Friday Book Club #12

Friday, January 5, 2018

Read & Have Opinions On:

The Queen and the Cure by Amy Harmon
Kjell of Jeru had always known who he was. He'd never envied his brother or wanted to be king. He was the bastard son of the late King Zoltev and a servant girl, and the ignominy of his birth had never bothered him.

But there is more to a man than his parentage. More to a man than his blade, his size, or his skills, and all that Kjell once knew has shifted and changed. He is no longer simply Kjell of Jeru, a warrior defending the crown. Now he is a healer, one of the Gifted, and a man completely at odds with his power.

Called upon to rid the country of the last vestiges of the Volgar, Kjell stumbles upon a woman who has troubling glimpses of the future and no memory of the past. Armed with his unwanted gift and haunted by regret, Kjell becomes a reluctant savior, beset by old enemies and new expectations. With the woman by his side, Kjell embarks upon a journey where the greatest test may be finding the man she believes him to be.

My Thoughts: Maybe it's because I'm more used to the rhythm Harmon writes by, but I was *so* *freaking* *engrossed* in this book when I was reading it. I would not say the story is all that unique (?) at some points, but the characters themselves make even familiar tropes new, and the words - oh my goodness, the words. I fall more in love with the words that authors use to describe the feelings between characters as time goes on, and there are passages in this book that are achingly beautiful and tugged on ALL my heartstrings. It's definitely not a stand alone - you read it after The Bird and the Sword or ...well I was going to say not at all but I guess you could be a REBEL and do whatever you want, though I think the strength of the emotional connections between the characters is lost a bit. But I highly recommend that you DO read them both, because combined they tell an incredible story of magic and love and the strength of the heart.

Amid the Winter Snow by Grace Draven, Thea Harrison, Elizabeth Hunter, and Jeffe Kennedy
As the snows fall and hearths burn, four stories of Midwinter beginnings prove that love can fight its way through the chillest night…

The mark Jahna Ulfrida was born with has made her a target of the cruel and idle all her life. During the long, crowded festivities of Deyalda, there’s nowhere to escape. Until a handsome stranger promises to teach her to save herself…

THE CHOSEN, by Thea Harrison
In her visions, Lily sees two men fighting for her tiny country’s allegiance: the wolf and the tiger, each deadly, each cunning. One will bring Ys chaos and death, one a gentler path—but she’s destined to love whichever she chooses. The midwinter Masque is upon them, and the wolf is at her door…

THE STORM, by Elizabeth Hunter
When her soul mate died in a massacre of the half-angelic Irin people, Renata thought she’d never feel happiness again. She’s retreated to the snowy Dolomites to remember her hurts—until determined, irrepressible Maxim arrives to insist on joy, too. And before she can throw him out, they discover a secret the Irin have to know…

As a blizzard threatens their mountain keep, the new Queen Amelia of the Twelve Kingdoms and her unofficial consort Ash face their own storm. Ash knows a scarred, jumpy ex-convict isn’t the companion his queen needs. But when a surprise attack confines them together in their isolated sanctuary, the feast of midwinter might tempt even Ash into childlike hope...

My Thoughts: It's a bit harder to review anthologies probably because I feel that it's inevitable that a reader will like some of the stories more than others.  I was in it for Grace Draven and Thea Harrison, two women whose series I've loved dearly, and feel like even if it was just those two stories I'd be fine with the $5 price. I was pleasantly enamored with Elizabeth Hunter's story, and since that's not always true for me with this author it was a strong bonus - and enough for me to pick up the beginning of a new series. Jeffe Kennedy seems like a good writer/person but even though I've read a couple short stories set in this realm it's not one that speaks to me on the whole (plus a bit too violent for me sometimes). All in all I think the anthology functions as a wonderful introduction to a quartet of women fantasy romance writers, and as such would recommend it easily.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she's back. The things she's experienced... they change a person. The children under Miss West's care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy's arrival marks a change at the Home. There's a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it's up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of things.

No matter the cost.

My Thoughts: I love Seanan McGuire on the regular, so even though this sat on my virtual TBR pile for a while, I don't think it's particularly surprising to anyone when I say this is another well written and just flat-out interesting story. Again she's crafted these unique characters that after their individual journeys come together in a hopes of surviving in the "real" world. I'm hesitant to say too much in fear of spoilers, but it's a book that's not so much about the mystery as the people themselves, the good and the bad, and the ways in which our own assumptions color the ways in which as readers approach them. Very recommended.

I'm Looking Forward To:

Unraveled by Lauren Dane (January 30th, 2018)
Maybe Dolan has lived independent, free-spirited and unattached since leaving home at sixteen. Whiskey Sharp, Seattle’s sexy vintage-styled barbershop and whiskey bar, gave her a job—and a reason to put down roots. Cutting hair by day, losing herself drumming in a punk rock band by night, she’s got it good.

But a longtime crush that turns into a hot, edgy night with brooding and bearded Alexsei Petrov makes it a hell of a lot better.

Maybe’s blunt attitude and carnal smile hooked Alexsei from the start. Protecting people is part of his nature and Maybe is meant to be his…even if she doesn’t know it. Yet. He can’t help himself from wanting to protect and care for her.

But Maybe’s fiery independent spirit means pushing back when Alexsei goes too far. Still, he’s not afraid to do a little pushing of his own to get what he wants—her in his life, and his bed, for good. Maybe’s more intoxicating than all the liquor on his shelf…and he’s not afraid to ride the blade’s edge to bind her to him.

Shifting Dreams by Elizabeth Hunter (Out Now)
In Cambio Springs, everything--and everyone--changes.

Most days, widowed hawk shifter Jena Crowe cannot get a break. Work at her diner never ends, her two boys are bundles of energy, and she's pretty sure her oldest is about to turn into something furry or feathery.

Caleb Gilbert was looking for change, and the quiet desert town of Cambio Springs seemed like just the ticket for a more peaceful life. He never could have predicted just how crazy his new life would become.

When murder rocks their small community, Caleb and Jena will have to work together. And when Caleb isn't put off by any of Jena's usual defenses, she may be faced with the most frightening change of all: lowering the wall around her carefully guarded heart.

SHIFTING DREAMS is a stand-alone paranormal romance in the Cambio Springs Mysteries.

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire (January 9th, 2018)
Beneath the Sugar Sky, the third book in McGuire's Wayward Children series, returns to Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children in a standalone contemporary fantasy for fans of all ages. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the "real" world.

When Rini lands with a literal splash in the pond behind Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children, the last thing she expects to find is that her mother, Sumi, died years before Rini was even conceived. But Rini can’t let Reality get in the way of her quest – not when she has an entire world to save! (Much more common than one would suppose.)

If she can't find a way to restore her mother, Rini will have more than a world to save: she will never have been born in the first place. And in a world without magic, she doesn’t have long before Reality notices her existence and washes her away. Good thing the student body is well-acquainted with quests...

A tale of friendship, baking, and derring-do.

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