Monthly Archives: August 2013

Your Scandalous Ways (Loretta Chase, Fallen Women #1)

4.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This is a book full of details: the art, the poetry by Byron (down to his inconsistent spelling style), the Italian, the politics around divorce, the fuller-than-full list of supporting characters. At its heart beats a well-drawn, but thoroughly unlikely pair of protagonists: a disgraced divorcee who now lives the life of a courtesan, and a spy-like man who wishes he could retire. Ultimately, they’re two people who are both prostitutes… one who’s turned to the life as a way to free herself from the hypocrisy of the London life she once led, and another who does everything (and sometimes, everyone) under the auspices of serving his country (though without the sometimes more formal recognition a soldier might receive). They are hardened cynics who battle with their wits and sexuality — not at all a story I expected to enjoy, but expertly done and often quite enthralling (and even surprising: a twist I wouldn’t have predicted, and an independent female who is TRULY independent).

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Posted in Romance

Thirteen Orphans (Jane Lindskold, Breaking the Wall #1)

2 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Thirteen Orphans is a contemporary urban fantasy adventure novel. The book starts off fairly well and manages to be quite imaginative, but terrible pacing problems make the book unpleasant to read. This is the first in a series, but that doesn’t really hurt or help this particular book in any way I can see. Other than the pacing and a few repetition issues, there really isn’t much to complain about. The characters are relatively interesting without any tired cliches, the plot is a little contrived but fairly original, and the setting is original and intriguing. It is very regrettable that the author didn’t have the services of a more strict editor or this book could have been excellent. Overall, I just can’t recommend something that moves so agonizingly slowly despite what other strengths this book has.

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Posted in Sci-Fi/Fantasy

The Song and Dance Man (Karen Ackerman)

Not Recommended, Not Repeatable

This is a sweet, remember the yester-years (Vaudeville singing and dancing), bonding with your grandparents type of story. I wanted to like it: it’s got the cute family message, the value the music type of messages that I care about… but at the end of the day, I just didn’t. I wasn’t sure what the story arc was (yes, I know, it’s a children’s book, but still), the pictures were well drawn, but not really imagination-inspiring or necessarily attention-grabbing, or even memorable. Ultimately, the story didn’t hold my toddler’s attention, and it wasn’t really good enough for me to want to try again either. It’s clear that it has a sweet meaning and message… it just wasn’t fun or interesting.

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Posted in Children's/Young Adult

Peacekeeper (Laura E Reeve, Major Ariane Kedros #1)

0.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Peacekeeper is a future sci-fi novel that has the distinction of being one of the worst books I have ever read. I am frankly baffled that this is the first in a series, as I don’t know how any publisher could possibly want to read anything else by this author. It starts off all right initially, but soon descends into an abysmal morass of stupidity and lazy writing. The protagonist does nothing for the first 100 pages. The author just keeps spewing uninteresting exposition at us about her poorly conceived space/Cold War parallel universe and really nothing happens. After that, every single story element is dependent on gross incompetence or ridiculously contrived coincidence. I’m not sure how anyone could look at a plot summary of this book and see it as at all reasonable or something that anyone would want to read. I would not recommend this book, because if I was trapped on a deserted island and removed from all human contact for the rest of my life I would derive more enjoyment out of reading a discarded gum wrapper than I would this book.

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Posted in Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Best Friends-Before-Lovers or We’ve-Always-Known Each-Other Historical Romance

When you read historical romance novels, you already know what you’re in for to a certain degree: you know they’re going to get together by the end of the novel, and there’ll probably be at least… kissing.

As a reader, I know that sometimes I am in the mood for a certain type of story: the friend-before-lovers arc, or the ugly-duckling trope, or the managing-female-meets-her-match line… but I don’t want to read just ANY example of that trope, so below are lists of best-of, organized by trope!

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The Viscount Who Loved Me (Julia Quinn, Bridgertons #2)

4.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
In terms of pacing, characterization and dialogue, this book is nearly spot on in every category. It definitely plays up some common stereotypes, there’s a rake who needs to be reformed as well as a managing sister who considers herself a spinster. But… it’s done so well. The conversations are quick, witty, and fiercely entertaining. The characters are believable, and the love story doubly so. I don’t love the overarching fear that keeps Anthony from wanting to commit to anyone, and I think that it takes a little longer to resolve than it should have, but otherwise, this is a extremely well done historical romance.

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Kiss Of Steel (Bec McMaster, London Steampunk #1)

3 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Kiss of Steel is a steampunk adventure that borders on the edge of supernatural romance. There is a quite a bit of imaginative steampunk setting, and there are many interesting facets to the world, but the dominant feature of the story is the protagonist’s love life, and the love scenes teeter on, then careen over, the edge of what I would consider pornographic. This is a the first in a series of novels, but I didn’t feel like that contributed negatively in any way to the book. The plot actually makes a good deal of sense, and aside from the protagonist’s love interest having an instant magical attraction for her that doesn’t make any sense, the plot is logical and comes to an eventually satisfying conclusion without any horrible cliffhangers or contrived plot points. If you are a fan of steampunk or fantasy and also like romance, I would definitely recommend this book, as it is one of the better examples of this type that I have read, although my experience isn’t that vast.

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Posted in Sci-Fi/Fantasy

There’s a Wolf at the Door (Zoe Alley and RW Alley)

Recommended, Repeatable

This is a retelling/expansion of well known fairy tales: Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, and The Wolf and the Seven Little Goslings. The artwork is interesting, the book is oversized, and it’s presented like a large comic-book, with each page having several picture/text boxes. Also, the starring character, Wolf, is in each of the five stories, which is a clever way of tying together these five tales. Now, there’s nothing particularly deep or super-creative here, but it is mostly interesting little twists, like the idea that the Little Red Riding Hood is actually a fashion-obsessed, somewhat superficial girl who only cares about wearing red, and is made to do a “nice” thing (visiting her grandmother) by her parents, who thinks she needs to learn some important life lessons. Some of the stories drag (for example, after the Wolf fails to blow down the third little pig’s house,the story continues… and continues). Still, it’s an interesting twist, and probably good for a 2nd grader.

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Posted in Children's/Young Adult

Germline (TC McCarthy, The Subterrene War Trilogy #1)

3 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Germline is a near future war thriller taking the form of a gonzo journalist stuck behind the lines of a horrific future conflict in Kazakhstan. This is a well written and well researched book, but honestly I’m not sure who it would really appeal to. It’s very violent and graphic, and the main thrust of the book is to depict how horrible war is in all its forms. Without any attempt to glamorize or excite the reader with its violence, it won’t exactly appeal to people looking for action, and there really isn’t enough of a sci-fi angle to interest anyone in the technology or man’s relationship with it. I liked the book, but I wasn’t exactly ever excited to get to read more of it just because it was so dark and violent and the situations the protagonist are placed in are so unpleasant. I guess I would recommend the book in general based on the fact that it was imaginative, well written, and interesting, but I’m not exactly sure who I would recommend it to.

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Posted in Sci-Fi/Fantasy

A Lady by Midnight (Tessa Dare, Spindle Cove #3)

3.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
A very nice example of the we’ve-kind-of-known-each-other stories that Dare seems to like: we have an orphan who’s desperate to know about her past and a soldier who’s obviously had a ridiculously tough life up until now. It’s a twist on the friends-before-lovers trope, with just a hint of mystery and intrigue. In this case, he’s the one who protected her, and now lusts after her… but of course, he thinks he’s generally incapable of love, and, more specifically, undeserving of hers. There are phrases and words that don’t feel quite regency-era, and the ending dragged a little, and became a little overly melodramatic. Still, the characterizations and emotional journeys of the characters are well-done and, at times, riveting. It’s a solid addition to the series, very much in Dare’s usual style.

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Posted in Romance