These two authors have been one of my favorite writing teams for a while now, and I knew that I wanted...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
These two authors have been one of my favorite writing teams for a while now, and I knew that I wanted to review this book before I'd even heard of it or read the blurb. So when I finally did read the blurb I was even more exited, especially for such a long book. And finishing it took me a couple of days, mostly just because I wanted to enjoy it, so I spent my time reading it totally for pleasure and enjoying every twist and turn.
Evan St. John and Will Trask have a tumultuous past. Roommates their Freshman year of college at Columbia, they soon grow to be friends. Evan is openly gay and an art photography student, always carrying around his camera, while Will is a manly jock through and through. For reasons that Evan never understands, Will sticks by him and the bullying he was experiencing dwindles when people start to realize that Will will aways have his back. As they grow closer Evan starts to understand Will better, including Will's White Knight Complex, his need to protect and care for those he loves, to an almost fanatical, save-the-day to-the-rescue level.
Their dynamic changes when Evan's sister is dying of cancer and their relationship grows during the emotional period -- Evan is distraught and barely keeping himself afloat while trying to understand and come to terms with her turn for the worse. And Will picks up the slack, in more ways than expected. But the grief sends Evan running to Paris and three years go by, where Evan becomes a famous fashion photographer taken on by The House of Nadasdy, run by famous and infamous Elizabeth Nadasdy, and Will becomes an agent with the FBI.
We're first introduced to Evan in Like the Night as he escapes Paris during the day to fly to New York City and seek help from Will. He's a newly made vampire under the gruesome and tyrannical rule of Elizabeth Nadasdy, a modern day remnant of her famous human days as Elizabeth of Bathory. Above all (except herself), she loves beauty and hoards a collection of "children" all turned by her for their extraordinary beauty, which she believes deserves to be preserved for eternity. Evan was a prize for her, and his rejection of her extraordinary "gift" is tantamount to the ultimate betrayal, something she relishes punishing him for. But Elizabeth doesn't expect the trouble it will take to find and deal with Evan. With him, someone whose beauty hides his intelligence and cunning, are a group of allies who seek one common goal: the eradication of Elizabeth Nadasdy. And of course Evan has Will, his White Knight, ready to stand in front of any threat to his best friend.
I really just loved this book. I took a while to read it because it is long, but it is also totally packed with plot and, just about everything under the sun, making the book seem even longer than it is. There's an economy to the writing which gives you SO much story for just the first book of a series that it gave me the time and the opportunity to really sink into the story. What came through in this story most strongly for me was the pervasive mood of fear and impending doom. This is all because of the fact that Elizabeth is built up to such supervillain status that she's made to be almost omniscient, with unlimited power. Add to this a connection between vampires and their sire, or maker, and the fact that Elizabeth could peek in on Evan at any moment and even make him do things or spy on his relationship with Will, or their planned resistance of her make the story suffused with tension.
I found the villainous characters in this novel to be quite interesting. We have Elizabeth who is the typical diabolical character. She relishes in the pain of others and not only causes death and despair because it gets her something (money, fame, power, etc.) but also because she enjoys the suffering of others. She firmly believes that she's more worthy than anyone else to have the status that she does because of her beauty and the vision she has for the future. But, sometimes diabolical is boring. No matter how outrageously cruel Elizabeth can be, she's still a character that doesn't take too much effort to understand. My favorite villainous character is her daughter Anna, who I suspect will become a crucial and central character to the future books. Anna is raised in the shadow of her diabolical mother. She's always second best, but raised to revel in the same cruelties as her mother. She's made a vampire both because of her beauty which is similar to her mother's, but also as a gift from her. But hundreds of years of oppression make Anna rather different from her mother. Though I suspect that they both have similar depth of cruel possibility inherently in them, Anna's choices are governed by her hate of her mother and her acceptance that her only meaning to her mother is what she can do for her. That makes her cruel, but much more interesting than her mother. And of course, it's going to be great when the two really turn on one another ;)
Anyway, I'm super excited for the second book. I hope it isn't too far away. But honestly, I can't really be sad because this is the first book in a while (that is the first book of a series) that actually gives us enough story to satisfy us for the first installment. 123k words is pretty long, yes, but it allows the book to give full and adequate world-building while also giving us a real story that will be carried on in the second part. We have a full and self-standing plot with only a few loose ends to pick up in the next book. If this is the case for the next books as well, then I can only imagine where this story will go before it ends!
I decided to pick this up to read and review on a whim. It's actually been quite a while since I've rea...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I decided to pick this up to read and review on a whim. It's actually been quite a while since I've read any BDSM, I just haven't been in the mood a much this year. And it's been a while since I've read a standalone LA Witt book, so I was excited to dig in and see what I thought of it. I really like the BDSM stories that are set at Leather conventions. I think it all comes down to my curiosity as to what going to one would really be like. Plus, now that I've been to a convention I sortof get the atmosphere there, and though it fluctuates wildly from one event to another, there is an excitement inherent in coming together with other people who share a common interest. Because of that, it means that a character can be whoever they want to be during their vacation, especially at a place where role-play and scene play offer a possible diversion from one's typical personality.
Chase and Derek have been friends for a long time. They're traveling to the convention together and sharing a room, and their unspoken attraction to one another has gone… well, unspoken up to this point. That is, until they sleep together their first night. But right when the clothes start flying and Chase is gearing up to put on his Dom voice, Derek asks if they just play vanilla. It's a good idea (most likely) and a slap in the face at the same time to Chase, who has always admired Derek and his mind-blowing ability to sub so beautifully for different Doms. Why won't he sub for Chase? And does it have anything to do with the fact that Derek is set to meet his longtime crush and internet friend, the popular Master Raul?
Meanwhile, Chase is going through his own problems. His three year relationship with Ian recently bit the dust. And even though their last year together was terrible, complete with Ian cheating and lying and finally walking out on him, facing the end of what was originally a perfect relationship and Dom/sub connection and trying to move on are much harder in practice. The problem is compounded by the fact that Ian is at the convention and seems to be eager to speak to Chase and sort things through.
Neither of them expected how difficult it would be to deal with their crush and admiration of the other while having to spend so much time together in close quarters. And it isn't just their room situation. Watching the other participate in scenes with other Doms and subs leads them both to the conclusion that the one they really want is right next to them, and that they've already decided to put their valued friendship above all else.
One thing that I know about LA Witt is that as far as the Spectrum of Angst goes, any one of her books could be anywhere. She's good at writing really angsty books and sometimes she writes books where the level of angst could be through the roof but because of the characters, who don't wallow or have a lot of internal dialogue, there isn't anyway. This fell somewhere in the middle for me, and it was a bit frustrating. No matter how much I liked the setup and most of the characters, a lot of that internal waffling back and forth was just a little much for me. It's one of those books where you just want to lock the characters in a room together, slowly filling with… water, or a biological agent, or something to get them to freaking talk to each other! It isn't as if I misunderstood or judged the characters. It's hard to think about having feelings for a friend, I've been there. But, I also have a hard time dealing with that in the fiction I read. It's personal taste. And that is my main disclaimer about this book. I think LA Witt is a good enough writer to draw the connections needed to help the reader understand why the characters make the decisions they make. That doesn't mean, however, that readers will be all that pleased with it. It is just my opinion and my own understanding of fellow readers, but I think that there will be some readers who find the back and forth annoying. And they'll probably be a lot less nice about it than me, lol. At least, that's how it usual goes.
On the other hand, I enjoyed reading the story. Including my feelings about the characters' lack of communication, I still liked this book even though I had one other problem with it. I liked both Chase and Derek for the most part through the whole books, but I did find Derek to be somewhat hypocritical at times, which bothered me. Plusses to the author for including scenes with other men. Even though it causes a fair amount of angst and Derek and Chase aren't technically together (like how you usually get in those situations, with an open and healthy relationship), I still enjoyed those parts of the book. I would have looked forward to them anyway, because it's something that I like in my m/m romance (where it fits), but I actually enjoyed those scenes for themselves as well. They all included secondary characters I really liked, especially the two bears and even Master Raul, who I was unsure of at first and firmly expecting to hate purely for Chase's sake ;)
This is a solid offering from LA Witt, but still has many elements that I think will turn off some readers. Perhaps, though, we'll see that the parameters for m/m BDSM readers are a little more open...(less)
I wish I had an award to give out to this book! The Sweetest, Most Heartfelt, Make Me Go Gooey award. For those r...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I wish I had an award to give out to this book! The Sweetest, Most Heartfelt, Make Me Go Gooey award. For those readers that take a chance on this book (and I'll go ahead and say I bet it'll probably be less than should), you're going to find a book that is both a classic love story and at the same time unique in the romance world. The focus of this story is on love itself, in it's most pure form, without sexuality (well, there's a little bit of it, but it's not the point) and while doing that, it whittles down the relationship to it's purest form. It just hits a note early on that really harmonized with me. I felt like -- as soon as I started the book -- I got it and I was there with it right to the very end.
Imaginary starts with the line Aaron is five the first time he sees James. Aaron is a lonely orphan, raised in the foster system and bounced from home to home until he lands with Tiffany and Shaw, a travesty of a pair of parents that make Aaron know very well that they only want him for the paycheck he gets them. His dirty clothes and lack of toys mean that he's set apart from the other kids. So when Aaron sees a boy sitting on the fence around the field near his house, he introduces himself and finds a friend that seems interested in all the same thing he is -- running through the field and exploring the forest and the rabbit warrens, making up their own games. The gig is up, though, when the gossip-happy Tiffany tells Aaron that no boy named James lives in their neighborhood. And James is silent on answers. He doesn't have any. He doesn't know who his parents are or where his house is. He doesn't remember anything before meeting Aaron except wandering around and being lonely.
Aaron is frustrated and angry that no one seems to believe him that James is real. Like all kids with imaginary friends, he's told he'll grow out of it, though Aaron talking to James around Tiffany or Shaw is a recipe for punishment and the threat of sending him away. Aaron learns to stop talking about James, but James doesn't go away. As Aaron grows up over a series of ten years, James seems to grow with him, through puberty, making new friends and the confusing feelings about girls and Aaron's feelings about them in relation to his best friend James.
Aaron doesn't know if anyone will ever be able to see James besides him. But James means too much to him to ignore.
No matter the fact that the story is similar to a few that I've read/seen before in books and movies, I still couldn't see the direction that this story was headed. I'm glad that I didn't, I got to enjoy the story as it was intended, growing up with both boys and like them, not knowing the possibilities of their future, apart and hopefully together. It's a story that produces natural angst, but despite tween and teenager years the story never delves into it. It remains a sense of purity, the same sort of purity and innocence that James brings to Aaron.
It's truly a beautiful story and for most of it, I read it wearing a smile. It's definitely a recommended read. I liked that the story was heavier on their earlier years as quite young boys and then more quickly moved through the 12-15 years, though I would have liked more story at the end.
For those looking for a sweet read, definitely check this one out. I feel lucky that I got to read it ahead of time and I wholeheartedly want to support it and make sure that more people are aware it. If you like sweet stories that aren't fluff but have little to no sex then this is a good fit for you. And no matter how you might feel about the story's execution, I challenge all of you who read it to not find it beautiful, heartfelt and touching :)
Note: This is by far, The BEST cover that I've seen from LT3, made by HM Burns and London Burden. It drew me to the story in the first place and it is perfect for the story.(less)
I am pretty sure that though I'm familiar with Tracy Rowan, this is the first book of her's that I've read. I was intrigued by the blurb -- this seemed like it would be a light, kind of funny book, tongue-in-cheek and pretty snarky. For the most part, that is what this is. But I was surprised by two things, the m/f scenes (with a pretty big dose of girly parts, for me anyway!), and the really serious romance ambits the humorous narration. The first half of the book, I wasn't quite sure how I felt about it. Frank is pretty emo, and while it isn't shown in an angst way or anything, I wanted the plot to move forward. That started to happen as I kept reading, and I found that I was really getting into the story and really liking the style of the writing.
Frank is… well he's a mess, really. He lives alone in the apartment above his landlady, an elderly and spunky woman. His life hasn't really moved forward since his high school days, and his emotions have stalled. He's still harboring the old hurts of high school, including his love of Rebecca Hansen, his very own Buffy. But Rebecca was a cheerleader, popular and had a boyfriend, a man that Frank loves to hate, even to this day for taking his girlfriend, as he sees it.
His life takes a drastic turn when he learns the truth of vampires. While coming home one night, he's accosted outside by his elderly landlady, Mrs. Carlson. She begs him for just a sip of his blood. The butcher gave away her pint of blood that day and she's unbearably hungry. The knowledge of the existence of vampires gives Frank hope that he can turn his life around. After all, everyone knows how dark and glamorous vampires are. It's the chance that Frank has been waiting for.
Mrs. Carlson obliges, but the change doesn't seem to … change him very much. He's still the same old awkward Frank. But he hasn't given up hope yet that something crazy and interesting will happen to him, and he knows immediately that he made the right choice when he runs into Will Chase, Rebecca's old boyfriend in high school and perfect in every way. He can finally get his revenge, targeting Will. He doesn't know how to handle the situation though, when Will turns out to be very different from what he expected. A strange kind of friendship forms between them when they find out how much they have in common. But vampirism did bring him something on value, a friend. A friend who can introduce him to Rebecca.
If you're thinking that this sounds totally wacky -- well, it really is. That's why I did have a bit of trouble getting into the first part of the story. Frank seemed very immature, even though I could see the charm in the story and in the writing. It's not outright funny, but I definitely had some chuckles here and there. But the characters, and their eccentricities are what are really funny here. And of course the real story is the developing relationship between Frank and Will as Will tries to set Frank up with Rebecca. To do so means that Frank has to make a lot of changes in his life, and the journey they take together to make that happen brings them even closer together.
I really quite liked the relationship between Frank and Will. While the rest of the story gave me a chuckle, the parts with these two characters together were the best part for me, and made this more than a so so book for me. There really isn't a "romance" between them until much later in the story, but I could see the development of their feelings long before that. Seeing them dance around that issues, as "straight men", made this an interesting dynamic.
I won't claim that this was a wonderful book. But I enjoyed reading it, and I really liked the main characters. Mrs. Carlson is also pretty awesome. So, if you're in the mood for light hearted and kinda funny, or are a fan of this author, this is definitely worth a read. It's cute, and at times beautiful when the two men finally get their act together.(less)
I want to preface this by saying that though there are a few universal problems I found with this book, it's larg...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I want to preface this by saying that though there are a few universal problems I found with this book, it's largely the style of the story that I didn't like, so my rating is entirely subjective in this case.
Caleb and Gabriel have been best friends since they were little. They grew up in the same town, the town near the boarding school they now attend. Gabriel is known as "The Prince", and he's very much perfect in every way -- his looks, his intelligence and academic dedication, and his good nature. Caleb is the bad boy of the pair, eager to defend his best friend, even with fists, and frequently being called out for bad behavior and marked down for his slovenly appearance. Both of the boys have their admirers at school, especially among the girls, who seem to take every chance to get one of them for themselves.
Caleb thinks their friendship is perfect -- well, he does feel a bit as if Gabriel doesn't need him anymore. Their whole lives Caleb was Gabriel's protector, confidante, and emotional lodestone. In many ways, Caleb acted as Gabriel's big brother until a few years ago, when Gabriel filled out, shot up and became even better looking than him. And suddenly it seemed as if he wasn't the vulnerable boy Caleb would protect to any lengths. In fact, things are changing. Gabriel still won't tell him and their two best friends (and boyfriends themselves) Elliot and Jinx, who he's in love with. For years he's been mooning over a secret girl, but just keeps telling them that it can't happen. Jinx, new in love and eternally optimistic, encourages Gabriel to visit the Bell Tower on campus at midnight on Valentines Day. The legend worked for him -- if you stand under the bell and listen to all twelve rings as you hold the picture of your love in your hand, your love will come true.
As I'm sure you've already guessed, Gabriel decides to chance it and it isn't a girl he's after. What he doesn't know, is that the legend is true, in a way.
I suppose that my first problem with this book was that it just wasn't what I was expecting. I mean, it's YA, but I didn't expect that from Dreamspinner. I figured that if it was YA it would be at Harmony Ink. And more than that, the characters are all really emotionally young. The problems they go through are all incredibly and easily solvable, but they're too young to have enough maturity to deal with them. Second, the prose is a little too overly sweet for me. It is something that might completely charm another reader, which is why I prefaced the review by saying how much more subjective this review is than normal, but I kept getting frustrated by how the characters acted. A lot of their actions and dialogue was supposed to be… cute, I think. But I just didn't really get it.
So, I really can't recommend this reader. I'm conflicted, in a way, because I'd actually like for many of you to read it so that I can hear what you think. I think many will feel the same as me, but I have a feeling that there will be many readers who really love this, something that I kept thinking the whole time I was reading it. So, if the blurb and summary interest you, give it a try. Maybe since you have an idea now of the story (YA, really sweetly written), it might not come as a surprise and therefore you might enjoy it more. If you read it, let me know!(less)
Your feelings about this story will hinge upon how you feel about the I Know What's Best For You plot d...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Your feelings about this story will hinge upon how you feel about the I Know What's Best For You plot device, also known as I'll Be Miserable so You Can Be Happy Without Your Choice in the Matter, or I Don't Want to Take a Chance and Ruin Our Friendship. That pretty much sums up this story where Henning, a gay man in love with his straight best friend Roar, can't believe what he's hearing from his friend as they talk over breakfast. Roar has just had his heart crushed in by another woman, and is thinking about giving them up all together. But, not as Henning thinks, for celibacy, but maybe to try out being with a man instead. It smacks of a ruse immediately, but Henning doesn't seem to catch on, no doubt under the impression that despite his feelings of secret love for his best friend, Roar could never want him in the same way. He's further surprised then, when Roar admits that if he is going to do this, have sex with a man and see what he thinks, he wants it to be someone he's comfortable with -- of course, Henning.
Overall, I doubt this story will be a big winner with many readers, for a few reasons. First, the GFY angle is a bit of a stretch, like a gay adolescent fantasy. It isn't the story itself, but the way it's approached from the beginning with the sudden revelation. Of course, it's incredibly sexy. Much of this story is centered around their sex scene and another m/m/m scene later where Roar really works through his feelings about Henning. I think that a lot of readers also have a bit of a problem (or, if not a problem it makes them roll their eyes a bit) when a character decides to not talk and ignore an issue for the good of another character, not allowing them to make their own choices. And while I can handle that in some instances (it isn't a problem for me outright), the fact that this is such a short story does mean that we don't get to know the characters or their situation well enough to pull off a good reason why Henning shouldn't confess his feelings for his best friend. It leaves the story in the midst of friendship where they're not talking about real issues or being honest, and that miscommunication takes up the whole story.
So, my positive feelings about this story really were only how sexy it was. Other than that, I didn't know the characters well enough to get past the whole "setup" feel of the story. Also, I just can't believe their names. Roar? Henning? Maybe… I don't know. This might not be the place to state how annoying I find the names recently in m/m, but I just can't stand that we're having such crazy names now. These were a little too out there for me. It made me wonder if this was set in a fantasy world or something!
So, I have to give this story a So So. The reason that it didn't get a Not Feeling It rating, which it almost did, was that while I was reading the story, I did enjoy it. It just made me roll my eyes a bit and made me frustrated trying to dig deeper into it for a review when I felt like what is there is really just what is on the surface.(less)
I'm mostly familiar with Kyell Gold's work from his series, Out of Position, and reading a few shorter w...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I'm mostly familiar with Kyell Gold's work from his series, Out of Position, and reading a few shorter works of his this week as nice, mostly for the small commitment in time and getting to read a wider variety of his work. Because I don't really read anthropomorphic fiction outside of Kyell Gold's work (who introduced me to it), reading about even a few characters different than Lee and Dev and different from the contemporary football plot of that series was nice, and gave me a wider scope of what Kyell Gold can do.
This is definitely the sexiest of his work that I've read. The story centers on a group of friends at Hoffridge U. and their lives. At the center of that group and this story is Vaxy, a pine marten, and his sexual (mis)adventures -- namely the love triangle that forms between the sexy professor he works for in the lab (and their daily appointments in the closet between lab work) and the casual sex relationship with his roommate and friend Mike.
The trouble starts when Vaxy is interrupted by a knock on the lab door as he's sitting in Dr. Forrest's lap. He's actually surprised when it turns out to be Mrs. Forrest. It isn't as if Vaxy has loose morals or anything like that, he just likes to have a good time. And he is rather tight-lipped about secrets, others and his own. His surprise that Dr. Forrest was cheating with him makes him question their relationship, even though it was just all in good fun. The wife, however, is like a dog with a bone. She won't let the possibility of finding the person who her husband is cheating with, and somehow, Vaxy finds himself playing the wife off the husband and the husband off the wife, in a deep quagmire of kept secrets.
So why does it bother him if he's not the only one getting down with the sexy doctor? And why is Mike constantly getting upset lately about his "extracurricular activities". They don't have a relationship and Mike has never made him think that he wanted more. Add in the extra complications of one-off with their mutual friend Grace, and Vaxy finds that he's dug himself deeper into a mess that only just now realized was a problem in the first place.
Science Friction, isn't the sort of story you might expect from the title, but a more literal description of the business Vaxy the science student gets down to around the college. The issues dealt with could be heavy, but are written in a humorous light as Vaxy digs himself deeper into the mess. He's only really concerned with having fun and keeping things light, only to realize that it isn't the same for everyone else and he needs to evaluate his life and his real feelings. The love triangle isn't used to maximum effect. The focus of the story is really the misadventures of Vaxy. We get to know Dr. Forrest pretty well, but Mike much less so. This was a bit of an imbalance for me as a reader, though in retrospect works for the the story and was obviously done for a reason. And because the story is so short (at around 30k words), there really isn't time for the story to create a world around them, but focuses on paring down the story to the main plotline without a lot of interference from the outside world or extra scenes.
The story is capped off by a short story called "Armadillo Peccadillo", about Grace and his roommate Wally (briefly in the main story). I enjoyed this little extra so much! It really made me want more of the group of friends and their adventures, especially with Wally, Grace and Mike, who we got to know much less well than Vaxy.
This definitely isn't my favorite of Kyell Gold's stories, but it really couldn't be compared on the same level as the deeply involved stories such as Out of Position and it's sequels. It was, however, a whole lot of fun to read and very satisfactory indeed.(less)
I'm always excited when Eden writes a new book, but this one was even more exciting because it's about possum shi...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I'm always excited when Eden writes a new book, but this one was even more exciting because it's about possum shifters! The seed of the story came from a very wild tale Eden wrote about on her blog, and with the encouragement of friends, turned into this story. I remember reading about the whole opossum debacle, and if I could find the post(s) on her blog, I'd share it/them, but I can't. Nevertheless, that's no reason not to read this book and thoroughly enjoy it too!
Seth was torn away from his loving aunt and best friend Dusty when he was a young boy, taken from a world of playing in the wilds of Georgia to living with his strict, narrow-minded grandmother in Chicago. He's grown into a man who is afraid to stand up for his beliefs and tends to take what life, and people, dish out to him -- leaving him as a single photographer whose on-again-off-again boyfriend seems to enjoy giving him surprises (of the off-again variety) and a host of "friends" that seem to care very little about him. Unbeknownst to him, he's the heir to a powerful family of possum shifters in Georgia, headed by his dying aunt Irene. Growing up away from the passel (group of opossums) means that he doesn't understand anything about his heritage or the dormant strain within him. It also means that he's missed out on a lifetime of loving families and his best friend.
Dusty is now Dustin Livingston, MD, the doctor of the town of Possum Kingdom and interim Jack (leader) after Irene passes away. Yet, some of the old woman's last choices were matchmaking for the nephew she always loved as a son and the young boy who grew into a man as her second in command. Brought back to Possum Kingdom to setting his aunt's estate, Seth and Dusty meet again and find that their friendship as boys might easily evolve into a relationship as men, if only Seth doesn't make all the wrong choices.
The best thing I can say about Eden Winters is that I'm never nervous, or anxious in any way to start her books because I know they'll always be well crafted. And, as a reviewer, that's nothing to scoff at. With the pesky craft details taken care of, I really enjoy her books without nitpicking plot and characterization and pace. That was really valuable here, because while I was enjoying the story I could see the small details she made in the story to make it unique and to make it shine.
Following the first thought I imagine that many readers have when they think of possum shifters, this story was actually quite funny and made me laugh several times. It has a charm that exceeds the cracks at typical possum behavior and permeates the whole story, giving it a lighthearted flare. It never emerges into fluff, however, don't mistake my meaning on that count. I noticed some deliberate choices that took this story beyond a typical shifter story and the character growth and relationship alone gives it legitimacy. There tends to be a kind of shifter ethos surrounding so many shifter stories in a certain genre that feed off one another, specifically with details. This story diverges from many of those, in creating the shifter culture here that is more real world, and pertaining to the south.
I also have to give props to the creation of a real kickass female character in Monica. I hated her in the first couple chapters, though I sorta-kinda understood her. But she grew on me throughout the story and I ended up loving her, and I knew that's the way I was supposed to feel. But more than this being a lighthearted shifter romp with funny possum behavior and a cute romance, the core of the story is about the growth of Seth. He starts the story a shade of the man he could be and the crux of the story is based on his growth.
This is another story by Eden Winters that I recommend, and Eden has offered to give a copy away to a commenter. So be sure to leave a comment to enter, and if you don't win, consider getting this book anyway. You'll enjoy it! I promise :)(less)
Ryan and Jason each have a crush on the other -- though for separate reasons they've kept it secret. Their friend...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Ryan and Jason each have a crush on the other -- though for separate reasons they've kept it secret. Their friendship was forged in their common identity as witches and they both belong to the same coven. Jason is a bit of a rule-breaker, and also a secret rent boy. Ryan, because of his feelings for Jason, will do anything Jason wants. So, on Halloween, they both find themselves going against the rules of the coven and practicing magic on the night of the thinnest veil. The rules were there for good reason, because the ghost that comes to their call has enough power to take over their lives, their bodies and their decisions until he gets exactly what he came for.
Coming in at a rather short 6,400 words, this story still manages to cover quite a bit of ground, split between three different character's POV. And while I did find it a good way to maximize space in the plot, the quick transitions between characters (who most of the time were not in the same scene, but switching between different ones, back and forth) drove me a little nuts. It was like whiplash -- such quick turnarounds that I couldn't quite keep up with what was going on the pace became so quick.
It works in the form that it is in, but I still would have liked the story better if we'd had more time between Ryan and Jason. As it is, we don't get to know them very well, especially Ryan, and all we really get to know about Jason is his profession. So, I had a hard time really seeing a connection between the two, other than a simple crush and maybe more. Without knowing more about them and getting to see some more time with them together, I didn't see any chemistry.
So, while I found the story cute, and it definitely has a lesson to teach about seizing love where you can, it wasn't more than a So So read for me.(less)
I've been sitting on this one for a while, needing to get some other reviews done before I could read it, but whe...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I've been sitting on this one for a while, needing to get some other reviews done before I could read it, but when I finally got to it and started it, I fell into it right away. I was a little unsure of the direction at first, but once it really started moving, I could feel the momentum and I started to really enjoy reading it. It swept me right through the book and I never felt a lull. That doesn't mean it's perfect, I had several things that bothered me some, but I still enjoyed the book and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel whenever it comes out.
Griffin and Tomas grew up together as boys, then teenagers and now men, being prepared to soon accept their adult roles and responsibilities. Throughout, they've remained each other's best friend, even though one is a lord and the other an orphan. Griffin, sent away as a boy to live and work for the nobility, has grown up with an aptitude for swordplay, and is poised to become Tomas' personal knight. Tomas must do his duty as well. As heir to the estate that constantly keeps the border and magical threat from the other side at bay, he must marry and continue the lineage, something he's been trying to put off in any way he knows how.
Both Tomas and Griffin harbor feelings for one another, but they're not known to the other until Griffin finds a baby dragon in the forest where they played as boys. Dragons are supposed to be extinct and they're afraid for her if they turn her over to Tomas' father. Dragons are beings of magic, from across the border and were eradicated along with magic by decree of the King of Galerir one hundred years ago. So, they make a plan -- they'll convince Tomas' father that he'll marry the girl he was destined for if he can have one last adventure. Secretly, they mean to take the little dragon to the border in order to save her, and then run away together.
Their plans change when Tomas' father reveals a very big secret, his mother was the sister of the current King, which leaves Tomas as the only remaining heir, kept away from the court after a blood rebellion almost ended the line of succession.
This was a very easy to read novel. At times I felt it was a little too easy, but its a stylistic choice and certainly there are readers who will like that the story takes a somewhat easier path in general than others. The characters don't really have any angst, though the situation may seem like it calls for it. I would normally be happy about that, but I did get a little bit tired of how often these two reaffirm their love to each other. They're constantly saying "Love You", "Only You", things like that and it felt a bit like any difficult parts for the characters were just diverted, rather than the characters having to experience them -- or, I should say the reader having to experience them. Still, this was something that just wasn't to my taste, and may be to others. Whenever the characters were alone, at the end of the day just talking, for instance, it got to be a little too sweet for me.
The plot itself really gets underway when the secrets come to light from Tomas' father and it doesn't let up throughout the whole book. There's a nice pace and progression that kept me interested. I was waiting for … not violence or battle or anything like that, even a skirmish. But what I was waiting for from the first book was some sort of capping point, of climax in the story. Instead I felt like the story neither declined or inclined, but moved steadily towards the end, then stopped to be (I assume) picked up immediately in book two. That made this feel like one book that was maybe only cut into pieces so it wouldn't be too long, and I wished, while reading it, that there had been a more natural ending. It felt like the story ended in the middle, rather than at an intermission, but as a fully functioning novel itself. I think I'm fudging up trying to get my point across, but I was waiting for some sort of tension that never came, and I'm hoping that it doesn't carry on in the same way throughout the next book.
Most of all, that made me excited for the next book because I was left with a bit of a wanting, waiting to see what would happen. Besides that, I am excited to see what is next with the plot. Readers who like a sweeter and lighter fantasy would be interested in this, and I think that it is so far the best work I've read by Anna Lee :)(less)
It is 1966 and Eddie is secretly gay. Not too far out of high school, he has a job at a paper mill in Green Bay,...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
It is 1966 and Eddie is secretly gay. Not too far out of high school, he has a job at a paper mill in Green Bay, Wisconsin and spends his time with his four friends from school watching the Packers' pre-season practices at Lambeau Field. They all love football and are die-hard fans of the team but don't have the money to afford tickets during the season, and are lucky if they ever find the money to make it to one game a year. So they use their connection to the team to watch as they gear up for the coming season. Eddie's best friend among the group is Jack -- their strong friendship forged among the schoolyard bullies that taunted Jack for his hearing disability.
Eddie's secret takes fruition in his desires for the new player Johnny Grant, older and the embodiment of masculinity. When Eddie's bike has a flat and Johnny offers to give him a ride home, they become friends, all with Jack watching on -- and waiting.
Anyone who knows me and sees my weekly reviews at Brief Encounters knows that I absolutely love short stories. However, if there is one major complaint I have about the majority of them in this genre it is that they aren't true shorts -- the pacing is all off and there's usually way too much story, a novel in less than 20k words. So I get nervous before I start each short I read, hoping that that isn't going to be the case. I mention this because that is really the strongpoint of this story; the length was perfect for the story. It came to it's natural conclusion without feeling forced into a specific format.
This was really a delight to read. Not only did it surprise me (from the blurb I expected something different, and I loved how it played out) but I found the detail to be very well done. I suppose when you write a story or novel there is always going to be someone out there who is familiar with your setting or subject. In this case, I happen to be very familiar with Green Bay. Though I've never lived there I've visited extensively over the past 15 years. I suppose you could say that things have changed since the sixties, but in this case I don't think so. There is mention of the area around Lambeau Field and Kroll's. Even more than that, however, it really felt like a small world when I read that Eddie worked at a paper mill making toilet paper. Both my father and I have actually worked for the place I know he's talking about, visited that mill (though it has changed over the years with mergers and the like). It is strange when you come across details like that.
This is sweet and cute and definitely a story that I recommend. Even though I like this author, in the past I seem to have either loved or hated his books. This one was a delight to read.(less)