Thursday, June 21, 2018

Going Dark by Linda Nagata

4 Stars

The Red Trilogy - Book 3

I have no idea why I enjoyed this near-future military trilogy as much as I did, but there you go, I did.

The hero of the trilogy, James Shelley, has gone through hell... multiple times.  He's been manipulated, pushed from pillar to post, lied to, betrayed... jeez... all kinds of horrible things.  And I keep coming back for more.  *LOL*

There's action galore in this third book.  Some new team members to get to know.  More mysteries about The Red.  It's pretty much non-stop from the get go.  Nagata writes so well that I can pretty much see the action happening in my mind's eye.  Part of the might be the 1st person POV coupled with the present tense which works. 

I was pretty much satisfied with the way the trilogy wrapped up, but I'd be lying if I said it was a perfect ending.  I was left with a bit of a nebulous feeling of bad things still out there underneath the surface despite everything.  And maybe that's a trope of this type of book.  The main point is, that it didn't really detract from my overall pleasure with the trilogy.

I have another Nagata book in my Kobo and I'm looking forward to reading it. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

DNF

I tried, folks, I really tried hard!  I bought this book because everyone recommended it.  All the book blogs, all the SFF authors and even some of the authors in other genres that I follow.  I loved the idea of it.  And then it got picked up for a movie treatment.  It had to be good, right?

Well.. not for me. 

I made it 1/3rd of the way through.  Nothing happened.  Nothing except a lot of clever writing that in it's overabundance drowned out any delight in the humour I could find.  I'm not made for this type of writing, for this type of book.  It's Douglas Adams-like for sure and certain and I assume that fans of his work - and they are legion - will enjoy this book immensely.  I tried so hard to enjoy it, but I couldn't.

So, for me DNF, but that's my fault and not the book's.  :)

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Sin and Tonic by Rhys Ford

4 Stars

Sinners Series - Book 6

Rhys Ford's books never disappoint me.  And this, the last of the Sinners series is no different. 

Miki St John and Kane Morgan finally get their totally happy ending.  Yeah, yeah, they got a happy ending in the first book of the series when they found each other and found their love, but there was so much of their story that still needed to be told.  Especially in Miki's case!

So here we wrap it all up.  We come full circle and everyone is there for the event.  Miki's band members, Kane's siblings and parents and for me, having my favourite of all the Sinners characters, Quinn, play such an important, albeit small, part in the story was the best.  And OMG, Brigid and Donal - they are the best parents ever!!

I have only one problem and that's why I didn't give the book another half star.  Rhys is desperately fond of her characters sneering and smirking.  I hate sneering and smirking heroic characters!  It doesn't make them tough and edgy and cutely cynical.  Sneering and smirking are for villains and icky people, not the ones I love, so...  not 4.5 stars.

But other than that one small (in the whole scheme of things) thing, the book was terrific.  The closing circle of the series was perfect.  And Miki and Kane got their for real HEA.  I'm a happy reader.

The Crimson Campaign by Brian McClellan

4 Stars

The Powder Mage Trilogy - Book 2

I'm late in writing up my thoughts again.  Bad habit, that.  I must get better.  Especially when the read was as good as this one was.

I totally enjoyed my first foray into what they call Flintlock Fantasy with the first book in this trilogy, Promise of Blood, so finally, tired of waiting for this second book to go on sale, I actually paid full price for it.  $12.99 for an e-book published 4 years ago.  That is SO not me.  But I needed to read it!

All my favourites were back - well, except the ones the author killed off in the first book!  *LOL*  Adamat, the police inspector; Tamas, the veteran field marshal; Taniel Two-shot, Tamas' son and powerful powder mage; Ka-poel, Vlora, Bor, Olem... and more. 

I love the fullness of the characters, not a one is totally light or totally dark.  They're nuanced and believable.  The setting is richly drawn, the atmosphere alive and the world-building nothing short of remarkable, IMO.  The plots are intricate, be they the big over-arching ones or the small, private ones.

Brian McClellan is a terrific story-teller and I love the world he's created and the people he's populated it with.  The third novel of the trilogy is calling for me as are all the novellas and short stories. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly

3.5 Stars

The Amberlough Dossier - Book One

The book I read was not the book I thought I was going to read.  I'm not sure what I expected, but what I got ended up being interesting and thought-provoking, especially in this day and age.

Amberlough is a fictional province in a fictional country called Gedda. A double-agent sacrifices all his ideals in order to save his smuggler lover before a government coup takes over their decadent city in this glam spy thriller, or as I've also heard it called - a cabaret thriller. (Think 1930s Germany)

I had problems with what felt to me like slowness in the first 2/3rds of the book, if I'm being honest.  It felt draggy and what's the point, even though the writing was quite good and I will admit, it built up the atmosphere quite well.  It set up a lot of backstory and situational things about the governments and past spy doings that are needed to tell the tale.  But I think I was just not in the right frame of mind to enjoy it. Because the writing is very special and engaging and perfect for the 'period' of the book.

I've seen the book spoken about in romance circles, but it's not really a romance.  Yes, there is a romance at the heart of it, a love story for the ages type of thing, but it's not any kind of HEA that I know about.

The book ends on a cliffhanger and while that usually pisses me off, I was okay with it this time.  It fit the book.  And the book is clever, it's dark, it's scary (especially when held up against the current shit going on in the world), it's exciting.  But there are moments of humour and moments of true sweetness and gentleness, but baby, they're few and far between.  And maybe all the more precious for it.

Anyway, I'll be looking for the second book when it comes out.  Wondering what's happened to the three main characters and if we'll be seeing any of them again.  Two of them I think for sure we will, the third?  I'm not certain at all.

Anyway, Amberlough ended up being a different and intriguing read.  Check it out.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

First Watch by Dale Lucas

3.5 Stars

The Fifth Ward - Book 1

I read a blurb about this book where it said that it reminded the reader of an episode of the TV show Hill Street Blues. And I think I must agree. 

The story is told through the eyes of Rem, a young man of noble blood new to the city of Yenara.  He's left home - I believe he's a younger son - and I can't quite remember if we're ever told exactly why.  We are told that his father was quite demanding and, to Rem, belittling towards him. Rem gets thrown into the city dungeons and then, stroke of luck, gets offered the chance to join the Watch Wardens.  Which he takes, because lets face it, it's better than rotting in the dungeons, right? 

Rem is teamed up with a cantankerous dwarf by the name of Torvil to begin with, Torvil's regular partner having not shown up for his shift. And the adventure begins.

There's no new ground broken with this book.  It's an adventure, a buddy tale, about two mis-matched guys in the city police force who have a mystery to solve.  A mystery that includes murder, theft, drugs, kidnappings and elves, orcs, dwarves, mages and humans all existing together in this melting pot of a city.  It's a fun read and while maybe predictable in spots, the characters are definitely charming and the writing is quick-paced and the narrative flows quite well. 

I liked it and I'll definitely be looking for the next book when it comes out this summer.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Vision in White by Nora Roberts

3.5 Stars

Bride Quartet - Book 1

I almost forgot to write this up! 

So, a Nora romance does what a Nora romance does for me.  Makes me smile, makes me chuckle, makes me tear up and makes me sigh a little, a happy sigh, at the end.  La Nora is a comfort read for me.

And Vision in White doesn't lack in that category. 

It's not the best Nora I've read, nor is it the worst.  4 gals run a wedding business.  One stop shopping for the big day.  Now this is really all lost on me because I think the money spent on these spectacles would be far better spent on a vacation or a house or a car or... well, you get my drift.

Anyway, book one is about the photographer, Mackensie and Carter, the high school English teacher.  I have to say, for the first few chapters I wondered if we were going to find out that Carter was on the spectrum, but no, he was just being an iffily written safe, stable and a little befuddled guy.  I liked him a lot in the second half of the book.

Anyway, sweet romance, fun dialogue and far too much details about wedding planning.  *LOL*  I have the other three in the Kobo for the next time I need a comfort read. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Wisp of a Thing by Alex Bledsoe

4 Stars

Novels of the Tufa #2

I really enjoy Alex Bledsoe's voice.  His writing is easy yet rich and full.  Perfect for the subject matter of North America's fairy population. It's not an urban fantasy, it's more a contemporary, rural fantasy, I think.  Set in the Appalachian mountains and peopled with a whole bunch of unique characters, it's the place where Rob Quillan, a musician haunted by tragedy, comes in search of a song to heal him. 

Now there may be other books out there about the other-worldly creatures in this part of North America, but I can't really recall any.  As it is Bledsoe walks the perfect line of keeping the story sounding ... um, not of the city .... yet not sounding like the Clampetts.  His characters are characters, not caricatures and some you love, some you hate and some you just... know.  It's a homey book, but with an edge.  :)

And the fairy-folk themselves.  They're not the grand lord and lady types, not the ethereal little nymphs, not the austere folk we see portrayed so often.  They're good, they're bad, they're dark, they're light and they're not quite like anything I've read about before.

I think if you're a fan of Charles de Lint, you'll enjoy this series. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Pretty Face by Lucy Parker

4.5 Stars

London Celebrities - Book 2

I loved it.  Pure and simple. I loved it like I loved the first book in the series.  It's fun and it's sexy and it's honestly a joy to read, just in the way it's crafted. 

Back when I was a tween, hell, I guess I'd have been about 10 or 11 (1966/1967 to put it in time frame), I started reading the Penny Parrish books by Janet Lambert.  Sweet, teenage type romances that followed Army kid Penny through her teenage to her adult years.  And Penny became a famous Broadway actress who ended up marrying her director and it was MARVELOUS!  Then, a few years later, I read one of my first Harlequin Romances - Kay Thorpe's Curtain Call (1971) and absolutely loved it.  So much that other than my Janet Dailey collection, it's the only Harlequin of hundreds that I've read that I have left on my bookshelves.  Lucy Parker's books bring me back to that time and remind me of the dreams I had as a girl, to be a stage actress (didn't happen *LOL*, but I still love the dream).  I feel the same way reading Lucy's books as I did back then and I like the feeling - it's a good one.

The characters are terrific and never perfect, even the secondary or thirderary.  *LOL*  I know, I made up that word, it should be tertiary, I think.  Anyway, Lucy's characters, while they are bigger than life, which, of course, they are or who'd want to read about them, they are also relatable with flaws and not so nice traits at times.  I especially liked the way Margo, the hero's ex, was portrayed.  Her emotions and motivations when dealing with Lily and Luc are real and understandable.  She's not a martyr, nor is she a bitch.  I liked that!

Another important thing that I loved was that the author navigated the pitfalls of the power imbalance between the big director and the young actress very well.  It never felt icky or anywhere near #metoo-ish.  Luc was always respectful and mindful of the power imbalances as was Lily and they spoke about them.  So, kudos to Lucy!  That could have gone very wrong.

One thing that Lucy weaves throughout her stories is a sense of fun and witty humour.  I love it!  I've even laughed out loud while reading.  Which brings me back to the girl I once was.  Back in the day, my best friend, Cat, and I used to devour romances - Harlequins, Heyers, Silhouettes... we'd sit and read, different books, and read out delightful passages to each other and then... we'd trade books!  Had we had Lucy Parker's books back in the day, there would be a ton of passages read out loud and then, I'm pretty sure we'd make sure we each had our own copies.  :) 

Oh, read these books!  Sexy and fun and I just love them!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Borderline by Mishell Baker

3.5 Stars

The Arcadia Project - Book 1

I picked up this book after reading this review by KJ Charles (one of my fave authors).  I don't read everything that KJ recs, because some of it isn't my cup of tea, but many of the books she recommends I eventually pick up and try out.  I've not been disappointed yet!

So I found this book, the first in the The Arcadia Project series, fascinating for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, the main character who narrates the story, Millie, is one of the most intriguing main characters I've read in a long while.  I can't say it better than KJ does in her review (so if you didn't read it, go and click the link and READ IT!).  What I can say, is that I grew to really LIKE her by the end of the book and can't wait to see what she gets up to in the next book. 

Secondly, I liked the way the two worlds/realities were treated.  Sure, we didn't see anything of the fairy realm itself, just some of the creatures and beings that inhabit it and cross over into our world. I have to hope that we see more of it and learn more of it in the next book.

So, even though I'm not a huge fan of urban fantasy/paranormal, I really did enjoy this one and will be adding the second novel to my list.