Tag Archives: 9.00 out of 10

A Morbid Taste for Bones, by Ellis Peters

20 Jan

A Morbid Taste for BonesA few months ago, I don’t remember exactly how or where (though I am pretty sure it was during the many discussions of the puppies and the Hugos), it was brought to my attention that the author of the Brother Cadfael novels was, in fact, a woman.

On impulse, the next time I happened to visit the one remaining used bookstore within fifty miles, I bought over half a dozen of the Cadfael Chronicles, thinking it was about time I read at least one of the books that helped popularize historical mysteries.

Unfortunately, by then I was suffering form the most horrific reading slump known to woman, and so the books have been languishing in the many peaks and ridges of ye olde TBR Cordillera.

Until Saturday.

On Saturday, I grabbed the first title and didn’t let go until I was done.

So here it is, my first TBR Challenge review of 2016.¹

A Morbid Taste for Bones, by Ellis Peters

I am not exactly sure how I had managed to keep myself innocent of all things Brother Cadfael. I mean, I knew that there was a television series, apparently very good, but that was pretty much it.

Now, I’m kicking myself over and over–what. an. idiot! I’ve been, not reading these novels!

Here’s the blurb, from my battered paper copy:
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Mine Till Midnight, by Lisa Kleypas

17 Aug

Mine Till MidnightI’m still indulging in mostly re-reads, as stress is still making my reading mojo waver somewhat.

Trolling through my physical shelves, I pulled this old favorite out, and since a) I enjoyed it very much once again, and b) Ms Kleypas is releasing her first historical romance in five years in October, I thought I’d review it.

However, if you have never read one of her books and if, like me, you prefer to read in order and/or without spoilers, you may want to start with the previous series (the Wallflowers quartet), before you tackle the Hathaways, as we see most of the protagonists of those book show up in this series.

Mind you, the Hathaways is not a spinoff of the Wallflowers, is just a matter of geography. And coincidence.

Or something.

Warning: there’s a fair bit of fetishization/otherization/idealization of Gypsy culture–the ‘noble savage’ thing.¹

Mine Till Midnight, by Lisa Kleypas

This is the first of a series of books about the Hathaway siblings, four sisters and their older brother, Leo Hathaway, the new Viscount Ramsay.

Amelia is the oldest sister, and has taken charge of her siblings for the last several years, since the deaths of her parents. The Hathaways are the children of a country gentleman; much like the Bennett sisters in Pride and Prejudice: long on breeding (if not manners) and short on funds. The title has come to Leo not just recently, but rather unexpectedly, as the family’s tie to even minor gentry is tenuous at best.

Cam Rohan is, as the text takes pains to explain, a rather unusual Gypsy. For more than half his life, he has lived in London, first as a houseboy, and then as general factotum, for Jenner’s, a gambling establishment.

Here’s the (quite godawful) blurb from my paperback copy:
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Heart of Obsidian, by Nalini Singh

25 May

Heart of ObsidianSo much for posting one Psy/Changeling review every Monday–I still aim to catch up before Shards of Hope comes out on June 2nd, or at least on the day.

(Wish me luck, pretty please?)

For anyone who is a fan of the series but hasn’t yet read all the previous books: you really don’t want to read this book before you’ve read everything that comes before.

Hell, you don’t want to read this review before you’ve read everything that’s come before.

If you are new to the series, you may enjoy the romance aspect better than you would in some of the previous books, because this novel is more focused on the couple.

However, a lot of the world building will be more than a bit cryptic, and some of the interstitial stuff may seem utterly extraneous (it’s not). This is, after all, the twelfth full-length novel set in the Psy/Changeling world (never mind the novellas and short stories).

Finally, there is violence, in the past and yet on the page, in the form of flashbacks, towards the heroine; some of it is just mentioned in passing, some of it is described with some detail. If those are triggers for you, you may want to think twice before reading this one.

Heart of Obsidian, by Nalini Singh

When this book was released two years ago, the anticipation was immense. Fans knew that this novel was finally going to answer a number of questions that had been building for almost the entirety of the series–most notably, the identity of the Ghost.

The secrecy around the book was so tight, even the blurb didn’t answer any questions or, really, provide any real information about the story between the covers (which some fans took as a personal insult, something that makes me smirk to this day):
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Radiance, by Grace Draven

6 Feb

RadianceI read a lot, but I don’t have a lot of money to throw away. This means that I usually won’t try new authors unless they come very well recommended by a number of trusted reviewers and/or one of their books is on sale/free.

Even then, I am, fairly or not, much more leery of self published books than those which are traditionally published.  Say what you like, in the second case at least one or two people who are not friends of the author read the material before contracting it.

Sometimes, despite those recommendations, the author’s voice or the story are not for me, and I go back to what I know and trust.

Sometimes, the fit is so perfect, I’m completely blown away.

This is one of the latter cases.

Radiance, by Grace Draven

I honestly have no idea when, or where, I first heard of this book. I know Dear Author praised Master of Crows a couple of years ago, but for whatever reason it just didn’t call to me. Time passed, and I honestly don’t remember hearing anything about Ms Draven’s work since.

Then I saw the cover and read this piece by Carolyn over at Two Old Farts. What is a reader to do, when amazon–blasted, customer-savvy place that it is–makes it so easy to read a longish sample?

One-click it, of course, then devour it like a mad person, and then search Ms Draven’s website for any indications that the next story in this world will come out soon. Or at some point–I’ll wait if I have to.

Now, like any of the newly converted, I must share this with you.

Two caveats: one, this novel is self published,¹ and two, there are a couple of graphic sex scenes, and zero purple euphemisms. If you cannot take adult language in your romance, this one is not for you.

Behold, the blurb (from the author’s site):

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Having the Billionaire’s Baby, by Sandra Hyatt

21 Jan

Having the Billionaire's Baby(For once, I’m writing this review two weeks ahead of time–go, me!)

I am, once again, trying to make some inroads into the humongous TBR pile–particularly the print one, since it’s the one displacing everything and everyone chez aztec–by participating in our very own Super Librarian Wendy’s TBR Challenge.

This month, the theme is shorts, and it so happens I have a rather large number of category romances laying about, so I went digging and found this little gem, Sandra Hyatt’s debut title, published in early 2009 by Harlequin. My copy is autographed by the late Ms Hyatt, and I want to say (but I may be completely wrong) that I got it at RWA 2009 in DC.

Ms Hyatt died unexpectedly at 46, in August 2011 while attending the annual Romance Writers of New Zealand conference, and leaving behind two adolescent children and her husband, Scott.

Having the Billionaire’s Baby, by Sandra Hyatt

I confess that I often have issues with category romance. For one, the length of the stories tends to limit how well certain issues are addressed, so readers who are not very conversant with the tropes and shorthands often used by authors can be lost–or, as is most often the case with me, become frustrated by the same. For another, Harlequin has fairly strict guidelines regarding language–not just curse words, you understand, but how graphic can it be to describe body parts and what goes where during a sex scene. And finally, I’m usually quite impatient with most category romance heroines, because most of them tend towards the ‘doormat’ and/or incredibly young and naïve type.

I cannot tell you happy I was to read a heroine who is smart–and not because I’m told she’s smart, but because I see her acting in smart, sensible ways.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Behold, the (awful!!!!) back cover blurb:
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Playing the Odds, by Nora Roberts

30 Sep

Playing the Odds, by Nora RobertsPlaying the Odds

Anyone who has read my blog/reviews for any length of time is probably aware that I’m a fan of Nora Roberts’ writing. The woman can write incredibly strong heroines, believable children, realistic family dynamics, great dialogue, pretty decent suspense, long running police procedural with romantic elements series…

Yeah, you name it, she’s probably written at least one of these. Her current list of published works comfortably exceeds 200, and La Nora doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

I have piles of Nora Roberts titles in my house, most of them read (and in my keeper room (I love books, what can I say?)) but a few yet unread titles exist—mostly, some of her first efforts. For some obscure reason hidden in my subconscious I often hesitate to read these older books.

Okay, it’s not really obscure nor hidden: I’m afraid that Ms Roberts’ first published works will not compare favorably with her more current oeuvre—which is actually bullshit, because I can re-read such early connected books as the five Calhoun stories and be as engrossed now as I was when I first discovered them (in 1997, when the dinosaurs roamed the earth and cell phones were heavier than a toolbox).

Anyhow…

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Witness in Death, by J. D. Robb

18 Feb

Witness in Death original coverWitness in Death, by J. D. Robb

In the interest of full disclosure, be warned that I am very fond of this novel, not only due to the writing, plot and characterization, but because it’s the first …in Death novel to openly borrow from an Agatha Christie story (“Witness for the Prosecution”, the play).

Also, given that Calculated in Death, the 36th¹ full length novel in the series (there are also 8 short stories and one novella published so far) is coming out later this month, this review is more due to nostalgia than any urgent need for more reviews for any one title in the series².

Witness in Death is the tenth novel in the series. The world and technology (such as it is)³ of Robb’s future are pretty much established at this point, as are the main relationship dynamics. Roarke and Eve have been married just over half a year, Peabody has been Eve’s aide for just under a year and is at this point dating both McNabb and Charles. This is also one of the three novels in which Chief Medical Examiner Morris is called Morse in the original paperback editions (over a dozen years later, this still bugs me, as Morris is a favorite character of mine).

The (rather terrible) back cover blurb:
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