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.  

Dark Matter: A Ghost Story by Michelle Paver - My Thoughts

Dark Matter - Michelle Paver

This book is pretty much outside my comfort zone.  Atmospheric ghost stories aren't something I'm drawn to and the only reason I read this one was because a good friend said it was one of the best books she'd ever read. 

I will admit that it is a well-written book and it catches you from the get-go, but I also have to say that I totally disliked the main character for the first 1/3rd of the story.   And that's a big deal when the book is written for the most part as a journal.  I never truly liked him though.  I was also glad that the book was only a little over 200 pages.

Did it work as a ghost story?  Yes.  It evoked the spooky, solitary world of the Arctic quite well and the loneliness was genuinely depicted.  (Can I say that?  It sounds odd.) The thoughts and musings of Jack, the main character were very believable and I finally came to find him somewhat sympathetic and thus grew concerned for his well-being for the duration of the book. 

Now, the book is set in 1937 and it FEELS like 1937 which is just fine.  Some things, were they said/done today would be found quite ... unacceptable?  But that's how things were in 1937.  I'm OK with that.  The book was published in 2010 but quite honestly, it felt like it could have been released back in the 30s or 40s.  And seeing as it's a journal for the most part, I'd say that's a success. 

The book is very British.  Good thing too, seeing as it's main characters are British.  :)  I think it would make a terrific spooky movie.  No blood & gore that is so popular these days, but a truly mind-fucking suspenseful movie.

So yes, good book.  I would recommend it highly to anyone who enjoys ghost stories and spooky stuff.  I see why my friend loved it so much. That's not my bag, though, so it gets a bit of a lower rating because of that. 

Bay of Sighs by Nora Roberts - My Thoughts

Bay of Sighs - Nora Roberts

After the disappointment of my last read, I needed a sure thing, so I picked up one of my trusty go-to's and that's La Nora.  Nora's always an easy read for me.  I find myself reading just one more little bit, just one more bit.  *LOL* 

I discovered that one of the reasons I enjoy Nora's trilogies concerning 3 couples is that there's always a sense of a family coming together.  The guys banter with the girls and the girls banter with the guys and they all banter with each other and I end up chuckling like a crazy person.  :)  Yes, they might seem repetitive from one trilogy to another, but it's a pleasant repetition.  I love the friendships that get formed and I honestly think they mean more to me than the romances.

This book, book 2, is the story of the mermaid and the traveller.  She's so funny and innocent of the ways of the land.  I find her verbal faux pas very amusing.  I also find her freedom and honesty refreshing.  She seems so fragile and while I might be like Sawyer, the traveller, and want to protect her, she's fully capable of taking care of herself.  

The romance is great, as always.  I enjoy the OTTness of the love scenes, something that doesn't carry from one author to another.  but as I said before, it's the friendships that often bring me to tears.  And I usually, probably always, tear up reading a Nora.  *LOL*

So, when the 3rd book Isle of Glass is no longer $13.99, I'll be picking it up.  Even though I'm pretty damned sure I know how the trilogy ends, I'm going to enjoy the way it gets there.  :)

The Blood Gospel by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell - My Thoughts

The Blood Gospel: The Order of the Sanguines Series -  Rebecca Cantrell, James Rollins

I wanted to like this book so much!  It sounded like such interesting fun from the blurb and I enjoyed the James Rollins book I read earlier this year, so I was looking forward to another action-filled thriller with some cool religiously supernatural overtones.  Vampire priests!  Woot!

Ugh.

That's not what I got.

First off, the female lead, the heroine, Erin... well, she spent half her time hiding behind the big, strong, blond, soldier protector guy who could make her warm with just a faint touch in the midst of all the danger of the damned world.  Every time something remotely dangerous approached, there was the big dumb hero thrusting her behind him. 

Speaking of big dumb hero, his name was Jordan, which is fine.  Jordan is a unisex name.  The only problem with this is that Jordan is a name I have used in my own writing for years as a woman's name.  So that bugged me from beginning to end.  *LOL*  Most people probably won't have this problem though.

Overall, this book had a really sexist vibe to it. Not only was Jordan 'protecting' Erin every chance he got and not only were the both of them getting turned on by the slightest of things in the midst of great danger or focus, the whole plot of the book hinged on sex it seemed.  Now I know that vampires are supposed to be sexy and all, but neither author is very good at writing sexy to prove it for one thing - and for another it all read like the downfall of all the good and holy came at the hands of the woman and her seduction of the defenseless priest.

I also felt that some of the ideas were really good and could have been expounded upon more but the authors maybe didn't have the facility to go deeper?  I dunno... I felt they missed the mark on a lot of the historical stuff.  And there was A LOT of historical stuff in this book - maybe too much.  Masada, Christ's Life, Saint Peter, Hitler, Rasputin, the siege of St. Petersburg, medieval Hungary.... just so so so much and alot of it just glossed over. 

But of course we have the improbable love story of Erin and Jordan - oh, did I mention that I think the story takes place over 2 days - 3 max?   Yeah, well, the number of times that we were treated to adolescent reactions from both of these characters was really over the top. 

I could go on because so much of this book left me unsatisfied.  And in the end... well... we don't really get much closure at all.  Oh... Erin and Jordan like each other.  *RME*  I don't know that I'll pick up the second book in this series.  Maybe, but I doubt it.  I think I'll probably stick to Rollins' Sigma Force novels instead for ridiculous, crazy action thrillers. 

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers - My Thoughts

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Becky Chambers

Let me be clear from the get-go.  I think many readers would rate this book with at least 4 stars, even 5, but quite honestly, I'm not the ideal reader for this book, so MY rating is a little lower.  I just don't want people to miss a fun, well-written, diversely cast, thoughtful, filled with love book.

My problem with the book is that the plot was little more than a wisp of smoke in an evening breeze.  I need a plot, really I do.  And this world/universe was built in a way that a whole BUNCH of plots could have been explored.  But the author didn't go there with her diverse merry band of  'tunnellers', wormhole builders if you will.  Instead she went for exploring the characters and their backgrounds and how this biggest job of their lives manages to affect them all in a very profound way. 

We get most of the story through the eyes of Rosemary, the young human who comes aboard as the ship's clerk, trying to escape her past and in reality, learn who she is and who she wants to be moving forward.  It's really a New Adult coming of age story, I guess.  Again, not my cup of tea, but I liked it in spite of that.

Here's a fan drawing of the crew I found that I thought was pretty good.  It's a crew that often reminded me of the crew of Firefly.  There are unlikable members and members that you just want to hug to bits.They all gel as a team though, especially after their big job journey.  Again, the story is way more about the characters than that big job thing.  :)

 

 

 
 
So, if you're looking for some sci-fi fun, heavy on the characterisation, light on plot, but a fun read and one that will warm the proverbial cockles of your heart, this is your book.  :) It'll make you feel good!

And I'll probably be picking up the next one in the series at some point.  

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!!

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