Category Archives: First Reads 2015

The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai, by Ruiyan Xu

The Lost and Forgotten Languages of ShanghaiI had doubt about getting this book finished by the new year, but I managed it. The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai, by Ruiyan Xu, was the X book for my author alphabet soup challenge and the last letter to complete it. I picked it up from the local library.

Description from Goodread:
Li Jing, a successful, happily married businessman, is dining at a grand hotel in Shanghai when a gas explosion shatters the building. A shard of glass neatly pierces Li Jing’s forehead—obliterating his ability to speak Chinese. The only words that emerge from his mouth are faltering phrases of the English he spoke as a child growing up in Virginia. Suddenly Li Jing finds himself unable to communicate with his wife, Meiling, whom he once courted with beautiful words, as she struggles to keep his business afloat and maintain a brave face for their son. The family turns to an American neurologist, Rosalyn Neal, who is as lost as Li Jing–whom she calls James–in this bewitching, bewildering city, where the two form a bond that Meiling does not need a translator to understand.

Review:
I’ll admit that the book makes the reader think about the importance and intimacies of language, and finds a lot of ways to do this. It also highlights how damning or compelling it can be to have someone who either encourages or discourages self-sabotaging behavior when you’re in crisis. So, I can’t call the book crap. But I found it painfully over-written (as if a book about language can’t be composed of simple, straight-forward words and sentences—pretentious), slow and boring and I disliked almost all the characters almost the whole time, Rosalyn especially.

Review of Perdu (Redire de Vampyrus, #1) by Raeden Zen

PerduI’ve had Perdu (by Raeden Zen) for quite some time, having picked it up from the Amazon free list over two years ago.

Description from Goodreads:
Ruth and Eugene Flowers desired the American dream: two kids, a big house, and a dog. But it wasn’t meant to be–at least not initially. When a surprise package literally fell into their laps, however, the Flowers would finally get their wish (sort of). Soon, it all goes awry, as mysterious deaths followed by a disappearance permanently disrupt their lives. Meanwhile, many years later, a grown-up Valerie Green, a nearby neighbor’s daughter and high-school sweetheart of their son, Zan, hits it huge in the Big Apple, first landing at Columbia University, then at the New York Pioneer, the hottest online periodical in the city. When she is forced to cross the path of hotshot FBI special agent, Dr. Devean Rasr, she doesn’t realize she is also wading much deeper into the biggest, most dangerous, and most challenging killing spree in the history of NYC.

Review:
This book is a mess. There’s no identifiable main character. It has no consistent timeline. Characters make absolutely unfollowable leaps of logic. Clues conveniently pop out of nowhere. The villain is a character that literally isn’t in the novel until the reveal and then isn’t in it after, so a nobody. There are several info-drops, most of which is pointless information that is never utilized. There is constant head hopping. Characters appear and disappear as needed. No one have believable emotions. The dialogue is stilted. The love is unfounded and baseless. Pretty sure I have nothing positive to say about any of it….Ok, it was short and I like the cover.

Review of Colorado Wild (Colorado Heart #1), by Sara York

Colorado WildI downloaded a copy of Colorado Wild, by Sara York, from the Amazon free list.

Description from Goodreads:
When love sneaks up on you, shoot for the heart.

Billy Bradford has a secret, and it’s bigger than the fact that he’s an assassin. When Tucker Hayes, Billy’s straight best friend, is injured on a mission, Billy acts in haste, kissing Tucker. Shocked by the act, Tucker runs. But desire is stronger than convictions, leading Tucker to hunt down Billy.

The other guys on the ranch are oblivious to Tucker and Billy’s actions as they investigate a new target. Grant Stovall is hung up on his ex, but Roger Burk, their new operative, catches his attention and one small touch isn’t enough.

Meet the cowboys of Wild Bluff Ranch in the first book of the Colorado Heart Series, Colorado Wild.

Review:
Wow, um, wow. That’s about the most coherent thought I can manage on this book. It’s totally illogical, overblown and unfocused. I mean, despite what the blurb suggests, it doesn’t even have a main character. What do you do with a book that doesn’t have a main character or couple? What do you do? (As an aside, that blurb is totally inaccurate anyway.) There’s no plot. The characters do everything from pine for one another to assassinations to buy a horse that randomly gets bitten by a snake. There’s insta-lust and a relationship that goes from 0 to 4,000 in about a page. There is endless agonizing over if the characters are a couple yet and if they’re gay or not, all in artificial and exaggerated ways. There’s pointless past trauma that is too much to be believed.

There is telling, telling, telling about how wonderful and significant and ‘I’ll be with you forever even though we’ve been a couple for 2 days’ the characters feel, all adding up to basically nothing. Nothing that happens is believable. None of the emotions read as believable, not even the lust (though that’s not really an emotion, I suppose). These men are supposed to be super elite soldiers and assassins, but they agonize over everything like teenager, and I don’t just mean the emo stuff (though that’s non-stop from page one) but if a teammate gets injured or is doing his part of a mission out of sight or killing. All the things a highly trained soldier would take in stride (and we’re told they do) they are shown to whinge about. And the technical aspect of these soldiers? “…are you sure this little black box will disrupt them?” Seriously, that’s how they talk about their tech!

Nope, this was a total strike for me; almost nothing to recommend it as far as I’m concerned.