The Friends and Family

BOOK BLOG
 

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

Joy read: HELEN by Georgette Heyer
A growing up story that starts out adorable and deepens through the Great War and her relationship with her father to maturity. This is a more searching type of novel than the Regencies that Heyer is famous for, firmly set in the emotions and values of early 20th century England.

Joy read: MY SECRET HISTORY by Paul Theroux
Andre isn't really his name, but he thinks it sounds classier than Andrew. He attracts woman, he writes articles, he moved to Africa because he loves living there, and he makes hardly any real connection with the people he pleases himself with. He lives in a series of little paradises with one woman or another, and at the first injection of reality, he must escape. I'm two-thirds of the way through the book, still waiting for him to do something that isn't self-indulgent. Maybe the emigre teacher he just met will change him.
   This is the first Theroux I have read. One of my sisters loves him, I can't tell why. I will say for the book that it sounds very authentic, personality-wise. Theroux seems to believe in him.
  
After finishing: I'm very glad to be done with this book. I don't think the protagonist would have been so antithetical to me if the author hadn't deliberately made him that way. A person like Andre isn't necessarily as bad as Theroux makes him look.

Joy read: THE ISLAND PRISON by K.G. McAbee
Proofreading. (notes below)

Joy read: HORSE PASSAGES by Jennifer Macaire
Two years ago this was my favorite YA of the year, and now I'm publishing it. :D

Joy read: THE HEADMASTER'S WIFE by Jane Haddam
Mark DeAvecca is boarding at Windsor Academy, a high school for liberal rich kids, and not handling it very well. In fact, strangers mistake the formerly sharp, insightful, handsome youngster for a homeless man, and most people at Windsor think he is a druggie. Mark still has enough of his fine brain functioning to call Gregor Demarkian and ask for help. It isn't just the mystery of what has happened to Mark that makes the story, there are also Haddam's usual great range of characters -- especially the headmaster's wife, Alice Makepeace, who seems to walk in her own personal spotlight. The corruptions of this gorgeous woman are only part of what threaten the foundations of Windsor.
   This was a reread for me. When I read it 2 years ago I felt sympathy for Mark, but I reached a whole new level of sympathy on this reread, after meeting him as his true self in SOMEBODY ELSE'S MUSIC. It made the ending especially triumphant.

Joy read: DARK LIGHT by Jayne Castle
The new installment of the Curtain World series set on Harmony. Sci fi romance, light, fun and adventurous. A reporter for a scandal sheet marries a powerful Hunter Guild boss so she can track down who might be kidnapping retired hunters. I like the romance -- it has fewer of the contrived misunderstandings than most romances do. I've loved the dust bunny pets (companions) in the series, though I think this dust bunny named Elvis in his star costumes is a bit over the top. He's still very funny in his floating car and endearing in his determination to find his missing mistress. There's even a tie-in to the author's Arcane Society books.

Joy read: INTO THE LIGHT by John R. Ford
Proofing the print version of our fantasy inspirational. We liked it so much we recommended it be entered for the EPPIEs.

Joy read: GREEN MONEY by D.E. Stevenson
A D.E. Stevenson book is a perfect vacation for the stay-at-home lady who loves the old days, when people knew what made a person nice and tried to behave that way. In this 1939 romance, George, son of landed gentry, finds himself guardian to a sheltered heiress. Now that Elma's father is dead, she wants become as modern as possible, and lots of predatory young men want to help her do it. George's happy, undemanding life is suddenly at sixes and sevens.

Joy read: BLUE HAZE by Tricia McGill
We are rereleasing this romance because we require our romances to have something special about them. In the early 1800s England deported convicts to Australia, and dumped them there to make lives for themselves if they could while they served out their sentences. Isabella has no say in who she was assigned to serve. She has a passionate relationship with Tiger, a self-made man whose dream is to pioneer over the far hills. Their biggest challenge is to learn to see each other as they are.

Joy read: BLEEDING HEARTS by Jane Haddam
I had to jump back in time in the series because this one finally arrived in the mail. The founder of a self-help movement has a questionable personal life -- it's easy to predict Paul Hazzard will be trouble for Gregor's neighbor Hannah. Readers will be unraveling the puzzle of Paul's disfunctional family, while taking a sympathetic interest in Hannah's emotional life, being impressed with Paul's ex-mistress Candida who is about to write a tell-all biography, and enjoying the relationship started by Bennis's visiting brother. I found a telling resemblance between specific elements in BLEEDING HEARTS and AND ONE TO DIE ON.
   Now I have to tear myself away from Haddam, because work is going to be taking up my reading time.

Joy read: THE ISLAND PRISON by K.G. McAbee
Sequel to the award winning YA, THE DARK LEGACY. Here Holli has been captured by the evil Captain Craven, and her brother Noah is collecting allies to save her. Holli has the beautiful Lady Isobel and her ocelot as companions in captivity. Noah has with him Rowley the raccoon, Don Orlando the possum, and some new human friends, determined to steal Holli off the island no matter what it takes. But where is Gilbert, their faithful Labrador? Fun for kids and totally cute for adults. We got very lucky when we were offered the Crystal Staircase trilogy.

Joy read: CONSPIRACY THEORY by Jane Haddam
I didn't expect to like this one, with a title like that, and the blurb saying Father Tibor's church is destroyed by a bomb. For some reason I was surprised to find myself surrounded by the same warm community and the people I like, interacting with a new set of interesting characters. The paranoid rhetoric scattered throughout may or may not be quotes, but the listed conspiracy websites are real, Haddam says. That's the part I skip over or skim. I was able to pick out at least one character with plenty of practical motive to commit the murders. Haddam always enjoys social commentary, and especially so in CONSPIRACY THEORY.

Joy read: SKELETON KEY by Jane Haddam
I wanted to reread this (after only a month) because Grace Feinmann moved into Cavanaugh Street during SOMEBODY ELSE'S MUSIC, and SKELETON KEY is where we first met her. I might have reread only the sections with Grace, but this is the book with the same setting as ONCE AND FUTURE MURDER, and the one in which the relationship between Gregor and Bennis takes an intense turn.

Joy read: SOMEBODY ELSE'S MUSIC by Jane Haddam
This will give a grim satisfaction to anyone who was the school target. Liz Toliver, tormented all through school, went away and became a celebrity author. The gang of bullies who made her life miserable were cheerleaders, the prom queen, the "popular" group -- meaning everyone in town was afraid too offer Liz/Betsy any help. Now she's back, and all the stay-at-homes, the bullies who never fulfilled their promise, can't bear it. Surely that isn't motive enough for someone to murder the gang members one at a time. Liz, her family and close friends, and Gregor and his friends, tackle the murders during the outbreak of a storm as terrible as the storm in the mind of one of the townspeople.
   Haddam's series just keeps getting better, as her characters take on more and more depth. This is a strong candidate for my favorite contemporary mystery read of the year.

Joy read: DEADLY BELOVED by Jane Haddam
A colorless wife surprises everyone by shooting her sleeping husband and moving out -- and disappearing. Only a trail of exploding bombs indicates that she is still around. Why would she set off a bomb at a reception for a famous photographer? Gregor Demarkian has to rescue Bennis, buried in the explosion, before he can pursue the culprit. Patsy MacLaren Willis has even more mysterious a past than her abruptly ended present. I have read this one before, and two of the characters stayed in my memory for many years. Patsy is one, the other is Evelyn, wife of the author of a popular diet book. Her husband, Henry, is the quintessential food police. I had every sympathy with Evelyn when she turned on him.

Joy read: BAPTISM IN BLOOD by Jane Haddam
Quite a gruesome story. A growing number of non-Christians are moving into a small, extremely fundamentalist Christian Southern town. Even one of their pastors is afraid the fundamentalists are going to start some kind of pogrom, though he won't let himself form the word in his head. Now in the middle of a hurricane an especially sweet baby is found murdered like a Satanic sacrifice. Other bodies appear, murdered and deposited on the property of a refuge for battered lesbians. What drove someone in the community over the edge?

Joy read: FOUNTAIN OF DEATH by Jane Haddam
Fountain of Youth Work-Out Studio is having a rash of murders. Does someone have a vendetta against the unrealistic image that women are expected to meet, or is something personal going on under the surface? There were some characters I really liked here, women who set out to improve their lives and found support at the Fountain of Youth. It contains a nice array of redemption stories, and it is interesting to see which ones work out and which don't. I was certain I knew who the murderer was, too, and vengefully anticipated the capture.

Joy read: DEAR OLD DEAD by Jane Haddam
I've read a lot of contemporary mysteries this year, and this may be my favorite. It is a poisoning, at a charity clinic whose founder is truly a star. Review.

Joy read: QUOTH THE RAVEN by Jane Haddam
Independence College makes a religion of Halloween. Father Tibor, a temporary lecturer there, asks Gregor and Bennis to join him because he misses their Cavanaugh Street neighborhood. Gregor can justify the trip by giving the students a talk about murder detection. And here's the perfect object lesson for the lecture: a secretary who has been dosed with lye, and her missing boss. QUOTH THE RAVEN has vivid, long-lasting imagery in addition to the gory poisoning.

Joy read: FESTIVAL OF DEATHS by Jane Haddam
Someone is murdering some nice, seemingly unoffending employees of The Lotte Goldman Show. Lotte switched from psychiatry to the sex talk show that has made her rich, and she likes to help immigrants. Now she and her intimidating producer DeAnna Kroll are juggling murder detection with a television road show. Haddam's characteristically interesting people make the book, especially an appealing couple divided by religion. The killer has a good camouflage.

Joy read: MURDER SUPERIOR by Jane Haddam
For some unknown reason, a nun's convention decides to serve potentially poisonous sushi, and a malicious radio host makes sure all of Philadelphia knows it is going to happen. Now if only Mother Mary Bellarmine had been the one to get a bite of it. The ending takes an unusual, satisfying turn.

Joy read: ACT OF DARKNESS by Jane Haddam
A cynical presidential candidate collapses while hosting a cocktail party. Politicians give Gregor Demarkian hives, but he goes where the murder is. Between a batch of greedy opportunists and a pair of obsessed mothers, someone is finding it hard to breathe. It was hard to put this one down.

Joy read: PRECIOUS BLOOD by Jane Haddam
The sequel to NOT A CREATURE WAS STIRRING. It arrived in the mail and I'm back to the Gregor Demarkian mysteries. :-) In this one, a poor, dying woman returns to her home town and stirs up memories of a horrifying incident in the the past of several successful people. I was convinced of the wrong killer, but aside from that, it works very well psychologically.

Joy read: DEATH'S SAVAGE PASSION by Oriana Papazoglou
The romance writing world feels under siege from the popular new genre, romantic suspense. Suddenly romantic suspense writers are being murdered, which seems an extreme reaction. Why did sweet, naive new author Sarah and aging has-been Verna die, followed by the near-poisoning of Patience herself? I found Sarah very engaging and her daughter Adrienne even more so. This is my favorite of the Patience McKenna mysteries.

Joy read: WICKED, LOVING MURDER by Oriana Papazoglou
Patience has been designated by several romance authors, to watchdog a series they have agreed to provide for a publishing company no one has reason to trust. Patience's job is to make sure
Writing magazine doesn't twist their words out of all recognition. To Patience, in the Writing offices, it does not look possible -- the Writing staff is determined to give authors the worst advice possible. The other reason Patience's hopes are not high is that people connected with Writing keep getting murdered. This time the police are on her side, anxious for her to stick it out and keep an eye on the people in the office -- even if what she sees doesn't seem to make any sense.
   This was a big change from the previous books I read in this series. Instant interest, instant catchiness. I went right on from this one to the last one I was able to find.

Joy read: SWEET, SAVAGE DEATH by Oriana Papazoglou
I hate detective stories where the detective is the main suspect. I think it's a cheap way to build suspense. Where's the credibility? Who's going to believe a detective who has so much to gain from finding a different solution? Where's the lie detector, for that matter? Some contemporary mysteries are good enough that they don't make me wonder about lie detectors, but this one did.
   Oh, I should tell you something about the plot. The setting is the community of romance writers in New York. That part is lively and colorful. Members of this community keep getting murdered, and every time it happens, Patience is there. Her best friend Phoebe, who is such a good romance writer that she drips with diamonds and is being released in hardcover, calls her very sexy attorney friend Nick to defend Patience, but Patience hasn't the slightest intention of following his advice. The solution depends on understanding the ins and outs of publishing finance.

Joy read: ONCE AND ALWAYS MURDER by Oriana Papazoglou
Patience McKenna does not want a big wedding, especially not among her nutty relatives. Even when the worst relative dies as soon as she gets there, she still wants to go back to the city instead of letting her mother put on a big County wedding. But more deaths form a nice distraction. While her mother worries over flowers, Patience is researching an heir who is not only missing but several generations missing. Someone knows enough about an empty strip of property to make them think murder is a good idea.
   Oriana Papazoglou is Jane Haddam's own name. She has a knack for individual characters, but her Patience McKenna stories are considerably shorter and have less room for development. My feeling about Patience is that she is rather too neurotic, even when her quirks are humorous. ONCE AND ALWAYS MURDER is long out of print. I found it at the library; it is my first of this series, though apparently it is the last one sequentially.

Joy read: A GREAT DAY FOR THE DEADLY by Jane Haddam
In the middle of a flood evacuation, the body of postulant nun Brigit Ann Reilly is found covered in water moccasins -- the snakes, not the shoes. Then a bank official is found dead at the convent. Gregor digs into some fascinating human intrigues, from the love affair between a TV star and the local librarian, to the bank president and her 40-years-younger, boytoy husband.

Joy read: A STILLNESS IN BETHLEHEM by Jane Haddam
A pair of shootings seem unrelated to each other, except for the positions of the bullets. Gregor knows who but not why, and keeps getting distracted by the upsets of his friends during a huge Christmas event for Vermont tourists. Review.

Joy read: FEAST OF MURDER by Jane Haddam
I'm skipping ahead by a few books, because 4 of the series are hard to get, and I have to wait for them to arrive from various on-line booksellers. Gregor and Bennis take a Thanksgiving sail on a more-or-less authentic replica of the
Mayflower. The crime is grounded in a combination of drugs and insider trading, hosted by a billionaire just out of prison. No one seems to want Gregor to find out whodunit.

Joy read: NOT A CREATURE WAS STIRRING by Jane Haddam
I decided to go back to the beginning of Gregor's series and pick up the background. TRUE BELIEVERS examines the fallout from this book in some detail, creating a strong thread focused on Bennis; NOT A CREATURE WAS STIRRING tells about the string of murders in Bennis's family mansion. This is how Gregor met Bennis, a rich woman from Philadelphia's high society.

Joy read: TRUE BELIEVERS by Jane Haddam
A pair of deaths lands Gregor in the unstable territory between three fervent and opposing churches. That isn't the end of the deaths, or the riots. Roy Phipps, leader of the charismatic church down the street, is unarrestable because he is so good at staying behind the scenes as he stirs up trouble. Add into the confrontation an unstable atheist couple down the block. It's a good thing Gregor Demarkian can see past the passions to the oddities. Again, Gregor and his Armenian neighborhood are the beating heart of the story. My cavil about this one is that I can't see any foundation at all for the designated murderer.

Joy read: SKELETON KEY by Jane Haddam
A very rich cousin of Bennis is found murdered. Kayla is young, beautiful and responsible, so of course she has enemies, and not only the people who want her family money. Bennis, in the middle of a personal crisis, turns her dear friend Gregor Demarkian loose on the local police investigation. SKELETON KEY has an emotional depth in the relationships of Haddam's recurring characters and friends. I'm on a roll now: More Haddam, please.

Joy read: AND ONE TO DIE ON by Jane Haddam
Tasheba Kent, former star of the silent screen, is almost 100 years old, so she is killing two birds with one stone. Birthday party and an auction for some of her movie memorabilia is an efficient use of her time. She and her partner Cavender Marsh have been hiding from the curious on a small Maine island for 50 years, ever since Cavender was accused of murdering his wife, Tasheba's sister. Now they have invited a small group of people to their island, which is immediately isolated by a storm.
   I admire Jane Haddam's individual personalities and the way she makes them interact. Her stories depend on character, not on amount of gore. AND ONE TO DIE ON sneaks in echoes of Agatha Christie's AND THEN THERE WERE NONE; it deserves the comparison, because Haddam learned her craft from the Golden Age mystery writers. They are puzzles of character and reasoning. It was clear fairly early who was responsible for the murders, but I had major surprises waiting for me.

Joy read: EMPIRE by Orson Scott Card
They've blown up the White House, killing the President, Vice President, and other high officials. Who is "they"? That answer seems to be answered two days later, when rebels with brand new weapons invade Manhattan Island and declare its independence from the United States. Civil war is here. Special Forces officers Malich and Coleman are in the right place at the right time to make a difference, it seems, but that turns out to be part of the scheme.
   The human interest of EMPIRE grabbed me on the first page, unlike in INVASIVE PROCEDURES (below). The characters follow the threads of reasoning in an intelligent way, but we as readers already know the ultimate mastermind. This gives us 2 finales, one of them not resolved as I expected. The major mistake that Card made in EMPIRE was to use the US's existing political parties, conservative and liberal, and make one of them the villain. He says that isn't what he is doing, but his repeated digs at one of the parties makes clear what his own stand is. The result is that half of the voters of the US are identified with the villains.

Joy read: PORTRAIT IN DEATH by J.D. Robb
Young people, beautiful, lovable, and nice, are being murdered -- gently. The murderer takes a portrait gallery of his victim and forwards the pictures to the media. In spite of the fact that I've seen the crazy motive used by several other authors, this is my favorite
In Death book so far. We meet some fascinating new people, get to know better some existing ones, especially Roarke. I found PORTRAIT IN DEATH emotionally involving, far more so than usual for this series.

Joy read: A CONTINENTAL MARRIAGE by Susanne Marie Knight
Nicolette has been summoned from America by her hated grandfather the Earl, and offered an advantageous marriage. Knight's romances usually have an unusual twist, an originality that makes them worth hunting for. This one is straight Regency.

Joy read: INVASIVE PROCEDURES by Orson Scott Card & Aaron Johnston
A mad genius creates a gene therapy that works, but has side effects that could kill whole populations. Dr. Frank Hartman of the Biohazard Agency, tracing the mad scientist, finds himself involved with a group of people who have been abducted for a horrible experiment. I thought this book was low on emotional engagement and high on intelligence and plot. Review.

Joy read: PURITY IN DEATH by J.D. Robb
This is an intriguing concept. The murder weapon is a computer program that kills the user. Most of the victims deserve it, but not all. The plot has some pretty twists, too. I did find Eve a bit over the top as far as her cop in-fighting went.

Joy read: REUNION IN DEATH by J.D. Robb
Eve put Julie away in prison, but now she's out and eager for payback. She has plenty of money from the husbands she murdered, so now she can indulge in murders for fun, hoping to reel Eve in. Fat chance!

Joy read: SEDUCTION IN DEATH by J.D. Robb
Oh, good, here's Louise, clearly set up to become a regular character. She helps track down a perp, as young women are dying from an overdose of date rape drugs. Clearly a sexual predator is making hay on-line among the romantic chat rooms.

Joy read: BETRAYAL IN DEATH by J.D. Robb
Why are we hearing this again: "The real target may be Rourke"? Can't the marketing department find something new to say? The story itself feels fairly fresh, with the personal stories of old characters and the introduction of some charming new ones. The build-up to the multi-million dollar auction is both tangled and glamorous. Please let us meet Magda Lane again.

Joy read: LOYALTY IN DEATH by J.D. Robb
"We are loyal," say the messages from the organization. Loyal to a man who 30 years ago blew up the Pentagon. Now the sons and daughters of the old group are escalating toward the total destruction of New York City, if the country's leadership does not step down and let them take over.

Joy read: CONSPIRACY IN DEATH by J.D. Robb
Someone is killing homeless people and stealing their internal organs. Shades of the old days, when replacement organs sold for high prices, except that these are unhealthy. No one would pay money for a cancerous liver, surely. I was delighted to meet Dr. Louise, an engaging medic who works among the poor.

Joy read: VENGEANCE IN DEATH by J.D. Robb
Another serial killer. This one phones Eve at Cop Central and challenges her to solve his first murder. Nothing can stop him except the cops, because his religion is murder.

Joy read: AND LESS THAN KIND by Mercedes Lackey & Roberta Gellis
The final, and most dangerous, years of Elizabeth Tudor's wait for the throne. Even with the support of her elven friends, Elizabeth must use extreme cleverness and self-control to stay in line for the throne. Meanwhile, England is so miserable that the magic of the Bright Court is dying. Elizabeth is their only hope. Last book in the charming, beautiful
Doubled Edge series. Review.

Joy read: THE MISSING by Chris Mooney
After a scary start in her teen years, Darby makes a career of crime-solving. 23 years after she first saw him in the act, he's doing it again -- abducting and imprisoning women in horrrendous conditions until he is ready to kill them. An interesting police procedural with plenty of thrills. Review.

Joy read: THE CINDERELLA HOUR by Katherine Stone
Snow Gable returns to the town where she grew up as the daughter of the local prostitute and friend of Luke, suspected of murdering his father. Now she is welcomed back, because she has a popular radio talk show. Snow and Luke have both made good -- everywhere except in their own country. Snow's return triggers a violent enemy.
   Katherine Stone is an author for me to escape to, because I like her characters so much.

Joy read: CEREMONY IN DEATH by J.D. Robb
A pair of Satanists appears to be killing by mind control, but Eve is having none of it. This plot works much better than HAUNTED IN DEATH, Robb's woowoo novella, because the genuine portion of the witchery is gentle and likable. Eve's reaction, of course, is to stubbornly reject everything, including the genuine part. Her prejudices from her past make her determinedly wrong-headed about one of the suspects.

Joy read: BRING DOWN THE SUN by Judith Tarr
Forget the Olympias of legend, the dangerous, possibly mad mother of Alexander the Great. In this historical fantasy, Judith Tarr replaces her with Polyxena-Myrtale, descendant of Achilles, who was predicted at her birth to destroy the religion of the Mother. Myrtale must stop a group of witches, who intend to dominate her unborn son and the world he is destined to control. BRING DOWN THE SUN isn't particularly strong on plot, but it is strong in power and literary magic.

Carla read: ZENOBIA: THE REBEL QUEEN by Judith Weingarten
Densely detailed description of the life in third-century Palmyra (in modern Syria) and the events that were ultimately to lead to Zenobia's rebellion against Rome.  Narrated mainly in first person by Simon, a clever and wealthy Palmyrene citizen, Zenobia does not appear until halfway through. Review.

Joy read: RAPTURE IN DEATH by J.D. Robb
A string of seemingly unmotivated suicides is coming far too close to Eve and her loved ones. I found the virtual reality element of this crime to be fascinating.

Joy read: IMMORTAL IN DEATH by J.D. Robb
Eve's close friend is accused of a bloody murder, a mystery that morphs into the investigation of a deadly new illegal drug. At the same time, Eve is regaining her lost memory of her childhood.

Joy read: THE FALL OF NESKAYA by Marion Zimmer Bradley & Deborah J. Ross
Young Coryn is sent to Tramontana Tower as a ticking bomb. A renegade
laranzu has implanted a command that will bind Coryn's laran to the aid of King Damian, who wants to rule all of Darkover. In the meantime, Damian has targeted the kingdom of Hastur, and young Queen Taniquel's kingdom of Acosta is a step in that direction.
   Ross has much the same writing style as Bradley, but in THE FALL OF NESKAYA, there are too many vicissitudes and, too much of the time, the relationships that are the best of a Darkover novel are torn apart. 1st in the
Clingfire Trilogy -- I'm not going right on to the next onee. Not enough momentum at the end.

Joy read: THE ALTON GIFT by Marion Zimmer Bradley & Deborah J. Ross
Dominic must grow up fast when his father Mikhail is disabled at a time of crisis. Public discontent has more than one possible cause, culminating in an epidemic of trailmen's fever. Meanwhile, as the heir to Hastur, Dominic is under pressure to marry, but who? I enjoyed this a great deal, except that the suspense was so strong I had to look ahead.

Joy read: TRAITOR'S SUN by Marion Zimmer Bradley
I didn't want to jump right over this one to the 4th book without rereading it. I understand the family relationships and the personal intrigues better this time because I got the foundations in the previous books. Like most Darkover books, this is a good reread.

Joy read: THE SHADOW MATRIX by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Marguerida and Mikhail are forbidden to marry, by his parents and their ruler Regis Hastur. Marguerida is still struggling with the aftereffects of her frightening childhood. And Gisela, the daughter of the Alderan lord, is pursuing Mikhail with predatory determination. When Varzil the Good summons Marguerida and Mikhail into the distant past, the cat is among the pigeons.

Joy read: EXILE'S SONG by Marion Zimmer Bradley
1st in the series about Mikhail and Marguerida. After reading TRAITOR'S SUN, I wanted to go back and refresh myself on the earlier part of this particular Darkover series. Marguerida, daughter of Lew Alton, returns to Darkover as assistant to a professor who studies the music of obscure planets. She knows nothing about her heritage, so she has many shocks in store.

Carla read: COCHRANE: BRITANNIA'S SEA WOLF by Donald Thomas
Think of every fictional action hero you have ever admired – Zorro, Hornblower, Aubrey, Sharpe – roll them all into one and move up a gear, and you get some idea of Cochrane’s extraordinary career.  A remarkable man who lived a remarkable life, far outshining his fictional counterparts. Review.

Joy read: TRAITOR'S SUN by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Dominic has been a good boy all his life. Trained to be a responsible ruler, he has never before gone out of the castle on his own. In general, the nobles of modern Darkover just don't do that, so they have had no opportunity to learn about a Federation plot to turn the population against their rulers. Can Mikhail and Marguerida hold off a last-minute Federation attack until the Federation removes all the Terrans from the planet?

Joy read: ORCHID by Jayne Castle
Rafe, friend of Lucas and Nick, prefers the darkness to hunt down secrets. He needs Orchid, author of books about psychic vampires, to help him -- until he can entice her to complete him. This was an exciting book, with several interlocking plots just dangerous enough to glue my interest. Alas, I don't know of any more
Curtain books.

Joy read: ZINNIA by Jayne Castle
Casino owner Nick Chastain and psychic prism Zinnia are each rare examples of their own talent. No one has seen a better matrix-talent team. Can it make up for their personal disgraces? And what happened to Nick's father's Third Chastain Expedition? 2nd of the trilogy. It took me longer to get into this one, but I read fast for the last half.

Joy read: AMARYLLIS by Jayne Castle
Lucas hires Amaryllis to handle a focusing job for him. He has the talent of detecting when other talents are being used, and she has the talent of making other people's talents usable. Amaryllis quickly sorts out his problem of company sabotage, but it leads to murder and corrupt politics. Sexy and fun.
   Is this the earliest of her
Curtain books? I don't know, but I can't leave any of them unread. AMARYLLIS is the first of a trilogy set on the colony planet St Helens. Anyone who reads Jayne Castle's romantic sci fi won't want to miss this.

Joy read: UNDER ORDERS by Dick Francis
This experimental writing partnership between Dick Francis and his son Felix is better than I had expected from word of mouth. Sid Halley returns again, in better tune with his life and ready to tackle another round of threatening bad guys. Is it a gambling scam or more? Sid has a "hostage to fortune" in his fiancée Marina, even though she refuses to become his weakness.
   Word is that Francis & Son have a new one, SILKS, coming out next month. I'll read it.

Carla read: EAGLE IN THE SAND by Simon Scarrow
This seventh instalment in the popular Roman military adventure series takes hard-bitten veteran centurion Macro and his younger colleague Cato to the deserts of the Middle East, where they encounter political intrigue, corrupt officials on the make and a mysterious religious sect (no prizes for guessing which one), amidst the trademark battlefield action. Review.

Carla read: GLADIATRIX by Russell Whitfield
In Roman Asia Minor, the Spartan priestess Lysandra finds herself enslaved and forced to fight for life in the arena as a gladiatrix (female gladiator).  Born to the rigours of the Spartan agoge, she is already expert with weapons – but  the love she finds in her new life will bring her to face her greatest challenge. Review.

Carla read: THE SECRET MIDDLE AGES by Malcolm Jones
Ever wondered how long "Pigs might fly!" has been in the English language as an expression of incredulity?  At least seven centuries, according to this
eclectic, erudite and entertaining survey of the everyday arts and crafts of the Middle Ages in Europe.  A gem. Review.

Joy read: SHATTERED by Dick Francis
Our hero Gerard Logan is a glass artist. Almost as soon as he is given a mysterious video tape from his dead friend, his glass shop is burglarized. It started less engagingly than I'm used to in a Dick Francis, but matters perked up when we met the undercover lady cop. I would have loved the glass, but it was too vulnerable to the violence of Gerard's enemies for me to feel good about it until later in the book. The intrigue is an interesting mix of brutality and finesse. I ended up liking the book.

Joy read: SECOND WIND by Dick Francis
This time it's a weatherman -- a celebrity, no less. He wants to fly with his buddy Kris through a hurricane and experience the eye. Best-laid plans... these aren't. Perry tangles with a ring of businessmen who aren't in any way what they seem.
   I expect a Dick Francis life-and-death situation to be decently tucked deeper into the chapters, but SECOND WIND starts with one. Now I remember why this was the place I stopped in the series. Perry is an interesting person, though, as is his grandmother and his friend Kris, and the situation convoluted enough to give us some good surprises.

Joy read: GLORY IN DEATH by J.D. Robb
Prominent women are being murdered around the city. Eve's attention focuses on the family of the first victim, until her reporter friend Nadine looks like she is the next target. Eve's other problem is Roarke, the fascinating billionaire she refuses to be in love with. The emotions of GLORY IN DEATH are passionate and twisted, but ultimately satisfying.

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