Thursday, December 3, 2015

Hounded by Kevin Hearne


The Iron Druid Chronicles - Book 1

Not complicated. The book was a fun read, a rollicking adventure with clever and witty characters and The Best Dog Ever!

I totally enjoyed it and will be reading on in this series. :)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Changeless by Gail Carriger


The Parasol Protectorate - Book 2

2nd book in the Parasol Protectorate series and it was even more fun than the first one! We meet a bunch of new friends and learn more about Conall's background and indeed more about the workings of a werewolf pack.

Rollicking. :) That's how I would describe this tale. I find myself laughing aloud, especially at Alexia's inner dialogue. I love her dry humour and her business-like manner. One thing that the author does is imbue her characters with a sense of humour - all of the characters. That just brings them alive to me. I didn't see enough of my favourite secondary characters though... Akeldama and Lyall. Maybe in the next volume. :)

The book ends with quite the cliffhanger so now I have to decide if I break my rule of not binge-reading series. Decisions, decisions, decisions.... ;)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Pinch of the Game by Charley Descoteaux


So I was looking for a quick read and this light-hearted novella seemed to be just the thing. And it was... I enjoyed it... I think. But I'm still so confused. I feel as if I was missing many different parts of the story for it to make sense. Maybe it's just me, maybe I'm not up on the conventions of paranormal type stories, but I sincerely found myself left with more questions at the end of the story than at the beginning!

I liked the characters, the main characters and the secondary ones, but it being a novella, I felt as if some of them were given short shrift, sadly. We only got to see the surface of many of them. And I know that too much 'backstory' is considered anathema in a lot of romances, but I think this tale could have profited from a little more than I got. I would also have liked a little more explanation of the magic and how it works in this reality.

It's a shame, really, because I enjoy Charley's writing and I think this story was filled with great ideas and the glimmers of fun characters but... I shouldn't be left thinking I've missed reading half the book. :( I was disappointed.

But I must add... I love the cover art! It's gorgeous!

The Dead of Winter by Peter Kirby


Luc Vanier Mysteries - Book 1

I picked this up because I saw the author interviewed on our local news and I liked him. :)

So it's a mystery set in Montreal, starring Police Inspector Luc Vanier and I loved seeing all the familiar places pop up in the book and the familiar Montreal attitudes and personalities. It all felt nice and familiar.

The mystery itself was fairly well plotted and kept me wondering until quite far along in the book. I enjoyed the different characters, good guys and bad guys - most of them were nicely fleshed out. I also enjoyed the voice of the book. Just enough introspection and thoughtfulness to make things interesting. I do wonder, however, what it was that made Luc's wife pack up and leave. I guess I have to read the next one to find out. *LOL*

Anyway, a very enjoyable read for me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Provoked by Joanna Chambers


Enlightenment - Book 1

This is the first of three books in the Enlightenment series of m/m regency historicals. All three books follow the story of David Lauriston who is a "lowborn" lawyer (for the life of me right now I can't remember if he's a solicitor or a barrister) and Lord Murdo Balfour. What begins as a furtive yet heated encounter in a dark side alley becomes a story of growing and undeniable attraction for the two men.

It's much more than a love story though. There's the story of the weavers that David defended in the courts and the search for the man that infiltrated them. There's the clashing of two social worlds, the working class and the aristocrats. It's a very full novel! :)

The characters are very well drawn, even the secondary characters. No cookie cutters here. They all have flaws, nobody is perfect and I love that.

And don't go looking for a HEA here... or even a HFN... this is the first installment of a three-part story and I have no doubt that there will be a happy ending at the very end of the third part and even if it's not traditionally happy, it will be quite satisfying.

Now I must get the other two books! *LOL*

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Sinner's Gin by Rhys Ford


Sinners - Book 1

Rhys Ford never disappoints. :) I loved the Cole McGinnis series and it looks like I'm going to feel the same way about this Sinners series if Sinner's Gin is any indication.

Miki St. John is a rockstar with a tragic past. Kane Morgan is a cop with a HUGE Irish family. They're both great characters and I fell for them easily. :) Their love story is satisfying and their sexytimes scenes are numerous and steamy. The mystery works for the most part (I'm still wondering about that last attack and why the perp went there, but...) and justice eventually prevails. :)

There's a dog. His name is Dude and he is QUITE hysterical.

Kane's family is something else. Gorgeous, Irish, huge, quirky, loving. I love families like these in my romances. Yeah, there's going to be issues in all that perfection, but that's part of the fun for me!

I really enjoyed Sinner's Gin and am looking forward to the rest of the series. :)

So yeah, once again, Rhys does not disappoint.

Love Like Ghosts by Ally Blue


Bay City Paranormal Investigations - Book 7
Mojo Mystery Series - Book 1
So this book is officially #7 in the Bay City Paranormal Investigations series, but it really is the introduction to a new series, the Mojo Mystery Series which stars the oldest son of one of the MCs of the BCP series. So, that being said... I picked this up because someone recced the latest in the Mojo series and since this one was on sale, I figured to give the series a try.

I got tricked (okay, not tricked but...) into a NA book, I think. I found both the main characters, Adrian (the afore-mentioned son) and Greg really quite unlikable. Both of them whine, they both jump to silly conclusions, they both have tantrums, they're both suspicious of everything the other does... they were just very tiresome. I found myself thinking that if they were both open and honest with each other about the shit from their pasts that was making them both so 'skittish?', then more attention could be paid to actually growing their relationship and also, figuring out what the deal was with the ghost. But isn't all this DRAMA part and parcel of the New Adult book experience? UGH!

Another thing that bothered me was the introduction of a ton of negligible characters - classmates, neighbours etc... Do we really need to name them and give them a tiny backstory if we're only going to see them on one page handing something to one of the MCs? I don't think so.

So, that being said, will I read the other books in the series? At some point, probably. I've enjoyed other stories by this author and I do respect the opinion of the person who recced the latest in the series to me, but for now, I think I shall let Adrian and Greg be.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson


Josphine Tey Mysteries - Book 1

So it wasn't my favourite mystery that I've read in the past while, but it wasn't bad at all. I think I had trouble with too many POVs. It felt like the author wanted us to have the POV of everyone who was a suspect. Which gave the book a certain depth, I think, but made it a bit of a slog for me. Also... it was touted as a Josephine Tey mystery, but we certainly didn't see a lot of her solving the mystery. It was much more Archie Penrose mystery, I think. Archie being Josephine's good friend and a police inspector.
I wasn't certain who the murder was until it unfolded on the page and that's always a plus. I thought it was someone else. What annoys me is that the author never tells us what happened to that someone else, like she does with most of the other 'suspects'.

So, while not a favourite, should the next in the series be on sale, I will pick it up.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Craving Flight by Tamsen Parker


A terrific off the beaten path novella that was recced last weekend by Bree of Kit Rocha fame. This was a freebie on both Kobo and Amazon, so I urge you, if you like BDSM erotica, go and download it!

Our heroine is a Jewish University professor who has decided to embrace the more Orthodox lifestyle of her religion. The hero is a kosher butcher in the Orthodox community from a very orthodox family. Both have been previously married, he's a widower and she's divorced. I liked both of them and totally believed their love story. And the D/s elements were very well done. I think the story could have been expanded and the developing relationships explored a little more, but all in all, it was a really enjoyable and interesting read. I learned stuff about the Orthodox Jewish community too. :)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Siren by Tiffany Reisz


The Original Sinners - Book 1

I picked this book up because I read Tiffany Reisz's blog post for Queer Romance Month and was intrigued. As I said in my comment to this post, I headed over to Amazon Canada and it was on sale so it seemed like I was fated to read this book. :) I did. And OMG, it was NOT what I expected.

First off, if you're going to go into reading this with the idea that it's a kinky, queer romance... baby, it ain't that! Oh, there's romance, there's kink, there's queer, but what this book is... is... hell, I don't know. It's the story of a woman, her obsessions, her loves, her needs, her desires, her darkest thoughts... it's ... well look, I'm going to link romance author Courtney Milan's Goodreads review here. She says things SO much better than I ever could.

Courtney Milan on The Siren

There are a lot of things in this book that I wasn't okay with... A LOT. That's why I could only give it 4 stars and not 5, even though it probably deserves the 5. *LOL* But there was a lot that was uncomfortable to read, but I couldn't NOT read it. There was so much PAIN. Physical and emotional and while I looked for some of the glory and the wonder that I know can exist in BDSM, there was little of that here. I didn't like Nora and I didn't like Soren but Dear Lord, they were fascinating! (I did like Zach, Wes and what I saw of Griffin and Kingsley)

Will I read the next book in the series? The Angel? Yes, I will But not right away. After The Siren, I've picked up something totally different. A fantasy adventure. With magic and stuff. Because The Siren just wrecked me all to hell. :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Master of Crows by Grace Draven


What a yummy, yummy fantasy romance! I really enjoyed it! Enough so that I recommended it to a friend who enjoys romances in a fantasy setting. Fantasy as in magic and spells and creatures and gods. If you're looking for someone to stand alongside Anne Bishop in your fantasy romance bookcase, Grace Draven will fit the bill.

In Master of Crows we meet Martise (an AWFUL name that bugged me through the whole book I must admit) of Asher, the slave, or bondwoman if you prefer, of the Bishop of the magical Conclave. He is taking her to spy on the renegade Silhara of Neith, The Master of Crows. He has requested an apprentice from The Conclave who knows ancient languages and luckily, Martise is such a person. So, in order to gain her freedom, she agrees to spy for The Conclave. But... she falls in love and thereby hangs the tale.

The first thing I liked about this book was the fact that Martise was a full grown woman, no wet behind the ears NA heroine here, thank God. She's also not a shrinking virgin. It felt to me that she had more than one or two encounters with men in her past, but only one deep relationship that managed to break her heart. She's no beauty by any means, but she does have one of the sexiest voices imaginable. That works for me just fine. :) She's a simple woman, really, and I grew to like her a lot.

Silhara is an arrogant SOB from the get go, but I think he's entitled to a lot of his arrogance. And he's gorgeous, at least in my mind. Hawklike features, tall, lean, muscles where men should have muscles, and the most beautiful head of long inky hair that is TO DIE FOR. *g* He's real purty! I really enjoyed how he just really wanted to be an orange farmer despite the massive magic power that he possesses. I think I fell for him along with Martise. *LOL*

I guess one could say that Martise and Silhara's love story is predictable, but it's the interaction between the two that makes it stand out. Clever dialogue. I love clever dialogue and clever characters. And characters that aren't afraid to laugh at themselves and these two - as well as the wonderful Gurn, friend and servant - are not afraid to do just that. I liked watching Martise and Silhara fall in love while trying to find a way to concur the Big Baddy. It took it's time happening and that was fine with me - I found the slow build up to the explosive first sex scene to be actually very sexy. And the sexytimes themselves... oooh boy! *fanning* They weren't numerous, but damn they were good.

And you know what? The story, with a few lovely twists and turns, wraps up in this one volume! Yes, there is a novella that follows this novel, but I think it's like an extra added adventure.

So, to whoever recced me this book, Bree from Kit Rocha maybe? Or maybe it was from the Twitter convo she inspired about romantic fantasies? Good call!!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Champion of the Scarlet Wolf (Book 2) by Ginn Hale


Cadelonian Series - Book 4

I loved this 4th book in the Cadeleonian series. I loved the magic in it. I loved the old gods and the feel of history. I loved the characters, main and secondary and even the characters that got little more than a walk-on. I loved the animals... I swear, Elezar's stallion, Cobre, was one of my favourite characters in the whole book and I was ready to do the author a violence on his behalf on more than one occasion! *LOL*

The love story between Elezar and Skellan was very satisfying to me. They were both so different for the most part, but they complimented each other perfectly. And they were similar in their ... fundamental beliefs about life. I loved how their intimacy and feelings grew and matured over both Scarlet Wolf books. And that there was humour in their relationship as well. And with Javier and Kiram as well. I'd love to see these 4 on an adventure together. *LOL*

My only complaint, I think, was that the whole epic story got wrapped up so quickly. Not the final 'battle', per se, but the resolution of the various interpersonal conflicts. In some ways it felt as if the author was finished with telling the story and that was that. Maybe she's planning a return to this universe - which I have absolutely NO PROBLEM with! - and in that case, some unanswered questions are warranted. I did want more of a final scene between Skellan and Bone-Crusher.

One last thing... the last line, IMO, was a weak one. But I find that I'm very persnickety about last lines and often authors aren't at the top of their game with them. This time, it just felt... lacking.

Anyway... maybe it's wouldn't be a 4.5 star book for some people, but I loved it in spite of the caveats!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Champion of the Scarlet Wolf (Book 1) by Ginn Hale


Cadelonian Series - Book 3

Wonderful fun book! Terrific characters that I can quickly to love. I'm so glad to be reading Elezar's story - I always thought there was more to him than we were allowed to see in the Lord of the White Hell books.

And as with the Lord of the White Hell duology - there's an insane cliffhanger that makes me very happy that I learned from my previous experience and waited until I had both books to begin reading.

So, contrary to what I usually do with series books these days, I'm diving right in to Book 2!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Down and Dirty by Rhys Ford


Cole McGinnis Mysteries - Book 5

So people clamoured to hear Bobby's story, Bobby being Cole McGinnis' (of the Cole McGinnis Mysteries) best friend. I was definitely not averse - especially when it led to getting to know Cole's new brother, Ichiro, Ichi.

Down and Dirty is not a mystery. It takes place in the same time frame as Dirty Deeds and we get to see some episodes from Dirty Deeds through another pair of eyes. Which is really interesting because maybe it's not used a lot. Thankfully. :)

It's a romance. It's Bobby and Ichi's romance and it's sweet and hot and fun and sexy and even heart-breaking at some points. Some of Bobby's inner dialogues about himself being a couple of those points. And Ichi's memories of growing up. I would have liked more between Bobby and his son, Jamie and see more interaction between them and Ichi.

So Down and Dirty is another fun and sexy read from Rhys Ford and a welcome addition to the series. :)

Oh, if I didn't mention it before, when I read about Bobby, I envision Chris Meloni in my mind's eye.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Ha'Penny by Jo Walton


Small Change - Book 2

Inspector Carmichael of Scotland Yard is back and boy has he got problems!

The alternate world that Jo Walton has created, "In 1949, eight years after the "Peace with Honor" was negotiated between Great Britain and Nazi Germany by the Farthing Set, England has completed its slide into fascist dicatorship.", is utterly fascinating. It causes you to ponder the might have beens and what ifs. Fascinating. :)

I call this book a thriller as opposed to a mystery because it's really not about who killed whom and why, it's a race (even if the 'good guys' don't know it until near the end) against time and a bomb that could change the world once again. So it felt more like a thriller.

Again, Walton alternates her narrative between the 1st Person POV of actress Viola Lark and the 3rd person tight POV of Inspector Carmichael. And again, it works very, very well. I was concerned that Viola would turn out to be too similar to Lucy, the heroine of the first book, but her voice was quite different and quite distinct.

I was thrilled to see Jack, Carmichael's long-time partner, get some screen time in this book. It was quite interesting to see more of Carmichael's private life and learn more about how he has to be so very careful in this reality.

There's some heart-break in this book as well and I found myself tearing up a time or two and at one point I think I actually yelled at the author. *LOL*

A yummy, delicious, complex, intriguing, fascinating treat and I can't wait to read #3 in the series.

Reaper of Souls by Jordan L. Hawk


SPECTR Series - Book 3

Not really much to say about this instalment of the Spectr series except that I totally enjoyed it. There was some character grown from both Caleb and John and I really liked how John's opinion and feelings towards Gray are changing and growing. Caleb remains a lot of fun and I really enjoy the 'inside' interactions between him and Gray.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Mercy by HelenKay Dimon


Holton Woods Series - Book 1

How can one enjoy a romance book so much and dislike the heroine so much at the same time? I dunno, but I did. *LOL*

(It's not the first time either - Lex from the Kit Rocha Beyond series is not one of my faves but I adore the series and the rest of the gang.)

I follow HelenKay on Twitter and have for a while, yet this is the first thing of hers that I've read. I started following her because I loved the RTs of hers I would read in other authors' feeds. And because she loves Strike Back which is one of my favourite shows. *LOL*

So yes, Mercy is the first of her books I have read. I bought the premise for the most part - disavowed CIA agent seeks help from the man she betrayed - even though I was never quite clear on the details of the original operation and how anyone but Becca, the heroine, figured into things. But we're here for the romance, so my little twinges were easily overlooked.

Jarrett is the hero, and I quite liked him, even when he was being a total douchenozzle. Maybe I could relate easily to his wish to get revenge for how Becca destroyed him and then when it came right down to it, he couldn't and that pissed him off even more. I get that. *LOL* I would have liked a wee bit more on why he was so much in love with Becca other than that whole incredible physical attraction. Yes, it was about trust and feeling safe, but I found myself wishing for a little more outright talking about those issues between the two of them.

My favourite character in the book was Wade, Jarrett's second in command. Oh, I fell hard for him. His love story is heart-breaking, so thank God I know there's more to come in the subsequent book and novella or else I'd have to go postal. And bravo to HelenKay for having this as a huge sub-plot in the book. Not many authors would give that much page time to an m/m love story. Hopefully... HOPEFULLY, Eli gets a little more palatable as things go along, because man, he's got a crazy hair trigger and HUGE anger issues. And I also loved what we saw of Jarrett's other best friend and lawyer, Sebastian, Bast as they call him. When reading about him I thought of James Scott who played EJ DiMera on Days of Our Lives. I also liked the bits we saw of Kyra, Wade's little sister. Even Nathalie, the CIA agent ended up okay by the end of the book.

So then there's Becca - the heroine. I never warmed up to her at all. I found her a self-centred, short-tempered, selfish, game-playing brat. This is probably why I thought I needed more communication between her and Jarrett to fully buy the deep, abiding love. I get that in the situation being written about where the woman puts herself under the man's control in a sort of coerced manner, the author has to be careful about the consent line and the alphahole syndrome etc... but, for me, instead of coming off as a strong, independent, capable woman, she often came off as shrill and over-bearing.

But that being said, I really, really enjoyed the book! *LOL* Imagine if I'd actually LIKED the heroine! I am anxious to read the next one but it's not in the book budget this month unless it goes on sale. :( I do have the novella, Taken, in my Kobo, but I'm assuming I should read Only first.

If you like hot, sexy, edge-of-danger tales with lots and lots of sex, well, this one's for you!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu


The Dandelion Dynasty - Book 1

What a good book! A real tasty read. I enjoyed it so much!
You know, the word exotic is looked down upon these days, in some quarters, as some kind of insult, but to this gal, brought up in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the setting of this epic story was very exotic to me. I kept thinking that it had a Samoan feel to it and what the hell do I know about Samoan culture or anything at all, but I think it was the islands that did it.

So this is Ken Liu's first book. What a talent! His work puts me in mind of Guy Gavriel Kay's work. Tigana, The Lions of Al-Rassan etc... The Grace of Kings is the story of rebellion and upheaval, heroes and villains, gods behaving badly at times and of how being a good man or woman is far from a clear-cut thing.

Liu has created a fascinating world for us to travel through. There are not a lot of what I'd call fantasy-trappings. There are a few odd creatures, meddling gods and maybe a trick or two but that's about it. We follow the story of the two main characters, the heroes of the story, Kuni and Mata, who are heart-breakingly real with their flaws and uncertainties. Indeed, all the characters are multi-dimensional, even the ones that only appear for a few pages. And the women are as deftly drawn as the men. Just when you think you know how a character is going to react, they surprise you and there are damned fine reasons for them to do what they do.

This is also a story that poses different questions through the narrative. Is a tyrant really a tyrant? Does the hero always do heroic things and indeed are these heroic things only heroic depending on which side of the fence you're on? And even the most basic, what is right and what is wrong. I will admit to having to refer to the cast of characters provided by the author at the beginning of the book in order to keep who was who straight at times. Again, I shall plead my brain not being used to the sound and look of them. I referred to the map as well, and I will say that it's the one drawback of reading on an ereader. The inability to flip back and forth easily. But that's nothing to do with the wonderfulness of the book. :)

A luscious book. Intriguing. Fascinating. And while it's the first of the Dandelion Dynasty trilogy (oh, the story of the Dandelion is WONDERFUL!!) I didn't feel as if the story left anything untold by the time I got to the end but I can't wait to read the next one! :)

Ken Liu. Remember that name.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Another Place in Time by Various Authors


There are 6 stories in this historical anthology and every one of them is a winner.

Office Romance by Tamara Allen
Introducing Mr. Winterbourne by Joanna Chambers
The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh by KJ Charles
Unfair in Love and War by Kaje Harper
Carousel by Jordan L. Hawk
Deliverance by Aleksandr Voinov

The stories take place in different historical eras and each one is a little gem that I can totally recommend. WW2, Regency, Victorian, The Crusades... each story features terrific characters, actual plots, sexy and romantic interludes, real emotions, laughter and tears. I mean they have everything you'd want in a historical romance no matter the era. I'm not one for short stories usually. I find many of them lacking substance. Not these!

They were all so, so good, but if you were to demand that I choose a favourite, I'd have to say The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh by KJ Charles. The heat in this story, the intensity of the two characters in their dealings with each other, the moments of humour and the moments of sadness... man... it was really really really good. :)

I should add that the only author I'd not read before was Joanna Chambers and she's now on my Get More Books By This Author list. I have her Provoked in my TBR pile.

So if you want to check out some historical m/m romance, this is a terrific place to start! It's also a must-read for those that are already loving the genre. :)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Charming by Elliott James


Pax Arcana - Book 1

John Charming is no prince. Yet. He's a half-breed werewolf as well as being a trained Templar knight.

Charming is one of those Urban Fantasy paranormal, supernatural hunter type books but told from the POV of a guy, instead of the ubiquitous woman. At least what I figure is ubiquitous judging from all the paranormal cover art that I see.

I liked the premise. I liked most of the characters. I was okay with the story of the vampire hive etc... What I wasn't okay with was the clunky love story that I didn't believe for a minute or the co-plot with the 'psychic'. I also found the action sequences to be too much... too many words... too long. I don't get the same charge out of them as I do when I see them on the TV or movie screen.

I expected more out of this book and I'm really glad I managed to get it on sale. Should the next one in the series go on sale, I wouldn't be averse to picking it up, but I won't go seeking it out.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Dirty Deeds by Rhys Ford


Cole McGinnis Mysteries - Book 4

#4 in the Cole McGinnis series is the best one yet, in my opinion. The relationship between Cole and Jae is growing, although I will admit that I'd have liked a little more conversation between them and a little less sex. Rhys Ford writes deliciously wonderful sex scenes but too much of a good thing tends to take away some of that goodness.

In this book, we find out a lot more of what happened to Cole back when he was on the police force and his partner murdered his boyfriend and tried to murder him and then killed himself. At least I think he killed himself. I have to say, some of the story and motivations surrounding this part of Cole's tale is still rather murky to me, but I think it's supposed to be. At least I hope so! *LOL*

I would have liked to see a little more of Cole's brothers and more of Jae's family. I know the next book is to feature Ichi and Bobby, Cole's best friend, so hopefully there'll be more family type stuff.

And I've begun to cast the Cole McGinnis movie in my head when I realised that while reading, anytime I'd read about Bobby, I was seeing Christopher Meloni (Law & Order SVU, Oz etc...). I also tend to see Cole as Ian Anthony Dale (Adam from H50) even though I think that Cole isn't supposed to be quite so Asian of feature? I can't remember. *LOL*

Anyway, I totally enjoyed the read and am looking forward to the next one. :)

Rebound Remedy by Christine D'Abo


A cute generic contemporary holiday romance. I really liked one of the main characters, Owen, the bar owner but the other MC, Cole, left me cold. I didn't dislike him, I was just rather meh about him.

All in all, I didn't dislike the book, but I didn't love it either. I think it could have been a lot more with a little work.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Fashionable Indulgence by KJ Charles


Society of Gentlemen - Book 1

5 Stars, yes indeed! I loved it, pure and simple. KJ Charles is one of my favourite authors and she most certainly did not disappoint with this first entry into her new Society of Gentlemen series.

A Fashionable Indulgence tells the story of Harry Vane and Julius Norreys.

When he learns that he could be the heir to an unexpected fortune, Harry Vane rejects his past as a Radical fighting for government reform and sets about wooing his lovely cousin. But his heart is captured instead by the most beautiful, chic man he’s ever met: the dandy tasked with instructing him in the manners and style of the ton. Harry’s new station demands conformity—and yet the one thing he desires is a taste of the wrong pair of lips.
After witnessing firsthand the horrors of Waterloo, Julius Norreys sought refuge behind the luxurious facade of the upper crust. Now he concerns himself exclusively with the cut of his coat and the quality of his boots. And yet his protégé is so unblemished by cynicism that he inspires the first flare of genuine desire Julius has felt in years. He cannot protect Harry from the worst excesses of society. But together they can withstand the high price of passion.
I was beginning chapter 3 and I was already in love with the whole cast of characters, each one of them unique and may I say flawed in their own special ways. Real people, I think. :)

It was as if Georgette Heyer had decided to write a romance about two men and add in a few more racy scenes than her norm. :) And then about halfway through the book, things get serious and it's no longer a story of manners and such, but almost a mystery/adventure. And add in some serious political insight too.

This is one of those books that make me wish I could write an insightful, educated, knowledgeable review but I can't. And I really regret that, because I think KJ is a supremely talented writer and would love to do her justice. But, I can just say that I adored the book, loved the story, adored the characters and I cannot WAIT for the next book in the series. :)

EDT: I forgot to mention that I'd been saving this review/rec post to add to my own because it says things I wish I could. Check it out. :)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Still Life by Louise Penny


Chief Inspector Gamache - Book 1

I'd been wanting to try this series for a while now, but when Book #1 of 11 (latest comes out on August 25th) goes for $13.99 Cdn, it's a pricey tryout. But finally, the price dropped to $9.99 and I picked it up.

Oh, I'm so glad I did!!

Louise Penny is Canadian and the book (the whole series as a matter of fact) are set in a small (fictional) town only about an hour away from my home. The main character is Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sureté du Quebec (provincial police) and he's past 50 years old, married and a unique sort. :) I liked him a lot. I liked his inner dialogue and I liked his moments of self-deprecating humour. I know men like this - very Montreal francophone. In my movie of the book, I would cast Colm Feore in the role.

The supporting characters are great too. French, English, a mix of both - again, very Montreal and surrounding areas. And they're all flawed. Well, except Gamache's right hand man, Jean-Guy Beauvais. I didn't spot any flaws in him and maybe that's how it's supposed to be. :)

The inhabitants of the small town of Three Pines are unique and very familiar to me too. Some are likable and others, not so much. There are many stories to be told about these folks in this small town, secrets upon secrets and we've only begun to scratch the surface.

The mystery itself was good. Thinking back, there were clues I might have picked up on, but there were also misdirections, so I was never certain. And I will say that up until the last two chapters, the climax and the wrap-up, I really wasn't certain about who the murderer was.

One might think that the Gamache mysteries fall into the cozy mystery genre, but Louise Penny has a bit of a different voice from the British folk who are so good at that type of book. Like a Canadian. *LOL* I had a quibble or two at a couple of the political observations made by a couple of the characters - it's a very anglo way of looking at things - but you know, that's life in Quebec. :)

Anyway, I'm hooked and I fully intend to read the whole series. :) And I totally recommend it!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Dragon's Teeth by James A. Hetley


Stonefort - Book 2

Sometimes a book is so good that you zip along, turning page after page, quickly, afraid that you'll miss something if you don't read it RIGHT NOW! Other books are so good because it just feels so good to read them. You take them slow, savouring the flavour of the words, the turns of phrase, the distinctive voice of the author. I love both kinds of books.

Dragon's Teeth is the latter type. It has an easy cadence to it that made me want to read it slowly, the way I'd drink a tumbler of fine single malt scotch. You know, it reads like one would expect life in small town Maine to feel, if that makes any sense.

The second Stonefort book brings us back to the wonderful characters we met in Dragon's Eye. Alice and Kate. The Morgan brothers, Daniel and Ben. Young Gary and his half-sister, Caroline. And a new character as complex and out-of-the-ordinary as the others, Jane White. It's truly like rejoining old friends.
We pick up shortly after the events of Dragon's Eye and I found that I missed the two girls, Daniel's daughters, who had been sent off for a week in the wilderness with the Naskeag Indian side of the family. I liked the youthful perspective on things. But some books can only hold so many characters before the narrative becomes scattered and disjointed, so I can deal with them not being there.

While the story in Dragon's Eye had come to a close, there were still threads dangling and if not exactly dangling, they needed to be completely woven back into the fabric of Stonefort. Dragon's Teeth does this. We see how Gary and Caroline continue the family traditions whilst doing things their way at times. The new generation bringing their special talents to the game. Kate and Alice suffer more heartbreak and sadness, but they also get on with their lives. And Ben and Daniel? Well, a few surprises for them too and I have to say, I'd be really happy to read a book of their adventures. And the new kid on the block, Jane. I liked her. My God, she was odd and different and just this side of scary, but... BUT... there was something about her that made me admire her at the same time as wanting to protect her. Brave, brave girl.

I honestly loved this book. I think James Hetley is an author that should be more known than he is. His voice is different from the majority of what I call contemporary fantasy out there in all the good ways. I highly recommend him and the Stonefort series. :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

No Boundaries by SE Jakes


Phoenix Inc. Series - Book 1

A quick read that delivered what I expected. A bunch of hot, manly, damaged men indulging in sexytimes in between rescuing one of their own and solving the mystery.

I hadn't realised that this book was an offshoot of one of the volumes of the author's Men of Honor series but it is. It features the threesome of Styx, Law and Paolo in high-profile secondary roles as they support their friend and co-worker in the Phoenix Inc PI agency, Marcus as he protects and falls in love with the agency's latest and pro bono client, Cole.
I thought the stalker story was rather weak but as it was basically the raison d'etre to set up the romantic story, I guess it wasn't that big of a deal. Still, I could have done with more thought given to it.

I enjoy SE's books for the delightfully sexy romps they are but her Hell or High Water series remains my favourite.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Soulless by Gail Carriger


The Parasol Protectorate - Book 1

I've had the Parasol Protectorate series of books recommended to me by more than a few people. I was worried because it's not unknown for me to go off of something just because everyone else thinks it's grand.

Not the case here!

What a FUN romp! I love the premise, I love the characters and I adore the dialogue between those characters. The romance is quite lovely - amusing and hot and fun all at once. It totally worked for me.

The one thing that didn't so much were a few dialoguish anachronisms. I don't know if English Victorians said "Great!", for instance. The American might, but it wasn't him that said it. There were another couple of turns of phrase like that which struck my wrong on my 'reading ear'.

My favourite character did not die, neither did my other favourite character and if I may, Lord Akeldama's troupe of 'drones' have totally charmed me!

I'm so glad that I splurged and bought the boxed set! I'm looking forward to my next read with my Victorian AU friends!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Vicious by V.E. Schwab


If my memory serves me correctly, this was a book recced by horror/sci-fi/fantasy author Chuck Wendig. I already had the author's A Darker Shade of Magic on my 'to buy when the price goes down' list so when Chuck recced this and indicated that it was on sale for $1.99 (I think it was), I trotted off to check it out.

Vicious is not my usual fare, but the blurb sounded interesting. It didn't lean towards YA (the author also writes YA novels and I'm SO not a fan of YA these days) and hey... who can resist superhero type stuff! Not this comic-lover! So I bought it and read it and by God, it DOES read like a comic... graphic novel, maybe I should say to differentiate. It reminded me of Garth Ennis' The Boys in its darkness and moral ambiguity. And I really, really enjoyed it. More than I thought I would if I'm being honest.

So we're not talking superheroes exactly, or mutants, we're talking about EO's - Extra-Ordinaries. Yeah, they have superpowers, but oh man, do they come with a price. The main character, Victor Vale... is he a hero? Is he a villain? Or is he somewhere in between making him all the more human? He's a fascinating character and his inner ruminations on good/evil, hero/villain etc... are thought-provoking. And he has side-kicks/friends/strays who are equally as conflicted and multi-faceted.

So I mentioned comic books... and yes, this felt like one. One of the good ones, with all its layered story-telling, focus on the characters themselves, the moral and societal dilemmas. The words and phrases that Schwab uses drew pictures in my head, beautiful, artisty pictures. And you know... it'd make a great movie or limited run TV show too. Think of the recent Daredevil from Netflix. It has that kind of feel.

And the end... oh, I LOVED the ending!

It was a really good book. Really good.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Dirty Laundry by Rhys Ford


Cole McGinnis Mysteries - Book 3

Cole McGinnis is such a GUY. Seriously! I adore him. I love him and the family he's creating around himself. Jae, Bobby, Mike, Ichiro, Claudia, Claudia's kids, Scarlet... I could go on. *LOL* One day he'll look around - Jae too - and realise that they have one helluva family.

So, I still have a little bit of confusion trouble with the Korean names, but this time it wasn't so bad because the names weren't so similar. And there weren't more than one person called hyung (which I've probably spelled wrong. *LOL*).

This instalment of the Cole McGinnis Mysteries focused much more on Cole doing his thing than previous ones. It wasn't mostly eaten up by his relationship with Jae-Min which had its good points and bad. Good because I like a good mystery/action story and I really enjoy Cole and his inner dialogues. I like his relationships outside of Jae too, and they also need work, so I was glad to see that time was spent on them. The bad side of it, is that I really like Jae and I like him when he's with Cole and unfortunately, most of what we got this time around with Cole and Jae were chapters-long sex scenes. Now, I have no problem with a great sex scene and Rhys Ford writes some doozies, but honestly... sometimes too long is just too damned long. I'd have preferred more talking and interacting outside the bedroom.

I also look askance at the cliffhangers that Rhys seems to like so much, although this one didn't annoy me anywhere near what the previous one did. There was enough closure for me and enough foreshadowing to keep me interested in the next book. And it didn't seem as rushed to me as the previous one did.

The only real complaint I might have is that during the climax of the mystery, I kept wondering how such a 'situation' could happen in California and whether Cole and Bobby were really wusses in disguise. *LOL* I come from Montreal, so what slowed down and nearly stopped them seemed pretty lame to me.

Even despite the complaints and caveats I have, I've given this book 4 stars simply because it's so readable and enjoyable and I adore Cole and his voice. I'm looking forward to Book 4. :)

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Wolf's Hour by Robert R. McCammon


Michael Gallatin - Book 1

This was surprising read for me. Surprising because it's not really my normal fare and surprising because I quite enjoyed the read. I bought this book when author Chuck Wendig mentioned it in a tweet a few months ago and it ended up either being a 99¢ deal or a freebie. I figured what the hell... I enjoy WWII resistance fighter stories and I can put up with the 'shifter' aspect of it - not being overly fond of shifter stories - so I bought it and finally felt the urge to read it this past week.

Surprise! Yes, it's about a werewolf, but it's not a 'shifter' story. It's a story about a lycanthrope who is an allied spy and goes on a very important mission behind enemy lines just before D-Day. To me, 'shifter' implies a hefty dose of romance with the romantic interest having to come to terms with the shifter's otherness. None of that here. Mikhail Gallatinov (who becomes known as Michael Gallatin in Britian) is a lycanthrope, pure and simple and let me tell you, the chapters dealing with how he became such and how he grew into his 'power' are fascinating and really unlike anything I've ever read in a shifter book. Brutal, intense, logical, the transformation takes its time unfolding. By the time that part of the tale is finished, I really found I could empathise with Michael's duality. The chapter's dealing with Mikhail's youth and transformation are placed along the narrative, interspersing changes of venue on the mission. I really found these chapters masterfully done.

The part of the story dealing with the mission read to me like a James Bond story. And there's nothing wrong with that - action packed, filled with twists and turns, betrayals and rescues from unforseen quarters, a cast of friends and villains that are all familiar but fit perfectly in the story. I'm down with that! :) That's part of the fun of reading an adventure story.

One problem I had was that there is constant head-hopping. I think that maybe some of it has to do with the way the ebook is formatted, the double space between paragraphs that indicates a change of scene or POV was not there at certain times I thought it should be. Other times, it was just plain old head hopping and that annoyed me. Thank God it wasn't constant or I'd not have been able to enjoy the book at all - I'd have suffered from reading whiplash! *LOL*

Another small thing... I hate the cover of the book. It's so uninspiring. It would never have caught my eye, so it's a good thing that I followed Wendig's rec. :) For an interesting and different take on werewolves and a fun, action-packed WWII spy adventure, you could do much worse than read The Wolf's Hour. Which apparently is 11:00 for some reason I'm not sure was explained or not.

Ah, read it. It's a good one!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Dirty Secret by Rhys Ford


The Cole McGinnis Mysteries - Book 2

I love Cole McGinnis and I love Kim Jae-Min and I really wanted to give this book 4 stars but I couldn't for 2 reasons.

The first reason I'm almost ashamed to admit given the climate of PC-ness around the internet these days. It was the names... dear God, the Korean names. I actually enjoy all that I'm learning about the Korean culture through these books, some of it is downright fascinating - like the naming conventions. But they all 'read' the same to my brain, I think simply because I'm not used to them. I still am not sure exactly who the bad guy was in this book and how he was related to the rest of the cast. And I still don't get how Cole figured out what he figured out at the end - possibly a little refresher course of that certain scene much earlier in the book would have helped with that.

The other problem I had was the quick wrapping up of the story. it was almost as if max words had been reached and therefore here's the end. There were details that I didn't get closure with... what happened with certain secondary characters, for instance. It was like they just ... stopped... being. I also could have done without that final cliffhanger which to my mind only says.. come one you MUST buy the next book. Rhys' books are quite honestly more than good enough to buy the next one without that bit of manipulation.

All that being said... I love the main characters. I love that Rhys is taking her time creating their relationship and while it may be a bit of insta-lust, it's not insta-love. :) Cole and Jae are steamy together, no matter what they're doing. Having some of the best sex ever or just sitting cuddling together and talking or even making supper. It's all good. They're all good together. And the main secondary characters, especially Mike, Claudia and Bobby are terrific.

And the plotting for the mystery is good, (It so often is not in these romance-heavy books) despite my big problem with the names (see above). I honestly can see these books being made into a TV series.

To sum up, there was some head-scratching while reading but nothing that will stop me from continuing on with the next in the series. :) Or reading more Rhys Ford.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone


Craft Sequence - Book 2

This was a different book from most that I've read and that's a good thing. I'm always up for new avenues of fantasy. Here we're talking gods, I want to call them Aztec gods. I'm sadly lacking in much knowledge of ancient Aztec or Incan religions.

This book, indeed this series it seems, mixes these mythologies with a world of business where the currency is soulstuff and it feels like something dystopian? Post apocolyptic? That type of feeling.

It was an interesting read with intriguing characters (a very diverse cast for those to whom things like that matter), some of whom stole a bit of my heart (Teo and Four to name a couple) and I found I was left wanting more of them! There were also some flashes of humour which for me is always is important in a book.

Now, according to the author, each book in this series can stand alone - for instance, this book is odd in that it's the second book published as well as being the second in the series. Another odd thing is the titles of the books in the series. They tell you where the book falls in the chronological order of the series. For example, the first published book is titled Three Parts Dead which means it's 3rd in chronological order.

So yeah, not a really easy, zip-thru read, but an enjoyable one, for sure. I'll be reading more of Max Gladstone's Craft Sequence.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Mercenary by Cornelia Grey


My first thought is that I would have read more of the story of these two men. In fact, I just wish there was more all around. More of the desert settlement, more of the Technicians, more of little Athena, more of London, just MORE. *LOL*

I enjoyed the two main characters, Asher and Gabriel. I liked what I perceived to be their age difference and I believed the chemistry between them, even though I would have liked more about how that developed. :)

I've now read two of Cornelia Grey's novels and this novella and I can honestly say that I really enjoy her writing. One thing to mention is that there's always a little bit of humour no matter how dire the situation and I totally appreciate that.

I would have given this 4 stars except that I found in the couple of scenes prior to the climax of the story were given a bit of short shrift. I needed more fleshing out of the motivations of both Asher and Gabriel leading to the climax of the story.

All in all, a good, fun read. :)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Hammer and Bone by Kirby Crow


I will be honest, I bought this book because I enjoyed Kirby Crow's Scarlet and the White Wolf fantasy series and because I adore this book cover. I am not normally fond of short stories that are not part of an established universe and dark stories aren't my favourites either. But you know... living dangerously because that's a damned gorgeous cover.

Do NOT read the stories in this book expecting romances. They are not the HEAs you're looking for. What they are though, is damned fine writing. And dark... oooh my goodness, even the ones that have somewhat happyish endings are still dark. I felt as if I was bathing in luxurious prose while reading and it was a lovely feeling.

The stories were good. Very good. My faves were Knights of the Risen God and Sundog.

So in the end, I was very pleasantly surprised and would not hesitate to recommend this book to folks in search of dark, speculative fiction starring a nicely diverse cast of characters.

And that cover!!!

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley


The Rook Files - Book 1

On Her Majesty's Supernatural Secret Service is the tagline for this first novel from Daniel O'Malley and that's exactly what it is. What a fun read this was!

This was a guts buy from the get go. I saw it in a list of first books on a book blog, I think and was intrigued by the blurb so I added it to my 'to buy' list about a year ago. I don't recall any type of review or even comment on it, but I do remember that this was the part that hooked me...

She soon learns that she is a Rook, a high-ranking member of a secret organization called the Chequy that battles the many supernatural forces at work in Britain.
One of the things that makes this book stand out is that it's filled with humour and a healthy dose of irreverence. It has some real laugh out loud scenes which is like a breath of fresh air. Sometimes though, I thought the author got carried away and there was one scene in a very tense part of the book where the humour got fairly slapstick and if it had been toned down just a bit I think the scene would have worked a lot better.

There are also info-dumps... OMG, are there info-dumps! But you know what? They work for the most part because they're presented as letters of instruction from the former Myfanwy to the one in the story. There were one or two that I found a bit too long and tedious and wondered exactly what they were bringing to the narrative. For those two reasons, I rated The Rook as 4 stars instead of 4.5.

The characters are fun and if they're sometimes a bit over the top, I refer you to the tagline once again. Same thing with the plot. But it does all hang together, it all works, and that's what matters to me. This was a book I was looking forward to continue reading whenever I had to put it down. There's a second book coming in 2016 (Stiletto), but really, The Rook does stand well enough on its own.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Gasp! by Z.A. Maxfield


I always finish a book by ZAM with a smile and Gasp! was no exception. It's the story of Jeff, home from 3 tours of duty in Afghanistan and Nigel the rockstar and their journey to find love and find out what family really is.

I can't say that there's anything ground-breaking or earth-shatteringly stand-outish about this book, but it was a damned fine read. I can't say I fell in love with the main characters but I was supremely interested to see how they worked things out. And as seems to be getting more and more rare, they were mature men, not fresh-faced boys just out of college or even just IN college.

ZAM writes great dialogue. It runs the gamut from heart-breaking to laughter-inducing. And Nigel Gasp has a rapier-sharp wit that could only really belong to a British rockstar. The back and forth between Nigel and Jeff was very real and each had a totally distinct voice.

The story maybe meandered a bit, the plot was no more distinct than two men meet, gradually develop feelings for each other and grow as people in the process, but that is quite alright. It's truly the tale of the romance of Nigel and Jeff and all the more real for its - at times - seemingly wandering paths.

Nigel brought me near to tears a couple of times, but when he stays in the hospital near the end, the tears overflowed and I was actively crying. *LOL* And that's okay too.

Another winner from ZAM!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by KJ Charles


Simon Feximal Series

I loved this book and I'm so glad that the author decided to publish this as a collection instead of piecing them out over time as so often happens. Yes, it's a collection of short stories, but it flows so beautifully from one into the other, even if there are years in between them.

Simon Feximal is a most intriguing, dismaying, exasperating, wonderful and sensitive character and it's really not difficult to see why Robert Caldwell falls for him. And Robert himself, the light-hearted, optimistic, self-aware (The man is very quick to know and admit his fears, for instance.) journalist-turned-author is a treat. The stories are told from his POV and they never fail to hold one's interest. He never becomes pedantic or tiresome or too introspective as many 1st person narrators can. While reading, it actually felt like as if I was reading through a sheaf of servicable stationery written in ink in a sprawling handwriting - not my Kobo Aura H2O ereader. *LOL* Seriously!

Robert tells two tales really. The tale of his and Simon's work partnership, how they came to join together and learn how to work together. And it's also the tale of their intimate partnership and how they came to love one another and create their own version of a family.

I think there could be more Feximal stories, I mean we have only scratched the surface of his and Robert's paranormal adventures, but what we have in this book are the cases that affected both areas of their lives and I would be satisfied with that if that is all there is to be told. We have see both Simon and Robert grow into full, well-rounded, real characters thanks to these tales and anything else that could be written would be more for the adventure and the fun of it.

Y'know, KJ Charles is a terrific author and I could never go wrong in recommending her.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Remnant by KJ Charles and Jordan L. Hawk


The inevitable and eminently suitable crossover between Charles' Casebook of Simon Feximal stories and Hawk's Griffin & Whyborne series.

So much fun! I certainly hope that these two couples find a way to work together again. They are the perfect foils for each other and I laughed out lout a couple of times much to the dog's puzzlement. *LOL*

Fans of either series need to read this freebie!

Butterflies by KJ Charles


I really loved this - for me- introduction to Simon Feximal short story. KJ is a wonderful author of historical paranormal m/m romances and I have yet to be disappointed by any of her offerings.

And I should say, this was the perfect reading palate cleanser after my disappointment in my previous read.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Shadow Revolution by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith


Crown & Key - Book 1

I had such high hopes for this book. It sounded so good but sometimes what sounds good is not what one actually gets.

The characters are interesting on the surface, but we seldom, if ever, get below the surface to find out what really makes them tick, what motivates them, what elevates them above the clichéd norm. I'm big on characters, so this was a huge disappointment for me.

The plot was good, werewolves invading London to put it simply. Oh, and a mad doctor creating an army of homunculus monsters. There were tons of in-depth fight scenes and honestly, they were the best written things in the book. But the overall execution I felt was lacking...

Which brings me to the writing. The book has been edited, the authors thank the Del Rey editors in their notes. But my God, it was edited badly. Sentences in the middle of a paragraph that have nothing to do with the sentences before them or after them. IN THE SAME PARAGRAPH! Jerky narrative, stilted dialogue, flowery writing that was just not good. I found the actual reading to be unpleasant much of the time. Of course, your mileage may vary, but I believe that had this book had a good, intense and knowledgeable, content/developmental edit it could have been a TERRIFIC book.

This is the first novel of a trilogy, the Crown & Key trilogy and you know what? Despite the questions left dangling at the end, I really am not inclined to run out and purchase the next two. The Shadow Revolution was that disappointing.

(Looking for something in the same vein as this book? Lilith Saintcrow does it better, IMO. Check out her Bannon & Clare books.)

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Circus of the Damned by Cornelia Grey


Deal with a Devil Series

Gilbert is a magician. He drinks too much and gets carried away with his powers in a place where he shouldn't and is seen by people who shouldn't be seeing him.

To save his ass, Gilbert joins the circus, even though the ringmaster, Jesse, tells him that it's a lifetime deal.

"If you never believe anything again in your life, believe this: if you join, you will remain with the circus until the day you die, and beyond that . . .Your soul will be damned for all eternity. There is no way out."

Gilbert, of course, is certain that he'll be able to find a way to wriggle out of the deal, but he doesn't count on coming to like the so-called 'freaks' that make up the circus, nor does he count on falling for Jesse. And, nobody realises the danger that the circus is now in, thanks to Gilbert's original bad judgement. Then there's that pesky deal thing with the devil, Farfarello.

There were a couple of things that gave me a bit of a pause. First off, I really have no idea why Gilbert ended up falling so hard for Jesse. I suppose the why isn't that important in the long run, but I like to think that it was for more reasons than that he was pretty and good in bed. :) Also, at first Jesse came across as a bit forbidding and a bit wicked, but soon after he became gentle and sweet for the most part. It was a tad jarring for me.

But that being said, I enjoy the way Cornelia writes and ultimately, the characters were quite likable, even the somewhat creepy ones - I'm looking at you Humphreys! I enjoyed the plot of the circus and why it was in existance and even though I felt that the story behind Count Reubens needed more fleshing out, it served its purpose in the end. The love story and intimate scenes were hot, sexy and romantic, especially the one where Gilbert uses his magic... Lawzy me! *fans*

I was going to give it 3.5 stars, but I had such a good time reading it despite my few icks, that I upped it to 4. *g*

EDIT: I should say that this book has one of the best book covers EVER! Bravo to the artist Kanaxa for her terrific work!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Master of Ghouls by Jordan L. Hawk


SPECTR Series - Book 2

This is the second installment of the SPECTR series and it was exactly what I expected. Lots of paranormal fun and action,some sexy times and some character development between our two (three?) erstwhile heroes.

In this day and age of Netflix and Amazon TV and the like, the stories of John (I LOVE that his name is John) and Caleb feel to me like a Netflix limited series. And that's quite all right!

I think I have 4 more novellas in this "first series" and I am looking forward to reading them. (And casting them in my mind's eye!) 

 This is a fun series. :)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Farthing by Jo Walton


The Small Change Series - Book 1

I loved this book! It's brilliant, it's delicious, it's thought-provoking, it's fun, it's sad and it feels like an old friend has come to stay for the weekend. You think you're getting a cozy mystery set in an alternate history, but in reality, you're getting much much more.

I knew of the author, Jo Walton, because I read a lot of fantasy and she writes fantasy. (Apparently she lives in Montreal too, so I have to wonder if I ever met her in my sci-fi/fantasy club days.) I'd heard her name but never read any of her works. Then one day, one of my favourite authors, KJ Charles mentioned/recced Farthing on Twitter, which had been recced to her by another of my faves, Jordan L. Hawk, so it came up on my radar. Last week, I acquired my copy. :)

So, Farthing is, on the surface, a cozy murder mystery set at the country estate of high born folks - The Farthing Set - in 1947 England. But it's a slightly different England than we're used to. Peace has been made with Hitler and WW2 never really became WW in scope. What we end up seeing, is a world where what happened in Germany and other countries in the 30s can be seen to be happening in England, which adds a whole different set of layers to the story.

The author has also chosen a different way to actually tell the story. The narrative alternates between the first person POV of the daughter of the house, so to speak, Lucy Kahn - I swear, it reads as if she's sitting across the table from you with a pot of tea, telling you the story as she sees it - and the 3rd person POV (technical term Narrow POV?) of Scotland Yard investigator Peter Anthony Carmichael. You get one chapter of Lucy, and then one chapter of Peter and while it sounds like it would be jarring, it's not. It works PERFECTLY!

As far as the mystery goes, I was suitably puzzled for most of the book, my suspicions all over the place. *LOL* And in the end, the solution makes total sense.

I quite fell for Detective Carmichael and I'm really glad that his 'adventures' continue in two other books. (Apparently with the same style, 1st person POV of a female MC and then Carmichael's narrow 3rd POV.)

The striking thing about Farthing, though, is that it makes you see how easy. How too damned easy it would be to let bad things happen to good people. It's so much more than an alternate history cozy. And the ending. Well, it wasn't what I was expecting and I have to say. I cried.

Read this book. It's EXCELLENT!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Lord of the White Hell (Book 2) by Ginn Hale


Cadelonian Series - Book 2

Fun, fun, fun! I really enjoyed this second half of Lord of the White Hell. Enjoyed it enough to go checking right away to see if there were more books in the same world. And there are!

But, to concentrate on this one. Book Two picks up... 10 minutes after the end of Book One. Seriously, this wasn't a duology by any means. It was one huge volume snipped in half. If I can offer any advice to folks that want to read it, read them back to back in one complete experience. I read Book One back in January and I found, especially with the amount of reading that I do, that I could have used a bit of a reminder on certain things in the beginning of Book Two to make the first couple of chapters more comfortable for me. I kept having to pause and try and remember the whys and wherefores and whos of the narrative.

That being said, this half of the story of Kiram and Javier and the Hellions and Kiram's family seemed to me to move along a little faster and be a little more action-packed than volume one. At the same time, our main location moves from the Sagarda Academy to Kiram's home in the Haldiim part of his home town. Ginn Hale has created a wonderful world that's familiar until it's not. We get to see a lot of Karim's family as well as more of his best friend, Nestor's family. I enjoyed that because it brought out another side of Karim that brought him, to me, to full 3-dimensionality. (I know it's not a word, but you understand what I mean.)

Kiram and Javier's personal relationship is taken to what could best be termed the next level and while there are a few lovely sexytimes scenes, they're more romantic than erotic and suit the story perfectly.

If I have one problem, aside from the splitting into two volumes thing, it's that the end of the book felt a bit rushed. The race to beat the Big Baddie was fine, but the actual climax of the 'battle' seemed over rather swiftly and I felt it needed more gravitas. I almost felt like the author saw the end coming and couldn't wait to type the words The End. I wanted more.

Still, this was a terrific read and I'm looking forward to reading the next duology in this world - The Champion of the Scarlet Wolf - Books 1&2. I'm going to get them at the same time in case it's the same case of cliffhangeritis as with this one. :)

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss


The Kingkiller Chronicle - Book 1

This is a book recommended to me, first by my son's friend and then once my son had read it, by my son. :)

It's very readable, very good, different enough to satisfy this jaded fantasy reader and it's really a lot of fun for the most part. The main character, Kvothe is fascinating as an adult, now an innkeeper in a little backwater town, we get to know him, sort of, in quick glimpses as he tells his life story to a character who likes to be called Chronicler. We also get to know him at this time through the eyes of his 'student', Bast. Bast is of the Fae... I think. :) There are a lot of unanswered questions throughout this book.

The Name of the Wind is really the story the boy Kvothe and how he began to become the man we now see living the quiet life as an innkeeper. There is magic, music, creatures of the dark, war, death, murder and mayhem. There is also humour, affection, fun, more music, friendship and laughter. Kvothe has all kinds of adventures beginning with his very early years spent as a member of his parents' travelling bardic/theatre troupe on through his first couple of years at the University. He makes friends, enemies, patrons and protectors.

The only thing that bothered me was the part of the narrative having to do with the elusive Denna, the girl that Kvothe meets first on the road once he's on his own. There had better be a payoff for all the page-time devoted to her, especially their big northern adventure, because frankly, I felt it was taking away from the interesting story of Kvothe learning and growing. It was truly the only part of the book where my mind began to wander.

So, all in all, a really, really good read and I will soon be getting the second book to see what Kvothe gets up to next!

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Gravedigger's Brawl by Abigail Roux


Welp. That was a book. *LOL*

I love Abi's books. Her Cut & Run series remains a huge favourite and her According to Hoyle is stellar. But this one... this book... I just don't know.

The premise is nifty. Ghosts, museum curators, a popular tavern in the historical district and on the surface, the characters seem like a cool bunch of folks that I'd want to get to know. But maybe that's the problem. I never got to know the main antagonists, Wyatt, the museum curator and Ash, the bartender, more than what they showed on their surface. I don't feel as if I'm coming out of the story knowing them any better than when I went in.

The story itself feels very jerky and I found myself often turning back a few pages because I thought I had missed something. But no, it was just a sudden jump to what felt like the middle of a new scene. The clues to what was going on seemed to be rather sparse up until the last ... oh... 2 chapters of the book, maybe even the last chapter and then all hell broke loose. I think I'd have preferred more depth throughout the story.

There were other things as well. I never understood why Wyatt's best friend, Noah, kept telling him he should stay away from Ash (all the while wanting them to get together.). Hell, I never really understood why Ash and Wyatt kept pushing each other away. And in the end, I don't really know why Ash and Wyatt fell for each other. I feel like I know more about the workings of Caleb and Noah's relationship than the MCs.

In the end, I think it feels to me that this book needs more work maybe?

I know a lot of folks love this book. I just find myself wondering why. :/

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Hunter of Demons by Jordan L. Hawk


SPECTR Series - Book 1

This is the first book in the SPECTR series and it is available right now as a free download from Kobo Books. There is Caleb, the unregistered paranormal, Gray, a wandering vampire-like spirit who becomes trapped in Caleb's body and John, the federal agent/exorcist. There is a case of a murderous demon that needs solving. Throw this all together with Jordan Hawk's easy to read style of writing and BAM! 

 We have a winner. 

 So much of a winner that I was barely 3/4s of the way through it and I was back at Kobo buying the rest of Series 1.

So. Much. Fun!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Dragon's Eye by James A. Hetley


Stonefort Series - Book 1

What a pleasant surprise! A good friend of mine, with whom I don't share many reading preferences, mentioned that this author was one of her favourite fantasy authors. Now, as far as I know, fantasy isn't her usual thing, so curious me, I took a look at the link. I liked the sound of it and asked her if this was a good place to start with this author and she said yes and admitted that he was a friend of hers. So, all that being said, I cracked open the book - virtually, on my new Kobo H2O. *LOL*

Hetley has a definite authorial voice. It took me a few chapters to get used to his way of writing. It's by no means bad, or off-putting, or anything negative, it's just different. If I had to describe it, he sounds very Canadian. *LOL* Even though he's not. He comes from Maine apparently, where the book is set. Maybe that's close enough. :)

So we're not talking fantasy made up of elves and dwarves and wizards and mystical realms here. This is modern fantasy with nature witches, Native American traditions and mythologies, a little Welsh water magic thrown in along with a dash of dragon and some ... South American magic? It all works. :)

And the characters! OMG, I really came to love them. They're so far from perfect that at times I really disliked each and every one of them but that just made them all the more real. I quite enjoyed the emphasis on the women's perspective. It came across as very real, very sensible and not ... how can I say it... not Mary Sue-ish perfect?

If you're looking for a new contemporary fantasy author to try, I would easily recommend James Hetley. I don't know how well he's known, all I know is that I'd never heard of him before my buddy mentioned him. And you know what? I could see this being made into a TV series along the lines of True Blood or Charmed or The Witches of East End.

And yes, while this is the first book in a series, it definitely does stand alone, no cliffhangers here. The only reason you'll need to get the next book is because you want to read it!