Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Really Short Reviews: Reading Outside My Comfort Zone

I read two different books recently that had me saying "I don't normally read this genre but. . ." I thought that sounded like an interesting post idea. So here are my thoughts on those two books. Let me know in the comments what you've read that maybe isn't normally your thing but you wound up loving it anyway.

28186322A Curious Beginning
(Veronica Speedwell #1)
Deanna Raybourn
Release: July 12, 2016
Goodreads Amazon
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley
In her thrilling new series, Deanna Raybourn, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries, returns once more to Victorian England...and introduces intrepid adventuress Veronica Speedwell. 

London, 1887. After burying her spinster aunt, orphaned Veronica Speedwell is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as with fending off admirers, Veronica intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans when Veronica thwarts her own attempted abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron, who offers her sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker, a reclusive and bad-tempered natural historian. But before the baron can reveal what he knows of the plot against her, he is found murdered—leaving Veronica and Stoker on the run from an elusive assailant as wary partners in search of the villainous truth. 
I don't normally read historicals, even though I love Steampunk. I kept seeing A Curious Beginning and thinking it sounded good until I realized there are no paranormal elements in it. But when I saw it up on Netgalley for the paperback release this summer, I decided to take a chance.

It turns out this book has absolutely everything I love about Steampunk except the paranormal stuff. Veronica Speedwell is a delightful character, an independent and outspoken woman who reminds me of Alexia, or even Prudence, from Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate world. She spends some time travelling with the circus, which immediately brought to mind Delilah S. Dawson's Blud series (minus the vampires.) Elements in the story even at times reminded me of Penny Dreadful.

On top of all those happy associations, A Curious Beginning has a romance and a murder mystery. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to more of Miss Speedwell's adventures, even if they are completely lacking in supernatural creatures.


A Promise of Fire
(Kingmaker Chronicles #1)
Amanda Bouchet
Release: August 2, 2016
Catalia "Cat" Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he's ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.
I don't read much adult fantasy. If I pick up a sword and sorcery book, it's likely a YA. And I can count on one hand the number of fantasy romances I've read in my life. But A Promise of Fire came highly recommended by one of my blogger friends. And she was right. I loved it!

Amanda Bouchet has written an accessible fantasy, perfect for those who would be turned off by stilted prose or D&D-style jargon. Not only is the language familiar, but so is the mythology, which is based on the Greeks. The romance is full of tension and witty banter just like some of my favorite UF series.

Cat is a modern heroine, similar to Kate Daniels in many ways. I can even see Curran acting like Griffin on occasion. I've read a few reviews that couldn't get over that fact that he kidnapped Cat at the beginning of the book. Because the story is written from her point of view, I chose to believe her when she says she came to terms with it.

I'm excited to see Cat's powers develop and watch her bond with Griffin and his crew as the series continues.


Tell me your "I don't normally read this genre, but" story in the comments.

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