Reviews of Books I Read in July-August 2021

The Gravedigger’s Son by Darynda Jones

Cover of the book,  The Gravedigger’s Son by Darynda Jones

This novella’s about Quentin and Amber, who have grown up and run their own businesses by that time. Too bad, circumstances–read Vatican assholery–made it impossible for them to stay together. As usual, there’s a weak reason behind why the male lead couldn’t have just come up to the woman he loved and told her what had happened. Instead, he chooses to dump her while plagued with i-am-a-sacrificial-lamb-itis syndrome. She, on the other hand, couldn’t see beyond her awfulness being why she got dumped. They meet again and sparks fly. Both act pigheadedly until they get on with the doing of sex. In short, not too much has changed in the world of Charley Davidson.

Archangel’s Sun by Nalini Singh

Cover of the book, Archangel's Sun by Nalini Singh

Dunno if you’ve read my review of the book before this one, but I mentioned how annoying all the telling and repetition can get when it comes to this series. That continues to be the case here too. It turned zombie hunting boring! And even though the choice of leads–both are older and the heroine is actually an Ancient– was unusual, the story followed a predictable plot.

Ocean Light by Nalini Singh

Cover of the book, Ocean Light by Nalini Singh

I had a lot of fun reading the reviews of this book here on GR. What most reviewers pointed out and found to be a turn-off was how swiftly the male protag falls for the heroine. Funnily enough, that didn’t even register on my weirdometer! I’ve gotten used to characters within this series, falling in insta-love. So, I took that part in stride the way I usually do when reading romances. I’m only here for the world-building and the humor, both of which were present in this book. 

Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh

Cover of the book, Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh

Besides being unrealistic with regards to how an abuse survivor would behave and insta-love issues, this book did not add much to the overall arc of the series. Some characters with similar backstories to Memory’s could have helped her adjust to the outside world but we don’t meet any one of them, other than Sascha.

To date, many characters with unique abilities–ones that can stabilize the PsyNet–have been found. Yet, there’s no attempt to bring them together, so they can resolve the issue once and for all. I’m guessing the author will use that material to write a separate book later on. Finally, as one reviewer mentioned, it’d be a good change to come across a male E and make them the star in one of the next books. So far, all E protags have been females. 

Soulbound by Kristen Callihan

Cover of the book, Soulbound by Kristen Callihan

The male leads are proving to be less assholish and more like sane adults as I make progress. Sadly, this is the second to last book of this series. 

The Undead Next Door by Kerrelyn Sparks

Cover of the book, The Undead Next Door by Kerrelyn Sparks

These are formulaic books for sure. But the humor and the romance make them great for light reading. I pick one up every so often and have an entertaining time. This time, an immortal world-class fashion designer who is about to go into a programmed prolonged exile so us humans won’t catch on meets a curvaceous single mom, who throws all kinds of wrenches into his plans. The result? Lots of humor, romance, and heartfelt scenes. Woohoo! 

Alpha Night by Nalini Singh

Cover of the book, Alpha Night by Nalini Singh

To be fair, I had been complaining that there hadn’t been any male Es before I got to this book. But the male lead in this doesn’t count because he had spent most of his life being trained and deployed as an Arrow. He only discovers his E-ness a long way into the story. Selenka, I liked for several reasons. One, we hadn’t seen a female alpha other than whatsername–the Black Sea one. And even with her, we don’t get to see much about the way she operates. There’s a scene where Selenka lets one of her packmates blow off steam by trading physical blows with her, i.e., the alpha. That got my attention. However, as many others have complained, there wasn’t much Russian about a book that’s supposedly set in the country. And the audiobook narrator for Selenka adopted a ridiculous accent unnecessarily. I’ve hated when they do the same thing for Indian characters in the Guild Hunter series. I mean, why do it for some characters when you don’t do this for English speakers from other areas? 

Dead and Alive by Dean Koontz

Cover of the book, Dead and Alive by Dean Koontz

One reason why I find slipping into this series easy enough is that it can make fun of itself. The human characters will be off doing something really ridiculous–say, chasing a dog who’s being chased by two cloned humans–and they will recognize how ludicrous it is and say it. One reason I hate this series is that the main villain is very irritating. He is almost cartoonishly evil, which makes him less scary and more of an idiot. Other reasons, such as deus ex machinis and really stupid characters–the chameleon and that troll guy–aside, I have fun with this series so I will continue with it. 

Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop

Cover of the book, Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop

I’m well aware of what this series lacks. It asks the reader to suspend all of their disbelief, stuff it in a box, and forget about it. Humans = stupid poopyheads since they fail to get they live on sufferance. Others = a cross between doggos and bloodthirsty beasts. Meg and Simon = Ross and Rachel at glacial speed. Repetitive prose about color-changing hair = All. The. Time. Plot of this book = unrealistic since it doesn’t align with what has been going on in the first two. I mean Meg has been fine living in the Courtyard for a long time and only now do we discover she can get overstimulated? So, why do I rate it 3 stars and not one? Because it’s my feel-good book. And so, onwards we go! 

Forevermore by Kristen Callihan

Cover of the book, Forevermore by Kristen Callihan

Much shorter than the previous books in this series, this novel had two romances running alongside each other. While the main focus was on the younger couple, they seemed too bland and came together far too easily. The second couple, the female half of which was the heroine’s mother, was more interesting and I wouldn’t have minded reading a whole book about their story. Other familiar characters also made appearances, detracting even more of the spotlight from the main couple. Even so, I’m going to miss this series.

Entwined by Kristen Callihan

Cover of the book, Entwined by Kristen Callihan

Yet another story where two minutes of conversation could have resolved the main mystery but then this is a romance. In any case, I found the lead couple to be interesting and authentic in all their bumbling and experimental interactions with each other. I’d have loved it even more had the author fast-forwarded and shown these guys with their descendants aka the main characters in this series. Maybe with an epilogue or something?

Ember by Kristen Callihan

Cover of the book, Ember by Kristen Callihan

This novella gives us a glimpse of what life was like for Miranda before she got her HEA. In a classic case of internalized misogyny, Miranda feels sorry for her would-be rapist and brings him home to help him recuperate from the burns she instilled in SELF-DEFENSE! Her douchy boyfriend also fails to understand what she’s trying to do and deserts her because of her powers. Romances…shakes my head

Murder at Cape Three Points by Kwei Quartey

Cover of the book, Murder at Cape Three Points by Kwei Quartey

Like the ones before, this book charmed me to no end. The author describes life in Ghana in a way that both breaks your heart and makes you fall in love with its simplicity and uncluttered nature. Our favorite cop is busy inserting his nose in places and people who can snap it off. But he acquits himself capably. I’m also loving the camaraderie cum respect that’s growing between him and his sergeant. Something was going to happen between Fiona, one of the suspects, and Darko. I totally called it the moment she made her entry! Dunno why it needed to be there, though. Finally, I would have preferred to have seen some level of threat against Darko but he solves the case while exposing himself to almost no danger.

Battle Lines by Will Hill

Cover of the book, Battle Lines by Will Hill

I’ve never been a fan of teenage angst and I’m not going to start becoming one! All the will she and won’t he between Jamie and Larissa made me want to scream. And, sure, Larissa is just now coming across someone who doesn’t run screaming when she goes all vampy. But does that mean she would be completely blind to how whatsisname’s obsession for her is based on all the wrong reasons? All that wouldn’t have made me rate this book at 2 stars. It was how this very secret organization and their habit of leaving loose ends untied. If you’re kidnapping someone’s kid or fail to explain why they had to leave behind their daughter while she was attacked by a vampire, what do you expect them to do? Just go on with their lives? Would any parent worth their salt ever be able to do that? Then how come the two dads teaming up with a vampire–another loose end btw–took the organization by surprise? How? HOW?

I review the previous book here.

The Kraken King by Meljean Brook

Cover of the book. The Kraken King by Meljean Brook

This one had quite a bit of violence in it and I dunno how feel about that since this is one of my feel-good series. I did enjoy reading it, particularly the parts where the author turned beached and hunted krakens into what coconuts are to Indonesia lol. But this book suffered when the author compiled the serials into one volume without shaving off the unnecessary bits. But I’m still excited to pick up the next one!

Review of the book before this one.

The Dark Room by Minette Walters

Cover of the book, The Dark Room by Minette Walters

After she supposedly attempts suicide by car-wrapped-around-a-pillar, a woman loses her most recent memories. As she gradually rediscovers the bits and pieces and puts them together, we get to find out what really happened. Spicing up the mystery is the presence of her father whose love for her borders on creepy and obsessive, her bff and ex-fiancé who have been murdered the way her ex-husband was, and other unsavory characters. Since this is a Minette Walters book, there was no way I wouldn’t have liked it. Hidden agendas and sickening motivations of the characters made this an interesting read. A sweet ending provides a relief after all the violence and secrecy.

Reviews of other books by the author.

Tales from the Nightside by Simon R. Green

Cover of the book, Tales from the Nightside by Simon R. Green

One thing that readers like me who aren’t binging on this series might not realize is that the author uses the same words to describe/introduce Nightside. I say same and not even similar because it became glaringly obvious to me when I started reading this anthology. Each story opens in the same way!

That isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy this book. Anything by Simon R. Green appeals to me. Featured in this volume are the following shorts:

The Nightside, Needless to Say

We find out who was behind Larry Oblivion’s murder and what went wrong with it. An average story.

Razor Eddie’s Big Night Out

A friend of Eddie’s and the only follower of a particular religion is worried about what the Street of Gods is turning into. Old gods are constantly being replaced or worse, modernized. So, he reaches out and Eddie lends his razor to the cause. Fun short and loved the ending!

Lucy, at Christmastime

A newly turned shifter mourns the love he lost. Okayish story.

Appetite for Murder

Sam Warren was Nightside’s first Detective, so it’s okay if he considers John Taylor an upstart. In this story, he’s on the trail of a serial killer and teams up with Ms. Fate to solve the murders. Maybe one of my favorites out of this bunch.

The Difference a Day Makes

John Taylor and Dead Boy reluctantly help a woman whose lost a day’s worth of memories–and her husband. Underwhelming story.

Some of These Cons Go Way Back

Harry Fabulous finds out how true the adage, The road to hell is paved with good intentions, is. Underwhelming tale.

The Spirit of the Thing

A barkeep hires John to find out who’s been watering the drinks and tries to trick the PI. Doesn’t go that well for the barkeep, which is just how I like my Nightside to end.

Hungry Heart

John Taylor is hired by a witch to find a certain box but of course, other players muscle in, wanting the box containing the heart for themselves. An okayish story.

How Do You Feel?

The Dead Boy backstory. I like how the indestructible character still behaves like a pre-teen whenever he makes an appearance. This story was no different.

The Big Game

The Nightside’s heroes have gone missing and the Doorman of the Adventurer’s Club asks John Taylor to find out who’s behind their disappearance. Fun if typical JT fare.

Nefertiti’s Heart by A.W. Exley

Cover of the book,  Nefertiti's Heart by A.W. Exley

What I Liked

The way this book started. It opens on two men trying to gang up and rob a woman in her own house. What she does is spectacular and sets up some high expectations–even more of a bummer when they weren’t met later on!

The mystery and the legend that went with Nefertiti’s heart. Also, the reason the serial killer latched on to it. Ew!

Representation of aged characters. Cara’s grandma–no, actually all of her household–and the sometimes-lucid rich widow. They were both awesome.

What I Didn’t Like

How impractically the author describes the recovery of someone who’s been repeatedly raped and abused by more than one person. Sure, she shows reluctance when anyone wants to touch her but it still seems she gets used to Nathaniel’s touch too quickly.

Not much steampunk about this supposedly steampunk series. Any gadgets that were part of the story ran on electricity or were battery-powered.

The male lead, Nathaniel. I forgave that you were motivated by instalove but I am NOT going to give your controlling nature a pass. It’s even worse given that the girl he falls for is a rape survivor. And she lets him walk all over her? Hmm…

What I’m Ambivalent About

The female lead gets herself into risky as heck situations, thinking that since the worst’s already happened to her, it’s not like she could get into trouble of any kind. On the one hand, I completely get that’s how the world wants women to view a rape, i.e., loss of honor. If this kind of thinking persists even today, I cannot expect a Victorian era world to be any different. On the other hand, I’m unsure if THAT was the intent of the author when they wrote the character this way. Maybe someone saying to the contrary could have cleared things up a bit?

I guesses who the killer was before the reveal. Is that bad? I dunno!

Why couldn’t Cara’s grandma have taken her away before everything happened?

And that’s what I thought of this book.

So, how was August for you?

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