All tagged No Thank You

[Editor’s Note: Since Grave Mercy has benefited from a colossal publicity push, we thought it would be worth having a second opinion on this book. Interestingly, Sandra’s take is quite similar to Laura’s. Warning: Some may read this review as slightly spoilerish.]

Set in medieval Brittany, Grave Mercy’s timeless theme of abuse and escape gives the story of Ismae, Death’s Daughter, a contemporary storyline that unfortunately does not work, even when I did my best to employ the concept of Suspension of Disbelief.  

Mortain, the  God of Death, feeds off belief in and worship of him much as humans  nourish themselves  with bread and meat. Without belief and worship, Mortain would starve for lack of sustenance. Ismae Rienne, who Robin LaFevers created in Grave Mercy, bears a deep, red stain from her left shoulder to her right hip,

…a trail left by herbwitche’s poison that [her] mother used to expel [her] from her womb. 

The expulsion failed.

Life for Ismae’s mother was too ugly, dangerous and harsh to bring a child into. Yet, Ismae survived with a mark upon her signifying her role as the daughter of death, Mortain’s progeny. Her earthly father did not perceive the mark of the God Mortain upon her as significant, rather he viewed her as his personal whipping post, something  he could pummel his fists upon thus feeding  his cruel streak.

I felt absolute horror for Ismae.

Warring, warring, a love triangle and more warring.

I had such high hopes for The Shadow Reader—I’d read a number of rave reviews of it and since I’m desperately seeking a new urban fantasy series, I decided to give it a shot. Unfortunately, Sandy Williams’ debut novel, fell flat for me despite its creative premise.

Mckenzie is a Shadow Reader. And, despite her incessant complaining (which is understandable, given all the warring she winds up involved in as a result of this job), this is a pretty sweet gig. Basically, she can read a fae’s (which is basically a magical badass fairy-type person) location when they “fissure” (move from one place to another). She’s really, really good at her job, so her services are in hot demand. She’s been at this job since she was teenage, when the Fae King’s Swordmaster (annnnnd… this is where I should have reminded myself that fae-based urban fantasy simply isn’t my thing—too much royalty) recruits her. During her decade of service with the fae court, she falls in love with the swordmaster, Kyol, though much of the time he chooses to not allow the relationship to progress. So, Mckenzie plans on quitting her job just as soon as she finishes her last exam and gets her degree. Except during that last exam, Kyol interrups her on Very Important Fae Business™ and drags her off into the middle of a fae battle, during which she is kidnapped by a fae rebel, Aren.

This all happens in the first couple chapters. 

At which point, I thought, 

This book is either going to be a badass action trip or tediously detailed as these fae battle for supremacy. 

Unfortunately, we went through Door #2. 

Gentlemen Prefer Nerds by Joan Kilby
I should’ve listened to my instincts that a book titled, Gentlemen Prefer Nerds wouldn’t work for me. 

However, I was compelled to hit the “request” button on Net Galley when I saw that, 

  1. It was published by Carina Press, the massively cool e-publisher that’s doing a lot of creative things both in what they’re publishing and their marketing and DRM-free books;
  2. It promised a heist/caper sort of scenario and I am a giant sucker for heists and/or capers; and
  3. It’s set in Australia.

Unfortunately, those positives didn’t cancel out the numerous problems I had with the premise and characters in this novel. 

The basic plot of Gentlemen Prefer Nerds is that nerdy (more on that later) girl gemologist Maddie Maloney is charged with caring for a pricey diamond known as The Rose (she also discovered the diamond in a mine in Western Australia). As part of her effort to find a nice man, she ends up being conned by a jewel thief known as The Chameleon into allowing him access to the stone, which is then—shocker!—stolen. Maddie is, obviously, suspected for the crime and winds up hooking up with a mysterious English dude who promises to help her recover the diamond and helps her escape from the police while they pursue the thief. 

Okay, so the premise is pretty silly—but I’m often okay with silly premises!