Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra

3.5 Stars

Asiana - Book 1

To be honest, the first thing that drew me in about this book was the cover.  It's gorgeous!  And then the blurb sounded good and different from what I've spent most of my fantasy reading career reading.  The past couple of years have see a rise in the diversity of my fantasy reading.  Lots of Asian stuff is on my radar now.

Anyway... good read.  More New Adult than I would normally like.  I think I would have liked more time spent on the actualities of this very post apocalyptic world instead of the angsting of the main character, but... it's New Adult.  I've seen it referenced as a romance as well, but quite honestly, the romance is mostly in the second half and as far as I can see isn't created from much.  It's as if the author has said there's a romance so there is.  I would have liked to see that more developed too. 

I liked the characters, was intrigued by the world but I wanted more.  And since I know there's another book coming, I was very annoyed by the cliffhanger ending.  Had this been a standalone, I'd have cheered it.  (Hint - I thought The Sopranos ending was genius.)

So, yes, I will add the sequel to my list, but I won't be rushing out to buy it as soon as it's published.  )

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Chasing Embers by James Bennett


This book held a lot of promise.  Sounded like a fun read with a really interesting twist of a premise. Sadly, it wasn't that.

I could only make it 40% in before giving up.  The thing is SO overwritten.  I mentioned on Twitter that I don't think the author, James Bennett, ever met an adjective that he didn't like.  And use!  Dear GOD, the man needs an editor with a store of red pencils. 

Reading became like wading through mud.  Thick, sticky mud. 

It became really unpleasant and that's when I decided to set it aside.  Too bad.

But on the upside, that's a series I don't need to add to the "get it" list. :)

Saturday, August 18, 2018

A Queen from the North by Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese

4 Stars

Royal Roses Book 1

I don't remember who recommended this book to me a couple of months ago, but am I ever glad they did.  It was delightful!

Set in an alternate universe... well, here's a blurb - In a United Kingdom where tensions between the houses of Lancaster and York did not end with the War of the Roses, Lady Amelia Kirkham, grad school reject and youngest daughter of a Northern earl agrees to enter into a marriage of convenience with Arthur, Prince of Wales, a 39-year-old widower with an ailing father. Together, they will either unite England’s North and South for the first time in centuries… or cause the kingdom’s fall.

So, in many ways, it felt like a positive rework of the Charles and Diana courtship (I have issues with the whole Chuck and Di thing.) and that might have bugged me more had I not fallen for the Prince of Wales myself within the first three chapters. *LOL* And in Amelia I actually found a young woman protagonist that I didn't want to throttle. And I liked the way their love story played out. I especially enjoyed the part about Canada, although it seemed to me that making Toronto appear the capital of my country was a bit much.

What intrigued me the most, I must admit, is the alternate history of the story as well as the faint bits of magical mythology that surround the tale. I went hunting around and found out that the writing duo has begun work on the second book of the series and it seems like the myth and magic might take on a more prominent role. YAY!

So yes, I really enjoyed my read and am eagerly looking forward to the next book.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Single Malt by Layla Reyne

3.5 Stars

Agents Irish and Whiskey - Book 1

This book hit the spot.  You know, that spot you have when you can't decide for your life which book you want to read next, even what genre you want to read in!  Why I chose this book, I don't know, but it was the right move.  I really liked it!

I'm a sucker for these buddy/lovers/partners books.  Ty and Zane (Abigail Roux) are my total OTP couple and Prophet and Tommy (S. E. Jakes) are right close behind.  And now Irish and Whiskey or Aidan and Jamie if you prefer, can be added to that list.

Filled with action and puzzles as well as some intense interaction between the two main characters, Single Malt was a quick read for me.  A page-turner if you will.  The chemistry is undeniable between the two and I really enjoyed how their banter could go from playful and teasing to intense and sexy and then right into kick-ass get-'er-doneness.  I liked both of them.

I also liked the cast of secondary characters.  Especially Aidan's younger brother, Danny.  He has a book later in the series, I believe.

I'm intrigued by the mystery which I assume will arc over multiple books.

So, yes, I will be picking up the next book in the series very soon!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone

4 Stars

I have no idea what I just read but it was fascinating.  Advertised as a psychological thriller, it is that, but it's something else as well. A character study?  A study on revenge?  A study on sociopaths?  What I can say is that the heroine of this story, Jane, left me feeling much the same as I felt about the heroine of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Lisbeth Salander.  I pulled for her, rooted for her, had her back, but MAN, she scared the shit out of me.  She's a self-diagnosed sociopath but I'm kinda with the character, Luke, who sees something else in her.  Or maybe that's me looking for a reason to justify my rooting for her?

Well written in the present tense with a 1st person POV, I know some people will sneer, but it works really well for this story.

It's an unsettling read, but I understand why all the excitement on Twitter this past week about it.  I'm glad I took a chance and read it.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

4 Stars

Crazy Rich Asians Trilogy #1

What a fun read!  Lots of buzz about the movie and then the book went on sale, so how could I resist, even though it's not my usual fare. 

I will admit that I spent a lot of my reading time with a recurring thought of "Really?  Is this for real?" going on in my mind because the book seemed to me that it might be reinforcing stereotypes of Asians. But I haven't seen any kind of kickback about it or the movie online and with some of the people I follow, believe me, there'd have been outcry. 

Also, it was funny, but some of the scenes and characterisations harkened back to James Clavell's Noble House (which I also thoroughly enjoyed when I read it years and years ago.), mostly those having to do with family heirarchy, the clubs and businesses etc...  It was really weird because Clavell is one of the last authors you'd think of when reading a rom-com, right? 

Anyway, the characters were fun and seemed very real, despite the over the top setting.  I especially loved Astrid, the hero's cousin.  She was deliciously over the top yet very vulnerable when you got beneath the surface.  I also liked Rachel, the heroine's, friend Piek Lin a whole lot too.  Indeed her whole family! 

My only problem with the book, really, was that it seemed to end so abruptly.  I even checked to make sure I wasn't missing a chapter or an epilogue or something.  It doesn't end badly at all, it just felt sudden and quick. 

And the story's not done!  (It IS a trilogy. *LOL*)  So I'll be looking to pick up book 2 and looking forward to watching the movie whenever it hits Netflix or The Movie Network or whichever.  (I don't do theatres anymore).

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Dance With Me by Alexis Daria

3.5 Stars

Dance Off #2

This was pretty much a fun and sexy read that I enjoyed for the most part.  I had a couple of issues, but I believe that they're on me for the most part.

Natasha is the Latina heroine, extraordinary dancer and choreographer who has a huge problem with confidence in her herself and her talents thanks to her upbringing by a shitty mom who never supported her in her dreams.  I had a problem with this character in that I just wanted to sit her down so often and just TALK to her. She spent far too much time in her own head and actually needed a mom-type figure to shake some sense into her - I felt.  And that was the problem.  I had a rough time identifying with her, something that always makes a romance better for me.  If only Natasha would TALK to someone.  She never even talked frankly and honestly with her best friend (the heroine of Book 1).  I guess I never was able to bond with her.  And you know... it's kinda shallow of me, I think, but Natasha for a Puerto Rican girl?  Especially when there are a bunch of other characters, including the hero's family that are Russian?  Stupid, I know, but it twigged me every time.

The hero I could get a lot better handle on, probably because he's most likely based on my fave dancer from Dancing With The Stars.  *LOL*  I understood where his insecurities and stupidities were coming from and I spent a lot less time being exasperated with him than with Natasha.  Although maybe that's from years of dealing with men who have a terrible time opening up about honest feelings and emotions on my part.  There were times I wanted to throw things at him though.  Very exasperating at times.  *LOL*

The first half of the book is very, very sexy.  Almost to the point where I was ready to believe that's all Natasha was there for - but it's a romance, so I knew better.  The second half, where we start to learn more about both characters and they begin to open up - a bit - to each other was much more satisfying for me. I did like Natasha and Dimitri's dialogue - a lot.  It was very natural, very earthy at times and very believable. 

All in all, I didn't enjoy this one as much as the first one. I think if I'd felt more of a connection with Natasha I'd have been happier, but it was still satisfying for the romance reader part of my brain.  :)   Also, I think painting the show as a sort of villain so often might be a mistake.