Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Love Like This (Seven Shores, #4) by Melissa Brayden

Love Like This (Seven Shores, #4)Love Like This by Melissa Brayden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an ARC I received from Bold Strokes Books & Netgalley.

It’s been a month or more (more) since I last reviewed an ARC. Various reasons, and I only make note now of this issue because this specific ARC review appears the same day the book is published. Why did I wait until this date to review anything? Simple enough – I did not have access to the book until a few days ago. And unlike a few years ago when I could easily read a book a day, sometimes three (sometimes requiring a week), I now literally live in a different state, have a different job, and have different responsibilities so I do not read as quickly as I used to. (I bore everyone with this opening paragraph because I’m like the last person to review an ARC for this book, and quite possibly there are people who have bought, read, and reviewed the book before this review appears).

This is the fourth book in this series, and I believe I saw something somewhere indicating that this is also the last book in the series. This seems reasonable since the last of the Seven Shores friends’ stories unfolds in this here book. That last friend being Hadley Cooper, bubbly, seemingly always happy, always bouncing around like a cat on catnip, and always mentioning that she believes in soul mates/true love/or however she put it – and yet her romantic story is told last (also, she hasn’t exactly been happy in love so far). Hadley also, readers may recall, is the one heavily involved in the fashion industry.

I take a moment to note: for those curious about the continuing stories of the other friends of Seven Shores: their stories are deeply intertwined with this book, and more of their life unfolds before the readers eyes over the course of this book (and even more over the course of the epilogue – which, I believe, might include more time elapsing than in the main part of the book). So Isabel & Taylor, Autumn & Kate, Gia and Elle continue to be seen and felt by the readers.

Getting back to Hadley and my mention of her lust for fashion: the main thrust of this book, the underlying connective tissue is fashion. As in, Hadley has been tasked with finding ‘new blood’ for her store, find young designers to join the group of designers who fill the high class store on Rodeo drive. Hadley has had zero success so far in finding someone her boss will accept, but has good feelings about the newest potential addition to the store: Spencer Adair (the other main point of view in the book).

The reader learns instantly certain factors during the meeting between Hadley and Spencer, which occurs at the store: the store Hadley works at has an aging vibe, one that seems to cater more to over 40 year old white women (over 45?); while Spencer herself has a much younger vibe (though she herself is in her 30s) and . . . has dark skin. Is Hadley’s store ready for a black designer?

No it is not.

Or at least that’s what Trudy (her name was Trudy, right?) tells Hadley. Now before anyone screams racism, I’m not sure Trudy has the first clue who the designer is that Hadley pushed forward – she, Trudy, just saw a few sketches, barely looked at a few samples before making a snap judgment (I can’t imagine a) working for Trudy; b) why anyone would work for her – she literally tells Hadley to fire whoever did the glove display because the colors hurt her gut . . . or something like that).

Hadley, eventually, gets Trudy to reconsider – as long as Spencer does some redesigns immediately – or, I mean, in a month. So, that happens. Over the course of the book.

I’ve yet to mention the only thing I discussed in my status updates: sexual harassment. This book really did seem to be going down a weird road: showcase everything you are not supposed to do, at least in terms of sexual harassment. Exhibit 1: during a job interview, the interviewer cups the interviewee’s hand in an attempt to ‘calm her down’ (remember sexual harassment class: don’t do this – no touching!); exhibit 2: during the same job interview, one of the women tells the other that she looks outstanding in her jeans, in a ‘your ass looks so fine in those jeans’ kind of way (here it was the job interviewee, instead of interviewer, who made the physical appearance comment so . . . ). I realize that this is an apparently acceptable thing in romantic comedies (seriously, the amount of stalking and otherwise creepy behavior that occurs in romantic comedies . . . are so extreme that to showcase that someone really is a nutball and not actually a loveable-screwed-up-socially misfit, the person has to go to the extreme of cooking the other person’s pet rabbit (you know, Fatal Attraction), and the like, but . . . eh, it annoys me personally but probably not everyone else. So, whatever. The story quickly moved from ‘two complete strangers, who might have talked briefly not face to face prior’ to ‘people dating’ so I stopped paying attention to sexual harassment no-nos.

Despite my dive into weirdness above, I actually liked both main characters (though there was a period there wherein I was finding more enjoyment watching the other people’s stories unfold, or, more accurately, watching everyone’s story unfold except when Hadley and Spencer were in the same room). Eventually the story-line that actually followed the two main characters turned neat/interesting/exciting, so I was happy and stuff.

Not sure what-all else to say. There’s lots and lots of sex. There are tender, emotional moments. I enjoyed the book.

Rating: 4.38

October 17 2018

View all my reviews

Monday, September 3, 2018

Proxima Five by Missouri Vaun

Proxima FiveProxima Five by Missouri Vaun

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an ARC I received from Bold Strokes Books & Netgalley.

I believe I already mentioned this in a status update: this is kind of a post apocalyptic Conan the Barbarian type book set on a different planet than earth.

Like the previous book I read: earth is dying, certain groups are attempting to save humanity by fleeing in space ships. The book opens with Leah waking up in a spaceship on another world. A world with breathable air but locked with one part of the planet always facing the sun while the other only knows the night. Mercury is like that (I believe) - locked part not breathable atmosphere.

Leah wakes up as the sole survivor of her ship - but there were nine other colony ships that had set out from earth to this planet. Leah desires to find the colony/or possibly colony sites. So she leaves her ship and is promptly captured by humans but not any she had ever meet before (and she does have some knowledge of the other colonists). Some time later Leah is 'saved' by the female verison of Conan - the other main character Keegan. A commander in the Tenth (and ruling) clan.

I've used the term/shelf 'culture clash' for many books. But Leah truly does not understand the culture that she meets/finds herself interacting with; and while Keegan 'knows that Leah is something 'different' (for one: Leah is just too pale to have lived long on the sun side), she still expects reactions of her culture and is not getting it and so gets frustrated.

An overall interesting and good book. That had a somewhat riveting build up to conclusion but kind of fizzled there at end.

Last thought: I said female verison of Conan instead of referencing Xena because Keegan really did d'sseem more female Conan than Xena.

Rating: 3,82

September 3 2018

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Chosen by Brey Willows

ChosenChosen by Brey Willows

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received an ARC of this book from Bold Strokes Books & Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I really had no idea what to expect from this specific book here. I mean, I read and enjoyed the author’s Afterlife trilogy, but that was fantasy. This is science fiction. Post-Apocalyptic science fiction. What I found? Well, there is a rough-ish start, I need to mention that, but after that rough start? I found the book very hard to put down. I inhaled the book – quite enjoyed it.

There were moments in the book that reminded me of other post-apocalyptic lesbian fiction stories I’d read, though very briefly. Like there were times when the women (well two women and one man) were bravely pushing through the wilderness that reminded me of both May Dawney’s Survival Instincts (at least, again like in Vaun’s book, the wandering around outside part – though Dawney’s series is very much a darker future for mankind book), and Missouri Vaun’s Return to Earth post-apocalyptic series (mostly the part in the prequel book when one of the main characters is wandering the post-apocalyptic USA landscape, like in this book here). I stop to mention that Vaun’s ‘Proxima Five’ is the third ARC I requested this month – and there’s this weird thing that developed from reading this book here, then immediately turning to Proxima Five . . . I kind of felt like Proxima Five could very easily have been a sequel of sorts to this book here . . . at least that was the vague vibe I had in the beginning while reading Proxima Five.

But let’s talk about this book here, Chosen.

Chosen is set in the relatively near-future (not that close in time, maybe a hundred years in the future? I think a date was given at some point, but I missed it *opens book for different reason, see that this book is set in 2100) in a world wherein the Earth has succumbed to the ravages of man-kinds impact on it and society has to live with diseases that can’t be treated by anti-biotics; with every rising sea-levels; with constant outbreaks of wildfires; with massive constant hurricanes, typhoons, tsunami’s, earthquakes, etc. etc. – basically earth is trying to shake mankind off the planet.

The book opens with two main characters - Devin Rossi and Karissa Decker. Unseen in the story, but mentioned – both women received a ‘disc’ about a year ago that indicated that the government would be collecting them . . . eventually. Well eventually is now. And both women react quite differently with the pick-up. First we see Devin Rossi calmly being picked up – even being saluted and stuff (Devin, along with being a top geologist, was also a Lieutenant in the Air Force). Then we see Karissa being picked up – Devin was picked up from a falling apart (from ‘conditions) home, by herself, Karissa has her two parents there – mother dying from ‘the fever’, and father. Karissa puts up a fight – though, since Devin was picked up first, she was able to bring the tension levels down (by reminding/stating/asking if Karissa wanted her parents last memories of her being tasered until unconsciousness and dragged away, or . . .something calmer?).

Devin and Karissa, you see, have been picked up by a government convoy – that’s been going around picking up top tier scientists (stop for a moment to inject: it’s not the only convoy for this project). They are told nothing – even though Devin is respected and stuff, they are told nothing much. Just get into the truck and sit there while the truck wanders the countryside.

Eventually a new point of view suddenly appears. Unexpectedly. *glances at book description again* Yep, unexpectedly. We move, the reader does, to the point of view of ‘Van’ – one of the leaders of a survival groups (I can be more exact, but I’ll let things unfold for the reader like they did for me). The book alternates between two plot-lines (except for moments when it splits into three – when the two lead women from the beginning, Devin and Karissa, are too far apart to keep in same line), one following the ‘top-tier scientists’ and one following ‘Van and the raiders’.

And that’s how the three women meet – while stuffed in one of the trucks, Devin and Karissa hear gunfire suddenly break out. Then a voice, and tapping. Raiders force the scientists out of the truck, then start raiding the supplies.

The two-plot lines show the diverging paths of humanity in this era (well, there are more than two paths, but these are two of them) – the attempt to ‘restart’ humanity ‘elsewhere’ (and this is why Proxima Five feels like a sequel – because that’s how the book opened, earth is ravaged, people get onto ships to try to ‘make a restarted humanity better through the experience and knowledge and mistakes from ruining Earth’ – and the book opens with one of the ships on a ‘new earth’). Distracted myself. Ah. And the other path (or another path) – those who stay behind to try to ‘save humanity’ here and not there.

I loved watching the story unfold, the tension, the action, the moments of insanity, and the moments of sanity. Quite enjoyable book.

Of the now four books I’ve read by Brey Willows, I’d put this one at the top of the list of favorite Willows books. This one gets a full five stars. The first book in the Afterlife trilogy received 4.75 stars.

Rating: 5 stars

October 2 2018

View all my reviews

On the Fly by P.J. Trebelhorn

I received an ARC of this book from Bold Strokes Books & Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is the first of three books I requested this time, this ARC month. The story sounded quite intriguing. Sadly I misinterpreted what I was going to read, which I know played a part in my reaction to the book.

What did I think I was going to read? Well, my own fault really – the little snippet I’d read (not from the book but from the teaser) indicated that the book starred a hockey player who had always wanted to try to break into the men’s league but ‘knew’ it probably could never happen. Which lead me to wrongly conclude that I was about to read a book that involved that – a woman breaking into the men’s league. I was wrong. I wasn’t reading a sports fiction book with a strong Romance subplot, but a Lesbian Romance, with a strong sports fiction subplot. Luckily I knew immediately that I’d made a mistake – based on the age of the main character (though I was still waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak – many have ‘broken into’ leagues they ‘didn’t belong in’ at an older age than the main character (I’m thinking of some Negro League players to transitioned over to the MLB, and did quite well, at rather advanced ages)).

Right, so. As noted this is a Lesbian Romance book with a strong Sports Fiction subplot (I stop to note: what’s the difference between the two, putting Sports first or second? Well, the emphasis – like there’s a heck of a lot more emphasis on romance in this book than I’d expected, and a heck of a lot less sports action than expected (there’s sports action, but mostly training, practice, snippets from games seen through other character’s eyes (in the stands), and watching a different team play)).

Mind you, even with my confused belief about what I was going to be reading, I did rather like the book.

This story follows two women in their mid to late thirties, one who doesn’t mind being around kids but never thought they’d have one of their own, and the other a single mother of a much older than normal child. Older than normal? Children in lesbian fiction tend to go two different directions, which has impact on the story-line. I’m talking about age. Single mother story-lines – where the lesbian (or bisexual) truly is the mother and not a sister or cousin, or the like, tend to have young children in lesbian fiction (though some can be as old as 12, most tend to be much younger), while the other kind of story-line with lesbian with ‘child’ involves much older ‘children’ – because it’s a ‘lesbian (or bisexual) who is raising their sibling, not a mother raising their child’. So the child in those stories tend to be of the older kind – 15 to 18 (occasionally the story mentions that one of the lesbians raised their sibling, and both are adults now).

Here? The kid is a sophomore in high school, roughly 16-17 years of age. Much older than the norm. Well, enough of that. . . . oops – the kid plays an important role in the book – being a hockey player himself, and being the kind of kid to try to set his mother up on dates, leads to the kid getting training and tips from Courtney Abbott (that’s the hockey player), while also leading Courtney into his mother, Lana Caruso’s orbit as a potential date. Though Lana had already meet Courtney before that moment/scene.

Lana, you see, is ‘back’ in her small town because her father had a heart attack and so she’s back to try to help. Mostly by helping her brother with the family pizza place so the father could rest. She’s back until the high school year is over . . . for reasons. There’s also the subplot of tensions between her and her parents – they want her closer to home, she works as a concert violinist and there isn’t exactly an orchestra in the tiny town (also there’s tension around Lana being a lesbian).
So going back to where I’d left off – Lana had first seen Courtney having dinner with Gail (Courtney’s coach and boss) at the family pizza parlor, and then later meet her at the real estate agent’s office – her agent was too busy so asked Courtney to fill in.

Right, so . . . tension tension tension. Two more bits of tension filter throughout this story: there’s a new ‘future star of the team’ player who has joined Courtney’s team. She’s arrogant, stubborn, and very much a bully who doesn’t like lesbians. So she’s constantly in Courtney’s face – though Courtney can stand up for herself. The other to round out that ‘two more bits’ of tension come from the dynamic of the situation – both women know that Lana’s only there temporarily, and so both ‘know’ they are ‘just having fun’ – the tension comes from neither communicating with the other about just where they see the relationship.

*looks over prior review/notes*

Oh right. Lana has a constant need to roughly slap, elbow and punch people (not lightly tap) and it is very off putting. I do not think any were 'love taps' though I'm sure she'd pretend they were. That . . . abusive behavior was very jarring and unsettling to witness. I realize it’s a ‘thing’ with certain people and they don’t mean it as ‘abuse’ or the like (see: Elaine from Seinfeld who was also always hitting people).

Lana isn’t the only aggressive person in the book – most of the other’s, though, are more ‘in the heat of the moment’ type stuff. Aggressive sports action. Except for that newcomer Hilton’s constant bullying and abuse of Courtney (which included tripping her in game time); and for Gail’s (Courtney’s coach, boss (on the Real Estate side) actions – mostly referring to how she’d constantly grab at Courtney’s arm and restrain her, keep her from leaving (and that one time Gail viciously hit Courtney in the leg – seriously enough that Courtney couldn’t get up and walk, just because she wanted Courtney to stick around longer). Bah, all this woman-on-woman violence in this book. Mmphs.


Yeah, so, less sports action than expected; more sex than expected; more violent (outside of sports violent) than expected. ‘Good enough’ book.

Rating: 3.75

September 2 2018

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Western Star (Walt Longmire #13) by Craig Johnson

The Western Star (Walt Longmire, #13)The Western Star by Craig Johnson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Disjointed. Ended with many plotlines left hanging. Included, as a villain, someone who 'obviously' has been around a while in the series but who I had no bloody clue who that individual was. No foggy idea.

Not very transgender friendly. (view spoiler)

View all my reviews