Sunday, December 24, 2017

Review: A Duke in Shining Armor

A Duke in Shining Armor A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ms. Chase is on my autobuy list, and has been since she was first published. There are reasons her Lord of Scoundrels is on almost every shortlist of recommended historical romance--smart, capable heroines, uber male heroes, great historical detail, she brings it all.

I'm already looking forward to the next "Difficult Dukes" offering. This one set the stage for the story of three dissolute friends and their forays into romantic love with a runaway bride, rival best friends and concepts of honor over everything else, not to mention enough book and library love to charm any bibliophile.

A satisfying page-turner that will help you recover from all the frenetic holiday events.

View all my reviews

Review: Bitch Planet, Vol. 2: President Bitch

Bitch Planet, Vol. 2: President Bitch Bitch Planet, Vol. 2: President Bitch by Kelly Sue DeConnick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Too much of this graphic series is eerily prescient with its #MeToo storylines and banned words (and concepts). Of course, the people who should read this won't, so it's left to the rest of us to buy outstanding graphic novels like Bitch Planet and be ready to step back into the fray.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Review: Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and America

Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and America Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and America by Steven J. Ross
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This reads like a thriller, all the more amazing because it’s based on true events. It’s hard to believe that the Nazi threat wasn’t taken seriously in the 1930s, in fact, Hitler had widespread support and the German government could exercise tremendous influence in Hollywood. A handful of Jewish activists, many of whom were WWI veterans, banded together with other veterans and supporters to expose the Nazi threat.

Densely packed with facts and figures, it’s a cautionary tale that’s sadly timeless as Nazis again get airtime and exposure for their warped cause.

View all my reviews

Review: A Hope Divided

A Hope Divided A Hope Divided by Alyssa Cole
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This series continues to be enthralling, telling of a league of enslaved and free spies during the Civil War. I enjoyed this second entry even more than An Extraordinary Union, the first book in the Loyal League series. Excellent research, well crafted and complex protagonists and secondary characters that really come to life.

I'm very much looking forward to more historical romance from Ms. Cole.

View all my reviews

Friday, December 15, 2017

“You ain’t from around here, I can tell that from how you talk.”
“No, ma’am, I’m from England.”
“Hmph. Only good thing that ever came from England was tea.”
Julia didn’t think it necessary to explain that tea came from China, for Ma Ivey was still talking.
--Smuggler's Bride

Today is #InternationalTeaDay and I'm celebrating at lunch with a pot of gunpowder green. Of course, that's what I do every day when I'm home for lunch. Tea drinking is as much a part of my daily routine as my love of coffee, with a pot of green in the afternoon and a cuppa black in the early evening.

I'm very particular about my tea drinking, which is why I almost never order it when I'm out. Unless it's brewed properly, loose-leaf in a warmed pot, I'd rather have coffee. I do take bagged tea when I'm traveling, but I also have a tea press if I have the opportunity to bring water to a near boil in my hotel room.

There's nothing quite like a soothing cup of tea in the middle of the afternoon. Even the ritual of making the tea helps me relax, gather my thoughts, and get back into whatever I'm working on that day. So if you're a fan, whether it's Jasmine Pearl or English Breakfast or Assam or even Rooibos, today's your day! Take a tea break and enjoy life one sip at a time.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Review: Artemis

Artemis Artemis by Andy Weir
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really wanted to give this a higher rating. I loved the "gee whiz!" aspect of solving problems in a closed space environment, I liked the idea of an Arab woman protagonist with a sketchy personal life, and I loved that it passed the Bechdel Test--women were talking with other capable women about science, politics and economics.

But it could have been so much better. Jazz struck me as a Heinleinesque heroine, and not in a good way. She could do amazing things in crisis situations, she was smart and capable, but when she mused on her own life, her sexuality and her choices it was like being in the head of a 17-year-old boy writing about girl stuff. Trust me, women do not focus on their own boobs unless they've got a mammogram scheduled or the darn things are getting in the way again.

I've heard this is already optioned for movie, not surprising given the success of The Martian, and I hope it will get a female director and lead actress who'll bring more sensibility to the role of Jazz and the surrounding characters from Artemis.

View all my reviews

Friday, December 08, 2017

Bringing science to life (and to Micanopy)

“Do you have everything you need?”
Daphne looked at the items in front of her and ticked them off on her fingers.
“I gathered the driest wood and plant shreds I could find. Here is your piece of char cloth. I have my twigs ready and more dry wood. I prepared the firepit.”
“Then stop humming and listen, Miss Farnham.”
She couldn’t help it. She was so excited at learning how to make a fire that the humming was springing out of her like the water burbling up to the pool. Why had no one ever realized how much she loved learning new things? Why had she never realized it? She vowed when she returned to England, she would make it her goal to learn one new thing each day.
--Castaway Dreams

Yesterday I learned about gender differences in identifying colors, training cats, preserving flavor in salsa, and earworms. I was a guest judge at the Micanopy Academy Science Fair, and it was fabulous. Students presented entertaining and unusual research and I had a glimpse into where some of these young men and women could be in 10 years.

I'm a liberal arts major, but when I'm researching my novels I love learning new things: how to remove bullets, hiding pirate treasure, surviving a shipwreck--these are just a few of the tidbits I've used in my work. Seeing the student projects in the fields of behavioral science, physics, environmental science and other fields was inspiring. Even more, the school is on a dirt road in a tiny hamlet where the teachers and staff struggle to find the resources to help their students reach out and achieve their goals. Kudos Miss Andrea and the others for all their hard work! I appreciate being a part of it and I learned stuff, just like Daphne.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Review: Provenance

Provenance Provenance by Ann Leckie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another winner from Ann Leckie, set in the same universe as her previous works, but with a different race/set of characters. Part of what Leckie does so well is gender-bend characters, making the reader see them and their interactions in an entirely new way.

However, the protagonist of Provenance is clearly a young woman, dealing with so many of the same issues young women deal with every day: her job, her friends, her siblings, and, most of all, her mother. Ingray needs her powerful mother's approval to secure her place in their political fiefdom and she risks all on a mission to recover revered artifacts.

Part of what I loved about Ingray was that she's not superwoman. She makes mistakes, she can't manage her hair, she gets upset, and she cries. Just like some real women do.

I was concerned about whether I would enjoy Leckie's writing after the Ancillary series, but now I know she can be added to my autobuy list and I'll get an entertaining story with memorable characters and settings that help restore the "sensawonder" I first received from reading science fiction.

View all my reviews

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Review: Don't Let Go

Don't Let Go Don't Let Go by Harlan Coben
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gripping mystery involving black helicopters, secret government agencies and a mystery surrounding a night of tragedy for a group of high school students. I read it in one afternoon--a real page turner.

View all my reviews