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The best books you never read

I am both a reader and a writer. I find that the best writers are in fact avid readers. I love books of all kinds but I really adore reading new authors who are just getting their feet wet. Some of the very best writers are now found in the indie set. These reviews will be of books I have devoured in my never ending quest for good fiction. Some will be up and comers who have hit the top of the chart, but most will be struggling new writers who deserve a second look.

From a High Tower by Mercedes Lackey

From a High Tower (Elemental Masters) - Mercedes Lackey

Another of her retold faery tales/elemental masters series, this book was very different than I expected. It starts off with a father looking for food for his heavily pregnant wife and his eight children. In the time period in Germany there were many families in just such a straight. A hard working father just not making enough to feed his family. He finds what he believes is an abandoned home and garden and decides to raid it to feed his family. Of course it belonged to a witch..or more an elemental master who demands his most current child as payment.


Unlike the usual run of this story the elemental master is actually a good woman who knows that the child will be an elemental magic user and decides to step in to save both the child and the family. She gives the father and family the home and takes the baby girl far away to raise her. As you can imagine a child in the 1800s with magic in Germany would be ostracized if not out right killed.


Now mix into this the research part. See Ms Lackey always does a ton of research and you can tell. In that century there were a collection of books by an German author about the American wild west. They were hugely popular but well...not accurate. She has mixed in those books and real history along with the magic we all crave to give us a great tale.


I could write tons about this novel and how much I enjoyed the mix of wild west show, German myths and legends and faerie tales but why not just read it and enjoy. This series just keeps getting better and better IMO

Revolutions by Mercedes Lackey

Revolutions (The Secret World Chronicle, #6) - Mercedes Lackey, Dennis Lee, Cody Martin

A part of the Secret World series, this is the third novel that I have read in the series. Take superheroes from around the world, toss in Nazis from outer space and you have a great concept.


Told as a series of interconnected short stories from Ms Lackey and other writers, the stories flow so seamlessly that it seems like you are reading just one story from start to finish.


With the rise of the comic book movies and shows it is great to see books with superheroes in them. They are good, bad, rich, poor, famous, villainous and they all seem very real. Ms Lackey has brought together great writers who give us characters that are so three dimensional that you find yourself pulling for them. From Red Savior, the Russian/CCCP hero leader to Red Djinn, a one time bad guy you find that many different types come together to try and save the world from the invasion started two books ago.


We lose characters, sometimes just as we come to know them in ways both heroic and disturbing. If you hate seeing a good character die, well you won't want to read this, but if you understand that when dealing with bad situations and heroes that death can and will happen, well then dive in. Pick up all the books and short stories. This is one rollicking ride.

Gwenhwyfar by Mercedes Lackey

Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit - Mercedes Lackey

One of the most popular stories of all time is the tale of Arthur and the Knights of the Round table. Over the years I have read many different versions from the classic POV of Arthur or Merlin to the classic Mists of Avalon.


Like MZB before her, Ms Lackey has taken up the story from the woman's POV. In this version she has dropped us into the world as it might really have been at the time. While history has not yet found the real Arthur this novel does quite well.


The name Gwenhwyfar was common at the time. Yes Gwenhwyfar is both the lead and the queen. In this tale there were actually four women with that name who were connected to the High king. The research done for this book makes this tale leap off the page and into our minds. I could easily see and understand the reason the women did as they did.


Maybe it helped that at one time in my life I dressed up in medieval garb and called myself Morgana, learned a lot about the time period and just enjoy history but this was one of the better versions of this classic story that I have read in a long time.

Second Chance by Linell Jeppsen

Second Chance (The Deadman Series Book 5) - Linell Jeppsen

As always in this series you have strong characters and nasty villains. Ms Jeppsen knows her way around research and pacing, giving us a very fine tale of good versus evil set in the northwest. This is no cowboy and indian novel. This is filled with dirty dealing and out right murder. Mathew and his son Chance are brought in after a dear friend was attacked by mysterious strangers and the tale moves forward.

This fast paced and intense novel is a hallmark of this writer's style. She puts in deep research to make sure that the feel of the novel and the details are correct. If you haven't read the other four stories in this series, go, pick them up. You will be lucky enough to be dragged deep into a wild west different from the run of the mill and filled with characters that make you root for the good guys and boo/hiss the bad.



Received ARC copy of this book for free

Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Styxx - Sherrilyn Kenyon

Oh boy this is one of the better of Ms Kenyon's books. A companion to Acheron, we get to see the other side of the story.


Styxx is Acheron's twin brother. Thought for the longest time as one of the villains of Acheron's life, we learn a lot about this very interesting character. In Acheron's novel Styxx comes across as a nasty, self serving bastard and as we all know, you should never go by first appearances.


Styxx did not have the better life that Acheron and their sister believed. Raised with an almost classic abuser it would not be surprising if he grew up to be the ass everyone thought he was, but as what happened well it shows so much more.


Styxx was born with a tight empathic link to Acheron. Every time Acheron felt pain, Styxx felt the same without any visible injuries. Suffering massive migraines and nose bleeds from them in a time period that people had no idea just what they were, this young man was doomed from the start.


He meets a beautiful and blind fisher woman and finds happiness that is all too brief. As his life is tied his brother's, he dies and is brought back to life and dumped on the Vanishing Isle by Artemis.


There is so much more I could tell you but reading this book would be the best way to learn it all. I recommend you read this right after re-reading Acheron. It might be a long read but the two of them together are an amazing story!

Retribution by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Retribution - Sherrilyn Kenyon

Another great book in the Dark Hunter series.


William "Sundown" Bradey was a gunslinger when he was alive. With a serious reputation as a bad man he finally decided to give up his criminal ways and go straight. But well this is a Dark Hunter Novel. This just didn't work out for the poor guy. A hundred years later he is brought in to find out who has been killing his dark hunter companions.


Abigail was orphaned very young and the people who took her in are Apolittes, or so she thinks. In fact they are Damions, the soul sucking creatures that Sundown and his Dark Hunter friends hunt down to protect the human race.


From this very promising basis the story moves into native American myths and legends and some really dark gods.


This book is opening up more interesting information on the future of the Dark Hunter universe. I definitely will keep reading!

Time Untime by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Time Untime - Sherrilyn Kenyon

Oh boy has ms Kenyon done it again. She has dug deep into different cultures to give us rich characters and move the story of her universe forward.


Kateri is a young woman who grew up with her grandmother telling her the legends of her people. She has grown up with dreams that she did not understand. In her quest for understanding she heads out to Las Vegas and the tale gets very very interesting.


While many of the readers of this series seem to enjoy the tales set in New Orleans and dealing just with the Greek/Roman characters, I find I enjoy more the tales from other cultures.


Ren is an ancient native warrior who was introduced in Retribution. A crow shifter who we learn about much more in this novel. As he is not a were-hunter, his shifting is totally different from that of those shown before.


Together Kateri and Ren must reset the calender of the universe. The story is filled with myths and legends and strong characters. I enjoyed this greatly and hope we get more characters from other cultures.

The Guardian by Sherrilyn Kennyon

The Guardian - Sherrilyn Kenyon

This book is number five in the Dream Hunter books. Lydia is a half breed dream hunter trying to find and rescue one of the leaders of the dream hunters.


Seth is an immortal that has been enslaved and tortured by Noir and his sibling. He has  been given an ultimatum to get the location of the Key to Olympus from their captive.


When Lydia finds Solin she ends up face to face with Seth and our story begins. Like most of Ms Kenyons books the characters go through all kinds of nasty things to find their HEA.


Once more I have noticed people ragging on this series, saying it is all predictable and the same but IMO none of these books are predictable. We are talking paranormal romance here and in the end the hero and heroine are going to get together!


All in all this is a fun read and leaves enough tantalizing bits about where the series is going that I went on to read the other books to catch up!

A Dark-Hunter Christmas by Sherrilyn Kenyon

A Dark-Hunter Christmas - Sherrilyn Kenyon

This short story is a sweet confection of a holiday story. Like every Dark-Hunter, Gallager has a tragic story in his past. Unlike most of the stories in this series, he doesn't find his true love and stop being a dark hunter. It is sweet, short and the perfect palate cleanser from the darker and longer books in this series. An enjoyable read when you don't have a lot of time.

Son of No One by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Son of No One - Sherrilyn Kenyon

I have to say I really liked this one. Ms Kenyon has done something here that probably annoyed the heck out of a certain set of her readers. She combined two series!


The novel starts out with the cousin of Tabitha and Amanda, Josette, who is one of the skeptics of the series. She has been having a ton of bad luck, from catching her fiance with two other women, to losing her job, to looking at loosing her home. She takes a job as a camerawomen for some ladies who are trying to prove things like ghosts exist.


She literally falls into a mirror realm and meets a knight. From the moment the hero starts talking fans of Kenyon realize that she has brought together her Dark Hunters and Lords of Avalon series.


Now this could have been bad, but luckily this author is a master of her craft. The characters have their dark sides and their problems but they work through them to a satisfying conclusion.


My favorite part is the griffon brothers!

The Cat Who Went Into the Closet by Lilian Jackson Braun

The Cat Who Went Into the Closet - Lilian Jackson Braun

Once more we have a great read from Ms Braun.


In this book Qwill moves into the Gage Mansion. One of the mansions that line a street in Pickaxe. With fifty closets it is a treasure trove for cats. Koko and Yum Yum are totally enjoying themselves.


The book starts out with Qwill doing a one man show about a historical fire that destroyed a good portion of Pickaxe back in 1869. The story interweaves the performances with the murder mystery that pops up.


The closets of the Gage mansion are where Qwill found the basis of his one man play. When a local potato farmer goes missing and the Woman who used to own the mansion is reported as having committed suicide things get interesting.


There are break ins, some odd visitors, black outs, snowstorms and even more interesting things going on. With her usual verve, Ms Braun gives us a story of secret love, con men and old homes. Well worth the read.

The Cat Who Moved the Mountain by Lilian Jackson Braun

The Cat Who Moved a Mountain - Lilian Jackson Braun

Another great light mystery by a master of the genre.


Qwill decides to take a vacation and think about where his life needs to go. He has been living in Pickaxe for five years now and he is trying to decide where to go with his life. His goals as a younger man just don't seem as important to him now.


On the recommendation of some friends he packs up the cats and heads off to the Potato Mountains. Yup I said the Potato Mountains. The story is much more serious than the name of those mountains.


There are two groups, the Spuds and the Taters. The Spuds are from Big Potato Mountain and are interested in development and the money that tourism could bring in. The Taters live on Small Potato and they are old school, live off the land type people. Concerned about their way of live and the health of the environment they clash in ways you would expect.


Qwill rents a house on the top of the Big Potato mountain that he quickly learns was the scene of a murder of the big developer and most important person of the area. While his usual flare Qwill learns all he can about the murder, the fact that an innocent man was railroaded into jail and all about the arts and culture of the two mountains.


I love the little bits about Ms Braun's stories. She weaves very believable characters and environments for her mysteries. With lots of little bits in the backgrounds that give the reader proof that even in light mysteries there is a lot of research going on.


The only thing that bothered me about this book was it was one of the rare books in this series with a bit of a cliff hanger.

The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern by Lilian Jackson Braun

The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern - Lilian Jackson Braun

This is the second book in this long running series. Originally published way back in 1967 this fun little mystery, while a bit dated, is still a great read.


Qwill is at this point working for the Daily Fluxion, a small newspaper in Chicago. He used to be a well known crime reporter but after a bout with the bottle and a divorce he is at loose ends. He has to find a new place to live and has been given the job of editor for the new Interior Design magazine at the paper, Gracious Abodes. A major let down for him but he does his best to take it in stride.


Problems happen when the first house they featured has a break in and $750K of jade is 'stolen', When the second house they feature is raided as a whore house and the third he was getting ready to feature has the owner murdered, Qwill is beginning to think he has been cursed!


With all kinds of detail in this book, Ms Braun once more shows her attention to research. It took me a moment to realize that this was set in the late sixties but it once it did the story came more to life.


A fun afternoon read when you need to curl up and ignore the rain.

Shakespeare's Counselor by Charlaine Harris

Shakespeare's Counselor - Charlaine Harris

This is the last book in this series by Ms Harris.


In Shakespeare's Counselor Lily goes through her usual trials and tribulations.


Waking from a nightmare to find herself attacking Jack, she finally decides that she needs to join a Rape survivors group. While this is a good thing, here I think Ms Harris has finally met a bit of her match.


We don't get quite her usual in depth characterizations with the women of the group. There are stereotypes here that I am not sure she meant to include. On top of that Ms Harris has the woman counselor who runs the group as a victim of a stalker.


Maybe it was the time period it was written in or maybe she just didn't quite do her usual amazing research but this part of the story comes off very flat and misunderstood. Stalking is a major problem in much of the western world and is taken very seriously by today's police departments. While prosecuting those doing the stalking is difficult, it is being done.


While I enjoyed most of this story, I did not enjoy having the woman being stalked thought of as a nut job who was doing it to herself. This was and is a common misconception found all over. For once I can say one of Ms Harris' books was both too predictable and annoying to me. I gave it four stars because, yes it did drag me from start to finish and yes there were some very good characters introduced in this volume but it felt as if the meat of the story was just not there. The villains in the piece were almost two dimensional and as I said, predictable.


Also Lily's reaction to her miscarriage seemed way off. Yes, every woman deals with it differently, but Lily barely acknowledged it. Now I understand someone who didn't know they were pregnant being confused but her reaction was off IMO for a woman who had thought she would never conceive.


Still all in all this was a good book but just not the best in this series.

The Cat Who Smelled a Rat by Lilian Jackson Braun

The Cat Who Smelled a Rat - Lilian Jackson Braun

Ms Braun is one of a set of writers who writes what I call light mysteries. This book is a part of her Cat series. I have found each and every one of these a quick and enjoyable read.


In The Cat Who Smelled a Rat, Qwill and the redoubtable Koko find clues to a series of so-called accidents happening around town. From brush fires happening around the now historic landmark designated Shafthouses (small oddly shaped building at the top of mines) to an explosion at another town landmark, a book store built out of Feldspar to the head of the local curling club (and interesting and odd sport) falling down stairs to his death, there is a lot going on in small Pickaxe.


The conclusion comes with all the verve of a darker style of crime novel but with the pleasantness of this light mysteries series. Ms Braun has given us a cast of regular characters who are rich in details and not so young that we feel like we have been dumped into a tv show.


series of books, including this one, would find a following as a tv show. With over twenty books at the time this one came out back in 2001 there is a lot of stories to go around. I would recommend this book and the rest in the series for anyone who is looking for a good and fun read for a lazy afternoon.

Shakespeare's Trollop by Charlaine Harris

Shakespeare's Trollop - Charlaine Harris

Another fast and furious read by Ms Harris.


This forth book in the Lily Bard Mysteries starts out with the death of one of Lily's clients. Deedra is a woman who is free with her affections and Lily unluckily finds her out in the woods. Her body is staged perfectly for what could be a crime of passion but nothing is really as it seems.


The twists and turns in this book both give us more depth on Lily and the other characters of Shakespeare, Ar and show us that first impressions are not the important ones when it comes to murder.


This one was a fast read for me, taking me just under three hours to complete. Lily Bard is a character I would be willing to read a dozen books about.