• book,  Uncategorized

    The Community: Sightlines – Santino Hassell

    Chase Payne is a walking contradiction. He’s the most powerful psychic in the Community, but the least respected. He’s the son of the Community’s founder, but with his tattoo sleeves and abrasive attitude, he’s nothing like his charismatic family. No one knows what to make of him, which is how he wound up locked in a cell on the Farm yet again. But this time, the only man he’s ever loved is there too.

    Elijah Estrella was used to being the sassy sidekick who fooled around with Chase for fun. But that was before he realized the Community wasn’t the haven he’d believed in and Chase was the only person who’d ever truly tried to protect him. Now they’re surrounded by people who want to turn them against their friends, and the only way out is to pretend the brainwashing works.

    With Chase playing the role of a tyrant’s second-in-command, and Elijah acting like Chase’s mindless sex toy, they risk everything by plotting a daring escape. In the end, it’s only their psychic abilities, fueled by their growing love for each other, that will allow them to take the Community down once and for all.

    I always pictured Chase as Billy Idol, Generation X era. 


    Young Adam G. Sevani as Elijah: 


    Oh no! I wasn’t feeling the Chase-Elijah merger. I like Chase and Elijah’s being his sassy twink self but their combination wasn’t working. Now, I see why some reviewers say the same thing. The “Elijah’s in love with Holden” issue was so stupid and unconvincing that I couldn’t believe it went on for three quarters of the book despite all the declarations from both Elijah and Chase. I could understand the reluctance to express feelings but I draw the line on the willfully stubborn.

    This being book three I expected grand things, like major showdowns which I have been expecting since book one but the climactic scenes were a letdown. The rescue scenes lacked action and it seemed like the major villains had the easy way out. Again, total waste of superpowers.

    If there was anything that the book succeed in doing it’s that it painted a good picture of the nightmare that is The Farm. Torture, human experimentation, drugging and rape, these are just a few of the horrors inflicted upon helpless psychics. Which is why I would have wanted to see harsher, nastier punishments for Jasper and Richard.

    I feel conflicted. I wanted to like this but unfortunately  I was bored with the most of the story which again involved a lot of talks about things I could listen to with only half of my brain engaged and the other half playing mahjong and still not miss anything important. It lacked the chemistry of Holden and Six’s book but had, at the very least, the dry wit of Nate and Trent’s conversations. It suffered from the non-issues that could have been resolved sooner had Chase and Elijah just talked properly. It did give a nice vision at the end where everyone came together like a family. So, while I didn’t hate the book, I didn’t quite like it either.

    2.5 Stars – far from hate but not quite a like

    Soundtrack: Ill in the Head
    Artist: Dead Kennedys
    Album: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30364806-sightlines)

  • book,  Uncategorized

    The Community: Oversight – Santino Hassell

    Spoiler Alert! The following blurb contains spoilers for Insight, book one of The Community.

    Holden Payne has it all … or so he thinks. As heir to the founder of the Community—an organization that finds, protects, and manages psychics—he’s rich, powerful, and treated like royalty. But after a series of disappearances and murders rock the Community, he’s branded the fall guy for the scandal and saddled with a babysitter.

    Sixtus Rossi is a broad-shouldered, tattooed lumbersexual with a man-bun and a steely gaze. He’s also an Invulnerable—supposedly impervious to both psychic abilities and Holden’s charms. It’s a claim Holden takes as a challenge. Especially if sleeping with Six may help him learn whether the Community had more to do with the disappearances than they claimed.

    As Holden uncovers the truth, he also finds himself getting in deep with the man sent to watch him. His plan to seduce Six for information leads to a connection so intense that some of Six’s shields come crashing down. And with that comes a frightening realization: Holden has to either stand by the Community that has given him everything, or abandon his old life to protect the people he loves. 

    Last we know of Holden, he left a cut-off message on Nate’s voicemail begging for help to look for Chase. Oversight covers the aftermath of the Evolution debacle and after Nate and Trent left. Holden was assigned a handler by his father. The handler was Sixtus, a former juvenile delinquent psychic turn security guard for The Farm. Six was an Invulnerable, a psychic with an impenetrable shield, placed in the position of Holden’s babysitter as he was supposedly immune to psychic influence and seduction. Well, we all know where this is going.

    I could definitely say this is a much better book than Insight. First, there were less info-dumping and more character development. 

    On the surface, Holden seems to be a typical privileged rich man’s son but he proved to be smarter than he looks.

    As he realized the less than savory side of the CW, he struggled to reconcile what he know of The Farm and The Com and the reality of everything. Nonetheless, it was clear from the start that his heart was in the right place even if he didn’t know it until Six told him. Six was an enigma at first and 

    I didn’t know how Holden and Six’s combination would work but Holden’s a seductive little bastard and Six has a secret connection to Holden so it did, quite magnificently.

    The pacing was fast and the writing was tight. The only let down was at the rescue scenes where I felt they were talking too much it was a wonder they didn’t all get caught. That and there was not much super power action.

    With Santino Hassell dropping X-men references here and there, I am still hoping for an epic psychic vs psychic showdown. Come on, don’t waste all that cool superpowers, Santino. Jasper, the super villain did make an appearance. The dude just ooze so much evil he left a cold blast of arctic winds in his wake. I also think Greg Bordeaux knocked it again out of the park with his narration, especially that short scene with Chase. 

    Oversight was a well-written take on psychics and a vast improvement on the first book. It ended with a typical book 2 cliffhanger but has  nonetheless a nicely resolved conclusion. I think this is why people love Santino Hassell in general and The Community series in particular. Highly recommended! 

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Reflections
    Artist: Cast
    Album: All Change

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30364801-oversight)

  • book,  Uncategorized

    The Community: Insight – Santino Hassell

    Growing up the outcast in an infamous family of psychics, Nate Black never learned how to control his empath abilities. Then after five years without contact, his estranged twin turns up dead in New York City. The claim of suicide doesn’t ring true, especially when a mysterious vision tells Nate it was murder. Now his long-hated gift is his only tool to investigate.

    Hitching from his tiny Texas town, Nate is picked up by Trent, a gorgeous engineer who thrives on sarcasm and skepticism. The heat that sparks between them is instant and intense, and Nate ends up trusting Trent with his secrets—something he’s never done before. But once they arrive in the city, the secrets multiply when Nate discovers an underground supernatural community, more missing psychics, and frightening information about his own talent.

    Nate is left questioning his connection with Trent. Are their feelings real, or are they being propelled by abilities Nate didn’t realize he had? His fear of his power grows, but Nate must overcome it to find his brother’s killer and trust himself with Trent’s heart.

    My first Santino Hassell book sadly didn’t blow me away. For the most part, it felt like nothing was happening. What saved the book was the awesome voice acting and the dialogue. Hassell wrote some of the most natural sounding dialogues I have ever come across with and Greg Bordeaux did an outstanding job acting them out. It felt like I was listening to actual conversations between real people when Nate and Trent were talking. Chase’s emotional outburst was delivered in the most gut-wrenching clenched teeth delivery ever and with these, I would have gladly given the book 5 stars.

    However, there is much left to be desired. Insight is the first book of The Community series and it introduces Nate Black from the notorious Black family, all psychics and all slightly unhinged. Nate works in a liquor store where he first met Trent. The attraction was instantaneous which would have worked had this part been explained a little more. All throughout the book, Trent was just this highly intelligent supportive friend/boyfriend figure and not much else. The chemistry between him and Nate worked for me somehow but it would have been great if Trent had been more fleshed out.

    The story was part mystery, part romance and mostly paranormal thriller. Nate received visions of his brother’s death in New York and he set out to hitchhike with Trent all the way to the city. There he met the members of Theo’s band and Evolution’s staff, a club for queer psychics where he discovered The Community, an organization that supposedly takes in and assists disenfranchised psychics like his brother. Soon he noticed the suspicious and unsavory side of The Com and tried to uncover how all of these are related to Theo’s death. These parts involved a lot of talks and explanations about The Com and psychics in general and not much action so it was a bit of a drag. There were a lot of cool powers mentioned  and I was over-expecting some awesome shounen anime type battles but only a few of these powers were seen in action so meh.

    It was also easy to guess who’s who and what’s what so the big reveal was not as shocking as it’s suppose to be. However, Jasper wins as the creepiest supervillain of the series even though we haven’t met him in person yet and I can’t wait for the showdown between him and Chase (book 3 maybe?).

    I will tag this one as a case of first book syndrome and hope that Holden’s and Chase’s books fare much better.

    2.5 Stars – far from hate but not quite a like

    Soundtrack: Instant Crush
    Artist: Daft Punk feat. Julian Casablancas
    Album: Random Access Memory

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30364791-insight)