Read when about sixty pages into The Moor, as my memory of the story was too sketchy to appreciate what Laurie R. King was doing. Oh, Doyle. Never chaRead when about sixty pages into The Moor, as my memory of the story was too sketchy to appreciate what Laurie R. King was doing. Oh, Doyle. Never change. ...more
Three quality, four enjoyment. Picked up because of how much I like M.K. Hobson's stuff with the Escape Pod family of podcasts. I think someone calledThree quality, four enjoyment. Picked up because of how much I like M.K. Hobson's stuff with the Escape Pod family of podcasts. I think someone called this witchpunk? Like steampunk, but with fantasy elements and bonus Ye Olde Weste setting. A thoroughly delightful genre mashup - you got your steampunk in my fantasy! you got your western in my Regency romance! and then there was a flying machine! - with characters that are going to be awesome about three books into this (presumed) series.
Okay, honesty time? I think my enjoyment of this story was slightly diminished by the heroine's name. I have a certain...idea in my head of how characters named Emily should behave, should be, and this Emily let me down a bit. Oh, nothing atrocious, nothing that would be unforgiveable in an Abigail or a Mary or a Samantha, but the first chunk of stuff was sort of facepalmingly deliberately ignorant and foolish. It edged uncomfortably close to the "I am a spunky heroine! I am independent and strong! ...I will run straight into the worst possible situation and be prettily vexed when things go inevitably, horribly wrong and I have to be saved!" It was hard for me to accept! Emilys don't do that! Or shouldn't! Something. Once I let go of that, it was much smoother sailing.
Plus, one of the extra lovely bits about this book is the actual consequences for many of the irritating things. Heroine runs off and does something stupid because she is "fierce" and "independent"? Bad things actually happen, and she gets smarter! Dodgy love spell is cast? Dodgy things happen, and Our Heroine gets smarter! I never got the feeling that the author didn't know when her heroine was being mighty wearisome. ...more
Would have been four stars if I'd ever warmed up to the heroine. There was something empty about her, very hard to latch onto. Which is a shame, becauWould have been four stars if I'd ever warmed up to the heroine. There was something empty about her, very hard to latch onto. Which is a shame, because I enjoyed pretty much all the supporting characters, especially the scenery-chewy Southern Gothicky ones, as well as the mythology itself. I'm not sure if it was the fault of the first-person narration, but the main character felt like a vehicle for all the interesting stuff, rather than being interesting herself.
Good Southern Gothic horror, and I will likely pick up the next one eventually.
Extra super bonus points for setting it in Chattanooga, with an extra megatroid bonus for Signal Mountain. My childhood! Right there! With creepy stuff happening! Yay!...more
Free from amazon. Better than many of the free erotica samples/shorts from amazon, with an actual frisson of tension between Our Heroes and a wee littFree from amazon. Better than many of the free erotica samples/shorts from amazon, with an actual frisson of tension between Our Heroes and a wee little mystery to boot, but a) it felt like the last third of a story, not in media res and 2) the unbelievably dodgy legal system stuff made my brain leak out my ears. I'm sorry; I cannot enjoy your sexy bits when you are honestly trying to suggest that a district court judge in his early thirties is a viable candidate for the USSC, gay or not. ...more
Free from amazon. Almost three stars, almost enough to make me want to seek out the novel to which this is a prequel, but not quite on either account.Free from amazon. Almost three stars, almost enough to make me want to seek out the novel to which this is a prequel, but not quite on either account. Nice set dressing, but Our Hero's dialogue is hokey enough to keep it in the two star realm. ...more
Free from amazon. Competent if slightly dull. The fantasy island is mostly set dressing and not really explored. Plus, I don't know; I'm just not shocFree from amazon. Competent if slightly dull. The fantasy island is mostly set dressing and not really explored. Plus, I don't know; I'm just not shocked when the boys in the threesome story want to kiss each other, too, not just the pretty lady. ...more
Free from amazon. Can you deduct stars for "your kink is not my kink"? Points on for actual interesting interpersonal conflict and a character of coloFree from amazon. Can you deduct stars for "your kink is not my kink"? Points on for actual interesting interpersonal conflict and a character of color; points off for dodgy exoticism, broad-brushing all of the women in a fictional Middle Eastern country, and not doing enough with the interpersonal conflict. Twangs just the right strings for the longing/pining/separated!by!cruel!fate plot bits, but the weird race stuff left me with a bad taste in my mouth. ...more
Free from Amazon. Competent, but it's entirely nonsensical/irrelevant if you haven't read any of the other books in the series, which I haven't. LikelFree from Amazon. Competent, but it's entirely nonsensical/irrelevant if you haven't read any of the other books in the series, which I haven't. Likely not enough to make me pick up the others. ...more
Ahahaha. Let me be clear. I have read a *lot* of gay romance/erotica (romancerotica?) this year, and this definitely falls in the better half. Solid cAhahaha. Let me be clear. I have read a *lot* of gay romance/erotica (romancerotica?) this year, and this definitely falls in the better half. Solid character voices, even if the characters themselves (especially the villain) are a wee bit flimsy. Thoroughly respectable Ye Olde Weste indulgent idfic, even if the pun in the title was almost enough to keep me from starting it in the first place. ...more
Now, see, this is what a gay Ye Olde Englande (you know, Regencyish, but not actually set during the Regency) romance novel should be. So, so much betNow, see, this is what a gay Ye Olde Englande (you know, Regencyish, but not actually set during the Regency) romance novel should be. So, so much better than many others in this microscopic genre....more
...yeah, I was gonna write more, but that pretty much sums it up. Either you are in the market for a storPostapocalyptic vampire novel of! mah! heart!
...yeah, I was gonna write more, but that pretty much sums it up. Either you are in the market for a story about the onset of the apocalypse and a scrappy band of survivors with bonus psychic vampires who are actually creepy thrown in for good measure, or you're not. I so, so am. ...more
This book made me simultaneously feel like I was twelve again - absolutely convinced that my destiny was to go to space, boldly or otherwise - and feeThis book made me simultaneously feel like I was twelve again - absolutely convinced that my destiny was to go to space, boldly or otherwise - and feel like I am deeply, profoundly glad my life has taken other turnings.
Still, it makes me dream of the possibility of space tourism in the next fifty years or so. I want to be the wacky retiree with bedazzled sunglasses in zero g.
**spoiler alert** (Includes possibly triggery discussion of sexual abuse, as well as minor spoilers for the first few pages of the sequel, but nothing**spoiler alert** (Includes possibly triggery discussion of sexual abuse, as well as minor spoilers for the first few pages of the sequel, but nothing that wasn't deeply implied by the last few pages of this book.)
In short: I enjoyed the first half of the book and the initial world-building, was immensely put off by some of the character development mid-range, and the WTFery at the end was so immense as to almost bump this up a star for sheer ballsiness.
Before I get to the bits I did like (or at least boggle at), let's get one thing immensely clear that I'm not sure the author does: kinky sex does not equal rape. Messing about with power dynamics in the bedroom does not equal rape. A woman taking an active role in sex does not equal rape. Rape equals rape. Rape equals someone saying no. Rape equals two people saying no. Mind-wiping the participants does not make it not rape. And I think this book was trying very hard to convince me that the heroine, when under the influence of magic, was into kinky, power-dynamic-exchanging, woman-in-control sex. No. The magic does not make the heroine into a top.
Instead, the heroine, when under the influence of magic, browbeats a male lover into sex with very dubious consent, then goes home, repeatedly rapes a chamber maid, leaves her tied up overnight while she is weeping and saying no, then uses her mind mojo to make her male lover rape the chamber made and convince both the guy and the maid that they liked it, then wipes their memory. And then continues to use her mind mojo to violate people both mentally and physically for the rest of the book.
If the heroine is supposed to be edgy and ambiguous but you still want me to root for her? This is not the way to do it. I was hoping that the end would make the author's stance on the heroine's actions more clear - some sign that the author acknowledges that her actions are genuinely reprehensible, no matter how horrible the heroine's upbringing and training were, and that the reprehensibility of her actions have some sort of consequence to her character. But nope. Not really. Instead we got SPACE DRAGONS.
It's not the extensive, explicit sex. I actually quite liked it, as up until Little Miss Rapey McRaperson started hog-tying chamber maids and mind-controlling anyone she could get her hands on, the sex fit quite naturally in the story. It's one of the few books I've read about spies and fantasy-world political intrigue that has exactly as much sex as it should. There's dubious consent left and right, everyone seems to be led around by their pants, and it's all laid out in really effective detail.
The problem is not the sex. The problem is not even really the dubious consent (because how much consent did Belinda really have when sleeping with Gregori and Viktor?). The problem is the outright denial of consent and Belinda/Beatrice/whoever's application of brute physical and mental force to override that lack of consent. The problem is that it is not clear to me, from this book, that the author recognizes that difference.
All that (and that is a lot) aside, there were bits that I genuinely enjoyed about this book. I'm a sucker for an alternate history/universe, and I'm totally a sucker for Elizabethan European history (alternate or otherwise). Throw in a little spy action, a little magic, a little exploration of the role of women in power, a bisexual heroine, and I'm pretty much sold. It was a ripping good read with a heroine of ambiguous morality, with a slew of characters who weren't exactly nice but who were interesting to read about.
(The problem, of course, being when she trips over from ambiguous to reprehensible. What bothers me is that I don't see any particular difference in the way the author portrays the for-god-and-country! ambiguous actions and the I'm-drunk-on-magic-and-enjoy-the-sounds-of-her-begging-me-to-stop actions.)
So, yeah. Enjoyed it, enjoyed it, what-is-happening-does-the-author-know-what's-going-on-OMG, hasty resolution of a million plot threads and then bam! SPACE DRAGONS. For serious. Our heroine's father, not!Francis Drake, is actually an alien being that looks remarkably like a dragon, and the magic may in fact be special alien powers. Sci fi, fantasy, alternate history? You decide!
I enjoy a good twist, but I enjoy the twist even more when it's actually relevant to the rest of the novel. I feel like Murphy had a perfectly good (if rapey) alternate history fantasy novel going, and unless the sequel convinces me otherwise, there is absolutely no reason to suddenly make the politics and intrigue of not!Europe all about the millenias-long survival quest of SPACE DRAGONS.
Seriously. Draaaaaaaaagons iiiiiiiiiin spaaaaaaaaaaace (and in Elizabethan ruffs). I don't even know what to do with that.
(Oh, and the author also gets a point for the Les Miserables (the musical) shout-out. A character named Marius walks into a bar where all his friends are hanging out, and one of the buddies actually says 'Is Marius in love at last?' I will fully admit to snortgiggling at that.)...more
Okay, okay. Maybe I'm not so much 'over' romance novels as I am far more solidified in authors-I-like and authors-I-don't. Sherry Thomas, she of the uOkay, okay. Maybe I'm not so much 'over' romance novels as I am far more solidified in authors-I-like and authors-I-don't. Sherry Thomas, she of the utterly delightful-to-me Delicious, is an author-I-like. Not perfect, but a whipcracking fun read. Frothy house parties! Spies and intrigue! That glorious fictional moment of escaping wretchedness into a clean, well-fed, elegantly decorated wonderland, complete with gardens! Microscopically more gritty than your average historical romance, which gives the shiny romance-novel-setting a soupcon of reality in a way that I thoroughly enjoy!
I also very much enjoyed the heroine's ruthless practicality when it came to the contemplation of marriage. I like the contrast between what marriage likely meant in the context of the time place and the frothy romance. I like it when the practical, loveless contemplation of the contract of marriage is not portrayed as a bad thing (caused by grasping, greedy womenfolk!), but an unfortunate necessity. I like that contrasted against the happily ever after our hero and heroine manage to scrape out.
What keeps this book from the sheer delight of Delicious, though, is the double-standard and boneheadedness of the hero. He wants an anonymous, perfect lady! Real ladies are confusing and icky, because they have external motivations! He can be a devious manipulator, but heaven forbid a woman do the same! ::facepalm::
I did love the bits where they were both cranking up the obliviousness to eleven and enjoying each other's competence without saying a word.
Thought the secondary romance was sweet but almost entirely unconnected with the main storyline. ...more
**spoiler alert** My review of this novel is inevitably tainted by how much I have ADORED the sequels. Because I did. Do. Whatever. I want to sneak ou**spoiler alert** My review of this novel is inevitably tainted by how much I have ADORED the sequels. Because I did. Do. Whatever. I want to sneak out of my office to sit in my car and start the fourth right now, even though my car is all black and it's 7892387905 degrees out. THAT much adoration.
This is a delightful little book, and its strengths and its weaknesses both spring from the fact that it is the introductory book to a character and a world. This is not the primary narrative line of this series - that totally lives in books two and three - but I enjoy how Turner has taken what could have been an off-hand reference to backstory and given it a little more meat to stand on its own. That way, when you get to the big, arching, games-of-kings epic story, you already have some of the basic groundwork laid. You already have the world built in your head. You already have emotional attachment. (By which I mean - oh, Gen.)
To that extent, I think the way Turner plays with POV among the various books is interesting. What better way to insert your reader into an epic than through a single, small, seemingly unimportant character? And while you know that all is not as it seems with your narrator, I feel like Turner does a lovely job doling out bits and pieces so that the reveal is an, "aaaah, of course," rather than an epic shock or "well, it took them long enough to figure it out" moment. A nice balance. It's a nice, non-clumsy handling of first person POV whereby avoiding the self-expositing ("as I already know, Gen thought to himself...") also allows Turner to be coy with the reader.
Plus I love love love the sharing of myths and legends - in an in-story-appropriate manner! - between the magus and Gen. Not just worldbuilding but characterbuilding, too!
Oooh, oooh, I've got it. This is as if Star Wars were told from Luke Skywalker's POV of that first trip to Alderaan, starting with the droid purchase. You have no idea the full scope of what's going on with this Empire and Rebel business, but you can identify with the kid who lost his only family and is now running around the galaxy with a crazy old guy and some really shifty characters. (If, you know, Vader ran into Luke after killing Obi-Wan, shook his head, and muttered, "Son, what have you gotten up to now?" Okay, so the metaphor falls apart...) ...more
Am finding I'm kind of over romance novels for the moment - or at least their very narrow definition of a happy ending (marriage! babies! for everyoneAm finding I'm kind of over romance novels for the moment - or at least their very narrow definition of a happy ending (marriage! babies! for everyone!) - but I'm finishing out this quartet because I really, really enjoy the friendship between the four women. Not really invested in the romances themselves, but I care about how Roberts has written these women creating their own family.
It's kind of like, oh crap, that one movie about the four friends in childhood and in adulthood, with Thora Birch and Christina Ricci and Gabby Hoffman, where all four are good friends but there are sets of two that are closer - Now and Then! It's like Now and Then in the grouping of the friends, and I find that I'm more interested in this latter group of two, Laurel and Parker, than I was in the first group. So, yeah, I'm totally sticking around for book four, but I feel like the books are reading like Roberts herself is more interested in writing the friendships than the romance, and I totally agree. ...more