Saturday, August 01, 2015

Review--Shards of Hope

Shards of Hope (Psy-Changeling, #14)Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book, and am in awe of Ms. Singh's ability to continue to craft a complex and involving universe in her long running Psy-Changeling series. Too many paranormal franchises lose steam after a while, running out of original material.  Not Psy-Changeling. The characters and society evolve and change in the finest science fiction fashion, and the world building continues to be a major part of the joy of reading these books.

Then there's the romance. It's steamy. It's intense. It'll bring the feels. I have a special fondness for stories about the psy characters with their repressed emotions, because you just know when they let loose it's going to be like pon farr to the nth degree. And it is in the story of Aden & Zaira, both Arrows--highly trained assassin/enforcers trying to navigate their way through the post-Silence world.

If you've never read the Psy-Changeling novels, I would not recommend starting with Shards of Hope, but if you start at the beginning I predict you'll want to binge-read this series to catch up on the roller-coaster ride of life in this multi-species world so much like our own, and yet so fascinatingly different.

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My Worldcon Schedule: Sasquan Edition!

The Program is set for Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Society convention (Worldcon). Here's my schedule, and I'm looking forward to these lively panels and to meeting old friends, making new ones, and attending some great parties in Spokane. I also have to figure out what I'm going to read from the WIP, What the Parrot Saw. For more information, go to

PG-13: Violence, Sex, and Teen Readers (Moderator)
Thursday, August 20 2015, 2:00 pm
303A (CC)
with Wesley Chu, Fonda Lee, Jenn Reese, Alaina Ewing

We Won: How SF, Fantasy and Comics Have Taken Over TV (Moderator)
Thursday, August 20 2015, 5:00 pm
300C (CC)
with David Peterson, Andrea G. Stewart, Annie Bellet

The Ties Between Romance, SF and Fantasy (Participant)
Friday, August 21 2015, 12:00 pm
Bays 111B (CC)
with Cynthia Felice, Louise Marley, Sharon Shinn, Fred Lerner

Reading - Darlene Marshall (Participant)
Saturday, August 22 2015, 11:00 am
303B (CC)

Demigods, Chosen Ones & Rightful Heirs: Can Progress, Merit & Citizens Ever Matter in Fantasy? (Moderator)
Saturday, August 22 2015, 3:00 pm
300C (CC)
with Anaea Lay, Mary Soon Lee, Setsu Uzume, Katherine Addison

Friday, July 31, 2015

Review--The Angel (Original Sinners, #2)

The Angel (The Original Sinners, #2)The Angel by Tiffany Reisz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another excellent, thoughtful erotic offering from Ms. Reisz. This follow-up to The Siren continues the adventures of erotica author Nora Sutherlin and her friends and lovers.

Nora's lover Soren is in line for a major promotion that could be derailed if his secret life as a BDSM Master comes to light. To protect him, Nora leaves for the country, and the companionship of trust fund baby Griffin and barely-legal sub Michael, her "angel".

Michael's troubled life brings him into Soren and Nora's circle, but it's Griffin who may hold the key to saving him. The characters in this story are wonderfully crafted (I love "Alfred" the butler! He gets the best lines!) and the story is fraught with tension. When I find myself staying up late to read erotica for plot rather than kink, I know I'm in the hands of a  mistress.

One nit-pick must be mentioned: I blame lazy copyediting, but a master/mistress "whales" on a sub's bottom, not "wails". I saw that error more than once, and it took me right out of the story. It's the curse of being an author who was a copy editor and journalist in a past life.

I've already added the next Original Sinners novel to my ereader and I look forward to discovering more of Ms. Reisz's work.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Review--Night Hawk

Night HawkNight Hawk by Beverly Jenkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was in the mood for a western, and remembered this one sitting forever on my ebook TBR virtual shelf, so I dusted it off and settled in.

It was a good choice. Ian "Preacher" Vance is a notorious and feared bounty hunter, who also carries a US Deputy Marshal star. He's tasked with bringing Maggie Freeman, a half-black/half-Indian woman to trial for her slaying of a man trying to sexually assault her. Of course, nothing is quite as it seems, and Preacher and Maggie find themselves fighting off lynch mobs, angry-exes and general mayhem on the road to true love.

Preacher was all we'd want in a Western hero, but I loved Maggie. She doesn't just get mad, she gets even, and she's not about to let life beat her down. She's a perfect match for Preacher.

Ms. Jenkins brings the old West alive in all its colors, a refreshing change from the white-washing of television shows and movies in the 20th century. I look forward to reading more of her work.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review--Dark Places of the Earth: The Voyage of the Slave Ship Antelope

Dark Places of the Earth: The Voyage of the Slave Ship AntelopeDark Places of the Earth: The Voyage of the Slave Ship Antelope by Jonathan M Bryant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Extensively researched and densely packed with information, this disturbing tale of the fate of slaves when the ship they're on is captured by pirates will appeal most to serious historians, legal scholars, and researchers. Unlike the better-known tale of the Amistad, this earlier court case has little in the way of testimony from the Africans themselves. In addition, the ordeal of the Africans aboard the Antelope is a tale of children, many little more than toddlers, thrust into a legal morass where they became property to be used and their fate tossed about like a shuttlecock. If it's ever turned into a film, it would be a horror story.

It's also a tale of the legalities of piracy and privateering in the early 19th c., and how the Atlantic slave trade and the ban on importing slaves into the U.S.  contributed to crime at sea, and in the Territory of Florida south of the United States. I recommend it to students of Florida history as well as of U.S. history.

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Review--I, Ripper

I, RipperI, Ripper by Stephen Hunter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this far more than I thought I would. The author starts with his take on the mystery of Jack the Ripper, but progresses through the novel into surprising twists and turns that will be appreciated by fans of Victorian and Edwardian literature.

I also enjoyed the glimpse into the newspaper game in the Victorian age, which has a special flavor to it because of the author's years with the Washington Post.

Graphic and gory, with surprising ideas on the identity of one of history's first serial killers, Hunter's latest is a *ahem* ripping good yarn.

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Review--The Winter Prince

The Winter Prince (The Lion Hunters, #1)The Winter Prince by Elizabeth Wein
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a re-read for me after 20 years. The fact that I kept it on my "Arthurian" keeper shelf for two decades is telling. This is a beautiful, lyrical moving take on the Arthur legend from a whole new direction. It's Medraut's (Mordred) story, but here he has a legitimate brother, Lleu, but Medraut knows he's the more capable of the two--wiser, more experienced, a better warrior. But Medraut is the Winter Prince while young Lleu is the sun-child, and the bitterness within Medraut grows, fed by his dangerous mother, Arthur's sister.

I'm glad I took the time to re-visit this story. Now that I'm 20 years older than when I first read it, I can appreciate it at a whole new level.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Review--The Headmaster

The Headmaster (Shivers - Book 15)The Headmaster by Tiffany Reisz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved it. Wonderful, wonderful, romantic story. Not at all what I've come to expect from the talented Ms. Reisz, but I couldn't put it down.


I knew what was happening early on, and the clues were there, but it wasn't until Christopher and the old man were walking in the woods that I knew for certain. Even so, the details of how the Marshal Academy came to be what it was for Gwen were surprising and wonderful. You will want to have your tissues handy, because if you're like me, you're going to cry ugly over this delightful tale, and it'll be worth every angsty minute.

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Review--The Siren

The Siren (The Original Sinners, #1)The Siren by Tiffany Reisz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Now, this is BDSM for grown-ups, featuring masters & mistresses of sadism who would send Christian Grey blubbering into the night and begging for mercy. Nora Sutherlin isn't just a domme, she's the dominatrix who has New York's A-list lining up for her special brand of pain and discipline. The question in her mind is, can she be more than a popular author of erotica and make the transition to the big leagues in publishing, with a contract from a major (read, "respectable") publishing house?

Zachary Easton doesn't think so. He's Nora's editor, somewhat against his will, and he doesn't believe she's got what it takes. But Nora will take Zach on a journey of self discovery that will leave them both different people by the end.

This is not a romance, though it has romantic elements. In addition, it's clear it's the beginning of a series. Ms. Reisz is considered a modern mistress of erotica, and The Siren showcases her talents.

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SwerveSwerve by Vicki Pettersson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There's a new star in the thriller genre, and it's Vicki Pettersson. Swerve is an edge-of-your-seat, don't-look-away, roller-coaster ride of horror and suspense, mind-games and carnage.

Be prepared for gore and graphic descriptions of violence, but if you're like me, you won't be able to put the book down. It's a fantastic debut in a new genre from a writer best known for her Las Vegas set urban fantasy, and it's clear that Ms. Pettersson is talented no matter what genre she chooses.

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