Jenny Schwartz
5 Stars
Review: Freaky Days by Amanda M Lee
Freaky Days (A Mystic Caravan Mystery Book 1) - Amanda M. Lee

Much like cotton candy at a fair (note how well I use the American term? for me, spun sugar is and always will be fairy floss -- I'm Aussie) this book is sweet. Yes, it's also snarky and a bit violent, but basically it's easy to read, imaginative in its world building, the banter flows and the cast of characters have charm. They're an odd kind of family and the reader is welcome to join their world.


I enjoyed "Freaky Days".

My book, Demon Hunter, is free March 7-9, 2016
Demon Hunter (The Collegium Book 1) - Jenny Schwartz

For you! "Demon Hunter" is free on Amazon March 7-9, 2016. If you haven't already read it, grab it today! If you have read it, please tell a friend :)  [PS it had a new cover - the preview hasn't updated -- don't let the change put you off]


Thanks, everyone!


Amazon US



You can bleed and die banishing a demon, but Fay Olwen discovers there are worse hurts. Betrayed by the Collegium and by her father, she must build a new life away from New York. Leopard-shifter Steve Jekyll would have her build it with him. But loyalties are never simple and new love never easy. When demons are unleashed, Fay tracks the evil back to the Collegium, and now all hell will break loose because Fay fights for the innocent, and Steve will protect what is his.

5 Stars
Review: The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan
The Silk Roads: A New History of the World - Peter Frankopan

Don't let the size of "The Silk Roads" daunt you. It's very readable. The scope is huge, geographically and over centuries, but Peter Frankopan keeps everything clear and moving along.


I lack familiarity with the history, so I can't say whether his arguments, his judgements on history, are true -- and what is truth? Probably if each of us studied the same scholarly texts we'd decide things a bit differently. But his arguments did hang together: the evidence he presents supports his insights.


Frankopan has a nice style for a popular history book. The scholarship is evident (and the referencing is great if you want to dig deeper with additional reading), but he wears it lightly and the wry sharpness of his judgement on the greed, violence, delusion and sheer stupidity of various individuals and nations/empires helps kick the book along.


The complexity and good governance of the empire Ghengis Khan founded made for fascinating reading. Skip through a few centuries and the Russian factor in the decision to start World War I is one I hadn't read before (confessing my ignorance). Even the twentieth and twenty first centuries, where I thought I knew more contained surprises. "The Great Game", as the British called it, was never a game. Resources, wealth and security, power, religion and identity, mix to create a volatile region that impacts the world.


I'm not sure I agree with Frankopan's conclusion that the world is turning back to centre on the old silk roads. That power shift to China, the belly of the old Soviet Union and the Middle East seems disputable from my corner of the world, Australia. And yet, there's now a train (or composed of several trains) that carries cargo from China across the old silk roads' spine. Maybe the upheaval in the Middle East, the terrible suffering of its people, is because of power shifting and players fighting to seize their opportunities, or to resist losing what they have.


"The Silk Roads" is an interesting and absorbing read that lingers in the mind.

Reading Update
Marked In Flesh - Anne Bishop

"The Silk Roads" by Peter Frankopan is proving as intriguing as I'd hope. People, religion, trade, it all swirls through the book. Loving it.


Waiting on the release of "Marked in Flesh" by Anne Bishop. It's a good month for paranormal romance. Also waiting on "The Undoing" by Shelly Laurenston and Seanan McGuire's latest ... something Choreography (too lazy to look it up).


Survived the release of "Dragon Knight", my latest book. Went to the beach yesterday and walked along it for about an hour, just trying to unwind. Finally achieved some tranquillity, then had to drive home. The drive zapped the tranquillity. *sigh* Road works and trucks just might be the devil's invention :) 

New Release: Dragon Knight
Dragon Knight (The Collegium Book 3) - Jenny Schwartz

My new paranormal romance, Dragon Knight, is out today! I'm happy, excited and stressed. This is Lewis's story, that I'd been wanting to write for ages. I just never guessed a house witch would invade his life!


Dragon knight Gina Sidhe serves Earth’s only resident dragon, and she’s been issued with a quest. She must return with Lewis Bennett, President of The Collegium (the world’s magical order of peacekeepers), so that he may learn the Deeper Path of Magic from the dragon. A path that has been denied to Gina, and one she desperately wants.

But Lewis isn’t interested. He knows his magic has gone, burned out amid a terrible tragedy. Which makes his current task all the harder. He must restructure and repurpose The Collegium in the wake of a shocking and sly demon attack. He doesn’t have time for Gina’s quest, until she offers him the one thing he can’t have: a hidden route out of his Collegium life.

Because Lewis has his own quest, one secret and lethal, to save the world from a threat no one else believes in.




If you're a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can read it free as part of your subscription. Otherwise it's 99c (and exclusive to Amazon, the condition for including it in Kindle Unlimited).


Amazon US 

Amazon UK 


And now, I can go back to reading "The Silk Road" and trying not to hyperventilate :) 

Weekend reading!
The Silk Roads: A New History of the World - Peter Frankopan

My lovely local library organised an inter-library loan and now I have a gorgeous, fat book waiting for me to crack open. It's tempting me from the top of the bookcase, uncaring that I have work to do. The Silk Roads looks fascinating and had a great review in The Guardian. I'm an intrepid armchair traveller, and on this journey I'll also be travelling back in time. Can't wait!


Do you have your weekend reading sorted? Anything you've been waiting on?

5 Stars
Review: Through Fire & Sea by Nicole Luiken
Through Fire & Sea - Nicole Luiken

Does anyone else remember Diana Wynne Jones's Crestomanci series? I loved her books as a kid -- and still do!


Nicole Luiken introduces a different take on mirror worlds, and I was instantly enthralled. Deftly juggling two storylines and worlds, the book is engrossing.


I don't read a whole lot of YA, but evidently I'm missing out! Great mix of fantasy and paranormal romance with engaging heroines, swoon-worthy heroes, and a fascinating villain -- a great villain can make a book!



I need an unlimited book budget!
Murder on the Last Frontier (A Charlotte Brody Mystery) - Cathy Pegau

Cathy Pegau and I were both Carina authors in the early days. I'd really, really like to read her Kensington mystery, "Murder on the Last Frontier", but $10 for a kindle copy, then factor in the exchange rate (it's ouchy) and it's staying on the wishlist for the moment. It has company! I'd also like to read Kate Parker's mystery series, starting with "The Vanishing Thief"




The heatwave is kind of ending -- as in not getting cool, but no longer melting things. On that topic, someone baked cakes in their car. It was that hot! Perfect reading weather. I re-read Anne Bishop's "Written in Red" -- so much lovely snow :) 

Sky Garden Book Tour
Sky Garden - Jenny Schwartz

I try so hard here at BookLikes not to be author-me (and I know, I fail when a new release is out), but the result is that I forgot to share the chance to win a $25 Amazon giftcard!


Goddess Fish has organised a book tour for my London romance, "Sky Garden", and if you enter the Rafflecopter draw at any of the blog tour stops, you have a chance to win the giftcard.


Good luck! Tour ends Feb 12.


Book tour link

5 Stars
Review: The Brimstone Deception by Lisa Shearin
The Brimstone Deception - Lisa Shearin

I really like Lisa Shearin's fantasy series that begins with "Magic Lost, Trouble Found". It's taken me a bit longer to connect to this urban fantasy series set in New York, but I'm there, now. 


"The Brimstone Deception" has warmth, humour and a fast-pace. It's original and engaging, and peppered with pop culture references. The comments on Krispy Kreme donuts are awesome! 


Also, I kind of like the goblin (you'll know who if you read the series) and wow, doesn't he deliver?!!! I adored the end of the book.


You definitely need to read this series in order.


Sorry. Monday's first coffee has still to kick in, but I've loads to do so I thought a short review was better than none!

Indulgence and Limiting Book Commitments
The Road Not Taken and Other Poems: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) - Robert Frost, David Orr, David Orr

I went into 2016 trying really hard not to commit myself to too much reviewing. The idea being that then it becomes a stress rather than a joy. And also, I'm wondering, does reading a book knowing I'll review it change how I read it?


Anyways. For 2016 I only have one review commitment: to read "The Road Not Taken and Other Poems", and for this I'm giving myself ALL YEAR to read the slim volume.


It's wonderful! I'm still stuck on the first poem, "Into My Own". I can read it, leave it, think about it, go back to it. I'm in no hurry to turn the page. I think this might be how poetry is meant to be read.


The last two lines of "Into My Own" are haunting:


They would not find me changed from him they knew --

Only more sure of all I thought I knew.


It took me a while to read through the Introduction. However, I didn't know much about Robert Frost and his work, so the Introduction was worth wading through. Now, the book feels like pure indulgence. So much time, so few words! 

5 Stars
Review: Dark Deeds by Michelle Diener
Dark Deeds (Class 5 Series Book 2) - Michelle Diener

I'm really enjoying this series that started with "Dark Horse". "Dark Deeds" maintains the classic science fiction adventure vibe and gives a thoughtful take on alien abduction, self-respect and resilience.


I very much enjoy the ... nope, that might be a spoiler and I don't like sharing spoilers. Let's just say that one of the younger characters is a real joy and there's a very neat twist to his future.


As with "Dark Horse" I think "Dark Deeds" is perfect for fans of Anne McCaffrey. Relationships are just as important as the really well-developed world building and high intensity adventure.


Michelle is a friend and I am so thrilled at how successful this series is. Not to brag (too much) but I saw the gorgeous cover before the big reveal :) 

3 Stars
Review: Humans in Space. The Psychological Hurdles by Nick Kanas
Humans in Space: The Psychological Hurdles (Springer Praxis Books) - Nick Kanas

Ho hum. Good book marred by not hitting one audience strongly. The structure, style and loads of referencing were that of a solid academic article. The author said it was written for the general public. Ah, like me?


When I read popular science, I expect the book to do the hard work of bringing the science alive. In "Humans in Space" I felt that a really rich topic faded into reviewing studies into it - and some of the studies frankly felt lame. (Then again, maybe I'm grouchy -- it's like when I watch the news and see a report of some study that I wonder how on earth it ever got funding).


So much potential in what was written - the impact of isolation on crews, but also on families left behind, can be partly assessed by submariners' and polar expeditionary experiences; issues of psychological profiling to construct crews; different cultural responses and assessment of responses.


I was underwhelmed and frustrated by the book. I guess my expectations just didn't match. I wanted a sense of how astronauts (both those who've gone to space and those who trained but didn't make it off Earth) struggle with issues brought out by the unique venture. What I got was one person's recap of their professional research.


Bah. I'm grouchy this Monday morning. Someone send more coffee!

My Kindle

Reblogged from Yodamom Finds her Force
4 Stars
Review: The Bogan Delusion by David Nichols
The Bogan Delusion - David Nichols

"The Bogan Delusion" was interesting. Written in blog-style, chatty yet informed, it questioned what is meant by the term "bogan". This is a term difficult to define, which is the author's point. If you've not heard of "bogans", think "white trash" or similarly dismissive and derogatory terms. But do so with the knowledge that many Australians proudly self-identify as "bogan".


I enjoyed the book's many references to Australian popular culture. I nodded and smiled and yes, I knew the words to some of the songs :) But underneath this surface chat was a deeper question.


The book is really about the spaces we occupy. How we claim, defend and shift our cultural, emotional, economic and ecological landscapes. Hence the violence with which people label and attack notions of "boganness".


"The Bogan Delusion" triggered a degree of reflection. How do I define a bogan? I've typed and retyped my answer, but after reading this book, I'm well aware that all my definition would reveal is my own experience and prejudice.


Oh well. Here goes. I grew up among bogans. The old neighbourhood is long gone, lost to rezoning into an industrial development. But our neighbourhood was bogan in its loyalty to its own, its tolerance to those within it but not of outsiders, and in the passion with which everyone pursued their own interests. Bogans are closer to anarchy than other sections of society simply because they don't expect society to change, or attempt to make society change, to support their dreams and needs. Bogans live in often harsh realities, but they're resilient, self-aware, and have begun to award themselves the respect others try to take from them. "Bogan and proud" is the slogan.


But to go back to "The Bogan Delusion" it had an interesting critique of housing development. I'll be looking at the suburban block differently from here on in. Perhaps it's not as bad as the inner city apartment building developers would have us believe?

Current Read: The Bogan Delusion by David Nichols
The Bogan Delusion - David Nichols

"The Bogan Delusion" by David Nichols was an impulse borrow from the library. It references a lot of Australian pop culture familiar to someone my aching-bones age.


I'm not sure if anyone outside of Australia has heard the term "bogan". Even the book can't give a clear definition -- which is kind of the author's point.


Think of a working class label used with disdain by middle-class/intellectual critics, but at the same time, worn with pride! Confused? 


The style of "The Bogan Delusion" reads a lot like a blog post.


I'm enjoying it. I grew up in a neighbourhood happily bogan (although the term wasn't around then) and it's an interesting puzzle to read the book and try to define just why I'd call my neighbourhood (the people of whom I loved and we chat on Facebook and miss the old days, the neighbourhood having been levelled for industrial development) bogan.