Monday, March 28, 2022

"A Rancher's Wife" by Florence Linnington

Millie was badly burnt when she was young. Most of her left side has been permanently scarred and she was left with a limp. Her parents think of her as a cripple who cannot take care of herself and has no future. But Millie disagrees, and after corresponding with a Rancher named Otto Morris, she leaves her parents home to take a train to meet her soon to be husband, leaving behind only a letter explaining where she has gone and why. She only hopes that Otto will at least give her the chance that her parents never will… to prove that she is more than capable of doing whatever needs to be done.

I think this one is my favorite of Ms. Linnington's books so far. It has a greater depth to the story than many of the others have, allowing the characters to try to overcome a great deal more than is generally faced in a simple mail order bride tale. And those challenges were not merely the typical getting to know and trust each other, but involved other problems that may have been faced by people living in the time & place this story is based upon.

If you like mail order bride stories or have read & enjoyed any of Ms. Linnington's other books, you won't want to skip this one. In my opinion, it's her best one yet.

Monday, March 21, 2022

“Ready Player Two” written by Earnest Cline,
Read by Wil Wheaton (unabridged)

This book takes place years after the end of “Ready Player One.” In it, the “High Five” who won Haliday’s contest & claimed the vast fortune as their prize, are no longer quite as close as they had once been, though they all run the company together. When  Wade Watts discovers a device called an UNI, that Haliday had created, but never released to the public, it was up to them to determine whether or not it should be, or if it should be kept secret. The UNI allowed anyone using it to be connected to the virtual world directly from their brain in a way that allowed them to feel, taste, and touch things as the haptic sensors never could. 

But was this something that was truly safe enough, and also was it something that was going to be good or bad for humanity simply because of its existence. Once the decision is made to make the UNI available to the world, it sparks a new game that Wade and his friends must solve. Haliday’s old partner Ogden Morrow was against the release of the UNI and refused to help them with solving the new puzzle. While he seems to know more than he’s saying, he won’t even give them a reason for why he doesn’t want anyone to complete the new quest. But naturally, Wade can’t just let it go, and must figure out what the new quest intends and where it leads.

I enjoyed listening to this audiobook. Having been a teenager in the 1980s, I appreciated the many references to events, people, music, and locations from back then. And listening to the book being read by someone who was himself easily recognizable to Star Trek Next Generation fans from his time on the show, for me added an extra layer to the fun geekiness of the characters and the plot of the story. 

There were a lot of interesting sub-themes to this book that were all very integral to the story. And while I would like to talk about them in my review, I’m afraid that doing so would give away too many spoilers. So all I truly feel comfortable in saying is that if you enjoyed “Ready Player One” you will also enjoy this book. It is a very fun and entertaining mishmash of 1980s trivia and nostalgia. And I found the story both interesting and entertaining, though I don't think it will be for everyone. (I freely admit that I am a sucker for 1980s trivia, and there is a lot of it in this book.)

Monday, March 14, 2022

"The Viennese Dressmaker" by Kathryn Gauci

Christina Lehmann was the head of a couture house in Vienna in 1939. For quite some time, she has been in love with a man whose mother was Jewish though his father was not, and was raised catholic in a time and place where those of any Jewish ancestry at all are becoming increasingly oppressed. Because of this, Max does not feel it is currently safe for them to marry, and he is unfortunately correct. Under Nazi rule, the country has been becoming an increasingly dangerous place as the war continues to make life worse for those living there who are not part of the Nazi regime.

This book was a very good read, especially considering events taking place in the world today. The author does not shy away from well known events that took place in WWII. Brutality towards those with Jewish ancestry, property seizure, medical experimentation, the killing of those considered weak or imperfect, parents sending their children away to Great Britain via the Kindertransport in an attempt to keep them safe, and many other things. While this book is a work of fiction, historical events and people were necessarily included in the story.

I greatly enjoyed reading this book. It was very well written and the story had me wanting to keep reading to see what would happen next. While the experiences of those sent to concentration camps was not explicitly shown in this book, we are shown gestapo interrogations as well as a good deal of violence (nothing too explicit, but given the period in which this book was written, such things could not be avoided.)

But I think the best of this book was the postscript written by Ms. Gauci. Be sure not to skip that section. It gives a lot of information on the people who inspired many of the characters as well as the places and events. I would highly recommend this book.

Monday, March 7, 2022

"Moon Called"
written by Patricia Briggs,
read by Lorelei King

Mercy Thompson, a coyote shifter (or skinwalker) who was raised by werewolves works as a mechanic (in her own garage) and lives next door to the local werewolf alpha. As expected, her life is anything but normal, and when a young, newly made werewolf shows up at her garage looking for work, she goes against common sense and tries to help him, without knowing what the young man is running from. Before long, things go very wrong, and turn out to be much more complicated than anyone expected.

I listened to the audiobook version of this one rather than reading the printed book. The narrator did an excellent job of keeping the voices of the characters distinct from each other. The story was entertaining and I enjoyed listening to the book as it unfolded, the twists and turns along the way holding my attention throughout. 

This was a book that I believe I would have enjoyed reading easily as much as I enjoyed listening to. It is the first book in a series, and if you're looking for a good story involving vampires, werewolves, and other fae creatures, then I believe you should enjoy this one. I’d say it’s worth giving it a try.

Firefax by A. M. Vergara

During the Revolutionary War, there are rumors of a city of gold that is hidden on an island whose location is known only to the Firefax fam...