July 2020 — A Wrap-Up

Cover of the book, Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine

Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine

As I review this book, the news of Rachel Caine’s passing is still fresh. I’ve loved reading her work and am sad that we won’t get to see what else she would have dazzled us with.

When it comes to this installment, I think I can sum it up with two main revelations. First, Jess comes to a decision about his family — namely his dad — and his future with them. Secondly, we find out the dark cost of Morgan’s powers that all those of her ilk must surrender to.

Other than that, we see Dario try to redeem himself and Khalila begins to come into her own. Jess’s twin, too, picks a side. The ending is of course very Ms. Caine because it is dark, bloody, heartbreak, and cliff-hangery.

If you want, you can follow the series reread that Kate Elliott and Zoraida Córdova are doing on Tor.

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Find my review of the second book here.

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Fourth book, here I come! Although, this one’s out, the series was supposed to be five-books-long. Dunno what that means now that Ms. Caine passed away.

Cover of the book, Bite the Bullet by L.A. Banks

Bite the Bullet by L.A. Banks

The qualms that I had with the previous book, Bad Blood, remain unaddressed so far. The relationship between the lead couple doesn’t seem to be about more than sex. And get this, the guy has some dark secret, which he of course chooses to keep to himself. Until that is, it endangers his mate. And the woman, well, she’s in heat so sex and anger are the only two things on her mind.

New characters are introduced all the time and they either add nothing to the overall plot or muddle up even more. What’s even worse is the development of a love triangle — I had hoped that would taper off but no, it’s happening! Does it get better as we go? Should I even bother?

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Will I or won’t I…pick up the next book, i.e.?

Cover of the book, The Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer

The Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer

The main thing that I like about the Artemis Fowl series is the cocky character of a pre-teen boy who’s smart enough to pull off heists and outwit the fairies. In fact, that was what got me hooked right from the first line. If you take that out of the equation, I’m going to have to hit you!

Throughout this book, we see two sides of Artemis’s personality. One of them is nauseatingly in love with Holly — yet another indication that the author has designs for them to become a couple yeesh! And the other confident version that we’re used to — or something close to it. Lemme tell you, it didn’t make for pleasant reading.

My turnoffs from the previous book — see here and the cover’s below — remain the same. Like that one, this book also felt more like a setup for the next series based on the Fowl twins. Here’s hoping that the last book doesn’t make me regret starting this series.

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Review rant here.

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That’s the last book after which I’ll have to say a teary goodbye to a favorite series. Not even a movie coming out could lessen the hurt — mostly, because it is a really crappy one! A waste of an actor like Colin Farrell and why’d anyone put Dame Judi Dench in such a shitshow anyway?

Cover of the book, Xoe: Vampires, and Werewolves, and Demons, Oh My! by Sara C. Roethle

Xoe: Vampires, and Werewolves, and Demons, Oh My! by Sara C. Roethle

Yeah, so it’s not somewhat like Twilight. As many other reviewers have commented, it is very much Twilight. We have a similar beginning: a girl who’s unlike other girls spots a dude unlike other dudes at school. Unlike Twilight, though, he seems to creep her out — just as Edward did for anyone with two brain cells.

There’s also a complete absence of adults who can tell their kids: no, taking a hike in the woods in the dark when you know a creepster has been watching you all day isn’t smart. Bad girl!

And then there’s the fact that the main character has latent superpowers that are oh-so-rare and only come to play right at the end of the book. Anyhoozle, not a good read for me but if you can turn off your brain while reading, you might like it!

Why did I read it anyway? Needed an X for a reading challenge.

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This is the next book in the series, which I won’t be reading — unless I really need to fulfill some challenge’s reading requirements.

Cover of the book, Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

The usual truth bombs are dropped and hijinks occur in this installment of Discworld. Wyrd Sisters is the second book in the Wytches subseries and the first time we meet two of the three wytches along with Granny Weatherwax (Equal Rites). These wytches do their best not to meddle in the affairs of mortals or even live by society’s rules. It’s just too bad that the circumstances take the decisions out of their hands. I loved every bit of it even if some parts were a tad slow or too silly for my taste. To my great pleasure, Death made an appearance too.

The Discworld series has a loyal fan following. I’d think someone who dares to make movies/series out of it must have a set of big brass ones. Yes, I’m talking about the series based on The Watch.

Look at the trailer below:

It’s not that it’s not funny or that I dislike it. It just isn’t Discworld *shrug*. Find my review of the previous book — I’m reading in publication order — here:

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Next up:

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Cover of the book, Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Color me surprised when I found out that I had rated this book with 3 stars! I mean, the objectification of all female characters in the Dresden series is now so normal for me that I was willing to internalize and overlook it! This is how they get you!

Too many exclamation marks, I know. But bear with me as I elaborate on the skeeviness. Harry thinks all women are hot and spends paragraphs upon paragraphs describing them. They all seem to get nekkid in front of him for one reason or the other. He’ll tell you how wrong it would be to lead on Molly — a girl he has known since she was a pre-teen. But he also tells you he’s known her ever since she was in a training bra. The fact that she has a thing for him is brought up in every book. Everyone seems to know it and beat us over the head with the fact.

But, now that he has the mantle of the Winter Knight giving him blue balls, all the female characters are rapable too, including the tiny Tinkerbell-sized ones! And his fantasies include the ones about the innocent Molly that he has been training as an apprentice, gave mental trauma to when he took her to a battle she wasn’t ready for, and can read his rapey thoughts because she’s a sensitive. She’s still carrying a torch for him and offers herself to him. Not just that, but as the Winter Lady, I can just about see them getting together. In short, the ickiness factor got upped by a million.

All the major bad guys are women. Some of them are crazy but still want to do Harry, like Maeve. Others are shrewd and still want to do Harry, like Mab. Still others are running away from their destiny but will do Harry before they do that.

But Harry wasn’t done after just alienating feminists in this one. He also had to have a conversation with a Huge Player about homosexuality. It was so jarring and weird that I wanted to call up the author and ask, WHY?

For the past few books, every villain is here to end the world — read Chicago. And Harry has to be a bigger deal to counter these threats. He does all that without growing as a person or a character. This book isn’t any different in that regard, either.

Also, let’s talk about how calculating the mantle is supposed to make Harry. There is NO evidence of any cleverness on his part. He spends most of the book getting pranked by various of Maeve’s henchmen. And when he does end up in the right place, he totally misses the gia-normous bull’s eye his actions and bumbling have painted on Molly’s back. Where is the calculating, shrewd Winter Knight?

The only good thing in this book was Demon’s Reach. I mean if even James Marsters’ sexy voice narrating a book to me can’t distract me from the ugliness of its plot, then what is the point of living? Ugh!

Cover of the book, Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

My review of the previous book’s here.

I think, from now on, I’d rather have Butters’ POV. No, wait. That’d only remind me of another can of worms. Yikes!

Cover of the book, Skin Game by Jim Butcher
The next book in the series. Why do I keep doing this to myself?!
Cover of the book, The Rosary Murders by William X. Kienzle

The Rosary Murders by William X. Kienzle

I love the flavor of PD James’ Dalgliesh series and this one was written in the same vein. Except, that our protagonist isn’t a detective but a member of the clergy. Even so, I liked the slow burning progression, ending in a good reveal.

The misplaced reasoning of the serial killer murdering nuns and priests was heartbreaking. If only someone could have helped them when they had needed it. So many lives would have been saved!

I also liked the characters of the detectives in charge of solving the serial murders. The constant ribbing between them spoke of a true friendship. One of them is Black and the other isn’t. Considering this book was published in 1989, I was surprised to see how forward-looking it seemed. Their jokes also touched on racism and discrimination — with the Black giving his partner a hard time.

The good thing about finding a new series — which, I did — is that you can add more books to your TBR. The bad thing is that you will add more books to your TBR, such as this one:

Cover of the book, Death Wears A Red Hat by William Kienzle

Found there’s a movie based on the first novel, starring Donald Sutherland. What fun!

Cover of the book, Stone Mad by Elizabeth Bear

Stone Mad by Elizabeth Bear

While the first one in the series didn’t wow me, it was steampunk and inclusive. So, I decided to give the second one a chance. A mistake because it was full of tedious inner monologues hailing from the protagonist, Karen Memery. Sure, it is good to show the readers how characters have to work on their relationship to keep it strong. And that they must compromise for the other person. But if that telling gets so big that it overshadows the mystery and the action that made the first book come alive… That’s what happened with this one. Everything else took a backseat and all a reader understands after reading this book is that both characters are stubborn but truly love each other. Could have told you that after finishing the first book. Disappointing!

Cover of the book, Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Find the Karen Memery review here.

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Shadowdance by Kristen Callihan

The bad news was that morally, both the protagonists were dipshits. One lied about a murder and called the other a whore for almost the entirety of the book. The other acted like a doormat and lied about who the actual murderer was. The good news was that like attracts like. So, in a way, they both deserved each other.

Aside from the main characters that I absolutely didn’t care about, I loved that in this book, the person who underwent a rape was not female but a male. A male lead, at that. I wouldn’t say it was fun to read about how it decimated his self-worth. But it felt authentic. It was also nice to see how he kept pushing away his adoptive family and they pushed back as hard to include him.

Also, while I’ve returned to this series after a long time, I don’t remember there being angels in it. We do meet a couple in this one. It made things interesting. Makes sense too, since there are already demons running around and resurrecting recently dead women. I’d like to know more about both demons and angels, which is why I will be reading the next one:

Cover of the book, Winterblaze by Kristen Callihan

You’ll find the review of the previous book here.

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Night Study by Maria V. Snyder

What I Liked

If you want to take a page out of this author’s book on how to keep things fresh, go ahead and do so. She swapped the powers of the lead couple, which meant endless new subplots can now be introduced.

The reveals about Valek’s family and meeting up with them was fun to read about.

What I Didn’t Like

That the protagonist still doesn’t have her magic. The whole pregnancy making women’s powers and abilities wonky is an angle that I could always do less with. Yeah, the kid’s exactly like his dad but it still rankled when it kept slurping on Mom’s magic.

For spies and assassins, the main characters do get kidnapped, waylaid, duped, etc. A LOT! I mean, I could excuse the heroine because she started to rely on her magic and might have lost all her training from when she didn’t have it. But what about the rest? And Valek aka the most paranoid guy on the planet would let her? Not believable!

At least, the first third of the book is a slogfest. Things only begin to happen in the last quarter and that’s when they happen at lightning quick speed.

All in all, not a bad read! Bring on the next one:

Cover of the book, Dawn Study by Maria Snyder
Cover of the book, Diaper Study by Maria V. Snyder

Diaper Study by Maria V. Snyder

Even though this one spoils the previous book, I went ahead and read the short story. It is a cutesy thing about Janco babysitting Yelena and Valek’s kid. Nothing surprising or spoilery about it because readers of the series would know by now about Yelena’s pregnancy. You can find it on the author’s website.

So, what did you do in July?

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Jeremy Beard says:

    The only thing I’d read from Caine before the Library series was some of her Morganville vampires, which wasn’t bad or anything, just not my thing. But given how much I liked the Library stuff, I’ve been meaning to go back and check out her other stuff. RIP.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Midu Hadi says:

      Same, Morganville isn’t my thing, either.

      Like

  2. Judi Lynn says:

    Looks like you had more misses than hits, but the reviews were fun. Even the bad ones. A lot of people I know are reading Harry Dresden now. I tried his first book, and it was okay, but it hasn’t motivated me to read more yet.

    Like

    1. Midu Hadi says:

      I think the first’s the weakest. The audiobooks are really something else, though.

      Liked by 1 person

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