Wednesday, July 23, 2014

ARC Review: The Promise

The Promise
Robyn Carr
Contemporary Romance
Thunder Point/Book 5
Harlequin MIRA/June 24, 2014

Scott Grant has a bustling family practice in the small Oregon community of Thunder Point. The town and its people have embraced the widowed doctor and father of two, his children are thriving, and Scott knows it's time to move on from his loss. But as the town's only doctor, the dating scene is awkward. That is, until a stunning physician's assistant applies for a job at his clinic.

Peyton Lacoumette considers herself entirely out of the dating scene. She's already been burned by a man with kids, and she's come to Thunder Point determined not to repeat past mistakes. When Scott offers her a job, at a much lower salary than she's used to, Peyton is surprisingly eager to accept…at least for now. She's willing to stay for a three-month trial period while she explores other options.

Scott and Peyton know the arrangement is temporary—it isn't enough time to build a real relationship, never mind anything with lasting commitment. But love can blossom faster than you think when the timing is right, and this short visit just might hold the promise of forever.

Come on back to Thunder Point, Oregon.  It's a beautiful place, I want to live there!  Like Carr's Virgin River series, the setting is also a vibrant character. What make up the town are the people, those welcoming, giving souls who almost seem too good to be true.  For Doctor Scott Grant, Thunder Point is the perfect place for his little family.  For Peyton Lacoumette, a break from the city is what she needs for her

Peyton could work at a larger, more prestigious practice but small town life is calling to her.  She finds she needs the friendly, comforting feel of Thunder Point.  After the mess she left behind in Portland, Peyton is happy to find a temporary home until she decides what and where she wants her life to go.  Peyton is a woman who is easy to like.  She knows what she wants, she's not perfect but is learning from her mistakes and is mature in her professional life and personal life.

Dr. Grant is the beloved local doctor with a heart of gold.  Too good to be true?  It certainly seems like it but he's also human and not perfect which is what made him come out of that god-like persona and into the world of mere mortals.  He's friendly, hard working and easy to relate to.  A great guy for Peyton, if only she can get past the similarities to her ex.

Scott Grant is almost too good to be true.  I could totally see how Peyton would want to back away from him not only because on the surface he seems like he has the same issues Peyton's ex had, but after getting burned it's not surprising Peyton is leery of any relationship with another doctor.

We do get to catch up with the residents of Thunder Point which is always something to look forward to.  I think that's the appeal of a small town romance series.  You not only get to meet new characters but have the chance to catch up with some old favorites.  This can take away page time from the main couple which can cause their romance to feel less than fully developed.

Overall, a solid addition to the Thunder Point series.

Rating: B+

Thunder Point Series ~

The Wanderer
The Newcomer
The Hero
The Chance
The Promise
The Homecoming (August 26, 2014)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review: Divided

Elsie Chapman
Dualed Series/Book 2
Young Adult/Dystopian
Random House/May 27, 2014

West Grayer is done killing. She defeated her Alternate, a twin raised by another family, and proved she’s worthy of a future. She’s ready to move on with her life. The Board has other plans. They want her to kill one last time, and offer her a deal worth killing for. 

But when West recognizes her target as a ghost from her past, she realizes she’s in over her head. The Board is lying, and West will have to uncover the truth of the past to secure her future.

How far will the Board go to keep their secrets safe? And how far will West go to save those she loves? With nonstop action and surprising twists, Elsie Chapman’s intoxicating sequel to Dualed reveals everything.

If you haven't read the first book, Dualed, you might feel a little lost when starting Divided.  There is back story given but you get a greater understanding of the main characters and the world if you have read Dualed, which tells how West and her boyfriend Chord got to the point they are at now.

The world West Grayer lives in is a lot like our world on the surface.  There are families living in what looks like either cities or the suburbs with kids heading off to school and hanging out after school but just beneath the surface is a completely different world.  A world where children learn to kill because if they don't they will be the ones killed.  It is a bleak existence for these kids, knowing someday they will have to kill their someone who looks like them - their alt.  The survivor is the one deemed worthy to defend their world from outside forces.

West Grayer isn't an easy character to like.  There are some reasons to feel sympathy for her, her home life is filled with loss of family and friends because of the system of Alternates (Alts) killing each other.  Some of the decisions she makes are very hard and not always easy to understand.  In Divided, reinforced is the fact that survival is ultimately all that drives West.  She needs to survive not just for herself but for Chord and for those she's lost.  Still, she makes some brutal choices that make her less than easy to like.

The idea behind Kersh and the Alternate program is for the city to be comprised of the best fighters in order to defend themselves from the Surround which is everyone outside Kersh's walls.  There are some glaring problems with this plan.  First off, not everyone has the same opportunities for training.  It reminded me of the Hunger Games with the twelve districts and the huge economic discrepancy between districts.  It is why West decides to become a Striker, so she can afford better training.  This also leads to some Alts or their family members having the money to hire Strikers to take out their Alts so they don't have to fight them.  How does this provide Kersh with the best possible Alt remaining?  It would make more sense if the Alts were to fight it out in a supervised arena. Sick but more fair and no chance for innocent bystanders to be hurt or killed, which does happen.  Or better yet, train the teens to become an army to defend the city.  Why none of this was not questioned by the general population, especially parents of kids who are dead, I don't know.

It does turn out that things are more complex and truths are revealed behind the reasoning of the Alternate system.  While we do learn more of how and why Kersh came to be, I still found the world West lives in depressing.  The one standout of the story is the writing.  I just wish the world of Kersh made more sense.

Rating: C

Thursday, July 3, 2014

ARC Review: Shattered

Kevin Hearne
Urban Fantasty
Iron Druid Chronicles/Book 7
Del Rey/June 17, 2014

For nearly two thousand years, there was only one Druid left walking the Earth—Atticus O’Sullivan, the Iron Druid, whose sharp wit and sharp sword kept him alive while pursued by a pantheon of hostile deities. Now he’s got company.

Atticus’s apprentice Granuaile is at last a full Druid herself. What’s more, Atticus has defrosted an archdruid long ago frozen in time, a father figure (of sorts) who now goes by the modern equivalent of his old Irish name: Owen Kennedy.

And Owen has some catching up to do.

Atticus takes pleasure in the role reversal, as the student is now the teacher. Between busting Atticus’s chops and trying to fathom a cell phone, Owen must also learn English. For Atticus, the jury’s still out on whether the wily old coot will be an asset in the epic battle with Norse god Loki—or merely a pain in the arse.

But Atticus isn’t the only one with daddy issues. Granuaile faces a great challenge: to exorcise a sorcerer’s spirit that is possessing her father in India. Even with the help of the witch Laksha, Granuaile may be facing a crushing defeat.

As the trio of Druids deals with pestilence-spreading demons, bacon-loving yeti, fierce flying foxes, and frenzied Fae, they’re hoping that this time
 . . . three’s a charm.

With Shattered, the seventh book in the adventurous Iron Druid Chronicles, Mr. Hearne has done it again. Not only has he given readers a wonderful ride filled with adventure, intrigue and comedy but he has woven a number of pantheons into a cohesive plot with gods and goddesses vying for the chance to either help Atticus or hasten him to his death.

The story is told in alternating chapters in three different point of view - Atticus, Granuaile and Owen.  Owen is Atticus' archdruid, his teacher who has been spending the last two thousand years on a time island.  But now he is free and it is Atticus' job to see that Owen becomes acclimated to the new world he finds himself in.  Of course, Atticus doesn't exactly have an abundance of free time but he does feel a responsibility towards Owen,  It was interesting to see their relationship unfold in a new direction with Atticus in the role of the teacher and Owen the student.

Granuaile is now a powerful Druid in her own right.  She can kick-ass right alongside Atticus.  She is pulled in another direction when her past association with Laksha comes calling.  With Granuaile, we see how she has embraced her life as a Druid but she brings a more modern outlook to the series.  I do like when Atticus and Granuaile are together because they work so well as partners but they spent most of Shattered apart.

I can't forget to mention Oberon, mostly because it might hurt his feelings.  The hound is in fine form if a little less page time than I would have liked.  Oberon is the comic relief, although not always intentional on his part.  He is the reason I find myself laughing out loud while reading Mr. Hearne's novels although Owen does give Oberon some competition in that arena.

Along with the three different points of view we also have three different plots converging into a final epic battle.  Hearne certainly knows how to choreograph battle scenes.  There are a multitude of fighters with various weapons but the action plays out like a well directed play with everyone knowing their part.  But there is also a great display of emotion in these scenes.  With friends and family members falling under the blade, whether they be god or long lived mortal, they all feel the pain of loss.

Shattered is another well written addition to the series.  It has that roller coaster feeling of exciting, thrilling, scary and left me wanting to get back in line for more.

Rating: A-

The Iron Druid Chronicles ~