What I’ve Been Reading

I’m at 196/200 on my Goodreads challenge this year. Here are the highlights of the last month or two:

FredThe Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant by Drew Hayes

Fred is disappointed by his un-death. Vampires are supposed to be gloriously uninhibited, glamorously dark and gruesomely adept at, well, just about everything. He fails at the most basic level: feeding himself. But Fred is an awesome accountant and that is what keeps him going when his heart stops beating.

I loved Hayes approach to the paranormal. Through Fred, he dispels many myths about the supposed monsters in our midst with a tone of self-depreciation. Magic still plays by the rules and there are scary Others, but there is also Albert, who is the sweetest Zombie you are ever likely to meet. Seriously, he’s adorable. I wanted to adopt him by the end of the book. Fred is obviously taken by him also, as by the end of his numerous adventures, he acquires a posse of supernatural friends, each more freakish than the last.

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tale of Fred was an Audible Daily Deal. Hayes gives Fred such a fantastic voice, I’d have enjoyed reading this as much as I did listening. Highly recommended for fans of paranormal with a hefty slice of humour.

LexiNo One Lives Twice (Lexi Carmichael Mystery, #1) by Julie Moffett

I loved almost everything about this book: the characters, the plot and, most importantly, Lexi. Her voice drew me right in. She’s quirky, but not too quirky; geeky, but not so out there regular folks can’t connect. She’s just the right combination of kick-ass and naiveté, with both extremes extended to a believable degree.

The plot is intriguing, and though the mystery aspect is revealed methodically along the way, the action keeps the pace flowing, right up until the last page.

Then there are the three main men: Slash, Finn and Elvis. The flirtation between all these characters was just enough to add spice, to make you wonder who might be Lexi’s match. I look forward to seeing her figure that out—or not—as the series continues.

GlitterlandGlitterland (Glitterland #1) by Alexis Hall

My Goodreads review: A tad wordy, but I laughed and I sniffled. Wonderful characterisation. (What? I’m never wordy. Why would you say that…)

This book deserves many more words (that’s not a joke), but when I wrote the review, I was probably in the middle of revisions or edits and just about out of words. So here are some more thoughts:

I love the way Alexis Hall writes. His characters are engaging and absorbing. Before you know it, you’re drawn into their story and their world, even if you don’t have a lot in common with either. This happened with Prosperity, which was like nothing else I’d ever read (this is a good thing), and it happened again with Glitterland.

Books with severely depressed heroes aren’t something to take lightly, but I’m a firm believer of everyone deserving a story, and everyone deserving a happy ever after (if you didn’t know I was a romantic by now, you’ve been reading someone else’s blog). What makes this book work are three things: Sensitivity, humour and hope. Though Ash goes to some dark places, there is always the hope he’ll come out the other side.

Then we have Darian, who is utterly and disarmingly wonderful.

DarkThe Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson

‘The Saga of the Seven Suns’ is the very definition of space opera, so I’m thrilled Kevin J. Anderson has returned to this universe. My enjoyment of this first book in the new trilogy is due in no small part to the narration of Mark Boyett. He does an amazing job of rendering tone and emotion.

It’s been a few years since I read the last book of the previous saga, yet when I dove into this book, the complete story came rushing back to me—and not just because Anderson does a fantastic job of layering in previous events. His universe is complex and coherent. It’s easy to dwell in and a delight to return to. As a writer, I’m jealous of it. It’s so complete!

Anyway, The Dark Between the Stars picks up twenty years after the end of the elemental war. There is a new threat on the horizon which may require all of the galaxy’s inhabitants to work together. Not enough time has passed for the elemental races to be at peace, however. Many of the wounds are still fresh.

As always, there are a number of personal stories threaded through galactic events, weaving a rich tapestry of plot and emotion. As a reader, I care about these people! Anderson also delivers some shocking blows this time ‘round.

I just finished the second book in the trilogy, Blood of the Cosmos, and need the next book ASAP!

WardedManThe Warded Man (Demon Cycle, #1) by Peter V. Brett

At first, I wasn’t sure I’d like this. The story starts out with a young protagonist, Arlen at age ten. The idea of reading his life didn’t excite me. I was looking for a ‘grown up’ novel. Then I got caught up by the soap opera of village life and met the other two main characters, Leesha and Rojer. By then, Arlen’s future was in peril and I had to read on.

Despite the quick progression of years, the characters are ‘grown up’ at very young ages. Their days are hard and their nights are cruel. The demons stalking the land every night have just as devastating an effect during the day, imprisoning the populace with fear.

Engrossing, emotionally absorbing and, at times, more exciting than is healthy. 🙂 And there’s an impossible love affair. Oh, and a hint this world didn’t always exist in such a primitive state.

I’ve already read the next two books in this series—The Great Bazaar and Brayan’s Gold and The Desert Spear—and am booking time to continue on to The Daylight War. The Desert Spear was a slower read as it covers much of the same ground as the end of The Warded Man, but it is a good and necessary retelling!)

KeepsPlaying for Keeps (Glasgow Lads, #1) by Avery Cockburn

This one is the surprise entry! I picked Playing for Keeps up last week after seeing a tweet about it being free (for a limited time). To be honest, I’m usually a little leery of self-published books, but I really liked the cover and having just finished reading Kate McMurray’s Rainbow League books (which are very entertaining), I found myself still in the mood to read about sweaty, sexy, sporty men.

First things first, this book is well written and well edited (in my humble opinion). Had I paid the $2.99 cover price, I’d not have been disappointed. Secondly, it’s a damned good story! The series is based around a Scottish LGBT football club, the Warriors. Fergus is the new captain—a position he inherited when his ex-boyfriend dumped him and the team to run off to Belgium. John approaches the Warriors regarding a charity football match to raise awareness for New Hope, a charity funding refugees from places where their preferences come with a death sentence. Add in the fact Fergus is Catholic (and half Irish) and John is Protestant (and the son of a proud Orangeman) and you have lots of delicious conflict.

I loved several aspects of this story. Fergus and John were wonderful characters—both flawed, both very human. I also liked the way Avery Cockburn dealt with the Scotts dialect. Very readable, with interpretation made very clear by context. I learned a lot about modern Scotland reading the book, which is a plus for me. Finally, the ending is very satisfying in that both characters have to put aside prejudice and preconception to make their relationship work.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book, Playing to Win. Also, I am possessed by the maddening desire to yell “Yaldy!” every time I’m excited.

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