Deal with the Devil (Mercenary Librarians #1) by Kit Rocha

DealwithMy Five Word TL:DR Review : Dystopia with sexy badass characters

Okay, to be straight to the point, Deal with the Devil is not my typical sort of read but, to be honest, I did know what I was picking up before I started reading it so was well prepared, in fact, it was exactly the sort of read that I fancied and so in that respect it worked an absolute treat.

Jump forward to the year 2086.  Let’s just say that things haven’t gone well.  The place, is practically a wasteland following a catastrophic event known as the Flares.  We have a group of three women, looking after their community.  These are women who can look after themselves to be honest, they all have their own particular skills, but, headed by Nina, who is something completely different, they are capable and at the same time caring.  They help people in their community to survive is the top and bottom of it and on top of that they try to provide them with reading material.  Come on now.

Now we have a group of mercenaries.  Hard core ex solidiers who have gone rogue (for reasons that you will discover).  These mercs have cut the ties to the Big Brother Style Corporation that controlled them but unfortunately this leaves them vulnerable in terms of their own modifications and keeping them updated in order to survive.  Unfortunately, their hacker Luna has been taken captive, and the abductor wants Nina delivering in order for an exchange to take place.  Knox, the leader of the mercs has the task of roping in Nina and her companions into a double cross, the bait, some sort of fantastic library, the ultimate goal, to deliver Nina over to who knows what.

Now, look.  I’m not going to try and say that this book is reinventing the wheel.  There is plenty of sexual tension here – mainly between Knox and Nina who are both two hard ass characters with plenty of battle scars and a hard outer exterior to match.  There’s also lots of set up – you can already see the pairings for future novels clicking into place.  And, I won’t deny, there was a little bit of eye rolling here.  Everybody is superfit, they’re all dangerously gorgeous and you stand an equal chance of having your throat cut as having your day made.  But, like I said above, I was well aware of that fact when I picked this book up.

Don’t go into this expecting heaps of world building or unique ideas though – the setting and, to be honest, the plot, are more backdrops for the eventual coupling that will inevitably take place, but, I did like some of the storylines and each of the characters have their own personal set of skills which makes them unique.

In terms of criticisms. Instalove. I don’t need to say more.

So, to round up.  If you fancy a road trip with a bunch of sexy, hard hitting, muscle wielding, tough talking, ‘my dad is bigger than yours’ characters that also have hidden depths (that are not really so very hidden in fact you could dig them out with a teaspoon if you had a mind to do so) then here you go.  And, did I mention there is some smouldering sexy times – because there are, and I suspect there will be more to come in future instalments.

There you go then.

Also, brief mentions of libraries – which always makes my day (is that weird?)

Okay, to be fair, this isn’t my go to style of book but I can’t deny that it was fun and, okay, you dragged it out of me, sexy.  I wouldn’t go for this type of story as the norm and to be honest I’m not sure I’d reach for the next in series but this was a very easy book to get along with and it was a little bit of what I fancied at that moment in time.  I suppose, it just felt easy to get along with and I have no quibbles with that at the moment.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 3 of 5 stars

December Countdown: One prompt per day

Posted On 29 November 2020

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For the month of December I’m scheduled a quick post, early each day, that simply highlights a book based on a prompt, a countdown, if you will to 2021.  Below is a list of the prompts I will be using, one for each day.  This is a fun way to highlight some books for the month of December and, given the time of year, some of the prompts are Christmas inspired.  Feel free to join in.  Note: I don’t want to over burden people and fill up readers  I simply wanted to use the final month of the year to shine the spotlight on some books (all the books highlighted will be linked to Goodreads for information purposes).

Prompts:

  1. Snow – a book set in a cold or wintry climate
  2. Shopping – the last book added to your wishlist
  3. Wrapping paper – a lovely cover
  4. Presents – a book you enjoyed more than you expected to
  5. Chocolates – a book that was simply delicious
  6. Christmas stocking – stocking fillers – a novella or short story
  7. Christmas Tree –  traditional style, winter read
  8. Baubles – these add some colour, a very colourful and striking cover
  9. Fairy Lights – a book of the fae
  10. Under the Tree – a book you forgot you owned
  11. Mistletoe – a little bit of romance
  12. Holly and Ivy – a book with great world building
  13. Feast – a book that was magnificent
  14. Christmas pudding – if you could squeeze in just one more book for 2020
  15. Mince pies –  a little sweet something
  16. Turkey Dinner– a book that is almost too big to face
  17. Glitter – A book that you simply have to have
  18. Christmas Cards – a book with a hidden message
  19. Christmas Carols – a book with musicians, song or instruments
  20. Eggnog – a book that was out of your comfort zone
  21. Santa’s Snack – a book that was a ‘light read’ between heavier books
  22. Reindeers – a book with memorable critters
  23. Sleigh bells – a series that you want to ring out the praise for
  24. Christmas Eve – One of your most anticipated books for 2021
  25. Christmas Day – choose one from the wishlist
  26. Boxing Day – feeling bloated, a palate cleanser
  27. Christmas Crackers – Ended with a bang
  28. Candlelight – a book that kept you up into the early hours
  29. Christmas Cactus – A seasonal read
  30. Family and Friends – a book with great characters
  31. Bottle of Bubbly – Recap

The Meaning of Colour Book Tag

Posted On 28 November 2020

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This is a tag that I created myself although it is very possible that there could be others out there that are similar, it was inspired by the Rainbow Book tag created by Le Book Chronicles that I first saw over on the Booforager’s Blog. I wanted to look at the meaning of the colours and find a book that suits the definition. There are no rules, if you fancy giving this a try then do so:

RED – The colour of Passion (love and hate) – could be a book filled with love and hate or a book that inspires one of those emotions in you

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey immediately sprang to mind for this one. Primarily because it is a book of passion, love and hate. An amazing MC and an antagonist who you will love to hate.

Kushiel's Dart

ORANGE – warm and uplifting – a feelgood book

The Hobbit. Essentially, a story that you can read to your children. All about one small character stepping out of his comfort zone and going on an adventure – and, becoming an indispensable member of the group

Hobbit

YELLOW – Fun and Joy – put a smile on your face

Well, I’ve not read the entire Discworld series but going off the Tiffany Aching books I’m going to say that Pratchett’s books are definitely a lot of fun.

GREEN – Harmony and Health – a book so good it made you feel in perfect harmony

The Ten Thousand Doors of January is a book that I really loved and made me feel uplifted and full of joy, so this could also have fitted the Yellow and Orange prompt, But, reading a book this good definitely improves your own well-being so I think it also fits this prompt.

TheTen

TURQUOISE – Calm clarity – a book that made all the cogs of your brain work together to create a clear vision

For this I’ve gone with a book that I found very thought provoking and really stayed with me after I put it down. This book is complex. It goes back and forth between people and times and yet it all comes together in perhaps one of the most satisfying ways I’ve ever encountered. The characters are so well imagined that I feel like I know them and the strong emotions that this creates really contributes to the overall experience

Glass

BLUE – Peaceful – so easy to read that the pages turn themselves

This is a strange prompt. What I’ve gone for with this is a book that was easy to read which in my mind makes it a peaceful experience – it’s definitely a book that is beautifully written and I highly recommend it.

Invisible

PURPLE – Imagination – no explanation necessary for this one. Something that is super creative or maybe unique

Benedict Patrick’s Flight of the Darkstar Dragon is packed to the rafters with imagination and a great start to what promises to be a lovely series full of adventure.

Flightof

PINK – Kind and Comforting – a comfort read, something you can fall back on and know you will love

I’m going for comfort reads with this one and harking back to a time when I would quite often reread books that I loved. There are a few books that fall into this category but the first that sprang to mind was Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

P&P

BROWN – Dependable – an author or series that you love

I’ve gone for an author that I love and never seems to let me down. Sarah Pinborough. I can’t wait to see what she’s got up her sleeve next.

BLACK – Powerful and Sophisticated. A book that is stylish, polished, clever and packs a punch

This is a book that I loved and I couldn’t describe it better than the GR’s description : ‘Sophisticated, witty, and ingeniously convincing, Susanna Clarke’s magisterial novel weaves magic into a flawlessly detailed vision of historical England. She has created a world so thoroughly enchanting that eight hundred pages leave readers longing for more.

JonathanStrange

GRAY – Compromise and Control – use your own definition for this one

Compromise and control are two of the very things that you usually find in Dystopian novels where compromises are reached and people strictly controlled. Unwind by Neal Shusterman is a perfect example of this and is a chilling book where ‘parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors’

Unwind

WHITE – Purity and Innocence – a children’s book that you loved or a book about the loss of innocence.

What could be more pure and innocent than a childhood favourite:

WinniethePooh

Friday Face Off : Modern sci fi

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.  This week’s theme:

Modern sci fi

This is another one of the themes I came up with to coincide with the sci fi event taking place during November so hope you’ve all come up with something good.  This week I thought I’d go with a classic science fiction (well, what I would call modern classic anyways) with the aim of comparing the original cover against a more modern one:

So, firstly, the original cover:

HHOriginal

vs, the most recent cover (I could find):

Hitch1

It’s difficult to choose really because I want to choose the original – but I think I have to go with the more vibrant red cover which is very eye catching.

Do you have a favourite?

I’ll be updating the list in order to include forthcoming events that I’m aware of so that you can perhaps link your themes up where possible (if you know of an event you’d like to share then let me know in the comments).  As always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.

Next week – Modern sci fi

I have completed a new list for 2021 – I’m just putting it into order and it will be included next week.  

2020

4th December –  Fae – or fairy??

11th December – Lake – the mysterious lake

18th December – Highly Stylised

25th December- Freebie – or day off.

Sin Eater by Megan Campisi

Posted On 26 November 2020

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SinMy Five Word TL:DR Review : I really enjoyed this debut

The Sin Eater is set in a very loosely disguised England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1.  As we all know, this was a tumultuous period for the people of England when people’s faith was sorely put to the test and this, in my mind, seems to be the inspiration for the Sin Eater.  I was fascinated by this premise, enough so that I even went to do some more reading about sin eating when I finished this novel and that’s always a strong sign that the book has really worked its magic.

May is 14 years old when, caught for stealing bread, she is sentenced to become a sin eater.  A fate worse than death it would seem.  As a sin eater May is shunned by everyone, she really does become unheard and unseen, apart from those moments when taking a deathbed confession and recounting the foods to be eaten.  Sin eaters wear a collar so that all may know their profession and shun them, plus their tongue is branded with a letter S.  In this reimagined England only women become sin eaters and different foods represent different sins.

So, May is sentenced, and apprenticed to an older sin eater who she follows to observe the rituals.  Full of fear and superstition herself May is terrified of eating the sins of others.  One day the two find themselves taken to the Queen’s court and this is where the intrigue begins.  Sin eaters only eat the foods that relate to the sins recalled and so when a deer heart appears on the body of a royal governess, when she did not confess to the murder it represents, the older sin eater refuses to eat it.  She is thrown into prison and tortured to death.  May then finds herself completely alone, she suspects foul deeds at Court and when she is called back she begins to develop her own suspicions of what is taking place.  Unfortunately, this puts her in a rather dangerous predicament that means she must tread carefully or follow the cruel fate of the previous sin eater.

There are a number of things that worked really well for me with this story.

The writing.  I thought this was a really strong aspect and I was very quickly pulled into the story.  This was a brutal time in which to live – and even more so for women.  People frequently went without food and the penalties for theft were harsh.  I thought Campisis did a wonderful job of depicting the times without the need for flowery prose.

The MC.  I liked May, or more to the point I liked her character arc.  I think the first thing you have to bear in mind here is May’s age.  She is very young when this cruel burden is placed upon her, of course the period was hard for everyone and children didn’t have the luxury of a ‘real’ childhood and in that respect May isn’t the exception.  It’s more that she now finds herself (almost) completely shunned and it’s the horror that she herself experiences that really comes across.  We witness her internal turmoil as she comes to grips with what a sin eater really is and also her own lightbulb moment as she realises that there is a certain freedom in being completely ignored or unseen.  In fact it’s this freedom that really puts her into danger, because not everyone is afraid of the sin eater.

Thankfully, not everyone is quite as superstitious, when it comes to sin eaters and so May does have some interaction with other characters along the way.  Some of these interactions are unwanted and it’s nice to see May eventually coming to the realisation that she does have some control over this aspect of her life.

I love historical novels and I don’t tend to read as much of them as I used to so when I do pick one up it often feels refreshingly different.  The author has thinly disguised the period here but it’s still blatantly obvious who the characters are and also the particular scandal that fuels the story and I just loved the whole idea of the sin eater with all the lore that surrounds it.  The types of food and drink and the sins they represent being one particular example, the strange twist on old nursery rhymes being another.

In terms of criticisms.  I don’t really have much.  I think the mystery is not the strongest element of the story here but for me it didn’t really matter too much because I was so immersed in May’s plight.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the Sin Eater.  It feels like a very original concept on which to base the intrigues of court and I will certainly look for more work by this author in the future.

I received a copy through netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars

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