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review 2017-11-29 20:13
Smoke Through the Pines (Night Fires in the Distance, #1.5)
Smoke Through The Pines (Night Fires in the Distance Book 2) - Ruben Moule,Sarah Goodwin,Alan Moore

This novella is set between the first and second books in this series and starts up right where the first book, Night Fires in the Distance, ends. Laura and Cecelia are heading north after the disaster that laid waste to the prairies, hoping to start over. They have no plans, just a grim determination to get away from their former life and the sorrows they left behind there. They eventually decide to try their luck in Minnesota, where the loggers are destroying nature for profit. Where's Treebeard when you need him? *clears throat* Anyway, things don't go as planned and they have yet more troubles to face as winter comes on. And Laura and Cecilia finally get to have some sexy times. <3

This still needs an editor, but other than that, I really enjoyed this. I did see in reviews for the second book, One Nation Afire, that it ends in a cliffie and focuses more on Laura's daughter Rachel, so I'll hold off reading that one until book 3 is out.

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review 2017-11-25 00:58
The Music of the Spheres
The Music of the Spheres - Milton Chase Potter

3.75 stars, rounded up

 

CW: 

Death, depression, cancer (side character)

(spoiler show)

 

I wouldn't classify this as a romance, though there is a love story. It's more about two boys becoming friends and helping each other through some tough times. Well, it's more Adam helping Ryan through some tough times, but they both fulfill something that's missing in the other's life, as Ryan provides Adam with a surrogate family. Their friendship is wonderful and often put a big grin on my face. 

 

It's first-person POV and present tense, which I know some readers may have issues with. I'm not one who cares about that normally, and while it mostly doesn't bother me here, I did find myself often wanting to see Adam's side of things. This was especially the case in the one brief scene we have with Adam's foster father.

The fact that Adam was in one foster home for three years should tell him that his foster parents are dedicated to him, because that's not very common. And his foster father seemed almost desperate to get to know one of Adam's friends and find out more about him. So why exactly was Adam keeping his foster parents at such a distance when he so readily accepted Ryan's family? And also, why did he so quickly go from "I don't like being touched" to initiating hugs with Ryan?

(spoiler show)

It almost felt like there was something else going on there than the brief explanation that we got, so the choice to do this in first-person does limit how much we get to know about Adam. I also wanted Ryan to figure out his feelings for Adam a lot sooner than he did.

 

I was not prepared for the turn this story made at about the halfway mark. It was very emotional and while I hated what happened, it was beautifully written. The writing throughout the story flowed nicely and I liked seeing how these characters cared about each other and how they "adopted" Adam to their family and helped each other when things got rough.

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review 2017-11-22 21:07
The Path of the Eclipse / Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Path of the Eclipse - Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

The willow bends and does not break, but the wind that blows from the west has a name...and that name is Khan--Jenghiz Khan.  It is to the north of ancient China where lies the greatest danger and no one is safe, especially foreigners.The man known to the Chinese people as Shih Ghieh-Man faces the greatest danger.  He is an enigma--a man of strength with no perceivable vices.  To survive the coming storm, he allies himself with the beautiful T'en Chih-Yu, a woman warrior desperate to save her people from the Mongol horde.But the man who offers his help has another, older name-and a terrible secret.  For he is the Count St. Germain...and the greatest gift he can bestow can be bought with blood...or death.

 

This installment of the Saint-Germain chronicles didn’t quite hit the spot for me—it seemed to cover a lot of ground (literally), a lot of tragedy, and did it all without much point. It wouldn’t have taken much to push it into 4 star territory, just a bit more focus. As it stands, this book felt to me very much like two excuses to push Saint-Germain into a Chinese and an Indian woman’s beds, and little else.

I can certainly see why female readers find Saint-Germain a sympathetic character—age doesn’t mean much to him, considering how old he is, so even we older readers can envisage ourselves as possible love interests for this enigmatic vampire. Plus, as the Indian woman, Padmiri, discovers, he is all about female sexual satisfaction. She describes a subsequent lover as willing to get her aroused because he knows that it will benefit him, but her arousal & satisfaction are not truly that man’s focus.

Two enormous, diverse countries are explored in this novel and both got short shrift. When the story begins, Saint-Germain has already been in China for some time, long enough for a university to decide that they would like him to leave. At no point is the reader told why Saint-Germain chose China or what he was trying to accomplish there. India is just a way-station on his travels “home,” and the potential for interesting adventures is hemmed in by the rather histrionic plot in which a young priestess of Kali attempts to capture & use Saint-Germain as a sacrifice to her goddess.

For me, the most engaging and interesting part of the book took place as Saint-Germain and Roger over-winter in a Buddhist monastery and get to know the nine-year-old lama in charge of the lamasery. It is a small section, disappointingly quick to pass.

What should have been a more pressing problem—Saint-Germain is running out of his supply of his native earth—doesn’t get nearly the attention that it should. Especially since he and running water don’t get along and he will need to put to sea to get home. Another irritant (for me), was a series of letters from two Nestorian Christians travelling in China, but who remained completely unexplained. It is not until the very end of the book that the survivor of the pair crosses Saint-Germain’s path and I assume that it is a set-up for another volume.

Still, despite my criticisms, I enjoyed this fluffy little fantasy tale and I will definitely continue on with the series.

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review 2017-11-15 18:24
Allan Quatermain / H. Rider Haggard
Allan Quatermain - Henry Rider Haggard

Allan Quartermain is a sequel to the famous novel King Solomon's Mines. Quatermain has lost his only son and longs to get back into the wilderness. Having persuaded Sir Henry Curtis, Captain John Good, and the Zulu chief Umbopa to accompany him, they set out from the coast of east Africa, this time in search of a white race reputed to live north of Mount Kenya. They survive fierce encounters with Masai warriors, undergo a terrifying subterranean journey, and discover a lost civilization before being caught up in a passionate love-triangle that engulfs the country in a ferocious civil war.

 

I have read Haggard’s She and King Solomon's Mines, and I basically knew what to expect when I began Allan Quatermain. In many ways, AQ is a combination of the other two novels, but not quite as good as either one of them. It’s an adventure fantasy, starring rich Englishmen in deepest darkest Africa. They shoot a lot of animals and incidentally kill off quite a few African servants in the course of their quest. And what are they searching for, you ask? Why an unknown civilization of white people in an area where almost no one has gone before.

When the men find their Lost Civilization, Haggard doubles down on a good thing. Instead of one mysterious white woman ruling the area (as in She), he provides two of them in this novel! And just to show that the love triangle trope is not unique to modern romance literature, both of these queenly personages fall head over heels in love with Allan’s companion, Sir Henry. To say that this causes problems is an understatement. Also similar to She is Allan’s position vis-à-vis Sir Henry, just as Horace Holly played wise, humbler advisor to his young companion Leo.

I adore Haggard’s She, having discovered this portal to fantastical adventure during my high school years. I feel affection for all of his work because of that and it is impossible for me to rate it objectively, but if you are only going to read one of his adventure fantasies, choose She and get to know She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed. Allan is just not quite as much fun.

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review 2017-11-13 12:56
Review For: Consent by Charmaine Pauls
Consent (The Loan Shark Duet) (Volume 2) - Charmaine Pauls

Consent by Charmaine Pauls is Book Two in "The Loan Shark Duet". This continues the story of Valentina and Gabriel. You do have to read the previous book "Dubious" before reading this one to fully enjoy their story.
Consent picks up where Dubious left off. Gabriel is trying to locate Valentian who has up and left with her brother and not thinking to take any money with her. Gabriel plans on things going different than how he was working it before when he get a hold of Valentina again. Valentina is a strong women and has been through a lot to keep herself and her brother Charlie going. But even the strongest women still falls in love and can't stay away from that man.
This book continues the transformation from Gabriel being totally a dark character to a totally different one after finding love with Valentina. The sex scene where hot and loved the secondary characters a little more in this book.
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