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Search tags: 3-5-stars
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review 2017-02-20 23:56
Long Shadows
Long Shadows (Common Law Book 1) - Kate Sherwood

After finishing this book this morning and thinking it over for most of the day, I'm going to give this 3 "I liked it but..." stars. I think my opinion of this book is going to depend on where exactly Ms. Sherwood takes this series and these characters from here, as there is a lot left unresolved, so it's difficult to judge it on its own merits.

 

The "mystery," such as it was, was written pretty decently and was wrapped up in this book, so unlike my original impression of this so-called serial (these books are really too  long to call this a serial) where I assumed it was going to be one mystery extended over all four books, but it's actually a different case in each book. Ok, I guess Eli's murder might be the over-arching mystery, but again, I'll have to see how the rest of this series unfolds. Considering how little Jericho seemed to care about that, I can't see it carrying the weight of a four-book series. 

 

This book is fast-paced and the action is pretty well-written, and it doesn't keep you waiting to find out who is behind everything. Or rather, it doesn't keep the characters waiting the entire book to figure it what you figured out in the second chapter.

 

The writing in the establishing chapters that set up the premise and gives you most of the background on Jericho and the town is a bit clunky and info-dump-y. There's this bizarre scene where he's pulled into an interrogation room for absolutely no plausible reason right after he gets into town. It was head-scratch inducing, and the DEA agents are unreasonably hostile. There's some good humor here though, since Jericho is something of a wiseass. 

 

I liked Jericho well enough despite his at-times confusing motives, and so far he hasn't crossed into unprofessional-professional territory with Wade, who was Jericho's teen love and now the town's main crook. Kayla seems nice and everything but we don't really get to see much of her. She's a tough sheriff but doesn't mind bending a few "minor" laws here and there. Wade is... well... a crook and it's questionable at this point just how cold-hearted or ruthless he is or isn't, though his criminal activity doesn't leave much wiggle room for me to form a good opinion of him. Nikki is a complicated character and I'm not sure what to make of her or her kids at this point either. 

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review 2017-02-17 23:39
Pressure Head
Pressure Head - J.L. Merrow

It took me awhile to get into this one because the snipping-at-each-other form of enemies to lovers is just not that entertaining to me. I also couldn't understand why Tom was allowing Phil to drag him along on his investigation, when he really shouldn't be giving him the time of day. Also, Tom has a day job he was constantly neglecting and Phil wasn't pay him. Though to his credit, Phil did make an attempt.

 

Here's the deal: Phil had bullied Tom back in high school, which resulted in an accident that permanently injured Tom and altered his life in significant ways. Even if that was 13 years ago, I just don't get the "fancying the guy who bullied you" trope, and Phil kind of quasi-stalking Tom didn't help. Nor do I get Tom just going along with Phil's demands for help before anything was really resolved between them. Thankfully, things do eventually get resolved and in satisfying enough ways to make me forgive the slow, awkward, weird start.

 

The mystery was well done and there was no obvious villain, though I do admit I wasn't paying as much attention to the details and clues as I usually do since I was getting hung up on trying to figure out Tom. Still, there were enough red herrings and everyone had possible motives, so it wasn't easy to pick any one character out as the whodunit. 

 

Gary and Darren were the standouts here. They're only side characters, but they steal the show every time they're on page, and they're a hoot and a half. Then there are Merlin and Arthur, Tom's cats, who are very catty and fluffy. :D And even though there were a lot of Britishisms, there was only one I couldn't figure out. The humor is very dry though, so might not be to everyone's taste.

 

 

Actually, that's a good way to sum up Tom and Phil, innit?

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review 2017-02-17 02:29
Crazy Like a Foxe
Crazy Like A Foxe (Skyler Foxe Mysteries Book 6) - Haley Walsh

Maybe I wasn't quite in the right mood for this one after all, or maybe Skyler was being too OTT and TSTL for my tolerance levels. Skyler's always been reckless but this is the first time I remember fearing for the future since, as a teacher, he's responsible for molding young minds. He really should not be responsible for teenagers. :P

 

Summer's coming to a close and Skyler's summer job at the local museum is coming to its end as well. Everything's hunky dory until valuable items start going missing. A mysterious death soon follows, and Skyler's on the case (and frankly, I thought it took him too long to cotton on to what was going on, at least in one respect). There's also Keith's old boyfriend back in town, and the ex is up to no good. On top of all that, Skyler's still trying to wrap his head around his parents getting back together, and his various trust issues with his father.

 

Actually those same trust issues could explain a lot about Skyler's behavior in general - why he's such a control freak and needs to know everything NOW instead of when people are ready to tell him, and why he always assumes the worst case scenarios. That doesn't explain the various members of the SFC going along with his harebrained antics, especially when it involves

breaking into a storage facility and busting their way into a storage locker. If I were Sydney, I'd let them all sit in the tank for a night instead of finding ways to get them off the hook all the time. That's not even mentioning hacking into Keith's phone, which is a far worse offense on a personal level.

(spoiler show)

But then they wouldn't be the SFC we know and love if they didn't 100% support Skyler. At least Phillip has some sense.

 

We don't spend as much time with the kids in this book as in previous ones, and there's a lot of focus on the football team when we do, due to Keith signing up a girl to play on the team, and not as a kicker. We also get to learn a bit more about Keith's background, which leads to some in depth discussions about where Skyler and Keith envision their relationship going.

 

Joel Leslie usually does a decent job on the various accents, but in this book we meet a female football player name Eleigh (sp?). The first time she spoke, based on the accent Leslie was using, I figured she'd be Australian. Nope. Turns out she's Samoan, and I don't think she grew up in Australia. That's just the complete wrong accent to use. I've lived around Samoans my whole life and never once heard any of them use any accent even close to Australian. Just...WTF was that? It was terrible and it grated more and more each time she spoke. Everyone else, he does well and Joel and Rodolfo have always been my standout favorite characters that he voices. They all continue to shine here. 

 

This was still funny and fun, and hopefully some of the growth we see in Skyler in this book will stick.

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review 2017-01-22 04:07
Semper Fi
Semper Fi - Keira Andrews

4.5 stars for the war flashbacks; 3 stars for the post-war scenes

3.75 stars final rating, rounded up

 

I liked the flashbacks that started out each chapter, going back to boot camp and the various fights and shore leaves they had during the war. We meet some secondary characters that they fought with and get to see how Cal and Jim became inseparable during WWII. The flashbacks steadily grew in tension as the war progressed and they got closer to Okinawa. There was a great sense of place in them, and maybe it's just all the rain we're currently getting here in SoCal, but I felt like I was drenched right along with these guys as they suffered one monsoon season after another. They weren't too graphic, but the second to last one is the most detailed in the war horrors they faced. 

 

It's a good thing those scenes are there, because once we get to the "present" day timeline of 1948, it becomes a pretty commonplace romance. Cal secretly pines for Jim, believing Jim can never feel the same. Jim slowly comes to realize just what all these feelings he has for Cal really means, and he struggles to accept them. But there was just too much pointless sex after awhile. Which is a shame because some of those sex scenes early on were actually pretty hot, but then they just got predictable and boring, at least for me. 

 

This wasn't a gay-okay rewrite of history. They have to discuss how to keep things a secret, as homosexuality was illegal back then, and discuss living arrangements. They go through some struggles that were believable for the times. Though... for guys trying to keep things on the downlow, they choose some questionable places to have sex. Honestly, they act more like hormonal teens than grown men at times.

 

Jim's kids were mostly great. Adam's just a tike and doesn't do much. Sophie's more of a focus and is the main obstacle Cal has to overcome when he first arrives on Jim's orchard. She was written pretty well, but there were a couple of times where I couldn't really believe her dialogue as being that of an eight-year old. The sentiment behind the words was fine, but the way she expressed herself sometimes felt a little too old for her.

 

There's also a little "mystery" about Jim's wife and her death. It was interesting, and not really all that hard to figure out. It's a common enough story for soldiers returning after years away at war.

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review 2017-01-14 01:55
Neverwhere
Neverwhere (Audio) - Neil Gaiman

This was cute and imaginative, and reminded me a lot of Stardust, at least in the general outline of the plot: boy gets sucked into magical otherworld, finds a mystical girl, and they go on an adventure together. There are many differences of course, since Richard never meant to go into a magical otherworld, and Door isn't a fallen star. But you still have the human man learning to adapt and the mystical girl being all blase about everything. The pacing is tighter here and the conclusion definitely much better, in the optimistic sense, than in Stardust.

 

I did like that Richard was so clearly out of his depth that bringing him along was actually a bad tactic for Door and Hunter. It's not often that the man plays the role of the tagalong and damsel in distress, and the women play the role of protector and educator, so that reversal was neat. Richard wasn't completely useless either, and ended up being just as important to their mission as Door and Hunter were. There were also echoes of Crowley and Aziraphale from Good Omens in Mr. Vandemar and Mr. Coup, though not as fun as the former.

 

I really enjoyed this, but for whatever reason it didn't quite grab me like his other works that I've read. But hey, I still got to listen to Neil Gaiman's sultry, silky smooth voice for 12.5 hours, and that's always a good thing. :D

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