It's been a while since I read a Hayden Thorne novel and now I remember exactly why I always want to reReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
It's been a while since I read a Hayden Thorne novel and now I remember exactly why I always want to read them! She has a particular quirky brain that makes her books unique in a way that always pulls me in. This wasn't my favorite of her books, but it might be hard to top the Masks books anyway. Still, by the end of this book, I liked it and I really liked Noah.
Noah is fifteen and out of school. After a bad situation at his last public school, where some kids bullied him and he fought back, getting suspended, his super awesome single mom Dot went ape-shit on the administration for their blatant disregard of the bullying in their school and pulled Noah out. Since then, he's been staying at home while his mother works two jobs and looks for a new, more inclusive school. Noah and his mom are pretty close, they're their only family and they stick together. Well, Noah does have grandparents (Dot's parents), but they really aren't considered family -- more like righteous stalkers. The calendar by the phone with bloody X's mark the days that they call to harass them about their wicked ways (which include that Noah is gay and that Dot had him out of wedlock). It isn't until his grandmother threatens to set The Soul Warriors on them that they get a little more worried.
When Noah and his mother decide to take a weekend road trip to a B&B to get away from all the phone calls, they find themselves transported to a strange alternate world that seems to be a ridiculous mockery of Hell -- a town called Helleville filled with residents with similar experiences as them, full of banned books like Harry Potter and science textbooks that teach evolution, and weird and strange creatures like ghosts, vampires, zombies and ghouls. The strange thing is that though no one there can really figure out where they are and why they're there (other than the fact that The Soul Warriors are behind everything), it isn't the classic representation of hell that you'd expect. They're well cared for with all the food they want for no money, the kids don't have to take school (although they can sit in a class with Satan as a teacher if they want), and they're surrounded by pristine nature with no need for jobs. The people there have formed a community of sorts with a mayor and everything, but they all have time to relax and enjoy the things that they didn't have time for in life. Dot decides to take up crocheting.
They are, however, haunted by one serious problem. Every so often someone disappears. Soon after Noah and his mother arrive in Helleville, the fourth resident goes missing and no one can ever find them, no matter how many times they organize search parties and a night watch to try to catch anything abnormal. It isn't until Noah makes a friend named John who loves to take pictures that they start to piece together the strange occurrences and what could be behind it all. But before Noah can get too attached to his new hobby of playing Sherlock Holmes he meets Alex, a boy his own age who seems to like him. Alex invites him to hang out with a few of the other teenagers in Helleville and finds that he's not the only one with a crush on the nerdy teen. Matt, a cool seventeen, muscular and gorgeous, highly intelligent and the most popular kid involved in the community has a thing for Alex and he doesn't intend for Noah, who he looks at like a bug under his shoe, to get in his way.
Before all of you m/m romance readers out there get excited, the romance in this story is kept on the back burner. Instead, this story is really Noah's coming of age tale and his road to self-discovery. Helleville and the alternate reality they've been sent to acts as a catalyst to force Noah to grow. Before he was sent there, a lot of his own exploration of himself as a teenager had been stunted because of the bullying he experienced at school. He calls himself an introvert, but he's really afraid to get back out into the world and try again, making friends and even meeting a guy he likes and taking a change. He has a lot of latent social anxiety and Helleville acts as a skewed kind of microcosm of the real world to get him to open up again. In Helleville, Noah can be someone new. He can meet and go on dates with a boy like Alex, he learns that he can have friends. And most importantly he learns that people can rely on him, that he has worth. Alex acts as part of that self-discovery, of course, and their relationship also is a somewhat significant part of the story, but it never progresses very far on page.
The pace and plot mimic Noah's journey in a way. The POV is strictly Noah's, so the first half of the book is quite sedate. I even read one reader's review on Goodreads before I started reading that said that this book was boring. I wouldn't say that, I quite enjoyed it. But there were a few times in the first half of the book that I set it down, read some other things and then picked it up later. I think that as long as you don't go into this book expecting it to focus on Noah's romantic life and that the story will be more about action than reflection, you'll enjoy it. Also, if you haven't read much of Hayden Thorne's work by now you might not realize that most of her work is cerebral. This book is a reflection of Noah's life, in almost an allegorical way. If you'd rather just read for fun and not want to focus on the meaning of it all, then you might find this story a bit slow … in the first half anyway, the second half was much more exciting.
So I definitely recommend this one. I really like Hayden's work and I'll always pick up her books when a new one is out. She always has a really great point of view coming from gay teenagers that it's so easy to connect with. That, and sometimes this book just makes you go -- What the FUCK?...more
These two authors have been one of my favorite writing teams for a while now, and I knew that I wantedReview 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 wasn't quite sure what to expect with this story, especially when after I reviewed the first book in this series, Miami Moon, Geoff told me that the second story in the series was quite different. Well, in the sense of hot hot hot sex, it wasn't at all! But, I found this story to be much more mysterious and with tinges of horror, where the first story seemed more exciting than suspenseful. This story was actually better, in my opinion, though I think they can definitely be read as standalone stories and if I'm not mistaken, don't have a whole lot to do with one another besides theme and style of writing.
In Cairo Curse we're taken to a more exotic locale, where our two main characters are excited about the somewhat dangerous possibilities of the city. Nash is an ex- rent boy turned model who is in love with co-model Ryan. The two are often photographed together because of their chemistry and beauty as a pair. But Nash is in love with Ryan, and Ryan just seems to be a playboy -- hot, single and ready to fuck the next guy -- and the life of the party. Nash, on the other hand, is somewhat of a shy guy. His singular beauty makes him stand out, but away from the camera Nash always seems to be in Ryan's shadow, allowing himself to follow Ryan just for the chance to be near him.
After their shoot in Cairo, where Ryan seems to be much more sexually forward with Nash than usual, he decides that tonight might be the night. Ryan drags Nash to a club and convinces him to have fun with an exotic Egyptian beauty who has caught their eye. It's a chance to be with the man he's wanted for so long. And… the other guy is pretty hot. Nash decides to go for it.
But when the unknown man takes them through a dark labyrinth of the city, where their journey seems to take them back through time in the amazing secret history of the city, Nash starts to have doubts. Ryan keeps him going, blinded by the thought of what will happen when they reach their destination, they have no idea that they're being led into a trap.
I actually specifically marked Horror in the genre and tagged this book with Suspense, because I found the story to be really done well in this regard. I wouldn't say specifically that this was scary, so those of you who don't like Horror at all can be comforted. But, the intention of the story is what I would call Horror, the darker side of vampires as prey instead of emo teenagers ;) In some ways this story reminded me of many of Rick Reed's paranormal horror stories. They have ambiguous endings that lend to the suspense in the story. I quite like this style of story and I always really like when we see vampires and such as ruthless hunters because the vampire genre is lately so tipped in the other direction towards tame creatures. Seeing a more historical understanding of a demonic creature of the night is satisfying to me. And Ramseth was definitely a horrific creature of the night.
In that regard, I really loved the sex in this story! Storm Moon Press recently published an anthology of horror sex, called Queer Fear, about the heightening of sex through fear, and this story would have gone perfectly in that collection, where many of the stories focus on the paranormal. I mention this because the suspense in the story starts right from the beginning. The strange and beautiful Egyptian man hovers over them throughout the story as the sexual tension builds between them. Fear and Heat go hand in hand and it works really, really well to heighten the sexual satisfaction from the story. I mean… if you're into that kind of thing ;)
So I'm quite satisfied from this sequel to Miami Moon, which I also really enjoyed. I just didn't quite expect the difference in the stories and I didn't expect that there seemed to be little cohesion between the stories. That was the only thing that I wasn't quite sure of. I don't know the direction this series is going in; or, even if there is a next book or if it's coming soon. Both stories Recommended....more
You know, unfortunately this story started off on a bad foot for me. One of my pet peeves is when the blurbReview posted at Brief Encounters Reviews.
You know, unfortunately this story started off on a bad foot for me. One of my pet peeves is when the blurb gives more information about the story than the story itself. I finished the story feeling like I'd just been caught in a small worldwide, with the pace moving incredibly fast with little to no transition between scenes and knowing hardly anything about the characters but a few superficial facts. Then I read the blurb again, and much more of the story fell into place for me. But, that's not a good thing. The story should be able to stand by itself.
The basis of the story is a love triangle between Jet, a shadow chaser (a supernatural being whose power comes from the darkness), his best friend and jilted lover Roderick (who is a vampire), and the human who rescues and nurses Jet back to health after Roderick and his whole team turn against him and try to kill him. Holton (the human) is perhaps the most perplexing because we know very little about him, only that he's nursing a broken heart. Really, that's pretty much the whole story -- what, with proper explanation, character building and deeper plotting -- would have been a novella or a novel condensed into 20 pages by rushing the scenes (at breakneck speed), jumping large pieces of plot and not really exploring the characters at all but for a few sentences about them.
I'm afraid that I just can't recommend this story at all. I've never read anything by this author before, but I hope that their other stories slow down a little and allow the story time to unfold. To be completely frank, this story seemed much like a storyboard. The five or six major scenes of a larger story written down and then bunched together. I was so confused while I was reading it with the story jumping around all over the place and not giving us many clues about what was going on. And while, at the end, I finally understood what happened in the story, it missed so much that should have been there: getting to know the characters, understanding their motivations.
So, no I'll have to say that you should skip this one. I'll definitely give the author another go though, and hopefully I'll have a better experience with their other stories....more
Though there's no need to read these stories in any certain order (the other being Megan Derr's Herbal RReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Though there's no need to read these stories in any certain order (the other being Megan Derr's Herbal Remedy), they are connected. The common denominator are two of the main characters. In this story, it is Jayden, who is the brother of the narrator of Megan Derr's story. I happened to read Megan's story first, so I found that I knew quite a bit about Jayden before I got to read his story. In Megan's story we see quite a bit of Jayden and his importance in Jordan's life, so I had a pretty good handle on his character. Though… it's interesting, and this one aspect played out well in the order I read the stories. From Jordan, I got one characterization of Jayden and though it was admittedly multifaceted because he's an important character to him, actually getting to know Jayden firsthand from this story completed his character in the same way you'd get to know someone through their sibling only to see later that you only understood them through the lens of sibling affection and at the same time, frustration :)
Lee probably felt similarly towards Jordan, when he meets him in this story just because he's heard about him through Jayden. The two meet at a sunny beach hotel. Lee had planned his vacation to the beach for some well-earned rest. It might seem strange for a vampire to vacation at the beach, but all Lee wants is some relaxation and a new guy to share his hotel room with each night. So his fixation on one man alone surprises him.
Jayden works at the hotel desk and checks in Lee when he arrives. The two share a flirtation that baffles Lee a bit. Jayden seems to be reacting strangely to his vampire-seduction mojo, but if Jayden is immune then maybe he's really interested in him. He still has a job to do though. He wouldn't have met Jayden at all if his cousin wasn't laid up with a broken ankle. Astor is researching the local lighthouse (which is rumored to be haunted) for his next book on hauntings. If he hadn't agreed to do the research for him since he was laid up, then Lee wouldn't be staying in such a swanky beach-front hotel, and therefore wouldn't have had the chance to meet the lovely Jayden.
The best part about this story is that Sasha Miller has thrown away all the unofficial vampire rules and created an interesting, rather mundane vampire. For someone like myself who prefers the Wild Bill sort of vamp (though Wild Bill could never be called mundane!), I really enjoyed getting to know Lee. He's got a bit of a shaky moral compass, though he's a genuinely good guy. And I liked the couple that Jayden and Lee make.
Second, this is really a nice beach read. Not that it's about a beach (duh), but because it's really about a vacation fling, and those are always fun to read about. The warm weather and long evenings, the lack of stress, and… the beach. It's about appreciating the day and not worrying about tomorrow. That made this story fun to read. Jayden and Lee enjoy each other, have lots of sex and because they aren't worried about the future, they allow themselves to be playful. One of my favorite scenes is when they go to do Astor's research at the lighthouse and make fun of all the ghost stuff. It's light and sweet.
The story does evolve, towards the end, as they start having real feelings and thinking about what happens next. I appreciated having a solid Happy for Now ending with a real plan going forward for their relationship rather than an unreal HEA.
This is definitely best read as part of a pair, but mostly because the stories are both good and go well together than needing to be read together. You could enjoy either of them separately if you wished....more
I was super excited to read this spinoff of Spirit Sanguine, which I really loved, because I really felt like I lReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I was super excited to read this spinoff of Spirit Sanguine, which I really loved, because I really felt like I liked Denton a lot in that book. He's really funny and he's a natural to have his own book, with the fact that he can see ghosts and all, or at least, the remnants of death. And I really did enjoy it. I think that I ended up feeling quite different about it than Spirit Sanguine, no matter how much I enjoyed it and not relating to the fact that it is essentially different than that book. I'll get to why in a bit, but most if it has to deal with the way that the story is told.
We first met Denton Mills in Spirit Sanguine, a book that was all about a different type of vampires. In a way, I feel like the viewpoint of vampires from that book (as Lou Harper has called "the Byronic portrayal of vampires—you know, dark and brooding, woe is me…") is somewhat related to how Denton feels about them. He's another type of paranormal entity in a city filled with them (Chicago), but where he sees them as other, he's just like a regular guy with a gift, or a curse. They try to stay away from one another for the most part, probably as it is thought of in Spirit Sanguine because of the death that surrounds vampires. Our picture of him in that book is separate from and quite lonely, though with a quick wit and acerbically funny facade.
Dead Man… shows Denton's world, and while they're mostly the same the focus is different. The vampires are quite separate from his daily life (except when he thinks about Gabe and the crush he had). But he's still quite lonely. He has a hard time relating to people, especially those who don't know his secret. But when staying in his best friend Joy's apartment, he finally starts to learn about his gift and the wider world of witches and necromancy -- all because of the hot guy next door (who might also be a serial killer) and the man's cat, Murry.
This book is enjoyable for itself, even if you haven't read Spirit Sanguine. But if you have read that book, then I think you'll enjoy this one as well because in writing style they're similar in many ways. Denton is really funny and just in the first chapter or so and especially with his interactions with the cat, I was totally hooked. I think that is what made the book enjoyable for me, mostly Denton's interaction with his surroundings and with Bran. They make a really great pair, but the real joy of reading the book comes from Denton's voice. That said, I think that you really have to enjoy that for the book to be a total winner for you. Because while I enjoyed their paranormal investigative efforts together I also felt like they were quiet small mysteries that didn't go nearly as in depth as I would have wished. And that's fine, because I know that their story isn't finished and Lou has plans for more for this couple. But it does mean that I ended this book feeling less of a connection between the two than in many of Lou's other books. On the other hand, that makes me even more excited for the sequel, because I'm interested in where this couple will go. And, of course, I love Denton :)
So I wholeheartedly recommend this one, just for the joy of reading it. It's a fun book, and not long, so you can enjoy it in a day or one sitting when you need a little pick-me-up, a little humor and some really good writing. Now that I've read almost all of her backlist, I can see that Lou has written some of the best characters in the m/m romance genre. Perhaps its that I find my reading preferences and her writing style mesh really well, but I think that Denton highlights what I really love about Lou's characters, which is that they're smart, funny and perceptive. And that they always have a different and unique way of looking at the world. I can't say more than that....more
I really wanted to read this several years ago, when I first started reading Geoff's books and then discovered thReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I really wanted to read this several years ago, when I first started reading Geoff's books and then discovered the few written by his pseudonym AJ Ryan, but sadly it was out of distribution. So when Wilde City sent around their press release about the books they were publishing in their first few weeks of opening, I was excited to see this as an offering and immediately snatched it up :)
As a short story and basically part one of a larger work, I have a hard time rating this on it's own, as well as reviewing it. I did, however, really enjoy reading it, even though it was just a taste of the world and just the start of what seems to be a much larger story. And it tells the part of Jason's story that is almost a prologue to the rest of it, the end of his human life and the moment of his change into a vampire.
Jason Cain is a somewhat broken man. Raised by an extremely successful surgeon father in Chicago to be his protege, he flees to Miami with nothing but the clothes on his back and a small pack, taking rides with other travelers and making his way south. He's hoping to leave his old, fractured self behind and embrace the future, a new future of only his making. He has some very real ghosts to shed -- his father and the extreme pressure to succeed he embodies as well as his vapid, gold digging girlfriend. But Jason cannot flee from all of those ghosts. There are some that stay with him. A dark alley. And the even that happened there that shattered his hopes and confidence and the plans he had for his life. Going to Miami means embracing new experiences, something that leads him directly to the door of Vampire Xavier, and his lair.
I enjoyed the story, but really the most that can be said is that while it was a titillating read overall, it mostly made me curious about the next story to come and where the story is headed. As I said earlier, this is somewhat of a prologue to what I assume will be the main story, the setup that leads to his new life, and I'm mostly interested in what is to come. Will his goodness and desire to help people really transfer with him into his new life? And what impact or influence will Xander have in that new life?
So, by all means, I recommend this story. But, if you're not a fan of waiting for the next installment and only getting a small bit of the story, I'd recommend you wait for Miami Moon #2....more
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, whiThis 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 noOMG! 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"]>...more
Honestly, this was pretty difficult to read for me. I was intrigued by Nikyta's review but I found this to be much darker than3.5 stars... I think...
Honestly, this was pretty difficult to read for me. I was intrigued by Nikyta's review but I found this to be much darker than I expected. I was originally swept away by the beginning, the first scene and connection between Genesis and KC, but it soon turned quite dark and threw me a bit for a loop. What came for the next 60% or so of the book was a rather surreal read and I had a very hard time at one point making myself keep reading. I just couldn't take any more of Gene being SO naive and not accepting that he needed to take control of his own life. For a while it made me a bit dispirited with just about the whole cast of characters, pretty much all of whom don't have many redeeming qualities. Reading along with Gene, as he let everyone around him make his choices for him without him knowing anything about what was happening to him and the people around him and him disregarding it all... it felt like being caught in a mosh pit and just letting the crowd sweep you away. It was .. kindof frightening to me.
Thankfully, that changed nearer the end and we started to get some real answers and Gene started to take up for himself, but I felt like it took too long to get to that point. Since this ends with a To Be Continued... then I'm hoping the next book that comes along will present us with a Gene as we saw him in the end of this book, taking charge of his own life and in doing so starting to change those around him. But, even though I could see why the author chose to make Gene act the way he did earlier in the book, it was almost too difficult for me to read...
But, as always I urge you to make up your own mind. In many ways this reminded me of some darker mainstream YA urban fantasy, like some Holly Black or something. And I know that I really liked the style of writing, especially at first. Though it became a bit much after a while... that could be my feelings about Gene though. I will say one thing, however, KC's character is written brilliantly. A brilliantly tortured character.
I'd say... decide for yourself on this one....more
I am pretty sure that though I'm familiar with Tracy Rowan, this is the first booReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
3.5 stars (rounded up for style)
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....more
William is a master vampire, surrounded by his minions that he created. They constantly frustrate him and never gReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
William is a master vampire, surrounded by his minions that he created. They constantly frustrate him and never give him peace, especially during the one night a week when the love of his life is on television -- Ricky Joe Dash, a southern chef. Ricky Joe doesn't know he's the love of William's life, he's just trying to make his local show the best it can be, while trying to sidestep the innumerable advances of his boss. When William's minions get the idea that Ricky Joe would make the perfect Christmas present to cheer up their Sire, they'll go to any lengths -- including kidnapping -- to present William with their gift.
This story gave me a bit of whiplash and may be my most severe change in how I felt about a story in a while. It was a bit disappointing for me because I truly love Poppy Dennison and I look forward to everything she writes and releases. This won't change that, but I felt very different about this story than her others. Actually, I loved the story right to the very end (which is where the whiplash comes in). The tone of the story is great, it's so light and funny. The vampires are the least scary paranormal predators I've ever seen, in a completely tongue-in-cheek way. They're so over the top, I really took to it. It's a story to have fun with and not take seriously. Despite the lack of sex, i really felt a connection between Ricky Joe and William.
The problem came for me at the climax. It starts with the beginning of the story as the pace is set. It moves at a moderately fast clip because this is a rather short story, but there is somewhat of a buildup to the climax as William and his minions make plans. I don't know exactly what I expected, but I found the reveal to be a bit lackluster, and then a bomb was dropped that I wasn't expecting. And not only that, but it was a little confusing for me -- then, the story ended. I know that the very long list of information MLR includes at the back of every story didn't help, because I thought the story was far from over at that point (that has happened to me a lot actually, with MLR and Samhain), but it just exacerbated the problem in my opinion. And, I felt like it really could have been fixed in just a couple paragraphs, or at least a tiny epilogue or something. But, it just felt like the ending fell of a cliff somewhere and went completely missing. I even went back and read it several times to make sure I didn't miss something, but, I never really understood it or what the point was.
Sadly, the fact that I really enjoyed the first half of the story got lost in the ending as well, or I would have rated this much higher. Still, it won't stop me from being a big fan of Poppy's writing and I eagerly look forward to everything she writes. But, this one didn't work for me and I can't recommend it....more
This is a must read for fans of Derr's Dance with the Devil series, and takes us back to a group of characters thReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
This is a must read for fans of Derr's Dance with the Devil series, and takes us back to a group of characters that we haven't seen in a while, the characters from Dance in the Dark, Johnnie, the Dracula Ontoniel, and Johnnie's friends Jesse Alucard and Rostislav the sorcerer. Though Johnnie shows up only in a small part in this story, it is enough to recognize that this story is at a unique place in the series, a direct prequel to that book, before Johnnie's own story. Told from Rostiya's point of view, we're also introduced to a very important character. I only recognize him because I'm currently gobbling up every since chapter as soon as I can, the newest novel release in this series, Dance Only for Me, currently in serial production at the Less Than Three Press website and about an Old West style sorcerer named Jackie.
Taking us back to see some old lovable characters and getting to know some new ones that will crop up later is certainly a major draw to this story. I know, at least from my own conversations with other readers on the subject, that this is one of Derr's most popular series all around. But, it's a nice little story on it's own. Rostiya is in love with Jesse, of the vampire Alucard family, a rather influential family. We get to know Jesse's story quite well in Dance in the Dark, he's a rather progressive vampire. Vampires in general are a rather conservative group in this series, holding very firmly to old tradition, which includes their views of potential mates and their genders. Because of this, Rostiya believes that Jesse could never love him back.
In fact, the idea of a vampire loving a human is a well known one. Many centuries past a glass coffin was made, which ultimately trapped a human that was in love with a vampire. When Rostislav's sorcery services are called up on at the abnormal museum to investigate a recent acquisition -- a glass coffin believed to be the very one from the fable -- Rostiya knows that something sneaky is going on and has to get to the bottom of it. His findings, however, lead him down a dangerous road that shadows his view of his doomed relationship with Jesse, and only reconciling the two together and finding a reserve of faith will solve the case.
This is a very short story, and if it hadn't been supported by the already built series around it I might have had a hard time. However, knowing that I already love this series and already know and love the characters meant that this story really didn't need to focus on character building. You have to be familiar with this series to read this story, or at least have read Dance in the Dark. I thought that the plot was nicely set up as well. While we know both of these main characters -- Jesse Alucard and Rostislav -- we don't know them from reading their point of view. We don't know them intimately like some other characters in the series. The way the plot is structured secures the knowledge of a Happily Ever After without necessary in depth character growth within this story. I can't really tell you how that happens, you'll have to see for yourself, but I thought it was rather ingenious and worked quite well for the story.
So, I definitely recommend this story for fans of this series. Other readers need to beware, and be familiar with the series before reading this story. But, by all means, I urge you to read the other books and stories in this series, they're very enjoyable and also one of my favorite Derr series :)...more
Ryan and Jason each have a crush on the other -- though for separate reasons they've kept it secret. Their friendReview 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....more
Claud is in love (or in thrall may be a better word) with his sire and creator Silas. Over half a century ago SilReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Claud is in love (or in thrall may be a better word) with his sire and creator Silas. Over half a century ago Silas approached Claud on a train as he left the city to return to his home, depressed after being spurned by his society girlfriend and the loss of their perfectly arranged marriage. But, Silas offers a different opportunity and a new path in a life that to Claud seemed highly restrictive for a gay man. Now, they've formed a relationship of sorts. It isn't quite love -- well, it is from Claud -- but the opportunity to serve Silas in his needs and act as a nightly companion is more than Claud could ever ask for. They have a routine of sorts: wake, fuck, feed and find their prey for the night. This is where Claud can offer Silas the most. His talents lie in his predatory instincts and the thrill of hunting a human for the night. Blood isn't just sustenance, but also an aphrodisiac and vampires such s themselves need sex as much as feeding. And Claud has been following a new tasty morsel for over a week now, perfectly poised to make a connection on this night.
I read this story in particular because it seemed like rather sexy erotica, and for the most part I was right. Readers who are looking for romance should probably look elsewhere. While it isn't much of a time commitment, it might be disappointing to find mostly just a sexual encounter and little lasting connection. While there is a relationship between Claud and Silas and the author makes an effort to show some evolution of that relationship within the story, it isn't enough to classify this as a romance. The large amount of sex only makes this more like erotica. That didn't bother me, but it does change my standards for review and rating. I will forgive more in terms of style, plot, and character in erotica than I will in romance. If I were rating this as a romance, it would probably rate lower on my scale.
That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. The encounter between Claud, Silas, and the hustler they pick up, Jimmie, is incredibly sexy and takes up the majority of the story, minus some backstory and a bit with Claud and Silas alone in present time. Kink comes into in through some power play (2 dominant vampires looking for a plaything) and a bit of bondage and blood play. I wouldn't classify this as BDSM because I didn't feel as if it were a primary aspect of the story, but some might.
I was a bit disappointed with some of the sex scenes. The encounter lasts through the night, but is broken up into segments and the story seemed to skip pretty quickly between them. I liked the beginning quite a lot, the suspense, the "hunt" from Claud's point of view. But I found most of that tension to be gone once the sex started, so the scenes sort of blurred together for me with little separation, without much buildup and release, or ebb and flow within them. I suppose I was hoping for a little more impact.
I think this short story works well for the Halloween time. Though the holiday doesn't come into the story at all, it is seen through the eyes of a vampire as he hunts among the human population and the game of cat and mouse that both of the vampires enjoy was pretty creepy and nicely written.
In all, this was a So So story for me. I found it pretty sexy, but nothing incredibly special to remember it by....more
Moon Dogs - Erica Kealey 3 stars The Wolf and the Moon - Kayla Bain-Vrba 3 stars A Kind of Remedy - Ashley Shaw 3 stars The Were Curse3.5 stars - Overall
Moon Dogs - Erica Kealey 3 stars The Wolf and the Moon - Kayla Bain-Vrba 3 stars A Kind of Remedy - Ashley Shaw 3 stars The Were Curse - Sasha L Miller 4 stars Runaway Prince - May Ridge 4 stars The Wolf's Moor - Lupin Drake 3 stars Moonwitch - MJ Willow 4.5 stars Coming Home - Elizah J Davis 4 stars The Werewolf of Grey Lake Inn - Megan Derr 4.5 stars...more
A Christmas story in July, Laura Baumbach's latest paranormal short story is at once contemporary and historical,Review posted at The Armchair Reader.
A Christmas story in July, Laura Baumbach's latest paranormal short story is at once contemporary and historical, recounting the beginning of the relationship between Ian, a vampire and lover of the theater, and Trevor, an actor in a stage adaptation of Frankenstein in London in the early 1800s. Told through one long flashback and bracketed by their present time relationship, Ian and Trevor both have emotions and guilt that they've not completely worked through over the centuries they've been together. These issues come to a head every Christmas, keeping them apart until they can hopefully overcome them.
The blurb pretty much tells the story here, and I wondered after I started reading and realized how central the theme of Christmas is to the story if it were published now so as not to fall into the masses of Christmas stories later this year. Possibly, it definitely stands out more this way, and the theme of Christmas, of the savior and the will of good to all that are so central to these characters stand out thematically instead of as a prerequisite backdrop to the events in the story.
Overall, this is pretty typical vampire fare. There isn't anything new, but it is still solidly well written, like the rest of this author's writing. Much of the relationship is shown through Ian and Trevor's passionate sexual connection, most especially in the historical section of the story. Whatever the reason for this is, be it the short length, or the combination of the newness of their relationship at the time (and therefore highly sexual as they are) and the dichotomous contemporary scenes where their relationship has matured, I would have been a bit happier with more of the growing relationship, especially in relation to the climatic scene where Ian must make the choice to save or not save Trevor from death. The way this middle section is give to us is with little narration bridging the scenes of them together, and with many of those scenes being sexual, it left less room for other relationship growth.
I had no qualms with the historical detail in the story. It is certainly underplayed, but is still sparks subtly against the modern portrayal of London. The back alleys of London which set the scene for two of the critical pieces of the story both contrast and compare in subtle but important ways that neither distract from the story, but also differentiate.
This wasn't a story that really wowed me, but then I can see it isn't meant to. The story works nicely and is written well on the vampire lore we are already familiar with, making this a story that is great for readers who are looking for something simple, and perhaps a little bit of Christmas during the dog days of summer....more
Re-Read on 4.30.13 - My current rating stands, but man I love this book! And Simon and Gray, and Garon of course :) I can't believe I accidentally re-Re-Read on 4.30.13 - My current rating stands, but man I love this book! And Simon and Gray, and Garon of course :) I can't believe I accidentally re-read this book for the first time directly one year after I first read it :)
Wow, I soared through this book in just a couple hours, all because I couldn't put it down! I don't usually have that problem (problem? that's not really a problem!), because I tend to put books away for a while for a break to read something else for a while before coming back to them. Mind Magic caught me and didn't let go -- most likely because though I've read stories that have just as good of a plot, or even better, the pacing here is really great. There was always something driving the story and all facets of the story (the mystery, the magic and worldbuilding, and the relationship) kept me really interested.
This definitely seems as if it is the first of a series, and my rating is going on that because it seems so obvious by the end of the story. I mean, the story is wide open and it feels like the biggest challenges have yet to come. I'm excited about that, because if this is the first of a series it seems like it is off to the right start. We aren't given too much information. In fact, we learn bits and pieces as the story goes along (always nice to have to work with the story instead of being given all the information for free), and not too much is revealed in total in this book, meaning that any future stories will have lots of room to grow. I'm particularly interested in Cormac. Not only do I want to hear all about his history and life (from him), but I'd love to see how his relationship with Simon grows. Grey is the perfect Alpha in these types of stories. Strong and somewhat silent (don't want him completely removed), a good and kind leader, a natural leader in the bedroom as well but not domineering, and hot as hell with all that grey hair on a young man. Plus, seeing a man like that bond with his son is just heart-meltingly cute. Garon was cute as hell!
So yeah, I really loved this one and had a blast reading it, though I feel like the author kept the story close to the vest. If that's for future stories, then awesome, if not... then well that would suck, plus totally refute a lot of what I've written here. Still, the story was written in such a way that it seems like there has to be more, so I'm just going to go with that :)...more