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 fiancés. 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.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

2016, Part 1

Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey: The Official Backstage Pass to the Set, the Actors and the Drama by Emma Rowley- Downton Abbey is one of the most popular television series, about the fortunes of a family before and after the first World War. This book covers the production of the show, from how the show was conceived, to the filming and planning of the show, from how the actors were considered and to the tiniest details, from costuming to the cars, furniture and even the letters and papers used. This is an amazing book with tons of pictures, from the "makeup" as worn by the female cast, to the tales of actors who must get dressed for their scenes on set or on location, and then wait for their scene to come up. I loved the story about how Laura Carmichael and Dame Maggie Smith were bonding over pictures of cats doing adorable things on the internet. I loved all the detail and how they did the various sets to make the most out of the spaces and ready-built rooms they had. In short, this was an excellent book about the making of a show. In short, a wonderful book with a ton of photographs, details and information. Highly recommended.

Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to Modern times by Lucy Lethbridge- This book is about the servant's spaces in houses, manors and other places where they worked, examining their lives and freedoms and non-freedoms as they must adjust to changing lives and conditions. In short, this book looks at the real lives of servants, and why they eventually went away. This wasn't anything like a straight line path. It took much for Britain's middle and upper class to give up their servants. And even so, the rich still have servants, though now they are called "Household Managers", rather than Housekeepers or Maids. And the Butler, of course, still has the sort of same cachet as it did in the past. It was a fascinating look at a time and a place in history and why and how house servants went away. Recommended.

Homecoming: Archmage by R. A. Salvatore-  The Darkening is finally gone from the north and the Realms are free of the influence of the city of Shadows. The Kingdom of Many Arrows has retreated in defeat and now Bruenor has decided it is time to retake Gauntlegrym from the Drow and their monsters that inhabit it. So, the Dwarves of Mithril Hall, Citadel Felbarr and Citadel Adbar gather together to retake the Dwarven City from the Drow who hold it. But meanwhile, in Menzoberranzan, Archmage Gromph Baenre is turning his mental power to learning the arts of the Psionicist. But while he seeks to use this power to increase his own ability to summon creatures, and demons, his teacher, Kimmuriel Oblodra, has a reason of his own for teaching Gromph. Will each of them get what they want when Lolth is in charge of the show? And when Gromph uses his power, will the Drow of Menzoberranzan survive what he brings to the city? I loved this book. The connection between the two stories means that, at the end of the book, their stories become wrapped together as  it's up to Drizzt, Cattie-brie, Bruenor and the others must rescue the Drow (and Faerun) from the evil that Gromph inadvertently summoned. So, I look forward to seeing what happens.

Scandal Takes the Stage by Eva Leigh- Maggie Delamere is a play writer, but she was seduced by a rogue who didn't love her. But she came back to make a living as a writer of plays. However, one of her greatest triumphs, the bouffe (play with music) Cassandra, is hailed as a triumph. However, everyone wants to know when,. or if it will be done. Even the owners of the theatre are breathing down her neck to get it finished. and she is totally blocked when it comes to the story. Even Cameron, Viscount Marwood, is one of her biggest fans, and he wants to help her, but she rather brutally shuts him down every time he even gets close to her, even while she finds herself unable to stop thinking about him. But when he offers her the user of his country estate as a place to write, she finally accepts. Only when she is there can she find the peace of mind she needs to write. She also discovers that while in the past, the noblemen in her stories have always been the villains, now she is beginning to have feelings for Cam, and decides to maker her next hero a nobleman. But when her feelings lead her into a relationship with Cam, can she protect her still-tender heart and save herself from heartbreak? I liked this book. I liked the idea of a writer as a heroine, and of her relationship with writing, and how her block affected her. But I also loved how she worked through it and how Cam romanced her quite gently, and deduced some things about her past from her writing. I loved the book, I'd want to read more from Eva Leigh in the future. Recommended.

A Wicked Way to win an Earl by Anna Bradley-  Delia Somerset dislikes the ton, but her sister is desperate to marry well, and so Delia decides to be her chaperone, despite being unwed herself, and on the shelf at a house party. The problem is that Alec Sutherland's brother is showing signs of being interested in Delia, and Alec thinks her a mere fortune hunter. So he decides to interject himself into their blossoming relationship and begins finding an interest in Delia for himself, despite the fact that he is affianced, and wants to marry the girl he chose. Who will win his affections, Delia, or his soon-to-be-bride? I started reading this book, and it was fine. But when I had to put it down to use the facilities, I became aware that I was not much interested in picking it up again, simply because it read like a rehash of tropes I'd read in romance a million times before. It wasn't that it was bad, but for someone used to reading romance, there isn't much to recommend it beyond the standard boilerplate romance. Did not finish, do not recommend unless this is one of your first romances.

Star Wars: Princess Leia by Mark Waid, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson and Jordie Bellaire- After the destruction of the Death Star, Princess Leia wants to do something to help the Rebellion besides being a figurehead and mourning her dead parents. From General Dodonna, she is told to just do what she has been doing- he doesn't want her to leave the base because there is a price on her head, and on all Alderanians. But she refuses to cower and mourn. Instead, she sets off with Evaan, another Alderanian, to gather her scattered people and keep them safe. Not that Evaan is completely on her side. She believes that Leia is an Ice Princess who won't even mourn her parents. But as they gather up the Alderanians, Evaan begins to see that Leia has her people's best interests at heart. But when the gathering of the scattered remnants of Alderan, a traitor within the ranks threatens to bring down the Empire on all their heads. And when The scattered peoples she is gathering come to the attention of the Empire, can Leia rally even those who are only half Alderanian to keep her people and their legacy, free? I loved this comic. I loved the look at Leia and saw that she was just as much of a kick-ass warrior as her mother, Padme Amidala, was. I mean, we get to see a kick-ass Leia in the original game, but she kinda got lumped into the "romance plot with Han Solo" thing. And I don't mind seeing Leia as strong and a kick-ass lady warrior. This graphic novel not only fills that niche, but also shows her as a diplomat and a charismatic leader who is a believable leader. Highly recommended.

"Fight Like a Girl: Learning Curve by David Pickney and Soon Lee- Amarosa's brother is dying, and fighting for his life. But when the Gods decide to grant her request for the access to the wishing well. If she can survive eight battles against opponents chosen to face her by the Gods, she will get to make a wish... and save her brother. But while she will have a weapon she was given that can be literally anything, she can also find things on the way. that she can use  what will be more important is the knowledge of herself on the way that will determine whether or no0t she is successful. But when her brother takes a turn for the worse, can Amarosa's boyfriend reach her in time to get her to see her dying brother before she dies? I found this an interesting graphic novel, but the novel itself is somewhat confusingly laid out, with so many ads in the middle between chapters- chapters for the same other graphic novels over and over. I thought the story was okay, as was the art, but the story was a bit confusing and I don't know if I'd pick up the next one. Neither recommended nor not recommended.

New Suicide squad: Volume 1- Pure Insanity by Sean Ryan, Rob Hunter, Jeremy Roberts and Blond- The Suicide Squad has been reconstituted, with Deathstroke, Joker's Daughter, Harley Quinn, Black Manta and Deadshot. They are sent into Russia to find out about a new weapon program. But when things go way south, Vic Sage, the new agent in charge with Amanda Waller, thinks she is totally to blame for the mess. But can Waller school Sage on what must really happen? And can Black Manta keep order in the squad itself, or will Sage's new additions break the team in ways that Waller cannot repair? I found this only sort of interesting. I wasn't interested in many of the characters, such as "Joker's Daughter" and Harley Quinn. I realize everyone ay not be the same, but since I know there is a suicide squad movie coming out, I thought I'd check it out. It was only... okay. I didn't really care and that didn't change for me during the graphic novel, so I wouldn't exactly recommend it.

Prince of Dreams by Lisa Kleypas- Emma Stokehurst's family is upset that she is interested in a man named Adam, Lord Millbank,m who her family knows as a man wanting to marry a fortune. But she is comp[lately in love with Adam. Only her mother-in-law, Tasia';s sole family, Prince Nikolas Angelovsky, is very interested in Emma. Even though she has bright red hair and is uncommonly tall, Nikolas is only interested in Emma. But when he warns off Adam Millbank and seduces Emma into his bed, and promises her that she can bring her menagerie onto his estate and keep all the animals she has collected and even to rescue more. But when Emma marries him, convinced that Adam didn't love her as she thought he did, she marries Nikolas instead- also against the wishes of her family, but is convinced. When she is married to Nikolas, though, she begins to hate him when he treats her with extreme indifference. But when Adam returns, he tells Emma that Nikolas warned him off and that was the only reason he left her. Although he proposes an affair with himself, Emma turns him down, but it makes her hate him, yet she refuses to divorce him. But when Nikolas discovers a picture beneath another picture on his estate, the art restorer uncovers finds himself looking at a man who looks exactly like himself: his own ancestor, Prince Nikolai, who was killed because of the love of his wife, which made him lose favor with Peter the Great. But as he relives the life of his ancestor and the love of his wife, Emilia, can he loose the feelings he has for his current wife, Emma? I found myself wondering why I have such a strong bad reaction to romances with characters from Russia. I don't know if the way Russians are depicted, but each one sort of left a bad taste in my mouth. Nikolas especially seems to be heartless in pursuing Emma and yet when he has her, he doesn't want to actually care for her. I ended u not liking this much, because  Nikolas lost my sympathy and never got it back. Emma was okay, and had my sympathy, but I just never felt that she and Nikolas should end up together. Not recommended.

Seduce Me At Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas- Winnifred, or Win Hathaway was always a delicate child, but when she was affected by scarlet fever, it left her even weaker. But when she has a chance to go to the south of France to undergo a treatment that could strengthen her, she takes it, leaving behind her "brother and childhood friend, a Romany named Kev Merripen. Kev has long loved her, but he is also afraid of harming her with his love and passion, and he thinks he is so far below her that he could never reach up to her level, even though he has been running her family's estate for years by the time she returns. She doesn't come back alone, though. With her is the doctor who cured, Dr. Harrow, who has not only has he cured her, he wants to be closer to her. But even though he has seemingly cured you, he wants a marriage in name only, so that she can remain healthy and like herself forever. But Win wants to fight for Kev- until he tells her that he cannot love her the way she wants. But when she decides to marry Dr. Harrow instead, Kev can barely keep his hands to himself. And he is also somehow linked to Cam Rohan, Win's sister Amelai's husband, who is also Rom. As Cam is determined to discover what links them, along with a tattoo of a pooka horse, each o a separate part of their body, can they uncover the truth in time to win her and keep her away from her Doctor, who he doesn't trust with his life?  I actually liked this one. I liked Kev's intensity and how he and Cam sparked off each other and how Win brought him around to her own way of thinking. I felt this was enjoyable, but not so great as to knock my socks off. Recommended by not hightly.

Natsume's Book of Friends by Yuki Midorikawa. Natsume is called out from his old school by a former classmate named Shibats, who fell in love with a Wisteria Spirit. But SHibata has an ulterior motive. There is a house on his block that is haunted by two dolls who were undergoing a battle to become the final doll, which is used to curse people, when the man responsible died. Now, Shibata wants Natsume to take care of the dolls. But can Natsume survive the curse dolls? Then, Natsume is approached by a Yokai who tells him a story of his aunt, Reiko, and how she won a bride from a battling pair of Yokai. Finally Natsume must help his friend Mr. Matoba escape from a spirit who wants to eat him. But his accidental destruction of a mirror may put both their lives at risk. Can they escape the spirit together? I love this series, and I liked the stories within. I really enjoyed the story about Reiko. Reading this series has made me want to learn more about her life and hear more stories about her.. I would definitely read more and can't wait for the next volume. Highly recommended.

Too Hot to Touch by Lora Leigh- This is a book of three small novellas set in Lora Leigh's "Breed "series. "Christmas Heat" involves a Librarian named Haley McQuire and a Jaquar Breed named Noble Chavin. Haley found a traitor to the Breed, and reported it to Jonas McQuade. But when she is nearly killed  by the traitor or his or her compatriots, it's up to Noble to protect her over the Christmas Season. "A Christmas Kiss", has Jessica Raines, a woman considered to be a traitor to the Breeds, and Hawke Esteban. But when he finally subjects Jessa to the mating heat he has denied for too long, can he convince her that what she thinks she knows is wrong? Then, in "Primal Kiss", Kita Engalls loves her father, but her father has been working against the breeds, and when Kita runs away, the Breed warrior Creed Raines, a Lion Breed shifter. But can he keep her safe when she starts the breeding heat deep inside him, and can he keep her safe from a truth she doesj't want to hear about her father? I liked these three novellas/short stories. In a world where the werewolves seem to hold supernatural sway, the Breed stories are a (literal) breed apart. While some of the details cam sound more "squidgy" than erotic (at least to me, this is a refreshing change from traditional werewolf and werebreedesque novels. Recommended.

Reap the Wind by Karen Chance Cassie Palmer is not just ay old seer, she is the most powerful seer in her generation, the Pythia. But instead of being raised by other seers and the mages who are their support system, she was raised in a vampire court, and not many of the other seers seem to trust her. But now that is changing since she manipulated time to save a number of young seers. But she must help a demon lord find his half-human son, who happens to be her lover, along with Mircea, the Prince of the Vampire Court where she was raised. But when she gets inlved in an otherside war, all bets are off, and when the Mages decide to destroy Mircea, Cassie can't help but be drawn into the battle... I liked this book, I started out reading a related series, about Diana Basarab, Mircea's dhampir daughter, and Cassie was a character in that series. I do like this series as well, as the characters are fairly similar in how they snark at the world and take on challenges. I liked this book, though I haven't read all the other books in the series, or even the one before this, it was easy to figure out what was going on and to root for Cassie and her friends. Recommended,

Lord of Legend by Susan Krinard- Mariah Donnington is not exceptionally good-looking and doesn't have a large dowry to recommend her, so why is Lord Donnington proposing marriage to her? And why does he leave her untouched on her wedding night? Mariah finds an exact double of her husband imprisoned on the estate, and thinks this is a mad brother or similar, but the mam seems perfectly fine, if unused to speaking. Not only does her husband leave her untouched, but soon after, he goes abroad, leaving her alone at Donnington with no one but her mother-in-law and brother in law for company, she frees the man, who she names Ash. But it turns out that the man and she are irresistibly attracted to each other. Who is he and why was he imprisoned at Donnington? Can she overcome her mother-in-law's blaming her for her husband leaving and solve the mystery of Ash before her husband, with his plans for her and the stranger, returns? And what are his plans for Ash, anyhow? And why did he marry her and leave? Ash may be more than he seems, with a connection to a world that Mariah's mother often sought. But will their relationship survive her husband's machinations? This book snared me with an unusual hook. Ash is Arion, King of the Unicorns. Mariah's husband needs her to be a virgin for him to be attracted to her. But I didn't find the actual book to be as interesting as the idea of a romance with unicorn. I mean, it was okay, but this book didn't set me on fire, and I felt no attraction to the hero, or to the heroine as well, even though I did like the ending. Recommended, but only slightly.

Real Vampires Live Large by Gerry Bartlett- Gloriana St. Clair is a former actress and prostitute from the Elizabethan era (back then, actresses were usually both). Now, she runs a vintage clothing boutique. But a Vampire hunter on her trail is seeking not only her life, but endangering the lives of all the other vampires who live in her building. But in addition, since Gloriana hasn't really troubled to use her power as a vampire despite her long life, she is also finding herself being stalked by what are known as "energy vampires", who remove the energy a vampire stores up when they don't use their vampire powers. And since Gloriana tends to live just like a human, except for the blood drinking and the hot, hot vampire sex, she practically shines to the energy vampires. But when it seems that her best friend has fallen victim to the energy vampires, becoming addicted to their wares, Gloriana must go and try to find the vampires responsible and try to bring them down from the inside. But can she do that all by herself? I liked this book. Gloriana isn't one of those utterly perfect heroines who can't do wrong. I liked Glory, and her carefree attitude. I liked how she dealt with her friends and enemies both and how down-to-earth she was. I found myself loving the character of Gloriana and the situations she got herself into and how she got herself out of it. Recommended, and I want to read more about Gloriana.

The World According to Wonder Woman by Matthew K. Manning and illustrated by Paul Bulman-This book tells the new story of Wonder Woman, of her childhood, her new backstory and a list of her allies, enemies and the gods, of whom she is now one. Not only is she ruler of Themiscyra (known as "Paradise Island" once upon a time), and also the half-divine daughter of Zeus and her mother Hippolyta, and now the God of War after being the original God (Ares)'s pupil. Included is a map of Themiscyra and a limited edition poster of the image on the cover, minus the title, author and artist's names. I liked this book as an overlook at the new background of Wonder Woman. I noticed that the Gods are all less than human, except for Eros, Stryfe, Dionysus, and Hera, who know is on the side of humans. We also get to see some of Wonder Woman's allies and her brothers and sisters in the ranks of children of Zeus. I liked it, but it seems to be caught somewhere between being for kids and teens. Recommended, but more for tweens than anything else.

DreamSeeker by C. S. Friedman- Jessica Drake is not the child of her parents. Her DNA is completely different and she comes from an entire other world, an alternate Earth. This earth has powers possessed by people known as "gifts". But Jessica's gift is Dreamwalking, which the people of the alternate Earth both fear and hate, thinking that such a gift will destroy, or can destroy the world. The only allies that Jessica has in the other world is The Green Man a hunter whose real name is Sebastian., and Isaac, the son of a Shadow Major. But he no longer wants to be a Shadow, especially after befriending Jesse. Now that she is back, she has to realize that her life has changed. Her family home has burned to the ground, and her mother is no longer herself, having suffered a stroke during the events of Jessica discovering Earth Prime. Now, Jesse has only one driving idea- to get a healer from Earth Prime for her mother. As it turns out, though, a Healer can't help her mother and she needs a Flesh Shaper instead. But how can Jesse return to Earth Prime. and get the aid of the people she needs with the gate to Earth Prime destroyed? And meanwhile, Jesse can help her, but the cost to himself may be more than he is willing to pay. Can he find the courage within himself to let down his own family? I never read the first book in this series, Dreamwalker, but I have long loved C. S. Friedman books like "In Conquest Born" and :"Madness Season". This book didn't disappoint me in the slightest. I enjoyed every bit of it and I wanted to see what was going to happen to Jesse and especially at the end, as Jesse now has dead Earth Prime spirits hunting her, and she can no longer trust one of the people who she once thought of as an ally. I enjoyed the book, the story and the characters, and I can't wait to see what happens. Highly recommended.

1635: A Parcel of Rogues by Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis- The Diplomatic Embassy from the ESA was imprisoned in the Tower of London, but at the end of the Baltic War, they were broken out by spies working on their behalf. But not all members of the Diplomatic Party left England afterwards. Because Oliver Cromwell is looking for his sons, which have disappeared when the King and his men arrested Cromwell because of the histories that came out of the ESA, which reveals that Oliver killed him in the future world. Along with Oliver goes Julia Sims, an American Sharpshooter, her husband Alex MacKay, Darryl McCarthy, who, as someone whose family came from Ireland, deeply mistrusts Oliver Cromwell, as a hate that was passed down from his family and relatives. Also with them are Gayle Mason, who has taken a deep liking to Oliver Cromwell, and he seems to feel something for her as well. But when Richard Boyle sets a bunch of bully boys and assassins on the trail of the ESA party, they must find their way to safety and find Oliver's sons while keeping a low profile in England. But can they escape to Scotland and Alex's relatives without bringing the bully boys with them? And can they find Oliver's sons and escape England with them and then return to the ESA? I like this series, which starts from an interesting point and has only expanded on it from there. I enjoyed how the books expand each part of the story, following the war and what happens after. I find this "alternate history/time travel into the past" series to be very exciting and interesting. As someone who lives history and "What if?" stories, this series and this book scratches a very specific itch, but I love this series a lot. Highly recommended.

Swords and Scoundrels by Julia Knight- Vocho and Kacha are ex-duelists who have fled their former home, the city if Reyes. This is especially hard on Kacha, who was the pet student of the Guildmaster of the Duelist's Guild, Eneko. Now, they survive by pretending to farm and by robbing the coaches of the rich that pass by  When they rob a coach with Kacha's old lover, Petri Egimont, on board, they take everyone's money, swords, clothes and possessions, along with a chest with five locks on it- and they defeat a mage to accomplish this as well. Inside, there is plenty of money, and also papers. Unbeknownst to either Vocho or Kacha, the papers are from the former King of Castan, offering to sell out some mines in the country to the Ikarans if they will return him to the throne. The money is to bribe the councilors to be on his side. When Vocho gets the chest open, he and Kacha take some of the papers to Reyes with the aid of a friend named Dom and Vocho's manservant, Cospel. But going back to Reyes brings them back to the attention of the guild, as the Prelate, who blames Vocho for the death of a priest who was the Prelate's favorite. And as it turns out, someone is manipulating the situation from behind the scenes. But is it the guildmaster, Eneko, or is it the magician who has wormed his way into a relationship with the King? or is it someone else? I wasn't all that invested in Vocho and Kacha at the beginning of the book, I did get behind both of them eventually. I liked how both characters are presented as deeply flawed, but then, so is everyone in the books. I liked the reveal of why Dom seemed so very weird and strange, and how he changed so much when they went to Reyes. I liked the book and I  would recommend it- just stick with it at first.

Legends and Liars by Julia Knight= Vocho and Kacha have been forced to flee to Ikaras, but the Ikarans have a order to capture all Reyens in the country. But Vocho and Kacha need the help of a mage, because Vocho has been tattooed on his back with a magical tattoo, and they need it removed. Through their friend Jokin, they find a mage named Esti, a plant mage who can remove Vocho's tattoo and set him free. But the cost for removing his tattoo that can control his actions. But part of the cost is a sucking wound that saps him of energy, and a possibly dangerous addiction to the Jollop she dispenses to help him with the pain. She also reveals to Vocho and Kacha that the Primate of the city, Bakar, has been driven insane by the potions delivered by Esti to the mage Sabates. But while Sabates seems like the one to defeat to free Reyen. It may be that his second in command, Alicia, is far more dangerous. But no one is going to pay more than Kacha's former lover, Petri Egimont. But can Vocho and Kacha return to Reyes  in time to save Egimonr from Eneko's torture? I found this book to be much more interesting than the first one. It was easier for me to like the heroes, even though Vocho is still something of a whiny butt. I preferred Kacha to Vocho, even if she does seem far more stand-offish than her brother. I even felt a shred of sorrow for what happened to Petri, but the story seems to be over at the end of the book. Given that this is going to be a trilogy, though I suspect not. Recommended.

Warlords and Wastrels by Julia Knight- At the end of "Legends and Lairs", Vocho and Kacha had succeeded in freeing Reyes from the troubles that beset it, and rose to positions high in the guild. Kacha became guildmaster, and Vocho a senior member who runs the guild when his sister is otherwise occupied- and it drives him crazy, because he likes dueling, but dealing with the day to day running of the guild and the complaints of the seniors, is driving him crazy. Meanwhile, Kacha has largely abandoned the running of the guild to daydream about Egimont, who she believes is dead. But Petri, who has been hideously scarred by Eneko, has found a new profession, training the bandits of a small northern valley how to fight for their leader, Scar. But his aid brings the attention of the regent of Reyes, Bakar, who sends Vocho and Kacha to deal with them along with a guard captain and a troupe, at Vocho's request, because Kacha needs to have her mind taken off her problems. But Petri Egimont's memories of his time with Kacha are no longer good ones, and he blames her for his maiming. And when Scar and her group team up with a wizard, the situation rapidly spirals out of control for everyone. What will happen when Kacha and Petri meet again. and will Kacha be forced to kill the man she once loved? I found this to be the best book by far of the three. I felt the characters were the most well-rounded in this book, and I sympathized with just about everyone (except the wizard, of course, but he's a scumbag. I also liked the open-ended nature of the book and how Vocho finally found love. It was an excellent book, one that I really enjoyed. Highly recommended,

Driven by Kelley Armstrong- Elena Michaels is head of a werewolf pack based in New Jersey, but she agrees to take back a werewolf named Malcolm, an utter psychopath who killed humans for sport, but he proves he can take orders and promises to obay Elena, so she reluctantly allows him back. But the family known as Cains are also werewolves, but are considered mutts, due to not being connected to any of the clans. But when Davis Cain finds his family slaughtered and skinned, he goes to the pack for help and to try and save the rest of his family. But while Malcolm and many of the Weres don't understand Elena wanting to help and save the Cains, Elena isn't going to let other Werewolves be destroyed. But when she finds out what is really behind the attacks, will she be driven to punish both sides? I liked this book. It wasn't really more than a hsort story, but the characters looks are both disturbingly anime-ish and look like something out of "Twilight". by which I mean to say that the cover looks like a teen book rather than an adult novel. This troubled me, because I didn't think this was supposed to be a YA book when I first picked it up. The story was good, but I found it best to ignore the pictures that accompanied it. I mean what purpose did that serve. Is this supposed to be "Teen's first real adult werewolf novel"? I'm not sure, but the cover definitely doesn't represent, to me, the inside story. Recommended- just ignore the art.

Queene of Light by Jennifer Armintrout- Ayla, a half faery who works as a faery in the Assassin's Guild, is sent to hunt a werewolf in the Darkworld, part of the series of caverns, sewers and train tunnels that the faery races were driven into during their long war with humans. When the veil between the human world and the faery world collapsed, elves and faery races were thrown into the human world, but tensions led to war. Now, Ayal is hunting a were, but a Death Angel targets her, it becomes mortal because she is half human. She should kill him but leaves him alive. He recovers, but tracks her down... in order to kill her, he thinks, but finds that he doesn't want to kill her, but is in love with her. Meanwhile, back in Lightworld, Arya's mentor, the Faery Cedric, wants to marry her, and he is the brother of the Queene, Mabb. But when they are married, his sister is killed, and now Arya is in line to be Queene, even though she doesn't really love Cedric, but Malachi. And when the Faerie council won't let Cedric be King, and he realizes that Ayla won't be steered or guided by him, Cedric comes out against Ayla and implies she might have killed his sister. But Ayla is innocent of the deed, and must defend her new position against Cedric, including a duel against him to claim her place as Queene. But can she win against the man who was her mentor? I liked this book. I liked how Ayla started out wanting to just have a better life than she had, but once she becomes Queene, she is invested in doing what's right for her people.I really enjoyed the book and how she ends up choosing love over position. Recommended.

Child of Darkness by Jennifer Armintrout- Cerridwen is the daughter of Queene Ayla and her lover, Malachi, but because of her black feathery wings, every Fae at court in the Lightworld is supposed to hide their wings.. But while Queene Ayla wants what is best for her daughter, that includes arranging for her marriage to Cedric, one of her advisors. But Cedric has fallen in love with a human gypsy and plans to escape Lightworld with her and her clan, and Cerridwen herself has fallen for a Dark Elf warrior who doesn't know of her Fae ancestry. When the Dark Elves make plans to wipe out the Fae with the Waterhorses, a bunch of surface Fae offer the Queene and her court shelter, but Ayla is too sure that this is a trap and refuses to fall for it. But when the threat of the Waterhorses proves true, Ayla and Malachi must risk all to keep their daughter safe. But can they save her from the wrath of the Waterhorses and let the rest of the court escape? Or will Cerridwen's  love for the Elf put her in even greater danger than even her parents can save her from? This was the second in the Lightworld/Darkworld series, and I found Cerridwen a lot less interesting than I did Ayla. I mean, she came off as far more spoiled and less interesting than Ayla, and while it was okay, I didn't start caring about the main character until most of the way through the story. But I did end the book wanting to find out what happened to Cerridwen, it was a long way to go to get there. Recommended, but only slightly.

Thorn Queen by Richelle Mead- Eugenie Markham is a Shaman, but she is also Queen of the Thorn Land in Faerie, which she was tricked into by Dorian, her Faerie lover. But while Eugenie is no longer with Dorian, she is having a romance with Kiyo, a Kitsune Vet who is also the father of a Fae child with a ruler of a fellow land. Eugenie is expected to give the child a gift when it is born, but isn't sure what the best gift is. Meanwhile, while riding through her land, she discovers that girls have been going missing, and she decides to go in search of the girls, as she is already searching for her own sister, Jasmine. But when she asks about the missing girls in Austin, where the other end of the gate near where the girls are missing comes out, she meets two shamans, Art and Abigail, who seem perfectly friendly, but say they know nothing about gentry girls coming over the gate into our world. But when she meets a magic-less gentry named Leith, she thinks that this is at last a man she can just be friends with. But when Leith causes her to be kidnapped and subjected to rape, Eugenie is all out for revenge. But can she take the revenge she wants? Or will she alienate everybody who loves her by taking said revenge? I loved this book, which shook up Eugenie's world in many, many ways, both in who she is with and her view of the Otherworld and the gentry, and shamans in general. I loved the book and can't wait to see what happens next. Highly recommended.

In the Midnight Hour by Patti O'Shea- Ryna is a Gilneal, a human offshoot with magic powers, and a troubleshooter, one of the more powerful ones. But she's become obsessed with a cartoon series called "Deke Summers, P.I.", but she's become aware that there is a human soul imprisoned in the cartoon, and she sets out to free him, she discovers that she only has a moon to set him free permanently. But Deke doesn't know why he was imprisoned. Ryne knows that her former mentor, Anise, has become even more powerful since she went to the dark side, but for some reason, she wants Deke out of the way. But why? Ryne must know, which is why she freed Deke from the cartoon. But can Deke remember what it was about himself that made him such a threat to Anise? And when it comes down to the final fight against Anise, can Deke make a difference when he has no magic at all? I loved this book. I liked the whole setup of Ryne and her sister, who had given up her magical powers because she fell in love with a human, who then left her. I also liked how both Deke and Ryne annoy one another long before they fall in love. I also liked how Deke shows up on Ryne's door at the end, and I just loved the entire story. Highly recommended.

True Blood by Patricia Waddell- When a passenger liner explodes in League space, Danna MacFayden is assigned to the tribunal who is looking into the deaths of the 40-something people on board. Also on the council is Cullon Gavriel, a True Blood of the planet of Korcia. Korcia considers a "True Blood" is one of the original ruling families which has come down to the present unmingled with those of non-ruling families. Korcia, through Cullon, threatens war on the League because one of the people on the leisure liner was a True Blood, and he wasn't the first one to die. But as Cullon comes to rely on Danna's psychic ability to read the history and feelings of the owners of objects, he becomes aware of a rebellion on his homeworld that could overthrow the current government. But when Cullon and Danna end up in a relationship, will they be torn apart by the conflict on Korcia and Cullon's True Blood status? Another book I loved. I looked for a good science fiction romance, and this book just fit the bill. I loved the world-building, the characters, and the situations in the book. I really enjoyed this book and loved the world. I hope that Patricia Waddell wrote more books, because I'd love to read more in this world. Highly recommended.

The Demon You Know by Christine Warren- Abby Baker is a mere researcher at a local TV station. When a friend of hers needs someone to run a camera, she reluctantly helps out, but in the fray at the mob scene that results, she gets a passenger, a fiend named Louamides. The Demon Rule has been looking for Lou, but when he tries to evict Lou from Abby's subconscious, he is unable to evict Lou from her body because Lou has a copy of the Solus spell which can put out the sun. With no way to get Lou out of Abby, she is in danger from Uzkiel, a major fiend who wants to take over the human world by extinguishing the sun that the fiends cannot stand. But when Rule begins falling for Abby, can the two of them team up to take Uzkiel down with the help of Lou, the most cowardly fiend in existence? I loved this book, which was one in a series about many different kinds of characters- Werewolves, wereleopards, Demons, fiends, vampires and so on. I liked this book, which was about Rule, a demon who acts as a policeman for his people. And while Demons are good guys, Fiends are definitely bad. And Rule looks down on those who have fallen in love. Now it's his turn to fall. And what a fall it is! I loved every bit of the humiliation Rule feels in his fall, and the love that results between the very Catholic Abby and the Demon Arulnagal. Highly recommended.

Monday, January 11, 2016

2015, Part 10

Sweet Revenge by Lynsay Sands- Kyla is being taken to the MacGregors, to marry their Laird. But when her party is attacked by men led by Galen MacDonald, he is there to abduct her to marry her, because the Laird of MacGregor killed his wife and unborn child, and he means to take Laird MacGregor's promised bride away in revenge. But when he finds her, she is injured, raving and in a fever. When she rises from the cart to attack one of the MacDonalds, they are impressed, but when she passes out after being put on her back, Galen is worried. And when he realizes she is running a fever, he takes her to the shore and bathes her in the water, and also gets turned on by her body and they share a kiss. When they get to the island that is the MacDonald land, he marries her. But when she recovers, she doesn't know what happened. Can she discover what she has agreed to while she was dead. And when she and one of the MacDonald women are kidnapped by the MacGregor and his men, and can she save her brother  from the horrible woman he married, who tried to kill him. This was a good book and I really enjoyed the story. Lynsay Sands is ususally one of my go-to writers for vampire books, but this one had nothing to do with vampires. Instead it's historical and based in medieval Scotland. I liked the book. I liked the feistiness of the heroine and how the hero genuinely liked and appreciated her. I also loved the story, and all the threads that wove together to make it up. Recommended.

Vampire Sunrise by Carole Nelson Douglas- Delilah Street is a private eye in Las Vegas, a Vegas which is filled with CineSims, a kind of zombie based on Characters and Actors from Black and White movies and television, Vampires and Werewolves. But right now, Delilah is more worried about her FBI lover, Ricardo Montoyo, aka Ric, Aka The Cadaver Kid. When she rescues him from the Karnak and the vampires who reign there, he is dead, but a kiss from her, along with her Silver Familiar, brings him back to life. To bring him back to consciousness, she even goes to Washington D.C. to bring back his mother, a psychologist, to help get him over the trauma of being drained unto death. But when she finally gets him back, she gets drawn into the case of the woman she sees in the mirror. The woman is the daughter of the Werewolf Mob Boss, Cesar Cicereau. She was killed, along with her vampire lover and fiancé, were killed by both sides, but now Loretta has had her fiancé brought back, and is seeking to come back herself. Delilah finds out that Loretta and her vampire Prince were killed because both the vampires and the Werewolves were afraid that they would have children, which was a threat to both families. And when Ric wants to go back to the Karnak and free the slaves of the vampires blood hunger, Delilah and her hound, Quicksilver, go along, only to free an Egyptian God named Shazmou, brother of the God named Bez. But when Delilah tries to find out who is behind the Karnak, and also to find Lilith, the woman who looks just like her. Plus, she must also deal with Snow, the sexy vampire who gave her the Brimstone Kiss in the first place. But can she and Ric overcome the vampires of the Karnak and find Quicksilver when he goes missing. And can she do it all without losing someone that she dearly loves? I found this an interesting novel. Delilah looks like a screen siren from the 1950's, except more curvy, and I liked not only her, and her obvious psychological problems, but that she deals with them and is freaked out about them appropriately. I found this an interesting novel. This isn't the first book in the series, it's the third. Recommended.

Blood Memories by Barb Hendee- Eleisha Clevon may look young and innocent, which makes people want to take care of her, but she's neither young nor innocent. Eleisha is a vampire. And her innocence is just one of the ways she hunts. When her fellow vampire and friend Edward kills himself, she is with him, trying to persuade him to stay alive. But Edward has become unhinged- storing the bodies of animals and humans in his house, not to mention trying to cook and eat real food. He dashes out into the morning light and burns into ashes. Eleisha stays in his house through the day, tucked into a hidden space in the cellar. She is upset about Edward's suicide, but when he died, she made a mental connection with one of the men in the front yard. When he later tracks her down in a bar, she is freaked out, and she takes her charge, William, and goes in search of another vampire she knows, Maggie. Maggie takes her in and takes care of her and William. But when the same man shows up with another man and kills Maggie, she ends up making a mental connection with the man, a human psychic working with the police named Wade. Wade wants to know about Eleisha, but his companion, Dom, wants to kill not only Maggie, but William and Eleisha as well. Dom, who is another psychic, a psychometrist.who believes all vampires are heartless killers. But when Dom kills William, Eleisha and Wade flee together, and Eleisha discovers some things that she thought about Vampires are not only wrong, but deliberately misleading. But can Eleisha survive the vengeance of the vampire who made her when she discovers the truth? This was a new series from Barb Hendee, and while it took me a little bit to get into, Eleisha's story sucked me right in, and while Wade didn't interest me, I thought the truth behind the vampires was interesting, and how it took going into the minds of both the heroes, and one vampire who was not exactly a hero, but not exactly a villain, either, to discover the truth. Since this is going to be (at least) a trilogy, I am looking forward to more of Eleisha's story and seeing what other vampires might be left. Recommended.

All the Ways to Ruin a Rogue by Sophie Jordan-  When Aurelia was a child, her brother William brought home his friend, Maxim Alexander Chandler, Viscount Camden, and Aurelia fell instantly in love with him. But when she finally became a young woman, she wanted nothing more than to confess her feelings for him. But when she stumbled on Max and a servant girl having an assignation in the greenhouse, her heart is broken. When she makes a satirical picture of him as a devil with a small penis, his companions find the picture and call him "Cockless Chandler", he knows who drew the picture and begins to loathe her, thinking her a cold and calculating young woman. Now, years later, Aurelia's father is dead, having dissipated most of the family fortune. William has married a woman named Violet, and is trying to repair the family fortunes. This involved selling off most of the family properties, including the dower house, which has left Aurelia and her mother living with William and his wife. But Aurelia and Max are still enemies, tearing strips off each other every time they see each other. But when Aurelia becomes aware that her mother will be leaving at the end of the season, she decides that she must marry to have a life of her own, rather than going off and living with her aunt near Scotland. But much to his surprise, Max is told by William that he needs to stop living like a boy and live life as a man. And that means settling down and stopping chasing women and sleeping around. But Max can't because he's still hurting about the death of his parents and his sister. Yet, he finds he can't stand the idea of Aurelia marrying anyone- unless its him. But can Aurelia thaw his heart once she discovers that she never really got over her love for him?  I loved this book. I didn't like when Aurelia and Max hated each other, but I liked the sparks they struck off each other every time they crossed wits. I really didn't like when Max piled on when other people were hurting Aurelia- that made me really start to dislike Max. and I ended up not quite liking him at the end, because it isn't until the very end that he repents- and only after Aurelia leaves him. I didn't think he deserved her at that point. Yes, I get that he was hurting, but I despised him for how he treated her. So, recommended, but not highly.

A History of the Guillotine by Allister Kershaw- The Guillotine came to life just before the Revolution in France, and was used to kill both criminals and people whom the crown and the Revolution felt were enemies of the state. But while Dr. Guillotin proposed the machine, it was based on earlier machines. There was also a man called Louis who advocated the execution device, from which it was occasionally called the "Louisette", in his honor. This book traces the rise of the Guillotine, its construction, and then, the job it did and the men who did their duty by killing other men, along with their problems as the era went on, from how they were paid to their problems and the problems of even their relatives had in marrying and the way that children of the executioners experienced in trying to leave the profession or even marry outside of the other executioner families. This was a very interesting book, which went beyond the examination of the killing machine itself to look at the society and people who brought it to life and made it possible. It's not a long book, but I did find it interesting and fascinating. Recommended.

Veiled Truth by Vivi Anna- Lyra Magice is a sorceress, and quite a good one, working for Nocturne PD. Five years ago, she nearly fell victim to Dhampir Theron Lenoir's wiles. But now, she is in Europe, where Theron is giving a lecture about Ancient Texts. After, he invites her to view his collection in his home, and when Lyra sees a grimoire that could be used to help solve a series of murders back in Nocturne, she asks to borrow it, but Theron refuses. Feeling she has no choice, she knocks him out and steals the tome, bringing it back to Nocturne with her. Theron follows her, and instead of getting Lyra in trouble, he agrees to help with the investigation. But while Theron must make his nods to the other vampires in town, he comes to attention because of his father, a very old, very domineering vampire. Theron has magic of his own, but even he seems unequal to the task of keeping Lyra safe, especially when it seems that the killer, whomever he or she is, has designs on Lyra herself. But can they discover who is behind the killings, and bring them to justice, And can they find love with each other after their tense past? I didn't expect much out of this book, since it was a category romance and yet, this book went way beyond the usual category romance to really appeal to me. I loved the world and all the different characters and parts of this world. Recommended.

The Legend of Lyon R3edmond by Julie Anne Long- The Redmonds and the Everseas have been enemies for a long time. But when Lyon Redmond sees Olivia Eversea at a ball, he immediately falls for her. Since their families are so opposed to each other, they must sneak around to see each other. Plus, Lyon's father wants him to marry another woman, which causes friction between them, But when Lyon finally confesses his love for Olivia to his father and wants to marry her, his father threatens to disown him, and Lyon leaves and goes to Olivia and asks her to leave with him and marry him. But she doesn't want to leave her family, and he calls her a coward and leaves. Five years later, Olivia is getting set to marry a man named Landsdowne, but her heart really isn't in it. When she starts seeing reminders of Lyon Redmond everywhere, Olivia is torn between laughter at some of the ridiculous things they are claiming about Lyon. But when Lyon shows up to carry her off to his own personal estate, can he convince her to throw over her engagement to get back together with him, and what will the result be among their own families? I probably should have liked this book more, but it was only okay. The book is a mix of modern-day and "back five years ago" parts. Which just made the story seem choppy and I wondered who was going to betray Olivia in the present day. And I was right. The ending was nice, but went on too long, even if they referenced characters in the novel. This was only okay.

Five Ghosts by Frank J. Barbiere, Chris Mooneyham and Lauren Affe- Fabian Gray is a treasure hunter, and quite a successful one. But when he encounters an item called a "Dreamstone", there is a terrible accident and his sister is put into a coma, and the dreamstone fuses with Fabian's body, allowing him to call on the ghosts of five literary characters to help him out in his travels. These are "The Hunter", analogous to Robin Hood, "The Samurai"- Miyamoto Musashi, "The Monster"- Dracula, "The Detective"- Sherlock Holmes and "The Magician"- Merlin. With the aid of these ghosts, Fabian can overcome almost any obstacle- except returning his sister from her coma. But he is in search of more Dreamstone, and even "The Isle of Dreams", where it is said that any dream can come true. But can Fabian find the Island with the help of his friends, Sebastian, Jezebel and another woman with Dreamstone embedded in her cheeks, who can call on the aid of her own Ghost, Sinbad? Or will Sebastian be foiled by his old friend turned foe, Iago? I had never seen this series, or even heard about it, until it turned up at my Library, and then I picked it up when I saw that a co-worker and fellow comics enthusiast had it on hold, I picked it up for myself. It's an excellent book, with great art and an engaging story. I liked the introduction of dreamstone and found myself wondering about it. It allows people to call upon the assistance of literary characters, and the ghosts aren't really identified- these are just "best guesses" on the part of myself. and other readers of the series, though it's clear that "The Detective" is clearly meant to be Sherlock Holmes, based on the fact that when Fabian is attempting to get the ghosts to agree to help him, he must struggle to "221B". And the character even looks like Holmes.. Highly recommended.

Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir by Stan Lee, Pter David and Colleen Doran- This comic is a biography of Stan Lee, from the time when he was just a child, to early 2015, told in his own words and framed as Stan Lee giving a talk about himself. He also interacts with himself as a kid, at least three times. In it, he reveals his early life, his triumphs in the publishing field, and his defeats as well. At a time, he was ready to quit the comics industry because he was convinced that the kind of stories comics were telling was killing the industry, but his wife told him that he should make comics the way he thought was right- if he was successful, he'd have revived the industry- if he was wrong, and comics died, well, he'd planned on quitting anyway, so what did he have to lose? Of course, he did revive the industry by making comics characters more realistic and relatable. Teenagers who actually had real teenage concerns, and so on, Characters who were other than brawny jock he-men, like Reed Richards  the brainy, thin scientist, and Bruce Banner, the alter-ego of the Hulk. Also, a lot of alliteration of names. This is a fun and interesting graphic novel, and I enjoyed it from start to finish. The writing is excellent, and the art by Colleen Doran is clean and clear- easy to understand. Highly recommended.

Led Astray: The Best of Kelley Armstrong by Kelley Armstrong- This book contains 23 different short stories by Kelley Armstrong. All of the stories have been published before, in short story collections. Some of the stories are in the "Caineville collection, about a town run and full of faeries.  "Rakshasi" involves a Rakshasa who wants to be free of her master, but to do that, she will have to find a way to kill a man who she may not attack, "Kat" has a woman raised by a vampire have to cope when her foster mother is attacked by vampire hunters, "A Haunted House of Her Own" has a woman who wants to own a "Haunted House" inn. But when it seems that something in the house wants her dead, will she get her wish? "Learning Curve" has a vampire being stalked by hunters. What will she do with them? "The Screams of Dragons" has a boy who dreams of golden fields in his dreams. But burdened with a grandmother who thinks he is a dangerous Changeling, will he become the savior Cainesville needs? "The Kitsune's Nine Tales" has a bunch of guards sent to exile a traitor, but will they listen to the Emperor's advice about him? "Last Stand"- During the Zombie Apocalypse, one woman desperately tries to keep her race alive.  "Bamboozled" has a vampire and her hunter who move from town to town- why? "Branded" is a post-apocalyptic story about a girl in a fortress in the west. When the boy she loves stands to be revealed as a werewolf, what actions she will take to be with him? "The List" is about a vampire who is left off a list of "official vampires" made by an academic. What will she do to get on the list? "Young Bloods" has a young man who encounters a bunch of young vampires in a subway cat. But what will they do to him? "The Door" is another Post-Apocalyptic tale of a young girl whose parents must leave the house to scavenge for food and material to survive. When they pass on, who is left to take up their job? "Dead Flowers by a Roadside" has a man wrecked by the deaths of his wife and child in search of their spirits. But how will he find them? "Suffer the Children" tells the story of Addie, a survivor of her parents death and the village in which many children have died of a sickness. But when the mayor will do *anything* to bring the children back, especially his dead son, what will be the effect on the village? And what actions will be condone to get what he wishes? "The Collector" has a collector of Puzzles who is intrigued by a puzzle website and when they win a prize, goes to collect. But what is the prize, and does the collector want it? "Gabriel's Gargoyles" takes us back to Cainesville, and the town contest of finding all the Gargoyles. Can Gabe find them all and get the prize he wants for his aunt? "Harbringer" has a girl at college being haunted by the drowned dead. But can she interpret their message in time?  "V Plates" has a were who wants to lose his virginity. But when the whorehouse he goes to is one of the dead, will he survive the experience? "Life Sentence" has an executive who wants the perks of being undead without any of the drawbacks. Can he find the happy medium before he runs out of test subjects? "Plan B" has a man who wants to kill his wife and marry his mistress. But will events go as he planned? "The Hunt" has a pair of hunters who book "a Real English Hunt" and get far more than they bargained for... "Dead to Me" has a woman haunted by her dead husband's ghost. How can she be rid of him? And "Devil May Care" has a Welsh Trickery Fairy taken for quite a rise by a girl who seduced him. Can he keep his son safe from and with her? This is quite a collection of stories. I loved this entire book, but my favorite stories were the Cainville stories. If you haven't read much of Kelley Armstrong, or even if you have, this book has lots to enjoy and much to enjoy and much to discover, all to the good. Highly recommended.

Too Dangerous for a Lady by Jo Beverly- Lady Hermione Merryhew is on her way to see a relative who might give her and her married sister some money when he dies. In the Inn, a man intrudes into her room in the middle of the night. It's worse, because she actually knows him. At a long ago party in London, she met a dashing young Lieutenant named Mark Thayne. Now Mark, calling himself Ned Granger, is employed as a soy, ferreting out a group, known as the Crimson Band, who want to do the kind of overthrow in England, that the people in Paris did against the King. Mark has just stolen the plans for a series of letter bombs from the leader of the group's wife, Solange, a former revolutionary in France. She is the one who is most pushing the group towards violent, armed rebellion. And now, since he stole the plans, the group will be on his tail. But he doesn't tell Hermione what he is doing. He allows her to believe he is down on his luck and  stealing to survive. He stays most of the night and moves on in the morning. In the morning her sister and family move on, but another chance encounter with Mark puts her on Solange's radar, and she sends one of her bullyboys, the Boothroyds., after Hermione. But when Mark goes after Hermione and her family with the help of his old friend, Braydon, he ends up killing one of the Boothroyd brothers and decides to stick around and keep her safe from the Crimson Brand while Braydom continues on to London to notify Mark's boss. But as Mark and Hermione grow closer, she wants to go to London with her relative, Edgar, to find a possible cure for the disease he has. But can Mark keep her safe from the remaining Boothroyd Brother and Solange and her murderous ways, and even if he can keep her safe, will he want to marry her when he has such an important job for the government, and could she live with the uncertainty of such a job? I really enjoyed this book. I liked the main character except that the main heroine's name crossed with the nom de espionage of the male character made me keep thinking "Hermione Granger", which is a problem for those who read and loved Harry Potter. Also, this is the second female character named Hermione which I read recently. I wonder why, and if the name is becoming popular *because* of Harry Potter. But the character is very much not Harry Potter's Hermione, and is a wonderful character in her own right. I also loved how she is willing to argue with Mark and she even wins, and he's able to acknowledge when she is right. I loved this book, and I would definitely recommend this to others. Highly recommended.

Instinct: The Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon- Nick Gautier is a perhaps a typical young Cajun boy of New Orleans. But Nick isn't so typical. He's the son of a Demon called the Malichai, and as such, he has the power to bring on the apocalypse. Now that Nick's father is dead, Nick has inherited his powers, but he can't use them without losing part of his soul. But now, Nick's friend and bodyguard, Caleb, is sick, and something has taken away his demon powers. He's no more than a regular human. Also, it seems that something or someone set off the Apocalypse early, and when his mother is caught in the crossfire, Nick must go in search of the fruit which could save her life and restore Caleb. But as he finds out that he's even been more lied to when his aunt Menyara is actually a goddess named Cam who took away his mother's memory and was responsible for her meeting his father and becoming pregnant. But on his sojourn in the otherworld, Nick comes to know and trust Aeon, a Celtic God of Warfare. And when Livia betrays him, can Nick come back and keep from unleashing the wrath of the Malichai on the world? I loved this book, but it seems that the series is coming to an end. Nick is getting better with every moment, and his future self, Ambrose, has lost the power to contact him from the future. But I still want to read more. I enjoy young Nick before he becomes Ambrose, and I wonder what, if any, effect this series will have on Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series, and Nick/Ambrose's future in that world. Highly recommended.

Jeweled Fire by Sharon Shinn- Princess Corene of Welce has gone to Malinqua with her with the Empress, Filomara, to possibly marry one of her nephews and ascend to the throne. But she isn't the only princess there. Along with her is Melissande, Princess of Cozique, and Alette, Princess of Dhonsho. There is also Liramelli, daughter to the Prime Minister of Malinqua. With Corene is her bodyguard, Foley, the only person she brought with her from Welce. From Melissande, she learns that in addition to Steff, Filomara's grandson by her daughter Aravani, she has three possible heirs: Garameno, her oldest nephew and best suited to lead, but crippled in a horse-riding accident years ago; Jiramondi, her second nephew, and as Melissande calls him, "Sublime", in other words, interested sexually only in men, and Greggorio, her third nephew, strong in body, but pretty much an idiot when it comes to ruling a nation. But it seems that Greggorio was romancing a woman named Sarona, but when her body is found in the secret well beneath the palace, Corene begins wondering who might have wanted her dead, and why.she was killed while supposedly running away from the Palace. When it seems that someone wants Alette dead as well, as she is getting close to Greggorio, Corene and Melissande must keep the Dhonshon princess safe and return her to the man she loves. But when the festival welcoming Steff to the country turns murderous, Corene will have to save herself from a murderer who wants his own chosen heir on the throne. But can Corene, who has decided not to marry for the throne after all, discover what she really wants to do with her life, and who she wants to be with for the rest of her life? I loved this book, which is part of the Welce Royal Family stories. But it seems that the next story will revolve around Lucy, one of Darien Serlast's secret agents/spies. I hope I'm wrong, but maybe not. I enjoyed this book, which was an excellent mystery as well as a romance and adventure. I enjoyed every bit of the story and the characters, which really made the story shine. Highly recommended.

Superman: Sunday Classics- This book collects four years of Sunday Comics from the Superman Comic strip, which apparently was a whole different set of stories. Because these were published during the War years, many of the stories have to deal with Superman working on keeping up America's morale during the war, and with a short story of Superman rounding up Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini and bringing them before the world court in Geneva. They were good stories, albeit some of them went on for far too long, like the one with the Carnival of Stars from Hollywood touring the country to raise money for war bonds. Still it's not a bad collection and feels really hefty and weighty, with lots of story to get through. Recommended.

The Tower of Ravens by Kate Forsyth- No Horn is a half-Satyricorn who is unlike the rest of her tribe. She is about to become a woman, which means that she will be killed by the rest of the tribe if she hasn't grown horns. So she decides she must leave. And when she sees a group of winged, horned horses, she decides to make her escape on one. When her tribe catches the prisoner she freed, she kills him and takes his stuff and adds his teeth and a fingerbone to her necklace. When she makes her escape, she lands near the farm of Lewen and his parents, a former guard to the Righ and his mother, a healer and former priestess, along with her sister. They rename her Rhiannon and live with her until the group comes to pick up Lewen when they come to escort him to the capital city to join the guard. But as they and the other students head for the capital and choose the wrong area of the country, where a lord is trying to keep them in his castle and not let them travel on. But why? And why is his healer trying to kill Rhiannon? And can they get out of the castle before they find out why? I liked this book a lot. It had a great story, great characters and wonderful world building. I liked Rhiannon, and when her secret came out, it was amazing. I liked how she interacted with the other students and with Lewen himself. I liked how they fell in love and their time together, and  how the other characters came to know Rhiannon and her character. Highly recommended.

The Devious Dr. Jeckyll by Viola Carr- Eliza Jeckyll, daughter of Henry, also has a second side, Lizzy Hyde. She has fallen for a Royal Society Soldier, Remy, who is infected with a disease that turns him into a werewolf. But when a painter is killed, Remy brings Eliza in to find the killer. But the truth is mixed up with Dangerous French spies, Her father, and her many friends and acquaintances. But who are the incorruptibles and what is their secret, and what may it do with a plot against the Queen? This book is the sequel to "The Dangerous Lizzie Hyde". Here, Eliza Jeckyll hasn't been having a good year. She hasn't become the doctor or police scientist she wanted to be, despite catching the villain of the last book-= and letting Razor Jack go. And her relationship with Remy has stalled, since he proposed to her, and she turned him down, flat. Now, we get to see more of Remy's family, and meet his boss, based on the real-life Ada Lovelace. I really enjoyed this book, but Eliza never wears the lovely blue dress she is depicted in on the cover. Seriously. Recommended.

First Time with a Highlander by Gwyn Cready- Gerard Innes is an ad executive who has just had a really successful presentation. But when he drinks some *really* old Kerr whiskey, he winds up back in the 1700's, where Serafina Seonag Fallon has made a wish for a man, using her friend's magical herbs and whiskey- also Kerr whiskey. She needs a man who looks like her fiancé, Edward, to get back her cargo from the ship which is said to be bringing it in. Not only that, but when Gerard wakes up in the bed of Sera's friend, Abby, she has a gold wedding ring on one hand. It's hard for Gerard to believe that he has somehow been swept into the past, but he can't help but use his marketing expertise to help people in the past. But as he draws closer to the beautiful woman, he can't help but want to stay with her. But when Serafina's friend Undine tries to undo the summoning and send Gerard back to his old life, can he stop the magic and remain where his heart is? I picked up this book because it seems it's always the woman who ends up in the past, but this book has the MAN being the one drawn into the past- but this isn't the first book by Gwyn Cready with a male character coming to the past from the future. I liked the reversal of the usual trope and I liked how Gerard and Sera fell in love. This book is recommended, but the silliness level of some of the stuff that happens may not exactly be your jam.

After the Storm by Maya Banks- The Kelly family is right up there when it comes to helping people in trouble. So when adopted daughter Rusty finds a teenage boy looking for a job, she hires him to help out in the family hardware store. The young man, Travis, is trying to earn money for hiss sister, Eve, who ran away from her mother's second husband, and brought her two half-siblings with her when he started looking to turn her four year old half-sister into his "perfect wife". But when she took her relatives and ran from him, he had records falsified that make it seem like she is a deranged mental patient who could be dangerous to the two children she abducted. And Walt, her mother's second husband, is still on the search for her, so Evie can't go to the cops for help, or come to the attention of anyone who would try and "help" her, like doctors or social services. So when Travis comes to the attention of Rusty Kelly, Eve thinks that they must run, especially when Donovan Kelly promises to bring by a Doctor to see Evie's sick sister Cammie. But when a storm moves in and causes a tornado that takes the shitty trailer in which she and her siblings are living, Donovan and his team rescue Travis, Cammie and Evie and bring them to the Kelly family compound, Donovan falls in love with Evie. But when he decides to help her by taking out Walt, she overhears his plans and thinks he plans to betray her to save her half-siblings. But by the time Donovan finds out, she has already fled. Can Donovan find and rescue Evie before her Father-in-Law has her turned into a vegetable? This was a good romance that I really enjoyed. It was not hard to feel for Evie, who is trying to do her best by her half-sister and brother. She's been watching over her sister, who is sick, while her teenaged brother Travis finds a job to buy them food and medicine for Cammie. But all her work is for naught. Her sister is still sick and the horrible trailer she paid so much money to rent is destroyed. Later in the book, she thinks she is about to lose everything that means anything to her. This made me really feel for the heroine and made me feel that Donovan was that much more of a hero, and when he seems to betray her, it sent a pang right through me. Highly recommended.

Return of Scandal's Son by Janice Preston- Lady Eleanor Ashby is going to London after an unfortunare fire in her home, only for one of her horses to be shot while she and her aunt are on the road, resulting in an accident. She stops the carriage on the road behind them to prevent a second accident and meets Matthew Thomas, a merchant who is travelling to meet a cargo ship carrying his partner. But when Matthew realizes that someone is trying to kill Eleanor and makes sure to stick around so that she will be safe. But Matthew has secrets of his own, and as he grows close to Eleanor, he finds himself wanting to make peace with his own family. And Eleanor has old, unhealed  traumas of her own. Can the two of them overcome their adversarial relationship and find love together? I liked this book, which gave both hero and heroine equally screwed up pasts and emotional traumas. I liked this rather even-handed treatment of hero and heroine, and I liked the romance story. Recommended,

The Pirate Hunter by Laura Martin- William Greenacre is a Pirate Hunter, brought to the Caribbean by the Navy to catch the Pirate, Del Torres. But on his way there, he is shipwrecked, and barely makes it to the island, where he is rescued by Mia Del Torres, the infamous pirate's sister. But when she is taken prisoner by the governor of the island, she is told that she will be hanged unless she helps Will capture her brother. While everyone else on the ship seems to despise her, Will realizes that she has had nothing to do with her brother for years. He is also attracted to Mia, and loves her for helping to rescue him. But while she has helped him to find  her brother, when he is killed by William, someone needs to pay- and that someone seems to be Mia. Can William rescue Mia from the forces of law and those who see her as nothing more than a pirate whore? Another good story, which comes very quickly, but I liked the characters and the storyline, and the problems and tensions they encountered piqued my interest. Recommended.

Christian Seaton: Duke of Danger by  Carole Mortimer- Christian Seaton is in France to find out about the death of a French Spy who died. While in Paris, he goes into a tavern and meets Lisette, one of the tavern servers. Christian is entranced with the young woman, but the owner of the tavern warns  him off- the girl is her niece. But when Lisette agrees to meet Christian, it is to warn her that her aunt has decided to kill him for the "crime" of wanting her. Christian pooh-poohs her concerns, but when he is shot, along with the groom on his carriage, she comes back to help him. To keep her safe from her aunt's friends, Christian takes Lisette back to England when he recovers. But Lisette has many secrets, not all of which she knows, and when her secrets come out, it could mean that Lisette's secrets will change the ideas between the two nations. But will Lisette be able to find a future with Christian, or will her hurt feelings towards him in prevent them from getting together? I found this book only mildly interesting. Christian Seaton wasn't that interesting to me, but Lisette made up for it. I found her far more interesting, and a better character. Recommended, but not by much.

Born of Betrayal by Sherrilyn Kenyon.- Fain Hauk was once the most renowned men on his home planet of Adarian. But when his fiancée, Galene Batur, believes he is cheating on her with a human, she pushes him out of his military school locker room into the auditorium fully naked. He wasn't but he refused to tell her she was wrong. But when they meet twenty years later, Galene has become the leader of the Adarians military, she is put in charge of the liaising with the allies of the sentella. But the person she has to work with is... Fain Hauk, who she still holds a significant grudge against. And Fain is disgusted by the younger man she lives with, who he assumes is her lover as well as adjutant. But her live-in is actually their son, Talyn Batur. When he finds out the truth, he begins to try and make it up to her, and she, who never actually stopped loving him, begins to see how bad his life has been since they broke up. But when someone tries to kill Talyn and hurt Galene, can Fain keep her safe and get back in her heart, or will their past dispute sour their chances of love forever? I liked this book, mainly because Fain Hauk has appeared in past books by Sherrilyn Kenyon, and he had an okay history as opposed to a relentlessly horrible one. I also liked how strong Galene was, and her relationship with her son, Talyn. I liked how Talyn acted as their chaperone while they were "courting", and the end of both relationships. Recommended.

Angel of Storm by Trudi Canavan- Rielle and Tyen are two different people from very different worlds. Rielle has been surviving as a weaver in a small town, whereas Tyen has become a teacher at a mage school. But when a the Angel, Valhan, returns, and says that he is going to take Rielle back to his world, as she has "paid back" all the magic she stole, by making things. But when he leaves her in the world of Inekera, Inekere tests Rielle's magic and abandons her in a different world, where she gets rescued and taken along with the Travelers, who travel between worlds. She also meets Baluka, the son of the travelers in charge of the band who rescued her. He is interested in her, and becomes even more interested as he teaches her some magic and wants her to learn more. Meanwhile, Tyen's school closes when it is learned that Raen, an extremely powerful magician, has returned after 20 years away, nobody knows where, exactly. No oner wants Raen around, but there are many plans to get rid of him, such as stranding him on a dead world, which has no magic, and would leave him there until he dies. But now that he is back, numerous academies of magic on many worlds will have to close, as Raen doesn't want there to be travel between worlds, or for people to be taught magic. With nowhere else to go, Tyen warns several friends of his about Raen's return, but when Raen catches up to him, Tyen feels compelled to agree to spy for him on the rebels who are determined to fight against him, in order to save his book, who is a woman turned into a book by Raen's predecessor. Meanwhile, Baluka has fallen in love with Rielle and asks her to marry him, and she agrees. But before she can marry him, Raen, who she knew as Valhan, and has been arguing that Her Angel is not Raen, discovers that he is, but leaves her relationship with Baluka to learn magic under the tutelage of Raen's friend, Dahli. But when she finds that learning magic made her ability to make magic go away. But when disappears, can he count on Rielle's help in bringing him back to life? I found this book interesting, but I was interested in seeing if Tyen and Rielle would meet, and as I suspect, end up together. I knew Rielle would probably not end up with Baluka or Valhan/Raen. I found Rielle's story a bit more interesting than Tyen's, but on the whole, the book is incredibly interesting and amazing read. Recommended.

Shadowrealm by Paul S. Kemp- Erevis Cale and Riven return to the Lathanderites with Abelar in order to see his son, Elden. When the Lathanderites flee ahead of the Shadowstorm into Shadevar lands, the Shadevar refuse to let them in until they destroy Kesson Rel. Also, Brennus wants to kill off his brother, Rivalen, so when their father tells Brennus to send Rivalen to Erevis Cale so that they can steal Kesson Rel's divinity from him. But when they go to Kesson Rel's homeworld, it is inhabited by countless wraiths who were made and left behind by Kesson Rel, and who blame him, quite rightly, since he left them there to die. But when Erevis drinks from the chalice where Kesson Rel obtained his divinity, he doesn't immediately become a god, it confers merely the possibility to become a god, and he must discover how to turn that ability into actually being a god, and then save the Lathanderites when they decide to stand against the shadows of the shadowstorm. But when the Lathanderites are about to be overwhelmed. can Erevis Cale and his friends bring the encounter to a successful conclusion? And what will happen when Erevis, Riven and Rivalen take on Kesson Rel? I liked this book, though I didn't read either of the first two books. This book leads into the one where Erevis Cale comes back to life, revived by Magadon, and Rivalen. So. I sort of knew where this was heading, but it was still good and interesting to read as well. This set up a very creditable threat in the Shadowstorm and made me fear it. I loved reading the book, and seeing how Kesson Rel failed, and how he was brought down. Recommended.

Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue by Victoria Thompson- Frank Malloy and Sarah Brandt have gotten married and are in Europe for their honeymoon. While they are away, a friend of Mrs. Malloy, Frank's mother, visits her, wanting help for her daughter, Una, who has been arrested for supposedly killing her husband. Maeve tells her that Frank Malloy isn't home, but maybe they can help her anyway. They call on Gino Donatelli, who has been re-hired as a beat cop on the force, and Maeve and Gino go to the house where Una and her husband lived. There, they discover that Una's husband beat her, and there was a giant argument between her husband  Well, they assumed it was her. But it turns out that her husband had a few visitors on the day he died, including the brother of his first wife, his partner, and possibly others. But while Maeve and the Deckers look into her husband's finances, Maeve has removed almost $38,000 from the safe in the game. But as they look into Mr. Pollock's affairs, they have to discover not only who killed him, but who searched the house, and the apartment of Pollock's partner. But can they uncover the right information and who was behind the crimes?  I loved this book, which involved the more peripheral characters from the series, such as Gino, Maeve and the Deckers. The story was interesting and kept me interested and reading all the way through. I started out feeling sorry for Una, but by the end, I didn't like her very much at all. This was fine, and the fact that I cared about the character was excellent news. Highly recommended.

A Christmas Escape by Anne Perry- When Charles Latterly, Hester's brother, travels to a small meditteranean island over the Christmas Holiday looking for a place to escape to after the death of his wife, he doesn't find it as peaceful as he wishes it would be. For one thing, one of the guests, Mr, Walker-Bailey is a very unpleasant man who spends his time baiting another guest, a Mr. Quinn. who is a writer, trying to annoy the other man, which makes his wife frantic, especially when he accuses one of the guests of trying to kill him. Luckily, Charles meets a fourteen year old girl, the granddaughter of one of the guests, a Candace Finbar, whose bright personality and inquisitive mind, keep him interested and entertained. But when the volcanic mountain at the center of the island begins to erupt, it will be up to Charles to get everyone to safety, and discover the identity of a murderer. But will he survive the confrontation? I liked this book. I don't remember Charles Latterly as a character in any of the books, but I liked the other characters and especially Candace, as she and Charles end up in a family together at the end. I liked how she and Charles got along together and how they interacted. Highly recommended.

How to Fake a Moon Landing: Exposing the Myths of Science Denial by Darryl Cunningham- This hardcover graphic novel shows readers why these denials are wrong when it comes to the science involved and why you shouldn't believe them, either. The books cover seven different subjects: The Moon Hoax, Homeopathy, Chiropractic, The MMR vaccine Scandal, Evolution, Fracking and Climate Denial, along with a small section at the end on Science Denial in general, why it happens and why it is comforting to those who engage in it. I loved this book, because it presents the reasons why you shouldn't reject the science, and  how things actually went down. The art is very minimal, except where it reproduces pictures of people and I liked that Darryl Cunningham went out of his way to show the real science and why you should reject the devialists' version. Recommended.

The Rebel Daughter by Lauri Robinson. Twyla Nightingale is a true daughter of the roaring twenties, right down to her flapper dress and bootlegging father. Her family runs a resort in Minnapolis which serves liquor, and when Forrest Reynolds shows up, she's upset, because she thinks he is here to romance her sister Norma Rose, who was once Forrest's girl, until he left them all nehind after he left to go to college. She once loved Forrest herself, but she's more worried that Forrest will interfere in Norma Rose's upcoming marriage to Ty Barrington, a lawyer who also tracks down crooks for the government. But Forrest has a reason for coming back to tow, and it has to do with his father, who is in prison in California for money laundering and counterfeiting and may be getting out of prison soon. Her father hates Twyla's and may be planning a terrible vengeance on the family. Forrest is trying to save his family estate, the Plantation, and keep Twyla, her father and her sisters safe. But can he do that when his father is in deep with real scum?I liked this book. I didn't necessarily get the feel of the roaring twenties from the book, but I did like Twyla and Forrest and I liked all the threads of the story which interwove all four of the Nightingale sisters. I found this an entertaining book. Recommended.

The Shining City by Kate Forsyth- Rhiannon and her fellow students have arrived at Lucescere and been imprisoned. Meanwhile, Lewen and the other students have settled into their studies, but Lewen goes to visit Rhiannon every day and the two who escorted her to the city and trying to work to get Rhiannon spared the death penalty and released to live her life. But the Rig is upset at Rhiannon because she killed a young man who was his friend and supported him into the Rig-ship, so doesn't want to free Rhiannon. Meanwhile, Lewen is re-connecting with his friends Owein and Olwynne, the son and daughter of the Rig. Olwynne had hoped to have a romance with Lewen, but with him so stuck on Rhiannon, and focused on freeing her, she is getting upset with him and she burns for Lewen. While she decides to go too far in securing Lewen's affections, the Lord of Ravenscrag gets his ghilie into the healer's hall, not matter that she was involved in the plot. Meanwhile, another thing happens when Cait Anna does, destroying everything she made- including the choker she wore to take away Maya's powers. Bronwyn, Maya's daughter, protects her mother, but someone is planning on assassinating the Rig, and because of everything else that is happening, including Rhiannon's trial, there is nothing that allows anyone to forsee the death of the Rig. But once he is dead, who is responsible for his death, and can Rhiannion get Lewen back from Olwynne and rescue both Olwynne and Owein when they are kidnapped from Lucescere? I Really enjoyed this book, and it was interesting to see what happened to Lewen and Olwynne and everything that went on. I enjoyed this book, and can't wait to find and read the third book in this series.  Highly recommended.

The Cipher by Diana Pharoah Francis- Lucy Trenton is a member of the Royal Family. In her land, using magic is considered at least bad, if not evil. She also collects Ciphers, magical devices with various properties. But when Lucy, who has been able to detect magic since she was just a child, is called on to work a catastrophe that brings down five ships, she discovers a cipher in the cargo that breaks out of its container and attaches itself to her, she isn't sure what it is going to do, but it quickly manifests with the ability to start fires or ice the surroundings around her. As most of the Ciphers made by Errol Cipher were meant to punish people, she wonders when it will kill or hurt her rather than the people around her. But when  Marten Thorpe gets close  to Lucy, he comes afoul of his brother, who has a plan to take down the Royal Family and conquer the country. But when Marten decides to take a stand against his brother and stand with Lucy, he also incites his brother to try and get rid of him. But when they are enslaved and put on a ship to be sold into another country, he must decide his own fate- be a slave or die with her in the sylveth tides that warp the body and turn humans and animals into monsters. Will Lucy and Marten die or fall together? I loved the world-building in this book and the character of Lucy. I was less happy with Marten, who comes off as weak, even when he is supporting Lucy. He sort of always takes the "Lesser of two evils" when helping her and has to be left no other choice to seem to do anything. The villains are Evil, but more like EVIL. They are so evil ,they come off as more than a bit cartoonish, and thus, less effective as villains, but in the end, the story does some really amazing things, and I did enjoy it. I also want to see where the story goes from here. Recommended.

Daughter of the Desert by Noel-Anne Brennan- Forentel is the daughter of a general of the city of Tireera, and her mother is the chief Judge of the City.  Erba is the Prince of the same city. But when Forentel is urged to marry by her father, her mother suggests becoming her apprentice instead. Forentel has no choice but to agree, but as she goes through the city, she sees a woman, a Tirdar woman, one of the lower class conquered by Forentel's people, the Versat. Later, at home, she finds out that she may be her father's daughter, but not her mother's. She was adopted, but even so, she is half- Tirdar and half-Versat. This leads her to head to the Tirdar quarter, where she sees the woman who looks like her again- only to watch her be killed. She flees the city. Meanwhile, Erba, the younger of two brothers, is son of the King of Tireeera. Erba wants to trace the origin of the Tirdar, but his tutor, who has been leading him in this direction, doesn't want him to go. Erba makes plans to leave anyway and goes on a hunt with his two best friends. But when his party is ambushed by Tireerian soldiers, he mustflee the city, where his brother has poisoned his father. But when both of them head to the Shrine to the Tirdar Lady of the Cats, they are thrown together, along with Erba's tutor, Filfa, they are forced to seek the city of the Tirdar, the Lost City. But can they survive the bandits, slavers and other obstacles on their way... together? Or will they be parted by events beyond their control? This was an interesting book, because I liked Forentel, and I started out liking Erba, but by the end of the book, he looked weak and silly, more like a little boy than a strong man, so while I was hoping she would be Queen to his King eventually, by the end, I didn't want them to end up together. Okay, and slightly recommended for Forentel's journey.

A Devil in the Details by K.A. Stewart- Jesse James Dawson is a warrior who follows the code of Bushido and spends his life fighting Devils who have stolen other people's souls to get them back. To do so, he must put up his own soul as collateral. In the meantime, he works at a Hot Topic-like store called "It", and tries to support his wife and young daughter, who is only five. He also requires a lot of money- to pay his own medical bills and leave some behind for his family if and when he dies. When he's approached by an old hero of his, a ball player Jesse has idolized since he was young, he agrees to take the job, but he's warned off by the player's lawyer, who thinks Jesse is running a scam. Then, he hears from other fighters like himself, who are disappearing, perhaps dead. Meanwhile, a devil who has been plaguing Jesse warns him that his life is in danger, but Jesse is unwilling to pay the Demon's price. But as the time for the fight against his Hero's demon comes closer, Jesse finds himself in more than a fight for his life- but one that might mean the end of every warrior he knows, and an increased Demon threat for the world. I found this a quick and enjoyable read. Liked the idea of people who fight devils to retrieve other people's souls, and IO liked the damage Jesse takes with each fight he takes on. I also liked the whole bunch of other warriors we met, yet I found myself only feeling "Meh" about the book as a whole. It just didn't pull on me strongly enough to really feel it was compelling. So, neither recommended nor not.

Prodigy by Jan Clark- Rieka Degahv is a human starship captain in a universe dominated by aliens. Humans are looked down upon because their planet is nearly destroyed- it was hit by an asteroid. Most humans don't seem to realize that the aliens look down on them, but Rieka's father felt differently and raised her to feel the same. But Rieka has two friends among the aliens: Triscoe Marteen, a Centauri and Robet DeVark. When Rieka is accused of killing a Procyon ship, which were recently enemies of the Commonwealth, which all three of them work for, they come to her rescue and attempt to show that Rieka was manipulated into doing what she did. But as Triscoe and DeVark and their friends and family try to keep Rieka free, Procyons have infiltrated the Imperium and are trying to steal the newest ship actually built to attack and defend, the Prodigy. But was Rieka's attack on the Procyon ship started by the Procyons, or humans who trust the aliens more than their fellow humans? And can they stop the plot before it goes through? I found this an interesting book. I'm not sure if this book is part of a series, because some of the aliens, like Robet, are described as having "Bibbets", but we never learn what they actually are, or what the aliens look like to humans. I mean, the Boos seem to have claws like a lobster, maybe. It was hard to understand what these aliens look like, and/or how they differed from standard humans. Also, most of the aliens seemed to be pretty humanoid. It seemed that there were no non-humanoid aliens, which seemed iffy. It seemed like more of a screenplay for a world in which aliens had to played by humans. Even the Procyons are humanoid enough to pass as a Centauri with a little cosmetic surgery. In a way, this felt a little lazy as far as world-building, much less than that two aliens who have nothing genetically in common getting married and being able to... well... "fit" together. I found this somewhat ridiculous. So, the story was good and so were the characters, but the conceits behind them weren't. Recommended anyway. :)

Dark of the Moon by Susan Krinard- In the 1920's Gwen Murphy's father found evidence of a cult of people who dumped bodies, sans blood in the city. When she goes down to the docks to meet with an informant, she is attacked and dumped into the river. she is rescued by a strange man, who she finds out is Dorian Black, a man living in a Warehouse with a number of other homeless people. But Dorian isn't just any man- he is a vampire and he used to be the enforcer for the ruler of the city. When he realized the man he worked for was evil, he killed him and set off a war between his two successors. When Gwen takes an interest in Dorian, she becomes a target to other vampires, and they try to kill her. When they seem to succeed, Dorian joins a vampire organizations named "Pax", who want to bringpeace to vampire society- to punish the other vampires for killing Gwen. When he discovers Gwen is still alive, he gors out of his way to rescue her when she stumbles into a battle between the two vampires. But when his master tells Dorian to kill her to remove the threat that she is to the vampires, he turns her instead, and tries to keep her safe from the infighting. But the vampires are not safe from a third faction which seems benevolent, but isn't. When things go to hell in a handbasket, can the two of them take on the real villain and bring him or her down and restore 0order to the city? I expected to like this book. I mean, a vampire romance set in the 1920's? I was *so* there. But Forian turned me off. He constantly made decisions for Gwen that made me feel like she was in an abusive relationship, and I didn't like reading that kind of thing at all. I enjoyed Gwen, but when she finally fell in love with Dorian I still felt a bit like she'd fallen victim to Stockholm Syndrome. Not recommended.

The Peshawar Lancers by S.M. Stirling- In 1870, a group of meteorites hit the earth, causing widespread devastation. England, facing starvation from the changed weather, moved its capital and many of its people to India, where they resumed control of their Empire under Queen Victoria. Now, 200 years later, the world has reshaped itself, with the major powers being France, Russia, China and a few others. Captain Athelstane King , recently injured in combat against the Afghans, heads for home, only to be attacked on his way home by an Afghani Pathan, who tells Athelstane that a Russian posing as a fakir has put a price on his head. But why? When Athelstane tells the Pathan that the man wasn't really a holy man, the Pathan joins him for vengeance against the man. However, it is not only Athelstane who is in danger, but also his sister, Cassandra, an academic. It seems the Russians want both Kings dead, and don't care who they take out in the meantime. The Russian Tsar worships Tchernobog, the dark God better known as Satan in the west. But the Russian in charge, Ignatieff has brought one of the Sisters with him, who have the ability to see the future. And to ensure the success of his scheme, both of the King Siblings must die. But when his seer, who has been having visions of Disraeli, leaves Ignatieff to help Athelstane, he discovers a plot against the throne itself and to bring Tchernobog to earth, but can he keep his monarch safe while staying alive to prevent Tchernobog's return? I loved this book. I'm not usually one for alternate history books, but I have loved plenty of S.M. Stirling's in the past, and this one was one of his best, if not his best. I loved all the characters, heroic and villainous both, and I'd love to read more set in this particular version of altered history. Highly recommended,

Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann Krentz- When Madeline and Daphne were just girls, Madeline suffered an attack by a man who was defeated, killed and buried on the grounds of the hotel owned by her grandmother. Soon after, they left and never returned, with her grandmother starring a successful chains of hotels based in Arizona. Jack Rayner was once a criminal profiler with the FBI, but gave it up to start his own securith business. Still, when Madeline  is attacked on Aurora Point by someone who killed Caretaker Tom Lomax, it is Jack who comes to her rescue, flying up to Aurora Point to keep her safe. It seems that the secrets of the past, including the identity of the man who attacked and tried to rape Madeline Chase when she was just a girl- and only by reuniting with her old friend Daphne, who she hasn't seen since that night, and Jack's brother Abe, a detective whose skills lie in the area of Cyber- Sleuthing, can the questions of that night be answered and the ghosts put to rest. But what does a popular securities guy and his political family have to do with the old mystery? And can they find out before one of them pays the price? I loved this book, which had a woman in jeaopardy (two of them, actually, and contained two romances, one between Madeline and Jack, the other between Abe and Daphne, running concurrently, with Madeline and Jack being given the lion's share of the attention. I loved this book and I loved the characters. I also really enjoyed the mystery and the eventual end of the book. This book really was superior and I enjoyed it the whole way through. Highly recommended,

Ultraman, Volume 1 by Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimaguchi- Many years ago, the Giant of Light paired itself with Shin Hayata to fight creatures from other planets who came to conquer the Earth. When it left, Shin lost all his memories of the time when he and the giant fought their foes, but it seems that it did have an impact. Shin has greater than normal human strength, and his son, Shinjiro, has inherited that. In a meeting with Mitsuhiro Ide, he remembers that he was once Ultraman, and the "Ultraman Effect" has reached out to not only encompass him, but his son. Then, when a new alien, Bemular, comes to Earth looking to take on Ultraman, it is up to Shinjiro to decide whether to take up the same job his father once had- to defend the earth from aliens bent on conquering or destruction. But is Shinjiro up to the job? I never saw or read the original Ultraman, but I did like this new series. I liked the themes of duty and making your parents/father proud of you and living up to their example. I also liked the idea of duty versus emotions. It was a good reboot, and I liked the new design of the Ultraman armor. Recommended.

Ultraman, Volume 2 by Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimaguchi- Shinjiro meets the alien Edo, who used to be known as "Zetton", and who had attacked earth at one time. He and the men involved in the Science force send out to fight an alien named Adacic. But the bad aliens aren't the only ones on earth, and other forced, like those of the administration, like the police, are becoming wise to the fact. But the main policeman on the job, Detective Endo, has a daughter who is an idol who is very interested in the new Ultraman, gets caught in the fight between Ultraman and Adacic, can Shinjiro make his father proud of him and keep the adulation of Rena Endo? And why does Moroboshi so look down upon Shinjiro? What is the Science Squad really up to, and what are they lying about? And will Shinjiro catch on? How soon? Another really good volume, although this one has lots of combat between Shinjiro and Adacic and the mystery with why Moroboshi seems to hate Shinjiro so much, there is a lot of other stuff going around. And I really still do want to see more. Recommended.

Wrath of the Furies by Steven Saylor- Young Gordianus is in Egypt when he receives a letter from his old mentor, Antipater. Actually, it's not a letter so much as an edited part of a secret diary kept by Antipater, who it seems, has fallen in with King Mitridates, who he was spying for while on journey to see the Seven Wonders of the World. But while he faked his own death to take the name of Zoticus of Zeugma, Mithridates wants Antipater to keep his new name, but why does he want him to go unnoticed? He certainly has attracted the attention of Mithridates' queen, Monime, and not in a good way. Because it seems that Mithridates wants to murder all of the Romans in Asia Minor. And he wants to turn aside the wrath of the Furies before he does so. When Gordianus and his slave and lover, Bethesda show up with Girdianus pretending to be struck dumb, he is tapped to become part of the ceremony, along with a blind man and a deaf man. But can Gordianis and Mithridates and the others involved in the ritual make Mitridates rethink his plans to kill all the Romans in his empire? And what will happen if they fail? This was based around a real incident from history, and I liked how Gordianus was drawn into the mystery and the reason, why, at the end, he was revealed to have been brought in. This was an interesting an intriguing book of history wrapped around an engaging mystery. Highly recommended.

If He's Noble by Hannah Howell- When Bened Vaughn, a newly made gentleman, runs into Lady Patricia Wooten in a Wood when she's lost her horse, he decides to help her. But her problems run deeper than she realizes at first- for her aunt is seeking Patricia's brother, possibly to do away with him, as a means to getting her hands on Patricia and her brother's fortune and keep her husband as Duke, as he has taken over the title since Patricia's father passed. But neither Patricia nor Bened is aware of how far her aunt will go to do as she pleases. Can Bened and his family keep himself and Patricia alive and safe until she can find her brother and then save them both when her aunt comes after them? I found this book good. I thought that it was going to be far more lighthearted than the book actually was. But I did enjoy it, and how Patricia and Bened came together, and the teasing of a romance for her brother and a female seer. Recommended.

How to Seduce a Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks- Zoltan Czakvar is a vampire who lost both his father and his mother. His mother to a mob, and his father to a group of warriors who came to avenge her. All he has to guide him in his vengeance is a single arrow, but when he meets a vampire who might have discovered who made the arrow, he does his best to track down those responsible. But it turns out the ones responsible were a group of warrior women who seem to be ageless and immortal. And now, the ones they are trying to protect are in danger as a warrior vampire warlord wants to conquer their land. But can Zoltan help them and Neona, the warrior he begins falling in love with, help keep the warrior women and their charge safe? Ad what are they guarding, anyway? I found this an interesting book, with two very interesting characters, but the women seemed not to realize that the men they had kids with weren't as long-lived as they were outside of their lands, but they seem to be ignorant of it in one case (why the father of two of the women didn't come back, but they also know that Zoltan shouldn't be still alive after all this time. So it ended up making them kind of look kind of stupid. Other than that, I enjoyed the story, so I'd recommend this book.