Monday, November 30, 2015

Review--Bitch Planet, Vol. 1

Bitch Planet, Vol 1: Extraordinary Machine (Bitch Planet, #1-5)Bitch Planet, Vol 1: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Every now and then I feel like subverting the patriarchy (OK, I feel like that most days), and it's refreshing to run across graphic novels like Bitch Planet. It's in-your-face, subversive, we won't be "quiet ladies", fun with a strong tongue-in-cheek attitude and a lot of womyn behaving badly.

Can't wait for the next volume!

View all my reviews

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Review--Career of Evil

Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike, #3)Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent writing, very good mystery that kept me guessing right up until the Big Reveal. The protagonists aren't always sympathetic (isn't that part of what makes noir noir?), but their lives seem very real as they unfold before our eyes.

Cormoran Strike and his partner/assistant (depending on who's being asked) Robin Ellacott receive an especially nasty mystery to solve when a delivery to Robin turns out to be a severed human leg. That unpleasant day at work rather sets the tone for the entire novel, but it's very well done. There are still unresolved issues between Robin and Cormoran, between Robin and her fiance Matthew, and we learn more about what makes these two tick.

I look forward to more excellent (if sometimes stomach churning) suspense from Galbraith in the future.

View all my reviews

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Alex returned and added water to the pot, careful not to let it
fall below a boil. Eventually, after some whining (the dog) and
grumbling (Miss Farnham), he pronounced the crabs ready for
consumption. He extracted the crabs by using his stick to flip them
into the air.

“Catch them, Daphne! Quick, before the dog grabs them!”

Holding the valise open, Miss Farnham dashed about, catching
the manna as it fell from the heavens. The dog barked and she
laughed and Alexander felt almost lighthearted.
He put it down to hunger.

--Castaway Dreams

I've always felt it's important to count your blessings as often as possible, but Thanksgiving gives us a special focus on being grateful for the little things--food, shelter, puppies, and people who love us.

I'm especially grateful for each and every one of my readers. When you take time to drop me a note saying you enjoyed my stories, it recharges my batteries and gets me back to the keyboard. Thank you. I couldn't do this without you.

As you celebrate today, remember those who do not have the blessings we all too often take for granted. Donate a book to a child living in a "literacy desert" (there are more than you suspect), volunteer to read to a youngster or an invalid, help your local public library when it has fundraising efforts. You're reading this because you love books (I only have the finest fans, after all!), so share that with those who do not have the blessings we enjoy.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Review--The Aeronaut's Windlass (The Cinder Spires, #1)

The Aeronaut's Windlass (The Cinder Spires, #1)The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Aeronauts! Steampunk! Space Pirates! Privateers! Naval battles! Giant freakin' spiders! Cats with thumbs! ( This book has everything, and it's held together with brass and leather and optics and steam as Jim Butcher strikes out for new territory.

It's post-apocalyptic steampunk gooey goodness when the forces of noble Albion are fiendishly attacked by their hereditary enemies of Aurora. New recruits to the Guards will be tested in fire, and new alliances forged (as well as a relationship or two formed in the heat of battle) when Albion defends its very existence. The airship battles rival anything Patrick O'Brien penned, and the hefty first book in The Cinder Spires is a page turner sure to satisfy adventure fans.

View all my reviews

Monday, November 16, 2015

Walking Through History

St. Augustine was a cosmopolitan piece of Europe bordering
the new United States. With Florida tossed like a shuttlecock
between Spain and England, the Americans were poised to seize
the territory of East Florida and shore up their coastline,
eliminating the foreign threats from their southern shores.

“See? A perfectly respectable establishment,” Jack said when
he ushered Sophia into Captain Roberts’s home on St. George
Street. The two-story house had a stuccoed lower floor, its creamy
walls reflecting the afternoon sun, and a wooden second story with
a balcony. It did indeed look like the abode of a prosperous sea
captain, neatly maintained if sparsely furnished. There were no
pictures on the wall, none of the little touches making a house a
--The Bride and the Buccaneer

I modeled Captain Roberts's house (Captain Sinister's Lady; The Bride and the Buccaneer) on the Ximenez-Fatio House Museum on Aviles Street in St. Augustine, Florida. I "relocated" the house to St. George Street because I took some liberties with the interior, but the house is a wonderful example of early Florida European design. It was a delight to visit it the first time to do research, and I had the pleasure of strolling past the house again this past weekend as we took advantage of a getaway opportunity. St. Augustine is one of my favorite Florida cities, nicknamed "The Ancient City". 

2015 marks 450 years since the city's founding. In 1565, Don Pedro Mendenez arrived with 800 colonists to settle the New World in the name of Spain. The city has been under many flags ever since, but it's still a living piece of our nation's history. The charming St. Francis Inn, where we stayed, was built in 1791 and has been in use as an inn since 1845.

My British friends laugh at our idea of "ancient history". My Israeli and Greek friends really laugh at what we consider ancient. Let them laugh, St. Augustine continues to draw crowds of tourists from around the world. For myself, I just love the opportunity to explore the history I enjoy so much and spend a day researching. It's moments like that that convince me I have the best job in the world.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Review--The Accidental Assassin

The Accidental AssassinThe Accidental Assassin by Nichole Chase
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fun book, perfect for a weekend getaway at a historic inn (yes, I had a lovely time, thank you very much). The H&H were perfect for each other, the secondary characters shone, and the non-stop action kept the finger swiping on the ereader.

American gal Ava's tired of her life being in a rut, so she strikes out for London, anxious to stretch her boundaries. She's flat-sitting at her best friend's yummy place, and job hunting, sightseeing and people watching. One of those people is a hunky guy who makes eye contact with her in a neighborhood coffee shop. When Ava accidentally runs over one of the residents of her apartment building, she finds herself targeted for a hit and on the run with Hunky Coffee Shop Guy, who's a professional assassin.

What I really liked about it is Ava doesn't make TSTL mistakes (her one slip-up was understandable), and her skill set is modest, but realistic.

I enjoyed The Accidental Assassin, and look forward to seeing more of the secondary characters in their own books down the road.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Review--The Queen (The Original Sinners: White Years, #4)

The Queen (The Original Sinners: White Years, #4)The Queen by Tiffany Reisz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A satisfying conclusion to a complex and thoughtful erotic series about a dominatrix, her lovers, and their lives.

Of course, it's much more than that. Anyone who followed The Original Sinners through the Red Years (starting with The Siren) and the second part, The White Years, knows that it's not a simple love story. Rather, it's a story of forbidden love and a triad relationship that evolves, becoming so complex with the people drawn into the orbit of the protagonists that one practically needs to diagram it to remember who's connected to whom.

Nora, Soren and Kingsley's lives unfolded in the manner of Scheherazade's storytelling, with flashbacks and exposition sandwiched into current events. In this final book we learn the full backstory of how Nora became the Red Queen, the top domme in NYC, and what that meant regarding the "forever" she and Soren had promised each other. I'm still not sanguine they can achieve something close to a HEA, but at least they're HFN.

I would strongly encourage anyone interested in this book to start with The Siren. A good story unfolds over time, and the series is beautifully crafted to be read piece-by-piece.

View all my reviews

Veterans Day

Dr. Murray looked like he was about to say something, but
Carville spoke up, saying stubbornly, “I still don’t believe the
United States surrendered.”
“A peace treaty is not a surrender, Carville,” Charley said. “I
am sure there is more to this than we know.”
Indeed, when Captain Doyle returned there was a full report. A
peace treaty had been negotiated restoring Great Britain and the
United States to their antebellum status.
“But what of the prisoners?” Charley asked Captain Doyle.
“A Yankee trader from France bound for Charleston put into
port a few days back. That is how we got the news. The governor
is not interested in having a gang of Americans roaming through
Kingston, and asked if we would ‘host’ them for a while longer
until they can ship out with their countrymen.”
It was that simple. Men who two days earlier would have run
each other through or blown each other to pieces, now were up on
deck toasting each other’s countries with carefully rationed grog.
Captain Doyle wisely put a limit on the amount of alcohol served,
knowing that it wouldn’t take much to re-ignite the conflict on a
smaller scale.
“Captain Fletcher told me I do not understand men, Mr.
Bryant,” Charley said in bemusement later that night. “I have to
agree with him.”
Mr. Bryant shrugged his shoulders. “They fought when they
needed to fight. Now they’re anxious to go home. We sailors are
not complicated creatures, Doctor.”
--Sea Change

November 11 is Veterans Day in the US, formerly known as Armistice Day. It marked the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the end of World War I, but now it's the day we salute the women and men who fought for us. They are the ones who defend our country from foreign enemies, and we owe them our respect and gratitude for doing that difficult job.

I'm proud to live in a community that hosts an excellent VA Medical facility. I've visited friends being treated there, and I'm always impressed by the caring individuals who work so hard to give our veterans their health care. It's not a perfect system, and for many veterans and their families there's far too much waiting and red  tape, but it's a vast improvement over what existed 100 years ago.

In the best of all possible worlds, we wouldn't need standing armies and navies (and the Marines, the Air Force, and the Coast Guard) but until that day, they do the work that needs to be done.

Thank you.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Review--Corridors of the Night (William Monk, #21)

Corridors of the Night (William Monk, #21)Corridors of the Night by Anne Perry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well done mystery involving William and Hester Monk. Part of what I enjoy about these novels is the protagonists are very much part of the middle classes, not the gentry (though in Monk's case we can't be positive since he has no memory of his early life). They have to think about paying bills, and cooking food, and making ends meet. They can't just hie off on mystery solving like Peter Wimsey or Sherlock Holmes.

This novel involves a question of medical ethics and the price of success. If experimentation involving live subjects--human subjects--can bring life-saving results for millions, should we condemn the scientists who conduct the research?

It's much more complicated than that, naturally, but the mystery involves something we very much take for granted in the 21st c., blood transfusions. In an age before an understanding of blood typing, no one knew why it almost always failed. Hester gets involved with a medical researcher who's willing to stop at nothing to find answers, even if it costs lives.

I thought the ending, while predictable, seemed a bit rushed. The novel will be enjoyed by fans of the series, because while it brings us to a conclusion of the crime investigation, it also advances secondary characters who've become part of the narrative.

View all my reviews

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Review--The Price of Valor (The Shadow Campaigns, #3)

The Price of Valor (The Shadow Campaigns, #3)The Price of Valor by Django Wexler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another crackin' good yarn as we go deeper into the political turmoil of Vordan, in events that parallel the French Revolution. And yet, even as things lead to what would be the rise of the First Consul in our history, in The Price of Valor we have a monarch still very much involved in the country (too much so, according to her grumbling handler), and we have the "woo-woo" element as well.

This is the third book in Shadow Campaign series, which will total five volumes, according to the author. No one should start the books at this point, in my opinion, because we've had so much wonderful character development and growth in the earlier books, especially in characters like Winter.

However, if you like a good fantasy with a faux-European set-up and lots of well done battle scenes and political intrigue, this is the series for you.

View all my reviews