Monday, March 23, 2015

This n That: Update, Reads, + The Manservant, Sentient Trains & OTT Mothers!

Hello! I've been out of commission since the 9th. My computer is at the Apple hospital getting full check up, and in the meantime my backup computer crashed! I've been going through withdrawals. I refuse to blog from my iPad because it is really a pain even to try and I'm not in the mood to go through that much frustration.

I read my book for the March TBR Challenge early in the month, but unfortunately missed posting the review. I followed the theme "catching up with a series" by reading Hunting Ground (Alpha & Omega #2) by Patricia Briggs. Actually, I read Fair Game, #3 and Dead Heat, #4 and I'm up to date now. I will post reviews for those books as soon as I am able.

Additionally, I have completed three other books in March, Vision in Silver (The Others #3) by Anne Bishop, Closer Than You Think (Faith Corcoran #1) by Karen Rose and Lovely Wild by Megan Hart. To date, my favorite March read was Fair Game (Alpha & Omega, #3) by Patricia Briggs, however, I have enjoyed all of them.

In the meantime, my TBR pile is bulging. I purchased many books last year that remain unread, still that did not stop me from losing control of my book budget in January and February and purchasing books I missed last year, and a few new releases. It's a bit crazy even for a book addict like me, particularly since I'm not reading at the same pace as I was on the prior years. Worse than that, I have DNF'd some pretty expensive books.

I'm working on a few reviews. In the meantime, I had these minis from some of my February reads more or less ready way back when.

The Manservant, Michael Harwood's debut novel, is a very British, highly entertaining, quick-paced contemporary gay fiction piece with an upstairs, downstairs flavor and a dash of BDSM restricted to some spanking, but without graphic sex scenes. This is very much contemporary British fare, so please do not expect gay versions of Downton Abby or 50 Shades of Grey. The novel focuses on the adventures of main character, Anthony Gower (please don't call me Tony!!), a young, thoroughly modern gay man whose experience as a footman to the Royals allows him to first find employment in a posh London hotel, and later as private butler to a Lord. His questionable judgment, however, gets him in deep hot water more than once. Harwood partially explores his main character's background, but I am hoping that he will write another book with delicious Anthony as his main character. And, more Frank please! Recommended.

Where the Trains Turn by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen is a SFF novella about sentient ghost trains, an imaginative boy, a mother who prefers her life as well as her son's be grounded in reality, and a meeting with destiny. The story grabbed my attention once I got passed the clumsy translation from Finnish to English. The narrative is austere and even with the problematic translation the story retains a heavy atmosphere. The boy, whose obsession with trains is fed by his father's, is socially inadequate with a healthy imagination. After a tragic incident, the mother eliminates everything from his life that may spark the imagination and the boy's life takes a new course. A chance meeting with destiny changes that. What made this story a great read for me were the fantastic twists that came at the end. I never saw them coming. Online free read at

The Mothers of Voorhisville by Mary Rickert is another SFF novella from and a Nebula nominee. This sff horror story begins with a stranger passing through a small town and seducing a group of women. Nine months later, there is a baby boom. But there is something different about these babies. The mothers will go to great lengths to protect them from those who might hurt them.

This story begins on a ominous note and ends quite well. Unfortunately, the middle drags rather badly. Narrated through journal entries by the different mothers, the reader never meets the babies' "father," the man or creature that so easily seduced the women of this little town. The mothers -- some of them children themselves, others married, divorced, single, or widowed -- are secretive at first. They love their little monsters too much to care what they are or they will be getting up to. This story is fantasy/horror. With the exception of little monster babies with tiny wings, the fantasy side in this novella is left to the reader's imagination since there are no real explanations as to what they are, where they come from, or what the real purpose of their existence is. The real horror in this story lies on the mother's disquieting actions once the "mother's instinct" comes into play, the rest is mild in content. Free online read at


  1. Oh your poor computers...what would humans do without them?

    I'm glad you're enjoyed your reads. Which expensive books have you DNF'd? I'm curious.
    I'm reading Hunting Ground too, Briggs' talent is real lol

    1. I don't know Sonia, computers are a must these days. I use mine for everything these days, and of course there's always my dusty blog. :)

      I completed some good books, but yes I have DNF'd quite a few too. Most of them are science fiction books. SF print books are expensive (many are not released on ebook format until much later) and the ebooks are high priced as well. But if you want a title I DNF'd from an author you know and whose books I collect in print, The Collector by Nora Roberts -- hardcover. That's a book I preordered as an "auto buy," and yes, it was expensive.

      PS: I wasn't crazy with the beginning of the Alpha & Omega series by Patricia Briggs, but I was really hooked after Hunting Ground and had to read the rest of the books. Enjoy them!

    2. I yes I remember you saying that about Robert's book.
      I understand, I try to avoid hardcovers as much as possible.

      So far Hunting Ground is good.

    3. Sonia, I'm thinking that my days of buying NR hardcovers or the expensive kindle editions are over. I will be looking for discounts from now on. :)

      I'm so glad you're enjoying Hunting Ground. I did too!

  2. Well what a likely excuse for missing the TBR Challenge :) Hey, at least you read something out the pile. That counts way more than the "commentary."

    (Although the commentary is fun. I love that we have one day a month where we know we'll see LOTS of reviews/commentary about books).

    My Kindle is to the point of ridiculousness. I have a "Immediate Review" folder that officially became a joke 6 months ago and is sitting at over 100 titles right now. I've been giving my permission to DNF more, but uh.....yeah. That hasn't exactly helped a lot.


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