Tag Archives: ARC

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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Spectred Isle, by K. J. Charles

9 Aug

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this novel a few weeks ago, and I had hoped to post the review before its release.

Alas, work, life, RWA, and the world being on fire, mean I’m late.

Reader, beware: if you have issues with paranormal stories, with adult language, or with explicit sex between consenting adults, you may want to skip this one.

Spectred Isle, by K. J. Charles

This is the first title in the Green Men series, which is set in the same universe as The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal; it can, however, be read on its own perfectly well.

The story is set in 1923, in an England still reeling from WWI, at a time where veil between worlds has been damaged almost irreparably, and when most of those who would know what to do, are dead.

Here’s the much-better-than-usual blurb:
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Some Kind of Hero, by Suzanne Brockmann

23 Jul

I have said before that it’s generally hard for me to give up on authors I’ve stopped loving–though I hope I’ve finally learned my lesson there.

On the other hand, there are some authors I still very much like, but whose writing may have shifted in directions that, quite simply, don’t interest me. This was the case a few years ago with Ms Brockmann’s (then) upcoming series: I felt completely meh about the whole “not too distant future” thing.

Then, a couple of years ago. she wrote the first of what is supposed to be a spinoff series from the Troubleshooters and I was somewhat interested.¹

And then…then, this book was announced, and here we are.

Reader beware: adult language, some violence, graphic sex. If any of these bothers you, skip the book. Hell, skip the whole series.

Some Kind of Hero, by Suzanne Brockmann

While this is the 17th full length novel in the very successful Troubleshooters series, it absolutely stands on its own, giving a new reader a good taste of what Ms Brockmann’s writing voice is like: fast paced, with well drawn, three-dimensional characters, and set in the real world, very much right here, right now.

Neither of the main characters have appeared in any of the previous books in the series. And while a couple of the secondary characters have, the story is structured so that there’s no need for extensive backstory of previous events, and what little there is, is integrated organically into the narrative.

Here’s the blurb:
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Catify to Satisfy, by Jackson Galaxy and Kate Benjamin

18 May

This review is for our very own, awesome, Queen Librarian of the Universe, SuperWendy’s TBR Challenge.

The theme for this month is Something Different, and boy, oh boy, this is different.

How different? Well, it’s somewhere between interior design and self-help, neither of which I ever read.

(Spoiler: if you enjoy either of these types of books, or the show, you’ll probably want to skip this review)

Catify to Satisfy, by Jackson Galaxy and Kate Benjamin

A dude at work often gets print ARCs directly from publishers, and every so often he goes around the office, handing them over to people according to what he knows of their interests. This is…a very hit and miss way of giving books away.

Because I rescued two kittens. back in the fall of 2015, he just knew I would love this book, and so he handed it to me, with an admonition to let him know my thoughts.

Seventeen months later…::crickets::

But where are my manners? Here, allow me to introduce you to our characters, via the blurb:
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The Girl Who Knew Too Much, by Amanda Quick

9 May

thegirlwhoknewtoomuch

I received an ARC for this novel sometime in late 2016, and it was one of only two new books I read in the months following my mother’s death.

Although I have not yet written any reviews for them, I own and love all of Ms Quick’s early historical novels (Surrender, Mystique, Ravished, etc). In later years, I had given up on her books, after growing a bit fatigued by some writing tics, and frankly tired of the Arcane Society novels.¹

However, the cover caught my eye, and the blurb makes it clear this novel is not part of a series. Best of all, it’s set in California in the 1930s!

Warning: there are a couple of murders, though not much gore; there’s adult language, and sex on the page. If any of these bother you, avoid this one.

The Girl Who Knew Too Much, by Amanda Quick

I liked many things about this novel, starting with how well the setting is rendered. I felt immersed in the period without awkward lectures or info-dumping. Both of the main characters are complex and three dimensional, and their world is populated by three dimensional, complex people.

The suspense thread is a lot more layered than the blurb would make one think, and the story is told from several characters’ point of view, which allows the reader to believe she knows more than our hero and heroine.
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Death Among the Doilies, by Mollie Cox Bryan

12 Jan

deathamongthedoiliesBack in August of last year, driven by sheer desperation at not having been able to read pretty much anything for months on end, I requested a bunch of ARCs for mysteries, in the hopes that tweaking my reading a bit would help me overcome the horrible, terrible, no good reading slump from hell.

Like so many good plans, it was derailed by life.

Then, in mid-December, I pulled it up on my phone and started it. Almost a month later, and barely 18% in, I’m throwing in the towel. This is the first book by Ms Cox Bryan that I read. Sadly, it will also be the last, as neither the voice, the setting, nor the gimmick worked for me.

Reader, beware: I did not, and will not, finish this book; however, I will rant about what I did manage to read of it, in detail. If you are a fan of this author’s work, you really want to avert your eyes, and go read a glowing review in GoodReads or amazon.

Death Among the Dolies, by Mollie Cox Bryan

Looking over Ms Cox Bryan’s page in fantasticfiction.co.uk, she has a number of books published, and this is the first installment on her second series, the Cora Crafts Mysteries.

Here, have a blurb:
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The Book Club Murders, by Leslie Nagel

7 Jan

bookclubmurdersI confess that, despite knowing better, I was attracted to both the cover and the blurb for this cozy mystery, and was happy to get an ARC some time ago. However, what with one thing and another, it took me a while to get to it.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had a really hard time reading anything new to me, for going on two years now. (Pity me.) Therefore, any novel I manage to read all the way through these days feels remarkable in some way, on that basis alone.

As usual, reader beware: there’s a romance alongside the mystery, but there’s no sex on page, and very little ‘objectionable’ language.

The Book Club Murders, by Leslie Nagel

I didn’t know before I started reading the story, but this is Ms Nagel debut release. It is also the first in a series set in Oakwood, OH.

I confess that, after reading a few chapters, I did suspect that this was either a debut, or perhaps a second book, because some of the elements of the story seem to fit rather awkwardly next to each other–such as the romance between our intrepid leading lady, one Charlotte “Charley” Carpenter, and the cop in charge of solving the improbable murders that, apparently out of the blue, are happening in the very quiet community of Oakwood.

Here’s the blurb:

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