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.

………………………….

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 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?

Can’t Wait Wednesday: The Privilege of Peace by Tanya Huff

 

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. This is a weekly meme to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. The books I choose aren’t released yet and usually won’t be published for at least two or three months.

I love finding out about books which will publish in future months and I like to share my excitement about the books. I also like to find out about new books on other people’s blogs and hope they’ll sometimes find something to look forward to on my blog.

I’m excited to read . . .

the-privilege-of-peace-by-tanya-huffThe Privilege of Peace by Tanya Huff

Series: Peacekeeper #3

Published by DAW

Publishing date: June 5, 2018

Genre: Science Fiction

336 pages

Synopsis: Former space marine Torin Kerr returns for one final adventure to save the Confederation in the last book in the military science fiction Peacekeeper trilogy.

Warden Torin Kerr has put her past behind her and built a life away from the war and everything that meant. From the good, from the bad. From the heroics, from the betrayal. She’s created a place and purpose for others like her, a way to use their training for the good of the Confederation. She has friends, family, purpose.

Unfortunately, her past refuses to grant her the same absolution. Big Yellow, the ship form of the plastic aliens responsible for the war, returns. The Silsviss test the strength of the Confederation. Torin has to be Gunnery Sergeant Kerr once again and find a way to keep the peace. 

……………….

Torin Kerr (the main character) is such a heroic character. I love reading about her. She’s not perfect and she has her own demons as well as finding it hard to fit in after the end of war. Tanya Huff has done a good job of showing the difficulties warriors and the military sometimes have fitting in to a “peace” society–especially one that isn’t as peaceful as it tries to appear.

This series is a continuation of her military science fiction Confederation series with many of the same characters including Torin Kerr. The second book of the this series really worked for me (better than the first Peacekeeper book) so I’m excited to read this book when it comes out.

A Peace Divided by Tanya Huff

A Peace Divided by Tanya Huff

Peacekeeper 2

Publication date: June 6

e-ARC (from NetGalley and the publisher)

–All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Military Science Fiction

The second book in the action-packed Peacekeeper series, a continuation of Tanya Huff’s military sci-fi Confederation series following Torin Kerr.

Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr had been the very model of a Confederation Marine. No one who’d ever served with her could imagine any circumstance that would see her walking away from the Corps.

Although the war is over, the fight goes on and the Justice Department finds its regular Wardens unable to deal with violence and the people trained to use it. Ex-Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr has a solution: Strike Teams made up of ex-military personnel, small enough to maneuver quickly, able to work together if necessary. Justice has no choice but to implement her idea and Torin puts her team of independent contractors back into uniform. It isn’t war, it is policing, but it often looks much the same.

When the scientists doing a preliminary archaeological dig on a Class Two planet are taken hostage, Torin’s team is sent to free them. The problem of innocents in the line of fire is further complicated by the fact that the mercenaries holding them are a mix of Confederation and Primacy forces, and are looking for a weapon able to destroy the plastic aliens who’d started and maintained the war.

If Torin weren’t already torn by wanting that weapon in play, she also has to contend with the politics of peace that have added members of the Primacy–former enemies–to her team. Before they confront the mercenaries, Torin will have to sift through shifting loyalties as she discovers that the line between”us” and “them” is anything but straight.

……………………..

My thoughts

I’ve read the first book in this series as well as the Confederation series where the saga of Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr began. Now she’s ex-Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr. Now she’s Warden Kerr and the Confederation is supposed to be at peace.

I love reading about Torin Kerr so I am very excited Huff has begun another series featuring Kerr and her compatriots. Kerr is no longer military. Now she and her team–mostly ex-military–are Wardens for the Justice Department. So even though the Confederation is at peace outbreaks of violence are not uncommon. The Confederation has the problem most governments have when they’ve been at war for years: a huge military is no longer needed so what happens to all the retired soldiers? How do they adapt? And if they can’t adapt what will they do to survive? This is exacerbated in the Confederation, because the three species known as the Younger Races (humans, Krai and di’Taykan) were brought into the Confederation specifically to fight the war for the original members of the Confederation who were too “evolved” to fight their own war. When the war ends with a whimper the Younger Races are unhappy since the Elder Races in the Confederation have always viewed them as too violent to have around. Groups like Humans First formed (they show up in An Ancient Peace–the first book in the Peacekeeper series).

I like that Huff shows Kerr has still not completely adapted to civilian life. She’s still troubled by all the death she’s seen–especially the deaths of her troops. She’s had counselling, she knows she still has problems, but like many soldiers she doesn’t like talking about her feelings or her innermost thoughts or problems. She’s doing better, but still has anger issues.

It is so nice that Huff has brought back a number of characters from the original series. Presit is one of my favorites. As always Presit is her lovable, annoying self. When she first appeared in the books I didn’t like her very much and she’s still annoying especially to Kerr, but she’s a fun character to read about. And she moves things along in the plot. Even though Kerr finds her annoying and doesn’t want the press and noncombatants along, Kerr and Presit have a grudging admiration for each other and like each other more than they admit.

It’s also great to see Craig still hanging in there with Kerr. He has his own problems he’s had to deal with. As a former civilian salvage operator he’s used to operating alone on a spaceship where he doesn’t see or interact with anyone for months at a time and no one invades his personal space. At one time he couldn’t tolerate anyone in his ship with him so he’s come a long way now that he’s a Warden and pilot of their ship. He is a counterpoint to Kerr’s military outlook. It is great to see both points-of-view.

I really like some of the Primacy forces who were the enemy in the original series–especially Firiv’vrak and Vertic–and hope we will see more of them in the future. Huff always does a good job making even the strangest sounding alien believable.

If you haven’t read any of the books in either the Confederation series (books 1 through 5) and the Peacekeeper series (books 1 and 2)  you could start with the Peacekeeper series, but don’t forego the pleasure of reading the Confederation series. So many adventures and so many twists plus the truth of war. Such good books!

My rating: B+

WWW Wednesday: April 19

This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived by Taking on a World of Words. The idea is to answer the three questions below. For more information check out the Taking on a World of Words blog.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: I’ve been doing Waiting on Wednesday for quite awhile, but the Breaking the Spine blog is no longer active and though many bloggers are still doing Waiting on Wednesday even without any linkups I’ve decided to try something new on Wednesdays.

Currently reading

The new Peacekeeper series is a continuation of some of the characters and stories from one of my favorite series–the Confederation series. Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr is the main character in both series. I’m very much enjoying this book.

A Peace Divided by Tanya Huff

Peacekeeper #2

Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr had been the very model of a Confederation Marine. No one who’d ever served with her could imagine any circumstance that would see her walking away from the Corps.

But that was before Torin learned the truth about the war the Confederation was fighting…before she’d been declared dead and had spent time in a prison that shouldn’t exist…before she’d learned about the “plastic” beings who were really behind the war between the Confederation and the Others. That was when Torin left the military for good.
Yet she couldn’t walk away from preserving and protecting everything the Confederation represented. Instead, ex-Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr drew together an elite corps of friends and allies–some ex-Marines, some civilians with unique skills–and together they prepared to take on covert missions that the Justice Department and the Corps could not–or would not–officially touch. But after their first major mission, it became obvious that covert operations were not going to be enough.
Although the war is over, the fight goes on and the Justice Department finds its regular Wardens unable to deal with violence and the people trained to use it. Ex-Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr has a solution: Strike Teams made up of ex-military personnel, small enough to maneuver quickly, able to work together if necessary. Justice has no choice but to implement her idea and Torin puts her team of independent contractors back into uniform. It isn’t war, it is policing, but it often looks much the same.
When the scientists doing a preliminary archaeological dig on a Class Two planet are taken hostage, Torin’s team is sent to free them. The problem of innocents in the line of fire is further complicated by the fact that the mercenaries holding them are a mix of Confederation and Primacy forces, and are looking for a weapon able to destroy the plastic aliens who’d started and maintained the war.

If Torin weren’t already torn by wanting that weapon in play, she also has to contend with the politics of peace that have added members of the Primacy–former enemies–to her team. Before they confront the mercenaries, Torin will have to sift through shifting loyalties as she discovers that the line between”us” and “them” is anything but straight.

Recently finished

I’ve read books in this series for about a year and so enjoying it. Molly–named Moonlight by her mother(!)–is an ambitious, brave and intelligent young constable. I love the setting in the mountains of British Columbia.

A Cold White Sun by Vicki Delany

Constable Molly Smith #6

It’s the end of March and Trafalgar, British Columbia, is preparing for the last influx of the seasonal skiers. Teachers, parents, and students are preparing to relax at home or head off on vacation. But for high school English teacher Cathy Lindsay, the week of relaxation doesn’t work out as planned. She’s gunned down by a sniper on a hiking trail, her small dog the only witness.

Cathy Lindsay is an unlikely candidate for a murderous ambush: she was a respected teacher, in an apparently solid marriage to an Internet developer, living a quiet life. Sergeant John Winters, with the help of young Constable Molly Smith, digs into the Lindsay marriage and friendships, searching for a motive, but one thought continually niggles at the back of his mind: is it possible this was not a random killing but a case of mistaken identity?

 

This is a book I received from NetGalley. I was hoping it was a police procedural, but when I began the book I realized the main characters are part-time private detectives. I thought the book was a little unrealistic.

Dead in the Water by Matthew Costello & Neil Richards

Cherringham Novels #1

Dead in the Water is the first full-length novel set in the sleepy English village of Cherringham, featuring the unlikely sleuthing duo Sarah Edwards, an English web designer, and Jack Brennan, American ex-cop. The last episode, A Death in the Family, saw Jack rush back to the US to be with his family, leaving Sarah behind…

On the night of the school prom, popular teacher Josh Owens is found dead in the Thames in a drug-related accident. At first, it seems to be another sign that Cherringham High is spiralling out of control but the new head isn’t so sure, and quietly calls in local sleuth Sarah Edwards. Sarah is initially reluctant to take on the case, especially without Jack. But with the possibility of serious drug dealing at her daughter’s school, she feels compelled to get involved. However, it quickly becomes clear that there is more to Josh’s death than meets the eye, and that Sarah’s own life could be in danger. Solving crimes just isn’t the same without Jack…

Reading next (perhaps)

Silent City by Carrie Smith

Claire Codella Mystery #1

NYPD Detective Claire Codella has just won a tough battle with cancer. Now she has to regain her rightful place on the force. she hasn’t even been back a day when Hector Sanchez, a maverick public school principal, is found murdered. The school is on high alert. The media is howling for answers. And Codella catches the high-profile case at the worst possible time.

As she races to track down the killer, she uncovers dirty politics, questionable contracts, and dark secrets. Each discovery she makes brings her closer to the truth, but the truth may cost Codella her life.

Silent City, Carrie Smith’s explosive debut, will introduce readers to a brilliant new voice in crime fiction that will grab them and not let go until the very last page and a fearless heroine who they will enjoy for years to come.

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

The Interdependency #1

Our universe is ruled by physics and faster than light travel is not possible — until the discovery of The Flow, an extra-dimensional field we can access at certain points in space-time that transport us to other worlds, around other stars.

Humanity flows away from Earth, into space, and in time forgets our home world and creates a new empire, the Interdependency, whose ethos requires that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It’s a hedge against interstellar war — and a system of control for the rulers of the empire.

The Flow is eternal — but it is not static. Just as a river changes course, The Flow changes as well, cutting off worlds from the rest of humanity. When it’s discovered that The Flow is moving, possibly cutting off all human worlds from faster than light travel forever, three individuals — a scientist, a starship captain and the Empress of the Interdependency — are in a race against time to discover what, if anything, can be salvaged from an interstellar empire on the brink of collapse.

What books have you been reading lately? What do you plan to read?

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Top Ten Tuesday–Beach Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme sponsored by the Broke and the Bookish blog. I don’t participate every week, but it’s a fun meme with great topics each week.

I’m actually going to the beach this summer…to the Oregon beach toward the end of July for a few days. I grew up in Oregon and love the Oregon beach…some beautiful beaches to walk on. However, the beaches aren’t usually ones to laze on. The Oregon coast gets lots of rain–even in the summer–and when it’s not raining it’s usually only about 60 maybe up to 70 degrees! The water is cold, too, but it’s still beautiful.

My husband and I and our three adult children are flying out and meeting in Oregon. My brother and sister-in-law who live in Oregon will meet us there and possibly my niece and her family. I can’t wait! I won’t read all ten books on my vacation…I do need to spend some time with my family…lol!

Here are the e-books I plan to put on my e-reader:

Trying to catch up

Where Serpents Sleep (Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries, book 4)
by C. S. Harris book
I’m way behind in this series, so I’m going to start here and re-read this one.
An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire
A great series…I want to catch up with October Daye and plan to re-read the third book.
Ghost Ship by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
I love the Liaden series and am so glad Lee and Miller are continuing the series. I love the characters and space opera adventure. I think I’m three books behind!

New series to start

 
The Shape of Desire by Sharon Shinn
A Shifting Circle series, book 1
Sharon Shinn is one of my favorite authors, but I haven’t read this book yet. It was published a year ago and only one more book in the series so far (Still Life with Shape Shifter)!
The Silvered by Tanya Huff
I’ve read and enjoyed many of Tanya Huff’s books. This was published last November and I’ve been wanting to read it since I read about it.

New authors

The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand
Summer Knight by Jim Butcher
Hounded by Kevin Hearne
the Iron Druid Chronicles, book 1

A little romance

 
An Invitation to Sin by Sarah Morgan
I enjoy Sarah Morgan’s books and a Harlequin Presents is the perfect quick beach read!
The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James
I bought Once Upon a Tower in May and then realized I hadn’t read the book which came out last fall