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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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

WWW: WATCH (WWW, #2) by Robert J. Sawyer

Award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer continues his “wildly though- provoking” science fiction saga of a sentient World Wide Web. Webmind is an emerging consciousness that has befriended Caitlin Decter and grown eager to learn about her world. But Webmind has also come to the attention of WATCH-the secret government agency that monitors the Internet for any threat to the United States-and they’re fully aware of Caitlin’s involvement in its awakening. WATCH is convinced that Webmind represents a risk to national security and wants it purged from cyberspace. But Caitlin believes in Webmind’s capacity for compassion-and she will do anything and everything necessary to protect her friend.

This is one of those series that I am so glad has already been completely released.  I cannot imagine having to wait on these books to come out one at a time.

Watch picks up right after the end of Wake.  The American government is out to kill Webmind and it is up to Caitlin to stop them.  I won’t give it away, but I loved the method that Webmind and Caitlin devise to save him.

China is becoming more and more a problem to its people.  If Webmind is to promote the “net happiness” of the human race, what is to be done?

This is a great trilogy.  I have book three, Wonder, on order.  I can’t wait to read it.

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Filed under Contemporary, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts by Mitzi Szereto

Pride and Prejudice: Hidden LustsPride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts by Mitzi Szereto
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts*
Author: Mitzi Szereto
Series:N/A
Genre: Erotic Romance
Publisher: Cleis Press
Format: paperback & digital ebook
Date/Year: July 5, 2011
Reviewed by: ElaineReads

*This book was provided to the reviewer by the author for review

Summary from the publisher:

Imagine that Jane Austen had written the opening line of her satirical novel Pride and Prejudice this way: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a good romp and a good wife—although not necessarily from the same person or from the opposite sex.” In Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts, the entire cast of characters from Austen’s classic is here, caught with their breeches unbuttoned and their skirts raised high in this rewrite that goes all the way – and then some! Mr. Darcy has never been more devilish and the seemingly chaste Elizabeth never more turned on.

In this no-holds-barred account, men are not necessarily the only dominating sex. This time Mr. Bingley and his sister both have designs on Mr. Darcy’s manhood; Elizabeth’s bff Charlotte marries their family’s strange relation, discovering that her husband’s pious nature extends to worship of a different sort; and, in this telling, Lady Catherine de Bourgh takes the disciplining of those in the parish very seriously. As for the handsome Mr. Wickham, he’s wickeder than ever! And of course there’s plenty of good old-fashioned bodice ripping that shows no pride or prejudice and reveals hot hidden lusts in every scandalous page-turning chapter. This is the book Jane Austen would have written, if only she’d had the nerve!

My Musings:

The original Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is a favorite of mine, so I was a little nervous about reading this book. However, I was very impressed that the author was able to maintain the “flavor” of Austen’s writing even though the content was quite obviously added. There was no delineation between the original book and the new content. It flowed beautifully.

The sex scenes were inserted naturally and very well done. Some of the dialogue was comical, but it was meant to be so. For example, Lady Caroline’s attempts to seduce Mr. Darcy and his attempts to ignore her seduction were hysterical. Should I mention Lady Caroline’s fascination with “birching?”

Lydia’s interest in sex in all its forms was wonderfully described. If it would hold still long enough for her to rub against it, she would. That includes pieces of furniture, men’s thighs, or other more interesting parts of the anatomy. Is it any wonder she ends up with the villain of the book?

Do I find the general acceptance of all this raunchy behavior believable for the time period? No, but I enjoyed it immensely anyhow. I think we all expect our predecessors to be a little more circumspect than they actually were. After all, we think we’re the modern ones.

Ratings:

Overall: 5 stars
Sensuality level: 5

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Filed under Erotica, Historical, Humor, Realistic, Regency, Romance

WWW: WAKE (WWW, #1) by Robert J. Sawyer

One of the foremost science fiction writers of our generation-(SF Site) comes to Ace with a trilogy of the Web’s awakening. Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a genius at math, and blind. Still, she can surf the net with the best of them, following its complex paths clearly in her mind. But Caitlin’s brain long ago co-opted her primary visual cortex to help her navigate online. So when she receives an implant to restore her sight, instead of seeing reality, the landscape of the World Wide Web explodes into her consciousness, spreading out all around her in a riot of colors and shapes. While exploring this amazing realm, she discovers something, some other, lurking in the background. And it’s getting more and more intelligent with each passing day.

I read this series on the recommendation of my friend Cindy.  Her recommendations can be iffy because I accuse her of reading “literary” novels rather than good books.  This, however, is a good book.

Mostly because of Cindy, I have been reading a lot more straight science fiction recently.  When I was a teenager, it was all I would read.  I don’t know what happened.

Anyway, this could be one of those “end of the world as we know it” books and in a way it is.  However, that is not necessarily a bad thing.  The entity that Caitlin discovers is young and hopefully can be taught to be altruistic.  That’s only if the American government doesn’t destroy it first.

I am so glad book two is already out.


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Filed under Contemporary, Science Fiction, Young Adult