Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Wisp of a Thing by Alex Bledsoe

4 Stars

Novels of the Tufa #2

I really enjoy Alex Bledsoe's voice.  His writing is easy yet rich and full.  Perfect for the subject matter of North America's fairy population. It's not an urban fantasy, it's more a contemporary, rural fantasy, I think.  Set in the Appalachian mountains and peopled with a whole bunch of unique characters, it's the place where Rob Quillan, a musician haunted by tragedy, comes in search of a song to heal him. 

Now there may be other books out there about the other-worldly creatures in this part of North America, but I can't really recall any.  As it is Bledsoe walks the perfect line of keeping the story sounding ... um, not of the city .... yet not sounding like the Clampetts.  His characters are characters, not caricatures and some you love, some you hate and some you just... know.  It's a homey book, but with an edge.  :)

And the fairy-folk themselves.  They're not the grand lord and lady types, not the ethereal little nymphs, not the austere folk we see portrayed so often.  They're good, they're bad, they're dark, they're light and they're not quite like anything I've read about before.

I think if you're a fan of Charles de Lint, you'll enjoy this series. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Pretty Face by Lucy Parker

4.5 Stars

London Celebrities - Book 2

I loved it.  Pure and simple. I loved it like I loved the first book in the series.  It's fun and it's sexy and it's honestly a joy to read, just in the way it's crafted. 

Back when I was a tween, hell, I guess I'd have been about 10 or 11 (1966/1967 to put it in time frame), I started reading the Penny Parrish books by Janet Lambert.  Sweet, teenage type romances that followed Army kid Penny through her teenage to her adult years.  And Penny became a famous Broadway actress who ended up marrying her director and it was MARVELOUS!  Then, a few years later, I read one of my first Harlequin Romances - Kay Thorpe's Curtain Call (1971) and absolutely loved it.  So much that other than my Janet Dailey collection, it's the only Harlequin of hundreds that I've read that I have left on my bookshelves.  Lucy Parker's books bring me back to that time and remind me of the dreams I had as a girl, to be a stage actress (didn't happen *LOL*, but I still love the dream).  I feel the same way reading Lucy's books as I did back then and I like the feeling - it's a good one.

The characters are terrific and never perfect, even the secondary or thirderary.  *LOL*  I know, I made up that word, it should be tertiary, I think.  Anyway, Lucy's characters, while they are bigger than life, which, of course, they are or who'd want to read about them, they are also relatable with flaws and not so nice traits at times.  I especially liked the way Margo, the hero's ex, was portrayed.  Her emotions and motivations when dealing with Lily and Luc are real and understandable.  She's not a martyr, nor is she a bitch.  I liked that!

Another important thing that I loved was that the author navigated the pitfalls of the power imbalance between the big director and the young actress very well.  It never felt icky or anywhere near #metoo-ish.  Luc was always respectful and mindful of the power imbalances as was Lily and they spoke about them.  So, kudos to Lucy!  That could have gone very wrong.

One thing that Lucy weaves throughout her stories is a sense of fun and witty humour.  I love it!  I've even laughed out loud while reading.  Which brings me back to the girl I once was.  Back in the day, my best friend, Cat, and I used to devour romances - Harlequins, Heyers, Silhouettes... we'd sit and read, different books, and read out delightful passages to each other and then... we'd trade books!  Had we had Lucy Parker's books back in the day, there would be a ton of passages read out loud and then, I'm pretty sure we'd make sure we each had our own copies.  :) 

Oh, read these books!  Sexy and fun and I just love them!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Borderline by Mishell Baker

3.5 Stars

The Arcadia Project - Book 1

I picked up this book after reading this review by KJ Charles (one of my fave authors).  I don't read everything that KJ recs, because some of it isn't my cup of tea, but many of the books she recommends I eventually pick up and try out.  I've not been disappointed yet!

So I found this book, the first in the The Arcadia Project series, fascinating for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, the main character who narrates the story, Millie, is one of the most intriguing main characters I've read in a long while.  I can't say it better than KJ does in her review (so if you didn't read it, go and click the link and READ IT!).  What I can say, is that I grew to really LIKE her by the end of the book and can't wait to see what she gets up to in the next book. 

Secondly, I liked the way the two worlds/realities were treated.  Sure, we didn't see anything of the fairy realm itself, just some of the creatures and beings that inhabit it and cross over into our world. I have to hope that we see more of it and learn more of it in the next book.

So, even though I'm not a huge fan of urban fantasy/paranormal, I really did enjoy this one and will be adding the second novel to my list.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Panacea by F. Paul Wilson

3.5 Stars

The ICE Sequence - Book 1

F. Paul Wilson is a favourite author of a bunch of my friends and one of them recommended Panacea to me, knowing I enjoy a good thriller.  And I did enjoy this one.  :)

It's a typical thriller in that there's a lot of action, a bunch of twisty turny investigations, bad guys with big guns and lots of power, good guys with a bit of mystery in their pasts, and a possible world-wide disaster to be avoided.  There's also a cute kid and some ancient mythology. 

The book reads lickety split, thanks to some great pacing by the author and chapters that don't run into the 30+ page realm.  I'm a firm believe that short chapters help give a book an aspect of  "can't put it down" or "just one more chapter before I sleep" type of thing.  The characters aren't really complex, but they are believable in a thriller sort of way.  And they're likable - well the good guys anyway - and that, for me, is important.  I especially liked Rick Hayden and his sense of humour.  I also liked him together with Laura Fanning.  There's going to be some romance, somewhere along the line, but there's little of it here, just the pair getting to know each other and starting to trust each other as they search.

I like the idea of ancient history and ancient mysteries being explored and the whole secret societies thing.  I find it all quite fascinating. 

Wilson, I think, is more known for his horror books - Repairman Jack and the like - but there's not much horror in this book.  One scene though.... near the end... well, I guess it was more gross than horror, but EWWWWW!  *LOL*

I think if you enjoy books like the Sigma Force books by James Rollins, you'll enjoy this.  I know I'll be looking to add Book 2 to my library.  :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

It Takes Two to Tumble by Cat Sebastian

3.5 Stars

Seducing the Sedgwicks - Book 1

This first of a projected series was recommended all over my Twitter feed as being a fun, sexy read.  And the recs weren't wrong.  :) 

The two main characters were a little different from the norm.  A ship's captain and a vicar.  I liked their characters.  Phillip, the widowed naval captain with the three unruly children is a grumpy, clueless, stern and standoffish fellow who we soon learn actually does have a heart under that disciplined exterior.

Benedict, or Ben, the vicar, is a sweetheart.  Takes care of everyone.  Good humoured and understanding and endowed with a huge heart, he's the perfect foil for Phillip. 

I honestly can't say that any new ground in historical, gay romances was broken here, but it's certainly a fun and entertaining read.  The love story is sweet and believable, the sexytimes are hot, and the children aren't little paragons of cleverness or virtue or old beyond their years. 

I enjoyed it quite a bit!  And I'm looking forward to the next in the series. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Jade City by Fonda Lee

4 Stars

The Green Bone Saga - Book 1

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.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Tyrant's Throne by Sebastien de Castell

4.5 Stars

The Greatcoats - Book 4

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!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Beyond the Empire by K. B. Wagers

4.5 Stars

The Indranan War - Book 3

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 again, Renzii!)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

After the Crown by K.B. Wagers

4.5 Stars

The Indranan War - Book 2

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?

Monday, February 12, 2018

Behind the Throne by K. B. Wagers

4.5 Stars

The Indranan War - Book 1

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!!