I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
London 1599, a city on the brink of revolution...
He is Queen Elizabeth's last, perhaps her greatest, love - Robert Deveraux, Earl of Essex. Champion jouster, dashing general...and the man that John Lawley, England's finest swordsman, most wishes to avoid. For John knows the other earl - the reckless melancholic - and has had to risk his life for him in battle one time too many.
All John wants is to be left alone to win back the heart of the woman he loves, be the kind of father that his son can look up to, and arrange the fight scenes for the magnificent new theatre, the Globe. To realise these dreams, John must dodge both Essex and his ruthless adversary for the queen's affections, Robert Cecil, and remain free to help his oldest friend Will Shakespeare finish the play that threatens to destroy him: THE TRAGEDY OF HAMLET.
I picked up this novel in anticipation of a writers & readers conference that I attend in August of each year, as this author will be participating this year. I did not know what to expect but got much more than I was bargaining for!
Humphreys played to his strengths—he has played Hamlet (here in my home town!), knows his way around a sword, has choreographed fight scenes for theatre, and has a passion for Shakespeare. All of these interests have been channeled into this tale of John Lawley. Lawley is a solider, an actor and an alcoholic—he is rather evenly devoted to all three, but the third has made it difficult for him to pursue the other two or to maintain a relationship with his son and the son’s mother.
I love books in which William Shakespeare himself appears as a character and he is a good friend of Lawley in this one. Will is struggling with the writing of Hamlet while Robbie Deveraux and Robert Cecil wrestle for Queen Elizabeth’s affections.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys good historical fiction, who is interested in the history surrounding Queen Elizabeth I, or who is a fan of Shakespeare. I am very much looking forward to meeting the author in August and I will read more of his novels with great pleasure.
A mythic warrior who'll stop at nothing to possess her...
After enduring years of torture from the vampire horde, Lachlain MacRieve, leader of the Lykae Clan, is enraged to find the predestined mate he's waited millennia for is a vampire. Or partly one. This Emmaline is a small, ethereal half Valkyrie/half vampire, who somehow begins to soothe the fury burning within him.
A vampire captured by her wildest fantasy...
Sheltered Emmaline Troy finally sets out to uncover the truth about her deceased parents—until a powerful Lykae claims her as his mate and forces her back to his ancestral Scottish castle. There, her fear of the Lykae—and their notorious dark desires—ebbs as he begins a slow, wicked seduction to sate her own dark cravings.
An all-consuming desire...
Yet when an ancient evil from her past resurfaces, will their desire deepen into a love that can bring a proud warrior to his knees and turn a gentle beauty into the fighter she was born to be?
Imagine Beauty & the Beast crossed with Outlander. Why a werewolf would speak with a thick Scottish brogue is quite beyond me, but it’s not the only ridiculous part of this paranormal romance.
And it’s a romance only if controlling abusive kidnappers are sexy. Yet, I couldn’t quit reading. Morbid fascination? Unconscious rape fantasies? What the hell is wrong with me?
Somehow, I have ended up with a stack of very large books, plus I'm reading to a deadline. All of them have holds on them.
This may become like fishing--catch & release. I'll see how much I can read over the Canada Day long weekend.
Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is a millionaire, a genius, and, above all, a criminal mastermind. But even Artemis doesn't know what he's taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren't fairies of bedtime stories; these fairies are armed and dangerous.
Artemis thinks he has them right where he wants them...but then they stop playing by the rules.
Artemis Fowl (or should that be Foul?) is an interesting mix of Lex Luthor and Encyclopedia Brown. He’s a boy genius with designs on leprechaun gold and he is willing to kidnap and deceive his way to his goal. But the fairy world is not going to just roll over and submit to Artemis’ demands, especially not Captain Holly Short, who is being held captive in Fowl Manor.
It’s a quick read, well written. If I was part of the intended demographic, I would probably be more impressed, but it’s a bit tame for adult tastes. Very appropriate for the children’s market, however. I would have no hesitation buying it for a school library. There are explosions, near-death-experiences, monsters, and evil plans, but no one loses their life. Colfer gives amusing names to his characters, like a butler named Butler and a centaur named Foaly.
Looking for summer reading for your 10 year old? Consider Artemis Fowl!
The study of sexual physiology - what happens, and why, and how to make it happen better - has been a paying career or a diverting sideline for scientists as far-ranging as Leonardo da Vinci and James Watson. The research has taken place behind the closed doors of laboratories, brothels, MRI centers, pig farms, sex-toy R&D labs, and Alfred Kinsey's attic.
Mary Roach, "the funniest science writer in the country" (Burkhard Bilger of 'The New Yorker'), devoted the past two years to stepping behind those doors. Can a person think herself to orgasm? Can a dead man get an erection? Is vaginal orgasm a myth? Why doesn't Viagra help women or, for that matter, pandas?
In 'Bonk', Roach shows us how and why sexual arousal and orgasm, two of the most complex, delightful, and amazing scientific phenomena on earth, can be so hard to achieve and what science is doing to slowly make the bedroom a more satisfying place.
Mary Roach, as usual, is drawn to the weird and the wonderful. I love her sense of humour about whatever her current obsession happens to be. A book about sex research could be dry and boring, but not with Ms. Roach at the helm.
Male readers may cringe at several of the chapters regarding surgery on the family jewels—it made me a little queasy. I am also amazed that she managed to drag her husband along to participate in research projects with her. He is obviously a guy with a sense of adventure!
Sex researchers, both animal and human, were good sports to show off their work in progress or discuss published results. As stated a couple of time in the book, publicity can sometimes be a hindrance to obtaining research money, so they were either very established researchers or willing to risk the exposure.
We’re all interested in the topic, but few of us have the time or inclination to track down these great stories! Thank you, Mary Roach, for being the obsessive researcher for us.
The monster showed up after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming… This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.
“The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.”
That’s when our worries plague us—in the middle of the night when there’s nothing we can do except stew about them. Your nightmare is now interrupted by real-life worries that are worse. Deal with it!
I’ve lived through a similar situation. I was at my father’s side when he died, after three weeks of lingering in hospital after a car accident. I went through all the stages of grief, repeatedly. Denial, bargaining, anger, depression, acceptance. I had the advantage of a couple of decades of experience more than Conor, but the emotions are the same.
I can’t even remember who I was talking to on the phone, days before Dad died, when I said, “Why can’t this poor man die? What’s holding him here?” Because his life was never going to be the same. He would never be physically or emotionally whole again. His life would simply have been a frustrating struggle and he didn’t deal well with frustration. All in all, it was a relief when he made the decision to let go. I was grateful that he was able to leave, but I have missed him every day since then.
I shed a lot of tears towards the end of this book. I think it would be an excellent offering to any young person who has lost a parent or whose parent is on the brink of death. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be relieved when that parent is released from pain. Whatever you feel, it’s okay.
Apologies to my real-life book club for choosing yet another “cancer book.”
On the surface, Genny's life seems ripple-free right now. Finn, her sexy boss and -- well, Genny's not sure what else she wants him to be -- has stopped pushing for a decision on their relationship. The seductive vampire Malik al-Khan has vanished back into the shadows. And the witches have declared her no longer a threat. But unless Genny can find a way to break the fertility curse afflicting London's fae, she knows this is just the lull before the magical storm.
Then a faeling -- a teenage girl -- is fished out of the River Thames, dead and bound with magic, and Genny is called into investigate. As she digs through the clues, her search takes a sinister and dangerous turn, exposing age-old secrets that might be better left buried. Then another faeling disappears, and Genny finds herself in a race against time to save the faeling and stop the curse from claiming its next victim -- herself!
***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List ***
On the most obvious level, this is just a very good story, chock full of magic, mystery, and action. Faelings are being killed and Genny is trying to figure out the motive and the perpetrator. In the meantime, she must also be aware of the curse put on London’s Fae community, preventing them from reproducing and putting them at risk of “fading.” Prophecy seems to indicate that Genny is the key and all of the Fae communities are lobbying to provide her with a baby-daddy in order to break the spell.
When I read the book with the curse very much in front of mind, I couldn’t help but think of all the women in the world who are forced to bear children, whether they want them or not. The whole issue of who owns women’s bodies—the women themselves or their families or husbands? Does the community get a say?
For me, this was the best book so far in this series, and I look forward to the next!
For a two-thousand-year-old Druid, Atticus O’Sullivan is a pretty fast runner. Good thing, because he’s being chased by not one but two goddesses of the hunt—Artemis and Diana—for messing with one of their own. Dodging their slings and arrows, Atticus, Granuaile, and his wolfhound Oberon are making a mad dash across modern-day Europe to seek help from a friend of the Tuatha Dé Danann. His usual magical option of shifting planes is blocked, so instead of playing hide-and-seek, the game plan is . . . run like hell.
Crashing the pantheon marathon is the Norse god Loki. Killing Atticus is the only loose end he needs to tie up before unleashing Ragnarok—AKA the Apocalypse. Atticus and Granuaile have to outfox the Olympians and contain the god of mischief if they want to go on living—and still have a world to live in.
***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List ***
This installment of the Iron Druid is basically just one very long chase scene, but despite that, Hearne manages to make some progress which I appreciated. Oberon is present, in full force, being a wolf hound with opinions and hilarious comments on many issues. Granuaile is finally a fully-fledged Druid in her own right and is learning to be a powerful warrior woman. Hearne, the Hunter, makes an awesome appearance and the Irish gods and goddesses make more meaningful appearances.
Towards book’s end, there are two wonderful new characters added and their possibilities will keep me reading onwards!
A perfect fluffy summer read!
Ellen Kellaway, orphaned at age five, was raised by wealthy cousins, but was never allowed to forget that her every advantage was owed to the charity of others. However, when the son of a powerful London family asks for her hand in marriage, her world is opened up to untold wealth and social position. She never imagined that such an unlikely dream would come true.
Despite these wonderful new developments in her life, Ellen continues to be wracked b the bad dreams that have haunted her since childhood. What is the meaning of the lifelong nightmare—the image of an unfamiliar room, a door opening and behind it a dreadful presence? Perhaps it is a message urging her to uncover the secrets of her long-lost family—the secrets of the ancient home of the Kellaways on the Far Island, off the wild coast of Cornwall.
***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***
I think this may have been the very first romance novel that I ever read in my life, at around age 11 or 12. I remember how much I loved the book at that age and that is probably influencing my rating today.
Talk about Gothic! A heroine who is an orphan, living with distant family members as a Poor Relation? Check! Beautiful & spunky? Check! Mysterious goings-on? Check! Subtly threatening handsome man with secrets who arrives in the nick of time to save her from the horrid fate of governessing? Check! New family members who maybe aren’t as into her as she is into them? Check and double check! A second handsome and more straightforward man as a foil for the intense, dark one? Checkeroo!
I believe it was my mother who introduced me to Victoria Holt and she & I read our way through many of Holt’s novels. This was very much a nostalgia read—it reminded me of my teenage reading years and reading with Mom. I can definitely see where works like this one set my tastes in romantic fiction, leading to my current affection for paranormal romance.
Victorian Amelia Peabody continues to journal her Egypt adventures, toddler Ramses left in England. Husband Radcliffe Emerson's old friend Lady Baskerville fears a curse killed her husband Sir Henry, and soon engages the attentions of American Cyrus. The will funds continued excavation. But a lady dressed in white floats, flutters, spreads fear, and more death.
***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***
It’s official—I adore Amelia Peabody-Emerson! Modern feminist sensibilities injected into a Victorian heroine. She loves her husband and her son, but she needs some mental stimulation and some physical labour to keep her occupied.
I loved that Radcliffe and Amelia have nicknamed their precocious son Ramses after the demanding and flamboyant Pharaoh. He takes after both of his parents, needless to say, in his intelligence and his firm opinions! I appreciate Amelia’s (sometimes unwarranted) self-confidence and her delight at being able to escape the boredom of motherhood and running a household. What could possibly be better than returning to Egypt to explore a newly discovered tomb with her beloved husband? Well, achieving that task while still having cooling baths at days end and tea whenever necessary, that’s what!
Peters manages to give us plenty of potential murderers and lots of unusual characters to provide intrigue and comedy. Amelia brandishes her parasol with abandon and barges her way to a solution with panache!
Twenty-year-old Amanda Derrington is on an extended cruise with her uncle when she decides to make a short side trip to the sun-washed island of Cyprus. But even before the ship arrives in port, there is a suspicious death. Once the passengers reach the island, it soon becomes clear that the death was in fact an act of murder. What Amanda had meant to be a pleasant excursion quickly takes a turn for the worse in this classic novel of suspense and romance by one of our most celebrated writers.
***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***
I love these older murder mystery/romance mash-ups written by writers like M.M. Kaye and Mary Stewart. Dating from the 1950s, they were written in an era where book heroines were more innocent (and worried about their reputations) and the social classes were more firmly entrenched.
I owned all the Kaye’s Death in … series at one point in my life and read them all multiple times. I wasn’t more than three pages into this one when I realized that I already knew who the murderer was, but I still enjoyed the reading process. The descriptions of Cyprus were beautiful and made me wish I could visit Villa Oleander and picnic in the Cyprean countryside. Kaye spent time in Cyprus as a British army wife, so no doubt was able to describe terrain that she was familiar with and obviously fond of.
Reading this now, as an older person, I realize how excruciating the effects of class are and how much personal income has become the new way to distinguish between classes (rather than whom one is related to). The characters in this novel often marry for money (George Norman and Alastair Blaine both depend on their wives’ money for their comfortable life style) and it was a foregone conclusion by their friends that it was a reasonable choice. Interestingly, it was men marrying for financial advantage, rather than the usual women in this case, perhaps Kaye pointing out that it’s a two way street.
This time around I also noticed how Persis, the American writer, is so very stereotypically American—she is loud, brash, demanding, and not the slightest bit retiring. Plus, she is attracted to British men for the same reason that many North American women are, that enticing accent. Still, she is a good friend to Amanda, our heroine, and courageous when required, so the impression is not at all negative.
An excellent nostalgia read, a great way to spend a lazy summer evening.
"Reader, she married me."
For one hundred seventy years, Edward Fairfax Rochester has stood as one of literature's most romantic, most complex, and most mysterious heroes. Sometimes haughty, sometimes tender-professing his love for Jane Eyre in one breath and denying it in the next-Mr. Rochester has for generations mesmerized, beguiled, and, yes, baffled fans of Charlotte Brontë's masterpiece. But his own story has never been told.
Now, out of Sarah Shoemaker's rich and vibrant imagination, springs Edward: a vulnerable, brilliant, complicated man whom we first meet as a motherless, lonely little boy roaming the corridors and stable yards of Thornfield Hall. On the morning of Edward's eighth birthday, his father issues a decree: He is to be sent away to get an education, exiled from Thornfield and all he ever loved. As the determined young Edward begins his journey across England, making friends and enemies along the way, a series of eccentric mentors teach him more than he might have wished about the ways of the men-and women-who will someday be his peers.
3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 on Goodreads because I enjoyed the first half of the book so much. The author remained very true to Brontë’s Jane Eyre and even managed to incorporate aspects of Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea. I have to admire that!
The first half of the book, dealing with Edward Fairfax Rochester’s life before he meets his Jane, was the most enjoyable for me. I loved the back-story that Ms. Shoemaker created for him—the vulnerable, sensitive little boy who missed his mother and was ignored by his father. She obviously spent a great deal of time on the question, “What made Mr. Rochester into the man who met Jane Eyre?”
Once Jane appears in this text, however, there are constraints. You don’t mess with the Jane Eyre story, after all. For me, things changed at this point. Instead of the colourful, free painting that Shoemaker began with, she was reduced to paint-by-number. She introduced some interesting ideas that aren’t in Brontë’s original, but then has to wrap them up swiftly and neatly in order to fit into the accepted canon.
In short, very true to the original work and another interesting look at an old favourite.
The Spear of Lugh, one of the four Kingly Hallows of Ireland is in Chicago. And everyone, everyone wants it, for it is said that he who carries the spear into battle cannot be defeated. Among those who seek it are an agent of the infamous Wild Hunt; a mobster who knows far more about these things than he should; and of course both the Seelie and Unseelie Courts – the last people PI Mick Oberon would want getting hold of the spear...
Hard-boiled Fae detective Mick Oberon has quite the situation on his hands! The Spear of Lugh is somewhere in 1930s Chicago and every Fae faction (and a few in-the-know wise guys) want to get their meat hooks on it!
Mick uses his brain-box a little more in this mystery (when he isn’t getting pounded by some palooka that is), although he still has problems with his thought processes when he’s around a certain dame. Good action, good complications, excellent title! I am particularly fond of Fast Frankie, the leprechaun.
I still find this series a bit heavy on the Chicago gangland lingo—too many flivvers, floggers, bulls, molls, gats and what have you. But if you can overlook that, it is a fun little series.
I’d rather face a dozen lethal assassins any night than deal with something as tricky, convoluted, and fragile as my feelings.
But here I am. Gin Blanco, the semi-retired assassin known as the Spider. Hovering outside sexy businessman Owen Grayson’s front door like a nervous teenage girl. One thing I like about Owen: he doesn’t shy away from my past—or my present. And right now I have a bull’s-eye on my forehead.
Cold-blooded Fire elemental Mab Monroe has hired one of the smartest assassins in the business to trap me. Elektra LaFleur is skilled and efficient, with deadly electrical elemental magic as potent as my own Ice and Stone powers. Which means there’s a fifty-fifty chance one of us won’t survive this battle. I intend to kill LaFleur—or die trying—because Mab wants the assassin to take out my baby sister, Detective Bria Coolidge, too.
The only problem is, Bria has no idea I’m her long-lost sibling . . . or that I’m the murderer she’s been chasing through Ashland for weeks. And what Bria doesn’t know just might get us both dead. . . .
3.5 stars out of 5. I’m really looking forward to hearing the author in August at the When Words Collide conference.
Gin is up against another assassin in Tangled Threads and is learning to navigate new abilities that she has finally managed to access. Plus she’s negotiating a new, potentially great relationship with Owen Grayson. Now if only she could find a way to tell her long-lost sister who she is….
Once again, there is plenty of action, I like where the plot is going, we make good progress in every book. So why only 3.5 stars, you ask? Because of several writing ‘ticks’ that get on my nerves—the constant recital of where Gin keeps all of her knives, the obsession over eye colours, repeated references to what everybody’s personal runes look like, the frequent repetition of how Gin got Silverstone embedded in her palms (and ended up an orphan), plus the constant comparisons of the accepting Owen to rejecting Donovan. And if I hear about Finn drinking chicory coffee just like his dear old dad one more time…..
This is the fourth book, people. We know all that stuff. A teeny bit of repeat would be acceptable to clue-in folks who skipped the first three, but the amount of repetition is excessive. It’s a good thing that I like the characters, that I enjoy the circle of friends & family that Gin is building around herself—that aspect of Ashland I’m quite attached to.
Not sure how much longer Estep can draw out this confrontation with the evil Mab Monroe, but I want to see how it all turns out!
Even in a sleepy Arkansas town, the holidays can be murder.
Lily Bard is going home for the holidays. More comfortable in baggy sweats than bridesmaid's frills, Lily isn't thrilled about attending her estranged sister's wedding. She has moved to Shakespeare, Arkansas, to start a new life, cleaning houses for a living, trying to forget the violence that once nearly destroyed her. Now she's heading back to home and hearth--just in time for murder.
The town's doctor and nurse have been bludgeoned to death at the office. And Lily's detective boyfriend suddenly shows up at her parents' door. Jack Leeds is investigating an eight-year-old kidnapping and the trail leads straight to Lily's hometown. It just might have something to do with the murders...and her sister's widowed fiancé. With only three days before the wedding, Lily must work fast to clean up the messy case before her sister commits...marriage!
In this installment, we change small towns and therefore a lot of the people that Lily Bard is interacting with and it’s a good change. She returns to her home-town and her family’s home for her sister’s wedding right before Christmas. After her traumatic rape & mutilation, Lily fled the town, her family and her friends, to start a new life in Shakespeare, Arkansas. Although she doesn’t regret the change of scene, in this book she learns that she maybe left too soon, not giving anyone (including herself) time to get used to her new normal.
Like many people, Lily is reluctant to return home to face the family. She is not comfortable in her own skin yet, although she’s getting there, and doesn’t have the social skills to deal with those close to her effectively. A very typical introvert, she finds that it doesn’t have to be quite as difficult as she envisioned it—her family will meet her half-way if she makes an effort.
One thing that did improve this book was that Lily was out of her regular routine—so although she takes on some cleaning tasks (as part of her “investigation” of what’s going on in her home-town), the reader isn’t subjected to as many detailed scenes of her cleaning routine. Also, she is away from her gym, so ditto with the karate/strength training that permeates the first two books.
I think this could be a good series for people who care too much about the opinions of others, particularly those not close to them. Lily seems to be far too worried about what the community thinks of her and not worried enough about what she thinks of herself. Lily, if they aren’t paying your bills, their opinions don’t matter!
Croaker has fallen and, following the Company's disastrous defeat at Dejagore, Lady is one of the few survivors--determined to avenge the Company and herself against the Shadowmasters, no matter what the cost.
But in assembling a new fighting force from the dregs and rabble of Taglios, she finds herself offered help by a mysterious, ancient cult of murder--competent, reliable, and apparently committed to her goals.
Meanwhile, far away, Shadowmasters conspire against one another and the world, weaving dark spells that reach into the heart of Taglios. And in a hidden grove, a familiar figure slowly awakens to find himself the captive of an animated, headless corpse.
Mercilessly cutting through Taglian intrigues, Lady appears to be growing stronger every day. All that disturbs her are the dreams which afflict her by night--dreams of carnage, of destruction, of universal death, unceasing...
More evil gets done in the name of righteousness than any other way.
Just when I thought that Glen Cook’s grimdark Black Company world couldn’t get any bleaker, any darker, or any weirder…. I realize that I am wrong. Mr. Cook, your dark imagination scares me!
But, I am still invested in the two main characters in Dreams of Steel, namely Croaker and Lady. Croaker provides the dark sense of humour of the two, with Lady remembering some of things he has said or imagining what he would say when she finds herself hip deep in slaughter. Lady can never be said to be the softer, gentler one of the pair—if anything, she is even more ruthless, willing to put heads on stakes to make a point. Revenge is everything!
There really are no good guys in this series, just shades of black. It would be a shock to the system to try to jump in here at book 5, without having read the preceding novels—the level of violence and disregard for life would be overwhelming. But my situation is like the proverbial frog in the pot of water—it has gradually come to a boil without my noticing!
Now my search for a copy of Bleak Seasons must begin. I couldn’t abide a constant diet of grimdark fantasy in my reading life, but I must know what happens to this two bloodthirsty duo.
Book number 258 in my Science Fiction & Fantasy reading project.