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.  

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. 

The Merchant of Dreams by Anne Lyle - My Thoughts

The Merchant of Dreams - Anne Lyle

So the adventures continue for Mal, the swordsman/bodyguard/spy, and his valet Coby.  This time they're joined by Ned and Gabriel from the now defunct theatre company of book one.  Maybe it was that I read the first book back in February of 2015 and didn't remember as much as I should have, but I found this second volume of the series to be a bit disjointed and at times to be going around in circles, plot-wise. 

I wanted to know more about the skraylings and felt rather short-changed in that respect. Then there was the whole thing with the spying that Mal was supposed to be doing for Walsingham that quickly became a more personal thing as he explored the part of him that holds part of the skrayling Erishen and his relationship with the Venetian guiser he hooks up with.

I'm not so invested in the 'love story' between Mal and Coby and the whole deal with her growing into her adult feminine self and losing much of her disguise as a boy.  At least it was because she wanted to and not because Mal wanted her to. 

I don't know... I liked my read but it left me feeling vaguely dissatisfied. It won't stop me from reading the next one though.  This time, I'll try not to wait over 3 years to do it!  *LOL*

The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan - My Thoughts

The Autumn Republic - Brian  McClellan

And so the saga of General Tamas et al draws to a close and our tale gets a highly satisfactory ending.  I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this trilogy and what was my introduction to what they call the Flintlock Fantasy sub-genre. 

There were so many plotlines that had to come together and that we needed to get answers to, and I think that the author managed to do all of that successfully - at least to my satisfaction. :)  Yeah, there were a few small questions that I would have preferred have better answers or maybe more involved answers, but they were few and far between.

I loved the characters and had so many favourites.  But I think Taniel Two-Shot was my #1 favourite with Bo, his best friend, being a close second and I was quite happy with the way their stories panned out. 

I'm not really a fan of short stories or even novellas, but I will say this - I will be looking up the many stories and novellas that the author has written about these characters.  And I will be reading his newest trilogy, set in the same world. 

Anyway, if you like Djano Wexler or Brian Stavely or even Bernard Cornwell's "Sharpe" books, you'll enjoy this author. 

Oh... and the covers of all three books are TERRIFIC! 

A Conspiracy of Whispers by Ada Harper - My Thoughts

A Conspiracy of Whispers - Karen Harper

This was a fun, action-packed, sexy, romantic, delightful read!  Recommended on Twitter by Bree, one half of the Kit Rocha writing team, it seemed this was the book EVERYONE in Romancelandia was reading last week.  :)  I had a bit of a worry at the back of my mind that this could be another case of me hating a romance that everyone else was head over heals for (ie: The Bollywood Bride), but quite happily, I loved it!

So it's a sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, hints of fantasy book, peopled with a truly diverse cast of characters.  Two nations, very different in most ways, one a very technical, almost robotic type of nation and the other more future-medievalish.  The heroine is a trained assassin from the former and MAN, is she one helluva badass!  The hero is the brother to the leader of the latter, the general of her armies and he's pretty damned badass himself! 

Not only is there all the action part of the story - plots, wars, fights, murders, espionage, escapes etc...; there is also the theme of consent and equality and possession and justice for everyone that runs through it.  And you're not getting lectured, thank God, 'cause I'd have DNFed it right away had I felt I was being lectured, it's just the tale of these civilisations in the beginning of a period of upheaval being told. 

It was a great story, peopled with endearing characters, a tale of love and soulmates (which I don't normally go for, yet, it worked for me here) as well as friendships and found families and I totally enjoyed it!  Looking forward to the next book!

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse - My Thoughts

Trail of Lightning - Rebecca Roanhorse

Much to my surprise, I really enjoyed this book. Way more than I expected to, if I'm honest. :) Why? Because I'm not such a huge fan of contemporary, urban-ish (I say ish because it doesn't really take place in an urban environment) fantasy. But this book kept popping up in some of the oddest places on my Twitter timeline and recommended by a few folks whose taste I trust and since the price was right (I did a price-matching thing on Kobo - it was $2+ cheaper at Amazon) I went ahead and picked it up.

So what we've got is a post-apocalyptic (after the Big Water) world where a reformed Navajo nation, Dinétah, is the setting for a Mad Max Fury Road - esque tale. The Diné mythology is thick and fascinating. And is a nice change from all the fairy and elf urban fantasy. I admit to only knowing wee bits and pieces of this mythology and I think some of I know is coloured by what I know about our Canadian First Nations, so I found myself doing a few google searches to clarify things for me. And that's good! I was learning stuff! Never too old for that.

The main character is a young woman, Maggie Hoskie, with a well-earned but not well-respected reputation as a Monsterslayer. Life's not been easy for her when we first meet her and it's about to get even tougher as she deals with monsters, gods, clan magics, secrets and betrayals. I liked her. And I liked the characters around her too. 

I liked the pacing of book too. It read well, kept me turning pages (virtually, 'cause I was using my Kobo) and I did the just one more chapter thing more than once. 

So all in all, this was, for me, a really fabulous read! I highly recommend it.

Damage Control by Jae - My Thoughts

Damage Control - Jae

What a disappointment.  This is an f/f romance novel. It is 350 pages long.  I was 70% in before one of the main characters kissed the other main character.... on the cheek.  *eyeroll*   There's slow burn and there's almost stopped,

Y'know, the majority of the f/f romances I've read spend an awful lot of time with their characters indulging in the same internal monologues over and over and over again.  Is this a feature of the f/f romance?  If so.. me no likey.  None of them seem truly happy at all. 

Now, Jae can write, but if I'm honest, we don't need to have every movement of the characters detailed.  Step by step construction of sandwiches for instance.  There was just a lot of faffing about while one character discovers and finally admits that she's a lesbian and the other character discovers that maybe the job isn't everything.  Sort of.  There was no real plot to my mind.  Just a series of incidents along the way to the couple getting together, coming out and maybe an HAE?  I'm sure the author intended an HAE but I wasn't convinced. 

I will say that the one sex scene was extremely well written, steamy and hot.  It just seemed to take FOREVER for the couple to get to any place intimate!  Even when they were supposed to be baring their inner thoughts and souls earlier in the book, it didn't feel that way. 

And one of the weirdest things.  One of the MCs, Lauren, the PR person, had this thing where she would cough a little when she was tired.  I'm sure it was meant to be a cute little quirk, but all I could think of every time it was mentioned all I could think of was Love Story and kept expecting her to be diagnosed with cancer. It really was unsettling.

Anyway, despite seeming to have all kinds of tropes I like, this was a big disappointment for me. It felt more like Grace's sexual discovery and coming out story rather than Grace and Lauren's love story. 

Going Dark by Linda Nagata - My Thoughts

Going Dark - Linda Nagata

I have no idea why I enjoyed this near-future military trilogy as much as I did, but there you go, I did.

The hero of the trilogy, James Shelley, has gone through hell... multiple times.  He's been manipulated, pushed from pillar to post, lied to, betrayed... jeez... all kinds of horrible things.  And I keep coming back for more.  *LOL*

There's action galore in this third book.  Some new team members to get to know.  More mysteries about The Red.  It's pretty much non-stop from the get go.  Nagata writes so well that I can pretty much see the action happening in my mind's eye.  Part of the might be the 1st person POV coupled with the present tense which works. 

I was pretty much satisfied with the way the trilogy wrapped up, but I'd be lying if I said it was a perfect ending.  I was left with a bit of a nebulous feeling of bad things still out there underneath the surface despite everything.  And maybe that's a trope of this type of book.  The main point is, that it didn't really detract from my overall pleasure with the trilogy.

I have another Nagata book in my Kobo and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente - My Thoughts

Space Opera - Catherynne M. Valente

I tried, folks, I really tried hard!  I bought this book because everyone recommended it.  All the book blogs, all the SFF authors and even some of the authors in other genres that I follow.  I loved the idea of it.  And then it got picked up for a movie treatment.  It had to be good, right?

Well.. not for me. 

I made it 1/3rd of the way through.  Nothing happened.  Nothing except a lot of clever writing that in it's overabundance drowned out any delight in the humour I could find.  I'm not made for this type of writing, for this type of book.  It's Douglas Adams-like for sure and certain and I assume that fans of his work - and they are legion - will enjoy this book immensely.  I tried so hard to enjoy it, but I couldn't.

So, for me DNF, but that's my fault and not the book's.  :)

Sin and Tonic by Rhys Ford - My Thoughts

Sin and Tonic (Sinners #6) - Rhys Ford

Rhys Ford's books never disappoint me.  And this, the last of the Sinners series is no different. 

Miki St John and Kane Morgan finally get their totally happy ending.  Yeah, yeah, they got a happy ending in the first book of the series when they found each other and found their love, but there was so much of their story that still needed to be told.  Especially in Miki's case!

So here we wrap it all up.  We come full circle and everyone is there for the event.  Miki's band members, Kane's siblings and parents and for me, having my favourite of all the Sinners characters, Quinn, play such an important, albeit small, part in the story was the best.  And OMG, Brigid and Donal - they are the best parents ever!!

I have only one problem and that's why I didn't give the book another half star.  Rhys is desperately fond of her characters sneering and smirking.  I hate sneering and smirking heroic characters!  It doesn't make them tough and edgy and cutely cynical.  Sneering and smirking are for villains and icky people, not the ones I love, so...  not 4.5 stars.

But other than that one small (in the whole scheme of things) thing, the book was terrific.  The closing circle of the series was perfect.  And Miki and Kane got their for real HEA.  I'm a happy reader.

The Crimson Campaign by Brian McClellan - My Thoughts

The Crimson Campaign - Brian  McClellan

I'm late in writing up my thoughts again.  Bad habit, that.  I must get better.  Especially when the read was as good as this one was.

I totally enjoyed my first foray into what they call Flintlock Fantasy with the first book in this trilogy, Promise of Blood, so finally, tired of waiting for this second book to go on sale, I actually paid full price for it.  $12.99 for an e-book published 4 years ago.  That is SO not me.  But I needed to read it!

All my favourites were back - well, except the ones the author killed off in the first book!  *LOL*  Adamat, the police inspector; Tamas, the veteran field marshal; Taniel Two-shot, Tamas' son and powerful powder mage; Ka-poel, Vlora, Bor, Olem... and more. 

I love the fullness of the characters, not a one is totally light or totally dark.  They're nuanced and believable.  The setting is richly drawn, the atmosphere alive and the world-building nothing short of remarkable, IMO.  The plots are intricate, be they the big over-arching ones or the small, private ones.

Brian McClellan is a terrific story-teller and I love the world he's created and the people he's populated it with.  The third novel of the trilogy is calling for me as are all the novellas and short stories. 

Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly - My Thoughts

Amberlough - Lara Elena Donnelly

The book I read was not the book I thought I was going to read.  I'm not sure what I expected, but what I got ended up being interesting and thought-provoking, especially in this day and age.

Amberlough is a fictional province in a fictional country called Gedda. A double-agent sacrifices all his ideals in order to save his smuggler lover before a government coup takes over their decadent city in this glam spy thriller, or as I've also heard it called - a cabaret thriller. (Think 1930s Germany)

I had problems with what felt to me like slowness in the first 2/3rds of the book, if I'm being honest.  It felt draggy and what's the point, even though the writing was quite good and I will admit, it built up the atmosphere quite well.  It set up a lot of backstory and situational things about the governments and past spy doings that are needed to tell the tale.  But I think I was just not in the right frame of mind to enjoy it. Because the writing is very special and engaging and perfect for the 'period' of the book.

I've seen the book spoken about in romance circles, but it's not really a romance.  Yes, there is a romance at the heart of it, a love story for the ages type of thing, but it's not any kind of HEA that I know about.

The book ends on a cliffhanger and while that usually pisses me off, I was okay with it this time.  It fit the book.  And the book is clever, it's dark, it's scary (especially when held up against the current shit going on in the world), it's exciting.  But there are moments of humour and moments of true sweetness and gentleness, but baby, they're few and far between.  And maybe all the more precious for it.

Anyway, I'll be looking for the second book when it comes out.  Wondering what's happened to the three main characters and if we'll be seeing any of them again.  Two of them I think for sure we will, the third?  I'm not certain at all.

Anyway, Amberlough ended up being a different and intriguing read.  Check it out.

First Watch by Dale Lucas - My Thoughts

The Fifth Ward: First Watch - Dale Lucas

I read a blurb about this book where it said that it reminded the reader of an episode of the TV show Hill Street Blues. And I think I must agree. 

The story is told through the eyes of Rem, a young man of noble blood new to the city of Yenara.  He's left home - I believe he's a younger son - and I can't quite remember if we're ever told exactly why.  We are told that his father was quite demanding and, to Rem, belittling towards him. Rem gets thrown into the city dungeons and then, stroke of luck, gets offered the chance to join the Watch Wardens.  Which he takes, because lets face it, it's better than rotting in the dungeons, right? 

Rem is teamed up with a cantankerous dwarf by the name of Torvil to begin with, Torvil's regular partner having not shown up for his shift. And the adventure begins.

There's no new ground broken with this book.  It's an adventure, a buddy tale, about two mis-matched guys in the city police force who have a mystery to solve.  A mystery that includes murder, theft, drugs, kidnappings and elves, orcs, dwarves, mages and humans all existing together in this melting pot of a city.  It's a fun read and while maybe predictable in spots, the characters are definitely charming and the writing is quick-paced and the narrative flows quite well. 

I liked it and I'll definitely be looking for the next book when it comes out this summer.

Vision in White by Nora Roberts - My Thoughts

Vision in White  - Nora Roberts

I almost forgot to write this up! 

So, a Nora romance does what a Nora romance does for me.  Makes me smile, makes me chuckle, makes me tear up and makes me sigh a little, a happy sigh, at the end.  La Nora is a comfort read for me.

And Vision in White doesn't lack in that category. 

It's not the best Nora I've read, nor is it the worst.  4 gals run a wedding business.  One stop shopping for the big day.  Now this is really all lost on me because I think the money spent on these spectacles would be far better spent on a vacation or a house or a car or... well, you get my drift.

Anyway, book one is about the photographer, Mackensie and Carter, the high school English teacher.  I have to say, for the first few chapters I wondered if we were going to find out that Carter was on the spectrum, but no, he was just being an iffily written safe, stable and a little befuddled guy.  I liked him a lot in the second half of the book.

Anyway, sweet romance, fun dialogue and far too much details about wedding planning.  *LOL*  I have the other three in the Kobo for the next time I need a comfort read. 

Wisp of a Thing by Alex Bledsoe - My Thoughts

Wisp of a Thing: A Novel of the Tufa - Alex Bledsoe

I really enjoy Alex Bledsoe's voice.  His writing is easy yet rich and full.  Perfect for the subject matter of North America's fairy population. It's not an urban fantasy, it's more a contemporary, rural fantasy, I think.  Set in the Appalachian mountains and peopled with a whole bunch of unique characters, it's the place where Rob Quillan, a musician haunted by tragedy, comes in search of a song to heal him. 

Now there may be other books out there about the other-worldly creatures in this part of North America, but I can't really recall any.  As it is Bledsoe walks the perfect line of keeping the story sounding ... um, not of the city .... yet not sounding like the Clampetts.  His characters are characters, not caricatures and some you love, some you hate and some you just... know.  It's a homey book, but with an edge.  :)

And the fairy-folk themselves.  They're not the grand lord and lady types, not the ethereal little nymphs, not the austere folk we see portrayed so often.  They're good, they're bad, they're dark, they're light and they're not quite like anything I've read about before.

I think if you're a fan of Charles de Lint, you'll enjoy this series. 

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