Sunday, March 29, 2015

Review: Death of a Liar by M.C. Beaton

Death of a Liar (Hamish Macbeth, Book #31)
by M.C. Beaton
Release Date: February 3rd, 2015
2015 Grand Central Publishing
Ebook Edition; 272 Pages
ISBN: 978-1455504787
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Cozy
Source: Review copy from publisher

2 / 5 Stars

Sergeant Hamish Macbeth is alarmed to receive a report from a woman in the small village of Cronish in the Scottish Highlands. She has been brutally attacked and the criminal is on the loose. But upon further investigation, Hamish discovers that she was lying about the crime. So when the same woman calls him back about an intruder, he simply marvels at her compulsion to lie. This time, though, she is telling the truth. Her body is found in her home and Hamish must sort through all of her lies to solve the crime.

My Thoughts
Death of a Liar is the next book in a long-running series of books featuring Hamish Macbeth.  I don't really think it's necessary to read the books in order to get a sense of the series, only to flesh out some of the recurring characters who appear in the books from time to time and what happened between them and Hamish in the past so as to understand the tension / relationship in today's terms.  And while I sort of enjoyed the mystery aspect to this novel, I did not enjoy the main character at all; to be honest, I found him to be quite annoying and disrespectful towards others.

As far as the plot went, it was okay.  There were no great plot twists or turns that stunned the reader into insensibility, but it was interesting and as usual, I liked the quirkiness of the characters that you got to meet along the way: there was Anka, the baker; Dick, the lovable policeman; Samantha, the fox lady, and so on.  I really liked these characters and hope they stay on for further books.  Introducing Samantha raised the fox / hunting issue in the Highlands and it was nice to see some others themes / awarenesses brought into these books; it gives you more a sense of the issues plaguing people who live in this area.  One of the things that is definitely getting to me though, is the behaviour of Hamish's bosses Superintendent Daviot and Inspector Blair. Both of these men are quite dangerous and toxic in their jobs for very different reasons; Blair has a self-confidence issue and resents Hamish profoundly because he is very good at his job and outshines him consistently while Daviot can be quite useless for his closemindedness when it comes to investigating certain people in his social circles and who accepts Blair's deferential treatment as his due. I'm not sure why this behaviour has continued for so long in these books, but I find it very annoying and it's time to put an end to these behaviours, especially as they have consistently hindered investigations and almost caused officers who work under them to get seriously hurt.  Why are there no investigations into their conduct and behaviour as well?

And this leads me to Hamish himself.  At the beginning of the series I found Hamish to be quite interesting and likeable, with a quirky humour.  In the past few novels however, I have found him to be quite irritating and very unlikable.  I thought at first it might just be one of those novels where things don't go so well for Hamish and he's having a bad spell, but then he'll be back to normal; however, this has continued for quite a while now, and in this novel, I didn't like him at all.  It is one thing to go above your boss's head and do some investigating on your own, but I felt like there was no team camaraderie anywhere in this novel; even Jimmy was complaining because Hamish was getting all of the credit.  I felt like I was reading about a bunch of whiny boys who were only doing the job in order to get credit and fame, rather than doing the job for the job itself.  And Hamish? Bitter and resentful the entire novel.  He whined about not having a love life, about having his assistant constable live with him, about when his assistant constable left, about the new assistant constable, about everything!! Yes, I realize he has had trouble with his love life, having been twice engaged, but maybe he needs to look at his own actions and behaviours first in order to figure out why. Personally, there needs to be some resolution to this dilemma l as I find the whole thing childish and Hamish to be childish.  I like how he fights to stay on at Lockdubh in order to take care of the people who live there, and that is definitely a good thing, but he clearly needs to show some respect for those around him.

Death of a Liar is the latest in a long series featuring Hamish Macbeth, and I think it may be my last one for quite a while.  I just found the plot too predictable for me, and I haven't seen any growth in Hamish for many books; in fact, I feel like he has degenerated into this whiny child who doesn't treat those around him with respect or love.  It definitely doesn't make for interesting reading like it used to.  I am incredibly disappointed about this, but unless there are some big changes in store for our red-headed policeman, both in his personal life and in his personality, I just don't think I can read another one of these books. 
Saturday, March 28, 2015

Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy #1)
by Pierce Brown
Release Date: January 28th, 2014
2014 Del Rey
Ebook Edition; 382 Pages
ISBN: 978-0345539786
Genre: Fiction / Science-Fiction / Dystopian
Source: Review copy from publisher

5 / 5 Stars

The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it. The Reds are humanity's last hope.

Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it's all a lie. That Mars has been habitable - and inhabited - for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down on Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day that Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside. But the command school is a battlefield - and Darrow isn't the only student with an agenda.

My Thoughts
Red Rising is one of those books that is very difficult to explain to someone who has not read it.  In fact, it has taken me several days to write this review simply because I have been trying to think about how I want to go ahead and explain the events and the characters clearly to someone who might be thinking about reading it.  Basically, I think you just have to experience it for yourself and decide for yourself what you think.

When I first met Darrow, I knew right away that I would love this character.  He is a Red, living on Mars, the youngest Helldiver in memory, belonging to a caste of people who work and suffer every day for everything they possess, with food and other rewards given through the efforts of those who toil underground, creating a very competitive and deadly environment between Helldiver factions.  Right from the beginning you get a sense of the underlying danger and tension that exists amongst these people, and the difficulty and restlessness of their lives; conversations that abruptly break off, whispered comments, people's lack of satisfaction with their lives, etc... And then there is the visit by the Golds, the most powerful faction in this universe, men whom I could have happily have done away with right then and there.  This is the event that changes the course of Darrow's life, that puts him on a path to a more dangerous one than he would have ever known, for revenge and for justice, and believe me, I was right there with him along that path. Married at sixteen, Darrow's life come to an end when his wife his killed, and he finally begins to see what she has been expounding all this time; his world has been filled with lies, lies to keep him tied to his job and content with his life.  With his eyes finally opening to what is actually around him, Darrow decides to do something about it, and this is where the story really begins.  And although he has good intentions, throughout the novel, I kept wondering how far his hatred and quest for revenge would get him, and what would be the consequences when he is caught, as there was no doubt in my mind that he would, at one point, get caught. And with the brutality already seen so far, this thought sort of scared me.  Darrow is not a perfect character as he makes choices and decisions that do not go so well for him, and I like that he is flawed and imperfect.  He definitely knows his strengths however, especially his capacity to plan and strategize, and uses that to the utmost, to the point where I missed a couple of things, and got caught off guard.  That was fun, and totally unexpected, and I loved the twists. 

I thought the characters were quite well developed; I have to give credit to the author for his writing skills because it would be very difficult to create sympathetic characters amongst the brutality of some of the scenes in this novel, and this is exactly what the author managed to do.  I found myself liking the Golds, Mustang, Sevro (possibly my favourite character), Pax, etc..., and found myself thinking, "Whoa, what was I thinking? Am I not supposed to hate these people?"  But I couldn't; many were quite complex, and I found myself both liking and disliking them and their actions.  And a lot of what happened was extremely brutal, although a lot of the brutality was explained through conversational terms, not necessarily through descriptive scenes, for which I was rather grateful.  However, having an imagination certainly does not help as it took a while for some of the scenes to get themselves out of my head, described or not.  

I really enjoyed the plot to this book; I liked the twists and turns, the complexity of the characters, even the brutality as it made the world that much more real, the world-building, the creativity, and the questions it raises about morality, ethics, and personal strength.  First of all, the world-building was great; I had no problem understanding how things worked and the caste system was very understandable. There were so many themes running through this novel that I had to stop every now and again to think about them: revenge, rage, control, loyalty, friendship, oppression, love, and so on.  It really makes you think about humanity and how one group of people can horribly suppress other groups of people, and make you believe that this is okay, and something good will come out of it. Darrow is one of those people who felt that if you just did your job, got your hands dirty, then something good will come to you at the end; his wife was far more jaded and had her eyes a bit more open to the reality of the situation, and it got her killed. Personally, I think something would have happened to her anyways as she was too outspoken, and forced her revolutionary ideas on Darrow, a man who just wanted to live his life out peacefully and quietly; and did she do it to force Darrow onto a path he didn't want in the first place?  Questions, questions!!

I loved Red Rising.  I really enjoyed how Darrow evolved throughout the book from lovesick husband, to man out for revenge, to tyrant, to an actual leader.  He made a lot of mistakes along the way, but managed to develop some interesting friendships, and I can't way to see how this all pans out in the sequel.  I am definitely looking forward to reading Golden Son in just a few days. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Book Blitz: Witch's Moonstone Locket by Marsha A. Moore

Witch’s Moonstone Locket
A Coon Hollow Coven Tale
Book One
Marsha A. Moore

Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
Date of Publication: March 24, 2015
Word Count: 94,000
Book Description:

Twenty-three-year-old Jancie Sadler was out of the room when her mother died, and her heart still longs for their lost goodbye. Aching to ease her sorrow, Aunt Starla gives Jancie a diary that changes her entire life. In entries from the 1930s, her great grandmother revealed how she coped with her own painful loss by seeking out a witch from nearby Coon Hollow Coven. The witch wore the griever’s moonstone locket, which allowed whoever could unlock its enchantment to talk with the dead.

Determined to find that locket, Jancie goes to the coven’s annual carnival held in her small southern Indiana town of Bentbone. This opposes her father’s strict rule: stay away from witches. But she’s an adult now and can make her own decisions. She meets Rowe McCoy, the kind and handsome witch who wears the moonstone. He agrees to let her try to open the locket, but they’re opposed by High Priestess Adara and her jealous desire to possess him.

Desperate for closure with her mother, Jancie persists and cannot turn away from a perilous path filled with magic, romance, and danger. 

Excerpt from Chapter One: Great Aunt Starla’s Cornbread

Warm rain mixed with Jancie’s tears, and she rose to stand beside her mother’s grave. Not ready to let go, she bent at the waist and her fingers followed the arc of her mother’s name—Faye Sadler—in the headstone. She knew the unyielding shape well. The word goodbye stuck in her throat. She’d said it aloud many times since her mother died almost a year ago, only to have the cemetery’s vast silence swallow her farewells. Rain beaded on the polished granite. Her hand, bearing her mother’s silver ring, slid down the stone and fell to her side.
If only she could’ve said goodbye to her mother before. After years of caring for her mom while she suffered with cancer, Jancie had missed the final parting moment while getting a quick bite of dinner. The pain still cut like a knife in her gut.
On foot, she retraced the too-familiar path toward her work at the Federal Bank. Although she’d landed a job as manager at the largest of the three banks in the small town of Bentbone, the position was a dead end. Within the first six months, she’d mastered all the necessary skills. Now, after a year, only the paycheck kept her there.
Jancie turned onto Maple Street. As usual, wind swept up the corridor, between old shade trees protecting houses, and met her at the top of the tall hill. September rain pelted her face and battled the Indian summer noontime temperatures. She zipped the rain parka to keep her dress dry, pulled on the strings of the hood, and corralled strands of ginger-colored hair that whipped into her eyes. Once able to see, she gazed farther into the valley, where the view spanned almost a mile out to the edge of town. Usually, farmers moved tractors across the road or boys raced skateboards and bikes down Maple Street’s long slope.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Book Blitz and Giveaway: The Dragon King by Candace Blevins

The Dragon King
The Chattanooga Supernaturals
Book 1
Candace Blevins

Genre: Paranormal romance
Publisher: Excessica
Date of Publication:  March 20, 2015
Number of pages: 350
Word Count:  102,000
Cover Artist: Syneca Featherstone

Book Description:
Book one of The Chattanooga Supernaturals, paranormal romance with claws...

Aaron Drake is nine thousand years old and one of the last remaining European were-dragons. With no female Dragons, his only hope of children lies in his grandmother's dying words. "The Swan Princesses may be the Dragons' only hope."

Sophia Siyanko is the first Swan Princess without at least one brother to take the throne in Aaron's long memory. However, her father chooses her husband when she’s twelve, and sets the date for her twenty-fifth birthday. She is sequestered in her father's mansion, raised by governesses and tutors to be the future King’s arm candy, and Aaron’s options are limited.

But then Sophia escapes her father’s compound a few weeks before her twenty-fifth birthday. Determined to escape or die trying, she comes to Aaron for help.

To protect her, he’ll have to fight every Swan and Eagle on the planet, most of the Wolves, and all of Faerie.

Also part of Kirsten O’Shea’s world, Book 2
“Do you think it has anything to do with true-love’s kiss?”
He shook his head. “No.”
I took a breath and asked before I could chicken out. “Could you kiss me anyway, just in case?”
Aaron’s gaze felt as if it penetrated my soul. “Do you know what you’re asking, Soph? I was prepared to give you a few days to get used to me touching your hand, your back, your face, before I tried to venture farther. You froze last night when I touched your back. I assume I’m going to be your first romantic kiss?”
I nodded, unable to talk, and he said, “You stole my heart at three, but I think I fell the rest of the way in love with you when I threw you in the river. It wasn’t a romantic love then, but it will be, now.” He shook his head and said, “It is, now.”
“I was seven!” I finally found my voice, and it came out in almost a shout.
“I know.” His smile was gentle, as if he was afraid of spooking me. “If I kiss you, it won’t be to test out your theory.” His eyes were intense. Dark. “We need to get to know one another better as adults, and have a lot of discussions about consequences and repercussions before we…” He stood, stepped to me, and pulled me from my chair, drawing me into the warmth of his arms. No one had ever held me like this, enveloping me, surrounding me, and I had to think about breathing as his heat and power surrounded me and threatened to overwhelm me. Holding onto my reactions was hopeless now, but this was Aaron and he’d never expected me to be someone I’m not.
“Not saying no, Princess. I’m giving you a chance to decide for sure, though.”
I leaned my head against the hard wall of his chest as I tried to get my heart to slow down. “Don’t call me Princess.”
“Deal with it.” No apologies. His voice was a rough scrape over my skin, but I understood. He wanted me to consider the ramifications of kissing him — and doing more than kissing — as not only Sophia, but also the Princess who might want to try to hold the reins as Queen, one day.
I needed to know more about him, about us, before I could decide. “You made this house, in this cave, to hide me.”
He stilled, frozen in time for a brief second, and then caressed my back. “To hide supernaturals, Soph. Every way into the cave has a body of water you must cross, and the air is sucked into the earth in this cave system and rarely blows out. The crystal formations in the area help camouflage both of our magical signatures, and with no ley lines close, not even the Fae have a hope of finding us.”
“Not many supernaturals have occasion to need to hide from the Fae.”
He chuckled and kissed the top of my head. I liked this, being so close to him, feeling the vibrations of his chest as I heard him laugh. His lips on top of my head, if only for a brief second, set my insides on fire.
“More of us need to hide from the Fae than you might think,” he said. “In my business, when someone comes to me needing protection it’s always good to have options.” His sigh told me he’d given up on me deciding whether I wanted a kiss, but when he tried to pull away, I held on. He relaxed and snuggled me back into him. “I’d given up on any hope of the swans providing an answer, and then had to feel guilty when your mother died and the news came that there was one viable egg, and the Fae announced you were a girl. I felt grief for your father, and heartache for the child who would be born without a mother to raise her, but at the same time I felt a spark of hope. And then I got to know you, came to adore you, and later came to love you. Part of me wants to spirit you away to an island that shows up on no maps, and is out of bounds so the Fae can’t get to it from the Summerlands. I would make you fall in love with me, and try to figure out how to make it work…but I care too much about you. You’ve been locked away all your life, and if it kills me, or kills both of us, I’m going to do everything in my power to give you your freedom.”
I gave in to the sensory input snowballing in my brain. For the first time I my life I didn’t have to worry about revealing my body’s reactions, so I looked up, caught his gaze, and said, “Kiss me, Aaron. I don’t want to wait.”
His face came towards mine, slow, as if he were giving me a chance to change my mind. He ran his lips across mine, fast, hot. He paused, pulled back a few millimeters, and then touched his mouth to mine again, so languorous, delicate, and sensually slow my lips opened to him without my realizing it. I closed my eyes, relaxed into his arms, and let him have my mouth, let him do whatever he wanted with it.
His tongue encouraged mine to move, to do a kind of dance with his, and once I relaxed into the kiss, my lower body came to life in a way I’d never experienced and I pressed my thighs together, alarmed he’d smell what he was doing to me.
The kiss grew from a slow, relaxed caress to an urgent, demanding, hungry claim. I felt as if he branded me, owned me, and if he hadn’t ended it I’m not sure I’d have been able to. I was breathless and speechless as I opened my eyes to see him watching me, and all I could do was smile, close my eyes, and rest my face against his chest. The quick fantasies I’d allowed myself while swimming laps in the pool, or while showering — places no one was likely to smell the scent of arousal — were nothing compared to the larger-than-life reality of Aaron Drake in person.
“If that wasn’t true love’s kiss then the real thing might be enough to give someone a heart attack,” I said into his chest. “I had no idea, Aaron. Is it always like that?”
He kissed the top of my head and his voice rumbled on my cheek through his chest. “No, that was an exceptionally good kiss. We have chemistry, Soph. I knew we would, but it’s nice to have reality live up to what I’d hoped for.”

About the Author:
Candace Blevins is a southern girl who loves to travel the world. She lives with her husband of 17 years and their two daughters. When not working or driving kids all over the place she can be found reading, writing, meditating, or swimming.

Candace writes BDSM Romance, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, and is currently writing a Motorcycle Club series.

Her Safeword Series gives us characters who happen to have some extreme kinks. Relationships can be difficult enough without throwing power exchange into the mix, and her books show characters who care enough about each other to fight to make the relationship work. Each book in the Safeword series highlights a couple with a different BDSM issue to resolve. Books are standalone and can be read in any order, with the exception of the two Davenport books, and the four Matte books.

Her urban fantasy series, Only Human, gives us a world where weredragons, werewolves, werelions, three different species of vampires, as well as a variety of other mythological beings exist.

Candace's paranormal romance series, The Chattanooga Supernaturals, is a sister series to the Only Human series, and gives some secondary characters their happily ever after.

You can visit Candace on the web at and feel free to friend her on Facebook at and Goodreads at

You can also join  to get sneak peeks into what she's writing now, images that inspire her, and the occasional juicy blurb.      Facebook       Goodreads
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Tour Giveaway: 2 ebook copies of Only Human

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina (Seraphina, Book #1)
by Rachel Hartman
Release Date: July 10th, 2012
2012 Random House Books for Young Readers
Hardcover Edition; 499 Pages
ISBN: 978-0375866579
Genre: Fiction / Young Adult / Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher

4.5 / 5 Stars

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

My Thoughts
Seraphina is one of those books I was reluctant to read the first time round simply because there was so much hype around it and I tended to avoid those books with a lot of hype. So when I was offered a chance to review the sequel, I took it as an opportunity to take a look at it again and I wasn't disappointed at all.  In fact, I enjoyed Seraphina quite a bit; the world-building was very believable and very well-developed, and the descriptions felt like they belonged as part of the story and not thrown in as explanations; no information overload / dumping in this novel and I really appreciate that.  I imagine it would have taken quite a few editions in order to do this and I have to give a lot of credit to the author for really paying attention to the little details that really make this book outstanding.

Seraphina is one of those characters whom it is difficult not to like; she is headstrong, stubborn, creative, determined, loyal, and full of secrets.  While these are strong character traits, they are also easily ones which get her into a lot of trouble as she has difficulty letting go of something once she has her 'hooks' into it, and follows her instincts with a tenacity that can be endearing, but is annoying to those around her, especially since they don't understand the secret she is trying to keep from everyone.  And the person she annoys the most is Prince Lucian Kiggs, the one man who can help her uncover what is happening at the castle. Because her secret is quite deplorable to many of those around her, it also causes trouble in her relationships as she has to lie on occasion, and this causes mistrust on both sides, leaving people unsure whom to trust, wondering from where, and more importantly, from whom, Seraphina gets her information.  I actually thought the delicate balancing of relationships in this novel was quite well done, with none of the dramatics you see in other novels, and I quite liked seeing relationship difficulties without all of that 'angst'; it was just about people learning to trust each other with some rather deep secrets.  I also liked the delicate development of emotions in Orma and am curious as to where that is going to go. He is, without doubt, my favourite character and delivered some beautiful one-liners (I will leave that for you to discover though). On the other side though, I love the cold nature of the dragons, how manipulative and calculating they are, and how completely indifferent they are to human emotions and human activities, playing on the misconception that humans actually have some control over them.  The conflict arises when they turn themselves into human in order to deal with humans and have to handle conflicting human emotions that come with the bodies; easily solved however, simply excise the human emotion from the brain once the task is done, including the memory if necessary.  I love these dragons!!  I have always avoided books where dragons tend to be 'humanized', or become cute and cuddly - none of those types of dragons for me.

I think the only issue I had was with the plot, and this wasn't a huge issue overall, just one I noticed more upon reflection once I finished the novel.  While it certainly was unpredictable at times, and there were definitely some clues that I missed, I did feel that it moved a bit slowly.  It is so easy to get caught up in the intricate detailing of the world-building and into the character-building that it was only upon reflection that I really noticed how few action scenes there really was in this novel.  And by action, I don't mean war scenes or anything like that, but this novel was definitely a build-up to the sequel.   I have a long history with fantasy novels, and I just felt that something was missing when it came to the plot. 

Seraphina is definitely for those who enjoy fantasy novels with dragons, for those who love intricate world-building and good development of characters, and who love dragons that are intelligent and manipulative.  What I really liked about this novel is that the characters used their brains whenever they acted, so I guess you could term this an 'intelligent' novel; I don't know how else to put it.  The histrionics and hysterics of some young adult fantasy isn't in this one and for that I am eternally grateful.  While a lot of the novel centered around the treaty that was created forty years ago, there was certainly a lot more going on politically and culturally than just the events of the treaty, and I liked a lot of the underlying themes of family, honour, trust, loyalty, and friendship that could be seen. The novel was very entertaining and I definitely recommend it to those who like dragons and fantasy.  I am looking forward to reviewing Shadow Scale in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Young Adult Sci-Fi Event

Science Fiction is the hottest genre right now. Add in some best selling authors and Young Adult books and you have an event not to be missed. So come celebrate these awesome YA Science Fiction Authors with us! Giveaways, book exclusives, games and more! Young Adult Science Fiction Multi-Author Event March 19th from 5:30-9PM. You can enter the big $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway at the bottom of this post! Don't miss it!

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Join the event!

The authors are excited to see you on the 19th but in the meantime, check out these amazing titles!

ManyLivesOfRubyIyer_cover The Legacy Human (Singularity #1) FINAL anyone
Perception-LeeStrauss-cover_600x927 2mos Kay-BrokenSkies-17612-CVR-FT-v1 (2)

Schedule of events!

5:30-6:00 – Angela Scott
6:00-6:30 – Laxmi Hariharan
6:30-7:00 – Theresa Kay
7:00-7:30 – Lee Strauss
7:30-8:00 – Pavarti K Tyler
8:00-8:30 – Susan Kaye Quinn
8:30-9:00 – Joel Ohman
9:00 – Pavarti (Announce Rafflecopter winners - Enter at the bottom of this post!)

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Review: Prince Lestat by Anne Rice

Prince Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles, Book #11)
by Anne Rice
Release Date: October 28th, 2014
2014 Knopf Publishing Group
Hardcover Edition; 458 Pages
ISBN: 978-0307962522
Genre: Fiction / Paranormal
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

The novel opens with the vampire world in crisis...vampires have been proliferating out of control; burnings have commenced all over the world, huge massacres similar to those carried out by Akasha in The Queen of the Damned... Old vampires, roused from slumber in the earth are doing the bidding of a Voice commanding that they indiscriminately burn vampire-mavericks in cities from Paris and Mumbai to Hong Kong, Kyoto, and San Francisco. As the novel moves from present-day New York and the West Coast to ancient Egypt, fourth century Carthage, 14th-century Rome, the Venice of the Renaissance, the worlds and beings of all the Vampire Chronicles—Louis de Pointe du Lac; the eternally young Armand, whose face is that of a Boticelli angel; Mekare and Maharet, Pandora and Flavius; David Talbot, vampire and ultimate fixer from the secret Talamasca; and Marius, the true Child of the Millennia; along with all the other new seductive, supernatural creatures—come together in this large, luxuriant, fiercely ambitious novel to ultimately rise up and seek out who—or what—the Voice is, and to discover the secret of what it desires and why...

And, at the book's center, the seemingly absent, curiously missing hero-wanderer, the dazzling, dangerous rebel-outlaw—the great hope of the Undead, the dazzling Prince Lestat...

My Thoughts
Prince Lestat is one of those books I would have read no matter what I heard about it in various chat rooms or other social media sites.  Are there series you just keep reading, just because you read the first few novels at an influential time period in your life, and now you just have to keep reading the rest just because you have to?  The Raymond E. Feist novels were like that for me, and now, so are The Vampire Chronicles.  And while I enjoyed it to a certain extent, there were parts of it that did drag on, and I had to force my way through them and keep going.

Visiting old friends has always been a treat in these novels and I used to wait breathlessly for a visit from any one of these vampires in any one of these novels: Louis, Marius, Pandora, David, Mekare and Maharet, Armand, Jesse, and of course, Lestat.  As always, I enjoyed the background stories of many of the newer characters, how they became vampires, and how they survived the millenia, but these stories overshadowed the older characters and I was kind of disappointed by that.  The usual secondary characters pretty much fell into the background and really didn't have much to add to this story; in fact, were not their usual aggressive and powerful selves. For example, I would have liked to have known Eleni's story as much as Gregory's or any of the others, but she just kind of fell into the background.  I just felt like many of the characters were not fleshed out or developed and were just used as background material for the real purpose, trying to justify why Lestat should become their leader, their Prince, another concept which really made no sense to me at all.  The fact that all of these so-called powerful vampires would just bow down to Lestat and make him their leader, with little argument as to why this should be the case, bothered me quite a bit.  The whole case about how much he is 'loved' and how much he is 'known' around the world began to wear thin after a while. This is where the book slowed down and kind of dragged its feet for me; I would have preferred to read the background stories about the newer characters than read the arguments as to why Lestat should be Prince or about who the Voice is and is he evil.  Seriously!!

I did like the attempt to try and connect the supernatural world with the scientific world, but in that it too fell flat, simply because it went too far.  I know you have to suspend belief when reading these novels, but there is a point when things stretch a little too far and I just wish it hadn't really gone down that road (spoiler alert here).  Don't get me wrong, as I did find the chapters quite interesting, and I really enjoyed the characters of Seth and Fareed, but I just wish that the science had been used a bit differently, that's all.  There are just so many fascinating paths in science to explore with regards to vampirism and Rice definitely used the more fantastical of the paths, that's all.   

Prince Lestat is not one of those novels that will bring new fans to The Vampire Chronicles, especially if they start with this novel, which I don't think will make sense to readers; it's not a series that I would recommend reading out of order.  This novel will not bring any real revelations to the vampire world, other than maybe revealing the origins of the Talamasca, and the ending was quite predictable.  I did think it started off rather strongly and I did enjoy quite a few parts, especially the stories about some of the new characters and their origins; it was definitely good to run into Magnus as well (spoiler).  Like I mentioned before, it is rather difficult for me to stay away from these books, so I will probably read the next book in this series, Blood Paradise, when it is released.  As always, I am fascinated by these creatures, but I would definitely like to see more of the favourites in the next book, strong, powerful, aggressive, and not as bystanders. 
Friday, March 13, 2015

The A.I. Chronicles Anthology Launch and Giveaway

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. Even today, machines that mimic human thinking surround us. As the intellectual feats of computing machines grow more and more astounding, will there be a day when their apparent intelligence approaches, or even surpasses, that of human beings? And what if these machines then become conscious, self-aware?

Get this latest title in the acclaimed Future Chronicles series of speculative fiction anthologies.

AI Chronicles

Thirteen authors confront the question of the Singularity: at and beyond that point of time when A.I. becomes more than simply a human construct. From first awareness to omniscience, these original short stories explore that territory where human intelligence comes face-to-face with what is either its greatest hope, or its greatest threat.

How can you join the party?

Join us TODAY, March 13th, in celebrating the launch on Facebook from 5 to Midnight EST.

Get your copy of The A.I. Chronicles here:

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Saturday, March 7, 2015

Review: The Tapestry by Nancy Bilyeau

The Tapestry (Joanna Stafford, Book #3)
by Nancy Bilyeau
Release Date: March 24th, 2015
2015 Touchstone
Ebook Edition; 400 Pages
ISBN: 978-1476756370
Genre: Fiction / Historical / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

5 / 5 Stars

After her priory in Dartford is closed, collateral damage in tyrannical King Henry VIII's quest to overthrow the Catholic Church, Joanna resolves to live a quiet and honorable life weaving tapestries, shunning dangerous quests and conspiracies. Until she is summoned to Whitehall Palace, where her tapestry weaving has drawn the King's attention.

Joanna is uncomfortable serving the King whom she has twice attempted to overthrow, unbeknownst to him. She fears for her life in a court bursting with hidden agendas and a casual disregard for the virtues she holds dear. And her suspicions are confirmed when an assassin attempts to kill her moments after arriving at Whitehall.

Struggling to stay ahead of her most formidable enemy yet, an unknown one, she becomes entangled in dangerous court politics. Her dear friend Catherine Howard is rumored to be one of the King's mistresses. Joanna is determined to protect young, beautiful, naive Catherine from becoming the King's next wife and possibly, victim.

My Thoughts
The Tapestry is the third novel, and the final book in the Joanna Stafford trilogy, and like the previous two novels in this series, is filled with suspense, taught drama, fascinating historical figures, and dangerous court intrigues.  Joanna, being summoned to the court where some of her most fearsome enemies await, struggles between wanting the quiet life she lives in Dartford, and the more glamorous one she could have at the court of King Henry VIII, a man she despises, yet could also return to her the beloved nephew she would like to raise as her own.   

Joanna, as always, is a very complicated character, who really struggles with what she wants in this  novel.  She is torn between the vows she made as a novice Dominican nun, and the life she could have for herself now that the priory no longer exists.  A devout Catholic, she struggles to maintain her relationship with God with all of the terrible cruelties she sees around her, and how difficult King Henry VIII has made it for people to worship, never knowing how the tides are going to turn from one day to the next.  Public burnings and terrible executions have made people fearful and distrustful, including Joanna herself.  Upon receiving a summons from court by King Henry VIII, she has no choice but to submit and go to London to see what he wants, becoming embroiled in the court intrigues herself.  Meeting all of these historical figures was quite fascinating, and even though I am quite familiar with them, I still found myself looking them up just to double-check their fates.  The research was very well done in this novel, and I always felt like I was right there with Joanna, experiencing what she was experiencing, and believe me, there were were very horrible moments.  The execution of Thomas Cromwell was one of them, and I still shudder every time I think of it, exactly how I felt when I first learned of it, and when I visited Tower Hill the first time.  Whatever others may think, I have always felt that Cromwell was a man of the times, trying to survive in the court of Henry VIII, which could not have been an easy task, and to die that way was horrible.

One of the things I have enjoyed about these novels is the fact that Joanna happens to travel quite a bit for an English lady, not necessarily by choice.  Having been to Belgium in previous novels, this time she visits Germany, and so readers get a taste of what Germany was like during this time period, and what drove a man like Holbein to leave his wife for eight years and live at King Henry VIII's court.  Most of the intrigues revolved around religion, which was apropos as religion was pretty much central to most of the strife during this time period, and names like Agrippa and Paracelsus showed up quite frequently in the conversations. I had never really studied Paracelsus so I did some research and I am amazed at how much credit is given to him for being the father of this and the father of that. And he is even credited with unknowingly observing hydrogen but didn't realize at the time that it was a new element.  I definitely need to read up on this man.  And for Joanna to arrive in Regensburg just as the Colloquy of Regensburg (the Diet) was about to begin was quite interesting as it gave the reader a taste of what it was like to witness the arguments and the debates about religion and how the countries tried to come to an agreement, but in the end, failed.

The Tapestry was a well-researched, fascinating read that kept me gripped and entertained the entire time.  Working around well-known historical figures such as Catherine Howard, King Henry VIII, Thomas Culpepper, the Duke of Norfolk, Bishop Gardiner, Anne of Cleves, Ambassador Chapuys, Thomas Cromwell, Henry Howard, Hans Holbein the Younger, Anthony Denny, and so on, it was a treat to read. Working around a very likeable and spunky heroine, combined with very vivid and descriptive historical detail, and a plot that was full of suspense and intrigue, made this story very captivating and enjoyable to read.  And there was even a romance to boot!! I really feel that the author has created a very authentic novel of the time period, one in which we really care about what happens to all of the characters, to their troubles, their fears, their anxieties, and twisted all of that into an exciting and captivating plot full of intrigue and surprises.
Thursday, March 5, 2015

Review: A Fine Summer's Day by Charles Todd

A Fine Summer's Day (Inspector Ian Rutledge, Book #17)
by Charles Todd
Release Date: January 6th, 2015
2015 William Morrow & Company
Ebook Edition; 368 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062237125
Genre: Fiction / Historical / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

On a fine summer's day in June, 1914, Ian Rutledge pays little notice to the assassination of an archduke in Sarajevo. An Inspector at Scotland Yard, he is planning to propose to the woman whom he deeply loves, despite intimations from friends and family that she may not be the wisest choice.

To the north on this warm and gentle day, another man in love--a Scottish Highlander--shows his own dear girl the house he will build for her in September. While back in England, a son awaits the undertaker in the wake of his widowed mother's death. This death will set off a series of murders across England, seemingly unconnected, that Rutledge will race to solve in the weeks before the fateful declaration in August that will forever transform his world.

As the clouds of war gather on the horizon, all of Britain wonders and waits. With every moment at stake, Rutledge sets out to right a wrong--an odyssey that will eventually force him to choose between the Yard and his country, between love and duty, and between honor and truth.

My Thoughts
A Fine Summer's Day is the seventeenth entry in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series, but this one is different as it takes us back to before the Great War, the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the events that led to the outbreak of war, and Rutledge's decision to forsake Scotland Yard to become a soldier.  I have always been fascinated with the after-effects of the war described in these novels so it was quite interesting to read about the beginning of the war, and how it swept across Europe and affected England.  As a history teacher who teaches about the world wars, I found this quite fascinating, and Todd did not disappoint.

At first, I wasn't quite sure about the plot and where the big mystery was as there were so many threads interconnected between different murders and different concepts that it took quite a while for all of them to come together.  Luckily, having read all of the previous novels in this series, I was quite familiar with how the author (I should probably mention here that Charles Todd is a pen name for the mother-son writing team of Charles Todd and Caroline Todd) wrote, and as a result, remained quite patient throughout the various crimes for things to begin making sense.  I find that Todd's descriptive style is so enjoyable that even Rutledge's psychological ramblings while driving from place to place are quite interesting. Rutledge's insecurities regarding his role as a policeman and his role as a future husband-to-be were more prominent in this book, and I like that his engagement took place on the same day Franz Ferdinand was assassinated as it lent a bit of foreshadowing to the story.  Rutledge did get into trouble trying to balance his social obligations with Jean and his work duties, and we  learn a bit about how the conflict between Bowles and Rutledge began.  

Even though readers are already familiar with Jean and what happened later between them, meeting her in this novel just confounds me.  I have no idea what he saw in this woman, and to be honest, she drove me batty.  I get that some young women during this time period were quite sheltered and weren't allowed to read the newspapers, but Jean wasn't just sheltered, she was naive and spoiled and despite having grown up in a military family, not very knowledgeable about the world.  She just had no concept of what drove Rutledge or really paid attention to what made him passionate about the world; she was more concerned about him neglecting her while he was doing his investigations and behaving like a schoolgirl and sulking.  Even pushing him to join the war effort because to do otherwise would be cowardly; in fact, war fever seemed to take over England during this time period with some young men even committing suicide if they were not allowed to enlist.  I actually came to root for Kate, Jean's close friend, and hoped that Rutledge would see sense, even though I already knew the outcome. 

A Fine Summer's Day is a prequel to the Inspector Rutledge series and I recommend you read this one first if you haven't read any of the books in the series.  While it is not necessary to read them in order, it does make more sense to do in order to get a sense of some of the background stories for recurring characters.  One of the things I did find odd in this book, and something I expected at every moment, is not having Hamish speaking up at the odd moment to give Rutledge advice or commenting (often negatively) on his decisions.  You only get a momentary introduction to Hamish in this novel, and some other names like Simon Brandon (from the Bess Crawford mysteries), names I jumped on eagerly hoping for more information, only to be disappointed by the tease.  What I am hoping for is a merging of the two story lines in the midst of the Great War.  I enjoyed this latest installment very much, and look forward to whatever comes next for Rutledge.