Category Archives: book review

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Book Review: A Flight in the Heavens, by Gabrielle Gagne-Cyr

I accepted a review copy of A Flight in the Heavens (The Theurgy of the Gods, #1) from the author, Gabrielle Gagne-Cyr. (Though I noticed it was free on Amazon at the time of posting.) It was also promoed on Sadie’s Spotlight.

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I see you my little moppets.

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.

my review

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.

a flight in the heavens


Other Reviews:

w.a. stanley

c.e. clayton

The Lesbian Review

Any Given Doomsday

Book Review: Any Given Doomsday, by Lori Handeland

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.

any given doomsday

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

any given doomsday


Other Reviews:

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.

REVIEW: Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland

REVIEW: Any Given Doomsday (Phoenix Chronicles-Volume I) by Lori Handeland

Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland

Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland

 

 

the accidental gatekeeper

Book Review: The Accidental Gatekeeper, by Carla Rehse

Carla Rehse‘s The Accidental Gatekeeper was promoed on Sadie’s Spotlight. While I didn’t agree to review it as part of the tour, I did receive a free copy for participating. And since Paranormal Women’s Fiction is a genre I’m loving right now, I gave it a read.

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Turning the big four-five isn’t a problem for Everly Popa—it’s everything else in her life that’s gone to hell in a handbasket.

It’s bad enough that Everly’s drug-selling husband is in jail and her adult daughter blames her for the situation. But now the FBI wants her to turn witness, while her husband’s criminal friends want to keep her permanently silent. With no other safe haven, Everly returns to her hometown. A place she hasn’t visited in twenty-seven years. And didn’t leave under the best of circumstances.

It’s not that Everly has a problem with her hometown, exactly, but since it sits next to Hell’s Gate, there’s bound to be a few issues. Like the archaic rules set by the angels who run the town. Or the fact that the townsfolk feel Everly abandoned her duties as one of the members of the town’s founding families. But between celestial politics or getting gunned down by a drug cartel, Everly decides to chance finding sanctuary back home.

After a little good-versus-evil stunt at the town’s border, Everly is let back in and for the first five minutes, things are great. However, soon all hell breaks loose!

Before Everly can take a deep breath and figure a way out of the mess she’s gotten into, an angel gets killed, humans go missing and the town shuts its magical borders. Now Everly is trapped inside with dying angels, rampaging demons, and a witch with a murderous agenda. The only way out is for Everly to learn how to use her newly acquired Gatekeeper powers. But with no handbook provided, there’s a snowball’s chance in hell she’ll figure it out in time.

my review

I feel pretty middle-of-the-road about this book. I didn’t actually dislike it, but I also didn’t finish if feeling bereft for having come to the end. I appreciate that Everly is a 45yo heroine and that she’s trying to do her best in a difficult situation (having not done so in the past). But I also feel like the book is go, go, go from start to finish, which gives the reader no time to rest or to get to know any of the character. I finished the book having developed no attachment to anyone, not feeling what might have been a romantic sub-thread (I’m not even sure), or not particularly invested in the mystery.

The writing is perfectly readable and the editing seemed pretty clean. I personally hate the pretend cursing. Either let a character curse or keep it clean, but don’t half-ass it with, “How, at forty-five f-bomb years old….?” But that’s a personal preference. I also thought that the “I gotta protect my daughter” was over played. What I love about so many PWF books is that they show women over 40 as having selves outside of their husband and family. I thought Rehse’s focus on Everly’s motivation being her daughter dimmed this aspect of the genre significantly. Of course she wants to protect her daughter, but what else is there of interest about her?

I think others who enjoy PWF will like this book. As I said, I didn’t dislike it. It’s just not the best I’ve read.

the accidental gatekeeper