A Mini Book Review: The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter by Rod Duncan

The Bullet Catcher's Daughter by Rod Duncan

The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter (Fall of the Gas-Lit Empire duology Book 1)The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter by Rod Duncan
Review by JM White
My rating: 2 of 5 stars


***Spoiler Alert***

Ever read a book and can’t remember whether you finished it? This is that book. I was drawn into the interesting gas-lit world. I didn’t quite buy into the twin cross-dressing idea – but heck, the world was interesting.

In the long haul, the writer lost me in the details. I was confused by the underlying plot and none of the other characters (save for maybe the agent) were memorable. I liked the idea of the living on the boat but it was hard to buy once the story set up and more of the world was revealed. Elizabeth Barnabas tries to be badass but the story falls short of making me feel like she really is.


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Mini Book Review: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

The Falconer (The Falconer, #1)The Falconer by Elizabeth May
review by J. Morgyn White
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2 1/2 stars is what I would like to give Ms. May’s The Falconer. I wanted very much to enjoy this book. I adore the cover. The set up is very attractive – Victorian Scotland upper-class girl with a secret. The horrible death of her mother she wishes to avenge sets her on a path that is her heritage. The faery love interest is attractive, the romantic conflict is interesting – and our heroine has engineering prowess.

That brings me to my love-hate relationship with the book that resulted in me throwing it at the wall. I loved the premise and the setup. I loved Lady Aileana Kameron and the antagonist love interest. What I hated was the constant check-your-brains at the door and the wild outrageous plot swings. At times, I was overwrought with the ridiculousness of a scene. Too many times I was annoyed at the lack of consideration for what would have actually happened if the heroine was truly in the scene with all of the action. A perfect example of where fantasy can break rules – but not all rules. To make fantasy work there has to be credibility and too many scenes in The Falconer lack credibility.

I think that Ms. May has storytelling talent and creates interesting characters. This book might become excellent with some introspection and rewriting and I’d be pleased to try reading another of her books.

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Mini Book Review: Forever Charmed (#1 of the Halloween LaVeau Series) by Rose Pressey


Forever Charmed (Halloween Laveau, #1)Forever Charmed by Rose Pressey

review by J. Morgyn White
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well for the genre of paranormal romance, beach-fare, chick-lit, Forever Charmed is pretty well done. The flow is good, the read is fast, and the material is light and engaging.

The not-so: The love triangle seems forced rather than interesting. The big bad conflict is more of an annoyance than sinister. Mom feels more like a sister. The best friend has strange moments that don’t feel right as a best friend. She steps up the plate when needed rather than she’s playing an active role. The plot has a good amount of check-your-brains factor.

The bad: The ending. Sheesh. Yes, I know it’s a series… but really?

Reading the next book? Well, no. Fun while it lasted but I don’t need to go on.

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Mini Book Review: The Reluctant Concubine by Dana Marton

Reluctant Concubine (Hardstorm Saga, #1)Reluctant Concubine by Dana Marton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

About a quarter of the way in, I almost bailed (aka – I almost threw it at the proverbial wall). The set up to the story is long and not that pleasant. I know that it was important to get the history and context in place, but it was a long path to what I knew would inevitably happen. The surprises lie not with the heroine but rather in the roll-out of the story path. Our heroine is set on her path from the first chapter of what she must avoid to obtain her destiny. That said (and to avoid spoilers) it was a hard road to walk with the heroine until she arrived at the more complex part of the story line. I liked the hero (when we got to him), but he was never 3-D to me – he never had a face.

Would I read the sequel? Maybe, but I wasn’t compelled to go and read it next. I was happy to go on to another book.

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Mini Book Review: The Hawley Book of the Dead by Chrysler Szarlan

SPOILER ALERT: I enjoyed the book but had some concerns with the storytelling. Story spoilers below this line.


The Hawley Book of the Dead: A NovelThe Hawley Book of the Dead: A Novel by Chrysler Szarlan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really liked the subtle magic and fae history woven into the story. The plot drives itself towards a big finale and that compelled me to keep reading to find out what happened. I expected more of the magical act story, and was surprised when the plot took a different direction.

Things that bothered me were things that dragged the story momentum – like the regular referral to the death of the main character’s husband. The author uses a lot of descriptive which I had a love/hate relationship with. At times I wanted more description of characters.

There was very little character development beyond the heroine. The book reads like a Hardy Boys mystery and ends like one with a total wrap-up and an easily predictable outcome. The big bad guy looming turns into ash and the other bad guy is vanquished. Guy and girl hook up and the missing kids come home. The ending is odd in that the big bad guy is never confronted by the heroine – he appears only off-screen.

I wish the plot line with the grandmother was more fleshed out. The falconry choice was an intriguing vocation for her. There were foundations laid for storytelling that didn’t happen. I’m left with too many questions.

All that said I enjoyed The Hawley Book of the Dead.

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Book Review: Glass Houses – The Morganville Vampires #1 by Rachel Caine – Mini Review

Glass Houses (The Morganville Vampires, #1)Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I had a very hard time understanding why this series is popular. The number of holes in the plot and the check your brain at the door attitude had me throwing it at the wall. I persevered to about 50% of the way through and then bailed completely.

Spoilers ahead:

I don’t buy that this 16 year old college freshman is violently physically abused and doesn’t go home or at least call home or seek adult help. While I could bypass the first round of violence by plodding through believing there was some reason to check my brain, the second round doesn’t even make sense. I even forgave that one and continued on, hoping that the vampire reveal would be somehow heal all the wrongs in the plot. Guess what? The vampire attack doesn’t send her fleeing either. Not even when she finds out the whole town is RUN by vamps. At this point, I also wasn’t buying behavior from other characters either. Complete fail.

What I liked: There’s some novel concepts – the bracelets, the ghost.
What I disliked: The plot/storyline doesn’t seem realistic. The characters weren’t consistent or deep.

Overall: Disappointing.

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Book Review: Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon – A Quick Mini-Review

Written in My Own Heart's Blood (Outlander, #8)Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

At this point, reading a Gabaldon book is like visiting old friends. The unfortunate part is that the initial excitement of catching up begins to wear thin with characters you really don’t like as much as you remembered (or perhaps you’d forgotten – time does soften the harshness of dislike).

That said, I do love Gabaldon’s attention to detail and the flow of her writing. She has that part of the craft down to a science. The two sticklers in this tome is first the storyline and second the ending.

___There are spoilers ahead___

The story seems to me to more getting us somewhere than actually developing the characters, or pleasing the reader on the journey. The roller coaster ride I expect from Gabaldon was far too contrived here to be truly thrilling. The characters more in the place where they needed to be to catch the action or having it drop on them.

The time divided or parallel time lines of the 1970s/80s and 1730s story threads I really didn’t enjoy, which was a surprise. I don’t want to give too much away here but the storylines in parallel with the main US history story were tiresome, flat and plodding.

Then there is the ending. Really? A little bow disguised as a cliffhanger?

I felt cheated.

So should you read it?
If you’ve read all of the others, yes.

Do you need to read it now? No. You can wait.

Apparently the saga hasn’t completed yet. Echo in the Bone killed me with a cliffhanger, and this ending isn’t a whole lot better – especially because I felt like I slogged through the parallel time pieces to get to it.

Besides aren’t we all waiting for the Starz series?

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