4.5 star review, Books By Rating

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer Lunar Chronicles 1(audio)

 

Hello hello! It has been a long time since I’ve had something to write about, but I figured tonight’s the night. I’ve been extremely busy wrapping up my final semester of grad school and time to read an actual book is scarce. I have picked up the habit of listening to audiobooks during my commute and I think I’m hooked. As an avid reader I can’t honestly say that I have read no books, but there hasn’t been anything new or fresh on my reading list. If anybody’s interested in my recent go-to picks, the “Carpathian” series by Christine Feehan is always a good choice and I am never disappointed. There are so many different family lines, story lines, and just a good variety in each book that she writes. Each title that I have read has had enough romance and sensuality in it to make it interesting, but not enough to make it smut.

Now on to the audio books! My current digital bookshelf is full of the “Lunar Chronicles” by Marissa Meyer. It’s a 5 part series (so far) based on several different fairy tales and I’ve just finished up the first in the series. I’m not going to lie, I have already began on the 2nd installment and it is great!  The narrator plays a huge role, in my option, in how well the book comes across in an audio format. Rebecca Soler is fantastic! She is so very talented in giving each character their own voice and personality in this very busy novel. It becomes easy to distinguish each character based on Soler’s voice characteristics and accents. I am excited to hear more by this narrator in the future.

Cinder is a post-World War IV story , very loosely following the classic tale of Cinderella and her wicked stepmother. The main similarities include the stepmother and step-sisters, a ball, peculiar transportation and the attention of a prince.

The year is 126 TE (Tech Era), in the New Beijing area of the Eastern Commonwealth on Earth. Linh Cinder is the most highly recommended mechanic in the city, and her services are even sought out by the Prince. What the community doesn’t know is that Cinder is actually a cyborg, part human and part machine. More than 30% of her body was upgraded with computer sensors, auditory and visual interfaces, as well as a bionic hand and foot. Cinder’s intellect and wit has to be more than a feature of programming. She is fully wired with instant access to the web and receives her comms with audio and visual relay scrolling right before her eyes. Because of her enhancements, Cinder is able to fix most any machine she comes across, including an antique automobile hidden in the depths of a junkyard. As odd as it may seem, Cinder is pretty much like any other teenage girl…who is under the control of a selfish stepmother, Linh Adri.

Adri cares more about gowns & kimonos than an outcast ward she never wanted to take in. Her fashionable lifestyle is funded by Cinder’s repair business and little else. She treats Cinder more like an android or burden than one of her children. Adri’s husband was the one who adopted Cinder soon after the accident that killed her parents, he died soon after taking her in.

 The step-sisters are only half bad, with Pearl who is much like her mother and Peony, Cinder’s darling little sister. Pearl has high hopes of catching the eye of the eligible bachelor Prince/Emperor Kai at the coronation ball, but little does she know, Kai has already invited Cinder to be his date. Poor little Peony was Cinder’s best friend and ally, but she fell ill and passed away fairly early in the story. 

As the story is told, Cinder’s birth family was killed in a horrific car accident that left the small child’s body battered, broken and bruised when she was only eleven years old. Because of the significant damage to her body, scientists performed a procedure to save her life that included converting some of her body systems to robotic replacements. But as things unfold, and many subplots start to take place, the thought arises that Cinder could actually the long-lost Princess Selene, from the Lunar Kingdom based on the Earth’s moon.

The Lunars were originally Humans that fled Earth to colonize the Moon many centuries ago. They have since evolved into a mythical race that uses magic and mind control to maintain the security and culture surrounding the Queen, Levana. Levana is a monster bent on conquest and destruction, with the goal of controlling Earth by force. She uses her “glamour” powers to portray her self as an untouchable beauty, when in realty she is brutal and heartless. She has a small party of protectors that carry out her viscous punishments and tortures to prove her superiority over the Earthens she wishes to rule.

In an attempt to gain further control, she blackmailed and manipulated the new Emperor of the Commonwealth, nearly into marriage. Kai, as he’s called by friends and family, is a young ruler who recently gained the crown when his father died from the highly contagious and incurable plague, Letumosis. Kai’s heart holds the well-being and care of his people, but his brain is being bombarded with the political responsibilities of the crown. He can see through Levana’s mask, but she makes offers that are hard to refuse, especially in the area of medical research and treatment. Levana claims to hold to cure to the plague, but will only release the secret if a marriage agreement is arranged. Kai knows the weight of the Commonwealth is on his shoulders, but can he take the bait and commit himself to a marriage with a monster?

I could write about this book forever. Covering the main points, the subplots, the character development… every little detail of the book, but I won’t. I have to leave something for you to read on your own! One thing I did want to touch on is the relationship between Cinder and Kai. I really thought they had a bit of a budding romance but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. They seemed like they would have been so right for each other. Maybe they can overcome their differences in the other installments, and I can’t wait to find out.

 

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3 star review, DNF

August TBR Challenge 2016 Double Header – Defy Not the Heart by Johanna Lyndsey & Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

TBR Challenge 2016

Topic: Kicking It Old School (publication date 10 years or older)

Defy Not the Heart

Reina seethes with rage over her fate: taken captive by the knight Ranulf — a golden giant of a man — who has pledged to deliver her to the nuptial bed of the despised Lord Rothwell. She will never accept such bondage — and Reina offers herself to her kidnapped instead, offering to make Ranulf a great lord…if he agrees to wed her.But the brave knight desires much more than a marriage of convenience from this proud, headstrong lady who treats him with scorn yet makes his blood run hotter than liquid fire. She must come to him of her own free will — or Ranulf will take her. For the passion that consumes them both cannot long be denied — even though gravest peril surely awaits them on the heart’s trail to a destines and turbulent love.

This one has been on my TBR for some time, and it seems to be one of the few Johanna Lindsey books I can not remember having read during my teen Lindsey binging period. It has been published and then republished (multiple times) since 1989-so it fits comfortably in the TBR Challenge parameters. And just this past fall it was brought to my attention again, and once again slipped off my radar-I even had it checked out from the library and forgot to read it. I was going to do a different book for this challenge, but I figured NOW is the time.

This should have been my jam. Heroine starts out in armor defending her home. Hero has a cat. I hear good things. But alas, by the 5th chapter I was STILL trying to force myself to read it. Even reading the last chapter didn’t entice me to continue reading. I didn’t even get to any of the good parts when I had to quit. Something about the was the author used language just put me right off and had me crinkling my nose and curling my lips into a sneer.

I tried, really I did. I don’t remember if this is the way Lindsey has always written, or if this is unique to this particular book, but it really didn’t entice me to go back and reread anything. And pleasure reading really shouldn’t be this hard, so I finally gave up.

Defy Not the Heart (Shefford's Knights, #1)
But, since I got an early start on this one and had the time, i went ahead and tried for a second one.
Cold Comfort Farm

This was another recommended read, it is the oldest book on my TBR (published in 1932), it was immediately availalble from the library, and I was hoping a change was as good as a rest.

When sensible, sophisticated Flora Poste is orphaned at nineteen, she decides her only choice is to descend upon relatives in deepest Sussex.

At the aptly named Cold Comfort Farm, she meets the doomed Starkadders: cousin Judith, heaving with remorse for unspoken wickedness; Amos, preaching fire and damnation; their sons, lustful Seth and despairing Reuben; child of nature Elfine; and crazed old Aunt Ada Doom, who has kept to her bedroom for the last twenty years.

But Flora loves nothing better than to organize other people. Armed with common sense and a strong will, she resolves to take each of the family in hand. A hilarious and merciless parody of rural melodramas, Cold Comfort Farm (1932) is one of the best-loved comic novels of all time.

I don’t know exactly what I just read, but it was unexpectedly delightful. Somehow much of it puts me in mind of my childhood memories of the Anne of Avonlea series…though I read those so long ago anyone with current experience could likely rightfully dispute me. The rest of the book is filled with onomatopoeia and ridiculousness. Half the words aren’t really words, and the rest of the words don’t often make sense when put together….if you stop and think about it. So whatever you do, don’t think about a bit of it and let the imagery the paint pictures in your mind.

So what that the cows might lose legs, and hooves, and their horns? Just enjoy how Flora cheerfully goes about managing everything in her midst until everything is just so. She plots and maneuvers with the best of intentions until everything falls perfectly into place, and then is left lonely and bereft. So what is a managing female to do but fall instantly in love with the man who won’t tolerate her managing, and him with her?

I suspect that there is much I am missing in this. But it seems the type of thing one can either read surface or deep, and enjoyment is possible at either level. I am not in raptures over it as some seem to be, but it was cute. And while I won’t likely be re-reading it, I do think I will recommend it to others. It is definitely unique if nothing else.

Cold Comfort Farm

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3.5 star review, 5 star review

OpenLibrary Review – Dream Man by Linda Howard

Dream man

This 1998 classic one was way overdue for a re-read, and the comments from my review of Troublemaker made it imperative. Dream Man is available from Openlibrary, but the usual disclaimers apply.

Detective Dane Hollister of the Orlando police department has never met anyone quite like Marlie Keen. While he has doubts about her supposed clairvoyant powers, she sees crimes as they’re being committed, there is no doubt about how much he desires her. To Marlie, Dane is all heat and hard muscle, and he makes her body come alive as it never has before. But not even she can foresee that their passion will lead them on a dangerous journey into the twisted mind of a madman who will threaten their happiness and their lives.

So things to note, I adored this book, it got 5 stars from me and I have reread it so very many times. And I still love it, but, just bear in mind these comments are me trying to read this thing with 2016 eyes. If you still love and have fond memories of this book, you just may want to look away. Because as much as I still enjoyed it, I think perhaps it didn’t hold up to time as well as others have. And considering this is such a widely read and reviewed book, well there may almost certainly be spoilers, and my comments are going to be more directed and specific than I would otherwise be. You have been warned.

Holy crap, I DID NOT remember Dane being such a stalkerish pig. I really didn’t. I will grant you that he is no where in the alphahole league as the ones I really trash, but I remember him as being a sweet hero. But really his bowling her over and moving in was slightly creepy to me now. I mean there is some genuinely witty banter, and he is rather sweet at times, but still. On the plus though it was the late 90’s version of this Athur Dayne guy-which is a must read. READ IT!!!!

Other pluses include a psychic heroine, but it somehow doesn’t strike as hardcore paranormal, she is a strong heroine who shows a huge personal growth pattern (some would say too much), the romantic connection, the sex scenes, and Dane’s partner, and the mystery and truly creepy villain. There is a ton of good stuff.

On the side of I don’t know if this is a plus or a minus-the prose is remarkably purple and I enjoyed the hell of it in the way that only a reader of the old skool possibly could, your mileage may vary.

On the negative Marlie kind of gets healed by the magic Peen, there is some acknowledged condomless sex that I had completely forgotten about (and Linda Howard is usually so wonderful with this), the hero flat betrays the heroine (not sexually, but…professionally), and there wasn’t nearly enough groveling… but the make-up sex was hot and sweet.

And back to the pluses, the epilogue, the magical wonderful baby epilogue. I know that epilogues in general get a bad rap, and baby ones even more. But seriously, this one simply must be read, to quote one of the nurses “There may be justice in this world, after all.”

So in the end what was formerly a 5 star book is probably down to a 3.5 star book for me now, still goo, still maybe a re-read, but not the top of the re-read stack. And maybe subconsciously I knew this and it was why I had such a delay in re-reading it. Who knows?

Dream Man

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3 star review

Review-If He’s Noble by Hannah Howell

If He's Noble

New York Times bestselling author Hannah Howell delivers adventure and instant attraction in this all-new Wherlocke Family novel…

For Lady Primrose Wootten nothing has been ordinary since her father the Baron died and his wayward family filled the estate with greed and treachery. Primrose knows if she can just track down her brother, he can send the odious relations on their way. But instead she finds this enormous, powerful stranger, and forgets entirely what she was doing in the first place…

Sir Bened Vaughn isn’t much afraid of a pistol. But he is a bit afraid of the woman holding it, who stirs up something so primal he’s not sure he can shake it off. Vaughn is an honorable man, and he knows he has no right to desire Primrose. Yet he does have an obligation to help her, and as they learn more about her brother’s disappearance, he realizes that means staying by her side…wanting her all the while… and wondering how much longer they can resist temptation…

So a little less than a year ago when THIS book came out, I binged, and binged, and binged, and binged, and binged, and binged (yes, that is 6) to prepare for this book and then I rather didn’t care to see another Wherlocke ever again. For some reason though this popped back to my attention and I figured maybe it was time to try to finish this off. Plus the 21rst Murray story is coming out in September, and I think I would feel guilty if I didn’t read this one first. Yes, I am strange.

What we have here is the epic trek. Primrose and Bened trek about all over the countryside killing people and foiling kidnapping and murder plots while searching for her brother. It is a romp. I actually expected a ton more “I am not good enough he/she is too good” etc, but there was only a little. What there was more of was adult like contemplation of the ramifications of their possible affair, which was a pleasant change from the usual fare.

There really wasn’t any mystery so this was more action oriented and on that it delivered fairly well. Primrose was charming and capable, and slightly ridiculous. Bened was stalwart as a good historical hero should be. And there was a ridiculous little plot pet of the man-eating purse rat variety.

I liked this one fairly well. No one was cheating, there were no protracted ridiculous separations, and there were happy endings all around (you know, if you consider bad people dying a happy ending, which I do). I hope if there is a next book it will be Modred’s, but I suspect it will be the brother’s.

If your local library has copies of these, I recommend them as a pleasant way to pass the time.

If He's Noble (Wherlocke)

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3.5 star review, Miscellaneous

Review – Where the Wild Things Bite by Molly Harper

Where the Wild Things Bite

Delivering a rare book to a valued customer is definitely part of mild-mannered archivist Anna Winthrop’s job description. You know what isn’t? Protecting her precious cargo from mid-flight theft by the very pilot who is flying her to Half-Moon Hollow…while trying to appear as unappetizing as possible to the only other passenger, a vampire. Undead bookstore owner Jane Jameson could be waiting a very long time for her book. Possibly forever.

Fortunately, Anna’s dashing fanged companion Finn Palmeroy helps her fend off the attack, but not before their plane crash lands in the forest hundreds of miles from civilization. Great, now she’s stranded with a priceless tome and a rakish vampire whose bedtime is fast approaching. Why does everyone want this book so badly, anyway? Anna just wants to get it to Jane before Finn decides to turn her into dinner-or sweep her off her feet. Okay, the second option is really tempting. But they’re not out of the woods yet…

Molly Harper is another funny favorite of mine and this is the fifth book in her Half-Moon Hollow series which is itself a spin off from her 4 book Jane Jameson series. She sort of specializes in shady characters, and this one might be one of the shadiest yet. We met Finn when he was kind of  up to no good in the last book (there was something there but he was just too damned shady), and he is pretty well up to his same old tricks.

Anna may be the most neurotic and idiosyncratic character I have read in a long, long time. She has mommy issues, and dating issues, and self esteem issues, and medical issues. Yes, issues, she has them. But she is stronger and more capable than she knows, thought still far from perfect. Plus, she’s a librarian who handles rare paranormal manuscripts, how could we resist that? The answer is that we can’t!

This seemed incredibly short and fundamentally ridiculous, and I enjoyed ever insane second of it. There’s immolating vampires, crazed homicidal pilots named Ernie, banter in the woods, freaky shifters with poor communication skills, betrayal, and new found friendship. It MUST be love.

Honestly, I recommend this series to anyone who enjoys their romance ridiculous, funny, and filled with female friendships.

Where the Wild Things Bite (Half-Moon Hollow, #5)

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4 star review

Review – This is All I Ask by Lynn Kurland

This is All I Ask

Set near the Scottish border at a rugged castle on the edge of the sea, this is the story of a courageous lord who lost everything he held dear. Of a strong young woman willing to sacrifice everything for happiness. Two lost souls who find in each other a reason to live again, to laugh again, and to love for the first time…

I am not quite entirely sure how this book ended up on my TBR, particularly with none of the other books in the series read or an my TBR. But I suspect it somehow came to my attention after reading Candle in the Window and becoming interested in how blind protagonists are treated after reading The Arrangement.

It turns out that this is also somewhat a paranormal, and we have witches, I suspect from they way they are presented here they have been meddling along in the series and will continue to meddle. So yep, a historical paranormal with a blind hero.

Fortunately it is only a touch paranormal, the rest is just historical. We have the rough, tough cream puff hero, who protects himself due to prior emotional wounding. He also happens to be blind, and a little self-pitying. So while he will marry the heroine due to a long-standing promise and his honor, he is determined not to love her or care for her (beyond being a proper husband) or like it in any way. We have the kind, but living in fear heroine who initially fears the hero, but learns to first trust and then love, and then learns courage and her own self-worth. And then we have a cast of humorous and sympathetic characters, and of course the heroine’s father-the villain.

Man, oh, man, this book is almost painfully sweet. I don’t mean that in a bad way, just, it is so sweet, but you know the other shoe is about to drop sometime. It is also on occasion, whether intentionally or not, kind of humorous. Not like it is a comedy, but just enough to leaven the topics and make you feel happy reading it instead of entrenched in the doom and gloom of what are some pretty awful situations. And we also have a hero who is in touch with his own emotions on a level that I find delightful but that may leave readers who prefer a more traditional alpha hero feeling a little uncomfortable, YMMV.

And another thing I really enjoyed, we have no miracles here. Things are what they are, our characters have to live through and with the things that have happened to them, but separately and together they grow as individuals and find their way through and together. Which is a mishmash way of saying we have a delightful happily ever after with two characters who are more than happy to depend on one another but aren’t exactly dependent on one another, if you see what I mean. Looking at this objectively, I would probably have given this 3 stars, but , but for me this is one where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and it is an emotional event that I will likely return to. However, the rest of the two series this book is entwined with seem to have a significant number of time travel books, so I doubt it will be a glommable series for me.

This Is All I Ask (de Piaget, #6; de Piaget/MacLeod, #3)

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