4/24/17

Review: Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep

Format: ebook
Pub Date: January 2010
Publisher: Pocket (Simon and Schuster)
Length: 432 pages
FTC: Read for free via Amazon Prime
POV: 1st person, past

Yes, I'm extremely late to the party. The first Estep book I read was a YA one I received at the RT Booklovers Convention a few years ago. And I'm not really a YA reader. Still, I liked her voice, and when this became a free read for Prime members, I decided to try it.

In short: Kinda glad I am late, because there's a HUGE backlist of titles I can now glom. *snoopy dance*

I'm a bit of a wuss, so I admit to skimming some of the more graphic violence scenes. I have an extremely vivid imagination, and these are some gnarly descriptions. Ew.

I also discovered that the detailed descriptions of food weren't just a YA thing. They're present here, too. It's a funny quirk, and honestly (and weirdly) reminds me of the food descriptions in the Redwall series. Food is serious business.

Estep also manages to do emotion right, even when the main character is an assassin. Gin's not stereotypically dead inside. She cares about her small circle of people and has her own moral code. Which I guess is why we're not in full-on anti-hero territory. She's very pragmatic, though, so don't go expecting her to act like a good guy. She's not and neither are her friends and acquaintances. If you're the type of reader who needs the main character to be righteous 100% of the time, this is probably not the book for you.

For romance readers, there's some sexual tension and foreplay, but no real relationships here. You can see a glimmer of one maybe in the future, but that consumes very little page time. Far more action and mystery.

My only quibbles are with the pacing, which was extremely uneven, and (as with most first UF books) the amount of page time we spend on world building. That's to be expected, though, so I built that into the grade. 

My Grade: A-

The Blurb:
After Gin’s family was murdered by a Fire elemental when she was thirteen, she lived on the streets and eventually became an assassin to survive. Now, Gin is given an assignment by her handler to rub out an Ashland businessman, but it turns out to be a trap. After Gin’s handler is brutally murdered, she teams up with the sexy detective investigating the case to figure out who double-crossed her and why. Only one thing is for sure —Gin has no qualms about killing her way to the top of the conspiracy.



***
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4/23/17

Making the Time to Read

Last year's struggle was a reading slump that just devoured me. I couldn't finish anything. Nothing appealed. Even my go-to favorites, changing genres, and changing formats didn't seem to help. I finally clawed my way out by going back almost exclusively to print and by digging through the mountain of print books I've collected over the years. It helped.

This year, the theme seems to be lack of time. I'm no longer willing to stay up late to read, which has traditionally been my reading time. Or maybe it's I'm no longer ABLE to stay up late reading, as evidenced by the fact that I've been smacked in the face by book or Kindle several times since January as I dozed off while reading. *ouch*

I'd like to carve some time in the day to read, but I feel guilty doing it every single time. There's always plenty I'm supposed to be doing. And unfortunately, other than driving, I can't multi-task and listen to audiobooks while doing chores. I get distracted. My solution so far has been to drive myself to school early for pickup so I can read for 20 minutes without feeling like I need to be doing something around the house. Then I have another 45 minutes where I force my youngest to do HIS reading homework while we wait for high school dismissal. This has been working well, since we both get our reading done, and I have an excuse to make him be quiet and let me read. :)

When is YOUR favorite time to read? Any tips or tricks to set aside dedicated reading time?

4/20/17

Behold! The Great Fuddy Duddy

Maybe it's because I've been reading romance for so long. Maybe it's because I turned 40. (Yay?) Maybe it's just because "hotter" titles are more prolific these days. I don't know. But I'm finding myself turning into a sex scene skimmer.

I just really don't need the super duper explicit scenes anymore. Too often, they don't advance the plot, don't have ANY emotional punch, and are just way too explicit for lil ole me. So I skip or skim.

I don't begrudge those scenes to people who like them. I don't even need fade-to-black scenes. I'd just like more middle of the road scenes without going into such detail that you can practically hear the uncomfortable squishy sounds.

Finding less explicit books has been near to impossible. It's either inspy/closed door, women's fiction, or extremely explicit. Sometime in the last 5 years, romance and erotic romance have erased that separation. Now it seems to come down to page count rather than content.

Maybe I'm the only one out there looking for less explicit stuff, but post-50 Shades, it seems like the market has pushed so far into erom territory that people like me are being left out.

This is honestly what's led to me reading more mystery and urban fantasy and less romance. I just don't have the patience to flip through what is increasingly becoming 1/3 of the book to find the plot. Obviously, for a lot of readers, this explicit content is what they want. I just keep hoping the pendulum will swing back the other way, and (yes, I'm a dreamer) we find a common term to help identify them. Sweet doesn't seem to be effective, since many romances I consider sweet are also hella explicit.

Anyone else out there a skimmer?

4/19/17

TBR Challenge Review: Rocky Mountain Heat by Vivian Arend

Pub Date: Nov 2011 (reissue Feb 2017)
Publisher: Orig. Samhain, but a newer edition is self pubbed
Length: 232 pages
POV: 3rd
FTC: Free on Amazon, purchased Jan 2016

I think I downloaded this one when Vivian tweeted about it being free. Or someone did. I've read some of her other books, but none from this series before.

I have some mixed feelings about this book. I liked the characters, but for a contemporary, it felt really old fashioned. Which I guess is the point, since the early 20s heroine is grooming herself to be a rancher's wife. And the hero is a decade older. Which isn't really my issue. She has agency, it just seems weird. ESPECIALLY the weird byplay between all of the siblings. That is what icked me out the most.

Another quibble for me is the lack of modern technology. No mobile phones, really. No texting. A passing mention of a computer. You could explain that by the ranching community etc, but I live in BFE Northern California in a timber/ranching community, and everyone I know has had a mobile phone since well before 2011. There's rural and then there's nigh on unbelievably disconnected from the outside world.

Maybe it's just me.

Hump Day Classic Movie: Theodora Goes Wild (1936)

Irene Dunne plays a subdued school teacher who lives in a dinky little town and has a huge secret: she's the author of a scandalous serial novel that's taking the country by storm. The entire town is up in arms about the book. She even sits in on her literary circle as they debate it's immoral nature.

The screwball comes when she meets a man at a meeting with her NY publisher, only to have him show up incognito in her town, determined to needle her.

This is an interesting, and funny, film, not the least of which is because we are STILL dealing with authors who have to hide behind pseudonyms or risk ostracism in their small towns or chosen profession.

I watched it via Netflix, but you can also find it on Amazon.

4/18/17

Oh hey, I have a blog...

It's been 3 whole months since I've blogged, and the only excuse I have is just disinterest and a whole lot of weather related depression. Here in Northern California, we've just surpassed our wettest year on record. It has rained or snowed nearly non-stop since October. The good news is that while I haven't been blogging, I HAVE been reading, albeit at about half my usual pace. So reviews, recipes, and movie posts are coming again, soon!

RT is next month in Atlanta, and for the first time in years, I'm going as a reader and not a blogger. Mainly because RT seems to think it's okay to charge bloggers more for no extra benefits. Whatever.

Here's to a spring with more books, more reading, and some actual blogging.