Sunday, June 27, 2021

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Title: People We Meet on Vacation
Author: Emily Henry
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: May 11, 2021 

Two best friends. Ten summer trips. One last chance to fall in love.

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

As a lover of Beach Read, I could not stop myself from requesting this book. 

Meet Poppy, the protagonist. When she was a teenager she was bullied and when she was old enough she never stopped running. She left Ohio not wanting to ever return except to see her parents. As an adult, she is daring, adventurous, humorous, and with a desire to travel all over the world. At first, during her college years at the cheapest way she could afford it and currently in a much more plush way thanks to her current job.

In college, she meets Alex. At first glance, they had nothing in common and they disregard each other without a backward glance.

The second time they meet, they are forced to take a car ride together and during their time alone they share many pieces of themselves and a friendship ensues.

Poppy has always wanted to travel the world and having a friend like Alex is a blessing. They start taking trips together every year. They call it their Summer Trip.

Their friendship is a good one despite the people who come into their lives. For Alex there is Sarah. A woman who is in and out of his life. While for Poppy, she has a few serious male candidates.

Then the Croatia trip happens. After it, they won't really see each other for two years until Poppy realizes she wants to fix things with Alex. A trip to Palm Springs might be the antidote she is looking for their dying friendship.

I like Poppy she was full of life but she also had her pretty big insecurities. Alex was the serious one. A book-lover (yay), khaki-wearing guy. He was ready to settle down in a small town and have a family.

There were some parts of this book that tugged at my heartstrings. During those, I found myself smiling or crying depending on the scenario.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

A complimentary copy was provided by Berkely via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb
The Liveship Traders #1


Title: Ship of Magic
Series: The Liveship Traders #1
Author: Robin Hobb

Wizardwood, a sentient wood.The most precious commodity in the world.

Like many other legendary wares, it comes only from the Rain River Wilds.

But how can one trade with the Rain Wilders, when only a liveship fashioned from wizardwood can negotiate the perilous waters of the Rain River? Rare and valuable a liveship will quicken only when three members, from successive generations, have died on board. The liveship Vivacia is about to undergo her quickening as Althea Vestrit’s father is carried on deck in his death-throes. Althea waits for the ship that she loves more than anything else in the world to awaken. Only to discover that the Vivacia has been signed away in her father’s will to her brutal brother-in-law, Kyle Haven...

Others plot to win or steal a liveship. The Paragon, known by many as the Pariah, went mad, turned turtle, and drowned his crew. Now he lies blind, lonely, and broken on a deserted beach. But greedy men have designs to restore him, to sail the waters of the Rain Wild River once more.

After finishing The Assassin's Quest, I was ready to put a brake on the series and squeeze a few other audios before I resumed it. That thought lasted about 3 minutes before I dived back into the world of the Six Duchess and now Bingtown. 

At the core of the storyline, we have the Vestrit family. They own the ship Vivacia which is made of wizardwood. In order for Vivacia to quicken, three successive generations have to die on board the ship. 

Althea, the youngest daughter, dreams of inheriting the ship. She has a connection with it. Her father, Ephron Vestrit, knows it. However, her mother Ronica and sister, Keffria have other plans. They want Kyle Haven, her bother in law to take over the ship. 

During her marriage, Ronica had stayed behind taking care of the household and their holdings while Ephron left trip after trip onboard the Vivacia. She was the one who met with the Rain Wild Traders and kept her side of their bargain. One thing Ronica was clear on, was that Ephron didn't want to take his boat into the waters of the Rain River in order not to make their debt even a higher one with the Rain Wild people. 

Keffria has let her mother and her husband do what they thought was right. Yet, when Kyle was last back, she realized she might have made a mistake and now her family would suffer for it. 

Wintrow, Kyle's young son, only wants to continue on his journey to becoming a priest of Sa but his father wants him on the Vivacia instead.

Keffria's daughter, Malta, is a spoiled young girl who only thinks about being introduced at the ball, seeking the attention of young boys, and owning pretty things.

Brashen Trell, a man who is a good sailor who was part of the Vivacia crew until Kyle took it away from him. He is probably Althea's HEA.

Paragon, the Pariah. A Liveboat who went mad. He is blind and stuck on the beach. But for how long?

Amber, a newcomer to Bingtown with a special knack for handling and modifying wood.

Pirate Kennit, who would like to become the King of Pirates and his other desire is to capture a Liveship. He has luck on his side but maybe not all the time.

Of course, there are others that help with the characterization like Kennit's First Mate and the woman he cares for but won't admit it to himself.

Ship of Magic had the best ingredients to earn and keep my attention. A good storyline with credible characters despite the fantasy elements and the wish that I could meet them somehow and be able to help them. Although maybe not on a ship at sea on treacherous paths while serpents are following us and trying to eat us.

Yes, SoM's audio was long, a little more than thirty-five hours but worth it because now I know more of Bingtown and its dynamics. It made me laugh when they say the inhabitant of the north (Six Duchess) are all barbarians. I also have my suspicions about Amber. I do like Pirate Kennit as an anti-hero and I would like to see Paragon sailing again. I'm sure Malta will be in trouble and she will hopefully mature into someone who cares more for other things than jewels. So far, Wintrow and Althea have had the worst luck. 

I'm excited to see what happens next.

Cliffhanger: Yes

4/5 Fangs

Assassin's Quest by Robin Hobb
The Farseer Trilogy #3

Title: Assassin's Quest
Series: The Farseer Trilogy #3
Author: Robin Hobb

Fitz is about to discover the truth about the Fool's prophecy. Having been resurrected from his fatal tortures in Regal's dungeons, Fitz has once more foiled the Prince's attempts to be rid of him.

Now, restored to his own body, Fitz begins the painful, slow process of learning to be a man again. He must learn to cast off the wild ways of the wolf and return to the human world: a world beset evermore by the relentless Red Ships Raiders who are now free to plunder any coastal town they please. But more immediately, a world in which Fitz finds he is utterly alone.

Regal has stripped the kingdom of its riches and retired to the inland city of Tradeford. Of Verity, on his quest to find the legendary Elderlings, there has been no word; Molly, Kettricken and the Fool have all vanished.

Unless Fitz can find Verity and help him in his quest, the Six Duchies will perish and there will be no safe place to live.

Short of thirty-eight hours, this audio was exactly what I was expecting. I knew from a friend (ok ok, it was my husband) that the end of this book wouldn't be completely satisfying. So I was ready to be upset at poor Fitz's fate. Yet, when the ending happened, I was more impressed than anything else. What an amazing world Robin Hobb has created! I couldn't be anything but in awe of her writing. Her characters are so well crafted and developed that I was lost to her world. It also helped that I knew there was way more Fitz in other books and this was not the end of him and his troubles.

As the name of the book implies, our Fitz has a rude awakening after what happened at the end of the second book. Fitz is back, he is not a boy anymore and for a while, he wants to break free of his duty, he wants to seek revenge. He wants to run free like a wolf and do with his life as if it was his own to command. But was it truly a quest of self-discovery or was it Fate guiding him?

”No choice, no choice, no choice. Never any choice about anything. Fate had made me a killer, a liar, and a thief. And the harder I tried to avoid those roles, the more firmly I was pushed into them.”

In the end, Fitz does what he must. He must look for Verity and if that means searching for him in the most inhospitable places, he will do it but not without getting hurt but gaining knowledge and wisdom in the process. We also get some glimpses of Chade, Burrock, Molly, Nettle, and Patience thanks to the Skill.

Luckily, the last leg of his traveling is not done alone. The Fool, Kettricken, and Nighteyes are with him. Also, Starling, who was not a favorite of mine and I wasn't sure why she had to be there but having the other ones there and knowing that at least someone knew that Fitz was alive and what had happened to him made me happy. 

Even though, I've told you I thought Robin Hobb did an amazing job at creating this world, my huge issue with her is what she did to Fitz. It's almost as she enjoyed writing his misfortunes over and over again. This young man has suffered and lost so much! How much pain and suffering does the main character have to endure before he can be happy in the end? I guess the long answer to my question will be: 

Sixteen books.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Monday, June 7, 2021

Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb
The Farseer Trilogy #2

Title: Royal Assassin
Series: The Farseer Trilogy #2
Author: Robin Hobb

Fitz has survived his first hazardous mission as king’s assassin but is left little more than a cripple. Battered and bitter, he vows to abandon his oath to King Shrewd, remaining in the distant mountains. But love and events of terrible urgency draw him back to the court at Buckkeep, and into the deadly intrigues of the royal family.

Renewing their vicious attacks on the coast, the Red-Ship Raiders leave burned-out villages and demented victims in their wake. The kingdom is also under assault from within, as treachery threatens the throne of the ailing king. In this time of great danger, the fate of the kingdom may rest in Fitz’s hands—and his role in its salvation may require the ultimate sacrifice.

Royal Assassin begins just where Apprentice Assassin ended.

If you read the books you know what happened to Fitz. Suffice it to say, he didn't do so well on his first solo quest as an Assassin to help his King and King-in-Waiting, Verity. At least, the Six Duchies has gained a Queen-in-Waiting, Kettricken.

In the beginning, Fitz is not sure about himself. He was hurt during the events that happened a the end of book one and he's still recuperating. But Fitz must go back to Buckkeep not only because of his promise to his King but also because he wants to look for Molly, his friend.

When he gets to Buckkeep, King Shrewd is not himself. He looks sick. King-in-Waiting, Verity is trying to keep the raiders off the Six Duchies without much success. The one good piece of good news is that Molly is now working at Buckkeep. The bad news is that by him caring for her, he has painted a target on her back. 

Fitz does make a new connection with an animal, NightEyes who becomes one of my favorite characters in this book (Just like I loved Nosy and Smithy).

In Royal Assassin, nothing really good happens to Fitz. He has the bad luck of being a bastard and having Regal as an enemy. His life is nothing but dangerous situations and people trying to kill him.
Despite things not going well for him, I did enjoy this book and so many of the characters have become dear to me, including Kettricken, Verity, NightEyes, The Fool, Patience, Lacey, and Burrich.

The ending of this book is quite sad in a way.

Cliffhanger: Yes

4/5 Fangs

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb
The Farseer Trilogy #1

Title: Assassin's Apprentice
Series: The Farseer Trilogy #1
Author: Robin Hobb

Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father's gruff stableman. He is treated like an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz's blood runs the magic Skill--and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family. As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom.

“When you cut pieces out of the truth to avoid looking like a fool you end up looking like a moron instead.”

My husband told me I should listen to this series. 

Foolish me. I thought it was a trilogy. Once I was invested in Fitz's life, I realized there are 16 books in this world and that Fitz is still very much present in the last book!

So what's the Farseer Trilogy about?

The main character, Fitz is born a bastard. Before the age of six, Fitz can't recall anything including his mother. His first memory is of his mother's father  (can't really call him a grandfather since he didn't act like one) taking him to his father's Royal Guard. Prince Chivalry was not there but his stablemaster, Burrich was. 

For most people in the Six Duchies, it's shocking to learn that Prince Chivarly betrayed his wife since their marriage was one out of love than duty. Chivalry, who was King-in-Waiting, decides to exile with his wife, Patience without meeting Fitz. Chivalry's brother, Prince Verity becomes King-in-Waiting. 

At first, when Fitz arrives, he sleeps with the dogs and creates a bond with one of them, Nosy. He speaks very little and he runs free after helping in the stables until the day King Shrewd notices him when he was shy of his tenth birthday. The King promises Fitz to feed him, clothe him in exchange for him being sworn to the Farseer line. Furthermore, King Shrewd wants Fitz to learn to become an assassin, and later he wants him to learn to Skill.

“You need not eat any man’s leavings. I will keep you, and I will keep you well. If any man or woman ever seeks to turn you against me by offering you more than I do, then come to me, and tell me of the offer, and I shall meet it. You will never find me a stingy man, nor be able to cite ill use as a reason for treason against me. Do you believe me, boy?”

The Farseer line has been blessed with the Skill, a way of communicating (like telepathy) but it also can force its will into someone's mind without their knowledge. There is also the Wit which is not spoken of and only a few know and have. It's a way of communicating with animals and sharing their minds (mind link). To have that power is seeing as a perversion by some.

Fitz, without really wanting to, has many enemies, including Prince Regal who will stop at anything until he can see that Fitz is dead. Furthermore, the kingdom does have a common enemy, the Red-Ship Raiders who are responsible for the Forged ones: Men and women who after being taken by the raiders, are returned without a conscience. The Forged ones will murder and destroy everything in their path.

I was happy with this first book in the trilogy. Robin Hobb creates an amazing fantasy world full of intrigue, treachery, and unforgettable characters. It has a slow pace and very few moments of action but it does set a good base for books to come.

As soon as I finished the Assassin Apprentice, I started listening to the next one, Royal Assassin.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

Hidden Prey by John Sandford
Lucas Davenport #15


Title: Hidden Prey
Series: Lucas Davenport #15
Author: John Sandford

Theories abound when a Russian gets himself killed on the shore of Lake Superior--shot with fifty-year-old bullets. But when it turns out he had very high government connections, state troubleshooter Lucas Davenport gets the call. Well, Lucas and a mysterious Russian cop with secrets all her own. Together, they'll follow a trail back to another place and another time, and battle the shadows they discover there--shadows that turn out to be both very real and very deadly.

In Hidden Prey, Lucas is called in when a Russian is murdered. Bullets from a few decades ago have been used and it's not clear why this man was chosen. 

The night of the murder, a witness saw it all and Lucas will try to figure out who this person is. At the same time, Russia sends their own investigator who will join forces with Lucas to find the murderer. 

As the clues start coming in, Lucas has to wonder if there has been a Russian spy ring in the midwest all along?

Not my favorite in the series. I liked it because it is Lucas and I know he will find the murderer. It's never easy but I do trust that Lucas and Co, will catch the bad one (most of the time). Yes, sometimes they get away with it but you know that Lucas knows who they are and he will be watching and waiting for them to make a mistake.

Cliffhanger: No

3/5 Fangs

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Still House by Christian White, Summer DeRoche


Title: Still House
Author: Christian White, Summer DeRoche
Narrators: Luke Arnold, Sibylla Budd
Publisher: Audible Original
Release Date: April 6, 2021

Situated in a beautiful setting abutting the Balarang waterways and located on an acre of natural bushland, this three-bedroom country home is full of promise, character and potential. Featuring private access to the many splendours of Balarang Creek, this idyllic property is perfect for anyone seeking fresh air and serenity.

Nostalgic for childhood summers a world away from his manic Melbourne life, Dave Johnson purchases a secluded house in a postcard-perfect coastal town. A savvy investment, he convinces his wife. One year on, and his seaside dream has turned into one big headache, with his tenants not paying rent, and now simply vanishing into thin air, leaving all their belongings behind. Summoned back to the house to inspect the abandoned property, Dave and his wife Lisa become trapped in the isolated spot after their car breaks down. Spooked and alone, they become lured into investigating what really happened to their mysterious tenants.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

This story freaked me out!

Short of four hours, this Audible Original, was packed with well-defined characters and a terrifying house.

We all know about a certain home in Amityville and Still House reminded me of that one. 

Dave Johnson purchased a coastal home thinking he was going to make money out of it. His wife, Lisa was not happy with the investment. 

A year later, Dave might have to agree with her when his dream of an income evaporates. The tenants stopped paying the rent and when the property real state agent calls him to let him know that the tenants have disappeared, he is obviously upset. There is nothing left but to check the damage himself and Lisa will have to come with him.

Still House kept me hooked to every word. It had wonderful narrators who easily brought the terror to the front and center.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs