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TammieCausey

Tammie's Reading Reviews

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The Bloodforged
Erin Lindsey
Truthwitch
Susan Dennard

Saving Grace

Saving Grace - Michele Paige Holmes Saving Grace is a Regency romance set in the latter part of the Regency period. Just like in most of these type books there was a lot of second guessing how the other person feels and being foolish about it, but for some reason I just keep enjoying these anyway. They are mostly great for when I don't have a huge attention span for reading, but just want to breeze through something light and easy. And they also warm the heart and make me feel good, sort of like a Hallmark movie. This one had a very grumpy love interest whose heart needed melting after the loss of his sister and father. The novel started out a bit shaky, but got much better as it went on. At one point I wasn't sure if I liked the protagonist when she was so willing to ruin other people's reputations without seeming to give them much thought, even if it was to save her sister. But later she seemed to realize what she had done and she grew on me until I really liked her.

The Secret of Pembrooke Park

The Secret of Pembrooke Park - Julie Klassen I've read several books by Julie Klassen at this point and I can say that this is one of my favorites. I think it was the mystery that really drew me in. It reminded me a lot of The Tutor's Daughter in that aspect. Although I wasn't sure about a few of my guesses until they were revealed, I did figure out all of the mysteries.

Though a bit long (this is her longest book to date), I found it hard to put down. I liked reading about all the characters. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about the Parson being a love interest at first, but he was humble and not overly preachy which was nice. There was the irritating trope of characters thinking the one they love is in love with someone else that runs prevalent in these Regency romances, but I was able to overlook it.

Minor spoiler here...I did feel like the message of not seeking worldly treasures was a little heavy handed near the end with the way things end up for the character Miles. I was kind of sad and disappointed about that. I really thought he was going to come around and find happiness.

Lady Maybe

Lady Maybe - Julie Klassen I've read several books by Julie Klassen and usually know what to expect. She writes Christian romance that is usually not too preachy, which I like. They are sweet, completely clean romances. Lady Maybe actually surprised me because it is unlike anything else I've read by the author.

There have been several reviewers who disliked this book for one reason or another. Some because they felt like the romance or "sexual" scenes got too descriptive, or because the main character was too tempted and made too many wrong choices throughout the book. Personally I didn't have a problem with this book at all. I like my romances to be clean and I honestly didn't feel like this one wasn't. There is a flash back scene with more description than usual for a Julie Klassen book, that leads up to an act between an unmarried woman and a man, but it was still fade to black with no detail written about the act itself.

This isn't the first Klassen book that I've read that has a character who has done something in their past that they are ashamed of. I like to read about characters that struggle and learn from their mistakes. The difference in this book is that the main character is still struggling with honesty and is tempted morally, and she has several choices to make about her present and future which could lead her down the right path or the wrong path. In the end she does her best to right the wrongs in her life which I think makes the book worth reading.

The point of the book was that there is redemption for all and I thought that point was very well drawn without being preachy. The part where the main character stops the boy from throwing the apple at the woman in the stocks and quotes "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" was a nice touch and helped to drive home the whole message of the book. It was interesting that she went and sat beside the woman in the stocks, and that she forgave her for the things she had done to her. How many of us would do that?

At times I struggled to like the main character or either of the two love interests in the book, but that somehow made the story better and the characters more real to me. Also the fact that there is a love triangle in a Klassen book surprised me as I don't remember any of her other books containing one. But this was a love triangle done right and it made a lot of sense to the story.

I thought one of the best things about this book were all of the twists and secrets involved. It really kept me reading and wondering and hoping I was guessing right about things. In the end I was happy with the way things turned out.

An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes - Sabaa Tahir I was not expecting to enjoy An Ember in the Ashes so much. I had put off reading it for a while in favor of other things, but now I wish I had read it sooner. It contained everything that, for me makes a good fantasy read. Good world building, interesting characters, a bit of heartbreak, more than one point of view, danger, and some romance were all present. Oh and it has maps too!

While this book was not ground breaking in any way, there are several standard fantasy tropes that are used, I found it very compelling and the characters and situations they faced more complex than most YA fantasy. There are lots of tough choices for the characters to make, and the author doesn't shy away from having them make what seem to be the wrong ones at times, or are they the wrong ones? It made me wonder what I would do in those same situations.

One of the things I really dislike sometimes about YA fantasy is that a villain is built up as being a really horrible dreaded person and then they end up falling short of that, mainly so that the main character can escape their wrath without having to endure too many horrors. I didn't find that the case with this book. The Commandant is very nasty to Laia and does some horrible things to her. There is a constant threat of danger in this book and it kept me reading and on the edge of my seat.

Another thing I liked about this book were the duel points of view from opposing sides, and was I anticipating when Laia and Elias would meet, and then later when they would conspire together, and possibly fall in love. I really liked Laia and the fact that she was just a normal girl who had to learn how to become a spy and figure out who she could and couldn't trust. She felt very real to me. I also really liked Elias and his conflicted feelings. Both points of view were equally compelling.

I have said for a long time that I don't care for love triangles in books, but it seems like the love triangles in several books I've read lately haven't bothered me. This one would be the same, except I guess it's a love square in this book. I think if done correctly love triangles (or squares) are ok. This wasn't the standard love triangle where feelings are based on silly things like how hot someone is or love at first sight. This love triangle didn't feel juvenile at all, but very adult. The mixed feelings of all four characters were believable to me. I did feel like the one weak link would have been Keenen. We don't really get to know him as much as the other three characters. It was actually kind of compelling to try and figure out who would end up with whom, and well we still don't know for sure.

So this was a surprisingly good read and I'm looking forward to reading the next book in April.

Gilded Ashes: A Cruel Beauty Novella

Gilded Ashes: A Cruel Beauty Novella - Rosamund Hodge Gilded Ashes is set in the same world as Cruel Beauty and is based on Cinderella. But of course this is Rosamund Hodge, so there is a dark twist, but since most fairy tales are dark, at least the originals, I don't have a problem with that. I like to see how her characters get out of the dark corners they are painted into. There is always good that comes out of them in the end. This is a novella that is only 80 pages long, but for only 80 pages the characters felt pretty well developed and the love story didn't feel too insta-love like. It is certainly better than the love at first sight version of Cinderella.

The Glowing Knight: An Orphan Queen Novella

The Glowing Knight: An Orphan Queen Novella - Jodi Meadows I enjoyed The Glowing Knight. It was a prequel story to the Orphan Queen. I do wish it was longer, but it was a great look into how Black Knife came to be. It was refreshing to see that he wasn't instantly good at everything too. He had to learn how to climb walls and run across roof tops and just be stealthy in general. I loved it!

The Ivy Tree

The Ivy Tree - Mary Stewart 3.5 stars. Another good mystery/romantic suspense story by Mary Stewart; The Ivy Tree wasn't my favorite, but was still good. The secret about Mary was an interesting twist, but I'm not sure how plausible the whole premise was. Sometimes I feel like Stewart's books verge on insta-love, but not this one, which was a good thing. This was written in 1961 so there is an excessive amount of smoking compared to today's books and a couple of sexist lines that dated it as well, but it is a product of it's time and I enjoyed reading it as I pictured the early 60s setting. I think the biggest issue I had with the book is that there is so much description. Stewart has a talent for writing good descriptive surroundings, but in this case it was a bit too much and I felt like it ate into a couple of the suspenseful scenes.

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Empire of Storms - Sarah J. Maas 2.5 stars.

*****The following contains spoilers*****

I found the first two-thirds of Queen of Shadows difficult to get through. This is the first book in this series that I haven't given 5 stars. I was disappointed in the way both Chaol and Aelin were written for the first two-thirds of the book. I hardly recognized them.

Throughout the series I've found Chaol to be an interesting character. The Captain of the Guard torn between loyalty and love appealed to me. Celaena/Aelin saw him as loyal to the king when she tried to kill him at the end of book two, but really I saw it as Chaol was loyal to Dorian and he saw serving the king as a way to help Dorian take the throne when the time was right. He was caught not knowing what the right thing to do was at times and Celaena/Aelin was merciless when he made any mistake. I lost a lot of sympathy for Celaena when she tried to kill Chaol. I thought that maybe she would come back and apologize in this book and they would set out to mend the relationship, even if they never had a romance again. But we have to put up with the two of them fighting, judging, and being downright mean to each other through almost this whole book. They didn't act like themselves at all. And Aelin was such a hypocrite blaming Chaol for things that weren’t really his fault, and being angry with him over doing some of the same things she herself was doing or had done. I actually understood Chaol’s trust issues when it came to her since she did try to kill him. I could sympathize with her character in the first three books of the series, but I found it a lot harder to in this one.

Let’s be honest here, it really did seem like the first two books in the series set Chaol up to be the end game love interest of the series. And with her saying things like I’ll always choose you at the end of book two to Chaol I feel like the readers were given false hope. There is a point in the last third of the book where Chaol and Celaena/Aelin finally talk and she apologizes to him if her saying that she would always choose him made him think that everything would be fixed when she came back. It felt like that statement was meant for the readers more than for Chaol. This conversation came much too late in the book. By this point Chaol was well and truly over her and so was I.

Aelin is so arrogant in this book. It felt like we were back to square one with her character, except she was even worse. She completely lacked any of the warmth that was a part of her character in previous books. In book three when she goes to Wyndlyn and finally embraces who she is, she meets Rowan who turns out to be a mentor. There was much growth needed on the part of Celaena/Aelin as a character. She was arrogant, she was hiding from who she really was, she was broken emotionally, so that journey in book three was needed and I thought it had brought growth to her character. She was taken down several notches by Rowan in book three. With Rowan as a mentor type figure he was able to help Aelin become a bit more humble. But for some reason the author decided to do a 180 and make Aelin and Rowan attracted to each other in this book, even when they weren't in the last book. After all of their interactions with each other they showed no sign of romantic attraction for each other, which I found good and refreshing. I liked Rowan as a mentor and nothing more. I didn't think it made much sense and didn't really ring true to the way they had been written before for them to suddenly feel this way. I found that Rowan as a love interest was too in awe of Aelin, pretty much a whipped puppy to be honest, and she was back to her old arrogant, narcissistic self throughout the first two-thirds of this book, only colder than before. During the conversation that she finally has with Chaol, Aelin says she changed. I can agree, and not for the better. Her character actually regressed instead of grew.

And about Rowan, as a character I find him less interesting than Chaol. He is the typical Alpha male that we have read about in countless fantasy novels. He’s constantly described in over the top ways. I got tired of reading lines like: “He was hundreds of pounds of muscle.” (Really? Hundreds? Just how many hundreds are we talking here? Should I be picturing one WWE superstar here or two or three rolled into one?), and “She didn’t know how he could bare the amount of power he held.” We all know what he is, we didn't need to be reminded constantly of how big and powerful he was and how much Aelin lusted after him for it, just like we didn't need to be reminded that he had a tattoo covering part of his face constantly either, which I really don't find an attractive thing at all. Another thing I found weird was all the time they spent lusting after each other and they never had sex. Not that it bothered me that they didn't I didn't even want them together, but for two people who are sleeping in the same bed every night, one of whom is wearing some skimpy night gowns, I didn't find it realistic.

Now that I've gotten what I thought about those relationships out of the way, I have to move onto Dorian for a minute. There was a glaring hole without him as himself throughout most of this book. I couldn't believe it when Aelin wanted to just end him so readily. She hardly seemed to care about him at all until near the end. She blamed Chaol for leaving him, for not rescuing him, but the poor guy did what he could. What was he supposed to do? It took far too long to rescue Dorian in this book. On the list of priorities for Aelin it came near the bottom, after she exacted her revenge on Arrobyn, which seemed to consume most of her time throughout the book. And speaking of Arrobyn, I thought he was taken down much too easily. And there is a part that didn't make sense concerning the will and Lysandra. If Aelin changed the will, then how was there still the part in the will about informing the king about what Lysandra was?

On a positive note, I once again enjoyed the character of Manon, She was the one character in the whole book who actually grew. I also love Abraxos and there were developments with Lysandra that I liked and I liked the characters Elide and Nesryn, although Nesryn felt kind of shoehorned in just so Chaol would have a different love interest now. I do like that Chaol ends up with someone who appreciates him and understands him. Honestly he did deserve someone better than Aelin. It’s her loss. I'm half expecting her to dump Rowan at the end of the next book. I mean he is guy number four now in the series if you count Sam who died. Finally at the end of the book the characters seemed themselves again and we get that same warmth between Aelin, Dorian, and Chaol that was present in previous books, but was missing throughout most of this one. It should have happened long before it did.

Even though I was disappointed in this book I will still be reading the last two books of the series. I do want to see what happens next for every other character in the series.

False Covenant

False Covenant - Ari Marmell False Covenant is a good follow up to Thief's Covenant. I'm knocking half a star off my rating though because of yet another heartbreaking death of a character in this series. I'm not sure how much more of this I can take. I'm going to take a break from this series now and think about whether or not I want to continue.

Thief's Covenant

Thief's Covenant - Ari Marmell Thief's Covenant is a YA fantasy about a thief who was born in poverty, then taken in by an aristocrat, and then ends up in hiding after a horrible event that she is blamed for. It's a rags-to-riches-to-rags story. There are quite a few time jumps in this book and at first I wasn't crazy about the time jumps interrupting the main story line, but after I got used to them they didn't bother me at all. I liked every one of the characters in this book and a couple of the deaths saddened me. In tone it reminded me a little bit of Rachel Aaron's Legend of Eli Monpress series. A fun read with some dark touches, the fun balances the book out perfectly so it isn't too dark. This was another book that I initially thought was written for adults. I wasn't really that disappointed by it being a YA novel though. While it isn't as in-depth as most adult fantasies, I enjoyed it being a lighter read. This is a four book series and I will be reading the next one.

Snow Like Ashes

Snow Like Ashes - Sara Raasch 3.5 stars. After a rocky start I finally finished Snow Like Ashes. The paragraph where the protagonist, Meira acted like a silly school girl over her sparring opponent's good looks annoyed me. For a while she pretty much got weak in the knees over any good looking shirtless male which resulted in some eye rolling on my part. Plus there was an unnecessary love triangle that really got annoying at one point with the two guys sparring. Once I got past the nonsense though I began to enjoy the book a lot more.

Eventually Meira grows up and we read less about good looks and love triangles and get to more important things. Meira's kingdom has been taken over, the people enslaved by a neighboring one. The book really takes off when Meira is captured. Her character takes on a more serious, responsible tone, and realizes how selfish she has been while most of her people are suffering and dying in work camps. This is the point where I began to like her. I feel like a bit more explanation about the world and the reasons behind the kingdoms being Season and Rhythm would have helped me understand what was going on in the beginning though.

One thing I really liked in the beginning, despite the annoying sparring scene, was that Meira wasn't good at everything. She wasn't very good at hand to hand combat, but excelled in throwing. I liked that Meira's weapon of choice was the chakram, a weapon that hasn't been prominently portrayed in any of the other fantasy books I've read. The chakram in this book seem to be heavily patterned after the ones in the Xena TV show. The one on the cover looks just like it, and while this is a fantasy novel, I kind of wish the chakram had been more realistically portrayed instead of being given the Xena treatment
(e.g. returning to the thrower like a boomerang, the handle in the middle; real chakram were not like that).

Unfortunately later on in the book Meira seems to suddenly get good at all types of combat, from crossbows in ranged combat, to cross bows in close combat, to knives, to whatever is available. She very unrealistically defeats opponent after opponent later in the book. For me that was the only drawback to the latter part of the book though.

I do feel like this story could have been brought to a conclusion at the end of this book. It would have made a great stand-alone. Instead, of course, we are left with one big thread still hanging so that we have to read another book. In the end I enjoyed this book, not quite enough to give it 4 stars, but enough that I want to know what happens in the next book, even if it does annoy me that there is a next book.

Firefight

Firefight - MacLeod Andrews, Brandon Sanderson Firefight was our second audio book pick for our summer road trip. We listened to it on the 12 hour drive home. I had forgotten the funny metaphors and similes the main character uses in these to describe things. This one is on par with Steelheart. We all enjoyed it, even my daughter who had not been interested in reading the series liked it. We really liked the narrator. It was fun to listen to and made the long drive home easier.

Lady Fiasco, My Notorious Aunt Book 1

Lady Fiasco, My Notorious Aunt Book 1 - Kathleen Baldwin Lady Fiasco is the first in a series of companion books. I did not read these in order. I read book 2, Mistaken Kiss first. Book 3, Cut From the Same Cloth, I read third. Out of the three this one was the one I liked the least. The series features Aunt Honore in all three books. In each book she "helps" along the romantic relationship of one of her nieces or nephews. I felt like she was a little inconsistent throughout the books. In this book she is pretty outrageous and some of the things she did would have been pretty shocking for the time period. In book two she just seems like a meddlesome busybody and was not featured nearly as much, and in book three she schemes but is not nearly as outrageous as she was in book one and I liked her the most in that one.

This is a humorous regency romance, but for the most part the humor fell flat in this one. I thought Mistaken Kiss was the most humorous of the three and that one is my favorite. A couple of things that annoyed me about this book where the foot stamping the main character does several times and the aunt and love interest keeping something from the main character that they could have let her in on. As far as the foot stamping goes, I didn't notice it so much in the other two books, although I think it happened once or twice. I have a hard time picturing a grown woman stamping her foot like a little girl when shes upset. It's a childish and unattractive thing for a grown woman to do. I don't know if there will be more books in the series, but for the most part I've really enjoyed the ones I've read. They have been a fun diversion.

Nice Dragons Finish Last

Nice Dragons Finish Last - Rachel Aaron, Vikas Adam Nice Dragons Finish Last was our audio book pick for our summer road trip and happily it lived up to our expectations. I initially thought it was a YA book, but it isn't. However it was still appropriate for my young teen daughter's to listen to. The narrator was great, and that's something that is so important when listening to an audio book. I've enjoyed all of Rachel Aaron's/Bach's books so far. My daughters enjoyed this one just as much as I did. One of them said she would give it 5 stars. We can't wait to listen to the next book in the series.

Spirit and Dust

Spirit and Dust - Rosemary Clement-Moore I was pretty disappointed in Spirit and Dust. It was nothing like Texas Gothic. All of the things that made me adore Texas Gothic were missing in this book. This book lacked the charm that was present in that one. There were no quirky, eccentric characters, unless you count Daisy herself and the rest of the Goodnight family was absent for the most part. Where Texas Gothic was light-hearted and funny, Spirit and Dust was more tense and serious.

Honestly though, this wasn't a bad book. It was a pretty good mystery that contained a few good twists and had it been a separate novel with nothing to do with Texas Gothic I probably would have liked it better.

One thing worth mentioning is a certain scene in a museum in Chicago that contains a dinosaur named Sue. Anyone that has read The Dresden Files will feel a certain deja vu.

Incognita (Fairchild Book 2)

Incognita (Fairchild Book 2) - Jaima Fixsen Incognita is the sequel to Fairchild and I liked it just as much. Most of the time I read free Kindle books without expecting much, but I got both of these books for free and they far exceeded my expectations. This book is about Alistair whom we met in Fairchild. I wasn't all that crazy about him in that book, but here we get to see more into who he really is and he grows as a person which is great. I enjoyed reading about the characters working through their flaws and putting their pasts behind them. This book also focuses more on Lord and Lady Fairchild and their relationship and so it really tells not just one love story but two, which is also great. I really enjoyed reading Lord Fairchild win back his wife's heart. I would have liked to see things resolved between certain family members, but I'm guessing there will be a third book and maybe we will get to that later. I think Jasper would be a good person to make a third book about, but we will see.