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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-09-17 04:38
Disappointed
The Druid Next Door (Fae Out of Water) (... The Druid Next Door (Fae Out of Water) (Volume 2) - E.J. Russell

Professor Bryce MacLeod has devoted his entire life to environmentalism. But how effective can he be in saving the planet when he can’t even get his surly neighbor to separate his recycling? Former Queen’s Enforcer Mal Kendrick doesn’t think his life could get any worse: he’s been exiled from Faerie with a cursed and useless right hand. When he’s not dodging random fae assassins in the Outer World, he’s going toe-to-toe with his tree-hugging neighbor. And when he discovers that the tree hugger is really a druid, he’s certain the gods have it in for him—after all, there’s always a catch with druids. Then he’s magically shackled to the man and expected to instruct him in Supernatural 101. All right, now things couldn’t possibly get worse. Until a mysterious stranger offers a drunken Mal the chance to gain back all he’s lost—for a price. After Mal accepts, he discovers the real catch: an ancient secret that will change his and Bryce’s life forever. Ah, what the hells. Odds are they won’t survive the week anyway.

Review:

Dear EJ Russell, I quite liked the first book in this series (as evidenced by my review here) which dealt with older of three Fae brothers Alun finding love with David and having some dangerous adventures in the Faery Land. As a result of such adventure, Alun’s middle brother Mal lost the use of his right hand. Faery Queen told him that the curse will disappear if they would be made whole, but the way Mal interpreted this was not too hopeful for him going back to his magical life anytime soon.

So now we see Mal living full time in the human land in the house that David, kind and grateful guy he was bought for him. Mal is also bickering with his new neighbor on a regular basis. Bruce Macleod is very conscious about the environment and Mal being a Fae even in the temporary exile sometimes does things that may seem reasonable to Mal, but annoy Bruce a great deal.

One day after another face to face altercation Bruce accidentally hurts Mal a little and this leads to David and his aunt Cassie appearing in Mal’s house to help him. Well, David appeared at Mal’s house before, but his aunt didn’t.

Surprise! As we know from the first book Cassie is a powerful druid and can recognize other druids. Apparently Bruce is one too and his love for nature was one of the indicators of that. As we also know from the first book Cassie is a woman of action, so acts she does.  She offers Bruce the internship with her (and when I say offers I mean insists that he should take it) AND decides to bond Mal and Bruce together so Mal could give Bruce a crash course in all things magical before he would start learning all things druid .

I want to be very clear here – the bond Cassie imposed on them was not sexual *yet*. To be quite frank I was puzzled as to why the bond was needed in the first place. However as the book proceeded I interpreted the bond to be an artificial and highly irritating plot device needed to make sure the second bond between the characters would happen.

It was just so weird to me. I am usually very hesitant to use the expression “lazy writing”, because I usually start questioning myself right away, thinking my writing skills and knowledge would never be strong enough to have a right to call writing professional’s writing “lazy”.

However, sometimes this is just how I feel and this is one of those times. Let me expand on what I mean by “lazy writing” in this book.  I feel like the writer could not be bothered to write an actual development of the relationship and instead imposed that weird bond on Bruce and Mal which did I am not even sure what it did.

So after Cassy bonded them, they have sex and ended up wanting each other more and more and it became some kind of D/s bond when Mal who never bottomed wanted to bottom and kneel for Bruce all the time and Bruce who never topped wanted to. Okay, I am perfectly happy to read about D/s relationship if it is executed to my satisfaction but both men instead constantly questioned whether what they want is the consequence of the bond or their own desires.  I could not understand how we got from Point A (we find each other hot) to Point B (we cannot live without each other). I could not understand how the relationship was developing?

And while on the publisher’s page the book warns of dubious consent, it is not as if Bruce even wanted to force Mal to do anything. I mean the first two times he did not know that the bond was activated, but then he constantly fights the desire in his mind to give Mal *any* orders, so I could not even read the book as having any true dubcon/ non con scenes that may work for me sometimes. It was just very weird.  

"“Our bond is different. You’ve never used the power voice on me, and trust me, I’d know. Maybe you have to pass your druid O levels before you qualify, or some shite.” “Are you positive? Have you behaved that way before? Begged someone to allow you to blow him? Begged to get fucked? Promised a guy anything? Everything?” Mal wouldn’t meet his eyes, and if that didn’t tell Bryce what he needed to know about consent, then none of Mal’s glib words would hide the truth. “No,” he muttered. “You’re the first.” “A first time for me too.” Bryce was suddenly too hot in the sun, despite the cool breeze on his back. He ripped his hat off and threw it on the grass. “Aren’t we just so fricking special?” “You’ll not convince me you’re a virgin.” “Hardly. But I’ve never—” Why was this so hard to admit? “I’ve never topped anyone before.” Mal’s mouth fell open. “You’re joking. Nobody can aim like that. Not their first time.” Bryce sat down on the grass, facing the slough. “Guess I’m a fucking prodigy.” He let his arms flop over his knees. “What the hell are we doing, Mal? I’m so turned around and irritable this morning, it’s as if my clothes are lined with sandpaper”

 

 

 

Cassy behaved weirdly from the beginning, because guess what? She could have told Mal to tutor Bruce without bonding them and Mal would have done the very same thing. Then after she started all that she lectures them how to mitigate effects of the bond or not mitigate the effects of the bond. It was just bizarre.

Same as in the first book, in this book the men also have to go on the quest in Faerie land and I enjoyed it more than in the first book because the story was more suspenseful and at the end made more sense to me than in the first book. However the storyline was also a major disappointment to me because I felt that it was a a missed opportunity for the men to actually work together and get to know each other better instead of one of them trying to get some information out of Mal and Mal constantly sabotaging himself and lying to Bruce as to what was going on.

I was not mad at Mal, because he did not have much choice, but I was still disappointed. I am not trying to grade the story that was not on page, but let me be very clear that what was on the page did not work for me at all, even if it was well written and as far as I could notice copy editing was pretty good.

Grade: C-

 

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review 2017-03-18 12:45
#Audiobook Review: Trapped by Kevin Hearne
Trapped: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 5 - Hachette Audio UK,Kevin Hearne,Christopher Ragland

Twelve years have past since the last book, and Granuaile has finished her Druidic apprenticeship. Looking for a safe place to bind her to Gaia, the earth, Atticus discovers that Loki is free and the Olympus pantheons are plotting against Atticus. Now the pair, along with best hound friend, Oberon, are trapped between a rock and a hard place unsure who to trust, as they try to find a safe place to tie Granuaile to the earth.

 

Oh I really, really enjoyed Trapped. I love the deepening connections Atticus and Granuaile. The book isn’t about romance, but their love is true and a perfect addition to the overall mythology and storylines. Stories are best when the reader/listener connects with the characters, developing a relationship with them. In this case, I’ve grown to care about Atticus, Granuaile, and Oberon, making their journeys more exciting and emotional. And all three characters have matured so much since the first book. Especially Granuaile, who is now a full Druid. Yet she still has so much awe for the world around her. Having Atticus reconnect and rediscover the wonders of the earth and other planes through Granuaile, in effect allows me the same discoveries and awe-inspiring experiences.

 

I also appreciate and am extremely thankful of the direction the author has taken with the overall story arc. Atticus continues to pay for his crimes when he chose to help Leif seek revenge against Thor instead of walking away and staying neutral. It was one thing to kill Angus Og, who had been hunting him, but to assist in and cause the destruction he did to the Norse pantheon was simply outrageous. And now, over twelve years later, his actions are still causing him problems. Atticus’s introspection over his choices is the perfect blend of regretfulness and acceptance. He understands that he may never make amends and balance the scales, but he will do his best to try. However, it seems that in his effort for atonement, Atticus continues to cause more issues, and the problems he and Granuaile face just keep growing in a trickle-down effect. 

 

Luke Daniels continues to surprise and amaze me with his consistently strong narration. Not only has he mastered the voice for Atticus, Granuaile, and Oberon (which I completely love!), but his wealth of accents for all creatures great and small is astounding! He seems to fit each character’s personality with a slight inflection here and there, or an outrageous accent when called for. He softens his voice for gentler characters, rasps it for deadly ones, booms loudly for thunder gods, and some how works in jovial mirth into others, making each voice utterly unique and memorable. Mr. Daniels is top of his game in Trapped.

 

Trapped is a self-contained, wonderfully written story, but the ending makes it clear that danger is around every corner for Atticus and the gang. The story served to whet my appetite for the future tales as I wonder how Atticus can right his wrongs and save the world without dying. 

 

Story: A

Narration: A+

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review 2017-01-30 13:37
#Audiobook Review: Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne
Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles - Kevin Hearne,Kevin Hearne,Luke Daniels

Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles is just that - two shorter-length stories set in the Iron Druid Chronicles world that are tied to the series, but do not directly impact the overall storyline of the series.

 

The first tale, Kaibab Unbound, takes place shorty before the start of the series. Atticus and his dog companion, Oberon, go north to the Arizona wilderness for some hunting time. However, their trip is cut short when the Kaibab elemental calls to Atticus for assistance, and Atticus must right the wrongs of a trio of witches. 

 

The short story is a glimpse into Atticus's life and duties as the last Druid. It's a self-contained short and good introduction to the series. It was enjoyable for this existing fan of Atticus and Oberon. 

 

Test of Mettle is a bit different because it is shared in the first person POV narration of Atticus’s apprentice, Granuaile. The story takes place concurrently with book 3, Hammered, when Atticus is in Asgard. Granuaile is keeping her promise to Sonora, the desert earth elemental, by ridding the river of an evasive species, when she is attacked by animals under the direction of the goddess of the hunt, Flidais. 

 

Test of Mettle was my favorite of these two tales because it gives a perspective we don’t normally experience. I liked seeing how Granuaile interacted with Oberon since she can't hear him, therefore neither can I. I also enjoyed seeing her survive her trials and get a new perspective of her enjoyment and desire to become a Druid. HOWEVER… there is a dark side to Granuaile as she thinks about a time in the future when she will be able to destroy her stepfather. Eep!

 

While the stories are both narrated by series narrator Luke Daniels, my first notice was that the narration was slightly different. The biggest difference was that Oberon came off a bit rough around the edges - more wild and goofy than I’m used to. I don’t know if it was recorded early on or if the narrator purposely changed slightly. 

 

Since we haven't had a story told from Granuaile's POV, I didn’t have a lot to compare her voice to. Mr. Daniels kept his narrator voice softer and lighter than what he uses for Atticus and therefore, appropriate for this female lead, and there was no confusion who was sharing the tale. 

 

Overall, Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles is a very enjoyable look into the series. The book is like a slice-of-life duology. It’s a good place for newbies to get a feel for the series without too many spoilers, so one could then go back and start the series with the first book. 

 

Rating: B

Narration: B

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text 2017-01-06 16:03
DNF - though it had a lot of potential.
The Druid Gene - Jennifer Foehner Wells The Druid Gene - Jennifer Foehner Wells Truly a case of "me, not the book"- the writing was good, the plot original and interesting (esp. the world building), but I simply couldn't find my way into the story. Might be my mood, my current condition (haven't slept well in a few weeks) or whatever. I might try again at another time, but I am not sure. There are just too many books out there.
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review 2016-10-21 02:17
The Druid (Storytellers Book 1) - Frank Delaney
The Druid - Frank Delaney
I'm reaching into the vault for this week's book. I read the first couple of Storytellers short stories by Frank Delaney when they first came out, a few years ago, and recently realized that I'd lost track of the rest of the series. Which is too bad, for Delaney spins a fine yarn.
 
For those on this side of the pond, Delaney was a writer and broadcaster in Ireland and the UK for more than thirty years. He's somewhat of an expert on James Joyce, and he has been a judge for the Booker Prize. I read his novel Ireland years ago and was charmed by it -- and not only because he named one of his characters Mrs. Cantwell.
 
The Storytellers series was, I think, conceived as a promotional vehicle for his most recent novel, The Last Storyteller (which I have not read). The short stories and the novel came out at about the same time, and the first chapter of the novel is included with The Druid. Which I should probably get around to reviewing now.
 
The story is set in Ireland, and the main character is a fake druid named Lew. The ugly little fellow decides he must marry Elaine, the fairest young girl in the neighborhood -- not because he loves her, but because he's convinced her wealthy father will set them up for a life of ease. Alas, Elaine is already promised to another -- a stranger who is shortly to arrive to collect her. Lew and his one-legged crow have only a few days to figure out how to trick Elaine into marrying him.
 
Delaney's tale is told effortlessly and with a great deal of fun. As you read it, you can almost imagine yourself gathered with your loved ones around the hearth while the Old Storyteller weaves his tale about you all.
 
I need to find the other stories in this series. Highly recommended for those who love a good tale.
Source: www.rursdayreads.com/2016/10/the-druid-storytellers-book-1-frank.html
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