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.  

Jade City by Fonda Lee - My Thoughts

Jade City (The Green Bone Saga) - Fonda Lee

I really have to start putting my thoughts down when I finish my books, not three days later! 

I really enjoyed this book, more than I thought I would, if I'm honest.  It's The Godfather meets Ninjas and Yakuza clans in a 1950's-ish time and on the Island of Kekon where jade is magical, giving enhanced abilities to some who are known as the Green Bone Warriors. 

I found the first maybe third of the book a little slow, as things got set up and we meet the main players, the Kaul family, as well as the a slew of secondary characters.  It's a typical clan type family, I guess, with the 'retired' grandfather who is having difficulty letting go of his power.  His three grandchildren, Lan, Hilo, Shae and the adopted Anden.  Lan, the eldest, is the new Pillar or head of the No Peak clan, Hilo is the Horn, the second-in-command.  Their sister, Shae, has been away from the island and the clan for a while and has been living without her jade.  Anden, the youngest, about to leave his teen years behind is a senior at the Academy, just about ready to graduate and take his jade as well as his position within the family. 

Once we begin to know all the characters and get somewhat of a handle on them, the story really kicks in.  We're talking murders, assassinations, stolen jade, government scandals, love affairs, clans heading to war and maybe even the total collapse of their island and way of life. 

The world-building is intricate and terrific and the characters, main, secondary and even the walk-ons are deftly drawn.  Once we get into things, the plot moves along quite nicely with twists and turns and surprises along the way.  Some good and some bad.  Some I saw coming, some I did not.

So, yes, this is one of those books where I wish I could write a decent review because I feel like I'm not doing it justice.  It's a terrific book and I can't wait for the second book to come out.

Tyrant's Throne by Sebastien de Castell - My Thoughts

Tyrant's Throne - Sebastien de Castell

I finished this a few days ago and promptly got sidetracked and forgot to write up my thoughts!  And it's not because it wasn't good,  because it was GREAT! 

In this, the fourth book of the Greatcoats quartet, the tale of Falcio, Kest, Brasti et al comes to its finale and my goodness it's not what you'd expect.  :)   And just when you thought you knew everything about the land of Tristia it turns out that you knew next to nothing!  *LOL*  I felt like Jon Snow there for a bit.  :)  But what we discover... mama mia, it opens the door to all kinds of musings and ponderings!

I found this book a little more serious, a little deeper than the previous three and I wonder if that's down to us being inside Falcio's head as everything gets turned upside down and sideways.  Probably. But despite that, there was still the humour, still the swashbuckling, still the larger than life characters that I've grown to love over the past books. 

So I loved the way that Sebastien wrapped things up.  The adventure, the politics, the ethical conundrums, the brotherhood, it was all there.  And the ending was perfect even if just a wee bit open-ended.  THAT made me happy, the hope of seeing our faves again. 

I still love Brasti beyond all belief, I really think he's my favourite character.  Brasti, Monster and the latest addition, Chalmers - my God, I fell in love with Chalmers! 

Anyway, incoherent as this is, I loved this book, I loved this whole quartet of books and I thank Sebastien de Castell for writing them!

Beyond the Empire by K. B. Wagers - My Thoughts

Beyond the Empire - K.B. Wagers

I actually finished this book 2 days ago, but I've been unable to even think about putting my thoughts down until now.  And even now, I know I'm not going to do it justice. 

I loved the book and the loved the series!  I just clicked with the characters.  Or they clicked with me... whatever.  *LOL*  I'm pretty sure there might be people out there who think Hail, the gunrunner empress, is too perfect, but you know what?  She's like my superhero.  Yes, she's one of the best gunrunners in the galaxy and you don't get to be that without being pretty damned good at all facets leading, fighting, learning, listening, plotting... well, you get my drift.  So Hail Bristol is basically my Batman.  :)   And you know what else?  She's not an uberly-gifted teenager, she's almost 40 years old.  Life has battered her around some. Her knowledge and abilities, while some of it is ingrained, a lot of it has also been learned and tried in a cauldron of fire.  Anyway... yes, she is my hero. 

The action in this last book of the trilogy is pretty much nonstop and the surprises keep on coming as Hail, Emmory, Zin and the gang fight to regain the Indranan throne.  People die.  And sometimes they die in a most awful manner, but such is the way of war.  Even as I was cursing the author, weeping, I knew it was something that had to happen. 

There are some quite times thought.  Scenes where Hail tries to come to terms with the loyalties and expectations of her people, of her found family and even of herself.  Scenes also, where she shares intimate moments with those closest to her, and we get to see the affection and love between them.  It's like... so... I've been watching the Olympic figure skating like a good Canadian, and cheering on Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir as they won their gold medal, all the while listening to all the speculation about their relationship and are they a couple or not.  So... I watch Tess and Scott and I see Hail and her Ekam, her head bodyguard, Emmory.  It's a deep connection, it's love, it's true kindred spiritness.  They're not a couple - that's Emmory and Zin, thank you very much (and how I wish we could have some stories about their adventures as Trackers.) - but they are very much together, if that makes any kind of sense. 

Okay, so, yes, I loved this trilogy so so much.  It was so much fun, so much action, so much of all kinds of things I love in my books.  There's another trilogy coming in the fall and I'm really looking forward to more adventures with Hail, Em, Zin and the gang.  But don't let that deter you, this trilogy can stand alone, honest.  :) 

Oh, I loved it.  So much that I went and joined the KB's Patreon.  

 

(And thank you Renzii!)

After the Crown by K. B. Wagers - My Thoughts

After the Crown - K.B. Wagers

Thanks to a very special and sweet person, I was able to continue right into Book 2 of this wonderful series. 

It was TERRIFIC!!!

And me, the reader who never binge-reads for various reasons, is binge-reading her way right into Book 3.  (Again, thanks to that lovely person.)

Need I say more?

Behind the Throne by K. B. Wagers - My Thoughts

Behind the Throne - K.B. Wagers

Thank you, Blair MacGregor (One of my favourite authors), thank you!  Thank you for recommending this terrific book.  I enjoyed it SO SO much.  I never binge read series - I find I overdose too easily and lose pleasure in the reading - but when I finished this book, I was ready to get the next two and read them right NOW!  But... they're a wee bit pricey and I can't be an adult and justify the expenditure.  This month.

So we have Hail, the gunrunner, who is in reality one of the Indranan Empire's royal family, and has been away from 'home' for twenty years.  The story opens when she is brought home, unwillingly, into a midst of politics and intrigue and family drama.

We have action, we have intimate emotional scenes, we have danger and spying, we have humour, we have heart-warming moments... oh, it's all there in this book.  And while the heroine, Hail, seems at times a bit too smart, a bit too clever and capable, you then remember that she's one of the most notorious gunrunners in the galaxy and has come by all those smarts and abilities quite honestly - so to speak.  *LOL*

I loved her.  I also fell for the whole darned cast of secondary characters (the book is written from Hail's POV, 1st person) and wanted to see more of them.  Especially Emmory and Zin, the Trackers who come to find Hail and bring her home and who are so much more than political bounty hunters and bodyguards.  :)

Oh, and another BTW, this society is matriarchal.  I enjoyed the way the author flipped the traditional gender roles and how that plays into the political shenanigans going on in the Empire.  The Indranan Empire is descended from space colonists from India and it's fascinating to see how the author has created a world 2500 years in the future.  I don't know a lot about Indian society, history etc... but it felt well done to me.  :)

Oh, I enjoyed this book so much.  :)  I can't wait to read the next two!!  And it looks like the author is starting a second trilogy with the same main character.  Makes me a happy camper.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, Blair!  It rocked!!

Fish Stick Fridays by Rhys Ford - My Thoughts

Fish Stick Fridays - Rhys Ford

Bless Rhys Ford.  Whenever I need a go-to book because the one I've just finished has been awful and enraged me or managed to rip my heart out and leave me with a book hangover, I know I can go to a Rhys book and sink into an adventurous love story that hits most, if not all, of my sweetspots. 

I loved the two main characters of this book right off.  Rough and tumble Deke and the more reticent and maybe even proper, Lang.  And Deke's niece, Zig, well, she's just a special creature unto herself!  And these three were exactly what I needed after the dark and dreary of the book I had just finished. 

It's Rhys, so there had to be at least one dead body.  :)  But the main thing was that Deke and Lang met, they connected and they fell in love.  I thought they complimented each other perfectly and their banter... Oh, Rhys was definitely 'on' when she wrote this one.  I laughed out loud on more than one occasion.  But there is darkness.  After all, Deke and Zig have had pretty shitty lives up until they arrive in Half Moon Bay. 

So, Rhys does what Rhys does and soothes my mind with a terrific romance and I'm very pleased that I still have a few unread Rhys novels in my TBR.  

The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark - My Thoughts

The Court of Broken Knives (Empires of Dust) - Anna Smith Spark

This book was so damned dark and bleak...  Grimdark?  Oh my GAWD, it was freaking grim and dark to the nth degree!

Now I have no problem with grimdark fantasy.  I like characters with flaws and who aren't goodie-goodies.  This post on Fantasy Hive by Cameron Johnston, published just yesterday, reflects many of my own thoughts on the genre.  Needless to say, I don't believe that The Court of Broken Knives succeeds in any of it. There is nothing of hope, of love, of humour, or of anything other than death, blood, violence, sadness and hate.  Nothing redeeming at all!  I couldn't help but think that the author must have a couple of hundred tons of demons to work out on the page. 

Now, the writing is a bit different, it's somewhat odd.  For instance, there are a couple of 1st person POV chapters thrown into the 60 chapters of the book.  Why?  I'm not sure, but it didn't bother me.  It must have worked on whatever level the author was hoping it would.  And that's just one instance of something 'different' in the writing style.  I appreciated the difference though.  Wasn't a problem one bit. In fact it's one of the reasons I was able to finish the book, I think.  That, and the fact that it was a Christmas present and I always want to finish those.

But the characters... OMG... the characters.... not a single one left standing that I cared for.  And all the ones I thought I might get to like... eviscerated, burned up, squished, beheaded... you name it... 

So in the end... far too dark and irredeemable for me.  Depressing.  Not a story that enthralled me - it more appalled me.  

Not a fan. 

A Turn of Light by Julie Czerneda - My Thoughts

A Turn of Light - Julie E. Czerneda

The third of my Christmas books and I'm 3 for 3!  (I have one Christmas book left to read.) 

So, Julie Czerneda is a Canadian author, mostly of science fiction.  She's a favourite of my good friend, Ginette, and when I had read something about Julie and this book somewhere (I follow a lot of blogs) I mentioned to G that I thought I'd like to give her a try.  G said that she thought I'd like it.  She did.  So it went on my Christmas list and my son put it under the tree for me.

Now this book is a brick.  I mean, an 800-page brick!  And I have the mass market paperback edition so let me tell you that when one is used to reading on an ereader, it's a pretty daunting thing!  *LOL*  It took me a while (for me) to read.  2 1/2 weeks.  But not because I wasn't enjoying it, 'cause I was, but looking for a light and a comfy way to hold the book for an extended period of time and the smallish font is a bit of a chore!  *LOL*

Anyway... to the book.

This is not a book for someone who wants a quick, action-packed thrill ride.  This is a book to immerse yourself in.  A book to discover slowly, like that cliché of peeling back the layers of an onion.  A book to sink into until you become as at home in Marrowdell as Jenn and her family and her friends. 

There's something special about Marrowdell and as you go along in the book, you slowly begin to discover its delights and secrets bit by bit.  It could be frustrating if you weren't into that, but I found myself almost wallowing in the atmosphere.  Julie makes Marrowdell come alive. 

And the characters.  Oh, I loved most of them.  Absurdly, the character I could never really warm up to was the main character of Jenn.  She was just a little too young, a little too naive and impulsive, a little too... flighty at times?... for old lady me.  I didn't dislike her at all.  I just never warmed up to her.  The surrounding characters... honestly?  I think I liked them all!  I have a special soft spot for Horst.  And Kydd.  And Tir.  Then there's Scourge... the, um, big warhorse. *LOL*  And like my friend, Ginette, the TOADS!!! 

And you know... there's nary a prince, a duke, a queen or an emperor.  This is a story about normal (well....) country folk, farmers, millers, tinkers and an one-time soldier or two.   You know... it feels just like a Canadian book in some ways.  *LOL*

Oh, I enjoyed this!  And I'll read the second one as well as dip into Julie's science fiction tales. 

Dreamer's Pool by Juliet Marillier - My Thoughts

Dreamer's Pool: A Blackthorn & Grim Novel - Juliet Marillier

One of my Christmas books, Dreamer's Pool had been on my TBR list for quite a while.  Recommended by my buddy, author Allison Temple, as one of her favourite reads , it sounded like something I would enjoy and I waited for it to go on sale in ebook.  It never did.  *LOL*  So Michael bought me the mass market paperback for Christmas.  Bit of a brick, it is!

But it was really really good!  It was not what I was expecting.  I had thought it'd be something like Grace Draven's Master of Crows, a romance with fantasy woven in.  What I got was more along the lines of Blair MacGregor's - one of my favourite fantasy authors -  Desert Rising books. Fantasy for grown-ups with mature themes and thoughtful, learning, growing characters.  At least the main story about Blackthorn and Grim.  Two amazing characters that are so broken and beaten you wonder how they've managed to survive past the first chapter! And while there might not have been romance as I had expected, there is certainly love in this book.

At least in the main story about Blackthorn and Grim.  Two amazing characters that are so broken and beaten you wonder how they've managed to survive past the first chapter!  But both Blackthorn and Grim have a thread of steel in them.  A core of good.  And maybe even a bit of altruism on top of that. We discover more and more of this as the book goes on, which is a delightful journey.  But dear Lord, when we first meet them they are quite at the nadir of their lives.  Don't mistake me though, Blackthorn is as prickly as her name and I love her for it - and Grim, well, I do want to know about his past and what has brought him to be the Grim he is now.

The book rotates 1st person POV between three characters: Blackthorn, the wise woman, Grim, her erstwhile friend and protector, and Oran, the prince of Dalraida.  Oran is a sweet fellow.  Scholarly almost.  And he's waiting impatiently for the arrival of his bride, Flidais, who, when she arrives, is not quite as expected and thereby hangs the tale.  I will admit, for the first half of the book I was not thrilled with Oran.  I found him quite bland and even whiny.  But then he sort of woke up and he got better.  Never as enthralling as Blackthorn or Grim, but bearable at the very least.  :)

I like the way Juliet Marillier writes. I realised that every time I had a spare 5 minutes I was sneaking in a few more pages, a sure indication that I was quite entranced.  Be sure I'll be reading the next two books!

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman - My Thoughts

The Invisible Library - Genevieve Cogman

My first finish of 2018 and what can I say?  I really really enjoyed it! 

I think this book first came to my attention on one of the book blogs I follow when I read the blurb and found it had tons of things I enjoy.  Books, libraries, undercover agents, secret societies, magic and chaos. 

The main character is Irene, a journeyman Librarian, or as she's described in the afore-mentioned blurb - a professional spy for the mysterious Library.  I liked her.  She was competent in her job, yet not infallible.  She was likable and funny.  And while she was clever and able to get out of some bad situations, there were times when she made mistakes and bad assumptions and needed a hand.  There's a lot more of her to discover, I think, in further books, and I'm looking forward to doing that. 

I also loved the character of her assistant, Kai.  He's a tad mysterious and is definitely not coming clean on some stuff, but I never got the sense or feeling that he was one of the baddies.  There's also a lot more of him to discover in the books to come. 

The plot was complicated and interesting once we got into it.  Lots of twisty-turnies and surprises. It kept me turning the pages, that's for sure.  And the last couple of chapters had some intriguing questions set up that weren't answered and some outcomes and explanations that I wasn't quite expecting. 

So in the end, this Christmas gift from my son, Michael, was a winner.  I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the ongoing adventures of Irene and Kai and the others.  A good way to start of the reading year of 2018!

Come Sundown by Nora Roberts - My Thoughts

Come Sundown - Nora Roberts

I generally really enjoy Nora's stand-alone big suspensy type novels, but this one just took SO long to get going I was afraid it might even become a DNF!

First off, maybe it's just me, but has Nora become rather enamoured of the woman kept prisoner by the loony-tune guy over the past few books?  That's the basis for the suspense here. 

The first... oh, almost 55% of the book is spent getting to know the characters, and getting to know how the resort works. We see Nora building her trio of couples - another of her tropes that seems to now have made it's way into the one-of books.  And there wasn't even any friction or anything between the heroine and the hero.  Just alot of dancing around each other in a very pleasant bantery sort of way.  It was at this point that I was about ready to throw in the towel and that's rare for me, especially with a Nora book.  But all of a sudden, things actually began to happen! 

I devoured the last 40% of the book today.  Couldn't put it down. Even enjoyed the twist at the end which really shouldn't have been a twist but she got me anyway.  *LOL*

So in the end, it was far from the best Nora I've read, but still worth a 3.5 star rating. 

Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand - My Thoughts

Winter Street - Elin Hilderbrand

This was not the book I was expecting but I quite enjoyed it!

I was expecting a heart-warming romance, typical of the season, but what I got was a family story filled with love, humour, drama, whimsy and fun. 

The characters of the Quinn family are real and flawed and quite perfect in some ways.  All I can tell you is that I loved reading about them.  Dysfunctional doesn't quite cover it.  *LOL*  Oh, but they're a lot of fun, really.  I wanted to see the Christmas movie made of this novel.  It'd beat the Hallmark Christmas movies all to hell, I'm sure! 

So, not quite a romance and not really a family saga.  It's a heart-warming novel, as they say, about a family coming home for Christmas and I found it hit the perfect spot.  And as such, this will close my Christmas reading for the year.  Always good to close on a good note. 

All I Want for Christmas by Clare Lydon - My Thoughts

All I Want For Christmas - Clare Lydon

Just not for me.  I liked the premise, woman wants a girlfriend for Christmas and goes about seeking one out, with commentary from her best friend and roommate.  She has misadventures, says clever things, does a lot of moaning and groaning about her lot in romantic life and can't see what's in front of her face.

It reads too much like chick lit for me to enjoy, really.  New Adult chick lit.  *sigh*

Now, don't get me wrong, the author does a wonderful job in her chosen genre/voice.  I just didn't like it much. 

I like my romances to have obstacles and hurdles for the couple to overcome, on their own and together.  I haven't found many f/f romances that manage to do that.  They all seem either tortured or bland. I shall continue to hunt, but I am getting a bit discouraged. 

Homecoming by Beverly Jenkins

Homecoming - Beverly Jenkins

This is the first novel by beloved doyenne of the historical romance genre, Beverly Jenkins, that I have read.  I was concerned.  Everyone loves her so much and my track record with hugely loved and highly touted works is iffy at best.

Well, I liked the premise.  A second chance at love type of thing, with a school teacher, headmistress, and a buffalo soldier.  Mature characters both.  Lydia comes back to her childhood home from Chicago and crosses paths with Gray Dane, her first love.  Turns out that his love for her as well as hers for him hasn't dimmed, but most probably grown.  So we have some angst, some winsomeness, sexiness, and some humour.  It should all work.  Yet...

I wish I could say I adored the book, but colour me not overly impressed. Mostly with the style of writing.  Very flowery, especially in the love scenes.  For instance, I don't think I'd ever heard/read about one's nipples being dazzled by a lover's fingers, but now I can say that I have.   Also, some of the dialogue didn't work for me, at times I found it stilted and at times it just sounded a wee bit too modern.  And I don't know, there was just something about the writing that felt dated and unrefined (?) to me.  (And not because it's a historical, sillies!)  So I checked.  This novella was published in 2007 according to the author's website, as part of the Gettin' Merry anthology.  Okay, 10 years ago.   Maybe that's why.

Anyway, I have another Beverly Jenkins in my TBR, a more recent one - Forbidden- from 2016.  Hopefully I'll enjoy it more.  :)

This Christmas by Jeannie Moon - My Thoughts

This Christmas - Jeannie Moon

This is a charming novella-length love story filled with romance tropes which I didn't mind at all.  The heroine, Sabrina, Bree, is the single mother of an almost 10-year old daughter and the hero, of course, is the father, Jake Killen, pro hockey player. 

There's not a lot of real angst as Bree and Jake readily admit their past and the fact that their feelings haven't died.  Well, not to each other of course.  We need a bit of conflict!  The electricity between them is still there.  Their daughter, Charlie (Charlotte), has inherited her mother's looks and her father's hockey talent.  She loves her mom and she quickly comes to love her dad.  Her one wish for years has been to have her father back and whatddya know, this Christmas it happens!

We have Bree's parents who are suspicious of Jake at first and Bree's crew of girlfriends who have her back.  There are the obligatory confrontational scenes between them and Jake.  There is also an obligatory ice-skating scene.  A father-daughter dance.  Some not-really-needed bullying at school and a side sort-of plot concerning the local lighthouse that I thought could have been built upon more.

All in all, it was a charming read but I found myself wishing there had been less introspective inner-dialogue and more action.  And maybe a little more conflict?  Bree was a little too nice for me, I guess.  *LOL*  Anyway... a sweet holiday read. 

The Christmas Fling by Heidi Cullinan - My Thoughts

The Christmas Fling - Heidi Cullinan

The first of my Christmas books to read and ooh, it's a good one!  In The Christmas Fling, we return to Logan, Minnesota, the setting of the Minnesota Christmas quadrology.  We meet many old friends - as one does when they go home for Christmas, and we meet a pair of MCs that have issues.  Oh, they both have issues. 

The book starts of with a bang- almost literally.  Before we are many pages in, we find ourselves in the midst of a hugely satisfying, steamy, sexy scene that is really enough to curl your toes.  And a bit of a warning here, we're talking some kink, more specifically, some humiliation kink - which is not everyone's cup of tea.  It's really not mine either, in fact it usually squicks the hell out of me, but the way Heidi writes it, I found the workings of the characters' minds fascinating.  Characters are Heidi's strength and it really shows in this book. 

We have Evan, who is most likely on the spectrum, who can't really remember faces, who has a tendency to one-track-mindedness to the point of forgetting to take care of himself.  Another one who has his own neuroses, his own insecurities, his own bloody one-track-mindedness.  *LOL* 

But honestly, aside from the terrifically drawn characters, the other wonderful thing about this book, and really about all of Heidi's books, is the sense of family.  Found family and blood family.  It never fails to warm my heart and often sets me to tearing up.  And then there's Linda Kay who is right up there as fave Cullinan character of all time with Randy Jansen. 

So great start to my Christmas reading!  :)

Currently reading

The Merchant of Dreams
Anne Lyle
A Killer in King's Cove
Iona Whishaw
Fosse
Sam Wasson
The Magicians
Lev Grossman
The City Stained Red
Sam Sykes