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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

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Grand Duchess takes charge!

Vicky Peterwald: Rebel (Vicky Peterwald #3) by Mike Shepherd.

I am in two minds about this spinoff from the Kris Longknife series. More a Gilbert and Sullivan space operetta than a grand space opera. In the end, I did like it.
I did find the dialogue straying perilously close to wooden, if not verging on something from a B grade detective novel. Sometimes I felt like I was reading the cartoon balloons from a Superhero graphic novel. 
Her Imperial Grace, The Grand Duchess, Lieutenant Comander Victoria of Greenfield, otherwise known as Vicky could be a carbon copy of Samantha B. (Sex in the City) in 'space.' (That is, intelligent, sexy, and marches to the beat of her own outrageous drum). That's ok 'cause our girl is growing up and coming through the spoilt princess brat stage, albeit with her own particular twists.
So there's planets to save, Admirals to jolly along, aliens threatening and bad old step-mom thinking up new and devious ways to take out Vicky. Along the way losing it spectacularly over the air waves, all as Vicky holds her course à la Kris Longknife's tried and true  tricks and examples.
And of course, we're left hanging about what comes next.
A fun read!

A NetGalley ARC

***

Sunday, May 22, 2016

... 'rest in power'!

Company Town by Madeline Ashby



Oh my! This book is so unexpected that I'm still scrambling to catch up with and relive what went down.
Hwa is an amazing character. Her strengths and weaknesses, her very humanness in a world where people embrace bio-engineering stands in sharp contrast to those around her. Her world is narrowed down to a huge oil rig in the Atlantic Ocean off the Canadian coast--a city (Company Town) owned by a huge corporation: Lynch Ltd. ... and wasn't the original US nuclear testing site a prototype of 'the Company Town' ? Ah! the nefarious doings of large corporations rears it's ugly head! 
Hired to be the bodyguard for Joel, the heir apparent and youngest of the 'family', Hwa comes face to face with truths that are disturbing. The drive and ambition of the family is both bizarre and frightening, Orwell's '1984' meets David Weber's 'Mesan Alignment' in the Harrington Books with, I don't know, perhaps some of 'The Matrix.' Let's face it Lynch Ltd. is one scary corporation, a corporation without ethics and driven by the few super people prototypes. Are they machine or human or neither? The lines certainly blur.
So you have this hive type community mind that is looking to control and tailor the responses and decisions of the heir apparent, Joel, but the non engineered Hwa, the organic is the X factor in the equation, the wild card--and therein lies her power! Her relationship with Joel is fascinating, as is that with Daniel. Who or what is Daniel? I am still trying to figure that out too.
So I loved this book and am unsure why. Maybe because that wild card kept frustrating the status quo, despite the personal tragedies that happen along the way. Hwa is a strong female lead that one can empathize with. Great character! She is in a fight for her very being, without ever realizing it.
Great stuff! 
p.s. The dedication is timely. It speaks into the void. Thank you Madeline Ashby!
A NetGalley ARC

*****

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

... re-focus and re-energize!

Daring, dashing and devious! A wonderful female hero!



Mari Lamarre's aeronautic jump from her hot air ballon falls somewhat short of her target, although others might say she was spot on! She lands on top of the drunk Lord Cosmos Dunsmore, son to the Marquess of Aldridge, in a somewhat compromising position. Off to a hilarious start this novel of spies, traitors, deceit and love has it all.

Half French Mari Lamarre is a spy tasked with searching for compromising materials known to be in the hands of the Marqess. The practice of her craft is the lure, the cover to getting herself inside the walls of the home of the Marquess. What she doesn't count on is Cosmos his rake and debauched son, her liking of the Marquess of Aldridge and deeper family tragedies concealing secrets that will both complicate and shed light on the whole taught situation. Lives are depending on her success, and as it turns out, lives that are closer to the Aldridge's than conceived. 
An unusual plot that carries the story well.
I loved Mari's enthusiasm for her parachute jumping and the introduction to a topic I know little about--parachutes! (in the Regency era! Great hook!)



Premier descent en parachute, 1797 - Gouache and watercolor. Photo Credit: Painting by Etienne Chevalier de Lorimier
from History of the Parachute by Mary Bellis

A NetGalley ARC

****

Dangerous liaisons!

Amusing romp!

A Spirited Affair by Lynn Kerstan 



Amusing romp with a icy hero hiding behind an indifferent shell and a boisterous hellion doing all she can do upset that infuriating exterior. 
I really enjoyed the interplay of characters and the tension garnered from the varying circumstances. Thwarted ward besets annoying guardian.
All Jillian Lamb wants is for her allowance to continue to make a go of her farm. It seems her unlooked for guardian the supercilious  Mark Delacourt, Earl of Coltrane has other ideas. Clash of the Titans has nothing on these two. A revealing and absolutely delightful read as feelings ramp up and attraction mounts.

A NetGalley ARC

****

... love unlooked for

Wonderful and warm!

Reissue of 'By Our Beginnings'


Ned Howarth's letter to the beautiful Miss Dorcas Wilde is wonderful. Heartfelt and hesitant it reveals his heart. After all a man can dream and a 'cat can look at a queen'. This rare look into the rural life of a farming family in the high hills of Lancashire County in the late 1700's, over thirty years, is a treat. Dorcas and her adjustment to the life and the adjustment of others to her shows Dorcas' tenacity in this life changing journey she undertakes. The inhabitants of Kits Hill are hesitant about her and no-one more so than the housekeeper, Betty Ackroyd, who until now has held a position of power.
And this is just the beginning!  The first in a quartet originally published in 1980. The passing of time has not diminished the appeal of this enjoyable story of the Howarth generations at the farm on Garth Fells.

A NetGalley ARC

****

Wagered love!

The Dastardly Duke by Eileen Putman

Thursday, May 12, 2016

... dashed hopes and daunting gossip!


A pair of stories that both start of with what seems like very shallow minded ladies as the heroines who fortunately develop into more than thought at first glance. Gossip at both the village level and within tonnish circles certainly comes to fore in some way in both novels.

Rivals of Fortune.
The story of a young woman whose marriage hopes are dashed in no uncertain terms when her childhood sweetheart goes to London Town and very quickly marries another. A quite superior and sure of herself wealthy woman. Broken hearted and convinced that this is the end of the world Joanna Rowntree is positive that she will never recover. Can she survive the village gossip surrounding her dashed hopes? As time goes on she eventually does, particularly with the advent of an attractive new neighbour,  but perhaps not so compelling as the man of style and tonnish manners, Sir Rollin Denby, the brother of her true love's wife.
Add a delightfully recalcitrant younger brother and rumours of treasure to be found on Rowntree's inherited Abbey property--a ramshackle ruin, and the story gets better further along--once all the wailing has stopped!


The Impetuous Heiress.
Lady Alicia Alston is mean sprinted and misunderstood. High in the instep and yet incapable of feelings beyond her own satisfaction. Spurned by Ian MacClain, Earl of Cairnyllan, she determines to make him suffer and leads his younger sister into a devastating situation. Not well done Alicia! It was at that moment that I did not like you and wondered how on earth your behaviour was going to be redeemed?
Fortunately Jane Ashford is able to just that. I ended up quite liking Alicia once I'd seen past her  unthinking and reprehensible behaviour towards a young woman she really had no grudge against. And yes old stories can provide new flesh for gossips! Certainly the resolution to the challenges we are presented with are convincing.

A NetGalley ARC

***

Perfectly and weirdly wonderful!

Britt-Marie Was Here: A Novel by Fredrik Backman

*****

Friday, May 6, 2016

A delightful fairy floss romp!



Lady Alexander Hobbs (Alex) in  fell in love with Lord Monroe when she was fifteen, just after she'd written her list of the things she wished to accomplish in her life.

'1. Become brave and daring like Thomas.
2. Become beautiful, willowy and poised like Lavina. Never stain my gowns with food, et cetera.
3. Have a come-out during which an exceedingly eligible gentleman asks me to dance, thereby making the affair a smashing success.
4. Marry my true love. Must be handsome, dashing, witty, kind and honrable. Name to be determined later.
            Lord Owen Munroe.'

Now three years later at the ripe old age of 18 with her list not even begun, she's discovered that her father and Owen's have decided her true love, Lord Owen, is to marry her older sister, the perfect (and horribly spoilt) Lavina.
And that's when Alex decides to fight for her one true love, who has very little idea of her existence.
Enter stage right those three (now) grand ladies aka the Playful Brides' Lucy, Cassandra and Jane, (who cut a swathe through society with their high jinks as they pursued their true own true loves), and the situation becomes even more fraught. With Alex's natural inventiveness and these ladies' intervention things are far from dull, if not downright muddled.
Sister Lavina is so wonderfully and truly terrible that she's almost unbelievable. Will she ever change? Talk about the ugly older sister with a facade beautiful hiding inner demons! I don't see how, but perhaps Bowman might be able to bring about a miracle if ever she decides to write Lavina's story. Personally I think she should disappear into the mists of time.
Lots of wonderful stuff and nonsense dot the landscape of this true love's tale.  A super read to while away an afternoon with.

A NetGalley ARC

****

Love at first sight!

Alpha Wolf Need Not Apply (Silver Town Wolf) (Heart of the Wolf #19) by Terry Spear



Great story of love and endurance alpha wolf style. This story is woven around alpha wolf Eric Silver and an unknown pack leader, alpha female, Pepper Grayling.
The Grayling pack is a surprise to Eric and the rest of Silver Town. He only became aware of it when he rescued an injured member, Susan, carried her back to her pack's home, and is completely smitten by one of the women playing around in a rock pool. In his mind he fancies her a goddess. That goddess is Pepper Grayling who has no intention of mating with anyone. There are too many traps in that path. Her pack could suffer too much.
What with a group of unknown wolves planting marijuana crops in the park; a nasty character, Waldron, leader of another mystery pack forcing his attentions on Pepper; a bit of arson and other high jinks, things are mighty hectic around Silver Town.
The dance between Pepper and Eric is subtle yet explosive and only time will tell if Eric can woo Pepper and put her fears to rest, at the same time keeping her safe!

A NetGalley ARC

****

Monday, May 2, 2016

Intrigue, murder and the mystical!



I must admit to confusion as I first entered the Aelf Fens world, but no more than that of the inhabitants of 11th century Cambridge.
It seems a mythical figure had arisen from the dark past and this figure of horror is randomly gouging out the throats of its victims. There appears no rhyme or reason to the deaths, except perhaps the waterfront.
Lassair and Jack 
Chevestrier are thrown together (the quiet, effecient and handsome lawman  and the winsome healer apprentice who is more than she seems) as the situation escalates, both politically, and as reflected in the panic of Cambridge's inhabitants.
Together they unlock the mystery, discover the looting perfidy of the sheriff's grasping nephew and find the terrible answers to the ravaged bodies, not without cost to them both. The 
nature of Gurdyman and Lassaire's mentor-mentored relationship, and the mystical works that stretches beyond the healing calling risk exposure and darker related secrets emerge.

As one part of the story finds resolution we are left wondering about Jack and Lassaire, and Lassaire's former lover and king's spy, the still much loved Rolen.
Clare's portrayal of this time has you present and aware.
I really must read the next in the series!

A NetGalley ARC

****