The Friends and Family


Third page. List starts with the most recent at the top.  Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

Kay read: THE CROOK FACTORY by Dan Simmons
Dan Simmons's The Crook Factory is set in 1940's Cuba. American writer Ernest Hemingway wishes to set up his own spy ring, and wishes to use his personal boat to track Nazi submarines. An FBI agent named Joe Lucas is sent to Cuba to keep a close eye on him. When Hemingway's spy ring, called the Crook Factory, begins to find important evidence, things begin to get very interesting!

Kay read: A NIGHT IN THE LONESOME OCTOBER by Roger Zelazny
I have twice reread this. I read it at least once every year in October. It is told from the point of view of Snuff, who happens to be Jack the Ripper's dog. It is actually a very charming story, which includes many of the classic "monsters" such as Frankenstein, the Wolfman, and Dracula as characters. Throw in Lovecraft's Elder Gods, Sherlock Homes, mystery and mayhem, and a charming cat (Snuff's best friend) and you have a wonderful little book.

Kay read: SOLDIER OF SIDON by Gene Wolfe
Continues the story of Latro, the main character from Latro in the Mist, a good man and soldier who cannot remember anything from one day to the next due to a head injury suffered in the Greek/Persian Wars. In this novel, Latro travels through Africa and sails up the Nile, making stops in Egypt, Nubia, and Nysa. Ancient Egypt's magic is creepy, to say the least!

Kay read: AN ANTIC DISPOSITION by Alan Gordon
The Fools Guild has been driven out of their Italian Guild Hall by the Church. They have taken refuge in Germany. They continue to teach and entertain each other. One of the guild leaders tells the true story behind Shakespeare's Hamlet, from the point of view of the Fools involved. **Honorable Mention for part of my Favorite Historical Mystery Series read in 2006

Kay read: THE WIDOW OF JERUSALEM by Alan Gordon
The fourth book In his Fool's Guild Mysteries. Two fools, a man and his wife, are traveling back to the Guild Hall. A question comes up about a legendary fool called the Scarlet Dwarf. The husband tells the wife the story of Scarlet, who had been a part of the Third Crusade, and the servant of Isabelle, Queen of Jerusalem. The action takes place in today's Israel and Lebanon, and the setting - the crusade of Richard the Lion Heart - is pretty exciting. **Honorable Mention for Favorite Historical Mystery read in 2006 **Honorable Mention for part of my Favorite Historical Mystery Series read in 2006

The third book in Alan Gordon's Fool's Guild Mysteries. The fools stationed in Constantinople are faced with the crisis of their lives as the Fourth Crusade, the first crusade of Christians against Christians comes to town. How can the fools deflect or halt or delay the invasion and the sack of one of the Earth's greatest cities? And what does the mysterious murder in the Venetian Quarter have to do with the Crusade? **Honorable Mention for part of my Favorite Historical Mystery Series read in 2006

Joy read: SORCERER'S MOON by Julian May
Third of The Boreal Moon Tale. King Conrig has aged from a clever young conqueror into an unscrupulous, paranoid king. The new generation prefers to live its own life, but the magical Great Ones are conducting a war. Humans are supposed to be either their pawns or their soldiers, depending on how you look at them, until certain people take the bit between their teeth. Review.

Todd read: GO TO HELL: A HEATED HISTORY OF THE UNDERWORLD by Chuck Crisafulli & Kyra Thompson
Basically, GO TO HELL is a discussion of how hell has been viewed by various cultures.  It's not very in-depth, but it does have some good information. It tries a little too hard to be cute. It was research for a novel.  I have two more books in a similar vein.

Joy read: IRONCROWN MOON by Julian May
Second book of The Boreal Moon Tale. Deveron, spy for King Conrig, is in the thick of the action, protecting his island from malign magic and his king from destruction. The loyalties of individuals reveal their characters.
   This sequel works better when read in quick succession with the others. During my first reading, I had lost track of who some of the people were. Review.

Sunnie read: THE MERCY SEAT by Martyn Waites
5 out of 10. Jamal is a 14 year old boy who has had to resort to selling his body on the streets to get by. One night after earning some money with a client Jamal makes off with a Gold CD player which puts his life in danger.
   It's not the player that's the problem, it's what's in it.
   In desperation Jamal contacts a journalist for help who in turn enlists the aid of a private detective who is an ex-copper.
   The search for Jamal by the bad guys and the attempts by the journalist and his associates to keep Jamal alive are the crux of the plot. THE MERCY SEAT could be described as British Noir, I guess. It's not my cup of tea though. Poor Jamal is constantly in danger as he seems to meet the bad guys at every turn. There's one scene at the end where he's at the police station and decides to go for a walk to get something to eat. And they let him go off on his own.
   Lots of fight scenes in this book and it's pretty bleak without any humour to lighten the mood. While it may appeal to many it didn't to me. My full thoughts on the book here.

Sunnie read: RAVEN BLACK by Ann Cleeves
9.9 out of 10 (coz I never give 10s). First in a planned quartet of books set on the remote Scottish island of Shetland. The body of a 16 year old girl is found strangled one cold January morning. The obvious suspect is old Magnus Tait who is a bit simple and lives alone in the house of his late mother. Magnus was prime suspect in the disappearance of a young girl several years previously. Detective Jimmy Perez, who is stationed on the island, decides to get the jump on the Murder Investigation team being flown in from Aberdeen and starts asking questions. Luckily for him the Inspector in charge of the investigation is smart enough to recognise the value of local knowledge and lets Jimmy have his head . The pair team up to find out the identity of the murderer. Excellent book that works in a number of levels. It's not only a crime novel but it also looks at the sociology of a small isolated community. Note to self. Must find more by this author. Review.

Sunnie read: ROUNDING THE MARK by Andrea Camilleri
9 out of 10. It's Camilleri's 8th or 9th Inspector Montalbano book and my first encounter with him. Loved it. Inspector Montalbano is suitably cranky and quirky, the author has a sly, slightly macabre sense of humour and the peripheral characters each have their own individual personalities. Coupled with a first rate translation, you can't go too far wrong reading this one. Review.

Sunnie read: NO NEST FOR THE WICKET by Donna Andrews
7 out of 10. Mike and Meg are settling into their new place. Well at least they'd like to be, they are currently living in the barn because the house is being renovated by the Shifleys - a large family who seem to specialise in these things and who drink endless cups of coffee.
   If contending with renovations and Meg's assorted oddball relatives wandering about the place isn't enough, her mother's friend, Mrs Fenniman, has organised a croquet tournament. Not just any tournament. No. This is an x-treme croquet tournament (yes, folks, there really is such a thing as extreme croquet). While taking part and hitting her ball down a cliff while trying to negotiate a bovine hazard (a cow sitting on one of the wickets), Meg slips and finds herself eyeball to eyeball with a dead blonde woman. So the hunt is on.
   Anyone who's read Donna Andrews knows that she writes romps in the vein of Janet Evanovich. I thought NO NEST FOR THE WICKET was one of her better efforts. A little more restrained than WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE PARROTS. Good for a fun light read. Review.

Joy read: CONQUEROR'S MOON by Julian May
I have the last of the trilogy now, so this time I'm going to read all three together. This one, the first of The Boreal Moon Tale, was my Favorite Fantasy Read of 2004. Review.

Joy read: THE SHELTERS OF STONE by Jean M. Auel
We get to find out how Jondalar's people react to Ayla. I am less familiar with this book than I am with the rest of the series, so I thought I'd reread this one, too. Auel could have taken a lot of the space she used to describe terrain and used it to develop the characters, instead of having so many people who just say their lines. Interesting story, though, and an enjoyable romance. She gave a great deal of thought and love to devising the various societies. Review.

Kay read: A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon
The latest book in the Outlander series. It was by far the biggest book in my TBR pile. :-) The Frasers face the arrival of the American Revolution in North Carolina, while Jaime attempts to perform a balancing act between getting along with the violent revolutionaries and with the violent Tories. There is a reason that the American Revolution is sometimes called the third British Civil War, and this book brings those divided loyalties to light and life. Gabaldon's website says that she plans 1-2 more books in this series, but for now she is taking a breather, and working on some mystery stories.

Kay read: THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon
The fifth novel in the Outlander series. Fiery crosses were once used in the Scottish Highlands to call the Clans to war (in America they later came to have a much uglier symbology). The Frasers are living in colonial North Carolina as the American Revolution approaches. A group of early revolutionaries (who we might consider to be terrorists) are operating in the wilds of North Carolina, and things are becoming rather interesting. As some of my ancestors were in this group (The Regulators) in the real world in North Carolina, this book is proved to be of high interest to me on a personal level.

Carla read: TEMERAIRE by Naomi Novik (Commonwealth title for HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGON)
Rollicking adventure involving dragons as aerial forces in a fantasy version of the Napoleonic Wars.  Review.

Carla re-read: FLIGHT OF THE SPARROW by Fay Sampson
Worthy study of religious guilt and the misery of exile in early medieval Britain. Review.

Joy read: THE MAMMOTH HUNTERS by Jean M. Auel
I am susceptible to rereads of this particular book in the Earth's Children series. Some friends were talking about it and here I went. Ayla is learning what it is like to live with people of her own species. I enjoy the members of Lion Camp more than I do the people of any of Auel's other books.

Joy read: THE AGRICOLA AND THE GERMANIA by Cornelius Tacitus
2 treatises by Tacitus: a memoir of Tacitus' father-in-law, first century Roman governor of Britain, and a description of the tribes of Germany. The Penguin Classic edition comes with copious historical notes and an assessment of Tacitus' historiography, written by translator Harold Mattingly. The whole thing, modern and ancient, is a surprisingly easy read. Good translating -- style-wise, I mean.

Kay read: THE DRUMS OF AUTUMN by Diana Gabaldon
Fourth novel in her Outlander series. Jaime and Claire Fraser are finally together, and making a new life for themselves in the wilderness of the mountains of colonial North Carolina. Their adult daughter back in our world in the 1960's in Boston, discovers in historical records when and how they die, and is desperate to find a way to visit them to give them a warning. She risks the stone circle, and is followed by the man who loves her. Various complications follow. As some of my ancestors lived in that very area of North Carolina in that very time period, I am finding the book to be a great interest in bringing the sorts of challenges my ancestors faced to life.

Kay read: MAISIE DOBBS by Jacqueline Winspear
The first book in a mystery series of the same name as this first book and also the main character. Another book I did not wish to finish. A remarkable and wonderful story of a very intelligent young lady who served as a battle field nurse for Britain in World War I, then later opens a detective agency in London in the 1920's. **Part of my Favorite Historical Mystery Series read in 2006

Joy read: TIM by Colleen McCullough
A reread of one of the most unusual, deep -- even wise -- romances I've ever read.

Joy read: ON OFF by Colleen McCullough
People-oriented thriller about the hunt for the serial killer of pure young girls in a Connecticut university town. This is a one-sitting read. Review.

Kay read: IMPERIUM by Robert Harris
A novel about the life of the famous Roman Marcus Cicero, as written by his slave and long term secretary, Tiro. It is well written and very interesting. I just love the voice of the one hundred year old Tiro - Harris did a great job with that narration. Cicero is a man of burning, fiery ambition. He will stop at nothing to get ahead in politics - even do great things that help a lot of people! And bad things, too, of course. The real world Tiro actually did write a biography of his master, Cicero - but that was lost long ago when Rome fell. I hugely enjoyed this and did not want to finish.

Joy read: EVIL BREEDING by Susan Conant
The 12th Dog Lovers' Mystery. Holly is researching a woman she admired, and finds herself involved with a less than admirable family. Fortunately her Malamutes can cure any low mood. I thought that this time the humor about Holly's single-minded dog-worship became a bit forced and repetitive. Usually it's just plain funny. However, the characters continued to engage my mind overnight after I finished reading.

Carla read: THE WHITE MARE by Jules Watson
Historical epic set during the Roman invasion of Scotland in AD 79-81, in which an exiled Irish prince and a Pictish priestess-princess make a marriage of political convenience and military alliance that develops into love.  A mammoth book (610 pages) with a very slow start, it showed signs of picking up around page 150. Review.

Joy read: EVERY SECRET CRIME by Doug M. Cummings
The second Reno McCarthy mystery. A teenage boy is killed in his own home, and the cops quickly have an expendable suspect. Any valid investigation is blocked by government corruption. TV reporter Reno McCarthy still has the temper of a grenade, left over from his previous adventure, and he's up against cops who chew iron. If he can expose them, maybe he can get at their bosses.
   EVERY SECRET CRIME is changing publishers, so no release date is scheduled. Review.

Kay read: VOYAGER by Diana Gabaldon
In the third book, we (and Claire) learn that Jaime did indeed survive Culloden. The tragedy of his (and the rest of the Highlands') subsequent life is told. Claire wishes to find her way back to Jaime, and does - but they have been twenty years apart, and have both changed greatly. This book not only spans the decades and centuries, but also the Continents, as some of the characters begin to have lives across the Atlantic during the various time periods of the book.

Joy read: COMPETITORS! by Susanne Marie Knight
What happened to the Neanderthals? And what does it have to do with a modern young woman house-sitting for her brother? Release date Feb 2. Review.

Kay read: DRAGONFLY IN AMBER by Diana Gabaldon
Dragonfly in Amber is the second book in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. In Outlander, we meet Claire, who was a combat nurse for the British army during WW2. She and her husband Frank are on a second honeymoon to reconnect with each other after the war. When walking in the Scottish Highlands, Claire enters a stone circle on a Pagan holiday, and is transported to Scottish Highlands of the 1740's. There she has many adventures, is thought to be either a gifted physician or a witch due to her healing skills, and is forced to marry a handsome Scottish laird (and outlaw to the English) named Jaime Fraser. In Dragonfly in Amber we meet Claire - in 1960's Scotland, who has been back in our world some twenty years, and who has an adult daughter (among many other changes in her life). She wishes to explain to her daughter of what had happened to her on her previous trip to Scotland, and how her daughter came to be. As part of that explanation we learn how Claire and Jaime came to be apart, and how Claire came back to our world. We learn of the tragedy of Culloden, where Claire thinks Jaime has lost his life.

Joy read: SUSPENSE AND SENSIBILITY by Carrie Bebris
Or possession? The second Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery finds Elizabeth and Darcy presenting Georgiana and Kitty to London society. At least one charming young man of their acquaintance is even more of a rogue than most society gentlemen. The solution is so predictable I had to force myself to read about how they get to that point. The ending is nice, though.

Joy read: PRIDE AND PRESCIENCE by Carrie Bebris
The first Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy want nothing more than to go home to Pemberley, but Miss Bingley's behavior has become quite odd. Then an old family enemy plants himself into the family gathering at Netherfield. Not the honeymoon anyone had in mind.
   The first few chapters are delightful, combining deft characterization and sprightly conversation. The gathering menaces become a bit tedious, and the final exposure of several characters is interesting. At risk of repeating myself I ask, What is witchcraft doing in Jane Austen's world?

A fascinating study of a neglected episode in English history, the five years of rebellion and guerilla warfare that followed 1066.  The Norman Conquest didn't happen in a day.  Very interesting and with a lot of information that is rarely discussed, but needs concentration owing to its tendency to skip back and forth between events at different times, and sometimes seems to blur the line between evidence and speculation. Review.

Part of it, anyway.
   The youngest daughter of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth flees, dressed as a man, from an inhuman husband. On her way across Europe she meets unpleasant people who are approved members of the Ton, and kind, reliable people who are beyond the pale. Totally unbelievable story: Darcy fandom meets pulp romance. About a third of the way through I looked at the end and decided I didn't want to go there.

Joy read: DUTY AND DESIRE by Pamela Aidan
Book Two of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman. This takes us totally afield, into territory Jane Austen never touched. Darcy finds he has taken his thoughts of Elizabeth home to Pemberley with him. Determined to forget her, he scouts the Society ladies at a house party. Austen surely never thought of witchcraft in connection with her novels.
   DUTY AND DESIRE is more elaborately written than AN ASSEMBLY SUCH AS THIS. Disentangling its descriptions would make it easier to read.

Kay read: LATRO IN THE MIST by Gene Wolfe
A wonderful story about an injured soldier set in ancient Greece.

Joy read: AN ASSEMBLY SUCH AS THIS by Pamela Aidan
Book One of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman. Covers the period of Mr. Bingley's first residence at Netherfield. In addition to creating new characters and events, Aidan gives extra attention to visuals, resulting in a richer atmosphere.

Sunnie read: THE VINCIBLES by Gideon Haigh
8 out of 10. Warm and affectionate non-fiction book about a season of a suburban cricket team. Similar to below only true (more or less).

Sunnie read: CRICKET KINGS by William McInnes
7 out of 10. Warm and affectionate novel about a suburban cricket team. One review labelled it a little too saccharine but I enjoyed it.

Sunnie read: THE FIRST CASUALTY by Ben Elton
7 out of 10
   WWI - Police detective imprisoned for being a conscientious objector is sent to the Front in France, to investigate the death of the son of a Member of Parliament who is also a darling of the country because he's a poet.
   Funny, I remember reading the book and enjoying it but I had to pull up a review to remember the details. Not only a mystery but an interesting look at social attitudes towards war and in particular those who disagreed with fighting it. The name is a play on the fact that the first casualty of war is usually the truth.

Sunnie read: CLEANSKIN by Gay Lynch
5 out of 10
   Another Australian novel. This one could have had the subtitle of
Angst and Discontent in Suburbia. Set in the 80's it's about a group of women living in Port Augusta in South Australia who have an informal playgroup with their young children. None of them are particularly happy with their life and through a series of conversations at the playgroup we learn the exact nature of their unhappiness and witness the breakdown of a marriage.
   Have to say I didn't like these women very much. Bunch of very discontented middle class women who as far as I could see didn't have all that much to be unhappy about. Too much navel gazing and angsting about the landscape for my liking. Personally I felt sorry for the husbands of a couple of 'em. Review.

Sunnie read: INTRACTABLE by Bernie Matthews
7 out of 10
   Non-fiction work about what life was like in Australia's toughest prison in the 1970's. Grafton prison was where those prisoners who were labelled "intractable" were sent. Intractable usually meant those who were serial escapists or those who repeatedly gave prison officers a hard time. The philosophy at Grafton was to rule by fear and violence and the "screws" were little better than the prisoners on that score. Matthews spent 20 years of his adult life behind bars and had several spells in Grafton and in its successor - Australia's first "super-max" prison Katingal. It was just as bad in its own way as Grafton. The state-of-the-art prison was an exercise in sensory deprivation and was just as much a place of torture as Grafton - one was physical the other psychological. In the end Katingal was only open for 2 and a half years as experts decided it was just too psychologically damaging. They concluded that after 6 months in this place a prisoner was most likely going to be psychologically damaged for the rest of his life. Matthews spent most of the unit's life in Katingal.
   INTRACTABLE is a no-nonsense account of life behind bars in the 70s . It offers no excuses or justification for the behaviour of anyone involved and it offers no insights into the thinking that saw prisoners constantly cycled through these units. Nevertheless despite these shortcomings it's a glimpse into a world that most of us (thankfully) have no experience of. Review.

Sunnie read: UNDERTOW by Sydney Bauer
6.5 out of 10
New Australian author who has (a little disappointingly I thought) set her book in Boston. Pity in a way because for Aussie readers there aren't enough authors who set their books in the Australian landscape.
   Anyway this one is about the daughter of a Senator for Massachusetts who defies her parents and goes out on a boat with her best friend (who happens to be African American) and her mother for her friend's birthday. There is an accident and Senator's daughter dies. Senator is a nasty piece of work and decides that despite all evidence pointing towards an accident that "these people" must pay. He uses his influence and has the mother charged with murder. Enter the hero, a defense lawyer, and despite all the odds against him and all the dirty tricks being pulled he defends the mother.
   The author is a television executive and the plot of the book I think reflects that she has one eye on tv/movie adaptation. Again predictible elements and some stuff that doesn't quite hang together, but the plot races along at such a speed that it doesn't really matter all that much. Rollercoaster ride, light fun read. Perfect for holidays or travel when you don't really want to have to exercise your brain too much. Review.

Sunnie read: DIRTY BLONDE by Lisa Scottoline
7 out of 10
Attractive newly appointed judge finds herself in a difficult position when her first case as a judge involves a civil action of a former DA suing a tv producer over the creation of a successful tv show. Everyone knows the producer has pulled a swiftie and is cheating the writer out of his money, but the letter of the law has to be followed. When the producer is found murdered the plaintiff is the chief suspect. The judge has a dark secret in her past which threaten to be revealed if she does the right thing.
   Quite good, if a little predictable with some of the elements of the plot. Then again it is a legal thriller and thrillers necessarily have to have certain elements that can make them almost cliches. This is one of the better offerings in the genre though. Review.

A recent sequel to PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Elizabeth's letters to her beloved sister Jane show her learning not to be intimidated by Pemberley, getting acquainted with Society thereabouts, and worrying (a little) about family. They are written very much in the Austen style -- Elizabeth's personality shines just as the Elizabeth we know. A pleasant, very speedy read.

Joy read: THE WAY TOWARD HEALTH by Jane Roberts
I had to go on and finish the book sequence, though I've read this one before. It is triumphant and tragic at the same time. While Jane is dying, Seth dictates another wise book, about the emotional bases of health or illness, which Rob combines with his account of Jane's last months. There's a surprise from Jane's past near the end.
   Seth says in several different ways that every spirit knows it will continue after the body dies: "No consciousness considers death an end or a disaster, but views it instead as a means to the continuation of corporeal or noncorporeal existence." Jane and Rob, especially Rob, can be seen blocking this idea out of their minds with more and more desperation as her body declines, though he does come to realize it part of the time. I think it would be more emotionally comfortable to prepare for death in the manner of Stephen Levine's books, and then let it arrive when it is ready. As Seth says, the body knows its own rhythms.
   And I'm medicating my old cat for 3 different conditions.

High in the secret mountains
where the proclamations
of nature come,
I sense a new note full and free
as a whole new world in some
ancient sweet recipe.
by Jane Roberts

Kay read: HIS MAJESTY, THE PRINCE OF TOADS by Delle Jacobs
In this enjoyable regency romance, a couple had been forced to marry following an unintentional breach of social rules. They then separated for many years. Circumstances bring them back together, strangers who must somehow and in some way try to forge a working relationship from the ashes of the past. Both the man and the woman carry a lot of emotional baggage. The way they try to find a way to exist with each other ends up to being very touching, and you root for them to work something positive out with each other.

Kay read: THE TROJAN WAR: A NEW HISTORY by Barry Strauss
Strauss compares the events and personalities found in the epic Iliad to today's most recent research by archaeologists, historians, and linguists on the Bronze Age in the greater Mediterranean area and on the Greeks and the Hittites in particular. It is now thought that the Mycenean Greeks of that era were pretty much a people we would consider to be warlike barbarian pirates. Troy was a large and wealthy city which was the capital of a kingdom called Wilusa (in Greek Wilion = Illium) which was a Hittite vassal state. Many references have now been found of Troy in the Imperial Hittite archives. The war (and the experts do confirm that there was a war which ended with the destruction of Troy), was most likely over the control of trade routes. Many of the events of the Iliad are like other events in the records of the Hittites and of Egpyt of the Bronze Age, such as the duels of champions and the mutilation of the bodies of kings and/or princes killed by other kings/princes, just as Achilles is said to have mutilated the body of Hector. **Favorite History Book read in 2006

In this book, the author explores the history of alcohol usage in the Western Hemisphere, particularly in the US. Rum was one of the first popular liquors distilled in the Western Hemisphere, and over the hundreds of years since it was first created (probably on the island of Barbados), it has waxed and waned in popularity many times depending on social and historical factors. The book also contains many cocktail recipes, from the early grogs and punches to today's daquiris and mojitos.

Kay read: A FISTFUL OF CHARMS by Kim Harrison
In A Fistful of Charms Rachel and her partner, the pixie Jenks, must travel to Michigan to rescue a pair of thieves that they know and care about. The thieves have stolen a cursed statue imbued with such powerful supernatural powers that the artifact could start a war between two species of Inderlanders. On top of it, Rachel must face some very unpleasant truths about her own personality, and must face some even more unpleasant truths about some people who are very important to her. **Honorable Mention for Best Supernatural Romance read in 2006

Kay read: EVERY WITCH WAY BUT DEAD by Kim Harrison
I have finally found time to read the third and fourth books in Kim Harrison's series about a beautiful, tough-as-nails young witch living in the Kentucky suburbs of Cincinnati.
   In Every Witch Way but Dead, Rachel Morgan must find a way to face the price of making a bargain with a powerful demon. The demon kept his side of their bargain by helping Rachel defeat a powerful enemy and testifying in court so that the enemy goes to jail. Now Rachel must find a way to keep her side of the bargain - and somehow still retain her soul.

Kay read: JESTER LEAPS IN by Alan Gordon
The second book of the Fools' Guild Mysteries. After the events of Thirteenth Night, Theo (also known as Feste the fool) and his new wife/apprentice are sent on a very dangerous mission to Constantinople, where all of the fools and troubadors have gone missing and are presumed dead. They must somehow survive the deadly Imperial politics while trying to solve the mystery of the vanished fools - and while back in Italy, a Crusade prepares itself for invasion and bloodshed. **Honorable Mention as part of my Favorite Historical Mystery Series read in 2006

Kay read: THIRTEENTH NIGHT by Alan Gordon
The first in his Fools' Guild Mysteries series. In the Middle Ages, the fools and troubadours of Europe and the Mediterranean were members of a very secret society whose primary goal is to foster peace throughout the continent and surrounding regions - this is the premise behind this quite wonderful mystery series. In the first book, Gordon writes a sequel to Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, where the Fool who was a character in that story is sent once again to the city of Orsino to investigate the death of one of the important nobles of that story. Malvolio is, of course, the prime suspect! **Honorable Mention as part of my Favorite Historical Mystery Series read in 2006

Kay read: A FLICKER OF DOUBT by Tim Myers
Fourth book in his Candlemaking Mysteries. Harrison Black was aimlessly drifting through life until he inherited a candle making store from his great-aunt. The business gives him an outlet for his creativity, and managing a small business and trying to earn enough money so that the business and he can both survive becomes a time consuming and passion generating center for his life. In the fourth book of this series, Harrison has the misfortune of finding his former girl friend's body floating in the river that runs by his store. The county sheriff declares it to be a suicide. Harrison believes that her death was a result of foul play, and sets out to prove it. **Part of my Favorite Contemporary Mystery Series read in 2006

Kay read: THE CORINTHIAN by Georgette Heyer
As with the other Heyer books I have read, it was charming and amusing. A beautiful young heiress is going to be married off to a loathsome man. So she decides to disguise herself as a boy and run away. A wealthy titled man is about to propose marriage to a demanding woman he has little liking and no love towards for the sake of both their families. On his way home from getting very drunk over this, he runs into a beautiful girl (disguised as a boy) who is running away from home and he decides to help her. Things get very complicated from there, as the pair of runaways have one adventure after another.

Kay read: A QUICK BITE by Lynsay Sands
I was first exposed to Lynsay Sands from a funny story in the Dates from Hell romantic horror anthology, which I enjoyed so much that I tracked down one of her novels. A Quick Bite was both amusing and sexy. A young vampire comes to her mother's house in metro Toronto for the birthday party her family is throwing for her. In her old room she finds a hunky man tied up in her old bed with a bow around his neck. He must be her birthday gift from her mother! And there couldn't possibly be any harm in a quick bite, could there?
   Well, obviously there will be a lot of complications from that quick snack. Enjoyable romantic romp, with an actual attempt at a scientific explanation for vampires.

When THE WORLD VIEW OF REMBRANDT was finished, I was anxious to go on and see what happened to Jane and Rob next.
   In my view, what Jane and Rob missed was the awareness that there is "a time to live and a time to die". They had real conflicts about it in the beginning of this book.
   I think Jane's body knew its time had come to wind down, to let her spirit move on. Jane was afraid to die, in spite of all her knowledge about the afterlife. Especially she wanted to do what her husband wanted her to do, so she tried to live past her time. The result was an Indian summer and two more books; so she managed to please her husband and her readers, too, by hanging on longer to life.
   Rob was convinced that if Jane changed her thinking, in the ways suggested by Seth, she could completely regain her health. He got quite upset with her sometimes, blaming her for still being sick. It was an unusual way for caregiver syndrome to express itself.
   In the meantime Jane channeled two more books, and regained motion in many of her joints as she did so. We move on to Seth's final book in quite an encouraged mood.

Joy read: THE WORLD VIEW OF REMBRANDT by Jane Roberts
Jane Roberts was a medium. Occasionally, for the pleasure of her painter husband, she would channel viewpoint material left behind by creative pioneers such as Rembrandt. The analysis, or self-analysis, of Rembrandt is interspersed with her husband Rob's notes giving an unflinching account of what was going on in their lives during this time. Jane was in the late stages of rheumatoid arthritis when she dictated the material. The effect is extraordinarily alive with understated passions, from their time and Rembrandt's.
   It has an awesome little section on Michelangelo and da Vinci near the end, too.
   As an introduction to Roberts, new readers can acquaint themselves with the approach through SETH SPEAKS or THE SETH MATERIAL. Roberts/Seth coined the saying, "You create your own reality," which has been gaining believers ever since.

Joy read: DARCY'S STORY by Janet Aylmer
The story of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE told from Darcy's point of view. Review.

This biography caught my eye when it was released, and finally I have it. Leonardo is best known as an artist, but his genius was especially to analyze and invent. Nicholl has familiarized himself with an amazing amount of material, and he isn't afraid to speculate with it. He especially brings out Leonardo's humanity.

Carla read: WROXETER: LIFE AND DEATH OF A ROMAN CITY by Roger White and Philip Barker
Fascinating and very readable study of the entire history of the Roman town of Wroxeter (Viroconium) from its first founding as a Roman fortress in the first century AD up to the present day, as revealed by archaeological excavation. The authors have led the excavations at Wroxeter for over twenty years, and pioneered the revolutionary techniques that allowed them to recognise and fully evaluate post-Roman timber structures that have challenged assumptions about 'the Dark Ages'.

Joy read: BEAUDRY'S GHOST by Carolan Ivey
A Union soldier cut to pieces by Confederates has wandered the Carolina shore as a ghost for 130 years, looking for a way to reclaim his honor. During a Civil War re-enactment a grieving woman with "the sight" is caught up in his revenge. They can't heal without each other.
   Another good example in a genre I have gotten fond of: spirits staying on earth to resolve issues from their lives. I like the ones that are handled with humanity, and this is.

Joy read: HIS MAJESTY, THE PRINCE OF TOADS by Delle Jacobs
Lord Deverall was ready to romance any beautiful woman except his wife. Sophie wanted nothing to do with the husband she hadn't seen for six years. It looked like their shotgun wedding ruined any chance they might have had at happiness together. Lots of Regency romances are filled with fireworks and secrets, but few of them are so much fun. Award-winning romance writer Jacobs looks like she has another winner. Review. **Most enjoyable Romance New Read in 2006

Joy read: PASSIONATO by Sharon Lee
Wow. An old vampire with the appearance of a child keeps a building full of artists to feed on. He loves and cares for each one of his herd, and defends them when an interloper breaks in and endangers them all. I was amazed at how much emotion the author was able to compress into this short story.

Joy read: APPLES by Naomi Novik
The author of Temeraire insinuates character and atmosphere into 450 words.

Joy read: THE DA VINCI CODE by Dan Brown
Once again my partner has talked me into reading something that was all too popular for me to be attracted to it. Another friend recommended I look at it as if I were reading a fantasy, to avoid worrying about whether the history is accurate.
   I don't usually care for thrillers, but some thrillers are smarter than others, and this is smarter. The puzzles are clever. I also like the revival of interest in the goddess, even though this is an iffy incarnation for her. Overall, I thought the book got better and better, the closer it got to the end.

The first of the Fremont Jones Mysteries. Caroline Fremont Jones is a Boston aristocrat from the turn of the century. She is also spunky and very free thinking for her time (and she despises wearing a corset). When her father decides to marry a very conventional widow, who hopes to marry her off to an odious nephew, Caroline decides to run away from Boston. She takes her mother's legacy and takes the train out to San Francisco, where she begins a new life as Fremont Jones, who types manuscripts for a living in a small office in the year 1905. Her typing brings mysteries and excitement in her life through some very unusual clients.

Kay read: THE CHOCOLATE BRIDAL BASH by Joanne Carl
The latest Chocoholic Mystery by Joanna Carl. Lee McKinney is planning her small wedding in the tiny Michigan resort town where she lives. Her mother does not want to return to the town of her birth for the wedding. Irked and mystified, Lee asks her aunt, owner of the local chocolate shop, how to deal with the problem. A huge mystery in Lee's mother's past is revealed. Lee decides to tackle this mystery, in hopes of getting things running smoothly for the wedding. **Honorable Mention as part of my Favorite Contemporary Mystery Series read in 2006

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