Thursday, February 23, 2017
Sins of the Cities - Book 1
A new KJ Charles trilogy!! WOOT!
No one does historical m/m romance better than KJ Charles, in my honest and humble opinion. That this trilogy also holds a mystery plot line makes me very happy.
As always, the main characters are distinct and different from the norm. And as often as not, they aren't the nobility either, which I find fascinating. I always learn something when reading KJ's books. This time, we have a taxidermist and the manager of a boarding house.
Rowley, the taxidermist, is a quiet man. His childhood was violent and somewhat hopeless and these days he's most happy to spend most of his time by himself, working on his art or doing commissions for his customers. I found many of his life observations to be quite true and really enjoyed getting to know him.
The boarding house manager, Clem, is part Indian and has ties to the nobility. He also appears to be what we call 'on the spectrum'. Asperger's? Highly functioning autistic? It's never really stated because, well, these diagnoses didn't exist back in those days. I really enjoyed how Rowley was able understand him and let his true self show. That Rowley's sexual preferences seemed to dovetail quite nicely with Clem's personality and needs... well it was really well done.
And Clem's friends and co-workers... delightful! KJ does characters so well. :)
An Unseen Attraction is a sweet love story wrapped up in a mystery and tied with a lovely historical bow and I totally enjoyed it! I can't wait for the next book, coming in June and then the final book which I believe comes out in October. They are pre-ordered. KJ is one of the few authors I will preorder.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Rat Queens - Volume 1
It's gorgeous looking!
It's violent and of questionable taste!
I really really liked it. *LOL*
Desert Rising - Book 1
I loved this book. I was surprised by just how much I loved it. It was truly a delicious read. :)
I think the reason I enjoyed it so much was in good part because the characters were so beautifully drawn. The good and the bad. The main character would by Syrina, a young woman, descended from the gods, one of the ruling family of the desert who has been exiled to the remote and near barren Salt Hold for basically refusing to fall in line with her family's wishes for her. At first I found her kind of vapid and shallow, her refusal to toe the family line having mostly to do with her own discomfort. But the author shows us how Syrina grows, the choices she has and the ones she makes - not all of them wise or good, to be honest. She was real, so I didn't roll my eyes at her.
Her antagonist is her brother Raskah - a nasty piece of work. Cruel and violent, he's truly an awful young man. Like a good villain should be. :) I was expecting his story to go one way, but Blair MacG took him another way, which both disappointed and delighted me? *LOL* I know... I guess I just wanted to be clever. :)
The secondary characters, Pyrius, Shella, Riner, Ehren et al... were wonderfully drawn and full people, not types, if you know what I mean. I have my favourites and while some of them survived, other didn't. And that's a good thing! The author does not play around and I've come to respect that. Kill my faves! Go ahead, but man... make it mean something in the story. And it does.
This is one of those books that makes me wish I could write a really good and inspiring review filled with thoughtful insights and comments, but sadly, I don't have that talent.
The thing to take away is... I LOVED THIS BOOK! :)
Friday, February 17, 2017
The Song of Shattered Sands - Book 1
I became enamoured of epic fantasy back in the 70s when the big thing to read was Lord of the Rings. Elves and fairies and orcs and wizards and the like were de rigeur and I was totally along for the ride. Still am, truth be told. Today, however, things are finally changing and we're seeing more and more diverse worlds being built and mythologies and cultures being created. It's wonderful!
Twelve Kings in Sharakhai gives us a desert world filled with nomads and tribes and kings and pit fighters and street urchins and zombies and blade-wielding elite woman warriors. It's refreshingly different from much epic fantasy that I've read. There are hints of such a world in the Song of Ice and Fire books by George R.R. Martin and I think I might even see some inspiration from my favourite Guy Gavriel Kay, but make no mistake, Bradley P. Beaulieu has created something quite special and immersive, I think.
If I say that this is the story of a young girl coming into her own, starting her life journey, it sounds like the ubiquitous YA novel, but I think that'd be doing it a disservice. I dislike YA and New Adult novels, they leave me - for the most part - searching for more substance. But man, oh man, this book has some hefty substance! It's a long read, but it's fascinating. The characters are great, they have dimension and weight and substance and they all have flaws. And while the long game of the plot seems to be something read before - the overthrowing of the current powerful folk - something tells me that it's not going to be so straightforward and the journey to the end game is going to be gripping.
Now, there are a lot of flashbacks in this book and that might give some pause, but while I am generally not a fan, I didn't mind them at all. Alot of the plot has to do with the MC, Çeda's memories and the way the flashbacks play out, it's like we're remembering things along with her - things that didn't seem important but really are and the like. I don't know how it's going to play out in subsequent books, but in this one, it works for me.
So yeah, a highly-recommended read for lovers of epic fantasy and I'm definitely looking forward to the second book which I hope to get my hands on soon. :) (This book, is actually on sale at Kobo for $2.99 as I write this.)
Oh... and that cover! It's GORGEOUS!!
Thursday, February 9, 2017
I got almost 1/3rd of the way in on The Strivers' Row Spy before calling it quits. Life is too short and my TBR pile too high to continue reading a book that was only making me sigh in annoyance and wish I was doing something else other than reading.
I had high hopes too. It started with a great cover. I mean, good God, this is a gorgeous cover. It continued with a setting of a time period I like to read and the blurb made the story sound like it would be intriguing and exciting and I might even learn a few things. And, to keep all those diverse writing warriors happy, it's a story about POC and written by an MOC.
Well, a history book couldn't have been more dry.
The main character of Sidney Temple never came alive for me as more than a pedantic, boring, smug and supercilious young man. I never felt any connection or empathy or even interest in what he was doing, and I think that was because he never evinced any enthusiasm. All so bland and matter of fact. Often his conversations with the other characters became lectures. People don't really talk that way, I hope, because OMG, YAWN!! I felt as if I was being lectured and told, page after page. Show, don't tell, does not apply here.
So, I DNFed. And I feel a little guilty because I very seldom give up on a book, but again... Life is too short and the TBR pile is too big!
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
The Builders was another of my guts buys. It came up in my Kobo recs, I think and I was intrigued by the blurb and the price was right, so... I bought it. :) It's a novella and it's basically Brian Jacques Redwallesque except it's not suitable for youngsters. *LOL* Lots of violence and mayhem.
Now, one of my all-time favourite movies is The Magnificent Seven - the Yul Brynner version, of course - and as such, I'm drawn to books that feature a motley band of characters heading off on some kind of adventure or crusade or mission or whatever. And that's what we have here. It's a quick tale about a crew of not-so-noble animals heading off for what might be their final adventure.
And I liked it!
I liked Polansky's writing style and I enjoyed his character creations, even if I had to write down their names and what animals they were to keep them straight. Once I wrote them down, though, it fixed in my mind, so I'll just blame by advancing years for that. :)
Anyway, fun read and I'll be keeping Polansky's name in mind.
Monday, February 6, 2017
Novels of the Tufa - Book 1
This book was a guts buy for me when it was on sale a few weeks ago. I picked it and books 2 and 3 up at the same time just because the blurbs sounded good! And different.
We're basically talking musical fae folk in the Appalachian mountains.
The Tuatha Dé Dannan of Irish-Celtic mythology disappeared way back when, according to folklore, and in these tales, they have disappeared to Appalachian America. Tennesee. Cloud Country. And are now called the Tufa. :) I love it! This is a take I've not read before and it instantly caught my attention.
So, when The Hum and the Shiver turned out to be a really enjoyable read, I was right pleased!
It tells the tale of one of the First Daughters of one of the two Tufa clans (basically the seelie and unseelie folk) returning home a war hero after a horrific attack and imprisonment overseas. Will she claim her birthright and heal herself in mind and body or will she turn her back on the responsibilities it entails. And what about some of the other characters - what choices will they make? Accept what they are and embrace it, or not.
Now, I'm not certain if the characters we meet in this book continue their stories in the others, but I think maybe, even if they aren't the main characters of the subsequent books. Doesn't matter. I love the premise, I really enjoy Bledsoe's voice and his writing is gorgeous and easy to read, so yep, I will be reading them! Oh, and if you're a fan of Charles de Lint, you will definitely like these, IMO.
I do wonder though... what happened to Fred Blasco???????
Saturday, February 4, 2017
Tough Love - Book 2
The Talented Mr. Rivers gives me everything I expect when I pick up a HelenKay book. There is an intense, hot, steamy connection between the main characters, dangerous action that threatens the MCs, a few twists and turns and a fun and clever supporting cast. Oh, and some fun banter too.
I had one problem with this book and I know it's probably just me and I can't figure out why, but I had SUCH a problem with the names of the main characters. Hunter, the bodyguard/agent/tough guy and Will, the younger of the two, the college grad, the almost studious one, the youngest, supposedly oblivious sibling of a vicious crime family. I kept getting their names mixed up. I'd read Will and be surprised that it was Hunter and vice versa. It was very annoying and lasted through the whole book. I've never come across this specific problem before. *LOL*
Sexy, steamy suspense is what HelenKay does and it's so much fun to read. Her characters are always wonderfully larger than life and always flawed in some way or another. :) Except for Seth, I've not seen a single flaw in him yet. Maybe in the next book, his story, Guarding Mr. Fine.
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
The Expanse - Book 1
Let me begin by saying that I seldom read and truly enjoy science fiction. Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series is one that I love, the Pern books, Marion Zimmer Bradley, the Mars books by Kim Stanley Robinson as well. So I honestly wasn't expecting to be pulled into Leviathan Wakes as deeply as I was.
I had watched the first season of the TV show The Expanse (it's funny, I much prefer sci-fi TV to books and I don't know why) and loved it. Great genre TV! I had no intention of starting to read the series of books, but then one day, the first one went on sale and I thought, well, I'd heard about how good it was and how close to the show it was so why the hell not. :)
It was GOOD!! People call it a space opera. Okay, so there's not reams and reams of physics and chemistry and explanations and stuff. It's an action story as well as a bit of a noir detective tale! And I like those. There are characters who some might call stereotypes, but that sets up the exploration of the questions the plot poses. I also saw complaints about the women in the book not being represented as well as they possibly could have been. *sigh* Sometimes it's not about the women, y'know. Book 2, Caliban's War, seems to rectify that as one of the POV characters is a woman.
Anyway! Loved the book, it read along at a brisk pace, there were twists and turns, promises kept and betrayals committed and even a sacrifice or two. :) One thing I will say is that compared to the TV show, we saw pretty much NOTHING on Earth or Mars - that comes in later books. And yes, I'm hooked. Going to have to get the others in the series, but will have to wait until they go on sale. $13 for an ebook just ain't in my budget!