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?

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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

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

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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Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh

Well, Archangel’s Enigma isn’t best book in this series but it certainly left me slavering for more.  There are spoilers here, be warned.

First, the THING keeping Andromeda and Naasir apart was a big disappointment.  There was no real conflict that I could see.  I liked her, and I’m still in love with Naasir, but that part was way overblown.  The resolution was a bit of an anti-climax.

Archangel's EnigmaBut with everything going on, though, with crazy bitch wannabe goddess Lijuan, Alexander’s Awakening, and whether Michaela is or isn’t, what really stole the show in Archangel’s Enigma was Illium…

and…

Aodhan?!  Chapter 26:

The twenty-three months Aodhan had been missing had been the most horrific period of Illium’s life . . . worse than when he’d lost his mortal lover. He’d survived losing her. He didn’t know if he’d survive losing Aodhan.

Never before had he seen the truth so clearly and it shook him.

I went motionless, my eyes widened and my mouth probably gaped a bit.  Then I gasped and squeaked out an “Oh My God!”.  I really want this.  Before this passage and the Rise later on, it wasn’t even on my radar, but now…

Please.  Pretty please.  This would be so cool.  And if it fulfills the last part of the prophecy, that would be icing.

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

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NPR’s 100 Swoon-Worthy Romances

Back in June NPR asked us to tell them our favorite romance novels.  Last week, they posted the results:  Happy Ever After: 100 Swoon-Worthy Romances.  Oh, how many of these have I read?  This list is a trip down memory lane shrouded in a fog of nostalgia. I passionately adored some, and just as passionately loathed others.

Duke_JQWhen I read The Duke and I, the first of Julia Quinn’s hilariously entertaining Bridgerton series, I wanted Violet Bridgerton to adopt me.  The Bridgerton siblings had me in stitches and I adored Lady Whistledown.  I can’t tell you how happy I was when Ms. Quinn announced they were coming back in her next novel, Because of Miss Bridgerton.  You simply must read the first four books in the series if you haven’t already.

Judge_MacLeanNalini Singh’s Psy-Changling series made the list, as did Sarah MacLean’s Rules of Scoundrels, Outlander, Mary Balogh’s Bedwyns, and so many others.

Classics such as Pride and Prejudice and The Far Pavilions also made it.  And should be classics like Jude Deveraux’s A Knight in Shining Armor and Julie Garwood’s The Bride.  On the flip side, you guys know how much I hate Jane Eyre.

Dove_WoodiwissWhat about what wasn’t on the list (Heartbreakers: Why Some Books Didn’t Make The Final Romance List)?  Why was there nothing by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss on the list?  Sure, the classic The Flame and the Flower features an abusive asshole as hero and a too-stupidly-helpless-nitwit as heroine, but Shana does not.  Or Petals on the RiverThe Wolf and the DoveKadin_SmallCome on people.  Or Bertrice Small’s The Kadin?  I can’t stand Rosemary Rogers, so I’m happy her Sweet Savage Love wasn’t on the list.  Double standard, I know, but… 🙂

And what about Anya Seton’s Katherine?

I did add one series to my ever growing, already gargantuan TBR pile:  The Interitance Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin.  Never heard of these, but they sounded really good.

Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh

Warning:  There are spoilers galore in this post.  Read at your own peril if you’ve yet to read/finish the book.

Shards_SinghFinally, we get Aden’s story, and, boy is it a doozy.  There is a shadowy group consisting of Psy, changelings, and humans who are stealthily trying to destabilize the Post-Silence world in a bid for complete political and economic control of that world.  Showing that they have half-a-brain, they’ve realized that taking out Aden is the best way, other than the impossible assassination of Kaleb Krychek, to accomplish their goal.  I have my suspicions about the anonymous “architect” of this alliance.  Let’s just say we now know what Shoshanna Scott’s been up to in her silence (no pun intended!).  The thing with Nikita and contract was a blind, I think.

And, oh my God, Aden’s hidden ability is awesome.  I’d have loved to be able to see through any and all shields in order to have seen into the minds of his parents, and of Ming LeBon, in that moment.  Under their icy Silence, I bet they were as slack jawed as me.  Kaleb’s reaction made me laugh.  And the Beacon’s response brought a smirk to my face.

About Zaira, am I the only one who immediately thought “changeling” when reading about her “rage”?  The way it reacts to Aden says “mate” to me, and its antipathy to isolation and confinement of any kind made me think it was touch hungry, even touch starved.  Visions of Dorian and his frustrated aggression due to the latent nature of his cat danced in my head.  Initially, I thought a cat, maybe tiger, but her interaction with Miane made me wonder…

Her father did say she had changeling blood, enough to enhance her sense of smell, at least.  but someone in RainFire would have scented the changeling, wouldn’t they?  And the empaths would sense the animal, right? But still.

We get to see a little more into the elusive BlackSea changelings in this book, and I’m even more intrigued than before.  I think I see where Miane’s story will go, and if I’m right, it’ll be a lot of fun.  Possibly bloody, but fun.  The RainFire leopards also play a big part in the story, and we get just a peek into the BlackEdge wolf pack of Moscow.  Personally, I want to see into their neighbors, the StoneWater bears.

Oh, and Anthony and Nikita get even more interesting.

Shards of Hope is a wild read that has left me wanting more.  Can’t wait for the next book, or the promised anthology, whichever comes first.

Rating:  5 out of 5 stars

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Archangel’s Shadows by Nalini Singh

I know this book is about Janvier and Ashwini (I won’t talk about that so as not to spoil it for everyone else), and it was awesome, but my favorite scene was in the rooftop aerie at the Tower with Illium lying around while Aodhan and Dmitri play chess. Then Naasir shows up. I grinned the entire scene. And laughed out loud when Aodhan made his move.  It was a wonderful glimpse into the complex relationships between Raphael’s Seven.

I am now officially in love with Naasir.  I want to take him home and pet him and play with him.  And now I sound like the abominable snowman with Bugs.  🙂

Archangel-Shadows_SinghWhat is Naasir, though?  I’m dying to know.  Especially after what Ashwini sees when they’re on that balcony during the party.  She gets just a flash of something, but dismisses it.  I find myself more intrigued than I was already.  He sort of reminds me of a changeling with his need for touch and love for play.  Wrong universe, I know, but still.  Some sort of shifter, maybe?  Or maybe some odd after effect of Making?  Akin to Venom and the serpentine qualities he got from Neha.  But that’s not quite right.  And I find myself wondering if the hunter born originated this way, with their sensitive noses.  Remember, vampire’s can still have children during the first couple of centuries after being Made.  And, if it’s the shifter thing, then that doesn’t apply.  Something to think about.

Lijuan needs to die, already.  For real, this time.  I don’t think she will until Raphael’s ready to accept the power the Legion is trying to pass to him.  Am I the only one who finds the Legion creepy?  Seven hundred seventy seven unbelievably ancient men who look exactly alike and seem to have a hive mind thing going on.  Definitely creepy.  It’s getting better now that some individuality his beginning to show through the sameness, though.

I agree with Raphael.  I would be most happy if Charisemnon were to disappear into a bottomless pit.  And what is Michaela up to?  You know what happened with Uram was deliberate.  I’m not talking about her subtle, insidious instigation, but the effects of it on her.  That little bit of his toxic blood that is now part of her.  She looked a tragic victim, but that, all of it, I think, was part of some complex Machiavellian plot.  Michaela wanted the power of bloodlust without risking going into bloodlust herself, thus avoiding execution.  What’s her endgame?

Can’t wait for the next book in the series!

Rating:  4.75 out of 5 stars

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Brain Candy Weekend

Candy isn’t good for you. It will rot your teeth, make you gain weight, and has little to no nutritional value to offset that tremendous amount of calories. But we eat it anyway. Just for the love, or the hell, of it. Cole_JDTylerFor the sense of nostalgia it gives us, or the forbidden pleasure of doing something we shouldn’t.  I consider certain books to be candy for the brain.  Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling and Guild Hunter novels, for example, or J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood are like the most luxurious, darkest, richest, most decadent dark chocolate truffle. Wolfs-Fall_JDTylerThe Godiva ones dusted with cocoa.  Mmmmmm.

Well, this weekend, I decided to relax my brain and let it veg, stuffing it with lots of word candy.  Thus, I pretty much gorged on J. D. Tyler’s Alpha Pack series, devouring each and every one of them.  Including the lone novella.  Although dark, they don’t have the weight, the richness, of Singh’s books or the BDB.  Lindor truffles instead of Godiva.  And I love Lindor truffles.  My niece got me a huge 70+ piece bag of them last Christmas.  Yummy.  I’m eagerly awaiting Nick’s book and, even more, I really hope Tyler bites the bullet and writes one for Nix and Noah.  On her Facebook page, she says she’s plotting it, so, fingers crossed.

What’s your favorite candy, brain or otherwise?