Review: One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews

Review: One Fell Sweep by Ilona AndrewsOne Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #3) by Ilona Andrews
Format: ebook
Source: purchased from Amazon
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: urban fantasy
Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #3
Pages: 257
Published by Ilona Andrews on December 20th 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

Gertrude Hunt, the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, is glad to have you. We cater to particular kind of guests, the ones most people don’t know about. The older lady sipping her Mello Yello is called Caldenia, although she prefers Your Grace. She has a sizable bounty on her head, so if you hear kinetic or laser fire, try not to stand close to the target. Our chef is a Quillonian. The claws are a little unsettling, but he is a consummate professional and truly is the best chef in the Galaxy. If you see a dark shadow in the orchard late at night, don’t worry. Someone is patrolling the grounds. Do beware of our dog.
Your safety and comfort is our first priority. The inn and your host, Dina Demille, will defend you at all costs. We ask only that you mind other guests and conduct yourself in a polite manner.

My Review:

sweep in peace by ilona andrewsThis one is all about family. The one you are born to, and the one that you make. With Dina stuck in the middle, trying to protect all of them. Not just because that’s her job, but because that’s who she is.

This is also a story about grace under pressure, or under fire. Laser fire.

The plot is driven by the two things that drive Dina – the need to find her missing parents, and the need to protect her guests. In this story those two things become inextricably entwined, thanks to a little push from George the interfering Arbitrator. While this whole mess could be payback for the way he screwed Dina over in Sweep in Peace, knowing George it is much more likely that he has plans to use Dina again in the future. We’ll see.

Our story begins with Dina receiving the one thing she can’t ignore – a message from her sister Maud. Maud is in big trouble. And she’s on a remote planet in the middle of the Holy Anocracy, which is vampire territory. So Dina sends out the equivalent of an intergalactic distress call to her vampire friend, Lord Arland of House Krahr. Dina needs his help to rescue her sister. And she’s more than willing to ignore Arland’s fascination with her in order to get it. Fortunately for Dina, her werewolf, Sean, is not willing to let Arland try to fascinate Dina without his presence.

And besides, the planet where Maud is marooned is completely lawless. It’s where the vampires send their castoffs and casteless. Dina is going to need both of them to rescue Maud.

Except its more of an extraction than a rescue. Maud is holding her own just fine, but she’s accomplished what she came to do and it’s time for her and her daughter to leave. Even though Maud is human, just like a good vampire wife she has taken vengeance on all of her late and actually unlamented husband’s killers. It’s time for her to go.

And while Dina is relieved to get Maud back to earth, along with Maud’s daughter (and Dina’s niece) Helen, Arland is absolutely mesmerized. Maud’s combination of human frailties with vampire sensibilities is something he can’t resist. Maud’s doing plenty of resisting for both of them. And Sean is grateful to have Arland out of the competition for Dina. Not that the two alphas aren’t metaphorically, and occasionally literally, still pissing on trees to mark their respective territories.

But it’s a good thing that they have mostly settled their difference, because Dina is going to need all the help she can get. She’s received an offer that is much too good to be true. She can get an answer to her question about where to find her parents from an unimpeachable source. But in order to do so she has to accept the most literally noxious guests in the galaxy – and fend off their fiendishly devious and mindlessly fanatic killers. For as long as it takes.

Or as long as she can.

Escape Rating A: They say that blood is thicker than water, but Dina’s story proves that its not just the blood you share together, but also the blood you shed together. Because her mission in One Fell Sweep places the Gertrude Hunt in the middle of an all out war.

There is a lot of commentary hidden in this particular fight. Her guests are the Hiru. They have been hunted to extinction by the Draziri. For religious reasons. Or unreasons. The Draziri priesthood labeled the Hiru as anathema, and told their followers that killing a Hiru would wipe away the sins of the killer and all their ancestors, no matter how heinous the crime. Even killing a priest could be washed away by killing a Hiru.

And the Hiru are totally unobjectionable as people. They are kind and peaceloving. But their planet was destroyed by the Draziri, and they are biologically incapable of living anywhere else without environmental suits. The worst part is that these are truly awful environmental suits, and they apparently stink to high heaven. Which makes Hiru difficult guests at best, and dangerous at worst. Not because the Hiru do anything dangerous, but because the Draziri ruthlessly hunt them down wherever they go. And the fanatic Draziri do not give a damn about Earth’s neutrality or the possibility of exposing the inn network. They’ve already been banned from Earth altogether, and they ignore that prohibition as well. In pursuit of a Hiru, they have no scruples and no morals and will let nothing get between them and their target. Until Dina puts the Gertrude Hunt between the Draziri and her Hiru guests.

And all hell breaks loose.

Anyone who misses the commentary about the damage done by religious fanaticism and religious intolerance isn’t reading the same book the rest of us did. The lesson is sharp and brutal and the ending makes it stick with the reader long after the story is over.

Religion, particularly religious fanaticism, is a tremendous force. When it is turned towards evil, it is a terrible one. We all make our own gods. And all institutions protect themselves first.

One of the other things I loved about this particular installment of the series is that every single member of Dina’s family gets their chance to shine and to contribute to the fight. I also love the way that the author resolved the love triangle. That could have gone all sorts of wrong. Instead, we have the opportunity for another beautiful love story and one that makes sense in the context of the series.

A couple of thoughts about this particular book before I finish. The Hiru, at least in their environmental suits, are ugly in so many ways. The Draziri, on the other hand, are physically beautiful even if morally bankrupt. I’m not sure whether the appropriate aphorism is the one about “all the is gold does not glitter” or the one about “pretty is as pretty does, but ugly goes clean through to the bone”. Maybe both.

clean sweep by ilona andrewsI have fallen in love with this series. I started Clean Sweep one night, and simply couldn’t let go until I had read the whole thing. These were books well worth staying up late to finish. And now I’m waiting, just like everyone else, for Ilona to begin serializing book 4 on her website, just as she did with the first three books. It will give me another reason to look forward to Fridays.

Blood is thicker than water, and family is more important than anything else. But that includes family of choice. Definitely and defiantly.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 1-22-16

Sunday Post

And this is the ALA Midwinter edition of the Sunday Post. My nightstand has temporarily moved to downtown Atlanta for the weekend, and I’m probably not getting much reading done. But the show, as they say, must go on. And I’ll be home tomorrow to cuddle the kittehs and recuperate from the conference. On the one hand, since we didn’t have to travel anywhere, I have a tiny flare of hope that I won’t come down with “con crud”. And on that other hand, I miss those hours on the plane when there isn’t much to do but read. Oh well, the Annual Conference in June is in Chicago. That flight will give me a couple of hours at least.

Current Giveaways:

$10 Book or $10 Gift Card in the Jeepers It’s January Giveaway Hop
$10 Book or $10 Gift Card in the Best of 2016 Giveaway Hop
$25 Gift Card from Harlequin and Stephanie Laurens

dragon springs road by janie changBlog Recap:

A Review: Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews
Jeepers It’s January Giveaway Hop
A Review: Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang
Best of 2016 Giveaway Hop
B Review: Lord of the Privateers by Stephanie Laurens + Giveaway
Stacking the Shelves (219)

leonard by william shatnerComing Next Week:

One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews (review)
Unfathomed by Anna Hackett (review)
The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry (blog tour review)
On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins (blog tour review)
Leonard by William Shatner (review)

Stacking the Shelves (219)

Stacking the Shelves

Welcome to the ALA Midwinter edition of Stacking the Shelves. What that really means is that I actually went crazy on Netgalley and Edelweiss last week, and split the haul between two posts so I’d have something to post today. I’m actually downtown in the middle of the conference, probably in a meeting. Perpetually in a meeting. It’s the nature of things.

Next week’s shelf stacking will include whatever I pick up on the conference floor. It’s dangerous having the conference in my town – I don’t need to worry about luggage weight limits and can haul anything my back can get off the floor. Scary, isn’t it?

For Review:
Mark of the Moon (Mark of the Moon #1) by Beth Dranoff
The Morcai Battalion: The Rescue by Diana Palmer
A Most Unlikely Duke (Diamonds in the Rough #1) by Sophie Barnes
Murder on Location (Charlotte Brody #3) by Cathy Pegau
No Getting over a Cowboy (Wrangler’s Creek #2) by Delores Fossen
The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
Tremontaine: the Complete Season Two by Ellen Kushner, Joel Derfner, Tessa Gratton, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Paul Witcover, Racheline Maltese, Alaya Dawn Johnson

Borrowed from the Library:
A Cold Treachery (Inspector Ian Rutledge #7) by Charles Todd
A False Mirror (Inspector Ian Rutledge #9) by Charles Todd
A Lonely Death (Inspector Ian Rutledge #13) by Charles Todd
A Long Shadow (Inspector Ian Rutledge #8) by Charles Todd

Review: Lord of the Privateers by Stephanie Laurens + Giveaway

Review: Lord of the Privateers by Stephanie Laurens + GiveawayLord of the Privateers (The Adventurers Quartet, #4) by Stephanie Laurens
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: historical romance
Series: Adventurers Quartet #4
Pages: 384
Published by Mira on December 27th 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

Revel in the action, drama, intrigue and passion as the Frobishers— with help from Wolverstone, the Cynsters and many familiar others— steer the adventure to a glorious end.
Unstoppable determination
Widely known as the lord of the privateers, Royd Frobisher expects to execute the final stage of the rescue mission his brothers have begun. What he does not expect is to be pressured into taking Isobel Carmichael—his childhood sweetheart, former handfasted bride and current business partner—with him. A force of nature, Isobel has a mission of her own: to find and bring a young cousin safely home. And along the way, she hopes to rid herself of the dreams of a life with Royd that still haunt her.
Unfinished business
Neither expects the shock that awaits them as they set sail, much less the new horizons that open before them as they embark on a full-scale rescue-assault on the compound deep in the jungle. Yet despite the support of his brothers and their ladies, Royd and Isobel discover that freeing the captives is only half the battle. To identify and convict the conspirators behind the illicit enterprise—and save England from political disaster—they must return to the ballrooms of the haut ton and hunt the villains on their home ground.
Unforgettable love
But having found each other again, having glimpsed the heaven that could yet be theirs, how much are Royd and Isobel willing to risk in the name of duty?
#1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens delivers the thrilling conclusion to her acclaimed series THE ADVENTURERS QUARTET, a passionate Regency-era drama where intrigue and danger play out on the high seas and in exotic tropical jungles, ultimately reaching a dazzling climax in the glittering ballrooms of London.

My Review:

ladys command by stephanie laurensLord of the Privateers is an adventure romp with a romance attached – or a romance with an adventure attached. There be two plot threads here, and they are both compelling, if not equally so.

This book is the culmination of The Adventurers Quartet, and as such wraps up all of the many plot threads that were started all the way back in The Lady’s Command, and built up and added to in A Buccaneer at Heart and The Daredevil Snared.

The story would not be a pretty one if it weren’t for the inevitable happy ending. Far from England, in the English colony of Freeport in South Africa, someone is operating an illicit diamond mine. Not only is the mine unlicensed, and therefore not under government scrutiny of any kind, but the backers of the mine decided to maximize their profit by using slave labor.

They think they are so far above the law that they can kidnap colonists from Freeport, and that no one will care. And even if they are eventually caught, they will be able to walk away.

But the people they take are missed. Not just the children, but also the adults. Especially when they do stupid things like kidnap the military men who are sent to investigate, one after another. The government contracts with the Frobisher shipping clan to find out where everyone has gone, and that’s where the fun of this series begin.

Each one of the Frobisher children (sons AND daughter) is captain of his or her own ship. One by one, the oldest four sons go down to Freeport, put their share of the pieces together, and come back with a bride who is not willing to stay at home and wait while their men sail into danger.

It’s all been leading up to this book, Lord of the Privateers. That “lord” is Royd, the oldest brother and captain of their fleet. It’s up to him to lead the military operation to rescue the prisoners and gather as much evidence as possible on those mysterious and nefarious backers. In that order.

But Royd’s mission is compromised. Not by betrayal, but by his own unfinished business coming back to haunt him. Isobel Carmody, his childhood best friend and the love of his life, turned him away eight years ago. One of the captives is Isobel’s cousin, and she insists on accompanying him to Freeport. They have unfinished business between them to work out on this journey. They need to decide once and for all whether to try again, or to finally move on.

Royd thinks he has all the time in the world to woo Isobel again. Isobel thinks the voyage will be long enough for her to figure out whether she can trust Royd with her heart again, after he broke it eight years ago.

And they have a colony to save. And in the process, all their secrets will come out, and all the truths will finally come to light.

Escape Rating B: There are two plots here, the second chance at love story, and more importantly, the military operation to rescue the enslaved workers at the mine.

Unlike most second-chance love stories, this one feels resolved fairly early on. They are back together almost instantly, so most of the rest of the romance angle seems a bit anti-climactic. Also, their inevitable marriage is a foregone conclusion from the outset. Eight years ago, Royd and Isobel were handfasted, an old Scottish form of trial marriage. But if a child is born of the handfasting, the couple must automatically marry, or the child must be given up to the father. (Yes, I know it’s terribly misogynistic, etc., but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t the law of the time).

Isobel gave birth to Royd’s son eight years ago, while he was away on a secret mission that he chose not to tell her about. She’s kept the boy a secret ever since, at least until he stows away aboard their ship to Freeport. Once that “cat” is out of its bag, an eventual wedding is the only possible conclusion.

But the military operation and the subsequent clean up of the gentleman backers is a romp from beginning to end. And if it weren’t for the fact that this is historical romance and therefore must lead to a happy ending, the clean-up operation feels like it might teeter towards disaster at any moment. That was the part of the story that had me on the edge of my seat.

It was wonderful not just to see all the dirty bastards finally get their just desserts, but to have those desserts handed to them by a combined delegation of the Frobishers, the Cynsters and the Bastion Club was a special treat for those who have read any of the author’s previous series.

But speaking of series, The Adventurers’ Quartet is one where you probably need to have read at least some of the previous entries. I read books 1, 3 and 4, and didn’t feel as if I missed anything except a good story by accidentally skipping Buccaneer. Because Lord is the payoff for all the previous books, I think it looses its punch if you start with it.

Because the romantic side of the plot was resolved early on, those scenes that “furthered” the romance were furthering something that already felt completely developed. To say they became anticlimactic makes for a very bad pun that nevertheless was true for this reader. Your mileage (measured in knots in this case) may vary. But the rescue operation makes for a cracking good yarn.

~~~~~~ TOURWIDE GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

Stephanie and Harlequin are giving away a $25 Gift Card to one lucky entrant on this tour!

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TLC
This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews and features.

Best of 2016 Giveaway Hop

best of 2016 giveaway hop

Welcome to the Best of 2016 Giveaway Hop, Hosted by Bookhounds.

I somehow manage to do a lot of “Best of the Year” lists. One for me, one for Library Journal, and one for the SFR Galaxy Awards. But the Galaxy Awards haven’t been announced yet, and I’m not going to give spoilers. But still, two lists. And no matter how many titles are one the official list, I usually manage to squeeze a few more onto the lists in one way or another. When I like a book, I really, really like it.

And I like books a lot. I also like a lot of books.

 

I’m giving away a $10 Gift Card or a $10 Book from either my Best of 2016 or Best E-Originals posts. So take a look and let me know which one is your favorite!

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For more fabulous best books, be sure to visit the other stops on the hop!

Review: Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang

Review: Dragon Springs Road by Janie ChangDragon Springs Road by Janie Chang
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: historical fiction
Pages: 400
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on January 10th 2017
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

From the author of Three Souls comes a vividly imagined and haunting new novel set in early 20th century Shanghai—a story of friendship, heartbreak, and history that follows a young Eurasian orphan’s search for her long-lost mother.
That night I dreamed that I had wandered out to Dragon Springs Road all on my own, when a dreadful knowledge seized me that my mother had gone away never to return . . .
In 1908, Jialing is only seven years old when she is abandoned in the courtyard of a once-lavish estate outside Shanghai. Jialing is zazhong—Eurasian—and faces a lifetime of contempt from both Chinese and Europeans. Until now she’s led a secluded life behind courtyard walls, but without her mother’s protection, she can survive only if the estate’s new owners, the Yang family, agree to take her in.
Jialing finds allies in Anjuin, the eldest Yang daughter, and Fox, an animal spirit who has lived in the courtyard for centuries. But Jialing’s life as the Yangs’ bondservant changes unexpectedly when she befriends a young English girl who then mysteriously vanishes.
Murder, political intrigue, jealousy, forbidden love … Jialing confronts them all as she grows into womanhood during the tumultuous early years of the Chinese republic, always hopeful of finding her long-lost mother. Through every turn she is guided, both by Fox and by her own strength of spirit, away from the shadows of her past toward a very different fate, if she has the courage to accept it.

My Review:

In a peculiar way, Dragon Springs Road reminds me a bit of Jade Dragon Mountain. Although both stories are set in China, their settings are 200 years apart. But the similarity is in the way that both stories managed to evoke a “you are there” feeling, at least for me. It was more than reading about something, it felt like being drawn into the story in both cases.

There was also a tiny element of The Tale of Shikanoko, even though Shikanoko is Japanese and not Chinese. In both that story and this one, there’s that sense of the mythic bleeding into the real. In the case of Dragon Springs Road, that mythic element is the fox spirit who protects Jialing and her mother during their residence on Dragon Springs Road.

Jialing believes that Fox is real, and she certainly seems to affect real things. But does she? As this story is told through Jialing’s eyes, we see things how she believes them to be, not necessarily how things are.

We also see a world that is in the process of change. Dragon Springs Road is in Shanghai, and the story takes place during the first two decades of the 20th century, through both the World War I years and the contentious early years of the Republic of China, as factions and warlords fought for power and against the rising tide of communism within, and Japanese imperial ambitions without.

As the story begins, Jialing is a little girl, one who has lived her entire life on the fringes of the Fong household on Dragon Springs Road. But things are not going well in the Fong household, and her mother, the concubine of the master of the house, is particularly vulnerable. Jialing is too young to understand any of this. All that she knows is that one day her mother goes away, leaving Jialing hiding in the decrepit outbuilding where they have lived.

And from that inauspicious beginning, Jialing is set adrift. She is very, very young. And she is mixed race, and therefore despised by both the Chinese and the Europeans. The household that moves into the Fong’s former residence take her in out of charity. And so she lives, dependent on the kindness of strangers, and knowing that she doesn’t belong anywhere, no matter how hard she tries.

Through the years, Jialing grows up. She makes friends, and enemies. She is fortunate enough to receive a Western education. But no matter how much she improves herself, all that anyone sees is the lowest of the low, a woman of mixed race.

Her friend, companion and guide through the lost years is the Fox who watches over the compound, and over Jialing. Fox both teaches her about the world outside, and makes her forget inconvenient questions. And Fox prevents others from asking inconvenient questions about Jialing.

The one thing that Jialing longs for above all others is to find her mother, and to discover why she was left behind all those years ago. And she does. Just as her entire world falls apart.

Be careful what you wish for. You might get it.

Escape Rating A: This is an absolutely lovely story that pulls the reader in and doesn’t let go until the end. It feels as if you are walking that road with Jialing, and not just reading about it. Stories that do that are rare and precious.

Dragon Springs Road is also a very quiet story. Jialing’s life is not the stuff of an adventure tale. She grows up, she does her best to serve, she watches and waits. Much of the action in this story happens to other people, as Jialing watches a second family overtaken by the bad luck that seems to haunt this one house.

And outside the gates, the world changes. Revolutions come, not just to China, but also to nearby Russia. The world that is coming is going to be very different from what has gone before. And Jialing becomes involved, but in the most unlikely of ways.

One of the threads that permeates this story is the prejudice that Jialing faces from all sides, and the ways that prejudice limits her choices. On all sides she is hemmed about by people who consider her less than dirt because she is neither fully Europeon nor fully Chinese. At a time and in a place where lineage is everything, she has none.

And yet she perseveres, making the best choice available to her. And we’re right there with her.

This is a book I simply loved. I was swept away at the beginning and left bereft at the end, gasping and flailing at my return to the real world. It feels like I was in a dream with the Fox, and she just turned me loose.

Dragon Springs Road is a book to get lost in. I loved it so much I’m having a difficult time articulating that love. Why don’t you pick up a copy and see for yourself!

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This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews and features.

Jeepers It’s January Giveaway Hop

jeepers its january giveaway hop 2017

Welcome to the 2nd Annual Jeepers! It’s January Giveaway Hop, hosted by The Mommy Island and The Kids Did It.

Why? Because jeepers, it is January. Even if it doesn’t really feel like winter here, it is still definitely winter. The nights are just as long and dark, even if they aren’t always cold.

It’s also a great time for this book blog to give away some bookish prizes. Long winter nights are a great time to curl up with a good book!

So, I’ll be giving away the winner’s choice of either a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a $10 Book from the Book Depository. For those who either want a book or are international visitors who don’t have a good way of using an Amazon Gift Card, the requirement is that you need an address where Book Depository ships.

amazon 10 dollar gift card picturebook depository image

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For more fabulous prizes, be sure to visit the other stops on the hop!

Review: Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews

Review: Sweep in Peace by Ilona AndrewsSweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles, #2) by Ilona Andrews
Format: ebook
Source: purchased from Amazon
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: urban fantasy
Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #2
Pages: 237
Published by Ilona Andrews on November 13th 2015
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

Dina DeMille doesn’t run your typical Bed and Breakfast. Her inn defies laws of physics, her fluffy dog is secretly a monster, and the only paying guest is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. But the inn needs guests to thrive, and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina's door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance.
Unfortunately, for Dina, keeping the peace between Space Vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the devious Merchants of Baha-char is much easier said than done. On top of keeping her guests from murdering each other, she must find a chef, remodel the inn...and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it's all in the day's work for an Innkeeper…

My Review:

clean sweep by ilona andrewsAfter finishing Clean Sweep in nearly one sitting, I absolutely couldn’t resist pouring through the entire series ASAP. Which I did. And it was glorious.

But specifically about Sweep in Peace…this book adds depth to the world the author has created, and to the characters in the series, particularly Dina, but pretty much everyone her life touches. Or is touched by.

Dina is in kind of a pickle. As she always seems to be in one way or another. In order to remain a viable inn, the Gertrude Hunt needs guests. Her symbiotic relationship with the people who stay with her means that the more guests she has, the more powerful they are, the more she is able to do. And be.

So when an Arbitrator asks her to host an intergalactic peace conference, Dina feels that she needs to take the job. She needs the money AND she needs the guests. So even though she knows that she is literally the inn of last resort, and that keeping her warring guests from bringing the more active parts of their conflict inside her walls, she still needs the money and the guests. And hopes for an increase in the inn’s rating if she is successful, even as she knows that she has about as much chance of success as a snowball in hell.

Speaking of hell, that’s what the fight is all about. The planet Nexus is hell. Or the nearest equivalent that anyone wants to see. But the vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde and the space merchants of Baha are all fighting over it. It may be hell, but it’s a hell that contains valuable minerals that the vampires and the Horde both want. And the merchants sit on the only land stable enough to have transportation facilities to get those minerals off-planet.

And nobody wants to give an inch of ground, even though it is in their bests interests. The vampires and the horde have both spilled too much blood, and the merchants, as it turns out, have nowhere else to go. It’s a stalemate, until Dina and the Arbitrator step in.

Or rather, until the Arbitrator backs Dina into a corner and forces her to step in. Whether she will step out alive is anyone’s guess. No one gets out of hell unscathed. Not even by proxy.

Escape Rating A: I love this series. Did I say that already? Probably multiple times?

Dina reminds me quite a bit of Marley Jacobs in A Key, An Egg, An Unfortunate Remark. Both Dina and Marley wield the same kind of quiet power. And also espouse the same flavor of “neutrality” that will defend those it chooses to the death. Of the other person. Or thing. Or whatever.

The most interesting character in this story is George, the Arbitrator. His tactics in every situation are the exception that proves the rule about whether ends that unquestionably serve the greater good can possibly justify extremely questionable means. Every once in a blue moon, the ends actually do justify the means. Which doesn’t make those means any less terrible. It might just make them even more terrible. George knows that every lie he tells, every truth he omits, every action he takes, is designed to move all his pawns, especially including Dina, into the exact right position to achieve his aims, and he does not care how much he damages those pawns along the way, as long as he achieves his goal. Which is admittedly, a worthy one. And might possibly be worth the cost. Or would be if George were the one to pay it. But he isn’t.

Normally, one says that one would not want to be on someone’s bad side. In George’s case, being on his good side isn’t actually any less dangerous.

That love is all there is is all we know of love is all too true. And terrible the lengths it will drive us to. Which is a big part of what George is counting on, to Dina’s cost.

In the end, this story comes to be about the cost of war and the price of peace. Robert E. Lee was right, it is a good thing that war is so terrible. In this particular case, it isn’t just that war is hell, but this war is on hell. And for hell. Each party in this war is wallowing in their own hell. Once they understand that they are all in it together, they are finally able to break free. Together.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 1-15-16

Sunday Post

This was a weird week. Somewhere around Sunday I realized that I wasn’t getting anywhere reading serious books, even the ones I wanted to read, and just scrapped the whole idea. I basically hit a slump and just needed to read stuff for fun. So I did. I picked up some stuff that I’ve been hoping to read but never got a round tuit, and had a blast. Obviously I need to be way more careful about stacking up too many of one thing, unless it’s for fun.

I enjoyed Clean Sweep so much that I couldn’t resist reading the whole series in one fell swoop. Or one swell foop. So Sweep in Peace is coming up this week and One Fell Sweep either next week or the week after. If you haven’t read the series, just let me say that it definitely lives up to its rave reviews.

clean sweep by ilona andrewsBlog Recap:

A- Review: The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman
B+ Review: The Piper by Charles Todd
A- Review: Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood
A- Review: Justice Calling by Annie Bellet
A Review: Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews
Stacking the Shelves (218)

best of 2016 giveaway hopComing Next Week:

Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews (review)
Jeepers It’s January Giveaway Hop
Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang (blog tour review)
Best of 2016 Giveaway Hop
Lord of the Privateers by Stephanie Laurens (blog tour review)

Stacking the Shelves (218)

Stacking the Shelves

After the holidays, all the publishers came back to Netgalley and Edelweiss with a vengeance. It’s gone from famine to feast in the blink of an eye. And I finally decided to seriously dive into some series that I missed, so lots of library books and a few buys from Amazon really round out the week.

For Review:
The Forests of Dru (Sorcerous Moons #4) by Jeffe Kennedy
Forever a Hero (Carsons of Mustang Creek #3) by Linda Lael Miller
On the Sickle’s Edge by Neville D. Frankel
The Piper (Inspector Ian Rutledge #19.5) by Charles Todd (review)
The Rising by Heather Graham and Jon Land
Unfathomed (Treasure Hunter Security #4) by Anna Hackett
Wolves’ Triad (Cascadia Wolves #2) by Lauren Dane

Purchased from Amazon:
One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles #3) by Ilona Andrews
Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles #2) by Ilona Andrews

Borrowed from the Library:
Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels #3) by Ilona Andrews
Proof of Guilt (Inspector Ian Rutledge #15) by Charles Todd
The Red Door (Inspector Ian Rutledge #12) by Charles Todd
A Test of Wills (Inspector Ian Rutledge #1) by Charles Todd