3.5 star review

Review – Silver Mine by Vivian Arend Book 2 Takhini Wolves

Silver Mine

This is the second book in the Takhini Wolves series and it continues the overall plot of the Whitehorse pack and the bear convocation. But, it is set further in the bush, and not terribly involved with the pack itself, and it turns out that is not a bad thing at all.

Chase Johnson is a cougar wolf crossbreed and one of the few who can shift to either beast, making him something of an outcast. But he has found his place in the wilds with others who are a bit different themselves. Shelly Bradley is every bit of an outcast herself, as a wolf who can’t shift and with a human sister who is more shifter than she is, she is still trying to find her place.

A chance encounter throws this somewhat unlikely pair together and needs beside the personal keep them in proximity allowing two people who aren’t inclined to let anyone close, to fall in love. The usual shifter mate dynamics are impossible for each of them, and so they forge their own way through some rather tricky situations.

I enjoyed seeing the dynamics for another, different sort of pack and it helped to flesh out the world and the people. They aren’t all brash and boisterous and secure in their animals. It added layers. Add in some more bear politics, some other shifter politics, and a life threatening plague, and it made for a rather exciting book. Plus, the reason for the title, Silver Mine, has absolutely nothing to do with actual mining, and was pretty funny. That is a heck of a nickname. 😉

And a very happily ever after for Shelly, who finds just the right place for herself, tops the whole exciting adventure and sweet love story off in just the right way. Heartwarming and happy – 3.5 stars

Silver Mine (Takhini Wolves, #2)

Advertisements
Standard
4 star review

Review – Ether & Elephants by Cindy Spencer Pape

Ether Elephants

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.

This is the 8th and final book in Cindy Spencer Pape’s Gaslight Chronicles. I got into this series after reading Meljean Brook’s Iron Seas. It was so refreshing and different that I had to find more like it. Somehow in that mindset I missed the “different” aspect of it. Needless to say, I read some abysmal steam-punk, some mediocre stuff, and then I found Gaslight/Gaslamp and this little gem of a series. The series presents a unique spin on Gaslight with the inclusion of a Knights of the Round Table mythology, vampires, werewolves, fey, and steam punk elements. It sounds overly busy, but it isn’t, it is just a wonderfully engaging world and the different aspects are very well blended.

The first book in the series, Steam & Sorcery, sets up the world building and the main characters for further books. It may not have hit the peaks that The Iron Seas did, for me, but it was pretty awesome and so I devoured what was available and have kept up with it since. And THIS is the book that I have been waiting for since the beginning. There have been some hints and then some stumbling blocks along the way, but man have I been longing for this book. This is NOT, in my opinion, a stand-alone, and I strongly encourage reading the series in order.

Sir Thomas Devere and Eleanor Hadrian have loved each other most of their lives—but sometimes love doesn’t conquer all.

Their chance at happiness was ruined by Tom’s hasty marriage to someone else. Heartbroken, Nell left home, finding a new life as a teacher at a school for the blind. But when one of her supernaturally gifted students, Charlie, is kidnapped, Tom reappears and her worlds collide.

Tom claims he hasn’t seen his wife since the day of their marriage…yet he fears the missing student could be his son.

The deeper they dig, the more Tom and Nell discover: a deadly alchemist, more missing gifted children and long-suppressed feelings neither of them is ready for. A race on airship across England and India may lead them to answers—including a second chance at love—but only if all of British Society isn’t destroyed first.

Fair warning, this is not a comfortable book. There are children in jeopardy, and Nell and Tom had my stomach in knots and my heart in my throat. But that is the mark of a good storyteller, when you empathize with the characters so much they suck you into their emotions, when the pain and the worry is real, and the outcome feels uncertain. Fortunately, this is romance, and I trust Cindy Spencer Pape to give a reliable happy ending (unlike other authors I could mention,) but in the midst of the story it was so easy to see where it could all go wrong,

Tom was a bit of a tough nut. He did some stupid things in his youth, and rather than trying to resolve things, he basically buried his head in the sand and gave up. And I think that is what hurt Nell the most. Nell on the other hand, despite the heartbreak, she grew into herself and found her agency, learning to value herself and demand respect. Tom took a little longer to get the picture, but I respect that Nell kept to her path and didn’t allow him to sway her. I think you can tell I really liked Nell, and once Tom got his head out of it, I really liked him too.

As far as the mystery goes, it was satisfyingly twisty. There was a good bit of sleuthing to be done, and this gave our two main protagonists the chance to really see how they’ve grown, without the blinders of their youthful relationship. But the mystery wasn’t a McGuffin either, it was well thought out and worked for itself AND to further the relationships and emotional connections, rather than just the latter. It kept me engaged so the whole story didn’t feel like over emotional navel gazing. Who says romance can’t also have a real plot, a real story? Not me, that is for sure. There was a bit of wish fulfillment in one element of the story, but I only noticed that retrospectively. And it was such a delightfully happy thing, that I simply could begrudge it.

In the end I believed in this couple’s happily ever after and trusted they had the grit to work through anything together. It was a very satisfying happily ever after.

I’m still hoping the author comes back to this world and we get Jamie and Piers’ stories, but in the meantime, this was a satisfying conclusion to the series and in no way feels as though the reader has been abandoned in series. 4 stars and I look forward to what Cindy Spencer Pape might come up with next.

Ether & Elephants (Gaslight Chronicles, #8)

Standard
3.5 star review

Review – Black Gold by Vivian Arend Book 1 Takhini Wolves

Black Gold

Ok, so that cover is not very appealing. Seriously, don’t really look at it. Fortunately for me, this was not my introduction the Vivian Arend, that was Wolf Signs, which enchanted me. This book is the start of the Takhini Wolves series which is a spin-off from the Granite Lake Wolves, to which Wolf Signs belong. Same world and occasional overlapping characters, but a whole different pack.

And I mean this is REALLY a whole different pack; different types of characters, definitely different management styles, and a whole new set of character conflicts. Shaun Stevens is a discontented wolf, although he doesn’t really realize it. So his alpha does what is reasonable (to him), and gets to the root of the problem by getting Shaun all liquored up on moonshine and giving him some pretty good advice. Unfortunately for Shaun, this is when his mate walks right into his life. Gemmita “Gem” Jacobs, is as southern as he is northern, as classy as he is brash, and every bit as dominant of a wolf. She’s not precisely running away, but she is trying to step out from her father’s loving (and smothering) protection. At first these two seem all wrong for each other, but it turns out it is for all the right reasons. And when opposites attract this hard, there are bound to be sparks, and these sparks started quite the blaze.

Overall, this was a really fun story. It was easy to get in the main characters heads, and to like them. Their motivations were clear, and while there were a few small misunderstandings, there weren’t any really big ones. Mostly, this is about two people growing into themselves and finding ways to make their differences into a match that is strong and stable.

There is also a small subplot with the alpha that is used to tie this series together, but it doesn’t over shadow the main romance. And there is a whole section on pack politics and inter-pack politics that serves to set this pack in the wider world and serves as a growth opportunity for Shaun. That sort of stuff I really enjoy, because it makes a paranormal story more than just main characters with a few quirky traits, it sets up a whole different world that I love to explore. And there is a small bit of intrigue that furthers the relationship, but honestly it was a bit of a McGuffin and I just didn’t care because I enjoyed the relationship so much.

Standard
2 star review

Review-Doctor-Patient Confidentiality (book 1) by Eme Strife

***ARC received from author in exchange for an honest review***

Doctor-Patient Confidentiality

By Eme Strife

Eme Strife, author of this series, reached out and asked if I would be interested in reading and writing a review for the first installment in her series “Patient Confidentiality”. After reading the prologue, I was hooked. It had just enough steamy romance/sexiness to reel me in.

I should have known it was too good to be true. After the prologue, I was tossed into the mundane ramblings of a college-aged woman who had an affinity for the f-word. A goodly portion of the first…second…maybe even third chapters was dedicated to her trek across campus to get to class. I waited and waited for things to pick up and get sexy but that never came through. The hot and heavy scenes from the prologue were no where to be seen in the book. I was so confused by this I actually downloaded the file again to ensure I had a full copy.

In short (and based on the length of this booklet that’s all I can give), if you are looking for a bait and switch, or something to pass the time in the bathroom, this may be a piece for you. It had 117 pages, and when read on my Kindle; the last 20% was dedicated to advertisements for other books written by Strife. If I had known, prior to reading, that this was essentially a small portion of a larger book, I would have skipped the review. I am not a fan of serial booklets, which could have been presented as a single standard length book.

Standard
3.5 star review

Review – Wolf Signs by Vivian Arend

Wolf Signs

Talk about getting your signals crossed…

Robyn Maxwell doesn’t care that her brother has to cancel out on their backcountry ski trip. She can do it alone. The fact she’s deaf doesn’t make her survival skills any weaker. The chance to get away from it all and relax in the Yukon wilderness is just what she’s been craving.

Meeting wilderness guide Keil at the cabin starts cravings of another kind. Keil’s one hot hunk of ripped, tasty male. Now she has to deal with raging hormones as well as strange questions about wolves and mates and challenges to the death.

Keil was trying for a nice reflective retreat before challenging for the Alpha position of his Alaskan pack. He wasn’t planning on meeting the woman destined to be his mate, or finding out she’s not aware she has the genes of a wolf.

Between dealing with his accident-prone younger brother, a deaf mate with an attitude and an impending duel to the death, his week—and his bed—is suddenly full.

Far from the relaxing getaway any of them had in mind…

I am pretty sure that this was the story that first introduced me to Vivian Arend. I was searching for disabled protagonists and it popped up. And since I am an audiologist and fairly fluent in American Sign language it caught my attention.

But Arend’s characters and world building are what kept my attention. These characters were fun and feisty, and Arend packed an enormous amount of characterization and plotting in what is a relatively short book (96 pages). You’ve got the meet-disaster of a Deaf heroine who thinks she’s all alone at a mountain retreat quite literally running smack dab into the hunky hero…while naked. A Deaf heroine who doesn’t know precisely what she is, a hero who can’t use sign language and no interpreter in sight, and a clumsy brother who could inadvertently destroy the world with his accident prone nature. There’s also pack drama and intrigues, but those don’t eclipse a really sweet story about a heroine who finds herself, and finds love.

Overall, this is a satisfying romance and the characterization of Robyn as a Deaf woman was a hit for me, and it definitely got me hooked on Vivian Arend.

Standard
3 star review

Review – Taming a Highland Devil by Kimberly Killion

Taming a Highland Devil

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.

A CHOICE…

Laird Magnus Sutherland loves women. His prowess in the bedchamber has earned him the name Devil of Dunrobin, but no woman has ever stirred his heart. Magnus needs to provide his clan with an heir, which is the only reason he agrees to marry the neighboring chieftain’s sister. When his betrothed arrives, he discovers the chieftain has two sisters. If Magnus must bind himself to one woman, he intends to discover which is best suited to be his wife, for he wants more than a body to plant his seed. He wants a mate for life.

A CHALLENGE…

There are three reasons Lady Effie Reay refuses to vie for Laird Sutherland’s affections…

For one, she is thirty-two and would surely lose a competition to her beautiful, younger sister. Secondly, Laird Sutherland is a well-reputed rake, and she holds no desire to wed another faithless man. And thirdly, the sight of him makes her tingle, shiver and ache.

Will Effie be successful in thwarting Magnus’ advances, or will her body succumb to a temptation that can only lead to heartbreak?

It looks like this is a story that was previously published by Ellora’s Cave and the rights have since reverted to the author and she is now self publishing it. I don’t know, but maybe if I had known it was previously published there, it might have set my expectations a little better. Because, this was not what I was expecting.

Don’t get me wrong. This wasn’t a poorly written or executed book, and the erotica juxtaposed into a period where I as a reader tend to expect more purple prose than raunchy scenes was highly titillating. It was just a little startling is all, and I was expecting more romance and a little less erotica.

I actually really liked Effie and Magnus (his mother calls him Maggie, how cute is that?), I just really wished there was more story, and since this was almost all sex, there wasn’t room in the 69 pages for enough story to satisfy me. The characters weren’t just cut outs or stock characters, so we saw enough of them for me to be dissatisfied with the amount of story, conflict and characterization that we did get. They both have sad histories, and they both just fit each other really well, I just wanted more.

There were also two things that really bothered me, and there is just no way to get around explaining them without spoilers so stop now if you don’t want spoilers…………………..

I just couldn’t get over the fact that Magnus literally tried each of the sisters out ahead of time. And I really couldn’t get over who Effie’s sister’s real lover actually was. Those were two real problems for me. But again, if I had realized who the original publisher was, I might not have been so surprised or so bothered. So I admit, some of my rating is reader bias and expectations, but overall I am giving this 3 stars, because I am betting this is just the right book for someone else.

Standard
News, Thoughts and Opinions

When reading history, it should be accurate to be worthwhile. Or why Texas has stepped into a steaming pile of stupid.

Texas History

You know something is big when conservatives and liberals both start sharing something. And it is huge, a huge mistake for the state of Texas. Apparently Texas has decided to re-write history.

This is insane, it’s not education or history. It’s fiction, and it needs to stop. Be honest. Don’t lie to each other, and especially don’t lie to children. Effing READ. Hell, start with A Declaration of the Causes which Impel the State of Texas to Secede from the Federal Union. Almost the ENTIRE thing is about slavery. Face it, the only state right they were concerned with was slavery.

And to illustrate that fact. Here is the ENTIRE Texas Declaration of causes. And what I am going to do is highlight every instance of slave, slavery, negro, race, etc. I think you’ll get the point pretty quickly.

“The government of the United States, by certain joint resolutions, bearing date the 1st day of March, in the year A.D. 1845, proposed to the Republic of Texas, then *a free, sovereign and independent nation* [emphasis in the original], the annexation of the latter to the former, as one of the co-equal states thereof,

The people of Texas, by deputies in convention assembled, on the fourth day of July of the same year, assented to and accepted said proposals and formed a constitution for the proposed State, upon which on the 29th day of December in the same year, said State was formally admitted into the Confederated Union.

Texas abandoned her separate national existence and consented to become one of the Confederated Union to promote her welfare, insure domestic tranquility and secure more substantially the blessings of peace and liberty to her people. She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution, under the guarantee of the federal constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits– a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slave-holding States of the confederacy. Those ties have been strengthened by association. But what has been the course of the government of the United States, and of the people and authorities of the non-slave-holding States, since our connection with them?

The controlling majority of the Federal Government, under various pretences and disguises, has so administered the same as to exclude the citizens of the Southern States, unless under odious and unconstitutional restrictions, from all the immense territory owned in common by all the States on the Pacific Ocean, for the avowed purpose of acquiring sufficient power in the common government to use it as a means of destroying the institutions of Texas and her sister slaveholding States.

By the disloyalty of the Northern States and their citizens and the imbecility of the Federal Government, infamous combinations of incendiaries and outlaws have been permitted in those States and the common territory of Kansas to trample upon the federal laws, to war upon the lives and property of Southern citizens in that territory, and finally, by violence and mob law, to usurp the possession of the same as exclusively the property of the Northern States.

The Federal Government, while but partially under the control of these our unnatural and sectional enemies, has for years almost entirely failed to protect the lives and property of the people of Texas against the Indian savages on our border, and more recently against the murderous forays of banditti from the neighboring territory of Mexico; and when our State government has expended large amounts for such purpose, the Federal Government has refuse reimbursement therefor, thus rendering our condition more insecure and harassing than it was during the existence of the Republic of Texas.

These and other wrongs we have patiently borne in the vain hope that a returning sense of justice and humanity would induce a different course of administration.

When we advert to the course of individual non-slave-holding States, and that a majority of their citizens, our grievances assume far greater magnitude.

The States of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa, by solemn legislative enactments, have deliberately, directly or indirectly violated the 3rd clause of the 2nd section of the 4th article [the fugitive slave clause] of the federal constitution, and laws passed in pursuance thereof; thereby annulling a material provision of the compact, designed by its framers to perpetuate the amity between the members of the confederacy and to secure the rights of the slave-holding States in their domestic institutions– a provision founded in justice and wisdom, and without the enforcement of which the compact fails to accomplish the object of its creation. Some of those States have imposed high fines and degrading penalties upon any of their citizens or officers who may carry out in good faith that provision of the compact, or the federal laws enacted in accordance therewith.

In all the non-slave-holding States, in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist between entirely distinct nations, the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party, now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those States, based upon an unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color— a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of Divine Law. They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States.

For years past this abolition organization has been actively sowing the seeds of discord through the Union, and has rendered the federal congress the arena for spreading firebrands and hatred between the slave-holding and non-slave-holding States.

By consolidating their strength, they have placed the slave-holding States in a hopeless minority in the federal congress, and rendered representation of no avail in protecting Southern rights against their exactions and encroachments. They have proclaimed, and at the ballot box sustained, the revolutionary doctrine that there is a ‘higher law’ than the constitution and laws of our Federal Union, and virtually that they will disregard their oaths and trample upon our rights.

They have for years past encouraged and sustained lawless organizations to steal our slaves and prevent their recapture, and have repeatedly murdered Southern citizens while lawfully seeking their rendition.

They have invaded Southern soil and murdered unoffending citizens, and through the press their leading men and a fanatical pulpit have bestowed praise upon the actors and assassins in these crimes, while the governors of several of their States have refused to deliver parties implicated and indicted for participation in such offenses, upon the legal demands of the States aggrieved.

They have, through the mails and hired emissaries, sent seditious pamphlets and papers among us to stir up servile insurrection and bring blood and carnage to our firesides.

They have sent hired emissaries among us to burn our towns and distribute arms and poison to our slaves for the same purpose.

They have impoverished the slave-holding States by unequal and partial legislation, thereby enriching themselves by draining our substance.

They have refused to vote appropriations for protecting Texas against ruthless savages, for the sole reason that she is a slave-holding State.

And, finally, by the combined sectional vote of the seventeen non-slave-holding States, they have elected as president and vice-president of the whole confederacy two men whose chief claims to such high positions are their approval of these long continued wrongs, and their pledges to continue them to the final consummation of these schemes for the ruin of the slave-holding States.

In view of these and many other facts, it is meet that our own views should be distinctly proclaimed.

We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.

That in this free government *all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights* [emphasis in the original]; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding states.

By the secession of six of the slave-holding States, and the certainty that others will speedily do likewise, Texas has no alternative but to remain in an isolated connection with the North, or unite her destinies with the South.

For these and other reasons, solemnly asserting that the federal constitution has been violated and virtually abrogated by the several States named, seeing that the federal government is now passing under the control of our enemies to be diverted from the exalted objects of its creation to those of oppression and wrong, and realizing that our own State can no longer look for protection, but to God and her own sons– We the delegates of the people of Texas, in Convention assembled, have passed an ordinance dissolving all political connection with the government of the United States of America and the people thereof and confidently appeal to the intelligence and patriotism of the freemen of Texas to ratify the same at the ballot box, on the 23rd day of the present month.

Adopted in Convention on the 2nd day of Feby, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one and of the independence of Texas the twenty-fifth.”

All the other Confederate states have similar declarations. If this doesn’t illuminate that the cause of the Civil War was completely about slavery, then that person must be willfully blind. And I am not even addressing the complete lack of information on significant historical events and movements. I am ONLY talking about lies and misinformation.

And this is not fiction. It is not a book or a movie where you can just retcon the story line for your own purposes. This is about real history, it affects real lives. How we perceive our past is how we perceive our present and how we address our futures. People in this country already have enough difficulty discussing race issues already. So if you don’t have a problem with the changes Texas is making in textbooks, then you need to take a good close look at your motivations. Because guess what? No one is saying that anyone living now was at fault for what happened. No one is saying it is your fault or your responsibility. But if your feelings are so hurt by having it public information, that people who may have looked like you or were maybe even your ancestors, did this, and thought this way, that you feel the need to re-write history, then you need to sit down and shut up and realize that this is NOT about you. History is about truth. It is about separating fact from fiction whenever possible. And inserting fiction into the narrative so you can feel better helps no one. It doesn’t even help you. You can’t address issues when you spend all of your time covering things up. This isn’t going away. Current events should seem to show that. But the narrative we build upon lies and misinformation twists things until all people can do is be angry, be defensive.

Let’s not be those types of people. Let’s embrace truth and teach our children to do the same.

Standard