4.5 star review, Miscellaneous

Review – The Unyielding by Shelly Laurenston


The Unyielding

Stieg Engstrom, Angriest Viking Ever, has got big problems. The human Viking Clans of earth are in danger of being obliterated—along with the rest of the world—and the only one who may be able to save them is a super pain-in-the-ass Crow. Most people annoy Stieg, but this is the one woman he really can’t stand…

Erin Amsel loves being a Crow! Why wouldn’t she when the other Viking Clans are so hilariously arrogant and humorless? She’s not about to let all that come to an end! She just didn’t expect to be shoulder to shoulder in battle with Stieg. Then again, he’s so easy to torment—and also kind of cute.

With the future of the world riding on them, Stieg knows he’ll have to put aside his desperate need to kiss the smirk right off Erin’s face. Wait. What? He didn’t mean that—did he? No! They have one goal: To conquer the idiots. Because nothing bugs Stieg more than when idiots win. If only he can keep himself from suddenly acting like one….

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.

Erin “Fire Hands” Amsel is a bit of a dick, ok, not just a little bit, but a real dick. She messes with people because she can, She’s A.D.D. extreme with a snarky attitude and a puckish sense of humor, and I ADORE her like the sun!. Of course being that we share a name, I was predisposed to favor her, but I have enjoyed her offbeat worldview from the start of the first book, and this one just makes it better. This is book 3 in the series, and while perhaps they can be read as standalones (I mean each book has its own story arc that is complete), I discourage it in this case because there is an overall arc Laurenston is building, and relationships that won’t exactly make sense without reading them in order.

So, a quick primer: imagine a world where are the gods are real, albeit flawed creatures. Powerful, but unable to act on the world except through their human intermediaries. And I mean all of them, Christians, Hindu, and most importantly; VIKING. Yes dear gentle readers we have Viking mythology on steroids…and probably some LSD. And needless to say based on the Nordic Pantheon, their human clans are NOT the best of friends.

And once upon a time, while the Viking clans were doing what they do, Skuld-Norn of Fate, occasional Valkyrie rider, she who cuts the thread and sometimes unweaves what her older sisters make, decided to dip her hand into influencing the humans. Of course, being sometimes bent of humor, as little sisters tend to be; she didn’t pick pure bred rape loving Vikings. Nope, she picked only women, only slaves and the abused who had mostly been killed, with a motto of “Let rage be your guide.” whose avatars are crows. Who says fate can’t have a sense of humor?

Now the purpose of the human clans is to prevent the end of days (Ragnarok for the vikings, but if any one religions end times come it would actually create a cascade of all religions end times), and to find the gods lost items of power, and to train as warrior when Ragnarok does come. Basically, they are all hitmen and women for their respective gods. The Crows, due to their history are just a bit more of hot messes than the rest of the clans though, but seeing as how rather than being born into the life, they are REborn into their second lives, they make the most of it.

So there is an overall big baddie they are trying to fight who we meet in The Unleashing; along with the first heroine Kera (a former Marine) as well as the Ravens who are hot as hell burly Vikings and owe their fealty to Odin-and which sets you up to understand the Clans and all the mythology. In the next book, The Undoing, we get to know Kera’s teamate Jacinda Berisha (former cult leader’s wife and Berserker), as well as the Protectors, who are OCD book loving Owls owing fealty to Tyr-and which sets us up for an upcoming showdown. And now we have the The Unyielding, which pairs up the meanest of the crows with the angriest of the Vikings-a pairing guaranteed to set sparks firing.

Seriously, these two can’t STAND each other, and it is hilarious. But with the fate of the world hanging in the balance, of course they both have to step up, and of course they fall in love and discover the secret things hidden in each other. (Dude, the angriest viking ever is so freaking adorkable!)

Here’s the thing, and why I adore Shelly Laurenston. Her heroines aren’t demure, or sweet or any of that. They are large and in charge and take no crap from anyone. And the snark; it abounds. So don’t expect sweet romance or angsty “will we wont we”, these are women who know what they want and will damned well TAKE it if they want it. I LOVE these women and I reread Laurenston’s books regularly. All I can say about this story, like I say about all of them, is buckle up for a violent and hilarious ride full of crazysauce along with the plot pets (this one has goats!), and prepare to have a good time.

So the world is saved for another day, hero and heroine are happy-ish (I mean come on, you can’t expect hearts and flowers for the dick and the angriest viking-but they seem to enjoy it), and prepare to get ready to save the world all over again tomorrow.

Interestingly, I have absolutely NO clue who the next book will be about, which is unusual for me. Will it be the former sociopath turned psychologist Crow Annalisa? The socially awkward and OCD Owl, Bear. The hypochodriac Crow Maeve? The booty shaking, dancing man and accountant Raven Siggy? Some odd and hitherto never guessed combination? Honestly, I have absolutely no clue, but with a cast of characters like this all I can say is I am so ready and will be thrilled no matter who it is, because Laurenston never disappoints.

The Unyielding (Call Of Crows, #3)

4.5 star review

December TBR Challenge 2016 Sky Raiders by Michelle Diener

TBR Challenge 2016

Topic: Holiday Themes

Sky Raiders.jpg

If you are reading this, there will be no public shaming this month. But, because I am a Scrooge and tend to despise holiday stories, there will be NO holiday story. Bah-humbug! In fact I have completely gone off the map, this is a very new story, and it wasn’t even on my TBR because I didn’t even know it was coming out until it was released. SO I am reviewing it, because screw you 2016, you suck and I am going to do what I want.

Without further ado, here’s my pick for the final TBR challenge of 2016, Merry Christmas to ME!

First they flew their mysterious sky craft through the skies of Barit. Then they started attacking. Finally, they began to raid.

Garek’s one year of duty as a guard walking the walls of Garamundo was extended to two when the sky raiders appeared. Two long years away from home and his lover, Taya. When he finally returns, the town is empty. While Garek was protecting Garamundo, the sky raiders were taking their victims from his hometown.

Taya can’t bear looking into the night sky. All she can see is Barit, her home planet. Impossibly, the sky raiders have brought her and their other victims to Shadow, the planet that shadows her own, and looking up makes her aware of everything she’s lost. Garek is out there somewhere. She knows he’ll look, but he’ll never find her.

She and the other captives have to find a way to escape. Without the food and clothes the sky raiders bring them from their raids on Barit, they’ll starve on the almost barren wastes of Shadow. And when they’ve given the sky raiders enough of what they want, that’s exactly what the sky raiders will leave them to do.

She does have an idea of how she can break free–the sky raiders have brought them to Shadow to mine for ore. A very special ore which Taya has worked out is as dangerous to the sky raiders as it is valuable.

What she doesn’t realize is she’ll have some help with her plan. Because Garek isn’t giving up. And he’s even more resourceful than she could ever have imagined.

Nothing is going to keep him from Taya. Not even space itself.

I am not sure what I expected when I started this. I mean it was an autobuy because it is Michelle Diener and she hasn’t hit a wrong note with me yet. I didn’t even really read the blurb, I just one clicked when the release day email came. I’ll just start by saying I found myself raising my eyebrows a little once I started. Not what I was expecting after the previous books I’d read would be an understatement.

But here is what we have. On a foreign planet where there is significant civil discord, sky raiders have taken to, well…the raiding of both personnel and resources. We have two young lovers who have been parted first by the civil discord, and next by the raiders. As the story progresses we alternate between Taya, a forthright women who stands up for and to people, and her love-Garekek. They are a good match for one another, and you can see it by how they each respond to the events in their respective story lines, but I’ll admit I found it a little disconcerting for their stories to play out so much apart (almost half), no matter how each thought of the other, but because of their long-standing history, it did work for me.

But on the plus side we got to see a strong female friendship develop between Taya and a woman named Min (she seems like a sharp cookie, and a sweet lady), and that is always a favorite for me. And there was an almost as well-developed male friendship with young aristocrat Aidan. So yeah, the main characters developing relationships outside the one between them is almost always a winning combo for me and these were charming.

This book is the start of a series, so there is quite a bit of info woven into it to set it up for future stories. There are certain powers involved that I won’t disclose because I expect it might be considered spoilerish, and we start to see the clash of cultures and policies that field the civil discord. While there’s action and intrigue to go along with our love story, there is also a ton of politics that sets the stage for future books. Your mileage may vary, but I enjoy politics when it isn’t the near apocalyptic horror we have encroaching on our daily lives like current events, so we’ll just say I found it interesting and enough to hold the threads of future tales together.

As for this particular story, not just how I see the series going, I enjoyed it a lot and will probably re-read it. But, the ending felt a little rushed, and it wasn’t as tied up as I tend to prefer my love stories. But, I am avidly looking forward to future stories in the series and hope to see more of Min, Aidan, and a young man named Dom (a really interesting character but to tell more I would have to spoil things).

Sky Raiders (Sky Raiders, #1)

4.5 star review

Review – Warrior Wench by Marie Andreas


Vaslisha Tor Dain is a mercenary starship captain with a few simple rules: A good ship is better than a great man, in case of confusion always err on the side of blowing someone’s head off, and never fall for a telepath or a member of her crew.

All of those are about to bite her in the ass.

Vas’s life takes a turn for the worse when she comes back to her crew after what should have been a two week pleasure trip to find out she’s actually been gone a month and has no memory of missing time. Her beloved ship, The Victorious Dead, has been sold for scrap and its pieces scattered throughout the galaxy. In addition, there are unmarked ships blowing apart entire planets and the Commonwealth government can’t, or won’t, stop them.

And that’s just her first day back.

Vas has to fight her crew, the Commonwealth, and a mysterious cadre of warrior monks to get her ship back and save a universe that may not want to be saved.

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.

Yeah, I don’t pick books that I think I WON’T like, but still, I found this book to be unexpectedly fantastic!

What we have here is a space epic adventure story with the humor and sense of ridiculous of Robert Aspiren’s Phule’s series with some of the epic galactic scope of Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series. And while there is a hint of a romance, it is NOT a romance. And our heroine is a smart mouthed merc with a mysterious back story and unknown capabilities. In many ways Vas remind’s me a bit of Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniels. It is nothing like a copy cat, don’t get me wrong, and Vas has way more ties than Kate ever did, but there are just some parallels that caught my attention.

There are a couple of different mysteries swirling around, not all of which get resolved since it is a series, a cast of endearing and likable (if unlikely) heroes, and it is all wrapped up in writing that kept me hooked throughout.

It is fun, it is a romp, and I seriously think this series will be going somewhere in the future and will be avidly looking forward to the next book in the series. This is one book where I wish I could do better justice in my review because I really want to see this author find a market so the series will continue. And in that I am serious, serious enough to have bought it even though I got a free review copy, and anyone who knows me in real life knows what a miserly person I am.

Warrior Wench (The Asarlaí Wars, #1)

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.


4.5 star review

Review – Dark Deeds by Michelle Diener

Dark Deeds

Holy heck, how did I miss that this one was coming out? How on earth did I miss it getting posted to Goodreads and Netgalley? Why doesn’t Netgalley let us flag authors for alerts? I guess this one is as much of a surprise for the year as last year’s book Dark Horse, which I adored. I mean seriously adored, I’ve since read it probably a dozen times, and I am going to read it after finishing Dark Deeds. It is on sale for $0.99 for a limited time, so I implore you to pick it up, read it, and love it! Even Nalini Singh loved it. And it will likely remain on my compulsive rereads shelf for a good long while. I was in fact so excited for this book, that even though I was offered an ARC, I went ahead and bought it because I simply could not wait for the Netgalley widget.

Far from home . . .

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.

Far from safe . . .

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.

Far from done . . .

Fiona has had to bide her time while she’s been a prisoner, pretending to be less than she is, but when the chance comes for her to forge her own destiny in this new world, she grabs it with both hands. After all, actions speak louder than words.

I was nervous to start it though, as I almost always am when reading the sequel to a beloved book. Would it not live up to my expectations. Would it just be a boring clone? Would it go in a direction I didn’t enjoy? Man oh man, did this one surprise me though, but in the best way possible. Rose and Fiona are categorically different people, and their situations are also wildly different.

I don’t know what to say. Fiona is just a spitfire, and her role and relationship with the Grih is distinctly more adversarial than Rose’s. Things are really heating up with the United Council and absolutely no one is happy about it, and while the end of Dark Horse parlayed into significant gains for Rose, Sazo, and Dav, it set the stage for discontent toward other Earthlings. Completely unintended consequences, but that is truly the theme in this series.

Honestly I am just fascinated by the world and cultures Diener is creating, and how she is weaving the idea of sentience into artificial intelligence in a really relateable way. While I would describe Dark Horse as not quite a romance, I would say this isn’t a romance at all. There IS a romantic thread but the story isn’t even about their relationship (the relationship works, and works well though), really this focuses on war, society/culture, science fiction, and a stranger in a strange land. It is also much more action/adventure oriented, but that seems appropriate both due to the fact that we already have a solid hold on this world, and because of the different situations our two main characters found themselves in, as well as the general course of events and the effects these events are having on their society. As I said, despite their similarities, Rose and Fiona are two very different people, and their stories are different as well.

So what can I say? I adored this book. I could hardly put it down, in fact I was reading this while some technicians were finishing some work after my work day had ended, and I could hardly make myself put it down long enough to drive the 5 minutes to my house. It is that good. But if I have to be honest, and I always try to be, I prefer Dark Horse by just a tiny little smidge. I don’t think it is even possible for a sequel to hit with the groundbreaking intensity of Dark Horse, because part of that was how unexpected it was. So this is getting 4.5 stars from me, but I couldn’t be more thrilled with it as a sequel (even though it went in a completely unexpected direction), and when we get the next story I will be first in line to buy it. In fact, if I am not completely oblivious like I was this time I might just take a day off work to read it. This series is THAT good.

Dark Deeds (Class 5, #2)

4.5 star review

Review and retrospect – Burning Wild by Christine Feehan

Burning Wild

So after the debacles which were Cat’s Lair and Wild Cat, I just had to finally go back and re-read an earlier one to see if I was so very mistaken or if my preferences had changed so dramatically.

Born into a world of twisted monsters, Jake Bannaconni is shaped and molded into a cold, revenge driven man. Honed in the fires of hell, he controls his world and rules with an iron hand. He has everything and anything money can buy. He’s ruthless, merciless and considered a man to leave alone. His hidden legacy, that of a shapeshifter, makes him doubly dangerous in the corporate world.

Emma Reynolds is a woman who knows how to love and love well. When their two worlds collide, Jake’s plans for a complete take over, may just come tumbling down.

I was really afraid it wouldn’t live up to my memories. But no, this is really almost as good as I remembered, and it is nothing like the most current Leopard series.

I mean there are some surface similarities. The heroes are super dominant and not always likable and the heroines are somewhat dependent. But deeper, there is a wide chasm of difference.

Jake may be aggressive, dominant, and emotionally closed off, but we as readers know PRECISELY why. He is more of a “real” character than later ones. We learn him through his history, and even his wrongheaded actions match up well with his history, his perspective in life, and his emotions. Plus, he at least often tries to moderate the worst of his impulses and he acknowledges his internal damage and sets up an escape hatch for Emma clearly explaining, should I ever hurt you, you go to these people for help leaving me and you never-ever return to me. And after the initial “let me make you dependent on me” stratagems, he was rather upfront with Emma.

And Emma feels reasonably real too. She has a spine, albeit a cat’s hyper-flexible one, but she does have agency, and she will stand up to him, and there is much more to their relationship besides sex. She makes decisions, she sets things in motion, and she does some of the actual fighting and tracking.

While the sex is still kind of dark and the relationship between Jake and Emma isn’t exactly a healthy one, it is miles away from what happens in later books.

I sincerely don’t know what has happened to this series. The later books seem to have lost characters, plot, history/culture/mythology, and the sex got weird. Where is the emotional connection to the characters, where’s the depth? What happened to the Leopard culture and the reincarnation thing? And damn it, why do I feel like I am reading those creepy old skool historicals where the heroine is a teen and still a child when she marries with all the patriarchal BS included?

So for any of you out there fearing going back to the earlier books, re-read unabashedly, we aren’t crazy and this doesn’t seem to be the same series anymore.

Burning  Wild (Leopard People, #3)

4.5 star review

Review – Feel the Burn by G.A. Aiken

War makes strange bedfellows.

I, Gaius Domitus, one-eyed rebel dragon king of the Provinces, know that better than most, since I have to fight off half my ungrateful family on a regular basis to keep law and order here in my lands. But I never expected to have to consort with a barbarian human woman.

Kachka is beautiful, if you like them fierce—and of course I do. But she keeps complaining about how spoiled and decadent I am, and how a feared Daughter of the Steppes has no time for foolish dragons. I think she likes my eye patch, though. It is quite dashing. With death always at our tails, we take our passion like we take our allies. As they say, love the barbarian you’re with…

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.

I’ll admit I was hoping we’d FINALLY get Gaius’ story when I read Light My Fire, and to be honest I was a bit baffled when it wasn’t his turn. But I ended up loving Celwyn the Charming and Elina Shestakova of the Black Bear Riders of the Midnight Mountains of Despair in the Far Reaches of the Steppes of the Outerplains for themselves. And it lead us to the perfect heroine for Gaius, so it was absolutely worth the wait.

This is book 8 in the series (really, it seems like half the books I’ve reviewed for the past year have been book 8 in a series), and it isn’t a stand alone, so stop now and start at the beginning. No seriously, this series is too much fun and there will likely be spoilers for previous books in this review. For more information about reading order and the mystery of the changing author names, see my previous review.

Now onto my gushing. Aiken/Laurenston is one of my absolute favorite authors. Let me give you a clear picture of my great love for this author. I am a freaking cheap skate. My husband says with great relish that I am so cheap I squeak when I walk, well he doesn’t say it exactly like that, but close enough for government work. And my love for this author is so great that despite the fact that I now have my hot little hands on and ARC and can read it for free, I kept it on pre-order and am still going to pay my hard-earned money on it. If that doesn’t express my love for this author I can’t imagine what will, I mean I am the sort of person who drinks only water at restaurants because eff paying that kind of mark-up on a beverage.

But you dear readers don’t care about my great and terrible love, or my equally terrible cheapness. You care about the story. A wonderful story about a psychotic queen, ball busting steppes women, and dragons. Because really, what else is there to care about? But don’t worry, this is Aiken, and that is exactly what we get.

This was a romp in the truest sense of the word. Yes, there is an evil cult trying to gain traction in the world so the sightless god can destroy all who would oppose him. And yes this furthers the existing story arc. But it is still predominantly Kachka and Gaius’ story, and I adore them like the suns. I seriously didn’t think any characters could out crazy the dragons, but the Daughter of the Steppes take the cake. Loud, aggressive, dominant, uncouth, and completely matriarchal – they are hilarious. And they way they butt heads against the arrogant male dragons (or really anyone) is not to be missed.

And it was flat enjoyable getting to know King Gaius better. And seeing how he just came to life under Kachka’s influence was glorious. The two have adventures, singly and together. The make friends and find themselves and their places in the world. And now with the Scourge of the Gods at his side, how can he lose?

This was a really enjoyable story, assuming you enjoy loud and ridiculous characters, which I do. It also turned out the be a turning point in the story arc and makes recent events make much more sense. Which is kind of odd, because while those events are overall important, they weren’t an intrusion into the main character’s stories. I love it when an author can manage that. I am giving this book 4.5 stars, and I can’t wait to find out who is featured in the next one.

Feel the Burn (Dragon Kin, #8)

4.5 star review

OpenLibrary Review – Ransom by Julie Garwood


This book is available on OpenLibrary, but since I am re-reading my own copy I am unable to vouch for the integrity of the scan.

This is the sequel to The Secret, and the hero of this book is the rough, tough and growly Brodick, featured heavily in that book. Don’t you just love a good growly hero?

Gillian the heroine is also a strong, capable, (are you starting to see a pattern in Garwood’s heroines?) and wily heroine, and there is a delightful friendship between her and another woman, which as I have previously mentioned, is an aspect I enjoy in my reading. But really? I have to be honest, Brodick is who makes this story for me. He’s such a delightfully crotchety and recalcitrant hero that I could just eat him up with a spoon. Also, the plot is much more exciting than the previous story.

This particular story is unique in that there are actually a couple of different mysteries to be solved, and you can definitely see in this story how Garwood was starting to transition to romantic suspense. Ransom was published December 1999 and then one month later, as far as I can tell, is when her first romantic suspense was published. And she’s only published one more historical since she started writing romantic suspense, the conclusion of this series, which neatly ties in to the contemporary romantic suspense series. There are actually a few Easter eggs for fans of her historicals in her current series.

There are also two romances going on here, which some people find the second a bit tacked on, but I appreciated the foil the two heroes provide for each other. The secondary hero, Ramsey, is a beautiful and much harried by women character. He is the obviously kind and compassionate to Brodick’s gruff, tough, and unrelenting. And the two are best friends, though they wouldn’t talk about their relationship like that. However, Brodick seems to be the more astute in understanding human nature, albeit perhaps only slightly. Ramsey is a very stupid man 😉

The crux of the story is that Gillian is on a mission to go into the highlands to find her missing sister and a box belonging to the king of England. There is a mystery tied to the box and the villain of the story, Baron Alford, needs to obtain it in order to cover his crimes, and is holding Gillian’s uncle hostage to ensure her cooperation. Meanwhile, Laird Ramsey is having unrest in his own clan as he attempts to merge a smaller, leaderless clan into his own (at their request), and a young boy has been stolen and brought to Baron Alford for nefarious purposes. So, Gillian decides to rescue the boy, bring him back to his family, find the treasure, and rescue her uncle. Fortunately for her, the child she rescues has Brodick for a protector.

And that is not even the half of it. Writing it out like that makes it seem preposterous and ridiculous, but let me tell you, somehow it all seems very reasonable while you are reading. The banter though, that does tend toward the comically ridiculous, but in a good way. It is funny, not laugh out loud funny, more giggling funny, but funny nonetheless.

Evil doers get their comeuppance, good guys win, true love prevails-even for the curmudgeonly, and all that jazz. This is a happy, fun book that that isn’t just about the two protagonists. It is another one that makes my comfort reads.

Ransom (Highlands' Lairds, #2)

4.5 star review

Review – Linesman by S. K. Dunstall


This book was a recommended read from Ilona Andrews, whose opinion I trust, and the blurb somehow reminded me of Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax, when it comes to space piloting, which I found fascinating. I read the first chapter excerpt and couldn’t wait to get it, so it actually jumped the line over several things that should have been first. I was also pretty pleased that it breaks my cycle of eyes in science fiction (while those have overall been successful for me-it would be tedious if that was only how I found science fiction books), and that it was a male protagonist with no reported romance interest, like The Martian, which was a highly successful read for me. So my goal for this was as an entertaining palate cleanser.

And I have to say, if nothing else, the politics were rather fascinating. Which is a funny thing to say, and sounds like damning with faint praise, but truly, the politics were fascinating. And it was an excellent contrast or background for an affable, self effacing man who thinks more of the work than the politics, and whom you can’t help but like. He’s out of sync in more ways than one, but a likable underdog for the reader to get behind,

This is definitively science fiction, but I think it would be accessible to even non-science fiction readers, because the science isn’t heavy (though there are sentient ships which is always a cool feature), plus there is plenty of action and adventure, and interesting character studies. I truly liked most of the characters, i wanted to see them prevail, I wanted the ships to be heard, it is a story where there is always someone to root for. And while the linesmen aren’t the pilots, it was very satsifying for the technicians to be the heroes of the story, not the more glory filled professions.

Like I said, I really enjoyed this story and I couldn’t be happier that it looks like a sequel is in the works, since this is a world I’d like to spend more time in and see how future developments unfold.


4.5 star review

Review: Silk and Steel by Kat Martin

Silk and Steel

Earlier this month I was wandering around the Minneapolis/St . Paul airport, trying to waste some time while I waited for my flight.  I found a fairly good-sized book shop and my inner bookworm overpowered my frugal sensibilities and the hunt began.  My first time through, nothing caught my attention,  but on second glance the stereotypical cover art of a historical romance reeled me in! At the time I didn’t know this was the second book in a series, and it didn’t have the feel of a serial. I also didn’t know that this was an older title. I found it on the new release wall (with a new release price), but as I collected the image and link for this post I discovered that it was from the early 2000’s.

I love love love these cookie cutter books. Even though they mostly follow the same outline (ie lady in distress either convinced or entraps an affluent man into marriage ), I enjoy the nuances that each author uses to make their story unique.

Kat Martin’s SIlk and Steel is no exception to this concept. Her character development was well done, engaging and not too cliché. There was sex, but it wasn’t just about the sex. The characters had to learn about each other, and through that emerging friendship the reader gained some insight to the lives of each individual. I would recommend this title, without hesitation. It was a quick read, with a total time of about 4 hours. The total page count is about 370 pages.

Lady Kathryn Grayson has had a bit of bad luck. Her parents have both died, and with no close relatives to act as her guardian Kathryn (and her inheritance) was overseen by her Uncle Lord Dunstan. To keep the money close, and Kathryn out-of-the-way Dunstan has her imprisoned in a home for the mentally ill. This claim of insanity was based on a peculiar hobby Kathryn enjoyed taking part in during the late hours of the night. For nearly a year she suffered at the hands of those that should have protected her; but while she waited, she planned. Once an opportunity presented itself Kathryn made am escape and fell into the world she once had once belonged to…and into the home of Lucien Montaine.

It’s a topsy-turvy romance, with just enough suspense and drama to keep it interesting. It was a solid read and a great intro to a new writer for myself. I can’t wait to see what else Martin has to offer.