Thursday, January 31, 2019

YA Book Review: The Antidote by Shelley Sackier

The Antidote
Author: Shelley Sackier
Publication: HarperTeen (February 5, 2019)

Description: From the author of The Freemason’s Daughter comes a lush romantic fantasy perfect for fans of Everless!

In the world of healers, there is no room for magic.

Fee knows this, just as certainly as she knows that her magic must be kept secret.

But the crown prince Xavi, Fee’s best friend and only source of comfort, is sick. So sick, that Fee can barely contain the magic lying dormant inside her. She could use it, just a little, to heal him. But magic comes at a deadly cost—and attracts those who would seek to snuff it out forever.

A wisp of a spell later, Fee finds herself caught in a whirl of secret motivations and dark pasts, where no one is who—or what—they appear to be. And saving her best friend means delving deeper into the tempting and treacherous world whose call she’s long resisted—uncovering a secret that will change everything.

Laini Taylor meets Sara Holland in this lavish fantasy from lauded historical romance author Shelley Sackier!

My Thoughts: This story was a complex fantasy with interesting characters. It begin with a prologue which sets the stage and has characters we don't see again until much farther into the book. The main story concerns a land suffering some sort of a plague that has killed many of the people including the king and queen, a land that has been decimated, and a missing jewel.

The main character in this story is a young girl named Ophelia - Fee to her friends. We meet her as a mischievous seven-year-old (?) who sometimes spontaneously does magic. Magic, however, has been forbidden in her kingdom and it is necessary that she be taught to hide it. Her best friends are ten-year-old Xavi who is the heir to the kingdom and his brother Rye who is Fee's destined husband. They are inseparable friends.

However, when the plague comes to the country, Rye is sent away with the other remaining children to other nearby kingdoms, Fee is hidden by the castle's healer Savva and becomes her apprentice, and Xavi is put under the guardianship of Sir Rollins as he learns about the country he'll rule when he turns twenty-one. It has been determined that the country will be clear of infection after ten years.

During those ten years, Fee learns from to be a healer and mostly manages to suppress her magic. She spends much of her time trying to find a cure for Xavi's illness. The only contact she has with Rye are the letters that he sends Xavi. Though she writes to him, he never answers.

Things come to a head when Xavi's betrothed Quinn comes to the country and Xavi gets sicker. Fee learns that Quinn is poisoning him. In an effort to protect Xavi, they fake his death and hide him in a cave where they spent time as children. Then Rye returns to the country much changed and is convinced the Fee has deliberately poisoned his brother.

It gets more complicated from there as Rye and Fee try to find out who poisoned Xavi and what happened to him since he's missing from his hiding place. Fee learns more about her magic and her heritage and the villain who started all of this because she was thwarted in love.

Fans of twisty, romantic fantasy will enjoy this story.

Favorite Quote:
"If I may clarify, it wasn't things I'd grown attached to. It was people. And none of them resided in any of the kingdoms I'd been forced to live in."

Fee twisted to look at him from her saddle. "I would have thought the excitement of seeing new lands and meeting new people would trump the version of Fireli's predictable, repetitious daily life."

"It didn't," he said flatly.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

ARC Review: Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong

Watcher in the Woods
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Series: Casey Duncan Novels (Book 4)
Publication: Minotaur Books (February 5, 2019)

Description: Watcher in the Woods is the next gripping installment of #1 bestselling Kelley Armstrong's riveting Casey Duncan series. 
The secret town of Rockton has seen some rocky times lately; understandable considering its mix of criminals and victims fleeing society for refuge within its Yukon borders. Casey Duncan, the town's only detective on a police force of three, has already faced murder, arson, and falling in love in the several months that she's lived there. Yet even she didn't think it would be possible for an outsider to locate the town and cause trouble in the place she's come to call home.

When a US Marshal shows up demanding the release of one of the residents, but won't say who, Casey and her boyfriend, Sheriff Eric Dalton, are skeptical. And yet only hours later, the marshal is shot dead and the only possible suspects are the townspeople and Casey's estranged sister, smuggled into town to help with a medical emergency. It's up to Casey to figure out who murdered the marshal, and why someone would kill to keep him quiet―before the killer strikes again.

My Thoughts: It was nice to make a new visit to Rockton. This book follows THIS FALLEN PREY closely in time. Casey has suggested bringing her sister April to Rockton to operate on Kenny who has a bullet in his back from the activities of the previous book. April and Casey have never gotten along. She's six years older than Casey and followed her parents' wishes and went into medicine. She is now a surgeon and researcher. Casey has always felt that April sided with her parents in looking down on her. She could never connect with her sister no matter how hard she tried to catch her attention.

After some initial reluctance, April agrees to come to Rockton for a weekend. Since Eric and Casey didn't get the Council's permission, they need to sneak her in and out of town. Unfortunately, this time someone followed them back home. A man named Mark Garcia who introduces himself as a US Marshal says that he has come to take one of the residents back to the US. He won't tell them which resident or even give them any hints. Naturally, this irritates Eric and Casey who are two-thirds of the law for Rockton. They are equally alarmed that he has even found Rockton since it is supposed to be a major secret.

Before they can figure out who Garcia has come for, someone shoots and kills him. Now Casey and Eric need to find a murderer in a town where everyone has secrets and even Eric, who is supposed to be given the truth about the residents, is being kept in the dark. What he has been told is not necessarily true. The Council seems to be deliberately deceiving Eric and selling this sanctuary to the highest bidder without consideration of the danger they might be bringing with them.

As Casey interviews residents and checks alibis, she is also learning more about her sister. She is surprised when one of the residents who was a psychologist before she came to Rockton to run a bar and brothel suggest that April is probably somewhere on the Autism Spectrum. However, that explains a lot about her sister and her relationship with her sister.

Many of the town residents are unique and colorful individuals from barkeeper to the butcher who was a psychiatrist specializing in psychopaths and sociopaths to the constant whiner to the racist bully who almost got a lynch mob together in the previous book. Casey and Eric think that they have sussed out all of the Council spies but they aren't completely sure.

This was a well-plotted mystery in a great setting. I really like Casey and like her relationship with Eric who is also a wonderful character. Fans of the series will devour this one and be eager for more from Rockton.

Favorite Quote:
As a child, she might not have realized why I was being "silly," but at the age of thirty-seven, she could not fail to realize that she lacked a sense of humor. What would it be like, constantly knowing others found something funny and not understanding why? A good sense of humor is one of the traits we look for in others. Someone who doesn't understand jokes is dull, stuffy, boring...
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

YA Book Review: Stolen Time by Danielle Rollins

Stolen Time
Author: Danielle Rollins
Series: Stolen Time
Publication: HarperTeen (February 5, 2019)

Description: Seattle, 1913

Dorothy spent her life learning the art of the con. But after meeting a stranger and stowing away on his peculiar aircraft, she wakes up in a chilling version of the world she left behind—and for the first time in her life, realizes she’s in way over her head.

If there was ever a girl who was trouble, it was one who snuck on board Ash’s time machine wearing a wedding gown—and the last thing he needs is trouble if he wants to prevent his terrifying visions of the future from coming true.

My Thoughts: This is a time travel story. It begins in 1913 when Dorothy, running away from a wedding engineered by her mother, stows away on a time machine piloted by Ash who is looking for the time machine's inventor. Soon, Dorothy finds herself in 2077 in a Seattle that has been decimated by earthquakes and tsunamis.

Seattle is a drowned city and a lawless one. A gang called the Black Cirkus is terrorizing everyone and definitely wants the professor's time machine. They want to go back to the past and prevent the disasters that happened.

Before he disappeared, the professor created a team of teenagers including his daughter Zora, Ash who is a WWII fighter pilot, Chandra who is a doctor who was taken BCE and brought up to speed on current medicine and English and who really loves 1980s television, and Willis who was a circus strongman in the 1900s. A teenaged genius named Roman was also part of the crew until he disagreed with the professor's plans and joined the Black Cirkus.

The story skips around in time as both the Black Cirkus and heroes are searching for the professor. Ash has seen some prememories that show that he'll be falling in love with a white haired girl who will kill him. He's hoping the professor can find a way to change that future. Dorothy has been raised as a con woman who doesn't trust anyone but who would really like to have friends and to have someone she can count on. Ash and Dorothy tell the story in alternate chapters. There are also interludes from the professor's journal which lets the reader know what he was thinking.

This was an entertaining story with twists and turns, intriguing characters, and an interesting setting.

Favorite Quote:
Ash wouldn't have left her behind. The two of them would've walked down the stairs shoulder to shoulder, ready to take on the waiting army together. It made Dorothy feel strangely jealous. She wanted that, the chance to be someone's ally and not just their prize.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, January 28, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Jan. 28, 2019)

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 has been another very cold week. Actual air temperatures aren't expected to get above zero today from a low of -17. It is supposed to be even colder overnight tonight. It is perfect weather to stay indoors and read which I have been doing.

I did venture out for two doctor's appointments this week. I see my gastroenterologist every six months and have blood work done every three months. Things went well. There were no changes made to my medications or routines.

I did get to Curves to exercise three times this week but the cold weather kept me home the rest of the week. My Curves location is so near that my car doesn't have a change to warm up before I get there. That is pretty hard on car batteries even if the car is almost new. Besides, I didn't want to bundle up to go out for just half an hour.

I decided to finish the Peter Grant/Rivers of London series this week rather than reading them in the order I have them on my calendar. I really want to read the seventh book which I had for review and reviewed a while ago again now that I know what came before it. I'm probably going to stick to my plan and work on books that are actually on my calendar though.

I spent some time this week setting up the placeholder posts for the books I plan to read in March and will probably finish setting up those posts this week. I also need to work on my State of the Stack post detailing my review book reading since that will be posted on Feb. 1.

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.)

  • Say You're Sorry by Karen Rose (Feb. 12) -- Long romantic suspense title that begins a series. Well-developed characters and lots of action. My review will be posted on Feb. 9.
  • How I Became a Spy by Deborah Hopkinson (Feb. 12) -- Nice middle grade historical mystery. Set in WWII, it introduces three characters from different backgrounds all in London just before D-Day. My review will be posted on Feb. 14.
  • In the Dark by Cara Hunter (Feb. 19) -- There were lots of plot twists and turns in this tense police procedural set in Great Britain. My review will be posted on Feb. 13.

  • Immoral Code by Lillian Clark (Feb. 19) -- YA heist story about five high school seniors who plan to steal college money from one of them's absent father. My review will be posted on Feb. 12.
  • Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch (Feb. 4, 2014) -- 4th Peter Grant urban fantasy/police procedural. My review will be posted on Feb. 16.
  • The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch (June 30, 2017) -- Peter Grant novella. My review has been posted on Goodreads and LibraryThing.

  • Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch (Jan. 6, 2015) -- 5th Peter Grant. My review will be posted on Feb. 19.
  • The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch (Jan. 31, 2017) -- 6th Peter Grant. My review will be posted on March 19.
  • My Favorite Cowboy by Donna Grant (Feb. 26) -- Rather melodramatic romantic suspense/Western story. My review will be posted on Feb. 20.

Knife Children by Lois McMaster Bujold is a just published novella. LMB is one of my favorite authors. She is more or less retired but still publishes an occasional novella. This one is set in her Sharing Knife world which makes me want to read that quartet of books again.

Next Week

I am almost finished with my February review books and will begin reading my March releases.

Reviews Posted

Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

  • Knife Children by Lois McMaster Bujold -- novella by a favorite author
  • Stolen Things by R. H. Herron (August 20) -- thriller from Edelweiss for review
  • Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch -- my copy so that I have the complete series. I really want to read this again now that I've read all the earlier books in the series.

What was your week like?

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Book Review: The Invisible Ring by Anne Bishop

The Invisible Ring
Author: Anne Bishop
Series: Black Jewels, Book 4
Publication: Roc; Reprint edition (June 3, 2008)

Description: New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop returns to the world of her Black Jewels Trilogy with a prequel that follows a man who is determined to rebel against the course set before him...

Jared is a Red-Jeweled Warlord bound as a pleasure slave by the Ring of Obedience. After suffering nine years of torment as a slave, he murdered his owner and escaped—only to be caught and sold into slavery once again.

Purchased by a notorious queen, Jared fears he will share the mysterious fate of her other slaves—never to be seen again—and so prepares himself for death. But the Gray Lady may not be what she seems and Jared soon faces a difficult decision: his freedom, or his honor...

My Thoughts: This is a prequel to the Black Jewels trilogy. Because some of the characters come from long-lived races, there are a couple of characters who appear in the first trilogy. The villain of this piece is Black Widow and Priestess Dorothea SaDiablo who is also the villain of the first trilogy.

In this one, we see Dorothea's plots and plans as she tries to eliminate any woman of the Blood who might rival her strength and encourage those women who share her views. She is spreading her corrupt version of the Blood to nearby countries. She would especially like to get rid of the Gray-Jeweled Queen who rules a territory called Dena Nehele.

The second continuing character is Daemon Sadi, a major hero in the first trilogy, who is a pleasure slave owned by Dorothea and lent out to other queens. He is doing everything he can to undermine Dorothea's plans and support those who oppose her.

The hero of this story is Jared, a Red-Jeweled Warlord from Shalodor, who has been a pleasure slave for nine years. The story begins with him at auction because he killed the Queen who owned him and her Prince too. He is destined to die in the salt mines of Pruul until he is purchased by the mysterious Gray Lady.

Jared finds himself among a group of slaves purchased by the Grey Lady and on his way to Dena Nehele. He decides that he will escape as soon as he can and head home to Shalador where he needs to make things right with his mother.

Plans quickly go awry when the group finds itself hunted by the Master of the Guard for Dorothea - a thoroughly corrupt man who will do anything to keep himself safe from Dorothea's punishments. The story is filled with adventure and action and danger for our heroes. It was interesting to watch Jared remember what he was taught as a child about honor and service and watch him pledge that service to his Gray Lady.

This was an engaging Dark Fantasy that adds to the Black Jewels series by letting readers get a glimpse of how the world of the first three books came to be.

Favorite Quote:
He'd once believed in service and honor. Now all he believed in was cold hatred and rage. He was a Red-Jeweled Warlord from Shalador. He was Blood. He'd fight her, and die in the fighting. That was better than cringing and cowering while she tore him apart piece by piece.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Book Review: Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch

Whispers Under Ground
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Series: Rivers of London Book 3
Publication: Del Rey (July 31, 2012)


It begins with a dead body at the far end of Baker Street tube station, all that remains of American exchange student James Gallagher—and the victim’s wealthy, politically powerful family is understandably eager to get to the bottom of the gruesome murder. The trouble is, the bottom—if it exists at all—is deeper and more unnatural than anyone suspects . . . except, that is, for London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant. With Inspector Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, tied up in the hunt for the rogue magician known as “the Faceless Man,” it’s up to Peter to plumb the haunted depths of the oldest, largest, and—as of now—deadliest subway system in the world.

At least he won’t be alone. No, the FBI has sent over a crack agent to help. She’s young, ambitious, beautiful . . . and a born-again Christian apt to view any magic as the work of the devil. Oh yeah—that’s going to go well.

My Thoughts: This episode begins with a dead body in the London Undergroud. James Gallagher is an American, a son of US Senator, and an artist. When he is found dead, and no one can figure out how he got into the Underground, Peter is called in to see if there is any trace of magic. He is also drafted to be part of the Murder Team investigating the death in case anything of a magical nature turns up.

Leslie May is on sick leave from the London Police as a result of her encounter with serious magic in the first book of this series. She has discovered a magical talent of her own and has been, so far unofficially, added to the Folly to be taught to use her new magic. She and Peter begin doing an investigation of James Gallagher and meet Zachary Palmer who is Gallagher's roommate - at least until his Senator father arrives.

Peter and Leslie's investigation takes them into the London Underground, into a variety of secret tunnels the London Transit Police don't know about, to the sewers that run under London, and to the discovery of a whole new group of people who have been living under London for more than 100 years. Along the way are generous doses of London's history and architecture all discussed in Peter's quirky and irreverent style.

This is a police procedural as the investigation into the murder of James Gallagher frames the story. It is also entertaining urban fantasy as Peter learns more about magic. And he learns more about London's odder residents including the gods and goddesses of London's rivers.

Fans of the series won't want to miss this episode. Fans of urban fantasy will also enjoy this quirky and very humorous series.

Favorite Quote:
"He said not to do anything stupid until he gets here," I said.

"We'd better find something to keep you occupied, then," she said, and made me call the Murder Team to let them know what we had found and ask, whether they'd traced the owner of the warehouse on Kensal Road yet.

Three minutes later, Lesley got a phone call. "That's right," she said and then looked at me. "Not so far," she said, and then, "I'll tell him -- 'bye." She put her phone away.

"That was Seawoll," she said. "Stephanopoulos is on her way down and you're not to do anything stupid until she gets here."

You burn down one central London tourist attraction, I thought, and they never let you forget it.
I got this one from a publicist. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Friday Memes: Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch

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.

Back in the summer I'd made the mistake of telling my mum what I did for a living. Not the police bit, which of course she already knew about, having been at my graduation from Hendon, but the stuff about me working for the branch of the Met that dealt with the supernatural. My mum translated this in her head to "witchfinder," which was good because like most West Africans, she considered witchfinding a more respectable profession than policeman. 
Friday 56:
I wasn't as experienced at Nightingale but I was willing to bet that nothing magical had happened in that flat since it was constructed. 
This week I am spotlighting the third book in the Rivers of London urban fantasy series - Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch. I read the first book in this series a while ago and I read the seventh book for review just before publication in December. The publicist who sent me the review book offered to send me the rest of the series and I'll be reviewing them as time and space on my blog permits.

Here is the description from Amazon:

It begins with a dead body at the far end of Baker Street tube station, all that remains of American exchange student James Gallagher—and the victim’s wealthy, politically powerful family is understandably eager to get to the bottom of the gruesome murder. The trouble is, the bottom—if it exists at all—is deeper and more unnatural than anyone suspects . . . except, that is, for London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant. With Inspector Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, tied up in the hunt for the rogue magician known as “the Faceless Man,” it’s up to Peter to plumb the haunted depths of the oldest, largest, and—as of now—deadliest subway system in the world.

At least he won’t be alone. No, the FBI has sent over a crack agent to help. She’s young, ambitious, beautiful . . . and a born-again Christian apt to view any magic as the work of the devil. Oh yeah—that’s going to go well.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

YA Book Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

A Curse So Dark and Lonely
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publication: Bloomsbury YA (January 29, 2019)

Description: In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer.

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she's instead somehow sucked into Rhen's cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn't know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what's at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

My Thoughts: First, I need to say that BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is my favorite fairy tale. Second, I need to say that this riff on the tale is an amazing story with wonderful characters. It is filled with emotion, well-developed characters, and a complex plot.

Harper lives in DC. Her mother is dying of cancer. Her older brother is working for a loan shark since their father borrowed a bunch of money before disappearing on the family. She has cerebral palsy. One night while keeping watch for her brother as he intimidates someone who owes his boss money, she sees a guy kidnapping a drunk girl. She charges in with a rusty tire iron in hand and finds herself the one kidnapped. She wakes up in a fairy tale world called Emberfall.

Rhen is the prince who is forced to relive the autumn he turned 18 again and again until he manages to find a girl who will fall in love with him. If he fails - and he has failed almost 300 times, he turns into a monster who attacks the people around him. The monster has caused the death of all of his family, all of his guards, and many of his citizens. Now he is alone except for his Royal Guard Grey who has sworn loyalty to him and who refuses to leave him. Rhen has long since given up hope. He's tried to kill himself many times and in many ways but each attempt results in him beginning the autumn again.

Harper isn't going to fall in love with him. Her only wish is to get home to protect her brother and spend time with her dying mother. However, Harper isn't willing to let him wallow in pity. She is brave and determined to help the people in his country. She is smart and kind and manages to get him out of his castle where he sees what is happening in his country.

Besides an invading army from a nearby country, the enchantress who cursed Rhen makes frequent visits to torture Rhen and keep him in a state of hopelessness. She is beautiful and evil. She is also jealous of the relationship that Rhen and Harper are building. She had expected Rhen to fall in love with her and break the curse at the very beginning.

Fans of fantasies based on fairy tales will be adding this one to their keeper shelves. I certainly intend to add it to mine.

Favorite Quote:
When she eventually speaks, it's not a question I'm expecting. "Did you get naked with these hundreds of women, too?"

She's so direct that she'd be intimidating under other circumstances. "Such questions you ask."

She rolls her eyes. "Well, that's sure not a no."

"It is, in fact." I hesitate, wondering how honest to be. "I lured them all into my life. I abhor the idea of luring them into my bed--and I certainly would not force them. In truth, there is not greater crime in Emberfall."


"In murder, the crime ends."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from the publisher. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

ARC Review: One Tough Cowboy by Lora Leigh and Veronica Chadwick

One Tough Cowboy
Author: Lora Leigh & Veronica Chadwick
Series: Moving Violations (Book 1)
Publication: St. Martin's Paperbacks (January 29, 2019)

Description: First in a brand-new series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lora Leigh and Veronica Chadwick about one man’s pursuit of justice―and unbridled desire.

For as long as Samantha can remember, Hunter―a man as strong as steel, with a heart of gold―has been her hero. It came as no surprise to Samantha when she found out that the ranch-hardened cowboy who always protected her from bullies went on to become the town’s sheriff. What does surprise her is how incredibly hot he still is. And how much she still wants him…

And, lo and behold, Hunter still has feelings for Samantha. The long-smoldering heat of their innocent flirtation has grown into a full-raging fire. But when tragedy strikes, and their small-town community is shattered, Hunter vows to do everything he can to keep his childhood sweetheart safe. But can Samantha trust that Hunter has her best interests at heart…and that, after all these years, his love is true?

My Thoughts: Samantha comes back home to northern California from her job with the Detroit police department because her aunt is found dead. They say it is a drug overdose, but Sam doesn't believe that. Neither does the sheriff who was her childhood hero and crush.

Hunter is already suspicious because Samantha's Aunt Dottie was the third person to die suspiciously in town. The mayor's wife, an excellent swimmer, was found drowned in a fish pond; Hunter's Uncle Zach died in a hunting accident except he never hunted; and now Dottie. All three were life-long friends.

After serving in the Special Forces and in Iraq, Hunter has come home to take over his uncle's job as sheriff. He doesn't trust the mayor or two of the deputies the mayor forced on him. He is sure something criminal is going on.

Hunter and Samantha's investigation leads them to a drug smuggling, human trafficking network that has branched out into moving terrorists around the country. But both Hunter and Samantha are almost totally distracted from their investigation by the overwhelming sexual attraction that they feel for each other and the need to stop at many inappropriate times to have sex. I skimmed over the many too-graphic-for-my-taste sex scenes and couldn't help but find them really unrealistic based on the other things that were going on.

I had a couple of other issues with the book. First of all, it is set in northern California and the characters have Southern accents. I didn't know, nor do I believe, that California was a Southern State. Besides the many sex scenes, many of the other parts of the book were "tell" not "show." Check the quote below which states that "little backwoods country towns were also well known for corruption." Really?

Fans of spicy romances and romantic suspense may enjoy this one.

Favorite Quote:
Cute and quaint, her hometown was just as innocent in appearance as they come. People lifted a hand in greeting or nodded with a smile at passersby. Even so, little backwoods country towns were also known for corruption. Deerhaven was no different. It was all just a lovely cover while underneath the surface was a fetid, decaying mass of excrement.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Book Review: Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

Moon Over Soho
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Series: Rivers of London (Book 2)
Publication: Del Rey (March 1, 2011)

Description: BODY AND SOUL

The song. That’s what London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant first notices when he examines the corpse of Cyrus Wilkins, part-time jazz drummer and full-time accountant, who dropped dead of a heart attack while playing a gig at Soho’s 606 Club. The notes of the old jazz standard are rising from the body—a sure sign that something about the man’s death was not at all natural but instead supernatural.

Body and soul—they’re also what Peter will risk as he investigates a pattern of similar deaths in and around Soho. With the help of his superior officer, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, and the assistance of beautiful jazz aficionado Simone Fitzwilliam, Peter will uncover a deadly magical menace—one that leads right to his own doorstep and to the squandered promise of a young jazz musician: a talented trumpet player named Richard “Lord” Grant—otherwise known as Peter’s dear old dad.

My Thoughts: The second Peter Grant mystery has him investigating the jazz scene in Soho when a drummer dies of a heart attack but has a famous jazz tune as part of his vestigia. That's a clear sign that his death had something supernatural about it. However despite investigation, nothing is found linking him to magic. Another death of a jazz musician does lead to a magical link that takes them to Oxbridge and a club that has been under the radar since the 1960s.

Peter is learning from his mentor Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale who is the only registered wizard in London and who happens to be aging backwards. However, Nightingale is still recovering from an injury experienced in their first adventure and Peter is more on his own than perhaps he should be.

Peter comes to believe that there are some jazz vampires feeding on and killing jazz musicians which  concerns him particularly because his own father is a rather famous one. Peter is busy looking into the unexplained deaths of jazz musicians that has been going on since World War II. Of course, he is also looking into the possibility of other magic users - what his mentor calls black magic users, too.

On the personal side, he is dealing with his former colleague Leslie who is still dealing with the grave consequences of the events of MIDNIGHT RIOT and starting a new relationship of his own with Simone Fitzwilliam who was the live-in girlfriend of one the victims of the jazz vampires.

This was a fast-paced and very snarky story. Peter has quite a cynical viewpoint but he also has a lot of idealism about his role as a police officer. The world he inhabits with jazz vampires, evil magicians, chimeras and animate rivers along with the day-to-day bustle of modern London and a modern police force is well-drawn and feels very real.

I can't wait to see where this series goes as Peter learns more about magic and the supernatural creatures who inhabit his world.

Favorite Quote:
For a terrifying moment I thought he was going to hug me, but fortunately we both remembered we were English just in time. Still, it was a close call.
I received this on from a publicist for review. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, January 21, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Jan. 21, 2019)

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 has been notable for the cold weather. We have had clear, sunny skies and a temperature that reached highs in the low single digits. The overnight low on Saturday morning was -18 degrees. Add a breeze and the windchill made it not at all enticing to leave my house. I did get out to exercise most days and my brother and I went out for lunch on Friday.

Otherwise, I've been playing computer games and working away at my stack of review books.

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.)

  • Twilight's Dawn by Anne Bishop (Mine) - Four novellas set in the Black Jewels universe that brought the series up-to-date and filled in details about some events from other books. My review will be posted on March 3.
  • The Blood Spell by C. J. Redwine (Feb. 12) - This riff on the Cinderella story featured a nice romance, action, adventure, and a really creepy villain. My review will be posted on Feb. 5.

  • Past Due for Murder by Victoria Gilbert (Feb. 12) - third cozy mystery in the Blue Ridge Library series. My review will be posted on Feb. 6.
  • Nightchaser by Amanda Bouchet (Mine) - Okay space opera. My review will be posted on Feb. 7.

Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto - I didn't finish this one. I read 180 pages of 498 over the course of a couple of days but decided not to finish it when I realized that nothing happened that advanced the plot in those pages. It followed three different characters and, so far, just introduced them, provided a little information about their pasts, and talked about their current situations. Fans of middle grade fantasy with more patience than I have will possibly enjoy this one. However, Amazon Vine had the book and two reviewers so far agree with my assessment giving the book 2 stars.

Say You're Sorry by Karen Rose (Feb. 12) is another book that I've been reading for a couple of days. It has 624 pages which I didn't know until I went to update by progress on Goodreads since I am reading this review copy on my Kindle. It is a romantic suspense thriller which begins a series. 

Next Week

These are the next ones on my calendar.

Reviews Posted

Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?



What was your week like?

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Book Review: Queen of the Darkness by Anne Bishop

Queen of the Darkness
Author: Anne Bishop
Series: Black Jewels, Book 3
Publication: Roc; 1st edition (January 1, 2000)

Description: In the astonishing conclusion of Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels Trilogy, the Dark Court has been formed and the end—for some—draws exceedingly near...

Jaenelle Angelline now reigns as Queen—protector of the Shadow Realm. No longer will the corrupt Blood slaughter her people and defile her lands. But where one chapter ends, a final, unseen battle remains to be written, and Jaenelle must unleash the terrible power that is Witch to destroy her enemies once and for all.

Even so, she cannot stand alone. Somewhere, long lost in madness, is Daemon, her promised Consort. Only his unyielding love can complete her Court and secure her reign. Yet, even together, their strength may not be enough to hold back the most malevolent of forces.

And in the end, under the emergent shadow of evil and unforeseen betrayal, only Jaenelle’s greatest sacrifice will save those she loves—and the realm she’s bound to protect...

My Thoughts: This epic conclusion to the first three books in the Black Jewels series begins with Jaenelle Queen of the Shadow Realm. But the ancient enemies - Dark Priestesses Dorothea and Hekatah though greatly damaged by previous attempts to kill or capture Jaenelle - are not ready to give up their cause as lost. They are more then willing to manipulate the kingdoms into war.

Jaenelle is a Black Widow. She has seen that war will bring a total destruction of the Blood. She will do anything to keep her kingdom and her people safe. And "anything" includes giving her own life to keep her people safe. Of course, none of her Sisters or Blood Princes want this. None of her court want to do anything to endanger her. They don't see why Jaenelle is so opposed to war. Wars have been fought before and the Blood has survived.

Jaenelle and Daemon are also finally together but both are so worried about hurting the other that their courtship isn't going very well. Daemon's brother and the other warlords at the court find this much more amusing than Daemon does given that Daemon spend many years as a pleasure slave and should know what he is doing. The problem is that he has never been in love before. Jaenelle is coming from the same lack of experience. After being violently raped at twelve, normal teenage experimentation with romance wasn't part of her adolescence.

This is a story that has great relationships. With Lucivar and Daemon back together in the court, they have a chance to work as brothers if they can just forgive each other and themselves for the wrongs they did each other. And Saetan is glad to have his sons in the court though they, especially Daemon, have grown to be men he isn't at all sure he understands. Jaenelle's relationships with her fellow Queens and with the kindred add depth to the story.

Fans of Dark Fantasy will enjoy this story and this trilogy. The writing and storytelling were engaging and kept me reading late into the night.

Favorite Quote:
"If Kaeleer accepts Terreille's challenge and goes to war," Jaenelle said softly, "it will destroy the Blood in both realms. All the Blood. Even the kindred."

"Some will live. It is always so."

"Not this time. Oh, there will be some who will physically survive the war, but..." Jaenelle's voice broke. She took a deep breath. "All of my Sisters, all of my friends will be gone. All of the Warlord Princes."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

YA Book Review: The Storm Keeper's Island by Catherine Doyle

The Storm Keeper's Island
Author: Catherine Doyle
Series: Storm Keeper's Island
Publication: Bloomsbury Children's Books (January 22, 2019)

Description: Fionn Boyle comes from a long line of brave seafarers, people with the ocean behind their eyes. But he can't help but fear the open sea. For years, Fionn's mother has told him stories of Arranmore Island, a strange place that seems to haunt her. Fionn has always wondered about this mysterious island, and from the day he arrives he starts noticing things that can't be explained. He can sense the island all around him, and it feels like the island is watching him, too.

Once in a generation, Arranmore Island chooses a new Storm Keeper to wield its power and keep its magic safe from enemies. The time has come for his grandfather, a secretive and eccentric old man, to step down. But as Fionn and the other descendants of Arranmore's most powerful families fight to become the island's next champion, a more sinister magic is waking up, intent on rekindling a long-ago war and changing Fionn's life and the island's future forever.

My Thoughts: Eleven-year-old Fionn Boyle has come to Arranmore Island with his 13-year-old sister Tara to stay with their grandfather for a while. Their mother suffers from depression and can't take care of them. Fionn didn't want to come. He is terribly afraid of the sea and doesn't want to leave his mother to stay with a strange man he hasn't met.

Fionn's mother left Arranmore right after her husband's death and before Fionn was born. Strange things begin to happen as soon as he steps foot on the island. It feels like the island is watching him. His grandfather is rather a strange man. He is called the Storm Keeper but all he seems to do is make various candles. With Tara preoccupied with a new boyfriend, Fionn is left alone to figure out what is going on.

It is time for the old storm keeper to step down and the rival Beasley family, including Tara's new boyfriend Barley, really wants the job of being the next storm keeper. It takes a while before Fionn learns that his grandfather is charged with keeping the island safe from an ancient evil named Morrigan who is sleeping somewhere on the island.

There are a number of magical things about the island. The Sea Cave, if it can be found, lets the finder ask for one wish. Bartley with Tara's assistance is looking for the cave in order to ask for the power the comes along with being the next storm keeper. Fionn would like to find it too. Since he can't wish his father back alive, he'd like to have a cured mother.

Fionn goes on a number of adventures with his grandfather. Each time a candle is burned, it takes the one holding it back to the time and place preserved in the wax. One of their first adventures takes them back to the very beginning when Dagda united the five clans and defeated Morrigan and her soulstalkers.

This book was filled with adventures. I loved the characters especially Fionn who doesn't think that he is very courageous but surprises himself with his actions. I loved Fionn's grandfather Malachy who is nearing the end of his term as storm keeper and losing his memory.

This was an excellent middle grade fantasy.

Favorite Quote:
"Did you just say the Sea Cave is magical? Did I hear that correctly?"

"Clear as a bell," said Shelby, unfazed. "I had elocution lessons as a child. It was either that or fencing and since I'm not a sixteenth-century monarch, I chose the speech stuff."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Bloomsbury. You can buy your copy here.