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review 2018-09-15 19:22
Color of Grace (Cost of Repairs #2)
Color of Grace - A.M. Arthur

Warning: Grumpy review ahead.

 

Don't let my rating or review sway you from reading the book. Most of the issues I had with it are of the personal taste variety. And one thing at the very end that ticked me off. ... Two things. ... Maybe three things, lol.

 

The writing is strong, and Barrett and Schuyler (pronounced Skylar) are interesting characters who despite their various flaws and hangups might just be perfect for each other. I didn't completely feel the love connection between them, since half of their "relationship development" that took place seemed to happen in the bedroom. But when we did get actual relationship development, it was pretty well done.

 

Since it's been so long since I read the first book in this series - and the primary thing I remember about it was that ridiculous drama-ridden fourth act - I didn't recall if I had issues with Schuyler or not. I know there was a reason I initially decided to skip this one, but lord help me if I can remember it now, lol.

 

I should have listened to my former self.

 

For the most part, I really liked Barrett and Schuyler, and there was certainly enough there in their backgrounds that could have made a truly compelling story, but most of what we get is a watered down contemporary romance that doesn't distinguish itself from the mainstream m/m genre. Barrett had the most interesting background, so of course we only get snatches of it. Schuyler's backstory is... well...

 

Ok, so Schuyler's cousin, Matty, drowned in the lake when they were teens. Schuyler was there when it happened. He drinks himself into oblivion every year on the anniversary, blaming himself for what happened. For 85% of the book, that's all we know about it. Then we find out a couple of Matty's friends were also there. And then it just gets stupid because

despite every indication that Danny is seriously unstable, Schuyler decides to just drive down to the lake when Danny leaves a note on his car requesting a meeting with him there. Without telling anyone where he's going. Or who he's going to meet.

 

So he drives down there like a buffoon and confronts Danny, who is upset that Schuyler still exists. And then we find out what really happened that fateful night: Danny started bullying Schuyler for being gay, taunting him to kiss Danny's girlfriend - why the girlfriend was all for this idea, who knows; she's incidental to the story and never appears on page except as a blurry fuzzy afterthought on this backstory - all because ... wait for it ... Danny's also gay, but in the closet and hates himself for it. So of course he HAS to bully Schuyler for also being gay. And of COURSE his teen self has to attack teen Schuyler for being around and TEMPTING him and making him feel his horrible gay feelings. And of COURSE Matty ends up in the lake during this fight and no one notices until it's too late and Matty was too drunk to get himself out of the lake on his own.

 

And that's how Matty died. And that's why Schuyler blames himself. Because showing up when Matty asked him to come and having Danny bully him clearly makes it his fault. (Guilt isn't logical, I know that, but still. Put the blame where it belongs.)

 

But that's not all! Danny isn't torn up about accidentally knocking his friend into the lake and killing him. NO! He's been tormented all these years by his gay feelings. That's what keeps him up at night. That's why he's so maladjusted. That's why he's a walking blowhole.

 

So naturally, since he's got this horrible crush on Schuyler he's got to call present-day Schuyler down to the lake, then ask him why he was always around back them - um, because Matty was his cousin????? - and attacks him again!

 

And then - AND THEN - after all this goes down and Schuyler's released from the hospital and Danny's locked up, Schuyler finally sits down to tell his aunt Dixie, Matt's mom, what actually happened that night 15 years ago. AND WE DON'T GET DIXIE'S REACTION! We just go from him saying "There's something I need to tell you" to jumping six weeks ahead to the epilogue so Schuyler can get a fracking tattoo to memorialize Matty. You know, that's sweet and all, though why he'd want angel wings made out of water to remember how his cousin died is beyond me. You know what I wanted to know though: What did Dixie say or do when she found out? It's only her son that she lost, right? Her one and only child. So who cares what she thinks about all this. (We also don't get Barrett's reaction but his really doesn't matter here.)

 

AND THEN Schuyler doesn't even press charges. And neither does Dixie apparently, so the only thing that happens to Danny is he has to go to therapy for a few months and do some community service. Oh, and he's getting a divorce. Oh, and Danny's therapist thinks it would be a really good idea for Schuyler to go and see Danny again so Danny can get closure. ... HE NEARLY BEAT A MAN TO DEATH BUT HE DESERVES CLOSURE.

 

 

And of COURSE Schuyler is an absolute saint about all of this. Why should he be angry about nearly dying? Or all those years he was bullied as a teen? And all those years he was scared into silence about that night Matty drowned because Danny threatened him?

Thank God we didn't get a scene of him actually going to see Danny again, so there's that.

(spoiler show)

 

So anyway, all that aside this was a decent read. Except that 20% in the middle of the book that had practically three or four sex scenes in a row. I ended up skipping most of that. I did like the one toward the end though, before all the stupid happened.

 

I might be rating this too highly, lol. But I didn't hate all of it, and most of it was decent, and some of it was even nice and sweet. So 2.5 stars it is.

 

P.S. You can't open both eyes wide when one of them is swollen shut.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-01-15 17:51
Shiver (Unbreakable Bonds #1) - DNF @ 50%
Shiver (Unbreakable Bonds #1) - Jocelynn Drake,Rinda Elliott

That's three for three. What the hell is going on? I've never had this many DNFs in a row. *frustrated sigh*

 

There was some good stuff here, which is why I kept reading so long, hoping the rest of the story would catch up. But...

 

The Good:

 

~Ian seems like a fun character, though I hope he has a good manager since being a good chef isn't enough to keep a restaurant going. 

~Banner, the intrepid detective, is so dedicated to his job he goes on interviews with a flu. Because nothing will scare witnesses into giving answers than fear of getting sick. ;) Naw, that's not why he does it, he just really wants to solve his case.

~This isn't entirely GFY. Andrei's noticed guys and had some sexual encounters with them, but only when there was a woman or alcohol involved. Still, it smacks of GFY because "there's just something about Lucas" that makes him different. What that something is I have no clue. Lucas isn't a bad guy, he's just kind of jerk sometimes.

~The writing is decent and doesn't have too many typos.

 

The Annoying:

 

~Incorrect medical procedures are incorrect. There's no way the hospital would let Andrei out of there, even with a minor burn, without first dressing the burn and wrapping it up, so that whole scene that takes place after the hospital doesn't make sense; it shouldn't need to be happening. And then Lucas is putting this green gel goop on it and also not dressing it. Poor Andrei's shirts are all going to be a mess at this point.

~Speaking of, this is yet another story where the MCs are seriously injured and aside from a few aches and pains the next day, they're walking around like no big deal. At least Lucas took a couple of pills? And only one with alcohol. Yay? But Lucas has broken ribs. RIBS! And he keeps getting thrown down the ground like no big deal. If you're going to go to the trouble of trashing up your characters, can you please remember they're injured? Thanks.

~And why aren't his ribs wrapped?! Are his broken fingers even wrapped or did I just imagine that they were?

~Andrei's supposed to be protecting Lucas's life and keeps getting distracted by his lips and other stuff. Ugh!

~Insta-lust is boring to me on the best days, but when he's lusting after someone covered in cuts and bruises, I have to wonder about the character's mental state.

~Inconsistencies with established facts: Lucas's penthouse is initially described as three stories. Andrei only ever checks the first two stories. What's up with the third floor? Also, Andrei is described many times as being bigger than Lucas, but then suddenly Lucas is bigger than Andrei. Which is it?

 

The Bad:

~Rowe, Lucas and Snow (and Ian) are supposed to be these super tight BBFs but aside from Ian, all the other three seem to do is bicker, fight or strangle (yes, literally) each other at every turn. Just not feeling the unbreakable bond here.

~Lucas is so stupid that he goes off to the property he bought that's putting his life at risk to show off the night skyline view to Andrei. Andrei's so stupid that he actually takes Lucas there. 

~And that's only the first stupid thing they do in the first half. I don't doubt there is plenty more stupidity waiting in the second half.

~That sex scene up against the window is just logistically impossible the way it's written. Andrei's facing the window with his hands on the glass and Lucas is behind him. But then Lucas is suddenly giving Andrei a blowjob. How? Did he crawl between Andrei's legs when no one was looking?

~I kept hoping the glass would pop out of its casing and they'd plummet to their deaths like that Darwin Award winner, but they didn't. :(

~When I realized that I didn't even care enough to skip ahead to see who is targeting Lucas or why, I realized I just needed to put the book down.

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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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