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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, April 27, 2016

Magical treachery and dangerous territory!



Lila Merriweather, ex thief and seeker of secrets, is in for the fight of her life. 
Lila had been on the streets of Cloudburst Falls until becoming part of the Sinclair Family with more than a proprietal interest in Devon Sinclair.
Now it seems 
Victor Draconi, diabolical pathological head of the Draconi Family, has decided that it's time for him to submerge the other Families of Cloudburst Falls into his organization. A little death, or many deaths is not going to bother him. He has been storing up black blades, magical swords made from blood iron, that will rip the magic out of whomever or whatever they impale. That will get the job done and make Victor's takeover so much sweeter--for him.
The story opens with Lila, Felix and Devon sneaking into the Draconi family compound to take those weapons and substitute them for something a little less lethal. 
The opening line grabbed me and the story didn't let me go until the very end.
The different types of magic are fascinating. Lila has 'soulsight' and 'transference'. Both very powerful.
I was struck by Lila's small rituals she used when encountering monsters and on entering the lochness monster's space under the bridge she repeated the necessary toll. I loved that there seems to be some sort of relationship developing here between Lila and the lochness monster. A tender moment of hope really.
Seleste  Draconi does say to Lila, 'Monsters are your friends. Never forget that.'
Lila has learned from her Mom to pay their tolls. She always does--and that care for the rituals of magic will prove to be a boon in more ways than one.
Magics battle it out in 'Bright Blade' and Lila comes into a new realm of being. Very satisfying!

A NetGalley ARC

****

Fascinating!



I was fortunate to be in Quebec City just after reading 'Promised to the Crown.' A look at the Ursuline museum and other places that depict the French arrival in this part of the world certainly added gravitas and depth to Runyan's fictional account of those early days of the colony.
The filles du roi, or “King’s Daughters”, were young women who in 1667 answered the King's call to leave France for the new world of the northern american continent in Quebec. They were to become brides of the colonists, helping to populate the land and turn an outpost into a thriving colony. The king provided a dowry for the brides. The brides were housed with the Ursuline order until their marriage. (I found the courting afternoon teas under the eyes of the nuns interesting. It is a picture of controlled getting to know you. And how were the young women able to verify the conditions they might be going into was a big question for me? If a settler was outside the city who knew the condition of his living quarters? This was a huge gamble for some of these women--although in the days of arranged marriages perhaps not as big as I think).
For some of the women it was a chance to escape their current situation, for others a chance to start afresh. For whatever the reason, it was not an easy task. Experiencing the bitter winters, the loneliness of a frontier place, the increased threat of illness; the brides were either brave or women with nothing to lose, or perhaps a bit of both.
This is the interwoven story of three such women, Elisabeth, Nicole and Rose. Three women from very different backgrounds who become fast friends. Their journeys reflect the aspirations and sometimes desperation of the young women who took up the challenge. And the challenges are many! The friendships forged by these women on the journey would come to stand them in good stead.
A fascinating look into the French past of Canada. The characters are believable and Runyan has woven a compelling story around each of these women's lives and their intersection. 

A NetGalley ARC

****

Confusion reigns!



By Cheryl Bolen.

Lady Sophia Beresford knew she shouldn't have given into Lord Finkel's blackmailing tactics and married him even if it is to save the reputation of her sister. Fleeing her bridegroom prior to consummation of her wedding vows Sophia falls in with William Birmingham. Sophia mistakes him for a criminal. Birmingham, one of England's wealthiest men mistakes Sophia for a mysterious courier Isadora. That's fine with Sophia as she needs somewhere to hide out from the disgusting Finkel until she can sort her situation out. It seems that Birmingham is not adverse to helping her in the sorting out part. How is Sophia to become unmarried, help Birmingham with his quest to take possession of a gold shipment, rid herself of Finkel and not betray her feelings for Birmingham to him?
An Interesting storyline with just the right amount of humour and tension.

A NetGalley ARC

****

Heartwarming!

Her Every Wish (The Worth Saga) by Courtney Milan

Gripping!

Soldier (The Talon Saga #3) by Julie Kagaw


Kagawa just doesn't let up the pressure!
Once more I was on the edge of my seat consumed by events that befall Garret, Ember and Riley.
Privy to a new set of factors that sets the the cat among the pigeons, or perhaps the dragons amongst the St Georgians, a new truth of betrayal leaves all reeling.
Garret, Riley and Ember must look for answers in the depths of Talon's ultimate hoard of treasure and then confront the very heirachy of the order of St George. 
Add to this an older and wiser Eastern dragon, Jade, and the revelation of shocking task that Dante has been set by Talon, and this is once again a whirlwind ride. And yes a few tears flowed.
Ember becomes more in tune and more confused as her dragon side and human side intersect. Her feelings for both Garret and Riley or rather Cobalt are in a state of tension.

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

... a delightful fantasy with a goodly dose of the macabre!

Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan. Illustrated by Ben Hibon.



A macabre fantasy that has it all. A peasant enslaved becomes a hero, a Princess becomes a queen before her time, along with murder, ghosts, and zombies.
But then the action takes place at Castle Gloom in the Kingdom of Gehenna. A dark secret entity is gathering together an army of the undead to conquer all.
This is really enjoyable.
Thorn is the pigheaded forester's son who has his own special abilities, a peasant's common sense (sometimes) and who ends up on a fantastical journey--after having been bought from the slavers by Ghenna's executioner, Tyburn.
Lilth Shadow became the ruler of Gehenna when her family (parents and brother) was attacked and killed in the forest when returning from a state visit to a neighbouring kingdom--Lumina. 
Then there is K'leef, a captured Prince, held hostage by Duke Raphael Solar, the enemies of the Gehenna for eons. Lily's parents' royal visit had been to arrange for Lily is to marry the Duke's   son Gabriel, to bring peace between the two kingdoms. Did I mention that Lily cannot stand Gabriel?
It seems like Lily might have a little of the family's necromancer magic--a dangerous thing as women with that sort of magic are killed in Geheena.
A host of other interesting characters support the cast--along with Hades! I love Thorn's way with difficult animals, and other monstrous type mammals. In fact the pure delight of Hades and Thorn together is beautifully penned.
Tightly written, with plenty of action, and a nicely woven plot, the story races along with no being bogged down (unless you're reliving a dying maid's last moments!) 
Recommended for Grade 4 and up, however a good book is valued by any age group, and as an adult I certainly enjoyed reading this

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Thursday, April 7, 2016

A lively and short prequel

the Duke carries the day



What I found most fascinating about this story was the practice of psychiatrists of the time committing to asylums those whose family's wanted them out of the way. Great research by Manda Collins, and pulling this in as the raison d'être gives an excellent hook for the plot. For me the actual execution just didn't live up to that premise.
I liked Ophelia, I liked Trent and yet for some reason their story didn't come together with the verve it should have. I wasn't grabbed by it. I truly wanted to be. 
There just didn't seem to be the electricity between Ophelia and Trent that I expected.
There were disconnections. And yet as I rerun the plot in my mind it had it all. Super plot, feisty heroine, hunky Duke, wonderful friends, villains, annoying mother and loving father à la Jane Austen. The dots just weren't joined with enough oomph.
However it was an enjoyable light read and I do feel I want to read the rest of the series at some stage. With the larger picture in hand I may view things differently.
I must admit the title still has me puzzled, but then Trent did wear black and he is a very good man.

A NetGalley ARC

***

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Riveting!


Well, well, well! What an interesting method to look more closely at Holmes than via Mrs Hudson. A Mrs Hudson we don't know but who in this portrait opens up to be more than the shadow puppet we know whose occasionally exasperated by Sherlocke and yet looks after him so thoroughly. Wonderfully executed and so exciting.
Oh my, the further I read the more fascinating the 'who' of Mrs Hudson becomes.  Mrs Hudson and her relationship with Holmes is so deftly woven into the current moment ... or maybe it's Holmes relationship with Mrs Hudson.
And Mary manages to get caught in between in the old history to do with Mrs Hudson--her past that comes a-callin'. That past is taken up, explained and re-examined. We see Mrs Hudson as a child and her relationship with her sister--who's a nasty piece of work, spoilt, self-centred and vindictive. Maybe narcissistic? And Mrs Hudson's father is an absolute fright, dragging Mrs Hudson into all sorts of illicit activities.
Death, deceit, dangerous criminal elements and vengeance all have their  part to play.
So unusual, I absolutely loved it.

A NetGalley ARC

*****

... needs must when all else fails

Luck Is No Lady (Fallen Ladies #1) by Amy Sandas



Emma Chadwick dealt with most things calmly. So when she is kissed by a stranger at a ball in a small side room she's taken refuge in, she takes that in her stride too--well almost! Emma has taken all of the family assets to give her sisters a chance at a season and an opportunity to enter into a good marriage. Unfortunately, the venture is more expensive than she thought and then there's the added worry of her father's mysterious gambling debts having caught up with them. Emma has to take a job. When she applies for a position as a bookkeeper, she little realizes that she is walking into one of London's most notorious gambling establishments and that the owner is one Roderick Bentley, the stranger she kissed. Emma's mathematical skills ensures her the job, her attraction for the club's owner just might secure her heart. But then there's the problem of being pursued by the man who is owed money, the necessity to keep Emma's secret job from the scandalous eyes of the ton, and to keep her attraction for Roderick under control. A somewhat familiar plot but well executed. 

A NetGalley ARC

***1/2

Truly inspiring!

A beautiful story that takes the Book of Exodus and gives it a human face. Not just that, but we see the experience from the viewpoint of the Egyptian young woman Kiya. Kiya's life has changed when her father's business fails and she is sold into slavery to allow her mother and much beloved brother to go free. Her life goes literally from great riches to the depths of agony and despair. As a slave she comes into contact with a young Hebrew woman, Shira.
This is at a time just before the Exodus out of Egypt begins. 
The failing of Kiya's gods in the face of Yahweh and then the flight from Egypt and the challenges of journey in the wilderness is fascinating. The picture painted of the plagues that beset Egypt are vividly painted and entirely believable. As Kiya's whole belief system is being destroyed, the story argues for the 'stranger within the gate' concept when Shira aka Kirya, her mother and her brother to join her family on the night of the last most devastating judgement on the Egypt. The novel brings to reality the experience of the various plagues visited upon Egypt--exposing to Aliya, in visitation by visitation the powerlessness of the various Egyptian gods in the face of Yahweh.
What comes through is the freedom to choose, the love and grace of Yahweh, and Yahweh's awesomeness.
The enormity of the trek from one group of exiles perspective unfolds brilliantly, and the extent of Yahweh's grace is masterfully portrayed.

A NetGalley ARC

*****

The saga continues to engage!

Another stellar addition!

 

The depth of the Foreigner series continues to amaze. 
Bren's life just becomes more difficult as its realized that a ship of the Kyo is heading towards the atevi world.
Meanwhile the human station occupants--the Mospheirans and The Reunioners are in conflict with each other. Turmoil is rife at a very dangerous time with the Kyo drawing near. The Mosheirans have taken over the human side of the station. They want to react to the Kyo's presence one way. Bren and the atevi, another. Once more Bren, the Dowager, Tabini's young son, Cajeiri, and his on station friends, and of course Jase, are in the thick of things--to save their planet.
One good thing is that Dr. Virginia Kroger has been sent by the Mospheirans to take charge of the human side of the station.
The ongoing and overarching theme of communication with others like you and unlike you holds sway--as it has down through all the series.The gaps and holes and preconceptions we bring to a problem between differing cultures is explored and given teeth.
I can't say enough good things about this new episode. I loved it!

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Marry for money or marry for love--what to do?

Foxing the Geese: A Regency Romance by Janet Wood


Spinster, Vivienne Fox had no expectations, until a cousin died and left her his fortune.
Impoverished Earl, Alex LeSayres needed to marry money to save the family's lands.
'Vivienne Fox had decided not to marry.' She hated being trotted out by her Aunt Edwina, coiffured within an inch of her life to impress a motley group of local swains and hopefuls, all because she now had money. Vivienne definitely did not want 'to gain the attention of a pack of brainless, chinless ... braying fools!'
A challenge for both Vivienne and Alex. Of course there's confusion as Vivienne hides the fact she's wealthy. She wants to marry for love. Meanwhile Alex knows he must save his family by seeking out a wealthy wife. The relations between the two become more tortured and confused as the two run in counterpoint to each other
Then there's Vivienne's fairy godfather who interferes in all sorts of subtle ways.
I liked the two main characters and couldn't stand some of the secondary ones like Vivienne's cousin and aunt, which of course is the plot's purpose.
An enjoyable Regency read.

A NetGalley ARC

****

... a fascinating and magical world

Talon (The Astor Chronicles #1)  by Amanda Greenslade