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review 2017-11-14 14:40
Dark Winds Rising
Dark Winds Rising: A Novel (Queen Branwen) - Mark Noce

Author: Mark Noce

Series: Queen Branwen #2

Rating: 4 stars

 

I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

 

Book Blurb:  "Three years after uniting the Welsh to defeat the Saxons and settling down with her true love, Artagan, Queen Branwen finds her world once again turned upside down as Pictish raiders harry the shores of her kingdom. Rallying her people once more, she must face her most dangerous foe yet, the Queen of the Picts. Ruthless and cunning, the Pictish Queen turns the Welsh against each other in a bloody civil war.

All the while Branwen is heavy with child, and finds her young son’s footsteps dogged by a mysterious assassin who eerily resembles her dead first husband, the Hammer King. In the murky world of courtly intrigue, Queen Branwen must continually discern friend from foe at her own peril in the ever-shifting alliances of the independent Welsh kingdoms.

Branwen must somehow defeat the Picts and save her people before the Pictish Queen and the assassin destroy their lives from the inside out. Just as the Saxons threatened Branwen’s kingdom from the landward side of her realm in Between Two Fires, now the Picts threaten her domain from sea in this thrilling sequel. But she soon finds that the enigmatic Picts are unlike any foe she has faced before."

 

This was a pretty good follow up to Between Two Fires

 

This time around Queen Branwen is pregnant and fighting. In short, the story is someone is threatening her baby boy and her lands so its time for her to step up and save the day. There is definitely a women empowerment feel to the entire story, with women basically solving problems/fighting/kicking butt and taking names while their male counterparts hit things and ask questions later. Meh - I dinged it a star for that. No need to stereotype to make a point. Women rock - we know. We don't need to knock men to realize it. 

 

That being said the story was enjoyable. There is a mystery in this one as there was in Fires. It is not as good. But the tension of the Welsh vs Saxons/Picts carried the story along nicely. One thing about these books is they are compulsively readable and an enjoyable way to spend a few hours. I finish Noce's books in a matter of days. Also, the characters are good. They stay true to form and he keeps a few shady ones around throughout the books to keep you on your toes. You never know whom to trust.

 

Looks like first person present tense is here to stay. I still don't like it, but again I enjoy this series and stories set during this time period. If another book comes out I will definitely be reading it. 

 

Recommend.

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text 2017-11-10 14:49
Friday Reads 11.10.2017
Between Two Fires: A Novel - Mark Noce
Dark Winds Rising: A Novel (Queen Branwen) - Mark Noce
Artemis: A Novel - Andy Weir

Happy Friday!

 

This weekend will be COLD. At least Saturday will be. So I hope to get some reading in. No real plans which is fine by me. My hubby, Kindle, hot chocolate, and slow cooker are all I need this weekend. Oh and Dr. Who. We have to be caught up before the Christmas special. 

 

Anywho, I am re-reading Between Two Fires before starting the sequel which is due out next month. I was able to get a copy of Dark Winds Rising through Netgalley. This re-read proves I am one moody reader. I remember feeling mildly enthused about Between Two Fires. This time around I cannot put the thing down. I read half of it in one day. I had planned on reading the sequel next month but I figured I will ride this binge and just segue into the sequel this weekend.  Oh and Mark Noce needs to shake the hand of whoever does his covers. LOVE THEM. 

 

If I'm really ambitious I will dive into Artemis. I was a huge fan of The Martian- the book and the movie - so I know Weir has a gift for riveting sci-fi. Looking forward to reading it. 

 

I hope you guys have great weekends and I look forward to reading your reviews during reading breaks. 

 

Happy Reading! 

 

 

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review 2017-11-04 11:32
Very satisfying conclusion of the trilogy
Heaven's Queen - Rachel Bach

I really really enjoyed this.

 

I loved the very original universe-building, the Alien races, the conflict and also the unravelling of all those hints from the first two books.

 

I loved the development of the female protag - loved also what happened with Rupert over the cause over the whole three books.

 

She was strong, but not perfect. And she was aware of herself, of her strengths and her weaknesses. She always did her best - I really liked that.

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review 2017-10-27 21:56
Ellery Queen, The Lamp of God (1935)
The Lamp of God - Ellery Queen

From Casual Debris.

 

 

Published 32 years ago this month, the Ellery Queen novella "The Lamp of God" is technically a supernatural story. The premise finds Detective Ellery Queen invited by lawyer acquaintance Thorne to help escort a young woman, Alice, to her father's isolated house to retrieve her inheritance. Arriving at the isolated Victorian "Black House," they spend the night in the adjacent "White House" where the deceased man's remaining kin have settled. Upon waking the next morning, the black house has entirely vanished!

Though readers can deduce early on that a rational explanation will be available to explain the house's disappearance, the fact that the plot hinges on the possibility of a ghostly house categorizes the story as supernatural. In fact the story can potentially be categorized as a ghost story, if one were to be inclined to argue that vanishing house is a ghostly object, but since the plot does not reflect it being an apparition, only that it disappeared, I would refute the claim. The story was, however, originally titled "The House of Haunts," whether by the authors or publisher, but despite this detail the supernatural element is not directly investigated, nor speculated upon, so nothing in the text claims that a haunting is a possibility.

It is only at the story's denouement that the supernatural element is entirely and indisputably removed.

Though it appears that by employing the supernatural as a possibility, the authors are challenging their own conventions, along with challenging the conventions of early detective fiction. However, they are taking safe refuge with how the supernatural element is presented. The story opens with a brief segment that establishes Ellery Queen as a strictly rational man, so that no fanciful ideas can act as potential realities in his mind. When the house disappears Queen is flabbergasted, as are the other, more impressionable, witnesses. Though Queen does, on occasion, comment on the fact that God's world is shaken and there are some minor comments on his faith in the rational being challenged, his thoughts are kept conveniently away from the reader and we later discover, though it is obvious, that throughout the plot his rational brain is picking up clues and piecing the evidence together. The questioning of Queen's reality is simplistic and certainly not terribly existential; Thorne and Alice are the ones whose cores are affected, but they are secondary players in the plot so their realities are further removed. Because even much of Queen's portrayal is distanced, and though we might receive the glimpse of a thought along the lines of his worlds being shaken up, his investigative mind is kept wholly secret, so that we are left to wonder what in fact was spinning in that head of his.

As a mystery story it is a product of its time. It features stock characters and is high on melodrama. However, it is quite entertaining, and the explanation of the house's disappearance is a good one. Some might figure it out; I admit that I did not.

Source: casualdebris.blogspot.ca/2017/10/ellery-queen-lamp-of-god.html
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review 2017-10-23 19:00
The Shogun's Queen by Lesley Downer
The Shogun's Queen: The Shogun Quartet, Book 1 - Lesley Downer

Only one woman can save her world from barbarian invasion but to do so will mean sacrificing everything she holds dear - love, loyalty and maybe life itself . . .

Japan, and the year is 1853. Growing up among the samurai of the Satsuma Clan, in Japan's deep south, the fiery, beautiful and headstrong Okatsu has - like all the clan's women - been encouraged to be bold, taught to wield the halberd, and to ride a horse.

But when she is just seventeen, four black ships appear. Bristling with cannon and manned by strangers who to the Japanese eyes are barbarians, their appearance threatens Japan’s very existence. And turns Okatsu’s world upside down.

Chosen by her feudal lord, she has been given a very special role to play. Given a new name - Princess Atsu - and a new destiny, she is the only one who can save the realm. Her journey takes her to Edo Castle, a place so secret that it cannot be marked on any map. There, sequestered in the Women’s Palace - home to three thousand women, and where only one man may enter: the shogun - she seems doomed to live out her days. But beneath the palace's immaculate facade, there are whispers of murders and ghosts. It is here that Atsu must complete her mission and discover one last secret - the secret of the man whose fate is irrevocably linked to hers: the shogun himself . . .

 
**********
 

The Shogun's Queen is such a fantastic book. My knowledge before this book about Japan during 19-century was very limited and I enjoyed both getting a fictional version as well getting a history lesson all in one book. It's actually a very tragic book, the end of the Shogun's regime in Japan that we get to see through the eyes of Okatsu, a girl that was chosen to try to stop the barbarians from taking over the realm either by forcing or by bullying the leaders into giving in. Reading how the Americans and the British, etc. practically set an ultimatum to the leaders to open the borders so they could get into the land made my blood boil. The audacity to think that they had that kind of right is infuriating.

Okatsu, later Princess Atsu, life is fascinating to read about, and through the book did I really hope that she would achieve her goal, and save the realm, but she faces a lot of obstacles in the Women's Palace. To get the Shogun to listen is hard, especially since he is controlled by his mother. And, the Shogun mother is not a woman that will see reason, all she wants is to control her son and what happens outside the walls of the Women's Palace is second that. It would perhaps be easier if the Shogun had been more of leader, but this is a man that should never have ruled. He may have been born to be the Shogun, but he had not the mental capacity for that. Which his mother took advantage of.

The Shogun's Queen is an engrossing book, well-researched and it left me with a need for reading more about Japan and the Shogun's. I loved that it's through Princess Atsu that we get an insight into the chaotic time period. She may be trapped in the Women's Palace, but it's there that so much happens, and it's there that the faith of Japan will be decided...

 

I want to thank the author for providing me with a free copy for an honest review!

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