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review 2017-06-29 18:48
Hunter of Demons (SPECTR #1)
Hunter of Demons - Jordan L. Hawk

This is an odd one. I'm going to give it four stars, because I do think it deserves it, but I'm going to put a huge caveat on that, which I'll get to in a minute.

 

Ms. Hawk certainly has a grand imagination. All her worlds, whether I can get into them or not, are well-detailed, well-thought out and the world-building is pretty smooth, giving you want you need to know when you need to know it without burying you in extraneous details. That is the same here. She's put a different sort of twist on vampires here. Certainly, vampires actually being demonic spirits isn't new, but in this world, vampires are thought to not actually exist. Ghouls and werewolves, sure. But vampires? Hah! Except they do. It's the method of transfer from one host to another that differs, and I quite thought it to be more complex and have the potential for more conflict that in typical vamp lore. We certainly get to see those conflicts emerge here and start to be explored, and since the way the possession works, you can still sympathize with Gray while understanding why Caleb is justly upset by all this. Neither of them asked for or wanted this; they're just going to have to find some way to make do. End of series spoiler:

And since this whole first series and part of the second series is already released, I know that Caleb and Gray aren't able to be separated, so I assume they will have to and do eventually come to some mutual understanding/acceptance of their fates.

(spoiler show)

I really enjoyed all the stuff that gets explored here, though I did think Caleb's trust issues with SPECTR and with John went away or started to fade just a little too quickly. I would think Caleb would be more suspicious than he ends up being, and would therefore be looking for more ways to manipulate the situation and John - but that doesn't happen. Of course, he's forced to stick around since they're hoping John will figure out a way to get Gray out of Caleb's body, but that doesn't mean that someone like Caleb, raised with a deep distrust of the system, would thaw out as quickly as he does. 

 

Now for my caveat - obviously, this is M/M(/U) (Caleb considers Gray to be "male" but Gray really doesn't have a gender), and romance is a must. There's no real romance in this first book, which is fine because that would've been misplaced. There's plenty of lusting and lusty thoughts, of course, and John gets a little too handsy with someone he's supposed to be protecting/holding in custody. John gets a wee bit unprofessional, but doesn't cross the line into totally unprofessional until they finally have sex in the last chapter. I have a couple of issues with this that prevented me from being able to like the scene, aside from the extreme unprofessionalism:

1) While they just came from a horror show of a death match with the lycanthrope and their adrenaline would be high, causing them to act rashly, I just couldn't stop thinking that Caleb's breath and mouth must've tasted like blood. Gray had just drunk a lycanthrope dry, and Caleb didn't even stop for mouthwash. Plus, even with near-instant healing powers, Caleb would've had some blood from his own injuries sustained during the fight. Shower first?

 

2) Holy consent issues! Caleb wants John and vice versa, but Gray was obviously way uncomfortable with all this and had no idea what was going on. Even though Gray's an unwanted hitchhiker inside Caleb, and Caleb was desperate to get laid for a variety of legit reasons, that still means that Gray hasn't given his consent to this. At this point, we don't know much about how this possession works. We know that sometimes Caleb is aware of Gray and can carry on discussions with Gray whether aloud or in their head, and sometimes Gray seems to "go away." But we don't know if Gray is "there" all the time or has the ability to "check out" or just makes it appear like he's checked out. Gray's had access to the memories of all his prior hosts, including their sex lives, but those were always in sepia tone, if you will, and this is the first time he's experiencing it firsthand and in technicolor with stereo surround sound. That he's subdued and quiet afterward probably just means he's processing and trying to make sense of what just happened, versus being traumatized by it, but I hope this is resolved before Caleb and John boink again. For now, I'm labeling it dubcon. YMMV.

 

3) Actually, consent is a huge issue throughout the story, what with the forced possession. Caleb doesn't want to share his body with Gray; Gray didn't intend to inhabit a body that didn't stay dead, and in fact has no control over which bodies he does inhabit. So dubcon/noncon is just a fact of this premise. Caleb's miserable, Gray's confused and doesn't know what's going on. Neither of them are really happy about this, though Caleb's pain is clearly much more prevalent and pressing. Still, it's more or less a mutually distressing experience, until the climax. Gray overrides Caleb's consent when he decides to not just kill the lycanthrope but drink all its blood. Dude! Caleb's a vegetarian! :P And also, that's gross. Gray would've even gone after Caleb's SIL if Caleb hadn't begged him not to. So maybe you don't care about #2, because Caleb's free to do what he wants with his body without having to check in with Gray - and I would agree to that IF this series wasn't sold as an M/M(/M) romance. But it is, so my issue with #2 isn't so much that it happened in this instance - because like I said, Caleb's desires were totally valid - but concern about how this is going to be handled in future installments. If you want me to believe this is a mutual romance among all three, then at some point - preferably sooner than later - the various issues of consent need to be addressed.

(spoiler show)

 

The writing is strong enough, and the characters and premise are interesting enough, I'm willing to at least give the next book a try and see how this develops from here. 

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review 2017-06-13 11:45
Review: The Turn
The Turn: The Hollows Begins with Death - Kim Harrison

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

Since The Hollows is one of my favourite urban fantasy series, and probably one the series that got me hooked on urban fantasy in the first place, a prequel to the Hollows was a must have. I put in a Netgalley request as soon as I saw it. (Even though I’m only up to book 7 in the series).

 

Though after reading it, I can’t honestly say I liked it all that much. It was okay, somewhere between a two and a three star read for me. The first half of the book was full of science stuff that I found incredibly boring and a slog to get through. I’ve never DNFed a Kim Harrison book before, so series and author love made me determined to finish it.

 

 I found it quite confusing, it didn’t help also that I could have sworn there was a Trent Kalamak in the Rachel Morgan series. It was only when I was reading reviews on Goodreads and saw the questions about this book section that someone else had asked the same thing that was puzzling me. Not the same character, two different characters (though there was a ding! moment towards the end of the book that made me go aaaah, that’s why).

 

One or two familiar characters also popped up, demon Algaliarept (who’s name I can’t pronounce to save my life) was his usual delightfully obnoxious (and somewhat amusing in a snarky way) self and Quen.  One of the vampires makes an appearance towards the end as well.

 

This is all about two dark elf scientists who are fighting it out for funding, Trent and Trisk, both of whom hate each other, Trisk’s created a genetically engineered tomato that will supposedly end third world hunger. Forced to work together each have their own separate agendas. As I said, the first half was all very technical and the two of them playing off each other to get to their own goals. (I had to keep reminding myself this was set in the 60s as well). Favourite classic songs are on the radio as new music.

 

But of course, jealousy rears its ugly head and one thing leads to another, something goes hideously wrong. This resulting in a wide spread disease that nearly wipes out the human race, bringing out the fear and repercussions of a bunch of vampires, witches and other species trying their best to get head of it and survive as well.  While at the same time Trisk and a companion, the Dr who created the virus in the first place, there’s links to her genetic tomato, and Trent trying to keep on top of things.

 

The second half was much more exciting as things went from bad to worse and Trisk and her friends try to fix the problem. There’s something – satisfying is not the word I’d use – but there’s definitely a so that’s how it all happened feeling about now knowing how The Hollows all started, but it’s certainly not a favourite novel. Though I am glad I read it, and would certainly recommend to Hollows fans.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2017-05-04 21:00
The doctor is in….and he’s insane – Celeste: Primal by Kristine Mason @KristineMason7
Celeste Files: Primal: Book 6 Psychic C.O.R.E. - Kristine Mason

Kristine Mason has taken the Celeste Files to a new level in Primal.

 

 

Amazon  /  Goodreads

 

MY REVIEW

 

 I have been waiting for Olivia to shine, and Kristine Mason is letting her show her stuff in Celeste: Primal. Olivia is only three years old, but when her mother is abducted, it is up to her to save her. I have read all of Celeste’s stories, and this one tops them all.

 

Celeste, John, and the kids were heading home to Wissota Falls, Wisconsin, for vacation. She wanted to go home, but, with her memories of the past and the last time she was there, I would have opted for the beach.

 

Maxine, Celeste’s mentor, has seven failed marriages and a house she shares with some friendly ghosts. Too bad they can’t talk to Maxine, but they use Celeste as a go between. They are funny and helpful, and this time they are talking to Olivia.

 

When Celeste goes missing, the wrath of CORE, owned by her father, Ian, comes down…There will be hell to pay and no one will stop until she is brought home.

 

Some CORE secrets will be exposed and I wonder what the repercussions will be.

 

I always laugh at myself when I come to the part where the action revs up and all the bad begins. I wait, anticipate, and revel in the badness. The darker, the better.

 

Primal is an apt title for this brutal, savage delving into parapsychology by those with their good and bad reasons for it.

 

OMG. I think I’m going to puke. OMG, Celeste…I have to wait, collect my thoughts as the horror and true evil of Martha washes over me, making my skin tingle and shivers run up and down my spine. I actually gagged. Through the tears pooling in my eyes, I read to the end.

 

If you love a breathtakingly beautiful love story and a horrifying supernatural thriller, this is one you will no be able to put down once you start. You will want the to follow the characters through their life, meet their friends, family, and ghosts, struggle through their trials with them, and share in their happiness during the good times.

 

If you have a ghost in your life, hold tight. You never know what help they can be in your time of need.

 

I love that Kristine shared the middle finger in the novel and if you want the chuckle I got hearing about letting the bird fly, read this yourself. You won’t regret it. Her writing will leave you wanting more.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos 5 Stars

 

READ MORE HERE

 

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Source: www.fundinmental.com/the-doctor-is-in-and-hes-insane-celeste-primal-by-kristine-mason-kristinemason7
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review 2017-04-06 05:53
When you just want to lik-- SQUIRREL!
King of the Sea - Nathan Bay,Daryl Banner
2.5 HEARTS--New author Nathan Bay's novella, King of the Sea, is a story with a lot of elements. Set in San Francisco, 28 year-old Carlos Santiago has survived. His testicular cancer is in remission. But his body wears the scars from the battle. He has a single testicle. The scars from the surgery is wreaking havoc on his body including his pleasure for sex. His older lover, obstetrician Tyson, has been distant and not helpful during his recovery. And he finally has had enough. On their one year anniversary, Carlos made a decision to leave his lover. Saying a final goodbye to the lavish lifestyle Dr. Tyson afforded him, Carlos goes to a rocky ridge by the sea that night. High on Oxycodone, he plans what he'll do in his future and what he will tell Tyson but he sees a hand in the water to greet him.

Was he hallucinating? He leans further to inspect and falls in.

He's saved by Ross, the iPad watching merman with healing capabilities. After the first chapter the story suffers from first-book-itis: too many ideas, not executed to the best ability aka SQUIRREL!



So much SQUIRREL! that I don't know why half of the things happened in this story. But it did.


The merman with no actual name calls himself Ross from his favorite Friends TV character. How he came to be able to watch an iPad and keep it charged is answered. But the story goes to wonky really quick as it progresses. Carlos and Ross share an intimate encounter. Carlos is energized to end things but then he goes to his home and sneaks into his lover's locked guest house on their estate. There he meets an even weirder secret.

It went to a weird experiment suspense yet very hokey twist.

Carlos meets a prisoner who doesn't want to be saved. Then proceeds to go to Folsom Street to have a little public sex in a seedy leather bar to declare he's back on the market.



Why did the spot of BDSM get added in when it was unnecessary? *shrugs*

There was a sexy dick contest and a sex sling but the moment is aborted because of telepathy. Then we have a suicide attempt that becomes accidental. Royalty that should have been introduced from the first introduction. A mystery that wasn't as interesting because of drugging and any interesting action happening off page. It was a lot.

This book needed a better edit, especially content wise. There were too many ideas to get a grasp. I think it if was simpler, let the hint of romance develop a little more solidly with just interactions primarily between Ross and Carlos, since it ends with a romantic-ish finish, the story would have made a better impact for me.

It was SQUIRRELLY to the point where you could read each point the author had a new idea to throw in. Some really cool ideas (genetically enhanced mermen, global warming and its effects) that in swirled in with throwaway ideas (suspense, self sacrificing MC, BDSM scenes, drug abuse). It wasn't added in smooth enough, which made for a lackluster, disjointed read.
 


The blurb states it was dark, I don't think it was. It was more corny than anything. The jokes were flat. The mystery could have been more interesting but SQUIRREL! The unanswered questions kind of bothered me such as if Ross is super important yadda yadda...why let him roam free in the sea unchecked? *shrugs* Diagnosis: first-book-itis

Having a cancer survivor who seemed to be on the search on finding himself in life was a good concept. He finally was starting to realize what he wanted in life. The SQUIRREL just got in the way. I kinda wished the vibe from the first chapter continued, it was more serious, more focused.

So in closing...

SQUIRREL!




A copy provided for an honest review.
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review 2017-03-08 07:15
NERDS! This one might catch your fancy!
Heartifact - Aisling Mancy
3.5 HEARTS--NERDS! This one might catch your fancy!



If you're a nerd who loves mythology, marine archeology and a lot of nautical terms, there are terms galore in Heartifact by Aisling Mancy. It's a research dense novella that stars a marine archaeologist and a trapped mythological deity that only get physical in the mind. A mythology-dense contemporary suspense with romantic tones  Are you nerdgasming yet? I have a microfiber cloth for your fogged up bifocals. Oh baby!

Dr. Harper Kidd is having a rough time in reality. He doesn't have a romantic partner, he's not working on a job that best uses his capabilities. His best friend offers him an out by joining her on a mission in the Mediterranean where the pay is great and there is possible treasure (of the historical variety) to be discovered. But from the beginning of the story as Dr. Kidd's life appears to be what he'd like it to be, it seems his subconscious has created a dream man that takes care of his sexual needs.

A creation that he can't see, but knows ALL of his thoughts and desires.



But the dreams feel real. And what starts as sporadic, moves to a constant night time occurrence. Harper's dream man is taking over, meshing into his reality as he and his friend, Stick and the archaeology team discovers ruins that hasn't been touched for centuries.

Something Harper is drawn to...especially when a discovery at the site seems to be a centuries old statue of his dream lover.



Pelora or Dr. Manhattan?


His dream lover, or Pelora is described as this otherworldly being that is ripped and blue. And once the descriptions were given, I couldn't get Dr. Manhattan out of the brain.

I'm unsure how to categorize Heartifact.

Is this romance? In a way, it is. And in a way, it isn't. The great thing about romance is that it's subjective. Heartifact doesn't fall under the traditional romance category. So if you're a reader who needs tradition, I wouldn't recommend. However, if you like puzzling history/mythology laden suspense trips, well then...welcome aboard.

The subject matter is interesting, the plot is fast paced. The mystery is not easily solved. But while the story is interesting and readable, the plot isn't as developed in crucial spots: Dr. Kidd falling in love (rather than having the reader told). The thoughts of Harper weren't as easily shared though it's told from his POV, so getting a grasp of what stage he was at different points during the book was not impactful as it could have been. The meld between the technical terms and romance could have been a little smoother. Since the most interaction we get of Harper and his dream man are in his dreams, I kinda wish just as much detail went into those dreams as the archeology parts.

For me, it was an unequal balance.

Interesting, but it could have been a touch longer to smooth out those parts. As is, we get brief dreams and nighttime moments to base the L word on.

The suspense part was cool. The ending is surprising (you couldn't get it on your best day). The epilogue...eh...I'm iffy on. The rest of the book sold me. I definitely dug the ideas this author has, and would read more from them.

If there was ever any follow up, I'd read it.

Do you need some alone time to nerd it out? Dr. Manhattan did it for you, huh?




I thought so. Our little secret. ;D

On a serious tip: net proceeds from this book goes to the following organizations: The Trevor Project in the US, le Refuge in France, and Arcigay in Italy!

Read for worthy causes! *Nerd high five*



A copy provided for an honest review.
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