New free ebook from Tor.com

Well, it’s that time of the month again: time for a new free ebook from Tor.com. This month it is Kushiel’s Dart.  It sounds interesting, and I am looking forward to reading it. The ebook club page explains the story this way:

Cast aside due to the scarlet mote marring her left eye, Phèdre is saved by enigmatic nobleman Anafiel Delaunay. The spymaster recognizes her as being touched by the cruel god Kushiel, cursed (or blessed) to find pleasure in pain.

Under Delaunay’s patronage, Phèdre is trained as a courtesan spy, an expert in history, art, politics, masterful in the the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. In the bedchambers of the City of Elua’s nobles, gathering intel during pillow talk, Phèdre’s real training begins.

Oh, wait! I just saw that it is supposed to be over 900 pages! That’s a lot! We’ll have to see how it goes, I guess.

Anyway, if you want to check it out, go to Tor.com’s ebook club page by July 19th!

Advertisements

June reading, part 3

OK… Let’s see if I can finish this today!

I read two historical novels:

  • A Covent Garden Mystery by Ashley Gardner is the 6th book in the Captain Lacey series. And I loved it every bit as much as I have loved all the others I have read. In this one, we learn a lot more about the good captain and meet his daughter and wife. The mystery involves the daughter, and it is a good story. Then there is the issue of his wife and how their marital issues can be solved. Needless to say, everything ends well. This is a wonderful series of mysteries set in London in the early 1800s. Lacey is a wonderful character, and this book allows us to see another side of him. I highly recommend it.
  • Bladesong: 1151 in the Holy Land  by Jean Gill is the second book in the Troubadours series. I read the first one so long ago that I had to take a moment at the beginning of this book to try to remember it.  This can be read on its own, but I think it would be better to read them in order. Most of this book takes place in the Holy Land after the Second Crusade. The war is over for the moment, but the intrigue is still going strong. Dragonetz is on a mission to Jerusalem that will allow him to redeem his debts. Estela is serving as troubadour and teacher to a young woman on the eve of her marriage. When she is encouraged to travel to Jerusalem to meet Dragonetz and sing for the Queen of Jerusalem, Estela jumps at the chance. Of course, things aren’t quite what they seem. Alls well that ends well, though, and there is a third book in the series. I am planning to read it soon!

I read two books that I classified as “other fiction”:

  • Going Home by Win and Meredith Blevins is the story of a writer whose wife died, leaving him with not much to look forward to except his own death. He and his son aren’t on the best of terms, and he can’t seem to make himself write. Then one day, the spirit of Mark Twain arrives at his door, and things take a decided turn for the better. But it can’t really be Mark Twain, can it? What is possible in this world? Lewis, the main character, finally decides to stop trying to figure it all out and just goes with it as the pair travel down the Mississippi on a paddle boat. And at the end, he is glad he did. This is a good book. It might be a little preachy if it weren’t Mark Twain handing out the advice, but it is, so it doesn’t feel heavy-handed. I have purchased a number of books by these authors, and this is the first one I have read. I plan to read more.
  • Long Time Coming by Edie Claire is a romance novel with a mystery and a ghost making sure that the truth comes out. No one can convince Joy that her friend’s death 18 years ago was really an accident. If Jenny died in an accident, it had to be her boyfriend, Jeff’s fault. Joy left town soon after the accident, convinced of that fact. But now she is home again and has to face facts.  Since I said it was a romance, you can probably guess how it ends, but Joy discovering the story of what really happened that night and coming to terms with it all is worth reading the book for. I recommend this book if you like sweet, hopeful romances.

And finally, I read three shorter works:

  • Snapshot by Brandon Sanderson was a really good detective story. In order to solve crimes, a snapshot is taken of the day in question, and two detectives are sent in to look for clues that can help real-world detectives solve the case. They aren’t supposed to change anything, just look for clues. And it isn’t easy. The story is excellent! At the end I have to admit I was surprised. Please pick this up and read it!
  • Fallback – A Sam Prichard Mystery by David Archer lets us see how Sam Prichard became the man we meet in The Grave Man. While there were a couple inconsistencies with what appears in the later books, I really enjoyed it. We meet Sam as he is finishing high school and watch him grow up. It is worth reading, for sure!
  • Smuggler Ship by Lindsay Buroker is the prequel to her Sky Full of Stars series that I got as subscriber to her newsletter. The first book in that series is The Rogue Prince. The main character is the daughter of Alisa Marchenko of the Fallen Empire series. I really enjoyed this prequel and will be reading more in the series.

So that’s it for June. Let’s see how July goes!

 

June reading, part 2

I only read 4 speculative novels last month:

  • Avanaux by PJ McDermott was a really good book. It is the first book (after the prequel) in the Propsperine Trilogy. I had greatly enjoyed the prequel I read back in December, but I have to admit that I had a hard time making the transition from what I had read then to the start of this book. Once I took a minute to remember what had happened, the transition was easy, and I really enjoyed this book! Just to make things a little more confusing, though, McDermott has reissued this book with a new name: The Alien Corps. The story is about religion and politics, set in another world. You might not think that sounds like a good mix, but it is worth definitely worth a read. I will try to read the rest of the series one of these days.
  • Old Man’s War by John Scalzi was Tor.com’s ebook selection for the month. In contrast to the last couple months’ selections, I have to say I really enjoyed this one. The concept sounds very normal: people sign up to join the military to fight aliens. The twist is that you can’t enlist until you reach the age of 75. None of the soldiers really knows what to expect until they actually enter training, and even then they aren’t real sure. While the recruits learn to deal with their new abilities, a small group develops a friendship that carries them through this whole book, at least. But it isn’t all fun and games; it is war, and they soon learn just what that means. There are cuurently, at least, 6 books in this series, and I really would like to read them all.
  • Hyde – an Urban Fantasy by Lauren Stewart is a twist on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It is written for adults. (Think Karen Moning’s Fever series.) I enjoyed the book. Mitch and Eden are being manipulated, forced into being people they don’t want to be and into a relationship with each other that neither wants. It is a tale of good versus evil — with some twists and turns along the way. I will read the rest of this series, I’m pretty sure.
  • Deathmaker by Lindsay Buroker is the second book in her Dragon Blood series. As expected, it was a great book, and I loved it. Buroker writes equally well about battles and romance. Her characters are sarcastic, a trait I really enjoy.  The only criticism I could possible have about this book is that what I have said about it so far could be said about most of Buroker’s books. This one seemed a little too much like a few other of hers I have read: “soldiers” on opposing sides end up being thrown together, fight their way out of many tough spots, and fall in love along the way. Having said that, though, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters, while similar to those in other books, are individuals in their own right, not carbon copies of someone else. I love Buroker’s writing and her story telling, and this book did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm. I encourage you to give her stuff a try if you haven’t yet.

Well, this took longer than it should have, so that’s all for today. More later!

June Reading

Well, I’ll get started on my June reading today. I got quite a bit done, it seems.

I read one non-fiction book: A History of the Popes, Volume 1: Origins to the Middle Ages  by Wyatt North. It was an interesting book, but it probably wouldn’t appeal to lots of people. This is an overview, not in any way an in-depth study. Each of the men discussed got only a brief description, including his election, his death, and any important event that took place during his papacy. It was interesting to me to learn more about these early popes.

I read five mysteries:

  • Rio Grande Fall by Rudolfo Anaya was wonderful! This was the second book in his Sonny Baca series, and I enjoyed it every but as much as the first one, Zia Summer. The mysticism is stronger here, and that may not appeal to some readers, but it was a very important element as far as I am concerned. I love learning about different cultures, but oftentimes authors don’t fully understand the culture they are describing. No such worries when one is reading Anaya! This story was engaging, but the characters are even more so. I really cannot recommend this book, this series, enough!
  • Ice Blue by Emma Jameson was a good story that made me think of Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley series. Anthony Hetheridge is a Baron and Chief Superintendent of New Scotland Yard. He rescues the career of a young detective who has managed to anger some of the good old boys who run Scotland Yard.  Of course, he ends up being attracted to the detective and, as this is called the Lord &  Lady Hetheridge Mystery Series, I assume it ends up moving beyond just attraction! The mystery was good, and it was never overshadowed by the personal stories of the characters. This is a series I plan to read more of. I really enjoyed it!
  • In the Spirit of Murder  by Laura Belgrave was a good story. The female detective was hired sight unseen because the police chief wanted to “prove” to the town and to the county sheriff that the department was able to handle anything that might come its way. Needless to say, the detective ended up being more than the chief bargained for, and she was generally unnecessary — until a serial killer struck. The story was good, but it felt dated. Although it was copyrighted 2012, it felt like it was set in the 1990s. Modern readers will have to try to remember what life was like before we had computers and cell phones if they don’t want to be jarred by some detail in almost every chapter. For that reason — and none other — I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone under the age of 45. The story was a good one, but it would have been solved much more quickly if anyone had had a cell phone!
  • Cruising for Death by D.V. Berkom is the fifth book in Berkom’s Kate Jones series, but it is the frist one I have read. I was looking forward to it because I really enjoyed what I’ve read of her Leine Basso series, but I have to admit I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much. That could be due to the fact that I didn’t start at the beginning of the series, but I don’t know. If I read more of these, I may be able to answer that question later on. There are lots of twists and turns in the story — almost too many for me, I’m afraid. Again, though, it might have been easier to follow if I had started with book 1. So if you want to give this series a try, I would not start this far into it!
  • Death by Obsession by Jaden Skye is the eighth book in this series. I have read many of the earlier ones and at least one that comes after this one, so that wasn’t a problem for me. What was a problem, though, was that the editing and formatting were terrible. A more discriminating reader would probably have given up long before reaching the end of the book. On top of that, this story didn’t seem as well developed as some of them have been. I think this is a case of a series going beyond where it should have stopped!

So that’s it for today! I’ll be back to continue tomorrow!

More May reading

Finally back to this!

I only read three books that I classified as speculative fiction:

  • Arrival (Stories of Your Life) by Ted Chiang contains the story that served as the basis for the movie Arrival. I did not see the movie, although I thought I wanted to, but I have to say now that I am very glad I didn’t.  Not that the movie was bad or anything. It’s just that the story was so good that I don’t think any movie could do it justice! And the other stories in the book are every bit as good as that one. This was a book I paid full price for, and I am very glad I did. I cannot recommend it enough.
  • The Whisper of Stars  by Nick Jones is the first book in a 2-book series. It is a thriller set in the year 2091. It doesn’t seem all that far-fetched. In response to global warming and a rapidly growing population, it is decided that people should go into hibernation on a rotating basis. Of course, it isn’t that simple. I enjoyed the book and will probably try to read the other one.
  • Dragon Rose by Christine Pope was a really enjoyable book. It is cross between Beauty and the Beast and The Hunger Games.  A town is required to supply the dragon with a wife every few years. She is chosen by lottery. Rhianne Menyon volunteers to go in place of her friend, who is engaged to be married to someone else. Sound familiar? It doesn’t feel like a repeat of an old story, though; it is just different enough to feel fresh, to me at least. This is part of a series, and I will likely read more.

I also read two pieces of historical fiction:

  • The Viking by Marti Talbott is the first book in a 5-book series. A young Viking/Scottish boy is left in Scotland after his father is killed. Vikings aren’t very popular in Scotland, and he must be very careful. He is taken in by a family that has its own problems. The story is very good. On Amazon, it is billed as “A clean Scottish family saga” and this book, at least, sets the stage for that.
  • A Body in Berkeley Square by Ashley Gardner is the fifth book in this series that I so much enjoy. Captain Lacey is called in to discover who killed a young man at a ball. The man accused of the crime is his former mentor and superior officer, a man with whom he has had problems in the past. I have really enjoyed all the books in the series that I have read, and this one was no exception. I will be reading more!

I read one novella, another Captain Lacey story by Ashley Gardner, The Necklace AffairAgain, the Captain solves the mystery with the help of his many friends and even an enemy or two. I really enjoy this series!

Finally, I listened to one audiobook, On the Trail of the Space Pirates by Carey Rockwell. I got it from Librivox.org. The story was written for kids, but it was fun to listen to. The young hero, Tom Corbett, is a Space Cadet in the traditional sense of the word, and he ends up saving the day. I enjoyed it.

So that finished up my May reading. So far in June I haven’t read as much as usual, but I may catch up!

May reading, a little late!

I’ve been traveling and haven’t had time, interest or internet connection to post last month’s reading until now. But finally, I am back home and ready to post.

I read The Conquest of the Illinois by George Rogers Clark. It was very interesting to me. I like reading about history (as long as there are no wars involved!) and, being from Illinois, I am especially interested in the history of that part of the country. I won’t say that this was always an easy or fascinating read, but I am glad I read it.

I read 7 mysteries:

  • Zia Summer by Rudolfo Anaya was a really wonderful read. I wasn’t expecting a mystery from Anaya, but the story was wonderful. Even more interesting to me, though, was the insight into New Mexican folklore and traditions. Sonny Baca, the main character is a young man who values the old ways — in some ways like Tony Hillerman’s Jim Chee character. Anaya, of course, is a wonderful writer, and this book was wonderful. As I write this, I am reading the second book in this series. It is every bot as good as the first.
  • Death by Chocolate by Abigail Keam is the sixth book in this series. I haven’t read all of them, but that doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem. An old bad guy is back, trying to kill Josiah, but since this is book 6 in a 10 book series, you can assume she outwits him. I enjoyed this book but I think maybe not as much as I expected to. Not sure why. It is an easy read — maybe too easy!
  • Serial Date  by D.V. Berkom is the first in a series of books about a retired assassin, Leine Basso. She has a complicated history that wasn’t real clear to me in this book, but I think that was intentional. The story kept me interested — even though I don’t read a lot of thrillers because I don’t like the violence that seems to pop up regularly. I was able to get past that in this book to the point where I have read this one and the second book in the series already.
  • Hollywood Assassin by MZ Kelly has been in my library for years, and I just never got around to reading it. Now that I have, I an anxious to read more in the series. And, as you will see by reading on, I have already started on them! Kate Sexton is a detective with the LAPD. Her crazy life just seems to be getting crazier after she stops a cop from being shot — by another cop! I always get nervous when someone sets out to write 26 books in a series, but these are starting out pretty good.
  • Just One Evil Act by Elizabeth George was a book I had looked forward to reading for a long time. It is the 18th book in the Inspector Lynley series, and I think I have read all of the first 17. I finally found this at a decent price and bought it. And for a big chunk of the book, I was sorry I did. Barbara Havers, the main character in this book, gets herself into a mess that I didn’t think she was going to be able to get out of without really disappointing me. The last several books of this series have been far darker and shown a less perfect side of Lynley and Havers, but this one seemed to be going too far as far as I was concerned. Fortunately, George is writes better than I can imagine, and I ended up looking forward to reading book 19. One thing I missed was the active presence of Simon and Deborah St. John in this book. They are really interesting characters, and they only made a cameo here.
  • Bad Traffik by D.V. Berkom is the second book in the Leine Basso series. I enjoyed it more than I expected to. I like the characters, but I thought that a book about trafficking children might be too much for me. But it wasn’t. There were lots of twists and turns that made it interesting. I am going to read more in this series.
  • Hollywood Blood by MZ Kelly was a pretty good second book in the series. There are lots and lots of hilarious characters to keep the reader entertained. The mystery is decent and kept my interest. I am a little worried that the Hollywood craziness will get to be too much before long, but we’ll see.

OK, I managed to take a lot longer to finish this post than it should have, and I still have a bunch of books to go, so I will be back to finish May’s reading!

About that…

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything about my writing over the past month. That would be because I have done very little writing. I certainly haven’t written even every week, much less every day. I am disappointed in myself, but that is the way things are right now. I hope to get back to it, but I am not going to stress about it. We’ll just see what happens, I guess.