Book Haunt

Book and animal lover of epic proportions.  I read a little of everything. Love SF/Fantasy, mysteries and historical fiction. Oh who am I kidding!  I love ALL books!  I've been an avid reader all of my life.  Mom used to catch me with a flashlight under the covers reading way past bedtime!  I am my most content when I have a book in my hand and feel that a life without books is no life at all!

 

 

Al Capone: His Life, Legacy, and Legend by Deirdre Bair

Al Capone: His Life, Legacy, and Legend - Deirdre Bair

Reviewed at Book Haunt

Beneath the Skin (The Witchbreed Series #2) by R.L. Martinez

Beneath the Skin - R.L. Martinez

One of my first reviews was In the Blood (The Witchbreed Series #1) by R.L. Martinez and it turned out to be one of my favorite reads of 2016 so I was very excited to be offered an ARC of the second book in the Witchbreed series, Beneath the Skin.

 

Oriabel Dominax is a witch and she has always used the magic she was born with to heal those around her, but now her magic has taken on a new and deadly form and she no longer trusts herself to use it. With her life in danger, she has fled Corlaan, the only home she has ever known. She travels in the company of her sister Ottilde and two strangers, Wilder Coomb and Artair och Mahan. Separated from her husband, she longs to be reunited with him but she has no idea if he longs for the same.

 

Oriabel’s twin sister, Ottilde Dominax was once a knight but then she became a prisoner of her country. She is a fierce survivor and driven to keep her sister safe at all costs, yet she too is learning to control a new and deadly side of herself. Still on the run from the prison she escaped, Ottilde finds herself relying on the one man she shouldn’t trust, the prison warden Wilder Coomb, to help keep her sister alive.

 

These two sisters are on the run and threatened from all sides. They live in constant peril and how to trust and who to trust will affect them each in different ways. Everyone has a motive and love and betrayal can often be tied together.

 

I love it when you pick up a book and feel like you’re coming home to characters you love to spend time with. I hadn’t had enough of them at the end of book 1 and I still want more after book 2. The author gives us a study in extremes on both good and evil with well-defined characters who can straddle both. This book twists and turns and outright socks you in the end. I was never certain where it would end up and that’s the way it should be. My anticipation was richly rewarded with another installment that ranks as a fave and I cannot wait for R.L. Martinez to write more!

I Shot Bruce - Brett Busang

 

See review at Book Haunt

Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill by Candice Millard

Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill - Candice Millard

Sir Winston Churchill was an accomplished, larger-than-life, somewhat pompous and unlikeable, yet oft-revered historical figure.  He was born a British nobleman, the son of Lord Randolph Churchill, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer and his wife, Jennie Jerome, an American socialite.  As such he was a direct descendant of John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough and his parents were personal friends of the Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria’s oldest son and heir.  For a member of Churchill’s high social class, the highly bold and unabashed ambition he had was a novelty, if not an outright scandal.  Every move Churchill made from early adulthood was in conquest of glory and the strong belief that he would someday be Britain’s Prime Minister.  Indeed, not only did Churchill serve two separate and very memorable terms as Britain’s Prime Minister, he has also been remembered through time as a brave soldier, a great journalist and a riveting orator. 

 

Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill concentrates on Churchill at the age of 24.  He had already served in two wars and while working as a journalist he wheedled his way to the frontlines of south of Africa during the Second Boer War.  The Boers were Dutch-speaking settlers, mostly farmers, who had lived in southern Africa for centuries, but rose up to defend their land against annexation by the British in the 19th century.  The Boer Wars had turned out to be more of a challenge than the British expected.  Having lived, fought and learned alongside the fierce Shaka Zulu of the Zulu Nation, the Boers were more accomplished in military tactics than the British understood.  Churchill proves himself to be a man of courage while accompanying a scouting mission on an armored train that is ambushed, but he is subsequently captured by the Boers and interred as a POW.  Churchill, who was absolutely used to being master of his own fate, manages to escape from the prison and cross 300 miles on his own.  When he reaches safety, he wants only one thing, a commission, so that he can go back and wreak revenge on those who held him.  This, despite the fact that he knew the War Office had a rule barring correspondents from being soldiers and soldiers from being correspondents. 

 

This was my first foray into any kind of bio on Churchill and it was a great place to start.  This particular glimpse into the history of Churchill definitely gives us a deep understanding of who the man was.  Winston Churchill was definitely a man to be remembered and Candice Millard managed to not only gave me a fantastic primer on the man himself, she also broadened my knowledge of South African history and the Boer Wars.  I have to say I really admire her writing style.  She managed to bring the adventure, the tragedy and the terribly inhumane conditions of the experience to life for the readers.  This author paints beautiful scenes and her background research is impeccable.  This is not a bio to be slogged through, it is thoroughly enjoyable. 

 

I want to thank the publisher (Doubleday Books) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

Black Powder War (Temeraire #3) by Naomi Novik

Black Powder War - Naomi Novik

See review at Book Haunt

The Virgin Queen by Maureen Peters

Virgin Queen, The - Maureen Peters

 

Thomasin Drew was 13 years old when she went to stay with her uncle in the country.  This is where she first meets a young Lady Elizabeth, the daughter of King Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn.  Befriending Lady Elizabeth sets Thomasin on a path that she will follow the rest of her life, that of friend, confidant and attendant to a royal.  Lady Elizabeth would one day become Queen Elizabeth I, the last monarch of the Tudor dynasty.  In this piece of historical fiction as told by Thomasin, we get an up close and personal view of Queen Elizabeth I.

 

Elizabeth was born a princess but when her mother was beheaded by the King, she was declared illegitimate and sent away.    Cast off and out of favor, she lived with her stepmother, Catherine Parr.  This is the time period when Thomasin first encounters Elizabeth.  She describes Elizabeth as a person who often found the world to be enchanting and full of excitement.  But beneath her smiling and giggling exterior she was often a sad and lonely person.  She had no true friends until she met the forthright Thomasin.  Thomasin could always be relied on not to flatter and fawn over her as others did. 

 

Maureen Peters skims through the years of young Elizabeth’s life leading up to her reign.  Her father, King Henry VIII had taken a total of six wives, creating quite a stir and leaving behind many potential successors to the throne.  The years that lead up to Elizabeth’s succession to the throne were often turbulent, filled with religious conflict, wars, beheadings and political maneuvering.  King Henry VIII had designated his 9 year-old son, Prince Edward, the son of former wife Jane Seymour, to be his successor.   King Edward VI’s reign ended after only 6 years due to a fatal illness.  Though he attempted to have his half sister Mary removed as his successor, she seized the throne from the proclaimed Queen, Lady Jane Grey after only 9 days.   Queen Mary I was crowned in 1547 and would rule 5 years.    The stiffly Roman Catholic Queen would become known as Bloody Mary due to her many executions of Protestants.  When Queen Mary becomes pregnant, Lady Elizabeth is called to her side to attend her.  However, the pregnancy is a false alarm and as it turns out Queen Mary is actually dying, and so the Elizabethan era begins.    

 

This is the core of the story.  Yes, politics and the realm are a big part of Elizabeth’s story but what about the story behind the scenes?  Why didn’t Elizabeth ever marry?  Elizabeth’s story is oftentimes a sad and heartbreaking one.  She seemed to be full of exuberance for life yet unable to live it.  She had many men try to woo her but unable to marry for love, she could not bear to marry at all, and she died being known as “The Virgin Queen.”  Every overture made toward Elizabeth was possibly tainted, whether with fear or betrayal.  Her siblings, cousins and all those surrounding her could not be trusted, for there was an ever present threat that they might try to usurp her throne.  Elizabeth had to rule with her head instead of her heart and she has gone down in history as a powerful and politically savvy monarch who managed to rule for almost 50 years.  Many of the facts surrounding her reign are skimmed over here with the story concentrating primarily on Elizabeth’s many dramatic moods, her strong determination, her trials with love and friendship and her inner qualms over her decision to imprison her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots.  This is what might have been a side of Elizabeth I that the public never got to see.  It’s a fascinating and decidedly human side, filled with tragedy, yet spoken with the tenderness of a longtime companion. 

                                                                                                                                                                  

I want to thank the publisher (Endeavor Press) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

 

In the Name of Gucci: A Memoir by Patricia Gucci

In the Name of Gucci: A Memoir - Patricia Gucci

Read my latest review at bookhaunt.com

 

Really not so happy with BookLikes since I have to add a new book or edition every time I do a review.  

The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence

The Wheel of Osheim: The Red Queen's War - Mark Lawrence

In the third book of The Red Queen’s War series, Mark Lawrence starts us off with a neat recap of the characters and storyline thus far.  But for goodness sake, don’t start here, go back and read the first two books if you haven’t done so already.  As a matter of fact, with the references to Jorg Ancrath made in this book I am thinking it might have been better had I read Mark Lawrence’s other trilogy, the Broken Empire series first.

 

Regardless of where I started, I was absolutely hankering to continue on with the adventures of the incorrigible self-described coward, Jalan Kendeth. 

 

As we rejoin Jalan he is traipsing through the desert after having escaped from Hell.  He tells us of his time in Hell in reoccurring flashbacks.  What has become of Snorri?  We are not yet certain but in time it shall be revealed. I thoroughly enjoyed it as Jalan described his journeys through the desert and by sea.  As with most things he does, he tells us of his travels with a humorous cynicism.  We don’t get the potentially long and boring travel descriptions of some books.  Travelling through Jalan's eyes, these journeys become vastly entertaining.

 

“The desert is hot and boring. I’m sorry, but that’s pretty much all there is to it. It’s also sandy, but rocks are essentially dull things and breaking them up into really small pieces doesn’t improve matters. Some people will tell you how the desert changes character day by day, how the wind sculpts it endlessly in vast and empty spaces not meant for man. They’ll wax lyrical about the grain and shade of the sand, the majesty of bare rock rising mountainous, carved by the sand-laden breeze into exotic shapes that speak of water and flow . . . but for me sandy, hot, and boring covers it all.”

    

As usual Jalan is in the thick of it.  He’s still not too keen on responsibility of any type and he certainly doesn’t understand how he keeps getting in the positions he gets himself into.  He longs to be back home playing the rich playboy grandson of the Red Queen.  But alas, you can’t turn back time!  Jalan’s grandmother the Red Queen has taken an army to confront the Lady Blue.  The girl he longed to marry has married his best friend.  As for Jalan, he is still running from Maeres Allus, wanted by the banking world and on the run from those who seek what he now holds, Loki’s Key.  Oh yeah, there’s also still a little matter of revenge on Edris Dean for his role in killing Jalan’s mother and his unborn sister.  Speaking of the unborn sis, well you know…the “unborn” have been something of a problem for Jalan.  With no certain escape from all of the dangers that chase him, Jalan knows that he is bound by circumstance to proceed on his journey.  It soon becomes apparent that he will need to head toward the Wheel of Osheim to avert certain disaster.  Am I for one minute worried that the fate of the world is in Jalan’s hands?  Not on your life! 

 

This final book in the trilogy is supreme entertainment from page one!  You will come to love the well wrought characters.  It’s full of “I didn’t see that coming” surprises, genuine chuckles and ever-present danger around every corner.  I will leave you with one final thought before you get started reading:

 

“When someone lets you off too easily there’s always that suspicion that they know something you do not. It’s an irritating thing, like sunburn, but I know a sure-fire way to ease it. “Let’s get a drink!”

Miller's Valley by Anna Quindlen

Miller's Valley - Anna Quindlen

Miller’s Valley is a finely woven family saga narrated by the main character Mary Margaret Miller, aka Mimi.  As an adult, Mimi is facing eminent domain of her family’s land and the small town that was named after them.  Her family has resided in the town for over 100 years.  This is their home, the place they know and love.  But the state wants to open up the dam and flood the valley to create a recreational lake area.

 

Read entire review at Book Haunt

The Girls by Emma Cline

The Girls: A Novel - Emma Cline

“Poor girls. The world fattens them on the promise of love. How badly they need it, and how little most of them will ever get.”

Summary:

Evie Boyd is now in her fifties as she reflects back on her time as a 14 year old living in late ‘60s Northern California.  As with most 14 year old girls, Evie is young, impressionable and longing to find her place in the world.  She comes across a group of young women in the park and their carefree ways captivate her.  Soon she manages to befriend one of these young women, Suzanne.  Suzanne takes her under her wing.  Evie is swept into Suzanne’s world when they visit the ranch where the girls are living.  She is introduced to their leader, Russell Hadrick.  Russell is an enigmatic man who has this fantastic following and seems to be on the edge of fame.  He and his “family” seem to have the world in the palm of their hands and Evie can’t resist the pull.

 

The Premise:

This book has gotten rave reviews.  Perhaps I am alone in not finding it all that captivating.  None of the characters in this book were likeable including the main character, Evie.  It’s so obvious that this is a fictional representation of a young girl being taken into a Charles Manson-like cult.  Knowing the outcome of that horrendous true-crime story makes it hard for me to understand how anyone could be lured to it.  I read Helter Skelter when I was very young and I was appalled by it.  I didn’t get how those young women could be drawn to such a monster and I still don’t get it even after reading this book.  Someone of a younger generation who cannot recall those events so easily might find this book much more riveting than I did.  Like Gone Girl, this book just made me want to take a shower. 

 

The Writing:

 

Each generation has their version of living on the edge and doing things that seem taboo.  The 60s were a great turning point in the freedoms that society experiences to this day.  It was a turbulent time of change for young people.  Emma Cline takes us into the head of one young girl during that time.  Evie became easily misdirected and her poor decisions will forever haunt her.  To me, there is one very important point here.  When we are young our expectations of the world are high.  Society leads us to believe that things should be a certain way.  We begin to realize during adolescence that maybe for some of us those things aren’t that easy to come by.  Is the world going to be disappointed by us?  Are we going to be disappointed by it?  The heart can be a lonely confusing place and we all long to belong somewhere.  As we grow away from some we’ve been close to and towards new people, we each have an inner journey going on that no one else is privy to.  Cline did indeed give us a vivid picture of the strife that can come with this journey. 

 

I want to thank the publisher (Random House Publishing Group – Random House) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

Throne of Jade (Temeraire #2) by Naomi Novik

Throne of Jade - Naomi Novik

His Majesty’s Dragon is the second book in the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik.

When Captain Will Laurence’s ship the HMS Reliant captured one of Napoleon’s French frigates, a rare and valuable egg was part of the seized cargo. The egg hatched and out popped a delightful dragon. At first reluctant, Captain Laurence went from being a Navy man to being the handler of the newly hatched dragon. He named the dragon Temeraire and started his new service as Temeraire’s master in England’s Aerial Corps. Working together and living together, Temeraire and Laurence have become a part of each other. Neither can imagine himself anywhere else but by the other’s side. They are not just a great team in combat, they are best friends.

Read more at Book Haunt

Feast or Famine (Temeraire, #1.5) by Naomi Novik

Feast or Famine - Naomi Novik

Blurb:  Breakfast in Dover, with complications.

 

Dragons can be very clever when they’re hungry!

 

Set between the events of His Majesty’s Dragon and Throne of Jade, Feast or Famine is an amusing side jaunt along the way.  Mention of the happenings in this story are made in Throne of Jade so if you don’t read it going in you will want to on the way out. 

 

You can find this short story at naominovik.com

Immurement (The Undergrounders #1) by Norma Hinkens

Immurement: The Undergrounders Series Book One (A Young Adult Post-apocalyptic Science Fiction Thriller) - Norma Hinkens

It is the year 2069, six years after the Earth’s core overheated, causing a meltdown. In the Sawtooth Forest of central Idaho, a group of survivors has formed an underground community which is split up between 8 bunkers that are connected by a shared tunnel. These are the Undergrounders.

 

Read more at bookhaunt.com

Echo Volume 2: The Taste of Ashes

Echo Volume 2:  The Taste of Ashes - Kent Wayne

My previous review of Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter     

 

SYNOPSIS:


When mankind resettled on Echo over 1200 years ago, they were led into darkness by the Regime.  Enforcing the Regime’s policies is the job of the Department of Enforcement.  As part of this department, it is the job of Kish Atriya and his elite unit of Enforcers to take down any Dissidents that have fled the Regime’s policies.

 

In this volume, Kish and his team have been sent into one of the areas known as the Wastes.  The Wastes are made up of the less savory types in society such as rapists, cannibals and gangs.  An assignment to the Wastes is a life-threatening escapade and they will face danger at every turn.  As if this assignment weren’t dangerous enough, Atriya knows that he has pissed off some powerful people in the Regime.  Most likely the higher-ups have fixed it so that he won’t make it out alive.  But Atriya was born to be a warrior and when the going gets tough the tough get going.  Even with the knowledge that his partner and his team are against him, Atriya must be true to who and what he is.  While logic tells him to do one thing, his instincts dictate another.  In the process of this one harrowing day, Atriya will have to make some life-altering decisions and he will find out what kind of man he really is.

 

MY THOUGHTS:

 

Volume 2 takes off with a bang!  Atriya hits the ground running and the entire volume continues along at full speed.  Atriya’s every thought and maneuver is described in minute detail.  This is not a bad thing!  We are in Atriya’s head as he goes into a hyper-alert state and blazes away at enemies left and right.  Add in some really cool enhanced technological weaponry and armor, a terrifying Enhancile and lots of tension between the main characters and…oh man, this is getting good! 

 

The author states that he loves to thread everything with hidden significance so pay attention!  Although it wasn’t yet out when I finished, I am so far behind on my reviews that the next volume has now been released.  It’s called Echo Volume 3: The Dialectic of Agony and I’ve snatched it up! 

 

Warning: Contains language and violence.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

I discovered this author through his blog on Wordpress and I recommend you check it out.  Kent Wayne can be found at dirtyscifibuddha.com 

North of Here by Laurel Saville

North of Here - Laurel Saville

Miranda has suffered a shocking loss of all she’s ever known and she’s desperately trying to find her way back to happiness. When she goes back home and starts spending time with her family’s handyman Dix, she thinks she may have found what she needs. Dix knows exactly who he is and he’s very comfortable in his skin. He is calm and peaceful and she finds comfort in his company.

David is a rich kid who has rebelled against his upbringing. He has created a new persona and taken a new name to go along with it. Now known as Darius, he reads a lot of romance in order to hone his skills as a seducer of people. Darius fancies himself a foster figure and he founds a commune to take in wayward souls. Darius’s commune is called The Source and it’s a bit reminiscent of L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology.

Time reveals that Miranda’s troubles are more deep-seated than we know. She is completely the opposite of Dix. She picks at everything around her, she’s constantly irritated by her life and she just cannot find inner peace. As her relationship with Dix begins to fall apart, she is drawn to Darius and taken with his outlook on life. She wants to participate in the work he does at The Source and feels that it may give her life new meaning. But Dix is concerned about Miranda spending time with Darius. He begins to wonder what’s really going on out at The Source.

North of Here is an exploration of the human psyche. Whether a person is born rich or poor, they still need to find what might bring true happiness and purpose to their life. Ultimately happiness comes from within. People need to explore their inner psyche in order to understand who they really are and where they fit into the world. While this book makes a good point, I just wasn’t overly enthused. The overall atmosphere was somewhat dreary and I just didn’t find that one thing in this book that will make it memorable for me. The whole commune thing is overdone and I’m so bored with it. I think this one would really depend on each individual reader.

I won a hardcover of this book and another one from Magdalena Johansson’s book blog A Bookaholic Swede. As you know, there are a lot of blogs for book reviews because those of us who are readers love to share our discoveries. In this big world of book reviewers, Magdalena is among the truly superb! Please check out her blog. I promise you’ll love it!

I want to thank the publisher (Lake Union Publishing) for providing me with a copy of this book through A Bookaholic Swede’s blog contest for an honest review.

 

Bone War by Steven Harper

Bone War (The Books of Blood and Iron) - Steven Harper

It is from the Fates that Danr and his friends have learned that every action, every decision, every act, no matter how small, will cause ripples throughout the world and twist the future down a different path. Now the future of that world is in jeopardy once again when one of the three Fates is kidnapped by the wicked Elf Queen.

The two Fates that are left enlist Danr to find the missing Fate. But first he must find a legendary sword known as the Bone Sword. The Fates will also need Aisa’s help during this dark time. Danr and Aisa will be separated from their companions but in the end all characters will converge as this trilogy comes to an end.

This final book in the trilogy wraps things up on a more serious note and brings into question Danr and Aisa’s continuing relationship as the Fates cause them to examine life and the future. All of the loose ends are nicely tied up, giving us a final showdown between Death and Queen Vesha, and most of all, letting us know what on earth will happen with Aisa. Girl has so many options!

The Books of Blood and Iron is a series that follows in the footsteps of other great fantasy works, with all of the expected characters, but Steven Harper has given us a fresh perspective on these characters. I have to say I liked them a lot! Well most of them (I really wanted to smack the Elf Queen). The Norse-based mythology is very well done. I also really liked the way the author addresses the growing pains of a new love and how two people will handle the obstacles put in their path. This is an enjoyable series full of adventure and well worth the read.

I want to thank the publisher (Berkley Publishing Group) for providing me with the ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

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