Monthly Archives: January 2019

Review of Blood Oath (Nathaniel Cade #1), by Christopher Farnsworth

I borrowed an audio copy of Christopher Farnsworth‘s Blood Oath from my local library.

Description from Goodreads:

Zach Barrows is an ambitious young White House staffer whose career takes an unexpected turn when he’s partnered with Nathaniel Cade, a secret agent sworn to protect the President. But Cade is no ordinary civil servant. Bound 140 years ago by a special blood oath, Nathaniel Cade is a vampire. He battles nightmares before they can break into the daylight world of the American dream, enemies far stranger – and far more dangeorus – than civilians have ever imagined.

Review:

This wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t anything new and inspiring either. I liked that Cade is so demonstrably inhuman. I thought Zach was funny. I liked the idea of the secret, crime-fighting vampire. All in all I enjoyed the book. 

My only real complaint, beyond there being nothing particularly new here, is that (as is SO OFTEN the case, especially with male authors) there are exactly 3 women in the book. They all play minor roles. Two are the lovers of more important male characters and one uses sex as a weapon and currency to get what she wants. 

Is it truly not possible to have a female character who isn’t characterized by who she has sex with or why? This book wasn’t really any worse than other books in the regard, but as always, it’s an irritant that you can’t unnoticed once you do. And once you start noticing, you realize how painfully frequent it is.

Bronson Pinchot did all right with the narration. I thought he played Cade too dryly. He sounded board for most of the book, instead of intense. But it wasn’t unpleasant to listen to, on the whole.

Review of The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (Montague Siblings #2), by Mackenzi Lee

I borrowed an audio copy of Mackenzi Lee’s The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy from my local library. I reviewed the first book in the series, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, last year.

Description from Goodreads:

A year after an accidentally whirlwind grand tour with her brother Monty, Felicity Montague has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh and enroll in medical school. However, her intellect and passion will never be enough in the eyes of the administrators, who see men as the sole guardians of science.

But then a window of opportunity opens—a doctor she idolizes is marrying an old friend of hers in Germany. Felicity believes if she could meet this man he could change her future, but she has no money of her own to make the trip. Luckily, a mysterious young woman is willing to pay Felicity’s way, so long as she’s allowed to travel with Felicity disguised as her maid.

In spite of her suspicions, Felicity agrees, but once the girl’s true motives are revealed, Felicity becomes part of a perilous quest that leads them from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.

Review:

I really wanted to like this a lot more than I did. Hmmm, that’s not quite right. I actually did really quite like it. I liked the representation and diversity of the book. I liked the wit and writing in the book. I liked Moira Quirk’s narration. I liked Felicity. I liked what she wanted and demanded in life. I liked that she was smart and determined and uncompromising.

I liked her feminism! But even as a staunch feminist myself, this same feminism was my biggest problem with the book and kept me from truly loving it. I’m not sure exactly how to explain this. Because I agree with Felicity 100% that she deserved to be allowed to study. That women deserved not to be stifled and protected from their own ambitions. But this is just such a modern ideal. It’s not that there weren’t women who strived to be more than mothers and wives, but Felicity kept acting as if she could reasonably expect different reactions from the men of society. That they, not her were the abnormal ones. The same society she had been raised in, with the same underlying mores. Most of her internal musings sounded horridly anachronistic to the time period the book is set in. It clashed jarringly. Eventually it started to feel like didactic lecture on what should be, instead of an engagement of what was (and to an extent still is). And in the end, undermined my ability to suspend my disbelief enough to truly immerse myself in the story.

Review of The Reluctant Sacrifice (The Aramithians), by Kerr-Ann Dempster

I In March of 2017 The Reluctant Sacrifice, by Kerr-Ann Dempster, was free on Amazon. I picked up a copy of it at that time.

Description from Goodreads:

Centuries ago, sibling rivalry tore Aramith apart. As punishment, the losers were stripped of their immortal birthright and banished to Earth. There, they wasted away from old age and diseases. However, there is hope… 

If a Shaw child, born on the 12th day of the 12th month offers her soul in a public sacrifice, then the exiles will be forgiven and welcomed home to Aramith. 

Aubrey Shaw is that child, but dying for the exiles is not on her to-do list. Using her gift as a Jumper, Aubrey leaps between bodies to escape relentless shape-shifting hunters. Only, shedding her skin is not enough. Not when Joshua, her best-friend-turned-hunter, is hell-bent on dragging her to the altar. 

Will Aubrey’s love for Joshua change his mind? 

Or, will she have to trust the scarred stranger who shows up out of the blue cloaked in lies and secrets? Doing so means giving up on Joshua. But betting on Joshua’s love could do more than break her heart. 

It could kill her.

Review:

This wasn’t bad, so much as just uninspired. It has all the cliched YA tropes people are tired of seeing: the love triangle, the chosen one, the ‘let me throw myself at a boy sexually to forget my problems,’ the heroine who doesn’t do her hair or make-up normally, the prom-style dress that makes her a pretty-pretty princess for a night, the sassy best friend, etc. There’s nothing new or exciting here.

The writing was perfectly serviceable, but again, not anything marvelous. And there were a few big editing mishaps, like someone touching the exposed skin above a waistband, when we’d been told the character was in a dress. However, there was also a lot left too shadowed in the universe and plot. So much feeling and decision-making is supposed to hinge on the feelings and events from childhoods that we don’t see that it felt baseless.

There were also some strange things going on with age. 12-year-olds French kissing, 15-year-olds expertly manipulating people with sex, and no one questioning how a 16/17-year-old has numerous tattoos, for example. Not that such things can’t happen, it’s just that they felt truly strange and out of place here. Like the author imagined all her characters as just a bit older than she made them and then forgot.

I’d have said this was just a meh book, if not for one big problem. The whole premise that puts the three main characters together is preposterous. To say I was incredulous that the character that wanted Aubrey dead as badly as he did would have the compassion to allow the events of this story is putting it mildly. I suspect it was supposed to make him a grey character, instead of a villain. But it just red as wishy-washy and unbelievable. And if the very bedrock a book is build on is as shaky as this, nothing else stands on it. The book is supposed to be about life and death and a fight to survive, but the things that actually happen….a party, and getting to school everyday, and flirting, and going to work. None of it really hung together, I’m sorry to say. And then the unfounded mysticism was dropped in at the end. Nope, none of it worked.