Tag Archives: free

Review of Earthrise (Her Instruments #1), by M.C.A. Hogarth

I picked M.C.A. Hogarth‘s Earthrise up from Amazon when it was free. It was still free at the time of posting.

Description from Goodreads:
Reese Eddings has enough to do just keeping her rattletrap merchant vessel, the TMS Earthrise, profitable enough to pay food for herself and her micro-crew. So when a mysterious benefactor from her past shows up demanding she rescue a man from slavers, her first reaction is to say “NO!” And then to remember that she sort of promised to repay the loan. But she doesn’t remember signing up to tangle with pirates and slavers over a space elf prince… Book 1 of the Her Instruments trilogy is a rollicking space operatic adventure set in the Pelted Paradox universe.

I’m torn how to feel about this book. It’s easily readable, has an interesting universe and I very much enjoyed all the side characters (including Unpronounceably Named Male Lead). But I never came to like Reese. Not even a little bit. I understood that she wasn’t really meant to be a b*tch, but she was. She was so prickly that she pushed everyone away, even me, the reader. I kept hoping that she’d come around and settle down to likable. After all, there are generally expected arcs that such books usually follow. I sense that this series will too, but it didn’t happen in this book.

I kept thinking and being bothered by the idea that if she was a male captain, no author would have written her to be so coddled by her crew. They’re constantly sending her away when things get intense. The stress of leadership was literally eating a hole in her stomach. And she’s angry all the time, because she can’t express herself any other way.

There was also some uncomfortable language. Hogarth uses food to describe skin tones (admittedly for both black and white characters), which is understably a no-no, and Unpronounceably Named Male Lead thinks of Reese as looking exotic, several times. Which might not be so bad if he wasn’t a white man, her a black woman and they weren’t standing next to cat-people, dog-like people and a talking Phoenix. Kind of sure, being a black woman doesn’t make her the exotic one in those circumstances.

Lastly, the plotting is very linear. Reese is hired to rescue someone. She and her crew go right there and get them. Then she immediately has a medical emergency that they are miraculously on hand to fix and then they just go off on their next adventure. There are no red herrings or diverting paths to liven things up a bit.

Having said that, I appreciate there being a person of color as a lead character, even on the cover, and I was entertained throughout the book. I’d be happy to read another one.

Review of Fight or Flight, by Noah Harris

I picked up a copy of Noah HarrisFight or Flight at Amazon when it was free. It was still free at the time of posting.

Description from Goodreads:
Bryant had always been a fighter. He had fought to keep his family together, and after his father’s death, he had fought to get custody over his little sister. He fought to keep them fed, and he fought to keep a roof over their heads. And he did so by picking up his father’s old profession: illegal werewolf fights. It was a dangerous profession, but he made good money. It didn’t leave much room for a social life or romance, but he liked it that way. Those were just distractions from what needed to be done. He was convinced he didn’t want a relationship.

That is, until Jake walked into his life: an inexperienced rookie with firm determination, an eagerness to learn, and a secret of his own: he’s actually an Omega. Against his better judgement, Bryant agrees to train him but soon finds himself fighting once again. Only this time, he’s fighting himself and his overwhelming attraction for Jake. He soon learns that some fights aren’t meant to be won.

Sooo, this might have made a good novella, but there really isn’t enough of it to fill 300+ pages. It’s repetitive and slow. Plus, the Amazon description states, “Set amidst a strongly constructed shifter world of werewolf fighting…” But the reality is that there basically isn’t ANY world-building at all. And what very little there is, like alpha’s going into rut and trying to rape any omega they scent, doesn’t really even make sense. Plus, there is very little werewolf action in this werewolf novel. 90% of it might as well be a contemporary m/m romance. The mechanical writing is fine (though heavy on the tell) and I liked the characters (though I thought Jake was stupid and selfish for continuing to knowingly endanger everyone). But the book was less than satisfying.

Review of Welcome to the Madhouse, by S.E. Sasaki

I won a copy of S.E. Sasaki‘s Welcome to the Madhouse through Goodreads. The ebook was also free at the author’s website and Amazon at the time of posting.

Description from Goodreads:
Doctor Grace Lord, a lieutenant in the Conglomerate Medical Corps, has come to the medical space station, the Nelson Mandela, as the new surgical fellow under the renowned Doctor Hiro Al-Fadi. Though she earned her commission as a combat surgeon in the field, she is unprepared for the scope and pace of what awaits her in the Conglomerate’s Premier Medical Space Station. The countless cryopods that come into the Nelson Mandela are filled with the casualties of the Conglomerate’s animal-adapted military forces. Traumatically injured and disfigured in campaigns spread across the galaxy, it is up to the staff of the Nelson Mandela to patch up the wounded combat soldiers for redeployment. For Grace, it is a trial by fire, as she familiarizes herself not only with the routines and protocols of life on the Nelson Mandela, but also with the eclectic community of professionals with whom she works – not the least of which is an android that has taken an almost human interest in her. When disaster strikes the space station, the Nelson Mandela must race against time to stave off annihilation, and it becomes clear that, regardless of the outcome, nothing will never be the same again.

Going into this book, I didn’t expect it to be a comedy. The humor was a pleasant surprise. At times it reached a little too far and came across as trying too hard to be funny, but it usually managed to walk the line and I enjoyed it.

I liked all the characters too, Bud especially. The back and forwards banter between the surgeons was amusing and was nicely balanced with the obvious affection the characters had for one another. Grace was a little too perfect in all ways, but I managed to look over her lack of faults.

However, I thought the whole plot-line with the closest thing to a villain the book has was unnecessary, distasteful, distracting, and predictable. It was painfully obvious who they were from the first moment they were introduced. Their character lacked depth, was evil just because they were evil and their plot arc didn’t tie well into the primary plot-line. In fact, it had nothing to do with it and was an unappreciated distraction that was wrapped up too quickly and easily to fee satisfying in any way.

Further, I felt the introduction of inferred rape and mental abuse (described as easy, at that) was unnecessary and detracted from my enjoyment of the book. I am so sick of victimized women as plot-points that I almost just gave up on the book after reading the prologue. I was pleased the subject didn’t come up again. I understand that this particular plot-point probably just set up the sequel, but I REALLY wish this book had done without it. In fact, it reads like it did and the author went back and added it just for book two.

The writing/editing was unusually good for an indie. I did think some of the dialogue was on the stiff side, even when allowing for android-speak and there was an excess of exclamation marks. But I was mostly pleased.

All in all, however, I enjoyed the book. I laughed and was interested enough to read until the end. I’d happily read book two to see how Bud progresses.

What I’m drinking: Bentley’s Oolong tea.