Thursday, November 23, 2017

Book Review: A Peace Divided by Tanya Huff

A Peace Divided
Author: Tanya Huff
Series: Peacekeeper (Book 2)
Publication: DAW (June 6, 2017)

Description: Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr had been the very model of a Confederation Marine. No one who’d ever served with her could imagine any circumstance that would see her walking away from the Corps.

But that was before Torin learned the truth about the war the Confederation was fighting…before she’d been declared dead and had spent time in a prison that shouldn’t exist…before she’d learned about the “plastic” beings who were really behind the war between the Confederation and the Others. That was when Torin left the military for good.

Yet she couldn’t walk away from preserving and protecting everything the Confederation represented. Instead, ex-Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr drew together an elite corps of friends and allies—some ex-Marines, some civilians with unique skills—and together they prepared to take on covert missions that the Justice Department and the Corps could not—or would not—officially touch. But after their first major mission, it became obvious that covert operations were not going to be enough.

Although the war is over, the fight goes on and the Justice Department finds its regular Wardens unable to deal with violence and the people trained to use it. Ex-Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr has a solution: Strike Teams made up of ex-military personnel, small enough to maneuver quickly, able to work together if necessary. Justice has no choice but to implement her idea and Torin puts her team of independent contractors back into uniform. It isn’t war, it is policing, but it often looks much the same.

When the scientists doing a preliminary archaeological dig on a Class Two planet are taken hostage, Torin’s team is sent to free them. The problem of innocents in the line of fire is further complicated by the fact that the mercenaries holding them are a mix of Confederation and Primacy forces, and are looking for a weapon able to destroy the plastic aliens who’d started and maintained the war.

If Torin weren’t already torn by wanting that weapon in play, she also has to contend with the politics of peace that have added members of the Primacy—former enemies—to her team. Before they confront the mercenaries, Torin will have to sift through shifting loyalties as she discovers that the line between “us” and “them” is anything but straight.

My Thoughts: In this episode Warden Torin Kerr and her team have to rescue a bunch of scientists exploring a planet which might have evidence about the plastics that manipulated both the Confederation and the Primacy into an intergalactic war. Rumor has it, a weapon against the plastic has been found.

The scientists have been captured by mercenaries who want the weapon. They are two factions. The first is a war veteran broken by the war who will do anything to keep his ship flying and his people safe. The second faction has been hired by the mastermind to find the weapon. This faction is very willing to use violence and intimidation to force the scientists to find a weapon that may not even exist.

The Wardens aren't going on the rescue alone. They have been given "help" from the Primacy. The war is over but the two sides are just learning how to work together and neither side trusts the other. Luckily, a number of the being on the Primacy team are known to Torin because they all escaped from a prison together.

The viewpoint shifts from that of one of the scientists to Torin and her team so that we can see events from both sides. I liked that the scientist who is a Niln is trying to understand the invaders who are from the Younger Races. I liked her relationship with one of the young human mercenaries.

This was an exciting space opera. Torin and her newly integrated team need to rescue the hostages but keep getting sidetracked by the potential presence of the plastic. Torin would very much like revenge for all the millions of life the war caused. She is still haunted by her many dead.

Favorite Quote:
Would Gunny realize it was a trap? Better question, would that stop her?
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Book Review: An Ancient Peace by Tanya Huff

An Ancient Peace
Author: Tanya Huff
Series: Peacekeeper (Book 1)
Publication: DAW (October 6, 2015)

Description: Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr had been the very model of a Confederation Marine. But when she learned the truth about the war the Confederation was fighting, she left the military for good.

But Torin couldn’t walk away from preserving and protecting everything the Confederation represented. Instead, she drew together an elite corps of friends and allies to take on covert missions that the Justice Department and the Corps could not—or would not—officially touch. Torin just hoped the one they were about to embark on wouldn’t be the death of them.

Ancient H’san grave goods are showing up on the black market—grave goods from just before the formation of the Confederation, when the H’san gave up war and buried their planet-destroying weapons...as grave goods for the death of war. Someone is searching for these weapons and they’re very close to finding them. As the Elder Races have turned away from war, those searchers can only be members of the Younger Races.

Fortunately, only the Corps Intelligence Service has this information. Unfortunately, they can do nothing about it—bound by laws of full disclosure, their every move is monitored.

Though Torin Kerr and her team are no longer a part of the military, the six of them tackling the H’san defenses and the lethally armed grave robbers are the only chance the Confederation has. The only chance to avoid millions more dead.

But the more Torin learns about the relationship between the Elder Races and the Younger, the more she begins to fear war might be an unavoidable result.

My Thoughts: Now that the war is over, Torin and her team are working for the Wardens in the Justice Department solving smaller problems. However, when she is called in by Military Intelligence to do a covert job, the problem isn't small. Someone is selling H'san grave goods on the black market. Since the location of the cemetery planet is supposed to have been lost in the mists of time and since an ancient cache of H'san weapons is also supposed to be there, it is necessary to find the planet, find the grave robbers, and prevent them from selling those weapons which could begin another war and cost millions of lives.

Torin is also told by her Justice Department boss that the Parliament is considering sequestering the Younger Races - Humans among them - now that the war is done and the Younger Races are considered uncivilized. Traveling to the Core to search for the missing planet does let Torin see what the attitudes are like toward the Younger Races by those who were never threatened by the war.

The story is an exciting chase as Torin and company follow the trail of the grave robbers into the crypts of the H'san running into traps of many kinds and zombie H'san guardians too. I liked that each of the team has their skills and that, despite their different species, all manage to get along. I especially like Torin who though retired still is a Gunnery Sergeant with the goal of making sure all of her people make it home. I like that she is still dealing with the aftermath of the war and knows it.

I liked that we also had a secondary viewpoint as we followed the grave robbers on their explorations. They also had varying motivations for their actions from simple greed to the desire to recreate the family they lost during the war.

Fans of space opera will enjoy this series and will enjoy the characters and world building.

Favorite Quote:
"You haven't actually been a Gunnery Sergeant for some time now, Torin."

"You never stop being a Gunnery Sergeant, Major."

Dr. Ito's left eye twitched. He'd made it clear from the beginning that he preferred to be addressed by the medical honorific. "I think you've just made my point for me."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

FP/TT: The House on Tradd Street by Karen White

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of a book she is reading or planning to read. She provides a linky for others to post theirs.

Here's mine:
Pewter reflections of scarlet hibiscus colored the dirt-smudged windows of the old house, like happy memories of youth trapped inside the shell of an old man. The broken pediments over the windows gave the house a permanent frown, yet the leaf-filtered sun against the chipped Tower-of-the-Winds columns lining the side piazzas painted the house with hope. It was almost, I thought, as if the house were merely waiting for a miracle.
 

Link up here. It is very easy to play along:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.
Here's mine:
I arrived at my office at seven o'clock on Monday morning, hoping I'd find the office empty, since I still needed more time to think. I had come no closer to a decision that I had the day I'd sat in the office of Drayton, Drayton, and Drayton, and my little world had started spinning in the wrong direction.
These both come from The House on Tradd Street by Karen White. This book has been on my TBR mountain since March 4, 2014. Here is the description from Amazon:
The brilliant, chilling debut of Karen White's New York Times bestselling Tradd Street series, featuring a Charleston real estate agent who loves old houses—and the secret histories inside them.

Practical Melanie Middleton hates to admit she can see ghosts. But she's going to have to accept it. An old man she recently met has died, leaving her his historic Tradd Street home, complete with housekeeper, dog—and a family of ghosts anxious to tell her their secrets.

Enter Jack Trenholm, a gorgeous writer obsessed with unsolved mysteries. He has reason to believe that diamonds from the Confederate Treasury are hidden in the house. So he turns the charm on with Melanie, only to discover he's the smitten one...

It turns out Jack's search has caught the attention of a malevolent ghost. Now, Jack and Melanie must unravel a mystery of passion, heartbreak—and even murder.

    Monday, November 20, 2017

    It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Nov. 20, 2017)

    It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

    It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

    I will be combining my YA and adult reading and purchases on this one weekly roundup. YA and middle grade reviews will still be posted on  Ms. Martin Teaches Media - my other blog.

    Other Than Reading...

    This was another quiet week. I did venture out to the Mall a couple of days just to walk around. I have been logging really pathetic totals on my FitBit since retirement and need the exercise. Cold weather and slippery footing are preventing me from walking outside since I am definitely a fair weather walker.

    I added another recipe to the "keeper" file when I made Five Ingredient Enchiladas this week. I am also looking for a good recipe for chocolate chip cookies and tried the original Toll House Cookie recipe this week. They're okay but I have a few more recipes I want to try before deciding on a favorite. Since the recipe made about 6 dozen cookies, I won't have to try another for quite a while.

    I am really missing baseball but managing to watch enough TV with The Voice, Food Network and a few food shows on the Travel Channel.

    Read Last Week
    Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Kate Strohm was from my review stack. This was a great romantic comedy that takes place in Scotland. Dylan is there for her sister's wedding which is being filmed as a reality TV show. Dylan doesn't want her new romance with Jamie to be on the show though. My review will be posted on Dec. 15.

    Almost Everything and Almost Final Curtain by Tate Hallaway are the final two books in the Vampire Princess in St. Paul YA urban fantasy. They were enjoyable stories with romance, excitement and humor. My reviews will be posted on Dec. 8 and Dec. 13.
    Heartstone by Elle Katharine White was a fantasy take on Pride and Prejudice with dragons and lots of other mythical creatures too. I enjoyed it. My review will be posted on Dec. 14.

    Killman Creek by Rachel Caine was from my review stack. This thriller finishes the story begun in Stillhouse Lake. It was a very fast-paced read. My review will be posted on Dec. 13.

    The Prisoner of Limnos by Lois McMaster Bujold is the latest novella in the Penric and Desdemona  series. It was a great story written with Bujold's signature wit and style. I won't be reviewing it on my blog but have given some brief thoughts at LibraryThing and GoodReads.

    Currently
    I was browsing my Kindle while out shopping and needing to fill a little time and chose Crimson Death by Laurell K. Hamilton. It wasn't until I got home that I learned that it had 717 pages. Kindle books are so deceptive that way.

    Next Week
    Two from TBR mountain:
    Newer Arrivals:
    Reviews Posted

    On Ms. Martin Teaches Media:
    On Inside of a Dog:
    Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?
    New Review Books:
    What was your week like?


    Saturday, November 18, 2017

    Book Review: The Human Division by John Scalzi

    The Human Division
    Author: John Scalzi
    Series: Old Man's War (Book 5)
    Publication: Tor Books; 1 edition (May 14, 2013)

    Description: Following the events of The Last Colony, John Scalzi tells the story of the fight to maintain the unity of the human race.

    The people of Earth now know that the human Colonial Union has kept them ignorant of the dangerous universe around them. For generations the CU had defended humanity against hostile aliens, deliberately keeping Earth an ignorant backwater and a source of military recruits. Now the CU's secrets are known to all. Other alien races have come on the scene and formed a new alliance―an alliance against the Colonial Union. And they've invited the people of Earth to join them. For a shaken and betrayed Earth, the choice isn't obvious or easy.

    Against such possibilities, managing the survival of the Colonial Union won't be easy, either. It will take diplomatic finesse, political cunning…and a brilliant "B Team," centered on the resourceful Lieutenant Harry Wilson, that can be deployed to deal with the unpredictable and unexpected things the universe throws at you when you're struggling to preserve the unity of the human race.

    Being published online from January to April 2013 as a three-month digital serial, The Human Division will appear as a full-length novel of the Old Man's War universe, plus―for the first time in print―the first tale of Lieutenant Harry Wilson, and a coda that wasn't part of the digital serialization.

    My Thoughts: This was an entertaining space opera that was written as thirteen separate episodes that needed to work together as a novel when finished. Earth has learned that the Colonial Union had been keeping them isolated and mining them for soldiers and settlers. Naturally, this didn't go over well on Earth and now the Colonial Union is trying to find a way to survive in a galaxy in which humans are in a definite minority and in a galaxy where they aren't liked very much.

    Many of these stories focus on Lieutenant Harry Wilson of the Colonial Defense Force and the Diplomatic team he is assigned to. This team is the B team which doesn't usually get sent in for important missions. And they are often expected to fail.

    Other stories focus on the Conclave - a group of 400 alien species - and on one of its diplomats Hafte Sorvalh.

    The big problem is that someone is trying to keep the Colonial Union and the Conclave at odds. Each side believes that it is the other that is responsible for ship losses and other activities. Both are also rivals for Earth. The Colonial Union needs Earth for its survival. The Conclave is also courting Earth though they wouldn't be accepted as a member until they had one unified Earth government which they do not.

    I enjoyed all the stories and like how they ranged in tone from serious to humorous. I enjoyed the characters especially Harry Wilson. I liked that all of them were trying to do their best for peace no matter how large or small a role they play. The ending is unresolved but not a cliffhanger. Luckily, I have the next book in the Old Man's War series so that I can find out what happens next.

    Favorite Quote:
    "Hold your breath!" the groundskeeper said.

    "Why?" Wilson wanted to know.

    "It couldn't hurt!" the groundskeeper said. Wilson was going to make a sarcastic reply to this but then realized that, in fact, it couldn't hurt. He took a deep breath.

    The plant sucked him under.

    "This is the best day ever," said the groundskeeper to Schmidt.
    I bought this one May 15, 2013. You can buy your copy here.

    Friday, November 17, 2017

    Friday Memes: The Human Division by John Scalzi

    Happy Friday everybody!
    Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City ReaderThe Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

    Beginning:
    Ambassador Sara Bair knew that when the captain of the Polk had invited her to the bridge to view the skip to the Danavar system, protocol strongly suggested that she turn down the invitation.
    Friday 56:
    What the hell? Wilson thought. On his shuttle's forward monitor, on which he had pumped up light-source collection to see star patterns over the glare of his instrument panel, another star had become occluded. That was two in the last thirty seconds. There was some object in the path between him and the black box.
    This week I am reading The Human Division by John Scalzi. This is the 5th book in the Old Man's War series. It has been on my TBR mountain since May 15, 2013. Here is the description from Amazon:
    Following the events of The Last Colony, John Scalzi tells the story of the fight to maintain the unity of the human race.

    The people of Earth now know that the human Colonial Union has kept them ignorant of the dangerous universe around them. For generations the CU had defended humanity against hostile aliens, deliberately keeping Earth an ignorant backwater and a source of military recruits. Now the CU's secrets are known to all. Other alien races have come on the scene and formed a new alliance―an alliance against the Colonial Union. And they've invited the people of Earth to join them. For a shaken and betrayed Earth, the choice isn't obvious or easy.

    Against such possibilities, managing the survival of the Colonial Union won't be easy, either. It will take diplomatic finesse, political cunning…and a brilliant "B Team," centered on the resourceful Lieutenant Harry Wilson, that can be deployed to deal with the unpredictable and unexpected things the universe throws at you when you're struggling to preserve the unity of the human race.

    Thursday, November 16, 2017

    Book Review: Austenland by Shannon Hale

    Austenland
    Author: Shannon Hale
    Series: Austenland (Book 1)
    Publication: Bloomsbury USA; Reprint edition (June 8, 2008)

    Description: Jane is a young New York woman who can never seem to find the right man-perhaps because of her secret obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Predjudice. When a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-obsessed women, however, Jane's fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become more real than she ever could have imagined. Is this total immersion in a fake Austenland enough to make Jane kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?

    My Thoughts: Jane Hayes is a thirty-something who is disillusioned with romance. None of her thirteen boyfriends have been at all like Collin Firth in Pride and Prejudice. He is her romantic ideal. When her great aunt leaves her a three week vacation at Austenland, she looks at it as a time to get over her obsession with Mr. Darcy and prepare to live the rest of her life more realistically - alone with no romance, but more realistically.

    Arriving at Austenland, Jane become immersed in the Regency time period but can't help wondering how much of what happens around her is real. One of her fellow guests is an American named Miss Elizabeth Charming who is determined to find her romance but who is often an object of fun as she develops her own interpretation of the Regency period. The other guest is Miss Heartwright who is a return visitor. The gentlemen are Colonel Andrews, Mr. Nobley and Captain East. While these gentlemen are interesting, Jane meets gardener Martin who seems more real to her.

    I liked that the story was told from Jane's point of view and included her witty observations. I think that I was somewhat handicapped because I have never read anything by Jane Austen nor have I seen any of the movies. I enjoyed this story about a young woman who is trying to find her happily ever after.

    Favorite Quote:
    "Just do your part, please, Miss Erstwhile."

    "Oh, yes, of course, forgive me. I can't imagine why I'm taking so long, it's just that there's something so appealing about you there on the ground, at my feet--"

    He tackled her. He actually leapt up, grabber her around the waist, and puller her to the ground. She screeched as she thudded down on top of him.

    His hands stiffened. "Whoops," he said.
    I bought this one March 24, 2014. You can buy your copy here.