June Reads, 2017

SilverSilence_SinghSilver Silence by Nalini Singh.  I loved this book! Hope we get to see a whole lot more of StoneWater. And add my vote for an Arwen/Pasha novella. Pretty please!  Lots of other story possibilities here.  Stasya and someone from BlackEdge, for instance.  Tanique and Leila.  I don’t think it’s time for Bo, because I really think he’s going to be paired with Miane.  And, of course, poor Lily.

About the Architect.  Shoshona would be way too easy.  But I have no doubt she’s involved, and no doubt thinks she’s the Architect!

Lady Susan by Jane Austen.  I very much enjoyed this early Austen work and don’t see why anyone thinks it needed a rewrite.  It didn’t take very long at all for me to have a serious hate on for Lady Susan Vernon.

DangerousDuke-London_HunterThe Most Dangerous Duke in London by Madeline Hunter.  Typical historical romance with an angry hero bent on revenge on the heroine’s family.  Enjoyable while I was reading, but not much stuck with me afterwards.  The heroine, Lady Clara, was a little unusual in that she was aware of this possible/probable motive for seduction.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen.  After reading and loving Lady Susan, I decided to read another Jane Austen work I hadn’t yet read.  I didn’t like it nearly as much.  Mostly, I think, because I didn’t warm to any of the characters.  No one stood out or inspired much emotion in me at all.  Very un-Austen.  The exception on the emotion front was Mr. Crawford.  I wanted to smack him.

Neanderthal_CameronThe Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron.  This was an enjoyable, imaginative read, but I think I would have enjoyed this book more without the trips into the modern world.  I realize that the comparison between Girl and Rose, between a Neanderthal and a modern human female, was one of the main themes of the books, but I would have preferred knowing how Girl interacted with the female who was and was not part of the families she meets at the end of the novel.

The Chosen by J. R. Ward.  The only thing of interest here, for me, was Lassiter’s change in station.  Layla and X’cor hold no interest for me, and, frankly, I’m getting a little tired of Qhuinn being an ass and Blay tragically suffering for it.  I think this marks the end of the BDB for me.  I’m even less interested in Assail than I was in Layla and X’cor.

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July Reads 2016

The Tiger and Wolf by Adrian Tchaikovsky turned out to be an interesting read, if a bit long. The revelation about Maniye’s mother, the Tiger Queen, I saw coming a mile away, the one about her father, however, shocked the hell out of me. Still didn’t like him. At first, I rooted fervently for the Tigers to make a come back and kick some serious Wolf ass, but, after I met the Tigers, I hoped someone would show up and defeat them both. I think I’d prefer to be a Serpent, a Bear, or a Horse. I don’t know if I’ll follow Maniye and her companions to the Sun River Nation in The Bear and the Serpent or not.

Next was Once a Soldier, the first book in Mary Jo Putney’s Rogue’s Redeemed series. This is a spin-off of her Lost Lords. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. The secondary romance in this book was more interesting the primary one. The tiny kingdom of San Gabriel, between Portugal and Spain, fictitious though it is, does sound like a place I’d like to visit.

After that, I read the first three books in Stephanie Rowe’s Order of the Blade series. In this series, the Order is a group of elite, immortal warriors of the Caledon people (I’m still not entirely clear on what a Caledon is) formed to combat rogue Caledons. See, Caledons are fated to go rogue when they meet their fated mates, so the Order kills either them or, if it’s a member of the Order, their mate. Not sure if I’ll continue with this series.

Lisa Kleypas’s Marrying Winterbourne, book two of the Ravenels, was fun. I’ll go back and read the first one Cold-Hearted Rake, sometime before the third book, Devil in Spring comes out in February.

I tried to read Against the Wind by Kat Martin, but only got a couple of chapters in before I tossed it. Boring. Same with Cathy Maxwell’s The Fairest of Them All. That one was just plain stupid.

Next up, Rock Wedding. This is not my favorite of Nalini Singh’s series, but they don’t completely such. However, this one left something to be desired. It just didn’t have the charisma, that’s the best word I can think of to describe it, of Singh’s other novels.

Things improved with Eloisa James’s My American Duchess. I’m hoping for a sequel about Cedric. I also had fun with the first two books of Isabella Bradford’s Breconridge Brothers trilogy, A Wicked Pursuit and A Sinful Deception.

When I find the time, I’ll start Amulya Malladi’s new book, A House for Happy Mothers which will, probably, be followed by Amy E. Reichert’s Luck, Love & Lemon Pie.

How about y’all. Anything good?

May Reads 2016

TangleofNeed_NaliniSinghThis month has, mostly, been occupied by my Psy-Changeling reread and am more than ready for Allegiance of Honor. Even after this third time reading Tangle of Need, I still think Adria got gypped. That one continues to irritate me.

Between visits with the leopards, the wolves, and the Psy (oh my!), I read a few other things.  I really enjoyed the latest in Lorraine Heath’s Hellions of Havisham series, The Earl Takes All.  Although, I do think Julia was way less pissed than she should have been.  She forgave Edward too easily.  Earl-Takes_HeathOnly Beloved, the last book in Mary Balogh’s Survivors Club, was another good one, and I also enjoyed her novella, Another Dream, in Once Upon a Dream.  Wulfric Bedwyn continues to be one of my favorite fictional gentlemen.  Less enjoyable was Eva Leigh’s The Temptations of a Wallflower, the third installment in her Wicked Quills of London series. I almost choked on some of the purple prose spouted by The Lady of Dubious Quality.Beloved_Balogh

Next was Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld. It didn’t take two chapters before things started going down hill. Sittenfeld’s Lizzie Bennett is, obviously an idiot, a condition to which I vehemently object in that character. I managed to stick it out until chapter 38 when Jasper’s last name was revealed. It kind of dashed my last hopes for Liz’s intelligence. However, on the bright side, Sittenfeld’s Mr. Bennett made me laugh every bit as much as his Austenian counterpart, but, alas, this was not enough to induce me to continue.

I picked up the much anticipated by me Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman and the very interesting sounding Daughter of Albion by Ilka Tampke, but I haven’t found the time to dive into them, yet.  That’s for June.

What have y’all been reading and loving lately?

April Reads 2016

Debutante-Ruin_JordanAfter finishing Because of Miss Bridgerton last month, I entered a Regency groove. Lord knows I have enough of them on my TBR pile/USB.  First, I did a quick re-read of Quinn’s The Viscount Who Loved Me for no other reason than Pal Mal and the Mallet of Death. Then, with breaks for The Beast and The Obsession, I devoured the following series: Sophie Jordan’s Debutante Files, Lorraine Heath’s Hellions of Havisham and her Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James, Eva Leigh’s Wicked Quills of London.  Earl_LeighThey were all great fun.

Then I started on Sabrina Jeffries’ Sinful Suitors series.  The first book and the follow-up novella were pretty good, but I did not finish the second book, The Study of Seduction. Ethan and Clarissa were discussing their fake “secret” engagement after she was accosted by that French guy, and I just could not make myself read any further. Such convoluted idiocy. And, with that, my historical romance spree was broken.

Beast_WardThe Beast was surprisingly good. Assail didn’t bore me, for once. For the last several books, I’ve done a lot of skimming over his scenes. Especially Lover At Last. He got way too much page time in that book, and Quinn and Blay not nearly enough. But Assail’s scenes in this one. OMG! For one shining moment, I had hope that the whole Assail/Sola thing was dead and we could move on to something more interesting.  But, then, came the Cincinnati signing and all my hopes on that score were dashed. Unless the Warden plans on writing a menage HEA. I would be okay with that if it fit the story, but I know many would not. And, with what she revealed about Lassiter at the signing, the next book, The Chosen immediately went on my most anticipated list for 2017.

The Obsession was okay, but not awesome. The identity of the copy-cat killer was rather obvious. I’d pegged him for what he was shortly after he made his appearance earlier in the book.  When he made that lame attempt at blackmail.

Pompeii_Quinn-KaneAfter the romance, I was still in the mood for something historical, so I dug around/scrolled and found A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii by Stephanie Dray, Ben Kane, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Kate Quinn, and Vicky Alvear Shecter. It provided a nice visit with Quinn’s Diana Cornelia and Senator Norbanus. I also really enjoyed Shecter’s contribution, “The Son,” from the point-of-view of Pliny the Younger and Knight’s “The Mother” almost made me cry it was so sad.

The end of the month saw the beginning of my Psy-Changeling re-read.  And I started the new Eva Leigh, Temptations of a Wallflower, and Lorraine Heath, The Earl Takes All.

March Reads 2016

Written_BishopMarch was an excellent reading month, for me. I devoured two new-to-me series, one with extra relish. I loved Anne Bishop’s series The Others. There were a few people I was hoping would meet Tess, but, no such luck. Their deaths were appropriate, mostly, for their crimes, but I was saddened they didn’t get the Asia Crane experience. Vindictive? Oh, yeah.

Magical_BlakeI also blew through Deborah Blake’s Baba Yaga novels. Although, frankly, I didn’t like them as much as I thought I would. I loved the first novella, Wickedly Magical. It was laugh out loud funny, at times. The rest of the series, not so much.

OtherworldMen_ArmstrongI dipped my toes, so to speak, into Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series. After reading a few of the novellas, I’m still not sure what I think. I’ll probably read the first full length novel, Bitten, before giving a final verdict. Right now, I’m on the shelf. (I couldn’t resist!)

FireTouched_BriggsAnd, speaking of Baba Yagas, there’s a strange and creepy one in Patricia Briggs’ Mercedes Thompson books, the latest of which Fire Touched, was awesome. Mercy ends up going into Underhill where she battles, among others, The Widow Queen who inspired the villainess in such tales as Snow White and Cinderella. But we start things off with a visit from an Avon lady type saleswoman and an epic battle with a huge green troll. While I prefer Charles and Anna, Mercy and Adam are a trip.

Phoenix_TylerAlso in the paranormal fiction category was the much anticipated (by me, anyway) Phoenix Reborn by J. D. Tyler, the latest of her Alpha Pack series. But I’m still a little pissed that it was a novella instead an actual novel. Nix and, especially, Noah deserved better than that. And the whole resolution of conflict was a bit of a cop out. As you can probably tell, I was more than a little disappointed in this one.

Guide_MacomberAnother disappointing read was A Girl’s Guide to Moving On by Debbie Macomber. In fact, I think I’m about ready to drop Macomber from my reading list. For the last couple of years her books, with the exception of the Blossom Street series, haven’t done anything for me. They haven’t been horrible, just not good.

Bridgerton_QuinnJulia Quinn’s latest, Because of Miss Bridgerton, was as far from a disappointment as you could get. It was hilarious, and wrenching, and heart-warming. All the things you’d expect from a Bridgerton, indeed, a Julia Quinn, novel. The ending, however, grated a bit. It was evil. That last sentence. How long do we have to wait for the next book?

Housewife_EllisAmerican Housewife, a collection of short stories by Helen Ellis was another amusing read. I especially got a kick out of “Wainscotting Wars.” The Tampax one, though, was kind of disturbing. It may take a while before I can walk passed a Tampax display without getting the heebies.

Words_LahiriI also read Jhumpa Lahiri’s new nonfiction work, In Other Words. This is the story of her journey into Italian and was, in fact, originally written in that language. It also reveals her frustration, alienation, and isolation with always being considered a foreigner in her native land, her native language. Even in that of her parents.  Very thought provoking.

1536_LipscombFinally, I read Suzannah Lipscomb’s 1536: The Year That Changed Henry VIII. This was a fascinating exploration of how the events of 1536 affected Henry’s physical and psychological health. Especially interesting was Dr. Lipscomb’s theories concerning the Framing of Anne Boleyn and her portrayal of Mark Smeaton as a stalker. I’m surprised the movie makers haven’t jumped all over that.

What about y’all. Read anything good lately?

LibraryReads March 2016

library_reads_logo_websiteScrolling through the list, at first glance, the one that jumps out at me is, obviously, Julia Quinn’s Because of Miss Bridgerton, which is one of my Most Anticipated Reads for the year.  Passenger_LutzFor no other reason than the word “Bridgerton”.  Here’s hoping I like George Rokesby a lot more than I liked Richard Kenworthy.  I hated Richard and his sister and thought poor Iris got gypped all around.  Anyway…

Appear_BrundageOn more closer inspection, a few others intrigue me: The Passenger by Lisa Lutz, The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, and All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage. Nest_Sweeney The title The Madwoman Upstairs snagged my eye until I read the description and saw the Jane Eyre connection. I loathed Jane Eyre.

You can see the full list here. See anything you like?

January Reads 2016

ReadingRoundup_dsI had three Five-Star Reads this month.  That’s amazing.  Usually, I’m lucky if I read one every two or three months.

I, the Sun by Janet E. Morris – I love Hittite history and Suppliluliuma is one of its most dynamic figures.  It was he who built the Hittite Empire, literally, from the ashes.  He brought the Great Kingdom of Mitanni to its knees and managed to expand his borders into the Levant without overly antagonizing Egypt.  Of course, that might have gone differently if anyone else but Akhenaten was Pharaoh.  The story of his reign also includes the mysterious disappearance of one queen, a shocking request from another, murder, and plague.  In other words, Janet Morris had a lot of raw material to work with in weaving a dramatic “autobiography” of Suppiluliuma.  So much that, if I wasn’t familiar with the history, I’m not sure if I’d have been able to keep everything straight.  Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily by Nancy Goldstone – The murder of Andrew of Hungary, Duke of Calabria, by his adulterous wife, Joanna, Queen of Naples, was one of the great scandals of the Middle Ages.  It was made even more so by her exoneration purchased by the enormous bribe of Avignon.  That, at least, is the version of the tale found in most books.  Goldstone, however, puts a different spin on it.  Or, to be more accurate, wades through centuries of spin to find the truth.  Joanna, it seems, was completely innocent.  And she didn’t sell Avignon to the papacy, she rented it to them at a steep discount.  But it’s still a thrilling, scandalous, story of family intrigue, treason, scheming, and murder.  Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars

Duke of Scandal by Gaelen Foley – This is the first full length novel in Foley’s new Moonlight Square Regency series.  There’s a prequel novella called One Moonlit Night which I didn’t like at all.  It was boring.  But, since I like most of Foley’s books, I decided to give this one a go despite that.  And was surprised that I liked it.  Felicity and Jason were neighbors, growing up, and they have become more if not for the intervention of her overprotective big brother, who, of course, is Jason’s best friend.  Jason then becomes a manwhore and Felicity and prim and proper miss who prefers the shadows to the spotlight.  But, then, they realize they’re grown ups now and can be together.  Or Felicity does, and she’s not shy in going after who she wants.  Jason’s a little slow on the uptake, but men generally are.  This was a fun read.  Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Janet Morgan – I adored this book.  It was hilarious and tragic at the same time.  Equally as likely to make cry with sadness as it is with laughter.  Rating:  5 out of 5 stars

The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean – This first novel of Sarah MacLean’s new Scandal and Scoundrel series, begins with an awesome “You go, girl!” moment involving an ass (in two senses of the word) and a pool.  It was great.  I was very proud of our heroine, Sophie.  But then, she meets the hero and promptly loses several IQ points.  I enjoyed this book while I was reading it, that’s the power of MacLean.  Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Only the Stones Survive by Morgan Llywelyn – Blurbage is often misleading, but, not here. As skillfully as any ancient bard, Llywelyn takes the tales ofLebor Gabála Érenn (The Book of the Taking of Ireland or The Book of Invasions), and weaves them together with wonder and ruin into a stirring, absorbing narrative of the epic struggle between the Children of Milesios and the Children of Light.  Amergin himself couldn’t have done better.  Rating:  5 out of 5 stars

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom – I loved this book, told to us by Music with music.  Be sure to read it with YouTube open so you can listen to the music as you read.  It really does enhance the experience.  Rating:  5 out of 5 stars

Where You Once Belonged by Kent Haruf – Somehow, I missed this one.  I always enjoy my visits to Holt, Colorado, and this was no exception.  The ending, however, is unsatisfying, to say the least.  Rating:  4.25 out of 5 stars

After Rome by Morgan Llywelyn – This was bit of a disappointment after the awesomeness of Only the Stones Survive.  I spent most of it wondering why Cadogan didn’t just sell Quartilla to the Pict.  She was annoying.  And what was with Dinas, Meradoc, and the flying horse prophecy thing?  Cadogan’s story was interesting, and I would have liked to see more of Saba and Pelemos.  Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth – Anna is thirty-eight years old, and she as Alzheimer’s.  Luke is forty-one, and he has frontal-lobe dementia (trouble with finding the correct words and with the physical act of speaking).  Their story is sweet and tragic.  Keep a box of tissues close.  Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars

 

The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean

This first novel of Sarah MacLean’s new Scandal and Scoundrel series, begins with an awesome “You go, girl!” moment involving an ass (in two senses of the word) and a pool.  Rogue-Taken_MacLeanIt was great.  I was very proud of our heroine, Sophie.  But then, she meets the hero…

He calls her “unfun” and she promptly loses about half of her IQ points.  I’m sorry, but I’d be happy to be deemed “unfun” by a person whose idea of fun happens to be careening about in his curricle with such speed that he winds up on two wheels.

Sophie heroine promptly decides to disguises herself as a man and stows away out of London. This is one of my all time romance novel pet peeves.  I hate, absolutely HATE, when they do things like this, Something Stupid. Especially when the disguise if very sloppily done.  One wonders if everyone but King was blind.  And, for all she knew, he could have been going to a brothel or gaming hell. Luckily for her, he doesn’t and, when she gets caught, it’s by him.

Once you get passed all of this, if you can, The Rogue Not Taken becomes a fun read filled with wit and charm. I know it sounds as though I hated it but, I quite enjoyed myself, although I’m not sure that last bit with the “seduction” and marriage, and the reasons for it, were all that necessary an addition to the plot.

I love Sarah MacLean, and The Rogue Not Taken is an entertaining read, but it could have been better.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Most Anticipated Books of 2016, Part 1

Happy New Year, y’all. Here’s to hoping this new year is better than the last.

Now that we’ve said a farewell to 2015, and remembered, with nostalgia and/or exasperation all the books we experienced during it, we can, now, anticipate all the lovely voyages-by-page we’ll take in 2016. Here are a few of mine:

Only the Stones Survive by Morgan Llywelyn
Release Date: January 5, 2016

Ireland is an enchanted place where history and magic meet and meld to create wonderful stories and tales for winter nights before a fire, or in a pub with friends. And no one weaves Irish history into a tale quite like Morgan Llywelyn. Her Lion of Ireland is among my favorite books. As is her Etruscans. Both stories combine magic and mythology, legend and history, to make a spellbinding, wild ride for the imagination. I look forward to seeing what Ms. Llywelyn does with the Faere Folk and their history.

The Blurb:
Stones-Survive_Llywelyn
A novel of the untold history of the Túatha Dé Danann, the ancient gods and goddesses of Irish myth and legend.

For centuries the Túatha Dé Danann lived in peace on an island where time flowed more slowly and the seasons were gentle – until that peace was shattered by the arrival of invaders. The Gaels, the Children of Milesios, came looking for easy riches and conquest, following the story of an island to the west where their every desire could be granted. They had not anticipated that it would already be home to others, and against the advice of their druids, they begin to exterminate the Túatha Dé Danann.

After a happy and innocent childhood, Joss was on the cusp of becoming a man when the Gaels slaughtered the kings and queens of the Túatha Dé Danann. Left without a mother and father, he must find a way to unite what is left of his people and lead them into hiding. But even broken and scattered, Joss and his people are not without strange powers.

Morgan Llywelyn weaves Irish mythology, historical elements, and ancient places in the Irish landscape to create a riveting tale of migration, loss, and transformation.

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Other Broken Things by Christa Desir
Release Date: January 12, 2016

Desir is a new for me author, but the blurb sounds really good.

The Blurb:

Broken_DesirNat’s not an alcoholic. She doesn’t have a problem. Everybody parties, everybody does stupid things, like get in their car when they can barely see. Still, with six months of court-ordered AA meetings required, her days of vodka-filled water bottles are over.

Unfortunately her old friends want the party girl or nothing. Even her up-for-anything ex seems more interested in rehashing the past than actually helping Nat.

But then a recovering alcoholic named Joe inserts himself into Nat’s life and things start looking up. Joe is funny, smart, and calls her out in a way no one ever has.

He’s also older. A lot older.

Nat’s connection to Joe is overwhelming but so are her attempts to fit back into her old world, all while battling the constant urge to crack a bottle and blur that one thing she’s been desperate to forget.

Now in order to make a different kind of life, Natalie must pull together her broken parts and learn to fight for herself.

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We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
Release Date: January 19, 2016

Another new to me author.  The title’s what caught my attention.  It sounds quirky and unusual.  Just the thing that perks up my interest.  I loved The Bees, remember.  Then I read the blurb at Goodreads and promptly clicked “want to read.”

The Blurb:

Ants_HutchinsonHenry Denton doesn’t know why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button.

But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind.

Since the suicide of his boyfriend, Jesse, Henry has been adrift. He’s become estranged from his best friend, started hooking up with his sworn enemy, and his family is oblivious to everything that’s going on around them. As far as Henry is concerned, a world without Jesse is a world he isn’t sure is worth saving. Until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that.

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The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Release Date: January 26, 2015

When I first saw this on Amazon, I let out a loud gasp and did a little happy dance in my chair. I loved, completely and absolutely loved, Secret Daughter. It made it onto my best reads list for 2013. I’ll be eagerly awaiting this one, with plans to read it with a cup of cardamom tea and a box of tissues.

The Blurb:

Golden_Gowda
From the beloved author of Secret Daughter comes a moving new novel of a young man at the crossroads of life
Anil is the cherished son of a large family in rural India. As the eldest boy, he is expected to inherit the role of leader of his clan and arbiter of its disputes, dispensing wisdom and good advice. Leena is his closest companion, a fiercely brave girl who loves nothing more than the wild terrain they inhabit and her close-knit family. As childhood friends, they are inseparable-but as adulthood approaches, they grow apart.

Anil is the first person in his family to leave India, the first to attend college, the first to become a doctor. Half a world away in Dallas, Texas, he is caught up in his new life, experiencing all the freedoms and temptations of American culture: he tastes alcohol for the first time, falls in love, and learns firsthand about his adopted country’s alluring, dangerous contradictions. Though his work in a gritty urban hospital is grueling, Anil is determined to carve out his own life in America.

At home, Leena dreams of marriage, a strong and true love like the one shared by her parents, and leaves her beloved home to join her new husband’s family in a distant village.

Then things start to go wrong: Anil makes a medical mistake with tragic results, his first love begins to fray and a devastating event makes him question his worth as a doctor and as a friend. On a visit home, Anil rekindles a friendship with the woman who seems to understand him better than anyone else. But their relationship is complicated by a fateful decision made years earlier.

As the two old friends discover each other again, they must also weigh the choice between responsibility and freedom, and between loyalty and love.

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That Other Me by Maha Gargash
Release Date: January 26, 2016

I’m always interested in being introduced to new cultures when I read and this is one I’ve never read about.  And the plot sounds fascinating.

The Blurb:

Other_GargashFrom the #1 internationally bestselling author of The Sand Fish, Maha Gargash’s second novel is set in mid-1990s Dubai and Cairo and tells the story of how secrets and betrayals consume three members—an authoritarian father, a rebellious abandoned daughter, and a vulnerable niece—of a prominent Emirati family.

Majed, the head of the eminent Naseemy family, is proud to have risen into the upper echelons of Emirati society. As one of the richest businessmen in Dubai, he’s used to being catered to and respected—never mind that he acquired his wealth by cheating his brother out of his own company and depriving his niece, Mariam, of her rights.

Not one to dwell on the past—he sent Mariam to school in Egypt, what more could she want from him?—Majed spends his days berating his wife and staff and cavorting with friends at a private apartment. But he’s suddenly plagued by nightmares that continue to haunt him during the day, and he feels his control further slipping away with the discovery that his niece and his daughter are defying his orders.

Mariam despises Majed, and although she blames him for her father’s death, hers is a strictly-organized, dutiful existence. But when she falls for a brash, mischievous fellow student named Adel, he might just prove to be her downfall.

Largely abandoned by Majed as the daughter of a second, secret marriage, the vivacious Dalal has a lot to prove. The runner-up on “Nights of Dubai,” an American Idol-type reality show for Arab talent, Dalal is committed to being a singer despite the fact that it’s a disreputable career. When her efforts to become a celebrity finally begin to pay off, she attracts the attention of her father, who is determined to subdue Dalal to protect the family name. As Majed increasingly exerts his control over both Dalal and Mariam, both girls resist, with explosive consequences.

An exhilarating look at the little-known Khaleeji (Gulf-Arab) culture, That Other Me explores the ways social mores contribute to the collapse of one family.

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Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
Release Date: March 29, 2016

The Bridgertons are back! That’s all I need to know to put this book, solidly, in the “must have” column.

The Blurb:

Bridgerton_QuinnSometimes you find love in the most unexpected of places…

This is not one of those times.

Everyone expects Billie Bridgerton to marry one of the Rokesby brothers. The two families have been neighbors for centuries, and as a child the tomboyish Billie ran wild with Edward and Andrew. Either one would make a perfect husband… someday.

Sometimes you fall in love with exactly the person you think you should…

Or not.

There is only one Rokesby Billie absolutely cannot tolerate, and that is George. He may be the eldest heir to the earldom, but he’s arrogant, annoying, and she’s absolutely certain he detests her. Which is perfectly convenient, as she can’t stand the sight of him, either.

But sometimes fate has a wicked sense of humor…

Because when Billie and George are quite literally thrown together, a whole new sort of sparks begins to fly. And when these lifelong adversaries finally kiss, they just might discover that the one person they can’t abide is the one person they can’t live without…

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A House for Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi
Release Date: May 3, 2016

I’ve read and loved all five of her books. A Breath of Fresh Air is an especial favorite. It makes me cry every time I read it. So I was thrilled when Amulya Malladi announced the publication of this sixth novel on her blog.

The Blurb:

Mothers_MalladiA stunning new novel—full of wit and warmth—from the bestselling author of The Mango Season.

In trendy Silicon Valley, Priya has everything she needs—a loving husband, a career, and a home—but the one thing she wants most is the child she’s unable to have. In a Southern Indian village, Asha doesn’t have much—raising two children in a tiny hut, she and her husband can barely keep a tin roof over their heads—but she wants a better education for her gifted son. Pressured by her family, Asha reluctantly checks into the Happy Mothers House: a baby farm where she can rent her only asset—her womb—to a childless couple overseas. To the dismay of friends and family, Priya places her faith in a woman she’s never met to make her dreams of motherhood come true.

Together, the two women discover the best and the worst that India’s rising surrogacy industry has to offer, bridging continents and cultures to bring a new life into the world—and renewed hope to each other.

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Britt Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman
Release Date: May 10, 2016

A sequel to My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, which I adored.  Sign me up.

The Blurb:

Britt-Marie_BlackmanFrom the bestselling author of the “charming debut” (People) A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, a heartwarming and hilarious story of a reluctant outsider who transforms a tiny village and a woman who finds love and second chances in the unlikeliest of places.

Britt-Marie can’t stand mess. She eats dinner at precisely the right time and starts her day at six in the morning because only lunatics wake up later than that. And she is not passive-aggressive. Not in the least. It’s just that sometimes people interpret her helpful suggestions as criticisms, which is certainly not her intention.

But at sixty-three, Britt-Marie has had enough. She finally walks out on her loveless forty-year marriage and finds a job in the only place she can: Borg, a small, derelict town devastated by the financial crisis. For the fastidious Britt-Marie, this new world of noisy children, muddy floors, and a roommate who is a rat (literally), is a hard adjustment.

As for the citizens of Borg, with everything that they know crumbling around them, the only thing that they have left to hold onto is something Britt-Marie absolutely loathes: their love of soccer. When the village’s youth team becomes desperate for a coach, they set their sights on her. She’s the least likely candidate, but their need is obvious and there is no one else to do it.

Thus begins a beautiful and unlikely partnership. In her new role as reluctant mentor to these lost young boys and girls, Britt-Marie soon finds herself becoming increasingly vital to the community. And even more surprisingly, she is the object of romantic desire for a friendly and handsome local policeman named Sven. In this world of oddballs and misfits, can Britt-Marie finally find a place where she belongs?

Zany and full-of-heart, Britt-Marie Was Here is a novel about love and second chances, and about the unexpected friendships we make that teach us who we really are and the things we are capable of doing.

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The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
Release Date: May 24, 2015

Finally, the third and final book in Cronin’s The Passage Trilogy.  Testimony to just how awesome The Passage was, because I continue to anticipate The City of Mirrors even though The Twelve sucked.

The Blurb:

Mirrors_CroninIn life I was a scientist called Fanning.

Then, in a jungle in Bolivia, I died.

I died, and then I was brought back to life…

Prompted by a voice that lives in her blood, the fearsome warrior known as Alicia of Blades is drawn towards to one of the great cities of The Time Before. The ruined city of New York. Ruined but not empty. For this is the final refuge of Zero, the first and last of The Twelve. The one who must be destroyed if mankind is to have a future.

What she finds is not what she’s expecting.

A journey into the past.

To find out how it all began.

And an opponent at once deadlier and more human than she could ever have imagined.

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Allegiance of Honor by Nalini Singh
Release Date: June 14, 2015

All I really needed to be seized with an avid desire to read this was the word “pupcubs”, which Ms. Singh uttered in relation to this book during the Google Hangout she had back in October of last year. Sold! Everything, and everyone, else is icing.

The Blurb:

Allegiance_SinghThe “unparalleled romantic adventure”* of Nalini Singh’s New York Times bestselling series continues as a new dawn begins for the Psy-Changeling world…

The Psy-Changeling world has undergone a staggering transformation and now stands at a crossroads. The Trinity Accord promises a new era of cooperation between disparate races and groups. It is a beacon of hope held together by many hands: Old enemies. New allies. Wary loners.

But a century of distrust and suspicion can’t be so easily forgotten and threatens to shatter Trinity from within at any moment. As rival members vie for dominance, chaos and evil gather in the shadows and a kidnapped woman’s cry for help washes up in San Francisco, while the Consortium turns its murderous gaze toward a child who is the embodiment of change, of love, of piercing hope: A child who is both Psy…and changeling.

To find the lost, protect the vulnerable—and save Trinity—no one can stand alone. This is a time of loyalty across divisions, of bonds woven into the heart and the soul, of heroes known and unknown standing back to back and holding the line. But is an allegiance of honor even possible with traitors lurking in their midst?

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The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory

By all accounts, Katherine Parr was an intelligent, learned and sensible woman.  But Philippa Gregory has developed a singular talent for making smart women sound like idiots.  You all know what I thought of her Margaret Beaufort (The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory).  It really irritates me when she puts words like these into her Kateryn’s mouth:
Taming_Gregory

“Nan, this is madness. They may disagree with me but they wouldn’t try to drag me down in the eyes of the king. They won’t falsely accuse me of God-knows-what because we don’t agree about the serving of the Mass. We differ; but they are not my enemies. Stephen Gardiner is an ordained bishop, called by God, a holy man. He is not going to seek my destruction because I differ from him on a point of theology.”

Could she sound like any more of an imbecile? Oh, yes she can.   Every Court plot and machination has to explained to her in cold, simple, logical (for Henry) terms.  She keeps passionately insisting that the king loves her, that he trusts her and would never get rid of her and take another wife.  Her sister warns her, Thomas Seymour warns her, hell, even the departing Spanish ambassador (the indomitable Chapuys) warns her, but it’s always “But he loves me.”  Until, that is, she’s on her knees, thoroughly degraded and humiliated, before her personal Bluebeard.

Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

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