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Title: Star Stories - Epilogues (The Fixers of KarmaCorp #7)
Author: Audrey Faye
Genre: Sci-fi, short stories
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 88 pages
Date read: August, 2017

A few of the stories in this collection began many books ago. Regalis and Tameka. Yesenia and a second trip to a certain Wanderer flea market. A couple of them are here purely because they made me giggle (Kish facing the impending doom of a crown on her head) or because I simply couldn’t resist (there was just no way for this to end without a quick trip to Quixal.) The rest volunteered themselves as I sat with my knitting needles and checked in with each of the characters who made this series what it is.

As with all short story collections some were awesome, and some didn't touch me much. I really wish Audrey Faye wrote Christian novels - she'd be brilliant at it! The way she describes fellowship and religion would make her even better than Neta Jackson.

But I digress. My favourite story by far was "To See or Not To See". I loved seeing Yesenia back at the flea market of Tezuli, and it bookended the similar story in the first Star Stories collection very nicely :-) I also enjoyed reading about Raven back on her native planet, and Kish finally figuring out how to be herself and a queen at the same time.

Excellent conclusion to the Fixers of KarmaCorp. I'm looking forward to seeing where Audrey Faye takes her writing next.
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Title: Daughter's Need (KarmaCorp #6)
Author: Audrey Faye
Genre: Sci-fi
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 191 pages
Date read: August, 2017

A mother who violated her deepest needs - to keep her deepest promises.
The daughter she has never been able to love.
The four who wait for what comes in the dark.

Very powerful and emotional addition to the KarmaCorp story. I didn't quite get all the ins and outs of neither the problem surrounding Tatiana nor exactly how the solution was supposed to work, but that's very often the case when it comes to time-travel, so it didn't really bother me :)

Audrey Faye nicely tied up all ends in this 6th KarmaCorp novel, and while I'll still read the epilogues just because I want to read more about the four and the people surrounding them, the short stories. aren't really necessary to wrap up any story lines.
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Title: Shaman's Curse
Author: Audrey Faye
Genre: Sci-fi
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 178
Date read: July, 2017

Raven grew up tribal, and she's never forgotten it. She was sent by the grandmothers to serve those who have no tribe. To walk with the darkness. To use her Shaman Talent to balance those who walk in the light.

Which has never felt more important - because this time, the darkness comes for her friends. And for a certain golden-eyed teenager and the mother who isn't supposed to love her.

Raven has been waiting for this assignment. Expecting it. But even she wasn't expecting this.

For some reason it took me ages to get past the first five chapters, but once I did, I gobbled the rest up in two days flat! So I think it had more to do with having to be in the right mood, than with the book itself.

Because once Raven reached Elleni I was hooked. I loved reading more about how the tribes work and the instant feeling of welcome offered to Raven. I could appreciate the spiritual side of things, even when not subscribing to the "religion" thus described. The emotions were still something I could relate to.

Not the best Fixer novel, but certainly not the worst either. I really like Raven and her fiercely protective personality.
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Title: The Book of Strange New Things
Author: Michel Faber
Genre: Sci-fi
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 512
Date read: December, 2016

It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC. His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter’s teachings—his Bible is their “book of strange new things.” But Peter is rattled when Bea’s letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling. Bea’s faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter.

Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desires of his strange employer, Bea is struggling for survival. Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us.

I really can't figure this book out... it was fascinating and boring at the same time, and I'm not even sure how that works! Also, I have no idea what story the author was trying to tell! (But then I had much the same thoughts after reading "The Crimson Petal and the White", so perhaps that's just his writing-style). I was intrigued by Peter's experiences on Oasis and liked his time at C-2 much better than when he was back at base. I loved the natives and wish we'd seen more of their lives.

But at the same time, I felt there were SO many questions that weren't answered! Mostly about what was happening back on Earth while Peter was away. And worst of all, the book had no real resolution or conclusion... it just ended, as if Michel Faber had written himself into a corner and couldn't figure out where to go from there.

At the end of the day, I think I liked it. And I did appreciate that it didn't poke fun at Christianity or missionaries. But apart from that, it had too many problems for me to really be able to recommend it to anybody else... unless you happen to love vague books with ambiguous endings.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Dragon Kin: Sapphire & Lotus
Author: Audrey Faye & Shae Geary
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 247
Date read: December, 2016

The ancient prophecy speaks of the five, those who will come to save all of dragonkind. Like most prophecies, it leaves out a lot of the important details...

The very ordinary elf girl who runs for the hills—and gets lost in a forest instead. The dragon egg, precariously perched high in a tree on a dark winter's night.

And what happens when egg meets girl.

Utterly delightful book! Far too short though, as I found myself thinking about it for ages after finishing it, and wishing there was more to the story. Fortunately it's the first book in a series, so I have the rest to look forward to.

I can't quite explain the charm... the plot is very quickly described - the elf, Sapphire, bonds with the dragon, Lotus, and has to teach it how to behave... and most specifically, how to fly! - but the book showcases Audrey Faye's skill with the pen (a skill, it would seem, that her daughter has inherited), and I grew to love all the characters and wanted to know more about them. I smiled my way through it, and immediately sent it off to others for them to read.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Fortune's Dance (The Fixers #3)
Author: Audrey Faye
Genre: Sci-fi
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 152
Date read: September, 2016

Imogene Glass isn't a Fixer who makes waves - she leaves that part to her friends. They fight. She Dances the universe into harmony. Until she gets called onto the carpet for choosing the easy road instead of the right one.

Her next assignment is an observation-only mission, one where she's supposed to keep her eyes open and her Talent off. Which only sounds mildly frustrating - until she gets there.

This was definitely a book I read despite the cover rather than because of it. I'm sorry - it is UGLY! Fortunately, since it's an ebook, I've only really had to look at it on Goodreads.

That out of the way, I enjoyed this KarmaCorp novel just as much as the previous two :) I enjoyed getting to know Iggy, and her mission at Thess rang very true to me. It was certainly very different from the more active missions of the two first books, but though I hadn't expected it at first (which is why it took me awhile to get properly started on this), it worked for me.

I do recommend reading "Star Stories" before reading this one though, or there are some references that you won't get.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Star Stories (KarmaCorp Tales)
Author: Audrey Faye
Genre: Short stories, Sci-fi
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 165
Date read: June, 2016

A Seer in a spaceport fleamarket and a StarReader in his ivory tower - both with messages for Yesenia Mayes. The first days on Stardust Prime for a very special assistant and a very important class of tadpoles. The birth of two daughters - and the terrible sacrifices of the mothers who love them.

A collection of really charming short stories, set in the KarmaCorp universe.

As a general rule, I'm not fond of short stories, but that rule goes flying out of the window when it's short stories set in a universe I'm already familiar with, revolving around characters I'm already fond of (or at least know), so I guess my beef with short stories is mostly because I think they give too few pages to set the scene, so when the scene is already set (so to speak), I'm free to love them just as much as I would any other book by that author.

If anything, I thought some of these short stories were far too short. I'd have loved to read more about Kish, Tee, Raven and Iggy's introduction to KarmaCorp and how their friendship (and talents) grew, and the stories about Yesenia and Bean were heartbreaking in their lack of closure (although we did get a bit more of that in "Grower's Omen", so more may still come).

I devoured the book, and wouldn't have complained if it had been twice as long.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Grower's Omen (The Fixers #2)
Author: Audrey Faye
Genre: Sci-Fi
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 162
Date read: May, 2016

Sometimes the right choice feels like anything but. Tyra Lightbody lives steeped in family, community, and promises made long before she was born.

Her next mission will try to take all that away.

She's being sent to an experimental-species biome to see why the locals are having bad dreams and throwing beakers at each other. What she discovers will test her loyalties, her courage, and her ability to make the very hardest of decisions in the very darkest of nights.

A bit slower to take off than the first book in the series, but once it did, I enjoyed it just as much. Especially the ethical dilemma Tyra faced, and her absolute dedication to staying on the right side of the equations, even if she did have to cross certain lines along the way.

After reading the first one, I was glad to see that there didn't seem to be any romantic interest for Tyra in this one. While I loved the story of Kish and Devan, I still appreciate that the focus is on the Fixers' jobs, rather than on getting them all paired up ;)
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Lesbian Assassins 4
Author: Audrey Faye
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 112
Date read: December, 2015

James Turking is the most evil man Carly and Jane know.

And he's about to crash back into their lives. As usual, he wants something they can't give - and this time, he has leverage.

Fourth and final book in the series, and unfortunately also the weakest of the lot, so it's probably a good thing that Audrey Faye is moving on to other characters. I still like Carly and Jane... not to mention Rosie and Lelo... but too much of the plot happened between the lines and/or felt unrealistic.

I was glad to get some of the loose ends all wrapped up though.

(And I loved the stocking stuffer - very sweet and Christmasy :) )
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Destiny's Song (The Fixers #1)
Author: Audrey Faye
Genre: Sci-fi
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 223
Date read: October, 2015

Lakisha Drinkwater is the best Singer in the quadrant. Which means the last thing she was expecting is her latest assignment...

The boss lady is sending her to an Inheritor-ruled backwater planet to babysit the heir apparent, for reasons that are about as clear as space mud. But the StarReaders have spoken, and Fixers do what they're told - especially if they work for Yesenia Mayes.

So Kish is headed for the boondocks, prepared to be a dutiful cog. But Bromelain III isn't going to make that easy - and neither is the heir apparent.

In my opinion, the best work Audrey Faye has published under this pseudonym.

While I've greatly enjoyed the Lesbian Assassin series, this first book in a new sci-fi series showed me a strong return of the talented author I've come to know and love. The story is nicely polished, and though the first in a series, still seemed complete within its own universe.

Audrey Faye's strongest suit has always been in building her characters, and this book is no exception. I especially loved Tameka and Janelle, as I've always adored feisty female characters.

In atmosphere, the book had definite shades of "Crystal Singer" by Anne McCaffrey, which isn't a bad thing at all.

Can't wait to get my hands on the next book in the series!
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Lesbian Assassins 3
Author: Audrey Faye
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 113
Date read: July 2015

Carly and Jane are tough, road-hardened assassins. Or they were.

Now they've got weddings to attend, babies to cuddle, and friends they can't seem to shake. But none of that will shake their confidence as much as their next case...

Just as good as I've come to expect from Audrey Faye, but as always much too short! It's not that I found it rushed, but I'd just like to have seen the ending fleshed out a bit more. I felt we got a nice resolution to both the Accountant and Rhonda, but I'd like to have gotten a bit more closure regarding Judi.

Even so, I've yet to meet a bit of Audrey Faye's writing that I didn't like, and especially the first scene at the wedding did me totally in. Guess I just have to get better at reminding myself that this series is more a series of novellas than of full-length novels.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Lesbian Assassins 2
Author: Audrey Faye
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 176
Date read: June, 2015

Jane and Carly are back -- only now their team has grown to include Rosie and Lelo. Jane worries that involvement with them will trarnish Lelo's innocence. But it is Lelo who finds their newest assignment -- one that will challenge their ingenuity.

The sequel to Lesbian Assassins did not disappoint - in fact, I think I might even have liked it a tiny bit better than the first one, as we now know the characters and the scene has been set. Also, I think I found the ending slightly more realistic than in the first book, which has bumped my rating up the extra half-star.

I love Carly and Jane, Rosie and Lelo, and wish the book had been twice as long, so there had been more page-time to devote to their relationships and secrets. Audrey Faye writes characters so well, and creates people you'd want to meet and befriend in real life.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Lesbian Assassins
Author: Audrey Faye
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 117
Date read: February 2015

"There are lots of people who think these guys can't change, that respect and decency can't be created overnight. They haven't spent three minutes with us in an alleyway."

Meet two women with sharp knives, soft hearts, and a big secret. Oh, and a new recruit they can't seem to dislodge from the back seat.

Carly and Jane travel the roads, helping women in need. This time, someone has asked for their help - but the guy she wants them to take care of isn't scared of their knives. And probably hasn't done anything worth ending up dead for. Yet.

You can't hide talent. And that also goes for this author, writing under a different pen-name in a completely different genre. The wordsmithery is still there, as is the ability to create engaging characters and wacky situations.

I've put off reading "Lesbian Assassins", as I wasn't sure it could live up to my expectations, being so completely different from what I'm used to from this author. Fortunately, my concerns were unfounded, and I ended up reading the book in two quick sittings. It's ridiculously readable, and I quickly fell in love with the characters.

Looking back at it, I did think that perhaps the climax was just a tad too perfect to be entirely realistic, but it didn't bother me too much, so I'm keeping it at four stars.

I really hope Audrey Faye goes ahead and writes a sequel. I'd love to read more about these charming characters, and am certain we haven't even scratched the surface of their secrets yet.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: Sleeping Solo: One Woman's Journey Into Life After Marriage
Author: Audrey Faye
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 51
Date read: September 2014

I don't really feel right rating this book. How can you "grade" somebody's personal experience? Fortunately the goodreads rating system (which I've adopted here too) is based on how much you like a book, and not how good you think it is from a literary standpoint. That helps.

"Sleeping Solo" is Debora Geary's first book under her new pen-name, and does a lot to explain why she had to change pen-names, and why she could no longer remain Debora Geary.

It's a fascinating book about the first 8 months of her life post-divorce, and invites you a look into her journey from a married woman to a single mother.

Personally I am amazed at how quickly she was able to regroup - had I not known the timeline I would have assumed these events took place over a couple of years rather than 8 months - but each person regroups in their own fashion, and while I do believe some ways are healthier than others, it does seem as if Audrey Faye chose the way that was best and healthiest for her.

It's a deeply personal account, that doesn't claim to offer any advice or "truth" for other people in a similar situation, but is simply a writer's way of reacting to a deeply personal and transitional set of circumstances.

I appreciated reading it, and getting to know a bit more about the person behind some of my favourite books.
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Title: The Crimson Petal and the White
Author: Michel Faber
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 2.5/5
# pages: 932
Date read: November, 2012

Meet Sugar, a nineteen-year-old prostitute in Victorian London who yearns for escape to a better life. From the brothel of the terrifying Mrs. Castaway, she begins her ascent through society. Beginning with William Rackham, a perfume magnate whose lust for Sugar soon begins to smell like love, she meets a host of lovable, maddening, unforgettable characters as her social rise is overseen by assorted preening socialites, drunken journalists, untrustworthy servants, vile guttersnipes, and whores of all kinds.

First a disclaimer: I use the Goodreads definition of the stars, where 2 stars means "It was ok". I.e. this is not a bad rating! It's an average rating.

Because honestly, I thought it was an average book. It was pretty well written, but it was so LONG! And not good enough to justify 900+ pages. The story could easily have been told in half that space. The plot was interesting enough, although I did sometimes wonder where on earth Michel Faber was going with this... which turned out to be a reasonable worry, because the answer was "Nowhere."

Had it had a better ending, I would probably have given it a rating of 3 - maybe even 3.5. But it hadn't, so I didn't. Instead I turned the last page thinking, "That was it?!?!?! What a cop-out!"

I wanted to know what happened next! I wanted the happy ending we got cheated out of. It's a pathetic book indeed when the characters are happier 200 pages from the end that they are at the end - and not a type of pathetic I do well with.

So average. Not a book I'm likely to reread, but one I'm glad to be able to cross off my to-read list and say "The Crimson Petal and the White"? Sure, I've read that!" :)
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Title: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
Author: Anne Fadiman
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: 2.5/5
# pages: 288
Date read: February, 2011

When three-month-old Lia Lee arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run 'Quiet War' in Laos.

Parents and doctors both wanted the best for Lia, but their ideas about the causes of her illness and its treatment could hardly have been more different. The Hmong see illness and healing as spiritual matters linked to virtually everything in the universe, while the medical community marks a division between body and soul, and concerns itself almost exclusively with the former.

I do feel a bit bad giving the book such a low rating, but am afraid that to me it was just 'OK'. I can easily see its appeal if you're interested in medicine or the Hmong culture, or want to read up on the consequences of cultural clashes and possible ways to circumvent that. But as neither of those were the case for me, what remained was a long and dry book that was vaguely interesting at times, and rather boring and hard to get through at others. I forced myself to finish it, as it seemed like one of those books you "ought" to read, but at 288 pages, it took me almost a month to get through.

I had it recommended to me because I enjoyed "Ex-Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader" also by Anne Fadiman, but after reading it, I have to admit that I don't understand the recommendation. The only things the two books have in common are that they were written by the same author and they're both non-fiction. Otherwise they're as different as they could be. And unfortunately - based solely on its literary merit - this one is by far the inferior.
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Title: Cathedral of the Sea
Author: Ildefonso Falcones
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 607
Date read: December, 2010

Arnau Estanyol arrives in Barcelona and joins the powerful guild of stone-workers building the magnificent cathedral of Santa Maria del Mar, while his adoptive brother Joan studies to become a priest. As Arnau prospers, he secretly falls in love with a forbidden woman. When he is betrayed and hauled before the Inquisitor, he finds himself face-to-face with his own brother. Will he lose his life just as his beloved cathedral is finally completed, or will his brother spare him?

A difficult read, as books set in that time tend to be. It always infuriates me to read how nobels treated peasants, how rich treated poor, how Christians treeated Jews, and how the inquisition acted in general.

But leaving aside my natural distaste for those elements, "Cathedral of the Sea" is a brilliant book that gives a fascinating insight into the life and the times of a man in Barcelona in the 14th century. I loved reading about Joan and Armau's childhood and their fascination with the church of Santa Maria. I did feel Joan's developement wasn't sufficiently explained though.

Life handed Armau a tough hand, and it got a bit frustrating to read how one bad thing after another happened to him, but I enjoyed seeing how he made the most of thing, and kept bouncing back up with the help of kind onlookers.

It is by no means a cozy book, but has its comforting moments - I loved seeing Armau's family and friends rallying around him!
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Title: Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader
Author: Anne Fadiman
Genre: Essay, non-fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 162
Date read: July, 2010

Over the course of 18 charming essays Fadiman ranges from the "odd shelf" ("a small, mysterious corpus of volumes whose subject matter is completely unrelated to the rest of the library, yet which, upon closer inspection reveals a good deal about its owner") to plagiarism ("the more I've read about plagiarism, the more I've come to think that literature is one big recycling bin") to the pleasures of reading aloud ("When you read silently, only the writer performs. When you read aloud, the performance is collaborative"). Fadiman delivers these essays with the expectation that her readers will love and appreciate good books and the power of language as much as she does.

I love books about books, so when a friend recommended this as one of the best of the genre, I knew I had to pick it up. And it didn't disappoint.

Ex Libris is a charming essay collection all about books, reading and the love of both. As something of a bibliophile myself, I could very easily relate to Anne Fadiman's experiences, and was delighted to see some of my own thoughts echoed in her writing.
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Title: Dark Life
Author: Kat Falls
Genre: Dystopian, YA
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 298
Date read: May, 2010

The oceans rose, swallowing up the lowlands. Earthquakes shattered the continents, toppling entire regions into the rising water. Now, humans live packed into stack cities. The only ones with any space of their own are those who live on the ocean floor, the Dark Life.

Ty has spent his whole life living deep undersea, helping his family farm the ocean floor. But when outlaws attack his homestead, Ty finds himself in a fight to save the only home he has ever known. Joined by Gemma, a girl from the Topside who has come subsea to look for her brother, Ty ventures into the frontiers rough underworld and discovers some dark secrets to Dark Life...secrets that threaten to destroy everything.

Yet another book that proves to me that dystopian novels definitely very much are my thing! Dark Life had the added bonus of combining the dystopian genre with the pioneer genre (think "Little House"), which I also really enjoy, resulting in a YA novel that's right up my aisle. The differences between the lives of Topsiders and Dark Life were fascinating, and though despicable, the actions of the Government seemed only too likely in a semi-emergency as the one they found themselves in.

Honestly, the plot itself was nothing out of the ordinary, but all the unusual descriptions of every-day lives made the book a very interesting read regardless.
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Title: Mr. Allbones' Ferrets
Author: Fiona Farrell
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 215
Date read: August, 2009

A chance encounter one night introduces our hero, Walter Allbones, to the beautiful Eugenia and her grandfather, Pitford, a natural scientist and collector of rare birds. Allbones is a ferret whisperer, so to speak, and Pitford recruits him to collect a bunch of ferrets for export.

Within months of their meeting, the three embark upon a perilous voyage that will produce most dramatic and unexpected results.

Very different from what I had expected. The story of how ferrets were introduced to New Zealand fauna, the writing style and genre reminded me a lot more of the emigration novels written at the turn of the last century than anything recent.

I was a bit hesitant about the story to begin with, but have to admit it grew on me. I really liked Walter Allbones, and wanted to learn more about him. The other characters were nothing special though - not very well fleshed out at all, and stereotypes were abundant.

A quick and pleasant enough read, but probably not a book that will stay with me for very long.


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