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.  

The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley - My Thoughts

The Mirror Empire - Kameron Hurley

I don't think I've ever read something like this in all my years of reading fantasy.  It's a challenging read, no doubt about it.  There are few familiar touch points, few things you can anchor to as you travel through this incredible universe that Kameron Hurley has built.  You have to pay attention to everything - no skimming (not that I'm one to skim anyway.) and put away any kind of judgement you might have.  This is indeed a strange new world and I have to admit, as much as it confused me, awed me, entranced me, it also scared the hell out of reader me.  *LOL*  I haven't had to concentrate on a read the way I concentrated on this for a long, long time. 

This is one of those books where I wish I could write a really stellar review and talk intelligently about the choices and craft and intention and all that stuff.  But I can't.  I can just tell you how the book made me feel.

When I was on Goodreads adding the book as 'currently reading', I came across a review - that wasn't a review - written by the person who edited the book and I'm going to link it here because it's damned fascinating.  Amanda's Review.  And don't worry, there are no spoilers there.

I want to say that this, the first book of the saga, finishes with a cliffhanger, but it didn't feel like a cliffhanger?  Yeah, there were a bunch... I mean, A BUNCH of unanswered questions, but I didn't get that "And then?  And then?  And then?"  annoyingly frustrating feeling I usually do when left with a cliffhanger.  I have the second book in my TBR pile and I will get to it soonish.  I do want to know what's happening with all the characters and what the next step in this 'Worldbreaker' story is. 

Would I recommend this book?  Oh yes, very much.  But it's not for everyone. Like I said, it's a challenging read, but a really good one. 

Unfinished Business by Nora Roberts - My Thoughts

Unfinished Business - Nora Roberts

This is an early Nora, a Silhouette reprint from 1992 and boy, does it show. 

The hero, Brady, is a tad overbearing for this day and age, the plot is somewhat dated and the actual writing... OMG, the HEAD-HOPPING!!!  It's so bad... it's SO SO SO bad.  I don't remember any Nora being this full of mexican jumping bean POVs. 

It didn't help that I didn't like the heroine.  She just rubbed me the wrong way. I found her rather self-centred and whiny which, I suppose, is what I'm supposed to feel because she's a high-strung concert pianist, but man... I really didn't like her. 

Anyway, this Nora was a disappointment to me.  I usually enjoy Nora's earlier work but this one... nope.  I guess it's the exception that proves the rule? 

Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames - My Thoughts

Bloody Rose (The Band #2) - Nicholas Eames

Loved it!  I have to think that Eames' Band books aren't for everyone.  All the winks and jokes both subtle and broad might tend to grate on some people I'd think.  But not me.  I loved it all.  I laughed out loud and marvelled at how he got away with things. 

This book felt a wee bit darker than the first book, Kings of the Wyld, especially the ending, but I didn't mind at all.  It felt complete.

We have the story of Tam Hashford, daughter of a one time band member and she wants nothing more than to be a band member herself.  When one of the biggest and best mercenary bands rolls into town and she gets invited to be its next bard, well, the adventure begins.  She's seventeen, I think, and we get to see how she grows and matures over the next little while.  It's a short span of time, but she does some HUGE growing. 

And Rose... Bloody Rose, daughter of Golden Gabe of Saga fame... she is an enigma.  I thought we were going to get the story from her POV, but I was mistaken.  We see her story through Tam's eyes, and it works really well.

Anyway, I loved it.  It was a terrific sequel and I sure hope Nicholas does some more writing in this world because I'm fascinated by it!

Oh... one last thing.  The covers of these books are GORGEOUS!!!  I'd hang this one especially on my wall.  Kudos to Richard Anderson for a thing of beauty!

A Morning for Flamingos by James Lee Burke - My Thoughts

A Morning for Flamingos  - James Lee Burke

Not gonna lie, the title of this book had a lot to do with me giving it a try when it showed up in the 'on sale' section at Kobo.  Me and flamingos, all the way. 

Under His Protection by LaQuette - My Thoughts

Under His Protection (Dreamspun Desires #80) - LaQuette

I think I have a lot to say about this one.  :)

So first off, it wasn't what I was expecting.  I had seen this book recommended in many places, including one of my favourite authors, and in reading the blurb I was all in.  Well, it wasn't a suspenseful, romantic, action book like Abigail Roux's Ty and Zane books or S.E. Jakes'  Prophet and Tommy series.  Nope, this was less that and more erotic love story.  Which is more than fine, just not what I was expecting.  *LOL*

So, what we have is a book that's really all about emotion. Both men, Elijah and Camden do not trust love.  Well, they're afraid to expose all the emotional parts of themselves to a romantic partner. Both for different reasons.  But boy oh BOY is the physical attraction strong.  Like... Skywalker Force strong.

Elijah and Camden had a one night stand 5 years ago and it was SO POWERFUL and their connection SO INSTANT that neither one has been able to forget the other.  I usually have a bit of a problem with this trope, but I have to tell you, the author writes it so brilliantly that it worked for me for the most part.  Now the forced proximity trope is one that I do enjoy, so the fact that detective lieutenant Elijah has to stash ADA Camden away so the bad religious zealots can't assassinate him was an easy thing for me to deal with.  Throw in the perfect seasoning of Elijah's family and we have a really good story with lots of emotion and growth in between the hot, uber hot, bouts of sex. I'd have preferred more of the former and less of the later in the mood I'm in.

Now, the thing is, I was not in the mood for high erotic content in my romance book this time.  I wanted the whole detective, action, thriller, suspense type of book.  But, LaQuette - an author new to me - writes so well and so enjoyably that I didn't really mind at all.  I only had one real complaint about the whole thing and that was the constant use of the MCs names.  Honestly, I know which character's POV I'm reading and I know how to differentiate his hands/legs/mouth/cock/eyes/whatever from the other dude's.  I tried rereading a couple of the paragraphs substituting him/his for the character's name and you know what?  It worked a charm.  She didn't need to continue naming which guy was which because her writing is good enough that you just know.

Something was brought home to me about how I read while I was going through this book.  I'm a visual reader, meaning I see the story playing out in my mind's eye as I read.  And as such, I need to have descriptions of the characters - at least the MCs.  It lets me sink into the story more completely.  I say this because having finished the book, I still don't know if the author intended Camden to be black or part black or what. All I know is that his skin is light and his eyes blue and his hair black.  So I kept seeing Jesse Williams in my mind's eye. Bear in mind that I'm the woman who insists that Mr. Clark from the Tom Clancy novels is a big, black man even if Willem Dafoe played him in the movies and is supposedly bang on.  *LOL*  Anyway, this bugged me.  I wanted to know Camden's racial makeup so I could picture him properly.

So, that being said, this was not the book I expected, or the book I wanted to read, but I did enjoy my read and was very, very impressed by the author's ability to make me do so,  LaQuette is definitely on my radar now!

Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse - My Thoughts

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

I loved it! 

When I read the first book last July, I immediately pr-ordered this one and that's something I NEVER do.  But oh, I'm glad I did!

We return to Maggie's story, some 4 weeks after the events of the previous book and our Maggie isn't really in a happy place.  Kai has not returned to her and she's trying to feel hopeful, but worry and concern and her innate pessimism is kicking in.  Suddenly, one of her bounties goes dreadfully wrong and she ends up responsible for a teenager with a strange clan power.  And thus, the adventure begins.

We meet old friends and new friends as Maggie and her 'team' track the latest danger to Dinétah to try and stop him before he can cause a new apocalyptic disaster, as well as saving Kai from his grip, and are aided and hindered along the way by some very interesting folk.

It's wonderful getting to know the Goodacre twins better and the new addition of Ben, the teenage girl with strange powers does a lot for Maggie's growth.  (I have to admit that because Ben is the name of my ex-husband, I had a bit of a struggle with it.  *LOL*)

The world expands as Maggie grows and the author does a lovely job of telling the story of both.  Her words are a joy to read, and as with the first book, there was more than one occasion of ... just one more chapter, just one more.  :)

This is one of those books where I wish I was able to write amazing reviews, because it certainly deserves it.  But, because I can't, take a look at this one... "And the waters prevailed"  I just wish I was this good.  *LOL*

So when do we get Book 3????????

Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi - My Thoughts

Fuzzy Nation - John Scalzi

I have discovered that I like John Scalzi's writing, so when I saw that he had done what he calls a 'reboot' of one of my favourite SF stories - Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper - I thought, well, okay, I can read this.  Also, a couple of my friends said they enjoyed it.

So, did I?

Yes, for the most part.  Like I said, I enjoy Scalzi's writing.  Which is a good thing, because all the lawyer talk, the scientific talk etcetera, could have been very dry and unappealing in another author's hands. 

There are a lot of differences from the original Piper novels. A lot of characters missing or retooled into other, maybe composited, characters.  The plot, while remaining true at its heart, is focused much more on the legal aspects of the story as well as the um... not-niceness of Jack Holloway.  All that is fine, but what I missed was the interaction with the Fuzzies.  How Jack grew to accept and care for them as people, not pets.  How the Fuzzies showed their sapience. I remember a scene in the original about a funeral that's stuck with me all these years.  I missed those scenes in this book.

So, yeah, I enjoyed it and would probably recommend it to others, but I wasn't as satisfied as I'd hoped I'd be.  I would totally direct people to read the original Fuzzy books by H. Beam Piper, though.  :)

Killjoy by Julie Garwood - My Thoughts

Killjoy (Buchanan, #3)  - Julie Garwood

I am still in search of a gripping contemporary romantic suspense novel/series. 

Now here's the thing.  Julie Garwood is much beloved in Romancelandia so I felt pretty confident in trying her contemporary thrillers out.  And it didn't seem like they HAD to be read in order, so that was a plus as well, seeing as I got volumes 3 and 4 on sale.  Well... I was hoping for more.

In the beginning, it felt like one of Nora Roberts' suspense romances and I'm totally down with that.  But you know what?  It was written in 2002 and it sorta shows its age.  I'm not talking about the flip phones or anything like that, but more an underlying whisper of an attitude?  I dunno, but it bugged me. I never really warmed up to Avery, the heroine and I didn't fell like I saw enough of the hero, John Paul, to really gt to know him.  And I wanted to!  He was far more intriguing.

There were a lot of little things that I found bugged me, things that could have been fixed with a good editor.  For instance, the couple is travelling over a rough back road in their car, windows up, heater blowing and oops... Avery hears the very faint noise of running water - and it's very faint when they pull off the road, roll down the windows and turn off the heater, then the car.  COME ON! 

Now there was a nifty twist at the end that I didn't figure on.  The rest of the twists were pretty much obvious, but, okay, if the book is well written, the characters intriguing, I can live with that. But other than that, the ending was very non-satisfying because Avery and John Paul were NOT TOGETHER when the vanquishing of the bad guys happened.  Talk about a lunchbag letdown! 

Anyway, I'll read the other one I have and probably more in the series if they go on sale, but this sure didn't satisfy my itch for a gripping contemporary romantic suspense read. 

The Art of Fire by Kirby Crow - My Thoughts

The Art of Fire - Kirby Crow

I always enjoy a Kirby Crow story and this was no different.  The story of  Marik, the disgraced soldier and Grey, the much younger recruit sent to second him in his lonely outpost is short - novella length - never my favourite, but I loved it anyway.  It's Kirby's writing!

Both men have secrets.  There are some magical powers.  There is a lovely sex scene and a few expressions of affection.  There is danger, a bit of intrigue and a tease of things going on in the wider world. There's even some fun banter.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable read that while being complete in and of itself, left me wanting to know more about these two characters and the wider world in which they live.  And, oh, I did love Marik very much.  :)

Midnight Exposure by Melinda Leigh - My Thoughts

Midnight Exposure - Melinda Leigh

I guess I'm not having much luck with romantic suspense this week.  I DNFed the last one and this one... well, it was just alright.  Nothing exciting really.  Definitely not enough to make me overlook the things that bugged me.

And what were those things?  Well, for one, I was getting a whiff of the misogyny that so turned me off the previous book. While the hero, Reed, did his best to be respectful and look for consent etcetera, his inner thoughts were just a tad too leery for me to be totally comfortable.  When it's the bad guy, it doesn't bother me, but in the hero?  Nope.

Then there was the instalove.  I didn't buy it. 

There was also a scene set in a Wiccan shop that was run by a woman who the author described as 60-ish.  You would have thought this woman was a doddering old fool, just because of her age. I'm here to tell you, (at 62), that we are nowhere near as ready for the home as this woman was depicted.  And maybe I could have glossed over it, but the heroine came across as rather judgmental and mean in her thoughts about the woman.  It was a small thing, but it really irritated me.

And then we came to the end.  I like my thrillers to come to a conclusion. This did not. All of a sudden, the people in danger were rescued, the bad guy got away, the MCs declared their love for each other and decided to move away.  Oh yeah, the bad guy got away.  It was totally unsatisfying. I went online and discovered that book two in the series concerns the brother of the heroine taking up the chase for the bad guy. I have it in my TBR, but honestly?  I'm not that anxious to read it. 

Concrete Evidence by Rachel Grant - My Thoughts

Concrete Evidence  - Rachel  Grant

Just far too much male gaze in this one.  The hero is a leering idiot, there's a huge plot point concerning the threat of gang rape, and it just all feels distasteful.  At this point, I'm ready to think that Rachel Grant is a pen name for a man who writes pot-boilers.

Really not my speed, sadly.  I have no idea how it rates 4+ stars on Goodreads. 

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang - My Thoughts

The Poppy War - R. F Kuang

Well.  This book was touted as one of the best of 2018 and it is nominated for a 2018 Nebula award for best novel.  I didn't like it as much as the majority of people seem to have.  I have read 5 of the 6 nominees and this was my least favourite of them. (Spinning Silver is the one I've not read.)

First off, let me say that the book is well-written read for all that.

My problem lies with expecting to see something new and different, but all I really saw were the same fantasy tropes that have been around forever.  The orphan child with the mysterious background.  The Chosen One.  Hidden magical powers. Gods run amok.  I think the only thing that was was even remotely new was that the book is set in an alternate historical China, or that's what I felt it was.  I was disappointed, and even though, like I said, the writing was good, I found that disappointment colouring my read.

My other problem was with the protagonist, Rin, the orphaned peasant girl with the dark skin. This is her story, but I felt that things were just happening to her.  I don't know that I felt her grow from her somewhat naive 16 years of age at the beginning of the book to her beaten, tortured, suffering (according to her words near the end of the book), 19 year old self.  I was told that she did, but I never FELT it.  At one point, she's yelling at one of her close friends, crying out that she's suffered fro so long, been beaten and tortured and betrayed and near killed etc... so she deserved getting her revenge, and I thought... but were you really?  I was told she did, but....  I dunno, she never really came alive for me. 

And you know, this book is rather grim-darkish.  It's not promoted as such, but I think it really is. In the last third of the book, things get very violent and dark and at times just downright horrific.

So, anyway, I really didn't get what all the big excitement was about.  Will I read the second book that's due out this summer?  Probably, but I'm not in any rush

Lost Things by Melissa Scott and Jo Graham - My Thoughts

Lost Things - Jo Graham, Melissa Scott

I thought this was a cool read.  Set in the early 1930s, a period that I'm quite fond of, it's the tale of a small aviation company run by veterans of the Great War and how they get involved in a dangerous, thrilling occult adventure with its roots back in ancient times. 

We have the three aviators, Lewis, Alma and Mitch, and the Jerry, the archaeologist.  The First World War, the Great War, left its scars on everyone that fought and these four are no different.  There are the obvious wounds, such as Jerry's missing lower leg, Mitch's abdominal scars, and there are also the mental and emotional wounds that all four suffer from.  I liked all of them and I thought the authors did a good job of introducing and portraying them.  It's the first in a series of books, so I expect to be learning more about them - especially my favourite, Mitch.  I think he was the least fleshed out, but maybe that's because he doesn't seem, right now, to be as complicated as the other three? 

So, the adventure includes an ancient evil from the time of the Emperors Claudius and Nero and possibly even before. We have a demon run amok and our quartet are on the chase.  The only real problem I had with the whole thing was the time we spent reading about the intricacies of the aircraft involved.  I didn't feel I needed to know things in such detail, either about the Terrier plane or the dirigible. The one part where I felt it worked was the big chase scene.

Now, I have to say, the book reminded me of a favourite book of one of my favourite authors - Katherine Kurtz and her Lammas Night. It also reminded me of her Templar series of books, but mostly Lammas Night.  I wonder if the authors were inspired by her? 

Anyway, I enjoyed my read and as it's the first volume of an omnibus, I have the next 2 books in the series to look forward to!  If I was one to binge read, I'd be reading them right away, but I like to space my series out for the most part. 

A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole - My Thoughts

A Duke by Default - Alyssa Cole

So this is a daunting book only because it's one of the darlings of 2018.  EVERYONE loves this book and it's a darling of Romancelandia.  So I was a little wary going into it.  The last time I read a book that was so universally loved, it was The Bollywood Bride, and I hated it.  Did not see what any of the fuss was about.

Thank God, this book was a different experience.

So, I had been advised that I didn't need to have read the first book in the series to enjoy this one, but I'll tell ya, I wish I had.  There were so many instances where the heroine's past was mentioned that had important bearing on the plot but were never explained that my wondering took me out of the story.  And the story was GREAT, so this was quite bothersome.  I STILL don't know the deal with Portia's (the heroine) sister.  And it BUGS me.  So YES, READ THE FIRST BOOK.

So, Portia is a screw up, who, it turns out, suffers from ADHD.  This explains many things about her and her issues.  I liked her.  I liked her a lot. I liked that she was smart and clever. I liked her smart mouth and like many of her friends and her sister, I often wanted to shake her to make her believe she wasn't the mess she thought she was. 

I liked the hero, Tav, the Duke by Default of the title.  He was older, 37 to her 30 (THANK GOD for mature characters!!) and your typical taciturn Scot.  And he was HOT.  And he forges weapons, swords, daggers, axes... the whole thing!  That's darned sexy.  Anyway, he hit all the right buttons for me. 

From my lofty 62 years of life, I thought that if they only would take an hour or two to actually talk about all these things that bothered each of them about themselves, the whole emotional mess could have been dealt with quickly and easily.  But we wouldn't have a story then.  *LOL*  And it was a good story, maybe a little heavy at times with the ADHD and the immigration problem, but the author's writing style is breezy and fun (a big reason why AC is a fave of mine.) which saved it from being too lecture-y. 

In the end, it was a really good romance.  I totally enjoyed it and I can easily see how it garnered so many accolades and such noisy support. Just read the first book first!

Of Sand and Malice Made by Bradley P. Beaulieu - My Thoughts

Of Sand and Malice Made (The Song of the Shattered Sands 0.5) - Bradley P. Beaulieu

So this is a big novella that takes place before the beginning of the epic series and introduces us to a teenage Cedi. It's basically the story of Ceda and her battle with the ehrehk, Rumayesh.  Ehrehks are creatures created by the gods long ago and there's nothing good about them. 

The book reads like three serial installments of a story which, for me, was a little off-putting.  Flow-wise.  A matter of personal preference, I think.  Other than that, it was a pleasure to sink into the author's writing again.

At any rate, it was cool to see more of young Ceda and indeed just to visit Sharakhai again.  We get to see a bit of other favourite characters too.  It was a fun read.

Caliban's War by James S. A. Corey - My Thoughts

Caliban's War  - James S.A. Corey

Excellent sequel to the first book of the series.  All our favourite characters have returned... well most of them.  :)  I have been firmly confirmed in my favouritism towards Amos and Chrisjen Avasarala. That being said, I love most of the characters.  And we get to meet the stellar Bobbie Draper, Martian marine extraordinaire. She and Chrisjen working together are the absolute best.

The plot of this book clips along at a decent pace and the writing style makes it an easy, fluid read.  I have to say that I've watched all 3 existing seasons of The Expanse and have found that the they're fairly faithful to the books and the changes not too jarring. 

Anyway, loved my read and am looking forward to getting to book 3, which I have on tap soon.  :)

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