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review 2017-11-22 21:05
Dark and gritty
Reclaim Me (The Jaded Series Book 2) - Alex Grayson,Toj Publishing,Karen McAndrews

Mac and Mia's story is a second chance romance that was a long time coming and for a small town, Jaded Hollow is certainly full of secrets. While ten years going by without anyone finding out what broke this pair up requires a bit of suspension of belief, Mac and Mia are so good together that you can't help but root for them. The story is well-written and the author has a writing style that quickly pulls you into the lives of the people of Jaded Hollow. From Bailey's continuing to come out of her protective shell, to Nick dealing with his loss and Andrew's quirky, fun-loving flirtations, even the secondary characters are endearing and interesting, making this reader want to know more about them. Mac and Mia's journey back to each other is filled with angst that is quite dark in its nature, but with love and trust, there comes a ray of light in that darkness. Reclaim Me is more than just a romance, it's a tale of family, love, loss, and finally hope.

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review 2017-11-22 17:18
Infected: Epitath (Infected #8)
Infected: Epitaph - Andrea Speed

I should've just skipped to the last chapter to see if Roan got to retire and live, or if he was killed by his own pigheaded stupidity. 

He gets to live. And just move up to Canada and buy property up there without having to worry about immigration laws. What?

(spoiler show)

 

I admit, I was burnt out with this series by this book, and I did actually skip a lot of the "we're so macho because x,y,z" paragraphs that the characters like to ruminate over again and again and again. Yeah, we all got it the first time. You don't have to keep rubbing it in. It's as if Ms. Speed is afraid the readers would somehow forget basic information if she doesn't constantly remind us about it every other page, or like we won't know we're supposed to be impressed if she doesn't tell us how impressive they are all the time. (I'm not impressed; I'm bored now.)

 

And for the last book, we didn't really get to see much of the supporting characters as I'd hoped we would, though we do get to see them. And there's this weird detour to see Roan's friend from his teens who he hasn't thought of in years and we only heard about in passing once. And why?

Just to find out Collin named his son after Roan? Big whoop. What was the point? That's page time that could've been used for the characters we already know and actually care about.

(spoiler show)

 

I don't know. I'm not sold on the shifter genre at this point. THIRDS went downhill mega fast and I gave up on that one after the third book (how are there already ten of those things?) and this one just sort of petered out. Ms. Speed relied on cliches and stereotypes for much of her world-building, we never got any definitive details about this cat virus that infected people, and Roan's transforming abilities reached critical mass of ridiculousness a couple of books back.

 

Like I said in my review for the previous book, much of this felt like it was treading water, and I can't help but feel this series should've ended two or three books ago. It might have helped if she'd followed the traditional case-per-book narrative device - there's a reason it's so successful - instead of jamming two, three or even four cases into one book, none of them getting much attention and many of them going unsolved. It's admirable to want to show that yes, sometimes cases don't get solved, and yes, detectives and investigators often have more than one case going at a time, but she never quite settled into a cohesive way to handle all this juggling. The end result is that it all feels kind of random, and if she'd cut out even half of the "we're so awesome and crazy" self-congratualatory nonsense, she'd have had a lot more page time to dedicate to other things.

 

And I still don't buy Roan and Dylan as a couple. *shrug* Even the Scott and Holden stuff was boring by this book. 

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review 2017-11-22 14:59
good book and characters
Misadventures of a Virgin (Misadventures... Misadventures of a Virgin (Misadventures Series) - Meredith Wild

Juune’s girlhood  crush had been Kase. They had been at a party one night and ended up alone and kissed. June never forgot that kiss or Kase. but right after that kase left without even a goodbye. Kase had left for college but really it was a good excuse as everything he had thought to be true were all lies and he had just found out. Gerald was June's father and they both lived at the Grand hotel which Gerald owned June’s mother had died when she was young. Gerald wanted to expand his business and he would have to buy Kase’s family farm to do this but then Kase leaves and the deal falls through.  Gerald and Kase’s father Edwin had been feuding for a long  Kase had secretly wanted June while in HS but she was really too young. June had felt the same way about being with Kase. June had worked at her father’s hotel since she was thirteen and she still did. She spent most of her time at the hotel and didn’t go out much. Then after four years Kase came home and wanted to take over his family farm as it had been in their family for many generations. Kase wanted to make it profitable again. Then Edwin comes to visit and mentions to  June Kase is home and she may want to pay Kase a visit. Gerald tells June to go see Kase and talk him into signing the ranch over.  Kase says he doesn’t remember June’s name when she comes to visit and she over heard them when Edwin had went to get Kase. Kase took off to the creek to swim off the day and June follows him and they have words. She had saved herself for Kase and this was how he was acting. The next day Kase comes to see Gerald and tells him that if he gets two weeks of June’s company at the farm he will sign over the land to Gerald.  Kase wants June to spend two weeks at the farm to have an idea what he is giving up. Kase and June fall in love but then family secrets threaten to tear them apart.

I enjoyed this book and it was a quick enjoyable read. I liked the pace as well as the plot. I loved Kase and June together. I didn’t really care for Gerald he was a greedy ass. I did choke up at times. I did feel this was well written. But I felt one teenage kiss was a little unrealistic for June to wait for years for Kase especially not hearing a word from him or even being sure he would come back. I liked the twists in this book. There were other things in this book that weren’t realistic as far as I was concerned but it wasn’t enough to make me want to not finish reading this book. I liked the characters for the most part and I loved the twists in this book and I recommend.   

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review 2017-11-22 08:00
The Dead Of Night
The Dead of Night - John Marsden

I've read the first four books so far (as I haven't been able to find the last three books in my library yet), and for me, this series was a great surprise! I had been willing to read the Tomorrow series for years, but somehow I never really got to the point where I would buy and eventually read them.

 

Till last year! And I may say that I thought it to be the best series I've read that year! This second book, I thought it to be thrilling, and I love the fact that (even though the things that happen are terrible) the story is original and full of suspense!

 

I would recommend this book to a lot of people, but please read the first book first!

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review 2017-11-21 23:53
ARC Review: The Secret Of The Sheikh's Betrothed by Felicitas Ivey
The Secret of the Sheikh’s Betrothed (Dreamspun Desires Book 46) - Felicitas Ivey

First off, I had no issues whatsoever with the writing style of this author, or the writing itself. The story flowed along well, and I wasn't bored at all while reading. That is one of the two reasons this book got two stars instead of just one.

The other one is that I was super enraged for most of the book at the treatment Ikraam had to endure at the hands of her sister.

Moving on.... 

After I mulled it over for a while, I realized I had massive issues with some of the characters, the plot, and the setting, as well as the social aspects of this book. The messages within are really problematic for me. 

I mentioned in my status update when I finished the book that "this was different". It sure is. The book is set in a country in the Middle East, where sheikhs and Bedouin tribes are still aplenty. Goat herding is mentioned. Grazing grounds. Filthy rich sheikhs. Camels. Donkeys. Lots of goats. Women are second class, at best, required to hide their faces and their bodies in hijabs, niqabs and veils. 

The basic premise is that rich billionaire sheikh Fathi, who's secretly gay, has been told by his grandfather that he's been betrothed to a Bedouin girl named Ikraam, sight unseen, before the girl was even born, due to some debt the grandfather owed to the girl's father many many years ago.

That's basically believable, right? 

The rest of this? Not so much. 

Ikraam is actually not a girl. Ikraam is a young man who was born to the 2nd wife of a Bedouin tribe chief/leader who thus far only fathered girls. He's been raised as a girl in a large harem because his oldest sister didn't want him to be the heir and remove her from her position of power after their father died. She basically forced Ikraam's mother, and then Ikraam as he grew up, to keep his gender a secret and raise him as female. This was continued after the mother died. The oldest sister married a weak man who became the new tribe leader, but it's really been her in charge. She then set out to marry off all her sisters to other tribes so she could be HBIC. 

I had some issues right there. Not only is this plot point unrealistic, but even if it were believable, the psychological repercussions of Ikraam being raised as a female, and eventually realizing he's not female, are never even addressed. Can you imagine being raised this way? And noticing at some point that, hey, I have a penis, and, hey, the others girls do not? And, hey, I could be killed at any time if someone finds out? And, hey, my oldest sister abuses me daily and I have absolutely no way out of this situation other than death? Wouldn't YOU have some serious psychological issues? Can you imagine how fucked up that is? The suffering? The constant fear? Knowing you will die on your wedding night? Feeling that you have to go along with this plan so you can possibly save your niece from a fate worse than death? 

Additionally, Ikraam has been raised without ever learning to read, without knowing anything about the modern world (which I guess is expected when one grows up in a tent in the desert, weaving cloth and hiding underneath a niqab). And yet, this is never addressed even when Ikraam marries Fathi. The difference between Fathi, who was raised with money and educated in the US, and the poor Bedouin woman/man, who's never even been to a city, who's never read a book, who has no idea how the world works outside of goat farming and weaving cloth and hiding behind a veil - how could they possibly be compatible? And to top this off, when the secret does come out, Ikraam suggests living as a female in public, and as a male in the privacy of their bedroom, and NO ONE questions the feasibility of this and its possible repercussions. Fathi thinks it's a great idea. Is Ikraam identifying as gender-queer, made so by how he was raised? Are we supposed to believe that gender identity is thus nurture instead of nature? What message is the author sending here? 

We are introduced to Fathi and his twin brother early on. Fathi has a secretary whose only apparent purpose was to be a contrast to Ikraam as this secretary is educated and modernized, but then used only to be shamed and ridiculed for her aspirations. There's a scene at the very end that had me cringe in second-hand embarrassment that the way this particular scene played out made it past the editor. What was that, even? This is a young, modern, educated woman, someone who did a good job in the position for which she was hired, and yet, she's shamed for being interested in her boss, and the uneducated, unworldly, MALE-pretending-to-be-female Ikraam is held up as a "better" example of being female than this young woman, going so far as showing up on the arm of his new husband, dressed in traditional FEMALE finery and given an opportunity to announce to the secretary that her boss is now married and she needs to take a hike. How did this make it past the editor? What message is this sending to the reader? Readers who are primarily women? 

Don't get me started on Ikraam's oldest sister and the mother of his niece. The woman was pure evil but basically gets away with it. Not only is she perfectly willing to let Ikraam die for her subterfuge, which his husband would then obviously discover, but she's also willing to get rid of her own daughter by attempting to marry her off to a disgusting and violent man at least twice her age, who will likely break not only her spirit but also her body. Evil sister/mother don't care. And even when all of these things come out, she's not punished for her behavior. Ikraam is safe, and so is his niece, but the evil sister never gets a real punishment for not only the deception but also the cruelty and suffering she inflicted. 

Fathi is secretly gay, as I mentioned. His grandfather, described as a very traditional and old-fashioned man set in his ways, then doesn't even really blink when a) Fathi admits to being gay, and b) Ikraam's secret is revealed, and c) they want to get married anyway. Say WHAT? You're trying to tell me that an old man from the Middle East doesn't care that his heir is gay? Embraces it? Is fine with the Bedouin girl being really a man? And you explain it away by stating that he's not super religious and THAT'S IT?? I'm sorry, but I didn't buy what the author was trying to sell here. 

The secondary men in this book, namely the tribe leader and the niece's potential groom, are either weak or evil. Both were one-dimensional characters and used to provide a specific plot point or two, then discarded. 

I usually like the titles in this very tropey series, but this was a complete miss for me. The gender identity issue could have been handled in a much healthier way here, and I would have expected more conflict and pushback from the grandfather based on his portrayal. I would have liked to see some psychological help for Ikraam, and some education as well. 

This book didn't work for me. YMMV.


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher. A review was not promised in return. **

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