Saturday, July 14, 2018

Beast: A Tale of Love and RevengeBeast: A Tale of Love and Revenge by Lisa Jensen

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Fairy Tale
Content: Rape, Attempted Suicide, There could be more but I did not read the whole book.

They say Ch√Ęteau Beaumont is cursed. But servant-girl Lucie can’t believe such foolishness about handsome Jean-Loup Christian Henri LeNoir, Chevalier de Beaumont, master of the estate. But when the chevalier's cruelty is revealed, Lucie vows to see him suffer. A wisewoman grants her wish, with a spell that transforms Jean-Loup into monstrous-looking Beast, reflecting the monster he is inside. But Beast is nothing like the chevalier. Jean-Loup would never patiently tend his roses; Jean-Loup would never attempt poetry; Jean-Loup would never express remorse for the wrong done to Lucie. Gradually, Lucie realizes that Beast is an entirely different creature from the handsome chevalier, with a heart more human than Jean-Loup’s ever was.

This is a different sort of version of Beauty and the Beast, and I was really into this book in the beginning, but then at around the 12% mark the prince who later is turned into the beast rapes Lucie. It was rather shocking and unexpected and I just couldn't see how he could ever be redeemed. How was Lucie supposed to later fall in love with this person? So I put the book aside and looked at some reviews that other people had posted. After reading quite a few of them I was able to understand how Lucie falls for the beast. This is a situation where the prince and the beast are two different people. The best comparison I can think of right now is when Dr. Jekyll becomes Mr. Hyde. Only in this book the beast is the true form and the handsome prince is the monstrous imposter.

I did pick this up again and skim through it near the end, but I just didn't really care for this version of the story very much. I wasn't crazy about the idea that "Beauty" -Rose in this book- was not the person who ended up with the beast, and I wasn't crazy about the idea that a human woman ends up with a beast either.

Thanks to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for providing me with a copy of this book.

Age of War (The Legends of the First Empire #3)Age of War by Michael J. Sullivan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Content: Clean

"Heroes are those who refuse to create or become victims. I failed to see it then, but I lived among many heroes. I think maybe everyone does." --THE BOOK OF BRIN

In this third book of the Legends of the First Empire series our heroes are lamenting losses, but also preparing for war. Quite a few of them are hit with some pretty tough choices in this book. Persephone in particular did some things that I didn't like at all. I understood the reasoning behind her choice, just not the way she handled it and treated someone. This resulted in me liking her far less in this book. I was honestly disappointed in her.

That being said, I can't really think of any other negatives about this book. All my favorite characters were there and each contributed greatly to the story. There were twists that I didn't see coming and heartbreaking things that happened. Chapter 28 had me crying, but as I always say, the best fantasy stories break your heart a little. Each installment of this series has had a way of tugging at my heartstrings. The characters feel so real to me, and even though some of them have special gifts, they feel like ordinary people just doing what they have to do. Those are the best sort of heroes.

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of this book.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Girl in the Green Silk Gown (Ghost Roads #2)The Girl in the Green Silk Gown by Seanan McGuire

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Content: Strong Language
For Rose Marshall, death has long since become the only life she really knows. She’s been sweet sixteen for more than sixty years, hitchhiking her way along the highways and byways of America, sometimes seen as an avenging angel, sometimes seen as a killer in her own right, but always Rose, the Phantom Prom Date, the Girl in the Green Silk Gown.

The man who killed her is still out there, thanks to a crossroads bargain that won’t let him die, and he’s looking for the one who got away. When Bobby Cross comes back into the picture, there’s going to be hell to pay—possibly literally.

This is the second book in the Ghost Roads series and while it was pretty good, it lacked something that made it great for me. I enjoyed the first book more. Maybe that's because it was a compilation of several different stories and I didn't mind reading about Rose in shorter stories. This book was one long novel that didn't feel like it needed to be as long as it was. It started to drag in places before I even got halfway through. Certain things are repeated too much, and there is also a whole lot of exposition in this book, so much at times that it feels like the author is going off on tangents. Rose was also less likable for me this time around because she was really whiny, but at least she knew she was.

Parts of the story were compelling especially when Rose is trying to evade Bobby and the parts in the underworld. There are a few unresolved things at the end of the book, like Gary and his situation, and there is definitely more to explore there with his and Rose's relationship. I initially thought this was going to be a duology, but it's a series with, at this time, an undetermined number of books. While I like this ok, I really don't feel like I'm enjoying this enough to keep reading a whole series, so I'm good with stopping here.

Thanks to First to Read for giving me a copy of this book.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Song of the BeastSong of the Beast by Carol Berg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Content: Small amount of strong language

Brutal imprisonment has broken Aidan McAllister. Once the most famous musician of his generation, celebrated as a man beloved of the gods, his voice is now silent, his hands ruined, his music that offered beauty and hope to war-torn Elyria destroyed. Even the god who nurtured his talent since boyhood has abandoned him. But no one ever told him his crime. To discover the truth, he must risk his hard-bought freedom to unlock the mind of his god and the heart of his enemy.

This was our book club pick for June and the first book I've read by author Carol Berg. It's a stand-alone and we're always looking for stand-alone fantasy to read for book club, so that was one thing that drew us to it. This book pulled me in instantly. Carol Berg has a writing style that is beautiful yet easy to read, and that's just how I like a book to be.

The main character, Aidan went through so much in prison and I just loved him right from the beginning. I could feel his hurt so much, and I loved the beautiful person that he was and how his attitude was not bitter, despite all those things that happened to him. One of the best things about this book was that it featured a bard. We don't often get a main character who is like Aidan. And while I like the rough, manly men who can wield swords and all that are often featured in fantasy, I could relate to Aidan and I loved his kind and gentle nature, and his love of music and song.

"I scorned him for huddling by the fire, and he offered to share his tea. I reviled him for his cowardice at the kai’s lair, and he made me soup. I ridiculed his noble ancestry, and he laughed at himself and cleaned my hearth. I drove him unmercifully in his schooling, and he devoured it as if I’d gifted him with jewels."

"But I found steel beneath his soft-spoken manner. I could not break him. Despite his struggles with the tasks I set him, he lived with everything of gentleness and grace."

The other characters were also very compelling to read about. Lara took a little while to grow on me, but her story was interesting and I ended up liking her quite a bit, despite her stubbornness and her fear of sharing her heart. She had a protective nature that made her appealing. The Elhim are obviously based on Elves and I liked a couple of them quite a bit, but their scheming ways made we wary of trusting them at times.

The ending left we wanting a little more. There was one thing that I really wanted to happen that didn't and I think most people will probably feel the same way I do about it, but other than that, this was an excellent read and I highly recommend it if you love high fantasy and dragons. Even if you don't love dragons I still recommend this book. The dragons are mostly just talked about and don't really come into play until the end and Aidan's story is worth reading. The story was so compelling and it had just the right amount of romance for me. I'm going to have to read more of Carol Berg's books now.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Reaper at the Gates (An Ember in the Ashes, #3)A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Content: Strong Language, An almost sex scene

Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias's devotion–even at the cost of his humanity.

An Ember in the Ashes is one of my favorite YA fantasy series and I was counting down the days until I could read this book. Mostly I found this one very enjoyable, maybe not quite as much as the first two books in the series, but this was still good. It did feel like a middle of a series book, but that wasn't really a bad thing. And it did feel like the book got a bit slower in part two, but there were a lot of things that happened in this book, especially once I got into part three.

Although I enjoyed this I do have to say that this book left me a little melancholy because of the situations the characters I love are left in. Also, the romantic chemistry between two different couples in the book was off the charts but the romance itself was heartbreaking and frustrating. And I really want so badly for everything to be made right for Elias. I think his story line may have been part of why I did not quite enjoy this book as much as the previous ones. It was an important part of the book, but it didn't go the way I wanted it to go at all. Because of the way things are left at the end, I really wish I could go out and immediately buy the next book and read it, but unfortunately it won't be published until some time next year.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Dark Sky (Keiko Book 2)Dark Sky by Mike Brooks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Space Opera, Sci-fi
Content: Strong Language

When Ichabod Drift and the Keiko crew sign on for a new smuggling job to a mining planet, they don’t realize what they are up against. The miners, badly treated for years by the corporation, are staging a rebellion. Split into two groups, one with the authorities and one with the rebels, Drift and his crew support their respective sides in the conflict. But when they are cut off from each other due to a communication blackout, both halves of the crew don’t realize that they have begun fighting themselves…

I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as I did the first book in the series. I feel like there is just a little something missing here to make this series really good. It reminds me a lot of the Tales of the Ketty Jay series, but just pales in comparison. The characters are mildly interesting but lack some depth. I wasn't crazy about Drift in the beginning but he has grown on me as I've read these and I like the rest of the crew as well, I just don't feel like I know them as well as I would like to. Apirana and Jenna are probably my favorites, and I enjoyed the evolution of their relationship, but also was annoyed that every time Apirana was mentioned in the book the author felt the need to mention his size. This wasn't the only character this repeatedly occurred with, but it was the most obvious. I feel like this is rather lazy story telling. Instead of developing the characters more and giving us more information about them we just get the same repeated information over and over.

The plots are also mildly interesting in this series but lack something as well. I really didn't feel like the ending was satisfactory because I wanted to know what the information was that they were hired to obtain in the first place and we never find out what it was or why the person that hired them wanted it. Maybe we will find out in the next book.

I know I'm sounding very critical of this book, and although I'm mildly disappointed in it, I do want to point out that I did still enjoy it. I enjoyed it just enough that I will read the next book in the series, but I doubt I will read beyond that if the author publishes more.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Swamp Sniper (Miss Fortune Mystery, #3)Swamp Sniper by Jana Deleon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Mystery, Comedy
Content: Strong Language

In the two weeks CIA assassin Fortune Redding has been hiding in Sinful, Louisiana, she’s been harassed, poisoned, and shot at…and that was the easy part. But now, she’s about to face her biggest challenge since setting foot in the tiny bayou town.

This is the third book in the Miss Fortune series, set in Louisiana. I have no idea why I'm still reading these. They are mediocre at best and not nearly as funny as they could be. I felt like the comedic relief in this one was all done in the previous book. There are only so many times the same scenario is going to work. There was one mildly funny scene that involved the bathroom at the police department, but other than that it didn't really make me laugh at all. And really, how many people can get murdered in one tiny town in just two weeks? It's very far-fetched, but it is light reading that isn't supposed to be taken too seriously. At this point though, I'm really not sure if I'm going to continue on with this series.