cornerofmadness (cornerofmadness) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

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Book 65-66

Saint BrigSaint Brig by Ian Lewis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This short story prequel is something I picked up for free. Brig is an eighteen year old Mormon boy whose father has kicked him out of the house immediately after graduation because he found the gay literature Brig had hidden. For me, one of the more interesting details was that his mother (and sisters) castigate him for being a pervert mostly to please his father but hand him over enough money to keep him going (including his little sisters' allowances) for a month or two.

Suddenly homeless, Brig finds himself mixed in with the homeless teens with no clear idea what to do next (and sad to say, in my visit to Salt Lake City last year, there is a huge homeless population there). Gabriel, another young man tossed out for being gay takes him under his wing.

While there isn't much new here, there is a sad realism here when it comes to ultra conservative, outrightly hostile families using religion to hate on people. Brig is nice, a bit too naïve and that will cost him. It's a nice intro into the novel that follows it which I haven't read as of yet.

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Twisted Vine (Lei Crime, #5)Twisted Vine by Toby Neal

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn't like this one as much as others. Part of my problem is I've read things out of order (which was not included in my rating of this because that's my failing not the author's). There is a heavy theme to this that wasn't as fully explored as it could have been. It felt like there was way more time devoted into the romantic entanglements of Lei (our lead pov character), Sophie (we spent a lot of time in her pov) and to a lesser degree, Marcella than there was on the actual mystery.

I think that's by design judging by the afterword where in Ms Neal said this was to be the last book in her original plan (it no longer is) and she was tying up all the threads from the first four books. So the actual mystery got a bit short shrifted. More time was spent on the past mystery of Kwon's (a pedophile who assault Lei) death and other parts of Lei's past (such as her relationship with the Chang family) and on whether or not she'll quit the FBI and go back to her former and now current again lover or will he transfer out to her. A good third of the book is dedicated to that and I wasn't that interested in that part.

The actual mystery had some teeth. It revolves around 'suspicious' suicides, starting with a senator's teenaged gay son. All of the suicides seem tied into the website DyingFriends which is a forum for terminally ill people to find support. Someone is helping them get an 'early out.' It looks like they're assisting each other to commit suicide. That leaves Lei, her partner Ken and Sophie to try and find them.

There is some back and forth about whether or not this should even be investigated and I wanted a bit more of that than I got (for example gay teen vs Ken who is also gay). I think my own experiences colored my expectations here. I used to be a doctor who dealt almost exclusively with the elderly and the terminally ill. I have a serious chronic illness. I am all for ending life on my terms if living with the illness becomes too horrible because I know how bad some of them can be. To me death isn't the worst thing that can happen so my sympathies were more with the DyingFriends than it was with the law in this case (and in a way I think Lei and her partners might have been on that page).

That said, the real reason for three stars (and it was nearly 2) was the repetitious romance stuff. Why almost two stars? Without spoiling anything, there comes a point where they think they've found the person organizing the assisted suicides and it ties into Lei's past and internal affairs is involved. It's so hackneyed and such an overdone plot device that I almost stopped reading the last several chapters.

But I do like Lei and her stories. The series also scores high on the diversity scale for those who look for that. Lots of Asian and Polynesian characters which is fitting for Hawaii (unlike a certain TV show that is still milk white) and Ken is gay so there's that inclusion. It's a series I'd recommend.

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Tags: contemporary, glbt, mystery

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