Miss Kate’s CBRV review #8: Lady of Hay, by Barbara Erskine

Image

OK. This book looked promising to me at first. Part historical fiction, part thriller/romance/fantasy, it seemed the perfect Next Read. But for me it devolved into full-on hate read.

Set in 1980s London, the book centers on Jo Clifford, a “modern, independent career woman”. She is a journalist, and in the course of researching a story on past life regression, she is hypnotized and begins to have visions of life in the 12th century. it turns out that Jo is the reincarnation of Matilda de Braose, wife of William de Braose, actual historical bully, and one of King John’s closest friends.

As she goes deeper and deeper into the investigation, Jo starts to regress automatically. She has no control over when or for how long these sessions last. She gets more and more involved with Matilda’s life, believing that YES, she is Matilda.

This part was interesting. Although a lot of the real Matilda’s life is murky, it’s obvious that the author did her research here. De Braose was a noble with lands in Wales, and was responsible for some pretty gruesome attacks on the local population. He was raised up quickly, and when he angered John (a petulant SOB if there ever was one), he lost everything. While de Braose fled to France, his wife Matilda and oldest son were captured and starved to death at Corfe castle in 1210.

Again, I enjoyed the parts of the book that dealt with Matilda. But Jo was a bore, and my heart sank every time the book switched back from Matilda’s story. Seriously. Jo is supposedly a “strong” woman. How do we know? Because we keep being told this. There’s clearly no evidence of it in over 600 pages, as she really has no personality. Ugh. (I’ve never read Barbara Erskine before, so I can’t say anything about her other work, but I’m not likely to try her again.)

I generally don’t like straight romance novels but I like good writing, so I gave this book a chance. Is this a Romance novel? I don’t know. The “romance” itself was pretty sickening. The men in her life are the Worst. SPOILER! Everyone Jo knows was also regressed. They knew her in the past, all want her now, and at various times they: let themselves into her apartment/hypnotize her against her will/RAPE!/BEAT!/or just creepily take advantage of her. But at no time does this nitwit consider calling the cops or even changing her freaking locks. CHANGE YOUR LOCKS!

She just keeps going back for more. And on. For 600-plus pages. I’d say that this is the author’s commentary on the mindset of an abused woman, but I think that would be giving her too much credit. I honestly believe that Erskine thinks this shit is romantic.

Lady of Hay could also have used an editor – at over 600 pages, I can’t tell you how much time is wasted describing about Jo’s latest linen shift dress or how often she shared dinner and a bottle of wine with Nick despite the fact that he’d tried to strangle her the night before. the story could easily have been told in half the pages. At one point, about 500 pages in, new characters are introduced out of the blue and become important for a hot minute. I liked them, but kept waiting for them to have a purpose. I frankly would have preferred the book to be about them.

Why did I keep reading? Because I’m not a quitter, that’s why. But seriously – if you want to read a good book about the Plantagenets or Wales in the 12th Century then read Sharon Kay Penman. Spare yourself this dreck.

Read more reviews at misskatesays: http://misskatesays.com/2014/01/04/miss-kates-cbrv-review-8-lady-of-hay-by-barbara-erskine/

Advertisements

Teresaelectro’s #CBR5 Review #12: Assassins in Love by Kris DeLake

Assassins in Love is the first in a new series of books written by Kris DeLake.

image

This was obviously another vaginal fantasy pick. I was pretty skeptical based on the title. I had some time to kill before Thanksgiving dinner, so decided to read a few pages. Surprisingly, I was hooked by the second chapter, which made my 82 year old grandmother quite curious to know what the heck I was doing in my room and not helping in the kitchen! The book is told from both assassins’ POV with alternating chapters.

The setup reminded me alot of Mr. and Mrs Smith with Brangelina. Rikki is an independent assassin on job on a cruise spaceship. She’s already done the deed but having trouble desposing of the body through an airlock. Out of nowhere this mysterious and surreally attractive guy, Misha, comes to her rescue. He opens airlock two seconds before guards descend upon them. They pretend to be a drunk couple trying to get it on who hit the button by mistake. Since Misha is a VIP guest, they stroll back to the bar with only a warning. Rikki is speechless (maybe by his beauty) and has to go along with everything until she can escape. But maybe she doesn’t want to escape? Misha too can’t concentrate around her. He’s blown away by her – smart, somehow manages to work freelance when the Guild is a much safer bet, beautiful and suspicious of him. He tells her he wants to recruit her for the Guild. He also mentions they met before. Rikki doesn’t remember him and hates organized groups (too many rules). First chance she gets, she steals an escape pod and runs away from those beautiful ice blue eyes.

I know what you’re thinking, this has cheesy romance written all over it. But actually, there’s a deeper story from when they met originally. It was rather cool following Rikki’s past as her memories slowly return while simultaneously Misha who is completely omniscient about those events dropping clues for her. I also loved this future where assassin work is totally legit if the person has broken the law or wronged someone. Corporations have to stay in line lest a ninja assassin comes out the shadows and wastes them. The attraction between Misha and Rikki started off a bit cheesy since they had to be all over each immediately to save their skins. Even still, they remain suspicous of each other since assassins aren’t supposed to drop their guards. But there’s something they can’t seem to deny in the end. Yes, an attraction, but also a subtle curiousity to learn more about each other.

I would recommend this book for fans of futuristic urban fantasy and action oriented romance novels. The Assassins Guild series continues with completely new characters in the same setting.

Read my other reviews on my tumblr.

narfna’s #CBR5 Review #104: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

outlanderWell . . . that was certainly an experience. Parts of it I LOVED and parts of it were SO WEIRD I didn’t even know what to do with myself.

It’s clear that Gabaldon pretty much wrote whatever the hell she wanted to, ignoring a lot of steadfast  “rules” in the process. The result of this is a book that could fit into dozens of different genres, and that contains dozens of scenes that make you go “wait, did she just write that?”

For those of you not familiar (and I’m betting there are still some of you out there), Outlander is the first book in Diana Gabaldon’s titular series about a nurse from World War II-era England who travels back in time two hundred years to Scotland, and among other things, is accused of being a witch, becomes a healer, is forced to marry a handsome young Scot, and deal with a psychopathic Englishman, all the while dealing with her reduced freedoms as a woman and navigating both the smaller and larger political and historical issues that she alone knows are coming.

It’s a long book, and it’s hard to describe. Even if you think you have a pretty good idea of what to expect, I guarantee there will be at least once scene you won’t see coming at all, and more than one that will make you need to put the book down, like under your pillow or in a freezer or somewhere else that is safe and away from you while you alternatively cool down/stop being weirded out/insert overextended emotion here. It’s a romance, and an extremely well-researched historical novel. And it’s speculative, and a bunch of other shit as well.

And I enjoyed it. And I was weirded out by it. And it made me need to go take a cold shower.

The most notable thing about it, of course, is the central romance between our time-traveling heroine Claire and young Scottish virgin, Jamie Fraser, which was extremely swoonworthy, excepting one notable scene involving corporal punishment. I realize Gabaldon needed to have Jamie conform to time-specific ideas about male/female relationships, but I really think I needed to see Claire be more vocal about refusing to be subjected to anything like that in the future, and I needed to see Jamie agree. The scene at the end with Jamie and Randall was . . . interesting. And I’m still not entirely sure what the point of all of it was.

Also, there was probably more sex in this book than in any other book I’ve ever read. Just . . . there’s so much of it. So, so much of it. I kind of wish she’d been a little more spare with it, because after the first three or four times so close together, the scenes sort of began to lose their spark.

Anyway, I’ll definitely be continuing with this series, but probably not until after the first season of the TV show airs on Starz next year. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what Ron Moore can do with this story (and with it being on Starz, I’m sure the sex scenes will get their due as well).

And with that, I have finished my Double Cannonball goal for the year, and so now I shall go collapse into my bed and not wake up until Thursday.

Sophia’s #CBR5 Review #68: Suddenly You by Lisa Kleypas

Suddenly YouI picked up Suddenly You (2001) by Lisa Kleypas because I was still craving some romance after finishing Julie Anne Long’s I Kissed an Earl. It’s not that I disliked I Kissed an Earl, but I kept waiting for a comforting kind of intimacy that I never found. Apparently I have very specific needs for my romance. Thus, with my romance craving unfulfilled, I tried another one.

Continued…

Teresaelectro’s #CBR5 Review #10: The Angel Stone by Juliet Dark

The Angel Stone is the final chapter of the Fairwick Chronicles trilogy See my previous reviews here and here. Beware small spoilers to follow!

Callie McFay is a literature professor (at only 27, mind you) at a small liberal arts college in New England. In the previous books, she discovers her father was fey and her mother a powerful witch, their frowned upon union giving birth to her. On top of her mixed supernatural heritage, she is a doorkeeper – born with the power to open the door between Faerie and the human realm. She fell in love with not one (an irish professor named Liam) but two! (a handyman named Bill) incarnations of an incubus. Apparently, it was true love which restored the demon lover to his former human form. Shame it was two seconds before his throat was cut by a nasty fallen angel. Book 2 ends with Callie losing her true love and the door to Faerie closed forever…or is it?

image

And so begins book 3 with things looking very bleak for the sleepy town of Fairwick. All the supernatural professors including the former dean were forced to return to Faerie leaving the school open for a fallen angel aka nephilim takeover. Duncan Laird is the big bad from book 2 and now has become dean, formed a fraternity full of bastard nephilim boys. It reminded me of the fifth Harry Potter novel, everything becomes more and more unbearable for the characters with each turning page.  In similar fashion, Callie and the remaining supernaturals in town form a secret resistance and vow to find a door to Faerie to uncover the angel stone, the only weapon again the nephilim.

I would recommend this novel for fans of scottish fairy tales, nephilim myths and novels about true love that doesn’t involve abstinence.

Read the full book review on my blog.

Sophia’s #CBR5 Review #67: I Kissed an Earl by Julie Anne Long

I Kissed an EarlAfter reviewing, The Runaway Duke by Julie Anne Long, Mrs. Julien recommended that I move on to Long’s Pennyroyal Green Series. Dutifully following her expert opinion, I picked up I Kissed an Earl (2010)–one of the middle books of the series–I think. I chose this one primarily because it was immediately available on Kindle from my library.

Violet Redmond is beautiful, smart, spoiled, and bored. She is used to attention and getting whatever she wants. She is also very loyal and loving to her family. So when she discovers that her missing brother might actually be rampaging the seas as the notorious pirate Le Chat, she springs into action to find him and protect him.

Violet’s plan involves sneaking onto the ship of the man ordered by the king to capture Le Chat–the recently appointed Earl of Ardmay. With naivety and optimism, Violet believes she can find her brother and figure out what’s going on before the Earl–thereby saving her brother from a hangman’s noose. Although I found this rather unbelievable, it did get Violet and the Earl on the same ship with cross purposes, guaranteeing some strife and betrayal.

I had mixed feelings about this book, so it might be easiest if I split it up into likes and dislikes.

Read the details here.

Teresaelectro’s #CBR5 Review #9: Thorn Queen by Richelle Mead

I voraciously consumed the Georgina Kincaid series by Richelle Mead. Meaning when I came across the Dark Swan books, I was instantly intrigued. Storm Born was an easy read with another kick-ass female protagonist – a shaman named Eugenie Markham. However, the tone of this series seemed far more serious than a succubus demon with romance problems. Nevertheless, I delved into the second book, Thorn Queen with no expectations.

In the first book, Eugenie discovers her father was the brutal, all powerful Storm King. A prophecy foretells she will deliver a male heir who will rule both the human dimension and the Otherworld. Thus, she must continually fight off creatures trying to impregnate her by any means necessary (i.e. rape). None of the supernaturals seem to have heard of birth control, which could totally throw a wrench in the works. Eugenie simply decides to never have kids and stay vigilant with her pill. Voila. Apocalypse averted. [small spoiler] At the climax of this first book, when Eugenie defeats an evil king, she inherits a kingdom in the Otherworld that is physically and emotionally tied to her, even when she’s crossed over by to the human world. This means she immediately and at no warning from her sexy OtherWorld tutor/ally King Dorian transforms the lush land into a desert. Almost a near replica of her Tuczon, AZ home in the human world.

 

image

At the start of Thorn Queen Eugenie doesn’t want to be Queen of anything. She is afraid of the strong storm magic from her evil father who liked to murder people with lightening for fun. She rather keep her that part of her locked away, content with her semi-uneventful shamanistic existence. But she can’t give up her kingdom that easy. If she’s in the human world too long, the land literally suffers without her – a fierce drought has taken hold of the land and the fae have no irrigation systems. She takes pity on them and is eventually talked into harnessing some power to call rain for crops. Too bad, she’s pretty shit at it. Raw storms with killing lightening come natural, but seasonal rain not so much.

She calls again upon Dorian for help, who says in not so many worlds he still wants to bang her, but only willingly. And she’ll thank him for it. Talk about sure of yourself. In the end, since he likes her and is such a nice guy, he agrees to help her with no strings attached. Eugenie still suspicious demands a female teacher this time around since things got a little hot and heavy last time. So Dorian offers to lend his number 1 mistress to teach her magic. And let me tell ya, that lady is NOT pleased. Eugenie is offended but decides to get in a few quickie sessions. The plan is to learn air and water magic, call some rain, abdicate that throne and get the hell out of dodge. Leaving behind the temptation for power (and sex from Dorian) in the Otherworld. In the human world, she lives with her veterinarian/shapeshifting fox boyfriend who just moved in with her. However, even that situation is a bit of a pickle. His ex-girlfriend Faery queen is having his baby back in the Otherworld. These fae don’t get pregnant often and consider babymaking a dying art.

In summary, this Eugenie gal has to contend with a new kingdom, powerful seductive magic, hot Dorian, also hot boyfriend, potential supernatural rapists and figuring how to give up said kingdom. Throw in a mystery of disappearing girls and we got shitload of subplots going on in this book. Mead surprisingly juggles all these stakes quite well. I was way more engaged than with the first book. Instead of being afraid of the Otherworld, Eugenie feels a motherly allegiance for her kingdom especially when she learns innocent girls are being kidnapped. And with the prophecy, there is this undercurrent of anxiety with her every move. She could be seduced by her own power and embrace that dark prophecy at any moment. We do see a glimpse of her power, but of course we must wait until book 3 to see how it all unfolds.

A few spoiler-free reviews on goodreads have me quite apprehensive about the last book saying it took a horrible near offensive turn. So naturally, I’m curious for Iron Crowned but not sure I’m up for a character sabotage. Definitely at the bottom of my library wishlist.

Read my other reviews and musings on my blog.