Saturday, May 07, 2016

2016, Part 2

The Wilds, Book 2: The Restless Shore by James P. Davis- Ghaelya is a genasi, part water elemental, but she chose to tie herself to water rather than her family's legacy of fire. But when her sister, Tessaril, is kidnapped by a group of strange men, she goes in search of her in the former Feywilds, accompanied by a half-elf named Brindani. He leads her to a druid and former warrior and Captain of his squad, Uthalion and his killoren ally, Vaasurri. Ghaelya must be led to the former town of Tohrepur which has a bunch of cultists transformed by Aboleths into a weird mutated Choir. Also, the Spellplague has done its work as well, and the people that Brindani and Uthalion tried to save have been horribly twisted into a group known as the Choir. But Ghaelya must face down the Choir, and the creature behind it if she wants to rescue her sister... which might not even be possible. But can she and the others survive the former Mere of Dead Men intact? I found this book hard to read, not to mention finish. I wasn't really invested in any of the characters and I found it hard to care about any  of them. By the end, I was more interested in the Killoren character than any of the others. Not very recommended.

The Wilds, Book 3: The Edge of Chaos by Jak Koke- The Plaguewrought Land is where the Spellplague started and still lingers. Sister Slanya is a Doomguide, a Specialty Priest of Kelemvor. She is an orphan who was saved by a priest of Oghma named Gregor, but instead of becoming a priestess of Oghma, like him, she became a Doomguide instead. But when Gregor sends her into the Plaguewrought Land to get him some specialty grass he needs to make a concoction used to protect the Pilgrims who seek to enter the Plaguelands looking to gain a spellscar. The Order of Blue Fire wants to use Brother Gregor's concoction to move the edge of the Plaguelands, in a bid to make it cover the entire world. But Gregor thinks they are going to use the potion to control the Plaguelands and control them so that no one has to die. Gregor sends Sister Slanya to Ormpetarr to meet his contact, the leader of the Copper Riders, a woman named Tyrangal, and she sends Slanya to meet a thief named Duvan, who can be her guide through the Plaguelands. Unbeknownst to Slanya, Duvan's Spellscar makes him immune to the Plaguelands, but Slanya must rely on brother Gregor's potion. Also, the Order of Blue Fire has become aware of Duvan's ability and they want to eliminate him or understand the source of his power. He can only evade them by heading out to help Sister Slanya find the grass she needs. But Slanya is a revelation to Duvan, and they grow close on their journey, close enough to become good friends. But when the journey results in Slanya gaining a spellscar, and Duvan's capture, it is up to Slanya and her fellow priests to stop the ritual and free Duvan. But can they do so in time to prevent the Order of Blue Fire from increasing the size of the plaguelands? I loved this story, as I loved the characters, both Slanya and Duvan both. But I figured that Tyrangal was what she was revealed to be fairly quickly after she was introduced. I found the story interesting and the characters engaging. Highly recommended.

The Wilds, Book 4: Wrath of the Blue Lady by Mel Odom- Bayel Droust is a sage exploring the new shape of the Inner Sea after the Rain of Blue Fire and the advent  of the Spellplague, but his ship is destroyed and he is kidnapped by a woman under the sea named the Blue Lady. 80 years later, Kwan Shang-Li, a monk and Ranger from the Monastery of The Standing Tree, is looking for books by a scholar named Liou Chang, who was a monk of the Standing Tree Monastery. But his books were stolen by a General who sacked the monastery, and the tomes were scattered. Shang-Li, whose father, Kwan Lung, is a linguist and scholar, has gone in search of the lost Liou Chang books. It turns out that Bayl Droust's ship, the Grayling, had two of the books on it, and Shang-Li and his father, squabbling, must find the Grayling and recover the books. To do so, they will need the help of a Tiefling named Iados and a Dragonborn Paladin named Thava. But the Blue Lady is an exile from the Feywild, and the undersea realm is part of the Feywild. Can Kwan Shang-Li defeat the Blue Lady, even with her great powers? I found this an interesting book, one I really enjoyed. I liked the characters, especially Kwan Shang-Li and his father Kwan Lung. But I also loved Iados and Thava, Thava, especially, as she has a lovely sense of humor and  is a human-size dragon. I found this one of the most interesting and fun of all the Wilds book. Refcommended.

Darkest Before Dawn by Maya Banks- Hancock is a mercenary, but he's also a man on a mission, to take down Maksimov. When he is sent out to kidnap Honor Cambridge by his current "boss" Bristow, he finds himself caring for Honor, who survived an attack by the terrorist group ANE "A New Era". But because she not only survived, but kept herself out of their hands for almost a week, they are looking to kill her to avenge their honor, and Maksimov also wants something from ANE, and he plans to get it with Honor's body. But as Honor comes to trust Hancock, he is less willing to give her up, either to Bristow or Maksimov. But when his plans to trick Maksimov and capture him and keep Honor safe, Hancock is nearly killed, and they have to call in the KGI to rescue Honor and save her life. Only, Hancock's seeming betrayal has broken her. But when she is rescued by the KGI, can she put her life back together and rebuild her sense of self before she wills herself to die? I found this an interesting book. I liked Hancock a bit, but He kind of annoyed me by the end of the book. Honor had my sympathy at the beginning and kept it throughout, I just didn't like how Hancock was willing to throw her under a bus (so to speak) when he didn't know who she was. Not really recommended.

City of Light by Keri Arthur-Tiger is a genetically engineered supersoldier called a dechet. She is the last survivor, she thinks, of the dechet, who were eliminated at the end of the last war. They were made to fight the things that came through the veil between this world and the next, but as the dechet proved to be equal to the task of fighting demons, wraiths, and death spirits that spilled through, humanity grew more frightened of the dechet than the creatures they were fighting. Tiger lives alone with the ghosts of the dechet, including two children, Cat and Bear. But when she rescues a young girl and her poisoned protector, she gets drawn back into the life of the city. But she must hide what she is as the girl's uncle wants all dechet, including her if he finds out what she is, dead. But when Tiger is tasked by a leader of a group of freedom fighters to find out what is going on with a strange wraith and a weird portal it entered, along with a bunch of missing children, Tiger is going to find out that she is not the last of her kind, but can she do he5r job without revealing to the others who and what she is? I liked this book. I liked Tiger and her situation and how she dealt with her life, rescuing the girl and her uncle, Jonas, and her job to rescue the wraith-kidnapped children. I can't wait to see what happens, but I feel like Tig and Jonas are somehow going to end up together. I actually liked how they worked together, right up until the end. Recommended.

Midnight Taxi Tango by Daniel Jose Older- Carlos Delacruz is a man who has died and been brought back. Now, he works for the Council of the Dead, doing jobs and looking for the woman he loved. He's also working with a girl named Kia who is missing her cousin, who disappeared some years back. But when Carlos discovers a breakout of funky orangey-pink roaches taking over the city, they may tie into what happened to Kia's cousin Gio all those years ago, and he also has to deal with a child ghost wanting to kill Kia. But why? And add to that a new possible partner, a woman named Reza, and he might have more trouble putting the case to bed... I actually enjoyed this book despite having never read this author before. I found the characters interesting and engaging and I liked the whole idea of the Council of the Dead. I don't know if I will read any more books in this series, but it was definitely enjoyable. Recommended.

The Plague of Thieves Affair by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini- Sabina Carpenter and John Quincannon are partners in detection, but both are realizing that they are interested in each other as more than just partners. Working out of San Francisco in the early 1900's, they are drawn into separate cases. John is investigating the theft of a beer recipe from a local brewery that makes a special kind of beer known as "steam beer", while Sabina is asked to provide security at an art exhibit called "Reticules Through the Ages". But when a valuable reticule is stolen, Sabina must find the thief before he or she leaves the exhibit. Meanwhile, John's case takes a deadly turn as one of the employees at the brewing house is killed and he must find the culprit, along with retrieving the missing recipe. At the same time, Sabrina is asked to find a local oddball who calls himself Sherlock Holmes, one who she knows and who has helped with cases before. But when the man looking for his brother is killed, his wife blames "Sherlock" and Sabrina must prove him innocent before he is locked up for the crime. But can she find and trap the true murderer? I liked this book. I liked the worldbuilding of the city at the time, and the characters, and I liked Sabrina's relationship with "Sherlock" (and Quincannon's dislike of him as well). I have never read these writers before, but I would certainly like to. In a way, I felt like it was a bit of a past life version of Roarke and Eve Dallas, but without the sex and in another era. Highly recommended.

Falling Into Bed with a Duke by Lorraine Heath- Minerva Dodger has had a number of seasons, but no man has loved her or been interested in her for herself. Rather, they all seem to be more interested in her tremendous dowry instead. In lieu of marrying her, all the men who have shown an interest seem to be more concerned with marrying her money. Fed up with the whole situation, she asks her sister-in-law foe the location of the infamous Nightingale Club, where men and women can meet and have sex without knowing who the woman is or with strings in the relationship. After much dithering, her sister-in-law realizes she is serious and gives her the location. At the club, Minerva meets the Duke of Ashebury, who she has admired from afar, but who was never interested in her. When he asks to take a picture of her legs, she demurs, but is intrigued. And Ashebury finds himself anxious beyond words to find the woman in the while silk and swan mask. He's never been interested in any other woman like this before, but when he discovers Minerva's true identity, and he needs to marry for money, can he convince her that he loves her for her and not for her money? And when she discovers she accepted his proposal before he revealed his need for money, can she forgive him for lying to her? I liked this book. I liked how independent Minerva was and how they came together and even the part at the end, which might have out me off otherwise, was made interesting by Ashe's problems with numbers, being unable to even add a simple column of single numbers. Highly recommended.

Dukes Prefer Blondes by Loretta Chase- Lady Clara Fairfax is beautiful and accomplished, but none of the men who propose to marry seem to be stupid to her, or want her to be stupid, and she's tired of pretending to have no brain. But there is a man who she remembers from her childhood, a man named Oliver Radford, who is incredibly intelligent, and who suffered for it at the hands of his cousin and his friends all throughout his childhood. Clara herself leapt on the older boys and received a chipped tooth as a result. Her mother was in vapors at the ruining of her daughter's perfect beauty. But Raven's Uncle, the Duke, has died, and his cousin who abused him when he was a child is the new Duke. But he is not well and drinks and carouses far too much. "Raven", Oliver's childhood nickname, tries to tell his cousin to cut down on his drinking and carousing if he wants to live, but his cousin scorns his advice. Meanwhile, an Adult Clara consults Oliver to find the lost brother of a girl in a school which teaches sewing skills to indigent girls. Her brother was attending a Ragged School, but was lured away to join a gang. Clara wants to get him back for the girl. Oliver tries to dissuade her, but when he realizes she intends to go along despite his objections, he agrees to let her come along. But when she ends up falling in love with him, she wonders how she can marry him when her mother wants her to marry a man with a title. But when the crime lord whose child gang arrest she took part in decides to come after both her and Oliver, who has since inherited his cousin's title, can Oliver protect them both from the man's vengeance? I liked this book. I liked both Clara's intelligence and Oliver's as well, but in my opinion, I started getting the feeling that Clara went over the top into Bella territory with the way she praised Oliver's amazing brain. Loretta Chase used the same phrase at least three times in the book, and it made me feel a bit like Bella Swan thinking about Edward's body. So I liked it a lot, but that sort of felt irritating. I also liked the story and the incidents that occurred. Recommended.

Thicker Than Water by Mike Carey- Felix Castor is a freelance exorcist. His best friend is possessed by a demon, and he works with a succubus and occasionally others. He thinks he's seen it all, but when someone calls him to investigate the death of someone who tried to kill him when he was just a boy, he finds that his name is on the car. It turns out that this man lived in a strange apartment block in London, and while Felix tries to find the people who knew him when he was a boy, and the girl who save his life when Kenny Seddon tried to kill him, he finds that the entire apartment complex where Kenny lived is somehow possessed. When he goes to take it on, he discovers that he may have bitten off more than he can chew, considerably more. But when the complex erupts in violence, Felix will have his work cut out for him to fix what is wrong and deal with the consequences of what one boy in the place unwittingly wrought. But will Felix survive the catastrophe that is The Salisbury? I had never read Mike Carey before, but I really enjoyed "Thicker than Water" it is an inimitably English book, but not upper-crust English, but s working class sort of Cockney that is working class life in England itself. I liked the characters, especially Felix and his succubus friend Julia. I also loved how the entire thing tied in with Felix's family and the tragedy engendered by Felix's holier than thou priest brother. Matt. I also loved how it ended. Highly recommended.

Under Darkness by Savannah Russe- Daphne is missing the man she loves, her former stalker, Darius. It seems like Darius, who is touring America with the band that he's started, a group of Vampires. But Darius used to be a Vampire Hater and once was trying to kill Daphne. But when he finally returns, Daphne is already caught up in assignment from her Boss, J. A barge called the Eldridge disappeared on the Hudson River, and J wants to find out how it was done, who did it and why. J doesn't know any of those things, but he strongly suspects that whoever and whatever did it is a threat to the US. And it is, because someone wants to assassinate the President. But Daphne suspects that Darius, or people who he is friends with, are involved. But can Darius be trusted, or has he gotten back in with his Anti-Vampire and Vampire Hunting friends? Can Daphne trust Darius or will he be the end of her? I enjoyed this book. It has been a while since I read "In the Blood", the former book in the series, but I did enjoy this book a lot, it only took me a little while to remember the characters and fall in love with them again. I was actually rather annoyed at Daphne at the end, but it was a good book with interesting plot and characters. Recommended.

Dragon Storm by Katie MacAllister- Constantine is the former Wyvern (leader) of the Silver Dragons. When someone needs a piece of the Demon Asmodeus stolen to remove a curse from all Dragonkind, Constantine volunteers to go to steal it on behalf of Ysolde, who he thinks he is in love with. But when he runs into Bee, a charmer who is also after the piece of Asmodeus, But when Constantine manages to steal the item needed, he might also end up stealing Bee's heart? But as they spend more and more time together, can Bee come to admit that she loves Constantine, and can he admit that he feels similarly for her? I literally didn't finish this book. I hated Constantine so much, as he was such a butthead, I literally couldn't stomach finishing the story and quit only partway through, after Bee and Constantine spent a little time in each other's company and escaped Hell (or whatever they called it). I didn't finish it and wouldn't recommend it if you don't like butthole heroes.

The Adventurer's Quartet, Volume 1: The Lady's Command by Stephanie Laurens- Declan Frobisher is a member of the Frobisher family and he has recently married Lady Edwina, a beautiful woman with decided ideas about her life and marriage. So when Declan is called to the Admiralty and sent on a mission of the highest importance. and the utmost secrecy, Edwina attempts to get him to let het go, but when she cannot persuade him, she decides to sneak away on his ship, instead. When he finds her, he is upset, but decides to work with her and takes her along on his mission, pretending they are on their honeymoon (which they are), but have come to check out rumors of a gold strike. But their investigations reveal that, not only are the four men that Declan sent to search for still missing, but that at least four women and numerous children, all British, are also missing. And no one seems to think that anything is the matter in Freetown. But when Edwina's questions lead to her being kidnapped. can Declan and his sailors save her and return to England to make their case that this needs to be investigated? I enjoyed this book, and it seems that the other "Adventurers" are going to be Declan's brothers and sisters. I liked how Edwina and Declan came together and how they worked together. It was actually kind of nice that they were already married, but the next book will contain s romance that takes place during the entire book. I will definitely look up the next book in the series. Recommended.

Autumn Thorns by Yasmine Galenorn- Kerris Fellwater has returned to the town of Whisper Hollow after the death of her grandmother to be the Town's Spirit Shaman, to escort the dead spiirts to the grave and lay the unloving spirits to rest. But she finds that her next door neighbor is actually a Shifter and is meant to be her protector and perhaps possibly her mate. But the number of spirits are going out of control and there are many more spirits hanging around than before. As it turns out, there is more about Kerris' past that she doesn't know, about another secret society called the Hounds of Cu Chulainn and how her grandfather wanted Kerris' mother killed because she was supposed to destroy the Hounds, but it turns out that it wasn't about Kerris' mother, it was about Kerris instead. But it may have something to do with not only the disappearance of Kerris' mother, but her father as well- and as soon as she came back to Whisper Hollow, she met her paternal grandmother, who told her that her father was missing. But can Kerris discover the truth and how will she live with the answers she finds? I loved this book. Of course, I love Yasmin Galenorn's Otherworld Series, and I was hoping that this one was going to be equally good. While this series is in its early days yet, I certainly think that this series will be just as good. I liked Kerris and I liked her shifter mate, Gareth and how they came together so easily. I loved this book and I am looking forward to reading more. Highly recommended.

A Ticket to Oblivion by Edward Marston- When a young woman named Imogen Burnhope and her maid, Rhoda Hollis disappear on the Oxford, Worchester and Wolverhampton Railway, Inspector Detective Robert Colbeck is called in to find her. It seems that the two young ladies caught the train, but somehow disappeared en route. Her father, who is on the OWWR's board, is incensed, and demands that she be found, but that is due to the influence of her mother. But did she fall out of the carriage or was she kidnapped? As Colbeck investigates Imogen's disappearance, it seems that she might have been complicit in her own disappearance. The question is, who did she disappear for and with, and where is she now? And is she still happy about who she is with? Meanwhile, her putative bridegroom, Member of Parliament Tunnadine, seems to be more concerned with punishing those he deems guilty of Imogen's kidnapping and his interference is ruining the investigation. But when a member of Imogen's family discovers that Tunnadine has beaten his mistress so badly that he knocked out her two front teeth, blacked her eye and other injuries and Tunnadine kills an innocent man who the real villains were using as a go-between, can he and Inspector Tallis put the man in prison or will he manage to skate away without time in Prison? I loved this book. I loved the characters and how we saw new sides to all of the characters, including Inspector Tallis. Also, the return of an old foe for Colbeck, Leeming and Tallis was wonderful and I liked what happened, and the truth behind the disappearance of Imogen and how they made it so she got out of what her innocence had wrought. Highly recommended.

Hard Magic by Laura Anne Gilman-  Bonnie Torres is newly graduated from college, and looking for a job, but her mentor, J, a member of the Casa Nostradmus, is supporting her while she searches for a real job. But when she gets a mysterious call on the phone, she goes to the job interview and finds four other young current users... and a dead body in the next room. But none of them go for the police. Instead, they share information and try to figure out what happened and what killed the apparent victim, Ben Verus. But then the man sits up and tells them they passed the test. He wants to set up a magical CSI, where people who want things investigated can go to them and find out what they need and want to know, untainted by either ties to the Council or the Lonejacks. But first, Bonnie and her new colleagues: Nick, Sharon, Nifty and Pietr, must adapt their magic to their new tasks and then put their new skills to work. But their first case appears to be a doozy. Two Talents are dead, and the new PUPI's must find out if their deaths are suicide or murder, and it seems that someone wants to see them all fail, and may even be willing to kill to make it happen. But can the PUPI's find their suspect and stay alive? I loved this book, which was a offshoot of the Retrievers series. I loved seeing the genesis of the PUPI's and how they wrangled their magic and spells to figure out how to read evidence. I loved this book and want to read more. Highly recommended.

Dragon Lovers by Jo Beverley, Mary Jo Putney, Karen Harbaugh and Barbara Samuel- This book has four novellas of love involving Dragons. Jo Beverley tells the story of Princess of Rozlinda, the Sacrifical Virgin Princess of Saragonde. Her elder sister fell in love and used her lover to kill the last Dragon from the land of Dornaa. But when a Dragon finally arrives, the warrior who arrives wants to kidnap Rozlinda and her feed her blood to his dragon, as the Dragons in Dornaa are dying off and need the blood of the Sacrificial Princess to breed and survive. But Rozlinda has no idea of how matters stand in Dornaa, when she finds out, will she willingly give up her life to save the Dragons of Dornaa? MaryJo Putney tells the story of Sir Kenrick of Rathbourne, a wandering Knight who is looking to settle down with a piece of land of his own. He travels to Cornwall in order to help a Lord who wishes him to slay a Dragon, but soon realizes that it is the Lord who is a danger to his land, not the Dragon, and the Dragon's granddaughter becomes his healer, and soon, his love. But when the three of them conspire to overthrow the brutal lord, will Kenrick be able to marry the true heiress to secure his claim, or will he choose to stay with the woman he already loves? Karen Harbaugh contributes a story set in Japan. Anna is Dutch, and her parents have been killed, and she needs to raise the money to get home. But when the gentle scholar encounters a Dragon who offers to buy her books on medicine, and a Samurai shows up to escort her back to her lodgings, can she resist the offer by the Samurai to become his lady, or will she leave Japan behind? Finally, Barbara Samuels tells the story of Penny, who has moved to the Southwest to study with a famous weaver in order to learn better how to color fabric for her own tapestries. On seeing the house the broker is showing her, she finds a strange feather that looks like it's been dyed, and the house seems to smell like sugar or Cotton Candy. But, then she meets her new Teacher's grandson, she finds herself attracted to him, and begins finding more and more feathers of the sort she found on her first day. But when she begins being attacked for the feathers and being asked questions about Dragons, Penny can't figure out why anyone would think she had anything to do with them. But as she gets more and more into the graces of her Teacher, she finds she faces an important life decision. But what choices will she choose to make? I loved this book, I enjoyed all the stories, and if I was pressed to choose which was my favorite, I'd probably choose Karen Harbaugh's "Anna and the King of Dragons", as both the title and the story itself were a callback to the story of Anna Leonowens. But all the stories were excellent and well worth reading. Highly recommended.

I re-read Chalice by Robin McKinley.

Cast in Sorrow by Michelle Sagara- Kaylin Neya is a Hawk in the forces of Elantra, which means she works as a sort of Policewoman in the City, where she is a human among the otherworldly, elflike Barrani, Lion-like Leontines and Hawk-like Aerians, among others. But while she is human, she is set apart by the strange marks that appeared on her skin when she was merely a teenager, marks she cannot read and which allow her to do a strange sort of magic that she can't really control. Having become a Lord in Barrani society by surviving the test of name, in which she inadvertently took part, she accompanied her Barrani co-worker Teela into the Barrani country and has become an important part of an upcoming ritual, finding herself wearing a dress that is magical and is called "The Heart of the Green". Kaylin must act as Harmoniste at the telling, constructing a story out of the words the teller says, and at the same time, save the Green from the Ferals, what remains of Teela's friends and yearmates among the Barrani. Years ago, their parents wanted them to take part in the ritual, and her friends were warped by it, only Teela escaped, thanks to her mother, who died in the ritual. But as they come to the West March, the leader of the Barrani known as the Consort is injured, and attacks from the Ferals become worse. Kaylin realizes that it is up to her to save not only the Ferals and restore the Green, but to save her friend Teela from becoming like the Ferals, as they want to be united with her. But add to that that her sometime foe and sometime friend Nightshade, an Outcaste Barrani fieflord, is the teller, and Kaylin doesn't know if she will be able to save anyone, even herself. But can she do the impossible, and what will be the effect on the Barrani and Teela if she either fails, or manages to succeed? I loved this book. I love Michelle Sagara's Elantra series, and I always love reading about the sorts of scrapes and situations that Kaylin gets into. This one was even more interesting, digging into Barrani society and rituals and exploring Teela, Kaylin, her sometimes love Severn and the Lord Nightshade. I have to say that the book was really wonderful, with a sense of menace and at the end, I felt a sense of relief at what she was able to do for everyone. I can't wait to trad more in the series. Highly recommended.

Storm of the Dead by Lisa Smedman- Eilistraee and Lolth have been playing a game of Sava, for all or nothing. Whoever loses at the board will die and all their worshippers. Already, Eilistraee has defeated her brother Vhaeraunn and absorbed his worshippers into her own. In this sava game, which is like a game of chess, the pieces are represented by actually worshippers in the real world. And now, another goddess decides to join the game, Kiaransalee, the Drow Goddess of Death and Vengeance. She wants to gain more worshippers for herself. But as Lolth and Eilistraee send their pieces and worshippers against each other and Kiaransalee, who will be the final ultimate winner? I liked this book. I liked the way the actual characters were used like Chess, or sava pieces in the game and how the characters justified how they were used by the goddesses that were "moving" them around. I liked the whole concept of having them duel to see who would ultimately prevail, but I wondered how to play a three-handed game of chess/sava. Recommended.

Acendancy of the Last by Lisa Smedman- The sava game between Lolth and Eilistraee continues, and with no one else joining the game, it's down to the last two goddesses alone. Meanwhile, the Dark Elves discover how they became Drow, a curse. But the Drow's bent towards evil is the result of the Dark Elf race admixing with demons, Tanar'ri. But as Eilistraee's High Priestess, Qilue Veladorn, is affected by the infection of Ghaunadaur, Halisstra Melarn is seeking to overcome the worshippers of Lolth to make up for what she did when she was a Drow. Will she somehow preserve her Goddess or end up ultimately destroying her? I liked this book. In it, a large number of Drow become Dark Elves, and while a goddess dies, we find out where Drow came from and why they are so committed to Evil. I didn't like the ending, and yet, I did, because the Goddess who died was one of my favorites in the Realms. I really enjoyed this book and I felt sorry for so many of the characters at the end, and I found it a little hard to read. But it was a great story. Recommended.

Indiscreet by Mary Balogh- Catherine Winters has been living in the small village of Bodley-on-the-Water for years, living a life both quiet and virtuous. But when Viscount Rawleigh, the lord's brother and his twin, returns with his brother and sister-in-law, Catherine smiles at him, thinking that Rex is his brother. When Rex takes an interest in the lovely Catherine, he thinks that she wants him, and given that she is a widow, that means she must be interested in a dalliance, right. Rex relentlessly pursues the lovely widow, but when he inadvertently destroys her reputation, he must marry a woman he thinks doesn't love him, and which he knows very little about. Additionally, he thinks she's a tease, and she's under an assumed name. But when he decides to reintroduce her to society in London, her hidden secrets all come up. But can she and her new husband handle the truths that will be revealed? I found this book a little hard to read, especially for Catherine, she *is* attracted to Rex, but she is also laboring under a series of very strict rules set down by her family. I found Rex an asshat and it took me until nearly the end of the book to win my sympathy. But in the end, I was glad I read the book. So, recommended.

Luther and Katharina by Jody Hedlund- Katharina Von Bora is a member of a nunnery overseen by Abbot Balthazar at the Abbey of Marienthon. Lately, the nuns have been reading Martin Luther's works and Katharina and her servant, Greta, escape by going over the wall. On the way, they are nearly caught by a group of laborers who label Katarina and her fellow escaping novices as "Church Whores". The man who sneaks them away from the abbey, Merchant Koppe, drops them off at the Black Chapel with Martinus Luther, also known as Martin Luther. But while Luther returns some of the nuns to their families, there are others whose families don't want them. And so he arranges marriages for them. But Katharina, knowing well her position as the daughter of a Knight, holds out for marriage to a man she can love. And she cannot take her eyes off of him, despite the fact that they always seems to end up arguing. But will Martin take her to wife, even through she says she won't marry him, can he persuade her to change her mind? And when Martin's life comes under attack and Katharina becomes embroiled in it, can she save his life, and he, in turn, save hers? I was thinking this was going to be some kind of spiritual romance, which, in a way, it was  But at the same time, I got a strong feeling of love between the two, and I liked that Jody Hedlund  worked so many real people into the story. But I never felt the book was too preachy. Recommended.

My American Duchess by Eloisa James- Merry Pelford has come to Britain after breaking two other engagements because she fell out of love with her fianc├ęs. Now, she has agreed to marry Cedric Allardyce, brother of the Duke of Trent. But when Merry escapes the ballroom and meets a mysterious man on the balcony who she connects with, she soon realizes that the man who she talked so easily with is actually the Duke of Trent. When Trent discovers that the woman he found so refreshing is his soon to be sister-in-law, he tries to warn her what his brother is really like. he cannot help but draw closer to her, even though she doesn't believe him. But when she realizes she must go through with a marriage to a boorish drunkard, can she find the strength to go through with is? And can Trent live with letting her go? I really enjoyed this book and the story. I liked all the characters, even Cedric Allardyce, and I enjoyed all their interactions. A lovely story, one that didn't seem to be as long as many others. Highly recommended.

Night Study by Maria V. Snyder- Yelena Saltana has been poisoned by her heart-mate, Valek's new second in command, Onora. But the poison wasn't what she was. Instead, it was something known as Starlight, which interferes with the stuff that she takes to prevent herself from getting pregnant by Valek. So when she realizes she is pregnant, she is both happy and unhappy. Happy because she *wants* a child with Valek, but unhappy because they are in the middle of a crisis in Sitia and Ixia. Meanwhile, someone has been using Curare to paralyze people. But in the  greenhouses left behind by a supposedly-dead malicious magician, they are not only raising Curare, but another plant known as Theobroma, that can undo the effects of Curare. And then, they find a plant which crosses Theobroma and Curare, making Curare that can't be "cured" with Theobroma. But another word for Theobroma is Criollo, which can brainwash magicians. But as it seems that all the magicians in Sitia are under the influence of Theobroma, and maybe even the Commander of Ixia might be under the influence of the drug, can Valek, who has lost his magic block, uncover his real magic that may be the only thing that can save both countries... I found this an interesting book, bringing the story of Yelena forward. The only thing I had a problem with was knowing that Theobroma is the Latin name of the cocoa plant (Theobroma Cacao). So it's literally chocolate that's a mind-wiping drug. I kept being pulled of the story by that whole thought. I enjoyed the book, and it was good seeing all the characters again and learning more about them. Recommended.

Sweet Ruin by Kresley Cole- Rune Baneblood is a member of the Morior, a group of very old, very powerful Otherworldly beings who control most of existence. But when he is sent to try and bring down Nyx the Valkyrie, he travels to New Orleans, only to meet a woman. Josephine is a young woman who lived on the streets with her baby brother, Thaddeus. When she meets MizB, the Librarian of the local Library. MizB wants to adopt them both, but Josephine doesn't trust her. When she gets killed by a local drug lord, she somehow survives and looks even better that before she died. When she tries to get back to her brother, he doesn't recognizes her, and she is forced to leave him behind. But when Jo, who has a hobby of stealing small things to remember times in her life, she runs into Rune, she ends up stealing a Rune of his that he treasures, and he goes after her to get it back. Meanwhile, she finds him sexy, and decides to drink his blood  But Rune thinks his blood is poisonous to everyone, but Jo, surprisingly, is able to handle it just fine. She already thinks she is a vampire, but Rune's blood can kill even vampires and she has other powers as well. But *what* else is she, and will she support Nyx and the Loreans or the Morior and Rune? And can she bring the two sides together before the two come to serious blows? I enjoyed this book a lot =. I liked Jo and Rune and how they came together, and I also liked the real truth behind her powers and why she could do what she could do. I loved how Jo came into her power and became a strong, confident woman with Rune's love, and how both of them changed and grew, right up until the end. Highly recommended,

Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World's Most Famous Heroine by Tim Hanley- This book traces the history of Wonder Woman, from the Man who created her, William Moulton Marston. Wonder Woman started out as a mere Amazon, the best warrior of a an entire island full of female warriors. But while most people remember this about Wonder Woman, fewer people remember how much the Amazons liked bondage games and tying each other up, but it was done from a place of trust and love. But Marston had a bigger idea. He thought that women would inevitably take over society, and he was using Wonder Woman to prepare boys to submit to the coming female takeover. And Wonder Woman was also the first to use non-violent means to overcome her foes and the first to try and rehabilitate her foes and turn them to peaceful purposes. Sometimes she succeeded, but sometimes, as with the Cheetah, she didn't. It was interesting to see the true history of Wonder Woman, and I learned plenty of things I didn't know about Wonder Woman, so I found this book fascinating and eye-opening. Highly recommended.

The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt- Anna Wren is a widow, and she needs to make money to support herself and her mother-in-law, as she is running out of money to support them. Edward de Raaf, the Earl of Swartingham, needs a secretary who can withstand his rages and bad behavior. So when Anna bullies his Steward into giving her the job. She is able to satisfy his need for a secretary, but when she and Edward begin to become attracted to each other, he goes to London, and she gets angry that he is going to go to a prostitute. But when she saves a woman she finds in a ditch, she turns out to be a prostitute, and her sister, who comes to rescue, is also a lady of light virtue, a mistress to a lord. But when she offers Anna a favor, Anna decides to visit Aphrodite's grotto, where she wants Edward as her lover. She hides her face and her identity, but once she and Edward have become lovers, can she give that up, or will it just make her more determined to become his wife? I loved this book. I loved how Anna was smart and determined and makes her own life better and lives by the choices she makes. I also liked the fairytale that was used to illuminate the story, which was a sort of "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" vibe. I also liked Edward, who is someone with some anger problems, but Anna stands right up to him. I loved the love scenes as well and how even the minor characters were very enjoyable. Highly recommended.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine, Mission Gamma: Twilight by David R. George- The Dominion War is over, and now it's time to move forward. Bajor is approached by Cardassia to launch diplomatic talks. Meanwhile, the Defiant is about to be sent into the Gamma Quadrant on a mission of discovery and exploration. In command is Captain Elias Vaughn, and his crew includes his own estranged daughter, Prynn,  Nog, Ezri Dax, Julian Bashir and an Andorian named Thirishar ch'Thane. But ch'Thane leaves behind his three bondmates, who he promises to return to when his mission is over. However, one of his Bondmates, Thriss, has been in a sexual relationship with ch'Thane before, is so despondent by his leaving before all four bondmates can come together to make a child that she commits suicide. But it's not certain that she actually killed herself, and Ensign Ro Laren, along with the Jem'Hadar Taran'atar, who must track down the truth about what happened to Thriss. Meanwhile, also, Ro is being romanced by Quark, who is running into problems in his bar, and Trier, the former Orion Slave Girl and lead Dabo girl, may have a solution, or she may only make things worse. But when Elias Vaughn and Prynn are trapped on a planet in the Gamma Quadrant, can he save them both, along with a number of other crewmen injured in the crash of their runabout? I liked this, but the sheer number of characters in the book can be a little overwhelming. Thankfully, the book was never overwhelming, even though the book is over 500 pages. It sets up a number of different storyline threads and characters and locations, but you never feel like you don't know what's going on or where you are. I liked the book, but it takes a long time to read. Recommended.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine, Mission Gamma: This Gray Spirit by Heather Jarman- Gul Macet returns to Deep Space Nine, bringing with him a surprise visitor, Ambassador Natima Long, who want to meet with first minister Shakaar. But Kira had found out that there is a reason why the talks between the Cardassians and the Bajorans have broken down- Shakaar wants them to fail. But why? And can Natima somehow persuade Shakaar to change his mind? Meanwhile the Defiant has encountered an alien race based on the planet Vanimel. Their DNA is especially fluid and Thirishar ch'Thane thinks he can use some items from their planet to fix the problem with his own race's reproduction. Meanwhile, Ezri Dax decides to try and mediate the problems between the two sides of the Vanimei people's arguments with the aid of her past selves, one of which was a well-known negotiator. But when the two sides are so different, can she bring them to a meeting of the minds? I liked and enjoyed this book. Not as much as "Twilight, which focused on Elias Vaughn and his daughter. This book focused on far more characters and it seemed like, more story threads than the previous book. The only thing that made me upset is that the previous story about ch'Thane's bondmate was sort of ignored for so long. Otherwise, not bad. Recommended,

Cursed by Benedict Jacka- Alex Verus is a diviner mage, but he's gotten a reputation for being a battle mage since the fight over the fateweaver that Alex had been called in on to find. But when Alex managed to keep it from both of the magicians who wanted to steal it, and keep it from the dark mages also searching for it. He's still teaching his sometime student, Luna, and living over his shop, and taking on jobs for other mages so that he can call on them at some future point, like a job to kill a barghest living in an abandoned factory. But when Alex and his other mages break in, they find the barghest dead. It hasn't been killed by magic or bullets or blades, but when his good friend, Arachne, a giant spider, hears of the death, she becomes uneasy. Then, his student, Luna, brings someone to her shop who is looking for an item that he can use, despite being a non-mage. When he discovers a Monkey's Paw, he steals it from the shop. But when someone starts trying to kill Alex, he has to wonder if it has anything to do with either the Barghest or a ritual that the black mages, including his old former fellow student Deleo and her fire mage Cinder. But the true threat may not come from a dark mage, but rather one of the Light. But can Alex track down both Luna and Deleo and rescue them before the Light Mage sacrifices them to increase his own magic. I really enjoyed this book, and I enjoyed seeing Alex Verus again. I actually find myself liking the character and almost feel a bit sorry for him, because he is so damaged by his earlier life that it is almost impossible for him to trust. And I like all the other characters as well- Arachne, Luna, Sonder and others.  Highly recommended.

Ask a Queer Chick: A Guide to Sex, Love and Life for Girls Who Dig Girls by Lindsay King-Miller- This book is by a gay girl, who answers questions about what it is like to live gay, how she grew up, how she came to know she is gay, and how gay girls find other Gay girls, how two (or more) girls make love and other questions commonly asked about Gay People. I loved this book, because it gives clear, cogent answers to the questions and readers can take it or leave it. I found it amazing and extremely interesting. Highly recommended.

Darkness Avenged by Alexandra Ivy- The Dark Lord, a demon who was manipulating the world, has been defeated, but the vampire, Santiago, wants to get back to his people. He also wants to encounter a vampire named Nefri, who lives in the otherworld and who he fell in love with, but she is so cold and removed, he cant be sure she feels the same. But when Nefri is sent by the vampire council to track down a threat escaped from the otherworld, it seems that threat involves Santiago, as it is his sire, Gaius, who believes his dead wife has returned and wants to be reunited with his "son", Santiago. But with him, he brings a terrible curse, a sense of emotion that spills over into everyone and everything about him, making him a threat to vampire society. But as Santiago goes after his sire, who he finds out has returned from Nefri's people in the Otherworld, it becomes clear that the threat Nefri is chasing is somehow connected with Gaius. But can the two of them track him down and bring him to justice, without letting loose their innate desires for each other, or can they find a way to live and love with both sets of responsibilities they have? I liked this book. I liked the nature of the threat, and I liked the whole idea of a vampire who incites violence and anger and other negative emotions like an infection. I also really liked how the romance between Santiago and Nefri was handled and how they really didn't spend much time feeling betrayed by the other, and basically, acted more like adults than whiny children. Good show! Recommended.

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