Tag Archives: 7.75 out of 10

Vanguard, by Ann Aguirre

17 Aug

Please be advised: back in 2009, I was Ms Aguirre’s virtual assistant, for about ten months. I was also one of the first beta readers for Razorland, the manuscript that became Enclave, the first novel set in this world.

Despite how much I like Ms Aguirre’s work, I have not reviewed any of the novels in the series, or anything else by her written or published after 2008, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Given that said relationship, as well as my beta reading any of her work, ended about eight years ago, I decided I would review this novel, no matter what. Keep in mind that we are still friendly online.

I was lucky to get an ARC about three weeks ago; I really wanted to publish this review on release day, but…well, you know what happens to plans.

Caveat: there is some violence on the page, as well as violence in most of the characters’ past.

Vanguard, by Ann Aguirre

This story is set in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity is recovering from, basically, a zombie plague. (Except these are not truly zombies.)

If you have not read the Razorland books, you will definitely have questions about what happened before, especially because there are repeated references to past events, by pretty much all characters. You will also have questions because the world is presented with very little background explanation. It’s not hard to extrapolate and come up with your own conclusions as to what brought the world to this point, but if you truly want all the whys and wherefores, you will end up reading the rest of the series.

Which is pretty damned good, so it’s a win-win.

If you are a fan of the Razorland series, you should know that this is not the beginning of a second trilogy; it is not even a direct continuation of the original trilogy. You should also know that Vanguard is told in third person, from three deep points of view. This is Tegan’s story–one I had very much hoped to read since meeting her in the ruins, during the events narrated in Enclave.

Oh, alright; it’s also about Szarok and Morrow, but the best parts are about Tegan.

Here, have a blurb:
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Ghost Hunter, by Jayne Castle

11 Aug

While reading other things, I’m currently indulging in a Jayne Castle’s Harmony series binge, because they are basically enjoyable light reading, and I can listen to them at work.¹

If light paranormal world building and somewhat graphic sex are not your thing, you will want to give these stories a pass.

Ghost Hunter, by Jayne Castle

This is the third full length novel in the series, and it’s again set in the city of Cadence, though both of the main characters hail from Aurora Springs, one of the smaller towns relatively close by.

Setting the story here means that we get a couple of glimpses of Lydia, Emmett and the ever lovable Fuzz, from After Dark and After Glow.

Though, of course, he is not the only dust bunny afoot.

Here’s the meh blurb:
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After Glow, by Jayne Castle

25 Jul

Just over three weeks ago, I finally listened to a book that has been in my shelves for…well, years: After Dark, by Jayne Castle aka Jayne Ann Krentz aka Amanda Quick aka…well, at least a couple more pseudonyms.

And now, I am back, with a review for the second installment of Ms Castle’s Harmony novels! (cue happy noises)

After Glow, by Jayne Castle

As I mentioned in the review of After Dark, this novel is a direct sequel, following the same couple through to their HEA, and resolving a number of questions that were left open after the first book ends.

There is more background on both Lydia and Emmett, as well as some filling in on the history of Harmony since humans first arrived to colonize the planet–and Fuzz, the most adorable dust bunny, continues to be absolutely awesome.

Here’s the blurb:
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Kiss of Steel, by Bec McMaster

23 Jul

KissOfSteelIt’s TBR Challenge time again, and I’m late (like, three months and change late, but who’s counting, right?). July’s theme is “Award Winner or Nominee,” but after last year’s Nazi ‘hero’ dêbacle, I just couldn’t look for a Rita book this year.

On top of which, I’m still struggling to read new stuff.

However, I had read “Tarnished Knight,” the novella that follows this story,  sometime ago, and liked it quite a bit; and Steampunk hits all my “I wanna read it right NOW!” buttons.

So when I saw that I had this in the digital TBR of doom, bought sometime ago (probably during one of those 99¢ deals), of course I had to try it.

Kiss of Steel, by Bec McMaster

Let me begin by saying that I like how Ms McMaster introduces the reader to her world–I love it when authors credit readers with enough smarts to deduce things, instead of explaining everything at the first opportunity. Here, the author lets the characters show us her world, bit by bit, in a very organic way.

Our heroine, Honoria, is a gently reared lady whose circumstances have been drastically, and irrevocably, changed. Six months before the novel starts, her father was murdered, leaving her in charge of her younger sister, Lena, and her much younger brother, Charlie. He also entrusted a number of diaries, containing important information that must be both preserved and hidden, to her keeping. Hiding from the authorities, and other, more sinister interests, the small, nigh destitute family struggles to survive–and hide–in the rookeries of London.

Where Blade rules with an iron and merciless hand. For fifty years, he has kept the aristocracy at bay, biding his time to exact revenge on the creature who made him. And Honoria just may give him the means to do so.

Here, have a blurb:
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“The Warlord Wants Forever” by Kresley Cole

14 Jul

TheWarlordWantsForeverI’m still bouncing between the Immortals After Dark series, and other, semi-random re-reads.

So here I am, with a review of the novella that set up the IAD universe.

A couple of things to know: there’s a lot of explicit, graphic sex for the page count; both main characters are total dicks towards each other, though the male protagonist’s behaviour toward his mate may be especially triggering for some readers (explained in the review, so…here be mild spoilers?).

Oh, and there’s cursing. Proceed at your own risk.

Also, please note: I’m using the original digital release cover.

This novella was originally released in print, a full decade ago, as part of the Playing Easy to Get anthology, with two other stories; one was Sherrilyn Kenyon’s “Turn up the Heat.” The other was a story by Jaid-I-hate-romance-readers-and-will-sue-blogs-and-their-owners-Black, aka Tina-I-married-a-convicted-murderer-and-harasssed-his-victim’s-daughter-Engler.

If you have read this blog before, you already know how I feel about any of my hard earned money making its way to that asshole’s pockets. If you have not, you may start here, and lose a few hours of your life finding out why. The point being: if you must read the anthology, you may want to buy it used, so the aforementioned asshole gets no royalty money from your purchase. Otherwise, this story is available by itself digitally pretty much everywhere ebooks are sold.

All good? Okay, let’s start.

“The Warlord Wants Forever” by Kresley Cole

The protagonists are Myst, a two thousand plus years old Valkyrie, and Nikolai Wroth, a three hundred years old Forbearer Vampire.

If memory serves, I read this story fairly recently, and only after it was released digitally. At any rate, I had already read at least the first two, perhaps even the first three of the IAD full length novels. Obviously, at this point I knew quite a bit about the series’ world, but I think that this story does a really good job of introducing the series and providing background for the characters’ actions and thoughts, while avoiding infodumping all over the place.

As I don’t have the print edition, I don’t know if there was some sort of story-specific blurb somewhere, but here’s one from Fantastic Fiction:¹
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Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night, by Kresley Cole

3 Jul

WickedDeedsonaWinter'sNight originalI’m still having a hard time reading new-to-me stuff, so I’m doing some re-reads to see if I can break the stupid reading slump.

Comfort reads have not quite done the trick, so I went for over-the-top-crazy-addictive-sauce this time: the Immortals After Dark series, by Kresley Cole.

It’s been over seven years since I read A Hunger Like No Other, the first novel in the series, and while I pretty much devoured it in one greedy gulp, it would be almost five years before I read No Rest for the Wicked–as I mentioned in that review, I have issues with the series.

The thing is, once I accepted that the things that bother me are part of the world building, and basically shrugged them off, I pretty much read nothing but Immortals After Dark for a couple of weeks back then.

It seems to be working this time around too.

However…

Reader beware: these books are relentlessly heteronormative; they all involve the dreaded “fated mates” trope, and they all have graphic sex, graphic language, and quite a bit of gore and violence. Also, if you fall for the world and the author’s voice, it’s likely you’ll find yourself reading the whole series (there are sixteen stories out so far, with the next one coming out some time next year).

Proceed at your own risk.

Oh, and, this review? It be long, yo.

Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night, by Kresley Cole

This is the fourth story set in the Immortals After Dark world, all of which overlap in the time line of the series.¹ A reader can consume any of these four stories as stand alones, but she will miss a lot of the world building, and will likely have a lot of questions about incidents mentioned in passing by any number of the many secondary characters. This is not a problem if you like the author’s voice, and if sequel bait is your thing.

The protagonists of Wicked Deeds on a Winter Night are: Bowen MacRieve, yet another member of the Lykae clan, who is introduced in A Hunger Like No Other; and Mariketa, a member of a fairly disreputable coven of witches from New Orleans, whom we meet in No Rest for the Wicked, at the assembly to begin the Talisman’s Hie (imagine the love child of The Amazing Race and Survivor, only with a lot more treachery, and a(n un)healthy dose of violence and gore).

Here, have a blurb:

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Defy Not The Heart, by Johanna Lindsey

9 Sep

Defy Not The Heart - new coverBack in the dark ages (early 80’s), many popular single title romance novels (mainly Avon titles), were translated to Spanish and published in Latin America, within a year of their release in the US.

While there were no Nora Roberts novels anywhere (and, going by what my sister tells me, still aren’t), there were plenty of Catherine Coulter and Johanna Lindsey titles to choose from, right at my neighborhood bookstore. And so, I was exposed, at a fairly young age, to the wonders of the over the top, old skool crazy sauce.

Back then, lacking all that many options, I would re-read those books until they came apart. At one point in the late 90s, I owned all of Ms Lindsey’s backlist, either in translation or the US paperback edition (with the original Fabio covers, thank you very much).

Being one of those people who keep books unless they find them absolutely, irredeemably offensive, I was greatly surprised to find out, a couple of years ago, that I had purged most of my Lindsey books. Which is why, seeing recently that Defy Not The Heart was on sale for a couple of bucks at amazon, I snapped a copy, and read it.

Now you get to see what I think of this novel–almost three decades later.

Defy Not The Heart, by Johanna Lindsey

I don’t know about anyone else, but I sincerely lament the fact that, for the past decade or so, historical romance seems confined to one place, one time period, and one socioeconomic class: the Regency. Back when I started reading romance, we had novels set all over the place–we had Romans in ancient Britain; we had British explorers in Asia and Africa; we had Westerns from the Gold Rush to the Civil War and beyond. These days? I’ll say that over 90% of historical romance published is confined to those nine years, to London, the Season, and balls.

So let us enjoy a something just a tad different.

It is the year of our Lord 1192, and, somewhere in England, our young heroine is in a bit of a pickle. She’s the only heir to a large and rich estate; her father is dead; her overlord is somewhere in the Holy Lands with Richard Lionheart; and she’s still unmarried. In other words, she’s the perfect target for many an unscrupulous baron.

Here, have the original blurb (from Fantastic Fiction):
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