Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Shout out to Book Smugglers for this recommendation.  If I spend too much time on their site I sometimes become overwhelmed by the awesome (so many books, so little time) and decide to never read again. But I was lucky enough to hit on Ancillary Sword's release and thus Ancillary Justice's description before my eyes started to glaze at all the pretty covers.

I loved this book.  Loved it, I say.  But I recognize (those of you with lesser intellects) not everyone is going to be entranced by the political and military meditation on what it means to be human.  No, seriously, it has an interesting well constructed plot but no one is going to accuse this book of being too plot driven.  It's a character study with some really kick ass cultural and technical concepts that are deftly explored and fun to think about.

Perfect example, I encouraged, cajoled, forced my daughter (14) to read the book and she dutifully did but at a much slower pace than she reads 80% of the other books she picks up.  When she finished it she told me that it was very cool, which is high praise, and she was glad she had read it and was looking forward to reading the sequel but I noticed she had another book in hand by the next day.

But seriously this book is so good.  I mean really good.  And I don't typically read a lot of sci-fi.  I'm more of a fantasy girl myself.  Get it now.  And be so happy that the sequel is already out and don't cry too hard when you buzz through the second book and realize you, like me, have to wait an entire year or more before the third book comes out......

Science Fiction 2013: 5 out of 5 Presger vivisections.

Friday, October 24, 2014

When You Give a Duke a Diamond by Shana Galen

WTH? So random, I love it.
Wow I really am avoiding Enraptured.  Okay I picked this one up for the silly title.  It all started so well, Strong beautiful woman who has escaped an abusive relationship and is now not afraid to be known as a courtesan.  Rigid, high and mighty duke who needs to loosen up before he can truly find enjoyment in his life, also emotionally abused by his father.

Too many words.  Do you remember Amadeus the movie, when the king or emperor or someone says that Mozart's opera has too many notes.  Well, that's not a really good parallel here but I am using that sentence somewhat facetiously.  Let's see, to put it more intelligently, the bones of good characterization are there, interesting back story, interesting setting (to me at least, English ton and all that) and basically good dialogue.  But it's all words, when it comes to actions, things just seem to happen regardless of how much they each think or talk about what their next action should be, (Duke: "I will protect you no matter what! What!" then she is kidnapped off the grounds of the estate that he has hired a bunch of people to be patrolling.)  Then even with much angsty thinking and talking to friends, the character revelation moments still seem to happen in like a half of a page.  (Heroine: "I am a rock, nothing gets to me.  Except this trunk in the attic which I am now suddenly crying over.")

In the end I DNF, got so close because when I'm trying to review, I feel a responsibility to really give a book the old college try, but this one just wore me down.  Ugh.

Like many books I've been reading lately, the writing itself was fine, just plotting and characterization weren't terrific.

Regency Historical Romance 2012: 2 out of 5 glittering diamonds of the first water. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Season for Desire by Theresa Romain

I know, I know, I'm supposed to be reviewing Enraptured but while the cover is delicious I don't think I liked it that well so I'm leaving it there for your enjoyment while I review a book I liked quite a bit but which has a much less interesting cover.  Well, I suppose the material of her dress is nice but does it have to be almost puce.  (Never thought I'd get a chance to use the color puce in a review, yea!)

Ah, I do digress.  The first paragraph holds a lot of what I liked about this book: "Sunset fell early over the moorlands of northern England, and prudent men abandoned the road to the criminal, the desperate, and the mail coaches."  Clever word choice, a self deprecating tone and of course the most important thing of all, the oxford comma.

Well, actually over the years I have lost a lot of my oxford comma fervor but the book brims with humor and fun characters and witty rejoinders you wish you had thought of yourself.

Giles is an American who is helping his father on a treasure hunt of sorts, Audrina has just been abducted against her will by a suitor and her father blames her, or at least doesn't defend her quite as vociferously as she might like.  Lady Irving is the cantankerous woman of a certain age who pushes people around for their own good, insulting them while she is at it.

At first I was annoyed by the author writing sections in minor characters voices (I'm here for the primary romance, hello!) but then I came to really enjoy it.  They are fun characters and I loved that they were non-traditional voices we don't generally hear.

Terrific regency romp.

Regency Historical Romance 2014: 5 of 5 Vulgar family mottoes.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Officer Says I Do by Jeanette Murray

I'm at my local library with my spawn, encouraging them to do homework instead of read manga while I surreptitiously peruse the romance novels.  And while my standards are particularly low, I grab three books off the shelf.  I am always giving the girls a hard time for checking out too many books at once so I bring these three silly romances over to them and ask which one they think I should NOT check out.  Enraptured had this awesome male torso cover and the fantasy/myth stuff appeals to my fantasy reading children.  The cowboy novel Broken appeals because, well, cowboys.  But they both agree (which never happens) that The Officer Says I Do is the worst cover and probably one of the worst titles they had ever seen and I definitely should not read that one.  I am so amused by this interaction I bring all three home and can't help but start with the cheesiest looking one.

Yes, you guessed it.  I liked it.  I will admit that it's very likely that my expectations were low.  And the basic premise is pretty far fetched but I do have a small soft spot for military romances and neither character was too stupid to live and beyond the slightly shallow characterization (our heroine is chaotic and free spirited, which is represented almost entirely by her breezy multi-hued skirts) this was an enjoyable read.  I would read this author again.  So there children!

Yet again we have proof of the truth of "Don't judge a book by its cover."  Or "Take into account the cover and lower your expectations accordingly and you won't be disappointed."  Whatever.

Contemporary Military Romance 2012: 3.5 of 5 commune living hippies.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Game and The Governess by Kate Noble

The premise was probably never going to work for me so I'm surprised I finished it.

Ned is a devil-may-care lord, he has two friends from the Napoleonic wars who have to work for their livings, and one of them, John Turner has agreed to be his secretary.  After several years John has gotten pretty sick of Ned's airs and lack of awareness of anyone else's needs but his own.  He bets Ned that if he were not an Earl he wouldn't be able to attract any female attention.  Ned believes his naturally sunny disposition is what truly makes him so popular and agrees to trade places with John for two weeks.  If Ned can attract no damsels as a lowly secretary he must pay John 5000 pounds.  If he can attract a ladylove he gets John's family's mill (which is currently shuttered after a fire and various other dratted bad luck).

The details of Ned changing places with John are quite interesting actually, and the writing is very good, but the romantic relationship had a hard time being at all central to the book.  The heroine is the governess and is smart enough to not be messing around with Ned as the secretary.  Eventually they do spend some time together through strange machinations but the consummation feels very forced given who these characters are.  No there is no actual force, just doesn't ring true to their characterization.

That's the heart of the rub, the author is talented enough at characterization to not make them do things that don't make sense, and is true enough to the time period that our heroine would never put herself in a compromising situation with our hero.  Yes, romance novels are unrealistic but the true craft of them, I suppose, is not rubbing our nose in that suspension of reality necessary for a historical romance to unfold.

Anyway, I would try this author again but this book was very meh.

Historical Romance 2014: 2 out of 5 poisoned tarts.