Tuesday, July 9, 2019
The Expanse - Book Three
I am enjoying this series so much! Both the books and the TV show. But we're here about the book. The third book in the series (and the one that brings me up to date with the show.)
Our four faves are back. Holden, Naomi, Amos and Alex. We don't see enough of the latter two as far as I'm concerned, but that doesn't take away the enjoyment of the story, really. Once again, the known universe is in flux, Earth, Mars and the OPA are trying to cooperate and investigate the ring construct of the protomolecule but old suspicions and ways die hard. Miller returns as well, but only Holden can see or interact with him.
Someone is out to destroy Holden and in the process of attempting to do just that, all hell breaks loose. We meet Clarissa Mao (the sister of Julie), Anna Volovodov, a spiritual leader and Bull, an Earther member of OPA.
Lots of folks die in this book. And there are many heros throughout. I could just recount the political thriller type plot, but suffice to say, it was logical and intriguing. I don't know why it took me so long to read this book, because I was quite into it, but maybe it was the heat. :)
Anyhoo, great read and I'm looking forward to the next book in the series!
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Big Bad Wolf - Book One
It was okay. I was expecting a little more than just okay, I have to admit, as it was recced to me by a couple of long-time friends, but it just goes to prove that you never know for sure. :)
Anyway, it's a shifter book and I'm not huge on shifters - except for my avian shifters by Kim Dare. This is a wolf shifter tale - as if you couldn't tell. *LOL* Anyway, there wasn't a whole lot of shifting done but there sure was a lot of sniffing!
One main character, Cooper, is human and the other, Oliver is the wolf shifter. Cooper is also a BSI agent, Bureau of Special Investigations, a sort of secret branch of the FBI. Oliver is an agent of The Trust, a werewolf governing organization, who is suddenly partnered with Cooper. I liked the world-building. It was interesting and I wish we'd had more of it.
There are missing people, dead and mauled bodies, suspicious folk all in this small town in Maine - I think it's Maine - that reminded me a heckuva lot of the town I see on North Woods Law. There is a alot of investigating that goes on and the case/mystery is engrossing enough, especially for a romance novel. Cooper and Oliver are thrown into close contact over and over again, of course. What we see of Oliver that tells us he's a wolf shifter is that he uses his sense of smell a LOT, his eyes glow golden upon occasion, and he's graceful. Cooper, to me anyway, comes across as a bit of a newbie whose smarts are hidden beneath a layer of dumb. The story is told from Cooper's POV and we spend a lot of time in his head as he asks himself the same questions about the mystery, the relationship, his past, over and over and over again. Oliver, of course, is hiding something, but what? I don't know if we ever really find out the extent of his secrets. It's a series featuring the same couple, so I expect the author is holding stuff in reserve for future books.
I found myself alternately liking both main characters and being impatient with them - Cooper especially, I guess because it's his POV. The relationship works for the most part. Will I continue reading the series? Probably, but it's not an urgent need. I think my friends told me it gets better in Book 2, so it's on my radar.
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
The Aven Cycle - Book One
When I was a kid, barely even a teenager, I loved to read about ancient Greece and Rome. All those gods and goddesses, all those myths, they fascinated me. This book was like going back in time, but to an ancient time when those myths also had magic added into the blend.
I loved the world-building, the way the magics of the people merged quite well with what I know about the history of ancient Rome. It all felt quite familiar, yet not.
The characters were engaging, many of them not wet behind the ears youngsters coming into their own, but established, mature folks - something I'm always on the lookout for. The heroine, Latona, is the middle of three sisters, and has been repressing her natural magic talents as well as her smarts. Married to what I'd term a Barney Businessman type in contemporary terms, she had been forced to serve as the now-deceased dictator of Aven's mistress. She feels almost freed by his death and begins to experience a growing of her powers.
The hero of the tale is Sempronius, a man who has been hiding his own powers, powers having been for the most part proscribed by the aforementioned dictator, and living in a sort of exile. He has returned to the city and wants to dedicate his life to making Aven the greatest it can be and then he meets Latona and there's instant chemistry.
Anyway, the politics are interesting and written in such a way that they never become boring. There is some military action happening out in the 'provinces' where a general of the people for the barbarians has arisen. There's that romance I mentioned and there's character growth on both sides.
I liked it. I enjoyed my read, it was meaty and juicy, filled with all sorts of things. There wasn't a huge ending to the book though. There was definitely what could be termed an ending of this part of the tale and I was satisfied by it, instead of being frustrated with a huge cliffhanger. I'm looking forward to the next book. :)
Friday, June 7, 2019
Consortium Rebellion - Book One
Just about my whole Romancelandia Twitter feed was over the moon about this book. Best thing ever!! Kickass heroine!! Awesome hero!!! Action galore!! Romance!! Sexytimes!!
If you're looking for all those things, try the excellent Conspiracy of Whispers by Ada Harper.
So here's the thing, a 23 year old heroine who can do everything and get out of scrape after dangerous scrape, time after time, thanks to some training we're just hearing about that she had when she was young. TWENTY THREE IS YOUNG!!! She's just so darned perfect all the time. No one is at that age, but seriously, this gal, who amusingly enough, is named Ada doesn't have a single fault or flaw.
And the hero? Loch, who frowns and growls and grunts his way through the book until just about the very end where he declares his devotion to Ada. But do we SEE this relationship kindle and grow? Nope, we see a lot of hot sex and lusty glances and panting after each other, but aside from this overpowering physical attraction to each other, I don't think I saw much emotional growth. Loch is just a lump of growly muscle and abs as far as I can tell, one who seems to think that Ada belongs to him. His property. I can't tell you how that put me off every time it was mentioned - and that was a lot.
The action. Well, there was a lot of that, but it mostly spun the same way. There's some trouble, Ada pulls out some great weapon or defense and manages to rescue them, much to Loch's amused surprise. Or, Ada gets captured, she's threatened with DIRE consequences, and by some special quirk of hers or SURPISE, growly man, she or they manage an escape. There are politics involved by they're basically only given surface attention. They could be very interesting and maybe we'll get there at some point in the series, but not here.
Romance? Not much here! Mutual admiring of weapons and abs and lusty looks and thoughts and deeds and that's about it. I don't know why Ada loves Loch and I don't know why Loch loves Ada. I'm told they're in love, but... I have no clue why or how.
There were a few scenes I really liked. The scenes where Ada, Loch and their friends plotted and planned and teased each other. Felt a lot like Nora Roberts' gang of friends characters. And that's my catnip, as they say. *LOL*
Of course we've been introduced to the next couple in the series, I'm pretty sure. Ada's sister and her family's House security guy (who I think is one of Loch's friends, but that's in the future.)
Oh, and one last thing... I found the characters very 2019ish as opposed to the hundreds of years in the future people they are supposed to be. Just the way they spoke, the terms they used, it just all felt somehow contemporary to me.
Anyway, I went into this with high hopes and was quite frankly, disappointed. I don't understand what the huge fuss is about. The basic ideas are good, but the execution and the meat of the story are lacking, in my opinion. So it's another book that so many people found wonderful and I found it rather ordinary and pedestrian.
Sunday, June 2, 2019
A quick bit of background. So, I'm a Nascar fan, thanks to my late BFF, Julie, who introduced me to the sport. Dale Jr. was her favourite driver and soon became one of mine. (My top favourite was Tony Stewart - Smoke as they call him. He's retired now and my allegiance has gone to Ryan Blaney.) Junior suffered concussions in the latter half of his career (Julie passed in 2011, so she was gone by the time this happened to him.) and this is the story of how he dealt with them, how he turned the spotlight on CTE and concussion protocols and aftercare for not only Nascar but all sports, really. And it's the story of the years leading up to his retirement from driving.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's not a huge tome, it's only 200 pages, but I have to tell you, I learned more about concussions and how they're treated in this day and age in the two days I took to read it than in the past 10 years of my life. And in language that I could understand too!
Junior tells the story beginning with his first recognised concussion in 2012 after giving us a bit of his background growing up in Nascar, the son of one of its all-time stars. It helps to understand his actions and reactions when you know the culture of his life. Now, I followed this via Nascar telecasts and news and such, but we never had the whole story of course. That story is here and Junior is telling it so that he can help people who might be suffering from the same things he did and still does.
Even though the focus is pretty much solely on the concussions we still get a pretty decent look into the final years of Junior's driving career and discover the REAL reasons he left when he did and how he did.
I found it a great read and my understanding of these injuries has grown quite a bit. Highly recommended!
Saturday, June 1, 2019
I was very much looking forward to reading this book which sounds like a paranormal/shifter f/f romance starring MCs of a 'certain age'. You see, when some of the women of Wolf's Point begin menopause, they also become werewolves.
Well, it really wasn't a romance. Yeah, Becca, the main POV character, developed a crush on her across the street neighbour, Erin, but aside from a whole lot of internal whining about was she coming on too strong, was she really attracted to her THAT way, was she reading the signs wrong, there wasn't much that could actually be pointed to as a romance. There was also a lot of complaining about the inconsiderate/cheating/obnoxious ex-husband which I found rather clichéd. And just about every time Becca felt herself heating up, she wasn't sure if it was embarrassment, being turned on by Erin, or a menopausal hot flash. It got tiresome after a while.
I liked the premise of the story - mature female werewolves protecting their town and environs from all the baddies - but I don't feel it was ever explored in anything more than a cursory fashion. Yes, there was the whole plot of the baddies come to town to eradicate the scourge of the werewolf because.... well.... because.
I have to admit that I never warmed up to Becca. As I said, I found her rather whiny. About everything. Her marriage that was more than 2 years over, her job, her menopause, her werewolfiness, her crush on Erin, her interactions with the other mature women of the town. OMG, she bitched and moaned about everything and hardly ever came to a firm decision about anything. I honestly could not see what Erin - maybe - found attractive about her.
I don't know if there are going to be further books about the Wolves of Wolf's Point, but I suppose that if one comes along and the price is right, I might be tempted to pick it up to see if it actually goes someplace but I won't be disappointed if there's not.
Tuesday, May 28, 2019
The Worldbreaker Saga - Book One
I don't think I've ever read something like this in all my years of reading fantasy. It's a challenging read, no doubt about it. There are few familiar touch points, few things you can anchor to as you travel through this incredible universe that Kameron Hurley has built. You have to pay attention to everything - no skimming (not that I'm one to skim anyway.) and put away any kind of judgement you might have. This is indeed a strange new world and I have to admit, as much as it confused me, awed me, entranced me, it also scared the hell out of reader me. *LOL* I haven't had to concentrate on a read the way I concentrated on this for a long, long time.
This is one of those books where I wish I could write a really stellar review and talk intelligently about the choices and craft and intention and all that stuff. But I can't. I can just tell you how the book made me feel.
When I was on Goodreads adding the book as 'currently reading', I came across a review - that wasn't a review - written by the person who edited the book and I'm going to link it here because it's damned fascinating. Amanda's Review. And don't worry, there are no spoilers there.
I want to say that this, the first book of the saga, finishes with a cliffhanger, but it didn't feel like a cliffhanger? Yeah, there were a bunch... I mean, A BUNCH of unanswered questions, but I didn't get that "And then? And then? And then?" annoyingly frustrating feeling I usually do when left with a cliffhanger. I have the second book in my TBR pile and I will get to it soonish. I do want to know what's happening with all the characters and what the next step in this 'Worldbreaker' story is.
Would I recommend this book? Oh yes, very much. But it's not for everyone. Like I said, it's a challenging read, but a really good one.
Sunday, May 19, 2019
This is an early Nora, a Silhouette reprint from 1992 and boy, does it show.
The hero, Brady, is a tad overbearing for this day and age, the plot is somewhat dated and the actual writing... OMG, the HEAD-HOPPING!!! It's so bad... it's SO SO SO bad. I don't remember any Nora being this full of mexican jumping bean POVs.
It didn't help that I didn't like the heroine. She just rubbed me the wrong way. I found her rather self-centred and whiny which, I suppose, is what I'm supposed to feel because she's a high-strung concert pianist, but man... I really didn't like her.
Anyway, this Nora was a disappointment to me. I usually enjoy Nora's earlier work but this one... nope. I guess it's the exception that proves the rule?
Sunday, May 12, 2019
The Band - Book Two
Loved it! I have to think that Eames' Band books aren't for everyone. All the winks and jokes both subtle and broad might tend to grate on some people I'd think. But not me. I loved it all. I laughed out loud and marvelled at how he got away with things.
This book felt a wee bit darker than the first book, Kings of the Wyld, especially the ending, but I didn't mind at all. It felt complete.
We have the story of Tam Hashford, daughter of a one time band member and she wants nothing more than to be a band member herself. When one of the biggest and best mercenary bands rolls into town and she gets invited to be its next bard, well, the adventure begins. She's seventeen, I think, and we get to see how she grows and matures over the next little while. It's a short span of time, but she does some HUGE growing.
And Rose... Bloody Rose, daughter of Golden Gabe of Saga fame... she is an enigma. I thought we were going to get the story from her POV, but I was mistaken. We see her story through Tam's eyes, and it works really well.
Anyway, I loved it. It was a terrific sequel and I sure hope Nicholas does some more writing in this world because I'm fascinated by it!
Oh... one last thing. The covers of these books are GORGEOUS!!! I'd hang this one especially on my wall. Kudos to Richard Anderson for a thing of beauty!
Saturday, May 4, 2019
Dave Robicheaux - Book Four
Not gonna lie, the title of this book had a lot to do with me giving it a try when it showed up in the 'on sale' section at Kobo. Me and flamingos, all the way. 😊
So, it's very much a book of its time (published and set in 1990-ish) and I think there are probably terms of speech and attitudes that one wouldn't find today in a series about world-weary yet sometimes hopeful, often dark, detectives or private eyes. That being said, it reminded me a lot of my beloved Travis McGee novels by John D. MacDonald.
I'm not sure that I quite liked Dave Robicheaux, but he didn't piss me off or annoy me. To be fair, I'm starting here with book 4 in his series so I'm pretty sure I don't know him that well yet. His 'adventures' with the drug and mob culture in his part of the bayou outside New Orleans kept my interest and had enough twists and turns to keep me happy.
I guess the upshot is, yes, I'll probably read more of this series (there are 22 books in it), but the books won't be at the top of my list and will have to be on sale.
Sunday, April 28, 2019
I think I have a lot to say about this one. :)
So first off, it wasn't what I was expecting. I had seen this book recommended in many places, including one of my favourite authors, and in reading the blurb I was all in. Well, it wasn't a suspenseful, romantic, action book like Abigail Roux's Ty and Zane books or S.E. Jakes' Prophet and Tommy series. Nope, this was less that and more erotic love story. Which is more than fine, just not what I was expecting. *LOL*
So, what we have is a book that's really all about emotion. Both men, Elijah and Camden do not trust love. Well, they're afraid to expose all the emotional parts of themselves to a romantic partner. Both for different reasons. But boy oh BOY is the physical attraction strong. Like... Skywalker Force strong.
Elijah and Camden had a one night stand 5 years ago and it was SO POWERFUL and their connection SO INSTANT that neither one has been able to forget the other. I usually have a bit of a problem with this trope, but I have to tell you, the author writes it so brilliantly that it worked for me for the most part. Now the forced proximity trope is one that I do enjoy, so the fact that detective lieutenant Elijah has to stash ADA Camden away so the bad religious zealots can't assassinate him was an easy thing for me to deal with. Throw in the perfect seasoning of Elijah's family and we have a really good story with lots of emotion and growth in between the hot, uber hot, bouts of sex. I'd have preferred more of the former and less of the later in the mood I'm in.
Now, the thing is, I was not in the mood for high erotic content in my romance book this time. I wanted the whole detective, action, thriller, suspense type of book. But, LaQuette - an author new to me - writes so well and so enjoyably that I didn't really mind at all. I only had one real complaint about the whole thing and that was the constant use of the MCs names. Honestly, I know which character's POV I'm reading and I know how to differentiate his hands/legs/mouth/cock/eyes/whatever from the other dude's. I tried rereading a couple of the paragraphs substituting him/his for the character's name and you know what? It worked a charm. She didn't need to continue naming which guy was which because her writing is good enough that you just know.
Something was brought home to me about how I read while I was going through this book. I'm a visual reader, meaning I see the story playing out in my mind's eye as I read. And as such, I need to have descriptions of the characters - at least the MCs. It lets me sink into the story more completely. I say this because having finished the book, I still don't know if the author intended Camden to be black or part black or what. All I know is that his skin is light and his eyes blue and his hair black. So I kept seeing Jesse Williams in my mind's eye. Bear in mind that I'm the woman who insists that Mr. Clark from the Tom Clancy novels is a big, black man even if Willem Dafoe played him in the movies and is supposedly bang on. *LOL* Anyway, this bugged me. I wanted to know Camden's racial makeup so I could picture him properly.
So, that being said, this was not the book I expected, or the book I wanted to read, but I did enjoy my read and was very, very impressed by the author's ability to make me do so, LaQuette is definitely on my radar now!
Thursday, April 25, 2019
The Sixth World - Book 2
I loved it!
When I read the first book last July, I immediately pr-ordered this one and that's something I NEVER do. But oh, I'm glad I did!
We return to Maggie's story, some 4 weeks after the events of the previous book and our Maggie isn't really in a happy place. Kai has not returned to her and she's trying to feel hopeful, but worry and concern and her innate pessimism is kicking in. Suddenly, one of her bounties goes dreadfully wrong and she ends up responsible for a teenager with a strange clan power. And thus, the adventure begins.
We meet old friends and new friends as Maggie and her 'team' track the latest danger to Dinétah to try and stop him before he can cause a new apocalyptic disaster, as well as saving Kai from his grip, and are aided and hindered along the way by some very interesting folk.
It's wonderful getting to know the Goodacre twins better and the new addition of Ben, the teenage girl with strange powers does a lot for Maggie's growth. (I have to admit that because Ben is the name of my ex-husband, I had a bit of a struggle with it. *LOL*)
The world expands as Maggie grows and the author does a lovely job of telling the story of both. Her words are a joy to read, and as with the first book, there was more than one occasion of ... just one more chapter, just one more. :)
This is one of those books where I wish I was able to write amazing reviews, because it certainly deserves it. But, because I can't, take a look at this one... "And the waters prevailed" I just wish I was this good. *LOL*
So when do we get Book 3????????
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
I have discovered that I like John Scalzi's writing, so when I saw that he had done what he calls a 'reboot' of one of my favourite SF stories - Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper - I thought, well, okay, I can read this. Also, a couple of my friends said they enjoyed it.
So, did I?
Yes, for the most part. Like I said, I enjoy Scalzi's writing. Which is a good thing, because all the lawyer talk, the scientific talk etcetera, could have been very dry and unappealing in another author's hands.
There are a lot of differences from the original Piper novels. A lot of characters missing or retooled into other, maybe composited, characters. The plot, while remaining true at its heart, is focused much more on the legal aspects of the story as well as the um... not-niceness of Jack Holloway. All that is fine, but what I missed was the interaction with the Fuzzies. How Jack grew to accept and care for them as people, not pets. How the Fuzzies showed their sapience. I remember a scene in the original about a funeral that's stuck with me all these years. I missed those scenes in this book.
So, yeah, I enjoyed it and would probably recommend it to others, but I wasn't as satisfied as I'd hoped I'd be. I would totally direct people to read the original Fuzzy books by H. Beam Piper, though. :)
Sunday, April 21, 2019
Buchanan/FBI - Book Three
I am still in search of a gripping contemporary romantic suspense novel/series.
Now here's the thing. Julie Garwood is much beloved in Romancelandia so I felt pretty confident in trying her contemporary thrillers out. And it didn't seem like they HAD to be read in order, so that was a plus as well, seeing as I got volumes 3 and 4 on sale. Well... I was hoping for more.
In the beginning, it felt like one of Nora Roberts' suspense romances and I'm totally down with that. But you know what? It was written in 2002 and it sorta shows its age. I'm not talking about the flip phones or anything like that, but more an underlying whisper of an attitude? I dunno, but it bugged me. I never really warmed up to Avery, the heroine and I didn't fell like I saw enough of the hero, John Paul, to really gt to know him. And I wanted to! He was far more intriguing.
There were a lot of little things that I found bugged me, things that could have been fixed with a good editor. For instance, the couple is travelling over a rough back road in their car, windows up, heater blowing and oops... Avery hears the very faint noise of running water - and it's very faint when they pull off the road, roll down the windows and turn off the heater, then the car. COME ON!
Now there was a nifty twist at the end that I didn't figure on. The rest of the twists were pretty much obvious, but, okay, if the book is well written, the characters intriguing, I can live with that. But other than that, the ending was very non-satisfying because Avery and John Paul were NOT TOGETHER when the vanquishing of the bad guys happened. Talk about a lunchbag letdown!
Anyway, I'll read the other one I have and probably more in the series if they go on sale, but this sure didn't satisfy my itch for a gripping contemporary romantic suspense read.
Thursday, April 18, 2019
I always enjoy a Kirby Crow story and this was no different. The story of Marik, the disgraced soldier and Grey, the much younger recruit sent to second him in his lonely outpost is short - novella length - never my favourite, but I loved it anyway. It's Kirby's writing!
Both men have secrets. There are some magical powers. There is a lovely sex scene and a few expressions of affection. There is danger, a bit of intrigue and a tease of things going on in the wider world. There's even some fun banter.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable read that while being complete in and of itself, left me wanting to know more about these two characters and the wider world in which they live. And, oh, I did love Marik very much. :)
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Midnight Series - Book One
I guess I'm not having much luck with romantic suspense this week. I DNFed the last one and this one... well, it was just alright. Nothing exciting really. Definitely not enough to make me overlook the things that bugged me.
And what were those things? Well, for one, I was getting a whiff of the misogyny that so turned me off the previous book. While the hero, Reed, did his best to be respectful and look for consent etcetera, his inner thoughts were just a tad too leery for me to be totally comfortable. When it's the bad guy, it doesn't bother me, but in the hero? Nope.
Then there was the instalove. I didn't buy it.
There was also a scene set in a Wiccan shop that was run by a woman who the author described as 60-ish. You would have thought this woman was a doddering old fool, just because of her age. I'm here to tell you, (at 62), that we are nowhere near as ready for the home as this woman was depicted. And maybe I could have glossed over it, but the heroine came across as rather judgmental and mean in her thoughts about the woman. It was a small thing, but it really irritated me.
And then we came to the end. I like my thrillers to come to a conclusion. This did not. All of a sudden, the people in danger were rescued, the bad guy got away, the MCs declared their love for each other and decided to move away. Oh yeah, the bad guy got away. It was totally unsatisfying. I went online and discovered that book two in the series concerns the brother of the heroine taking up the chase for the bad guy. I have it in my TBR, but honestly? I'm not that anxious to read it.
Saturday, April 13, 2019
Evidence Series - Book One
Just far too much male gaze in this one. The hero is a leering idiot, there's a huge plot point concerning the threat of gang rape, and it just all feels distasteful. At this point, I'm ready to think that Rachel Grant is a pen name for a man who writes pot-boilers.
Really not my speed, sadly. I have no idea how it rates 4+ stars on Goodreads.
Thursday, April 11, 2019
The Poppy War - Book One
Well. This book was touted as one of the best of 2018 and it is nominated for a 2018 Nebula award for best novel. I didn't like it as much as the majority of people seem to have. I have read 5 of the 6 nominees and this was my least favourite of them. (Spinning Silver is the one I've not read.)
First off, let me say that the book is well-written read for all that.
My problem lies with expecting to see something new and different, but all I really saw were the same fantasy tropes that have been around forever. The orphan child with the mysterious background. The Chosen One. Hidden magical powers. Gods run amok. I think the only thing that was was even remotely new was that the book is set in an alternate historical China, or that's what I felt it was. I was disappointed, and even though, like I said, the writing was good, I found that disappointment colouring my read.
My other problem was with the protagonist, Rin, the orphaned peasant girl with the dark skin. This is her story, but I felt that things were just happening to her. I don't know that I felt her grow from her somewhat naive 16 years of age at the beginning of the book to her beaten, tortured, suffering (according to her words near the end of the book), 19 year old self. I was told that she did, but I never FELT it. At one point, she's yelling at one of her close friends, crying out that she's suffered fro so long, been beaten and tortured and betrayed and near killed etc... so she deserved getting her revenge, and I thought... but were you really? I was told she did, but.... I dunno, she never really came alive for me.
And you know, this book is rather grim-darkish. It's not promoted as such, but I think it really is. In the last third of the book, things get very violent and dark and at times just downright horrific.
So, anyway, I really didn't get what all the big excitement was about. Will I read the second book that's due out this summer? Probably, but I'm not in any rush.
Sunday, April 7, 2019
The Order of the Air - Book One
I thought this was a cool read. Set in the early 1930s, a period that I'm quite fond of, it's the tale of a small aviation company run by veterans of the Great War and how they get involved in a dangerous, thrilling occult adventure with its roots back in ancient times.
We have the three aviators, Lewis, Alma and Mitch, and the Jerry, the archaeologist. The First World War, the Great War, left its scars on everyone that fought and these four are no different. There are the obvious wounds, such as Jerry's missing lower leg, Mitch's abdominal scars, and there are also the mental and emotional wounds that all four suffer from. I liked all of them and I thought the authors did a good job of introducing and portraying them. It's the first in a series of books, so I expect to be learning more about them - especially my favourite, Mitch. I think he was the least fleshed out, but maybe that's because he doesn't seem, right now, to be as complicated as the other three?
So, the adventure includes an ancient evil from the time of the Emperors Claudius and Nero and possibly even before. We have a demon run amok and our quartet are on the chase. The only real problem I had with the whole thing was the time we spent reading about the intricacies of the aircraft involved. I didn't feel I needed to know things in such detail, either about the Terrier plane or the dirigible. The one part where I felt it worked was the big chase scene.
Now, I have to say, the book reminded me of a favourite book of one of my favourite authors - Katherine Kurtz and her Lammas Night. It also reminded me of her Templar series of books, but mostly Lammas Night. I wonder if the authors were inspired by her?
Anyway, I enjoyed my read and as it's the first volume of an omnibus, I have the next 2 books in the series to look forward to! If I was one to binge read, I'd be reading them right away, but I like to space my series out for the most part.
Friday, March 29, 2019
The Reluctant Royals - Book 2
So this is a daunting book only because it's one of the darlings of 2018. EVERYONE loves this book and it's a darling of Romancelandia. So I was a little wary going into it. The last time I read a book that was so universally loved, it was The Bollywood Bride, and I hated it. Did not see what any of the fuss was about.
Thank God, this book was a different experience.
So, I had been advised that I didn't need to have read the first book in the series to enjoy this one, but I'll tell ya, I wish I had. There were so many instances where the heroine's past was mentioned that had important bearing on the plot but were never explained that my wondering took me out of the story. And the story was GREAT, so this was quite bothersome. I STILL don't know the deal with Portia's (the heroine) sister. And it BUGS me. So YES, READ THE FIRST BOOK.
So, Portia is a screw up, who, it turns out, suffers from ADHD. This explains many things about her and her issues. I liked her. I liked her a lot. I liked that she was smart and clever. I liked her smart mouth and like many of her friends and her sister, I often wanted to shake her to make her believe she wasn't the mess she thought she was.
I liked the hero, Tav, the Duke by Default of the title. He was older, 37 to her 30 (THANK GOD for mature characters!!) and your typical taciturn Scot. And he was HOT. And he forges weapons, swords, daggers, axes... the whole thing! That's darned sexy. Anyway, he hit all the right buttons for me.
From my lofty 62 years of life, I thought that if they only would take an hour or two to actually talk about all these things that bothered each of them about themselves, the whole emotional mess could have been dealt with quickly and easily. But we wouldn't have a story then. *LOL* And it was a good story, maybe a little heavy at times with the ADHD and the immigration problem, but the author's writing style is breezy and fun (a big reason why AC is a fave of mine.) which saved it from being too lecture-y.
In the end, it was a really good romance. I totally enjoyed it and I can easily see how it garnered so many accolades and such noisy support. Just read the first book first!
The Shattered Sands - Book 0.5
So this is a big novella that takes place before the beginning of the epic series and introduces us to a teenage Cedi. It's basically the story of Ceda and her battle with the ehrehk, Rumayesh. Ehrehks are creatures created by the gods long ago and there's nothing good about them.
The book reads like three serial installments of a story which, for me, was a little off-putting. Flow-wise. A matter of personal preference, I think. Other than that, it was a pleasure to sink into the author's writing again.
At any rate, it was cool to see more of young Ceda and indeed just to visit Sharakhai again. We get to see a bit of other favourite characters too. It was a fun read.
Sunday, March 24, 2019
The Expanse - Book Two
Excellent sequel to the first book of the series. All our favourite characters have returned... well most of them. :) I have been firmly confirmed in my favouritism towards Amos and Chrisjen Avasarala. That being said, I love most of the characters. And we get to meet the stellar Bobbie Draper, Martian marine extraordinaire. She and Chrisjen working together are the absolute best.
The plot of this book clips along at a decent pace and the writing style makes it an easy, fluid read. I have to say that I've watched all 3 existing seasons of The Expanse and have found that the they're fairly faithful to the books and the changes not too jarring.
Anyway, loved my read and am looking forward to getting to book 3, which I have on tap soon. :)
Sunday, March 10, 2019
Kai Gracen - Book Three
Thank you Rhys! I swear, Rhys' books never disappoint, and this, the 3rd in the series that stars my favourite of her characters certainly followed suit.
I don't quite know what to say, except that Kai is his usually cranky, soft-hearted, brave, cynical self and I still am in love with him. :) I was happy that his relationship with Ryder, the elfin lord made some progression. I love their banter, I love what's unsaid between them and I love how they have each others' backs, no matter what. Ryder makes me chuckle.
I was also happy to get the chance to know Cari a little better. I wish she'd had a little more to do though and that we could have explored her special power a tad. But she's a ballsy young lady and I quite enjoy her. The new character of Kerrick was interesting - Ryder's cousin yet so very unlike Ryder. And then there was Bannon who I found even MORE interesting. No doubt we'll be seeing more of her in future books. And we got the chance to visit with that uber crankass, Dempsey. I enjoyed that too.
So there was adventure, some sadness, some great fights, some romance, some growing social awareness and loyalties being forged stronger. It was a thrill ride and I loved it! It's going to feel like FOREVER until the next one!
Saturday, March 9, 2019
The Salvagers - Book One
I hemmed and hawed about rating this book between 3.5 and 4 stars, but I went for 4 stars because it was a lot of fun. I saw it described somewhere as a Firefly-esque story mixed in with some Fast and Furious and that works for me. We have a rag-tag group of characters hieing their way across the galaxy in search of a rather mythical warship that would be one helluva salvage score. It's mostly space opera with a hefty side order of magic and while the magic was never really explained, I found it didn't matter much to me.
There are some fun characters here and I became fond of most, if not all of them. I loved the banter between them all and even if one of the main characters, the youthful race car driver, Nilah, made me want to shake her at times, it was an amused shake.
Only a couple of things bothered me, and they were probably small, but whenever I came across them in the book, it threw me right out of the story for a moment or two. Firstly, the author decided that ships aren't "she" in this far future universe, they are "he". Don't know why, there's never an explanation or anything, but every time the ship was designated this way, it gave me pause. The other thing was that the Captain called his crew Miss Thing, Missus Thing, Mister Thing (whatever their family names were) and it felt so out of place in this futuristic universe that I was pulled right out of the story. I found it peculiar.
Anyway, all in all, it was a super fun read and if you enjoy KB Wagers Idranan Trilogy or James Corey's Expanse series, you'll probably enjoy this one. I'm looking forward to the next book - it's on my list.
Monday, February 25, 2019
Well, this wasn't for me, I guess. It got lots of good press and I can understand why, but for my own taste, it didn't satisfy. (And this is where I remind folks that I rate on my reading experience.) It was too.... I felt like I was missing something, something that would give me the deeper understanding that the book was trying to give me. And that annoyed me at times.
The premise was interesting, but I felt overwhelmed by all the social stuff I was supposed to be getting riled up about. There are a lot of interesting concepts in the book having to do with the Earth's future, computer programs taking over so many things, nanosomething or others that sort of enable a melding with animals... just so so much.
The world-building is to be lauded, however. And the characters were interesting and intriguing. I just... I wish I liked it more. It felt like I SHOULD like it more. It's up for a Nebula award this year for best novel and I can see why. The nomination is deserved, I think. The book just isn't really for me. I will say though, it does leave me wondering what happens to the main characters left at the end. Whether or not their story continues and how it does.
Friday, February 22, 2019
Legends of the First Empire - Book Two
Let me begin by saying that I had no idea we were so far back in the history of this world when I read the first book. Thinking it was just me, I asked my son who just read book one at Christmas what he thought the 'age' of the world was and turns out it's not just me. *LOL*
Anyway, after the first quarter of the book being rather slow and um... explanatory?... the tale picked up and I adventured along with the familiar characters I had grown to enjoy from the first book. And while there were adventures to be had and new locations to be explored, I felt as if this book was very much a setting of the stage for the next book. Yes, the over-arcing plot lines advance and we get an answer or two or three to some things, but you can just feel that there's a lot more of this story to tell.
I very much enjoy the overall tone and flow of Sullivan's books and he creates characters that I fall in love with, so even though the plot and action of this book might have been a little slow, I still enjoyed it muchly and am looking forward to reading the next book!
Oh, and I have to shout out the cover artist, Marc Simonetti. The whole series is terrific!
Sunday, February 10, 2019
Central Corps - Book One
Don't be fooled by the first couple of chapters of this book. It reads like a steamy romance heading towards erotica land at first. I was a little confused, but then the mystery kicked in and we were off to the races. The science fiction wasn't earth-shatteringly different, but it felt mostly familiar to me.
So this is a busy book. A lot of things happening and often happening quickly - I found myself thinking on more than one occasion that a little streamlining wouldn't be amiss.
There is a thing that authors do sometimes, and that's have something in the backstory of one or all of the main characters that has great import on the characterization, the plot or both that is only hinted at in the inner workings of the characters thoughts. If it's not done well, it feels like a 'nya-nya-nya, I know something you don't' and I find it quite annoying. This happens here with Elena and whatever happened between her and her captain six months ago to cause such a rift. I would rather have known from pretty much the get go because the not-knowing felt rather manipulative.
I enjoyed the characters for the most part, especially the character of Trey. I loved his speech patterns and thought the author did a terrific job of making him feel 'outside the norm' to the reader. I also loved that he wasn't a young sprout. He was definitely sigh-worthy. There was nothing overly new or different about them, really, but I enjoyed reading about them. I had a hard time warming up to Elena, the main character, because she just felt a little too... edgily perfect? There was just some spark missing for me. I have no idea what, but it was there.
Is it a romance? Nope, I wouldn't consider it so - there's no HEA, nor even a real HFN. Yeah, there's a romantic element to the story but I wouldn't term it romance. Space opera mystery works for me. :)
Anyway, it was a fun read for the most part and I'll be adding the second book to my 'watch for a sale' book list.
Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Lady Astronaut - Book One
I started this book thinking I was about to read an alternate history about a group of women pioneering space flight on an alternate, historical planet Earth. What I felt I just read was an autobiography of one of the first women in space. An AU space, but still... not what I expected.
The story is told from the first person POV of Elma York, who is a mathematician and was a WASP pilot during the war. World War 2. She's also married to Nathaniel, who is an engineer and they are both Jewish. (Although, for some reason - I suspect because of Hidden Figures - I kept thinking of her as black.) Both of them are very, very smart. The story begins in alternate 1952 and t the world isn't that much different from reality.
There is an awful lot of Elma becoming more and more aware of racial discrimination against people of colour while being subjected to antisemitism and prejudice against women personally. The latter half of the book is taken up with the beginnings of integration in the International Aerospace Coalition and Elma's learning to deal with her crippling - at times - anxiety as she moves closer to her goal of getting into space.
So, I was somewhat disappointed that I didn't get the story I expected to get when I picked up the book. BUT, the book was a good read if I look at it as an AU auto-biography. And because of that, I've added book 2 to the 'want to read' list.
Monday, February 4, 2019
I think this book broke my brain. *LOL* I picked it up because it had been recommended to me by a very good friend. It also had a lot of good buzz about it.
It's a differently structured book. We get differing first person POVs and flashback scenes/chapters. It's also written mostly in present tense, I think... At this point, there's so much of that being written that I seldom actually take notice of it.
At any rate, I was luckily able to avoid all the spoilers about the book, only knowing that there was one helluva twist to it. And I would say that it's really, really important to do that. I think the book would be pretty much ruined if you were spoiled.
I hemmed and hawed about my rating (between 3.5 and 4) because while I thoroughly enjoyed my read and was pretty much surprised about the main twist (I had suspicions as the end got nearer and nearer), the mechanics of constructing that twist felt just a wee bit deux ex machina to me? But maybe that was my expectations?
And Netflix is making a limited series from the book, so I suggest you read it before watching. :)
Anyway... it was very good. Read it. Don't get spoiled.
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Chronicles of the One - Book Two
The last of my six Christmas books. It was a good year!
This is the second of Nora's post-apocalyptic trilogy and it carries on the story of Year One, beginning thirteen years after those events. We find out what has happened with many of our favourites from the first book and we get to meet The One - Fallon Swift - 13 year old daughter of Lana and Max, as well as catch up with Duncan and Tonia (Katie's twins and grandchildren of the man who was basically 'patient zero' in the first book) who were just babies the last time we saw them.
It's very much a book about the training of Fallon to take her place as the leader of her people. We watch as she leaves her home and family to train with Mallick (a Merlin type character who I wish we'd seen more in depth) for two years. She gains her powers and her mystical companions, the owl, the wolf and the alicorn. We follow as she returns home and spends time with her parents and younger brothers on the family farm, readying them for the Big Battle to come. We see her meet Duncan and Tonia and watch as they discover that they're meant to be this series' trio - Nora loves her trios of power. And we journey with Fallon's family as they join up with the bunch from New Hope, the folks we followed and watched come together in the first book.
Along the way, there are some looks in on the New Hope settlement and a couple of quick meetings between Fallon and some of the folk. There are a few battles and rescues. And there are more than a few moments of discovering her powers.
It's very much setting everything in place for the Big Battle to come in the third book and were it not for the engaging way Nora writes about her characters and the heart-touching moments of found family and shared histories that pepper the story, it would be a very boring book, I think. It's very much a middle book.
I enjoyed my read. As always with Nora books, I zipped merrily along, her writing style so easy to read. There were moments of humour, moments of action and danger, moments of love and deep emotion and I will admit to being engrossed. :) I am very much looking forward to the culmination of the trilogy, due out at the end of the year.
Thursday, January 24, 2019
Book of the Ancestor - Book 1
Christmas book #5, a new trilogy and a success! I had read the Broken Empire Trilogy by Mark Lawrence a couple of years ago and disliked it intensely. I found it very, very dark with no hope offered anywhere and a plethora of unlikable characters, so having Red Sister on my list was a chance I took only after seeing more than a few reviews stating it was not as dark as the others and after a few trusted authors recommended it.
The book is the story of little Nona Grey and her arrival at the Convent of Sweet Mercy at the tender age of nine and continues for the next couple of years. Yep, when the book finishes, she's barely eleven. And while normally I would avoid a nearly 500 page book about a kid, I fell into the story so easily and so quickly it would make your head spin. *LOL* Nona is fascinating. She reminds of the character of Laura in the movie Logan. In fact, I kept imagining the actress who played Laura in my head as I read about Nona. Might have a bit to do with the claws.
Nona goes through her training, makes friends and enemies and comes to a lot of realisations throughout the book, and her journey kept me turning the pages quite eagerly. Quite the contrary of the the story of Jorg in that other trilogy. Yeah, there is plenty of dark in Red Sister, but it never feels hopeless. And the characters, all of whom have flaws, believable flaws, worked like a charm. Lawrence even kills off one or two that I was very fond of, but that worked too. Couldn't hate him for it.
And the world-building! Fascinating!
So, yes, I was really glad I decided to give it a try and am anxious to get to the next book, Grey Sister. Oh, and the cover illustration is quite glorious. :)
Saturday, January 19, 2019
Signal Airship - Book One
So this was #4 of my Christmas books and while I did enjoy my read, I had been hoping for much more. All the buzz on my social media was lauding the book to the skies as the best thing ever! And so great to have a female main protagonist in a steampunk airship military fantasy book. Well... yeah... okay... but it wasn't that great, folks.
I liked it because the dialogue was witty, the characters fun and quite honestly, I'm a bit of an easy sell for a book about a tight group of soldiers/adventurers/scoundrels/whatevers fighting the odds, so to speak.
Now, while I liked the characters, I sure would have liked more about them, what brought them to the point where they are in the story, what formed them, the whys of them, all that stuff. Especially Josette, the female captain and Bernat - Bernie, the foppish spy/aristocrat/ne'er do well. I loved their banter - I'm told it's rather Pratchett-esque, but having only read one Prachett book (aside from Good Omens), I can't say with any kind of certainty if that's right or not.
There was a lot, an awful lot of battle narrative and even more description of the details of the airship. I mean... tons of details into all the nooks and crannies. I would much rather have learned more about the characters and the society and the actual world of the story than all that minute stuff about the ship.
So yeah, I don't get all the glowing blah-blah I read from people whose opinions I respect. Just because the MC is a woman? I mean, even that HUGE plot point is barely discussed or examined - far better we learn about fictitious airship mechanics. I think we should be far past celebrations just because a woman leads a military/steampunk adventure fantasy.
So the book had great bones, but the meat of it was sadly lacking for me. I'll check out the second book when it comes out, I'm sure, if only to see if there's more meat, so to speak.
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Charles Lenox Mysteries - Book 1
This is the third book from my Christmas haul and again, I enjoyed my read.
The book and the author were recommended by one of my most favourite authors, Louise Penny, the author of the Gamache series. I just spent 20 minutes trying to find the reference and failed miserably *LOL*. Anyway, that's the reason I picked it up.
So, Charles Lenox is a Victorian gentleman who likes to solve mysteries. He has an interesting group of family and friends and he's a smart fellow. I liked him. I can see why Louise likes him as well - there's a faint Gamachian feel to the book and the characters which is fine by me.
I like Finch's writing style, it's easy to read and while there are instances of what could be termed as info-dumping, they're handled well and not annoying. He also does some easy back and forth banter between Lenox and his old friends that I found quite fun.
The mystery worked for me, as did the wrapping up of the various plot-lines. There was a question or two that didn't get answered, or if it did, I missed it, but that didn't impede my enjoyment of the book.
If I had one real problem with the book, it was that there was an awful lot of snowing going on in London for late December/early January. I don't think it snows that much over there at all.
Anyway, I enjoyed the book enough to add Book 2 to my wishlist. :)
Tuesday, January 8, 2019
The Seven Kennings - Book One
The second read of my Christmas presents, this was a brick, but a fascinating one indeed. I'd read Kevin Hearne before, the first of his Iron Druid books, and quite enjoyed it. (I intend to continue on in that series when the budget allows it.) This book is the first of an entirely new trilogy, set in a new world. And I was fascinated.
The world-building is terrific. Magic or kenning that actually takes a toll on the human body even to the point of death. The majority of the peoples are shades of brown with the pale-skinned folk being the minority of civilizations and I think there's only one king among the bunch. Hearne does a masterful job of getting across the atmosphere and the feel of the different 'countries' and while they mostly have a familiar feel, I never felt they were copies of other creations.
It's the characters that really sold the book for me. The story is told almost in serial form by a bard by the name of Fintan, who takes on the appearances of different folk within the story as he tells the story, a little bit every day. Usually two characters, maybe three. In between these story-tellings, we get the POV of Dervan, the scribe who has been tasked with recording all the stories Fintan tells, as well as keeping an eye on him for his friend, the leader of the Brynt people.
We meet two handfuls of characters who tell the story of the initial invasions of the giants and through their telling of the story we're given the base of the bigger story to come, I'm guessing. Lots and lots of set-up happening, but because the characters were so engaging - even the baddies - it was a pleasure to read.
So, I really, really enjoyed it and am looking forward to Book 2 - especially the further adventures of Abhi and his bloodcat, Murr and his stalk hawk, Eep.