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review 2019-01-03 03:36
Vespertine
Vespertine - Indra Vaughn,Leta Blake

This just didn't work for me. Seventeen years pass between the MCs breaking up and meeting up again. That's just too long for anyone to still be hung up on a first love, especially when I couldn't even imagine why they'd be friends in the first place. Nicky's kind of got an excuse, since he's supposed to be emotionally-stunted from his years of drug use. I'm not sure what Jasper's excuse is, but he reverts back to a teenager as soon as Nicky's around. He doesn't have a concrete personality, just "revelations" as required for the plot.

 

I didn't buy the connection between the MCs. Zero chemistry - for me. I'm clearly the odd one out on this one, since everyone else seems to love it. I wanted to like it, and most of it I did like, but there was always something off. If it wasn't the painfully horrible song lyrics, it was the ham-fisted way that Jasper's conflict of religion was handled. If it wasn't the stereotypical portrayal of the rock star life and the evil record company big wigs, it was the overly contrived situations the authors kept putting the characters in to manufacture UST that fell flat on its face. Then because the authors made the reader wait so long for the smexy, a bunch of sex gets crammed into the end, by which point I was beyond caring. Then the authors threw in an absolutely ridiculous plot "twist" that annoyed me so much I had to skim most of the after-school special melodrama, which was as cliched and predictable as you would expect, just to not have my first read of 2019 end up a DNF.

 

Actually, that was a big issue from the beginning of the book. Because this is a Romance(™) so there has to be an HEA or at least an HFN, and for that to happen, there's no way Jasper was ending this book still a priest. It was pretty easy to see how that resolution was being set up. That wouldn't be an issue, necessarily, but I could never buy into Jasper's existential crisis. It came across shallow. A little less clear was Nicky's ending, but you knew something dramatic would happen to make his situation with his record company better.

 

And that was another problem. There was just so much drama. While this did start out promising, it quickly nose-dived into Dramaville around 70% and never quite climbed it's way back out again. The drama llamas were stampeding and they weren't letting our characters out of this book without massive amounts of MELODRAMA.

 

Melodramatic yelling at your long-lost love.
Melodramatic song lyrics.
Melodramatic praying in the shower.
Melodramatic swimming.
Melodramatic running away down the road whilst halfway tearing off your clothes. Yes, that deserved a "whilst."
Melodramatic phone tossing - because you can't have melodramatic ANGST if the characters can contact each other too easily. (Did he ever get a new phone?)
Melodramatic crying.

 

So.

 

Much.

 

Crying.

 

I didn't feel any of these emotions were genuine, nor did I feel any real attachment to the characters. Basically, I had attachment disorder with this book. :D

 

I didn't hate all of it. I liked all the stuff with the teens in Blue Oasis. I liked Thomas and Mrs. Wells, and Nicky's parents and Ramona. The cat was hilarious. Nicky even had his moments when he wasn't being an ass or annoying. Jasper was mostly lost potential though, sadly.

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review 2018-12-21 20:49
Love Can't Conquer (Love Can't #1)
Love Can't Conquer - Kim Fielding

Older MCs (in their mid-to-late 40s), each with baggage and hard pasts, each from the same small podunk town, meet again after a lifetime of disappointments and hardships. This is unlike anything I've read before by Kim Fielding. The tone is more grounded, the characters are mature and facing their lives and mistakes. It's still a fast moving romance if you look at the timeline, but there's so much weight to these characters and their scenes together that it feels more than a sufficient time for it to feel more like a slow burn than insta-love.

 

Jeremy is a park ranger in Portland, OR, and has an alcoholic ex whose bad decisions are about to crash into Jeremy's life. Qay is a recovering addict who spent years homeless and in mental hospitals, and is now working in a factory and going to college part-time. Qay recognizes Jeremy immediately from their long-ago childhood, though they were never friends. Now, the two men forge a friendship together. But love doesn't fix their problems. Jeremy's life is still in upheaval because of his ex, and Qay still has to fight his urges to give into his addiction and still has panic attacks.

 

Jeremy tries to see the good in everyone and to do good to all he meets, and Qay has been alone for the majority of his life, seeing the worst sides of life. There are several reasons for them to stay away from each other, but just as many to give each other a chance. As with most of Fielding's stories, this is a quiet story filled with compassionate and flawed characters. The supporting cast is great, and the setting is used to full effect. There are no easy answers for the MCs, and they stumble more than once. 

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review 2018-12-18 20:59
Bundled Up (Portland Heat #1-3)
Bundled Up (Portland Heat) - Annabeth Albert

This was disappointing. I really liked Albert's #gaymers series and was hoping this would be more of the same, but alas it was not. This contains the first three novellas of the Portland Heat series, and each one is just not up to snuff. They're rather superficial, actually, with each couple falling into lust with each other and that eventually leads to love after lots and lot and lots of redundant sex scenes. Usually, I'll at least skim the sex scenes if they're spread out enough, but there were too many even for that and I just started skipped them all. What was left was pretty standard fare, but with MCs that were terrible at communication. At least it took them longer than the standard 30 days to say the ILUs and move in together, a timeline that's painfully common in romance these days, so there's that. All stories are 1st-person POV with only one MC getting the POV per story, and all their voices sounded the same.

 

Served Hot - 2 stars

 

Robby has his own coffee cart in the business district and has the hots for one of the white-collars who comes to his cart every day. David is a finance director despite being rather young for the position, and he's on the nerdy side. David's getting over a relationship that ended when his lover died, and Robby is the insecure pushy needy emo-dude that he gets stuck with. Yeah, I wasn't feeling this couple at all.

 

Baked Fresh - 3 stars

 

Vic is a baker whose addiction to food - and his male relatives' young deaths from heart disease - led him to getting a laparoscopic band surgically placed around his stomach. Robin is a trust-fund baby who's a recovering drug addict and volunteers at a homeless shelter to atone for his past misdeeds while high. He also has a series of sexual hangups that of course can be cured only by lots and lots of sex. *sigh* Counseling is a thing, you know? I did not at all like Vic calling Robin "boy" during sex - brain bleach please! - or the mildly quasi-D/s dynamic their sexual relationship had, but I did like the relationship outside the bedroom, especially once they started talking to and supporting each other. These two actually did the most talking and connecting of these three couples. I could believe they'd actually have a future together.

 

Delivered Fast - 2.5 stars

 

Oh, it was fast all right. Lance, a younger cousin of Vic, is going to college to be a physical therapist and working part-time making deliveries for bakery where Vic works. Chris - whose name isn't mentioned until more than halfway through the book - co-owns a coffee shop with his ex. Chris is really old, y'all. He's mid-30s! *gasp* and so of course the age gap becomes an issue, and Chris is an immature dweeb about it. Lance is just barely given any depth, most of it in the last half of the novella. I skimmed a lot of the set-up with this one, because I was bored with the "guy-sees-guy, guys-boink-a-lot-of-times, and eventually start acting like a couple" formula. The blurb promises clever double entendres - I don't think the blurb writer knows what those are. And how do you not hear someone riding up on a motorcycle? That scene made no sense. Well, a lot of scenes don't make much sense in this series so far, but that one took the cake. I also wasn't feeling this couple, though this one ended stronger than it started.

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text 2018-10-04 04:36
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review 2018-09-29 02:16
Not the same, I promise
The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath - Leslie Jamison

The Recovering: Intoxication and its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison at first glance is remarkably similar to my last post and in retrospect I probably shouldn't have read them back-to-back. (If for no other reason, than my own mental health.) In my defense, my library holds always seem to come all at once so this was just coincidental. This book. however, is more memoir than anything else…although I'd also lump it into the literary commentary category. The author takes an almost journalistic look at addiction and recovery. While Jamison does discuss the 12 Steps, she emphasizes that most need more than the 12 Steps which promotes complete abstinence in order to recover. Medication and counseling in combination with a recovery program that advises group meetings is essential to long-term sobriety. She talks in-depth about her own recovery journey and how it doesn't always end neatly with full sobriety or even one linear line to sobriety as relapses will and do occur. The first part, in truth, focuses quite heavily on "drunk writers" using alcohol as a creative crutch and how Jamison herself felt that without booze she would not be interesting enough or creative enough to write. Along with that was her preoccupation with love helped along by an addict's natural self-centeredness. It is this inflated self-centered attitude which Jamison believes is the fuel for an addict. The addiction narrative is unchanging and that's the point. It doesn't need to be new and interesting (not necessary or even possible really) because it's the sharing with others that makes all the difference when all anyone wants is to not feel alone. Maybe because I read this on the heels of Russell's book or maybe because it didn't necessarily reveal anything new to me but this was only an okay book in my opinion. If this was the very first book someone had read on this subject then I believe it would be deemed excellent but for anyone who has read extensively in this vein it didn't really cover any new ground. 5/10


That isn't to say there weren't some interesting quotes. Here are two that jumped out at me:

 

Most addicts don't live in barren white cages - though some do once they've been incarcerated - but many live in worlds defined by stress of all kinds, financial and social and structural: the burdens of institutional racism and economic inequality, the absence of a living wage. - pg 154

Most addicts describe drinking or using as filling a lack…you drunk to fill the lack, but the drinking only deepens it. - pg 155

What's Up Next: Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies by Alastair Bonnett

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Star Trek: Destiny #3: Lost Souls by David Mack

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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