This was charming, funny, clever, and well-written. Loved every aspect of fandom/shipping in the story and found myself shaking my head and laughing aThis was charming, funny, clever, and well-written. Loved every aspect of fandom/shipping in the story and found myself shaking my head and laughing at all the commenting shenanigans... because ::hand up/head down:: Guilty. Reading about fandom and theories and shipping was like lovingly making fun of myself. Brilliantly done and caused much giggling and ugly laughing from Yours Truly.
I normally get frustrated with religious-guilt stories, but this felt very authentic and heartbreaking in the sense that it seemed like Brandon was more afraid of giving up family and the comfort of tradition than he was over being shunned by God. The latter was evident, too, but I was more pulled in by his flashbacks to his parents helping with church functions, and comfortable home rituals. It was very clear that Brandon's parents loved him despite their concern for his spiritual welfare.
My only gripe with this book was the resolution with Father Mike. Without resorting to spoilers, I'll just say I was expecting different results.
Solid four- (five- were it not for my one gripe) star read. Highly recommended. I look forward to reading more from this author. ...more
One of the things I love about Con Riley's Seattle Stories series is that you don't need to read the books in sequence to fully enjoy them. Each instaOne of the things I love about Con Riley's Seattle Stories series is that you don't need to read the books in sequence to fully enjoy them. Each installment stands firmly on its own. My having read the entire series to date might make one question how I can say that since I know the whole story and could quite possibly fill in any blanks with what I know of earlier installments. Yes, I have read the first three books—but I actually read Aiden's story first. I got to pre-read Aiden's Luck before it was submitted for publication (and we won't get into how jealous I was that the quality of her rough draft was leagues above that of second and third drafts of my own work. It's almost absurd, really). There was enough backstory included to appreciate the supporting characters and how they fit into Aiden's life, and it was effortlessly woven throughout the narrative instead of info-dumped right up front. THANK YOU, CON! THANK. YOU. Even better? The supporting characters make you want to go through the author's backlist to find out if one of your favorites has their own story. (Intrigued by Theo? Get yourself a box of Kleenex and pick up a copy of After Ben!)
Adoption is a complex, emotional issue and one that is handled in Aiden's Luck so very well. The author really captures the experience of an adopted person's need to belong, the need for stability, and the keen instinct of self-preservation. This is really evident with Evan and how he's always physically labeled everything (and how his adoptive father has supported this is so very touching!), and how Aiden struggles under the unbearable weight of keeping things at status quo after David's passing. And how does one reconcile the sense of abandonment from one's birth parents with the love and compassion of an adopted family? Especially when that person's heritage is a complete mystery?
Aiden is a ridiculously strong man who doesn't realize that sharing his burdens with others doesn't diminish that strength. He has completely shouldered the responsibility of provider after David Daly passed away, and has given no thought to how he misses out on things he'd ordinarily be able to have: a new vehicle, new phone, a vacation, etc. His only concern is keeping his family together after such a terrible loss. While his intentions are misguided, believing it his sole obligation to support his family instead of accepting help that is there, he's much stronger than most could hope to be. A lesser person would have walked away from everything.
Like Aiden, Marco is also a family man. He loves fiercely and he is so utterly devoted to the people he cares about. True enough, Aiden isn't technically his family (but as Aiden has already proven, blood is simply part of one's genetic makeup, and a surname but a label). Despite this, Marco does everything in his power to make Aiden see that he is cherished and treasured—his tesoro. He lavishes him with homemade meals, offers of help, and his undivided attention. It's so very easy to fall head over heels for him—even more so when Aiden finally sees him as more than just an annoying "pocket Italian", and more for the adoring, headstrong man he truly is.
Aiden's Luck's supporting characters are so endearing. I'm crazy about Aiden's brother, Evan, and Evan's meddling boyfriend Joel. Peter's father, Paul, and how he works hard to do right by his son—illustrated by his extensive and continuous carpentry work around Peter's house—is especially sweet. Jack, the librarian, is hysterical, and Marco's entire family is so very warm and delightful—even when Marco's brothers get lazy.
Aiden's story is one of heartbreak, determination, and love… and one that will definitely make the reader reinterpret their understanding of the word "luck." Like Con Riley's first two Seattle Stories installments, Aiden's Luck is a five-star read, and I highly recommend it to everyone....more
An articulate review will appear in this spot soon, but for now, suffice it to say I effing LOVED this! Fun, sexy, imaginative... I highly recommend aAn articulate review will appear in this spot soon, but for now, suffice it to say I effing LOVED this! Fun, sexy, imaginative... I highly recommend and will definitely read it again. Bravo, Mr. Monopoli!!!
**ETA AN ARTICULATE REVIEW**
As much as my love for Ben Monopoli makes me hate to admit it, if Homo Action Love Story! had been written by an author with whom I was not familiar (had to throw in a complicated bit of unnatural-sounding grammar to make Clemente proud), I might not have taken a chance on this fantastic novel. I love Mr. Monopoli's honest writing style and the easy way he can suck the reader into a scene. His characters are realistic, flawed, frustrating, and perfect in their imperfection. Reading the blurb and the quirky title for his latest novel, though, I was expecting more slapstick comedy and porn than believable story and incredible intimacy. As an adoring fan of Mr. Monopoli's, however, I just had to read it… and it was so zilla awesome, I read it twice.
Homo Action Love Story! kicks off with an interesting author's note preparing the reader for a little bit of what's to come:
"Homo Action Love Story! takes place in a medically advanced future, where the only risk for two people who go to bed together is the risk of a broken heart.
This is not our world.
"Always be safe."
This tells the reader three things:
1. Sex scenes will not include condoms. While that's not unusual in fiction, it gives the reader happy, fuzzy feelings at the possibility of a disease-free future, while at the same time, taking away any anxiety a reader may feel at characters putting their health at risk with not practicing safer sex. Blanket permission to suspend belief in such a way makes, for me at least, a more relaxing read.
2. Such a reality doesn't yet exist, so fans need to take their health seriously.
3. There might be flying cars in this bright and beautiful future. Okay, so that last bit wasn't the case in this book. Readers will expect, though, that other advances, apart from medical, will have been made, and other aspects of society at large could be vastly different.
Homo Action Love Story! is packed with steamy romance, athletic guys, and tons of action… and not just of the bedroom variety. But, my favorite part? All the future tech. It makes my brain happy, okay? Flexiglass is a nifty material used for everything, from Jumbotrons, to TVs, to cell phones, to tablets. In its use with tablets in this tale, it's paper-like in structure and can be smoothed out and snapped to a rigid state. Freaking sweet. Currency is no longer carried in one's wallet—one can just "flick" money (and business cards, addresses, etc.) to others with their cell phone. And vehicles are powered with hydrogen engines… yes, please! I want all these things to exist right now. Mr. Jetson can keep his flying cars. Just give me a flexiglass phone that I can use to flick money I don't have to people I don't want to give it to.
Another delightful futuristic aspect of this story is how wildly popular the sport of paintball is. Football is a thing of the past, and the Splatter Cup is the new Super Bowl.
Hell to the yeah!
Much like present celebrity athletes, celebrity paintballers are paid exorbitant amounts of money to play the game. Unlike today's athletes, these players can't afford to make it big and later slack off on the field and get paid just for showing up. There are consequences to screwing up in a match. If a player suffers a kill shot, one that would be fatal if they'd been struck by an actual bullet, that player has been "simu-killed". Simu-death, or simulated death, results in exile where a simu-dead player gets whisked off the field via helicopter and taken to a top-secret location to spend the next five years isolated from everyone and everything. Simu-dead paintballers don't get cell phones, TV, or get to have any kind of contact from anyone back home. The threat of a five-year separation from everything one knows and loves is a pretty good incentive to do one's best in the arena. And as Boots McHenry discovers, it's something that can happen to the best of players, and it can turn one's entire world upside-down.
This isn't your typical "Boy meets boy, boy falls in love with boy, boy loses boy, boy gets boy back" love story.
Whoa, that was a lot of "boy"s… how appropriate!)
…it's more like a "Pro paintballer meets pro paintballer, pro paintballer falls in love with pro paintballer, pro paintballer loses pro paintballer, pro paintballer's pro-paintballer best friend takes him on a fantastic adventure filled with mixed-martial artists and bitter exes and adorable fans and pirates and sharks and…" (have I mentioned this book is packed with tons of action?) kind of story. If you love tales with loveable dudes, paintball, intrigue, plot twists, raucously fun sex, high-seas adventure, naked remote-control interviews, and lube wrestling… wait. I didn't tell you about all that? Well, you'll just have to read Homo Action Love Story! (more than once, because it's that good) to find out how incredibly awesome this tall tale really is. You won't be sorry. ...more
DNF. Was too difficult for me to keep up with POVs to the point where I had to reread several times to discern who was actually narrating. What was eqDNF. Was too difficult for me to keep up with POVs to the point where I had to reread several times to discern who was actually narrating. What was equally difficult was how it read like an episode of Supernatural, and the editing in spots was jarring, taking me completely out of the story--missing punctuation, repetitive words and story inconsistencies to name a few (though, the last could very well be explained later in the story, but I just didn't care enough to continue).
I was disappointed because I like the author's other series, The Making of a Man. While the genres are decidedly different, the quality of this was just far below what I've come to expect from Ms. Adams. ...more
Short, cute, and full of fluff. The blink-and-you-miss-it bit of drama near the end threw me a little; it came out of nowhere and felt a tad forced. OShort, cute, and full of fluff. The blink-and-you-miss-it bit of drama near the end threw me a little; it came out of nowhere and felt a tad forced. Overall, though, it was fun to read....more
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!!! Refreshingly original, charming language, and endearing characters. The title theme all throughout was perfectly acBeautiful, beautiful, beautiful!!! Refreshingly original, charming language, and endearing characters. The title theme all throughout was perfectly accurate, to the story and in life in general. Timshel is a Hebrew word meaning, "thou mayest", that man has a choice. To quote the Mumford and Sons song of the same name, "And you have your choices/ And these are what make man great/ His ladder to the stars" - it's so very true. You may not choose your upbringing, your station in life, your abilities, or the kind of person you're attracted to, but you *do* have a choice in what you do with your circumstance. You can choose to use your gifts to enrich/help others, you can choose to change your environment, you can choose to live in love rather than in denial and shame. Eiland himself summed it up perfectly: "This was not an easy choice to make. But, Eiland had begun to realize, the important ones were never easy."
Eiland's tale of growth and love in the face of great adversity--illness, prejudice, danger--was inspiring and so delightfully told. I highly recommend this to everyone, and anxiously await new titles from this author....more
I enjoyed the twin dynamic in this more than the romance. Had a hard time right up until the end believing Dylan and Mike had that much chemistry. RegI enjoyed the twin dynamic in this more than the romance. Had a hard time right up until the end believing Dylan and Mike had that much chemistry. Regardless of any mentions of feelings between them, it was difficult for me to accept their relationship as anything more than a big experiment in getting off for Dylan. For Mike, I couldn't help but think it was just a novel experience for him: new relationship, different kind of guy. When the L word came up, it felt forced to me. I found myself caring much more about Dylan's relationship with his twin than I did for his relationship with Mike. Romance aside, I enjoyed the story. ...more
Admittedly, I bought this bc I knew from reading the Deviations series, the author could deliver in the smut department, and that's what I was lookingAdmittedly, I bought this bc I knew from reading the Deviations series, the author could deliver in the smut department, and that's what I was looking for (sue me). While that was the case in this book, I was kinda looking forward to reading a well-developed M/M/M story, but it just didn't seem to deliver.
The evolution of the trio relationship just didn't seem to come across as realistic to me. The external conflict, dealing with work and familial acceptance was there, but I was surprised to see zero internal conflict within the triad (later drama appearing in the book aside... they were together for quite a while before that happened), and it just read as too sunshine-and-roses idealistic for the most part.
None of the characters seemed to have a unique voice and I had trouble keeping up with whose POV the story was in each time it shifted (early on, it was especially difficult with instances of headhopping within a scene).
Two-thirds of the story was very happy-go-lucky, which I could have remained on board with until a little while after Eric came into the picture and then there's a Drama Mack Truck suddenly showing up to deliver plot that seemed to be missing for about 200 pages. The Drama Truck just seemed to exist for its own sake and it was a very awkward read for me after that. It had the potential to be interesting given the subject matter, but the abrupt change in tone was jarring and just didn't seem to fit the story up until that point.
I skimmed the last 20-30 pages or so just to reach the end (instead of just stopping and shelving it as abandoned bc I was ~90% through it). I was sad for that because I realized I just didn't care what happened to the characters any more.
2 stars instead of 1 bc I did enjoy the erotic aspect of the story....more
Much like with Mr. Monopoli's The Cranberry Hush, The Painting of Porcupine City has left me emotionally wrung out. The author has such a beautiful waMuch like with Mr. Monopoli's The Cranberry Hush, The Painting of Porcupine City has left me emotionally wrung out. The author has such a beautiful way with words that makes even the simplest life events a pleasure to read. Tons of funny moments, several OMG moments, and a handful of heart-shredding moments made this such a wonderful book. Highly recommended. I need more tales from Mr. Monopoli. Lots more....more
Fantastic! This isn't your everyday, run-of-the-mill love story. It's a life story. It's chock full of family complexities, health issues, and real-liFantastic! This isn't your everyday, run-of-the-mill love story. It's a life story. It's chock full of family complexities, health issues, and real-life aspects that one rarely finds in the romance genre.
Sometimes the story is gritty and uncomfortable to read, but life is like that sometimes (many would argue LOTS of times): gritty and uncomfortable. Dealing with the loss of a family member, trying to reconcile the hurt caused in the past, and still staying true to your word would be an insane amount of pressure on anyone's shoulders. Add to that, the chaos Sean was left to deal with as a result of his father's passion and his untreated mental illness would break the average person. I can't see how Sean managed to keep a single pretty red hair on his head before Peter showed up. I would have stripped my own head bald in frustration.
I was so glad to see Peter find happiness with Sean after he failed to find it with Theo (from Con Riley's first Seattle novel, After Ben). I can imagine someone getting frustrated with his forward thinking and the way he blurts out everything in his head, but I LOVE that so much. I found myself laughing every few pages because of his lack of a filter. There's one scene in particular where Peter agrees to buy Sean a puppy. When you get to that scene, you'll realize just how wonderfully endearing his filter-less brain truly is (and laugh until you pee!). I loved seeing his relationship with his father unfold. His father breaks my heart and how he does everything he can to make things right and grow closer with Peter made me fall in love with him.
Generally speaking, I'm not entirely fond of stories that feature characters who fall in love rather quickly, but Peter and Sean's relationship felt perfectly right to me. Sometimes it DOES just click, and when you're in an environment where you're basically forced to bare your souls to each other over the course of two weeks, there's really not an awful lot they could do to improve their relationship by dating over the course of many weeks/months/whatever. Not to mention how the tension absolutely CRACKLES when they're sharing the same space. And in bed? (...or in the tent, or on the table, or...) Have mercy! ::fans self::
Sean's sister (Maggie, Theo's assistant from After Ben) killed me. As far as financial struggles and taking care of a spouse and children go, I can sympathize with her completely. When times are hard, and you have to decide between the mortgage payment and feeding your babies, you do ANYTHING you can to take care of your family. Familial misunderstandings happen, tempers flare, and desperation makes you do and say things you may not be proud of later. She is painfully human and I was holding my breath throughout the entire book hoping things would work out.
Con Riley has a way to get the reader right in the gut. There are Issues Books, where characters are tackling addiction/crime or the complexities of coming out, etc. ...and there are Life Books. Saving Sean definitely fits into the latter category. The attention to detail and the compassion evident in how Con Riley tells Peter and Sean's story is real. And So. Very. Good.
This was a fantastic continuation of the Loka Legends series. It was so very easy to get lost in this world. I fell in love with the new characters anThis was a fantastic continuation of the Loka Legends series. It was so very easy to get lost in this world. I fell in love with the new characters and was so happy to revisit the one from The Cat in the Cradle. Mr. Bell's storytelling is unparalleled, his stories so vivid. "Darkness" was no exception.
Kio was amazing (seriously... he needs an action figure), Dylan and Tyjinn were perfect, I wanted to hug Cole and Jonah until they both passed out, and Crimson Barry and Thistle TORE MY HEART TO SHREDS. And while I was heartbroken near the end of the book (much like I was in the VERY BEGINNING ::side eyes Mr. Bell:: ), the final scene was exquisite. I could not have been happier with how that turned out.
I was a bit overwhelmed with some of the POV changes, as I'm not used to experiencing more than two in a story/book. I was also slightly disappointed with how Krale's fate and Kio's heritage was handled near the end, as I felt they were both a bit rushed. Those are what kept this from being a 5-star-read for me.
Fantastic fantasy (is that like redundant repetition? ::shrug:: Whatever... it was awesome). I highly recommend it. ...more
Fantastic mystery. By the end, I was suspecting everyone, so I was surprised at the reveal. Very well-told and authentic; clearly well-researched, whiFantastic mystery. By the end, I was suspecting everyone, so I was surprised at the reveal. Very well-told and authentic; clearly well-researched, which is refreshing to see. I highly recommend this to who-done-it fans and lovers of cop dramas. ...more