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.

SPOILER ALERT















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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Review--Swerve

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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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Review--A Court of Thorns and Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An effective mash-up of Beauty & the Beast and Tam-Lin, with a sprinkling of Hunger Games. I was pleased at how secondary characters had layer and depth, something not always seen in the classic stories.

I'm still not sure why it's considered YA, except for the age of the heroine. 19 seems pretty grown-up to me, especially when she's sexually active (not a spoiler) and taking care of her entire family.

I'm intrigued enough to want to read the next book when Ms. Maas publishes it.


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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Florida Summertime

“We have to stop, it’s going to rain.”
“We cannot stop yet, Jack, there is still daylight!”
“Sophia, I am not going to stand here and get soaked—”
His sentence was punctuated with the plop! of a large drop of
water at his feet. A moment later one hit Sophia on the nose, and
then in the next instant while she looked at Jack, the sky opened
and the squall came down in torrents, soaking them where they
stood.
--The Bride and the Buccaneer

My favorite room in the house is the screen porch. I eat lunch out there almost every day, even when it's 95F and 99% humidity, like today. It's not so bad if you don't move around much.

Then there are the daily storms. You know it's summer in Florida when almost every day between 2 and 6 p.m. there's a short thunderstorm. It comes up quickly, and can blow through just as quick. I've seen rain fall on one side of the street, and sunshine on the other side. It's weird, but you get used to it and plan your outdoor excursions accordingly.

So today I was out on the porch eating lunch, and sure enough, the wind picked up, the sky darkened, and for 15 minutes the rain came down like a bag full of water had been ripped open. Then the sun returned along with hummingbirds and butterflies rocking the fresh washed flowers and feeders.

Writers are always told, "Write what you know." When I described the frog-drowning downpour in The Bride and the Buccaneer, it was from real life, a life of many, many summer thunderstorms.

Here's hoping your summer afternoon is bright and sunny. And if it isn't now, give it time. It'll change soon enough--at least it will if you're in Florida.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Review--Epitaph

EpitaphEpitaph by Mary Doria Russell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this novel immensely, and expect it to join the canon of best western novels--Lonesome Dove, The Virginian, True Grit--in years to come. The characters come alive in a way we never saw on Saturday morning television shows, and the iconic gunfight at the OK Corral is dusted off and given new meaning.

This is summer beach reading at its finest: thoughtful, layered, absorbing and yet as much a page-turning, rip-roaring good read as any blockbuster climbing the bestseller lists.


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Thursday, July 09, 2015

Review--A Rose for Major Flint

A Rose for Major Flint (Brides of Waterloo #3)A Rose for Major Flint by Louise Allen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'd give this 3.5 stars if I could. I liked it, a lot, but toward the end I felt the heroine's objections to marriage to the hero weren't holding up. He'd proven his worth over and over again, and, to me, that should have counted for more.


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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.