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review 2018-04-23 11:35
I had high hopes...
To Woo A Warrior - Jane Cousins

But I was out after the female protag was described by a friend to herself:

"on you the colour only makes your skin look creamier and those darn clear grey eyes of yours glow. Seriously, big deal, that you're six foot six, you have a supermodel pout and hair the colour of fire-lit rubies."

 

Fire-lit rubies? Seriously???

 

I am out of here.

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review 2018-04-20 19:29
Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Warrior's Apprentice - Lois McMaster Bujold

This is an enjoyable science fiction caper. As a rule I don’t like sci-fi, so if it sounds like the sort of book that will push the right buttons for you, you should expect to like it better. Warrior’s Apprentice seemed like a good choice for me because its focus is on the characters rather than the technology, and it’s better-written than a lot of genre fiction. As these books tend to go, it is mostly lighthearted – with a plot driven by the protagonist’s prowess at social engineering, with which he digs himself deeper and deeper into a hole – but there’s war involved so there’s also some death and gruesomeness.

At age 17, Miles Vorkosigan flunks the imperial officer exam in a disability-related accident. But he soon finds a new adventure when he picks up a couple of desperate men in need of work, and a dated spaceship providing exactly the kind of work they need. The small crew tangles with a mercenary army and things escalate from there. It’s a fun and fast-moving adventure, with reasonably well-defined characters. Miles fits a lot of sci-fi and fantasy stereotypes: the boy who’s a native military genius; the physically disadvantaged, snarky guy who runs mental circles around everyone else; you’ve all seen this before. I think he’s a good example of the type though, perhaps because Bujold is writing less from her id than other authors with similar protagonists. Miles was born with his disadvantages, but he also has a lot of advantages, and the book doesn’t try to engineer sympathy for his circumstances in place of making him a sympathetic character. Some authors will have a character treated absurdly badly for no fault of his own and use that to justify anything, in place of giving the character a moral compass; Bujold doesn’t take that shortcut. Miles is also more explicitly defined as a disabled character than I’ve seen in spec fic before.

Overall, this was fun but I wasn’t over the moon about it, likely in part because this simply isn’t my genre of choice. I might read the sequel someday, though it’s hard to tell which book in this complicated series picks up where this one leaves off.

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review 2018-03-21 16:03
To Tame a Highland Warrior by Karen Marie Moning
To Tame a Highland Warrior - Karen Marie Moning

At fourteen he found his father crouched over his mother's battered, bloody body...That same night, his home and his clan were attacked by an enemy clan and Gavrael Roderick Icarus McIllioch sold his soul to Odin in exchange for the strength he needed to save his home, becoming a legend, a Berserker.

Not wanting to have anything more to do with his name, especially the madness his father professed coursed through the veins of their clan—the madness that surely made his father kill his wife—Gavrael became Grimm Roderick, spending the next fifteen years in the employ of the king, trying desperately to forget his legacy...And the beast inside him.

Then a missive comes from an old friend, calling upon the vow Grimm had made when he was sixteen. To protect the girl who found him, covered in mud, hiding in the woods. "Come for Jillian", the missive says and nothing could stop Grimm from racing to the side of the girl who's turned into the only woman he's ever loved. The only woman he could never have...imm from racing to the side of the girl who's turned into the only woman he's ever loved. The only woman he could never have...


This is one of my favorite books in this Highlander. It has it all, a legendary warrior, secrets in the past, determined enemies, and a pair of star-crossed lovers caught in the midst of inner and outer turmoil as they navigate their epic romance.

This book stars Grimm Roderick, Hawk's best friend and captain of the guards and the wish upon a fallen star Adrienne made at the end of the previous book. Because that wish came true. ;)
I loved Grim to bits. What's there not to love about an obtuse man so utterly and completely in love with a woman that it's made him stupid. So stupid in fact, he tries to push her away for almost half the book and almost accomplishes his goal in the second half. Yes, he was an idiot, a jerk and as ass, but at least he had a reasonably good excuse for his behavior (a wrong one, but he didn't know that until almost the end).
So he hurt the woman he loved, and, bless her heart, she endured. Lucky for all of us, Jillian was too stubborn for her own good and once she realized the truth about how the man truly felt for her, she dug in, and refused to be defeated.

I just loved these two together, how they changed from the aloof, poised individuals they were separately, into bratty, sometimes childish, and rather stupid couple that was the epitome of the saying "if he teases you, he likes you". There was a lot of metaphorical hair pulling involved, but once they crossed the proverbial line in the sand, their feelings, their connection was almost palpable.

But because this is a romance and the story isn't short, there were quite a few hurdles to overcome before the requisite HEA, but instead of the story feeling stretched out and overblown (like Beyond the Highland Mist for example), the reader (at least this reader) was so "involved", having come to know the characters, what drove them, what drove the conflict, and having seen what could be, that the pages simply flew as fingers were being crossed that all would end well.

The overall conflict between the McIllioch and McKane clan was also very well done, and rather "realistic" in terms of combating force (compared to the mystical elements involved in the previous book). This conflict wasn't between a human and Fae, but between two Scottish clans, echoing the savagery of the time and the locale in which the story is set.
Though we never got to see a real battle, the "danger" was there.

But what I liked most of all, beside the romance and the main couple, in this book, was the supporting cast, especially Quinn, Grimm and Jillian's friend and the voice of reason in their love story (wonder if he'll ever get a book), and Balder, who made an appearance quite late in the book, but had by far the best lines in the whole story.

Gone were the inconsistencies of the first book, this one was well-written, well-paced, offered a pretty good twist of a bad surprise in the end, and delivered one hell of a romance. I'm still starry-eyed. ;)

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review 2018-03-19 17:04
Basically, sisters suck . . . plus magic~
Daughters Of The Storm - Kim Wilkins

Disclaimer: Reviewing pre-publication paperback ARC/proof copy.

 

This wasn't the right fit for me, but the quality of writing and storytelling was excellent, so I'll try to give some detail so you can figure out if it's a match for your own tastes.

 

This is the story of five sisters as they try to save their father (the king) from a magical curse. Only, being as how they're sisters, they mostly fall prey to rivalries and selfishness and do more harm than good. It wasn't clear from the copy I had, but this looks like the first in a series, which makes a lot more sense. I found it pretty depressing, as it seems to be an excellent argument for sticking to one child per family, and it also delves into the sex lives (and terrible choices) of each sister, and as a general rule I find a person's sexuality to be the least interesting part of them. But, y'know, tastes differ and all that. It's adult fantasy, not really romance, so the scenes don't get excessively explicit or drawn out. Somewhere from 1-3 of the sisters have some level of spiritual/magical powers that get tangled with some potential psychosis, so that part was interesting and has potential. It was a surprisingly fast read considering its size.

 

I'm not terribly knowledgeable when it comes to high fantasy subgenres - this might be considered grimdark? Or crossover literary-fantasy? Not really to my tastes, but the writing was very well done and the storytelling was smooth, if a little slow at the start. It switches perspectives between all five daughters, their stepmother, their stepbrother, and maybe a couple more, I don't really remember, so that does make it hard to get into the story and build attachment to the characters up front. It was a fascinating choice in terms of storytelling and suspense, though, since it really lends itself to exploring the moral ambiguity and deceitfulness of characters. They each portray themselves as sympathetic and make observations on the others, and then you switch POV and get a different look at the same people and actions. So I think this would be an excellent book for the right reader (review: 3/5 for taste, 5/5 for quality), but just not right for me.

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text 2018-02-10 01:00
Reading progress: 8%.
Warrior Angel - Margaret Weis,Lizz Weis

He was sending to Earth on an important mission a benign, simple-souled angel whose halo was more than a little tarnished to watch over a rebellious knight known for his arrogance who already had one foot in the fire.

 

Michael smiled broadly to himself. Matters were proceeding according to  plan.

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