Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Mermaid Murders by Josh Lanyon


Art of Murder Mysteries - Book 1

I am satisfied the way one is satisfied after a wonderful meal of a great burger made just the way you love it and an order of the best fries ever. With a chocolate milkshake. :)

I really enjoy cop/detective buddy mystery/romance type books and this is a good one. I loved the characters because they were mature, not kids - 33 and in his 40s - and they have flaws and are even unlikable every once in a while. We get to know the younger one, Jason, far more than Sam Kennedy, the older part of the duo, because the book is written from his viewpoint. *LOL* The whole romance/relationship thing happened a bit fast and wasn't really delved into deeply, but that kept the focus more on the mystery, I think. And that's okay - this is the first of a series, it seems. The Art of Murder series.

The mystery. It worked for me. I had no idea whodunit until right near the end - when I think I was supposed to figure it out - right before the climax of the novel. There was a nice netful of red herrings, clues that I only realised were clues when I realised who the murderer was, and dead ends that were actually dead ends. :) And as far as the actual explanation of the murder... it worked for me in that, for a change, it wasn't all complicated and convoluted.

A worthy companion to the buddy mysteries I love - Ty & Zane, Tommy & Prophet, the Psycop series.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Point of Hopes by Melissa Scott & Lisa A. Barnett


Astreiant Series - Book 1

I managed to catch a tweet by one of my favourite authors, KJ Charles, wherein she mentioned having a book hangover after finishing the last book of the Points series by Melissa Scott. So, I went a hunting. I always check out what my fave authors are reading and have found it a pretty good barometer for finding new reads.

Point of Hopes is the first in the Astreiant series and introduces us to a fascinating world and a bunch of fascinating characters, the main ones being Nicolas (Nico) Rathe, a pointsman (police detective) in the Point of Hopes, and Philip Eslingen, a recently discharged soldier. Children are going missing throughout the city of Astreiant and Rathe is on the case. He enlists the help of Philip and a long-time friend who also happens to be a necromancer, Istre b'Estorr to figure out what's going on and find the children. It's really a fantasy/mystery/police procedural story and I love that!

The world-building is amazing! We're talking about a world where what makes it go 'round is astrology - complicated and real astrology. The city of Astreiant where the majority of the action takes place is a walled city divided into districts called Points - 12 of them of course. We follow Rico and Philip as they try and solve the mystery of the missing children and as we do, we are introduced to this marvelous and original world and society.

The characters are great too. I liked all of them - the main and the secondary and even the characters who arrived for just one scene.

I'm so glad that I was able to pick up the existing 4 books of the series (On sale, I might add - from Lethe Press until March 31st.) because I am HOOKED!

Thanks to KJ Charles for talking about the books she loves! :)

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev


So disappointed.

The Bollywood Bride was recommended by many of the blogs I trust and a few of the authors whose opinion I trust and quite frankly... I cannot figure out why.

When I read a romance of any kind, I must connect with one of the MCs at the very least. I want to see their love for each other kindle and grow and surmount whatever odds fall in their way. I want to see true emotion, both the negatives and the positives. I want to get the attraction between them. I want to sigh happily in places and get choked up in others. I want to be touched, I guess.

Didn't happen here.

The heroine, Rai, had so many horrible things happen to her that it's really no wonder she's a hot mess. A HUGE hot mess. So, I found myself wondering why the hell she wasn't in some kind of therapy. Is this something Indians don't do? And while I didn't think she was the brightest star in the sky, she certainly seemed self-aware enough to recognise that she needed help. And it's not like she's some wet behind the ears kid, either. She's nearing on 30 years old for heaven's sake. And why the HELL she couldn't tell Vik, who had been there for her as a child, even some of the problems she was facing just seemed stupid to me.

The hero, Vikram (or Viky as Rai calls him and made my eyes roll every time - SO not sexy), was SO unlikable. Rude, hurtful, obnoxious, mean-spirited, immature... I could find nothing to like about him and man, I tried, I really tried. He came across as such a petulant little boy for much of the time that I just wanted to pinch him! Even when the scene was not about the 'relationship' between the MCs, he turned me off. For instance, there was a scene in a clothing shop where he and Ria's cousin, Nik, act like rude teenagers while looking for clothing for Nik's wedding. I'd have sent him to the car and then grounded him for a week for that type of entitled, stupid, immature behavior. He seemed 15 instead of the 35. Not very romantic.

One of the many reasons Rai felt she could not be with Vik had to do with Vikram's bitch of a mother. Much was made of this meddling throughout most of the book, but then near the end... without even much of a confrontation (which would have been SO satisfactory) it was all swept aside in about a paragraph of exposition. And the sudden announcement of Vikram not wanting children of his own. Very Deus Ex Machina if you ask me. As was the whole deal with the actor she was involved with at the beginning of her career. Lots of finger-snapping fix-the-problem happening here.

The writing itself was in many, many places so purple prosey and flowery that it made my eyes roll again and again - I did much of that while reading this book - the sex scenes were especially filled with paragraphs of flights of fancy words. Maybe that's why I didn't feel much of an emotional connection between Rai and Vikram. To me it just felt like a lot of physical chemistry and all they wanted to do was roll about in the hay. I would have liked them to talk more, show their attraction and connection through something else other than hot sex.

Things I did like were Ria's aunt and uncle and the auntie brigade. Although, Uma, Ria's aunt, should have taken things in hand long ago.

I don't get why this book is so popular. I don't get why it was on the DABWAHA tourney brackets. I don't understand! It's so... not empowering. There was no joy at all in it. I mean, be honest, there's not. Instead of finishing this book with a happy, contented sigh, I finished it with a HUGE sigh of relief. I came closerthanthis to DNFing it, but I stuck it out simply because it has been so highly recommended.

What a letdown.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Dirty Heart by Rhys Ford


Cole McGinnis Mysteries - Book 6

#6 in the Cole McGinnis mysteries, Dirty Heart was a great way to finish off the series. And yes, I finished it in a day. Couldn't put it down. Rhys' books are so easy to read, I just sort of bask in the storytelling and characters.

The tale of why Cole's loved ones keep getting shot by people from his past is finally solved and quite a satisfactory fashion. I was good with it and never really got a hint of it all through the 6 books and yet, in the end, it made a lot of sense.

I had the same problem in this book with the names of the Korean characters, but that's a fault of mine. I can't keep Jae's aunt, uncle, half-brother, cousin... can't keep them straight - but it was nice to see that there were some characters in the book who felt the same way! :)

I had been hoping to get time with Jae's sister, one of the secondary characters that I really loved when we met her in Book #3, but aside from a mention early on, that was about it. :/

I know Dirty Heart is supposed to be the finale of the series, but I honestly didn't feel like it was the end. There was a lack of total finality about it. Oh, don't get me wrong, the ending is pretty much perfect and I'm satisfied with it - but I do feel that the world of Cole and Jae could be revisited at some point.

Monday, March 21, 2016

A Crown for Cold Silver by Alex Marshall


Crimson Empire - Book 1

Well, this is the first disappointment of 2016 for me. A Crown for Cold Silver was recommended and lauded by so many fantasy blogs and on many lists but for the life of me, I don't know why.

At 650 pages, this is one hefty novel! It's that long because there are pages and pages and pages of exposition and internal debate and just plain blah-blah-blah. It never went anywhere! 650 pages of introducing the characters and discovering their motivations and even then... EVEN THEN, I'm not clear on much of it. I don't know how many times I muttered Just get on with it! under my breath.

Most of the characters showed hints of being interesting, a few even became so, but there was so much blathering going on that this development was often lost. And I had a problem in that I kept mixing up two of them. Two of the 5 Villains. They're important characters and I shouldn't have kept confusing them, but there you go.

At times, some of the dialogue/inner dialogue was jarring because all of a sudden words from our 2016 reality were thrown in. Dude? Really? And also... there is tons of world-building, much of which is interesting and intriguing (but FAR too heavily explained) and there are new and different things the, all of a sudden, they're mentioning VINDALOO??? Makes no freaking sense to me.

So in the end, the book/series that I was looking forward to, let me down. I'm in no rush to purchase the next book. Maybe if it shows up on my $1.99 sale page, but I have far too many other books to check out before I subject myself to more Just get on with it! reading.

Colour me disappointed.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Red: First Light by Linda Nagata


Red Trilogy - Book 1

I enjoy a good military techno thriller from time to time and I have to admit that at first I felt like I had not made a good choice (It was a Christmas gift from my list) with The Red:First Light. The first maybe 75 pages felt like the novelization of an action/war first person shooter video game with it's present tense, first person POV and total fascination with every minute action the main character and his teammates were going through.

Then suddenly I became invested in Lieutenant James Shelley and by extension his crew. I sense that the author wanted it that way, but I'm not versed enough in story-telling mechanics to explain exactly why and how it happened as it did except that due to what occurs with Shelley in the field, he ceased to be just a soldier and a weapon and became a person.

There's technology abounding, but it's all fairly easy to understand in this day and age of the internet and Nagata is very good about providing explanations that don't feel like infodumps (past the first 'episode'). There are of course, many acronyms too - weapons, organizations, squads, all that stuff, but they never seem to be too many or too confusing.

Anyway, the action is fierce, the plot intricate and intriguing, the atmosphere believable and the characters all work for me. I ended up quite enjoying my read and instead of regretting my purchase of the other 2 books in the series when they were on sale a couple of weeks ago, I'm looking forward to reading them. :)

Monday, March 7, 2016

Rag and Bone by KJ Charles


A Charm of Magpies Novel

KJ does it again! Over the past 18 or so months, she had become one of my favourite authors. I enjoy her voice so much, her books are just delightful to read.

Rag and Bone is set in the Magpie Universe and there are plenty of Magpie cameos which works just fine for me. And none of them are forced either. They are an integral part of the plot.

I think I've also found a new fave in Ned, the waste-man. Trust me, he's not a waste at all! *LOL* I like his steadiness, his down-to-earth simplicity and his determination.

The story of how Ned and Crispin, the magician/warlock come to terms with their relationship and their distinct talents and their future is a good one. It kept the pages turning and allowed the characters to grow.

Rag and Bone is one of those books where I read the final words and sigh happily because it's so ultimately satisfying. :)

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Sword and Chant by Blair MacGregor


The Conquerings - Book 1

A stand-alone epic fantasy? You betcha! One of the rarest creatures in the epic fantasy genre. And it's GOOD!

Okay, so I went to the author's webpage and discovered that this is actually the first book in a series called The Conquerings - but seriously, it stands on it's own very, very nicely, so the fact that the second book has yet to be written doesn't concern me at all!

Sword and Chant reminded me a bit of Guy Gavriel Kay's work, in that the characters are so human and flawed and even a couple of the main characters I found downright unlikable even though I found much respect for them throughout the story.

Ultimately, I think that Sword and Chant is a tale of sacrifice, compromise, maturing, loyalty and love. A lot of things, but it is an epic fantasy. An epic fantasy with setting that feels new, if you know what I mean. And that's refreshing.

The author writes with a richness that's especially prevalent when she's writing the scenes featuring the gods. Yes, another book featuring gods interacting with the mortals and yes, I still am not fond of the trope, but I didn't mind it so much here. I think it was because I was so invested in the mortal characters.
And it made me cry. The final chapter had me weeping in my second cup of coffee this morning. :)

This is the first book I've read by Blair MacGregor, but it won't be the last. I'm glad I followed the recommendation for Sword and Chant from wherever I got it. *LOL* It was either a fantasy book blog, but more likely one of the fantasy authors I follow... Ken Liu (author of The Grace of Kings) quite possibly.