Thursday, December 13, 2012

Scent of Magic - YouTube

Back on 12/4 I posted a review of the  second book in Maria Snyder's Healer Trilogy. Harlequin UK put together a book trailer that's very nice. Take a look!

Scent of Magic - YouTube:

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Victorian Slice of Life

A Death in the Small Hours
Charles Finch
St. Martin's Minotaur
November 2012

A Death in the Small Hours is another pleasant read in the Charles Lenox series by Charles Finch. While not my favorite of the series, I enjoyed both the puzzle and the character development of Charles and Lady Jane.

Charles is now well settled into his role as a Member of Parliament and has been in fact asked to give the opening speech at the upcoming new session. He and Lady Jane also have a new daughter, Sophie. He only occasionally consults with his protege, Dallington, who has largely taken over the role of the premier private investigator in London. Matters in London have become very hectic with those who want to give him mountains of advice about his speech. When his cousin, "Uncle Frederick", asks him to come to the country for a visit, Charles thinks it would be a fine opportunity to get some peace and quiet, and to work on the speech. Uncle Freddie is also concerned with a series of vandalisms in the idyllic village of Plumbley. 

Charles, Lady Jane, Sophie and Sophie's new governess pack up for a short visit to the country, only to find that the vandalism has continued and become very sinister in nature. Village suspicion has fallen on a Captain Musgrave, newly resident. Musgrave is arrogant, hot tempered and is suspected of mistreating his wife- a girl who grew up in Plumbley. Events escalate, a death occurs and Charles must sort out the puzzle. 

There are many things I enjoy about the Charles Lenox series. The quality of the writing is excellent and one gets a "slice of life" of the Victorian Era. Lenox himself is a quietly decent sort, devoted to his family, his friends and his duty. He is also a doting papa; some of the most charming parts of the book are his enchantment with his new daughter. He is concerned with poverty and the unfairness of laws in that era and hopes that by serving in Parliament he can make a positive change. However, there is no doubt that his first love is investigation. I for one hope that he will return to private enquiry in future books. It's clear that he is feeling rather torn.

There is one lengthy passage that slows the narrative in an otherwise well-paced flow. Charles takes part in a village cricket match and it seems to go on forever without advancing the story. Like many Americans, I find cricket mystifying and the passage did little to enlighten me. To quote Lady Jane, " As far as I understand you play by attaching mattresses to your legs and waddling back and forth between two sticks, while occasionally gesturing with your own personal stick at some sort of red ball. But then I don't call myself a great sportsman." My feeling exactly!

A Death in the Small Hours is another solid entry in the series. I would recommend it to fans of the British Village mystery.

3.5 Cricket Bats

Long Live Rose Strickland!!

Diners, Dives and Dead Ends
Terri L. Austin
July 2012
Henery Press 

Last Diner Standing
Terri L. Austin
November  2012
Henery Press                                            

I really don't remember how I ran across Diners, Dives and Dead Ends. I was probably trolling for something light and funny to download to my kindle and it sounded like the very thing. The price was right so I downloaded and enjoyed every word. Now I am a big fan of Rose Strickland and Terri L. Austin.

Rose is a 24 year-old waitress working at Ma's Diner and attending the local community college. She has been drifting for a while, much to her wealthy and socially prominent family's dismay. Never mind that the same family kicked her out and quit supporting her when she refused to return to the hoity-toity women's college that her parents insisted she attend. Rose may not be doing well financially, but at least she has a wide circle of friends and has a life that she has control of. Sort of.

Diners, Dives and Dead Ends introduces Rose and her motley crew of co-workers at Ma's. There is Ma herself, feisty octogenarian; her son, Ray, the monosyllabic and downtrodden cook; and Roxy,  fashion-challenged, blue-haired ex-juvenile delinquent fellow waitress. These folks are not the cream of society but they are Rose's friends and she is fiercely loyal. When her best friend, Ax, computer geek and stoner, leaves his backpack with her and promptly disappears, Rose is on a mission. Even if no one else cares, Rose is going to find Ax. In the course of her investigation Rose meets Sullivan, handsome criminal mastermind. Sullivan is definitely a bad boy, but he seems to have a soft spot for Rose (and she for him). Rose is confronted with life-threatening danger during her search for Ax and prevails but at a great cost to her peace of mind.

Last Diner Standing finds Rose still suffering the effects of her first investigation. But when another friend from community college, Janelle Johnson, is accused of attacking her ex-husband, "Asshat", and leaving him comatose it's Rose to the rescue again. She knows there is no way that Janelle is guilty and that Janelle's small children need their mother. Sullivan becomes involved when Rose asks him to bail Janelle out. Rose discovers that someone has been keeping Sullivan under surveillance and there is a hit out on him. Added to all that drama is Ma going to war against a competitor for the local lunch business.

Both of the books are filled to the brim with colorful and well-realized characters. Strippers, cops, gangsters and street people are all vivid figures. But it's Rose that I like so much, a good and loyal friend to all. She has the ability to see the good in almost any one. Sullivan is a bad guy, but we don't know how bad exactly. He is always supportive to Rose, though, and I have to hope that he isn't all THAT bad. No doubt we will find out in future books in the series. (I'm thinking Roarke here!)

The Rose Strickland Mysteries are highly recommended well-plotted and fun, quick reads. Stephanie Plum fans should also enjoy Rose and her adventures.

RATING 4.5 Chef's hats

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Healer Trilogy Continues

SCENT OF MAGIC (Healer Trilogy #2)
Maria V. Snyder
Harlequin MIRA
December 2012

I have been a fan of Maria V. Snyder since the first Trilogy she wrote for MIRA, the Study series. While Study remains a favorite, I can't say the same for the Glass Trilogy. I could not make the same sort of connection with the characters. I think that was a matter of personal taste because I know many readers were happy with Glass. Healer # 1, Touch of Power, brought me firmly back into fan territory.

In Touch of Power we met Avry, the last healer in the Fifteen Realms. The Healers were blamed for the plague that killed six million people and were hunted down and killed. Avry alone survived by running and hiding for three years. When she is finally captured it is to heal Prince Ryne of the plague even though the healing will mean her own death. She has other reasons to refuse to heal him however. Her journey, and that of her captors to Prince Ryne's side make up the first of the Trilogy.

Scent of Magic opens where Touch of Power ended. Avry is thought to be dead by all but a few and she can go under cover into the enemy's camps and find her surviving sister, Noelle. Noelle blames Avry because she did not come home to her family while the plague was killing them. Enemies are plentiful, especially King Tohon, the megalomaniacal life magician who is trying to take control of all the Fifteen Realms. Snyder can write a villain that one really loves to hate and Tohon is a prime specimen. Avry's lover, Kerrick, is unwilling to let her go alone, but Avry is nothing if not stubborn. Besides, Kerrick has his own mission to accomplish for Prince Ryne. Scent of Magic switches back and forth between Avry and Kerrick and their individual adventures. Both will suffer much danger and heartache before the are reunited- and Scent of Magic has quite a cliffhanger. Too bad it will be another year before we can find out what happens!

Scent of Magic is a mixture of action of action, adventure and romance that should appeal to a wide audience of readers. Thanks to MIRA and for an advance digital copy in return for an honest review.

RATING- 4 stars