Review 28: First and Goal

I won a copy of this ebook in a contest on a Facebook page. I had never heard of the author before and I really had no idea what the book was about, beyond a quick scan of the Goodreads blurb. First and Goal is the first in the linked series Moving the Chains, by Kata Cuic.

Because I didn’t do a heck of a lot of research on this one, it caught me by surprise that it ends on a heck of a cliffhanger. Going back to the Amazon description, it does mention this, but I missed that detail. You think you are getting the HEA epilogue and *bang* – what just happened??!? Now to be fair, this is not a short book at 363 pages, so don’t think it’s one of those series where they charge full book prices for a short story and it turns out to be one book portioned out in five purchases. You get a full read.

On to the book itself. This is one of those books that I have trouble really placing, because although the characters are “young adults”, in this case, really young adults because they are all in high school, they have an emotional awareness that I find rare in most of the population, regardless of age. Not necessarily emotional maturity, mind you, but their inner landscapes are incredibly well-examined. In some books, I find this off-putting, just because I consider it unlikely, but sometimes the characters and the writing overcome my objections, and this is the case here.

It’s true, in movies or books, if the dialogue entertains me, I can forgive a lot of other problems. I realize this is not true for everyone, so that’s your grain of salt. The main plot here relies on a bit of that “drama for its own sake” craziness that usually turns me off, but at least here I can forgive them because a) their age, b) there is actually a lot of character development, so they are learning as they go, and c) it’s not over the top. Eva and especially Rob really did suck me in, and for a group of high school kids, they have an interesting and fairly rich supporting cast.

If I had more disposable cash, I’d likely be buying book 2, but it’s definitely going on my TBR. I’m giving this one 4 stars on Goodreads.

Review 27: Butterfly Ops, Book One

It was long enough ago now that I don’t remember which author page Jen Doyle did a takeover on, but I was lucky and won an EdenBooks gift card from her. Of course I used it to buy the first book in her trilogy and I saved the rest, in case I wanted more of the set.

I haven’t read a lot of sci fi romance, because I’ve found the majority of it to be alien males needing to breed with human woman for . Fair enough if you need a handy hook to write some straight up smut, but not something I need a steady diet of. The Butterfly Ops takes a more robust stab at the genre, although to be fair it’s probably more solidly in the contemporary fantasy arena, since it features vampires, super heroes, and a host of folks with assorted mental powers. But the appearance of government forces mucking about with genetic alteration pulls it to the sci fi side, at least to me.

Sadly, the writing in the first book doesn’t quite live up to the promise of the concept. It’s slow. “I almost didn’t make it passed half way” slow. There is a whole lot of bait dangling and far too much inner character angst, while nothing much actually happens. As an editor, I would have cut out a couple of chapters at least. Fortunately, it picks up in the final third; not a lot but enough to get to me to finish it. This is definitely in the range of an epic length book broken into three parts for consumption, not a series. There’s no great cliffhanger, nothing is resolved, it just kinda stops.

Leaving aside their inclination to sit and steep in their own angst, the main characters are reasonably appealing. Or at least, they have potential. And that’s why I’ll likely read Book Two. I want to see if these two can reach their potential. Once they muster up some courage and get a few pokes from friends, they finally start acting like mature adults and talking to each other!! And that’s why I’ll likely read Book Two. I want to see if these two can reach their potential. And I want to see their damn mission actually get started! They make it through a whole book without doing a single thing about the problem that’s brought them together. Irritation is not a reliable motivator when it comes to books, but in this case, it seems to have worked.

Review 26: Illicit: A Contemporary Romance Collection

I bought this story collection when it was on pre-release sale. It hit my radar because an author whose work I’ve enjoyed has a story in it. It seemed like a good opportunity to read more of her stuff and get an introduction to a bunch of new authors.

Sadly, it turned out to be quite disappointing. The stories were a 3/5 at best. I just finished reading the collection and going through the titles, there’s probably close to half that I could barely give you any description of the titles or characters. They didn’t suck me in at all. In the end, I only finished it out of a fading sense of hope and some weird determination.

But at a certain point my judgement was probably affected by the fact that this collection was so poorly edited. Incorrect punctuation, missing punctuation, spelling errors, homophone errors, just plain wrong words – and a lot of them. I don’t know whether these authors normally skip editing or if there was some rush behind getting this collection out, but either way it’s terrible. There’s a lack of professionalism shown that is hugely disappointing. To be fair, the stories aren’t all bad and aren’t all in desperate need of editing, but sadly there are more in that camp than not.

Overall, I just really can’t recommend this one at all. I’m giving it 2 stars on Goodreads.

Review 17: San Francisco Longing

I am a great fan of Lila Dubois, so I was super excited to read San Francisco Longing, the first book in her new trilogy. Sadly, she lost me in the first few chapters and never really recovered.

My issue is this: women in STEM still have to deal with a staggering amount of sexism. So the idea that a female engineer would do something with the possibility of such a huge negative impact on her reputation and career just… stopped me. I love imaginary settings in books: paranormal? Bring on the werewolves! Magic? Hot witch sex, yes! But a supposedly intelligent woman making such a poor choice? And that choice is the basis for the plot of the whole book? Nope, sorry.

I did finish, just to see if there was a saving moment and it’s hard to say, since it ends on a mid-action cliffhanger. (A cliffhanger, I might add, that is triggered by yet another very stupid decision by our heroine.) Yes, this is billed as a trilogy and that is meant in the older sense of the word. This isn’t a related series, it’s one long story offered in three novel length parts. This doesn’t bother me, but if you have a problem with those, I’d recommend avoiding this one.

As for me, I’ll be looking forward to more of Lila’s other series, but I won’t be following up on this one. I’m giving it two stars in Goodreads.

Review 16: First and Goal

I posted this review earlier and it was apparently lost in the electronic ether, so this is a re-post.

I won a copy of this ebook in a contest on a Facebook page. I had never heard of the author before and I really had no idea what the book was about, beyond a quick scan of the Goodreads blurb. First and Goal is the first in the linked series Moving the Chains, by Kata Cuic.

Because I didn’t do a heck of a lot of research on this one, it caught me by surprise that it ends on a heck of a cliffhanger. Going back to the Amazon description, it does mention this, but I missed that detail. You think you are getting the HEA epilogue and *bang* – what just happened??!? Now to be fair, this is not a short book at 363 pages, so don’t think it’s one of those series where they charge full book prices for a short story and it turns out to be one book portioned out in five purchases. You get a full read.

On to the book itself. This is one of those books that I have trouble really placing, because although the characters are “young adults”, in this case, really young adults because they are all in high school, they have an emotional awareness that I find rare in most of the population, regardless of age. Not necessarily emotional maturity, mind you, but their inner landscapes are incredibly well-examined. In some books, I find this off-putting, just because I consider it unlikely, but sometimes the characters and the writing overcome my objections, and this is the case here.
It’s true, in movies or books, if the dialogue entertains me, I can forgive a lot of other problems. I realize this is not true for everyone, so that’s your grain of salt. The main plot here relies on a bit of that “drama for its own sake” craziness that usually turns me off, but at least here I can forgive them because a) their age, b) there is actually a lot of character development, so they are learning as they go, and c) it’s not over the top. Eva and especially Rob really did suck me in, and for a group of high school kids, they have an interesting and fairly rich supporting cast.

If I had more disposable cash, I’d likely be buying book 2, but it’s definitely going on my TBR.

Review 15: HOT Justice

HOT Justice is the fourteenth book of the Hostile Operations Teams series (plus the HOT Seal Team spin off!) I have to give Lynn Ray Harris kudos for managing to come up with enough variation in the plot lines to keep me going. Are these epic reads of literary greatness? No, of course not. But they continue to be fun reads with decent plots, hot and caring Special Operators, kick-ass heroines and steamy sex scenes.

This book veers away from the ongoing Ian Black involvement and instead focuses on the problem of drug addiction and the wave of fentanyl-related deaths happening in the US. Haylee continues LRH’s line of strong female protagonists who follow their noses into trouble. Wolf is the latest HOT team member who thinks that his profession and personal obligations make him unfit for long-term relationships. But being thrown together and seeing each other in action proves that some relationships are worth taking a chance on.

In reality, this is probably a three star book, but I have a history with the series, so I’m giving it four stars on Goodreads.

Review 14: Troubles

KC Enders has been on my radar for a while now, since she hangs out on several other author groups that I follow and her books have been highly recommended to me by other book friends. I finally got my hands on my own copy of Troubles (Beekman Hills #1) and I’m glad I did.

I think it’s a testament to the writing and character development that I fell for this couple, even though the plot relies on a few of my less favourite devices. It’s basically an “insta-love” situation, at least for Aiden. He seems to decide that he loves and worships Lis from the first moment he sees her. The saving grace is that Lis takes a lot more convincing. The other device is a meddling third-party, which isn’t a problem in itself, but I hate that neither of the protagonists question it at all. Aargh! Fortunately for our HEA, time and meddling friends heal all ills.

Neither of these are complete deal-breakers for me though. Aiden and Lis as characters just sucked me in. Aiden is endearingly earnest and strangely naive, for all of his huge family and supposed experience. As an added bonus, he has a sexy Irish accent. Lis has been burned by her past and is unable to move on, but she manages to stay devoted to her friends. The series is centered around McBride’s, which is the best kind of authentic, Irish pub, with a crusty but caring owner and a bevy of hot bartenders. Hard to go wrong there, really.

I’m giving this one 4 stars on Goodreads.

Review 13: Truth or Beard

Truth or Beard, by Penny Reid, is a book that I picked up because of the title, to be honest. It’s been languishing on my ereader for ages and last night, unable to sleep, I decided it seemed like a good one to start. The first chapter or two didn’t inspire a lot of confidence, but I still couldn’t get back to sleep so I persevered. And I’m glad I did, because I didn’t get any more sleep, but I did end up getting sucked in and finishing the book.

If you like to read series in order, then don’t start here. It looks like you would need to read at least Beauty and the Mustache, if not the whole Knitting in the City Series, to be completely “in the know”. However, I found that although it was evident that there were earlier events being referenced, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything that would really contribute to this story.

I laughed a lot through this reading – or at least chuckled under my breath, trying not to wake up my partner. Despite all the self-styled hill-billies running around, the humour was a bit dark and a little intellectual at times, just my favourite. There was just enough drama to keep the plot moving and I could have applauded when Jess chose to act like a grown-up and sidestep the opportunity to have drama for drama’s sake.

This will definitely be a book that I re-read, if nothing else but to experience it in a more lucid state of mind, but I don’t think that will change my mind about enjoying it. I’ve giving it four stars on Goodreads, but I feel like I might upgrade that to five later.

Creative Ink Festival 2018

As a new business owner, I know that networking is a huge part of making this a success, so over the May long weekend, I headed off to Burnaby to attend the Creative Ink Festival for Writers and Readers. The fact that Adam Dreece was the keynote speaker was definitely added incentive; the internet means that I can work with authors all over the world, but also that I rarely get to see the ones I like in person. As noted previously, I am not a terribly extroverted person, so I find these events, full of strange people, in a strange place, challenging. And I hadn’t been to CIF before, so I had no idea what to expect.

It turned out to be amazing! I met a bunch of people, I learned many things and I had a lot of laughs. As someone new to the industry, it can be easy to fall into ‘imposter syndrome’ as you are surrounded by people who have been doing it longer, have had more measurable success and who seem more comfortable with all the processes you are still learning. There was definitely some of this feeling for me, but it was strongly countered by the sense of community here. There is a sense of excitement and wonder and support and naive excitement that I’ve rarely seen at a conference in any discipline. Rather than coming away depressed and questioning my choices, I feel motivated. While the message was aimed at new writers-Keep writing! Find a support group! Practice, practice, practice!-I realized that these all apply to my work as an editor too.

I have some potential new clients and pages of notes: new ways to look at how I do my work, continuing education to hunt down, and new avenues to pursue in search of clients. I also added a ton of books to my TBR list.

One of the first things I heard when I arrived is that the organizer, Sandra Wickham, goes through each event worrying about whether or not it will be successful enough to repeat the next year. Although many people had to leave before the closing remarks in order to start their journeys home, at least half the remaining crowd indicated that this was their first year attending. She was visibly shocked to realize this and I think it might have been tipping point to her announcement that they would be hosting #CIF2019! I gave my business card to one of the organizing committee members, indicating that I am interesting in volunteering next year. I will definitely be pursuing that, as I think the Creative Ink Festival has the potential to be a enormously influential far into the future.

Networking

In the full disclosure category, I am terrible at self-promotion. I think I am a very good editor and I have the potential to be excellent – but getting out there and convincing random strangers of that is not my strong suit. Or even my adequate suit. So, putting on my grown-up face and getting out to events where I can meet people who might need my services is definitely something I need to be doing. This explains why I’ve registered for the Creative Ink Festival next month. One of my favourite clients is doing the keynote presentation, so extra bonus there!

Along the same lines, I really need to figure out how to find someone to design a business logo for me. I need something unique for this site, for my business cards, etc. I’m leery of places like Fivr, mostly because similar sites for editing work are such a rip-off. I don’t mind paying for services rendered, but I don’t want to pay for a whole “marketing plan” either – I just want a logo. Considering that I’m trying to give someone money, it’s amazing how hard it is to find someone.

And yes, I’m way behind on book reviews, I’ll post more soon.