down the actual plotter and put his plans to an end. While I am getting over the constant irritation over Mags' tortured dialect, I still wish he'd talk like the other characters, as it takes me twice as long to read a line written in his own way of speaking than "normal" speech. Highly recommended,

Redeemed by P.c. Cast and Kristin Cast- Former head of the Tulsa House of Night and agent of Chaos Neferet has returned from her exile with a bang, killing an entire church full of worshippers and taking over the hotel where she once lived in the Penthouse. Now, styling herself a goddess, she's killed sixty people and used their deaths and their souls to barricade herself within. Meanwhile, Zoey Redbird is in the jail at the Tulsa Police Department, taking the blame for two homeless men she killed by accident. But, as it turns out, she didn't kill them after all, Neferet did soon after she emerged from her cocoon. Freed of the responsibility for atoning for those deaths, Zoey returns to the House of Night with the idea to call a meeting and decide how to deal with Neferet. Along with her are the teachers, including Lenobia, and Thanatos and all of the "Nerd Herd", including Aphrodite and Darius, Kalona, Rephaim, Aurox and Detective Marx, among others. Meanwhile, back in the Hotel, Neferet gets an event planner to work for her, under threat of death or sacrifice to Neferet's chaos allies, and Thanatos sets up a barrier of flame around the city, including around the hotel. So when Neferet sends her event planner out to try and get 1920's costumes for a ritual Neferet wants her to set in motion, Neferet's minions are burned and destroyed while the Stockholm-Syndrome'd planner is left unharmed. Meanwhile, Aphrodite has received a vision that the Goddess wants Zoey to use the old Magic to defeat Neferet, but to do so without running into the same problem as Neferet, she must be pure of intent. But how can Zoey guarantee that? Deaths mount as Neferet takes out Kalona, who is no longer immortal, and Zoey agrees that he deserves a second chance, allowing him to return to the side of the Goddess Nyx. But as deaths mount on both sides, can Zoey discover how she needs to defeat Neferet and the Old Magic she needs to use? For the last book in the series, everything came down to several battles, but each one, and the ending, were, frankly, perfect in my view. Yes, plenty of people died, both the good and the wicked, but I loved the ending and I was glad to have read the entire series up to this point. The last few pages of the book were beautiful and I hope I can read more stories set in this world. Highly recommended.

An Ancient Peace by Tanya Huff- The Galactic Council is made up of the Elder Races and the Younger Races. The younger races were brought in to fight a war for the Elder Races that they were no longer capable of fighting, having evolved past the need for fighting and war. But the war turned out to he an experiment set up by polymorphous plastic aliens as a social experiment and now the war is over. Some among the younger races, however, are still looking for conflict, and someone has gone in search of the home system of the H'san to raid their tomb planet, because apparently long ago, the H'san had horrendous weapons and buried them with their dead. Now, artifacts are coming onto the market, so ex-Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr and her team, including her husband Craig, must go in search of the H'san System and whoever is plundering the tombs of the long-dead H'san. Backtracking the artifacts sold on the planet of Abalae, they discover that the seller was a Katrien named Jamers. Also, her family was a dependent of the Katrien named Presit, a journalist that theyw worked with  to cover the threat of the plastic aliens. Presit promised to go in search of Jamers for her family's ruling female, but apparently the location of the original H'san homeworld is known to the Elder races. Unbeknownst to them all, the team sent in search of the weapons is now stuck on the planet, fighting off a wave of H'san zombies (actually, animated dead bodies through science, and only Torin and her Team can get them out. But the planet doesn't give up its secrets easily, and escaping is harder than it seems. Can Torin recover the other team, leave behind the weapons and bring her own team safely home?, or will the H'san planet be the death of them all? I really like Tanya Huff and her writing, and this series brings back one of my favorite characters of her, Confederation Marine Torin Kerr. This time, she is transitioning from being a soldier to working for the Bureau of Justice, and while most of her team are ex-military, Torin is still suffering from dreams and nightmares from her time at war. I liked this book, and the story was interesting, but seeing the team take on challenges and work together, unlike the other team, was interesting and great, to see the example to be like and not to be like. I wonder if any of the people she rescued will end up joining her in the future. Highly recommended.

Darkness on his Bones by Barbara Hambly- James Asher is an Oxford Don who used to be a spy for England. But when he is injured and nearly dies in Paris, it is his wife, Lydia, who comes to his rescue. James nearly died when someone threw him from the steeple of a Church, and through his dreams and memories, it seems that someone in Paris is after a vampiric artifact known as the Fascinum that is said to ensure powers over vampires so that they obey the elder vampire who has it to the best of their ability. But not only the vampires are seeking it, but the German High Command as well, and Asher wanted to destroy it so that no one could get their hands on it, as it would be dangerous no matter who had it. But apparently, he got closer in his investigations than he realized, because someone tried to kill him. Now, the only way to save his life is to find the Fascinum and to do that, Lydia must call on the vampire who first introduced James to the world of the undead, Don Simon Ysidro. But can the three of them working together find the truth behind the existence of the Fascinum and escape to England before the Germans overrun Paris at the start or World War I? I loved this book. Some of it is told in flashback, as James Asher remembers in his coma, while other parts are as Don Ysidro remembers when he was both human and vampire in Paris. It's an excellent book and I loved peering into all its corners and secrets, like an antiquarian book. Highly recommended,

I re-read Astronomy by Ian Ridpath, specifically the part about the constellations.

Hell's Foundations Quiver by David Weber- The Fight by Charis, Corisande, Emerald and Chisholm against the Church of God Awaiting is still ongoing, but while the church lands fight to keep up with the technical advances of the Heretics, the church is coming closer and closer to the realization that this might be a battle they could lose, a realization that Zhaspar Clyntahn, chief Vicar of the Church, fights tooth and claw, but others in the church are not as blinkered as Clyntahn when it comes to the truth. But even as the fight goes on, it seems that there is another faction in the church, the followers of Kohdy, who have the journal of Seijin Kohdy from the time that the church was established and fought against Shan-wei. But will they be on the side of the church, or the side of the rebels against the Church of God Awaiting? And as the battles heat up, can the rebels recruit Earl Thirsk of Dohlar when Zhaspar Clyntahn decides to take his family hostage to ensure he doesn't go over to the enemy? And can they let the Earl know that before Clyntahn decides to do something irrevocable? I loved this book. It's a mix of fighting, wars and battle and philosophy and talking, but the long war is having an effect on everyone, including the PICA of Nimue Alban, now fighting as Merlin Athrawes, and his "sister, also known as Nimue, who Merlin wants to keep safe from the bad acts he's had to perform. Merlin is getting a bit stressed and I can only wait to see how it plays out in the future, and I want to see Clyntahn and the Gang of Four get what is coming to them. Highly recommended.

Edge of Darkness by Christine Feehan, Maggie Shayne and Lori Herter- This is a book of three short stories/novelettes. "Dark Crime" by Christine Feehan is about Blaze McGuire, whose father, a former Marine, is killed by a criminal family. Since he taught Blaze, and her friend, Emeline, everything he knew about defense, and Blaze about explosives as well, Blaze decides to get revenge on the four men who killed her father and tossed him into the street like a piece of trash. The only person on her side, with Emeline in Europe. is another crime lord, Tariq Asengard, and his partner, Maksim Volkov. But that might be more than she knows when it turns out that Coonan, head of the Criminal Syndicate that the Halloran brothers help him run, is a Vampire, and Maksim is a Carpathian dedicated to destroying Coonan. But when Blaze is forced to take the fight to Coonan, can she and her new mate, Maksim, pull off the task? In "Dead by Twilight" by Maggie Shayne, Chloe Madison, a vampire Cop is on the track of someone who has been killing people as a vampire does. So when she saves Shepard Daniels, a BCD cop who is also on the trail of the killers. Chloe hates vamires, and so does Daniels, but when they come together on the Vampire Crimes unit,  each finds themselves rethinking that idea. But can they track down the vampire behind the crimes? "Cimmaron Spirit" by Lori Herter has Annie Carmichael, an Archgaeologist, working on a Anasazi ruin on land owned by Brent Logan, who wants her to marry him. But at the same time, she is connecting with Rafael de La Vega, who also claims the land the ruin sits on. But when she discovers that Rafael is also a vampire who lairs in the ruins, can she choose between the two men, or risk giving up everything that matters to her? This was an okay book. I am getting tired of reading the "mate bonding" tat Christine Feehan writes about. It was boring me so badly, I skipped over that part, and lost nothing from the story. Literally. I was more interested in the conflict between Blaze and the Halloran brothers than I was in the bonding of Maksim and Blaze. I also smelled a sequel coming with emeline and I just... didn't care. I think Christine Feehan is going to drop out of my reading list for a while. My favorite story was the one by Maggie Shayne, as she brought back in characters from her Silhouette Shadows series, and it was welcome to see them. Recommended, but not for everyone.

Lord Fenton's Folly by Josi S. Kilpatrick- Charles Theler, known as Lord Fenton, first met Alice Stanbridge  when they were children. But in an attempt to irritate his father into seeing him as a man backfires and has him close to losing his birthright, his only choice is to beg his mother for help. His mother brokers a deal with his father and Fenton must shape up, take an interest in the estate, and marry- and Fenton, who lives in utter horror of marriage, chooses Alice Stanbridge as his bride, with the urging of his mother. Alice has been in love with him since she was a girl, but when she finds out that Fenton only picked her because she was convenient, she is outraged and treats him with disdain. Now, as his mother grows sicker, there is only one thing that can bring them back together- their mutual regard for Lord Fenton's mother and the secrets that wait on Foxcroft, his mother's dower estate. But will the secrets revealed there bring them together or shatter them completely apart? This book was kind of a meh. It looks like a magnified version of the Harlequin Historicals, and that is pretty much what you are getting. There isn't really much romance- Lord Fenton and his bride never share so much as a lusty moment together until the very end of the book, and even then, if it happens, it happens off-screen. Also , the book reminded me a bit of a Inspirational romance, only without the religion parts. It was okay, but it didn't make me impressed with the writer or the publisher. Neither recommended nor not recommended.

Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews- Kate Daniels lived life as a mercenary, until her father returned. a mage centuries old, she fought him to keep him from taking over Atlanta. Now, Kate and her boyfriend/mate Curran, formerly the Beast Lord of Atlanta, are trying to live life on their own, but their pack ties are bringing him problems. Monetary problems. To solve it, the pack tries to cede the Mercenary Guild, which they own shares in, to Curran to pay him for his own investments in pack businesses. Unless Curran is willing to destroy those businesses he backed, he can't be paid any other way. But the Guild is in disarray and they are dealing with a magical artifact that can take anyone over. When that impacts the Guild, Curran decides the only way to save the Guild is to take it over and make sure it is done right. But when their problem is an Efreet straight out of Persian lore, can all of the guild, even with Kate and Curran's help, take it on? And Kate's father isn't out of the picture, either. He wants a relationship with Kate, but how can she keep him from pushing her into taking over the entire city? I really enjoyed this book. It's nice to see Kate and Curran thriving and Kate's adopted daughter, Julie. I liked all the set pieces and the story behind the Efreet and why it was after a member of the pack. and I really liked the battle at the end, with members of the pack helping Curran out. It was a win/win and I loved every minute of it. Recommended.

A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourne- Veronica Speedwell is a lepidopterist who has just buried her last aunt and is looking forward to starting out on a new expedition to Malaysia. The vicar of the church where she and her aunt have been living wants her to marry a local farmer with six children, but she most definitely does not, and says so. But when she returns to her cottage only to find it is being burgled, she is rescued by a German noble, Count Von Stauffenburg, who tells her that her life is in danger and she needs to come with him. Since the Count is an old man, she agrees and he takes her to London and puts her into the care of an old friend of his named Stoker. But when news comes that the count had been killed, Stoker takes his promise to take care of her seriously and whisks her off into the countryside to keep her safe and discover why her life is in danger. There, she learns that the Count is not the only man who was looking for her- but why? While she is not a virgin and likes men (especially foreign men, and is attracted to Stoker, she also refuses to get into relationships with English men, so while she finds him super-attractive, she decides not to touch him because he could cause her to be labeled a fallen woman if their relationship got out, But Veronica's secrets may be more interesting than she thinks... or knows. Can she and Stoker find out the truth, and take on the ones who want her? I liked this book, which was first in a new series, I suspect that Stoker and Veronica will end up married at some point, but I liked their byplay and the science that they clearly both knew. A really excellent book with engaging characters and a wonderful mystery. Highly recommended,

Fool Me Once by Steve Hockensmith with Lisa Falco- Alanis McLachlan is the daughter of a con-woman. When her mother died, she took over the White Magic Five and Dime to make amends to all the people that her mother fleeced. So when Marsha, an abused wife and her mother's most profitable clients, comes looking for help with dealing with her husband, Alanis tries to help- but Marsha's husband ends up dead, and the police are looking at Marsha as the killer. It's up to Alanis to find out what is really going on, and figure out who the real killer or killers are. But can she do it without falling into the clutches of the police herself? I don't remember reading the first book in the series, but I liked the chapter headings, which are the suit of wands as interpreted by Alanis' mother. And not only does Alanis have to deal with baggage from her mother, but an actual family of shady con-men and grifters, and competition from right across the street, along with a good man and another con, and trying to live her life honestly. On the other hand, every time they mentioned her name, my mind filled in "... Morisette", which was a bit ditracting. Recommended.

No. 6 Volume 1 by Atsuko Asano, Art by Hinoki Kino- Twelve year old Shion is smart enough to have it all in City Number six, but loses it when he gives sanctuary to a young boy named Rat who has escaped from confinement and bears a violence chip implanted in him. Shion and his mother are ousted from Chronos, the high-class area of the city and forced to move to Lost City, the low-class area of Number six. But when Shion and his co-worker find a dead man in the park they overse, it's a puzzle, because the man was young but looks desiccated and old. When the same thing happens to Shion's co-worker the very next day, Shion sees a black bee emerge from the body, and he is apprehended by agents of the city who claim Shion is responsible for the deaths. He is saved by Rat, who helps Shion flee the city to the area outside, where Shion soon finds that he, too, is infected. But can Rat help him cut out the infection before Shion can die, and what will be the effects if he can? This was an interesting beginning to the series, and I found it to be somewhat horrifying, but given that the center of the city was called "Moondrop", yet looked like a giant beehive gave me bad vibes. Very bad vibes. So I am sort of looking forward to reading the rest, and at the same time, not looking forward to it. It seems like this might possibly turn into a horror manga. Still, recommended.

No. 6 Volume 2 by Atsuko Asano, Art by Hinoki Kino- Shino has survived his encounter with the black bee, but the shock has turned his hair white and left a red line around his body. Now that he has escaped the city, he must learn to survive in the West Block, the outside of the city where people struggle to get into the city or live out fairly hopeless lives beyond its walls. But while Shion, never having to survive on his own before, struggles to live his life in a new way, he and Rat start piecing together the truth about the city, helped by a former boyfriend of Shion's mother, Karan. And inside the city, scientists and administrators discuss how to make No. "A holy city" in more than name. Shion wants to save the city where he spent most of his life, but Rat tells him that if Shion tries to save the city, that will make them enemies. Shion and Rat also meet with Dog-Keeper, a person who rents Dogs to people staying in the halls of an old hotel to keep warm. Dog Keeper acts as an informant for Rat, but they have something of antagonistic relationship. The scientists in the city talk about needing a female subject, and Shion's longtime friend Safu must return to the city when her grandmother dies. This was a bit more confusing than the first volume, but shows us how conditions are in the area outside the city and why people are desperate to get in there. We get no more real clues about the Black Bees (or possibly wasps), but the fact that they need a female subject right before we see Safu return doesn't bode well for Safu. I'm still waiting to see where this story is going. Recommended.

The Scottish Play Murder by Anne Rutherford-Suzanne Thornton's company of players work out of the Globe Theatre, but when an actor named Diarmuid Ramsay demands the lead in the play of Macbeth, and plays himself as if he were actually Macbeth, Suzanna and the other actors are torn between envy at Diarmuid's abilities to transform himself into the part and superstition about putting on a play so seemingly cursed. But when a player and minor musician is found dead soon afterwards, Susanna finds herself once more thrust into the role of sleuth to try and discover who might have wanted their drum player dead. Added to rumors that  Diarmuid Ramsay is possibly a conman who makes off with all women's valuables, and an argument between Diarmuid and a pirate that resulted in the death of the pirate as well. With no one seeming to trust Ramsay and Susanna not sure if she can trust him with her heart, not to mention her possessions, she must decide if she will allow Ramsay into her life or stay with her former beaux Daniel.  I liked this book as well, with interesting characters, and Susanna herself is one of the better ones. A former prostitute and player who is cautious about giving her heart and her body, especially since she works with her son and former love. I liked all the characters and am eager to see what happens with Diarmuid Ramsay in the future. Recommended,

The Stockholm Castle Mystery by Joyce Elson Moore- When former soldier Johan Sokolewski travels to Stockholm to attend a college for music, he is instead told to go to the castle and gets a job as a royal musician. But on the night before he arrives, a goldsmith is killed while examining some of the treasure the Queen, Cristina, inherited from her father. But also, a Bible named the Silver Bible is stolen from the same library where the Goldsmith was killed. The Queen Mother, Eleonora, is very upset at the theft, and decides that she will investigate who might have taken the book. She uses her dwarves as a jury and decides that Zofia, the court astrologer and alchemist, is the culprit, and that she stole the book for her father. But Johan has met Zofia and thinks it absurd that she might have stolen it. When he expressed this to the Queen Mother, she puts him in charge of an investigation to clear Zofia, and if he cannot find the true culprit within 20 days, Zofia will be thrown in jail. Johan isn't used to being a detective, but he enlists Gunne, one of Eleonora's dwarves, to help him. But can he discover the true culprit when he never knew any of these people before a few days ago? And can he keep Zofia's good opinion in the process? I've never read any books by Joyce Elson Moore before, but I really enjoyed this book. The castle is a bit bland- I mean, it could be anywhere, not just Stockholm, but I hope that future books flesh out the Swedish background of the series in a more specific way. Recommended.

Inspector Colbeck's Casebook by Edward Marston- This book is collection of thirteen short stories set in the world of "The Railway Detective". The last tale in the book was written first and is very different from the series, because the short story was written before the series. "Wetting the Coal" has the body of a guard found in a coal bunker and Colbeck must discover who killed him,  "Rain, Steam and Speed" has a valuable picture of a train stolen neat a train stop, and the nobleman who wants the picture to go on display is offered the picture back... for a price, But who are the thieves? "The Railway Church" has a murdered body found in the first church ever built by a Railway, Colbeck must discover who killed Claude Exton, "A Family Affair" has a retired railway official robbed of his wallet, Colback and Leeming must discover who the thief was and if a poor musician is his accomplice, In "The Hat Trick", a married couple looking for where the man proposed is startled when a man is thrown from a passing train, lands on a rock and dies. But who is the man, and who killed him? "Helping Hand" has Tallis helping out an old vet by setting him up with Colbeck for employment in his yard. But when there is a theft, is the vet to blame, or the worker who they already have? "Songs for a Swedish Nightingale" has Jenny Lind disappear while under the watch of Inspector Colbeck, can he find out where she has been taken and why? "Suffer the Children" has the money for the workers is stolen, Colbeck and Leeming's sons must discover the money and who stole it. "The Missionary" has Colbeck tracking down a man who Superintendant Tallis feels he stole money from him by misrepresenting himself. But who is this man really, and what is his real profession? "On Guard" has a murdered guard's attacker tracked. But was the guard the target, or was it merely a mistake? "The Barber of Ravenglass" has a woman's body found in a torched railway car. But who was she and why was she killed? "Puffing Billy" has Colbeck's wife, Madelaine travels north to sketch the train "Puffing Billy". But when her drawings and sketchbook are stolen from her room, Colbeck and his wife must find the thief. And finally, "The End of the Line" has the murder of a Railway Executive on a line in which there were only four men on the train, including the murdered man. But who killed him? I liked these short stories, but it's true that "The End of the Line" is very different from the other stories, with very different characterizations from the normal stories. My favorite story was probably "Puffing Billy", as it had the most interesting story and the most interesting thief. Highly recommended.

Discoveries in the Shriver Family Attic: How a Woman and Her Children Dealt with the Battle of Gettysburg by Kajsa C. Cook- is the story of the Shriver Family as told as a fiction book for children as Sadie and Molly Shriver return to their former home in Gettysburg with two fictional children, Amy and Jason. It tells the story of what happened to them and has pictures of the Shriver family and their property, along with inside of the house. Parts of the story are told from the point of view of Hettie and one a dream of her husband in Andersonville, where he died. It's sort of a story for kids, but very expensive for all that ($8.95 for a slim volume was rather steep- I get that this money probably goes to support the people who restored and run the Shriver House, but still...that must have been hard to stomach for the person who bought it. Would I recommend it? No, neither to read nor purchase, as it feels like its for kids a lot younger than could actually read it.

The Shriver's Story: Eyewitnesses to the Battle of Gettysburgh by Nancie W. Gudmestad- This book retells the Battle of Gettysburg through the eyes of the Shriver family and their family and friends in Gettysburg from December, 1861 through July 7th (and afterwards), 1863. There is also a small section at the end of the back where the restoration is described and the artifacts found in the walls, and floors of the Shriver attic. I enjoyed this book more than the "Discoveries in the Shriver Family Attic" book. This one is written for teens to adults and contains more details and more pictures, which is always a good thing, such as that the family also fairly went by Schriver as well. I enjoyed this one much better. Recommended,

Chosen by Jeanne C. Stein- Anna Strong has been a vampire for less than a year, but suddenly, everyone seems to want her. On vacation with her model-vampire boyfriend, Lance, she finds herself the object of interest of his maker, Julian Underwood. But while she thinks she can fight off anyone, especially with Lance's help. But when he serves her up to Julian, she becomes so angry that she would do anything to get back at him. So when the leaders of all the vampires across the world meet under the wife of former North American leader,  Williams, she is forced to meet Lance in battle, Judith Williams thinks that Anna will be unable to kill  Lance. But is she right, or will Anna roll over for Lance? I stumbled into this book without reading the rest of the series, and it was okay. I didn't feel that Anna was as strong as other readers seemed to think. It's okay, but only lightly recommended.

Marrying the Major by Joanna Maitland- Hugo Stratton was once a light-hearted, happy young man, and Emma Fitzwilliam was the girl next door who fell madly in love with him. When war on the Continent was declared, Hugo sailed away to war, but a commission as a Major didn't prevent the war from taking a major toll on him. Now and exhausted, embittered man, Hugo must marry, and it seems that only Emma is willing to do so out of the love she bore and still bears for him. But with the man she loves so different from the man she fell in love with, is there any hope for the two of them to have a happy marriage? Emma believes that Hugo isn't damaged as he thinks, but can she coax the man she fell in love with to engage with the world again? This was a good, engaging romance with a damaged hero who is depressed about his ability to cope with what he's seen. This was my (current, anyway) catnip, and I realty enjoyed reading it. Recommended.