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review 2018-01-09 16:34
Who says life's quiet in a small town...
Flight or Fight - Dirk Greyson

After things fell apart in New York, Brantley Calderone did what any sane person would do he bought a farm and left the city looking to make a new life for himself...he just didn't plan on that life including a dead body on his front porch at the end of his first week. Nor did he count on it including a sheriff who pushed every hot button he has.

 

When Mack pulled up to the house with the dead body on it and realized that he was more interested in the hot and very much alive owner as more than just a prime suspect. Mack learns in short order that first impression can be wrong and it doesn't take Mack long to figure out that his first impression was deceptive and as events unfold he realizes that not only is Brantley not a suspect, he's a potential victim.

 

I liked Brantley, he was determined not to give in to his fear and run back to New York no matter how tempting the idea became and I can well imagine that having someone try to kill you would be a real motivator to get the hell out of Dodge. But when push came to shove Brantley pulled on his big boy pants and held his ground and without fail Mack had his back. I might have warmed up to Brantley a little quicker than Mack but that didn't mean that I didn't appreciate Mack. I loved that Mack wasn't afraid to let Brantley know how he felt. 

 

As Mack and Brantley pull together to solve the mystery and keep anyone else from being hurt or worse not only does the pressure to find a solution increase but feelings between Mack and Brantley change and Mack's desire to keep Brantley safe becomes more personal than professional.

 

I found myself engaged by both the romance between the MCs and the mystery in this one even though I was fairly sure who it was I still enjoyed the journey that the author took us one to get there. 

 

Overall I enjoyed this story but I have to admit that ending was maybe just a little bit to much sunshine and rainbows for me to buy into but sometimes it's nice to get the sunshine and rainbows in my books because real life doesn't always have them to offer when life goes off the rails.

 

I've left my thoughts on the audio portion of this book for last because truthfully this one was a real challenge for me. I listened to the sample on audible.com  before I requested this one and honestly it seemed ok, I really didn't think there was going to be an issue...I was wrong ok? Because about an hour into the book I picked up on the fact that what sounded like a slow easy drawl after only a few minutes turned into more of a sing-songy voice and truthfully just did not enhance the story for me especially as I began to feel like it was getting a bit challenging to distinguish the character voices apart as I didn't find the voices of the MCs to be overly distinctive. This was my first audio experience with Mark Westfield as the narrator and truthfully probably my last as well. I know he's a very popular narrator especially with fans of Charlie Cochet's THIRDS series and I'm cool with that. Once again this isn't a case of right or wrong it's just a case of this narrator's voice didn't work for me. 

 

At the end of the story it's a case of the story was easily a 3.5 possibly a 4 star read for me but the audio only gets 3 stars from me because while this was by no means my best audio book experience I've had worse...a lot worse so I'm calling it a day at 3.5 stars for this one and moving on to my next adventure.

 

*************************

An audio book of 'Flight or Fight' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-01-02 01:46
ARC Review: Saint And The Sinner by Sam Burns
Saint and the Sinner - Sam Burns
In this 4th book in the Wilde Love series, we finally get Owen and Mickey's story. I had an inkling in book 2 that they would eventually get their own book, because when I read Keegan's book (Sins Of The Father), there was an undercurrent of want I could see from Owen and Mickey toward each other, so I hoped. And the author delivered.

This book can be read as a standalone, though why you wouldn't read the whole series is beyond me, and it also feels as if this is the last book, as it seems to wrap up any leftover questions and open issues.

Mickey Martin is Owen Quinn's father's 2nd in command, more or less, having worked for Brendan Quinn since he was fifteen years old, owing his life and his livelihood to the man, and is basically a member of the family by now. Brendan is ill, and it looks as if Mickey will be asked to take over to run the Quinn mob syndicate. Mickey, who is also best friends with Keegan, has had the hots for Owen for a long time, but he also knows that nothing will come off it, as Owen is out of his league, and he's been fighting his feelings for the younger man for a long time. A string of girlfriends led to nothing much, because Mickey can never fully commit himself to anyone,since Owen unknowingly holds his heart. Even if he knows the boy deserves so much better than a thug like himself. Or so he thinks.

Owen is in love with Mickey, and has been since he was but a teenager. He doesn't think that the older man will ever love him, and he's basically resigned himself to not ever getting the man he wants. Owen still lives in his father's house, but is not involved at all in the criminal business side, though he reaps the fruits of that illicit labor since it pays for his education and lifestyle. He's disdainful of his father's thugs, except for Mickey, of course. He knows that his dream of joining the FBI will never come to fruition because of who his father is. 

At the core of this book is the juxtaposition of these two characters - how can Owen love a man who represents all that he abhors, and how can Mickey pursue a romantic relationship with the son of his employer, his best friend's little brother? There is angst and drama, of course, though little of it stems from the criminal activities - while there is some of the crime aspect present, it's not the focus of this book. Most of the drama within is based on the two men's differences and their different stations in life, their assumptions and inability to see a future in which they can be together. There is never a question of the veracity of their feelings or the strength thereof - they love each other wholeheartedly - but neither sees a way to overcome what stands in their way.

What is also remarkable about this series is how well the author fleshed out her characters. Not just the main ones, but also all the secondary and supporting characters, and how carefully she has crafted their individual relationships and contributions to the plot. The deep love of a father for his sons, despite misunderstandings, hard feelings, and controversies, permeates this book, and Brendan's sacrifice at the very end only cemented my admiration for him - even if he can be ruthless and cold in his business dealings, I always knew he loved his children, no matter what. 

If this is truly the last book in this series, it is a fitting ending. I closed the book on my e-reader with a smile on my face and happiness in my heart. 

Read this series - I implore you. While Sam Burns may be a fairly new author, her books have a fascinating cast of characters, with complexities and flaws that make them realistic and relatable. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its author in exchange for an honest review. **
 
 

 

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review 2017-12-06 12:58
Definitely an important story but it wasn't for me.
Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change - Ellen Datlow

Ellen Pao is a name you have probably heard of, or at least remember vaguely. In 2015 she made the news suing a VC firm in the San Francisco Bay Area for discrimination and retaliation in the workplace. She lost her suit but this became a moment that pushed a deeper look at how women and other underrepresented groups are treated. The book is her biography of her early life, career, time at reddit, etc. Eventually she moved on to Project Include, which has a mission to promote diversity in the tech industry. 

 

I know a lot of people found her story helpful (and I did too), but man, this book was boring. It probably doesn't help that I have very little interest in VC firms, only have a surface level familiarity with the tech industry, etc. I'll admit that part of it was that I just couldn't relate. I haven't been in positions she's had and while I cringed and fumed alongside with her and was frustrated by the awful hate she got I also didn't find this as moving or meaningful as other readers seemed to find.

 

Part of the problem for me is the writing style. It's just not interesting. I thought and hoped I would be riveted by such a story (which I only followed here and there but wasn't glued to it) and yet it just bored me. Her story is very important though, and you can bet there are millions of similar stories in VC, tech and beyond. It just seemed like maybe I had enough via the media stories or she could have used a ghostwriter or better editor.

 

The most helpful part to me was the epilogue with the advice she had. It might be geared towards a particular audience but I thought it was interesting and helpful.

 

I'd borrow it from the library. It wasn't for me but for the right person in similar fields as Pao was it could be a great fit. 

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review 2017-11-22 16:49
Review: Vampire Fight Club by Larissa Ione
Vampire Fight Club (Demonica, #6.5) - Larissa Ione

What I’m Talking About:

Nathan (Nate) Sabine, a rare, daywalker vampire, has worked at an underground fight club for decades hoping to bring it down from the inside, ever since the owner, Fade, killed his wife. But Nate has become apathetic and has lost sight of his need for revenge. He hates himself. 

 

Vladlena (Lena) Paskelkov is a nurse at UGH. She’s working when one of the paramedics brings in her brother all torn up. They discover he was killed at an underground fight club. Lena decides to go undercover as a medic for the fight club’s legitimate front, the Vampire nightclub Thirst, to seek revenge for her brother’s murder.

 

Although previously released, Vampire Fight Club is one of the few (only?) Demonic stories I hadn’t read. I absolutely enjoyed diving into the old school Demonica tales. The story is set mid-series, after the original crew have their stories, but before most of the Lords of Deliverance characters are mated. It’s fast, simple, and fun. Nate and Lena share an instant attraction, although it sort of horrifies Lena as she’s not certain if Nate had anything to do with her brother’s death. But their pull is undeniable, and it gives Nate a reason to live again. It also helps Lena fulfill her own shifter needs. 

 

Vampire Fight Club is independent of the original series and can be enjoyed as a standalone or introduction to this awesome PNR series. As for fans of Underground General Hospital, this story is an entertaining, sexy addition to the Demonica series.

 

My Rating:  B, Liked It

Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About

Review copy provided by Netgalley

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review 2017-10-16 01:41
ARC Review: Off The Beaten Path by Cari Z.
Off the Beaten Path - Cari Z.

Ever since I read my first shifter book, I've been hooked. For some reason, Off The Beaten Path escaped my notice at first, but when it kept popping up in friend reviews on Goodreads, I requested a review copy from the publisher.

I was not disappointed.

This is not some fluffy wolf shifter meets human and they live happily ever after shifter book. No, as the title indicates, this shifter universe is off the beaten path, set in an alternate reality where shifters exists, after a government experiment gone terribly wrong, but are controlled by the human government, living in remote areas away from human cities, within confined compounds, with the pack Alphas required to serve as ultimate soldiers whenever the military requires them to utilize their extra strength and abilities to carry out the military's dirty work. 

Additionally, some children are born as shifters to human parents, and when their true nature is revealed, they are removed from their human parents, severing the relationship, and relocated to a shifter compound, where they either can shift back to human or, if they can't, are destroyed. 

Thus, we meet Ward Johannsen whose young daughter Ava shifted into a wolf during a stressful situation and was immediately taken by the feds to the nearest shifter camp. Unwilling to give up his daughter, Ward does everything he can to obtain her location, which just happens to be in the Colorado mountains. And it's winter. 

Ward is rescued, nearly frozen to death, at the perimeter of the pack compound. Once inside, he's faced with the pack's Alpah, Henry Dormer, who only recently returned from his last mission and hopes to have a bit of time to recuperate before he's sent out again.

Both men are really strong-willed and not inclined to give up. Ward is unwilling to let go of Ava, even if the law says he has to, and he does everything in his power to get back to her, even if that means willingly walking into a werewolf compound and standing his ground. Henry too fights every day to ensure the security and well-being of his pack, even if that means that he himself suffers abuse and faces possible death.

See, the government doesn't really care about the werewolves it created, considering them dangerous and thus in need of being kept separated and hidden, but is perfectly willing to use the wolves' Alphas for its Black Ops missions. Henry's CO especially is a sack of shit, vengeful and vile, but Henry knows he has to follow the rules so his pack can get what it needs to survive. 

Relationships between wolves and humans are strongly discouraged, though not forbidden. 

Obviously, Ward's presence in the camp, and his having found the compound, breaks all kinds of security rules, and Henry has to take the blame. Still, Henry realizes that Ward's presence will likely help Ava shift back to human, so he is willing to give it a try. 

The attraction they both feel to each other is neither expected nor necessarily wanted, but Ward's persistence and courage seems to calm Henry in the face of the multiple pressures he's facing not only from his CO but also his pack. 

This isn't some fluffy shifter tale. It's gritty, it's dark, and there are oh so many obstacles Henry and Ward face before they can find even a modicum of happiness. Though, I think the point here is that the happiness you have to fight for so hard is worth more in the end - simply because you have to fight for it. 

At the end of this book, there's hope. Not only for Ward and Henry to have a happy ending, but for the shifters in the compound, and all shifters under the thumb of the feds. In fact, there are forces at work to better the lives of the werewolves and give them a chance to actually live

I do hope that the author has more books planned, and that this will turn into a full-blown series. Because Tennyson and David surely need their own book.

This book is full of tension, passion, and courage in the face of nearly insurmountable odds. A true "edge-of-your-seat" read, this comes highly recommended. 



** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. **

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