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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Haunted by flashbacks!

His Sinful Touch (The Mad Morelands #5)  by Candace Camp    


                               

The Mad Morelands (what a stunning group of people!) are at it again. Or rather life is at them. Alexander Moreland is surprised by a young man who appears at his office disheveled and distressed. Only that young man is a young woman who has completely lost her memory and has by fortuitous circumstances found her way to Moreland's Investigative Agency and will find her way right into Alex's heart.
The hunt to find Sabrina's past will uncover much and put them both at risk. In the journey they will discover much that holds them together and recollections from the mists of their pasts.  A rollicking good read with plenty of humor, heart stopping moments, and of course romantic inclinations.

A NetGalley ARC

*****

A grand story!

A Devil in Scotland (No Ordinary Hero #3) 
by Suzanne Enoch


                            

I loved this story completely. What's not to love, with a strapping hero, a wee loveable bairn called Mags, a wolf, a mop eared lapdog, a widowed heroine, and nefarious conspirators who just don't stand a chance against the highlander returned from the Americas.
Callum MacCreath left Scotland in 1806!for the Americas under a cloud, he returns unwilling in 1816 hell bent on vengeance.
His childhood friend Rebecca, the woman he'd taken for granted is now alone and besieged, unknown to her, poised on the edge of grave danger. She and her daughter Mags are not expecting Callum. My the Sparks do fly! Margaret is a gem, she stole my heart and Callum's. I love that Mags latches onto the idea of being part of the 'pack'. Just a wonderful byplay that allows heaps of opportunities for laughter and adds cachet to an already masterful plot.
Just great fun and lots if swashbuckling where there are no pirates but a Highlander bent on revenge!

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Marry in haste ... ?

The Marquess Tames His Bride (Brides for Bachelors #2)    
by Annie Burrows


                               

Feisty vicar's daughter meets old childhood chum ... and things just couldn't go any more awry. Complicated truths need complicated excuses to bring things around--or not!
Robert Walmer, the Marquess of Rawcliffe meets the quick tempered Clare Cottam, the woman he's always loved, by happenstance in an inn. Clare, in badly dyed mourning clothes, is off to be a noble woman's companion after the death of her father. And now here she is, confronted by her nemesis, desperately hiding her secret love for him. No wonder she hauls off and punches him. Rawcliffe takes the opportunity to declare that they must we'd to avoid a public scandal. Right from their wedding night it seems that these two are more attuned than was thought. In fact their bedroom antics do take up rather a lot of space in the novel. But there are other happenings afoot including the death of one of Rawcliffe 's friends. And it seems Clare might be the key to unlocking that mystery.
The ending has us poised on the edges of the cliff. That's a problem for me as a reader. I would like some resolution of the problem. Despite this I enjoyed the Rawcliffe and Clare's story. I am looking forward to the next in this series.

A NetGalley ARC

***

Another Tortall gift!



                              

So wonderful to be back in Tortall environments. This time in the neighboring empire of Carthak. Numair SalmalĂ­n's story is just beginning and already I'm deeply involved in the hints of plots and harsh realities to come. We knew Numair as a powerful Mage, and now we come to know him as the young student, Arram Draper attending the Imperial University of Carthak.  Arram would have been a lonely, reclusive student but for his two close friends, Varice, a young, highly talented girl often dismissed, and Ozorne, a young mage-in-training prince who before our very eyes comes closer to the throne as accidents and tragedies befall those before him.
Not only does Arram attract trouble, he also attracts the attention if the gods--not a happy state of being. As Arram comes to understand the workings of the kingdom there are injustices that trouble his spirit. All this sets the stage for future unfoldings.
Another 'can't put down' and 'please can the next in the series happen soon!' wonderful yarn spun by the indomitable Tamora Pierce.
I have started to re-read 'The Immortals" series to reacquaint myself more fully with Numair's actions post this time. It's fascinating to see the back story to some of the characters we meet in 'Tempests and Slaughters', and Pierce's writing (if it's possible) seems stronger.

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Electrifying!

The Great Alone   by Kristin Hannah



I was totally immersed in Hannah's novel right from the start. A superb story of a young girl's childhood with two broken, dysfunctional parents played out in the depths of Alaska in the early 1970's.
Leni Allbright is thirteen when her ex Vietnam Vet POW father decides to take them to Alaska.
My heart bleeds for the whole family caught in the vortex of the damage that war plays on the survivors--if the emotional and mental anguish can even be called that. As Leni so eloquently and sadly states, 'One thing every child of a POW knew was how easily people could be broken. Leni still wore the shiny silver POW bracelet in memory of a captain who hadn’t come home to his family.'
Leni and her mother Cora are swept up into Ernt's latest grand plan. They will go to Alaska to take up the offer of a property in what surely must be the 'last frontier'--the wilderness of the far north where survival is not guaranteed and where life is a continual effort to stock up for the long winters broken by the vast amazing summers. The palate Hannah employs to paint the landscape is mesmerizing. The human state she portrays is relentless and stark, compassionate and revealing all at once. Ernt, Cora and Leni will come face to face with their own strengths and failings and the leaching away of Ernt's self control.
Leni is forged into a person who is 'Alaska -tough'. 
The portrayal of the locals, a mixed bag of people, from the off-grid survivalists, to those who have been challenged by and met the demanding way of life, to those who have just plain fallen in love with this untamed wilderness, all ring true.
A mesmerizing novel of survival, loss and harsh truths. The story surrounds you and absorbs you. It displays a raw and powerful story force that has the pull of legend. A tale that eats into your heart and gives pause for reflection on a multiple of levels. To my mind the title, The Great Alone, plays on both the mental states of the central players and the challenge of the vastness and wildness of Alaska.

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Friday, January 26, 2018

Nicely done!

Nice Try, Jane Sinner     by Lianne Oelke      


                                   


Sort of Breakfast Club meets an underground reality show. I loved the way this was written with the continual running commentary in Jane Sinner's head. Her interaction with the therapist in her subconscious was just delightful.
Jane Sinner, recovering depressant and attempted suicide survivor is looking for a second chance that doesn't involve God. This causes concern and consternation in her very active Christian family. Her old High School memories are too raw to continue attending. She enrols at the local community college, and in an attempt to leave home, auditions for an internet reality tv show. This gives her a rent free place to stay. Way to go, Jane!
I enjoyed all the participants and their quirky, sometimes grievous behaviour. Janes's fridge antics are a hoot. Pavlov's dogs taken to a new height! Very clever.
There's is some pointed social comment about acceptance throughout the novel, particularly in this age of same sex relationships, via Jane's friend Bonnie. Really about acceptance generally of those who are different. It seems it takes a reality show to make that happen, and to have Jane accept herself.
We continually live in Jane's head. I really enjoyed this. Jane's angst and fears and way to deal with them are sometimes funny, sometimes sad but all the time real.
Her self deprecating manner and ironic commentary gives that extra special oomph to the novel.

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Delightful!

The Viscount and the Vicar's Daughter: A Victorian Romance    
by Mimi Matthews        


                            

Charming regency romance with the requisite rakish viscount who is unaccountability struck by cupid's arrow in the most irregular of circumstances.
Well written with an interesting mystery, circumstances that add tensions to the romance your having when your not having a romance.

A NetGalley ARC

*** 1/2