Although this was a quick read, it wasn't really all that engaging. It is about a diplomat team that is sent into an emergency situation mostly becaus...moreAlthough this was a quick read, it wasn't really all that engaging. It is about a diplomat team that is sent into an emergency situation mostly because they are convenient, and they proved that they weren't quite such a B team after all.
Although it has only been a few weeks since I read this, I am having trouble remembering the names of the characters, which is a bad sign. John Perry from Old Man's War was a wonderful character, who I count among my favorite characters ever. These guys ... well, they all sound alike, and they all act alike. At one point, I had to go back to the beginning of a conversation because I lost track of who was talking. Because they all sounded alike.
One part that made me impatient was this series of scenes where a big deal was made about finding a "black box" in space, which was so hard because ... it was painted black. I almost threw my Kindle across the room. (Good thing they are durable.) The visible spectrum of light is just one of seven. If there is a place in the universe where color hardly matters at all, it is in space. Unless light is shining upon it, it will be black. No light, no color. However, in the infrared spectrum, it might show up quite brightly.
Fortunately, the author did come around to this but only after I lost patience and set it aside for a while.
I finished the book in short order and I did enjoy it, but I'm not sure how compelled I am to pick up the next installment. I probably will in a few weeks, but I am not feeling rushed.(less)
Wow, I’ve been waiting for years to read this book. When I saw that Ms. Estep was re-releasing her other Bigtime books, I wondered if she would releas...moreWow, I’ve been waiting for years to read this book. When I saw that Ms. Estep was re-releasing her other Bigtime books, I wondered if she would release Nightingale, which had been planned but never released.
Sure enough, here it is!
Nightingale was a fun return to the land of Bigtime, New York. Bigtime is Estep’s version of New York City with a large cast of superheroes, ubervillians, and regular folk.
Abby Appleby is an event planner in Bigtime. Her events are the biggest, the best and the most lavish. She can meet any insane deadline, and can make real the most outlandish concept.
Except when ubervillians crash her parties. Which seemed to happen a lot in previous books.
By the time this book comes around, Abby has a bit of a complex, striving for the perfect event each time. After just pulling off an event that simultaneously announced an engagement and launched a new line of cosmetics, Abby is on the way home when she stumbles on a superhero battle that amazingly seemed to miss her event this time. She quickly discerns that the lone superhero is Talon, a gadget master who is fending off the Bandit and his band of thugs.
Bandit shoots Talon and sprays him with his blinding gas. Abby, a bit of a gadget master herself, whips out her cellphone and scares the bad guys off by playing her police siren ringtone. After they leave, Talon remains conscious long enough to refuse to be hospitalized, and then he passes out. Abby heaves the superhero home via an improvised sled made of a plastic bag and gumption, and nurses him back to health.
It’s the perfect scenario to fall in love.
The complications in this romance are mostly internal. Abby, determined to be as anonymous as Talon (he has a helm that shocks whoever tries to take it off), calls herself Wren, which reflects her own internal image of herself. He turns that around by calling her Nightingale, because of her beautiful singing voice and his own internal image of her that he has built up in his mind. Since she knows she is no beauty, this sobriquet does not entirely please her.
As they each try to get over their hang-ups, they naturally have to contend with the villains behind the Bandit attack. Which makes a perfect circle to the original makup-launch event from the start of the book. This time, Estep has improved her story by making her villains more difficult to guess. Everyone has alliterative names now, which means anyone can be a superhero or an ubervillain. I even suspected poor Piper Perez for a while, a beleaguered secretary who I think could be the subject of an upcoming book. But in the end, the ubervillain made perfect sense, which is just as it should be.
If you enjoyed the previous books in this series, Nightingale should be a great return to the world of Bigtime. If you have not read Karma Girl, Hot Mama or Jynx, it is not necessary to read them before reading this one, but you may want to read them afterward just for the sheer fun of it.(less)
Heart of the Dragon’s Realm is a poignant tale of a young woman named Kimri who is traded into marriage by her brother, the king of their land. When s...moreHeart of the Dragon’s Realm is a poignant tale of a young woman named Kimri who is traded into marriage by her brother, the king of their land. When she thinks to never forgive him, yet looks back to wave one last time, I knew I would like this character.
On the way to the land of her husband-to-be, her party is attacked by soldiers from an enemy kingdom. However, Kimri manages to take their leader hostage, and he turns out to be Prince Herrol, the younger and disposable son of the enemy king.
You might think this develops into a love triangle, but once you meet the king of the Dragon Realm, King Tathan, you know Herrol is no threat to him. Tathan tells Kimri that he will court her for a year, and if she does not want to marry him at the end of that time, she is free to return to her kingdom with no penalty to her brother.
This is a long novella/short novel. It has a lot of twists, and characters do a lot of things you don’t expect, and they will probably do some things you won’t approve of, but never in an amoral way (except one villain). The writing is just beautiful, and the romance between Kimri and Tathan slow and mostly sweet. Tathan’s kingdom is idyllic and almost crime free–and you find out why in the end. It is a standalone story, and I enjoyed it very much.(less)
This episodic novella is the start of a new series from Heather Long. I enjoyed it but whew! I was not prepared by the cover or blurb for how very haw...moreThis episodic novella is the start of a new series from Heather Long. I enjoyed it but whew! I was not prepared by the cover or blurb for how very hawt it is. I should have been: when they say passionate, they mean it.
Michael is the leader of a super team sent back in time to stop an event that makes the world the nightmare it has turned into. Rory is a super-something who specializes in calculating probabilities–sounds lame but she can manipulate those probabilities as well, resulting in super fighting abilities. The chemistry between Michael and Rory is so intense that his team suspects emotional manipulation–except Rory is affected as well.
This is a time travel story that has fun with the usual time travel paradoxes. I enjoyed it and will buy the next book in the series to see what the author is going to do with it. The move toward episodic stories intrigues me, so I’ll stay with this one for another book or two.
Recommended if you enjoy science fiction romance or fantasy romance.(less)
It starts with a bang as Sara is prepared to assassinate the priest of the God of War if he –as she expects–withholds t...moreI thought this novel was great.
It starts with a bang as Sara is prepared to assassinate the priest of the God of War if he –as she expects–withholds the blessing that her father needs as the new Primus of the Republic of Temboria. Withholding his blessing would be a death sentence, and Sara would do anything to protect her small family.
During a narrow escape from a undesirable suitor who drugged her with an aphrodisiac, Sara meets Lance, who she at first mistakes for a slave. She could not have been more wrong. Since she is under the effect of the aphrodisiac, she behaves somewhat (cough) inappropriately, but Lance is the gentleman, and he saves the day and disappears.
How can she help falling in love with him?
Turns out, he’s a Child of Peace. And the next day, her father asks her to become a Child of Peace herself as the Ambassador to Slaveland, aka Kandrith. She also has a secret mission–to learn the secret of Slave Magic, which her father is very afraid of. What follows is an adventurous journey with Lance, at the end of which she learns just what it means to be a Child of Peace, at which time she has to grow up in a hurry.
Nothing goes as you would expect. People you think are loyal turn out to not be so, and people you expect to betray Sara turn out to be steadfast. People you think are pitiless monsters turn out to be good guys, and good guys turn out to be pitiless monsters.
I was worried by the early aphrodisiac scene that this novel would be way more erotic than I expected or desired, but it surprised me. There are sex several scenes, but only after a very long romance building, and they certainly were not excessive. I will call out one rather crude groping; you are warned.
The amazing thing about this book is it is 134,000 words, and yet I read it in just a few days. The character development is amazing, and even a secondary character gets to have a major turnaround. There are surprises in this novel that will keep you guessing until the very last scenes.
And dang–I have not even said anything about the magic system. Suffice it to say that you have never seen anything like this before. It is the most poignant magic system I have ever read. And what about that fabulous escape! It was the best one I’ve read in a great while.
If you like epic fantasy, you will probably like this novel despite the naughty scenes. They are brief. If you like fantasy romance, this is something you will like. I highly recommend it. Five stars!(less)
I’ve had my eye on this book for a long time, and when I got my Kindle it was one of the first books I got. I read it and loved it.
To me, this was the...moreI’ve had my eye on this book for a long time, and when I got my Kindle it was one of the first books I got. I read it and loved it.
To me, this was the perfect science fiction tale. It featured a likable hero, the 75 year old John Perry. It involved a twist that I never saw coming, but sure should have. And it involved really, really ruthless enemies, and aliens that are just about as strange as one can imagine.
John Perry is celebrating his 75th birthday by joining the army. He intended to join with his wife, but she unfortunately died before the requisite age. He joins for a ten year term, and knowing that he can never return to Earth.
Before actually being able to join, he undergoes a rigorous series of physical and psychological exams. One of my favorite parts was when a doctor tells him that he has testicular cancer. The doctor is unconcerned about it and is totally uninterested in treating it.
“Why wouldn’t you cure it?” I asked. “If you can ‘shore up’ an affected region, it sounds like you could probably fix it completely if you wanted to.”
“We can, but it’s not necessary,” Dr. Russell said. “You’ll be getting a more comprehensive overhaul in a couple of days. We just need to keep you going until then.”
“What does this ‘comprehensive overhaul’ mean, anyway?” I asked.
“It means that when it’s done, you’ll wonder why you ever worried about a spot of cancer on your testicle,” he said. “That’s a promise …”
By this time, I was in total suspense about this “comprehensive overhaul” and dying to find out what it meant. And I never expected what it turned out to be.
For the entire first half of the novel, this suspense was more than enough to keep me turning the pages. The only real conflict was between the recruits and the military’s medical personnel, and even then, it was like the above. And the usual conflict between recruit and drill sergeant.
So what’s missing? A girl. And yes, there is a girl. Several, in fact, but really, the only girl for John is his dead wife, Kathy. She has an impact on the story in a big way. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.
Through most of the book, the other character drift in and out of the story and then die off. The story focuses on John exclusively and almost to its detriment. However, toward the end, it starts focusing on a core group of characters, especially one named Jane Sagan. She is a lieutenant in the ever-intriguing Ghost Brigades, the subject of the second novel in the series. (Which I read as well.)
One final thing–although this book is quite gritty, the gritty portions made me wince only because I was so taken with the main character. More importantly, the author did not overwhelm the story with grit– it is also full of humor and heart. I will be giving this novel a rare five stars at Amazon and GoodReads.(less)