Jane Vows Vengeance–Michael Thomas Ford

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This appears to be the last of three books in this series. Jane Austen was turned into a vampire by Lord Byron and is currently living her life as a bookseller and author in a small town on the east coast.

In this book, she’s dealing with the issues that were developed in the last books. Specifically, she’s engaged to a mortal man whose mother is a vampire hunter and only will stop trying to kill her if she produces a child.

They have decided to go on an architectural tour of Europe (her, her fiance, her future mother-in-law, her best friend and the best friend’s boyfriend) as a combination destination wedding and honeymoon.

But things go wrong almost from the beginning. Their wedding is crashed by her husband, the husband Jane Austen was briefly married to during her original non-vampire lifespan, which stops the wedding and creates issues between Jane and her fiance.

Then she hears a rumor from another vampire of Crispin’s Needle, which at least theoretically can make her mortal again. The idea is, you stab yourself in the heart with the needle and your soul is returned to you and you stop being a vampire.

She then spends the rest of her trip trying to find the needle. Her old nemesis Charlotte Bronte makes an appearance, and things mostly end with happily ever after.

These are cute, playful, well-written books that are fun for those who love Austen and mysteries.

The Lost Night–Jayne Castle

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From Salman Rushdie to cheesy romance novels. At least no one can claim that I don’t have wide-ranging literary tastes.

Jayne Castle is one of the pseudonyms of Jayne Ann Krentz. She writes contemporary romances under her own name, historical romances under the name Amanda Quick, and futuristic romances under the name Jayne Castle.

I usually stick to the historical ones, but I somehow got started on one of the futuristic series and now here we are, reading futuristic romance novels with paranormal elements.

In this book, Rachel is an aura reader of unusually high skill and is let go from her job at a psychic mental hospital when her bosses didn’t believe that one of the patients was seriously scary and faking his metal health illness. She goes back to the little island she was raised on and takes over her family’s tea shop and bookstore.

Rainshadow Island has a huge unexplored section of land that is off-limits to people because of the strong and unpredictable psychic energy there. Most people aren’t strong enough to cross the psychic barrier but she did a few years ago. She lost twelve hours of her life and during that time managed to get into and then back out of the Preserve.

Now, the Preserve is behaving oddly and is creating weather disturbances. Harry Sebastian, a security expert from the foundation that owns the preserve, is on the island to figure out what the heck is happening. He targets her as either a suspect or someone who knows something about the Preserver, but her amnesia of that night is hampering him.

In typical romance novel fashion, sparks fly, sex happens, and they solve the mystery of the Preserve and defeat the bad guys together.

These books are fun, and if you’re a romance reader looking for something different, these are a good choice.

The Ground Beneath Her Feet–Salman Rushdie

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I recently got the opportunity to see Rushdie speak live, which is amazing and awesome, especially when you consider how many years he had to hide from the world. He was, as you might expect, a lovely speaker. He was clever, thoughtful and funny.

This book, not one of his more famous (the 1001 books to read before you die list suggests “Midnight’s Children,” “Shame,” and “The Satanic Verses”) is, like all of his work, dense but playful.

As everyone in the world who reads this book instantly sees, it’s a variation of the Orpheus myth, but with the typical Rushdie flair.

In this book, the action centers on a beautiful and charismatic woman, Vina. There are two men who love her, Ormus (read Orpheus) and Umeed, familiarly known as Rai. It tracks the childhood of all three of them, with their assorted family dramas, and the transitions that bring them out of India, into England and then later to America, and make Ormus and Vina the center of the rising world of rock and roll.

There are scenes in this book that stay with you. Rai in the barn with the dead photographer that preceded him on an undercover sting for a news story. Vina’s childhood experiences, almost all of them.

Rushdie has a firm grasp on what provokes a visceral response in his readers. All his books stay with you, but first time readers should realize that his style is not straightforward. Expect to take a few chapters to get used to it and then go back and re-read from the beginning.

But Rushdie is always worth reading. He says deep, meaningful things about some of the biggest questions of our time, from the role of religious leaders to the plight of immigrants.