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Conflict is needed for drama. And in a group, there is that one character who is around just to cause conflict with the other characters. WEST COAT AVENGERS #69 is an example of when there are two characters there just to cause conflict, and what happens when they fight each other.

Story by Roy Thomas, with art by Paul Ryan.


Grudge Match )
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I've made some icons, and since some of them are Harry Potter icons, I figured what better day to post them than Harry Potter day?

10 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
8 Kingsman: The Secret Service
7 Star Trek Beyond

 photo 04_zpsogmeuh9f.png  photo HP 05_zps17njaybi.png  photo STB 03_zps8bvozv8k.png

Icons Can Be Found Here @ [personal profile] cpt_kirk

The Hood #3

Jun. 26th, 2017 01:04 pm
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Only possible trigger warning for this issue is some blood.Read more... )
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55 Icons: 46 Disney Animated Films + 9 Phineas and Ferb


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Posted by Guest Reviewer


Hot in Hellcat Canyon

by Julie Anne Long
May 31, 2016 · Avon
RomanceContemporary Romance

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by Crystal Anne with an E. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Long Contemporary category.

The summary:

A broken truck, a broken career, and a breakup heard around the world land superstar John Tennessee McCord in Hellcat Canyon. Legend has it that hearts come in two colors there: gold or black. And that you can find whatever you’re looking for, whether it’s love . . . or trouble. JT may have found both in waitress Britt Langley.

His looks might cause whiplash and weak knees, but Britt sees past JT’s rough edge and sexy drawl to a person a lot like her: in need of the kind of comfort best given hot and quick, with clothes off and the lights out.

Her wit is sharp but her eyes and heart—not to mention the rest of her—are soft, and JT is falling hard. But Britt has a secret as dark as the hills, and JT’s past is poised to invade their present. It’s up to the people of Hellcat Canyon to help make sure their future includes a happily ever after.

Here is Crystal Anne with an E's review:

First, let us all enjoy the Post-It notes that I jotted down thoughts on. It was a library book, so no notes in the margins.

I’m not getting hunted down for a librarian for nobody.

Post-Its with a bunch of notes

So I am familiar with the fact that this website loves them some Julie Anne Long, and their effusive love for her has actually caused me to one-click at least two Pennyroyal Green books.

That doesn’t mean I have actually read them yet. #failureasafunctionaladult

That familiarity means that I am aware that she has a reputation for writing really good small town. However, when the Pennyroyal Green series and its attendant corsetry came to an end, she went for contemporaries. Still with the small town, though. What I came to find out is that yes, she does good small town.

So let’s meet our lucky couple, shall we? First we have Britt Langley, a pretty blonde that both waitresses at the local watering hole and works in real estate. She’s very nice, has justifiable pride in a well-developed vocabulary, and has what is literally a pathological impulse to rescue neglected plants. Trigger warning: she also has a history of abuse that has left her both gun-shy in the extreme and she is just now starting to let herself get back into things that she loved and made her happy.

Then we have John Tennessee McCord, who goes by J.T., because that is one hell of a moniker. He is Southern, an actor who is currently on a bit of a career downswing, but he can see a possible upswing in the offing. He’s often funny, absently flirtatious (it’s pretty much second nature to him), got a black belt in his free time (like you do), says some breathtakingly stupid things during the course of the book, and has a grey streak in his hair, because someone thought of me specifically and wanted me to be happy (#silver fox #cometoButthead).

Basically, I spent the whole book picturing Timothy Olyphant’s absurdly handsome face. THANK YOU.

Gif of Timothy Olyphant in a henley shirt, jeans, and a Stetson, with the text Shitload of Swagger

There was nothing particularly new about the structure of the story. Dude walks into bar, dude meets hot lady, they both notice that the other is hot, at least one of them is reluctant to bone, they both decide that boning without a commitment is a thing that they will do, they have the best sexytimes ever, sketchy pasts invade their present, they both realize they caught feelings, someone makes a big gesture, and then declarations of love occur. Seriously, this particular sketch has been A LOT of books. That said, this book makes it work, and while not particularly fresh, it has a lot of things going for it that make it a comforting and engaging read.

Timothy Olyphant saying, Sounds like a love story

First, we have the cast of characters that always comes with the small town. We’ve got a gun-toting granny, a big dumb dude, the ladies who run the local hair place and dress shoppe, and the staff of the watering hole consists of a forever-married couple and the requisite taciturn and temperamental cook that has mad burger skills. Oh, and there’s Sequel Bait. That said, it was pretty clear that all of those characters had rich internal lives (that forever-married couple are into some gentle role-playing, and the big dumb dude makes a conscious choice to not remain dumb), and their interest and delight in the love story that was unfolding in front of them was cute. I also enjoyed some of the Hollywood types that descended onto the town, and by that I mean I liked Franco. He made for an interesting foil in the fact that even though he and J.T. are hyper-competitive, it is clear that most of the negativity is on J.T.’s side.

Then we had the conflict. Most of it is interpersonal and driven by misunderstandings on both sides. Which is fine, I don’t always need a knife-wielding maniac to drive conflict. I had several “Use your freaking words!!” moments. Both characters had had experiences that caused them to not be particularly skilled at relationship building. The book probably would have moved a bit faster had at least one of them just tried to be somewhat straightforward. They both also had the capacity to be astoundingly unreasonable (people, amirite?).

Timothy Olyphant in a Stetson and a busted lip saying, Could you be any more vague

I did like them as a couple, though. When not being close-mouthed to a fault, they both genuinely liked each other and tried to do nice things for the other. One of my favorite parts was when they were both hanging out and decided to trade e-readers so they could read what the other had. I also liked that this couple was a bit older than what one often finds. J.T. is forty, and Britt thirty-two. These were already people that had had lives, and experienced both success and failure. It might be my age (I’m 38), but I’m here for a lived-in character (also, get off my lawn).

There were a few things where, well, I had concerns. At least the first two love scenes took place in weirdly unhygienic locales (I’m not kidding, it is exactly what my Post-It note said). Second, the ex-girlfriend is villainous to the point of ridiculousness. Not a lot of complexity, almost no humor. Also, I’m sorry, I refuse to believe that a successful, skilled actress has never heard of the Greek myth of Persephone, nor do I believe that a guy that clearly enjoys reading and learning would have tolerated her for very long.

In all, I enjoyed the book, and will probably seek out more of Long’s work. As I said, I can live with the fact that there was a formula when the writing of the formula is good. Chocolate cake comes from a formula, too, and I am always here for a good piece of cake. Also, any book that makes me picture Timothy Olyphant for 374 pages is going to engender a general fondness.

Nice solid B+

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Posted by Amanda

The Soldier’s Scoundrel

The Soldier’s Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian is $1.99! This is a gay historical romance with class differences, which readers seemed to really love in terms of the pairing. However, other reader mention having some problems with the book’s pacing. It has a 4-star rating on Goodreads. You can also grab The Lawrence Browne Affair for $1.99!

A scoundrel who lives in the shadows

Jack Turner grew up in the darkness of London’s slums, born into a life of crime and willing to do anything to keep his belly full and his siblings safe. Now he uses the tricks and schemes of the underworld to help those who need the kind of assistance only a scoundrel can provide. His distrust of the nobility runs deep and his services do not extend to the gorgeous high-born soldier who personifies everything Jack will never be.

A soldier untarnished by vice

After the chaos of war, Oliver Rivington craves the safe predictability of a gentleman’s life-one that doesn’t include sparring with a ne’er-do-well who flouts the law at every turn. But Jack tempts Oliver like no other man has before. Soon his yearning for the unapologetic criminal is only matched by Jack’s pleasure in watching his genteel polish crumble every time they’re together.

Two men only meant for each other

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A Bride in the Bargain

A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist is 79c at Amazon and 99c at other vendors! Gist is a bit of an auto-buy author for some. This is an American historical and Inspirational romance, though there does seem to be some debate on shelving it as “Inspirational” on Goodreads. Readers say that though what little and tame sexual content is in the book, there is plenty of sexual tension. It has a 4.1-star rating on Goodreads.

In 1860s Seattle, a man with a wife could secure himself 640 acres of timberland. But because of his wife’s untimely death, Joe Denton finds himself about to lose half of his claim. Still in mourning, his best solution is to buy one of those Mercer girls arriving from the East. A woman he’ll marry in name but keep around mostly as a cook.

Anna Ivey’s journey west with Asa Mercer’s girls is an escape from the griefs of her past. She’s not supposed to be a bride, though, just a cook for the girls. But when they land, she’s handed to Joe Denton and the two find themselves in a knotty situation. She refuses to wed him and he’s about to lose his land. With only a few months left, can Joe convince this provoking–but beguiling–easterner to be his bride?

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The Highland Duke

The Highland Duke by Amy Jarecki is $1.99! This is the first book in the Lords of the Highlands series, and features some forced proximity and the heroine who heals the hero. Readers loved the blend of action and romance, though some found the plot a little unbelievable. It has a 3.8-star rating on Goodreads.

She’ll put her life on the line for him . . .

When Akira Ayres finds the brawny Scot with a musket ball in his thigh, the healer has no qualms about doing whatever it takes to save his life. Even if it means fleeing with him across the Highlands to tend to his wounds while English redcoats are closing in. Though Akira is as fierce and brave as any of her clansmen, even she’s intimidated by the fearsome, brutally handsome Highlander who refuses to reveal his name.

Yet she can never learn his true identity.

Geordie knows if Akira ever discovers he’s the Duke of Gordon, both her life and his will be forfeit in a heartbeat. The only way to keep the lass safe is to ensure she’s by his side day and night. But the longer he’s with her, the harder it becomes to think of letting her go. Despite all their differences, despite the danger-he will face death itself to make her his . . .

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Playing By Her Rules

Playing By Her Rules by Amy Andrews is 99c! This is a sports contemporary romance with a rugby-playing hero and second chance romance. Be warned, the book is a little on the short side, but 99c isn’t a bad price to give it a shot. But many loved the slow burn of the second chance romance between the hero and heroine. This is part of a huge Entangled sale with books priced at 99c!

In this grudge match, the first to score…

When style columnist Matilda Kent accidentally lets slip that she was once involved with the captain of the Sydney Smoke rugby team, she suddenly finds herself elevated to the position she’s always wanted – feature writer. The catch? She’s stuck doing a six-part series on her ex. Still, there’s no way she can turn down a promotion…or the chance to dish the dirt on the guy who so callously broke her heart.

…could win it all!

Tanner Stone wants to be involved in a feature series about as much as he wants to snap an Achilles. But the thought of seeing Tilly again is a bonus—and has him more worked up than he wants to admit. Only he’s not prepared for how different she is – all cool and professional. His Tilly is still in there, though…and he still wants her, now more than ever. All he has to do is charm her into giving him a rematch. And this time, winner takes all!

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MiniTool Partition Wizard Pro 10.2.1

Jun. 26th, 2017 04:00 am
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Posted by GOTD_Editor

MiniTool Partition Wizard Pro is one of the best partition managers. Not only does it covers all the functions of the Free Edition, but also embeds some advanced partitioning technologies like merge Partition, convert NTFS to FAT32, change cluster size, and convert dynamic disk to basic to help professional users.

NB: The license is provided for 6 months.

Panda Global Protection

Jun. 26th, 2017 04:00 am
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Posted by GOTD_Editor

Join and Win one of the 100 yearly Licenses for Panda Global Protection (for 3 devices)!

Get fully protected with Panda Global Protection:

  • Anti-virus + Firewall: Forget about any kind of malware, for ever.
  • Anti-ransomware: Protect your important files from being encrypted with the Data Shield
  • Parental Control: Monitor your children’s online activity
  • Safe Banking & Shopping: Prevent your credit cards and bank accounts to get stolen from hackers.
  • Wi-Fi Protection: for private and public networks.
  • Password manager: create randomized and crabbed passwords for all your accounts, only remember the master one.
  • Speed-up your PC: clean unnecessary files that are slowing down your PC and boost it for peak performance.
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Posted by Amanda

It’s that time again! Cover Snark time! This is where we gaze upon book covers that don’t seem quite right. Let’s have at it, shall we?

Fall Into Darkness by Valerie Twombly. The hero has angel wings, but where the wings meet his back, it's flesh colored and very much looks like the start of another arm.

From Karen: Well, I’m not sure this will seem icky to everybody or just me, but here’s another possible entry for Cover Snark. Anyway, what bothers me is the positioning of his wing. I know that it’s gotta be connected somewhere but where the cover illustrator put it is kind of creepy to me. Maybe if it wasn’t partially skin before becoming feathered, but it just looks like a bad deformity. Actually, it looks like a skinny arm coming off his shoulder. So, ewww.

The other issue, of course, is whether the positioning would actually allow him to fly. Doesn’t seem so to me. Maybe someone with aerodynamics experience will know that.

Amanda: His face says it all.

Sarah: I feel sad for his chiropractor.

Redheadedgirl: That’s not…why.


Elyse: That looks like something you should have biopsied.

Sarah: A little late now.

Elyse: Can you imagine that doctor’s day? “Good morning Mr. Smith. I see you’re here about–HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!”

Redheadedgirl: I mean….okay…. I guess in terms of wing position on birds, and chordates that actually fly…. maybe? but you’re not taking into account the surrounding muscular development that would be required for those things to work

Also since humanoids don’t have keelbones and the chest shape that birds have evolved and…. am I overthinking this?

Elyse: Yes.

Redheadedgirl: I just feel like those wing supporting a body weight from the shoulders isn’t going to work.

Sarah: I’ve seen a ton of intricate drawings of how wings would fit and work on humans, and how existing muscles would have adapted or grown. This wasn’t one of the designs.

Redheadedgirl: Also how did he get that tank top on?

Doe she have a valet to sew him into his muscle tanks every morning?

Elyse: How does he go to the bathroom? Where do the wings go?

Redheadedgirl: Wheelchair accessible stall, I guess.

Sarah: Imagine what his car must look like. Forget moving the seat back. He has to be in the trunk.

Maybe he can steer with his wings?

Redheadedgirl: Sarah, he doesn’t need a car. He can fly.

Sarah: Even he has to obey no fly zones, righ?

Right? Like, if he lives in a metro area with a bunch of airports, he’d have to drive or take the train.

Redheadedgirl: I don’t think the FAA had regs on angels.

Sarah: Imagine that guy on a bus. That’s a whole other realm of manspreading right there.

I bet they do. I mean, Sandra Hill has Vampire Viking Angel Navy SEALs. you’d think if there were angel SEALs the FAA would have to be at least aware.

Concealed by M.M. Koenig. The bottom half of the cover is a woman's face, but displayed horizontally. The top half is a shirtless, heavily tattooed man, who kind of looks like the lead singer of Maroon Five.

Amanda: The face placement is jarring.

Sarah: I’m curious what ink she’s concealing.

Interlude by Kay Halliday. The cover is supposed to be the concert scene, but the audience is faceless and blurry, except for one woman. She's missing her lower half as she looks up at what I assume is the hero. He's wearing a white t-shirt and has a noticeable tribal tattoo. There is no stage. He's just sort of hovering.

Elyse: She has no legs

Art dept: I feel like we forgot something here… Nah. I bet it’s fine

Carrie: I loathe both of them on sight.

Amanda: Never trust a dude with a tribal tattoo.

Sarah: I keep thinking the curl next to the title is toilet paper. She has to run and get more because he used the last of the roll and rock stars don’t replace the paper roll, no, ma’am.

Only a Viscount Will Do by Tamara Gill. The man is embracing the woman, but is bending her back over his arm at a startling angle. She's about to flash everyone a bit of nipple. His pants are also flesh-toned, so a quick look makes it seem like he's totally pantless.

Elyse: Is he trying to steal her heart by biting through her ribcage to get at it?

Amanda: I feel like with the way her dress is sitting, we should have seen some nip by now.

Sarah: Amanda, the thumbnail image! It’s the best part of this cover.

Amanda: Feast yer eyes!

A smaller version of Only a Viscount Will Do cover and yep, the hero totally looks like he's missing his pants.

Amanda: It’s like one of those Magic Eye posters.

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Posted by Amanda

Today, we have an exclusive cover reveal of Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton ( A | BN | K | G | iB ). Trust us, you’re going to want to see this cover.

This book is “equal parts love story, historical fiction, and love letter to Cuba.” Though we do have some bad news: it doesn’t come out until February 2018. WOE!

Better get your library holds and preorders in now!

Here’s the official book description:

A young woman travels to Havana to honor her late grandmother’s wishes–and discovers her family’s greatest secret, hidden since the Cuban revolution. A mesmerizing novel about two generations of Cuban-American women.

In 2017, freelance writer Marisol Ferrera travels to Cuba to honor her late grandmother’s wishes to return her ashes to her homeland. There Marisol recovers an unexpected piece of her family’s history–a box buried in the backyard of her family’s former mansion in Havana. Hidden for decades, it unearths her grandmother’s greatest secret.

In 1958, Elisa Perez, the daughter of one of the wealthiest sugar barons in Cuba, meets a young lawyer at a party in Havana. Their attraction is instant, their chemistry undeniable, but they’re caught on opposite sides of a growing political movement. Unable to deny their love, they begin a clandestine affair while all around them Cuba’s fractures cut deeper and deeper, violence spilling throughout the country.

Now, as Marisol grapples with her own Cuban identity, she must navigate a perilous political climate and a growing attraction to a man with secrets of his own. And as more family history comes to light, the past threatens to collide with the present, and Marisol will discover the true meaning of courage.

Now are you ready for the cover?

Are you sure?

Really, really sure?

Cover Reveal

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton cover. A woman in a gorgeous peach-colored dress, sitting on a turquoise couch. She's wearing dark lipstick and there's a beach landscape of Cuba.

What do you think? Gorgeous, right?

You might recognize Chanel Cleeton’s name from her Capitol Confessions series, or the Wild Aces romances. This book is a little different, and a little personal, too: according to her bio, she “grew up on stories of her family’s exodus from Cuba following the events of the Cuban Revolution.”

Are you excited for Next Year in Havana? Bummed about the wait time? Let us know your thoughts on the cover in the comments!

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Comics don’t rip off pop culture anywhere near enough any more. Krypto and Ace the Bat-Hound happened because of Lassie and Rin Tin Tin. Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD happened because of James Bond and the Man from UNCLE. Comics used to omnivorously devour whatever was popular and make it part of the mix. Usually two years too late, but they were in there trying. Kung fu popular? Have some kung fu heroes! Blaxploitation? Gotcha covered. But at some point, greedily chasing trends started to be frowned on. And the Big Two comics got to be a lot more about maintaining the old stuff than chasing the new. I think that was a point when comics lost a lot of vitality. If Pokemon had happened in 1965, there’d be a Spider-Man villain today named Monsteroso, who hunted & trapped monsters he used to do crimes. -- Kurt Busiek

Read more... )
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Need icons, made icons. Here's a preview, the rest are in my community. Follow the link.

"disgusted noise"

Dragonriders of Pern

Jun. 25th, 2017 12:48 pm
sheliak: A mermaid stares in fascination down a chasm in the ocean floor, through which an underwater city is visible. (trot)
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75 Dragonriders of Pern icons over here.

Bayou Shadow Hunter by Debbie Herbert

Jun. 25th, 2017 06:00 pm
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Posted by Guest Reviewer


Bayou Shadow Hunter

by Debbie Herbert
March 1, 2016 · Harlequin Nocturne
RomanceContemporary Romance

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by Ms G. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Paranormal Romance category.

The summary:


Bent on revenge, Native American Shadow Hunter Tombi Silver could turn to only one woman, the “witch” Annie Matthews, for help. Her ability to hear auras had allowed her to discover Tombi’s friend mystically trapped by forces that could destroy them all. The accompanying message of a traitor in their midst meant Tombi could trust no one. Dare he bring Annie along on his quest to fight shadow spirits? Putting his faith in someone outside his tribe, especially one who pulled at his tightly controlled desires, could prove just as dangerous as his mission…

Here is Ms. G's review:

I haven’t read a paranormal romance in a long-ass time. I binged and then got sick of vampires and werewolves. However, whilst scrolling through the open options on the RITA spreadsheet, I came across a book called Bayou Shadow Hunter. Damn if that shit didn’t sound either fucking awesome or batshit crazy. Since it is a paranormal without bizarre creatures, I decided to give it a shot, and I ended up enjoying myself quite a bit.

Annie Mathews is a Hoodoo witch with magical auditory powers that not only allow her to hear like a roided-up bat, but also listen to other people’s auras in the form of music. Annie fucking hates her gift because all the constant auditory input makes it nigh impossible for her to person IRL. All she wants is for her Grandma Tia, the Hoodoo Queen of Alabama, to help her get rid of it. Annie has been coming to stay with Tia in Bayou La Syrnia every summer since she was a kid, but Tia can’t/won’t help Annie ditch her gift.

One night, while trying to fall asleep Annie notices a glowing green orb floating outside her window, and she decides to Nancy Drew it. Turns out the orb is a will-o’-the-wisp and it leads her into the Bayou. Wisps are trapped spirits of the dead, and this particular one is named Bo. He can only talk to Annie because of her gift. He wants Annie to tell his BFF, Tombi Silver, that there is a traitor in Tombi’s inner circle and Tombi shouldn’t trust anyone.

Of course as soon as Bo finishes delivering his cryptic message, who should step out of the woods but Tombi! Tombi is a carpenter by day and the leader of a group of Choctaw warriors who run around the Bayou freeing trapped spirits and fighting evil by night. He has pretty full plate.

The second these two clap eyes on each other, they catch a raging case of insta-lust. They are also kind of suspicious of each other because, you know, the whole total strangers in the dark thing. After they spend a few minutes feeling each other out (verbally) Annie delivers the message from Bo. She also explains her gift to Tombi.

Though Tombi is intrigued by Annie’s gift, he’s also suspicious as fuck. See, besides releasing the souls trapped inside wisps, he and his warriors are also looking for a way to stop the evil spirit, Nalusa, that their ancestors trapped in the Bayou. Hurricane Katrina not only took Tombi’s parents and his home, but it also fucked shit up so bad that Nalusa started gaining power and running amok. Tombi and his warriors are desperate to keep Nalusa confined to the Bayou because not only can this son-of-a-bitch shapeshift into a creepy-ass snake, and other horrible things, but he can also infect the minds of the living and bend them to his will and drive them to kill themselves. So when Annie tells Tombi that one of his most trusted friends is a traitor, he half thinks that she is under the control of Nalusa and spends a most of the rest of the book trying to decide whether he can actually trust her.

Annie is kind of fascinated by Tombi because not only is he hot AF, but she cannot hear his aura. Yep. It’s reverse Twilight. Turns out that being a shadow hunter means that you have a very particular set of skills, such as night vision and the ability to control how much energy you release into the world.

Despite being wary of Annie and her message, Tombi still feels the need to look into this whole traitor kerfuffle. He wants Annie to come and creep on the auras of his friends. At first Annie is all “Hell no. I want none of your evil snake monsters.” However, Tombi tells her he can teach her to control her energy field which might help her learn to turn off her gift. The prospect of being rid of her super hearing is too good, so Annie agrees.

This book has A LOT of plot, so for the sake of brevity I’m just going to say that Tombi’s plan doesn’t work out so well, straight up because of his trust issues and rather magnificent dumbfuckery, and all the shit hits all the fans.

Show Spoiler
Annie totes identifies the traitor (his other bestie) but Tombi doesn’t want to believe it and disregards her. Basically, Tombi is a fuckwad who should have listened to the outside consultant that he brought in because doing so would have solved almost all of the problems that arise in the rest of the story, but hey, that would have been a much shorter and less angsty book.

They spend the rest of the book hunting wisps, trying to figure out how to fight Nalusa and, attempting to suss out the traitor. Of course, all this intrigue and danger is just bursting with sexual tension and they end up boning like bunnies. And in the grand tradition of the majority of romance novels that I’ve read, Annie falls hard and knows it while Tombi has trust issues and manfeels he doesn’t quite know what to do with. Besides, he has a sacred duty to fight evil and love makes you weak so…. Anyways, it all works out OK. Evil is smushed back into a tree, Annie owns her power, Tombi figures out his manfeels, and love and weddings and shit.

I really enjoyed Bayou Shadow Hunter. There were a lot of things that I liked; however, there were also a lot of things that kind of annoyed me and took me out of the story. Granted I am a nitpicky motherfucker, so the things that bothered me might not phase other readers at all. I am willing to admit I tend to overthink. Especially about books that are set during my lifetime. I ended up having a lot of feels, so I figured the best way to break this down was to make a list (I am a BIG fan of lists) of what worked for me and what didn’t.

Things That Totally Worked for Me

– The plot is crazy interesting and compelling. There is a lot of it, but it is paced pretty well. Not too bogged down in detail or slower moments, and not too rushed or so action packed that there was no room for character development. Now it wasn’t quite I-can’t-put-this-book-down-or-I-might-actually-go-crazy good, but it was damn!-I-am-so-curious-to-see-what-happens-next good.

– I loved the setting. Debbie Herbert does a good job at giving the reader a really concrete sense of place. Her descriptions of all of the natural elements of the Bayou are lush and detailed without going complete Anne of Green Gables with the adjectives. As someone who has spent the grand total of a whole week in NOLA, I found the constant mention of mosquitos and being bitten by mosquitos to be very authentic. Though, no one ever mentions bug spray which I found disquieting.

– The main character’s total acceptance of each other’s cultures. Now, I don’t know much of anything about Hoodoo or Choctaw religious practices, but in the book there is a decent amount of overlap between the two. However, neither Annie nor Tombi ever prioritized their rituals or practices above the other’s. In fact, they were usually willing to try both or blend the two together figuring the more firepower they had in the fight against evil the better. In this era of what seems like constant religious conflict and judging, it was really nice to have two supportive people who were like “Yeah, your thing is totally cool. You do you.”

– Annie’s super hearing is really interesting. I’ve never come across paranormal auditory powers before, so for me this was a cool and unique gift. I could also see how it could be a total pain in the ass and why she was so desperate to get rid of it. As a reader I found the constant whining she had at the beginning of the book to be a little grating, but if I’m being honest with myself, if I were in her shoes I would probably be waaaay more of a sad sack.

Things That Kinda Worked for Me, but I Wish Were Better

– The world building in the supernatural realm is pretty good and vivid. There are some basic rules and people follow them. I am persnickety however, and just wanted a little more explanation. For an example of extreme persnicketiness, the shadow hunters free wisps by hitting them in the center with stones. Does it have to be stones or could any projectile work? I am sure that most people won’t care, but rocks were specifically mentioned enough that it got me wondering. Also, Grandma Tia is kind of an all knowing badass. She can suck demon-snake poison out of people and come out the other side alive. She also seems to know a whole lot about Tombi’s secret fight against Nalusa and about how and he and Annie they are destined for one another. How does she know this? Do the spirits tell her? Does she have visions? Grandma’s intuition? This inquiring mind needs to know! I mean all the stuff with Grandma Tia was cool and very convenient plotwise, but it all kind of felt Hoodoo hand-waved, which stuck out because Herbert took time to explain the mechanics of a lot of the Hoodoo rituals.

– I want more backstory on Annie. We learn that Annie is known as “Crazy Annie” in her home town up in Georgia. How did the whole town find out about her gift? Did she ever tell other people? We are left to assume that as a kid hearing shit all the time meant she acted weird, but I am hella nosey and wanted more info. Plus, we are told that Annie’s mom is awful and does not do well with Annie and her magic powers, but it is just talked about and never shown. The rejection from her town and her mom is a huge part of Annie’s character make-up and explains why she is such a shrinking violet at the beginning of the book, and I would have liked a little more explanation into her past.

Also, Tombi’s cultural heritage is a huge part of who he is. Annie is Cajun, Native-American and Caucasian, but her heritage(s) (beyond Hoodoo which in my understanding is more religion than heritage but I could be mistaken) is barely mentioned. I cannot tell if this an intentional choice to show that her past doesn’t mean anything to her, or if it was just lost in all of the paranormal stuff and plot, or whatever, but it kind of bothered me.

– I am very meh on both of the main characters. Their flaws and motivations make sense given their what we know of their backstories. Tombi is fighting an evil demon that controls people, so his trust issues, while rather prolonged, are not unfounded. Annie has had very little support and can’t do much of anything because she is constantly trying to filter out noise, so her desire for quick fixes for her gift and tendency to just bounce when the going gets tough, while a bit grating, make sense. Usually (I’m looking at you Tombi) neither one was Too Stupid To Live, which is nice. They were both just kind of broody and angsty a lot, which used to thrill me when I was a teen, but I now I like it when my heroes have their emotional shit together a little bit better. I was totally fine hanging out with both of these people for a whole book, but I just didn’t love either of them.

Things That Annoyed The Ever Lovin’ Dickens Out of Me

– PROTECTION!!!!!!! This is one of my biggest pet peeves: if you are going to set your novel in modernish times (I have no idea what year this is supposed to be taking place. Cell phones are used a lot, but no one even mentions the internet so . . .?) then your grown-ass characters should not be having unprotected sex! Protection and/or birth control is never even mentioned. No condoms. No “I’m on the pill.” No “Don’t worry baby I will pull out.” which is bullshit, but still would at least show they are aware of basic biology. NOTHING!! They just keep going at it like irresponsible twits.

I find this kind of hard to believe since when they started going to pound town Tombi was actively avoiding emotional entanglements. You know what’s emotionally entangling Tombi? A baby. And syphilis. Also, you know that Annie, working with the Hoodoo Queen of Alabama since she was knee high, has seen women showing up to Grandma Tia’s for various reproductive reasons. Girlfriend should know better. Especially because they both have been sexually active before. Unless one of a shadow hunter’s particular skills is immunity to STIs, protection should have part of the sexy times. There is no reason modern characters to be sexually irresponsible. It actually pops me out of the narrative and makes the sex scenes way less sexy because you know what is not hot? Genital warts.

– The secondary characters are barely flushed out. Tombi’s twin Tallulah gets an okay amount of page time and motivation for her actions (she is also the heroine of the sequel) but all the other warriors are barely mentioned. Like we get their names and some jobs and maybe an adjective but other than being potential traitors, they are pretty much just filler.

Show Spoiler
Even when we do find out who the traitor is, it has no emotional impact at whatsoever because we have no idea who this person is or why they go dark. It’s just like, “Surprise bitches! I’m a jackass! And now I’m going to fuck all of y’all over and be an evil rapey dick.”

– Probably not a big deal for most readers, but after I put the book down and thought about it for a minute this drove me crazy. The shadow hunters spend a week camping in the woods every month. The week after the full moon is the time when the supernatural is extra frisky, so that’s when they hunt. However, these guys have jobs. One dude in the inner circle is the local sheriff. Tombi’s sister works at a museum. How do they disappear into the woods for a week once a month and still hold down their jobs? Especially the sheriff. Tombi is self-employed, so he can peace out for twelve weeks out of the year I guess. It’s never made clear how many shadow hunters there are, only that not everyone in the tribe can be one. Overall, it’s not a huge thing, but I am detail oriented and I want to know how they manage to incorporate shadow hunting into their daily lives. Do they rotate shifts? Is there a schedule!?! An age limit? What are the mechanics of fighting evil in today’s fast paced world?

I think I would give this book a B-. Even though there were quite a few things that got my dander up I was very engaged and interested in what was happening throughout the story. Also, I was being a bit more critical than usual since I’m reviewing this book. If I was reading this book just for funsies I probably wouldn’t have been as critical. So if you just want a fun fast read, if you are into paranormals that are not vampires and werewolves, and enjoy books with a firm sense of place I think this could be an enjoyable book.

cyberghostface: (Right One 2)
[personal profile] cyberghostface posting in [community profile] scans_daily

"You don't wear your strongest influences like a shirt, something you take on and off as you like. You wear those influences like your skin. For me, Ray Bradbury is that way. From the time I was twelve to the time I was twenty-two, I read every Bradbury novel and hundreds of Bradbury short stories, many of them two and three times. Teachers came and went; friends ran hot and cold; Bradbury, though, was always there, like Arthur Conan Doyle, like my bedroom, like my parents. When I ruminate about October, or ghosts, or masks, or faithful dogs, or children and their childish frightening games, every thought I have is colored by what I learned about these things from reading Ray Bradbury. One of Bradbury's most famous collections is The Illustrated Man, which features a man tattooed with a countless number of Ray's stories, a man who walks through life carrying all those stories on his back. I relate."
-- Joe Hill

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August 2016

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