Monday, August 29, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (August 29, 2016)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

Other Than Reading...

Summer vacation is over! We have teacher workshops/workdays Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and begin with students on September 6. I usually end up working the whole week to get things ready for school to begin. This year will be a little different as I need to return to Duluth for my house closing on Sept. 2. That will be 30 days from the time I first toured the house until the day I close on it. I'm told that we worked with blazing speed but it felt really slow to me.

It will be hard to leave again to go to work when I know there is so much to do to get ready to move. I'll be leaving a lot of it in my brother's hands since he is here in Duluth. I plan to have the movers come during my MEA break and have at least the big stuff moved so that we are sleeping in the new house after that. I'm sure that we will be making countless trips from the old house to the new house as we cherrypick what we want to keep (and have room for). Luckily, it is only a little over two miles from one house to the other.

Once we have taken out what we want, we'll be calling in specialist estate sellers to sell all the rest. Then, we'll be doing some updates like cleaning and painting and putting that house on the market. Hopefully, it will go on the market by spring. Apparently it is the size and price point that sells quickly in Duluth. At least, houses that size are selling quickly now.

For me, I'll be repeating the process with my house in Eyota in the spring as I get ready to really retire in June. In my favor, I don't have 65 years worth of stuff in my house in Eyota. I've only lived there since 2001 and, while I don't do rummage sales, I'm pretty good getting rid of things I don't need. The real problem will be all the duplicates as we combine two households into one. I think we duplicate everything in our kitchens!

Read Last Week
All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris revisits Aurora Teagarden. I enjoyed the story but it felt a little old-fashioned to me. My review will be posted on October 1.

In Safe Hands by Katie Ruggle brings her Rocky Mountain Search and Rescue series to an end. Besides the romance, we finally get resolution on the mystery that began in the first book. This was a fun series. My review will be posted on Sept. 29.

Otherworld Chills by Kelley Armstrong is the final anthology of the Otherworld series. I liked this one because most of the stories were longer - almost short novel length. I also liked that we get to reconnect with a lot of different characters from the Otherworld series. My review will be posted on October 6.

Currently
I pulled Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead from my TBR mountain. I have enjoyed all of her books but this one got lost on the mountain. I've had it since June 8, 2013.

Next Week
From my review stack:
On my Kindle from TBR mountain:
Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
To see what Young Adult books I have been reading and plan to read, check out Ms. Martin Teaches Media - my other blog.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

ARC Review: Shadow Falling by Rebecca Zanetti

Shadow Falling
Author: Rebecca Zanetti
Series: The Scorpius Syndrome (Book 2)
Publication: Zebra (August 30, 2016)

Description: Before the Scorpius Syndrome tore through North America and nearly wiped out the population, Vivienne Wellington was the FBI’s best profiler. The bacteria got her anyway. But she survived. She recovered. And when she woke up from a drug-nightmare of captivity, her trust in her fellow man had gone from shaky at best to nonexistent. Her mysterious rescuer wants to convince her he’s the exception. But no matter how tempting he is, with his angel’s eyes and devil’s tongue, Vinnie knows she shouldn’t trust him.

If the FBI were still around they would rate Raze Shadow as one of the bad guys. His military training can’t wipe out his association with the Mercenaries, the most feared gang in a thousand miles. His loyalties are compromised. He won’t even tell Vinnie his real name. But there’s no FBI in the new America of fear and firepower, only instinct and risk. And the way his arms wrap around her tells its own story. Whatever else Raze is concealing, he can’t hide his desire . . .

My Thoughts: First, this is the second book in a series and, apparently, we got a lot of backstory there that wasn't repeated in this one. The world has fallen apart. A new virus called scorpius has killed most and those who survived are in danger of going insane in a world that has lost all its infrastructure.

The main characters in this one are Vinny Wellington and Raze Shadow. Vinny was a noted FBI profiler before the world fell apart. She was recently rescued from the sociopath who is now the President of the United States. Raze is the one who rescued her but he has an ulterior motive. He needs to trade her to a Mercenary group who is holding his only sister hostage.

They have taken refuge in a place in Los Angeles that is called the Vanguard. It is where some survivors who are not insane have gathered to try to survive. The Vanguard is suffering from internal problems with a self-appointed preacher who wants to keep the Pure - those who haven't caught the virus - separate from those who have had the virus and is willing to take hostages to keep his people safe.

Between the Mercs who want Vinnie because they think she knows the location of a secret bunker that has the scientific labs, medicines, and other supplies to help find a way to let those infected stay sane and the President who wants Vinnie back because he wants to torture her and also believes she can use psychic gifts to find the bunker, Vinnie is in danger from all sides.

Raze tries not to get close to her but this is a romance. You know that that is a battle he is doomed to lose. I liked the way the romance grew through the book. Raze was the definition of an alpha warrior but Vinnie is no shrinking violet. Her strengths matched up nicely with his.

While the romance plot came to a successful resolution, there are still lots of questions remaining about the part of the plot that had to do with finding the bunker. I would guess that there is at least one more book coming. I'll be watching for it.

Favorite Quote:
Some of the words he could make out, but many were just burbles. Most people, when they lost it to pain or fear, just cried. Not Vinnie Wellington. No, she let loose with tons of words, crying and talking intermittently.

The woman couldn't even cry like a normal person.

Why the hell that warmed his chest and tickled his mouth into a small smile, he'd never understand.
I got this one for review from Amazon Vine. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday Memes: Shadow Falling by Rebecca Zanetti

Happy Friday everybody!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City ReaderThe Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Beginning:
The nightmare clawed through Vinnie, ripping and gnashing, until she awoke, her mouth open in a silent scream.
Friday 56: 
"I need a lab. A good working lab." She sat back in the chair. "The newest batch of research materials has references to the Bunker. I'm starting to think the place might actually exist."
This week I'm reading Shadow Falling by Rebecca Zanetti which I received from Amazon Vine. Here is the description from Amazon:
Before the Scorpius Syndrome tore through North America and nearly wiped out the population, Vivienne Wellington was the FBI’s best profiler. The bacteria got her anyway. But she survived. She recovered. And when she woke up from a drug-nightmare of captivity, her trust in her fellow man had gone from shaky at best to nonexistent. Her mysterious rescuer wants to convince her he’s the exception. But no matter how tempting he is, with his angel’s eyes and devil’s tongue, Vinnie knows she shouldn’t trust him.

If the FBI were still around they would rate Raze Shadow as one of the bad guys. His military training can’t wipe out his association with the Mercenaries, the most feared gang in a thousand miles. His loyalties are compromised. He won’t even tell Vinnie his real name. But there’s no FBI in the new America of fear and firepower, only instinct and risk. And the way his arms wrap around her tells its own story. Whatever else Raze is concealing, he can’t hide his desire . . .

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Book Review: Magic & Manners by C. E. Murphy

Magic & Manners
Author: C. E. Murphy
Series: An Austen Chronicle Book 1
Publication: Miz Kit Productions (March 8, 2016)

Description: It is a truth universally accepted that well-bred members of Society are not beleaguered with magic.

For Elsabeth Dover and her sisters, that truth means living in a perpetual state of caution, never using their sorcerous gifts in public. Elsabeth chafes under the stricture, but not enough to risk the possibility of good marriages for her sisters...until she meets handsome, arrogant Fitzgerald Archer.

Elsabeth, attracted to Archer's wit and offended by his manner, strives to keep her youngest, impetuous sister's use of magic in check so that their eldest sister, Rosamund, might find happiness with Archer's wealthy friend Mr Webber. But when Elsa fails to keep young Leopoldina in line, Archer's disapproval of the family taint means an abrupt end to Rosamund's hopes, and leads to a terrible discovery about the price of magic....

My Thoughts: This was an engaging historical with magic based on Pride & Prejudice. The five Dover sisters are burdened with magic. The also have a silly mother who has big ambitions for her daughters. They have a loving father who also has magic. The story is mostly told from the viewpoint of the second sister who is Elsabeth.

Her mother's hopes are raised when a new family - the Webbers - move to the estate next door. Mr. Webber is accompanied by his sisters, his brother-in-law, and his good friend Mr. Archer. Mrs. Dover sees two potential suitors for her daughters. The oldest sister Rosamund falls for Mr. Webber and Elsabeth is in turn put off by Mr. Archer's haughty stance. However, magic is not at all acceptable in the upper classes and the taint of it may make the girls unmarriageable. Hiding it becomes increasingly difficult when the youngest daughter, who is very vain and self-absorbed, uses magic to attract the attention of a handsome soldier named Captain Hartnell who is a cad of the highest order.

First, a misunderstanding separates Rosamund and Mr. Webber. Then a misplaced proposal separates Mr. Archer from Elsabeth. Then a scandal created by the youngest daughter Dina threatens the security of the whole family. Along the way Elsabeth learns more about magic in general and becomes incensed that society keeps her from using it. I loved the way Elsabeth grew through the story.

This was a great story with fascinating characters, sly humor, and romance.

Favorite Quote:
True love, Elsabeth felt, would not feel the need to dwell on those topics as Archer had. "I should offer an apology for disappointing you, Mr. Archer, and I would, save that I feel that an offer of marriage should not come hand in hand with a litany of insults; it is no delight to be proposed to by a man with a list of reasons why he must act against his better judgment to make the proposal. Moreover, even if you had foregone such charming footnotes, even if you had been a gentleman worthy of the title since the hour I met you, how could you ever imagine I should agree to marry the man who has been the architect of a beloved sister's unhappiness?"
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Book Review: The Orchid Affair by Lauren Willig

The Orchid Affair
Author: Lauren Willig
Series: Pink Carnation (Book 8)
Publication: NAL; Reprint edition (January 20, 2011)

Description: Veteran governess Laura Grey joins the Selwick Spy School expecting to find elaborate disguises and thrilling adventures in service to the spy known as the Pink Carnation. She hardly expects her first assignment to be serving as governess for the children of André Jaouen, right-hand man to Bonaparte's minister of police.

At first the job is as lively as Latin, but Laura begins to notice Jaouen's increasingly strange behavior. As Laura edges closer to her employer, she is surprised to learn that she has much in common with him. And Jaouen finds he's hired more than he's bargained for...

My Thoughts: After sixteen years as a governess, Laura Grey changes career paths, attends the Selwick Spy School, is rechristened as the Silver Orchid, and sent off to France to become the governess of Andre Jaouen who is one of Fouche's protegees. Things go pretty well until she discovers a plot to kidnap or assassinate Bonaparte and put a Bourbon back on the throne.

Part of Jaouen's role is to keep track of the artistic crowd in Paris. After all, his first wife was a noted painter before her death. He invites Laura to attend which causes her to meet people who were part of her childhood. Her parents were a famous sculptor and a famous poet who dragged her all over Europe until their deaths when she was sixteen. When one of their friends, painter Daubier, is arrested by Jaouen's rival Delaroche, the plot threatens to unravel and make it necessary for Jaouen to rescue him, grab his family, grab the Bourbon Prince, and leave Paris.

Laura calls on her fellow English spies to find a way to get all of them to safety. They find themselves traveling with a theatrical troop as they make their way to the coast and safety. I liked the way Jaouen and Laura grow closer as they travel together. Being forced to pretend to be husband and wife adds to their tension but also forces them to learn about each other.

In the present timeline, Eloise and Colin travel to France to celebrate his mother's birthday. Eloise is apprehensive but grossly underestimates just how horrible the situation really is. Luckily, it makes her relationship with Colin even stronger.

I can't wait to find out what happens next in the present and in the 1800s.

Favorite Quote:
Ha. If my relationship with my dissertation was a love affair, we're talking one of those gloomy, nineteenth-century ones where everyone dies of consumption at the end and there's supposed to be a moral, but you can't quite figure out what it is, other than to make sure to insulate your garret and stay away from large bottles of laudanum. In short, it didn't love me back. The topics was dashing, it was glamorous, it was [insert your own adjective here], but like so many objects of affection, it had proved illusive.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Teaser Tuesday: Magic & Manners by C. E. Murphy

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books and a Beat. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser:
That Mr. Webber would attend dinner was inevitable; that Mr Archer should find himself in accompaniment was not, and yet that worthy stood stiff and uncomfortable at Mr Webber's side when Webber knocked briskly on the Oakden door. 
This week my teaser comes from Magic & Manners by C. E. Murphy. I have enjoyed all the books I have read that combine magic with Regency settings. I hope to enjoy this one too. Here is the book description from Amazon:
It is a truth universally accepted that well-bred members of Society are not beleaguered with magic.

For Elsabeth Dover and her sisters, that truth means living in a perpetual state of caution, never using their sorcerous gifts in public. Elsabeth chafes under the stricture, but not enough to risk the possibility of good marriages for her sisters...until she meets handsome, arrogant Fitzgerald Archer.

Elsabeth, attracted to Archer's wit and offended by his manner, strives to keep her youngest, impetuous sister's use of magic in check so that their eldest sister, Rosamund, might find happiness with Archer's wealthy friend Mr Webber. But when Elsa fails to keep young Leopoldina in line, Archer's disapproval of the family taint means an abrupt end to Rosamund's hopes, and leads to a terrible discovery about the price of magic....

Monday, August 22, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (August 22, 2016)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

Other Than Reading... 

This has been another week of jumping through hoops to get a mortgage. Lots of phone calls and emails have been flying between my banker, my employer, my insurance agent, and me.

My friend went home last Monday after a nice visit. I spent the rest of the week watching the Olympics and playing lots of computer games.

Since I couldn't concentrate on reading, I also spent some time working on my blogs. I have set up posts for October on both of them. I have all the Teaser Tuesday and Book Beginning/Friday 56 posts finished and scheduled. I have lots of books to read but, at least, I know what book comes next on my reading plan. I expect this will save a lot of time this fall when school begins and I also need to be moving.

I just have one week of vacation left before I return home for a few days of workshops and then the start of school. I'm eager to meet all of our new staff. We have 13 new professional staff and still a number of paraprofessional positions to fill.

Read Last Week
I read Body on the Bayou by Ellen Byron which was a fun and funny cozy. It is the second book in a series and was an engaging story. My review will be posted on Sept. 22.

Stalking Ground by Margaet Mizushima is also the second book in a mystery series. I loved the Colorado setting and the relationship between Mattie and her police dog Robo. My review will be posted on September 17.

Enemy Games by Marcella Burnard has been on my TBR mountain since 2013. This was a science fiction romance and was a good story. I thought the depictions of the aliens were very nicely done. My review will be posted on September 24.

Currently
I am currently reading In Safe Hands by Katie Ruggle. This finishes a series and I can't wait until the mystery that began in book one is finally resolved.

Next Week
I have two books from my review stack for this week. Both are by authors I really enjoy.
Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
More for my review stack:
To see what Young Adult books I have been reading and plan to read, check out Ms. Martin Teaches Media - my other blog.