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review 2017-10-02 06:58
1 1/2 out of 3 ain't bad?
Primal Need: A Sexy Male/Male Shifter Anthology: Wolf in King's ClothingThe Alpha's ClaimDark Water - Holley Trent,Parker Foye
THREE HEARTS--For a shifter anthology, this didn't deliver as expected. (avg. doesn't include the 2nd story)

Wolf in King's Clothing by Parker Foye - 3.5-3.75 Hearts

They call him "Prince".

A half breed, small assassin that has had the worst life ended up being my favorite of the anthology, go figure?



The unlikely hero who has been shat on, exiled and doesn't speak due to lacking social manners? My toes couldn't stop curling. Set in alternate Victorian period where werewolves are known, "Prince" aka Kent doesn't really know his true name. He's been collared and kept as a witch's assassin as an adult. He's been bartered over and kept like trash, exiled from wolf packs, he has no kind to call his own. His owner tasks him to do one more retrieval and he will have his freedom, Kent agreed before she even finished her sentence. Kent goes to the highlands to rescue an alpha who isn't like any alpha Kent's met.

But he doesn't care for the alpha, Hadrian's peculiar nature, he just needs to make sure he brings Hadrian back in one piece to his master. The road trip back to York is eventful, as the rival pack that kept Hadrian wants him back. The reasons why Hadrian needed to be retrieved are a little murky.

However personable Hadrian who has his own magical secret was a good choice as a foil to Kent's surly silence. The chip is mega wide on Kent's shoulder and Hadrian's steady persistence to at first befriend Kent was fun to read. The camaraderie, bodyguard/ward relationship takes a romantic turn. And it's subtle, which worked one hand and didn't on the other. The romance is pretty subtle, too subtle in the primal need department. Hadrian is alpha? He read like a beta which I can be down with. But when push comes to shove, he didn't claim his mate.

Kent still has to go through trials during this novella. And it endeared me to him. The story has a nice action/suspense twist and the reader gets to slowly learn about Kent's past and why he's so special.

I thought the reason why Kent is badass was cool. I haven't read about his type much in urban fantasy I've read.

The sex? One scene and no penetration for the smutsters keeping score. The story is interesting and evenly paced. I enjoyed the world building, pretty close to Victorian period with magical/paranormal exceptions.

Out of all the stories, this was the one that showed the most promise. If it's ever re-edited and lengthened, I'm there. Definitely would read more from this author!

The Alpha's Claim by Holley Trent - DNF Delight

A lot of anthologies have a stink bomb or two in their arsenal... this is Primal Need's



The writing style leaves a lot to be desired. Telling, shallow and none of the characters have substance. Then the setting bungle. It's supposed to be set in New York but the setting seemed like it was an internet search and find deal.

If a customer stiffs you repeatedly from tips for weeks... you end up in his bed to get the money you earned?

For what I've read, it's definitely stink face inducing.



Shifter fail. Plot fail.

NOPE.

Save yourself the time.

Dark Water by K.L. White - 2.5 Hearts

If you read the anthology, after the reading the previous stink bomb, Dark Water might read as manna from heaven.

Kelpie shifter lead is definitely on the unusual side of go to shifters.




Being as I didn't suffer through that, I read this without fume-weary eyes. This story is from a debut author... and it reads like it's from a new author. Not a bad thing, I love newbie authors. But the story, while more unusual due to the kelpie shifter mythology brought to the table, the execution has some hits and misses.

Benjamin is on the brink. He's a former naval officer in Maryland who leaves the hospital to kill himself. Trigger warning: attempted suicide. He's blind, has no friends or family other than a racist dementia diagnosed father who wouldn't recognize Benjamin on a good day. He best friend Rez was killed in front of him while trying to save his fellow officers. It's one of the last images in Benjamin's mind. He goes to the beloved beach to die.

At that beach, a kelpie marks him for sacrifice. The kelpie turns out to be Rez, Benjamin's best friend thought to have died on that deadly mission. The mark means Benjamin must die but Rez can't do it. And tries to save his friend. This mission of saving Benjamin gets buried under repetition, different threads to a plot that would've be best kept simple and an underwhelming chemistry.

The length could have been longer to tackle the heavy topics such as a veteran battling depression suicidal thoughts, a new permanent disability, PTSD. The items are touched on, but those are weighty topics that deserved more meat.

And to add more issues: sexuality. Benajimn identifies as heterosexual and never had any sexual feelings toward his friend. Being savd, learning his friend is actually alive and hearing his friend kiss another man helps him discover a part of sexuality he's never questioned?




Benjamin loved Rez as a friend, and while they'd kissed and touched, he didn't know if he was seeking comfort in blindness.


I'm leaning toward that camp of questioning Benjamin's motives as Rez seemed like he wasn't attracted then he was, then he kissed another man even tough he shot the persistent guy down. And now he wants to mate for life to Benjamin.

The kelpie population is dying and the men are charged to mate and make new kelpie foals with female kelpies. Another factor that makes me question the entire relationship factor as Rez wants to do his duty but needs to save his friend more.

And when they have sex, it was "I'm not attracted to males" vs. "but I have to sleep with you to save your life". I'm not liking the way the chips are stacked. It read forced and not sexy. Rough sex for an anal virgin? The possessive streak is usually my go to hot factor but I wasn't feeling it in this context. And the suicidal thoughts were still there close to the end.  I get why the need to mate was needed to keep Benjamin alive but I'm not liking the reasons.

And then way everything is neatly tied up? Uh-uh. Right. Sure.

The ideas are good. The execution is questionable. The story would have been better for me both men had an inkling of shared passion prior to meeting, the suicide and killing didn't happen and the plot remained simple.

My rating is for the kelpie folklore mostly and the premise.

The title of this anthology is Primal Need and not one story addressed that factor. So if you're a reader looking for primal shifters, look somewhere else. The good thing about this anthology is the stories are also sold separately. I'd read samples before getting any of the titles.

So, 1 1/2 out of 3?



A copy provided via Netgalley for an honest review.
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text 2017-09-22 04:47
Shallow End: A Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery - Brenda Chapman

Jane Thompson used to have it all….beauty, a handsome husband, 2 great kids & a rewarding teaching career. Now she lives alone in a tiny damp flat, sneaking out the back to dodge reporters on her way to work at the Salvation Army.

 

Her new “career” is courtesy of an early release program. Four years ago, Jane was charged with the sexual assault of one of her students. In short order, she was convicted, imprisoned & divorced. All she lives for now is a chance to see the kids but her ex is not exactly the forgiving type.

 

Over at the Kingston Police Department, the detectives are getting restless. Local criminals seem to have taken the summer off & things at the station are slow. Then the call comes in. The body of a teenage boy was found by the lake. Jacques Rouleau assigns the case to detectives Kala Stonechild & Paul Gunderson and they quickly determine 2 things. It’s definitely a homicide & the victim is Devon Eton, Jane’s former student & accuser.

 

I’ll leave it there for the investigation aspect of the story. There are plenty of twists (and a few bombshells) ahead & the less you know going in, the more you’ll enjoy each WTH moment. Suffice to say I was in danger of needing a neck brace after my double take in the final chapter.

 

What has always distinguished this series for me is the equal time devoted to the development of interesting & original characters. Kala is First Nations & it’s been a rocky road to where she is now. Due to her childhood she is a quiet, self contained woman who prefers the company of her dog Taiku to most people. A few years ago she met Jacques Rouleau (book #1) & he’s been her boss ever since.

 

Jacques is a kind, patient man moving toward the end of his career. Usually he keeps a sharp eye on his detectives but in this outing, his personal life has him distracted. On top of that, he has to figure out what to do about one of his detectives who is a slime ball (Woodhouse, you are so lucky you’re fictional or we’d be having words) while placating a superior who’s never met a camera he didn’t like.

 

Paul Gunderson is a big brawny cop with more than a professional interest in Kala. There’s just one eensy little problem….his estranged-wife-from-hell Fiona who also happens to be the coroner. And as much as I sympathize with him for the hoops she’s put him through, there are times I’d like to cuff some sense into him. He’s a man in desperate need of a V-8 moment.

 

The case is a gripping one with Jane as the obvious suspect. And it’s not helped by the cops having to deal with a bunch of teenagers who lie like they breathe. The author does a good job of examining the ripple effects when someone is convicted of such a hot button crime. In some ways the perpetrator gets to escape the fallout when they’re put away. But their family remains on the outside where they’re subjected to the whispers & sideway glances of friends & neighbours. Purely by association, they too serve a sentence & theirs may be life. 

 

It’s a twisty & thought provoking read that could stand alone but I really recommend starting with “Cold Mourning”. There’s a huge back story behind the characters, particularly between Kala & Jacques & each book is all the richer as the relationships develop.  Can’t wait for book #5.

 

        

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review 2017-08-26 19:33
Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed
Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids - Meghan Daum,Meghan Daum,Meghan Daum

A little on the fence about this one. Some of the essays were fairly interesting, and the matter in general resonates with me anyway. However, I found the whole too similalr in terms of backgrounds (white, middle-class, not much variety here), and too often, when reading between the lines, most of the writers involved were of the 'I didn't have kids/didn't think about it when I had the chance, and now I'm glad of it'—not exactly 'I made a conscious decision not to have any children when I was 20' or 'I've always known I didn't want any.'

Although this may make me look shallow or callous, I don't care. I do relate much more to the few who openly made that very decision or at least 'knew'. I am the same kind of person who will start a relationship by immediately bringing the matter of 'just so that you know, I don't want kids and I won't change my mind'—because, let's face it, I'm nearing 40 and I'm not going to waste my time (nor my prospective partner's) with building a relationship based on the false assumption/delusion that 'they'll change their minds.' To quote Tim Kreider's essay in the book, 'people have a bottomless capacity to delude themselves that their partners will eventually change' (in other words: never assume they will).

So: interesting, but could've done with more diversity.
Hm. I should probably write an essay of my own about that someday. Never tried it, but it'd be an interesting exercise at the very least.

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review 2017-08-14 00:00
These Shallow Graves
These Shallow Graves - Jennifer Donnelly I had wanted to read this for some time...and that was just because of the beautiful cover, to be honest! But then I was pleasantly surprised by the story that weaved together historical fiction, mystery, some romance, a little bit of women's lib in a YA book that read really smoothly, and with a nice dose of humor.
I loved the little peek at how forensic evidence was beginning to be used to solve crimes at that time, and enjoyed how Connelly showed the stark contrast between the wealthy and poor.
I found myself connecting to the character of Jo, who was just burning to seek out a life of 'something more' and related to her sense of entrapment, and her struggle. I expect many young girls reading this book will relate to it, even though Jo was in another place and time. There were a few 'too convenient' plot points, but overall, I enjoyed the entire storyline which was quite good in keeping the reader guessing throughout. Connelly also weaved a rich tapestry of the time period to keep your brain imagining details like what people were wearing, the filth (!), and throw in an insane asylum, and you get bonus points from me. Overall, a really fun read.
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review 2017-04-12 04:04
NetGalley Review: Shallow End
Shallow End: A Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery - Brenda Chapman

I received this book via NetGalley to give an honest review.

So I read the blurb and was like you know this book sounds right up my alley of reading, I need to give it a try. When I went onto Goodreads I noticed in the title it said book four and that concerned me as would I be missing out on things that I need to know? Well I can say the book can be read as a stand alone though it seems that some issues that some characters have going on, are in the previous books. With that said overall it was a good book.

Jane Thompson had been accused of being a child molester. Her whole life has gone down hill she has been in prison, her husband has divorced her and won't let her see her kids, and she no longer can be a teacher. Though the book doesn't say she had to register as an offender which I thought was weird, especially since she has kids. She really wants to just be with her kids and her husband isn't making it easy. He seems a bit of a controlling person and I felt we see why she ended up with him because of up bringing. I think it is really good for an author to write a bit of why a character acts or does something a certain way because of their past when it is needed.
When the kid she has been accused of molesting ends up dead the spotlight is back on her and the parents of the boy will stop at nothing to make sure she is behind bars again. Though it will be up to the detectives to solve the case while dealing with their own things going on in their personal lives. What they will uncover had me going oh wow this was a bit more deeper psychological than I thought it was going to be. I really liked the way the detectives just didn't go straight to blaming Jane Stonechild could really tell that something was up when she was interviewing witnesses. To me that is what makes a great detective.

There are things I didn't see coming when we got towards the end and I was very surprised with it all. Just by reading this it seems the author has an amazing way with pulling you in and having you guess why someone would kill another person.
If you enjoy cop thrillers and murders give this book a try.

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