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review 2017-07-12 03:36
An action-packed SF sequel that satisfies and entertains
Dark and Stars (Serengeti, #2) - J.B. Rockwell

I could've done a better job of keeping track of details, but I really thought that Serengeti was on her own a longer than we're told here. My issues aside, the important thing is that her time alone is over -- her sister ships have found her and have brought her to a spaceport for repairs.

 

She is soon reunited with a crew, and informed about the state of the Alliance Fleet -- which is worse than you might think. Following the devastating defeat in Serengeti, the Fleet turned in on itself, spending the intervening years in-fighting, neglecting its mission and the people it's supposed to protect.

 

Serengeti's recovery has provided the motivation for some to come up with a real solution to the problems within the Fleet. The primary movers here are the ship AIs, with only a little help from the captains/crew. I'd have liked to see more action from humans that aren't part of Serengeti's crew -- but, honestly -- I barely thought of that until after I was done with the book. Anyway, these ships have a plan that'll take care of the problems within the Fleet and enable them all to return to what they're supposed to be doing.

 

If they can just pull it off.

 

Next to McGuire's Aeslin mice, I'm not sure there's a cuter or more delightful character than Oona, the robot that was created in the last book. Not only is she adorable, she's very, very clever. Sign me up for a novel about her. The rest of the characters -- AI or human -- are well-drawn, engaging, and -- typically -- fun. The Fleet's admiral and the spokesman for the stealth ships are just dynamite. Maybe, just maybe, we could've gotten a little deeper with some of those not aligned with our friends -- but the story didn't require that.

 

The action is solid, the more imaginative SF aspects are told in a manner that you just buy, with little regard for plausibility or anything (I don't know, maybe the technologies depicted are plausible). Rockwell takes the solid foundation she laid down in Serengeti and builds on it with a strong adventure story. While I enjoyed all of Serengeti, the most likeable parts were early on, when her crew was still on board. This book gives us that from start to stop (well, with a quick break), with plenty of action and intrigue. There's still the heart, the great characters -- but add in the excitement, camaraderie and intrigue, and this one tops its predecessor.

 

Disclaimer: I received this novel from the author in exchange for this post -- I really appreciate it, but I made up my own mind about it.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2017/07/11/dark-and-stars-by-j-b-rockwell
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-07-11 05:32
The Unsung Hero (Troubleshooters #1) (Audiobook)
The Unsung Hero - Suzanne Brockmann

This audiobook is brought to you by Patrick Lawlor and Siri. Ok, Melanie Ewbanks reads the female POVs (I googled it - she is not Siri), but true story: I was driving to a meeting at a building I hadn't been to before when I first started listening to this audiobook, so I had my GPS turned on. The first time Ms. Ewbanks took over the narration, I seriously thought that my GPS lady got bored and started to randomly narrate the book. (I googled the GPS lady too - not Ms. Ewbanks.) She improves a little as the story goes on - or I just got used to her - but if you want to know what sex scenes sound like when read to you by a Siri-esque voice, now's your chance! (I didn't, so I skipped over them. Even when Lawlor was reading them. Narrators reading sex scenes are just painful.) Patrick Lawlor did a much better job of getting into the material and bringing life and warmth to the story. Unfortunately - as happens too often with dual narrators - the narrators are clearly not in the studio together when they recorded their parts, so Lawlor still has to do female voices and Siri still has to do male voices and I have no idea why you would pay for two narrators and then split up the reading this way. Stop doing this to your listeners!

 

Sadly, even the best narrators couldn't have saved this book. This has three - count them - one, two, THREE - romances crammed into one long-ass boring romance novel with an attempt at an intriguing suspense subplot to thread it all together. It just doesn't work. Rating them from blandest to most promising, the romances are these:

 

3 - Charles, Cybelle, Joe - Love triangle. Bored now. Love triangle set during WW II? UGHHHH! At least it's not set in Pearl Harbor? Seriously, it's WW II and that's the best the author could think to do with these characters? STAHP. The only good thing about this part of the story is that Charles and Joe stay friends.

 

2 - Kelly and Tom - The old "girl kisses boy, boy freaks out and enlists in the Navy, boy and girl don't see each other for 16 years and in all that time they clearly barely even change since they're right back where they left off as soon as they're in the same room again" story. Yeah, nothing new here either. I did like Tom's struggles with his head injury and wondering if he's still capable of leading. I'm just not sure this story actually answers that question. I also liked Kelly's struggles with understanding her father, Charles, and getting closer to him as his health is failing.

 

1 - Mallory and David - The old "geek boy who's really a nice guy (but not a Nice Guy) stalks beautiful girl and gets her" story. Ok, stalking is a little strong. He just makes himself visible, and he's a lot more confident and self-assured than geek boys tend to be in these stories. Mallory's change of heart toward him is gradual, and while it occasionally threatens to veer into boring romance cliche territory, it mostly avoids it.

 

The terrorist stalker subplot is one I've read before also, so again, nothing new here. This was published pre-9/11, so maybe the regulations were a wee bit more relaxed then, but I doubt it. If a bomb threat gets called in, it has to be investigated. End of story. If a building needs to be evacuated in a hurry, pull the fire alarm. The ending was convoluted and eye roll worthy, and the negligence on display here by literally everyone except our protags defies logic. 

 

This series is not off to a good start, but I've seen other reviews mention the books get better after this one, so I'm going to at least give the next one a try.

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review 2017-07-07 02:27
Don’t Look Down ★★☆☆☆
Don't Look Down - Bob Mayer,Jennifer Crusie

This degenerated from silly but cute to just plain old stupid. The plot is an unnecessarily convoluted and nonsensical plot that somehow injects

terrorists and mobsters and FBI and CIA and money laundering and stolen ancient artifacts

(spoiler show)

into a Romance. Maybe it’s being purposefully meta, since that’s apparently what’s happened to the hot mess of a movie that our heroine has been hired to finish.

 

This heroine and her hero, ugh. She knows the guy for all of three days, and hasn’t even slept with him, thinks he doesn’t even have any romantic or sexual interest in her at all, but she’s considering moving herself and her family from NY & LA, respectively, to a swamp in Florida so he can be a part of her life. Then she just literally walks into a swamp in the dark in hopes of finding him so she can have sex with him. And she does! And they do! And it’s awesome! No bugs or anything.

 

I think it was at this point that I got so frustrated with this story, and cared so little about the characters or what happened to them, that it took real willpower to power on to the end rather than DNFing. I got through it by cheering on the alligator.

 

Hardcover version. I read this for the 2017 Booklikes-opoly square Cars Land 18: Read a book that was published in 2006, 2011, 2013, or 2014, the years of Cars and its sequels, or that has a car on the cover. This book was published in 2006.

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review 2017-06-30 05:00
Dragon In Blood
Dragon in the Blood (Vale of Stars Book 2) - Juliette Cross

Title:  Dragon in Blood

Author:  Juliette Cross

Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services LLC

Services"  Vale of Stars # 2

Reviewed By:  Arlena Dean

Rating:  Five

Review:

 

"Dragon in Blood" by Juliette Cross

 

My Thoughts....

 

I enjoyed this second series of the Vale of Stars #2.  It was lovely fantasy romantic read featuring Valla Moonring and Conn Rowanflame where you will get a wonderful adventurous 'Dragon' read.  With them both being so stubborned it will be of most interest in how this author gets them together.  The way the story reads it's like getting two stories in one as the reader is presented in more than one POV. There was a lots of characters old and even some new ones bringing on a well developed and well portrayed read as the readers learns more about this  'intelligence gathering mission, Blood King and his followers, the Larkosians, the kidnapped women and learning what the 'prophecy' really means.  Many of these characters will have some very 'unique talents' that will definitely keep your attention as one reads through this story.  I will say I enjoyed the game called 'Truth or Lie' and I definitely plan on playing game! This author really know to tell a story with such heart felt details that the reader will not want to put down the story until the very end and will leave you wanting more.

 

I know this is a standalone read however, to fully understand it all  I would definitely recommend you read the first story 'Dragon Heartstrings' to get the a little bit more in the 'Vale Star fantasy series.

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review 2017-06-25 23:21
Camino Island ★★☆☆☆
Camino Island: A Novel - John Grisham

Deadly dull stuff. I couldn’t bring myself to care about any of the characters, and the main character’s moral rationalizing was frankly laughable. I’m not sure why the author even bothered telling us about any of the criminals who pulled off the heist. The plot was… well, I couldn’t bring myself to care how it ended, if the criminals were caught, if the university got their manuscript back, or if the writer and the bookseller reconciled their relationship.

 

I think the only reason I even finished this book is that I was listening to it while on a long road trip and the book was marginally more interesting than just looking at 200 miles worth of grass and trees and cows, although the occasional horse pasture was distraction enough for me to have to rewind.

 

Audiobook, borrowed from my public library. January LaVoy provided a very good performance, considering the material she had to work with.

 

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6/23/17 – 3%

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