[Book Review] Space romance, running from aliens, and lots of suspicion

When I first launched theCanaryReview a few years back, I was going to make it a blog dedicated solely to space opera books. Then, I realized I’d never be able to sit still within one subgenre.

But I still love them. And so I bring you a couple more fun reads from this delicious sci-fi romance gene.

Enemy Within by Marcella BurnardEnemy Within (Enemy, #1)

Captain Ari Rose is the only person to survive being a prisoner of war of humanity’s alien enemies. Ever. Stripped of her command and banished to her father’s scientific expedition to finish a Ph.D. she doesn’t want, Ari wonders why she bothered to survive. But when pirates commandeer her father’s ship, Ari once again becomes a prisoner.

As far as pirate leader Cullin is concerned, if Ari hasn’t been brainwashed and returned as a spy, then she must be part of a traitorous alliance endangering billions of lives. Continue reading

Today’s Book Blurb: I’m not sure where to start…

Another Friday, another zany blurb from the ethersphere of the book world. Enjoy?

 

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“Squirrel shifter Elly has been captured by Freedom, beaten, and then handed off to be raped. Only her new hotter-than-hell jailor, Deuce Pierce, isn’t keen on forcing her and is all about saving her curvy, furry ass and getting her to safety. After she’s freed, she can’t forget about the lion who saved her life, and she hunts for him, determined to find the man who haunts her.”

– Deuces Wild (Ridgeville #5) by Celia Kyle

[Book Review] A sleepless night and a clever, clever book

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N. Holmberg

28418764“I’m just gonna read 15 pages before bed.”

Famous last words, right? 275 words later, I’d polished off this clever fairy-tale and it was way past my bedtime.

Here’s the setup:  Maire lost her memory four years ago but managed to make a life for herself in a small town. Then she loses her bakery. Then her family. Then her freedom. As a slave to a deranged master, the only thing Maire has left is her mysterious ability to infuse her cooking with her magic. The ante goes way up as her new master forces her to use her magic for evil purposes.

Add in a winged spirit-creature and maybe-lover, lots of gingerbread, vicious marauders, escape attempts and cosmic creation.

With a bakery set-up (and the girly cover), I was expecting chic-flick lite – something whimsical and dramatic and funny. But the story was darker, deeper and more mature than I expected, certainly far from humorous. It moved between themes of compassion and forgiveness to real moments of bleakness despair. Everything that happens in fantasy adventure happened, but with a this is real life, and it’s not always pretty turn to it. It was an odd and clever combo of low fantasy grit and lovely fairy tale.

We follow resilient, strong-hearted Maire through her trials. It’s a spark of Cinderella minus prince, with a dash of amnesia, a sprinkling of abduction and torture, with a side helping of a strong current of importance-of-family. Think: a grittier Robin McKinley.

That said, in an odd way, things came both too hard to Maire, and too easy. What could have had simple answers, took the entirety of the book. When the book decided to be hard on Maire, it didn’t do things halfway.

The mystery kept me reading, but I figured a bunch of things out way ahead of the big reveal, so there wasn’t much to feed the mystery-guesser in me until the very, very end.

Overall, I’m of mixed opinion on the story. It’s a cool story that explores some pretty dark and deep places. But…Take all that together, give it a shake, and you get a canary rating that’s a bit mixed. I’d recommend this to anyone wanting traditional fantasy + romance lite + a smart, mature character with a Jane Eyre level of compassion in the face of suffering.

Canary rating:

(I enjoyed the read, but I probably wouldn’t pick up a sequel…)

Book provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Cover Made Me Read It: Killing Sarai by J.A. Redmerski

This one is a little different. It’s not fantasy. It’s not Science Fiction. It’s not even speculative or young adult. It’s a suspense/thriller/assassin/romance. But just look at those covers. (You get two, because I couldn’t pick editions.)

The Book I Ended Up Reading. Cuz Cover.

Killing Sarai Killing Sarai2
Yeah.

The Plot: “Sarai was only fourteen when her mother uprooted her to live in Mexico with a notorious drug lord. Over time she forgot what it was like to live a normal life, but she never let go of her hope to escape the compound where she has been held for the past nine years.

Victor is a cold-blooded assassin who, like Sarai, has known only death and violence since he was a young boy. When Victor arrives at the compound to collect details and payment for a hit, Sarai sees him as her only opportunity for escape. But things don’t go as planned and instead of finding transport back to Tucson, she finds herself free from one dangerous man and caught in the clutches of another.”

Continue reading

The Cover Made Me Read It: Master of Crows by Grace Draven

Here’s another cover that I couldn’t pass by. Crows and flowy hair. What more can you ask for?

What? Plot? Psh. Who needs plot?

The Book I Ended Up Reading. Cuz Cover.

Yeah.

The Plot:

Welp, on the one hand, you have the renegade sorcerer Silhara, reticent avatar of the evil god, Corruption. On the other, you have Martise a young slavewoman-turned-spy who’s been promised her freedom if she is able to find the proof of Silhara’s crimes that would lead to his execution. She’s set up to be his scribe and apprentice. He is all sorts of suspicious.

Inevitably, romance.

Continue reading

The Cover Made Me Read It: Miserere by Teresa Frohock

The Cover Made Me Read It: Miserere by Teresa Frohock

When it comes to gorgeous covers, I am helpless to resist. Here’s a book I picked up based off on cover art alone. Blurb? Story? Psh.

The Book I Ended Up Reading. Cuz Cover.

Miserere by Teresa FrohockYeah.

The Plot: In a purgatory-style world that exists as a war zone between our world and Hell, demons walk the lands and the prayer has power. When exiled exorcist and ex-holy knight Lucian Negru refuses to help his sister’s takeover plot to release demons upon the lands, she imprisons and cripples him.

Lucian escapes and uses his powers to open a Hell Gate to save the soul of an innocent, breaking the conditions his exile. That sets him on a collision course with Rachael, the lover he betrayed and abandoned to die in Hell years ago and who is tasked on finding Lucian and bringing him to justice. At the same time, his power-hungry sister will stop at nothing to have him broken and back at her side.

Impressions:  Pleasantly surprised! Torment, angst, and redemption? Oh yes. This book hit just the spot. What makes this even better is that though we have uber-tormented and scarred characters, they also come with a healthy dose of matureness, self-aware in a lot of decisions they make. It’s a really nice change of pace. A super sweet story steeped in violence and darkness.

The initial premise reminds me of The Curse of Chalion lite. The minuses? Predictability and a simple plotline that I didn’t really mind. I’ve been starved for an easy fantasy+romance combo read, and this delivered.

The Verdict:  

(If there were a sequel, I’d read it!)

Have you had covers that put books on your read shelf?

[Book Review] In which I fondly remember all those terrible books that made me angry.

Circle of Fire by Keri Arthur

Circle of Fire (Damask Circle, #1)

Here’s the thing, Canaries. I want a book to rile me up. I want to be excited about an unexpected twist, angry about how bad it is,  or gnashing my teeth over some stupid decision a character made. But in between the good, the bad, and the unforgivably bad books, there’s another genus of books – those that are merely pleasantly lukewarm.

That’s kinda this book: a good read, generic backdrop, a plot about Dark Pasts, Evil Sorcery, and Angry Magic Serial Killer, and the usual romantic misunderstandings culminating in a true-love happily ever. I read Circle of Fire over a few enjoyable hours, and I have nothing much to say about the experience. Maybe, “It wasn’t bad”? or “the story was okay”?

The overall set up is intriguing. We get Madeline Smith. Her sister thinks she’s crazy, her brother-in-law thinks she killed her husband, and Madeline is beginning to suspect that she’s finally gone crazy. Maddie’s being haunted by a ghost. Except this ghost claims to be real, and that if Maddie doesn’t help him, he’s going to die and a serial killer is going to go free.  Continue reading