Rosemarked – Livia Blackburne

RosemarkedFrom the publisher:

A healer who cannot be healed . . .

When Zivah falls prey to the deadly rose plague, she knows it’s only a matter of time before she fully succumbs. Now she’s destined to live her last days in isolation, cut off from her people and unable to practice her art—until a threat to her village creates a need that only she can fill.

A soldier shattered by war . . .

Broken by torture at the hands of the Amparan Empire, Dineas thirsts for revenge against his captors. Now escaped and reunited with his tribe, he’ll do anything to free them from Amparan rule—even if it means undertaking a plan that risks not only his life but his very self.

Thrust together on a high-stakes mission to spy on the capital, the two couldn’t be more different: Zivah, deeply committed to her vow of healing, and Dineas, yearning for vengeance. But as they grow closer, they must find common ground to protect those they love. And amidst the constant fear of discovery, the two grapple with a mutual attraction that could break both of their carefully guarded hearts.” 

While the premise is familiar – oppressed people rebelling, love blooming from shared struggles and political scheming – the writing is very good.  Zivah’s trials and skills as a healer who succumbs to the deadly plague as a result of treating enemy soldiers, are engaging.  And Dineas – complex and heroic!  At story end, the rebellion is in infancy so there is much more to come.  I eagerly await the next installment. 

eGalley review                                                     Publication date 11.7.17

Posted in fantasy, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

1917: Lenin, Wilson, and the Birth of the New World Disorder – Arthur Herman, PhD

Lenin, Wilson1917 was a pivotal year in the lives of both Lenin and Wilson. These two, so very unlike, shaped the world in which we now live. Wilson’s Pax Americana saw a world living in peace, countries willing to cooperate for the good of all. Lenin saw violent revolution as the way to solve the problems of the people. Both men wanted the rest of the world to see things as they did. Both failed. This was an absorbing account of the final throes of World War I, with some interesting speculation about how things might have been different with just a few little changed outcomes, some “what ifs” to think about. The book reads like a fast paced novel, never dry and dull history. I enjoyed a new look at this war that never really came to an end.

eGalley review                                         Publication date 11.28.17

Posted in adult, nonfiction, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder – Caroline Fraser

Prairie FiresEveryone knows about the early life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. After all, the books she wrote were mostly autobiographical, weren’t they? Well, it seems that they were mostly fiction, polished and edited. Her childhood was darker than portrayed in the books, filled with abject poverty, hunger, cold, one disaster after another. And her early adulthood was not much better.

This is a detailed record of Laura Wilder’s life. The author used unpublished letters, diaries, manuscripts, land records, and deeds to shine a light on her story, and it is not always a flattering light. Historical accounts from newspapers set the scene, giving the reader a knowledge of what was happening in America. The woman who emerges is strong, resourceful, resilient, able to face anything. But she was not the woman I was expecting. This was a rather long book, but it was easy to read and hard to put down. The hardships of Wilder’s early life were common to the homesteaders and even those who haven’t read the Little House books will find it interesting.

eGalley review                                             Publication date 11.21.17

Posted in adult, biography, Uncategorized | Tagged

Future Home of the Living God – Louise Erdrich

Future Home of the Living GodsThe world is coming to an end, or maybe not. It is certainly changing. Evolution seems to have reversed itself. Plants and animals seem to be reverting to earlier incarnations, maybe not reverting, maybe going sideways. Who knows? Cedar Hawk Songmaker is an adopted child of Ojibwe parents. When she learns her real name is Mary Potts, and she is not unique, not an Indian princess as she fantasized as a child, she is a bit disappointed. But with the realization that she is pregnant, she decides to visit the Potts, to find out more about them, and to see if there are any genetic problems or talents she should know about. But soon she is struggling to save her baby and herself from an all-seeing government that seeks total control. This is not the usual Louise Erdrich. It is a dystopian novel set in the near future. The book written in first person by Cedar, is a diary to her unborn child. It begins slowly, in a fairly optimistic mood, but gradually becomes dark and disturbing. Soon it was compelling and I couldn’t put it down. I finished it days ago, and it still haunts me.

eGalley review                                          Publication date 11.14.17

Posted in adult, dystopian, highly recommend, Uncategorized

The Emerald Circus – Jane Yolen (Intro by Holly Black)

The Emerald CircusOh Boy!  I did love this book, in spite of the fact that only one of the stories , The Bird, is new. I just can’t get enough of Jane Yolen. Her stories are unique, from her quirky retelling of children’s stories and myths, to imagining the inner workings of famous people. This collection spans decades, from 1985 to the present. The novella, Lost Girls, a feminists’ Peter Pan, is one of my favorites, as is Sister Emily’s Lightship.  But the very best is the final chapter which contains the story notes and poems. If you have never read Jane Yolen, this is a great place to start. And if you have read a great deal of her writing, the story notes and poems will make you happy.

eGalley review                                   Publication date 11.14.17

Posted in adult, fiction, Uncategorized | Tagged

The House of Unexpected Sisters: No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith

House of Unexpected SistersMr. Polopetsi, part time chemistry teacher and occasional detective, has asked Mma Ramotswe to investigate a wrong he feels has occurred. The sister of a fellow teacher has been fired for rudeness to a customer. This lady, Charity Mompoloki, is sure she has done nothing wrong and needs this job to support herself and her children. Naturally, Mma Ramotswe agrees to look into the matter. But her investigations lead to a discovery that will change her life forever. I just love these books. You’d think after 18 of them they would get old, boring. Not so. There is so much more than a mystery to be solved. The descriptions of Botswana take the reader to that hot, dry place. The conversations of the many quirky characters go off in all directions. They are such a pleasure to read. They always leave me smiling. Although this is book 18, it can be read as a standalone, but be forewarned that after reading one, you will want to go back and read the others.

eGalley review                                              Publication date 11.7.17

Posted in adult, mystery, Uncategorized | Tagged

The Empress (The Diabolic #2) – S. J. Kincaid

The EmpressFrom the publisher: It’s a new day in the Empire. Tyrus has ascended to the throne with Nemesis by his side and now they can find a new way forward—one where they don’t have to hide or scheme or kill. One where creatures like Nemesis will be given worth and recognition, where science and information can be shared with everyone and not just the elite.

But having power isn’t the same thing as keeping it, and change isn’t always welcome. The ruling class, the Grandiloquy, has held control over planets and systems for centuries—and they are plotting to stop this teenage Emperor and Nemesis, who is considered nothing more than a creature and certainly not worthy of being Empress.

Nemesis will protect Tyrus at any cost. He is the love of her life, and they are partners in this new beginning. But she cannot protect him by being the killing machine she once was. She will have to prove the humanity that she’s found inside herself to the whole Empire—or she and Tyrus may lose more than just the throne. But if proving her humanity means that she and Tyrus must do inhuman things, is the fight worth the cost of winning it? 

The Empress is the second book in a planned trilogy and it definitely has that middle book feel.  It is imperative that The Diabolic be read first.  The series follows the typical pattern: describing the corrupt government, overthrowing the government, grasping the newly found power.  It is not so easy to wield power and avoid corruption.  The plot twists and turns with misplaced trust and betrayal.  Despite traversing the universe and a plethora of violence, the story felt plodding to me.  There were times when events happened suddenly and I had to flip back, thinking I missed something.  The first half of the book bogged down with too much of Pasus and the political infrastructure of the Empire.  We do learn why the Domitrians hold power and that is key to understanding so much of this world.  Neveni’s character is my favorite as I grew a bit tired of Nemesis and Tyrus.  I am not sure what I want from the third book.  Do I want Tyrus and/or Nemesis to succeed or does every hint of past power need to be shucked to start anew?

eGalley review                                             Publication date 10.31.17

Posted in adventure, science fiction, Uncategorized