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.  

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.

Crescendo by Rachel Haimowitz - My Thoughts

Crescendo - Rachel Haimowitz

I've had this in my TBR pile forever it seems and I wonder why?  I loved the first book - Counterpoint - a lot, but for some reason I never got around to reading this one.  I shouldn't have waited so long.  Why?  First off, because I enjoyed it, but secondly, because it follows right on the heels of the first novel (they could really be two halves of a whole epic brick of a fantasy novel) and I had forgotten many of the little bits and bobs of the plot that would have been nice to remember reading this one.  

 

As I said, I enjoyed this one a lot.  An epic fantasy, elves, dark creatures, big battles, intimate fights, slaves and magic songs, at the heart of it is the love story between Freyrik and Ayden, man and elf.  I liked that the love story, while being  very very important, didn't overshadow the plot of the book, but was like one half of the whole.  

 

I did get the feeling, however, that near the end, the author just wanted to be finished with the story.  It felt a little rushed.  I would have liked more of Rik with the elves and how that bridge got built.  I'd have liked to see it instead of just being told about it.  I would also like to have seen more of some of the secondary characters, especially the some of the elves that we only really get to meet near the end of the book.  And I would also have like more depth to the solving of the problem of the 'dark elves'.  

 

But, I did like it a lot.  :)

 

Old Man's War by John Scalzi - My Thoughts

Old Man's War (Old Man's War, #1) - John Scalzi

I've been eyeing Scalzi's work for a while, but not being a huge sci-fi fan, I've always tended to pass over his books.  But after getting hooked on the TV shows The Expanse and Dark Matter, and reading the first of the Expanse books and loving it, I decided - after a quick check with some long time friends - that it was time for me to try Scalzi out.  It helped, of course, that the book was on a really good sale.  :)

And I liked it.  :)  Military space opera.  A protagonist that's closer to my age than most others these days and some really intriguing future world-building that wasn't too scientific for me.  I don't enjoy reading scientific treatises, you see.  And quite frankly, that's why this isn't 4 stars - there was a little too much techy-techy, OMG what are we going to become etc... for me.  I felt like this book was a good tale, a romp with some great characters and terrific bantering dialogue and those few parts that were of a techsophical bent just seemed preachy to me.

Anyhoo, I really did enjoy the book.  Enjoyed Scalzi's voice for the most part and will indeed read further in the series.  When they go on sale again.  *LOL*  The budget, man, the budget!!

 

Murder on the Last Frontier by Cathy Pegau - My Thoughts

Murder on the Last Frontier (A Charlotte Brody Mystery) - Cathy Pegau

For some reason, I expected this book to be a mystery with a f/f romance as the secondary plot (and I don't think I was the only one.).  Well... nope.  *LOL*  It's a m/f romantic subplot.  Sort of.  Vaguely.

Really, Murder on the Last Frontier is basically a cozy mystery starring a 1920s feminist on the Alaskan frontier.  Charlotte is a journalist who comes to visit her brother, a doctor, in the Alaskan town of Cordova (the town where the author lives today, so it feels really authentic).  There is a rangy assistant deputy who Charlotte finds herself attracted to in the course of solving the mystery of the murder of a young woman of the evening.

It's a good book.  I enjoyed my read even though I kept looking for the second heroine to appear.  :)  Much of my enjoyment was because I liked the character of Charlotte a lot.  She has some darkness and heartache in her background which is a large part of her coming to visit her brother.  She's kind of sassy and irreverent and I like that.

The mystery was okay, nothing spectacular, but it served to let me get to know Charlotte.  And by the end of the book, she's made some friends, a couple of enemies too and I find myself looking forward to reading some more about her.  :)

So yeah, if you like cozy mysteries in a historical setting that's different from most, then this is for you.

Knots & Crosses by Ian Rankin - My Thoughts

Knots and Crosses - Ian Rankin

Finally trying out a popular UK police procedural.  I do enjoy a good procedural.  And I enjoyed this one for the most part.

In some ways, John Rebus reminds me a little of my beloved Armand Gamache in that he's well-read, thoughtful, and somewhat tortured by things in his past.  My problem is that Rebus is also kind of a jerk.  I really didn't warm up to him much at all.  And his supporting cast wasn't all that likable either.

I thought there was a lot of faffing about in the first half of the book - a lot of delving into Rebus' psyche and woe-is-me attitudes and not a lot about the search for the burgeoning serial killer.  Which might have worked better for me had I felt a liking for Rebus.  *LOL*

As for the mystery of the kidnappings and murders, I suspected it pretty early on, but there were some twists and turns I wasn't expecting.

So, end result, it was a decent read and I'll read more about Inspector Rebus and hope that I grow to like him a little better.  :)

The Obsession by Nora Roberts - My Thoughts

The Obsession - Nora Roberts

I can always trust what I'm going to get with a Nora Roberts book and to date, I don't think I've been disappointed.  I thought this might be a first as I made my way through the first few chapters.  It was like an episode of Criminal Minds and that's not really how I want my Noras to be!  *LOL*  But then we got on with the story and things all fell into place.

All my fave elements were there, the hot hero, the heroine that I would love to share a bottle of wine and a giggle with, the supporting cast of friends and family and the obligatory dog or two.  Most importantly, the banter was there.  One of my favourite things about Nora books is the banter, indeed all the dialogue, between the characters.

In reading other reviews of this book, a lot of folks moaned about how much there was of the renovation talk.  I had no problem with it as that whole part of the plot was mirroring the inner journey of Naomi, our heroine.  What drove me nuts was the constant description of all the food!  I'm so not a foodie.  *LOL*

I enjoyed how Naomi and Xander fell in love and I totally enjoyed their courtship.  Yeah, Xander might be a little perfect, but it's a perfect I like and it makes me happy, so...  :)

The suspenseful part of the story was okay, not Nora's best nor her worst, but again, it felt like an episode of Criminal Minds and while that's one of my favourite shows, it's not really what I want in my Nora books.  I don't think it was too difficult to figure out who the bad guy was once the mystery part really got going.

Anyway, it was a Nora and I liked it.  :)

(By the way, I didn't really set out to read two books with the same title back to back, it just happened.  *LOL*)

The Obsession by Liliana Lee - My Thoughts

The Obsession - Liliana Lee

Holy steam bath, Batman!  This book is SCORCHING!

Erotic romance, emphasis on the erotic, done extremely well in my opinion.  Yes, there were a few passages of uber-flowery language, but I can overlook that.

The story is told from the POV of the Princess Shanyin, sister to the emperor who has a harem of 30 of the most gorgeous male concubines and then the very handsome Chu Yuan catches her eye and she decides that she must have him.  And thus the tale of her seduction of Yuan begins.

There's a plot here, beyond the seduction and heat which I thought added to the book, but make no mistake, this is a novella about erotic sex and it delivers.  I will be reading Books 2 and 3.  :)

Bonfires by Amy Lane - My Thoughts

Bonfires - Amy Lane

I absolutely LOVED this book.  Loved it!

The heroes of Bonfires are just south of 50 years of age and BY GOD that's amazing!  We so seldom get to see heroes in romances that are older than 35 these days... hell, most of them are in their early 20s in the m/m subgenre.  And they're ordinary guys!  No mental illnesses or diseases or infirmities to conquer along with falling in love.  Just kids and creaky bones and grey hair.  How goddamned refreshing is THAT!  I LOVED IT!

Yes, being as the story is set in a small town there are current day prejudices and bigotries to be discusses and small-mindedness and bullying to be concerned with, but these things don't take over the love story of these two, special ordinary good guys.  I don't know which one was my favourite, Aaron the deputy sheriff, or Larx, the reluctant high school principal.  (On small problem I had was that name though... Larx, short for Larkin - bugged the hell out of me for no specific reason.  Just did.  *LOL*)

And they have kids, both their own kids and students that have need of an understanding ear or a helping hand.  Smart kids.  Clever and wise kids.  Smart kids that do dumb things.  Sad kids.  Happy kids.  All kinds of flipping kids that made me laugh and smile and grumble and even cry.  The middle chapters of this book saw me becoming a blubbering mess!  *LOL*

If you read a lot of Amy's books, you know we usually see a family being formed, usually through the eyes of a young man or two.  In this case, we see the same forming of a family, but this time through the eyes of the two mature men.  It's so viscerally Amy but different.  :)   And yet, there's so much of Amy in this book, I can definitely see why she says she felt such joy writing it.

Anyway... I just loved it!  Period, full stop.  :)

Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan - My Thoughts

Age of Myth - Michael J. Sullivan

I was so excited to hear about this book - the first in a new series by one of my fave fantasy authors - and thank all the little gods, I LOVED IT!

Age of Myth tells tales from long, long ago in the world that we've come to know over the Riyria books and they aren't quite as they've been handed down over the millenia!  *LOL*

On some levels, it's your typical big fantasy book, there are elves and dwarves and humans and demons and magic and mystics, but that's just a framework.  The world-building is great - very consistent with what I have come to expect from the Riryia books, which is a good thing.  The plot works for me - others might find it similar to other things they've read before and maybe it is.  Hell, I've been reading epic fantasy for over 40 years, so yeah, many parts are familiar, but... BUT I love the author's voice and the way he creates his characters - I LOVE the characters!  They have flaws, they're not all gorgeous and capable, they have secrets and some of them have plans... BIG plans.  And as for that plot, well, I can honestly say that almost all the important twists I didn't see coming until I was expected to see them coming.

One thing that I love about Sullivan's writing is his sense of humour.  I love it!  I actually chuckle out loud while I'm reading at times.  And it's not that the book is supposed to be funny, okay, it's not Robert Asprin here.  People are funny and Sullivan knows this, so his characters are funny at times. Malcolm and Raithe especially.  Apropos of the humour, seldom am I moved to highlight passages from books, but I did this one:

"It was what the tree said to do.  And if you can't trust an ancient talking tree, what was the point of having one?" 



I loved that!!

In the end, I loved my read and I can't wait for the next book in the series to come out this summer!  (BTW, Sullivan writes his whole series before he publishes the first book, so there are no worries about not getting the end of the tale!)

Deep Deception by Cathy Pegau - My Thoughts

Deep Deception - Cathy Pegau

I've been looking for a good f/f romance to sink my teeth into, but you know what?  Most f/f romances by recced authors are out of my budget range!  I can't spent $13 on a 250 page romance novel.  I don't spend that for ANY novel if I'm honest.

Anyway, Cathy Pegau is a recommended author whose books don't cost an arm and a leg, so I've picked up a handful.  Deep Deception is the first one I've read.  It's a science fiction, suspense, romance and a good read.  It didn't satisfy my want for a good juicy romance, it's leaning more towards suspense/romance than romance/suspense if that makes any sense.  I should mention that Cathy's other 2 books in this setting of Nevarro appear to be loosely linked to this one - which is the 3rd one written - but every place I've checked confirms that the books can be read separately.

The main characters, Natalia and Gennie are interesting enough if a little sparsely drawn.  The story is told more from Natalia's POV, so she gets the lion share of introspection and backstory, but I found myself wanting to know more of Gennie's history.  Her childhood before she hooked up with the Reyes family for instance.

Somewhat formulaic but nonetheless enjoyable, I'm looking forward to reading the rest of Cathy's books in my TBR pile.

Currently reading

Airs Above the Ground
Mary Stewart
Fosse
Sam Wasson
The Magicians
Lev Grossman
The City Stained Red
Sam Sykes