Monday, December 28, 2015

Judging by the Cover #2 - Kinuko Y. Craft

Welcome to Judging by the Cover, where I showcase artists that I've discovered through book cover art. 






Kinuko Y. Craft has a unique and enchanting style of art that is immediately recognizable. Her work is so detailed, from ringlets and delicate tendrils in hair, to braiding on clothing and flower petals, there is an ethereal quality to her paintings that is hers alone. 




I am mostly familiar with her from the covers of Patricia McKillip novels which I've shown here, but she has also been commissioned to work for Time, National Geographic and The New York Times. Other book covers include Stephen King, Andre Norton and Isaac Asimov, just to name a few.

In addition to those lofty credits, she has illustrated quite a few fairytale retellings, the newest is Beauty and the Beast through Harper Collins which should be out in 2016.

You can look at one of her paintings many times and always find a new detail that you had not noticed before. 

Visit Kinuko Craft's Website for more details on her life and work.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wishlist Wednesday #12 - Rook by Sharon Cameron

Wishlist Wednesday is a book blog hop where we will post about one book per week that has been on our wishlist for some time, or just added (it's entirely up to you), that we can't wait to get off the wishlist and onto our wonderful shelves.

It is hosted by Pen to Paper, just click on the button to the left if you'd like to join us!


From Goodreads:

History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

I really enjoyed listening to Sharon Cameron's The Dark Unwinding and I'm looking forward to the next one as well.  This is a stand alone that also sounds interesting!

What books are on your wishlist?  

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Holiday Grind (Coffeehouse Mystery #8) - Cleo Coyle

From the back:

When Village Blend manager and head barista Clare Cosi finds a red-suited body in the snow, she adds solving Santa's slaying to her coffeehouse menu.

Clare's grown very fond of Alfred Glockner, the part-time comic and genuinely jolly charity Santa who's been using her coffeehouse as a place to warm his mittens. When she finds him gunned down in a nearby alley, a few subtle clues convince her that Alfred's death was something more than the tragic result of a random mugging -- the conclusion of the police.

With Clare's boyfriend, NYPD detective Mike Quinn, distracted by a cold case of his own, and ex-husband Matt "investigating" this year's holiday lingerie catalogs (an annual event), Clare charges ahead solo and discovers this Santa had a list that he was checking twice -- and the folks on it were not very nice. Then someone tries to ice Clare, and she really gets steamed...


This is a fun series. You can always count on Clare to get herself into trouble while piecing together who-done-it. This installment also includes around 80 pages of recipes and coffee facts.  Things get a bit rocky for Clare and Quinn, and her ex, Matt, seems to be the one coming to her rescue every time she's in a fix.  Clare's ex-mother-in-law, Madame, is force to be reckoned with, and always has something up her sleeve and connections to everyone.  She is always so tickled to get involved in helping Clare investigate! The coffee house setting makes me wish I had a Village Blend nearby and coffee trade facts that are included are interesting, fleshing out the theme, and making it more immersive than just knowing it is the setting.  I really wish some of the Fa-la-la-la Latte flavors they came up with were real!


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wishlist Wednesday #11 - The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris

Wishlist Wednesday is a book blog hop where we will post about one book per week that has been on our wishlist for some time, or just added (it's entirely up to you), that we can't wait to get off the wishlist and onto our wonderful shelves.

It is hosted by Pen to Paper, just click on the button to the left if you'd like to join us!


From Goodreads:

The novel is a brilliant first-person narrative of the rise and fall of the Norse gods - retold from the point of view of the world's ultimate trickster, Loki. It tells the story of Loki's recruitment from the underworld of Chaos, his many exploits on behalf of his one-eyed master, Odin, through to his eventual betrayal of the gods and the fall of Asgard itself. Using her life-long passion for the Norse myths, Joanne Harris has created a vibrant and powerful fantasy novel.

Loki, that’s me.

Loki, the Light-Bringer, the misunderstood, the elusive, the handsome and modest hero of this particular tissue of lies. Take it with a pinch of salt, but it’s at least as true as the official version, and, dare I say it, more entertaining.

So far, history, such as it is, has cast me in a rather unflattering role.

Now it’s my turn to take the stage.

With his notorious reputation for trickery and deception, and an ability to cause as many problems as he solves, Loki is a Norse god like no other. Demon-born, he is viewed with deepest suspicion by his fellow gods who will never accept him as one of their own and for this he vows to take his revenge.

From his recruitment by Odin from the realm of Chaos, through his years as the go-to man of Asgard, to his fall from grace in the build-up to Ragnarok, this is the unofficial history of the world’s ultimate trickster.

I have not read anything by this author yet, but have several friends that have and enjoyed her.  I think this is a bit different from her usual maybe, I'm not sure.  But it's Loki!  I'm sure I'll be picturing Tom Hiddleston as I read, unless the voice is just too different.  I like reading established mythologies or legends from the point of view of the villain, Morgan Le Fay, Mordred, etc.  I guess I just have a soft spot for them!

What books are on your wishlist?  

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Doctor Who: The Drosten's Curse by A. L. Kennedy

From the Back:

"I shall make you the jewel at the heart of the universe."

Something distinctly odd is going on in Arbroath. It could be to do with golfers being dragged down into the bunkers at the Fetch Brothers’ Golf Spa Hotel, never to be seen again. It might be related to the strange twin grandchildren of the equally strange Mrs Fetch--owner of the hotel and fascinated with octopuses. It could be the fact that people in the surrounding area suddenly know what others are thinking, without anyone saying a word.

Whatever it is, the Doctor is most at home when faced with the distinctly odd. With the help of Fetch Brothers' Junior Receptionist Bryony, he'll get to the bottom of things.  Just so long as he does so in time to save Bryony from quite literally losing her mind, and the entire world from destruction.

Because something huge, ancient, and alien lies hidden beneath the ground, and it's starting to wake up...


The Celtic knotwork on the cover caught my eye, that it was Doctor Who, an interesting premise and that it was the 4th Doctor, who was my first, all led me to choose this one from Blogging for Books. A. L. Kennedy really delivered for me, because having finished it, I now want to go watch all of the 4th Doctor episodes! Usually what that means is that the book characterization and feel really worked for me and I'm not ready to be done yet! But alas I have finished it and it's time for me to tell you how fun it was.  It was super FUN!

The feel of what I consider the trademark of Doctor Who for me was portrayed very well, that he's such an intense entity that it's difficult for him to stay serious for long, because that's just too much, too painful and too dangerous.  That way lies madness.  So the pressure is relieved through ridiculousness, but very intelligent silliness, and sometimes he's difficult to follow because his mind is just working too quickly and too deeply to keep up with.  He's also pretty impatient of us poor slow humans, and other aliens, but pretty fond of us all too.

Bryony and Putta remind me a bit of Eleven's companions Amy and Rory, and are a cute, bumbling addition to the Doctor's team.  The Tardis is also portrayed as having a mind of its own and how Bryony and Putta were getting different feelings from it just speaks well for the author's characterization in my opinion. 

Doctor Who is a great combo of fun, action and a message, in this case love conquering hate and fear, and Kennedy does a fantastic job of capturing that spirit in this novel.  I enjoyed it, and definitely recommend it to Doctor Who fans.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Aunt Dimity's Christmas (Aunt Dimity #5) by Nancy Atherton

From the back cover:

Lori Shepherd can hardly wait to celebrate Christmas this year with her husband, Bill, and their twin sons in the beautiful cottage willed to her by Aunt Dimity. But then Lori makes a disturbing discovery beneath the cottage's snow-covered lilac bushes -- the body of a mysterious stranger, barely alive. Lori puts her plans on hold to team up with Julian Bright -- a devilishly attractive Roman Catholic priest -- and seek out the tramp's identity. Their adventure takes Lori and Julian from abandoned World War II airfields to homeless shelters -- places where the Christmas star shines dimly, if at all. With Aunt Dimity's ghostly guidance, Lori unveils the tragic secret that led the stranger to her door, and must confront painful truths about herself and the true meaning of a perfect family Christmas.

Once again I must sing Nancy Atheron's praises with her Aunt Dimity series. The way she crafts a mystery, it's so much more than just figuring out the answer, it's the journey of self-discovery at the same time. In this case a reminder of the true spirit of Christmas, which we ALL need as we run that race to get it all done in time.

Lori wants to uphold all the traditions that makes it feel like the holidays to her, but instead finds herself involved in discovering the identity of the tramp, after a little prodding from Aunt Dimity.  The village Nativity Play seems like a ship out of control as well when Lori's father-in-law must step in to fill Bill's place while he is gone and everyone has their own interpretation of how things should go.  Personalities clash, and the worst comes out in everyone, until they are reminded of what's really important, not the trappings of the season, but the spirit of giving and love. Then, like most of us when shown how selfish we were being without even realizing it, they step up to the plate in a big way, and somehow everything works out.  We also get to meet another of Reginald's "cousins" which is always a poignant treat.

I can't recommend this series enough, I feel like Finch is just right around the corner and waiting for me to visit!  Check out the Aunt Dimity's World Website for more info.  I'm so glad I have so many more books to look forward to!

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Wishlist Wednesday #10 - The Conjuror's Riddle (The Inventor's Secret #2) by Andrea Cremer

Wishlist Wednesday is a book blog hop where we will post about one book per week that has been on our wishlist for some time, or just added (it's entirely up to you), that we can't wait to get off the wishlist and onto our wonderful shelves.

It is hosted by Pen to Paper, just click on the button to the left if you'd like to join us!


From Goodreads:

The Revolution is beginning–and Charlotte may be on the wrong side.

In this sequel to The Inventor's Secret, Charlotte and her companions escape the British Empire, but they haven't left danger behind. In fact, if they go against the revolutionaries, they face even greater peril.

Charlotte leads her group of exiles west, plunging into a wild world of shady merchants and surly rivermen on the way to New Orleans. But as Charlotte learns more about the revolution she has championed, she wonders if she's on the right side after all. Charlotte and her friends get to know the mystical New Orleans bayou and deep into the shadowy tunnels below the city–the den of criminals, assassins and pirates–Charlotte must decide if the revolution's goals justify their means, or if some things, like the lives of her friends, are too sacred to sacrifice.

This alternate-history adventure series asks the questions: What would have happened if America had lost the Revolutionary War? And what would people be willing to do to finally taste freedom?

I must have found The Inventor's Secret not long after it came out because it seems like I've been waiting for a long time for #2.  But it's finally here just back in November, so hopefully I'll get to it soon!  I like alternate history stories.

What books are on your wishlist?  

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Rest You Merry (Peter Shandy #1) by Charlotte MacLeod




From Goodreads:

Professor Peter Shandy finally succumbs to Jemima Ames, Chairperson for Balaclava Agricultural College's major fundraiser, the Grand Illumination. He buries his small brick house under an avalanche of tawdry plastic and escapes on a sea cruise. But he returns to find Jemima dead on his living room floor and a murder to solve.


Poor Peter, he thought he'd pulled a fast one on the overbearing wife of his good friend when he finally caves to her demands of Christmas decorating, goes completely overboard, and then skips town for the holidays before he can be discovered. Only nothing works out as he planned, and his little joke ends up with him being responsible for solving her murder. I really enjoyed Peter's character, he's a smidge curmudgeon, but also unexpectedly mischevious. I kept imagining a middle aged aged Ian McKellan or Peter O'Toole, even though the character is not British, it was that twinkle they get when they're up to no good that made me smile in imagining.  There is also a dash of romance for our scholarly bachelor, if he can keep out of trouble long enough!

This is my first Charlotte MacLeod read and I give it a definite recommend for holiday reading and cozy mystery lovers.  I'm looking forward to seeing what trouble Peter gets into next!

Saturday, December 05, 2015

My To Be Read List - December 2015 - Here There Be Dragons!




So, Christmas happened, and all the lead up to Christmas, and because Christmas was happening, reading wasn't happening. I'm a little over halfway in His Majesty's Dragon, and I do love it! The dragon reminds me of a cross between Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon, and Tom Hiddleston. LOL! Because he can talk, and he's with the British. He's super polite, and wants to please his Captain, but does occasionally assert his own independence when questions of duty or service come up. King and Country don't come first for him, no matter what Laurence (his captain) says. I have no doubt I will continue to love it, so I'll post a full review when I'm finally done! In the meantime, I do highly recommend it if you like dragons mixed in with your history!

****************
 And the winner by 70%/30%/0% is....


I've been looking forward to these for awhile and I had predicted to myself that's how this vote would go, but I didn't expect it to be by quite so much, and with poor De LeSangre not getting any love!  It's okay, I'll still read him someday. ;)  But for now, dragons to the ready!  We fly at dawn! :D

*****************

Welcome to my December 2015 edition of My To Be Read List, hosted by Michelle @ Because Reading. This is a monthly meme where we offer up 3 choices from our TBR pile for our readers to pick from to help us make the super hard decision of "what do I read next?" a little easier and to whittle away at the ever growing TBR Mountain! 

Theme: Here There Be Dragons! Feel free to leave me a comment and tell me what you chose and why.

The poll will stay open through Friday 12/11 , and I'll update this post with the winning book on Saturday 12/12, then post a review on the last Saturday of the month, 12/26.

If you think this sounds fun and would like to join (the more the merrier, because we love voting!) please head on over to Because Reading where Michelle lays out the rules for us!

And the choices are...





From Goodreads:

Here, at last, are the confessions of one Peter DelaSangre, who tells of his life on an island off the coast of Miami...of his lonely balancing act between the worlds of humans and dragons...and of the overwhelming need that gives his life purpose: To find a woman of his own kind...



From Goodreads:

Set in a world where dragons--the source of all magic--are fading from existence, this is the story of Jaylor, a journeyman wizard, and Brevelan, a young witchwoman. Faced with a seemingly impossible task, Jaylor and Brevelan must find out who is behind the attempt to destroy the dragons before all magic is forever drained from their homeland.
From Goodreads:

Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors ride mighty fighting dragons, bred for size or speed. When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes the precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Captain Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature.

Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France’s own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte’s boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.


#MyTBRL

Thursday, December 03, 2015

2016 New Release Challenge



I love the ideas of reading challenges, but have discovered that the specific ones for genre, or series, etc. are generally too much for me. I'm a mood reader, and a bit contrary, and as soon as I feel like I HAVE to read something, it becomes the thing I want to read the least.  I'll be sticking to the Goodreads challenge, and giving myself a low number, that worked out really well in 2015. I felt like I enjoyed my reading more than I had in a couple years, with no pressure.

I'm also going to give this 2016 New Release Challenge a go, because I want to try and stay up with some new books, as well as working on series that I'm way behind on.  Since this isn't specific and I'm already looking forward to some new releases in series that I am caught up on, plus some new starts, I think it will be perfect!

If this sounds good to you and you'd like to join up, head on over to (un)Conventional Book Views to see all the details!

I will stick with level 1, New Release Newbie, and try for one new release per month.

Here are a few that I'm looking forward to, but I always reserve the right to change my mind!


1/5/2016
1/26/2016
2/16/2016
2/23/2016
3/1/2016
4/5/2016
4/5/2016
4/26/2016
5/3/2016

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Wishlist Wednesday #9 - Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Wishlist Wednesday is a book blog hop where we will post about one book per week that has been on our wishlist for some time, or just added (it's entirely up to you), that we can't wait to get off the wishlist and onto our wonderful shelves.

It is hosted by Pen to Paper, just click on the button to the left if you'd like to join us!


From Goodreads:

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

I've been reading Susan's Something Strange and Deadly series and really enjoying it, so I'm looking forward to this new series of hers!

What books are on your wishlist?  
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