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.

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