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review 2017-12-12 05:08
Enjoying this series, good addition
The Highwayman's Bite | Historical Paranormal Romance: Regency Vampires (Scandals With Bite Book 6) - Brooklyn Ann

Another good read from the Scandals with Bite series! Rhys is such a caring man even though he tries to appear otherwise, and I fell in love with him. Vivian's unusual activities and behavior made her a fun-to-read person. Together, the chemistry is steamy, and I had to keep turning the pages. I loved this book and the series, and I recommend both.

I received a copy of this story as a gift, and this is my unsolicited review.

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review 2017-12-11 23:55
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 9 Reads (Winter Solstice / Yaldā Night and Yuletide)
The Poetry - David Shaw-Parker,Christina Rossetti,Ghizela Rowe
Goblin Market - Christina Rossetti
A Christmas Visitor - Anne Perry
Colour Scheme - Ngaio Marsh,Ric Jerrom

Book themes for Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night: Read a book of poetry.

Book themes for Yuletide: Read a book set in the midst of a snowy or icy winter.

 

Holiday Book Joker as Bonus Joker: A book set on Winter Solstice (or Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere)

 

  

 

Winter Solstice and Yaldā Night Read: Christina Rossetti: The Poetry

A wonderful reading of some of Christina Rossetti's best-known poems by David Shaw-Parker and Ghizela Rowe, including her long narrative The Goblin Market, which I also own (and reread, for the occasion) in a delightful hardcopy edition illustrated with images by Christina's elder brother, the Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  Not holiday reading per se (and The Goblin Market is decidedly dark), but still very fitting poetic complementary material for the holiday season.  Highly recommended!

 

  

 

Yuletide Read: Anne Perry: A Christmas Visitor

Anne Perry's Christmas novellas are spin-offs of her major Victorian series (Thomas & Charlotte Pitt, and William Monk, respectively), featuring supporting characters from those series as their protagonists.  A Christmas Visitor is the second of those novellas, and its protagonist is Henry Stanhope, a mathematician friend of William Monk's.  Stanhope travels to the snow-laden Lake District to spend Christmas with the family of his longstanding friend Judah Dreghorn; only to discover that just prior to his arrival Judah has apparently slipped on a set of ice-sheeted stones crossing a brook on his estate.  What initially looked like an accident, at closer inspection is revealed to be murder, and while everybody's favorite and allegedly most likely suspect is soon found, it falls to Henry to find out what really happened.

 

Perry's writing is very atmospheric and captures the Lake District, 19th century rural society, and the Christmas spirit to perfection -- I loved this story right up until its very end, which (even for a Christmas book) struck me as overly moralizing and sentimental on the one hand, and just that decisive bit too neat on the other hand.  (Readers not enamored of mysteries hingeing on certain points of law might be turned off on those grounds)  Still, for a quick read to get into the spirit of the season (and be served up a nicely-plotted mystery into the bargain), I could hardly have done better -- and the stellar reading by Terrence Hardiman contributed greatly to my enjoyment.

 

  

 

Winter Solstice Book Joker Bonus Read: Ngaio Marsh: Colour Scheme

One of my favorite mysteries from Ngaio Marsh's Roderick Alleyn series, here served up in an unabridged reading by Ric Jerrom.  The story is set in Marsh's native New Zealand and begins on Summer Solstice, which is Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and thus makes the book eligible for this particular holiday's book joker.

 

The mystery is set at a spa hotel near a hot springs / mud pot / small version of Yellowstone National Park type of area, where a gentleman who has made one enemy too many (i.e., your classic Golden Age murder victim) one day is found to have fallen into a boiling hot mud pot.  (He may or may not also have been a German spy -- the story is set in the 1940s -- but this is one of the rare exceptions of a Golden Age mystery with that kind of angle that is blessedly devoid of "5th column" shenanigans, and where the war background is actually used skillfully to demonstrate how WWII affected daily life even in seemingly remote New Zealand.)  Also present at the spa is, inter alia, a star of the British stage and screen (unabashedly based on Sir Laurence Olivier) -- secretary in tow -- as well as, arriving on the day after the "accidental" death that very probably wasn't an accident, a Mr. Septimus Small, whom none of the other denizens of the spa manage to figure out, and who soon inspires the wildest conjectures as to his identity and occupation.

 

Upon revisiting the mystery -- thanks in no small part to Ric Jerrom's excellent narration and portrayal of the characters -- I found the story's inner logic (and the path to the solution) decidedly more obvious than when I first read it a few years ago, but then again, this time I knew where the whole thing was headed and, consequently, I was not as distracted by minutiae as the first time around.

 

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review 2017-12-11 18:38
Review: "Maelstrom" (Whyborne & Griffin, #7) by Jordan L. Hawk
Maelstrom - Jordan L. Hawk

 

~ 5 STARS ~

 

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review 2017-12-11 14:16
Review: Let Us Dream by Alyssa Cole
Let Us Dream - Alyssa Cole

This is a novella that was originally published in the anthology Daughters of a Nation.

 

I read this for square 7 (International Human Rights Day) as it takes place in Harlem (in 1917) as the state of New York prepares to vote in the November elections, especially the amendment to the state constitution giving women the right to vote. Bertha is a business woman running her own restaurant/night club/whorehouse and is working hard to help the suffragettes get the vote. She also has to fight off some men who were former clients when she was selling sex now that she is widowed. Her dead hubby wasn't a great guy and there is no lingering grief going on....seems Bertha saw it as much of a business decision as anything else in her life. Bertha wants the right to vote so that she can help her fellow women business owners and her girls, pretty much every woman who are often overlooked or mistreated. She also has to contend with the vice squads that are bringing down the hammer on clubs like hers due to selling sex and race mixing. I liked Bertha as a boss lady and teacher (she taught civic classes to her girls and other people when the club was closed so that those that can (or will soon be allowed to) vote can do so with a foundation of knowledge.

 

Amir left the British navy as a cook hoping for a more stable and socially upward mobile life in America. Unfortunately he has only met with brick walls and is just trying to survive. He is unsure if he wants to return to Bengal and live as a farmer under British rule or keep surviving in America. He has no papers, so staying out of law enforcement's grasp is a daily reminder he is Other. Bertha needs another cook to help/sub for her club's cook who is mightily pregnant. Amir has political/community organizing, along the lines of labor unions, but Bertha's lessons open him up to refining his political beliefs. I really liked Amir and his friends/roommates, especially Syed. I also like how Amir is identified as a Muslim, first in the dialog between him and Bertha and then later on while he was praying for her safe return from jail.

 

The characters were great, the setting and issues of the day were well written, but the romance sucked. I did believe they had sexual chemistry, but not an emotional connection. Bertha acted like a cold bitch to Amir several times and every time he apologized but she never admitted she was out of line. Maybe if the story was longer, there would be more time for Bertha to open up to Amir the way he did with her.

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review 2017-12-10 18:06
Black Butler (manga, vol. 23) by Yana Toboso, translated by Tomo Kimura
Black Butler Vol. 23 - Yana Toboso

This is the beginning of a new arc. The four disgraced prefects from the Weston College arc invite Lizzie's older brother to a music hall. Lizzie gets her brother to take her, and she has her fortune told, resulting in her

being mysteriously ensnared by the music hall - no matter how much Lizzie's brother tries to get her to come home with him and stay, she keeps going back to the music hall. Ciel investigates, on the order of the queen and in an effort to figure out Lizzie's strange behavior. The fortune teller, Blavat, seems to immediately know what Sebastian is and has him escorted out of the music hall. Meanwhile, Ciel has his fortune told and is told he's favored by the divine protection of Sirius. He's told to come back on a special day to take part in secret activities: a pop music concert (starring the prefects, who remind me strongly of the Uta no Prince-sama anime) and drugged sleep, during which the participants maybe have their blood drawn. Sebastian learns that some participants are turning up dead.

(spoiler show)


Meh. This arc isn't starting off on a very interesting note, although I did enjoy seeing the prefects and Sebastian act like chirpy pop stars. Also, it was nice to see Sullivan reappear in order to diagnose Ciel's puncture wound - it looks like she might turn into a series regular, the person Ciel can turn to whenever he needs a little scientific help.

Part of the reason why I was disappointed with this volume was that I was hoping this arc would bring the story back to the Undertaker and Ciel's father. It looks like that isn't going to be the case, unless this stuff with Blavat is somehow connected.

That said, I'll probably enjoy this more after being given time to get used to it. I'm looking forward to reading more of this series during my next vacation. Seeing the shock on Sebastian's face when Blavat instantly realized he wasn't human was a lot of fun - it'll be nice to see where this arc ends up going.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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