Sunday, March 31, 2019

ARC Review: The Ghost Manuscript by Kris Frieswick

The Ghost Manuscript
Author: Kris Frieswick
Publication: Post Hill Press (April 2, 2019)

Description: Rare book authenticator Carys Jones wanted nothing more than to be left alone to pursue her obsession with ancient manuscripts. But when her biggest client is committed to an asylum, he gives Carys an offer she cannot refuse. In exchange for his entire library of priceless, Dark Age manuscripts, Carys must track the clues hidden in a previously unknown journal, clues that lead to a tomb that could rewrite the history of Western civilization.

But there are people who would do anything to stop Carys from finding what she seeks—for reasons both noble and evil. The hunt takes Carys to places she never thought she’d go, physically and emotionally; first to Wales, her estranged father’s homeland, then to bed with Dafydd, a mysterious Welshman who agrees to help her with the search, and finally, deep inside her own psyche, when the monk who wrote the journal 1,500 years ago appears and assists her in her search.

My Thoughts: Carys Jones is an expert on medieval manuscripts. She works for an auction house authenticating texts. When the son of one of her biggest clients tells her that his father has been committed to a psychiatric hospital and that he is planning to liquidate the collection, Carys is called in to authenticate the texts and check the catalog.

Carys meets the housekeeper who tells her that there is one manuscript not in the catalog. It's a journal of a monk who wrote of his employer who was a battle chief fighting the Anglo-Saxon invasion. That's when Carys learns that her employer is just another Arthur chaser and she loses respect for him. That is, she does until she does until she reads the diary herself and starts having hallucinations where the author Lestinus gives her clues that may lead to the grave of Riothamus Arcturus who would become the legendary King Arthur.

But Carys isn't the only one on the track of Arthur and the massive fortune including Excalibur that was buried with him. Her boss George Plourde has his own scam going - blackmailing clients to part with items that will yield him massive commissions. He is also working with an antiquities dealer named Martin Gyles who has his own scam going but has gotten himself in trouble with jihadists and needs the tomb to get himself out of it.

Carys is an interesting person who considers herself broken. She has major abandonment issues. Her father left her family when she was seven. Her mother committed suicide when she was fifteen and her father left her with family friends rather than taking her into his new family. Her relationships hit the wall at about three months because of her inability to share anything of herself but her body. The only constants in her life are the manuscripts that are part of her work.

As Carys travels to follow the clues Lestinus left, she travels to Wales where she meets a new guy and where she meets her father again. Both are instrumental in finding the tomb which has been emptied but for another journal, some seeds, and a small amount of ancient jewels. And the search continues with bad guys trailing behind.

The action was fast and furious. The villains were truly dastardly. The treasure hunt was intriguing. And the book ends on a cliffhanger...

Favorite Quote:
"Latin isn't like English. It's very formal. People generally didn't use it to express their emotions. There were so few people who could write back then that they normally saved it only for recording official things. But to find a personal journal - to find two of them - it's like a magic window. Like climbing into the heads of people thousands of years ago. But mostly what you see when you read words that old is that humans haven't changed a bit over all the centuries. I'm not sure if that's comforting or disturbing. It's all the same - pain, anger, fear, joy, passion..."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

ARC Review: Grave Destiny by Kalayna Price

Grave Destiny
Author: Kalayna Price
Series: An Alex Craft Novel (Book 6)
Publication: Ace (April 2, 2019)

Description: The dead tell no tales, unless they have grave witch  Alex Craft to speak for them. When a paranormal war threatens, Alex's unique abilities might be the only thing that can stop our world from being changed forever.

My Thoughts: Alex's next case comes when Prince Dugan from the Shadow court comes and asks her to investigate a murder. She has recently learned that she was betrothed to Prince Dugan at birth. Needless to say, she isn't okay with that. Her lovelife is complicated enough without throwing in a fiance.

Adding to the complication is that she is currently an independent fae under the authority of the Winter Queen. In fact she is under the close supervision of Falin Andrews who is the Winter Queen's Knight and assassin. Falin was also her lover for a time but, because he is under oath to obey the Winter Queen, he told Alex that she should not trust him. Falin appears shortly after Dugan because Dugan doesn't have the Queen's permission to hire Alex or even be in Nekros City.

When Alex learns that Dugan wants her to investigate the death of one of his court who was found dead in the bedroom of a member of the Winter Court who is also dead, Alex is interested - especially in the paycheck since things have been tight for her private investigation agency.

Falin, Dugan and Alex team up with lots of suspicion between the men to investigate. This drops Alex in the middle of Fairie and way too close to the Winter Queen. They all soon realize that someone is trying to start a war. Faerie with its seven courts is already out of balance. The Shadow Court is declining, Winter is destabilizing under a queen who may be going insane, and every fae that is breathing is plotting something.

Meanwhile, Alex is also looking for a teacher to help her learn about her talent for planeweaving but is having little luck. The only planeweavers she knows about are in a court she can't access. She does begin to get some training when the Mender calls in the favor that he granted to her in an earlier book. He wants to collect the souls in Faerie which doesn't connect to the Land of the Dead or the realm of the collectors. He teaches her more about her powers than anyone else has been able to teach her.

This story was filled with action, danger, fae plots, and romantic entanglements. I really like Alex and love finding out more about her. While this book does not end on a cliffhanger, there are certainly questions about Alex's powers and her future that I would like answers for.

Favorite Quote:
So whoever staged this probably had little knowledge of crime scene investigation.

Which narrows our suspect pool to almost every fae residing inside Faerie. Maybe most of the older changelings as well. Awesome.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Friday Memes: Grave Destiny by Kalayna Price

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.

The first time I'd knowingly woven planes of existence was under the light of the Blood Moon. That was six months ago, and I'd been under the power of a madman at the time, the ability bursting from me in a magical hemorrhage.
Friday 56:
The little seelie king puppet swung out with a small sword. The queen puppet stumbled back, doubling over, before falling face forward. I watched in morbid fascination as the little king puppet placed his foot on her unmoving back and lifted his sword aloft in victory.
This week I am spotlighting Grave Destiny by Kalayna Price. This review book is new on my stack. It is the sixth book in a series I began reading in 2011. Here is the description from Amazon:
The thrilling sixth book in the USA Today bestselling Alex Craft series.

The dead tell no tales, unless they have grave witch  Alex Craft to speak for them. When a paranormal war threatens, Alex's unique abilities might be the only thing that can stop our world from being changed forever.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

YA ARC Review: Caterpillar Summer by Gillian McDunn

Caterpillar Summer
Author: Gillian McDunn
Publication: Bloomsbury Children's Books (April 2, 2019)

Description: Cat and her brother Chicken have always had a very special bond--Cat is one of the few people who can keep Chicken happy. When he has a "meltdown" she's the one who scratches his back and reads his favorite story. She's the one who knows what Chicken needs. Since their mom has had to work double-hard to keep their family afloat after their father passed away, Cat has been the glue holding her family together.

But even the strongest glue sometimes struggles to hold. When a summer trip doesn't go according to plan, Cat and Chicken end up spending three weeks with grandparents they never knew. For the first time in years, Cat has the opportunity to be a kid again, and the journey she takes shows that even the most broken or strained relationships can be healed if people take the time to walk in one another's shoes.

My Thoughts: This is a middle grade contemporary story about two kids and what they learn on their summer vacation.

Cat has just finished fifth grade. She has a younger brother called Chicken who has just finished first grade. Chicken has some issues that sounded to me like he would fit somewhere on the Autism Spectrum. He is subject to "meltdowns." He is bright and very focused on sharks. Lately, he has taken to running off. Cat spends a lot of time taking care of Chicken so that their mother can write her picture books about Caterpillar and Chicken which Cat sees as loosely based on their life.

Cat is old enough to remember the father that they lost to cancer when Chicken was a baby. She thinks of herself as the glue that holds her family together. But, as she is growing older, she is beginning to feel the restrictions that taking care of Chicken are adding to her life.

They are looking forward to a Summer vacation in Atlanta where her mother is teaching a writing seminar and they will be able to spend time with their best friends who recently moved away. Things fall apart when the friend Rishi's family has to take an emergency trip to India to take care of his grandmother.

Cat's mom decides that the kids should spend time with her parents on an island in North Carolina. Cat has never met those grandparents. Apparently their mom and their grandfather had some sort of falling out. Cat is worried about taking care of Chicken and getting to know her stranger grandparents. She is also very disappointed that she won't be able to spend as much time as she wanted with her mother.

The grandparents and the island come as a pleasant surprise. Grandma Lily is good with Chicken which allows Cat to be a child herself instead of a caregiver. Her grandfather takes a bit longer to warm up to the kids but Cat is a persistent child. Between new friends, biking and a fishing contest, Cat comes to love living on the island and becomes determined that her mother and grandfather make up their differences so that they don't lose track of these new people.

Cat is thoughtful and older than her age mainly because of the responsibility she feels for her little brother and for her mother. The story was moving and engaging and I read it in one sitting. I recommend it for thoughtful middle grade readers.

Favorite Quote:
A wave bubbled her back a step. Cat dug her toes deep in the sand. She glanced again at Chicken, who held Lily's had like it was the most normal thing in the world. Cat wanted to flop down and cry, like Chicken had at the airport. The difference was, Chicken knew someone would carry him and Cat didn't. She always picked herself up. She would have to figure out how to do that here.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from the publisher. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

ARC Review: An Artless Demise by Anna Lee Huber

An Artless Demise
Author: Anna Lee Huber
Series: A Lady Darby Mystery (Book 7)
Publication: Berkley (April 2, 2019)

Description: Lady Darby returns to London with her new husband, Sebastian Gage, but newlywed bliss won't last for long when her past comes back to haunt her in the latest exciting installment in this national bestselling series.

November 1831. After fleeing London in infamy more than two years prior, Lady Kiera Darby's return to the city is anything but mundane, though not for the reasons she expected. A gang of body snatchers is arrested on suspicion of imitating the notorious misdeeds of Edinburgh criminals, Burke and Hare--killing people from the streets and selling their bodies to medical schools. Then Kiera's past--a past she thought she'd finally made peace with--rises up to haunt her.

All of London is horrified by the evidence that "burkers" are, indeed, at work in their city. The terrified populace hovers on a knife's edge, ready to take their enmity out on any likely suspect. And when Kiera receives a letter of blackmail, threatening to divulge details about her late anatomist husband's involvement with the body snatchers and wrongfully implicate her, she begins to apprehend just how precarious her situation is. Not only for herself, but also her new husband and investigative partner, Sebastian Gage, and their unborn child.

Meanwhile, the young scion of a noble family has been found murdered a block from his home, and the man's family wants Kiera and Gage to investigate. Is it a failed attempt by the London burkers, having left the body behind, or the crime of someone much closer to home? Someone who stalks the privileged, using the uproar over the burkers to cover his own dark deeds?

My Thoughts: In this seventh case in the Lady Darby mysteries, Gage and Keira are in London. London is quite unsettled. The Reform Bill which would readjust districts for the House of Commons and give votes to more men has failed twice. When a body is discovered at one of the medical schools and is clearly a victim of murder, fears that have only just subsided after the Burke and Hare case are reignited. It also brings Keira's past back into the foreground. She's the widow of a noted anatomist who forced her to draw his dissections. But when he died of an apoplexy, a jealous rival painted Keira as complicit in her husband's work and his hiring of ressurectionists to supply the bodies he dissected. Keira's reputation was ruined and she is only just rebuilding her reputation.

Gage and his valet Anderley become deeply involved in trying to identify the most recent victim of these "burkers." It is pretty clear that the victim is one of the Italian Boys - a group of young men who are beggars in London and other large English cities. In the course of trying to identify the young man, it becomes clear that there are many missing persons in London. Men, women and children have been disappearing for quite a while. This raises the public's fears that they are disappearing to provide cadavers for the medical schools.

Things come quite a bit closer to home when Keira and Gage discover the body of Lord Feckenham, the heir of one of their recent hosts. Gage is hired to find out who killed him. In the course of their investigation, it becomes clear that the list of possible murders is quite large. Feckenham was a brute, a bully, and a complete reprobate. His parents even have to keep his sisters out of his orbit. His brother Penrose looks like a good suspect except for his alibi. Penrose is a much better person than his brother and was his brother's victim on many occasions. He also has secrets to protect.

The investigation gets more complicated when a second victim is found. David Newbury is also from the upper class. His sister is being courted by Keira's brother. He is also completely different than Lord Feckenham. He's honorable, pleasant and charitable. Keira and Gage spend a lot of time trying to find some connection between the two men.

Their investigation is interrupted when Keira receives a blackmail threat which says that the blackmailers will indicate to the newspapers that she was deeply involved with the resurrectionists along with her first husband. Keira is frightened that this lie will hurt the ones the she loves including her new husband and her unborn baby.

Adding to the threat is news that the man who inherited her first husband's papers is getting ready to publish them which will expose the years of abuse she suffered and make it so that the scandal will never die down.

This was an excellent addition to this well-written and intriguing historical mystery series. I liked watching the relationship between Gage and Keira grow. I liked the way Keira is growing too and becoming more assertive when she faces Society.

The mystery was interesting and had a number of red herrings taking the reader and Keira and Gage off on tangents before the true murderer was found. I love the way the details of the time period were woven into, and essential to, the plot of this story.

Favorite Quote:
"And so it begins again," I murmured. "The old accusations. The frightened glances and furious snubs." I gritted my teeth against a surge of anger. "Will the past never leave me be?"
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

YA ARC Review: The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

The Devouring Gray
Author: Christine Lynn Herman
Series: The Devouring Gray (Book 1)
Publication: Disney-Hyperion (April 2, 2019)

Description: After the death of her sister, seventeen-year-old Violet Saunders finds herself dragged to Four Paths, New York. Violet may be a newcomer, but she soon learns her mother isn't: They belong to one of the revered founding families of the town, where stone bells hang above every doorway and danger lurks in the depths of the woods.

Justin Hawthorne's bloodline has protected Four Paths for generations from the Gray-a lifeless dimension that imprisons a brutal monster. After Justin fails to inherit his family's powers, his mother is determined to keep this humiliation a secret. But Justin can't let go of the future he was promised and the town he swore to protect.

Ever since Harper Carlisle lost her hand to an accident that left her stranded in the Gray for days, she has vowed revenge on the person who abandoned her: Justin Hawthorne. There are ripples of dissent in Four Paths, and Harper seizes an opportunity to take down the Hawthornes and change her destiny-to what extent, even she doesn't yet know.

The Gray is growing stronger every day, and its victims are piling up. When Violet accidentally unleashes the monster, all three must band together with the other Founders to unearth the dark truths behind their families' abilities... before the Gray devours them all.

My Thoughts: This sort of spooky story is about a trapped monster and the descendants of the four families that trapped it. Four Paths, New York, is a small town with a big secret. Violet Saunders is seventeen, grieving the loss of her sister, trying to understand a mother she sees as indifferent, and a new resident of Four Paths. She and her mother have come to take care of her mother's sister Daria who has dementia.

Now that Violet and her mother have returned, there are again representatives of each of the four founding families in town. And the equinox is coming. At the equinox, the monster is the strongest and the founders are at their weakest.

Justin Hawthorne is the town's golden boy. He's a descendant of the founders - but he failed the ritual that would have given him the power to keep the monster in check. With his mother the sheriff using the family powers to keep the Hawthornes prominent, Justin has to keep his lack of powers secret. His sister May holds the power in their generation but is completely under the control of their mother.

Harper Carlisle was Justin's best friend until she failed the ritual that should have confirmed her powers. She lost her hand, her friendship with Justin, and her place in her own family. She is angry at Justin and wants revenge for his betrayal.

Isaac Sullivan is Justin's best friend and the only survivor still in town from his family. He has anger issues and a really scary power.

Violet needs to find out what her power is and perform the ritual so that she can control it before the equinox. Because, not only does the monster want out, but he has human help who also want to free him and free the town from being controlled by the descendants of the founders.

This was an interesting story with lots of scary bits as Violet gets swept into the Gray. The relationships between all the kids were complex but engaging. The hidden secrets in the town kept the plot moving. Fans of the creepy will enjoy this one.

Favorite Quote:
People could hurt each other without being monsters. And they could love each other without being saints. 
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, March 25, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (March 25, 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...

I don't want to say this too loud and annoy Winter but it looks like Spring is coming. We have had bright sunny days, warmer than average temperatures, and lots of melting snow this past week. We actually have patches of bare ground showing around the snow drifts which are looking very pitted and ugly.

I have been enjoying lots of Spring Training baseball games but am also eager for the real season to start on Thursday. The Voice is getting more exciting now that the battle rounds are beginning too. I'm reading some of my own books before I begin reading my May review copies.

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 Curse of the Silver Pharaoh by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris - steampunk mystery. My review will be posted on April 13. 
  • Wolfhunter River by Rachel Caine (Review) - 3rd in intense thriller series. My review will be posted on April 16.
  • Hide and Seek by Mary Burton (Review) - Beginning of a new suspense series. My review will be posted on April 18.

  • Written in Red by Anne Bishop - reread of favorite "comfort" series
  • Spellslinger by Sebastien De Castell (Mine and purchased recently) - Entertaining epic fantasy story. My review will be posted on April 20.


Next Week

Reviews Posted

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

  • Rough Justice by Kelley Armstrong - She's a favorite author.
  • Nothing Stays Buried by P. J. Tracy - I'm collecting the full Monkeewrench series and plan to read them before I read the newest which I have in ARC version.

  • Shadowblack by Sebastien De Castell - I enjoyed book 1 in this series and want to read more.
  • Limelight by Emily Organ - This historical mystery just sounded good. 

What was your week like?

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Book Review: Grave Dance by Kalayna Price

Grave Dance
Author: Kalayna Price
Series: Alex Craft (Book 2)
Publication: Ace (July 5, 2011)

Description: After a month of down time, Grave Witch Alex Craft is ready to get back to solving murders by raising the dead. With her love life in turmoil, Alex is eager for the distractions of work. But when her new case forces her to overuse her magic, it might be the last mystery the Grave Witch ever gets to solve...

My Thoughts: Though Alex's love life in sort of in disarray, professionally she is doing better. When her friend John the homicide detective calls her in to consult on a case where all he has is left feet from a number of victims. Unfortunately, one foot isn't enough for Alex to manifest the shade and find out what happened.

Besides her new talent of ripping holes in reality is making her too popular with the fae. The Winter Queen wants to attach her to her court. Meanwhile, Alex's friend Rianna comes to her with a request. As a changeling, she must stay in faerie and she sort of belongs to Alex. When Alex defeated the body stealer in the previous book, she inherited all of his property including Rianna, a castle, and a brownie housekeeper. However, she has to go to faerie to claim it.

She has also brought a problem to Death and the other soul collectors. It seems there is a rogue soul collector in the left foot part of the story. He is collecting souls before the people die. What he wants them for and how he is using them are a mystery that Alex needs to solve. Her relationship with Death is also causing complications. He is interested in a romantic relationship which is being heavily discouraged by the other soul collectors.

Her relationship with Falin is also going through a stressful time. She didn't see or hear from him for a month after their first adventure. And when he does return he has been mortally injured. He is trying to keep her away from the Winter Queen but she needs to go to faerie to rescue her best friend who has disappeared there. In faerie, it is confirmed that Falin is the Winter Queen's assassin and was once her lover. She isn't willing to let him go and he is bound to follow all of her orders.

This was an entertaining urban fantasy story. I like the characters. I like that Alex is developing new powers which make her stronger and which make her life much more complicated. I'm eager to find out what is next for her and the men in her life.

Favorite Quote:
"You think I'm letting you out of my sight? Alex, you are a magnet for trouble, though, in trouble's defense, you go out looking for it. What with tearing holes in reality in the middle of populated streets and wandering the wilds using raw meat to draw out a fae will know for tearing people to shreds and eating them, it's a wonder you're not completely entangled in trouble." He shook his head. 
I bought this one on July 7, 2012 and am rereading it. You can buy your copy here.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Book Review: Grave Witch by Kalayna Price

Grave Witch
Author: Kalayna Price
Series: Alex Craft series (Book 1)
Publication: Ace (October 5, 2010)

Description: Not even death can save her now. 

As a grave witch, Alex Craft can speak to the dead-she's even on good terms with Death himself. As a consultant for the police, she's seen a lot of dark magic, but nothing has prepared her for her latest case. When she's raising a "shade" involved in a high profile murder, it attacks her, and then someone makes an attempt on her life. Someone really doesn't want her to know what the dead have to say, and she'll have to work with mysterious homicide detective Falin Andrews to figure out why...

My Thoughts: Alex Craft is a grave witch. She can speak to the dead. In fact, she is set to make a witness appear from beyond the grave at a groundbreaking court trial. She needs the work. Her rent is overdue, her refrigerator is empty, and her Chinese Crested's vet bill for a broken leg still needs to be paid.

When she gets a call from her estranged sister to see if she can check out her boyfriend's shade to find out who killed him, she finds herself deep into a long-running fae plot. Her sister's boyfriend was the governor of Necros. She gets into the morgue by way of her friend John who is a homicide detective. He wants help identifying a body from a body dump. While she's there she'll get a look at the body her sister is interested in.

John's corpse rises screaming but Alex recognizes her as a fellow student at the wyrd academy her father sent her to when he disowned her because of her witchcraft. After all, her father is a leading proponent of the Humans First party in Necros and, since his daughter's boyfriend's death, he's the new governor.

At the morgue she also becomes haunted herself by a ghost who is claiming that the former governor stole his body twelve years ago. She also gets hit with a soul-stealing curse. And she meets the Falin Andrews who is a man of mystery in charge of the investigation into the governor's death.

This was an interesting urban fantasy mystery as she works with Falin to find out about the body stealing entity who impersonated the governor and is now in someone else's body. She has until the full moon to find the impersonator or she'll die and the impersonator's plan with bring devastation to Necros.

I liked Alex. I liked that using her grave magic had a cost. Using it too much makes her blind and has totally ruined her night vision. I liked that she learned some new things about herself and her family. I liked her relationship with Falin and her relationship with Death who is a collector of souls.

Favorite Quote:

He held up his hands, palm forward, and mouthed something, which could have been anything from "I'm sorry" to "please help."

One day I had to learn to read lips. But not today.
I bought this one March 12, 2011 and am rereading it. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Friday Memes: Grave Witch by Kalayna Price

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.

The first time I encountered Death, I hurled my mother's medical chart at him. As far as impressions went, I blew it, but I was five at the time, so he eventually forgave me. Some days I wished he hadn't - particularly when we crossed paths on the job.
Friday 56:
I needed to know more about Bartholomew. I hit the icon to bring up my Internet browser. My e-mail was set as my home screen, and I groaned at the number of unread messages in my in-box. I scanned, deleting as I went. As expected, most were from the press.

One wasn't.
This week I am rereading a book I read in 2011 - the first in a series - to refresh my memory before I read the sixth book in the series. Grave Witch by Kalayna Price is urban fantasy. Here is the description from Amazon:
Not even death can save her now. 

As a grave witch, Alex Craft can speak to the dead-she's even on good terms with Death himself. As a consultant for the police, she's seen a lot of dark magic, but nothing has prepared her for her latest case. When she's raising a "shade" involved in a high profile murder, it attacks her, and then someone makes an attempt on her life. Someone really doesn't want her to know what the dead have to say, and she'll have to work with mysterious homicide detective Falin Andrews to figure out why...

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Book Review: Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold

Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
Series: The Sharing Knife (Book 1)
Publication: Harper Voyager; First Edition edition (October 10, 2006)

Description: One of the most respected writers in the field of speculative fiction, Lois McMaster Bujold has won numerous accolades and awards, including the Nebula and Locus Awards as well as the fantasy and science fiction genre’s most prestigious honor, the Hugo Award for Best Novel, four times (most recently for Paladin of Souls.

The Sharing Knife series, Bujold creates a brand new world fraught with peril, and spins an extraordinary romance between a young farm girl and the brave sorcerer-soldier entrusted with the defense of the land against a plague of vicious malevolent beings. Meet Fawn Bluefield and Dag Redwing Hickory in Beguilement, the first book in Bujold’s unforgettable four-volume fantasy saga, and witness the birth of their dangerous romance—a love threatened by prejudice and perilous magic, and by Dag’s sworn duty as Lakewalker patroller and necromancer.

My Thoughts: This is Lois McMaster Bujold's take on epic fantasy but twisted in the Bujold way. Fawn Bluefield is a young Farmer girl who has run away from home and is taking an unplanned pregnancy with her. She's looking for a new start in a place where she is valued and isn't made to feel stupid.

Dag Redwing Hickory is a Patroller, a Lakewalker, who spends his life looking for the malices who randomly pop up and who, if left unchecked, can totally destroy the world.

Their first encounter has Fawn hiding up and tree and Dag resting beneath it. She thinks she's hidden but her spark of life makes her very visible to him. Their next encounter is when she is kidnapped on the road by a bandit and a mudman and Dag rescues her. He takes her to a nearby abandoned farmplace where she can stay until he deals with the malice. But then she is captured by mudmen sent by the malice and Dag is barely in time to rescue her.

In the course of the rescue, the malice steals the groundsense from her baby and kills it and Fawn is the one who manages to insert Dag's sharing knife into the Malice killing it. Fawn has accidentally primed Dag's second knife which is a baffling circumstance that needs Lakewalkers with more knowledge to explain.

Dealing with her miscarriage and his injuries brings them close together. In fact they fall in love which is an unlikely and unwanted thing for a number of reasons. He's much older and battered and battle scarred. She's young and naive but bright and full of life. But Lakewalkers and Farmers don't fall in love and they certainly don't marry. Farmers are generally suspicious of the mysterious Lakewalkers and Lakewalkers generally look down on the Farmers.

In this episode, Dag has to first convince his patrol of his decision to be with Fawn and he is given lots of reasons why this relationship won't work. Second, on their way to get some clarity about his newly primed knife, they need to stop at Fawn's home and convince her parents and brothers that getting married is a good idea.

This book is filled with fascinating characters and set in an intriguing world. Fawn is loved by her family but neither valued or listened to. It is surprising that she is as sane and well-grounded as she is after their loving abuse. Her relationship with the father of her child broke her tender heart. His callous cruelty could easily have destroyed a weaker girl. Dag is also a wonderful character who has magic and who has managed to survive horrible things including the loss of his wife and most of his patrol. He's been surviving and doing his duty for his people but it isn't until he meets Fawn that he really begins living again.

Luckily, this is the first of four books about Dag and Fawn. There is so much more for them to do and for them to learn about each other.

Favorite Quote:
"Walking the patterns isn't some emergency where you can drop everything, deal heroically, and then go home for good and all. It all starts again tomorrow at dawn. Ad you'll have to get up and walk your share just the same."
I bought this one back in 2006 and am rereading it. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

YA ARC Review: Killing November by Adriana Mather

Killing November
Author: Adriana Mather
Publication: Knopf Books for Young Readers (March 26, 2019)

Description: November is trapped.

At the mysterious Academy Absconditi, a school that's completely off the grid, there's no electricity, no internet, and a brutal eye-for-an-eye punishment system. Classes include everything from knife-throwing and poisons to the art of deception. And the other students? All children of the world's most elite strategists, in training to become assassins, spies, and master manipulators. November Adley doesn't know why she's been sent to this place, or the secrets that make up its legacy, but she'll quickly discover that allies are few in a school where competition is everything. When another student is murdered, all eyes turn to November, who must figure out exactly how she fits in before she is found guilty of the crime...or becomes the killer's next victim.

From the #1 New York Times  bestselling author Adriana Mather comes a captivating thriller that will leave you breathless.

My Thoughts: This was an entertaining and engaging boarding school mystery. November was raised in a quiet Connecticut town by her father and aunt after her mother died. Now seventeen and with her family in danger, she is sent to Academy Absconditi - a hidden and dangerous boarding school - where she learns many of the secrets of her past that the other students already expect her to know.

Worst of all for November is that someone is either trying to kill her or trying to frame her for the murders of some other students. Though she has more physical skills than she realized she had, she is totally ignorant of the politics and rivalries here at the school which trains the best of the best of the Strategia secret society.

She isn't totally on her own. Her roommate Layla and Layla's brother Ash are willing to make a deal to give her some information. Of course, trusting anyone in the school is dangerous. Everyone has an agenda that is hidden from November.

I liked the worldbuilding that creates a secret society begun in ancient times, a society whose members have manipulated history for all that time. I enjoyed learning about the ins and outs and rivalries in the world along with November. I really enjoyed November. She was smart, gregarious, and trained by her father to think outside of the box. She'll need all her skills to survive her time at Academy Absconditi.

Favorite Quote:
He plops on the couch. "Welcome to Academy Absconditi, November, where the scheming never stops, and where someone is always trying to push you off a ledge. You're in a dangerous situation. You're taking calculated risks to get out of it. But risks are still risks."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Book Review: The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch

The Hanging Tree
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Series: Peter Grant (Book 6)
Publication: DAW; Reissue edition (January 31, 2017)

Description: Suspicious deaths are not usually the concern of Police Constable Peter Grant or the Folly—London’s police department for supernatural cases—even when they happen at an exclusive party in one of the flats of the most expensive apartment blocks in London. But the daughter of Lady Ty, influential goddess of the Tyburn river, was there, and Peter owes Lady Ty a favor.

Plunged into the alien world of the super-rich, where the basements are bigger than the houses, where the law is something bought and sold on the open market, a sensible young copper would keep his head down and his nose clean.

But this is Peter Grant we’re talking about.

He’s been given an unparalleled opportunity to alienate old friends and create new enemies at the point where the world of magic and that of privilege intersect. Assuming he survives the week…

My Thoughts: This sixth Peter Grant novel begins with Lady Ty calling in a favor. It seems that her daughter was at a party filled with drugs where a young friend of hers died from an overdose. Lady Ty wants Peter to make it go away and to keep his involvement secret from Nightingale. Naturally, Peter's first phone call is to Nightingale and his next to the police to find out what is going on.

A group of young people from one of the neighboring high class schools has broken in to a posh apartment to have a party complete with illegal drugs which results in the death of seventeen-year-old Christina Chorley. Beyond Lady Ty's daughter Olivia's involvement, it isn't long before the case gets even more complex and more magical.

As Peter and Guleed investigate connections are made to a long-missing magical book written by Isaac Newton and the number of people who would like to get hold of it. There are also links to the Faceless Man that Peter and Nightingale have been chasing for the whole series which culminate in them actually finding out who the Faceless Man is.

I liked that we learn about more groups of practitioners than Peter or even Nightingale knew about. I especially liked meeting Lady Helena and her daughter Caroline who are also heirs of Isaac Newton's tradition but who branched off when magic became a boys only club. The American practitioners were also a new set of characters.

This story was entertaining as I can never get enough of Peter's determination and snark. I like the way his relationship with Beverly is progressing.

Favorite Quote:
One Hyde Park squatted next to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel like a stack of office furniture, with all the elegance and charm of the inside of a photocopier. Albeit a brand new photocopier that doubled as a fax and document scanner. Now, I have - as Beverly says - views about architecture.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, March 18, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (March 18, 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...

We had really changeable weather this week. We had a couple of days of rain and fog which melted a lot of our snow and caused some localized flooding. Then it got colder again but bright and sunny.

This was my week to have my taxes done. Hearing all the horror stories about people expecting refunds and having to pay instead, I was a little worried. However, mine turned out okay. I got a pretty good refund from the Federal Government and owed the State less than $100. Now that my income streams have stabilized in my retirement, I could go in and adjust withholding but I don't mind getting a substantial refund each year.

My brother and I had intended to go out to dinner on Friday evening. But after driving by three different restaurants and seeing long lines at each of them, we decided ordering a pizza would be a lot less stressful. I still have a coupon for the first restaurant that we wanted to eat at and will probably go out by myself this evening. I am able to do that again now that the days stay light so much longer. Not driving in the dark does limit some of my restaurant choices for part of the year.

I have been busy watching Spring Training baseball games and The Voice. Otherwise, I've been concentrating on reading. This week I have my two final April releases and then can tackle some of my recent purchases.

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 Ghost Manuscript by Kris Frieswick (Review; April 2) - Thriller regarding old manuscripts and the hunt for King Arthur. My review will be posted on March 31.
  • A Hidden Magic by Vivian Vande Velde (Mine) - This dusty old paperback has been on my shelf since Oct. 5, 2010. It was an entertaining middle grade story with lots of fairy tale tropes. 
  • Dreaming Darkly by Caitlin Kittredge (YA Review; April 9) - YA Gothic mystery. My review will be posted on April 2.

  • A Dream of Death by Connie Berry (Review; April 9) - Mystery set in Scotland. My review will be posted on April 4.
  • Come and Get Me by August Norman (Review; April 9) - a journalist comes back to her college to collect on honorary degree and finds herself involved with a serial killer and missing girls. My review will be posted on April 6.

  • The Hummingbird Dagger by Cindy Anstey (YA Review; April 16) - Historical mystery/romance. My review will be posted on April 10.
  • Under the Table by Stephanie Evanovich (Review; April 16) - Contemporary romance. My review will be posted on April 11.


Next Week

Reviews Posted

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



What was your week like?