Sunday, August 31, 2014

Killing Floor by Lee Child


Jack Reacher - Book 1

At first I was going to rate this as 3.5 stars, but then I thought for a moment and decided that, no, it really is more a 4 star read for me because for almost all of it, I resented having to put the book down and take care of other things. *LOL*

For the most part, the book was non-stop plot moving forward. Lots of action, lots of important exchanges of dialogue, lots of simple but thorough scene-setting and the introduction of interesting characters throughout the whole of the novel. Jack Reacher, the main character, is an interesting fellow. At 6' 5", 200+ lbs, he's a very big man. And man of few words we come to know.

Thanks to the introduction written by the author that tells of how Jack came to be, I went into the story with an idea in mind of who and how he would be. Child describes him as somewhat of a "knight-errant" and I'll go along with that. He mentions comparisons to Shane or some of the Zane Grey westerns that my grandfather loved so much. It's a very apt description. As is a kinship with John D. MacDonald's 'Travis McGee' series of mysteries which I love to bits.

The novel is written in the 1st person, so we necessarily see everything through Jack's eyes and hear the story from Jack himself. And maybe that's why the narrative sentences are so short and choppy. I will admit that I tended to read them as longer after a bit. Was that me getting used to it? Maybe. :) As I said on Twitter, though, Lee Child hates commas and loves periods.

The secondary characters were nicely drawn and fleshed out, even though we see them as Jack sees them. I just wish Child had named the lady cop differently. Roscoe just conjures visions of Roscoe Lee Brown far too easily in my brain. *LOL*

The only time the book lost me was in the midst of some of the longer-winded explanations of why the bad guys a) were doing what they were doing, b) how they were able to do it and c)how all the people were intertwined. I felt like my eyes were beginning to glaze over at some points during the final quarter of the book.

There were some terrific plot twists - minor as well as major. I did not see the first biggie coming at ALL, so kudos to Mr. Child. :) And you know what? The story of this town, Margrave, had a feel of the TV show Banshee about it. Not a bad thing. Just interesting.

All in all, a great fun read for folks who like suspense thrillers and a hero who is different and intriguing. I'll be reading more of his adventures, that's for sure.

Box O' Dailey

Box o' Dailey

More of the book collection.

These are my Janet Daileys that I've been collecting... well, since she started writing. *LOL* Yes, there is another layer of books beneath the top. (I had them out of the shelf to add details to the book database.) I have all but 4 of her Americana series. They're all very dated now, but I still love my collection and remember the reads quite fondly. She sure had some crazy hero names though!

My D. E. Stevenson Collection

My D.E. Stevenson collection. I was fine-tuning the Book Collectorz catalogue today and had them all out to check details.

I got most of them from my aunt who was wonderful about catering to my reading addiction. When I was a girl, she would use any occasion to buy me a book. :) D.E. Stevenson was one of her favourite authors and she hooked me on her stuff as well. Sweet, feel-good British romances. :)

Thanks Auntie Blanche!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

10 Books That Made an Impression on Me

As others have done (thanks Liz Loves, it occurred to me that I should add this list here, in my book blog, where I talk about books. *LOL* So, in no particular order, these are 10 books that made an impression on me.

1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.- The first time I read this I was in Mr. Wallace's grade 7 English class and I have read it every couple of years since. It's my favourite book of all time.

2. Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay - This is a close second to To Kill A Mockingbird. It's simply one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. It's a fantasy, yes, but the magic or fantastical parts are far from the most important thing about it. Everything about it is perfect. Including the ending which has the most perfect cliffhanger EVER. And it stops there. No sequel, no series, this is a one shot deal. And couldn't have ended any other way.

3. A Private Gentleman by Heidi Cullinan - An excellent romance. This was the first historical m/m romance I had read and the characters were so beautifully flawed. I think this is the book where I fell in love with Heidi's writing.

4. High Deryni by Katherine Kurtz - This was the first fantasy book I ever read and it began an odyssey that has spanned over 40 years now. At the time, I was a teenager, maybe 14 or 15 and hooked on historical romances. I found this book in a pile of second hand books at my aunt's that had come from a friend of hers. It had kings and queens and, how interesting, magic! So I gave it a try. The Deryni books are still favourites today. :)

5. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas - I was around 12 or 13 when I read this for the first time. It was my dad's book. It was also the first 'classic' I had ever read. I loved it! I have read most of the others in the D'Artagnan romances since.

6. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin (Vol. 3 in the Song of Fire and Ice saga) - This was the book that taught me that authors were not to be trusted and I mean that in the best way, really. I learned that favourite characters are expendable no matter how 'main' they are. I learned what a ruthless storyteller really is and that I could adore an author while hating him with the fire of 10 burning suns.

7. The Golden Hawk by Frank Yerby - The first 'grown-up' book I remember reading. Pirates. Big blond heroes. Action, adventure, romance. A real pot-boiler. :) I LOVE IT!

8. Tailchaser's Song by Tad Williams - Really the most charming anthropomorphic book. Better than Watership Down even and not just because it's about cats! It's a really beautifully written book.

9. Swordspoint by Ellen Kusher - You've seen my love for swashbuckling and historical settings in many of the other books of this list. Swordspoint was special in that it was probably the first book I read where the heroes weren't straight. It's also a terrific story and wonderfully crafted and written.

10. Under the Rushes by Amy Lane - I just recently read this book and I cannot get it out of my mind. Even though I have read a couple of really good books since, I find that when not otherwise occupied, my thoughts continue to stray back to this wonderful world that Amy created and peopled with such enchanting characters. Superhero Steampunk Sci-Fi - that's how I classify it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bone Rider by J. Fally


I LOVED THIS BOOK! Loved it so much I gave it 5 stars which is something I don't do easily these days, since I tightened up my ratings 'criteria'.

I bought this book on an impulse one night near the end of March, after seeing one of my favourite authors, Amy Lane, make a comment on Twitter about how one of the characters was her new book boyfriend and how she was enjoying the book. I am SO glad I followed that impulse!!

Bone Rider is set in contemporary time and is the story of a sentient alien armor system (who ends up naming himself McClane) and Riley the good-natured cowboy who's on the run from a failed relationship with Misha, a Russian mobster hitman. We also meet Misha's best friend, Andrej. His good friend J.C.. Misha's employee/friend Kolya and of course Misha's sister, Maryia. And the military folks including the doctor and the general and the president. All these characters, every last one of them, works for me.

Bone Rider was like a movie on the page. I was hooked from the beginning and could not put it down. The action was fast-paced and the battle scenes, for once, were clear and easy to follow. There were lots of periods of introspection by the characters, especially Riley and Misha, but they didn't feel like info dumps at all - they were perfect insights into the characters and served to move the story forward. There were sex scenes and each and every one of them were integral to the story. Bone Rider is an excellent example of how to write hot, steamy, fun, heartbreaking, intimate sex scenes and make them matter.

Bone Rider is funny too. I laughed out loud so many times, especially with McClane learning the ropes and Riley's reactions to him. And then the camaraderie of the 3 Russians - Misha, Andrej and Kolya - a bunch of smartasses at times and I loved it.

Now I've been pretty immersed in the world of m/m for the past couple of years and when Bone Rider came out back in October/November of 2013 I don't remember much of a buzz at all. I have NO idea why. This book would DEFINITELY appeal to the legions of fans of Abigail Roux and SE Jakes. Is it because it's marketed/catagorised as a Science Fiction/Western? Because really, it's more of an Adventure with futuristic elements. Okay, what's the difference between that an Sci-Fi? Well... McClane, even though he is an alien AI armour system is an actual full-fleshed character as opposed to a piece of futuristic weaponry. The whole book just doesn't have a sci-fi feel to it at all. As far as it being a western.... well, Riley is considered a cowboy, but a modern day cowboy and there are NO horses involved at all - except maybe under the hood of Riley's truck or Kolya's muscle car. So I really think it was, and continues to be erroneously marketed.

Anyway... you like Abi Roux and SE Jakes? You like action/adventure? You like fast-paced novels with great characters, wonderful relationships and fun dialogue? READ THIS BOOK!! I don't give my 5 stars easily, but with Bone Rider, it was a no-brainer!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Think of England by KJ Charles


I loved it! Think of England is the story of Archie Curtis and Daniel da Silva, complete opposites inside and out, and I fell in love with them both. Thrown together by happenstance at a country house at a turn of the century (1904) house party, they soon find out that they have many things in common. And thereby hangs the tale. :)

KJ Charles always does her homework and it shows in this novel. The mystery works. The characters are wonderfully drawn. The setting and atmosphere are artfully presented. The dialogue is perfect for the time period, evocative, real and engaging. The love story is sweet without being saccharine. (Daniel is ANYTHING but saccharine! *LOL*) And it doesn't overwhelm the story. The sex scenes are intimate and hot and the attraction between Archie and Daniel, while sudden and quick, works quite nicely I thought.

I also enjoyed the ladies, Fen and Pat and find myself hoping that if KJ continues to write about the adventures of Archie and Daniel, they won't be left out of the fun.

All in all, a terrific m/m romantic suspense historical novel. Yeah, I would definitely read more about the adventures of Archie and Daniel.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Beyond Temptation by Kit Rocha


Beyond - Book 3.5

I love the Beyond series. I find the world-building fascinating, the characters full and diverse and the plots are usually integral to the development of the main characters. I didn't find it so in this novella.

Beyond Temptation felt like filler to me. This is #3.5 in the Beyond series and I honestly didn't feel the urgency or the 'this love is destined for me' in it. It fell sorta flat. :/ I didn't feel that I got to know Emma at all, other than that she's a tattoo apprentice, likes to strip and has found her family with the O'Kanes. And as for Noah, he's supposed to be the token beta-male, I guess, but he's still built like a brick shithouse and while we got his backstory nicely laid out for us, I didn't feel like I really got to know him the way I've gotten to know other Beyond heroes. (Thank GOD this didn't carry over to Book 4 which features my favourite of all the Beyond characters, male or female, Ace.) The think is, I think that computer whiz Noah could have become one of the best-beloved of the gang with a little more attention.

I was disappointed, but it was still a good erotic read - I just wish the non-sex scenes had carried the weight the sex scenes did.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Under the Rushes by Amy Lane


The Grande Dame of Angst delivers something unexpected in this out of the ordinary novel. Most folks know Amy as the talented author of contemporary angsty wonderful gay romances, peopled with characters that you fall in love with and suffer right along with them when they get put through the wringer, physically, emotionally and even spiritually. Well we have that here, but it's the setting that's so different - if I were categorise this book, I would call it a romantic steampunky superhero sci-fi novel. The cover sort of screams traditional steampunk, but it's more than that. It's like steampunk set on Victorian Aldebaron with superheroes.

One of the many things that Amy writes well is the creation of a family - sometimes it's a family of outcasts, sometimes a family of necessity, sometimes a family of circumstance but always a family of love, protection, acceptance and always of hope. Even in the darkest of hours - and believe me, Amy delivers on those - even in the darkest hours, there is always a tiny glimmer of hope.

The two main characters, Dorjan and Taern have their fair share of tragedy and then some in their pasts and indeed in their present as well, but they find each other. Despite everything, including themselves, they find each other. They are lovely and I wept of both happiness and sadness for them and their love story unfolded. Then there is Areau, Dori's best friend and close to the most damaged character that I think Amy has ever written. (At least that I have read). I ended up loving him the best, I think. And then Krissa and Mrs. Wrinkles and Madame M... such WONDERFUL secondary characters. And the baddies... so bad and nasty and weak, driven by greed and a lust for power.

Amy has given us a tale frought with sadness and danger, but also imbued it with love and hope and trust. The world-building is not intense but it works as the foundation for the story it serves. The creations of Nyx and then Cricket were so much the Batman and Robin growing into Nightwing, of my mind and since I have been an UBER fan of Robin/Nightwing/Dick Grayson from the age of 8 or 9 (that's back in 1964 kids!) it delighted me no end.

I love this book with all the love I feel for the Promise series and Clear Water and while it may have small imperfections to the genre purists out there, it's a 5-star read for me. :)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Thousand Names by Django Wexler


The Shadow Campaigns - Book 1

I loved this book. :) I actually surprised myself by how much I enjoyed it. I had it on my Christmas list because I'd read in numerous places that people had enjoyed it and the blurb appealed to me, so on the list it went. My son bought it for me and I finally cracked it open last week. And couldn't put it down. Sadly, most of my reading is done before dropping off to sleep, so I never seemed able to read as much of it as I would have liked in one sitting. *LOL*

Anyway... it was the characters that caught hold of me from the beginning. Marcus d'Ivoire, Winter Ihernglass, Colonel Janus and the trio of corporals, Bobby, Graff and Folsom, Lieutenant Fitz; they drew me into the story from the get-go. And the world-building and scene-setting was thorough without being boringly over-whelming - a trap many fantasy authors fall into. And there are no elves, trolls, dwarves, unicorns or wild wizards on mountain tops. *LOL* The fantasy here is more of a Game of Thrones type than a Lord of the Rings.

It's a military fantasy and made me think of the Sharpe books by Bernard Cornwell, books by Larry Bond without the techno, books by Harold Coyle and even the Richard Bolitho books by Alexander Kent. The action takes place in a setting I thought of as being similar to Northern Africa and into the desert. There's some magic, but not a whole lot, just enough for the important bits. The Thousand Names are seldom mentioned even though they become a very pivotal plot point and then it's like... OH OF COURSE! :) I said that to myself a few times during the book when certain reveals came.

The adventure wraps up quite neatly, but the story is by no means finished. There's a cliff-hanger, but it's not one where you scream and throw the book across the room. It feels natural. *LOL* Actually, it's kind of like a movie in the Marvel series of films.

Django Wexler has written a juicy, enthralling, action/adventure thrill-ride with some wonderful characters and I can't wait to get a hold of book 2!