Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Jackdaw by KJ Charles


Loved it!

Jackdaw is set in the world of Charm of Magpies and features Jonah Pastern, who we met in Book 3, Flight of Magpies. Jonah is a windwalker and a thief. Once, he was the lover of Ben Spenser, a police officer. Then came betrayal, secrets and laws that could not be contravened.

To me, this book is a little darker than Stephen's and Lucien's tales. Ben is in a very bad place during the first half of the book and things look rather hopeless. Even Stephen in his supporting role seemed harsh and unlikable. It was also a smaller story - in scope, I mean. There were no otherworldly creatures to battle, no magical baddies out for murder and mayhem. It's the story of two men, one who feels totally broken and done, the other who feels as if he was never worth anything and never could be and how they manage to get past that and create something sweet and beautiful. And despite the harshness and violence at the beginning of the book, I found this story to be almost gentle and cosy in nature at times.

I loved the character of Jonah. The people of the village in Cornwall call him a bucca and he's really exactly that. So full of life, living on his emotions, a huge heart and he takes pleasure in so many of the simpler things. I think he may be one of my favourite characters of all KJ's creations. He's tied with Lucien at the very least. :)

And yes, Lucien makes an appearance and it is WONDERFUL!

Yes, I loved this book and I don't know if we'll see more of Jonah and Ben or if we'll ever see more tales in this universe even, but I certainly hope so.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Death of a Pirate King by Josh Lanyon


Adrien English Mysteries - Book 4
This fourth volume of Adrien English mysteries keeps up the tradition of the other three. It's two years after the previous book and there's a good mystery, terrific characters and a couple of interesting and important side plots. There's Adrien's mom, his step-sisters, his step father and there's Guy and yes... there's Jake. *sigh*

I cannot begin to tell you the antipathy I feel towards Jake. I don't want him with Adrien and I don't believe he's good for Adrien and I detest the way he talks and treats Adrien. I find myself wanting to shake the hell out of Adrien every time he gets personal with freakin' Jake. I understand conflict and disagreements and somehow insurmountable hurdles in a relationship, but in my mind, there's no reason for Jake to be so mean and nasty.

While Adrien runs his bookstore and plays with his writing endeavours and worries about his health, he does his amateur sleuthing at the behest of one of the main characters, much to the - of course - dismay, obnoxious and unpleasant dismay of Jake who is now a police lieutenant. The murder involves the movie community and the glitterati this time and wasn't quite as important to the narrative as a whole as were Adrien's reactions to the major players in his own life. Had the balance been tipped a little more the other way, I think I'd have rated this a full 4 stars.

I would really like to see more of Adrien with his mom, Lisa, and with his youngest step-sister, Emma. I like the energy that they bring to their scenes, which are always among my favourites.
So yep, another good read from Josh Lanyon and the series remains among my faves and easily recommendable. :)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Alchemist of Souls by Anne Lyle


Night's Masque - Book 1

The Alchemist of Souls is the first book in the Night's Masque trilogy and was a total guts buy for me. Both this book and the second in the trilogy, The Merchant of Dreams, were part of the a Kindle daily deal, each for $1.99. I had never heard of them, nor had I heard any buzz about them and the author, Anne Lyle was a complete unknown. I bought them for 3 reasons - the blurbs described something a little different from the norm, the price was right and the books were not self-pubbed. I know that last sounds unfair, but there's just too much self-pubbed crap out there for me to go into totally blind. So, that being said...

I really enjoyed it!

The setting is one that I've not seen a lot of in fantasy, so it felt fresh and new. It also felt familiar due to it being an alternate history of a time of which I've read a lot. There aren't a ton of differences, but those that are different are interestingly so... Queen Elizabeth marrying Robert Dudley and having two sons, for instance.

The characters are interesting. Mal, Sandy, Coby, Ned, Gabriel, Kiiren and the nobles, spies, actors and merchants and I enjoyed reading about them. My only iffy feelings came from the scenes with Coby where I felt the book veered an awful lot into YA territory which is not something I seek out. There was the glimmering of a romance between her and Mal, but it really wasn't important to the story of Mal, Kiiren, the plot against the skraylings and the various court intrigues. It felt a tad contrived and I thought the relationship worked better when Mal and Coby were just being friends and allies. I really hope THAT story doesn't take over the next book in the series.

All in all, I'm pretty stoked to have found another new fantasy series that I can enjoy, one that's different from stuff I've read before, and one that's kept me invested and engaged.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Acrobat by Mary Calmes


What a really nice read! And while I realise that sounds like damning with faint praise, it's not. Sometimes you just need a nice, calm, fun, happy love story with likable characters, a plot that doesn't take a PHD to follow and some steamy sex.

If I'm honest, I have to say that Nate was really too good to be true. I don't think anyone is that perfect, but he wasn't obnoxiously so, so I enjoyed the story told from his 1st person point of view for the most part. There is a point in the book where Nate realises what was really behind his break-up with his ex and what is really his only acknowledged fault, but by that point, I couldn't really see it as a fault. I mean, come on, Nate is everyone's perfect, friend, lover, ex-husband, dad, professor, mentor, party organiser it's no wonder that everyone adores him. (Except maybe his own father... I wasn't quite clear on that relationship.)

Then there's Dreo, the hot, sexy, much younger than Nate (he's 27? 28? to Nate's 45) mob bodyguard who's doing his best to make a life for his orphaned nephew, Michael. They live across the hall from Nate and it's through Michael that they know each other. Dreo's been very patient, waiting for Nate to 'notice' him. But when he does... WOWSA! Hot stuff.

I must say that Nate has a propensity to check out every man he meets, mentally commenting on their looks (none really have a lack of, BTW) and especially their eyes. Eyes are big thing with Nate. Even the women get the eye mention.

Something I really enjoyed was the author's way with dialogue/banter. It made me grin on numerous occasions, especially when Nate was interacting with the teenage Michael. I think there may have been more than a few scenes early in the book that could have been cut because they really didn't shed any new lights on the main characters or advance the plot, but they were fun to read so I can't complain too much.

So this was indeed a nice, easy read, with nice people, a bit of a fun/action plot, and some nice, steamy sex scenes. I liked it. :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dogfighters by Alex Beecroft


Under The Hill - Book 2

This is the sequel - the DIRECT sequel - to Bomber's Moon. When I say direct, I mean it picks up in the next actual minute where Bomber's Moon ended. Seriously, it all should have been one single book, one juicy volume and you know... with some more judicious editing, in my opinion.

I love Alex Beecroft's work, but this novel and its predecessor were confusing. I don't think I ever felt really comfortable and clear on what was actually going on. The writing was gorgeous, but I think that maybe it only served to render the actual plot, the actual action difficult to digest. That's why I say that some judicious editing might have been a benefit.

When I began the first book, I was thinking that I was going to get the story of the Paranormal Defence Agency, but while they were fairly prominent in the first volume, we barely saw them in the second. We went from a sort of urban fantasy tale with historical overtones to a high fantasy that included different cultures and mythologies. Honestly? I'd have liked more of the PDA.

I did enjoy the fact that what I think was the Hindu mythology played a big part of the story. It's quite possible that this only added to my confusion since I'm pretty unfamiliar with the ins and outs of Hinduism. Maybe a bit of down to earth, bare bones explanation would have helped me there.

So all in all, this was a decent read, not spectacular and I think it could have been better. Oh, and the covers? (Covers are a big deal for me.) I thought the covers would have been much better without the huge headshots of the men. I know it's a publishing house standard look but damn... so many of them bug me. Yeah, I'm judgy. *LOL*

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Hell You Say by Josh Lanyon


Adrien English Mysteries - Book 3

This is the third book in the Adrien English series and I enjoyed it as much as the first two. The mystery was sufficiently mysterious and puzzling, the characters were very good - and bad, and the sexytimes were interesting, integral to the over arcing story of Adrien's life.

I really enjoy Adrien's voice. There's a bit of sarcasm and cynicism there, as well as humour and warmth. And he has a lovely sense of the ridiculous. He's smart - too smart for his own good, probably, but it's a mystery series so he sort of has to be. :) He has a blind spot... well, okay.. maybe not an actual blind spot, but a weakness for the police detective Jake the Jerk who, as far as I'm concerned is the biggest tool in the shed.

So in this mystery, we have satanism, demons, pentacles, Wiccans, possible human sacrifices and all that these entail. We have blind alleys and red herrings that work quite well, in my opinion. I wasn't certain who the good guys were until quite near the end. I know what I WANTED to believe, but couldn't quite bring myself to. It did kind of feel like the wrap-up was a bit rushed, but that might be my own penchant for details. Every day details.

The subplot of Adrien's mother's engagement was fun and added to the mystery when it needed to. I enjoyed the new characters and am looking forward to seeing more of them in the next book. Yes, this is a series that I will definitely be continuing and recommending to those that enjoy a good mystery with a dash of sexy romance.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence


The Broken Empire - Book 2

This is Book 2 of The Broken Empire and sadly, it didn't hold me as enthralled as the first book. I couldn't put the first one down and kept putting things aside to continue reading, but reading King of Thorns had none of that urgency. I kept muttering to myself, "And the point of all this is...?"

Part of what disturbed me was that I never knew when I was. Yes, when. We had what I think was current time in chapters called "Wedding Day" and then the "Four Years Earlier" as well as journal entries by the Lady Katherine that sort of filled in the time between the two, I guess. And really, did all this have TIME to happen on the "Wedding Day"? It bugged me and left me questioning all the way through the book.

Now, that being said, there was still enjoyment to be had. I do like the way the author turns a phrase. And the way he drops little gems in like this one: "When a game cannot be won, change the game. I read that in the book of Kirk." Are we to equate the dark Prince Jorg with the rebellious and heroic Captain Kirk from Star Trek? I hope not, because he doesn't. Except for the pride. Prince Jorg has pride to spare and then some!

Again, some of the secondary/supporting characters are exceptional. Sir Malkin, Gog, Uncle Robert, Miana, the Brothers that are left and even Katherine has redeeming features. The Arrow brothers - that was a very interesting conclusion to that story arc. Caught me totally by surprise.

OH, and If you're keeping track, I've still not forgiven the author for what he did 2/3rds of the way through the first book.

One of the fascinating things about these books, is trying to figure out the post-apocalyptic places and items and things. Some very interesting and in-depth world-building has gone on here and I appreciate it. If only the map in the front of the book was bigger for my old eyes! *LOL* And I do love the way Lawrence brings all the different threads of the plot together at the end (actually he does this throughout the book saving the HUGE ones until the end) and doesn't leave us with an obvious, throw the book across the room, cliff-hanger. (Although... Coddin... )

So all in all, it was a decent read and I will read the concluding volume in the trilogy, but not right away. I can't take much more of the dark! *LOL*