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review 2017-05-20 05:46
Infected: Life After Death (Infected #3)
Infected: Life After Death - Andrea Speed

Aw, poor Roan. :(

 

There were a lot of heartfelt and bittersweet moments in this installment, which again gives us two books in one. Roan's mourning has been significant, and while he's now back in the land of the living, he's still not yet finished mourning. His depression has also hit an all-time low, even with friends and a possible new love interest making sure he doesn't retreat back into himself. 

 

The characters continue to be the strong point of this series. Paris still has a presence here, especially in Book 1, and his wish to see Roan looked after is very much fulfilled. We get to meet a couple of new characters also, including the hilarious dominatrix Fiona and the complex hustler Holden. And of course, there's Dylan, who understands Roan in a way few others can. He's also loved and lost, and he offers an ear and friendship when Roan needs it most. 

 

 

The cases in Book 1 aren't as involved, and one even gets dropped, though there's a note at the very end briefly explaining it's outcome. Book 2 brings back the political unrest of the first book, along with Eli, and the new cases here are a bit more involved. It's suiting to Roan's moods as the book progresses that the cases get more complex, but they're still not quite at the level I'm used to expecting.

 

I still wish Ms. Speed would delve more into the hows and whys of the virus. We get a teensy bit more here, but not much. It's still unknown how the virus started (but come on, there have to be conspiracy theories) or how it really works, or why Roan's case is so vastly different from every other infected. I'm getting a little better at rolling with all this shifter business, though I am worried Roan's going to give himself throat cancer or something if he keeps tearing up his larynx like that. The shifter stuff is interesting, I suppose, though I'll never respond in a "ooh-la-la" way to it. I mean, I love my cats. I just don't loooove my cats. ;)

 

The ending of Book 2 was rather rushed. The final chapter was definitely epiloguey in the way it wrapped everything up. I'm greedy when I'm enjoying the world I'm in. Don't sum up; show me everything! The big talk between Roan and Dylan is completely skipped and barely even glossed over. I wanted to see that. That's a very important step not just for Roan moving on with his life but for Roan and Dylan figuring out their fledgling relationship. Why would you skip that?

 

There were a few continuity errors - such as Book 2 being noted as being "one month later" after Book 1, but then it's said Roan hasn't seen Matt in a year. No, it's been a month. There are also several mentions of Roan's funky bedsheets in Book 1, which even get bloodied at one point, and Roan keeps thinking about washing them, but who knows when he ever does. They're little things, but they bugged me. A good content editor should've pointed those things out. (And since we find out later Roan had just gone through a transition cycle four days before the start of this book, there's no reason for his sheets to be funky at all - at least not until Roan gets into bed all bloody and gross. He was in a cage every night for at least three nights in a row. No one thought to do some laundry? Epic fail, guys. At least spritz some Fabreeze, geez.)

 

I don't recall if I already mentioned Ms. Speed's used of parentheticals. I love parentheses, so that doesn't bother me. What did start to annoy me was the use of (?) and (!) throughout the text. It started to feel like the author wanted to nudge the reader toward certain emotional responses. And in one case, the transexual prostitute, who we learn a great deal about but never actually meet, the use of (?) after her name was ... I'm not sure what it was. At first I thought it was supposed to indicate that Roan wasn't sure it was actually her, even though he identified her immediately in the previous paragraph. But as I read on and she was mentioned again later, I started to feel a transphobic vibe from the text. It was very odd. I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt, at least for now, and assume clumsy exposition. 

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review 2017-05-14 01:25
Infected: Bloodlines (Infected #2)
Infected: Bloodlines - Andrea Speed

If you read the first book, none of this should be a spoiler, but if you haven't, then proceed with caution.

 

Let me get my one gripe out of the way first. Paris is pretty. Like, really super duper fantabuloso everyone-with-eyes-wants-to-bang-him sexy hot. I know this because the author reminds the reader of this repeatedly. If I cut and paste all those passages together, it would probably take up five pages minimum. I vaguely remember being annoyed by this in the first book, but in this book, we're told that Paris's tiger virus has reached critical, that he's lost 50 pounds and is only 150-something, pale, always cold - he's sick, chronically so. So I don't need to hear about how super duper mega hot sex-on-legs he is every other page. One, I actually remember that from the previous book. Two, he's SICK! And at over six feet and only 150 pounds, he's not broad-chested. He's a toothpick. I just found the constant fascination with his sex appeal to be really shallow and misplaced in this book, and I could've done without it. Especially since the author could've gotten the same point across by showing and not telling...and telling...and telling...and telling...

 

Moving on to the actual story:

 

On the mystery front, I give this one three stars. The mystery wasn't really that involved here, and the revelation of the whodunit comes almost by accident. Almost. And since Roan's in an emotionally unstable place, that outcome isn't what you'd expect it to be - and that's all I'm saying about that. 

 

On the personal story front, I give this five stars. Read this with a box of tissues close at hand, because you're going to need it! In only two books, or two and a half if you read the novella "Infected: Paris" before this one, Ms. Speed created a beautiful couple in Roan and Paris. They're flawed, they're sometimes stupid, they're occasionally too sweet to bare, and they're real. And in this book, they're raw. They both know what's coming, and while Paris is preparing for the inevitable, Roan's living as close to denial as he can get for as long as he can, because to face reality would be the end for him as well. The supporting cast is all back. Dee is a saint of an ex-boyfriend, and Kevin's still a mess. Matt's much more prominent here. We don't see as much of the coppers, but when we do we get to see their concern and support. 

 

There are a couple of things that are brought up and then dropped, and some things are mentioned that happened between books that I would've liked to see on page. The editing is better than the first book but could still use work on making the "he's" and "his" more clear on who is being talked about. Still, the editing here is better than many. 

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review 2017-02-24 20:46
Charmed & Dangerous
Charmed and Dangerous: Ten Tales of Gay Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy - Andrea Speed,Rhys Ford,Charlie Cochet,K.J. Charles,Jordan L. Hawk,Lou Harper,Astrid Amara,Nicole Kimberling,Ginn Hale,Jordan Castillo Price

Dim Sum Asylum - Rhys Ford (no rating)

 

Um...WTF was this? I might have gotten more out of this one if I'd read Ford's Sinner's Gin series, but the premise for it didn't interest me. After reading this, I'm glad I stayed away. There was a lot of info dumping as everything is described to fill non-readers in on this world, and it eats up a lot of page time. The chase through the city for the sexed up monkey statue was kind of interesting but again was bogged down with too many descriptions and background about everything when you just want to be chasing the statue. Then there's the ridiculous instalove/sex with Roku and his brand new partner on the force who has kind of been stalking Roku and finangled his way into a partnership with Roku in a really creepy way that's only marginally addressed before the hormones get in the way. I'll be honest, it was clear the entire last chapter was just going to be them boinking and making goo-goo eyes at each other, so I skipped it. 

 

Swift and the Black Dog - Ginn Hale (4 stars)

 

Now this is more like it. This was well-written, with a damaged former "hero" of a revolution who hasn't dealt with the aftermath all too well. I was confused a lot of the time, but Hale gives just enough info to slowly fill in what this world is like and what it used to be like, and why Swift and his band of magician friends really went to war against the Tyrant. Making a better world wasn't exactly on their to-do list, let's just leave it at that. This didn't have a romance, per se, but a beginning of one and it was sweetly done. 

 

A Queer Trade - KJ Charles (4 stars)

 

Finally! A KJ Charles story that doesn't make me want to rip off the MC's nads. I hate alphaholes in romances with a passion, yet she always seems to include one, so even though I like her writing well enough, I've learned to avoid her stories. Thankfully, that was not the case here. Ned and Crispin are both adorable. Ned is self-assured and aware, and Crispin is awkward and well-meaning. When Crispin's mentor dies unexpectedly and his magical papers sold to a waste-man by his unsuspecting relatives, Crispin and Ned are thrown together trying to fix the blunder. And what a blunder it is! It's also rare to read an historical that includes a POC as an MC, and have it be well-done. There is attention paid to the racial differences and experiences without making the story entirely about it. Instead, we get two men who are lonely and misunderstood for their own reasons finding acceptance in each other.

 

Magically Delicious - Nicole Kimberling (3 stars)

 

Fairies again. Or, goblins in this case. With really terrible table manners. The mystery was on the obvious side and the solution left plotholes. Still, it was imaginative and the characters were interesting.

 

Everyone's Afraid of Clowns - Jordan Castillo-Price (5 stars)

 

Read as part of Psycop Briefs: Volume 1

 

Vic is remembering his first time sensing a ghostly spirit in his teens and Jacob decides they should go check out the place. I don't know what's scarier, the clown or the misogynists. No, ok, I lied. The misogynists are scarier.

 

The Thirteenth Hex - Jordan L Hawk (3 stars)

 

Review here: http://linda78.booklikes.com/post/1384099/the-13th-hex

 

The Soldati Prince - Charlie Cochet (no rating)

 

If you like shifters, predestined mates, and possible Stockholm Syndrome resulting in tru wuv, this is the story for you. It's not my cuppa though. I again skimmed over most of the last this-is-the-boinking chapter.

 

One Hex Too Many - Lou Harper (3.5 stars)

 

This was again about two brand new partners on the police force. There was some awkward worldbuilding here and there but nothing too distracting from the story - though I still don't get what is so "extramundane" about a paranormal police squad. I liked both MCs and getting to see them work together, and the mystery was interesting. Then Harper throws the MCs together at literally the last minute and, honestly, I would've preferred this just be about two guys becoming friends. This isn't even romance. It's just last-minute sex that came out of nowhere. At least she doesn't linger over it and drag it out, but that's the only good thing I can say about it.

 

Josh of the Damned vs The Bathroom of Doom - Andrea Speed (not rated)

 

This is another one where I might have gotten more out of it if I'd read the stories it was based around. But the sexy, sensitive vampire boyfriend trend spawned by Twilight (Edward was a douche!) is just so over. I hate this trend and avoid these stories with a passion. And you seriously expect me to believe the creatures of the night cross over a magical portal every night to eat terrible convenience store food? I guess parts of it were funny if you like that brand of whacky comedy. Also, how is Carey more lame as a vampire name than Collin? I did finish this one, since it was thankfully very short, but since this is just not my genre, I decided not to rate it. 

 

The Trouble with Hexes - Astrid Amara (5 stars)

 

This is a reunited/second chances story and the best of the bunch after JCP's. It's not too complicated for a short story, so there wasn't a lot of info-dumping that needed to be done, but it was still an intricate enough plot to keep the story moving forward. The whodunit was on the obvious side, but the main focus here was Vincent and Tim's relationship and how they mend those broken bridges between them. 

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review 2017-02-17 23:39
Pressure Head
Pressure Head - J.L. Merrow

It took me awhile to get into this one because the snipping-at-each-other form of enemies to lovers is just not that entertaining to me. I also couldn't understand why Tom was allowing Phil to drag him along on his investigation, when he really shouldn't be giving him the time of day. Also, Tom has a day job he was constantly neglecting and Phil wasn't pay him. Though to his credit, Phil did make an attempt.

 

Here's the deal: Phil had bullied Tom back in high school, which resulted in an accident that permanently injured Tom and altered his life in significant ways. Even if that was 13 years ago, I just don't get the "fancying the guy who bullied you" trope, and Phil kind of quasi-stalking Tom didn't help. Nor do I get Tom just going along with Phil's demands for help before anything was really resolved between them. Thankfully, things do eventually get resolved and in satisfying enough ways to make me forgive the slow, awkward, weird start.

 

The mystery was well done and there was no obvious villain, though I do admit I wasn't paying as much attention to the details and clues as I usually do since I was getting hung up on trying to figure out Tom. Still, there were enough red herrings and everyone had possible motives, so it wasn't easy to pick any one character out as the whodunit. 

 

Gary and Darren were the standouts here. They're only side characters, but they steal the show every time they're on page, and they're a hoot and a half. Then there are Merlin and Arthur, Tom's cats, who are very catty and fluffy. :D And even though there were a lot of Britishisms, there was only one I couldn't figure out. The humor is very dry though, so might not be to everyone's taste.

 

 

Actually, that's a good way to sum up Tom and Phil, innit?

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review 2017-02-17 02:29
Crazy Like a Foxe (Skyler Foxe Mysteries #6) (Audiobook)
Crazy Like A Foxe (Skyler Foxe Mysteries Book 6) - Haley Walsh

Maybe I wasn't quite in the right mood for this one after all, or maybe Skyler was being too OTT and TSTL for my tolerance levels. Skyler's always been reckless but this is the first time I remember fearing for the future since, as a teacher, he's responsible for molding young minds. He really should not be responsible for teenagers. :P

 

Summer's coming to a close and Skyler's summer job at the local museum is coming to its end as well. Everything's hunky dory until valuable items start going missing. A mysterious death soon follows, and Skyler's on the case (and frankly, I thought it took him too long to cotton on to what was going on, at least in one respect). There's also Keith's old boyfriend back in town, and the ex is up to no good. On top of all that, Skyler's still trying to wrap his head around his parents getting back together, and his various trust issues with his father.

 

Actually those same trust issues could explain a lot about Skyler's behavior in general - why he's such a control freak and needs to know everything NOW instead of when people are ready to tell him, and why he always assumes the worst case scenarios. That doesn't explain the various members of the SFC going along with his harebrained antics, especially when it involves

breaking into a storage facility and busting their way into a storage locker. If I were Sydney, I'd let them all sit in the tank for a night instead of finding ways to get them off the hook all the time. That's not even mentioning hacking into Keith's phone, which is a far worse offense on a personal level.

(spoiler show)

But then they wouldn't be the SFC we know and love if they didn't 100% support Skyler. At least Phillip has some sense.

 

We don't spend as much time with the kids in this book as in previous ones, and there's a lot of focus on the football team when we do, due to Keith signing up a girl to play on the team, and not as a kicker. We also get to learn a bit more about Keith's background, which leads to some in depth discussions about where Skyler and Keith envision their relationship going.

 

Joel Leslie usually does a decent job on the various accents, but in this book we meet a female football player name Eleigh (sp?). The first time she spoke, based on the accent Leslie was using, I figured she'd be Australian. Nope. Turns out she's Samoan, and I don't think she grew up in Australia. That's just the complete wrong accent to use. I've lived around Samoans my whole life and never once heard any of them use any accent even close to Australian. Just...WTF was that? It was terrible and it grated more and more each time she spoke. Everyone else, he does well and Joel and Rodolfo have always been my standout favorite characters that he voices. They all continue to shine here. 

 

This was still funny and fun, and hopefully some of the growth we see in Skyler in this book will stick.

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