I got this book for review on a whim, and I am so happy that I did because it completely took over my life yesterReview 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....more
Kegan lands in New Zealand alone and lost. He'd been looking forward to getting away with his fiancee after his cReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Kegan lands in New Zealand alone and lost. He'd been looking forward to getting away with his fiancee after his cousin and best friend committed suicide. His grief is wrapped up in his love for his fiancee, especially when she ditches him at the gate for the restroom only to leave the airport, and Kegan to realize that he's been left while flying over the Pacific. The loss is compounded by the fact that Kegan knows that his fiancee was the main reason he removed himself from his cousin's life. He doesn't understand how he could let himself choose a cheating and selfish woman over his best friend, and the thought that his actions might have contributed to his cousin's loneliness at the time he needed him most… it's almost more than he can bear. Kegan decides to take his vacation traveling around New Zealand alone and figure out his life and what he really wants.
Dominic is a Kiwi. We meet him first as he moves into a new house, finally leaving the home of he and his late partner. It's been two years, but Dominic is a shadow of the man he used to be. He has no problem admitting that he wish he'd died as well. Moving on without him is too hard. His best friend Lisa surprises him by coming to stay with him for a week, and it is during that week -- while Lisa drags him out of the house day after day -- that the two stop at a restaurant and end up sharing a table with a lonely American traveler, named Kegan.
The two guys have an immediate chemistry, but it takes both of them willing to move on and embrace a new time in their lives to have any chance at a relationship.
Of course, my biggest problem here was the insta-love. I mean, I would say that this ends in an HFN, but some might say an HEA. I just had a problem believing that after spending so little time together they could fall in love enough to propagate an around the world move to be together and also in that time have been able to move on with their pasts. I get that Kegan could maybe do it. I liked that the author made his move to New Zealand not only to be with Dominic, but also as a fresh start in his life and career. I could see him making the decision that he needed a fresh injection into his life and he might make that leap because he needed a chance anyway. But I didn't understand Dominic at the end of the story. There's a part right at the end, where Dominic… I guess he sees the ghost of his dead partner. It was a strange paranormal twist that I only partly grasped. But, I understood the message which was that he wanted Dominic to move on. It seemed like an easy way to make it okay for Dominic to let go and be okay for him to fall in love, when in reality it just seemed to rushed for me to accept and without a lot of the work he'd need to undertake. He was just so messed up in the beginning.
I'm sorry to say that I can't really recommend this. I've read one other story by this author which I enjoyed -- Return to Destiny -- but this story felt a bit unfinished to me. I think that I actually would have enjoyed learning more about Dominic's partner. In books like this that explore a new relationship after one person's (or two) previous partner died, I usually feel like it's important for the new love interest to learn about the previous one. And certainly, I think it might have helped this relationship between Dominic and Kegan to develop at a faster pace (since the time line was so short) because Dominic could let go of some fears and memories and share them with Kegan. I don't know, just a thought. But I definitely would have liked to know more about him. It would have shown us even more about Dominic....more
I was quasi-curious about this one because the books in the series before this have been luke-warm, in mReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I was quasi-curious about this one because the books in the series before this have been luke-warm, in my opinion. They weren't bad, not at all, but none of them really affected me either. And I'm naturally curious, yet likewise nervous about reading a book where a character is a priest, or if religion is a heavy topic. I know that a lot of you are as well. But even though it came into play pretty heavily in this book, it wasn't dogmatic in any way. In fact, religion wasn't the issue really. Put anything in place of religion in this case and it would have served the same purpose. Religion in this book is simply a placeholder for any issue that affects Seth in a way to impede his romantic life and serve as a road-block in developing relationships. The fact that Darren is a youth pastor just forces him to face his demons head-first. Though he tries pretty hard not to ;)
A shitty childhood in a right-wing fundamentalist family leaves Seth with a lot of emotional damage as an adult. He's made his own life, but only by running away and putting the past behind him. And the past firmly consists of anything associated with religion. When Darren moves to Tucker Springs and into the apartment across from him, it's like he's been smacked in the face with the world's best attempt at hotness. Darren is gorgeous, and even more he's … nice. Not exactly what Seth was expecting.
The two don't waste time jumping into bed, and though they catalogue their relationship as friends, their chemistry keeps pulling them together for hot one-offs that leave them awkwardly shuffling across the hall in the morning. When Seth finds out that Darren is a youth pastor, it turns everything on it's head. Only, he's already somewhat attached. And the rest of him can't say no when confronted with the perfect male specimen.
I wouldn't call this book angsty, really. But that's really only because it didn't bother me. And I'm entirely angst-phobic -- so you can trust me, I swear. But this story does have a fair amount of it. It's more of a character journey with a side of romance, because the person that is really changing and growing (that we see front and center) is Seth, who has to face his issues in order to have a relationship with Darren. In that sense, we get to know Seth quite a bit better than Darren, though that didn't bother me so much. It is natural when we get the point of view of only one character.
I think the most important thing that you, as a reader needs to know in making your decision about whether to buy/read this book, is how the religion aspect comes across, and I think I explained that pretty well. There's really no reason to discount this book because of such a sticky subject. Otherwise, I found this novella to be well in line with the other stories in this series, and if you've enjoyed them, then you should definitely go for this one. For me, like the others, it was good, but not great....more
I had to request this for review as soon as I could because, hello.. rocker book! I, like many of you, just can'tReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I had to request this for review as soon as I could because, hello.. rocker book! I, like many of you, just can't get enough of them and it seems like there's one every month or so that comes out (sometimes fewer, actually) and it just enough to curb my appetite until another is released. So, I started reading this as soon as I got it and it did it's job in getting me to next month's (hopeful) fix. I didn't, however, love it -- and the reasons are purely subjective. I'll outline those, because in this instance I'm sure that what I don't like about the book is something that some others will.
This story is split into two major parts. The first half of the book takes place in the 90s and covers the genesis of the band King Phoenix and the relationship between Scott and Ash. The second half of the book details their rise from ashes, not necessarily professionally, but personally. I was worried at first, because the book starts with a prologue in the present day and then jumps back to the beginning of their story (the 90s) in the first chapter, and I'm really not a fan of flashbacks. I always get nervous when I feel one coming because it takes a very talented author to juggle the art of jumping back and forth in time and lose the momentum of the story. Thankfully, this dodged that by cleanly breaking the book into two halves, which mostly worked for me, but wasn't without adding to another difficulty I had with the story.
I felt at odds much of reading the first half. The story covers several years in the rise of the band, from their initial formation, through their bar playing days and then into superstardom and world tours. That is a large chunk of time and much of it was glossed over. I felt a bit like I was stuck between a rock and a hard place, unable to decide if I wanted more or not. Because so much time as glossed over, much of this was exposition -- the author detailing what has happened since the last shift forward a few months or a year ago and then a swift narration of where things stand. More often than not there was a summary of events rather than a scene in present time. That frustrated me, because I never felt like I really got to know Scott and Ash as a couple. However, I was also thankful in a way, because they were both so.messed.up that I was reluctant for the story to completely drop into their lives. By the time of their real success their relationship has become a casualty of the rock and roll lifestyle and fears of band breakup, and I just couldn't decide whether I could have dealt with the real angst of that situation. As it is, we see it, but because we're somewhat removed from the situation -- only getting pieces of them here and there over months and years -- it isn't nearly as intense as it could have been.
So I was happy, in a sense, when time jumped forward to the present around the halfway mark in the book. The situation the band was in, like a pressure cooker growing more dense and dangerous, was ready to explode. And I was happy I didn't have to read the direct fallout of that. That meant, however, that the characters went their separate ways, which saved all that hurt that was never dealt with for another time. And those feelings just fester over the years. I think that this was what I had a hard time reading the most. While the author doesn't create a classic Big Mis situation, it does have many of those hallmarks, which was frustrating for me. The Big Mis(understanding) is, of course, where characters have a falling out for lack of a better term over a miscommunication, or misunderstanding and only deal with it later, realizing how stupid they were (along with us realizing how stupid they were). And I felt like though this were a real situation, not something stupid which is where the term The Big Mis is usually awarded, it hinges on a technicality, a decision made by a few very secondary characters. I don't think this will actually bother many readers as much as it did me, and many might not consider it a Big Mis situation at all. But the effect of those decisions by the characters and the author in how the book is paced and structured directly correlated to the amount of angst, which is my hot button.
So, that's why this was a difficult read for me. There are parts that I certainly liked. The last bit of the book was a nice read for me, one a lot of the issues between Scott and Ash were worked out, but I never quite settled into the book and I never really warmed up to the characters. So, if you like your rocker books with a bit of angst, and maybe a tale of second chances and characters making up for past mistakes, then I'd say give this a try. And try not to gauge my feelings about the amount of angst in a book against yours, I'm probably way more sensitive than you ;)...more
Girin finds a human witch on his mountain. The pretty young thing is almost dead, starved and muddy with severelyReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Girin finds a human witch on his mountain. The pretty young thing is almost dead, starved and muddy with severely burned hands and feet. He takes him back to his cottage where he sets to heal him with his magic and with his care and attention. Soon, they grow to become roommates while Ronan is in his convalescence, and later friends. But, Ronan is secretive. He continually reminds Girin that he'll have to leave sooner rather than later and that the ones who hurt him will come looking for him. He won't speak of the reason he is hunted. The truth comes to light when a man comes to the mountain to bring Ronan back with him and with tales of the evil that Ronan has committed at his village.
I can't honestly say what is was about this short novella that I didn't connect with. Perhaps it is the characters. The writing itself is solid, but the slow pace, short plot and the lack of chemistry or much interaction between the two characters left me uninterested and without a stake in their future. The character and narration from Girin is good. Much of this story is a solitary journey for him; at least, that is the way I took it. I didn't feel much connection between the two, so it seemed more like the story was about Girin and finding companionship and growing into himself, rather than the specific person that fills that role.
It is a short and sweet story, if that is what you're in the mood for. I would have liked it to be filled out just a little bit more -- more progression of the plot, more information about the world, and specifically more interaction between the two main characters so that we could learn more about them....more
Kyle is an ex-hunter and ex-pilot of the Navy, recently forcibly retired by his injuries. He has no feeling fromReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Kyle is an ex-hunter and ex-pilot of the Navy, recently forcibly retired by his injuries. He has no feeling from the waist down and can only walk with the use of prosthetics. He's broke on his decommissioned salary and needs the large sum of money, or opportunity to travel to a planet with cheaper cyberware, to get the technology that would allow him to walk, fight, and blend in with the rest of humanity. His chance comes when he's given one last job of hunting a Glyrinny double agent. The money would get him off world and fix him up, but it also serves his deep rooted anger at the loss of his old life, when he was shot with a Glyrinny weapon that his race doesn't understand how to properly cure.
I have to admit that I've read little of Voinov's work. His books are always ones that I mean to read, and I have many of them, but I've only read a few. I'm always happy with the level of detail and world building, and I really like the ambiguity of his characters, prone to embody the villain with a core of morality, unafraid to pursue their cause while bucking the system. There's a fearlessness about that we can connect with. It allows us our natural attraction to bad boys but gives us all of their redeeming qualities, and like secretly rooting on a vigilante and appeasing our desire to be vicariously brave and at the same time reckless.
There's a lot of room in these character for character growth, and while most of this story satisfied me, the ending felt a bit short to me. Perhaps, as readers, we don't like when a character wants to give up, or does. I felt like I understood Kyle, and I even understood the impulse that death, death in bliss, would be an improvement upon his life. He hasn't been injured long and he's still got a lot of issues that might slowly resolve with time and getting used to life without his legs. On the other hand, I was waiting for him to turn around and give a little fight. I wasn't quite so sure he would really accept the situation at the end of the story. It still felt a bit unresolved to me and I would have really liked to see his journey from that point on, especially with his new knowledge of himself and those around him. Was he really that untethered from his own race and his life? Or was that just post-trauma?
This is still a great example of Voinov's work, and fans of the author will definitely want to read this, as well as any SciFi fan. I definitely liked it and would recommend it....more
I liked this one much better than #2, because I liked Maddox so much, even though he's a handful. I might have gotten sick of him with a longer book,I liked this one much better than #2, because I liked Maddox so much, even though he's a handful. I might have gotten sick of him with a longer book, but this one was just right to me....more
This is the second book of my Author Backlist Project for Mary Calmes and I'm so glad I chose this author first.Review posted at The Armchair Reader.
This is the second book of my Author Backlist Project for Mary Calmes and I'm so glad I chose this author first. I've always really liked her books in a past, but I've missed a few of them here and there, this one included. I actually had a few problems with this book, but one thing was done so absolutely well (the character development) that I just couldn't give it less than a Really Liked It rating.
That, ultimately, is really what makes this story so incredibly special. Landry is most often seen as the fucked up guy in their relationship but Trevan has a lot of issues as well. But somehow, this author made these characters that so so messed up and also who sometimes aren't exactly likable, accessible and understanding to us through their love for each other and in Trevan's case a very strong moral compass (skewed according to convention, yes, but still unyielding). Trevan refers to them early in the story has completely codependent, but that it is okay because it works. That's the truth. Landry is barely capable of making it through the day on his own, but Trevan needs to take care of him, needs the control in a way that is unique to him. I almost don't even know how Mary Calmes pulled this off. Their relationship is so unusual, but so utterly charming at the same time and almost the whole story is devoted to the psychology of it all, but completely under the radar. So much so that by the end of the story I felt like the story had been about something totally different (the external plot) but that I knew these characters way better than I know most when I finish a book. That is to be commended.
I found it a little unfortunate that we don't know Landry's family better since the end of the book really has a lot to do with them, but then I understood it as well. The last 60% or so reminded me quite a bit of A Matter of Time and this whole story had a lot of Mary's trademark zinging dialogue that I've grown to love. Ultimately, how you feel about this book depends on how you will feel about the relationship. I can't say that I loved the characters, but I liked them a lot and respected the hell out of them. I felt a bit like there wasn't a driving focus in the plot, and that's why I say that how you feel about the relationship will affect how you feel about the book. There are two real sub-plots, Landry and his family and Trevan and his "job." Maybe it is that I'm used to a traditional narrative that I'm finding this hazy, but ultimately it didn't overly affect my enjoyment of the story and you have to give Mary Calmes props for this book.
These two books I've read, this one and last week's book, Acrobat, are two of the best books this author has written in my opinion. Still, Acrobat takes the cake for my favorite. I liked this one a lot, but I didn't love it....more
Davis has just found his second boyfriend cheating on him, this time with his secretarReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
3.75 Stars, rounded up
Davis has just found his second boyfriend cheating on him, this time with his secretary, of all the biggest cliches. Coming from a family of obsessive social-climbers, he’s accepted to fill the two uses his family has for him: a business asset and a fashionably gay son. He is finally at the end of his tether with his unfulfilling and, frankly boring, job as CFO of a firm with lots and lots of names, and the kinds of boyfriends that come along with that social and business position are tedious, as once again another has fallen to the allure of “sucking other cocks.” Adding to his distress, Davis finds himself cursing the rainy weather for being melodramatic and being splashed by a car.
The man who emerges to apologize is opposite from him in every way. Sinfully sexy and covered in tattoos, Brody is genuine and an honest ray of sunshine, and the difference between sweet and talented bad boy and boring and depressed Suit has Davis declaring the day Opposite Day when Brody offers to take him for a beer to pay for smearing him with the roadside puddle. Opposite Day means that Davis can sleep with anyone he wants to. It means he can say what he wants and complain about his family. It means that he can be as uninhibited as he wants and not have to worry about what happens when Opposite Day is over.
This was a cute story and though Davis isn’t an easy character to come to like, he isn’t a difficult one either. Brody, however, is a delight, and through his influence Davis starts to open up and show what he’s really like under all of his family’s repression. His sullen meekness becomes fire and gumption and his boredom with life becomes passion.
I could see in the connection with these two characters that they could have had a much longer story that kept me interested (I usually really like the Opposites Attract theme), but the small amount of external conflict served to set the story’s length without overloading the plot and focusing more of the story on the sexual connection Brody and Davis foster, which while short in length, was satisfyingly steamy.
I would have liked to read more of the story though the story and it’s length is fine as it is. Though I wanted to know more about Davis’ family (and certainly more about Brody’s life, since we see everything through Davis’ POV), there is so much story there that the story would have to have been much longer without taking the focus away from the relationship. Still, this was a satisfying and cute story — and quite enjoyable to read. B-...more
Probably my favorite feel-good story of the year. This made me smile from the first page and I'm still smiling now, after finishing the book. Even theProbably my favorite feel-good story of the year. This made me smile from the first page and I'm still smiling now, after finishing the book. Even the people around me want to read this now (and they don't read m/m) because I couldn't stop reading hilarious little bits aloud to them.
This is a unique story and Al has a way of seeing the world that is innocent and beautiful and direct. This is probably also one of the best romantic pairings I've read in a long while.
I'll be keeping this book on my Kindle for any time I need a little pick-me-up!...more
A cute and sweet story about Eric, who crashes into Omar while trying to make it home with his groceries in the icy weather. I loved the hunt for theA cute and sweet story about Eric, who crashes into Omar while trying to make it home with his groceries in the icy weather. I loved the hunt for the piercings :) A good first story from Tam....more