A Bit of Everything

I’m starting to realise I actually read a lot last October, despite doing what I thought were 15-hour working days.  Here’s what else ended up on my Goodreads shelves (as always, additional commentary in italics).

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Angels of DarknessAngels of Darkness by Ilona Andrews (urban fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

ANGELS was an anthology that was worth the money for me. Usually anthologies tend to have at least one author I’m indifferent to, but this one had the bonus of me liking (if not loving) all four contributors.

I loved the peek into Ilona Andrews’ new Alpha world – more please? It was definitely darker and scarier compared to their Kate/Curran books, more reminiscent of their The Edge universe somehow. Sharon Shinn’s Samaria novella – well, I’m a total Samaria fangirl and while this was not the strongest story ever, just being able to revisit the world made the story worth it for me. And I liked Meljean Brook’s Guardian contribution despite me having stalled out early in her series (I suspect I would have gotten a whole lot more out of this story if I had known the full backstory), while Nalini Singh’s novella was enjoyable even though I haven’t loved her latest Guild Hunter books.

I think this was one of the anthologies I was most excited about last year, especially as it had a Samaria story.  I didn’t regret splashing out on the trade paperback edition.

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Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum, #18)Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich (mystery)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It used to be I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next Stephanie Plum book. Nowadays, I put in a library request and it sits unread until close to the due date.

I didn’t care for Smokin’ Seventeen but EIGHTEEN surprised me – and in a good way. Alongside the usual zany antics from Lula et al plus the usual Morelli-or-Ranger dilemma, there was actually a plot that made sense. Yes, the usual suspects turn up, but Stephanie has actually developed some skills – both in bounty-hunting and self-defense AND she may – just may – be taking responsibility for her own actions.

I’m cautiously optimistic about the next book (but I’m still getting it from the library).

Ha.  I have just put in my library reservation for NOTORIOUS NINETEEN, as it happens.  I will keep you posted on whether the slight upwards trend continues (probably in a year’s time at the rate I’m going).

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Shadow Kin (The Half-Light City, #1)Shadow Kin by M.J. Scott (fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wasn’t quite sure if this was urban fantasy or not when I picked it up – answer: it’s not, despite the very UF-like cover. Which was a bonus, because I was in the mood for something different.

And this was different – to an extent. I liked the magic system, especially sunmages, but struggled with the incorporation of vampires and beastkin (i.e. shapeshifters/werewolves). I think the world-building suffered somewhat from the too-many-paranormal-creatures syndrome. The story is told in alternating POVs, which was slightly confusing as I really couldn’t tell the difference between the voices. I finally figured out that the symbols at the start of each section indicated the narrator, which helped – but I shouldn’t really need visual cues to tell POV.

However, good ending and I ended up liking this story well enough. I would probably get the next book to see how the writing and story develops.

I’ve not picked up the sequel actually.  I saw BLOOD KIN in the bookstore and was considering it, then I remembered the lack of distinct voices in the POV shifts in this book, and decided I didn’t really need to know what happens next.  Unless of course, one of you has read it and think it’s worth picking up?  

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Canyons of Night (The Arcane Society,#12, Looking Glass Trilogy,#3,  Harmony, #8)Canyons of Night by Jayne Castle (paranormal romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Jayne Ann Krentz (and her various pseudonyms) used to be an autobuy for me – however, the only books of hers I regularly read nowadays are the Jayne Castle ones. I suspect it’s because the paranormal aspects that so annoy me when they appear in her historicals and contemporaries fit in nicely with her futuristic romances.

If you’ve read other Harmony books, you know exactly what to expect from CANYONS OF NIGHT. Hero meets heroine, they argue, then realise their talents dovetail perfectly together, and have a HEA (after getting rid of the bad guys). Having said that, I liked how Slade and Charlotte had a bit of a history, the chemistry between the two, and the small-town atmosphere. The suspense angle? Didn’t work for me.

And Rex the dust-bunny (for a change, belonging to the hero, not the heroine) and his fondness for sparkly objects? Love. Yep, I may be just reading this series for the dust-bunnies.

I know, I know.  This is futuristic romance-LITE, but I can’t help myself.  

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What Happened To GoodbyeWhat Happened To Goodbye by Sarah Dessen (YA romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was engrossed in this book from start to finish. Sarah Dessen can be a bit hit-or-miss for me, and if you read too many in one go, her plots can start to feel slightly recycled. But WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE was complicated in the way the best YAs are. The beginning chapters hinted at hidden mysteries in Mclean’s life – the different names, the must-orders from the restaurant’s menu… they all promised a good story and I wasn’t disappointed. Mclean’s relationship with her parents came across as realistic – love mixed in with resentment and confusion – and at the end, I admit to a few sniffles. This book left me with warm fuzzy feelings.

I slightly overdosed on Sarah Dessen when I first stumbled over her books and did a Dessen glom, but this reminded me of how good her books can be.

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Mastiff (Beka Cooper, #3)Mastiff by Tamora Pierce (YA fantasy)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A really long book that could have possibly done with some additional editing as it dragged in places. I’m glad to have Beka’s story completed (and the linkage between her family and Alanna’s explained!), though I would have liked to have spent more time with Beka’s friends and family who we met in the first book. [Slight spoiler - highlight to read: The twist at the end left me slightly bemused and sad - I suppose it was part of Beka's growing up but, well.] All in all, I’ve liked this glimpse into Tortall’s history, but I’ll probably wouldn’t re-read the trilogy.

I tend to be a diehard Tortall fangirl, but this was not my favourite of the books, unfortunately.  On the other hand, the Mark Reads chapter-by-chapter reviews for her Alanna books are reminding me what a fantastic series that was.

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Quarter Share (Golden Age of the Solar Clipper, #1)Quarter Share by Nathan Lowell (SF)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this following a suggestion when I asked for space opera recs, with the caveat this wasn’t exactly space opera with big battles etc, but focusing on the trading side of things.

And it’s a easy read – a coming-of-age academy-type story, but this time, the academy being a merchant spaceship. Interesting world, and I can see myself getting the next to follow Ishmael on his adventures.

I did buy the next book, but have stalled a couple of chapters in.

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Slow Ride (Fast Track, #5)Slow Ride by Erin McCarthy (contemporary romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I liked SLOW RIDE more than the previous book The Chase, which perhaps isn’t saying too much.

What I liked about this one? Tuesday and Kendall’s interactions – having female friendships amidst the testosterone-fueled atmosphere is always a nice contrast. And you felt that they were real friends. I also liked how Tuesday’s journalistic background was incorporated through the articles and gossip columns inserts – they were fun. And (not that I’m saying I have first-hand experience or anything – ahem), the drunken scenes came across as being spot on… [Slight spoiler - highlight to read: Although was alcoholism an actual problem for Tuesday? I'm not quite sure - and while I did think that Erin McCarthy was trying to tackle a serious issue, I'm not quite sure if it worked. Which probably means it didn't.]

What I didn’t really care for: I did wonder why Kendall and Elec’s storyline had pivotal scenes in this book – this isn’t their story and really, it should have been wrapped up in the previous book. And while this series has a reputation for having some really steamy sex scenes (and I have loved the first few books), I felt this book had too many sex scenes scattered throughout that didn’t really advance the plot. However, it was interesting to see (very light) BDSM in a mainstream contemporary romance – a sign of the times?

Tuesday came across as a bit of a caricature at times, and too much on the laddish side – does anyone really ever describe themselves as “looking like ass”? Eh. And finally, the final argument was a bit OTT and I admit I lost respect for Tuesday at that point – drunk or not, she should have known better. I think it just came off as Diesel/Daniel being too nice for her.

So the jury’s still out on this series – I’ll still be reading the next, but not rushing out to buy.

I bought the next book FAST TRACK, but again stalled in the first couple of chapters – the hero came across as being incredibly condescending and the heroine had zero self-esteem.  Though I have seen relatively good reviews around, so I may return to the book at some point… 

10 Comments

Filed under Reviews

10 responses to “A Bit of Everything

  1. The Quarter Share series have caused my most sarcastic reviews on Goodreads so far. I bought the first four at the Ilona Andrews rec of the first one – you’ll notice she didn’t review or rec the rest. And I thought it turned into the worst Gary Stu I have read so far.

    • I remember seeing your reviews! Your review of the second book is exactly why I had trouble continuing with it… I’ve just looked at the average ratings of the whole series on GR, and they are amazingly high across the board, which is interesting.

  2. Totally agree about Angels of Darkness. I really enjoyed that anthology and it was worth the money. Andrews’ Alpha world was the most exciting story for me out of the four, but all of them were good. :D

    • The Alpha world was really different, wasn’t it? A lot edgier than their current UF books. I hope they decide to continue with it one day, but I’m not entirely sure there’s a strong market for it.

  3. bookharbinger

    Looks like I need to get ANGELS for the Shinn and Andrews stories alone. Thanks for the review.

  4. Wow LOL, Li! They say I’m a tough grader, but I think you are too! :)

    I’m glad you enjoyed the anthology. I have to say, I did not like the Ilona Andrews at all ^_^; I still believe that her world building in first books isn’t great. As for the Nalini Singh entry, I liked it, but please, stop the overly-tortured hero!!

    So is Stephanie Plum choosing Morelli or Ranger any time soon? I stopped at 9 and I have to admit, I’m not missing the series ^_^; So I guess it was a good decision.

    That’s too bad about Shadow Kin. It was on the radar and it felt a bit more like fantasy than UF… I think authors really have to understand that readers don’t like to be bombarded with too many creatures in their books! I think that Jim Butcher is a great example of how to do it… Introduce them in increments… Ah well, guess I’m not going to be picking this one up.

    What Happens to Goodbye is still sitting on my night table. I think I’m waiting to be closer to her next release before picking it up… but I’m glad to know you enjoyed it!

    I looked at Slow Ride and for a minute, I wondered if I’ve read it or not… and yes, I did. Sigh. I loved Diesel in that one and Tuesday just didn’t deserve him in my opinion.

    • Ha – I just do the GR rating thing. It wasn’t a great month for books obviously…

      Re ANGELS – that’s why I’m not sure how commercial Alphas will be. Reactions were all over the spectrum, IIRC.

      Stephanie is still doing the Morelli/Ranger thing and a decision looks nowhere in sight – I’ll report back when I’ve a chance to read NINETEEN, but I would be really surprised if there was any movement. I think NINE (maybe TEN) was when it started going downhill pretty fast.

      I took ages to get around to the Dessen book, so know what you mean. I enjoyed it obviously, but I didn’t feel the urge to read it *right now* when it came out.

      I think the Erin McCarthy series has come to an end now, which is good as I don’t have to debate whether to buy the next anymore! Shame as I really liked the first two/three books in this series.

  5. I’m with Holly–clearly I need that Angels anthology! I’ll have to check and see if my library has a copy since (like you) I’m reticent to buy anthologies when I’m not going to read the whole thing. I actually just got An Apple for Creature at the library today, fully knowing I’m only going to read the 30 pages of Ilona Andrews.

    • I borrowed that one from my library too – the Ilona Andrews story was good, but I’m glad I didn’t shell out for the whole book.

      The ANGELS anthology just made me happy – I love all four authors, so it was a no-brainer for me to get it.

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