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.

LibraryReads September List

library_reads_logo_websiteForman_LeaveMeLibraryReads has released their September list, and the favorite, Leave Me by Gayle Forman, looks pretty good. It’s main character, Maribeth Klein, is a magazine editor, wife, and mother of preschool-aged twins. Her life is so busy, so demanding, that when she has a heart attack and doesn’t realize it. Told to rest, she tries but this seems to be an imposition on the lives on others, she packs up and leaves. Of course, with distance, her life looks very different.

Colgan_BookshopPatchett_CommonwealthThe Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan and Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth also perked my interest. In the first a city librarian loses her job, moves to Middle-of-Nowhere, Scotland, and buys a van which she turns into a bookmobile, and the second features two families closely intertwined by adultery, betrayal, and abandonment.  A married father of four and a married mother of two leave their families to be with each other.  Commonweath explores the aftermath.

Bolton_Daisy I find I’m wavering back and forth about Sharon Bolton’s Daisy in Chains about a man convicted for being a serial killer, and, continuing to protest his innocence, hires a hotshot lawyer famous for getting convictions overturned. When I check, it actually sounds more intriguing on Goodreads than at LibraryReads.

Also on the list is the second book in Genevieve Cogman’s Invisible Library series, The Masked City. I haven’t gotten around to reading the first one, yet, but they sound interesting.

What about you? Anything on this list going on your TBR pile?

June Reads 2016

Allegiance_SinghJune was a slow reading month for me. I started off with what I think of as waiting room reads The Forgotten Child and A Baby and a Wedding by Lorhainne Eckhart. I picked them because they were free on Amazon, and, frankly, they weren’t particularly memorable. Sitting here, typing this, I can’t really remember what they were about except that it involved an autistic child, a doormat, and what I’ve seen another blogger aptly refer to as an Alpha-hole.  I’m just left with the overall impression that they sucked.

After that, I dived heart first into Allegiance of Honor and loved every moment of it. It was awesome! I could wish we’d Sighs_Robertsspent more time with the wolves, though, because for a book with an ensemble cast, it was definitely cat-centric.  Read my full review:  Allegiance of Honor by Nalini Singh.

Then there was a quick re-read of Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts before I picked up her latest, Bay of Sighs. It was fine. This isn’t shaping up to be my favorite of her trilogies, but it was interesting. Mostly, I think, due to the mermaid. That’s new. The rest of the cast, not to mention the overall plot, is kinda deja vu.

Albion_TampkeFinally, I read Ilka Tampke’s debut novel, Skin, which for some unknown reason was re-titled Daughter of Albion here in the States. Skin, in my opinion, is much more apt. I enjoyed this one immensely and am eagerly awaiting the sequel. Historically speaking, we know what happens, but how do the characters cope with it?  Here’s my full review:  Daughter of Albion by Ilka Tampke.

After I finished it, my reader’s palette was still feeling a little atavistic so, instead of picking up Britt-Marie Was Here like I’d intended, I reached for The Tiger and the Wolf by new-to-me author Adrian Tchaikovsky. So far, it’s good.

What have you been reading?

Daughter of Albion by Ilka Tampke

To the rest of the world, this book bears the title Skin, and it is much more apropos.

Born to the skinless, or lost to their families before naming, the unskinned were not claimed by a totem.  Their souls were fragmented, unbound to the Singing…The passage from womb to world was only half a birth–the body’s birth.  Our souls were born when we were plunged, as babes, into river water, screaming at the cold shock of it, given our name and called to skin…Skin was our greeting, our mother, our ancestors, our land.  Nothing existed outside its reach.

Beyond skin there was only darkness.  Only chaos.

Because I was without skin I could not be plunged or named.  I was half-born, born in body but not in soul.  Born to the world but not to the tribe.  I could never marry lest skin taboos were unknowingly betrayed.  Deer did not marry well to owl.  Owl to oak.  At Ceremony I had to be silent, and keep to the edges.  For where would I stand?  What would I chant?

I lived with these losses, but the one that hollowed my chest was that I was not permitted to learn.  All learning began and ended with the songs of skin.

Left at the kitchen doorstep the Tribequeen’s dwelling as a babe newborn, cord still attached, Ailia was raised by the Cookmother. Being an orphan without known blood kin, she was skinless, outside the tribe.  Without skin she was forbidden to marry and permitted no knowledge.  Even something so basic as learning to swim was denied her.  And yet, the seeds of Knowledge were within her, fostered by the Mothers and they would not be denied.

In the first century A. D., Cunobelinos, King of the Catuvellauni, began to carve out the beginnings of an empire for himself in southeastern Britannia.  Conquering, first the Trinovantes, a tribe allied to Rome.  But the king chose his timing well, for the Romans were otherwise occupied following their shocking defeat at Teutoburg Forest.  He with his sons and his brother, would continue to expand their influence to Cantii and the Artrebates before his death in about A. D. 40.  One of his sons, Caratacos, completed the conquest of the Artrebates, and their king, Verica, fled to Rome, providing the Romans under Claudius just the excuse for which it had been waiting to invade Britannia for the second time.  The Romans are no respecters of skin.

Ailia finds herself torn between the two worlds.   When her skin is finally revealed, you kind of want to smack yourself because it was rather obvious with clues galore scattered throughout the book.

Skin/Daughter of Albion is a wonderful story about a young woman’s need to belong.  Her struggle for knowledge, for love, and for family.  Ilka Tampke’s world is richly imagined, drawn from our small knowledge of Druidic doctrine and the traditions of the Aborigines which, somehow, fit together seamlessly.  When the sequel comes out, I’ll definitely be reading it.

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Allegiance of Honor by Nalini Singh

There may be a few minor spoilers, be warned.

Allegiance_SinghThe pacing was quite different from the other books in the series, so it took me a chapter or two to get into the rhythm, but after that, Allegiance of Honor was a treat for heart for all of us devoted to the characters of this series.  Ms. Singh describes this book as an ensemble cast, and it is, but there’s also a focus, though a soft one, on Lucas and Sascha.  On Naya.

But, as promised, there were scenes with just about everybody.  We got to meet the pupcubs and see Xavier reunited with his Nina.  Annie and Kaleb, finally, meet.  We see more of BlackSea, and of Faith’s brother.  I smell a romance there.  I’m also getting that vibe from certain members of BlackSea and the Alliance.  We’ll see. And, of course, there’s Anthony and Nikita.  Just what is going on there will be used to torture us for many books to come, I think.  The fun kind.

And, then there’s the Architect.  Who, by the way, I still think is Shoshana.  She’s been way too quiet for way too long not to be up to her neck in the Consortium.  And, as always, her overweening ambition is going come back and bite her in the ass.  The Architect has a rather long and bloody list of assassinations in their long range plans for world domination and, leaving aside the Changelings on that list, on the Psy will put her on the bad side of a particular powerful Clan and its extremely ruthless and cunning matriarch.  In the end, that final epic showdown, I think it might end up, at the heart, being Shoshona against Nikita.  There will be other players, of course, but they’ll be the epicenter.  Also, whether of not Shoshona is or is not the Architect, I have a feeling the Alliance chips are going to play into her Queen Bee delusion.  And isn’t it interesting that the Architect has so much respect for, and was so observant of, Zee Zen?  Truthfully, that part was just enough to poke a small hole in my Shoshona = Architect conviction.

I love this series and can’t wait for Wild Embrace in August.

Rating:  4.75 out of 5 stars

LibraryReads July 2016

library_reads_logo_websiteRosen_DressThe LibraryReads July list is out.  I’ve had my eye on Nine Women, One Dress for a while.  It sounds like the perfect girl-read for a summer’s day kicked back in the front porch swing sipping iced tea.  Or on the beach with a margarita.  Whatever floats your boat.

The new Liane Moriarty, Truly Madly Guilty, may also be worth a look.  Their review makes it sound way more interesting than the official blurb does, I’ve gotta say.  This one’s a we’ll see.Oliva_Last-One

Another book to capture my interest was The Last One by Alexandra Oliva.  This one surprised me.  To be honest, I’ve never liked Survivor or any of its spawn.  It’s always struck me as ridiculous.  And, as a plot device in fiction, it really hasn’t done anything for me.  Kresley Cole’s No Rest for the Wicked comes to mind.  That book annoyed the hell out of me.  Enough, that my reading of the Immortals After Dark series stalled for a long time.  And it had vampires, Valkyries, and other paranormals to liven it up.  But The Last One actually sounds really good.  Of course, I have a weakness for post-apocalyptic fiction.  Sigh.

What about y’all?  Anything catch your eye?

Column of Fire, a third Kingsbridge novel, coming fall 2017

It’s time for fans of Ken Follett and his awesome Pillars of the Earth to do a happy dance.  We’ll be back in Kingsbridge next fall.  The new book is “provisionally titled ‘A Column of Fire’.”  Hints dropped so far include:  Elizabethan Era, Francis Walsingham’s spy network, and a portion of the book being set in Seville, Spain.

I adored Pillars of the Earth and World Without End.  You can bet this one will be on my most anticipated reads list come January.

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?

Written in Blood by Anne Bishop

I really liked this book.  The world Ms. Bishop has created is a fascinating one.  Leaving aside, of course, the YA-ish place names.  I found Tess and the Elementals especially interesting.  Tess is not someone, or something, I would ever want to meet.  The sensation I imagined with the phrase “raining inside her head” was really unsettling.  Freaky.  Creepy.

Written_BishopMy only real problems with this book revolve around the monumentally idiotic character of Asia Crane.  The sheer stupidity of this woman really irritated me.  Sure, she’s clever, but, when it comes to dealing with the Others, she was consistently stupid.

But she had never heard of Others named Ponygard, which meant the stupid ponies were just animals. They would be a distraction, a way to stir things up, nothing but collateral damage in the overall scheme.

The utter and complete idiocy of that left me gaping at the screen. Horses are prey. Would there be any horses working, calmly, among Wolves if they weren’t some sort of Other? And, later, after the exile scene with Simon, she’s more afraid of her “backer” and “the benefactor” than she is of the Others.

Another bit of stupidity that bothered me was Meg’s reaction to Asia. She kept getting tingles around Asia, but it never occurred to her that those tingles might be warnings.  Hell, everyone seemed to be getting tingles and “feelings” about Asia Crane and everyone shrugged them off.  When Meg, finally, put it together enough to have the Sugar Prophecy, I nearly shouted “Hallelujah!”  And did mumble “About, freakin’ time!”

Wonder if “the benefactor” realizes he’s a walking dead man with a life just waiting to be harvested?

I enjoyed this book very much and will definitely be reading Murder of Crows very soon.

Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars

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