This is my very favorite S.C. Wynne book so far! It's gripping, dramatic, sad, sweet, heart wrenching, hopeful. Such a well written story of bad growiThis is my very favorite S.C. Wynne book so far! It's gripping, dramatic, sad, sweet, heart wrenching, hopeful. Such a well written story of bad growing pains, depression and even much worse problems! It made me cry, but it made me smile, too.
Warning though — be aware that it deals with tough issues like suicide and suicidal thoughts and attempts. Not easy topics by any means, but S.C. Wynne pulls the story off skillfully, beautifully. ...more
Wow. Just wow. What an exquisite start to a new series! No wonder Josh Lanyon was saying online that her fingers itch to write more about these two guWow. Just wow. What an exquisite start to a new series! No wonder Josh Lanyon was saying online that her fingers itch to write more about these two guys right away! This was such an intense reading experience — and such a rewarding one. The Mermaid Murders is a perfect mix of thrill, fear, fun and romance. I have no doubt that The Art of Murder series will become as loved as Lanyon's Adrien English Mysteries and her Holmes & Moriarity books. After all, it's written by one of the very best in this genre. Josh Lanyon has been around the block a few times and she still keeps raising the bar of brilliant writing higher and higher. Because, it's not only her talent that makes this book shine so bright — it's her obvious joy of writing and creating.
I love the way Lanyon introduces her characters to us — the rhythm of her storytelling. It’s the way she paints the picture, layer by layer — with just right amount of muted colors and dark corners, but bright, light spots here and there. In The Mermaid Murders we get to see everything from Special Agent Jason West's sharply aesthetic perspective. His art loving eyes take note of every visual detail and make the reading experience vivid and rich. I found the big picture endlessly fascinating: the possible connection between the old murders and the new crimes, the fact that there were so many suspicious players all around, and finally the fact that this was Jason's ’homecoming’ after such painfully long time.
I treasure all the tiny flashes of watery images that start in the very early stages of the story. There're beautiful lines like: ”The light had a tired, watery look to it.” These images appear surprisingly and almost immediately they’re gone again. Some of them being Jason’s observations of his surroundings and some of them being his flashbacks. Remarks like these give Jason's memories almost a dreamlike quality. And they tentatively let us know how Jason's attempts of trying to look at his past self and the murders objectively from outsider's point of view aren't as successful as he'd like them to be.
And how about a character whose scent is ”top note sandalwood, bottom note obnoxious”? Because, yeah, that's Sam Kennedy alright. Oh, he’s a tough cookie! A sweet, though cookie. I love to witness his facial expressions, body language and tone of comments through Jason’s eyes and ears. And it’s so lovely to see him falling for Jason! I’m also eager to see what happens to Kennedy's workaholic self when Jason really, truly enters his everyday life. Because Kennedy seems to be a man who knows who he is and what he wants. And I have a feeling that’s about to be shaken a bit in the future...
I adore how the dynamics between our main couple develop throughout the story. It was intriguing to witness the effects Kennedy’s unapologetic character had to everyone — and to Jason particular. These two kept me highly entertained with their delicious dialog! They both have their edges and issues, and at first they appear to be almost each other's opposites. But when the story continues it becomes clear that Kennedy can quite unexpectedly be ”a one man sensual onslaught” and that Jason turns out to be at least as stubborn as Kennedy!
One of the things I've always loved about Lanyon's writing is the charming spot-on humor. Those sarcastic, witty lines stand out well in The Mermaid Murders' tense, even terrifying situations. The extremely grim nature of the serial killer murders shed gloomy, suspicious glow on every character, and I found the combination of that suspense and Lanyon's trademark humor especially delightful in this story! It felt good to laugh out loud every so often throughout The Mermaid Murders because I seriously think that I spent more time holding my breath than breathing while reading it. Even now thinking back to the abandoned town of Rexford, its creepy lyceum and all its smells and horrific, ghastly, watery details make me gulp and gasp and forget to breath!
I also have such a soft spot for humor used in sex scenes. Heads thumping against doors or thoughts like Jason's: ”Nothing like someone nibbling on your ears or licking your nipples to distract you from your worries—not that it didn’t create its own set of uncertainties.” Ha! Oh yes! There's so much delicious humor in this story, even in the emotionally raw, almost desperate, deeply touching sex scenes. Dear sweet Jesus. Josh Lanyon sure knows how to make them powerful and beautiful and touching at the same time. These ones were hot and mind blowing and wonderful and… profound somehow. Just like the characters themselves — deeply felt. Lanyon really, truly outdid herself this time!
Sometimes we're lucky enough to experienced an unexpected, deep outburst of feeling in front of a work of art. It can be a piece of music or maybe a painting that touches us deeply and makes us cry. In that moment that specific art work quite literally touches our heart — reaches into our soul! — and makes us see something precious very clearly. Whatever that precious and meaningful is to each of us at that very moment. Josh Lanyon did that to me with this book. I’ve been crying while sitting in front of Botticelli’s La Primavera in Uffizi and I’ve been sobbing in front of Mark Rothko’s paintings in Tate Modern. And I reacted exactly the same to The Mermaid Murders. Because Josh Lanyon truly touches my soul and makes me see the world and myself in it very clearly. Her words make me pause and reflect and ponder and... understand something I didn't see before. And that is the most wonderful gift art and artist can give us....more
The Outward Side is a haunting, harrowing, touching story from one of my very favorite authors. This is something I definitely want to reread. ColtonThe Outward Side is a haunting, harrowing, touching story from one of my very favorite authors. This is something I definitely want to reread. Colton (Hansen) shows the world through the eyes of a man who sincerely wants to do the right thing, the decent thing in his life, even thought he puts himself through a lot of misery every day because of that.
The protagonist is a married man and respected minister in his community. He's also homosexual — whether he likes it or not. I can wholeheartedly recommend this, but keep in mind it's very different from Hansen's Dave Brandstetter books. One of the major themes is sex, so there's quite a bit of sex related stuff in it — which works real well in this case.
This is an extremely moving book about us humans: about our believes, about what hatred can make us do and, above all, what are the things worth sacrificing for in our lives. I really, really love how the author intertwines the descriptions of Marc's (our protagonist's) youth and his adulthood in this story. A unique, vivid, beautifully written book that tastes bitterly like life itself....more
Baby, it's Cold is a delightful holiday novella from the Comfort and Joy anthology. Josh Lanyon's holiday stories never disappoint and this one was noBaby, it's Cold is a delightful holiday novella from the Comfort and Joy anthology. Josh Lanyon's holiday stories never disappoint and this one was no exception. It's wild, funny and heart-squeezing at times. Reading the story feels a lot like watching a brilliant sitcom episode — it's extremely visual, perfectly timed, immensely entertaining with priceless dialogue that makes you laugh out loud. The "love triangle" going on in the story gives a delicious final touch to it all. I also like the fact that the title has more than one meaning, but most of all I like how cleverly Lanyon uses Jesse's cold to escalate things, to change... everything.
There are lots of stars on the cover of this novella — I can even spot 5 red ones. It must be an omen! :-) Baby, it's Cold is a perfect holiday read in December, in January, in February, in March, in April, in May, in June... well, I'm sure you see what I mean.
I finished reading Fair Play this morning and it keeps me mulling over things we bring into relationships we're part of. The principles and intentionsI finished reading Fair Play this morning and it keeps me mulling over things we bring into relationships we're part of. The principles and intentions we have, the lines we draw and those lines that are drawn for us by others. In the story many of the characters crossed lines they shouldn't have, but they did it in process of trying to protect their loved ones. This is one of the things that made the book so fascinating for me — how that change, that shift of perspective affects the way we justify someone's actions. Including our own actions.
But most of all I'm thinking about respect, trust and love and all the ingredients of true love. And that's something I don't ponder over every day — even thought I'm starting to think that maybe I should. I also enjoyed how skillfully the author had managed to knit the past and the present together in this story, with a gentle whisper of things to come in the near future.
It was intriguing to see how in the beginning of the story Elliot and Tucker mainly communicated by not communicating, while at the same time being extremely responsive to each other's body language, tone of voice and things that they left unsaid. And when the story continued how they both started putting their thoughts, their concerns into words. The dynamics between this couple has always been delicious and I'm really looking forward to what challenges the third book in the trilogy will bring to their relationship.
I loved the mature feel and the intense rhythm of the book. And once again I'm in awe of Josh Lanyon's beautiful description of nature and surroundings of Goose Island: the forest, the sea, the "liquid gold of the closing day". There were several lines like that that felt like poetry to me.
This is a book that has satisfying romance, solid mystery and layered, powerful undercurrents in it. Josh Lanyon left me thinking how the passing of time affects us, our beliefs and the way we value things in life — what are the things in life worth fighting for. And most of all, what are the things in our lives worth surrendering for.
I really liked Everything I Know — and that's saying something after it had made me feel physically ill for the first few chapters. I'm a teacher myseI really liked Everything I Know — and that's saying something after it had made me feel physically ill for the first few chapters. I'm a teacher myself and some things that happened in this story must certainly be every teacher's nightmare.
I admire the way Josh Lanyon writes his characters so real, flawed and multidimensional. Some of them behave badly, almost unforgivably so, in this story. It's human to screw up, we all do it sometime, and it's such a blessing if you find a person who's still willing to care for you and give you another chance after he has seen you in your absolute worst behavior. I always enjoy witnessing how Josh Lanyon's characters fall, get up and grow during his books.
There are lots of things that I loved about this story. I enjoyed the way the secondary characters were drawn sharp-eyed with colorful crayons. I especially loved Connor's friend and co-worker, Pip. I also adored the way Lanyon used the quote from Robert Fulghum's All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten throughout the book. I thought that reflecting the story with that quote was brilliant. All in all the story left me pondering over some fundamental things about teaching, pedagogics, education and economy.
But the main thought the book left me with is about taking chances. Maybe it's true that in the end we only regret the chances we didn't take? I wish I had as much courage as the main characters in this story have.
A sweet, romantic novella with unexpected main couple? Maybe. For me this was so much more. I highly recommend it. Only — be aware of wonder! :-)
In this much-awaited novel journalist Griff Hadley arrives to Long Island to investigate the kidnapping and disappearance of 4-year-old Brian ArlingtoIn this much-awaited novel journalist Griff Hadley arrives to Long Island to investigate the kidnapping and disappearance of 4-year-old Brian Arlington who now have been missing for twenty years. And what a brilliant mystery it turns out to be! Its twists and turns kept surprising the reader all the way to the very end of the story! And it’s almost scary how well Josh Lanyon writes the story in a way that Griff's feelings, his doubts and fears, his expectations and uncertainties, his confusion and his determination resonates so strongly with the reader.
I enjoyed hugely Griff's company and the fascinating, unique atmosphere of the beautiful Arlington estate. Lanyon’s poetical description of the Winden House and its surrondings is a lovely homage to Griff’s dear talisman, The Great Gatsby. Overall I loved the nostalgic, yet dynamic tone of this book — the story sparkles ‘old charm’ and it deals with thought-provoking themes that’ll never get old-fashioned: trust, commitment, hopes and dreams, being true to oneself.
I think I fell in love with Griff the second he parked his vintage beauty, Karmann Ghia, at the star-shaped courtyard of the Winden House the first time. He seemed so small, flawed, lonely and foreign in the middle of the overwhelming world of rich. And how unlikely match Pierce Mather, slick and powerful family lawyer, would make for him. I couldn’t help but to enjoy the tricky dynamics between these two men right from the awkward and icy first meet!
I enjoyed tremendously the pacing of this story. How we at first are allowed to slowly, deliberately observe the Arlington estate and the more or less odd and hostile family and staff members, and how the emotions raise and the speed picks up while the mystery itself gets more and more complicated. There were also so many delightful details to savour! For example I loved the enchanting color of Pierce’s eyes, his sexy suits, the scent of his spicy cologne and the things he did with his fountain pen when he was impatient or nervous.
The story made me cry at one point, but mostly it made me smile contently and to bite my nails with anticipation. Stranger on the Shore also has some of the most touching sex scenes I've ever read. They are powerful, aptly funny and wildly sexy, but also so sweet, sincere, bare and full of longing — like finding your way home at last. I’ve always found Josh Lanyon’s sex scenes the most satisfying ones in this genre. They are perfectly timed within the plot and we always learn a lot about the characters during these intimate moments. They are never about mechanics of sex, but always about unguarded, sincere thoughts and feelings.
Stranger on the Shore has great secondary characters, Pierce’s sister being one of my favorites. I also adored the fact that when the mystery finally started to unravel I myself started to remember all the small details and clues that were planned throughout the story for the reader to find — the details that only now began to make sense to me! What a cool, pleasing feeling that is! And how skillfully Josh Lanyon made it happen.
I wholeheartedly recommend Stranger on the Shore to anyone who enjoys reading quality writing. In many ways this book is a lot like its theme song Stranger on the Shore by Acker Bilk: beautiful, mysterious, soothing, even gentle and a bit melancholic, but nevertheless full of hope and joy and love. This is definitely something I'll be reading over and over again. Reading a book like this leaves my heart full of affection and thankfulness towards the person who created something this lovely. Stranger on the Shore left me with all that and with the feeling of total, complete satisfaction....more
Pretty Boy Dead was Joseph Hansen's very first mystery novel, first published in 1968 as Known Homosexual written under the name James Colton. Nine yePretty Boy Dead was Joseph Hansen's very first mystery novel, first published in 1968 as Known Homosexual written under the name James Colton. Nine years later the book re-surfaced briefly as Stranger to Himself. It's a story about a young black man Steve who's in a major crossroads in his life. He is confused, miserable and really struggling when, to top it all, his lover is murdered and he becomes the main suspect.
After reading Hansen's Dave Brandstetter series I didn't quite know what to expect from a book he wrote earlier in his career. I'm ashamed to say that I at least didn't expect to find anything this mesmerizing, this... POWERFUL. How wrong I was! Pretty Boy Dead is wonderful. Not light-and-romantic-wonderful, but heart-wrenching-and-powerful-wonderful. It's a perfect example of Hansen's masterful writing skills. It has the same honesty, humanity, wit and sharp-eyed description than made me love Hansen's Dave Brandstetter Mysteries.
The structure of the story is excellent and it has so many layers in it that I'll be pondering over this book for a long time. It'll make a great re-read, too. It has lots and lots of brilliantly, vividly drawn characters and I loved the way the mystery started to reveal itself slowly, but mercilessly.
It was extremely painful to read at times, but I couldn't help but to hopelessly fall in love with it nevertheless. (And this is actually very cool, because when you read the book you'll see that many of the characters fall in love or do other, more conscious things even though they should know better. The circumstances just kind of 'force' them to act certain way, the way they are used to act — or at least they think that there is no other way to solve the situation.)
Hansen manages to tell a story that really makes the reader mull over life. He tells about life's tragedies and joys intervened with each other, lives linked to one another and the consequences of it all. I also like the fact that there seemed to be mysteries inside mysteries. I'm not sure if this makes any sense, but I don't want to spoil anything for anyone by telling more about the story. But this I will tell: Pretty Boy Dead made me think of the different paths we choose (or, in some cases, are forced to take) when trying to survive in life. Because, somehow, this story really makes me mull over choosing.
I highly recommend this book. It truly shook me — in a good way. ...more
What a wild, fun and bold thing to do — to write an Adrien English book Choose Your Own Adventure style. When I first heard about this I thought it waWhat a wild, fun and bold thing to do — to write an Adrien English book Choose Your Own Adventure style. When I first heard about this I thought it was a great idea. An inventive idea. But only after reading the book back and forth (quite literally!) I realize in fact how brilliant and entertaining the outcome really is.
Reading Stranger Things Have Happened is lot like opening a present — or rather like opening a huge pile of presents at a surprise party thrown for you. You have absolutely no idea what you’ll find behind the wrappers! Only thing you know is that you are enjoying yourself immensely and that you are loving every whimsical surprise waiting for you. And when it’s time to choose which gift to open next… that’s when the fun really starts. And you feel giddy and humbled and in awe that Josh Lanyon has arranged this cool party for you!
So many readers love Adrien and Jake (well… Adrien, anyway) and I’m no exception. Reading this book was a wonderful way to revisit them. To get to know them all over again, with an extra spice and twist. I was astonished how the reading experience felt so much like a private game or adventure with the characters. I’ve never really read CYOA books before and somehow I didn’t expect it to have this strong effect on me. And I didn’t expect to laugh out loud so much. This book definitely makes a wonderful re-read.
Everyone who has read Josh Lanyon books knows how he delivers solid quality writing every time he releases a new book. His writing is smart, witty, intelligent, impressive, thought-provoking. Stranger Things Have Happened is all that and more. It seems to me that this book has some kind of special spark to it. Maybe it’s an extra dose of joy? A sweet feel of homecoming? A slightly wider smile on author’s face while planning all the various storylines? In any case this is a book not to be missed. It’s truly a treat. It’s delightful. It’s sexy. It’s deliciously unpredictable. And it comes with awesome illustrations.
I highly recommend it to everyone who has… oh dear. I highly recommend it to everyone! ...more
This story tastes like real life -- sweet and sour. Both main characters Ford and Dan are far from perfect. It isn't easy for them to be together, quiThis story tastes like real life -- sweet and sour. Both main characters Ford and Dan are far from perfect. It isn't easy for them to be together, quite the contrary. Life as a couple is often uncomfortable, frightening and confusing. But being separated is so much worse.
Comfort and Joy is a beautiful story with some dark undertones. I loved it all. It gave me exactly what the title promises: comfort and joy. And it'll make a wonderful re-read!...more
What a delightful, feel-good story! It was funny, romantic, smart and sensual. It left me with a wonderful laid-back, happy feeling that tells me it'lWhat a delightful, feel-good story! It was funny, romantic, smart and sensual. It left me with a wonderful laid-back, happy feeling that tells me it'll be a wonderful re-read — one of those favorite stories I keep in mind for emergencies and for the times I really want to pamper myself.
How I Met Your Father is like sweet sea breeze on your warm skin, the white sand under your bare feet and the dazzling turquoise horizon. Reading it felt like watching the orange sun dropping slowly into the ocean and thousands of stars starting to twinkle over the lullaby of waves. What more can anyone ask for?
This story lived up and beyond my wildest expectations. After reading it I felt totally wrenched and smoothened at the same time. Josh Lanyon's booksThis story lived up and beyond my wildest expectations. After reading it I felt totally wrenched and smoothened at the same time. Josh Lanyon's books always make me emotional, but rarely has he put me through as rough ride as Tim and Luke's stories "In a Dark Wood" and "The Parting Glass". I feel like I'll have to learn to breath normally all over again after all the hype, misery, relief, shock, panic and euphoria this story made me experience.
I absolutely don't want to write any spoilers, so I'll only say this: I couldn't possibly have enjoyed it more. I cried and I laughed and I highlighted so many great lines that my The Parting Glass ebook pages look alarmingly like a yellow-white-striped zebra. This was the most intense reading experience I have had for a long time — maybe never. Or at least never after Adrien and Jake.
The thing is that I'm IN AWE of Josh Lanyon's ability to mix grief and humor. Trouble and delight. Loss and hope. There is no one else who can write it quite like he can. Reading through The Parting Glass was like walking along a beach scattered with lovely sea shells. If Lanyon's sentences were those sea shells I would have my pockets and hands full of the them by now — I want to pick them, carry them home, keep them and I want to look at them and admire them knowing that whenever I do, they'll give me joy.
This story was about love, forgiveness, respect and courage — and how sometimes the most difficult task of all is to forgive ourselves, to love ourselves.
The Parting Glass will be such a wonderful re-read. And re-re-read. And re-re-re-read. And — oh well, you got the picture.
In Plain Sight is intense, even scary at times and definitely heart-wrenching to read. Josh Lanyon writes my favorite short stories and reading this pIn Plain Sight is intense, even scary at times and definitely heart-wrenching to read. Josh Lanyon writes my favorite short stories and reading this particular one felt a lot like a roller coaster ride. Or rather like a bungee jump: first the fear for the characters, then the huge adrenaline rush finally followed by euphoria.
I'm not a big fan of what-if-thinking, but In Plain Sight made me mull over the fact how seemingly small things and fleeting moments can make all the difference in life. And what about all the unexpected things that seem to happen for a reason? As always Josh Lanyon delivers a mature, smart, soulful story that made me see my own life in a slightly different light than before.
A story doesn't have to be long to be a remarkable one -- In Plain Sight is a perfect example of that. It's an excellent story written by a brilliant author. I wholeheartedly recommend it....more
Memorizing You reminded me of how precious all the small, ordinary things in everyday life are. It left me crying, yes, but after I had pondered overMemorizing You reminded me of how precious all the small, ordinary things in everyday life are. It left me crying, yes, but after I had pondered over the story and the characters for a while, I had to turn my thoughts into my own life and the things worth of memorizing in it. And I remembered details from the past that I had long-forgotten — dear, important details.
This isn't much of a review, but it's difficult to come up with higher praise than this. Thank you, Dan Skinner....more