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review 2018-11-10 06:50
I Knight Thee Good Fun
A Princess in Theory: Reluctant Royals - Alyssa Cole
A Duke by Default - Alyssa Cole

I started reading Alyssa Cole sometime last year. I think I saw her name on a list of women of color writing contemporary romance, and given how tragically white much romance is, I thought I should give her a shot. I read her Off the Grid series, which, in addition to being both science fictional and post-apocalyptic (these things are not necessarily the same things, a distinction I'm happy to fight about), also include a gay romance and one with and Asian dude as the hottie. Oh, and Cole is clearly a nerd and a geek, and she is not afraid of some pop cultural jokes. Really good stuff. 


I didn't read more, at the time, because I'm, like, not as interested in modern day princess stories. I once went regularly to this open mic at an Irish bar run by a Welshman, and there was this woman who showed up regularly in full on tartan explosion. (Yes, I recognize that's all very Celticly confused, but this is America; deal). She tended to sit in the booth behind mine, and we were nodding acquaintances. She drove me absolutely fucking bananas with her bullshit.


See, she claimed to be some sort of Scottish royalty, like maybe not a duchess, exactly, but more like a countess? Honestly, I find it hard to give a fig about titles so none of that stuff is going to track for me. Anyway, she had this younger dude who liked to do sweeping bows and a bunch of hand-kissing, probably because he spent too much time at the Ren Fest. Once, he tried to drag me into it, and I was like, sorry, I live in a representational democracy and have zero interest in kowtowing to someone because of who their grandparents are.


There was a record scratch noise and some people got pissed at me, but fuck royalty. Some of my people were hapless drunks, others were fleeing various wars, some just hated their hometowns. I feel neither pride nor shame about my ancestors; they were just people: good, bad, and indifferent.


Point being, I have something of a chip when it comes to the concept of hereditary monarchy. Sure, fine, if they're figureheads like in Denmark (though I'm still not bowing and scraping), but actual ruling dynasties like the al Saud family are monsters, as one recently brutally murdered journalist could attest if he hadn't been dismembered and murdered, not exactly in that order. 


Which is to say, I'm a fucking crank about a little subgenre of romance novels with lighthearted wish fulfillment about being a princess. I recognize I have issues. 


So, it came as something of a surprise when I actually earnestly enjoyed Duke by Default. Cole dives right into the class issues of the peerage, and doesn't cut those assholes any slack. Her Duke character is actually the child of a Scottish Duke and a refugee, raised by a step-father and with half siblings who are straight up black. He's not some ponce, and more's the better. Oh, and his love interest is coming to terms with an ADHD diagnosis, which was sensitively written. All told, well done. 


Princess in Theory, less so. (Note: I read these books out of order.) The main character, who has aged out of the foster care system and is struggling to make it in the STEM field as a black woman of no means, was a fucking great character. Prince what's his face from an imaginary African country, him I did not like much at all. Sure, some of this is intentional: he's to have a redemption arc from being a rich dickhead to monarch with a heart of gold. But I just couldn't get on board, though of course some of this is my aforementioned issues. And Princess in Theory is still a well written novel with an admirable heroine, so do not credit my bitching too much. 


Anyway! So, one which didn't work so great for me (due mostly to me), and one which knocked it out the park. I would totally read number three. Alyssa Cole is pretty great. 

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review 2017-04-13 00:00
Rampage (Bound by Cage #2)
Rampage (Bound by Cage #2) - Brittany Crowley
Rampage fits this turbulent tale of love, heartache and regret. She's the one that got away. He's the one living with regrets. Choices were made, boundaries set. What happens when the one that got away, proves not easy to forget? Rocky romances equal sizzling second chances.
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url 2016-07-22 20:37
6 Dead in Shooting Rampage in Munich, Police Say

Police have confirmed that it's likely a terrorist attack.


I hope all those in this community who live in Munich or have friends and family there are safe and OK.


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review 2016-07-01 16:37
Moutain RAMpage (Punny!)
Mountain Rampage: A National Park Mystery (National Park Mystery Series) - Scott Graham

Finished this last night. Luckily I started reading it early enough in the evening that it didn't keep me up to late, 'cause I was up until 2 in the morning when I finished Canyon Sacrifice


Two disclaimers:

1. Remember, I work for Scott and am friends with the publisher. My review might be biased because of that. 

2. I got a paper cut on my finger yesterday and it really hurts so I'm having to type strange. If there are more typos than usual, blame my poor pain tolerance. 


Mountain Rampage is the second book in the National Park Mystery Series. In it, Chuck Bender, archeologist and amateur detective, finds himself in Estes Park to conduct a field lab with archeology students in Rocky Mountain National Park. A murder happens and the killer tries to pin the crime on a member of his group, or even Chuck himself! At the same time, Chuck discovers the carcasses of poached Big Horned Sheep and, rightfully outraged, is determined to find the killer of the sheep while protecting his crew and family from the murderer in their midst. 


I had a lot of fun with this book. Like I said, I'm originally from Colorado, so I knew most of the places he was talking about, like Ouray and Leadville. I also almost went to school at Fort Lewis, Chuck's Alma Mater, so it makes me like the character all the more. If you're from the state or familiar with the area at all, I think you'll enjoy this book more than the average reader just because of all the little mentions. Kind of like how my friends in Salt Lake get jokes from The Book of Mormon the normal theatre goer might not appreciate. 


As far as the actual content of the book, I enjoyed that as well. The plot was very fast paced, making it difficult to stop reading. He ends a lot of his chapters with cliff hangers which made the phrase "Just one more chapter" pretty much just a bunch of empty words for me. It reads really quick and you don't necessarily feel like you just read 100 pages in one go. It's light but fast. 


One of my favorite things about the book is his use of imagery. I noticed this in Canyon Sacrifice as well, but when Graham describes a place you can really see it in your head. What's more, you can really feel the nature, smell the pines, see the sheep, etc. I've been to Rocky Mountain National Park so I can't say if this is true for the book, but I know in Canyon Sacrifice I felt like I was truly experiencing the Grand Canyon, even though I have never been there. If you are a nature love and enjoy reading books that focus a lot on the beauty of our natural world, I really think you'll like this one. 


The book isn't perfect. Some sections do move really slowly, especially towards the beginning. There's a lot of focus on how archeologists conduct there work and the history of the area, such as a few chapters on the Colorado gold rush, and while it's interesting, at times it did make reading feel more like trudging. A few of the characters could have been developed a little better, though I think they're likable enough that you still enjoy reading about them. Finally, I feel like the mystery itself could have been a little more cohesive. Nothing about the reveal read like a copout to me but I do think it could have been set up a little better, more clues dropped along the way and a few less twists and turns. 


Overall though I really enjoyed this book. I'm more than happy to be working for an author like Scott and look forward to reading Yellowstone Standoff next, though I'm gonna  try to finish The Girl with All the Gifts first. 


Final rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. If you're looking for a fun, quick summer mystery, this is definitely the book for you. 

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text 2016-06-25 17:46
Reading progress update: I've read 0 out of 267 pages.
Mountain Rampage: A National Park Mystery (National Park Mystery Series) - Scott Graham

I finished Canyon Sacrifice last night. I enjoyed it and am excited to start the next book in the series, Mountain Rampage. I'm originally from Colorado (trying to get back there, actually) so I'm a sucker for any book set in my favorite state. Also, I've been to Rocky Mountain National Park and it's simply gorgeous, so I'm really excited to see how Scott describes it. 


In case you all are wondering, I will not be writing reviews of books by Torrey House. It just doesn't feel right, considering how they've bought my love with free books and two really adorable cats who I miss playing with. I'll probably rate them, and I'll say if I enjoyed them or not, but I won't be writing full on reviews. That seems fair, yeah?  

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