Thursday, May 28, 2015

ARC Review: Dragon in Exile by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Dragon in Exile
Authors: Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Series: Liaden Universe (Book 18)
Publication: Baen (June 2, 2015)

Description: Star-trading Clan Korval—known to Terrans as the Tree-and-Dragon Family and to the locals simply as "the Dragon"—has been convicted of crimes against the homeworld. No matter that one of the "crimes" consisted of saving the elitist planet of Liad from very real internal threats, the Council of Clans wanted Korval heads to roll. Unfortunately for the Council, the Dragon's allies conspired to impose a milder punishment for saving the world: banishment, rather than execution.

 Now relocated to the free-for-all world of Surebleak, the Dragon is under contract to keep the Port Road open to all traffic, and to back the New Bosses in imposing law and order on a society originally based on larceny and assassination. This modest rustication is going surprisingly well, until Korval discovers that the enemy they'd sought to destroy. . .wasn't quite destroyed, and is more determined than ever to eradicate Korval.

While the banishment killed no one initially, many of Korval’s trading allies are spooked, and some are reneging on ancient agreements, leaving the Dragon to make its own way. The clan’s efforts to stealthily recruit new allies is going haywire, and a secret death toll is rising even as the clan’s adherents endure increasing exposure to danger and deceit off-world.

To make matters worse, an active portion of Surebleak's native population liked the Old Ways just fine, and are conspiring to take the New Bosses—and the Dragon—down, and are sure they have the firepower and people to do it.

The exiled Dragon has to make an urgent choice—accept an alliance with criminals or face down each and every enemy in person, one by one.

My Thoughts: This eighteenth Liaden Universe novel focuses on change both personal and galactic. I don't think that it is a book for someone new to the Liaden novels though the author's do try to assist a new reader in the Prologue. But for long-standing fans of this series (one that I have been reading since about 1985), this story was a marvel and a wonder.

Korval is now situated on Surebleak and trying to find a place for itself. They are also trying to find their place in the larger galactic community. While they did their best - including leveling parts of Liad - to defeat the Department of the Interior, they were not able to completely eradicate it. The remaining much-diminished Department has set the elimination of Korval as its only focus. And the Department doesn't care about collateral damage.


Besides this large outside enemy, they are also dealing with citizens of Surebleak who would like to return things to the way it was before Pat Rin arrived and changed Surebleak to meet his needs. It is easy to see that changing the culture on Surebleak won't be an easy process.



This story is told from multiple viewpoints which all weave together to form the whole. Miri and Val Con are key voices but we also hear from Rys, the only Agent of Change besides Val Con who managed to overcome the Department's programming, Quin who represents one of the next generation of Korval, Hazenthull Explorer, one of the Xtrang who are now members of Korval, Kamele Waitley and a few others. Through their eyes, we see what is happening on Surebleak which is going through a major change in society and culture.


We catch up with a number of the characters who have been introduced in the earlier books in this series. I loved seeing them again but wish that I could have seen more about Theo, Daav and Aelliana. Those tiny glimpses in the Interludes just whet my appetite for more. I really enjoyed seeing Korval and Surebleak from Kamele Waitley's point of view since we usually don't see that view. I also enjoyed learning more about Kareen and seeing her become a less one-sided character.

Fans of the series won't want to miss this addition. New readers will want to read some of the earlier books to find out more about the intriguing characters who have roles in this story.

Favorite Quote:
"None of us ought to be diminished by our changed circumstances. It is true that adventures sometimes drive one into simplicity." She felt, rather than saw his smile.

"Life is wonderfully simplified when all that is required is that one survive."

"That is the door that opened into this..." she hesitated, feeling over the possible descriptors in her head.

"Opportunity?" he suggested.

She laughed.
I bought and read this eARC the first day it was available on Baen. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

ARC Review: Night of the Highland Dragon by Isabel Cooper

Night of the Highland Dragon
Author: Isabel Cooper
Series: Highland Dragons
Publication: Sourcebooks Casablanca (June 2, 2015)

Description: "They say," said the girl, "that people disappear up there. And I heard that the lady doesna' ever grow any older."

"The lady?" William asked.


"Lady MacAlasdair. She lives in the castle, and she's been there years, but she stays young and beautiful forever."


In the Scottish Highlands, legend is as powerful as the sword-and nowhere is that more true than in the remote village of Loch Aranoch. Its mysterious ruler, Judith MacAlasdair, is fiercely protective of her land-and her secrets. If anyone were to find out what she really was, she and her entire clan would be hunted down as monsters.

William Arundell is on the trail of a killer. Special agent for an arcane branch of the English government, his latest assignment has led him to a remote Highland castle and the undeniably magnetic lady who rules there. Yet as lies begin to unravel and a dark threat gathers, William finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into the mystery of the Highlands...and the woman he can neither trust nor deny.

He prays she isn't the murderer; he never dreamed she was a dragon.

My Thoughts: William Arundel has spent most of his adult life investigating supernatural incidents for the mysterious D Branch. Now his investigation has taken him to the Scottish Highlands where he encounters an isolated village with a mysterious ruling family. Judith MacAlasdair is the one in charge. She is experienced at keeping secrets including the secret that she is a dragon who has lived for more than 200 years.

William is looking for a murderer and finds Judith suspicious but there are other potential suspects in the town from the friend of the doctor's who is a surgeon studying blood to the local man who left to make his fortune and who has now returned home.

I enjoyed the highland setting. I liked the way the relationship between William and Judith grew. And I thought the plot was both interesting and scary. This is the third book in the Highland Dragons series. It stands alone quite well. I would like to read the others so that I can have the complete story, though.

Fans of paranormal romances and dragons will enjoy this story.

Favorite Quote:
Judith hadn't kissed anyone for a long time. She'd clearly forgotten the intensity of it, the way it made the world fade into the background, the heady and terrifying joy of being lost in sensation. But she couldn't believe that she would forget anything like this.
I got this book from the publisher via NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: Dragon in Exile by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. 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:
His brother's lifemate was found in the so-called "ruckus room,"  with the heir. Mother and child were on the floor; the child crawling in energetic circles; the mother observing progress, and offering the occasional dry comment on form.
This week my teaser comes from Dragon in Exile by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. This is the eighteenth book in the Liaden Universe series which just keeps getting better and better. Here is the description from Amazon for this June 2 release:
Star-trading Clan Korval—known to Terrans as the Tree-and-Dragon Family and to the locals simply as "the Dragon"—has been convicted of crimes against the homeworld. No matter that one of the "crimes" consisted of saving the elitist planet of Liad from very real internal threats, the Council of Clans wanted Korval heads to roll. Unfortunately for the Council, the Dragon's allies conspired to impose a milder punishment for saving the world: banishment, rather than execution.

Now relocated to the free-for-all world of Surebleak, the Dragon is under contract to keep the Port Road open to all traffic, and to back the New Bosses in imposing law and order on a society originally based on larceny and assassination. This modest rustication is going surprisingly well, until Korval discovers that the enemy they'd sought to destroy. . .wasn't quite destroyed, and is more determined than ever to eradicate Korval.

While the banishment killed no one initially, many of Korval’s trading allies are spooked, and some are reneging on ancient agreements, leaving the Dragon to make its own way. The clan’s efforts to stealthily recruit new allies is going haywire, and a secret death toll is rising even as the clan’s adherents endure increasing exposure to danger and deceit off-world.

To make matters worse, an active portion of Surebleak's native population liked the Old Ways just fine, and are conspiring to take the New Bosses—and the Dragon—down, and are sure they have the firepower and people to do it.

The exiled Dragon has to make an urgent choice—accept an alliance with criminals or face down each and every enemy in person, one by one.

Monday, May 25, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (May 25, 2015)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey

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.

Other Than Reading...

We waved off the elementary students as they started their summer vacation on Friday. Now I just have to do grades for kindergarten students and my first and second graders. Only eight days left for my middle school/high school students and then summer vacation starts for all of us. I am more than ready!

Last week I had a chance to catch up with a friend I don't see very often and heard all about the plans for her daughter's wedding. It was good to catch up. I won't see her again until she comes to visit me at my summer home in August.

Read Last Week
Dragon in Exile by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller was a re-read. I read the eARC when it first became available. This week the ebook was released and I just had to read it again. I love this science fiction series and never tire of revisiting old friends. My review has been scheduled since I read the eARC and will be posted on May 28. The hardcover will be released on June 2 and my copy has already been ordered for my keeper shelf.

I read Empire of Night by Kelley Armstrong which is the second book in her Age of Legends fantasy series. It suffers from "middle book in a trilogy" syndrome in that, while lots of adventures take place, no resolution is found for any of the plot threads. My review will be posted on June 13.

Finally, I read First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones which has been sitting on my TBR mountain since 2012. It was a fun urban fantasy and I'm glad I have the next five books in the series on my Kindle as the result of a recent Kindle Daily Deal. My review will be posted on June 20.

Currently
I'm reading Rogue by Julie Kagawa from my YA TBR mountain. It is the second book in her newest series and features dragons.

Next Week
I have three more Kindle books from my Adult TBR mountain next on my stack.
Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
My only new addition this week was the finished ebook copy of Dragon in Exile by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. This is the 18th book in their Liaden Universe series.

To see what Young Adult books I have been reading and plan to read, check out Ms. Martin Teaches Media - my other blog.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Book Review: Rock Hard by Nalini Singh

Rock Hard
Author: Nalini Singh
Series: Rock Kiss Book 2
Publication: TKA Distribution (March 10, 2015)

Description: In New York Times Bestselling author Nalini Singh’s newest contemporary romance, passion ignites between a gorgeous, sinfully sexy man who built himself up from nothing and a shy woman who has a terrible secret in her past…

Wealthy businessman Gabriel Bishop rules the boardroom with the same determination and ruthlessness that made him a rock star on the rugby field. He knows what he wants, and he’ll go after it no-holds-barred.

And what he wants is Charlotte Baird.

Charlotte knows she’s a mouse. Emotionally scarred and painfully shy, she just wants to do her job and remain as invisible as possible. But the new CEO—a brilliant, broad-shouldered T-Rex of a man who growls and storms through the office, leaving carnage in his wake—clearly has other plans. Plans that may be equal parts business and bedroom.

If Charlotte intends to survive this battle of wits and hearts, the mouse will have to learn to wrangle the T-Rex. Game on.

My Thoughts: The second book in the Rock Kiss series features the romance of Charlotte Baird and Gabriel Bishop. Charlotte is Molly, from Rock Addiction's, best friend. Gabriel Bishop is the former rugby star turned wealthy businessman who was hired to turn the company Charlotte works for around. Charlotte is very timid and is still getting over being assaulted and tortured by a former boyfriend. Gabriel terrifies her, at first, because he is big, hard and pretty domineering.

Gabriel is fascinated by Charlotte's brains and forces her to be his personal assistant. He would like to have a personal relationship with Charlotte but knows he has to take his time with her. Charlotte soon learns to stand up to Gabriel which gives her more confidence in herself. She is, however, still plagued by flashbacks, panic attacks, and claustrophobia which Gabriel helps her work through.

Gabriel has issues too. He is a workaholic in part because his father disappeared on the family when Gabriel was young. He emptied all the bank accounts when he left and left the family destitute. His mother remarried and that is the man that Gabriel calls his father. His birth father has made a reappearance now because he is fighting cancer and wants to try to make it up with his family. Gabriel isn't the forgiving type.

When Charlotte's attacker gets out of prison and begins stalking her again, Charlotte learns how far she has come since she was a battered victim.

This was a great romance with interesting characters and an interesting storyline. I liked its realistic treatment of the difficulty of getting over traumatic experiences.

Favorite Quote:
If having the phone within reach allowed her to function, to step outside into the world, to not live in a cage, then no one had any right to judge her. It had taken Charlotte time, but she'd stopped judging herself for the need, too. In the grand scheme of her screwed-up psyche, her reliance on the safety net of a phone was a blip on the radar.
I bought this one for my Kindle. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Memes: Rock Hard by Nalini Singh

Happy Friday everybody!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The 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.

This week I am spotlighting Rock Hard by Nalini Singh which is the second book in her spicy contemporary romance series. Here is the description from Amazon:
In New York Times Bestselling author Nalini Singh’s newest contemporary romance, passion ignites between a gorgeous, sinfully sexy man who built himself up from nothing and a shy woman who has a terrible secret in her past…

Wealthy businessman Gabriel Bishop rules the boardroom with the same determination and ruthlessness that made him a rock star on the rugby field. He knows what he wants, and he’ll go after it no-holds-barred.
And what he wants is Charlotte Baird.

Charlotte knows she’s a mouse. Emotionally scarred and painfully shy, she just wants to do her job and remain as invisible as possible. But the new CEO—a brilliant, broad-shouldered T-Rex of a man who growls and storms through the office, leaving carnage in his wake—clearly has other plans. Plans that may be equal parts business and bedroom.

If Charlotte intends to survive this battle of wits and hearts, the mouse will have to learn to wrangle the T-Rex. Game on.
Beginning:
Charlotte closed the final updated folder with a smile.
Friday 56: 
Charlotte was surprised to find on Friday afternoon that she'd survived almost an entire week working for T-Rex. Earlier that day, he'd fired her, then in the next breath asked her to track down someone at a regional branch office. When that happened a second time, she ignored being fired and kept on with her job—though she might have glared daggers at his back a time or two.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Book Review: Clockwork Lies: Iron Wind by Dru Pagliassotti

Clockwork Lies: Iron Wind
Author: Dru Pagliassotti
Series: Clockwork Heart, Book 2
Publication: EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing; 1 edition (April 12, 2014)

Description: Taya, the metal-winged icarus whose investigation helped defeat a plot against Ondinium and its populace, is assisting her exalted husband Cristof Forlore on his first ambassadorial mission. They must learn about Mareaux’s experiments in airship technology and determine whether the ostensibly scientific vehicles might be used for warfare — a taboo for Ondiniums, whose domination of the air is tempered by a deep cultural abhorrence toward airborne weapons after the devastation of the Last War a thousand years ago.

My Thoughts: Taya and Cristof are married and the council in wondering what to do with them. Since Taya is interested in the diplomatic corps, the Council decides that Cristoff would make a good ambassador. Their first mission is to Mareaux where Cristoff survives a couple of assassination attempts. It seems that someone is trying to get him out of the way.

There is no shortage of potential enemies. Alzana is casting a greedy eye on Ondinium's wealth. Demicus is divided into clans and a number of them would be willing to ally with Alzana. Ondinium doesn't treat its Demican citizens very well and a rebel party has sprung up which would like to throw the Ondinium's out of their country. Then, there are the Ondinium residents who might be more interested in making money than keeping Ondinium safe.

The story is filled with one hair-raising episode after another from train derailments to kidnapping to stowing away on a train carrying weapons to an unknown destination. Taya and Cristof are put in all sorts of danger and Taya is forced to do many things that are very troubling to her conscience and to her perception of what her country is and what it stands for.

I loved the action and excitement. I loved the description of the inflight battles and the various technologies that are being created or that already exist but that Taya had never heard. of. Since this is the middle book in a trilogy, I am really anxious to find out what lies ahead for Taya and Cristof.

Favorite Quote:
It wasn't that she hadn't known she'd loved him. Of course she'd loved him; she couldn't have put up with him if she hadn't loved him. But theirs wasn't the kinds of grand, destined love affair described in the thick romance novels Cassie bought. The had to work at their marriage with humor and patience. Sometimes, the marriage took a lot of effort.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.