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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 2017-04-12 01:28
Ten Simple Tips for Surviving the Apocalypse
Ten Simple Tips for Surviving the Apocalypse - Cari Z.

Why yes, I just did use my "WAFF" tag for a book about the zombie apocalypse. What of it?

 

This was cute! Like puppies and kittens in springtime! Just ignore the killer mutant hordes coming to eat your face off. You'll be fine. There's even a quiz at the end that ramps the cuteness factor up to eleven.

 

I did think the romance was a bit on the thin side, but that didn't really bother me, since this is a fun breezy read and anything too angsty would've messed up the tone. Still, if you're looking for steam, look elsewhere. The epilogue could've answered a couple of extra questions than it did, and it was never explained what caused the plague, but again, not a big deal that it didn't. 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-03-25 05:03
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit
Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit - Jaye Robin Brown

Word of Caution: If you hate the Big Misunderstanding trope, then avoid this book, because the entire thing hinges on it. Not only is it a "big misunderstanding" but it's perpetuated by one character consistently lying to everyone, and not even for a very good reason. Well, she thinks it's a good reason. Me? Not so much.

 

This is the second F/F book in a row with a punk lesbian. I guess this is a common enough thing to already be a recognizable trope? Aren't there country-loving lesbians? Or jazz-loving lesbians? Or hip-hop loving lesbians? WHERE ARE MY HIP-HOP LESBIANS?

 

But seriously, this book is both complicated and simple. It's told in a simple, rather straightforward way that rarely delves into the depths that this book could easy delve into given the subject matter, mainly how do LGBTQ+ individuals who need faith in their lives deal with the hurtful messages that too many churches STILL put out there because they're stuck in medieval times. I was looking forward to that aspect of it, because too often the one sole religious person in M/M books often acts like he or she could be an offshoot of the Westboro Church family tree. I know many people of faith, some who are close-minded in that way, but others who really embrace Jesus's teachings about acceptance and loving each other without judgment. So let's look at both sides of the spectrum and everything else in between here, right?! Except it never really happens. *sigh*

 

Jo's dad, who runs his own evangelical radio show, accepted his daughter without hesitation when she came out to him. And now that he's remarried and his new MIL has a stick up her butt about EVERYTHING, and because they've moved to a more conservative, smaller town, he asks Jo to lay low. That is, go back in the closet. And she agrees. So she can get her own radio show that she unironically calls "Keep It Real." I say unironically because she's completely unaware of the irony of the title while she's lying about herself to everyone around her. 

 

Except one boy she meets and befriends. She tells him immediately. Which pretty much pulls the rug out from under her every other time she tries to explain to herself why she can't tell the truth to her girlfriend she's so super in love with. Oh, no! Can't do that! And it leads to one ridiculous, cliched "twist" after another until I just wanted to smack her Cher-style.

 

 

Oh, Cher. Where are you when we need you most?

 

I do like the various different characters. There's a weird subplot with Dana. It was nice to see how Joanna and Elizabeth eventually work out their issues. When Joanna does finally stand up for herself, that's pretty great too but comes a bit too late in the story, so that everything after that is rushed. Joanna overall is a passive character and except for that one moment of backbone, she never really stops being passive. Barnum was great, as were George and Gemma. The pastor of the other church, the not-friendly-to-gays one, has this weird quasi-transformation, maybe? It doesn't really go anywhere. 

 

So I guess there's a hopeful message in here. And I guess this is eventually about being true to yourself, even when that self isn't who you originally thought it was. But for each thing I found to like, there was another thing that annoyed me in equal measure.

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review 2017-03-11 03:09
Just Juliet
Just Juliet - Charlotte Reagan

This was just okay. It was all very...nice. And simple. And low angst. All problems were safely in the past. All new problems were easily surmounted and quickly put behind them.

 

The first third was promising. Lena finds out she's attracted to a girl, doesn't freak out, does some googling and instead of going GFY figures out she's bisexual. So that was good. The James's are a great, fun, close-knit family. Lena and Juliet's first date was pretty rad and adorable.

 

And then it just sort of meanders and keeps going way past the point it should have ended because there really wasn't much of a plot. It goes through all the tradition coming out tropes - telling the bestie, telling the family, telling the world - but there's no real emotion to anything. We're told what Lena's feeling, but I never felt it myself. Scott and Lakyn were...confusing. Scott is a well-rounded character and very mature and provides Lena with some good advice. Lakyn, who has been through some terrible times, is shy and a jerk and whenever he speaks, I kept seeing him as twelve instead of seventeen. But as a couple, other than being the cute gay couple, they didn't really add anything to the story.

 

The writing is technically pretty good, though dry, just a few stray typos and just one or two questionable word choices. There's a lot of telling in the later part of the book, versus showing. The characters are pretty one-note, and the way Lacey, the "token black kid," is introduced doesn't get improved upon as the story progresses. I know all these kids are, well, kids, but even my friends weren't throwing around this many sexist slurs when we were that age. Every single time any girl (usually Lacey) did anything questionable or assertive or not-nice, she's described as bitchy. Really? I don't know if the author is aware of the "black girls are more promiscuous" stereotype, but Lacey unfortunately inhabits that too. And the gay "jokes" were pretty terrible and also usually spoken by Lacey. Lacey just gets terrible treatment through most of the book. For a "gay friendly" book, there is a lot of low-key homophobia. 

 

This started promising but just became meh by the end and I had to force myself to finish.

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