Thursday, 17 August 2017

A Mystery of Errors / Simon Hawke

2.5 out of 5 stars
wo travelers, Will Shakespeare-a fledgling dramatist, and Symington Smythe, an ostler and aspiring thespian, meet at a roadside inn and decide to cast their lot together for fame and fortune in the cutthroat world of the London theater in Elizabethan England . . . but neither was prepared for their offstage encounter with A Mystery of Errors. When a backer's daughter is double-crossed by a would-be suitor, the reluctant bride turns to the ostler and the playwright for help.  Little does anyone realize that these simple affairs of the heart and an arranged marriage will lead to a vast web of conspiracy, mistaken identity, and murder that finds the playwright targeted for assassination and the ostler hopelessly in love.

This novel suffered from comparison with recently read historical fiction by C.C. Humphreys, whose work stands head-and-shoulders above this little mystery. The writing of just the first page had me wondering if I would even bother to finish the book. After all, life is finite and there are tons of good books out there.

I did persevere, however, and followed the story to its rather pedestrian end. The plot was imaginative and I wish the author had been able to exercise more skill in its execution. Rather than flowing, events bumped along rather brusquely. The dialog was simple and the characterization was basic. Every now and then, there would be a tiny info-dump as the author proved that he had done his research.

If you are considering this book, I would suggest that you approach with caution. If you are looking for a book featuring Shakespeare as a character (as I was), I would recommend Shakespeare's Rebel. If something involving a highwayman is your goal, try Plague. If you are looking for a 21st century humourous take on Shakespeare, pick up Shakespeare Undead, which is lighthearted yet effortlessly shows how to reference the Bard’s works without belabouring the point.

At some point, I will probably solider on and read the second mystery in this series, as I have made a bit of a project out of reading all the novels I can find that feature Shakespeare as a character. You are not obliged to follow me in this obsession.

Plague / C.C. Humphreys

4.5 stars out of 5
London, 1665. A serial killer stalks his prey, scalpel in his hand and God's vengeance in his heart. Five years after his restoration to the throne, Charles II leads his citizens by example, enjoying every excess. Londoners have slipped the shackles of puritanism and now flock to the cockpits, brothels and, especially, the theatres, where for the first time women are allowed to perform alongside the men. But not everyone is swept up in the excitement. Some see this liberated age as the new Babylon, and murder victims pile up in the streets, making no distinction in class between a royalist member of parliament and a Cheapside whore. But they have a few things in common: the victims are found with gemstones in their mouths. And they have not just been murdered; they've been . . . sacrificed.  Now the plague is returning to the city with full force, attacking indiscriminately . . . and murder has found a new friend.

Chris Humphreys is an inspired historical fiction author. I met him last weekend at a literary conference and he is smart, funny, and charming as the devil. He definitely benefits from his acting background, particularly his ease with performing Shakespeare (we got an excerpt from one of the Henry plays during his key-note address). During one of his panel discussions, he mentioned that as an author, one must choose how the dialog will be written—choose your form of “bygone-ese” as he called it. Humphrey’s ease with the English of Shakespeare and his playwright’s ear for what will sound good gives his fiction a feeling of reality, using just enough older vocabulary and never becoming too 21st century.

There is, of course, theatre involved in the novel—a subject that the author is knowledgeable and comfortable with. But the variety of characters, from highwayman to serial killer to royalty, gives the story a breadth that I appreciated. As a reader, you are not limited to merely the theatre of 1665, you experience many parts of London. In fact London itself could be counted as a character.

I will be working my way, gradually, through all of Chris Humphreys works and will definitely look forward to more. Highly recommended.

Imago / Octavia Butler

4 out of 5 stars
In the third book of her Xenogenesis series, Octavia Butler gives us the alien’s perspective.  It makes the Oankali marginally less creepy, but only a tiny bit.  Butler excels at creating truly alien life forms, with wildly different forms of reproduction.

The Oankali having stinging cells and tentacles, giving them some resemblance to jellyfish (Cniderians) in our world, but they are upright walking, hand-and-arm-possessing, intelligent life forms.  And, it turns out, they have a three stage metamorphosis like Earth’s insects do.  This installment follows that mysterious third sex, the Ooloi, as one of Lilith’s children matures sexually into the adult form (hence the title, Imago).

In the first book, the Oankali have rescued the small remainder of humanity from a disaster of their own creation and have begun combining the two species.  That’s what the Ooankali do and they consider it their payment for their rescue services, but that’s not what it looks like or feels like to humans.  Lilith gradually becomes convinced that she won’t be allowed to live as human and reluctantly gets involved with the aliens, although it is against her true wishes.

In the second book, we follow Lilith’s construct child, Akin, who actually has five parents and who understands the relationship between the two species better than either the humans or the Oankali.  He sees the basic incompatibility between the two species but also how they can also become compatible.  Seemingly a paradox, which Akin reveals as a prejudice of the Oankali against humanity—we’ve always known that humans are prejudiced against the aliens.

This third installment reveals just how much the Oankali need and long for relationships with humans.  To this point, they have seemed very unemotional, almost clinical, in their desire to revitalize their own DNA through incorporation of the human genome.  Jodahs, who is metamorphosing into one of the mysterious Ooloi, shows us the depth of feeling, the intense sexual need, and indeed the pain of separation that we have been missing so far in the story.

Despite gaining understanding, the whole sexual system of the Oankali feels deeply creepy.  The human male and female in the sexual constellation experience repulsion when they touch one another directly, but when joined by an Ooloi, experience intense sexual pleasure.  Pheromones by the Ooloi make the situation addictive—being apart from one’s group becomes torment.

Butler is skillful in her refusal to “pick a side.”  She provides logical reasons for the aliens’ behaviour and points out both the logical and totally illogical responses of humanity.  She explores co-operation, coercion, limited choice, and unequal power without making it obvious which species she favours.

In some ways, this series makes me think of Arthur Clarke’s Childhood’s End, in that humanity is being absorbed into a genetic continuum, but likely won’t survive on its own ever again.  Do we mourn the loss or celebrate what survives?

Book 260 of my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.

Shivering Sands / Victoria Holt

4 out of 5 stars
 
***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List ***

In many ways, this is a very dated Gothic romance—after all, it was first published in 1969. I’m pretty sure that I read it as a teenager, but it must not have been part of my personal collection, because this reading felt like I was enjoying it for the first time. There are enough differences from Holt’s usual romance formula to make it feel a bit fresher plot-wise too.

A young widow, Caroline Verlaine, takes a position as music teacher at an estate close to excavated Roman ruins where her sister had been working as an archaeologist, only to disappear under mysterious circumstances. Concealing her relationship to the missing woman, Caroline tries to trace her missing sister. There are no poisonous distant relatives, exiling Caroline to a tedious life of uninspired pupils, penury, and living below stairs. She has freely chosen her position for a specific reason, she has an undeniable talent for music, and is therefore much less rebellious than other Holt heroines.

Of course, further disappearances occur and there are mysterious goings-on that lure Caroline into dangerous situations. If I have any complaints, it is that the ending was a bit abrupt and completely predictable. I felt the heroine’s choice should have been just a bit more difficult, requiring a just bit more agonizing than occurred. The book ends suddenly with Caroline’s choice, giving no insight into what happens to numerous other characters who formed an integral part of the story.


Still, in this genre, this was a very enjoyable novel.

Blood Cross / Faith Hunter

4 out of 5 stars
The vampire council has hired skinwalker Jane Yellowrock to hunt and kill one of their own who has broken sacred ancient rules — but Jane quickly realizes that in a community that is thousands of years old, loyalties run deep...

With the help of her witch best friend and local vigilantes, Jane finds herself caught between bitter rivalries — and closer than ever to the secret origin of the entire vampire race. But in a city of old grudges and dark magic, Jane will have to fight to protect both sides, even if no one will protect her.
 
***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***

Jane Yellowrock is growing on me. Faith Hunter is a good writer and I’m enjoying the world that she has crafted to show off Jane’s talents. I appreciate that Jane has female friends right from the get-go. And they tease her about the various men who are circling, trying to win Jane’s favour. Also a pleasant change is the mystery and puzzle-solving aspects of the book taking higher priority than the personal relationships. Not that I mind a love interest, but I prefer when it isn’t the be-all and end-all in the book.

Jane is a smart leading character. She can put information together, find ways to get others to help her willingly, and see through problems that have stymied others. She’s tough, as is her alter-ego Beast, and she needs to be in the line of work that she has chosen.

The side-line into Cherokee culture as Jane reconnects with her roots was intriguing as well. Volume 3 was an easy decision—I’ll be reading it asap.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Thunder Heights / Phyllis Whitney

2.5 stars out of 5
When Camilla King's grandfather leaves her the family estate in his will, she is shocked. Before her summons to his deathbed, she had never met any of her late mother's relatives. Although the rest of the family clearly does not want her there, Camilla honors her grandfather's wish and becomes the mistress of the magnificent Thunder Heights.
But along with the grand house, Camilla has inherited a legacy of hatred and secrets. Not knowing who, if anyone, she can trust, Camilla searches for the truth about her mother's death. Soon she begins to suspect that it was no accident, but rather murder.



***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***

A disappointment, as I had high hopes of Phyllis Whitney. So many gothic romances are set in England, at first I found it refreshing to read one set in New York instead. But I just couldn’t connect with the heroine, Camilla King, who seemed to be unrealistically naïve, especially for someone who had been through so much loss and was supporting herself through governessing.

The big party that happens close to the book’s ending would have been better placed in the middle or slightly before that, and to have introduced at least one other man into Camilla’s sphere of influence. As things stood, as a reader I knew she would have to end up with either the artist or the engineer/advisor. Whitney spent very little time letting Camilla form relationships with either one of them. As a result, when the choice was made at the end, I just couldn’t feel it was realistic—she barely knew the man she ended up with.

Darkfever / Karen Marie Moning

2 out of 5 stars
When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death—a cryptic message on MacKayla Lane’s cell phone–Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed—a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae.


***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***

A reasonably good premise, with a really TSTL main character, MacKayla. If you could solve mysteries by wearing the correct colour of nail polish, Mac would be fabulous. Instead, her special talent is vomiting when she’s close to one of the special Fae artifacts. She can’t think her way out of a paper bag—her most often asked question is merely, “Huh?”

Barrons is the typical overbearing asshole alpha who gets saddled with Mac when she shows up in Ireland, totally clued out but too stupid to give up and go home. This first volume is obviously setting him up as a love interest for Mac, but I don’t see how either one of them can be seriously interested in the other.

Add to this a very simple writing style and basic vocabulary, and an insultingly simple plot, and I have a hard time believing how many people absolutely love this series! Perhaps I was just crabby when I read it, maybe I picked it up at the wrong time. I will read one more book in the series, just to see if I can find what the fuss is about.

Romeo and/or Juliet / Ryan North

2.5 stars out of 5
Shakespeare’s plays weren’t meant to be read. They were meant…to be played.

What if Romeo never met Juliet? What if Juliet got really buff instead of moping around all day? What if they teamed up to take over Verona with robot suits? This choose-your-own-path version of Romeo and Juliet—packed with fun puzzles, secrets, and quadrillions of possible storylines—lets you decide where the plot goes every time you read. You might play as Romeo, or as Juliet, or as both of them at the same time.


This was a fun idea and I really wanted to love it. It reminded me of many of the books that I bought from Scholastic Books during grades 6 and 7, puzzle books, mystery books, that a child could go through multiple times and still find new treats by taking different turns.

I don’t know how many times I started through this choose-your-own-adventure book, trying to actually follow the Bard’s version of the story, only to get distracted by goofy story lines that I just couldn’t pass by. Unfortunately, goofy was the general standard of the various branchings and the writing was a great disappointment. Less silliness and more depth would have been welcome.

I still don’t know if it was even possible to get to the traditional ending of the play. I lost interest in trying after about a dozen attempts.

Real Murders / Charlaine Harris

3.5 stars out of 5
Though a small town at heart, Lawrenceton, Georgia, has its dark side-and crime buffs. One of whom is librarian Aurora "Roe" Teagarden, a member of the Real Murders Club, which meets once a month to analyze famous cases. It's a harmless pastime—until the night she finds a member killed in a manner that eerily resembles the crime the club was about to discuss. And as other brutal "copycat" killings follow, Roe will have to uncover the person behind the terrifying game, one that casts all the members of Real Murders, herself included, as prime suspects-or potential victims.


***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***

A typical Charlaine Harris setting for this mystery series, a small community in the South. As per usual, Harris nails the small town details, the over-entwined lives, the importance of reputation, and the somewhat rigid social roles that people get pigeon-holed into.

Not an overwhelmingly wonderful mystery, but enough to keep me reading quickly right to the end and enough to encourage me to put a hold on the second volume at the library. It also helps that the heroine, Aurora Teagarden, is a librarian, a career near and dear to my heart.

Like so many of Harris’ leading characters, Roe is used to being part of the background. Just like Sookie Stackhouse and Lily Bard, Aurora is overshadowed by the women around her that are deemed more attractive or more normal. Harris seems to enjoy giving these kind of women some power, some male attention, and room to explore what they might actually want from life.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Boundary Problems / Greg Bechtel

4.25-4.5 out of 5 stars
In his confident debut, Greg Bechtel offers ten magnetically charged stories about the impossible-turned-possible — secrets, paranoia, sex, conspiracies, and magic — as he effortlessly shatters the boundaries between speculative and literary fiction.

Boundary Problems vibrates on the edge of meaning, as carjackers, accidental gunrunners, and small-town cabbies struggle to wring meaning from the strange events that overtake them. Bechtel’s worlds of mystery and magic constantly challenge his characters’ pursuit of logical explanations. These compelling tales blur lines and push boundaries — into the surreal, into the playful, into the irresistible energy of uncertainty.


 I must be finally getting over my summer cold (its been kicking my butt for about a month now), because I felt the lure of reading something better and more complex than the fluff that I’ve been filling my summer with to date. This book has been sitting on my shelves for almost a year and the time had arrived—I picked it up with anticipation.

What a perfectly titled collection of short stories! All of them poke at boundaries of some sort—between physics and magic, mental health/illness, male/female, reality/illusion, self/others, past/present/future. How accurate is anyone’s assessment of the world? We each view it through our own lenses. The characters are ordinary people, made extraordinary by the author’s attention to their existence.

The writing is beautiful. The stories are a pleasure to read, but I hesitate to say that I fully understand them. They don’t spill their secrets too easily and I can see where I will likely read them again, more slowly and with more attention. Though each stands on its own, they also support one another, each providing a window into their creator’s imagination. The varied topics reveal an unexpected mix of experience and knowledge.

I will definitely be interested to see what Mr. Bechtel publishes next.

The Laughing Corpse / Laurell K. Hamilton

4 out of 5 stars
Harold Gaynor offers Anita Blake a million dollars to raise a 300-year-old zombie. Knowing it means a human sacrifice will be necessary, Anita turns him down. But when dead bodies start turning up, she realizes that someone else has raised Harold's zombie--and that the zombie is a killer. Anita pits her power against the zombie and the voodoo priestess who controls it.

In The Laughing Corpse Anita will learn that there are some secrets better left buried-and some people better off dead...



  ***2017 Summer Lovin' Reading List***

How can I not adore a book that has a character bearing my name? May I say that I did love Wheelchair Wanda, the prostitute with a heart of gold? Even better, she lives while men die around her like flies!

But the book is about Anita, who is just a bit rougher and tougher that your average Urban Fantasy heroine. Because she is an animator/nercromancer, there are also far more zombies than I'm used to in the genre. How is it that I can lurve the vampires and feel so ambivalent about the zombies? I just don't understand their appeal.

Nevertheless, Anita experiences what so many (if not all) UF heroines do--they suddenly find hidden depths to their powers which solves their current dilemma, but opens a whole can of worms, to be explored in further volumes. Has she found her leverage to use against Jean-Claude, the King of Vampires in her city, or will she be lulled into a false sense of safety with him? (I'm betting on door number two!)

Right, off to order book three from my friendly neighbourhood public library!

Thursday, 3 August 2017

The Shifting Price of Prey / Suzanne McLeod

4 out of 5 stars
Sometimes a bit of magical help might cost more than you bargained for ...

London is hosting the Carnival Fantastique, and Genny's job has never been busier or more fulfilling. Only not everyone is so happy. Genny believed she'd cracked the fae's infertility curse ... but the fae are still barren. It's a devastating plight to which the mysterious Emperor may have the solution - if Genny can find him.

She needs help.

She turns to the vampire Malik al-Khan, only to find he's wrestling with his own demons and, when the police request Genny's assistance with a magical kidnap, her own problems multiply too. Is it all unconnected, or can the Emperor help her solve more than the fae's infertility? Soon Genny is hard on his trail, so it seems she'll have a chance to ask ... but will the answer cost more than she's willing to pay?



***2017 Summer Lovin' Reading List ***

Under normal circumstances, I read urban fantasy to take a little holiday from the real world and to simply enjoy a story. But Suzanne McLeod refuses to let me coast, she provides a plot of such complexity that I have to pay attention and her characters are down-right Machiavellian in their manipulations of one another.

In her acknowledgements in this volume, she talks about getting to meet Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse series and one of the queens of urban fantasy. I enjoyed the Sookie series, but I think that McLeod is head and shoulders above Harris in every aspect—plot, characters, setting, complexity. One of my other favourite authors, Ben Aaronovitch, also appreciates McLeod’s work and their series are set to intersect somehow in a future volume of Spellcrackers.com.

How in the world am I going to fill my time until The Hidden Rune of Iron? (Very much a rhetorical question, as I have an enormous stack of library books waiting for me in my reading nook).

Monday, 31 July 2017

The Lost Ones / Sheena Kamal

4 out of 5 stars
It's late. The phone rings.

The man on the other end says his daughter is missing.

Your daughter.

The baby you gave away over fifteen years ago.

What do you do?


Nora Watts isn't sure that she wants to get involved. Troubled, messed up, and with more than enough problems of her own, Nora doesn't want to revisit the past. But then she sees the photograph. A girl, a teenager, with her eyes. How can she turn her back on her?

But going in search of her daughter brings Nora into contact with a past that she would rather forget, a past that she has worked hard to put behind her, but which is always there, waiting for her . . .


I’m not sure how this book even got on my TBR list—but it came in at the public library for me last week, so I must have seen something along the way that prompted me to put a hold on it. I’ve obviously had it on hold for some time and now that it’s published, voila!

A woman with a past. Alcoholism. Sexual assault. A baby given up for adoption. Homelessness. Indigenous heritage, making her invisible to the justice system unless it is making life more difficult for her.

And yet she has talents and has carved out a very small place in the world for herself. One phone call shatters all of that progress and plunges Nora Watts back into the world with a vengeance.


I would definitely read another book about Nora. I hope Ms. Kamal finds another story that Nora could tell.

Spider's Revenge / Jennifer Estep

3 out of 5 stars
Old habits die hard. And I plan on mur­der­ing some­one before the night is through.

Killing used to be my reg­u­lar gig, after all. Gin Blanco, aka the Spi­der, assassin-for-hire. And I was very good at it. Now, I’m ready to make the one hit that truly mat­ters: Mab Mon­roe, the dan­ger­ous Fire ele­men­tal who mur­dered my fam­ily when I was thir­teen.

Oh, I don’t think the mis­sion will be easy, but turns out it’s a bit more prob­lem­atic than expected. The bitch knows I’m com­ing for her. So now I’m up against the army of lethal bounty hunters she hired to track me down. She also put a price on my baby sister’s head. Keep­ing Bria safe is my first pri­or­ity. Tak­ing Mab out is a close sec­ond.

Good thing I’ve got my pow­er­ful Stone and Ice magic — and my irre­sistible lover Owen Grayson — to watch my back. This bat­tle has been years in the mak­ing, and there’s a chance I won’t sur­vive. But if I’m going down, then Mab’s com­ing with me...no mat­ter what I have to do to make that happen.


***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***

I’m glad this installment actually made some plot progress. The revenge plot actually went somewhere finally in this 5th (!) installment. And the romantic sub-plot seems to have firmed up nicely as well. I like the magic system, I’ve grown accustomed to the environs of Ashland, I like the secondary characters.

I’m so tired of hearing about Gin being an assassin (retired or otherwise), where she keeps her knives (seriously, if you’ve made it this far in the series, you have read that hundreds of times), how Mab Munroe hurt her, what the inside of the Pork Pit looks like, what everybody’s various runes look like, or about Finn & his chicory coffee, just like dear old dad. The obsession with eye colour is also a bit tiring. Does it really matter?

I liked that Gin actually made some realistic mistakes, early in the novel, and has to deal with the fallout. I also appreciated that we finally got some back-story on the Devereau sisters and we now know why they help Gin. I’m a little less gung-ho about Finn & Bria’s new attraction to each other.

The big negative that I can see ahead? There’s going to be no end of the repetition reminding us of what went down with Mab. This will last for at least 4 more books by my reckoning, if not more.  Sigh! I like Gin, I like her friends, I like the setting. This could be such an awesome series if an editor was willing to be ruthless.

A Witch's Handbook of Kisses & Curses / Molly Harper

4 out of 5 stars
Nola Leary would have been content to stay in Kilcairy, Ireland, healing villagers at her family’s clinic with a mix of magic and modern medicine. But a series of ill-timed omens and a deathbed promise to her grandmother have sent her on a quest to Half-Moon Hollow, Kentucky, to secure her family’s magical potency for the next generation. Her supernatural task? To unearth four artifacts hidden by her grandfather before a rival magical family beats her to it.

Complication One: Her grandfather was Mr. Wainwright and the artifacts are lost somewhere in what is now Jane Jameson's book shop.

Complication Two: her new neighbor, Jed Trudeau, who keeps turning up half naked at the strangest times, a distraction Nola doesn't need. And teaming up with a real-life Adonis is as dangerous as it sounds, especially when he’s got the face of an angel and the abs of a washboard—can Nola complete her mission before falling completely under his spell?



***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***

An Irish witch on a special mission to Half Moon Hollow. It’s a cute, fun paranormal romance, in Molly Harper’s inimitable style. But it’s the intersection of this story with the continued adventures of Jane Jameson and Dick Cheney that truly made this worthwhile for me. I’m always interested in whatever shenanigans that Dick is enmeshed in and he features heavily in this book.

Half Nola’s adventures, half the Dick & Jane show, there is just enough of each to keep the plot moving along and to keep me smiling. Perhaps a bit predictable, but with enough humour & snark to keep me reading.

Recommended as light, fluffy summer material.

No Rest for the Wicked / Kresley Cole

2 out of 5 stars
A vampire soldier weary of life...

Centuries ago, Sebastian Wroth was turned into a vampire—a nightmare in his mind—against his will. Burdened with hatred and alone for ages, he sees little reason to live. Until an exquisite, fey creature comes to kill him, inadvertently saving him instead.

A valkyrie assassin dispatched to destroy him...

When Kaderin the Cold Hearted lost her two beloved sisters to a vampire attack long ago, a benevolent force deadened her sorrow—accidentally extinguishing all of her emotions. Yet whenever she encounters Sebastian, her feelings—particularly lust—emerge multiplied. For the first time, she's unable to complete a kill.

Competitors in a legendary hunt...

The prize of the month-long contest is powerful enough to change history, and Kaderin will do anything to win it for her sisters. Wanting only to win her, forever, Sebastian competes as well, taking every opportunity—as they travel to ancient tombs and through catacombs, seeking relics around the world—to use her new feelings to seduce her. But when forced to choose between the vampire she's falling for and reuniting her family, how can Kaderin live without either?



***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***

I’m not sure why I did this to myself? I gave Kresley Cole a second chance, after the less-than-stellar A Hunger Like No Other. I did like this one infinitesimally better than that one, but I don’t think she will get a third chance.

I like the idea of Valkyries as characters—warrior women who kick ass and take names. The whole world of the Lore has potential. There’s some humour in these novels too, that I can appreciate. It’s just that the plots are soooo thin, like tissue paper, just the basics to string together the sex scenes. And those are hot, but there are so many of them.

Now if that’s what you are reading the book for, your star rating will be higher than mine. However, I like a little plot to go along with my romance.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Wildfire / Ilona Andrews

4.5 out of 5
Just when Nevada Baylor has finally come to accept the depths of her magical powers, she also realizes she’s fallen in love. Connor “Mad” Rogan is in many ways her equal when it comes to magic, but she’s completely out of her elements when it comes to her feelings for him. To make matters more complicated, an old flame comes back into Rogan’s life…

Rogan knows there’s nothing between him and his ex-fiance, Rynda Sherwood. But as Nevada begins to learn more about her past, her power, and her potential future, he knows she will be faced with choices she never dreamed of and the promise of a life spent without him.

As Nevada and Rogan race to discover the whereabouts of Rynda’s kidnapped husband and are forced to confront Nevada’s grandmother, who may or may not have evil motives, these two people must decide if they can trust in each other or allow everything to go up in smoke.


Well, I slurped that down in one evening flat! And it was delightful. I will no doubt read it again, savouring it more slowly.

All the signs point to the Hidden Legacy series consisting of only 3 books. But there are so many things that just call out for more volumes! Leon finally has found his magic and started to use it. Arabella and Catalina have been required to use their talents too. I need to know more about all of them.

Plus, the big conspiracy theory that has been behind all three novels hasn’t been fully explored yet. Sure, the conspirators sustain a lot of damage during the course of Wildfire, but we still don’t know who the criminal mastermind is.

The whole “becoming a House” process has just begun, and there are bound to me challenges. I want to know what those issues are! And how do Nevada & family cope with Evil Grandma? 


Not to mention that I just enjoy Nevada’s family and would be interested in whatever crazy things they were doing. And although Nevada and Connor may seem like a done deal, those two will always have challenges and I want to witness those.

Please, Ilona & Gordon, tell me there will be more books in the Hidden Legacy world!!! 



Curse of the Kings / Victoria Holt

3 out of 5 stars
For centuries the tombs of the Pharaohs were haunted by a deadly curse. And when two eminent archaeologists have died mysteriously, Judith Osmond was certain that it was the curse at work. Then, overnight, her life changed.

There was an unexpected inheritance. Then Tybalt, a young archaeologist and the man she adored, asked her to marry him. But Tybalt planned a honeymoon amid the tombs of the Pharaohs, and suddenly it looked as if the curse of the kings had come to haunt Judith . . .


***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List ***

I really enjoyed Victoria Holt’s books when I was in my teens. Re-reading them as a mature adult has been a bit disappointing. Having always had a bit of thing for Ancient Egypt, I recall being enchanted by The Curse of the Kings. Unfortunately, having just recently read The Lord of the Far Island, I can now see far too clearly how formulaic Holt’s romances were.

The main character is an orphan, she gets her education as a fortunate extra with the children of the gentry, she’s beautiful & spirited, and she gets miraculously saved from a desperate life as a lady’s companion by snagging the man intended for the well-born gal. Still, there is a slightly older, beautiful woman who seems like she might be competition for the husband’s interest and there are mysterious goings-on.

I think my main beef with this book is Judith’s education. The reader is told repeatedly how she has read ever so many books on archaeology and Ancient Egypt, and yet there is her new husband explaining tomb paintings to her, pointing out Anubis and Amun, as if she has never seen a book before and she acting like it’s all brand new!

And I had never realized before how undemonstrative Tybalt is! I associate the name Tybalt with fiery passion, so it seems strange to have this cold man share the name.

Perhaps I should have let sleeping dogs lie, but I have another of Holt’s books out of the public library, which I will likely read.

Undead and Unwed / MaryJanice Davidson

2 out of 5 stars
It's been a helluva week for Betsy Taylor. First, she loses her job. Then, to top things off, she's killed in a car accident. But what really bites (besides waking up in the morgue dressed in a pink suit and cheap shoes courtesy of her stepmother) is that she can't seem to stay dead. Every night she rises with a horrible craving for blood. She's not taking too well to a liquid diet.

Worst of all, her new friends have the ridiculous idea that Betsy is the prophesied vampire queen, and they want her help in overthrowing the most obnoxious, power-hungry vampire in five centuries - a badly dressed Bela Lugosi wannabe, natch. Frankly, Betsy couldn't care less about vamp politics, but they have a powerful weapon of persuasion: designer shoes. How can any self-respecting girl say no? But a collection of Ferragamos isn't the only temptation for Betsy. It's just a lot safer than the scrumptious Sinclair - a seductive bloodsucker whose sexy gaze seems as dangerous as a stake through the heart...


***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List ***

Before there was Molly Harper’s Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs there was MaryJanice Davidson’s Undead and unwed. They feel somewhat related, but although I really enjoy Harper’s fiction, I think I have had enough of Davidson’s. The difference, for me, is in the main character. I can relate to Jane Jameson (Harper)—she’s educated, she’s a librarian/bookstore owner, she’s snarky and sometimes a bit neurotic, but always basically good-hearted. Betsy Taylor (Davidson) is another kind of woman entirely—she’s shallow, uneducated, unfocused, mouthy, selfish, and seemingly completely motivated by designer shoes. I’m sure there’s a target-market for Betsy out there somewhere, I’m just not it.

It’s not that she doesn’t get some good lines, like “I was the Queen who brought all the tribes together, who ruled them as one. Like the Speaker of the House, only way more blood thirsty. More Book of the Dead crap, which Tina had been reading to me all night. It was like attending Bible school in hell.” Or when she first meets Eric Sinclair, “His shoes were—whoa! Where those Ferragamos? It was a rare and wonderful thing to see a properly shod man in an underground mausoleum.”

The “humour” missed its mark for me as often as it hit. I felt the author was trying too hard. But, as I have often stated in my reviews, my comprehension of humour in print is challenged. I had to order this volume via interlibrary loan in order to read it, making feel that I had to finish the book to justify ordering it from another part of the province. I shan’t bother with further volumes.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Dark Prince / Christine Feehan

2 out of 5 stars
Carpathians are an immortal race of beings with animal instincts. Every Carpathian male is drawn to his life mate: a Carpathian or human female able to provide the light to his darkness. Without her, the beast within slowly consumes the man until turning vampire is the only option.' Raven Whitney is a psychic who has used her gift to help the police track down a serial killer. Now she is determined to escape the glare of recent publicity for the peace and quiet of the Carpathian Mountains. Prince Mikhail Dubrinsky is the leader of his people but, as his ancient Carpathian race grows ever closer to extinction, he is close to giving in to the heavy weight of loneliness and despair. From the moment their minds touch, Raven and Mikhail form a connection. But there are those who incorrectly view all Carpathians as vampires, and are determined to give their extinction a helping hand.

  ***2017 Summer Lovin' Reading List***

Not my cuppa tea, your mileage may vary. It does provide a unique spin on the vampire mythos. There are two forms, the virtuous Carpathian and the corrupt vampire. When a Carpathian goes bad, he or she becomes a vampire. Their problem? Hardly any Carpathian females and those who still exist seem to have only male children. Without a life-mate, the Carpathian men are eventually reduced to a state where they can't see colour, can't experience much emotion, and can hardly avoid going vamp.

And that right there was my biggest issue with the whole book. It is entirely driven by male sexual needs and women are ultimately responsible for containing them. There isn't a sympathetic male character in the whole book! Well, I guess there is the priest who was a decent man but all the other human men are criminal, abusive, or teetering on the edge of violence. All the Carpathian men are arrogant assholes--controlling, condescending, seemingly unable to listen to anyone, even each other. (And how creepy is it that all these hundreds-of-years-old men are now standing around staring at Raven's belly, wondering when she is going to produce a girl child that they can perhaps claim as a life-mate?)

My other problem? Raven herself. For someone who thinks she's smart, she does nothing to prove it. She's smart enough to escape from the "protections" that Mikhail has constructed for her, but then goes wandering off into the woods, barefoot and half-naked. Both Raven & Mikhail go on and on about love and trust, but their behaviour says that there isn't all that much trust.

I respect the folks who love this series, though. The whole life-mate concept, while seeming claustrophobic to me, might seems tempting to those who would like to be sure about their relationships. We live in a world of 50% divorce rates--how nice would it be for everything to click magically into place when we meet a magical life-mate? No doubts, no regrets.

Not every book is for everyone, and I am done with this series. My TBR list is too long to waste valuable reading time on books that make me roll my eyes this violently.

Soleri / Michael Johnston

4 out of 5 stars
The ruling family of the Soleri Empire has been in power longer than even the calendars that stretch back 2,826 years. Those records tell a history of conquest and domination by a people descended from gods, older than anything in the known world. No living person has seen them for centuries, yet their grip on their four subjugate kingdoms remains tighter than ever.

On the day of the annual eclipse, the Harkan king, Arko-Hark Wadi, sets off on a hunt and shirks his duty rather than bow to the emperor. Ren, his son and heir, is a prisoner in the capital, while his daughters struggle against their own chains. Merit, the eldest, has found a way to stand against imperial law and marry the man she desires, but needs her sister’s help, and Kepi has her own ideas.

Meanwhile, Sarra Amunet, Mother Priestess of the sun god’s cult, holds the keys to the end of an empire and a past betrayal that could shatter her family.


I am a big fan of anything Ancient Egyptian and of King Lear, so when I heard this book described as inspired by both of those things, I knew I had to give it a try. The environment and the architecture were definitely reminiscent of Ancient Egypt, as were the names and some of the religious observances, but the author definitely gave his world its own traditions and quirks.

I didn’t really see the King Lear comparison—unlike Shakespearean tragedy, there were survivors! I guess the Harkan king, Arko Hark-Wadi could have been somewhat equivalent to Lear, but he is not nearly passionate enough to truly do justice to that monarch. However, that does not mean that it was a disappointing book.

All the members of Arko’s family, in fact, seem rather cold and calculating, even when they are supposedly in love with someone. There are manipulations and misunderstandings galore! If you enjoy back-stabbing and elaborate plots to sabotage rivals, this is the book for you.

I suspect there will be a sequel—there were enough loose ends left hanging to justify one. Probably sales of this volume will determine whether the sequel sees the light of day. I, for one, like messy endings, so I am okay with Soleri’s final pages, but if you need things wrapped up neatly, you may find it frustrating.

Guilty Pleasures / Laurell K. Hamilton

3 out of 5 stars
Ever since the Supreme Court granted the undead equal rights, most people think vampires are just ordinary folks with fangs. I know better. I’ve seen their victims. I carry the scars…

But now a serial killer is murdering vampires—and the most powerful bloodsucker in town wants me to find the killer… “
In a world where vampires, zombies and werewolves have been declared legal citizens of the United States, Anita Blake is an “animator” – a profession that involves raising the dead for mourning relatives. But Anita is also known as a fearsome hunter of criminal vampires, and she’s often employed to investigate cases that are far too much for conventional police. But as Anita gains the attention of the vampire masters of her hometown of St Louis, she also risks revealing an intriguing secret about herself – the source of her unusual strength and power.



  ***2017 Summer Lovin' Reading List***

Another title in what seems to be morphing into my Summer Vampire Reading List. I liked this one and will probably read on, at least for another book or two, in the series.

These are old-school vampires, susceptible to both crosses and holy water, something fairly uncommon in current urban fantasy. Anita knows that she is opposing evil, not just being prejudiced against a new segment of society.

There was also, I thought, a nod to Anne Rice's vampires, specifically Claudia. The biggest, baddest vamp in Anita's town is actually a 1000 year old little girl!

I'm not exactly sure why, but Anita reminds me of Faith Hunter's Jane Yellowrock. I think it may be a matter of kickass attitude, but Jane is much more comfortable working for and around the undead than Anita.

Anita needs a woman friend right away!! She can't continue to lean on the psychopathic Edward (although I must admit that he has a treasure-trove of weapons, making him a handy kind of guy to know. If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy). Anita also has an unexplained talent for resisting vampire glamour which I will be interested to learn more about. Plus its pretty obvious that Anita is riding for a fall when she declares, "I don't date vampires, I kill them." I predict she'll be dating one in the next book.

The Lost City of the Monkey God/

3.5 stars out of 5
Since the days of conquistador Hernán Cortés, rumors have circulated about a lost city of immense wealth hidden somewhere in the Honduran interior, called the White City or the Lost City of the Monkey God. Indigenous tribes speak of ancestors who fled there to escape the Spanish invaders, and they warn that anyone who enters this sacred city will fall ill and die. In 1940, swashbuckling journalist Theodore Morde returned from the rainforest with hundreds of artifacts and an electrifying story of having found the Lost City of the Monkey God-but then committed suicide without revealing its location.

Three quarters of a century later, bestselling author Doug Preston joined a team of scientists on a groundbreaking new quest. In 2012 he climbed aboard a rickety, single-engine plane carrying the machine that would change everything: lidar, a highly advanced, classified technology that could map the terrain under the densest rainforest canopy. In an unexplored valley ringed by steep mountains, that flight revealed the unmistakable image of a sprawling metropolis, tantalizing evidence of not just an undiscovered city but an enigmatic, lost civilization.


 My friend Barbara recommended this book to me, so really how could I refuse? Especially once I found out that much of the action takes place in Honduras, a country that I have been interested in visiting for several years. Why? The Lovely Cotinga, that's why (have a look at http://www.sabrewingtours.com/hondura...

But I think I may be cured of that desire now. You see, in addition to the anthropological research and the jungle exploration (poisonous snakes, hip deep mud, and unremitting rain, anyone?) there ends up being a fair amount of discussion of insect-bourne disease. A number of the team were infected with Leishamaniasis by the bites of sand flies. What is easily done can be difficult to undo and they struggle to find treatment options. Most of the world's victims of this disease are among the poorest people on earth--if they had money to spend on drugs, the pharma companies would be doing the necessary research. But that's not the way things are.

Now, I am one of those people that biting insects adore. In fact, I was just at a family reunion and I think I heard everyone say at some point, "Oh, mosquitoes love me!" So apparently it is a family trait and as I sat in their attractive midst, I did get only 3-4 mosquito bites. But I am hardly encourages to brave Hondruas, even for the most beautiful bird. Sorry, Lovely Cotinga!

Monday, 24 July 2017

Broken Homes/ Ben Aaronovitch

4 out of 5 stars
A mutilated body in Crawley. Another killer on the loose. The prime suspect is one Robert Weil - an associate of the twisted magician known as the Faceless Man? Or just a common garden serial killer?

Before PC Peter Grant can get his head round the case, a town planner going under a tube train and a stolen grimoire are adding to his case-load.

So far so London.

But then Peter gets word of something very odd happening in Elephant and Castle, on an housing estate designed by a nutter, built by charlatans and inhabited by the truly desperate.

Is there a connection?

And i
f there is, why oh why did it have to be South of the River?


This installment meanders a bit, as it juggles multiple story lines, plus lessons in architecture. Thomas "Oh was that your Tiger tank?" Nightingale gets to show why he's the teacher and Peter & Lesley are the apprentices. I particularly enjoyed Toby's increased role in this book, being Peter's magic detector (the yap-o-metre) and camouflage (a man with a dog is virtually invisible, apparently).

Peter has matured since the first book. Lesley gives him a hard time, needling him about why he and Beverly Brook aren't sleeping together yet. In the first couple of books, Peter would have jumped in first and thought things through later, but he has learned to think with his big head and is suitably cautious. After all, if your relationship with a goddess goes pear-shaped, you know who is going to suffer most (and it won't be Beverly).

I'm still enjoying the effortless multicultural and inclusive cast of characters, however don't imagine that I have no criticism! I'm not wild about the Faceless Man as an antagonist (although I did enjoy Peter's reference to his lab as the Strip Club of Dr. Moreau). But, having read to the end of this volume, how can I doubt that I will read the next to see the next event in the drama?

Blood Games / Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

4 out of 5 stars
Blending the dark eroticism of the vampire with the suspenseful adventure in history's most exotic locales, Yarbro's Saint-Germain epic continues in this third book that takes place in the last chaotic days of Nero's Rome.


  ***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***

Finally, I met the enigmatic Olivia who corresponded with Saint-Germain during the first two books! She is an excellent character and the Ancient Roman setting was an inspired choice. I can’t imagine all the historical research that Yarbro must do for each novel—so far, she has skipped through three entirely different time periods and seems to maintain the accuracy of each one reasonably well.

Also long awaited was Saint-Germain actually using his vampire powers a bit more. What is the point of giving your main character exceptional abilities if you aren’t going to utilize them? It was also good to see him lose his temper and make errors. Up to this point, he has been the uber-rational, uber-calm master mind who never screws up!

I seem to be on a vampire kick this summer and I’m enjoying the variety of perspectives as I switch authors. Yarbro’s fiction is from a time before the paranormal craze that we find ourselves in today and is interesting just for that.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Third Grave Dead Ahead / Darynda Jones

2.5 stars out of 5
Paranormal private eye. Grim reaper extraordinaire. Whatever. Charley Davidson is back! And she's drinking copious amounts of caffeine to stay awake because, every time she closes her eyes, she sees him: Reyes Farrow, the part-human, part-supermodel son of Satan. Yes, she did imprison him for all eternity, but come on. How is she supposed to solve a missing persons case, deal with an ego-driven doctor, calm her curmudgeonly dad, and take on a motorcycle gang hellbent on murder when the devil's son just won't give up?

***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***

Some light-hearted fluff to follow an interesting non-fiction book.

I’m tiring of Charley & Reyes, since they seem to make very little progress on their relationship from book to book. In this one, he kidnaps her at knife-point, but that it somehow okay because she “knows that he cares about her.” And although I appreciate her friendship with Cookie, it really seems like both of them are way too focused on “finding a man” and not paying enough attention to their families, their careers, and all the myriads of others things that life consists of. I want to give both of them Penelope Russianoff’s book Why Do I Think I Am Nothing Without A Man?.

Having little luck with Reyes, Charley is throwing herself at two other guys, without really considering the consequences and the thought of the entanglements to come wearies me already. Needless to say, if I continue reading this series, I will be in no hurry to pick of the next volume.

Shakespeare's Rebel / C.C. Humphries

4.5 stars out of 5
London 1599, a city on the brink of revolution...

He is Queen Elizabeth's last, perhaps her greatest, love - Robert Deveraux, Earl of Essex. Champion jouster, dashing general...and the man that John Lawley, England's finest swordsman, most wishes to avoid. For John knows the other earl - the reckless melancholic - and has had to risk his life for him in battle one time too many.

All John wants is to be left alone to win back the heart of the woman he loves, be the kind of father that his son can look up to, and arrange the fight scenes for the magnificent new theatre, the Globe. To realise these dreams, John must dodge both Essex and his ruthless adversary for the queen's affections, Robert Cecil, and remain free to help his oldest friend Will Shakespeare finish the play that threatens to destroy him: THE TRAGEDY OF HAMLET.


I picked up this novel in anticipation of a writers & readers conference that I attend in August of each year, as this author will be participating this year. I did not know what to expect but got much more than I was bargaining for!

Humphreys played to his strengths—he has played Hamlet (here in my home town!), knows his way around a sword, has choreographed fight scenes for theatre, and has a passion for Shakespeare. All of these interests have been channeled into this tale of John Lawley. Lawley is a solider, an actor and an alcoholic—he is rather evenly devoted to all three, but the third has made it difficult for him to pursue the other two or to maintain a relationship with his son and the son’s mother.

I love books in which William Shakespeare himself appears as a character and he is a good friend of Lawley in this one. Will is struggling with the writing of Hamlet while Robbie Deveraux and Robert Cecil wrestle for Queen Elizabeth’s affections.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys good historical fiction, who is interested in the history surrounding Queen Elizabeth I, or who is a fan of Shakespeare. I am very much looking forward to meeting the author in August and I will read more of his novels with great pleasure.

Artemis Fowl / Eoin Colfer

3 out of 5 stars
Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is a millionaire, a genius, and, above all, a criminal mastermind. But even Artemis doesn't know what he's taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren't fairies of bedtime stories; these fairies are armed and dangerous.

Artemis thinks he has them right where he wants them...but then they stop playing by the rules.


Artemis Fowl (or should that be Foul?) is an interesting mix of Lex Luthor and Encyclopedia Brown. He’s a boy genius with designs on leprechaun gold and he is willing to kidnap and deceive his way to his goal. But the fairy world is not going to just roll over and submit to Artemis’ demands, especially not Captain Holly Short, who is being held captive in Fowl Manor.

It’s a quick read, well written. If I was part of the intended demographic, I would probably be more impressed, but it’s a bit tame for adult tastes. Very appropriate for the children’s market, however. I would have no hesitation buying it for a school library. There are explosions, near-death-experiences, monsters, and evil plans, but no one loses their life. Colfer gives amusing names to his characters, like a butler named Butler and a centaur named Foaly.

Looking for summer reading for your 10 year old? Consider Artemis Fowl!

Bonk / Mary Roach

4 out of 5 stars
The study of sexual physiology - what happens, and why, and how to make it happen better - has been a paying career or a diverting sideline for scientists as far-ranging as Leonardo da Vinci and James Watson. The research has taken place behind the closed doors of laboratories, brothels, MRI centers, pig farms, sex-toy R&D labs, and Alfred Kinsey's attic.

Mary Roach, "the funniest science writer in the country" (Burkhard Bilger of 'The New Yorker'), devoted the past two years to stepping behind those doors. Can a person think herself to orgasm? Can a dead man get an erection? Is vaginal orgasm a myth? Why doesn't Viagra help women or, for that matter, pandas?

In 'Bonk', Roach shows us how and why sexual arousal and orgasm, two of the most complex, delightful, and amazing scientific phenomena on earth, can be so hard to achieve and what science is doing to slowly make the bedroom a more satisfying place.


Mary Roach, as usual, is drawn to the weird and the wonderful. I love her sense of humour about whatever her current obsession happens to be. A book about sex research could be dry and boring, but not with Ms. Roach at the helm.

Male readers may cringe at several of the chapters regarding surgery on the family jewels—it made me a little queasy. I am also amazed that she managed to drag her husband along to participate in research projects with her. He is obviously a guy with a sense of adventure!

Sex researchers, both animal and human, were good sports to show off their work in progress or discuss published results. As stated a couple of time in the book, publicity can sometimes be a hindrance to obtaining research money, so they were either very established researchers or willing to risk the exposure.

We’re all interested in the topic, but few of us have the time or inclination to track down these great stories! Thank you, Mary Roach, for being the obsessive researcher for us.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

A Monster Calls / Patrick Ness

5 out of 5 stars
The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.



 “The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.”

That’s when our worries plague us—in the middle of the night when there’s nothing we can do except stew about them. Your nightmare is now interrupted by real-life worries that are worse. Deal with it!

I’ve lived through a similar situation. I was at my father’s side when he died, after three weeks of lingering in hospital after a car accident. I went through all the stages of grief, repeatedly. Denial, bargaining, anger, depression, acceptance. I had the advantage of a couple of decades of experience more than Conor, but the emotions are the same.

I can’t even remember who I was talking to on the phone, days before Dad died, when I said, “Why can’t this poor man die? What’s holding him here?” Because his life was never going to be the same. He would never be physically or emotionally whole again. His life would simply have been a frustrating struggle and he didn’t deal well with frustration. All in all, it was a relief when he made the decision to let go. I was grateful that he was able to leave, but I have missed him every day since then.

I shed a lot of tears towards the end of this book. I think it would be an excellent offering to any young person who has lost a parent or whose parent is on the brink of death. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be relieved when that parent is released from pain. Whatever you feel, it’s okay.

Apologies to my real-life book club for choosing yet another “cancer book.”

The Bitter Seed of Magic / Suzanne McLeod

4 out of 5 stars
On the surface, Genny's life seems ripple-free right now. Finn, her sexy boss and -- well, Genny's not sure what else she wants him to be -- has stopped pushing for a decision on their relationship. The seductive vampire Malik al-Khan has vanished back into the shadows. And the witches have declared her no longer a threat. But unless Genny can find a way to break the fertility curse afflicting London's fae, she knows this is just the lull before the magical storm.

Then a faeling -- a teenage girl -- is fished out of the River Thames, dead and bound with magic, and Genny is called into investigate. As she digs through the clues, her search takes a sinister and dangerous turn, exposing age-old secrets that might be better left buried. Then another faeling disappears, and Genny finds herself in a race against time to save the faeling and stop the curse from claiming its next victim -- herself!
 


  ***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List ***

On the most obvious level, this is just a very good story, chock full of magic, mystery, and action. Faelings are being killed and Genny is trying to figure out the motive and the perpetrator. In the meantime, she must also be aware of the curse put on London’s Fae community, preventing them from reproducing and putting them at risk of “fading.” Prophecy seems to indicate that Genny is the key and all of the Fae communities are lobbying to provide her with a baby-daddy in order to break the spell.

When I read the book with the curse very much in front of mind, I couldn’t help but think of all the women in the world who are forced to bear children, whether they want them or not. The whole issue of who owns women’s bodies—the women themselves or their families or husbands? Does the community get a say?

For me, this was the best book so far in this series, and I look forward to the next!

Hunted / Kevin Hearne

3 out of 5 stars
For a two-thousand-year-old Druid, Atticus O’Sullivan is a pretty fast runner. Good thing, because he’s being chased by not one but two goddesses of the hunt—Artemis and Diana—for messing with one of their own. Dodging their slings and arrows, Atticus, Granuaile, and his wolfhound Oberon are making a mad dash across modern-day Europe to seek help from a friend of the Tuatha Dé Danann. His usual magical option of shifting planes is blocked, so instead of playing hide-and-seek, the game plan is . . . run like hell.

Crashing the pantheon marathon is the Norse god Loki. Killing Atticus is the only loose end he needs to tie up before unleashing Ragnarok—AKA the Apocalypse. Atticus and Granuaile have to outfox the Olympians and contain the god of mischief if they want to go on living—and still have a world to live in.



  ***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List ***

This installment of the Iron Druid is basically just one very long chase scene, but despite that, Hearne manages to make some progress which I appreciated. Oberon is present, in full force, being a wolf hound with opinions and hilarious comments on many issues. Granuaile is finally a fully-fledged Druid in her own right and is learning to be a powerful warrior woman. Hearne, the Hunter, makes an awesome appearance and the Irish gods and goddesses make more meaningful appearances.
Towards book’s end, there are two wonderful new characters added and their possibilities will keep me reading onwards!

A perfect fluffy summer read!

Friday, 23 June 2017

The Lord of the Far Island / Victoria Holt

3.5 out of 5 stars
Lovely Ellen Kellaway was rescued from a bleak future by her newly discovered guardian, Jago Kellaway, Lord of the Far Island, off the wild coast of Cornwall. There, Ellen was drawn deeper and deeper into the secrets of a past as alive and threatening as the present. There Jago offered her the fabled Island Necklace worn by the mistresses of Kellaway Castle. But was it a promise of happiness -- or a dark symbol of death . . .?

  ***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***

I think this may have been the very first romance novel that I ever read in my life, at around age 11 or 12. I remember how much I loved the book at that age and that is probably influencing my rating today.

Talk about Gothic! A heroine who is an orphan, living with distant family members as a Poor Relation? Check! Beautiful & spunky? Check! Mysterious goings-on? Check! Subtly threatening handsome man with secrets who arrives in the nick of time to save her from the horrid fate of governessing? Check! New family members who maybe aren’t as into her as she is into them? Check and double check! A second handsome and more straightforward man as a foil for the intense, dark one? Checkeroo!

I believe it was my mother who introduced me to Victoria Holt and she & I read our way through many of Holt’s novels. This was very much a nostalgia read—it reminded me of my teenage reading years and reading with Mom. I can definitely see where works like this one set my tastes in romantic fiction, leading to my current affection for paranormal romance.

Death in Cyprus / M.M. Kaye

4 out of 5 stars
Twenty-year-old Amanda Derrington is on an extended cruise with her uncle when she decides to make a short side trip to the sun-washed island of Cyprus. But even before the ship arrives in port, there is a suspicious death. Once the passengers reach the island, it soon becomes clear that the death was in fact an act of murder. What Amanda had meant to be a pleasant excursion quickly takes a turn for the worse.

  ***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***

I love these older murder mystery/romance mash-ups written by writers like M.M. Kaye and Mary Stewart. Dating from the 1950s, they were written in an era where book heroines were more innocent (and worried about their reputations) and the social classes were more firmly entrenched.

I owned all the Kaye’s Death in … series at one point in my life and read them all multiple times. I wasn’t more than three pages into this one when I realized that I already knew who the murderer was, but I still enjoyed the reading process. The descriptions of Cyprus were beautiful and made me wish I could visit Villa Oleander and picnic in the Cyprean countryside. Kaye spent time in Cyprus as a British army wife, so no doubt was able to describe terrain that she was familiar with and obviously fond of.

Reading this now, as an older person, I realize how excruciating the effects of class are and how much personal income has become the new way to distinguish between classes (rather than whom one is related to). The characters in this novel often marry for money (George Norman and Alastair Blaine both depend on their wives’ money for their comfortable life style) and it was a foregone conclusion by their friends that it was a reasonable choice. Interestingly, it was men marrying for financial advantage, rather than the usual women in this case, perhaps Kaye pointing out that it’s a two way street.

This time around I also noticed how Persis, the American writer, is so very stereotypically American—she is loud, brash, demanding, and not the slightest bit retiring. Plus, she is attracted to British men for the same reason that many North American women are, that enticing accent. Still, she is a good friend to Amanda, our heroine, and courageous when required, so the impression is not at all negative.

An excellent nostalgia read, a great way to spend a lazy summer evening.