Review: Resort to Love (Paradise Key #3) by Priscilla Oliveras

Disclaimer: I am acquaintances with the author; however, I purchased the hardcopy of this book for full price.

It was so easy to fall into Sofia’s life and connect with her story. Oliveras has an obvious talent for crafting a well-rounded character that is more than just her love life. I supported Sofia’s long-term goals from the beginning because they seemed so realistic and just the side of fantastical necessary for an escapism read.

Sofia’s connection with Nate was real and immediate. Just enough angst to be poignant rather than annoying, and just enough detail to craft a rich history between them without relying exclusively on flashback or info-dumps. The shift in Nate’s character felt a bit immediate, but it was easy to see how the events of this book were “the straw that broke the camel’s back” rather than something out of character from what the author initially created. Overall, a lovely happily ever after.

For the most part, the supporting characters of Sofia’s familia were fleshed-out and realistic (with one exception, the gay character who screaming walking cliche). I wish Sofia’s friends had received the same treatment, but I understand the limitations of working within a shared universe and not wanting to step on other writers’ toes. Unfortunately, the result is that I have zero desire to search out the other books and learn those women’s stories.

Overall, a sweet romance and perfect beach (or anytime) read. I look forward to reading more by this author.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Q & A (Star Trek: The Next Generation) by Keith R. A. DeCandido

Disclaimer: I am friends with the author; however, I purchased this paperback at full price.

This twentieth-anniversary celebration of Star Trek: The Next Generation novel is a fitting tribute to the lasting mark Q has left on the franchise. And I can’t think of a better writer to infuse Q’s ridiculousness into text form.

This story includes many new and familiar faces from the Star Trek universe, but they’re all up to the task of sorting out this good, wacky mystery that spans from a single planet to the universe as a whole. The action centers on the Enterprise-E, but DeCandido is a master of interludes. Our visits with the Q and other characters in the greater galaxy are quirky but solid, filled with character depth despite the short passages.

While I didn’t necessarily “like” the new senior officers aboard the Enterprise, I absolutely loved what the author brought to the table with them. Especially our new security chief, a “mustang” officer who didn’t go to Starfleet Academy but rose through the ranks as enlisted first. The connected subplots of Enterprise officers still mourning Data’s death in the film Nemesis while also adjusting to this new “family” was a lovely backdrop to Q’s shenanigans.

About which I can only say, as anyone probably could, “Oh, Q.”

Cons to this story: Too many baseball references. The joke is getting old. Massive pros: Yay for multiverses! DeCandido takes threads from through-out the history of The Next Generation and crafts a solid, enjoyable adventure. I highly recommend this stand-alone novel to all Star Trek fans.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Silver Shark (Kinsmen #2) by Ilona Andrews

I enjoyed this Kinsmen tale much more than the first. While this book is a romance, it certainly doesn’t start out feeling that way. I’d even argue that this is a solid science-fiction story that just happens to include romantic elements as part of the plot. The world-building regarding Claire’s home planet and how psychers operate was detailed but not overbearing for such a short book.

On the other hand, the romance itself has all the trappings of a contemporary office romance, proving once again how great the Andrews are at genre-blending. Claire was a much more interesting character than Venturo, but she has a more interesting life and we spend the book from her perspective.

I don’t think the authors plan to continue this series, but I would definitely read more if they ever did.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

March Wrap-Up & April Goals

The master of my genre liked my tweet about cheese. This was probably the highlight of my month.

In these unprecedented times

I’m tired of getting emails that include that phrase, too.

This newsletter was supposed to go out yesterday, but I stalled out all weekend about what to write. I don’t really have anything new to add to the global discourse about the crazy world we’ve all found ourselves thrust into. In my personal corner of the world, I’d already been working from home 3 or 4 days a week, so switching to full-time telework wasn’t much of a lifestyle change for me. I am limiting my time outside the house to a grocery store run once a week — otherwise, I take walks around my neighborhood. But the spouse is considering essential in his full-time military position, so he’s working as regular. I basically figure he’s getting exposed every day, and all I can do is limit how much I expose other people.

I wish I could say that I was being super-productive in my “other” job, considering how much more time I’m spending at home. Let’s just say I picked a great time to reactivate my World of Warcraft account, because it’s hard to be stressed when tooling around Azeroth while watching comedy specials on Netflix.

Event Cancellations = Books For Sale

At this point, every convention/event I’d planned to attend through this summer has been cancelled. Rightfully so! This means I have books in need of good homes. Because I am now saving money on hotels and other travel costs, I will cover the cost of shipping anywhere in the United States. Now is a great time to escape into another world and call Limani home instead.

Contact me via social media or email me and we’ll work out the details.

March Wrap-Up

  • See above RE: Steel Justice progress.
  • See above RE: lack of convention report for Cleveland Concoction.
  • I managed one website update! The Daemons of Limani page has been updated for the character of Archer Sophin, because it’s hard to feel upset when scouring the internet for the perfect picture of an otter.

April Goals

  1. I really would like to make revisions on Steel Justice. But as a great meme I saw the other day reminded me, it’s okay not to be okay during a pandemic.
  2. My trip to Salt Lake City this month for the day job was also cancelled, but let’s see how many books I can read at home to make up for it.
  3. Website updates: Syri and Liam are demanding that I show off their lovely visages on the Fan Cast page, and it’s not wise to disappoint elves.
  4. And what the hell: Let’s see if I can hit max level on a second character in WoW. My hunter main needs some company, and I have a warlock, mage, and cat druid over level 70 already.

In Case You Missed It

Books Reviews

On the Website

Around the Internet

At least I have excellent coworkers these days (even if they do nap on the job a lot)

Review: Midnight Riot (Rivers of London #1) by Ben Aaronovitch

I devoured this book so quickly, because it had me so absorbed, that I only took one note on my phone about it. “Great example of environment as character.” London itself comes alive in this combination urban fantasy and police procedural that the city is as much a character as Peter, his mentor Nightingale, or river spirit Beverly.

Other than that, it really is hard to be specific about what I loved about this book other than, well, everything. The characters. The action. The mystery, which took some amazing twists and turns. Even the subplots of Peter learning about magic and dealing with the river gods felt as fully realized as the main murder mystery. Nothing dragged, and I was always excited to find out what happened next.

I will definitely be adding this book to my list of genre-blending examples, and I’m excited to add this series to my list of worlds to explore.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Consequence (Dark Tyrant #2) by C.R. Langille

Disclaimer: I am friends with the author; however, I purchased a hardcopy version of this book for full price.

This book picks up immediately after the events of Canyon Shadows, but is easily read as a stand-alone. It immediately grabbed me and sucked me in, with events that are all present-day and much narrower in focus.

This is an apocalyptic scenario played out in real-time, in both a suburban and very rural setting. Toby and his family are thrust to the fore-front due to a certain facet of his family line, and the very realistic issues of lack of communication and access to info about the greater world are starkly portrayed. Even so, I had no time to wish for a bigger scope of information because of how deftly Langille focuses on this one family.

Toby is a man pushed to his literal limits — physically, emotionally, psychologically. Readers can clearly identify with his goal, which makes the final scene all the more heart-rending. My dual hopes for the next book in this series are more information about the bigger picture of events and a continuation of Toby’s story line.

Be warned: This is a dark fantasy that regularly verges into horror territory. Langille does not skimp on the gruesome and visceral in his descriptions, though it’s always to good effect rather than gratuitous.

(Why not 5 stars? Some distracting formatting issues made certain conversations difficult to parse.)

Rating: 4.5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Honor Reclaimed (HORNET #2) by Tonya Burrows

Disclaimer: I am acquaintances with the author; however, I purchased this ebook for full price.

With so many characters introduced in the first HORNET book, I was a bit bummed to realize that the hero of the second installment of this fun series was a brand-new teammate. However, Seth is a compelling character for multiple reasons, and I was still hooked at once.

The obvious dent in Seth’s armor is the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) he experiences as a result of his time as a POW. Luckily, Burrows does not make that the entirety of Seth’s character. He’s got problems, but he’s not “broken.” Even better — falling in love with the heroine does not magically “cure” his PTSD. Obviously PTSD manifests differently in everyone, but I’d like to applaud Burrows for her representation here.

I wasn’t as big of a fan of the heroine of this story. The set-up of Phoebe’s prior connection to Seth felt a bit contrived, and it made the dark moment obvious from a mile away. She was definitely a character with potential, but it went unused. Without giving away spoilers, I wish she’d had more to do at the finale of the book besides cheer lead from the sidelines.

Overall, though, I enjoyed the story, and the political issues didn’t feel dated (unfortunately). Burrows created an excellent plot that let Seth be the hero of the greater plot, turning his previous experiences into an asset. There was also a excellent, tragic twist at the end that had more emotional impact than the romance arc!

Half the entertainment of this series comes from watching the guys interact with each other, both on and off the job. I’m looking forward to rest of this series.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Altered States of the Union edited by Glenn Hauman

Disclaimer: I am friends with some of the authors in this anthology; however, I purchased the hardcopy version of this book for full price.

This was a fun collection of different story-telling styles that explored how events might have been altered in the history of the United States of America. Most of the stories were solid and enjoyable, especially those that included representation from the continent’s indigenous populations. As noted in the introduction, this book was published prior to Donald Trump’s election; unfortunately, the warnings sounded in these pages still ring all to accurately.

Special shout-outs go to “Shall Not Perish From the Earth” by Ian Randal Strock for the interesting narrative style and “We Seceded Where Others Failed,” by Keith R.A. DeCandido for the much-needed boost of levity. And though I didn’t feel that David Gerrold’s “A Brief Explanation of How Budapest Became the Taco Capital of the World” necessarily fit the brief of alternate history story, it was a solid and entertaining work of science-fiction.

Favorite Story: “The City of Oil and Paint” by Sarah McGill. Fascinating premise and gorgeous writing style. I wanted to fall into this world and never wake up.

Story I’d Like Expanded Into a Novel: “Gertrude of Wyoming” by Debra Doyle & James D. MacDonald. This action-packed spy thriller had all the intrigue of a Bond story, but Gertrude had no need to supplement her awesomeness with hi-tech toys. I fell in love with this character AND the world she inhabits, and I’d love to know more about both.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Sapphire (Jewels Cafe #2) by Eva Delaney

I think this series is definitely less on the serious side and more on the absurdly ridiculous spectrum of the fantasy genre. Once again, this “reverse harem” actually means over-the-top and unbelievable wish fulfillment rather than real relationships. I honestly would have enjoyed this more without the sex, if it was just about Sapphire the vampire with her supernatural besties and Bob the hapless human dragged along for the ride.

The friendship aspects of the relationships were much more interesting before the sex got involved. I’d happily read pages and pages more of Sapphire and Wim trading sassy barbs, especially if they’re solving ridiculous crimes together.

The connection with the “spark” spell in the first book is never really explained, so I’m wondering if the relationships in the next book of this series will be a bit more intentional.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Cleveland ConCoction 2020 Cancelled

Based on guidance I received from my employer last week, I had already (with great sadness) withdrawn from attending this year’s Cleveland ConCoction. Later that same day, the announcement came out that the convention was being cancelled.

I know this is a stressful and scary time for everyone, for a variety of reasons. I’m lucky enough that I can work from home full-time as needed, but my spouse is essential personnel at his job (made all the more nerve-wracking due to lung issues he has from burn pit exposure during military deployments). Pinning our mothers down during this period has also been difficult. (Yes, I know you will see this, and yes, and I am talking to you, Mom.)

In good news, though, ConCoction is going virtual this year! Rather than posting my schedule here, like I usually do, I instead encourage you to follow the event for some surprise goodies. This week I’ll be recording a reading from home to contribute to the virtual Author’s Alley. There may be a surprise feline guest or three.

If you were looking forward to purchasing a hardcopy version of one of my books at the event, I have plenty of each in the series on hand. Since I’m saving money on hotel and food this weekend, I will cover the cost of (U.S.) shipping through the end of March for all orders of signed books. Books are $15 each, and I can be reached via social media or jl at jlgribble dot com for more details.

I hope everyone stays safe in the coming weeks. Wash your hands, practice social distancing, and as usual, my blog is a great place to learn about books to enjoy during all your time at home.