Book 11/80 - 'Life went on even after desolation, not always in the same way, but still it could be beautiful, couldn't it?' ~ Swift and the Black Dog by Ginn Hale (from the Charmed and Dangerous anthology)
Charmed and Dangerous is a collection of 10 M/M urban fantasy and paranornal romance short stories. Jordan Castillo Price edited this anthology and when I saw the author lineup, I immediately made grabby hands. I mean JCP, Ginn Hale and KJ Charles in one volume? Yes, please! .
With one glaring exception (sorry, Charlie Cochet!), the quality of the shorts included here ranged from good to excellent. Here's my brief rundown of all 10 stories:
Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford - Intriguing world but the romance has no buildup whatsoever. I think this would work better as a full-length novel. ~ .5
Swift and the Black Dog by Ginn Hale - This felt like a complete world with an interesting magical system. Jack Swift is a total badass. ~ .5
A Queer Trade by KJ Charles - So fluffy! Ned and Crispin are adorable together. The magical problem is suitably creepy. ~ .5
Magically Delicious by Nicole Kimberling - It's nice to revisit Keith and Gunther from The Irregulars. Also, that leprechaun is hilarious. ~
Everyone's Afraid of Clowns by Jordan Castillo Price - I love the little peek into Vic's teenage years. ~
The Thirteenth Hex by Jordan L. Hawk - I love the geometry-based hexmaking system in this. Would love to read more. ~
The Soldati Prince by Charlie Cochet - Awkward narrative, stilted dialogue and overdone plot. What the hell happened? I've read better fanfic than this. ~ .5
One Hex Too Many by Lou Harper - Worldbuilding is good but this feels like an intro chapter. Still, I would like to explore this world a bit more. ~ .5
Josh of the Damned vs the Bathroom of Doom by Andrea Speed - I liked the humor and banter, but I think you need to be familiar with the series to fully appreciate this. ~ .5
The Trouble with Hexes by Astrid Amara - Interesting hexmaking and hexbreaking system, but the romance felt flat. ~ .5
Overall rating: /5
This is my first book for #BPLovesYou2017
Book 10/80 - 'They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it is not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.' ~ Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
This is Granny Weatherwax's first appearance. She is fierce! I've read Carpe Jugulum years ago--the only Witches novel that I've read before this--and I can see the difference in Granny's characterization. She is a badass through and through tho. Esk seems to be older than her 9 years. I keep thinking that she's 16 or 17 and then she says she's 9 and it disorients me because she talks and acts like she's way older. While I wouldn't rate this as Pratchett's best, there's still a lot of good stuff here, like headology, the Zoons and their Tribal Liar (I super love this concept!), and the very first female wizard. My rating: /5
Book 9/80 - 'To Sherlock Holmes, she is always the woman.' ~ A Scandal in Bohemia by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
I kicked off my Holmes Canon reread with A Scandal in Bohemia, which is the first Holmes story to appear in the Strand Magazine. In this short, a royal client engaged Holmes to steal a photo from the actress Irene Adler. This Holmes story is unusual in that 1- there is no mystery involved and 2- Holmes was outwitted by someone: a rare occurence. That it's by a woman was icing on the cake. My rating: .5/5
I loved reading Les Klinger's annotated edition because it's so full of historical details and popular theories by Holmes scholars. It also included inconsistencies and errors within the Canon. It's all very interesting and informative. So what I'm going to do for every Holmes Canon reread post is to include one or 2 of the interesting things I learned from the annotations. Sharing is caring, am I right?
Fun fact 1: English currency at the time period is explained thus: "The ordinary British Gold coins are the sovereign or pound, equal to 20 shillings, and the half sovereign. The Silver coins are the crown (5 shillings), the half-crown, the double florin (4 shillings; seldom seen), the florin (2 shillings), the shilling, and the six-penny and three-penny pieces. The Bronze coinage consists of the penny, of which 12 makes a shilling, the halfpenny, and the farthing." - Are you as confused as I am? Good. I would hate to be alone in my confusion.
Fun fact 2: In England, barristers are the class of lawyers who are permitted to appear in the superior courts. Every barrister must be a member of one of the four ancient societies called Inns of Court: Lincoln's Inn, the Inner and Middle Temples, and Gray's Inn. - I always wondered if a barrister is a special kind of lawyer. Now I know. .
I leave you with these 2 pieces of trivia. Happy Sunday!
Book 8/80 - 'To love or to wither. To cherish or to destroy. Their world, together, or the world at large.' ~ Enemies of the State by Tal Bauer
As the lead of the Secret Service Presidential detail, Agent Ethan Reichenbach wasn't supposed to get close to newly-elected President Jack Spiers. What started out as friendship slowly changed to something more. But Jack is straight and the President--a President who's dealing with a widespread plot to destabilize the government while juggling alliances and commitments with other nations. Is there a chance for love here?
Where do I even start with this book? It's got everything I want and more: action, romance, espionage, political intrigue, black ops, flirty banter and friendship. In a word, this book is awesome. It's a perfect mix of political intrigue and romance with a side of Secret Service comradeship. I liked the slow burn of Jack and Ethan's romance. It felt very organic. While the first half read like a combination of The Bodyguard and The American President, the 2nd half was a full on Black Hawk Down/24 mashup. It was all action all the way. The last few chapters were so intense and I couldn't stop reading because everything was happening so fast and it was all so exciting. This is definitely one of the best M/M novels I've read. My rating: /5
Spreading some Pratchett love this lovely Sunday afternoon. I wanted to continue the Watch books, but unfortunately I only have the Gollancz hardbacks with me because my Discworld paperbacks are in storage. So I decided that it's time to properly meet Granny Weatherwax and I started Equal Rites a few days ago. (The one and only Witches book I've read is Carpe Jugulum years ago.) Anyway, if you would notice, I have a fantastic Guards! Guards! necklace. I won it from the ladies at @thediscworlddenizens. It's so cute! It even has actual pages. And now I'm off to catch up on my reading. Have a great Sunday, guys!
Book 7/80 - 'We are powerless in the face of evil. No, no, that's not true. We are powerless when we wait for other people to act on our behalf. Yes, that's it. The truly powerful man is the man who stands alone.' ~ Smaller and Smaller Circles by FH Batacan
When a boy's mutilated body was found in the Payatas garbage dump, the NBI enlisted the help of Father Gus Saenz, the country's top forensic anthropologist, and his colleague Father Jerome Lucero, a psychologist. They are soon on the trail of a serial killer and they must race to catch him before he kills agan.
The mystery plot of this novel is one of the neatest, most linear mysteries that I've read. Plot, clues, evidence, solution--all neatly laid out with nary a red herring in sight. While the mystery is compelling and made me compulsively turn pages, it's nothing that I haven't read in a dozen other crime thrillers. What made this a 5 star read is the superb social commentary. Any Filipino who will read this book will find themselves nodding in agreement with the novel's portrayal of government bureacracy, the Catholic church, the media and Philippine high society. It is very accurate and recognizable.
The characters are well-drawn. Both Father Saenz and Father Lucero are good priests. More importantly, they are both good men. So is Director Lastimosa of the NBI. They were determined to give the victims justice and to prevent other murders despite limited resources and government red tape and I wish there are more men like them because this country really needs it.
There are 2 chapters that imprinted themselves in my mind and heart. Both featured the victims' mothers. It's a different kind of pain to witness a mother's quiet sorrow over her departed child. Most memorable for me is that interlude when Mrs. Bansuy brought turon to Father Saenz as thanks. It's like a phantom hand reached out and slowly squeezed my heart. Overall, this is a very well-written mystery that goes to the heart of Philippine society. My rating: /5