Books of the Week:
- Warprize, Elizabeth Vaughan
- The Berlin Memorandum, Adam Hall
- Winterblaze, Kristen Callihan
- Stillhouse Lake, Rachel Caine
- Daring, Elliott James
- The Brightest Fell, Seanan MacGuire
I met Elizabeth Vaughan at GenCon, and she was such a gracious shepherd and moderator that I vowed to read one of her books at my earliest opportunity. Warprize was a tremendously fun read, once I realize that an irritating mode of address in the book was actually the lead to an interesting secret. Xylara, daughter of a king, has trained as a healer and has no desire to rule. Her half-brother is head of the country. But he’s not too steady mentally, and Xylara pays the price. She’s traded to a warlord in exchange for peace between the two countries. What she makes of this bargain is the bulk of the story, and very satisfying it is.
I have always been a steadfast Adam Hall fan. He wrote action better than anyone, and he trusted the reader to keep pace with his sudden switches from one situation to another. That’s pretty rare. All his Quiller books are first rate. Though he passed away many years ago (and wrote many books under other names), if you’ve never read an Adam Hall spy novel, pick one up at your next stop at a used book store. Though the political situation in The Berlin Memorandum has changed since these books were written, they’re still suspenseful and exciting ways to pass your reading time.
Kristen Callihan’s Winterblaze is a romance set in London in the mid-1800s. I did not know I was jumping into this series in the middle, but it was easy to catch up on the action, a skillful bit of writing on Callihan’s part. Poppy Lane has kept her secret life a –well, a secret – from her husband of several years, Winston, a police inspector and disowned son of a noble house. They are estranged when the book opens, and missing each other desperately, but pride and trust has been bruised on both sides. There’s lots of action in this book, and lots of lust.
I’ve been a friend and admirer of Rachel Caine’s for years, and Stillhouse Lake is simply amazing. It’s a classic thriller, a new genre for Caine, and it’s a doozy. Gina Royal was the wife of a serial killer. Now, “Gwen Proctor” and her children have adopted new names and have new lives, living under the radar with the help of a hacker. But Gwen must monitor the constant barrage of hate mail, a soul-killing task, to see if anyone has tracked them down. And every now and then, she and the kids get a letter from her serial killer husband. When they’ve finally found a good living situation, a young woman is killed and thrown in the lake beside their house . . . and she’s been murdered just like Mel Royal’s victims. Chills galore, and a grim picture of what the media can do to ruin lives these days. Read this!
Daring is the second in the series that began with Charming. John Charming, former Knight Templar, now a werewolf, is given the terrible task of infiltrating the werewolf group that threatens the status quo. He has huge adventures, and he stays true to himself . . . making this a very satisfying read for urban fantasy fans.
Seanan MacGuire is the most consistent writer I know. Whatever name she’s publishing under, her books are reliably great, intelligent, and challenging. The Brightest Fell is not an exception. I was lucky enough to get an ARC as a gift, and I was just about jumping up and down with glee. The Brightest Fell completely lived up to my expectations, which were pretty high. October Day is a recognized hero in Faerie, and this time she must a hero on her own behalf. Her terrible, dreadful, beautiful mother steals Toby’s fiancé and her ‘sister’s’ beloved, and keeps them cruelly imprisoned until such time as Toby can find her own sister August and return her to her mother. Poor Toby! But she’s a hero . . ..
Here’s the scoop. The new book finally has a title, “An Easy Death,” and the series is the Gunnie Rose series. At last! And it’s completely done, only awaiting the copy-editor’s comments – which I predict will be few, since several people have gone over it with a fine-toothed comb – and then it’ll be in the process. When I have a pub date, you’ll know it. I am really proud of this book, which was quite a departure for me; but then, I like departures. Nothing is more boring than writing the same thing over and over. Wait . . . doing laundry is more boring.
I’ll be at StoryCon in New Orleans Sept. 14-17, in company with many good friends and writers. This small conference was so great last year, with an easy conversation between writers and readers that is so hard to achieve. Murder by the Book, one of my favorite bookstores and located in Houston, is handling the book sales. You can pre-order signed books from this store by any of the authors attending.
Speaking of Houston . . . like all of you, I’ve been following the fate of my friends in that area. So far, all of them are all right and their houses are dry; but I know there are so many who did not have that bit of luck, and my thoughts and prayers are with them. There are many relief organizations at work in the area, for both humans and their pets, and if you have an extra ten dollars or so, please consider donating to one of these organizations. The need is great.