Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review: Ruby Red Booty Shorts & A Louisville Slugger by Lexi Ander

Can you say HOT? (and would you look at that cover?!) 4 stars

Ruby Red opens with a steamy sex scene, runs headlong into trouble, and leaves me craving more. Diego and Beck are vulnerable and utterly loyal to each other. It made them very easy to root for. I like the strong bond Diego has with his family, though I found some of the backstory clunky to read.

There's a flashback written entirely in past perfect which gives it the tone of an aside rather than putting the reader deeply into a traumatic situation. I also wanted to see more of why Diego decided to move farther away from family.

Lexi does a great job setting the scene and shifting from a standard contemporary story into one invaded by paranormal creatures. Beings that have always been there, hiding. But Denise, a friend of both Diego and Beck, seemed to be tacked on awkwardly. There's a brief conversation with her at the start, then she shows up mid-way through the story and doesn't interact with Diego at all. Not even a glance in his direction. Diego doesn't attempt to interact with her either despite multiple references to their friendship since kindergarden.

TL;DR: This story grabs by the collar and throws you along. It's fast and hard, just the way I like it. 4 Stars.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review: A Matter Of Disagreement by E.E. Ottoman

Entertaining afternoon read, 4 Stars

I can always count on E. E. for an uplifting romance and this story had me grinning throughout the hour it took to read. Yet, the craft plays it safe. It's easy to read without changing sentence structure or taking character voice farther with adventurous verbs.

 The characters were solid, their romance (and disagreements!) believable, and the world engaging. I wanted to see more of the mechanical birds. They made a big appearance at the start then played no part in the story in the second half.

 But that's a minor concern when E. E. consistently provides characters finding their way in the middle of the male/female dichotomy. I love the blend of traits that make it clear these people do not identify fully to one side or the other- but somewhere between.

TL;DR: 4 stars. A quick jaunt for a lazy day.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Review: Careful Flowers by Kieran York

A slow build with a satisfying resolution, but lacking in technical skill. 3 stars.

Careful Flowers starts out awkwardly in the middle of a conversation. A case of taking en medias res a little too far. Context arrived quickly but my investment in the story took much longer. I enjoyed the extended supporting cast in this novel, from former hippies to the estranged extended family; everyone was believable and colored the conflict well.

My biggest disappointment in this story came from the craft. Pacing worked well, but the sentences didn't vary much. There's also constant jumping between simple past (I ate food) and past perfect (I had eaten food) that muddied the enjoyment of reading.

I appreciated both the resolution of the mystery and the romantic conflict. I worried that the romantic conflict would resolve by forcing only one party to change rather than compromise from both, and I'm glad to see I was wrong!

TL;DR: 3 stars. This is a solid book with excellent characters, but it's lacking a few style points.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Review: Song of the Spring Moon Waning by E. E. Ottoman

A lovely short story that left me wanting more. 4 stars.

First, I adore the cover of this book. It's so well matched to the contents and that leaves me so excited.  Second, this is a sweet love story between a eunuch and an intersex person that unfolded so beautifully, I want to know more!

Without giving away any spoilers, I wish there had been more exploration of intimacy between the two main characters. It came up briefly and I don't believe an intense scene like that would fit in the story's current format, but there was much emphasis put on Wen Yu's intersex nature and I wasn't satisfied with what little screen time that received.

However, the main reason I give 4 stars instead of 5 is due to the resolution of the story. The ending is not derived from the character's actions, but would have occurred regardless of the events that unfold from the main character's POV. There wouldn't be a love story, but the major conflict was rendered irrelevant when Mei Hua arrived.

But regardless, the craft of this story is so strong otherwise, and the characters so completely complex, that I would pick up a sequel without hesitation. Also, I just want to sit here and pet the cover.

TL;DR: 4stars. Deus Ex Machnia ending that's almost forgiven by such strong characters.