Monday, December 31, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Dec. 31, 2018)

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.

Other Than Reading...

Our lightly snow covered ground turned into a real "White Christmas" when we received 13.1 inches of snow on Dec. 26 and Dec. 27. This is Saturday afternoon and I still haven't ventured out of the house. It was warm enough when the snow began that it created slush on the roads which froze when the temperatures dropped making many streets bumpy and icy.

Curves was closed for two days so I didn't get out and exercise. I'll try to get there on Monday if the roads have cleared up more. I do have my trusty treadmill in the basement if I feel a need to exercise.

It is hard to believe that it is almost 2019. Since this is just Saturday, I'll wait until next week to sum up all of my reading and reviewing for the year. I'll probably finish a book or two before the year ends. Monday I'll be writing my final State of the Stack post which will sum up my reviewing.

Read Last Week

If you can't wait until the review shows up on my blog, reviews are posted to LibraryThing and Goodreads as soon as I write them (usually right after I finish reading a book.)

  • Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee (Jan. 15) - This was a YA science fiction/fantasy based on Korean mythology. My review will be posted on Jan. 15.
  • Wild Embrace by Nalini Singh (Mine) - I was looking for a novella to read from my TBR mountain. I couldn't stop at just one and finished this group of four Psy-Changeling stories. I reviewed this one on LibraryThing and Goodreads.
  • The Burning Island by Hester Young (Feb. 12) - This was a mystery about a woman who is a psychic who connects with missing and endangered children and wishes she didn't. My review will be posted on Jan. 16 since it was initially a Jan. 22 release and I don't have room on my calendar to move it closer to its release date.


  • Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye (Jan. 22) - This one begins a new epic fantasy YA series with faint hints of Japan along with the magic. My review will be posted on Jan. 17.
  • Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch - This is the second Peter Grant police procedural/urban fantasy mystery. My review will be posted on Jan. 22.
  • The Storm Keeper's Island by Catherine Doyle (Jan. 22) - This is an excellent middle grade fantasy that brought me to tears in a couple of places. My review will be posted on Jan. 19.

Currently
One Tough Cowboy by Lora Leigh & Veronica Chadwick (Jan. 29) begins a new romantic suspense series.

Next Week






Reviews Posted


Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
 Wyatt's Stand by Kaylea Cross ($.99 when  I downloaded it.)
 Tubby Dubonnet Mysteries 1 - 5 by Tony Dunbar (Free when I downloaded it.)
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas - I read this earlier in print but donated my copy. I want to re-read before finishing the series. 
Navigating the Stars by Maria V. Snyder - Kindle deal from a favorite author
Legendary by Stephanie Garber - Kindle deal which joins the first in the series on my TBR mountin.

What was your week like?

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Book Review: The Wild Dead by Carrie Vaughn

The Wild Dead
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Series: Bannerless Saga (Book 2)
Publication: John Joseph Adams/Mariner Books (July 17, 2018)

Description: A century after environmental and economic collapse, the people of the Coast Road have rebuilt their own sort of civilization, striving not to make the mistakes their ancestors did. They strictly ration and manage resources, including the ability to have children. Enid of Haven is an investigator, who with her new partner, Teeg, is called on to mediate a dispute over an old building in a far-flung settlement at the edge of Coast Road territory. The investigators’ decision seems straightforward — and then the body of a young woman turns up in the nearby marshland. Almost more shocking than that, she’s not from the Coast Road, but from one of the outsider camps belonging to the nomads and wild folk who live outside the Coast Road communities. Now one of them is dead, and Enid wants to find out who killed her, even as Teeg argues that the murder isn’t their problem. In a dystopian future of isolated communities, can our moral sense survive the worst hard times?

My Thoughts: Investigator Enid of Haven and her new partner Teeg are called to mediate a dispute about property in one of the more isolated communities on the Coast Road. Enid thinks it will be a good beginning investigation for her green partner and not to time consuming which will fit in with Enid's wishes to be home when her housemate has the baby that her family has been so eager for. But the investigation quickly takes a more serious turn when the body of a young woman is found in the marshes that the community combs for salvage.

The problem is that no one admits to knowing who she is. She is apparently from a wild settlement somewhere off the road. Enid begins an investigation to find out who murdered her while her partner Teeg isn't sure that it is any of their business. They are charged with taking care of those who live along the Coast Road.

Enid begins by questioning all of the households to see what she can learn and uncovers tensions still present from an investigation 20 years earlier when one woman cut out her birth control implant which is very much against the law. This led to splitting up the household and continuing suspicion of the woman and her new household.

This is an interesting world. It is post-apocalyptic. Most technology is gone. People are living with quotas and rules to preserve the environment. The original investigation is about whether or not to use resources to preserve a pre-Fall house that has been in a man's family for generations. The house is on the verge of falling down a cliff as a result of mudslides and erosion. The owner feels he is letting down his father if he doesn't preserve it but the community feels that it is long past saving.

A key point in this world has to do with babies. In order to receive a banner which is permission to have a child, the household has to show that they can feed and support a child. Gaining a banner is a matter of pride and accomplishment. One of the woman who cut out her implant's punishment was that she and the household she joined could never get a banner.

I enjoyed seeing Enid investigating the death of the young woman. She was tenacious. She also had a need to find out the truth. Her attitude was in stark contrast to that of Teeg's who would have been happy to take the easy solution on move on.

An interesting main character and an interesting world were the strong points of this post-apocalyptic mystery.

Favorite Quote:
Finally, Neeve said softly, anxiously, "Can we go look? I...I'd like to look."

"You think you might know her?" Teeg said, leaning in, maybe a little too excited.

Mart said, "The others probably told you, wild folks come here to trade sometimes. We might recognize her at least."

Finally, something solid. A line of information that didn't end in I don't know.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Friday Memes: The Wild Dead by Carrie Vaughn

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:
Most regions Enid visited, she could find something to love about them, some enticing and beautiful detail about the landscape, the people, the mood of the place. A reason folks would want to stay and scrape out a living in less-than-ideal situations when a dozen other settlements had more resources and less disease, and would gladly welcome extra hands.
Friday 56:
"You've got time, I imagine," Enid said. "But you might want to get any salvage out of there before the next storm."

"Right," Erik murmured. Enid hoped her smile was comforting, but it felt grim.

There was always another storm, and there never seemed to be enough time between them.
This week I am spotlighting The Wild Dead by Carrie Vaughn. This is the sequel to Bannerless and is a futuristic, dystopian mystery. Here is the description from Amazon:
A century after environmental and economic collapse, the people of the Coast Road have rebuilt their own sort of civilization, striving not to make the mistakes their ancestors did. They strictly ration and manage resources, including the ability to have children. Enid of Haven is an investigator, who with her new partner, Teeg, is called on to mediate a dispute over an old building in a far-flung settlement at the edge of Coast Road territory. The investigators’ decision seems straightforward — and then the body of a young woman turns up in the nearby marshland. Almost more shocking than that, she’s not from the Coast Road, but from one of the outsider camps belonging to the nomads and wild folk who live outside the Coast Road communities. Now one of them is dead, and Enid wants to find out who killed her, even as Teeg argues that the murder isn’t their problem. In a dystopian future of isolated communities, can our moral sense survive the worst hard times?

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Book Review: Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop

Daughter of the Blood
Author: Anne Bishop
Series: Black Jewels (Book 1)
Publication: Roc (March 1, 1998)

Description: Seven hundred years ago, a Black Widow witch saw an ancient prophecy come to life in her web of dreams and visions. Now the Dark Kingdom readies itself for the arrival of its Queen, a Witch who will wield more power than even the High Lord of Hell himself. But she is still young, still open to influence—and corruption.

Whoever controls the Queen controls the darkness. Three men—sworn enemies—know this. And they know the power that hides behind the blue eyes of an innocent young girl. And so begins a ruthless game of politics and intrigue, magic and betrayal, where the weapons are hate and love—and the prize could be terrible beyond imagining...

My Thoughts: DAUGHTER OF THE BLOOD is a fascinating dark fantasy about an ancient prophecy that is finally coming to fruition. Daemon Sadi, Lucivar Yaslana, and Saeton have all been waiting for hundreds of years.

Jaenelle is the potential Witch who can make things better and end the abuses practiced by the Queens who have gotten darker and darker. But when she makes her first appearance in the story, she is only a seven-year-old child who is in a terrible situation and who uses powers that are almost beyond comprehension to travel to many worlds.

Jaenelle is an intriguing character. She is young but already knows so much about evil and betrayal. She has a sweetness and a deep curiosity and a tremendous ability to love. She also has a deep anger at what is happening around her.

When she is twelve, Daemon meets her and recognizes that she will be his Queen. He's determined to protect her and shelter her which isn't easy for a man who is under control of one of the most evil and powerful Queens. But Daemon has powers of his own too which might be enough to keep this beautiful child safe.

The world building is intriguing as we see a society that is becoming more and more corrupt and more and more disconnected from the land. We see Queens who are quick to kill any potential rival which has the effect of diluting the power and magic. We see intrigue and treachery and a child who inspires those who love her to be better than they thought they could be.

I can't wait to read more in this series.

Favorite Quote:
"We are what we are. Nothing more, nothing less.There is good and evil among every kind of people. It's the evil among us who rule now."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

YA Book Review: Wildcard by Marie Lu

Wildcard
Author: Marie Lu
Series: Warcross (Book 2)
Publication: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (September 18, 2018)

Description: Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo's new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she's always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo's grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone's put a bounty on Emika's head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn't all that he seems--and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take dI lown the man she loves?

In this explosive sequel to the New York Times bestselling Warcross, Marie Lu delivers an addictive finale that will hold you captive till the very last page.

My Thoughts: Emika Chen has found out the real reason that Hideo Tanaka created the NeuroLink and she doesn't agree with his reasoning or his plans. But it is very hard for one woman - even a Warcross champion - to bring down a multi-billionaire, especially one she loves.

Emika isn't quite alone. She has her team from the Warcross game and she has the dubious assistance of Zero and the Blackcoats. She finds it more than difficult to trust Zero and she has no faith that he wants the same results she does.

When she learns Zero and the Blackcoats real agenda, she has to play along to stay alive. She is helped by Jax who is secretly working against the Blackcoats' agenda.

This story has many twists and turns. Characters motivations are hidden and what they say isn't often what they mean. Emika has to be tricky herself if she wants to protect humanity. I loved the virtual worlds created in the story. And Sasuke's story made my cry. I liked Emika's character and her sense of optimism and determination to save what was good and build a better future.

Fans of video games, science fiction fans, and even romance fans will enjoy this wonderful story.

Favorite Quote:
Immediately, I slip into the closest hidden crevice I can find -- a row of tall recycle bins. But the guards have already disappeared down the hall. I squeeze my eyes shut for a moment and lean my head back against the wall, then pull down my mask so I can take in some deep gasps of air. A sheen of cold sweat covers my entire body.

In my next life, I'm going to be an accountant.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

FP/TT: Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posted the first paragraph of a book she is reading or planning to read. In 2018, Vicki from I'd Rather Be at the Beach is taking over this meme.

Here's mine:
I am Tersa the Weaver, Tersa the Liar, Tersa the Fool.
 

Link up here. It is very easy to play along:
  • 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 & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.
Here's mine:
Saetan stood at the reading lectern, the candle-lights spilling a soft glow around him as he leafed through an old Craft text. He didn't turn at the quiet knock on his study door. A swift psychic probe told him who was there.
This week I am featuring Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop. I am a big fan of her Others series but haven't yet read any of her other books. Since her next book will be added to this series, I thought it was time to catch up. Here is the description from Amazon:
In the first novel in New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop’s beloved Black Jewels Trilogy, a race of witches and warlocks whose power is channeled through magical jewels will meet their once and future queen…

Seven hundred years ago, a Black Widow witch saw an ancient prophecy come to life in her web of dreams and visions. Now the Dark Kingdom readies itself for the arrival of its Queen, a Witch who will wield more power than even the High Lord of Hell himself. But she is still young, still open to influence—and corruption.

Whoever controls the Queen controls the darkness. Three men—sworn enemies—know this. And they know the power that hides behind the blue eyes of an innocent young girl. And so begins a ruthless game of politics and intrigue, magic and betrayal, where the weapons are hate and love—and the prize could be terrible beyond imagining...

Monday, December 24, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Dec. 24, 2018)

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.

Other Than Reading... 

This was another quiet week. The weather has been warmer than normal though we did have just a dusting of snow Saturday morning when I got up. I was glad that the shortest day of the year was this past week. I'm looking forward to the days getting longer. Needing lights on in my living room at 4PM is not a favorite thing. I think we're expecting more snow this weekend which may give us a white Christmas which had been in doubt earlier.

I bought a little Christmas tree this week. It is a live one that can be planted when Spring comes. It is giving off a nice scent of pine in our living room. After my brother and I went out to lunch of Thursday, we stopped at Walmart and bought a string of little multicolor lights to decorate it. My three foot tree is now strung with 21 feet of lights because they didn't have any shorter sets. 

My brother told me yesterday that he had stopped off at a local butcher shop with our dad's recipe for Polish sausage and asked if they would make a batch. I grew up on that sausage at Christmas, Easter and other holidays and have missed it. No one else in town makes the same flavor sausage even if they call it Polish sausage.

I remember my Dad getting the recipe from the butcher shop in his childhood neighborhood and making the sausage for years after that butcher shop closed. However, we were both sure that the recipe had been long lost after my dad grew too old to make it and then passed away. My brother was digging through some old recipe books and found the recipe recently. However since neither of us wanted to go out and buy a meat grinder and tackle the recipe, I thought our days of sausage were over. The shop is too busy to make it before Christmas but thinks that we'll have nine pounds of the sausage by Jan. 3. I can't wait to see if it tastes the way I remember.

Read Last Week

If you can't wait until the review shows up on my blog, reviews are posted to LibraryThing and Goodreads as soon as I write them (usually right after I finish reading a book.)
  • The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye (Jan. 8) - This historical is a bit of a mystery but also a lot about race relations in Portland in the 1920s. My review will be posted on Jan. 5.
  • The Wrong Foot by Stephanie Burgis (Mine) - a short story Christmas present from the author to her newsletter subscribers. I won't be reviewing this one on my blog.
  • The Promise of Change by Jo Ann Allen Boyc & Debbie Levy (Jan. 8) - This is a middle grade memoir in verse about one of the first black kids to integrate a white high school. My review will be posted on Jan. 8.
  • Untouchable by Jayne Anne Krentz (Jan. 8) - The latest romantic suspense title from this prolific author finishes a trilogy. My review will be posted on Jan. 9.
  • A Merciful Fate by Kendra Elliot (Jan. 15) - This is the latest in the Mercy Kilpatrick romantic suspense series. My review will be posted on Jan. 8.
  • Tear It Down by Nick Petrie (Jan. 15) - The latest in the Peter Ash series of mysteries. I enjoyed this book with its fast-paced action enough to buy the earlier books in the series. My review will be posted on Jan. 10.
  • Marked by Stars by Forthright (Mine) - This novella is the most recent in the Amaranthine urban fantasy series. I won't be reviewing it on my blog. 
  • The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi (Jan. 15) - This YA begins a new historical fantasy series. I enjoyed the wonderful characters. My review will be posted on Jan. 12.
Currently
Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee is a YA Science Fiction/Fantasy that draws its inspiration from Korean mythology. I'm at about 46% of this story.

Next Week
Reviews Posted
  • Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch - The first book in the Rivers of London urban fantasy/police procedural series
  • Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven - Epic fantasy/romance recommended by one of my favorite urban fantasy authors
  • Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal - ghosts and WWI by one of my favorite authors
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

TBR Pile:




New Review:

What was your week like?

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Book Review: Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal

Ghost Talkers
Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
Publication: Tor Books; Reprint edition (August 8, 2017)

Description: Ghost Talkers is a brilliant historical fantasy novel from acclaimed author Mary Robinette Kowal featuring the mysterious spirit corps and their heroic work in World War I.

Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Harford, an intelligence officer. Ginger is a medium for the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force.

Each soldier heading for the front is conditioned to report to the mediums of the Spirit Corps when they die so the Corps can pass instant information about troop movements to military intelligence.

Ginger and her fellow mediums contribute a great deal to the war efforts, so long as they pass the information through appropriate channels. While Ben is away at the front, Ginger discovers the presence of a traitor. Without the presence of her fiancĂ© to validate her findings, the top brass thinks she's just imagining things. Even worse, it is clear that the Spirit Corps is now being directly targeted by the German war effort. Left to her own devices, Ginger has to find out how the Germans are targeting the Spirit Corps and stop them. This is a difficult and dangerous task for a woman of that era, but this time both the spirit and the flesh are willing…

My Thoughts: This was a wonderful historical fantasy set during World War I. Ginger Stuyvesant is an American heiress who is engaged to Captain Ben Harford, an English intelligence officer. Ginger is also a medium and one of the women who take reports from soldiers who die in battle and then watch them go into the light. Their skills and their location is a secret from the Germans since the intelligence they gather helps in the war effort.

She and Ben are harassed by a drunken soldier one evening when they are out together and Ben fights him off. Imagine Ginger's surprise when the same soldier's ghost comes to her the next day to tell her that he was murdered after overhearing threats to the Spirit Corps. When Ginger brings this news to her commanding officer, he is quick to dismiss her information. However, Ben has also been picking up rumors of a traitor in the ranks. When he is murdered, he comes to give his final report but refuses to go on to the light until he finds the one who killed him and the traitor who endangers Ginger and the rest of the Spirit Corps.

She and Ben are in a time crunch. The longer he stays, the worse his memory gets as his personality fragments. And Ginger is torn between her loss and broken heart, and the best good for Ben. They need to retrace his steps and track down the clues that he found to the traitor when he doesn't remember any of it.

I thought the setting and time period with its endemic chauvinism and racism was well done. One of Ginger's colleagues is West Indian. She's the one who developed the technique that has the dead coming to them to report. However, her skin color makes it easy for the commanding officer to ignore her contributions. Another key character is an Indian truck driver who hides the fact that he is also a medium.

The romance between Ben and Ginger was wonderfully realized. I was heartbroken knowing that the relationship had to end. This was a great story filled with memorable characters.

Favorite Quote:
Without a circle, in the fragile state that she was in, her danger of losing her grip on her body was much increased. But she couldn't let him wander without someone to anchor him, and they had to find out who killed him. "I'll need to be able to hear you while we're in there."

He groaned a little. "I would much prefer it if you weren't right."

"But, darling, I always am. It would be a difficult habit to break now." She raised her hand and knocked on the door.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Friday Memes: Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal

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:
16 July 1916
"The Germans were flanking us at Delville Wood when I died."

Ginger Stuyvesant had a dim awareness of her body repeating the soldier's words to the team's stenographer. She tried to hold that awareness at bay, along with the dozens of other spirit circles working for the British Army.
Friday 56:
Helen asked, "Do you need to take a break?"

"No." Ginger forced a laugh, even though everyone in the circle would be able to feel how shaken she was. Sometimes, external appearances could help shape her internal response. "We've only just begun. But I am happy that it is your turn to lead."
This week I am spotlighting Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal. This historical fantasy has been on my TBR mountain for is while and is the only book by the author that I have not read. Here is the description from Amazon:
Ghost Talkers is a brilliant historical fantasy novel from acclaimed author Mary Robinette Kowal featuring the mysterious spirit corps and their heroic work in World War I.

Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Harford, an intelligence officer. Ginger is a medium for the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force.
Each soldier heading for the front is conditioned to report to the mediums of the Spirit Corps when they die so the Corps can pass instant information about troop movements to military intelligence.

Ginger and her fellow mediums contribute a great deal to the war efforts, so long as they pass the information through appropriate channels. While Ben is away at the front, Ginger discovers the presence of a traitor. Without the presence of her fiancĂ© to validate her findings, the top brass thinks she's just imagining things. Even worse, it is clear that the Spirit Corps is now being directly targeted by the German war effort. Left to her own devices, Ginger has to find out how the Germans are targeting the Spirit Corps and stop them. This is a difficult and dangerous task for a woman of that era, but this time both the spirit and the flesh are willing…

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Book Review: Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven

Phoenix Unbound
Author: Grace Draven
Series: The Fallen Empire
Publication: Ace (September 25, 2018)

Description: A woman with power over fire and illusion and the enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire's capital--her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village's tithe has been the same woman. Gilene's sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.

But this year is different.

Azarion, the Empire's most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion--and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. Unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.

To protect her family and village, she will abandon everything to return to the Empire--and burn once more.

My Thoughts: This is an epic fantasy set in a cruel empire. There are two main characters - Gilene and Azarion.

We meet Gilene when she is sent from her village as the annual sacrifice demanded by the Emperor. She along with many other women form other villages are destined to be burned as a sacrifice as a part of the Rite of Spring. Gilene has been sent for five years and only managed to survive because she has two magical gifts - the power of illusion and the power of fire. She manages to escape the burning each year and use her power of illusion to escape the city.

Azarion is a pit gladiator who has fought in the pits for ten years. He was betrayed by his cousin and sold into slavery. He has endured untold horrors both in the pits and at the hands of the Empress who is a cruel and vicious sadist. His ability to see through Gilene's illusions has given him the opportunity to escape his captivity and return to his home.

Azarion blackmails Gilene into helping him escape and then kidnaps her to take to his home where he needs her ability with fire to reclaim his rightful position in the Savatar. Gilene fights him every step of the way because she needs to return to her village to protect her family from harm.

Gilene and Azarion do come to love and respect each other as they go through all kinds of troubles on their way to Azarion's home and even more trouble once they arrive there. If Azarion can win back his position as the leader of his clan, he has a plan to bring down the evil empire that enslaved him.

I enjoyed this fantasy. I liked the mythology of the Savatar's fire goddess whose power Gilene manifests even though she doesn't believe in any of the gods. I liked the way that their romance grew slowly. I liked the way Gilene began to feel at home in Azarion's clan. The only thing I couldn't quite understand was Gilene's loyalty to her family and her village when neither returned her loyalty and, in fact, treated her badly.

Fans of epic fantasy and romance will enjoy this wonderful story.

Favorite Quote:
They were an odd pair, the Savatar Pit gladiator and the Beroe fire witch.

Pair. The word sent a sharp pain through her chest.

They weren't a pair and never would be. His place was here, the new ataman of Clan Kestrel. Hers was to the west in a village full of secrets, cowards, and her vulnerable family. 
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Book Review: Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

Midnight Riot
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Series: Rivers of London (Book 1)
Publication: Del Rey; Original edition (February 1, 2011)

Description: Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

My Thoughts: MIDNIGHT RIOT is a London police procedural with magic. Newly minted Police Constable Peter Grant finds himself working with Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale when he stumbles on a murder and meets a ghost who is an eye witness to the crime. Nightingale happens to be the only wizard working for the London Police.

Peter becomes his apprentice and begins to learn magic. He is also busy investigating a series of very odd crimes and meeting many of the supernatural residents of London. While investigating, he finds himself drafted to settle a dispute between Father Thames and Mother Thames and crushing on one of Mother Thames daughters while still wanting to have a romance with fellow constable Leslie.

The story is nicely complex with various ghosts and the Punch and Judy show playing a role.

Peter tells the story and  has a very distinct and snarky voice. I loved the combination police practices and magic. I liked Peter's curiosity and the way he accepts that magic is real. I liked what we learned about Peter's background as the son of a jazz-playing addict and an African mother.

This was a great beginning to a different sort of paranormal mystery series. I can't wait to read more.

Favorite Quote:
"Is this where you tell me that there's a secret branch of the Met whose task it is to tackle ghosts, ghouls, faeries, demons, witches and warlocks, elves and goblins..." I said. "You can stop me before I run out of supernatural creatures."

"You haven't  even scratched the surface," said Nightingale.

"Aliens?" I had to ask.

"Not yet."
I bought this one Dec. 30, 2013. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

First Paragraph/Teaser Tuesday: Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posted the first paragraph of a book she is reading or planning to read. In 2018, Vicki from I'd Rather Be at the Beach is taking over this meme.

Here's mine:
For Gilene, spring was the season neither of rain nor of planting, but of suffering.
Link up here. It is very easy to play along:
  • 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 & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.
Here's mine:
Her jaw flexed with the failed effort to hold back a pained whine. He didn't think she'd answer until she inhaled a careful breath. "It isn't the fire that burns me; it's the magic I use to summon it. It comes with a price."
    This week I am spotlighting Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven, This book was recommended by Ilona Andrews. Here is the description from Amazon:
    A woman with power over fire and illusion and the enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

    Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire's capital--her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village's tithe has been the same woman. Gilene's sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.

    But this year is different.

    Azarion, the Empire's most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion--and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. Unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.

    To protect her family and village, she will abandon everything to return to the Empire--and burn once more.

    Monday, December 17, 2018

    It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Dec. 17, 2018)

    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.

    Other Than Reading...

    This past week was lovely. The days were bright and sunny and the temperatures were running about 20 degrees warmer than usual. I thought it was great but snowmobilers and skiiers aren't particularly happy.

    I had a great reading week and enjoyed all of the review books that I read. I have made a good start to my January reviews. I also got out and exercised at Curves every day this week. I didn't do much other walking but still hit at least 5000 steps a day.

    My brother and I got our Christmas present from our California cousins. They always sent us a gift package from Omaha Steaks. We send them a variety of local smoked fish from Northern Waters Smokehouse here in Duluth. We decided to try some of the salmon (which was probably left from last year's gift box since we seldom eat salmon) by making a sheet pan dinner with salmon, roasted potatoes and roasted green beans. We learned that we needed to partially cook the green beans since they were still quite crunchy. I had the leftover salmon on Saturday and made the potatoes and green beans on a sheet pan. This time the green beans were great. We both liked the convenience of a sheet pan dinner and are looking for other recipes to try.

    It is hard to believe that Christmas is only 10 days away. My brother got his schedule to learn that he's working until 10 PM on Christmas Eve. This works out fine since we don't travel or do anything special on Christmas Eve. Our celebration is all on Christmas Day.

    Read Last Week

    If you can't wait until the review shows up on my blog, reviews are posted to LibraryThing and Goodreads as soon as I write them (usually right after I finish reading a book.)
    • Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven - Epic fantasy/romance. My review will be posted on Dec. 20.
    • The Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal - a favorite author. My review will be posted on Dec. 22. 
    • Wildcard by Marie Lu - YA science fiction/thriller. My review will be posted on Dec. 26.
    • Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop - Dark epic fantasy the begins the Black Jewels series. My review will be posted on Dec. 27.
    • The Wild Dead by Carrie Vaughn - a post-apocalyptic mystery. My review will be posted on Dec. 29.
    • Inventing Victoria by Tonya Bolden (Jan. 8) - a YA story of a young black girl who remakes herself to gain a better future in the 1880s in Washington, DC. My review will be posted on Jan. 1.
    • The Hangman's Secret by Laura Joh Rowland (Jan. 8) - a Victorian mystery starring a female photographer, a noble homosexual, and a street urchin who solve mysteries. My review will be posted on Jan. 2.
    • The Au Pair by Emma Rous (Jan. 8) - A story told in two interwoven timelines about a young woman trying to solve the mystery of her identity and the au pair who has the answers but desperately doesn't want to share them. My review will be posted on Jan. 3.
    Currently
    The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye (Jan. 8) - Review book from Edelweiss about a white gun moll from the East Coast finding refuge in a hotel for blacks in Portland (I think) in 1921. So far, I'm drowning in period slang and trying to keep the past and the now sections of the story straight.

    Next Week
    • This Promise of Change by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy (Jan. 8) - YA nonfiction about the Civil Rights movement.
    • Untouchable by Jayne Ann Krentz (Jan. 8) - Romantic suspense from one of my favorite authors.
    • Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee (Jan. 15) - Middle grade fantasy
    • Tear It Down by Nick Petrie (Jan. 15) - thriller from Edelweiss from an author new to me
    • The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi (Jan. 15) - YA fantasy from an author I've enjoyed in the past.
    • A Merciful Fate by Kendra Elliot (Jan. 15) - latest in the Mercy Kilpatrick series of thrillers
    Reviews Posted


    Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
    Free Kindle Books:
    Since I have to wait until March for a new book by Anne Bishop, I decided to read her earlier series. I enjoyed Daughter of the Blood and bought the next two in the Black Jewels series.
    What was your week like?