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LoraM

Lora's Rants and Reviews

My own unapologetic opinions on books and writing.

Currently reading

At the Water's Edge: A Novel
Sara Gruen
Progress: 14%
Don Quixote
Roberto González Echevarría, John Rutherford, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Progress: 34%
Lava Storm In the Neighborhood (Giant Tales Apocalypse 10-Minute Stories) (Volume 1)
Paul D. Scavitto, Sharon Willett, Stephanie Baskerville, Robert Tozer, Shae Hamrick, Christian W. Freed, Joyce Shaughnessy, H.M. Schuldt, Christian Freed, Randall Lemon, Lynette White, Joyce Shaughnessy, H.M. Schuldt, Christian Freed, Randall Lemon, Lynette Whit
Progress: 56%

Sweet Child of Time

— feeling greedy
Sweet Child of Time: Episode Seven of The Chronicles of the Harekaiian - Shanna Lauffey

by Shanna Lauffey

 

Wow, I wasn't expecting that!

 

Usually when I read a long series, I start to lose interest around the fourth book. Things get samey and the later books feel like a lot of rehash. Not with this one.

 

Akalya had some different challenges to deal with in this 7th book, yet part of the plot tied in neatly with what has gone before. One interesting new character was introduced, but it's hard to tell if he'll make an appearance in the remaining books. I just never know quite what to expect from the next episode.

 

I got to see some of Akalya's past that I hope will be visited again in future books because it involves a setting that appeals to me a lot and as always, some bits of nostalgia that would appeal even to people who weren't actually there. There wasn't as much about time travel Physics as there sometimes is, but it wasn't entirely missing. Just enough questions about how things work to stimulate the thinking processes.

 

What strikes me about every book in this series is how I feel when I've finished. It's like I've been there myself and experienced these things, and I'm still dealing with the emotions raised from whatever situation happened. This is what makes this my favorite series, apart from just the fact that time travel is cool and the methods explained in this are close enough to plausible to suspend disbelief.

 

I feel like I'm still assimilating this experience, though I finished reading last night. It's going to be far too long before the next book comes out! I can't wait to see where it goes. The reappearance of one character who I thought was done has me speculating about the extent of his significance. I do love it when a book makes me think!

Reading progress update: I've read 31%.

Don Quixote - Roberto González Echevarría, John Rutherford, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

I have to admit that I'm finding this one tedious. I'm going to finish it no matter what, but it's so long that reading a chapter only advances 1%.

Squeeeee!

Sweet Child of Time: Episode Seven of The Chronicles of the Harekaiian - Shanna Lauffey

Just got my early reviewer copy of the next book in the time travel series I love so much. Great timing as I just finished another book and my other books on the go might be moving slowly.

 

Really looking forward to starting this today.

EMP: Heading Home

— feeling misdoubt
EMP: Heading Home - Wilson Harp

by Wilson Harp

 

This second book in a series starts not too long after the first book ends. David still thinks about his wife and daughter in Chicago, sure in his heart that they must have survived, and after his mother dies, there is nothing to hold him in his home town. Things are running as smoothly as can be expected in the little town and he wants to come back, but he resolves to find his family and bring them back too.

 

His developing relationship with his old girlfriend, Anne, is a complication. He thinks she understands that he can't very well bring her along to help find his wife, but she doesn't want him to travel alone when there are dangers along the way from survivors who haven't been as organized as their town. Without giving away too many details, David begins his journey well supplied and with companions who can watch his back.

 

At first things seem far too easy, and it isn't until the last quarter of the book that their journey runs into serious hazards. It was at this point that I began to think that this book was going to be all about the journey and leave me having to buy a third book if I wanted to see how it would all come out. However, the story did come to an end with most things resolved, though one loose end could become a new story. In a way it seemed a little rushed at the end and it did start to lose me when a reaction to something didn't feel realistic, but over all I did enjoy the story, if not quite as much as the first book.

 

As a contribution to the Dystopian genre, I think the series has a lot to offer in dealing with details of how people might react and deal with surviving in a collapsed world.

Why I Love Circus Books

Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks with a Circus - James Otis A Spark of Justice - J.D. Hawkins Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen Joyland - Stephen King The Life of P.T. Barnum, by Himself. Author's Ed - Phineas Barnum Under the Big Top: A Season with the Circus - Bruce Feiler The Advance Man: A Journey Into the World of the Circus - Jamie MacVicar Mr. Stubbs's Brother: A Sequel to Toby Tyler (Illustrated Edition) (Dodo Press) - James Otis
— feeling clown

Every child is enchanted by the idea of the circus at some point in their young life. For me, this began with the story of Toby Tyler, by James Otis, alternately titled Ten Weeks with a Circus. The story was also made into a movie called Toby Tyler as well as a radio dramatisation.

 

As I became an adult, I learned that the way animals were treated in the real life circus could be brutal at times and the big cats, whom I loved most, spent their lives in cages the size of a train car. Circuses are actually not legally allowed to keep animals in the UK. So, for me, the magic of the circus is relegated to fantasy; to the world of books.

 

While fiction satisfies my fascination with life behind the scenes of the circus, some non-fiction books are also very interesting, relating what this life was really like in the days when there was no regulation to speak of to keep the activities of circus folk completely legal. While circus is primarily a performance profession, there was a time when 'hooch tents' and violations of prohibition played a significant role on the seedy side of traveling entertainment.

 

Some stories relate this side of circus life as openly as the non-fiction books, like Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. The author did her research well and many incidents, including a very amusing situation involving an elephant stealing lemonade, came from real anecdotes from circus people. There are some sad incidents concerning animals in the annals of real circus life as well, but these I try to avoid.

 

Circus books are my fantasy circus, where animals are never mistreated and it's all about the magic of entertainment. I am, however, fussy about authors doing their research properly. I have an aunt who traveled with the carnival in her youth and she taught me the differences between the circus and the carnival. A fast way to get me to abandon a book is to write in a carnival setting and mention a Big Top or to refer to circus people as Carnies.

 

These worlds have a few things in common, but distinct differences. I loved how Stephen King got around all that in Joyland by setting the story in an amusement park owned by someone who had worked for both the circus and the carnival sometime in his past.

 

I recently found another book by James Otis on Amazon, Mr. Stubb's Brother, A Sequel to Toby Tyler. It was even free! Naturally this is high on my tbr, but I want to re-read Toby Tyler again first. These circus stories bring out my inner child and for just a little while, allow me to enter a world where it's all about the magic.

The Goblin Emperor

The Goblin Emperor - Katherine Addison

by Katherine Addison

 

The first chapter was enough to tell me this one is for world building Fantasy fans, the kind who loved Lord of the Rings. We've got elves, political intrigue and an airship crash that results in a new emperor. I can see why reviews on this one are polarized, as it has some hard to pronounce names and other earmarks of old school Fantasy. Personally, I was hooked by the end of that first chapter. Bring on more!

 

Maia is half-elf half-goblin, a disregarded fourth son relegated to exile after his mother's death. He might have been forgotten forever, but an airship crash that kills his father and brothers leaves him as next in line to the throne. With his mixed blood and lack of training for court life, there is bound to be adjustment issues at the least.

 

The story is heavy on political intrigue, but very well done. Maia is a very likable character and I enjoyed watching him rise to the situation and find his strengths, overcoming an abusive childhood. I thought he struck a good balance, seeking advice on protocol from those he could trust and recognizing when courtiers were trying to bully or trick him into doing what they wanted.

 

The aspect of mystery was good too. Several characters are introduced who might have the sort of ambitions that might have resulted in sabotage of the royal entourage's airship. The story kept my attention and had me wondering which of the more slimy characters might have been behind it, or whether there could have been a conspiracy.

 

Some other likeable characters arise as well, though I found myself wondering who might have hidden motives, even among the apparent 'good guys'.

 

One thing that surprised me was the spiritual aspect of Maia's goblin heritage. I find it fascinating that stories about goblins that look into their society are increasingly Shamanic or spiritual in some way. It's an interesting trend.

 

I did find the book hard to put down in the later chapters, falling asleep late at night but determined to finish one more chapter. In the end the mystery was solved and the book came to a tidy end, but I'm hoping there will be more books in this world. Despite stumbling a little over convoluted names, I really enjoyed the read and may even look into some of the author's other books under her other pen name.

Reading progress update: I've read 1%.

At the Water's Edge: A Novel - Sara Gruen

Just about to start this one, though it's not my usual fare. I'm reading it because I enjoyed Water For Elephants by the same author and I just want to see what else she has written. That's unusual for me, but I like the cover as well.

A Spark of Justice

— feeling clown
A Spark of Justice - J.D. Hawkins

by J.D. Hawkins

 

The lion tamer has been killed. Was it an accident? Or did someone set him up? It is the job of John Nieves, insurance investigator, to find out.

 

This book was wonderfully atmospheric. The author's bio points out that he's an ex-Carny, so he knows the difference between a circus and a carnival which is important to me with this kind of setting.

 

It has some great sideways humour, especially concerning the big cats. As a Mystery it provides a good collection of suspects. The Great Rollo had a lot of enemies, even among his own family.

 

I loved the interaction of characters and the behind the scenes glimpses of how a Puerto Rican from New York ended up as a Midwest insurance investigator, but most of all the tricks the circus people play on him had me laughing and I think I'm in love with the panther. He reminds me of my cat, Jasper.

 

The ending wasn't the sort of big shock, one person you didn't think of and I had my suspicions before it got there, but the story was enjoyable and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes circus stories.

Reading progress update: I've read 70%.

EMP: Heading Home - Wilson Harp

It's getting late in the book for this one, so I'm assuming it's all about the journey and there's going to be a third book. Sigh.

Reading progress update: I've read 17%.

A Spark of Justice - J.D. Hawkins

Had this one on my radar for a while. I do love circus settings and this one is very atmospheric!

 

Now that we've all realized that we can't treat animals this way, imagination is the only place to experience the big cat shows. I'm glad of that for the cats' sake, but I'll still enjoy an old time circus in a book.

Reading progress update: I've read 19%.

The Goblin Emperor - Katherine Addison

Why is it, I wonder, that goblin stories tend to have mysticism and a strong spiritual theme in the goblin culture? Except maybe Jim Hines, but there seems to be a trend with this.

 

Still really enjoying this.

February Wrap-up

Scattered Souls - Erica Lucke Dean Traitor to the Throne - Alwyn Hamilton Hell's Gate -  'Jane Aitken (Translator)', Laurent Gaudé, Emily Boyce

Only 3 books finished this month, all Netgalley. But that clears my Netgalley list and I'm pushing forward with my A-list tbr.

 

I also read a lot of samples so despite also adding a lot of them, I'm down to 109.

 

Top prize for the month goes to Traitor to the Throne, sequel to Rebel of the Sands. These are some brilliant Fantasy! Can't wait for the next book to come out.

Reading progress update: I've read 10%.

The Goblin Emperor - Katherine Addison

Loving this. People who get frustrated with difficult names in Fantasy might want to steer clear, but for world building and great traditional Fantasy writing, this is really good.

Reading progress update: I've read 37%.

EMP: Heading Home - Wilson Harp

Yay, something finally happened. Second book in a series. The main character is on a quest to find his family through unknown hazards across the country and it was beginning to look too much like a travel log. Hopefully some riveting crises will liven it up soon.

Scattered Souls

— feeling sleepy
Scattered Souls - Erica Lucke Dean

by Erica Lucke Dean

 

After a prologue to give some background information about what happened with Laith and Maddox in the past, chapter one starts off as a direct continuation of the first book. This made me wonder if this one would end in a cliffhanger as well and decide I was finished with the series if it did.

 

Questions of who Ava loves and which is the good brother get more complicated in this one, but we get a nice trek through history and even meet a famous person or two along the way.

 

I felt the twists and turns in the plot of this one were less believable than in the first book, but it kept my interest and I enjoyed the read, even if I did sometimes want to tell Ava not to do something stupid! We see different sides of both Laith and Maddox, which is where I had a little issue with consistency.

 

The historical aspects of the story fit well enough and while I'm not an expert on any of the periods we traveled through, they rang true. The convolutions of time travel worked well and I enjoyed learning more of the 'rules' that affect the twins as they move through time, though the source of the ability was magic rather than science.

 

I could see how this one needs to end, but the chance was missed to keep the story going through another crisis. It didn't actually end on a cliffhanger, but definitely set up for a next book. My only other complaints is that though sex wasn't actually graphic, it was a bit much for a YA book. Pre-teens read these after all.

 

A generally enjoyable time travel book, but I feel the plot has lost its way.

Reading progress update: I've read 33%.

Scattered Souls - Erica Lucke Dean

Reading the second book of the series and noticing the YA aspect of it much more. It picked up right from where the first book left a cliffhanger. If this one ends with another one, I'm done.

 

Not bad but not captivating me either. It's starting to feel forced and inconsistent.