This is a biased review: I am blinded by the beautiful language and awestruck by the reach of the story and its implications.
Dr Aziz is quite far froThis is a biased review: I am blinded by the beautiful language and awestruck by the reach of the story and its implications.
Dr Aziz is quite far from a likeable character. He is thoughtless, he has a high opinion of himself and definite opinions of others. He also copes with the English authority by the means of humour. He laughs at them and lets them laugh at him. Dr Aziz meets Mrs Moore in a mosque when he scolds her about keeping her shoes on. When it becomes clear that she’s not wearing any footwear, apologies are made and an honest dialogue begins. That discussion comes to an end when Dr Aziz has escorted Mrs Moore back to the Club into which Indians aren’t allowed.
Through Mrs Moore Dr Aziz meets Ms Quested—a newcomer to India like Mrs Moore—and ends up escorting them both to the Marabar Caves. It is at the caves where something happens.
Like so often in real life, even today, it’s never made perfectly clear what exactly happens at the caves. All that is known is that Ms Quested fled from the scene quite upset and that Dr Aziz is to blame. Or maybe not. He claims he’s innocent and Ms Quested isn’t quite sure herself what happened, but she’s the victim and beyond reproach. She’s a naïve young woman but more importantly she’s an Englishwoman and he’s an Indian.
Watching the events unfold was like watching a documentary from the year 2013. I’m serious, nothing’s changed in ninety years. When a white woman is attacked the dark man is to blame. He’s guilty until proven innocent and maybe not even then. The courts may let him go but that’s a failure on their part not evidence of his blamelessness.
It’s still true today that while individuals may bridge that gap between the races and become friends, society as a group almost never does. Old prejudices die hard.
While the legacy of colonialism is quite foreign to me, I could still identify with Adele Quested because she’s a woman. She’s someone who wants to see the best in people and ends up making a horrible mistake. She’s also the one whose word weighs least when it comes to the crime she’s the victim of. As soon as she’s uttered one accusatory word, the men take over. The Englishmen. They’ve arrested, put Dr Aziz on trial, and judged him before the first hit of the gavel. Dr Aziz is guilty and thus every Indian is. The English are better. Even the women but who listens to the women? Certainly not Dr Aziz who is furious to be accused by someone so ugly.
Contradictions. This book is full of contradictions, but so are people. I just wish we’d learned to know better by now. ...more
That was really good. A story about a college student and an injured baseball player drifting, trying to decide what he wants or even dares to expectThat was really good. A story about a college student and an injured baseball player drifting, trying to decide what he wants or even dares to expect from the uncertain future. There's a secret boyfriend and there are difficult parents. Read it. ...more
Brandi Collins has a few weeks to get back into shape to show her ex-fiancé, the jerk who dumped her at the aOriginally posted on Love in the Margins.
Brandi Collins has a few weeks to get back into shape to show her ex-fiancé, the jerk who dumped her at the altar and made his mum apologise for him, exactly what he’s missing. It’s not that she wants him back—she has too much self respect for that—it’s that her pride is all she has left and she’s damned if she’s going to let Wesley take that too away from her.
However, there’s a problem with Brandi’s new low calorie, low men diet. That problem is her new neighbour, Mr Dark Chocolate, who bakes through the nights in preparation for the International Pastry Competition. Adam Ellison has quit his job and is living on his savings trying to fulfil his childhood dream. He doesn’t have the time to day dream about his beautiful, delicious neighbour. Better to avoid her altogether, unless she can help him create the perfect recipe.
Her diet is doomed. I know mine would have been had I been foolish enough to try to adhere to one while reading this book. I was drooling after the blurb and it only got better er, worse in the book.
WARNING: Make sure you have chocolate in the house when you read this book. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT try to read this book without stocking up your guilty pleasure snack stash.
It wasn’t just the pastries that made my mouth water: It was the hero. Here we have a decent, hard working man who has decided to give up on his high-paid career in favour of something that makes him happy. Granted, he’s in the enviable position to be able to do that without risking starvation or homelessness, but he at least he recognises it.
Adam is very much aware that financially Brandi is in a much tighter spot, but he doesn’t immediately offer to write her a check and worm his way into her bed that way. Instead, he offers to help her secure a business loan in her terms and only does what any friend would do: he helps her with the paperwork, holds the camera, and drives her to the post office. So what if he steals a few kisses along the way and twists her arm to get her to taste his chocolate cakes.
Brandi doesn’t quite know what to make of this man who says she doesn’t need to loose an ounce, but supports her anyway even if he’s trying to sabotage her diet with all the delicious desserts. He even wants to give her space and time to get to know him. Surely she must be dreaming.
It’s always a pleasure to read two adults act like adults while they fall in love. Brandi might be lusting after Adam but she’s not throwing her caution or sense to the wind, and neither is Adam. Despite his chronically tightening groin he steps back and lets Brandi take the reins.
Then there are the secondary characters. Brandi has some really good friends. Her friend doesn’t exist simply to talk about the new hunk in Brandi’s life but actually saves her proposal when Adam—gasp, he’s not a jack of all trades—comes up short. There are also the families. Both the Ellisons and Collinses come across horrid in the beginning but there are reasons for these strained relations. I actually ached for Brandi, because unlike her I come from a family where our first instinct is to protect our own. If my fiancé asked me what Erin’s did her, he’d not need a best man.
Unfortunately no book is perfect and there were things that dragged down my rating. The sex scene vocabulary featured some of my most hated words and even the odd incomprehensible expression. Unless he’s a disreputable surgeon, I don’t see how he could kiss her innermost spot.
There was also the huge, scandalous secret he kept from her. Adam hiding his family inheritance was a non-issue for me because he’d been cut off and he didn’t lie about anything else. Sure he kept the extent of his savings from Brandi, but as she herself said in the book they’d only known for a short time. Sadly it led to a lovers spat at the end that felt like it had been manufactured for drama’s sake rather than being something organic and stemming from the characterisations.
Otherwise, it was as close to perfection as a book can be.
Oh, and the characters are black as is the author.
Final Assessment: Stack up on the goodies and read this book. B+
Series: First of the two books featuring the Ellison brothers. ...more
This came as close to perfection as I've seen a short story get in a long while. The plot and characterisations where there as were some of the detailThis came as close to perfection as I've seen a short story get in a long while. The plot and characterisations where there as were some of the details. I would've liked a bit more description, which I don't say often. ...more
I'm rounding up to four stars. This is where the sickly weak bookworm gets his own story. Best of all, he doesn't he already lives in a fantastical woI'm rounding up to four stars. This is where the sickly weak bookworm gets his own story. Best of all, he doesn't he already lives in a fantastical world, which gives this gay version of Tristan & Isolde like meet cute it's own flavour.
I liked it, I really liked it but there were just one too many convenient lessons in Kit's past as well as packing accidents. The vocabulary was off, which I could have ignored had it been revealed that Kit was lying about certain things. And then there was the fact that the author was obviously a keen student in the school of euphemisms. *shudders*...more
I liked this one. The author focused on the behind the scenes stuff and relationship development rather on the publicity side, which I would have likeI liked this one. The author focused on the behind the scenes stuff and relationship development rather on the publicity side, which I would have liked to have seen more of. Snark is one way to my heart and there was a distinct lack of snark here. As for their competitors: Oh how I miss the days when we Finns didn't suck at keeping the doping secret ;) Nah. We've always been terrible at that....more
After reading the very first line of the blurb, I knew I had to read this book. If you haven’t read it yet, here’s why:
After Vorgell the barbarian fuc
After reading the very first line of the blurb, I knew I had to read this book. If you haven’t read it yet, here’s why:
After Vorgell the barbarian fucks himself with a unicorn horn, he ends up in a cell with Maddog, a pretty young thief.
If that right there isn’t the hook that’s grabbed you, I don’t know what is. It promises a unicorn horn dildo, a barbarian, and a thief. What else could you possibly ask from a fantasy m/m story? Witches and Wizards? It has those too. Creative place names and adventures? Likewise. Witty one-liners and loveable characters? Done and done. You can also add adorable, deadly pets on the list. I’m not even going to complain about the female characters.
It’s true that the world-building has men in somewhat a disadvantage and that most women are hostile towards Madd in the beginning, but as the story progresses the reasons are revealed. Those reasons are real, based on characterisations and the story history, not flimsy deus ex machinas.
Everyone is flawed and no one is simply the best in anything. Even Vorgell has his difficulties. They’re average people by their own standards with individual fears and desires. They have limitations and rules they must follow. There’s death and suffering too. And significantly fewer inappropriate erections than you’d expect from a book with a sex magic inflicted cock. That’s another testament to a strong characterisation.
Don’t misunderstand me, there’s sex. There’s oral and anal, but in the end it’s not the driving force of the story. It’s a convenient set up. One that surprises you again and again with its implications. Or maybe that’s just me. I can be slow at times.
Be careful with this book. It pulls you under, makes you slightly uncomfortable—in the good way—and has you holding in your laughter. If you’re lucky you’re in a place where you don’t have to hold it in and you can make as much noise as you want. And no, I don’t think it’s just me.
I highly recommend you read Thick as Thieves. ...more
I'm not sure if I'll write a proper review for this one. A quality m/m novel that's funny and doesn't dissolve into a mindless erotica. Still, my expeI'm not sure if I'll write a proper review for this one. A quality m/m novel that's funny and doesn't dissolve into a mindless erotica. Still, my expectations for four stars have become more stringent. ...more
Zombies are not my thing. I don’t squee every time I find a decent novel about them nor do I queue to see the horror films about them. Slow-moving rotting flesh in a romance plot is definitely not my thing either.
So it’s a good thing that this book isn’t about zombies at all.
Excuse me what? You splutter.
Yes, you read that right, World War Z isn’t really about zombies. It’s about the world and people in it, namely Americans. No, the citizens of the United States of America would be more accurate. This is an American novel about Americans today, or rather about U.S. and its inhabitants seven or ten years ago. Things don’t change that much in a decade though, so it still applies.
The slow-moving rotting flesh is just an ugly mirror that produces a surprisingly clear image. It allows the characters to look back and explain in gory detail who they were before the Great Panic and how they’ve changed for the better. It allows a suburban mom to explain how she viewed some latinos clean and rational opposed to all the rest. It allows a child who grew up during the ten year zombie war to explain how her materialistic priorities have changed. It allows a jaded young man to explain how he learned to appreciate an outdated institution or how another like him found value in real life as opposed to the cyber reality he’d been hiding in. It allows the foot soldiers to explore in depth how rigid command structures can be a hindrance before they learn to adapt and become a strength.
And that same distorted mirror allows the reader see what the characters themselves fail to understand: How a victory and change can make some things worse even when it fixes other problems. It allows the author to outsource his and the nations greatest fears to other faraway places that they’ve always been afraid of. Or how else do you interpret what Russia becomes after the war?
Brooks takes the reader around world, China, South Africa, a few places in Europe, Australia, Canada, and allows those countries to take responsibility for some of the atrocities and failures that end up dooming and saving the world. Setting it all up in the U.S. would have ignored the realities of travel in the modern world and it would have made the story near claustrophobic. It’s a funny word to use in this context but it applies. The bigger the picture Brooks paints the more specific the message and the intended audience are.
Usually, I detest first person voice storytelling and a step below that are the stories with multiple first person voices mixed in together. Usually. But here it works. Brooks couldn’t possibly make each and every voice distinct enough to stand on their own, but he litters just enough specialised vocabulary to make it palatable. The format does the rest. Because each and every character is telling their part in a larger story, their voices can’t stand out too much. The story needs to be cohesive for the message to get through:
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Even through a zombie apocalypse. ...more
”The problem, both in the West and behind the Iron Curtain, was a lack of imagination. No one was able to picture the worst-case scenario.”
That was fun. Slightly preachy, but it comes with the territory of stating the obvious about dire things that threaten life on earth. Also, the author—or translator—likes to use the word ironically quite a lot which makes things a lot less ironic. This could have been an intentional choice considering the subject matter.
Herzog starts with a short personal history and an explanation. This book isn’t about the most well known nuclear events in our history—Hiroshima and Nagasaki are mentioned in passing only—but about the lesser known chain(s) of events that led humanity to where we are now.
He talks about German scientists who were high currency in the nuclear game between superpowers before and after World War II. He talks about centrifuges, disasters and cleanups, the myth of tactical nuclear weapons, one man’s obsession, and nuclear tests in Australia as well as in Alaska. He talks about inhumane tests done in the name of medical science. The evolution of nuclear power and lost nuclear warheads are mentioned as well.
But what I found most fascinating weren’t the obvious problems with nuclear power—there’s waste, lots of it, and its half-life is 80 million years—or the ethical questions that come with it, nor was I particularly enthusiastic to read about the doomsday machines. No, it was the pacemakers.
Nuclear powered pacemakers. No need for battery changes!
Tiny problem is what happens after you’re dead. How do the authorities keep track of those plutonium batteries and do they end up in cemeteries or perhaps burning the back of an unfortunate orderly carrying a bin bag to trash. Oh, wait, that was the other interesting story. What happens when a company, a hospital acts responsibly but the government authorities do not? Four people die and hundreds suffer from radiation poisoning. And the death toll is relatively low thanks to an enterprising physicist.
I am somewhat familiar with the subject but people who hated sciences in school shouldn’t be afraid to read this book. There are a very few technical details and those that remain in the book are only there to further illustrate the historical context of each nuclear folly.
Because this book is more about the history and human stupidity when it comes to taking responsibility for scientific breakthroughs and how they're applied. This book is about the dangers of letting military prioritise between human lives, nature, and fleeting glory in battle. Or worse than that, not even a victory in an actual battle, just a show of strength.
To learn from your mistakes or the mistakes of others, you must first study history.
I received an advanced readers copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this honest review....more
I never do this, but lists. You’re getting lists this time:
What I liked: • The subtlety. I’m not a jaded scifi reader, so all the scifi elements introI never do this, but lists. You’re getting lists this time:
What I liked: • The subtlety. I’m not a jaded scifi reader, so all the scifi elements introduced were suitably familiar, but not too incomprehensible to me. • Prejudices. • The exploration of inequality in a relationship. Whether the inequality is constructed by rules parents teach their children or science that removes choice, it is real and there aren’t any easy answers. • The writing. • Akhmim. • The ending.
What I didn’t like: • Multiple first person voice point of views. Four to be exact. Hariba, Akhmim, Hariba’s mother, and her best friend. Their voices were too similar and I think it only really worked for Akhmim. For a comprehensive introspection of the society I would have preferred to read this story in third limited. • The helpless, clingy Hariba. • Hariba. ...more
As the days and weeks went by and I failed to write a proper review, I realised I’d made the right decisiI thought about giving this book five stars.
As the days and weeks went by and I failed to write a proper review, I realised I’d made the right decision. Mind Fuck is a really good book but it’s not extraordinary.
In the dystopic future there’s the Administration. There aren’t really any nations, just regional Administrations and corporations that control people’s lives. This is a world where everything is monitored unless it’s not—to protect business secrets—and where torture is legalised.
That’s where Toreth works: In Investigation and Interrogation, I&I. He goes through mountains of paperwork, adjusts drug dosages and on an occasion handles the more precise tools of the trade. He also has irregular one-night stands under assumed names in hotel rooms he charges his employer for.
All in all, it’s a good life. Then he meets Warrick.
Just as Toreth has sold his life to the Administration, Warrick has tied himself to the corporations. He’s brilliant and just as emotionally challenged as Toreth is, albeit in his own way. These two men, they get under each other’s skin and can’t quite get rid of one another. Logic and life experience dictates that they must, but a convenient murder mystery ensures they can’t.
Mind Fuck is as light on the erotica and BDSM as it is on the world building. Still, I got the feeling everything had been thought through and that the author is asking the reader to trust her while she properly introduces the characters. Looking at the long list of The Administration series novellas and novels there’s a lot left to explore. Still, I wouldn’t recommend this to the fans of pure dystopia as much as to the fans of slow-burn m/m. The world and the predictable mystery only serve as a pale background to the characters.
And the characters are wonderful. They’re neither perfectly healthy, normal, or anyone I’d want to know in real life, but they are interesting. Their relationship is interesting. Their struggle to discern reality from the artificial and will to survive their circumstances is interesting. This story is interesting
If you don’t mind a narrative where the third person limited voice occasionally slips into first or that the story drags from time to time, this is a book worth reading....more
This didn’t start how I imagined it would. The confusion could have been avoided had I read the blurb for the second book, but I didn’t and I had a expectations of where Edie and Finn were going. They took a small detour to two different planets instead. Not that this is a bad thing but I had hoped to see more of the Fringe, which we never got to do.
The book starts with Edie and Finn on the run. They need to find the neuroxin, a kind of toxin that keeps Edie alive. After ensuring her continued existence, Edie, Finn, and Cat head towards the Fringe. They’re captured relatively quickly and brought back to Natesa who is still fixated on using Edie to further her own goals. Only she’s not using Edie alone. There are other children, talented like Edie, being manipulated to do their duty to Crib Colonial Unit. There’s politics, there’s human suffering, and there’s foreign intelligence. What more could you ask for?
This isn’t a trilogy, this is a story told in two parts. And just like the Song, the Children of Scarabaeus starts slowly. The first forty and fifty pages weren’t the problem for me, the struggle came later when Creasy decided to deepen the characterisations and relationships. For a while it felt incongruous with the rest of the story as logical as the development was. Instead of talking to each other, both Edie and Finn kept their secrets until it was too late to say anything. But then, luckily, the plot took over and the adventure continued.
Edie returns to Scarabaeus to finish what she started years ago and to save a handful of lives on the side. She and Finn talk, and disagree, but neither is a match for the planet. We get to see another side of Scarabaeus, barren but just as deadly as the megabiosis of the first book was.
In some ways the world building in the Scarabaues books seems superficial, but I love the subtlety of it. It feels like the books only scratched the surface of a bigger world, and not only because we never get to see the Fringe worlds. I want more of everything. More of CCU, Fringe, politics, and war. Sadly, I don’t know if I'll ever get it. ...more
Mariah Cooper wants a life for herself. She wants a husband and children, and she wants a career as a seamstress where she works for herself instead fMariah Cooper wants a life for herself. She wants a husband and children, and she wants a career as a seamstress where she works for herself instead for her mother. None of these things she can get in Philadelphia, so with a little help from her aunt Mariah answers an advertisement for a housekeeper and travels across the continent to find a new life in California. Her reluctant employer, Logan Yates finds himself bewitched by the spirited widow. He ends up wanting to share his life and family with her and it only takes him a little over a week to decide this.
Jenkins takes the time to set up both Mariah’s life in Philadelphia and Logan’s life on his farm before bringing the characters together—with a clash or ten. Mariah’s decided to change her life and she won’t let anyone walk all over her ever again. This leads to repeated conflicts with Logan who is used to getting his way without having to invest too much of himself.
The banter between these two characters is wonderful as are the little titbits about Californian history the author sprinkles between the pages. I loved that all their troubles came from their characterisations instead of manufactured obstacles. Mariah wants to commit, Logan doesn’t, and neither is hiding the fact. There’s quite a lot of plain speaking and whatever lies or secrets are told, they don’t stay secret forever. Truths comes out and they have consequences. For example, Mariah admits she’s attracted to Logan but that doesn’t change her mind about wanting a commitment. For Logan, when he finally changes his inconstant ways, there are consequences for that too.
Even though the romance itself takes barely a week to develop, it doesn’t feel rushed. With the exception of the sex scenes. The initial kisses and seduction worked well for me, but their first actual sex scene and the events leading up to it felt more like a slapdash-afterthought method had been applied in writing them. It made me question whether or not the publisher had asked them to be added in later. This could also explain why I felt like the author missed the optimal notes for the emotional pay offs such as their I love yous and the umpteenth proposal. Luckily, Mariah’s confrontation with her mother saved a lot.
Destiny’s Embrace is the first book of a trilogy and there is the definite feeling that Jenkins is setting things up for a bigger story. She spends a lot of time on introducing secondary characters like Logan’s stepmother and half-brothers, and expanding their personal histories. For some reason the book also felt little anachronistic; it felt like a 1990’s kind of a book rather than a historical romance written in the 2010’s. I don’t have enough perspective to properly explain why this is.
My thanks to Sarah for gifting me this book when I had trouble buying a copy....more
Earlier this year I saw a wonderful heart-rending miniseries about two young men falling in love in Stockholm in 1980's. If you know your history, youEarlier this year I saw a wonderful heart-rending miniseries about two young men falling in love in Stockholm in 1980's. If you know your history, you can guess how it ended.
I decided to read the books, and I'm glad I did.
It isn't just the love story that's touching, it's the sections where the author describes real history, his own history and the history of Sweden and the world at that time. I kept flashing back to my own school years that came ten years later and comparing them to the sex education described in the book. So much had changed, and yet so little had. Things are still changing, for the better, I hope.
I read both the Swedish original and the Finnish translation side by side. ...more
Imagine a modern Britain where at least two or three decades ago the politicians gaveThis review can also be found on Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell-blog.
Imagine a modern Britain where at least two or three decades ago the politicians gave up on trying to keep up with the ever-growing prison population, chucked the fourth article of the Universal Declaration of Human rights, and started to commute life sentences into slavery. Now people are both born and condemned to it. And it’s not just in Britain, it’s all around the world.
Brooklyn Marshall was born free and worked hard to build a good life for himself. Then a simple mistake, an accident, at the job took all that away from him. He was made into an example and his life was no longer his own. Now he boxes because it’s better than getting shot at in a war zone, and he fucks and is fucked because he is told to. He is used. He’s chattel that can talk.
”You haven’t resigned yourself to slavery yet, have you?” “No. And I never will.”
It’s cruel to give hope to a such man, but that’s exactly what Nathaniel Bishop does.
I’m not a fan of romanticising slavery, and I’m not a fan of any relationship that’s based on a severe imbalance of power, but I’m always curious to see if the author can make it work. If those obstacles of differing wealth, social status, and culture can be overcome believably. Realistically. Even in urban fantasy.
It works here because Brooklyn has never accepted his status as anything less than a human being. It works because both Brooklyn and Nathaniel recognise how wrong their situation is, and because both are fighters in their own way.
Much of the story focuses on the boxing—again, something I know nothing about—and how it reflects Brooklyn’s growth as a character. He’ll never see any of the winnings, but the fighting he does is for himself. He’s broken and beaten both in the ring and out, and he is affected by it, but he’s also a survivor. What doesn’t kill him makes him stronger, and the final fights show this vividly.
If I hadn’t struggled with the beginning of the story—it was good but not amazing—the ending would have earned Counterpunch its fifth star. Voinov opted out of the fanciful and kept it realistic.
P.S. The story includes triggers for (view spoiler)[rape. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Are you interested in reading an M/M, scifi, military, mind connection, mostly characThis review can also be found on Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell-blog.
Are you interested in reading an M/M, scifi, military, mind connection, mostly character study book with creepy angels aliens?
That’s how I recommended this book in a tweet the day after I finished reading it. I threw after a warning about sibilant hisses galore but forgot to mention the rape triggers. I also might have persuaded someone by saying “you’ll like the ending” vaguely implying I was less than satisfied. And I was, but it didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying everything else.
Dark Space is set in an unknown future where humans fight a terrifying alien race called the Faceless. There are space stations that orbit the Sun (presumably) at the edges of our solar system and keep watch. These stations are manned—quite literally—only by human men because women are too precious to be put in danger like that. This was the world building detail that most annoyed me, but if the alternative was reading about poorly constructed female characters I’d suspend my disbelief for a short book any day.
Some of the world building details I liked were every single thing that made Brady Garrett the nineteen-year-old conscripted recruit three years into his ten year military service—fifteen should he choose to become an officer—trying to keep his head down, and out of trouble while helping out at the medical bay. I loved the idea of stark class differences, refugee camps, factories, and all the problems that were only implied instead of infodumped on the reader. That includes the alien race, which—as creepy as they were—was nothing compared to the Weeping Angels.
Cameron Rushton is an officer—three or seven years older than Brady depending on how you look at it—and a prisoner of war who has just been returned to home. Or as close to it as Defender Three, Brady’s space station, is. The doctors make a mistake and Brady becomes a temporary human pacemaker to the man who no one trusts. They’re locked together in a room and have to spend prolonged periods of time together adapting to this new situation. Their connection forces them to learn much about themselves and about each other.
Because it’s an M/M novel, sex is a big part of that learning process. And because I liked it, you can expect to read about dark themes, and horrible things being done to the characters.
The pacing is pretty much perfect. Whenever I started to think “that’s a bit much” the author would make shift that not only made sense within the story but also advanced the overall storyline. There weren’t any unnecessary scenes or exposition for the sake of exposition. The repetition that was there—like Brady thinking of his home and family—felt natural to the cycle of human psyche and the way humans think. We get stuck on something, move on, and come back to it when the time is right again. Brady also didn’t accept the mind melt connection unreservedly. He had doubts and he fought it, but he also learned to trust his own judgement about the connection.
And the heartrending goodbye… Well, I’ll let you read about that on your own....more
Trust Milan to turn another historical romance cliché on its head. No, it’s not an inexplicable déjà vu, yes, I’m repeating myself again.
Jane FairfielTrust Milan to turn another historical romance cliché on its head. No, it’s not an inexplicable déjà vu, yes, I’m repeating myself again.
Jane Fairfield doesn’t want to get married. It’s not that she doesn’t want to fall in love and have a family, it’s that the family she has—her sister—is more precious. Having been neglected and starved for parental love and care, Emily and Jane are each other’s worlds. Well, there’s some bad literature involved too, a girl can’t avoid that not even in the 19th century. Or they would be if Emily’s guardian would let them. The Fairfield girls have little choice but to wait and count the days until Emily’s majority and freedom.
It’s just that a promise and Jane’s enormous fortune make achieving this goal a little bit difficult. Here’s where the mountains of lace come in. Jane was never brought up to be a proper lady and now she’s taking those liberties she has taught herself to the extreme to protect herself, her fortune, and her autonomy. That is to say she wears horridly tasteless gowns (some do like bright colours, even I, occasionally) and doesn’t shut up like a proper lady should (not—which, good for her—but is expected to). She’s smart and capable, but she’s also been coddled in a way. No one has taught her how to be ruthless. She’s about to learn.
Oliver is ambitious. He has everything Jane doesn’t: A loving family and a thorough education he means to use. He wants a career in politics (which makes me question his intellect and attractiveness to be quite honest) and he wants to change the world. He knows how to be ruthless, when to take a punch and when to walk away, and that has left its mark on him. Nope, we’re not talking about visible scars either, unless you count the freckles, which my mother does every summer just to annoy me.
Both Jane and Oliver are well off. They’re not starving and though they have their challenges, they’ve found ways to cope. Neither recognises that in this link or circumstances it’s them in danger of breaking. They both need saving before they lose themselves.
I admired how proactive Jane was. She didn’t stand still and wait someone to come rescue her, she faced the danger and rescued herself. It was a treat especially now that I’ve read theCarhart books. She was the one who found a solution for Oliver’s problem. She was the one who discovered the strength to play dirty. Jane recognised Oliver’s doubts and adapted but only to a degree her self-worth would let her. And in the end her choices forced Oliver to adapt.
As I saw Jane conquer one obstacle after another, I was left wondering whether there’d be left anything for Oliver to do. Sure he had the important task of negotiating a new law, but on a more personal level he appeared inert. I didn’t get it until I did. The flinching, it’s what I’ve learned to do. Not from fights, but talking. I simply don’t have the passion and strength to do it like I used to and I’ve learned to pick my moments. I understood the importance of Oliver reclaiming that part of himself. I also chalked it up to different tempers and theatrics. Partly.
The rest of it were the genre dictated expectations, which I’m also blaming for the epilogue. Too nice a bow for the story. Maybe that moment of absolutely happiness had been earned, but I think Jane and Oliver would have been better—more real—without it.
This being a romance novel I have my little gripes too. I’m definitely not a fan of the euphemisms even if it’s virginal Jane describing the scene. However, that doesn’t explain why Oliver would ever refer to his penis as his member (of parliament). And let’s not forget the slight ridiculousness of how their short-lived affair began. It should have been Jane who interrupted them, not the rain.
There’s also something that takes this book a step beyond the typical romance. Milan gives Emily a voice to show just how capable she is and to highlight another less talked of historical fact: Immigration. As surprised as I was to see the time taken to develop this side of the story, it fit well into the rest of the narration.
On a technical level, this is one of Milan’s successes. The text flows and plot is balanced. There weren’t any of those weak moments that plagued The Duchess War.
There weren’t any violent mood swings this time, only some deep laughs, but I loved it all the same. ...more
Milan finally did it, she finally wrote a five star novella without any of the issues I had with, The Duchess War, the first full length novel of theMilan finally did it, she finally wrote a five star novella without any of the issues I had with, The Duchess War, the first full length novel of the Brothers Sinister series. The pacing was just right, the background information in relation to the rest of the series was concise, the characters were charming and true to their own internal logic, there were great quotes, and the relationships to the secondary characters were poignant. My only gripes are about the sex scene, but really, after the awkward (view spoiler)[virgin (hide spoiler)] sex nothing reads quite the same....more
I may or may not have found my new favourite author.
There’s a reason Harlequin Superromances sell so well in Finland, better than Blaze or any other kinky ultra hot sex series or imprint. The impact of naked skin kind of evens out when you get used to seeing it regularly in the sauna. And we have those long winter nights and comfy blankets in our beds… anyway, it’s all about the story.
Here, two adults in their thirties meet at a point in their lives that isn’t particularly auspicious for romantic entanglements. One desperately wants a family but isn’t ready to commit to a man to have it, and another is trying to build a new start for his life. It’s a good thing then that they don’t know anything about each other and can discover together what the future holds for them. But as I said, the timing isn't the best possible and their past mistakes are about to catch up with them.
I made a list of all the things I loved about this book and it’s as disorganised as are my thoughts, still. I loved the wit and humour Bliss infuses her text with. Jokes are a delicate thing to write especially when the audience doesn’t necessarily share the cultural context with the author, but here:
”It wasn't that he had a five o'clock shadow at nine-thirty in the morning that screamed 'bad boy.' To Rachel's eyes, that simply made him scruffy.”
"Anyone could see she had a conscience. That must be painful for her."
”’I’m not offended. You're not my type, either.' Perversely, he was piqued. 'Not a nerd, you mean?' Her eyes narrowed. 'Not housebroken.’”
Look at that and tell me it’s not funny even without the context. I dare you.
I loved the fact that Rachel and Devin didn’t succumb to the insta-lust/love/attraction that’s a plague in modern romances. They were actually slightly antagonistic before building a tentative friendship with the option for more. Their romance was the slow burn kind with push and pull to keep them balanced. One gave the other took, and then they switched places. Truths were shared and actual smarts were displayed. I loved that both Rachel and Devin acted like adults. They weren’t perfect but they owned up to their mistakes and were determined to face the consequences.
One thing I absolutely hate in romance novels is the plot twist involving an artificial, prolonged misunderstanding. It was delightfully absent from this book and it all comes back to characters acting like real adults. Even in their most idiotic moments, they remained true to their characterisations instead of changing to fit the whims of the plot.
As for the reason why I now have a “can-I-has-a-Devin” shelf, let’s just say—without spoiling the book for everyone else—that the man knows the right things to say. (Yes, I’m aware that a woman wrote him.) He has brilliant scenes with Rachel and another character where he expresses his unwavering love, devotion, and trust in her. Once he’s in, he’s in. He’s made up his mind and he won’t let her insecurities drive him away, and he trusts her to figure it out eventually.
I’ll need to read that other book by Bliss I bought on the Harlequin Christmas sale. Then I’ll know if I’ll be adding another author on my list of favourites....more
This novella surprised me. It’s written in first person voice from Jacob’s pointThis review can now also be found on Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell-blog.
This novella surprised me. It’s written in first person voice from Jacob’s point of view and in some ways it reminded me of Muscling Through, which I absolutely loved. Jacob isn’t quite up to par with Al, but he does have his own voice.
The focus here isn’t the M/M romance or the sex, it’s Jacob’s characterisation. It’s the moment in his life when something needs to give and change. For too long Jacob has just been ignoring his needs, not just sexual but social. As awkward as interacting with strange people and huge groups is for him, he soldiers on and forces himself to face his fears each and everyday. He just never stopped to think that facing someone isn’t the same thing as opening up to them.
Then he falls for Elijah.
This is where the trope I’m not overly fond of comes in. Elijah is a hooker who works in an alley Jacob walks through on his way home from work. They both know it can’t possibly work, but they throw themselves into the attraction anyway, and figure out a way. Or try to.
What I absolutely loved was the fact Black doesn’t make it easy for her characters. I was a little worried I wouldn’t be able to suspend my disbelief for the fairytale ending with the magical I love you’s that fix everything in fetishistic M/M erotica. I shouldn’t have been, because there isn’t a fairytale ending with magical I love you’s for these men. There’s something better. It’s raw and real and it’s on both of their terms.
It feels good to add something on my “recommending” shelf again....more
Kirja oli fantasiaa siitä hetkestä, kun tajusin sen kertovan kahdesta Lontoossa asuvasta suomalaisnaisesta. Tämän jälkeen, fiktiivinen hakkerointi, laKirja oli fantasiaa siitä hetkestä, kun tajusin sen kertovan kahdesta Lontoossa asuvasta suomalaisnaisesta. Tämän jälkeen, fiktiivinen hakkerointi, laittomat aseradat, poliisin toimintaan sekaantuminen, sekä uskottavuuden rajoja koetteleva loppuratkaisu eivät tuntuneet missään. Näin sain vain nauttia hyvästä tarinasta.
Vaikka pidinkin rauhallisesti etenevästä juonesta ja pohdiskelevasta kerronnasta, olisi ainakin kirjan alkupuoliskoa voinut vielä hieman karsia. Turhaan toistetut yksityiskohdat rassasivat melkein yhtä paljon kuin Mamian ensimmäinen tarkoituksettomalta tuntunut nettipuhelu.
Nyt kaduttaa etten ole lukenut Hiltusen ensimmäistä kirjaa Viattomasti sinun, joka saattaisi selittää jotkut Lian hahmossa minua ärsyttäneet puolet. Kahdesta päähenkilöstä enemmän pidin Marista ehkä juuri etäisyytensä ja varautuneisuutensa takia. Hänen taustansa muuten livahti samalla syvälle sinne fantasia maailmojen mappiin.
Jos Hiltunen jatkaa sarjaa, toivoa sopii hänen hyödyntävän Rauteen sisaruksia sopivalla tavalla.
Let’s call it a modern fantasy mystery and leave it at that. There’s no magic involved, but the setting in itself forces me to suspend disbelief to an extent where there’s only a good fictive story left.
Although I enjoyed the slow pace in the beginning i thought it needed another round of edits. Repetition and Mamia’s first call felt pointless and annoying. At the time.
I wonder if reading the first book of the series would have explained some of Lia’s annoying qualities. I liked Mari as a character better perhaps because of her reticence. Her character history is included with the fantastical elements of this novel.
If Hiltunen continues writing for this series, I can only hope he’ll bring back the Rautee siblings in appropriate context. ...more
Sota on sota ja ihiminen on ihiminen. Seleviytyjä. Taipuu tai hajoaa mutta selviytyy.
Hyvä tositarina vaikken Ketun muovaamista ihmishahmoista erityiseSota on sota ja ihiminen on ihiminen. Seleviytyjä. Taipuu tai hajoaa mutta selviytyy.
Hyvä tositarina vaikken Ketun muovaamista ihmishahmoista erityisemmin pitänytkään. Kielenkäyttö oli hiukka rivompaa kuin mihin olen kotona tottunut, lieneekö tuo sitten eteläisemmän paikkakunnan vai ajankohdan syytä.
I liked the story but I didn't particularly like the characters. The story is based on real events....more
The writing is not as polished as some I’ve read, the editor could have exercised a sharper scalpel at times, andUnpopular opinion reporting to duty.
The writing is not as polished as some I’ve read, the editor could have exercised a sharper scalpel at times, and the ending felt like a bit too tidy a bow: A single would have sufficed instead of a double.
But. It’s funny I use that word to justify a five star rating, but here it is:
Rowling is unmatched in her storytelling abilities. I’m sure there are others who can spin a yarn from as many—or more—threads as she does, but none come to mind right now. I positively despised all the characters, but I adored the complexity of them and the story that tied them together.
This isn’t only an unpopular opinion, it’s an unhelpful one. There are others who’ll gladly dissect the lives and events of unhappy Pagfordians for you, and there are others who’ll speculate on how this book fits in with others Rowling has written. I’m not one of them. All I can say is, that if you keep an open mind, if you void your expectations and whatever associations the name Rowling conjures, this book has the potential to amaze you.
You've seen the title, you don't need to read the blurb. You already know what happenThis review can also be found on Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell-blog.
You've seen the title, you don't need to read the blurb. You already know what happens. Question isn't when or where or even how. It happens. Rape happens, and this is a story of one survivor.
This is a story about how that one moment changes everything. How it changes people around you, strangers as well as family and friends. How it turns reasonable explanations into malicious comments. How gifts aren't simple gifts anymore but something more distressing.
The rape itself isn't shown, but Valerie relives through it as she tries to cope with the ramifications. She has her family around her, her mother, little sister, and even her somewhat absent big brother. She has friends, and she doesn't have friends. There are other adults involved as well. Everyone has an opinion of what happened or didn't happen they either want to share with her or shove it down her throat.
And that's how it is in real life. Rape is everyone's business. No wonder so many--too many--go unreported.
While I loved the realistic touch of the story, the simplicity of the events unfolding, and Valerie's reaction to them, I also thought it could have been done better. For example, I doubt Valerie's little sister could have escaped the situation as unscathed as she appeared to both in school and at home. It was strange that the house, her home, where it happened never felt unsafe to Valerie, not even for a moment. I bought the anger, the hurt, the depression, guilt for feeling like a normal teenager for two seconds, and every other feeling, just not the ease of it.
I'm not a rape survivor, I'm one of the lucky ones, and yet one of the scariest moments I've read was in this book--the moment when Valerie has to face her rapist. I wanted to scream and shout how could it be?! when I know--or think I know--how easy it is for man to think like that.
I saw Angela suggest in her review that this should be compulsory reading in high schools. I have to agree:
Now repeat after me: no means NO! No exceptions.
I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley....more
Daniel and Jacob meet on a ship, fall in love, and risk everything to be together. But there's a war, injuries, families, society, and decades betweenDaniel and Jacob meet on a ship, fall in love, and risk everything to be together. But there's a war, injuries, families, society, and decades between their happy ever after. I could have done with little less sex in the story, but every now and then it's nice to read a story where each short moment and a scene conveys something important about the characters and their relationship. That's what I felt I got here.
It took me as long as did to read this because I was trying to savour each word. ...more
There isn't anything I could say that hasn't already been said in the last sixty years. It's a short read. Short, poignant, and scarily accurate for tThere isn't anything I could say that hasn't already been said in the last sixty years. It's a short read. Short, poignant, and scarily accurate for today's world. ...more
It's a well written basic romance novel. It was the banter and from antagonists to lovers trope that I liked.
I had some issues with the progression ofIt's a well written basic romance novel. It was the banter and from antagonists to lovers trope that I liked.
I had some issues with the progression of the story and the pacing, but that might just be because the timeline of this story had to be retrofitted with the other story, Hot Island Nights, which I don't remember reading. ...more