Sunday, September 17, 2017

Hunter and the Grape by Eoin C. Macken

4 Stars

I do love Eoin Macken's writer's voice.  He has lovely turns of phrase and a thoughtful way of seeing things that verges on the poetic at times.  Which shouldn't suprise me, he does write poetry.
I loved Eoin' s first book, Kingdom of Scars, and was looking forward to reading this, his next offering.  Now these books are not in genres that I often, if ever, read.  Gonna be honest, I read the first one because I love Eoin on TV and was curious.  I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that the man could write!  And write well!

So, Hunter and the Grape.  I didn't love it as much as I loved Kingdom of Scars, I will admit.  This time, the hero is a little older - he's eighteen and his life just totally sucks.  He leaves home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, meets up with a girl and the adventure begins.  This book would make a terrific movie.  I found it reminiscent of My Own Private Idaho, Heathers, Beautiful Thing and What's Eating Gilbert Grape.

Reading this book made me wish I was 16 again.  Not because I want to live my life over or anything, but because then I could enjoy this book totally and fall in love with Cat/Hunter, the main character and wish I was Grape.  They're so screwed up, but not.  They get into so much trouble and then get out of it.  They can make $87 stretch FOREVER.

It's a beautifully written book.  I love Eoin's words.  This is YA literature, in my humble opinion.  :)



Friday, September 15, 2017

Camber of Culdi by Katherine Kurtz

4.5 Stars

Book One of The Legends of Camber of Culdi

Every once in a while I get the urge to revisit old favourites and Katherine Kurtz's Deryni novels are definitely faves of mine.  I think the Camber books and the Heirs of Camber books are some of Katherine's strongest work.

Yeah, there's stuff in here that might be problematic these days - I mean, it was originally published in 1976 - but I can deal with that.  I'm happy to say that although I notice the problems over 40 years later (with a few rereads between), they don't impinge on my enjoyment of the book.

Magic, intrigue, memorable characters, tension, humour, tragedy, it's all here.  I still cry at certain passages and chuckle out loud at others.  (More crying than chuckling in this one.)

Yeah, still faves, even 40+ years later.  :)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Taste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey

3.5 Stars

River of Teeth #2

I pre-ordered this book (something I very very seldom do) because I enjoyed the first, River of Teeth, so much.  It was fresh it, it was different, it was intriguing and it was well written and peopled with lovely characters.  This book, Taste of Marrow, was still all that, but at a lower level, I'm afraid.

Now, both books are novellas and I honestly think the story suffered from that in two ways.  First off, I felt that the story over both needed more fleshing out.  I wanted more... depth?  No, because what's there is plenty deep enough, but it just seemed that I wasn't getting the whole story as I should be.  I wanted more meat.

And secondly, I don't know why it had to be split over two novellas.  The first half of this one, I didn't really understand why one of the main characters was so manically obsessed with finding one of the others - big love notwithstanding.  I still don't get why it was so manic and I suppose I'd have to go back and read the first one again to see.  And I only read that one in May!  Anyway, put them both together in one normal sized novel - it would only be 75K words or 260 some odd pages.  Not even CLOSE to epic.  *LOL*   I also had trouble remembering why one of the bad characters was so important to the whole story.  So yeah... a single novel please?

The other thing that I found bothered me again was the gender-neutral use of the pronoun 'they'. It's bloody confusing, I'm sorry.  I apologise if that sounds insulting in anyway.  I have absolutely NO problem with gender-neutral/fluid people.  It's just that the word, after 55+ years of reading and 60 years of talking indicates more than one person to me.  I was confused so many times looking for the second or other people in the scene.  It brought me up short and took me right out of the story.  Which saddens me because I had to take off a .5 star for that because it did impact my enjoyment of the book.

So yeah, I was somewhat disappointed by Taste of Marrow.  I do hope the author continues to write in this universe however, and maybe even with some of the same characters.


Monday, September 11, 2017

The Mystery of Nevermore by C.S. Poe

3 Stars

Snow & Winter Book One

I was vaguely disappointed by this book.  I say vaguely because it wasn't a bad read, it just didn't satisfy me the way I was hoping it would. I mean, it has some of my fave tropes - the shop owner and the cop, a mystery or two, the promise of a series of adventures, even a holidayish setting.  It just never clicked for me.

One problem I had with with it was the shop owner main character.  He suffers from achromatopsia, which is total colour blindness.  He only sees in shades of grey/white/black and is extremely light sensitive.  Now that's not a problem in and of itself, it's just that I spent at least half the book wondering how he saw things and how he could do certain things.  Not that the author didn't explain things, she did.  It just took a hold in my mind and the wondering would not stop!  It was very distracting.

And then there was the instalove.  Now.. I find that as I get older, instalove has begun to lose some of its lustre.  Especially when the characters aren't new adult age, but one is 33 and the other is 42.  Insta- LUST, I will buy.  Big time interest?  Most certainly.  But in this case, Sebastian and Cal seemed to get deep really, really fast and for no perceptible reason that I could see.  If anything, the subplot of Sebastian breaking up with his boyfriend, Neil, should have made impeded the whole deepness thing, IMO.  Sufficient to say that I wasn't buying it. Now, I do think the characters will grow on me.  I hope, anyway.  I liked many of the basic traits etc... that were set down in this first book of the series.

I liked many of the secondary characters as well.  Seb's father, Cal's partner, Seb's antique store employee and Seb's store neighbour.  They all seemed pretty authentic and I hope we see more of them as the series continues.  I also hope that the mystery will be a little more weighty - I like it when the mysteries are as important to the story as the love story, but I didn't get that here.  It felt to me like the mystery was created so the guys could have some hot sex.  So maybe, next book, a little more sleuthing and a little less dancing in the sheets?  And some more delving into the emotions of the MCs would e nice too.

I did find that there was more than an echo of the Adrien English mysteries by Josh Lanyon, but thank heavens I didn't dislike one of the MCs the way I do Adrien's erstwhile cop lover.  I do believe that if you're a fan of the Lanyons, you'll enjoy this book.  So, all in all, the book just left me, as I said, vaguely disappointed.  But I will be continuing the series.  :)  Oh, and BTW, I love the covers of these books.  They are nicely evocative, I think.




Friday, September 8, 2017

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

4 Stars

I really enjoyed this book!  I'm a fan of Elizabeth Bear's, even thought sometimes I think her writing is too smart for me to actually get.  *LOL*  I had been looking forward to reading Karen Memory since it was published and finally, it went on sale and I could afford the ebook.  All I knew about it was that Elizabeth wrote it, it was steampunk, the heroine was lesbian, and all the buzz was really good.

But when I started it.... OMG, my stomach sank because there were two things that are generally a 'no way José' type of thing for me.  The character speaking in dialect, hell, the whole narrative in dialect when it comes to that because it's a 1st person POV and the heroine being young, like YA/NA young.  This did not bode well.

But you know what?  I soon forgot that the heroine was of tender years, so to speak.  Yeah, she was young, but she wasn't that annoying young that so many of the YA/NA characters I have read are.  And the dialect?  Well, I can see how it might be problematic for some - the should haves and could haves and would haves were all should of, could of and would of, which would normally drive me absolutely apeshit, but oddly enough, it didn't bother me.  Shocking, I know.  (Had she thrown in a verse in place of versus, I may have felt differently.  *LOL*)  But the character of Karen had come alive very quickly and this is how she talked and it was okay.  :)

What we have here, is the tale of Karen Memery (that's the actual spelling of her name), and what happens when a badly injured girl comes begging sanctuary at the door to the bordello where Karen works, setting in motion adventures and mysteries.  The action is exciting and seldom lets up.  The characters are all terrific - the girls and staff of the bordello, the lawmen, the villains.  Even the animals!  *LOL*

Karen Memory is one of those books where I wish I could write decent reviews to do it justice.  Suffice it to say that it's a rollicking adventure with a diverse and fascinating cast and a real sense of humour and fun.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Dark Matter by Michelle Paver

3.5 Stars

This book is pretty much outside my comfort zone.  Atmospheric ghost stories aren't something I'm drawn to and the only reason I read this one was because a good friend said it was one of the best books she'd ever read.

I will admit that it is a well-written book and it catches you from the get-go, but I also have to say that I totally disliked the main character for the first 1/3rd of the story.  And that's a big deal when the book is written for the most part as a journal.  I never truly liked him though.  I was also glad that the book was only a little over 200 pages.

Did it work as a ghost story?  Yes.  It evoked the spooky, solitary world of the Arctic quite well and the loneliness was genuinely depicted.  (Can I say that?  It sounds odd.) The thoughts and musings of Jack, the main character were very believable and I finally came to find him somewhat sympathetic and thus grew concerned for his well-being for the duration of the book.

Now, the book is set in 1937 and it FEELS like 1937 which is just fine.  Some things, were they said/done today would be found quite ... unacceptable?  But that's how things were in 1937.  I'm OK with that.  The book was published in 2010 but quite honestly, it felt like it could have been released back in the 30s or 40s.  And seeing as it's a journal for the most part, I'd say that's a success.

The book is very British.  Good thing too, seeing as it's main characters are British.  :)  I think it would make a terrific spooky movie.  No blood & gore that is so popular these days, but a truly mind-fucking suspenseful movie.

So yes, good book.  I would recommend it highly to anyone who enjoys ghost stories and spooky stuff.  I see why my friend loved it so much.  That's not my bag, though, so it gets a bit of a lower rating because of that.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Bay of Sighs by Nora Roberts

4 Stars

The Guardians Trilogy - Book 2

After the disappointment of my last read, I needed a sure thing, so I picked up one of my trusty go-to's and that's La Nora.  Nora's always an easy read for me.  I find myself reading just one more little bit, just one more bit.  *LOL*

I discovered that one of the reasons I enjoy Nora's trilogies concerning 3 couples is that there's always a sense of a family coming together.  The guys banter with the girls and the girls banter with the guys and they all banter with each other and I end up chuckling like a crazy person.  :)  Yes, they might seem repetitive from one trilogy to another, but it's a pleasant repetition.  I love the friendships that get formed and I honestly think they mean more to me than the romances.

This book, book 2, is the story of the mermaid and the traveller.  She's so funny and innocent of the ways of the land.  I find her verbal faux pas very amusing.  I also find her freedom and honesty refreshing.  She seems so fragile and while I might be like Sawyer, the traveller, and want to protect her, she's fully capable of taking care of herself.  

The romance is great, as always.  I enjoy the OTTness of the love scenes, something that doesn't carry from one author to another.  but as I said before, it's the friendships that often bring me to tears.  And I usually, probably always, tear up reading a Nora.  *LOL*

So, when the 3rd book Isle of Glass is no longer $13.99, I'll be picking it up.  Even though I'm pretty damned sure I know how the trilogy ends, I'm going to enjoy the way it gets there.  :)


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Blood Gospel - James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

2.5 Stars

The Order of the Sanguines Book 1

I wanted to like this book so much!  It sounded like such interesting fun from the blurb and I enjoyed the James Rollins book I read earlier this year, so I was looking forward to another action-filled thriller with some cool religiously supernatural overtones.  Vampire priests!  Woot!

Ugh.

That's not what I got.

First off, the female lead, the heroine, Erin... well, she spent half her time hiding behind the big, strong, blond, soldier protector guy who could make her warm with just a faint touch in the midst of all the danger of the damned world.  Every time something remotely dangerous approached, there was the big dumb hero thrusting her behind him.

Speaking of big dumb hero, his name was Jordan, which is fine.  Jordan is a unisex name.  The only problem with this is that Jordan is a name I have used in my own writing for years as a woman's name.  So that bugged me from beginning to end.  *LOL*  Most people probably won't have this problem though.

Overall, this book had a really sexist vibe to it. Not only was Jordan 'protecting' Erin every chance he got and not only were the both of them getting turned on by the slightest of things in the midst of great danger or focus, the whole plot of the book hinged on sex it seemed.  Now I know that vampires are supposed to be sexy and all, but neither author is very good at writing sexy to prove it for one thing - and for another it all read like the downfall of all the good and holy came at the hands of the woman and her seduction of the defenseless priest.

I also felt that some of the ideas were really good and could have been expounded upon more but the authors maybe didn't have the facility to go deeper?  I dunno... I felt they missed the mark on a lot of the historical stuff.  And there was A LOT of historical stuff in this book - maybe too much.  Masada, Christ's Life, Saint Peter, Hitler, Rasputin, the siege of St. Petersburg, medieval Hungary.... just so so so much and alot of it just glossed over.

But of course we have the improbable love story of Erin and Jordan - oh, did I mention that I think the story takes place over 2 days - 3 max?   Yeah, well, the number of times that we were treated to adolescent reactions from both of these characters was really over the top.

I could go on because so much of this book left me unsatisfied.  And in the end... well... we don't really get much closure at all.  Oh... Erin and Jordan like each other.  *RME*  I don't know that I'll pick up the second book in this series.  Maybe, but I doubt it.  I think I'll probably stick to Rollins' Sigma Force novels instead for ridiculous, crazy action thrillers.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

3.5 Stars

Wayfarers Book 1

Let me be clear from the get-go.  I think many readers would rate this book with at least 4 stars, even 5, but quite honestly, I'm not the ideal reader for this book, so MY rating is a little lower.  I just don't want people to miss a fun, well-written, diversely cast, thoughtful, filled with love book.

My problem with the book is that the plot was little more than a wisp of smoke in an evening breeze.  I need a plot, really I do.  And this world/universe was built in a way that a whole BUNCH of plots could have been explored.  But the author didn't go there with her diverse merry band of  'tunnellers', wormhole builders if you will.  Instead she went for exploring the characters and their backgrounds and how this biggest job of their lives manages to affect them all in a very profound way.

We get most of the story through the eyes of Rosemary, the young human who comes aboard as the ship's clerk, trying to escape her past and in reality, learn who she is and who she wants to be moving forward.  It's really a New Adult coming of age story, I guess.  Again, not my cup of tea, but I liked it in spite of that.

Here's a fan drawing of the crew I found that I thought was pretty good.  It's a crew that often reminded me of the crew of Firefly.  There are unlikable members and members that you just want to hug to bits.They all gel as a team though, especially after their big job journey.  Again, the story is way more about the characters than that big job thing.  :)




So, if you're looking for some sci-fi fun, heavy on the characterisation, light on plot, but a fun read and one that will warm the proverbial cockles of your heart, this is your book.  :) It'll make you feel good!

And I'll probably be picking up the next one in the series at some point.  

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Fish and Ghosts by Rhys Ford

3.5 Stars

Hellsinger Series - Book 1

I can always count on Rhys to give me a good read and this time was no different.  This is one of her earlier books and it shows some in the writing.  To me it's fascinating to watch an author's progress at improving their craft, but I have to admit that I'm thrilled that Rhys has gotten over the need to use epithets in her writing.  If I had read the words "the blond" one more time, I think I might have screamed!  *LOL*  We know... we KNOW that Travis has blond hair, for heaven's sake!  And you know, most readers are smart enough to discern the differences between the two 'he's' in the story.  So, being as that's a pet peeve of mine, it did kind of impede me enjoyment of the story.

For my money, I could have done with sexytimes scenes being of shorter length (I mean.. almost 2 chapters long at one point?  And long chapters?) and a bit more meat to the paranormal aspects of the story.  I found that I wanted to know more about the personalities and characters of Travis and Wolf other than that they set each other on fire.  :)

It's an interesting world that Rhys has set up and I'm looking forward to reading more about it in the second book which I also have in the TBR.  I hope we get to learn more about Wolf's family and childhood and then more about Tristan's childhood as well.  Oh! And I really like the new covers on these books.  Far better than the generic men people that tend to populate a lot of the m/m book covers.