Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Dark History: The Kings & Queens of Europe by Brenda Ralph Lewis, 256 pages

Beneath the splendor and sophistication of the monarchies of continental Europe are tales of scandal, mystery, and skullduggery. A Dark History: The Kings & Queens of Europe peels away the glitz to take a wry look at what really happened in the corridors, bedrooms, and dungeons of European power, from the Middle Ages to the present day.
Spanning the whole of mainland continental Europe, this history includes the burning of the Knights of Templar, Vlad the Impaler's stakes, Elizabeth Bathory's bloodbaths, Louis XV's womanizing, the mystery of the Man in the Iron Mask, King Ludwig I's doomed love affair, the suicide pact of Austro-Hungary's Crown Prince Rudolf, and the troubled life and tragic death of Princess Grace of Monaco.
Tales of murder, insanity, obsessive love, and horrific torture illuminate the troubles of royal dynasties, inter-breeding and empire, with examples drawn from Spain, Belgium, Romania, Sweden, the Netherlands, Austro-Hungary, Germany and France. Illustrated throughout with contemporary paintings and engravings alongside modern photography, A Dark History: The Kings & Queens of Europe offers a fascinating portrait of the dark side of European monarchy.
My youngest daughter bought me this as a just-because present and it was a fantastic read.

Walking On My Grave by Carolyn Hart, 365 pages

Annie Darling's friend and fellow shop owner Ves Roundtree is a very wealthy woman. Her rich brother entrusted her with his estate, and upon her death, his fortune is to be divided. Several cash-strapped islanders are in line to collect life-changing inheritances. Ves hosts a dinner for the prospective beneficiaries. Not long after, she suffers a bad fall that was no accident. Everyone at the table had a motive but not a shred of evidence was left behind. When one of the suspects is found floating in the harbor and Ves disappears, Annie and her husband Max spring into action to catch a killer before greed takes another life.

The Sword of Pleasure by Peter Green, 285 pages

This novel is a reconstruction of the life of Lucius Cornelius Sulla, who ruled the dying Roman Republic forty years before the death of Julius Caesar, as he himself might have written it.
Sulla was born in an uneasy generation which had lost faith in the stern yet obsolete code of the old Republic, and his dilemma was one with which we are all too familiar today. Out of Peter Green's reconstruction of the historical scene Sulla emerges not as a figure in a history book but as an intensely human personality - full-blooded, hardened by disappointment, a tyrant despite himself. Through him and his friends and enemies - not to mention his four remarkable wives - the author brings the Roman Republic to life for us in all its splendor and cruelty.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Spooner Love is Strange by Ted Dawson, 150 pages

Jason picked this book up at a flea market/antique mall. I'd never read any of the strips before but it was cute and funny.

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier, 243 pages

This was the selection for this month's book for Reader's Without Borders. I'm not a fan of du Maurier at all, and this just confirmed my opinion. The women in her books just piss me off when it comes down to it. But again, this is another book that I would have never read if it weren't for book club.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

DumbHeart by Darby Conley, 128 pages

Get Fuzzy is always snarky, sarcastic and hilarious.

Lumberjanes: Sink or Swim by Watters, Leyh, Pietsch and Laiho, 112 pages

A crazy storm is coming and the Lumberjanes have to help their counselor Seafarin’ Karen get her boat back from some renegade selkies.

Knot On Your Life!

Camp is about more than just crafts and acquiring badges when you’re a Lumberjane. When April, Jo, Mal, Molly, and Ripley all decide to learn more about the mysterious Seafarin’ Karen, things take a turn for the strange. Shapeshifters, strange portals, and friendship to the max make for one summer camp that never gets boring!

This New York Times bestseller and multiple Eisner Award-winning series is a story of friendship, hardcore lady-types and kicking a lot of butt. Don’t miss out on these brand-new adventures written by Shannon Watters and Kat Leyh (Super Cakes) and illustrated by Carey Pietsch (Adventure Time: Marceline Gone Adrift).

The Baker's Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan, 309 pages

From the multiple-award-winning, critically acclaimed author of The Hummingbird and The Curiosity comes a dazzling novel of World War II—a shimmering tale of courage, determination, optimism, and the resilience of the human spirit, set in a small Normandy village on the eve of D-Day.
On June 5, 1944, as dawn rises over a small town on the Normandy coast of France, Emmanuelle is making the bread that has sustained her fellow villagers in the dark days since the Germans invaded her country.
Only twenty-two, Emma learned to bake at the side of a master, Ezra Kuchen, the village baker since before she was born. Apprenticed to Ezra at thirteen, Emma watched with shame and anger as her kind mentor was forced to wear the six-pointed yellow star on his clothing. She was likewise powerless to help when they pulled Ezra from his shop at gunpoint, the first of many villagers stolen away and never seen again.
In the years that her sleepy coastal village has suffered under the enemy, Emma has silently, stealthily fought back. Each day, she receives an extra ration of flour to bake a dozen baguettes for the occupying troops. And each day, she mixes that precious flour with ground straw to create enough dough for two extra loaves—contraband bread she shares with the hungry villagers. Under the cold, watchful eyes of armed soldiers, she builds a clandestine network of barter and trade that she and the villagers use to thwart their occupiers.
But her gift to the village is more than these few crusty loaves. Emma gives the people a taste of hope—the faith that one day the Allies will arrive to save them.

Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran, 354 pages

When Britain sets its sights on India in the mid-nineteenth century, it expects a quick and easy conquest. After all, India is fractured and divided into kingdoms, each independent and wary of the rest, seemingly no match for the night of the Empire. But when English soldiers arrive in the kingdom of Jhansi, they've met with a surprising challenge.
Instead of quietly surrending, Jhansi's ruler, Queen Lakshmi, raises two armies-one male and one female-and rides into battle, determined to protect her country and her people. Although at first her soldiers may not appear formidable against superior British weaponry and training, Lakshmi refuses to back down from an empire that is trying to take away the land she loves.
Told from the unique perspective of Sita-Queen Lakshmi's closest confidante and most-trusted soldier in her all-female army- shines a light on a time and place rarely explored in historical fiction.
Rebel Queen

RT, Margaret and the Rats of NIMH by J.L. Conly, 260 pages

I have to say this was my least favorite of the three NIMH books. It didn't really seem to advance the storyline much, was more just filler. But I'm still glad that I discovered the two sequels written by the original author's daughter.

Archie's Pals 'n' Gals Double Digest No. 82, 194 pages

Archie's Pals 'n' Gals Double Digest No. 71, 194 pages

Archie's Pals 'n' Gals Double Digest No. 84, 194 pages

ARchie's Pals 'n' Gals Double Digest No. 80, 194 pages

Archie's Pals 'n' Gals Double Digest 79, 194 pages

Archie's Double Digest No. 147, 194 pages

I'll always enjoy a good Archie.

Archie's Double Digest, No. 146, 194 pages

I'm always glad when I come across these in resale shops.

Archie's Pals 'n' Gals Double Digest No. 68, 194 pages

A fun read before bed.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Aunt Dimity & the Widow's Curse by Nancy Atherton, 227 pages

It's early April in the small English village of Finch, and everyone at the village committee meeting is surprised when the elderly, soft-spoken widow Mrs. Annabelle Craven stands to make an announcement: she's decided to hold a quilting bee in the old schoolhouse. At the quilting bee, Lori ends up seated besides Mrs. Craven, delighted at the opportunity to learn more about her neighbor's life in the nearby village of Old Cowerton. But during their conversation, dear, sweet Mrs. Craven reveals matter-of-factly that her first husban was a horrid man who deserved to she killed him.

Lori is taken aback: Should she report the crime to the authorities-and see Mrs. Craven hauled off to jail? Could there really be a murderer in their midst, or is Mrs. Craven suffering from some strange delusion? With Aunt Dimity's advice, Lori sets out with Bree Pym to Old Cowerton to uncover the truth. It's there they learn about what the villagers refer to as the "widow's curse"-and the deeper Lori digs, the more horrifying the tale becomes, until she discovers the most astounding revelation of all.
I always like these mysteries, they're light and fun reads. The only drawback is how jealous I am of Lori's life.

Alexander and Alestria by Shan Sa, 245 pages

A brilliant yet ruthless savage conqueror and poet exhilarated by the world's wonders, Alexander first meets Alestria on the battlefield-shocked to discover his adversary is female and mesmerized by her fierce, dazzling loveliness. At last, the legendary king has found his equal in this indomitable Amazon queen who has been taught since childhood to abhor men and repel all invaders. Alestria, in turn, cannot resist Alexander's strength and beauty, and they unite in deeply passionate, intensely problematic love-pursuing a remarkable destiny against a vast backdrop of warfare and political turmoil that stretches from Greece to Egypt, and across Persia, deep into the mysterious kingdom of India.
Acclaimed author Shan Sa brings Alexander the Great to richly imagined new life, entwining his historical legacy with an fantastic love affair set in a time of war between Western and Eastern civilizations.
I was excited about this book when I saw it reviewed elsewhere, so I did a suggestion for purchase through the library. Sadly, this was not a great read, in fact, I only finished it because I had suggested the library purchase it. It was disjointed, not even close to accurate and just wasn't enjoyable.

The Day the Music Died by Edward Gorman, 210 pages

The first in a charming new series featuring Sam McCain, Judge Eleanor Whitney, and America in the 1950s. This will be a memorable weekend for McCain: Buddy Holly has just died in a plane crash; he's got investigative work to do for the judge; and he must help help his sister decide whether or not to have an abortion.
Someone in the prosecutor's office asked me if I knew about a book series she wanted to re-read from her youth. I was able to figure out the series for her and decided to give the first one a go myself. The author really wanted you to know what the time period was from all the references he included. I felt like they dominated the book rather than the plot.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Wonder Woman Volume Two: Year One (Rebirth), 168 pages

A part of DC Rebirth!

New York Times best-selling writer Greg Rucka continues his return to WONDER WOMAN! The team of Rucka and artist Nicola Scott weave the definitive and shocking tale of Diana's first year as Earth's protector. Paradise has been breached, Ares stirs, and the Amazons must answer with a champion of their who is willing to sacrifice her home amongst her sisters to save a world she has never seen. Wonder Woman's journey begins in this epic origin story!

Collects WONDER WOMAN #2, #4, #6, #8, #10, #12, #14.

Wonder Woman, Volume 1: The Lies (Rebirth), 176 pages

Heroic. Iconic. Unstoppable. Armed with her Lasso of Truth and imbued with the power of the gods themselves, Princess Diana of Themyscira—known to the world as Wonder Woman—is one of the greatest superheroes in history.

But who is she…really? Not even Wonder Woman herself knows for sure. Diana’s links to both the Amazons and the Gods of Olympus have been severed. Her memories are a tangle of contradictions that even her lie-detecting lasso cannot untangle.

To solve the riddle of her origin, she must embark on her greatest quest of all: finding a way back to her vanished home. To get there, she must team up with her greatest enemy, the feral beast-woman, Cheetah. Will this unlikely alliance shine the light of truth on Diana’s darkest secrets, or bury them—and her—forever?

Find out in WONDER WOMAN VOL. 1: THE LIES—exploding from the blockbuster DC Rebirth event! Legendary Wonder Woman writer Greg Rucka (BATWOMAN: ELEGY) makes his triumphant return to the character for the first time in years and joins renowned fantasy artist Liam Sharp (2000 AD) for one of the most momentous stories in Diana’s history! Collects WONDER WOMAN #1, #3, #5, #7, #9, #11 and the WONDER WOMAN: REBIRTH one-shot.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean, 391 pages

Why did Gandhi hate iodine (I, 53)? How did radium (Ra, 88) nearly ruin Marie Curie's reputation? And why is gallium (Ga, 31) the go-to element for laboratory pranksters? The periodic table is a crowning scientific achievement but it's also a treasure trove of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. These fascinating tales follow all the elements on the table as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, conflict, the arts, medicine, and the lives of the (frequentlyO mad scientists who discovered them. The Disappearing Spoon masterfully fuses science with the classic lore of invention, investigation, discovery, and alchemy, from the big bang through the end of time.
I love nonfiction books that explore different subjects such as salt, the history of cod, and such, so this was a must buy for me when I saw it on the clearance table. Unfortunately it was way too heavy on the science and too light on the interesting history. I honestly only finished it because I had paid for it. If it was a library book, I would have stopped partway through. Science buffs would probably enjoy it though.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Romance Reader's Guide to Life by Sharon Pywell, 308 pages

As a young girl, Neave was often stuck in a world that didn't know what to do with her. As her mother not unkindly told her, she was never going to grow up to be a great beauty. Her glamorous sister, Lilly moved easily through the world, a parade of handsome men in pursuit. Her brother didn't want a girl joining his group of friends. And their small town of Lynn, Massachusetts, didn't have a place for a girl whose feelings often put her at war with the world-often this meant her mother, her brother, and the town librarian, who wanted to keep her away from the dangerous books she really wanted to read.
But through an unexpected friendship, Neave finds herself with a forbidden copy of The Pirate Lover, a steamy romance, and betrayal. And it is this world that as a grown-up she retreats to again and again when real life becomes too much.
Neave finds herself rereading The Pirate Lover more than she ever would have expected because, as she gets older, life does not reflect the romances she gobbled up as a child. When Neave and Lilly are about to realize their professional dream, Lilly suddenly disappears. Neave must put her beloved books down and take center stage, something she has been running from her entire life. She must figure out what happened to Lilly-and if she's next. Who Neave turns to for help makes for one of the most original, entertaining, exciting, and chilling reads.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz, 363 pages

On a dark night in 1242, travelers gather at a small French inn. It is the perfect night for a story, and everyone in the kingdom is consumed by the tale of three children; Jeanne, a peasant girl who has visions of the future; Williams, a young monk with supernatural strength; and Jacob, a Jewish boy who can heal any wound. Together, their powers will be tested by demons and dragons, cruel knights and cunning monks. From small villages to grand banquets halls, these unlikely friends-and their greyhound-are chased through France to a final showdown in the waves at the foot of the abbey fortress of Mont-Saint-Michel.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Dragondrums by Anne McCaffrey, 243 pages

Working my way back through these books after last month's book club.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling, 309 pages

This month's book for the Blackthorn Book Club. I've read it multiple times, and it's still a treat each time.

The Axeman of New Orleans by Miriam Davis, 306 pages

From 1910 to 1919, New Orleans suffered at the hands of its very own Jack the Ripper-style killer. The story has been the subject of websites, short stories, novels, a graphic novel, and more recently the FX television series American Horror Story. But the full story of gruesome murders, sympathetic victims, accused innocents, public panic, the New Orleans Mafia, and a mysterious killer has never been written. Until now.
The Axeman repeatedly broke into the homes of Italian grocers in the dead of night, leaving his victims in a pool of blood. Iorlando Jordano, an innocent Italian grocer, and his teenaged son Frank were wrongly accused of the one of those murders; corrupt officials convicted with coerced testimony. Miriam C. Davis here expertly tells the story of the search for the Axeman and of the eventual exoneration of the innocent Jordanos. She proves that the person most widely suspected of being the Axeman was not the killer. She also shows what few have imagined-that the Axeman continued killing after leaving New Orleans in 1919.
Only thirty years after Jack the Ripper stalked the streets of Whitechapel, the Axeman of New Orleans held an American city hostage. This book tells the story.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

DragonQuest by Anne McCaffrey, 330 pages

Another Turn, and the deadly silver Thread continues to fall. So the bold dragonriders take to the air once more and their magnificent flying dragons swirl and swoop, breathing flames that destroy the shimmering strands before they reach the ground.
But Weyrleader F'lar knows he must find a better way to protect his beloved Pern before the rebellious Oldtimers can breed any more dissent...before his brother F'nor is foolhardy enough to launch another suicide mission....and before those dratted fire-lizards can stir up any more disastrous trouble....

One For the Money by Janet Evanovich, 338 pages

Welcome to Trenton, New Jersey, home to wiseguys, average Joes, and  Stephanie Plum, who sports a big attitude and even bigger money problems (since losing her job as a lingerie buyer for a department store). Stephanie needs cash-fast-but times are tough, and soon she's forced to turn to the last resort of the truly desperate: family....
Stephanie lands a gig at her sleazy cousin Vinnie's bail bonding company. She's got no experience. But that doesn't matter. Neither does the fact that the bail jumper in question is local vice cop Joe Morelli. From the time he first looked up her dress to the time he first got into her pants, to the time Steph hit him with her father's Buick, M-o-r-e-l-l-i has spelled t-r-o-u-b-l-e. And now the hot guy is in hot water-wanted for murder...
Abject poverty is a great motivator for learning new skills, but being trained in the school of hard knocks by people like psycho prizefighter Benito Ramirez isn't. Still, if Stephanie can nab Morelli in a week, she make a cool ten grand. All she has to do is become an expert bounty hunter overnight-and keep herself from being killed before she gets her man....
Now that I'm working at the Court and dealing with some bondsmen, I wanted to pick this series back up.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer, 326 pages

For ten-year-old Jeremiah Prins, the life of privilege as the son of a school headmaster in the Dutch East Indies comes crashing to a halt in 1942 after the Japanese Imperialist invasion of the Southeast Pacific. Jeremiah takes on the the responsibility of caring for his younger siblings when his father and older stepbrothers are separated from the rest of the family, and he is surprised by what life in the camp reveals about a woman he barely knows-his frail, troubled mother.
Amid starvation, brutality, sacrifice, and generosity, Jeremiah draws on all of his courage and cunning to fill in the gap for his mother. Life in the camps is made more tolerable as Jeremiah's boyhood infatuation with Laura deepens into a friendship from which they both draw strength.
When the darkest sides of humanity threaten to overwhelm Jeremiah and Laura, they reach for God's light and grace, shining through His people. Time and war will test their fortitude, and the only thing that will bring them safely to the other side is the most enduring bond of them all.

My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space by Lisa Scottoline, 327 pages

Lisa Scottoline is back with all-new, exciting adventures, inspired by her weekly column for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Two ex-husbands are in her rear-view mirror, daughter Francesca has moved into an apartment, and Lisa's finding the silver lining in her empty nest. And some things have stayed the same-Mother Mary is still the feistiest octogenarian on the planet, who won't part with her recipe for tomato sauce or her thirty-year-old bra. Lisa and Francesca spill all their family secrets-which may sound a lot like yours.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Skitter by Ezekiel Boone, 328 pages

First, there was the black swarm that swallowed a man whole, the suspicious seismic irregularities in India that confounded the scientists, the nuclear bomb China dropped on its own territory without any explanation. Then, scientist Melanie Guyer's lab received a package containing a mysterious egg sac; little did Dr. Guyer know that, almost overnight, Earth would be overwhelmed by previously dormant spiders that suddenly wanted out.
Now, tens of millions of people around the world are dead. Half of China is a nuclear wasteland. Mysterious flesh-eating spiders are marching through Los Angeles, Oslo, Delhi, Rio de Janeiro, and countless other cities. According to Dr. Guyer, the crisis may soon be over.
But in Japan, a giant, glowing egg sac gives a shocking preview of what is to come, even as survivors in Los Angeles panic and break the quarantine zone. Out in the desert, survivalists Gordo and Shotgon are trying to invent a weapon to fight back, but it may be too late, because President Stephanie Pilgrim has been forced to enact the plan of last resort.
America, you are on your own.

Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire, 475 pages

Elena Rudina lives in the impoverished Russian countryside. Her father has been dead for years. One of her brothers has been conscripted into the Tsar's army, the other taken as a servant in the house of the local landowner. Her mother is dying, slowly, in their tiny cabin. And there is no food.
But then a train arrives in the village, a train carrying untold wealth, a cornucopia of food, and a noble family on their way to visit the Tsar in Saint Petersburg-a family that includes Ekaterina, a girl of Elana's age.
When the two girls' lives collide, an adventure is set in motion, an escapade that includes mistaken identity, a monk locked in a tower, a prince traveling incognito, and-in a starring role only Gregory Maguire could have conjured - a wise-cracking Baba Yaga, witch of Russian folklore, in her ambulatory house perched on chicken legs.
This was odd and strange, but an entertaining read.