Tag Archives: reviews

“Unlocked” by Courtney Milan

28 Aug

UnlockedBona, a fellow TBR Challenge participant, posted a review of this story over a year ago, on her blog. As I mentioned here, her review led me to–finally–reading this story.

Which in turn, leads me to a confession: I do have a few Courtney Milan stories in the digital TBR.

But, I hear you say, aren’t you the one singing Ms Milan’s praises and telling us how wonderful her writing is?

Yes, yes, I am one of the many who do these things–because pretty much everything I’ve read of hers, I’ve liked very well indeed.

However, well before I fell into the dreaded reading slump from hell, almost two years ago (dear dog, shoot me now!), I already had accumulated scarily ginormous TBR mountain ranges (both print and digital), so really, it’s not surprising some of Ms Milan’s stories had gotten lost in the shuffle there.

Be warned: there are people in love and sexytimes in here, so if you don’t care to read about either, you may want to stop reading here. You may also keep in mind that this story deals with the aftermath of bullying.

“Unlocked” by Courtney Milan

This story is set in the same ‘universe’ as the Turner brothers stories, and it’s about a fairly minor secondary character introduced in Unveiled, the first novel.

While this story is definitely shorter than, say, Proof of Seduction or Trade Me, it didn’t read like a novella. By which I mean, despite the lower word count, the pacing and structure of the story allowed me to believe in the characters’ feelings about themselves and each other, and how these changed over time.

Here, have a blurb:

A perpetual wallflower destined for spinsterhood, Lady Elaine Warren is resigned to her position in society. So when Evan Carlton, the powerful, popular Earl of Westfeld, singles her out upon his return to England, she knows what it means. Her former tormenter is up to his old tricks, and she’s his intended victim. This time, though, the earl is going to discover that wallflowers can fight back.

Evan has come to regret his cruel, callow past. At first, he only wants to make up for past wrongs. But when Elaine throws his initial apology in his face, he finds himself wanting more. And this time, what torments him might be love…

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“River of Teeth” by Sarah Gailey

19 Aug

Last year I became aware of Sarah Gailey on twitter (see here and here). Though I haven’t shared them here, I have very much enjoyed her pieces on Tor.com (she wrote a whole series on The Women of Harry Potter, starting with Hermione, and then there’s “In Defense of Villaineses”, and “Do Better: Sexual Violence in SFF”).

Anyway, I finally snagged a copy of “River of Teeth,”  her debut novella, based on something that really almost happened. (Check out The Atavist piece that was the inspiration, or this Wired article for a summary.)

Beware: there’s violence, gore and death on the page. I wouldn’t say it’s lavishly described, but it’s graphic. Oh, and this is not a romance.

“River of Teeth” by Sarah Gailey

This is an alternative history set in the 1890s. In this timeline, H.R.23621 (aka, the Hippo Bill) actually passed, so that hippopotamuses were imported into the US to breed–for meat–in the marshy areas of the Gulf Coast. However, shit happens (doesn’t it always?) and what we have now a body of water where feral hippos roam, a blight on the country and a danger to both the environment and the populace.

Here, have a blurb:
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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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The Lawrence Browne Affair, by Cat Sebastian

3 Aug

A number of people I trust have recommended Ms Sebastian’s work; most recently, Keira Soleore (review here) and Bona Caballero (review, in Spanish, here), have talked about this novel.

To virtually no one’s surprise, I already had it, in ye olde digital TBR of gargantuan proportions, so I finally read it.

Caveats: adult language, a couple of graphic sex scenes, and implicit emotional and physical abuse of children.

The Lawrence Browne Affair, by Cat Sebastian

This is the second title in a trilogy, which is something I managed not to internalize somehow. As most of my lovely readers probably know, I tend to be pretty anal retentive about reading series in order, because I like seeing the evolution of different characters through the various books. This novel, however, can stand perfectly well as a stand alone.

Well, except that once you are done, you want to get your hands on the first novel in a hurry.¹

Here, have a back cover 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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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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