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review 2019-03-01 04:10
A Little Side of Geek (Geek Life #1)
A Little Side Of Geek - Marguerite Labbe

2.75 stars rounded up.

 

This is a case of "I liked this, but..."

 

This never really gelled for me. The start of Morris and Theo's relationship was supposed to be a fling, because they were both attracted to each other but didn't have time for a relationship. As a result, I never really cared about their first couple of encounters because I didn't feel any chemistry between the characters or have any sense of why they liked each other beyond their looks, which were just barely described. They do quickly realize that they get along quite well and there are some great scenes with them later on, but it took a little too long to get there and I never quite bought into the relationship.

 

I really liked the relationship between Theo and his younger brother Lincoln, who Theo became guardian of after their parents died a year before. Lincoln was a believable teen, and Theo was over his head at some points but managed to mostly keep it together. He messes up at times, but they talk things out. I would've liked for Jill to be developed beyond "tough sister who works while she's preggers" ... like every other woman in the history of ever.

 

A couple of other issues I had was the redundancy of information and the time jumps. While the story takes place over several months, there was no real way to keep track of just how much time was passing between scenes. Some things that I wanted to see on page, particularly near the end with some of Theo's other siblings, were skipped over entirely and I can't help but think there would have been more page time for those scenes if the redundancy had been cut down. There were also two chapters that had different POVs from Theo or Morris, and they felt random and unnecessary (except they have to set up the other books in the series). These could also have been left out without missing anything and more time could have been given to Morris and Theo.

 

There was one point where it started tilting into drama llama territory, and it felt completely out of character. Thankfully, it didn't go full-tilt and managed to pull it together just in time, but the scene still felt manufactured.

 

It was a strange reading experience. When I was into it, I was really into it. But when I wasn't, it all fell flat and felt uninspired. I don't think I'll be reading the next one. I'm not really endeared to Felipe after this book so I'm not really looking to read a whole book about him and his love interest. I'm guessing the third will be about Brenden and Dakota, who I'm also not interested in, so this'll probably be it for me and this series.

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review 2018-12-23 20:07
The Ghost Had an Early Check-Out (TGWYS #2)
The Ghost Had an Early Check-Out - Josh Lanyon

The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks was one of the earliest Lanyon books I read, after Fair Game and the Adrien English series. I adored Perry and really liked Nick. The atmosphere of the old house full of crazies was perfectly written and eerily portrayed, and the mystery was engaging and just as zany as the people in the house. I've read that book at least three times and enjoyed it more each time.

 

However, it wasn't a book or a pairing that was crying out for a sequel. Even so, I was one of the ones (semi-)excited when the sequel was first announced a few years ago. But I was nervous too because so many of the JL's books lately just haven't appealed to me or haven't lived up to those earlier books, so I went into this with mixed feelings.

 

This was painfully average. Once again, I found myself asking "who wrote this" while I was reading it because this isn't the JL of ten years ago, or even of five years ago. The writing was adequate but there was no real sense of atmosphere or the space this story was taking place in, which is too bad because she really could've done a lot with this setting of a broken down hotel full of B-movie horror props. The characters were zany but randomly so, as if their characteristics were chosen by throwing darts at a board. They didn't play off each other very well at all, and there was so little interaction with them - or maybe they were just so forgettable - that I couldn't really keep them straight, even though this only took a little over a day to read. The mystery was all over the place and didn't even make any sense. There are just too many unanswered questions, and it felt like Lanyon was just making things up on the fly instead of plotting out the mystery elements ahead of time.

 

Most importantly, Nick and Perry's relationship was just there. Because they're a couple and in the same book. It was barely touched upon. They have next to no conflicts in their relationship. Nick is gone a lot because he's the low man on the totem pole at work and has to do the overnight and away assignments, but Perry's busy with work (whatever that is) and school and his paintings, so while he misses Nick it's not really an issue for him. Perry's homesick, but that's hardly touched on either. Nick misses Perry but that's just mentioned in passing. He's frustrated their rare weekend together is being hogged up with a silly mystery in an old house, but other than a couple of short conversations about it, it's also not really an issue. So there was no real development, either individually or as a couple. There was only one sex scene - interrupted thank God, because it was averagely written as the rest of this.

 

I have to say, I finished this and had to wonder why this story was even necessary. Maybe a lot of this could have been improved if the story had been longer, but then we'd still be waiting for it.  

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review 2018-11-07 15:32
Artists in Crime
Artists in Crime - Ngaio Marsh

I really had a hard time getting into this book as it started on a cruise and then moved to English countryside with the detective being called back from vacation early to look into a murder of an artist's model on her throne. 

 

While the book provided some good information about artists and their ways of working and was okay, I just couldn't get into the story. I even had to use audio to finish the story. 

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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 2018-06-16 05:43
Lima Oscar Victor Echo and the Truth About Everything
Lima Oscar Victor Echo and The Truth About Everything - Suki Fleet

I decided to start using my lunch breaks to try to get through some of these DRitC stories I've had sitting on my Kindle for the past two+ years. This was the first one. And might be the last one.

 

It had it's cute moments, don't get me wrong. The few short scenes that Oscar and Jamie actually spend on page together, it was easy to see why they're such good friends, and why they would be great as something more. They just don't get to spend a lot of time together - even though they're best friends and work in the same record store four days out of the week. *shrug*

 

But in the end it didn't really hold my interest. If you've read even a handful of friends-to-lovers or GFY stories (though this isn't GFY but teases at it for most of the story) then you can predict every single step the plot takes from beginning to end. It has ALL the tropes, including but not limited to:

 

~Dudes who don't talk about feelings.
~Dudes who angst about not being able to talk about feelings.
~Dudes who are so terrible with feelings that they're not even sure what feelings they're feeling and they don't know how to feel about that. :(
~The female bestie who likes to meddle. Because someone's gotta move this plot forward.
~The ex-girlfriend who conveniently shows up to throw a wrench in the clockwork, though really the guys not talking to each other does that just fine on its own.

 

If you like those tropes, then you'll enjoy this story a lot more than I did.

 

On top of that, there are several dropped plot lines that really didn't need to be crammed into this novella. There are inconsistencies as well. Jamie and Oscar seem to have been besties since forever, but Oscar never met Jamie's mom even though she only died a year before, and Jamie only met Oscar's dad once. At one point, it's mentioned that Jamie opens the shop - but then later on, he doesn't have the keys to close it. Huh?

 

And then it just ends in the middle of a scene. What?!

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