The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

DNF at 50%.

Caveat – nothing is going to fair well read simultaneously with Muse of Nightmares, but this was particularly insipid.

The pacing felt rushed – before I even knew or liked the characters I was dealing with their relationship. And each of them felt like a cardboard cut-out of “the rake” and “the spitfire.” Everything was predictable. The children (I hate children in books) were a pathetic attempt at a cute diversion.

Perhaps the second half of the book is is inspired. An opus if you will. I truly don’t care. I was in no way invested in the characters or their relationship and had begun watching Bubble Guppies to get some characters I enjoy.

I enjoyed the first book in this series. You can check out my review here. For now I’m off to watch Gill and the gang and try to choose a book that doesn’t shatter under Muse’s majesty.THe

The Last Hour of Gann by R. Lee Smith

** spoiler alert ** Good God Almighty. That was awful. Like a root canal – you’re just so thankful to be on the other side, but you can still remember the pain.

And heretofore I shall refer to this book as Space Outlander. (See my review). Rape. Suffer. Rape. Rape. Degradation. Rape. I’m talking more than 100 pages of rape and humiliation for a heroine that we’d already watched have a pretty rough go for the 600 previous pages. I gagged reading parts of this book. And at least Outlander had Jamie Fraser. Meoraq was pretty pathetic as a romantic lead – although I thought he rocked until sex entered the picture.

I absolutely know and respect that readers get off on the pain. They like their heroines to be brought low so they can enjoy the ride back up. Eventually there comes a point when I can’t be raised up. I’m trampled and resentful. Taken completely out of the book by my discomfort and my rolling eyes. As I told a friend – if my kindle started spitting hundreds like an ATM at the end of this book it still wouldn’t have been enough to raise my spirits.

I was curious about the book for a while before I tried it. I went in blind. Usually that’s good – here it was a mistake.

That said – I had the experience. Now I am immeasurably thankful that it’s over.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

The inside flap refers to this book as transcendent. And I thought “right. So many authors think their work is transcendent. But I read a lot. And I rarely transcend.” Then, imagine my horror and delight when I open the book to the dedication page and see John Irving’s name there. The man is my hero. (Seriously. My kid should thank his lucky stars that I couldn’t talk his dad into that name Irving.) And I wondered if perhaps John Boyne wasn’t getting a bit ahead of himself.

Nope. Turns out this book lives up to the hype. And is so much more.

I don’t want to tell you much about it. I will say it’s an epic journey through the life of one amazing and ordinary Irishman. (That sounds trite and like a movie ad and doesn’t even cover any of the book’s true nature, but that’s all I’m giving you). We meet Cyril just before he’s born, and we’re mostly there til the end. His life. His love. His lies. He was so far from a perfect hero that it made him everything a hero should be – interesting and thought-provoking and real.

I loved every minute of this book. Enthralled from beginning to end. It will be my 2018 Book of the Year. Hands-down. I feel kinda bad for everything else I read this year – particularly for whatever I pick up next.

I’m a better person for having read this.

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

****ARC received for an honest review****

So I’m having this argument with myself – about comparing this book with Beartown. Bc I know that’s not fair. Owen Meany was the book that spoke to me in my 20s. Encapsulated all those feelings rushing through me like a river gone over its banks. And Beartown did that for me in my 30s – it felt like every word came from my heart.

Which means I loved and hated Us Against You for not being Beartown. UAY didn’t have the same magic. The same cadence. The same pull. But…it did have a different magic, a different cadence, a different pull.

I thought characters became fully flushed out – they got the story they deserved. But some characters got things they didn’t deserve – the story felt harder than it had to be in parts. Too much wringing of emotions. Too much always shooting for the fences.

In Bull Durham Crash tells us “Throw some ground balls – it’s more democratic.”

I don’t generally highlight much while I read. But with Backman it’s a compulsion. 19 highlights when truly I could have highlighted the entire book. This one felt a little jerkier. Too much foreshadowing. A little heavy on the promise of the story to come rather than the story in front of us. But even then it was brilliant. Backman can write a damn book.

Oh yeah – and the ending? Crushed it.

<b>Perhaps because there are both good and bad people living here, and that makes us complicated, because it isn’t always so damn easy to see the difference. Sometimes we’re both at the same time.</b>

 

Recent Notable Reads

I’ve been blogging over at Alleskelle.com lately, but I thought I might toss a few of my favorite recent reviews out there and say “hey y’all!”

 

Eyes of Silver, Eyes of Gold by Ellen O’Connell

Western romances are a difficult genre for me. I love them in theory. Cowboys are yummy. But frequently the stories are too silly – characters relegated to two-dimensional prejudices and sketches. And this book could have gone that way.

Cord is half Native American in the old west in the early 1900s. He’s had a few violent incidents that led to this reputation for being a psychopath. Cord revels in his reputation – doing nothing to stop it even amongst his own family. Anne is the only person not afraid of Cord – sort of Bc he’s really a good guy. Also sort of Bc she’s nuts.

I loved that this book started with the action out the gate. At 6% I leapt out of my relaxing bath Bc no way could I calmly read surrounded by bubbles. Cord and Anne had a painful beginning – pun intended. And then they were “married,” but the book had the most amazing slow burn feel. Cord and Anne had these doubt and issues and communication problems that made one he

ll of a climb to CordAndAnne. So delicious.

Another favorite thing – the writing is so pared down. OConnell trusts her story to carry the reader. And she has good reason. I got lost in this book. Incapable of putting it down. Totally blissed out. I fell for Cord so hard y’all prolly heard the splat from your house.

I heard about this book in my Old School Romance Book Club. I get some of my best recs there and haven’t been led astray once. I can’t wait to read through Ellen OConnell’s entire works.

Here Kitty, Kitty By Shelly Laurenston

5 jackass stars. Really – it was a 4 Star read. But I enjoyed them so much – I’m giving it 5 stars for unlikable characters who were so much fun.

You need to read the other books in the series before you read this one. It stands alone – but nothing will make as much sense if you haven’t read the others.

I loved this book Bc Angie and Nik were awful – selfish, rude, obnoxious twats totally perfect for one another. (And Nik – a redneck, super-cuddly tiger? Can I get a hell yeah? He is a personal-favorite hero for sure.)

Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan

YES! YES! YESSSSSSSSSSS!

Dude. Believe the hype…

So here’s the thing about angsty books. I love/hate them. When done well I love the reverse rollercoaster. As low as the author brings me – I know that I’m going to zoom up higher. A huge rush after abject misery. It’s oddly addicting. But most authors don’t trust themselves or their readers. They create horrid, agonizing, OTT circumstances (cancer, homelessness, unloving parents, death) that shove you out of the story rather than sucking you in. I don’t wanna be depressed when I read – I want to be riveted. I don’t want to be pounded by waves of despair that have me chucking my kindle – I want to be adrift in a gentle sea of misery from which I can see the shore. And Kennedy Ryan NAILED IT!

Hot freakin damn, y’all. I haven’t been this miserable/happy in forever. I stick with the lighter reads for the reasons listed above. However, nba players are my jammmmmmm (irl, too – although you wouldn’t know id dated a couple from looking at my shorty husband). I also like to check out books that have good buzz. Frequently I get to 3% or 10% and know it isn’t the book for me. I thought the beginning here was a little stilted – but Iris was too likable to give up on early. And August was compelling – in his own way.

The gist of the story – on the cusp of the rest of their lives 2 people meet and are so clearly meant to be together. But Iris finds herself in a situation from which she can’t escape. I felt so trapped along with Iris – my heart slamming into my rib cage. I kept setting the book down to walk circles around my house. I felt Iris in my toes and the palms of my hands and in my heart and soul. August was a wonderful hero – warm and strong and with his own struggle. But this is Iris’s story – Iris’s strength. She’s a gorgeous, compelling, inspiring and meaningful heroine. And I fell in love with her.

I came for the hero. I stayed for the heroine. (And while I didn’t sob I did cry twice – which is HUGE. Books rarely rarely make me cry).

I’m going to go get in the shower. Turn some slow jams on my bathroom speaker. Stare into space under the hot water and think about what I just read and what I just felt and how glorious it all was.

Warnings – seriously, y’all. The lows are low. If you’re sensitive to abuse/violence etc be prepared or don’t read this book. At one point I thought I’d puke – and this isn’t a trigger for me. Kennedy Ryan doesn’t sugar-coat shit. Mad respect for that.