Malin’s #CBR5 Review #146: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Disclaimer! Disney Hyperion granted me an ARC of this through NetGalley in return for a fair review.

Much as I love the colours and the lush quality of the cover for this book (my husband disagrees with me, he thinks it’s dreadful), it doesn’t actually give a very realistic portrayal of what the book is about. It’s not really floating about in space in a ball gown (but the gown does exist, and Lilac does spend a substantial amount of the story wearing it), or even Titanic in space, as I saw it described elsewhere (although there are obvious nods to the film). So if you’re hoping for that, you may want to adjust your expectations before going in.

Boy meets girl on board the most expensive intergalactic cruise liner in the known universe. Boy and girl have a connection. The next time boy and girl meet, girl viciously rejects boy in front of her friends. Boy is deeply hurt, but this doesn’t stop him from helping her to an escape pod when something goes horribly wrong and the ship they’re on is wrenched out of hyperspace and needs to be evacuated. Boy and girl crash escape pod on nearby planet, and have to make their way across the deserted and sometimes dangerous planet with hardly any supplies, hoping to be rescued.

Our boy is Tarver Mendenson, an 18-year-old officer heavily decorated in the recent war and given special privileges aboard the Icarus because he’s become a poster boy for the army. He’s from a humble background, and not really comfortable in the opulent surroundings and among the wealthy passengers in the first class areas. Our girl is Lilac LaRoux, daughter of the richest man in the universe. Her father owns the Icarus (as well as much of the known universe), and Lilac has learned the hard way that young men who show any kind of interest in her have a nasty way of disappearing. She finds it charming and amazing that Tarver doesn’t know who she is when they first meet, but has to dissuade him from ever talking to her again, lest he find himself suddenly deployed to the front line of another war zone before he knows what hit him. She can’t tell him this, however, and by the time their escape pod crashes, he thinks she’s a spoiled and callous space princess (while mysteriously adept at mechanics) and just wants to be rid of her as quickly as possible.

More on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #145: Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden is now one of the wardens of the White Council of wizards, and he’s about as thrilled about it as many of the wizards on the council are about him being recruited. Harry’s asked to look into rumours of black magic in the Chicago area, and his mentor, Ebenezer McCoy, also requests that he enquire with his faerie contacts about why the Fey Courts are refusing to involve themselves in the conflict with the Red Court of vampires, even after the vampires broke into faerie territories in the Nevernever.

Harry still owes Mab, the Winter Queen, two favours, and his dealings with the Fey never really turn out in his favour. Lily, the new Summer Lady (youngest of the three Summer Queens) owes him a favour, but neither she nor Fix, the Summer Knight, can directly answer Harry’s questions, or aid him, due to a compulsion laid on them by Titania, the Summer Queen, who’s not exactly one of Dresden’s biggest fans. Getting the answers McCoy wants isn’t going to be easy.

The possible black magic use he’s been asked to investigate seems connected with mysterious attacks at a horror movie convention. Molly Carpenter, the teenage daughter of Harry’s friend Michael, comes to him for help. Her boyfriend is the chief suspect after a man was viciously attacked in a bathroom, but claims he’s innocent. Shortly after Harry arrives at the convention to investigate, a number of people are attacked by a seven foot tall assailant who looks just like the killer in the slasher flick recently screened.

Full review.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #144: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher

It’s nearly Halloween (Harry’s birthday) and Harry Dresden is less than thrilled to discover that his friend Police Lieutenant Karrin Murphy is going off to Hawaii with another man. He’s even less thrilled when Mavra, an extremely powerful vampire of the Black Court, who he hoped they’d managed to kill in Blood Rites, turns out not to be dead and is blackmailing him with Murphy’s involvement in the case unless he helps her. If Harry doesn’t find something called the Word of Kemmler in three days, Mavra will make sure Murphy’s career is ruined, and that she may very well face criminal charges because of aid she gave Harry on a mission against the Black Court vampires. Harry obviously can’t let that happen, and so he has no choice but to agree to the vampire’s demands.

Turns out the Word of Kemmler is a book, the last writings of a very powerful and very dangerous, now dead, necromancer and whoever possesses the book will gain access to terrible powers. Harry’s not the only one looking for the Word. Three of Kemmler’s former apprentices are in Chicago, wanting the to be the first to find the book and become the most powerful necromancer of them all.

Full review.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #143: Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

4.5 stars

Disclaimer! Harlequin Teen granted me an ARC of this through NetGalley in return for a fair review.

This is the third in the series of books (both excellent) about troubled teens who become attracted to their seemingly complete opposite. Previous books’ characters appear or are mentioned, but the book works fine on its own too. If you are interested in starting at the beginning, though, start with Pushing the Limits.

Isaiah Walker should be living in foster care, but is secretly living with his best friend Noah (the hero of Pushing the Limits, who’s the only person he really feels close to. However, rent money is hard to come by and if they can’t find enough cash, Noah will have to move into subsidised college housing, while Isaiah has to go back to the indifferent foster parents he was so relieved to escape. He agrees to drive a car in an illegal street race to get extra money, and that’s where he first meets Rachel. More on my blog.

Look What We Got!

When Malin sent a package to Joemyjoe and Bunnybean right at the start of the wonderful Cannonball Holiday Swap, they decided to leave the presents under the tree and open them on Christmas Eve.

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And today, when I opened up a delightful package from The Mama, I was told I MUST DO THE SAME.

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We will report in after opening, but they look wonderful and we are all happy as can be. Thanks!!

 

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #142: No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean

4.5 stars

This is the third book in a series, and while romance novels are normally fine to read out of sequence, some of the really awesome developments in this book lose a lot if you haven’t read the rest of the series. These books are top notch romance, so just do yourself a favour and start at the beginning with A Rogue by Any Other Name. And yes, I know the titles are spectacularly cheesy. I recently discovered in a podcast that these are MacLean’s own puns, not anything imposed on her by the publishers. I don’t know whether to be impressed or slightly worried about her.

The great hulking brute known as Temple also goes The Killer Duke. He is one of four disgraced members of the aristocracy who own luxury gambling club The Fallen Angel. When the rich and foolish have lost too much, and have no other recourse, they can fight Temple in the Angel’s boxing ring. Should they win, all their losses will be restored. Not that anyone ever has, but it never stops them from trying. William Harrow, the Duke of Lamont, shunned by most of polite society because he is suspected of having killed his father’s fiancee, is more than happy to take every beating coming, because he’s honestly not entirely sure he doesn’t deserve his moniker.

Twelve years earlier, he awoke with only the haziest memories of the night before, to discover that the bewitching beauty who’d invited him up to her room was Miss Mara Lowe, his father’s sixteen-year-old child bride and soon to be the Duke’s third wife. There was no sign of the bride, only him, naked in sheets soaked in blood. Never convicted as there wasn’t a body, Temple was nonetheless driven from polite society, and survived in the less prosperous parts of town because of his boxing prowess. Now, walking home one evening, he is approached by a woman revealing herself to be Mara Lowe, who, desperate to escape her wedding, did an incredibly foolish thing twelve years ago, and has been in hiding ever since. More on my blog.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #141: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

In the city state of Camorr, a small group known as the Gentlemen Bastards work and plot and scheme to lure the valuables from gullible nobles. Their cons are always elaborate and intricate, and done in such a way that their victims are too embarrassed to tell anyone about it. Yet most of their peers in the criminal underworld of Camorr believe the Bastards to be petty thieves and pickpockets, nothing remarkable, but loyal and dependable in a fight.

Unfortunately for Locke Lamora, the leader of the little band, and his friends, their current victims start being suspicious of some of the stories they are told, and soon, the head of the secret police is preparing to finally catch the legendary bandit. As if that wasn’t bad enough, someone else has discovered that Locke and his Gentlemen are much more successful criminals than they let on, and use this information to force Locke to help with an attempted power play against the current crime lord of Camorr, Capa Barsavi.

Full review.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #140: Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

I knew I was going to love this book when I pre-ordered it several months ago. There was absolutely no question about it. There is barely a single thing Allie Brosh has ever posted on her website that I haven’t absolutely adored (oh, the hours of my life that site stole when I first discovered it, thanks to a colleague telling me about the Alot.) Even when Allie didn’t update as often any more, it was always a delight when there was something new. So many of the things she wrote about made it feel like she saw the world in exactly the same way I do. We both fear spiders, we both love procrastination on the internet, we both have a mentally challenged animal (one of my cats is a very dim light bulb indeed). Then she wrote about her depression, and it became clear why she wasn’t updating her blog very often.

Her two blog entries about depression (both shared in this book as well as on her website) are among the truest and most recognisable things I have ever read. I was depressed during my final year of university, but after years of medication, seem to have had the luck of getting well again. I’ve experienced some of the things she shares in her stories. I can now show other people what it’s like to live with my husband when he’s having one of his rough spells, which he will keep having on and off for the rest of our lives, because he’s never going to not be depressed, he’s just going to be able to cope with it better during the stable periods. I’ve never met Allie, but I love her for this.

About half of the stuff in the book has already been on Allie’s blog. I love her writing, so this was not a problem for me at all. There is also half a book full of new and amazing material, like her letters to her past selves, that had me laughing so hard my stomach hurt and I had trouble breathing. I have ordered the book as a Christmas present for several of my friends, and I wish I knew more people, just so I could gift them this book. It’s a hilarious and wonderful book, which you will enjoy if you’ve enjoyed the stuff on her site. Just buy it already, to make sure she writes a follow-up. After all, I want the Alot in book form too.

Malin’s #CBR5 Review #139: Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas

Briony Asquith and Leo Marsden grew up on neighbouring estates. Leo loved Briony long before she was even aware of him as anything but the baby Marsden, youngest of four brothers. So when the brilliant, yet socially awkward lady physician proposed to outgoing, talented renaissance man Leo, he was elated, but no one else in society thought it would last. And it didn’t. Growing increasingly more distant and cold from their wedding day, Briony starts to actually recoil from Leo’s touch, and no matter how he tries to get her to open up, physically and emotionally, their marriage seems doomed. When Briony wakes up one morning with a stark white stripe through her dark hair, she files for an annulment.

Three years later, Leo shows up at Briony’s medical clinic in a remote corner of India. Briony’s sister has been writing both of them for years with melodramatic stories trying to push the two back together, but this time he’s fairly certain she’s not lying about Briony’s father’s health being in danger. Much of India is at the the brink of rebellion, and he feels it’s his duty to get Briony back to England safely. Leo doesn’t know exactly why their marriage failed, but he’s convinced it must have been his fault, that he failed or mistreated her in some way.

Briony is not convinced her sister isn’t lying once again, but she also knows that she would never forgive herself if her father dies and she did not try to return to his bedside. She reluctantly goes with Leo, uncomfortable in his presence, but with no other choice of escort. As the couple make their way through the rough Indian countryside, dealing with first Leo’s malaria, then a violent and bloody native rebellion as they seek refuge in a nearby fort, they find that the three years apart may have allowed both of them to heal some of their hurts, and open up lines of communication to the other. Can they finally talk about all the things that made their all too brief marriage so miserable, and maybe begin to forgive each other and themselves? More on my blog.