Monday, April 30, 2012

Lindira by Ann Somerville


I had downloaded this little gem to my ereader a while ago, so when I picked it out to read today, I had totally forgotten what it was about. :) What a pleasant rediscovery! 

A quick, heart-breaking, sensual, sweet tale of gods, shape-shifters, demi-gods, love, magic and curses, it did not disappoint. I love Ann's writing, how she turns phrases and the respect she shows all her characters by allowing them to be flawed and sometimes less than heroic. Even the fable-perfect ending was right. All in all, it was the perfect read for a chilly, rainy afternoon.

Muscling Through by JL Merrow


What an unexpected, thoroughly charming treat this turned out to be! I can't for the life of me remember why I decided to pick this novella up, but I'm sure glad I did. 

Written in the first person, the storyteller is Al and he is the most charming, sweetest, honest, unexpected (there's that word again) narrator ever, I think. His voice is decidedly unique and that makes this FP (first person) tale stand out from many others in any genre, really. I actually could hear him telling me the story of him and his love, Larry as I read - he sounded like one of the guys from Coronation Street. :) One of the things that impressed me about this work was the parts where Al is relating the sexual encounters. They're hot, yes, but they're also told in an honest and realistic voice which could easily turn vulgar, but they never do. For me, this will be the perfect comfort story and I know I'm going to reread it again and probably again. :) 

I highly recommend this!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Rhapsody for Piano and Ghost


What a sweet, heart-warming book! A real comfort read. I can actually see myself reading it again when I need an emotional cozy blanket.

We have a pair of adorable main characters, Fitz and Ari, as well as a mischievous pair of ghosts, Serge and Julian. We get to follow Fitz as he comes of age and realises (with his fairy ghost-fathers' help) that he's really quite special in some eyes. :) I don't know if any kind of sequel is planned - and quite frankly, there doesn't always NEED to be a furtheration of the main couple's adventures - but that being said, I like Fitz and Ari and their ghosties so much that I wouldn't be averse to reading their further adventures. :) 

There were a few persnickety nit-picks that I could mention, but nothing that really damaged my enjoyment of the story. 

This was my first Z. A. Maxfield and I'm safe in saying that it won't be my last. :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Rebuilding Year by Kaje Harper


Oh, it was good. :) A true romance, I thought. I fell for both main characters, 

John and Ryan and even though the whole 'gay for you' usually makes my back teeth itch, it was okay this time. Both men were damaged and even though their Rebuilding Year went a long way towards healing, I was left with the impression - a good impression, mind you - that there were still going to be 'things' to crop up. (Maybe John and Ryan are whispering to Kaje that they have more story to tell? I could hope!)

So yeah, lovely main characters, a believable development of the relationship, a kid that wasn't annoying and out of place and a tantalising glimpse of Ryan's family - all very good things. And I like how Kaje writes, it's full but it's easy to read, the flow is really good. The sex and love scenes are hot and steamy and the moments of tenderness and affection plentiful - something I like very much. 

I enjoyed the secondary plot of the kids and the drugs etc, it didn't seem overdone and gave an added depth to the story. The climax of the story, where Ryan has to face his fears, I really enjoyed. For action scenes it worked really well for me, there was an urgency and a tension that sometimes action scenes in books don't have. 

The one thing that bugged me was John's ex and her new husband when they came to the house. Up until then, they were working for me, but I found the sudden anti-gay ranting and raving using all the panicked, uninformed clichés to be jarring. Okay, the reason they are clichés is that they happen all the time, I get that. I have no problem with their worries that Mark living with his gay dad and his lover was going to be bad for the boy, I just thought the ignorant hysterics took away from the character. I didn't want to hate John's ex because dammit, he did love her for a long, long time, but this argument seemed geared towards making the reader despise the couple. I'd rather have just despised the new husband. :)

So, I'm hoping that Kaje has more tales of John and Ryan to tell and would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good, heart-warming tale. :) Oh!!! And Kaje originally comes from Montreal!! Like me!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Country Mouse by Amy Lane and Aleksandr Voinov


Country Mouse - Book 1

This was just the thing to cleanse my reading palate after experiencing the horrendous writing of 50 Shades of Grey.

I kind of fell in love with Owen and Malcolm. :) They are cute and handsome, have wonderful sex, fall for each other in 60 hours and have messy hair. Oh... and they banter. I love banter. I love clever banter, and theirs is definitely that. 

I had a couple of tiny negatives. First there was the missing pair of jeans during the encounter on the couch. Owen's jeans. They slid along the leather when he moved... and then he was in his boxers suddenly. How did they come off and where did they go? I actually paged back in my e-reader because I couldn't get it out of my mind. 

The other thing that sticks out, was the treatment of Owen's friend, and I use the term loosely, Jenny, I think her name was. She felt very cardboard and clichéd, but in a story this short, I understand that supporting characters - the only one really - is going to get short shrift, but I felt a little sad for her. She was so unlikable. 

That out of the way... this partnership of Amy and Aleksandr which sounds so, almost crazy, at first thought, works really, really well! The narrative was pretty much seamless and the two styles gelled together quite well. I wouldn't have been able to say it was a co-authorship if I hadn't already known, to be honest. I have never read any Aleksandr Voinov (Amy is one of my fave of fave authors.), but I think I'm going to have to add him to my list after this. 

I hate the way Goodreads catagorises their stars. 4 stars should mean more than I really liked it. 5 stars is perfect, but for ME, 4 stars means it was really, really good, almost perfect. And I'm anxious to learn more about Owen and Malcolm - I kinda feel shortchanged! *LOL* Amy and Aleksander MUST WRITE MORE!!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James


Fifty Shades - Book 1

I despair of the reading community. That such a badly written piece of tripe can have so many stellar ratings... I shake my head in disbelief. And to add insult to injury, the damned thing is a best-seller with the movie rights just being sold for many, many $. Where's the virgin that E.L. James sacrificed? Oh right... in her book. *eyeroll*

So, this was written originally as a Twilight AU (Alternate Universe) fanfic. It shows. All over the place. I will admit to never falling prey to reading any of the Twilight books, but the things I have seen written about Bella, the main character, could have been written about our virginal Anastasia. (And believe me, you don't need to have read/seen Twilight to be aware of the story and characters, the over-saturated media saw to that.)

It's badly, badly written. Ms James has proclaimed in her 20/20 interview that she is not a very good writer (or something along those lines) and she'd be right! I have read many first person present tense tales (they are very common in fanfic land) and the actual craft of writing was far better than in 50 Shades. 

I find the heroine, Anastasia, to be whiney, wibbly, totally unlikable and so damned... thinking she's better than those deviants who practice BDSM. And she has no agency, no purpose, nothing. She has no depth. The only really likable thing about her was her unruly hair. 

Our hero, Christian, was much more likable to me, although I got very tired, very quickly of hearing how other-worldly gorgeous the man was. (One of the many instances where this author could have used a professional editor - and if she did? She was bamboozled.) He seemed to have many interesting layers and I would like to have known more about him, to be honest. (I will add that I never, ever pictured Robert Pattinson when reading about Christian. Robert being far, far from my idea of drop-dead gorgeous and sexy.) 

One thing I can point out as it's very fresh in my mind, was the Deus ex Machina that is Anastasia's talking in her sleep. We discover this in the final 10% (bless you, my Kobo) of the book. And it's very important to the story - pivotal one might say. Something that important the author couldn't have mentioned earlier, say in some conversation with her roommate or something? So at least it doesn't look so contrived? 

The positives in the book were the emails between the main characters. I think that's where we see the true personalities come through and actually can like these two people! Too bad the whole thing couldn't have been done by email. 

And the book ends... excuse me... Part One ends with a totally clichéd cliffhanger that is a blatant ploy to get you to buy the next book OMG RIGHT NOW to find out what happens. That'd be another $9.99 for more bad writing. Yep. *nodnod*

I think what annoys me the most is that, among other things, this trilogy is touted as bringing BDSM to the mainstream. Yet... yet... the BDSM dom needs to be 'fixed'. He's the way he is because of some unexplained abuse as a child. The only reason that Anastasia enjoys the things that she participates in, is because HE likes and wants it. The enjoyment that she gets from it is always termed as dark and shadowy and she's always totally embarrassed by these reactions. (I have long-time friends who are no doubt laughing their asses off at this review, BTW. All I can say is that 20 years have passed. *g*) I can't imagine that the BDSM community is very thrilled about this portrayal of their lifestyle. 

I hated this book. Is it obvious? *LOL* I have read far better erotic BDSM romance stories in various fandoms that I frequent. (And they cost me NOTHING!) Better conceived, better written, better characters, just plain better all around. 

Will I buy the second novel? I sincerely doubt it. I have no plans to right now, that's for sure. I don't CARE if Christian comes after Anastasia! I don't CARE to find out who's missing (I suspect the sister, but since I don't know the Twilight plot...), I don't really CARE to find out why Christian doesn't want to be touched. I just. Don't. Care.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks


Lightbringer Series - Book 1

Goodreads ratings annoy the hell out of me. I'd have given The Black Prism 3.5 stars to be honest.

I enjoyed this book enough to want to read the second book when it comes out, but not enough to wail and gnash my teeth that I have to wait. :) 

Again, Weeks comes up with an interesting twist for his world. Colour magic. Colour magic which is a two-edged sword. The more you use it, the more debilitating it is on your mental health. I have to admit that even after reading 700+ pages, I'm still a wee bit confused on how it actually works. But it does work and that's the main thing for a fantasy world - that the magic work.

The characters - I felt that I was just getting to know them when the book came to an end. Kip, Gavin, Karris, Liv, Corvan, they all seemed to take shape in the last 150 pages of the book. Luckily, they turned out to be interesting folks of whom I want to read more. One thing though, I really wanted to see/know more about the Guile matriarch, she seemed quite the interesting woman, but sadly, we don't get to see much of her. Or Ironfist! I really need more Ironfist! 

I read in another review that for that reader, the turning point in the book for them, the point where they got invested, was when Kip met Ironfist and I have to agree. That's the point where I started to want to read just one more chapter before bed. :) Weeks has improved his writing skills since his Night Angel Trilogy. I love being able to watch an author develop as I read his/her works and I would very much recommend this book to anyone who likes fantastical adventure. Just be prepared to wait until September 2012 for the next volume.

Codex Derynianus by Katherine Kurtz and Robert Reginald


Codex Derynianus: Being a Comprehensive Guide to the Peoples, Places & Things of the Derynye & the Human Worlds.

Amazing book for the total Deryni fan! And that'd be me. :) I've been waiting for years to get my hands on my own copy of this and finally, I have!