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review 2019-01-18 16:03
Bayou Moon / Ilona Andrews
Bayou Moon - Ilona Andrews

The Edge lies between worlds, on the border between the Broken, where people shop at Walmart and magic is a fairytale–and the Weird, where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change your destiny…

Cerise Mar and her unruly clan are cash poor but land rich, claiming a large swathe of the Mire, the Edge swamplands between the state of Louisiana and the Weird. When her parents vanish, her clan’s long-time rivals are suspect number one.

But all is not as it seems. Two nations of the Weird are waging a cold war fought by feint and espionage, and their conflict is about to spill over into the Edge—and Cerise’s life . William, a changeling soldier who left behind the politics of the Weird, has been forced back into service to track down a rival nation’s spymaster.

When William’s and Cerise’s missions lead them to cross paths, sparks fly—but they’ll have to work together if they want to succeed…and survive.

 

One of the main things that I love about the Andrews’ female main characters is that they are very self-sufficient & competent to run their lives. They are acknowledged to be high functioning people by their families & circles of friends. Not only can they handle the vicissitudes of life, they can defend themselves and their dependents.

Another reason that I love their books? The humour. In this book, when Cerise and William first meet, they are both “undercover.” She thinks he’s an ass and secretly calls him Lord Leatherpants. She is smelling rather pungent, and William not-so-secretly calls her the Hobo Queen.

William leaned forward and pointed at the river. “I don’t know why you rolled in spaghetti sauce,” he said in a confidential voice. “I don’t really care. But that water over there won’t hurt you. Try washing it off.”
She stuck her tongue out.
“Maybe after you’re clean,” he said.
Her eyes widened. She stared at him for a long moment. A little crazy spark lit up in her dark irises.
She raised her finger, licked it, and rubbed some dirt off her forehead.
Now what?
The girl showed him her stained finger and reached toward him slowly, aiming for his face.
“No,” William said. “Bad hobo.”



There are, of course, the obligatory rocks in the romance road. As Shakespeare told us, the course of true love never did run smooth. But that line is from Midsummer Night’s Dream and the plot line of this story is more Taming of the Shrew.

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review 2019-01-18 05:41
The Spirit in Question (Lila MacLean Mystery, #3)
The Spirit in Question - Cynthia Kuhn

I enjoy this series a lot - it's cozy without being twee, and the mysteries are reasonably well plotted most of the time.  I also love that Kuhn shows way more than she tells; this might be the only reason I'd tell someone to read these in order.  The stories don't require it at all, but the author doesn't waste her established readers' time by going over all the backstory.  New readers might feel lost if they started with book 3 instead of book 1.

 

The Spirit in Question isn't anything I can rave about, it was just an enjoyable story.  My first inclination was to give it 3.5 stars, but that's more a reflection of my bias against mysteries that take place in the theatre.  It's a haunted theatre though, so that gave it an edge for me.

 

The plotting was solid; I had no idea who the killer was.  But on the other hand, the motive for the killer felt a little weak.  Possibly, maybe, one that unconsciously falls back on an old stereotype that feminists would grind their teeth over.  It didn't bother me, but I did notice it.

 

My only complaint about the series overall is that she doesn't write them faster.  I need more solid, dependable cozy/traditional series in my life like this one.

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review 2019-01-16 22:09
What Angels Fear / C.S. Harris
What Angels Fear - C.S. Harris

It's 1811, and the threat of revolution haunts the upper classes of King George III's England. Then a beautiful young woman is found raped and savagely murdered on the altar steps of an ancient church near Westminster Abbey. A dueling pistol discovered at the scene and the damning testimony of a witness both point to one man, Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, a brilliant young nobleman shattered by his experience in the Napoleonic Wars.

Now a fugitive running for his life, Sebastian calls upon his skill as an agent during the war to catch the killer and prove his own innocence. In the process, he accumulates a band of unlikely allies, including the enigmatic beauty Kat Boleyn, who broke Sebastian's heart years ago. In Sebastian's world of intrigue and espionage, nothing is as it seems, yet the truth may hold the key to the future of the British monarchy, as well as to Sebastian's own salvation...

 

Perhaps a 3.5 star book?

Certainly good, but maybe not exactly my cup of tea. Probably because of the time period, which so many people seem to adore. I, however, have a complicated relationship with the time of carriages, cloaks, dueling pistols, and severe class distinctions.

I also went into this expecting a paranormal angle of some sort, which was completely off base. Yes, our hero, Sebastian St. Cyr, has a couple of special abilities, but as the author explains at book’s end, this is from a documented genetic condition, not a paranormal cause.

If you enjoyed this book or this time period, I would recommend Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia or Veronica Speedwell series. Also try E.L. Tettensor’s Nicolas Lenoir duology or The Hanged Man by P.N. Elrod. These last two have distinct paranormal aspects, which made them preferable for my reading tastes.

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review 2019-01-16 21:47
In the Bleak Midwinter / Julia Spencer-Fleming
In the Bleak Midwinter - Julia Spencer-Fleming

Heavy Snow...Icy Desires...Cold-Blooded Murder

Clare Fergusson, St. Alban's new priest, fits like a square peg in the conservative Episcopal parish at Millers Kill, New York. She is not just a "lady," she's a tough ex-Army chopper pilot, and nobody's fool. Then a newborn infant left at the church door brings her together with the town's police chief, Russ Van Alstyne, who's also ex-Army and a cynical good shepherd for the stray sheep of his hometown. Their search for the baby's mother quickly leads them into the secrets that shadow Millers Kill like the ever-present Adirondacks. What they discover is a world of trouble, an attraction to each other—and murder...

 

I never know these days when I pick up a mystery whether it will be a hit or a miss—I have read so many of them at this point that I’ve become pretty picky.

So I was pleasantly surprised by this selection—for a first book of a series, it was great. First off, I enjoyed the author’s style. I was never distracted by the words, I was able to immerse myself in the world of Millers Kill, N.Y. and go with the flow.

Secondly, I really connected with her two main characters, Rev. Claire Fergusson and the Chief of Police, Russ Van Alstyne. I loved Clare’s independence, the unexpectedness of her being an Episcopalian priest, being ex-army, driving an impractical hot little red car, and learning the ins and outs of this new community where she has been hired. I also couldn’t help liking Russ, who grew up in the community and has returned after his army career.

Just like Agatha Christie, Spencer-Fleming has chosen a small town as a setting for her story. It gives Clare and Russ a much better knowledge of the people around them, making the crime-solving aspect much more informed and interesting. Solving murders in a big city involves much more luck, while these mysteries set in small communities allow for much more exploration of the human decisions that pull people into criminal acts.

Unlike so many series where I’ve sampled one book and feel no need to follow up, I suspect I will catch up with Claire and Russ again in the near future!

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review 2019-01-16 21:28
The Wisdom of Psychopaths / Kevin Dutton
The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success - Kevin Dutton

In this engrossing journey into the lives of psychopaths and their infamously crafty behaviors, the renowned psychologist Kevin Dutton reveals that there is a scale of “madness” along which we all sit. Incorporating the latest advances in brain scanning and neuroscience, Dutton demonstrates that the brilliant neurosurgeon who lacks empathy has more in common with a Ted Bundy who kills for pleasure than we may wish to admit, and that a mugger in a dimly lit parking lot may well, in fact, have the same nerveless poise as a titan of industry.

 

As Dutton develops his theory that we all possess psychopathic tendencies, he puts forward the argument that society as a whole is more psychopathic than ever: after all, psychopaths tend to be fearless, confident, charming, ruthless, and focused—qualities that are tailor-made for success in the twenty-first century.

 

 

If you choose to read this book, I would advise regarding it completely as entertainment. Don’t expect it to reveal too much about the issue of psychopathy—it tells the reader much more about the author than about this mental condition.

This is a book to be enjoyed for its anecdotes, not for its scholarship. The author seems to believe that quite a number of psychopaths populate his life—from his father to one of his childhood friends. Plus he tells an entertaining story of his visit to Broadmoor Hospital, where psychopaths are securely housed.

Despite the author’s enthusiasm, I’m not sure that we regular folk have anything of any great import to learn from psychopaths. Much more significant in my opinion is the ability of regular folk to recognize these damaged people and deal with or avoid them, something that the author doesn’t even broach. This seems to be more the author as a fan, rather than a realist about the condition.  Still an entertaining read.

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