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review 2018-08-09 17:04
A Fatal Waltz / Tasha Alexander
A Fatal Waltz - Tasha Alexander

At her friend Ivy's behest, Emily reluctantly agrees to attend a party at the sprawling English country estate of Lord Fortescue, a man she finds as odious as he is powerful. But if Emily is expecting Lord Fortescue to be the greatest of her problems, she is wrong. Her host has also invited Kristiana von Lange, an Austrian countess who was once linked romantically with Emily's fiancé, the debonair Colin Hargreaves. What Emily believes will be a tedious evening turns deadly when Fortescue is found murdered, and his protégé, Robert Brandon—Ivy's husband—is arrested for the crime.

Determined to right this terrible wrong and clear Robert's name, Emily begins to dig for answers, a quest that will lead her from London's glittering ballrooms to Vienna's sordid backstreets. Not until she engages a notorious anarchist in a game of wits does the shocking truth begin to emerge: the price of exonerating Robert can be paid only by placing Colin in deadly peril. To save her fiancé, Emily must do the unthinkable: bargain with her nemesis, the Countess von Lange.

 

Lady Emily and Colin Hargreaves are attending a party together, now that they are affianced. And of course, since this is an historical mystery series, there is a murder. It reminds me of Agatha Christie in that way—wherever Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot happen to go, there will be a murder. Christie tended to set her mysteries in a small town, to ensure that everyone knew one another. In this series, Alexander had chosen a certain stratum of society, who all socialize with and gossip about one another.

It seems that this series will also be a bit like Christie’s Tommy & Tuppence series too. This couple will team up to solve murders and diplomatic incidents together, like Tommy & Tuppence and their espionage endeavours. I have no idea whether Tasha Alexander set out to model her characters after Christie spy duo, but I will soon have the chance to hear her talk about her writing experience—the conference that I’ve been waiting all summer for starts tomorrow!

This is an engaging series and I will look for an excuse to read the next book as soon as I can.

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url 2018-08-07 18:41
Just 3 days until the When Words Collide conference begins!

 

I've read at least one book for each Guest of Honour and I'm ready to fangirl.

 

Plus, Guy Gavriel Kay (a guest of honour last year) is back and hosting a session on Friday afternoon!!!  *swoons*

 

Erin Lindsey and Tasha Alexander may feel like I'm stalking them before the weekend is over.  :)

 

I'm going to begin by going to a 2 hour session where all the guests of honour will be doing readings from their work. 

 

What an excellent way to begin a week's vacation!

 

 

 

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review 2018-08-02 19:37
Master of Plagues / E.L. Tettensor
Master of Plagues - E.L. Tettensor

Having barely escaped the clutches of the Darkwalker, Inspector Nicolas Lenoir throws himself into his work with a determination he hasn’t known in years. But his legendary skills are about to be put to the test. A horrific disease is ravaging the city—and all signs point to it having been deliberately unleashed.

With a mass murderer on the loose, a rising body count, and every hound in the city on quarantine duty, the streets of Kennian are descending into mayhem, while Lenoir and his partner, Sergeant Bran Kody, are running out of time to catch a killer and find a cure.

Only one ray of hope exists: the nomadic Adali, famed for their arcane healing skills, claim to have a cure. But dark magic comes at a price, one even the dying may be unwilling to pay. All that’s left to Lenoir is a desperate gamble. And when the ashes settle, the city of Kennian will be changed forever...

 

So, I have now finished all the published works by this author that I know of, and I’ll be seeing her at the When Words Collide conference in just over a week. Overall, I have to say that I like her writing. I didn’t like this book quite as much as I did the first one of the Nicolas Lenoir series, but that was probably just me—I’ve managed to overload myself just a bit lately and I’m feeling a bit pressured to read and read fast to make library deadlines, rather than reading as my spirit leads me!

As it was, right about half way through this book, the plot grabbed me and I then went fast & furious to the ending. Although this plot line is wrapped up, I have the sense there may be a third book in the offing and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for it. There are still issues to be dealt with, namely Lenoir and his junior partner Kody need to sort out their professional relationship and Lenoir needs to make some arrangements about orphan Zach too. It seems a bit harsh to rely on the kid for information but not make his life good enough that he can leave pick-pocketing behind.

Now that I think about it, although this book inhabits the same fantasy world as the first volume, this was a more prosaic plot line, with human enemies rather than paranormal ones. This rather dismal Victorian-esque world is well suited to the paranormal, so use of a plague as the main problem was a bit disappointing.

Nevertheless, I will be interested to hear the author’s perspectives on writing and writers at the conference.

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review 2018-07-31 19:46
Jade City / Fonda Lee
Jade City - Fonda Lee

FAMILY IS DUTY. MAGIC IS POWER. HONOR IS EVERYTHING.

Magical jade—mined, traded, stolen, and killed for—is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. For centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.

Now the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon's bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.

When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone—even foreigners—wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones—from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets—and of Kekon itself.

 

Recommended for people who love both The Godfather and kung fu movies.

I found I really had to be in the right mood to get started with this book (and it took me longer than usual to read it). I started it 3 or 4 times before I finally made it beyond the first few pages and discovered what a marvelous world Fonda Lee has created here. So it wasn’t the book at fault, it was my mood.

This is a fantasy world, where jade mined from the country of Kekon has magical qualities and some of the people of the realm have a special sensitivity to the stone. They get extra-special powers when they wear the stones, turning a regular person into someone with extra-strength, super-perception, etc. (they are known in Kekon as Green Bones). It’s real Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon stuff.

But this is very, very much a book about the two clans who uneasily share the city of Janloon, the No Peak clan and the Mountain clan. And let me tell you, they could give the Mafia a run for their money! It’s all about honour, family, & clan. May the gods help you if you disrespect any of these or if you try to trade loyalties!

The reader comes to know the main members of the No Peak clan intimately. There’s Lan, the Pillar (like the CEO) of the clan; Hilo, the Horn (the enforcer); and Shae, the sister who is trying to forge her own way in the world and separate herself from the gang lifestyle that she grew up with.

This is an extremely well-written, well-realized fantasy world. To my caucasian, North American eyes, this was exotic stuff, but I always knew what Lee was writing about, what she was trying to do. I loved her complex system of magic and the rules that governed it. If you’re sensitive about violence, I would say, “Set this book down and walk away. Jade City is not for you.” That’s one of the reasons why it took me so long to read the book—I could only take so much death & destruction per day.

This author will be at the conference that I’m attending in mid-August and I will definitely be fan-girling.

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text 2018-07-27 18:13
Reading progress update: I've read 344 out of 498 pages.
Jade City - Fonda Lee

Hilo draped his arms over Shae's shoulders and hugged her, then spoke into her ear, "I could still kill him for you."

 

"Screw you, Hilo," she snapped.  "I can kill my ex-boyfriends myself."

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