Book Reviews Fall 2012

So many good books to read, not enough time! Especially now with all the titles loaded onto my Kindle plus the books overflowing our shelves at home, I wish I had more time to lie on the couch and read. Still, I’ve managed to get through the below titles in the past few months. I’m sharing them with you in case you’re in a quandary as to what to read next—besides those listed in the sidebar to your right. There’s nothing like a good book to transport you to a magic place, whether past, present or future, and immerse your mind in another world.

DEATH OF A SCHOOLGIRL by Joanna Campbell Slan  (Historical Mystery)

This debut title in The Jane Eyre Chronicles will charm you into wanting to read more. Jane is now married to Mr. Rochester. She enjoys an elevated status in society and has given birth to a son. However, she leaves the comfort of home when a mysterious message arrives from her husband’s ward, young Adele Varens. The frightening missive indicates the girl’s life may be in danger. Jane travels to the child’s school where she is mistaken for a new teacher. With the help of an old friend who recognizes her, she goes undercover to catch a killer. Someone has murdered Selina Biltmore, one of the superintendent’s favorites. As Jane gets to know Selina’s classmates along with the house staff, she notes a wealth of suspects. The victim may have appeared a cherub, but she hid a dark side. Jane has to catch the killer fast if she wants to save Adele from harm and prevent an innocent teacher from getting the blame.

Death of a Schoolgirl will immerse you in Jane’s world, and you’ll be sorry to see the story end. I’m eager for the next installment in this delightful series.

Death of a Schoolgirl (The Jane Eyre Chronicles)

THE FIRST CONFESSOR by Terry Goodkind  (Fantasy)

This prequel to Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series features Magda Searus, widow of First Wizard Barracus. Magda senses something isn’t right about her husband’s death. Her investigation leads her to a dark conspiracy, a threat to the Wizard’s Keep and to the very fabric of life itself. The undead play a role in this captivating tale. I enjoyed reading how Magda became the first Confessor and how the Sword of Truth was created. It’s a true origin story and Goodkind’s initial venture into digital first publishing. I love his writing and can’t wait for the next installment in his fantasy world, whether it’s another prequel or a sequel. His exquisite attention to detail and to character depth and the fast-paced action will pull you into the story, and you won’t want it to end.

The First Confessor (The Legend of Magda Searus)

104 PUZZLE QUIZZES HD by the Grabarchuk Family

If you’re looking for a diversion when waiting in a doctor’s office or on a trip, download this puzzle book into your eReader device. Dozens of puzzles await your pleasure: mathematical, geometry, words, spatial, logic, and more. It’s a fun challenge to see if you can solve these brain teasers. You can download the book onto your Kindle or iPad. It’s very easy to operate with an iPad. You touch the responses to see if you have the correct answer. Navigation is a breeze on this device and do-able on the Kindle as well.

It’s a great book to have available when you want a quick puzzle fix or need to kill time. If you like brain challenges, add this book to your collection.

104 Puzzle Quizzes HD (Interactive Puzzlebook for Tablets)

SUNRISE ON THE MEDITERRANEAN by Suzanne Frank  (Historical Novel)

Time Travelers Chloe and Cheftu end up in the Biblical era of King David and the birth of Jerusalem. Mistaken for a mermaid goddess then captured as a slave, Chloe eventually ends up as a trusted advisor in King David’s court along with her husband Cheftu, appointed court scribe.

Old enemies aren’t far behind, and our heroes must prevent a plan that would destroy the holy city. And when they succeed, they’ll face a choice. Chloe can’t return to her own time, so will they stay in this era or move on?

Sunrise on the Mediterranean

WHY MERMAIDS SING by C.S. Harris (Historical Mystery)

Lord Devlin once again gets embroiled in a series of tragic murders. This time young men—the sons of prominent noblemen—are found dead and their bodies mutilated. Clues point to a sea voyage their parents had in common. What happened on that ship that is driving someone to make a statement in such a gruesome fashion? As Lord Devlin rushes to find the killer, he arouses someone’s interest and soon becomes a target himself. The secret of that voyage is one that people will kill to keep, even if it means sacrificing their own children. Can Lord Devlin save himself and track the murderer before more young people die? And can he hang onto the love of his life, actress Kat Boleyn, who gets herself immersed deeper into intrigue and her own danger? This captivating mystery will have you reaching for the sequel.

Why Mermaids Sing: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Book 3

A NECESSARY HUSBAND by Debra Mullins (Historical Romance)

Lucinda Devering’s future rides on the success of her protégée, young Meg Lynch. The Duke of Raynewood has hired Lucinda to train his American granddaughter to fit in with the nobility and position due her as a lady. However, Meg’s sea captain brother shows up with other plans. He wants to take Meg home to Boston but delays their voyage at his sister’s pleas. In the meantime, the Duke instructs Lucinda to tame this ruffian who is his only heir. Can Lucinda accomplish this difficult task when Garrett Lynch makes her heart beat faster and her hidden desires flare into life? Garrett finds himself drawn to his sister’s mentor against his will. He doesn’t want to like this life in England or take his role as Lord Kelton. But the longer he stays, the deeper the danger that Lucinda will tempt him to remain.

A Necessary Husband

HEART FATE by Robin D. Owens (Fantasy Romance)

Lahsin Yew escapes from an abusive husband into a hidden sanctuary where she seeks peace and her Second Passage to acquire the magic known as Flair. But she’s not the only resident in BalmHeal. Tinne Holly is there, too, allowed inside only because he’s anguished over his divorce. Both emotionally wounded by broken relationships, they are drawn together by their unacknowledged Heart bond. Will they be able to reconcile their pasts in order to move ahead into the future? With Lahsin wary of men, Tinne has to approach her carefully even as his heart yearns for her. Forbidden by law to mention their connection, he can only hope that time will heal them both so they can be together. But when Lahsin learns the truth, will she turn away from him? Excellent world building and likeable characters will pull you into this imaginative tale.

Heart Fate (Celta's HeartMates, Book 7)

ARK ANGEL by Anthony Horowitz (Teen Spy Fiction)

Teen spy Alex Rider is recovering from a gunshot wound in a private hospital when thugs burst in meaning to kidnap the boy in the next room. Wanting to protect the son of wealthy Nikolai Drevin, Alex takes his place. The bad guys, who don’t know one kid from another, forcibly take Alex to a deserted warehouse. There they await a response to their ransom demands. But Alex isn’t one to sit idly by, especially when the thugs threaten to cut off one of his fingers and send it to Drevin as proof they have his son. To forestall the horrendous act, Alex reveals his true identity and learns that the gang belongs to the terrorist group, Force Three. He manages a harrowing escape after the terrorists lock him up and set fire to the deserted building.

In gratitude to Alex for saving his son from a traumatic ordeal, Drevin invites Alex for a holiday on a private island in the Caribbean. Drevin’s space station is set to become the first hotel in space. But is that all Drevin plans? Engaged by both MI6 and the CIA, Alex attempts to discover Drevin’s secrets while pretending to be his son’s friend and an honored guest. His visit quickly turns dangerous as the Force Three gang shows up and Alex becomes the hunted instead of the hunter.

Another rousing episode in the Alex Rider series, this story is just as fast-paced and exciting as the rest. It’s pure escapism at heart.
Ark Angel (Alex Rider Adventure)

WHEN GODS DIE by C.S. Harris (Historical Mystery)

Viscount Devlin is once again tapped to use his unique sleuthing abilities to discover who has murdered the Marchioness of Anglessey. Is it the Prince Regent, who is caught with her body nearly in her arms? Or is it one of the prince’s political enemies who seeks to discredit him and put another claimant on the throne? Or is it the lady’s husband, jealous because she took a younger lover? Or maybe it’s the lover, whom she cast aside?

Lots of suspects abound in this intriguing mystery set in 1800’s London. Amid a deepening conspiracy, Devlin seeks justice and determines to find the killer. The stakes rise as traitors in high places attempt to silence him. Detailed settings and a dashing hero will have you seeking the next book in this engaging series.

When Gods Die: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery

SHIP OF DREAMS by Brenda Hiatt (Historical Romance)

Della, a medicinal herbalist, escapes from a possible murder charge in San Francisco onto a cruise liner headed to Panama and eventually the States. Needing a quick disguise, she proclaims a stranger onboard to be her husband. For reasons of his own, he plays along until the ship sails and he gets her alone in his cabin. When she reveals her ruse, he explains that he needs a wife for business purposes. They agree to an arrangement but their fake marriage soon changes into deep affection. Their marriage becomes real when the ship’s captain performs a secret ceremony.

Unfortunately, their wedded bliss is cut short when the ship founders in a storm and sinks. The two are separated, and she believes her husband to be dead. She makes her way to the eastern U.S. to meet his family, where she is not very welcome. She’s about to run away when her husband turns up, alive and well. Will their troubled start allow them to settle down, or are they each better off on their own? This heartwarming romance, along with vivid scenes of a shipwreck based on true stories, will keep you turning pages.

Ship of Dreams

August Reads

If you’re looking for some new reads, or are just curious about what I’m reading these days, take a look below. Usually I read more than one book at a time. Currently I’m reading the next C.S. Harris historical mystery, another Alex Rider installment, and a historical romance. How many books do you have going at one time? 

SCORPIA by Anthony Horowitz (Teen Spy Fiction)
Fourteen-year-old British agent Alex Rider is ostensibly on vacation in Italy but he’s really following a clue as to how his father died. When he learns the truth, he joins the criminal organization known as Scorpia. He knows they’re trained assassins, but he’s unaware of their terrifying plan to murder millions of London schoolchildren with a secret weapon.   Scorpia (Alex Rider)

Bent on personal revenge, Alex returns to England with only one mission: kill the person who shot his father. It’s none other than his former MI6 boss, Mrs. Jones. But then his plans start to go awry, and he ends up fighting for his home turf once again. Scorpia isn’t an organization to be thwarted, though, and they’ve made contingencies in case he betrays them.

This story is another exciting adventure in the rousing Alex Rider series, who’s like a junior James Bond fighting evil on a global scale. The fast-paced action will have you turning pages and rushing out to get the sequel. Pure escapist entertainment!

HOW TO PROPOSE TO A PRINCE by Kathryn Caskie (Historical Romance)
Elizabeth Royle is convinced she’s destined to marry a prince, so when she meets a man claiming to be Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, she knows it’s Fate. Little does she realize that her handsome prince is a decoy. His cousin, Lord Whitevale, is actually the prince, and Sumner—the real Marquess of Whitevale—is posing as the royal to draw assassins away.

Elizabeth falls in love with a man whose duty supposedly dictates he wed Princess Charlotte, possibly her half-sister. She despairs when Sumner seems to care for her but keeps getting pulled away for affairs of state. Should she believe her senses or what others are telling her about his need for a political match? She can’t compete against a royal princess.    How to Propose to a Prince (Avon Romantic Treasure)

Her association with the prince proves dangerous when a sniper shoots at them. But even though he isn’t meant for her, Elizabeth seeks to protect him. She has to have faith that he’ll find a way back to her as promised.

Secret identity stories are always engaging. Although the reader knows what’s going on, the anticipation is high for when Elizabeth learns the truth. Will she feel betrayed, or will she believe Sumner’s declarations when he says she’s the one who captured his heart?

LOUISA AND THE COUNTRY BACHELOR by Anna Maclean (Historical Mystery)
This is the second Louisa May Alcott mystery where we read about Louisa’s life as a young woman before she became a famous author. Louisa and her family are vacationing with cousins in New Hampshire. Their rural village suffers a tragedy when a young laborer is found dead, pushed down a ravine. His sister believes one of the shopkeepers killed him so as to buy their piece of land by the railroad track, but Louisa isn’t so easily convinced. Their neighbors harbor secrets, and all isn’t what it seems in this sleepy little town. The questions build as she investigates, especially when the local sheriff suspects her close friend of being the murderer. To prove his innocence, Louisa probes into people’s lives, not realizing she’s putting her own safety at stake. Another delightful installment in a charming series.
Louisa and the Country Bachelor: A Louisa May Alcott Mystery

NORWAY TO HIDE by Maddy Hunter (Mystery)
This entry in Maddy Hunter’s Passport to Peril series is just as amusing as the other stories in her repertoire. You’ll smile as you read about the antics of tour Norway to Hide (Passport to Peril Mysteries)guide Emily Andrews and her senior citizens on their trip to Scandinavia. The Iowan group is dismayed to be thrown in with a bunch of Floridians, even more so when a guest turns up dead. What secrets is this troupe hiding that they’d kill to keep quiet? Norway to Hide is a humorous tale that will have you chuckling and guessing until the final clue.

WHAT ANGELS FEAR by C.S. Harris (Historical Mystery)
This first title in the Sebastian St. Cyr mystery series will hook you and reel you in. Accused of a heinous rape/murder, Viscount Devlin flees the authorities and takes refuge in 1811 London where he seeks to clear his name. With various allies to help him, he unravels a scheme involving French spies, political intrigue, blackmail, and greed. Evocative setting details will have you believing you’re in fog-shrouded London as you follow the hero’s adventures into disreputable alleyways and slummy inns as he searches for the killer before the man strikes again. Devlin can’t even trust his own family who harbors damaging secrets. At stake is the life of a woman he once loved and who loves him still. Can he unmask the villain, save the Regency, and avoid the hangman’s noose? Once you read this book, you’ll want to find more stories in Harris’s engaging series.

What Angels Fear: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Book 1

Recent Reads

I haven’t posted any book reviews lately, although you can follow me on Goodreads to catch my reports. But people often ask writers what we like to read. So here are the books I finished in June.

THE SELECTION by Kiera Cass (Teen Fiction)                           The Selection
Thirty five girls are chosen to compete for the hand in marriage of handsome Prince Maxon in the land known as Illéa. America Singer, a musician and member of a lower caste, enters her name in the lottery after her crush Aspen casts her off. She doesn’t expect to get chosen and is surprised when her name is announced. Soon she journeys to the palace to meet the prince and appear in broadcasts with the other contestants. As she gets to know Maxon, her feelings for him blossom, but the Selection is marred by increasingly violent rebel attacks. What do the rebels want? Why does the king suppress the region’s history? And what’s America to do when Aspen joins the draft and shows up as a palace guard?

The world-building works in this novel that’s part fantasy and partly a take-off on reality shows. I believe it’s billed as the Hunger Games meets the Bachelor. Certainly, the gorgeous cover draws you in. As a reader, you quickly become invested in America’s happiness and wonder how she might help the country if she ends up as Maxon’s bride. But his choice isn’t made by the last page. You have to tune in to the sequel to continue the story and might find this tactic somewhat frustrating.

Accustomed to reading romance novels, I would have liked a conclusive ending. It disturbs me that I might have to read two more books to reach a finale, but I like the story enough that it might be worth the wait. I know how I would like this tale to end. I just wish it wouldn’t take three books to cross that finish line. Find on Amazon

TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG by Connie Willis (Time Travel Historical)
The Connie Willis books I’ve read have been complex stories that take place in dark times of global history. To the contrary, this title is more like a Shakespearean comedy of manners. It’s a twisted tale, hard to follow at first, seeming to wander aimlessly with silly incidents, until the story finally becomes more focused at least halfway through. Then my interest peaked but not so much in the beginning. Certainly I didn’t find it hilarious, more like amusing, and a cheerful diversion from Willis’s usual works. As always, her depiction of the era is vastly detailed and immersive. If you were to start with one of her books, though, I wouldn’t choose this one.  I think you need to be a fan to appreciate its absurdities, although some readers love this book the best. My favorites are Doomsday, Black Out, and All Clear. Find on Amazon

UTTERLY DEVOTED by Regina Scott (Regency Romance)
This pleasant Regency romance is a staple in the genre but the plot is a bit contrived. Left in the lurch by the rake Jareth Darby after he loved her and left her, Eloise denies his attraction when they meet again several years later. He is determined to reform himself and begs her forgiveness. To earn her regard, he promises to pass three tests, but neither of them count on falling in love. Can Eloise get over the past in order to accept her future? Find on Amazon

THE PRINCESS AND THE PEER by Tracy Anne Warren (Historical Romance)    The Princess and the Peer
When Princess Emmaline of Rosewald is told that she must marry for the political future of her country, she runs away to London for a last fling before bowing to duty. But she doesn’t anticipate the confusion and chaos that greets her in the big city, nor does she know what to do after her reticule is stolen. Adrift in strange territory, she accepts the offer of a stranger who comes to her assistance.

Nick Gregory, the Earl of Lyndhurst after his elder brother’s death, is still adjusting to his new title when he encounters the lovely wench in the street. Assuming her to be an unemployed governess by her refined manner, he offers shelter until she can contact her family. But as he gets to know Emma, his need for her grows. Emma reciprocates his affection, but she’s aware that their relationship must end. Duty calls, and she will not forsake her country. What she doesn’t anticipate is that Nick isn’t willing to give her up and will pursue her until she becomes his wife. Find on Amazon

ANGEL’S ADVOCATE by Mary Stanton (Mystery)
In this Beaufort & Company Mystery, attorney Brianna Winston-Beaufort accepts the case of a young woman accused of ripping off a Girl Scout selling cookies. But the girl’s troubles are minor compared to those of her recently deceased father, whose condemned soul pleads for Brianna’s assistance in celestial court. Was he murdered like he hinted, or did he die in a car crash as everyone believes? Did he become aware of shady goings-on among his associates, or was he a part of them? And how does poor Lindsey fit in? With one case in the temporal world and another in the realm of angels, how will Brie learn the truth? With the supernatural help of her friends and a couple of guardian dogs, she sets on the path to justice. Angel’s Advocate is a twisted tale of paranormal mystery with a dollop of Southern charm. Find on Amazon

Angel's Advocate (A Beaufort & Company Mystery)What are you reading these days?

Shear Murder Review

SHEAR MURDER by Nancy J. Cohen

Hairstylist Marla Shore is quite excited to be part of her friend Jill’s wedding party. Marla’s own wedding is scheduled for only a few weeks away, but she’s more than delighted to assist her friend. Of course Marla’s own schedule is impossible – between both weddings, moving to a new home, and expanding her hair salon – the last thing she needs is a murder investigation, but that’s exactly what’s thrown her way when Jill’s sister, Torrie, turns up dead at the wedding reception.     

Jill begs Marla for her help in investigating the murder. After all, Marla has more experience than the police in investigating crimes these days. She discovers there were quite a few people who would want to kill Torrie, including her good friend Jill. Marla begins to step on many toes as she continues questioning all the suspects.

Meanwhile, Marla’s wedding draws closer and her fiancé, Dalton, who happens to be a police detective, is getting angrier and angrier at her involvement in this murder case. Not to mention it becomes clear that Marla angered the wrong person and has now become the target of a killer. Will she even make it to her own wedding alive?

This is the tenth book of Nancy J. Cohen’s “A Bad Hair Day Mystery” series and I loved it! I haven’t read the previous nine books, which is unusual for me, but it really didn’t matter – at least not as far as the storyline went. I didn’t need the previous books to read this one, but I would like to read about Marla and Dalton’s relationship. Fortunately, I have the first book on my Nook and I’ll definitely be continuing from there.

Marla Shore is a likeable and strong heroine. Although scared for her safety, I did understand her motivation. I loved how Dalton stood behind her and was supportive. A great couple!

The story is laced with humor, romance and mystery. It’s a quick, fast-paced book set in beautiful South Florida. For a few hours, I felt like I was on vacation. It’s a great read to escape from everyday life. It will keep you smiling through the entire book.

Socrates’ Cozy Cafe
http://socratesbookreviewblog.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/review-shear-murder-by-nancy-j-cohen/

Socrates’ Book Review Blog
http://socratesbookreviews.blogspot.com/2012/05/shear-murder-by-nancy-j-cohen.html

Support Your Favorite Author

TEN WAYS TO SUPPORT YOUR FAVORITE AUTHOR

How can you keep your favorite authors writing the series you love so much?  How can you inspire them when the publishing world dives and drags them along for the ride?

Here are some ways you can help besides showing up at a booksigning, ordering their book in the library, or giving a copy of their book as a gift.

  • Post reviews of their books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Facebook, Shelfari, your blog, and anywhere else that takes reader reviews. And while you’re at it, give their book five star ratings.
  • Tag their book sites on Amazon.  Scroll down on the book page to where it says Tags Customers Associate with this Product and put in your tags, i.e. keywords, or click Agree With These Tags.
  • “Like” the author’s posts on Facebook
  • Tweet their blog posts or other sites to your friends and retweet their Twitter posts.
  • Write them a message of support.  Authors need inspiration and you, the reader, are the reason why we write. 
  • If you’re really dedicated, lead a discussion group about their books.
  • Mention their books on Amazon Listmania and other favorites lists
  • Request bookmarks and pass them out to people you know who like to read.
  • Suggest their book for a book club discussion.
  • Provide links online to their website, blog, and Facebook fan page.

 What would you add?  As an author, can you make any other suggestions?  As a reader, what can the author do for you in return?

Share/Bookmark

BOOK & FILM REVIEWS

Every so often, I share what I’ve been reading or seeing at the movies. So here are my latest reviews.

AVATAR (Film Review)

Several words come to mind to describe this film: Awesome. Revolutionary. Mind-Blowing. The story itself is nothing new. Technologically advanced militants seek to exploit unskilled natives who live close to nature and worship spirits of the land. It’s environmentalists versus developers. Warriors versus innocents. Foreign invaders versus Native Americans. The parallels to Pocohontas are clear. What’s different is the amazing 3-D technology, the film making, the fantastic world building that makes you feel you are on this planet with these people. Amazing creatures. Floating mountains. Beautiful lush greenery. Fearsome beasts. Willowy seeds from the spirit tree. The Home Tree reminded me of the Tree of Life in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, or the great World Tree in Norse mythology. The blue-skinned natives, created through special effects, look wonderfully real as does the world they live in. But why must the military commander in sf/f always want to kill the poor natives or the friendly aliens? Can’t we make a genre movie without stereotypes? At least the story has heart, and you feel the triumphs and sorrows of the characters, but it’s really the feeling of being in this wondrous place that will stick in your mind when you leave the theater.

WHEN IN ROME (Film Review)

Movies have been done before when a person tosses a coin in a magic fountain and wishes for love, except in this story, the roles are reversed. A girl takes coins from a fountain on a lark and becomes the object of love for several wacko suitors. The only man she wants is charmingly real, but is his affection true or is it inspired by the magic spell? She has to return each coin to the man who tossed it in to undo the enchantment. Will she be able to give back the coin to the man she loves?

THE SLAYER by Cindy Dees (Paranormal Time Travel Romance)

Tessa Marconi jumps back in time to the Persian Empire to recover a stone fragment that will help mankind in its quest to reach the stars. But opposed to her is court wizard Rustam, who turns out to be a Centauri agent sent to stop her. Rustam’s duty is clear, but his heart is captured by the lovely woman who possesses the ability to soar with him into space every time they make love. He understands the significance of this latent talent Tessa harbors, and it just might bring about their doom. An unusual twist on the time travel theme.

THE NUDE by Dorothy McFalls (Regency Romance)

Widowed Lady Mercer has always harbored a secret crush on the artist known as Dionysus, until a nude portrait of her shows up at an affair of the ton. With her reputation in tatters, Elsbeth accepts an invitation to a house party from Nigel, Marquess of Edgeware. For some mysterious reason of his own, Nigel insists on repairing her standing in society. As she is drawn to the kind man, she realizes someone is trying to kill him. Is it Dionysus, the reclusive artist whose identity no one knows? His cousin Charlie who stands to inherit his estate? Or his trusted friend George who might be involved in smuggling? The Nude is a good murder mystery in addition to a worthy and engaging historical romance. It kept me guessing whodunit until the end.

DESIRE UNTAMED by Pamela Palmer (Paranormal Romance)

Kara MacAllister’s life changes abruptly when her ailing mother dies, abnormal creatures attack her, and a powerful stranger abducts her. Lyon says she’s destined to become the Radiant and save his alien race. Seduced by his sensuality, she opens herself to the possibility that she’s an immortal like him and his brethren, the so-called Feral Warriors, protectors of Earth and foe to an evil demon trying to rise again. She must assume her powers if her people and Lyon’s are to survive. But there’s one thing he neglected to tell her, and that’s the men’s shape shifting ability. Can she help him regain his animal form while taming the beast within? Imaginative world building, likeable heroine, and a unique premise. 

BEGUILED by Maureen Child (Paranormal Romance)

Artist Maggie Donovan has only recently become Queen of the Fae. She’s not too happy about this development especially when Fae Warrior Culhane pushes her to assume the throne. She likes her life in California just fine, at least until the former evil queen Mab escapes and Maggie’s niece is kidnapped and demons attack. Her peace shattered, Maggie has no choice except to accept her destiny along with the warrior who captured her heart. A delightful read.

KRIS LONGKNIFE: UNDAUNTED by Mike Shepherd (Science Fiction)

Princess and Lieutenant Kristine Longknife activates a political maelstrom when she brings onboard her explorer ship an Iteeche Imperial Representative. Why does the member of an enemy race want to meet with her grandpa, King Ray? Ron, the taciturn official, won’t say, except that the grave matter concerns both their peoples. This meeting opens up a can of worms that King Ray is reluctant to expose, so instead he sends Kris on an out of the way mission to Texarkana to quell the flames of political unrest. Kris, with the Iteeche entourage aboard, meets more resistance than expected, but with her usual panache she accomplishes her task. Returning home, she only has to convince her superiors to listen to what the Iteeche have to say. Great setup for a sequel.

BOOK REVIEWS

Do you keep track of the books you read? Some readers maintain elaborate spreadsheets or use software programs to catalogue their collection. I prefer to write a brief blurb on each story and to list the books I read on a monthly basis. Since I haven’t shared these with you in a while, here are the last two months of books that have kept me hooked. I’ve thrown in a film review for your pleasure.

TEMPLE OF THE WINDS by Terry Goodkind (Fantasy)

This is the fourth installment in Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series. I got hooked by watching Legend of the Seeker on TV and now I can’t put the books down. As in the other volumes, a love story propels the plot, which features woodsman Richard Cipher, now known as Lord Rahl and a wizard in his own right. His powers are tested as a plague sweeps the land, decimating his people and his army. Dark magic started the disease, and only magic can stop it, but at a terrible cost to both Richard and his lady love, Kahlan the Mother Confessor. The evil Emperor Jagang is determined to defeat them. Between him and Richard’s former nemesis Darken Rahl, they force Richard and Kahlan to pay a terrible price to save their people.

THE PROPHET OF YONWOOD by Jeanne DuPrau (YA Fantasy)

Eleven year old Nickie comes to Yonwood with her aunt to sell her late great grandfather’s house. The town is in an uproar after a citizen predicts the end of the world. To save themselves, the townsfolk follow the dictates of righteous Mrs. Beeson who seeks out evil like an incarnation of a Salem witch hunter. This is the third volume in DuPrau’s Book of Ember series, but unlike the other two, it takes place before the cataclysm that destroyed civilization as we know it. Although this story deploys the author’s theme about people’s intolerance of anyone who is different, I didn’t enjoy this story as much as the first two books. The City of Ember was wonderful, with imaginative world building and engaging characters. Like Legend of the Seeker, the film City of Ember hooked me on the series. The People of Sparks, the second book, shows how conflict can build between two groups who don’t understand each other. The Prophet of Yonwood introduces this same idea about intolerance but the lesson is almost too obvious to be appealing anymore.

SHERLOCK HOLMES (Film).

Robert Downey Jr. is good in the lead role, and all the other actors are convincible as well. The period sets are very atmospheric. The villain is so evil you don’t know how Holmes will stop him, and as a detective, Holmes’s deductive reasoning is logical if a bit hard to follow. I enjoyed Holmes and Watson being more action oriented in this film. It’s gritty and dark, giving a realistic view of the era, but satisfying in its climactic resolution. You’ll want to see it again to follow the clues.

KINDRED SPIRITS by Allison Lane (Regency romance)

Colonel Jack Caldwell is plagued by nightmares after cashing in his commission and retiring to his country estate. But peace is out of reach when he meets neighbor Marianne Barnett. Marianne, an orphan, is a victim of her guardian’s greed. The man will stop at nothing to acquire her inheritance. Since she’s about to come of age, he takes drastic steps to ensure control, playing on Marianne’s fears and memory lapses from a horrific event in her past. He doesn’t count on interference from Jack, who proposes a solution. Jack marries Marianne and together they forge a tentative bond while attempting to free themselves of the emotional shackles binding them. Their histories must come to light before they can move forward and find true happiness.

LARCENY AND LACE by Annette Blair (mystery)

Vintage clothing shop owner Madeira Cutler has enough to contend with before the grand opening of her store, but finding some old bones leads her to a long ago murder. The killer is still alive, however, and determined that Maddie doesn’t get a clue about what happened. With the help of her psychic abilities and a resident ghost, she follows the threads, weaves the clues together, and gets to the cut of the crime. Cleverly magical.

THE LADY AND THE CIT by Blair Bancroft (Regency romance)

Wealthy landowner Aurelia Trevor seeks a husband who can manage her estate and get rid of her cunning uncle and his son who covet her lands before she reaches her majority. When she meets London financier Thomas Lanning, she decides he’ll suit her needs. Surprisingly, he accepts her proposition, while guarding his own agenda. He doesn’t count on his quiet wife growing into a force of her own, nor does she realize there’s more to life than her small country world. Soon their life is turned topsy turvy as more family members descend on the newlyweds and Thomas aims for a political seat. Will Aurelia support him, or will she turn him out? Despite Thomas’s apparent aloofness, he isn’t immune to his wife’s charms and soon wants a lot more from their marriage than her dutiful support.

JEWEL OF ATLANTIS by Gena Showalter (paranormal romance)

Grayson James has been sent to Atlantis to recover the famed Jewel of Dunamis. Attacked by various beasts, he accepts aid from a mysterious woman named Jewel. Gradually, he realizes she is more than she seems, but by then she’s stolen his heart. How can they ever be together when their worlds are so different? If Jewel crosses into his domain, she might die. But neither can he leave his people behind. Is there any way for them to be together?

KENSINGTON’S SOUL by Faith V. Smith (paranormal romance)

Detective by day and vampire by night, Zachary Kensington rescues Dr. Miranda James when she is attacked by a couple of thugs. Doomed to spend eternity in his unwanted immortal form, he battles against the evil vamp Gabriella who turned him. When he falls for Miranda, can he keep Gabriella away from his love, or will she become the next victim? Savannah is the charming setting for this tale of passion and redemption that will have you cheering for Zach to achieve his heart’s desire.