Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Chronicles of the Warlands End.....?

Chronicles of The Warlands #6
Elizabeth Vaughan
Birch Cove Press
April 23, 2018

At the time I stumbled across the first book in the Chronicles of the Warlands, Warprize, what might be called in some quarters "barbarian romance" was not exactly my reading of choice. The reviews were so glowing, and in the end so well-deserved that I was immediately immersed in the story. Master Healer and Daughter of the Blood, Xylara of the Kingdom of Xy and Kier, Warlord of the Plains were unlikely romantic partners, hampered by mutual misunderstanding; as are the people of Xy and the Plains. Over the course of the series, Vaughan has built a fantasy world that is believable, relatable and filled with well-loved characters.

Warsong's main storyline is that of Joden, aspiring Singer of the Plains, and Amyu, also of the Plains. Joden has been one of the cornerstones of the series from the beginning, but Amyu is a later addition. Amyu is considered a child and discounted by the Tribes because she has produced no offspring. In fact, according to Plains traditions, she should have committed suicide long ago. Instead, Xylara has taken her into her household. I knew that Amyu was destined for great things upon first meeting her.

Warsong ties up all the loose ends in the series, and the epilogue paints a picture of a prosperous future for the blended Kingdom of Xy and the Plains. However, there are suggestions of dire happenings in future generations. One can hope that more stories in this world are in the works. Until then, one of the best things about books is that they can be reread! Warprize is now available as an audiobook, with more to come.

Many thanks to Elizabeth Vaughan for an advance copy. I highly recommend reading the series in order and Warsong to lovers of adventure, and epic fantasy with a healthy dose of romance. The opinions are my own.


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Birds of A Feather Mysteries # 4
Marty Wingate
Random House Alibi
April 10, 2018

Love is in the air in Smeaton-under-Lyme, the village attached to the Fotheringill Estate. Julia Lanchester is head of the Tourist Information Center for the estate. Vesta, Julia's assistant at the TIC, is marrying Akash, proprietor of the village store, and Julia is hoping for a proposal of her own from Michael Sedgewick, her live-in boyfriend. Instead, they arrive at their tiny shared cottage to find Michael's sister Pammy, a human "cuckoo in the nest''. Pammy is forty-two and has a long history of failed employment and relationships. The latest failed relationship has brought her to their door, along with multiple plastic shopping bags. Despite everything, they welcome her on the understanding that she will be on her way at weeks end. When Willow, village schoolmistress and Julia's friend, stumbles over the body of an unknown man, things get more complicated, and Pammy shows no sign of leaving. In fact, she seems to be making a lot of new friends in the village.Julia and Michael have a lot on their plates, both personal and job-related.

I really enjoy this series, primarily for the quirky characters, village atmosphere and situations that Julia finds herself in. There is a charming sense of community in the village and on the Estate. Julia herself is a busybody, but one with a heart of gold. She just can't seem to help managing other people's lives, but she does so with the best intentions and usually to good effect. Farewell, My Cuckoo is a near-perfect example of why traditional cozies have been so popular and remain so.

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Alibi for an advance copy. The opinions are my own.

RATING-4.5 Stars

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Grisly Good Fun in Flaxborough

The Flaxborough Chronicles # 3
Colin Watson
Farrago Books
March 22, 2018

The sight of some large policemen taking a bathtub from a respectable home in the quiet market town of Flaxborough is not a usual occurrence. Inspector Purbright suspects a particularly grisly crime (see John George Haigh for the pertinent details) has been committed in the home. Inspector Purbright knows someone is dead, but who is it?
Is it the missing milquetoast tobacconist, Gordon Periam, who owns the property, or his fly-by-night lodger, Hopjoy? As Purbright's investigation proceeds with the well-meaning and ultimately bumbling interference from the British Spy service, Purbright learns that appearances can be deceiving.

Hopjoy was Here is another witty and blackly humorous entry in Colin Watson's classic series. Each of the books so far has been a great read, bringing back a time long gone in Britain. Thanks to Farrago Books for bringing them back in new editions, and also to NetGalley for an advance copy. The opinions are my own.

RATING- 4 Stars

Monday, April 9, 2018

Murder Among the Masons in 1950's England

Mirabelle Bevan Mystery # 3
Sara Sheridan
Kensington Books
March 27, 2018

England Expects begins with the apparently professional murder of newspaper sportswriter Joey Gillingham in Brighton. The reading of a newspaper article about the killing piques Mirabelle's interest and a conversation with Bill, her employee and former policeman, Bill Turpin, indicates a possible connection to the local lodge of Freemasons. Since Mirabelle is always looking for a puzzle to solve, she visits the lodge and is on the scene of yet another murder. By the time the case is resolved, Mirabelle and her friends are in more danger than she could ever have imagined.

I have been a fan of Mirabelle Bevan since the first in the series, Brighton Belle. The 1950's setting is fascinating in itself. Mirabelle is beautiful, fashionable, insightful, and absolutely focused on any case she becomes interested in. However, the Brighton Police, except for Inspector McGregor, does not like her meddling. Inspector McGregor has a personal interest in Mirabelle and knows that her background as a former Special Operations Agent in World WarII gives her excellent investigatory skills. Mirabelle has been sunk in grief after the sudden death of her lover, Jack, several years before, but with the help of her co-workers Bill and Vesta Chamberlain, is finally digging herself out. Vesta Chamberlain is a young black woman whose life gives insight into being a person of color in England at the time. The Freemasonry angle is historically correct because there was a scandal involving the Masons and the Brighton Police in the 1950's; just not as grave as this case. I am happy that Mirabelle seems to unthaw a bit in her personal life and is showing signs of becoming more engaged in life.

Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for an advance copy. The opinions are my own.

RATING-3.5 Stars

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A Disappearance on Dartmoor

A Lady Darby Mystery # 6
Anna Lee Huber
Berkley Books
March 6, 2018

The newly married Lady Keira Darby and Sebastian Gage are still in Ireland after concluding a dangerous investigation when he is urgently summoned by his grandfather, Viscount Tavistock.Gage has not visited his family home on desolate Dartmoor in fifteen years, not since the death of his mother.But his cousin, Alfred, heir to his grandfather and Blackstone Manor, was seen walking out onto the moor and has not returned for several days. Gage has no good memories of his childhood at Blackstone, where he was bullied and bedeviled by Alfred and Alfred's brother, Rory.Gage has always been reticent about his feelings for his family, so Keira hopes that she can learn more and help heal his wounds.Keira has plenty of wounds of her own after her first disastrous and abusive marriage, but she has always had the support of her large and loving family.

Gage's family on his mother's side is hardly welcoming. His aunt, the dowager, has always looked down on him because of the relative lowliness of Gage's own father's birth. The fact that his father is now a hero of the British Navy with a title of his own makes no difference. She is cold, dismissive, and often rude.The missing Alfred is by all accounts the unprincipled wastrel that Gage remembers from his boyhood. His ailing grandfather is the same cantankerous and imperious figure he always was. Oddly, he is determined to keep Alfred's disappearance a secret. Only Rory and the family butler, Hammett, appear co-operative.Strangely, there have been many unexplained disappearances and deaths in the family over the years. Could it be a family curse, and what about the reclusive "witch" living on the moor?

A Brush with Shadows is a twisty tale, wrapped in family drama, set on the mysterious and dangerous Dartmoor.The relationship between Keira and Sebastian grows stronger in their understanding of each other and mutual healing after a somewhat rocky start. Thanks to First To Read for an advance copy. The opinions are my own.

RATING- 4 Stars