Midsummer’s Bottom

Midsummer’s Bottom by Darren Dash  description:

The Midsummer Players stage an outdoor version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream every year on Midsummer’s Eve, in a glade in a forest. The actors have a wonderful time, even though they’re dreadful. Audience members appreciate the effort they put in and applaud politely, but almost never attend more than once. Except for…

…the fey folk!

All of the fairies named in the play are obliged to attend every performance, due to a deal that they struck back in the day with a mischievous Master Shakespeare. In an attempt to disband the irksome Midsummer Players on the eve of their twentieth anniversary, Oberon and Puck hire a human agent of chaos to infiltrate the actors’ ranks and set them against one another by focusing on secret attractions and grudges that have been lying dormant up to now. Sparks will fly, and everyone will come to blows, but it’s all executed with a wink and a grin, and there will be more smiles than tears by the end. At least, that’s the plan…

Inspired by the Bard’s immortal play (which it also weaves into its plot), this light-hearted Comedy is a novel in the spirit of the movies Smiles Of A Summer Night and A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy, and the musical A Little Night Music. For lovers of Shakespeare, chaos and fairies everywhere.

Midsummer’s Bottom  4 STARS

I don’t even know how to begin to review this. It was not at all the book I was expecting it to be, though I mean that in a good way. Every moment was a surprise where anything was possible and the ending was anybody’s guess. It turned out a lot more erotic that I would’ve guessed, though the final line of the book description should’ve given that away, but not too absurd when you consider the plot involves real life fairy dust and a man that considers himself an agent of chaos. But within all the absurdity, and the fact that real fairies appear from the Feyland, and Puck is indeed out making mischief, the characters were a varied and interesting bunch that brought real issues to the story. People in marriages where the spark has long since died, those unhappy with their lot in life, and more that are just trying to figure out their place in this world. All of which is sucked into a horrible rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is being challenged by the very fairies that inspired it. While I wouldn’t consider it a retelling per se, it definitely holds to the magical idea of the original play, more so by how lyrical Dash’s writing is. Not just counting the scenes in Feyland which are wonderfully written in the form of Shakespeare’s plays, but even just the main parts of the story between the events of the people were very well put together. It made for a story that I couldn’t stop reading for having to know how it would all come to an end.

Advertisements

The King’s Spinster Bride

The King’s Spinster Bride  by  Ruby Dixon  description:

Sixteen years ago, Princess Halla of Yshrem saved the life of an eight-year-old barbarian boy and watched her kingdom fall to ruin, all on the same day. Now, she is a forgotten spinster in a quiet temple, living her days out in solitude. The last of her line, she exists in the hope that she has been forgotten, for to be remembered by the enemy is to be certain death.

One person has not forgotten her. Mathior, now twenty-four, is the fierce warrior king of the Cyclopae. Yshrem is in turmoil and his advisors have a suggestion – kill the last remaining member of the royal line, and there will be no rivals for the throne.

Mathior has a different idea. He’s loved Halla for sixteen long years, and it’s time he claimed her as his wife. But a barbarian’s wedding customs are unlike any other…

The King’s Spinster Bride  5 STARS

While I know this book was written in conjunction with other authors writing in the same “series” of sorts, I really hope Dixon chooses to write more in this world. As usual she creates such a detailed and interesting place that I want to be able to return again and again. It’s a fairly short story, but there’s a lot within and moves along at a good pace. Halla is a very regal woman, and definitely not some weeping wailing princess that needs some prince to save her. While she isn’t a warrior, she’s very dignified and meets life head on and whatever it has to throw at her. But as Halla is exactly from the sort of kingdom you’d imagine with castles and crowns, Mathior is from a barbaric tribe with customs they unwaveringly hold to and ultimately ends up bringing the two together. It was definitely an interesting wedding that had me blushing the whole time, and I’m not sure if she did write more how much it could vary due to their customs, but I’d love to see what Dixon could come up with.

Monster Hunter International

Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia description:

Five days after Owen Zastava Pitt pushed his insufferable boss out of a fourteenth story window, he woke up in the hospital with a scarred face, an unbelievable memory, and a job offer.

It turns out that monsters are real. All the things from myth, legend, and B-movies are out there, waiting in the shadows. Officially secret, some of them are evil, and some are just hungry. On the other side are the people who kill monsters for a living. Monster Hunter International is the premier eradication company in the business. And now Owen is their newest recruit.

It’s actually a pretty sweet gig, except for one little problem. An ancient entity known as the Cursed One has returned to settle a centuries old vendetta. Should the Cursed One succeed, it means the end of the world, and MHI is the only thing standing in his way. With the clock ticking towards Armageddon, Owen finds himself trapped between legions of undead minions, belligerent federal agents, a cryptic ghost who has taken up residence inside his head, and the cursed family of the woman he loves.

Business is good… Welcome to Monster Hunter International.

BOOK 1: Monster Hunter International  4 STARS

This was an exciting book to say the least. It had a good mix of monsters they went up against, though the main ones were vampires. But even they were written with some interesting twists so that even the experienced hunters within the story got surprised at times. The characters altogether were a great bunch, to a degree they’re a lot alike to be drawn to this kind of work, but they each had their own backgrounds and personalities that helped thoroughly develop the book. However, the best part to me was the Old Man in Owen’s head. He was a spunky old guy that made life interesting for Owen, but truly gave more intensity to the story with his own past experiences and fear that drives him to try and prepare Owen for what’s to come. Honestly, my only complaint about this book is Correia’s need to describe every gun they come across in great detail, and every character in this book is loaded down with guns. That’s a lot of wasted space on gun descriptions.

Vorpal Blade

BOOK 1: Into the Looking Glass  by  John Ringo

Vorpal Blade   description:

The sequel to Into the Looking Glass. William Weaver, PhD. and SEAL Chief Adams are back and Bill got himself a ship! The former SSBN Nebraska has been converted, using mostly garage mechanics and baling wire, into a warp ship ready to go “out there.” But as everyone knows, the people who really are going to bear the brunt are the poor Security guys, Force Recon Marines who are kept in the dark and fed manure all day. That is until they land on an alien planet, get partially wiped out and then load back up again. Ranging in topics from the best gun to kill armored space monsters to particle physics to cosmology to health and beauty tips, Vorpal Blade is a return to the “good old days” of SF when the science problems were intractable and the beasts were ugly. The monkeys are out in the space lanes and ready to rock. As soon as they get another roll of duct tape.

BOOK 2: Vorpal Blade   5 STARS

I loved that this shows how the world has evolved since humans have encountered aliens. More so, that it wasn’t some endless panic, but an easy acceptance. They’d destroyed the evil ones, and the good ones, Adars, are accepted into society. Especially considering how the Adar’s technology has greatly advanced life on Earth. However, the main story is the spaceship they’ve built with said technology meshed with good ol’ human rigging, and them going into space to find what else may be out there. Ringo does a great job with making these people normal in the most bizarre environments. They’re marines that you might meet on any base, and yet now they’re among the stars meeting new aliens and fighting new battles. The best part was the pranks they play, and the way they deal with any who don’t quite get along with the others is pretty humorous. It is a great sequel that in no way lags, and keeps the adventurous, exciting, new feel that made the first one so great, because this isn’t rehashing the same old thing even as they are still hunting down Dreen. But that is just a small part of the greater story line. If you liked the first one you definitely need to check out the second.

The Warlord of Mars

BOOK 1: A Princess of Mars  by  Edgar Rice Burroughs

BOOK 2: The Gods of Mars

The Warlord of Mars   description:

John Carter risks everything to rescue his wife, Princess Dejah Thoris, from the clutches of his evil adversaries, but he is always just one step behind! His battles cover the face of the red planet, as his quest carries him ultimately to the mysterious northern pole. Will this civilization, submerged in ice, prove fatal to our hero? This is the third of eleven in the popular ‘Martian’ series by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

BOOK 3: The Warlord of Mars  4 STARS

In a way, this completes the journey that began in the first book. He’s still searching for his wife, and now her father and grandfather. I love that we have gotten to see all of Mars, and the different races, and what their lives are like. What makes these books so great is that John Carter, is just himself. He’s the greatest swordsman of 2 worlds, he can defeat any foe, and has taken on armies. But he knows he’s not much beyond a fighting man. He has his smarts in coming up with rescue plans, but he’s not exactly made out to be the smartest man there ever was. He tends to just be lucky, and often shows himself as being a bit ditzy. Like not understanding why Dejah Thoris doesn’t recognize him when he’s in disguise, while at the same time completely accepting that no one else around her recognizes him either. He’s a fighting man, and he does whatever it takes to save the woman he loves, but he’s also someone who takes others advise, and seeks help from those willing to give it. It really makes him out to be more realistic than you expect, and a hero that you can’t help but root for time and again as he fights for all that is good and right in the world, and thus completely changes this world he’s fallen into forever.

Archangel Errant

BOOK 1: Oracle of Philadelphia by Elizabeth Corrigan

BOOK 2: Raising Chaos

Archangel Errant  description:

Divine intervention isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Gabriel didn’t expect his return to Heaven to be filled with trumpets and celebration, but he thought he would do more than sit at Michael’s side, listening to endless catalogs of unfulfilled prayers. He’s tried blending into every aspect of Heavenly life, but he can’t help but feel that the constantly praying Faithful and flower-dispensing Handmaidens lack the motivation to do any true good in the world. Some days, he longs for nothing more than to return to Earth and tell his beloved Cassia how he feels about her.

When Heaven is suddenly attacked, all the angels become trapped in their own nightmares. With Michael gone on an angelic mission, Gabriel must rally the remaining seraphim to rouse the sleeping angels and discover who seeks to take the agents of Heaven out of the celestial battle. All fingers point to Bedlam, but Gabriel can’t believe the ex-demon would threaten his salvation so soon after gaining it.

With few people he trusts, Gabriel must rely on all the lessons he learned on Earth to save Heaven, Bedlam, and maybe even himself.

BOOK 3: Archangel Errant  3 STARS

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and it was an interesting insight into the purpose of the angels. What they care for and what they feared. Oddly enough, considering what the series is about, this is the first book that actually dealt with the religion itself. The previous had been more about the stories and what really happened, but this one delved into whether or not God is real and the faith of the people. However, the real thing that moves the story is the moments between Michael and Khet. More than anything, it was finally getting to see why Michael acts the way he does, and why he hates Khet. Yet, even as I enjoyed it, this book read like one of those episodes of a show that is nothing but flashbacks of how everyone met each other. It allows you to better understand the characters, and it was at least new information, but it left the plot itself rather thin and slow to move along. What bothered me the most though, was we never find out why Khet went to that hospital. It’s a loose thread, and I feel like Michael being driven mad because it wasn’t pulled in with the rest of the weave. Paltry complaints aside, it was still a good story and works well as a possible set up for the next in the series, which really needs to come out soon.

Raising Chaos

BOOK 1: Oracle of Philadelphia by Elizabeth Corrigan

Raising Chaos   description:

When good fails, chaos rises to the challenge.

The daily life of a chaos demon is delightfully sinful—overindulging in Sri Lankan delicacies, trespassing on private beaches in Hawaii, and getting soused at the best angel bar on the planet. But when Bedlam learns that the archdemon Azrael has escaped from the Abyss in order to wreak vengeance against the person who sent her there—Bedlam’s best friend, Khet—he can’t sit idly by.

Only one relic possesses the power to kill Khet, who suffers immortality at Lucifer’s request: the mythical Spear of Destiny, which pierced Christ’s side at His crucifixion. Neither angel nor demon has seen the Spear in two thousand years, but Azrael claims to know its location. Bedlam has no choice but to interpret woefully outdated clues and race her to its ancient resting place.

His quest is made nearly impossible by the interference of a persnickety archivist, Keziel—his angelic ex—and a dedicated cult intent on keeping the Spear out of the wrong hands. But to Bedlam, “wrong” is just an arbitrary word, and there’s no way he’s letting Khet die without a fight.

BOOK 2: Raising Chaos  4 STARS

This was an interesting switch up from the first, which was mostly about Khet and learning about her past and her journey to save a man’s soul. In this book we still have her trying to save another life, and wanting to help people, but that’s a smaller part of the story. In fact her part of this is almost incongruent against the larger battle between good and evil that is going on elsewhere. Of course, as the description shows, it’s mostly about Bedlam and his attempts to protect Khet. We get to see a new side of him, and he grows and is able to gain some insight into himself and his relationship with Khet, which I love for how it’s not romantic and yet they’re deeply connected to one another in a way they can’t even explain. However, Corrigan doesn’t just give you this little adventure, she continues to expand the universe. Delving into the past even more to show how the rebellion in heaven was caused, and once more interweaving her world with the stories of the Bible we know so well. This is no slap dash idea, she has made something so real with so many layers that it’s a world you can’t help but immerse yourself in. All I want to do now is grab the next to see how it’ll all turn out.

Oracle of Philadelphia

Oracle of Philadelphia by Elizabeth Corrigan description

Carrie works at a diner in South Philadelphia, dispensing advice to humans and angels wise enough to seek her counsel. But there are some problems that even the best advice can’t solve.

Her latest supplicant, Sebastian, is unique among those who have sought her aid. He sold his soul to a demon in exchange for his sister’s life, but his heart remains pure.

Carrie has lived for millennia with the knowledge that her immortality is due to the suffering of others, and she cannot bear to see another good man damned when it is within her power to prevent it.

In order to renegotiate his contract, Carrie must travel into the depths of hell and parley with the demons that control its pathways. As the cost of her journey rises, Carrie must determine how much she is willing to sacrifice to save one good soul.

BOOK 1 Oracle of Philadelphia 5 STARS

This is only the second book I’ve read by Corrigan, but if there’s one thing I’ve realized it’s that her stories are endlessly surprising. I expected a huge battle between good an evil, with her probably falling for the lost soul she’s fighting to save. Nope. As much as I love a good romance, it’s not a crutch Corrigan relies on. There are moments dealing with Carrie’s wanting someone to be with, and even dealing with the relationships within the angels and demons. The story itself, though, was about Carrie finally finding something worth risking everything for, and dealing with the weight her past has put upon her. Corrigan does a great job of telling the tale of someone who is several thousands of years old, giving flashbacks of moments that tie into what is happening right now, and develops the characters thoroughly. My favorite of them is Bedlam. He’s a demon, but one who questions whether that means he truly is evil or if he has the ability to choose to be good, and adds a bit of humor to a rather serious tale. However, that there was what made this story so wonderful, because the lines aren’t clear cut. The angels have their struggles and the demons aren’t the one deminsional bad guy. They’re beings who have a real past and real pain that has distorted their original purpose. The angel who was meant to spread the nature of abundance and giving has been twisted into the demon of gluttony. The angel of mercy now is a demon that whispers to the world that there is no hope. It gave them each something more to discover, and helped set up what will surely be a very interesting series. The fact that this is dealing with Heaven and Hell and events in the Bible, made me a little worried. Too often such stories either make it a joke or try to completely undo the foundation of the Christian faith, and this book did neither. It was interesting the events that Carrie actually lived through, and the way they supposedly actually happened. It was a realistic depiction of that time, and if that was what did happen it would in no way alter what Christians believe, and remained very respectful to such. But if you’re not Christian, this book would still be very enjoyable. It’s not preachy, it’s not trying to convert someone to Christianity, if anything it’s showing how everyone, even those who know for a fact that there is a Heaven and Hell, have the right to question those beliefs and faith and what is the real meaning of good and evil.

The Orphan and the Thief

The Orphan and the Thief  by  M. L. LeGette  description:

A middle-grade adventure that will keep you and your kids spellbound.

Toad thought it’d be easy to steal from Mr. Edward P. Owl. Unfortunately for Toad, he isn’t the best of thieves. Caught in the act, he’s in more trouble than ever before. Now to save his hide, Toad must track down five rare potion ingredients for Mr. Owl. Or else.

All Melena Snead wants is her family back, but after the Miggens Street Fire, that isn’t very likely. Orphaned and miserable, forced to work in an apothecary, she’s determined to find Milo, her missing brother. No matter what.

When Melena finds Toad ransacking her apothecary, Toad gets a nasty shock: apothecaries don’t carry Mr. Owl’s ingredients. Luckily, Melena’s willing to help, for a price.

With Melena’s pet Spit-Fire dragon and Toad’s enchanted talking beer mug, they embark on a fantastical journey, traveling the country in search of the potion ingredients. But can they gather all of them in time, what with monsters, pirates, and axe-wielding thieves? And if they do, is there an even greater danger waiting for them at the end?

The Orphan and the Thief   4 STARS

Talk about a jolly good adventure. I loved that while this is a good clean young readers book, LeGette doesn’t shy away from how evil some people can be. The threat Owl presents isn’t some silliness to be laughed off, but a real villain that would strike fear into any other supposed bad guy, such as the Ramblers. But Owl is just the beginning, the real story is the growth that Toad goes through. He goes from being a boy that just wants to impress the Ramblers on what a good thief he is, to being a guy that wants to be someone that Melena can rely on, because she’s the first real friend he’s ever had. The same goes for her, she gets to discover the world and how to be strong in her own way. And it is an amazing world, full of magic, dragons, and pirates. Each ingredient they go for is a new adventure filled with monsters and endless discoveries. Now all I can ask for is more. I want to know where Joe really came from, what’s Izzie’s back story, what is the rest of this incredible world like? A wonderful story altogether.

A Study in Scarlet

A Study in Scarlet  by  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  description:

‘There’s a scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.’

From the moment Dr. John Watson takes lodgings in Baker Street with the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes, he becomes intimately acquainted with the bloody violence and frightening ingenuity of the criminal mind.

In A Study in Scarlet, Holmes and Watson’s first mystery, the pair are summoned to a south London house where they find a dead man whose contorted face is a twisted mask of horror. The body is unmarked by violence but on the wall a mysterious word has been written in blood.

The police are baffled by the crime and its circumstances. But when Sherlock Holmes applies his brilliantly logical mind to the problem he uncovers a tragic tale of love and deadly revenge…

A Study in Scarlet   3 STARS

While I have read a few Sherlock stories, it’s been years, and so I figured I should start at the beginning. This was exactly the sort of story you expect from such a detective, and I loved how Watson and Sherlock came to be together. How they seem to get along, even as Sherlock is strange, Watson acknowledges his own quirks. The case itself was exciting right from the beginning. It was fast paced, and interesting how the police detectives were going about solving it in comparison to Sherlock’s own means. However, once it got to the part of giving background to the perpetrator the story slowed considerably. While it was nice getting a thorough account of why this man had done what he did, Doyle really dallied there a bit too long, and with far more detail to everything than there needed to be. I found myself just scanning over paragraphs describing the landscape and such, and even once we got to the final bit of the killers own testimony I was just ready to have it over and done with. Still a good start for the stories, but rather prefer the shorter tales to this.