Tag Archives: reviews

The Hating Game, by Sally Thorne

28 May

…or how I DNFed a book most everyone else seemed to love.

The Hating Game, by Sally Thorne

For months, I heard everyone and their pet poodle praise this book, so I snagged it at some point when it was on sale.

I don’t know how it was that I didn’t realize it’s written in first person present tense–which I do not like. As far as I’m concerned, first person is incredibly difficult to do well, and present tense can be gimmicky. I have enjoyed first person present tense before (Ann Aguirre’s Grimspace books, for example), but it’s very rare.

One of the reasons first person is tricky is that it’s harder to read for the other characters, when you don’t connect with the main character.

I also didn’t realize this is the author’s debut until I looked up the blurb; the writing does not read like a first effort.

The first few pages are smooth and engaging, and I felt myself pulled into the story. Among the pulls is the fact that the story is set is the offices of two ailing publishing houses merged into one, still failing, company.

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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Murder on the Last Frontier, by Cathy Pegau

16 Feb

Some time ago, the inestimable Miss Bates talked about this novel. I made a mental note that it sounded very interesting, so when the opportunity presented itself, in the form of a sale, I snagged it.

Then it languished in the TBR Cordillera of Doom for months, until I realized it fit the theme for SLWendy’s TBR Challenge for February, as I had not read anything by Ms Pegau yet.

I have only one warning for this book: it is not, strictly speaking, genre romance. There is no HEA, or even HFN. It is, however, a well written historical mystery, with romance elements.

Murder on the Last Frontier, by Cathy Pegau

Two things this novel has going for it from the get go: it’s set in the Alaska Territory during the Prohibition, and the heroine is a journalist and suffragette in her mid-twenties.

Charlotte Brody may be single, but she’s not an innocent, cossetted, naÏve little thing–which is crucial to me given what she does. But I’m getting ahead of myself. This is the first in a series (three titles currently out).

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Mr Perfect, by Linda Howard

16 Jan

mrperfectlindahowardAs I have been struggling to read new stuff, even by authors I love (Hold Me, by Courtney Milan, and Eidolon, by Grace Draven, languish still in the digital TBR, to name but two), I’ve indulged in some re-reading of old favorites, in the hope this will kick-start my reading mojo.

I have said often that I am a fan of Ms Howard‘s work,¹ so going back to a novel that I remembered loving to pieces was an easy decision to make. Snappy dialogue, female friendships, off-the-charts sexual tension, funny-as-hell heroine, what’s not to love?

Well…

A lot, actually.

This is one of those times when I realize how truly privileged I am when it comes to what I can shrug off: there is some seriously problematic stuff in this book. It was written close to twenty years ago (published in hardcover in 2000), and it really shows its age in its representation of gender dysphoria. If you identify as transgender/gender fluid/gender questioning, you don’t want to read this novel. I will spoil the hell out of this below, but even that may be triggering, so: take care of yourselves, please.

Other reader warnings: there’s violence on the page, explicit sexual content, and adult language. There are also references to mental, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of a child.

Mr. Perfect, by Linda Howard

Okay, without further ado, because this is going to be rather long, even for me, here’s the blurb from my hardcover copy:
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Dark Desires After Dusk, by Kresley Cole

28 Jul

DarkDesiresAfterDuskIn between attempting to read other things, I’m still re-reading the Immortals After Dark books, so here’s another review for you.

Readers not familiar with the series may want to keep in mind that the world is relentlessly heteronormative; all the pairings involve the ‘fated mate’ trope; plus, there’s quite a bit of cursing and graphic sex, violence and gore.

In this particular installment, the heroine has OCD; I am not overly familiar with this disorder, so I cannot say whether how this is written here is sensitive, informed, accurate, or triggering. (There are spoilers on this in the review.)

Proceed at your own risk.

Dark Desires After Dusk, by Kresley Cole

This is the sixth story in the IAD series, and some of the events in this book overlap what happens in the next title, Kiss of a Demon King. Not coincidentally, these are the stories of The Woede, the two demon brothers introduced in Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night.

The heroine, who I find utterly delightful, is entirely new to the series. And, it turns out, to the Lore as well; one Holly Ashwin, PhD candidate and math professor at Tulane U, and, for her sins, this Accession’s most popular girl.

Here, have a blurb (I hate this blurb–what’s new, right?):
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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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Dreaming of You, by Lisa Kleypas

16 Jul

DreamingOfYouI’m back with another historical romance from Lisa Kleypas–and not just any one of them.

For a rather large number of romance readers, Derek Craven, the hero of Dreaming of You, is up there with Mr Darcy, as far as favorite romantic heroes go. Ergo, the book shows up often on “top 100” romance lists.

I, however, came late to Ms Kleypas’ books; this book had been out ten years, if not twelve, when I finally read it, and I had read a lot of romance during that time (including a number of Ms Kleypas’ later novels) so my opinion has always been…a tad less enthusiastic than the norm, shall we say.

As usual, reader beware: there’s explicit sex and cursing on the page.

Dreaming of You, by Lisa Kleypas

This is the second book in a duology; Derek Craven, our hero, was introduced as a rather important, and quite intriguing, secondary character in Then Came You, published a year earlier.

Our heroine, Miss Sara Fielding, is a little country mouse who just happens to be a well known novelist, and who is visiting London to research her next opus. And let me tell you, this background for the heroine creates all sorts of problems for me.

Here’s the (as always hated) blurb from my copy:
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