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review 2016-01-22 20:09
A Seditious Affair by K.J. Charles
A Seditious Affair - K.J. Charles

This is my first five star review in a long time.  Such good writing, characters, plot, everything.  It was a tough read, largely because the suspense was so intense and I was so scared for the main characters. I tend to avoid historicals for the same reason I avoid dystopians - even if the main characters get a happy ending, they are never really safe and people all around them have sucky lives. And I can't say it isn't the case here.  It was just worth it. Now that I am finished I only like it better for what it put me through.



I tend to avoid Regencies (even when I read historicals) because as a longterm Jane Austen fan, the inevitable anachronisms annoy the hell out of me. That didn't happen once here.  This is set just a bit later than JA's novels, and it is in the city instead of JA's usual country (or Bath) so I admit I might not notice errors as much.  


I loved the political background to this story.  I actually would have liked a bit more of it, but I am probably the only person on earth who thinks that, so I am just happy with what I got.  I liked how the views of every character made sense from their position.  From my vantage, of course I like Silas's democratic views.  But in the shadow of the French revolution, Dominic has a point about the bad roads revolutions tend to lead down.


The characters' actions made sense too. Silas, for example, was incredibly foolhardy, but he was exhausted and scared and cold and hungry - even a sober, careful person isn't the most rational under those circumstances (and Silas isn't sober or careful at the best of times).  He held to what he knew to be true - it was wrong that society was set up to benefit only the upper crust and everyone else had to starve and do without justice.  


The audio was really excellent.  The voices and accents really added to the pleasure.

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review 2015-04-18 00:57
Axel's Pup by Kim Dare
Axel's Pup (Werewolves & Dragons Book 1) - Kim Dare
Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts - Lyn Gala

The most interesting part of this book for me was the treatment of werewolves in society.  The system of laws was similar to apartheid or Jim Crow, where the wolves have to follow all the laws humans do and many more, but no human has to follow laws with respect to wolves.  It brings to mind the famous Dred Scott case that said slaves and descendants of slaves had "no rights which the white man was bound to respect."  Werewolves aren't slaves anymore, but they aren't citizens either. There are signs toward the end of the book that a civil rights movement is beginning to gather momentum, which made it easier for me to read about.


Werewolves do have some natural advantages that help them survive in this nasty and unfair world.  They are naturally tough and strong - good fighters and hard to kill.  Many of them make a living with sex work or fighting (or both).  They take the view that since they aren't owned anymore, they always have a choice, even if it is only the choice to submit to poor treatment rather than bringing more trouble on themselves. I admired their coping mechanisms, though it was hard to read about.


Bayden is a werewolf and a natural submissive, and it makes things very hard for him when he falls for a human dominant, Axel.  Everything in his experience says don't trust humans, and certainly don't give them any control over you or let them find out anything they can use against you. It is a long process for him to learn to trust, and that made sense. The book dragged for me during this part because I am not that interested in motorcycle riding, bars, or BDSM scenes.  


I actually picked up this book because I am always looking for 24/7 BDSM books that I can really get.  The idea kind of fascinates me, but usually I just can't relate.  The best book on that score has been Claimings, Tails and Other Alien Artifacts (and its sequel). The alien culture is so different, while making so much sense on its own terms, that it worked for me.   I figured this book, where one of the characters is a werewolf might work for similar reasons.


This book didn't work as well for me as Claimings, but it was less confusing and annoying than most, because I did feel that everything Axel did was in Bayden's best interests.  Axel made mistakes, but he plainly wasn't being selfish or self indulgent. I still don't get why they each want and need this kind of relationship, but if I take it for granted that they do it seems like a good one. I definitely liked this book better than Duck! The world building was much better and the dom was much more competent and likable.


I am not sure if I will read more books in the series.  If the civil rights aspects are emphasized I probably will, but if it is mostly motorcycles and sex scenes, probably not.  Since 90% of the readership would probably prefer it the other way around, I am guessing I will be disappointed!



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review 2015-02-19 02:13
Brute by Kim Fielding
Brute - Kim Fielding

I read a Cracked article recently about how, as you grow older, it becomes harder to enjoy certain things in movies.  Instead of enjoying the car chase you feel feel bad for the people being plowed down. Instead of admiring the loner who picks up and leaves, you think he's a dick for abandoning his family.  That sort of thing.


I don't know that it is really age related, because I have always had a soft spot for the bystanders and side characters in stories.  And that is why I had a hard time enjoying this book.  Brute's world is horrible, not just for him but for everyone who suffers any sort of misfortune or disability.  


When the story starts, we learn how abused and mistreated Brute has been.  He is big and ugly, and his parents were despised by the locals, so he is picked on, abused, cheated by his employer and miserable in every way.  His town is an awful place, and it is a relief when he leaves.  But then he gets to the big city and you realize that it isn't the town that is awful - it is the whole society.  People starve and freeze to death.  A guy who has lost both hands is left to sit in the street and beg.  There is apparently no hint of any sort of safety net, and no one has any problem with this.  At one point, Brute tries to get someone in charge to help him find a beggar who is about to freeze to death, and the guy in charge refuses and points out that people would be pissed if they were asked to help beggars.


It's a good story, it's well written, and I liked the two main characters.  But I am just too soft hearted for this sort of story.

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review 2014-07-28 04:20
Meatworks by Jordan Castillo Price
Meatworks - Jordan Castillo Price

Warning for some spoilers below.  This isn't really a plot driven book, but I do mention some details from near the end of the book.


I am not surprised that this one didn't end up quite working for me, but I am a bit surprised by the reason.  I was warned that Desmond is a very hard character to like (especially at the beginning), and that the romance is on the weak side. But by the end, both the characters and the romance pretty much did work for me.  What left a sour taste in my mouth and will probably keep me from reading this one again is the crapsack world and the fact that characters I grew to like still have to live there.


(Crapsack world: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CrapsackWorld)


At the beginning, Desmond really is everything I was warned about.  He has had something awful happen to him, but he is so determined to make the worst of it at every turn that it is frustrating.  He didn't sound like much of a winner even before his accident, and now he refuses to learn to use his prosthetic hand and resists every effort of the social services system to help him.  They have to threaten to cut off his disability payments just to get him to show up for a support group meeting, and he is an ass to everyone there.  Up until about the 50% mark, it is nearly all self destructive and unpleasant behavior. If I hadn't Kindle borrowed this book (and thus been forced to finish it within two weeks) I might have gotten bogged down and given up, at least for a while.


Right about 50%, Desmond starts to get a clue.  He finds a reason to learn to use his hand, tries to become a better boyfriend to Corey and friend to his ex, Jim, and faces up to some really horrific memories.  I can deal with a lot of depression and self-destructive behavior, and even whining, if the character has a good reason for being the way he is and he is trying and getting better.  I adore Vic from the Psycop series, for example.


There were moments in this part of the book that were great - I am thinking about the Sea Monkeys bits and when Corey keeps handing Desmond the bolt cutters, to Desmond's bewilderment. And when Desmond visits the scene of his accident and realizes how badly he was betrayed by his longterm "friends". And Desmond fixing his refrigerator.


But this part of the book was weighing down on me for another reason - the world they all had to live in.  The city was pretty damned depressing in its rustbelt squalor, but what was worse was the people, and particularly everyone involved with social services.  At first I was annoyed with Desmond (and Corey for that matter) for their resistance to what seemed like very reasonable requirements - attending support groups, seeing a psychiatrist, learning job skills.  But every single person and experience was worse than useless.  Every professional (and volunteer) was incompetent and usually spiteful as well. The job sites were actively dangerous.  I realized that both Desmond and Corey were depressed, and had been since before their respective injuries, but to the extent they came out of it, it wasn't because of anyone or anything around them, but in spite of those things.


I actually found the romance to be fairly satisfying.  I like their chemistry and the way they seem to challenge each other and wake each other up.  I just wish they weren't stuck in grimdark city.

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