Month: April 2016

The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss

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A deeply immersive high fantasy, told mostly in flashback, telling the early life of Kvothe, who is a legend to most people. The picture painted is of a brilliant and damaged young man, who goes to University at 15 to become an arcanist, a magic-user. I cannot overstate the strength of Rothfuss’ world-building. The present-day environment, filled with dread and superstition, the traveling player’s caravan, oozing joy and playful learning, the rank poverty of the big city, and the fascinating university and its neighboring city, an arts haven. I cannot wait to read the next one and live longer in this world.

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Lirael, by Garth Nix

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This fantasy picks up 20 years after the first in the series finished, and it introduces us to Lirael, a 14-year-old Daughter of the Clayr who is waiting sadly to finally receive the Sight. The Sight comes young to the Clayr; in fact, Lirael is the oldest person without it, and, on her birthday, she doesn’t think she can face celebrating another person’s Awakening. Her adventures, once she decides to move on without it, take up much of the book, which takes place in a magical world with a villainous Necromancer, who raises the Dead to fight on his side. Another wonderful installment in this series, for 16 and up due to violence and creepiness.

Compromised, by Kate Noble

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Great historical fiction romance, set in 1829, as our heroine, Gail Alton, has an encounter with and develops an instant dislike for Max, Lord Fontaine. Little does she knew he will become engaged to her lovely sister and she will be assigned to chaperone. Gail makes a wonderful heroine – she is unfashionably tall, she is a world traveler, she speaks more than a dozen languages, and she does not suffer fools, all of which makes her deeply unsuitable in London’s seasonal marriage mart, but which makes her more and more appealing to Max. A wonderful read – for 18 and up.

By Grace Possessed, by Jennifer Blake

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Terrific bodice ripper set in 1486, in the court of Henry VII. Our heroine, Cate, stumbles into a bad situation and is rescued by a Scots nobleman, Ross Dunbar. The time they spend alone together ensures that they will be betrothed, which Cate is violently opposed to, as she plans never to marry. Their steamy romance takes place as the War of the Roses explodes around them. Great history and great romance – for 18 and up.

The Thousand Names, by Django Wexler

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Wow! Amazing high fantasy novel, set in Khandar, where the Vordanai army, recently routed by the revolution of the Redeemed, has brought in reinforcements from across the Demon Sea to reinstate a puppet prince on the throne of Khandar. The novel focuses on soldier Winter Ihernglass, who is just trying to keep her head down, since she is a girl in disguise, and on Captain Marcus d’Ivoire, commander of the garrison, soon to turn his command over to a newly arrived colonel, who may just be crazy enough to take the fight back to the capital and then out across the desert. A great read – suggested 16 and up for bloody and horrific battle scenes. Can’t wait to read the sequel.

A Lady of High Regard, by Tracie Peterson

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I listened to the audiobook of this Christian romance and I was infuriated by both the writing, and to a lesser degree, the audiobook reader. The book itself starred a heroine who repeatedly made stupid choices and had to be rescued by the men in her life, which made me feel this book must have been written decades ago, but, no, it was published in 2007. Next, the men in her life (her father and the love interest) continually patronized her and talked down to her in the name of “looking out for her”. There’s even a hideous scene where the men talk to each other and agree that someone needs to get her well in hand. Basically, this book was a lot of me driving and yelling at my CD player. It got so bad that I almost didn’t listen to the last CD.

Plus the storyline is filled with noblesse oblige, as Mia works to help “those poor women at the docks.” Sigh.

Finally, the narrator of the audiobook delineated her characters well, but her voice for the hero made him sound so old and stodgy that his value as a love interest was lost. Not recommended.

Eleven Scandals to Win a Duke’s Heart, by Sarah MacLean

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A wonderful story of Simon, the Duke of Disdain, cold, icy, unapproachable, and Juliana, fiery, Italian, and a scandal waiting to happen. Their opposites-attract chemistry steams up the pages as the Duke, desperate to avoid any taint on his reputation, pursues a young woman who is right on paper but utterly wrong for him., and Juliana tries, unsuccessfully, to become the accepted member of the ton that he seeks. A great read. For 18 and up.

And the Miss Ran Away with the Rake, by Elizabeth Boyle

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Daphne Dale and Lord Henry Seldon come from opposite sides of a long family feud. So when Henry begins an anonymous correspondence with a “sensible lady,” he never dreams that his love letters are going to a member of the hated Dale family. Romance and complications provide for a wonderful story with great leads. Very, very enjoyable for 18 and up.

A Lady’s Lesson in Scandel, by Meredith Duran

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Really strong historical romance focusing on factory girl Nell, who may be a long-lost twin to an heiress, and Simon, the man who finds her and decides to marry her for the money she has coming. Nell’s journey into the wealth she has always scorned makes her much more socially aware than the aristocrats she must learn to join. Sexy and terrifically plotted, this one is a leading member of the new wave of what used to be called bodice-rippers.

An Heiress at Heart, by Jennifer Delamere

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This romance with Christian themes is not a bodice-ripper – there are only a few impassioned kisses here. But the historical fiction model is still in place. Lizzie Poole returns from Australia in 1851 impersonating Lady Ria Thornborough, her half-sister, who’s been in Australia for a decade and is the widow of Lord Sommerville’s brother. Alas that Lord Sommerville is so very attractive himself and sees her only as a sister. A lovely romance for 16 and up.