Saturday, June 17, 2017

June Re-Readathon

I have a favorite  historical fiction romance novel that I end up going back to read over and over again.   Moonlight Mistress by Patricia Rice was published in 1999.  I came across it at a used bookstore and have now read it more times than I can count.  Set in the time of Henry II of England when England is still recovering from King Stephen and the chaos of the Robber Barons under his rule. 
Image result for moonlight mistress by patricia riceAelvina Fairfax is a peasant who has been thrust into a desperate situation that has forced her to seek assistance from Lady Ravenna, a reclusive widow.  Taking matters into her own hands Aelvina approached Sir Philippe St. Aubyn for protection against becoming indebted to Lady Ravenna.  Bargaining her maidenhead and loyalty to one man is better than being offered to many under Lady Ravenna's rule.

A soldier under King Henry II's command, Sir Philippe has been sent to take possession in the name of the king the widowed Lady Ravenna's holdings.  When he is approached by a fair-haired beauty for protection, he can't help but be tempted by her bargain.  Little did either of them know that the Lady Ravenna had her own plans for them.  Philippe and Aelvina must navigate lies, secrets, hatred, the dark arts, and King Henry II to find their happy ending. 

I really love this novel.  It's the only one of Patricia Rice's novels that I've read, but it's wonderful.  The turmoil between this couple is amazing.  I love the details of each person and their EXTREMELY rocky relationship just keeps drawing me back.  I wish it was available as a downloadable book, but not so far.  I did email the author a couple of years ago to ask about that possibility and she said there was some hope, her materials were being purchased by a new publisher and were starting to be moved to digital.  Here's hoping!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Review: Back Of Beyond

Back Of Beyond Back Of Beyond by C.J. Box
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have started listening to audiobooks in the car since my job involves a lot more driving then it used too. Since then I've been able to seriously cut down my reading list, but there are some draw backs to listening to books. The readers have to have a good voice and be able to portray the different characters well. This can sometimes be hard to find, for instance I can't listen to the readers of the Game of Thrones novels AT ALL. Also, stopping and starting a book so often when you are in and out of the car a lot can be disconcerting as well.

Back of Beyond was an excellent listen. C.J. Box gives readers enough intrigue into situations that you leave each time with skeptical indecision as to whether you liked what just happened or not but just enough to interest you as soon as you return to it. Cody Hoyt is such a love/hate kind of character. He has some strong character flaws that could easily become annoying but enough is happening around him that it doesn't impact reader interest. When a friend of his is killed, whether by accident or murder, he reacts badly to say the least. Then when very slim chances evidence point in the direction to where his son is spending part of his summer, Hoyt overreacts and dramatically, illegally leaves town and throws around his 'cop' status to get people to help him even though he's been suspended and no longer has a badge.

Justin Hoyt and sisters Danielle and Gracie, who are on another part of this story are a wonderful addition to this story. What's happening on their adventure meshes with what's happening to Cody in a great way that is unexpected to all characters. I really loved how everything came together, but some of it was sort of the expected, convenience that would get Cody Hoyt out of as much trouble as he should have been in.

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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Review: Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Have you ever picked up a book to read because you really liked the movie?  It’s become common for books to be made into movies and in many cases no one bothers to read the book before they see the movie.  What people forget is that the book has so many more details, descriptions, and activity than can be fit into an hour and a half long movie.  Often the movies are really well done interpretations of the books, but that doesn’t mean that the book isn’t still much better.

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz was turned into a movie in 2013.  It was a pretty good movie starring Anton Yelchin and William Defoe.  Odd Thomas is a young man from a small town in California named Pico Mundo.  Yes, his name is actually Odd, that’s not a typo.  He is rightly named because he was born with supernatural abilities, one of which is seeing ghosts.  Although ghosts don’t talk, Odd can see them and many times they seek him out for justice.  When they touch him they feel like normal people and can sometimes show him the tragedy that ended their lives.  Conveniently, Odd has a great relationship with the local sheriff, who knows his secret, and with whom he helps seek justice for the ghosts he sees.  

Beyond seeing ghosts, Odd has a few other abilities that are harder to describe but involve being able to ‘psychically’ find people he’s looking for as well as sometimes having prophetic dreams.  Other than this, he’s a normal twenty-year old fry cook at the Pico Mundo Grill.  Although he tries to live a simple life by working, helping out when necessary and enjoying his life, he is continually drawn into situations, some of which readers hear about and some we see.  Today, Odd wakes from a disturbing dream that he tries to brush off only to find himself faced with a supernatural situation.  Nothing about what he’s experiencing makes any sense but he can ‘feel’ it leading to some terrible, disastrous end.  He is forced to follow clues and puzzle together what is happening in his small town and, hopefully, save the day. Odd Thomas is the beginning of a series of books that follow the life of, obviously, Odd Thomas.  He finds himself drawn into new situations as each book progresses, until he comes full circle.

If you enjoy mysteries, paranormal reads or are just a Dean Koontz fan you will really like this series.  Following Odd Thomas through the twists and turns of his life and experiencing this mysterious web of sinister plots was really fun.  Although seeing the movie first does take away from some of the ‘who-dun-it’ mystery, there is so much not included in the movie that it was still really worth it.  Continuing to read the rest of the series was enthralling as Odd meets some great characters and gets himself enmeshed in some really interesting situations.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Review: The Mountain King by Emma Alisyn

The Mountain King The Mountain King by Emma Alisyn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been working with coworkers recently on some steampunk themed events and I have a big passion for dragons, so seeing this cover was really intriguing! I figured what could go wrong with steampunk and dragons, then to read the synopsis and find out it's also an apocalyptic, paranormal, kick-ass heroine novel. Score!

Kailigh has been living and raising her three girls in the Outlands successfully since she kicked her no-good husband to the curb. She's done what most women and many men for that matter couldn't, survive and thrive on her own raising three strong daughters that know how to shot, kill and stand strong when needed. But now that flesh traffickers have their sights set on her family and her daughter's been shot, she needs help. In this town that means Dragon Lord Maddugh, King of Coal and Mountain.

Maddugh can't believe that Kailigh has lived in his town and he and the Dwrkin never recognized her for what she was. A mixed blood Fae/Dwrkin and hope for their species. No Dwrkin females live in this world since the portals closed, now Maddugh has a chance to negotiate with Kailigh for the endangered life of her daughter. Save her daughters life for a commitment of marriage and children from at least two her daughters and herself? That's not too much to ask, especially when he wants Kailigh for himself.

This is a great combination of steampunk technology in an apocalyptic world and shape-shifting dragons (Dwrkin). I'm really looking forward to book two in this series!

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Author Recommendation: Elizabeth Vaughn

I read so much and sometimes, so quickly, that I'm always on the look out for the latest, greatest read.  My turnover rate of book over the past 15 years is REALLY high.  Not that this is a bad thing.  But what can be bad about it is that I forget how much I like series and authors that I've moved on from.  While recently scanning shelves at a local used book store I came across an author that I had read in a while.  She had multiple series that I loved and had completely forgotten about.

Elizabeth Vaughn
Image result for elizabeth vaughn coversImage result for elizabeth vaughn covers   Image result for elizabeth vaughn covers Image result for elizabeth vaughn covers 

Her original series started as a trilogy.  Warprize, Warsworn and Warlord followed the story of Lara and Keir. She is the Princess of Xy and he is the invading Firelander Warlord.  In their terms of surrender, Lara's father agrees to trade Lara as the Warprize to Warlord Keir.  Lara struggles to accept her new status in life, especially because she has no idea what it even means to these Firelanders.  Keir is forced to face change and strife when he claims a Warprize, something not done by his people unless their are dramatic changes coming to his people.  This trilogy was awesome from start to finish.

The next series was also a trilogy, Dagger-Star, White Star and Destiny's Star.  A story from a neighboring land to Keir and Lara's story.  Another excellent trilogy but this time it follows three different couples in each story instead of one couple through their three-part journey.

It wasn't til years later that I found out that there was a fourth novel to the Warprize trilogy, Warcry, which follows the story of some of the characters with the Warprize stories.  And now, another one is about to be released, Wardance.  The fifth story also made be aware that this series is now called the Chronicles of Warlands series, I always called it the Warprize trilogy. Elizabeth Vaughn does an excellent job of building these worlds and they are well worth the read and eventual re-read that I tend to give good books.  I discover new things every time I pick them up again!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Review: Alien Mate by Cara Bristol

Alien Mate Alien Mate by Cara Bristol
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An epic start to what I hope is a new series! Cara Bristol does an amazing job of telling this alien romance story. Although the premise is very common right now in romance novels, the uniqueness of the alien appearance and their planet's story is really good. After a major asteroid/comet strike completely destroys their way of life, the Dakonians have learned to survive but their female population never recovered and they need mates! Earth is willing to trade since they need the completely useless to Dakonian rocks that can be used as power sources.

This test group of fifty women to arrive as 'mail-order brides' will hopefully be just the beginning. What they don't know is that these women a female Earth criminals given a chance to expunge their sentence for a life on a new planet. Starr Conner is among these women, sentenced falsely of second degree murder and shipping unwillingly with the carefully selected first group of women. She looks nothing like anyone else sent to Dakon, she's short and blonde when everyone else is tall, strong and brunette. Her appearance makes her the last pick as a mate for a Dakonian. Can she find happiness with her new mate when her very appearance is off-putting? Torg is so happy to have a mate but admittedly wouldn't have picked Starr is he'd been on time to the selection process. Torg and Starr must face new lives together, deal with jealous native Dakonian women and Starr's past, which follows her all the way to this new planet.

This novel was well written, entertaining and, with luck, the start to a new series. I really hope more stories are told about this world. Starr and the other women have a huge impact on this planet as they become settled into their lives and start to plot to protect Dakon from the future potential greed of Earth. As we all know, Earth doesn't have the best history of not crushing those perceived as lesser when they want something and their demand for this new power source will only increase.

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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Review: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I 'read' the audiobook version of this book and am glad that I decided to do it this way. This was an excellent read that makes readers really think about the world around them and how their decisions can affect more than just themselves. There is so much information in here that is just really interesting...the enzymes needed to digest milk, turkey mating habits, what vegetables and plants grow when and how to harvest just about everything!

It also sort of blew my mind! I went to the grocery store after about a week of listening to this book during my weekly drives to and from work, running errands, etc. I had to literally leave the produce section without getting anything because I had new eyes about the produce sitting on the shelves. Happily I also started reading this book around the start of Farmer's Markets starting again and this helped me make my next forage into the grocery store produce section. I now take my time reading labels much more than I did before.

I had never thought about the fuel impact on bringing produce from around the world into markets everywhere. I now will. This is an eye opening book that has changed the way that I think about things. Although, there's no way I am willing to change everything based on what I learned from this book (I don't think I can give up bananas, for example), it made me more aware of my shopping decisions. Is online shopping really cheaper for example? For the individual shopper maybe but what about all the added fuel costs for delivery? I can sum up reading this book in three words:

Wow, mind blown!

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