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review 2018-01-06 21:50
Rock Hard (Rock Kiss Book 2) (Volume 2) - Nalini Singh

Re-read in January 2018

Charlotte Baird is the best friend of Molly Webster, the heroine from Rock Addiction. This book takes place simultaneously and portrays Charlotte's relationship with her overbearing new boss who she refers to as T-Rex. I was intrigued by this side plot in the first Rock Kiss book so I was super happy that it met all of my expectations.

I loved the portrayal of Charlotte and her journey to self-confidence after a horrific incident with an ex-boyfriend. Readers get hints about what happened, but I was not prepared for the details which made me admire Charlotte even more. She is intelligent and shy though she also has a spine of steel when pushed too far. There are many moments where she could have retreated back into her enclosed world, but she kept going and showed how strong she really was.

The aforementioned T-Rex whose real name is Gabriel Bishop is a former professional rugby player who is now known for bring businesses back from the brink of disaster. His first few days at his new company results in staff overhauls and plenty of tears, but he showed a keen sense of business smarts and a good heart. I liked that, while most of this book focused on Charlotte's development, it also deals with Gabriel's own difficult childhood and how it effects his current outlook on life.

Rock Hard has many elements that I adore in Nalini Singh's paranormal books like fully developed characters, romance that sweeps the reader off their feet, and well-written worlds. Even though this book is a contemporary romance, I can see Singh's skills at worldbuilding with her depiction of the company that Charlotte and Gabriel work for, the relationships between the workers, and especially the crazy Bishop family. I am hoping Gabriel's brother, Danny, will get his own story someday.

All in all, a truly entertaining read that is both sweet and sexy. This author is showing how skilled she is at writing romance whether it is contemporary or paranormal. Rock Hard is my favorite of the series so far.

I received a free e-ARC of this book from TKA Distribution via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2016-04-02 13:35
The ugliness of the spirit
Grotesque - Natsuo Kirino

I love an unreliable narrator. There’s something to be said for a straightforward narrative where the only unreliability is people being woefully unaware that the person they’re always arguing with is the person they’re secretly in love with, but sometimes I prefer something a little meatier. And this story of death, jealousy and hate – of other people and of oneself – is a twisting puzzle all the way through where you’re never sure who to believe. We get multiple, disagreeing accounts of the same events, testimonies which have been potentially tampered with and just people’s inability to see their own lives for what they are.


Our narrator is ostensibly describing the events leading up to the murders of her sister Yuriko and her high school … friend? .. Kazue, who were both working as prostitutes at the time of their murders. But what we learn most about is these three’s lives growing up.


Our nameless narrator hates and says she’s repulsed by or scared of her sister, who she says is so beautiful that she actually looks unreal, like a monster, and whose eyes are inhuman. Everyone is fascinated by her and men lust after her, and according to the narrator, hate her sister and their mom for not being as pretty and striking.


Reading the general narration is difficult. Not because of the writing – it’s actually both well-written and colloquial, very heavy on voice. But the narrator has a bitterness to her you don’t usually encounter. She describes things in the ugliest terms possible most times, and sometimes she’ll start out describing something in a kind or neutral way, but her thoughts dissolve into nastiness the moment the person does something she dislikes or perceives as a slight. It’s sort of fascinating, trying to work out what the truth is from what she says and sees. And at times we also delve into writings by other people – the two murdered women and the man accused of killing them. But the women’s journals are both filtered through our narrator, so it’s hard to believe they have been left untouched – especially Yuriko’s, where the narrator actually says she had to “rewrite” bits that were hard to read.


Meanwhile, the accused killer’s account is so self-serving and pity-seeking that it’s difficult to take at face value.


The tale is, like I said, about the two murders on the surface, but mainly it’s about these women, and about the way they view themselves in society. About the ways they try to take power over their lives and yet remain , in a way, trapped by a society in which they are only allowed a few specific roles. Be the good, subservient wife, regardless of your own internal life or desires; be the career woman, partly there for useful work and partly there for added office decoration for your male coworkers; or be the slut, carnal and disposable. And our characters all think they understand how the world works, but in the end, only maybe one does.


In the end, this is a book about tragic, haunting lives and the ruin that civilization and expectation can make of people. It was well worth the read and I think I’ll have to look up more by Natsuo Kirino.

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review 2015-10-09 23:43
Yo. This book is funny.
Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection - Kate Beaton

I wish I had the words to describe what Kate Beaton's humor is like. It's sort of absurd, highly unexpected and laced with an undertone of trying to teach you things (I know, right?) But trying to actually encapsulate why it's so hilarious to someone who hasn't read it before is an impossible task. You pretty much have to grab one of your favorite strips and hold it out to them and be like "This. This is why it's awesome."


And since it's so hard to describe the humor, it's pretty much impossible for me to explain why this is a hard 5-star book for me, other than that I find the humor to be actually laugh out loud funny and delve into things I didn't think of. From her jaded, cigarette-smoking Wonder Woman to historical figures hoping the people they hate will kill one another to the Strong Female Characters, explaining the strips doesn't sound like it should be funny.


But OMG. So funny.


All of Hark! A Vagrant is online I believe, so if you're not sure if it's for you, you might want to head over to her site and read a few strips. You'll know very quickly if her humor works for you, and if it does, I cannot recommend her books enough.


Unfortunately, there's not a lot to review. it's a gag a day style series, without an overarching plot, so I can't talk about characters or plot or anything. I CAN say if you have visual difficulties or if English isn't a fluent reading language for you, her hand-lettering MAY make reading the dialogue difficult. Just something to be warned about.


But basically - I love this book. I think everyone should at least give Kate Beaton a try if they like comedy, or history, or the arts, and especially all three at once.

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review 2015-09-17 12:09
Back to the Court
Gunnerkrigg Court Vol. 5 Refine - Thomas Siddell

One of the interesting things about reading the trade collection of a webcomic that you don't get so much with a more traditional comic collection is seeing things in greater context. Regular comics come in chunks of 20-32 pages usually, allowing for the story to be read as chapters. But for web comics, they're often released as individual pages.


For a gag-a-day, that's fine. But for story-driven comics, it can really make for a choppy storytelling flow. So you can let a few build up and read them as a chunk. But seeing the whole thing in one book, it gives the story all the context that can leak out in normal online presentation.


I loved Gunnerkrigg Court when I was reading it online, but there's so many things that reading it in book form make stronger. For instance, a lovely parallel between the stories that are being told about Annie and Kat by others - as the denizens of the forest begin telling myths and tall tales about Annie, the robots of the court are crafting something far more cult-like.


In this fifth volume, things are changing for our heroines. Kat is dealing with personal life issues she didn't see coming, as well as her ongoing quest to understand the advanced robots of the court. Meanwhile, after the disappointment of the announcement of the court's medium in the last book, Annie has come to terms with her new role, and is helping the court medium learn as well.


As always, the stories are funny and heartbreaking by turns, as we learn the truth about Rey's feelings about what he nearly did to Annie, the story of how Mort became a ghost, and just how much Annie and Kat mean to one another. Gunnerkrigg continues to be an absolutely stellar read, well worth the time for anyone who loves their fiction with a little magic and a lot of heart.

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review 2015-09-16 12:10
Fairy Tail, but cuter
Fairy Tail Blue Mistral 1 - Rui Watanabe,Hiro Mashima

Jesus, you guys, this book is so cute.


  1. CUTE.


Wendy is off on her first solo (sort of) mission for Fairy Tail. I say sort of because Carla, as one could expect, isn't about to let her go on her own. So the two of them set off to a village which is facing a strange phenomenon that they need help with. But when they get there, they find people are missing, and the spirit of a dragon killed long ago is the main suspect. Fear and suspicion are running rampant.


But in the midst of all this, Wendy encounters another girl her age, named Yoshino. She also has magic, and the two girls quickly become fast friends while trying to work out what's happening to the village.


Yoshino is a happy girl, and she doesn't for a moment believe a ghost is responsible for what's happening. I guess this makes sense - her father was injured by one of the ghost's attacks, and I imagine in part, she just wants to find whoever's behind it. But it might also be that she mostly seems to be a rational child, in her way.


If you've read Fairy Tail, you'll notice a change in the art here. For lack of a better way of putting it, it's very shojo. Features are softer and cuter. Rui Watanabe is the artist here, and their art captures the look of Fairy Tail while giving it a sweet, lovely look. You get pretty regular bubble frames and overlays, and comedic chibi asides. It's very... cute. :)


The story feels very Fairy Tail, though you'll probably work out at least part of what's going on pretty easily, and the book neatly ends this arc while offering a clear way forward for the next volume. It's a lovely little side story to Fairy Tail's monstrous main story.

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