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Nora Roberts – D. C. Detectives consists of Sacred Sins and Brazen Virtue. As you might guess it follows two homicide detectives in suspense (serial killers, naturally) and romance. It was published in the late 80s, which makes many aspects dated.

Bottom line: read only if working through all the Nora Roberts books.

In sacred sins there is suspense and romance. The suspense is surprisingly good; the romance so so. There is some violence,  no sexual assault. I liked the heroine and hero, though I thought the romance rather forced.  3 stars.

Brazen virtue  takes a nosedive from sacred sins. Ed, who in the first book is appealing and funny, becomes one dimensional and in some cases downright weird. Grace is very appealing – in every scene that isn’t a romantic one. There are a lot of pages on people who will die shortly, which I find annoying. The serial killer is revealed to the reader very early. Almost no character development. Very violent with serial killer point of view. No suspense. In short, 0 stars.

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“Love is like a lot of things, it is always best done with the head. Save mindless efforts for mindless things.”-Raymond E Feist, Magician: Master

I reread the entire Riftwar Saga. It is still as good as I remember 🙂

MagicianSilverthornA Darkness at Sethanon

What I most liked about it then, and still like about it now, is that plans don’t always turn out as expected, and the books take truly unpredictable turns. Instead of the standard “orphan turns magician and weds the beautiful princess” that it starts with, the Magician needs to go through a lot to become the magician, he doesn’t wed the princess (oops, spoiler) and so many other things and people come into it and make it even more interesting: monks, priests, aliens, tigers, eagles, dragons, giant ants, centaurs, elves, dwarves, you name it. And a really great story.

Even the quote above illustrates this. Instead of “follow your heart” and “go with the flow” and “the heart wants what the heart wants” the message is “leave mindless efforts for mindless things.” Beautiful!

5 stars.

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Me Before You

From the back:

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane. Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that. What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

I bought this on sale with Nora Roberts’ The Liar. The saleslady recommended it after seeing me with the Nora Roberts, so I assumed it would be a romance novel in the same style.

That’s what you get when you don’t do your research. This book made me cry like a baby.

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Immediately after I read it, I thought the book was amazing. However, afterwards I remembered why I don’t like tear jerkers. I really hate the feeling that the author’s entire point is making me cry. And in addition, this feels sooo predictable, with the girl who is secretly hurt meeting someone with a terminal illness. Now, Jojo Moyes writes this trite plot truly amazingly, with wit and feeling and even laugh-out-load moments; but it’s still a trite plot.

To top it all, it annoyed me on a completely different level as well. [Spoiler! Select following text to see spoilers]Our Heroine, Louisa, tries to convince Will that his life is worth living by showing him that he can still have fun even in his state. Seriously? Fun is a purpose for living? I don’t think there are many people who say, “My life sucks and I feel terrible, but it’s worth getting up in the morning because I can go to the horse races!” People need a goal, a purpose. Will has practically unlimited money, and he teaches Louisa a lot. Why doesn’t he teach an online course? Mentor troubled teens? Teach the art of taking over companies? Learn how to program using specialized software and create apps for the disabled? *Sigh*.

So.

If you like tear jerkers (nobody’s perfect, after all 😉 ): 5 stars.

If you don’t, don’t read it.

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone

I haven’t been in a mood to read new books lately, I’ve been sticking to old favorites – comfort books. But I did read this gem.

On the back:

” ‘Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.’ The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things. When Brimstone called, she always came. In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole. Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.”

This isn’t exact, but it does express the general concept of the book. However, it doesn’t do justice to the witty writing style, the depth of the characters, and the laugh out load moments. I admit to a certain disappointment when I realized that this wasn’t a fantasy with romantic overtones but half fantasy, half romance; but this was more than made up for as the story unfolded and additional mysteries were revealed. But be warned: It’s the first of a trilogy.

In short, read it. 5 stars.

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I’ll tell you something in confidence, just between us. I hate epic series.

I hate the waiting for the new book; I hate that by the 4th (or 5th, or 10th, or…) book you can’t remember what the point  was to begin with; I hate that authors loose their way and begin making up new people and problems that weren’t planned; I hate the endless quality of epics, where things just keep on happening and happening and happening…

In spite of this, I did read the Way of Kings, because it’s Brandon Sanderson. And I was stunned with the depth and texture and general wonderfulness of Way of Kings, so I also got this second book, Words of Radiance.

And while I still hate epic series, I love the Stormlight Archive. Each book so far could double as a door stopper, and still it’s gripping, and funny, and sad, and opens a completely different and new (though not necessarily brave) new world. The genius of Sanderson (so far, at least) is that he knows where he’s going, and he knows why he’s mentioning this scene in this place, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it won’t disappoint me like all the other epics.

In short: so far, so amazing. Go read it. 5 stars.

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The Rosie Project

Blurb from the back: “Love isn’t an exact science – but no one told Don Tillman. A thirty-nine-year-old geneticist, Don’s never had a second date. So he devises the Wife Project, a scientific test to find the perfect partner. Enter Rosie – ‘the world’s most incompatible woman’ – throwing Don’s safe, ordered life into chaos. But what is this unsettling, alien emotion he’s feeling?”

I heard about this everywhere. In every book store I went to, everyone was like, “This is sooo hilarious! you should totally read it!” So I did. Unfortunately, after all the build up, I expected a book that would leave me rolling around on the floor laughing, and that wasn’t the case. Don’t get me wrong, it was funny (like the line in my quote for the new week). But a lot of it was in a “comedy of errors” way, and I don’t like that so much. Also, I’m kind of sick of people using Asperger’s to get laughs. While for us it might be funny that Don doesn’t get social cues at all, for people with Asperger’s it’s just how they are. As my son was suspected of having Asperger’s by some half-baked psychologists and teachers for a short while, it probably isn’t funny for their family members, either.

Once I lowered my expectations, I got a few chuckles out of this, and it was quite amusing. But I’m not going to run to get The Rosie Effect (book II) in the near future. 3.5 stars.

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There was a sale I couldn’t resist at a local bookstore, so I bought this (and quite a few more… 😕 ).

Shelby’s husband has just died. And she discovers he left her up to her eyeballs in debt, that he lied to her about putting aside money for their daughter, that the jewelry he has given her is fake, and that he had passports under different names…Did the man she was married to even exist?

On the plus side, the characters were engaging, including all the parents, siblings, friends  and grandparents. The romance works and the story is gripping.

On the minus side, the villain was so obvious even I figured it out about a third of the way through the book (and I’m usually surprised till the end!) and to hear the characters go “I wonder who can it be?” made me wonder if they were brain dead. In addition, I found this book similar to Hot Rocks (the first part of Remember When). Not enough to feel sorry I bought it, but enough to leave a slightly bitter aftertaste when finished reading.

So bottom line: 3.5 stars. Buy it on sale 😉

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“It takes A.J. several Google searches to determine bathing protocol: appropriate temperature bath water two-year-old; can a two-year-old use grown up shampoo?; how does a father go about cleaning a two-year-old’s girl’s private parts without being a pervert?; how high to fill tub – toddler; how to prevent a two-year-old from accidentally drowning in tub; general rules for bath safety, and so on.” – from “The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry“, by Gabrielle Zevin

Dry humor, the amazing stuff you can find on Google, the unbelievable complexity of day to day life with a toddler, and the great care that A.J. takes over the first bath he gives 25 month old Maya. And this is only one paragraph.

A.J. Fikry owns a failing bookshop. He just lost his wife. His life is a wreck. Maya is the baby left in A.J.’s bookshop with a note. Amelia is a book rep with a big heart. This is their story. In addition to their story, every chapter is connected to a different short story, and there are lots of references to other books and how important books are in one’s life. This was touching without being maudlin, very funny, provided a lot of food for thought, and a list of books I’d like to read 🙂 It also reawakened my interest in short stories. I hate short stories, I always get the feeling they stopped in the middle. But maybe I was simply reading the wrong ones…

In short: 5 stars. Go read it.

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“You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question: What is your favorite book?” – The Storied life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin.

A book review will come soon, but in the meantime here’s food for thought. Do you agree?

I’m not sure I do, because I don’t think I have a favorite book. I like so many and it really depends on my mood. If I was against the wall, I think I would say “Watership Down” by Richard Adams, but there are so many more: “Monstrous Regiment” by Terry Pratchett; Mistborn Series of Brandon Sanderson; “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee; “A Solitary Blue” by Cynthia Voigt; “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster;…

What do you think?

Have a great week!

Picture by Abhi Sharma. Thanks for publishing under creative commons license!

Picture by Abhi Sharma. Thanks for publishing under creative commons license!

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I found “I Am Number Four” in my local library after I saw the movie, so I took it. It tells the story of nine alien teenagers, the Loric, who grow up on Earth because another alien race, the Mogadorians, destroyed their home planet. Their job is to stay alive and save Earth which is next on the Mogadorian’s list. To protect them, the Loric children have numbers instead of names, and they can only be killed in order. Three have already been killed. This is the story of Number Four.

The story is interesting and the characters good, but I found the style grating. It’s written in first person in the present tense, and I found it too wooden – like the characters are reading a script out loud rather than describing their experience. It was nice, but no more. 3 stars.

Then I found “The Rise of Six” and “The Power of Nine”. The style is still grating, but much better. The story unfolds and becomes more interesting and more convoluted. Definitely bumped up to 4 stars.

I assumed it was a trilogy for some reason, so I was really surprised when “The Rise of Nine” didn’t finish the story. So I went to Wikipedia and found that it’s a series of seven books (a septology? Good enough for me 😉 ). Now I have had very bad experiences with septologies – at some point the author gets to the point where you can actually hear him go “Wait, how did I plan to finish this?” and the rest goes down the drain 😦 (Yes, I’m looking at you, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series). So I was very disappointed.

In the meantime I found in my Library the fourth and fifth books, “The Fall of Five” and “The Revenge of Seven”, so I read them. Still on the 4 star mark.

And then I found (again on Wikipedia, and its references) that the books are written by Full Fathom Five, a company meant to churn out young adult science fiction novels, established by James Frey. That in itself is not a problem, Nancy Drew was built the same way. But Full Fathom Five takes students (probably explains the grating style…), pays them $250 per book (seriously? that doesn’t even cover a month’s rent!) and makes them sign a contract stating that they will never mention their names in connection to the books they write.

What?

You want ghostwriters who will never mention their name? Get professional ghostwriters and pay them properly. You want cheap labor? Get students and allow them to get experience and fame, and pay them enough to cover their rent. But this?

So, I haven’t linked these books to the book depository as I usually do, and I have no intention of buying them. Ever. I realize it’s a drop in the ocean, they’re already on the bestseller list… but they will never be on my shelves.

TL;DR: Good 4 star YA science fiction novels. Read them at your library.

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