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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

...a gem!


Cherringham - Murder on Thames: A Cosy Crime Series (Cherringham ENG)  by Matthew Costello and Neil Richards 

This was fun. A murder mystery, with a difference. Sort of Midsummer Murders meets Jesse Stone. The yank in the sleepy English village puts his finger on it when he notes that, 'sweet old Cherringham maybe not so cosy and innocent.' And thus a series is born. Ah! Those deceptive English villages!     

Jack is a retired New York detective who's made home a canal boat in England, a dream he and his deceased wife had planned. Sarah is a single mother, returned with her children to her home village after a messy divorce. The death of Sarah's best friend Sammi unites these two as they search for the reason behind Sammi's demise.
The writing is vivid and I had no trouble visualizing Jack's boat moored at the canal, feeling with sympathy Jack's careful driving down those English country lanes surrounded by hedges, those lazy English pubs, and rambling paths alongside rivers.
40 minutes to an hour and you've read a smart short story. With more episodes to follow over a year, it's a monthly gift to yourself or someone else. A serial, much like those that some magazines used to run years ago. An older, simple concept that plays well with eBooks.

A NetGalley ARC

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

...as always a treat!

Tales from High Hallack, Volume 2: the collected short stories of Andre Norton by Andre Norton

Some of these short stories I've read before, others I've somehow missed out on, such as Noble Warrior. Certainly, it's a pleasure as always to revisit the worlds Norton created.
Having read the background novels to some of the short stories does make you go, oh yes, I remember. This collection is more a treat for those who are familiar with Norton's work rather than a newcomer. 

A NetGalley ARC


A grand finale!

Crown of Renewal (Legend of Paksenarrion) (Paladin's Legacy #5) by Elizabeth Moon      


As Elizabeth Moon says in her very coherent introduction this is not a story for the first entry reader into those works that began with Legend of Paksenarrion. And who, having read that great beginning, can forget the feisty true fighter that she was, her humble beginnings, her refining under fire, and the blessings of Gird that upheld, tested and shaped her. Crown of Renewal is the grand finale that draws the many threads together, weaving the various books into a whole, giving us insight into the how, why, when, and what of all that has gone before.
We meet old favourites and find new heroes. We are reminded of old situations as new happenings, familiar and known, are referenced. Paks's previous capture by Iynisin, the dark elves, is recalled by new attacks and resulting poisononous wounds inflicted by them. Then there's the opening horror of the fate of the Filis, a son of Count Andressat at the hands of Alured the Black. I for one, am again ensnared enough to reread the stories gone before (having read them all at least once, if not two or three times) to capture their essence, and distill this new gem. The convergence of the various plots  is wonderful. Answers to the questions about Dorian and the crown realia, the Mage lords, the Dragon, all the streams and various tributes merge together to reveal the full picture.
A longtime fan (there are many of us) and collector of Moon's works, this is the crowning piece to the Magnus opus collection, the Paladin Legacy, that Paksenarrion heralded.
I was touched by Moon's dedication, a tribute to another longtime fan.  
I dare to hope for side stories from time to time, snippets even of other characters and events met throughout the Paladin Legacy. 

A NetGalley ARC

Monday, May 26, 2014

Such fun!

The Mad Herringtons (Classic Regency Romances) by Jane Myers Perrine 

An amusing romp. I sometimes wondered if had fallen into an Oscar Wilde or Noel Coward play. My heart quite goes out to Aphrodite as she tries to control her more passionate wild sisters and brothers. After all she is the 'sensible' one (after all she is reading Sense and Sensibility). Almost engaged and off to a House Party to meet her fiancé's mother, some of her siblings accompany her.
Those names the Herrington children all have! Quite diverting! Greek gods and goddesses and muses. As is the reason why the Marchioness named her offspring thus.
Anyway as we follow some of the Herrington's antics we behold Terpsichore crossed in love, Athena a baggage if ever there was one (sort of Lydia Bennett but obsessed with kissing and practising on footmen and stablehands), and Aphrodite herself determined to be the 'proper' Herrington.
Aski (Asklepios), Aphrodite's brother joins the group masquerading rather terribly as an Italian Conte having come down from Cambridge, Frederick--her almost fiancé seemingly only interested in his mother's well being, Frederick's dreadful malevolent mother, and Thomas, Viscount of Warwick whose kiss Aphrodite has never forgotten, and who steps outside his role of bored ennui into, well, a caring and almost besotted man.
There are some wonderful scenes with Frederick's deplorable mother's focus on the getting of grandchildren and fecundity.
With all the mad 'Goings On', the House Party's performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream fades into sensible along side the antics of the mad and not so mad Herringtons and those assorted house guests.
As Warwick mused when a stray imp of mischief decided him into joining the House Party, 'The addition of those tempestuous personalities and efforts of the proper sister to control them contained the elements of a farce.' So true!
Really a delightful read. I smiled all the way through. 

A NetGalley ARC

Friday, May 23, 2014

Well presented and easily read

The New Colored Pencil: Create Luminous Works with Innovative Materials and Techniques by Kristy Ann Kutch


I like the layout of this book. I especially like  the richness of drawing examples scattered throughout. Those certainly added to its kerb appeal. The production is smart and information is easily accessed.
Kristy  Kutch is not only a proven shown artist she runs frequent workshops. Check out her website. As an artist and teacher she has produced a book that is an excellent resource for those unable to attend workshops to connect with the medium. I don't learn well by reading about things. I learn best by working alongside someone, the practical hands on approach over the theory. No book replaces that experience. However, if I wanted to refer back to a certain technique post a workshop, or extend my knowledge about a technique, this book is a useful tool.
As an aside, my preference for art books is always as the hard copy, rather than an eBook. I have The New Colored Pencil on my kindle to review, and yes it's readily accessible in this format but I do prefer the physical book. That however is very much a personal idiosyncrasy.
Comparing this with other books on the same topic? Whilst similar to others out there, the ideas are presented in the author's particular style with her leanings. A new slant on things is often rewarding.
After reading the flurry of comments surrounding this publication it is interesting to note that another author of such books mentioned in the comments as being worthwhile is listed in Kutch's 'Acknowledgement' section as a supporter and helper with this production. Two more of the authors mentioned as good examples in the field are listed in the Bibliography.
A rewarding production to browse through from time to time, or give as a present.

A NetGalley ARC

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

...unexpected!

Goddess Born by Kari Edgren 


A gifted healer, the blood of a Celtic goddess running through her veins enables Selah Kilbrid's talent. A talent that needs to be renewed by prayer and in secret. Persecution is a heartbeat away. 
Hopewell, Pennsylvania 1730 and Selah is being pursued by the Quaker minister, Nathan Crowley. His regard for her turns sour when she refuses his suite.  Despite knowing Selah is engaged to her cousin who's on his way from Ireland, Nathan threatens to expose her as a witch if she doesn't marry him. Her family, although Catholic had settled here in the New World to escape persecution of their kind in Ireland. Selah's mother and grandmother had the 'gift'. They had been accepted into the Quaker community, and attended meetings but had retained their own religion. Now Nathan was endangering that acceptance and Selah's life. Plotting to outwit him Selah flees to meet her fiance's ship. To her dismay she discovers that he perished on the voyage. In desperation she outbids bids a wealthy brick works' owner for an indentured servant, making a new enemy. Her plan is to wed the fellow, present him as her cousin and new husband, in name only. After a suitable time she'd free him, send him away and she would maintain her independence.
Just as there is more to Selah, we discover there is much more to Henry. Certainly the tempo picks up as he becomes more involved in Selah and her predicament.
With a fascinating story line, a determined and likeable main character, Goddess Born held my interest from woe to go. I read it in one sitting.

A NetGalley ARC

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Gaslight Chronicles continues to thrill.

Dragons & Dirigibles (The Gaslight Chronicles #7)  by Cindy Spencer Pape


The stories surrounding the marvellously rich group of people we know from the Gaslight Chronicles continue to be mined.
Melody McKay an airship engineer, pilot and member of the Order of the Round Table, is testing her dirigible's new engine design over the Devonshire coast when either the boiler or generator inexplicably explodes. She crashes into the parklands in front of Black Heath Manor.  Fortunately the damage to her is minor, bruises and a sprained ankle. Her Scottish deerhound Birch (who has his own set of specially designed goggles--how cute and practical!) is fine too.
Captain Victor Arrington, the current Earl of Blackwell has returned from his first love, the sea, to take up the lordly reins and care for his niece Emma when his brother, the late Earl, and his sister-in-law are killed in an accident. He and Barnaby, his trusty ex shipmate now butler, are scouring the rocks looking for evidence of smugglers who have been plaguing the area. They have seen a large strange crab like apparatus climbing out of the water and disappearing into the rock face. Are the two connected?
Emma is an extremely intelligent and precocious ten year old. Victor is a gruff, loveable person, just with outmoded ideas about women. Although as Nell declares, 'There's a sense of strength about him. A woman would always feel safe with him nearby.'
Victor has little experience with children and thinks to train Emma to be a future lady of the manor (whatever that might mean), maybe ensconced in doing embroidery and good works! That plan was doomed before Melody arrived, and is doubly so when Emma sees what women can do. Emma was already nose deep in history and scientific tomes, bargaining with her uncle over against his wishes for her to read something more ladylike--a novel perhaps? Hmm! Somehow I think not!
Strange events come to pass and Victor and Melody pretend to be engaged to throw any informants for the smugglers off the scent. Victor, against his better judgement is attracted to Melody...and Melody?...Well?
Backup arrives in the form of Melody's foster siblings Tom Devere and Nell Hadrian along with Miss Dorothy to chaperone.
There is more going on at Black Heath Manor than thought and all are in danger before the end is in sight.

A NetGalley ARC

Monday, May 19, 2014

... another Diener gift!

A Dangerous Madness (Regency London #3) by Michelle Diener

London, May 1812: Political intrigue, the assassination of the Prime Minister, treachery in high places, a broken engagement and a fiancé fled abroard.
Two people will become involved. Miss Phoebe Hillier, the jilted fiancé, and James the Duke of Whittaker. Whitehall is looking for culprits in the upper echelons of society and James is their man sent to find out the truth.
Are there others pulling the strings, orchestrating events, or did the man, John Bellingham simply do it by himself.
I was caught up in the mystery by the third page and well and truly hooked by the time Phoebe and Whittaker met and interacted.       
Phoebe, our wealthy heiress is unexpected. Seemingly tractable, she is actually delightfully strong and intelligent, a woman of her times who bowed down to the inevitable force of family and duty. With her fiancé fled her world is beginning to unravel in interesting ways. Time for her to blossom, if she can survive the attempts on her life.       
Tired of the lie he has been leading James is ready to leave behind the path he has trod, acting out the part of a dissolute rake, seemingly despaired of by his father, whilst in reality a spy for those behind Whitehall's doors. That was until Prime Minister Spencer Percival is murdered.
Taking a moment in history, plucking on the golden thread hidden in the dross, Diener has once again shown her talent for untangling the whole and spinning a yarn that ensnares.
Snippets of heard mumblings referencing puppets and Thomas Beckett are thrown in adding further puzzle pieces.
I love the cover, the rich folds on Phoebe's dress. You can sense this young woman's strength of character and sense of purpose in the way she holds her shoulders, the poise of her jawline softened by the whisper of curls down her back. An intriguing design.
A strong regency mystery with a growing love story supporting the whole.

A NetGalley ARC

Sunday, May 18, 2014

a solid follow up to an intriguing beginning!

The Treacherous Path (The Narrowing Path Series #2) by David J. Normoyle 

Societies develop in different ways. On Arcandis, an outpost of Earth, communities had been formed under the threat of the Infernam, a condition of extreme heat visited once every six years, as the planet Helion passes within orbit. Actions are driven or tempered by the Infernam, that time when the planet burns so hot that all outside are scorched and die horribly. Only those who can secure a place in The Refuge survive. That place is earned and held by trial, by belonging, by bribery, by any means possible. 
It's been three years since Bowe earned a place for the Bellingers when he survived the testing time on the Green Path [The Narrowing Path].  
He has not carved out the place for the Bellingers he had thought to. The Bellangers do not have an empire and hope of returning them to their original place is fading. Other family's are looking to displace them.
His latest venture looks to fail spectacularly. On that note it looks like Bowe's pack of card will come tumbling down. His realization that he has squandered the three years he'd had is slow to register.
Barely escaping with his life ahead of the Dulnato, his enemy from the Path, of the Grenier family, Bowe flees from the city after meeting with Coensaw the leader of the Guild, a powerful underbelly group in the society. Bowe runs into bandits and takes refuge as a scribe in a farming community where he begins to see things that might aid his cause. Then there's the invading army from Jarind led by Washima. This group from the neighbouring country were so shocked by the way Arcandis society works and it's way of dealing with the Infernam they took up arms to free the Aarcandis people from tyranny. The Arcandis people feel differently. They want self determination, not others making war on their our land. Theirs is the choice for their way of life. It is not for others to invade and make that decision for them. 
Once more Bowe takes a hand in the game of harmony, albeit belatedly, and decides on a course of action.

A NetGalley ARC

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Twisted plot holds it's knots right to the end!


The Paris Lawyer by Sylvie Granotier  translated by Anne Trager  

For some reason the colour green of her childhood, of the grass, of emerald eyes, of Cedric  Dever's grey green eyes was amongst my first impressions.
The colour green comes to represent the descent from softness and joy into the harsh and uncompromising reality of lost ways, of childhood nightmares, of fear and loss.
Catherine Monsigny's past is shadowed even from herself.
A rising young lawyer looking to make her mark, she takes on a murder case that unwittingly returns her to that lost time. Somehow her current case and the one just prior will merge and cross lines that terrify, intrigue and release forgotten childhood memories.   
Catherine's fears of not knowing her way, of having to mark her route for the simplistic of journeys harken back to her childhood trauma.    
What does the village of Creuse have to do with her past, her now and her future?
As the story unfolds the complexities woven throughout reflect the layers that unfold as Catherine's story is revealed. 
Her pro bono case opens up more than she was prepared for. 
There does seem to be an underlying hint that she responds to the attentions of older men.
As an aside French women and their motor scooters continue to fascinate me.
I did not see the ending coming until it did.
A tragic psychological mystery illuminated by the probing inner puzzlements of Catherine. It kept me guessing!

A NetGalley ARC

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Deceptively fascinating thriller!

The Day She Died: A Novel by Catriona McPherson    

The storyline in 'The Day She Died' was completely unexpected in its unfolding. A pyscho thriller with more than its share of laudable twists and turns. There are scores of little touches that resonate as a new vista into what's happening is opened up, recalling hints from a seemingly innocent observation mentioned previously. Jessie Constable is a worker in a church thrift store. She meets Gus King and his daughter in Marks and Spencer just as he is given the news that his wife Becky had left him. Sympathetic to his distress, with his inability to function, she agrees to drive him and young Ruby home. En route they pass police divers in action. For some reason this scene stays with Jessie. At Gus's home Jessie finds a note that indicates Becky may have been intent on suicide, although it is strange that she has left their young son Dillon alone. Gus is however adamant that Becky and suicide can't be so. The police and Gus request Jessie to stay and give assistance with the children. She soon finds herself completely embroiled in the tragedies of Gus's life.  
Jessie suffers from a rare phobia, Pteronophobia, a fear of feathers. This too plays into the story. Jessie is a strong despite or because of her rare phobia. As she reveals more and more of her fear we are able to more fully empathize with the full horror of her condition and it's source. It's only in the closing scenes that she and we come to realize how her imperfections have been teased out and fully utilized by a master manipulator.
A rare and appealing cast of characters and sub plots fill out the rest of the novel. We are given little clues, little pearls to soak up as the events unfold. Even the beginning had me puzzled and confused. Later I had to reread it. Seemingly an innocent story of help given in extreme moments, it's only as we read on that we become as puzzled as Jessie. Engaging and visually compelling prose ensure that this is a complex and satisfying read.
Top marks for a gritty exciting story that sucked me in and kept me reading beyond when I should have.

A NetGalley ARC

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

...surprising!


Meet the Earl at Midnight (Midnight Meetings) by Gina Conkle 

'If a woman's old enough to wear a corset, she's old enough to know midnight meeting's spell trouble.'
Well that opening salvo certainly grabbed my attention.
Bargained off to meet her stepfather's debts and to keep her mother safe, Lydia Montgomery decides to meet Lord Sandford, the Earl of Greenwich's demands, with her own strings attached!
Edward's passion is for uncovering the secrets of exotic plants. He has decided to set his things in order, get himself a wife and heir, before sailing off, maybe never to return, on a scientific expedition to collect plant samples from the Africa's.
As he is a recluse, badly scarred from an encounter with pirates on a previous voyage, this seems the way to proceed.    
In fact he has some interesting observations attached to him by society. There's elusive, eccentric, The Phantom of London, mad, diseased, and The Greenwich Recluse to name a few. The way he has decided to solve his problem certainly fits with some of the monikers.
Both Lydia and Edward, Lord Edward Christopher James Sandford, ninth Earl of Greenwich, that is, are fascinating characters.
Lydia has more than a talent for painting. This talent helps her to enter into her Earl's heart and will later set them at odds with each other.
Edward's mother, the countess, is a piece of work. She is appalled that her son is marrying a commoner! The early interplay between her and Lydia is amusing and difficult, yet she and Lydia form an uneasy alliance in an attempt to keep the Earl at home. 
Then there's the mysterious housekeeper, the beautiful Miss Mayhew. I don't feel that the mystery of her is ever resolved. Occasionally, the mysterious Miss Mayhew had me feeling  like I'd wandered into the pages of Wuthering Heights, or some other gothic novel.
The middle dragged a tad, as Lydia struggled to be true to herself, but the resolution of the struggle between Lydia and the Earl was handled in an interesting manner with some surprising outcomes.
This beauty and the beast story has some interesting depths and special moments.

A NetGalley ARC

Phyrne's frolics once more intrigue!

Murder and Mendelssohn: A Phryne Fisher Mystery #20 by Kerry Greenwood


Just from Greenwood's opening line I could feel the 1929 summer Australian sunlight coming in through that St Kilda window warming me. Greenwood's highly evocative prose had me picturing Phryne 'sitting in her jasmine bower, drenched in scent.' All made even more delectable and real by the wonderful cover, the divine Phyrne in her equally divine 'green silk gown embroider in phoenixes.' I am transported back to that time and place instantly. Of course Phyne nibbles croissants and sips cafe au lait!
I am smitten by these scenes before moving further! I have to pause to drink it all in.
I have long been a fan of Kerry Greenwood and Phryne Fisher's marvellous exploits. She is a wonderful twenties woman.
This episode does not disappoint. We have a murdered orchestra conductor on one hand and are renewing acquaintances with dear John Wilson from Phyrne's war days as an ambulance driver on the other. But John brings more murder attempts on a different front, John's friend Rupert Sheffield, mathematical genius, ex code breaker, beautiful to look at and without the slightest idea of how to win friends and influence people, is at risk. Phyrne's interesting menagerie, or rather 'family' and adherents are of course all there to lend a hand, including Molly the dog and Ember the cat (who is more autocratically decorative than anything else). Jane and Ruth are growing up, each in such a different way, and I'm quite delighted by Tinker, the ragamuffin fisher lad from Queenscliff. Every now and then I flash onto 'Auntie Mame' particularly when Phyrne and her family and friends are interacting, only Phyrne is just so much 'more' in every way.
An enchanting read with the delectable, unpredictable Phynre.

A NetGalley ARC

...talk about laugh!

Noble Intentions (Noble series) by Katie MacAlister 

I must admit to the odd chortle of laughter escaping my lips as I read this thoroughly delightful, charmingly disingenuous romp. Ok I was more than occasionally convulsing with laughter, tears streaming down my face at our heroine's actions and commentary. A commentary that sometimes, oops! was said out loud, to the startlement of all, including herself.

Nobel Britton, Lord Wessex, known as The Black Earl, (or as Gillian Leigh calls him, The Lord of Lusciousness) is stark raving mad if he thinks the woman whom he claims as his bride, this harem sacrum original, was going to calmly do his bidding.
I must admit Gillian's innocent comment about his broken man parts had me rolling in the aisle. Hilarious!
Warm impulsive Gillian takes to heart Noble, his son and all his endeavours. She sails through all adversity with nary a second glance, endearing herself to all, including Noble's mistresses.
A delightful escapade!

A NetGalley ARC

...a very likeable mad duke!


To Charm a Naughty Countess (Matchmaker Trilogy #2) by Theresa Romain

The Mad Duke,  Michael John Wythe Layward, Duke of Wyverne, Marquess of  Vaughan, Earl of Beaumont, Baron Lunley, and responsible for the well-being of thousands, was in need of a wealthy bride. His finances are in disarray and the weight of his responsibilities match the weight of his titles. 
The problem is that Wyverne has a reputation as being crazy. How to catch a wealthy bride with that millstone around his social neck? Wyverne has few social graces and is better suited to digging canals in the depths of Lancashire than carrying on polite conversation.
Hence his attempts in social interaction ended in failure. Witness the taking apart of his hosts Carcel Lamp instead of paying suit to the available heiress.
Wyverne is addicted to scientific inventions, from lanterns to canals and railways, all of it. He likes to understand how things work, how to mend things, how scientific discoveries might be made to benefit the population. This does lead to some startling behaviours in London drawing rooms that only serve to solidify his reputation.    
Unfortunately, Wyverne has an anxiety disorder that sees him freeze in these social situations, or do something entirely de rigour. Caroline Graves, formerly Caroline Ward, now the widowed Duchess of Stratton, decides to assist him. She tutors him using scientific observational cues as to how to go on, how to open and continue a conversation. In short how to be accepted by members of the ton. This is frequently amusing to witness.
Caroline, now a wealthy widow, is Michael's nemesis  of 12 years ago. Despite or because of this she decides to come to his aid.
Sadly as the story progresses we find that Caroline is courted by many and needed by none. 
At first I found the story from the viewpoint of this gay widow who fills her life with admirers and intermittent lovers somewhat unexpected. Where I wondered is the feisty, yet innocent  young heroine I'm so used to in Regency romances? At the beginning Caroline seemed shallow, brittle even. As I began to understand why Caroline chose this life, how she had come to this moment, my sympathy for her was aroused.
Caroline wants to be needed. Michael needed her. Caroline is determined to aid the Mad Duke, the same man who broke her heart so long ago. As the story continues we learn that Michael too has never stopped thinking about Caroline.
Caroline was not going to give up her independence but she would find Michael a wife.
The heiresses are trotted out, and of course either were in turn bemused by Wyverne, disappointed by him, or wanting to reform the economic aspects of his holdings. The last heiress certainly was more an economic rationalist, with her eye on how to turn his holdings into a financial success.
An additional layer to the story is how author Romain used the impact of weather conditions across the land in1816 upon the agricultural production of the time, (the year without a summer), weaving that into the cause for the plummeting fortunes of the Duke's Lancashire holdings. (See the excellent end notes) The Duke had overextended himself in his plans to recoup his finances and the sudden climate change has led to him having to look elsewhere for funds--the main elsewhere being to marry an heiress.
A different read with the interesting premise of a love lost in time being given a second chance.

 A NetGalley ARC

Sunday, May 4, 2014

...the battle continues!

Sworn To Defiance: Courtlight #5 by Terah Edun   


What a bind mage Ciardus Weathervane finds herself in. Caught as she is between two men (in more ways than one), Prince Sebastian, heir to the throne whom she loves and Thanar, a daemoni Prince whom she is attracted to. Ciardus is trying to stop a god from wreaking destruction upon her world, is caught up in the machinations of an emperor who is not all he seems, is reviled by the nobility and is trying to save her mother. All this as she is still discovering her powers. Oh, and did I mention that she tends to speak before she thinks, particularly when under stress. Not always a good thing.
The Emperor, who is not the emperor but Sebastian's uncle abiding in his father's body, is whom Sebastian and Ciardus must elicit help from to take on the coming threat of the god, the blutgott.  A god determined to obliterate Algardis. At the same time they need to keep their knowledge of the Emperor's true self hidden in the hopes that they can find Sebastian's father.
Having been attacked by the Duchess of Carne and failed in their efforts to capture her, Sebastian and Ciardus now have to work out how to win over the nobles, the companions, the false Emperor and the army to their cause.  No small thing but Ciarus and Sebastian are giving it their best shot.
There is still the small problem of Ciardus's mother being imprisoned by the Emperor.
Thanar of course features front and centre, allied with Ciardus in more ways than one. But can Ciardus trust Thanar to be more than self serving? Can she keep Thanar and Sebastian from conflict with each other?
Along the way uneasy alliances are forged and new enemies made.
I am continually amazed at how Edun holds our interest from one book to the next. The action and interplay of new diverse challenges for Ciardus and her companions doesn't flag and subsequently my interest is maintained. 
Another excellent episode in Edun's  'Courtlight' opus!

I received a review copy from the author. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

...my favourite characters return!


Lt. Daniel Leary and his RCN Sissies and accompanying satellite characters--a group that worm their way into your affections and stay there!
I just think Adele Mundy is a thoroughly interesting person, introvert and socially inept, or maybe ignorant, though she is. Given her history how can we expect anything else. She has become stronger as the series has progressed and in this book she is more central than Daniel Leary.
Her continuing reflections about her life and place in her ongoing world open her up to us even more than before. I really enjoy her interaction with and views about Miranda, Daniels fiancé.
Adele's thoughts in particular about her inevitable death, something she seems to almost welcome as a penance for those deaths she's caused that haunt her are revealing. As are the various facets of her friendship with Daniel, a friendship that has become her lifeline, her touchstone back to her humanity.
Her views about Tovera her bodyguard cum servant are intriguing, delivered as they often are in a one dimensional reflective tone. Yet Adele or 'the mistress' as the spacers call her is anything but one dimensional. She is extremely focused and highly motivated especially with anything that touches on Daniel or the work that her other employer Mistress Bernis Sand, head of Cinnibar Intelligence Service, hands her.     
It was fascinating to me when Adele, stepping outside her comfort zone does something that humans normally do, that is, wave a friend [Daniel] over, simultaneously telling Tovera that she, Tovera is a good role model. 
    'By now Tovera was better at pretending to be a normal human than her mistress was. 
     But then, Adele had never seen the point of the exercise.'
One takes a step back and has to think a bit more about who Adele is and just what is normal. The training, the humanizing of Tovera has given Adele another purpose it seems.
Tovera, sociopath, shadowy figure that she is, is also revealed a little more in this book. I loved it when, in a very rare conversation with Tovera, after nary a flicker of an eyebrow! Daniel says that he would give her a home if anything happened to Adele.
I also enjoy the interplay between Hogg and Tovera, both having similar roles, both capable of total focus and destruction. Hogg, piratical poacher that he is, is without doubt the man to have at your back in a crisis. Tovera's capability for focused destruction strikes the same cord.
Of course Daniel and Adele are up against unknown odds in this adventure. This time Adele has specific orders and interests on two fronts. Daniel is not on official Cinnibar RCN business but as per usual that seems to slide into an area of possibility.
Sand's son Rikard Cleveland has been kidnapped and Daniel and Adele are tasked to find him. Adele is also undertaking a task for Daniel's sister, Deirdre Leary. A task that touches on Daniel's well being.
Adele once more demonstrates that she is a whizz with all things regarding gathering and analyzing data.  Their relationship is now to the point where she and Daniel either think as one or Daniel stands back and allows her to make the decisions. Trust and respect between the two moves into a new dimension. The inclusive socializing of Adele continues!
We know Adele communicates more readily via an interface than in person and in many ways she is similar to Torvea in this stunted part of her growth. But like the spacers who serve with her, we accept her and champion her.
It was rather touching when Cory made sure that in the destruction of the Gulkander Palace by missiles he endeavoured to do it so that a cache of antique books Adele had found would still be available to her. Such is the regard the 'Sissies' have for Adele. She is part of their family.
We also see the healing of other characters begin to happen. A nice touch! Daniel Leary has great wisdom in his Bantry educated, Hogg assisted that it was, heart.

A NetGalley ARC