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The Secrets of Midwives, by Sally Hepworth

The Secrets of Midwives, by Sally Hepworth


The Secrets of Midwives


I received a free copy from Goodreads giveaways in exchange for an honest review.

Having been a birth doula, I'm inclined to like stories that have a birthy bent. I liked this one well enough. It's a very quick, easy read. The story alternates between the viewpoints of three generations of midwives, and of course each has her secret she's carrying.

I didn't much care for Grace or her passages, and I felt she was a bit one-dimensional. The mommy issues between her and Neva seemed a bit strained at times, and all based on Grace being an incredibly grating person. She had some redeeming qualities in the end, but she wasn't very fun to read.

Neva has a secret pregnancy that she's managed to hide from every birth professional she works with or is related to. It strained credibility a bit, as did the awkward reveal, but I was more peeved about her repeatedly assuring the men in her life that she was sure of her dates and no the baby wasn't theirs – when really it just seems like Neva (or the author) is playing everyone involved and the reader as well.

Still, Floss's chapters, especially the flashbacks, were really engrossing. I sped through the book in one sitting. The ending's a bit pat, so I think I give it three stars overall, but it was a decent way to spend the afternoon.

Kushiel Drabbles

I finally finished my astrology drabbles from oh-so-very long ago! Chapter one can be found here. I didn't rate these, but they're not explicit.


Author: [personal profile] ahavah/Ahavah (AO3)
Prompt: Drabble Cycle Round 10: Astrology
Fandom: Kushiel's Legacy

Chapter Two!

Title: Libra
Pairing: Phedre nó Delaunay/Grainne mac Conor
Word count: 100


Title: Scorpio
Pairing: OFC/OFC
Word count: 100


Title: Sagittarius
Pairing: Moirin mac Fainche/Jehanne de la Courcel
Word count: 100


Title: Capricorn
Pairing: Claudia Fulvia/Brigitta
Word count: 100


Title: Aquarius
Pairing: Sidonie de la Courcel/OFC
Word count: 100


Title: Pisces
Pairing: Katherine Friote/Roshana Shahrizai
Word count: 100

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Naamah's Blessing, by Jacqueline Carey

Naamah's Blessing, Jacqueline Carey



Naamah's Blessing


This is more a 3.5 star, but I'm rounding up to 4. I liked this book much better than the second Moirin book. It was nice to see Terre d'Ange again, and the journey to Terra Nova was a fun adventure.

I usually love seeing the gods at work in the characters' lives, and that's something that drew me to the books in the first place. However, I fear that Moirin's saga relies a bit too heavily on deus ex machina. Moirin is always following her diadh-anam or Naamah's urgings or true dreams. She seems to have very little real agency, and we get the feeling that she, like us, is just waiting around to see how everything will turn out. I wish we saw her with a much more active role in these amazing stories. When she does, it's always through a gift from some god anyway. I guess I would have liked to see more of Moirin the (possibly fallible) human heroine and less Moirin the vessel waiting to be used.

Still, the story was fun, and I liked the way it closed the Circle of Shalomon, so to speak. I loved seeing Terra Nova and meeting their people and gods. The climax seemed to be missing something for me, but I'm not sure what. It may just be that deus ex machina bit. Still, the ending was solid and a great conclusion for this trilogy.

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Naamah's Curse, by Jacqueline Carey

Naamah's Curse, by Jacqueline Carey



Naamah's Curse


This is the least compelling of the Kushiel Universe novels, and that seems to be a general consensus. In fact, if I weren't such a die-hard Carey fan, this novel would have found itself on the 'Did Not Finish' list. I'm only giving it two stars, and even that's just because Carey is a good writer.

I think part of the problem for me is that Moirin spends most of this book under the thumb of a religious zealot, forced to confess her “sins” and turn everything she loved into something horrible. I guess it's a testament to Carey's writing prowess that this hurt me so much, but I think I took it just as badly as Moirin. It sucks. It's not fun at all. I read to escape those kinds of things, not revel in them.

That's not the only problem, though. The book is just lackluster. It's an obvious contract-fulfiller, and everyone Moirin encounters seems to be very stereotyped. It's preachy. It's just...meh. And I've read it more than once now, and I still really disliked almost all of it. I probably won't read it again even on subsequent Kushiel read-throughs. It makes me sad, and that makes me even more sad compared to the amazingness of the rest of the Kushiel books. It could have been so much more.

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Naamah's Kiss, by Jacqueline Carey

Naamah's Kiss, by Jacqueline Carey



Naamah's Kiss


Most of the reviews on this seem to be 4- and 5-star, but I can't bring myself to give more than 3. However, even Carey's mediocre Terre d'Ange books are better than a lot of fantasy I've read, so I still recommend it if you love the world.

I do love that this book shows us what it's like to be touched by Naamah, and I was also excited to get a closer look at the Maghuin Dhonn (though we did not see as much of that as I might have hoped). Still, we see Naamah take a more active role, which of course leads to lots of lovely sex, so I can't be too terribly disappointed. Plus, reiki was officially made canon, which I really adored when I was roleplaying in the milieu.

What is it that keeps me from enjoying this more, then? Moirin just doesn't have the presence of both Phèdre and Imriel. She has some cool magic, but I'm not really sure she's a main character-level heroine. It was nice to hear how the main characters of the other trilogies ended up after 'retirement', so to speak, but it seemed silly that almost all of the stories she heard came from Phèdre's day. Seeing Ch'in was exciting, but it wasn't as wonderfully developed as Terre d'Ange or Alba.

I don't know what it is. It's a good book, but not a fabulous one. I'll always revel in more of Carey's Terre d'Ange worlds, but this just wasn't as strong as the first two trilogies.

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Kushiel's Mercy, by Jacqueline Carey

Kushiel's Mercy, by Jacqueline Carey



Kushiel's Mercy


I really enjoyed both this book and the whole series, but I'm giving this four stars because something just didn't catch me as much as the other books did. I think it may be because most of the D'Angeline characters spend a huge portion of the book under a spell that makes them completely OOC. This was done on purpose, and I actually really love seeing magic take a more active role in this novel, but I think ultimately it just turned me off.

I still love Carey's writing and was impressed with the change in viewpoint character that we see later in the story. The books are told in first person from Imriel's point of view, but here we see a spell to make Imriel into someone else. The writing both changing from and back again to Imriel were really well done, and I thought it was kind of fun.

The antagonists, for the spells they managed to wrought, are not as impressive as they really should be. They pull off spells of enormous magnitude but make a number of really stupid (and enormous) mistakes. Still, the journey was fun, and I love the over-arcing theme (of the whole series) of love overcoming all. I thought it was a lovely end to a wonderful series.

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Kushiel's Justice, by Jacqueline Carey

Kushiel's Justice, by Jacqueline Carey



Kushiel's Justice


This may be my favorite of the Imriel trilogy, which is unusual for middle books. Usually I find those to be the weakest, but not Justice. It's hard to talk about without getting into spoilers, but I will try.

This installment sees Imri through as he accepts his responsibilities as a Prince of the Blood and agrees to marry into Alban nobility. We get a much, much closer view of Alba, which I have always wanted and so enjoyed reading. We also get a bit of a closer look at some of the Night Court Houses which we hadn't seen before, although I'll admit that I wish we had seen more.

As with the rest of the books, the presence of the gods is strong. I love seeing how the gods interact with or support their followers &/or scions. I love seeing new magics, especially in other lands, showing that it is not only the D'Angelines who wield other-worldy powers. I love the tenderness and the sharpness. I love the depth of emotion that Carey makes me feel, and the amazing way she has with words. Again, a great book written with great skill.

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Kushiel's Scion, by Jacqueline Carey

I'm in the middle of rereading my favorite books, the Kushiel's Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey. I have already reviewed the first trilogy, so I'm picking up with a review of the fourth book, or the first book in the Imriel Trilogy.

Kushiel's Scion, by Jacqueline Carey.


Kushiel's Scion


This is another great Terre d'Ange book, this one beginning Imriel's trilogy. Imriel's voice is different from Phèdre's, and yet the world is the same. We see more of the world in this book, following Imri to his studies in Tiberium and his quest to learn how Anafiel Delaunay learned the arts of covertcy. There is still intrigue, war, sex, worship, loyalty, and all the things that made the first trilogy great.

I'm inclined to give it five stars, because Carey is just a master at creating wonderful worlds. She has a way with words that I only wish I could emulate. Her writing draws you right in and keeps you there. My only issue is that she once again seems to have a pet-word misusage, incorrectly using “bemused” throughout the whole thing. It's almost annoying enough to dock a star, but I still plowed (lovingly) through the book and she still managed to bring me to tears, so the writing is too well done to nitpick that way. Still, I wish her editors would catch those sorts of things.

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The Errant Flock, by Jana Petken

The Errant Flock, by Jana Petken, is a “TBR” (To Be Read) choice for my 2017 Reading Challenge.



Errant Flock


This book has lots of great reviews, so maybe I'm just not the right market. I gave it over 50% before chalking it up as DNF, but I just wasn't as invested in it as I should have been by then. The only parts I really liked, and which kept me reading, were the portions from David's POV. Those piqued my interest but not enough to stick with the whole book.

I did feel uncomfortable with the large amount of anti-Semitism, even if it was historically accurate. It's not a fun read. I usually like dark, but by the time we finally saw the Inquisition come to town, I realized that I just hated the thought of watching further innocents be tortured and killed. There was nothing to keep pulling me forward. Also far too many typos, which should have easily been caught.

Reckoning of Dragons, by Rob May

Reckoning of Dragons: Dragon Killer, Roll the Bones & Sirensbane, by Rob May


Reckoning of Dragons


I enjoyed these stories enough to finish three books and two short stories worth of reading in this milieu, so that has to count for a lot. The story was decent, and Rob May is a skilled writer. The works desperately needed better editing though. Not in the usual sense of crappy typos and disappointing discount ebooks though. Mostly just for the many inconsistencies, and I did have some small nitpicks.

I do love my dragon stories, but we saw surprisingly little of dragons for what I was expecting. Book 3 didn't even have dragons. There was a sea monster that made a cameo, but the 'dragons' were mostly metaphorical. It was a pirate story about drug abuse, which ended up being more interesting than I expected, but it wasn't a dragon tale. I did end up enjoying it though.

I found the climaxes of each three books to be pretty iffy. Each climax included something that just didn't quite make my suspension of disbelief. Book one, Dragon Killer, particularly flipped my “Say what now?” switch, but the rest of the story – and some admittedly great worldbuilding – kept me reading on. I also didn't think that the swapping between third person and then first person flashbacks worked that well. It would trip me up whenever we had a tense change, or I would think the story was current because it's third person only to realize shortly that it's another flashback. It was just clunky and didn't work for me.

The author also hit a few of my personal peeves. I detest when authors (or adults of any kind) consistently refer to grown women as “girls”, and I also hate it when the viewpoint character knows something but the author makes a huge point of NOT letting us know what the character knows. Especially in very clumsy “So Kal shared her plans....[but totally not with you, dear reader]” passages that take forever to finally let us in on the secret. It's a cheap trick, and it rarely works to enhance tension (if that's even what the author was going for). It also seems like the author read some of that advice about adverbs being bad, so he just decided to leave “-ly” off of words whether it's grammatically needed or not. “Things were going pretty bad” instead of “badly”, things like that. I could overlook it in dialogue maybe, but not narrative.

So I guess I'm giving three stars. Better editing would have given this a strong 4, maybe even 5 if the climaxes were strengthened. I did like the books, and the last story was enough to pique my interest if May decides to further tell that particular tale. I'd love to read more. I think my overall 'meh' feeling right now might be attributed to three books and two (long) short stories just being overkill for me personally. If they were stronger, I might have sped through eagerly, but I come away just being glad to finally be done with it all.

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