Among the many authors in the M/M genre, both seasoned and new, Heidi Cullinan stands out for the sheer quality of her prose, the deep understanding
Among the many authors in the M/M genre, both seasoned and new, Heidi Cullinan stands out for the sheer quality of her prose, the deep understanding of her characters and the subtle sense of humor that permeates her every page. All these defining characteristics were present in Cullinan’s earliest work, but as she matures, they become more pronounced and each of her books brings forth a new surprise.
I must confess that I adored the previous two books in this series. For me, they’re a sure sign that Christmas is coming in its full romantic shine. I love romance as much as the next person, but there’s something so special about holiday stories, and especially those that take place around Christmas. After all, we all dream about our very own Christmas miracles and we love to witness them happening to others, fictional or otherwise.
Paul Jansen and Kyle Parks make a very odd pair, but that’s usually true for Heidi’s boys. We remember Paul from the previous two books and we remember that he was not our favorite. But as we learn more about him, some of his past actions become more understandable, if not entirely justified. Paul may seem like a bear on the outside, but he is a delicate, vulnerable, soft-hearted man on the inside. In fact, both of these men crush stereotypes left and right, which is precisely the sort of thing I appreciate. Being Christmas-themed, these books are a bit lighter than Heidi’s usual work, but the overall tone, the characters and everything else can only be described as perfect for the holidays.
Winter Wonderland is a fairly quick read, but that only makes it all the more appealing. It’s easy to reread in winter months and it basically guarantees the same level of delight each time you decide to pick it up. All three books have made it to my ‘comfort reread’ list were they’re sure to stay for many years to come. ...more
For your average romance reader, a Mary Calmes book is better than cupcakes, better than tropical beaches, better than crack. There’s just something
For your average romance reader, a Mary Calmes book is better than cupcakes, better than tropical beaches, better than crack. There’s just something about the strength of devotion between her characters that captivates right on the first page. Her characters are always more than a bit eccentric, some are even a bit unhinged, but they are all magnetic and irresistible, for readers and their romantic interests both. I’ve been a fan of Mary’s books for years, and although she keeps producing the same type of romance over and over again, my idea of heaven remains one Mary Calmes book per day.
Fit to be Tied is the second in her Marshals series, loosely connected to her Matter of Time series. We rejoin Miro and Ian, partners at work and partners in life, several months after they finally acknowledged their love for each other. Things are going well for them and they love each other desperately, but while Miro is all in, Ian refuses to get married. This part of the book was very painful for me. The desperate love these two share was obvious on every page, but I kept imagining Miro down on one knee, being turned down by the love of his life. Ian had his reasons and they were valid ones, but the hurt was unbearably strong at times.
Professionally, things are going well for them both. Their newly promoted boss, our very own Sam Kage (SAM!), knows precisely how to handle them. When a serial killer escapes from a maximum security prison, a psychopath determined to hurt his arresting officer Miro Jones, Sam comes up with a plan that should keep both Ian and Miro safe.
The best thing is that even when they strongly disagree, Miro and Ian never fail to acknowledge the fact that they can’t and won’t live without each other. They need one another more than they need their next breath and they are extremely vocal about it. They are both frighteningly possessive, but instead of being overwhelming and psychotic, their connection and possessiveness just work.
As far as I’m concerned, the next book by Mary Calmes can’t come soon enough. Her plots are generally outlandish and her characters are always just a tiny bit crazy, but that’s precisely why we love them. In Mary’s case, reviews can’t convince anyone of the appeal… it’s something everyone has to experience for themselves. ...more
Wow. Just wow. This may very well be my favorite book by Renae Kaye, and we’re talking about the person who wrote Loving Jay, Shearing Gun,
Wow. Just wow. This may very well be my favorite book by Renae Kaye, and we’re talking about the person who wrote Loving Jay, Shearing Gun, and Blinding Light, the first book in this series. All of these books are my favorites so to have her actually exceed my very high expectations is an unusual thing indeed.
We first met Davo in Blinding Light as Jake’s best friend, but although he was there with a decent advice when one was needed the most, he didn’t get much chance to shine. But even if he were given more time, Davo simply isn’t a character that shines at first (or even third) sight. He seems pretty ordinary on the surface, but deep underneath is a complex and truly stupendous character.
When Davo meets Lee in his favorite bar, he is surprised by how much he likes the gorgeous and entertaining woman. Yes, you read that right – woman. He is also insanely attracted to her, which is a first for him, and more than ready to succumb to his desires. The first time can be written off as a fluke caused by alcohol, but the second and the third are really mind-boggling. However, Lee isn’t actually a woman at all, he is just a petite gay man who occasionally dresses like a woman. Not transgender at all, but a cross-dresser on rare occasions. A wonderful, confident, intelligent man with a strong sense of self and a desire to help others.
For Davo, who’s been bullied into believing that everything typically “girlie” is inherently wrong, this development is even worse than falling for a woman. He likes men, but he likes his men safe and manly, not small, delicate and feminine. The idea of a man dressed as a woman, a man so obviously gay even when he’s in his regular clothes, terrifies him to no end. Luckily, he’s not left to figure it out alone. Patrick and Jake from Blinding Light and their lovely little daughter are very much present in this book and always there with a decent advice. And when all else fails, he has his trusted Magic 8 Ball to help him decide his fate.
Once again, Kaye explores things like gender fluidity, prejudice and bullying in her very recognizable subtle way. She always finds ways to shine light on a truly important issue without letting it overtake her story. This wasn’t the first time that she gently introduced gender nonconformity with her characters, but it was certainly more pronounced and the points were made strongly, but tastefully.
Renae Kaye is an author I admire greatly, not only because she writes all my favorite romances, but because she always shows such tact and consideration while doing it. You’re the Reason may be my personal favorite, but objectively, it’s another in a long string of successes by the author who has nothing left to prove.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review....more
Could I leave just that in lieu of my review? Because in this unique case, it might just be enough. Ridiculous. And sort of wonder3.5 stars Ridiculous.
Could I leave just that in lieu of my review? Because in this unique case, it might just be enough. Ridiculous. And sort of wonderful, but that goes without saying – after all, we’re dealing with Janet Evanovich, the uncrowned queen of wicked humor and insane sexual tension.
We rejoin our heroes as they continue their search for Seven Stones of Power. The stones reflect seven deadly sins, and with two found in the previous books, it is now time to find the stone of avarice. Lizzy and Diesel are Unmentionables, people with special powers, and although he’s far more experienced (in more ways than one, ahem), Diesel doesn’t stand a chance of finding the stones without Lizzy, who can sense their proximity and authenticity.
The plot is much stronger in Wicked Charms than in the previous two books, but it’s still a far cry from a structured, serious novel. After all, only Janet Evanovich could combine wannabe medieval knights, wannabe pirates, wannabe witches and one very rude monkey into something even close to coherent. Although it’s better plotted, this is still very much reminiscent of Looney Tunes and all the characters are just spectacularly silly. Ridiculous, I tell you.
The sexual tension in this book is insane! We’ve been waiting so long to see Lizzy and Diesel together, but one or both of them could lose their powers if they ever get together. Diesel himself is charming and hilarious, but I find myself even more attracted to his evil cousin and their nemesis Wulf. Everyone loves a bad boy, right?
Aside from his name on the cover, I didn’t notice any differences now that Phoef Sutton joined as co-author, which means that he did so quite seamlessly. I’m not sure how much he’s contributing at this point, but he got the overall tone of Janet’s writing perfectly. And now that he’s here, maybe we won’t have to wait three years for the next book. That last paragraph left me screaming for more.
If you’re looking for something to brighten up your day, you can’t possibly go wrong with one of Janet’s books, and especially not with this series. As long as you don’t expect anything even remotely serious, you’ll find yourself enjoying every word. Also, laughing like a lunatic is good for your abs, soldier. Go for it.
”Why can’t you save the world by yourself?” I asked Diesel. “Why do I have to go along?” “You have to do your touchy-feely thing. I’m big and strong and smokin’ hot, but I’m not touchy-feely.” This was all true.
“And I think he was taking pictures of us,” I said to the guard. “Up our skirts.” “You’re wearing jeans,” the guard said. “So we outsmarted him!” I said.
“I’m willing to trade this unpleasant monkey for the pieces of eight you’ve acquired and a small service from Ms. Tucker.” “Get serious,” Diesel said. “Keep the monkey.”
There are days when I need a serious book, days when I need to read something relaxing, and days when I need to be shaken to my very core. There are bThere are days when I need a serious book, days when I need to read something relaxing, and days when I need to be shaken to my very core. There are books that are appropriate for each of those days, but only one I can think of that’s appropriate for all of them. From a reader’s point of view, Shattered Glass is a dream come true.
Austin Glass is a vice detective, a trust fund baby and an aspiring FBI agent. He is young, successful, competent, instantly likeable and engaged to a gorgeous, intelligent woman. But there’s one thing Austin Glass isn’t – he most certainly is not gay. So then why can’t he stop obsessing about a gorgeous busboy in bunny slippers? Why can’t he get those darn bunny slippers out of his head? If only he could buy the man some shoes, something safe and unattractive like loafers – all his problems would surely disappear.
“I'm not gay.” That wasn't what I meant to say. “Congratulations. Would you like a medal?” Bunny Slippers asked. “I already have a medal. For bravery, not for being gay. I think you made me gay.” “I made you gay?” He set down the napkin he was holding. “Is that better or worse than the person who made you stupid?”
Peter, or Bunny Slippers if you prefer, is a study in contradictions. He is rude, but has an obvious vulnerable side. He is a (former) prostitute, but he has very high standards. He gave up on his education, but he is astonishingly smart. He used to sell drugs, but he cares for his younger brothers with everything he has. Needless to say, Austin is enchanted. Gay or not, staying away from Peter becomes impossible overnight. Dating a former male prostitute isn’t the smartest thing you can do when you’re a vice detective, but Austin will give it his best nevertheless. Turning his life upside down is a small price to pay to get Bunny Slippers in his bed. And when it turns out that Bunny Slippers comes with a whole lot of baggage – baggage that shoots to kill more often than not – Austin still chooses to go ahead with it. He just laughs it off and marches bravely ahead. Peter is not so easy to convince. While Austin jumps in without regard for his life or career, Peter is far too careful to trust a spoiled rich boy. But Austin’s charm is impossible to resist for too long and pretty soon their lives, and Austin’s investigation, become a huge tangled mess.
"Is he my competition?" “Everyone is your competition.” Peter lifted his hand to his eyes and began lowering it incrementally. “It goes normal human beings, crazies, republicans, my hand, imaginary characters, corpses and then, in a moment of lustful psychosis, you.”By the time he was done, his hand was below the table. Ouch. “A little over the top, don’t you think?” “No.”
If it isn’t clear from the previous two quotes, here is it: Shattered Glass is hilarious. With chapter titles like Dear God, I’ll Take That Lobotomy Now. Thanks, Austin. and How to Win Friends and Alienate Albanian Table-lovers , I promise you you’ll laugh until you drop. What makes the book truly stand out, however, is Austin’s voice. He is one of the most honest, refreshing characters I’ve ever stumbled upon. Upon meeting Peter, his life is turned upside down. Although he does things that aren’t exactly honorable, he is always wonderfully upfront and honest about them. So honest, in fact, that even his (ex) fiancè can’t stay mad for too long.
The mystery part of this story requires some suspension of disbelief, but trust me when I tell you, you won’t care one bit. You’ll fall in love with Austin on page two and fall head over heels for Peter not long after. Once you meet Cai, it’s pretty much a done deal – you’ll want to stay with this gang forever.
Finally, let me say this. I’ve read this book first, and enjoyed it on audio just a few months later. As far as I’m concerned, audio is by far the best way to go. From what I can tell, this is the only book Joseph Northton has narrated so far, which is undoubtedly a tragedy. Austin’s voice is delightful and hilarious all on its own, but Northton added an extra layer of humor with his spectacular narration, turning this into a book I couldn’t listen to while driving because I was laughing too darn hard. You try driving while constantly laughing to tears. If you’re an audioobok fan, definitely go with that, but any format works. Not reading this, however, is simply not an option.
If I had to compare Austin with another character, I’d say he’s the male Charley Davidson, minus the paranormal element. He is just so incredibly funny and honest, he reminded me of Charley right from the start. So if you like Charley, read this. And if you don’t, read it anyway. Really. Preferably now.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is the most adorable book in the history of books ever. (Seriously, my heart is currently a puddle on the f4.5 stars
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is the most adorable book in the history of books ever. (Seriously, my heart is currently a puddle on the floor.) But this book is much more than just quirky and cute, it is also necessary, very important even, because it (finally) brings much needed diversity into YA fiction. In the sub(sub)genre we usually refer to as coming-of-age contemporary fiction, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda shines like the brightest star.
Simon is just a regular, smart boy from a regular, loving family. He leads a regular life and has regular friends, he participates in regular activities and likes all the regular things. He also happens to be gay. Simon has yet to reveal that secret to anyone. He doesn’t fear that his family will reject him, he doesn’t think his friends will turn on him, but it’s still a pretty big secret to keep and he simply doesn’t feel ready to share. It’s the first thing I liked about this book, it approached the process of coming out as exactly that, a process which everyone should approach at their own pace, even when there’s no danger of being ostracized for it. Being emotionally mature enough to handle declaring yourself different from most people isn’t something we all reach at the same time, and seeing Simon’s process was both endearing and exhilarating.
Realistic male voices are still far too rare in Young Adult fiction. It’s not often that we get someone like Simon, such an authentic character, completely true to life. The geekiness, the awkwardness, the adoration of Harry Potter bring us closer to this boy who is perhaps a bit different, but paradoxically same as everybody else. Other characters were just as fleshed out, which made it easy for Albertalli to take us straight to Simon’s world and make us live that exciting time right alongside him.
"White shouldn’t be the default any more than straight should be the default. There shouldn’t even be a default."
The pacing was admittedly a bit of an issue, especially around the middle where the story dragged and felt somewhat empty, but overall it’s a minor flaw that can easily be overlooked. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a story you need to read and recommend if you haven’t already. It will warm your heart in the best way possible.
I hope we’ll get more from Albertalli soon. Judging by her debut, we’re in for a treat.
Fortunately for us, Gail Carriger’s sense of humor seems to be as strong and sharp as ever as she keeps providing us with endless entertainment in thiFortunately for us, Gail Carriger’s sense of humor seems to be as strong and sharp as ever as she keeps providing us with endless entertainment in this well-developed world. Waltzing with a bladed fan and using longing looks to seduce unsuspecting young evil geniuses are just some of the things our Sophronia has become quite skilled at in her years at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.
The cast of characters is still as colorful as ever, although it sometimes borders on ridiculous. I’ve come to adore Sophronia and her friends, as well as her professors at the Finishing Academy, but her family was just a bit too much. At one point, Sophronia’s mother tried to marry her off to 14-year-old Pillover, and her slightly older sister Petunia was just ridiculously stupid and vain.
We learn more about Sidheag in this installment since the main plotline focuses mostly on the troubles of her pack in Scotland. Sidheag is quite possibly the only serious, dignified character in this series which makes her all the more interesting. We know some of this story from the Parasol Protectorate series, but it was interesting to see it all from a different perspective.
For a smart girl, Sophronia is still quite clueless when it comes to matters of the heart. The odd love triangle she has found herself in takes up a large portion of the book, but nothing about it is satisfactory or even handled correctly. Torn between a Duke’s (and Pickleman’s!) son and a sootie (even one as wonderful and loyal as Soap), Sophronia is oftentimes annoyingly oblivious. She has a tendency to stick her head in the sand when it suits her and instead of being endearing like it was at first, I found it all to be very exasperating.
Waistcoats & Weaponry isn’t quite as good as the previous book, but it’s a worthy addition to the series. I’ll be happy to join Sophronia on her next adventure and I have faith that Carriger will find a way to make everything work in the romance department, no matter how impossible it may seem.
Note: My review is for the entire trilogy (The Two Gentlmen of Altona, Merchant of Death, Tempest). These books are compulsively readable and fairly sNote: My review is for the entire trilogy (The Two Gentlmen of Altona, Merchant of Death, Tempest). These books are compulsively readable and fairly short, you’ll want to read them all at once anyway.
Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock, the lovely ladies who co-authored this trilogy, usually write dark, deeply emotional books that focus on abuse and many other extremely difficult topics. Lisa Henry especially is known for exploring the darkest side of human nature. That’s why Playing the Fool came as such a surprise – it’s everything we never expected to read from these authors, but it’s also exactly what some of us wanted.
That’s not to say that this trilogy is all fun and games. The events have significant weight, especially when it comes to Henry’s past, but the way they are presented simply closes to door and doesn’t allow any angst to sneak in. While some of the plot may be difficult, the approach is pretty lighthearted, albeit in a respectful way. They never make light of the issues presented and they bring us some very emotional moments, but they answer to most things with a healthy dose of humor and they simply refuse to wallow in angst.
Our two protagonists in Playing the Fool are like oil and water – one is an FBI agent, and the other a con man and a former prostitute. Henry, the hustler, happens to be a witness in Mac’s case and Mac is supposed to protect him, but Henry’s self-preservation instinct keeps pushing him in a different direction, away from the law and definitely away from Mac.
They are wildly attracted to each other from the start, but they are also entangled in a never-ending game of one-upmanship. Neither actually trusts the other and neither is particularly trustworthy. They dance around each other and deny their feelings, but they can only do that for so long before one of them breaks.
Although frustrating at times, their weird dance is simply hilarious. I loved their easy banter and their push-and-pull relationship. I love that they ultimately knew to turn to each other and that they helped each other even when common sense told them not to. I also loved the fact that Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock took the time to build fabulous secondary characters, even though some of them broke my heart.
For me, the trilogy lost some steam in the second installment, but the slower progression was necessary to give us time to learn more about Henry and understand his attraction to Mac. It picked right up in the third book and became more exciting than ever. As a whole, this trilogy is slightly ridiculous, endlessly funny and perfect for a few rainy afternoons.
This being the seventh installment in the Charley Davidson series, there really isn’t much left to say that hasn’t been said already. Fans of the seriThis being the seventh installment in the Charley Davidson series, there really isn’t much left to say that hasn’t been said already. Fans of the series already know what they’re signing up for, and those of you who have yet to meet Charley and Reyes… who are you and what are you even doing here, folks?
When First Grave on the Left (or Right, I can never remember that) first came out, I didn’t think Darynda’s wonderful sense of humor would last. Sometimes things that are funny in the beginning end getting old and exhausting pretty darn fast. And yet here we are, seven books later, and the Charley Davidson books are still just as fresh, just as entertaining as they were when her story started. What’s more, the more we know these characters, the longer they are a constant in our lives, the more we crave their company and the laughs they inevitably bring.
While Seventh Grave isn’t my favorite of the series, Darynda gave us exactly what we’ve learned to expect: hilarious Charley at her best and at her worst, a marvelous set of secondary characters, multiple plotlines to follow and Reyes to swoon over. Honestly, what more can a reader possibly need?
In Seventh Grave, Charley, Reyes and their many ridiculous sidekicks prepare to fight the Twelve, twelve hellhounds sent after Charley by some yet undiscovered foe. Scared for Charley and the treasure she carries around with her, Reyes decides to follow her every step and ensure her safety himself. Now really, does that sound like something Charley would endure quietly? No. No, it doesn’t.
So Charley is busy dodging Reyes’s constant attention, solving a multiple murder case for the FBI, trying to find her missing father, dealing with a dead former BFF, messing with other people’s love lives and keeping a goldfish alive. In other words, it’s just another day at Davidson Investigations.
Seventh Grave leaves quite a few things open, which is understandable now that we’re finally getting the big picture. Darynda is uncovering the overall story arc slowly and skillfully, with a fabulous sense of timing. Eighth Grave After Dark will inevitably bring more changes for the gang, but we’ll have to wait until May 19th to learn what they are.
Apparently, not even saving the world from apocalypse has earned our Nick a bit of rest and relaxation. On the contrary, just days after sealing the pApparently, not even saving the world from apocalypse has earned our Nick a bit of rest and relaxation. On the contrary, just days after sealing the portal with Caleb, Nick faces yet another danger of the supernatural variety and as always, he is the last one to catch up and see it coming.
Chronicles of Nick has been my go-to series when I want something well written, light and ridiculously entertaining. Sherrilyn Kenyon’s wonderful sense of humor remains this series’ strong point, but as the story progresses, more and more good things are piling up. The characters are becoming incredibly well defined, even minor ones, and Nick is still honest and kind, but seeing him experience disappointment and betrayal without becoming bitter or cynical is a true delight.
The most fascinating thing, however, is the progression of Nick’s relationship with Kody, from tentative friendship and half-truths to something steady, mature and completely reliable. Nick was really just a boy when the series started, but now he is an admirable young man, which is evident from all his relationship and especially his loyalty to Kody. His trust has even more weight when we take into account the simple fact that everyone lied to him at some point. No one, not a single person around him was completely honest and he just keeps uncovering more lies as he goes. But Nick always trusts, always loves, and his inherent goodness somehow brings out the best in everyone else.
The plot showed significant improvement over the last book. Kenyon brings in more mythology in each book, but things were pretty straightforward this time and I didn’t struggle to keep up like I did with alternate dimensions. The secondary characters were absolutely delightful as well, especially Simi with her barbecue sauce and threats to eat anyone who’s a danger to Nick.
Even with six books behind us, I haven’t once regretted jumping into this series. It’s not to be taken too seriously, but the humor is amazing and the characters are my old friends by now. I hope Sherrilyn has a lot more books planned. As long as she keeps writing, I’ll keep reading.
By now, those of you who read my blog regularly probably know that I tend to avoid paranormal romance whenever I can. I have friends who are huge fansBy now, those of you who read my blog regularly probably know that I tend to avoid paranormal romance whenever I can. I have friends who are huge fans of the genre and I respect that, but quite frankly, the whole growling-alpha-male-swooning-female combo gives me severe allergies. However, there’s something about this series that appealed to me from the very beginning, and after all the fun I’d had while reading the first book, picking up this one was a very easy decision to make.
The friendships in this book are simply extraordinary, They are so strong and lovely and they easily prevent the romance from taking over. Like Liv before her, our Stacey has magical powers, albeit of a different variety. While Liv brings inanimate objects to life, Stacey makes potions – powerful ones at that – and sells them to help pay the bills. Peach is the only one with no magic whatsoever, but she is special in so many other ways that it doesn’t really matter. These three girls support each other through everything, so when Leo comes back into town and things go terribly wrong for Stacey, Peach and Liv are all the help she could ever really need.
The dreaded growling Alpha male, J.R. Ward-style, is fortunately absent from this book. Instead, we have Leo, a flawed-but-lovable ex-lover, ex-cheater and ex-priest, all rolled into one. Leo and our heroine Stacey have far too much history between them, and even years later, Stacey is still hiding a shattered heart. I have to admit I wasn’t Leo’s biggest fan at first, nor was I meant to be. After all, he cheated on Stacey while in college, broke her heart when he admitted it and then ran off to become a priest. I have no sympathy for cheaters, even nine years later and even when they so obviously still suffer the consequences, but it is a testament to Lucy March’s skill that I did forgive him in the end.
I thoroughly enjoyed the villain in this book too, even though I saw him coming from a mile away. I loved how the entire situation was handled and I was (reluctantly) impressed by the obstacles he put in Stacey and Leo's way. There’s nothing I love more than a truly devious villain and fortunately for me, Lucy March really knows how to create one.
Recommended by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Crusie and Darynda Jones, the Nodaway Falls series is a witty, funny treat, with a perfect magic to romance ratio. It is a true comfort read, enjoyable and sweet. I highly recommend it.
A quick note: I firmly believe in separating the book from its author. Once the book is published, it belongs to itself, to other texts, and to the reA quick note: I firmly believe in separating the book from its author. Once the book is published, it belongs to itself, to other texts, and to the readers, not to the person who wrote it. However, the fact that I moderately enjoyed this book months before the whole stalking debacle does NOT mean that I condone the author's behavior. In fact, I am thoroughly disgusted by the whole sordid affair. I'll leave my original review intact because frankly, it's not the book's fault. But I will never again read or in any way support anything written by Kathleen Hale. As a reviewer whose full name and face are available to anyone willing to google, I invite you all to do the same.
3.5 stars Like every satire ever written, No One Else Can Have You is destined to polarize readers. I doubt there will be people with lukewarm feelings for this book. Either this type of dark humor is something you enjoy or not, but either should be clear after only a couple of pages.
Through Friendship, Wisconsin and its colorful inhabitants, Hale cleverly points out all the shortcomings of a small community. Her criticism is as sharp as it is funny, and she spares no one in the process: not the protagonist, not the grieving parents, not the war hero, and certainly not the victim herself. To Hale, everything is fair game, and that’s precisely what makes her prose acceptable and entertaining. Had she been picky with her disparagement, the value would have been lost, but her tone remains unchanged whichever way you look.
Like everything else, the murder mystery is designed to both entertain and ridicule the small town mentality. Everyone involved in the investigation is basically a blithering idiot and the only two people with a modicum of sense are Kippy and Davey, Ruth’s older brother, just returned from a tour in Afghanistan. Davey has secrets he’s doing his best to hide and the entire town believes that he suffers from PTSD, so the fact that he’s the sanest one around is plenty ridiculous all on its own.
Despite the quirkiness that is, on occasion, exaggerated and annoying, Hale strikes just the right note with her secondary characters. The people of Friendship, few exceptions aside, are funny and instantly lovable, in that entirely unrealistic, unbelievable way. Kippy’s dad in particular has no trouble finding his way into the readers’ hearts, with his silly nicknames and his unrelenting support.
While I strongly recommend reading a sample first, just to see if this is something you might enjoy, I think everyone should at least give this one a chance. It’s a novelty, a breath of fresh air in an overly saturated market, and as such, it’s worthy of attention.
Death and the Girl he Loves appears to be the last book in Darynda Jones’ Darklight series (or apparently a trilogy – I must have been living under aDeath and the Girl he Loves appears to be the last book in Darynda Jones’ Darklight series (or apparently a trilogy – I must have been living under a rock), and as such, it is the best one by far. The first two books have been pleasant enough, but not extraordinary or even particularly memorable. With this third book, however, I can say that my opinion of the entire trilogy and of Darynda as a YA author went up a notch.
Still, the improvement didn’t erase the fact that this trilogy felt forced from the very beginning, almost like Darynda wrote it because she felt she needed to for some reason, and never really took the time to think things through. In all honesty, I never felt that she put her heart into it like I feel with her Charley Davidson series. This was more of a byproduct, here because someone somewhere thought Darynda needs to write for a younger audience too.
The thing is, it doesn’t suit her, it really doesn’t. She shines the brightest when she can let loose, make borderline inappropriate jokes full of sexual innuendo, all of which YA simply doesn’t allow. So while this was pleasant and entertaining, it was a far cry from Darynda’s usual standard.
I suppose it took placing Lorelei into an entirely unfamiliar environment to make this series somewhat more interesting for me. I didn’t think I’d appreciate her being taken away from everything and everyone she knows, but without her grandparents, Brooklyn, Glitch and even Jared, I finally got a better sense of her as a character and I must say I started to appreciate her more. Lorelei always seemed so young to me, which is part of the reason why I never warmed up to her entirely, but this time, I felt closer to her than ever.
In the first part of the book, Lorelei is hiding in an elite school in a different state and under a different name. Then she starts getting constant visions about the end of the world and she realizes that she accomplished nothing by leaving her home and her friends. In fact, her grandparents’ decision just made things worse. So she goes back and she rejoins the Order in the attempt to stop the gates of hell from opening and swallowing world as we know it.
The final battle was perhaps a bit choppy and awkward, but it did result in what I appreciate the most – a long Happily Ever After I could bask in to my heart’s content. I think it’s fairly obvious that I have some mixed feelings about this trilogy as a whole, but I do think it’s worth reading. Even subdued, Darynda’s humor is better than most, and as I always say, she doesn’t take herself too seriously, which is a quality I certainly appreciate. Also, Jared’s really hot, so there's that to consider.
Holy cliffhanger, Batman! Darynda sure knows how to end a book with a jaw-dropping moment. It may take my poor heart a good long while to recover fromHoly cliffhanger, Batman! Darynda sure knows how to end a book with a jaw-dropping moment. It may take my poor heart a good long while to recover from this one, but seeing as the next book comes out in October, rest assured, recover I will.
At this point, picking up a new Charley Davidson book feels a lot like coming home after a long and rather painful absence. Darynda’s characters have such strong personalities that it’s almost too easy to imagine them having lives beyond these pages. Getting a glimpse of their hilarious existence is very much an honor and a privilege.
It’s not all sunshine and roses, though. Truth be told, Sixth Grave seems to be a bit of a rush job. I was disappointed by the lack of structure in this plot, some conversations that lead absolutely nowhere and more than a few loose ends. I realize that unfinished storylines can be expected this late in the series, but some of them seemed forgotten rather than left purposely for later installments. It’s not something Darynda normally does and while I enjoyed Sixth Grave overall, I felt just a little bit let down.
Be that as it may, the fact remains that this is a series one can count for fabulous entertainment, sizzling hot romance and too many sidesplitting one-liners to count. Charley herself takes few things seriously which makes her different from every other UF or PNR heroine out there.
I’ll keep this short because, at book six, there’s little to say I haven’t said before: the Charley Davidson has hordes of fans for a reason. I suspect Darynda Jones might have a hard time moving on from this series because there’s too much of her in Charley, but as long as she’s writing these, there’s not much to worry about. If making people laugh and swoon at the same time were a sport, Darynda would be a multiple Olympic gold medalist.
I suspect I’m one of the very few people who are enjoying this YA spin-off, but aren’t at all familiar with the original adult paranormal romance seriI suspect I’m one of the very few people who are enjoying this YA spin-off, but aren’t at all familiar with the original adult paranormal romance series. In all honesty, Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series doesn’t appeal to me in the least. It’s not the type of thing I normally read, having developed allergies to PNR a long time ago, but her Chronicles of Nick, now at their fifth installment no less, are a whole different thing.
Even though it’s often more Middle Grade than Young Adult, I’ve been a fan of this series from the start. Sherrilyn Kenyon has a fabulous sense of humor and her series is often laugh-out-loud funny. Nick’s self-deprecating voice, his modesty and kindness, his protectiveness toward his tiny but fierce mother are all such endearing traits. He is an easy boy to love.
Illusion picks up exactly where Inferno left off, with Nick unwillingly thrown into a different dimension. Everything is different here: Caleb is human and a geek, Nick’s mother is married to Bubba (who just happens to be a shrewd businessman), and Nick himself, as Bubba’s son and not the Malakai, is significantly shorter, whinier, and entirely powerless. Kody is gone, the history is different, and Nick is, once again, in constant danger.
Kenyon expanded the world significantly in this installment, adding a never-ending number of enemies for Nick, and I must admit if all became a bit confusing. I kept forgetting the names and all the different species, I couldn’t keep track of all Nick’s friends and enemies even though I was trying very hard to keep track.
But the end result was still the same. I was entertained by Nick’s sarcastic remarks, warmed by his love for his family and friends, I cheered quite loudly when he faced his enemies and teared up when it all became too much for him. Not bad for a mostly Middle Grade series, huh? Not bad at all.
Full of Grace is a newly released companion to Hale Maree, Misty Provencher’s touching and original New Adult story that features an arranged marriageFull of Grace is a newly released companion to Hale Maree, Misty Provencher’s touching and original New Adult story that features an arranged marriage. It is, in my opinion, a slightly superior, more mature work, with better character development, better pacing and a far more believable plot. I’m rarely comfortable with female authors writing from a male perspective (or vice versa, really), but Misty Provencher gave such a lovely, genuine voice to Landon, and she was consistent throughout the novel.
Plotwise, Full of Grace is a bit more traditional than its predecessor: girl meets boy, girl gets pregnant, drama ensues. Neither Sher nor Landon wanted to find themselves in that situation, but Landon, being the outstanding guy that he is, is determined to make the most of it. He takes things as they come and he puts his whole heart into it, with no reservations whatsoever. It is admirable and perhaps a bit crazy too.
Full of Grace shows how a single mistake, a single moment of weakness, can cost you dearly and change your life completely. I disliked Sher intensely at first – she is a giggler, and she comes across as self-centered until things start klicking into place. Not all of her choices were wise, but Provencher gave me enough insight, even through Landon’s eyes, to sympathize with her and understand her completely.
Landon Grace is someone you should meet. He is a genuinely nice guy, honest and loyal. I adored him in Hale Maree, but being privy to his thoughts made me love and respect him even more. I couldn’t help but admire how hard he worked to make things right with Sher and how he just took everything she threw at him and tried to make the best of it.
Once again, Provencher did an excellent job and showed that she’s not in the business of creating plastic, meaningless characters. Whatever she writes next, I’ll definitely read.
Middle Grade books seem to be falling straight into my lap lately, but I’m not complaining, not yet. OMG! Is This Actually My Life? caught me completeMiddle Grade books seem to be falling straight into my lap lately, but I’m not complaining, not yet. OMG! Is This Actually My Life? caught me completely off guard. I can’t remember the last time I laughed myself into stitches.
Fourteen-year-old Hattie Moore is just like every other fourteen-year-old girl on the planet. She worries about boys, school and friends, obsesses about the changes on her body, worries about her braces and her “jaws of death”, hates her older sibling and despises the most popular girl in school. But on top of all that, Hattie doesn’t know her real father, she doesn’t even know his name, and she dreams he’ll show up one day to solve all her problems. Like every other girl in the history of girls, Hattie pines for a boy she barely even knows and fails to see what’s right in front of her. She is an extremely relatable character.
"Just done my weekly tit test in front of the mirror. When I jump up and down they STILL don't move. Goodnight, breasts. Please grow a bit overnight so I can bounce to school."*
OMG! is a diary novel that reminded me, in some ways, of Adrian Mole (whom I adored while growing up) and Bridget Jones (whom I never particularly liked). It wasn’t just the format that made me think of Adrian and Bridget, it was the combination of that, the fabulous British humor and some character traits Hattie shared with one or the other. Although OMG! was an endless source of hilarity, I really liked that Earl found a way to push some seriousness between the lines, mostly through Hattie’s non-existent relationship with her father, and her tense and resentful relationship with her mother. Those things were, of course, wrapped up in her great sense of humor, but they were there to give the readers something to think about.
OMG! has an array of colorful characters. Hattie’s two best friends, Weirdo Jen and Dimple, are both very supportive, each in her own way. Her grandmother insists on texting dirty jokes to everyone, including her dentist, and asks for a ‘Britain’s Hottest Firemen’ calendar each Christmas. Her archenemy is the prettiest and meanest girl in school, Ruby aka Miss Gorgeous Knickers. There is, of course, McFittie, a server in Bertie’s, whom Hattie never really spoke to (other than him offering her a biscotti), but whom she’s desperately in love with nevertheless. And last, but not least, there’s Goose, Hattie’s first neighbor, her oldest and most supportive male friend and an all around awesome guy who spends time with her stepfather and cheers her up when things go terribly wrong.
Dimple is UBER gorgeous. In fact, I’m a bit annoyed her parents aren’t arranging her marriage because it means she’s shopping in the snog supermarket at the same time as me. ”Love IS a battlefield” – so one of my mum’s CDs says.*
What stopped me from fully enjoying Hattie’s diary was her (Earl’s) excessive use of caps. They served a purpose, of course, they reflected Hattie’s flair for the dramatic, but the overall effect was a bit jarring. I’m not sure younger readers would feel the same, though, so please don’t take my word for it. I really think this book is an excellent choice for younger teens and more patient adults.