Tag Archives: Romance

Fyrehaar’s CBRIII #7 – The Fire Lord’s Lover by Kathryne Kennedy

The Fire Lord’s Lover by Kathryne Kennedy. Bland, Over-reaching Fantasy/Alternate History Romance.


Dominic Raikes is a half-elven bastard. His father is Mor’ded, one of seven elven lords who have divvied up England. Each lord fields an an army and Dominic is the general of his father’s forces. He is powerful, wielding influence over various forms of fire. But he is not powerful enough to overthrow or really even threaten his father.

Lady Cassandra is Dominic’s fiance. She has been schooled in a convent and raised to be the pure bride of Mor’ded’s champion. Her duty is to provide the elven lord a champion to replace Dominic when he has outlived his usefulness. Cass has other goals. She has been suborned by the Resistance and trained as an assassin. Her true purpose is to get close enough to Mor’ded to kill him.

Kennedy sets up two different stories. One is the romance between Dominic and Cassandra. The other is a grand fantasy epic wherein the human rebellion seeks to trow off their oppressors. Neither story is served well. Dominic has supposedly suppressed his emotions that he is incapable of affection or attachment. Despite this he is head over heels in love with Cass within a day of marrying her. Instead of enlisting her in his scheme to hide his affection for her from his father, he’s just an overbearing jerk whenever they are in public.

Cass is set up to be a highly trained killer. When she gets to court and actually has to interact with people she turns into a complete ninny. She is all hurt feelings and self doubt, with no self possession or confidence. She is totally caught up in her feelings for Dominic and her embarrassment at being rejected by most of Court.

If the tyranny of Mor’ded had been the main obstacle the book would have been more cohesive. The romantic plot distracted from the rebellion, which was far more interesting. As it was, all the action was rushed and the plot points were touched upon perfunctorily. Dominic and Cass fell in love instantly because that’s what the author wanted. It did not flow naturally as part of their character arcs. The whole romance was forced: No buildup, no growing affection, just ice cold to head over heels in five pages because I need you to want to help each other out in two chapters.

The Fire Lord’s Lover was a lackluster read. It had promise but the author had too much going on to do fully develop any part of the story.

-fh

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Malin’s CBR-III Reviews # 69-77: Yes, I did another massive blog update

So my work is keeping me way busier this time of year than I’m used to, which reduces the amount of free time I have for reading. I’m also a lot more tired when I do have spare time, so reading takes longer, but I AM still reading. I just hadn’t really blogged any of the books since the last update. So on the final day of my autumn break, I decided to blog all of them in one day, again. Here goes:

Book 69: The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts by Louis de Bernieres –  http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/10/69-war-of-don-emmanuels-nether-parts-by.html

Book 70: The House at Riverton by Kate Morton – http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/10/70-house-at-riverton-by-kate-morton.html 

Book 71: This is strictly speaking 3 volumes of a comic book/graphic novel, Mike Carey’s The Unwritten – http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/10/71-unwritten-vol-1-3-by-mike-carey-and.html

Book 72: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/10/72-miss-peregrines-home-for-peculiar.html

Book 73: Archangel’s Blade by Nalini Singh – http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/10/73-archangels-blade-by-nalini-singh.html

Book 74: The Glass Demon by Helen Grant – http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/10/74-glass-demon-by-helen-grant.html

Book 75: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton – http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/10/75-forgotten-garden-by-kate-morton.html

Book 76: Heat Rises by Richard Castle – http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/10/76-heat-rises-by-richard-castle.html

Book 77: The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly – http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/10/77-wild-rose-by-jennifer-donnelly.html

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

xoxoxoe, #33, The Annotated Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen, edited and annotated by David M. Shapard, #CBR3

Here is an excerpt from my review of my #33 book, The Annotated Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen, edited and annotated by David M. Shapard, on my blog, xoxoxo e:

Sense and Sensibility was the first novel that Austen published, in 1811. The book, written “by a lady,” was even a financial success. The book is a romance — the two young Dashwood girls are having their first real adventures in love. Marianne is involved in a full-fledged romance with handsome neighbor Mr. Willoughby and can’t understand what her sister sees in the shy Edward Ferrars. She even complains about his lack of verve to her mother:

“Oh! Mama, how spiritless, how tame was Edward’s manner in reading to us last night! I felt for my sister most severely. Yet she bore it with so much composure, she seemed scarcely to notice it. I could hardly keep my seat. To hear those beautiful lines which have frequently almost driven me wild, pronounced with such impenetrable calmness, such dreadful indifference!”

Marianne is fond of exclamation marks. But Sense and Sensibility is also about putting forth Austen’s philosophy of love — passion versus intellect. And Austen definitely weighs in favor of the latter.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Samantha’s CBRIII Review #28 – Gods Behaving Badly, by Marie Phillips

What do you suppose has happened to all of the old gods? Like, the Greek pantheon, say. Do you think they’re still up there on Mount Olympus, doing the same stuff they’ve been doing for thousands of years? Do you think they ceased to exist? Maybe they’ve taken on mortal form and walk among us. Who knows?

With Gods Behaving Badly, Marie Phillips has taken this question and written an enjoyable novel around it. According to Ms. Phillips, the Greek gods are largely forgotten and living in current-day London, nearly all twelve of the main gang squeezed into one dilapidated flat. Artemis is a professional dog-walker, Athena works for some research company, Dionysus runs a dive bar, and Aphrodite is a phone-sex operator. Zeus is kept squirreled away in the attic by Hera. They are all on power-ration, as they have determined that their power appears to be finite, and that they may, in fact, eventually die. Some of them thrive better in the modern world than others: Ares, for example, can always find wars to start, and Hermes, as the god of money, is busier than ever.

Still, for some of them, life hasn’t changed much; they’re still looking for mortals with whom to dally, and having petty arguments which require acts of revenge. Our story centers around one such dispute. Aphrodite, angry over some slight dealt her by Apollo (they’re lovers), sets out to humiliate him during the pilot episode of his new television show. He’s a psychic. She instructs Eros to shoot Apollo in the middle of the show, and then, when he falls in love with some hapless mortal, he’s to cause that individual to hate Apollo. The unlucky soul upon whom Apollo’s affections alight is Alice (WOW, alliteration), a meek cleaning lady, who is there to see the show with her not-boyfriend, Neil. (They’re both too shy to ever make a move, despite being very much in love.) Eros balks, however, at shooting Alice with the hate-arrow. She, being a nice person, thus does not hate Apollo, but rather acts kindly towards him.

If you know your mythology, though, mortals who get mixed up with gods, however nice, seldom escape without a scratch. Somebody ends up dead, there’s an imminent apocalypse, adventures in the Underworld, a fight with Cerberus … Can Alice and Neil find happiness together? Will the gods regain relevancy, or will they give up, fade out, or simply go nuts from being made to share bedrooms? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Seriously, though, this is a really fun read, particularly if you’ve been a fan of the Greek myths since you were kid. The writing is pretty good, if trying a bit too hard to fit into the Adams/Pratchett/Gaiman mold of humor for my taste. Neil and Alice as unassuming everymen (and women) are surprisingly compelling characters, and the gods themselves are spot-on. That’s what I really loved about the novel; Phillips did a fantastic job of thinking about what those characters would be doing in a modern-day setting, how they would react, behave, and manage to get by. The arc of the novel doesn’t really have a lot of surprises, but it’s handled in a competent and unfussy manner, so it comes off well. If you’re looking for something fun to read, and if you like Zeus and the gang, definitely pick this one up.

PS-I heard about this book because there’s apparently a movie in the works. The cast, while impressive, seems to be all wrong in some quarters, but that’s not really anything new for Hollywood, now, is it?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Samantha’s CBRIII Review #27 – A Good Year, by Peter Mayle

Generally speaking, at its most basic level, a novel is about a person (or persons) who goes through some kind of experience that changes him or her. There’s plenty of room for variation in this formula, of course; probably as many variations as there are novels. Sometimes, though, a novel doesn’t really fit into this formula at all. Does this make it bad? Not a novel? Not necessarily.

Peter Mayle’s A Good Year is ostensibly the story of Max Skinner, a young Englishman who, on a day when his lucks seems to have run out entirely, learns that he has inherited his uncle’s chateau and vineyard in Provence. While he learns to adjust to French country life, he also has to contend with a couple of attractive young ladies, one of whom is the slightly mysterious notaire who is handling his late uncle’s affairs, the unexpected arrival of his uncle’s previously unknown illegitimate daughter from California, and the state of his vines and the wine that they produce.

What this novel actually is, though, is a love letter to Provence. There are characters, and they’re mainly a pleasant lot, but they’re really not the focal point. What Mayle wants to tell you about is France: the people, the food, and most importantly, the wine. And all of those things? Marvelous. Ok, the people have their quirks and are at times quite comical, but the food and the wine are absolutely nothing to sneer at. I have no idea what a pastis is (not really; it’s a anise-flavored liquor, watered down and sort of a before-dinner beverage), but I’ve been craving one for two days now, ever since I finished the book. Never mind all the talk of wine. This book will make you want to drop everything and book a ticket for France, where you will not even pretend to be concerned about your figure (nobody in the book seems to be, anyway) and will gorge yourself senseless, which is apparently de rigeur.

Seriously, though, this book is nothing overly special. It’s a charming story with charming, if rather bland characters, and a lot of descriptive passages about food. It might be poking the smallest amount of fun at the wine business, but it’s hard to say. There’s a wee bit of a mystery, although if you’ve seen the film adaptation*, I will say that the basics are the same, but the execution is actually surprisingly different, and fairly enjoyable. It’s a really quick, easy read, proper brain candy in that there’s no real message here (aside from Come to Provence!). The novel somehow manages to balance fictive coincidence with a reasonable amount of realism, however, which is no small feat. Mostly, it just comes across as comfortable and sort of homey, much in the way I imagine we are supposed to perceive the French countryside. Looking for something light to read that will send you to your liquor store immediately after? This is the book for you.

*Please note that I am a huge Russell Crowe fan and that I own this movie. It is a “I’m home sick in bed” favorite. Feel free to hate on it if you want, but understand that, differences aside**, I won’t agree with you.

**Interestingly enough, according to IMDb, Mayle and Ridley Scott are buddies (they both live in Provence), and the story was originally Scott’s idea. Mayle wrote his version of the story, which diverged quite a bit from Scott’s, and so the film version is how Scott envisioned it in the first place. Just a bit of movie trivia for you.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Malin’s CBR-III Reviews # 41-43: Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris, The Vampire Voss and The Vampire Dimitri by Colleen Gleason

I’m slowly (so much less time to read this year than last) but surely reading my way to the finish line. Here’s a trifecta of paranormal fantasy featuring vampires, one contemporary, two historical.

41. The most recent Sookie Stackhouse novel. Better than the last one, but nothing close to as good as the early ones: http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/05/41-dead-reckoning-by-charlaine-harris.html

42. The first in a trilogy of historical romance/paranormal fantasy by Colleen Gleason, author of The Gardella Vampire Chronicles: http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/05/42-vampire-voss-by-colleen-gleason.html

43. The second in the same trilogy, which seems to be improving with each book: http://kingmagu.blogspot.com/2011/05/43-vampire-dimitri-by-colleen-gleason.html

Currently reading Wolf Hall, and as my schedule seems to be clearing up, I should be able to finish the 52 books by early June.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Samantha’s CBRIII Review #20 – Atonement, by Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan’s tale of a budding novelist who misinterprets the adult world around her, and shatters lives as a result, is many things: meta-fiction, a love story, a war story, a deep, probing look at human psychology. It’s also a pretty decent read, if you like any or all of that sort of thing.

Briony Tallis, in 1935, is a young girl standing at the edge of adulthood. Amidst tensions heightened by the threat of war, cousins arriving to stay because of their parents’ divorce, and normal family drama, Briony witnesses a strange moment between her older sister, Cecilia, and their landscaper (and childhood friend), Robbie Turner. As Cecilia and Robbie realize their feelings for one another, Briony is unwittingly (although a some points voluntarily) drawn into their story, and is not capable of understanding its themes. As a result, when their cousin Lola is raped, Briony witnesses the attacker leaving the scene of the crime, and points to Robbie. Consequently, the young lovers are separated and the family is driven apart. Later, as World War II gears up, Robbie, an infantryman fleeing France, is trying to return to Cecilia, a nurse in London. Briony, in training to also become a nurse, has slowly realized her mistake and attempts to regain contact with her sister and atone for her crime.

Ugh. Sorry for that horribly clunky synopsis. It’s difficult to summarize, especially when one is largely trying to avoid any major spoilers. Additionally, so much of the novel is internal that there are only a few real moments in time to discuss. That, I think, is the major failing of Atonement. I’m all for talk and no action, but it’s got to be done really well. I also generally have no problem with lots of words or description (see: love of Victorian novels) but something about McEwan’s style just doesn’t work for me. Well, some of the time.

The novel, we discover, is written as though by Briony herself, much later in life. The story is, in fact, her atonement. As such, it’s separated into three parts: the first written from the perspective of the thirteen-year-old Briony, the second dealing with Robbie in France and his communications with Cecilia in London, and the third focusing on Briony as an eighteen-year-old, in London as a nurse-in-training when the first wave of wounded soldiers comes pouring into the hospitals. That first section, frankly, made me want to fling the book across the room. SO incredibly florid, with a description for every object that comes into a view; a description designed to apply some very serious, deep, and meaningful importance to said item. I think I would not have continued reading had Part II not cleaned up its act. I tend to enjoy war narrative, and this one is pretty solid. The language tones down, the descriptions of the horrors of war are effective, and one finds that one is actually somewhat invested in the characters by this time. Part III, too, is much tidier, although it returns to the introspective tone of the first section. Again, this is all done as a means of making it seem as though the work is that of Briony. While I appreciate that, it was still a bit much for me.

Essentially, I felt as though McEwan was trying to combine styles somehow. With the early setting of an English estate, there is very much a sense of reference to earlier, Victorian work, and then for Part III, more of a nod to the “newer” style which Briony is trying to emulate. The distinct styles of writing, while interesting and a little impressive in their use, make the novel as a whole feel rather disjointed. Or they did to me. The story itself is a good one, although some of the turns it takes are a little weird. I will also warn you that this is not one of those “happy ending” stories. It’s pretty bleak in its realism. I’m curious to see the movie now to see what they do with that. Don’t tell me … I’ll get around to it at some point. After I go read something fun and silly and palate-cleansing. Stay tuned for Nancy Drew!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized