Today’s reviews are a diverse selection. No matter what your tastes, there is likely to be a pleaser in here!
For a fun, flirty romantic short story, try Inappropriate Behavior. I designed the cover, and reading this wasn’t something I would have done normally, but I’m happy I took the chance. A contemporary romance with more than a hint of passion, but it’s not another ‘tab A in Slot B’ soft pron story. Diane and Julian are having fun together, and Diane is learning about herself in the process. A fast read… and fun!
Pride’s Children is also a romance, but a much more slowly-paced one, and one that doesn’t present as a traditional love story. The romance here instead is two people who become friends, and learn that they have something very valuable to offer to one another: solace. This story happens much inside the heads of the main characters, along with the thoughts and motivations of the protagonist. I found it an oddly compelling read, as the characters feel very real and alive. There’s no sex here, but instead a satisfying friendship and intimacy.
The next book isn’t romantic at all, and while I enjoyed it in parts, there were other parts that made me roll my eyes. Set in American Samoa, I have no way of knowing if it is an authentic glimpse of that far-off island culture, but the trouble with drugs, young love, murder and mystery rings true. Pago Pago Tango is the first in a series, and I’ll try the next one to see if it gets better and loses some of the ‘preachy’ bits that made me roll my eyes at it. The main character is a stubborn-to-a-fault, honorable man who won’t let murders on his turf be swept under the rug, even if it kills him. Even the protagonists are an interesting mix of good bad and indifferent. The mystery wasn’t difficult to suss out by midway through the book, but it took me to the end to see if Apelu could pull it off and resolve the situation. I’m giving it 3 1/2 stars with tenative thumbs up for compelling setting and characters, a sideways thumb for the ‘white man bad’ bits.
I have a tendency when I’m being lazy about reading to read mysteries. Since I’ve been plumbing the depths of my library and Kindle Unlimited, I can feel free to pick up a book, decide I don’t like it in a few chapters, and discard it. Those books you won’t see me review. Usually, it’s because they are boring and don’t catch my attention. Sometimes I am just not in the mood for whatever it is. Sometimes books I don’t think I’m going to like suck me in and won’t let me go…
Which is what Twenty-Seven Bones did to me. I thought it was a forensic anthropology mystery, which I like, but it’s not. Instead it’s a weird, twisted tale where you know whodunnit from the beginning. More horror than mystery, a web of deception is woven and cast wider and wider. The main character and then a retired FBI agent are fighting for the truth, and the compulsion to keep reading comes not from wanting to solve the mystery, but from wanting to see how it comes out. I’m not sure I’d recommend this – it’s rather graphic – but it’s certainly a story to study for compelling writing and pacing.
For my SFF readers, I have a space opera I will happily recommend, with one caveat. You really ought to read book one, first. You will likely be able to pick up cues from this one, but the first was a fun read, so… Muses of Terra is the second book in a series where the human race exists in uneasy harmony with a sentient virus who can, when allowed, turn humans into meat-puppets for their will. Cordus is one of the few humans who can keep his Muse, the virus load in his system, at bay. All Cordus wants to do is be free and live his life, with his adoptive parents and the crew of the ship that has become his family. It had been six years since he escaped Terra and his fate as ruler over all of Roma, the ruling civilization of the galaxy. All he wants to do is use his training for something honorable. When his adoptive mother sets out to survey a new world and awakens a sleeping strain of the virus, Cordus finds himself thrust into a situation worse than death. This is a fast-paced book with plenty of action and a hint of a love-interest (not a fully-developed romance). I enjoyed it, and look forward to the third book.
For those of you who haven’t tried it out, you can get a free month of Kindle Unlimited to see if you will read enough to be worth the $9.99 a month rate. I know I do – it’s a part of my monthly budget in lieu of the cable bill I don’t have since we don’t watch TV much and when we do, it’s streaming online. Even as busy as I am, the freedom to test & toss a book that bores me is very nice, and you can read all you want for the money.