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Archive for September, 2013

Sci-Fi Saturday – Gameboard of the Gods

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

 

Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

Review by Kelsey O.

 

I’ve been a loyal fan of Richelle Mead since The Vampire Academy series and this new series did not let me down. The setting for this series is in the future after religious extremists nearly wipe out all of humanity. Now all religious factions and supernatural claims are monitored and investigated by servitors. One such servitor, Justin March, is sent into exile after failing at his job. Now he is being recalled and Mae Koskinen, an enhanced soldier, is sent to bring him back to help solve a string of ritualistic murders which turns into so much more than the two may be able to handle.

 

In typical Mead fashion we have very fleshed out characters, even the minor ones. Her characters are not perfect and in fact are extremely flawed. Justin is an alcoholic and a druggy and loves to smoke and Mae has severe control issues. The future world that Mead has created isn’t too far out of my comfort zone and I could picture what she wrote. One thing that is obvious is that these Gods need people to worship them and since they aren’t getting it they are going to act out and make sure someone notices.

 

From page one I was absorbed into this world and I look forward to the next installment. Since The Gameboard of Gods focused more on the development of the characters I do hope the next one has more of a storyline. Well worth the read and definitely different than anything she has written before and is catered towards adults and for people with an open mind (and don’t compare this to her Vampire Academy series).

September 11, 2013

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Historical Fiction Review – Blood Between Queens

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

 

Blood Between Queens by Barbara Kyle

Review by Kelsey O.

 

Justine Grenville, the ward of Richard Thornleigh, is tasked with a very important mission on behalf of Elizabeth I. She must befriend Elizabeth’s cousin Mary, Queen of Scots and report back any suspicious behavior. To do this will win her great favor with her betrothed, Will Thornleigh. She must prove that she is a loyal Protestant and deny her Catholic upbringing. After someone from her past makes an appearance, her faith is put to the test.

 

Though the characters are engaging, the plot line was a bit predictable. It did however have everything that I love about a good Tudor novel, schemes and betrayal. Each page brought the reader further into the intrigue but also at times got a bit complicated with the abundance of characters that come in and out and obviously have a back story but this being the fifth novel the reader is unaware exactly what it is.

 

Even with the few downsides to Blood Between Queens, I would still recommend this to all Tudor era readers. The blend of historical facts and Barbara Kyle’s imagination flows seamlessly and at times you can picture yourself standing in the halls alongside Elizabeth I.

Mystery Monday – Murder in Venice

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Murder in Venice by Thomas Sterling

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

 

Victorian and Edwardian mystery writers often set stories in atmospheric Italy. John Meade Falkner set The Lost Stradivarius in the notorious city of Naples to showcase those paganistical Italians, about whose Catholic festivals an English character sniffs, “I cannot, however, conceive of any truly religious person countenancing such a gathering, which seemed to me rather like the unclean orgies of a heathen deity than an act of faith of Christian people.”

In 1878 Wilkie Collins released the novel of sensation, The Haunted Hotel, A Mystery of Modern Venice. Much of the action takes place in a dilapidated palace, which is the same colorful setting as the 1955 novel on review here Murder in Venice a.k.a. The Evil of the Day.

Rich but aging Cecil Fox summons three friends from the past to his dazzling manse in Venice.  Anson Sims is a miser, Henry Voltor trades on his family name, and wealthy Mrs. Sheridan keeps anxiety at bay with constant travel and tyranny over her companion and all other service providers. All three are greedy to inherit Fox’s millions. So in true Venetian style they parry, thrust, and stab among themselves in order to get in position to scoop up the money, manse, and furnishings. Just think of how the Venetians looted the Byzantines and you’ve got it.

Fox hires a male secretary William Fieramosca to manage the party with the three greed-heads and the comely companion Celia Johns. One of Fox’s guests dies during the night. The mystery is very deep, the detecting negligible. Sterling’s description of rooms, furniture, pictures, the canals and gardens is the main attraction. The ultimate praise: The moody and distinctive ambiance made me want to visit Venice, something I’d little interest in doing before I read this novel.

Anthony Boucher, mystery writer and critic for the New York Times said in a review of this novel, “There is the opulent atmosphere of an ancient city erected upon wealth and death. There is prose as witty and subtle as it is sharp and clear. There are characters unconventionally conceived and richly bodied forth. This is, in short, a novel to be treasured.” Boucher, I think, was generous in his reviews of fellow writers but he did not over-sell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fantasy Friday – Blessed By a Demon’s Mark

Friday, September 6th, 2013

Blessed By a Demon’s Mark by E.S. Moore

Review by Kelsey O.

(Kat Redding, Bk 3)

In Moore’s third installment of his Kat Redding series, we find Kat hiding in Delai. She hopes by being here that she will overcome her compulsion to feed. Kat still does not like what she is or her kind. Unfortunately her demon’s mark that she wears is pulling her back into the real world. She must answer for the favor she asked of the crazy demon Beligral.

 

Back in the “real world” Kat is faced with a lot of people looking for her. The vampire Countess Baset and the hunky werewolf Adrian in particular. She also comes home to a new roommate and her old roommate’s new affiliation with the Luna Cult. One thing she discovers is that Delai is not what she thought it was. There is strange magic and she needs to break all ties as soon as possible. Kat wants to but there is a little girl there that needs saving. So even though she fulfills her first demon’s mark she decides to take on another one to save the little girl.

 

Kat still has her major issues that haven’t been resolved or looking to be resolved anytime soon. Story lines go every which way and the reader finds that Kat has a lot on her plate and it is no wonder she doesn’t know which way to go. At times I didn’t like how Kat treated but I guess you can be a bit of mean girl if you have all these things being thrown at you at once.

 

I still love this series even though this installment let me down a bit. Definitely recommend reading from the first book, To Walk the Night.

 

 

Erotic Romance Review – Inked Destiny

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

Inked Destiny by Jory Strong

Review by reacherfan1909

 

Series: Inked Magic, Bk 2 – suggest books be read in order to follow storyline

Published: July 2013

 

Ellora’s Cave, a small press that specializes in Romantica (AKA women’s erotica), was the starting place for a host of popular authors who transitioned to mainstream or large press erotic romance. Lauren Dane, Shelly Laurenston, Christine Warren, and many others began there as did Jory Stong.  She developed a certain style and rhythm in her stories even then, whether paranormal, fantasy, or contemporary, which includes ménage à trois mixed with m/m and some kink.  She isn’t the storyteller that Lauren Dane has become, but she has a loyal following among erotic romance readers and some of her stuff is excellent – though every series seems to have weak links.

Of all the writers emerging from the erotic small press industry, Jory Strong has stuck most closely to her original Ellora’s Cave style, heavy on the sex and a good story that sometimes gets more interfered with, than helped by all that sex, turning interesting characters one dimensional.  It gets a bit tedious.  I keep feeling there should be more to the characters than just intense horniness.  And how many dripping body parts is enough?  Seriously?  I’d say she beat it to death, but that’s a whole other double entendre.

Etaín is more than just a tattoo artist, she’s an elf changeling, but she’s also something that’s rare even among elves – Etaín is a born ‘seidic’ a feared and honored gift of taking memories from others and the art of giving them tattoos of great power.  Usually turned over to the queen, they end up living in isolation, the gift of their tattoos given by the queen’s favor.  Even more, Etaín has a strange link to a dragon, one her mother bargained with for protection.

Once you get past the sex, you have about 2/3rd’s of a book – an interesting story that gets washed out by all the ‘white noise’ of tangled bodies and screaming climaxes.  Eamon, the elf Lord and one of her lovers balks at her father still asking for Etaín’s help ‘reading’ memories of crime victims.  Cathal Dunne, son of the crime boss who disdains the family business is her human mate (Story told in Bk 1 and far better done).  Is what he dragged her into with his father and uncle’s search for vengeance what caused the latest threat on her life and that of her old friends from back in the day when she was a street kid herself?

Eamon, being ‘Lord’, is unaccustomed to having his orders disobeyed.  Etaín long ago developed a disdain for anyone’s orders.  Eamon is also concerned that Etaín has not yet ‘claimed’ him as a mate, as she has Cathal.  Cathal has an instinctive dislike for following anyone’s orders but his own.  He would not be part of his father and Uncle’s criminal empire and resents the fact that Etaín seems to need and love Eamon as much as she does him.  And the whole world of Elves and magic still seems surreal to him, but recognizes she needs these people to be safe.  So two men, each resenting the other’s place in Etaín’s life, but Eamon more willing to accept the need she has for them both.

Etaín’s ‘father’ – the man who raised her when her mother abandoned her as a child even though she was not his, wants her help in the gangland killings that took the life of a man she knows well.  Eamon resents ‘the Captain’, the way he wields guilt to get Etaín to do things he knows will cost her dearly – and tries to take her away from Eamon and Cathal.  Eamon is worried.  Changlings can suddenly draw so much power they are out of control, then he, as Lord, must have them killed.  Etaín is even more feared for being a ‘Mind Thief’, a talent that terrifies Elves under the best of circumstances.

The plot is actually quite strong and interesting, but the telling of the story gets choppy as it’s interrupted time and again for another sex scene.  I found myself skipping pages so I could get on with the story without losing the thread of plot.  (Honestly, are those the only functioning organs they own?)  While some of the sex scenes have a purpose in the storyline, most don’t.  One of the best and most interesting characters to be introduced in Inked Destiny is Cage.  The other major storyline shift concerns Etaín’s mother and the being who helped her – the green dragon.  With so many different plot elements going with major and secondary characters, Ms Stong needed to focus on weaving them together in what could have been an enthralling and complex whole, but was all too often an uneven series of loosely related vignettes held by the slenderest of threads.

Books of this genre are meant to leave questions that can only be answered in the next book, but overall story arc was obscured by all the side plots with secondary characters and sex scenes, leaving a rather messy trail for the reader to follow.  Perhaps my expectations were set too high after Inked Magic, where the strong story line and sex merged into a cohesive wholeRegardless, I found Inked Destiny less satisfying and not as well told a tale.  Having waited nearly a year for this book, I was disappointed.

No question, it is difficult to seamlessly combine erotic romance and urban fantasy.  The two genres do mix easily.  Only a few writers seem to really master that gift.  Inked Destiny left me with a ‘been there, done that’ feeling through too much of the book and frustrated me with rushed events happening concurrently.   Overall, Inked Destiny got a C (3*) from me.  It was a less satisfying second act after an excellent start in Book 1, Inked Magic.  The language and romance are at the erotic level and will certainly appeal to erotic romance readers more than paranormal/UF readers.

Recommend in addition or insteadLauren Dane’s Witch’s Knot, de la Vega Cats, Cascadia Wolves, and Bound by Magic series, Kalayna Price’s Alex Craft series, Jennifer Ashley’s Shifter’s Unbound series, or Jenn Bennett’s  Acadia Bell series.

 

 

 

Tell Us A Story Contest Winners!

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

 

We asked you to tell us a story and we were overwhelmed by the amazing responses we received!

PBS members are the most creative, witty and wonderful folks!

 

The Judges have decided that the judges could not decide on just 9 winners, so here are the Winners of one credit each, in no particular order:

In the Science Fiction category:

“Here’s your new red shirt, Ensign!”
. . . . .

“He’s dead, Jim.”  Lynda C. (Readnmachine)

 

In the Best News Ever category:

Cancer conquered. Will read books for many more years! – Brenda K. (IFly182H)

 

In the Best Use of Punctuation category:

Springtime, rhymes; Summertime, textbooks; Autumntide, manuals; Wintertime, prescriptions: Reading!

 – Lillie C. (el-jay)

In the Non-Fiction category:

 PBS has enriched my life beyond my wildest dreams! – Kathy H. (Nellie)

 

In the Best Laid Plans category:

I joined to downsize. THAT didn’t work out well!Cari (ladycari)

 

In the We Love New Readers category:

I read to her; now she reads to me! – Cynthia P. (tempest11)

 

In the Phew! category:

Went away. Realized I forgot my book. Came back.  – Ryan F. (thehappyfew)

 

In the Deeply Profound category:

Birth. Death. Life is lived fully in the middle. – Alice T.

 

In the We Totally Agree category:

A big dream brought readers together; created a family. – Rhonda (pinkcypress)

 

In our Proud Marine Mom category:

PBS kept Mom occupied while baby transformed into Marine. – Beth D. (ponykeg)

 

In the Almost Haiku category:

Truly love
to sit and read…
sitting not necessary.

– Bonnie (LoveNE)

 

In the We Can All Relate category:

I collect more books than I can ever read. – Sari N. (Sarijj)

 

In the This Lifts Our Hearts category:

PBS kept us entertained during son’s Transplant last year. – Jackie G. (jackie13)

 

And in the She Can’t Count but we Love the Song category:

Happy natal day to you!
Happy natal day to you!!
Happy natal day, dear PBS who has nurtured my love of books and brought me new BFFs!!!
Happy natal day to you!!!!

– Gail P. (TinkerPirate)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Grand Prize Winner is:

Went to my mailbox to find a new world – Deb R.

Deb, we have created today’s Quote of the Day using your story. It is appearing on the PBS Home Page. Thank you very much!

Congratulations to all of our winners and thank you to everyone who participated!

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