Tag Archives: #ReadDiverse2017

Things I read over Thanksgiving Break

I visited my aunt and uncle in Tennessee this Thanksgiving. That’s a six hour drive from my house, plus a four day visit and a six hour drive home. As my husband is one of those men who insists on always driving, that meant I got lots of reading time in. But while rural Tennessee is beautiful and we couldn’t have gotten better weather, the internet connection is sketchy, at best. So, I opted to save all my reviews for one post once I got home, instead of the normal one post per book.

This is that post. I’ll give each a little review below; but as you can maybe see from the books I chose, I was going for base enjoyment. St. Nacho’s was the winner of the bunch and Misbehaving  ranked bottom of the pack, closely followed by Undaunted. Leaving Jarek, Hell is Where the Heart is and Submerging Inferno lingering in the middle somewhere, neither wowing me nor leaving me cringing to admit I read them.


Undaunted, by Devin Harnois

This was one of those books in which everyone is just so darned lovely you can’t stand it. People make instant connections, earn trust in no time, love blooms easily, and EVERYONE lives happily ever after together. The writing was ok, though the dialogue didn’t feel particularly natural, at times. But the pacing felt off and I didn’t believe the relationships for a moment.

Jarek, by Celia Kyle & Erin Tate

I think you kind of have to be invested in the Mars Needs Women trope to enjoy this, it’s just so pared down. Unless you already know what to expect from the genre, you might not feel satisfied with this. Mars Needs Women is one of my guilty pleasures. I generally find them cheesy fun and this one was no different. There just isn’t a lot to it and what there is is diluted by a lot of outside drama and it felt like it might be part of a spin-off series, as there was a lot of history discussed. It wasn’t bad, but certainly wasn’t one of my favorite to use the trope.

Misbehaving, by Ava Mallory

Bad, just bad. It jumps around, the pacing is a mess and it needs an editor. But what really ruined it is that it’s literally like 95% dialogue. It’s really hard to make a novel work when it is all dialogue, and not even good dialogue. Mallory didn’t manage it.

St. Nacho’s, by Z.A. Maxfield

Slow and heavy, but good. I’ll admit that the beginning of this book left me confused, but once it found its groove I thought it really pretty. I liked that Maxfield messed with expectations in Cooper and Shawn’s relationship and Shawn was just a truly lovely character. The book did break my hear a little bit. I’d love to read Jordan’s book, which I think is #2 and Kevin’s, which I don’t think exists.

Hell is Where the Heart is, by Eden Winters

I was tempted to write this book off as absolutely ridiculous, but honestly that’s its whole point. It is ridiculous, but it laughs at itself and I found the whole think amusing in a silly sort of way.

Submerging Inferno, by Brandon Witt

Not too bad. A bit repetitive, the middle dragged a bit, I didn’t really buy Brett ‘s decisions, and it ended just about the time it got most interesting, but not bad. It has an interesting plot, two likable heroes and a diverse cast.

Review of Learning to Want, by Tami Veldura

I think I picked Tami Velbura‘s Learning to Want up in a Instrafreebie giveaway. It was certainly something along those lines.

Description from Goodreads:
Khoram is an enforcer, a bodyguard, but his boss has just betrayed him. Now he’s stranded on a desert planet he’s never heard of, chained to the only other human around.

Atash grew up in the cracks of Dulia’s complex social structure, where dominance and submission are a man’s worth. He’s struggled for years on a lower caste but Khoram could be his ticket to a better life if they can find common ground.

Atash wants to teach Khoram the art of submitting by choice and maybe make a name for himself along the way. Khoram, however, isn’t here to play Atash’s political games. He’s going to escape, if his former employer doesn’t see him killed first.

Review:
So, I found my experience with Learning to Want mixed at best. Picking up a book about a master/slave relationship (and not one in which characters play master or slave, but a real one in which one is actually owned by the other) is always an iffy proposition. Add to the mix that the enslaved character was a free black man, even if the enslaving character is black scaled (he’s still of the dominant, slave owning culture) is an uncomfortable echo of recent Western history. Though, if this was just the authors attempt to include some diversity I have to appreciate the effort.

There was just a lot of squink around the edges of the story. Even the Ohiri, the perfectly bland race that entered enslavement willingly and was supposed to be an example of unproblematic slavery, were raised from birth to submission. There willingness was coerced at best and they’re completely dismissed in the book. Background fodder, basically.

But my main issue is that, with the exception of transport in the beginning, which we’re told was 20+ days, but we don’t see, the whole book is about a week. In that time a free man was captured, molested, sold at auction, fondled some more (with some dubious consent), introduced to BDSM (which was really JUST SPANKING), come to NEED it, fallen in love, accepted and appreciated his ‘collar and cuffs’ (a euphemism of slavery), performed a perfect power-play sex ‘scene’ in front of hundreds, formed a soul bond and lived happily ever after (as a slave). And I was just like, “Ummmm, uh-uh. No way. We have skimmed over some major trauma here.”

Some books have a magic peen, where someone has sex one time and everything is magically perfect in the plot. This book had a magic paddle. One spanking and Khoram released all his guilt over being a drug dealing slaver in the past and accepted his lot as a sexual slave, craved it even. NO. Big fat No.

This book seemed to want to have both slaves and consent in the same people. In fact, that the slave must consent is stated more than once by characters in the book, seriously stressed even. And that just can’t work. It can’t. Veldura tried real hard, but IT DOES NOT WORK.

The writing is fine. In fact there are the occasional turns of phrase that are really beautiful. And the editing didn’t stand out as problematic. But the plot did. It is too rushed and the ‘free and consenting slave’ is an impossibility that Veldura failed to make feel anything but icky. As fluff, ok it’s fine. I could even like it. But think even the smallest amount about the plot and the whole thing collapses in on itself.

Review of Dalí, by E.M. Hamill

I purchased a copy of E. M. Hamill‘s Dali. I believe I got it straight from the publisher, Nine Star Press.

Description from Goodreads:
Dalí Tamareia has everything—a young family and a promising career as an Ambassador in the Sol Fed Diplomatic Corps. Dalí’s path as a peacemaker seems clear, but when their loved ones are killed in a terrorist attack, grief sends the genderfluid changeling into a spiral of self-destruction.

Fragile Sol Fed balances on the brink of war with a plundering alien race. Their skills with galactic relations are desperately needed to broker a protective alliance, but in mourning, Dalí no longer cares, seeking oblivion at the bottom of a bottle, in the arms of a faceless lover, or at the end of a knife.

The New Puritan Movement is rising to power within the government, preaching strict genetic counseling and galactic isolation to ensure survival of the endangered human race. Third gender citizens like Dalí don’t fit the mold of this perfect plan, and the NPM will stop at nothing to make their vision become reality. When Dalí stumbles into a plot threatening changelings like them, a shadow organization called the Penumbra recruits them for a rescue mission full of danger, sex, and intrigue, giving Dalí purpose again.

Risky liaisons with a sexy, charismatic pirate lord could be Dalí’s undoing—and the only way to prevent another deadly act of domestic terrorism.

Review:
I gotta admit, it took a while for me to get into this. The beginning felt a little like I’d been dropped into the middle of something. (I actually double checked this wasn’t a sequel to anything.) But once it got rolling, I really enjoyed it. I liked Dali. I liked the side characters. I liked Rhix. I liked the plot. I just basically enjoyed it.

Other than feeling lost in the beginning, my only complaints are that there were a number of convenient coincidences and I really wanted more resolution on the Dali/Rhix front. Those seeking romance might finish this disappointed. I however, am hoping there might be a second book coming at some point.