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review 2018-03-08 04:06
Pure Bred (Shelter #4)
Pure Bred: Book Four of the Shelter Series - Kate Sherwood

This series has been kind of a mixed bag. I really liked that the focus was on those living in poverty and struggling to make ends meet, and that it was more people of color than your average M/M. However, I also felt that too often the couple got together way too quickly. That happens again here, with Trey and Seb. Trey's been kind of a mystery for the series since he's been mostly on the fringes of the other books. Seb is completely new. He's supposedly a law student but not particularly well-spoken in tense situations. Hopefully, he stays away from trial law. ;)


Mostly, I liked Seb and how he was able to self-assess and realize how easy his life has been once he has his eyes opened by Trey and the others. Seb grew up in a well-to-do family, with supportive parents and sister, a cousin who's also his best friend, and never having to worry about where his next meal will come from. He took it all for granted until he realizes how much harder life is without any of that stuff. And then he stands by his newfound convictions despite everyone else being worried about his safety and future.


What was kind of weird was the extremely weak sauce D/s dynamic between Seb and Trey. On the one hand, I extremely dislike D/s so I was glad that it wasn't a big part of the story and that it was pretty mild, because the little bit that was there left me cold. On the other hand, I'm not sure why it was there at all. There was already a lot going on to examine power dynamics with the class difference between Seb and Trey, so adding this wasn't really needed. So yeah, weird.


The conflict between Seb and Trey was predictable as hell and was resolved rather predictably also. But I liked that the main conflict that carried over from the previous book was handled realistically in terms of the fallout for the neighborhood. And the epilogue from Dodger's POV was cute!

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review 2018-03-03 21:53
Knight of Flames (Inheritance #2)
Knight of Flames (Inheritance Book 2) - Amelia Faulkner

You know that feeling when you're reading a good book and you sort of know where it's going and it goes there but it's still okay because you still had a good time getting there? But there's also this undercurrent of weird niggling at you the entire time and then you get to the last page and it sucker punches you in the brain and then you can't figure out if you're really excited or super dreading what's going to come next?



And all of a sudden everything you've read prior to that moment is put into this whole other context and it makes this horrible kind of sense and you don't know what to make of it? Yeah, that's me and this book.


This was going to be a solid four stars, and the first 95% of the book totally is. But now? Gotta raise it up a star. The author is toying with us, just because she can! I bet this is what Ms. Faulkner was doing as she was writing that page:



Laurence and Quentin are still figuring out their psychic powers and their relationship, and how to get past Quentin's various hangups with sex or anything sexual in nature. Along the way, Quentin gets an unexpected visitor, Ethan gets a boyfriend, and we get to meet new psychics. The other really starts to expand on this world while also giving us a little more background on Quentin. We don't get quite as much focus on Laurence, as this one is more Quentin-centric, but we still go back and forth on their POVs.


The flaws exist only because the characters are flawed, and to say more about it would be giving away too much of the plot. Let me just say, you'll yell at these characters like they're in a horror movie but at least Laurence is somewhat genre savvy. Quentin is as always tragically oblivious.


What else can I say? The author's geography of San Diego continues to prove good. Kind of off on our weather. May's usually not that hot, but freak heat waves do happen all year long so I'll give her that one.

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review 2018-03-03 21:32
A Wrinkle in Time (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet #1)
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle

This is very Young Wizards-lite. It's a fun story and certainly very imaginative, but I couldn't help but wonder how much more awesome it'd be in the hands of Diane Duane. It's not very fair of me, I know. These books are aimed at grade schoolers, while Young Wizards books are young adult and delve deeper into their themes. A Wrinkle in Time is a very quick read, jumping from action to action with very little explanation of how or why anything works the way it does. The plot is very straightforward and other than first few chapters that set up the characters and the world, there's very little deviation from the plot once the kids are whisked away on their adventure. At one point, I started to wonder if this was going to end up being a cliffhanger, though that didn't feel right. It might have been 30 years since I read this in grade school, but I think I would have remembered feeling cheated it this didn't have a proper ending. Unfortunately, that means the resolution is extremely quick and rather simplified.

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review 2018-02-24 03:09
Twice Shy (Shelter #3)
Twice Shy: Book Three in the Shelter Series - Kate Sherwood

Since Micah has spent most of the previous two books in a constant drug haze, it was nice to get to know him once he's free of the drugs. He's smart and philosophical, and he's realistic about his situation and the people he hurt with his drug habit. He knows he's got to keep working the program, even the parts that seem silly to him, and he doesn't get defensive when he's called out for veering off the rules. He knows he's got a lot of bridges to rebuild and relationships to mention, especially with his found family who he betrayed in the previous book. So getting know the real him was great.


I also liked that he was just miraculously clean after a stint in rehab. He's still tempted, and he's aware of his triggers and his pitfalls. Being idle is bad for him, so when his fellow rehab friend Austin gets his brother to offer Micah a job, he jumps at it.


Jake, Austin's brother, is a down-to-earth guy trying to grow his landscaping business, but he also has to take care of his younger brother, whose recovery is not going as well as Micah's. And with all his issues with Austin, I really couldn't buy it that he'd jump so quickly into a relationship with Micah. Yes, he questions the wisdom of it several times, and this is one of the few times the mid-book breakup actually makes sense. And even though this relationship develops over a few weeks, as opposed to the first two books which were both over a handful of days, this felt more rushed somehow. Maybe because I didn't really feel the connection, because I kept wondering why Jake, or even Micah, would risk a relationship at this point in their lives, and Austin's just another complication.

Really, this is a massive spoiler. You've been warned.

(spoiler show)

And I kind of felt that killing Austin off was just a little too "easy" for getting rid of that complication. Obviously, not easy emotionally for the characters, but easy narratively for the author.

(spoiler show)


I'm not sure what to make of the gentrification plot that's introduced here and which will be resolved somehow in the next book, which makes this kind of a cliffhanger. I guess I'll wait and see that resolution before deciding on it - though reading the blurb for the next book, I can already guess where that's going to go.


The three little snippets or interludes at the end were more like teasers for the next book than anything else, fun to read but not necessary.


Oh, and no way is that African violet surviving. They're way too picky and finicky to grow under the best of circumstances.

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review 2018-02-19 03:39
Jack of Thorns (Inheritance #1)
Jack of Thorns (Inheritance Book 1) - Amelia Faulkner

A story set in San Diego written by someone who actually knows San Diego.



I was fully prepared to have to relive some really bad geography, ala Everything Changes  by Melanie Hansen, but by the time chapter five or so rolled around, I knew I was in good hands. I even learned something about that ginormous tree in the middle of Balboa Park (because she's right; locals totally don't read those tourist signs, lol). Woot!


Now onto stuff other readers will actually care about. :D The world-building in this book is fantastic and I'm eager to see how she develops this world going forward. This is the way I like my world-building - just enough information that I'm not lost but not so much information that the mystery is ruined. There is no info-dumping here, but we still get a complex world with hints of more lairs hidden beneath. Faulkner borrows from Celtic myths, psychic tropes and even throws in a little bit of mystery, while also balancing themes of classism, abuse and addiction. Warnings re: the addiction storyline:

Laurence drives while high on marijuana several times, which is dangerous but wasn't actually illegal until this year (2018). He also craves heroin several times. Quentin has alcoholic tendencies but those aren't focused on quite as much, though he does get smashed a couple of times.

(spoiler show)

This is a really slow burn. If you're looking for smexy or smut, look elsewhere. The MCs only kiss - twice - and one of those times was not with romantic intentions. Quentin has a lot of hangups with sex, though those reasons are only guessed at here, so this is something that appears will be explored in later books. I love that Laurence never pressures him. He doesn't ignore the issues but doesn't push more than Quentin is comfortable with.


We get both Laurence and Quentin's POVs, and the author actually gives them their own unique voices in their POVs. This is sadly rare in M/M, where all MCs have the same voices, so it deserves recognition when an author is able to do this. Quentin does have this habit of referring to himself as "one" throughout the first half of the book, but this seemed tied up with his many issues.


There were a couple of minor continuity issues and very few typos. I also felt that Laurence's bisexuality was more lip service than anything else. 

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