Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Reading in July

I have two subjects for my July reading selections: 

Harry Potter or American Revolution

But since our Halloween Party this year is Harry Potter Themed, and I'll need to read the books in October for inspiration, this July, it's America Revolution. 

Here are some of possible reads for July:


Cast Two Shadows: The American Revolution in the South by Ann Rinaldi

Time Enough for Drums by Ann Rinaldi

The Secret of Sarah Revere by Ann Rinaldi

A Little Maid of Massachusetts Colony by Alice Turner Curtis

Sophia's War: A Tale of the Revolution by  Avi


Price of Loyalty: Tory Writings from the Revolutionary Era by Catherine S. Crary

Women in the Age of the American Revolution by Ronald Hoffman

The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton et. al. 

"Remember the Ladies": Outstanding Women of the American Revolution by Vera O. Laska

American Heroes: Profiles of Men and Women Who Shaped Early America by Edmund S. Morgan

A People's History of the American Revolution: How Common People Shaped the Fight for Independence by Ray Raphael

The Marquis de Lafayette: Bright Sword for Freedom by Hodding Carter

The Journal of Major George Washington by George Washington

The American Revolution: Writings from the War of Independence by John H. Rhodehamel

A Young Patriot: The American Revolution as Experienced by One Boy by Jim Murphy

The Virginia Housewife: Or Methodical Cook: A Facsimile of an Authentic Early American Cookbook by Mary Randolph

What do you think? Any recommendations?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Review: Close Contact by Katherine Allred (Alien Affairs, Book 2)

Synopsis: GEPs just want to have fun. . .A Genetically Engineered Person and self-proclaimed "party girl," Echo Adams loves her diplomatic job entertaining alien bigwigs for the Galactic Federation. But the Bureau of Alien Affairs has discovered she's much more than she thinks-that a rogue scientist endowed her with skills and psi abilities dwarfing those of common GEPs. And suddenly Echo's luxury life is over, replaced with a far more dangerous one: a special agent expected to not only chase bad guys, but eliminate them. Echo's hates being stuck on Madrea-a planet of technophobes off limits to Federation visitors-hunting for a stolen quartz crystal with a powerful alien lifeform embedded inside. She despises the Bureau's restrictive rules-especially the one warning her away from the dangerously seductive Commander of the King's Forces. And if she doesn't learn how to use her alleged super-psi powers soon, her partying days-in fact all of her days-will be over for good. (from the back of the book)

Review: Once again, Allred's book is a mix of entertaining and clichéd. We learned more about the GEPs, and the super GEPs, like Kiera, through watching Echo. Pulled from the place she was made to be and sent to a place she never should go, Echo has to deal with doing things she never trained for - and doesn't want to. Thankfully, she did not spend the book whining about it, but makes the best of her situation and takes on challenges with her own style and flair. The world-building was interesting, and the villain, although stereotypical, was at least sort of intriguing. The mystery, while not edge-of-your-seat, was enough to keep me coming back to the book when pulled away. The ending was predictable, but reasonable, and I liked it. The secondary characters were slightly flat, but entertaining, and have purpose to the story. I laughed a few times, and enjoyed the action scenes – swords and laser guns are a fun combo! The romance happened WAY To fast (again) and while the previous book played into the stone-age fetish, this one mixes the sci-fi with the medieval man-of-war fetish. It’s a unique mix, but cheesy and again, makes the book crowded. The hero and heroine smash into each other and then – presto – instant true love. Insert huge eye roll. But, it’s a romance novel and that’s normal for the genre.
Despite this, in the end, like the first book, this is fun, entertaining, and mindless – perfect to read by the pool or in the shade on a hot summer day. 

Prude Note: Kissing and a few graphic sex scenes - which can be skipped without any loss to the story. 

Bookmarks:  6 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-0-06-167243-9
Year Published: 2010
Date Finished: 6-14-2016
Pages: 324

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Review: Close Encounters by Katherine Allred (Alien Affairs, Book 1)

Synopsis: Kiera Smith is not like ordinary Genetically Engineered Persons . . . The Bureau of Alien Affairs needed a special GEP agent with empathic abilities to handle their most extraordinary assignments—and a rogue geneticist saw to it that Kiera fit their specifications. But she turned out stronger, faster, smarter, and more impervious to harm than anyone anticipated. A reluctant "superhero," Kiera wishes she were normal, but it is not to be. On Orpheus Two, the indigenous Buri race faces extinction, a prospect the powerful Dynatec corporation welcomes and, in fact, may be actively hastening. It is Kiera's job to protect these beautiful, exotic aliens . . . and to discover what there is on Orpheus Two that Dynatec feels is worth killing for. But the magnetic allure of Thor, the breathtaking Buri leader, is proving a dangerous distraction. And now, to save Thor's people, Kiera will need a power she's never before possessed—something hidden in the unexplored recesses of her hear. (from the online description)

Review: I picked up the second in the series at a thrift store, and purchased this one because I like to read series in order. The premise seemed interesting - GEP are specially ordered humans. Meaning if you have a company or foundation that needs a particular type of person for a job, you can "special order" one. They are genetically engineered to perfect suit your requests.
But Kiera is even more special – because her maker messed with her DNA, making her far more than her owners ordered.
And that comes in handy when her employers send her on a mission to save a dying people on a world set to be plundered by a ruthless corporation.
This is where Allred’s story gets a little – cheesy. The people on planet are pre-technology, stone-age sort of society. With stronger than normal, unusually handsome and ….insert all the clichéd romance book descriptions. It like she tried to please both the neanderthal fetish and the sci-fi / fantasy fetish. It's too much and makes the story crowded. 
The hero and heroine fall in love so damn quick – it’s stupid. I get they have mind-melding or whatever, and they are magically destined to be together, but still. It detracted from the over-all story. Which is sad, because the plot was interested, the world-building intriguing, and the secondary characters, while a bit flat, had purpose. 
To conclude, this book isn’t going to win any awards, but overall, it was a great “beach” read: entertaining, mindless, and fun. Fine summer reading.

Prude Note: A few kisses, and one graphic sex scene, which can be skipped (I did) and you won't even miss it from the story. 

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: 2010 Prism Awards from the Fantasy,Futuristic, and Paranormal Romance Writers of America Chapter (Best Futuristic Romance, Best of the Best)

ISBN: 978-0-06-167242-2
Year Published: 2009
Date Finished: 6-10-2016
Pages: 356

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Review: The Spoils of War by Alan Dean Foster (The Damned, Book 3)

Synopsis: The Weave was on the verge of winning a decisive victory after a milennia of war, thanks to their new allies from earth. But then the birdlike Wais scholar Lalelang found evidence that Humans might not adapt well to peace. Researching further, she uncovered a secret group of telepathic Humans called the Core, who were on the verge of starting another war, and then eliminating Lalelang. At the last moment, she was saved by a lone Core commander. He took a chance on her intelligence and compassion, and gambled the fate of Humanity on the possibility that together, they could find an alternative to a galaxy-wide bloodbath.... (from the online description)

Review: As the conclusion to the enjoyable "The Damned" series, I expected a bit more - action. Not that there wasn’t action, but like the previous two, Foster’s characters spend time thinking and speculating about the world and their place in it.
The war that is the central conflict in the series ends with a fizzle. But with the end brings to the surface the unspoken fear of the members of the Weave – what to do with the violent Humans. The book spans almost 2 earth decades, following the main characters as they work, often behind the scenes, to solve the problem. Through dogged determination, intelligence, self-sacrifice, and yes, some violence, they reach a bittersweet end. Not clean ending to the issues raised, simply a messy patchwork solution, tinged with hope. While this left me sad, it made the story better. It felt real.
Foster has an interesting viewpoint on his own race – the idea that humans are inherently prone to violence and left without an outside enemy, we will turn on ourselves. But his stories also tell us he believes that there will always be human who will rise above that, and work to temper that issue in our species. It’s an interesting concept.
Overall, this is an enjoyable series. Worth reading, particularly if you like a little philosophy in your science fiction. 

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-345-37576-9
Year Published: 1993
Date Finished: 6-5-2016
Pages: 296

Monday, June 6, 2016

Review: Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Synopsis: Everyone expects Billie Bridgerton to marry one of the Rokesby brothers. The two families have been neighbors for centuries, and as a child the tomboyish Billie ran wild with Edward and Andrew. Either one would make a perfect husband... someday.
Sometimes you fall in love with exactly the person you think you should... Or not.
There is only one Rokesby Billie absolutely cannot tolerate, and that is George. He may be the eldest and heir to the earldom, but he's arrogant, annoying, and she's absolutely certain he detests her. Which is perfectly convenient, as she can't stand the sight of him, either.
But sometimes fate has a wicked sense of humor...
Because when Billie and George are quite literally thrown together, a whole new sort of sparks begins to fly. And when these lifelong adversaries finally kiss, they just might discover that the one person they can't abide is the one person they can't live without... (from the back of the book)

Review: As with Quinn’s entire book, this one was a fine mix of warmth, humor, and romance. Quinn's books rarely have the large dramatic events that mar other romance novels. Her novels revolve more around the complexities of relationships - romantic, siblings, parent, friend – and how those shape us as people. I enjoyed the plot of this story, as it complimented the character development nicely. And as always, Quinn’s ability to write dialogue is unparalleled.
As most of her books are set during the Regency Era, I was looking forward to reading one sent during Georgian Era. Sadly, there wasn’t a lot mentioned – a tricorn hat here, powdered hair there. Being a fan of Georgian, I was hoping for more, particularly because so few romance novels are set in that time period. But as I mentioned before, Quinn’s books deal mostly with people, not history or world-building, so it’s understandable. And really, who reads romance novels for the history!
As with all her books, I highly recommend this one, particularly if you are a follower of her Bridgerton series.

Prude Note: This is a romance novel. So, there are several kissing and one sex scene. Nothing graphic, but it's clear. Can be skipped with minimal loss to the plot. 

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-0-06-238814-8
Year Published: 2016
Date Finished: May 29, 2016
Pages: 375

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Review: Rat Queens: Sass and Sorcery by Wiebe and Upchurch (Volume One), Rat Queens: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N'Rygoth by Wiebe, Upchurch, and Sejic (Volume Two), & Rat Queens: Demons by Wiebe, Fowler, Bonvillain, and Brisson (Volume Three)

Rat Queens: Sass and Sorcery by Wiebe and Upchurch (Volume One):
Who are the Rat Queens? A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they're in the business of killing all god's creatures for profit. It's also a darkly comedic sass-and-sorcery series starring Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief. This modern spin on an old school genre is a violent monster-killing epic that is like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack!

Rat Queens: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N'Rygoth by Wiebe, Upchurch, and Sejic (Volume Two):
A brand-new, booze-soaked tale of the Rat Queens reveals a growing menace within the very walls of Palisade. And while Dee may have run from her past, the bloated, blood-feasting sky god N’rygoth never really lets his children stray too far.

Rat Queens: Demons by Wiebe, Fowler, Bonvillain, and Brisson (Volume Three): 
Having survived the end of the world, the Queens follow Hannah back to where it all began: Mage University. A long perilous journey awaits the Rat Queens as they attempt to find out what happened to Hannah's father while battling their own demons.

Review: I was certain I would adore this series the first time I read the title of Volume One - anything with "sass" in the title had to be good. I was right! The writers created a story imbued with both humor and depth.  I adored the relationship between the four main characters – it had an authenticity to it that made it amazing. Even the secondary characters had depth and complexity. The plot complimented the character development nicely – and provided ample spots for sarcasm, snark, and sass. I must have laughed out loud about a dozen times. There was a lovely mixed of tribute and parody of D&D, which as a player, I enjoyed immensely.
My only qualm was the art changed in volume three, not for the better. I preferred the style of the first two. But this is a personal thing and doesn’t detract from the story.
Volume one and two are one story, with volume three starting another story arc. I’m eager for volume four – which won’t be out for at least a year, although two of the individual issues are out.
I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys snarky stories with complex characters. And it’s a must read for any D&D player.

Prude Note: There is F/M and F/F sex and nudity. It’s not graphic but it’s there. 

Bookmarks: 8 / 8 / 7

Awards: Nominated for the 2014 Eisner Award for Best New Series. Won the 2015 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comic Book for its Portrayals of LGBT characters. Nominated  for the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story (Volume One)

 ISBN: 978-1-63215-040-0 / 978-1-60706-945-4 / 978-1-63215-735-5
Year Published: 2013 - 2016
Date Finished: May 28, 2016
Pages: N/A