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review 2017-11-04 21:22
Enjoy the Dance (Dancing #2) (Audiobook)
Enjoy the Dance - Iggy Toma,Heidi Cullinan,Heidi Cullinan

Story: 3 stars

Narration: 4 stars

Overall: 3.5 stars

 

Turns out, waiting around for election results is just as boring in a book as in real life. The timeline for this book covers some important and groundbreaking moments for gay rights and equality, and while those are moments worth celebrating, I felt like the author got so caught up in chronicling every single one that she kind of forgot to tell a story, and that story was Duon.

 

Duon is the catalyst for this story, since Spencer finds the boy outside his apartment while Duon is waiting for Tomas, Spencer's across-the-hall neighbor, to come back from one of his three jobs. It's seeing Duon's predicament - beat up by his own cousins, kicked out by his grandmother, and homeless - that compels Spencer, a former foster care kid himself, to take Duon in and give him a home and family. Tomas, who is suspicious of the system for several reasons, is at first wary of Spencer, but comes to see his good qualities and eventually the two fall in love. And in between Spencer finding a family, Tomas trying to keep his family together, there's this kid that gets shuffled to the background for the majority of the story even though it's because of him that all of this is happening. It felt like the book was disconnected from itself, and while there was just enough to see that Spencer and Duon do care for each other, that relationship is really only ever given lip service. The same is true of Tomas's nieces and nephew. We're told they exist, as they're part of the reason Tomas has so many jobs, but we don't see them much at all.

 

I did like how the relationship developed between Spencer and Tomas though. Tomas's mom was a hoot (but oy, vey, that accent) and his father was pretty great too. There's a lot of Laurie and Ed in this one, and it was cool to see how they took care of everyone around them. I especially like how Laurie was able to calm down a nervous Spencer to convince him to learn tap dance. Seeing Spencer and Tomas let their guards down with each other was a treat, and they were able to understand each others' struggles and support each other despite their different backgrounds. 

 

The narration was as good here as in the first one. Iggy Toma has a new fan. :D 

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review 2017-10-31 02:14
Dance With Me (Dancing #1) (Audiobook)
Dance With Me - Heidi Cullinan

I don't know why I took so long to listen to this, but I really enjoyed it. Ed is trying to get his life back on track after a major injury sidelined him from playing football ever again, and Laurie (short for Laurence) has been hiding from performing while teaching at a community center. They're both at odds with themselves, and initially with each other until they rediscover their love of dance together.

 

I have a few minor quibbles with some of the early plotting, but overall I really enjoyed watching Laurie and Ed getting over their initial dislike of each other through dance and how they were able to help each other find that thing that's been missing in their lives. I liked that their challenges were believable and didn't just magically disappear because of love. Ed still has a serious neck injury. Laurie still has a long road before he's fully comfortable performing again. 

 

This was my first narration by Iggy Toma and he was great. I really loved the nuance he gave to his performance and the characters, and he captured them all well. He speaks clearly and with feeling, and makes the story come alive. I look forward to more stories read by him. 

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review 2017-06-16 04:52
Infected: Shift (Infected #5)
Infected: Shift - Andrea Speed

I'll be honest. Since this was the last book in the Dreamspinner bundle, I was ready to quit the series here. Up to this point, the stories were good, with some brilliance hiding in amongst the mediocre, and the characters were compelling but at the same time not exactly giving me much to come back to. Most of my issues with this series to date has been the author's writing style, which I've detailed over the previous reviews, and there's just no real way to get around that no matter how promising the premise. I'm not sure what happened with this book, if this is a sign of the author's growth as a writer or the editors doing their job, but while there were still some of the issues present, they were far less numerous and much less annoying. With those out of the way, and two well-done and well-written cases, the writing was finally able to get out my way so I could enjoy the story - if that makes sense. (Though it's not completely without side-eye, hence the half-star off the rating.) 

 

Oh, and there are hockey players. Clueless, lovable, batcrap crazy dude-broing hockey players. :D I loved the Falcons and the dynamic they brought to the story and really hope to see them again. It doesn't make sense. It's like trying to squeeze The Mighty Ducks into an episode of Thundercats (which itself is really more like an episode of Fringe pretending to be an episode of Thundercats), and yet somehow it works.

 

I should probably slap an "unprofessional professional" on this story but it seems a little late for that. Roan's never really walked the line anyway, and while he should've had his PI license revoked about three books ago, there's no denying he gets the job done. And those jobs are getting messier, more dangerous and much more personal. I guess I have more of a vigilante streak than I thought I did, because instead of headshaking at the dude (or at Holden), I'm rooting them on. Seriously, these scumbags deserve it. 

 

There are some ups and downs for Dylan and Roan too, and I'm getting to the point where I'd like to see more of Dylan's POV, especially with all the challenges he faces in this book. Telling me he's doing 'y' because of what he did after 'x' just doesn't cut it. I want to see it, and I hope we get that in the next book. Because I will be reading it. I'm in it for the long haul after this and can only hope the series doesn't backslide after getting this much needed boost.

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review 2017-04-05 03:12
Play Dead (Glasgow Lads #3.5)
Play Dead - Avery Cockburn

This is the ending I wanted for Playing To Win. Playing To Win set up this great and fantastic dynamic between Colin, a poor uni student and football player who grew up on government benefits, and Lord Andrew, who is obviously very much the opposite of that. I've always loved their dynamic, because while there was no pretending that Andrew holds more power socially, politically and financially than Colin ever will, Andrew willfully gives up power in the bedroom - and Colin is more than able to take control. Seeing Andrew slowly have his eyes peeled open about social injustices and seeing how they both have their insecurities based around their family dynamics made Playing To Win a real treat. And then it ended rather abruptly, with all the plot threads summarized and wrapped up in a pretty bow without showing us how any of that happened. I was bummed!

 

So getting this novella, which deals with the aftermath of Colin's and Andrew's assault, finally filled in some of those things that were skipped. Andrew's struggles with his PTSD felt real and not melodramatic, which for this drama queen is saying a lot. Colin's struggles to get back into physical shape to start playing football again were also given their due attention. I still would've liked more with Andrew's family but what we do see is well written. 

 

As some of you may know by now, I don't read BDSM, so I skipped the one scene that included it. I did skim the beginning and end of the scene, enough to get the gist of what happened, and the following chapter filled in all relevant information. I didn't feel like I missed anything important, and getting to see Colin take such great care of Andrew following that scene

which ended because Andrew started having a panic attack during it

(spoiler show)

just made me appreciate their relationship more. These two are so adorable and perfect together, I could squish them! So if you're hesitant to read this because of the BDSM, rest assured it can be skipped. 

 

Oh, and as for Evan? I need his story NOW! He just got a billion times more interesting.

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review 2017-03-11 03:09
Just Juliet
Just Juliet - Charlotte Reagan

This was just okay. It was all very...nice. And simple. And low angst. All problems were safely in the past. All new problems were easily surmounted and quickly put behind them.

 

The first third was promising. Lena finds out she's attracted to a girl, doesn't freak out, does some googling and instead of going GFY figures out she's bisexual. So that was good. The James's are a great, fun, close-knit family. Lena and Juliet's first date was pretty rad and adorable.

 

And then it just sort of meanders and keeps going way past the point it should have ended because there really wasn't much of a plot. It goes through all the tradition coming out tropes - telling the bestie, telling the family, telling the world - but there's no real emotion to anything. We're told what Lena's feeling, but I never felt it myself. Scott and Lakyn were...confusing. Scott is a well-rounded character and very mature and provides Lena with some good advice. Lakyn, who has been through some terrible times, is shy and a jerk and whenever he speaks, I kept seeing him as twelve instead of seventeen. But as a couple, other than being the cute gay couple, they didn't really add anything to the story.

 

The writing is technically pretty good, though dry, just a few stray typos and just one or two questionable word choices. There's a lot of telling in the later part of the book, versus showing. The characters are pretty one-note, and the way Lacey, the "token black kid," is introduced doesn't get improved upon as the story progresses. I know all these kids are, well, kids, but even my friends weren't throwing around this many sexist slurs when we were that age. Every single time any girl (usually Lacey) did anything questionable or assertive or not-nice, she's described as bitchy. Really? I don't know if the author is aware of the "black girls are more promiscuous" stereotype, but Lacey unfortunately inhabits that too. And the gay "jokes" were pretty terrible and also usually spoken by Lacey. Lacey just gets terrible treatment through most of the book. For a "gay friendly" book, there is a lot of low-key homophobia. 

 

This started promising but just became meh by the end and I had to force myself to finish.

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