Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Wolf at the Door by Charlie Adhara

3 Stars

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

From Unseen Fire by Cass Morris

3.5 Stars

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

Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik

3 Stars

Consortium Rebellion - Book One

Disappointing. 

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!! 

Nope.

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

Racing to the Finish: My Story by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

4 Stars

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

Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff

2.5 Stars

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 clich├ęd. 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.