A Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlante

Wives_LaPlante

On a gorgeous evening in Palo Alto, California, Detective Samantha Adams is called to the Westin hotel when a guest is found dead in his room.  Dr. John Taylor, a prominent plastic surgeon specializing in pediatric reconstructive surgery, has died of an apparent heart attack, but the presence of bruises and an inexplicable puncture wound in the back of his neck hint at something else.

At his funeral, we meet his wife of thirty-five years, Deborah.  And his wife, MJ, of six years.  And, Helen, his wife of six months.  Dr. John was, apparently, a very busy boy.  And, it turns out, that ain’t the half of it.

Finding out your husband isn’t just your husband, would certainly be an adequate motive for murder, but which one of them, if any, did the deed?

I got the whodunit right, but not the whodunit. That doesn’t make any sense, I know, unless, of course, you’ve read the book. If you haven’t, you need to. It’s an awesome read.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

The King by J. R. Ward

Back to where, and with whom, it all began, the king and queen of the race, Wrath and Beth. I really enjoyed the look we got into Beth’s relationship with John Matthew. And the flashbacks of Wrath’s parents. Makes we wonder if we could, possibly, get a prequel? Maybe a novella type think? Please?

King_Ward

The Shadows interest me.  Those little snippets of their customs and culture.  I really want Iam to get an HEA.  He so deserves it for putting up with Trez for so long.  Not to mention his relationship with Boo was both sweet and hilarious.

Speaking of hilarious, how about Lassiter as Elvis.  That whole scene had me laughing out loud.  Fortunately, not in public.  I am not typing this from a padded cell.  :)

I found The King to be a very satisfying addition to Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  I’ve been prepared to give up on the series, but I find want to read about Saxton, Iam, and find out what’s up with Selena.  And, of course, the Mary and Rhage novella.

And, about Selena, I thought she was a scribe not an ehros?  In Lover Enshrined, she was the last sequestered scribe before Cormia went into sehclusion.  I’m confused.

I still don’t really care about Assail.  Or the Band of Bastards.  I feel sorry for, Leila, sure, but why hasn’t she told anyone about X’cor coming so close to the mansion?  I whited out that last part, because it’s a bit of a spoiler.  Just a small one, but read it at your own risk if you haven’t finished the book.

Another thing about X’cor and his merry band that has me confused.  Someone, please, explain to me why they have not been reported to the Scribe Virgin for attempting to assassinate the king?

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Son of a Bleep!

Well, it looks like the tournament is over me and my guys.  We sucked large, today.  What do y’all wanna bet Coach K. will request the bus driver take a little detour on the way back to Durham?

Congrats to Mercer.  Well played.

Let’s see how Carolina does against Providence tonight.  And, of course, thus far I still have Kentucky and Kansas.  Fingers crossed.

What Killed Off the Giant Beasts – Climate Change or Man?

Image from Wikipedia, Creative Commons.

Image from Wikipedia, Creative Commons.

What Killed Off the Giant Beasts – Climate Change or Man? – Past Horizons

An interesting article posted a few days ago at Past Horizons.  It talks about the roles played by extinct megafauna in keeping their native ecosystems healthy and the impact their lack has had on those systems since then.  The idea of cloning mammoths and reintroducing to the wild is both frightening and fascinating at the same time.  I can’t say I’m really in favor of the idea.  Anyone seen, or read, Jurassic Park?  Mammoths were herbivores, I know, but after they’re brought back, then they’ll want to bring back their natural predators.  Saber-toothed cats and cave lions, anyone?  No.  Just, no.

There’s something else in the article that annoyed me.  Here:

The idea that humans were involved in any way in eradicating dozens of species of giant animal when we were still hunter-gatherers has important implications in any case. It was thought, until relatively recently, that it was only when humans invented agriculture several thousand years ago that our species’ relationship with the natural world become unbalanced. Until then, humans had a close affinity with nature. But if ancient hunter-gatherers played a part in wiping out these species of huge animals as long as 50,000 years ago, humanity’s supposed innate harmony with the living world appears misplaced.

Really?  Are the one’s who thought this the same people who thought the Maya were pacifists until their own texts proved they weren’t?  Why do people automatically assume a human society is peaceful and environmentally responsible until it is proven otherwise?  Human nature should indicate the opposite.

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah Maclean

Oh my God, Chase!  I know I’m supposed to be reviewing Temple’s book, and, boy, is it a doozy, but I can’t stop thinking about the big reveal about Chase in the epilogue.  I never saw this coming.  I’m just consumed with nearly rabid curiosity over Chase’s identity.  I can’t wait for Chase’s book, Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover.  I wanted it before, but now…

Duke_MacleanOkay, deep breath.  Whoosh.  Now, let’s talk about No Good Duke Goes Unpunished.  I know one think absolutely, after the secret of Mara Lowe reveals itself, if I was Temple I’d have immediately accepted the challenge from her brother, Christopher Lowe, and beat him to a bloody pulp.

I loved the verbal sparring and the battles of wits between Temple and Mara.  It was lively and sharp, all the while simmering with attraction.  Of course, the angst, self-blame, and self-delusion was overdone at times, but, it always is in romance novels.

You can’t help feeling sorry for them both, for the hurt and the tragedy that followed the over dramatic plot of a sixteen-year-old girl.  However, after picking up the pieces of what was left of their lives, what they made of them was their own doing, their own fault.  I couldn’t help but notice how long it took both of them to realize that.  Her brother never actually did.

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished is an entertaining read with wonderful characters and fast-paced plot.  Love this series.

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Willing Sacrifice by Shannon K. Butcher

Sacrifice_ButcherLike everyone else who reads this series, I was looking forward to Grace and Torr getting their happily ever after, but not like this.  This book is such a classic romance novel cliche it’s not even funny.  It’s ridiculous.  Grace is supposed to be an truly unselfish person willing to sacrifice herself for the greater good. What she comes off as is an idiot.  You know the woman in horror movies who always trips while running away from the murderer?  This is Grace.  When the warrior who has fought for centuries and has superhuman abilities tells you to stay put, any halfway intelligent person with even an ounce of self-preservation would do exactly that.  But not Grace.

And Torr.  He’s the quintessential tortured warrior who is ruled by his libido.  It seemed to me that he picked the worst times to listen to his hormones instead his brain.  Instead of watching for danger on a journey, he watches her ass.  After barely escaping a Hunter trap, they get naked in a cave, and there’s supposed to be a Warden lurking around the forest.  While washing up in a lake, his guard is so low that he gets stabbed.  Anyone wanna guess what he was thinking about?  I swear you would think he was a teenaged virgin with his first crush instead of an experienced, seasoned, centuries old warrior.

It’s amazing to me that they survived the first Hunter.

There were a couple of highlights to this otherwise underwhelming read.  The big reveal about who Brenye really is was a big shocker.  Loved that.  I was also intrigued by the Tori storyline.  And the hints about who her man will be.  I think it’s high time he got a story.  He and Joseph are the ones I’m most looking forward to.

It’s a good thing I’m already hooked on the characters in this series, because Willing Sacrifice would not, by itself, inspire me to read more.

Rating:  2.75 out of 5 stars

Flit and Flutter

Oh Spring, Spring, wherefore art thou?  At least this storm is just plain rain that isn’t freezing all over everything.  Just your classic nor’easter type storm.  Lots of wind and rain and cold.  But not too cold.  Springtime cannot come soon enough.  This new kit, Flit and Flutter, if filled with springtime stuff flowers and trees, rain and sunshine, the flit of birds, bees, and dragonflies, and the flutter of butterflies.  Trust me, there is wistfulness in ever pixel.

Flit and Flutter contains:

  • 34 papers
  • 25 flowers
  • 24 frames
  • 8 birds
  • 6 butterflies
  • 6 dragonflies
  • 4 ladybugs
  • 2 bees
  • 6 buttons
  • 6 sequins
  • 6 glitter tiles
  • 6 ric-rac
  • 4 trees
  • 3 suns
  • 3 clouds
  • 2 rain layers
  • 2 sets raindrops
  • 1 rainbow
  • 1 alpha (upper- and lowercase letters numbers and symbols)

IR_FlitandFlutter_PRE

The alpha for this kit was made using the font Times New Roman by Monotype Imaging.  This font usually comes with Windows, so, if you have Windows, you should already have this font.  If you don’t, you can purchase it here.  Also, for some of the pattern papers, I used Free Tiles from Intellecta Designs.  You can download it from dafont.com.  I’m sorry to say I forgot this one when compiling the credits for this kit.

Also for some of the papers, and flowers, I used a few flower and butterfly shapes from Shawna’s wonderful blog, Scrap Stuff with PSP.  Lots of awesome shapes there.

Here’s a better look at the papers:

IR_FlitandFlutter_PRE_Papers

Download:  In Full or in Pieces.

The Maid and the Queen by Nancy Goldstone

As a girl, one of my favorite books was Mark Twain’s Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc. Wait, you’re thinking, Mark Twain wrote about Joan of Arc? Yes, he did. In the novel, Twain tells her remarkable story through her page, Louis de Contes, who Twain makes one of her childhood friends in Domremy, hence, the “personal recollections.”  Maid&Queen_GoldstoneI absolutely loved that book, reading it multiple times in my tween years. Joan fascinated me.

Twain’s wonderfully romantic novel, however, was meant for children and filled with glory and tragedy with a complete absence of such adult concepts as politics, greed, and self-aggrandizement that played such a vital role in Joan’s story.  The Maid and the Queen makes no such exception.

In fact, in this book, Goldstone contends that Joan’s rise was the ultimate culmination of the subtle, deviously ruthless, political strategy of Charles’s VII mother-in-law, Yolande of Aragon.  And her fall was the result of one man’s ambition and the blinding hatred she engendered in his English patrons, which he used ruthlessly, for his own ends.  In eminently readable prose, Nancy Goldstone meticulously paints a rather unpleasant, and unflattering, picture of the vicious avarice and naked greed and vindictiveness that was the medieval French court.  A true nest of vipers with the singular goal of enriching themselves and their families, the fate of France and its common people be damned.

The Maid and the Queen is a wonderful, fascinating, if slightly cynical, read.  I really want to read Goldstone’s The Lady Queen, which is about how Joanna I, Queen of Naples, and her lover, managed to get away with the blatant assassination of her first husband, Andrew of Hungary.  The murder, and her absolution, were one of the great scandals of the day.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars

By the way, if you want to read Mark Twain’s Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc for yourself, you can download it in two volumes from Project Gutenberg: Volume 1 and Volume Two.

Mardi Party

Hey, y’all.  Back down into the deep freeze we go after a week long visit with Spring.  My daffodils are coming up.  No buds, yet, so, hopefully, they’ll survive the coming cold blasts.  Yes, blasts, plural.  We are in for one bumpy ride.  Today, highs are forecast to be in the mid-forties, and, according to the weather guy, that might be a little optimistic.  Sunday and Monday, though, are supposed to around 70.  Then back in the 40s and 50s for Tuesday and Wednesday.

::sigh::

On a brighter, definitely happier, note, Mardi Gras is next week.  Here’s a little kit I’ve been toying with for about a year.  I started playing with it last year, but something wasn’t quite right.  After bringing it out last month, I decided it needed more color, so I added the bright gold color to the palette.  Everything just kind of flowed from there.

Mardi Party contains:

  • 24 papers
  • 25 frames
  • 12 beads
  • 5 beaded strings
  • 6 masks
  • 6 coins
  • 4 flags
  • 7 street signs
  • 7 glitter tiles
  • 7 glitter brackets
  • 7 glitter circle accents
  • 7 glitter curled ribbons
  • 6 glitter argyle
  • 7 sequins
  • 7 Fleur-de-lys
  • 6 curled ribbons
  • 1 alpha (upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols)

IR_MardiParty_PRE

I used the font Times New Roman for the alpha.  If you have Windows, you should already have it.  If you don’t, you can purchase it here.  You should also already have Verdana, the font used on the street signs.  If you don’t, you can get it from the FontZone.  The glitter brackets were done with Boingo, from Bright Ideas.  It can be downloaded from dafont.com.  Intellecta Crowns and Rough Fleurons (the fleurs-de-lys), both by Intellecta Designs, can also be downloaded from there.  The word Mardi Gras on one of the papers is from the font MardiGras.  You can get it here.

Here’s a better look at the papers:

IR_MardiParty_Papers_PRE

Download:  In Full or in Pieces