Friday, September 29, 2017
Tour Dates Book One
Sadly, I'm disappointed again. I saw a couple of good comments about this book and in reading the blurb it seemed to have some of the things I love. Rock bands, musicians, song writers, a pair of heroines who didn't sound like angsty belly-button watchers. Maybe I had found that very rare things for me, a good f/f romance. I should have known it was too good to be true. Seriously, these books are not meant for me and I will learn to spot them at some point.
The first 3rd of the book was fine. Yes, the girls were younger than I'd been hoping - 21 and 25 years of age - but they seemed to have a good grasp of things - like life. *LOL* They weren't vapid, they made sense, they had dreams and they had flaws and quirks. They were real, fully formed people and I was hopeful.
Then they got together. And I was in the dreaded NA territory. See, there's a difference between a book/romance with young protagonists and one that's New Adult. The girls began to feel for each other and at the same time they began to focus on their own 'perceived' flaws which made them begin to hide things from each other and avoid talking about things that might edge too close to those feelings of less-than-worthiness. And there was so much over and over accusing of one wanting 'dick' because she was bisexual and the other gal didn't do guys... I don't know, it just seemed that if they'd stop being so sensitive and prickly and actually talked to each other a lot of these hurts could have been avoided. And this basically went on until just about the end when they finally got their shit together - mostly because of come-to-Jesus talks with one of the other members of the band - a man. An older man (maybe 30-ish?). It all felt less than empowering to me.
I had other, smaller problems too. Yay for diversity! I'm all for that. But really, do we need to have the labels of almost every character in the book proclaimed? Does it matter to the story of Sawyer and Vix if this one is gay, that one a lesbian, those 3 bisexuals, and that one over there straight... and so on? I don't think so. The diversity felt forced, not natural and I think that's because it was being pointed out over and over again.
Another problem I had was the 'ew, boys' stuff. Boys aren't always disgusting, unfeeling, shallow sots... well not all the time anyway. *LOL* That felt kind of juvenile to me. But what do I know, maybe young lesbians all talk this way? (And then the author totally dissed Nickleback, which did not endear her to me because I really like Nickleback!) Another small thing... is it a new young girl uniform to wear tank tops... all the time tank tops. Day in and day out?
So once again, caveat being given... I'm not the best person for NA romances. They annoy me and I have no patience for these angsty kids. The book was well written and would probably be loved by someone who gets NA. I'm not her. So the hunt continues for some enjoyable (for me) f/f romances.
Oh, but... the cover absolutely ROCKS!
Quarters Book Three
I really enjoy reading Tanya Huff's Quarters books. They're great fantasy fun, filled with engaging and diverse characters who go on adventures and end up saving countries and kingdoms. :) There are bards and assassins and nobles and the common man, someone for everyone. And there is romance woven into the adventures and scheming.
No Quarter is filled with all of those things. It's really very much of a continuation of book 2, Fifth Quarter, as opposed to just taking place in the same universe with the focus on different characters. We find out what happened to the twin assassins, Vree and Bannon, Karlene the bard, and Gyhard, the man who is looking for a body of his own. It's also the story of Magda and Garrett, children of the main characters of book 1, Sing the Four Quarters. We even spend some time with Prince Otavas (I may have that spelling wrong), another of the characters from #2. Their paths intertwine to give us a wonderful solution to the simple problem of a man without a body.
As I said to an author buddy of mine as I was reading, even though I enjoyed my read, I found myself wishing that maybe I had read these books when I was a teenager. I'm pretty sure all the sexual identity diversity and openness would have left a positive mark on an impressionable me. As it is now, at 60 years old, well, I sit and nod and think that these kids have the right idea. *LOL*
I'm looking forward to reading the 4th book, The Quartered Sea, at some point and seeing which of my friends from the first three books come along for the ride. :)
Monday, September 25, 2017
Desert Rising Book 2
This little series - 2 books so far - is one of my favourite fantasy reads EVER. (Blair's other full-length novel, Sword and Chant, which I think is set in the same universe at a far different time is really good too!) It's smart, non-formulaic, adult, thoughtful, fun, action-packed and dilemma-filled. But not the kinds of dilemmas that are huge and bombastically dramatic, but more personal, character-driven and complicated in their effects. It's darkish, but never grim. Serious, real shit is happening, but there's always a wee bit of hope. :)
Blair writes beautifully. Her prose is simple, yet filled with impact. You FEEL the desert and the heat and the cold. And her characters! OMG, they are so rich and well-rounded, filled with wonderful qualities and all too human flaws. Even the bad guys of the tale have multiple dimensions.
Speaking of the characters, all my old favourites are back and we are introduced to some new ones along the way. Also, we see changes in some characters who are coming into their own. One of them, Layla, who I despaired of in the first book, has grown and has some substance now. I love authors that can do that, make me enjoy a character I once disliked or had no time for. :)
When I think of this book and its predecessor, I tend to put them in the same corner of my mind with Guy Gavriel Kay. Wonderfully written, diverse characters drawn with skill and depth, a way of writing setting and location that puts you RIGHT THERE and just... well, just everything that's good. (And the covers are gorgeous!)
This is one of those books that makes me wish I could write reviews that are pithy and fabulous, but sadly, that's not my forté. I wanted to gobble the book up as quickly as I could, but I also wanted to take a long time and savour ever little bit of the journey - I think I ended up somewhere in between. I cannot recommend this book, this series, highly enough! I think they're little known in fantasy reader circles and that's a shame. Blair is one of my very favourite fantasy authors, along with GGK, GRRM and Katherine Kurtz so go READ THEM!!! :)
Sunday, September 17, 2017
I do love Eoin Macken's writer's voice. He has lovely turns of phrase and a thoughtful way of seeing things that verges on the poetic at times. Which shouldn't suprise me, he does write poetry.
I loved Eoin' s first book, Kingdom of Scars, and was looking forward to reading this, his next offering. Now these books are not in genres that I often, if ever, read. Gonna be honest, I read the first one because I love Eoin on TV and was curious. I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that the man could write! And write well!
So, Hunter and the Grape. I didn't love it as much as I loved Kingdom of Scars, I will admit. This time, the hero is a little older - he's eighteen and his life just totally sucks. He leaves home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, meets up with a girl and the adventure begins. This book would make a terrific movie. I found it reminiscent of My Own Private Idaho, Heathers, Beautiful Thing and What's Eating Gilbert Grape.
Reading this book made me wish I was 16 again. Not because I want to live my life over or anything, but because then I could enjoy this book totally and fall in love with Cat/Hunter, the main character and wish I was Grape. They're so screwed up, but not. They get into so much trouble and then get out of it. They can make $87 stretch FOREVER.
It's a beautifully written book. I love Eoin's words. This is YA literature, in my humble opinion. :)
Friday, September 15, 2017
Book One of The Legends of Camber of Culdi
Every once in a while I get the urge to revisit old favourites and Katherine Kurtz's Deryni novels are definitely faves of mine. I think the Camber books and the Heirs of Camber books are some of Katherine's strongest work.
Yeah, there's stuff in here that might be problematic these days - I mean, it was originally published in 1976 - but I can deal with that. I'm happy to say that although I notice the problems over 40 years later (with a few rereads between), they don't impinge on my enjoyment of the book.
Magic, intrigue, memorable characters, tension, humour, tragedy, it's all here. I still cry at certain passages and chuckle out loud at others. (More crying than chuckling in this one.)
Yeah, still faves, even 40+ years later. :)
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
River of Teeth #2
I pre-ordered this book (something I very very seldom do) because I enjoyed the first, River of Teeth, so much. It was fresh it, it was different, it was intriguing and it was well written and peopled with lovely characters. This book, Taste of Marrow, was still all that, but at a lower level, I'm afraid.
Now, both books are novellas and I honestly think the story suffered from that in two ways. First off, I felt that the story over both needed more fleshing out. I wanted more... depth? No, because what's there is plenty deep enough, but it just seemed that I wasn't getting the whole story as I should be. I wanted more meat.
And secondly, I don't know why it had to be split over two novellas. The first half of this one, I didn't really understand why one of the main characters was so manically obsessed with finding one of the others - big love notwithstanding. I still don't get why it was so manic and I suppose I'd have to go back and read the first one again to see. And I only read that one in May! Anyway, put them both together in one normal sized novel - it would only be 75K words or 260 some odd pages. Not even CLOSE to epic. *LOL* I also had trouble remembering why one of the bad characters was so important to the whole story. So yeah... a single novel please?
The other thing that I found bothered me again was the gender-neutral use of the pronoun 'they'. It's bloody confusing, I'm sorry. I apologise if that sounds insulting in anyway. I have absolutely NO problem with gender-neutral/fluid people. It's just that the word, after 55+ years of reading and 60 years of talking indicates more than one person to me. I was confused so many times looking for the second or other people in the scene. It brought me up short and took me right out of the story. Which saddens me because I had to take off a .5 star for that because it did impact my enjoyment of the book.
So yeah, I was somewhat disappointed by Taste of Marrow. I do hope the author continues to write in this universe however, and maybe even with some of the same characters.
Monday, September 11, 2017
Snow & Winter Book One
I was vaguely disappointed by this book. I say vaguely because it wasn't a bad read, it just didn't satisfy me the way I was hoping it would. I mean, it has some of my fave tropes - the shop owner and the cop, a mystery or two, the promise of a series of adventures, even a holidayish setting. It just never clicked for me.
One problem I had with with it was the shop owner main character. He suffers from achromatopsia, which is total colour blindness. He only sees in shades of grey/white/black and is extremely light sensitive. Now that's not a problem in and of itself, it's just that I spent at least half the book wondering how he saw things and how he could do certain things. Not that the author didn't explain things, she did. It just took a hold in my mind and the wondering would not stop! It was very distracting.
And then there was the instalove. Now.. I find that as I get older, instalove has begun to lose some of its lustre. Especially when the characters aren't new adult age, but one is 33 and the other is 42. Insta- LUST, I will buy. Big time interest? Most certainly. But in this case, Sebastian and Cal seemed to get deep really, really fast and for no perceptible reason that I could see. If anything, the subplot of Sebastian breaking up with his boyfriend, Neil, should have made impeded the whole deepness thing, IMO. Sufficient to say that I wasn't buying it. Now, I do think the characters will grow on me. I hope, anyway. I liked many of the basic traits etc... that were set down in this first book of the series.
I liked many of the secondary characters as well. Seb's father, Cal's partner, Seb's antique store employee and Seb's store neighbour. They all seemed pretty authentic and I hope we see more of them as the series continues. I also hope that the mystery will be a little more weighty - I like it when the mysteries are as important to the story as the love story, but I didn't get that here. It felt to me like the mystery was created so the guys could have some hot sex. So maybe, next book, a little more sleuthing and a little less dancing in the sheets? And some more delving into the emotions of the MCs would e nice too.
I did find that there was more than an echo of the Adrien English mysteries by Josh Lanyon, but thank heavens I didn't dislike one of the MCs the way I do Adrien's erstwhile cop lover. I do believe that if you're a fan of the Lanyons, you'll enjoy this book. So, all in all, the book just left me, as I said, vaguely disappointed. But I will be continuing the series. :) Oh, and BTW, I love the covers of these books. They are nicely evocative, I think.
Friday, September 8, 2017
I really enjoyed this book! I'm a fan of Elizabeth Bear's, even thought sometimes I think her writing is too smart for me to actually get. *LOL* I had been looking forward to reading Karen Memory since it was published and finally, it went on sale and I could afford the ebook. All I knew about it was that Elizabeth wrote it, it was steampunk, the heroine was lesbian, and all the buzz was really good.
But when I started it.... OMG, my stomach sank because there were two things that are generally a 'no way José' type of thing for me. The character speaking in dialect, hell, the whole narrative in dialect when it comes to that because it's a 1st person POV and the heroine being young, like YA/NA young. This did not bode well.
But you know what? I soon forgot that the heroine was of tender years, so to speak. Yeah, she was young, but she wasn't that annoying young that so many of the YA/NA characters I have read are. And the dialect? Well, I can see how it might be problematic for some - the should haves and could haves and would haves were all should of, could of and would of, which would normally drive me absolutely apeshit, but oddly enough, it didn't bother me. Shocking, I know. (Had she thrown in a verse in place of versus, I may have felt differently. *LOL*) But the character of Karen had come alive very quickly and this is how she talked and it was okay. :)
What we have here, is the tale of Karen Memery (that's the actual spelling of her name), and what happens when a badly injured girl comes begging sanctuary at the door to the bordello where Karen works, setting in motion adventures and mysteries. The action is exciting and seldom lets up. The characters are all terrific - the girls and staff of the bordello, the lawmen, the villains. Even the animals! *LOL*
Karen Memory is one of those books where I wish I could write decent reviews to do it justice. Suffice it to say that it's a rollicking adventure with a diverse and fascinating cast and a real sense of humour and fun.
Monday, September 4, 2017
This book is pretty much outside my comfort zone. Atmospheric ghost stories aren't something I'm drawn to and the only reason I read this one was because a good friend said it was one of the best books she'd ever read.
I will admit that it is a well-written book and it catches you from the get-go, but I also have to say that I totally disliked the main character for the first 1/3rd of the story. And that's a big deal when the book is written for the most part as a journal. I never truly liked him though. I was also glad that the book was only a little over 200 pages.
Did it work as a ghost story? Yes. It evoked the spooky, solitary world of the Arctic quite well and the loneliness was genuinely depicted. (Can I say that? It sounds odd.) The thoughts and musings of Jack, the main character were very believable and I finally came to find him somewhat sympathetic and thus grew concerned for his well-being for the duration of the book.
Now, the book is set in 1937 and it FEELS like 1937 which is just fine. Some things, were they said/done today would be found quite ... unacceptable? But that's how things were in 1937. I'm OK with that. The book was published in 2010 but quite honestly, it felt like it could have been released back in the 30s or 40s. And seeing as it's a journal for the most part, I'd say that's a success.
The book is very British. Good thing too, seeing as it's main characters are British. :) I think it would make a terrific spooky movie. No blood & gore that is so popular these days, but a truly mind-fucking suspenseful movie.
So yes, good book. I would recommend it highly to anyone who enjoys ghost stories and spooky stuff. I see why my friend loved it so much. That's not my bag, though, so it gets a bit of a lower rating because of that.
Friday, September 1, 2017
The Guardians Trilogy - Book 2
After the disappointment of my last read, I needed a sure thing, so I picked up one of my trusty go-to's and that's La Nora. Nora's always an easy read for me. I find myself reading just one more little bit, just one more bit. *LOL*
I discovered that one of the reasons I enjoy Nora's trilogies concerning 3 couples is that there's always a sense of a family coming together. The guys banter with the girls and the girls banter with the guys and they all banter with each other and I end up chuckling like a crazy person. :) Yes, they might seem repetitive from one trilogy to another, but it's a pleasant repetition. I love the friendships that get formed and I honestly think they mean more to me than the romances.
This book, book 2, is the story of the mermaid and the traveller. She's so funny and innocent of the ways of the land. I find her verbal faux pas very amusing. I also find her freedom and honesty refreshing. She seems so fragile and while I might be like Sawyer, the traveller, and want to protect her, she's fully capable of taking care of herself.
The romance is great, as always. I enjoy the OTTness of the love scenes, something that doesn't carry from one author to another. but as I said before, it's the friendships that often bring me to tears. And I usually, probably always, tear up reading a Nora. *LOL*
So, when the 3rd book Isle of Glass is no longer $13.99, I'll be picking it up. Even though I'm pretty damned sure I know how the trilogy ends, I'm going to enjoy the way it gets there. :)