Last year I finished MIDNIGHT CROSSROAD feeling like I was just getting to know the inhabitants of Midnight, TX, andReviewed by: Rabid Reads
Last year I finished MIDNIGHT CROSSROAD feeling like I was just getting to know the inhabitants of Midnight, TX, and I couldn't wait to learn more about them. It took awhile to get there, but by the end I was ready for more of these mysterious small town residents.
In particular, I wanted to know more about Olivia.
I got my wish.
And I'm reminded of the old adage: be careful what you wish for . . .
SO. DAY SHIFT is a little bit different than its predecessor. Manfred is still one of the main POVs, and we also hear a lot from Fiji and to a lesser degree Bobo, but Olivia joins Manfred in the spotlight, with Chuy and Joe holding their own as well.
And lemme tell you . . . it is interesting.
There are also several cast members from previous adventures with good, ol' Sookie, so that was fun too. In case you really want to know: (view spoiler)[QUINN and Barry the Bellboy. And did I mention QUINN? B/c QUINN is there. FYI. (hide spoiler)]
Plot-wise, we hit the ground running. As per usual with Harris this is a mystery, and the thing we're supposed to be figuring out happens almost immediately. The way it happens puts Manfred in a decidedly different type of spotlight than he is accustomed to: a murder suspect.
When his infamy brings journalists and camera crews to Midnight, Rev calls a meeting of the pertinent townsfolk and enlists the help of Olivia to find to real culprit so the outsiders will LEAVE.
Rev has much more authority over the residents than I previously realized . . .
Anyway, that's what's happening with the main story.
The problem . . . is that the main story pales in comparison to the secondary storylines:
1. Lemuel is mostly absent, and--to our knowledge--no progress is made concerning the books he got from Bobo at the end of book 1. 2. We get insight into Olivia's life, but not nearly enough. (view spoiler)[I get that she's crazy, but I want to know WHY she's crazy. (hide spoiler)] 3. Chuy and Joe, b/c WHOA, did not see that coming. But still need more information. 4. We have no idea why XXXXX is on the run from the Dallas vampires. 5. All the mystery surrounding the re-opening of the Hotel? Yeah, nothing there either.
So as entertaining as Manfred's Murder Mystery may have been, it was overshadowed by ALL THE THINGS in the background.
Another issue I had was that I didn't see a whole lot of difference between Olivia and (view spoiler)[Conner (hide spoiler)] from MIDNIGHT CROSSROAD. That was a problem for me, b/c while I understood why the residents did what they did, it was still . . . difficult to swallow. (view spoiler)[Conner was just a kid. But, yes, he was clearly a sociopath, so I willfully suspended disbelief and conceded that they handled it the only way they could.
So to watch Olivia behave in a similar manner . . . an adult . . . the girlfriend of the guy who snapped a teenager's neck . . . made it harder to accept what had happened to Conner. B/c Olivia is CRAZY. CRAY-ZIE. She's too temperamental to be classified as a sociopath like Conner, but a violent, murdering, narcissist?
So why does she get a pass when a 14-year-old kid gets dead? (hide spoiler)]
But despite these issues, I still enjoyed this second installment. In fact, the former of the two problems is just about the best flaw a book can have, b/c it leaves you chomping at the bit to see what happens next. Well played, Ms. Harris . . . well played. Overall, DAY SHIFT is an intriguing followup to MIDNIGHT CROSSROAD that left me, once again, anxious for the next chapter. Strange things are happening in this strange town and I don't want to miss any of them. I don't think you'll want to either. Recommended.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
There was a massive info dump in the beginning, and in the midst of said dump (and afterwards as well), there were nThis book was straight-up stupid.
There was a massive info dump in the beginning, and in the midst of said dump (and afterwards as well), there were numerous references to the sexy alien men as "hunks" and even "dreamy to the max" on one occasion.
Dreamy . . . to the max . . .
YEP. That happened.
There was also slut shaming, and a cartload of other ridiculousness, and just, NO....more
On the off-chance anyone hasn’t gotten the memo yet: A-L-I-E-N-S<——I love ‘em.
This is partially b/c when my grandmother (who I stayed with instead of going to daycare) wasn’t reading me fairy tales, I was watching PBS specials on the ocean or OUTER SPACE.
Which is why when I was in first grade and got asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, “Astronaut.”
That not panning out didn’t make me bitter . . . It made me friggin’ love A-L-I-E-N-S.
I love good aliens, I love humans triumphing over bad aliens . . . I would totally be one of the idiots holding a sign and screaming for the aliens to beam me up should a spaceship ever appear in our atmosphere.
And one will someday, I can FEEL it.
I think the appeal lies in the infinite possibilities. It’s also what makes Science Fiction so much fun. It’s SCIENCE, so it could totally happen one day, but it’s also FICTION, so it’s free to stretch the bounds of credulity.
Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach embraces both of those ideals beautifully.
Devi Morris is a seriously kick-ass female. Raised in a military society, she wants nothing more than to serve in the most elite company in existence. Trouble is, even though Devi is as hardcore as they come, she doesn’t have the experience. Doesn’t want to wait the standard 10 years to get it either. So she acts on a tip from a friend in the know, and signs on for a year-long stint on a notorious trade vessel.
If Devi survives her contract, she has it on good authority that the "right people" will be impressed.
From the beginning, it’s more than obvious that things on the Glorious Fool aren’t exactly what they seem. It doesn’t make sense that a simple trader would have such a high turnover rate for security officers (“turnover” is a euphemism for DEAD), and some of the crew are clearly keeping secrets . . . But Devi is determined to keep her nose out of not-her-business—there is a giant pit full of inquisitive mercenaries somewhere, and Devi doesn’t want to jeopardize her future.
She does want to kick A-L-I-E-N ass.
And she gets to. Often. Her most frequent target is the pirating, insect (of course) breed of alien. They live in “hive” ships. They’re basically giant, sentient exoskeletons, so killing them is virtually impossible (requires a between-the-eyes shot).
So how do Paradoxians like Devi compensate for being so outclassed?
Really cool armor, that’s how.
Devi used two entire years’ salary to purchase her own (rather than just using whatever her employer hands out) armor. She can put it on in 19 seconds flat. The individual pieces lock together in such a way that there are virtually no vulnerabilities. It makes her stronger, faster, acts on its own to prevent injury if she’s getting slung around. If she somehow does manage to get injured, it takes measures to prevent further injury—seals off wounds, injects with adrenaline, etc. The visor of her helmet constantly scrolls all kinds of information, and can zoom onto targets at just a thought from the wearer.
It’s like wearing an incapable of speech Night Rider car (KITT)<——pret-ty dang cool.
But the most impressive part of this book is it’s consistency.
Devi’s priority is ALWAYS meeting her career goals. She may get distracted momentarily, but she always realizes it quickly, and immediately makes adjustments. My #1 character pet peeve is waffling. LOATHE it. And not only is Devi consistent, ALL of the other characters are too.
The nonstop action is also a major selling point. Something is always happening, and that something is relevant to the overall plotline—none of the action is superfluous; it all serves a purpose.
But what is that purpose?
Well, I have a pretty good idea, but I can’t tell you for certain yet.
Which brings me to the one and only reason that I am glad to be behind the pack in reading this series—CLIFFHANGER ending. But never fear, the series has already concluded with all installments available to you at the click of a button (oh, how I LOVE the electronic age).
So yeah, this book ends in a cliffy, and it is a doozy. There are also unanswered questions, but the kinds of unanswered questions that are typical of a first-in-series, not the type that have you scratching your head, trying to figure out what in the bloody heck is going on. Like I said, I have a good idea about that, I just don’t know to what end yet, but I’m not supposed to, so it’s cool.
Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely. I would recommend it to anyone who loves heroines of the kick-ass persuasion, scifi, A-L-I-E-N-S, and all of that with a nice dash of romance. Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach is an excellent start to what I am convinced is an excellent series....more
I mean, come on . . . royals with superpowers? And a heroine from amongst the downtroddenReviewed by: Rabid Reads
This book didn't start out terribly.
I mean, come on . . . royals with superpowers? And a heroine from amongst the downtrodden servant class? Okay, yes, that does sound kind of familiar, especially considering that said downtrodden heroine is a Red, but beyond that I didn't feel like there were many similarities. And as much as I love Red Rising and Golden Son, I would jump all over it if I thought this book was a copycat.
BUT. Sold as I was (at first), the heavy-handed descriptions and comparisons, piled on top of unnecessary flourishes, piled on top of still more comparisons . . . *sighs*
The only thing that serves to distinguish [Reds], outwardly at least, is that Silvers stand tall. Our backs are bent by work and unanswered hope and the inevitable disappointment with our lot in life.
"Backs bent by work" was sufficient to get the point across. "Unanswered hope" lent poignancy. BUT "the inevitable disappointment" blah, blah, turned a statement that could have been a powerful illustration into OVERKILL.
Was this an isolated incident? *snorts*
Hey, lady! This concept:
It's a good one. Fyi.
And that wasn't the only problem:
1. I hadn't given much thought to why I typically crave bloodthirstiness from my heroines. Previously, when it was an issue, it was in regards to only two types of characters: those who stepped up, and those who didn't.
Turns out there's a third type.
She who makes the hard decision:
"Are you with us, Mare Barrow?" he says, his hand closing over mine. More war, more death, Cal said. But there's a chance he's wrong. There's a chance we change it. My fingers tighten, holding on to Will. I can feel the weight of my action, the importance behind it. "I'm with you." "We will rise," he breathes, in unison with Tristan. I remember the words and speak with them. "Red as the dawn." In the flickering candlelight, our shadows look like monsters on the walls.
Dithers over that decision:
"Children." The words rip out of me. "He's a father."
(Damn right, he is. And a husband, and a son, and a grandson, and maybe an uncle and a nephew too. THEY ALL ARE.)
Then sticks her head in the sand like a fraking ostrich after the decision is carried out:
All together, twelve died last night, but I refuse to learn their names. I can't have them weighing on me . . .
I've said before that if you're going to be an assassin, you need to own it.
I'm adapting that statement: if you're going to kill someone for the "greater good," you need to be decisive about it. And if you're having legitimately conflicted thoughts, then maybe you shouldn't be killing anyone. But regardless, YOU TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS.
You don't go all Scarlett O'Hara and say, "I'll think about that tomorrow." *flutters hands delicately*
You know why? B/c Scarlett O'Hara would make a damn terrible assassin, that's why.
And Mare Barrow makes an equally terrible freedom fighter. She's this BAFFLING combination of ruthlessness, pragmatism, compassion, self-entitlement, and poor self-esteem that causes her to constantly second guess herself.
Beyond that . . . I'm not sure how down I am with the cause.
It's one thing to kill in the heat of battle, or to premeditatedly take out a Bad Guy, but to play God, picking and choosing who will die b/c their death will create more chaos than that-person-over-there . . . ?
*frowns and squints*
The whole scenario sat poorly with me. But my reasons for being uncomfortable were totally different than Mare's, so instead of bonding with her, I wanted to smack her around a bit.
Sometimes MCs make mistakes. They're supposed to learn from those mistakes--that's what humanizes them, that's what spurs character growth--but Mare never takes a hard look at herself. She stays almost completely two-dimensional, and I say "almost" b/c she's too selfish to be truly flat.
2. Then there's (if you haven't started noticing it already) the melodrama:
My hands wipe at my eyes, though my tears are long lost in the rain, leaving behind only an embarrassingly runny nose and some black makeup. Thankfully, my silver powder holds. It's made of stronger stuff than I am.
Crying . . . in the rain. Then comparing herself . . . to MAKEUP . . . and coming up short . . . Really?
But this one's my favorite:
"I wish things were different," he whispers, but I can still hear him. The words take me back to my home and my father when he said the same thing so long ago . . .
So long ago?
. . . To think that Cal and my father, a broken Red man, can share the same thoughts makes me pause.
Hmmm . . . you like tacos too? That's CRAZY. Me, I friggin' love tacos. It is a small world after all.
3. I don't hate all love triangles . . .
When they don't get ridiculous, sometimes I even like the tension they create.
There is something inherently sordid about messing around with brothers. It's tacky. Don't do it. *flares nostrils*
And I'm going to have to stop, b/c I'm nearing my (self-imposed) word limit. But know that as well as being melodramatic and a coward, Mare Barrow is also self-centered, irrational, AND inconsistent. If you really want to hear me rant some more, I'll spoiler tag it in my Goodreads review. Beyond that, the book was 100% predictable, and the methods employed to overthrow the corrupt government were every bit as reprehensible as the government itself. Not recommended.
The biggest gripe the Reds have with the Silvers is that when they turn eighteen, if they don't have a job (and jobs are few and far between) they are conscripted into the army. The Silvers have been at war for over 100 years, and the Reds have always been their cannon fodder.
Fairly early in the book, Mare finds out that her favorite brother (of three) was executed as a deserter of this army.
She is understandably wrecked.
BUT. When the brother of her biggest rival is one of the Silvers marked for assassination, Mare observes the two clearly close siblings, and thinks:
"If all goes to plan, he'll never hug his sister again. Evangeline will have lost a brother, just like me. Even though I know that pain firsthand, I can't bring myself to feel sorry for her. Especially not with the way she holds on the Cal."
But that's nothing compared to when she wakes up in a prison cell with Cal after they've been wrongfully arrested for the murder of the king.
When it all goes to hell (as YA books are wont to do in that last 10-15%):
1. Cal learns that his evil stepmother the queen used her mind control power to make his mother kill herself. 2. His evil stepmother the queen uses her mind power to make Cal unsheathe his father's own sword and use it to behead him. His father. Cal beheads him. Himself. 3. His brother (Maven) stands there and watches.
And Mare's first thought?
Maven has betrayed me. No, he was never on my side at all.
*flares nostrils again*
Now would be a good time to bring up how all that heavy-handedness that drove me nuts also made the book incredibly predictable (b/c DUH, of course Evil Stepmother killed the Queen).
The second Maven showed up to meet the Red Guard along with Mare, I not only doubted his sincerity, but I also predicted that the whole thing had been orchestrated by his mother in a plot to get him on the throne in place of Cal.
The only things I didn't get with pinpoint accuracy were that Shade (Mare's brother) was the lone survivor from the 27 suspicious cremations--I thought all of them were together somewhere, either being experimented on by Silvers, or that they were already with the Red Guard--and I thought Kilorn was also an Extra based on Mare's comments about his super-sneakiness.
Actually, I still think Kilorn's going to be an Extra.
Anyway, it was obvious that Mare wasn't the only Red who had developed abilities, b/c of all the references to her father's "bloodhound"-like sense of smell.
My teeth grind together, chewing on the words before I can spit them out. "Did Cal tell you what happened?" "He did," Julian replies evenly. "And he's right. Don't fault him for it." "I can fault him for whatever I want," I snort, remembering the war books and death guides all over his room. "He's just like all the others."
"What happened" was that Mare lost control of her power when she learned that Shade was dead.
So Mare is losing her shit b/c Cal prudently had her training schedule changed b/c he was concerned she might hurt herself or someone else. Those "war books" and "death guides"? HE'S THE CROWN PRINCE. His country has been at war for 100 YEARS. Of course he studies battles and tactics, you ridiculous harpy.
And when Cal is furious about not being able to fight his own battles:
"I'm a soldier," Cal spits, shrugging away from his brother's touch. "I can't just sit by and let others fight for me. I won't do it." He sounds like a child whining for a toy--he must enjoy killing. It makes me sick. I don't speak, letting the diplomatic Maven talk for me. He always knows what to say.
Do you see why it was so easy to predict the outcome of this little shindig?
"He thinks speeches are a waste of time. Cal likes action, not words." That makes two of us, but I don't want to admit I have anything in common with Maven's older brother. Maybe once I thought so, but not now. Not ever again.
Ummm . . . ? Her entire thought process there is mind-boggling. Then several pages later:
And as much as I hate to admit it, I can't blame Cal for feeling caught between two worlds. After all, so am I.
So I don't think I've read a translated book before. At least not a recently translated book.
I've thought about it. I mean, the book was popular enough in it's native language to get translated into English and re-published, so that speaks highly for it, right? Yeah, definitely . . .
Language is a complex and beautiful thing, and this isn't a real life interaction where only the gist of the information needs to be understood. This is LITERATURE, and there is not one thing that anyone can say to convince me that Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening doesn't lose some essential spark when it's adapted into something not-English. The words are like a dance, expertly choreographed, and that cannot be translated.
So that's why I've kind of avoided this kind of book in the past. And you know what?
I was right.
Chasers of the Wind by Alexey Pehov was a surprisingly good read. It took awhile, but the characters grew on me. This is straight-up fantasy, so there are multiple POVs, but not too many, and the shifting perspectives are mostly focused on pairs.
My favorite pair is Ness and Layen/Gray and Weasel, an assassin husband and wife team (Gray and Weasel are their "working" names). Gray is an expert shot with almost any kind of bow, and Weasel has the Gift (MAGIC), but as far as we know, is completely unaffiliated with the magical hierarchy, the strangeness of this circumstance being communicated in various, but thankfully not obvious, ways.
Second favorite pair is Luk and Ga-Nor. Luk is a rascal and a solider who is overfond of dice, and Ga-Nor is a Northern tracker, and viewed by the majority of society as a savage. Ga-Nor keeps Luk out of trouble, Luk lightens things up for taciturn Ga-Nor, and they just work well together. I like them.
NOT my favorite is Pork, the village idiot, and Tia, or Typhoid, the Overlord, or Damned, depending on who you ask. Pork is the Noah Percy in M. Night Shyamalan's The Village variety of village idiot---NOT the good kind, the creepy and sinister kind. And Tia is a spoiled brat who has probably been a spoiled brat for the entirety of her existence (over 500 years).
So the characters were pretty well-developed and mostly likable, unless the point was not to like them, then you didn't.
The world-building was . . . interesting. The book begins with the fall of the impregnable fortress. The early and very thorough takeover of the impregnable fortress doesn't happen until you've been told SIX times in four pages how awesomely awesome this fortress is, and how it will never, EVER fall.
And that magical hierarchy I spoke of earlier? They're most often referred to as Walkers and Embers. Embers are kind of obvious. Walkers, not so much, but we didn't find out until 77% into the book what they actually were.
Then there's Luk's overuse of his favorite curse, "screw a toad." 33 times. 33 times, he swears, "screw a toad."
And that's a good intro to the language crossover issues.
Using nature inspired names is a fairly common practice. Especially in fantasy where you often find numerous magical and diverse peoples. Elves, Fae, earth magic users, etc. will have names like Rowan Whitethorn of House Somekindoftree. This happens in contemporary novels too. One of my favorite non-magical characters is named Blue Echohawk.
But what about House Strawberry?
Or House Butterfly?
*frowns and squints*
Okay, maybe, if we're talking about cute, little Tinkerbell fairies. Maybe. But take a gander at that book cover. Does that look like the cover of a book with cute, little Tinkerbell fairies?
Houses Strawberry and Butterfly are two of the seven Highborn (Elf) houses, and though we don't actually meet any of them (well, there is one, but he doesn't count), we are lead to believe that they are a rather fierce and warmongering people.
And they'd have to be. Otherwise no one would take them seriously.
So there are the bizarre name issues. And then there are the bizarre dialogue and description issues.
The dialogue issue is most obvious in a conversation between two of the Overlords, Tia and Rovan (<------the Highborn who doesn't count). Rovan is acting completely out of character, and Tia, rather than saying something like, "Who are you, and what have you done with Rovan?" which would make sense to a native English speaker, says, "I don't recognize you."
*frowns and squints AGAIN*
And I'm familiar enough with the Rascal Soldier character to assume that he is more than a joker and a gambler. But that belief was a deliberate decision, b/c there wasn't any evidence to support that claim. At least not until more than halfway through the book when Ness comments that, "Luk, despite his frivolity, is not a man to mess with," and the lack of evidence had been such that that one statement filled me with a sense of vindication.
Overall, Chasers of the Wind by Alexey Pehov was an entertaining enough read that the obvious translation misfires were merely nuisances that I flicked away like a gnat. The alternately interesting and monstrous creatures, as well as the complexities of the magical races drew me in completely. While I'd not yet classify Chasers of the Wind as dark fantasy, there are definitely hints of darker things to come. Necromancers, overtly feared Overlords known to the masses as Leprosy and Consumption who wield great and terrible power, and wizards whose primary function is controlling demons we've yet to encounter, all promise more exciting chapters from this world. I'll definitely read the next book, and I'd recommend this to readers who like a bit of nefarious in their fantasy....more
Dracula Night basically encapsulates everything that we all love about Eric--his boyishness, mischievousness, humor, and authoritativeness--Sookie 4.3
Dracula Night basically encapsulates everything that we all love about Eric--his boyishness, mischievousness, humor, and authoritativeness--all in one short story. It's a bit far-fetched that the Eric we know and love could allow himself to be even momentarily hoodwinked in such a manner, but overall, it's just adorable. ...more
Tamsyn and Nate short. I liked it but it was painful. Painful in that it-will-all-work-out-in-the-enThe Beat of Temptation, Psy-Changeling 0.5
Tamsyn and Nate short. I liked it but it was painful. Painful in that it-will-all-work-out-in-the-end-but-the-journey's-a-bitch kind of way. There was a side-plot that felt like it was being set up as a snatch and rescue, but turned out to be just an illustration of Psy hubris. So that was anti-climactic. Overall it felt like a not very subtle set-up (insight) for future books masquerading as a mini para-romance.
Stroke of Enticement, Psy-Changeling 3.5
This novella introduces two new characters, Annie, an elementary school teacher, and Zach, a soldier of Lucas's pack and park ranger extraordinaire. It was a cute story, but the ending felt rushed--it's understandable when a character has life-long intimacy/commitment, etc. issues interfering with a relationship and BOOM they have an epiphany moment and live happily ever after. In a book it's understandable. You've had lots of time for things to accumulate (for both you and the character) so that it's not such a leap. In a novella . . . not so much. And that's what happened. "I'll never ever ever get married, it's not worth the risk, just kidding, I love you, let's get married."
But like I said, it was cute.
Declaration of Courtship, Psy-Changeling 9.5
So this was the inside story to the Cooper (wolf lieutenant) and his mating dance with Grace that was referenced in Play of Passion. Cooper is super dominant. Grace is super submissive. Havoc ensues. I liked it :)...more
It's been a little over a year since I read this the first time. I wasn't really impressed, but I just finished the Guild Hunter series (LOVED it), soIt's been a little over a year since I read this the first time. I wasn't really impressed, but I just finished the Guild Hunter series (LOVED it), so I decided to give Singh's other series another shot.
I'm glad I did.
I might have been in a reading slump the last time I read Slave to Sensation, or maybe I just couldn't get past the cheesy (and let's be real--it is cheesy) title and book cover. Whatever it was, second time was the (a?) charm.
Sascha is a Psy. That means she's been trained to be a Vulcan. But Psys, unlike Vulcans who as a race eventually "evolved" past emotional reactions, are born with emotions and are brainwashed out of feeling them. Or at least they're supposed to be. If a Psy is resistant to the brainwashing, they are rehabilitated. And by "rehabilitated" I mean lobotomized.
Lucas is a Hunter and the Alpha of the leopard pack in California. He is Changling. Changlings and Psys do not play well together. They have nothing in common. Psys are cold, emotionless robots while Changlings are vibrant and passionate and alive. Even the smell of a Psy stinks to a Changling nose.
Until Lucas meets Sascha. He immediately senses she is more than the average Psy.
But he can't think about that too much b/c he's using their business arrangement to gather information about the Psy race in order to catch a Psy serial killer.
Romance and havoc ensue before the token para-romance happy ending.
That's what I love about para-romance. No delayed gratification. A happy ending is coming and soon....more