3 star review

Review – The Life Engineered by J.F. Dubeau

Life Engineered.jpg

JF Dubeau’s debut novel, The Life Engineered, begins in the year 3594, where humanity is little more than a memory a legend of the distant past destined to reappear. Capeks, a race of artificial creatures originally created by humans, have inherited the galaxy and formed a utopian civilization built on the shared goal of tirelessly working to prepare for their makers return.

One moment a cop dying in the line of duty in Boston, the next reborn as a Capek, Dagir must find her place in this intricate society. That vaguely remembered death was but the last of hundreds of simulated lives, distilling her current personality. A robot built for rescue and repair, she finds her abilities tested immediately after her awakening when the large, sentient facility that created her is destroyed, marking the only instance of murder the peaceful Capeks have ever known. For the first time in their history, conflicting philosophies clash, setting off a violent civil war that could lay waste to the stars themselves.

Dagir sets off on a quest to find the killers, and finds much more than she sought. As the layers of the Capeks past peel away to reveal their early origins, centuries-old truths come to light. And the resulting revelations may tear humanity s children apart and destroy all remnants of humankind.

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

It has been a very strange year. I guess by now it is obvious that my reviewing rate has significantly slowed. Not much help for it, but for those I am late getting to I sincerely apologize.

I requested this months ago on a science fiction kick because the premise sounded interesting. Kind of iRobot meets AI. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out so well as those did for me.

For dealing entirely with artificial intelligence entities, the author does a credible job of tugging on the readers emotions, though one could wish the theme wasn’t “Kill the mothers”. But the rest of the narrative was disjointed and engaging on only the most superficial level, as were most of the characters excepting the main protagonist.

It is metaphor and analogy with significant religious overtones attempting to span a large-scale, and in my opinion it doesn’t quite succeed, being clumsy and heavy-handed where a certain level of elegance seems called for. And while I decry the killing mothers theme, this does seem to beg for the writer to kill his darlings. This isn’t a very long book but often it seemed to take twice as long for him to have his say as was actually needed, but without the luscious turns of phrase as other authors who have made similar (in my opinion) missteps.

Where the book succeeds is in the sweeping battles, logic exercises, and the action. And those parts I could absolutely have read more of. And I do want to know more about what has happened Skinfaxi, Belanos, and Koalamos and the Dormitory.  And I definitely want to know what else Adelaide might have had up her sleeve and how her mission shook out.

And Dubeau did a hell of a job snagging my attention with the teaser for the sequel.

But do I recommend this book? Tough to say. I won’t be rereading it unless too much time elapses between now and the sequel. But, I am almost absolutely sure I will read the sequel. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but that wasn’t entirely a bad thing. My rec is up in the air with this one read, at your own risk.

The Life Engineered

4 star review

Review – Beyond Ecstasy by Kit Rocha


The O’Kanes have a reputation for working hard and playing harder—except for Hawk. He joined the gang with one goal: to ensure his family’s survival through the impending war with Eden. It’s been years since he had the luxury of wanting anything for himself. Now, he wants Jeni. From the first moment he saw her, he’s been obsessed with making her his. Not for a night—forever. Jeni’s been lusting after the former smuggler for months, but he keeps shutting her down. She’s almost given up on getting him in her bed when he offers her the last thing she ever expected—a collar. Accepting it means belonging to him, body and soul. It’s a reckless gamble, but Jeni can’t resist the chance to slip under Hawk’s armor.

The only thing more shocking than the dark, dangerous pleasure they discover is how right it feels. But falling in love is even more reckless when forever is far from guaranteed. Because they aren’t just at war, they’re out of time—and every breath could be their last.

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.

I adore this series. Life got in the way and I am a bit late, but don’t let that give you any hesitation in snapping this whole series right up. Here we have the next to the last book in the series, and I can’t remember ever having quite this same level of both excitement to see where the story is headed, and sadness to see a series go. I often harp on a series knowing when to let go, and man-oh-man is writing duo Kit Rocha pulling out well before I am sick and tired of them.

I initially found this series in one of the earliest things I read specifically for the blog. And then I devoured all the currently written books. And then I had to wait patiently for Beyond Addiction, Beyond Possession, Beyond Innocence, and Beyond Ruin to come out. It has been a busy two years and I can’t believe it is almost over.

*Disclaimer-this being the eighth book in the series, I don’t advise you to start here, this is a complex post apocalyptic dystopian series, you will be lost and never so lost as with starting here than any other point in the series. Start from the beginning so you know the players and the arena. And if that is too daunting, there are a couple of novellas you could start with to see if this is to your taste. So there will be spoilers for previous books.

And we’ll start those previous book spoilers now. Hawke and Jeni have been circling each other for a while now, so it is flat pure relief to have them finally connect. And really the first half of the book is their dance in the midst of prepping for the war that started in the last book. Unfortunately for Hawke and Jeni… Ashwin and that whole thing almost completely stole the show for me. I need Ashwin like my next effing breathe. But that is a personal thing, I really get hung up on the freaky damaged ones.

But there is plenty going on with Hawke and Jeni. THIS is BDSM that is safe, sane, and consensual. We have honest discussion of boundaries, safe words, letting go (with some series thoughts about what it all means), and some mentoring. And because on many ways the sex in this series is egalitarian, we have a woman doing the mentoring in dominance for a man. This to me is feminist erotica, and it works for me.

And there is quite a bit of calm before the storm narrative taking place, which is a good backdrop for watching their love story unfurl as well as lining out the finale.

Be ready though, because when it hits? It hits hard and rips your effing heart out. This was honestly one of the more uncomfortable conflict points for a couple in this series, but it resolves so sweetly you just can’t stay mad. It is a really good installment that moves the plot forward an amazing degree. War is here, and it is dirty and ugly, but at least now there is an end in sight.

Don’t be too sad seeing all this awesome and thinking about it ending though. First we finally have our Nessa’s love story. Then Kit Rocha is going to be taking us to Sector One soon, and I for one can’t wait! Especially if Ashwin is up next (please, pretty please guys…let me have Ashwin next!).

3.5 star review

May TBR Challenge 2016 – Uprooted by Naomi Novik

TBR Challenge 2016

Topic: Something Different (outside your comfort zone, unusual setting, non-romance etc.)


“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

150 year old hero with teen girl, yeah, that is outside my comfort zone, and I rarely read straight fantasy except for a few authors I’ve kept around for a long time. And NA/YA rarely goes well for me. But this was so well reviewed by people whose opinions I usually agree with, that it has been languishing on my pile. But then I came across another review last month, that left me feeling blegh about starting this one. And on top of my current slump, I approached it with some trepidation.

Warning: There will be spoilers. I don’t feel bad because this book has been out for a good long while.

But it was, well it was in turns delightful and horrid really. For the first third of the book there were no romantic urgings or longings, no heat or tension between the two main protagonists, just one young girls’ journey of self discovery-love, hate, jealousy, need, and personal growth. And the magic, both technical and lyrical in its turns kept me captivated. But if you need a well-defined magic system in place this may not work for you, here-at least the way Agnieszka does it, it is more art than anything else.

That’s not to say that it was perfect. Besides the grossly May December romance that was blooming, there was something in the voice of the novel that I just couldn’t quite like. You know how Katniss’ voice in the Hunger Games was somehow a step remote and cold? This was about two steps farther than that. And the way Sarkan treated her was abominable and never really reconciled. The way the initial scene with Prince Marek where he attempts to rape Agnieska and when she successfully defended herself Sarak got bent out of shape AT HER, and his solution was to let the would be rapist think he’d succeeded, that rankled entirely throughout the book. I was also set to be upset about how her “womanly” magic was so often denigrated throughout the story-but the longer I looked at it the more it seemed that the rest of them were so bound by rules that it showed more a lack in them than in her, so that worked out okay in the end for me.

But still, it kept me hooked so I almost didn’t care that I was perturbed at the voice and some of the characters. But most lovely thing of all, for my piece of mind, the one thing that kept me from being completely irate, the moment the tension did appear between our two protagonists, they separated. And Agnieszka was left to fumble, and fight, and learn her way through the next half of the story. And she received her own autonomy and freedom by being put on the lists in her own right. There’s adventure, death, and betrayal that she makes her way through before the two are reunited. Basically she did some much-needed growing up, so that I thought her less of a child, and this is key-was no longer in any way under Sarkan’s power. And in many ways I was able to see Sarkan more as a lonely stunted man. This is a fairy tale, so of course they were going to end up together. And I could have done without that aspect to be honest, but at least it didn’t squick me out as much as it might have.

But the reason for the sorcery and The Wood, and the way it all played out? That was, if not entirely to my liking (it was almost inexpressibly sad) it was entirely engrossing and not at all what I was expecting. And THAT was the happy(ish) ending that really worked for me. Girl getting guy? Yeah, somehow that part of the ending left me feeling a trifle saddened in a way that I am finding difficult to articulate. I think I honestly didn’t want them together. Don’t get me wrong, they meshed in a way that I think set a foundation that will last. But female friendship and love that lasts through every hardship and even seeing the ABSOLUTE worst in the other, that is the kind of priceless I don’t often get and was what made it work for me.

So, do I recommend it? That is hard to say. I overall enjoyed reading it and don’t feel it was a waste of my time. But I am glad to have been able to check it out of the library rather than spending money. And despite the fact that I am a massive re-reader, I doubt that I will re-read this one. Though I do I agree with others that it may actually be worth rereading, that there are layers yet to be plumbed. So it is a tricky one. But in general I think yes I would recommend it, with the caveats that if you want any of the following then this isn’t the book for you: real romance, real YA/NA, a really wrong hero groveling, or a strong and consistent magical system. Otherwise, if the idea of a fairy tale sounds like it might hit the spot, this might be a good choice.



On language, and why it matters.

Reblogging because words are important, and others are much more eloquent than I am. What we say matters. How we say it matters. And using imagery that diminishes very real atrocities is something I am developing very little tolerance for.

I just don’t see how people can be so willfully obtuse. EC is STEALING. They haven’t enslaved her or her 4 children. They don’t have the authority to kill her and her children. It is so very different.

Since I can’t see how anyone can be that willfully obtuse, I must assume, considering words are her craft, that this was purposeful. She purposefully evoked imagery guaranteed to tug at heartstrings, pulling on other people’s pain like a coat that is easily (for her) shed, for her own purposes.

Her Hands, My Hands

Yesterday, over at Karen Knows Best, I blogged about yet another Ellora’s Cave author who is asking her readers not to purchase the books she still has with that publisher, because she hopes to get the rights to her work back.

In her post she tells her story with this oh so shitty publisher–all without mentioning them by name, which kind of leaves me pondering¹–and then posts all her Ellora’s Cave’s covers.

So far, I’m nodding my head–good for her, finally speaking up for herself, and good luck on that.

Until I read the paragraph right below the covers.

Then, I saw red:

View original post 492 more words

4 star review

Review – Night Shift by Charlaine Harris

Night Shift.jpg

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels—“the Mark Twain of things that live under your bed”*—comes a new novel of Midnight, Texas, the town where some secrets will never see the light of day…

At Midnight’s local pawnshop, weapons are flying off the shelves—only to be used in sudden and dramatic suicides right at the main crossroads in town.

Who better to figure out why blood is being spilled than the vampire Lemuel, who, while translating mysterious texts, discovers what makes Midnight the town it is. There’s a reason why witches and werewolves, killers and psychics, have been drawn to this place.

And now they must come together to stop the bloodshed in the heart of Midnight. For if all hell breaks loose—which just might happen—it will put the secretive town on the map, where no one wants it to be…

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

So this is the third (and final? I’d heard it was a trilogy but it feels like there could be more books) book in Harris’ Midnight series, which is a spin-off/tie in to most of her other series. You can check out reviews for Midnight Crossroad and Day Shift to find out more about the Easter Eggs. Beware spoilers, either for previous books or for this one. You have been warned.

In any event, strange doing were shaping up in the last installment, and they’ve only gotten stranger since. We meander through the lives and thoughts of the most central residents of Midnight. And there are some pretty exciting paranormal elements.

Olivia and Fiji get to be friends. Bobo finally opens his danged eyes. And Manfred gets the shock of his life. And Fiji finds her power. We get a nice chunk of Lemuel’s , Chuy and Joe’s back stories too. All the other characters also have significant and meaningful roles in the story and I am back to liking Quinn a little better too. There is a ton of relationship stuff, romantic and otherwise in this story. And those parts were really good.

So was the main mystery story arc. It came a little out of left field, but it was really quite interesting. And other plot threads tied in nicely too. All in all, this was a much better book, both in terms of plotting and in terms of entertainment, than the last one. Plus, this one had a real ending as well. It is definitely my favorite book in the series, and after a somewhat rocky beginning, I have to say, I’d be pleased to see more of Midnight.

Night Shift (Midnight, Texas, #3)