Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny


Chief Inspector Gamache - Book 11

I think this is one of the best Gamache books.  Many favourite characters are back, but there is a renewed focus on Armand Gamache, Jean-Guy and Isabelle Lacoste.  Especially on Armand.  We are getting to see how he is, or isn't, dealing with retirement from the SQ.  I mean, honestly, does anyone really think that Armand will just be able to sit on the porch of his home in Three Pines reading, walking Henri, eating Reine-Marie's wonderful cooking, chatting with the denizens of our favourite Townships village?  I'm sure he'd like to think he'd be quite happy doing just that, but I think even he realises that he might be fooling himself.

The mystery is interesting.  A BFG - and that's not Big Friendly Giant, my friends - is at the center of case that begins with the death/murder of a young boy known for his huge imagination.   I'm glad it wasn't a graphic murder, I have to say.  I don't deal well with those at the best of times, but when it's a child...  well.  I'm glad Penny did things the ways she did.  Also interesting was that there is a historical basis for the BFG.  Very cool.

But as always, the main reason I adore these books is the characters and they have all grown, changed or shown a little more of themselves in this volume and I have loved it.  I really loved the final shot (in the book, that is) of Clara - it was perfect and insightful and made me smile.

So all I have left is the latest book in the series, A Great Reckoning.  And I'm saving that for a bit.  For a special time.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Santa Baby by Heidi Cullinan


Minnesota Christmas - Book 4

The last of my Christmas reads - I saved the best 'til last.  As you might know already, Heidi is one of my favourite authors and I adored the first 3 Minnesota Christmas books, so I was very much looking forward to my read.

Santa Baby is a little more serious than the first three books and it didn't seem to me to be quite as 'Christmas Focused' as the others.  Part of that might have been that it starts one Christmas season and finishes up the next.  I also think that part of it was the lack of intimate holiday traditions/scenes between the main characters.  I get that these things weren't really part of the story Heidi had to tell, but I missed them.

As advertised, this is a the story of a budding threesome, Arthur and Gabriel, the stars of book 2 and newcomer Dale.  I really enjoyed the getting inside of Arthur's thoughts as the love of his life, Gabriel, develops a massive crush on Dale who has come to Logan to help get them on the map, so to speak.  It was fascinating to watch as he realised that his Gabriel might be polyamorous and what he, Arthur, needed to do to help and support him.  Arthur, is not poly, but he is open.  Dale is indeed poly, but desperately needs his 'alone' time.  And while Arthur isn't poly, he does, in his own way, fall for Dale and have a desire and a need to have him as 'his' (in a positive way, not a yucky overly possessive way).  For the most part, I enjoyed how all this played out, but I couldn't help but feel that somehow, Arthur was doing most of the compromising and bending to make it all work for the three of them.  I kinda felt as if he were short-changed somewhere along the line - especially at the end when they have the wedding/ceremony.  It came across, to me, that the important thing for Gabriel was the small and privateish ceremony with his shiny new lover, Dale, as opposed to his marriage to Arthur, the supposed love of his life.  And also, the giving up of their dream to have a place for foster children felt sad to me, even though there were other things that would be filling that 'hole' in their emotions.

Dale, for his part, has a dark past in which he was abused and used by a 'supposed' lover.  I thought this was pretty well done, horrific as it was and decidedly NOT Christmassy.  *LOL*  But the way that Arthur helped him get through that and come out the other side was fascinating.  The only part that bugged me was that it at times felt that Arthur was doing all this to present Gabriel with a lovely and perfect lover with a bow on his head, if you get my drift.

There was one point in the book, in the last quarter, if memory serves, where I felt like I was sitting at a lecture and it was fairly short-lived, so I can't complain.  :)  I just think there must be a more conversational or convivial or personal way to talk about the challenges facing the queer community that might resonate a little more with a reader?

All that is why this book only gets 4 stars instead of 5.  :)  It seems like I've been bitching and complaining a lot, but don't be mislead, I really did enjoy this one.  :)  And Marcus... my lovely Marcus - he and Arthur were, for me, the heroes of the book.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

You Had Me At Christmas - Various Authors


You Had Me At Christmas is an anthology of 5 Christmas romance novellas.

The first one is Play by Karina Bliss and you know what?  I couldn't put it down!  *LOL*  I love me a good rock star story and this one was one.  But mostly told from the rock star wife's POV.  Yup, story about a married couple with two little kids.  He's a fresh made rockstar and she's his childhood sweetheart learning to cope with his newfound fame.

I found both characters believable and their insecurities and doubts worked for me.  As did their reconnection - especially the parts with their kids.  The sexy scenes were sexy and steamy, but it was the scenes where they were dealing with their kids and their rekindled desires at the same time that I really enjoyed.

A really good read!!

Now, on to the next one!

One Naughty Little Christmas was a lot of fun!  Starts off with a dating app and some sexy sexting between a business woman and an ex con on Christmas Day night, neither of them in the first blush of youth (Thank God!).  I found it an interesting pairing and their back and forth texting and sexting at the beginning of the story was well done and easy to follow.  I don't know that there was a lot of holiday in this one, other than the setting and the set up, but it left me with a smile on my face, so all was good!  :)

Twelve Kisses Until Christmas was ... well.. not my cup of tea.  Each time that I began to really enjoy the characters, they pulled some whiny bullcrap that made me go UGH.  It was really very much a New Adult type story and those I avoid like the plague.  The characters are never likable or sympathetic or not whining about something.  I think maybe the premise might have been better served with an actual novel where the characters could have been better fleshed out and maybe some positive sides shown?  Not much of Christmas or the holidays in this one either.  Anyway... the story wasn't great.

Snow-Kissed.  Well.  The first chapter left me so down and in despair that when the second chapter started the exact same way, it was fast forward time.  I want to read holiday stories that don't throw me into a pit of dark despair before maybe... MAYBE giving me my HEA or HFN ending.  I know miscarriages are devastating and tragic, but maybe not in a holiday romance novel?  Seeing as I DNFed this story, I have no idea if it actually held up the Christmas part of the bargain.

Let's hope the last one leaves me in a better frame of mind.

Christmas Eve: A Love Story.  It was an improvement, I'll give it that.  (Honestly, couldn't have been much worse than the DNF story.) I dunno. I wanted more joy, more happiness, more Christmassy feeling.  I wanted to finish the story with a smile and a happy sigh, but that didn't happen.  I think it could have.  The story of long-time friends to lovers is always an enjoyable trope for me, but this one was so - angst-laden? - that I found it hard to enjoy.  It was missing a sense of fun.

So, out of five novellas, I can honestly say that I enjoyed 2 of them.  Way too much 'woe is me' in the others.

What a shame.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Little Bit Naughty by Farrah Rochon


Moments in Maplesville - Book 2

This is the second novella in the Moments in Maplesville series and it was as entertaining as the first. Now, I know I'm supposed to be reading my holiday stories, but I got fooled into thinking this was another Christmas story. Well, fooled... I didn't pay enough attention. *LOL*

Anyway, we meet another pair of charming main characters, Jada (a bestie of the heroine of the 1st book) and Mason, a couple who have known each other since high school and disliked each other since high school.

While it might seem that the enemies to lovers happens awfully quick, I'm reminded of the day way back in time, that John Goldie (who was just a guy in my class) said something innocuous to me and I was instantly in love. *LOL* So I'm willing to give Jada and Mason a pass.

The author seems to have cut down on the fanatical use of descriptors in this book - YAY! But I realised that whatever happened to Jada to 'pique her interest' went directly to her nipples. SO many nipples. Nipples galore. Too many effing nipples. *LOL* Honestly, there are other ways/responses that women feel when they get turned on.

So yes, this was an entertaining read and I'll probably read more in the series should the chance arise. And once again, this is a story about POC written by a WOC.

Monday, December 12, 2016

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A Perfect Holiday Fling by Farrah Rochon


Moments in Maplesville - Book 1

Farrah Rochon is an author I see mentioned many times in my Twitter feed by the romance authors I follow, so I figured it was about time I checked her out.

A Perfect Holiday Fling is the first of the Moments in Maplesville novellas which seem to all circle around holidays, and I found it quite enjoyable and perfect for the Christmas season.

I liked the characters, but as always, I bemoan the fact that there just isn't enough time in a novella to really get to know them, but what we do g
et is pretty good. I enjoyed the instant chemistry between the two MCs as well as the fact that Stefan's young 5 year old nephew wasn't perfectly precocious as so many kids in romances tend to be.

My one problem with this book was that the author likes her descriptors a little too much for my taste. Adjectives abound all over the place. Now I'm all for giving the reader a picture, God knows, but I often felt as if I was being inundated with colours and textures and brand names and all kinds of other stuff.

But I did like the book. :) Perfect read for the holiday season.
And for those that search them out, this is a book written by a WOC and about POC.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Mackenzie Family Christmas: The Perfect Gift by Jennifer Ashley


Mackenzies & McBrides - Book 4.5

This was a very enjoyable, sexy, holiday novella that had SO much crammed into its 165+ pages that it fairly made my head swim!  But in a good way.  :)

All the Mackenzies are here with their wives and their children and the place is rollicking.  There are so many instances of sexytimes, all of them lovely and steamy.  We have babies being born and kisses being stolen.  And we have the lovely Lord Ian, who is such a wonderful character, seeming to be the one holding it all together.

Great fun read and a good reminder to me that I have to find the others!  *whispers*  I've only read the first one, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, and it was really, really good.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Shiver by Jocelynn Drake & Rinda Elliott


Unbreakable Bonds - Book 1

This book was a round-about rec in a way. One of the romantic suspense novelists I follow on Twitter was quoted on a book blog about some of her fave reads and the 3rd book in this series was one of the ones she mentioned. So, I went to check out the series and it hit a lot of my 'ooooh' buttons, so I went and picked up this first book.

There are 4 men who are as close, if not closer, than brothers. A millionaire club owner/businessman, a surgeon, a security company head and a chef. This story is about the millionaire and what happens when he gets targeted by the bad guys over his latest property venture. His buddy, the security company guy, sends him a bodyguard and the romance begins. :)

It worked for me for the most part. I enjoy the whole band of brothers thing and all the characters are bigger than life, which is fun for me. It could be compared, I guess, to the Abi Roux Cut & Run books or SE Jakes' Tommy & Prophet series, but it's got a bit to go to live up to those faves of mine.

The romance and sex is steamy hot and the falling in love stuff makes sense for the most part. Although I did find that maybe, in certain tense situations, maybe the guys could have held off on the whoopee for a little bit?

However... I did knock down my rating because this pair of authors, like many in the m/m genre, use the word SMIRK so often and think it's a hot and sexy expression. OH. MY. GOD! It's SO not. It's smarmy and supercilious and obnoxious and it turns me right off and hauls me out of the story quickerthanthis. UGH, I hate it. In my uneducated opinion, I they use it in the hopes of it coming across as uber masculine. Anyway, if I were the editor, I'd be raising hell.

So, I will be adding the others to the TBR pile and hope that the word is used much, much less.

Percepliquis by Michael J. Sullivan


Riyria Revelations - Book 6

This was a most satisfying end to a really good series. Some things I had suspected came to be true and others that I suspected did not, which is the way I like things. :)

Thinking back, it seems a long, winding journey from the first book to this one, but I loved the characters so much that it really didn't bother me one bit. I do like well-written epics with great characters.

And we really did come full circle more than many epics do. - I have to wonder if that's because Sullivan waited until all the books were written before publishing it? That might make it easier to tie up all the loose ends.

Royce remains my favorite character of all and boy, oh boy, does he run the gamut of emotions in this book and indeed, throughout the whole series. And Myron.. my goodness, he comes into his own in this book. In my mind's eye, he's Dr. Reid from Criminal Minds. *LOL*

I'm in one of those places where I couldn't give a good review of this book and the whole series if you paid me! *LOL* I can just say that I really, really enjoyed it. The ending was most satisfying and there is definitely a part of me that's sad to see it end. :)

The first book of the series was also the book that rekindled my Big Love for the fantasy genre which had been quiet for a few years.

Wintertide by Michael J. Sullivan


Riyria Revelations - Book 5

More questions, more answers. :) But never as many of the latter as there are of the former. In this, the 5th (or 1st half of the 3rd) of the Riyria Revelations, you can almost feel that things are working towards a climactic resolution.

We spend a lot of our time with Modina, the young empress and Hadrian, the warrior half of our core duo of Hadrian and Royce. Their characters grow and expand and even as we learn about some of the others... Nimbus, Arista, Royce, Amelia, Breckton etc... and how they all fit into this epic journey.

I enjoyed it so much that I dove right into the next book in the series right away, something I never do.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Fifth Quarter by Tanya Huff


Quarters - Book 2

I really enjoyed Fifth Quarter and I'm not sure why it seemed to take so long to finish it. :) Be that as it may...

This second book in the Quarters series takes on the tale of a pair of assassins, a body-jumper, a family of zombies and a very sad old man. In the story, there are a couple of peripheral characters from the first book (I think that's right - my memory is for shit. *LOL*).

There are adventures to be had, emotions to be uncovered, dangers to be faced as well as a few home truths and I really liked the way it all played out. The main character of Vree was really quite fascinating, I thought, and it was an interesting journey to take with her as her world opens up beyond the army and her assassin role. I'm glad we're going to continue her story in the next book.

I really enjoy Tanya Huff's writing, no matter what genre she's writing in. She has a comfortable, easy way of telling a story that never gets bogged down with extraneous details or literary navel-gazing. I'm glad I have No Quarter in my TBR pile!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Glass Tidings by Amy Jo Cousins


Glass Tidings is my first Christmas read this year (an advance read from Riptide) and it wasn't bad at all.

I would have liked to give it a higher rating, but I found I had a hard time really warming up to the two main characters. For me they were just missing that 'something something'. YMMV of course! I think I just wanted more from them, y'know?

One HUGE positive for me was the mature age of the characters. Gray is in his 40s and Eddie is 28. I am SO over NA romances, so this was a big deal for me.

So, yeah, good way to start off the Christmas reading season. :)

Glass Tidings is also available as part of the 2016 Holiday Charity Bundle from Riptide.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts


The Guardians Trilogy - Book 1

This is the first book of Nora Roberts' latest paranormal trilogy, The Guardians Trilogy, and it has all the tropes. There are six characters, 3 women, 3 men, to fight for the light against the darkness. They all have powers. Some of them are not quite of this world.

It's a Nora Paranormal Trilogy. An NPT.

It's my favourite trope, I think. *LOL* I love them!

So yes, I quite enjoyed it.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Long Way Home by Louise Penny


Chief Inspector Armand Gamache - Book 10

Another winner! Big surprise, eh? :) 

In this, the 10th Gamache book, things are a little more quiet, a little more personal, a little less grand - as they needed to be after the culmination of major series arcs in the previous novel. This felt like a chance to catch our breath as well as see where all our old friends have ended up.

Again, not only do we have the mystery of the missing artist, but we have the mystery of what's going on inside our characters. I love how Louise manages to parallel both threads of plot.

This series really makes me wish I could write in depth essays on books the way some people do, but I can just tell you that I loved the book, loved where the author has taken some of her cast of characters this time, loved the settings and just loved her story-telling voice, period.

I have one more Gamache book in my Kobo and then hopefully the 12th book will have come down a bit in price and then I'm going to be stuck waiting like everyone else for the 13th Gamache tale!

Oh, and if you were wondering, the picture on the cover is supposed to be upside down.  :)

Monday, November 7, 2016

Prince's Gambit by C. S. Pacat


The Captive Prince - Book 2

It was good. Good enough that I kept picking it up in those times where I had 10 minutes to read or when I should have been doing some sort of household chore. *LOL*

So, in this second volume of the Captive Prince trilogy, Damen and Laurent continue to learn more about each other as their relationship becomes more friendly and less adversarial. As I got deeper and deeper into the book, I began to marvel at the plotting and planning that the author had done. Just when you think you have a handle on how the story is going to go - BAM! - there's a sharp turn and you're left gasping for reading air! *LOL* I love it!

As far as the romance goes, well, it's a really slow burn. Really slow. And that's good! It works and makes it all that much more believable.

The only real problem I have with this tale is that Laurent is so damned young! 20 years old. I have a hard time attributing all his talents and experience to him as he's so young, but near the end of the book things start to feel more reasonable - to me! This is entirely me. *LOL* I have my own ideas about how certain things have come about and will have to read the last of the trilogy in order to find out if I'm anywhere near correct about them. Won't be a hardship. :)

So yes. good book - good series. Enjoying it very very much.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Serpent by Claire North


The Gameshouse - Book 1

This was one of the oddest things I've read in a long time. Deliciously odd. Fantastically odd. Gorgeously odd.

I'm sure there's a term for the way in which this novella was written. Second person POV? Not really. Actually, what it felt like was a storyteller escorting me, the reader, around the story chatting with me while telling the story. It was so very different and a little off-putting for the first ten or twenty pages. The chapters too - the shortest one was a single line, I think and the longest 25+ pages. But it all worked!

And the prose was so beautiful!

I'll tell you what. I am not into audiobooks at all. I lose concentration and just don't enjoy the process, but this book... OMG, THIS BOOK, in the hands of a voice like, ohh....Patrick Stewart? Ooh... Eoin Macken (you remember him, he played Gwaine in the TV show Merlin), he has a lovely storytelling voice. Anyway, in the hands of someone like them, this book would SHINE! Absolutely shine! I don't know who actually DID the audiobook, but it is out there.

It's a fantasy novella? Author KJ Charles called it spec fic. It's set in Venice during the 17th century and while there is no actual magic, there's a very mysterious place called The Gameshouse.

In the end, this was a beautiful, delicious, couldn't-put-it-down read that I enjoyed a whole helluva lot and I will be reading the other two, for sure!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Two Gentlemen of Altona by Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock


Playing the Fool - Book 1

This first book of the Playing the Fool series/trilogy was a fun read. Somewhat light-hearted, this tale of the meeting of the FBI Agent and the con-man read more like White Collar than Blindspot.

I liked both main characters. They each had their set of quirks and flaws that made them more human and it was easy to see what was piquing the interest of one in the other. They had good chemistry, I thought.

The suspenseful aspect of the book wasn't intricate or deep or anything. And that was okay, this was ore of a get-to-know-ya type of story for the characters. I will admit that the part of the FBI plot that had to do with the insider kept me guessing until the end.

The one problem I had was the cliff-hangery ending. I had already bought the other two books of the series when I was halfway through this one, but had no idea that the ending would be so abrupt. I find myself resentful when the endings are so, open-ended for want of a better word. I get that Mac and Henry's tale is far from over, but jeez!!!

Anyway, I have the next two ready to go whenever I'm ready to get to them. :) Frequent readers of My Thoughts know I hate to binge read a series. :)

So, yeah, good book. :)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Rise of Io by Wesley Chu


This book was recommended by a few of the sci-fi/fantasy authors that I follow on Twitter so when it showed up priced at a reasonable price on pre-order, I did just that and pre-ordered it. :)

Were it not for those recs, I would never have picked it up. It sort of sounds like a New Adult type novel, which I dislike a lot. I don't usually read a lot of science fiction, being more of a fantasy afficionado. And the cover doesn't speak to me. *LOL*

But I'm glad I picked it up because it was quite a fun read! I enjoyed the characters, even the bad ones! The plot was full of twists and turns and at one point a little over half the way through, Chu gives the story a hard left turn that left me quite blinkity-eyed. I wasn't sure he could pull it off satisfactorily, but in the end, yes, it did work and it made things rather interesting.

So now I want more about Ella and Io and Cameron and the rest of them! And I have added another author to my list. :) I will have to check out his other works.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Fish Out Of Water by Amy Lane


So one of my faves, Amy Lane, has turned her hand to trying one of my favourite sub-genres, romantic suspense! And the results are pretty damned good!

I love this set of MCs. Jackson is just such a guy! And Ellery is like a sexy... I want to say Felix Unger! *LOL* I like how they mesh together, and how Ellery turns out to be the driving force behind the relationship. He's so... SURE and competent and positive and I really, really liked him. :)

The cast of secondary characters is quite wonderful too. Amy is an excellent creator of unexpected families. Jackson's nextdoor neighbour, Mike, I think is my favourite. Ellery's mom is a very close second. (I saw Christine Baranski in my mind's eye whenever she appeared on the page.)

And for those who are bemoaning that this book isn't as 'sweet' as Amy's usual fare... well of course not! These are MEN, not youths! There were definitely spots of sweetness though, and if those readers didn't catch them, then maybe they need to slow down and actually read the damned book.

And yes, it is the first of a series. (I honestly don't think there's a romance writer out there who is capable of writing standalone novels any more.) And that's good news because I am quite eager to head off 'fishing' once again!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Wall of Storms by Ken Liu


The Dandelion Dynasty - Book 2

I took a long while to read this one because, not only was it a big read, it was so delicious that I had to savour it, like a beautifully aged single malt.

I found the first half of the book somewhat slow, but the writing is so gorgeous that it really didn't matter. We have moved on to the next generation of characters from those that starred in the first book, Grace of Kings.

Ideas are put forward about culture and war and power and equality that make a person stop and ponder things for a while. It's never as simple as right and wrong, or black and white. The characters are multi-dimensional and all have flaws as well as good qualities and while there were times when I knew exactly what they'd do, there were other times when I was surprised by the paths they took.

And I have to say, I love how small things that happen in the beginning of the book, come back around and end up being something really, really important.

Ken Liu is a wonderful talent and he writes EXCELLENT books! I highly recommend this series if you're looking for something to sink your teeth into, something that tastes fresh and new and different. :) I can't wait for the third book!!

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Andy Cohen Diaries by Andy Cohen


It truly is a diary. Don't be reading this if you're looking for a cohesive narrative, but you enjoy an entertaining stream of consciousness, then this is your book!

Andy Cohen knows EVERYBODY! And he seems to have an opinion or three on them all.

This was really a very entertaining read, so much so that I'm waiting for his first book, Most Talkative, to go on sale and then I'll pick it up.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny


Chief Inspector Gamache - Book 9

How the Light Gets In is, in my humble opinion, the best Inspector Gamache novel yet, hands down.

This is the 9th Gamache book and it seems as if we've been building towards this tale and this climax from the very beginning of the series. Well, I guess it doesn't just seem that way, we actually have.

We have the mystery du jour, which has to do with a set of quintuplets inspired by the famed Dionne Quints. It's interesting and does keep one guessing until late in the book. But I think, far more important, is the way the mystery mirrors what the characters we have come to love (and hate) are going through in the over-arcing - through 9 books - mystery of the Sureté.

My emotions have never been twisted and played so much by a freaking mystery! These characters - man, oh man, I've come to love them so much - they have already gone through so much and in this book, they go through so much more! Whether it be Gamache himself, or his closest team members, Beauvoir and Lacoste, or the denizens of Three Pines ( and yes, thank God, we go back to Three Pines), especially Olivier and Ruth - this volume of the series brings watershed moments for all of them, I think.

There is one scene in the last few chapters, where I actually broke down and sobbed for what was on the page! The love, the hope, the loyalty, the trust... OMG, it was amazing. And of course, on the other hand, we have the hate, the jealousy, the evil, the betrayal and every emotion, the positive and the negative, they're just so damned real!

I don't know where we go from here. I have two more books in my TBR pile and then the latest book, #12 to get and then I'll be all up to date. The author has mentioned though, that she has started the next book, so that's very good news!
I want to mention, as well, while I was reading this book and the previous one, the author has been going through the loss of her beloved husband. My condolences, Louise.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny


Chief Inspector Gamache - Book 8

This 8th book of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache quite honestly broke my heart a little.

Louise Penny doesn't just write mysteries, she writes about human beings. People in all sorts of troubles, with all sorts of flaws, and with both moments of deepest despair and the supreme joy. I guess one could say she writes about the human condition - unless that's too much of a cliché. :)

So for the first time, we do not visit Three Pines. We don't even really get a mention of Three Pines and I think that's by deliberate design. Three Pines is a place of healing and peace, (despite being the per capita murder capitol of Quebec) and there is really not a lot of peace and healing to be found by the end of The Beautiful Mystery.

The murder occurs in a monastery hidden deep in the wilderness of Quebec and the only members of the Sureté sent to investigate are Gamache and his second in command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir.

Now, I had thought that since the end of the previous book, A Trick of the Light, things were on the upswing with Gamache and Beauvoir, and the first half of The Beautiful Mystery seemed to bear that out. Then it all goes to hell. The problems of the monastery are reflected in the problems of the Sureté and the problems of Jean-Guy and Armand and I have to say that I finished the last quarter of the book with a palpable feeling of dread. One that did NOT disappear with the closing lines - so I started the next book right away and those that know me, know I don't DO that. *LOL*

I have to say that I didn't completely get all the details of the explanation of the mystery. I didn't matter though, not really, I understood the emotions behind the actions. :)

So, yes, I am on Book 9 (and weeping because I only have 2 more after this and then the new one that just came out) and I can honestly say that I love this series more and more with every book.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Enjoy the Dance by Heidi Cullinan


Dancing - Book 2

I was able to read this early because I am a patron of Heidi's on :)

Heidi is one of my favourite authors and I was so looking forward to this book, the second book in the Dancing series. The first one, Dance With Me, was the first book of Heidi's that I ever read and I adored it, so I was very eager to read this long-awaited sequel.

The first quarter of Enjoy the Dance was disappointing. (And it kills me to say it.) I felt as if I was reading a series of articles on the GLBQT homeless youth community in Minnesota. I understand that this is a subject very dear to the author's heart and it should be important to all of us, but selfishly, I didn't want to feel lectured while reading about Spenser and Tomas' love story, and that's how I felt during the first quarter of the book while the teenager that brings them together, Duon, got settled. I learned little about any of the characters - and characters that I love are Heidi's strong suit, so this was especially disappointing. I know the author possesses the talent to make her readers aware of all this stuff through the presentation of her characters, but it didn't happen this time, I'm afraid.

But the other three-quarters of the book were WONDERFUL! The characters came to life, the relationships were created and things began to move forward. Spenser, the kindergarten teacher is a lovely character. Calm, sweet, smart, instinctively wise... I liked him an awful lot. The object of his affections, the fellow who lives across the hall, Tomas, is the dancer and some of my favourite scenes have to do with him dancing with Duon and Laurie (one of the MCs from the first book) en pointe.

Spenser and Tomas fall in love easily and quietly and simply, despite all the hurdles they have to overcome - Duon's future with them, marriage equality, immigration problems, prejudice at Spenser's job, Spenser's scars from his youth in the system... my GOD there were alot of them! And I ended up in tears more than a couple of times during the final chapters.

So, despite the near lifeless read of the first quarter of the book, the rest of it picked up most wonderfully and gave me the Heidi read I love so much.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Sims by F. Paul Wilson


Sims was recommended to me by my friend Mike when I expressed an interest in Wilson's latest novel, Panacea, and was going to have to wait because I won't pay $14 for an ebook.

I really enjoyed it! It was a real page turner, I have to say. Part of that was helped by the way that Wilson wrote the book, using mostly small chapters which gives the book a brisk pacing perfect for a thriller.

There were some nice twists and turns in the book, some that I saw coming and some that I didn't. But I think it's okay to see some because then you don't feel like a moron while you're reading. *LOL* I loved the character of Patrick, the lawyer, and I loved the sim Tome. The bad guys were suitably bad and the good guys were suitably good, as should be. I did find myself wondering a bit at the epilogue about what Patrick was actually doing - everyone else important was accounted for and I had to take off a half a star for that.

I wonder why they never made a movie out of this book, it would seem to me to be a perfect property.

So, yup, I really enjoyed my read. :)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fairs' Point by Melissa Scott


Astreiant - Book 4

From one police procedural to the next, it seems. This one, Fairs' Point is set in the fantasy city of Astreiant and is the fourth in the series starring Nicco Rathe, the cop and Phillip Eslingen, the soldier as they solve the latest mystery to come their way.

The story takes place around the yearly dog races and Phillip actually acquires a young pup. I must say, the scenes between him, the dog and the young dog trainer, Naimi, that he hires to take care of the young racing dog are some of my favourites in the book.

We meet a few of the characters from the three previous books and it is lovely to see them again. I'm especially fond of Sohier, Rathe's co-worker and wished to see more of her.

The politics of Astreiant are twined around the mystery as they have been in previous books, and once again, they leave me confused, but I think all that means is that I can't extrapolate some of the clues that are laid in the mystery, so when the climax comes, I'm more surprised than maybe the average reader. *LOL*

Phillip is still my fave of faves and I'm very glad he and Nicco are settling into their relationship, and are able to solve the bumps that come along the way. They make for a good partnership all around! :)

Hopefully Melissa Scott is working on the next in the series, Point of Sighs, because I need more of this whole cast of characters. I hear hints that it might be about Rathe's friend, Istre b’Estorr, who I quite adore too.

In short, I just need more Astreiant!

Vigilante Season by Peter Kirby


Luc Vanier - Book 2

I enjoyed this second of the Luc Vanier crime novels. While I don't love Luc Vanier in the way that I love Armand Gamache, I do appreciate and enjoy his darker and grittier tales.

Set in Montreal once again, this time focussing on the Hochelaga district, Peter Kirby gets the atmosphere and locale pretty much bang on. And this time, there's quite a bit of despair and darkness swirling around our hero, with the seemingly-hopeless case and the problems in his own personal life. To be honest, while I don't mind gritty and rough, I could have done with a little less doom and gloom. Mind you, there is a dark side to many things Quebecois and Montrealais, so... I guess it makes sense. *LOL*

So, all in all, a good read and one I can recommend if you like gritty police procedurals.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Black Dog Blues by Rhys Ford


Kai Gracen - Book 1

Ah, Rhys Ford has steadily become one of my go-to authors. She never disappoints and often even totally delights. Like this time. :)

Black Dog Blues is the first of the Kai Gracen series - a post-apocalyptic urban fantasy type series. What's happened, you see, is that the lands of the Sidhe, the elvin (as Rhys calls them) have merged with the lands of mankind. This premise hits a lot of my sweet spots, I have to say.

Whereas Rhys usually writes a lot of steamy sexytimes and intense romance, this series is different. It's really fantasy, pure and simple, with elves and magic and dark creatures and adventure and while there is a romantic element and Kai is definitely a sexy, sexy creature... it's just a small part of the story so far. This is, after all, Book One. Quite honestly, the few steamyish elements almost felt... out of place, maybe? I did like how the relationship between Kai and Ryder ( the elvin lord) grew and made it from a bad place to a good one. And their banter... Rhys is really good with banter and I love that!

I really enjoyed the world building that went into this ,even though there were times I felt something must be missing, but I think we'll find out more and more as time goes on.

So I really loved this in the end. One of my faves stepping a bit outside of her norm and making it work. And you know... there wasn't a jarring or manipulative cliffhanger - so I gave it an extra half star because Rhys... .well, she loves those damned cliffhangers that I hate. *LOL*
I'm glad I have book 2 (which just came out) already in my Kobo!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Map of Bones by James Rollins


Sigma Force - Book 2

Map of Bones wasn't bad. I had been hoping for more of an early Tom Clancy type of read, but this was a little thin on most counts.

There was a lot of exposition, feeling as if one character telling the others the whole history of the world at times. It certainly shows off that the author did a lot of research. I found it all a bit complicated and more than once it felt like a bit of a slog to get through things and get down to the action.

The characters were okay - generic techno-thriller types with an interesting quirk or two that I thought could have been explored a little more. There was a bit of a romance as there often is in this type of book, but it never hooked me. I actually wanted to know more about what was going on with a couple of the secondary characters more than the main couple.

There were some interesting twists and turns and one HELLUVA twist that managed to catch me completely by surprise. I wanted more about the motivations though.

All in all, this was a pleasant read and should the others in the series (yes, this is apparently the second of the Sigma Force books even though Kobo says it's the 1st.), go on sale for a reasonable price, I'll pick them up. I wonder if they'll deal with the same characters at all? Hmm...

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny


Chief Inspector Gamache - Book 7

It's no secret by this time that Louise Penny is one of my most favourite mystery writers, indeed one of my fave writers PERIOD. A Trick of the Light just reaffirms those facts. :)

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is back with his team, Beauvoir and Lacoste, but after the events of the previous two books, he's changed and in some ways it's for the better, but in a couple of subtle ways, maybe not.

The mystery hits close to home in Three Pines and our good friends Clara and Peter are very much involved. Lots of change there too. There are definitely troubles to get past for most of the cast. Gamache, Beauvoir, Olivier, Clara and Peter... they all have decisions to make and paths to chose.

The mystery, while it's very good and very much in the front of the tale, also reflects what's going on in the regular characters' lives. There are layers in Penny's books, thoughtful and insightful layers. That's why I can't classify them as cosy mysteries - they are so very much more than that. They just juicy and deep and enjoyable and thoughtful and ... well... I love the characters. Even when they're being their terrifically flawed selves - maybe especially then. :)

Damn, I love these books!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Emerald Storm by Michael J. Sullivan


Riyria Revelations - Book 4

I loved this installment of the Riyria Revelations - book 4 if you're keeping count.

My favourite fantasy brothers-in-arms, Royce and Hadrian are back, this time, their travels taking them to sea on the ship, The Emerald Storm. We meet some new characters, Wyatt, Poe, Wesley who bring some surprises to the tale. :)

We also get to follow Arista as she takes on more of her mantle as a magic-wielder. And Modina and Amelia, empress and 'secretary', are back too.

While this book mainly centered on the high-seas adventure and some growth happening back at the empress' residence and the plots therein - it also felt like a big set-up for the next two books in the series (which I went and purchased as soon as I finished this one to make sure I had them in the ereader for when I wanted them. *LOL*). Oddly, this didn't bother me as much as it might have, I suppose because both plot lines were exciting and engrossing enough on their own.

This is classic epic fantasy done well and I'm enjoying the series immensely!

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Spare by Carolyn Jewel


This book was recced to me by a fellow romance reader on Twitter and while I can't say it was the best recommendation I've ever received, it was certainly a decent rec.

I enjoyed the book even though I didn't much like most of the characters. That's odd for me because I'm pretty much a character driven reader. I'll forgive a ton of stuff if I love the characters. But these two MCs, Sebastian and Olivia... damn... I struggled with them. But I kept reading, and enjoying my read. *LOL* I dunno.. go figure.

I found the writing a little disjointed at times, had a feeling I'd missed some vital scene or explanation or something along those lines. And the climax of the book... well... it felt as if it was missing something, that it wasn't as monumental as it felt like it should have been. There were tantalising little details that were dropped - like the red-headed guy in the picture of the long-ago earl - that I didn't feel were picked up on. But I have to say that the connection between Sebastian and Olivia felt right, even when I wanted to know more about the whys and hows etc...

So while I had a lot of hmmms or raised eyebrows about the book... I honestly ended up enjoying my read. And am pleased that I have 2 more of Carolyn Jewel's books to read. Oh... and I don't think this is a series! YAY!!!! (It's a rare thing in romance these days)

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes


Rogues of the Republic - Book 1

It's billed as a fun-filled romp and it's actually pretty much a fun-filled romp. :)

I don't know that it breaks new ground in the fantasy genre, but The Palace Job is very entertaining. It's a heist book and I love heist books. Call it a very early exposure to Ocean's Eleven - the Frank Sinatra original. :)

I liked the fact that the leader of the band of rogues is a woman and she is oh so very capable, but she has flaws too. They all have flaws. Even the shape-changing unicorn. *LOL*

I bought the 3 books (so far) of the Rogues of the Republic series when they were on sale - a guts call - and I'm glad I did. The Palace Job was a really fun read and I'm looking forward to getting around to the other two. (Remember, I don't binge read series.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Absinthe of Malice by Rhys Ford


Sinners Series - Book 5

And we return to the world of Sinners with this 5th book in the series. :)

The band is out on the road, getting to know each other, learning how to work together as a band and hopefully to bond. There is music, many adventures, deep thoughts, a few threats and of course, amidst all this band stuff, we get the Morgan men being there for their partners, still learning about them and doing a lot of loving.

I enjoyed it! The book was mostly a furthering growth of the characters, I thought. I would have liked to see more of Rafe and Quinn, but I guess when you have 4 band members relationships, 4 couples relationships and then the whole Morgan family relationships to deal with, something's got to give.

And then... then there's what seems to be the obligatory Rhys Ford cliffhanger. *SIGH* I love Rhys' books to bits, but I hate... HATE this need of hers for these damned cliffhangers. Her books don't NEED them, they're good enough that they don't need this so very obvious hook to go on to the next one.

That being said... I thought the Sinner's series was finished with this volume, but... I guess not! *LOL*

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny


Chief Inspector Gamache - Book 6

Have you ever finished a book and just wandered about aimlessly, unable to settle at doing anything, unable to concentrate because you're just busy feeling? That's how I've felt for the past hour or thereabouts. Since I finished Bury Your Dead.

Moonlight Murder was right. It was indeed a devastating emotional onslaught. SO many times my throat got real tight and I'm pretty sure I cried my way through the final 3 chapters.

So The Brutal Telling (Gamache #5) came out in 2009 and Bury Your Dead (Gamache #6) came out in 2010, a year later. HOW did Penny fans last??? *LOL* I'm so glad I didn't have to wait a year between the two. I was able to go directly from one to the other, something I rarely do these days.

Okay, so... the mystery of the murder of the historian was interesting and at times even fascinating - especially for this anglophone Quebecker. I liked the characters we met in Quebec City, especially Gamache's mentor and I loved all the insight we got on Gamache himself. More insight on the man at work than in his personal life this time.

And I loved Beauvoir going back to Three Pines on Gamache's orders. It gave me a different intimate perspective on the Three Pine inhabitants. AND the further insight we get on Beauvoir, although there's one sublot I can see coming a mile away, I just don't know how Penny's going to handle it. :)

The underlying thread through all this is the incident that took place that 'sends' Gamache to Quebec City and thereby Beauvoir to Three Pines. That is what ripped my heart into teeny-tiny pieces. All these characters that I've come to care so much about! All these beautifully flawed human beings. They all, each and every one of them (okay, maybe not Marie-Reine) have a part of them that's unlikable or even unlovable. But I think I love each and every one of them. :)

Maybe I'm babbling, I don't know. This book (and the previous one as well) have left me rather gutted. *LOL* But dammit, this is one excellent, excellent read! So much more than a murder mystery, really.

I'm spent!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny


Chief Inspector Gamache - Book 5

Best one yet!

With this book, I think Louise Penny is now my favourite mystery author, just bypassing Barbara Hambly (Benjamin January Mysteries).

We're back in Three Pines and this book, #5, will rip your heart out. At least it did mine. Louise Penny is not afraid to let her characters experience life in all its myriads of facets. They are so beautifully flawed, each and every one of them.

They mystery had me going and I still don't believe we've solved it. So much so that I went and bought the next in the series (the only one I was missing. I have 7 - 12 but unread.) the minute after I turned the last page. And I'm reading it right away... something I very, very, very seldom do these days.

I really wish I could write a proper review of this book because it was SO SO SO good, but alas, that does not lie within my talents. Just read the books and read them in order because the character arcs of the regulars are just AMAZING!

HIGHLY recommended!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Murder at the Britghtwell by Ashley Weaver


Amory Ames Mysteries - Book 1

The reason I bought this was because of the cover. :) Is it not gorgeous? It caught my eye immediately and since the blurb sounded rather interesting, I had to have it.

It's touted as a Christie-esque mystery and I guess it's so, because it concerns a group of people brought together in a confined situation where any of them could be the murderer. Set at a classy seaside resort in 1930s England, it's got plenty of atmosphere and numerous red herrings to the point where I was honestly never certain who the murderer could have been until near the end.

Amory Ames is a woman of her time and circumstance, I think. Looked upon with today's eyes, I can see how some might find her a bit.. unassuming... but honestly, we are reading about the 1930s high society in Britain, okay? She works. I liked her.

And I liked her husband Milo, despite his being an absolute jerk more than once. I think there's much more to him beneath that smooth and suave exterior and hopefully we find out more about him over the other books.

Anyway, I much enjoyed it and once the price comes down on the others (there are 2 of them and they're $12.99 each for the ebook - too steep for me!) I shall pick them up. :)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Star Trek Seekers: Second Nature by David Mack


Star Trek Seekers - Book 1

Welp... I think I'm over reading Star Trek books.

I've not read one in a very, very long time, but since I was in a Star Trek frame of mind, what with talk of the new series, going to see the movie etc..., when this book came up on sale at Kobo, I thought, what do I have to lose other than a couple of bucks and a few hours.

Well... I lost a couple of bucks and a few hours. *LOL*

I found the whole book to be flat and one dimensional and the plot... well... okay. I wasn't terribly invested. And the main characters, the crew of the Sagittarius, well, I wanted to put them all on report! Couldn't find a single likable one in the bunch, sadly.

So... I think I'm over them.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Signal Boost by Alyssa Cole


Off the Grid - Book 2

I have been sorely slacking at updating My Thoughts on the books I've read recently. No good reason. *LOL*

Anyway... Signal Boost. This is the second of the Off The Grid trilogy and it stars the younger brother of the first book's hero. He comes across another young man in the family garden who he's immediately attracted to and in a couple of days they're heading off to the university to offer their help to whoever, they assume, is doing something about the flare that knocked everything... well... off the grid. *g*

So, this one is definitely more like a New Adult novel and as a result I was not as enamoured of it as I was hoping. I have a very hard time relating to the characters, most of them, because they are young and, well, need a bit of a shake. *LOL*

While not my speed, I'm pretty sure that many will enjoy this book as much as if not more than the previous one. :)

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Mr. and Mr. Smith by HelenKay Dimon


Tough Love - Book 1

This was a fun read. Hit all the right buttons for me. If you're a fan of Abi Roux's Cut & Run series or S.E. Jakes Hell or High Water series, you'll love this series.

Mr. and Mr. Smith is the first in the Tough Love series, stories about rough, tough undercover type agents and soldiers going after the bad guys and having hot sex and falling for each other along the way. Lots of what I call 'fun guy banter' too. This is the story of Fisher and Zach and the beginning of what I assume is going to be the series arc.

It doesn't break any new ground really, but it is an action-filled, fun, hot romp filled with a whole bunch of lovely men and it really hit the spot. One of the scenes early on reminded me a lot of a scene from one of my favourite TV shows, Strike Back, and that was quite alright by me!

I'm looking forward to the next book in the series, The Talented Mr. Rivers.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Murder Stone by Louise Penny


Chief Inspector Gamache - Book 4

My favourite Inspector Gamache yet!

#4 in the series, this mystery feels a little more intimate because we don't see a lot of the workings of the Sureté this time around. Things focus far more on Inspector Gamache's personal life and history. Jean Guy Beauvoir and Agent Lacoste are back to help Armand solve the murder of one of the guests at the Gamache's vacation spot. It's not in Three Pines, this time around, but we do get a quick trip to our favourite village and Peter and Clara Morrow play a highly significant and important role in the doings.

One of the best things about the book was the expanding of Armand and Marie-Reine's marriage and on-going love story and we learn one heckuva lot about Armand's background and childhood. From the grand scale of the Sureté scandal of the first three books, this more personal look at our hero's life is just wonderful!

The way all the little mysteries and questions of the book get wrapped up with the big mystery in the last 3 chapters was terrific and made the utmost of sense and again I find myself saying "Why didn't I see that?!".

And because this was a more intimate look into Armand Gamache's life, I found myself tearing up more than a couple of times in those chapters.

I love these books. I love how Louise Penny weaves a story and I love, love, LOVE her characters.

(Published as A Rule Against Murder in the US.)

The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann


Troubleshooters - Book 1

So this is Troubleshooters Book 1 and the blurb seemed to hit all my happy buttons, but man oh man, talk about the execution not living up to the premise.

Both of the main characters are really dumb about their interactions. I mean... REALLY EFFING DUMB. Had they paused to actually talk about a few things, few misconceptions, like most people in their mid-thirties might, I might have bought their conflict more, but as it was, I spent a good part of the book wanting to throttle them.

The parts of the book that were about them, that is. A good part of the novel is taken up by flashbacks to WW 2 and the story of the hero's uncle and the heroine's father and the woman they both loved. Honestly? If she'd wanted to write about them, she could have actually written a prequel - and maybe it's me, but I didn't really see what that whole story had to do with the love story between Tom and Kelly.

I don't know, I felt like the author was trying to tell too many stories at one time, hopefully finding a way to link them all together via theme? If so, I was too stupid to get the theme, I guess. I just found it tiresome.

It's too bad because I thought the basic international terrorist and the gang of misfits trying to stop him was a great story that somehow got really short shrift with all the other crap going on.

I was disappointed.

Sing the Four Quarters by Tanya Huff


Quarters - Book 1

How had I missed this? It was published back in 1994 and is really right up my fantasy alley. And I do enjoy Tanya Huff. I have no excuse. *LOL* Miss it, I did. But I have rectified that mistake!

What an enjoyable read! From start to finish, Sing the Four Quarters was a delight. The world-building is original and well-done and the magic is ... what would be the word... internally consistent? IT worked very nicely for me, at any rate.

The real joy of this book, however, is the characters. Oh, they are lovely, filled with amazing qualities and believable flaws. They make mistakes, they get angry, they learn, they grow, they have real emotions... I just loved all of them. And I wanted to learn more about so many of them!

And while this book is not a romance, it does have a very interesting take on sexuality and the making of families. It's not the focus of the book but lies in the skeletons of the world-building and actually creates the story/adventure, I think.

I'm going to read more of this series, that's for sure! I just have to figure out where to go next. :)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Hangman by Louise Penny


Inspector Gamache Series

It's Louise Penny. It's Inspector Armand Gamache. It's Three Pines. What's not to love???

My only complaint? It was far too short. *LOL*

Sloe Ride by Rhys Ford


Sinners Series - Book 4

The 4th book in the Sinners series stars the 3rd of all those Morgan brothers (I think there are 7 brothers and one sister) and the man destined to become the band's bass player.

I think that Quinn and Rafe just might be my favourite of all the Sinners pairings. I love how Rafe just gets Quinn and doesn't question the whys or wherefores of it all. They really are quite perfect for each other.

I also really enjoyed Quinn's interactions with Miki and Damie. Although I did wonder when the two of them got so damned prickly (read bitchy. *LOL*).

This was a quick read and pretty much a comfort read for me, just what I count on a Rhys Ford to be.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Wicked Gentlemen by Ginn Hale


What a yummy book! Ginn Hale has created two wonderful protagonists in Belimai Sykes, a Prodigal descended from ancient demons and Captain William Harper who is a member of the constabulary aka the Inquisition.

Captain Harper seeks out Belimai's help to solve a series of murders and disappearances and the tale begins. And isn't Belimai Sykes the most delicious of names? The two men don't seem to have much to draw them together at the beginning, but as time goes on, things change... as they will. Their banter, even in the darkest of situations, is immensely enjoyable.

Watching the relationship between these two men grow is delightful. There is not a lot of overt sexytimes to be had, but that's okay by me. I'm not convinced that it would have fit with the atmosphere that the author created. The world building is fascinating. I wanted to know more and more about the Prodigals and how they were descended from the one-time angels cast out of heaven and the other-wordly powers they have. Fascinating.

I do hope that Ginn Hale brings us more of this world and these characters. They are WONDERFUL!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay


This man writes the most beautiful books. I can totally immerse myself in the worlds he creates, worlds that are almost ours but just a step to the left. :) He does things with words and sentences that should be so completely wrong, but they work! THEY WORK!

Along with amazingly real worlds, GGK creates the most real and intriguing characters, be they rulers or workers, priests or artists, they're all so complete and authentic. If I stop to think about it, it boggles my mind. In a good way of course!

I wish I was clever enough to write coherently about how I feel about this book, but I just want to stand up and shake my hands while jumping up and down. *LOL*

Here's a link to a review by someone who says things far more eloquently than I ever could.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Cruellest Month by Louise Penny


Chief Inspector Gamache - Book 3

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has firmly established himself as one of my very most favourite book detectives up there with Benjamin January (Barbara Hambly) and Trixie Belden (Julie Campbell/Katheryn Kenny). I love him, it's as simple as that.

The Cruellest Month is the 3rd of the Inspector Gamache books and not only does it have a fascinating mystery at the centre of it, it also brings to a close what I'm assuming is the first of the Gamache series arcs. (The 12th book is due out this August after all). And it solves both of these things in a very Louise Penny type of way - meaning that it left me very thoughtful about people and what motivates them.

Back to Three Pines we go, of course, and in and around the murder to be solved, we begin to see what exactly makes it special. A place out of time? Sorta. :)

We meet all our old Three Pines friends again, Clara and Peter, Gabri and Olivier, Ruth, Myrna. And we get our team assembled once again too. The stalwart Inspector Beauvoir, Agent Lacoste, Agent Nichol and Officer Lemieux have joined Gamache to solve the mystery of the woman apparently frightened to death in the middle of an Easter Sunday seance.
The growth of all these characters - and the AHA! moments near the end OMG!! - is what elevates this series above the normal police procedural novels. And the way Gamache's mind works sometimes is just amazing!

I love them and I am seriously debating my rule about not immediately jumping to the next book!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Prudence by Gail Carriger


The Custard Protocol - Book 1

Another rollicking romp though an alternate Victorian world full of fun and adventure and wonderfully clever banter. :)

In this book, the first volume of The Custard Protocol, we meet Prudence, the all-grown-up daughter of Alexia and Lord Maccon and the other grown-up little ones from the Parasol Protectorate series. We have the twins, Primrose and Percy as well as the cocky Quesnel. Off they go adventuring in Rue's airship, the Spotted Custard, headed towards India in search of tea.

There is the beginnings of romance, some rambunctious adventures concerning shape-shifters of a different sort, meetings with old friends (that are never long enough - Lyall is still my fave of fave characters, but I have to admit, young Spoo has quite endeared herself to me already), and of course manners and etiquette all over the place.

My only problem was that I kept getting muddled up between Rue and Prim! *LOL* I guess Prudence is too close to Primrose in my old brain. But honestly, that was the only wee complaint I had and it's entirely my own problem.

Another series I'm going to have to collect! :)

Monday, June 27, 2016

Point of Dreams by Melissa Scott & Lisa A. Barnett


Astreiant Book 3

The third installment of the Astreiant followed in the footsteps of the first two (Point of Knives and Point of Hopes) and was very, very good. We continue to follow our heroes, Nico Rathe, the pointsman and Philip Eslingen, the one-time solder on the latest of their mysteries. This one concerns flowers, the theatre, and the nobility.
Philip is now working as a member of the Masters of the Guild of Defense, who provide all military and/or fighting performances in Astreiant's theatres. There are murders in the theatre and environs where he's working and since the theatre district is in the point (district) served by the Point of Dreams, Nico takes it on. Thereby hangs the tale.

In this book, we get to meet Nico's mother, which I really liked. Nico and Philip's relationship grows and I guess you could say expands to the point where they're openly acknowledging each other as their leman.

My only problem - and the reason I didn't give it 4 stars - was that there was so much stuff about the play being rehearsed and the previous play that I got a tad befuddled at times. And, there were a few big-time secondary characters whose names were similar, all starting with the letter A for some reason.

The Astreiant series has become one of my favourites and I really love both Nico and Philip. :)

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab


Shades of Magic Book 1

I got so involved with my new SIMS 4 game that I forgot to post about this read! YIKES!!!


I really, really enjoyed it. It was recommended on a lot of Best Books of lists and I think deservedly so. Even if it is sort of YA/NA. The writing was very good, the author's voice fresh, the plot really interesting and the world building was stellar. The characters were good too. A little stereotypical, but that might have been down to their youth - around 20ish years old.

It will be interesting to see where the author takes the next book. And how the characters will grow. I'm looking forward to it. :)