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.  

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri - My Thoughts

Empire of Sand - Tasha Suri

This book was getting a lot of chatter in my romance circles and that's pretty much what it is, a fantasy with romantic overtones. 

I enjoyed my read.  It was a slow read.  The author writes beautifully; it's the type of book/writing that you want to linger over.  I didn't really find an urgency to the plot, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

I liked the character of Mehr and I liked the character of Amun.  I enjoyed how their relationship grew and how they grew together and on their own.  Amun, the hero, is not your big warrior type, yeah, he's big and fit and strong, but it's his personality that is different.  He's gentle and patient and quietly heroic. 

This isn't a romance novel, but the relationship between Mehr and Amun takes up a large part of the plot because of their special powers.  Talk about a slow burn, though.  I don't mind that at all, but some might find it tedious. 

Anyway, I enjoyed my read and will read the next in the series.  This book pretty much wraps things up for these characters but there's more to tell about this world.  Should be good.  :)

Velocity Weapon by Megan E. O'Keefe - My Thoughts

Velocity Weapon - Megan E O'Keefe

Wow, wow, wow! 

There's not a lot I can say about this book without giving away all the delicious twists and turns, do you'll just have to believe me when I say what starts off as an interesting interstellar tale turns into a rollercoaster ride of epic proportions just shy of halfway through. 

I loved the characters.  Sanda is an excellent main character as is her brother Biran, I enjoyed getting to know both of them and I'm pretty sure there's more to learn in the future.  I seen this book called twisty, but let me tell you, it's UBER twisty and I was just hanging on for dear life.

One of the subplots seemed incredibly out of place and I had no idea how it fit in to the main story... and to be honest, I don't think I fully get it even now, but I'm ready to find out.  *LOL* 

Look, I enjoyed the hell out of this book and recommend it to anyone who likes space adventure.  There's a cliffhanger at the end, of course, the whole damned book is filled with them!  But that's okay!  And it's killing me that I don't know when the next book is coming out!!

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear - My Thoughts

Maisie Dobbs  - Jacqueline Winspear

I came across these books one day a couple of years ago and pointed them out to my good friend, Lainey, who loves anything to do with the Great War.  She picked the first one up and went on to read the others and raved about them!  *LOL*  Finally, a few weeks ago, there was a sale and I managed to pick up this book and books 3 & 4. 

I'm glad to say that I quite enjoyed it!

Now there are a lot of words in this book.  The author likes words.  But that's not a problem because it translates the setting and feel of the book perfectly, I thought. The book is set in 1929, ten years after the end of the First World War, but the Great War permeates every nook and cranny of the story.

Maisie is a great character.  VERY competent and quite brilliant, she does have her faults though.  Just not too many of them.  *LOL*   I enjoyed traveling with her as she sought to unravel the mystery of The Retreat and as well, her trips back into her youth and time during the war.  I'd say a good third if not more of the book is taken up with what one would term her 'backstory', but it worked. 

In conclusion, I quite enjoyed my read, despite thinking at the outset that it just might be a very pedantic read - it wasn't at all. I actually fell a little in love with the characters and I'm looking forward to my next read in Maisie's world!

Death by Silver by Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold - My Thoughts

Death by Silver (Julian Lynes and Ned Mathey #1) - Amy Griswold, Melissa Scott

I had been wanting to read this for a very long time and I'm happy to say that it did not disappoint!  It's a murder mystery set in an alternate steampunk magic London, seasoned with enough magic to make things very interesting.  Frankly, I loved the world-building.   

The two main characters, Ned Mathey and Julian Lynes have known each other since they were boys at school.  Their 'romance' is the secondary plot that twines a bit with the main mystery plot seeing as it's the father of one of their schoolboy 'enemies' who is the first murder victim.  I liked Ned and Julian a lot and I also liked the secondary characters that surround them, especially Ned's assistant, Miss Frost.  She is a surprising lady, that's for sure!  So, as I said, I liked them and was quite willing to follow them about as they solved the mystery and put some of their own ghosts of the past to rest.

I have the second book in my TBR and I will be reading it sooner than later and I hope that Melissa and Amy write more in this universe!

A Better Man by Louise Penny - My Thoughts

A Better Man (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #15) - Louise Penny

The latest Louise Penny, one of the very few authors I will buy on day one, not waiting for a sale or anything.  I love these books, I love Armand Gamache and I love all the characters in the books and I haven't read a Gamache book I haven't adored yet.

And this one is no exception. 

As always, Louise manages to weave the questions of real life into the Inspector's search for answers to the latest crime..  I tried to read it slow and savour it, but you know, I couldn't  I started it late Saturday afternoon and finished it Sunday morning.  And I laughed and I cried and I marveled at what some might call the human condition that Louise sees and writes about so well. 

This time, I wasn't so sure about the guilty party up until quite near to the reveal.  That always makes me happy. :) 

All the beloved characters are back, feeling just like old friends.  This time, I felt like we spent a little more time with the gang from le Sureté than the bunch from Three Pines.  And that's not a slam, because I love le Sureté that Louise has created and could only wish that the real one was getting the same much needed cleaning up! 

Now it looks like we're going to love my beloved Jean-Guy and his family to Paris and I'm just heart-broken about it!  Jean-Guy is so much the Quebecois heart of the Gamache books and he's so familiar to me, I am going to miss him horribly!  Unless something happens to bring him home.  Nothing bad! No tragedy!  But he needs to be home and he needs to be at Armand's side somehow.  :)

Anyway, I loved the book just like I knew I would and I'm going to find it so hard to wait patiently until next year and the next Gamache tale!

Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay - My Thoughts

Under Heaven - Guy Gavriel Kay

GGK is one of my most favourite authors.  I love his writing! It's so beautiful and lyrical and all the while telling a great story with terrific characters.  Under Heaven is no exception.

Inspired by Chinese history, the Tang Dynasty, this is the story of a young man, Shen Tai, who, as the result of a two year sacrifice to honour his late father, is gifted with a most AMAZING gift of 250 Sardian horses.  These horses are like gold!  A gift beyond measure. A quote from the book - "You give a man one of the famed Sardian horses to reward him greatly. You give him four or five to exalt him above his fellows, propel him towards rank, and earn him jealousy, possibly mortal jealousy. Two hundred and fifty is an unthinkable gift, a gift to overwhelm an emperor." Also a gift that will have a tremendous impact on Tai's life.  And the lives of many others.

Under Heaven is the story of the effects of this gift. 

I loved the characters. Kay has a way of bringing the people he writes about to wonderful and often painful life.  They're so real, even when they are bigger than life, if that makes any sense.  We follow mostly Shen Tai and his sister Li-Mei and while they are young, they do possess some wisdom and knowledge - also, they have faults.  I found both of them very likable and enjoyed reading about them.  I also grew very fond of Tai's friend, the world-renowned poet whose name I cannot for the life of me remember.  *LOL*

I wanted to know more about so many things.  I wanted to know more about the events that follow the book's ending.  I wanted to know more about the people on the steppe.  I think I just wanted more period.  But that's okay, the story of Under Heaven was complete in itself and ended very satisfactorily.

Guy Kay, as always writes with a light, deft touch and honest to God, his paragraphs are often like songs.  The man knows words!  And his plotting!  It never fails, all the disparate threads that begin the book always end up intertwining at the end with just the right amount of twisting and turning to delight the reader.  And there's always a little bit of an open-ended bit of 'what if' in conclusion, in Kay's books. 

I loved it.  :)

Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell - My Thoughts

Witches of Lychford - Paul Cornell

What a pleasant surprise!  I've had this book in my TBR for a long while and kept avoiding it, probably because it was a novella and I'm not big on novellas.  It's too bad, because I started it late last night and finished it this evening.  It was really good! 

The story is set in a small town in contemporary England that just happens to be the boundary between our mundane world and a world filled with many wild and dangerous and evil things.  A bigbox store wants to set up business in the town and that would bring down the barriers and well... you can imagine. 

Three women stand between the evil, the town cranky lady, the vicar and the skeptical owner of the magic store.  All three of them are terrific characters, filled with flaws and emotions and authenticity that I just loved and was quite frankly surprised to see in the shortened framework of a novella. 

But I'm not gonna lie, I wanted it to be longer!  I wanted to spend more time with these women and learn even more about them - and that bit of a twisty ending!  Surprised the hell out of me, it did!

And Book Two is now on my wishlist!

Jade Dragon Mountain by Elsa Hart - My Thoughts

Jade Dragon Mountain - Elsa Hart

This book was recommended by my favourite mystery author, Louise Penny, as one of her favourites, and I thought it was a great read.

It's a true mystery, not a thriller, not suspense, but a true mystery, set in 1708 China. Our hero, a one time imperial librarian, but now an exile, turns detective when he arrives in the last city near the border of Tibet in the midst of preparations for an imperial festival celebrating a solar eclipse. The celebrations including the presence of the emperor who is believed to command the eclipse. 

There's a murder, a Jesuit astronomer, and there are many suspects. The plot is a little twisty turny, plenty enough to keep me turning page after page, enjoying multiple surprises.  I had my suspicions about the murderer, but I was never really certain until the reveal.  And even then there was more to the story!  And, I'm happy to say, the wind-up was quite satisfying to me. 

The writing is good.  I enjoy the way it brought me into the story and created a great sense of atmosphere.  And the characters were well rounded and easy to relate to and I really liked the ones I was supposed to like. Enough that I already have the second Li Du book on my wishlist.

So... excellent, classic mystery!  Thanks for the rec, Mme Penny!

Blood Binds the Pack by Alex Wells - My Thoughts

Blood Binds the Pack - Alex Wells

I really enjoyed this book and can't figure out for the life of me why it took so long to read it!  I think I have to blame the weather because it seems when it's really humid, I cannot concentrate on any book for longer than 15 minutes.  Sadly.  

Now this is the second of the Ghost Wolves books, and I adored the first one, this one was just not quite as wonderful by a smidge but I think that's because of my problems with the heat.  Again, as in the first book, the beginning half of the story starts slow, and I find myself wondering if I'd read this book on the heels of the first one (read that one over a year ago) if I wouldn't  have found it so.  It this that makes me think the plot line with Shige and the Mr Yellow, the Weatherman, held more import than I gave it. But anyway, come the halfway point the story picked up with a vengeance. 

Our favourites are back and although I'd have liked more interaction with Hob and the Wolves, it was good to see how she'd taken complete control of her people.  I also would have liked more with her and Mag, but that's not the way the story went - they each had a job to do to take care of their folks.

Mysteries were solved and my suspicions about the Bone Collector turned out to be true.  Go me! 

I loved the world-building and most of the characters and I was truly sad when the story ended because I wanted more action, more plotting, more raids, more fighting for the right reasons. I wonder if the author will ever revisit Tanegawa's World?  I hope so, cause I'll sure be there to read about it. 

The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter - My Thoughts

The Rage of Dragons - Evan Winter

This book is touted as Game of Thrones meets Gladiator and I have to say there was some of the former but a whole, whole lot of the latter. 

If you like scenes filled with fight after fight after fight - add in a few skirmishes and a couple of full scale battles - even a siege - well this is the book for you!

The main character that we follow for the majority of the book is Tau, a young fellow who after a violent tragedy changes his life, goes on a path of vengeance that includes him becoming the greatest swordsman of his time.  And we see just about all the matches/battles/skirmishes that take him there. 

Yes, there's magic.  There are dragons.  There is some terrific world-building - a fantasy world that is more African than anything else. There's a bit of romance. There are some intricate politics that I would have liked to have seen from another POV.  But my favourite parts of the book were where Tau and his sword-brothers begin their relationships and then grow them.  Found family stuff, really.  And that's a catnip of mine. 

So, this highly touted book was good, but not great for me.  Far too much fighting and not enough of the characters out of the ring. I'm hopeful, though, that the next book will have more of politics, the magic and the dragons!  Oh, and that cover!  GORGEOUS!

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 (Big Bad Wolf #1) - 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 (Aven Cycle #1) - 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 (Consortium Rebellion #1) - 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. 

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