Monday, April 25, 2016

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters


Thank God that's over with!

I don't know what I was expecting when everyone was recommending Sarah Waters to me. More mystery-like, I think. The blurbs and all mention the world thriller, but I just don't see it.

First off, I have to say that Sarah Waters does write well. She is definitely a talent. But man... this book.... this effing book.

I disliked all the characters... all of them. Not a single one was sympathetic. Not even the dog. There was so much woe is me, woe is me throughout the book that it even permeated the very few moments when things were supposed to be joyful. Now, I get that in the 1920's, right after The Great War, things were not unicorns and rainbows for impoverished, lesbian spinsters, but my Lord, surely to God, a wee bit of happiness or even positivity or even a glimmer of HOPE shouldn't have been impossible.

I don't even know what the point was of the story other than to highlight the bleakness of existence for all these people, not just the main characters.

Well, I'm glad I made it through and I'm glad it's over. The only reason I didn't DNF this was that so many people and places whose opinions I respect were big on it.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor


The Chronicles of Saint Mary's - Book 1

This was a fun read. It helps if you aren't picky about scientific explanations and are able to accept things because they just are in this so-similar-to-our world. Time travel - it can screw with your brain if you let it. *LOL*

So this, the first of The Chronicles of St. Mary's was a little reminiscent of the Parasol Protectorate series in that it's a light-hearted romp with engaging, larger-than-life characters doing impossibly heroic things. :) It takes place in current London, however, not steampunky Victorian London and there are no (so far anyway) werewolves or vampires. Just time travelling historians and possibly a muse.

The characters are fun and easy to like and the bad guys are very easy to dislike and the action is quick, the story moving along quite nicely. This first book in the series comes to a nice ending - no real cliffhangers to speak of, which made me happy. :) Abrupt cliffhangers annoy the hell out of me.

Oh yes, and there's a bit of romance to go along with the adventures.

Will I continue with the series? Yup, it was fun. :)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Point of Knives by Melissa Scott


Astreiant Series - Book 2

I love this series!

This novella continues the adventures with Nico and Philip from Point of Hopes. A few months have passed since the events of that first novel.

I would have liked Point of Knives to be longer, it's only a novella, but I'm greedy that way. *LOL*

I still love both Nico and Philip and enjoyed the glimpses we got of their extended entourage of friends and co-workers.

So this was a nice snack that I totally enjoyed in a series that I'm pretty sure will become one of my favourites. :)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Bound by Law by SE Jakes


Men of Honor - Book 2

There was a handful of big, handsome, brawny, gay men. There was a plethora of hot sex scenes. There was a bit of murderous type action.

And again, I realise that while I do enjoy much of S.E.'s work, there are times I get lost in the back and forth of the characters' dialogue. It feels as if an important phrase or response or something has been edited out. Either that or her characters have conversational ADD.

Damn! These guys had a lot of hard, boisterous sex. And boy, can they get hard and ejaculatory easily, quickly and often. Must be something in the water. *wink*

#2 in the Men of Honor series.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall


Elouise Norton Mysteries - Book 1

This is the first of the Detective Elouise Norton novels, in which we are introduced to the very real character of Elouise and follow her as she tries to solve the murder of a young woman in current day Los Angeles. That it mirrors another disappearance from her past makes the case that much more important.

Elouise, Lou as her friends call her, is a very real, very interesting, very recognisable character. I grew to like her very, very much. The author was not afraid of giving her believable flaws to go along with her believable talents. And she's funny. I like her wry wit and that amused cynical observation ability she has. She's a terrific character to base a series on, if you ask me. :)

I liked the cast of supporting characters as well. They all seemed very real and were diverse where they needed to be diverse. In other words, I didn't feel as if the different ethnicities were added because that's what we do now. (So often the diversity seems inserted just for approval, I find.) This is how a detective squad looks in LA. I assume that in later books (the 3rd volume is out next month, I think... and a quick look at the blurbs tell me that it's so) we will be exploring more and more of them.

The murder mystery had me going until the end and the climax of the story worked quite well, I thought. I also appreciated the short chapters - it kept a sense of urgency going throughout the novel. I kept wanting to turn the pages and then ... oh, just another chapter before I turn out the light. Some authors will say that it doesn't matter and I have to disagee. :)

So yes... I'm adding Elouise Norton to the mystery series that I will follow. It was really good!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Live by Night by Dennis Lehane


Coughlin Saga - Book 2

So, I bought this thinking it was a mystery, ala Kenzie & Gennaro, but instead it's a straight up novel, set in the late 20s and early 30s. It has the feel of a John Jakes historical family epic.

Live By Night follows the life of young gangster (he prefers to think of himself as an outlaw) Joe Coughlin and it sucked me in pretty much from the beginning. Lehane has an easy style of writing - he's a real storyteller - and I found myself reluctant to set the book aside and get along with what I really should be doing. *LOL*

This is apparently the second in the Coughlin family saga, the first concerning Joe's older brother, but quite honestly, I've not read it and I didn't feel the lack at all. I will get a hold of it at some point, because, as I said, I enjoy Lehane's storytelling. :)

So yes, this is the story of a gangster, a bad man, but he has his own code of honour that saves him from being a villain. I liked him. :) And I liked many of the supporting players.

I do love a good family saga, and I'll be reading the third book in the series as well. Even if it's not a mystery. :)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Heartless by Gail Carriger


The Parasol Protectorate - Book 4

#4 in the Parasol Protectorate series, I think this one is my favourite so far. So much upheaval!

I have fallen quite hard for a couple of secondary characters, to be honest. Professor Lyall is one - and we find out big chunk of his backstory, which I was so very pleased about. And Biffy - oh, I do love that young fellow!

The dialogue, is, as always, witty and clever and fun and set me to laughing aloud on more than one occasion. A heavily pregnant Alexia is a wonder to read. Her internal dialogue is even more fun than usual.

I have one more volume to go and I'm saving it. :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A Gentleman's Position by KJ Charles


Society of Gentlemen - Book 3

To quote what I said on Twitter: *BIG HAPPY END OF BOOK - END OF SERIES SIGH* Damn that was marvelous!!
So many people have written more clever, more insightful, more discerning reviews on A Gentleman's Position, and indeed on the whole series, than I could ever hope to write. Hell, I don't even write reviews, just spew out my thoughts. :) But I really wish I could do the former for this book and this whole series. It's just a crackerjack of a historical romance. Entertaining and well... educating at the same time. For my money, KJ writes about the inequalities of the class system (see, I don't even know for sure if that's what you call it. *LOL*) as well as, if not better than anyone else. I mean, you come for the love story and before you know it, you've learned something! At the very least, you've been made to think about things you might never have thought of before. :)

So, about the book. First off, it was only fitting that we finally get the story of Lord Richard Vane and his valet David Cyprian. We learn why Richard is the oh-so-proper (except for his love of men) upright, upstanding, strict caretaker of his friends and family that he is and I was finally able to forgive him for being a self-righteous prick over 2 and a half novels. :) I don't know that I ever came to really like Richard, but I did come to understand and root for him.

His valet (and love of his life), David Cyprian, is quite the piece of work. So very very clever - quite honestly I think he, Silas and Dom could take over the whole British Empire given half the chance - and so devoted to his master, I loved him for his own moral code that was, in its way, just as rigid as Richard's. I also enjoyed his wicked sense of humour and loved how he dealt with his own family. I think that he's going to be the making of Richard.

Things I thought of while reading...

I'm still in love with Richard's life-long best friend, Dominic Frey, one of the MCs of the previous book - A Seditious Affair. I loved how he spoke to Richard, open, honest and from the heart, not holding back on his anger while so obviously loving him as really, only Dom could.

I totally enjoyed Richard's older brother, Philip. I loved how he behaved in the climactic scene of the book and how his relationship with Richard compared to that of the other brothers - Ash and Maltravers.

Even though I knew that KJ would never take the easy route, I was still inordinately pleased that there were no sudden revelations of a hidden noble background or a business legacy appearing out of nowhere. It made the HEA that much more satisfying to me.

Yeah, I'm sad that the series has come to a conclusion (even though KJ is thinking of maybe writing a coda) but it truly doesn't feel like anything has been left undone. Sure, I would enjoy tales of the adventures of the happy couples but I don't NEED them. :)

As I said, again on Twitter, KJ Charles has been added to the list of authors for whom I will put aside the book I'm currently reading to read their latest work. And it's a short list!

Loved these characters, loved this book and loved this trilogy!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Persona by Genevieve Valentine


The Persona Sequence - Book 1

I thought Persona was a fascinating book with a fascinating premise and I went into it hoping that the characters lived up to the premise and luckily, they pretty much did.

I saw the book mentioned by one of the authors I follow on Twitter (I get a lot of good recs this way, I have to say) and since I had enjoyed Valentine's The Girls at the Kingfisher Club I figured I could do worse than give it a try. :)

Persona is an interesting look at the world of diplomacy in the near future where the face or Face of diplomacy is just that - a pretty face, a young face, a person groomed for the job and handled once there, a celebrity more than a diplomat. It's a future where the paparazzi - now called snaps - are even more intrusive and even frightening.

It made me think of a Bourne novel, only 1/3rd the length. :)

The two main characters, Suyana, the Face of the United Amazonia Rainforest Confederation and Daniel Park, a runaway turned paparazzi, are both young and both have secrets and both are in danger. Both are likable and believable, I thought - even though I found them young. *LOL* I'm old, so hardly a surprise there.

One thing that's odd about Valentine's writing is that I find it almost trying to be edgy and clever and while I usually hate that, somehow it works for me here. I felt the same way with Kingfisher Club.

Persona is the first of The Persona Sequence and its follow-up Icon, comes out at the end of June according to the publisher and I will be picking it up. I need to find out what happens - Persona was only the beginning.