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MandyM

MandyM

Stuff I'm reading... Mostly romance and Scifi/Fantasy.

Merry Christmas All

 

 

My top ten reads of the year

The Hook Up - Kristen Callihan Flight of Magpies - K.J. Charles Shaking the Sugar Tree - Nick Wilgus Champion of the Scarlet Wolf Book One (Cadeleonian Series, #3) - Ginn Hale The Witch with No Name - Kim Harrison The Martian - Andy Weir The Blade Itself - Joe Abercrombie

My top 10 reads in 2014 (is it too early?)

 

I haven’t checked my bookshelves. I’m just going by what I can remember so it should be a good representation of the stories that really stayed in my mind. I’m counting down from 10 so my most favourite will be last.

 

10: All the fanfiction I’ve read this year.

Thank you all.

 

9: Transcendence by Shay Savage

A P2P Twilight fanfic that is really unusual. It has plenty of flaws but it’s written from the POV of a caveman, whose limited intellect and imagination makes a great cloudy lens through which to view the heroine’s story. And the ending was lovely. A combination of feel good and plot twist that brought happy and sad tears to my eyes at the same time.

 

8: Red Dirt Heart by N.R. Walker

I know the Outback so well and this story brings it to vivid life. I think my own ambivalence about living in remote areas really made me anxious about the heroes gaining their HEA which just enhanced the realism of the story for me. Click here for some spectacular scenes of station life that are probably very similar to Charlie Sutton's.

 

7: The Hook Up by Kristen Callihan

Whoda thunk it. A great New Adult novel. I didn’t think they existed. Ticked all my contemporary romance boxes.

Feisty independent heroine. Tick.

Determined smart hero. Tick.

Angst. Tick.

Great sex. Tick.

Humour. Tick.

 

6: Flight Of Magpies by K.J. Charles

Don’t you just love it when the last book in a series is the best. This fascinating and sexy paranormal trilogy is brought home with a bang. I liked the way that the tables were turned and this time it was Lord Crane’s ‘superpowers’ (his arrogance and nobility) which won the day.

 

5: Shaking The Sugar Tree by Nick Wilgus

An unconditional love story between lonely dad Wiley Cantrell and his deaf son Noah. Oh and there’s a grownup love story for Wiley too. This book is a full immersion experience in America’s Deep South. The way the characters talk, walk, and think. The places. The down-home welcoming feel. The cray-cray. The strong religious undertones. Wiley is sex personified. I fell for him hook, line and sinker. It also has some great lines including this one which is my favourite of the year:

“We don’t hide crazy,” I said. “We put it on the porch and let it entertain the neighbors.”

 

4: Champion Of The Scarlet Wolf by Ginn Hale

My love affair with fantasy continues with this adventurous and romantic tale from the best fantasy author in mm romance. It’s set in the same world as her Lord Of The White Hell books. This book is not available on Amazon for… I dunno… reasons. Maybe the authors are taking an ethical stance against multinational corporations. But I really miss having other people to talk to about how much I love this series and world. *pouts*

 

3: The Witch With No Name (last book in a 13 book series) by Kim Harrison

I learned an excellent lesson from this urban fantasy series. Always check the average ratings on books in series. If the ratings are getting higher as the series progresses that’s a great sign that the series is going to be worth reading. In this case there were some less enjoyable books earlier on but the author brings it home brilliantly. She never loses sight of who her character is and where the story is going. The romantic arc is ultimately extremely satisfying. I only discovered this series in 2014 so reading all these books took up a big slice of my reading time this year. I was in reading heaven for weeks.

 

2: The Martian by Jeff Weir

The sexiest thing in the world is intelligence. And my God this author is one sexy beast. Many times while reading this my brain just seized up and I could only stare unseeing at the wall while I tried to comprehend the vastness of scientific knowledge the author must have to be able to write this story. Hard Scifi is my favourite kind and this is a brilliant example. Amazing. Totally believable. Edge of your seat action and thrills. Gonna be a KICKASS movie!

 

drumroll

 

1: The Blade Itself (The First Law series – book 1 of 3 books) by Joe Abercrombie.

I saw a discussion from some rabid fantasy fans about a fantasy sub genre called Grimdark. They were raving about this series saying how different it was and how Grimdark was the Next Big Thing so I decided to give it a go. I can only describe my reaction to this series as visceral. Even now thinking about it my hands are feeling clammy and I feel a mix of anxiety and excitement.

 

The characterisation is incredible. I have never met fictional characters like Glokta and Logen before. The author introduces you to these amazingly twisted damaged COMPLEX people and makes you despise them utterly, then start to understand them, then want them to survive, then even love them passionately, before ripping the floor from under your feet.

 

It contains the best action scenes I’ve ever read and it is dark. So very dark. It’s like the anti-Tolkein which is apparently the goal of Grimdark. These authors even refuse to supply maps with their series, the bastards! After book 1 I had no intention of reading on but I seriously couldn’t sleep thinking about Logen for 2 nights so I had to read the remaining 2 books, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument Of Kings.

 

I hated it. But I loved it a billion times more.

For all the Grammar Nerds out there!

Hard Feelings

Hard Feelings - Ashlyn Kane, Morgan James

Solid, easy-to-read romance. 

Sequel to Yakuza Pride

Yakuza Pride - H.J. Brues

For any fans of this book I received an email from the author with some news about a sequel:

 

"I'm e-mailing you to let you know that I took your words to heart and wrote a sequel to Yakuza Pride, with its main focus on Kinosuke and Kotaro. Of course Kenshin, Shigure, and the rest of the guys are there too, but the starring roles go to the younger yakuza this time.
 
The title of the new story is Yakuza Courage, and it will be released in August--with its Hawaiian setting, it had to come out in summer.
 
I hope you feel like reading another yakuza story and, if you do, I hope you like this one too. (Please feel free to contact me and tell me what you think, even if it's awful...
 
Best wishes,
H.J."
 
‚Äč

Reddit Fantasy Lists Under-Rated and Under-Read Fantasy

 

reading

 

 

Reddit’s Fantasy group recently asked everyone to name their favorite under-rated or under-read fantasy novels, and the response has been extraordinary! So far the list is enormous, and filled with amazing books that all deserve a larger readership. While the editing process is ongoing, we thought we’d write up the top five choices from the list, just to get everyone started on their next “to be read” pile! Check out the whole list here, and peruse at the top five below.

Source: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/05/reddit-fantasy-top-underrated-and-underread-books?utm_source=exacttarget&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_term=tordotcom&utm_content=-na_readblog_blogpost&utm_campaign=9780765333117
Reblogged from want a real life adventure? come to Australia we have spiders bigger than your hand.

Best tweet this year!

 

Disclaimer: This is not GRRM's official account. 

Review: Stuff by Josephine Myles

Stuff - Josephine Myles

A flighty and flirty retail assistant (Mas) needs to find a safe place quickly when he is sacked and nearly caught after a half-hearted shoplifting attempt. He happens upon the cluttered vintage clothing shop of Peregrine Cavendish-Fiennes and his flash personality wins him a job. The two are very attracted to one another despite being worlds apart in personality and upbringing. 

 

I think I skimmed a lot of book 1 in this series. It was so heavy on the mental illness angle. This book (number 2) is much easier to read and has more focus on the couple. On the surface, very appealing characters and a sweet romance. I liked the British accents, the make-over of Perry's shop and Mas's character growth. The story was kept fairly light with lots of allusions about, but no delving into, Perry's past. And Mas's ex-sugar daddy felt more like a useful plot device than a real situation.

 

Unfortunately the author inserted herself regularly into Mas's character with soap-boxy, politically correct statements about transgender romance, polyamory, open relationships, kink and 'heteronormative assumptions of sexual roles in gay relationships'. It was too much like those ranty m/m author blogposts where they castigate readers for their vanilla reading preferences. I felt like I was being lectured to.

 

P.S. The cover. The guy at the back... His head is too big for his body. Photoshop FAIL!

Review: Drink, Slay, Love

Drink, Slay, Love - Sarah Beth Durst

Cute paranormal YA with a dark side. Finding a vampire story that feels fresh is difficult these days. But I got a kick out of this tale of an arrogant, murderous vampire girl who is poisoned by a unicorn and gradually develops a soul. 

 

Some of my favourite moments are Pearl's creepy family, when she first feels the sun, and her bewilderment as she becomes friends with the human schoolkids around her. Her character carries the story effortlessly. The 'Brad' storyline is really well done and provides a touching counterpoint to the book's overall sweetness and wry humour.

 

The love interest, Evan, is under-developed, as is the unicorn lore. The title is dumb. Word plays on the non-fiction title, 'Eat, Pray, Love' were done to death back in the 2000's. And they were already annoying then!

 

Although this works perfectly well as a standalone I find myself very curious about Pearl's family and would love to know what happens to them.

A series of DNF's

The Next - Rafe Haze Recovery - Con Riley Dance - Teodora Kostova Les Recidivists (Chance Assassin) - Nicole Castle

A few books that I struggled with for various reasons.

 

The Next by Rafe Haze. Couldn't stand the writing.

 

Recovery by Con Riley. Ho hum romance took a back seat to a long examination of a mother's death from cancer.

 

Dance by Teodora Kostova. Rushed unbelievable relationship. All telling, no showing. Overall amateurish writing.

 

Les Recidivists. Sequels huh? Two separate couples vie for attention in this disappointing sequel. The M/F couple are poorly matched and the woman in particular is a vulgar psycho. The M/M couple are unrecognizable from the excellent first book.

Reading progress update: I've read 7%.

The Next - Rafe Haze

I feel like I'm drowning in words and I'm already skimming to get through it. This guy is like Woody Allen on meth. New Yawk navel-gazing has never been my favourite narrative style. Hope it settles down.

Reading progress update: I've read 25%.

Les Recidivists (Chance Assassin) - Nicole Castle

I reread Chance Assassin before starting this sequel and it was just as great as I remembered. Les Recidivists is a whole other story however. There are four POV's. Vincent and Frank, and Ethan and Bella. Unfortunately the basic digital formatting doesn't provide any breaks between the POV's and I'm halfway into another character's head before I've realised that the narrator has changed. It's confusing and annoying.

 

Bella was an OK secondary character in book one but for me she doesn't have the appeal to be an MC. She's coarse and one dimensional. At this stage I'm with Ethan's mother in wishing she'd piss off. Her romantic dynamic with Ethan doesn't appeal to me. She is bossy, fickle and irrational and he is effeminate and artistic. He just seems gay to me. It's strange to seem him with a brutish woman who takes every opportunity to display her fanny (vagina) to everyone.

 

And what the hell happened to my beautiful psychotic teen Vincent?? He's like a boring mature man. There is definitely not enough Vincent/Frank time in this book. So far I'm really struggling with this and household chores are becoming a welcome distraction.

Review: The Duality Paradigm

The Duality Paradigm (Book 1) - Lia Cooper

Solid m/m urban fantasy by a new author. The introduction is great. Totally snared my attention and made me want to read on. Here's part of it:

The magically inclined tend to share a common, and disastrous, personality profile: narcissistic, self-absorbed and forgetful. And if you think they make terrible spouses, then the truth is, they make even worse mates. This is something every wolfcub knows, in his blood.

 

In his bones.

Luckily the book mostly lives up to its promise. Like all urban fantasy this is the first book in a series. There's a complete story arc although the romance between the two MC's is only just starting and I'm presuming this will continue to develop over ?several books. This is a full-length novel and the mystery plot, although not really new or original, is sufficiently exciting. The dynamic between Ellison and Clanahan is excellent. I love UF so this storytelling style is right up my alley.

 

Unfortunately there are a fair few typos. Why would the author let her book be stuffed up by something so simple and easily rectifiable?? Microsoft Word is not sufficient to edit your books SPA's!!

Review: The Experiment

The Experiment - Alicia Nordwell

The Last Pure Human and Avatar's poor second cousin.

Review: Knitting series by Amy Lane

The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters (Knitting Series) - Amy Lane Super Sock Man (Knitting, #2) - Amy Lane How to Raise an Honest Rabbit - Amy Lane Knitter in His Natural Habitat - Amy Lane Blackbird Knitting in a Bunny's Lair (Granby Knitting Series) - Amy Lane

Interesting characters especially Jeremy. His book was my favourite. Stanley came a close second, let down by a bad case of insta-love. Overall quirky and fun. I loved the whole knitting theme but by the end I was ready to put the knitting needles away.

Review: Public Display Of Everything.

Public Display of Everything - Cara Dee

A weird combination of tame and sleazy. They made voyeurism boring.