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review 2018-02-15 04:22
Bridged (Callahan & McLane #2) (Audiobook)
Bridged - Kendra Elliot

CW (because I forgot for the first one): drug addiction of a side character (family member of an MC)

 

So as with the first book, this is dual narration, which is still not my favorite. But also as with the first one, each narrator does a great job with their individual parts. It's a catch-22 any time this situation comes up. *shrugs*

 

The author is also continuing with the villain POV, though I thought it was better integrated here and the reveals as to why he was doing what he was doing and how he was connected to the victims was handled better. Still don't really care for villain POV in mysteries like this, but she does it better than most.

 

There was one thought that kept niggling at the back of my mind while listening to this: how much time exactly had passed since the previous book. If they mentioned it, I didn't catch it, but it didn't seem like a whole heck of a lot of time had passed. Yet already Mason and Ava are practically living together and act like they've been a couple for years instead of still getting to know each other. I'm not sure I really buy that level of synchronicity so soon into a relationship. 

 

Also, Ava was shot in the shoulder at the end of the previous book and she's still going to physical therapy for the injury - but she's already cleared for field duty? Um...if you say so. She should either still be on desk duty (and did she even do a psyche eval?) or there should have been a lot more time between books. There was really no need for this book to pick up so soon after the previous one.

And given all the injuries poor Ava sustains again at the end of this book, there really better be adequate time between books - and psyche evals better actually happen for both her and Mason. Jeez.

 

Really, is Ava going to be severely injured at the end of every book? Can she not? Surely it's Mason's turn next. :D

(spoiler show)

 

The mystery itself was interesting up to a point.

It kind of stretches believability that every single one of the victims still lived in the Seattle area after nearly two decades. The congressman and Derrick I can see staying put, and even Joe since he was a slacker. But the other two could have just as easily moved out of state and realistically probably would have given what happened all those years ago.

 

Also, it was rather convenient that Jane was date one of the potential victims. Because of course she was.

(spoiler show)

Still, it was better paced than the previous book, as I mentioned before, and it was odd enough to keep my attention even after I figured out what was going on. The lead up to the climax looked like we were headed toward Silly Town but the author was mostly able avoid it. And I like how Mason and Ava were able to remain professional (fancy that!) and keep their cool under pressure. 

 

I'm starting to get annoyed with Jane. Ava reminds me of those parents who constantly bail their kids out of trouble so they don't have to face the consequences of their actions and then are amazed when said kids have no moral compass or impulse control. Ava, you're doing sisterhood wrong. 

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review 2018-02-11 02:09
Men of the Cross (Battle Scars #1) - DNF @ 32%
Men of the Cross (Battle Scars Book 1) - Charlene Newcomb

So Stephan knows a bloke named Robin, and on the road they meet and befriend a couple of pickpockets with hearts of gold named Allan and Little John. Hmmmm... I wonder where this is going. Look, if you want to write a Robin Hood retelling, then do that. Don't make them side characters. It's just distracting. And really, after reading The Wode series by J Tullos Hennig, there's just no way this can come close to that series. This really just made me want to reread The Wode instead.

 

I'm by no means an expert of this time period, so I didn't know the battle of Messina was recounted inaccurately or that King Richard admired Saladin, or any other number of things that others have noted are poorly researched. However, it did feel off that Henry and Stephan and Robin all treat Richard like just another dude bro, and that Henry and Stephan are such experts at a longbow when that was rather a rarity back then. 

 

I did like the banter between Henry and Stephan, and I could buy that they'd befriend a couple of wayward pickpockets once they proved they wouldn't rob them blind in the middle of the night. There's a lot of promise here, but the writing wasn't particularly gripping and it lacked detail. Even the action scenes were kind of boring me. 

 

Time to move on!

 

(Side note: The KU selection has not been particularly promising so far. So many DNFs.)

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review 2018-02-08 05:15
Vanished (Callahan & Mclane #1) (Audiobook)
Vanished - Kendra Elliot

Right away, this audiobook has one of my least favorite things: dual narrators. Both narrators do a decent job with their respective POVs, but having to hear two different sets of voices for all the characters is just annoying. I also thought the guy more natural than the female narrator, though she did grow on me over time. Just please, if you're going to pay for the expense of two narrators, put them in the studio together and assign them parts instead of POVs. It can only improve the product.

 

The author also does the thing I like least in mysteries: gives us the POV of the perp. Let me figure it out! Then again, this perp was so ridiculously out of left field, that giving us all the villain cliches via bad pseudo psychology wasn't going to hurt it too much. :D

 

What I did like about this was the relationships between all the characters. Mason's got a family tree that makes the Brady Bunch look like child's play, and they all get along. No snipping or vindictive exes, no patronizing new husbands to threaten the old husband. They're all adults, they all put the children first and they all put their egos aside. So that was refreshing. Jake has to suffer stupidity at the exact wrong moment for the sake of Plot and Climax, but other than that, they're all pretty well written. 

 

Ava's the one with the mixed up family dynamics, since she has a narcissistic twin sister who screws up her life every time they come in contact. That dynamic was actually pretty well done too.

 

And suddenly this is a romance. LOL. I didn't expect that and honestly don't think the story needed that, but whatever. Mason and Ava fall "in love" over four days. Ok, sure. But it was neat to see them work together and respect each other, and for the tough, intelligent woman not to turn into a bimbo as soon as she found true love, which tends to happen too often in M/F. 

 

Overall, this is a pretty decent start to the series. I can live with the dual narration, but I hope we don't get any more villain POVs. 

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review 2018-02-03 22:07
Lap Dog (Shelter #2)
Lap Dog: Book Two of the Shelter Series - Kate Sherwood

Dang you, Sherwood! I was supposed to quit this book halfway through in a boiling rage, ready to rip Simon a new one. Instead, I grudgingly liked him by 25% and was rooting for him about halfway through and just hoping everything would work out. 

 

 

This still isn't perfect. Simom Yeung is the first prominent main character who is Chinese-American in any of Sherwood's books that I've read, and he's in a crime family. Really? And just because the characters call this out doesn't really take away from the problems of this, just as having them call out the old school family honor/respect stereotypes doesn't really mean she's not using those stereotypes. 

 

Yet despite that, this was a great story. I don't know if I'd categorize it Romance (™) but Simon and Tristan do come to first respect each other, then kind of like each other, then warily admire each other and finally care for each other. I didn't think it was possible from the initial set up that opens the story, but their journeys and getting to know each other were well-paced and given the time to really breathe, despite all the chaos going on around them. The resolution was perhaps too easy and convenient, but I honestly don't care because I wanted these two to get their HEAs - not just with each other but for themselves as well. They still have things to figure out about their new lives though, so there's more room to tell more stories about them later. (And hopefully resolve a few more of those dangling threads that didn't get addressed here.) 

 

It was also great seeing Shane and Noah again, and seeing glimpses of their relationship throughout. They even get a short story interlude at the end of the main story. It felt more like it was there to explain why Shane doesn't label himself asexual (though he is clearly on the spectrum) but whatever label someone wants to use or not use is up to them.

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review 2018-02-03 02:41
Killman Creek (Stillhouse Lake #2)
Killman Creek - Rachel Caine

This book picks up a little after where the first one ends, and keeps the action going pretty well throughout. We get not just Gwen's POV in this one, but also Sam, Connor and Lanny.  While I wish their POVs had sounded more unique to their characters, it wasn't too much of a detriment. The chapters flow smoothly and it was never confusing which POV I was reading.

 

I did start finding the various twists and reveals to be over the top. The more that got piled on this whole dark net network, the less seriously I was able to take it. It reached the point of ludicrous, which I'm pretty sure wasn't the author's intention. Also, there was a serious plot hole with Connor

being slipped a cell phone that belongs to his dad. The phone is supposed to look exactly like the one that Connor's mom got him at the beginning of the first book. However, Sam gets everyone new matching smart phones at the beginning of this book because they were all supposed to ditch their old phones. So why is no one questioning why Connor still has a phone that looks like his old one?

(spoiler show)

that makes his whole storyline rather unbelievable. 

 

Still, this is probably one of the few times I wasn't yelling at characters for being TSTL because their actions and motivations actually made sense to them and their situations. So bonus points for that. Though I did find it rather convenient that they didn't question at least some of those twists and turns sooner.

 

There's been a third book announced, but I have no idea where Ms. Caine can go with this without tormenting her characters more than is actually necessary (I say while reading A Song of Ice and Fire). Also, the plot is pretty well wrapped up here, so this may just be where I leave the series. 

Maybe the letter at the end is more important than we were supposed to think at the time? But even the letter doesn't make sense, because for Melvin to have written it, he'd have to have believed there'd be a chance he would lose. And no way would he ever entertain that idea.

(spoiler show)
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