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



January and February Reads, 2011

ReadingRoundup_dsLong time, no post.  Sorry about that.  I’ve done a little bit of reading, here and there, as well as a little scrapping, but nothing’s near completion.  I really haven’t had that much time for it, or the inclination either, to be honest.  My mojo seems to have deserted me.  Right now, I’ve got a couple of kits on the back burner, and I’m reading Dawn of Empire by Sam Barone whenever I can steal my sister’s Nook (the library’s still having problems).  So far, so good, but I’m only on the fifth chapter.  I’m getting a Kindle for my birthday, so, maybe that will help.  Anyway, here are my reads for January and February.  Here’s hoping March will be better on both fronts.


  • Justinian’s Flea: Plague, Empire, and the Birth of Europe by William Rosen – This was supposed to be a book about how the epidemic(s) known as the Plague of Justinian promoted, or sped up, the transformation of Roman Europe to medieval Europe.  What it actually was was an ode to the accomplishments of Justinian’s reign (i.e. the rebuilding of the Haiga Sophia, the victories of Belisarius, the promulgation of the Justinianic Code, etc.).  Only the last quarter or so of the book was about the plague, and a good deal of that had to do with how a harmless bacterium called Yersinia psuedotuberculosis became the horrifying Yersinia pestis, and how the disease worked.  I read this book expecting to find history, not chemistry.  There were just a few paragraphs about the toll it took on agricultural production and the innovations spurred by the dirth of labor.  Lots of stuff here about rats and fleas, and very little about people and its effect on them.  There were a few interesting moments, but, for the most, part, I kept wondering what the point of the first two-thirds of the book was.  Sure, he had to set up the scene, but not in that much detail.  Rating:  2.5
  • Archangel’s Kiss by Nalini Singh – Elena is starting to annoy me with her “I can do it myself” attitude.  She is a newborn immortal, as it were, surrounded by other immortals thousands and thousands of years older than herself, and yet, she regularly gets pissed when someone tries to help her.  Being a tough-as-nails human Guild Hunter among human Guild Hunters is quite a different situation than being a weak angel just awakened from a year-long comma among angels and archangels unimaginably more powerful is quite another.  Maybe ambrosia deducts IQ points while it grows wings.  Despite her, I really enjoyed this book.  I know that Dmitri will be the first of the Seven to get his own book, but I really want to read about Illium.  Rating:  3.5
  • Crave by J. R. Ward – Okay, the ending was definitely a shocker.  Not the epilogue, because, well, duh, but the end of this “round” against Devina.  I thought they were right about the “who”, so I wasn’t expecting it.  The rest of the book was okay.  Pretty much your generic Black Ops/paranormal romance, but the game continues to intrigue me.  Rating:  3.25
  • The Wolves of Andover by Kathleen Kent –  I just make myself interested in this book.  Martha just flat out annoyed me.  She didn’t strike me as being that thick in The Heretic’s Daughter.  A bit abrasive, yes, stupid with it, no.  The royal plot was a little interesting, but even that didn’t make me stay with this book.  Rating:  DNF
  • Archangel’s Consort by Nalini Singh – I commandeered my sister’s Nook to read this on, and liked it more than I did Archangel’s Kiss.  Partly, this is because Elena seems to regained those IQ points she lost.  I find myself fascinated by the world of the angels.  Its complexities and it’s subtleties.  Is she still crazy?  And which angel will go off the deep end next?  This series definitely has me hooked.  And I still want to read about Illium!  Rating:  3.75


  • The Horse, the Wheel, and Language:  How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World by David W. Anthony – Mr. Anthony makes some persuasive arguments in this book.  I, personally, agree with the Indo-Hittite hypothesis, although I think of the Anatolian languages as a sister instead of a cousin to Indo-European.  However, I’m a bit confused about his Semetic-speaking Old Europe.  I thought that the pre-Indo-European languages of the Aegean, including western Anatolia and Greece, were related to Etruscan.  I know that Lemnian, a language spoken on one of the Greek islands, certainly was, and it is thought that Minoan Cretan was as well.  Also, Hattian, the language of what would eventually become the Hittite “homeland” in Anatolia, was related to one of the Caucasian families, either Northeast Caucasian or Northwest Caucasian.  I can never remember which.  This book was certainly informative and educational, but I would not call it entertaining.  In fact, it was a bit dry, and I found myself getting bored quite easily.  Especially the page upon page devoted to bit-wear patterns on teeth.  Zzzzzzzzzzz.  Rating:  3

Also in February, I’ve been reading, and very much enjoying, Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series.