I have to admit, I somehow had this idea that I wasn't very impressed with this author. I'm not sure why, but whe...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I have to admit, I somehow had this idea that I wasn't very impressed with this author. I'm not sure why, but when I decided to read and review this book, I decided to disregard that and read it anyway, purely by the outstanding blurb, only to realize now that I've only ever read one short story by this author in the past. And, while that story didn't stick with me, I have no idea why I had the idea that this was a so so author for me. This book blew me away in so many ways, that no matter what, I'll always give this author the benefit of the doubt from now on. I loved it so much, I could barely put it down and had to stop myself from starting it again as soon as I'd finished -- and I rarely re-read a book. I have to have really loved it.
The story is set around the life of Brute, a hulking man whose life is an amalgamation of all the hurt and shame a society can accumulate and put upon one person. Set in a fairy tale world, Brute faces the misery of society every day, just by doing his job as a laborer and bearing the brunt of his town's misery. Yet faced with a past full of abuse and abandonment, and living in a world where he's continually degraded, Brute remains mostly unaffected. Though he understands how the town feels about him, he's faced with it every day, he has a pure moral compass that far surpasses any sort of negativity or revenge. When a visiting prince of the realm has an accident, Brute is the one who rushes to save him.
The prince's accident has many ramifications, not only to Brute himself, but to his life and future in the town. As a reward, the prince offers Brute a job and pay at the palace, if ever he decides to visit. And now, with his situation in the town changed and his prospects few, Brute has no choice but to venture to the capital. The choice is fortuitous, because when Brute takes up the job the prince finds for him as a jailor, he finds that the man he guards has a past of his own. And while they may seem to have many differences, they're both on the outside of society.
This book, and Brute himself, is so absolutely charming that I almost can't get through this review. Rarely do I end up writing a review, even for a book I love, where I keep thinking about moments in the book and wanting to talk to you about them, to share them. It has only happened a few times this year, in fact. It's such a great thing to find a book like that, that affects you and you love so much. It reaffirms why we read and what we get from it. Why it's important. Brute is a character that is bigger than life, and will always remain close to my heart. Like Gray says, "Y-you’re a giant because an ordinary man’s body is t- too small for what you are.”
Underneath all of that, Brute, his charm and the charm of this book, there is actually a lot about this book that is superbly well done. The world created casts a perfect balance to show the good and bad in their society and uses Brute as a catalyst, for good or bad, however each person reacts to him. In a similar way, the tone of this book is perfect because it doesn't lose the magical quality a fairy tale gives but it also shows a harsh reality for a story set in such a world. The setting is very evocative of this in the disparity between rich and poor and the people and the choices they make and which of those factions they belong to -- all seen through Brute's eyes, which are startlingly unbiased. And finally, the ending casts a very fine balance between feeling perfectly wrapped up, but not trite. The characters seem to choose their own direction, without being forced to take part in any sort of catharsis -- some in ignorance and others evolving.
So, I haven't really raved about many books lately, but I can't help it with this one. I think everyone should read this book. And when you do, please let me know!. I want to be able to talk about it with all of you!(less)
I think this is one of the best short stories I've read from Less Than Three Press. And certainly a delight to find and read. It deals with a lot of c...moreI think this is one of the best short stories I've read from Less Than Three Press. And certainly a delight to find and read. It deals with a lot of core issues, that are shown like from the light of the moon that is constantly referred to -- harsh but clear. The fantastical element is thrust into a normal contemporary world, and like that cold light shows the truth of everything around it. I thought that Terry made a wonderful hero in how he responds to that. He's vulnerable and selfless but when it is required of him, he rises to the challenges put before him.
Mostly though, I just really liked the setup of this story -- a play on the hunt or sighting of a white stag. In most cultures it was in some way seen as a spiritual experience, and though greatly changed in many ways I could see a few different threads of mythology worked into the story.
it's a story that I'll definitely be reading again. I feel like, even though I enjoyed it as a romance, and whatnot, I could get more out of it from another read. In the case of romance, of course much of the story is taken up with other things. While there is a romance here, much of the actual interaction between the two is left for after the story. But I didn't need that for this story to work, or be what I needed.(less)
This was enchantingly cute, but I would have loved a little more romance in the story. Still, this is the best I've read yet from Mell Eight,...more3.5 stars
This was enchantingly cute, but I would have loved a little more romance in the story. Still, this is the best I've read yet from Mell Eight, because Ladder Rung, or "Rung", or "Wrong" was such an absolutely wonderful character.(less)
I love Megan Derr's fairy tales and fantasy stories, but this was too short. It reminded me a of a few other short stories she has that just aren't lo...moreI love Megan Derr's fairy tales and fantasy stories, but this was too short. It reminded me a of a few other short stories she has that just aren't long enough to do the story justice, like Finder Tolan. A great setup, a good play on the mermaid fairy tale... but the story seems incomplete.(less)
I read a couple of these as they were released as serials, but I hadn't yet had the chance to go back and read "The Fairy's Assistant" and "The Prince...moreI read a couple of these as they were released as serials, but I hadn't yet had the chance to go back and read "The Fairy's Assistant" and "The Prince of the Moon", which in reading them now are definitely to favorite stories of the anthology. I suppose, being the gay man I am I'm not yet brave enough to read f/f, no matter how much I love JL Merrow, so I did skip that story.
I have to say, though, that the opening story (more like novel) of this anthology, Sasha Miller's "The Fairy's Assistant" is by far the best Cinderalla re-creation that I've read. I absolutely loved it and I loved the way she made the story her own.
The Fairy's Assistant by Sasha L Miller - 5 stars! The Prince of the Moon by Megan Derr - 4.5 stars Learning to See by Julia Alaric - 3.75 stars Cinder-Elle by Mell Eight - 3.75 stars Capture the Moon by JL Merrow - (f/f) didn't read(less)
I have only read one other story by Jade Astor, Darius, the first book of the Moon Lake Wolves series. I have to...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I have only read one other story by Jade Astor, Darius, the first book of the Moon Lake Wolves series. I have to say that I found that book much better than this one. It was still a light and short novella, but with Snow Bite, Blood Red I was pretty disappointed and felt that it didn't even live up to that standard.
The blurb pretty much tells you everything about the story, and the one detail that is left out, the identity of the "forces of dark magic" is known from the very beginning. I admit that what I wanted was a light and sweet story, but I still found myself rolling my eyes many times at how overly done this was. The main character, Albion, was not just sweet and genuine, but a bit stupid. That sounds harsh but he didn't have much of a spine or much common sense. There are some references to being sheltered most of his life, which might explain some of this. That doesn't, however, make him a very engaging character. The king, Jasper, is a pretty typical brooding vampire, out to please Albion in any way once he realizes that Albion is the man who can break his curse.
I wondered while I was reading, whether some of these overdone characterizations and dialogue was from the fact that this is based on the Snow White fairy tale, but I can't decide. What I do normally notice about fairy tales wasn't present here. The Fairy Tale is generally of a way a story is written, not just the plot itself, and I found the lack of narration as a driving force general fable setup -- a play on the writing style that has been done over and over -- sadly missing here. It didn't feel much like a fairy tale while reading but a normal story, until certain classic fairy tale props would be brought in (i.e. apple, spindle, etc) to remind us. Since I really enjoy fairy tales, that was a bit sad for me.
There were a few other things that bothered me, but there's really no point going into them because I think it is pretty obvious by now that I didn't take to this story and most likely will not be reading further books in the series. I wanted a book to read while I could switch my mind off, but finding little bits here and there that didn't seem to fit or bothered me kept my mind active, so it wasn't a successful read for me, even when I want a bit of fluff. Not Feelin' It.(less)
A miraculous, healing story to hold close to your heart!
I've heard many, many wonderful things about this book over the last month or so. Josephine My...moreA miraculous, healing story to hold close to your heart!
I've heard many, many wonderful things about this book over the last month or so. Josephine Myles wrote a wonderful review that caught my interest after Chris directed me there, and became my personal cheerleader -- saying, "read it now! read it now!". I found myself very lucky then, to be one of the recipients of the GoodReads giveaway and received my paperback copy from Edmond in the mail last week, along with a beautiful note and a yummy, gooey, finger-licking, savorlicious nut roll, that I promply ate on the way back from the mail-box. I mean, hey, I got a free book! But I also got free candy! Well, not candy ;)
So I found myself with a beautiful copy of a book that has probably gotten more 5 star reviews than I've seen before, memory full of sweet and salty goodness, and a personal cheerleader goading me on. How could I refuse?
This is a unique book to review, and I won't re-hash the blurb for you, because there's really no point. There's so much to say about it, yet the beauty of it is in the mystery. I constantly found myself with my pen marking favorite passages to enjoy later (I love marking up books! real books! it's been so long!), but unable to share them, because like an inside joke, no one but fellow Found King and Queen readers would understand them. Point 1 for Edmond Manning -- by reading, I've become complicit in the events of the book.
Because the real story is in the mystery of figuring out the story for yourself and your own personal journey with the characters, the story is a bit hard to describe to those who haven't yet read the book. I was talking to a friend who is also reading this book right now and the only way I could find to describe the story was this: "its... light-hearted on the surface but profound underneath, but it's like a great adventure. It... reminds me, at it's heart... of Max, in Where the Wild Things Are... It's like a great children's adventure for adults." There's a sense of wonder in the adventure, which sounds a bit hokey in summary, but through the character of San Francisco in the novel is laid out in a way that entices the senses.
I do want to talk to potential readers here, because I might not have picked this story up if not for Chris, my personal cheerleader, telling me not to be afraid of the Bittersweet label on this book. The only similarity this book as to Bittersweet books is the fact that there's no HEA. I don't think that's too much of a spoiler to give away as it is pretty well known. However, while this book is wildly romantic, it is also not technically a "romance." I'd rather think of it as gay fiction. It is a beautiful story that left me with a huge smile on my face and warmth in my heart, and no matter how hokey it sounds I'll growl it out like a wild bear :)
All I can say is that I think everyone should read this book, and I'm so happy that I have my very own paperback copy to read whenever I want. I imagine that this book will stay with me for a long time, and having it there to comfort me on a bad day, or remind me of all the good and wonder in the world when I really need it.(less)
The premise of this story is cute, I just had some problems with the execution. I couldn't really get around the big coincidenc...more2.75 stars (rounded up)
The premise of this story is cute, I just had some problems with the execution. I couldn't really get around the big coincidence that brings the two back together. I also felt like the plot was pretty generic. It didn't seem to become more personalized, I suppose with setting, character, etc.
The best part of the story was the beginning. THAT was really cute :)
In the end, it's not a terrible story and I know that a lot of people have liked it. It just didn't seem to come alive for me and left me feeling a little 'meh' in response.
I'm tagging this one as fairy tale, even though it isn't because it's just, well very fairy tale-ish. lol.(less)
So-so. I never much got into this one, and I thought it a bit strange that this obvious fairy tale has one of the secondary characters learni...more2.5 stars
So-so. I never much got into this one, and I thought it a bit strange that this obvious fairy tale has one of the secondary characters learning the grand lesson of the story. I probably would have enjoyed it more if it were smuttier :D(less)
Oi vey. And I was really looking forward to this one.
It just doesn't work to have a captive/slave story in this short format, when the story...more1.5 stars
Oi vey. And I was really looking forward to this one.
It just doesn't work to have a captive/slave story in this short format, when the story runs beginning to end, no matter if its written like a fairy tale. There's only time to get the bones of the plot down and none of the emotional connection between the slave and captor, which is the only way that I can ever be satisfied in the end, if I can see the change between the characters from beginning, middle to end. I ended up hating all three characters in this book. One, because he's the evil one, another because I don't really know anything about him at all so he comes off as inauthentic, and the last one because he was just pathetic. I really did not like this one.(less)
While an overall enjoyable read, I didn't enjoy this one as much as some of Abigail's other works and many of the other books in the DSP Fairytale lin...moreWhile an overall enjoyable read, I didn't enjoy this one as much as some of Abigail's other works and many of the other books in the DSP Fairytale line. It dragged a bit in the first half. Also, the one thing I look for in fairy tales is a tight plot line, which is really needed since they are by nature allegorical. Everything has a symbolic meaning and they're usually pared down to the essential plot points without any extraneous detail. Thus flows a simple, seamless plot, but with pretty obvious deeper meanings. I didn't get that feeling of circular connection where all the stars align when reading this book, which is what I really love about reading fairy tales.(less)
Haron and Wiskar are like two very different sides of the same coin. They both work in tandem to create a world, then they move on to another. Yet, fo...moreHaron and Wiskar are like two very different sides of the same coin. They both work in tandem to create a world, then they move on to another. Yet, for all that they can accomplish when they work together, they are very, very different. Wiskar, who is rough and often foul-tempered, likes to create the hunters and predators of the world — the wolf, the vulture, and other carnivorous animals. Haron, who is sweet-tempered and endlessly patient with Wiskar (often to the point of being dreamy), likes to create the gentle creatures of the world — the bunnies, the herbivores, as well as anything of beauty, like sweet-scented flowers. They have worked as a team creating worlds for Sky Holder for millions of years, and have fallen deeply, passionately in love. Or so Haron believes. Yet, getting Wiskar to admit to liking anything, even remotely tolerating anything without a hint of disdain, even himself, is toiling.
So, like any sweet and intelligent (though maybe slightly devious) man that he is, Haron decides that he will have to do something to get Wiskar to throw him down and ravish him, or they can not go on creating worlds, especially since Wiskar tends to create all of his animals in about the same amount of time Haron likes to lovingly craft a single flower. So, when Wiskar challenges him to a battle of creation, he knows that his wits can beat Wiskar’s strength any day. More than anything, however, Haron understands what this test of wills is all about, and the possible outcome if he can win.
This little story by G.R. Richards was, I admit, not what I expected it to be, and I was happy with the story as it turned out. I love the snarky voice it is told in. It is also told much like a fairy tale — short, sweet and to the point. That works well for a short story, especially one where there is world building. I often have trouble getting into short stories that aren’t contemporaries for that very reason. The voice in this story (which is mostly Haron’s POV, though it changes between Haron and Wiskar) is funny and led me to believe that the world-building wasn’t very important. The story is really all about Haron and Wiskar, who are two extremes that we know are meant for one another from the moment we see what they create. The way those extremes are described, Haron as a sort of doe-eyed, innocent princeling type, and Wiskar, the gruff, can’t bear to talk about emotions and ready to dunk his head into a barrel of beer, lumberjack type, are almost satirical of a typical fairy tale romance, especially between two men. It led to a light and funny read that I really enjoyed.
There were a few things that I didn’t really understand, specifically dealing with the corn and beans and the racks of elk (this is dealing with their duel), but it didn’t sour my enjoyment of the story. Though, I do think that if I had understood a lot of those little details I would have gotten more from the story. It could be just that those are references that I didn’t really understand. Still, I don’t think they lead to any great revelations, as this isn’t the sort of story that I feel is supposed to impart some sort of meaning other than the enjoyment of the story itself. It might be that I am wrong, but I enjoyed it for being light-hearted without trying to drive home any sort of message.
I really enjoyed the two loons, Susan and Bill, who share a similar relationship to Wiskar and Haron, yet also watch from the sidelines in bemused silence. I was a bit startled by the way the two men get to the different worlds by “Divine Vessel” (and you will be two, I think). It reminded me a bit of a scene in Pedro Almodovar’s film Talk to Her, where a character runs around in a giant re-creation of a vagina (that’s all I’ll tell you, I swear!).
This story was, however, quirky and with it’s own sense of humor. For that, I enjoyed it very much. Recommended for a quick, light read with lots of imagination.