Saturday, July 04, 2015

Review--Love is Red (Nightsong Trilogy #1)

Love Is Red (Nightsong Trilogy #1)Love Is Red by Sophie Jaff
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the writing in this novel, the lyrical, colorful use of language. I enjoyed the suspense, though many of the scenes are not for the squeamish. I liked the used of second person in the chapters describing the serial killer.

The part that left me cold was the "woo woo" aspect of it. It felt too much like a murder mystery/suspense novel wrapped around a fantasy story with deus ex machina touches toward the end that made it unwieldy. Dan Simmons, Stephen King and Shirley Jackson do this kind of book very well, but it takes a deft hand to make it work.

SPOILER ALERT










Also...





I knew who the killer was from the moment in the museum, and I knew it wasn't the other supposed killer because that's just too damn obvious.






So I'll look for the next book from Ms. Jaff to see where the story goes, and that in and of itself is a recommendation.


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Review--A School for Unusual Girls (Stranje House, #1)

A School for Unusual Girls (Stranje House, #1)A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an interesting YA/Regency/Fantasy/Alternate History mash-up about a school for young women in Regency England, girls who don't fit in with society's expectations of how they should behave.

Georgianna Fitzwilliams is sent to Stranje House after nearly burning down her own family's home in a science experiment gone wrong. Her parents are fed up and want Georgie out of their lives. She's simply too much--her red hair, her curiosity, her outspoken nature, and her insistence on learning things no young lady needs to know.

When Georgie arrives at the mysterious house she fears a reformatory, but instead finds a gathering of girls who also are different, and for the first time she fits in. It doesn't hurt that she meets handsome young Lord Wyatt, and Georgie and Sebastian race against the clock to use their skills to help keep Europe and England from going up in flames after Napoleon abdicates and is sent to Elba.

This is an alternate English world, which helped me get over bumps in the narrative like a young Regency miss saying "OK" and Romania being a sovereign nation at a time when it wasn't. The story itself clipped along at a fast pace and science saves the day, which made the story even more enjoyable.

I look forward to the next installment in the Stranje House narrative.


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Friday, July 03, 2015

Independence Day

“I am not sure I should have to always do what you tell me to
do, or not to do, Dr. Murray. I know you are a natural philosopher
and learned, but in America they let men vote equally, the stupid
ones as well as the clever. Not that I am stupid, I am just not as
learned as you are. While we are here on this island, just the two of
us, we should be voting as equals, don't you think?”

He looked at her in astonishment, setting down the gourd.
“I am amazed, Miss Farnham, that a properly brought-up
Englishwoman would take the riff-raff in America as her model for
appropriate behavior. No, this is not a situation calling for some
anarchic form of democracy. Your vote is not equal to mine."

--Castaway Dreams

Fie on thee, Dr. Murray!  In America we support the right to vote to elect all sorts of people, even if we sometimes scratch our heads afterward and say, "What were they thinking in the voting booth?"

July 4 is Independence Day, a day for all of us in the United States to celebrate our freedoms, our hard-fought liberty and the creation of a new type of nation: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Fill your Independence Day with song and fireworks and good times and parades and maybe some BBQ. It's your birthday, America! Celebrate!



Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Happy Canada Day!



“England’s a big place all right, but not as big as it would like to be.
Couple a years back they was all fired up over there ’bout Canada
rebellin’ and the U.S. givin’ them an assist. There was English ships
burned on the border lakes, and it looked like war all over again.”

Julia knew this, but didn’t let on to Washburn, keeping a polite look
on her face. The brandy made him garrulous and she wanted to keep
this narrative going, to find out as much as she could about her
smuggler husband. He didn’t need to know Lord Ashburton had been a
guest in her parents’ home, and the state of affairs between the two
nations was of acute interest to the Anglo-American owners of
Delerue-Sanders Shipping.
--Smuggler's Bride


It's a day to celebrate, with fireworks and festivities. Happy Canada Day to all my friends up north! I hope we're all over that invasion talk, and you can probably turn those cannon on the ramparts in Quebec away from our direction now.

Or maybe not. You never know what craziness your neighbors to the south will get up to. Regardless, enjoy your day and party! Listen to some Drake, eat maple candy, savor a local beer (or two) and some poutine. I may even indulge in a couple of those things myself to help you celebrate.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

On the road again

Summertime is conference time, and I'm currently on the road with the husband. One of the best things about being a 21st C. author is the portabillity of my work. If I have a laptop and an internet connection, I'm good to go. Heck, in a pinch I can write with pen and paper, and have!

One thing I enjoy about our summer conference circuit is how being out of my usual space seems to kick my muse in the butt. A new locale, new scenery, that can churn creativity. 

For example, this lovely photo in the link was the view from where I'm sitting at the Boca Beach Resort in Bocal Raton, Florida. Being surrounded by historic Florida architecture from the early 20th C. inspires me. I love thinking about the parties these walls have witnessed, weddings and celebrations, and no doubt some love affairs too. 

I did get some solid writing done this morning, so being taken out of my comfort zone was a good plan. More to follow tomorrow!


https://instagram.com/p/4UP7ZCPcKl/

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The People on our Money



"Underfunded, understaffed, looked down on by the regular navy, despised by the merchants who paid the tariffs, the Revenue Marine was no one’s darling.
Well, except maybe Alexander Hamilton, he’d loved his revenue cutters that brought money into the Treasury, but look what happened to him, Washburn thought. Irritate the wrong people and there you are, worm food."

--Smuggler's Bride

I was thinking about the plan to put a new face on the US $10 bill, the bill now bearing the likeness of first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. I'm glad they're not talking about replacing Mr. Hamilton. Much as I love the idea of a woman gracing our currency in 2020, the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, it would be a mistake to overlook Hamilton's contributions to the nation.

In addition to heading the Treasury, Hamilton was a founding member of the Anti-Slavery Society, founded the US Coast Guard (aka the Revenue Marine aka Revenue Cutter Service) and co-wrote the Federalist Papers. He had a vision of the country moving away from an agrarian society of landed gentry and small freeholders to one of industry, bolstered by hardworking immigrants. It was the kind of foresight that carried us into the 21st century, and still drives us today.

I've always wondered what Hamilton would have made of his life had it not been tragically cut short by the stupid duel with Aaron Burr. We'll never know, but at least having his face on the $10 reminds Americans that our Founding Fathers were more than presidents, sometimes they were leaders in planning for the future.

If you'd like to know more, I highly recommend Pulitzer Prize winning author Ron Chernow's excellent biography of Alexander Hamilton.


Review--Day Shift (Midnight, Texas #2)

Day Shift (Midnight, Texas #2)Day Shift by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm enjoying this quirky series set in the Sookieverse created by Harris in her earlier novels. Midnight, Texas is full of outliers, people who prefer to stay under the radar for any number of reasons. The town is a tiny crossroads and is now home to Manfred the psychic, introduced in earlier books. In addition to Manfred there are a host of other town residents, but not too many, and they like it that way.

Manfred gets caught up in a murder investigation related to a jewel heist, and he's going to need all his Midnight friends to help him through it, along with some high-powered legal help.  It's a satisfying story and I look forward to learning more about the Midnight residents and their secrets in future books.


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Monday, June 15, 2015

Review--Only A Promise

Only a Promise (The Survivors' Club, #5)Only a Promise by Mary Balogh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The marriage of convenience is one of my favorite romance tropes, and few do it as well as Mary Balogh. This latest entry in the Survivors' Club reminded me at first of The Temporary Wife, one of my all-time favorite Balogh Signet Regencies, but it's got a fresh twist here.

Chloe Muirhead is resigned to spinsterhood after family scandal and a disastrous Season. She's living as companion to an elderly duchess. When the duke's heir, wounded veteran Ralph Stockwood, returns home and is given his marching orders--it's time to take a bride--Chloe throws caution to the wind and offers herself to Ralph.

Part of what I liked about the story was how Ralph and Chloe were logical, thoughtful adults about their marriage and what it entailed. Their relationship unfolded in a fashion where you could envision these two making a go of it even if they didn't fall in love, which, of course, they do.

There are also guest appearances by other Survivors and even a Bedwyn, sure to please Balogh's legions of fans. I can't wait for the next Survivors book!


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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Flag Day

They went up on deck together, David carrying his prayer book. The men were assembled wearing their finest clothing. At the starboard rail a canvas length awaited them, sewn by Sails, weighted to carry its burden to the bottom of the ocean. It was on a trestle, covered with the flag of the United States that fluttered at the edges in the light breeze.

The crew was silent as their captain stepped forward, and a hurricane bird soared overhead, far from land but reminding them all that someday, they would return to their homes.

Some of them.

--SEA CHANGE

Today is Flag Day in the United States, the day we mark the adoption of our nation's symbol of freedom.  It was immortalized during the War of 1812 over 200 years ago with Francis Scott Key's poem, now our national anthem.  My flag is flying, as it does on all national holidays.  Long may it wave!