No one expects their happily-ever-after to end at forty—but here I am one Prince Charming short of a fairytale.
Living back at Mom’s place with her and Gram is not how this ex district attorney intended to start the next chapter of her life, but I shouldn’t be surprised it’s where I ended up.
You see, my family is cursed. Literally.
At least that’s what both Gram and Mom claim. I’ve never given much thought to their ridiculous superstitions, but when three local patrons from my mom’s occult shop end up dead, even I’m a bit unnerved.
So, I decide to dive right into the crazy headfirst. And what I thought would be the end of my journey…may only be the beginning.
Meh, this wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t fabulous either. I think it just needed another 100 pages—taking it from a novella to a novel—to carry it off. As it is, everything feels a little sketched out, none of the characters feel particularly well-fleshed, and the plot barely starts before the book ends on a cliffhanger.
I liked Shanna well enough, but she’s the only character you get to know, and barely even her. And notably, since this is supposed to be PWF, nothing about her or her situation feels 40+ years old. She could have been 25 and the book would have felt exactly the same. Her being a DA is literally extraneous to the plot. What’s more, I think given the lack of age-defining characteristics, mid-twenties would have fit the plot better. (I always wonder in such scenarios if the author just aged the character up to catch the PWF wave, but of course I don’t actually know.) Everyone else is either just a name or a card-board cutout not worth mentioning.
The writing is quite readable, though, the narrative has an appreciable tone, and the audiobook narrator did a good job. But I’m still pretty meh on the whole thing. I don’t think I’d bother with the next book. I’m just not invested enough to really care what happens.
The king is dead, long live his murderer. After fifteen years of passive torment, Farrah and her implacable group of renegades endeavour to alter their fates by attempting to assassinate the man who stole everything from them, Daemon Daromas. Alas, he who wields the theurgy of the gods has no rivals in the lands of Iscar but those foolish enough to challenge their wrath.
When confronted by this ancient and destructive force, the renegades have no choice but to flee the capital and embark on the airship of Iscar’s most notorious sky corsair Captain Feras Sadahl, daughter of the late pirate sovereign. Their meeting with the corsair, however, might not have been as welcome as they would have hoped.
As Farrah and her allies set out on a journey to find the means to challenge their oppressor, they soon discover that the price of power is steep and the road to get one’s hands on it, perilous.
It took me forever and a day to finish this book. Granted, it’s a long book. But I’m a really fast, obsessive reader and generally prefer to read one book at a time. But if I’m not particularly grabbed by one, I sometimes let myself take a break and read something else between chapters. How many books I splice in while reading one can be taken as a signifier of how much I’m enjoying a book (or not). In the case of A Flight in the Heavens I read something like 16! Well, I listened to most of them (but that’s mostly because it’s the format that was available to me). There are a myriad of reason, none of which are that the book is horrible.
But before I get into the criticisms, let me drop some positives. A Flight in the Heavens is epic in scope. Both because it’s 509 pages long and because at the end of 509 pages, the over-arching plot has barely started (though it comes to a natural stopping point). It’s a big world, with some interesting characters. I truly liked Faras and Farrah and wanted them to accomplish their goal. And every once in a while Gagne-Cyr would give us some fabulously vivid imagery, like, “Essan and Thorick had been going at each other’s throats in a peculiar duel resembling the portrait of a lethal insect attempting to sting a bear.” But none of that was enough to keep me interested.
The problem is that the book is about 200 pages longer than it needs to be. It too wordy. (See the insect and bear line above. I love the analogy, but the sentence if wordier than it needs to be.) It’s too repetitive (we’re told the same information multiple times), too dependent on exposition, and too FULL of awkward word usages. For me, this last was the biggest challenge. I almost always knew what Gagne-Cyr meant, but the language is jarringly inaccurate.
Here are a few of the last ones I remember, “…trying not to make eye contact with the soaring utensil…” How do you make eye contact with a spoon that has no eyes? Or, “he snarled in a delighted tone of voice…” I mean, I suppose it’s possible, but a snarl usually accompanies anger or hatred. “…shattered the skin of his midsection.” The verb shatter infers something brittle or crystalline breaking, skin is supple. I can’t imagine it shattering. Again, I know what all of these sentences meant and they might not even be technically wrong, but every single one pulled me from the narrative. And there was one on most pages, which meant I never could just sink into the story and coast along. I was always restarting and loosing gumption.
Though I think an additional editor could have helped tighten the narrative and help Gagne-Cyr with the awkward word choices, I have to admit the book seems really clean in terms of mechanical edits. I don’t really remember any typo or missing word sort of errors. So, in the end, I think this is just going to be a matter of taste. Either you like Gagne-Cyr’s creative use of language or it distracts you from the reading (as it did me). Only one way to find out, really, give it a try.
I’m going to be harshly honest here. I’m currently reading a book I’m not particularly enjoying, but am determined to finish. When this is the case, I usually start a second book to alternate. I read a bit of the book I’m chipping away at and then some (or all) of another book, then more of the challenging book, etc. However, as occasionally happens, I’m not particularly liking the secondary book right now either. But I’m not going to let myself start a third! So, I found an excuse to download an audio book instead [semantics, I know]. I borrowed Any Given Doomsday, by Lori Handeland, through Hoopla.
Elizabeth Phoenix once used her unique skills as a psychic to help in the Milwaukee Police Department’s fight against injustice. But when Liz’s foster mother is found viciously murdered–and Liz is discovered unconscious at the scene–her only memory of the crime comes in the form of terrifying dreams … of creatures more horrific than anything Liz has seen in real life. What do these visions mean? And what in the world do they have to do with her former lover, Jimmy Sanducci?
While the police question Jimmy in the murder, Jimmy opens Liz’s eyes to a supernatural war that has raged since the dawn of time in which innocent people are hunted by malevolent beings disguised as humans. Only a chosen few have the ability to fight their evil, and Jimmy believes Liz is among them. Now, with her senses heightened, new feelings are rising within Liz–ones that re-ignite her dangerous attraction to Jimmy. But Jimmy has a secret that will rock Liz to her core … and put the survival of the human race in peril.
I really wanted to like this and I thought, in the beginning, that I would. It started out strong, after all. But, in the end, I wasn’t impressed. The writing is fine. The narrator did a good job. I didn’t notice any editing mishaps. But I found I just didn’t like the book…or really any of the characters outside of Liz (and I barely liked her).
To anyone who has read the Anita Blake novels and remember how they went from strong urban fantasy to paranormal soft porn, this book will feel familiar. I have no problem with Liz having sex. I don’t even mind that it’s with two men or that it’s not always for joy or love, but to accomplish a goal. Or that the whole plot has been set up so that she has to have lots of sex with lots of people.
What I disliked was BOTH the men she’s loving. I disliked them on principal. I disliked how they treated her. I disliked her when she was with them. The sex was super rapey…was rape. And the whole plot line is turning itself inside out to show how special she is and how everyone wants her…her special body.
The only thing that really kept me reading was to find out why a man who so obviously loved her desperately would cheat on her (in the past). But that was never addressed, not really or satisfactorily. Plus, she just up and decided to ignore it. This might have been necessary, but I wanted some closure on the issue.
I don’t think I’ll continue with the series, but might not write Handeland off as an author to read.
Edit: I realize this whole post makes me sound really negative. I promise I’m not. LOL
I’m trying this new thing where I link other reviews of books I read, for comparison’s sake. I’m not sure this will be a permanent feature. But here are a few for now.