Sunday, January 14, 2018

Dark Deeds (Class 5, #2)Dark Deeds by Michelle Diener

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Space Opera, Romance
Content: A couple of suggestive scenes, strong language


 
Fiona Russell has been snatched from Earth, imprisoned and used as slave labor, but nothing about her abduction makes sense. When she’s rescued by the Grih, she realizes there’s a much bigger game in play than she could ever have imagined, and she’s right in the middle of it.

Battleship captain Hal Vakeri is chasing down pirates when he stumbles across a woman abducted from Earth. She’s the second one the Grih have found in two months, and her presence is potentially explosive in the Grih’s ongoing negotiations with their enemies, the Tecran. The Tecran and the Grih are on the cusp of war, and Fiona might just tip the balance.


It took me a while to get back to this series but I'm glad I did. I thought the romance aspect of this book was better than the first one - it didn't feel quite so insta-love - but the AI aspect of it was not as interesting. Nothing can top Sazo, but I did like Fiona a little more than I liked Rose in the previous book.

I did feel like this book was set up too much like the last book was and it looks like the same will be the case for the third book in the trilogy. That's a little too repetitive in my opinion. I'm still interested in continuing on though, because this series is fun even with it's flaws. One thing I am hoping for though, is that the protagonist in the next book has a terrible singing voice and no one wants to hear her sing! Let me explain - the Grih race in the books hold music as a near sacred thing, and are completely enthralled when they hear someone sing or play music, because apparently they can't sing, or something - I really can't remember the reasons. Anyway, both Rose in book one, and Fiona in this book end up singing for them when they find out how it affects them. This resulted in some humorous scenes in the book, but it also got a little cheesy at times. Mainly I just want something different in the next book.



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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished (Heartstrikers, #3)No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished by Rachel Aaron

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Content: One small slightly suggestive part


 
When Julius overthrew his mother and took control of his clan, he thought he was doing right by everyone. But sharing power isn’t part of any proper dragon’s vocabulary, and with one seat still open on the new ruling Council, all of Heartstriker is ready to do whatever it takes to get their claws on it, including killing the Nice Dragon who got them into this mess in the first place.

For the past three years my daughters and I have been listening to this series on our road trips and we thoroughly enjoyed this third book in the series. Once again the narration was great. Being one of those people who prefer to actually read rather than listen - I just feel a bit disconnected from a book when I listen to it instead read it - this is the only book series I actually look forward to listening to. I think that says a lot about the narrator, and probably also something about how much I enjoy listening to this book with my daughters.

If you haven't read this series yet and you like dragons and also urban fantasy you should give it a try. This one had quite the surprise ending that I don't think any of us saw coming and that's makes me want to listen to the next book right now, but I'll wait patiently until our next road trip - or maybe impatiently - but I'll wait.



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Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy

 

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries...


Based on the ratings, I went into Strange the Dreamer expecting something spectacular, but I ended up being a bit underwhelmed. This was our book club read and one thing that was discussed was how good Laini Taylor is at creating worlds. Unfortunately she doesn't seem to know exactly what to do with them after she creates them. If you like flowery, lyrical writing then you will certainly appreciate that about this book, and I do to a point, but that is not enough to keep me interested in the story. I need the story to dig deeper into the characters and the world building.

I think most people who read this probably feel a real emotional connection with it and that might be why there are so many high ratings. And you know what, that's ok. I've rated my share of books that way as well. For me though, I just didn't feel that connection this time, even though there were some beautiful moments. This is the first book in a duology and I thought it really didn't need to be. There's a lot of filler here with not a lot actually happening for as long as the book is. There is a huge cliffhanger at the end of this book, so most people who read it are going to want to read the next one, but I think I'm good with ending here.



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Year in Books 2017

This is a little late, but I wanted to post a list of the books that I read this past year that I enjoyed the most.

First up, the books I enjoyed reading the most this year in the Adult Fantasy category:


Firebrand

This is one of my all-time favorite series and this, the 6th book in the series did not disappoint!

Next is...

Age of Swords (The Legends of the First Empire, #2)

The sequel to Age of Myth. Michael J. Sullivan can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned. Epic fantasy that is fun and easy to read, I love it!

 Also on my best list is this historical fantasy by one of my favorite authors...


Daughter of the Forest  (Sevenwaters, #1)

Daughter of the Forest is the first book in a companion series. Juliet Marillier's writing is just so beautifully lyrical, and though this wasn't an easy story to get through I loved it!



The next category is Short Stories. I read a few of those this year and these two were my favorites. Of course they are both fantasy, and coincidentally they were both written by Brandon Sanderson:

The Emperor's Soul

A Stand-alone, The Emperor's Soul was outstanding. It was my favorite book out of all the books we read for book club in 2017.

And also...

Snapshot

Another Stand-alone; I thought snapshot was very clever.



Now onto Young Adult Fantasy. I didn't read nearly as much YA fantasy this year as I have in past years. My goal for 2017 was to discover more adult fantasy, but these two YA fantasies were stand-outs:


Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)

Crooked Kingdom is the sequel to Six of Crows and it was just as good.



Renegades (Renegades, #1)

I loved Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles, so I knew I had to try Renegades. It was different, but just as good! This is the first book in a new series.



Next category is mystery:

I've read a lot of mystery this year, but this one was my favorite.


What the Dead Leave Behind (A Gilded Age Mystery #1)

This is a historical mystery, one of my favorite kinds of mysteries and the beginning of a new series. I was hooked from the beginning!



And last is the romance category:

I usually only read historical romance and this book was the one I enjoyed the most.

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage (Tales from Ivy Hill, #2)

This is the second book in the Ivy Hill series and while I liked the first book in the series a lot, I liked this one even better. This is more than just a romance really. I loved reading about the different characters in the town.

This one was also a favorite...


A Name Unknown (Shadows Over England #1)

The first in a companion series, A Name Unknown could fit into the mystery category as well, although there is more emphasis on the romance than the mystery.



That's it. If you are looking for something new to read give them a try!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

One Fell Sweep

After a long holiday vacation I'm back and ready to review more books. I'll start with this short review of One Fell Sweep.


One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #3)One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Content: Strong language, sex scene



Dina DeMille may run the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, but she caters to a very particular kind of guest… the kind that no one on Earth is supposed to know about.

I enjoyed One Fell Sweep as much as the first two books in the Innkeeper series. I love the whole idea behind this series and the world. I love how understated but powerful Dina is. One of the best things about Ilona Andrews' books for me is the different takes on vampires. They are never the typical vampires you read about in other stories. Also, the clash between the Draziri and the Hiru in this book, and Dina's task to keep the Hiru safe kept me turning the pages. I'm looking forward to reading more whenever they decide to write it.





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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage (Tales from Ivy Hill, #2)The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Category: Adult, Christian

Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance
Content: Clean

 
Living with the two Miss Groves in Ivy Cottage, impoverished gentlewoman Rachel Ashford is determined to earn her own livelihood . . . somehow.

Rachel's friend and hostess, Mercy Grove, has given up thoughts of suitors and fills her days managing her girls' school. So when several men take an interest in Ivy Cottage, she assumes pretty Miss Ashford is the cause. Exactly what--or who--has captured each man's attention? The truth may surprise them all.

Return to Ivy Hill in The Ladies of Ivy Cottage as friendships deepen, romances blossom, and mysteries unfold.


The Ladies of Ivy Cottage is the second book in Julie Klassen's Ivy Hill series. I enjoyed the first book, but this one was even better. I loved reading about the different characters in the village of Ivy Hill. This time around the main focus is on Rachel and Mercy and I found their stories pretty compelling. The way Rachel ends up supporting herself was brilliant and I enjoyed reading about her as she started this endeavor and eventually gained more confidence in herself. Mercy was also an interesting character to read about. I loved how she cared so much for the girls in her school, and felt for her as she struggled with wanting a family of her own.

There is more romance in this book and quite a bit more focus on religion, both of which were woven into the story really well without being overly romantic or preachy. As for the romance, I loved the way Rachel's love interest ends up declaring his love for her, even though I wanted to hit him over the head few times along the way. Also Jane, who was the focus of book one finds love as well, and I'm just going to say that I love him, and one scene in particular was very romantic.

There are some plot threads that have not been resolved, Mercy's story being one of them, so I am eagerly looking forward to the next book. This book felt a bit like reading a classic at times. If you like books like Cranford, or Jane Austen's books you might like this series.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher Bethany House for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for a review.


Here's a photo of a cottage I took in Lacock. It reminds me a lot of the one on the cover.





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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill (Tales from Ivy Hill, #1)The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Content: Clean


On a rise overlooking the Wiltshire countryside stands the village of Ivy Hill. Its coaching inn, The Bell, is its lifeblood--along with the coach lines that stop there daily, bringing news, mail, travelers, and much-needed trade.

Jane Bell lives on the edge of the inn property. She had been a genteel lady until she married the charming innkeeper who promised she would never have to work in his family's inn. But when he dies, Jane finds herself The Bell's owner, and worse, she has three months to pay a large loan or lose the place.


The innkeeper of Ivy Hill is the first series Julie Klassen has written and so far I like it. I was expecting this to have more romance in it since Klassen is known for writing historical Christian romances, but the focus here is more on other types of relationships, with the main focus being on telling Jane's story, while touching on other characters in the town of Ivy Hill as well. There is also very little focus on religion in the book, making this a straight up historical fiction. The author mentioned classics like Cranford as inspiration for the series. The author also said she used the cute historic town of Lacock as the layout for the town of Ivy Hill. That was helpful to me when it came to picturing the town since I've actually been there.






Except for a few details that I would have liked to have been included in the book, one being why and how Jane fell in love with John - an innkeeper - to begin with, I think the author has done a good job. I look forward to reading more.


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