Thursday, November 29, 2018

Review: Dear Mrs. Bird

Dear Mrs. Bird Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A lovely and warm story of a young woman "keeping calm and carrying on" in London during the Blitz. Emmeline longs to be a Serious Journalist (she capitalizes--a lot), maybe even a war correspondent, but her first job at a real newspaper is working with an "agony aunt", a dragon of a woman who terrifies all around her and dispenses advice that's...well, it's not very helpful.

Emmeline also works shifts at the Fire Brigade, answering the phones as the crews rush out during the nightly bombing raids that target London.

This is a charming and moving debut novel about The Greatest Generation, which included those on the home front doing dangerous and vital work while struggling with rationing and nightly air raids. It's also about the value of friendship, and having an understanding listener when life hands you lemons.

I enjoyed it very much and hope to see more from this author in the future.

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Monday, November 26, 2018

Review: Lethal White

Lethal White Lethal White by Robert Galbraith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wonderfully plotted, engrossing, with a cast of characters that, as is so often the case with Galbraith's writing, seem to step right off the page. The mystery kept me turning pages late into the day and had me guessing right up until the end.

We also get to see more development in the relationship--work based, but edging toward more--between Strike and Robin. It's a slow build and that adds to the satisfaction. I know Galbraith isn't a speedy writer, but these Strike mysteries are worth the wait and I look forward to another in the future.

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Sunday, November 25, 2018

Review: Seeing Miss Heartstone

Seeing Miss Heartstone Seeing Miss Heartstone by Nichole Van
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love being delighted by a new-to-me Regency author. Seeing Miss Heartstone shows that the Regency romance is alive and well, and doesn't depend on out-there plots or protagonists to be a satisfying read.

It starts with what appears to be a conventional marriage of convenience trope, but then takes off in a new direction as an epistolary novel with characters who are flawed, yet perfect for each other.

I enjoyed it immensely and will look for more from this author.

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Friday, November 16, 2018

Review: Frolicking Bears, Wet Vultures, and Other Oddities: A New York City Journalist in Nineteenth-Century Florida

Frolicking Bears, Wet Vultures, and Other Oddities: A New York City Journalist in Nineteenth-Century Florida Frolicking Bears, Wet Vultures, and Other Oddities: A New York City Journalist in Nineteenth-Century Florida by Jerald T. Milanich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A glimpse into a land of flowers that no longer exists, where fish and wildlife thrived and tourists would steam upriver on the St. Johns randomly killing alligators as they passed by. One could say it's the price of progress and development, but I enjoyed this look at where we came from.

One point in the book that's been made somewhat better by progress is mosquito control, and when we talk about the good old days in Florida it's also important to remember those were the days of Yellow Fever and malaria, so some things have improved and it's no wonder that the man credited with inventing air conditioning is honored with Florida's official statue in the nation's capitol.

I do recommend this collection to those who wish to know more about Florida's history in the Reconstruction era, and how the strides made by the federal occupation army and the free enslaved people were rolled back by corruption and racism.

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Monday, November 12, 2018

"Where do you get your ideas?" Part Deux

They kept walking and after a while the tension in Julia’s head eased and she could enjoy more of the sight of a Florida she hadn’t seen, the busy autumn world of returning northern birds and squabbling natives, staking their claims to the insects and nesting areas of the pinewoods. Washburn walked through the woods with confidence, but kept his rifle cradled in front of him. When she came up beside him, she saw his eyes were moving over the terrain, scanning it for danger. The trail was wider here and they could walk abreast rather than with Julia trailing behind.

--Smuggler's Bride 

Autumn is my favorite season for hiking in the Florida woods and I set out yesterday for an afternoon trek through San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park, one of the last stands of mature forest in the state. If you've only visited Orlando or South Florida, this is a sight to see if you've ever wondered about "the other Florida."

Hiking is a good opportunity to think and clear my head, and I don't listen to podcasts or anything but birdsong as I trek along the trail. As I came through a stand of longleaf pine on the Yellow Trail I saw a white tailed deer, some lacy wildflowers, and I had a plot breakthrough for Book #9 (Working Title: Nicholas' Book). Three breakthroughs, actually, in quick succession.

For about two seconds I bemoaned my lack of notepad and pen and then it struck me: I had a computer in my pocket that makes phone calls. It also has a voice memo function! So I pulled out my iPhone and made my notes, then uploaded them to my Dropbox account for that book.

Truly, we live in amazing times. We can still enjoy a chunk of Florida that looks the same as it did when my characters trekked through it in the 1840s, and have access to 21st century tech that keeps me writing. What a time to be alive!

This is also a timely reminder that Smuggler's Bride is at Smashwords, 20% off through the end of the month!

Review: The Duke's Wager

The Duke's Wager The Duke's Wager by Edith Layton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This novel has long been one of my favorite Regencies and I re-read it at least once a year. The hero is unforgettable, the antagonist is wonderfully satisfying and the heroine is a woman doing her best to survive with nothing. The writing sings and the secondary characters stand out.

Ms. Layton was taken from us far too soon, but her novels are worth tracking down and reading not just for the pleasure of it, but for what amounts to a little master class in writing Regency romance. I highly recommend her work, but especially The Duke's Wager.

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Review: The Real Deal

The Real Deal The Real Deal by Lauren Blakely
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Snappy dialogue, fun characters, family dynamics and the fake boyfriend trope add up to a perfect weekend or beach read. The action is hot and the story satisfies, and sometimes that's exactly what you're looking for.

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Review: Last Night with the Earl

Last Night with the Earl Last Night with the Earl by Kelly Bowen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I very much enjoyed this tale of bullying, an artist who paints boudoir portraits, and a wounded war veteran dealing with his return home. Bowen is now on my auto-buy list as I catch up on her backlist, and I'm finding her stories satisfying. I especially liked the resolution of issues with secondary characters in this novel, the appearance of characters from other series' Bowen's written, and hope to see more of these characters advance to their own stories in the future.

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Monday, November 05, 2018

Review: Archangel's Prophecy

Archangel's Prophecy Archangel's Prophecy by Nalini Singh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are a couple things an author can do to keep a long running series fresh. One is to introduce new and interesting characters, and Nalini Singh does that very well with both her Psy-Changeling and her Guild Hunter books.

The other is to raise the stakes on your protagonists. Archangel's Prophecy will leave some readers dissatisfied but only in the sense that they'll be anxious for the next installment, and that's a good thing. Keeping the tension ramped up helps with a series about near-immortal archangels, vampires, and the mortals who love them.

There are some world building details that niggle at me--if there's no organized Western religion as we know it, would these civilizations have developed so closely parallel to our own? And, what happened to the Native Americans? Were they never a part of this world?

But, 11 novels and some short stories/novellas in, the details don't keep me from enjoying the tale. I would recommend, as is usually the case with series of this length, that readers begin at the beginning with Angel's Blood.

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