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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, November 15, 2016

Fantastic visual journey!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A complex and dark Japanese medieval mystery.

Dead Blossoms: The Third Geisha by Richard Monaco





1552. Three shipwreck survivors wash up on the Japanese shoreline and are immediately embroiled in a struggle for lordship and supremacy amongst the Japanese clans.
Jiro Tazeko, a  classless samurai detective finds himself embroiled in the same unrest.
The daughter of a lord's house has been murdered. One of the foreigners has been accused. However, Tazeko discovers some very odd facts, including the suspicion that the dead girl is not the Lady Osan.
As plots are overlayed by more plots the end spirals out of control. All is revealed as this feudal world explodes in a fiery ball and then is reignited by a typhoon.
Who wins is moot. What is left is ash and wind.
I do like Tazeko, the hard boiled, hard drinking,16th Century Sam Spade type character.

A NetGalley ARC

*** 1/2

A reclusive Earl and a kidnapped debutante.

Abandonment, spies and romance--a different take!

Tempting the Earl (The Muses' Salon #3) by Rachael Miles

So how should you react when your father's drugged you, kidnapped you and then presented you with a bride as a fait acompy. If your Harrison Walgrave, the Earl of Levesford, you acquiesce, bed your bride and then flee to London and points abroad as an important secret agent for the English government.
The left behind bride, Olivia Walgrave, is a woman of determination and strength--and an agent for the government. I Really liked Olivia.  She was a fighter and survivor. Coming from an unsure childhood her fate could have been quite different if not for Lord Roderick's (Waverley's father) rescue of her, and subsequent placing of her in Mrs Flints school--a place where apparently young girls are educated and turned out as agents for the crown.
Olivia has spent her years since being abandoned by Harrison yet determined to keep the estate in good order. She has also gathered together a little family of mistreated people employed as servants, and a gaggle of scholars--seven really. After twelve years of not sighting her husband, Olivia has decided to have her marriage to Harrison overturned. Harrison decides to investigate the situation in person, setting his solicitor to make enquiries on several different fronts.
Over the years Olivia has continued her work for the government as a writer exposing issues that need addressing and thereby soliciting insider information and pinpointing leaks or dangerous subversives. There's a mysterious list that she and Harrison are separately working on that completely baffled me.
Here's where it all becomes complex, with one strand of the mystery dogging the other and tripping across the basic lines. Somewhat confusing to me, newly come to the series.
There's threats and more to both Livy and Harrison.
I must admit to being somewhat cross with Harrison from time to time. For the best spy in town he's certainly obtuse and laxadaisical when it comes to his own affairs.
I loved the Seven--the scholars. More like a bunch of puppies than people. Although one surprises!
Now I need to read the others in the series to see what light, if any, can be thrown on what I don't understand.
Still, a refreshing approach to the whole regency romance spy genre. Interestingly, this whole spy school for young ladies oeuvre is becoming quite the thing in all sorts of historical genres I've been lately reading.

A NetGalley ARC 

***1/2

Hunting lodges and fleeing ladies!


So what do you do when your parents have inveigled you into an engagement that you don't want, but that gives them no end of pleasure and lofty feelings of having done well? After all their daughter has landed Lord Brantford, the catch of the season, and a close companion of the Prince Regent. Lady Sarah Highgate, feeling the walls closing in, ran away to Scotland of course! Although it didn't help that she ended up in the wrong place in the middle of a snow storm knitting doggie capes and fending off apparent would be mayrauders with a sword she could  hardly lift. (I must admit to falling in love with Sarah in the hunting lodge stage!)
And if your the owner of a hunting lodge that you've repaired to looking for a time of respite aware from the rapacious members of the ton, you don't expect to find a 'would be goldilocks' sleeping in your bed.
What starts out as a mistaken encounter, endures into friendship that seems to never be able to become any more than that, due to the dratted fiancée and the parental pressure.
Still when Lucy Hunt, the Duchess of Claringdon, decides to help her dearest friend Christian Forester, Viscount Berkeley,  and her new friend Sarah Highgate find true love--well all bets are off, even if the eleventh hour is nigh upon them. Another rollicking bit of fun from the Playful Brides series.

A NetGalley ARC 

****

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Coming soon!








An illuminating Christmas mystery!



On the surface of this Christmas mystery, Victor Narraway and his wife Lady Vespasia (two of my favourite Perry characters) travel to Jerusalem for Christmas. En route, at their hotel in Jaffa, they run across an interesting older gentleman who hands them a parchment to deliver in Jerusalem just before he is killed by a mysterious figure "The Watcher". The story morphs into a Dali like journey of deserts and death, faith defined and refined, and deepening spiritual mysteries.
Following the theme of the wise men seeking truth and wonderment as they track the star that lead them to Bethlehem, Narraway and Vespasia embark on a similar journey, followed by the dark watcher. Along the way they are joined by another.
Three pieces of parchment, and the truth for all mankind, are part of this journey.
Narraway and Vespasia are confronted by their own beliefs and the gradual refining of them.
A simple story of intrigue that cloaks hidden inner meanings of the mystical and faith surrounding the Christmas message and all that followed.
A very different story from what I expected, challenging and thought provoking, reflecting much of Perry's own faith base.
The title sums up the depth and breadth of what this story contains. I found it a fascinating treatise on the Christian message.
I was struck that it is Narraway, ex head of Special Branch and Lady Vespasia, a force in her own right, both mature people, with years of the ability and shrewdness, including being able to mark the difference between the false and the genuine, who are the chosen to encounter this very different journey.
Who is the watcher, what is the stick he carries, seemingly he's supernatural at times and yet able to be injured. What is he watching for? 
A mystery on many levels with faint echoes of Dan Brown.
I found this story stuck with me long after reading.

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Glued to the page! Again!


Once more I was absorbed by this next in the Elantra Chronicles. Once again, where Private Kaylin Neda is trouble surely follows--or precedes, it's a moot point and a truism! 
This time we see more of the Aerians and Sergeant Moran dar Carafel in particular. The injured Moran is now residing with Kaylin, along with the rescued Barranis and the dragon Bellusdeo. When Moran is attacked, Kaylin comes in for some shocks.
Shadow makes its appearance once again, and it's form appears changed. 
The two Bararranis residing with Kaylin (one, Annarion is Nightshade's brother) are still coming to terms with coming into the now from their entrapped state.
Bellusdeo is the same feisty female dragon.
Kaylin is her wild and wonderful caring self who rushes in where others fear to tread. In Cast in Flight her thoughts and awe of the Aerians takes a different turn. Alongside Kaylin, we learn more about them.
The complicated relationships and cultural behaviours and norms amongst the varying races that inhabit Elantra keep me coming back for more, along with the fabulous character that is Kaylin.
Sagara keeps injecting a wonderful humanity into Kaylin that's captivating in its simplicity and complexity at the same time. The cross cultural attempts of understanding that Kaylin always come up against, the fact that similarities don't always equate with understandings is fascinating. As is the fact that mostly the various races, or at least their leaders, forgive Kaylin because they know her heart always wants to believe the best, and because of the great service she has so often given them. Kaylin is after all imbued with magic symbols on her arms that has some suspicious of her, and others grateful. After all, Kaylin is the Chosen. And she's still coming to terms with what that means.
Kaylin's relationship with Nightshade is always present like his sigil on her cheek. Although Nightshade is somewhat in the background here, occupied as he is with the return of his brother Annarion.
We do see a little more of the Dragon Emperor. His relationship with Bellusdeo is becoming more complicated--at least for me.
Severn is as always, quietly by Kaylin's side. Steady, dependable and to my mind, mysterious.
Once again Sagara's philosophizing via Kaylin is striking. 
Another not to be missed addition to Sagara's engaging world.

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Tortured trust and love!



Arend Aubury as the emotionally fractured Frenchman, gorgeous to behold and trusting no-one is a wonderful hero. Lady Isobel Thompson as the step daughter of the despicable Victoria is a beauty inside and out.
Of course the page sizzles whenever they meet and that sizzling increases in fervour as time goes on. (Almost too much sizzle and not enough story.) Isobel's vengeful stepmother Victoria appears to be trying to engineer an engagement between Isobel and Arente. They enter into a mock engagement in an attempt to entrap Victoria. 
For those who don't know, Victoria has been systematically trying to destroy the members of the Libertine Scholars to pay for their father's dreadful sins against her (and given the extent of their depravities one can see why she is so gripped with the need for retribution).
The point is that none of the Libertines have been like their fathers. In fact their fathers disgusted them. But Victoria must take her vengeance somewhere. Isobel has become a weapon Victoria will use against Arente. 
The Scholars are highly sceptical about Isobel. Is she a willing pawn of Victoria's? Their wives are more generous.
Arente is tortured by his own secrets about his life prior to returning to England, a wealthy man. Unlike when he left. Those secrets, or rather shames, have left him unable to trust or want to trust women. Isobel must fight almost unto death and then some to unearth that trust. Can she however help him to come to terms with his past? I must admit at times I found Arente a little too tortured and his inability to fully trust Isobel a little to drawn. A little to unforgiving of himself and others. But then maybe that's the point of self loathing as he displays it.
This addition to the Libertine Scholars annals rounds off the series, although there will apparently be two more novels featuring other characters that have emerged over time.

A NetGalley ARC

***