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.  

Where You Lead by Mary Calmes - My Thoughts

Where You Lead - Mary Calmes

I would call this a longish short story.  It was also a little frantic and frenetic, I thought.  Written in the first person, I honestly never got a feel for Pete, the main character.  And consequently I never got a feel for his partner, Carver.  Pete is a Treasury department agent and Carver is an artist. 

There was a lot of banter between the two, but I wasn't overly fond of it.  Some of it sounded a little mean-spirited and too snarky.  And I wasn't sure exactly why Pete had fallen for Carver and vice versa, aside from the physical attraction - which was mightily indulged in throughout the story.

So I was disappointed, because I like Mary Calmes' work.  And it illustrates why I tend to shy away from works of this length. 

Once Upon a Winter's Eve by Tessa Dare - My Thoughts

Once Upon a Winter's Eve - Tessa Dare
Another charming holiday read that was also a lot of fun.  Set during the Napoleonic wars, the story takes place in the space of one evening into the next dawn and is a delightful romantic and sexy tale.  
 
Novella in length, you don't get much time to get to know the characters and grow to like them, but the author does a lovely job of bringing them to life. I liked the both of them and honestly, wished we could follow them after the end of the tale.  
 
You don't need to know anything about the Spindle Cove series really, to enjoy this, so if you're in the mood for some festive sexy times, love and smidge of danger, head towards this one. 

A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong by Cecilia Grant - My Thoughts

A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong: A Blackshear Family novella - Cecilia Grant

The first of my Christmas reads and it was charming.  I found myself smiling much of the way through the story, even when I wanted to pinch the hero, the so very bound-by-duty Andrew Blackshear, who is the eldest of the family and so very, very, very proper.  *LOL*

Our heroine, Lucy Sharp was born to get under Andrew's skin and drive him to total distraction.  And that's exactly what she does with her impulsive and adventurous ways.  Propriety?  Not something she adheres to for the most part.  Brought up by an unconventional widower after the way-too-early death of her mother.

It was cute, it was heart-warming, it was filled with love and surprises.  I'm not fond of the cover (it's just too modern-looking for me), but the novella is a very pleasing read for the holiday season.  Check it out!

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny - My Thoughts

Kingdom of the Blind - Louise Penny

My birthday present to me. It's so very rare for me to pay $15 for an ebook, but this is one of my very favourite of favourite authors and it was my birthday the week it came out, so...  I gave myself a gift!

Anyway...

It was like coming home.

I came to a realisation about myself and the Gamache books when I was about halfway through this one.  They are perfect for people watchers.  Perfect for people who love to watch TV shows like Survivor and Big Brother because they want to see how the people will react and what they will become in different situations.  There is a lot of people watching in these books, and speculating and looking for the 'why' of things.  I love it!

All of our friends are back in Three Pines, but this time the focus is more on the Sureté side of the family than the civilians. There are parallel storylines here - the case of the will, the murder of one of the heirs in said will, and the fallout from the previous book with the drugs Armand was forced to let slip through his hands in order to catch the bigger fish. 

I wish I was better at writing these things so that I could explain why they're so good, but suffice it to say that Armand Gamache, is a wonderfully flawed hero and the family that he makes around him is also filled with real people who are alternately flawed and heroic in their times. 

I don't know that I'm completely thrilled with the way this book ended.  Oh, don't get me wrong, the ending was perfect and filled with surprises and sadness and feel good moments, but I'm going to be really annoyed if Jean-Guy's fate is permanent!  (Although the whole theme of the student taking the place of the mentor by his actions was pretty cool.)

So, I am thinking positively that there are more Gamache tales to come and that we will be returning to Three Pines in the future.  :) 

Making Up by Lucy Parker - My Thoughts

Making Up (London Celebrities) - Lucy V. Parker

Another fun romance from Lucy Parker that's filled with great dialogue and banter.  Lucy has become one of my favourite romance authors with her London Celebrities series.  I love the settings of the theatre world in London as well as the actors, directors, and performers who populate her world. 

This time around the setting vehicle is a show that is very Cirque de Soleil-esque and our main characters are the circus artist, Trix, who is suddenly thrust into a starring role in the show and Leo, the uber-talented make-up artist.  We know Trix from the previous book, as she is that book's heroine's best friend. 

Trix and Leo felt to me a bit edgier than previous couples in the series, their dialogue more sharp and defensive much of the time.  But it worked because Trix has a past relationship that has left her unsure of herself and very defensive in her dealings with other people.  And trusting other people.  Been there and done that, so I recognised it right off and felt it was well done.  This, of course, made this book a little less light-hearted than the two previous. 

The romance worked for me as well - important in a romance novel, yes?  *LOL*  But it worked and I enjoyed going along for the trip.  :)  *two thumbs up*

Hanging the Stars by Rhys Ford - My Thoughts

Hanging the Stars (Half Moon Bay Book 2) - Rhys Ford

Rhys never lets me down.  Whether it's some adventurous urban fantasy, rockstar dramas or, like this one, a romantic mystery I always enjoy my Rhys reads.  :)

Book two in the Half Moon Bay series focuses on the twin brother of one of the MCs of the first book. In the first book he was not the most sympathetic of characters, but as we delve into his life in this book, we come to understand his whys and wherefores.

While the main characters of West and Angel might be somewhat typical, the rich full-of-himself guy and the hard-working, blue-collar, doing-his-best guy, Rhys infuses them with quirks and humanity and courage and flaws and makes them come alive on the page.

Yeah, there's a mystery involved, but it really takes a somewhat backseat to the relationship between West and Angel.  A relationship I became invested in and with characters I came to care for very much. Main and secondary!  (I really want to know more about West's friend/bodyguard.)

So another great read from a fave author.

The Watchmaker's Daughter by CJ Archer - My Thoughts

The Watchmaker's Daughter - C.J. Archer

Upon starting this book I was worried that it was going to fall into DNF land or at least 2 Star Land at the very least, but you know what?  It surprised me! 

Yes, it has problems.  The heroine is sometimes a little slow on the uptake, as my mom used to say and things would have gone much smoother had she and the hero, or even she and some of the other characters, actually talked about things.  But you know... I couldn't put it down even with all that!

I wish there was a bit more explanation of the magic that is hinted about through most of the book.  And I wish we had some resolution of the hero, Matt's, problem.

I loved the cast of secondary characters - they are very found family and that, admittedly, is one of my most favourite things. 

I honestly shouldn't have enjoyed this book but I did!  I'm ready to read more.

Come Hell or Highball by Maia Chance - My Thoughts

Come Hell or Highball - Maia Chance

This was a fun cozy mystery read.  Set in the Jazz Age, the age of Prohibition, the age of silent films, when the movie industry was beginning and mostly in New York, it's rightly described as a fun-filled romp.  There's a taste of madcap about it too.

I really enjoyed the characters: our heroine, the society widow Lola, her Swedish cook Berta, the mysterious Ralph and of course the dog whose name escapes me now because I waited too long to write this.  *LOL*  Most of the dialogue was fun banter, especially between Lola and Berta.  The mystery was okay and kept me engaged.

My one problem was the constant harping on Lola's weight.  It got old, really quick.  I loved that she was not the slender, boyish framed woman of that age, but dear God, the jokes got old and somewhat distasteful and there were far too many.  They took away from my enjoyment of the book.

Will I continue on with the series?  Probably.  Overall, I liked it.  And it's one of my favourite eras. :)

New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson - My Thoughts

New York 2140 - Kim Stanley Robinson

DNF

 

I made it almost halfway before throwing in the towel.

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

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

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

Witchmark by C.L. Polk - My Thoughts

Witchmark (The Kingston Cycle #1) - C. L. Polk

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

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

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

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

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

Clockwork Boys by T. Kingfisher - My Thoughts

Clockwork Boys - T. Kingfisher

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

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

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

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

Point of Sighs by Melissa Scott - My Thoughts

Point of Sighs - Melissa Scott

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

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

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

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

Gideon's Sword by Preston & Child - My Thoughts

Gideon's Sword - Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child

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

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

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

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

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

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

There Before the Chaos - K.B. Wagers

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

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

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

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

I need more Dailun and Hail in my life too!

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

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

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

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Magic Bites  -  Ilona Andrews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Gabriel Hounds by Mary Stewart - My Thoughts

The Gabriel Hounds - Mary Stewart

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

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

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

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

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

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

Currently reading

Caliban's War
James S.A. Corey
A Killer in King's Cove
Iona Whishaw
Fosse
Sam Wasson
The Magicians
Lev Grossman
The City Stained Red
Sam Sykes