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!!!