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review 2018-06-14 04:24
Team Phison by Chace Verity
Team Phison - Chace Verity

Phil is a grumpy restaurant owner who spends his free time playing first-person shooters and going on unsuccessful dates. He's playing his newest favorite FPS one night when he meets an enthusiastic newbie player, BisonFalls, and agrees to give him a few tips. He figures that's the end of it, but then Bison sends him a friend request and the two men eventually start talking about more personal stuff. It turns out that Bison's real name is Tyson, he's bisexual, and he's currently single. Phil finds himself arranging time to play with Tyson, texting him, calling him, and just generally thinking about him a lot. But the guy's just a gaming buddy. A young gaming buddy, 28 to Phil's 55. Surely there's no way he'd ever be interested in someone like Phil.

This was pretty sweet. For the most part, Phil and Tyson's romance was light and fluffy. The main things keeping them apart were distance and Phil's own doubts about his attractiveness to Tyson and worries about the difference between their ages. 

Tyson was like a friendly Golden Retriever in human form. Phil had a tendency to jump to conclusions and be a bit judgmental, but he was willing to listen, reevaluate his ideas, and apologize if necessary. Watching Tyson slowly turn Phil into putty was adorable, and I loved the encouragement Phil got from his friends and staff (even as I raised an eyebrow a bit at the hypocrisy of Phil texting Tyson during work hours while telling his staff they shouldn't be on their phones at work).

As I believe I've mentioned in the past, I'm not generally a fan of first-person present tense. It mostly worked okay here, other than a few moments that gave me fan fic vibes. And the sex scenes - first-person present tense sex scenes are weird.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2017-08-06 04:22
Visual novel review - Animal Lover


Warning: this game includes a death, references to suicide, and references to homophobic bullying.

Animal Lover is a visual novel created by Trainwreck Studios. It's primarily fantasy with some romance aspects later on. There's no sex, not even fade-to-black, implied, or text-only - the romance is limited to a date and an on-screen kiss or two. I considered this a plus. If you're particularly interested in games with LGBT aspects, one of the romanceable guys is revealed to probably be bisexual later on in the game (I say "probably" because the word is never used, but he does talk about a past relationship with another guy).

Now for the summary: You play as Lucy (the default character name, which you can change), an intern at a veterinary clinic. Lucy loves animals and is immediately charmed by the hamster a little girl brings into the clinic. Because it reminds her so much of the hamster she used to have, Lucy briefly forgets herself and gives him a little kiss before putting him back in his cage. Shockingly, the little hamster then transforms into a human being. A good-looking and very naked young man.

The hamster’s owners run out in horror, leaving Lucy to figure out what to do with the guy, whose name turns out to be Edmund. Edmund used to be a prince until he was transformed into a hamster (or something very like one) hundreds of years ago. Since then, he has repeatedly lived and died as a hamster, with no end in sight. Until now. Lucy agrees to help him find and free another human-turned-animal, eventually resulting in her having to clothe, feed, and house five good-looking guys from a variety of time periods. Not only that, but it looks like her kisses don’t have a permanent effect: a random guy keeps transforming back into an animal each time the sun sets. They need to figure out a way to undo the curse for good. Especially before Charlie, whose animal form was a bear, transforms.

I’d seen this game on Steam a bunch of times but kept passing on it because the art style didn’t appeal to me. Then, during a sale, I read a few reviews written by people who said they had also disliked the art style and still ended up liking the game, so I decided to take a chance on it.

I’ll start off by saying that it takes a long time for this game to get going. My first full play through, the only one where I read all of the text, took somewhere between 5 and 5.5 hours. I didn’t keep track, but I think it might have taken an hour and a half for all the guys to be introduced and remember how they’d been cursed, at least half the game before they made some headway on figuring out what to do about it, and two thirds before romance really entered the picture. While I was a little frustrated with how long it took for all the main characters to join the story, the rest didn’t bother me quite as much because I enjoyed the characters’ conversations and banter. Your mileage may vary.

Gameplay is simple - this isn’t a stat raising visual novel. There are a variety of decision points where you have to choose between different dialogue options or actions, and that’s it. You’re not technically locked into a particular guy’s route until you decide which one you’d like to spend an afternoon (day?) with approximately two thirds of the way through the game, although certain responses earlier on will affect when one particular thing happens and, in the case of one character, whether you can get his “good” ending.

Lucy has five romantic options: Edmund, who used to be a prince several hundred years ago and was transformed into a hamster; Frankie, a car mechanic from the 1950s who was transformed into a cat; Kyle, an anarchist punk rocker from the 1980s (if I remember right) who was transformed into a ferret; Miguel, a football player from the 1990s (again, not sure if I’m remembering this right) who was transformed into a dog; and Charlie, who was only transformed into a bear a year ago and who owns a website designed to help indie bands/musicians sell their music.

During my first playthrough, I focused on Miguel and Charlie and decided to have Lucy go out with Charlie when I was finally asked to make a decision. And that’s when the game became more than just lots of laid back conversations and funny moments and really hooked me. I mean, I enjoyed the humor, I enjoyed Lucy’s strong personality, and I liked most of the guys, but for a while there I was sure my final verdict was going to be that this was simply an okay visual novel.

I had thought that the guys’ explanations about how and why they’d been transformed sounded pretty weak, but I hadn’t realized how much they’d been holding back until Charlie told me the full truth about his transformation. Then the

“Last Living Punk Rocker” chapter happened, and it was like a gut punch. I wanted to go back, choose Kyle, and fix everything. (FYI: there’s no way to make that chapter not happen. Sorry. But things can get better, depending on your past and future choices. I promise.)

(spoiler show)

There are essentially seven endings: one “good” ending for each of the guys, one “I don’t forgive you” ending where Lucy ends up single, and one “you can’t be serious, where’s the ‘good’ ending?” ending for


(spoiler show)

. Although it’s fairly obvious that the “Lucy ends up single” ending isn’t the way you’re supposed to want things to go, I appreciated that Lucy had clearly started to move on with her life and wasn’t a wreck, and that the guys had accepted her choice. It didn’t feel like a “bad” ending, aside from the whole thing with Kyle (which is present in four of the five “good” endings, anyway).

I’ve only managed to get three of the five guys (Charlie, Frankie, and Kyle) to tell me the full truth about why they were transformed, although I imagine it’s possible to get all of them to talk to you depending on your choices. It bugged me a little that, in order for any of the romances to work out, Lucy had to decide in an instant whether she forgave the guy for what he’d done or didn’t. A day of processing time would have been nice. That said, I liked that each of the “I forgive” dialogues explicitly recognized that the guys had done something bad, something that counted as a potential relationship red flag. Those “I forgive” moments were also a lot better if the guys had admitted what they’d done earlier on, rather than waiting for their secret to forcibly be revealed later. As much as I liked and felt for Miguel, for example, it irked me that I had to hear the full truth from someone else. I’ll probably do another playthrough with an eye towards getting him to tell me what he’d done.

All in all, this packed more of a punch than I expected it would. Parts with


(spoiler show)

flat out made me cry - I became way more invested in him than I expected I would. And I’ll probably be thinking about the game’s “forgiveness” aspect for quite some time, even though it didn’t 100% work for me.

Additional Comments:

  • If you want to use an actual "Save" slot and not the "Quick" of "Auto" save slots, you need to right-click on the screen to do that - the Save button just does "Quick" saves.
  • There's no art gallery. Although the artwork didn't appeal to me at first, it eventually grew on me, so this bugged me. I'd have liked to save a few scenes. My favorites: Kyle's first appearance, Kyle's kissing scene, and Miguel's kissing scene (wow, that height difference).


Rating Note:


For a large portion of my first playthrough, I thought I'd be giving this 3.5 stars. There were spots where I got really impatient and just wanted things to move along - the first half of the story really could have used some tightening up. However, this is one of those visual novels that actually seemed to improve with each playthrough (keeping in mind that I made liberal use of the "skip read text" button). I could see myself rereading the full thing (aiming for the "canon" ending) sometime in the future.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)


I'll end this with one of my favorite spoiler-free screenshots. Kyle is the cutest and wildest little ferret.


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review 2014-01-16 12:09
[REVIEW] Surprises (The Administration, #2.4) by Manna Francis

Surprises (The Administration, #2.4)Surprises by Manna Francis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Recommended for: those who enjoys slow-burn romances
Read from January 01 to 16, 2014 — I own a copy, read count: 1

After six hours of foreplay with an interrupted fuck and minutes of adolescent groping, both Toreth and Warrick has finally moved their relationship from occasional fuck-buddy to something a little more solid. Although the hypocritical bad boy Toreth is still far from settling down with a singular person, at least now with Warrick's careful calculated nudges, they are heading towards a true relationship.

I love how Warrick's casual words could make Toreth all fired up...


Toreth:  "How do you feel about mayonnaise?"

Warrick:  "Absolutely not. I am not spending the rest of the evening smelling of egg."

Toreth:  "You can always have a wash."

Warrick:  "True, but that removes half the attraction of the idea."

Toreth:  "Which is?"

Warrick:  "The prospect of walking around with you afterwards, knowing that you've fucked me. That you've come inside me. Feeling taken." He shrugged, managing to sound almost matter-of-fact.

(...) Toreth swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry.


Also love how Toreth plays with Warrick's kink on being bound while he was roughly taken. That guy knows how to turn up the heat where Warrick's concern. Warrick was an excitable quivering mess whenever Toreth mentally and physically tops him.

This unlikely pair sure have the longest slow burn romance going-on. I am getting anxious to hear the word 'exclusive' by now.

View all my reviews

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/807033228?book_show_action=false
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review 2013-12-28 23:26
Coyote's Creed by Vaughn R. Demont
Coyote's Creed (Broken Mirrors, #1) - Vaughn R. Demont

I bought this book ages ago and only just now got around to reading it. I had some trouble with it, at first. Although I usually like snarky first-person POV in urban fantasy, Spencer was almost too “gray area” for me, and his relationship with Rourke was too much, too soon. I sometimes had trouble following what was going on, because snark tended to win out over clear descriptions, and I wish some things had been explained sooner (I never did catch what the deal was with Shiko and Spencer's coat). By the end, though, I was enjoying myself and happy that my weakness for Samhain's “new releases” sales meant I already owned the next two books.

Almost every single character in this book is a trickster, and almost no one can be trusted. This includes Spencer. He's 18 years old and the only person in the world he really loves is his mother. His father walked out on the family a while back, and his mom's mental state is fragile. Spencer keeps things going as best as possible with money earned from short cons. He's particularly good with cards.

His life becomes much more dangerous when “Uncle” Rourke visits and tells him that his father has died and has requested that he give the eulogy. Spencer learns that his father was not human. He was a Coyote, Spencer is half-Coyote, Rourke is King of the Phouka, and Spencer has a bunch of family members he never knew about who trick him into having to steal back his father's ashes from the Kitsune, the Foxes.

It's a big mess. There's a feud between the Kitsune and the Coyotes, and the Phouka are supposed to be neutral. Spencer's in the thick of things right away, and he has no idea what's going on. One of my problems with the book was that, while Spencer pulled off a bunch of amazing tricks, in many cases it was more dumb luck than actual cleverness and skill. For example, he “tricked” Rourke multiple times without even trying to do so – he often didn't realize what he'd accomplished until someone told him later on. Does it count as a con if the con artist wasn't aware of what he was doing?

I had a hard time liking Spencer. He was a bit too obsessed with TV tropes and zombies (I thought the zombie thing was a joke, at first, but I think Spencer might have been completely serious about all of it). He couldn't seem to go near people without lying to them or conning them – sometimes it was as if his body acted on its own, cheating people out of their money without any input necessary from his brain. And he was unbelievably horny. I'm hoping that future books tone down this side of him, because he tended to be more interesting when he wasn't focused on sex to the exclusion of nearly everything else. Yeah, sure, so part of the reason for that was that he was a Coyote, but it's like the ardeur in Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake books: it's really just an excuse for the author to include lots of sex scenes.

Spencer and Rourke's relationship did not appeal to me for a good chunk of the book. When Rourke was first introduced, it was as Uncle Rourke. Spencer was quick to tell readers that he wasn't a blood relation, just a friend of his father's who'd been teaching him card tricks for years. This detail should have been my first clue that they were going to hop into bed with each other, but, to be honest, I didn't catch any kind of sexual vibe between them. Rourke was a charmer where Spencer's tutor was concerned, but that was it. And then Spencer and Rourke got a taste of satyr's wine, and it wasn't long before they were all over each other. Meanwhile, my brain was still stuck on “Uncle Rourke” and “he's been around since I was born.” Those details plus graphic sex scenes did not mix well. And that was before other details were revealed that added new icky dimensions to their relationship.

Spencer and Rourke's relationship didn't even make all that much sense to me. I mean, okay, sex. But then Rourke started talking about love. Rourke, the King of the Phouka, who's been around for hundreds of years, maybe thousands. Spencer's an 18-year-old mortal half-Coyote who's sometimes a bit of an idiot. I couldn't see why someone like Rourke would be so stupid as to claim to love him after a few rounds of good sex. By comparison, Spencer was surprisingly level-headed. He knew that what he felt for Rourke was lust, maybe affection, but not love. And, because he was a Coyote and therefore lied as easily as breathing, he lied to Rourke about his feelings. On the one hand, I hated him for doing that. On the other hand, Rourke, a supposed trickster, was stupidly leaving himself wide open.

Although I never completely got over the icky elements of their relationship, I did eventually grow more comfortable with them being together, once it was revealed that Rourke wasn't quite as stupid as he seemed. I look forward to seeing how things go in the next books.

I also hope that future books flesh out the overall world more. Coyote's Creed focused mostly on Coyotes, specifically Spencer's messed up, back-stabbing family. Beyond what little Rourke says about himself and his own abilities, not much information is given about the Phouka. Since they were participants in the Feud, the information on the Kitsune was a little better (whereas Coyotes are short con experts, Kitsune prefer long cons). Even if he didn't realize exactly what he'd accomplished until he'd done it, Spencer's trick on Kazuhiro was fun, and I hope Shiko becomes a recurring character.

The ending was probably my favorite part of the whole book. It was beautiful and bittersweet, and it fit perfectly. While the bulk of the book was on the good side of “okay,” the ending was wonderful. Here's hoping the next couple books are at least as good.


(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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