Linda78

The Lawrence Browne Affair (The Turner Series #2) (Audiobook)

The Lawrence Browne Affair - Cat Sebastian

Story: 4

Narration: 5

Overall: 4.5

 

This was even better than the first. I loved Lawrence, and Georgie is surprisingly more likable than I found him in the first book. Not that I found him unlikable. He was just sort of there.

 

So what happens when a career conman has to hide away from his old gang and is sent off to a remote country estate that's depilated from years of neglect and is home of an eccentric, mad earl? Well, you get Belle poking around the Beast's castle, of course. ;) I seriously wouldn't have been surprised if the candlesticks started talking to Georgie in that scene. :D

 

This is the farthest thing from Beauty & the Beast though. Radner suffers what we today would call social anxiety, something I'm very familiar with. Georgie had an unprecedented whim to let a mark off the hook and actually do something nice for a change, and now much find a way to make amends with the grifter boss or face the consequences. He initially considers Radner an easy mark, but of course that all changes.

 

There's even a bit of a mystery involved with Radner's staff, and why exactly rumors of Radner's implausible mad acts are floating over the countryside. Radner himself is recluse and a scientist, obsessed with trying to get his telegraph machine to work and has little care for anything or anyone else. 

 

I really enjoyed seeing how these two brought out the best in each other and accepted each other for what they were. There were no big misunderstandings or drama llamas here. The story unfolded authentically and while the MCs may learn to let go some of their own self-imposed preconceptions about themselves, they're still the same at their core, and this is what drives the story more than anything else. 

 

Gary Furlong agains does a marvelous job with the story. He brings the characters and scenes to life with his voice, and it's just such a pleasant voice to listen to. I even slowed down the playback speed a little so I could listen to him longer. :D

On the Other Hand, Death (Donald Strachey #2)

On the Other Hand, Death - Richard Stevenson

Don Strachey uses his powers of snark and observation to help a pair of old women being targeted for hate crimes. Wrapped up in the mystery are some eccentric neighbors, a shopping mall tycoon, one of Don's old lovers and a gay advocate trying to put together a national gay strike. Part-time helper/part-time foil Detective Bowman, who drops homophobic slurs like they're going out of style (hey, it's the 80s and it's New York) but somehow still manages to do his job and take Don seriously.

 

I thought I had this figured out at one point, but I was so wrong, lol. There are plenty of potential suspects to go around. The snark was off the charts, the characters were fun and well-written, and even Bowman got some ironic chuckles out of me. 

 

Timmy and Don are, well... Don's not the best boyfriend in the world. (These books are NOT romance.) Timmy finally puts his foot down but the conclusion of that was kind of confusing to me. It was left somewhat up in the air. 

 

The formatting is again terrible. There are no page breaks between chapters. It goes into italics for pages or chapters at a time for absolutely no reason, and at one point even switched to a smaller font size. I'm not sure if that's because I got these first few books at Kobo and so they're not Kindle-formated, or if that's just how the books are no matter where you get them from. But it was annoying.

 

Oh, and the author does that thing where he constantly shoehorned the title into the dialogued and text, which is a pet peeve of mine.

The Soldier's Scoundrel (The Turner Series #1) (Audiobook)

The Soldier's Scoundrel - Cat Sebastian

Story: 3.5 stars

Narration: 5 stars

Overall rating: 4.25 stars, rounded down

 

That cover looks like it belongs in a gay Halloween magazine, and it's the main reason I avoided this book for so long, despite everyone telling me that the story hiding beneath that hideously cheesy cover is actually good. And now I can join their number and say that the story is actually really quite good. Brilliant even, and if it were for a couple of my pet peeves that appear here, it would have gotten a higher rating.

 

So let's get the pet peeves out of the way first:

 

~Smexy times after an injury. *sigh* I just went through this with the last book. At least it was more realistic here, being "just" a flesh wound. 

~Gay-okay history. Like many an M/M historical romance, they want all the modern conventions like HEAs but don't want to put up with things like taboos. There is some consideration given to the fact that sodomy was a crime in these days, but that sure didn't stop Jack and Oliver from being reckless at times. But more than that, I would expect more of the side characters to have a more negative reaction to their relationship than they do. Look, people have a hard enough time finding that kind of positive reception in today's world, much less the 1800s. Is it too much to ask for more realistic reactions, even if they would be depressing as hell?

~The term "dating" wasn't coined until 1898 in America. Pretty sure a noblewoman of the early 1800s in London wouldn't be using the term. She would say courting. That one little word really threw me out of the book.

 

Those matters aside, I really enjoyed how Sherlockian this was. Nearly 99% of the mysteries out there involve murder from the get-go - even all those Sherlock knockoffs. But there are just way more mysteries to solve out there than that, and this story has a classic case of stolen letters kept by a married lady from her one-time suitor. 

Why would she have her own letters though? If she mentioned why or how she got them back from her former suitor at some point in the story, I missed it.

(show spoiler)

 

Jack Turner is a rogue, street tough and no-nonsense. He helps women who have no one else to help them (so long as they can afford to pay), and he'll do so by any means necessary, though he does have his limits. He has no time for stuffy aristocrats. Oliver Riverton is the youngest son of an earl just returned from war and desperate for the ordered life of society after the chaos and destruction he witnessed during the war. When he finds out his sister had paid Jack for a job, he's determined to make sure his sister hadn't been taken in by a charlatan. Instead, he gets entangled in Jack's world, in more ways than one.

 

Jack and Oliver are perfectly matched and I enjoyed watching them circle each other as they got to know one another. Lust was pretty immediate, but they don't fall into each other's arms right away. Trust needs to be built, and they need to start seeing each other as people instead of just assumptions based on class, or lack thereof. Jack's determination to keep the upper hand and constantly failing to do so was amusing, and Oliver is just naive enough to be charming but savvy enough to not be annoying, which is not an easy combination to achieve. They've grown up in different worlds that have different laws that govern them, and they actually learn from each other how to see the world in different ways.

 

Gary Furlong, who does the narration, did a fabulous job. He managed to convey the POV switches with ease and kept the MCs voices distinct from each other. I could visualize the story just as easily listening to him as I could have if I'd read it myself. He even managed to make some of the sex scenes fun - though I still thought there were a few too many of those. 

The Last Thing He Needs (Audiobook)

The Last Thing He Needs - J.H. Knight

I wasn't sure what to expect from this one, but it was really good. I admit, if this had been from Bobby's POV, I probably would've had less patience with it and wondered more why he'd risk his job getting involved with a guy like Tommy. Not that I didn't still wonder that, but since this was from Tommy's POV (though it's in the third person) I didn't spend much time mulling over it. 

 

Tommy and Bobby have a great friendship and relationship, and I like that actual months - instead of merely weeks or even just days - pass before they get to the ILUs. Tommy's got a lot on his plate, and grew up in poverty with parents who were addicts. He's responsible for his seven younger brother and sisters, and sometimes that means taking shortcuts to make sure they have necessities like toilet paper and food. But he does have morals and he has lines that he won't cross, and he does his best to make sure his siblings are growing up in as safe an environment as he can provide for them. Bobby coming into his life requires Bobby to open up to someone else, and then rely on and trust him. 

 

I really liked Bobby and his mom Judy, and there was good time spent with the older siblings so I could actually tell them apart from each other. There were some dropped subplots that I expected to see more of but didn't, or at least get a line or two about in the epilogue but didn't. 

 

I do have deduct points for the ridiculous sex scene that takes place after one of the MCs has been pretty seriously injured. Please, authors, stop doing this! I would find it much more romantic if the uninjured MC takes care of the injured MC than if they just go at it like there aren't stitches and pulled muscles and slings to consider. I'm just saying.

 

The narrator for this one is Michael Stellman. He does an adequate job with the text and he's easy to listen to and follow along with. He does a good job emoting too. But, he didn't really differentiate between voices for the various characters enough and it was sometimes difficult to tell who was speaking. I probably would've enjoyed this more if I'd read it on my own.

Brief Cases (The Dresden Files #15.1) (Audiobook)

Brief Cases (Dresden Files) - Jim Butcher

Another fun compilation of short stories and novellas set in the Dresden universe. I finished my read of the currently available books almost three years ago and have been waiting impatiently for Peace Talks ever since, along with everyone else. So I was happy to see this come out to break the dry spell a bit - and also impress upon me the need to do a relisten at some point in the near future. :D

 

A Fistful of Warlocks - 3 stars

 

I spent the first half of this trying to remember who Luccio was. Whoops. She never made much of an impression as a character, so it took me awhile to place her, especially since I heard19th century and got excited that maybe we were getting a story about Ancient Mai. Alas, no. Still, Wild West, Wyatt Earp and Warlocks - what's not to love?

 

Cassandra Campbell narrates this one.

 

B Is For Bigfoot - 4 stars

 

Harry must deal with bullies targeting Bigfoot's kid. Irwin is pathologically pacifist, and Harry's intent on making him understand that he can still stand up for himself. As ever, Butcher takes what should be a fairly straightforward issue and complicates the hell out of it. Plus, it's about time Sasquatch makes an appearance in this world.

 

AAAA Wizardry - 4 stars

 

Harry's again playing mentor, this time to young wizards. Harry shines when he's taking care of kids and teaching others how to be better. The classroom setting is intertwined with a case that Harry worked where things ... wait for it ... went wrong. I know! That never happens to him, right?

 

I Was a Teenage Bigfoot - 3 stars 

 

Irwin's again in trouble, and Harry's sent to help out. This one is fairly straightforward, on the Dresden scale, and we don't get as much interaction with Irwin this time around. And you will NEVER guess the motive for this one. :D

 

Curses - 5 stars

 

I actually never heard of the Billy Goat curse, and the way Butcher comes up to explain it is classic Dresden, whimsical and offers some of the most hilarious moments in this collection. 

 

Even Hand - 3 stars

 

Oh, Gentleman Johnny Marcone. I don't care for him, but he's hardly the worst villain out there. He reminds me a lot of Xanatos from Gargoyles, actually. Unrepentantly evil, but with his own moral code and rules. The best rule being "no kids." So when Justine come to him asking for help protecting a child, well...what's a cold-blooded mafia-type man supposed to do?

 

Jim Butcher narrates this one. And...well...Hermoine would approve his narrative style. His pronunciation is always very proper and precise - and as a result a little on the stilted side. 

 

Bigfoot on Campus - 4 stars

 

Bigfoot Irwin's all grown up and in college and has a girlfriend whose not what she seems. What could go wrong? Harry's got a condition on this one though: Papa Bigfoot has to meet his son, who is more than a little ticked off for being kept on the sidelines his whole life.

 

Bombshells - 4 stars

 

Molly's trying to fill the shoes of Harry after the event in Changes, and she's finding it to be quite an overwhelming task. I've always liked Molly, so was happy to see her POV and get inside her head. She's made some questionable decisions, and seeing how she navigates the world of wizardry as a result of those decisions and what she's learned since was fascinating. Plus, she gets company of Justine and Andi while she tries to figure out how to save Thomas. (I forgot Andi was dating Butters.)

 

Cold Case - 5 stars

 

Two Molly POVs in a row! And this one hurt. Molly's first assignment as the new Winter Maiden pairs her up with Carlos as they go up against monsters Alaska, and it doesn't go anything like she thought it would. Her new "mom" Mab is as cold and vicious as always, and a stark contrast to Charity. Mab's not here for sentimentality. She's here to fight a war. She does offer Molly the opportunity to find a better way to fight that war though, so hopefully that means Molly will be able to do that someday.

 

Julia Whelan narrates both of Molly's stories, and she does a great job.

 

Jury Duty - 4 stars

 

Harry Dresden has been found - by the government! Dun dun DUUUUNNNN! Jury duty happens. Wackiness ensues. Good fun.

 

Day One - 4 stars

 

BUTTERS! I love Butters - and totally forgot he was a Knight now. Whoops. He's called to his first mission as a Knight of the Cross and he does an excellent job of it. Oliver Wylan does the narration on this one and he captures Butters perfectly. 

 

Zoo Day - 5 stars

 

Harry spends his first full day with his 10-year old daughter Maggie and it's adorable. Of course, this is Dresden Files, so it can't just be a nice family outing. There's a lot going on here, and we get to see not just Harry's POV, but Maggie's and Mouse's too. Yes, you saw that right. Mouse gets his own POV here. Maggie's an amazing little kid, and Mouse's POV was charming as hell - in between all the horror, lol. 

Red Dirt Heart 4

Red Dirt Heart 4 - N.R. Walker

Charlie's come a long way in self-acceptance over the last two years and three books. Now we get to see him from Travis's POV and follow their journey into the future as they become a family.

 

There's little conflict here, and really not much a plot beyond will they/won't they actually get married and there's some talk about what Charlie will do with the ranch in the event he can no longer run it. 

 

I would have liked if Travis's POV had actually sounded different from Charlie's, but other than that, it was nice to spend a little more time at Sutton Station and seeing more of Trav's family and see the next stage(s) in their lives. But if I hadn't already invested three books in this series and cared about these characters, I probably would've found this a bit on the boring side. I did find the epilogue cute but not really necessary. I would've been happy for the book to end right before that.

 

So this was fun, cute, very aww-worthy and good for a light read. 

Reeve of Veils (Inheritance #4)

Reeve of Veils (Inheritance) (Volume 4) - Amelia Faulkner

Hmmm, not sure what to make of this one. 

 

First, this goes back to Knight of Flames timeline and gives us Freddy's POV, so there's a lot that's repeated. Pretty much the first and last quarter of the book, in fact, and I ended up skimming the bulk of those parts, looking only for new details. About the only new thing we learn during those parts is that Freddy's a bigger jerk than I originally thought he was. We get confirmation of his powers, which are more extensive than hinted at prior to this.

 

As for the new stuff in the middle, well... Freddy's a jerk and I prefer not to read POVs of jerks. Mikey's somewhat better, but he's been a victim for so long that he (and Freddy) actually deludes himself into believing he's left that behind even as he willingly becomes Freddy's literal plaything. Which brings me to the second thing.

 

Second, there's just no way to see Freddy and Mikey's relationship as anything other than D/s, which is a dynamic I don't enjoy. Just because Freddy thinks he's doing good by Mikey and Mikey's getting out of the ghetto doesn't erase that. Freddy might want to see themselves as equals for whatever reasons he needs to, but they're really not.

 

Plus, Freddy's just not that good of a guy. He's not a complete bastard, but he's barely one sidestep away from Kane - and even that's only until he succeeds in his plan to off dear old daddy, which I assume is the next book, and then he will be exactly like Kane. (Actually, I'd argue that he's worse than Kane, since at least Kane's victims know they're victims. Freddy's don't.) Morals and ethics mean nothing to this guy. Or to Mikey. So I guess they are perfect for each other in that respect, but they're certainly not a couple I'm rooting for or care about, and the insta-love here is just completely unbelievable given that Freddy's practically a sociopath.

 

Ok, I give Freddy credit for not violating Mikey's sexual consent (or so he claims). But since he violates consent in every single other respect with everyone around him, that credit doesn't get him very far. It gets him a crumb. A crumb ground into dust.

 

The good news is you don't actually have to read this book. The last two books made it perfectly plain that Freddy's manipulating Laurence and how, and that he's trying to line up Quentin to kill their dad. So this book ends at pretty much the same point as the previous book, just with a bit more info than we had before. 

 

Two more little nitpicks:

 

Mikey's a drug dealer and a high school dropout who's never been outside San Diego. He's not going to measure distances by kilometers. This same thing happened with Laurence in the last book. We use feet and miles in the USA. There are various conversion charts and calculators available online. This sort of error shouldn't happen, and it pulled me out of the story both times.

 

And lastly, mailbox flags work the exact opposite of how they're used here. When you have outgoing mail, you raise the flag. When the mailman comes, he lowers the flag and leaves the incoming mail. If the flag is up, that means the mail hasn't been delivered yet, not that it has been.

The Valley of Amazement

The Valley of Amazement - Amy Tan

I did something while reading this book that I have never done before: I flipped to the last page to see if it had a happy ending. Because good lord does Violet get put through the ringer.

 

This is often a difficult read, so I'll say upfront: if sexual exploitation makes you squeamish, you may want to skip this book. I'm usually one who wouldn't touch this with a ten-foot pole, but while the tone was unflinching, the details when divulged were detached enough to not affect me too much. Everyone has different tolerance levels and triggers, though, so it's something to consider.

 

This is set in the first half of the 1900s in China in the culture of the courtesan houses. It resembles Memoirs of a Geisha in that respect and it doesn't shy away from how young girls were sold and stolen into this life, but beyond the inner workings of the courtesan houses, this is a much different story with a different focus. 

 

As with all of Tan's work, this story is about the relationship between mothers and daughters, but unlike her other stories, this one is told primarily through Violet's POV. We follow her from a young, conceited girl growing up in her mother's courtesan house - not as a courtesan though, just to be clear on that point. She can only see how things effect her, how her mother is distant and aloof, and how she doesn't feel like she's loved enough. After they're separated by a ne'er-do-well and Violet is sold to another house, she must use her fierceness and determination to survive her new life and come to terms with the many twists and turns that her life makes. 

 

It's not all dire. She has a friend in the courtesan house to help her and protect her as much as possible, and she knows how to navigate this world better than most, though she makes many foolish decisions along the way. There are good moments as well, and Violet learns how to appreciate others, the depths of love and sacrifices that we make for each other along the way, all of which helps her to better understand the choices her own mother had made. But every time she takes a step forward, she's knocked twenty steps back. It's a long hard road, but there is a hopeful ending.

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) (Audiobook) - DNF 17%.

The Way of Kings - Brandon Sanderson

Technically, this is competently written, and the narrators do a decent job with their parts once I sped up the playback to 1.25 times normal speed. But... 

 

I was bored a lot of the time. It got interesting for awhile. I like Kaladan and Shallan, but they don't make up for the clunky world-building or the overall awkward tone of the writing. This reads like an opus to fanfic much of the time, and it's cringe-worthy fanfic at that.

 

And the whole lighteyes/darkeyes thing just feels weird. Like the author wanted to include something about racism, but didn't want to start up a sh*tstorm by doing it badly, so decided that eye color made a good alternative. Maybe he heard about Jane Elliot's blue eyes experiment and figured it was a good stand in. It's not though.

 

If this were only 200 or 300 pages, I might feel compelled to power through to the end, but there are another 800+ pages to this thing, so my patience has run dry. 

Reading progress update: I've read 5%.

A Dance with Dragons - George R.R. Martin

Tyrion! Dany! Jon! Bran! It's like a family reunion, GoT style, complete with arguing villagers, that weird neighbor you all try to avoid and the occasional murder. And you're sure this is roast beef that we're eating, right? :D

Lima Oscar Victor Echo and the Truth About Everything

Lima Oscar Victor Echo and The Truth About Everything - Suki Fleet

I decided to start using my lunch breaks to try to get through some of these DRitC stories I've had sitting on my Kindle for the past two+ years. This was the first one. And might be the last one.

 

It had it's cute moments, don't get me wrong. The few short scenes that Oscar and Jamie actually spend on page together, it was easy to see why they're such good friends, and why they would be great as something more. They just don't get to spend a lot of time together - even though they're best friends and work in the same record store four days out of the week. *shrug*

 

But in the end it didn't really hold my interest. If you've read even a handful of friends-to-lovers or GFY stories (though this isn't GFY but teases at it for most of the story) then you can predict every single step the plot takes from beginning to end. It has ALL the tropes, including but not limited to:

 

~Dudes who don't talk about feelings.
~Dudes who angst about not being able to talk about feelings.
~Dudes who are so terrible with feelings that they're not even sure what feelings they're feeling and they don't know how to feel about that. :(
~The female bestie who likes to meddle. Because someone's gotta move this plot forward.
~The ex-girlfriend who conveniently shows up to throw a wrench in the clockwork, though really the guys not talking to each other does that just fine on its own.

 

If you like those tropes, then you'll enjoy this story a lot more than I did.

 

On top of that, there are several dropped plot lines that really didn't need to be crammed into this novella. There are inconsistencies as well. Jamie and Oscar seem to have been besties since forever, but Oscar never met Jamie's mom even though she only died a year before, and Jamie only met Oscar's dad once. At one point, it's mentioned that Jamie opens the shop - but then later on, he doesn't have the keys to close it. Huh?

 

And then it just ends in the middle of a scene. What?!

Drums of Autumn (Outlander #4) (Audiobook)

Drums of Autumn  - Geraldine James, Diana Gabaldon

As I mentioned in my review for Outlander, I started this series with the fourth book by accident. I was just out of high school, my mom was having health issues and I was the one who was driving her around to her various appointments and spending a lot of time in waiting rooms. So when I saw this book sitting on the new releases shelf in the bookstore, the only thing I cared about what that it looked interesting and it was thick. It would give me hours and hours and hours of reading time. So I got it, started reading, and got to around a quarter of the way through when I realized this was part of an ongoing series. I kept reading though and enjoyed it. It provided exactly what I needed at the time and even got me to go back and read the first three books.

 

Now, twenty plus years later ... this got annoying. It starts off really slow and rambling. All the books in this series ramble, but it gets worse the longer the series goes on. The first three books at least have obvious plots right off the bat. This one takes over 500 pages to get around to it's main conflict, and up till then it's basically just the four main characters doing stuff. I still really enjoy Claire and Jamie's relationship, but I couldn't give two figs about Briana and Roger's courtship, especially when Roger gets all caveman about it. 

 

I was never a fan of Briana, but wow. For someone so smart, she can be really stupid. Roger's kind of a jerk but he's tolerable. Neither one is prepared for 18th century living, despite both of them being history majors. They not only lie to each other about crucial things, but they make one reckless decision after another. How in the world they survived is beyond me. 

 

Actually, the main conflict isn't exactly what I would call contrived. Considering what Bree's been through and that she just barely met her father, her decisions make sense, even if they're illogical. Given what Lizzy thinks she knows, and what she tells Ian and Jamie, their actions also make sense. What doesn't make sense is

Claire not telling Jamie what Briana told her. She could've done that and kept Bonnet's name out of it.

Also, if you're looking for someone, a physical description usually helps.

Also, both Claire and Briana went by different last names when they went through the stones, so it makes zero sense they wouldn't consider Roger doing the same.

Also, Jamie would've killed Roger based on the info Lizzy told him. But of course he couldn't because the reader - and Bree - wouldn't be able to forgive him if he had.

(show spoiler)

The Big Misunderstanding required these characters who are usually extremely good with communication to be really bad at it.  

 

And it's just a little ridiculous that these characters are all encountering the same villain no matter where they are in the world. 

 

But once I got through all that nonsense and the characters all started to act like their intelligent, rational selves again, it got way better. The last third of the book is definitely the strongest.

 

Not enough Lord John though. 

I hate that he sleeps with one of the slaves. It's not on page, but it's implied. I guess I can have a smidgeon of consolation that John wouldn't have forced himself on anyone unwilling, and he's a pretty perceptive fellow, so he could probably tell if someone was just pretending to be willing. But still. Don't sleep with slaves, John.

(show spoiler)

 

Edit: Oh, and I forgot to mention the narration. Davina Porter does her usual stellar job, but she doesn't even attempt an American accent for Briana. I guess she's the UK's answer to Kevin Costner. ;) But since I'd rather listen to a pleasant British accent than a terrible American (much less Bostonian) one, I wasn't bothered by it too much.

Interim Errantry: On Ordeal (Young Wizards)

Interim Errantry: On Ordeal - Diane Duane

Roshaun - 4 stars

 

When we first met Roshaun, he was an obnoxious prince with very little care about anyone around him. Or so he seemed. While he never really changed much, the more we learned about him and the world he comes from, the easier it was to understand him. And it's kind of hard to hate a guy who loves lollipops that much.

 

Of the three central characters here, he's the one whose Ordeal we knew nothing about prior to this collection. It was fascinating then to go back to a time prior to when we met him and see what he was like as a kid and how it was like for him to grow up in an environment where daily assassination attempts against the royal family are treated the same as picking up the mail. Unsurprisingly, the Lone Power tempts him with the opportunity to get away from it all, and Roshaun's Ordeal becomes a particularly interesting game of subterfuge. 

 

Mamvish - 2 stars

 

I wasn't sure what to expect from this, except that Mamvish had been a favorite despite not knowing very much about her. We knew already that the LP never showed up for Mamvish's Ordeal, so I wasn't surprised to see this was the shortest story of the three. I was surprised that instead of telling us the story of Mamvish's Ordeal, we got a mythical telling of Mamvish's birth and youth as she goes on a quest to fix her world after the LP ravaged it. 

 

The world-building here is both extremely imaginative and frustrating. Aside from the gross out factor (the Tuawff are forced into cannibalism to survive the extinction-level event caused by the LP), it just doesn't make a whole lot sense. The mythical style of the tale gets repetitive fast and large chunks of time go by without much of anything happening. Mamvish goes on this epic quest to become the best, strongest, fastest and smartest Tuawff ever so she can fix her planet, and the way the story ends we have no idea if she does or even if she ever attempts it. 

 

Disappointing, disjointed and not very appetizing. I admit, I skimmed quite a bit of this one.

 

Ronan - 4 stars

 

In contrast to the other two, we've gotten to know Ronan over several books in this seres and we knew a good deal about his Ordeal already from when he told Nita about it in A Wizard Abroad. This then becomes more about seeing the specific events, including the parts Ronan left out, and how exactly wizardry works differently for Irish wizards. It was a joy to see Ronan have so much fun with the Knowledge as he's first experiencing it, and of course there was the One's Champion and the LP playing an ongoing tug-of-war over Ronan's fate as both tried to influence his choices - and it wasn't always easy to tell who was goading him which way either. ;)

Red Dirt Heart 3

Red Dirt Heart 3 - N.R. Walker

Charlie and Travis are back again with Ma, George and their pet wombat, Nugget. For those of you who don't know, like me, wombats are kind of mini-pig/gopher-looking things:

 

 

Also, they're illegal to own as pets, so it's a little weird that didn't become an issue in one of the subplots in this book.

 

Oh, and they have square poop. Why wasn't this brought up? Of all the things Travis doesn't seem to know about, despite growing up on a Texas ranch, that would be the thing that should've caused a comment but didn't.

 

Anyway, I'm off topic.

 

This is a culmination of Charlie's part of the story, and it was nice to see him coming fully out of his shell, learning to communicate with those around him and rely on them. He's got a lot on his plate, but he's really settled into his skin and if he had one more challenge to face, it was learning to stand on his own. While Travis might have helped him to open up, he didn't bring out anything in Charlie that wasn't already there. There was a teensy bit of Big Misunderstanding there that felt on the contrived side that I don't think was even necessary to get Charlie to where he ended up, but eh. YMMV.

 

The family drama was...unexplained to say the least.

Why did Charlie's dad tell his mom to get rid of her pregnancy? That part was never explained. They already had one kid, after all, so what would've been wrong with having a second one?

(show spoiler)

That part really needed to be more fleshed out. As it stands right now, the answer seems to boil down to "just cuz." Still, it gave Charlie another part of himself to come to terms with and grow from, and that was neat.

 

This did start off a little slowly, since Charlie had to feed Nugget every other paragraph, which got repetitive fast. It ended strong though, so despite the fact that the editing is actually getting worse with each installment, this one still gets a four-star rating.

Lock Nut (The Plumber's Mate #5)

Lock Nut - J.L. Merrow

More fun with Tom and Phil as they get wrapped up in yet another murder mystery where everyone around them drops like flies and yet somehow their friends and family don't run for the hills. :P

 

Although maybe they did, because they sure weren't around for a lot of this book. I was hoping to see more of Mike Novak and get to know him better, and see him and Tom start to forge a relationship together, but nope! There was a sweet scene between Tom and his dad though, so that was nice.

 

The mystery was as twisted and tongue-in-cheek as you would expect from this series. There were plenty of potential suspects and motivations all around, and a couple of twists on expectations that were nice. 

 

Still hate that cover though. Seriously, it looks like Riptide is marketing this series to pre-teens, and I know they can do better. I don't know who those two blokes on the cover are supposed to be but they're not Tom and Phil, that's for sure.

A Feast For Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire #4)

A Feast for Crows - George R.R. Martin

Oh, book, I wish I could quit you. :P

 

This is the shortest book so far in the series. I originally thought I'd have it finished by early April. Yes, real life stuff got in the way and I had to go some weeks without reading even a single chapter, but I wasn't exactly pining to get back to Westeros like I was in ASOS, and I think the main reason for that was the POV switches.

 

There was too much time spent with horrible, awful characters (all of the Ironmen, Cersei) and not enough of the characters I wanted to spend time with (virtually everyone else). It was cool to see Dorne, but without a single focal point for those chapters it felt just as hodgepodge as the Ironborn ones did. As for Cersei, I had hopes for her POV when her chapters started, but good lord y'all. She is Trump in a dress. No thank you. The ending was sweet but not worth the journey to get there.

 

However, I loved getting to see Brienne's POV, though it was often depressing, because she's such an amazing character and easily my favorite of the favorites (sorry Samwell). Hell, I enjoyed being in Jaime's head. Somewhere along the way I started rooting for that turdmeister and he didn't disappoint. Watching him snark at everyone was a real treat too. I wanted to see a lot more of Arya and Samwell. Not so much Sansa, but that's mostly because of Littlefinger and not Sansa herself.

 

And what the hell was that prologue about? It set up absolutely nothing else that happened in the book until the final chapter from what I could tell. Weird.

 

I had such high hopes for a Brienne-Catelyn action duo too. :(

 

So lots of awful, which is par for the course, but not enough of the good guys to balance out the bad. 

 

The top five Worst Evers for this book:

Cersei 

Qyburn 

Lord Tarly 

Euron Crow Eye 

Victarion

Currently reading

Balefire
Jordan L. Hawk
The Ruin of a Rake
Cat Sebastian
A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens
A Dance with Dragons
George R.R. Martin
Progress: 5 %