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review 2017-04-29 17:52
Review: "Olive Juice" by TJ Klune
Olive Juice - T.J. Klune

"One thing that they don't tell you is that fires can't burn bright forever."

 

 

All the reviews for this book are like "OMG, I'm a blubbering mess." and "OMG, don't read any spoilers.".

 

So yeah, you REALLY shouldn't read any spoilers and just go along for the ride.

 

But there are two things that I just want to point out anyway:

 

1. TJ Klune has always been a great writer, but he outdid himself with this one. The writing quality is excellent, and given the heaviness of the story, it was beautiful, tasteful and one of the best-written books I've ever read.

 

2. Since everyone is recommending to avoid spoilers at any costs and go in blindly, I still feel like this book could have used a trigger warning, given the main target of M/M readers:

 

READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!

 

Trigger warning: abduction of a family member, with no final conclusion or explanation to the disappearance or the whereabouts

(spoiler show)

 

So while a romance this is NOT, the writing and the revelation of bits of information a little at a time totally worked for me. This has been one of the darkest and most depressing books I've ever read. But I'm glad that I did, because not everything in life is just rainbows, kittens and sunshine.

 

Oh, and just to be clear: there's a tentative HFN, so this can still be considered as a romance. Though just barely.

 

Thanks to Elsbeth and Cinna MMon for the BR.

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review 2017-03-10 21:53
Review: "The Imperfection of Swans" by Brandon Witt
The Imperfection of Swans - Brandon Witt

"He was more than a pretty face, this Kevin Bivanti. Maybe he was worth crying over in a bathroom. “Because of fate. We have to have both. Fate and hard work. And the willingness to leap."

 

This was even more wonderful in the reread. So I'm bumping up my initial rating from 4.5 to 5 stars while also putting this gem on my "favorite" shelf.

 

If this book was a wedding dress, it would have been designed by Vera Wang.

 

 

********************************************

First read: January 28th, 2016

1st reread: March 10th, 2017

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review 2017-03-09 19:11
Review: "Hard Wired" (Cyberlove, #3) by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell
Hard Wired - Megan Erickson,Santino Hassell

"Why are ninety percent of our conversations propping each other up?"

"We both need a lot of propping? I don't know. Why are we like this?"

Good question.

 

 

I had high hopes for the third Cyberlove book after Strong Signal and especially Fast Connection, the phenomenal second book in this series. And while I still loved the writing and the general premise of this series (falling in love online), I'm afraid that this book just missed the mark for me. Which pains me to admit, because I'm a big fan of the Cyberlove series.

 

I usually don't mind angst in my books; in fact I love me some angst, it makes the HEA so much more earned and deserved. What I don't like though is melodrama. Especially unnecessary melodrama. I couldn't, for the life of me, connect to Ian's issue with his different (online) personalities. I mean, don't we all have different personalities, considering who we're interacting with and given the circumstances? I know that *I* am certainly acting and behaving differently when I'm talking to my parents than when I'm talking to my fellow M/M pervs online.

 

 

And I know that this was supposed to be a mutual hurt/comfort story, but for me, the comfort part in Ian's and Jesse's relationship was totally one-sided. I feel like 95% of every conversation/discussion/fight revolved around Ian and his online persona Cerise. There was only little to no support from Ian at all that led to Jesse finally standing up to his parents, and Jesse was THIS close to being a total doormat personality. I don't know why he kept bothering with Ian after their first encounter. Ian,...

 

 

The ending was also rushed, and given Ian's emotional trauma (I think he's been abused by his foster father, but that aspect has never really been fully explained nor dealt with) and social anxiety, it felt also incredibly forced and unbelievable.

 

The guys decided to move in together after one hookup at a con and after spending three days together months later. This was a little too much Disney fairy tale ending for my taste; I think Ian should have at least considered some therapy.

 

 

(spoiler show)

 

A nice addition to this book is the Cerise's fanart page on Tumblr; I totally dig additional website pages and fan services like that.

 

 

So anyway, I'll just consider this book as a minor slip-up in this otherwise excellent series, and I will still be looking forward to the next installment.

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review 2017-03-05 18:23
Review: "Fast Connection" (Cyberlove, #2) by Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell
Fast Connection - Megan Erickson,Santino Hassell

"She shook her head. "He seems like he's the opposite of simple."

I snorted. He's completely complicated. And lost. And frustrating. But we do something for each other." I intertwined my fingers. "We fit. We need each other."

 

The first book in this series, Strong Signal, was already close to perfection for me. But this? THIS WAS GODDAMNED EVERYTHING. I really don't think you can write a better story about imperfect characters with realistic problems and reasonable motivations and actions.

 

This book reminded again why the "fuck buddies-to-lovers" trope is such a favorite of mine. I just LOVE the concept of "lust first, feelings later". When what was supposed to be just a casual hookup with no strings attached becomes a regular arrangement, then feelings (oh, those damn feelings) are beginning to sneak their way in, slowly but unavoidably. With jealousy, possessiveness and all. Ugh, so good.

 

 

Usually, once the MCs got together in my books, I lose interest. Very quickly, very thoroughly. Sure, it's nice to see how they manage their everyday life (family, friends, work) now that they're in a new relationship, but I already know that life is hard and complicated and I don't want to read about it. It unnerves me.

 

But that wasn't the case here. Not at all. I loved the first part of the story (the "getting together" part) just as much as the second part (the "handling RL together" part). The sex scenes in the first half were nothing but smoking HAWT (not really a big shocker if you're familiar with these authors' other works), and the (multiple) family dramas in the second half were realistic and believable. And thankfully not too angsty.

 

 

I can't really say anything more or add anything else that hasn't been said already in other reviews. This was a solid 5 star-book for me, it goes onto my "favorites" shelf and I can't recommend it highly enough.

 

"Named a Best Romance of the Year by The Washington Post"? Well, consider me NOT surprised. Absolutely rightful and deserved.

 

Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell, I salute you.

 

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review 2017-02-20 17:26
Review: "A Fallen Heart" (Zero Hour, #2) by Cate Ashwood
A Fallen Heart - Cate Ashwood

"Ford took a deep breath and released it in a sigh. “I have never had a successful relationship. I keep picking these guys who are bad for me, or maybe they’re not bad for me, but somehow I turn them into guys who are bad for me.”

“You’ve had one bad ex. I get that he was an asshole, although you’ve never told me exactly what happened there either, but one bad relationship does not mean every relationship you have is doomed to be bad.”

 

This dialogue pretty much sums up my feelings towards Ford. Good Lord, if whining burned calories, he could hide behind every supermodel.

 

Nash was a sweetheart though, and he pretty much saved the story for me. Hell, he WAS the story for me. He was sweet, patient and passionate; perfect boyfriend material. And he put up with Ford and all of his stupid mixed signals when I would have kicked him to the curb a long time ago.

 

 

The "Cate 'I'm ALWAYS making all of my couples break up in the last third of my books' Ashwood" trademark felt even more forced and contrived here than usual. But since I was expecting it, it didn't bother me as much when it actually happened.

 

The criminal case follows the serial killer plot from the first book and it turned out much darker than I expected it to be. Some parts of it were truly heartbreaking. But the mystery lover in me outright HATED the conclusion to the case (if that's what it really was?). It seemed like Ashwood drew a random name out of a hat and just went with it. There were no clues, no hints and honest-to-Goddess, I had to go back and look up who this person, who appeared for half a page max, actually was.

 

 

But all in all, the writing was solid, the characters and their behavior and reactions were believable (but so very frustrating at times) and the criminal case was suspenseful (though quite unsatisfying in the end).

 

Oh, and the epilogue SUCKED!

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