Den of Wolves

Juliet Marillier

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In this, the third of the Blackthorn and Grim novels, circumstances threaten to tear them apart. A young girl has been placed under Princess Flidais’ care, needing Blackthorn’s attention. At the same time, the girl’s father hires Grim to help rebuild a home, fallen into disrepair, on his property. It is some distance from his home with Blackthorn, but the money is too good to turn down. It doesn’t take long for Grim to realize that there is more to the job than meets the eye.

Meanwhile, Blackthorn is finally offered an opportunity to help bring the man who imprisoned her to justice. The problem is that in order to make it in time to testify against him, she will have to leave Grim behind. Torn between her desire for justice and her growing love for Grim, who is in danger, she is faced with an impossible decision.

Unlike most series, Marillier wraps up the loose ends with this book. Much as I loved Blackthorn and Grim, I would be content if this is the end of them.

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Tower of Thorns

Juliet Marilier

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So, on to the second book in the trilogy. Prince Oran and his wife Flidais, who is pregnant, ask Blackthorn to help them to aid a noblewoman who has sought help in ridding her land of a monster. The cries of the monster are nearly driving people mad, and no one can reach the top of the tower where he is because of a hedge of thorns that surrounds the base. Grump as ever, and accompanied by Grim, she agrees to help.

She unlocks the secret of the tower with the help of the fae, but there is no happy ending for anyone in this sad tale. The main attraction is the growing depth of the relationship between Blackthorn and Grim.

Dreamer’s Pool

Juliet Marilier

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I started this trilogy in the middle. Tower of Thorns turned up on one of my low-cost subscription lists, and I bought it. I hadn’t finished chapter one before I knew that I had to read the first book to learn how the unlikely partnership of Blackthorn and Grim had come to be. So I put aside Tower of Thorns and ordered Dreamer’s Pool from the library. OMG. So good. I put aside all my usual reading until I had finished all three of the books in the trilogy.

Blackthorn, a bitter, wounded women is set free from her captivity by one of the fae. He puts two conditions on her freedom: she much stay within the boarders of the kingdom of Dalriada, and she must offer her help to whoever asks it. At the end of seven years, she will be freed. Consumed with hatred and a desire for revenge upon the man who unjustly imprisoned her, she agrees. Followed by Grim, a fellow prisoner, she moves to the kingdom of Dalriada and sets herself up as a wise woman, a healer.

Smallfolk come to her for healing, but it is when the Prince of Dalriada asks for her help, that she is challenged to the maximum of her powers. Intrigued by the story of his betrothed, a woman who seems so different from the one he grew to love through her letters, she begins to unravel the truth.

When I finished this book I couldn’t wait to start on Tower of Thorns to find out what happens next.

Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer

Barbara Ehrenreich

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We’re all going to die one day. No matter what we eat, or how much exercise we take, or other anti-aging choices we make, the inevitable is our final end. Barbara Ehrenreich turns her eyes on the various fads and fancies and concludes that it matters more how much life we put into living.

At the bottom is our belief that we have control over our bodies. She debunks this myth by her in-depth look at life at the cellular level, something over which we have no control at all. Cells make decisions on their own that are not always constructive and may even be harmful to the larger organism that is our body. Why they do this is little understood today. So eat all the kale you want, exercise if that’s what you like, but it doesn’t matter in the end.

The Crossing Places

Elly Griffith

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I like to read several books at once, reading a chapter then moving on. Occasionally, a book so grips my imagination that I stop all other reading and give it all my attention. This is one such book. I put all my other reading aside and concentrated on this book until I finished it. Unfortunately, my budget doesn’t go to buying books for my Kindle, unless they are cut price, so I have to wait until my name comes to the top of the waiting list.

I can’t quite put my finger on what I like about this book. One thing that I enjoyed was spotting the bad guy from the start. I never can tell who the murderer is until the big reveal, but this I fingered him from the start. In a more remarkable circumstance, I remember who it was. I like to read mysteries more for the characters of the main characters, which means I forget the murderer immediately and can reread the mystery for the pleasure of the interaction of the main characters. This one has both—the puzzle and the joy of the main characters. I’m including the salt marsh as one of the characters. I love her descriptions of the land.

I usually am very critical of the writing, but in this case, I was so roped into the story, that I was willing to overlook the occasional clunky sentence and awkward use of present tense. It is a debut novel, after all. I’m sure her writing will improve as she settles into the series.

Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1)

Louise Penny

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This author shows promise in this, the first of a series. I’ll have to read more before I give it my stamp of approval. I have friends whose opinion I respect who think highly of Inspector Gamache, so I will give him another chance.

I think the biggest complaint I have is that almost everybody is forgettable. I finished the book  a couple of weeks ago, and I have already forgotten most of what I read. I don’t remember who the murderer was and why the murder was committed. Bits and pieces of the story stick in my head, but not enough to keep me wanting more.

The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery

Barbara Lipska and Elaine McArdle

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The story of a Polish scientist who came to America to study the brain, this account of the author’s battle with melanoma is a fascinating account of how little we really know about the brain. Recovering from the effects of melanoma on her personality, Lipska describes her descent into madness with the clarity and objective attitude that informs her scientific work.

The author is blessed with family members who are doctors and connected with researchers into her disease. Their support and love help pull her through this most difficult struggle, and at the same time, they are oblivious to the changes that she is undergoing as the disease progresses.

Her description of her sickness and recovery are a fascinating account of one woman’s illness and recovery from a rare and deadly disease.

I received an advance reader’s copy from Netgalley in exchange for a review.

Some Tame Gazelle

Barbara Pym

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This book isn’t for everyone. No car chases, shootouts, kidnappings, or loud bangs. In fact, some people may wonder if anything is going to happen. In its quiet way, quite a lot happens to its main characters, Belinda and Harriet Bede, sisters living together. Both are afraid that the other one will get married and upset the balance of their quiet lives. What drama there is lies inside their heads as they observe the actions of the other.

I loved the book, but then I’ve lived in the environment she describes, one with the focus on church activities and the doings of clergy. There is plenty of drama there, but it is not showy and not on the surface.

Although the author was only 18 when she wrote the novel, she exhibits an extraordinary level of observation and understanding of single women ‘of a certain age.’ Harriet and Belinda are delightful.