Monthly Archives: June 2016

Review of Lyovitalis, by Julie Kirtón Chandler

I’m still on vacation. I’m currently sitting on the patio of Casa Escondida in Chimayo, New Mexico writing under a double rainbow.  Life is good.

Rainbows over Casa Escondida

Unfortunately, the book I’m here to review wasn’t. As this is a road trip and I’m not driving, I’ve gotten lots of reading done. But this one still took almost 3 days to finish. It just didn’t particularly hold my interest.

Lyovitalis

Author, Julie Kirtón Chandler sent me an e-copy of Lyovitalis for review.

Description from Goodreads:
Set during the early days of World War I, Lyovitalis follows the journey of the young and spirited doctor, Audrianna Foster, as she travels to Switzerland to continue the research of her recently-deceased father. Her object is to find a cure to the mysteriously fatal disease called lyovitalis, which not only killed her mother, but also a slew of young women in the idyllic town of snowy Zurich—where Audrianna comes to reside. In Zurich, Audrianna falls into the treacherously seductive company of Lorna and her regal family, the von Traugotts. Racked by incipient sexual desire for the salacious Lorna and a near-obsessive drive to uncover the seeming conspiracy around lyovitalis, Audrianna’s quest unfolds within the riveting pages of a medical mystery of the highest order. As Audrianna delves deeper into the science of lyovitalis, she is forced to dive deeper into herself—her desires, emotions, and insecurities—and what she discovers on the other side will change her life (and her universe) forever.

Review:
Nope, nope, nope, nope. When I was asked to read this book it was presented to me as F/F romance. I object to this classification. In fact, I don’t even consider it a romance, but I especially don’t consider it F/F romance. Sure, two girls kiss, but that’s not enough of a qualifier for me. Which leaves me questioning what genre it is. The answer is I don’t know. I think the author was aiming for romance, but just failed to actually accomplish it. These characters don’t even like each other.

Add to this a profound dislike on my part for every character, an irritation with the excessively formal dialogue and narrative style, an overuse of names, an odd need for everyone to scream, yell, or shout, instead of say thing and an even stranger number of things that secrete (like emotions) and you have a guaranteed failure for me.

What’s more, the book walked an awful close line to didacticism when it discussed the necessity of letting go of negative emotions. This came in the context of hinting what some of the characters were, but this really wasn’t ever explained satisfactorily for me. It was explained, but I found it offhand and incomplete.

The tragedy seemed pointless and it seemed like the ultimate villain was defeated too easily, if he was actually defeated. That’s never really cleared up. And lastly, but maybe most importantly, none of Audrianna’s emotions are believable. She never asks pertinent questions, accepts the unacceptable with ease and never reacts in a way that makes sense — swinging from defiant to weepy to angry to sad to embarrassed to gallant in an instant and without any apparent impetus for the change in her emotional landscape.

Now, maybe this is a style thing. Maybe other readers will enjoy what I didn’t. Other than feeling stiff, using names in dialogue too often, and some anachronisms the writing is pretty good and the editing is pretty clean. So, I wouldn’t discourage others from reading it. It just wasn’t a winner for me.

Review of Broken SEAL, by Laura Harner

Broken SEALI picked up a copy of Broken SEAL, by Laura Harner from Amazon when it was free.

Description:
When former Navy SEAL Draco Kincaid is cut down in a hail of gunfire, he thinks he’s lost everything: his friend, his club, his legs. Strapped to a chair and unable to separate the nightmares of his past from those of his present, Draco must learn to depend on others before the crack in his iron will plays into a killer’s hand and he loses more that he ever thought possible. 

With the arrogance of youth, Noah Middlebrooks believes time can heal old wounds, until his missing brother turns up dead at a sex club in California. Now the sick bastard whose games were responsible for his brother’s untimely death needs to explain what happened—then pay for his crime. Burning his final bridge at work, Noah heads to San Diego. With no job and no more family, there isn’t anything left to lose. 

Regret and retribution put them on a collision course of self-destruction, but nothing can prepare either man for the life-altering impact of their first meeting. As a slow simmer of attraction builds in spite of their best intentions, both men must come to terms with the past or risk any chance of a future.

Review:
I did not until this moment (in reading other reviews) realize that this was a spin off from another series (that I haven’t read). That explains a few little things about it. It did stand on its own, but it still felt like there were things you should know; like the Willow Springs Ranch was referenced but not explained, for example.

All in all I enjoyed this. Draco and Noah were likable characters. They were very sweet together the book flows well, making it an easy read. But if I really stop and think on it I find problems. Draco took to his paralysis far too easily. I appreciate that Harner included a paraplegic as a romantic lead, especially a dominant romanic lead, but you honestly never felt him struggle with this devastation in his life. There were just a couple references to how much he hated depending on others or asking for help. It felt like a plot device.

So, did the BDSM aspect of the book. Draco owned a sex club, got it. But you never found out what his specific kink was and when Noah asked about his brother’s he’s sharply shut down. The BDSM played no real part in the story. Neither did the fact that the men are SEALs, other than to spout off about being SEALs. They could have been cops, or security guards, or any other military men. Again, it just felt like a plot device.

Even worse, Nick felt like a plot device. He was never developed past “the dead brother” and his lack of development made me resent his death to benefit another. Further, there were some important points missing in Noah’s acceptance of his brothers death. He never asked to see his apartment or pushed to know where he was buried. He basically never engaged with the memory of his brother at all and that made the whole scenario unbelievable as a motivating factor. Though no where near as unbelievable as what the reader was asked to believe led to Draco’s dismissal from the Navy. That was just plain too much for my suspension of disbelief. I literally rolled my eyes at it. All in all, it was amusing, but problematic.

Oh, and I have to ask about that cover. Neither person on it matches the description well, but more importantly the book isn’t set on water, no one sails, it doesn’t have a nautical theme. Literally, nothing about that cover makes any sense for the story behind it.

Edit: I’ve been reminded that Laura Harner was caught plagiarizing last year. If I’d remember this I wouldn’t have picked this book up. I don’t believe in supporting this behavior through continued patronization. 

Review of The Bitches of Everafter, by Barbra Annino

I’m still on my road trip and let me tell you it’s great for getting my reading done. As a bonus, I seem to have internet again, so I can still post. Just to repeat myself though, there is no guarantee I will tomorrow or the next day. So, if I stop posting it means I’ve been physically serrated from the digital teat and I’ll show back up when I reach civilization and wi-fi again. Now, on to the review.

The Bitches of EverafterI downloaded a copy of The Bitches of Everafter (by Barbra Annino) from Amazon when it was free.

Description from Goodreads:
These are not the mild-mannered maidens of your childhood. These are fallen princesses and fierce women with no recollection of who they are, where they came from, or how they arrived in a mysterious town called Everafter. All they know is that they’ve been sentenced to a stretch in a half-way house by a malicious judge with an ax to grind. They’ve been stripped of their freedom, their kingdoms, and their true loves. Now, they have nothing left to lose. 

Snow White is the newest parolee to arrive at Granny’s House for Girls. It isn’t long before she learns that her housemates harbor secrets, and that the mansion itself is a meandering enigma. She stumbles upon forbidden doorways, ghostly passages, and walls that seem to breathe. Determined to find out what’s really happening inside those old walls, Snow embarks on a dangerous discovery mission. Not everyone is thrilled about her nosing around. In fact, there are some who would kill to keep the secrets that the house—and its occupants—hold. 

Review:
This was a cute idea and the author managed to pull it off, but the shtick really did get old quickly. After a while it just started to feel ridiculous. It did make me laugh more than once though and the writing is pretty good. But if I was using ratings, I would take off half a start for not being a complete arc.

For real, some people might call this a cliff-hanger, but I don’t think that’s accurate. I don’t even think precipitous cliff-hanger is accurate, because nothing wraps up in this story. It literally just ends. I firmly believe that in order to be a cliff-hanger the book needs to leave something open for continuation while some part of the story concludes, thus marking the end of the book. That doesn’t happen here. This feels MUCH more like a serial than a series and I HATE serials. Why would I want only part of a story? I won’t bother with the next installment. Because this is a trilogy, so the next one will probably be just as incomplete. (See, author-person, you’ve completely created distrust in your reader.)