April 4th, 2012


Books 30-31: Tiger's Quest and Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck

Book 30: Tiger's Quest (Tiger Saga #2).
Author: Colleen Houck, 2011.
Genre: YA Fantasy. Adventure. Mythology.
Other Details: Paperback. 479 pages.

So continues the tale of Kelsey Hayes, a 19-year old American girl charged with the task of breaking a curse that has caused two 17th century Indian princes to be transformed into tigers . The novel opens with Kelsey back in California following her summer in India. It is hard to say much without spoilers for events in Book 1. I can say that this part of the quest involves a journey to Tibet and the Himalayas in search of the mystical realm of Shangri-La.

Again, as with Tiger's Curse, while there was much to enjoy in this YA fantasy, there were some aspects that annoyed me. On the plus side, Kelsey seems to have recovered her spirit and was acting much less soppy over Ren, the white tiger prince. I also enjoyed Kelsey's growing closeness with Ren's bad boy-tiger brother, Kishan. OK, not quite 'The Vampire Diaries' with tigers but still fairly well trodden territory in this kind of YA paranormal romance. Houck does weave a pretty compelling tale in terms of the adventure with some heart-tugging moments ensuring that I moved straight on to the next in the series to see how things worked out.

The downside for me was mainly in the writing as well as a few bits that bothered me. Houck does have a tendency to over-indulge on details, such as practically describing the every meal they eat and clothing choices along with far too much inner dialogue on Kelsey's part about her emotional life. At times these did seriously effect the novel's pacing. Also, I found the mythological aspects a bit of a mish-mash. Still, pretty much every fantasy novel where characters enter a mythical realm and encounter some kind of world mythology mash-up tends to irritate me. Also, the [gifts obtained on the quests seemed...]gifts obtained on the quests seemed a bit too convenient in terms of providing supplies for their journeys or helping to overcome obstacles. It detracted from any sense of real threat or hardship.

I will admit that the lack of social and political references bothered me. Yes, I know this is a YA fantasy romance Collapse ) Finally, a minor quibble - can I really forgive Kelsey while in India for musing on how sad it was that she couldn't see the Big Dipper and that there not being anything like it in the Southern Hemisphere? Geography fail! Obviously she had been too busy mooning over her Indian tiger-prince during the course on Geography: the Indian Subcontinent she attended in the opening chapters.

Book 31:Tiger's Voyage (Tiger Saga #3) .
Author: Colleen Houck, 2011.
Genre: YA Fantasy. Adventure. Mythology.
Other Details: Paperback. 543 pages.

As can be worked out from the title and cover art, Book 3 involves a voyage and dragons! The writing on this third novel seemed more confident and I felt overall that there was better flow to the story-telling. I especially enjoyed the dragons and their mythology. There also seemed to be more humour, including poking fun at the idea that no male can resist falling madly in love with Kelsey. There is also the slight jealousy expressed over how fond Kelsey is of their tiger-selves along the lines of 'I think you like me more when I am a tiger'. Amuses me no end.

I also appreciated that Kelsey takes time to learn new skills rather than just having them automatically. Here both she and others had to learn to scuba-dive before this part of the quest began. I did feel sad for Nilima, Mr. Kadam's grand-daughter many times removed, who suffers from being underwritten and rather neglected by the other characters. Still it seems that one of the troupes of this kind of YA novel is there can only be one focus for male attention. I'd welcome her coming into a stronger role.

I did wonder if this shift to a more confident writing style was due to the novel being overseen by a literary agent and editors? Houck had been about to self-publish Tiger's Voyage in the spring of 2010 when she was signed by a literary agent, who then sold the series. Her new publishers issued the first two books in early 2011, though in these cases I do wonder how much editing/polishing/revision takes place if the product is already out in the world? Of course, it could also be that she's just gained a stronger sense of her story and characters at this stage. There is still some tendency for Kelsey as narrator to over-describe, especially in terms of food, but I have learned to live with that quirk.

Overall, all three held my attention and I enjoyed even if I had some issues; plus, as I said in my review of Tiger's Curse, I love tigers and appreciated the inclusion of Hindu mythology. The cliff-hanger ending to Tiger's Voyage had me reaching for the pre-order button for the next book due out this September!

Tiger Saga's Home Page - links to opening chapters for all three books to date.
Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

Just before bed I finished reading Osprey New Vanguard #98: British Anti-tank Artillery 1939 - 45 which was mostly memorable in one line, which described the bravery of the gunners who hunkered down behind a thin metal shield, waiting to fire on a German tank.

Books # 22-31

I merely want to report that I'm in a Mary Balogh frenzy. I wanted to read two of her books at a time and then continue with other books. Then if I wanted to read her works again, I might read another two. But that was a plan... Instead I've been reading her works continuously as if addicted! On second thought, I am addicted. So I better give in to this romantic mood until I feel I had enough for the next three months. Those that I've finished:
Red Rose
An Unacceptable Offer
The Obedient Bride
The Ideal Wife
Courting Julia
The Plumed Bonnet
The Temporary Wife
Slightly Wicked
First Comes Marriage
A Waltz Among the Stars

sarcastic charles
  • retts

March slog

I've been reading lots lately and I thought, huh, why not go for the 50 book challenge? 

I've been devouring gay novels for the past few weeks, some of them good, some of them bad, some of them wonderful. So here, in no particular order, are the ones I've finished. 

1. Almost Like Being In Love by Steve Kluger 
Fantastic, fantastic book about adolescent love that you leave behind, only to realise when you're thirty-something that you've been carrying it with you all along. 

2. Kamikaze Boys by Jay Bell
There's something about finding love when you're young that appeals to me, especially when the characters stare defiantly at the world to try and stop them. Very lovely, this. 

3. Ransom by Lee Rowan 
Five stars from me, because this book had everything: British history, despicable pirates, wonderful protagonists, tension, drama, action, forbidden desires, sex, and love. 

4. Winds of Change by Lee Rowan
Second book in the Royal Navy Series. I loved Will and Davy in the first book and I love them in this one, as well, trying to navigate (no pun intended) a secret relationship that may literally kill them if found out. 

5. Wicked Gentleman by Ginn Hale 
Is there any reason to dislike snarky, abused demons, a noble Inquisitor, and a world of grit and sulfuric smoke? No, there isn't, because this one is just brilliant. 

6. Muscling Through by JL Merrow 
One of my favorites, hands down. The writing is superb, the character's voice is unique and endearing, and the love story is one you continually sigh over in happiness. 

7. Children of Henry VIII by Alison Weir 
Obviously not Gay lit. I have a soft spot for biographies that have to do with British royal history, which I'm sort of keen for. If you want drama, lies, murder, sex, money, marriages, blasphemy, and all those other things that make for a good reading? It's hard to beat real history, because they've done it and them some. 

8. His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
Well, what can I say but this is absolutely fantastic? Incredibly well-written, factual, exciting, and unique, you'll never go wrong flying with Temeraire. 

9. Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres 
Because Ellen is hilarious and all kinds of wonderful, whether on TV or in books. 

That's it so far. April reading, here I come. 9/50

Black Wings

Black Wings
by Christina Henry
Madeline Black book 1

I read this book in half a day which I think is actually faster than most of the young adult novels I read. My husband picked it up at the library and between that fact and and the cover art I was totally expecting paramortal romance. I was pleasantly surprised when this book contained no sex at all. I found the plot to be interesting enough to draw me in and kept finding myself guessing at characters only to be proven wrong later. Its rare for a book to keep me guessing like this and I think I need to seek out further books in the series. I wonder a little how much of the backstory is Henry's and how much is standard fare knowledge that I should know if I read more books about angels and fallen angels. Not my usual supernatural characters to say the least. Over all though very pleasantly surprised and definitely recommend.

Stone of Tears

Stone of Tears
by Terry Goodkind

Book 2 of Sword of Truth series

I loved book 1 I loved the set up of book 2 however the set up seemed to last for about 90% of the book. I kept looking at the plot building and building and finding more pieces of the puzzle and it got closer and closer to the end and the pieces weren't coming together yet. Therefore, the buildup was great but the ending was so rushed. There was so much that Goodkind told us about things that happened when I felt he should have been showing us instead. A lot of the major plot points felt very rushed in the final execution. NONE of the climax points felt like they had been explored it was just like he said oh yeah and this happened. The book should have been at least twice as long to do as much justice to the climatic points as the buildup but it was too long already for most people. I am still reading book 3 but I am less enthusiastic about it after investing so much in book 2 and feeling so disappointed in how rushed the ending felt. The other complaint I have is the sex in this book is really not vanilla. There are sections of the book dealing with war and how women of the non-victorious side are sometimes treated. There are sections detailing just how much some of the characters are willing to debase themselves in order to serve their master and that includes sex with partners that aren't human. I wasn't expecting those types of scenes in this book though I shouldn't have been surprised after the BDSM relationship in book 1 but it makes me wonder a little what will be coming in the further books if the sex will just get kinkier or what. Read, but read with caution.

Book #19: London Street Furniture by David Brandon & Alan Brooke

This was just a really geeky thing for me I suppose, as the book talks all about objects found around the streets of London - street signs and other odd things like foot scrapers, drinking fountains and wells, and it has a lot of intriguing historical stuff. Defnitely worth reading if you're interested in history and random architectural features.

Next book: Last of the Mohicans by James Fennimore Cooper

Book 11

Title: Interview with a Vampire
Author: Anne Rice
Themes/Topics: Vampires, Immortality, Innocence

Great read. I read this who knows how long ago and was excited to delve back into the world of Anne Rice. She is truly an amazing author.

This is what vampires are REALLY supposed to be like! *Cough* Take a note, Twilight *Cough* The only issue I had with this read was that after seeing the movie, which was phenomenal, it was hard to read the book and take it at its value without imagining Cruise, Pitt, Dunst, and Banderas.