Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Power of Mercy by Fiona Zedde

The Power of MercyThe Power of Mercy by Fiona Zedde

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I received an ARC of this book from Ylva Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

One note before I continue: I note above that this is an ‘ARC’. That’s because I read the ARC version of this book – having requested it as an ‘additional’ book to review when I requested June 2018 books to review.

I hate being in this position and I feel blindsided by it for two reasons. 1) I’ve only ever read one other story by this author, and I liked it – giving me a faint idea I might also like this one, though not the confidence I would; 2) the people I follow, and friends who have read this work seemed to have loved this book. I didn’t going in assuming that I’d like it because of 1, nor that I’d love it because of 2, but those were certainly issues of feeling blindsided.

I do no really understand this book. The mystery: Someone has been killing, Mai, for reasons that completely elude me, looks into investigating the case (why her? She’s a bloody teacher for fuck sake, sure, in her spare time she jumps around saving humans who get themselves into trouble, but that involves running into burning buildings, saving people from flipped cars, and the like, not doing investigations or fighting complex villain plans; so again, why the fuck Mai? Because there is no one else? Fuck no – there are the ‘Enforcers’ who are quite powerful and quite capable of tackling the investigation. So why didn’t they handle the case? For the fucking reason that fucking cops get taken off cases because it’s personal. Because it’s Mai’s uncle who is the latest victim – police/investigators/whatever GET TAKEN OFF CASES LIKE THIS, not given the case to investigate, for fuck sake (also she’s one of the ‘weaker’ super powered people around, you know, just to toss that in there as well as a reason for her NOT to be the investigator)). The mystery was crap.

The romance: just what the fuck did I read romance wise? Or: what romance? Mai fucks random women whenever she feels like it – the book opens with her standing on the roof nearish another random unknown woman; the big ‘romance’ in the story involves her fucking some woman she doesn’t really know, but at least knows her name, but they don’t have a relationship. They have lust. They both act like cats on catnip – MUST FUCK YOU!!!! There’s no mental process involved here. No ‘she’s nice’, no ‘I wish to date her’, there’s just ‘FUCK HER NOW!!!!!’. Fuck sake. The romance is crap.

What else is there? The main character hates her life, hates her family, hates everything, including herself. She’s literally been abused and tortured by her family her entire life. She’s angsting 24/7. She’s like an overly emotional teenager ‘having feelings’. Does she have a reason to act that way? Well, yes, but still, painful to read.

This was a painful book to read beginning to end. There are no redeemable characters here. Every fucking member of Mai’s family is an asshole, at least to Mai (for the most part). Her students, eh, the only one that actually gets a name just won’t take no from the teacher, Mai, she’s lusting after. Fuck her. The victims? We only really learn about one of the victims, the one I already mentioned, the uncle – who is the biggest asshole of all time. The killer should get a medal for killing this asshole - kind of asshole.

I wonder if I read some side draft instead of the book everyone else read. Because, seriously, I do not understand this book. Mai’s lust interest, a fellow teacher, acts super bitchy to Mai when they finally have a conversation, that teacher basically and loudly condemns Mai as ‘yet another teacher who fucks her students’ without actually knowing anything about Mai. Even so . . . they decide to fuck for some reason? I mean, they are in a kind of hate mode when Mai is at her car door to leave and . . . suddenly they are kissing? And fucking? Right there in the street (seriously, I need to stop using seriously, that’s one of the reasons that I think I might have read a draft because that’s the way that particular scene went – they were at a car door, and suddenly they were fucking. When it was over they were at an apartment without actually going to it. WTF?)

I hate asking for a book, getting it, and loathing it from beginning to end. I only completed this book because it was I requested.

If I hadn’t read and enjoyed a work by this author before trying this one here, I’d break my longstanding rule of giving authors multiple chances, and, after reading this book here, strike the author from the list of authors I’m willing to read. Because of this book. But I had read that other work so . . . I can’t do that.

Rating: 1.1

June 16 2018

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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Shattered by Lee Winter

ShatteredShattered by Lee Winter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received an ARC of this book from Ylva Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Damn. This is, unexpectedly, one quite good book. I had kept putting this one off because something about it looked vaguely depressing, and, while I tended to like the other works by this author, I didn’t do so at the same level of others – and some of those others seemed less impressed with this book. But then I read Winter’s most recent book, and had been very favorably impressed, so, I finally dove in.

One note before I continue: I note above that this is an ‘ARC’. That’s an odd thing to say about a book that’s been published for a while, eh? Did I get the ARC then take forever to read it? Is that what I meant in the first paragraph about ‘finally dove in’? No – when June 2018 ARC’s were offered, I was given the chance to select previously published books, and I selected two of the three current Superhero Collection books (I’d already read the third). So, no, this is not a long delayed read of an ARC I got long ago, nor a long delayed review of a book I‘d read long ago.

This is a hard book to write a review about. Many of the things I think of possibly mentioning seem to bounce against possible spoiler territory. So….

This book specifically two women. I’ve forgotten the age of one, though I think she’s in her thirties. The other is, if I recall correctly, 142 years old. 142, eh? That’s . . . old. Heh. One of the two women, the younger one, Lena Martin specifically, has the lead point of view for the first, oh, 64 percent of the book (65%?), before Shattergirl, Nyah, got a turn at the POV controls. Once Nyah got her hands on the POV, the point of view alternated between the two until the end of the book, though still favoring Lena’s insights.

Roughly around 1916 (or exactly then?), a spaceship flew through the skies (and broke up) and 50 aliens sat down on the lawn outside Parliament in London. The world was at war at the time, and people were on edge. The military marched up and shot at them – that was the first response, not an ‘Arrival’ (the film) type of military turning up, securing things, then sending in scientists to try to communicate, no, just point guns, open fire. Oddly no one died, for, you see, the aliens had certain powers. Powers that would allow them, later, to be ‘Guardians’, or ‘Superheroes’.

Long and short: this is an alternate history that branches off from our world in 1916. The alternate history ‘What If?’ question is simply: ‘what if 50 aliens with advanced powers turned up while the world was at warm what would have happened next?’ Well, the story doesn’t continue from that point – it leaps ahead to . . . hmm, something like 2017. Specifically to Lena Martin. Tracker.

Lena Martin works as Tracker, someone who tracks down ‘runaway’ aliens. She’s shown tracking down ‘Beast Lord’ at the start of the book; before returning home and being given a new assignment: track down Shattergirl. Rumors place her on an island of the coast of Yemen.

Superhero prose is a tough genre in a certain way – in the sense that anything might be found. Maybe the story will be light and fluffy, with humor (think Adam West Batman), maybe it will be darker, though with strains of sanity (Michael Keaton Batman with Jack Nicholson as the Joker); or maybe it’ll be out and out insanity (Heath Ledger’s Joker), and/or weirdly dark and insane (Watchman). You can’t really go in thinking ‘well, superheroes, comics, who reads comics? Who is the target audience? Kids? This’ll be light and fluffy’ because you’ll be dead wrong (or right, that’s the part where superhero stories are tricky, maybe it will be light and fluffy).

Here? Well, this isn’t light and fluffy. The world is crap, and the superheroes are breaking down. There is one twist, though, that you do not normally see in superhero stories – there are no real supervillains in this story (there are ‘bad guys’, but they aren’t really supervillains, and they don’t act like bad guys).

Oh, and another thing: people expect a certain thing from ‘Romances’, as such I’ll say: there’s a romance subplot, but this is not a Romance book.

Both main characters are tough to take, and kind of dislikable at the start of the book. Heck, they might have been that way by the middle of the book, but both grew on me and ‘redeemed’ themselves before the end, and I found myself rather enjoying both of them and the story.

Unexpectedly, this becomes my second favorite Lee Winter’s book, after ‘Under Your Skin.’

Rating: 4.75

June 9 2018

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Code of Conduct by Cheyenne Blue

Code of ConductCode of Conduct by Cheyenne Blue

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an ARC of this book from Ylva Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

This, my second full length work I’ve read by this author, is a sports story. Mixed in are several other things, like family, aging, and, most importantly, romance.

Genevieve ‘Viva’ Jones is a thirty-two year old professional tennis star from Australia. She’s spent most of her life, all of her adult life, living, and breathing, and consumed with tennis. Certain issues turn up, though, that causes her problems. Namely: professional athletes age rapidly, or, more exact, the ability for their bodies to remain at peak physical performance tends to rapidly lesson as they age. Or, more specifically in this case, Viva has a tendon issue in one of her arms which makes it very painful for her to continue being a professional tennis star. Or continue performing on the top tier, at least.

That’s not exactly how the book opens, though. No, the book opens roughly 2 years earlier with Viva playing in the US Open. Attempting to once again win that specific tournament. But a line judge makes certain calls, good or bad calls, which lead to Viva getting distracted and losing.

Then the book jumps to two years later with Viva diving back to her parents’ pub in Queensland Australia. Along the way she spots a car by the side of the road (actually, partially in the road), and a woman waving. Being that it’s dangerous to leave someone just stuck there like that, Viva stops to help. Gives a lift to her parents’ pub. Strange things happen in life, eh? That stranded woman is none other than that line judge who Viva blames for her losing the US Open. Gabriela . . . um, hmm, the book description doesn’t give her last name.

Gabriela Mendaro is a silver badge umpire. Second highest level umpire. She’s 37 (if I recall correctly), Spanish, and quite determined to follow the rules and regulations of her profession (which includes not getting involved with tennis players), and get to the next level, the gold badge level.

Both characters have point of views in this book.

The book follows Viva as she attempts to figure out if her career is over due to injury; while at the same time following the potential romance involving Gabriela and Viva. Though no romance can occur while Viva is still a player, an active player (to the extent that Gabriela sleeps outside and gets eaten by mosquitos instead of sleeping in Viva’s room on a cot).

One thing leads to another, and Viva finally accepts what several doctors tell her. She’s done. She has to retire. Which she tells Gabriela. So, with a great deal of reluctance on Gabriela’s part, they date.

Oopsie – Viva hadn’t told her agent about her retirement, the agent, informed by other means, sets up a ‘farewell tour’ kind of deal; Viva thinks hard about it and . . . .

The following, what, 75%? of the book follows Viva as she attempts to play in a few more tournaments, while still lusting after Gabriela; and follows Gabriela as she suffers from having been with Viva (professionally suffers), and suffers emotionally from not being with her now.

Main characters: Gabriela and Viva.

Side characters: Viva’s parents (Lindy and . . . whatever the father’s name was) & brother (Jack). Viva’s doubles partner (Michi). Derek (I’m not 100% certain I have his name right), her coach. Viva’s agent also has a few important scenes, but I forget her name now.

Long and short: I rather enjoyed this book and am quite happy I read it.

The romance story line was good and solid – I especially like the part where both parties realize that they might have something special, but don’t immediately assume love. The sports story-line was fun to see unfold.

Rating: 4.5

June 8 2018

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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Outside the Lines (Girls of Summer, #3) by Kate Christie

Outside the Lines (Girls of Summer, #3)Outside the Lines by Kate Christie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve very rarely read everything an author has written. Even when I love/favorite/whatever an author, there tends to be something I haven’t read (like, for example, I’ve read the most lesbian fiction books by Jae, yet there are still stuff I’ve not read by that author (rereading, that might be confusing. On the ‘Most Read Author’ list, Jae is on there at second place with 42 books read; actually, looking at the top ten, I haven’t read everything by any of those authors, heh.)).

Well, I’ve read everything by this author here. Not sure how that happened. Just did. 11 books read.

Well, I’m already on page 2 (I’m blind, I’m typing this in Microsoft Word with the font at size 28, so it’s page 2. Heh, mmphs), and have said nothing much. Mmphs.

This is the third book in an ongoing series about two soccer/football players. The series started as a young adult series, following two teenagers, but as the series advanced, so did the age of the main characters, and now both are closer to 27 than 17. As in, at least one mentioned turning 27.

The series has followed the two young women as they: 1) tried hard to make a living as professional soccer players; 2) make and stay on the National team; 3) date . . . others, though the reader ‘knew’ that the two mains were ‘fated’ to be together.

Well, this specific book has the two mains, Jamie Maxwell & Emma Blakeley, are finally a couple. A specific issue, though, test their relationship (well, in theory): distance and time together. Jamie plays for an English team & a USA team (I forget if she’s Portland or Seattle, but I believe she’s Portland as I recall Emma’s condo is in Seattle), while Emma plays for Seattle and the USA team. And, it appears, soccer is played 10 months out of the year (though that seems to be under-counting), so the two women rarely have much time together in the same city.

So – that’s the story. What, I haven’t said anything? Mmphs. You know, the part where two young women compete in sports, professionally, while attempting to have a relationship? Yeah, that’s the story here.

Enjoyable story. Fun. I look forward to book 4.

Rating: 4.75

June 7 2018

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Under Your Skin by Lee Winter

Under Your SkinUnder Your Skin by Lee Winter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received an ARC of this book from Ylva Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

First thing first: yes this is a sequel and yes you need to read the prior book before reading this book here. It feeds off of the prior book and follows the same couple from that prior book. I should mention titles, no? I’m referring to The Red Files

Second thing second: Lee Winter has some massively high overall average rating on Goodreads, *looks*, an impressive 4.42 rating. Most of my friends and those I follow seem to rather enjoy Winter’s books. I’ve read two (now three) books and one short story by this author – and my ratings have generally fallen lower than other people’s ratings for the works (that overall average rating kicks in again – like, I gave ‘The Red Files’ a rating of 4, but I has a rating of 4.49 on Goodreads).

Insert here standard: I like giving authors many chances to ‘connect’ with what I like.

So all that build up is to note: I really really enjoyed this book here. Quite readable. I started it and read it almost in one gulp. And it’s a 332 page book, so that’s a big chunk of pages to wade through quickly.

I’m fairly certain the first book in this series was a solo point of view book, though I might be misremembering – it has been a while and I, stupidly, forgot to put the book on a POV shelf. This specific book here, ‘Under Your Skin’, is a multiple point of view story – following both main characters. 44 year old Catherine Ayers and 34 year old Lauren King. Both reporters.

A good portion of this book involves Lauren and Catherine being in Iowa, meeting the King family, accidentally meting the Ayers family, and planning a wedding. Somewhere along the way various news stories are covered – and eventually a massively huge story begins to be investigated by both women. But let’s not give everything away, eh? Let’s just note I rather liked the family dynamic, the couple dynamic, and the news investigation dynamic on display here.

There’s a specific book that came to mind as I was reading this one here. I’m sure the connection between the two is kind of weak, but there are certain reasons I think of that other book. Or, for that matter, that series. Both it and this series here are duologies. The first book in both have the two people become a couple; and the second book in both series have the couple go to some middle of the USA state to ‘meet the family’. I’m referring here to The Adventures of Decky and Charlie series by R.E. Bradshaw. Specifically to Out on the Panhandle.

There are massive differences between the two series, and the two second books in the series. Certain similarities, though: going to ‘small town’ ‘middle of America’ in a ‘fly-over state’ (Oklahoma vs. Iowa); huge family for someone without much family (if I recall that other series well enough, I might not be, the one meeting the Oklahoma family might have had a largish family to, but I recall there just being, I think, a mother (a crazy mother, but now I’m really stretching my mind to try to remember)) to meet.

There were some interesting dynamics that popped up. Also a few issues I had seemed to have picked up on earlier than the characters, but, eh, that happens.

My fingers are bouncing up and down without touching the keys, as I think of what else to say: read ‘The Red Files’, then read this book. Is good book.

Rating: 5 stars

June 6 2018

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