Stacking the Shelves (154)

Stacking the Shelves

I have to admit, I picked up a review copy of Star Trek Sex just for the title. And I’m curious as hell. The book’s description mostly covers the original series, but there wasn’t any actual sex. There was a fair amount of romance, usually of the girl or alien of the week, but no actual sex. However, there was one episode, Wink of an Eye, from the often horrible third season. This episode became slightly infamous because it was the first episode that showed the aftermath of presumably actual sex. Kirk is seen in the lady’s stateroom putting on his boots while sitting on the edge of the bed. The presumption is that he is putting his boots on after having put back on the rest of his clothes. But even then, we assume, we don’t absolutely know. But it was always a titillating presumption. Even if the book is more of the same, it will be a nice trip down memory lane.

And over in the MUCH higher quality section of the science fiction rack, Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie, the final? book in her awesome and award-gobbling Imperial Radch series, is available for pre-order. It’s scheduled to come out on October 6, and I can hardly wait!

For Review:
Controlled Burn (Boston Fire #2) by Shannon Stacey
London Rain (Josephine Tey #6) by Nicola Upson
No Shred of Evidence (Inspector Ian Rutledge #18) by Charles Todd
Otter Chaos by P.D. Singer
Rock Redemption (Rock Kiss #3) by Nalini Singh
Star Trek Sex by Will Stape

Purchased from Amazon:
Ancillary Mercy (Imperial Radch #3) by Ann Leckie
Overload Flux (Central Galactic Concordance #1) by Carol Van Natta

 

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 9-6-15

Sunday Post

There are just a few days left to get in on the awesome prize pack that Catherine Bybee is giving away. Who wouldn’t have a few dozen uses for a $100 Amazon Gift Card?

This is Labor Day weekend in the U.S. which means two things now that we are back in Atlanta. The number one thing is DragonCon! Downtown Atlanta has been taken over by aliens, superheroes and roving crews of spaceships from near and far. If you’ve never been, it’s fantastic. Also sometimes fantastically overwhelming.

The Decatur Book Festival also takes place this weekend. So our plan is to spend Friday and Saturday at DragonCon and Sunday at the DBF. Reality may turn out to be different, but we’ll have a blast no matter what.

And tomorrow we can recuperate and squee over all the stuff we picked up over the weekend. I really need to find something appropriately geeky to fill in the front license plate holder on my car. I wonder if anyone will be selling “My Other Car is a Starship” somewhere at DragonCon?

Current Giveaways:

$100 Amazon Gift Card (2) $20 Amazon Gift Cards and Weekday Brides Print Box Gift set from Catherine Bybee
Wildest Dreams by Robyn Carr (paperback)

Winner Announcements:

The winner of the paperback copy of If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins is Lysette
The winner if the Nina Croft first in series ebook prize pack is Jennifer

return to dark earth by anna hackettBlog Recap:

B- Review: Keeper’s Reach by Carla Neggers
B+ Review: Sloe Ride by Rhys Ford
B- Review: Wildest Dreams by Robyn Carr + Giveaway
B+ Review: Treasured by Thursday by Catherine Bybee + Giveaway
A- Review: Return to Dark Earth by Anna Hackett
Stacking the Shelves (151)

 

 

 

circling the sun by paula mclainComing Next Week:

Paris Time Capsule by Ella Carey (blog tour review)
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain (review)
The State of Play by Daniel Goldberg and Linus Larsson (review)
After Snowden by Ronald Goldfarb (review)

Review: Sloe Ride by Rhys Ford

sloe ride by rhys fordFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: M/M romantic suspense
Series: Sinners #4
Length: 246 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Date Released: September 4, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

It isn’t easy being a Morgan. Especially when dead bodies start piling up and there’s not a damned thing you can do about it.

Quinn Morgan never quite fit into the family mold. He dreamed of a life with books instead of badges and knowledge instead of law—and a life with Rafe Andrade, his older brothers’ bad boy friend and the man who broke his very young heart.

Rafe Andrade returned home to lick his wounds following his ejection from the band he helped form. A recovering drug addict, Rafe spends his time wallowing in guilt, until he finds himself faced with his original addiction, Quinn Morgan—the reason he fled the city in the first place.

When Rafe hears the Sinners are looking for a bassist, it’s a chance to redeem himself, but as a crazed murderer draws closer to Quinn, Rafe’s willing to sacrifice everything—including himself—to keep his quixotic Morgan safe and sound.

My Review:

tequila mockingbird by rhys fordI had planned to wait until Friday to review Sloe Ride, since that’s the day it comes out. But I couldn’t wait. I wanted some contemporary, and more important, I wanted to see how the Sinner’s Gin story wrapped up. Tequila Mockingbird (reviewed here) ended on quite a bombshell, and I just couldn’t wait any longer to see how THAT got resolved.

After the events in Sloe Ride, I am even more firmly convinced that the new band’s name should have been Bad News Bears. Or Bad Karma Bears. Or even Love and Near-Death. These guys have some serious bad luck.

However, unlike the previous books in the series, the bad luck this time mostly falls on the Morgan in the story, and not on the guy who hopes to be in the band. Not that it’s all sunshine and roses for Rafe Andrade – more that he’s already inflicted all his bad karma on his own self. His part of this story is him getting his shit all the way back together.

Quinn Morgan’s side of this story is that someone seems to be targeting Quinn with extreme malice – and murdering anyone who gets too close. The question is, who?

Rafe was Quinn’s teenage crush. Rafe is just a few years older, but he was running off to tour the country with a rock band while Quinn was still in school. While Quinn graduated with multiple degrees, Rafe hit the stratosphere as a rock god, then pissed it all away with drugs and bad choices.

Three years post-rehab, Rafe finds himself jonesing for his two remaining addictions – Quinn Morgan and getting back up on stage. Rafe is still a great bass guitarist, and whatever the remains of Sinner’s Gin are going to call themselves, they need a bass player to complete the band.

sinners gin by rhys fordRafe’s adopted family, all those Morgans from Sinner’s Gin (reviewed here), Whiskey and Wry (here) and Tequila Mockingbird, may be the entree that Rafe needs to get an audition. But just as Rafe gets close to his dream of playing again, he discovers that nothing is as important as keeping Quinn Morgan safe, and alive, and in his arms.

Escape Rating B+: I can’t imagine Sloe Ride making sense without having read the other books first. Start with Sinner’s Gin and just wallow. It’s awesome.

That being said, what about Sloe Ride as a book and as a culmination of this series?

There are lots of things to like in Sloe Ride. One of the threads that has run through the whole series is about the way that his family treats Quinn. He’s different. At first, it just seemed that he was different because he went into academia, where nearly all the other Morgans have become cops like dad. (There is one who became a firefighter instead, but he’s the black sheep of the family).

It turns out that it’s not just that Quinn took a different life path, it’s that Quinn really is different. In Sloe Ride, we finally get to see a bit into Quinn’s head, and it’s a fantastic place. Like M.C. Escher painting fantastic. If I were practicing psychology without a license, I would say that Quinn has a high functioning form of autism, probably Asperger’s. Exactly what makes Quinn different is never specifically said, but his mind is definitely wired slightly off-kilter. Particularly in the middle of a family of no-nonsense police officers.

That Quinn is gay is not what makes him different. That’s also cool. Whatever is strange about him has nothing to do with who he sleeps with, and that’s a much more interesting way to tell his story.

We also have a story about making a real relationship with your high school crush/older brother’s best friend. It’s a classic for a reason. There’s been lots of looking without touching, lots of history of friendship that can’t be anything more, lots of bittersweet memories. Again, not because Rafe is gay, but because Quinn needed to grow up first.

And because Rafe went out and made a complete clusterfuck of his life. He reminds me of Ezra Hurley in Lauren Dane’s Broken Open. Both men were rock stars, and both men fell into a vicious cycle of drugs and broken promises. Now both have come out the other side of rehab and are trying to find ways to go on with their lives and make up for their assholery with as many people as are willing to listen.

A big part of this story is about Quinn standing up for himself against his family. They all mean terribly well, and they all treat him as fragile as glass. It’s partly because he’s not a cop, and partly because he attempted suicide in his teens. But now he’s pushing 30, and he wants to stand on his own two feet. He just has to elbow his entire family out of the way to get there.

That they all have had this pattern for so long means that no one sits back and looks at a reasonable way of dealing with what is a very real threat to Quinn’s life until it is almost too late. They’ve all been so busy trying to protect him for his own good that he pushes them away, and it is not an unreasonable reaction on his part – it’s just the one most likely to get him killed.

As much as I adore this series, I’m kind of glad that it’s over. I don’t want anything else bad to happen to any of these guys, I love them and they’ve all been through enough. And I’ll confess that the one part of the story that stretches my willing suspension of disbelief is the way that all four guys have become targets of crazed murderers. No group this small has luck this bad.

And even though the reasons that Quinn, and eventually Rafe, were targeted seem slightly more plausible than in a couple of the other books, it was starting to feel like living in the small town where Murder She Wrote used to take place. Too many crazed killers too close together.

Hopefully, now they are all safe. And YAY! there’s a new band in town and they are awesome.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 8-30-15

Sunday Post

We survived Worldcon. The skies over Spokane looked like Mordor, but we survived. We also came home with con crud, really nasty colds. UGH!

We attended the Hugo Awards Ceremony Saturday night. I personally found the results as satisfying as possible under the circumstances. Mileage on that subject varied widely both during the Con and afterward in the blogosophere. Once the complete vote and nomination numbers were released, seeing the works that should have made the ballot but didn’t because of the slate-rigging was heartbreaking. I’m kind of hoping this will die down a bit until January, when the run up to next year’s nomination process begins. The rhetoric in this mess is even more hyperbole-filled than the U.S. Presidential race. There are plenty of pixels spilled on this topic at File770 and George R.R. Martin’s Not a Blog if you want the excruciating details.

I’m going to go read a book. I need to find more good stuff to nominate next year.

clear off your shelf August[1]Current Giveaways:

Break Out, Deadly Pursuit and Death Defying (2 copies, paperback) + Temporal Shift (5 copies, ebook) by Nina Croft
Nina Croft First in Series (Break Out, Bittersweet Blood and Operation Saving Daniel) ebook prize pack
If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins (paperback)

Winner Announcements:

The winners of the Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop are: Adriana (Back to You), Bethany N. (Armada), Michelle L. (Invasion of the Tearling), Janie M. (Bourbon Kings)
The winner of my ARC of A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd is: Faye G.

nature of the beast by louise pennyBlog Recap:

A+ Review: The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny
B Review: Tequila Mockingbird by Rhys Ford
B- Review: The Last Time I Saw Her by Karen Robards
B+ Review: Blood and Metal by Nina Croft + Giveaway
Guest Post by Nina Croft on Living Forever + Giveaway
B+ Review: If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins + Giveaway
Stacking the Shelves (150)

sloe ride by rhys fordComing Next Week:

Keeper’s Reach by Carla Neggers (review)
Updraft by Fran Wilde (review)
Wildest Dreams by Robyn Carr (blog tour review)
Treasured by Thursday by Catherine Bybee (blog tour review)
Sloe Ride by Rhys Ford (review)

Review: Tequila Mockingbird by Rhys Ford

tequila mockingbird by rhys fordFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: M/M Romantic Suspense
Series: Sinners #3
Length: 250 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Date Released: June 27, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Lieutenant Connor Morgan of SFPD’s SWAT division wasn’t looking for love. Especially not in a man. His life plan didn’t include one Forest Ackerman, a brown-eyed, blond drummer who’s as sexy as he is trouble. His family depends on him to be like his father, a solid pillar of strength who’ll one day lead the Morgan clan.

No, Connor has everything worked out—a career in law enforcement, a nice house, and a family. Instead, he finds a murdered man while on a drug raid and loses his heart comforting the man’s adopted son. It wasn’t like he’d never thought about men — it’s just loving one doesn’t fit into his plans.

Forest Ackerman certainly doesn’t need to be lusting after a straight cop, even if Connor Morgan is everywhere he looks, especially after Frank’s death. He’s just talked himself out of lusting for the brawny cop when his coffee shop becomes a war zone and Connor Morgan steps in to save him.

Whoever killed his father seems intent on Forest joining him in the afterlife. As the killer moves closer to achieving his goal, Forest tangles with Connor Morgan and is left wondering what he’ll lose first—his life or his heart.

My Review:

I’m really enjoying this series. I’m reading the back numbers so that when I get to Sloe Ride next month, I’m all caught up.

Caught up in all the fun, that is.

This series blends two rather disparate groups that go even better together than peanut butter and chocolate, even though at first blush (not to mention all the blushes later!) they shouldn’t.

The combination is of a “getting the band back together story” with an interconnected family romance – and the members of the band do not start out as members of the family, and half the band is dead. On the other hand, that solid family are all cops, so if someone is needed to investigate what went wrong, the detectives are right there.

But this series follows a pattern, and it’s a good one (with one minor quibble which we’ll get to later).

sinners gin by rhys fordSinner’s Gin is dead, to begin with. The only surviving member was Miki St. John, and when the book Sinner’s Gin begins (reviewed here) he’s still in recovery, both from grief and from the accident that killed all his friends. When someone starts trying to kill him, he winds up in the very protective arms of San Francisco Police Lieutenant Kane Morgan. And so it begins.

In Whiskey and Wry (reviewed here), we discover that one of the other members of Sinner’s Gin survived. Damien Mitchell is alive and not very well, locked in a sanitarium while guards and drugs try to convince him that he’s someone else, and that Sinner’s Gin is just a coma dream. Until someone tries to murder him, and he escapes to find Miki. He discovers Sionn Murphy, the killer nearly finds them both, and Damien finds Miki at a Murphy/Morgan Sunday dinner.

The other two members of Sinner’s Gin are not coming back from the grave. This isn’t that kind of story. Instead, Miki and Damien need a drummer and a bass player to get back on stage. Into that vacancy walks Forest Ackerman, a young drummer that they met in the way back, when Sinner’s Gin was still scratching their way up, and Forest’s adopted father owned a small recording studio. Their late drummer is the one who got Forest started on the drums. Now it’s his turn to take that achingly vacant place.

But not before an awful lot of shit goes down. Just like in the previous two books in the series, someone is trying to kill Forest, for reasons that are not initially clear. When the killer starts by murdering Forest’s dad, and tries to take out a bunch of cops in the process, Forest finds himself face to face (and body to body) with SFPD SWAT Lieutenant Connor Morgan.

The lust at first contact surprises them both, since Connor has always believed he was straight, and Forest has always believed that no one good could possibly care for him.

As they grope towards each other, and their possible future, the killer continues his attempts to remove Forest from the land of the living. And while it is great that he keeps missing Forest, he does a lot of collateral damage while he tries to zero in on his target.

When he hits Miki and Damien in yet another attempt to take out Forest, he brings the wrath of all the Morgans down on his head.

Escape Rating B: I enjoyed this story a lot. I was on the long flight home from Spokane to Atlanta, and it made the trip fly by. Pun intended. Speaking of puns, I also loved the two plays on words involved in the book. Tequila Mockingbird is a fairly common mangling of the much more famous title, To Kill a Mockingbird. If this doesn’t make sense to you, just say the two titles out loud, one after another. The other bit of wordplay is in the name Forest Ackerman. Forest with one R is one of the protagonists of this story. Forrest Ackerman, with two Rs, is a famous “Golden Age” science fiction writer. Just having returned from Worldcon, which has an award named in Ackerman’s honor, the similarity was a bit hard for this reader to miss, whether it was intended or not..

One of the strengths of this series is the Morgan family dynamic. They are amazing, and being adopted by them would be awesome. It is a family that sticks together and in a good way. In spite of some ups and downs and stresses and tensions, they are something that you don’t often see in fiction, especially the families of the protagonists – the Morgan family is absolutely the opposite of dysfunctional. Not that the members of the family don’t have stuff to overcome, but whatever it is, it isn’t a result of parental abuse or divorce or anything else nasty within the family. Donal and Brigid love and support all of their children and whoever they drag in. And also, the author has made it abundantly clear that the spark between Donal and Brigid is alive and well, even though they’ve raised 8 children to adulthood.

Because the Morgan children mostly have their respective acts together, it stands to fictional reason that the people they bring home with them are particularly damaged, even though they are all very strong in their broken places. Forest is no exception.

His biological mother pimped him out until he was old enough and emotionally strong enough to break away physically if not necessarily emotionally. He was adopted by Frank Marshall, an old hippie who gave him a home and structure and sent him to school, and more importantly didn’t expect to either get a blow job or use him as a punching bag in return. When that old hippie is murdered at the beginning of the story, it sets Forest’s world into a tailspin. Just because Forest is legally an adult doesn’t mean he is remotely ready to let go of the only stable and good person in his life.

Connor steps into the breach, literally, as he is the one who holds Forest as he cries for the man he called “Dad”. What surprises Connor is how much Forest gets under his skin. Connor is the oldest Morgan child, and he always expected to grow up to be his father. That meant becoming a cop, rising in the ranks, finding a wife, having a family. Finding a husband instead has never been on his conscious radar, so falling for Forest throws Connor for an internal loop of epic proportions.

In the middle of the internal angst, there’s the big external elephant in the room. At first, Frank Marshall’s death looks either like an accident or possibly murder for gain. But when someone starts targeting Forest and the studio and coffee shop he inherited, it begins to look like something else.

This is my quibble with the book. As much as I love the Morgans, and loved Connor and Forest together, and I especially loved seeing Forest become part of whatever Miki and Damien’s new band is going to be, the reasons for the suspense in this series are getting a bit further out there.

The band that replaces Sinner’s Gin should probably be named the Bad Luck Bunch, or something along that line. The reason why Miki got targeted in Sinner’s Gin made sense. While the reasons for Damien’s troubles almost made sense, the explanations didn’t quite cover the motives completely. And for Forest, the killer’s motives end up being pretty far out in la-la land. No group this small should be the target of this many completely separate crazed killers. On this score my mind is officially boggled.

sloe ride by rhys fordBut I still love the series and I’m definitely looking forward to Sloe Ride next month. It’s going to be especially fun to see the Morgan in the story as the protectee instead of the protector for a change.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 8-23-15

Sunday Post

Sasquan_Official_Raven_Mascot_by_Brad_FosterThis is weird. I’m writing this before we leave for Sasquan, but by the time you read it, we’ll be on our way back. From here, I’m hoping that our suitcases won’t be overloaded with books, but that may be a vain hope. I try to resist picking up print books in the dealer’s room, because most of what I see I either have an eARC, or I’m willing to wait to get as an ebook. Howsomever, the one thing that is still better with print is signed books. For that, you need a physical copy. I know John Scalzi will be at Sasquan, which means a print copy of The End of All Things is definitely in my bookish future. As for the rest, we’ll see.

Because I’m writing this so far ahead, it is possible that next week’s schedule will be affected by what I manage to read (and OMG write up) while we are at the Con. In other words, contents may shift as the week (or the box) settles.

clear-off-your-shelf-August-202x300Current Giveaways:

Four books from my shelves in the Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop
A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd (paperback ARC)

pattern of lies by charles toddBlog Recap:

A- Review: Daring by Elliott James
B+ Review: Tales: Short Stories Featuring Ian Rutledge and Bess Crawford by Charles Todd
C+ Review: Three Moments of an Explosion by China Miéville
Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop
A Review: A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd + Giveaway
Stacking the Shelves (149)

blood and metal by nina croftComing Next Week:

The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny (review)
Tequila Mockingbird by Rhys Ford (review)
The Last Time I Saw Her by Karen Robards (review)
Blood and Metal by Nina Croft (blog tour review)
If Only You Knew by Kristan Higgins (blog tour review)

Review: Stormbringer by Alis Franklin + Giveaway

stormbringer by alis franklinFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: ebook
Genre: urban fantasy
Series: The Wyrd #2
Length: 374 pages
Publisher: Random House Hydra
Date Released: July 21, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Ragnarok—aka the end of the world—was supposed to doom the gods as well. Instead, it was a cosmic rebooting. Now low-level IT tech and comic-book geek Sigmund Sussman finds himself an avatar of a Norse goddess. His boyfriend, the wealthy entrepreneur Lain Laufeyjarson, is channeling none other than Loki, the trickster god. His best friends, Em and Wayne, harbor the spirits of slain Valkyries. Cool, right?

The problem is, the gods who survived the apocalypse are still around—and they don’t exactly make a great welcoming committee. The children of Thor are hellbent on reclaiming their scattered birthright: the gloves, belt, and hammer of the Thunder God. Meanwhile, the dwarves are scheming, the giants are pissed, and the goddess of the dead is demanding sanctuary for herself and her entire realm.

Caught in the coils of the Wyrd, the ancient force that governs gods and mortals alike, Sigmund and his crew are suddenly facing a second Ragnarok that threatens to finish what the first one started. And all that stands in the way are four nerds bound by courage, love, divine powers, and an encyclopedic knowledge of gaming lore.

My Review:

The road FROM Hel is also paved with good intentions. And every story needs a villain – but it doesn’t need to be the SAME villain. Not even when that villain is Loki.

One last important point, by way of the American humorist Will Rogers, “It isn’t what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that ain’t so.” There are all too many people (and beings) in Asgard that think they know all about Loki and his lies and betrayals, only to discover that what most of them know is wrong, and it’s that wrong that gets everyone in seriously big trouble.

liesmith by alis franklinStormbringer picks up right where Liesmith left off. And if you haven’t read the absolutely awesome Liesmith, Stormbringer is going to be more than a teensy bit confusing. On the other hand, Liesmith is utterly fantastic urban fantasy, so if you love UF, go get Liesmith.

A lot of the things that Asgard believed about Ragnarok come not quite true at the end of Liesmith. (It helps if you know a little about Norse mythology, but deep knowledge isn’t strictly necessary).

Way back in the day, over 1,000 years ago, Odin had plans to subvert Ragnarok by having his beloved son Baldr and his always sacrificed frenemy Loki body swap. Unfortunately for Odin, Loki’s wife Sigyn did a swap of her own, and attended Ragnarok in Loki’s place wearing Loki’s armor. So Baldr and Loki stayed swapped. For a millenia. It messed them both up something awful. Naturally.

Asgard has never recovered from what it perceived as Loki’s betrayal. He wasn’t guilty, but since the prevailing mythos that surrounds Loki is that he is always guilty, everyone acted on that belief, often to their detriment, nearly always to Loki’s.

The story in Stormbringer is all about a whole bunch of Asgardians believing that Loki is the root of all evil, and treating him so horribly that while it can definitely be argued that they are way more evil than anything Loki is even thought to have done, he feels forced to do some fairly bad stuff to fix the mess he has walked into.

Meanwhile, back at the Lokabrenna ranch, Loki’s daughter Hel enlists Sigmund and his friends Wayne and Em on a quest of her own. It turns out that Hel set up a whole chunk of the events in Liesmith for her own purposes. She wants to get her people, the supposedly dishonored dead into Valhalla. But Valhalla is only for those who died in battle, which Hel has finally done.

That not many people die in battle these days has caused a serious population explosion in Hel. Their goddess wants to remedy that by getting them all into Valhalla, and by the way reuniting the dead warriors in Valhalla with their not-illustrious but still beloved wives and small children, who generally did not die gloriously in battle.

So while Loki is being abused all over Asgard and the associated realms by one group, Hel, with Sigmund and Wayne and Em recreate Aragorn’s march from the Paths of the Dead from Return of the King by heading towards Valhalla. The difference is that Aragorn’s march was intended to end in a battle. Hel hopes for peace and reunification, and only ends up with a battle after someone cheats.

The story, like Liesmith, ends with a surprising bang, and goes nowhere that anyone involved, including the reader, ever imagined.

And it’s utterly cool.

Escape Rating A-: One of the things that always gets me about modern interpretations of Loki stories is that Loki is always evil and the big villain. Except he wasn’t. He was a trickster god, a chaos agent. Every mythology seems to have one.

Chaos is not necessarily evil per se, but it is always upsetting to those who benefit from the current status quo and don’t want anything to change.

When Stormbringer begins, Loki and Baldr are both kinda sharing the body of Lain Laufeyjarson, who isn’t either of them exactly, but isn’t not, either. It’s as confusing for Lain and his boyfriend Sigmund as it may be for the audience. The entire confusion factor is much higher because Sigmund is the reincarnation (more or less) of Loki’s wife Sigyn, and his BFFs Wayne and Em, who are both female in spite of Wayne’s name, are reincarnations of Valkyries.

Hel needs Sigmund’s Valkyrie friends. Lain needs Sigmund to rescue him from the mess he has been dropped into, only partly of his own making, in Asgard. And Asgard and all of the other realms surrounding it need to seriously get themselves updated from the 10th century to the 21st.

A lot of what goes wrong on the Asgard side revolves around not paying attention and not keeping up. The Earth has moved on from the days that the Vikings went a-Viking, but Asgard never got the memo. And that’s in spite of warriors in the intervening centuries who have found themselves in Valhalla, WITH all their kit.

So there are two stories going on, Thor’s kids taking Lain on what they believe is a one-way trip to retrieve their father’s treasures by way of a past that never was, and Sigmund and his friends supporting Hel in what becomes a 20th century style protest movement against a tyrannical regime that has gone on way too long.

The story is crazy wild and utterly absorbing. I did find myself wishing I knew a bit more about Norse mythology, but that’s just me. There is enough explanation to get the reader through the mythical bits.

The Asgardians, who are all-too-appropriately called as, pronounced ass, have acted like asses to everyone around them. The reader wants them to get their comeuppance. Lain falls all too far into the trap of being Loki, and discovers that he really needs Sigmund to keep him making good decisions. Sigmund discovers that he can be a hero with a little help from his and Lain’s friends. It makes their relationship just a bit more equal.

But the thing I loved most about this story was the way that the eventual solutions to the mess all come from women’s ideas and women’s decisions. Not just Hel, but also Wayne and Em and Thor’s daughter Trud and especially Baldr’s wife Nonna. With a little bit of help from the Loki’s other daughters and the part of Sigyn that lives in Sigmund.

Even though the majority of this story is set in Asgard, I would have preferred that the author had stuck to the common English translations or transliterations of most of the names. It is possible to get a bit lost, especially attempting to search Wikipedia for what else is known about some of the characters.

On that infamous other hand, that Lain’s car turned out to be Sleipnir was just plain awesome.

~~~~~~ TOURWIDE GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

As part of the tour, the giveaway is a $25 gift card to the eBook retailer of the winner’s choice + eBook copy of LIESMITH by Alis Franklin

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TLC
This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews.
***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 8-9-15

Sunday Post

Today is officially National Book Lovers Day!

I’m not sure a single day is sufficient. If you believe in the “so many books, so little time” school of thought then one day barely scratches the surface (or makes a dent in the towering TBR pile). But it is lovely that there is an official day to promote the love of books and reading and to support those of us who are perpetually lost in a good book. Even when we are sometimes lost in a bad book.

The summer doldrums also seem to be over. We have giveaways again, and winner announcements. There are also a couple of giveaways coming up this week, so stay tuned.

eReaderGiveaway_Horz_BPCurrent Giveaways:

Two Kindle Fires, one Kindle Paperwhite, one Kindle Touchscreen plus dozens of author prizes in the Summertime eReader Giveaway
All 6 titles in the Harlequin End of Summer Tour, a limited edition Harlequin notebook plus a $50 Visa gift card in the End of Summer Tour

Winner Announcements:

The winner of Flask of the Drunken Master by Susan Spann is Brandi D.

back to you by lauren daneBlog Recap:

Summertime eReader Giveaway
Guest Post by Lauren Dane – Hurley Family Summer Itinerary + Giveaway
B+ Review: Back to You by Lauren Dane
B+ Review: Charming by Elliott James
B Review: Whiskey and Wry by Rhys Ford
B+ Review: One Good Dragon Deserves Another by Rachel Aaron
Stacking the Shelves (147)

 

 

end of all things by john scalziComing Next Week:

Stormbringer by Alis Franklin (blog tour review)
You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day (review)
Fearless by Elliott James (blog tour review)
The End of All Things by John Scalzi (review)
Doctor Who: The Drosten’s Curse by A.L. Kennedy (review)

Review: Whiskey and Wry by Rhys Ford

whiskey and wry by rhys fordFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: M/M romantic suspenses
Series: Sinners #2
Length: 254 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Date Released: August 19, 2013
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

He was dead. And it was murder most foul. If erasing a man’s existence could even be called murder.

When Damien Mitchell wakes, he finds himself without a life or a name. The Montana asylum’s doctors tell him he’s delusional and his memories are all lies: he’s really Stephen Thompson, and he’d gone over the edge, obsessing about a rock star who died in a fiery crash. His chance to escape back to his own life comes when his prison burns, but a gunman is waiting for him, determined that neither Stephen Thompson nor Damien Mitchell will escape.

With the assassin on his tail, Damien flees to the City by the Bay, but keeping a low profile is the only way he’ll survive as he searches San Francisco for his best friend, Miki St. John. Falling back on what kept him fed before he made it big, Damien sings for his supper outside Finnegan’s, an Irish pub on the pier, and he soon falls in with the owner, Sionn Murphy. Damien doesn’t need a complication like Sionn, and to make matters worse, the gunman—who doesn’t mind going through Sionn or anyone else if that’s what it takes kill Damien—shows up to finish what he started.

My Review:

sinners gin by rhys fordWhen I first read the awesome Sinner’s Gin (reviewed here) it was so much Miki St. John’s story that I couldn’t figure out where a series might take off from until the very, very end. So much of Miki’s angst in that story is that his family-of-choice, his bandmates in Sinner’s Gin, are all unequivocally dead in the accident that wracked, and nearly wrecked his body.

You can’t get the band back together if most of the members are in the afterlife. This isn’t that kind of series.

But at the very end, we discover that Damien Mitchell, Miki’s brother-from-another-mother, isn’t really dead. People just want him to believe that he is someone other than Damien Mitchell, and have locked him in an asylum to make him believe it. And sometimes he nearly does.

Then the shit hits the fan, and some unknown villain torches the place and guns down Damien’s attendant/bodyguard. Damien seizes his chance with both hands and one stitched-together body and escapes.

His memory is swiss cheese, but there are a few things he’s sure about. Miki and San Francisco. So he hitchhikes from middle-of-nowhere Montana to the City by the Bay, and starts busking for spare change in front of one of the bars that Sinner’s Gin used to play in front of, hoping against hope that Miki will find him.

Instead, Damien finds Sionn Murphy, now the owner of Finnegan’s and a wounded man in search of his own answers. As they begin to tentatively reach for each other, Damien’s would-be killer finally tracks him down. Damien flees, hoping to draw the deadly fire away from the man that he might be starting to love.

With bullets and eventually body parts flying all around them, Sionn and Damien finally figure out that their two battered hearts are much better together (and safer) than either of them is separately.

By admitting they belong together, Sionn’s relationship with Damien finally gives back to Damie the one person he has missed above all – because Sionn’s cousin Kane Morgan is Miki St. John’s lover, and it’s through that extended family that Damien is exposed to the almost predatory whirlwind that is Brigid Morgan, and that he is reunited with the brother of his heart.

Just in time for the target to focus on both of them.

Escape Rating B: After the OMG moment at the end of Sinner’s Gin, I was really looking forward to Whiskey and Wry. And while I liked this one, I didn’t like it as much as the first book in the series.

So much of Miki’s personality and the depths of his heartbreak are tied up with Damien’s death. Having Damien come back to life, while it is a joyous thing, mutes some of that.

The accident that took out the band was just that, an accident. But all the crap that happens to Miki in Sinner’s Gin, and the shit that happens to Damien in Whiskey and Wry, are very deliberate. I think my WTF meter filled up somewhere along the way. It stretched my belief that two guys who were that close could have that much bad shit happen to them. I want to think that nobody’s karma is THAT bad.

Also, while the psycho that was after Miki made a certain amount of sick sense, the hit man after Damien went into bwahaha territory for me. He didn’t just murder for hire, he also carved them up and tortured them beforehand. We do find out why he’s after Damien, but we never do get to figure out why he is the way he is. Evil for evil’s sake isn’t enough for this reader.

At the same time, the guy who hired the hit man remains in the shadows. Because he stays in the shadows, and no one ever talks to him, we never get his explanation for why he started this mess in the first place. It is one hell of an elaborate scheme, even for a LOT of money. And wouldn’t it have been simpler to kill Damien back when everyone thought he was dead? How was that particular flim-flam accomplished in the first place? Who or what was buried in Damien’s place? Too much skullduggery, not enough explanation.

Again, I’m glad Damien turns out to be alive, but there’s nowhere near enough explanation for how he got dead and why, and everything else, in the first place. However, the danger that everyone is put into because Damien is alive and has escaped felt very real and very scary.

I liked the relationship building between Sionn and Damien. It happens in fits and starts, and that seemed right. They both have an awful lot of wounds that need healing, ones that they come into the story with but haven’t completely dealt with.

tequila mockingbird by rhys fordAfter looking at plot summaries for the next two books in the series, Tequila Mockingbird and Sloe Ride, it is obvious that there is a “getting the band together” thing going on here. But it’s not the same band – it’s going to be something new for Miki’s and Damien’s new lives. And that’s good.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 8-2-15

Sunday Post

It’s Saturday as I type this. I’m in a hotel in Chattanooga because we didn’t quite make it home. There were two problems. One, my new/old car can either go uphill or accelerate,, but not both. there’s this little mountain range between Cincinnati and Atlanta. The car is a 1997 Mazda Protege, and while I’m thrilled to have a car again, the poor baby can only hit 70 going downhill, and drafting behind a truck.

And it’s been a long time since I’ve driven through the mountains. White-knuckling it all the way from one Tennessee border to the other, even in the short direction, makes for one tired and stressed Marlene. Sunday’s trip should be easier. It’s certainly shorter.

I’m even giving stuff away this week (and next week!)

Current Giveaways:

Flask of the Drunken Master by Susan Spann
5 copies of Pure Heat by M.L. Buchman

terrans by jean johnsonBlog Recap:

A+ Review: The Terrans by Jean Johnson
B+ Review: Broken Open by Lauren Dane
A Review: Flask of the Drunken Master by Susan Spann + Giveaway
B+ Review: Deadly Lover by Charlee Allden
B+ Review: Hot Point by M.L. Buchman + Giveaway
Stacking the Shelves (146)

 

 

 

Coming Next Week:

eReaderGiveaway_Horz_BPSummertime eReader Giveaway
Back to You by Lauren Dane (blog tour review)
Charming by Elliott James (review)
Whiskey and Wry by Rhys Ford (review)
One Good Dragon Deserves Another by Rachel Aaron (review)