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.  

Fish and Ghosts by Rhys Ford - My Thoughts

Fish and Ghosts - Rhys Ford

I can always count on Rhys to give me a good read and this time was no different.  This is one of her earlier books and it shows some in the writing.  To me it's fascinating to watch an author's progress at improving their craft, but I have to admit that I'm thrilled that Rhys has gotten over the need to use epithets in her writing.  If I had read the words "the blond" one more time, I think I might have screamed!  *LOL*  We know... we KNOW that Travis has blond hair, for heaven's sake!  And you know, most readers are smart enough to discern the differences between the two 'he's' in the story.  So, being as that's a pet peeve of mine, it did kind of impede me enjoyment of the story.

For my money, I could have done with sexytimes scenes being of shorter length (I mean.. almost 2 chapters long at one point?  And long chapters?) and a bit more meat to the paranormal aspects of the story.  I found that I wanted to know more about the personalities and characters of Travis and Wolf other than that they set each other on fire.  :) 

It's an interesting world that Rhys has set up and I'm looking forward to reading more about it in the second book which I also have in the TBR.  I hope we get to learn more about Wolf's family and childhood and then more about Tristan's childhood as well.  Oh! And I really like the new covers on these books.  Far better than the generic men people that tend to populate a lot of the m/m book covers. 

Bookburners by Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty, Brian Francis Slattery - My Thoughts

Bookburners - Mur Lafferty, Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Brian Francis Slattery

This is a serial book - that is, 16 episodes strung together like a season of TV shows, each episode written by one of the 4 authors.  One of the reasons I picked it up was because I had read one of Max Gladstone's Craft Sequence novels and enjoyed it. 

Anyway, it appears that I'm not really a huge fan of the serial experience.  It's not my preferred style of book.  I just find it tends to go on for too long, maybe.  Or maybe it's the pacing that I'm not fond of.  I'm not bright enough to figure out the reasons.  *LOL*

But also, I'm not a fan of urban horror fantasy.  I mean, I like the premise.  I like the characters for the most part but it's the horror part that's not my favourite.  I'll read them and if the the characters are captivating and the plot intriguing, I can usually deal with the actual horror parts - like the intense descriptions of monsters and dungeons and lairs and the like. 

So, after that caveat, Bookburners was a good read for the most part.  The 4 different author styles weren't jarring, as a matter of fact they were all rather similar and I'm not familiar enough with them to know if it was worked towards in this project or just something that they all have in common.  The main character, Sal, I couldn't quite enjoy until about 2/3rds of the way through the book.  I just didn't like her very much.  I was fascinated by the other members of her team though. 

Will I read the next seasons of Bookburners?  Maybe.  If they come up on sale at some point.  I enjoyed this one enough to be curious about where they go next with the story. 

Spectred Isle by KJ Charles - My Thoughts

Spectred Isle - KJ Charles

This book hits so many of my sweet spots.  KJ Charles - one of my favourite authors, the time period of the early 1920's, the setting of England and all its history, legends and folklore, magic tied to the land - practically perfect!

I love how KJ writes.  There's one scene, about 1/3 of the way through the book, where it gets really spooky and otherworldly and it was so amazing - it was in the humid mid-eighties temperture-wise and I swear, I was shivering as I read it! 

The two main characters of Saul and Randolph are lovely.  Okay, so Randolph can be a bit of a trial at times, but I love his British upper-class snark and his crankiness and being difficult just endears him to me because he really does have a mushy centre when he allows it to be seen.  And Saul, the everyman who has seen such horrors and been through such an awful time through no real fault of his own, the fact that he's still a functioning human being is amazing, and when he finds something to grab on to (Randolph) well, he is so stalwart and brave and human.  I loved him. 

This is the first book of a trilogy and as KJ likes to do with her trilogies, there is an over-arcing plot for all three books, the beginning of which we read about here.  And old evil, the historical figure of Geoffrey de Mandeville (Man-Devil, see?), the aftermath of the War Beneath (what we didn't see in WW1) versus the group of Green Men (there are women too) who are there to protect England - that's the big picture against which the love story of Saul and Randolph plays out.  For my taste, there was a really good balance between the love story and sexytimes and the paranormal mystical stuff. 

So yes, Spectred Isle is one of the best books I've read this year, proving once again, that KJ Charles never lets me down. 

Oh, and I have to say a word about the cover of the book, created by Lexiconic Design.  IT'S GORGEOUS! 

Turning Angel by Greg Iles - My Thoughts

Turning Angel (Penn Cage #2) - Greg Iles

As this is a DNF, I rated it 1/2 a star.

I tried.  I made it 70% of the way through this book before calling it a day.  I really wanted to like it.  I wasn't counting on another joyful find like the Armand Gamache books, but I was hoping to at least like the guy.  Sadly, it didn't happen.

I found this book to be filled with what I have come to understand as white man privilege, I guess.  All I know is that I found the tone of the book to be racist, both overtly and subtext as well as misogynistic.  For the latter, there is just too much what I might call Marty-Sueism having to do with the man in his 40s being beguiled, seduced, attracted to the sensual, not as innocent as she looks, 17 year old school girl.  Poor, helpless men.  *eyeroll*

And the portrayal of black people in this book?  SO very stereotypical in every way.  The only thing we're missing is the wise, loyal black housekeeper who basically brought up the children.  But then I checked some info on the first book in the series and it looks like she was murdered then.  These are attitudes I would expect to find in a book about the 1950s south and while things maybe haven't changed a lot down there since then - I don't expect the upright hero of the book to have those attitudes.

I just did not like the way this book was making me feel.  I found myself making that ... "Huh?  What?" face on more than one occasion.  It felt ugly.

I hate DNFing a book, it feels like a failure, but I have to remember, it's the book's failure, not mine.  I have book 3 in my e-TBR pile, but I don't know if I'll ever get to it. 

I am disappointed. 

The Sumage Solution by G.L. Carriger - My Thoughts

The Sumage Solution - Gail Carriger

Make no mistake about this book, it's a romance, a sexy, sex-filled romance pure and simple.  Yeah, there are a lot of paranormal/shifter elements, but it's basically the story of a werewolf and a mage who fall for each other and can't keep their hands (and all other body parts) off each other. 

This is Gail Carriger, author of The Parasol Protectorate among other things, writing as G.L. Carriger, and it wasn't quite what I was expecting.  I was expecting more paranormal/shifter story and less hot and sexytimes in the sheets. 

I liked the paranormal/shifter premise of the story and I loved the pack and it's history and I would have loved more of this and a little less of the sexytimes.  It was sex all the time.  All. The. Time.  Okay, maybe not all, but a really good portion.  There was a plot in that both MCs had to get their shit together and figure out how to work together as they are 'fated' to be.  I will admit to being a little disappointed by that. 

There were also times that I found the constant sexual bantering to be a bit much.  A  bit too frat-boy.  Carriger's style is easy to read, but be warned there are a lot of italics.  Lot's of inner snide comments.  *LOL* 

In the end, I enjoyed my read even though I was a bit disappointed when it didn't match up with my expectations.  I'll continue with the series, but it won't be an auto-buy for me. 

The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky - My Thoughts

The Immortals - Jordanna Max Brodsky

A paranormal mystery/thriller with a dollop of romance, The Immortals was a fun read and a good introduction to the series, I think.  Since I was a little girl, elementary school little, I've been fascinated with Greek mythology, so this author and her books were a cool find for me. 

So...

We follow the heroine, Selene DaSilva who is, in fact, Artemis, goddess of the hunt, forests, hills, the moon, archery and a ton of other things.  It's modern day and the gods of Greek mythology have gone through The Diaspora and are now living as part of human society.  Artemis, in her latest guise as Selene, with her faithful hound Hippolyta at her side, is a protector of women, sort of a hit person for abused women. 

There's a particularly gruesome murder that Selene stumbles across to start the excitement and that brings her to meet Theo, the professor of mythology who is particularly knowledgeable about his chosen subject.

I enjoyed the book.  I enjoyed the chase and how Selene came to understand a lot of things about herself and her family.  I really liked how Theo grew into the hero of the story and I especially liked hi sense of humour and wry observations.  I liked the members of Selene's 'family' that we got to meet - well, most of them.  And I liked their present-day premise.  I loved Hippo, Selene's wonderful hound (I pictured a huge Irish Wolfhound in my reader's eye) and I loved Theo's friend Gabriella. 

Were there things that I could have liked more?  Maybe.  I'm not a huge paranormal fan though, so the fact that I'm pleased I got Book 2 on sale a couple of weeks ago is HUGE!  *LOL*  I think The Immortals is a good summer read.  :)

The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward - My Thoughts

The Bourbon Kings - J.R. Ward

Holy potboiler, Batman!  The combination of  insomnia and a book that was written to be breezed through made this book a quick read.  J.R. Ward is known for her Dark Brotherhood books that people have been raving about for years.  (I have the first one and yet to read it - but it's in paperback, not ebook, so I'm less inclined to just pick it up.)  This book is the first in a family dynasty epic, romance, mystery, soap opera trilogy.  Well, unless she decides it needs to go further.

For me, the most interesting character in this saga is the eldest brother, Edward.  He's had terrible things happen to him and he's really mostly a shell of a man when we meet him, but I couldn't tear my reading eyes from him.  Broken, beaten and more, scarred and ill - the man is a conundrum. :)

The heroine of this tale, Lizzie King, is the head horticulturist at the estate of the uber-wealthy bourbon barons, the Bradfords.  And she has history with the youngest son, Lane.  I alternated between enjoying her independent self and rolling my eyes at her silliness.  I wanted to pinch her, hard, more than once. 

Much of the book, the characters, the setting, the feel of the thing is cliché, but it's enjoyable!  The writing is okay - Ward writes for the present, lots of pop culture references that will be out of date in another 10 or less years and those inner dialogue asides that almost but not quite break the fourth wall.

I'm going to read the next book, but I will most definitely wait until it goes on sale.  I may even check out that Dark Brotherhood book I have up in the bookcase. 

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny - My Thoughts

A Great Reckoning - Louise Penny

And Louise Penny hits it out of the park once again.  I cannot tell you how much I adore her characters and her stories and her insight into the human mind and all the messy emotions that roil within. 

Yes, there's a murder mystery in the story, but Gamache stories are SO SO much more than just a murder mystery.  It's the motives, the whys, the reasons that people do what they do, are who they are and the choices that we all make. 

When I finish one of Louise Penny's books, I always feel so inadequate when writing up my thoughts.  All I can say aside from professing my love for the characters old and new, the familiar locations in which the stories are set, the puzzlement of the mystery and how it manages to affect the denizens of Three Pines, and the easy yet deep way the books are written is that I wish there were a ton more to read.  This is the 12th book in and I haven't felt once that I was reading a retread of what had come before.  Armand et all always have something to teach me.  Some surprise, some twist, some truth I hadn't seen. 

I think I spent the last 20 or so pages of the book wiping tears away.  Rip my heart out, Louise!  Rip it right out!  *LOL* 

I am sad because I have no Gamache books left to read.  I'd been hoarding this last one for the longest time.  The next one, #13, comes out at the end of August but I find the $16 price tag a bit rich for my budget right now.  But as SOON as I can, I'll be adding it to the library, anxious to read of what's next in the lives of my favourite members of the Sureté du Quebec.

The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan - My Thoughts

The Waking Fire (The Draconis Memoria) - Anthony  Ryan

The Draconis Memoria - Book 1

I loved this book!  Yes, it seemed to take a while for me to read, I have no idea why, but I absolutely loved it.  :)

The Waking Fire is a wonderful mix of dragon fantasy, steampunk, military and adventure and some magic thrown in for good measure.  Sounds like quite the jumble, but it works spectacularly well, IMO. 

The three main characters, whose POVs we follow throughout the book, are very different - a small-time street criminal, a lady spy and and upright, honourable Navy man - but they all have one thing in common that I'm not sure I can describe well enough.  But it's got to do with conscience, honour, selflessness (this is a maybe)... I don't know bit they all have this 'it' factor.  And they're all likable while having recognisable flaws, which I find very, very important. 

The world that Ryan has created is familiar yet different.  There is some incredible world-building here and it's fascinating - even though there were a few parts when I found the descriptive passages a tad tedious.  That's probably what kept this from a 5 star read for me. 

A word about the dragons.  They're different from most of the dragons we read about in fantasy and I feel like we've only scratched the surface in this book one of the series.  I don't know how many books it's projected to be, but let me tell you, I can't wait to get my hands on the second book when it gets down to a reasonable price!  Definitely one of my favourite reads of the year.  :)

Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames - My Thoughts

Kings of the Wyld (The Band) - Nicholas Eames

This book was highly recommended throughout the fantasy book blogosphere over the winter - it was published in February - and I think it's the author's first book.  Anyway, I quite enjoyed it!

Kings of the Wyld is one one of the new flavours of fantasy, mixing grimdark with humour with epic and of course, magic.  It's the tale of a group, a band if you will, of aging warriors/adventurers/mercenaries teaming up together for one last mission.  I saw the book described as Lord of the Rings meets Guardians of the Galaxy and you know, that description works!

I actually loved all the characters.  The main character is Clay Cooper and I think he really was my favourite.  Or maybe it was Ganelon... hell, I really loved them all.  Cranky old men whose bones creak and crack, who reminisce about the old days but can still get the job done.  The banter and the quips that fly back and forth between them worked very well and brought me to laughter on more than one occasion.  The narrative also, at times, would take on a humourous aside that I also appreciated. 

Rollicking is a word that's been used to describe Kings of the Wyld and it's a perfect word for it.  The tale is a complete one even if it seems to be the first in the series.  The story of the band, Saga, has come to an end even though we're going to see familiar characters in other books it seems.  And that's okay.  It's perfect, as a matter of fact!

A good, fun read!

Windward by Kirby Crow - My Thoughts

Windward (Mirror Series Book 2) - Kirby Crow

This is a serious book!  Not for the faint-hearted, let me tell you.  And I loved it.  :)

We're back with Matty and Grant who still have so many things to iron out between them.  It's not an easy row to hoe by any means, love notwithstanding.  Are they to be allowed to do this by themselves?

Oh hell no.

If it's not interference and at times outright disapproval from Grant's family, it's the FBI come knocking with a request for Matty to help them out with the tracking down and capture of his ex-lover, the chilling assassin, Jaeger Koning.  And what's with Jaeger?  Well, nothing other than that he wants his one-time submissive, Matty, back where he belongs.  With Jaeger.

There's action.  There's banter.  There's humour.  There's emotion.  There's heart-stopping danger and there's moments that one is tempted to weep.   Seriously!

But the main strength in this book, I think, comes from the way the author brings us into the minds of the three main characters - Grant, Matty and Jaeger - sharing their thoughts and how their minds and their.. well... their selves are guided and formed by the power exchanges of D/s relationships.  I'm explaining it badly - who's surprised? - but I find the whole idea of power exchange to be sexy and heady and fascinating.

Loved it and I hope we may revisit the Mirror Universe at some point.  :)

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah - My Thoughts

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood - Trevor Noah

First off, I really enjoy Trevor Noah on The Daily Show and any guest interviews I've seen him do over time.  I also enjoyed his stand-up special Afraid of the Dark and will be looking to find his other specials.  I'd heard many good things about this memoir of his, so when it was on sale, I snapped it up!

The book deals with Trevor's childhood in South Africa, growing up first in apartheid and then after the fall of apartheid.  The written word sound just like him talking in my head, which I think is good, seeing as it's a memoir, right?  Anyway, it's filled with lots of laughter and love, but there is also a lot of insight into apartheid and racism and bigotry of all sorts woven into the tales of the boy Trevor.  I thought I knew about apartheid, but I learned so much more reading Trevor's story.

It's also a love letter to his mother in many ways.  A fiercely independent woman when the times were not ready for independent women, she was obviously the light of his life.  They didn't have it easy.  There was abuse, emotional and physical, from Trevor's stepfather, but he tells the stories in the same tone that he tells the rest of his story that I didn't find myself getting upset, just quietly horrified.  I don't know if that makes any sense, but there you go.

So yes, I loved this book and have been recommending it all over the place even though I wasn't finished reading it!  *LOL*  And now that I've finished, I shall definitely continue!!

Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford - My Thoughts

Dim Sum Asylum - Rhys Ford

Rhys Ford is one of my go-to authors.  She never disappoints, not really, not even with a book that's not that stellar, such as this one.  And I say not that stellar, but I'm still giving it 3.5 stars.

There's a lot of good stuff here.  A couple of great main characters, the POV character being Senior Inspector Roku MacCormick of the Chinatown Arcane Crimes Division of San Francisco.  He's telling the story.  He's part faerie, part human and has suffered some tremendous losses in his life.   He's cranky and cynical a lot of the time and of course, I took to him immediately.

His partner, his new partner, Trent Leonard, is a big handsome hunk of a man, but I felt like we hardly got to know him.  Yeah, his backstory was there and all, but I really never got the feeling I knew him the way I've gotten to know so many of Rhys' characters.

The setting is great and the plot works well.  There's a lot of magic in this version of San Francisco and Rhys makes it all work quite nicely.  We are immersed in Chinese culture, but there was just so much of it that was just there... never explained to one like me who is not familiar with a lot of it.  I would have liked either a little more explanation of what was either food, drink, holy relic, a piece of clothing - there were times I was never sure and that tended to take me out of the story.

I also found that there was a lot... a whole helluva lot of description of things.  Places, especially.  Too much of it for my taste.  Now, I have a theory.... this book was originally a short story in an anthology that was expanded into a novel and I wonder if what I was finding too much was due to the expanding of something already written?  Maybe.  But the thing is, the story didn't really need it!  I wanted more character, maybe more interaction with the secondary characters who I really enjoyed and maybe just more discussion between Roku and Trent that wasn't all about the hot sex.  But OMG, the sex was hot!  There wasn't a ton of it - a lot of tension though.  A LOT!

Anyway, should this turn into a series, I won't complain.  I want to know more about Roku and Trent and Roku's family and friends and the world.

An Unnatural Vice by KJ Charles - My Thoughts

An Unnatural Vice - K.J. Charles

I honestly have yet to be disappointed in a KJ Charles book.  An Unnatural Vice continues that positive string.  It was terrific!

In An Unnatural Vice, we get the story of Nathaniel Roy who we met in the first book of the series, a friend of Clem's, the illegitimate earl's son and a journalist.  He's out to expose a spiritualist, Justin Lazarus, who just happens to be tied to the over-arching plot of the trilogy.

Of course, the two men are drawn to each other despite their mutual distrust.  There's just some kind of spark that quickly grows into a bonfire and it works!  It's not insta-love, it's insta-lust.  And that's okay because the author is just that good that we can see why they're so drawn to each other and it makes sense.

Alot of the reviews etc... that I've read of this book indicate that Justin is a total bastard, but you know what?  I never saw him that way. Yes, he's not exactly an honest or upright man, but it's clear from the beginning, at least it was to me, that he had his own code of morals and while they might not be all pure and altruistic, they are constant and he lives by them.  Sure, he makes his living by bilking what folks would consider innocent people, but those were the cards he was dealt and what was the alternative?  So no, I didn't think he was a right bastard at all.

I will say that Justin was the more intriguing character of  the two men.  Nathaniel, the crusading journalist doesn't have many grey areas and at times he even came across as a tad snotty about being 'the good guy', but he's also charming and amusingly deprecating at times and this warmed me to him. He is really the perfect foil for Justin and the two of them falling in love was fun to read.

There is lots of action, both in and out of the bedroom and the mystery plot barrels along to an interesting and satisfying second act climax.  I am looking forward to Book 3 - already pre-ordered, something I very seldom do - and seeing what comes of Mark, another of the friends, the private investigator, excuse me, the private enquiry agent and Pen, the young man he's discovered.  I only have to wait until October.  :)

Stiletto by Daniel O'Malley - My Thoughts

Stiletto - Daniel O'Malley

Sad to say that I didn't enjoy Book 2 as much as I enjoyed Book 1, The Rook.  I can put it down to too much infodumping and backstory and not enough story set in current times with the current action.  As well as there not being enough of Myfanwy Thomas, the lead character from Book 1.

The main focus of this book is really twofold, two main characters.  First we have Pawn Felicity Clements, the Checquy soldier/bodyguard who is set to 'babysit' the Grafter girl, Odette Leliefeld.  One of the best things about the story is the relationship between the two young women.  I wanted more of that.  Originally they dislike (hate?) each other, filled with distrust and suspicion but gradually, over time and adventures, that changes and they become friends, even close friends.  I actually liked both of them quite a bit but felt that I would much rather be in 'their' story than reading back over their pasts - mostly Odette's.

Myfanwy is around, she's the boss and she's the one trying to broker the deal between The Checquy and the Grafters to join forces and fight the big, horror bad guys.  She sees things very pragmatically and clearly and knows what has to be done.  I liked how both young women seemed to look to her as a type of role model even though she's really only about 5 or so years older than they are.

The plot was windy and twisty and involved a splinter group of the Grafters and even some monsters popping up from God knows where.  I would have preferred more thought be given to this part of the book than the set up and world-building (really infodump backstory filler author masturbation, if you ask me) and that would have made it hang together better and kept me turning the pages far past the time I should have been asleep.

So... good book, good read, but not as good as I was hoping or expecting.

Oh, I have to say, the artist who did the cover art, one Lindsey Andrews did a STELLAR job!  In my ereader this cover looks as if there's a big crack in my screen!  I kept doing double takes when I'd catch a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye.  Big kudos!!

The World of Cherry by Kay Brandt - My Thoughts

The World of Cherry - Kay Brandt

Not much thinking here!  *LOL*  It's erotica.  Explicit f/f erotica and there's a bit of a plot and a bit of characters to be found.  

 

It is what it is and that's okay. 

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