Lately, I have been reading a lot, especially between noon and 3 pm, since those are the hottest hours of the day and it is hard getting anything done. I live in the semi-desert in the Baja, Mexico; and I always call those hours the lazy hours (only in the summer) Temperatures get so high that you don’t feel like doing much, so reading has become a popular pastime for the hottest time of the day, which is how I got my list of 5 great summer reads.
I don’t always take a break during the lazy hours; sometimes, though, the sun and humidity are relentless and then a break is due. Now, I am actually starting this article at 01:21 pm on a very hot day. A hurricane passed by two days ago and after every storm or hurricane, the heat is more intense than usual. Today, however, there is no lazy hour break 😉 here I am, typing away, protected by the cool breeze of my fan. 😉
For these summer reads I ventured into different genres. I usually pick crime thrillers or fantasy, and some comedy, but this time I also dabbled into time travel romance and comics. So, those were some welcome changes.
In summary, this list includes fantasy, time travel romance, Victorian romance, historical fiction, and a vigilante comic. It couldn’t get any more different, but at least we got something for everyone here 😉
Fantasy – Forgotten Gods, by ST Branton
This is an urban fantasy series of 8 books, so if you end up getting hooked by it, be prepared to spend a long time in the company of Vic, the main character, and the monsters she has to battle.
Vic has spent all her savings to track down the killer of her parents, a NY mobster. When she finally finds him, a supernatural event brings Marcus, an old centurion with an age-old mission, into her life. At first, she doesn’t believe his tales of the Forgotten Gods, but strange occurrences that are happening in the city soon make her realize that Marcus speaks the truth … and he needs a warrior.
Vic becomes that god-fighting warrior, wielding the centurion’s magical, golden sword. The gods have escaped Carcerum where they were imprisoned for millennia. They are now descending upon Earth in droves. Their goal: rule the world and enslave the human population like they used to thousands of years ago. Vic is the chosen hero who can save humanity.
Vampires, werewolves, all-powerful gods, and all kinds of ghoulish monsters will stop at nothing to conquer the world. Vic must stop them before all hell breaks loose. Not an easy task …
Although I enjoyed the story, I always looked forward to reading it, and I finished all 8 books I am not quite ready to give it a full five stars. There were a few things that irked me.
- Vic, the main character, turns into a sword wielding heroine and seems to have no – or few – qualms about her first killing. I found that the authors tried too hard to make her look like a badass which in my opinion took some of her humane side away. There she was, killing several vampires or other otherworldly monsters as if it were nothing while spouting the typical Hollywood nonsensical jokes which – I think – no one – except for a trained assassin perhaps … – would do under the circumstances. Throughout the story, I didn’t quite warm to her.
- The romance between her and the FBI agent she meets in book 1 looks promising, but by the time these two finally get together there is absolutely no romance (although they seem to love each other). It looks more like a sexual attraction, marred by Vic’s ceaseless badass quips, which in the long term spoiled many things for me.
The Forgotten Gods has a good story line, and I was much more taken by side characters such as Frank, Maya, Jules, Brax, and Deacon than by the main character herself. The end of each book keeps you wanting to open the next in the series to see how it all continues.
If you don’t mind the negative points that I mentioned, then this is a nice, entertaining read. I just feel that the authors could have done a little more with Vic’s character development; but if you’re looking for fantastical creatures and nonstop action you’ll probably enjoy it.
Historical Fiction – My Father, My Enemy: Juliane, daughter of Henry I, by J.P. Reedman
This is book 6 in the Medieval Babes, Tales of Little-Known Ladies series, and the story centers around Juliane Fitzroy, one of Henry’s twenty-two illegitimate children.
When Juliane is married to Eustace de Breteuil it looks as if she has done well for herself and was lucky enough to wed an attractive husband her own age. They have three children and at first they seem happy together, but Eustace’s obsession with a castle he cannot have soon leads to tragic events.
Henry I proposes a hostage exchange to keep the peace between Eustace and Ralph Harenc – the lord of said castle – which ends in Juliane’s two daughters being held captive by Henry while Ralph leaves his son in Juliane and Eustace’s keeping. In a drunken rage, Eustace blinds the boy, and Henry allows Ralph to take terrible revenge on Juliane’s daughters – his own granddaughters …
Overcome by grief, Juliane and Eustace rise in rebellion and Juliane plots to punish and kill her father …
This story is based on true historical events and people. The cruel maiming of Juliane’s children by their own grandfather did indeed happen, an act that destroyed the girl’s future. Three innocent children were hurt because of a feud over a castle … Juliane did indeed try to kill her father, and the author did an excellent job in describing Juliane’s emotional turmoil.
The subservient role of women in medieval times is painfully brought to light with Juliane as one of the few women who challenges this forced submission.
While Henry I is certainly no Henry VIII and he doesn’t always resort to beheadings like the latter did, he still is a terrible character and definitely no candidate for a grandfather (or husband) of the year coffee cup.
I finished this book in a little over a day. Juliane’s story was a page-turner that kept me wanting more, and I will probably read other books by J.P. Reedman. It was well-written; and characters were carefully researched and described in depth. The children’s tragic fates – and the fact that such injustice and cruelty really took place … – is something that remained with me long after I put the book down.
Time Travel Romance – Trapped in Time, by Denise Daye
Trapped in Time is the first in a time travel romance series, but it can be read as a standalone book.
Emma Washington was raised by a father who abused her mother, and consequently she vows never to get married or fall in love. An accident, though, catapults her from the 21st century to the slums of Victorian London in 1881. She soon learns that Victorian England is a harsh world for women of a low status, and she cannot survive in poverty for long. Her only chance to escape her dire situation and perhaps find a way back to her own century is by doing the very thing she swore never to do: marriage …
A plan to trick the arrogant and feared Lord William Blackwell into marrying her begins to take shape, but as soon as this is set into motion, things turn out a little different from what she expected. Having to run to save her life, Emma is given a new chance at true love … if she can find a way out of this mess.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Although I am not much of a romance reader, I picked this book because I felt like trying a different genre, and I’m glad I did. What kept me on the edge of my seat were the unpredictable turns of events, surprising me every time.
The main and side characters are all three-dimensional, which is always important to me. I need to connect to the main character, which I absolutely did in this story.
Trapped in Time is a love story with a few twists which turned it into a wonderful page-turner and a distraction from the real world 🙂 , a highly recommended summer read.
Victorian Romance – An Outlawed Heiress and her Duke, by Denise Daye
This is book 3 in the time travel romance series, but this last one doesn’t involve any time travel. Since George, one of the main characters, was mentioned in book 2 (A Modern Lady), a time travel romance about his sister Isabella, a woman from 1881 who ends up in the 21st Century, he also got his own story 😉
I decided not to include a synopsis about book 2 because it is the same genre as book 1. All three books can be read as standalone books anyway.
After her father passes away and the family’s lawyer vanishes in the Wild West, Esther Silverton, one of America’s richest heiresses, is robbed of her inheritance and finds her life in great danger. Forced to flee her home, she ends up in the slums of New York, facing poverty and perils. In the disguise of a man, she tries to stay afloat.
When George, the Duke of Aberdeen, hires her as a guide to take him to the place where her lawyer disappeared, she takes on the job … and a lot of trouble. George has his own reasons for traveling out west and it involves a gold mine, a vanished friend, saving his sister from a terrible marriage, unlawfully obtained land, and local trouble with the Apaches which he desperately wants to resolve.
George is at a loss, for he finds himself strangely attracted to his guide, and Esther – who is now called Egan – is not immune to his charms either. Moreover, Esther is still being pursued by the man who stole her inheritance and wants her dead. Trouble is brewing …
This was another story I enjoyed. It had a little bit of everything, historical fiction, danger, romance, and also some humor. The interaction between Esther and George was entertaining and sweet and there were some funny moments. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for another escape.
Comics – The Lost Boy, by Joshua Grant
This is a comic that tackles the question, “what if Peter Pan became a vigilante superhero?” The Lost Boy is Joshua Grant’s debut comic and it is a promising beginning for this series.
After the murder of his best friend, Peter Barrie seeks vengeance against the head of a criminal empire, none other than Los Angeles’ mayor J.M. Hook. He finds help with unexpected friends, and on his quest for revenge he unwittingly walks a trail of eye-opening self-discovery.
This was an excellent debut comic! Illustrations were superbly done and Peter Barrie is portrayed with a lot of depth and emotion. The story has great action and moving characters.
I am certainly looking forward to the next in this series. I used to devour comics when I was a teenager, but until I got my hands on The Lost Boy I had not read comics in many years. That’s going to change now. It looks like I’m going to buy the rest of these books, I’m looking forward to following Peter Barrie’s adventures.
If you are into comics, then this is highly recommended!
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Have a beautiful day and a great read! 🙂