Monthly Archives: April 2013

Review of Sandra Brown’s Rainwater

Rainwater

I won a signed copy of Sandra Brown‘s novel Rainwater from a Goodreads Firstreads giveaway.

Description:
The year is 1934. With the country in the stranglehold of drought and economic depression, Ella Barron runs her Texas boardinghouse with an efficiency that ensures her life will be kept in balance. Between chores of cooking and cleaning for her residents, she cares for her ten-year-old son, Solly, a sweet but challenging child whose misunderstood behavior finds Ella on the receiving end of pity, derision, and suspicion. When David Rainwater arrives at the house looking for lodging, he comes recommended by a trusted friend as “a man of impeccable character.” But Ella senses that admitting Mr. Rainwater will bring about unsettling changes.

However, times are hard, and in order to make ends meet, Ella’s house must remain one hundred percent occupied. So Mr. Rainwater moves into her house…and impacts her life in ways Ella could never have foreseen….

Review:
Anyone who reads many of my reviews knows that I read a lot more fantasy/Sci-fi than I do literary fiction, but even I need a little variety every now and then. I won this last year and felt guilt about it still sitting on my shelf, so I decided to finally give it a read. I’m glad to have read it now that I have, even if it is one of those Depression era novels where even the happy endings are heart rending and sad. Having said that I did generally like it. Mostly because Mr. Rainwater was every bit the honourable gentleman of my dreams. He was wonderful. It would be awful hard not to like him. I liked Mrs. Barron, Margaret and the Doctor too, but it was Rainwater who stole the show. Guess that’s why the book’s named after him, huh?

This is the first Sandra Brown novel I’ve read and according to the acknowledges is a departure from her normal stories. She can sure write though. The prose of this book is beautiful and evocative. She manages to relate a lot of emotion in relatively few words. Small movements on the part of the characters relay a lot of meaning. Even though I had a fairly good idea of where the plot was going to end up (one way or another) I still hung on every word until I got there. Would be more than happy to read another of Mrs. Brown’s books.

On a totally unrelated point, I read the hardback edition and it is a beautifully put together book. I love the cover image and the addition of the little bit of fancy gold edging around the title and the deckle edging of the pages.

Review of Peter Evan Jones’ The Shield

The Shield

I grabbed Peter Jones’ post-apocalyptic, military sci-fi novel, The Shield, off of the Amazon KDP list.

Description from Goodreads:
As a Shield, William Grayson’s entire life centered around combat training for the sole purpose of protecting the Circle. To him there was nothing else in life, no other temptations, no goals, no dreams of family. He and the other Shields were trained warriors; a tolerated, necessary evil in a world where the only religion was peace. Aside from them, hundreds of years had passed since humans had engaged in any type of war, aggression, or even self-defense. The Last War had consumed the entire planet, destroying nearly everyone and everything. The fleeting remains of humanity had managed to rebuild the Twelve Cities focused entirely on establishing a peaceful people and a peaceful planet.

When the aliens came, they had no intention on participating in this utopia humans had spent centuries perfecting.

Grayson and the few remaining Shields must train and lead the very society that before had considered them a nuisance. Forced to reconcile new emotions he was forever immune to, and to engage those who hated what he stood for, Grayson must learn to go beyond his training as he slowly realizes that he is now responsible for not only the liberation of his planet, but to bring a new definition of life to every last human.

Review:
This book has an interesting premise. I love the ironic social implications of a group of elite soldiers defending the peaceful ways of a society they can obviously never be part of. Some of the most moving lines of the book come from Grayson (usually just referred to as The Shield) in reference to his role. I have to be honest though, I had a hard time believing humans could ever be so peaceful. It just seems to go against our very nature and, of course, the existence of the Shields speaks to that fact. I’m willing to accept for the sake of fiction, however, that such a society was established in the wake of a devastating world war and as such would be wholly unprepared to face a hostile invading force.

But in the end I simply expected more from the book than I got. It’s not that it’s short on action. It isn’t. The aliens invade and Grayson moves from one problem to the next until the book ends. I don’t think the man ever slept. But I kept looking for an underlying moral to the story, or something other than just the day to day travails of one group of people left behind. The closest I could come would be the dangers all encompassing peace or the importance of the military establishment. Neither of which I think were intended messages, which left the book feeling a little hollow to me. All of the soldiering was interesting enough and I really like Grayson, but so what? That really wasn’t enough to really grab me. Perhaps the sequel, The Shield: Redemption, will bring it all together.

My main disappointment was the ending. It ends on a cliffhanger, which is another way of saying it doesn’t in fact end. There is also no real crescendo. It is well written though. There are a few abrupt changes in POV and I found it a little repetitive. (Each time a new character was introduced we needed to be told what they thought of the Shields, which essentially rehashed the same old same old.) But all-in-all I found it enjoyable.

Review of Cait Lavender’s Hunter Moon

Hunter Moon

I grabbed Hunter Moon, by Cait Lavender, from the Amazon KDP list.

Description from Goodreads:
Bawling cattle tore Shelby Flint from her bed. With lawyer fees to pay in her struggle to keep her ranch from the clutches of her greedy cousins, she couldn’t afford the loss of even one calf. When she sees a large wolf circling her cows, she aims and fires. While the wolf escapes, Shelby can’t seem to get away from her troubles when a marijuana grower sets up shop on her land, sabotaging her property and eventually coming after her. Adding to that, a handsome game warden is poking his nose into her business and working his way underneath her skin. Shelby will have to fight harder than she ever fought before to keep from losing heart and everything she ever loved.

Review:
I really quite enjoyed Hunter Moon. I found Shelby’s prickly cowgirl persona appealing. I liked her sarcastic narration (even if it was largely in first person). Cash was sexy and protective without falling over into overbearing territory too often and I adored his exposed, vulnerable moments. The side characters were colourful, the writing easy to read, and it was really quite clean. There was a lot of sexual tension, but no actual sex. All-in-all a satisfying read.

A lot of page-time was dedicated to describing what Shelby owned, especially in the beginning (vehicles, animals, guns, guns, and more guns). I found this distracting, but at the same time I also appreciated that it made it apparent that she was of a normal socio-economic strata. She lived in a trailer instead of a quaint cabin. She had more than one car/truck, but they were as old as her. She owned a ranch, but wasn’t making bank with it. She seemed normal in this respect. I sometimes feel like normal is a rare bird in fantasy. (Who wants to read about the norm after all?) But in this case I liked it. It made her more relatable. Which was good because I couldn’t really relate to the gun crazed cowgirl that she was the rest of the time. I liked her, but couldn’t relate to her.

I did feel like the three primary threads (romance, mystery, and family/legal drama) didn’t really weave together. I kept waiting for them to and had even decided how it was most likely to happen, but it never did. However, they may come together later in the series. In once sense this is good. I would be calling the plot out as predictable if it did, but as it stands the whole family/legal drama seemed unnecessary. It didn’t seem to contribute to the story much.

The book ends on a cliffhanger. [I’m getting so tired of reading books that don’t end.] It’s not as precipitous as some I’ve come across, but there is obvuously more to come. I looked into buying the sequel as soon as I finished this one, which is solid evidence I enjoyed Hunter Moon. The problem is that the next one, Cowboy Moon, appears to be a prequel instead a sequel, is very short, AND is also a cliffhanger. Serial cliffhangers are something I avoid. As much as I enjoyed this book and would like to know what happens to Shelby next I don’t know that I’ll read anymore.