5 star review, Miscellaneous, Thoughts and Opinions

Random Re-reads: A Review January-April

I may not be reading anything new, but I am still doing quite a lot of re-reading (in fact a few books I have already re-read a couple of times just this year). And I absolutely adore that Goodreads tracks re-reads now. It is giving me some interesting insight. I base my grades on how re-readable I think a book will be, but it is absolutely fascinating just how many 3 & 4 star books I am going back to right now. Granted, many of them are 5 stars, but some of the ones I read a couple of times even weren’t. It makes a case for readjusting ratings, and I think I might do that for some of them.

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The overall theme seems to be laugh out loud until I cry, and/or women whose lives are awful outside of their own personal control. That is probably pretty telling.

And here are the 3 stars:

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And here are the 4 stars:

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So yeah, over half of my rereads weren’t even 5 stars. Maybe I just burnt out on rereading the 5 stars? Maybe where I am at in my life there are things in those books that just call to me. But overall, strong indomitable women, with problems that are not internal, and constant or near constant risk of death and dismemberment seem to be what is calling to me. That being the case it is no wonder only some tried and true authors are really calling to me.

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4.5 star review, Miscellaneous

Review – The Unyielding by Shelly Laurenston

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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)

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Miscellaneous

Review – Shadow Falling by Rebecca Zanetti

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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.

Before the Scorpius Syndrome tore through North America and nearly wiped out the population, Vivienne Kennedy was the FBI’s best profiler. The bacteria got her anyway. But she survived. She recovered. And when she woke up from a drug-nightmare of captivity, her skills as a hunter of men had gone from merely brilliant to full-on uncanny. Her mysterious rescuer wants her to put them to the test. But no matter how tempting he is, with his angel’s eyes and devil’s tongue, Vinnie knows she shouldn’t trust him.

If the FBI were still around they would rate Raze Shadow as one of the bad guys. His military training can’t wipe out his association with the Mercenaries, the most feared gang in a thousand miles. His loyalties are compromised. He won’t even tell Vinnie his real name. But there’s no FBI in the new America of fear and firepower, only instinct and risk. And the way his arms wrap around her tells its own story. Whatever else Raze is concealing, he can’t hide his desire . .

I’ll admit, I’m am one contrary reader. I snapped this up when the opportunity presented itself because of my response to the first book in the series, and then once I had it…I put off reading because I knew betrayal was a major theme and that is hard for me.

Shadow Falling (The Scorpius Syndrome, #2)

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4 star review, Miscellaneous

Book Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer Lunar Chronicles 2 (audio)

 

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Here is another multi-faceted installment in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and it is just as entertaining as the first. Similar in structure to Cinder, Scarlet covers the ongoing story-lines of Lihn Cinder, Emperor Kaito, Lunar Queen Levana, and seamlessly introduces Scarlet Benoit, Wolf (Ze’ev) and Thorne to the mix. Each chapter in the novel flips between the primary story-lines showing how they are beginning to intertwine and overlap as the overall plot takes shape.

Scarlet is Meyer’s take on Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, with just enough similarity to make the connection, but not so much as to alter the overall path of the series. Some commonalities include the Wolf (of course), a missing grandmother and the red hooded girl. This tale picks up around the same time Cinder ends, with the newsreels of Cinder’s fall down the stairs at the coronation.  

Scarlet Benoit lives in the rural town of Rieux, France with her grandmother Michelle Benoit, retired military pilot turned farmer. We learn early on that Michelle has been missing for approximately 2 weeks and that local law enforcement has closed the case due to lack of evidence. Scarlet is certain that her grandmother was taken unwillingly, primarily because of their close relationship and the fact that Michelle’s ID chip was left behind. Those chips are only removed when you want to fall off the grid or if you want to ensure that someone isn’t found. Scar won’t rest until her grandmother is found, and she will do everything in her power to succeed.  

Wolf is a little rough around the edges and gives off a predatory vibe that causes most people to take wide leave of him. Wolf starts off as a pretty shady creeper out to harm Scarlet, but he turns into something so much more. Originally, Scarlet met Wolf in passing during her produce deliveries, but she ran into him again at her home. After recovering from the shock of finding a stranger on her farm, Scar and Wolf create a tentative agreement to find Grandmere Michelle Benoit and take down a Lunar organization called LSO. Can she trust a man like Wolf? She knows nothing about him or his past, but she is putting her life in his paws..I mean hands…or do I?

Catching up with the Cinder-Crew worked in well considering that Scarlet isn’t truly a sequel to the first installment, but rather a parallel timeline that slightly overlaps where we left off in book 1. Scarlet isn’t the only who meets a new man, Cinder stumbles across a guy too….while she was breaking out of prison. The discovery of her Lunar heritage and the events surrounding the coronation landed her in jail until Levana could deal with her, as dictated by an older Earthen/Lunar agreement which prevents the harboring of Lunars on earth. With the help of fellow inmate, Carswell Thorne and Dr. Erland, Cinder begins a journey to find answers about her past.

So many things happened book 2 that I couldn’t summarize every aspect without rewriting an entire novel, but one major event was an act of world-war treacherously ordered by Queen Levana in the middle of the night. To take her stand against Cinder, Kai and the perceived injustices of the Commonwealth, the Lunar Queen uses an army of super-soldiers to slaughter thousands of Earthens on each continent. Kai offers to make the ultimate sacrifice to end the world-wide siege, and nearly breaks Cinder’s heart in the process.  

This series is so addicting that I had to ensure that book 3 was downloaded before Scarlet was even over! It’s interesting to see how the original characters interact and grow alongside the newbies. While some things are expected, like people falling in love or disagreeing, other topics are nice surprises. The depth of each character isn’t sacrificed to ensure that each has their story told individually. I think it helps that they are all around the same general age, have experienced hardships and disappointments, and have a desire to see a better Earth free from the Lunar Queen.

 

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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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3.5 star review, Miscellaneous

Review – The Lady Who Saw Too Much by Thomasine Rappold

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Cursed with prophetic visions and desperate to atone for a death she could have prevented, Gianna York swears she will never again ignore the chance to save a life. When she is hired by Landen Elmsworth to serve as companion to his sister, Gia repeatedly sees the image of her employer’s lifeless corpse floating in Misty Lake. As subsequent visions reveal more details, Gia soon realizes her best chance to save this difficult man is by becoming his wife.

At first, Landen Elmsworth believes the fetching Miss York might be right for a meaningless dalliance, but he grossly underestimates her capacity for cunning and soon finds himself bound until death to a woman he may never be able to trust. Yet in the dark of their bedroom they discover an undeniable passion–and a capacity to forge their own destiny . . .

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 previously read The Lady Who Lived Again on something of a whim, but found it interesting enough to go ahead and try the second in the series.

I can’t quite decide if I find the second one interesting enough to continue though. In these pages we have a clairvoyant heroine, a damaged and oblivious hero, a sister who is the epitome of wallflower, a brother who is a bit of a prat, a feisty domineering aunt, and a smarmy villain.

We start with a vision that leads to a marriage of inconvenience. Our main couple staggers along between mistrust and disbelief with very in the way of communication. They do however have a good bit of chemistry, and the mystery is engaging enough. It is just that I don’t like Gianna as much as I did Madeleine. I think the story was a bit better actually then the last one, but for me it is often more about characters. A character I really like will let me forgive much more in a story.

It is tough for me to rate this one. Compared to the previous story, I like the hero better, I like the mystery better, I like the supporting characters better, and I like the main characters as a couple better. You would think that would add up to me liking this story better, but somehow it doesn’t. And it isn’t that I dislike the heroine of this one, I just didn’t like her as much, and for me that makes all the difference somehow. I am giving it about the same rating, but for vastly different reasons.

We also get a nice little cameo from Madeleine and Jace and an indication the two heroines will become friends. I am still holding out hope somewhere-some when, Dolly gets her HEA, but she doesn’t feature in this story at all, so I will have to go on hoping.

The Lady Who Saw Too Much (The Sole Survivor Series)

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