This book is definitely a slow burn, and I don't know if it's just been a while, or the story dragged far more than his other stuff, but I remember enThis book is definitely a slow burn, and I don't know if it's just been a while, or the story dragged far more than his other stuff, but I remember enjoying his mysteries more.
Many aspects of the book felt like they were trying too hard to be witty and were verbose at the very least. At one point the narrator tells us that he's figured out something, but doesn't reveal what that something is for at least several pages, which feels less like a reveal and more like we're being purposefully kept in the dark in order for the "aha" to happen. Unfortunately, after the events we witness on the page, the reveal is...lackluster.
The information about glassblowing was interesting, and relevant to the story in many ways, but also bogged down the pace for me, but that could also be due to Francis' tendency to go on, at length, about things and to use twelve words when four would do.
I found the end to be mildly unsatisfying, not because the mystery wasn't solved, but rather...everything felt forced. The drama of the final scene seemed over the top, and as everything was revealed in a "This Is What Happened" way, I almost wished I'd skipped to the end. I didn't mind the summary so much as I felt cheated the chance to have figured things out along with the narrator--which either means I wasn't paying attention as the story unfolded or it just wasn't compelling enough to hold my attention OR the author phoned it in with this story.
I don't regret reading this story--I certainly learned a lot about glassblowing--but it's going to be hard for me to pick up the next Francis story for me....more
Overall An enjoyable, well-written story with a simple, interesting plot...unfortunately I feel the sheer amount of sex detracts from the complex charaOverall An enjoyable, well-written story with a simple, interesting plot...unfortunately I feel the sheer amount of sex detracts from the complex character building, leaving me with two not particularly likable characters who seem to have a sexual dynamic as their only basis for a relationship.
Review I think one of my biggest issues that arose comes from the expectations I had for the story. I really liked the cover art and the basis of the story. And in many ways I enjoyed the characters, both of whom are stubborn gits. But I struggled to feel any connection between the two leading men aside from sexual.
They had sex. A lot. Which may not bother most people, but I felt it detracted from time that could have been used to develop the emotional bond. I wanted these two to go together so badly, but I felt the ground beneath their feet was too flimsy to really stand up to a real relationship. Along those lines, there is a time skip that ends with a very nice scene that seems to show how much the two men mean to each other, but doesn't feel substantiated by any of their previous interactions.
Despite what appears to be mainly negatives about this story, I did enjoy it. The two men are dry and funny (and sometimes incredibly stupid). They snark and snap at each and for the most part can handle what the other brings. I can see the beginnings of a deep relationship, but I'm not sure the story we see fully develops it.
I was also a little confused about Kai's involvement with the murder suspect, why he kept hooking up with him, and how he felt toward him, or if it was purely a sexual matter, much like all his male-male relationships seem to be.
So mostly, I enjoyed this, but not as much as I was hoping, which could be in part due to my own expectations being disappointed.
Note: I read this all in one sitting during a miserable night of insomnia, but my glimpses back at the story afterward seem to reinforce my opinions above.
Overall A dramatic romance that toes the line of insta-love and sweeping rescue hero but has enough strong points to make all those elementStars: 3.5/5
Overall A dramatic romance that toes the line of insta-love and sweeping rescue hero but has enough strong points to make all those elements work. The mystery is well done with some disturbing images but no heart-stopping suspense.
Review I’ll freely admit that I have a giant soft spot for broken characters, so Miki pushes that button easily. He had a bad past and just when he was getting things together, life threw him a curveball. But then, it also threw him Detective Morgan, so it isn’t all bad. Kane is from a giant Irish family that is friendly and accepting (although a bit overwhelming). Even though he and Miki have a rough start, fate keeps tossing them together and makes it impossible for them to ignore the attraction they feel.
Kane plays the hero, sweeping in to protect and save Miki, while also healing him and teaching him to love. Analytically I could see how some readers would find this cliche or overdone, but I felt it was handled well and brought something to the relationship besides chemistry. Although I would definitely say that having a preference toward hurt/comfort helps.
While I found the police investigation to be a bit drawn out, I can see why it was done that way. Still, I think better pacing or balance between the police drama and the romance would have made for a quicker story. In addition, the amount of detail to settings and visuals threw me off sometimes, but I think it was more because I’m not used to reading stories with so much, so often, but that could just be me.
Miki’s emotional struggle is the driving purpose behind the book and what made it so easy for me to finish. I think anyone who doesn’t enjoy Miki will find this difficult to read, as he’s obviously a main character and his issues run deep. He develops and changes over the course of the story as he gets a support system, but for the majority he’s a prickly pear.
(view spoiler)[One sort of issue I had with the ending was the tagged on bit. It really threw me for a loop. It felt disconnected from the story at large although it was related to the events, and it had a very different feel from the main story. I can respect it’s potential necessity in order to introduce the idea before the next book (or else they would hardly feel connected at all) but it also made my brows go up and my nose wrinkle. If it weren't for this odd teaser at the end, the story would have concluded very satisfactorily. It still sort of does, but another can of worms is opened. (hide spoiler)]
Be sure to check out my other reviews on my blog.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Overall Don't judge this book by it's cover! Especially if you have the cover I did, which is a--I assume--Native American man (shirtless tStars: 3.5/5
Overall Don't judge this book by it's cover! Especially if you have the cover I did, which is a--I assume--Native American man (shirtless torso) in the foreground, a general casino backsplash, and a (shirtless torso) man in the middle ground who I assume is trying to be sexy but kind of looks in pain. I started reading it because 1) I got it free from MLR Press 2) I needed some bad fiction. Sometimes I just get my hopes up and they are dashed, or I know a story is going to be good but painful (emotionally) to read. Bad books rarely move me.
So imagine my surprise when this wasn't a bad book! The opening is a little rough, but the characters sucked me in, the plot was great, and I really enjoyed reading it. Even the parts I found weak (which I'm guessing is extremely personal preference), were easy enough to skim through and still enjoy.
I'd recommend this, especially to readers who like light mystery novels (where there is a mystery, but it shares the spotlight with the romance.
Review So the cover I have is BAD, but GoodReads tells me it's not the only one, so hopefully it was improved in other incarnations. If this were a print book I'd be embarrassed to hold that book in my hands. Thankfully it wasn't and I was able to dive into the story.
I had some issues in the beginning, I suspect mainly because the early chapters are heavy on sex and sex isn't really my thing in general, and this tended to be, while not porny, definitely a more sexualized encounter. And some of the sex dialogue makes me giggle, but sex dialogues tend do that. So it starts with Nick and Brandon meeting up at a con and having lots of yummy sex. They return to life and that's when things get interesting.
The development of the murder mystery storyline is blended seamlessly into the story, providing all the necessary information to solve the whodunit while not feeling that the characters are being dense or that the author is withholding information. In the beginning of the unraveling, everything feels natural and part of the story, not highlighting any specific events as part of the larger plot. Obviously as the characters begin to actively pull on strings, the events become more forced as they are the ones forcing things to happen. Still, it was all effortlessly pulled together. A word of note, this is not a suspenseful novel that makes your skin crawl and nervous glances over the shoulder. Overall it's as sunny as the location where it takes place.
These two guys are fun, quirky, and sweet. They like goth culture, being tied up, and hard screws in the night. I liked them and I liked their relationship, when they were together, and despite a somewhat hanging ending (since this is part of a series), it has a closed case and is hopeful.
Overall This is an OK read that left me struggling to suspend my disbelief and not roll my eyes at the series of cliches involving head injuries. The iOverall This is an OK read that left me struggling to suspend my disbelief and not roll my eyes at the series of cliches involving head injuries. The initial set up and character-personality switches works well, but I was pushed out of the story a bit too often, especially at the end. OK writing, interesting characters, and a good plot with mediocre elements left me lukewarm about this novel.
Warning: Some spoiler-ish content ahead.
Strengths The strongest part of this novel by far was the array of characters. Nash and Brody are interesting, and the supporting cast adds some nice spice to everything, from the bossy housekeeper and the well-meaning friend to the loving, no-nonsense mother. While it's hard to imagine Nash becoming a hard-ass when he's surrounded by family and friends, personal expectations do horrible things to people. I especially approve of how Nash's father was handled, seen as both a bad guy (tough with high expectations) and a good guy (a fair businessman and loving father). The cast made this story come to life.
The plot overall was an interesting concept, and although it relied on some weak building blocks, I enjoyed the situations the characters were put into. Brody facing the new, cruel Nash was a twisted hitch in their relationship, and Brody's struggles with handling this new lover was touching and sometimes heart-breaking. I appreciated that new Nash would have flashbacks of events that happened in the first part of the book, giving a sense that Nash was beginning to remember things.
The cover is very attractive and artistic, perfectly representing the book. The colors are soft and real and dry and bland split by a dizzying image of cars driving. Great representation.
Weaknesses This story relies heavily on the head-injury trope, which while in itself isn't bad, it does mire itself rather deeply in it. The first head injury is fine, as memory loss is often a side effect of such a traumatic experience. The second involves a little bit of suspension, but is feasible. The third incident is too convenient and cliche, coming across as deus ex machina. As if the author didn't know how else to resolve it and so took a short cut. I think if the memories hadn't been handled so well prior to that point, the final incident wouldn't have bothered me as much. The complete personality change that came with the final incident also felt random, as if he was becoming a man he wasn't. Too convenient.
This novel is a realistic contemporary novel, which left me with two issues: One, when Nash goes missing the first time, I find it hard to believe that his family (who are wealthy and influential) didn't broaden the search enough to find him, especially since they should have known the area he was last seen in. The hospital would have contacted the police when they had a John Doe and things should have connected, especially since databases tend to be at least state-wide. Of course, if this had happened, the story wouldn't have gone very far. The second issue is when Brody gets the job as a bodyguard. While I can see him getting sent in accidentally, I found it hard to believe that Nash's mother hadn't checked into the names/resumes of people being sent to her to guard her son. Also, where was the man who was supposed to show? I found it hard to believe that the protective and loving mother would just take a person charged with protecting her son at face value.
Requested this book for review. Be sure to check out my other reviews on my blog....more
Overall Although I think this novel would have been better off in movie form, it wasn't as bad as I was expecting from the few reviews I glanced at onOverall Although I think this novel would have been better off in movie form, it wasn't as bad as I was expecting from the few reviews I glanced at on GoodReads. While it wasn't fantastic, it wasn't terrible either. It was very unique and definitely was striving to try something new and different, which I have to applaud. For the most part the reader and the narrator are both completely confused and lost, which makes the first 60% of the novel difficult to sink into, but around that point everything starts to get explained and plenty of action happens.
People who like psychological thrillers may enjoy this book, as it's very heavily entrenched in the style of the reader and narrator not knowing what's going on and trying to reveal the answers. There's also plenty of fantastical elements in this grim story. It's not a book I'd recommend to most people, as the plot took a long time to develop, the writing was okay (not bad, but not enough to grab me either), and it's a very strange story. But I only struggled through one part, so it wasn't too bad. I wasn't terribly in love with the characters, and while I was interested in what was happening, it seemed to take too long to get around to it. Overall, I felt very blase about this book.
Review I don't think I can split this review evenly into Strengths and Weaknesses, so because the novel was different, I'm going to review it differently. Warning: Due to the nature of this book, I'm going to try not to hit any spoilers, but some small things may get through.
Ben is not an ideal hero and is an unreliable narrator because we spend over half the novel questioning if he's sane or not. He's struggling to start his life over after leaving his small town, but in addition to dealing with his psychic powers, he doesn't have a job and DOES have very strange neighbors, who he hasn't really met. Initially, Ben doesn't trust some of his neighbors, as he gets a very bad vibe from them, but later gives only the barest of resistence before falling into bed with them. His erratic behavior doesn't help the reader decide if he's sane or not, and even if he is sane, it leads us to question some other things about him and his decision to associate with people that he doesn't trust. I had a difficult time buying it, although some of it is explained by Ben's strained psyche and his confusion. I feel like the story was supposed to come across as him being manipulated, but it came across more that he was just being kind of stupid.
Not to say he wasn't being manipulated, because obviously large chunks of the story depend (rightly) on people lying to him constantly. Some parts of the manipulation were well done, it was just the initial switch from "bad vibe" to "hey, she's hot" that felt off to me. Speaking of which, Ben is bisexual, so floats between male and female lovers, although no sex is described on screen.
One of the most difficult elements of this book to get around is the mass confusion that the reader experiences through Ben. Because Ben can't tell what's real/true, neither can the reader, making for a very long beginning as the reader is dragged through events while Ben (often) makes poor decisions. Of course, the second half of the book goes a long way to explaining the first half, although it also raised some more questions, for me at least.
Having said all of that, this story does take the reader on quite the ride, from absolute confusion to mostly understanding which transforms into an action-y story. The characters are dark and are not people you'd typically want to become friends with, not even our lead narrator who is, overall, a good guy.
The worst part of the novel is when things start to be explained. The problem is that it gets explained all at once in an info dump like no other, where the reader finds out all sorts of supernatural stuff that was minimally hinted at before. Not only is all the information thrown at the reader at once, but it makes the first half of the story and the second half of the story feel like two different beasts. While I can see the need for the confusion in the beginning and the explanation, I didn't feel like they were well handled. A different approach to reach the same ending probably would have made this a very enjoyable story instead of a mediocre read.
There were creative elements of this novel that I really enjoyed, and some world building that I felt, if approached in a differently would have created a dark and interesting world. The struggle for sanity and reality was interesting, as was the fight for the self. However, the story didn't feel realized, and while I finished it, and enjoyed it for the most part, I can see most readers giving up on what is a difficult book to get through with varying levels of reward.
Requested this book for review. Be sure to check out my other reviews on my blog....more
Overall A classic detective/murder mystery with a gay romance twist, this World War II story starts with a rainy day in December and pullsStars: 4.5/5
Overall A classic detective/murder mystery with a gay romance twist, this World War II story starts with a rainy day in December and pulls you through the dreary streets of Los Angeles and the surrounding area. In a world where everyone has secrets, Nathan Doyle has a secret that could ruin his life if it gets out. In order to keep it quiet, he and Lieutenant Matt Spain race one another to solve the mystery first. While the mystery ties the story together, this is a study of two men in a difficult time period, one of whom is struggling with himself while desperate for human contact. The strength of the book is in the writing as the reader sinks into the characters and doesn't want to leave even as he reads the last lines.
I'm excited to learn that Lanyon plans to continue this as a series with a second book due in 2012.
Strengths Writing. Lanyon's writing is excellent and very smooth, giving the impression of the time period without confusing the reader. There is something very clean about the writing, leaving the story to shine through. Highly enjoyable and a pleasure to read.
Characters. Matt and Nathan are both good guys who want the right thing, and also both happen to want something for which society can throw them in prison. It's hard not to like them, especially when they're surrounded by a bunch of shady characters that they interview while trying to solve the case. It doesn't hurt that the pair has a good dynamic in their actions and dialogue.
Atmosphere. Aside from the major conflict of the time period (aka, sexuality), I liked how Lanyon integrated minor points about things relating to it being during World War II and the small hardships this caused, such as foods and drinks not being available and older people who would have been retired needing to work since able-bodied men were at war.
Plot. The story was intriguing without being too suspenseful (which could count against it for some people, I suppose). There is a sense of danger, but not so much that the reader is constantly fearful for the main characters' lives. I enjoyed the resolution, though it could be construed as cliche, I think that's what I enjoyed most about it!
Weaknesses A very minor detail, but in the beginning the PoV switches only seemed to happen between chapters, but as the novel progressed they seemed to happen more often and without regard to chapter ends. Also, and this probably just the formatting of my copy, but there were times when jumps in time or perspective occurred and there was no space in the text to indicate it.
Overall While this novel has an interesting premise and a selection of interesting characters, the eventual plot-line (and consequential ending) left mOverall While this novel has an interesting premise and a selection of interesting characters, the eventual plot-line (and consequential ending) left me tepid. The writing, which felt beautiful and strong in the beginning, began to wear on my patience as the novel progressed. I enjoyed Dexter's "emotional" dilemma at the end, but the rest of the ending left me going..."oh. Meh." Most of it I saw coming and the rest left me feeling like it was TOO prepared to be a series.
Strengths A creative idea. The idea of writing a book from the perspective of a "good guy" serial killer is interesting and is what drew me in.
Writing. My initial feeling is that the writing is good, but sometimes it does become a little "full of itself." It's very descriptive and sometimes stream of Dexter's consciousness, which gives the reader a good idea about what kind of person Dexter is and how attentive he is--and what kinds of things he's attentive to.
Weaknesses The resolution, if we can call it that, didn't work for me. The author requires us to take too many leaps of faith that seem untrue to his characters. Also, because this is a series, it leaves multiple of threads unfinished, which is understandable. However, the main thread of the book is also left unfinished, which seems cheap to me.
Overall The subhead of this story should have been "Not Just Another Murder Mystery," in keeping with Lanyon's humor, which I appreciate. Our main charOverall The subhead of this story should have been "Not Just Another Murder Mystery," in keeping with Lanyon's humor, which I appreciate. Our main character is the classic bookstore owner (Ethan), who runs shop mostly so he can read the books he keeps stocked. He lives in a small town of under 500 residents and is gay...not a good combination for romance! However, there are some new arrivals to the town: a candy shop owner, a dojo owner, and a series of mysterious deaths.
When he's not embarrassing himself with Michael, the dojo owner, Ethan's dealing with Kyle, a member of his writer's circle whose serial killer series is a little too real for most residents. When Kyle starts seeking Ethan's attention, Ethan begins to wonder if the lurking man could be the murderer.
Lanyon once again weaves an amusing and enjoyable tale, mixing humor and mystery, which seems an unlikely duo. Although the ending felt abrupt, we weren't left with any unresolved ends, even if it does leave me wanting for more....more
Overall: I don't do suspense novels, or murder mysteries, or the likes. I read this because it had men kissing men, and I wanted to try out sStars: 5/5
Overall: I don't do suspense novels, or murder mysteries, or the likes. I read this because it had men kissing men, and I wanted to try out some of the author's stuff. And...I think I'm in love! That may be an exaggeration, but I did, thoroughly, enjoy this novel. If you want action, suspense, romance and/or hot sex scenes (not all at once), then definitely give this book a try. I just finished reading it, and I want to start all over again.
What worked If I say "everything" you won't believe me, but nothing really let me down. Still, there were strengths.
Plot. Although romance is a strong theme in this book, it wasn't the overwhelming focus, and I think that's what really drew me in. If you're looking for a book full of mushy love scenes, this isn't it. If you're looking for a story where the man gets his man while saving the world (so to speak), then pick this up. The plot developed slowly and carefully without lagging or rushing while giving just as many misleads to the reader while still making it just as possible for the reader to figure it out (sorta). Everything feels realistic and tastefully gritty.
Characters. All the characters were deep and multifaceted. Elliot was easy to relate to without being too soft; he wasn't perfect (none of the characters were, refreshingly), but he was strong (and a little stubborn). Tucker (the love interest) was tough and rescued Elliot but began to show a soft side to balance out his FBI exterior. Plus all the supporting cast played their parts well, mixing up the plot until you're not sure who the killer is.
What I didn't like Only two problems.. ...actually, as I typed out the two problems, they sort of resolved themselves for me. One was limitations of our narrator, that we never understood where Tucker was coming from, which clouded some ability to believe for me, but is excusable. The other, involving the killer and a victim, made me question why, but I was able to reconcile that as well, after consideration....more
If left to my own devices, I probably wouldn't have read this book. As a mystery/action novel, it isn't my usual genre, and “gay for you” is not my faIf left to my own devices, I probably wouldn't have read this book. As a mystery/action novel, it isn't my usual genre, and “gay for you” is not my favorite type story. As it happens, this was the July novel for my one book group and after debating briefly with myself, I bought the book, because the purpose of me joining this group was to try new things.
What I liked:
Plot: Strong, well thought out, complex. There were multiple characters doing work in the background, even the a large portion of the book involved the two men being stuck together in hiding. Everything was also wrapped up nicely so we weren't left wondering about anything.
Sex: A good balance. Not too much, both in quantity and in description. Was well fit into the story and didn't disrupt the flow. Never felt like a scene was forcing sex just to have sex in it.
Characters: Everyone had good depth. There were good relationships (outside of the pairing) and interactions. People grew, changed, and learned.
What I didn't like:
Ending: I didn't feel like the novel had an ending so much as a teetered off telling of their lives. The main action happens, then a chunk of time follows and then the falling action happens. I understand the need for this and was content to have this delay before everything finished up. However, after the ending there was still 2 chapters after what I consider to be the end (one chapter and one epilogue). They were interesting, but bogged down the ending from a nice clean cut to a meandering (which is explained by the fact that she was short stories involving these characters, which is what the last two chapters feel like.
Relationship: Sudden. I'm not against their relationship, and I'm glad they get together, but the actual event felt sudden. I could see things forming a little on at least one side, but the abruptness still felt forced. Like, “I'm getting too far into the book, need some action to happen now.” But once it was started, things paced well.
Enjoyable. I'd recommend this to people in the genre (M/M) and even those outside of it, assuming they don't mind gay sex (although I'd probably recommend skipping the last two parts, unless they want more gay sex). ...more