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Give Me A Reason by Lyn Gardner

Give Me A Reason - Lyn  Gardner

 

Give Me A Reason by Lyn Gardner

Pages: 662

Date: October 25 2013

Publisher: Self

Series: N/A

 

Awards:

**Winner of the 2015 National Indie Excellence Awards in LGBT Fiction**

**Finalist in the 2015 International Book Awards for Fiction: Gay & Lesbian**

**Winner of the Silver Medal in the 2014 Global Ebook Awards in Gay / Lesbian / LGBT Fiction**

**Winner of the Silver Medal in the 2014 eLit Book Awards – Illuminating Digital Publishing Excellence in Gay / Lesbian Fiction**

 

Review

Rating: 5.50 out of 5.50

Read: February 12 to 14 2016

 

By the time I got to this book, there were a large-ish number of reviews, and all but 24 people 'liked' the book (or 4% of the readers; I'm going with how GoodReads takes everyone that rates a book 3,4,5 and calls them 'like' for % purposes). And so, I'll just tackle a few things here and there.

 

1) I loved how fully formed the characters were. I'm sure there were things here or there that could be pointed at, probably some of the side characters, but there's even more fully formed side characters going on in this book than is normal in a romance.

 

2) And we come to the main thing I wanted to mention - the . . .genre of romance novels, I guess I could label the 'thing'. Romance novels, with exceptions, seem to be relatively repetitive in at least one way - they might not all get there the same way, they might have a million and one variations, but they tend to follow a certain path. Two people (occasionally more, but I do not tend to read love triangle books, and rarely poly books) circle each other for most of the book, and even if they 'come together' as a couple fairly early on in the book, that doesn't remove the book from the repetitive cycle. It just means that the couple will probably either have outside forces pound on the relationship (a danger/damsel in distress type situation), or internal forces pound on the relationship (fear, miscommunication, cheating, etc.). And then, as long as the book is actually in the capital R Romance category, then the book ends with a HEA (Happily Ever After) or HFN (hmm, I have the second one wrong, but whatever the letters are, they mean 'Happy for now'). Some include a chapter or two in an epilogue section that follows the couple as a couple. As a fully formed entity. Some don't have that epilogue.

 

Romance novels tend to get around this relatively repetitive trap of having the majority of the book being about the formation of a couple-hood instead of being about a couple as a combined entity through two to three means - (A) create a series wherein the couple in book 1 can show up as a fully formed entity in book 2 but are not the main characters (see such series like Soho Loft, that Shifter Universe by Jae, the two series by Lynn Galli (Virginia Clan and Aspen Friends) etc.), (B) have a book that's really really long, like, say, this book here. (C) is something like a trick - have romance elements but put the book in a different genre - which the fanfiction by Fletcher DeLancey involving Star Trek Voyager mostly is - Science Fiction with very strong elements of Romance. Or be like two of Galli's books - follow the same couple, but add an element, the second book changes the normal emotional 'things' that wrap themselves around a couple and slam against them, and wrap themselves, instead, around family - so it's a two book series involving a Romance, and something else (Slice of Life?).

 

I thought, while reading, that the book could have had a great closing roughly around the 56% mark. And when I feared, as I occasionally fear, how this specific author was going to 'mess with' the couple, I kind of wanted it to end there. I'm really really glad that the book did not, in fact, end there, though. But if it had, then it would have been two things - longer than the average romance novel (being, as it is, that 56% of the book would be 371 pages, and most Romance books from 'official channels' in the lesbian genre tend to be closer to 240 to 300 something); and, the second thing, roughly in line with that repetitive thing I mentioned above that Romance books fall into. However they get there, the books are about the formation of a couple, not about a couple living their life after formation of their relationship. Well, this 'formation' didn't end at 56%, but there was enough there for it to close, then have some epilogue tacked on the end. Then spin the second book out as a sequel. I'm, roughly, 100% happy that that isn't the direction this author went.

 

As I think I mentioned somewhere along the way - this is a fully formed book. A mixture of a Slice of Life book, with a Romance, with a Family novel all rolled into one (with the addition of a 'Holiday' novel slipped inside as well). It even had the element of danger/damsel in distress/etc. mixed in. And no I'm not only talking about flashbacks for that/this point.

 

Hmms. I just realized that I finished this book in the early morning hours of the 14th. It's one of those books I figured I'd read a little then close it for sleep, glanced at the clock and saw it was 1 am, glanced again when I realized I'd finished the book and noticed it was 3:30 am. *shrug* Back to the 14th - it's a rather good book to read/finish up on/begin the day with on Valentine's Day.

 

ETA: Oh, right, forgot two elements that I reminded myself of when I glanced at my status updates. This book includes a love scene, and yes I call it love instead of sex, that is arguably the best I've read. And I forgot when I was mentioning things that this book contains - it also contains humor. Bits and pieces here and there.

 

From my status updates:

- Now that, friends and whatevers, is how you write a love scene. A+ and words like that.

 

- 'Smiling at her accomplishment, Toni looked over at Laura. “I recommend we don’t open this until Scotland or the bloody thing will projectile vomit all over the motorway.”' - re: filling trunk with luggage. Was funny. I laughed.

 

February 14 2016

Desolation Point by Cari Hunter

Desolation Point by Hunter, Cari (2013) Paperback - Cari Hunter

 

Desolation Point

by Cari Hunter

Pages: 264

Date: April 15 2013

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Series: Pascal & Kent (1st in series)

 

Review

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.0

Read: February 11 2016

 

My second book that I’ve read by this author.

 

Even though the first book that I read by this author was a solid 5 star affair, in my mind, I’ve still been slow to read another book by the author. Mostly because I’m not really much of a chills and thrills, damsels in distress type of reader. So, I kind of have to pace myself. Very slowly.

 

Characters

Two main characters, two . . . no, three, I think three points of view. Two being from the point of view of the ‘damsels in distress’ and one from the villain of the piece.

 

Alex Pascal opens the book as a police officer in Los Angeles. Very quickly, though, she finds herself injured and in the hospital. Recovery takes a while, and once it’s over, Pascal is back out on the streets. And almost immediately back off. She just can’t do it any longer. So, she packs up and moves to a cabin in the woods. And works there for an old man named Walt. These woods happen to be in the mountains of the North Cascades.

 

At one point Alex gets her hair cut shortish, before moving from the police to the mountains. I mention because that’s really the most that I came away with in regards to her physical features. Well, that and the scarring. That might be my own fault, not sure, or the author left things open. Heck, I might look back at the book and find a riveting deeply informative description that I somehow just overlooked. Regardless, I do not particularly mind that I’m clueless about what she looks like, or for the fact that I lack knowledge of her age. I think I lack that knowledge. Vague recollection that she’s been on the police force 5 years. Everything being equal that may or may not put her somewhere nearish 27 years of age?

 

Sarah Kent’s story opens with her in the hospital. A drunk driver rammed and flipped the car she was in. She was in the backseat. Her little sister and mother didn’t make it. Her step-father wasn’t around so he’s alive. He, though, wants nothing to do with the step-daughter who lived in place of his own flesh and blood (not specifically stated, but maybe also in place of his wife).

 

Once she’s back on her feet, at least physically, and with a certain amount of money in her pocket, Sarah figures that this is the perfect opportunity to quit her job and do a bit of traveling. Eventually she ends up hiking in the North Cascades mountains.

 

Again, I probably overlooked something, but other than physical injuries, I don’t recall what Sarah looks like. And I don’t have a handy ‘five years in the police’ to guess-estimate an age. There may or may not have been some remark about her being 20 years older than her step-sister. And the step-sister was around 7, so, 27.

 

The Villain is a man who was in prison but was sprung from it because he had a job/contract uncompleted. And the White Supremacists who he was working for wants him to finish his job. So they sprung him. He’s wandering the mountains with a young woman who he has no feelings for, but claims to be his girlfriend. Bethany being her name. She’s the niece of the leader of the White Supremacist group Nate is working for. Nate’s a cold icy man, with no remorse in killing.

 

Thrills and Chills

While hiking one day, Alex spots a truck hidden in some underbrush. There’s a fake tag on it. The suspicious circumstance gets her to call it in. Eventually she learns that there was a prison break and that the people involved may or may not be on the mountain. This is the first instance when Alex learned that her hike might involve more than she expected

 

While continuing her tour of the world, or whatever it was Sarah was doing, she ended up hiking around the North Cascades. Somewhat randomly, she decides to head to Desolation Point. While camping one night, she is startled to find that there’s another tent nearby. Greetings are exchanged. Along with food and conversation. Their part of the story, the two men in the other tent, is mostly there so that they can tell Alex, once she runs into them, that there’s another woman on the mountain. A mountain that suddenly has a very nasty storm striking it.

 

And so, everyone but Alex, Sarah, and the evil people flee the mountain – fleeing a storm. The storm strikes fast. Not unexpectedly, everyone involved knew it was coming. Just maybe not so fast. Fast enough to catch Sarah up on the summit, on Desolation Point. Rain pounded her. Wind tried to blow her off the mountain. She’s sitting next to shelter but there’s no way in. Visibility is down to about half a foot. This isn’t good when a wrong step could send you hurtling far to your death.

 

Eventually the weather clears enough to be a really annoying rain, and stiff winds. Fearing staying on the top of the mountain, Sarah begins trying to flee back down. Stumbles around. Hears voices, heads toward said voices. Stares at the people she finds in a clearing. Whimpers when a gunshot goes off. And so Sarah learns that ‘terrible danger’ is on the mountain.

 

And so – the story continues with Sarah fleeing the bad guys (Nate and Bethany), with Alex wandering around the mountain looking for Sarah.

 

Also it’s quite chilly.

 

Romance

Truth be told, I wasn’t really into the romance. It occurred. Life moved on.

 

Overall

I was rather into the story until about 59 or 69 percent into the book. And then something happened. No, not in the book, this isn’t a plot twist situation. No, something happened in me. I lost the ability to care about the people in the story. I just kind of numbly watched people stumble around, fearing death, crying, whimpering, drowning, whimpering and . . . felt nothing. It’s my own fault. I should have stopped myself instead of pushed myself to the conclusion. Pushed the book away for another day.

 

So, overall, the book was mostly interesting. I didn’t particularly care one way or another about the romance. And I kind of got numbed at some point, so take all that in advisement when considering how to ‘take’ me rating this specific book 3.5 stars.

 

There’s a high likelihood I’ll read another book by this author, but it’ll probably be an even longer break between this book and my next book by the author. Than it was between Snowbound and this book (which, I now see, I read almost exactly 2 years ago – Feb 2 to 3 2014).

 

By the way, I recall now why I became numbed. I had stupidly allowed myself to glance over some other books by this author. Don’t do what I did. You’ll learn something that you don’t want to learn. like, say, the description for the next book involving these two characters. Not sure why, but seeing that this is the first book in an unnamed series kind of drained the thrill/danger/chill from the story. To the point I was just watching people stumble around a mountain. It’s easier, I’ve found, to read a book like this if I don’t in fact already know that the characters will return. Also, it deeply depressed me to realize that their lives were crap before they meet each other (the tragic events that landed both, separately, in the hospital), were crap while they were together (the danger on the mountain), and was/will be crap after that (since the sequel is yet another danger-thrill book).

 

February 12 2016

Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy

Urban Shaman - C. E. Murphy

 

Urban Shaman

by C.E. Murphy

Pages: 416

Date: June 1 2005

Publisher: Luna

Series: Walker Papers (1st in Series)

 

Review

Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0

Read: February 10 2016

 

This is the first book that I’ve read by this author. It’s a book that (1) hadn’t been on my radar; (2) even so, it was one of the books picked to be read by me in Feb/March (it was the part of the picking wherein the picker picked something not on my pick’em shelf).

 

Being, as it was, a book that hadn’t been on my radar, I did something I do not always do when picking books. I examined reviews. Some of those reviews kind of put me off, they did. And some of that description on GoodReads both intrigued me and vaguely put me off.

 

Two last thoughts; one directly related to the above – this is my second attempt to read this book. When I found out that this book had been ‘added to my list’ I examined it. Beat at it. Sampled it. Didn’t particularly wish to continue with it. And put it to the side. Then I came back to it and gobbled it down. Second thought – I had something of a reoccurring thought bouncing in my brain as I read this book – what the bloody hell is the sexual orientation of this character? I didn’t particularly care if she was straight, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, or what, but if I knew she was . . . something, then I’d look at other characters differently. Like, the first woman who means anything to this book that Joanne Walker (the main character) meets, Joanne kind of drools over how beautiful Marie actually turned out to be. Mouth parted, frozen in appreciation beautiful. Ah, I thought, did I stumble into a Lesbian Romance? Wait, now Joanne is dropping hints that if not for the fact that her first encounter with Morrison, she might have been all over him. Now she’s checking out every guy she meets and dropping a comment (mentally was it?) about how she doesn’t really like girls or women. Oookay.

 

Leap, as we will, to the Romance section of this review to find . . . . as far as I can tell, Joanne is asexual.

 

Characters

This book is one in which only one character is followed. Somewhat refreshing, in its way. Been a while since I only really had to care about one specific character.

 

Joanne Walker - is a youngish woman of Cherokee and Irish ancestors (father is Cherokee; mother is Irish). For whatever reason she spent most of her childhood bouncing around basically every three months while living with her father. Until she got to high school years. Because of this, and other reasons, Joanne Walker knows almost nothing about being a descendent of the Cherokee people.

 

Joanne is a college graduate, with an English degree, but knew, even before going to college, that she would work as a mechanic. Somehow or another falls into having a job with a police department as their mechanic. Joanne’s first boss (or at least the one before Morrison) had Joanne go to the Police Academy, so Joanne is technically a police officer.

 

Joanne is super rational and logical. Right up to the point she spots a woman being chased by dog like creatures, while Joanne herself is up in the sky in a plane.

 

One last thing of note – Joanne Walker name, officially, is not actually Joanne Walker. But Joanne Walkingstick. It would have been Siobhan (she-vaun) Walkingstick, but her father didn’t accept the name Siobhan. So, Joanne is both Joanne Walker and Siobhan Walkingstick (I’m not actually sure why her ‘other name’ is Siobhan Walkingstick if Siobhan, as a name, got rejected; I might have gotten confused there).

 

Mystery

Two, in a way, to follow. (1) Someone is killing people. Joanne investigates. (2) Joanne is a really rational logical person. She learns that there is this fantastical world out there and now must attempt to unravel the mystery of this fantastical world.

 

Both mysteries are interrelated, fun to follow, and well constructed. Mostly. There was a point wherein I got kind of overwhelmed with ‘otherness’. Briefly.

 

Romance

Joanne drools, as noted, when she spots Marie – the woman she had spotted from a plane and chased down to save. There’s some kind of sexual tension going on between Morrison (Joanne’s boss) and Joanne. On several occasions Joanne almost kisses certain people. While dead tired and in something of a dream land, Joanne kisses or is kissed by a Celtic god.

 

Her ‘soul mate’, ‘lover’, ‘best fuck buddy’, and/or the like is not found and drooled over in this book. This is by no means a romance novel that happens to have fantasy; nor is it a fantasy that has much in the way of romance.

 

Maybe needless to say, there is no sex – graphic or otherwise, in this book.

 

Mercedes ‘Mercy’ Thompson vs. Joanne ‘Siobhan Walkingstick’ Walker

Just something of a quick note here – two women who are main characters in Urban Fantasy series.

 

Auto Mechanic – Mercy & Joanne

Half-native American – Mercy & Joanne

Raised by someone other than mother – Mercy & Joanne

Shifter – Mercy (werecoyote). Joanne does, in fact, shift in the book – from human to coyote to raven – but only when entering and exiting her ‘dream guardian’

Coyote – Mercy’s father. Joanne’s spirit guide.

Celtic Folklore – Joanne. I don’t specifically recall anything involving Celtic folklore with Mercy.

Werewolves – Mercy. I do not specifically recall anyone being a werewolf in Joanne’s first book.

Vampires – Mercy. No one appears to be a vampire in Joanne’s first book (though mention of Vampires occurred).

Etc. etc.

 

The point of this section is relatively simple. While reading I noticed certain tidbits about Joanne. These tidbits reminded me of Mercy Thompson. Therefore I felt the need to examine some of the similarities and differences, though more as a list than as a detailed analysis.

 

One last point – despite the covers on the books (at least the cover of the first Joanne Walker book), the two women do not actually have a vaguely similar appearance. Mercy looks Hispanic or of native American origin. Joanne, for the most part, looks black Irish (pale with black hair) – the ‘for the most part’ involves how she does in fact look like she’s of native American origin in black & white pictures (this isn’t some magical thing – it’s just that her facial bone structure is similar to that of native American facial features, which is somewhat hidden when people look and see a pale white woman, and somewhat revealed when people see B&W photos).

 

Overall

Unexpectedly, I found this book to be rather humorous. I don’t specifically recall, now, what or why I found myself laughing, but do recall that I did keep finding myself laughing at the antics going on.

 

Humor - my status updates reminded me of one - during the book certain events occur that involve Native American folklore. At one point Joanne noted, in reaction to what she saw around her:

“This isn’t even the kind of Indian I am,” I protested. (19% mark?) - I found that vaguely humorous at the time I read it.

 

Right, so, loved the book. Refreshing to read a book wherein people aren’t pairing off to hump each other; and or find lifelong meaningful fuck buddies. And there’s a bunch of humorous stuff that occurs.

 

February 11 2016

The Red Files by Lee Winter

The Red Files - Lee Winter

 

The Red Files

by Lee Winter

Pages: 384

Date: September 1 2015

Publisher: Ylva Publishing

Series: N/A

 

Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0

Read: February 8 2016

 

Well, let me see what I can put together for this book here. Slightly harder now, since I’m about 50% into the second book I’ve started since ending ‘The Red Files’.

 

Somewhat needless to say, considering this is the first book by this author, but I feel vaguely that I need to note that this is the first book I’ve read by this author.

 

I had somewhat randomly decided to read this book here, not as random as pure chance – I mean, it was one of the 22 or so books that had been picked to be read February or March. But random as to starting it when I did (I believe I might have been on a train or something without access to anything except my Kindle). So it wasn’t until I’d been 19% into the book that I realized that the vast majority of the reading public seemed to really really love this book. (Actually, it might have not been until the 35% mark, but not important). And by love, I mean love. There are a total of 130 ratings for this book – 81 of which (62%) are 5 star. 42 are 4 star (32%), and just 7 are 3 star (5%). There are no ratings lower than 3 stars. And GoodReads takes that arrangement of ratings to mean ‘100% of people liked it’.

 

I only mention all that because suddenly realizing that 100% of the people who read the book liked it . . . kind of puts vague pressure on me. Or something. (ack, I just noticed that the person who never ever actually leaves a star rating, actually left a 5 star rating; see, pressure, heh).

 

Ah, now I see. It was at 36% of the book when I noticed everyone loved it. I see now where I wrote something about the book – though not in my status updates. I had noted that:

 

The characterization is vaguely annoying me so far, 36% into the book.

 

At the beginning of the book everything seemed to indicate that Lauren was around 23 or so. The things people said, especially her boss, and her own internal thoughts seemed to indicate that her experience involved a journalism degree, and participation on the college paper before going to LA. (What with Frank, her boss, saying something like 'your experience is a joke', while Lauren's thinking things like 'but I have a journalism degree!'). 23 since she's been on the LA paper for a year now.

 

But the reader learns from conversations that occur between Lauren and Ayer during their drive from LA to Carson City that Lauren worked for a small paper for a couple of years after college (21 to 23). Then Lauren had worked for a paper that even Ayer recognized, for at least ten years ('a person ten years my junior is getting the work I want, while I keep getting told to be patient'; so that moves her age from 23 to 33). Then Lauren moves to LA. Assuming that she got her current job immediately (and it’s possible, since she kind of indicated that she arrived on her last savings, and took the only job offered – meaning that she couldn’t wait a week/month/year before starting at her current job (this is another reason why I had thought she was roughly 22 to 23 when the book opened – because that indication that she arrived on her last dime with no savings and needing to take the first job, even if it wasn’t one she wanted, is something someone exiting college does, not someone moving over from another paper that she had worked on for 10 years). Lauren then worked there at her current job for about a year or less (almost a year I think it was stated at some point). So her age moves from 33 to 34. So Lauren should be roughly 34 years of age. Or thereabouts. Mind you, she acts like someone who is roughly 23.

 

Then there's the 'experienced bitter old woman of the news, forced to work entertainment news when she'd rather work 'real' news' (otherwise known as Political news (tis funny as I know some reporters who look down on political news and wouldn’t think of it as ‘real’ news (these being people who work the crime beat, specifically the same kind who would break political corruption stories, going for the crime angle). I didn't really know anything about Ayer by the 36% point of the book (though she seems to come off as someone in her, say, 60s). Only thought I had was - if she's so bitter about working in entertainment, why's she always dressed in atypical clothing for having that attitude - rich clothing, perfect clothing to handle entertainment news. I probably got confused from what I've seen. Though it seemed as if people who worked the political beat didn't dress like Ayer is dressing (unless they knew they'd end up on camera, like if they sat in the audience of a press conference). But even then - that wouldn't be the latest LA fashions.

 

To a certain extent, I wish I had learned of the Australianness of the author before starting the book, or after finishing. Because starting around the point I noticed, the 36% mark, I kept seeing everyone as stereotypes. Vaguely off stereotypes. The 'naive young hick from small town rural-burg who always dresses like she's off to a rodeo' - except that she's actually in her 30s, has experience, and lived for at least 10 years in a metropolitan area of roughly 612,000 people (which, I realize, isn't 18.5 million of LA metro area, but still isn't a farming village). The stereotypical political hack who is now forced to work in a ‘lesser’ field of entertainment. As, gag, a gossip columnist. And then there’s the seemingly stereotypical gay guy best friend of Lauren’s. We don’t actually learn enough of Joshua to move him into or out of that stereotypical role.

 

Characters

This is one of those books wherein the reader only sees things from one point of view – that of Lauren. I did not particularly like being stuck within just one person’s head. But, no matter.

 

Lauren King is a woman of roughly 34 years of age who has striven since seemingly the beginning of either her life, or college, to make it to the ‘real’ news of political reporting. She failed at the small town paper, reporting, as she did, on beauty pageants, crop yields, and other such things. Failed, again, to make the transition to political reporting when she moved to a ‘big’ newspaper in Des Moines Iowa. And finally, after 10 years there, gave up trying to get her editors to accept her over on the political side, and quit. Moved to L.A. Book opens roughly a year after she moved, a year after taking the only job she could get in the news – as an entertainment reporter. She has a great political story she wants to follow, but her boss has taken that story from her and given it to someone else. Her deep evil archrival, who just happens to work at the same paper, has ‘helped’ spread a viral video of Lauren King fighting and screaming that she wanted to show someone her goats. Maybe it’s time to move on?

 

Catherine Ayers is a woman who comes from money, worked hard, and rose high in the newspaper business. Was a regional bureau head in Washington DC for her paper. Until one story tanked her career. And now, at the opening of this book, she is working out the remaining months of her contract. Working as an entertainment reporter. Some might call her a gossip columnist, but don’t say that to her face or she’d gut them, verbally. She’s roughly 44, based on a publicist friend of Lauren’s who says that Ayers is 10 years older than Lauren.

 

Mystery

Lauren King and Catherine Ayers attend a business party for … (SmartCard? EasyCard? EasyPay? Bah, I forget what the company’s name is now) that involves two governors (Nevada and California), a number of political people of various levels, many A-list celebrities (hence entertainment reporters at the party), and 34 women with real looking tans and real looking breasts. That’s actually important, the breasts and tans. It’s one of the first things Lauren noticed and clued her in on the fact that something fishy was going on. So, smelling a story, Lauren investigates. Trails behind them when they leave. Talks with a bus driver. Learns that they, all 34 women, were bused in from Nevada (I forget now if she found out then or later, that they were bused in from a brothel).

 

So, the mystery involves: why did these women turn up at a business party that included politicians? It is solved by two rivals. See, Catherine had noticed Lauren’s investigating and wants in. And, so, the two work on the case.

 

Got a little weird and farfetched, but interesting non-the-less.

 

Romance

The less said the better, probably.

 

Overall

The book was interesting. I kind of hovered, throughout, on how much I did or didn’t like the book. I don’t think I was ever in risk of pausing or not finishing the book, but I didn’t particularly like any of the characters – at least not until the mystery part started – whereupon Lauren, at least, started to grow on me. Well, both did, but Ayers kind of annoyed me during the ‘romance’ part so she moved back to being . . .um. . not as well liked.

 

Is this book supposed to have humor? I don’t specifically see anything that says it is supposed to in the description. Plot kind of had elements that seemed like humor was one of the underlying themes, especially with one of the main characters fighting someone while screaming about goats, but if so, I didn’t find anything funny. *shrug* I don’t deduct any points because of that issue, because, as I said, I do not see anything in the description that specifically indicates that the author was actually going for humor.

 

Personally I think I might have enjoyed the book more if the walls of bitter rivals had been broken and some form of easy or uneasy friendship broke out. Instead of, say, romance. I just didn’t see any chemistry between Lauren and Ayers, and it really seemed, probably only to me, to be forced. I suppose Lesbian Romances sell more than Lesbian Mysteries, so . ....

 

Well, the long and short of it is that I’d probably rate this book somewhere between 4 and 5 stars. 4.5? 4.3? 4.6? Somewhere around 4.5 stars.

 

February 11 2016

Fortunate Sum by M. Ullrich

Fortunate Sum - M. Ullrich

*I received this book from NetGalley in return for a fair review.*

 

Fortunate Sum

by M. Ullrich

Pages: 240

Published Date: March 15 2016

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Series: N/A

 

Review

Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

Read: February 8 2016

 

 

My first book by this author.

 

A lesbian romance involving two women with ‘baggage’, damaged as they have been by life. Catherine was damaged by a bad relationship when she was in college, one so bad that she doesn’t want to date women any longer; while Imogene has been damaged by 9/11 (during which event her father died); damaged so badly that, among other things, she can’t ‘return to the city’.

 

Characters

This book follows two main characters (and occasionally hops over to another to see a scene neither would have been able to see).

 

Catherine Carter is a financial advisor who works in lower Manhattan in New York. Lives in Hoboken New Jersey. She is something like 4 months, give or take a few months, from turning 30. She had a list of things she wanted to do before she turned 30 and feels like she hasn’t fulfilled her self-imposed obligations. While she is very successful in her job, it isn’t one her father wanted her to do (which, apparently, is important). Father wanted her to be a lawyer. That fact that his two sons, older brothers of Catherine, joined him didn’t seem to lesson father’s disappointment.

 

Catherine is a work-a-holic but needs to be checking off those things left to check off. For the most part, all she has left to check off is ‘family’ or ‘a warm body to share her bed’ or something like that. So, she’s looking for a man.

 

Looking for a man? How can she be doing that, I can hear some lesfic readers asking (while others might be giddy with happiness/or groaning in despair). It’s a straight woman-lesbian woman romance? Well, no, not exactly. It’s a ‘woman was badly damaged from a relationship with a woman, and while she feels nothing for men, prefers to not have her heart further damaged so looks to men to find happiness’ type of story.

Connected to Catherine: Alice and Alice’s husband. Best friends of Catherine’s. Alice and her husband are friends with . . um, Will is it? Well, with Sophie’s husband. Sophie is best friends with Imogene.

 

Imogene Harris is a shop owner in Hoboken New Jersey. As she is the one described as having blue eyes, while the other woman is described as having dark eyes (two different colors are mentioned, if I recall correctly, both are basically brownish in color), I assume that she is the one on the cover of the book. There’s nothing about that half-head that I’d say couldn’t match up with Imogene.

Connected to Imogene Sophie the psychic and her husband. Vixen the cat.

 

Romance

Imogene and Catherine spend most of the book circling each other. With Imogene assuming Catherine is straight (well, she mentioned preferring men). While Catherine found Imogene quite . . . um . . . interesting.

 

There was a nice slow build up of their relationship occurring when things spiraled into ‘relationship troubles’ when a specific plot twist occurred. You’d think that a woman who doesn’t think she can be with a woman again, because she wants to protect her heart, mixed with a woman who thinks she might be falling for a straight woman, would be enough of a relationship burden, but no.

 

Sex

Yes, there is graphic sex that takes place in this book. I made comment once about how I keep reading these types of scenes while on trains. Well, for once that didn’t occur. It was interesting and likable sex. As I tend to say, that’s all I’m going to say on the subject.

 

Plot

Through a friend of a friend, Imogene Harris is hooked up with Catherine Carter. No, not on a blind date or the like, but as a financial advisor. The book, see, opens with Imogene having this inheritance that she ‘needs to take care of’ from her grandfather. And, through a network of friends, she is advised to contact Catherine Carter – a high rising financial advisor in New York city.

 

I’m not sure if it is supposed to be a coincidence or not that Catherine and Imogene happen to live something like three blocks from each other (okay, probably not that close, but it seems that way when their movements are described). Considering how the two were matched up, it probably isn’t a coincidence. I mean, it was a friend of a friend type deal. Friends who all happen to live in Hoboken. On the other hand, Catherine works in New York, and it is quite easy to see her being friends with someone who also works in New York, but lives in New Jersey. So *shrugs*, let’s just leave it as everyone happens to live in the same city in New Jersey.

 

Right, so, Catherine and Imogene meet at a party for Catherine’s friend – a birthday party. During which the entertainer happens to be a psychic. This is important on several levels. Firstly – Catherine, while talking to a stranger at said part, both of whom appear to be getting on quite well, makes some kind of comment or another indicating that psychics are stupid. Or something like that. The psychic, seemingly right then and there, calls her assistant to stand up to help her. That assistant being Imogene. So, Imogene and Catherine meet bad. Well, good, then foot-in-mouth bad. Secondly – the psychic is Sophie, Imogene’s best friend. Thirdly, despite believing that it would be a bad idea, Catherine can’t seem to stop herself from relatively continuously dropping in on Sophie the psychic for some psychic help.

 

So, Catherine helps Imogene with her finances. While also looking for ‘her man’, and being guided by the tiny drops dripped from the psychic (blue; 11; etc). Imogene, meanwhile, is finding herself getting more and more intrigued by this Catherine.

 

Then . . . plot twist! Someone from the past turns up. And twists the plot, and stuff.

 

Setting/Location

The story takes place in Hoboken New Jersey and lower Manhattan New York. For the most part, the stuff that occurs in NY could have occurred in any high rise (at least in terms of descriptions given). I’ve no clue if the Hoboken described in the book corresponds to the one in real life, but I did get a good sense that I was in a city, bouncing around during a snow storm between apartments, and a store.

 

Overall

There are certain things that kind of are off-putting to me. Things that I don’t want to read. Teacher/student relationships (depending on all parties involved, including age and like, I’m not deeply opposed to the idea, just . . . not while the student is a current student of the teacher); and cheating. There’s a flare of both in this story. Yay?

 

Up to about 62%, or thereabouts, I was considering what I had read up to that point. How I was reacting to it, how good or bad it was and came to the conclusion that I really really enjoyed everything. A well written story with well characterized people (mostly Imogene and Catherine). Then a plot twist occurred. The kind that deeply annoyed me. Well, potentially could have. It’s the type of plot twist I’ve seen before (oddly, or not, the last time I saw this specific plot twist, I think, was in another book that included teacher/student relations).

 

The book started off with me rather liking Catherine, and, to a certain extent, less liking Imogene. Not disliking, just that she hadn’t ‘grown’ on me. Then, somewhere along the way, I came to really like Imogene and . . . kind of dislike Catherine. But, meh, that’s life.

 

By the end of the book, I could say that I liked the characters but not really the story. For the most part. Except even at the end Catherine irritated me. “It feels good to have something they don’t” she says at one point, immediately followed by “They don’t know what it’s like to truly be in love.” Seriously? What kind of bitch is she? She ‘feels good’ that her brothers don’t know what it’s like to ‘truly be in love’? Really? WTF? What the fuck did the brothers do to her that she feels easy to make such a comment? To be glad that they don’t have true love? That annoys me.

 

Regardless, I grew to feel I knew both women, Imogene and Catherine, and mostly liked both of them. Giving the side eye, as I do, to Catherine, listing her on a ‘tentatively like’ list.

 

February 8 2016

Ready or Not by Melissa Brayden

Ready or Not - Melissa Brayden

 

Ready or Not

by Melissa Brayden

Pages: 240

Published Date: November 16 2015

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Series: Soho Loft (3rd in series)

 

Review

Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0

Read: February 5 2016

 

I'll probably not actually get around to writing much about this book, but figured there were certain things to note.

 

1 -- Third book in the series, final book, and third book I've given 5 stars to. First one that went a specific direction that I'm more used to, in the sense that the first two were books I really liked all the way up to a certain point, then got really annoyed at, then in the end thought there were still worth at least 5 stars. This one went my more usual pattern - reading along, enjoying everything, but thinking I was reading something that would probably get rated 4 stars when everything was said and done. Then pulling itself up to the five star mark by the time it was done (though not literally, the rating is unrelated to the epilogue).

 

2 -- The neon blinking foreshadowing moments mostly both appeared, something of a Brayden trademark by this point, and flowed the way I expected. Mostly. The twin thing was a lot more muted than I expected -- a scene kind of what I expected occurred, Mallory bumped into the twin, thought it was Hope, got all pissed off and . . . then things went different than expected - the resolution was a lot smoother and quicker than normal, and quite frankly a lot more enjoyable; the issues involving Dominic went the way I expected; I'm sure there were foreshadowing moments involving Sophie (other than that 'she's from rich people, why's she working here', I didn't see any), but I didn't see her contribution to conflict before it happened; the issue with Mallory's family also came without my prior knowledge it would occur).

 

3 -- This might have been the first one, if I recall correctly, which involved both women's families. And I'll stop here to make note that by family I'm referring specifically to the biological family, not any other use of the word family. I didn't even realize Jessica had a family until the epilogue of this book here. Or, for that matter, that Samantha did either. No, the first book was about Brooklyn's family. If Jessica's family was mentioned at all in that first book, I completely overlooked it. And, again, the second book focused on only one of the couple's families - there the focus was on Hunter's family. By this point, the only thing I know about Samantha's family is that her dad likes Monday Night Football. That's it, sum total of what I know about Samantha's family (that and that her parents are still married to each other). This third book involved both Mallory's family, and Hope's -- though different parts of them. Mostly Mallory's parents (though some siblings popped up to say things like 'I'm going to go check my stocks'); and mostly Hope's sister (though mention occurred of a mother, and an uncle).

 

4 -- I suppose I'll add one last thing: Brent appears yet again in this book; Jessica seemed to have even less lines in this book than in the previous, though her role, to a certain extent, was 'larger' in a certain specific way in this book than in the previous. Ashton had maybe a page or two, less than previous book, and much less than the first book in this series.

 

Hope's side of things brought in a sister - Kara, and bar staff. Teddy the dependable, and Sophie the klutzy rich girl.

 

By this third book, the wonder and joy that is Brooklyn has been mostly overshadowed by everyone else. And her contributions seemed to consist of scenes like 'can't you see I'm staring at the grey spot? I'm working', being bubbly, and being the reason for the first midnight chocolate party (I think it was the first one that occurred in this book). Jessica, already mentioned but I'll add this part here, had even less to do than Brooklyn.

 

To a limited extent, Hunter had a larger role than Brooklyn - since she was friends with Hope before anyone else was, so there were some extra reason for Hunter to maintain some more 'lines'. I'm trying to remember if Sam was in this book beyond 'I've got donuts!; *kissing scenes with Hunter; banter scenes with Hunter; mention of her father then being told to just sit in the corner and let everyone else talk because her perfect family has no baring on this conversation*'. Was Samantha in this book, really? If this was a tv episode, her lines would probably have added up to about 2 to 3 minutes (if that) of screen time in an hour long program (admittedly her on screen time would be more, I'm referring to spoken lines for the 2 to 3 minutes), while her importance to the plot, on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being mostly unimportant to 10 being the plot could not have existed without her, she's probably at about a 0.5 importance. Using that same scale, I'd put Hunter at . . . oh, 4.5.

 

I'm not going to go through the scale with everyone else, though will note that I believe there might have been, and I stress the word 'might', more time spent inside of Mallory's head than in Hope's.

 

Right, so. Loved the book. Series is over. Time to move on with my life. Somehow.

 

February 5 2016

Just Three Words by Melissa Brayden

Just Three Words - Melissa Brayden

 

Just Three Words

by Melissa Brayden

Pages: 264

Date: April 20 2015

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Series: Soho Loft (2nd in series)

 

Review

Rating: 4.75 out of 5.0

Read: February 3 to February 4 2016

 

Right, I should probably actually get around to rating and reviewing this book. Though I kind of don't want to do so.

 

The thing that I had mentioned in my review for the previous book in this series? About being reluctant to dive into this series because everyone and their pet donkey absolutely loved these books? And I didn't want to be the late comer who comes, reads, and finds everything wrong/negative/bad. Was self-conscious about that. Well, I read the first book in this series and, while there were issues I had with it, I still loved the book. So, naturally I started . . . a book in a different series. Another one I kind of feared actually reading since so many seems to love the series. There, though, I found myself loathing the main characters. So, I've kind of put that book on the back burner. I'll probably read and finish it eventually.

 

So, I dove into the second book in this series, this book here. Had been reluctant when I noticed, from the description, that the main coupling here would involve Hunter and Sam - two long term friends and business partners.

 

Rereading what I've written up to this point and I messed up, eh? I had meant to reference my reluctance to read the books in this series, mention that I loved the first book in the series, then mention that some of my fear was found to come true with this book here. The book that people I'm friends with and/or follow gave a higher average rating to than the previous book.

 

Well, enough of that --

 

This book involves Hunter, the ad agency's graphic artist, and Sam, the ad agency's accountant. Being that this is a book that involves a group of friends, and an advertising agency, the people from the prior book, for the most part, also pop up in this one. Even Brent (though less so this time around), Jessica's assistant. Jessica had a much smaller role in this book, and was almost not in it. Ashton had roughly the same amount of page time as Jessica in this book, though only because she got hired, at some point in the process, as an intern. Brooklyn had a larger role than Jessica or Ashton, but a much reduced one from the previous book. Mal, the fourth friend in the four friend group, had about the same amount of pages this time as in the first book.

 

I was going to dive into this book immediately after finishing the first in the series, but stopped myself because of the fact that it involved Hunter and Sam. Seemed a tiny bit incestuous. Not that they were sisters or anything like that, but they kind of love each other like that, right? No? Maybe not. Well, anyway, that's why I dove into a different book before moving to this one when that one tanked.

 

And the reason why I didn't want to dive immediately in this book is one of the main problem areas for the coupling/romance here. As in, they are friends, and business partners, they don't want to ruin either their friendship or their company/ad agency. So, every time they are offered a choice, they take the path that seems more inclined to safe-guard the friendship/business while also likely to be adverse to a successful relationship.

 

This is a two person point of view book. Hunter and Sam. I know there are people who like to include rants about books that are first person books, that have just one point of view (which is not necessarily the same thing as a first person book), but sometimes that is a better solution. Largely, a two person point of view book worked better in this situation. Largely. Because both of their lives/back stories/emotions/etc. was needed - more, at least, than can be gotten if only one of their point of views was present. It did cause me to wish to never read another romance again, though. Because, at some point, the book broke down into something like this:

 

*scene opens during a thunderstorm. Night, late night. A woman jerks awake as thunder booms. She blinks. Licks her lips. Her lips are dry. She licks them again. Shrugs, gets up, and heads to the kitchen. She then spots another person there. The woman is kind of awestruck by the vision before her. Unable to control themselves, they press their lips into the other persons. Thunder booms. Lightening lights up the apartment.*

External chatter:

Person 1: whaaa

Person 2: ... *person two, the kisser, then turns and returns to their room*

 

*next day, kitchen at work*

External chatter:

Person 1: what happened last night? What was that about?

Person 2: I couldn't stop myself. *internal chatter acquired via POV: I wish to continue kissing you until the sun implodes* We . . . we shouldn't do it again, right? *internal: please want to do it again*

Person 1: aaah . . *swallows; internal chatter acquired via POV2: yes, let's, kiss me, please . . nooo, it will ruin everything!!!* aaah . not again . never again.

Person 2: Right. Um. Right. *Internal: crap*

Person 1: back to work. *grins weakly. *internal: crap*

 

*scene 2: apartment*

Person 1: I just can't keep myself off of you! . . um . . sex with benefits? I mean friends with benefits? No strings? *internal: please want strings. I wish to hump you until the end of time*

Person 2: Ahh, I don't . . know if ahh . . *swallows* ookay. Right. Friends with benefits. No strings. *internal: darn, well, she can't be any other way. Not built for relationships. I want to hump her until the end of time, oh well.*

 

Repeat these scenes six hundred more times. Well, not specifically kissing and humping. But the conversations and the internal desires being hidden.

 

Oh, and Brayden, in these two books I've read, seems to like to have big flashing blinking lights foreshadowing conflict points. Happened in first book. Happened in this one. I knew exactly what was going to happen because of that foreshadow point in the first book. I kind of had a 'um, that's not good' kind of reaction this time, but my brain didn't follow to the logical conflict point that would result from this foreshadowing (one of the characters telling Brooklyn that they might really like someone, then slipping in a name of some other person, not the person they wish to hump until the end of time; Brooklyn then revealing this information in a way that causes conflict and confusion – accidentally not on purpose).

 

Also like in the first book, friends, family, business, etc. play big parts in this book here. The family that matters specifically in this one is Hunter's. Hunter and her great relationship with her mother, and horrible relationship with her father; plus there is a straight sister, and a younger brother in the mix as well.

 

There are some important, very important need to know, plot points that I could mention, but I do not feel up for it.

 

This is another book that I felt would end up highly rated, by me. I thought the first book was heading towards me creating a brand new top level shelf just to place that book on it (a 6 star shelf), only to have the book annoy me at a specific point. With that information presented - this one felt like it was a much better book than the previous . . . until a specific point that occurred much earlier in percentage terms. From something like 60% to 70% I was seriously considering putting the book on a DNF shelf; burning all my romance books; deleting all my digital romance books; never reading another romance book ever again.

 

I said something in my status updates that relates to the issue. It was around midnight and I worded things badly. I know women are stereotyped as being chatters, as being more open with emotions and feelings than, say, men (while women also - from the male perspective, saying things like 'you know why I'm angry. I shouldn't have to say why'). That doesn't mean that lack of communication/miscommunication doesn't happen between two women. It can and does happen. I'm just tired of it being a major plot point in romance books. My status update made some kind of comment, something like 'I moved from MF to FF because I wanted to try to get away from this failure to communicate (because men are fucking morons, right?)'. What I didn't mention at the time is one simple fact. Lack of communication? Miscommunication? Is something I've run into a lot more often in lesbian books than in non-lesbian books. Actually, I could probably just say LGBT books, as I've also run into it more often in FF as well as MM books. More often than in MF books.

 

But, alas, I managed to finish the book. And need to find some method of rating. I can’t just leave it unrated. It’s confusing. I’m both inclined to rate this book 2 stars. And inclined to rate it 5. And no, I have no desire to merge the two together, take an average, and rate the book 3.5 stars. No, this is not a 3.5 star book. It’s either a 2 star book, or a 5 star book. Maybe I should flip a coin. Okay, I flipped a coin. 2 times it landed tails (2 stars), 1 time it landed heads (5 stars). Therefore, and naturally, that means I rate this book something. Hmm, flipped the three coins one more time each. 2 heads, 1 tails. Meaning 3 and 3. Luck is no help!

 

February 4 2016

Atlantis and the Biblical Flood: The evidence at last? by Philip Runggaldier

Atlantis and the Biblical Flood: The evidence at last? - Philip Runggaldier

 

Atlantis and the Biblical Flood: The evidence at last?

by Philip Runggaldier

Pages: 258

Date: January 6 2016

Publisher: Matador

Series: N/A

 

Review

Rating: 3.0 out of 5.0

Read: January 28 to February 3 2016

 

*I received this book from NetGalley in return for a fair review.*

 

My first book by this author.

 

I am not always very good at reviewing nonfiction, so let me see what I can do.

 

There are many theories presented in this book. Before I get to that, I would like to mention two things:

 

1) I’m not exactly sure if the author had, at some point, planned on writing a memoir or something like that. And somehow that got intermixed with this book. Or, to put that differently – I do not know why I am learning specific things, like the author had a job, but then put in the paperwork to leave that job. Then he fell down on some ice – important point noted by the author -> teenagers laughed at him. Then he sold his house, lived in his parent’s house, and while there visited many libraries. Then he bought a house. Then he completely ‘redid’ the house. At one point I joked with myself that the author must be single and/or someone who never dates since nothing like that has been mentioned. The author then mentioned that type of thing. He then sells that house he had and moved to another. Um . . . why am I getting all of this information?

 

2) There are some interesting theories here. It might have been/probably would have been ‘better’ if things had been done in certain stages. As in: here is evidence of a really large lake; here is evidence that something like a center of civilization was located somewhere in Britain; here is evidence that places it on the Celtic plane; here is evidence of why early human settlement of Britain is patch and or not present from roughly 24,000 to 15,000 years ago. The end. Now let people absorb this information. Accept or reject. Because the next bunch of theories are the kind you want some greater foundation for and are directly related to these other, supposedly less controversial theories. Then mention things like how all of this might be the story behind the biblical flood; how this center of civilization might be related to that fabled city called Atlantis (especially since so much of the evidence mentions something like ‘assuming scientists accept the Llyn Llion theory, then the rest flows from that.

 

Right. Okay then.

 

Theories:

 

I. Lake Llyn Llion

A. Based on evidence, including what can be seen on survey maps of the Irish Sea and surrounding bodies of water; evidence on land; and other evidence – at some point in time, the Irish Sea (that body of water between Scotland/Wales/England and Ireland) got closed off during the ice age. A lake formed. Because the water had trouble exiting, this lake moved higher than the current sea levels. Because of the warmer water brushing up against the ice sheets, the ice sheets melted, expanding the lake, raising the lake, and turning the lake into a fresh water lake.

 

B. There is evidence in the regional folk stories/myths/legends to support the idea of this lake. (Most of this kind flew over my head, unfortunately)

 

C. As mentioned, there is evidence from the ground itself (the way it has been cut, etc.), that this lake was there.

 

D. As the Oxford Reference defines Llyn Llion:

“Fabulous ‘Lake of the Waves’ in early Welsh tradition, the overflowing of which caused the flood from which Dwyfan and Dwyfach escaped only in a ship built by Nefyd Naf Neifion. Also the home of the water-monster Afanc, Llyn Llion may possibly be associated with the actual Bala Lake.”

 

II. Megaflood

A. At roughly some point around 15,000 to 14,500 years ago Lake Llyn Llion, the lake inhabiting roughly where the Irish Sea currently resides, had a series of floods. Evidence of these floods can be found on the land. Eventually the block of ice blocking the southern border of the lake broke free letting the lake flow freely. Flooding the Celtic plain. Completely covering it and, for the most part, hiding it beneath the sea.

 

B. There is evidence on the land, sea floor, and myths/legends/stories of the peoples of the area that suggest this occurred.

 

C. The people of the time would naturally live in the best areas – at the time this would be the Celtic plain. Filled with wooly mammoths, wooly rhinos, giant deer, and other big game.

 

D. The flood destroyed most evidence of early human inhabitation when it covered the Celtic Plain.

 

II. Biblical Flood

A. This flood (the emptying of Llyn Llion), which, remember, took place around 15,000 to 14,500 years ago, is one of the largest that have occurred with direct impact on humans. Literally, the world as they knew it was covered (as in, the Celtic plain was covered by water).

 

B. Myths/legends/stories from the people of the area recount a flood involving this Llyn Llion Lake. At least one such story I’ve already indirectly mentioned when I quoted the Oxford Reference – ‘the flood from which Dwyfan and Dwyfach escaped only in a ship built by Nefyd Naf Neifion’, or as mentioned in this book here, two guys in a boat with some animals escaped the flood. Current theory places this story as an offshoot of the one in the bible. The author of this book notes that it is more likely that this early flood, that took place around 15,000 years ago, is actually the inspiration for this Dwyfan & Dwyfach story, and itself is the inspiration for the flood found in the bible.

 

III. Atlantis

A. Evidence strongly suggests that there was a high level culture which lived in the British Isles at roughly the time of the Irish Sea Lake. This was the Creswellian culture. This culture had some highly advanced stone tools, spears, and other items distinctly their own, which show up in northern Europe. Somewhere around the time of this megaflood, that culture somewhat collapsed. The stone tools took a nosedive in quality, and other indications of this cultural collapse. The reason for this collapse was not known. The author believes it is directly tied to this megaflood that occurred. (For my own sake I looked up the Creswellian culture on Wikipedia. Which may or may not be correct – it dates the Creswellian culture to 13,000-11,800 BP. I have no idea what BP means. I’ve heard of B.C. And B.C.E. (Before Christ; Before the Common Era). I have no idea what BP means. Does it correspond to the normal dating system? Or is it some brand new thing inserted to fuck with me? Assuming 13,000-11,800 corresponds to 13,000-11,800 years ago, then the culture does not match up with the flood (there’s kind of a 1,500 year gap there between the latest point the flood could have occurred and the start of the culture (not the end). Note – 13,000 years ago is not the same thing as 13,000 B.C.; 13,000 years ago would actually be 11,000 B.C.).

 

B. The author locates a spot on this Celtic Plain which he feels corresponds to a possible large scale village/town/city.

 

C. A scoring system is put forth by the author to judge his own possible placement of Atlantis, and the location currently put forth as the best most likely (if it is real) location of Atlantis (Crete or another Minoan island). – The scoring system takes the statements of Plato and digs out the ones that can be said to, as closely as possible, be statements that could be checked. As in ‘there is a canal’. And either doesn’t use, or puts less weight to those statements which are much harder to use, as in ‘there was this pretty mountain’.

 

D. The author then offers the reader a chance to score the Minoan theory and the Celtic Plain theory as the location of Atlantis, based on statements dug up from, mostly, Plato’s story of Atlantis (plus 1 from some other, 1 from both that other guy and Plato, and maybe 1 more from some third person).

 

E. The author notes something like how he attempts to both to . ... I forget how it was worded. The point, though, was that he attempted to give greater weight to the Minoan connections to Atlantis, and less to his own theory. Or something like that.

 

F. He comes to the conclusion that the Minoan one falls into a percentage zone wherein it might be Atlantis, but then again, Atlantis might be an invention of Plato.

 

G. He then says his own theory does not prove Atlantis exists. But that there is a good chance that it might be on this Celtic Plain. The evidence, when examined, can and should move points forward and backward. I’ve one specific problem with this point system – at times it seemed to be over scoring his own theory – at least in the sense wherein he says something like ‘assuming my theory is accepted by scientists (there’s this lake, it exposed a body of land (the Celtic Plain), ice age people are more likely to live there; etc), then I give this amount of points.’ This is why I started my review by noting that the author should have laid the groundwork for – ‘hey guys? I think there was a lake here – this is the evidence I came up with; and I think I have a reason for why evidence of early humans is missing during a period of time in the British Isles, here is my reasoning. Here is my reasoning as to why a certain level of civilization existed in the British Isles, based on this evidence. So, what do you think guys?’ And then, and only then, point out certain things like ‘thanks for believing that this lake/flood/civilization might actually have occurred, roughly around the dates I’ve given; what do you think about this next set of theories? Matching up local legends/myths/stories to the biblical flood, you know, now that you agree that a flood likely occurred here; what do you think of something like a city/or at least large encampment in this general region of the Celtic Plain?’ etc.) Especially since so much of his scoring says ‘assuming this theory (of a lake, of a plain, of flooding, of my interpretation of those thingies detectable on the ocean floor) is accepted, then . . .’

 

IV. Jewish People

A. I do not even know why he tosses this one in there, because it isn’t fully developed. It’s just ‘guys, neat, guys, look at this neat thing I noticed – you know that menorah? It kind of looks like how I’ve drawn the rivers, etc. for my version of a city on the Celtic Plain that I’ve called Atlantis. What do you guys thing; neat, right?’

 

Overall

This was an interesting read. For the most part. There were some points where I, metaphorically speaking, fell asleep. And other parts where I was quite interested in what was being discussed.

 

It was interesting. But some things were over my head, some things were confusing for their inclusion (not limited to the personal information spread throughout the book), and the like. I’d recommend the book more to people interested in early peoples of the British Isles than those interested in Atlantis. The Atlantis stuff was interesting, I suppose, just not sure if people interested in Atlantis would want to read all this other stuff.

 

Oh, and one passing thought. There were several occasions when the author made connections based on words, and language. For all I know, this stuff could have been brilliant detective work on the author’s part. It kind of read, though, like someone 2,000 to 3,000 years in the future spotting Plato’s story of Atlantis, spotting an old map, seeing ‘Atlanta’ and going ‘whoooaaa, I bet that’s actually Atlantis!’

 

February 3 2016

Kiss the Girl by Melissa Brayden

Kiss the Girl - Melissa Brayden

 

Kiss the Girl

by Melissa Brayden

Pages: 314

Date: July 13 2014

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Series: Soho Loft (1st in series)

 

Review

Rating: 4.75 out of 5.0

Read: February 2 2016

 

There are something like a million and one (or 14 to 78) brilliant reviews here. I'm not going to be adding much new to the discussion at this point.

 

This book is the first book I've read by this author. I was 'pushed' into reading this book because of a group I am in that is currently running a 'pick it' group challenge.

 

I had been putting off this book because everyone and their pet donkey just absolutely loves this book. And I didn't want to go in, after everyone else, pick at it and go . . . you know what? I don't really like this here. Yes, I felt self conscious.

 

The book involves Brooklyn Campbell, Hunter something or other, Samantha, and Mallory who jointly run an advertising agency in New York City. They meet in college and they are roughly around the age of 28 (though I believe the prologue indicated some were older than Brooklyn). Brooklyn is the main point of view for this set of friends. Brooklyn was put up for adoption when she was a baby and went in and out of various foster homes until, at some point, she ended her 'tour' in a group home and aged out of the system at 18.

 

The second group of people this book involves is Jessica Lennox and . . . um, she's friends with her assistant Brent. And is friendly her teenage neighbor Ashton. Lennox is a hard charging head of an advertising agency that she started long ago. It is also located in New York City. Lennox is described as being a bitchy, ball busting, 'get my way or I'll cut you' type of person. Oh, and she might be married to a billionaire who helps her find business. Most of this is based on rumors and nothing but rumors. Lennox, though, likes how the rumors help her in business, so does nothing to 'set people right' and 'fix' her image. I'm using Lennox on purpose, instead of Jessica (or Jess). Because I'm mostly referring to her business persona. Jessica/Jess, though, is nothing like what others see her as being. Oh, and Jessica is really really old...er than Brooklyn. 10 years older. 38. Or, in other words, younger than me.

 

Before I move on - I rather like both Jessica and Brooklyn.

 

Okay then. Brooklyn is having a rotten day - pulled over and ticketed for speeding, her car is towed, her heel on her favorite shoes break, and, to top it off, her birth mother has offered contact information through an organization that does stuff like that (Brooklyn had signed up with them when she was 18, i.e., 10 years ago). Gazing around in despair, she contemplates what to do with herself. Spots a neat looking place across the street from a print shop (there's a reason why she is there; oh - and the print shop line was super long - to add to her woes).

 

Brooklyn enters this lovely looking place. Walks right up to the bar and . . . realizes her purse is in her car (which just got towed away, remember). She kind of whimpers.

 

Jessica has had a tough day. She decides to do two things she rarely ever does - step out earlish from work, and go home. No the go home isn't the second thing. The second thing is to step into this neat little bar that is near her home. As she sits there looking around kind of happy she decided to step in, she spots a rather attractive woman step in. And overhears her exchange with the bartender (um, I forgot to mention that, Brooklyn's 'realization' about her purse took place out loud). Jessica offers to pay for Brooklyn's drink.

 

Brooklyn is reluctant but eventually agrees. Jessica introduces herself as Jessica . . . Jess. But without a last name, and makes a game of not saying what her job is (well, one of them do, I forget which one started the game of Brooklyn guessing Jess' job). Both have a fabulous time. It ends with Jessica acquiring Brooklyn's number, and giving a brief kiss. Which expands into a really passionate kiss. The kind that makes your toes curl and your hair stand up straight (or whatever it is that happens). They part.

 

Jessica and Brooklyn meet again, as someone who read the beginning of this review might suspect, when both turn up for an advertising job. Jessica Lennox is quite well known to Brooklyn's ad agency, but Brooklyn doesn't normally go on calls (and therefore doesn't know what Jessica Lennox, professional ball crusher, looks like). Plus, Jess never gave her last name. Jessica leaves a conference room. Brooklyn spots her. They gaze at each other. Brooklyn is now flustered and somewhat messes up her first ever attempt to talk to clients in a client meeting.

 

Jess texts Brooklyn. They kind of flirt by text.

 

The 'Cinderalla kiss' is mentioned by Brooklyn to her coworkers (well, it was mentioned, I forget the sequence now). The idea of having any kind of relationship, friend/romantic or otherwise, with someone like Jessica Lennox is roundly booed by everyone of Brooklyn's friends. Brooklyn kind of agrees with them.

 

Time passes. The Foster account is fought over by both Brooklyn and Lennox's ad agencies.

 

Eventually Brooklyn uses that contact number she got for her birth mother. Eventually her relationship with Jess advances . . . somewhat. Meanwhile Ashton, the teenage next door neighbor of Jessica's, is having a rotten time with her alcoholic mother - Jessica tries to help.

 

There's a really intense scene in a stuck elevator between Jessica and Brooklyn (which occurred, I believe, actually before Brooklyn attempts to contact her mother; it's not related, I'm just fixing the chronology I messed up in my review).

 

At some point, while reading this book, I was seriously contemplating making a brand new shelf. I would call this shelf something like '6 star books'. Then put this book on said shelf. Because this was, in fact, a really really good book. Until it wasn't.

 

The 'it wasn't' part occurred when a specific incident occurred. And I could immediately foretell what would then happen next. And everything unfolded almost exactly as I thought it would. About 99.9% exactly like I thought it would. To be fair, everything that happened? Did not seem like a contrived little thing to add to the book to add tension/drama/and conflict. It did, in fact, seem like a natural extension of the book (which is also why I knew immediately what would happen after the fact, and was 99% correct - because everything flowed naturally). Well damn. I was going to pinpoint the 'incident' at the beginning. Ah well. It was when Brooklyn visited Jessica. At her office. A bag may or may not be involved. I'm trying to be vague for those who haven't read the book, while giving enough for those who have to know what I'm referring to. *inserts spoiler tags*

 

The book was filled with a ton of tension/drama/etc. based on intergroup dynamics involving the Campbell friend group and their reaction to Brooklyn-Jessica link up; the ad agency competition; the drama over the birth family; and, most specifically of importance for a romance - relationship tension (both because of that issue of Brooklyn's friends not liking Jessica; being rivals; Brooklyn having commitment and trust issues; having to take things slow; etc.). So, tacking on an extra layer, even if a natural development for the book, seemed like a layer too many.

 

Oh, and, you know (those who have read my reviews before), how I recently made a comment on another book recently read about how it contained that cliche of 'I'm a powerful woman. I'm giving up control and submitting to another woman. I think I like it'? That cliche, once again, turned up in this book. And yes, it once again pulled me from the story. Though I just kind of laughed and dove back in. See, this was when I still thought of this as a six star book, and that specific scene neither increased nor decreased the overall score given to this book. (Though, I also admit (did I admit anything previously, dang it, I don't want ot reread my own review), Brayden handled that scene brilliantly).

 

So, for these and other reasons, I cannot break open a brand new 6 star shelf and shove this book onto it. Nor, in good conscious can I add this to my super duper and special 5.5 star shelf. I have currently placed it on no specific star shelf. Though I've currently rated it 4.75 stars. I am contemplating which shelf to add this book to. 3.5? Probably not. 4? Maybe. 4.5? Perhaps. And, surprising, I know, I still have a strong desire to put this on my five star shelf

 

February 3 2016

24/7 by Yolanda Wallace

24/7 - Yolanda Wallace

*I received this book from NetGalley in return for a fair review.*

 

24/7

by Yolanda Wallace

Pages: 240 pages

Published Date: March 15 2016

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Series: N/A

 

Review

Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0

Read: February 1 to February 2 2016

 

 

My first book by this author.

 

First off – I had an idea that I would be reading one of those ‘danger’ type books based on the book description, but I didn’t realize that it would be both a mystery and a thriller. Plus the nature of the danger was a lot more extensive than I realized.

 

Second off – issues. I have four specific issues, all of which might be there when the book is officially published, or 1 or more might not be. Keep that in mind. Ack. The second issue turned out not to be an issue. At some point in the book Finn mentioned that she had never seen the pyramids in person. Then much later in the book she said she saw the pyramids in person. My mind was playing tricks on me. No, not what I just wrote, that happened. I just thought they both referred to the Egyptian pyramids. But no, they referred to Egyptian (for having seen in person), and Mayan (for never before seeing in person before now). There might be some section where that is reinforced, where I got the idea wrong, but I think this specific issue was on my end. A misunderstanding on my part. Cleared up when I went looking for it to put into this review.

 

First issue: Power play during sex. ‘She enjoyed the power play. Giving up her own in order to submit to Finn’s. So different to what she was used to’ (exact quote). I had to stop reading when I read this part. Briefly. It’s vaguely unfortunate. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the comment or issue, it’s just that it’s kind of a cliché in lesbian fiction. One or another woman, at some point, makes some comment like ‘normally she is in command, but now she isn’t, and she liked the feeling/giving up control’ (not an exact quote). It’s the concept of a strong woman finding pleasure/fun/etc. by giving in, by allowing the other to have control. It is, more than anything else, my own fault. I just read a book (or three) right before this one that had the exact same sentiment. So it gets a little weary-ing to keep coming across it. Luckily it just gave me brief pause and did not otherwise ruin the book. Not an issue that impacts the rating in any way.

 

Second issue: pyramids. Turns out to not be an issue.

 

Third issue: Ending. I liked everything about the book, for the most part. Beginning, middle, and the end. Except for the last paragraph. I, for obvious reasons, can’t be more specific. It’s not an issue that impacts the rating, though.

 

Fourth issue: Both Luisa and Finn have this habit of constantly talking to themselves. Out loud. Luisa, if I recall correctly, only talked to herself when she first arrived in her apartment, though maybe she also did so at other times. Finn, though, seems to be constantly talking to herself. I don’t mean internal monologue, I mean literally mouth open, words coming out, addressed to herself. It’s vaguely distracting. Though I’ve known plenty of people who ‘do that’ in real life. Since I put this thought down for most of the other issues: the talking to themselves issue does not have any impact on the rating or enjoyment of the book.

 

Characters

This book is one of those two person point of view type books. Told from the point of view of Finn Chamberlain and from the view of Luisa Moreno.

 

Finn Chamberlain is a travel writer for a print magazine. A comment is tossed out about it being one of the few print ones still around (or something like that). Her job apparently consists of receiving phone calls to immediately head to anywhere in the world on roughly no notice (I guess there might be 24 hour notice, that might be what that 24/7 title might be about; I might be dim as it finally hit me what 24/7 is actually about (I think) - she gets 24 hour notice for a 7 day working vacation). She prefers the kind of trip where she can wander the location herself. Set her own agenda. That is not her current assignment, though. Her current assignment sends her to Cancun, specifically to be a member of a tour group called SOS (Sisters of Sappho; hmm, that’s also the name of a series of pornographic videos, I did not know that). SOS is a tour group for lesbians. She’s originally from Montana, but has seen lots and lots of the world now ('my passport has more stamps than most people have in theirs'), and now has an apartment in San Francisco.

 

Luisa Moreno is an ex-military person (I do not recall if it was ever mentioned if she was enlisted or an officer), who, because of an issue involving corruption, moved from the military to the police. Specifically the Mexican Federal Police. She has a strong sense of honor, and a need to serve her country. This is difficult, in some ways, when that country is Mexico, and corruption is rampant. Especially with how much control the drug cartels have.

 

Others: Ryan, Jill, Aurora, and others are members of the tour group. And, as might be expected, lesbians. Jill and Ryan are friends who may or may not want to be more than friends. Aurora is described as an African-American woman with a large Mohawk, is in a wheelchair, and is on the older side of the tour members.

Javier Villalobos, and Mrs. Villalobos. Mrs. Villalobos is Luisa’s next door neighbor and Javier is her grandson (Mrs. Villalobos grandson, not Luisa’s grandson) who works as a vender near Chichén Itzá. Mrs. Villalobos keeps trying to set Luisa and Javier up.

Director Chavez is Luisa’s boss in the Mexican Federal Police.

Ruben Huerta works in the Records Management. The first coworker to be friendly to Luisa. The others jeer and leave rats on her desk.

 

Romance

The romance is different than ones I’ve come across before (I’ve a vague feeling that I have used this expression relatively numerous times this year). It’s one of those that seemed doomed from the start. Being, as it did, start with a ‘quickie’. As I’ll probably mention in the plot section, Luisa and Finn meet at the Dallas airport. At a bar in the airport. They feel a connection between the two of them, and they hurriedly act on it in the limited time they have before their two separate places take off.

 

Both go into it expecting nothing more than a fling, though it is out of character for Luisa to act such. But two events occur at the time of the 'quickie' that make them think it might not be a one time thing. They exchange telephone numbers, and Finn gives Luisa a pig (I’ll admit that I got a little misty-eyed, oddly I know, when that pig got handed over). That little pig had gone with Finn everywhere, all over the world.

 

As I mentioned, the romance is different than one I’ve explored before. Started with a quickie in a hotel room. Followed by telephone calls while both are separated by many miles (one located in Mexico City, the other in Cancun).

 

Feelings developed on both sides. And . . . um . . . stuff. I do not know how to close this section.

 

Sex

I sometimes have a separate section for this topic, and sometimes do not. Mostly so I can say something like “yes, there is graphic sex that takes place in this book”. And, so: graphic sex occurs. For some unknown reason, my life seems to involve reading books that have sexual encounters, mixed with ‘other stuff’. And those sexual encounters seem to almost always happen while I’m on the train. No idea what’s going on there. Other than something I previously mentioned, that ‘power play’ comment, I liked what occurred. And as I tend to say, that’s all I’m going to say on the subject.

 

Mystery/Thriller

Once Luisa starts her job with the police, she is given the task of continuing an assignment her missing predecessor had been working on. Investigating the Jaguar cartel and trying to determine who the secretive leader might be. Plus unraveling several other mysteries along the way. And this isn’t just something to say that Luisa is doing while Finn is off on a working vacation, Luisa is actually shown doing investigations and interviews. Putting the pieces together. Etc. And clues she picks up are instrumental in solving the mystery.

 

The thriller part . . . I’m not sure how to mention it without risking spoiler stuff. Let me look at how the book is described again. Yeah, I can’t mention what occurs. This is annoying. I kind of wish this was mentioned in the book description so I could then make comments on it in this review, but I can’t. Let’s just say that somewhere along the line, the investigation that Luisa is conducting, and the working vacation Finn is on, merge and danger explodes all around them.

 

Plot

The book is structured into days. With a chapter that takes place before the vacation in Cancun and one that takes place after. The events, not including those two other chapters, take place over a seven day period of time.

 

During each day, the women follow their separate paths. After arriving at her new job, Luisa spends each day investigating the Jaguar cartel, while Finn experiences whatever the resort has to offer. At the end of each day (sometimes during the day, and sometimes a connection fails to occur for the night call) the two talk on the phone.

 

Somewhere along the line the danger/element of risk ratchets up until the book turns into a thriller/suspense tale. I can’t really be more specific without being all spoiler-y and stuff. I rather like it, though. I can say that much. My heart was beating fast, my breathing, at times, was also kind of fast, my irritation level with humanity was at a heightened level (here referring specifically to the really annoying people who refused to stop entering/leaving/walking near me while I attempted to read). Exciting all the way around.

 

Setting/Location

In terms of setting/location, there’s one specific thing I wish to note before I move on: I did not realize that the first meeting between Finn and Luisa would occur in Dallas. I had this vague idea that they would first encounter each other in Mexico. Only reason why I thought that, I suppose was because I wasn’t using my brain. Yes Luisa is a Mexican Federal Police officer, but that doesn’t mean she is bound to only travel within the confines of Mexico. So . . . now that that is out of the way.

 

The book takes place in four specific locations, and three ‘additional’ moving situations (I won’t mention these specifically in a separate paragraph – I’m referring here to airplane flights, boat chases, and bus trips). The book opens in the Dallas airport. And a hotel in Dallas. Nearish to the airport, I assume. Other than conveying the idea that the people are in an airport bar, and in a hotel, which was done well, I had no real connection/feeling for Dallas. Nor did I expect to do so.

 

The second location that the book wanders around in is Mexico City. Completely, in terms of main characters, wandered around in by Luisa. Some things were added, monuments, the difference air has (humid; lack of – because of elevation) to improve upon the concept of ‘this is Mexico City’. I felt like I was in an apartment building, police station, etc., then out and about visiting a jail and then a rural town like village. The apartment building and police station could have been anywhere. The rural town location felt like Mexico.

 

The third location that the book wanders around in is Cancun. This is one of the few moments when a book wanders around in a foreign country, and I have firsthand knowledge of the location. You know what Finn does in Cancun? Stay in the resort, walk on the beach, and go to Chichén Itzá (which isn’t in Cancun, but is something people can and do like to visit while vacationing in Cancun; since it is a nearish Mayan city). So, my first hand knowledge is, for the most part, useless.

 

The family and I mostly didn’t stay in the hotel. Except for an occasional use of the pool, that is. It was connected to a beach, but none of us visited said beach. Mostly because the beach was said to be quite rocky. Instead we went to Cozumel to do beach/snorkel stuff. Which no one does in this book (nor should they have had to just because I did, heh; on the other hand there is a boat chase that mentions ‘a small island’, it’s vaguely possible this unnamed ‘small island’ might have been Cozumel – more than likely that ‘small island’ was Isla Contoy, or Isla Mujeres, especially since an island of 250 miles, Cozumel, isn’t exactly small. Hmm. Isla Mujeres looks puny in comparison to Cozumel on the map, yet has a given area of 425 miles – I give up. hehe).

 

Right, but a visit to Chichén Itzá did occur in the book, and I did also visit Chichén Itzá. I assume the book is supposed to be contemporary, i.e., sometime around 2015 or 2016. And I visited a decade or two ago (I can’t be more exact, it’s possible it was literally 2 decades ago). So the fact that one of the best memories of my life consisted of running up and down the temple stairs while everyone else crawled, while the same temple is described as being roped off doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Maybe it wasn’t roped off when I went, but is now. Allowing the vendors onto the land, though, is confusing. I can see them deciding to safeguard the ruins by roping it off. But to do that while also allowing vendors onto the land seems counterintuitive. Since there were no vendors allowed onto the land when I went. They were all outside the gate (being that these events of mine occurred 2 decades ago, my memory might be faulty; though there is a ‘gift center’ and like that is in the book, and in my recollections). And yes, there is an important moment when Finn happens to visit a vendor at Chichén Itzá, but she could have done that outside, since there is time spent outside the gate. So, long and short – I had a good sense of the pool area of the resort, one room (Finn’s), the beach area nearish the hotel, and Chichén Itzá. Also, the trip in the bus, plus the views from said bus (driving along, looking out and seeing really run-down, 3rd world like dwellings barely standing up), vividly call back memories of my own trip on a bus in between my hotel and Chichén Itzá.

 

Overall

Bah. Here I am doing a run through of my review to try to catch a few mistakes (likely failing), and I come to this section. And see it blank. Mmphs.

 

Overall, I rather loved this book. Somewhere along the way I thought that I might end up giving this book somewhere around 4 stars, or the like, but by the time I was done, the book was firmly in five star territory. So, um, I liked it, and stuff. Yay?

 

I liked this book. I recommend this book. If you want to know what Cancun is like outside of a resort, this isn’t the book to read. Otherwise, there is nothing to detract or keep me from recommending this book.

 

February 2 2016

Soul Unique by Gun Brooke

Soul Unique - Gun Brooke

 

Soul Unique

by Gun Brooke

Pages: 264

Date: July 20 2015

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Series: N/A

 

Review

Rating: 5.5 out of 5.0

Read: February 1 2016

 

My first book by this author. Truth be told, I had actually been interested in this specific book for a while now, but two things kept me away. I think, and I could be wrong here, but I think I had briefly tried one of the author’s other books and couldn’t get into it. It was a science fiction book, and if she hasn’t written anything like that, then I’m obviously thinking of someone else. (I looked it up, I am thinking of and indirectly referring to Protector of the Realm, the first book in a science fiction series by this author – mind you, there’s a reason it isn’t on a DNF, or paused shelf – I’d read the sample, not attempted to read the book).

 

The second reason for my hesitation is something that I would normally not allow to influence me. The cover. The cover with two fake looking 3d avatars. I’m the kind of person, who is sometimes drawn to off-ball covers, but something about 3d avatar covers pushes me away, and so, I was pushed away because of the cover.

 

Characters

One point of view – that of Greer Landon.

Greer Landon - art gallery owner (a network of galleries, not just one), has a big reputation in the art community. Her age, if given, isn’t clear. She’s apparently older than Hayden, though I’m not sure how much older. Several comments, which would lead one to think ‘much older’ could also be ‘much more experienced’ type comments, which can be made regardless of age. She is also wealthy. Whether from her own efforts or family money is unclear.

 

Hayden Rowe - 25(?) – from an old family with lots of money. Aspergers’ syndrome. Very bad relationship with mother and father who, apparently, have no ability to deal with the facts involving their daughter (more the mother who can’t handle it, and a father who doesn’t help the situation, but still, both). Has good/close relationship with grandmother, though grandmother had a stroke a year ago. Book opens with Hayden living in an art school, in one wing of it, on a cot. Art school owned by her mother. The same mother who treats her daughter like a stupid retarded (I use that specific word on purpose) moron.

 

Others: India and Erica – India is Greer’s assistant, and Erica is India’s partner. If it isn’t clear, everyone in this sentence is a lesbian.

 

Hayden’s mother, Leyla Rowe, – bitchy small woman, who is in her late 50s, who wants her art school to be endorsed by Landon. Bitter over losing control of her daughter when daughter was around 14, but sees her as a thing, a broken thing.

 

Hayden’s grandmother, Isabella Calthorpe Rowe, – sharp witted woman who is currently in a rich-person’s nursing home like place. The Calthorpe part is important – that’s the name of the family from the dawn of time (or something like that).

 

Penelope Moore – a neighbor of Greer’s who Hayden paints. Famous author.

 

Romance

Hayden and Greer’s romance started slowly. They have something of an instant connect (at least as far as I can tell from only Greer’s point of view; and her insight into Hayden’s feelings). At times I worried that things might lean a little too far into a certain icky territory. It depended on how much Greer saw Hayden as an independent woman with her own thoughts and desires. Instead of, say, the way Leyla Rowe saw her daughter – as someone incapable of caring for themselves, and probably needs to be locked away from the public. There were times when Greer almost tipped into that direction, but she kept on the ‘sane’ side of the line.

 

Because of Hayden’s ‘condition’, aspergers, Greer wanted to take things slow, to really make sure everyone knew what was happening and agreed with everything. Her attraction to Hayden, though, made things hard for Greer. And, at times, Hayden pressed/pushed Greer on the issue.

 

Despite, or because of this, their relationship and romance grew somewhat naturally – and was something of a treat to read. Bah, I looked up how to spell aspergers and treat came from me seeing ‘treatment’ out of the corner of my eye. Hehe. I don’t know what “Chronic: can last for years or be lifelong” means.

 

Sex

As I’m sure some want to know, yes there is graphic sex in this book. Eventually. Other than kissing and the like, the ‘heavy’ stuff starts with something like 80% of the book already over. It was descriptive, graphic, and I liked it. I have nothing more to say on the subject.

 

Location

Most of the book takes place in Boston. I have a strong sense of Leyla Rowe’s art school, particularly Hayden’s wing of it; a strong sense of Greer’s home, an unexpected strong sense of the grandmother Rowe’s place. But if it wasn’t for the fact that the word Boston was used at some point, I would have no idea I was in Boston. Not exactly a negative, just an FYI, don’t read this as something like a travel guide to Boston (for that: look at a travel guide, or if you want fiction, pick up a book by Robert B. Parker, especially one of the Spenser ones that doesn’t mention heading off to some other location).

 

Some part of the action takes place in Chicago as well. Briefly.

 

Plot

A person with a high level of acclaim in the art community is asked by an art school person to come by her place and potentially ‘endorse’ the school. That person of influence being Greer Landon, and the person with the art school being Leyla Rowe. I do not know Landon’s background, though the area she lives in, and vague hints left here and there indicate that she comes from some form of money and the like. Which I mention, because one of the things I wanted to say, in reaction to the first sentences I had written, involved how Leyla came from the kind of money and family background that is very deep and ancient. And Greer . . .. So having things being flipped like this . . . .

 

But then I recalled that the ‘old family’ was Leyla’s husband, daughter, and mother-in-law. I don’t actually know Leyla’s background. Plus, everything seemed to indicate that Greer didn’t exactly spring up out of nowhere. Though there are indications that Leyla was something of a ‘social climber’.

 

So then. Rowe kept very strongly more or less begging Greer Landon and her assistant India, to have Greer stop by. To make her stop, Greer finally agrees. She finds a bitchy short woman who is full of herself once Greer arrived at Rowe’s school. That being Rowe herself. She then is introduced to the ‘advanced class’ being taught by some ‘maestro’ from Italy. Whose name is instantly recognized by Greer. But not in a good way. Greer was one of the people instrumental in getting this fraudster to flee Italy. He isn’t a good painter and isn’t a good teacher.

 

Before Greer could relay any of this information, she overhears someone basically saying just that. A young woman who is instantly attacked by this ‘maestro’, and by Leyla Rowe. I have to stop just calling Leyla by the name of Rowe, because the young woman also has that name. Hayden Rowe, being Leyla’s daughter, makes her comment then leaves (though after Greer says that Hayden is correct).

 

Leyla and maestro talk in a corner. Greer looks over the students’ easels and says something about leaving, but they say they have some stuff set up in a gallery, so Greer decides to look at it. She isn’t exactly ‘blown away’ by any of it until she rounds a corner and is. Deeply impacted emotionally by gazing upon a painting hanging on the wall. She demands to know who did that painting. Turns out that it was Hayden’s work.

 

Somewhere along the way, Hayden’s wing of the school is visited by Greer. She sees more brilliant artwork. Etc. Etc.

 

For various reasons, Greer agrees to endorse the school but only if Hayden assists, and that ‘maestro’ guy is terminated.

 

Greer Landon feels protective of Hayden, and as the book progresses, they grow closer.

 

Overall

As the saying goes, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover (see, I can have a review where I express something in the beginning, then follow it up in the end). That works for books and people. If you let a label like ‘Aspergers’ syndrome’ get in your way, to guide your actions and reactions to someone, to allow you to use it as a screen to block the real live person beneath then you will miss out on life, love, happiness. You can, of course, put anything in that label section. Race, creed, nationality, gender, socio-economic class, political affiliation, anything. Heh, that reminds me of a particular segment on a British show I loved (the show I loved, not specifically the segment) – ‘I can’t date him! He’s a Tory!’ (not exact quote, I don’t recall exact quote, though ‘but he has a massively large penis’ might be in there as well).

 

My point about all that, of course, was more directed at myself instead of anything in the book itself (though that mother sure did seem hung up on that ‘condition’ her daughter had). Myself in that the cover kind of threw me and made me question whether I should try this book.

 

Glad I got passed that, eh? Or had someone pick the book for me to read for a challenge and therefore ‘push’ me into reading it. Because I rather loved the book. And I’m not saying that lightly. This is both the first day of February, and the first time this year that I felt a book was so good that it broke the scale (or, in other words, is one I’d put on my relatively smallish 5.5 shelf).

 

February 1 2016

Touching Paradise by Cleo Peitsche

Touching Paradise (The Shark Shifter Paranormal Romance Book 1) - Cleo Peitsche

 

 

Touching Paradise

by Cleo Peitsche

Pages: 193

Date: August 27 2014

Publisher: Pouch Productions

Series: Shark Shifter Paranormal Romance (1st in series)

 

Review

Rating: 4.25 to 4.45 out of 5.0 stars

Read: January 29 2016

 

 

This is my fourth work read written by this author, though my first book length work (I know there are some who see a 193 page work as still being in something like the novella class or the like).

 

Just so I don't have to attempt to spell or use the word again - the island that Koenraad patrols, and that Monroe visits is Tureygua.

 

Characters

Only two characters really matter in this book, for the most part, though . . . side characters push the characters. Like, the only reason work-a-holic Monroe is even in the Carribean is because of a wedding ofa friend. And the only reason Koenraad happens to be wandering around kind of patrolling is because of his missing son, and the deal he got talked into by his son's grandfather.

 

I may or may not be conveying this correctly. I'll just pull back and say: there are two point of views. Monroe and Koenraad.

 

Monroe is a work-a-holic woman who would prefer to work than take vacations. Would rather take the money instead of vacation days. She does, though, have some friends. So when they marry, she attends their weddings. Most of the time, though, taking the least amount of time off that she can get away with - like this time, she's planning on leaving earlier than anyone else in the wedding party. She's smart, and she's attractive (through her own eyes she sees herself as being attractive, but not model attractive, to not be overly happy or overly sad that her kinda boyfriend calls her 'kinda hot'; while through Koenraad's lust filled eyes, she's . . . um . . attractive. heh). She is the last of her female friends to remain unmarried, and her current boyfriend refused, at the last minute, to go with her to the wedding. Calling her kinda hot, but boring. One of the most important character traits, though, is that she's deathly afraid of water - mostly 'deep water'.

 

One last point - I've no idea if Monroe is a first or last name. It might have been mentioned in the book, but if so, I overlooked it. I do know that . . . well, vaguely recall that some people, like hotel desk people, might have said something like 'Miss Monroe' at some point or another. On the other hand, everyone calls her Monroe. Her friends, people hired to do stuff for her, her ex?-boyfriend, and her lover all call her Monroe.

People connected to Monroe: Thomas - boyfriend who may or may not be ex-boyfriend. He isn't in the story physically, though texts and emails appear. Oh, and one or two phone calls. Tara - friend, fellow bridesmaid. The friend who appears to care most about Monroe, at least in the sense that she keeps turning up to ask questions and the like. Linda - the bride. Nya - another bridesmaid. I'm not sure if Linda or Nya actually say anything in this book.

 

Koenraad is a shark. Not in a 'loan shark' or a 'he's spirit animal is a shark' way, but in a 'he is a great white shark' way. There are shifters in fiction who are human and then transform into something else - when they are something else, they are a beast and this beast takes over and does stuff that the human has no memory of (this is one of the original versions of werewolves). There are also shifters who are animals who can transform into humans. The closest I can recall would be a kitsune, though that is more of a fox spirit than a fox, who can transform into a woman. There is a fox who transforms into a human female in one series I enjoy, though, in Sam Ryan's Dynasty Saga (still might be a spirit fox instead of a fox fox). And then there are those shifters who shift from human to animal, and retain something of their humanness, their human is in control of the beast. I mention all this because I don't know what Koenraad is. There are indications that he might actually be a shark that can transform into a human. I'm not sure if I misreading things, though.

 

The book opens with Koenraad being super frustrated with his inability to find his son. His . . . um. See, another thing, I got confused as to whether or not Victoria, his son's mother, is actually his wife, ex-wife, or just some woman who tricked him into imprenanting her (well, I do know that he says she tricked him into imprenanting her, I just don't know if after the fact they married or what). Got confused there.

 

Victoria, Koenraad's son's mother, had allowed the boy, Brady, to enter the ocean by himself. Whereupon he transformed into a shark and swam away. He was something like six or seven at the time, and would be around 8 or 9 now. He has still not been found. Victoria alternates between believing the boy to be dead, and believing him to be alive, though most of that 'believing' is to done to get under Koenraad's skin.

 

The missing son pulled Koenraad into agreeing to be a protector to the island - otherwise he would assign Victoria to be the protector. And Koenraad can't be near her, and can't leave because his son might still be around. So, he blocks her by taking the job himself. This being two years before the start of the main story.

People connected to Koenraad: Victoria - the mother of his son; Brady - the son; Darius - the big fish in the area, and uncle? to Brady ("He's your nephew...").

 

One of these days I'm going to have a more natural 'character' and 'plot' sections. mmphs.

 

Others: as I have mentioned, others are in the book. Most don't matter a hill of beans beyond how they pull the two main characters one direction or another. Mostly, though, in having Koenraad being pulled away from humping Monroe to go do his job. Collecting samples and stuff.

 

Plot

The book opens, after the prologue part, with a woman named Monroe standing outside drinking. She's wearing a bridesmaid dress. She's depressed because she's the last of her friends still single, and her boyfriend, who ducked out at the last might from attending the wedding, might be her ex-boyfriend. She gets talked into attending the scuba/snorkel girls-only event the next day. She reluctantly agrees despite being horribly afraid of water.

 

Monroe, that same night, skips out on the reception food and eats something from the hotel while watching an informcial. Both are important plot points.

 

The next day, Monroe turns up to go on that girls-only event. Wearing a bikini that has apparently shrunk. But retained it's very bright colors. She's barely covered but it's the only swmsuit she has. So she throws a cover dress on and heads to a meeting point for that girls-only on the water event. She finds someone named Sosie. Who asks if she is ready. Then proceeds to lead her to a van. Whereupon Monroe notices that the van is empty. Where's her friends? They all got food poisoning (see, I said that the fact that she skipped the wedding reception food was an important plot point). She wants to pull back, to not go on the trip, but she doesn't want to be boring any longer (like her boyfriend calls her), and decides to emprace the opportunity (or whatever that informercial said to do; see, also an important plot point).

 

They, as in Monroe as the only passenger/client, Sosie, and some other guy named Ralph (photographer?; captain of the boat? something), head out to sea. Monroe clutches the railing tightly, may or may not be constantly whimpering as the boat slides through the water.

 

The boat then breaks down. Monroe is quite happy with this development because it means she'll just rest there for, like, 45 minutes, then head back to the hotel. While clutching, tightly, the rail she looks down. Into the eyes of a really really huge great white shark. She screams.

 

Koenraad, that shark, darts under the boat so that now Monroe looks like a moran, because no one else sees the shark. He's kind of happy with himself until he overhears the woman begging to be brought back to her hotel (or something like that). He is now sad that he ruined her vacation. Swims back to his yacht, hops aboard, and sails over to 'rescue' Monroe. And show her a good time. In water. Monroe would much rather just go back to her hotel, but is talked into going with Koenraad (plus that informercial attacks her thought process again). Sosie, though it isn't really important, goes with them as well.

 

It should be noted that Koenraad, as a human, is basically wearing a very revealing speedo. And is something like a well-muscled 6 foot 5 inches tall (and heavily scarred, but I'll let readers find out why). So, Koenraad is wearing a speedo, and Monroe, once she removes her coveral dress, is wearing a shrunken bikini that barely covers. More importantly, Koenraad's senses are heightened, even in human form. He can tell that Monroe is very afraid of the water. And quite aroused by him.

 

There's a nice little scene wherein Koenraad helps ease Monroe into experiencing being in the water. But this was supposed to be a plot section, not a 'let's recap the whole story' section.

 

So, Koenraad and Monroe meet. They have fun together. Make plans to meet again later. Etc.

 

Romance/erotica

Part of the romance is sabtoged by Koenraad needing to work - emergency situation developing in the waters. Which reminds Monroe of someone, Thomas. Who volunteerily took on extra work just to not go to the wedding. But, for the most part . . um . . I really don't know what to say in the romance part. They don't have the traditional candle ligt dinners and the like, but they do date nice - out on the water, and in a lake, and stuff.

 

The graphic sex, aka erotica, was well done. I do not wish to go to far here, but feel the need to note at least one thing - sometimes books like these feel the need to have 'shifted sex' or 'beast sex'. That does not occur here. Though, I do need to also note that Koenraad, even while human, isn't . . . um, fully human. Though that has more to do with the need to bite to mark, and stuff like that. Plus the spikes on his dick. Which he is able to supress. Barely. Was that too much information? I'm not sure. I mean, it's one of those things where you are reading a kind of arousing scene and the guy is thinking about how he has to keep from having his spikes come out. It's kind of . . . distracting.

 

Scenery

The idea of being in the caribbean, on a boat, in the sea, on an island, then in a mansion, was well done. I don't wish to short-change this section but it's the last one I worked on and . . . I'm kind of tired. So . . um . . good work on the scenery stuff.

 

Overall

I rather enjoyed this short novel, and wonder what a full book by Peitsche might be like. Full as in, no cliff-hanger. There is a scale to cliff-hangers; at the lowest level, 1, a book will end with mention of another adventure - everything that came before that mention was a full story and te only reason this counts as a cliff-hanger is the simple matter that the nice happy feeling of 'conclusion' is marred by a 'continued next in [insert title here]'. Compared with something at level 5 which ends mid-scene.

 

'Becky turned to Samantha, opened her mouth and said: "Frankly my dear, I ---"

 

To be Continued'

 

An example of level 1 in films would involve James Bond, which routinely ended with a 'continued in' or 'will be back in' type words at the end ofthe movies. Now not all James Bond stories are complete, though, in one film. There are several occasions wherein the action in the next film picks up directly from the unresolved plot points from the prior film (like when Sean Connery-Bond is hurriedly running around beating people at the start of the next film after George Lazenby-Bond's film. Because Bond's 'girl' was killed. And Bond is pissed off). In books, an example would be the series of short stories put out by J.A. Armstrong, which almost always end with a 'continued in [insert title here]' (it's one of the reasons I somewhat assume one of the series is over now, because it didn't end with that 'continued in' stuff).

 

A level 1 cliff-hanger is just an indication that the characters/story continues. Tacked on to the end of a story/film that is complete in and of itself. A level 2 cliff-hanger is a complete story that has unresolved issues, but ends on natural conclusion. Sometimes those plot points/unresloved issues are never answered. Sometimes they are answered in the next book, or even in the tenth book in a series.

 

This book here is a level 2 cliff-hanger. It has a beginning, middle, and natural end point. But also has unresolved issues. Specifically three unresolved issues, with varying weights of importance attached to them: (1) ex(?) Boyfriend Thomas is on his way to the island and is pissed that Monroe is attempting to end the relationship; (2) the book opened with Koenraad being very frustrated with the inability to find his missing son, there is a seen involving a smallish shark in the book, I am not sure if the reader is supposed to assume that the shark is somehow related to the missing boy, regardless, the book ends with the boy still being missing; (3) there is a 'sickness' spreading through the sea, well, technically there is a point made that it seems to be staying in a certain area, but might spread, or something - that 'sickness' mystery hasn't been resolved.

 

That lack of resolution on three plot points is why I mentioned, at some point, that I'm curious what a 'complete' book by Peitsche might be like. Because, despite certain issues (mostly writing serial works, writing in a genre that gets looked down on, etc.) Cleo Peitsche actually does seem to know how to both write, and write interesting stories.

 

I rather liked this specific book here. I was supposed to read this book next month, for a challenge. But I had read the prologue a few days before (which is how I decided that I wanted to read this for a challenge next month), but when I came to the end of my latest book, I turned to this wereshark book again. I don't know, maybe I figured that, since I had a nonfiction book going, maybe I could stretch this book out until the beginning of February. Didn't happen. I opened the book. Reread the prologue, and by the time I looked up, I was at something like the 80% mark. And blinked. Looked back at the book, and the next time I looked up, book was over.

 

Very interesting book. I rather got into it on several levels, and at least two of the characters, the main two, apepared fully formed. I'd recommend the book. I would note that I didn't immediately pick up the second book because: it's the weekend (and I tend to read less on the weekend) and it's almost February. Maybe I'll read the second book for that challenge. Or not.

 

Overall I'd rate this book a good solid 4.25 to 4.45 out of 5 stars.

 

January 30 2016

Fragile Wings by Rebecca S. Buck

Fragile Wings - Rebecca S. Buck

*I received this book from NetGalley in return for a fair review.*

 

Fragile Wings

by Rebecca S. Buck

Pages: 304

Date: January 18 2016

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Series: N/A

 

Review

Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0

Read: January 28 to January 29 2016

 

 

I think Evelyn, the main character in this book, would be about 115 if she was still alive today (17 in 1918, 26 in 1927). Just a random passing thought I had while the book was winding down.

 

This is the first book that I’ve read by this author. And the second book that involved lesbians living and doing stuff in the 1920s (this one specifically 1927). Though the other book I had read with that setting and theme was set in the USA. Both involved however distantly one or the other might be from the action, both have some vague connection to celebrities and theater people.

 

Shakespeare wrote three types of plays, Tragedies, Comedies, and Histories. The tragedies had moments of comic relief, and the comedies had bits of tragedy mixed in as well. While the histories, well, I don’t know what to say about them – they were the plays based on real life people – kings and Julius Caesar and the like.

 

I note this so that I can then say: the first lesbian book I read involving lesbians in the 1920s was a Comedy. This book here is Drama. Hmms. Oops. I mean, Romeo and Juliet was a Tragedy. Macbeth was a Tragedy. You know what happened at the end of them? Lots of death. Well, death really didn’t play a part in that other 1920s book, and while it played a part in this book, it occurred prior to this books beginning. This is the aftermath of a tragedy. What happens after lots and lots of people die. Hence my calling this a drama instead of a tragedy. Because the tragedy already happened, and now people are trying to live after that fact.

 

Hmms. Now that I look, this book is set in 1927, later than I had thought, while that other book? Set in 1931. Right so . . . not the 1920s. mmphs. That other book being The Seduction of Moxie

 

Characters

The book contains two points of views, though Evelyn’s POV appears to be much larger than Jos’s. Might even be something like 80/20. 80% Evelyn, I mean.

 

Evelyn Hopkins is a young woman from the countryside of England, the southwest peninsula, specifically Devon. Well, more specifically I believe the name given was something like West Combe in Devon, though, looking at a map, I don’t see said place. Though I do see a Woolacombe, and an Llfracombe, and a Salcombe in Devon. Oh look, there’s a Widecombe as well. And a Sutcombe, which is, oddly, in the north of Devon. And a Combe Martin. Whatever Combe is, there sure are a hell of a lot of them.

 

Right, sorry, I should probably just look it up (West Coombe; so I was both right and wrong. Odd how all the Combe’s on the map are listed as Combe not Coombe; well it’s West Coombe, at least, at the 89% mark). I’m doing something that I sometimes do – putting thoughts down when I’m about 90, 95% of the way to being completed. Not sure why. Ooh, there’s a Wiveliscombe also. Dang it, I need to close this map. Hehe.

 

Okay – Evelyn is a young woman from the southeast part of England. I think, and I could very well be wrong with this, but I think that she’s about 26. She’s not ‘modern day’ 26, though. No, she’s a product of her generation and place. Pulled from school at 14 to help her parents in their shop, while her brother gets to remain at school. Whimpering as her brother heads off to war, making a promise to ‘fly’, to, if her brother dies, to go to London. And if he doesn’t, they’ll go together. So that they can fly high. To a certain extent, the worst case scenario occurs – something of a holding pattern. Worse case in being freed to ‘fly’ or make true on the promise, at least. Brother Edward is pronounced MIA by the gov't (assumed dead because so many who are MIA end up being DIA). Months (is it only months?) later news arrivals that a fella who is badly damaged, didn’t have any identification, and couldn’t talk finally was able to convey who he was. He was Edward. So, shell-shocked badly damaged Edward returns home. Limping. Battered, bruised, barely able to occasionally utter a few whispers that might be words.

 

Years pass. Eventually Eddie thrusts a letter into Evie’s hands. And, through his limited means, and her ability to interpret him, learns that Edward wants Evelyn to head to London to deliver the letter. It’s a letter from Edward’s friend from the war – who had entrusted it to Edward’s hands. It’s been something like 5 years later, so it’s vaguely awkward. With certain coaxing, Evelyn is off to London, by herself, on a train.

 

I’d normally leave all that for a plot section, but I included it here to try to convey something of where Evelyn is coming from. Her innocence, determination, something of a ‘women’s place is this’ (in the home, not in school, etc), combined with something of a strong backbone.

 

Evelyn arrives in London and finds . . . two people who are important to the story, but not romantically.

 

Lillian Grainger and James Grainger are the brother and sister of Frank, the fella whose letter Evelyn carries to London. Once the letter is delivered, they invite her to stay in London with them. Lillian and James live in an expensive house in an expensive part of London, Mayfair. And Evelyn knows that, in any other circumstances, her place would be more with Grace – the servant in the house. Lillian is very vain, and in another era I’d call her an attention whore. In the 1920s I’ll just call her . . . vain. She cares more about clothing, fashion, being modern, being free, while at the same time ‘looking right’. She’s also a singer in a jazz club – to add to her comfortable place in society (and her vast wealth). James is less enamored with the social side of ‘modern’ times, but deeply enamored with the business side – he’s an architect and just loves building ‘modern’ stuff. He’s mostly off at work, though, so his part in the story is less than it might be. Though he seems to have developed quite a crush on Evelyn, though. Both Lillian and James look down on those abnormal ‘inverts’ (James word for lesbians). James seeming to be slightly more aggressive in his disdain about ‘them’.

Friends & or lovers: Dorothy is friends with Lillian, and to a certain extent with James. Vernon, Jos’s brother, is friends and lovers with Lillian, and disliked by James.

Enemies: Neither like Jos. James doesn’t like Jos’ brother Vernon.

 

Joselyn ‘Jos’ Singleton is the other person in this book who has their point of view expressed. Though only about 20% of the book is from Jos’s point of view. If I was doing this as some movies list credits, as in ‘in order of appearance’, technically I should have started with Jos. Because the book opens with a 1916 prologue involving Jos hiding under a table while bombs drop during WWI. Book occurs years later in the ‘20s, though. Jos works in the theatre, mostly as a ‘background’ type – building sets, moving things around, and the like. Oh, and she’s openly (as openly as she can be) a lesbian. Jos is something of a player, someone who doesn’t want nor need commitment. Mostly because of her back story and how she fears to trust and love someone because she expects failure and heartbreak.

Friends & or Lovers: several lesbians are friends of Jos, including Clara and Courtney (a couple), and others. Also friends with Jos is, strangely enough, Dorothy.

Something like Enemies: Lillian.

 

Plot

The book follows a young woman from somewhat rural and relatively poor and backwards England to London in the 1920s, after the first world war. The war that killed many of their generation. They live to forget, to remember, to live as if every moment counts, as if no moment counts and it can all be taken away in a blast. Not all fought in the war, but almost all are somewhat ‘shell-shocked’ from the traumatic experience. At least in London.

 

The young woman, Evelyn, arrives in London and presents a letter from a dead brother to that brother’s siblings – Lillian and James. They offer to allow Evelyn to stay and see the sights in London. Lillian shows Evelyn around to several locations, like Buckingham Palace, and to a jazz club wherein Lillian sings (and wherein Evelyn sees Jos for the first time, and, for that matter, lesbians).

 

The story unfolds with Evelyn, as much as she can what with her feeling somewhat trapped and under obligations in James & Lillian’s house, exploring the city of London. And, eventually, her feelings for another woman, specifically Jos.

 

Romance

By the very nature of this book – the times people live in, the openness/closedness of society, and other considerations, and specifically the nature of the lead character – a poor-ish young woman who basically ran away from home (at 26) to see London – the romance is at a slow pace. On one level. And at an accelerated pace in another. Also because of the nature of the time and people involved.

 

At a slow pace because Evelyn can’t see Jos as often as she might wish to do so. Especially after she sees Jos for the first time, and they have a brief conversation. She’s obligated, apparently, to wait on Lillian and her inviting Evie to the jazz club. So, days, weeks, time passes while feelings are examined, as needs develop.

 

The accelerated pace involves the action that occurs once people can actually be near each other – though, I suppose, Jos and Evelyn could have ‘done’ each other in the bathroom at the nightclub. No, by accelerated pace, I mean . . . well, I’ve been attempting to say what I mean, but I guess I can’t. Potentially. Hell, I don’t know. What is and what isn’t a spoiler mystifies me. They have sex on their first date

 

Overall

The opening of the book, the stuff after the prologue, was written in a way that I probably wouldn’t have continued if not for the fact I had kind of already committed to reading this book. It was overly wordy, overly melodramatic. It was . . . well, what I just said.

 

I don’t know if things changed, or if I had just fallen into a trance and dove in. Because somewhere along the line, I just moved past all that wordiness, that melodramatic way of talking, and just lived the book.

 

And this book surprised me. It was a lot deeper than I expected. Emotions were touched. Thoughts were had. Though I first noticed this not in the romance part, but in world part. In the people, times, the ‘generation that had to live after so many died’ part. Though I rather liked both Jos and Evelyn. And I wasn’t sure I would like Evelyn in the beginning, but I did, I really did.

 

Overall I’d give this book 5.0 out of 5 stars.

 

January 29 2016

Grumpy Cat, Volume 1 by Ben McCool

Grumpy Cat Volume 1 - Royal McGraw, Elliot Serrano, Ben Fisher, Steve Uy

*I received this book from NetGalley in return for a fair review.* 

 

Grumpy Cat, Volume 1
by Ben McCool, Royal McGraw, Elliott Serrano, Ben Fisher, Steve Uy (Goodreads Author) (Illustrations), Ken Haeser (Illustrations), Tavis Maiden (Illustrations), Agnes Garbowska (Illustrations)
Pages: 104
Date: February 16 2016
Publisher: Dynamic Forces
Series: Grumpy Cat

 

Review
Rating: 3.80 out of 5.0
Read: January 28 2016

 

 

Grumpy Cat, the comic, is often times cute and funny. And really really short. A lot of the stories are quick little adventures. The kind where everything is set up, certain things happen, then poof off to the next story – all seemingly within a few pages.

 

Some of the ideas might be interesting to have seen followed through, like detective Grumpy; haunted house Grumpy; superhero Grumpy.

 

Characters

Grumpy - as might be expected, the cat that became a meme on the internet for having a permanent grumpy expression (a genetic condition) is, in fact, the star of this self-titled comic series.

 

Pokey is a hyperactive constantly in motion, constantly wanting to play house mate of Grumpy’s. Oh, and a cat. I forgot to mention the cat part.

 

Others - the above are the two most common characters to appear, though occasionally others appear, like a dog, and ghosts, and . . . others.

 

Plot
It’s hard to discuss/describe the plot since this is a collection of many very short stories. Mind you, some authors have become super famous for writing stories so short that they can be contained on one page. So super short stories, in and of themselves, are not a ‘problem’.

 

It’s not always easy to see in a collected volume, but there appears to be three or four stories every 26 pages. Most of these stories are, to a certain extent, interesting. Humorous at times. The problem, as I think I’ve mentioned before, is simply the fact that the stories get me interested in a certain topic/theme then . . . that specific topic of theme is suddenly over before I could ‘get my thrill.’

 

Overall
I think, I’m not sure now, but I do believe that I had recommended people to try at least the first comic way back when it appeared. I don’t remember if it was cheap, free, or what my rationale was, but simply that the comic was a humorous way to spend a few moments out from the overall hard working life many people suffer. That’s harder to say in regards to a complete volume, at least in terms of talking about how ‘inexpensive’ it all is. Still, I’d recommend Grumpy the volume. As long as you like cats. And mild humor.

 

I did something I rarely do – I looked at some of the other reviews before I started my own review. Therefore I saw a somewhat reoccurring theme, that being ‘Garfield’. Well, sure, both involve cats. Garfield is more lazy than grumpy, though that can, at times, come across as grumpy. And both Garfield and Grumpy have somewhat annoying younger cats that they kind of dislike (I can’t recall exactly the name of the cat, Nerman? Nermal? Norman? Something like that). Though the hyperactive, always cute cat in Garfield is somewhat a rare addition to the storyline, while Pokey is in, I think, all the stories.

 

In looks and temperament, I might have thought of comparing Grumpy and Bucky. I could be wrong, but they might be both the same breed of cat. Though, if I recall what I’ve read in the back story to the Bucky series, the writer/author there didn’t base the cat on any specific breed/cat. While Grumpy, obviously, is based on Grumpy. In looks mostly. I’ve some vague understanding that the real Grumpy might actually be a sweet little kitty, though again, I could be wrong there.

 

Oh, one thing I was going to mention – I didn’t actually realize, until I saw this on Netgalley that this series was for kids. See, here I was having fun reading a comic that had mild humor and involved a cat, and suddenly I learn that it was designed for kids. Mmphs. Heh. Would this hold a kids attention? Would a kid just absolute love this collection of comics? No idea, I’m not a kid and I do not have full time responsibility for any kids, so I am not sure. Would an adult enjoy a comic designed for kids? Well, I did.

 

I probably would give the overall collection of comic issues, I think they collect four or five issues?, a combined score of around 3.8 out of 5.0 stars.

 

January 28 2016

The Sun Dragon by Annabelle Jay

The Sun Dragon - Annabelle Jay
*I received this book from NetGalley in return for a fair review.*
 
The Sun Dragon
by Annabelle Jay
Pages: 180
Date: January 28 2016
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Series: The Sun Dragon (1st in the series)
 
Review
Rating: 4.50 out of 5.0
Read: January 28 2016
 
This is another book by an author I'd never read before that I somewhat randomly picked up from Netgalley when I saw it in one of the categories as a 'Read Now'. Not sure which specific category I saw it in, though. Young adult, LGBT, Fantasy, just not sure.
 
It's also one of those kinds of books wherein if someone told me the plot, or gave me a rough outline, I'd probably think I'd want nothing to do with the story, and/or that it'd be absurd, or out of the range of books I like, or . . . something. So it's good, in its way, that I had a good enough idea of what the book was about to try it, but not enough to cause me to flee before trying it. Because, despite believing that others might feel differently, I rather enjoyed this book. Though it has all the hallmarks of being something that might normally annoy me.
 
Characters
This is one of those first person type books, with the main character being a young woman named Allanah.
 
Allanah is a young woman of roughly 16 years of age who starts off the book as a student at a school. I am unsure if her last name is given, nor if she's in high school or not. Though I assume both sets of information might have been given at some point. She's shown instantly as being a flighty kind of woman, the kind who spaces out, starring at a blade of grass, or clouds, or the like and forgetting to focus on what's around her and what she should be doing. Like, say, getting to class on time. Allanah is described in the book as something of an odd mix of spacey, unable to keep her grades up, naive, inexperienced type of young woman who ends up showing massive amounts of magical skill. Mostly instinctively. And one who seems quite capable of pulling forth solutions to problems. An odd mix.
 
For the most part, Allanah is the only character that really matters in this book. Though there are others with varying levels of importance.
 
Victoria is a prim and proper young woman with great intellectually ability. The kind to be class president and straight A student. She’s also best friends with Allanah. Oh, and unknown to her, she’s also a dragon in human disguise. Revealed when she starts to shift one day in class. She has her important moments, and is quite important in certain pivot points, but as a character, is something of minor importance. If I’m conveying this correctly. Maybe if she had her own point of view for people to follow, her importance would be heightened, but beyond being a dragon, and being helpful as such, and being a friend of Allanah’s, and also being helpful as such, she’s really kind of unimportant to the story line.
 
Jason is a young man of roughly Allanah and Victoria’s age. The book opens with Allanah lusting after him. But apparently he is actually something of an undercover agent for a magic counsel, there to watch over Allanah. And is even less important than Victoria. Really really unimportant.
 
Cormac is the next man Allanah crushes on. He is a general for the magic counsel, and they – Cormac and Allanah, have a certain connection. Is something of a hot head. Again important, but minor.
 
Grian is a light dragon Allanah summons when she is tested by the magic counsel. The dragon bonds to Allanah and follows her around.
 
Roland is a magic user and super evil. Wants ultimate power.
 
Dena is the reason this book falls into the LGBT category. She’s a female who Allanah meets while she is living with the Igreefree people. Dena stumbles out all bloody and stuff, they touch, they realize they have this deep connection, and now Allanah has to determine if she prefers the man or the woman. I’m being quick there – they don’t literally touch the first second they meet. Though the connection is there the first second they touch.
 
Others: there are, of course, other people in the book. Some more important than others, some less.
 
Plot
The book opens with Allanah spaced out, standing near the entrance to her school. She's saved from her third tardy slip by two factors - her best friend, Victoria, offers to give her the hall pass she had, and more importantly, as it develops, everyone is distracted once Victoria and Allanah reaches the class room. The president's on the tv, see, so, as I said, people are distracted. He looks different, though, than Allanah recalls him looking. Then he starts stripping down to ropes. Weird stuff starts occurring, and the words out of his mouth are equally weird. He's calling forth the dragons to come to him.
 
Well, this certainly is odd, eh? Book opened with a prologue talking about how there's this Prince Roland guy who said he took care of the dragons, but didn't really. But it's told in a way to indicate this occurred longish ago, and now everything is modern looking. As in planes in the sky, televisions in the class rooms, etc.
 
Back to the gibberish coming from the television. President whatever reveals that he is actually King Roland come forth to take over the world. With his dragon army. Who he had hid among the humans, since he had transformed them into humans. Suddenly screeching is heard - people look outside, a half boy half bird/dragon like creature is wiggling out there, then springing up into the sky, heading towards this President slash King Roland dude.
 
Suddenly squeaking and yelling in the classroom. Victoria is looking odd. Instinctively Allanah orders everyone else to leave. Without knowing what she is doing, Allanah is able to keep Victoria from transforming into a dragon.
 
Victoria, Allanah, and Jason (who, it is revealed, is a guardian like guy for Allanah) head off in a magical mustang to the magic counsel (Mustang as in car, not mustang as in horse; they do not climb inside a magical horse). For various reasons I’m confused as to why Jason had been sent off to be a guardian since, if I recall correctly, he is only a level two. I might be confused. Well, magical eggs are put into Victoria’s and Allanah’s hand. Victoria’s egg opens. She learns she’s a level two magic user. Allanah’s egg opens. She learns she is a level five magic user. And now has a pet dragon. Who came out of the egg. And she’s the only person to have a dragon appear in a really really long time. That other person? Roland.
 
So – several parts to this book. Quite quick from one to the next with almost no rest. There’s the shifting at the school (revelation of the magical nature of the world, the dragons hidden among humans, the evil dude who wants to take over everything, etc.), then visit to magic counsel, then visit to some people who might be allies in the fight against Roland (Igreefee . . . split; I forget how the names look with the word split). The dragon grows just as rapidly as the story unfolds.
 
Romance
Technically there is something of a romance. Kinda. In the ‘Allanah lusts after Jason; no wait, now she has this connection to Cormac, no wait she also has this deep connection to this woman named Dena’ way. Now she has to figure out where her feelings reside. But she’s going to push all that to the side to go fight. And . . stuff. Whatever else this book is, though, this is not a romance book.
 
Overall
I may or may not have mentioned this before, but, this is one of those types of books that I actually, and unexpectedly, loved. No, seriously, I did. But, even as I was loving it, I kind of suspected that others might be less inclined to enjoy the story. Regardless, I rather liked it, and look forward to further books in this series.
 
I believe that I would give this book a good solid 4.5 stars out of 5.
 
January 28 2016

 

Whirlwind Romance by Kris Bryant

Whirlwind Romance - Kris Bryant

*I received this book from NetGalley and Bold Strokes Books in return for a fair review.*

 

Whirlwind Romance
by Kris Bryant
Pages: 240
Published Date: February 16 2016
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Series: N/A

 

Review
Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0
Read: January 26 2016

 

My first book by this author.

 

This was a strange one for one specific reason - I've been reading so many books lately wherein the author felt the need to tell the story through many many points of view. This one? Just one point of view. From Tristan 'Tris' Stark. I guess 'strange' isn't exactly the correct word to use there.

 

Characters
The book has just one point of view, so let's start with her:

 

Tristan 'Tris' Stark is a 28/29 year old woman who works as a storm chaser during the storm season, and a university professor during the fall semester. If I recall one conversation correctly, Tris works as a teacher during the fall semester, a storm chaser during the spring semester, then spends the summer going over the data/film/pictures recovered during the storm chasing season.

 

What storms are chased? Well anything really, but mostly tornadoes. She does live and work where tornadoes are quite common.

 

Tris has worked for the last six years as a storm chaser, the entire time (unless I missed something) with a short-haired woman who looks like a lesbian, named Hunter. That particular aspect, about how attractive to the same sex Hunter could be, is brought up once or twice (or more). She's not actually a lesbian though (nor bisexual, nor interested in anyone but her musician boyfriend).

 

I got side tracked there mentioning Hunter. I had only meant to say: Tris has worked the last six years as a storm chaser with Hunter. Several times in the book two other people are mentioned, their parts are so small that I will probably get their names wrong. I believe it's Adam and Ryan. Also, 'teams' gets mentioned. About how there are teams sent out under the grant Tris got (and then failed to secure for the next season - major plot point here). But I am uncertain how the team system works. Since they never interact as a team. There's even a passage wherein Tris asked what the plans were for this other two person storm chasing team was for that night, with the expectation that she wouldn't get any information about which direction they planned to go or anything like that. Then internal mention that the storm might go north or south. I kind of got confused here. Two teams. Storm might go north or south. But they don't expect to coordinate at all? Granted, maybe I was wrong, but the reason for my confusion is the simple fact that I thought Tris was talking with people from her own university - on her own extended team. I must have gotten that part wrong.

 

Hmms. I kind of ruined the 'characters' section, didn't I? Mmphs.

 

Tris - 28/29 (she has a birthday during the storm season). Storm chaser. University teacher ('relatively new' at that, and forced to teach the 'boring' classes). Works with a woman named Hunter. Tris, apparently, is the one in charge of getting funding - which is a major plot point for two reasons: (1) funding for next season, a grant, fell through and Tris blames herself greatly for this failure; (2) there are trust issues wrapped up in the funding, tied directly to a former girlfriend, Julie, who 'stole' research, about 4 years ago, and screwed Tris -- therefore Tris is kind of naturally distrustful of motives/etc. when it comes to women/girlfriends and funding.

 

Hunter is a storm chaser who works with Tris. Despite looking like a lesbian (apparently), she has a boyfriend back home. Boyfriend doesn't 'mind' too much that she's on the road during storm season because he himself is a musician and has to go out on the road.

 

Maddox is a dog, a pitbull mix (I believe). He doesn't have his own point of view or anything like that, nor does the story follow him as he runs around. I've included him because he is quite important to Tris, Hunter, and, to a certain extent, the story.

 

Kate Brighten is a graduate student at a rival university who Hunter and Tris bump into (along with Gage, her storm chasing partner) while at a . . um . . . I'd like to say 'gas station/truck stop/food place'. Kate seems kind of stand offish and not particularly interested in Tris. Though there are some mixed signals going on. Which I mention because Tris kind of drools over Kate. Finds it hard to pull her eyes off of her.

 

Gage is the man Kate is chasing storms with. He doesn't really have much scenery to chew, so to speak. He's just there so that there's a reason Kate is out and about chasing storms, then to suddenly need to disappear because of an accident to his girlfriend, so that Kate has to ride with Tris/Hunter/Maddox. Then, later, be shown to be dangerously wild and reckless. He doesn't really have much of a personality or character beyond being a pivot point for other characters and plot points to pivot off of.

 

Others: there are, in fact, other people in this book.

 

Plot
Tris, Hunter, and Maddox the dog are out driving around the midwest chasing storms. Getting caught in massive hail storms. Watching clouds to see if tornadoes form, watching radar. Etc. There is some exciting moments while this occurs.

 

While taking a break from driving, they pull into a rest area (I believe it's a gas station that has food, bathrooms, etc.). They bump into two other storm chasers, Kate and Gage. They interact, then all four go to dinner together (mostly because Tris wants to spend more time drooling over Kate).

 

Time passes but it isn't always possible to tell how much time has passed; at some point Tris and Hunter encounter Kate and Gage hurriedly rushing from a hotel (might have jumped the gun on conveying that 'time passing' part, since this might be the next morning). Gage had received a call that his girlfriend had been in an auto accident and he needs to get to her hospital. Unlike her normal attitude on having students in her car (isn't keen on the idea), Tris suggests that Kate ride with Hunter and herself until Gage can get back. Everyone agrees.

 

So, for two weeks or so, Kate, Hunter, Tris, and Maddox drive around chasing storms.

 

More or less immediately, the story turns. One night, Tris' birthday night to be exact, the not-very-talkative Kate follows Tris when Tris takes a break from the party. To get air. To walk Maddox. The 'story turns' part involves what happens next. Apparently Kate was, in fact, also attracted to Tris. Unlike herself, Tris finds herself in a rather public sexual situation out in a parking lot. So, yes, the story turns. From being one that follows storm chasers, to one that does that plus has lots and lots of sex.

 

Naturally, to continue the plot section, 'something' occurs to cause 'issues' with this budding romance. Time must pass before the relationship might move to the next level. If it can.

 

Romance
The romance in this book was between Tris, a woman of 28/29, and Kate, a woman of, if I recall correctly, 23. I might not recall the ages correctly. I liked how both were described out on the road. I . . um . . . lost my train of thought.

 

On the one hand, the romance isn't one I've seen, personally, a lot. It's quite possible that others have read stories like this numerous times and will be quite bored with it. But, for me personally, the romance was somewhat refreshing. Two women find that they are attracted to each other, they are in a difficult situation in that it is difficult to find alone time; and in that both are a long way from home in a 'roadtrip' type situation. Instead of just pining away, they actually do something (to a certain extent, that is somewhat the refreshing part; so many times I read something like this and they don't do anything . . . for hundreds of pages). On the other hand, they sure did things backwards. They were friendly-ish with each other first, true, but sex did come before a romantic relationship.

 

I'm not really sure what I'm trying to convey in this section. There was a romance, it involved Tris and Kate. Not that far apart in age, but 4 or 5 or 6 years is a biggish gap when you are in your twenties (well, see, I lifted that almost directly from the book, that concept). They both find the other attractive. They act on it. One has issues that keep them closed off more than they might otherwise be, while the other has trust issues that can be violated, and if violated will find it difficult to move past the feeling of broken trust.

 

Scenery/location
The book wasn't located in any one location - even when the storm chasing season was over, the activity still wasn't in the same location. Since Kate lived an hour and a half away from where Tris lived.

 

I did have a strong sense, most of the time, of being out on the road, of being in the storms, or near, of being next to farmlands, small towns, and the like. Quite well conveyed there.

 

I had a strongish sense of what Tris's house was like, and what Kate's apartment . . . well, that it . . hmms. I had a strong sense of what Tris' house was like. Kate's place, ah, it's coming back to me. Up scale. Amenities. Located so that the sound of the wind isn't as hearable. I had no sense of the location, the 'place' Tris' house was located. I mean, the town/city/rural area. Nor do I have any impression of what might surround Kate's apartment.

 

Not necessarily the most important thing in a story like this - more important that the time on the road conveyed what it needed to convey, which it did.

 

Overall
First off, in terms of the relationship, there were two cliches that popped up that seem to be used in romance books. I liked how they were used in this book here because they both seemed somewhat natural (to a certain extent) and weren't, in the case of the not actually mentioned storm related injuries, not used as a magical relationship cure. The two somewhat cliche like elements being miscommunication and I'm not actually sure what to call the second one (accidents? injuries/massive traumatic events that cause feelings to bounce around). The miscommunication here was more failure to communicate and was reasonable under the circumstances (I'm not sure if I should be purposely vague or not).

 

Right, so, now that I wrote a gibberish paragraph, let's move on. There was more sex than I expected. Having just one point of view was both somewhat refreshing, and somewhat limiting. Limiting in that I only had Tris view of Kate, and not Kate's own thoughts and desires. Though everything was conveyed quite well. Probably better, on one level, because I kind of ended up liking Kate, while my 'liking' for Tris was on a smaller level. Well, I liked both well enough.

 

In the end, I rather enjoyed the book and would give it a solid 4 stars (out of 5).

 

January 27 2016

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