Jun. 13th, 2011

jmc_bks: (title2)
Here's the run down, an abbreviated sort-of-SBD.

Also, I love the use of SBD as a verb, which Kate pointed out last week on Twitter.

Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn.  European historical fantasy.  This is the first (I think) of a series based on the Smythe-Smith musicale...which is kind of horrendous.  I mean, the music is terrible and I really don't understand why the family thinks it's a good idea or why people keep attending.  Even the heroine of this book, who admits that the music is bad and cringes at participating but does so out of family loyalty, is looking forward to torturing her future daughters.  Ugh.  Anyway, this is a friends-to-lovers book, and it was well-done:  neither of them pined for each other, and each had a healthy attitude about their position in life and what they were looking for in a spouse.  They just hadn't really considered each other until circumstances brought them together for an extended period of time in fraught circumstances.  And the Quinn humor, which I have felt was lacking in the last few books I'd tried, was present.  Ignoring the pink/primrose faux pas, this was an okay historical fantasy.  My only real quibble is the love scene, which came at the end of the book and felt forced -- as if Quinn realized oops! ending in 50 pages and no nookie, must add it here!  While I generally don't care for books that close the bedroom door, the progression of the plot to that point had been completely satisfying without the love scene.  Eh.  B/B-

Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews.  Urban fantasy.  Book five of the series.  Really enjoy Kate as protagonist and post-Shift Atlanta.  In my Kindle notes for the last book, I have a bunch of questions jotted about Voron and his relationship with Kate's mother, as well as his training of Kate. As in, Kate's description (bliss) seemed un-Kate-like, and why send Mom back to fight Roland when Voron was a Warlord, and doesn't it seem weird that Voron is training the child of the woman he adored to be nothing but a killing machine rather than cherishing her as the last link to his Grand Love?   And all those questions were answer, thanks.  But now I have more, along with an observation from Mark Twain:  two people can keep a secret but only if one of them is dead.  So that big thing Kate and Curran want to keep secret? I have a hard time believing it'll stay that way since Kate, Julie, Curran, Derek, Jezebel, Doc, and multiple witches know what she did.  Also, recurring continuity/content issues irritate me:  Derek howls, despite the fact that readers were told twice in earlier books that his vocal chords were damaged to the point that he can no longer howl; volhv appear....but they were volkhvi in her Saiman novella.  And last but not least:  why was Kate surprised that Curran knew who she was before she told him?  Andrea told everyone what the Scarlet Star was, did Kate think he wouldn't figure it out on his own?  Andrews is a good storyteller and I like the series.  When the books are released, I have to read them ASAP and then go back and re-read favorite parts...but when after the first gulping read, I synthesize what's written and the characters, I come away a little less thrilled.  Maybe I should stop thinking so hard.  B

Bad Company by K.A. Mitchell.  Gay romance.  There's a joint review over at Dear Author that is much more coherent than anything I'm going to say.  *coughs*  Set in Baltimore!  And I'm included on the thank you page!  It's so cool!  And there's a related book coming out in December!  Okay, I'll try to tone this down.  So, there's friends-to-lovers, which I love, and Gay For You, which I don't love so much, but somehow they combine to work.  Kellan is like an overgrown kid, he's that guy you know who has never had to actually buckle down and work, who just sort of skates by using his charm and looks and money.  He's not a bad guy but he's kind of unthinking and immature.  In contrast, Nate never stops thinking and analyzing, and uses his busy brain and campaign-for-good ethos to avoid letting anyone close.  He also is pretty good (or bad) at holding grudges.  Both of them are, in turn, likeable and easily disliked, which made them feel authentic to me.  Which is good, because the set up feels a little unreal at first -- I'll be gay with you to make my dad mad.  Truly, I'm not sure how that is supposed to work, even after rereading Kellan's explanation...except it does work, since his dad is very concerned about image and anything that might harm his company's reputation.  B+/A- 
 
One Was a Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming.  Mystery.  While I enjoyed the mystery portions of this book, I didn't really care for the non-mystery portions.  The small town feel, which I used to appreciate, since it brings more to the series, felt disjointed and overdone to me.  Also, I felt sympathy for Clare at the outset of the novel but lost patience with her about midway through for a couple of spoilerish reasons. The very last scene was so predictable that it might as well have had flashing lights and a siren.  Eh.  Other readers probably enjoyed this book a lot more than I did, and it wasn't badly written or even a departure from the series as a whole...it just didn't work for me.  C+
 
Maybe I'm just too cranky right now to be fair about these books? 
 

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