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text 2017-12-25 16:00
Even More Festive Tasks and Books
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race - Margot Lee Shetterly
I Know I Am, But What Are You? - Samantha Bee
Dime Store Magic - Kelley Armstrong
[(Butterfly Swords)] [By (author) Jeannie Lin] published on (October, 2010) - Jeannie Lin
A Rose for Major Flint (Brides of Waterloo) - Louise Allen
Echoes in Death - J.D. Robb
Emma And The Outlaw - Linda Lael Miller

Square 15 - Newtonmas

Book: Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly (5 stars - HIGHLY RECOMMEND)

 

Task: I am appreciating the alchemy that Arizona Diet Green Tea, apple liqueur from a local vineyard, and Jack Daniels' Honey whiskey has on my spirit while I peruse my dashboard while the holiday dinner is prepped and cooking. No reason for the diet version of the tea other than I like it a little more than the original formula. Next glass I am going to substitute mead for the whiskey.

 

 

Square 12 - Festivus

Book: I Know What I Am, But What Are You? by Samatha Bee (3 stars)

Task: Perform the Airing of Grievances

 

The books chosen for this task all have something in common - hype for the series or author that elevated my expectations, and that in reading these books my expectations were not only met, but plummeted to their death in the most gruesome way. And yet I read these books all the way to the end in desperate hope that they would end better than the 90% of the story. I was wrong to hope.

 

1. Dime Store Magic by Kelly Armstrong

     Weak-ass witches, dumbass villains, and a plot centered on a 13 year old girl's first menses. I should have taken the DNF and just not read for that Halloween bingo square. I don't understand how this author is so popular in the paranormal romance sub-genre - the writing was as weak as the witches.

 

2. Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin

     Aka A Walking Tour of Tang Dynasty China. Horrible first book except that readers get a small taste of the MCs in the second book (which was great! seriously, skip the first book and just start with the second). The only thing the dumbass heroine knew how to do well was runaway. So. Much. Walking.

 

3. A Rose for Major Flint by Louise Allen

    The first two books, written by other authors, were wonderful so I got my hopes up that the final book in the trilogy would send the series out on a high note. It failed miserably. This was basically a Harlequin Presents dressed up in early 19th century clothing. I was very much looking forward to Major Flint's story, but by the end I wished I didn't bother starting the book. I was so bored for most of this book that I would put it down to do household chores. A shallow, self-absorbed, manipulative brat of a heroine that is a dime a dozen in Regency romance. But it's too late as she and Adam have intimate relations and now Adam feels he has to marry the twit. Adam should have left her on the battlefield, honestly. 

 

4. Echoes in Death by JD Robb

    It's at this point in the series (book #44) that I am ready for the series to be done. Just give Eve her captain bars and let her ride the desk until retirement. The ghost writing is so strong in this novel and nobody wants three books worth of damn house renovations. The side characters were out of character (*side-eyes Peabody*). I am also tired of the crimes in the series - seems like the plot lines are ripped from Law & Order: SVU, just raping and brutalizing women and children. Of course the killer is a serial rapist and murder with Mommy issues (well, technically, Auntie issues). 

 

5. Emma and the Outlaw by Linda Lael Miller

    Old skool romance that is just too crazy to make it a "so bad it's good". Originally published in 1991, I read a 2014 reprint that wasn't updated at all. Once the sex starts between Steven and Emma it doesn't stop. EVERY CHAPTER after Steven takes Emma's v-card in a field of daisies has at least one sex scene. Steven really likes Emma's breasts;  so much nipple sucking and licking. Seriously after a while, the sex scenes were just repetitive nonsense. And there is endless threats of rape and one attempted rape of the heroine. But it is the not so subtle racism in this book that made me want to throw my NOOK at the wall. Memo to publishers/authors: before reprinting old romances, revise/update/edit the fuck out some shit that you got away with earlier, for modern readers are going to red flag that shit. Between the racism and the constant verbal rape threats/real sexual assaults by Macon and Fulton on Emma, I started to become sick and couldn't wait for the book to end (I was curious about the killer's identity).

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-12-18 18:05
Zeit der Schatten - Cainsville 2
Cainsville – Zeit der Schatten: Roman (C... Cainsville – Zeit der Schatten: Roman (Cainsville-Serie, Band 2) - Kelley Armstrong,Frauke Meier

€ 10,99 [D] inkl. MwSt. 

 

€ 11,30 [A] |  CHF 15,50* 

(* empf. VK-Preis) 

 

Taschenbuch, BroschurISBN: 978-3-453-31858-8

 

Erschienen: 11.09.2017 

 

 

 

Es sind erst ein paar Wochen vergangen, seit Olivia Taylor-Jones in das schaurig-schöne Örtchen Cainsville gezogen ist, als sie prompt schon in ihren nächsten Fall verwickelt wird. In ihrem Auto findet sie die Leiche einer seit Längerem vermissten jungen Frau, die – zu Olivias Entsetzen – auch noch genauso aussieht wie sie selbst. Um den Mord aufzuklären, braucht Olivia nicht nur all ihre neu entdeckten Fähigkeiten, sondern auch die Hilfe des mysteriösen Anwalts Gabriel Walsh. Ein Mann, den sie eigentlich nie wiedersehen wollte ..

Meine Meinung:

Ich habe ja vor einigen Monaten den 1. Teil dieser Reihe gelesen und wollte nun einfach wissen, wie es mit Olivia Taylor-Jones weiter geht. Freundlicherweise wurde mir auch dieser 2. Teil vom Verlag zu Rezensionszwecken zur Verfügung gestellt. Dies beeinflusst aber in keinster Weise meine Meinung. 

Es geht hier ja wie gesagt um Olivia Taylor-Jones, die im 1. Teil kurz vor ihrer Verlobung erfahren hat, dass sie adoptiert ist und ihre richtigen Eltern gefährliche Serienmörder sind, die noch im Gefängnis ihre Strafe absitzen. Nun ist sie nach Cainsville gezogen und stößt gleich auf eine Leiche in ihrem Auto, die dann auf einmal wieder verschwunden ist. Was das alles auf sich hat, müsst ihr natürlich selbst lesen. 

Leider muss ich aber sagen, dass ich auch dieses Mal wieder Schwierigkeiten mit dem Schreibstil hatte, so dass ich nur ganz schwer in die Geschichte reingefunden habe. Mir war es auch einfach zu ausführlich ausgeführt, es gab einige Längen zu überbrücken, was mein Interesse an der Geschichte sehr geschmälert hat. 

Positiv kann ich anmerken, dass die Geschichte eine mysteriöse Atmosphäre hat, dies hat dann doch für ein wenig Spannung gesorgt.

Alles in allem konnte mich dieser Teil leider nicht so ganz begeistern und überzeugen, so dass das Buch von mir 3,5 Sterne bekommt. 

 
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review 2017-11-15 20:29
The Masked Truth - Kelley Armstrong

I was rather impressed by this book. The writing style is pretty good, and the opening prologue is one of the more impactful ones I've seen in a YA novel. Riley is babysitting for these two parents, when suddenly burglars invade the house and kill them. She ends up going to therapy because she's having anxiety over the incident, and the story goes on from there.

 

There's a lot of deaths in this book.

 

The main part of the story involves a hostage situation. Riley is at a therapy sleepover with several other teenagers, and three kidnappers storm the place, armed with guns. At first it seems like it's just a hostage situation and everything will be okay - Riley happens to be the daughter of a (deceased) cop, and feels she knows how all of this works - but not everything goes to plan, and soon we have a lot of dead kids all over the place.

 

In all the confusion, she manages to escape from the kidnappers with one of the other guys in the therapy group - Max, who turns out to suffer from schizophrenia. The doors and windows are all locked, and their kidnappers now seem intent on killing them all. Before long, everyone starts dropping like flies.

 

That's the first part of the book. The SECOND part, strangely enough, is when Riley and Max escape the building and manage to call 911...and the cops suspect Max for being responsible for the deaths of 7 kids and both adult therapists. A bit odd, in my opinion. I would have thought that the author would focus on other aspects, rather than the reasons why Max was framed for mass-murder.

 

Riley is a strong character in her own right. She was alright. Max, too, is a rather interesting person, and the chapters are indispersed with his personal thoughts. He's constantly second-guessing himself, is struggling with his own mental health (he has to cope without his meds for a few hours, which is pretty bad for him), and has this internal voice in his head which seems to be constantly arguing with him. I don't know much about schizophrenia myself, but I thought it was presented rather well. 

 

It did get a bit annoying after a while, though. I just wanted to see how the plot was going to turn out, and instead the author gave me another huge chapter about Max's thoughts on what had already happened.

 

Also, don't ask me why, but he had this really dumb British stereotype surrounding him. He was saying stuff like "Tally ho!" and "Jolly good" as if he was some posh old-fashioned royal out of the middle of the London in the 80s. Yes, he's British, and half the time Max was joking about his mannerisms, but seriously now?

 

I mean, come on. I'm British. No one talks like that anymore. Even the goddamn Queen doesn't talk like that, least of all teenagers! Does the author really not know how to write an English character without resorting to really awkward stereotypes?

 

I wouldn't call it racist or anything - British stereotypes aren't really that insulting (I can't tell you how often someone tries to ask if I drink English tea, and ironically I've never drunk tea). But it looks a bit embarrassing.

 

Here's my other gripe about the book. Loads of teenagers die in the first half of the book, mainly because the gunmen have shot them in some evil or sadistic fashion. It's all very scary and edgy.

 

Or at least it would be, if I actually knew any of these characters for more than a chapter beforehand. Seriously. I was barely introduced to them. The first person dies just a few chapters in, not long after the prologue where a similar thing happened. It was just really jarring and I found it hard to care at times.

 

At one point, one of the other girls gets close to Riley and tells her how brave she is and that she's a hero for keeping everyone together...a character who had said almost nothing up to this point. I was rolling my eyes so hard at her, and, sure enough, she gets shot less than a chapter later.

 

I get what the author is trying to go for here, but could you at least give us a chance to know some of these characters beforehand?? They know each other's names. This is a therapy sleepover, for crying out loud! I wanted to know their backgrounds about their therapy! It was done really well in other books, but here...we just didn't know anything about them! At least, not until the last minute, once it was too late. I had trouble remembering the names of the therapists.

 

Instead, these mentally ill kids are just treated like fodder to be killed off by the gunmen. I guess the author was in a hurry to kill them all off, so she didn't bother to give us much background about them. Oh, and there's a gay kid too. He got sent to therapy by his homophobic dad, and he dies too.

 

Once I got to the end of the book, however, there were quite a few interesting plot twists. Namely about how this wasn't a hostage situation at all, and a lot of things were planned at the start. I expected that all this would tie back to the couple who were murdered in the prologue, and naturally it did. A few nice surprises were in store, and then a few more people die before we really get to know them, and...

 

...oh yeah, and the forced romance. Riley and Max have known each other a day. One. Day. Even Riley herself acknowledges this. I just skimmed over the kisses.

 

Overall, this turned to be very enjoyable, especially towards the end. I probably wouldn't read it again, though. All those plot twists lose their effect after the first time. It was good to see some coverage of mental illness, but the way that loads of characters simply get killed before we've got the chance to know them was a significant flaw in the reading. If you're going to kill seven teenagers, at least make us care about them first.

 

 

 

 

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review 2017-11-02 16:32
"City of the Lost - Casey Duncan #1" by Kelley Armstrong
The City of the Lost - Kelley Armstrong

I'm a fan of Kelly Armstrong's thrillers.  When she sets the supernatural aside it seems to me that her writing gets grittier and darker and her strong women become more complex. In her Nadia Stafford series, the female lead was an ex-cop turned assassin for hire.  In "City of the Lost" the twenty-something female lead is a homicide detective who shot and killed her former boyfriend when she was eighteen. I love the way Kelley Armstrong navigates the moral fog that this produces and gets beneath the skin of good people who have done bad things.

 

The premise of "City of the Lost" is one I haven't come across before. Part of the fun of the book is arriving at that premise so I won't share it here beyond saying that it results in our Casey Duncan, our female lead, hunting down a killer in an isolated, primitive environment deep in a vast wilderness of a Canadian forest.

 

The first third of the book is set in a city and yields Casey's backstory, sets her up for the wilderness and shows us the strong, fierce but haunted person she's become. The writing is powerful. The action is intense. The violence and threat are so vivid that they become hard to take. This is first-rate stuff.

 

The second third of the book is set in Casey's new environment and is filled with discovery, the possibility of making a fresh start and the reality of multiple, fairly gruesome murders that need to be solved. The pace is more relaxed but the tension is still there and the novelty of Casey's situation and her reaction to it more than compensated for a slow down in the violence. I particularly like Casey's take on how "a climate of expectation" can put women in male-dominated, frontier-type environments at risk.

 

The third part of the book solves the murder mystery in a reasonably satisfying way and moves forward the relationships between the main characters. For me, it didn't fully deliver on the potential of the first part of the book. The romance parts, although handled well, seemed to be a little too protracted and too fueled by hard to sustain misunderstandings.

 

Overall, I thought this was an intriguing thriller in an original and compelling setting, populated with believable characters. The women are especially well drawn and the impact of abuse and guilt is shown with skill and empathy but without becoming maudlin or didactic.

 

There's a second book in the series. This surprised me as the first book seems to tie everything up but I'm sure Kelley Armstrong will have some original twists to offer so I'll be giving it a try.

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review 2017-11-01 20:25
Bitten / Kelley Armstrong
Bitten - Kelley Armstrong

Elena Michaels is the world’s only female werewolf. And she’s tired of it. Tired of a life spent hiding and protecting, a life where her most important job is hunting down rogue werewolves. Tired of a world that not only accepts the worst in her–her temper, her violence–but requires it. Worst of all, she realizes she’s growing content with that life, with being that person.

So she left the Pack and returned to Toronto where she’s trying to live as a human. When the Pack leader calls asking for her help fighting a sudden uprising, she only agrees because she owes him. Once this is over, she’ll be squared with the Pack and free to live life as a human. Which is what she wants. Really.

 

I read this for the “Werewolves” square of my 2017 Halloween Bingo card.

I keep reminding myself that this is a first book in a series and that I often like later books better, once the author has found their groove. I’m fence sitting with a 3 star rating on this one because I’ve got some issues with it, but I found it interesting enough to finish it, and not just for the sake of my Bingo game!

Elena, the main character, drove me crazy. She should actually be a cat of some kind, because no matter where she was, she thought she wanted to be somewhere else. If she was in Toronto, she was thinking she’d be happier in Stonehaven. Then she’s pissed off when she gets summoned to Stonehaven and wants to be back in Toronto. She’s supposedly trying to build an ordinary life for herself with Philip in Toronto, but pretty much immediately is having sex with Clayton when she returns to the werewolf fold. Rinse and repeat the pattern above—whichever man she’s currently with, she wants the other one.

Philip, although we see very little of him (and never from his point of view), haunts the background of most of the book. He’s an unusually patient man, who spent months trying to get to know Elena and who seems to have been stealthily sneaking more ties into their relationship as time passes. What he finds attractive is somewhat of a mystery—he is sleeping with a woman who sneaks out in the middle of the night regularly and doesn’t explain why. She’s slim, of course, from all that nocturnal wolf running and starving herself so as not to display her amazing werewolf appetite, but she admits that she hates clothes shopping and doesn’t concentrate too much on her appearance. She’s secretive, understandably to those of us in the know, but not the slightest bit creative about her excuses for her behaviour and Philip doesn’t seem to have the wherewithal to interrogate her in the way I think a normal lover would.

In the foreground is Clay, who doesn’t care about people at all, just werewolves. He liked Elena, so he made sure to bite her in order to trap her in his world. He’s not the alpha (that would be Jeremy) but he’s still an overbearing a-hole who only listens to Elena when he wants to. Mind you, he has some reasons for that, since she seems to lie to herself quite regularly about what she truly wants and what is realistic for a woman in her situation.

So the ending of this volume was no surprise to me—there was only one way things could resolve, it was just a matter of the path that Armstrong took me on to get there. I know that a lot of my GR friends who like urban fantasy love this series, so I am going to persevere for a book or two more to see if I can get into it. After all, I would love to support a Canadian writer and to read fantasy set in my own country.

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