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Review – Ghosts in the Wind – Marguerite Labbe

ghosts in the windGhosts in the Wind
Author: Marguerite Labbe

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
Andrei Cuza and Dean Marshall celebrated their tenth anniversary only to have their happiness shattered by a random, insane event: On his way home from closing a business deal, Dean stops on the parkway to help a young mother with her flat tire, and her ex arrives, murders them, and takes off with his two kids.

Ghosts have haunted Andrei all his life. He bears the guilt for his sister being stuck in limbo, because ghosts are frozen at the moment they died, unable to adapt to the changes in their living loved ones. When Dean returns to Andrei as a ghost, the double punch of losing him and having to watch him founder if he doesn’t move on is almost more than Andrei can bear.

Despite dangers in limbo—Jackal Wraiths that devour souls are hunting him—Dean isn’t going anywhere until he helps Andrei track down the missing children. Andrei is in danger as well when he pays dearly to feel Dean’s touch one last time. Time is slowly running out as Dean and Andrei try to say good-bye while they track a killer who’s more than happy to kill again.

Review:
I normally steer clear of Dreamspinner Press’ Bittersweet Dreams line because as a romance reader, I love my HEA’s (happily ever afters), and in my experience, which they are complete, they aren’t what I expect in a romance. And they are normally gut-wrenching, tear-jerking kind of books. However, I needed a book for a reading challenge written by a local to me author, and since I know Marguerite (and often run into her at the grocery story) and she offered to send me a copy, I said yes. I was sure that I was going to regret it when I was plowing my way through a box of tissues…

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised however. Yes, Ghosts in the Wind was gut-wrenching and there was the death of a main character – but I liked how it all played out. There is a fine line in writing between being too emotion driven and too plot driven, especially when it comes to the death of a character, but I think that the author managed to tip-toe along that line and balance it just right. I personally wasn’t a fan of the jackle wraiths, to me they just seemed a bit like overkill, but at the same time, I can see how similar creatures show up in other books where death plays a role – so it isn’t like they were completely unique.

The mystery to me was well done – mostly because you knew who it was, and it was just a matter of seeing the Andrei/police solve the crime – so your focus as the reader was singular, rather than split between seeing the police solve the mystery, and trying to figure out who did it yourself (if that makes sense). Anyways, I would give Ghosts in the Wind 4 stars because of its emotional pull and the engaging writing style. But hopefully, a HEA next time – please ;)

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – The Last Snow of Winter – Ian Muise

last snow of winterThe Last Snow of Winter
Author: Ian Muise

Description:
As spring break arrives, Mark Poole is focused on his goal of becoming a veterinarian, set on pleasing his proud parents even though he really wants to be artist. He also carefully keeps his desires frozen-for their sake. But he can’t help the attraction he feels for the burly, unapproachable lineman who shares two of his classes.Cliff Stevens is equally set on achieving his adopted dream of becoming a professional football player to the exclusion of almost everything else. Cliff drifts through the days alone, but he can guess what Mark has in mind when he catches him watching one day.After an accidental encounter, Cliff proposes a bargain: for one week during the break, they will set aside their reservations and play at being together, exploring each other and perhaps even learning a little about themselves as well.

Review:
Its weird, normally when I don’t like a book, I can pick that one element that made it so for me – the characterization, a situation that I couldn’t get past the believability (even in fiction), but in this book, there just wasn’t that one thing overall that I could pinpoint – it was more of a general dislike. I chose to read it for 3 reasons – 1) it was on a list of challenge books in one of my goodreads groups that I had to pick from; 2) it was a new to me author and I am always interested in trying those out and 3) it fit for another reading challenge (snow in the title) – so there were multiple reasons why – and while some of my GR friends had given it iffy reviews, my normal ones that I look and trust hadn’t read it – so I decided to give it a chance – I kind of wish, I had paid more attention to the naysayers.

I think my biggest issue, if I was to chose one, was how dated it felt. The book was published in 2010 and as far as I could tell (there were no specific dates mentioned), it was supposed to be a contemporary. However, it was set in a college where the students didn’t have their own computers – the one main character had to go to a computer lab (and get permission to use it) in order to write his term papers. Now, maybe I am out of the loop, but when I graduated college in 2005, all of the students had their own computers, it was basically a requirement – yes, we did have a computer lab off campus but that was for the math/engineering types who had to have all those sorts of funky programs (I took one class there and never again) – so it was very disconcerting to read about it when I couldn’t even point out the time period. I mean, if it had been maybe set 10 years earlier (and mentioned in the book), it would have been more believeable.

My second issue was that in general, I just never really connected with the characters – there were just too one-dimensional – Mark, the primary main character was going to be a veterinarian because that is what he thought was a good and acceptable job to counter the fact that he was gay – but it just didn’t ring true – most people I know who want to be doctors/lawyers/vets – anything that requires multiple years of school need to have that passion. From the description, I also thought that he was in veterinary school already – I mean, with the term – “focused on his goal of becoming a veterinarian” as the first line in the description – but he was really pre-vet doing his undergraduate degree.

The other character, Cliff, I felt was slightly better as a character – but there was still just something that didn’t work. He kept pushing for things and then all of a sudden did a 180 degree character turn – which resulted in my biggest pet peeve the “huge misunderstanding,” which was ultimately solved wayyy to quickly…

As a review, I’m personally not a fan of writing negative reviews, I mean, I hate it when I have to write about how much I dislike a book – and yet, I think that sometimes they are needed. In this case, I felt strongly enough about it in a negative light that a review was warranted. Overall, I would give it 1.5 stars – I finished it because I needed to and while i had major issues as described above, the writing wasn’t bad – there weren’t any major grammatical errors or anything like that. It just didn’t quite work for me.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Red + Blue – A.B. Gayle

Red+Blue
Author: A.B. Gayle
Series: #1 in the Opposites Attract series

Book Description:
Fresh from backwoods Minnesota, actuarial student Ben Dutoit is ecstatic to land a job with Sydney Sutherland Family Insurance, one of the few companies that offers life insurance to people in the high-risk category. The fact that he gets to work in Gay Central, aka San Francisco, is just the icing on the rainbow-colored cake. Ben sets himself just three goals: be out and proud enough to participate in the Pride parade; seek out the company of like-minded souls in the clubs; and maybe, if he’s lucky, fall in love. But the men Ben meets are everything he’s not: suave, confident, sophisticated, and sexy. Unlike redneck Ben, they’re blue bloods from blue states, born with status, wealth, and the responsibility that comes with the package. Ben’s still wondering if red and blue can mix when he discovers what risk really means. The global economy tanks. The job he looked forward to is in jeopardy, and every dream Ben ever had is threatened, especially love, the biggest dream of all.

Review:
The cover is the first thing that drew me to this book, I loved the division of the Red and Blue – because it gave you the idea that there were going to be 2 distinct points of view to the story. And then having to figure out who was going to be the red and who was going to be the blue. I also liked how the author used the shifting perspectives to tell the story (the same period is told twice though both of the main character’s eyes, and then the last section is an alternating POV). My one complaint, and this is part of what stopped the book from being a complete 4 star read, was that the ended seemed very abrupt. Everything was jacked up, and then voila, in the space of about 4 pages (I would guess) since I was reading on my kindle, everything was fixed…and I was kind of left with an empty feeling, like it wasn’t quite complete.

I did enjoy the fact that the author took a risk with several of the topics included in the book (specifically HIV in a secondary character), however, I’m not a fan of the bitchy female that seems to routinely appear in many m/m books. It is almost like it is a required trope in the genre, I would look to see more books with supportive female secondary characters, or at least non-bitchy, manipulative ones. I look forward to more books by this author in the future.

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2012 in Book Review

 

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Review – All Bets Are Off – Marguerite Labbe

All Bets Are Off
Author: Marguerite Labbe

Review Copy Provided by Netgalley

Book Description
It only takes one night with Ash Gallagher to make Eli Hollister think he’s finally met the right man at the right time. Good thing he doesn’t bet on it, because Ash turns out to be a student in Eli’s class at the local college. Eli can’t deny he’s attracted, but now it’s complicated. He’s already in enough trouble with the department head, a man who would like to see Eli denied his tenure and fired.

Ash is looking forward to taking his life in a new direction. After serving one active-duty stint in the Marine Corps and another in the Reserves, he’s ready to put his military life behind him. The last new experience he’d planned for this semester was to fall in lust with his English professor, but the more Eli resists, the more Ash is determined to have him. Then he discovers Eli’s playing for keeps, and Ash is only interested in a fling… or is he? Between these two, when it comes to life and love, all bets are off.

Book Review
I was lucky enough to meet the author at a recent real-life get together of an online group, so when All Bets Are Off showed up as a review copy on Netgalley and since I had never read anything by this author, I jumped at the chance to read something by her. One of my favorite tropes in books is the forbidden student/teacher relationship, but they are so often hard to find in a way that seems believable. That is one of the things that I loved about All Bets Were Off, the trying to avoid the relationship and the building of sexual tension through-out rather than a quick fling.

The bantering between Ash and Eli was probably one of my favorite parts of the book, especially since they supported different sports teams. It made it seem more real than many relationships in books that just seem forced. The relationship between Ash and his Marine buddies was the other part of the story that I enjoyed – you could tell that the author had really done her research. Being in the military, I am very picky about how the military is portrayed, and I felt that the author did the relationships justice.

I did feel that between the mystery and the freaky department chair, that there was too much going on which took away from the developing romance. I kind of wish that just one of those elements had been focused on vice both of them. But that is just a small complaint. I do know that I will definitely reading more books by the author in the future.

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2012 in Book Review, Uncategorized

 

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