Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The House of Crimson & Clover Box Set Volumes I-IV –by Sara M. Cradit

Fiction / Modern Gothic
840 pages / 3501 KB
5 Stars

The trouble with getting a box set for my kindle is I never stopped reading between books. I actually read the whole set in two days. Pulling my nose out of the kindle came only when I got to the end of Vol IV!

I don't normally read modern gothic, or gothic at all, but I thought I'd give this series a try, and I was not disappointed. I've already bought Volumes 5 & 6!

The first book, The Illusions of Eventide almost lost me at the beginning. It starts off with a primo #1 jerk about to off himself. Obviously, he didn't, as he was telling the story, but still.... Because I was settled on the sofa, with a fresh cup of coffee and a snuggly cat, I decided to keep reading, and was introduced to a cast of characters that were and are some of the most interesting folk around. By the time I finished Book 1, I could hardly wait to get into Book II to find out what happened. Alas, Book II went in a different, though connected direction. I'm hoping Books 5 & 6 bring us full circle and tie up the loose ends ;-)

These stories are told by the characters, each chapter is by a different character, some chapters go back in time, most are modern. I enjoy this style of story telling, and had no problem keeping up as Ms. Cradit did a great job of telling us who was speaking, chapter-by-chapter. The world of gothic New Orleans is expertly crafted as the families Deschanel and Sullivan work to solve, and end, the Curse their ancestress, Brigitte placed upon them shortly after the War Between the States.

It has been many years since I've read Anne Rice, and I'm not sure how accurate my memory of her books are, and these books take place primarily in New Orleans and surrounding area, but I am reminded of Ms. Rice's books – in a positive way. Make no mistake, Ms. Cradit tells her own story, and she does it well. But, if you are a fan of Anne Rice, I truly think you will enjoy these books.

Volumes 5 & 6 await in my Kindle, so please forgive me for not writing more here, I have important words to read, curses to end, friends who are calling for my attention.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Blood Faerie (Book 1, Caledonia Fae) –by India Drummond

Fiction / Urban Fantasy

265 pages / 542 KB
5 Stars

This is not Middle Earth, this is modern day Scotland, complete with cell phones, as well as fae and druids and magic!

Eilidh (Ay-lee) is a young fae, and has been banished from the kingdom, her life forfeit if found within it's borders, for being who she is. For having a magic she doesn't understand, and that is forbidden. She doesn't go far, but settles in the town of Perth (north of Edinburgh). She learns to live on her own, and disguise the fact she is fae—mostly she stays away from humans as much as possible. Until she meets Munro.

She smells a terrible evil come into her town, and murders most heinous are committed. She finds herself somehow linked to a human, a cop, and decides to trust him. In the meantime, she finds out more about the terrible evil, and tries to warn her kingdom, but they want nothing to do with it—or her. It becomes apparent that Munro also has magic, and is a Druid.

Her father does see her, and gives her some information that helps, but basically, she and Munro are on their own until the end when she finds other fae who share and practice the same magic she has. They too, are outcast, but choose to help.

As a human, Munro falls in love with Eilidh. It becomes necessary for them to bind to each other in order to defeat Cridhe (Creed) and his terrible evil – that is a lifetime commitment for both of them, and she will live for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. It is not a snap decision, and once made, it cannot be broken. Munro is willing.

This story is complete, but it is the first in a 6 volume series. I look forward to reading volume II, Azuri Fae.

Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh (Kiya Trilogy, Book 1) Kindle edition –by Katie Hamstead

Fiction / Historical (Ancient Egypt)
258 pages / 1226 KB
4 Stars

This is Historical FICTION. If you want it to follow history, shop elsewhere. If you want a fun read set in a long ago space, enjoy!

Yes, there were/are historical inaccuracies, BUT IT'S FICTION! Yes, there were a few places where modern words and phrases jolted, but over all, it was a fun and light read.

There isn't a great deal known about Kiya, but there is some. If you're a stickler for accuracy in fiction, well, wander on down the aisle, my friend. If you can suspend your disbelief, you just might be pleasantly surprised at the tale. Hamstead makes Kiya a Hebrew woman named Naomi, for starters, rather than the more or less accepted Nubian. This gives her a lot of room for culture clashes and storyline. (Being Hebrew also makes her, in this instance, a slave. Yes, I know, that's been pretty well debunked by historians, but it plays well in the story.)

If you're looking for an historical romance, I think you might be a tad disappointed in the book. There is love in the book, and hate, and jealousy, but I don't think it would qualify as a romance. (If it had, you probably wouldn't be reading my review, because I probably wouldn't have finished it.)

Naomi is the favored daughter of her father, and is educated as his son is educated. When Horemheb comes to Thebes to choose a virgin to marry the Pharaoh, he chooses her sisters. Naomi volunteers to go. Akhenaton wants a Hebrew wife because his God, Aten, has said that Hebrew women are pure, and that a Hebrew wife will give him a son and heir—Tutankhaten.

Naomi is given a new name, Kiya, and made a wife of Akhenaton, a man she has been raised to view as evil, a man who is ill and deformed (possibly Marfanes disease), and a man she learns to love and respect. All is not peaches and cream in the royal palace, though, and Kiya must tread lightly and with cunning if she and her son are to survive. None of Pharaoh's sons survive their first night, but young Tut does.

Given the time and cultures in which she was born and raised, Kiya's behavior is not altogether unbelievable. The Hebrews did not treat their women any better than the Egyptians treated theirs, especially in harem situations. Women were property, and were to produce heirs. Period. If they were intelligent and educated that was fine, as long as they knew their place, and did not become a threat to their husband/owner.

Kiya is intelligent, educated, and strong-willed. She will do anything for her husband, and for her children.

Henry Harmon Spalding --by CM Drury

Henry Harmon Spalding: Pioneer of Old Oregon – by Clifford M. Drury

History / Old Oregon
438 pages
4 Stars

I did not find this book as engaging as the two volumes by Drury about the Whitmans. Possibly because much of the same territory was covered; possibly because I had hoped to find more about Eliza Hart Spalding, his first wife, and her thoughts and contributions, and possibly; because I don't think I liked old Henry all that much. Still as a history of the opening of the Oregon Country, as a history of the early pioneers, this book was fascinating, and worth the time to read.

Drury was both an historian and a minister, so he brings a special insight into what these early pioneers had to up with put. This well-written book was published before the two volumes on the Whitmans, and during the intervening time, Drury uncovered new information. In this book, he states the idea that Spalding proposed to Narcissa before Marcus, and was refused, was false. In the later books, he found information to verify that. (I would love to find a copy of Eliza's diary of the overland journey the Spaldings and Whitmans made together. How did she feel, what did she think, every time Spalding looked at Narcissa? She knew about the prior proposal, what did she think of being 'second choice'?)

There are many illustrations and photos in this book that were not available during the time of the Whitmans. This book contains information somewhat different from the other one about the massacre. Whereas the Whitmans spent their time with the Cayuse, the Spaldings were with the Nes Perce. Spalding was fiercely loyal to 'his' Nez Perce, and resented interlopers. And he had the right idea, apparently, of teaching them in their language, of teaching them to farm rather than follow the game trails all year, of "civilizing" them. He and Eliza are well thought of by the Nez Perce this day. While I don't think we would have ever been fast friends, I hold a great deal of respect for both Henry, and Eliza, and his second wife, Rachel.

If you're a history buff interested in the Oregon Country and how it was opened to the emigrants, I recommend this book. This book, like the ones on the Whitmans, uses footnotes not end notes. A big plus in my mind!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Red Earth: A Vietnam Warrior's Journey --by Philip H. Red Eagle

Fiction / Historical
132 pages
5 Stars

This book is two novellas, Red Earth and Bois de Sioux. They are about men who survived Vietnam to come home to families, nightmares, and eventual healing.

What is it like to suffer PTSD? Can one work through it? These men did, with the help of their Native heritage, friends, and fellow vets.

Red Eagle is a powerful writer, and he wrote two powerful stories. I'm not an aficionado of Vietnam books, but this one is one I'll read again. And buy more copies for friends, especially my brothers and sisters who need the healing that Red Eagle gives.

These stories heal. And are not just for 'Nam vets, but for anyone who has seen combat either in a war, an inner city, or a trauma room.

Red Eagle will take you to Hell, he will show you the way home, through the pain, the anguish, the distrust, the nightmares, until you are once again where you need to be. Every combat vet needs to read this book. The family of every combat needs to read this book.