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Search tags: Part-of-a-series
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review 2019-01-13 20:16
Arrows of the Queen (Heralds of Valdemar #1; Valdemar #1)
Arrows of the Queen - Mercedes Lackey

This is the first book in the Valdemar series and it has a lot going for it, but it falls short of what I expect out of story. The good news is it's not another Tolkien ripoff trying to pass itself off as something original. The bad news is it's the first in a series, and I think even the first book Lackey wrote, and it shows. The other good news is that for a first book, this shows a lot of promise, and I'm willing to go along for the ride and see how Lackey improves as a writer over the course of the series, especially as I'll be reading this is publication order.

 

This book introduces us to the world of Valdemar, so named after its first ever king, and a young Herald by the name of Talia. She's the classic Hero archetype, pulled from the fringes of society from a miserable life to discover that she's something more than she dreamed possible, landing into a world of adventure. Eventually. After she gets trained and goes to school and all that boring stuff. ;) Along the way, she meets several friends, helps with a conspiracy to unseat the Queen, and gets a magical horse. 

 

I like Talia for the most part. She comes across a bit Mary Sue-ish at times, but that appears to be a hazard of the Heralds in general, since they're Chosen by their Companions, who somehow can sense the people who will have all the qualities necessary to be good Heralds: goody-two-shoes with some form of Gift and with hearts of gold no matter how awful their starts in life might have been. In other words, no one from Slytherin is getting onto this team. Not that they're perfect, and that saves Talia from being a true Mary Sue. She has faults and she pays for them, and she struggles to fit in and find her place in the Collegium. Her growth through the book was quite well-done.

 

Of the other characters we get the most page time with, I really liked Skif and Jadus. Skif was a street rat and still has many skills handy for sneaking about - and getting into trouble. Jadus becomes a mentor to Talia, and later to Skif. Elspeth, the queen's heir, is a horror child when we first meet her, and I can just imagine the tough love approach taken to tame her would be frowned upon by some. 

 

The world-building is sprinkled throughout the book and doesn't overwhelm at any point, but I would've liked to see more of the day-to-day goings on of the Collegium, more training sessions, more classes, more equestrian training, anything at all with the Council. The various other side characters also don't get as well developed as the ones I mentioned and are there mostly for support. There's also a lot of head hopping that I'm sure would annoy some readers, though it was never confusing whose head we were in at any point.

 

I also wanted more of the conspiracy.

Since most of the book was from Talia's POV, and she understandably isn't allowed into the inner workings of the kingdom, we miss nearly everything about this conspiracy. If Lackey was going to head hop anyway, I don't see why we couldn't get those scenes with the queen discussing them with her Council. Being left in the dark for this, when it drives so much of the plot, feels like a huge misstep. We don't even find out the name of the people who were arrested.

(spoiler show)
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review 2019-01-07 04:57
Ice Blues (Donald Strachey #3)
Ice Blues - Richard Stevenson

I do love a snarky bastard, and Don Strachey is up there with the best of them. <3 He's not always easy to love - like when he's bemoaning his forced monogamy due to the AIDS crisis - but he keeps Detective Newman and the bad guys on their toes. Even when they think they have him where they want him, he's always one step ahead, if only just. Timmy is way too good for Donald. I honestly don't know why he puts up with half the stunts Don pulls in this one. He has way more patience than I would.

 

The case is kookier than ever, as Don finds himself unexpectedly neck deep in political intrigue, possible dope dealers and millions gone missing - all thanks to some dude he met once at a party. Which really is all the more reason not to go to parties and stay home with a good book, if you ask me. Poor Timmy is put through the wringer in this one, but I think I felt most sorry for the anonymous men and women at Don's call service. You know they gossip about him during their lunch hour! Watching Don scrambling to stay ahead of the game, and the ease with which he lies and schemes and snarks his way through one scene after another was a treat. 

 

There were a bit more typos than I could put up with, especially in the last third of the book where "he" and "be" were constantly mixed up. There was also some punctuation misuse and so on. 

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review 2018-12-31 21:15
This Body Won't Break: Part 1 (The O-Negative Series) by Lea McKee
This Body Won't Break: Part 1 (The O-Neg... This Body Won't Break: Part 1 (The O-Negative Series) - Lea McKee

This Body Won't Break: Part 1 (The O-Negative Series) by Lea McKee is a poignant story about an orphan, Joanna who is almost turning eighteen and ready to leave Zone Three. I gave it four stars because it was easy to read and kept my attention.

 

"The clock above my door has traded in its hands for knives. They cut and slice, shatter the minutes and seconds from existence. Countless days have led me to this point, this day."

 

She and the others who have turned eighteen have been transported to a new location.

 

 

"The entire roof is glass, the pieces angled, allowing the remnants of sunset to soak the room in a glow of fragmented amber light. Like being underwater if the water was on fire."

 

I received a Kindle copy in an Amazon promotion. That did not change my opinion for this review.

 

Link to purchase: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073YK24MW

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review 2018-12-30 21:46
Love Is Heartless (Love Can't #2)
Love Is Heartless - Kim Fielding

This book is kind of sort of a prequel to the first in the series, since it starts long before Love Can't Conquer, but it's about Jeffrey's friend Nevin Ng and his boyfriend Colin, who Nevin mentioned a couple of times in the first book but who we never met. Now we see how they met and slowly fell in love.

 

Oh, so slowly. Nevin's a complex character with many walls built around him after a lifetime spent in foster care and for once, we're given a story that gives a more realistic portrayal of how such a character might fall in love. And it's not over a couple of nights. While Nevin becomes interested in Colin fairly quickly, it takes much longer for trust and love to develop. It also takes a lot of patience on Colin's part.

 

Colin didn't have the lonely life that Nevin did growing up, but he did have to grow up with health issues and the uncertainty of life that can bring. He's always had to be careful, and never had much excitement. So when he meets Nevin, he sees this as his chance to have a wild fling, and hopefully maybe something more if he can keep Nevin from bolting.

 

I'm not sure why, since I really liked Colin and Nevin, but I never really got them as a couple. It's no fault of the book, but they just never quite clicked for me and I can't even point to any one particular thing to explain why their chemistry was off. Maybe it was simply a matter of I'd rather be reading about Jeremy and Qay again. It might be better actually to read this one first, though it would spoil the ending of the first book so I'm not sure I can actually recommend that either. Maybe start this one until they start talking about Thanksgiving dinner, and then go back and read the first one to the end, then come back and finish this one?

 

There's also another quasi-mystery here that doesn't get a lot of focus despite Nevin being a detective - hence why I didn't use the mystery tag - but is sort of bubbling in the background until the very end. 

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review 2018-12-26 02:03
Machine Metal Magic (Mind + Machine #1)
Machine Metal Magic (Mind + Machine #1) - Hanna Dare

I saw this described as Firefly-inspired sci-fi, and while I don't normally read sci-fi, I'm a huge Firefly fan so I had to give this one a try. There is certainly a strong Firefly influence, with a good dose of Skynet from Terminator. Basically, in a dystopic future, the machines have turned against humanity, pushing humans off Earth and out into the universe, where we've made a survival/living for ourselves in a system with moons we can populate and hide from the machines, here called the Singularity.

 

Some factions exist among the survivors wanting to take humans back to the pre-Industrial age. Other people have genetically altered themselves to be able to talk to computers. How that's a genetic ability, I don't know, but *hand wave sci-fi mumbo jumbo*. There's a big clash between these two groups. 

 

It's in this future that we find the crew of the Serenity...er, I mean, the Wayward Prince. I think this was a little too much like Firefly, but without the character building of the "side" characters that I would have expected. We know their names, what they do on the ship (kind of) and maybe one personality thing about them, but other than that, I really only got a clear picture of the captain, Sebastian Garcia and of Mags, the Mal and Zoe of the crew. 

 

As for the MCs, we've got Rylan, the newest member of the crew and his kind-of-but-not-really hostage Jaime Bashir, who joins the crew on a temporary basis. Jaime's a "wizard" and can talk to computers directly. Rylan has some secrets, and that's really all I can say about that. Oh, and he has an artificial arm with computer components and he's not that keen on the idea of someone being around who can manipulate his arm besides him. While their first encounter wasn't ideal, they quickly become allies and friends.

 

This was a lot of fun, and the world building was more or less handled well, not too info-dumpy but sprinkled throughout as needed. Once the action starts, it doesn't really stop, but it doesn't really get going until the last quarter of the book when we find out more about what Rylan's actually up to. The characters are all lovable, as much as we know about them - but then I'm basing that mostly on Firefly as, again, we didn't get to spend a lot of time with many of them.

 

And that's the main issue I had here. As much fun as this was, it really needed to be longer, to take some more time than it does between the action to show us who all these multiple characters are and why we should care about them. But this is the first in a series, and as an intro, it does a decent job of setting the board. Hopefully, we'll see more character development for everyone in future books.

 

The editing is mostly good, but there are missing words throughout, pretty critical ones too. 

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