Cheri Reviews Spark by Catherine Friend

Catherine Friend’s book The Spanish Pearl is one of my favorite lesbian novels so when I saw on NetGalley that there was a new time-traveling book coming out, I jumped on it. And I devoured it in one day.

Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

Jamie Maddox is worried about her grip on reality. Has her consciousness really been transported back to 1560, landing in the body of Blanche Nottingham? Not good, since Blanche, a lady-in-waiting for Queen Elizabeth I, is plotting a murder. The other possibility that Jamie faces? She’s had a psychotic break that has trapped her in an Elizabethan fantasy while another personality—let’s call her Blanche—has taken control of Jamie’s life and is jeopardizing everything.

Jamie is repeatedly zapped back and forth between the present and 1560 (or in and out of that twisted fantasy). Betrayal, murder, thunderstorms, and two doctors complicate everything as Jamie and Blanche battle to control Jamie’s body. Just as Jamie is running out of both hope and time, help—and love—come from a most unexpected place.

Sounds pretty interesting, right? I thought so, too!

There were some similarities with The Spanish Pearl but once the book got going, the only real commonality was time-travel and being very entertaining. The POV stuck with Jamie Maddox (who, by the way, shares her name with another current Bold Strokes Books author) and through her we are given wonderful glimpses of Queen Elizabeth I, the intrigues of her court, and some pretty visceral descriptions of what life was like then. I laughed several times, cussed a few characters out, and truly had a great time while reading this book.

If you’ve read any of Catherine Friends work before and enjoyed it, I have no doubt you’ll love this one. If you haven’t read anything by the author, this is a good place to start. Oh, and see if you can catch Jamie’s nod to The Spanish Pearl.

A big thanks to Bold Strokes Books and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read and review Spark. It certainly brightened my day. I’m still smiling.

You can download a sample or purchase a copy of Spark by clicking here.

Cheri Reviews The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

This is my third Scalzi book and he is now solidly my favorite science fiction author. Of course, I’ve not read a load of sci-fi books but, wow, this guy’s style and voice pull me in and won’t let me go.

The Collapsing Empire is the first in a new series that is filled with political intrigue, cool science stuff, personal conflicts, and plenty of bad-ass powerful women. Also very queer-friendly in a matter of fact way.

Here’s the blurb:

Our universe is ruled by physics. Faster than light travel is impossible—until the discovery of The Flow, an extradimensional field available at certain points in space-time, which can take us to other planets around other stars.

Riding The Flow, humanity spreads to innumerable other worlds. Earth is forgotten. A new empire arises, the Interdependency, based on the doctrine that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It’s a hedge against interstellar war—and, for the empire’s rulers, a system of control.

The Flow is eternal—but it’s not static. Just as a river changes course, The Flow changes as well. In rare cases, entire worlds have been cut off from the rest of humanity. When it’s discovered that the entire Flow is moving, possibly separating all human worlds from one another forever, three individuals—a scientist, a starship captain, and the emperox of the Interdependency—must race against time to discover what, if anything, can be salvaged from an interstellar empire on the brink of collapse.

From the prologue straight through to the last word, I was completely engrossed in the story. And Wil Wheaton’s narration is an added bonus. He did a stellar job. I wasn’t even halfway through the book when I already regretted knowing it would end and would be at least another 18 months until the next in the series is due to be released. I console myself with knowing that I’ll have to reread this one before diving into the sequel.

If you’re a science fiction fan, I highly recommend The Collapsing Empire. And if you’ve never really wanted to give the genre a shot, this might be a great launching off point.

You can download a sample or purchase a copy of The Collapsing Empire by clicking here.

Cheri Reviews A Quiet Death by Cari Hunter


Cari Hunter is my go-to author for lesbian fiction’s mystery/thriller category. Each and every one of her books is engaging, fast-paced, well thought out, and well written. A Quiet Death, the third in the Dark Peak series, is no different.

Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

In book three in the Dark Peak series, things are looking up for Detective Sanne Jensen and Dr. Meg Fielding. Dating each other seems to be working, their families are behaving themselves, and the worst of the post-Christmas crime wave is over.

The discovery of a Pakistani girl’s body out on the moors changes all that. No one knows who she is, who hurt her, or how she came to be there. As pressure mounts on East Derbyshire Special Ops for a quick resolution, it becomes ever more apparent that the case won’t provide one.

With the Pakistani community closing ranks, and threads of suspicion reaching farther than anyone could have predicted, the investigation leaves Sanne facing an ordeal she may not survive.

A Quiet Death takes place pretty soon after the events in Cold to the Touch and finds Sanne and Meg happily engaged in committed coupledom. As we knew they would be, they’re perfectly suited and there’ll be no drama between them so no worries there. The ups and downs in this book are solidly focused on the case at hand. Hunter doesn’t shy away from difficult topics and A Quiet Death deals with one that, personally, is one of the toughest to read about: trafficking women for sex. I can handle lots of graphic details when reading mysteries and thrillers but rape is a bit gut-wrenching for me. Luckily, I didn’t have to worry about that. The author does a great job of letting the reader know what’s going on but there are no graphic descriptions. And I didn’t notice until very late in the book that they weren’t there. The case is the thing and I was completely wrapped up in the thoughts and actions of the detectives. The EDSOP team was a joy to witness and the addition of a POV for Sanne’s boss, Eleanor, gave me even more insight into the case as well as some of the characters. There was never a point when I wanted to get away from her POV and back to Sanne or Meg’s.

I heavily suspected that I’d enjoy this book since I’ve not yet been disappointed by anything written by the author and I was right. Hunter has not only a talent for bringing her characters to life and dropping the reader into the scene but also for balancing dark, deadly serious story lines with levity and humor so the reader doesn’t get lost in despair over the heartbreaking cases. I look forward to reading whatever she comes up with next.

You can download a sample or purchase A Quiet Death by clicking here.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher through NetGalley.

Fun Read!


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had no idea what to expect when I started this book. A friend read it, didn’t tell me anything about it, and I didn’t read the blurb before I dove in. I didn’t even look very closely at the cover, which would have given me some clues. I did later see that someone had compared it to X-Men meets X-Files and that seems about right.

I was hooked from beginning to end and am a little sad to say goodbye to some of the characters. I’ve heard the second book in the series isn’t like the first – still good, but pretty different – and I don’t think I’m ready to tackle that one just yet.

One thing I didn’t expect was to laugh as much as I did. What a great story and a great main character. I certainly recommend this one to anyone who enjoys political intrigue and science fiction.

Oh, and the narrator did a great job on the many different voices. Her inflections during narration, though, kept pulling me out of the story. Not too badly but enough to think repeatedly, “please change that!” I understand that she doesn’t do the second book so I’ll be interested to know how I like the new narrator once I get around to it.

You can purchase or download a sample of The Rook by clicking here.

Enjoyed the madness!

I thought I read this book in my teens but the farther I got into it, the more certain I became that I hadn’t. I would have remembered how well done Jack’s descent into madness was. For me, that was the best part of the book. I did enjoy Danny’s parts of the book, and Wendy’s to a lesser extent, but the star of the show was Jack’s changes and his growing connection to the hotel.

I think my biggest shock was just how different Kubrick’s film is to the novel. I need to watch the movie again since I don’t remember a lot of the details. That and the insane number of times the N-word was used. I wasn’t expecting it and it really put me off.

I listened to the audio book and initially Campbell Scott’s calm tone made me wonder if I wouldn’t fall asleep while reading. Luckily, he got down to business when the dialogue and more intense narration called for it. He did a really good job.

I don’t know if it was just the audio book and there were clearer demarcations in the physical book, but I was throw off regularly which POV switches. There were a few times when I had to rewind to see if I either missed something or to figure out who was sharing info.

I’m glad I read this one. It won’t end up on my all-time favorite Stephen King list but I enjoyed the story. 3.5 stars for me.

Mostly Fun and Interesting


I’ve always liked Felicia Day. Well, since I first saw her on Dr. Horrible and then crushed on her after watching The Guild. My crush waned, and wasn’t rekindled by this book. I enjoyed hearing the author read to me – I think all memoirs should be read by the author, if possible – because I don’t think anyone else could have done it justice.
 
I learned a lot about Ms. Day and had quite a few, “wow, I never would have guessed that,” moments. Glad I read it. I wish her loads of success and happiness in the future.