4 star review

Review – The Book of the Unnamed Midwife

Book of the Unamed Midwife

Philip K. Dick Award Winner for Distinguished Science Fiction

When she fell asleep, the world was doomed. When she awoke, it was dead.

In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth’s population—killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant—the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in this dangerous new one. Gone are the pillars of civilization. All that remains is power—and the strong who possess it.

A few women like her survived, though they are scarce. Even fewer are safe from the clans of men, who, driven by fear, seek to control those remaining. To preserve her freedom, she dons men’s clothing, goes by false names, and avoids as many people as possible. But as the world continues to grapple with its terrible circumstances, she’ll discover a role greater than chasing a pale imitation of independence.

After all, if humanity is to be reborn, someone must be its guide.

This was a hard review for me to write. I did read it a while back, at the start of my slump when a change seemed as good as a rest (and I enjoyed it), but then I struggled to find what to say about it. It’s the end of the world as we know it, and no one feels fine. The titular heroine of the story, the unamed, gets sick in a world going mad and wakes up at the literal end of the world. Women are mostly dead, dying, or enslaved. Babies aren’t being born. And men are grabbing all the power. Into this world the unnamed goes forth hidden as a man.
The tale is mostly told in epistolary form, and it actually mostly worked for me. The book starts 100 years in the future with scribes recopying the unnamed’s diaries. And with that introduction we are jolted into this world. It is dark, gritty, sad, and much of the time horrifying. Realistic is probably the right word. Don’t expect a happy ending, or romance. Don’t expect reunited lovers. This isn’t this book.
What it is, is a “smart” book that delves deeply into gender role, survival, and the slide into superstition when science is lost. And I was on the edge of my seat for the majority of the book, but there is really no one to root for and you already know no one is getting their happy ending. So if you are looking for something a little out of the ordinary as a palate cleanser, then this is worth a look. Now, I understand there are other books in the series, but this one I think ends in the perfect way, so there is no sense that you actually need to read the sequel if you don’t want to, and I probably won’t.
The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (The Road to Nowhere, #1)

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Challenge

#FitReaders- Weekly Check-In March 17, 2017

So, except for sleep (I really despise Daylight Saving) this was a pretty good week for me, physically. Eating wise I took a serious break, because heck, I wanted to. Cake an ice cream for the win! If I have relatively maintained my weight I will be happy enough. This has also been my first major travel since I started Fitbitting, and I think I did pretty well, all things considered.

FEB-2016-5K-1February 5K

The time was pretty reasonable considering I stopped to chat with a random neighborhood dude and forgot to pause the tracker. Also, I must have been wearing it funny, or the relative cold made it go wonky, because I was sweating like a beast and my heart was pounding. So, that is my February make-up, and I will need to do March’s next weekend. Time does tend to get away.

Stats: Week March 11-17, 2017

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5 star review, Challenge

March TBR Challenge 2017 & OpenLibrary – Son of the Morning by Linda Howard

Son of the Morning

This month’s challenge is “Comfort Read”, but my moods are too dicy to try to call anything I haven’t re-read a comfort read. So I offer you this gem from 1997, the exception that proves the rule in my general hatred of time travel romance-the only time travel romance I actually enjoy and a near annual re-read. What makes for a comfort read? I dont know, but this one is on my list. So this was on my TBR because I was due, not because it is new.

A scholar specializing in ancient manuscripts, Grace St. John never imagined that a cache of fragile, old documents she discovered was the missing link to a lost Celtic treasure. But as soon as she deciphers the intriguing legend of the Knights of the Templar — long fabled to hold the key to unlimited power — Grace becomes the target of a ruthless killer bent on abusing the coveted force. Determined to stop him, Grace needs the help of a celebrated warrior bound by duty to uphold the Templar’s secret for all eternity. But to find him — and to save herself — she must go back in time.
Summoning the magic of an arcane ritual, Grace steps back to the barren hills of 14th-century Scotland, enduring the perils of an untamed land to confront Black Niall, a fierce man of dark fury and raw, unbridled desire. Driven by a mix of fear and passion, Grace enlists this brazen knight to join her in a modern-day search for a killer. In their quest to protect a timeless secret, they uncover a love for all time — and a deadly duel of honor that risks everything they have.

Once upon a time, shortly after I had moved away to college, I was bored at my mom’s house and this was the longest book I had not read, so I picked it up, thinking blegh, and then was so sucked in I left several hours later than I had intended and even stole one of her precious books. So yes, I own a couple of copies, but this one is also available on Open Library, with the usual disclaimers.

This is also the book’s 20th anniversary, so it seemed like a good time to bring it up for people who may not have ever encountered it before. Due to the longevity of the book and the fact that so many different book blurbs have been used, I may be a bit more spoilery than usual.

On to the actual review:

Have you ever met someone who was sweet and kind of delicate that you always kind of figured would be the type to collapse and never recover when hit by tragedy? But then when they are, while they might have completely shattered, they somehow managed to glue themselves into a sharp ball of all that brokeness and somehow managed to survive and complete their objectives? Never the same again, but completely not what you were expecting either.

That is Grace St. John. A sweet woman with a solid simple life, she loved her brother and her husband, was nice to the neighborhood teen, and loved her job as a translator. In short a round little cream puff of a woman. And then suddenly, it was all taken from her. Her husband and brother both killed, she’s the prime suspect. She has no resources, no skills, and no fallback position; and absolutely no clue why any of this is happening.

Most of the story follows her journey as she fights to stay alive and to solve the mystery of why this has happened to her. It is a story of a woman putting herself back together, inexpertly mended and complete with really sharp edges. It is a story about obsessions.

And I found it remarkably fascinating and was literally not able to put it down, despite the fact that the romance was light (I mean the love interest is in another freaking century for most of the book), and despite the paranormal element (when I already didn’t care for time travel and paranormal was barely a blip on my radar at the time) it was GOOD. I mean I honestly didn’t know which direction the author was going to go; was she taking the topic seriously, was Grace cracking up, was it some coma dream? I just simply didn’t know!

Grace was just so interesting, and eventually so confident and competent that I couldn’t help but root for her, even when I thought she might be out of her damned mind. The love interest, well, I am meh over him to be honest, but Grace really dug on him, so I was even rooting for her to get him too. He was the trapped prince waiting for the queen to rescue him, and basically she did. It totally rocked and was kind of an eye opener for me at the time. The WOMAN could be the rescuer, could be the one to do the leg work. The man could be the object of desire and the one who waited. It kind of blew my mind.

As for how well it holds up. Well except for the payphones, it really held up quite well I think, but take my opinion with a grain of salt, because I am surely reading with my rosy colored sentiment glasses. But if you never picked this one up, thinking it didn’t sound like your cup of tea, well give it another look, because this one is I think a little something special and out of the ordinary, even today.

Son of the Morning

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Challenge

#FitReaders- Weekly Check-In March 10, 2017

You know how you can know that something is weighing heavy on you, but not really KNOW just how much it is impacting your life? I got rid of a major source of stress the week before, and this week I slept better than I have in months, maybe even years. I feel reasonably good, which is helpful when heading into the hell, for me, that is daylight saving time. Plus I only have 14 pounds to go to reach my goal weight, so I am nicely ahead of my projected schedule. And I am reading again, whoohoo!

Stats: Week March 4-10, 2017

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5 star review

Review – Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs

Silence Fallen

In the #1 New York Times bestselling Mercy Thompson novels, the coyote shapeshifter has found her voice in the werewolf pack. But when Mercy’s bond with the pack—and her mate—is broken, she’ll learn what it truly means to be alone…

Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes—only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe…

Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise…

Glorious! I devoured this book in record time. How a series that I initially gave no chance to, could so quickly become one of my absolute favorite series is a bafflement to me. But it is true. Patricia Briggs has a gift for writing strong, ferocious heroines that still engender empathy in her readers.

This is book 10 in the series, and these are NOT, I repeat NOT standalones. So, unfortunately, spoilers for the previous books may occur. But let me tell you, if you have any interest at all in urban fantasy/paranormal romance, this is a series that will suck you in. We have a Volkswagon mechanic named Mercedes, a daughter of chaos who plays merry hell on the stoic werewolves around her. A coyote shifter is so very different than the other big bads in this fantasy setting. It is completely worth the read, and I highly recommend the series as whole.

This book in specific though plays a nice symmetry with the beginning of the series, Mercedes alone and ostensibly friendless. Of course Mercy has always had a knack for managing the chaos in her life. But it was interesting to see how different of a person she is by this point in time, even when she is on her own.

Following the events of the previous books, the consequences of the Columbia Basin’s power plays in making their territory neutral for both humans and the supernatural alike have shown up in an interesting way. And while our main protagonists, and us readers, have had a view from the inside, it was very interesting to see how those on the OUTSIDE have interpreted the events that unfolded. Needless to say they got it all wrong. Which opened up all sorts of doors to conflict.

Enter stage left- The Master of Milan, Iacapo Bonaparte. He is the biggest, baddest vampire in Europe. And ever if there was a canny, crafty, bastard of a villain, this jerk is it. I never thought I could sympathize with some of the vampires who have been making Mercy’s life hell in the previous books, but Briggs managed it. Surprising revelations changed the entire COMPLEXION of events that I thought I understood before, and in such a way that it seemed completely natural to me. The landscape back home is going to end up very different once our stalwart heroes make it back.

Of course, despite Bonaparte’s machinations, things are very much not what they seemed, and forces were at work that even he couldn’t comprehend. Turns out there is even more to Mercy than we had already realized….I think she finally discovered her “42”.

Adam and Mercy though, at this point are just rock solid, but it was nice to see how even apart they are still each the others touchstone. But it was also nice to see a few secondary characters shine, and get to understand them better. I think going back and rereading with some of this new information is going to give me a deeper appreciation of some of the other characters. And I know that events from this book are going to perceptively color future events.

And of course the reunion between Mercy and Adam was sweet, and sexy, and full of the turmoil only these two characters can bring to one another. Briggs had a description in the spinoff series that everything here made me think of, about how opening up was like opening an umbrella that had been shut a very long time and how parts creak and groan and threaten to break…only in this case it was like someone then oiled all the moving parts so that everything will now function like it should. That is what this book felt like. It may hurt to open things up that have been closed a very long time, but sometimes you have to so you can use it the way it need to be used.

Another note though, this book is somewhat nonlinear, so I think I will need to read it at least one more time to truly get it all together in my head. But it was excellent enough that I would have wanted to regardless. This was one of those books that was absolutely worth the wait and more than exceeded my expectations even though it was nothing like I was expecting, if you see what I mean.

Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson, #10)

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5 star review

Review – Ashwin by Kit Rocha

Ashwin

The first book in the follow-up to Kit Rocha’s bestselling BEYOND series…

Gideon’s Riders, Book One

Lieutenant Ashwin Malhotra is a Makhai soldier–genetically engineered to be cold, ruthless. Unfeeling. His commanding officers consider him the perfect operative, and they’re right. Now, he has a simple mission: to infiltrate Gideon’s Riders, the infamous sect of holy warriors that protects the people of Sector One.

He’s never failed to execute an objective, but there’s one thing he didn’t anticipate–running into Dr. Kora Bellamy, the only woman to ever break through his icy exterior.

When Kora fled her life as a military doctor for the Makhai Project, all she wanted was peace–a quiet life where she could heal the sick and injured. The royal Rios family welcomed her like a sister, but she could never forget Ashwin. His sudden reappearance is a second chance–if she can manage to touch his heart.

When the simmering tension between them finally ignites, Kora doesn’t realize she’s playing with fire. Because she’s not just falling in love with a man who may not be able to love her back. Ashwin has too many secrets–and one of them could destroy her.

I received an ARC of this book from the author, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.

Do you know what I have been missing in my reading life? Legitimate joy. Joy which I finally found again. I have been waiting for this man’s book since his very first appearance. He is all kinds of chilly and just my kind of damaged hero catnip. Seriously, I referred to him in my last review as “my cuddly wuddly little Maiko shark“. I am not saying there is nothing wrong with me, I am just saying that Ashwin is one stone cold heart-breaker in the best of ways. If you are a fan of Nalini Singh’s Judd, Kaleb, or Vasic, this will be right up your alley too. He’s colder and more pragmatic like Kaleb, but dropped into the emotional and caring culture like Judd was, with a little more depth like Vasic.

Now, this IS the start of the spinoff series, and I think you CAN read this one apart from the other series (though I think everyone who likes erotica should read the other series), but it does add a little something to it if you have read the other series. However, if the more in depth erotica-ness of the previous series wasn’t your cup of tea, then jump on in over here, because the water is nice and warn…but not too warm. No menages, no voyeurism, none of the overt BDSM elements, just good old fashioned super smexy times romance (but not boring smexy times either if you know what I mean).

So what is going on is this. The previous series chronicled the start through the end of the war in a post-apocalyptic dystopian. It was kind of like the Hunger Games in that there was a greedy capital that sucked the life out of the other sectors and pitted them against each other. Now we are seeing the rebuilding phase of this world. Basically that is all you HAVE to get from the previous series, though Kora and Ashwin were minor albeit integral characters in the other series.

It has been 6 months since the end of the war. Kora had left her cushy but emotionally unfulfilling life in the capital to work as a doctor in the Sectors. Her and Ashwin were parted at the end of the last series and Kora has grieved for Ashwin while she has been working in Sector One. When he pops back up it was, needless to say, quite the shock. And it hasn’t exactly been the most fun 6 months of Ashwin’s life either. Ashwin is there to join up with the Riders, the protectors in the religion that Sector One had come up with and what has turned into the stabilizing new force in the post war culture. Sector Four’s irreverant devli may care attitude was enough to push for and win the war, but what is needed now is more a culture of home and family and peace. This naturally causes some consternation in what is left of the capital, and decisions have been made to monitor and perhaps influence the growing power. So there are intrigues and conspiracies, and the left over power structures in the capital aren’t as neatly severed as one might like. And we can definitely start to see where the future conflicts are going to come from in the world at large.

As far as relationship conflicts go though, this one was kind of a doozy, and Ashwin screwed up royally. Can I blame him? Not exactly, because there is a ton of subtext and personal past history going on, but then, I am not the one he screwed over either.

Dude, I am screwing this review up though, because all I want to do is squee and gush over the entire plotline…which would completely spoil things. So I will just say that I LOVED it. I loved how Kora has plans and hopes and dreams for herself separate from any man-and that she has plans to continue her path even with Ashwin in her life. I love how she gets MAD. I loved Ashwin, from cold and hard to emotional as he changes and grows; and I want to see more of that arc in future books. And I loved how they were together. They were sexy and sweet and they fought and made up, and they knew that it would be building a family, that their relationship would take work. And they are all in on making it work.

I have actually re-read this one already, and foresee rereading this many happy times in the future. So seriously, buy the book, here are the links; I am not an affiliate I just really want people to buy and read it.

 

Ashwin (Gideon's Riders, #1)

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