Guest Review: Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

This review is brought to you by my amazing sister, Kelli. You can find her on her blog and on Goodreads.

Summary:  As a child, Lydia Pallas became all too familiar with uncertainty when it came to the future. Now, she's finally carved out a perfect life for herself--a life of stability and order with no changes, surprises, or chaos of any kind. She adores her apartment overlooking the bustling Boston Harbor, and her skill with languages has landed her a secure position as a translator for the U.S. Navy.

However, it is her talent for translation that brings her into contact with Alexander Banebridge, or "Bane," a man who equally attracts and aggravates her. When Bane hires Lydia to translate a seemingly innocuous collection of European documents, she hesitantly agrees, only to discover she is in over her head.

Just as Bane's charm begins to win her over, Lydia learns he is driven by a secret campaign against some of the most dangerous criminals on the East Coast, compelled by his faith and his past. Bane forbids any involvement on Lydia's part, but when the criminals gain the upper hand, it is Lydia on whom he must depend.

Review: As soon as I finished this book, I texted a friend and instructed her to drop everything and read this.  It left me feeling... content.  It was a well-written, compelling story, and it was stand-alone!  The heroine is plucky and honorable.  The hero is mysterious and driven.  There's a bad guy who makes me feel ill, and the good guys are out to get him.  Add in the historical information about orphanages and opium use, not to mention that the heroine is a translator, and I found the whole story riveting.



Agent of Change by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Summary: Once a brilliant First-in Scout, Val Con yos'Phelium was "recruited" by the mysterious Liaden Department of Interior and brainwashed into an Agent of Change—a ruthless covert operative who kills without remorse.

Fleeing the scene of his latest murderous mission, he finds himself saving the life of ex-mercenary Miri Robertson, a tough Terran on the run from a team of interplanetary assassins. Thrown together by circumstances, Val Con and Miri struggle to elude their enemies and stay alive without slaying each other—or surrendering to the unexpected passion that flares between them.

Review: So I have this habit when I read books, which is that I get about three-fourths of the way through them, and then I get online and look at reviews. I guess... I dunno, I'm trying to figure out whether my impressions so far are correct? Whether people agree with me, when I like certain characters or whatever? Maybe I'm trying to see how I should feel about what I've read so far. (I should probably stop letting other people tell me what I think.)

That being said, one of the reviews I looked up for this book pointed out that within the first two chapters or so, both main characters have killed enough people to definitely count as serial killers. And I thought... yeah. Pretty much. Which doesn't necessarily reflect poorly on the book, per se, because I've certainly killed plenty of random bad guys playing Legend of Zelda. So basically, this book has tons of storm troopers. Random, faceless, expendable Bad Guys.

Besides the senseless violence, there was a love story that took me a while to get into. I dunno... the description of the book told me that Val Con was this heartless assassin, which I found to be kind of a misnomer? I mean, at the beginning, he's fairly heartless, but pretty much as soon as he meets Miri (like, in chapter two) he becomes a Really Decent Guy who has Skills. Like, if Jason Bourne, instead of getting shot  and losing his memory, just met a cute redhead. So if he's such a decent guy, why was he assassinating someone in the first scene? And if he's so heartless, why is he suddenly abandoning the government that controls him?
All of which, to be honest, can be explained (to me) by the fact that the book was written in the eighties, when complex back story and world building were not necessary to make a book enjoyable. (For instance, this book, and this one. Both excellent.) I guess I'm expecting more characterization and interplanetary politics in later books.

One part of the book that I did love, though, was the turtles. Think about it. A culture of giant 8-foot turtles? Who are slow and live for centuries and are super polite and sweet? And grow knives like crystals? I loved them so much. I want a tribe of turtles to be my older brothers. Please tell me they show up in later books.

Goodreads Shelves: addictive, bechdel-test, fluffy, is-this-a-kissing-book, my-kind-of-woman


PS If you want to read it for yourself, it's in the Baen Free Library! Download the ebook here.


The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Summary: "Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who needs her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do."

Review: So I wanna get this out of the way as soon as possible, but am I the only one who was bothered by the Stockholm Syndrome? Admittedly, this seems like a case of people with a just cause who were forced into extreme measures, but still. Kidnapping. Stockholm Syndrome. The principle of the thing.

That being said, it was a cute book. I liked having a protagonist who isn't a waif, and isn't one of those girls who is super beautiful but "doesn't know how pretty she is." And I like how confident she became, although her love/hate relationship with food was resolved a little too easily, in my opinion.

Goodreads Shelves: bechdel-test, fluffy, is-this-a-kissing-book, my-kind-of-woman, nook-ya

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