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review 2017-10-22 18:38
Now for the important stuff...
Whiskey and Wry - Rhys Ford

Damien + Sionn - HOT!!! HOT, smexy, adorable, mouthwatering...did I mention HOT!!! I adore these two men, I loved watching their relationship develop. I' only a fan of love at first sight or insta-love if it's done right and for me this was done right. The Attraction between these two men was instantaneous but they didn't act on it and suddenly fall into bed without any preamble. We got to watch as they spend time together, talked, shared coffee, went out, got shot at...you know shared those little day to day things that help to build a relationship.

 

As if Damien & Sionn weren't enough we got some Kane & Miki time not to mention Kane & Sionn's family. I love this bigger than life Irish clan. They are the family that we all should have. Donel is the best father ever and the fact that Brigit has all the men in her life wrapped around her little finger and terrified at the same time is both awe inspiring and laugh out loud funny.

 

Then on top of all these wonderful characters we had a story with a very interesting plot and one scary, screwed in the head assassin stalking Damien and trying to kill pretty much anyone he got his hands on.

 

The first book had me wanting more, this book has me needing more. Did I mention that I think I'm totally smitten with Connor already and we really on ly got a teaser about him. Oh, Ms Ford, you are a devious woman but thankfully I have your other books to help fill the gapuntil more 'Sinner's Gin' arrives...Cole McGinnis here I come.

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review 2017-01-14 22:23
Listening To Dust - Brandon Shire

This was another awesome buddy read with my equally awesome friends Josy, Christelle & Lisa. While this was actually a re-read for me, having read it for the first time almost 2 years ago, it turned out to be no less of an emotional read now than it was then. I definitely stand by my original review.

 

Book Review: Listening to Dust

 

While I loved re-reading this book. I have to admit I was grateful for its brevity and I honestly don't think it's something that I will do again. This is not a cute, light or fluffy story it is heart breaking and I'll be the little puddle of goo over in the corner hugging her teddy and trying to piece herself back together again. Thanks & hugs to my awesome friends for doing this with me. I'll see you in two weeks over at Josy's place for our next buddy read, right? Life After Joe by Harper Fox yes, there will be more tears but ladies I promise the ending is totally worth it.

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review 2016-11-07 13:00
Bullet-Listed Thoughts: Grave Mercy
Grave Mercy - Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy

by Robin LaFevers
Book 1 of His Fair Assassin
Audio book narrated by Erin Moon

 

 

**See Also:  Collective Updates for Grave Mercy



I liked this book more than I expected to like it, and while there is a lot of monotony to be had between certain events, I surprisingly found those quite intriguing and nice anyway.  Being that this book focuses a lot on history and politics of Brittany during the pre-Renaissance era, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it if only because I’m usually bored by books that are heavy with politics.

So, kudos to Ms. Robin LaFevers.  I really loved this book in spite of the political conspiracies and the drawn out history lessons--in fact, these were the things, aside from the characters, that I found most fascinating.

But anyway, as I had let this book sit on my mind for a long time (a very long time), and then subsequently went back and "skim-read" it (via audio book) to refresh my memory before diving into reading what I thought were the last two books in this series (there have since been two more books added to the series), I really don’t have much in the form of a review.  So I decided to just bullet-list my thoughts and then call it a day.

Actually, a lot of these notes and thoughts had been written back in 2014 when I first finished reading this book.  Following, I decided to wait until the last book of the then-trilogy was published before reading the rest.  Time ended up eluding me and I never got around to finishing the last two books until this time in 2016.

Anyway, moving along now...


The Story:
Escaping the brutality of a forced marriage, Ismae finds sanctuary with the convent of St. Mortain who serves the God of Death.  She learns that she is blessed by the God of Death and that all the sisters of this convent serve Mortain as his handmaidens, meant to mete out his wishes as trained agents in the art of Death.

And thus NUN ASSASSINS.

Ismae receives her most important assignment in the high court of Brittany where she comes across deeper intrigues of conspiracies and deadly games of treason.  Her initial assignment is to uncover a possible treasonous plot taking place at court.   Her overall mission is to serve and protect the Duchess.

Oh yea, and she meets a man named Gavriel Duval who, knowing what she has been trained for, is Ismae’s means of remaining at the court to complete her assigned mission.  There’s also romance, but it’s quite subtle and not at all in the way of the actual conflict taking place in the story.

Meanwhile, Ismae slowly learns that maybe there is more to being a handmaiden of St. Mortain than simply killing in his name, and that her teachers at the convent may not always know what the God of Death truly has plans for.


What I liked:

  • Once again, I give kudos to the fact that the book’s political-historical intrigues managed to hook me rather than put me to sleep.   It’s not the fault of fictional politics, it’s really just me.  While I like a bit of history here and there, I’ve never fully been able to care for politics, so books with court conspiracies and political intrigue tend to become boring to me. (I’ve spent my childhood watching old Chinese historical television series that involve court politics; after a while, every treasonous plot just starts to sound the same.)

 

  • This book was a page turner--I hardly noticed this book was 500+ pages and actually yearned for more when it came to an end.  The "re-read" of the audio book had me hooked as well--I found myself unwilling to stop the player long enough to read other books, or even to go to sleep.

 

  • The subtle romance between Ismae and Duval was sweet and nicely developed.  I like that they started off as friendly rivals in the game of their court-related missions, and I like that they were a witty set of Bickering Romance love birds slowly building their chemistry from friendship to lovers as they continuously got on each other’s nerves.  And I like that once they got over their own stubborn prides and agreed to work together, they made a pretty powerful team.

 

  • Ismae is strong, intelligent, and knows her priorities.  When she realizes that she is in way over her head, she takes her self-proclaimed impatient ass back a step so that she can listen and learn and figure out what she needs to understand before she acts.  To be honest, even though it is described that Ismae is often too eager to mete out death and punishment and too impatient to wait for something to happen, I actually found her to be quite sensible in her actions.  And on top of that, romance does not tie her down and she knows what needs to be done first and foremost to best serve the Duchess and her God of Death.

 

  • The writing is beautiful.  Descriptions are vivid.  The historical atmosphere is palpable.

 


What I didn’t like:

  • There isn’t as much action as I would have liked.  Because the book deals more in politics and history and world-building, the amount of fighting and action and even the number of people Ismae has killed in this book seem quite sparse for a book about NUN ASSASSINS.

 

  • This wasn’t the gritty, gory, badass NUN ASSASSIN book I had been expecting.  It’s much better than the other nun assassin book I had read previously, but it’s a lot calmer than I had expected.  In fact, if the whole NUN ASSASSIN thing hadn’t been my first “OMG!  I want this book so badly!” tagline, I might have just read it as a historical with political intrigue and there'd be no capitalization of NUN ASSASSINS to be had.

 

  • As much as I liked the sweet and quiet, friendly bickering chemistry between Ismae and Duval, in an overall romance rating, the love story was actually kind of lukewarm.  In fact, the two seem to mesh well better as friendly partners in crime with a sizzling undertone of attraction and unacknowledged chemistry.



Final Thoughts:
I had decided that was probably time for me to fit in Dark Triumph and Mortal Heart somewhere (this will happen soon)--it has been a very long time since I finished Grave Mercy (see above introductory confession).  I need to be able to, like, read twenty books simultaneously and take about two months worth of vacation to finish my reading list.  Because while I found Grave Mercy to be immensely enjoyable, despite being a genre I don’t normally touch at all, I’ve noted that many reviewers have stated that the next two books are supposedly even more awesome.  And so I really should have made time to finish reading the next two books to join and bask in the glory of having read the His Fair Assassin series.

Anyway...

This is a book I would definitely reread over again, to be totally honest.  And it got me curious enough about the history of Brittany as well as the Duchess Anne to want to do some genuine research.  Of course, so far, I’ve only done a Wiki search...

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/11/bullet-listed-thoughts-grave-mercy.html
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review 2016-09-18 01:18
#CBR8 Book 102: The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman
The Dark Days Club (A Lady Helen Novel) - Alison Goodman

Lady Helen Wrexhall is 18 and nervous about her imminent presentation to the Queen. As her parents died when Helen was young, and there is scandal attached to her mother (she is believed to have been a traitor), Helen and her brother have been raised by their aunt and uncle. She desperately hopes that no one is going to mention the scandal connected to her mother, but can't resist the urge to take her mother's miniature with her to the presentation either, wanting something to remind her of her parents on her big day. Before she has a chance to see the Queen, the infamous Earl of Carlston (rumoured to have murdered his wife), a distant relative of her family, deftly steals the miniature from her, but promises to return it the next day. Helen is also shocked when the Queen not only mentions her mother, but seems to imply that the rumours about her may not all have been true. 

 

When Lord Carlston comes to call the next day, accompanied by Beau Brummel (making Helen's aunt slightly less mortified by the whole thing), he actually flings her mother's miniature at her when no one is watching. Reacting with lighting reflexes she didn't suspect she had, Helen snatches it out of the air before it hits her face and is deeply puzzled by the whole encounter. In the last year, she's noticed herself going through changes. Her hearing is more acute, her eyesight is sharper. Lord Carlston clearly knows something about her mother, and suspects things about Helen too, since he is willing to test her in such odd ways. What connection does a man with such a black reputation have with the deceased Lady Catherine, and what could he possibly want from Helen?

 

Helen's aunt and uncle wants her to have nothing to do with Lord Carlston, and her uncle would prefer it if she denounce her mother entirely and claim publically that Helen is glad that she died when she did. Both of them want Helen to behave demurely and make a good match. That her brother's best friend, the Duke of Selburn, seems taken with her is certainly a good sign. Yet Lord Carlston reveals to Helen that she has rare and unusual gifts, and that she needs to be trained in the use of her powers to help save the country from horrible soul-sucking beings. He shows her a side of London that she never suspected existed and clearly has support in the highest places. Helen begins to sneak out to be trained by the scandalous earl, but just as she is beginning to trust him, a letter from her dead mother is delivered into her hands, making her unsure of whom to trust. Her mother offers her a choice from beyond the grave, Helen could give up her dangerous monster-hunting destiny, but the cost could be higher than she's willing to pay.

 

In an unusual twist on a chosen one story, Helen discovers that she is what is known as a Reclaimer, only one of eight in all of Britain, and the only woman of the bunch. Because her mother was also one, she is a direct descendant, something very unusual, and there are those that believe her existence is a portent for darker things to come. The Reclaimers fight the Deceivers, horrible soul-sucking monsters, that can move from host to host, and look just like ordinary humans when they're not sucking the life force out of their unsuspecting victims. The Reclaimers can see them using special lenses, and Helen is able to see them when holding her mother's miniature portrait against her bare skin. 

 

The Reclaimers are part of what is known as The Dark Days Club, a secret branch of the Home Office, and the reason Helen's mother was considered a traitor is because she wanted to stop her work with them and leave the country. Lord Carlston, who was still young when Lady Catherine and her husband, the Earl of Hayden, died, wants to mentor Lady Helen and teach her how to use her special gifts. When Helen discovers from her mother's letter that the Reclaimers get slowly more and more corrupted by the evil they fight and that they frequently succumb to madness and lose any ability for love or affection, she worries about her future and considers using her mother's amulet to remove her powers once and for all. She is torn between her wish for a normal Regency life, with balls, dress fittings, flirting and a possible future with the Duke of Selburn and a life fighting dark forces, saving lives, making a real difference and spending more time with the enigmatic Earl of Carlston (who she doesn't believe actually murdered his wife, although he's not telling what really happened).

 

There is a lot of things I liked about this book, but it is longer and the story is WAY slower than it needs to be. It is both a positive and a negative that Alison Goodman is clearly a huge Regency nerd and has done meticulous detail into all aspects of the society. Sadly, in what I like to call Diana Gabaldon syndrome, she cannot help but reveal all of said research in often painful and tedious detail. I really did like that there is a lot more attention to the time period than is common, and certainly a lot more than I was expecting from a young adult novel. Yet when it bogs down the plot because I keep having to read about all the mundanities of Helen's existence, I get frustrated. The pacing of the story is especially slow in the first half of the book, and if Narfna hadn't so highly recommended the book, I might have considered giving up on it. 

 

Goodman does a good job with Helen as our heroine, she's intelligent and strong-willed, and despite her uncle's disapproval, opposes him in quiet and small ways. Despite being the daughter, and sister, of an earl, Helen treats her personal maid Darby with kindness and Darby, in return, is fiercely loyal and protective of her mistress. One of the subplots of the book involve the two of them investigating the disappearance of one of the maids of the household. While Helen's uncle is pretty much completely horrible (someone in a review I saw, probably on Goodreads, compared him to Uncle Vernon in Harry Potter, and that's pretty much spot on as descriptions go), her aunt is kind and well-meaning, if worried about public opinion and the family's reputation. Helen's brother Andrew, the current Earl of Hayden is really quite dull and also very worried about Helen and the family's reputation. He cannot understand why she keeps behaving in such a hoydenish fashion and why she seems to end up in Lord Carlston's company, especially when his BFF, the Duke of Selburn seems interested in making her his wife.

 

I find the main conflict in this book intriguing, and wish that it had gotten to the action-packed and supernatural evil fighting parts sooner. I really do appreciate the attention to historical detail, but not when it makes the book at least a third longer than it needs to be. I hope to God that Goodman doesn't continue with the vague love triangle that she has introduced in this book (because I find them tedious in the extreme) and look forward to reading about the continuing adventures of Lady Helen, Darby and the hopefully unfairly maligned Lord Carlston (I refuse to believe that there isn't a good explanation for his wife's disappearance) in future books, in which Lady Helen herself hopefully fights more evil instead of just learning about it. 

 

To anyone interested in the trope of young noblewoman in Regency England fighting evil monsters and trying to juggle suitors, balls and dress fittings, I also highly recommend Colleen Gleason's five books about Victoria Gardella, in the Gardella Vampire Hunters series. I read them all back in 2008-2009 and they are now all available in e-book format. 

 

Judging a book by its cover: I like the understated elegance of this cover. The squiggly font implies history and possibly adventure, and the dark colours add to the atmosphere. The girl in the distance, beautifully attired with her lace parasol, the light through the trees, the lace edging suggesting you are viewing the scene from behind a curtain, it all works for me. The other cover for this book (I think it's the UK edition) is a lot more garish and I really don't like the cover model they have portraying either of the main characters of the book. I much prefer this one.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2016/09/cbr8-book-102-dark-days-club-by-alison.html
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-08-31 13:00
Brief, Final Thoughts: Endsinger
Endsinger - Jay Kristoff

Endsinger

by Jay Kristoff
Book 3 (final) of The Lotus War trilogy

 

**This is the last book in the series.  The summary blurb and review will contain material that gives away pertinent information from previous books.  Continue at your own risk, or skip this review until you've read all books.

 

A TREMBLING EARTH
The flames of civil war sweep across the Shima Imperium.  With their plans to renew the Kazumitsu dynasty foiled, the Lotus Guild unleash their deadliest creation—a mechanical goliath known as the Earthcrusher, intended to unite the shattered Empire under a yoke of fear.  With the Tiger Clan and their puppet Daimyo Hiro in tow, the Guild marches toward a battle for absolute dominion over the Isles.

A BROKEN REBELLION
Yukiko and Buruu are forced to take leadership of the Kagé rebellion, gathering new allies and old friends in an effort to unite the country against the chi-mongers.  But the ghosts of Buruu’s past stand between them and the army they need, and Kin’s betrayal has destroyed all trust among their allies.  When a new foe joins the war tearing the Imperium apart, it will be all the pair can do to muster the strength to fight, let alone win.

A FINAL BATTLE
The traitor Kin walks the halls of Guild power, his destiny only a bloody knife-stroke away.  Hana and Yoshi struggle to find their place in a world now looking to them as heroes.  Secret cabals within the Lotus Guild claw and struggle; one toward darkness, the other toward light.  And as the earth splits asunder, as armies destroy each other for rule over an empire of lifeless ash and the final secret about blood lotus is revealed, the people of Shima will learn one last, horrifying truth.

There is nothing a mother won't do to keep her children by her side.

Nothing.



I'm finally done.  This last concluding book of The Lotus War trilogy was more enjoyable to read than the previous book, Kinslayer, but not by much.  The dramatics just keep rolling in, and I might have skimmed a lot of the last few chapters.

Anyway, I really don't know what else to say about this book, and this series in general, except that I'm kind of relieved I'm done with the trilogy.

It's not a terrible series, but it really just wasn't for me.  Aside from the hot mess that was Kinslayer, I think the rest of the trilogy really just suffered from being a bit over-hyped.  Yes, it's very creative and imaginative.  Kristoff really is quite creative and imaginative.  His writing is excellent if only he didn't get so carried away with words and details to the point of redundancy.  A lot of this book felt like it was quite unnecessary, which made the book feel long just for the sake of being long.

But overall, it could have been a very enjoyable book, minus all the dramatics.  Though I suppose some people go for that--I'm not one of them.

On a side note, there were probably two characters I really liked in this entire story: Hana and Michi.  But both of these girls kind of get cheated in their endings, so I don't know how to feel about that.

The romance felt over-dramatic and I honestly could have done without.  As I'd stated in my review of Kinslayer, I don't even remember there being any declarations of love or deep feelings and emotions being thrown around from Stormdancer, but a lot of the chaos really DID hinge on the fact that our main characters were feeling betrayed by people they had "loved," so I'm just going to blow over that one and move on.

Finally, I feel like if there were going to be big dramatics and gory deaths and stuff like that, then Kaori shouldn't have gotten such an easy end.  She was just plain spiteful and mean throughout all three books, and NOTHING about her past history associated with the shogunate--none of those little flashbacks you get about Kaori's life before she was forced to join the rebels--made me feel any more sympathetic about her reasons for being hateful and mean.

But she gets her Happily Ever After™ while everyone else suffers their losses.

She wasn't responsible for much of the chaos, but she didn't do anything to help.  She was hateful and mean because she was a spoiled brat who didn't get her way.  Period.

As for our main triangle-not-quite-triangle... I didn't care for it.  Moving along, I didn't care for the relationship between Yukiko and Buruu much either.  Yes, it's kind of cool, but their thoughts and dialogue got mushy to the point of cringe-worthy cheese, because who talks like that?  I've only seen dialogue like that in badly written romances.

On the other hand, Hana's relationship with Kaiah was actually kind of cool.  Because they didn't have as much cheese in their dialogues with each other.  Even Yoshi wasn't so bad either.  But I never understood the significance of all his side tangents and how they contributed to this overly long story.

And while we were on the subject of dialogue:  The dialogue spoken by the characters were hard to follow.  One moment we're sounding like a fantasy, with awkwardly poetic sentences that remind me of badly translated Asian phrases.  The next moment we have more modern colloquial speech with the back and forth bantering between characters.

The quality was extremely jarring and made it hard to focus... or even take all the tragic darkness of the events in this book very seriously.

So, okay, I guess I could think of more to say about this book than I'd thought.

And on that note, we're turning the page and moving on.


***

2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Reading Assignment Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge
Mount TBR Challenge
COYER Summer Vacation 2016

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/08/brief-final-thoughts-endsinger.html
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