Evaine's Books, Books and More Books

It's about books.  I read all kinds of different genres. And I curse.  

 

5 Stars = AWESOME!  Best of the Best

4 Stars = Really good.  Easily recommendable.

3 Stars = Good

2 Stars = Not so hot.  Readable but just barely

1 Star = Bad.  

New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson - My Thoughts

New York 2140 - Kim Stanley Robinson

DNF

 

I made it almost halfway before throwing in the towel.

There is nothing happening in the first part of this book.  Nothing interesting at least - it's just a bunch of daily vignettes of what are actually very interesting characters when they're not being mired in unnecessary narrative over and over and over again. 

This man obviously does not like to show.  He's a teller.  A big boring teller.  Treatises on finance and the 'stock market' in 2140, essays on real estate values after the flood, nonsense after nonsense. 

I was very disappointed, but when I realised that I'd been working on this book for almost 2 weeks and wasn't enjoying much of it at all, well... it was time to give up.  I'd have liked to know more about the story of the girl with the airship who was flying polar bears from up north to Antarctica to preserve them. Sadly, I've not the patience to wade through the rest of the stuff. 

Witchmark by C.L. Polk - My Thoughts

Witchmark - Noel Polk

I'm going to be frank.  A big reason I bought this book is because the online advertisements for it that featured the cover were so darned clever! If you haven't seen them, the two figures reflected from the bicycle wheels actually walked!  I tried to find a link, but was unsuccessful.  Anyway, that's one of the reasons.  Other reasons include recs by authors I like and an intriguing book blurb.

So, as Deborah Ross stated in her review on Goodreads, "The setting, very much like England in the throes of national PTSD following the First World War, a magic-yielding aristocracy, a conflicted hero and so forth, are familiar enough to be recognisable, yet integrated into a freshly imagine world."  I think that explains it perfectly.  :)

Just about everything works. There were a few places that I thought could use a bit more editing to make things a bit clearer, and maybe a tweak or two for the pacing, but they're mostly quibbles. The character of Miles is terrific and sympathetic and you can' help but like him. The secondary players - it's written in the 1st person POV so everyone else is a secondary for me - are interesting and possess more than one dimension.  The mysteries of the plot are intriguing and kept me guessing in many cases, and when they didn't, when I guessed what was happening, I kind of felt that maybe I was supposed to.

My one caveat is the whole romance angle.  The book is marketed as a fantasy romance, but it seems to me to be more a fantasy novel, set in an AU of WWI England with an important romantic subplot.  The romance is really far from the main element of this story.  So much so that the light-heartedness that permeated the last pages seemed almost out of place for the rest of the novel.  So beware, if you're looking for a romance-heavy story, I don't think this is it. 

That being said, I cannot WAIT for the next book to come out.  It's coming out in February of 2020 according to both Kobo and Amazon.  On Goodreads, the author has responded to the question by saying summer of 2019.  God only knows.  And not only that, the images for Book Two have as its title Greystar while the text shows it as Stormsong.  Again, your guess is a good as mine.  All I know is that I will be there to read it. :) 

Clockwork Boys by T. Kingfisher - My Thoughts

Clockwork Boys - T. Kingfisher

This was a good, fun, intriguing read, despite how long it took me to finish it.  I was suffering from a bad cold and could not concentrate for long periods of time.

That being said, I totally enjoyed the 3 main characters and their 'misfittedness'.  There is a lot of snark back and forth which made me chuckle.  And while one of the main characters is indeed a paladin, he's not insufferably upright.  Well, not really.  Just enough to make it fun.

The one glaring downfall to this book - for me - is that it ends rather abruptly.  Not exactly a cliffhanger, but honestly?... not many questions have been answered.  The book felt more like Part One of a two or three part novel.  Even in the author's notes, reference was made to the fact that it was originally 130K + in draft form so it was split into two.  Honestly?  I'd have preferred the whole thing.  So I docked a half a point for that, because things like that matter to me and my reading enjoyment.

Anyway, it's a fun, sometimes dark, swords and sorcery adventure with great dialogue and memorable characters and I WILL be picking up the second book.  :)

Point of Sighs by Melissa Scott - My Thoughts

Point of Sighs - Melissa Scott

I love this series and I love the two main characters, Philip Eslingen and Nico Rathe.  I love that in this book they're getting a little more settled into their relationship.  And they've not forgotten Sunflower, the dog!  I love that Nico is a born pointsman (policeman), smart, logical, observant and so upright sometimes that it hurts!  And I love that Philip, one of the leaders of the new City Guard (a type of militia unit), is more of a running on instinct fellow, more liable to jump to the right conclusions and just sly enough to get by.  And I love that the author doesn't forget to remind us of his soldiering/cavalry roots.

The mystery this time around focusses on the water.  The weather, the river, the tunnels beneath the city. Philip is quite unlucky with water, his stars being very bad for it.  There are abductions, murders, thugs and bribery.  There are river monsters and a river spirit who is absolutely evil.  And there are some pointespeople at the Point of Sighs office that we start to get to know, mostly don't trust at the beginning but then see Rathe be Rathe and grudgingly they begin to be won over.

One thing that bugged me however, and I don't remember it being the case in previous books.  The society of Nico and Philip's world is matriarchal. No problem, I'm good with that.  But in many instances, the narrative would read something like...  oh... he was looking for a place where a woman might hide - it was every woman for herself - which is all well and good, but when the story is being told from a man's POV, it's kind of jarring for me.  Because I find myself wondering if why they're looking for a woman, if they're ONLY looking for a woman, did I miss why it's a woman.  It felt almost obnoxious to my reading ear, but maybe that's because I'm 61 years old with 55 years of reading under my belt and habits are hard to break. 

But I loved this visit to Astreiant and I truly hope there are more, 'cause I'll be there to buy them!

Gideon's Sword by Preston & Child - My Thoughts

Gideon's Sword - Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child

When I finish a book that totally blows me away, I have to either change genres completely or go to reread a very old fave.  This time, I chose to change genres and try a new - to me - series.  And it did the trick!

This was an enjoyable read.  Sort of like the Ilona Andrews book, it  felt like some good junk food to my reading brain.  The story clipped along at a decent pace - the chapters weren't very long which helps a lot, keeps things from dragging.  The plot was intricate enough to keep me interested yet not so complicated that I was stopping to try and figure out things. 

The main character, Gideon Crew, is an interesting fellow.  Clever and smart, he reads people really well.  He has a great sense of humour.  And he has a sense of purpose and is just dark and cynical enough to appeal to me.  I liked following along with him on his 'mission'. 

There is a small cast of supporting characters that have the potential to increase their interestingness over the coming books. Apparently one of the guys comes one of the writing duo's other series, but I'm not ready to go hunt that down yet.  :)

So, I've found another series to follow when I need some tasty junk-food reading and that's a good thing!

There Before the Chaos by K. B. Wagers - My Thoughts

There Before the Chaos - K.B. Wagers

I am in book hangover.  :)  That's not a bad thing - means I ADORED this book!  In the interests of full discolsure, I won the ARC of the book via a contest on K.B.'s patreon, but that in no way changes how I feel about it.

This is one of those times where I wish I was a good review writer.  Sadly I am not. 

When I was 3 chapters in, I already felt like I had met up with a gang of friends I had not seen in a long while and whom I had missed terribly. 

Now, there is not be quite as much harum-scarum action as there was in the first trilogy of Hail Bristol's tale, the last five chapters notwithstanding.  This book gives us more of a sharing of Hail herself, who she was, who she wishes to be, and who she really is.  We also learn more of certain important characters, through Hail's eyes of course, and maybe grow to love them as she does.  Well, I did.  :)  I think it's a more personal feeling book, if that makes any sense.

I need more Dailun and Hail in my life too!

There's something going on and despite many hints and answers and discoveries in this book, I still don't know what's going on.  *LOL*  But that's okay.  It's a trilogy and I know I'll get answers before the end, I just have to be patient.  And thanks to the way that K.B. Wagers weaves the story, it's never dissatisfying. 

If I have complaints, they're... negligible in the whole scheme of things.  One is that every damned character winks.  Some more often than others, but there are far too many winks going on.  It's K.B.'s tic I think.  I'm sure I've mentioned it before.  The other is the THRICE DAMNED CLIFFHANGER!!!  Thank GOD the format I read - the ARC of the trade paperback - had an excerpt of the next book because I was starting to hyperventilate!  And I must add, the excerpt was FASCINATING!

I cannot believe how long I have to wait for the next book!  I love these books and I love Hail Bristol and her crew of found family, so I will wait.  And try to be patient.  It's not something I'm very good at. 

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Magic Bites  -  Ilona Andrews

When I was only a few chapters in I felt that the author (or authors because I understand it's a husband and wife team) was trying to be almost paranormal noir?  Is that even a thing? 

Anyway, upon finishing, I still had that feeling and that was okay, Didn't mind it at all.  I liken this book to a bowl of chips with some dip.  Really good snack food.  Nothing overly deep but a lot of fun.

I'm not a paranormal fan usually, but with this first installment of Kate Daniels' adventures I found myself quite enjoying the characters. That's a biggie for me.  That's 3/4s of the author's battle right there.  Kate is a bad-ass.  You are never left in doubt of that. I found it very entertaining and not annoying at all.  It can be, but not in this case, or not yet.  And we don't really know alot about Kate even by the end of this first book.  I feel like I've just scratched the surface and it's a very um... misleading surface. 

One problem I had with the book is that there are no other female characters of import.  A couple of bad guy girlfriends, a couple of receptionist types, one pack leader but I don't even thing she has a line of dialogue.  I hope there are more in the books to come because if not, I'm going to end up losing interest.  The world created can be populated with important women just as it is with important men.

Speaking of the men.  We meet Curran, the Beast Leader, shapechanger extraordinaire and all things sexy.  So alpha that he's the alpha of alphas.  You know he's destined for Kate.  And that's okay, that's how the trope rolls.  Now for a while, I thought we were being set up for another romance angle with a human doctor - made me think of the Stephanie Plum books and I was worried.  But nope, appears not, so I let out a sigh of relief.  I also don't think Kate is going to go the way of Anita Blake, which is a blessing. 

All in all, I think my fave characters were actually Mahon - the Executioner of The Pack and Eddie, young wolf shifter.  I hope we're going to see more of the latter, that's not a given as I read things.  He could fade into the background, but Mahon will be around for a while unless he gets killed off in a coming book which is highly possible.

Anyway, I did enjoy my read and will continue the adventure with Kate and the guys.  I'm told by a few people that the series only gets better as it goes along. 

The Gabriel Hounds by Mary Stewart - My Thoughts

The Gabriel Hounds - Mary Stewart

I felt the need to dive back into an old faithful this week, and Mary Stewart was the choice and The Gabriel Hounds the book. 

I still love the Mary Stewart mysteries.  Yes, they're somewhat dated, but I'm transported back to the girl in her early teens who gobbled them up like potato chips. 

The heroine of this tale, is Christy Mansell and she's really not the nicest of people.  *LOL*  She's 22 years old and oh so world-weary. She's very typically upperclass British just this side of snobby - oh hell, she's actually a moneyed snob, okay?  But she owns it, saving her from being detestable. 

The hero is her cousin Charles Mansell - they are the children of identical twin brothers, you see.  He's a few years older and knows just about everything there is to know.  Again, he's that long, lanky, languid British young man that was so popular in the late 60s. 

I particularly loved this book because it took place in Lebanon with saluki dogs, ancient palaces, marketplaces and small Arabic villages with small Arabic children.  It was in my Violet Winspear days too, when I first read it, so that primed the pump so to speak.

Anyway, it was a pleasure to dive back into a much-loved book by a much-loved author. (And I must mention my love for the new ebook covers.  They're scrumptious!)

Year One by Nora Roberts - My Thoughts

Year One - Nora Roberts

I absolutely loved it!  I'd been dying to read it and was thrilled when it finally went on sale last week - for a day.  I cannot justify $15.99 for a book.  Not really.  So I waited. 

This book had everything I love about post-apocalyptic type stories.  It had characters that make you want to root for them because while they're good, they're also flawed in some way.  There's magical stuff - fairies and elves and magiks returning to this world.  The main characters are of assorted ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, (Nora still needs to work on her sexualities though).  There's evil that really gives you a chill.  There are friendships, there is some romance, but this is a book about The Doom and what immediately follows.  How life goes on even in the harshest and scariest of times.  And there are dogs.  Damn, I love Nora's dogs.  :)

It was a quick read for me.  I kept picking it up whenever I had a few spare minutes, anxious to see what was going on with my peeps.  And it would make a terrific TV series, I think.  A cross between Colony and The Walking Dead and Into the Badlands. 

So, while there is a satisfying ending to this book, it's not the end of the story by a long shot and you expect that.  This is a series of I don't know how many books - Nora's usual trilogy?  I don't know.  I just know I'm anxious to read the next one and if we don't revisit some of what have become my favourite characters, I'm gonna be pissed!  *LOL* 

Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra

Markswoman - Rati Mehrotra

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.  )

Chasing Embers by James Bennett - My Thoughts

Chasing Embers (A Ben Garston Novel) - James Henry Bennet

DNF

 

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. :)

A Queen from the North by Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese - My Thoughts

A Queen from the North - Racheline Maltese, Erin McRae
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.
 
 

Single Malt by Layla Reyne - My Thoughts

Single Malt - Layla Reyne

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 Aiden 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 Aiden'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!

Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone - My Thoughts

Jane Doe: A Novel - Victoria Helen Stone

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. 

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan - My Thoughts

Crazy Rich Asians - Kevin Kwan

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).

Dance With Me by Alexis Daria - My Thoughts

Dance with Me: A Dance Off Novel - Alexis Daria

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. 

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