I got this book for review on a whim, and I am so happy that I did because it completely took over my life yester...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I got this book for review on a whim, and I am so happy that I did because it completely took over my life yesterday. I started reading it in the early morning and I couldn't put it down -- I read all day. And to be honest I was a little worried after I requested it because I had previously read a book by John Tristan that I DNF'ed and I think it might have been his first book. I just couldn't get into the writing and I kinda liked it but also didn't. So I couldn't believe that I had none of the same issues with this book that I did with that earlier book. And if this author keeps writing books like this then I'll definitely stick around and keep reading!
When his father dies with a multitude of debts, Etan is forced to sell his home and all his belongings and travel to the capital city of Kered to look for work. His only skills are his ability to read and write, and while those are rare abilities for a country boy, with no money to garner an apprenticeship, his only choice is manual labor, something he's unable to do because of a sickness as a child that stunted his growth. He's pale and petite, and saved by a man in a rickshaw when beaten in the street. The man offers to send him to a place to stay, where he learns after a few days is a home for indentured servants. His only option thereafter is to sign away his rights and work for this man in trade for a place to stay and food to eat.
When the man sees Etan without bruises and washes he almost doesn't recognize him, but he has an even better idea of work for him. Etan is introduced to Roberd Tallisk, a tattoo artist whose patron is the head of the Council, run by the Blooded, the ruling class of Kered society who possess magic believed descended from the gods themselves. There, Etan's slave bond is bartered between the two men when Tallisk agrees to take Etan on as his new work of art, an Adorned. The Adorned have always mystified those of the lower classes. They're those of beauty who are tattooed by master tattoo artists with enchanted ink to become living works of art for the pleasure of the Blooded. Their art is not allowed to be seen by those who aren't Blooded or the artist. And no one else but the tattoo artists are allowed to wear ink.
Etan's new life seems wonderful and exciting. He's protected now for life with gifts of riches from patrons and by the ink he wears on his skin. But there is also an aspect of being Adorned that he never expected. He soon learns the hard price to pay when he starts to mingle with the elite of Keren society and exactly what they expect from him. And he finds himself a pawn, a sort of Mata Hari in the political play between two warring factions for the future of the Keren society.
There are two things that I love most about this story and they go behind the tattoo art (which is super cool) and a lot of the other little details that made this story come alive for me. First is the epic quality of the story. We really get to see Etan's life played out over a lot of major changes in his life that also herald major changes for the whole world. We meet Etan when he's young, still living at home with his father and before he's had to completely depend on himself and we get to see how he changes over time. I typically prefer characters who are alive, present and very decisive about their lives in fiction, especially in fantasy worlds. Etan is alive and present, certainly, but he's also like a piece of detritus in a massive current once he makes it to the city. He's buffered on all sides by those making choices for him. I can't see him acting any other way certainly, as someone who has very little choices, but he's also very internal and cautious. I didn't see those parts of his personality changing until much later because it was such a slow change, but Etan grows as the world changes around him and as he needs to take more of his own care for himself.
The second thing I really loved was the cast of characters. We meet a multitude of secondary characters, most of whom are a good sort, and a faction of those who are good people who make some bad choices. As the world in the story changes, it reveals the best and worst of the characters and each of them are made to understand their regrets, in particular Isadel and Lord Haqan Loren. All of them, however, are well rounded characters that we get to know rather well. And this was done sometimes in a rather subtle fashion. The writing requires the reader to be present and active in piecing the world together and in drawing connections, and I can't tell you how often I find myself wishing for writing like that.
You might not find this story to be perfect, or it might not impact you as much as it did me. Part of how you feel about it, in the end, will depend on what you like most in your romance books. The relationship between Etan and Tallisk is very slow to build and it takes almost the full length of the novel for the two to really come together. The bulk of the story is rather Etan's journey and finding himself, someone who still feels like a country boy, realizing that he's a good person with heart amid vultures who would pick at him until there's nothing left. He has to realize what he really wants out of life, if it is security or love and if those things are separate.
I finished the book wanting more, sad that the story ended and hoping there was a way a sequel could be written, lol. I don't think that's really possible. But I know now that I'll definitely keep my eye on book by John Tristan and I hope that it isn't too long from now that I find another book that I get so lost in.(less)
Well, Anne, you've made me do it again. Every time I pick up one of your (long-awaited) books I find myself even...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Well, Anne, you've made me do it again. Every time I pick up one of your (long-awaited) books I find myself even more in love than before. I think this time around I really fell in love with this book, simply because it had so many different qualities to love and pinged on so many different emotions from so many different characters. And, it was touching. Anne takes us satisfactorily deep into Collin and then allows us to experience the moments of clarity and insight as he feels them and deals with them.
In this third installment of the Theta Alpha Gamma series, we head back once again to the fraternity that first saw an open gay student with Brad in Frat Boy and Toppy. We meet Collin briefly (if I can remember correctly) as Brad's friend who gives him a pretty big failure of a blowjob, one that acts as somewhat of a catalyst in Brad and Sebastian's relationship.
In Sweet Young Thang we see that experience from Collin's perspective. He is.../was? Brad's best friend but not out himself. He did a pretty good job of pretending to be straight before that, but now he has a good circle of friends at the college that are all gay men. He's the Alumni Liaison for TAG, a position secured for him by his Uncle Monty, the President of the Alumni Association with a heavy hand in current TAG politics -- the biggest of which is the recent change in policy that says that Theta Alpha Gamma now accepts gay students. Of course, it always did, but it was more of a Don't Ask, Don't Tell kind of situation. Brad changed all that. Collin convinced his Uncle Monty to support him in his lobbying to change the policy and in return promises him that there will be no repercussions from those who might be unhappy about the change.
All of that is blown out of the water when someone plants a bomb and sets the TAG house on fire. A frat brother is injured and the house is totally a lost cause. And Uncle Monty starts putting on the pressure to change the policy back. But part of Collin's reasons for lobbying the change so hard were to see his Uncle's reactions in the first place. His whole life has been planned out by his uncle, his prep school, college, classes and degree, including his position in the family olive oil import business after graduation. It isn't until he meets sexy paramedic Eric (who has his own secret history with Uncle Monty), an alum of TAG himself in the bomb fiasco that Collin starts to feel like he finally has someone in his corner. But their relationship is picking up quick and heavy and the pressure from all directions in his life is starting to get to Collin.
This is quite a long novel, but it really doesn't seem like it because it's really jam packed with action and a super quick pace. The only real downtime in the story are the times alone with Collin and Eric, which thankfully are a fair few. Normally, I would probably prefer the story to be less sex heavy and more plot-centric, but Anne Tenino knows how to write sex and intimacy together, while keeping the relationship moving forward and the sex important to plot. And that's all while making it some of the hottest sex I've read this year! Whew, Eric and Collin have a serious connection from the moment they meet and it really shows throughout the book, slowly translating from lust into something real. Even though it's made known several times throughout the book how fast their relationship is moving (a week total over the whole book) this NEVER felt like insta-love. It isn't about the overall time that the couple has in getting to know one another, but about how they spend that time. Eric and Collin go through a lot together and each step along the way they communicate those changes between them, so that you can see them growing together.
All i can really do is urge you to read this book yourself. I know that this book will have a fair few amount of fans excited to read it already, because of the popularity of the series previously. But all I can really say is that I feel like this series gets better and better with each book, and while your preferences for the plot of each will change how you feel about each book (they're all fairly different), I think that Anne's writing has grown in leaps and bounds since Frat Boy…. There are so many great things about this book, a kick ass opening chapter which really introduces us to Eric well and some absolutely pure hilarity from the frat boys:
"Big mistake the Alunmi Association made. You should never threaten a fat boy's beer."
"Danny," Collin snapped. "Whenever sensitivity is called for in the future, I think you shoal ask yourself, 'What would Tim Gunn do?'"
This moment between Collin and Eric pulled it all together for me:
"Did you feel ashamed?" Collin felt as if Eric had just dropped his full weight on his chest, denting in his ribcage and making it harder for his lungs to expand. "No." Eric kissed his other palm. "Shit. Maybe. Why would I feel ashamed?" "I don't know. For not being what your -- what people wanted you to be." Oh God, now he felt nauseous. "That's so unfair." Eric smiled sadly. "It's unfair that you felt that way?" Collin swallowed, nodding…
I admit I did wonder a few times if Collin ever went to class! Of course, that doesn't matter, but it does illustrate the enormous pressure I felt for him. Collin has everything bombarding him at once with enormous pressure on him to hold the weight, to deal with it, to figure it out for everyone else. I really felt for him. And it made his time with Eric and their marathon sex chapters not just an expected byproduct of a romance novel, but needed as de-stressing time for him.
So, yes, I definitely recommend this one. I know a lot of you will be reading it anyway, so I'd love to know what you think. Please leave me comments!(less)
Don't hate on me haters! This isn't out yet, but please visit the link near the end of the review, which will take you to Madison's blog where she tal...moreDon't hate on me haters! This isn't out yet, but please visit the link near the end of the review, which will take you to Madison's blog where she talks about the story, the characters, and cryptology!
This story is not yet available, just so you know. But, seeing it already on Goodreads meant that I just couldn't wait! So, Madison sent me a copy and let me know I could post it whenever I wanted, since we don't yet know when it will be posted. And this is me really, really, really hoping that it's posted soon because it's such a cute, sweet, happy story that I want to share my reading experience with all of you!
This Jock/Nerd college story doesn't rely on the typical trope. The prompt that started this story specifically asked for a different take on that trope, so what we get in this story is a jock that doesn't really like his own popularity and a nerd that doesn't want or need any of his own. Corey relies on his own genius to move him further in life. To him, college isn't a chance to party, but to make connections and actually learn. He's a student of mathematics, but really loves cryptology. Brandon is the star pitcher of the college's baseball team, but has always been uncomfortable of the popularity that and his looks give him. He's out and no one cares, but getting a date is a different thing altogether. Most people expect him to want to date another gay athlete at the school, someone like him, but Brandon has always been attracted to men smaller and smarter than him.
When Brandon finds out that his best friend's roommate is gay, he's curious to know more from his friend. Just seeing Corey's side of the dorm room gives him some ideas -- a worn Rubik's Cube, posters of Battlestar Galactica, and little armies of figures in their precise places. Corey is obviously a nerd, something that his roommate and Brandon's friend continues to tell him. So when Brandon finally faces the fact that he'll fail his statistics class without tutoring, he's surprised that the cute guy who helps him is Corey. He's cute, really smart, and just happens to say no to Brandon every time he asks him out.
The continued rebuttals force Brandon to get creative, but at the same time Corey is succumbing to pressure from his best friend to get out of his room, take some time off from his work and flirt with a guy. Brandon just happens to be cute and already interested in him...
Sorry for going on so long there. The prompt for this story is really why the story is so wonderful. That and the fact that Madison Parker is really talented at putting together cute/feel-good stories. But the prompt that wanted, specifically, a story with a Jock/Nerd trope turned on it's head is what makes this story unique and special. Throughout the story, when we'd normally expect the jock to have all the power while wooing the pants of the nerd (literally), we have Corey holding the reins. Brandon has shown his interest in him countless times and seems like he'll try to do anything to get Corey to recognize him in a romantic way and to make time for him among his math and cryptology work. But Corey already has firm goals placed in mind and is halfway to completing them. College for him is about forging the path to his future career, and he's got both feet placed firmly on that path. A romantic distraction is not something that he needs, or wants; there will always be time for a boyfriend later, when he's more established. So instead of what we expected form this trope, we have a nerd with all the power! Woo!
Madison has a lot of fun with codes and making codes in this story. Not only is it a GREAT way for Brandon to woo Corey, it's also fun for us because we're told a lot about different codes and how they're encrypted. And in the end (this isn't a spoiler!), the story ends with a code that we're left to solve ourselves. I had a lot of fun with that. Madison talks all about the story and ciphers on her blog, which you should definitely check out. She even explains a basic keyword shift and gives us a message to decipher.
It's good practice before reading the story!(less)
Excellent!! I found the romance a little less exciting this time around, but excitement isn't everything and I thought that overall the relat...more4.5 stars
Excellent!! I found the romance a little less exciting this time around, but excitement isn't everything and I thought that overall the relationship progressed extremely well after the ending of the first book.
And WOW, a MUCHMUCH better mystery this time around. I really got into this one and I thought that it and the evidence unfolded much more naturally.
I didn't quite understand what Rolf and Ranger were trying to do until I remembered the name of this story. And the format (twelve short sho...moreBrilliant!
I didn't quite understand what Rolf and Ranger were trying to do until I remembered the name of this story. And the format (twelve short shorts with Christmas as their only common denominator) works beautifully for such a large cast of characters, especially since so many of them are still partially unknown to us, or we only know them from third-hand information through the main characters. Getting to see them like this, their history in just a moment captured from one Christmas in their past or present says so much about each one of them and introduces us to a lot of new information. Wade, especially, is someone that I feel I have a completely better understanding of now.
And the format really works and must have gone over really well, as seen with Rolf and Ranger's most recent FCR short story release, "Jackson High", which has the same vignette format.(less)
This was great! One of my favorite of the FCR short stories because we get to see Dale in his stride -- I love seeing the competent Ice Man get pulled...moreThis was great! One of my favorite of the FCR short stories because we get to see Dale in his stride -- I love seeing the competent Ice Man get pulled out of an important meeting for his spanking ;) Plus, it's nice seeing Dale get to live his life the way he wants and still be a competent businessman.(less)
I loved this one. So great to see not only Paul when he was younger, and see him in a different light, but to see him from a new perspective, especial...moreI loved this one. So great to see not only Paul when he was younger, and see him in a different light, but to see him from a new perspective, especially Phillip's and David's when he's not totally put together and still finding his place. Plus, I love hearing him talk about Maine, his grandmother and the boarding house and tenants :)(less)
The most awaited book of the year! Well, maybe… probably! And ever since the listing came up on the DSP...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
The most awaited book of the year! Well, maybe… probably! And ever since the listing came up on the DSP site I've been mourning the fact that I can't get it in paperback, to complete my set :( I guess that means that Marie is going to have to extend the series somehow, because that would be a crime!
Anyway, I was so happy when I got this in my inbox for review. In fact, I knew I was getting it early so I made sure to go back and read Strawberries for Dessert, which would be somewhat fortuitous. For those of you not living under a rock, Fear, Hope and Bread Pudding continues the story of Cole and Jonathan. Let's do a little recap. We first met Cole in the first book of the Coda series, Promises, as Jared's past fuck buddy and good friend. He's fabulously rich and traveling is his career, with a boy in every port shall we say. Jonathan is introduced as Zack's ex-boyfriend and we meet him on page for the first time in The Letter Z, where the two couples (Matt and Jared, Zack and Angelo) run into Jonathan in Las Vegas while on vacation.
Then, the best book of the series (and it's definitely not just me that thinks that!) introduced the two men to each other. Jared, playing matchmaker, gave Cole Jonathan's number which he got in Vegas and Cole called Jonathan to introduce himself and ask him out the next time he was in Phoenix. Strawberries for Dessert shows their very rocky start to a solid relationship as they both deal with the massive changes in their lives: Jonathan's father and his dead-end job, and Cole's relationship with his mother and his neuroses about settling down, being enough for one man and being a gypsy spirit tied to one place. In Paris A to Z, all three couples convene in Paris for the wedding of Jonathan and Cole, and we get caught up on each relationship.
Fear, Hope and Bread Pudding starts not too long after their wedding and takes the couple through the next few tumultuous years of their lives. The sequel that we were all waiting for after Cole ended Strawberries… with the secret "I've always wanted to be a father", starts with the two men planning their family. Creating a family is more to the two than just wanting a child to care for. Cole was completely alone in the world before he married Jonathan, estranged from his socialite mother and ungrounded from any real roots. Jonathan always felt immense guilt for taking away his father's possibility of grandchildren, but mostly he wants to please Cole, who he knows would be an incredible, doting father to any child. With all of Cole's money at their disposal, they immediately set the adoption process in motion.
Their lawyer lets them know up front that the process can be full of heartbreak and take years to conclude. But Jonathan and Cole don't really understand what waiting means when they're perfect applicants and are already decorating their nursery. After months and months the absence of a child and the presence of an empty room start to loom over Cole. His excitement over becoming a father is wrapped up in his need to create stability for himself and in some way make up for the damage in his relationship with his own mother. Jonathan is firmly on Cole's side. But Jon's father understands things from a different perspective, and his meddling creates a whole new dynamic in their growing family… if they can finally find someone willing to give them their child.
Sorry, that was way too long!
This sequel surprised me in a number of ways. First, I was always going to love this, just because it's a story about Cole and Jonathan and shows us where their lives are going after we saw them last. But how Marie wrote their story surprised me in a few ways, foremost with Jon's father taking a large part of the POV in the middle section of the book. At first I was quite unsure of what she was doing with that, but I grew to love it and understand the perspective that he could offer, even though it took time away from Cole and Jonathan. It was a real gamble, but I felt like it payed off.
I think that if I had not read Strawberries… right before this book that I may not have liked it as much. Part of the problem is that this story is actually quite short and reading the first book with this couple helped me with feeling like I got to spend enough time with them. Make no mistake, though. I'm not saying that this story needed more. There is quite a large progression of time and a quick pace that made this novella feel really full of plot and time with the characters.
So yes, without a doubt I recommend this one. If you haven't ever read the Coda series, or Strawberries for Dessert (which you could technically read without the other books), then you should run to pick them up. It's one of my favorite m/m series out there. And this book is a continuation of a story that I already loved.(less)
This has the most eclectic mix of tags I've ever given a book. Surprisingly, they all went together! And even more, it kinda represents this book, whi...moreThis has the most eclectic mix of tags I've ever given a book. Surprisingly, they all went together! And even more, it kinda represents this book, which is a bit of a hodge-podge of different quirks and ideas, even plotting and pacing which I found rather refreshing. Definitely not typical vampire fare!
I hadn't planned on giving this book a proper review, but when Sunday rolled around and I was still thinking about this book, so I decided that it really needed one. For some reason, and I sincerely hope that this is just my 2D, rather limited view of the m/m romance reading community, this book hasn't seemed to have had a real splash yet. And that's a damn shame. Here's what I said on Goodreads immediately after I finished the book Satuday:
This has the most eclectic mix of tags I've ever given a book. Surprisingly, they all went together! And even more, it kinda represents this book, which is a bit of a hodge-podge of different quirks and ideas, even plotting and pacing which I found rather refreshing. Definitely not typical vampire fare!
Now, the tags here are pretty much similar to the ones on Goodreads, but since I can more easily edit and add tags here at the blog, they of course have a bit more flair ;) I have to admit that I've fallen into a bit of a pattern in my mismanagement of my m/m reading, where many of the most exciting releases seem to slip through the net (there are many factors, though it still makes me a dolt) mostly because of reviewing duties, but Lou Harper is perhaps one on the top of the list of those stellar authors that I haven't given their due. Perhaps I should do a backlist read. Anyway, this book wasn't just well written, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable read, for many reasons I'll talk about later. But that brings me to another point. Another byproduct of my reviewing duties is that I tend to analyze first rather than enjoy the book first, and having not originally slated Spirit Sanguine as a review book and (imagine this!) actually making myself sit down and read a book for pleasure instead of work on reviews I should be getting up to date, meant that this one just slipped right through and knocked me flat. I didn't really have to think about an analysis of the book, of styles and pacing and plot and characterizations, but… I just enjoyed it. It was a refreshing read, and not something I was expecting from the vampire angle.
Bloodsuckers are everywhere; you can't walk down a dark alley without a couple of them jumping out and accosting you with their dark and broody eyes. They do that a lot--mope and sulk. That's what got to me, all the melodrama. I mean, they are practically immortal, don't get sick, grow old, don't need to watch their weight or work out. What the hell do they have to bellyache about?
(That's the truth.)
And that's the point. In a sub-genre where melodrama rules and/or kinky vampire sex clubs are the forte, humor takes precedent here, brought forth by the vivacious and quirky Harvey (I love the name, and not just the Feng/Fang part, the fact that her vampire is named Harvey), who isn't really like any other of his kind. In actuality, I'd rather not go into characterization here, because I'd rather not cut him into pieces to analyze him. He's best enjoyed as it's written… plus, you'll find plenty in other reviews, I'm sure. The same goes for Gabe, who is perhaps the undervalued of the pair, though it's important that he's the lens we see the world through, and even more in which we see Harvey through. His understanding of and feelings for Harvey are how we understand him best, in reflection.
What was really refreshing about this book for me was also in a second part -- the style, which is reflected in pacing but also the plot. Both were atypical in that they don't follow the usual structure. Broken into three parts, each concentrates on a different aspect of the story while they, in succession, follow a continual arc. Some readers might find this off-putting. I'm not really sure. I quite enjoyed it. Because while the first is a typical setup to the story and introduces the relationship between Gabe and Harvey, the second and third both have a somewhat separate plot, though they're tied together. But you do get the feeling, between the transition between Parts 2 and 3, that there's a bit of a jog. And consequently, you'll find two climaxes (one at the end of each part) around the 55% mark and the end of the book.
Nikyta noticed this as well and made a remark to me about it (in our many back and forth book gabbing emails) and probably described it better than I did, asking if I had noticed authors using this style more lately, the (in her words) "multiple mini stories in one book of the same couple" style. We both automatically thought of Megan Derr, who sometimes writes in a similar though pretty different style from what I'm describing in Spirit Sanguine. Perhaps it's that Gabe and Harvey really only have two distinct adventures and Megan Derr often writes books that are split between the many adventures one couple has, a sort of extended vignette style. Nik thought that maybe it was a style that was becoming more popular. I'm not sure, but suffice to say that it is something that we've both enjoyed. And definitely something that I found made Lou Harper's book infinitely more original -- though, of course, anything with a vampire named Harvey Feng could hardly be called conventional.
OMG! The best ending ever! Okay, I really don't mean to make people upset, I put up like 1% of books I read early on Goodreads, but even though I'm no...moreOMG! The best ending ever! Okay, I really don't mean to make people upset, I put up like 1% of books I read early on Goodreads, but even though I'm not posting my review until tomorrow, I just want to make sure that all of you preorder this book (and buy the ones before it if you haven't), they're really wonderful.
Okay, straight up… let's get this first thing out of the way. Don't expect this review to be necessarily eloquent or far-thinking or in any way an analysis of the book or series. I just don't have that in me at this point. What this review IS… is an immediate reaction to reading this third and final book of the series; a book which I've been eagerly awaiting for quite a while now. In fact, I've been thinking about this last book ever since reading the first, Mind Magic, back in 2012. Normally that doesn't happen for me, I'm not sure where the story is going. But, and maybe some of you who have read the books can understand me in this, but I felt like (in reading that first book) that the series had a clearly outlined direction, firmly delineated by the names of the books and the separate romances, which mirror the way that magic is first described to us in this world, in a triangle and points of three -- three kinds of magic, three different romances, and three different books. The harmony of all of those things are what the series is working towards and Poppy did a wonderful job in satisfying my need for those things to come full circle.
We start this third book with most of the essentials already firmly in hand, with the base of the story firmly established so that the threads immediately start to come together for the final picture the moment the story starts. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to me to become absorbed in a fantasy (or paranormal, but these series tend to be fantasy) series where I'm pulling the threads together on my own as I'm reading, putting the pieces together, only to have them be swept out of the way in the final confrontation or ending by a deus ex machina or even a plausible ending that is somewhat foretold but doesn't take those threads I pulled together into account. In this series, I felt the planning throughout and that it was important to this book, which I appreciated.
Here's a summation of the first two books: (view spoiler)[Now, back to what I was saying after that tangent. We start this book with two soild romances under our belt and a pretty firm idea that this book will concentrate on another -- Cormac and Liam -- the very much alive ancestor and vampire to Simon and Gray's beta of the High Moon Pack. We know that Simon started this story by rescuing a group of wolf cubs from a demon that was working with his own mage teacher who was stealing his magic, and that by rescuing the cubs he made himself friend to the wolf pack and mate to their alpha, Gray. In the second book, Body Magic, we go further and learn that there is a man with unimaginable power who was directing both those people (for lack of a better word) and that they're in even more dire straits than before. In this book, you'll learn exactly who that person is and what threat they possess. The clues are all there are the start of the book and I bet some of you have already guessed the direction this book is going, in fact may have already guessed who that person is who attacked the pack during the mating ceremony in the second book (hint: you'll get there eventually, knowing that Cormac is the focus of this last book). (hide spoiler)]
But really, even though we get to know Cade and Rocky better in Body Magic and Cormac and Liam better in this book, the main star of this series is Simon, and beside him Gray and their family and pack. But Simon's magic and his exploration of his powers remains the main thread of this story that draws all the others together. I want to mention, at this point, that the setup of this series really pleased me and is something that I'm not sure I've seen very much in the past. I was originally a bit upset at the start of the second book, thinking that we were leaving Simon and Gray behind and moving to a new couple when their story wasn't really finished. But, what Poppy has done with the series is make Simon and Gray the main couple, and even though she introduces new characters and their romances in each book (including their own chapters) she never abandoned that first couple. I really loved that, not only because Simon and Gray and even Gray's son and the alpha-heir Garon were why I originally fell in love with the story, but because Simon's importance to the series means that he can't be abandoned. He's the star.
Now I'm going to go back on my word :)
I think some analysis of the series as a whole is due here. I want to describe why I think I fell in love with this series at the first book and just why it has remained with me. In past, I've equated my intense connection and love of a story with it's length. The more time I spend with the characters, the more I get to know them and the bigger the world is, the more detailed, the more I'm drawn into it and the less I want to leave. That didn't happen here. I was immediately drawn into this world -- three books, which in the fantasy world are rather short novels. And I think, now that I've finished all of them, I know why. There is a clarity of purpose in the writing and a lack of verbosity to get the author's point across. I'm not sure why this is. Maybe it's in planning. But the world is brought through the characters and their love of it. There's very little detail, compared to those others I'm so used to becoming engrossed in, of the world. And there is also, I must point out, what I felt to be perfect pacing. That is what really brought the story through for me. You can't say that it is necessarily action-packed, but you can say that there aren't any needless words. The story is succinct, to the point, and there is a somewhat heavy emphasis on the non-romance plot as opposed to the romance-centered plot, which nevertheless felt quite balanced to me because those characters and their relationships came across to me so clearly.
I hope that come across in the way I intended, and I'd absolutely LOVE to hear from those of you who are fans of this series and how you feel about it, now and after you've read the third book.
Now, I've rambled enough. But I do want to take one last minute to urge those of you who are new to this author or series to take a chance on these books. I can't tell you that you'll love them the way I do, but I do think you'll enjoy them.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Oh Kaje… you did it again! I was thrilled (to say the least) when I saw that Kaje had a new novel (a very LONG no...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Oh Kaje… you did it again! I was thrilled (to say the least) when I saw that Kaje had a new novel (a very LONG novel) coming at the Samhain site and even more excited when I was able to procure a review copy early. It's been a couple months since I first read this, but I didn't really fall into the trap of reading a book and not writing the review right away. Well, I did, but it didn't matter because I really liked this book so much that I had no trouble reading it again.
Mike lives with his sister and her husband. It's a nice arrangement. Mike is able to be a part of a nuclear family and it helps stave off the loneliness, but there are some difficulties. Like most siblings, his sister doesn't have a problem inserting herself into his life. And she brings up some valid points, which is probably why it grates on his nerves so much. Mike is a pathologist by day but a real book lover by night. And his only real social interaction apart from his family comes from his long time internet friend. They talk almost every day, discussing books and Mike has grown to really care for his friend.
Without realizing it, Mike and his internet friend fall into the awkward category of being rather intimate friends but not really knowing each other at all. When Kellen asks to meet up for coffee, Mike's neuroses come out to play. Somehow, though Mike can't understand why, Kellen seems to really like him. What Mike doesn't like about himself, Kellen finds charming… like his nerves and clumsiness. And Kellen turns out to be even better in person. To Mike, he seems cool, collected, and incredibly handsome.
Over time, Mike and Kellan grow closer in person, but having to deal with significant real life roadblocks that interrupt their new relationship. It seems like when one of them is smooth sailing the other is dealing with a crisis. It doesn't really help that Mike feels incredibly vulnerable in new, choppy waters. He might be incredibly intelligent and (though he chooses to live with his sister and brother in law) rather successful, but romantically, Mike is just a teenager. At the same time, Kellen refuses to share his burdens which grow over time to be almost unbearable. No matter how naturally they might seem to work together, their choices and fears lead them to build an unstable relationship. And it will take real work to turn it all around into something healthy and stable.
When I first started writing this review, I almost said that I was excited about this book because it's so solid. I realize that's not a great descriptor, but what I mean by that is that I feel like when I get a book from Kaje Harper to read, I know that I'll get a story that is really explored, detailed and have a fulfilling read. This was definitely the case with Sole Support. Like her other characters from past books I've also loved, Kellen and Mike came across so honestly and so fleshed out. And though it helps to have a particularly long novel to read when you really like the story, as it was here, that isn't the reason why I felt this way. This is a story about real life, real relationships and real issues, which make it both heartening to read and also at times heartbreaking. It's rare for me to find a book where the characters have to deal with such issues, yet don't delve into their own angst needlessly.
Part of the beauty of this story is how Kaje wrote Kellen's mother, who suffers from advanced dementia. We witness her slow decline, which is utterly heartbreaking, but more upsetting to watch is the correlating decline of the caregiver, Kellen, and the issues he has to deal with. The issue is handled with care and with intense empathy, and it's no surprise that Kaje dedicates this book to all caregivers.
I love slow romances, and I really fell in love with Kellen and in particular, Mike. I can't help but recommend this book to everyone. It's a perfect example of the writing talent of Kaje Harper and also an incredibly touching story. And though the characters go through some real turmoil, they come out in the end better people for it. I was carried along for the ride and in the end, it felt cathartic. I have no complaints. I forgot I was even reading this for review most of the time. I just enjoyed the story.(less)
It's time for another Jack Greene review and giveaway! Jack is so wonderful because whenever he sends me a book t...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
It's time for another Jack Greene review and giveaway! Jack is so wonderful because whenever he sends me a book to review he always offers a giveaway. And was I ever excited to read and review this book. For the past few stories that Jack has published, I've known that a full novel, his first, was in the works. I was interested to see what kind of story Jack would write for his first novel and how it would pan out. I've been a fan of his stories for a few years now, but he has a definite style -- short and heavy on sex.
I was really pretty blown away by what I saw. I say I've been a fan for a while now, but I've never given Jack the top rating; I've never loved one of his books, though I've liked many of them quite a bit. Still, I warn you that this won't be everyone's cup of tea. While I loved it, I know many won't. A fundamental part of the story is cheating, no if ands or buts about it and that will bother many. But, it doesn't usually bother me, and I could see that there were steps taken to lessen the impact, like having Chris' wife be rather standoffish. Chris even wonders if she's having an affair too, and there are some details that lead you to believe that might be the case. There aren't any wallowing in hurt feelings. Still, those sensitive to cheating in all forms will definitely want to steer clear.
I think what I loved the most about this book is that Jack did exactly what I always wanted. In reading his short stories, they usually ended before we really got into the characters and their problems, neuroses, etc. We just didn't get to know them as well as we could have and most of the emphasis in those stories was based on the sex. I usually categorize them as erotica. That's great, I love erotica as well as romance. And I hope that he isn't upset when I admit how surprised I was to find this novel so different than those stories. Not only do we get deep into the characters, but the emphasis here is definitely on romance, no matter how gritty and raunchy their sex gets. (and it's goooood…)
The basis of the story is a classic "Gay for You" story. Chris has always been straight, and he's generally an honorable man. He's never cheated on his wife and he does love her. But they've grown apart after six years of marriage, settling into a sibling-like friendship and living like barely speaking roommates. So when he meets a man who shows him some attention on a business trip, he runs with it, surprising himself by his attraction. With little angst about what that attraction means, Chris dives headfirst into his illicit relationship. In fact, he has a bigger issue in trying to earn Leif's trust and get to know the surly and complicated man than in investigating his own feelings. He only knows that he's falling head first for someone he never thought he would, while at the same time trying to lesson the hurt he's causing to his wife.
I liked quite a bit about this book. I liked that we get to see the relationship past the "marriage" phase and into the two building a life together. I like that Chris straddles the line of his own honor but still remained likable to me. And mostly, I liked the character Jack created in Leif, who remains an enigma right up until the very last page, where I finally felt like I understood him. The delivery of information about Leif is subtle and given to us in small bits, so that we get to know Leif like Chris does.
I can only surmise that all those short stories Jack wrote simply gave him lots of writing practice for his first novel, because I was really blown away by how much I enjoyed it. I'll be thinking of this couple for a while and I would love for Jack to continue writing novels. Of course, I don't want him to stop writing those super sexy shorts either ;)(less)
I really loved this -- it completely swept me away. This morning I was looking for a fantasy story, light on sex that wasn't too dark but wasn't fluff...moreI really loved this -- it completely swept me away. This morning I was looking for a fantasy story, light on sex that wasn't too dark but wasn't fluffy. I needed something that would take me away and that I could really, really get into. And this book was perfect. Not only did I adore the characters, happy with the balance between lighthearted and serious moments and was excited by the world building, but I was really delighted by the writing. This is the first book I've read by James Erich, but I'll definitely be reading the others. And I intend to start the second book immediately! What is so beautiful about this book is how well it is constructed, not only as a complete novel, but especially as the start to a series. I finished the book with more questions than when I started, not upset but totally eager to find out the answers in the next book.
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 have to say, this might be the cutest story I've read all year!
Ryan is just admitting to himself that he likes guys, but it is difficult and scary keeping such a secret in high school, especially when his only friend has a lot to say about "fags." He's scared to get close, in any way, to Jamie, the queer kid. It is social suicide. When he draws his name for Secret Santa in their study hall, Ryan has to figure out a way to make three gifts for Jamie without them knowing it came from him. The problem, is that now Ryan has started noticing Jamie, he can't get him out of his head -- and he starts to see just how hard a time Jamie has in school. Maybe he can make a few gifts to cheer Jamie up.
Not only is this well written, plotted, paced, and pretty much everything I could think of, this is such a feel good story, a perfect young adult story… it is just completely heartwarming. I knew I wanted to read and review this immediately when Madison contacted me. I mean, knitting…young adult boys… secret santa. It just sounded cute. But then I heard from a friend that they loved this story and I just couldn't wait to read it -- I barely made it through finishing the novel I was reading before jumping in. And it completely lived up to my expectations. Sometimes the best thing about a story is the way it makes you feel, and this will give you the warm fuzzies. You'll fall in love with Ryan and Jamie -- the latter because he needs a good cuddle, and Ryan because he's so honorable, yet still a confused kid. He's the kind of guy you want to champion, yet still give him a gentle kick the in ass to get him back on track, simply because Jamie needs a champion of his own. I loved them both.
And it made me want to knit a sock monkey!
So, I definitely recommend this story and I'll be looking out for this author's work in the future :) It's a perfect story for the stressed out holidays! So for those of you eating Turkey today (or tofurkey, or yams and potatoes and stuffing), take this story with you to your family dinner and sneak out when the bickering starts! It will make you feel warm and happy again :)(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)
I get so excited when a novel by Megan Derr is released, and even though I love when it is part of a series that...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I get so excited when a novel by Megan Derr is released, and even though I love when it is part of a series that I already enjoy, every now and then there is one like this, that is part of a new series or a standalone. I love those the most because the part of Megan Derr's novels that are so exciting to me are the world building, and this novel doesn't disappoint on that count. I can only hope that she'll continue in this world too, but then if she doesn't, I know there will be other books to enjoy :)
The key to the first part of this story is in the last paragraph in the blurb -- and pay attention -- "solving a murder is the easiest challenge they face." Readers who aren't as familiar with Megan Derr's work as some might not expect the format and romance in this novel and it might come as a surprise. So in order that you won't be surprised and maybe turned off, not only is this a novel in three parts, but it is also a novel with three romances (though only two of the romances are narrated, the third are other characters, which while important to the story, are less present than the others). The first third of the story is what the blurb talks about and the murder mystery. So I think, in this case, it's pretty important that you pay attention to that line in the blurb that says they find it pretty easy to figure out the culprit (because it is) and that the rest of the book is what is difficult for them.
That mystery is really the setup to the big story, and in a way this works like a series all in one novel. I liked that we were able to read it all together though, and it really brings out the world to be able to see different aspects of it all at once. The different parts introduce new types of magical users to us, all of which bring the world to the place it should be.
The basis of the story is a court of equal parts royalty, warriors and priests. The warriors are called paladins (led by High Paladin Sorin) and use a type of Goddess magic that allows them to fight demons -- once people who used dark magic and turned into thoughtless, remorseless killers intent on draining the souls from people. Then there are the priests, who commune with the Goddess and use healing magic. In the first part of the novel, Sorin finds the brutally dismembered body of his best friend and cousin Alfrey (a priest) in his locked room in the royal palace. The answers are few and in consultation with the high priest, Sorin receives a message from the Goddess that he will need the help of another practitioner of magic, something that the High Priest felt might be some kind of dark magic. Sorin has to continually change his worldview when he meets Koray, a necromancer, because even though he knows that they're evil and one step away from becoming demons, the Goddess tells him that Koray is the one he's meant to deal with. Only the things that he knows about necromancers don't seem to be true. Not only will they have a difficult time finding the culprit and dealing with them, but they'll have an even bigger trouble convincing the rest of the people to open their minds, not just about necromancers, but maybe the way they've been dealing with demons as well.
This is right in line with all of the other books by Derr that I've loved so much. They're such easy reads, easy to get into and I always enjoy the characters. Derr fans will really like this one, and of course like always, I always want other readers who aren't familiar with her work to read it. Definitely Recommended!(less)
Oh Amy! You slay me!! How do you do it? Seriously! Every book I read I think, this is my new favorite couple! And...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Oh Amy! You slay me!! How do you do it? Seriously! Every book I read I think, this is my new favorite couple! And then I think… but what about all the other ones I love, they're still great! I guess I'll just have to find room in my heart to love them all, and move over because Quent and Jace have just climbed to the top of the (very sexy) pile.
Quentin and Jase have been best friends ever since their days in college. It has now been eight years (four in school, and four since) and they're still best friends, yet now also business partners. Quent is devoted to Jase and Jase is a unique man who for all his surly temper and difficulty defining life in non-poker terms, feels very deeply. Their friendship is rock solid, a true bromance. They both are "straight" -- well, Quent is straight only because there's no point who he dates and sleeps with because Jase is all he needs and Jase well, no one really knows anything about him until he lays his cards on the table. They're both obsessed with poker, but well, Quents obsession is with Jase and Jase's obsession is really just his way of defining the world around him, which is the way one of the uncles who raised him taught him. This is their adventure into turning their friendship into a real relationship.
I have to say that I didn't quite expect this story. I don't know why but the thought of poker made me think this was some sort of underworld gambling ring story and what I found was the epitome of everything I love about Amy's writing. The story is really only about these guys, but poker is their language -- a deadly serious language, sure. But it isn't a business or career path, it is the central role in how Jase relates to the world and as such how he relates to Quent. I loved both of these guys. They came through for me faster than most characters do and even though it took a while to get to know them, just as in any story, I had connected to them from the first page. Partly this is the way the story is told, heavy on voice and narration, and partly it is the plot. Their history together is shown throughout the story in recollections and memories (not flashbacks), so the story starts right at the catalyst in the transition of their relationship. That drew me immediately.
I am so happy that 1) I got to meet Amy at GRL; 2) I bought this book in paperback at GRL; and 3) that I decided to start reading Amy's books (one a week folks!). But… I am disappointed that I was talking to Amy about Clear Water (ohhh Whiskey!) and I could have been talking about these guys! Jeez, what was I thinking? I can't recommend this book enough, especially to those of you who like Amy's writing but aren't so up on the angst. I seriously, felt like this books was written for me. I loved it that much. Thank god I can read it again whenever I want!
Sure, this is a fanboy review. I know it. But I deserve one of those every now and then and this one deserves getting one. So, go on now, if you haven't read it, read it now!(less)
I have meant to read this story since its release in the summer of 2011. In fact, I had told Barry in New Orleans...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I have meant to read this story since its release in the summer of 2011. In fact, I had told Barry in New Orleans that I'd read it and review it for it and I just never got around to it. Well, it must have been the universe telling me to get on with it, because I won the book in paperback along with some other books and prizes at the Comedy Hour event at GRL. And I knew that now that I had it in paperback, I really wanted to read it as soon as possible. So as I went through my massive bag of paperbacks I brought home, I picked it out first and started to read it. I was enthralled, immediately, into the story and voice of Micah, who things just never seem to go right for.
This is a difficult story to summarize. At it's heart, it is the story of Micah Malone -- in many ways typical gay young man, but also with a (somewhat/at times) atypical storyline. Micah tends to be quite melodramatic and campy, but that's what you gotta love about him. He has a very original voice and his film and TV obsession is shown through obscure references throughout the story. The book is very voice and narrative focused, which in Micah's life is all screenplay based, so we're first introduced to him and his circle of friends with a Dramatis Personae. The story follows Micah has he trudges through life at a young age -- college, friendships, sex and relationships. The focus isn't romance, though some does come into the story in the last half, but instead Micah himself, that that is what made the novel so successful for me. Not only does the format of the writing echo his personality so perfectly (untraditional, and often like a screenplay), but it isn't tied to the typical romance "rules". It threw me a curveball or two, and I loved that.
This book made me a fan of Barry Brennessel for life, even though I've read a few of this other things. No matter if the next three things I read of his I don't like, I'll always take a chance and read something he's written, because he proved to me with Tinseltown that he is a phenomenal author. Also, quite a funny one. This book had me doubled over laughing. I'd recommend this to anyone, as long as you know not to expect romance right away.(less)
From all that I can find, JC Lillis is a brand new author, and if this book is any idea of the quality of work th...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
From all that I can find, JC Lillis is a brand new author, and if this book is any idea of the quality of work that she'll produce in the future, I'm a fan for life. Rarely have I ever picked up a book I knew nothing about and loved it quite so much, even waiting almost two whole weeks to write a review of it. I first heard about this book when I saw it on JC Lillis' twitter page and enjoyed the artwork on the cover -- that's what drew me in. The blurb only made me more intrigued.
And you should be -- this young adult novel follows Brandon (along with his friends Abel and Bec during the whole summer after high school) across the US as they visit the series of five Castie-Cons for their favorite show, Starship Planet. Bran and Abel are super-fans (like SUPER.FANS) who first met online and bonded over their obsession, and later became co-vloggers, devoted to the show. Abel loves Captain Cadmus and Bran loves Sim, something which they argue about endlessly! But the one thing they can agree on is their mutual hatred of the "Cadsim" shippers and their rival blog that is devoted to the fanfiction written about the relationship between the show's two stars, Cadmus and Sim. Why, WHY? does everyone assume that they're secretly gay and together -- Bran and Abel are convinced that some people just can't accept that not everyone is really gay and they're fed up with the shippers who think they are.
So, as their road trip summer approaches, they make a bet. At each con they'll ask the question: Do you think Cadmus and Sim are secretly getting it on? to each visiting star of the cast during Q&A, and if any of them answer in the affirmative, Bran and Abel will act out one of their fanfic scenes and post it online. If they're right, and the cast obviously thinks nothing happens between the characters, then the creators of the rival blog will have to sign a document bowing to the awesomeness of Bran and Abel and admit that the two characters would never work together. It's a fool's bet, or so they think. But surprises on the road change the game for both of them.
Okay, so, that sounds super awesome, right? First of all, they're total geeks, which I love. Also, the blurb is written so well and it is so witty, that I was hoping it would bode well for the novel itself. And I honestly had no complains -- none -- about the story at all. In fact, I'm making myself wait a whole month before reading it again. The beauty of the story is the relationship between Bran and Able. Able is the gregarious and sometimes flamboyant of the pair, with lots of sexual misadventures and a style all his own (I loved seeing what he wore from each truck stop they made!). Bran is different, in many ways because of the internet (I'm getting there…). Raised in a devout family, Bran's recent years have been difficult in a family built on secrets and repression. His family loves him, but they also believe he's made a bad choice, not by coming out, but by being gay in the first place. He's continually harassed by their pastor, who always seems to want to have a chat with him. The internet and his heavy presence there, is like a shining beacon for him to represent the best of himself. And.. you can see where this is going… that is how lies are started. At the start of this trip, Bran has found himself in a place where everyone who knows him (save Bec, who he knows from childhood) thinks he's someone completely different than he really is. And of all these people, the ones he's afraid of finding out the truth the most is Abel. Keeping the secrets and using convenient lies like a horrible ex to say why he isn't dating, are easy online and seeing Abel once or twice a month, but together 24/7? It's going to be hard.
Add in a new, ultra-secret group intent on exposing their lives online makes Bran even more paranoid as they stop in each city, putting Bran and Abel at odds and their friendship is put to a severe test when almost nothing turns out to be what they expected.
That might be the LONGEST summary I've ever written! But, there's just so much about this book, and so many different threads weaved throughout. It is really masterfully written with a real flare for voice and style and a huge dose of vulnerability and appropriate teenaged angst. There's nothing I hate more than a whiny teenager, and I was so happy that this author didn't fall into that trap. Bran's issues are extremely real and sometimes quite heavy. The writing is so centered in who he is that it's like a part of him with no separation, like his real feelings come across without filter. So, it affected me, quite a lot. He's really pretty messed up, and in an identifiable way to most people who will probably read this.
Another thing that made this novel a pure pleasure to read was the humor. It is so freaking hilarious that I almost couldn't take it at times. I had so many different quotes and notes on this book in my Kindle, probably more than any book previously, because some of the lines are so funny that I couldn't bear not to mark them and then chat with my reading buddies (Laura and Tina, also in love with this book!). I wish I could share some of them, but I lost them all with my brand new Kindle a few days ago. Anyway, I'll just have to read this again and make another post with quotes or something, because the amount of one-liners you could take from this book astounds me :)
I left this book till last in my reviews because it is the best. And that is saying a lot up against a book like Tinseltown. But, even though I loved both and they both were similar in some ways, like the TV trivia-spouting characters and the unique voice and style, for me this book won out simply because it was such a pure pleasure to read. At times it was emotionally wrenching, something I have a particularly hard time reading if I'm expecting it, but I've still thought about this book at least once a day even so long after finishing it.
And it is only $2.99. Seriously! I kid you not. It's a steal -- and I would have paid three times the price for it and still felt it was worth every penny. I have a feeling that this will be my #1 most pimped out book this year, something I might have been comfortable with if I had read it in March instead of October. So please, do yourself a favor and go buy it. Then, spend this weekend getting to know the two cutest, funniest, and most lovable geeks in print. You'll be happy you did -- I promise!(less)