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.  

Abaddon's Gate by James S. A. Corey - My Thoughts

Abaddon's Gate  - James S.A. Corey

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!

The Wolf at the Door by Charlie Adhara - My Thoughts

The Wolf at the Door - Charlie Adhara

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. 

From Unseen Fire by Cass Morris - My Thoughts

From Unseen Fire - Cass Morris

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. :)

Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik - My Thoughts

Polaris Rising - Jessie Mihalik

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. 

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

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

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!

Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff - My Thoughts

Silver Moon - Catherine Lundoff

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. 

The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley - My Thoughts

The Mirror Empire - Kameron Hurley

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. 

Unfinished Business by Nora Roberts - My Thoughts

Unfinished Business - Nora Roberts

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? 

Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames - My Thoughts

Bloody Rose (The Band #2) - Nicholas Eames

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!

A Morning for Flamingos by James Lee Burke - My Thoughts

A Morning for Flamingos  - James Lee Burke

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. 

Under His Protection by LaQuette - My Thoughts

Under His Protection (Dreamspun Desires #80) - LaQuette

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!

Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse - My Thoughts

Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World #2) - Rebecca Roanhorse

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????????

Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi - My Thoughts

Fuzzy Nation - John Scalzi

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.  :)

Killjoy by Julie Garwood - My Thoughts

Killjoy (Buchanan, #3)  - Julie Garwood

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. 

The Art of Fire by Kirby Crow - My Thoughts

The Art of Fire - Kirby Crow

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.  :)

Midnight Exposure by Melinda Leigh - My Thoughts

Midnight Exposure - Melinda Leigh

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. 

Currently reading

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