Monday, January 2, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is one of the longest lasting book-memes I know of. I've been a participant since the days it was hosted over at J Kaye's Book Blog, and then on Book Journey. Now It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted at Book Date.

The idea of It's Monday! What Are You Reading is to share the books you read last week and also what you are currently reading. I've discovered the hard way that it's a dangerous meme for your TBR piles as frequently I end up adding books to my wishlist thanks to the intriguing descriptions and reviews that others share.

For a week involving the holiday season, I got more reading done than I'd expected:

Hand of Isis - Jo GrahamHand of Isis
Jo Graham

The amazon.com product description:
Charmian is handmaiden to Cleopatra. She is also an oracle, gifted with ancient memories that may hold the key to preserving Egypt. Through blood and fire, war and peace, love and death, she will face a desperate struggle that will remake the future of the world.

Shortlisted for the Locus Best First Novel Award, included in The Amazon Editors' Top Ten List in Science Fiction and Fantasy for 2008 and the Locus Recommended Reading List, with starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, Jo Graham is one of the most exciting new voices to come out of historical fantasy in recent years.
An excerpt from my review:
I can't recommend Hand of Isis enough to any historical fiction reader, and many fantasy readers. I'm almost certain that if you enjoyed reading any of Katherine Kurtz's historical fiction novels or Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon, you'll enjoy reading this one, and Jo Graham's other novels as well. 
The second book I read (finished it late last night):

The Laughing Corpse - Laurell K. HamiltonThe Laughing Corpse
Laurell K. Hamilton

The amazon.com product description:
The early Anita Blake novels find new life in trade paperback-as perfect collectibles for long-time fans or as great ways for new readers to sink their teeth into the series.
In The Laughing Corpse, a creature from beyond the grave is tearing a swath of murder through St. Louis. And Anita will learn that there are some secrets better left buried-and some people better off dead...
These books are as close to horror as I care to get.

An excerpt from my review:
Anita Blake is quite the character though. Stubborn, sure of herself, and determined to do the right thing. She's not about to wait around for someone else to take on the tough tasks. Or for someone else to do the unpleasant jobs - and there are a few of those in this book. Instead, if that's what she's got to deal with, she's going to do so - and do it to the best of her ability - even if that scares her.

I'm currently reading only one book this week - and I did actually read a hundred pages or so of it last week so it still counts.

The Fiery Cross - Diana GabaldonThe Fiery Cross
Diana Gabaldon

The amazon.com product description:

The dazzling fifth volume of Diana Gabaldon’s extraordinary Outlander saga, featuring 18th-century Scotsman James Fraser and his 20th-century time-traveling wife, Claire Randall.

The year is 1771, and war is coming. Jamie Fraser’s wife tells him so. Little as he wishes to, he must believe it, for hers is a gift of dreadful prophecy—a time-traveler’s certain knowledge.

Born in the year of Our Lord 1918, Claire Randall served England as a nurse on the battlefields of World War II, and in the aftermath of peace found fresh conflicts when she walked through a cleftstone on the Scottish Highlands and found herself an outlander, an English lady in a place where no lady should be, in a time—1743—when the only English in Scotland were the officers and men of King George’s army.

Now wife, mother, and surgeon, Claire is still an outlander, out of place, and out of time, but now, by choice, linked by love to her only anchor—Jamie Fraser. Her unique view of the future has brought him both danger and deliverance in the past; her knowledge of the oncoming revolution is a flickering torch that may light his way through the perilous years ahead—or ignite a conflagration that will leave their lives in ashes....

Grand, sweeping, utterly unforgettable, The Fiery Cross is riveting entertainment, a vibrant tapestry of history and human drama.
There are a few books that I'm planning to start reading this week:

Europe: Chained By History
Larry J. Hilton
Newport Publishing
Copyright: 2015
978-0996786119

The amazon.com product description:

A Plea for Europe to form a United States of Europe
Europe: Chained by History is a groundbreaking book that uses history to make a compelling case for Europe to form a United States of Europe--or risk seeing the European Union come apart individually.
Using the history of Vienna from its inception to 1938, readers are invited to observe Western Europe from within this ancient city.
  • Where did historic rivalries among European nations begin?
  • How did the Enlightenment affect Europe and the United States?
  • What persistent darkness allowed Hitler to lead the word in to a second devastating world war?
  • What will it take for today's European Union to survive?
Author Larry J. Hilton explores these questions, and more, by using fascinating details about what it was really like to live in Vienna from the the first century through the days of hyper-inflation after World War 1.
Thought provoking and well researched, Europe: Chained by History radiates hope even as it details the formidable & political obstacles to European unity. In the end, a banking or ISIS crisis will force the issue.
This was a book that I accepted for review - the first one in quite a few years.

Tempest: All New Tales of Valdemar
Ed. Mercedes Lackey
DAW Books
Copyright: 2016

The amazon.com product description:

Twenty-four authors ride with Mercedes Lackey to her magical land of Valdemar, adding their own unique voices to the Heralds, Bards, Healers, and other heroes of this beloved fantasy realm.

The Heralds of Valdemar are the kingdom’s ancient order of protectors. They are drawn from all across the land, from all walks of life, and at all ages—and all are Gifted with abilities beyond those of normal men and women. They are Mindspeakers, FarSeers, Empaths, ForeSeers, Firestarters, FarSpeakers, and more. These inborn talents—combined with training as emissaries, spies, judges, diplomats, scouts, counselors, warriors, and more—make them indispensable to their monarch and realm. Sought and Chosen by mysterious horse-like Companions, they are bonded for life to these telepathic, enigmatic creatures. The Heralds of Valdemar and their Companions ride circuit throughout the kingdom, protecting the peace and, when necessary, defending their land and monarch.

Now, twenty-three authors ride with Mercedes Lackey to her magical land of Valdemar, adding their own unique voices to the Heralds, Bards, Healers, and other heroes of this beloved fantasy realm.

Join Elizabeth Vaughan, Fiona Patton, Jennifer Brozek, Brenda Cooper, Rosemary Edghill, and others in twenty-two original stories, including a brand-new novella by Mercedes Lackey, to Valdemar, where:

A Herald must crack an ancient code in a historic tapestry in order to arbitrate a dispute over land and lineage…

A Healer’s daughter flees the noble family that has trapped and enslaved her mother, and must seek help to free her mother…

A young woman who hides her clairvoyant powers from her town’s Karsite priests ForeSees a threat, and must risk revealing her Gift to save her community…

A Herald finds his assistant has been abducted by a man upon whom he had levied a heavy fine, and must foil the kidnapper’s plans to save his charge…
This one is the first book I'm planning to read for the Valdemar Challenge that started yesterday.

The third book I'm planning to start is the third book in the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series:

The Circus of the Damned - Laurell K. HamiltonThe Circus of the Damned
Laurell K. Hamilton

The amazon.com product description:
First time in trade paperback: the third novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series.

In Circus of the Damned-now in trade paperback for the first time-a rogue master vampire hits town, and Anita gets caught in the middle of an undead turf war. Jean-Claude, the Master Vamp of the city, wants her for his own-but his enemies have other plans. And to make matters worse, Anita takes a hit to the heart when she meets a stunningly handsome junior high science teacher named Richard Zeeman. They're two humans caught in the crossfire-or so Anita thinks.
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