Monday, August 31, 2015

Off the Bookshelf: ROSE HARBOR IN BLOOM, by Debbie Macomber

ROSE HARBOR IN BLOOM is the sequel to THE INN AT ROSE HARBOR, and is a tie-in to the Cedar Cove series by Debbie Macomber. And just like returning to Cedar Cove, this book gives readers a chance to return to visit beloved characters.

Jo Marie is our host at the B&B that she bought with the insurance money when her soldier husband died in Afghanistan. She is still healing from the loss, and her pain is stirred up when, just for a short time, she is given the amazing hope that maybe Paul didn't die in the helicopter crash, but has been healing and making his way out of the country.

Meanwhile, a new set of guests are facing ghosts from their pasts, old pain, new chances at love, failed dreams and new dreams -- basically straightening out their lives and hearts. Expect a big sigh of satisfaction when you close the book. And some frustration, because the publisher has enclosed a "taste" or sneak preview of the next book, and of course, it stops at just the right place where you want to keep reading!

As always, Debbie Macomber delivers. A good book for curling up in the evening and escaping for a couple hours at a time.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Off the Bookshelf: THE LIGHT OF EIDON, by Karen Hancock

This is one of those times when I just kick myself for not having read a book sooner. I've had this ebook sitting in my iPad for a few years now.

Karen Hancock has created a solid, multi-layered, complex world in this first book in the Legends of the Guardian King series. THE LIGHT OF EIDON deals with prophecy and politics and treachery and the search for truth and loyalty and hope and ... yeah, there's a LOT to take in. Intense.

Our hero is a young prince named Abramm who has gone into the holy orders. He doesn't see himself as a warrior and politician like his many older brothers, and has a true hunger and thirst to know Eidon, the god of his land of Kiriath. However, on the verge of taking his vows, Abramm's world starts to fall apart. He learns that his family has been decimated and he is next in line to take the throne if anything happens to the current king. It doesn't matter that he doesn't want the throne, there are those who consider him a threat, and others who consider him a pawn.

Before he knows it, Abramm is fleeing for his life, not sure who to trust -- and ends up on a slave ship, bound for a brutal land where evil forces rule and even success in the game of combat can result in punishment. While Abramm fights for his life, and struggles with painful spiritual questions as he doubts Eidon and everything he has believed in, his twin sister hunts for him, to rescue him. She must deal with her own questions and crises and lack of faith, as well as a society that denies her everything she took for granted as a princess and a free woman.

I hope I didn't give too much away -- and I'm frustrated that I have so many more books waiting to be read! It's going to be a while before I can justify buying the next volume in the series. But the wait is going to be well worth it.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Off the Bookshelf: HOUSE OF HADES, by Rick Riordan

Just how much suffering can a demi-god take?

In this fourth installment of the Heroes of Olympus series, the follow-up to the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Rick Riordan endeavors to find out. Ouch! Talk about your past coming back to bite you! At one point, Percy and Annabeth -- who have fallen (okay, she was pulled, and he jumped in after her) into Tartarus -- run into some nasty creatures who inflict on them all the dying curses of all the monsters and villains they have fought and defeated in the past.

Let me tell you, that's a LOT of curses, and a lot of suffering.

Annabeth and Percy struggle through Tartarus -- a place that makes Dante's Inferno seem like a visit to the best amusement park in the world -- while their friends left behind on the Argo deal with one nemesis and attack and challenge after another. I know that authors are encouraged to be cruel to their characters, to put them through the wringer, but ... I'm glad I'm only reading about the trials and tribulations of the children of the Greco-Roman gods, not participating with them.

Another enthralling read, with more character growth and discovery for these teenagers who are learning the hard way how to be heroes.

I also learned the joys of using Overdrive with this book -- an app that lets me borrow e-books from my local library. Even better, if there's a waiting list for the book I want, I can put my name on the waiting list, and it delivers the book to my electronic bookshelf for me. Nice!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Off the Bookshelf: AGATHA H AND THE AIRSHIP CITY, by Phil & Kaja Foglio

Major fun, guaranteed!

I was perusing the stacks at Half Price Books, looking for research books for writing Steampunk, and found the Agatha H series on an end cap. I am definitely going to have to go back and get the other two books that were available. This series is a fun read. As I understand it, it ties into the Foglios' Girl Genius series of graphic novels. I could be wrong ... But I'll have fun learning where I'm wrong!

In the Steam world of Agatha H, there are the Sparks -- technical geniuses, creative, crazy, obsessed, and sometimes dangerous. Think mad scientists on steroids, so obsessed with their inventions they don't realize they're giving their monsters an order to destroy them. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. They rule -- or used to rule -- their own countries. Then came the Other, with slaver wasps and hive engines, turning people into zombie-like creatures and devastating civilization -- and wiping out the Sparks and their kingdoms. Baron Wulfenbach is out to save the world, taking many small kingdoms under his control/protection. It needs saving, but maybe not by his methods. We'll see. Our heroine, Agatha, attends a university, works as assistant to one of the lesser Sparks who has been taken under the control and protection of Baron Wulfenbach, and fights to translate her creative dreams into reality. Without much success. Then comes the day when her entire world is destroyed, her foster parents go on the run, and Agatha is mistakenly taken aboard the Baron's flying city, to use her as leverage against a mercenary she just met that day, whom the Baron thinks is her sweetheart. Well, people do get the wrong impression when they catch you running around your workshop covered in grease and wearing nothing but your underwear ... ah, these creative geniuses....

That's just the start of the fun and danger and melodrama and adventure and a touch of romance -- and a lot of stereotypes turned on their heads. Slowly, most often by accident, Agatha learns the truth about her life, the lies that have been woven around her to protect her, and it's a lot of fun to follow along. Read the book -- pray for a movie!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Off the Bookshelf: OBSESSION IN DEATH by JD Robb

Can you tell I like this series a whole lot? The In Death series returns with the latest paperback (all right, I cheated and read the Kindle version from the library before the paperback edition actually came out ...) OBSESSION IN DEATH.

Homicide Lt. Eve Dallas has a fan -- from the title, an obsessed fan. Someone who thinks she/he and Eve have a lot in common. So much, that he/she is going around systematically eliminating anyone who was disrespectful to Eve, who got in the way of her doing her job, of bringing true justice to futuristic New York.

The problem, as insightful Dr. Mira points out (I wish I had a Dr. Mira in my life, y'know?), is that eventually Eve's "true and loyal friend" is going to be disappointed in her. Eventually, in the course of doing her job, Eve will disillusion her obsessed fan, and he/she will decide to punish Eve. And what happens if this fan decides that Eve is being held back by the people in her life, and it's time to eliminate them? After all, Eve doesn't need anyone else, just this true and loyal friend ....

Shades of Stephen King's "Misery," with an obsessed fan who wants things all her way ...

Get ready for another visit to futuristic New York and characters we've come to know and love, as they race against time and an unhealthy dollop of insanity. Read it in whatever version you can get your hands on.