Book Review: You are Mine – Janeal Falor

You Are Mine (Mine, #1)You Are Mine by Janeal Falor

This is one of those books where my opinions are divided among themselves. The plot and setting feature some distinct cliches which ranged from interesting to eye rolling. I usually knew what was coming next several pages before it happened. However, I really enjoyed the characters and, in particular, the family relationship between the sisters and how that expanded to include the tarnished and the other women in the narrative.

The biggest thing that doesn’t make sense to me is given how valuable a highly blooded woman is why they continue to punish and threaten them with being tarnished. Some of this has to be just flat psychological manipulation because most of the men as described would be far too selfish to throw a magically blooded child away or risk hurting them beyond what can be easily fixed. If you kill a magically blooded daughter, whether you care about her or not, you’re out money and position and all kinds of things. So it’s just too much of a risk to casually break limbs and knock around your ‘possession’. I know this is being used to show how harsh the society is to women, but it doesn’t quite ring true.

This is a YA paranormal/fantasy, but I’d say upper YA to adult. There isn’t graphic content, but there is a lot of death, manipulation, physical and mental torture, etc. It’s dealing with very adult subjects which won’t appeal to everyone. And in the end things have changed for our heroine but not enough for me to be truly committed to find out what happens in the next books. Most of what she has she gained through Zade’s sacrifice not her own. So while I don’t regret the reading time, I’m not certain this is one I’ll be back to – But don’t quote me on that, stranger things have happened.:)

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Book Review: Power of the Matchmaker – Various

Power of the MatchmakerPower of the Matchmaker by Karey White

I was initially drawn to this novella for the cover, which is beautiful, but I was quickly drawn into the story.

Mae loves Chen, but the matchmaker has other ideas which sends Mae away from the home and family she loves to find another destiny. This is a short story which introduces the idea of the matchmaker and Mae’s backstory. There are a few places which are a little brutal as she deals with having no food and no family to go to, but it leads to a very satisfying place.

The very last bit is obviously the lead in to the other novels which focus on Mae and her future and doesn’t necessarily go with the story which has been told before, but I was willing to accept that because in my mind the main story had concluded anyway.

A very nice little before bed read, took me maybe an hour to read. No explicit content.

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Book Review: The Frog Prince – Jenni James

The Frog Prince (Faerie Tale Collection, #8)The Frog Prince by Jenni James

This was a cute retelling of The Frog Prince. It’s a short piece, only took me around two hours to read, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as the story fulfills all the promises it makes in that space. In this version of The Frog Prince author Jenni James takes the time to create a more satisfying reason for the Prince to be a frog and why he chose the princess he did to befriend. The princess is not as extreme in her reactions, she doesn’t fling the frog or break her promises on purpose, and the building romance is cute, including the families and the value of truly seeing someone for who they are.

I had some complaints about the language which is often stilted in the dialog and some of the themes are repeated to the point they start to grate, but over all a very cute little read appropriate for tweens and up.

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Book Review: No Ifs Ands or Bears About It

No Ifs, Ands, or Bears About It (Grayslake, #1)No Ifs, Ands, or Bears About It by Celia Kyle

I picked this book up because I was researching Kindle Worlds and wanted to do some research.

There were some fun and interesting bits here, and great potential for a complex plot and interesting romance. The problem is that once all those interesting things are set up they’re kinda tossed into an erotic blender and put on puree. I liked that the heroine was a curvy girl and wasn’t afraid to step up and defend a child in need. The werebear set up was unique as it focused on more bearlike qualities versus the more typical wolves we see in shifter books. So here there wasn’t an expectation for the forever mates or such, though to make it appeal to readers that then meant having to add a bizarre ‘fated mates’ thing which wasn’t well explained to assure us that Ty wouldn’t wander off on Mia when the next plump werebear came into town and that they could have shifting cubs even though she’s not full blooded. I think this could have been covered without the ‘fated’ bit by saying that the human capacity for love and staying with one mate could be just as strong.

So all in all it was okay for a lazy read, though very very high on my steamy scale. I didn’t read reviews first and found myself skipping a lot trying to get back to the parts of the plot I was interested in. I did want to know that Parker, the were bear cub, ended up safe and sound even if the way that happened left me wanting more.

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Book Review: The Hunger by Michael D Young

The HungerThe Hunger by Michael D. Young
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Note: I received an ARC from Future House Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thanks FHP.

This is another book which is probably around a 3.5 rating for me. It’s good, but not amazing and it makes me kind of frustrated because it had the building blocks for amazing.

In The Hunger readers are thrust immediately into a complex magical world. The magic is complex (And reminds me more than a bit of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn magic system). The politics are complex. The society is complex. The religion is complex. I don’t mind any of those things, and I don’t mind being dropped into the world and then having things explained. However, and this is a big however, if I’m dropped into the world that way I must have characters who I immediately latch onto, then I’m willing to take the ride with them even if there are problems with pacing or unanswered questions.

In this case while the characters, and there are at least 5 playing at main characters, are unique none of them really stepped up as someone whose story I just HAD to know. At least one was only on the quest until something better came along. One was a non believer who was going along on the word of his friend. One came along because she insisted and there had to be a sort of romantic angle. When I don’t have a character to really connect to then I find myself reading more analytically and under that all the things we didn’t know became annoying.

I did like the glimpses we got into the world and the magic. I liked the uniqueness of Sarhah’s knife work in particular and Evelet continually came up with surprises. Azil and his obsession with clothing and fashion was fun. I just needed MORE of all of it to come through and really carry me away.

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Book Review: Child of the Empire – Michaelbrent Collings

The Sword Chronicles: Child of the EmpireThe Sword Chronicles: Child of the Empire by Michaelbrent Collings
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is a solid 4-4.5 read, a book which is full of adventure, mystery, family and loss.

The over arcing story here is a coming of age of a woman who rise from the gladiatorial pits of her society to find her place in the Empire. She is one of the Gifted, a woman who gains not one, but two families, and continually finds that her world isn’t what she expects it to be.

This is a very powerful story as we follow this very broken girl who wants more than anything to have a place where she belongs. Beyond that she also wants to be someone who is doing what is right and what is right is often not an easy thing to see or know. I wanted Sword to succeed and found it heartbreaking each time that her world shifted and she recreated herself again. I was satisfied by where she ended up, even though the journey is painful and sometimes pretty brutal. There were a few aspects as far as the bigger plot which I’m still not fully certain of, and it’s left a bit open ended as it’s obviously the first in a series.

When I started reading I found the writing style a bit choppy, but that disappeared very quickly in the flow of the narrative which keeps up at a break neck speed all the way along. Very rarely are you given much breathing space and when you are…look out cause it’s usually a quick gasp before things get crazy all over again. I love love the connections between people through the book. There’s some romance, but even more important are the ties of siblings and parents and protectors. The powers are interesting and unique and the technology an odd conglomeration of the modern and the very Medieval, which was mostly fine though there were moments it threw me out of the story.

All in all I’m much looking forward to the next one. There are still a lot of questions left to be answered and ground left to be covered. I want to know what lies beneath the clouds, even as I’m afraid to know the answer…and that’s a good thing.

Content warning: This is prolly a 16+ at least. The language is fairly minor. There is some kissing, mention of prostitution and assault, and abundant violence. Folks die in some pretty awful ways and the story doesn’t shy away from that brutality. It’s not down to each drip of blood and brains or such, but it is present.

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Book Review: Got Luck by Michael Darling

Got LuckGot Luck by Michael Darling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

It’s taken some doing to pull my thoughts together on this book because those thoughts are very polarized. There are some things I really loved, and some complete book throwing offenses (Even if I was reading on a tablet!). So I’ll try to cover some of the highlights and lowlights and leave it to you to decide if you want to give Luck a try.

The highlights:
Miami! It’s nice to see a less common setting for a Urban Fantasy, and fun to see Got driving around with the top down and enjoying a different environment. I can’t complain about his choice of car either. It’s no Batmobile, but it’s much more fun and apparently home to all the 80s music.

A unique Fae mythos and worldbuilding. I really liked the focus on the three realms and the way they interconnect. While I still don’t understand a lot of the rules of the fae they were internally consistent enough that I bought into the world and would be interested in learning more. The magic system made sense though I did have a lot of questions about how far it went and the difference between Eternal magic and Halfling magics which I feel weren’t ever answered. I’m not listing that as a bad because it certainly left a lot of space for future books in the world to explore some of that more thoroughly.

Keeper. While he was maybe a little too convenient a source for answers I loved Keeper as a character. People who produce root beer floats from thin air are awesome.

Internal over all plot consistency. All the pieces fit together and made sense. I wasn’t really shocked by who the bad guys were and where folks fell when the battle lines were drawn, but it made sense within the world of the story and the set up information which was given.

The lowlights:
I very nearly quit reading this book after the first chapter. The self appreciative humor and pop culture references are SO heavy handed and abundant that it’s annoying. It’s not cute, it’s not appealing, and even though it gets better as the book goes that first chapter sets a tone that says Got is a jerk and more of a caricature of the best of the 1930-40s noir and current Urban Fantasy heroes than something unique and clever in his own right.

Which carries into the next point. That problem with character exists through the whole book and across many characters. Got complains all the time about how much lying he has to do, especially to his best friend but at no point does he even consider leveling with the man. Likewise when Got receives a big revelation about his whole life he just kinda nods and shrugs it off. He rarely feels real to me and because of that I have problems buying into him as a character even though I like his place as a plot point and the POTENTIAL of him as a character. Erin the girlfriend is worse. How I wanted to like her. She has a cool job, and for a change she’s the woman who is already in the know about the supernatural and gets to train him! How awesome could that be? Except… Most of the focus on her is tied into how beautiful she is. He says she’s smart but she doesn’t really do that much to prove it. Mostly she shows up in tight dresses and heels and cool make up because she’s a product of her environment and expectations. Then she’s continually put in situations where events and others manipulate her/kidnap her/(view spoiler), and she does nothing except to shrug and go, Well the Fae world is still really backwards when it comes to equality. And even when Got manipulates her she shrugs it off with tears and snuggles. For heaven sakes woman… And don’t get me started on her big secret twist, melodrama for the sake of melodrama with an epilogue of melodrama on top. Most of the other characters, including Nat though it pains me to say so, are very two dimensional. They are given defining characteristics, but they are not characters and they feel tacked on for stuff that Got mostly does himself anyway.

Must Got have ALL the powers? Really?

And lastly… I can see the author wanting Got to use his cool powers and not something as mundane as a gun. Okay, that’s fine. However, the ways used to keep the gun out of play in the hands of an ex military, ex police officer private eye make him look like an idiot. He is not Steph Plum who is afraid of her gun and hides it in the freezer. He has no excuse to consistently have put his firearm someplace stupid. If you have a permit, you’re carrying and you’re comfortable with a weapon you don’t treat it like an after thought.

So all in all it was an okay debut and will appeal to fans of authors like Kevin Herne and Anton Strout as there are a lot of similar beats as far as the humor and pop culture style. There’s some great raw talent and potential here and I’ll be keeping an eye on the author, but I need to see a lot of development if I’m gonna stick with Luck.

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