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review 2018-06-24 03:32
3 Kiss Review
Tainted Rose: Motorcycle Dark Romance 2 - Abby Weeks

Rose's father was in the motorcycle club, The Sioux Rangers who were all but wiped out by their rivals, the DRMC. But it seems there were some survivors of the Rangers, some of the members' children. 

 

But things seem bleak when the survivors start getting targeted, so it's no surprise they come after Rose. After luring her to a desolate place under false pretenses, Rose is forced to strip dance for her father's rivals the DRMC and is subjected to all sorts of depravaties. 

 

But then Josh, the lost and hidden survivor of the Rangers hears about her capture and is dead set on rescuing her. Can one man alone make a difference in a war that never seems to end? 

 

Tainted Rose features: 

 

erotica

oral sex

backdoor play

nonconsensual sex

torture

kidnapping

angst

motorcycle club

suspense

mystery

intrigue

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review 2018-04-19 18:11
I Am Here! (manga, vol. 2) by Ema Toyama, translated by Joshua Weeks
I Am Here! Omnibus Vol. 02 - 遠山 えま,Ema Tōyama

The first omnibus volume introduced Hikage, Hinata, and Teru. Hikage starts off practically invisible to everyone around her except Hinata and Teru. In the first volume, we learned that Hinata has a crush on Hikage. Hinata's jealous fans - one girl in particular - start bullying Hikage for spending too much time with him. In the end she's able to stand up to them.

Whereas the first omnibus volume was focused more on Hikage and her efforts to make friends, this omnibus volume was focused more on Hinata and Teru and the mystery of Black Rabbit's identity. Hikage is convinced that Hinata is Black Rabbit, a possibility that's initially appealing but then fills her with horror and embarrassment. Black Rabbit is her kindest and most supportive online friend. If Hinata is Black Rabbit, that could mean that her "friend" was really laughing about her behind her back as he was encouraging her to talk to him more. Hinata keeps denying that he's Black Rabbit, but he's clearly hiding something.

Things become even more difficult for Hikage when Teru realizes that he has a crush on Hikage too and the two best friends, Hinata and Teru, ask her to choose between them. While Hikage tries to figure out what to do, the wedge between Hinata and Teru starts to tear their entire class in two.

I felt so-so about the first omnibus volume, but since this series is so short I felt like I should finish it anyway. This final omnibus had some parts I liked and some I loathed.

I liked the closer look at Hinata and Teru's friendship. Now that I know Black Rabbit's secret (which I didn't clue into while reading the first volume but figured out a few pages into this one), I have a different perspective on what was going on between Hinata and Teru in the first half of the series. The first half of this volume, when Hinata and Teru were still actively trying to make sure that whatever each of them might be feeling for Hikage didn't hurt their friendship, was fine. Unfortunately, it fell apart when the love triangle reared its ugly head.

I hated the love triangle. Once Teru realized that he was in love with Hikage, his and Hinata's relationship devolved into a competition over Hikage. Teru was a liar, too - he'd say that he didn't want to make things difficult for Hikage, but then he'd explicitly ask her to choose between him and Hinata. Since Hinata and Teru's friendship turned out to be the glue that held the entire class together, asking Hinata to choose meant she'd also be responsible for the class group breaking in half, a fact that her fellow classmates picked up on right away (and almost piled on her for). Hikage found herself at risk of not only losing her budding romantic relationship and all her friendships and budding friendships, all because of this stupid love triangle.

The love triangle resolved itself less painfully for the characters than I expected, but that was mostly because Toyama allowed the tension between Hinata and Teru to just sort of magically evaporate. Some aspects of the love triangle never quite went away, despite Hikage making her choice, which left me wondering whether the issue had really been resolved. I suppose it could morph into an inside joke shared by all three of the characters...

In addition to the love triangle, I also hated that the bullying storyline came back, with the exact same bully. Even though her previous plans resulted in her own public humiliation, Aya decided to jump back into the fray with new plans...that could easily be traced back to her and used to humiliate her a second time. Because this is supposed to be fluffy shojo starring a super-sweet heroine, instead of humiliation Aya got an apology, a smile, and an encouraging speech.

Meanwhile, I'm the horrible person who thinks that there was nothing for Hikage to apologize for. Aya was in the wrong for thinking that Hinata was supposed to be some kind of untouchable idol and trying to keep others away from him. She was also in the wrong for bullying Hikage for getting close to him. She made it worse by impersonating several people in the love triangle to further screw up everyone's relationships, all so she could win over a guy who'd already made it clear he wasn't interested in her.

On the plus side, I was glad that Hikage's online relationships didn't quite work out the way I originally thought they were going to. It wasn't as neat and tidy as "Black Rabbit is this person from Hikage's offline life and Mega Pig is that person," and I liked the recognition that the way people interact with others online might not always match how they interact with them in person. So there's that. (And yes, characters could use their flip phones to post comments on Hikage's blog. They do it on-page in this volume, answering the question I had back while I was reading the first volume.)

I didn't hate this series, but this half of it was definitely weaker than the first half, and the first half was mediocre. Parts of the series were stronger than I expected, but the bullying storyline and the love triangle were both annoying. If ever there was a series that I wish had completely ditched its romance aspect and just focused on friendship, it's this one. I was more than a bit horrified when Hikage examined her feelings for Hinata and Teru and began to lean towards the "romantic relationships are more important than friendships" answer. The series didn't quite work out that way, but I still wasn't a fan of how Toyama handled things.

Extras:

The volume includes several author sidebars featuring a not-particularly-interesting comic series starring Mega Pig (the actual cartoon animal) and Mahi (the sunflower character), character profiles for Hikage, Hinata, and Teru, a short comic starring fourth-grade Hinata and Teru, a few pages of humorous short comics, and a few pages of translator's notes. There's also a bonus comic starring Mega Pig (his offline self), which was kind of cute and tied up a few loose ends from the main series.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-04-10 23:53
The Way of the Shadows (Night Angel #1) by Brent Weeks
The Way of Shadows - Brent Weeks

I'm being generous in giving this a three star rating, mainly because the beginning of the story was actually rather good. Unfortunately, that doesn't last long. This story plays on every Fantasy trope out there. It spends too much time on graphic death scenes, and not nearly enough time on actual world building. It treats women like weak minded pawns, whose sole purpose is to either die violently or be love interests, to advance the plot. Or what little plot there is.

I love Fantasy. Nothing makes me happier than to get lost in a new world, with new rules, and hopefully with some magic. I need guidance though. The author needs to care as much about their world and the characters as I do. Weeks didn't make me feel like he was invested. So I never felt invested. Things moved along quickly enough that I finished this, but just barely.

So three stars for a strong start and an okay finish. I don't think I'll be moving on to the other books in this series.

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review 2018-03-26 13:18
May Go Down as My Worst Read of 2018
The High Tide Club - Mary Kay Andrews

Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my review or rating.

 

Warning. This is not a beach read. This is a story of barely developed characters, subtle racism (overt in some cases) a secret child story-line (I hate those) and a plot that zigs-zags from the past to the present repeatedly. I was left 100 percent disappointed with this read and baffled that Andrews wrote this. I have enjoyed her books over the years and this book feels/reads like a rough first draft to me. I think if maybe the amount of characters had been cut out and or just had Josephine and Brooke as the only "voices" maybe the book would have worked out better. Instead we have a plethora of points of view (POV) in this one and random actions by characters that I didn't believe at all. 

 

"The High Tide Club" deals with almost 100 year old heiress, Josephine Warrick calling up Brooke Trappnell telling her she wants to hire her. Josephine wants to do what she can to leave her estate to friends of her that were part of a so-called "High Tide Club". The state wants to buy all of Josephine's land/home and wants to demo it. Josephine wants Brooke to prevent that by seeking out her friends and wants the opportunity to make amends with them.


Seems simple right? It's not. From the first we have Josephine telling Brooke her story in fits and starts. It doesn't work as a narrative device to have Josephine telling a story and then the book flashing back to the past, and then flashing back to the present, then flashing back to the past again. That happens repeatedly while reading. It took me out of the story every single time. And at one point I started to skim in self defense because I just didn't care anymore and wanted to be finished with this book. 

 

And I did laugh though when Josephine lets Brooke know that one of the people she wanted to contact was Brooke's now dead grandmother. At this point we find out that two of the women from the club are dead and only one, her name is living, her name is Varina, but they had a fight related to Josephine not selling back land she bought from her and other Geechees living on the island. 

 

So then the book segues into Brooke contacting the heirs of the dead women and then coming to the island to hear about what they could possibly be inheriting. Instead there is a death, confusion, and just general bedlam of people scrambling around trying to demand land/money from a woman that any barely seemed to care died. And then we have reveal after reveal hitting you over the head with Josephine looking the worst out of all of the characters with some of the others coming in a close second.

Brooke is an idiot and I was so done with her whole so-called plot. I hate secret children in romance novels. It is not believable at all and just once I would love it if the dude in question called the woman out and said no, I don't want to be with someone that would lie and hide the fact that they had my child for so-called BS reasons. 

 

The other characters were secondary and I didn't care for them much either. Varina's granddaughter or grandniece was shown to be grasping and greedy. Varina herself was portrayed as naive. I hated the fact that the book shows the other so-called members of the club treating her like a doll they could dress up and give expensive things to. But she's African American and could not really be a part of their world at all. In fact most of the African Americans in this book don't look that great at all in the end. 


The writing was rough in a lot of places. As I said above, maybe cutting out all of the extra characters and the jumping back and forth in the story would have helped. It was hard to keep things straight. When Josephine dies (not a spoiler, it's in the synopsis) the story loses it's forward momentum. 

 

The setting of the island doesn't feel real at all. I think maybe just telling the story from past to present would have helped it to feel more centered in the book. Instead I didn't get why anyone was killing themselves trying to save the place. 

 

The ending was supposed to be moving and uplifting, I just was glad to be done. 

 

I also read this for the DWS 52 week challenge: This week was read set in your home country. 

 

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review 2018-03-18 16:38
Funny and Heartwarming Book by Spalding
Checking Out - Nick Spalding

 

Please note that I got this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating of this book.

 

So I have pretty much loved about every Nick Spalding book I have read. There have been two misses for me, but for the most part he is always enjoyable. In his latest we follow 33 year old Nathan James who though he has about everything to live for (has a fat bank account and a hot girlfriend) is told that he is an inoperable brain tumor.

 

Spalding has Nathan going through some of the stages that you would see someone go through if someone died (hello Mr. Anger) as well as him trying to find meaning in his life by trying to find those left fortunate than him (the donkey sanctuary scene had me in hysterics). Ultimately though, Nathan realizes that no matter what he does, he eventually is going to die, he just needs to determine how he plans on living until that occurs.

 

I adored Nathan. Usually Spalding's book has a double POV. For this one we stay firmly in Nathan's head the whole time. What works though is though you may realize that Nathan is a little bit superficial (okay a lot) there is no maliciousness in him. So when he gets his diagnosis you do feel as much grief as the character does. When Nathan goes around breaking the news to his family and girlfriend, Spalding still manages to mix the absurd with the tragic so you will find yourself torn between tears of sympathy and laughter while reading.

 

The secondary characters were really good. Nathan's mother and her sculptures sounds like the stuff of nightmares. And heck at least Nathan realizes that his girlfriend though hot is terrible. There is another love interest in this one that I really did enjoy and thought worked well. I do wish that we had been able to spend more time with Nathan's cousin and her son, there seemed to be a lot going on there. Maybe Spalding will follow up with a second book since there are still some loose ends to follow up on in this one.

 

The writing was great. I had tissues nearby due to some sniffles, but also because I laughed so hard I cried three times while reading this book. The flow was great. Spalding tops off the top of each chapter with the month so you know how much time has passed. That is important cause a doctor Nathan sees initially mentions 6 months for him to live.

The book takes place in England. There are some mentions of Trump and his terribleness in this one, so apparently taking place in our current timeline. I did have a question about something though. Spalding via Nathan mentions at one point downloading the Uber app to his phone. I didn't think Uber could operate in England?

 

The book ends on a bittersweet note. I like that Spalding didn't try for some third act deus ex machina.

 

Please note that I read this book for The (Mostly) Dead Writer's Society 52 week challenge: March 12-18: Green cover. 

 

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