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review 2018-07-21 19:51
Balefire (Whyborne & Griffin #10)
Balefire - Jordan L. Hawk

This was another fun adventure with Ival and Griffin and the whole gang. The Endicotts are back, and there's trouble afoot across the pond. 

 

Our first encounter with the Endicott family was less than ideal, and the rivalry lends great tension to the story even before we get to Balefire. Ms. Hawk keeps expanding the universe she's created and it always feels authentic. She clearly planned this out from the start, instead of winging it like many authors do. We get more hints about the purpose of the maelstrom and Ival's and Persephone's connection to it.

 

It was a little predictable in some places, and since this took place outside Widdershins, we don't get to spend much time with some of the side characters. We get to see some Endicotts who aren't awful. 

Bringing the few who are left back to Widdershins should make for interesting times in the next book.

(spoiler show)

 

I'm saddened to see that this is the penultimate book in the series. I'm going to have to do a reread of the whole series before the next one comes out.

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review 2018-07-15 06:25
On the Other Hand, Death (Donald Strachey #2)
On the Other Hand, Death - Richard Stevenson

Don Strachey uses his powers of snark and observation to help a pair of old women being targeted for hate crimes. Wrapped up in the mystery are some eccentric neighbors, a shopping mall tycoon, one of Don's old lovers and a gay advocate trying to put together a national gay strike. Part-time helper/part-time foil Detective Bowman, who drops homophobic slurs like they're going out of style (hey, it's the 80s and it's New York) but somehow still manages to do his job and take Don seriously.

 

I thought I had this figured out at one point, but I was so wrong, lol. There are plenty of potential suspects to go around. The snark was off the charts, the characters were fun and well-written, and even Bowman got some ironic chuckles out of me. 

 

Timmy and Don are, well... Don's not the best boyfriend in the world. (These books are NOT romance.) Timmy finally puts his foot down but the conclusion of that was kind of confusing to me. It was left somewhat up in the air. 

 

The formatting is again terrible. There are no page breaks between chapters. It goes into italics for pages or chapters at a time for absolutely no reason, and at one point even switched to a smaller font size. I'm not sure if that's because I got these first few books at Kobo and so they're not Kindle-formated, or if that's just how the books are no matter where you get them from. But it was annoying.

 

Oh, and the author does that thing where he constantly shoehorned the title into the dialogued and text, which is a pet peeve of mine.

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review 2018-06-30 21:40
Brief Cases (The Dresden Files #15.1) (Audiobook)
Brief Cases (Dresden Files) - Jim Butcher

Another fun compilation of short stories and novellas set in the Dresden universe. I finished my read of the currently available books almost three years ago and have been waiting impatiently for Peace Talks ever since, along with everyone else. So I was happy to see this come out to break the dry spell a bit - and also impress upon me the need to do a relisten at some point in the near future. :D

 

A Fistful of Warlocks - 3 stars

 

I spent the first half of this trying to remember who Luccio was. Whoops. She never made much of an impression as a character, so it took me awhile to place her, especially since I heard19th century and got excited that maybe we were getting a story about Ancient Mai. Alas, no. Still, Wild West, Wyatt Earp and Warlocks - what's not to love?

 

Cassandra Campbell narrates this one.

 

B Is For Bigfoot - 4 stars

 

Harry must deal with bullies targeting Bigfoot's kid. Irwin is pathologically pacifist, and Harry's intent on making him understand that he can still stand up for himself. As ever, Butcher takes what should be a fairly straightforward issue and complicates the hell out of it. Plus, it's about time Sasquatch makes an appearance in this world.

 

AAAA Wizardry - 4 stars

 

Harry's again playing mentor, this time to young wizards. Harry shines when he's taking care of kids and teaching others how to be better. The classroom setting is intertwined with a case that Harry worked where things ... wait for it ... went wrong. I know! That never happens to him, right?

 

I Was a Teenage Bigfoot - 3 stars 

 

Irwin's again in trouble, and Harry's sent to help out. This one is fairly straightforward, on the Dresden scale, and we don't get as much interaction with Irwin this time around. And you will NEVER guess the motive for this one. :D

 

Curses - 5 stars

 

I actually never heard of the Billy Goat curse, and the way Butcher comes up to explain it is classic Dresden, whimsical and offers some of the most hilarious moments in this collection. 

 

Even Hand - 3 stars

 

Oh, Gentleman Johnny Marcone. I don't care for him, but he's hardly the worst villain out there. He reminds me a lot of Xanatos from Gargoyles, actually. Unrepentantly evil, but with his own moral code and rules. The best rule being "no kids." So when Justine come to him asking for help protecting a child, well...what's a cold-blooded mafia-type man supposed to do?

 

Jim Butcher narrates this one. And...well...Hermoine would approve his narrative style. His pronunciation is always very proper and precise - and as a result a little on the stilted side. 

 

Bigfoot on Campus - 4 stars

 

Bigfoot Irwin's all grown up and in college and has a girlfriend whose not what she seems. What could go wrong? Harry's got a condition on this one though: Papa Bigfoot has to meet his son, who is more than a little ticked off for being kept on the sidelines his whole life.

 

Bombshells - 4 stars

 

Molly's trying to fill the shoes of Harry after the event in Changes, and she's finding it to be quite an overwhelming task. I've always liked Molly, so was happy to see her POV and get inside her head. She's made some questionable decisions, and seeing how she navigates the world of wizardry as a result of those decisions and what she's learned since was fascinating. Plus, she gets company of Justine and Andi while she tries to figure out how to save Thomas. (I forgot Andi was dating Butters.)

 

Cold Case - 5 stars

 

Two Molly POVs in a row! And this one hurt. Molly's first assignment as the new Winter Maiden pairs her up with Carlos as they go up against monsters Alaska, and it doesn't go anything like she thought it would. Her new "mom" Mab is as cold and vicious as always, and a stark contrast to Charity. Mab's not here for sentimentality. She's here to fight a war. She does offer Molly the opportunity to find a better way to fight that war though, so hopefully that means Molly will be able to do that someday.

 

Julia Whelan narrates both of Molly's stories, and she does a great job.

 

Jury Duty - 4 stars

 

Harry Dresden has been found - by the government! Dun dun DUUUUNNNN! Jury duty happens. Wackiness ensues. Good fun.

 

Day One - 4 stars

 

BUTTERS! I love Butters - and totally forgot he was a Knight now. Whoops. He's called to his first mission as a Knight of the Cross and he does an excellent job of it. Oliver Wylan does the narration on this one and he captures Butters perfectly. 

 

Zoo Day - 5 stars

 

Harry spends his first full day with his 10-year old daughter Maggie and it's adorable. Of course, this is Dresden Files, so it can't just be a nice family outing. There's a lot going on here, and we get to see not just Harry's POV, but Maggie's and Mouse's too. Yes, you saw that right. Mouse gets his own POV here. Maggie's an amazing little kid, and Mouse's POV was charming as hell - in between all the horror, lol. 

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review 2018-05-30 05:17
Lock Nut (The Plumber's Mate #5)
Lock Nut - J.L. Merrow

More fun with Tom and Phil as they get wrapped up in yet another murder mystery where everyone around them drops like flies and yet somehow their friends and family don't run for the hills. :P

 

Although maybe they did, because they sure weren't around for a lot of this book. I was hoping to see more of Mike Novak and get to know him better, and see him and Tom start to forge a relationship together, but nope! There was a sweet scene between Tom and his dad though, so that was nice.

 

The mystery was as twisted and tongue-in-cheek as you would expect from this series. There were plenty of potential suspects and motivations all around, and a couple of twists on expectations that were nice. 

 

Still hate that cover though. Seriously, it looks like Riptide is marketing this series to pre-teens, and I know they can do better. I don't know who those two blokes on the cover are supposed to be but they're not Tom and Phil, that's for sure.

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review 2017-11-22 17:18
Infected: Epitath (Infected #8)
Infected: Epitaph - Andrea Speed

I should've just skipped to the last chapter to see if Roan got to retire and live, or if he was killed by his own pigheaded stupidity. 

He gets to live. And just move up to Canada and buy property up there without having to worry about immigration laws. What?

(spoiler show)

 

I admit, I was burnt out with this series by this book, and I did actually skip a lot of the "we're so macho because x,y,z" paragraphs that the characters like to ruminate over again and again and again. Yeah, we all got it the first time. You don't have to keep rubbing it in. It's as if Ms. Speed is afraid the readers would somehow forget basic information if she doesn't constantly remind us about it every other page, or like we won't know we're supposed to be impressed if she doesn't tell us how impressive they are all the time. (I'm not impressed; I'm bored now.)

 

And for the last book, we didn't really get to see much of the supporting characters as I'd hoped we would, though we do get to see them. And there's this weird detour to see Roan's friend from his teens who he hasn't thought of in years and we only heard about in passing once. And why?

Just to find out Collin named his son after Roan? Big whoop. What was the point? That's page time that could've been used for the characters we already know and actually care about.

(spoiler show)

 

I don't know. I'm not sold on the shifter genre at this point. THIRDS went downhill mega fast and I gave up on that one after the third book (how are there already ten of those things?) and this one just sort of petered out. Ms. Speed relied on cliches and stereotypes for much of her world-building, we never got any definitive details about this cat virus that infected people, and Roan's transforming abilities reached critical mass of ridiculousness a couple of books back.

 

Like I said in my review for the previous book, much of this felt like it was treading water, and I can't help but feel this series should've ended two or three books ago. It might have helped if she'd followed the traditional case-per-book narrative device - there's a reason it's so successful - instead of jamming two, three or even four cases into one book, none of them getting much attention and many of them going unsolved. It's admirable to want to show that yes, sometimes cases don't get solved, and yes, detectives and investigators often have more than one case going at a time, but she never quite settled into a cohesive way to handle all this juggling. The end result is that it all feels kind of random, and if she'd cut out even half of the "we're so awesome and crazy" self-congratualatory nonsense, she'd have had a lot more page time to dedicate to other things.

 

And I still don't buy Roan and Dylan as a couple. *shrug* Even the Scott and Holden stuff was boring by this book. 

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