Wednesday, August 31, 2022

No Greywalker For Me


"Harper Blaine was your average small-time P.I. until a two-bit perp's savage assault left her dead for two minutes. When she comes to in the hospital, she sees things that can only be described as weird-shapes emerging from a foggy grey mist, snarling teeth, creatures roaring.

But Harper's not crazy. Her "death" has made her a Greywalker- able to move between the human world and the mysterious cross-over zone where things that go bump in the night exist. And her new gift is about to drag her into that strange new realm-whether she likes it or not."

Whew, chile. What and where do I go from here? Listen, I got about 51 pages into FINALLY reading Kat Richardson's Greywalker before I decided to bail. And I mean my reading spirit was absolutely flooded to the brim with disinterest along this 51-page mark. Despite desiring to read the book for years (and owning it for probably longer), things just didn't work.

So where did it all go wrong for me, personally?

  • Harper Blaine is the first-person main protagonist, and had a voice about as gray as the title itself. Some books can have a decent voice but a good premise to work with. Sometimes it's the opposite, but the voice keeps you glued. Here, Ms. Blaine didn't seem to come alive on the page. It's one of those cases where the author sees his or her character's liveliness differently than the reader, for sure. Which is natural, just like the impression of his or her character will not land with all readers. Blaine didn't land with me. I get the hard-boiled outlook, but she wasn't giving me much else. 

CHOP IT UP: Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

In my recent travels to help satiate this nostalgic need to read urban fantasy books–per my discovery of the genre in 2007–I have finally read Seanan McGuire's Rosemary and Rue. This is the first book in her October Daye series. Ms. Daye is a half-human half-fae P.I. residing in San Francisco. Nonetheless, being born a mixture of the two, October lives between both the human world and the fae world. P.I. profession aside, there was a time she was a check-out clerk at a local grocery store, alongside a time when she could travel through gateways into fae dwellings. Cool stuff. Right? Well, indeed it was–though I had some problems. 

As far as plot/story, the prologue gives readers a moment into October's role as a P.I. She's on a tracking mission, which ultimately finds her cursed into the body of a koi fish for fourteen years. In the meantime, she's lost her family, which consists of her human husband and child. Essentially, it is believed she ran away from her family or was killed. Anyway, fourteen years later the curse has lifted and she's back in the world anew. And while her family has moved on, October has to start completely over without them. With the help of one duchess-like fae woman named Evening, October slowly gets back on her feet. And it's here that the same woman who helped October finds herself hunted down and assassinated. But not before cursing October to solve her murder and bring her killer(s) to fae justice. Or, heck, justice in general.

So, what were my aforementioned problems?

·    There was a big deal about how October was a private investigator who did pretty dang well for herself. Well, having taken on this new mission to solve a fellow fae's murder, October seemed rather sloppy as a detective to me. Blame it on her being in the body of a koi fish for fourteen years. Blame it on her readjustment to not being so. Blame it on something. Sure. But, otherwise, she wasn't so great at it. To me, she couldn't seem to infer much. Was constantly caught off guard. Suffered multiple bullet wounds and continued to fight her way through bleeding set piece moments. No discernment. No intuition. But there is a reason for that: the actual investigation and plot lacked much for her to even work with. Even so, I wasn't being sold on October's detective abilities. It came across as a vanity title stitched along like many urban fantasy protagonists.


Sunday, August 28, 2022

Lies of Descent Let Down

"The Fallen Gods' War drove the remnants of a victorious army across the ocean in search of a new homeland. A thousand years later, the lifeless continent of Draegora is largely forgotten, a symbol for the regiments that remain. Demons to some. Protectors to others. The power of their god-touched blades has forged a nation, though many resent their absolute control.
Riam and Nola are unknowing descendants of the old world. When it’s discovered they carry enough Draegoran blood to serve in the regiments, they are dragged away from their families to begin training. If they survive, they will be expected to enforce the laws of the covenant, to fight the Esharii tribesmen who raid along the border, and to be judge, jury, and executioners for those accused of crimes.
For Riam, who welcomes his escape from an abusive father, the power to protect those who cannot defend themselves is alluring. For Nola, who wishes to return home, it is a betrayal by all she holds dear.
Neither is given a choice...and neither may ever get the chance to serve."

So let me be clear: THIS BOOK HAD FULL COMMAND OF MY ATTENTION WITHIN THE FIRST 70 PAGES. Unfortunately, by page 136, I could no longer deny the loss of interest. Bad news came in and just never left. So what happened? Well, the worldbuilding portion had gleamings, glimmerings, and gatherings of an indigenous/Native American/tribal nature or coloring to it. Different tribes. Different customs. So forth and so on and a touch icky in all its killing and slaying of each. However, I got tired of trying to keep up with this setting, along with the bloodthristy faction tribes and customs. I got tired of the killing between each tribe, and just the conflict in general. For a moment I found them all villians. Then I began to pick up on what the author was actually obscuring.

Sidebar: There was a scene featuring giant, homicidal wasps that just… did… not… work… for me. As they were attacking, I was thinking to myself “where is this coming from”?

Then there was an issue with the POV. Two young characters carry the overall story. One is named Riam, the other is Nola. While they find themselves together on their journey's start, eventually they are split apart and so goes the adventure I was actually looking forward to reading. Nevertheless, Riam’s narrative grew increasingly boring to me without Nola to bounce off of. His narrative started off really well, as readers got to look into the trauma surrounding his home life. Same applied for Nola, though within a happier context.

However, the more time Riam and the story itself spent away from Nola's perspective, the more my disinterest grew. I suppose I needed a balancing of perspectives to keep the pacing and suspense afloat as a reader watching this world unfold between the two. During the extensive brackets of time spent within Riam’s story, I wish the author took some kind of cue to push in Nola's narrative to keep the interest going. Now it's true I didn't get far enough to witness any changes, but Nola had a breadcrumb moment and from within the pages I've read I was too hungry for more of the loaf. In short, I needed balance to carry me though. And I believe the reversal in perspectives would result in the same feeling, because my issues weren't so much with the characters of Riam and Nola themseleves. As a matter-of-fact, it was the bellicose tribes people who did it in for me. Along with all the cryptic messaging regarding gods and change and evolution and all that jazz.

So, ever inpatient and desperate to find out what the author had in mind for Nola, I did something I hardly ever do. What's that? I peeked at the spoilers. I figured I was done with the story anyway. So why not? Nevertheless, what was Nola’s direction and fate? Well, let’s just say when I found out she was supposed to be a vessel of sorts I immediately was like "forget this, man." The whole women's bodies as obligatory birthing vessels to "usher in a new dawn" just ain’t it for me, personally. I was instantly troubled and sad for Nola.

With this information, I wanted to cry for Nola and the story I was hoping I was getting involving two teens going on a journey together to change the world (ala T. A. Barron or something). But in all the DNF'ing, I realized for those stories I was better left looking into the middle-grade and young adult section. And I'm cool with that.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Just a Reminder: Shanora Williams...

 ... Lastest pyschologically thriller, The Wife Before, has been out. I'm late to have gotten my copy, but I have it (can't keep up with everything, man). The synopsis reads as (according to Amazon)...

"Samira Wilder has never had it easy, and when her latest lousy job goes south, things only promise to get harder. Until she unexpectedly meets a man who will change her life forever. Renowned pro golfer Roland Graham is wealthy, handsome, and caring, and Samira is dazzled. Best of all, he seems to understand her better than anyone ever has. And though their relationship moves a bit fast, when Roland proposes, Samira accepts. She even agrees to relocate to his secluded Colorado mansion. After all, there’s nothing to keep her in Miami, and the mansion clearly makes him happy. Soon, they are married amid a media firestorm, and Samira can't wait to make a fresh start—as the second Mrs. Graham . . .

Samira settles into the mansion, blissfully happy—until she discovers long-hidden journals belonging to Roland’s late wife, Melanie, who died in a tragic accident. With each dusty page, Samira comes to realize that perhaps it was no accident at all—that perhaps her perfect husband is not as perfect as she thought. Even as her trust in Roland begins to dwindle and a shadow falls over her marriage and she begins to fear for her own life, Samira is determined to uncover the truth of Melanie’s troubled last days. But even good wives should know that the truth is not always what it seems . . ."
It's giving Daphne du Maurier Rebecca vibes–though possibly the Black version. Regardless, if it's anything like her last book, The Perfect Ruin, I know it'll be goooooooooodddddddddd.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Another Elizabeth Moon Book Fail (For Me)

Freakin' WOWZERS on this DNF–as of now–experience. I landed on The Sheepfarmer’s Daughter (The Deed of Paksenarrion Trilogy, Book 1) by Elizabeth Moon. The experience didn’t exactly fair well. I found myself bored about 30 pages into the book. The main character, Paks, was written just too dry for my taste. Her stance was to run away from her life as a farmer's daughter, as well as her father's controlling ways. He wants Paks to marry a pig farmer. Paks, on the other hand, desires to become a warrior or mercenary. Therefore, as many stories like this one goes, Paks runs away from home to enlist in an army to fulfill her dreams. 

The issue is that I didn't know what drove her to choose this profession, outside of her acknowledging how her cousin was a warrior. The expansive issue I had was that I found Paks severely lacking in personality. This made it incredibly hard to engage with the story when neither her motivation nor personality didn't seem to be catching any wind. So with battle after battle approaching, I didn’t see the need to hang around any further.

Unfortunately, this is my second attempt at experiencing Elizabeth Moon's work. I tried to read her science-fiction space opera book, Trading in Danger, back in 2018. That book had the same issues as The Sheepfarmer’s Daughter where I found the main character rather dry and boring.

Nevertheless, I am going to regard The Sheepfarmer’s Daughter as the same as Trading in Danger with a “for another day”. Then promptly pick up something else.

Monday, August 22, 2022

My 1st Salvatore = A DNF

"When Aoleyn loses her parents, she is left to fend for herself among a tribe of vicious barbarians. Bound by rigid traditions, she dreams of escaping to the world beyond her mountain home.

The only hope for achieving the kind of freedom she searches for is to learn how to wield the mysterious power used by the tribe’s coven known as the Song of Usgar. Thankfully, Aoleyn may be the strongest witch to have ever lived, but magic comes at price. Not only has her abilities caught the eye of the brutish warlord that leads the tribe, but the demon of the mountain hunts all who wield the Coven’s power, and Aoleyn’s talent has made her a beacon in the night."

Here’s a bit of an unfortunate truth: I’ve recently DNF’ed my non-way through my first attempt at reading an R. A. Salvatore book. The book was Child of a Mad God; found in the bargain section of a local bookstore. The cover art drew my attention, as it gave me Horizon Zero Dawn vibes (to a hesitant degree).

Unfortunately, the book didn’t work for me after 65 pages. I couldn’t feel the characters, setting, and premise out! From as much I’d gathered, the story is fairly brutal and dark in its magical “prehistoric” tone. And, yet, the further I read the more I could not connect. The further I read, the more my urgency to bail rose because I could not see myself investing in this 600-something-page story. I think the biggest offender arrived in how the story didn't lead with the main character, Aoleyn. I went in hoping to be driven through the story through the character of Aoleyn, whose name is a little too close to Aloy from the Horizon series. I could have stuck around if she was presented more. Instead, all of the setup, world-building, views, staging, and so on were illustrated and driven through the perspective of a host of side characters. Not that that was a direct issue, but it wasn't what I was hungry for. Child of a Mad God didn't lead with Aoleyn in the center, and I just didn’t feel like waiting page after page for her to stand in the spotlight as the guide to this expansive world/story waiting before me.

With that said, I did not want to abandon this author. So I found one of these recommended classic offerings instead…

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Author Nadine Matheson is back with Inspector Anjelica Henley #2

Here we are a year later with the second Inspector Anjelica Henley book, The Binding Room, by UK author, Nadine Matheson. The book came out a few weeks ago in July, but right on time as it follows up Anjelica’s story post the first book, The Jigsaw Man.

Taken from Amazon:

Detective Anjelica Henley confronts a series of ritualistic murders in this heart-pounding thriller about race, power and the corrupt institutions that threaten us

When Detective Anjelica Henley is called to investigate the murder of a popular preacher in his own church, she discovers a second victim, tortured and tied to a bed in an upstairs room. He is alive, but barely, and his body shows signs of a dark religious ritual.

With a revolving list of suspects and the media spotlight firmly on her, Henley is left with more questions than answers as she attempts to untangle both crimes. But when another body appears, the case takes on a new urgency. Unless she can apprehend the killer, the next victim may just be Henley herself.

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