About Me

My photo
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

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Modesitt's "Recluse" continues to dazzle!

Outcasts of Order  (The Saga of Recluse #20) by L. E. Modesitt, Jr.          



The story of Beltur, a black order Mage with healing powers, and the companion of his heart, the healer Jessyla continues. Their path is hazadous. As always the on going balance between chaos (white magic) and order (black magic) is reflected throughout the situations that Beltur finds himself in. (The humble yet noble hero, who will make the hard decisions when faced with them, is a recurring theme in Modesitt's works and Beltur is no exception).
Is Beltur being guided by the ways of the universe of Recluse, the natural laws surrounding chaos and order as it were, or are random happenings encouraging non random outcomes? (I am always fascinated that somewhere writings that expound on order and chaos or principles and understandings of the universe appears for the main protagonist to ponder on, which we in turn are privy to. For Beltur such a work is the book, Considerations on the Nature of Man).Beltur has become a challenge to those in power, not by any threatening actions on his part, but just by being. Beltur works for the city as a Patrol Mage--very effectively, and always with compassion. But the fact that he and the smith Jorhan, are producing cupridium blades and everyday objects by Beltur infusing order/chaos patterns into them, might have something to do with the disquiet of those in charge. It may just be a simple matter of tariffs and economics--other people's, or possibly because another Mage further up in the city"s hierarchy has his eyes on the healer Jessyla. Or perhaps all three. To maintain his freedom it seems Beltur must leave Elparta. The decision is not easy but other's choices leave Beltur very little alternative.
This is Modesitt's twentieth  novel in the Recluse series (and yes like others, I read them from the very beginning when "The Magic of Recluse" burst upon the Fantasy/Sci fi world stage). His writings continue to dazzle me, even as I greet them like well known and loved friends, interesting companions on my decades old fantasy reading journey, continually and satisfyingly familiar, yet injecting some new aspect and situation into my understandings of Recluse the place.
This new novel  and the formidable characters capture me. Echoes of previous Recluse novels ring faintly through the pages. I know this place! The philosophies embedded in the writing are thought provoking. I am always left satisfied yet wanting more of this fascinating world and the characters Modesitt creates.
Another absorbing read!

A NetGalley ARC

*****

the Rich canvas of Tim Winton!

The Shepherd's Hut: A Novel by Tim Winton



Winton's opening instantly raises the tension. Justifiably angst ridden teenage Jaxi is heading for safety. His flight into the Australian outback 'bush' is grueling and I for one am amazed that he can even contemplate it, beginning as he does on foot. No one in their right mind heads into the Australian Outback as precipitously as Jaxie does! Carrying a gun, a few supplies, binoculars and water, all that he's able to scramble together, Jaxie heads out from Monkton in Western Australia north to Magnet to find his cousin and girlfriend Lee. His only friend. The only one who gets him.
Jaxie worked with his father Sid Clackton, aka Cap, the local butcher, a vicious alcoholic who has abused his wife and son all of Jaxie's life. When his mother dies with cancer, Jaxie is chained to his circumstances not through love as he had been, but through despair.
The thing is Jaxie arrives home to find Cap's body under the car, killed by the engine when a makeshift winch failed. Jaxie flees because he reckons people are going to say it was no accident, that he, Jaxie had killed Cap. Given that his father had just a few hours prior beaten the crap out of him, and that the only cop in town was Cap's friend, and as mean as his father to boot, Jaxie takes off.
Typical Winton reading! Hard, fast, and pithy with colloquialisms flying. As always his prose and descriptive writing is absolutely brilliant. If you've ever stepped though the Australian bush you'll recognize the landscape. If you haven't, imagining is made possible by a few words,
        "I dug right into them scraggly trees. Stepping careful through the million sticks
         and strips of bark in the shadows because getting snakebit wasn’t gunna be any
          help."
I keep reading and am truly amazed by Winton's descriptions of the Outback, word pictures that bring to mind Fred William's paintings. Oh my! Just for this alone I'd give this book  five stars. Let alone the story matter. This is a giant of a novel, unbridled and raw. I love it! And the small things, like Jaxie's binoculars, can be turning points.
Themes of violence, relationships, love, masculinity, and redemption are all heightened by the staccato delivery. Layer upon layer is pulled back as Jaxie's story unfolds and enriches in his meeting with Fintan MacGinnis, an Irish priest hermit type character in the middle of nowhere, all set against the brilliant light of the Western Australian landscape. An unapologetic view of life's harshness and relationships. I was fixated!

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Friday, June 15, 2018

Truths and untruths!

The Duke of Lies  (The Untouchables #9) by Darcy Burke


                            

The return of a dead husband after six years is a hard thing, especially as the man who disappeared was not pleasant. The man who returns is the complete opposite. What happened to Rufus Beaumont, Duke of Blackburn, in those intervening years to change him so?
Verity has to somehow take this on board without risking her son, or Rufus' displeasure. Although on the surface that appears to be a thing of the past.
Verity finds herself in a difficult place. How to trust that the monster who left her will not be hidden somewhere inside this new aspect of Rufus. What is the true face of the man she called husband?
Plots, plans and dark deeds are afoot. Rufus has to use all his ingenuity to prove himself to Verity and his son. But will he be exposed? And will Verity accept him when the truth comes out?

A NetGalley ARC

****

Sucked me in and I stayed!

The Hellion (Wicked Wallflowers #1) by Christi Caldwell


                          

The sparks between the two main protagonists are fiery. The fiercely denied attraction flares between them growing into a love tangible.
Cleopatra Killoran is going to have a season and marry a lord if she can survive the ton in general  and Adair Thorn in particular.
Being thrown into the lair of the enemy, into Thorn's family stronghold, arch enemies of the Killoran's is a choice Cleopatra makes to protect her siblings. Adair is convinced that his gaming hall has been destroyed by the Killorans. He has no sympathy or trust for anyone to do with that family! Despite the attraction he fights every inch of the way! Riveting!

A NetGalley ARC

*****

Trials and tribulations of a love struck rake!

Wagering For Miss Blake  (Lords and Ladies in Love #4 )  
by Callie Hutton    


Out of left field cupid's arrow strikes the 'marriage is not for me' confirmed rake, Mr. Giles Templeton, third son of the Earl of Wexford. A position Giles is thoroughly content with. It gives him room to be himself without the larger responsibilities of being the heir or spare.
The object of his desire is Miss Suzanna Blake, who becomes more attracted to him as time goes on, particularly as he is genuinely a nice person. Early on Giles starts referring to Suzanna as his bride-to-be, completely ignoring the fact that she has already told him she will only marry a 'titled' man. However our hero is not to be deterred! Giles plans his campaign  with no stone left I turned, including wagering with Suzanna about her falling in love with him. Giles asks his friend Lord Hawkins to ensure Suzanna is invited to Hawk's mother's house party, the type of event that Giles generally eschews like the plague. The house party is all that one would expect with a few surprises thrown in. The scene where Suzanna becomes stuck in a tree is quite hilarious, leading to the almost farcical.
Unfortunately, Giles, our erstwhile love tactician did not take into account that it's Suzanna's mother who wants a titled suitor for her daughter-- nothing less will do! And Suzanna's mother is quite a nasty piece of work who seems to have decided to vicariously atone for her failure to secure a titled husband through her daughter. So Giles surely has his work cut out for him to have his HEA, even Gretna Green might not be off the table.
Great read!

A NetGalley ARC

****

A tricky enquiry!

Island of the Mad   (Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes #15) 
by Laurie R. King    




Not only but also! An absorbing investigation by Mary and Sherlock that takes us from Bedlam to the Lido and onto the Venetian asylum island of Poveglia.
What a fabulous conondrum for the wonderful Mary Russell and her ever fascinating husband Sherlock Holmes. Mary is asked by an old friend to find out about her aunt Vivian Beaconsfield who seems to have absconded from Bedlam along with some family jewels. The whole family seems cowered by Vivian's brother the Marquess of Selwick, who may or may not have been responsible for confining Vivian to Belam.
The search leads Mary to pre war Venice with Mussolini in power and his Blackshirts are instilling their reign of terror. Wonderful descriptions of the Lido and the going on of the permanent visitors to Venice, including Cole Porter are detailed. (Mycroft has asked Sherlock to look at the Fascists. He is disquieted!) I love the way King has Holmes dropping one off lines to Cole that end up as songs that are well known down through the generations. An amusing way to have Sherlock's influence quietly confirmed, all fiction of course, but a titillating idea.
Venice, it's gondoliers, it's residents, the islands that served as places and asylums are all well interpreted. The threat of the rise of fascism thinly veiled.
A very clever and racy read that had me fairly galloping towards a satisfactory Holmesian end. A brilliant foray into pre war Venice of 1925.

A NetGalley ARC

*****

The weight of a deathbed vow

The Earl, the Vow, and the Plain Jane  (The Lords of Eton #2)
by Cheryl Bolen 


A pleasing story that has you're upstanding hero reluctantly clinging to the deathbed vow made to his father to restore the family castle to its original glory. To do this he has to marry an heiress. Of course there's one available, even with several hitches.
I must admit I found myself annoyed with Lord Slade as he clung to his duty and then left an amazing woman like Miss Jane Featherstone to suffer, the woman he admired who understood Whig politics and their ramifications. All this was mother's milk to Jane, having been given full reign to join dinner conversations with some of the leading minds of the day from her early years. Of course Jane's not acceptably beautiful, probably more arresting. At least Lord Slade finds her pretty.
I really disliked that Lord Slade was rude to Mr. Poppinbotham who is not only standing for a parliamentary seat but seems to want to court Jane. Lord Slade couldn't have her so no one was going to. And I do hope there's a rosy future for this cit. turned politician. I came to rather like the much maligned Mr. Poppinbotham, absurd as he was in his focus on the cost of things. Of course he was focused on money! He'd had to claw his way up to a place of wealth and prominence.
So I had little time for the hero of the novel when he acted like a dog in the manger over Jane. I suppose I shall eventually forgive him as he was between a rock and a hard place. And I know, he's a man of honor etc. etc. I loved the female lead and some of the supporting cast. Though Jane's cousin, the heiress, is really quite self absorbed that only Jane's forgiveness of her many foibles had me willing to forgive her too. Oh my! I seem to have used a host of superlatives in this review. Yes, I could see the end coming, and am pleased to report that an HEA does hold sway, despite the path being strewn with obstacles.

A NetGalley ARC

*** 1/2