What Sirius Has Been Reading
By Imperial Decree by Angel Martinez
Marsh Kensinger’s work as the utility mechanic for Bremen Station keeps his life interesting – but never quite as interesting as finding a pilot still hidden inside a hibernation drawer in what should have been a salvage craft. He knows he shouldn’t get involved, but the Altairian Imperial crest on the private craft and the semi-conscious pilot’s odd questions pique his always-whirling curiosity.
Still unattached at a concerning age for an imperial son, Prince Shiro Shinohara hadn’t been running from the endless, mind-numbing rounds of omiai his mother, the Empress, had mandated. Not exactly. He’d just wanted a break from persistent suitors at the family retreat on Ceti Tau. The short respite becomes a panicked flight for his life when one of the suitors stalking him attacks the family compound.
Worried for the soldiers he was forced to leave behind, afraid there’s a conspiracy to kidnap him, Shiro confides in the handsome mechanic who found him and in a moment of panic, concocts the fiction of a serious relationship with Marsh. It’s only until Shiro’s people can reach him and he can press charges back home. Marsh is willing to play along and Shiro’s just going to have to keep himself together and not, under any circumstances, fall for the wonderful, generous man who refuses to stop helping him.
This is a stand alone novella in the apparently established universe. I think I have read a first book (or maybe even first two books) in this universe but am not sure. At some point I have read a lot of this writer’s works, but then took a break. It is a SF lite – not sure if it counts as space opera, but the main action takes place at the space station where we have some kind of socialist lite society, but in a good way. Our mechanic and prince are both very nice guys and the mechanic finds the prince in the ship which docked at the station where he lives and works. They have a nice easy chemistry and for a novella the story had enough family interaction and suspense to keep me entertained.
Sadly their super fast, can’t live without you forever was not all that convincing to me. I appreciate that author tried to show that they kind of knew each other already, but as I said was not that convincing to me.
Grade : C+
The Alchemist (Blodwen Forest #2) by Megan Derr
Marcum sacrificed much to be the greatest alchemist on the continent and a master of poisons rivaled by precious few. Power and standing in his father’s court. The chance to build friendships, find romance. His beauty, which was once considered noteworthy, but now is ruined by scars and burns. He is regarded with wariness at best and fear at worst.
Though a recent move to the kingdom of Blodwen, far from his home of Roseberry, offers something of a fresh start, still his ravaged appearance and eccentric ways do him no favors—especially not with Goulet, the handsome, infuriating goblin who will clearly never see Marcum as anything but an ugly, bothersome know-it-all unworthy of the tattoos Goulet inks into all their friends.
Then a goblin is murdered, and Marcum’s laboratory mysteriously destroyed, opening the doors on a nightmare that should have ended for good more than a decade ago, but now seems to have returned with vengeance in mind…
I have read a lot of books by this writer, but at some point I decided to take a break. I read Ami’s review and wanted to come back. I enjoyed it. I mean if you read her work before you know that she explores “from enemies to lovers” trope a lot and this story is no exception. Luckily I am a fan of the trope, but there are some executions that I really don’t like.
I thought this story did okay – both men (well, Goblin and human) know that they don’t hate each other, on the contrary they really want to explore the potential relationship with each other, but when they just start talking they start snipping. Basically they just cannot figure out how to talk to each other and this kind of stupid communication I can tolerate for the *certain amount of page time*.
At some point the story started to slip into *miscommunication* though and, man, I was glad it was dealt with with sometime at the half point of the book. Just how many unfinished sentences we must suffer through? I liked the men though – a lot. I thought it was interesting how Marcum did not shy away from the darker elements of alchemy in order to continue doing good deeds. I thought he managed to walk the fine line just fine and I thought they had good chemistry together.
I did like how familiar fairy tales characters were woven in the narrative – what you expect from them is not always what they would do in these books (I have read the first part in this trilogy as stand alone long time ago, I have not read the revised edition).
The suspense was well done, but this is not really a mystery – the name of the villain is revealed early, it was the matter of catching him that was the main issue in addition to romantic storyline.
Blood Heir (Aurelia Ryder #1) by Ilona Andrews
Atlanta was always a dangerous city. Now, as waves of magic and technology compete for supremacy, it’s a place caught in a slow apocalypse, where monsters spawn among the crumbling skyscrapers and supernatural factions struggle for power and survival.
Eight years ago, Julie Lennart left Atlanta to find out who she was. Now she’s back with a new face, a new magic, and a new name—Aurelia Ryder—drawn by the urgent need to protect the family she left behind. An ancient power is stalking her adopted mother, Kate Daniels, an enemy unlike any other, and a string of horrifying murders is its opening gambit.
If Aurelia’s true identity is discovered, those closest to her will die. So her plan is simple: get in, solve the murders, prevent the prophecy from being fulfilled, and get out without being recognized. She expected danger, but she never anticipated that the only man she’d ever loved could threaten everything.
One small misstep could lead to disaster. But for Aurelia, facing disaster is easy; it’s relationships that are hard.
Word of warning. The below is a very brief frustrated review, but I do think there are couple of spoilers in there. Although maybe I am over thinking and those are not significant spoilers but please beware just in case.
I posted this on Goodreads right after I finished the book (same as the other reviews) and was hoping that my frustration will become less as time passed but it became more, unfortunately.
* spoiler alert ** As do many fans of this writing duo, I loved Kate Daniels books and loved multiple secondary characters in these series, so Julie getting her own series was something I looked forward to. I have not read the online serial which this book was based on very closely, and I just have not read much of it, I basically decided to wait for the book.
I am disappointed. I don’t regret time and money spent on this book, anything they write is a better entertainment for me than many many writers, but this just felt, I don’t know – an artificial construct?
It is fun to return to Atlanta, but I guess I feel that this book pretty much erases the end of Kate Daniels. I certainly didn’t expect Atlanta to become one big happy family after Kate uniting them, but I did felt that some sort of positive improvements and less fractured city will emerge after all of that – apparently not.
Who is this Julie and who is this Derek please? Yes I know they grew up, but why is Julie so annoyingly, unbelievably perfect already? Feels like Kate 2.0 indeed (I did glanced at a couple of other reviews – which normally I try hard to ignore, but I did want to see if at least someone was having similar issues) but Kate felt extremely flawed and not too powerful or at least not fully in touch with her heritage in early books. Why, why would Derek want to leave? I just did not see any signs that he was unhappy in Atlanta before and now he is also not just a powerful shapeshifter but mystically powerful one? What?
Why is there no chemistry between them? Yes, I know this is a very subjective assessment but that was mine.
Thanks for sharing your reviews, Sirius. By Imperial Decree sounds intriguing, and I’ve downloaded a sample.
Thanks for the reviews. I followed up on your review of Blood Heir with some Goodread and Amazon reviews. If I do ever read it, I know not to go in with high expectations. The Alchemist, however, sound more intriguing. I added it and the preceding book to my TBR.
I’ve generally enjoyed the Megan Derr books I’ve read through the library. There are a few I’d like to own, but I find them a bit pricey especially considering that the editing quality is generally poor. Unfortunately, my library doesn’t have this one.
A friend told me much the same thing about the Julie book. In fact I’m going to send her a link to your review since you mentioned so many of her issues. I’m a bit behind on the books set in the KD world—I’ve still got Magic Triumphs and Hugh’s book to read. I’m a little leery of the authors’ self-published books. The ones I’ve enjoyed best have all been trad pubbed and my least favorite was self pubbed. I wonder if they get the same level of editing outside of the publishing houses.
@MaryK: Editing in Megan Derr’s books is the whole separate issue yeah, but since I a) don’t always catch it and b) keep buying them ( not all of them and not all the time – I certainly took a break before buying this one ), I figured I should stop mentioning it . I usually go for her long ones, at least then story and plot are worth it to me, but I didn’t see a novel from her in a while..@Mikou: I am a huge fan of Ilona Andrews’ books, but yeah this was not their best effort IMO.@Kareni: It was fine, have you tried anything else by this writer?
@Janine: I was really looking forward to this book, but yes I did not find the changes in main characters believable, in fact I found it really hard to swallow. They promised new characters in the later books, but so far the ones I enjoyed the most were familiar faces from Kate books and amusingly some new young faces.
After reading her “Offbeat Crimes” books, I’ve been eyeing Angel Martinez’s “Brimstone” universe books but just haven’t pulled the trigger so far.
@Sirius, to answer your question, I’ve read Eating Stars by Angel Martinez which I remember enjoying. I may also have read something short by her in an anthology.
Hmm, my previous comment disappeared, so I’m trying again.
@Sirius, to answer your question, I’ve previously read Eating Stars by Angel Martinez which I quite enjoyed.
@Kareni: I just went to rescue your comments from spam and I suspect one of my colleagues already did that :). If you have not read “Gravitational Attraction”, I definitely recommend.@Jayne: Trying to remember whether I tried the book from “Off beat crimes” or not.
@sirius, thank you for the rescue from the spam folder. Unfortunately, it appears that Gravitational Attraction is not available on Kindle.
@Kareni: It looks the book has changed publishers and will be
rereleased on 5/11/2021.
@Kareni: I think my comment also got caught in the spam filter. Anyway, the book has apparently changed publishers and will be re-released on 5/11/2021. If you go to Amazon, search for the author and sort her books by Publication date, it shows up.
@Mikou: Thank you. I actually repurchased it relatively recently.
@Mikou, thank you! I will add the book to my wish list.
I found your thoughts on Blood Heir to be v. interesting. Especially since I liked the book a bit more than you did (iirc, I gave it 4.5/5.)
OTOH, Ilona Andrews uses the same baseline to build the female characters. It is, imo, kinda the reason why Kate Daniels, Nevada Baylor (Hidden Legacies series), and Julie are so similar. Even their individual romance arcs are quite parallel to each other. OTOH, I do think that IA give each of them enough to keep them from being too same-y.
Two things that helped me roll with the Julie (and the majority of the book too) were the time jump and the glimpses of Julie’s time from the end of Kate Daniels 10 and this book. Also that we got to see many of the secondary characters in the KD series get more of an spotlight on them. Idk.
About the one thing I eye-rolled was the villain, funnily enough. **SPOILER COMMENT AHEAD** There was so much build up throughout the book for him to show up, tussle with Julie a little, and then do the equivalent of “Muahahaha, I’ll be baaaack!” It was cheesy; I hope he’s got a stronger presence in the next novel.
@Ariadana: Thanks so much for commenting. Sure, I agree that we can recognize the heroine written by Ilona Andrews and just the book in general written by this duo or many other prolific writers – as they say – humor, lots of action, something else I forgot what are the signs of their brand. I agree that all their heroines have some similar qualities, without being the same characters.
Julie changing in what I perceive to be Kate 2.0 did not work for me though. Yes, time passed, but there are limits to what I as a reader can accept as believable character change. To me they went way over those limits , way over my believability barrier. I mean, I could even accept her having all those amazing skills , sure time passed and she learned. Just why did she have to look amazingly perfect as well? Maybe I also don’t like characters without imperfections? Not sure.
Yes, fight with the villain was eye roll worthy, but this did not bother me as much because I didn’t expect he would be defeated in the first book even if it could have been done in a less cringe worthy manner IMO.
[…] Maybe I also don’t like characters without imperfections? Not sure.
Hahaha, for sure! OTOH, I do mind that ALL of the characters that will be part of the MC in every book are the apex of beauty. it’s so OTT to read abt Kate, Nevada, Julie, and Catalina both mention that they’re not THAT pretty at the same time the books make sure the readers understand how otherworldly beautiful each of them is.
I do admit that there’s some heavy eye-rolling on my part despite understanding that’s part and parcel of IA’s style. Full disclosure: I don’t read much sci-fi or fantasy so I can only speak to IA books as I’m slowly making my way through everything they’ve published.
In any case, it’s really interesting to see what works and doesn’t work for every reader.