Thoughts about books I’ve read–Jan 2018

I’m trying something a little different for some of my reviews this year. I’ve only done a few stand-alone reviews so far this year so I’m going to do a post about the books I read each month, I will list all the books I read (in this case January 2018) and write a few sentences about each one and give a link to the review if I’ve already reviewed the book. I really want to get my reviews under control.

The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch

The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch

Series: Peter Grant #5.5

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Novella

Source: Ebook, purchased

129 pages

My Rating: B+

Reviewed: April 19

Bottom Line: A quick read, but a satisfying story. Great for Peter Grant fans.

;The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine ArdenThe Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Series: Winternight Trilogy #1

Genre: Historical Fantasy, FairyTale Retelling

Source: Audiobook, library (11 hours, 48 minutes)

Narrator: Kathleen Gati

346 Pages

My thoughts

I listened to the audiobook and loved the narrator. She does a really good job with this historical fantasy. I think this is a good book to listen to since it’s a fairy tale retelling and I think fairy tales are great to read aloud. It reminded me of when my mother would read fairy tales to me when I was a child–especially ones like “East o’ the Sun, West o’ the Moon.”

The story kept me guessing about how it would end especially since fairy tales told by Hans Christian Anderson or the Brothers Grimm do not always end well for the main characters. The setting is in a fantasy medieval Russia–very exotic. This has so many fairy tale images–a stepmother and stepsisters, a nanny who tells the old stories of magic and spirits and how the smart people honor these spirits. Vasilisa loves the old stories and follows her nanny’s teachings which puts her in opposition to her stepmother. A wonderful story with memorable characters . . . a true tribute to fairy tales.

My Rating: A

Narrator Rating: A

A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna RaybournA Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn

Series: Veronica Speedwell #2

Genre: Historical Mystery

Source: Ebook, library

338 Pages

My thoughts

I read the first book in the series when it came out. I’ve read a number of Deanna Raybourn books through the years and enjoyed them. I liked the first book in the series more than this one–maybe the setting seemed newer to me in the first book. However, that may have more to do with me and my mood when I read this one. I do like the main characters–Veronica Speedwell and Stoker. (The books remind me a little of Jayne Ann Krentz’s books when she writes books set in the 1800s using the pseudonym Amanda Quick.)

This is quick, fun, light reading. However, I’m not sure I’ll read the next book  since this didn’t holding my interest as much as the first book.

My Rating: B-

Evan Help Us by Rhys BowenEvan Help Us by Rhys Bowen

Series: Constable Evans #2

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Source: Audiobook, purchased (6 hours, 52 minutes)

Narrated by Roger Clark

223 Pages

My thoughts

This is a series Rhys Bowen wrote before her Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness series. I love the setting in Wales and Evan Evans is a very fun character. (He reminds me of Hamish in the Hamish MacBeth series by M.C Beaton.)

I like the cover of this book since the story is about someone in the village finding ruins. The villagers immediately begin thinking the ruins must be a castle and that it will put the village on the map. They even think about renaming their village! Then the person who found the ruins is murdered. Does his murder have something to do with the discovery of the ruins?

I listened to the first book in the series last December and I really like this series. In my genealogy research it looks like some of my ancestors came from Wales to the United States in the 1700s. I have someone in my family tree named “Ellis Ellis!” So that makes me love the Welsh setting even more! I also like how Ms. Bowen shows that the villagers don’t like incomers–especially from England. If the villagers are speaking English they quickly switch to Welsh! It’s these little touches which make me like this series.

My Rating: B

Narrator Rating: B

Summon the Keeper by Tanya HuffSummon the Keeper by Tanya Huff

Series: Keeper Chronicles #1

Genre: Fantasy

Source: Ebook, purchased

366 pages

My Rating: B-

Reviewed: April 17

Bottom Line: This was fun, but a little too cute. Not my favorite Tanya Huff book.

A Dragon of a Different Color by Rachel AaronA Dragon of a Different Color by Rachel Aaron

Series: Heartstrikers #4

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Source: Ebook, Kindle Unlimited

525 Pages

My thoughts

One of my favorite series and now there’s only one more book before the series ends. That makes me sad since I love the characters and feel the world building is excellent. However, I’m glad when an author decides a series is finished and ends it so they can move on to other stories they want to tell.

A Dragon of a Different Color really moved the story along and I can see an ending in sight! It seems things just keep getting worse and worse for Julian and the Heartstrikers. Lots of things he thought he knew and understood are in doubt–including who he can trust. Julius has gone through so much, lost so much and in this book there is more to come.

The arrival of the dragons of China is very dramatic and it doesn’t look good for the Heartstrikers. It’s hard for Julius to show much interest in what’s happening, but he has to continue to step up. And, of course, all is not as it seems. If you haven’t read the books before this one you really need to read them before you read this one. And I do recommend you read this series especially if you like fantasy, urban fantasy, good world building, dragons and good story telling!

My Rating: B+

Starman Jones by Robert A Heinlein

Starman Jones by Robert A. Heinlein

Series: None

Genre: Science Fiction

Source: Audiobook, purchased

272 pages

My Rating: A-

Reviewed: March 30

Bottom Line: One of Heinlein’s Juvenile series and a good science fiction adventure story.

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Does this format I’m trying out work for you to show my mini reviews as well as links to my reviews.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

Mini reviews: from Ben Arronovitch’s Peter Grant series

I read several stories in Ben Arronovitch’s Peter Grant series since the first of the year. I’ve grouped them together since they are all short works. One is a novella, one a graphic novel and the other a short audiobook. I’ve also only written mini reviews for each work.

The Furthest Station by Ben Arronovitch

Series: Peter Grant #5.5

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Police Procedural, Novella

Setting: England

129 pages

Synopsis: There have been ghosts on the London Underground, sad, harmless spectres whose presence does little more than give a frisson to travelling and boost tourism. But now there’s a rash of sightings on the Metropolitan Line and these ghosts are frightening, aggressive and seem to be looking for something.

My thoughts

This is short, but the author tells a complete story. I enjoyed reading about ghosts on the London Underground. Mostly the ghosts on the Underground are harmless, but now there are more ghosts appearing and they’re very aggressive. They’re scaring passengers so PC Peter Grant is sent to investigate. This is a quick read and a good one for Peter Grant fans.

My Rating: B+

Rivers of London: Body Work by Ben Aaronovitch & Andrew Cartmel

Series: Peter Grant/Rivers of London Graphic Novels #1

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Graphic Novel

Setting: England

Synopsis: Peter Grant having become the first English Apprentice wizard in fifty years must immediately deal with two different but ultimately inter-related cases.In one he must find what is possessing ordinary people and turning them into vicious killers and in the second he must broker a peace between the two warring gods of the River Thames.

My thoughts

This is the first graphic novel I’ve read in a while and I enjoyed it. I think the fact that I read the Peter Grant print series helped me understand the characters better in the graphic novel–especially since I don’t read graphic novels very often. This graphic novel is a new story, not just a retelling of a story in the print series. I like that a lot. It’s always fun to read a new Peter Grant story and the illustrations gave the story a different dimension. I still like print stories better than a graphic novel since I like to picture the events in my head as I’m reading. However, it’s always nice to broaden my horizons a bit.

My Rating: B

A Rare Book of Cunning Device by Ben Aaronovitch

Series: Peter Grant #6.5

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Audiobook

Narrator: Kobna Holdbrook-Smith

Length: 29 minutes

Setting: The British Library

Synopsis: Somewhere amongst the shadowy stacks and the many basements of the British library, something is very much amiss – and we’re not talking late returns here. Is it a ghost, or something much worse? PC Peter Grant really isn’t looking forward to finding out….

My thoughts

This is very short–only 29 minutes–but it’s fun and I enjoyed listening to the audio. I haven’t listened to any of the other books in this series. The narrator is excellent and makes me want to listen to the next book in the series rather than read it.

Within a minute or two of the start of the story something larger than Peter’s dog Toby and with lots of legs runs past and the librarian asks “Tell me that wasn’t a spider?” When Peter reassures her it wasn’t, the librarian comments, “Thank God for that. I can’t stand spiders.” This is funny and a bit of a creepy story!

My Rating: B

Have you read any of the Peter Grant series? How do you like it?

Reading Challenges

Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge hosted by Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My! — The Furthest Station

Swords and Stars Reading Challenge hosted by MsNoseinaBook — Read an SFF graphic novel 

Mini Review: Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff

Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff

Series: Keeper Chronicles #1

Genre: Fantasy

Setting: Canada

Published by DAW, 1998

Source: Ebook, purchased

366 pages

Synopsis: Claire Hansen, the Keeper, is summoned to the Elysian Fields Guest House to reseal a hole in the basement, which is literally an opening to Hell. The owner and monitor of the site disappears, leaving Claire stuck managing the place until the problem is solved. Her new employee, Dean McIssac, is a gorgeous Newfie who cooks, cleans, and lives the Boy Scout oath. Then there’s Jacques Labaet: very French Canadian, very sexy, very dead. Jacques is a ghost who wants to be the man in Claire’s life. Oh yeah, and there’s Austin, a talking cat with attitude: “I barely know you, but I’m assuming you’re human. I’m not saying this is a good thing, it’s just the way it is.” 

My thoughts

This is a quick, fun read. I enjoy Tanya Huff’s books and appreciate the different types of books she writes. The book has a lot of humor and I enjoyed much of that. This isn’t my favorite of the many books of hers I’ve read, but it’s still enjoyable.

The book reminded me a little of The Gale Women series by Ms. Huff. The first book in that series is The Magic Emporium. There is some of the same dynamic between characters in the books. However, I like The Magic Emporium better than this book. I probably will read the second book in the Keeper Chronicles series to see if I like it better than Summon the Keeper.

What I like

I like Claire Hansen and the idea that Keepers clean up messes made by holes torn in the fabric of the universe that leak evil. She comes from a magical family so she has known about keepers all her life. But most people outside their small community don’t know about them.

The evil trying to seep through the hole in the basement furnace room of the guest house is amusing, but determined. It tries to tempt anyone it comes in contact with, but because Claire has magic available it really wants to cause her to slip up and allow more evil through the hole.

Down in the furnace room, having spent the last few hours testing the binding, the intelligence in the pit rested. It would have been panting had it been breathing.

NOTHING HAS CHANGED, it observed sulkily.

. . . SHUT UP!

It also talked to itself.

Dean McIssac is from Newfoundland and has worked at the guest house for a while. He’s the cook and handyman and he loves to clean. A funny reversal of stereotype. Claire also notices he’s quite a hunk–even if he is younger than she is.

The ghost, Jacques Labaet, is very funny, but also a little sad.

And not so much

My main quibble with the book is that although I like cats, I don’t like cats that talk very much–especially when they try to be funny. Austin is Claire’s sidekick and helper and he has an attitude. I just didn’t like it very much.

My Rating: B-

Have you read this book or any others by Tanya Huff? What are your thoughts about her books?

Review: Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz

Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz

Series: Cutler, Sutter & Salinas #2

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Setting: Seattle, Washington and San Juan Islands

Publishing Date: 2018

Source: Ebook from library

Synopsis: Seattle gallery owner Virginia Troy has spent years battling the demons that stem from her childhood time in a cult and the night a fire burned through the compound, killing her mother. And now one of her artists has taken her own life, but not before sending Virginia a last picture: a painting that makes Virginia doubt everything about the so-called suicide—and her own past.

Like Virginia, private investigator Cabot Sutter was one of the children in the cult who survived that fire… and only he can help her now. As they struggle to unravel the clues in the painting, it becomes clear that someone thinks Virginia knows more than she does and that she must be stopped. Thrown into an inferno of desire and deception, Virginia and Cabot draw ever closer to the mystery of their shared memories—and the shocking fate of the one man who still wields the power to destroy everything they hold dear. 

Jayne Ann Krentz is a “comfort read” author for me and this book didn’t disappoint. I haven’t read the first book in the series and though there were a few references to characters from the first book I didn’t feel lost. I am considering reading the first book since I enjoyed this book.

A little background

I enjoyed reading about Virginia Troy who owns an art gallery in Seattle. Even though she had a traumatic childhood, twenty years later she has managed to put a lot of that behind her and is a success. However, she’s aware of some others who survived the cult her mother was a member of who haven’t managed to get past the trauma. When Hannah Brewster, one of the few adults who survived the fire the night the cult was destroyed, dies and her cabin burns to the ground everyone thinks it’s suicide, but  Virginia thinks she might have been murdered. Hannah Brewster was an artist, but her paintings never sold in Virginia’s gallery. They are just too dark for most people. Hannah always painted scenes from the night of the fire at the cult. They always show the children who were at the cult as well as the cult leader. Before Hannah died she sent Virginia a digital camera with a photo showing a wall she painted in her cabin. Hannah notices that this painting of the fire is a little different from others Hannah painted. Since the police and everyone else thinks Hannah committed suicide and that she was crazy, Hannah decides to go to a private detective agency.

Cutler, Sutter and Salinas isn’t just any agency. The private detectives are also survivors of the cult and the police officer who was there that night and who saved the children. Cabot Sutter is one of the surviving children and he’s inclined to agree with Virginia that Hannah’s death should be investigated. Cabot and the rest of the investigators of the agency believe that although Quinton Zane, the leader of the cult, was declared dead that he might have faked his death and that he’s still alive. Cabot is eager to see if he’s behind Hannah’s death.

The romance and the mystery

Cabot and Virginia work together to solve the mystery and though they don’t want to like each other at first they admire each other. The admiration grows as they get to know each other and see the honesty and bravery both show. They were both scarred by their time in the cult, but they have managed to rise above it even though they both have issues. I like the way Ms. Krentz shows their angst as well as their integrity and courage. I felt the romance was real and that it didn’t overtake the mystery.

I also really like Anson Salinas also who was the policeman who saved the children and adopted three of them whose relatives wouldn’t or couldn’t take care of them. He’s very honorable and intelligent. There’s obviously a strong bond between him and the boys he adopted.

There’s a lot of action and adventure in the book that I liked. I didn’t like the parts that are in the antagonist point-of-view as well. I understand why at least some of it was necessary for the story, but still didn’t like those parts as well. The book also surprised me several times which is always fun.

I don’t like romantic suspense as well as a book that’s just a mystery, but thought this was quite well-done. I really do like Jayne Ann Krentz’s writing. These books continue the mystery of the cult and how it’s affecting the present day throughout the series.

My rating: B

Reading Challenge

Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge hosted by Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!

Who done it?

This year I’m trying something different with the books I read. I’m not going to do a separate review for every book I read. I need to shake-up my blog a bit and this is one way I’ve decided to do it.

These are some of the mysteries I’ve read since the first of the year.

Real Murders and A Bone to Pick by Charlaine Harris (Aurora Teagarden series #1 & 2)

Audiobook, purchased, narrated by Thérèse Plummer

Charlaine Harris wrote a new book–Sleep Like a Baby–in this series last fall. I had considered rereading some of the mysteries she wrote before she started writing the Sookie Stackhouse series.

A new book in the Aurora Teagarden series was impetus to start with that series. I own most of the paperbacks in this series and had bought the audio edition of the the first book–Real Murders–which I listened to last fall. I like the narration of this book. I didn’t really remember too much about Real Murders or A Bone to Pick even though I had read them years ago.

Real Murders revolves around Roe Teagarden’s membership in the Real Murders Club. The members are interested in true crime–especially historical cases. Each member tends to specialize in a particular murderer and murders. It’s great fun until the members of the club start dying. The deaths resemble the murders of some of their favorite murderers.

I don’t like true crime so I found their pastime morbid and icky. I did enjoy reading about Roe and the rest of the characters as well as the mystery.

Rating: B-

Paperback, purchased

In A Bone to Pick the Real Murders Club has disbanded and Roe inherits an estate from one of the former members of the club. Inheriting the estate isn’t all roses, however. Roe has many questions. She not only inherits her friend’s house and money, but everything in the house including a skull which was cleverly hidden. Why did her friend leave her all this money and the house? They weren’t that close. Why is the skull hidden in the house? Where is the rest of the body. Did her friend kill someone? Why did someone break into the house?

I like this series. Roe is an engaging character and I like the Southern vibe. (I don’t live in the South. If I lived there that vibe might irritate me!) I like the fact that Roe moves along in her life from the first book to the second book. She embraces the fact that she has inherited an estate and uses that to change things in her life. I also enjoy many of the other recurring characters in the book.

An enjoyable, light read.

Rating: B

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Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths (Ruth Galloway #5)

E-audiobook from the library, narrated by Clare Corbett

dying-fall-by-elly-griffiths

I’ve read three books in this series since the beginning of the year. It’s hard not to gobble them all up since I like this series so much. However, I want to space them out and really savor them! I’ve listened to a few books in this series and really like the narrations.

This book is mostly set in the north of England–in Blackpool–where Harry Nelson is from. Harry and his wife Michelle are there visiting their families. He also visits his old police friends and gets involved in their cases. He also realizes he and his old friends don’t have much in common anymore. It’s always hard to realize that you no longer understand old friends.

Ruth also travels north to investigate what might be King Arthur’s bones. One of Ruth’s old friends discovered the bones, but then died in a house fire. Cathbad comes along and helps take care of Ruth’s toddler daughter Kate. Of course, awkwardness occurs when Ruth and Kate accidentally meet up with Harry and Michelle Nelson.

Sometimes the mood in this book is bittersweet and a number of things change for a number of the characters in this book. The suspense kept me listening as fast as I could!

Rating: B+

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The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths (Ruth Galloway #6)

E-book, purchased

This book continues some of the events which happened to characters in the last book. I like that we learn more about a number of continuing characters throughout these books. They change during these books as well as the main characters. Lots happens to some of the characters in this book.

I like the way Elly Griffiths ties the historical aspects of her books into the present day aspects. She makes them very relevant to her story.

This was a difficult book for me since children are in danger. I don’t like that kind of suspense very well. However, this is a good mystery and I did enjoy it. Still one of my favorite mystery series.

Rating: B

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Dead Man’s Fancy by Keith McCafferty (Sean Stranahan #3)

Trade paperback, purchased (bought in the Country Bookshelf in downtown Bozeman, Montana when we took our road trip last fall)

Sean is an interesting character. He’s originally from the Northeast, but moved to Montana after his marriage failed. He has discovered he fits in so much better than he did in the Northeast. He’s been a fly fisherman since he was a child and he did some private detective work where he lived before.

He’s also an artist so in Montana he sets up a studio where he paints, but also advertises his detective services. He gets a few cases as well as selling some paintings. He meets Sheriff Martha Ettinger during his first investigation–The Royal Wulff Murders. Martha shows up in all the books and the books have a police procedural vibe.

The books revolve around fly fishing and Montana. Each book is named after a named fly tie which has something to do with the murder. I like that aspect. The author is a wildlife writer for outdoor magazines and does a great job with not only the mysteries, but also with the fly fishing aspect of the books. I like reading about the outdoors and fishing. I grew up in Oregon and spent lots of time with my parents camping, hiking and fishing. Other people might not enjoy the fishing aspects of the books so much.

This book has lots of aspects to it. The tension between environmentalists and ranchers as well as wolf lovers and wolf haters. A woman searching for her missing sister. And just who was the missing woman? There are so many contradictions to her. Dead Man’s Fancy has lots of twists and turns which I enjoyed. It’s hard to know exactly what is important and what isn’t.

Rating: B+

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The Armada Boy by Kate Ellis (Wesley Peterson #2)

E-book, Purchased

I recently reviewed the first book in this series–The Merchant’s House.

The mystery of the murder of a WWII American veteran keeps my interest and I find the detective team interesting.

I’m still not completely convinced yet about the archaeology aspects of these books. I do like the excerpts written by a character in this book at the beginning of each chapter talking about the “invasions” in this part of England which tie the Armada invasion with the WWII invasion of American soldiers. Even though the American were allies they completely disrupted life in this part of the world as  the Armada survivors might have done. The American allies weren’t always seen as a positive influence during or after WWII.

I really like the contemporary portions–the mystery and characters make for a good story. I’m looking forward to reading more books in this series.

Rating: B-

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Have you read any of these books? How did you like them?

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Look back and look forward

2016 wasn’t my best book year…

But I did read some good books. My biggest problem was writing reviews. Lots of the books I read did not get reviewed–especially in the latter part of the year. There were good reasons for that, but since there were lots of good books and authors I didn’t highlight I want to change that this year. I also didn’t get to my reading goal last year. That doesn’t bother me too much since I read some good books and found quite a few new authors to read. And anyway that was last year.

So what happened last year?

Lots went on in my personal life:

→  My husband and I decided to retire a few year earlier than planned.

→  We decided to move to Iowa.

→  We bought a house in Iowa last March, but our house in Maryland didn’t sell until the first of October.

→  I moved in April, but my husband moved in July.

→  In September we went on a road trip from Iowa to Washington State. The trip was wonderful–we drove to several national parks including Jasper and Banff in the Canadian Rockies. However, we also hit a deer with our car while still in Canada.

→  Car repair happened in Spokane, Washington, but we didn’t get the car back until around the first of November.

→  About that same time my husband was diagnosed with cancer and started receiving chemotherapy and radiation. Luckily, the type of cancer is treatable and slow-growing.

→  November and December are always very busy family months for me–Thanksgiving and Christmas are wonderful, joyous, busy times of year for us. We were also very busy with my husband’s cancer treatments.

Reading and blogging life

I lost a little of my mojo from October through the end of the year. Reading was still a comfort to me, but I didn’t have time for quite so many books and some of the books I started just didn’t hit the mark and went unfinished.

Part of the lost mojo meant fewer blog posts–especially book reviews.

I made the mistake of requesting extra NetGalley books thinking they would spur on my reading…but not-so-much. I started to think of those books like homework–never a good thing for me. Even books and authors I knew I would enjoy didn’t get read.

Plans for 2017

→  No 2017 reading challenges right now.

→  No in-depth review of how I did with my challenges or my reading in 2016. I just want to move forward.

→  Reviews will restart with the books I read in 2017 plus a few NetGalley books I didn’t get reviewed in 2016.

→  A shake-up in my review style. I just haven’t figured out what yet.

→  I do plan a review post with mini reviews toward the beginning of each month for the books I didn’t review the previous month.

→  Short reviews on Goodreads for 2016 books.

→  I still set my reading goal for 100 books. This is a doable goal, though still means stretching a bit.

→  Finish reading my NetGalley books.

→  And no new NetGalley book requests!

What are your plans for 2017?

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Review: Wake Me When the Sun Goes Down by Lisa Olsen

I am challenging myself to read new authors this year. Luckily I found a blog which is hosting a new author challenge! This challenge–New Author Challenge 2013–is hosted by the Literary Escapism blog.

Wake Me When the Sun Goes Down
by Lisa Olsen
Forged Bloodlines series, book 1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published by: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 2011
E-book, purchased
260 pages
Grade: B+

Synopsis: Anja Evans wakes up in the morgue with a helluva hangover. She chalks it up to a strange brush with death and gets back to her life as a music student in San Francisco. It takes almost eating her best friend before she figures out… she’s a vampire! When a dark and dangerous vampire shows up at her door asking to see her license and registration, Anja assumes Bishop is a regular cop. But breeding among vampires is strictly controlled, and her unlicensed status makes her an enemy of The Order. Struggling to find a balance between her former life and her undead one, Anja tries to blend school and living up to her new identity, all while searching to find the elusive Viking whose blood gave Anja the strength of a vampire hundreds of years old.

Lisa Olsen’s books appears to be self-published. She has written three books in the Forged Bloodlines series now and I’ve read all three since January! She has also written a number of other books.

Ms. Olsen does a good job in Wake Me When the Sun Goes Down introducing Anja, Bishop and the other characters as well as explaining the world she creates. There is humor in these books which I enjoyed and Anja is a likeable character. It’s a fun book to read.

In this world vampires and other paranormal creatures are hidden from humans and intent upon remaining hidden. The Order polices the vampire world and has strict laws about producing new vampires. If the vampire doesn’t have a license to create a new vampire both the vampire and human he has turned are killed by the Order.

Bishop, the powerful Order vampire, who shows up at Anja’s door after she is turned should kill her, but perhaps because she reminds him of someone in his past he lets her live. This all happens before Anja even realizes she is a vampire. She has no memory of who turned her into a vampire and no one steps forward to confess. Thus, she is pretty clueless about being a vampire. This first book is about her stumbling steps while she tries to figure out the vampire world, who sired her and whether she can still live her old human life.

She was a music student and she continues trying to attend classes with varying degrees of success. On the several occasions Anja has problems figuring out the vampire world Bishop reluctantly helps her. It’s evident he’s attracted to her, but he has been in the Order for years and takes his duties seriously. He really wants to forget her and get on with his life, but finds he can’t.

In the next two books in the series–Meet Me When the Sun Goes Down (B)  and Find Me When the Sun Goes Down (B-)–Anja continues her journey of self-discovery. Each book has a mystery which affects her life, but these books are mostly about Anja and how she tries to fit into her new life without losing her humanity. I liked the first two books better than the third book, but will definitely look for the fourth book in the series.

One criticism I have I also have with some other books, too. All the covers and titles in this series are very similar. It’s hard to keep track of them. It’s good to have a brand so readers quickly know the book is part of a series, but I would like a little more individuality. After a few months go by it’s hard to remember which book I read and if the book I’m seeing is a new book. If I don’t have time to investigate further I sometimes put off figuring out which book I’ve read and which I haven’t so I may not get a new book at all.

New Author Challenge–Kate Locke

Last year I read lots of historical romance (13 by the end of February); this year it’s lots of urban fantasy (11 by the end of February). I’ve also found a number of new urban fantasy authors which makes me happy! Because I’m finding many new authors to try this year I’ve joined the New Author Challenge 2013 at the Literary Escapism blog. I’ve challenged myself to read 25 new authors this year. This is my first new author blog post.

This new-to-me author is Kate Locke who is writing The Immortal Empire series. I’m so glad I found Ms. Locke and it’s all because the first book was on sale for $2.99 (the e-book…probably because the second book was coming out in February). I enjoyed the set-up in this first book–the world, the characters and the story.

God Save the Queen 
by Kate Locke
The Immortal Engine, book 1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published by: Orbit, 2012
E-book, purchased
368 pages
Grade: B+

Synopsis: Blood. Bloomers. Bedlam.
The Victorian Era never ended. It’s 2012 and her Ensanguined Majesty is still on the throne, the vampire ruler of the British Empire. There are werewolves too. And Goblins. All brought about by mutations caused by the plague.
 
Xandra Vardan is a half-blood, the daughter of a vampire and a human courtesan. A member of the Royal Guard, she’s supposed to keep the aristocrats (those of plagued blood) safe, but then her little sister goes missing and Xandra stumbles upon a secret that not only changes her life forever, but just might end it if she’s not careful.
 
And just what’s going on at Bedlam Asylum for the Insane?

I do like the premise of Queen Victoria still on the throne because she’s a vampire! This series is a lot of fun to read and the world Kate Locke has built is complex and interesting. The fact that vampires, werewolves and goblins were created because of mutations caused by the plague is interesting. I liked Xandra and her brother and sisters and by the end of this book I was definitely ready for the next book. Because I enjoyed the first book so much I bought the second book as soon as it was available in February!

The Queen is Dead
by Kate Locke
The Immortal Engine, book 2
Grade: B+

Synopsis: Humans are growing restless. Goblins are growing impatient, and the aristocrats are growing…hungry. Disappearances, hormonal human boys and Bubonic Betties — it’s all in a night’s work for Xandra Vardan, reluctant Goblin Queen.
 
Her brother Val has gotten into something way over his head. Someone’s sending not so subtle hints to Xandra (dead rats, anyone?). There’s tension amongst the wolf-pack, and the Human League wants blood. There are rumors of Horror Shows — humans being bled to death for entertainment — and half-bloods are being abducted.
 
Xandra just wants a moment’s peace, but she may have to die to get it.

I liked the second book and am looking forward to the third book (Long Live the Queen) which will be published in November. There is romance in these books, but I don’t view it as paranormal romance (which I tend not to like), because the emphasis is on the story, characters and a complete world which is not the case in many paranormal romances.

Two Urban Fantasy Series from 2012

I ended 2012 and started 2013 reading lots of urban fantasy. I like urban fantasy because they are usually mysteries with a twist…some sort of magical world or elements. The authors have to do some world building as well as usually some sort of mystery. Two of my favorite new-to-me authors from 2012 were Ben Aaronovitch and Cassie Alexander. They both are writing an urban fantasy series that’s interesting and fun to read.

Ben Aaronovitch is writing a series which takes place in London called the Rivers of London series. The three books in the series so far: Midnight Riot (called Rivers of London in the UK), Moon Over Soho and Whispers Under Ground starts with Probationary Constable Peter Grant in Midnight Riot having to guard a crime scene all night. He sees a ghost who talks to him about the crime. His life changes from that point and gets a lot more exciting. I think each book builds on the last one and should be read in order to enjoy them all. I am saving Whispers Under Ground for sometime I’m in a reading slump and need a book I know I will like or for when I know I will be able to get his next book! I broke an informal rule when I bought these books–not to spend the same amount for an e-book as for a mass market book. I’m not sorry I did, because I really like this author, but I sure wish the books were at least a dollar or two less than the paperbacks. A new book is scheduled for sometime in 2013. I hope it is published at the same time in the US as in the UK! BTW, I also enjoy reading his blog–Temporarily Significant!

A second series I read in 2012 by an author I’d never read before are the books by Cassie Alexander. Ms. Alexander is a registered nurse and her books are about Edie Spencer who is also a registered nurse, but Edie works in a secret wing of County Hospital. I’m not a nurse or any kind of medical person, but the hospital rang true to me. I’ve been in several hospitals for surgeries  and I could recognize several things from my stays in the hospitals–but luckily for me, not the fantasy creatures! The two books published so far in the series are Nightshifted and Moonshifted. The third book–Shapeshifted–will be published in June 2013. I’ve read both books in the series so far and enjoyed them. I was able to buy the first book in the series when it was on sale and then bit the bullet and bought the second book at full price! So, authors and publishers take note: sales on e-books do work!

Has anyone else read books in these two series or other new authors they enjoyed?