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review 2017-06-24 21:13
Confessional (A Blake Harte Mystery, #2)
Confessional - John A. Ashley,Robert Innes

As I said on my DNF review of the first book in this series, Untouchable, there are good bones here. I feel like this author has a lot of potential but just isn't getting any kind of guidance at all. He clearly doesn't have an editor. Some of the grammatical issues from the first book are improved on - mostly - but many others remain. Many of the character interactions are more or less well done, though the author could use a better grasp on basic human psychology to avoid cliche pitfalls. There wasn't much to the mystery. It's formulaic and predictable. I had the whodunit pegged from the second they showed up on page, and I even had the murder method more or less figured out from the get-go.

I figured foxglove/digitalis sprinkled on the communion wafers; murderer went with hemlock in the communion wine.

(spoiler show)

The ending was filled with all the bad cliches; I was cringing, y'all. I couldn't get up the energy to even be remotely concerned about the welfare of the characters. It was obvious what was going to happen and it was just boring.

 

So yeah, there are good bones here, and if this author can find himself an editor or two who really know what they're doing, I can see him writing some great stories. But as of now, with one DNF and one 2.5 star read, I won't be bothering with any more from this writer.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-02-26 17:01
Embers (Common Law #2)
Embers (Common Law) - Kate Sherwood

And here's the unprofessional-professional, and here's where I check out of this series. 

 

*sigh*

 

I don't understand Jericho or what Sherwood is doing with his characterization. She wants me to believe this dude survived eight years in the Marines, four tours in Afghanistan (acquiring a Purple Heart, a Silver Star and a bachelor's degree all in that time), and went on to be a beat cop for the LAPD and eventually made detective. But here's the thing: Jericho's in idiot. He has no balls, no backbone, no brains; he's constantly being shoved around in one direction or another by everyone around him, not just his ubercrush Wade, and he does nothing about it except dig himself in deeper. Oh, but he has authority issues. If that's the case, how did he make it through boot camp? He survived four tours and eight years as a Marine but can't figure out how to get a gun out of someone's hand whose standing a mere three feet away from him? Really? He has authority issues but willingly lets himself be manipulated by Wade even after Wade says straight to his face that's what he's going to do? Jay needs to grow a pair and grow up.

 

At least Hockley shows some flexibility here and doesn't just keep up the "I'm a fed so I'm a jerkface for no other reason than I'm a fed" nonsense that he's had going on in the last book, but frankly, I'm getting close to being over the "locals vs the feds" nonsense that fiction writers just love to drool all over. There is at least an explanation of sorts in this one about why they're being such major tools. Kayla's tough and decisive where she can be, but really, by the time the feds are done with this town, I doubt she'll have anything resembling respect from her subordinates the way things are going right now.

 

As for the biker wars story - please. Just...that was the most convoluted plotline I've seen in awhile. And Nikki and her kids - honestly, I don't understand why Jericho gives a crap about any of them, when Nikki is constantly taking advantage of him and the kids are so horrible. Clearly, the only conclusion I can draw at this point is that he's a masochist. Which brings us to:

 

Wade Granger. Why am I supposed to give a crap about this dipshirt and Jericho's star-crossed obsession with him? If it really is star-crossed since Jericho's just barely pretending to act like a cop at this point. And is Jericho serious about his "if they made drugs legal then they wouldn't be a problem" logic? I guess he's a-OK with elementary school kids being used as mules and pushers, and teens getting hooked on this stuff and people OD-ing left and right and throwing their lives away for a high. But hey, if they're legal, then his ex-boyfriend would have a legitimate business enterprise and it'd be all good for them. Well, except the illegal weapons running and whatnot. Shoot, I guess we're just going to have to make that legal too. (And even if Wade ends up being revealed as being undercover (unlikely) or an informant (somewhat more likely) that still doesn't excuse Jericho's behavior up to this point.)

 

Writing is still good, but I have get off this stupid train.

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review 2017-02-20 23:56
Long Shadows (Common Law #1)
Long Shadows (Common Law Book 1) - Kate Sherwood

After finishing this book this morning and thinking it over for most of the day, I'm going to give this 3 "I liked it but..." stars. I think my opinion of this book is going to depend on where exactly Ms. Sherwood takes this series and these characters from here, as there is a lot left unresolved, so it's difficult to judge it on its own merits.

 

The "mystery," such as it was, was written pretty decently and was wrapped up in this book, so unlike my original impression of this so-called serial (these books are really too  long to call this a serial) where I assumed it was going to be one mystery extended over all four books, but it's actually a different case in each book. Ok, I guess Eli's murder might be the over-arching mystery, but again, I'll have to see how the rest of this series unfolds. Considering how little Jericho seemed to care about that, I can't see it carrying the weight of a four-book series. 

 

This book is fast-paced and the action is pretty well-written, and it doesn't keep you waiting to find out who is behind everything. Or rather, it doesn't keep the characters waiting the entire book to figure it what you figured out in the second chapter.

 

The writing in the establishing chapters that set up the premise and gives you most of the background on Jericho and the town is a bit clunky and info-dump-y. There's this bizarre scene where he's pulled into an interrogation room for absolutely no plausible reason right after he gets into town. It was head-scratch inducing, and the DEA agents are unreasonably hostile. There's some good humor here though, since Jericho is something of a wiseass. 

 

I liked Jericho well enough despite his at-times confusing motives, and so far he hasn't crossed into unprofessional-professional territory with Wade, who was Jericho's teen love and now the town's main crook. Kayla seems nice and everything but we don't really get to see much of her. She's a tough sheriff but doesn't mind bending a few "minor" laws here and there. Wade is... well... a crook and it's questionable at this point just how cold-hearted or ruthless he is or isn't, though his criminal activity doesn't leave much wiggle room for me to form a good opinion of him. Nikki is a complicated character and I'm not sure what to make of her or her kids at this point either. 

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review 2017-01-18 04:11
Untouchable (Blake Harte Mystery #1) - DNF @ 22%
Untouchable (The Blake Harte Mysteries Book 1) - Robert Innes

I could've muddle through the dry prose, I really could have. It lacked emotion, but it wasn't all telling/no showing. There was an attempt at showing in between all the info-dumping. But there were two things I just could not deal with:

 

1) The domestic abuse angle. It requires finesse and skill to tell this kind of story right, and I just wasn't feeling it here. It was very textbook. Maybe the execution of this plot line gets better as the story progresses, but I didn't have the patience to find out.

 

2) The grammar is terrible. Words are randomly capitalized in the middle of sentences. And Innes consistently, without fail, uses incorrect punctuation in all his dialogue. All of it.

 

"I'm going to the store." She said. - Incorrect.
"I'm going to the store," she said. - Correct.

 

This is Basic English 100.

 

Still, there are good bones here, considering this is the first story by this author. A better editor and some more filling in the corners, and you've got a promising story. It just isn't this story.

 

I can't comment on how the mystery aspect of it unfolds since I didn't get to that part before I gave up.

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review 2017-01-12 01:59
Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1) - DNF @ 80%
Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children) - Seanan McGuire

Gather 'round, boys and girls, while I tell you a lovely and empowering tale of a girl who was enslaved to a vampire, a girl who was forced to become the equivalent of Igor, an ace girl who was forced to stand perfectly still for days/weeks at a time so she wouldn't piss off her undead overlord, a trans boy who got to fight in some sort of war for a place that didn't want him because of his trans cooties, a Latino boy who lived in a real life Dia de las Muertas (because where else would a Latino want to be?), and a girl who...did something...somewhere...? Um, jazz hands? *shrugs*

 

Listen to their fascinating stories that they barely even tell you about while they pine away wishing they were back in their nightmare fuel worlds because apparently this is where their hearts wanted to be more than their own lives. But this isn't Narnia. Have no fear! There will be no actual adventures or grand battles or anything resembling bonding or friendship! Nope. Instead, you'll get a bunch of teens whining about not being able to butcher people anymore. Or not being able to drink pomegranate juice anymore. Because apparently we don't have that on Earth. Or not being able to live amongst the spiders anymore because I guess she doesn't have a cupboard under the stairs. Or... seriously, WTF is wrong with these people?!

 

I started skimming around 45% because the pacing was as slow as Nancy's gait, and I was trying to find anything resembling actual exposition, but it just wasn't here. There was an attempt at a murder mystery -

that the school's principal covers up so the kids wouldn't be sent back to their families - and she makes the kids cover it up for her.

(spoiler show)

So that happens. And if I had known this was going to become an attempt at a horror-inspired murder mystery, I could've told you who would be the first victim, because those racial and gender tropes just refuse to die.

 

Ok, I admit, a couple of these kids do have family lives that sound pretty awful. I can see why they'd want to do a Harry Potter or Tom Riddle and stay at Warped Hogwarts forever. But the others just sound like they're "misunderstood" and oh, isn't that horrible! No one gets them! How can they possibly be expected to go on?!!! 

 

Well, I'm one of the ones who doesn't get them. Maybe it's because I didn't hate my childhood growing up. Maybe it's because the author does next to nothing to actually explain anything. And advocates running away from your problems. Not that there aren't some instances where running is totally valid - to save your life, for instance. But I just didn't get the sense that was the case for most of the kids here. And I really got zero explanation for why they would prefer these nightmare worlds they fell into. There's a sort of explanation that whatever door opens for you is the one that you need based on your heart's desire or something. But WHY? Like,

one girl doesn't want to be the pretty twin her whole life, so she goes to a world where she gets to slaughter dogs and harvest their organs for science - so she can be smart. Um... you know, we have science here too, right? And you don't have to slaughter dogs to study it. IJS.

(spoiler show)

 

At around 80% I got tired of skimming looking for "good" parts (there weren't any) and just skipped all the way to end to see who the murderer was - not like it was particularly hard to guess - and kind of skimmed the end to see how it was wrapped up.

 

This was just... a mess, y'all. Terrible structure, terrible exposition, terrible characters, terrible worldbuilding. 

 

Yay diversity! But boo to everything else. Can't recommend this one.

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