Tag Archive: 5

Mar 05

Review: Storm by Brigid Kemmerer

Storm

Sometimes, you’re just looking for a little light reading to get you through the night. And sometimes, the story becomes just intriguing enough that you end up staying up all night finishing it. So it was with the first (-ish) book in the Brigid Kemmerer Elemental Series, Storm. The premise of the story is that everyone in the world sits somewhere on an emotional layout of a pentagram. Each of the points on the outer edge represent a primal element (earth, wind, water, fire, and heart). When people are born that are near one of the points, then they have a higher affinity for that element and gain special powers.

And there’s a family of people with special powers in town, but they don’t want anyone to know about it. They’re trying to keep a low profile, though it’s hard when you’re all beautiful people and your parents are dead and you all live together in a house a ways from town. But because they’re all so powerful, their emotions are on edge all the time so there’s lots of angsty fighting and threats and moments of brooding.

The story follows Becca, your average girl leaving a self defense class who decides to help out a guy that she barely knows who is getting beaten up in the parking lot. Turns out its a rival gang of other elemental teenagers, and they want to rumble.

Rumble

There’s a little less snapping, but you get the idea.

Well Becca takes the fight loser, Chris Merrick, home. Turns out Chris is a water-type, so he’s calm and deep. So this attracts Becca, but there’s all sorts of other drama getting in the way. Like school. And a best friend that needs constant attention (seriously, there’s some single white female codependency moments). And a new kid in town with an awesome dog who is kind and sensitive and not attached to a crazy group of elementals. And house parties where every stares at you because of your big secret.

And it’s not that any part of the story is bad, it’s just that everything even slightly suspenseful is telegraphed WAY early. Like the mysterious guy who hunts down the most powerful elementals so that they can’t harm people just happens to show up in town the same as Becca’s father turns up. Hmmm. Also, the nice guy with the dog turns out to be a little crazy kinda out of the blue because it becomes convenient for the climax of the plot.

I probably didn’t enjoy this as much because I am certainly not in the target age group (I’m thinking probably early teens here), and I am not of the target gender (most definitely female).

OH HELL! I just remembered what really bothered me about this book (it’s been a few weeks since I finished it). So Becca had this reputation for sleeping with the entire soccer team because she got tore up at a team outing and they, well, kinda had an implied gangbang (or sex with a single person with a large audience). And if that’s your thing, more power to you, but it was not Becca’s thing. She gets a bad reputation, but once she has re-found her inner power, she starts re-spreading the story that it wasn’t a gangbang, it was rape. And once that story gets out, the same guys try to rape her for real to make it true. A real big disgusting situation.

Okay, here’s the deal: don’t arbitrate rape in the social sphere. That’s why there are police, rape crisis centers, and numerous other support services available to people. If your consent level changed in the middle of sex, and you saw no way out, there are avenues for people to get help. But the rape storyline of Becca finding her voice in this reads more like “you ruined my reputation, well fine, I’ll ruin yours.” But she doesn’t turn him in to the authorities. So it’s hard to see if this is her true story, or her being manipulative to win back her reputation. And I find that really problematic. In these sorts of cases, the impulse is to always side with the victim, but I’d rather side with the truth. And there isn’t a lot of clear cut truth to be had here. If she is the victim, cut his balls off. If she’s changing her story because she doesn’t like the optics of her story, then that is even more troubling.

Anywho, the book was okay for an evening read, but don’t feel pressured to go out and buy it.

JMF Rating: 5/10

‘Til next time,

-JMF

Jan 26

Review: Bastards and Pretty Boys by K. Z. Snow

Bastards and Pretty Boys

Stumbled on this book on my e-reader and thought that I would give it a go.

Charles has just bought a cabin up on one of the lakes on the outskirts of Chicago, and he’s using it as a hub to get away from it all. It all including the brewery that he owns and operates, his ex-wife and now older sister-style fag hag, and his domineering boyfriend Kenneth. See, Kenneth doesn’t want to be gay in public or in front of his kids, but he likes the fact that Charles is stable and hot. But, lo and behold, next door there’s a hot guy who is brooding and doesn’t seem nearly as uptight.

And we can all see where this is going.

Booker, the next door neighbor, gets to know Charles after everybody else has gone back to Chicago, and they quickly become an item. Like the next day. And so Charles is ready to break up with Kenneth, but then there are all the issues.

All of them.

All of them.

Turns out Booker was in jail for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. And he was sexually abused by his prison therapist. And the prison therapist is still obsessed with him and stalking him out at the lake. But Charles takes it it in stride like it ain’t nothing but a thing. Which is awfully big of him seeing as they have known each other for all of four days. And also, Booker’s an artist, so you can’t be all bad if you create highly prized junk sculptures a few months after getting out of the pen.

But their is also craziness coming from Camp Charles who bought a lake house but is terrified of the water due to falling through the ice as a child. So Booker has to slowly coax him into the water while Charles buys spy equipment to help catch the bad guys in Booker’s life.

And they have sexy times, and it’s all going okay, but this book just hits some walls that could have made it a lot better.

-The characters are really good, but they accept the problems and the real world setbacks of the other with nary a blink. Got a criminal past? No problem. Stalkers? Who doesn’t? Hydrophobia? Sexy time can make you forget all about that. This is a book that is crying out for some angst and soul searching, which can be tedious, but if that’s the name of the game, please play all nine innings.

-The spy equipment story is just kinda ended with no resolution. We caught the bad guys, but the story is over before they get their just deserts. So we’re just hanging out, you know, without any catharsis. Would 20 more pages of the bad ending unhappily really have been too much to ask for?

-Unresolved angles. Did the private investigator turn up anything about the stalker? Why did Kenneth decide to help the stalker? Is there going to be revenge or retribution? No one knows or seems to care.

This had so much potential. But in the end, it’s a combination of these two pictures:

RootingForYou

free-shrugs

JMF Rating: 5/10

‘Til next time,

-JMF

Sep 13

Review: Sticks & Stones by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux

Sticks and Stones by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux

Like I said when I read Cut & Run, I’m always looking for a new good series.  And I thought I had found one.

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And honey was I wrong.

So, I know the series is hugely popular as an m/m romance series.  I can get behind that (I obviously can get behind that).  But since they’re both kind-of bad asses and in the FBI and whatnot and the first book centered around solving a serial killer murder spree and there was a lot of action…I just assumed that that is what the whole series would be like.  But that was not to be.

 

Okay, so this book takes place like three months after the events of Cut & Run.  The boys are still a little psychologically scarred from the events in New York, but they’re being tough about it.  They’ve been assigned to desk work, but Zayn has failed his psych evaluations, so they go on enforced vacation for a month.  Ty invites him to go see his family who lives up in the mountains of West Virginia.  The family is described (repeatedly) as being so weird and zany, but they just seem typical Southern: homebody mom, military distant dad, and black sheep brother who’s a therapist.  Anywho, they decide not to just hang out at home but to go hiking in the woods.

You remember how everyone’s favorite part of the Harry Potter series was the extended camping sequence in book 7?  Yeah, me either, and that’s the problem with this book.  Camping isn’t exciting.  It’s not exciting to go camping, and it certainly isn’t exciting to read about camping.  Even if it is camping with a lot of emotional issues to work through (and oh my we have issues to work through).

Yes, there is conflict up on the mountain.  They run into a snake.  They run into treasure hunters that have booby trapped the mountain and who kidnap them.  They run into a cougar.  But it’s all very “so what?”  The snake is flung away to no effect.  All of the treasure hunters die in very quick, non-spectacular fashion.  The cougar attacks Ty but he gets med-evaced out just before dying.  There’s never any fear for the main characters because we can’t harm them because they’re special.  George R. R. Martin would spit.

I know this is just supposed to be light reading, and I was really into the first half.  But, then, I was waiting for the awesome mystery to start.  Awesome mystery and sexy time…is that really too much to ask?  Apparently.  And I was let down.

RootingForYou

The only saving grace is that the nice characters are all likable enough.  Ty and Zane still spend way too much energy dancing around saying I love you, but I guess that’s drama for another day.  Falling in love just isn’t this hard, boys.

I seriously had this entire series on my list, but if it’s going to be more plots with the dramatic art of a dead man’s pulse, then I’ll skip it for something else.

JMF Rating: 5/10

‘Til next time,

-JMF

Apr 06

Book Review: Trapped by Kevin Hearne

Okay, I’m going to start off with a confession: even though I just finished this book yesterday, I still had to Google the title.  These one word Kevin Hearne titles are hard to keep in my head.  Anywho, on to the review…

Like the other four books in this series, I listened to this book on audiobook.  Same narrator who has done a good job with the entire series.  I imagine at this point that if I were to read this book as an actual book, I’d hear his voice in my head the way I do with the narrator of The Dresden Files audiobooks.  And that’s all I need: two authors from similarly styled series fighting it out for who serves as the voice of fantay in my interior monologues. 

At a decent-sized 9 hours, this book kept me occupied for the better part of a week, though I imagine the paper version moves much faster.

The story picks up after a 12 year flash forward.  Atticus is done training his apprentice Granuaille, and he’s ready to bind her to the earth so that he’s not the last druid anymore.  However, vampires, Greek gods, and dark elf assassins are after them, and the binding is taking a bit longer than expected.  Also, due to some supernatural shenanigans, the Norse god Loki has escaped from his prison and Ragnarok is about to start happening.  This leads to the druids having to come up with a way to help the Norse pantheon hamper the plans of Hel and Ragnarok by killing the wolf Fenris while dodging all the supernatural bad guys besides an evil kitchen sink.  Oh, and they fall in love.

Spoiler alert (which, if you haven’t figured this out yet, come on), they kill the wolf and get the girl bound to the earth.  I don’t know; I enjoy these books for the light filler that they are, but every problem gets fixed just a little too cleanly.  Need to kill a wolf god? Done. Trick a god of trickery and insanity? No sweat. Heal third degre burns all over your body? It’s nothing but a flesh wound.  It’s not that the character isn’t interesting, it’s just that for all his protestations that he isn’t unstoppable, he seems pretty damn unstoppable.  And that sucks the suspense out of scenes.  Hearne doesn’t allow anything bad to happen to his main three characters.  They’re like the core cast of the original Star Trek: we may kill off a red-shirt, but nobody in the credits is EVER going to take a dive. 

And the love story has been telegraphed for so long that I just wanted them to move on. 

I enjoy The Iron Druid Chronicles. I really do.  I like the humor.  I love alternative mythology.  But although the plots and gods keep changing, these books are starting to feel very thematically similar, and I’m not sure how much this is going to have lasting power as the series continues.

Rating: 5/10

Until next time,

-JMF