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review 2017-11-18 23:37
Too Stupid to Live (Romancelandia Book 1) Anne Tenino 4.5 Stars Review
Too Stupid to Live: Romancelandia, Book 1 - Riptide Publishing,Tobias Silversmith,Anne Tenino

t isn't true love until someone gets hurt.

Sam’s a new man. Yes, he’s still too tall, too skinny, too dorky, too gay, and has that unfortunate addiction to romance novels, but he’s wised up. His One True Love is certainly still out there, but he knows now that real life is nothing like fiction. He’s cultivated the necessary fortitude to say “no” to the next Mr. Wrong, no matter how hot, exciting, and/or erotic-novel-worthy he may be.

Until he meets Ian.

Ian’s a new man. He’s pain-free, has escaped the job he hated and the family who stifled him, and is now — possibly — ready to dip his toe into the sea of relationships. He’s going to be cautious, though, maybe start with someone who knows the score and isn’t looking for anything too complicated. Someone with experience and simple needs that largely revolve around the bedroom.

Until he meets Sam.

Sam’s convinced that Ian is no one’s Mr. Right. Ian’s sure that Sam isn’t his type. They can’t both be wrong...can they?

 

Review

This isn't a perfect book but its delightful and if you are a romance novel nerd like I am it is a must read for the meta commentary on the genre, the love of the gerne, and the playfulness Plus, it is a sexy romantic love story.

 

Same and Ian. I love that Ian isn't attracted to Sam at first because he is shallow but really more because he isn't attuned to himself yet. A great deal of this book his Ian's journey to become emotionally connect to himself and others after having lived a closeted life and believed the cultural lies told by hyper masculinity.

 

His journey is moving as his is falling deeper and deeper in love and lust with Sam. I am so happy Ian is already seeking therapy and continues to do so as the plot develops. I love his relationship with his cousin and the developing relationships with the people at his new job.

 

He tries and grows and does great romantic gestures and emotionial bravery and this makes him a wonderful deserving hero for Sam even when he struggles.

 

Sam is everything I love. A nerd, socially awkward bookworm with great friendships and a loving heart. He is super smart and his thinking of the world through romantic novels themes is at once funny, charming, and wise. He is brave and takes risk as Ian learns. Sexy as hell.

 

This is a well plotted book with great charters and love you can believe in. I liked the second book in the series much better after reading this one and can't wait for a third book.

 

The flaws are slight really. A weird lack of setting in an extra place. Western US not California. We never get to see Same as a grad student, writer, and teacher...just as a reader, friend, and waiter. This leaves some depth out of the novel that matters.

 

This will be a long time comfort read for sure. I am resisting the urge to reread right now!

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review 2017-11-18 21:20
P.S. I Spook You
P.S. I Spook You - S.E. Harmon

Some of y'all said this was like PsyCop.

 

 

This was more like Ghost Whisperer, without the cleavage. Or brain smarts. Or cooperative ghosts.

 

Really, for the first half of the book, the ghosts seemed almost coincidental to the plot. Rain saw some ghosts, mostly ignored them, and then went about his day. Of course, he's new to all this, so I guess in the long-run that makes sense, but it definitely wasn't what I was expecting. 

 

Then the plot seemed to start to gel for awhile as they made some breakthroughs on the case, and I was able to get more into it. And then, Rain went into TSTL territory at 90%, and even though he called himself out on being TSTL that didn't take away the fact that he did a stupid thing that even amateurs would know to stay away from - and him being the so-called FBI profiler should definitely know better.

 

There were also a few plot fails. The first time in the book any kind of timeline was mentioned for the case was the case going cold after two years. Then later, Rain is talking to his mom, who mentioned noticing something of Amy's going missing a year ago and that she figured Amy had given it away. Then later still, it's finally mentioned - twice - that Amy's been gone for five years. These should've been caught by an even half-way competent editor, but this is DSP so I guess that's asking too much. (Yes, it says five years in the blurb, but I don't reread blurbs before I read a book since I expect the book to make these reveals in non-confusing ways. I shouldn't have to read the blurb after the book to clarify things.)

 

Then there's the whole nonsense with 

the storage locker. Amy had paid for the locker in cash under a false name, and yet the locker was still being rented out to her five years later? No discussion on who's been making the payments, if anyone has. No reveal on what name she rented it out on. And if no one has been making the payments, that locker would've been emptied out and the items in it sold, and the locker rented to someone who actually pays. Also, keys are encoded, so it would make sense for the rental office to have a list of key numbers to match with locker numbers, but nope, not here. Maybe this office manager is lazy. *shrugs*

(spoiler show)

 

The romance between Rain and Danny is just kind of there. I didn't feel their connection. They were good as friends with benefits, but I wasn't convinced of their romance/love. Oh, and then Rain's significantly injured right before the first sex scene, but of course this doesn't slow them down at all, and the injuries are never mentioned again even though the rest of the book only spans a week or two at most.

 

I thought Rain's mom was a hoot when we met her, but then she never made another appearance. We meet Rain's sister a couple of times, and they have a great dynamic, but I don't think we ever meet his father. If we did, I already forgot about it. I would've liked to see more of his family, but alas. 

 

The ending was a little too tied with a bow, yet there's this whole thing with Danny's sister that's kind of left unresolved that felt like a weird choice for the story. 

 

There are a lot of good ideas here but it never really came together.

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review 2017-08-24 02:53
Greenwode (The Wode #1) (Audiobook)
Greenwode - J. Tullos Hennig

I have mixed feelings on this one. 

 

First off, I've never read any of the Robin Hood legends, and the only movies I've seen are Prince of Thieves and Men in Tights, so I can't in anyway compare this to the source material aside from the obvious - Marion is Robin's sister, and Rob's gay. I remember John and Will from the PoT movie, but I pretty much don't know who anyone else is. So I'm just going to review this like any other book.

 

As a fantasy adventure historical, this is great. Very imaginative and takes place in roughly the same time frame as the original RH stories. The pagans are still very much a presence but slowly being squeezed out and pushed to the sidelines by the Christians. There's a lot of world-building here but none of it feels overwhelming. The social and religious strife between the two sides in this conflict is realistic and rooted in our actual history, while adding in elements of fantasy. It's a good meld of the two. 

 

As a romance, you could pretty much pull it out of this book, and plop into any other YA/teen in-the-closet/coming-out story and it would be exactly the same as all of those, along with way too much sex. Except, you know, actual lives are in danger and not just teen angst making it feel like that's the case. Rob's especially pig-headed, and I wanted to smack him a few times, especially at the end, but the book does that well enough when he decides listening to his dick is more important than being stealthy, so I'll refrain. ;) Gamelyn's struggles to accept himself despite his upbringing were interesting though, and I liked that we get to see both accepting and fire-and-brimstone views on sodomy by the two prominent religious figures.

 

The narrator does an excellent job bringing the story to life and voicing all the characters. He's easy to understand and is able to do a full range of vocalizations for both the male and female characters, and he's pretty great with the accents too. 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-07-11 05:32
The Unsung Hero (Troubleshooters #1) (Audiobook)
The Unsung Hero - Suzanne Brockmann

This audiobook is brought to you by Patrick Lawlor and Siri. Ok, Melanie Ewbanks reads the female POVs (I googled it - she is not Siri), but true story: I was driving to a meeting at a building I hadn't been to before when I first started listening to this audiobook, so I had my GPS turned on. The first time Ms. Ewbanks took over the narration, I seriously thought that my GPS lady got bored and started to randomly narrate the book. (I googled the GPS lady too - not Ms. Ewbanks.) She improves a little as the story goes on - or I just got used to her - but if you want to know what sex scenes sound like when read to you by a Siri-esque voice, now's your chance! (I didn't, so I skipped over them. Even when Lawlor was reading them. Narrators reading sex scenes are just painful.) Patrick Lawlor did a much better job of getting into the material and bringing life and warmth to the story. Unfortunately - as happens too often with dual narrators - the narrators are clearly not in the studio together when they recorded their parts, so Lawlor still has to do female voices and Siri still has to do male voices and I have no idea why you would pay for two narrators and then split up the reading this way. Stop doing this to your listeners!

 

Sadly, even the best narrators couldn't have saved this book. This has three - count them - one, two, THREE - romances crammed into one long-ass boring romance novel with an attempt at an intriguing suspense subplot to thread it all together. It just doesn't work. Rating them from blandest to most promising, the romances are these:

 

3 - Charles, Cybelle, Joe - Love triangle. Bored now. Love triangle set during WW II? UGHHHH! At least it's not set in Pearl Harbor? Seriously, it's WW II and that's the best the author could think to do with these characters? STAHP. The only good thing about this part of the story is that Charles and Joe stay friends.

 

2 - Kelly and Tom - The old "girl kisses boy, boy freaks out and enlists in the Navy, boy and girl don't see each other for 16 years and in all that time they clearly barely even change since they're right back where they left off as soon as they're in the same room again" story. Yeah, nothing new here either. I did like Tom's struggles with his head injury and wondering if he's still capable of leading. I'm just not sure this story actually answers that question. I also liked Kelly's struggles with understanding her father, Charles, and getting closer to him as his health is failing.

 

1 - Mallory and David - The old "geek boy who's really a nice guy (but not a Nice Guy) stalks beautiful girl and gets her" story. Ok, stalking is a little strong. He just makes himself visible, and he's a lot more confident and self-assured than geek boys tend to be in these stories. Mallory's change of heart toward him is gradual, and while it occasionally threatens to veer into boring romance cliche territory, it mostly avoids it.

 

The terrorist stalker subplot is one I've read before also, so again, nothing new here. This was published pre-9/11, so maybe the regulations were a wee bit more relaxed then, but I doubt it. If a bomb threat gets called in, it has to be investigated. End of story. If a building needs to be evacuated in a hurry, pull the fire alarm. The ending was convoluted and eye roll worthy, and the negligence on display here by literally everyone except our protags defies logic. 

 

This series is not off to a good start, but I've seen other reviews mention the books get better after this one, so I'm going to at least give the next one a try.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-06-07 04:42
The Monet Murders (The Art of Murder #2)
The Monet Murders: The Art of Murder Book 2 - Josh Lanyon

 

***SPOILERS AHEAD!***

 

After I recently reread The Mermaid Murders and realized it didn't quite live up to my original impression, I dialed down my expectations for this book. I really only wanted two things: an explanation of why Kennedy is the way he is, and a reason for me to root for this couple. It delivered on the first - eventually. It did not deliver on the second. I can’t be invested in a "relationship" that was barely lukewarm in the first book and then "developed" in between books, started the second book with them split up and kept them apart until the 60% mark. I had no reason to care about Jason's moping - and boy did he ever mope, often while processing crime scenes. He really needs to learn to compartmentalize. Jason and Sam had no chemistry and I really didn't care if they got an HEA or even an HFN. The sex scene was just that - a sex scene. 

 

Kennedy's reasons for treating Jason in the passive-aggressive, jerkass way that he does certainly did explain a lot - but it's not what I expect from a 46-year old top-notch FBI investigator-now-supervisor known for his directness. His behavior was very wishy-washy, and his excuses were more suited to a man half his age and a fraction of his supposed maturity. 


The mystery was good once it got going. There were a lot of layers to it, but it's not overstuffed. There are some TSTL moments from both Jason and Sam, and I actually have a hard time believing these guys have been in the FBI as long as they have - or never seen or read a mystery book to know basic murder mystery tropes. The climax was rushed and would never have gone that way. There's this thing called mobilization. And not running off solo to chase down something hinky when you've got an entire task force at your beck and call. Also, Lanyon needs to research basic physics on how bullets work. I was not at all in suspense when Jason was being shot at while underwater. I was scratching my head why the bad guy was wasting his ammo.

 

I had a vague feeling while reading the first book that Jason and Sam were lightweight versions of Adrien and Jake, and that impression was solidified here. Jason's not as interesting a POV character, and Sam's not as complex or compelling as Jake, so the comparisons just make these characters feel flatter as a result. That whole sidestep with Shipka had shades of Bruce Green to it too (minus him being a homicidal maniac). Lanyon often reuses themes in her stories, but this is the first time I felt like she was reusing characterizations. On top of that was the constant pimping of Winter Kill, another just-okay book with likable characters that I never got invested in, during the last half of the book. It worked my last nerve. Lanyon's crossovers used to be a lot more subtle. Not anymore. I didn't want to read about Winter Kill; I wanted to read this book.

To try to figure out a rating for this book, I'm going to split it up:

 

Romance - 1 star. It's pretty much non-existent until the last 75% of the book and that's just too late for me to get invested. 

 

Mystery - 3 stars. The various branches of the mystery were interesting and seeing Jason's determination to solve them was great. The resolution for Jason's case wasn't the usual, but I actually liked that. The climax was good until I started thinking about it and all the TSTL crap that went on. 

 

Characters - 3 stars. I did like what we learned about these two, but the side characters were just filling in spots, with maybe the exception of George. Kennedy's reasons for treating Jason like crap were pretty big - but something he should've worked out with a therapist early in his career before his obsession could become a potential liability to his investigations.

 

Editing - 4 stars. Above the average for this genre, but there are a lot more typos than Lanyon usually has in her works. 

 

Writing - 4 stars. Masterful as always, and really the saving grace here. She has a way of describing imagery and settings that put you in the location. She gets a little purple in the sex scene. I really wish she'd tame down the purple metaphors and similes. It's not as bad here as in some of her other works, but it still pulls me out of the scene.

 

Will I read the next one? I don't know. Maybe eventually, but it won't be a pre-order. 

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