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.  

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!!

Dim Sum Asylum by Rhys Ford - My Thoughts

Dim Sum Asylum - Rhys Ford

Rhys Ford is one of my go-to authors.  She never disappoints, not really, not even with a book that's not that stellar, such as this one.  And I say not that stellar, but I'm still giving it 3.5 stars.

There's a lot of good stuff here.  A couple of great main characters, the POV character being Senior Inspector Roku MacCormick of the Chinatown Arcane Crimes Division of San Francisco.  He's telling the story.  He's part faerie, part human and has suffered some tremendous losses in his life.   He's cranky and cynical a lot of the time and of course, I took to him immediately.

His partner, his new partner, Trent Leonard, is a big handsome hunk of a man, but I felt like we hardly got to know him.  Yeah, his backstory was there and all, but I really never got the feeling I knew him the way I've gotten to know so many of Rhys' characters.

The setting is great and the plot works well.  There's a lot of magic in this version of San Francisco and Rhys makes it all work quite nicely.  We are immersed in Chinese culture, but there was just so much of it that was just there... never explained to one like me who is not familiar with a lot of it.  I would have liked either a little more explanation of what was either food, drink, holy relic, a piece of clothing - there were times I was never sure and that tended to take me out of the story.

I also found that there was a lot... a whole helluva lot of description of things.  Places, especially.  Too much of it for my taste.  Now, I have a theory.... this book was originally a short story in an anthology that was expanded into a novel and I wonder if what I was finding too much was due to the expanding of something already written?  Maybe.  But the thing is, the story didn't really need it!  I wanted more character, maybe more interaction with the secondary characters who I really enjoyed and maybe just more discussion between Roku and Trent that wasn't all about the hot sex.  But OMG, the sex was hot!  There wasn't a ton of it - a lot of tension though.  A LOT!

Anyway, should this turn into a series, I won't complain.  I want to know more about Roku and Trent and Roku's family and friends and the world.

An Unnatural Vice by KJ Charles - My Thoughts

An Unnatural Vice - K.J. Charles

I honestly have yet to be disappointed in a KJ Charles book.  An Unnatural Vice continues that positive string.  It was terrific!

In An Unnatural Vice, we get the story of Nathaniel Roy who we met in the first book of the series, a friend of Clem's, the illegitimate earl's son and a journalist.  He's out to expose a spiritualist, Justin Lazarus, who just happens to be tied to the over-arching plot of the trilogy.

Of course, the two men are drawn to each other despite their mutual distrust.  There's just some kind of spark that quickly grows into a bonfire and it works!  It's not insta-love, it's insta-lust.  And that's okay because the author is just that good that we can see why they're so drawn to each other and it makes sense.

Alot of the reviews etc... that I've read of this book indicate that Justin is a total bastard, but you know what?  I never saw him that way. Yes, he's not exactly an honest or upright man, but it's clear from the beginning, at least it was to me, that he had his own code of morals and while they might not be all pure and altruistic, they are constant and he lives by them.  Sure, he makes his living by bilking what folks would consider innocent people, but those were the cards he was dealt and what was the alternative?  So no, I didn't think he was a right bastard at all.

I will say that Justin was the more intriguing character of  the two men.  Nathaniel, the crusading journalist doesn't have many grey areas and at times he even came across as a tad snotty about being 'the good guy', but he's also charming and amusingly deprecating at times and this warmed me to him. He is really the perfect foil for Justin and the two of them falling in love was fun to read.

There is lots of action, both in and out of the bedroom and the mystery plot barrels along to an interesting and satisfying second act climax.  I am looking forward to Book 3 - already pre-ordered, something I very seldom do - and seeing what comes of Mark, another of the friends, the private investigator, excuse me, the private enquiry agent and Pen, the young man he's discovered.  I only have to wait until October.  :)

Stiletto by Daniel O'Malley - My Thoughts

Stiletto - Daniel O'Malley

Sad to say that I didn't enjoy Book 2 as much as I enjoyed Book 1, The Rook.  I can put it down to too much infodumping and backstory and not enough story set in current times with the current action.  As well as there not being enough of Myfanwy Thomas, the lead character from Book 1.

The main focus of this book is really twofold, two main characters.  First we have Pawn Felicity Clements, the Checquy soldier/bodyguard who is set to 'babysit' the Grafter girl, Odette Leliefeld.  One of the best things about the story is the relationship between the two young women.  I wanted more of that.  Originally they dislike (hate?) each other, filled with distrust and suspicion but gradually, over time and adventures, that changes and they become friends, even close friends.  I actually liked both of them quite a bit but felt that I would much rather be in 'their' story than reading back over their pasts - mostly Odette's.

Myfanwy is around, she's the boss and she's the one trying to broker the deal between The Checquy and the Grafters to join forces and fight the big, horror bad guys.  She sees things very pragmatically and clearly and knows what has to be done.  I liked how both young women seemed to look to her as a type of role model even though she's really only about 5 or so years older than they are.

The plot was windy and twisty and involved a splinter group of the Grafters and even some monsters popping up from God knows where.  I would have preferred more thought be given to this part of the book than the set up and world-building (really infodump backstory filler author masturbation, if you ask me) and that would have made it hang together better and kept me turning the pages far past the time I should have been asleep.

So... good book, good read, but not as good as I was hoping or expecting.

Oh, I have to say, the artist who did the cover art, one Lindsey Andrews did a STELLAR job!  In my ereader this cover looks as if there's a big crack in my screen!  I kept doing double takes when I'd catch a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye.  Big kudos!!

The World of Cherry by Kay Brandt - My Thoughts

The World of Cherry - Kay Brandt

Not much thinking here!  *LOL*  It's erotica.  Explicit f/f erotica and there's a bit of a plot and a bit of characters to be found.  

 

It is what it is and that's okay. 

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey - My Thoughts

River of Teeth - Sarah Gailey

I first heard about River of Teeth through one of the reading blogs I follow and I bought the novella for the simple reason that the blurb got me.  Especially this part:

Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.


Feral hippos and hippo wranglers??  What?  Talk about an original idea!  I was sold.  I pre-ordered the book right away - a couple of months ago - and I hardly ever pre-order books.

 
It was not a wrong decision - I loved it!  The characters were original and interesting and bound together in interesting ways.  They kept me wanting to read page after page, fascinated and dying to see what they were going to get up to.  And the hippos... the HIPPOS!  I loved all of them. 
 
The world-building in this tale is intriguing even if it's a bit ... out of whack as per the author's note at the beginning of the book.  Who cares... IT WORKS!  And the story itself is a rollicking, fun, banter-filled adventure.  
 
And back to the characters.  They are a really diverse bunch.  Race, colour, creed, sexuality... hell, it's all diverse and not made a big deal of really which works just fine for me.  I like when the diversity is just a given in a story and not a plot point.  My only real problem was ... well, mechanical?  There is a character who is ... gender non-conforming?  I think that's the label.  Anyway, the character uses the 'they' pronoun.  Which is totally fine, but I've discovered that at the age of 60 and having 55 years of reading under my belt, when I read the words 'they' or 'them' or 'their' ... my brain looks for/understands multiple people and a couple if times I had to go back and see if the character was alone or had someone tagged along in the scene.  I suppose with more of these types of characters my brain will get used to it, but it was something that impacted me as I read. BTW, I adored the character in question!  :)  
 
My only real complaint is that it was too damned short!  I wanted a novel, not a novella.  Yes, it ended with a cliffhanger of sorts, but not one that made me want to send the ereader for a sail across the room.  Still, the characters were so good, the alternate reality so interesting that I wanted a lot more of it.  :)
 
Oh, and look at that lovely cover!  
 
The second book in the duology just went up for preorder today.  It's called Taste of Marrow.  And yes, I have pre-ordered it.

The Wrong Woman by Cass Lennox - My Thoughts

The Wrong Woman - Cass Lennox

I am totally the wrong person for this book.  I read it as a Riptide Advance Read and didn't realise that it was SO New Adult.  I was hoping for a good lesbian romance but that's not what I felt I got.  

 

I did not like either of the main characters, I thought they were totally self-absorbed, arrogant, and completely clued out about how to go about having any kind of relationship.  And the inner dialogue.  It was constant.  CONSTANT.  And irritating.  I wish I had a dollar for every time one or the other thought "UGH".  I could have a good shop for books, let me tell you.  

 

I don't know, if I hadn't been reading it for Riptide, I would have DNFed it by the end of the 3rd chapter.  

 

But that being said... I'm fairly sure the fault lies mainly with me and not the book itself.  Maybe the young people out there will like it?  I really hope they're not all like the ones in the book - even the secondary and tertiary characters.  I honestly didn't find anything romancey about it (I still don't know why the MCs are together other than that they're hot) at all and as for the mystery at the centre of the plot, well, it was more an afterthought than anything else, it seemed to me. Sadly. 

 

This just re-affirmed that New Adult romances are not for me one little bit.

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding - My Thoughts

Retribution Falls - Chris Wooding

Have you been missing Firefly and Captain Mal and his crew?  If so, give Retribution Falls a try!  Mind you, Captain Frey is somewhat grungier and somewhat less um... scrupulous and savoury.  :)

So we have pirates, we have air ships - rust buckets and sleek cruisers and huge frigates, we have pirate towns, we have manors, we have out of the way religious abbeys, we have cutlasses and guns and daemons and golems and so many diverse and wonderful things!

The crew of the Ketty Jay is the very definition of motley, down to Slag, the ship's feline.  All of them have something in their past that has made them outcasts of some sort or another and throughout the book, we get to learn their stories one by one.  In between the space battles, heists, and breakouts they all get fleshed out and we come to appreciate both the good things about them and the flaws.

Retribution Falls is a rollicking steampunky adventure peopled with cool and interesting characters, a social system in upheaval and enough magic to make it fun.  :)  It reads like watching a TV show - like Firefly! - and I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading the next of the Ketty Jay tales.

Seduction for Beginners by Jae

Seduction for Beginners - Jae

Seduction for Beginners is a short story that I read last night when I couldn't decided what book I wanted to read next.  I haven't included it in my lists as a book read, because honestly. at less than 15,000 words, it's not really a book in my mind.

Anyway, this was a really cute, sexy story about the first time a couple gets intimate, all the way.  And it was truly the best of the lesbian romance stuff I've read lately.  There was really no angst, there was no dead previous partner, no deathly diseases, no crazed exes, no heart-broken character.  Annie, half of the couple, is only recently come out (there was a book that preceded this story, but I've not read it.) and her partner, Drew is the more knowledgeable one.  Drew is letting Annie be the guide in the physical aspects of this relationship, taking things at the speed she's comfortable with.  And now, Annie has decided that it's time to go all the way, as we used to say back in the day.  :)

It was cute, it was sexy, it was fun and I really liked the author's voice.  Now, if only her books were a reasonable price or would go on sale, I'd read more of her!  :)

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan - My Thoughts

Promise of Blood  - Brian  McClellan

I enjoyed this book far more than I thought I would and I don't know why I held off reading it for so long.

Promise of Blood is a military fantasy filled with political intrigue and not a little magic.  It has everything I like in it, an engaging plot that's full of believable twists and turns, characters that are flawed but have redeeming qualities and have logical reasons for doing what they do, and a world that's familiar yet different.  As I read, I found myself laughing in some places, tearing up a time or two, sitting on the edge of my seat anxiously and even cheering a time or two.  And for a change, most of the characters are over the age of 25!

McClellan's world-building is nifty.  It took me a bit to catch on to what everything meant, to be a Marked, a Privilege, Knacked and how gunpowder and munitions fit into things, but once I decided to just let it flow and not worry about things, it all became easier.

I think much of that is that McClellan is just a good storyteller.  He kept my attention and the pages turning with great anticipation.  This was one of those books that I was anxious to finish but damned reluctant to reach the end.

I hope the second book in the series goes on sale soon so I can add it to the TBR.  I need to know more about what happens to all my new friends but I can't afford the $13 it'll cost me for ebook right now.  But it's most certainly on the list... HIGH on the list!

Oh, and look at that cover!  I'd hang that on my wall, it's that cool!

Design for Dying by Renee Patrick - My Thoughts

Design for Dying - Renee Patrick

Oh my, this was fun to read!  I am so glad it has a great cover because it was the cover that originally caught my eye.  One of the women I follow on Twitter is a librarian whose job includes purchasing the books for the library and she likes to tweet out book covers and give her thoughts on them.  So, she tweeted this cover, I was intrigued, I went to check the blurb and promptly added it to my 'to acquire' list.  It recently went on sale (as of this writing it's still $2.99 at Kobo) so I was very quick to pick it up.

And it's delicious!!  I love the setting - 1937 Hollywood.  The characters are terrific.  The heroine, Lillian Frost is right out of one of those detective movies of the 30s and 40s and I liked her right away.  I've been a huge fan of Edith Head for decades and love the way the authors (Renee Patrick is the pseudonym for the husband and wife team of Rosemarie and Vince Keenan.) have portrayed her.  The other supporting characters are perfect.  Gene, the stalwart police detective.  Vi, Ready and Kay friends of Lillian's who are wonderfully quirky.  Even the suspects in the murder case are great.  Some might call them all stereotypical, but they all evoke the genre so well that it's delightful!

I honestly felt like I was watching a movie.  Everything worked.  Even the plot of the mystery.  I thought person X did it, then maybe it was person Y then maybe it was Z and B working together, then back to X again all the while waiting for the one clue that would make me believe it was person N coming in from left field.  *LOL*

I guess one would term this a cozy style mystery even if it does take place in the decadent environs of Hollywood.  And I'll admit, they are not my favourite, but this one... I LOVED IT!   Can't wait to read the second one!

I highly recommend this - especially if you're a mystery fan and an old-time Hollywood fan.

Finding Ms. Write by Various Authors - My Thoughts

Finding Ms. Write - Jove Belle, Elaine Burnes, Lea Daley, A.L. Brooks, Anastasia Vitsky, Melissa Grace, Cori Kane, Hazel Yeats, Chris Zett, Jacelle Scott, Kathy Brodland, Jae

Finding Ms. Write is an anthology of 12 f/f contemporary romance stories and I thought it a perfect way to discover some new authors without breaking my bank.  *LOL*  You see, most of the f/f authors that are recommended by folks publish with publishers that A) never seem to go on sale and B) sell their novels for $13 a piece.  Not conducive to exploring a genre.  And quite honestly, Bold Strokes Books and Ylva Publishing should take a look at that if they want to expand beyond their comfy genre niche.  I love romance of all sorts, but quite honestly, they don't make it easy.

So, on to the book.  The stories were well-written and somewhat engaging for the most part, but what struck me was that they all seemed to have main characters who had either been dumped/widowed/deserted in some way.  Is this a big f/f trope?  The anthology didn't seem to be going for that - it's supposed to be about the publishing industry - but it seemed that every last one of these ladies had some tragedy in their past.

For the most part, all the romances are very sweet.  Not much steam or heat happening, which disappointed me.  I like my romances to have some physical oomph to them.  There was just an element of blandness to many of the tales and characters.  Maybe blandness is not the right word... I don't know.  I just found most of them too calm for me maybe.  On the plus side, the majority of the characters weren't wet behind the ears kidlets under the age of 25.  It was refreshing to read about mature women - except jeez, did they all have to have lost a love?

One thing really irritated me though... I really don't need to be reading a romance story about a main character who has early on-set Alzheimer's to deal with.

In conclusion, I will say that Finding Ms. Write was a nice read, filled with nice stories about nice people.  Nice.

Currently reading

Breath of Stone (Desert Rising Book 2)
Blair MacGregor
Fosse
Sam Wasson
The Magicians
Lev Grossman
The City Stained Red
Sam Sykes