Book Review: Days Gone Bad by Eric Asher

Days Gone Bad (Vesik, #1)Days Gone Bad by Eric R. Asher
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

All together I fear this book tries too hard and ends up stumbling over itself. I ended up skimming the last half of it because by half way through I was tired of the supernatural salad and the consistent grating laughter. On first glimpse this should have been the kind of book I like.

Damien is a snarky, slightly older (yay 30) male protagonist and a necromancer, which is something we don’t often see as a hero. He runs a shop of oddities and magical stuff in St Charles, which I guess is either a suburb or close to St. Louis, I never really could tell exactly how that worked. His sister is a fairly new vampire (vampires who have no trouble with things like sunlight, grr) and one day his old mentor calls to say that there are demons being loosed and they’re coming after Damien because…reasons. When the demons do come it all gets tossed into supernatural salad with fae, demons, vampires, zombies, zombie vampires and psychotic faery dogs. The book is fairly brutal as Damien gets his butt handed to him rather consistently, and enemies get bifurcated and exploded among other things. (view spoiler)

While there are some interesting world building aspects, and a few characters I found myself drawn to, the choppiness of the writing, jumping from place to place and vast inconsistency of pacing and world building was a turn off. A shame because it had a lot of potential for more.

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Grump…

Dear Windows 10,

We’ve had this discussion a few times now. I’ve gently poked your settings and prodded you at your misbehaving. Let’s go over this one more time. Stop updating and rebooting yourself when I’m in the middle of things!!!!

Me

Dear Me,

Hit save more often.

Me.

Book Review: Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh

KIYA: Hope of the Pharaoh (KIYA Trilogy, #1)KIYA: Hope of the Pharaoh by Katie Hamstead
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As the new year has begun I’ve been making an effort to clear off some of the many free and inexpensive books off my Kindle list. Some of them have just been dumped entirely because whatever caught my eye in the first place no longer holds true and the others I’m trying to give a read and review before deciding if they stay or go.

With that long explanation Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh is a book I’ve looked at several times, but hadn’t picked up until recently. I decided that I wanted something a little different and the Egyptian setting and pseudo historical bent sounded fun. This is the first in a trilogy in the classic sense of a continuing story, not a series in the same world or years apart, but one book leads into the next, etc. Hope of the Pharaoh tells the story of a Hebrew girl named Naomi who takes her sister’s place as the wife of the Pharaoh because she believes that her timid younger sister wouldn’t survive palace life.

This story sort of qualifies as historical fiction. There was a Kiya during the reign of Akhenaten and Nefertiti and there is still some question over the heritage of King Tut who followed Akhenaten. The period isn’t well documented so it leaves a lot of space for imagination and the author took advantage of that, which was fun. However, and there must be a however here, it didn’t feel like there had been a lot of research done into the accuracies of Egyptian life at that time and certainly not into Hebrew life. It felt a lot more like Egypt as seen through the Ten Commandments or other Hollywood portrayals. I never got a feel for the food and the more specific culture and rarely did we see the Pharaoh doing anything…well…Pharaohie. Instead the focus was all on his genetic deformations (which is historical) and on his role as a husband and master of the house. The Hebrew references had her partaking in restrictions and observances which weren’t brought to the Hebrew until after the time of Moses and this time period was too soon for that, though a few generations after Joseph of the famed coat of many colors. I did a lot better when I considered it a fantasy “Egypt” instead of trying to ground it in the reality.

Plotwise the book works for me. Naomi comes to the capital, is prepared to be a wife and then faces intrigue and politics which threaten her life and that of the children she hopes to have. It’s an interesting imagining of how 312 wives and concubines manage to get along while sharing one man and how kingdoms pass from one to another.

Now the big place where it didn’t work for me, and this kinda pains me to say, is the characters. I can’t think of anyone that I really felt was well rounded and well developed. Yeah, almost everyone had interesting aspects, but those paled beside the problems. Kiya is not likeable, no matter how EVERYONE except the ‘bad’ guys seems to immediately take to her. All the men lurve her and there’s a full on Love Quadrangel going on between her, the Pharaoh, a guard and the General of the city and I don’t know why any of them really think she’s all that wonderful. They call her clever, but she really isn’t, and we’re continually reminded how she’s beautiful and bigger and stronger than the other women which is supposed to be a bad thing except that it’s totally…not. Her devotion to her religion is something which comes and goes when it’s important to the plot and seems to be more about socialization and family than real belief and dedication. All in all I found her wishy washy and unreliable as a narrator and a person. And Nefertiti was portrayed much like the Wicked Witch of the West. I was just waiting for her to start with the cackling and the ‘I’ll get you my pretties’ kind of lines. She was unrelentingly evil and jealous and awful, and stupid…all traits which seem very out of step with maintaining her status as the number one wife of Pharaoh. He said she couldn’t be punished because of her royal blood, but I couldn’t believe that due to how far she went to maintain her place. No one would have blamed him except her co-conspirators who were just as guilty. So all in all, I wanted characters who were LIKE these characters but more well rounded and realistic put into this plot.

Now, a couple of other nits to pick. I like the writing in general. However, there are a LOT of modern phrases and attitudes which show up all through this book. I’d be sinking into the narrative and then something would pop out of Kiya’s mouth which would totally throw me out of the story because it sounded like a girl at the mall, not a woman in ancient Egypt, particularly an outsider in a strange land and among a strange people.

My other nit… The Pharaoh was receiving 3-4 women a night, every night and performing his duty with each of them. And later in the story he was seeing Kiya during the day as well as his nightly jaunts. All I can think is that he must have had access to some kind of super Viagra because most men cannot manage three times in a night once, much less every night with some quickies during the day too.

In the end will I pick up the next book? Eh, maybe. I don’t feel driven to know what happens to Kiya at this point and I really don’t care which of the men she ends up with because I don’t believe any of the relationships. I didn’t have to force myself to finish or give up, so it still gets a three star and I may pick up the next one on sale for some summer day, the books read quickly, but I’m not rushing to Amazon right now.

Content: There are a couple of violent and bloody scenes, descriptions of women giving birth, and a mild sex scene as well as domestic violence. Kiya gets shoved around a lot including when she’s pregnant.

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Book Review: Exile of the Crown

Exile of the Crown (The Crown of Tremontane #2.5)Exile of the Crown by Melissa McShane
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Exile of the Crown is a novella lengthen piece, though it’s really four shorter pieces all pulled together to show what happened to Queen Zara after the events of Servant of the Crown, bringing her timeline up to speed.

I was a big fan of Zara in Servant of the Crown and wanted her to get more ‘screen’ time, so it was really fun to get these glimpses of what came next for the character and how she built herself a new life. I like seeing the deep emotions she’s capable of, all while never giving up her innate bossy Zaraness. She may not be Queen of Tremontane anymore, but she is still Lady of all she surveys.

You definitely do NOT want to start reading the Tremontane books here. This one really needs to be read after Servant of the Crown and Rider of the Crown and before Agent of the Crown. There are secrets revealed which will really mess up reading the other books if you start here.

* I received Exile as an ARC. Lucky me. 🙂

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Book Review: A Hidden Fire

A Hidden Fire (Elemental Mysteries, #1)A Hidden Fire by Elizabeth Hunter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I started this book with the sensation that I’d read it, or at least part of it, before, and that proved to be true. The further I got the more I knew I’d already read it, but I finished it anyway.

This is solidly in the urban fantasy/paranormal romance category, a vampire story with a few new spins but also relying on the much older man much younger women being brought into the paranormal world trope. So while some of the newest bits were interesting a lot of it was territory which has been well trod. The many hundreds of years distance between the protags is one of those things which can be really well done but often isn’t and here it’s…okay, but not fantastic. There are still many places where Giovanni just flat doesn’t act like someone with so much experience behind him, and I want more reason for him to fall for a 22 year old than she smells good and is clever. Then again someone could say the same for the 9th/10th doctor and Rose and that relationship worked for me. Go figure.

I do like the characters very much in the book, particularly some of the secondaries who are fabulous including a vampiric priest with a love of ugly Hawaiian shirts.

When it comes to the plot the book feels…unfinished and is the subject of my dissatisfaction. It’s just an introduction of a few threads of what has to be an arc running through the series. So while they make a little ground I have no idea where it’s really leading or why it matters beyond the smaller plot of introducing our couple and Gio’s family. (view spoiler) So in the end I don’t feel like the characters have really won anything.

I’m not sure if I’ll read the rest of the series. It’s tempting, but would have to be at the right price.

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Sometimes Process is a Funny Thing

red pen

For nearly a month I’ve been struggling with a couple of outlines. The stories are in my brain. I know generally how they go and I’m excited about them. However, when it comes to getting the outline down I’ve been here, there and everywhere. (And I would write the in a box and I would write them with a fox…and… ahem).

Now, I am a combination of a pantser and a plotter. I let a lot of the character development and relationships grow organically, but I do a lot better with staying on task when I have a good outline, so I need that too.

In the last few days I have figured out the problem. I was outlining sitting up. As soon as I switched over to a notebook and flopped on the floor (Not always an easy thing after 40) the outlines began to flow. Next time I’ll pull out my old body pillow for a more comfortable flop, but right now I’m just happy to have found my outline, funny process or not. 🙂

So what’s your oddity in process? Do you need to come flop on the floor with me? I’ll bring extra pillows!

Kicking off the New Year

Hello my darlings,

It’s been a busy holiday season and I find myself both looking forward to getting back into the ‘normal’ routine and begging for just one more day of vacation and family time. Looking forward wins though!

So what’s coming in 2016?

Well there will be more marketing for Desert Rains, which was released in October of 2015, but is still finding its feet in the grander world. This kicks off with a fun review and book give away from Wishful Endings. Check it out.

I’ll be attending LDS Storymakers as well as LTUE the first part of the year, with other possible appearances TBA.

Book goals. I have several manuscripts in progress (At last count there were 12 on the manuscript list in various stages), which seems to be a pretty constant thing. I’m expecting to release at least two books self published and see if I can’t find a publishing home for another series.

Other than that I want to continue supporting other writers and bump up my reading goals! All while keeping up with family and house. 🙂

Wish me luck.

What are your goals?

Jana