Saturday, October 21, 2017

Book Review: Blade Bound by Chloe Neill

Blade Bound
Author: Chloe Neill
Series: Chicagoland Vampires (Book 13)
Publication: Berkley (April 25, 2017)

Description: The thrilling final installment of Chloe Neill’s New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series sees sinister sorcery advancing across Chicago, and it might usher in the fall of Cadogan House....

Since the night of her brutal attack and unwilling transformation into a vampire, Merit has stood as Sentinel and protector of Chicago’s Cadogan House. She’s saved the Windy City from the forces of darkness time and again with her liege and lover, Ethan Sullivan, by her side.

When the House is infiltrated and Merit is attacked by a vampire who seems to be under the sway of dark magic, Merit and Ethan realize the danger is closer than they could have imagined. As malign sorcery spreads throughout the city, Merit must go to war against supernatural powers beyond her comprehension. It is her last chance to save everything—and everyone—she loves.

My Thoughts: BLADE BOUND concludes the Chicagoland Vampires series. It begins with a wedding. Merit and Ethan are set to tie themselves together for eternity. We get to tag along on Merit's girls night out where she and friends overindulge on chocolate. Things have been quiet in Chicago for four months after Sorcha's defeat but, naturally, things can't stay that way.

The night before the wedding Merit surprises a vampire in Ethan's office who seems to be mentally ill. He is frantic because he is hearing voices. The next day when Merit and Ethan are taking wedding pictures they come upon a riot where humans hearing voices are fighting.

Something is going on in Chicago. Both Gabriel and Mallory have has a sense of unease. It shouldn't be Sorcha since the wizards have put up wards that should trigger if she comes back to Chicago. But next the weather starts getting colder. While snow in August isn't impossible, the temperature and the amount of snow, especially since it is falling from a clear sky, make it clear that something magical is happening.

The center of the magical disturbance is traced to Sorcha's Towerline building. Ethan and Merit break in and discover Sorcha's workroom and manage to gather some of her notes before needing to leave ahead of guards. Mallory and Catcher manage to decipher the cryptic notes which show that Sorcha is building a magical construct to help her get revenge on Chicago, Merit and Mallory.

This story was action-packed and filled with new dangers for Merit and Ethan. Merit has her courage tested. She and Ethan are still trying to decide what they feel about the prophecy that they will have the first vampire child. Merit is very concerned for that future child's safety.

This was a great conclusion to an excellent series. I look forward to seeing where Neill takes the spinoff series which will begin in 2018.

Favorite Quote:
"And we know the fireball juju doesn't work," I said. "So what will?"

"The world's biggest bear trap?" Mallory asked. "Extra-large elephant gun? Freeze ray?"

"Excellent ideas, Wile E. Coyote."

Mallory growled. 
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Friday Memes: Blade Bound by Chloe Neill

Happy Friday everybody!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City ReaderThe Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Beginning:
It was midnight in Chicago, and all was well.
Friday 56:
I was getting married today. And I was feeling pretty damned good about it.
This week I am reading Blade Bound by Chloe Neill. This is the final book in her Chicagoland Vampires series. Here is the description from Amazon:
The thrilling final installment of Chloe Neill’s New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series sees sinister sorcery advancing across Chicago, and it might usher in the fall of Cadogan House....

Since the night of her brutal attack and unwilling transformation into a vampire, Merit has stood as Sentinel and protector of Chicago’s Cadogan House. She’s saved the Windy City from the forces of darkness time and again with her liege and lover, Ethan Sullivan, by her side.

When the House is infiltrated and Merit is attacked by a vampire who seems to be under the sway of dark magic, Merit and Ethan realize the danger is closer than they could have imagined. As malign sorcery spreads throughout the city, Merit must go to war against supernatural powers beyond her comprehension. It is her last chance to save everything—and everyone—she loves.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

ARC Review: Mind Game by Iris Johansen

Mind Game
Author: Iris Johansen
Publication: St. Martin's Press (October 24, 2017)

Description: With Iris Johansen’s trademark adventure, intrigue, and explosive energy, Mind Game is a propulsive thriller that’s impossible to put down.

Scotland holds a treasure that Jane MacGuire has been hunting for years. But as she scours the highlands in search of it, she’s plagued by dreams of a girl in danger―dreams she can’t ignore no matter how hard she tries. Who is this girl, and what is she trying to tell Jane? And will Jane figure it out before it’s too late―for her and the mysterious young woman?

Things are further complicated when Seth Caleb comes back into Jane’s life. Their history is volatile to say the least. This time Jane finds herself pulled unexpectedly into his world as she fights to save him. But Caleb isn’t the only person sweeping her up into startling developments. When Eve Duncan surprises Jane with news of her own, Jane comes face to face with stunning changes in the lives of those she loves most.

My Thoughts: This 22nd book in the Eve Duncan series seemed to bring a number of long-running plot threads to a conclusion. It begins with Jane having dreams about a young woman in danger. She goes to Joe to help her find out who the girl is. Then Seth Caleb comes back into Jane's life and throws it into confusion again. She and Seth have a very difficult relationship. Seth is one person that Jane really doesn't understand but who fascinates her too.

Things are also moving along in Scotland in the hunt for Cira's lost treasure. Additional visions from Cira help Jane know where to hunt. MacDuff is still looking for a technological solution to pierce the fog that covers the lake where the treasure is hidden.

Eve also makes a decision that also will bring lots of changes and leads to a reunion with many of the characters from earlier novels in this series. Fans of the series won't want to miss this latest (but not final) episode.

The story has a lot of suspense. Between rescuing Lisa, figuring out who wanted to kidnap her, and why Jane is also kidnapped, the action is frequent and harrowing. I liked that Jane and Seth are getting to know each other better. Seth's backstory explains a lot about his actions and his views.

I have been reading this series from the earliest days and have only missed a few books. The books are compelling suspense novels and filled with characters who have various psychic gifts. I find the dialog to be different from many other stories. Sometimes the conversations feel like shorthand or that the characters are talking in code.

Fans of the series won't want to miss this one.

Favorite Quote:
"I yield to your vast expertise on the subject," she said, interrupting Lisa. "You're right: I'm merely a sister who sees qualities in him because I'm besotted."

"You're making fun of me," Lisa said. "Okay, my mother used to tell me I saw things in Seth that weren't there, either. She was wrong. It doesn't matter. It's going to be a wonderful portrait anyway."

"Thank you. Then you won't mind if I continue to see him from the heart and not the mind."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

ARC Review: House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick

House of Shadows
Author: Nicola Cornick
Publication: Graydon House (October 17, 2017)

Description: The wooded hills of Oxfordshire conceal the remains of the aptly named Ashdown House—a wasted pile of cinders and regret. Once home to the daughter of a king, Ashdown and its secrets will unite three women across four centuries in a tangle of intrigue, deceit and destiny… 

In the winter of 1662, Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen, is on her deathbed. She entrusts an ancient pearl, rumored to have magic power, to her faithful cavalier William Craven for safekeeping. In his grief, William orders the construction of Ashdown Estate in her memory and places the pearl at its center.

One hundred and fifty years later, notorious courtesan Lavinia Flyte hears the maids at Ashdown House whisper of a hidden treasure, and bears witness as her protector Lord Evershot—desperate to find it—burns the building to the ground.

Now, a battered mirror and the diary of a Regency courtesan are the only clues Holly Ansell has to finding her brother, who has gone missing researching the mystery of Elizabeth Stuart and her alleged affair with Lord Craven. As she retraces his footsteps, Holly's quest will soon reveal the truth about Lavinia and compel her to confront the stunning revelation about the legacy of the Winter Queen.


My Thoughts: This book tells the story of three women from different time periods centered around a mirror and a pearl that may have magical properties. Their lives and loves are all connected in a story that spans almost 400 years.

Elizabeth of Bohemia was given the mirror and pearl as Christening gifts by Elizabeth I of England in 1596. She is married to Frederick of Bohemia. Elizabeth is in The Hague, a court in exile, since Frederick has lost his throne. They attempt to use the mirror and pearl to regain it. Elizabeth's romance is with William Craven, a commoner and soldier, who is her devoted courtier.

The second story is a modern day one. Holly Ansell is called to Ashdown Mill by her 6-year-old niece who tells her that her father, Holly's brother Ben, is missing. When she arrives Ben is still gone and she finds herself in a mystery. Apparently Ben was researching the mirror and the pearl. An art dealer gives her the mirror and she discovers a diary written in 1801.

The diary is written by Lavinia Flyte who is a courtesan living at Ashdown with William Craven's descendant who is searching for the pearl. (Elizabeth had entrusted it to William when she died.) Her lover hires a surveyor to help map the land and hopefully find out where the Earl of Craven hid the pearl. Unknown to him, Robert Verity, is a descendant of William Craven's lover who got pregnant by Craven but went back home to her husband to have the child taking Elizabeth's mirror with her. Lavinia falls in love with Robert.

The three stories are all interwoven telling about the history of the magical objects and the women whose lives were entwined in the story. I enjoyed the story, the characters, and the historical detail.

Favorite Quote:
If you loved you got hurt and the more you loved the more power it had to destroy her.

For her it was that simple.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Adult and YA Teasers (Oct. 17, 2017)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Purple Booker. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser on Inside of a Dog:
Holly hadn't even thought about what would happen beyond teh next few hours, let alone on Friday. "I don't think so," she said. "I'm sorry, Mr. Shurmer, but Ben will probably be back by then and anyway, this is nothing to do with me."

"Seven thirty at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford," Shurmer said, cutting in so smoothly she barely notice the interruption. "I should be greatly honoured if you choose to be there, Miss Ansell," he added with old-fashioned courtesy.

The line clicked as the call went dead.
-- House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick

Teaser on Ms. Martin Teaches Media:
It took me a minute after Lilah finally introduced the last girl to figure out that Fuchsia was actually her name. I opened my mouth to say something, but I was dumbstruck. Fuchsia? Fuchsia?! Who named their kid Fuchsia?  
-- Golden by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Monday, October 16, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Oct. 16, 2017)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

I will be combining my YA and adult reading and purchases on this one weekly roundup. YA and middle grade reviews will still be posted on  Ms. Martin Teaches Media - my other blog.

Other Than Reading...

One down and one to go! The closing on the Locust Street house finally happened on Friday and the checks went into the bank on Saturday. Now I just need to find someone to buy my townhouse which had all new carpeting installed on Tuesday.

I was going to wait until I had sold my townhouse to buy a new, Duluth winter appropriate car but with cooler weather and morning frost my brother and I decided to use some of this house money to buy now. My brother and I will be test driving the kind I think I want next week when he has a couple of weekdays off. I'm looking at a Subaru Crosstrek with all wheel drive to deal with the hills in Duluth and, in particular, our hilly driveway.

I'm trying something new, and a little scary, on my blogs. Since I don't have very many review books for November and December, I am digging into my TBR mountains. I usually have my whole calendar filled and posts started at least a month ahead. What I am trying is to choose something that catches my attention, read it, and write the post after I finish. What I'm afraid of is that I'll read a page or two of a book and ditch it for something else if it doesn't catch my attention. That makes a lot of books sampled but not a lot of books finished. It could also mean that I will discover a lot of books that I am no longer interested in for my donation pile which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Since I've been home, I have been on a quest to find the best hamburger in Duluth, Minnesota. I joined a group called Nextdoor Kenwood which gives recommendations, local news updates, lost and found, etc. and asked for recommendations. My brother and I had tried lots of the places recommended but went out to one new to both of us on Thursday and had the best hamburgers in Duluth so far. We will be trying a few more of the recommendations as we get time because I like to go out to eat and it is nice to have someone to go with.

Read Last Week
  • In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan - enjoyable middle grade fantasy. Review posted Oct. 27.
  • India Black by Carol K. Carr - wonderful historical mystery that had been on TBR mountain since March 14, 2011. Review posted Nov. 1.
  • Much Ado About Murder by Elizabeth J. Duncan - entertaining cozy mystery, 3rd in a series. Review posted Nov. 2.
  • The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress - on TBR mountain since Dec. 12, 2012, steampunk, girl power and adventure. Review posted Nov. 1.
  • Unholy City by Carrie Smith - intriguing mystery title, 3rd Claire Codella mystery. Review posted Nov. 4.
  • Long Way Home by Katie McGarry - emotionally intense contemporary romance/thriller. Review posted Nov. 4
Currently
A Spoonful of Magic by Irene Radford begins a new urban fantasy series. It will be release Nov. 7.

Next Week
Reviews Posted

On Ms. Martin Teaches Media:
On Inside of a Dog:
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
New Review Books:
What was your week like?

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Book Review: Secrets in Death by J. D. Robb

Secrets in Death
Author: J. D. Robb
Series: In Death (Book 45)
Publication: St. Martin's Press (September 5, 2017)

Description: A new novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series: Lt. Eve Dallas must separate rumors from reality when a woman who traffics in other people’s secrets is silenced.

The chic Manhattan nightspot Du Vin is not the kind of place Eve Dallas would usually patronize, and it’s not the kind of bar where a lot of blood gets spilled. But that’s exactly what happens one cold February evening.

The mortally wounded woman is Larinda Mars, a self-described “social information reporter,” or as most people would call it, a professional gossip. As it turns out, she was keeping the most shocking stories quiet, for profitable use in her side business as a blackmailer. Setting her sights on rich, prominent marks, she’d find out what they most wanted to keep hidden and then bleed them dry. Now someone’s done the same to her, literally—with a knife to the brachial artery.

Eve didn’t like Larinda Mars. But she likes murder even less. To find justice for this victim, she’ll have to plunge into the dirty little secrets of all the people Larinda Mars victimized herself. But along the way, she may be exposed to some information she really didn’t want to know…

My Thoughts: The book begins with Eve meeting Dr. Garnet DeWinter for a drink. She's irritated because something about DeWinter rubs her the wrong way but she is connected with a number of people who are in Eve's tight social circle. There is lots of nice snark about her reluctance to meet. Next thing you know is that "social information reporter" Larinda Mars comes up from the restroom and dies in Eve's arms. Eve knew her peripherally and disliked her. Someone has sliced her brachial artery causing her to bleed out.

Now Eve has to find out who killed a person that she really disliked. Just a little investigation shows that Mars was a blackmailer and her pool of victims is huge. Lots of people were willing to pay to keep their secrets hidden. As the investigation continues, it is Mars' victims who garner sympathy from Eve. Some of their secrets bring back memories of Eve's own childhood abuse and show that she is coming to terms with her own troubled past. Eve becomes even more angry at Larinda Mars when she learns that she, Roarke, Mavis, Leonardo and their infant Bella, along with Nadine Furst have also been targets in Mars' blackmail scheme.

And Mars had secrets of her own that she jealously guarded. The autopsy reveals that she had extensive face and body work which sends Eve, with the assistance of forensic anthropologist Dr. Garnet DeWinter, on a quest to find out who she was before she reinvented herself as Larinda Mars. And, while her home has some records and some of her loot, Eve and Roarke are trying to find the rest of her records to know the full scope of people that Mars had blackmailed or investigated.

This was another excellent entry into one of my favorite series. Book 45 shows that Eve and Roarke have not worn out their welcome with me and leaves me eager for their next mystery.

Favorite Quote:
"Well, it's stupid and it's no wonder people are perpetually f**ked up, as nobody can depend on something as basic as February. Which is already screwed up because it insists on having less days, then adding one like a little prize every four years even though everybody wants February to get the hell over so we can move on."

Adorable, he thought again, and really unassailable logic. "Who would argue with that?"
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.