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Familiar Diversions

I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.

Currently reading

Space Battle Lunchtime Volume 1: Lights, Camera, Snacktion!
Natalie Reiss
Progress: 20/120 pages
Fluency
Jennifer Foehner Wells
Progress: 58/367 pages
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet: A Novel
Becky Chambers
Progress: 148/441 pages
The Count of Monte Cristo
Alexandre Dumas, Bill Homewood, Naxos AudioBooks
Progress: 667/3165 minutes
A Matter of Oaths
Helen S. Wright
Progress: 101/277 pages
Report on the Selected Problems of the Technical Departments of the University of Illinois Library
Raynard C. Swank
Progress: 20/42 pages
Medical School for Everyone: Grand Rounds Cases
Professor Roy Benaroch, The Great Courses, The Great Courses
Progress: 34/725 minutes
The Iron Duke -  Meljean Brook (Throughout most of the book, Mina referred to Rhys as Trahaearn. The bits from Rhys's perspective referred to him as Rhys, and Trahaearn is awkward to type, so I have chosen to call him Rhys in this review.)This book confused me too much for me to say that I loved it without reservations, but I did enjoy the heck out of it and plan to read everything else Brook has written that's set in this world and to at least try Brook's Guardians series.For some reason I had gotten it into my head that this was a YA series (I think I was confusing it with Cassandra Clare's books), although I quickly figured out that wasn't the case. That bit of confusion was my own fault, but it wasn't the last time this book confused me. I spent a good deal of time wondering how people could tell that Mina and others were part Horde – if an explanation was given, I must have missed it. Also, I was never clear on whether the Horde was human or alien. The way they treated the English made me think they were aliens of some sort, because it was hard for me to imagine that humans would do such things to other humans, but then, after finishing the book, I read Janine's review over at Dear Author, which indicates that the Horde was composed of humans from some country in Asia.My confusion should have resulted in a dislike of the book, but the characters and fascinating world carried me forward. From comments I've read, I gather that some people really disliked Rhys. I wasn't sure how I felt about him at first, but gradually he and Mina started to remind me a lot of J.D. Robb's Roarke and Eve. Like Eve, Mina was devoted to her job (although Mina's greatest devotion was to her family, an option Eve didn't have). She was attracted to Rhys, but was at the same time a bit frightened of him. Mina seemed to me to be slightly more fragile and damaged than Eve, while Rhys was a bit like what I imagine Roarke must have been like when he was younger, harder, and less polished.The world The Iron Duke is set in is interesting, rich, and, at times, horrifying. When England was under Horde control, the Horde really did control everything. People couldn't feel emotions unless the Horde let them feel those emotions, and the Horde sometimes made people feel things they didn't really feel. For instance, Mina was conceived during a Frenzy – the Horde made Mina's mother and others feel lust so great that they had sex with anyone in the immediate area. How bad this was depends on how true some of the rumors are, but it's indicated in the book that some people in the grip of a Frenzy might have had sex with close relatives or even animals. Mina's mother was so horrified by what the Frenzy had made her do that she gouged her own eyes out when she was first presented with infant Mina. Mina herself only went through one Frenzy before the Horde was overthrown, but it was enough to scar her emotionally where sex was concerned.I loved the progression of Mina's relationship with Rhys, although there was one instance where I worried that Brook was going to go places I didn't really want to go (she didn't – yay! - but I was so horrified at the thought of what I might be about to read that I had to take a break from the book to prepare myself). Mina and Rhys's first attempt at sex did not go well at all. They were drunk, and both of them had been damaged, in different ways, during Horde rule. I liked that once Rhys realized he had done something horrible to the first person he ever felt attracted to, he accepted what he'd done and whatever Mina might choose to do in return. Rhys could be overbearing at times, but, when he did something to truly upset Mina, he didn't try to make up excuses or pretend it hadn't happened.The book started off with a bit of mystery – who was killed, and why was he left on the Iron Duke's doorstep? - and quickly became an action-filled adventure, a race to save Mina's younger brother as well as all the buggers living in England. The book felt very fast-paced to me, but some of that feeling might have come from the amount of stuff crammed into the story. To give you an idea, I made a list:- kraken- amazing prosthetics (and people with bodies that make accidental prosthetics a horrifying possibility – there's a story about a woman and a candlestick that will likely make most female readers shudder)- airships- zombies- the Blacksmith and his skill with mechanical flesh- modified animals, like ratcatchers (a bit like feral cats, only larger and metal-plated) and sharks (also fortified with metal) - amazingly, these modifications have now become part of the animals' geneticsAnd that list doesn't even include everything. I suppose it should/could have been overwhelming, but instead I was left with a feeling of excitement. There's so much that Brook could explore in other books and stories – I can't wait to read more works set in this world. It doesn't even matter to me that, from what I've read, Mina and Rhys aren't the main characters in any of Brook's other works. While I liked them and wouldn't mind reading more about them (I'd love to see how Rhys adjusts to Mina's family), I'm perfectly willing to see what Brook does with her other characters.My plan is to read Brook's story in Wild & Steamy next. One, it'll be the easiest and quickest one for me to get, and, two, it stars Newberry, a fairly minor character in The Iron Duke, who nonetheless interested me. The next full-length book in the series, which isn't out yet [when I originally wrote this review], is going to star Yasmeen and Fox. I'm crossing my fingers that there will be a future book/short story starring one of the Horde (read the Dear Author review comments to see where I got that idea from), and I'd love something starring Scarsdale (if Berkley Sensation won't take a book or story starring a gay man, maybe it could be self-published, like Wild & Steamy?).(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)