Monthly Archives: July 2011

Martyr (John Shakespeare, #1) by Rory Clements

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In this ingenious debut, Rory Clements introduces John Shakespeare, Elizabethan England’s most remarkable investigator, and delivers a tale of murder and conspiracy that succeeds brilliantly as both historical fiction and a crime thriller.

In a burnt-out house, one of Queen Elizabeth’s aristocratic cousins is found murdered, her young flesh marked with profane symbols. At the same time, a plot to assassinate Sir Francis Drake, England’s most famous sea warrior, is discovered—a plot which, if successful, could leave the country utterly defenseless against a Spanish invasion. It’s 1587, the Queen’s reign is in jeopardy, and one man is charged with the desperate task of solving both cases: John Shakespeare. With the Spanish Armada poised to strike, Mary Queen of Scots awaiting execution, and the pikes above London Bridge decorated with the grim evidence of treachery, the country is in peril of being overwhelmed by fear and chaos. Following a trail of illicit passions and family secrets, Shakespeare travels through an underworld of spies, sorcerers, whores, and theater people, among whom is his own younger brother, the struggling playwright, Will. Shadowed by his rival, the Queen’s chief torturer, who employs his own methods of terror, Shakespeare begins to piece together a complex and breathtaking conspiracy whose implications are almost too horrific to contemplate. For a zealous and cunning killer is stalking England’s streets. And as Shakespeare threatens to reveal a madman’s shocking identity, he and the beautiful woman he desires come ever closer to becoming the next martyrs to a passion for murder and conspiracy whose terrifying consequences might still be felt today…(from Amazon)

I have really got to stop reading book reviews and recommendations.  I keep finding books that sound interesting, but are complete different from my normal reading fare.  To make matters worse, most of them are good books too.

Martyr is definitely one of those good books.  The book was engrossing, but not something I could read for hours at a time.  There was just too much going on.  That is my only complaint.  There were so many different characters and so many plots and subplots that I had difficulty keeping track of the storyline.

I have categorized this book under romance, although it is primarily a historical mystery.  The romance is very minor and definitely just a side note.

Two more books in the series have been published:  Revenger and Prince.  I may read them some day, but I am not certain.  They are definitely not next on my list.

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Filed under Historical, Mystery, Realistic, Romance

The Bride (Lairds’ Fiancees, #1) by Julie Garwood

By edict of the King, the mighty Scottish laird Alec Kincaid must take an English bride. His choice was Jamie, youngest daughter of Baron Jamison . . . a feisty, violet-eyed beauty. Alec ached to touch her, to tame her, to possess her. . . forever. But Jamie vowed never to surrender to this Highland barbarian.

He was everything her heart warned against–an arrogant scoundrel whose rough good looks spoke of savage pleasures. And though Kincaid’s scorching kisses fired her blood, she brazenly resisted him… until one rapturous moment quelled their clash of wills, and something far more dangerous than desire threatened to conquer her senses…

This is the first book I ever read by Julie Garwood back when it was originally published in 1989.  I reread it every year or so and it is still my favorite of all her books.  And I have them all.  She has been on autobuy since I read The Bride.

The publisher’s blurb does not do this book justice.  The best parts of the book are the funny scenes which come constantly.  The Kincaid knows how a wife is supposed to behave and Jaime (the fact that she has a man’s name is a running joke) does not follow his preconceptions.  She thinks his ideas are crazy and he knows hers are.

Shoot, I may have to pick it up and read it all over again!

All of Julie Garwood’s early historicals are wonderful.  I don’t like her contemporary suspense books as much, although I do still read them.  I keep hoping she’ll pick up her old style.

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Filed under Historical, Humor, Realistic, Romance

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1) by James Dashner

Imagine waking up one day in total darkness, unsure of where you are and unable to remember anything about yourself except your first name. You’re in a bizarre place devoid of adults called the Glade. The Glade is an enclosed structure with a jail, a graveyard, a slaughterhouse, living quarters, and gardens. And no way out. Outside the Glade is the Maze, and every day some of the kids — the Runners — venture into the labyrinth, trying to map the ever-changing pattern of walls in an attempt to find an exit from this hellish place. So far, no one has figured it out. And not all of the Runners return from their daily exertions, victims of the maniacal Grievers, part animal, part mechanical killing machines.

This is the first in what I think is going to be a trilogy.  It is one of the nominees for the 2011-2012 Georgia Peach Award for Teens and one of the best so far.

There were so many things going on in this book that at first I had a hard time keeping track.  That is often the case when an author has to spend time world building.  I stuck with the book and I am glad that I did so.  It really turned out well although the ending is definitely a cliff hanger.

This is a book that I would recommend to readers who like The Hunger Games or The Knife of Never Letting Go series.

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Filed under Dystopian, Post-apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Young Adult

The Wedding Affair by Leigh Michaels

The Wedding AffairThe Wedding Affair by Leigh Michaels
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Leigh Michaels is a new author to me although she has published over eighty books. I don’t know how I have missed her all this time. After reading The Wedding Affair, I will certainly be looking into her backlist.This book actually focuses on three separate romances. I originally thought they would be treated as separate stories in an anthology. However, there is a single storyline with the three relationships interwoven together.

The first couple introduced, and to me the primary one, are Lady Olivia Reyne and Simon, the Duke of Somervale. Olivia is a widow with a young daughter. Her husband left her pretty much penniless and her landlord is trying to coerce her into becoming his mistress.

The wedding in the title refers to Simon’s younger sister’s marriage. Their mother has invited numerous eligible young ladies in hopes of finding a bride for Simon as well. Simon makes an arrangement with Olivia to act as his potential bride in order to ward off the debutantes. This arrangement also includes acting as his mistress.

Olivia’s friend and houseguest, Kate Blakely, is the daughter of the late village vicar. The duchess asks her to help with chaperoning and entertaining the young ladies at the manor house. To help distract the ladies, Simon has asked a number of his male friends to join the party. One of these friends, Andrew Carlisle, just happens to be the young man who Kate fell in love with at seventeen. Unfortunately, Andrew does not have a family income either and Kate knows she must support herself.

The final couple are Charles and Penelope, the Earl and Countess of Townsend. Although they have been married for three months, the marriage has never been consummated. Penelope’s father is a commoner who owns a series of breweries and ale houses. He is very wealthy and arranged a marriage with the Earl in order to buy a title for his daughter and future grandchildren. The Earl is determined to thwart his plans by never fathering any children.

Within the first chapter, this book had me hooked and I ended up reading it in just one day. The sex scenes are not numerous, but they are very will handled. While explicit, the scenes are very vanilla. Each couple is true to each other and there are no indications of any infidelity.

All in all, this is an excellent book. The author does a wonderful job of weaving the stories together while maintaining the separate romances. I felt like I was reading three books in one. It was an outstanding introduction to a wonderful author.

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The Wedding Affair by Leigh Michaels

Title:  The Wedding Affair*
Author: Leigh Michaels
Series:  N/A
Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Format: Paperback & ebooks
Date/Year:  September, 2011
Reviewed by: ElaineReads

*This book was provided to the reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Summary from the publisher:

The Duke of Somervale’s sister is getting married in the wedding of year — but the wedding guests are in the mood for affairs, not vows!The Duke needs the help of beautiful, stubborn Olivia Reyne to fight off the debutantes who have taken over his country estate. Olivia’s willing to help — at a price which will secure the future for her small daughter.

Penny Townsend sees the wedding as her last chance to salvage her arranged marriage and turn it into something more than a matter of convenience.

And vicar’s daughter Kate Blakely needs a job — and fast — before she gives in to the tempting presence of her first love!

My Musings:

Leigh Michaels is a new author to me although she has published over eighty books.  I don’t know how I have missed her all this time.  After reading The Wedding Affair, I will certainly be looking into her backlist.This book actually focuses on three separate romances.  I originally thought they would be treated as separate stories in an anthology.  However, there is a single storyline with the three relationships interwoven together.

The first couple introduced, and to me the primary one, are Lady Olivia Reyne and Simon, the Duke of Somervale.  Olivia is a widow with a young daughter.  Her husband left her pretty much penniless and her landlord is trying to coerce her into becoming his mistress.

The wedding in the title refers to Simon’s younger sister’s marriage.  Their mother has invited numerous eligible young ladies in hopes of finding a bride for Simon as well.  Simon makes an arrangement with Olivia to act as his potential bride in order to ward off the debutantes.  This arrangement also includes acting as his mistress.

Olivia’s friend and houseguest, Kate Blakely, is the daughter of the late village vicar.  The duchess asks her to help with chaperoning and entertaining the young ladies at the manor house.  To help distract the ladies, Simon has asked a number of his male friends to join the party.  One of these friends, Andrew Carlisle, just happens to be the young man who Kate fell in love with at seventeen.  Unfortunately, Andrew does not have a family income either and Kate knows she must support herself.

The final couple are Charles and Penelope, the Earl and Countess of Townsend.  Although they have been married for three months, the marriage has never been consummated.  Penelope’s father is a commoner who owns a series of breweries and ale houses.  He is very wealthy and arranged a marriage with the Earl in order to buy a title for his daughter and future grandchildren.  The Earl is determined to thwart his plans by never fathering any children.

Within the first chapter, this book had me hooked and I ended up reading it in just one day.  The sex scenes are not numerous, but they are very will handled.  While explicit, the scenes are very vanilla.  Each couple is true to each other and there are no indications of any infidelity.

All in all, this is an excellent book.  The author does a wonderful job of weaving the stories together while maintaining the separate romances.  I felt like I was reading three books in one.  It was an outstanding introduction to a wonderful author.

Ratings:

Overall: 4 stars
Sensuality level: 3

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CROSS POSTED AT SEDUCTIVE MUSINGS.

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Filed under Historical, Regency, Romance

WWW: WONDER (WWW, #3) by Robert J. Sawyer

Webmind, the vast consciousness that spontaneously emerged from the infrastructure of the World Wide Web, has proven its worth to humanity by aiding in everything from curing cancer to easing international tensions. But the brass at the Pentagon see Webmind as a threat that needs to be eliminated.

Caitlin Decter, the once-blind sixteen-year-old math genius who discovered, and bonded with, Webmind, wants desperately to protect her friend. And if she doesn’t act, everything, Webmind included, may come crashing down.

I did not get to read this book immediately after reading the first two because I had to wait for it to arrive.  While waiting, I read Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson.  This was another book in which the world’s technology becomes self-aware, but it took an entirely different direction.  I could not have picked a better book to read for contrast.

Although Webmind has proven the way he can benefit humanity, some members of the American government still want him destroyed.  The Chinese government may end up unintentionally doing the job for them.

This series addresses so many social issues, not just our reliance on the Internet.  Human rights, abortion, and religious views are all represented.

I actually had chill bumps while reading this book.  I cannot recommend this series enough.

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Filed under Contemporary, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

Daniel H. Wilson, the author of this book, has a doctorate in robotics from prestigious Carnegie Mellon and his writing credits include the nonfiction How to Survive A Robot Uprising and How to Build a Robot Army. That knowledge alone should activate your senses as you enter Robopocalypse, a realm where robots run free and humans flee skittering in many directions. Told with the unfolding menace of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, this novel will keep you up late and your computer unplugged. (from Goodreads)

I have been reading Robert J. Sawyer’s www trilogy which is also about computers/technology becoming self aware.  It is amazing how different the takes are on the subject.  Wilson’s book makes me nervous.  I am already concerned about what our lives would be like if there was an EMB that wiped out the technology I rely on.  How much worse would it be if that technology turned on humanity?

The first chapter of the book takes place during the immediate aftermath of the war between the robots and humans.  It almost made me not read the book.  There was nothing really wrong with it, but it wasn’t what I was in the mood to read.  I put it down for a few days and when I came back to it, I realized the rest of the book was the story of the beginning of the war and its duration.  The chapters alternate between different characters, so I got a variety of perspectives.  I ended up really enjoying the book.

One thing that struck me in the first chapter is the narrator states he is transcribing the records by hand.  He is not trusting them to a digital form.  That is one thing that concerns me about our (my) reliance on computers and the cloud.  Nothing is in hard copy.  What will happen if I no longer have access to computers?  It’s a disturbing thought.

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Filed under Dystopian, Post-apocalyptic, Science Fiction