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review 2018-04-20 04:06
Red Dirt Heart (Red Dirt Heart #1)
Red Dirt Heart - N.R. Walker

I like this! It was standard, as far as M/M goes, but has the distinction of being set in the Outback. Charlie and Travis were fun, and it was nice to see Travis pull Charles out of his shell and self-loathing. I really liked Ma and George, too. (Though I did get a little annoyed with the chapter headers, gotta be honest.)

 

This is a short read though, barely longer than novella length, so we don't get to see much of the other workers on the ranch, who are basically just there as set dressing. A lot of the relationship development between Charlie and Travis was set in the bedroom too, and after one-and-a-half standard sex scenes, I just started skipping them altogether. There was still enough development outside the bedroom for me to appreciate why they're clearly good together, so that was good.

 

The next one looks longer, so hopefully it'll have more meat on its bones. And be better formatted. The formatting for this book was all over the place. It though Ch 6 was Ch 8, for instance, and thought the book was complete when I was still at 70%. 

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review 2018-03-30 02:36
Shelter the Sea (The Roosevelt #2) (Audiobook)
Shelter the Sea - Heidi Cullinan

I was worried at first when I realized this book was going to get political. Not because of the focus of the politics - America's dismal record with mental health illness - but because the last time Ms. Cullinan went political with her story Enjoy the Dance she forgot she was writing a story. The characters took a back seat to the politics, and the story suffered for it. I'm glad to say that was not the case here. She remembered to tell an engaging story this time, she kept Emmett and Jeremey front and center, and we got to see how their relationship continued to progress.

 

It's been a couple of years since the end of Carry the Ocean, and Emmett and Jeremey are still living in the Roosevelt. Emmett's working now and doing well. Jeremey however is still struggling with his anxiety and depression and has entered a dark period that he tries to hide from Emmett. Emmett wants to help him and also wants to take their relationship to the next level. On top of that, the Roosevelt is facing funding problems, that exacerbates everything and highlights how easily law makers overlook the mental ill and physically limited when it suits them. 

 

Emmett though doesn't give up easily. He and the other Roosevelt Blues Brothers come up with a plan to try to defeat the legislation to privatize mental health care and along the way he figures out how to help Jeremey too. It was great to spend time with these characters again, and to see David and Darren again. We meet some great new characters, and Mai is especially a sweetie. 

 

Iggy Toma was, as always, perfect. He's four for four in the audiobooks I've listened to so far. He really brings Emmett and Jeremey and the rest of the characters to life, and lets their humanity shine through. 

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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 2018-02-03 22:07
Lap Dog (Shelter #2)
Lap Dog: Book Two of the Shelter Series - Kate Sherwood

Dang you, Sherwood! I was supposed to quit this book halfway through in a boiling rage, ready to rip Simon a new one. Instead, I grudgingly liked him by 25% and was rooting for him about halfway through and just hoping everything would work out. 

 

 

This still isn't perfect. Simom Yeung is the first prominent main character who is Chinese-American in any of Sherwood's books that I've read, and he's in a crime family. Really? And just because the characters call this out doesn't really take away from the problems of this, just as having them call out the old school family honor/respect stereotypes doesn't really mean she's not using those stereotypes. 

 

Yet despite that, this was a great story. I don't know if I'd categorize it Romance (™) but Simon and Tristan do come to first respect each other, then kind of like each other, then warily admire each other and finally care for each other. I didn't think it was possible from the initial set up that opens the story, but their journeys and getting to know each other were well-paced and given the time to really breathe, despite all the chaos going on around them. The resolution was perhaps too easy and convenient, but I honestly don't care because I wanted these two to get their HEAs - not just with each other but for themselves as well. They still have things to figure out about their new lives though, so there's more room to tell more stories about them later. (And hopefully resolve a few more of those dangling threads that didn't get addressed here.) 

 

It was also great seeing Shane and Noah again, and seeing glimpses of their relationship throughout. They even get a short story interlude at the end of the main story. It felt more like it was there to explain why Shane doesn't label himself asexual (though he is clearly on the spectrum) but whatever label someone wants to use or not use is up to them.

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review 2018-02-03 02:41
Killman Creek (Stillhouse Lake #2)
Killman Creek - Rachel Caine

This book picks up a little after where the first one ends, and keeps the action going pretty well throughout. We get not just Gwen's POV in this one, but also Sam, Connor and Lanny.  While I wish their POVs had sounded more unique to their characters, it wasn't too much of a detriment. The chapters flow smoothly and it was never confusing which POV I was reading.

 

I did start finding the various twists and reveals to be over the top. The more that got piled on this whole dark net network, the less seriously I was able to take it. It reached the point of ludicrous, which I'm pretty sure wasn't the author's intention. Also, there was a serious plot hole with Connor

being slipped a cell phone that belongs to his dad. The phone is supposed to look exactly like the one that Connor's mom got him at the beginning of the first book. However, Sam gets everyone new matching smart phones at the beginning of this book because they were all supposed to ditch their old phones. So why is no one questioning why Connor still has a phone that looks like his old one?

(spoiler show)

that makes his whole storyline rather unbelievable. 

 

Still, this is probably one of the few times I wasn't yelling at characters for being TSTL because their actions and motivations actually made sense to them and their situations. So bonus points for that. Though I did find it rather convenient that they didn't question at least some of those twists and turns sooner.

 

There's been a third book announced, but I have no idea where Ms. Caine can go with this without tormenting her characters more than is actually necessary (I say while reading A Song of Ice and Fire). Also, the plot is pretty well wrapped up here, so this may just be where I leave the series. 

Maybe the letter at the end is more important than we were supposed to think at the time? But even the letter doesn't make sense, because for Melvin to have written it, he'd have to have believed there'd be a chance he would lose. And no way would he ever entertain that idea.

(spoiler show)
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