You get here an insta-love story between an insecure teenager with a preternatural abilities and a young werewolf cutie who is basically a big dog ofYou get here an insta-love story between an insecure teenager with a preternatural abilities and a young werewolf cutie who is basically a big dog of sorts until he isn't. Clay knows Gabby is his mate - the one and only- as soon as he sniffs her divine musk. Still he doesn't want to talk to her for a reason or two (a bonus in some situations I suppose but overall slightly annoying). What's more he moves in with Gabby and her housemate without any invitation. Creepy? Nah. Clay is harmless (woof, woof) and one big asset to boot: he can cook, fix cars and unplug the sink (when he is in his human form of course). He is also a warm blanket/comforter, a housekeeper, a nurse, a bodyguard and a perfect date when Gabby needs it. I grant it: the romance is sloooow - they start kissing near the end. Slow is good; unfortunately it's only the second good thing I found. The first was the narration from Gabby's POV which was skillfully done. Now the unpleasantries...
The structure of the novel made me vince more than once. Firstly it was basically one big introduction to the series without any deeper world build. Secondly I hate it when the main lead has some abilities but they disappear from time to time because it is more convenient for the author. It is tantamount to cheating and here it happened twice: in case of Gabby and in case of Clay. We learn the girl is irresistible to all male and then we are shown that in some moments she isn't; Clay is one dangerous were until he turns into a big fluffy dog (?) and starts stalking...er... courting his beloved. WTF?
Overall the premise of this one made me feel deeply uncomfortable and for several reasons. You are introduced to a vulnerable teen girl, an orphan, who can attract constant unwanted male attention never understanding why she is such a man-magnet. Then she meets an older man who belongs to a secret, tight-knit group; the man claims he understands her problems (don't they all?) and he wants to help her (sure dude, whatever). Then he insinuates himself into her life never telling her the whole truth behind his motivations (she might not understand him, right?). Finally the girl moves in with him (no officials involved, how strange) and immediately, like after mere eight hours or so, she is forced to attend a meeting of that group of his. They happen to be dangerous werewolves. Then she has to promise she will be going there on a regular basis even if it is clear she doesn't want to. It is allegedly done for her own good but still nobody explains her all the implications.
Honestly I nearly swore aloud. Imagine a vulnerable child being manipulated, dragged to an isolated location and then forced to take part in sexual rituals from the age of 16. During these meetings she is exposed to several males who are to decide whether she is a proper match for them even though the girl have repeated over and over again that she currently doesn't want to date, mate or marry anyone...finally she is paired with an older guy who is a kind of savage - he doesn't cut his hair, he doesn't shave, he doesn't talk. Of course she is seeing him for the first time in her life. Romantic? Not for me....more
It was a book equally complex and convoluted like the first part, Blindsight, but also somehow less impressive. It mentioned a lot of ideas about reliIt was a book equally complex and convoluted like the first part, Blindsight, but also somehow less impressive. It mentioned a lot of ideas about religion, consciousness, the mind, awareness and free will and still it left me strangely cold in the end. Let me explain why I felt that way.
The premise was very similar, you would want to say recycled, to the first part: a man was being forced to undergo an epic journey - take that term in its widest possible meaning. In the first part it was Siri Keeton; now you get to meet his dad, Jim Moore, who tries to help a poor, obsolete biologist, Daniel Brüks, to survive as a non mission-critical crew member (a.k.a roach) of The Crown of Thorns, a top-notch spaceship which has to discover what happened to Theseus, Siri's ship.
After all Dan got involved by accident and it wasn't his fault, was it? Overall free will seems to be the main theme of the narrative. You see characters manipulated by hidden forces into taking strange decisions while they think they are deciding on their own. You witness a powerful vampire, Valerie, playing with other crew members like a cat with mice. You wonder what is happening with the humans, a species so successful but also so disastrously stupid at times. So why I wasn't so terribly impressed anymore?
I grant it: after penning a truly brilliant first part it's hard to meet exorbitant expectations of your readers. If I had to say why I consider this part worse, I would say mainly because Echopraxia swung egregiously toward a heavy reliance on technical tropes while leaving plot and character far behind. While machines might be interesting, those are humans who I would like to follow around and befriend. Still I couldn't.
Biologist Daniel Brüks, Echopraxia’s protagonist, felt a bit too flat to be called a really interesting and believable character. Brüks as an intellectual “baseline” (i.e. an unaugmented human amongst transhuman companions)––a loner and natural skeptic who mourns his wife - often sounded a bit like a machine. His defining feature is bemusement as he is swept into an extraterrestrial conflict he neither understands nor cares much about. Brüks is accompanied by a host of characters who are about as dull as he is (with the possible exception of military strategist Jim Moore, kept in the background for too long). The origins of their motivations, goals and conflicts are unclear at the outset and arguably even less clear at the novel’s conclusion. If such a trick was deliberate then I am not sure what its aim was; if it was an accident then an editor should have intervened.
A faith-based hard sci-fi position which I felt was a bit too dry, too focused on technology and not enough on psychology. Points for effort but I liked the first part better. Would I give any possible continuation a sporting chance? Maybe....more
A risky romance between two people who should be enemies, people divided by their political views, upbringing and class was hinted at in A FashionableA risky romance between two people who should be enemies, people divided by their political views, upbringing and class was hinted at in A Fashionable Indulgence, reviewed by me in January. It sounded very nice so I wanted to know how Mrs. Charles would tackle this one. Be careful what you wish for, right?
After reading the first book in the series I had already some info concerning both gents which whetted my appetite so to speak. Dom was a Tory working for Home Office as one of their main investigators in charge of capturing seditionists while Silas was a staunch radical owning a small bookshop, a secret and illegal source of seditious pamphlets written by him as Jack Cade. To make things even trickier Dom and Silas were meeting every Wednesday in a house of ill repute to have D/s sex without knowing each other’s identity. That ended abruptly when Dom had to take part in a raid on Silas’s bookshop and blew his cover. I admit I was intrigued by a conflict that intense between feelings, duties and beliefs and, wanting to see how the author explored it, I bought the book. However, as risky as this romance was set up, it didn’t read as thrilling as I expected.
Imagine my surprise when, for the majority of the novel, practically nothing new happened – no conflict, no fiery scenes, no unexpected twists and turns, only those Wednesdays. As I knew about them after reading the first part I was left wondering: why I was given nothing more in the second?
I am not a BDSM fan so the secret trysts between “Tory” and his “brute” didn’t satisfy me sufficiently, especially that the sex was described in a rather tame and crude way. Still to my surprise also in terms of plot the author didn’t move forward almost at all which was strange. In fact she repeated most of situations hinted at or described earlier. The death sentence mentioned in blurb? It happened but only in last quarter and it was hardly anything new either. Finally let me add that the change of heart Silas underwent near the end seemed a bit too convenient for my liking – such a dramatic set-up almost demanded more drastic measures. I hoped for the Romeo-and-Juliet ending. I got soap.
A major meh and a big disappointment but it cannot be assessed differently with the author just recycling previous ideas. I am not buying the third part, thank you very much. I feel I’ve wasted enough money already....more
I stumbled upon this book by accident. I felt worn to a frazzle after the Yule period full of false cheerfulness, a lot of hustle and bMy impressions:
I stumbled upon this book by accident. I felt worn to a frazzle after the Yule period full of false cheerfulness, a lot of hustle and bustle combined with overwhelming boredom (my ordinary state of mind in the end of December and early January) so I asked on Twitter for suggestions of a Wiccan/pagan novel – nothing stirs my inner pagan better than Xmass. I was given that title, I went to Goodreads, checked it out and I decided to give it a chance, especially as it was available for free. It was a good decision.
I approached the novel without any expectations whatsoever which was good. At the very beginning I became more than pleased by the simple fact that the main female lead, Caitlin, was already happily married. It boded so well – no freaking romance! The plot I found very sensibly paced, neither too slow nor too fast but it kept me interested all the way. Then Breda Ni Fhearraigh was introduced and my opinion of the author and the book soared even higher. Breda was a nice-looking girl but she clearly had that metaphorical second bottom I adore in my literary characters. Caitlin of course wasn’t that bad either and I have to mention a sentient being called Tintri Fionn who also managed to win me over even if he/it (?) wasn’t exactly that nice. I don’t want to spoil anything for you; let me just mention that there are almost no baddies in this book, everybody, even a demon, is three-dimensional and somehow humane.
Any complaints? I admit there were too many infodumps concerning witches, magic, tarot and ghosts/demons but I didn’t mind as I found them interesting.If you are not such a nerd like me you might find them a bit annoying; still they added to the world build so I suppose they weren’t very bad. I also noticed some typos good editing would have eliminated but not many of them (three at most).
One of better UF books, self-published or otherwise, I’ve read for a very long time. If you don’t mind magic, witches and demons in your fantasy you should read it. What’s more, it is available for free ....more
I have to say my feelings are mixed; it wasn’t a pleasant book but I suppose you shouldn’t expect nice when dealing with such topic. The author wantedI have to say my feelings are mixed; it wasn’t a pleasant book but I suppose you shouldn’t expect nice when dealing with such topic. The author wanted to show how individual people suffered because a company had wanted to test their product or a government had wanted to have a war. It is never nice, being a lab rat of a kind and it might happen to anybody.
So we get Max Wright, a Vietnam war veteran, a dingy bearded cripple who is so twisted that in order to straighten him you would need a steamroller or a tank. He deals drugs, he smokes, he drinks heavily, he pops Valium and whatever downer pills he gets from a doctor as if they were sweets and he dreams of a pair of prosthetic leg implants which can be had for 10k dollars or so he is led to believe. Still how an unemployed vet, with as many bad habits as fleas on a stray dog, might earn so much? Illegally of course – stealing, dealing, lying through his teeth, even occasionally pimping his girlfriend prostitute, a Vietnamese woman called Mai Linh Trahn.
Still Max is not a completely bad man. He can be loyal – as far as his drug-addled brain allows him to be. He saves his friend from an ugly lynch. He seems to truly love and care for Mai. He hopes that his life might change for better which is kind of delusional and sweet, taking into account the fact that he also wants to fight against a big ugly corporation which produced Agent Orange, destroyed Vietnam, his health and the family of Mai.
If gross scenes, a present tense narration, gratuitous sex and violence and a completely ambiguous ending don’t discourage you read this one. After starting it I was toying with the idea of DNF for like 10-20 pages and I am surprised I actually finished it. However it must be admitted the author knows how to construct his fiction. The story pulled me inside and didn’t want to let go, its raw honesty being actually refreshing. I liked the fragments about the Warehouse and its inhabitants – all vegans and all fighting the system – the best. I liked Max and Mai a bit too but I wish their story wasn’t cut so abruptly short.
The present tense narration was also something I had to get used to but ultimately the story prevailed because I like flawed heroes and I like it when they try to change something against the odds. Even if you know it can’t end well. The action was there but the characterization could have been done much better in my very humble opinion.
Not a bad book but also nothing easy to read. I was a bit put off by the fact that the author used his story to ‘proselytize’ a bit – if you care to read the interview at the back of the book you will know what I mean. I have nothing against vegans, I am a vegetarian myself but when I see somebody’s style of life pitched in their novel I feel uncomfortable. I also wish I was given a more solid ending. There have been several huge class action lawsuits against the evil Monstanto – Max and Mai testifying in the court along other victims would be such a nice way to show violence is often not the only way of avenging yourself....more
I am not going to be fair in my review, nuh-huh. After reading an anthology of short stories by Ted Chiang I believe it is impossible tMy impressions:
I am not going to be fair in my review, nuh-huh. After reading an anthology of short stories by Ted Chiang I believe it is impossible to read any other sci-fi or fantasy book and be impressed. Still I chose this one deliberately – as a palate cleanser. You know the drill: steamy sex scenes, a simple romance between two sorcerers, a coup threatening the whole kingdom. What not to like?
Ok, let’s try to be positive and fair for a moment or two. The romance thread between Miko and Aya was nicely done, at least in the first part of the book. He was a kind of school celebrity – a brilliant student and a great lay with a list (yes, a list!) of willing females waiting to have a go at him. She was a smart girl who had a hidden agenda of her own and wasn’t easily impressed.
Then the actual plot intervened. Even though I was nicely surprised that I recognized some characters from previous parts (Vaysita and Kai among them) my enjoyment went firmly downwards. I hated the fact that the reigning Queen had no other plan of action than to rely on her subjects, keep calm and hope for the best. The main baddie, the great Headmistress Sotariel could have been more three-dimensional and a tiny bit more complex. The ending could have avoided well-known clichés like the one showing the reconciliation with a dying parent or a hero all alone saving the day and the kingdom single-handedly (or close).
You see? I promised you no balance or fairness and I am true to my word. Still I have to say the cleanser worked as it should so I shouldn’t complain too much, right? Oh, and I love the cover – simple but pertinent.
A nice, uncomplicated erotica fantasy with a lot of sex scenes and sweet, sweet romance you will love. Or not. If you have a lazy summer afternoon before you and you want to end it with an upbeat this novel might do the trick. However if you are into brainier stuff do read Mr. Chiang....more
To be honest this part of the review should be entitled rather ‘my rant’. The main heroine was seriously damaging any chances of me likMy impressions:
To be honest this part of the review should be entitled rather ‘my rant’. The main heroine was seriously damaging any chances of me liking this novel. A girl playing with fire? In more than one way. Still was she at least an interesting character I would like to read about? Weeeell…
First of all you have a very young, very sheltered girl aged 21 who’s just made a very serious decision, apparently her first, of leaving the island hometown she’d lived and joining a circus troupe. Yes, she simply ran away with a circus. The ringmaster, a motherly type called Marina, offered our girl that precious opportunity because Lille (Lillian) looked like a ‘traveler’ and knew how to paint kid’s faces in a creative manner. You see a girl in a café painting kids’ faces, you talk to her two or three times, you offer her a job, right? Wrong. A circus is a business like any other and serious businesses rarely hire staff that way unless they want to go bust in no time. Not to mention the fact that Marina seemed uninterested in any financial gain from her new employee; it made me immediately super suspicious.
Then we find out why Lille was tempted to change her life so drastically. You see, like in the case of every good, classic Freudian analysis, it was all about her mother. According to Lille her mom was a sadistic control freak and a face-slapping despot. I have to admit I had an immediate problem with such a premise because Lille was the sole narrator of the novel so her personal opinions were, like all personal opinions, biased. From my point of view her mother didn’t look that bad. Being a single mother, she has also managed to become a successful businesswoman; she clearly took care of her daughter, even thinking about her social life, arranging for her a kind of boyfriend when it was clear Lille’s tastes were a bit off. I am not a mother but I kind of understood that behaviour. It was clear Lille had difficulties with social interactions; she was an easy touch and a personality definitely not as adult as she wanted to pretend. If I needed any proof of her immaturity the ‘wish list’ or ‘bucket list’ she’s composed was more than enough; it really sounded like something written by a naïve, rebellious teen (and I mean here somebody being in very early teens) than by a young but sensible woman studying in a college. Only look at it:
“1. Dump Henry Jackson (the boyfriend chosen by her mom – my note).
Get a tattoo. Have sex with a stranger. Do something dangerous. Visit a place I’ve never been before. Fall in love. Make a new friend. Quit my degree. Become a real artist. Move out of my mother’s house. Get my heart broken.” Le sigh. Why would you want to get your heart broken, I ask you, if not for the needs of a romantic novel? Characteristically, she never added “get more mature”,”get wiser” or “start thinking”.
Ok, so Lille escapes her controlling witch of a mother and her dull in-the-middle-of-nowhere town in order to travel with a band of circus artists. Them and Jack McCabe, one seriously messed-up individual hiding in a shell of a very handsome, darkly brooding man who loves playing with fire and does it for a living too. His character was exactly what kept me going as he was written rather well. It is the strong point of Cosway – when she writes about messed up, almost-broken individuals she does it well.
Anyway Jack was the catnip for Lille’s inner kitten, everything which she considered attractive, exotic, enticing and delightfully forbidden. Still Lille in a moment of unprecedented lucidity saw also the other Jack: a love-starved, deeply damaged boy whose childhood was stolen by an accident. The adult Jack carefully hid that side from the world at large but Lille was determined to get to know him better. All good and well but it was as if the author suddenly created a second Lille, more mature and wiser than the first one, acting completely out of character. Why Jack fell in love with her dumber clone in the first place? That is the question. I bet he’s found and read her bucket list and laughed almost to death the first time in his life. ;p
The weakest romantic novel by L.H. Cosway I’ve read so far with a heroine that, in my biased opinion, was too stupid to live. And then she was not. And it made her even worse. Something was always missing, some magic and some skill as well. Not impressed – meh it is....more
It’s always a very good or a very bad sign if I start writing my review before I finish my read. I started the review of this one after the half-bookIt’s always a very good or a very bad sign if I start writing my review before I finish my read. I started the review of this one after the half-book mark. This time I was definitely impressed and charmed.
The narration ( the first person unlimited voice) I found incredibly smooth and enticing. It pulled me in and refused to let go till the very end. The sad (or maybe rather nostalgic) story of Lenny Strasser, his flighty former love interest called Kate, Dave Larrabee currently in love with Kate, and their mutual rival, Dutton, a drug peddler and a poseur extraordinaire, was simple all things considered, but mesmerizing. Or maybe just told in a very good way. The relationships between characters in the novel, however, were anything but simple. I might even risk a statement they were very complex. Like love. They felt right and resonated in perfect accordance with my own feelings. Anyway I enjoyed it immensely, letting the narrative flow to carry me to the final denouement.
The best thing is that, even though you visit the seedier quarters of Los Angeles and meet all the characters through Lenny’s eyes, everything and everybody is as three-dimensional and real as if a friend was telling you a true story. The novel has an original climate; it might seem dark and slightly pessimistic but I found it very enticing. You know, I am like a bat – I love darkness or at least dusk. It has also some slightly dreamy poetic quality, finding and describing beauty of quite unexpected places.
If I HAD to complain a little bit I would say one thing: no strong female characters. Sheela the hairdresser was good but a bit sketchy and coming to your full attention only near the very end. Bloody Mary a.k.a Marie, the homeless French lesbian was also interesting but even more sketchy. Kate could have been good if only we saw and heard from her more often. The first person narration, like everything in life, has some drawbacks even if it is performed very well.
I liked this one very much and it was a very pleasant surprise. I was able to read it during two evenings, enjoying every moment of it. I recommend it if you want to visit Los Angeles of the late 70s or just read a good, interesting story.
I got a complimentary digital copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review from the author – thank you very much!...more
It was a charming, sweet story with your obligatory HEA waiting like a faithful dog at the very end. No, in this genre, a traditional regWhat I liked:
It was a charming, sweet story with your obligatory HEA waiting like a faithful dog at the very end. No, in this genre, a traditional regency romance, such a remark is not a spoiler; it is rather a confirmation that the book won’t disappoint you. I liked the fact that the main hero was a very pious, very serious young vicar who didn’t want to marry but fell for an oddball of a miss. I am so tired with all those rakes. His love interest, Cecilia, was a girl artistically inclined, prone to daydreaming and too honest for her own good but not skilled in flirting or husband-hunting. Overall they made a charming couple.
Of course there were some necessary obstacles. Firstly, William still dreamed about a mission in Africa or India so he was very unwilling to look for a bride. Then Cecilia’s mum proved to be a kind of a snob – she wanted her only daughter not only married but married well, with a title, a mansion, a fleet of carriages, a house in London and plenty of pin money to spend. In her opinion William’s modest income hardly qualified at all and there was another bachelor available, the younger son of the local, aristocratic Barrington family who seemed to be the perfect candidate (but not the perfect match).
I was also glad Cecilia was given a lot of subtle sense of humour. The presence of a female sidekick in a form of Amy Miller who was working as a maid for the Barringtons and had secrets and problems of her own didn’t hurt either. Overall I suppose Miss Jane Austen would feel in Amberley completely at home most of the time – the author tried very hard to keep the world build properly anachronistic, in accordance with the era, which I appreciate a lot. It was a nice depiction of a time when a good reputation could be damaged by even an innocent secret, when young women pregnant out of wedlock were ostracized and being of a noble and rich gent carried a lot of weight.
Oh and last but not least: the cover. It’s gorgeous and it reflects the innocent charm of that novel very well – definitely a good choice.
What I didn’t like:
The baddie, Barrington. I wish he was fleshed out better. I don’t want to spoil you; let me just say that, as a rake, he was surprisingly inept. I did hope for some more action from his side, some more nastiness and I was given just half-backed attempts at revenge which backfired anyway. I hate stupid baddies. Still I’ve found out he is given a book of his own so perhaps not all is lost.
Apart from that the plot became a touch too predictable near the end and, as a result, the novel stopped being so absorbing but, as I said, it is hardly a flaw, being one of the main features of the genre.
If you like original, Austen-like stories without any fanfiction play, with just a few chaste kisses between two main leads, this is definitely a Regency novel worth adding to your to-read list. Normally, I’m not a romance fan. I like my stories darker, with a lot of suspense, shadowy characters and death lurking around the corner; some purple prose doesn’t hurt either. Still I shamelessly admit I enjoyed The Vagabond Vicar a lot: it was a breeze to read, it was sweet and pretty straightforward without being simplistic. I guess from time to time everybody needs a little sugary snack – this was my bookish equivalent....more
I was sent a complimentary copy of that novel by the author, Pauline M. Ross, who is, like me, one of contributors of the Fantasy Review Barn. I’ve knI was sent a complimentary copy of that novel by the author, Pauline M. Ross, who is, like me, one of contributors of the Fantasy Review Barn. I’ve known Pauline’s online persona for some time – we’ve befriended each other on Goodreads and Twitter. At one point I even proposed (and was rejected, alas ;p). Writing my review I tried hard to be as impartial as possible, all things considering, but I admit I might be a tad biased – I had the pleasure to be one of Pauline’s beta readers when she worked on that book. Just so you know.
What I liked:
The novel is narrated in the third voice limited, alternatively from the point of view of Mia and Hurst; I found them complementing each other nicely. It is a firm stand-alone, with a nice beginning and ending – no cliffhangers or such – even if the author assured me it is a part of a larger series.
The world build was very original, especially the idea of Karnings and those double marriages which provided a nice set of characters without too many twists and turns. An additional bonus: the Vahsi barbarians and warriors fighting the Karningholders after a time proved to be quite similar to their opponents (I really cannot say more here without including some major spoilers).
I liked the fact that both Mia and Hurst, a pair of the protagonists, were so physically imperfect. Tella and Jonnor, the other pair from the same Karninghold, while beautiful and handsome were also rather selfish, cruel and weak. Such a simple trick but it made my day as a reader. In my view especially Hurst (or rather “Most High Hurst dos Arrakas, Second Husband of Karning Dranish Turs Kan-forst”) was a likeable character, ‘a lion on the line, but a mouse in his own home’ as described by one of his companions. His slow-burning passion for Mia, a girl so obviously infatuated by Jonnor’s perfect form – the lithe and toned body, the beautiful face surrounded by curls- was moving. Then came a love triangle which, surprise, surprise, didn’t irritate me at all because it was…different as it included Dethin, the warlord extraordinaire, Once again I cannot say any more because it would be a spoiler but believe me, it bore no similarity to the much-hated, pink, three-headed beast.
However you know what I liked the best? Like in real life there were no baddies rotten to the core, no really. Or rather I should say the baddies were so three-dimensional and complicated that, after a while, you didn’t perceive them as completely negative characters.
Finally the cover art is simply great – I do love both the colours and the design.
What I didn’t like:
I sometimes wished the novel was a bit darker, especially its second part. I also wanted to know more about the technology (a sky ship but no sewing machines? or firearms?) and the whole system of beliefs, behind those Voices, the Nine and Slaves. Ok, maybe later in the series.
Who is to say that a good reviewer cannot turn into a good writer? A very strong debut, not without flaws but still. I wish Pauline all the best and many books to come, each one a bit better than the previous one. I certainly will read all of them....more
What would you do if you found out you had an incurable and inoperable brain cancer and you have more or less one year of life left? Some peoSynopsis:
What would you do if you found out you had an incurable and inoperable brain cancer and you have more or less one year of life left? Some people would spend most of their time in a hospital, hoping against hope that good doctors would miraculously get lucky. Some would look for cure on their own in all available and unexpected places. Some would get depressed and kill themselves. Liam Walker, a young Edinburgh plumber approaching thirty, decided to do something else. He decided to enjoy the remainder of his life to the full and have the time of his life.
He stopped working, withdrew all his savings, started picking up all the girls he fancied, and, generally, tried his best to find the best closure of his whole existence, straightening the many wrongs he used to tolerate or forget. He even found a girl of his dreams – the lovely but a bit mysterious Celine with an ample bosom and equally luscious bottom; a girl after his own heart who even shared his taste in books and poems. Still will it be enough?
I am quite aware you can criticize this novel (or rather three short novels constituting a series; I got them all in one copy, it is explained later why) for many things: notably bad language, overindulgence in sex descriptions (‘her sex’, damit! Please, do me a favour and outlaw this expression worldwide!), some paragraphs with strange punctuation and spelling, quite intrusive Scottish brogue, never properly translated (but hey, I got the meaning almost every time and I am not a native speaker so it is not completely hopeless), even those poems in English and in French. Still in this case I feel like being a devil’s advocate.
Why? There’s just one reason: despite its shortcomings the novel worked for me surprisingly well.
Firstly because it had a real, solid story at its core and a great story too. Liam’s illness is something thousands of people are facing every day – all of a sudden they are informed by their doctors they have one month or one year left and I suppose nothing could have prepared them for that. It is quite understandable they might act differently, doing something very wise of very foolish, most often a mix of both.
Secondly because the story of Liam was told with a great sense of humour and irony. I admit I skipped some sex scenes because, even if they featured the divine Celine, they tended to be a bit repetitive; still otherwise I couldn’t wait to get to the bottom line and understand the first part’s opening paragraph to the full. What made that a bit oversexed but overall rather sensible man behaving the way he was behaving?
As far as I know it is a series consisting of three rather short novels. A word of warning: if you are not put off by the adult content and you decide to buy the first one, save yourself a lot of frustration and buy also the rest. Every one of them ends with a big, fat cliffhanger, leaving you rather annoyed if you know you can’t continue the story.
I was asked by the author whether I wanted the whole trilogy or just the first part. As I like longer novels I ended up ordering the whole lot. It was probably the best decision I’ve made as a book blogger and reviewer so far. The ending of the third part was truly riveting and a bit heroic too. I can’t write anything more specific because I would be spoiling you to the extreme; let me just say I didn’t expect such an ending and I consider it a good point.
Last but not least – I must mention something which warmed me to the author significantly. At the end of the book he asks the readers to leave a feedback of any kind as he appreciates any kind of review, bad and good. Reading it I grinned like a fool at the moon. Yes! Finally somebody sensible enough to appreciate the value of negative opinions and impartial criticism! God bless you, dear sir!
A very enjoyable and original novel which, even if far from perfect, still managed to hold my interest till the very end. I am really happy I agreed to read and review it....more
When Ronald Green, a business professor at the local uni, finds out that his former lover, Diane, has been violently murdered, he thinks that from nowWhen Ronald Green, a business professor at the local uni, finds out that his former lover, Diane, has been violently murdered, he thinks that from now on his entire life is going to be more difficult. He is wrong. His entire life turns into hell.
Right from their first visit in his office two local police detectives, Jack Hollis and Helen Lipscomb, consider him a suspect. His wife, Lynda, who had known about the affair but never imagined a murder, takes their two kids and moves out. Soon enough the entire campus whispers half-truths and downright lies behind Ron’s back and when he tries to confront them he meets a wall of silence. Some colleagues stop giving him the time of the day, some others pretend that nothing’s happened which is even worse. Ronald knows that, even though he hasn’t been officially charged with anything, let alone arrested or imprisoned, people around him have already declared him guilty. What can be done, especially that more murders follow the first one and the police still think it’s him?
Seeing that nobody has any good idea how to move the investigation forward, Ronald decides to find out the connection between the victims on his own. He hopes to clear his name in the process but all he gets are more troubles. Will he manage to discover the identity of the real culprit before he is ruined financially, jailed and defamed for good?
I liked this book but rather for things it didn’t have than for those it had. Let me explain.
The author managed to avoid most of clichés, plaguing your ordinary thriller – mind you it’s his first published book. The main character, Ronald, your ordinary college prof teaching such ‘exciting’ classes as basic entrepreneurship, was far from being your typical thriller protagonist, a paragon of male handsomeness, all brawn and (almost) no brains. No, he didn’t fall in love during the narration, he was recovering from an affair and then his wife left him so it was only too natural that he wanted some time alone – in my opinion another big asset. Still I bet plenty of authors would pair him with somebody – a female police officer, a colleague or a student – just to get a bigger target audience (allegedly those women who read thrillers, poor things, prefer them with a strong romantic story arc).
What didn’t work for me quite so well was the pace of narration. Our ordinary hero spent in my humble opinion too many pages moping around, drinking himself into oblivion and asking for help his friend, an attorney. After a while it became a bit boring and repetitive until finally poor Ron got a grip on himself, started to think and act. I completely understood his breakdown and I bet it would happen to 99% of people in Ron’s situation – suspected to be a murderer but never officially accused of anything, being judged and punished at work and at home – but in fiction sometimes it’s good to make your character pull him or herself by their proverbial bootstraps rather sooner than later. Also the narrative voice could have been more riveting but I guess you shouldn’t be too demanding with a debut novel. One small tip – make your characters funnier, let them say a witty anecdote or two, it always helps to enliven the story.
When it comes to the murder mystery it was nicely done but one tidbit prevented me from enjoying it thoroughly – perhaps I missed something but in my view the author didn’t give his readers a chance to work it out on their own because he was withdrawing the crucial info concerning the culprit till almost the very end. Finally the main villain. I did love the fact that Ron, when he discovered the whole truth, sympathized with them to some extent (I use ‘them’ because I don’t want to suggest the gender of the murderer). It was really well done, making the whole story a lot more complex than your ordinary whodunnit.
This thriller could have been better but also it could have been far worse – take from a girl who’s read many quite horrible thrillers. Overall I was positively surprised how interesting it was and I never regretted I had accepted it for a review. I wish the author all the best; he definitely has a lot of potential....more
I was sent a complimentary copy of this one by the agent promoting the author in exchange for an honest review – thank you very much! That fact didn’tI was sent a complimentary copy of this one by the agent promoting the author in exchange for an honest review – thank you very much! That fact didn’t influence my opinion in any way.
Even though the book was told in the first person limited voice, a feature not liked by everyone, the narration was done in a great way – it was well-paced, it managed to keep my attention and sounded true. Sometimes the truth is hard to swallow but you cannot fail to appreciate it, especially if you read about a country such as South Africa, where people living during the apartheid period were lied to and brainwashed repeatedly.
The surface is about shooting a documentary which is supposed to make or break Bamford’s career but the author used it as an excuse to focus on rather difficult, philosophical questions; they were revealed inside a story in such a way that it wasn’t a chore to think about the answers. What leads people to commit unspeakable acts? Who is to blame – the circumstances, the official propaganda, the past experiences? What does it mean to attempt to speak about the “unspeakable”? If I had to compare the formula I would say the old movie ‘Cabaret’, dealing with coming to power of the Nazi in Germany, I find the closest.
Rian, Bamford and Vicky, the three main characters, have to deal with love, lust, origins, meaning, racism and the past during one trip to the country in order to shoot a rather controversial documentary.They try to do the right thing, enjoy themselves, do the good job, but their inner demons act up and soon enough they find themselves on a straight path to a tragedy. The strange thing is I liked the character of Bamford, an obnoxious, shunned and lonely palaeontologist, the best. He came with an interesting hypothesis- that modern Man has degenerated from earlier and more intelligent beings. If Africa remains the cradle of Man, and Bamford’s discovered skull is all that remains of Man’s earlier and more civilized incarnation then the accelerating bestiality of recent South African history has an inherent, depressive logic. Still is his theory right?
Be warned: the events of the book will shock and they are meant to. By the end these casual and degenerate impulses of the main character find a kind of logical inevitability. I admit the doom and gloom of the narration got to me too much sometimes and I found myself wishing for a bit of comic relief. No such luck. The denouement was far bleaker than I expected and a bit open-ended too but I suppose, all things considered, it couldn’t have been any different.
Finally the cover works just fine – it’s simple and grim.
An interesting book about South Africa and the condition of human nature, asking a lot of difficult questions. Not an easy position to read but it is certainly worth the effort.
Mini Review: Right Hand Magic (Goghotam 01) by Nancy A. Collins My impressions If a novel is described as “vampiric, postpunk, metal-fanged, dark-doomeMini Review: Right Hand Magic (Goghotam 01) by Nancy A. Collins My impressions If a novel is described as “vampiric, postpunk, metal-fanged, dark-doomed romance at its best” it makes me interested almost despite myself. I grant it - Golgotham is a very original setting. So original, in fact, that it overshadowed a bit the main characters and the action; mind you the action, although sensibly paced, still seemed more important than the whole romance between Hexe and Tate. I was really strange – the pair of protagonists were simply lost among all those colourful Kymerans, maenads, centaurs, werewolves, changelings and satyrs. I really loved the fact that the author knew her mythology but wasn’t this novel supposed to be about an interracial romance? Dark-doomed to boot, whatever it means? And let me assure you that I haven’t noticed one single vampire, at least not in the first part of this series. What’s more the narration left plenty to be desired, with smaller and bigger infodumps here and there. The baddies were cardboard-thin and, when I come to think about it, the world build had to save the day too many times. Final verdict: Would I like to revisit Golgotham? Maybe, providing that there is more character development in the next parts and the writing style is better.....more
A high fantasy novel with steampunk elements, featuring an intrepid female protagonist and a stone-faced, ninja-like assassin who simplyMy impression:
A high fantasy novel with steampunk elements, featuring an intrepid female protagonist and a stone-faced, ninja-like assassin who simply have to work together and can’t help liking each other more and more – what can go wrong? Add to that a handful of colourful secondary characters: an elderly professor, drowning his sorrows in wine, a handsome and vain swordsman, a surly street rat dabbing in magic, a young and idealistic emperor who, living in a splendid isolation, is being slowly poisoned by his closest advisor…sounds so nice, right? And yet…
Ok, let’s start on a positive note. The camraderie and interaction between the characters themselves was the best thing about this book, and honestly, it could be quite humorous at times. And here my praise stops - even it did not make up for the shortcomings in the main leads and the story itself.
Somehow neither the feisty Amaranthe Lokdon, nor the mysterious and deadly effective Sicarius, always clad in fitted dark clothing, won my heart. Ok, I admit it, perhaps it is too early to judge them so harsh, it is just the first part of a long series but they all seemed a tad too schematic - to a point when I could easily guess their thoughts and choices even before they opened their mouths or did anything. Their roles were also pretty clear from the very beginning. Maldynado, the most handsome gigolo and coxcomb in the city, and Books, the unhappy prof turned drunkard, were destined to provide comic relief whenever the sour Sicarius and the surly former gang member, Aksytr, were making the narration uncomfortably stiff. Amaranthe was there to attract trouble and then save the day, the emperor and the rest of her band from venal courtiers, sadistic magicians, brutal enforcers but mainly from themselves. Sometimes, I admit, she was being sweet, but more often she was obnoxiously noble – to such a point that I had to roll my eyes and remind myself of some of those deliciously dark antiheroes who pick their teeth with honourable men and women. It is such a kind of heroine which unleashes my worst instincts. Her goodness of heart is supposed to turn even the most hard-hearted criminal into her ally, she outwits the most powerful and corrupt politicians in the empire, while outthinking the most devious foreign spies and wizards. Reading about it you better never ask yourself ‘how come’ because the moment you do so you are doomed and the whole reading enjoyment is evaporating like champagne bubbles.
Now there is the romance between Amaranthe and Sicarius. Perhaps not a bad idea per se; still I couldn’t forgive the fact that it has been moving slower than a drugged sloth in a sheepskin catsuit on a greased branch; I know the purpose of that pacing – I don’t doubt that the romance will be artificially dragged on and on until the very last installment (the series features seven books, no mean feat) where most probably those two will finally kiss and proclaim that they love each other. Still I resent it. It’s like buttering a slice of bread with just a fraction of a normal portion you need to do it right - frustrating to say the least of it.
The action is nonstop – it is one of these novels which can make you almost physically tired. Amaranthe gets in so many scrapes and scuffles, is captured, escapes, is recaptured, escapes again... I forget how many times. Her captors are pretty inept and some of her escapes are pretty implausible so you should keep a very tight control on the logical part of your mind while reading about them. Now those names…Maldynado? Seriously? Why not marinade when we are already there? Sicarius? Sure, otherwise we wouldn’t guess he is a perfect, cold-blooded killing machine. Emperor Sespian? Why stop short of thespian? The capital of the empire is called…Stumps *rolleye* because no other name would be more imperial. The main baddie’s name is Hollowcrest, making you wonder why the young Emperor trusted him at all…oh wait, he was so naïve and trusting, poor thing, he most probably couldn’t help himself even if all his excuses ring a bit hollow.
Definitely something for younger/less blasé readers than me. It might be just because of my dark fantasy fixation but I think the only way to enjoy this novel is to read it as a comedy, ignoring the missteps as far as the plot goes and laughing at the characters mercilessly. I don't know if it is enough to make me pick the second book....more
My impressions (this time in a form of a devilish parable):
2006, somewhere in the USA. A successful female romance writer is sitting and pondering oveMy impressions (this time in a form of a devilish parable):
2006, somewhere in the USA. A successful female romance writer is sitting and pondering over her next novel. What to write: a contemporary or a historical romance? What will sell better? What will be more interesting for her audience? More challenging to write? Old or new? Contemporary or Victorian?
Unfortunately both options have their advantages and disadvantages (like everything else in life apart from chocolate perhaps). A contemporary heroine might be independent, more adventurous and creative in bed, fully indulging her every whim – what woman wouldn’t like to do the same? A Victorian lady has to be aware of many restrains limiting her appetites but her hairdo, clothes and jewellery would be such a joy to describe – what woman wouldn’t dream of donning such an attire to a ball like a proper princess? A contemporary chick? A Victorian miss? Or maybe…maybe…wait a moment… here’s an idea…a Victorian chick?
I don’t doubt (but, of course, I may be wrong) that at that precarious stage of planning a she-demon of failed romance novels (there is such a demon for sure) must have intervened, appearing out of the blackest pits of hell, lured to the Earth by too many pink and fluffy thoughts swirling around, the food she enjoys feasting on the most.
Whispering sweet nothings to the willing ear of the said writer the she-demon blurred the line between the common sense and utter pink rubbish with a clever spell. Then she was hissing and crooning in a voice which was black-chocolate-and-caramel-smooth: “Come on, no need to think so hard and make your head ache; I know the perfect solution. Let’s mix those two options together, keeping the best of both! With a liberal amount of steamy sex scenes your next book is bound to succeed anyway! Nobody will notice those itty-bitty discrepancies or even the bigger ones; as soon as you make your characters disrobe in a bedroom your readers will, in fact, forget their own names; steam is such a great way to cover any historical slip-ups and plot mistakes.”
A moment of weakness or laziness or both and here you go: the demon succeeded and “Suddenly You” was created. As you can guess such an influence didn’t pay off. No surprises here - demons rarely offer a good piece of advice; their intention is to destroy and to sow discord among readers and writers. The results?
The novel features one Amanda Briars a rather sheltered Victorian miss raised in the country who sold the family house and moved to London after the death of her parents – just like that. While enjoying her solitary life in the Big Smoke she launched out into writing, soon becoming a popular writer of romantic fiction. Drat, she’s been earning a decent living with the fees and royalties, no mean feat even in our times, let alone over one hundred years ago. What’s even less probable, she’s been publishing under her own name not a well-chosen male pseudonym (as it was usually the case at that era) and she has had no male agent to act in her behalf. Strange? No matter. Here starts the real deal.
Our sweet Amanda is a proper lady and a virgin and yet, and yet... one evening, after eating one plum pudding more, drinking a supernumerary glass of wine, crossing herself, she sighed and decided to arrange a visit of a male prostitute for her 30th birthday. You see, somehow she felt she had to get rid of that wretched hymen. Why such an idea came to her Victorian mind? How did she know male prostitutes existed at all? How did she find out where to go to hire one, without the Internet or tv? Nobody knows but our she-demon is laughing out loud and shakes her horn-adorned head with scorn, hearing such questions. Who cares about probability and other such inanities? A lady wants a stud and a stud she will receive. It’s a romance, she is a Victorian chick, it’s not about reality, right?
When the said cicisbeo (a word Amanda uses – also from the wrong era, at least one hundred years older, and with a different meaning but who cares) turns out to be a well-known publisher, masquerading for fun as a prostitute (don’t ask why – he doesn’t know why himself) I gasped - how come? Our heroine was such a popular author in London and the said publisher was doing so well in roughly the same business, still they didn’t known each other at least by sight? Strange. It gets even stranger, though.
After initial period of dithering they both decide that their tryst will last three months exactly. Amanda is embracing that idea with a really suspicious enthusiasm for a Victorian prude. Still she also wants to keep their affair in secret, now acting like a real Victorian. However, several dozen pages later, she doesn’t hesitate a moment when John (Jack) Devlin, the said publisher, invites her for a Christmas dinner to his house; mind you it is not a family dinner, rather a large party with plenty of people present, publishers, editors and authors, a social event. Can you imagine something more scandalous than that? Amanda, dear, you neglected your own family during Christmas for the sake of a man and you did it in public, it was almost as if you placed an announcement in all the main newspapers! Do you still think you can keep the whole affair ‘discreet’ and ‘private? Pigs can fly…
Apart from that the book spreads some really obnoxious romance cliches and their list I do not hesitate to include below (mind you some of them might be spoiler-ish):
(view spoiler)[If you fall in love, you do so because a man you fancy is very handsome/ a woman you fancy is very pretty. No love for uglies. If you love someone you cannot help but have sex with them as soon as possible. Alot of sex. If the sex is good it always means you love each other very much. If you get pregnant, it’s ok not to inform your partner about it because, after all, it is your private business. You can lie about your age, your previous life, anything at all – if your partner truly loves you he/she will always forgive you, no matter what. Honesty? Trust? Confidence? What are these? (hide spoiler)]
Ms Kleypas, some of your books are really good but this one disappointed me horribly. Maybe I would treat it less harshly and be less disappointed if my expectations weren’t set so high. Suddenly You wasn't perhaps the most horrible romance novel I've ever read but it most definitely was 'meh'.["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