Saturday, November 28, 2020

ARC Review: The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

The Cousins

Author:
Karen M. McManus
Publication: Delacorte Press (December 1, 2020)

Description: From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying comes your next obsession. You'll never feel the same about family again.

Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they've never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they're surprised . . . and curious.

Their parents are all clear on one point--not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother's good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it's immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious--and dark--their family's past is.

The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn't over--and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.

My Thoughts: Family secrets come out when three cousins who barely know each other are all invited to Gull Cove Island to work for a resort. The island is the home of the grandmother who disinherited all four of her children before the cousins were born. Each one has a different reason to want to reconcile or at least get to know their grandmother.

Milly Story-Takahashi is the daughter of Allison, the only girl. She is named for her grandmother and has a difficult relationship with her own mother who seems to have unreasonable expectations for her. Milly would like to get to know her grandmother.

Aubrey Story is the daughter of Adam who is the oldest Story child. He was always his mother's favorite but hasn't had a very successful life since he was disinherited. He wrote a book which gave him fifteen minutes of fame but has done nothing since. He lets his wife who is a nurse support him while he dwells on his own sense of entitlement and keeps putting his daughter down. Now, he has done something that Aubrey is finding hard to forgive and it is a secret she's carried with her to the island.

Jonah is supposed to be the son of Anders Story. He is an imposter who has dreams of revenge since Anders convinced his parents to take part in an investment scheme that cost Jonah all his college fund and has almost driven his parents to bankruptcy and the near loss of their business. 

When they arrive at the island, they find that their grandmother wasn't the one who invited them to come and really wants them all to leave. They also begin to have a number of questions about their family.

Part of the story also includes Milly's mother Allison's activities the summer of 1996 which laid the seeds of all that comes later. 

This was a wonderfully twisty mystery with intriguing characters. I enjoyed trying to solve the mystery along with the cousins. The story had a nice mixture of suspense and development of the characters of the cousins. All of them grew and changed over the month they spent on the island before it all come to a fiery conclusion.

Favorite Quote:
There's something dangerously seductive about Story secrets; they snake their way into your heart and soul, burrowing so deep that the very idea of exposing them feels like losing a part of yourself. 
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Friday Memes: The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

 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:
"I'm late for dinner again, but this time it's not my fault. There's a mansplainer in my way.
Friday 56: 
"I think it was excessive," Theresa Ryan is saying. She's in a room adjacent to the kitchen, and from my spot in the hallway I can see an entire wall of built-in bookshelves. "We've been down this road before. You think you're getting rid of one problem, but all you're doing is creating a dozen more."
This week I am spotlighting The Cousins by Karen M. McManus. This is from my review stack and is her latest YA thriller. Here is the description from Amazon:
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying comes your next obsession. You'll never feel the same about family again.

Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they've never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they're surprised . . . and curious.

Their parents are all clear on one point--not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother's good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it's immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious--and dark--their family's past is.

The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn't over--and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

ARC Review: Murder Is a Must by Marty Wingate

Murder Is a Must

Author:
Marty Wingate
Series: A First Edition Library Mystery Book 2
Publication: Berkley (December 1, 2020)

Description: Determined to make the First Edition Library a success, Hayley Burke wasn’t expecting to have to solve an old friend’s murder in this all-new mystery from USA Today bestselling author Marty Wingate.

Hayley Burke, curator of Lady Fowling's collection of first edition mysteries, is settling into her position at the First Edition Library in Middlebank House. She's even made progress with Lady Fowling's former secretary, the ornery Miss Woolgar. The women are busily preparing for an exhibition that will showcase Lady Fowling's life and letters. Hayley knows the exhibition is a huge undertaking and decides, against her better judgement, to hire Oona Atherton, her former boss from the Jane Austen Centre to help with the planning.

Oona is known for being difficult, but all seems to be going swimmingly until she and Hayley uncover a one-page letter that alludes to a priceless edition of MURDER MUST ADVERTISE signed by several Golden Age of Mystery authors. Oona feels this book could be the focal point of the exhibition and becomes obsessed with finding it.

When they find clues that appear to point to the book being somewhere in the First Edition Library, Oona is certain she's unraveled the mystery and texts Hayley the good news, but upon arriving back at Middlebank, Hayley finds her old boss dead at the bottom of the stairs. Did her discovery of the rare book get her killed or was it some angry shadow from her past? Hayley must read between the lines to catch a malicious murderer.

My Thoughts: Hayley Burke is determined to make the First Editions Library a success and relevant to today's fans of mystery novels. She is beginning a series of literary salons. But the big event to increase the Library's membership and reputation is an exhibition.

Hayley needs to find a perfect location and an exhibitions manager. Her first choice of venue has a surprise cancellation that Hayley is quick to jump on and an exhibitions manager that Hayley worked with previously is able to take the job. Oona Atherton is a wonderful, creative exhibitions manager but she is also a severe taskmaster who makes many enemies as she finishes her creative exhibitions. Hayley herself once with with Oona and knows her faults but thinks she's the best choice considering the need for a quick turnaround.

Hayley has also found a clue in one of the Library's books that indicates that there is a rare first edition of  MURDER MUST ADVERTISE by Dorothy L. Sayers hidden somewhere which contains the autographs of all of the members of the Detection Club from 1933 including Sayers and Agatha Christie among others. The book would make a fine centerpiece for the exhibit - if only Hayley can find it. 

But then Oona is found murdered and Hayley has a murder to solve, a new exhibition manager to hire, her boyfriend's two daughters to meet, and various other problems to solve including a fire caused by her ex-husband at her daughter's rental flat. 

I enjoyed the many interesting characters in this one from an exhibition manager who is rather famous for his disasters to a computer geek with an obsessive personality but a great eye for detail. I enjoyed Hayley's new romance with Val which has many other obstacles than his two daughters disapproval of a a new woman in their father's life.

This was an engaging and entertaining new episode in this series. I look forward to more of Hayley's adventures. 

Favorite Quote:
I walked out and took a gulp of cold air as an icy mizzle began to fall. I should ring Arthur Fish. I should try again to contact Zeno's other two references. I should figure out what to do about Bess and Becky. I should have a talk with Clara. I should find that first edition. I should suss out who murdered Oona. But couldn't I do all of that in the morning?

I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Audiobook: Echoes of Honor by David Weber

Echoes of Honor
Author: David Weber
Series: Honor Harrington Book 8
Narrator: Allyson Johnson
Publication: Audible Studios (Dec. 15, 2009)
Length: 27 hours and 15 minutes

Description: BACK FROM HELL

For eight bloody years, the Star Kingdom of Manticore and its allies have taken the war to the vastly more powerful People's Republic of Haven, and Commodore Honor Harrington has been in the forefront of that war.

But now Honor has fallen, captured by the Peep Navy, turned over to the forces of State Security ... and executed on the interstellar network's nightly news.

The Manticoran Alliance is stunned and infuriated by Honor's death and grimly resolved to avenge it. Yet their military is over-extended and the People's Republic is poised to take the offensive once more, this time with a new strategy, new weapons, a new command team, and a whole new determination to win. The war is about to enter a phase of unprecedented ferocity . . . and the Alliance is on the short end of the stick.

But even as powerful Peep fleets hurtle towards their objectives, neither they nor the Alliance are aware of events occurring on a distant, isolated, inescapable prison planet called Hell. For what no one knows, not even State Security, is that Honor Harrington is not dead. She and a handful of her people are trapped on Hell, and determined to disprove the Peep boast that no one can ever escape it. Honor Harrington is going home, and taking her people with her... even if she has to conquer Hell to do it.

My Thoughts: This episode divides into three separate threads. The first thread deals with Honor trying to engineer her escape from Hell along with almost 400,000 fellow prisoners. The second deals with the effects of Honor's death on Grayson and Manticore. The third thread deals with the Peeps getting a new, effective military leader in Esther McQueen and its new program of going on the offensive against the Manticoran Alliance.

On Hell, Honor is busy making plans for capturing enough tonnage to remove herself and all her fellow prisoners from the planet, convening courts martian for the many guards who used the prisoners as their personal toys, and retraining the prisoners whose military knowledge is decades out of date to crew the ships they manage to steal.

On Grayson and Manticore, there are state funerals and especially on Grayson a strong desire to get revenge on those who murdered their steadholder. Also the question of what to do with Honor's fortune and estate needs to be settled so that Benjamin's reforms aren't being derailed. We also see how Honor's parents and her closest friends are dealing with her loss.

On Haven, Esther McQueen is building herself a place on the Committee for Public Safety as she gets control of the Navy and makes it a more effective force. There is a lot of in-fighting because no one on the Committee can trust anyone else and everyone has their own political agenda. McQueen's plans to lead to Peep forces bringing substantial losses to Alliance forces and holding but they run into some problems when they try to regain planets that are testing grounds for new and effective weapons being developed in secret by Manticore and its allies.

I liked the way the various threads of this story were woven together. The pacing was fast even though the story was very long. My audiobook spanned more than 25 hours!

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

ARC Review: Grave War by Kalayna Price

Grave War

Author:
Kalayna Price
Series: An Alex Craft Novel
Publication: Ace (November 24, 2020)

Description: Grave witch Alex Craft is getting pulled back into deadly fae politics in the thrilling new novel in the USA Today bestselling series.

Grave witch Alex Craft has forged an uneasy truce with the world of Faerie, but she's still been trying to maintain at least some semblance of a normal life in the human world. So it's safe to say that stepping up as the lead investigator for the Fae Investigation Bureau was not a career path she ever anticipated taking.

When an explosion at the Eternal Bloom threatens to upend the fae who make their home in our world, Alex finds herself in charge of the most far-reaching investigation she's ever tackled. And it's only her first week on the job. With the threats mounting and cut off from half her allies, Alex can't wait on the sidelines and hope the fae's conflicts stay contained within their borders.

My Thoughts: Alex Craft finds herself beset with problems both personal and political in this final novel in the series. 

The story opens with Alex starting her new job as Agent in Charge of the FIB (Fae Investigation Bureau). There she finds some resistance from her second in command and she also finds she had been assigned a troll named Tem as her bodyguard. She is also getting gifts of red roses with notes addressed to Lexi. The only ones who ever called her Lexi were the insane Winter Queen and her murderous nephew Ryese. The Queen is dead and Alex's boyfriend Falin is now the Winter King but Ryese escaped and is somewhere still causing trouble.

The next thing she knows there are explosions at the Eternal Bloom which manage to destroy the door into faerie and strand the fae left on this side. Without a way to get to faerie, the fae will all fade away. Alex needs to find a way to get the door open again. But the door in Nekros isn't the only one that is closed. Most of the doors to faerie have been destroyed and the rest are closed from the fae side. 

Because Alex is a planeweaver, she does still have some access to faerie through the Shadow Court. She learns that faerie has its own problems. It is in danger of failing. Time is critical to find a way to save faerie. But the fae aren't trusting sorts and gathering allies is not an easy proposition.

The story was filled with all sorts of action. Alex learns secrets about herself and her father that will change her life and change faerie forever. This was a great ending to Alex Craft's story and a fun urban fantasy story, 

Favorite Quote:
"I don't know what I'm doing," I said, my voice sounding slightly strangled, as if even my throat resisted admitting the fact.

"That isn't atypical for you," Death said without hesitation.

"Hey!" I sat up, but despite myself, a small smile broke through.

At my fake outrage, a lazy smile crossed Death's lips and he lifted a dark eyebrow. "Am I wrong?"

I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, November 23, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Nov. 23, 2020)

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 a nice, quiet week. New restrictions were put into place last Friday closing indoor dining and gyms among some other places. Beauty shops and churches are still open. Schools are open if the district isn't too badly affected. Duluth's school went to all virtual learning for all grades on Friday too. Middle School and High School had already been digital. The most distressing thing to me is the state of the hospitals. They are nearing capacity being around 95% full which is concerning but even more concerning is the percentage of staff that are out with the virus or quarantining because of suspected contact. 

I haven't really changed my patterns. I'm still staying at home most of the time with only an infrequent grocery store trip maybe once a week. My brother keeps telling me about staffing at his job. Frequently there are people who don't show up. When he left one evening two-hours before closing, there was only one cashier remaining because four others had called in. 

We are planning our usual quiet Thanksgiving. With Target closed Thanksgiving Day, we'll be able to have our Thanksgiving dinner on the actual day. It has been some years since that was true. Bill does work until 10:30 on Wednesday and starts again at 7:15 on Friday. I don't think Black Friday will have the same impact this year as usual. Stores have been having sales all month and I doubt many people are eager to be part of a large crowd waiting until the doors open for special deals. 

I hope all of those who are celebrating Thanksgiving this week are going to have a wonderful, safe time. 

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.)
  • Deck the Hounds by David Rosenfelt (Mine) -- Holiday mystery from deep in the Andy Carpenter series was a fun read. My review will be posted on Dec. 26.
  • Written in Red by Anne Bishop (Audiobook) - reread
  • All the Colors of Night by Jayne Ann Krentz (Jan. 5) -- Second in the Fogg Lake series which combines romance, paranormal, and mystery in an entertaining way. My review will be posted on Dec. 29.
Currently
Next Week
Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

Bought:
Review:
What was your week like?


Saturday, November 21, 2020

Book Review: A Brush with the Moon by Raquel Lyon

A Brush with the Moon

Author:
Raquel Lyon
Series: Foxblood Book 1
Publication: Self-Published (November 28, 2010)

Description: One moment is all it takes to change your life. For Sophie, it happened the day the fox attacked her.

All Sophie ever wanted was a way out. Only a few weeks ago, she was a quiet art student with an overbearing mother and no higher dream than starting university and reuniting with her BFF, but destiny intervenes in the form of a fox bite.

If being attacked by a rabid animal isn't freaky enough, her new town has secrets. People are dying, and Sophie feels she is being watched. Then there's the arrogant and annoyingly sexy Sebastian with his plummy accent and come-to-bed eyes creeping her out. She should stay well away, but then he does live in the spooky manor house, and curiosity is her middle name.

My Thoughts: Sophie is looking forward to getting out of her dead-end town and studying art at a nearby university. She already has plans to live with her best friend Beth who has found a nice apartment above the local undertaker. But a fox bite changes a lot of her plans.

Beth has always had vivid dreams but now her dreams seem to be turning into premonitions. One of the first guys she meets at the university is Sebastian whose eyes have been haunting her dreams for years. Sebastian and his cousin Connor are both attending the university though they are a few years older than Sophie and her friends.

Sebastian introduces her to a whole new world filled with werewolves, vampires, demons and other paranormals. He tells her that she has been chosen by the goddess Tokala to fulfill an epic destiny. Sophie isn't sure what to believe but she is developing strange new powers of her own.

I liked the worldbuilding in this one where their are different worlds each with different varieties of paranormals. It seems that Earth has become something of a battleground where they are all fighting for power. 

I didn't really care for Sophie. I didn't like the way she treated her mother or her best friend. I also couldn't quite buy in to the massive personality change she exhibited in the story. She didn't seem like a very nice person and I wondered why the goddess had chosen her for a great destiny. I also thought that she hooked up with the wrong cousin. Connor showed caring and concern for her while Sebastian went off without a word and just left her behind and confused. He also seemed to be careless of her feelings and seemed to find it easy to dismiss her when he had other things to do. 

This book is the beginning of a trilogy and the trilogy is part of a much larger sequence of stories set in the same fictional universe that only loosely resembles the real world.

Favorite Quote:
Where was the young student with dreams of being an artist? She certainly wasn't visible in the mirror before me. I had secretly undergone a complete metamorphosis into bitch lady of the manor, and I wasn't sure if I was wholly comfortable with that. It felt like a pretty lonely position, and loneliness is scarier than any monster.

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

Friday, November 20, 2020

Friday Memes: A Brush with the Moon by Raquel Lyon

 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:
"Soph? Sophie! I can tell you're daydreaming again, you know." Beth's voice echoed through the receiver. "Do you think you could quit playing with the fairies for just one minute and listen to me? This is important!"
Friday 56: 
"Well, it sounds to me like he came on to you...and it's totally not fair. You've had a nightclub owner and the hottest, richest guy in town after you this week, and I haven't had a sniff. What's going on? It's not normal. It's like the Twilight Zone around here."
This week I'm spotlighting A Brush with the Moon by Raquel Lyon. This is a free Kindle book and starts a series. Here is the description from Amazon:
One moment is all it takes to change your life. For Sophie, it happened the day the fox attacked her.

All Sophie ever wanted was a way out. Only a few weeks ago, she was a quiet art student with an overbearing mother and no higher dream than starting university and reuniting with her BFF, but destiny intervenes in the form of a fox bite.

If being attacked by a rabid animal isn't freaky enough, her new town has secrets. People are dying, and Sophie feels she is being watched. Then there's the arrogant and annoyingly sexy Sebastian with his plummy accent and come-to-bed eyes creeping her out. She should stay well away, but then he does live in the spooky manor house, and curiosity is her middle name.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Audiobook: Cauldron of Ghosts by David Weber and Eric Flint

Cauldron of Ghosts

Author:
David Weber and Eric Flint
Series: Crown of Slaves - Honor Harrington Universe Book 3
Narrator: Peter Larkin
Publication: Audible Studios (April 8, 2014)
Length: 22 hours and 53 minutes

Description: The Mesan Alignment: a centuries-old cabal that seeks to impose its vision of a society dominated by genetic rank onto the human race. Now the conspiracy stands exposed by spies Anton Zilwicki and Victor Cachat—one an agent of Honor Harrington’s Star Kingdom of Manticore, the other a Havenite operative. The outing of the Alignment has turned the galaxy’s political framework topsy-turvy. Old coalitions have disintegrated. New alliances have been born.

For starters, the long and hard-fought war between the Republic of Haven and the Star Empire of Manticore is not only over, but these bitter enemies have formed a new pact. Their common foe: the Mesan Alignment itself.

But more information is needed to bring the Alignment out of the shadows. Now, defying the odds and relying on genetic wizardry themselves for a disguise, Zilwicki and Cachat return to Mesa—only to discover that even they have underestimated the Alignment’s ruthlessness and savagery.

Soon they are on the run in Mesa’s underworld, not only hunted by the Alignment but threatened by the exploding conflict on the planet between Mesa’s overlords and the brutalized slaves and descendants of slaves who have suffered under their rule for so long. But if Zilwicki and Cachat succeed in rooting out the ancient conspiracy, a great evil may be finally removed from the galaxy—and on a long-oppressed planet, freedom may finally dawn.

My Thoughts: This episode concentrates on Zilwicki and Cachat's efforts on Mesa to discover more about the Mesan Alignment. A lot of time is spent learning about the culture of the planet which is divided into three groups: the full citizens, the seccies who are descendants of manumitted slaves, and the slaves. The concentration is on the seccies. 

The problem is that the Mesan Alignment needs to get its essential people off the planet without alerting anyone to their disappearance. The solution they decide to implement is to execute a number of terrorist attacks which they can blame on the Audubon Ballroom and Manticore. The result is that the law forces and army of the Mesan planet which are composed of full citizens blame the seccies who they claim are sheltering the terrorists for the attacks and decide to teach them a lesson.

What they don't know is that the seccies have been gathering armament for years because they feared just such an event. And now they have the assistance of Cachat and Thandi Palane to help them defeat the invaders. Zilwicki escapes to Manticore to try to get help before the seccies lose the war and he loses his friends Cachat and Palane now knowing that Admiral Henke also has plans to visit Mesa along with her fleet.

The story also follows the journey of Zachariah McBryde who is one of the people the Mesan Alignment is evacuating to their new stronghold. He seems to be starting to have some second thoughts about the goals of the Alignment but is still generally in agreement with the master plan.

There are a number of other subplots including the revolutions the Alignment is fomenting on Verge planets and in the Maya System. 

All in all, a long but interesting entry into the Honor Harrington series. 

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Audiobook: In Enemy Hands by David Weber

In Enemy Hands
Author: David Weber
Series: Honor Harrington Book 7
Narrator: Allyson Johnson
Publication: Audible Studios (May 8, 2009)
Length: 19 hours and 55 minutes

Description: The Road to Hell

Honor Harrington's career has its ups and its downs. She's survived ship-to-ship battles, assassins, political vendettas, and duels. She's been shot at, shot down, and just plain shot, had starships blown out from under her, and made personal enemies who will stop at nothing to ruin her, and somehow she's survived it all.

But this time she's really in trouble.

The People's Republic of Haven has finally found an admiral who can win battles, and Honor's orders take her straight into an ambush. Outnumbered, outgunned, and unable to run, she has just two options: see the people under her command die in a hopeless, futile battle... or surrender them-and herself-to the Peeps.

There can be only one choice, and at least the People's Navy promises to treat their prisoners honorably. But the Navy is overruled by the political authorities, and Honor finds herself bound for a prison planet aptly named "Hell"... and her scheduled execution.

Put into solitary confinement, separated from her officers and her treecat Nimitz, and subjected to systematic humiliation by her gaolers, Honor's future has become both bleak and short. Yet bad as things look, they're about to get worse ...for the Peeps.

My Thoughts: This is the episode when Honor is captured by the Peeps.  Unfortunately, she isn't being treated as a military officer as the old charges from Basilisk have been resurrected and she is condemned to die.

Cordelia Ransom, who is the Peep's propaganda expert, is along and looks at Honor's capture as a terrific opportunity to gain positive publicity for her regime. No matter what her Naval officers try to convince her to do, she is determined. She has come to believe that her own skewed version of reality is actually reality. The Naval officers know that what she intends will have bad consequences for the Peeps in the form of bad publicity and lack of the secret support the Peeps have been getting from the Solarian League which is the only thing that is allowing them to keep up with the Manticorans and their allies. These actions will also have a bad effect on the Peeps' own navy too as shown by the two major Peeps military people who get swept up in Ransom's plotting.

Meanwhile, Honor is being badly treated by her captors from State Security. She has had her prosthetics disconnected which leaves her looking like a stroke victim and having vision in only one eye. She has been separated from Nimitz who was also badly injured.

But her own people aren't going to give up despite being prisoners themselves. And Horace Harkness finally gets to shine as he professes his allegiance to the Peeps and then subverts their computer system and plans the daring escape but not before they reach the prison planet known as Hell.

This was an exciting episode. I'm very glad that the next one is queued up for my next listening experience.

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

ARC Review: Archangel's Sun by Nalini Singh

Archangel's Sun

Author:
Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter Series (Book 13)
Publication: Berkley (November 24, 2020)

Description: A horrifying secret rises in the aftermath of an archangelic war in New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s deadly and beautiful Guild Hunter world. . . 

The Archangel of Death and the Archangel of Disease may be gone but their legacy of evil lives on—especially in Africa, where the shambling, rotting creatures called the reborn have gained a glimmer of vicious intelligence.

It is up to Titus, archangel of this vast continent, to stop the reborn from spreading across the world. Titus can’t do it alone, but of the surviving powerful angels and archangels, large numbers are wounded, while the rest are fighting a surge of murderous vampires.

There is no one left . . . but the Hummingbird. Old, powerful, her mind long a broken kaleidoscope. Now, she must stand at Titus’s side against a tide of death upon a discovery more chilling than any other. For the Archangel of Disease has left them one last terrible gift . . . .

My Thoughts: The devastating archangelic wars are over and the evil archangels defeated, but the aftermath might be almost worse especially in Africa. Many angels and archangels were gravely injured and forced into sleep to heal. Those that are left have many more tasks to complete in order to rebuild than there are hands to complete them.

Africa was especially hard hit since it was the home of Charisemnon who left armies of reborn behind when he was defeated. Archangel Titus and his people bear the brunt of the cleanup because Titus is now the Archangel of all of Africa. He and his people are spending all of their time trying to clean out nests of reborn before they can infect those who remain.

The Cadre decides to send Lady Sharine, who was once known as the Hummingbird, to Africa to help him. The Hummingbird is a treasure among the angels. She is their greatest artist. But she spent centuries shattered in her mind and heart. In this story we find out why her mind and heart were shattered and see how she healed. 

Titus is afraid that the Hummingbird will be more of a burden than a help. He doesn't have time to cater to a delicate angel who needs to be protected. Luckily, Lady Sharine isn't that angel anymore. But it takes time before Titus comes to see that.

This was a wonderful episode in the Guild Hunters series. I loved getting to know both Titus and Sharine and watching them fall in love. I also enjoyed the mystery aspects of the story as Titus and Sharine try to discover what Charisemnon's end game really was and how they can defeat his plans.

The story was emotionally intense and fast-paced. Fans of the series will enjoy this episode even though they don't get much of a chance to see other favorite characters from earlier books in the series. 

Favorite Quote:
It was tempting to admire him for his clear moral lines and refusal to bask in his power, but Sharine wasn't about to fall prey to the urge.

Especially when she'd already found herself susceptible to his devastating smiles. No, the last thing Sharine needed was to begin to admire the Archangel of Africa. Big, brash, beautiful Titus would use any such admiration to walk all over her. Not because he was cruel, but because he was Titus.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, November 16, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Nov. 16, 2020)

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 week was a return to winter. We have received 8 inches of snow so far with more predicted for today (Saturday) and tomorrow. The temperatures are decidedly below average too. I don't think we got to 30 degrees yesterday.

I've been spending my time as usual - staying home except for a quick trip to the grocery store, reading and listening to books, playing computer games. I did set up all my posts for January including deciding (tentatively) what to read around the review books that were already on the calendar. It was while I was doing that work on my blog that I started listening to Written in Red again.

I also baked banana bread from a recipe I won't be using again. It turned out too dense. I need to try a different recipe next time I bake it. I tried out a new recipe for Pasta e Fagiole soup this week that was much more successful. I'm making split pea soup tomorrow. For some reason, snow and cold just make me want to make soups!

Sunday Update: Our little bit of additional snow turned out to measure 8 inches at my house. That would have been bad enough but - to add the the misery - I woke up at 6:15 AM to discover the power was out. I woke my brother because I knew he had to go to work. The only problem was that without power, he couldn't raise the garage door or start the snow blower. He ended up calling in to work and huddling by the gas fireplace in my library until the power was restored which happened at about 11 AM.

Once it was light enough, I had enough power remaining on my Kindle to read. So I spent the bulk of the morning reading and napping - since I hadn't intended to get up at 6 in the morning. Once power was restored, I made my batch of split pea soup and watched football on TV. My brother got the garage door open, started the snowblower and cleaned out the driveway. 

We're still waiting at 8 PM for a snowplow to come by to clear out the streets though he could likely get through it with his Subaru and snow tires. He has to be at work tomorrow at 9 AM and might have to clear the driveway again before he goes. 

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.)
  • Tie Die by Max Tomlinson (Review; June 16) - The second Colleen Hayes mystery brings the 1960s to life through the eyes of an unusual private investigator. My review will be posted on December 3.
  • The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley (Mine; Audiobook) -- Another excellent story by Kearsley stars a writer of historical fiction and the women whose memories she is experiencing from 1708 and is the middle of efforts to return Charles Stewart to his throne in Scotland. My review will be posted on December 17.
  • A Pretty Deceit by Anna Lee Huber (Mine) - The fourth Verity Kent mystery was an entertaining and engaging story. My review will be posted on December 10.
  • Cast in Honor by Michelle Sagara (Mine; Audiobook) - This is the eleventh in the Chronicles of Elantra and is a reread. I won't be reviewing it on my blog but did review it on Goodreads and LibraryThing.
Currently
  • Written in Red by Anne Bishop (Audiobook) - I needed something to listen to while doing computer work and chose this old favorite.
  • Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder by T. A. Willberg (Review; Dec. 29) - I'm at 24% of this strange mystery which is my final 2020 review book.
  • Deck the Hounds by David Rosenfelt (Mine) - I was looking for a Christmas story because the review will be posted on Dec. 26 and it seemed appropriate to find something Christmasy to read.
Next Week
Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

Bought:
New Review:
What was your week like?


Saturday, November 14, 2020

ARC Review: The Bright and Breaking Sea by Chloe Neill

The Bright and Breaking Sea

Author:
Chloe Neill
Series: A Captain Kit Brightling Novel
Publication: Berkley (November 17, 2020)

Description: Chloe Neill brings her trademark wit and wild sense of adventure to a stunning seafaring fantasy starring a dauntless heroine in a world of magic and treachery.

Kit Brightling, rescued as a foundling and raised in a home for talented girls, has worked hard to rise through the ranks of the Isles’ Crown Command and become one of the few female captains in Queen Charlotte's fleet. Her ship is small, but she's fast—in part because of Kit’s magical affinity to the sea. But the waters become perilous when the queen sends Kit on a special mission with a partner she never asked for.

Rian Grant, Viscount Queenscliffe, may be a veteran of the Continental war, but Kit doesn’t know him or his motives—and she’s dealt with one too many members of the Beau Monde. But Kit has her orders, and the queen has commanded they journey to a dangerous pirate quay and rescue a spy who's been gathering intelligence on the exiled emperor of Gallia.

Kit can lead her ship and clever crew on her own, but with the fate of queen and country at stake, Kit and Rian must learn to trust each other, or else the Isles will fall....

My Thoughts: Neill's new fantasy was an entertaining adventure. Kit Brightling was a foundling raised by an independent woman who had high expectations for her adopted daughters. Kit has become a Captain in the Queen's Own ostensibly working as a courier but actually as an agent of the Queen. 

The Queen calls her in to rescue a captured spy from an impregnable prison. The only problem is that the Queen wants her to work with a member of the Beau Monde, a Viscount named Rian Grant. They do not immediately hit it off. 

Grant feels that he has done his service to the Queen in the battles on the Continent. Now he wants to spend time on his estate since it was run down during the war and needs his attention to get it out of debt. But rescuing the spy only begins the adventure because he gives them information leading to a traitor within the government of the Queen.

This story takes place in 1815 or so in a world similar to that of the Napoleonic era except that in this world there is magic. Kit is aligned to the sea which is an advantage for a sea captain. However, the former emperor Gerard has been exiled to an isolated island but his supporters have plans to free him which involves lots of magic.

I liked the relationship that grew between Kit and Grant and that it wasn't an "instant love" sort of relationship. I liked Kit's relationship with her crew. The whole setting was excellently done. I loved the details about sailing ships. I also loved that in this world there seemed to be a lot of equality between the sexes and a multi-ethnic society. Of course, there were also the old fuddy-duddies of the Beau Monde who didn't want women in positions of power and certainly not foundlings. There was also a prejudice among the Beau Monde regarding magic and its use. 

I can't wait for more of Kit Brightling's adventures.

Favorite Quote:
Thornberry and Smith walked away. Preston stayed where he was, and looked down his titled, narrow nose at Kit.

"Impudence is unbecoming in a young officer. Particularly a female."

"Arrogance is unbecoming in an old officer, regardless of gender. So I suppose we both have things to complain about."

With that, she walked away, and left him staring after her.

I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Friday Memes: The Bright and Breaking Sea 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:
Prologue
1812

War was a god, arrogant and proud. War was a human, earnest and ambitious. War was a child, petulant and demanding.
Friday 56: 
"You jump every time the carriage does."

"The sea is smoother," Kit said.

"Hardly," Grant said, long legs spread across the carriage, and offered a wry smile. "It's not because you've a fear of horses?"

"I don't fear them." She absolutely feared them. "I know my place, and theirs. And my place is where they are not."
This week I am spotlighting The Bright and Breaking Sea by Chloe Neill. This is from my review stack and is the first book in a new series by one of my favorite authors. Here is the description from Amazon:
Chloe Neill brings her trademark wit and wild sense of adventure to a stunning seafaring fantasy starring a dauntless heroine in a world of magic and treachery.

Kit Brightling, rescued as a foundling and raised in a home for talented girls, has worked hard to rise through the ranks of the Isles’ Crown Command and become one of the few female captains in Queen Charlotte's fleet. Her ship is small, but she's fast—in part because of Kit’s magical affinity to the sea. But the waters become perilous when the queen sends Kit on a special mission with a partner she never asked for.

Rian Grant, Viscount Queenscliffe, may be a veteran of the Continental war, but Kit doesn’t know him or his motives—and she’s dealt with one too many members of the Beau Monde. But Kit has her orders, and the queen has commanded they journey to a dangerous pirate quay and rescue a spy who's been gathering intelligence on the exiled emperor of Gallia.

Kit can lead her ship and clever crew on her own, but with the fate of queen and country at stake, Kit and Rian must learn to trust each other, or else the Isles will fall....