I enjoyed this book much more than expected. So subtle and quiet and beautiful. John and his baby. John and his horse lord. Great mature romance and f...moreI enjoyed this book much more than expected. So subtle and quiet and beautiful. John and his baby. John and his horse lord. Great mature romance and father son story. I even understood where the mean ex was coming from. A pleasure. (less)
I loved Rachel Bach's Paradox series and as a result decided to pick up this new book. This refreshing urban fantasy installment, first in a series wr...moreI loved Rachel Bach's Paradox series and as a result decided to pick up this new book. This refreshing urban fantasy installment, first in a series written under her name Aaron, is filled with dangerous action and humor. I love the main characters, Julius the young, nice dragon and his side kick the tougher and more worldly mage Marci. However, the secondary characters are fantastic and make this book a well-rounded urban fantasy read: Bethesda the Broodmare, the Heartstriker's dragon's mother, and Julius' siblings, Chelsea the Enforcer, Ian the Suave and Spoiled, Cocky Justin, and of course my favorite Bob (Brohomir) the Crazy Seer.
This first book is a solid introduction to a series set in a free for all Detroit Free Zone where magic with weird, fantastical creatures and modern technically savvy dragons (with ancient traditional values) are the basis for the world-building. There is only a hint of romance with some promise in that area. I'm hooked. (less)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an excellent YA fiction read written in epistolary style. First published in 1999, this short coming-of-age novel i...moreThe Perks of Being a Wallflower is an excellent YA fiction read written in epistolary style. First published in 1999, this short coming-of-age novel is as pertinent today as it was during that time. Chbosky's narrator and main character is young fifteen-year-old Charlie whose personal isolation and awkward social skills are only rivaled by his brilliant mind. The story begins when Charlie is about to start high school and finishes at the end of his freshman year. During that one year, within 213 pages, Charlie undergoes quite a few changes, (character growth) and makes some good as well as some pretty disturbing discoveries about himself. Along the way, he makes some great friends like Patrick, Sam and a few others, but Charlie's family (parents and siblings) are also there in a meaningful way.
This is a smart read, not just a quick one. Chbosky packs in key young adult and family issues, some quite serious, in very few pages while keeping his characters young and fresh as they "discover" and process issues and ideas in their own unique way. While Charlie is the narrator through the letters he writes to "Dear Friend," all the main characters involved in Charlie's life are very well rendered. I was touched by quite a few them: Charlie, of course, Sam, Patrick and Brad, Sam, Charlie's teacher Bill (I wish all teachers were like that!), Charlie's sister and his parents. This is a highly recommended YA fiction read. If you've read it, then you know why. If you haven't, give it try!
I collected quite a few quotes:
"In the hallways, I see the girls wearing the guys' jackets, and I think about the idea of property. And I wonder if they are happy. I hope they are. I really hope they are."
"We accept the love we think we deserve."
"I just think it's bad when a boy looks at a girl and thinks that the way he sees the girl is better than the girl actually is."
"Bob said it was all about our parents not wanting to let go of their youth and how it kills them when they can't relate to something." Hah!
"[e]ven if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them."
I read this book for my Internet Book Club. Thanks to Mariana, Lili, Maria, Christine, and Yinx for the recommendation.(less)
I've read Molly O'Keefe's contemporary romances but that did not prepare me for her post-civil war historical western romance Seduced. It is not at al...moreI've read Molly O'Keefe's contemporary romances but that did not prepare me for her post-civil war historical western romance Seduced. It is not at all what I expected, it is much better. Our main characters are Southern Belle Melody Hurst and ex-soldier turned bounty hunter Cole Baywood. Melody's husband Jimmy, sister Annie, and Cole's brother Steven serve as the secondary characters in a self-contained, closed setting that keeps the high tension-fueled atmosphere going even after violence erupts and dissipates.
Melody has been to hell and back and after Jimmy is gone, she has nothing left to give of herself. Melody was a manipulative southern beauty before the war and will do whatever is necessary to secure a future for herself and her sister Annie to keep them safe. Seducing Cole is her answer. Cole can't see beyond the horror of war and everything he lost -- his family and innocence, his true self. All he sees is blood in his hands. Melanie's beauty and company remind him of who he used to be, but Cole will not settle with a woman who can't give him everything.
Gritty, that's the word that comes to mind when I think of Seduced. Melody may have been a Southern Belle in her past, but she's no wilting flower and Cole is passionate and tender but tough and not easily manipulated. The violent scenes at the beginning of this romance are not gratuitous and instead serve to anchor this romance to the historical time. The secondary characters are also explored and contribute much to the story adding to the central conflict of civil war torn lives and the developing relationship between Melody and Cole. This is a gritty, redemptive historical romance with depth of character and feeling, a big scoop of hope, and the beginning of love for our romantic couple at the end. I can't wait to read the second book in this series.(less)
This YA science fiction/fantasy novel is set in a great multiverse world where music and musical notes are incorporated as a basis for travel between...moreThis YA science fiction/fantasy novel is set in a great multiverse world where music and musical notes are incorporated as a basis for travel between parallel universes. The first book of Ericka O'Rourke's Dissonance series is also heavy on the romance. Expect a few sections with info dump here and there and predictable characterization such as the rebellious, reckless teenager with major authority issues, the love triangle, and the absent, unlikable parents. The characters, with few exceptions, are not immediately likable.
As with other YA romances I have read in the past, I wondered when and why the love happens. There is a disconnect between the sudden crush that turns into a sort of immediate obsession coming from the sixteen-year-old female protagonist, the young male protagonist's lack of awareness of her, and the relationship that develops whereby she is willing to sacrifice it all -- including family, friendships, and world -- for him, while he is willing to sacrifice all for his mother. It comes off desperate and off-balanced to say the least. I don't know how young adults will feel about the romance aspect of this book, but that's how it struck me personally.
Regardless, the premise for the world-building and the overall mystery are both very good, and for those reasons Dissonance was worth a read for me. The story ends satisfactorily, if with a bit of a cliffhanger, ready for book two of the series. (less)
Pamela Morsi is a favorite writer whose Americana historical romances I dearly love. In Mr. Right Goes Wrong, Morsi's latest contemporary romance, she...morePamela Morsi is a favorite writer whose Americana historical romances I dearly love. In Mr. Right Goes Wrong, Morsi's latest contemporary romance, she takes two people whose lives are made up of mistakes and bad choices and gives them the chance to prove to themselves and each other that change is possible.
Mazy Gulliver has been a doormat and a slave to love her entire adult life. She has chosen one wrong man after another with disastrous results. Mazy returns home with teenage son Tru to stay with her mother, determined to begin again and do right by herself and her son. Mazy's first move is to secure a job at the local bank as a loan collector working for Tad, Tru's biological father. She then visits her best friend Eli who is looking mighty fine these days. Sexual chemistry is still there between them, but Mazy is not sure Eli is for her until later when she slowly begins to believe that Eli may be her Mr. Right.
Eli Latham is the guy next door. He is sweet, nice and dependable and not Mazy's type, except when it comes to sex. Mazy is back in town and Eli's heart can't help but hope, but she is working with Tad the Cad -- does Mazy plan to get back with Tad? Eli still loves Mazy and comes to the conclusion that if she is looking for a new jerk in her life then he, Eli, is going to be her Mr. Wrong.
Morsi's Mr. Right Goes Wrong is both a romance and a personal road to wellness that encompasses both main characters, with Mazy the type of female protagonist that many readers may not like right off the bat. She has gone from one relationship to another, dragging her son Tru along the way. For a large portion of the novel as Mazy attempts to make sense of her life, she slowly turns a corner in her job but is still the clueless doormat I mention above in her newly minted relationship with Eli. She is downright pathetic at times and I admit to gnashing my teeth throughout many scenes. In Morsi's hands, however, there are reasons behind Mazy's actions as well as character growth and a good payoff at the end.
Of the two, Eli may be the most "sympathetic," at least initially. He's a fine, responsible man who loves Mazy unconditionally. Eli is also one of the most beta male characters I've encountered in a while -- caring, giving, and seriously laid back. But in his quest to win Mazy, Eli becomes as judgmental as the rest of those people he hated for hurting Mazy and goes too far. As he goes down the "beta to hard ass" road, Morsi brings Eli's character full circle and he makes a few personal discoveries of his own, not all them comfortable or pleasant.
Morsi excels at incorporating secondary characters from a small town and making their roles count. So we have tertiary characters that make an impact, as well as secondary characters such as Tru, -- a great character by the way and the love of Mazy's life -- Tad the Cad, Mazy's mother, and Eli's family. As a secondary storyline, Morsi successfully adds depth to this story by focusing on Tru's budding relationship with his biological father as well as on the relationship he develops with Eli.
In Mr. Right Goes Wrong, I find that the characters' journeys to personal wellness and happiness are interesting but equally frustrating. Morsi, however, has a talent for creating down to earth characters with depth and infusing subtle humor in her stories even when the issues they confront are complex. I recommend this romance to readers who appreciate Morsi’s writing style and enjoy a well earned happy ever after. (less)
World of Trouble is the conclusion, and the most personal and passionate installment, of Ben H. Winters' pre-apocalyptic mystery trilogy The Last Poli...moreWorld of Trouble is the conclusion, and the most personal and passionate installment, of Ben H. Winters' pre-apocalyptic mystery trilogy The Last Policeman.
"And I won't let go and I can't let go I won't let go and I can't let go I won't let go and I can't let go no more" ---Bob Dylan, "Solid Rock"
There are fourteen days left before Maia, the asteroid known as 2011GV₁, collides with Earth on October 3rd. Chaos and fear reign as some people panic, losing control, while others brace for the worst and hope for the best. Some are barricaded in basements or holes in the ground, last minute suicides abound, and yet others kill and hoard goods in order to survive whatever may come. Money is worthless, but water, food, gasoline, and guns, are priceless.
Detective Hank Palace gave up the relative safety of Police House in Massachusetts to search for his sister Nico. Hank last saw her in July after she saved his life. He can't forgive himself for letting her go with a dangerously radical group and not keeping his promise to keep her safe. Hank's search takes him on a road trip to a deserted police station in Ohio where he finds evidence of a brutal crime and Nico's presence. As the countdown to October 3rd begins, it leaves him little time and desperate to solve one last, very personal, case.
The focus and attention to detail makes World of Trouble an outstanding mystery read. I don't want to spoil the mystery by summarizing the entire story, but I will give you this much, World of Trouble is not a stand alone and it is imperative that Countdown City be read beforehand as details from that novel become key to Hank's search for Nico and to solving a final case filled with twists and unexpected turns. However, as in the first two books of this trilogy, Hank Palace's character is the real draw.
With the imminent destruction of the world at their doorstep, to most friends and the people Hank encounters throughout his investigation, he appears as nothing more than a quixotic character wasting his time. But we all know that Hank cares deeply, and that gathering information, getting the answers, and solving the mystery, also allow him to process fear, grief, loses, brief periods of joy and an acceptance that serves as a respite from the chaos surrounding him.
Winters achieves this marvelous characterization by personalizing Hank's cases throughout the trilogy and tightly weaving them with his well established pre-apocalyptic world building. In a World of Trouble, Winters combines the tight timeline with Hank's strict methodology and his emotional investment in the case to build and maintain a thrum of tension felt throughout the whole installment.
How far would you go to protect a loved one? And how would you choose to spend your last days on Earth? The answers to those questions represent the final central theme for World of Trouble through Hank's search for his sister, and as the end approaches, through his experiences with other characters, and to the fantastic end of this trilogy.
The Last Policeman trilogy is an excellent fusion of science fiction and mystery. Its effectiveness is derived from Ben H. Winters' creation of a pseudo contemporary setting that gives the overall story arc plausibility, and a central character that comes to symbolize human civilization by asking the tough questions even at the end of times. Highly recommended. (less)
This is a reread. I had forgotten what a joyful, fun story Harry/Harriet's romance with Jem Strange turns out to be, as well as how passionate. I love...moreThis is a reread. I had forgotten what a joyful, fun story Harry/Harriet's romance with Jem Strange turns out to be, as well as how passionate. I love Villiers period, but I love that his secondary role in this novel is meaningful without the necessity of his playing the fool or the villain. Definitely one of my favorite, and best, books of the series. (less)
This is a double hurt/comfort book with tons of angst. A war veteran suffering from an incurable decease and PTSD comes home and moves in with his sis...moreThis is a double hurt/comfort book with tons of angst. A war veteran suffering from an incurable decease and PTSD comes home and moves in with his sister-in-law's brother, a man who suffers from severe epilepsy and is monitored by his trained dog. The two men find solace in each other, with the dog becoming a bonus both to the relationship and the story. This is a well written, multiple tissue read with some surprisingly deep issues and a slew of emotionally draining moments. Only Love is my first book by Garrett Leigh, but it won't be my last.(less)
Great premise, but an oddly executed romance where the female protagonist's dead husband gets almost more page time than the hero of the piece.
Whatev...moreGreat premise, but an oddly executed romance where the female protagonist's dead husband gets almost more page time than the hero of the piece.
Whatever it is that Hannah feels for Nolan -- lust, attraction, admiration -- her life, her thoughts, even her new relationship revolve around her "husband" Caleb. And she and everyone else, including Nolan, think of Hannah as "Caleb's wife." She cares more about what her dead husband's family think about her new relationship than her feelings for Nolan or Nolan's feelings for her -- a man who loves her deeply and passionately and waited for her for five years. This is a frustrating read, where even at the end I was not convinced that after 7 years of grieving, Hannah was ready for a new man in her life.
Force does a great job with sexual tension and build-up between Nolan and Hannah and I enjoyed them for the most part with the exception of their first time in the bedroom which turned out to be a big disappointment for me. A great addition to this romance, the Abbott family and townspeople helped me get through this odd romance. (less)
Butcher's Road is an atmospheric mystery thriller with supernatural elements, set in the violent 1932 gangster-ruled streets of Chicago and the spirit...moreButcher's Road is an atmospheric mystery thriller with supernatural elements, set in the violent 1932 gangster-ruled streets of Chicago and the spiritual world of a rainy New Orleans.
The story revolves around Butch Cardinal whose lifetime decisions led him from success on the wrestling mats to working as enforcer and errand boy for a Chicago Irish mobster. Unfortunately for Butch, he is sent to pick up a package from an Impellitari henchman and ends up smack in the middle of a hit. Butch escapes with the package and is framed for the murder, becoming a haunted man and the target of Italian Chicago mob-boss Marco Impellitari, dirty Chicago cops, a psychopath hit man, and the Alchemi, a secret organization of powerful magicians who collect, utilize, and protect arcane artifacts composed of "thinking" steel. With help from friend and ex-coach Rory Sullivan, Butch flees to New Orleans where he discovers that the ugly necklace in the package is an old mythical relic, and unexpectedly finds refuge in the arms of ex-wrestler and club owner Hollis Rossington.
Butcher's Road has been described as a "blend of gangster noir and supernatural horror." I agree. The story is dark. Lee Thomas incorporates the deep sense of hopelessness permeating the 1930's into plot, characterization, and atmosphere. His Chicago gangsters are unsophisticated, non-charismatic and resort to bloody violence without a second thought, and neither gangsters nor cops are glamorized in this novel. This is best exemplified by Thomas's characterization of Detective Curt Conrad whose portrayal as a physically and personally repulsive self-serving man without an iota of scruples symbolizes the police department's corruption in all its glory. Contrasting heavily is Thomas’s subtle characterization of Detective Lennon as an ambivalent man whose bouts of conscience make him a no-less self-serving or corrupt cop.
The supernatural aspects of the story are well established. Serving as an introduction to this theme, Thomas utilizes Butch's search for the truth surrounding the object he unwittingly possesses, leading to the discovery of magical objects and personal mystical powers, while further expanding on this theme with more explicit, if somewhat obscure, revelations through the Alchemi's hot pursuit and eventual contact with Butch.
While the occult plays a key, central role throughout and to end of this thriller, for me, it is Thomas' masterful portrayal of the incremental escalation and eventual loss of control of psychopathic killer Paul Rabin that provides the real horror. Rabin's role begins with a whisper in what seems like an innocuous scene, slowly progressing with coldly executed blood-letting, and escalating until all that is left are the amped-up internal screams of an out-of-control killer and the horror-filled vicious scenes he leaves behind.
Thomas portrays Butch as an honest man who never learns to play the "game" and whose harsh life lessons, beginning with an abusive father and ending with a fixed match that led to his present situation, taught him not to expect a fair fight. The odds are against Butch's survival and he becomes resigned to losing, but what I love most about him is his refusal to go down without a fight. His relationship with Hollis is unexpected, specifically because Butch is initially shocked by proof of Hollis's sexuality and tells him so with frankness. However while hiding at Hollis's home, Butch remembers past experiences that trigger a growing sexual attraction for Hollis, a giving man he already likes and respects. Eventually Butch makes the first move, beginning what becomes a peaceful, joyful period for both men.
Butcher's Road by Lee Thomas has a relentless quick-pace with the few moments of allowed reprieve filled with relevant information used to drive the story forward. It is an exciting thriller -- darkly violent and bloody -- that offers highly effective contrasts between warm and horrifyingly chilling moments and a surprising twist at the end. Highly recommended. Grade A-