Sunday, July 23, 2017

Review--G-Man (Bob Lee Swagger, #10)

G-Man (Bob Lee Swagger, #10)G-Man by Stephen Hunter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just love it when you close a book with a happy sigh, having had an enjoyable getaway between covers. In G-Man (Bob Lee Swagger, #10) Hunter brings his usual roller-coaster ride of gun lore, shootouts, history and Mr. Bob Lee hissownself. Bob Lee's now in his 70s, looking to the past as well as the future as he delves into some family history. He knew his father Earl was estranged from Sheriff Charles Swagger, his abusive father, but Bob Lee never knew why. When new information is uncovered linking Charles to the earliest days of the FBI, he wants to know more.

Fans of the series remember Charles from the earlier book about Earl, Hot Springs so some of his story won't be a revelation. Much of the rest of it will be. In addition, there's gangster history, various Public Enemies and overtones of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance because Hunter, like so many of his fans, loves classic film.

While the book could stand alone, I highly recommend the entire series starting with Point of Impact. Characters appear throughout G-Man who are introduced in earlier novels, and it'll make the reading experience that much better. With this novel we'll get the snappy patter, excellent pacing and interesting characters (Grumleys!) that bring it all together for a perfect summer read.


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Review--Come Sundown

Come SundownCome Sundown by Nora Roberts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It was good, entertaining as all of Ms. Roberts' books are, but as soon as the villain was introduced I knew he was the bad guy. The name, the description, all of it was like a bell ringing. I would have enjoyed a little more suspense. Nonetheless, it was a satisfying look at a strong family and a strong heroine, and sure to entertain fans of Nora's many works.


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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Florida's wildlife

I've switched up my daily walks to get in my steps early in the morning, before the heat, humidity and rain become unbearable. I don't like getting up at 5:45 to manage this, but it's worth it. Not only am I getting in my 10k steps before 10 a.m. but I get to see some beautiful sunrises.

It's also an opportune time to observe some of the wildlife. Our heavily wooded neighborhood is home to plenty of owls and hawks, and I see and hear them finishing up their nightly rounds or just starting the day's hunt.

It's also the best time to spot the Florida Bare-chested Running Hunk. This is a creature seen throughout the peninsula, but when one lives in a college town the numbers rise even higher. While not as colorful as the Painted Bunting, it has a certain appeal. In the summer it's an early morning or evening traveler due to the aforementioned weather, and spotting a flock does help make getting up (literally) at  the crack of dawn more tolerable.

Incidentally, the illustration is for the German edition of Smuggler's Bride. It does feature a Florida Bare-chested Hunk, though of the native Cracker variety rather than the Running ones who migrate here. I confess, this is my favorite cover. Nothing says "Hot lovin' on the Florida frontier!" like a killer flamingo looming in the background. Check it out for yourself, free from Kindle Unlimited and available in paperback too.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Review--The Red

The RedThe Red by Tiffany Reisz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Some erotica just hits all the right notes: the sex is smokin', the writing is crisp, the characters are engaging and the story is engrossing. The Red is one such novel. The always entertaining Tiffany Reisz has done it again, proving that she can transition between stand-along novels, short fiction, fantasy, erotica and erotic romance while still maintaining her unique voice.

The Red is absolutely not for the faint-of-heart. Mona Lisa St. James promised her dying mother she'd run the family art gallery, but The Red is in the red and it's going to take a miracle to save it. But instead of an angel, what Mona gets is a devilish offer: become a man's whore (his words) for one year, allowing him to use her sexually in whatever fashion suits him, and he'll pay off the debt. She's tempted by the mysterious Englishman, but how far is Mona willing to go to save her legacy?

Reisz calls the book "a fantasy" and there's a hint of the paranormal as well as the fantasy sex, but it's masterfully done. I highly recommend The Red for readers who aren't afraid of adult themes and situations, and who like their sex scenes written for an intelligent audience.


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Review--Pirate Women: The Princesses, Prostitutes, and Privateers Who Ruled the Seven Seas

Pirate Women: The Princesses, Prostitutes, and Privateers Who Ruled the Seven SeasPirate Women: The Princesses, Prostitutes, and Privateers Who Ruled the Seven Seas by Laura Sook Duncombe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Enjoyable overview of women pirates through history. I'd read much of Ms. Duncombe's source material (Johnson's book of Pyrates, Fanny Campbell, the Cordingly, Stark, Konstam and Druett books) so there was little new here for me, but for a reader whose life isn't all about the pirates it's a good introduction.

I especially liked how Duncombe made it a point to include the non-European pirates. When I do presentations on women pirates I highlight the career of Cheng I Sao, who, as Duncombe points out, was the most successful pirate of all time.

These transgressive women of the sea continue to fascinate readers and another book focusing on women pirates is always a welcome addition to my bookshelf.


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Friday, July 14, 2017

Happy Bastille Day!

“Doctor, we are going to be stopping at the island of St. Martin soon, and there’s something I want you to do there.”
Alcott looked at him sharply. “That is a French island, is it not?”
“It was. French and Dutch. At one time a friendly port for Americans. Now, well, it’s still friendly, we just have to be more careful because the Royal Navy has a presence there as well.”
“Is there someone on the island who’s ill?”
“No, not that I know of.” He took a deep breath. This was more difficult than he expected it would be.
“There is a lady there I want you to visit. A Mrs. Cornelia Olifiers. You will like her,” he added quickly. “She’s friendly, and outgoing, and…friendly.”
Alcott was watching him with a strange expression on his face.
“And I am visiting Mrs. Olifiers because…?”
In for a penny, in for a pound. Or in this case, a fee to be paid in good American dollars.
“Madame Cornelia operates an establishment where a young man like you can meet ladies and spend the evening with them.”
Dr. Alcott was young, but he was not stupid. “You are taking me to a brothel?”
“Not so loud, or they’ll all want to go!”

--Sea Change

Ah, the French! Friends to America and providing rest and relaxation to Americans abroad for a long, long time. Vive la France!


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Coffee for the Win!





“Is that coffee I smell?”
Washburn filled the doorway to the kitchen, a look of such amazed wonder on his face that she had to smile.
“Indeed, there was coffee with the supplies. Help yourself to a cup while I finish this up. The grits are about ready, and if you can wait a few more minutes, there will be ham and eggs as well.”
“Bless you, darlin’. I’m beginnin’ to think you an angel sent from above.”
He poured a cup from the pot next to the fire and dumped in a generous serving of sugar before bringing it up to his nose. He closed his eyes and inhaled, then opened them and took a reverent sip.
“Ah,” he said with feeling. “Hot and sweet, just the way I like it.” He was watching her as he said it, and Julia turned away to whip the eggs more fiercely before pouring them into the pan.
--Smuggler's Bride


I didn't need much convincing that coffee is the elixir of life. Heaven knows I need it to jump start my brain in the morning! But it's nice to know that it's not just me saying this, it's scientifically proven: drinking more coffee leads to longer life. I'll drink to that!

Friday, July 07, 2017

Review--Lost Boy

Lost BoyLost Boy by Christina Henry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm very tempted to shelve this in "horror" rather than "fantasy" because it's pretty horrific. Not the writing, that's top-notch, but the story itself...

If you're the sort of individual who finds the idea of a boy who won't grow up, who surrounds himself with other lost children who don't grow up, to be monstrous, then this is the book for you. It's more Lord of the Flies than tinkley little fairies, and the hero is clearly James Hook, a Lost Boy who is more than he seems.

A thoughtful look at the Peter Pan legend told with a fresh perspective, but it's not a light read. I may still move it to the horror shelf.


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Happy #WorldChocolateDay!


"Do you know what I miss the most?”
“Your frivolous hats?”
“No, I mean food I miss. I miss my morning chocolate. I would have chocolate and a small sweet roll every morning when I arose.”
“That is not a breakfast,” he said dismissively. “Good hot porridge, thick enough so a spoon stands straight up in the center, with plenty of cream and honey, now, that is a breakfast that gets your bowels moving so you can start your day.”
His face grew red when he’d realized what he said to her, russet enough to match his hair.

--Castaway Dreams

Stranded without chocolate? Horrors! One of the key items in my "go" bag is a bar of dark chocolate, because if you have to bug out fast, you'll want to have chocolate. Happy #WorldChocolateDay!

Thursday, July 06, 2017

It's #NationalFriedChickenDay!



Amanda picked up a chicken leg and tore off a huge bite.
“Mmmm, Sukie makes wonderful chicken!”
Morgan beamed at her.
“I like a woman with healthy appetites. None of this picking around at bits and pieces like some ladies!”
“Oh.” She put down her chicken. “I have to be careful not to overindulge.”
“Why?”
“Because I have a tendency to eat too much, and then…” She looked down at her plate.
“Yes?”
“You don’t think there’s, well, too much of me?”
He stared at her, then wiped his mouth on the back of his hand.
“Come here, Mrs. Roberts. Right now.”
Amanda seemed startled at this change in course, but dutifully stood up and walked over to her husband’s chair.
He put his hands around her waist and yanked her into his lap.
“Morgan! What are you doing?”
“‘Too much’? Someone has been filling your head with bilge, lass.”
--Captain Sinister's Lady (available again in ebook!)

It's #NationalFriedChickenDay which I'm certain is a state holiday in Florida. This is the best time of year for it too, served with a side of coleslaw, hush puppies, and watermelon to cool you off after. Now, that's some good eating!


Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Review--Nothing Left to Lose (John Cleaver)

Nothing Left to Lose: A Novel (John Cleaver)Nothing Left to Lose: A Novel by Dan Wells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's a wonderful thing when a series concludes and you turn the last page with a satisfied sigh. I read NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE straight through on a summer afternoon, dying (ahem) to find out what happens with our hero John Wayne Cleaver, boy monster hunter and serial killer wannabe. The ending is all I could have asked for, and I won't go into details because *spoilers*, but I highly recommend starting with I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER and reading it for yourself.

I will say that LOSE had delightfully snarky dialogue, interesting monsters, new characters and some soul-searching by our young sociopath as to his life's goals. If you're up for a dose of horror with characters who stick in your mind, check out the John Cleaver novels. I'm glad I did.


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Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Fourth Of July

"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! 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 day, America! Celebrate!