Sorry…

In case you were wondering what happened to my August reading report, I want to assure you it will be coming. I have been traveling and Internet access has been intermittent. I’ll be home over the weekend and will get it posted as soon as possible after that. 

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July reading, part 3

OK, here’s the last of my reading for last month:

I read two books I classified as “other”:

  • Georgiana Darcy’s Diary  by Anna Elliott was a wonderful story set in the world of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Georgiana, Mr. Darcy’s sister, refuses all attempts by her aunt to get her married off. She is, of course, in love with Colonel Fitzwilliam. The story will appeal to any fan of Jane Austen, I think. It was a fun read.
  • Honeymoon for One by Lilly Zante is the story of a woman who cancels her wedding after her fiance backs out 6 weeks before the wedding. She decides to go on her honeymoon, though. Hence the title. It was a fun story. It reminded me somewhat of the movie French KissIf you liked that movie, you’ll probably like this book!

I read four shorter works:

  • No Rest for the Wicked by Adam Croft is one of the free books I got from Mr. Croft for subscribing to his email list. It was an unsettling story — more thriller than I really like to read. It was, though, a very good story. It just wasn’t for me.
  • Danger by Brandon Sanderson is one I got throughHumble Bundle. I haven’t been able to locate a link to it anywhere. It was another unsettling story, but I loved it. It is one not set in some fantastical world — which makes it creepier. If you can find it, give it a try!
  • One Hundred Ablutions is by Jacqueline Carey, author of Kushiel’s Dart. It was a good story. Sort, but good. Dala is selected to be slave — an honor, supposedly. It doesn’t work out quite the way anyone planned, though. I am still not a short story fan, but I enjoyed this.
  • Ozoni and Onsens: A Daydreamer Detective Novella by S.J. Pajonas was a fun story that I got from signing up for the author’s newsletter. A romantic New Year’s getaway turns into a disaster, but it ends up right where it should have: at home with family. I enjoyed it a lot.

So that;s it for July. I am off to a decent start in August, so we’ll see how it goes!

July reading, part 2

More reading…

I read one non-fiction book, as usual. After the Prophet by Lesley Hazleton was the excellent story of how the two main divisions in Islam came to be. I knew the story in broad outline, but this book offered more detail and gave me a much better understanding of what happened. It was a fascinating book, and I highly recommend it if you are interested in understanding the religious underpinnings of what is going on in the world today or if, like me, you are just interested in understanding different religions.

I only read three speculative novels. In my defense, one of them was over 800 pages, but…

  • Blood Charged  and Shattered Past by Lindsay Buroker are part of her Dragon Blood series. Blood Charged is the third book in the series, and Shattered Past is actually a stand-alone book set in the same world. Both books were excellent! Buroker’s characters are what make her books so great for me. Yes, they go exciting places and do exciting things, but her characters are so alive and so wonderful that I cannot help but get sucked into their stories. I cannot recommend these books — or any of Buroker’s books — enough!
  • Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey was a story of political intrigue like no other I’ve ever read. Phedre is sold into slavery as a child and eventually sold to a man who trains her to gather information on his political enemies. Secrets are valuable, and Phedre is master at obtaining them. This book, over 800 pages, is more like 2 books in my mind as there is a definite turning point in the story that would have made a logical ending point for the first book. The author widely did not take the easy way out and do this, though. I think the book is richer because it is told as one grand tale. This is not a book for children or teens due, but it is definitely an excellent book!

I also read two historical novels:

  • Son of a Duke  by Jessie Clever is a historical romance. Eleanora Quinton is head housekeeper to a society family. She is known for planning every single detail of whatever event her employers are hosting. Her entire reputation is thrown up in the air by the murder of a man at one of those events. There is a duke and a duke’s son involved, of course. They are not exactly who they seem to be, though. It is a spy story, after all! This was a fun read.
  • The Drifter by William W. Johnstone is a Western, plain and simple. Frank Morgan was forced to leave town many years ago, but he returns when he hears that the mine owner is having trouble. Turns out she was his wife. He takes on the job of Marshall and protects the town from the gangs that have been plaguing it. There is no happy ending here, but there is a lot of integrity. I wouldn’t want to read a steady diet of Westerns, but I enjoy them from time to time. This was definitely a good one!

OK, that’s all for now. Back later!

July Reading, part 1

I did lots of reading last month, and it will probably take me several days to report on it here. But let’s get a start on it today!

Mysteries included the following:

  • The Gray and Guilty Sea: An Oregon Coast Mystery by Scott William Carter was a good story that I have had sitting on my Kobo for a long time. I am not sure why I didn’t pick it up before now. Oh well…  Garrison Gage is a private investigator from New York who ran away from it all after his wife was murdered and he was injured. He heads for the Oregon coast, about as far away as he could get. He has no interest in investigating anything, but after he discovers a dead girl’s body at his feet as he walks the beach, he finds himself sucked into trying to figure out how she ended up there. As I said, the story is a good one.
  • Sacrifice is the third book in Carolyn Arnold’s Madison Knight series. It was a good story. A rich man’s son is found dead. Madison suspects the father, but she is met by a lot of opposition from the Chief of Police. To further complicate things, the Secret Service is investigating the father. I have mixed feelings about Knight as a character, but this story was definitely worth reading.
  • Torch Ginger by Toby Neal is the second book in her Lei Crime series.  I read the first one quite a while ago, and I enjoyed it, so I finally decided to read the next one. As you will note if you continue reading this post, I read the third, fourth and fifth books in the series this month, too, so I must have enjoyed it! A missing husband leads Lei to uncover a string of murders. She is eventually able to solve them, of course, but not without a lot of problems along the way!  It was a good story, and I recommend it.
  • Requiem by Celina Grace is the second book in her Kate Redman series. I enjoyed it a great deal. This time the murder victim, a young woman, leads Kate to question her own brother’s possible involvement. The case is a complicated one, of course, but Kate is able to solve it.
  • Black Jasmine  by Toby Neal is her third Lei Crime novel. Reviews on Amazon are mixed, of course, but I enjoyed it. This book brings Lei’s relationship with Michael, her former fiance, back to the forefront. Many of the negative comments about the book focused on that element rather than the mystery. I liked watching them work through their relationship, so I didn’t mind the pages devoted to that. (I didn’t like the ending, though!) As you can see below, I am still reading the series!
  • In Broken Ferns by Toby Neal, Lei has moved on to the FBI. As someone who always struggled to follow orders, this didn’t seem like a good move for her, but she didn’t ask me! The FBI is called in to investigate a robbery; a light aircraft was stolen from its rich owner. The guy’s dog was taken, too. Who would do that? Turns out it was someone who loved dogs and wanted to use the aircraft to steal from the rich and give to the poor. While I didn’t really like reading about Lei’s  struggles within the FBI, I really enjoyed her involvement in solving the case.
  • Twisted Vine by Toby Neal is probably my least favorite book in the series so far. That had more to do with the topic, suicides, than anything else, I think. I began to worry about one of the characters, Sophie Ang, in a way I have never worried about a character in one of Neal’s books. In spite of that, this was a good book. I would recommend trying to read these books in order, of you can, because I don’t think this would be a good starting point.

That’s all I have time or energy for today! See you later!

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!

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!