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review 2017-07-25 02:28
Monroe has to use more brains than brawn in this thriller
The Mask: Vanessa Michael Munroe, Book 5 - Taylor Stevens,Hillary Huber,Random House Audio

I spent a lot of time being annoyed with Michael in this novel -- more time being annoyed with Miles, however. Well, that's not true -- events keep Miles off of the board for most of the book, so let me say that I spent more time annoyed with him while he active. I get that communication is hard for them, and I guess it was good to see that Miles was human, too -- even his ability to understand Michael's needs and desires has limits.

 

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

 

So Michael's got her head on right after The Catch and goes to join Miles in Japan. He's there in a strange corporate security consulting gig that he really won't clue her in on. They spend a few months together, him working days and her trying not to get bored and learning Japanese. The latter of those two works a whole lot better than the former. She needs something to do -- and not in the "I've gotta kill someone or take drugs" kind of way she did back in The Vessel. She just needs something to occupy her time while he's putting in 15 hour days. Which isn't dong their relationship any good. Before she can have it out with him, he gets arrested for murdering someone at the tech company he's working for. If she had tried to talk, if he'd explained himself a little better -- if they had communicated at all . . . so much of this novel wouldn't have happened. Too many books/movies/TV shows rely on this poor interpersonal communication to force plots forward, it really gets on my nerves.

 

First, we get a little lesson in Japanese jurisprudence, which by itself was enough to convince me that I don't want to end up arrested in Japan (not that I really want to be arrested anywhere). Then Michael goes to work to clear his name, no one else is going to. The hoops she has to jump through make her previous adventures seem easy -- sure, she was in more peril in most of the previous books, but it seemed easier for her to get around and get the information she wanted. Cultural and corporate protocols are tougher to beat by bribery, sensuality and violence than other things, I guess. Throw in some underworld figures and you've got yourself a thriller worthy of Monroe. I really enjoyed this story once Miles got arrested and things got moving -- Stevens is getting better at plot intricacies.

 

There's a great corporate espionage plot throughout with an operative that could probably sustain her own novel if Stevens ever got around to it. I'm not sure I can say more than that without messing something up. But as despicable as I find (some of) her methods, they made for good reading.

 

About the time that I'd given up on Michael doing more than outwitting her opponents, she got sucked into a very violent confrontation. I didn't spend a second thinking that she was in trouble, but man, she had to work hard to eliminate these guys. There's that scene in The Vessel where Stevens cuts away from the action, and we don't get to see Michael kill her captives, we just know she's about to do something and then Miles comes along later and finds the aftermath. This fight scene was probably pretty similar to that -- but there's no cut. We get the whole thing.

 

I should take a moment to talk about Hilary Huber, but I can't say anything about her narration than I've said before. Now that I'm caught up with these, I'm going to have to track down some other books that she's narrated.

 

I never expected a happily ever after scenario between Michael and Miles -- but I expected something better than this (not that this is in any way, shape or form the end of their relationship), and that took some of the shine off this book for me. Otherwise, this was very entertaining, gripping, and so on -- a Michael Monroe thriller that tops its predecessors, and deepens our understanding of Michael. Not much more to ask.

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text 2017-06-05 20:52
Death Trance - Graham Masterton

As president of one of Tennessee's largest companies, Randolph Clare is outraged when arsonists destroy one of his Memphis plants. But then his wife and children are savagely murdered. All thoughts of vengeance are drowned in his grief.

Desperate to see his loved ones again, if only to bid them farewell, he enlists the aid of an Indonesian physician who claims that he can help Randolph enter the world of the dead. But, the doctor warns, ravening demons wait for those who dare the voyage. Not only Randolph's life will be at stake, but the souls of his family.

 

Really enjoyed this, as one of the first book's i've read of Graham Masterton's I have to say I was impressed! The plot flowed and the location's!! wow! graham has a way with word's that makes you feel as if you're there in the location he's writing about. I went to Tennessee and Thailand! Really spooky read into the world of occult Buddhism.

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review 2017-05-17 18:01
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
Mask of Shadows - Linsey Miller

 Mask of Shadows had alot going for it, peace trying to grow in a war torn land, A Queen trying to hold the ragged strings of peace with her band of assassins to keep the unsettling silence. Here is where Sal grows, their home wiped from the face of the earth, victim of dark cruel and uncontrollable magic. Sal finds their chance to work with the Queen as one of her assassins, a chance to get revenge for their family and home and get justice once and for all. As Sal plays the game and walks through the court, they learn more that makes this so called peace nothing more then a magical illusion.

 

 I was curious in how Miller would write a gender fluid character and perhaps one of if not the best part of the overall book was the way Sal was shown as being gender fluid and great understanding and beautiful storytelling weaving that it just flowed. Sal as a character was interesting as they slowly uncover clues but use their mind to figure out whose pulling the strings.

 If Miller followed, I think, this line of plot of just Sal it wouldn't have fallen into something that felt like it was done before. Sadly, this felt like the Hunger Games with all those in the tournament giving an all go to kill one another. Unlike the Hunger Games the rest of those in the tournament wore masks with numbers on their face being called by a number, you never get to "know" them at all. Even the "love" interest was ok but again nothing that really drew the character to the reader.

 

This had an amazing history but instead of discovering it in the book it was given as a summary toward the end in a timeline.

While in the end this ended up being an okay read with a big cliffhanger, this may turn out the be a better series in book two- we shall see.

 

 

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review 2017-04-30 22:23
Um, yes, please!
Quantum Teens Are Go #1 - Black Mask Studios

I have a short fuse right now, between people still talking about Richard Spencer like he shouldn't be punched in the face - guys, guys, I just researched and found he's called for "Black Genocide" or at least eugenics of black people, so I am now 100% on board okay with him getting punched in the face again, Marvel turning Magneto into a nazi, and the tire place dicking me around.   (Thanks, what I really wanted was my tire to constantly deflate like it does.   Made an online appointment for Wednesday, but fuck that noise: I'm going in tomorrow morning and saying 'you've been dicking me around on lots of things, FIX THIS!!!!)   I had to go to them THREE times for one thing, and now this tire thing is making me mad at them. 

 

Basically I have little patience for things, and I will call out all the problematic shit.   Like Kim and Kim, which was written by the same author, this comic deals with a trans woman, and includes friction between her and a parent.   With Kim, it was her father who loved her deeply, but still thought of her as a son.   With Natalie - once Brandon - her mother is having a tough time dealing with the transition, and still calling Nat 'Brandon.'   She also seems to think that Natalie has changed since the transition, and is side eying the things Natalie is doing, like sneaking out to meet boys.   Specifically her boyfriend, although to be fair they're not doing what Nat's mom thinks.   (Sex, I'm sure.   I'm not sure she'd be relieved to learn they're stealing things from defunct science labs to build a spaceship, that accidentally turned into plans for a time machine because sometimes that's how building a spaceship goes.)

 

I've read a bit about the author, who wants to tell a story about a trans character that isn't, as she describes it, toxic.   (And I'm trusting her on this; she's a trans woman and I am not.   I do see a struggle with family members as a theme in her works, but I suspect that may be built on personal experience.   I suspect this because the parents do struggle, but also still love their children deeply and don't disown them, or deny them safety or protection, due to the transition.   In other words, there's just enough that's the same between the two that I see a pattern that may very well be personal experience, thus my suspicions.)

 

Another thing that Kim and Kim and Quantum Teens have in common is batshit insane science fiction fun.   Kim and Kim was little more off the wall, but I read the whole first series; this may grow to match, or exceed, the previous series.    And as always, the author has fun with her stories, and it shines through this.   The thing is that while the stories being told are for trans women - and people, they're also fun.   (And the introduction to Kim and Kim talked about trans people not getting happy endings; the author herself talks about avoiding toxic tropes and storylines when it comes to the trans community.   It would be a hard case to make that these stories aren't written for the trans community.)    The classic feel of the science fiction - that is the pure fun of possibilities, no matter how weird or off-the-wall - makes this more accessible.   And look, I'd be interested without that aspect, but I'm more interested with it, because I like that kind of story.   And there's no reason the writer can't do both - she clearly can, because Kim and Kim was popular enough to get her a contract for three more stories - but I think by not focusing purely on a more biographical story about being trans, and making it something else, it made the story more accessible to more people due to the two areas of interest that these stories present.   (Although I think there's a better reason for doing both, and one that makes the story the most accessible of all: the writer not only cares about trans issues, but is telling stories that she finds fun.   She's telling the stories the way she wants, and her pleasure in writing these makes it all the more fun to read.)

 

Love, love, love!

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