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review 2019-03-05 03:47
Third Man Out (Donald Strachey #4)
Third Man Out - Richard Stevenson

This book has a more serious tone than the previous books in the series thus far and Donald is far less snarky. Stevenson used real-day events to craft the storylines that his series took place in, and this was written at a time when public figures were being outed in the media. It would be controversial now to force someone out of the closet, and it was even more so then.


John Rutka is a "journalist" who collects secrets on high ranking public figures and outs them in his paper. Naturally, he's not well-liked. When someone threatens to kill him, he comes to Donald for help. Mild-mannered Timmy loathes Rutka and doesn't want Donald to take the job, and while Don's no fan of Rutka's either, he does it anyway because he wants a peek at Rutka's files. What follows is an ever-unfolding plot. 


We get arguments from both sides of the debate, the right to privacy vs the obligation of those with power to use that power to advance gay rights rather than oppose them. Rutka's an exhausting character, ever unaware of his own hypocrisy. 


In the previous book, Don got pulled into a scheme and ends up acting in ways that seemed contrary to him. That happens again here, and I hope this isn't going to continue to be the case. It makes him come across as gullible, rather than the skeptical smart ass he's supposed to be. He does like to bunk authority though, so at least that part's consistent. Still, I didn't like that

he let Rutka get away with faking his own death, framing an innocent man and then committing insurance fraud to flee the country. At least the innocent man was freed on lack of evidence, and he did tell the police chief what happened, so eventually Rutka's sister will learn the truth, so it could be worse.

(spoiler show)


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review 2019-03-01 04:10
A Little Side of Geek (Geek Life #1)
A Little Side Of Geek - Marguerite Labbe

2.75 stars rounded up.


This is a case of "I liked this, but..."


This never really gelled for me. The start of Morris and Theo's relationship was supposed to be a fling, because they were both attracted to each other but didn't have time for a relationship. As a result, I never really cared about their first couple of encounters because I didn't feel any chemistry between the characters or have any sense of why they liked each other beyond their looks, which were just barely described. They do quickly realize that they get along quite well and there are some great scenes with them later on, but it took a little too long to get there and I never quite bought into the relationship.


I really liked the relationship between Theo and his younger brother Lincoln, who Theo became guardian of after their parents died a year before. Lincoln was a believable teen, and Theo was over his head at some points but managed to mostly keep it together. He messes up at times, but they talk things out. I would've liked for Jill to be developed beyond "tough sister who works while she's preggers" ... like every other woman in the history of ever.


A couple of other issues I had was the redundancy of information and the time jumps. While the story takes place over several months, there was no real way to keep track of just how much time was passing between scenes. Some things that I wanted to see on page, particularly near the end with some of Theo's other siblings, were skipped over entirely and I can't help but think there would have been more page time for those scenes if the redundancy had been cut down. There were also two chapters that had different POVs from Theo or Morris, and they felt random and unnecessary (except they have to set up the other books in the series). These could also have been left out without missing anything and more time could have been given to Morris and Theo.


There was one point where it started tilting into drama llama territory, and it felt completely out of character. Thankfully, it didn't go full-tilt and managed to pull it together just in time, but the scene still felt manufactured.


It was a strange reading experience. When I was into it, I was really into it. But when I wasn't, it all fell flat and felt uninspired. I don't think I'll be reading the next one. I'm not really endeared to Felipe after this book so I'm not really looking to read a whole book about him and his love interest. I'm guessing the third will be about Brenden and Dakota, who I'm also not interested in, so this'll probably be it for me and this series.

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review 2019-02-23 21:56
Arrow's Flight (Heralds of Valdemar #2; Valdemar #2)
Arrow's Flight - Mercedes Lackey

I liked this one more than the first but I still found some things unsatisfying. 


I liked that we got a more contained story than the first one, and things are still being set up for the intrigue at court even though we don't spend any time in court during this book, since Talia's starting her internship which means a year and a half on tour in one of the border sectors. They don't leave court behind entirely since some rumors about Talia's Gift follows them, and this causes problems for Talia and her mentor Kris. It was good to see the ethical and moral implications of Talia's Gift addressed but the conclusion to all that was sort of a letdown since the book spends pages on Talia's struggles with it and then very little time on how she eventually improves. Then there's the whole 

mind rape of a rapist, making him see through his victims eyes. No sympathy for the rapist or anything, but Talia served as judge, jury and executioner without even at least conferring with Kris first.

(spoiler show)


Then there's the weird direction Talia and Kris's relationship takes, all the while they're worrying about Dirk, who Talia likes and who likes her. It just really didn't seem necessary. I did really enjoy their friendship though.


If the ending hadn't been so rushed, I would've given this a full four stars, but for now, the issues with Talia's gift seems to have either been put off for later or resolved in an uncomfortable way. Since a lot of the conflicts in the first book were solved off-page in the first book, it could go either way.

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review 2019-02-01 03:37
Around the World in 80 Days (Extraordinary Voyages #11) (Audiobook)
Around the World in 80 Days - Jules Verne

This started off a little slow, with all the boasting and detailing of bets of whether Phileas Fogg actually can make a trip around the world in eighty days. But once he got going and he got framed for stealing money that put Det. Fix on his trail, it got more interesting. Fogg also picks up a French servant, Passepartout, who is quite endearing and faithful to his employer. Fogg starts spending money like a politician on the campaign trail in order to win his bet, and the various obstacles he meets along the way are met with a cool head. A little too cool. Fogg was a hard nut to crack, but I still found myself more engaged with this story than with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. This one does have the same broad generalizations and stereotypical portrayals of any culture not English as 20K Leagues did, so fair warning there.


I actually didn't know much about this one before going in. Like with 20K Leagues, I knew of it and the general idea of what it was about, but not much else. The various methods Fogg takes to get around the world were interesting, if not downright absurd. There's this weird passage once they get to America where Passepartout listens to a Mormon elder lecturing about the church. Weird for me anyway, since I never expect to see Mormons portrayed in things yet I keep stumbling upon them in older works like this. I keep thinking that my Mormon upbringing gave me a skewed perception of how influential the church was at that time, but I guess not if first A.C. Doyle and now Jules Verne felt compelled to throw something in their books about the church for absolutely no reason whatsoever. 


I thought the character of Aouda was pretty pointless, and it makes me wonder if Verne just didn't have much exposure to women. Also, the narrator Frederick Douglas, could not do a woman's voice convincingly at all and settled for talking in a falsetto for her parts. Thankfully (or offensively? LOL) she didn't have much to say so I didn't have to put up with it much. Speaking of the narrator, he read pretty slowly, but once I sped him up to 1.20 times the reading went more smoothly. (What did people do when books were on tape and couldn't be sped up except to fast forward, making it sound like the Micromachine man on helium? Progress, y'all!)

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review 2019-01-27 02:41
The Wayward Prince (Mind + Machine #2)
The Wayward Prince (Mind + Machine #2) - Hanna Dare

The first book showed a lot of promise, and this one continues to build on that. It still reads a lot like Firefly fanfic (with some Skynet shenanigans thrown in) but I'm enjoying it. Capt. Sebastian is still firmly rooted as Capt. Malcolm Reynolds in my mind, and Mags as Zoe and Simi as Kali. The other characters I have no issues seeing as themselves, but they also don't get as much page time, though we did get to know Lydia a bit more in this one. We also get to see Rylan and Jaime, but the focus of this book is Sebastian and his one-time lover Ren, from whom he stole his ship. Ren has a job for Sebastian and his crew - stealing back the Heart of Arcadia, the literal family jewel and heirloom to the monarchy. 


Of course, things go wrong and there's much hijinks, and that was all fun. But I mostly enjoyed seeing more into Sebastian's head and getting to know Ren, who we meet here for the first time. Sebastian's got a lot of guilt over stealing the ship and running out on Ren the first time and is determined to make it up to him. Ren's trying to figure out where he fits in the 'verse, since finding the Heart of Arcadia will throw some complications into his life he'd rather avoid. The romance is pretty standard as far as M/M goes, but the MCs are engaging.

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