June Reads 2016

Allegiance_SinghJune was a slow reading month for me. I started off with what I think of as waiting room reads The Forgotten Child and A Baby and a Wedding by Lorhainne Eckhart. I picked them because they were free on Amazon, and, frankly, they weren’t particularly memorable. Sitting here, typing this, I can’t really remember what they were about except that it involved an autistic child, a doormat, and what I’ve seen another blogger aptly refer to as an Alpha-hole.  I’m just left with the overall impression that they sucked.

After that, I dived heart first into Allegiance of Honor and loved every moment of it. It was awesome! I could wish we’d Sighs_Robertsspent more time with the wolves, though, because for a book with an ensemble cast, it was definitely cat-centric.  Read my full review:  Allegiance of Honor by Nalini Singh.

Then there was a quick re-read of Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts before I picked up her latest, Bay of Sighs. It was fine. This isn’t shaping up to be my favorite of her trilogies, but it was interesting. Mostly, I think, due to the mermaid. That’s new. The rest of the cast, not to mention the overall plot, is kinda deja vu.

Albion_TampkeFinally, I read Ilka Tampke’s debut novel, Skin, which for some unknown reason was re-titled Daughter of Albion here in the States. Skin, in my opinion, is much more apt. I enjoyed this one immensely and am eagerly awaiting the sequel. Historically speaking, we know what happens, but how do the characters cope with it?  Here’s my full review:  Daughter of Albion by Ilka Tampke.

After I finished it, my reader’s palette was still feeling a little atavistic so, instead of picking up Britt-Marie Was Here like I’d intended, I reached for The Tiger and the Wolf by new-to-me author Adrian Tchaikovsky. So far, it’s good.

What have you been reading?

LibraryReads April 2016

library_reads_logo_websiteLots of good stuff on LibraryReads’ April list. Their favorite is Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Obsession_RobertsPride and Prejudice is on of my favorite books. Normally, I give retellings a wide berth, but, with this author, I’m willing to give this one a go.

Next is this year’s Nora Roberts hardcover, The Obsession. I always read Nora Roberts. Doorway_McGuireSometimes I love and adore them, sometimes they’re just meh, but I always enjoy reading them. Rarely does she write a book I actively dislike.

Lilac_KellyTwo other books on the list perked up my interest: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly and Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire.

Anything on this list you can’t wait to read?

From Page to Screen: Blood Magick

NR_BloodMagick_Covers

Nora Roberts recently announced on her blog that Omnifilm Entertainment has optioned her latest trilogy, The Cousins O’Dwyer, as a television series to called Blood Magick.  It’s very early days yet, but I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for this.

Salvation in Death by J. D. Robb

Not bad, but not all that great, either.  I’m rather disappointed that we didn’t get to Louise’s shower.  You know Trina’s going to be there, slathering all her goop on Dallas.  I was rather looking forward to that.  Also, I think we could use something to shake up Eve and Roarke, their getting rather boring.  They didn’t even have a good fight in this one.  Sure, they fought, but it wasn’t all that major.  There wasn’t even a good sniping match between Eve and Somerset. 

What kind of In Death book is this?  Where’s the snap, crackle, and pop?  Or even the grin, chuckle, and laugh?  There’s now life to this book and its characters with the pretty much sole exception of Father Lopez.  Maybe Ms. Robb/Roberts needs to take a break from this series.  Get a new perspective.  The last few installments have fallen rather flat.

Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

Tribute by Nora Roberts

And I can’t write one for it.  A tribute, that is.  Tribute has none of the magic that makes Ms. Roberts books so wonderful.  And, no, I don’t mean the kind that comes with elvish blood, though maybe there should have been, as that would have provided some interest.

In Cilla, the heroine, we have a washed up child star with lots of issues trying to rehab her grandmother’s old farm house in the Shenandoah Valley.  The grandmother who was one of those unforgettable stars like Gable and Garbo, and who supposedly killed herself in said farm house.  Ford, her hero, writes graphic novels, and lives across the street with his ugly dog.

Folks, the only entertainment comes from that dog, Spock (I picture the Target dog, only worse).  The only parts of the book that drew a chuckle or a smile involved the dog.  Even the male friendship dynamics for which Ms. Roberts is famous for portraying wasn’t there.  Or, to be more precise, lacked entertainment value.  And at no point in this book was I even tempted to cry.

All in all, Tribute was a disappointment to me.  I didn’t hate it, or particularly dislike it, but I didn’t like it, either.  Ambivalence.  I don’t believe I’ve ever felt that about a Nora Roberts read.

Rating:  3 out of 5 stars (average)

The Hollow by Nora Roberts

I liked this second installment in the Sign of 7 Trilogy, though it isn’t as gritty as Blood Brothers.

The problem, I think, is that Ms. Roberts is building up to a huge climax in the final book, The Pagan Stone, and hasn’t given enough attention to its prequels.  Not enough time is spent on Fox and Layla exploring her abilities, or so I thought.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed The Hollow, as I stated above.  I laughed out loud at several points, and was touched (and, admittedly, troubled by the slight ick factor) by the favor asked of Fox by his sister, Sage, and her life partner, Paula.

I don’t think that Nora Roberts could actually write a bad book, with the possible exception of Blue Smoke, which I loathed.  So, by all means, read this book.  I just hope that The Pagan Stone lives up to expectations.

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars.

You Go Girl Moments

In my review of Mary Balogh’s Simply Perfect, I mentioned that her Slightly Dangerous contained one of my favorite “You Go Girl” Moments.  Well, after I typed that, I started remembering others.  These are just a few (listed in no particular order), though I’m sure to think of others.

  • Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh – Christine throws Wulfric’s ubiquitous quizzing glass into a tree.  That thing was irritating, and he wasn’t even raising it at me.  I cheered out loud.
  • Renegade by Diana Palmer – I can never adequately explain why I like her books so much, because I don’t know the answer myself.  Nine times out of ten her heroines are door mats and her heroes second cousin to a Neandertal, but, for some inexplicable reason, I find her novels addicting.  I go through spurts where I read half-a-dozen in a row.  Anyway, I laughed and cheered when Tippy laid into that would-be kidnapper with a castiron skillet.  It was priceless.
  • Enchanted by Nora Roberts – Liam Donovan is an alpha male, frustrating and sexy at the same time.  You know the kind.  You want to knock him upside the head and jump him simultaneously.  Well, he makes one highhanded decision too many, and, in frustration, he asks Rowan if she wants him to beg.  My mouth fell open right along with him when she said yes!
  • Guilty Pleasures by Laura Lee Gurhke – Daphne fell head-over-heels in love with Anthony at first sight.  Or, to be more accurate, she fell in lust, as she realizes later.  After he compromises her, he demands she marry him.  Anthony, you see, is a duke, with all of the arrogance and authority that goes with the title.  I was quite proud of Daphne when she turned him down and pretty much told him to go to the devil.
  • Petals on the River by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss – This is one of my favorite romances by one of my favorite authors.  Shemaine and Gage haven’t been married an entire day when Roxanne Corbin comes upon them at an inappropriate moment while they are bathing in the creek/river.  She rages at them, accusing Gage of murdering his first wife, and threatening to tell everyone in town.  Well, Shemaine, instead of shrinking away from her husband in horror, declares she is cold and tired of listening to Roxanne’s “inane prattle”.  She then kisses him, walks out of the water, and standing naked on the bank asks if he would care to join her back at the cabin where they could continue where they left off before they were so rudely interrupted.  I hooted with glee!
  • The Elusive Flame by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss – I just thought of this one as I typed.  When her late guardian’s nephew breaks into her house intending to kidnap her and carry her off to England, Cerynise locks her baby in a linen closet, extinguishes all of the lamps in the house, and proceeds to wreak havoc on Alistair and his companion.  It was hilarious.

Blood Brothers by Nora Roberts

On one level, this book was very entertaining.  I found myself smiling, and, occasionally, laughing out loud.  However, on the flip side, there is a dark tone.  Appropriate, as you would guess, for a series featuring a demon.

The overall ambiance of Blood Brothers was very well written, much better so than in Morrigan’s Cross, the first book in the Circle Trilogy.  However, unlike the Circle Trilogy (with the exception of Morrigan’s Cross, which was flat as a pancake), the characters weren’t as well developed as I’d hoped they’d be.  Maybe that will come with The Hollow, book two of this trilogy (Sign of 7).  I can only hope.

While I enjoyed Blood Brothers, generally speaking, I was also left with a feeling of dissatisfaction.

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb: Circle and Born

The Circle Trilogy by Nora Roberts

After reading reviews of this new trilogy describing it as a bad imitation of Roberts’ previous Key Trilogy, I was rather lukewarm about it. I liked the Key Trilogy, don’t get me wrong, but I also like some originality.

Anyway, I went to the library, picked them up, went home, opened Morrigan’s Cross, and immediately regretted it. The story went nowhere and the characters, with two exceptions (Davey and Blair) were flat. In short, I was bored.

However, being a big fan of Ms. Roberts, I persevered and moved on to Dance of the Gods. My faith was rewarded. I loved it. The plot moved on at a nice pace, the characters came alive (with the exception of the hero and heroine of Morrigan’s Cross, both of whom remained flat), and I just adored Larkin, our hero, a shape shifter.

The last installment, Valley of Silence, was my favorite. Cian, the hero, and a vampire, was great, and his lady, Moira was wonderful, and, the best part for me, they had dragons!

So, grit your teeth and skim over Morrigan’s Cross to get the gist of the story, then savor Dance of the Gods and Valley of Silence.

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars (Morrigan’s Cross gets only 2)

Born in Death by J.D. Robb

Book 23 in the ongoing saga of Eve Dallas and Roarke, Born in Death has been much anticipated by Robb fans because of one thing, Mavis’s baby. It is worth it. I was laughing with the first page.

This book isn’t as edgy as others in the series, but very satisfying emotionally.

My favorites in the series: Portrait in Death, Reunion in Death, Divided in Death

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Angel’s Fall by Nora Roberts

I know this book came out in July, but it’s taken this long for my name to reach the top of the library request list.

Generally speaking, I found myself liking this book. The heroine, Reece, was very well written. She has a lot of depth. However, I can’t say the same for her man. Brody came off as being rather flat to me. Not enough page time from his perspective, and background info was rather sparse.

The supporting cast was mediocre, except for Joanie. There was a rather one-dimensional secondary romance, though I liked the way that was resolved.

The villain’s actions were very well done, though I thought that he, himself, was flat.

All in all, Angel’s Fall is a good read, though if you want to buy it, wait until it comes out in mass market paperback.

For better examples of Nora Roberts’ romantic suspense try Sacred Sins, Genuine Lies, or even Northern Lights.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars