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 char...moreOverall 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.(less)
Overall The first of two books telling Ayden and Freyrik's story, I'd recommend readers diving in to the story be prepared to have Crescendo on hand af...moreOverall The first of two books telling Ayden and Freyrik's story, I'd recommend readers diving in to the story be prepared to have Crescendo on hand after finishing Counterpoint. The novel is lengthy, a slow build from enemies to lovers, but the emotions on both end are eloquently executed as the pair learns to trust and care for one another while navigating the landmines their races' history has thrown in the way.
While this story is definitely a romance, it is just as equally an epic fantasy, where mankind is battling against supernatural monsters in order to survive and elves wield nature's magic. The fight for survival and victory is just as central to the story as the battle for their relationship. This is an amazing adventure of the heart and the mind that drives the reader to the cusp, clinging on by the tips of the fingers.
Strengths Although I'd love to list every positive attribute of this novel, I'll refrain and only pick those points that jumped out at me. However, this book really encompasses the definition of epic fantasy romance and is epic-ly fantastic (see what I did there?).
The first thing I noticed when I started reading was the strength and natural flow of the writing, followed by the incredible world development. Although Haimowitz's world takes from some general mythos (elves have magical powers, humans are bitchy angry), she also makes this world her own, building up unique enemies and social mores. The world is painted beautifully--in the case of the elves--and darkly--in the case of the human world--bringing to life the characters that inhabit it.
Ayden and Freyrik are interesting, unique characters who clash wonderfully and meld together just as hotly. But they aren't the only characters who bring life to this story. Along with various bullies (the lead of which is the First Wife), Freyrik's right-hand man (Lord Lini) is a shining example of a good friend. I think because he has so little to gain by being so loyal, his loyalty is all the more precious. The various characters add a level of depth, and although the cast is expansive, the flow of actors is expertly handled to avoid confusion and clutter.
Finally, the plot. Oh the plot. A mix of master trying to win a slave's heart, two warriors clashing, a fight for survival of the human race, and a ribbon of political intrigue that taints it all. There is so much in this story to feast on that you will finish it sated--and hungry for more. Thankfully, the next book promises to be just as hearty. While this plot isn't fast faced, it's detailed and thorough, leaving the reader guessing while vibrating with anxiety to see what becomes of the heroes.
Weaknesses Not a weakness, but something to be warned going in: This is part one of two parts. Just like Lord of the Rings, the book ends without complete resolution of important matters that are to be resolved in the second book.
Another word of warning, while this isn't a slow or sedate novel, it does take time to build in order for everything to fall into place. It is not a short little romance, but that is also what makes it so amazing. There is a fair amount of politics involved, and I imagine there will be more in the second novel, but it's balanced by the character development and danger--from external and internal factors.
Note: I linked to the Riptide Publishing version above, but I read the first printing from Guiltless Pleasure Publishing. Be sure to check out my other reviews on my blog.(less)
Overall I was under the impression that this book was a romance, which it really isn't as the romantic elements take a back seat to a lot of other dram...moreOverall I was under the impression that this book was a romance, which it really isn't as the romantic elements take a back seat to a lot of other dramas and the traditional story of a romance (two people struggling to be together) is lacking, although there is discord among the couples. That aside, I think some people may be able to (and obviously have) enjoy this book more than me. While the writing was good and the story itself was rather interesting, I never became attached to most of the characters, and as this was a third-person, limited omniscient point of view, that made my job reading difficult--and it did feel like a job. At 60% of the way I started skimming, especially when less desirable characters were narrating. I only started really reading again toward the end. If I was giving this an enjoyability score, it would be a 1. The writing pulls it up to a 2 for me, and knowing that this story just wasn't my cup of tea but recognizing its strengths brings it to a 3.
Warning: Contains homosexual and heterosexual couples and scenes. Also, people sensitive to rape should be warned.
Strengths The writing was good, definitely smooth, well constructed and enjoyable. I think if the writing style had been weaker, I would have given up on the book much sooner.
The characters are all very realistic with faults and good points. None of them are black and white but instead fall in a wide spectrum of gray, often questioning their behaviors but still making choices, even when they are conflicted about them. I recognize this as a good thing, even if I didn't particularly enjoy it in this circumstance. The plot, overall, was realistic as well, aside from one point made below.
Weaknesses I am in no way involved in the justice system, so I could be wrong here (most my education comes from Law & Order: SVU). But when they had a DNA sample from Jason, wouldn't they automatically take DNA samples from all the men he encounters on a daily basis who could have been suspects, thus cutting down on who could have done it? Obviously this is a small town, so things could be different, but that bugged me a little (especially since it was so important to the story).
Characters. I never really connected with any of the characters, and those I did didn't take the role of narrator very often. Austin and Jason were two of my favorites, but they only had snippets of focus. The one detective (Alan) annoyed me in the beginning, but I grew to understand his torn perspective and desire to escape the town. However, the majority of the book is spent in the heads of characters I don't care about (Paul, Shelley and Shelley's mom) or Sean, who I feel conflicted about. I think having a child may help the reader associate with more characters, although it shouldn't necessarily be the reader's job to bring the emotions to the table.
Pace. As I was reading, I wanted to know how everything worked out, which is why I kept going, even as I started skimming. However, so much of the story felt overburdened by description and all the thoughts behind an individual's actions that it slowed to a drudging pace. As I wasn't emotionally involved with most of the characters I was reading, I didn't care what they were thinking/feeling. However, I also understand that if the reader is emotionally involved, then they will feel the same struggles that the characters feel and will probably enjoy this drawn out struggle as the different characters try to figure out everything. It just didn't work for me. At all.
Overall After the first book I read by Sexton (Between Sinners and Saints), I was hesitant to read another Sexton book, for fear it could...moreStars: 4-4.5/5
Overall After the first book I read by Sexton (Between Sinners and Saints), I was hesitant to read another Sexton book, for fear it couldn't live up to the previous. However, now that I've read another excellent book by Sexton, I feel like I should tentatively add her to a favorite author's list.
I was not too impressed by the first few chapters; the writing wasn't grabbing me and not much was happening with the characters. But all at once I fell in love with Lizzy (after she says something teasingly to Jared) and everything in the story started to come together and I began to settle into the wonderful journey that Sexton provided. My initial lackluster response was probably due to the style of writing, which I fell is more casual and, while not quite stream-of-conscious, it has a more personality to it. This isn't a negative, and it definitely works as the story progresses, but it kept me from really sinking into the story at the beginning (although I'm not sure why). By the end I was in love with the characters and the storyline.
This is an excellent story, and definitely worth checking out, especially if you're looking for something that is light and romantic without being too over the top, angsty, or dramatic. This is deliciously sweet without causing cavities.
Strengths As they say, “It's the journey, not the destination.” The exploration of characters, setting, and the development of Matt and Jared's relationship from friends to lovers is a journey worth taking, since when you reach the destination—the end of the book—you want to be back on the road, experiencing the journey once again.
While obviously the romance takes center stage in this story, it's not the sole focus as the characters struggle against bias, their own hang-ups, and outside forces. The balance between what the world throws at them and their own fears of what the world is going to throw at them, is artistically handled. This is a realistic romance that gives us a long glancing look at Jared's life. It reads true and honest.
In addition to the main two men, there is a cast of other characters who add wonderful dimension to the story. Most of them are lovable, or amusing, although Lizzy is my favorite side character. She's funny, sweet, and really cares about Jared's happiness in a way that made me want to yank her from the book to have as a friend. Plus Jared is kind, if not a little scared, and Matt is strong and stubborn (and a touch manipulative, in a good way).
Weaknesses The beginning of this story didn't really grab me. Although the characters seemed somewhat interesting and I trusted Sexton would get me somewhere worthwhile, it definitely wouldn't have caught my interest if I were just reading the first chapter. However, this could just very much be me, as the second time I read it, I had no problems with the writing or the opening chapters.
What really kept this story from getting a 5 star rating, and probably the only thing, is that I didn't feel emotionally flabbergasted by the anything. It was a good, strong story with good, strong characters and when I'm in the mood for something light and sweet and real feeling, I'll definitely come back to this again and again. But it did nothing to amaze me and nudge it up to 5 stars. Still, an excellent read!
Requested this book for review. Be sure to check out my other reviews on my blog.(less)
A quick story that is supposed to be stand-alone, but really works best in connection with the rest of the series, I'm guessing. Mediocre on it, but i...moreA quick story that is supposed to be stand-alone, but really works best in connection with the rest of the series, I'm guessing. Mediocre on it, but interested enough that I was considering reading the first book of the series. The description turned me off though.(less)
Overall While "Ghost" is not his strongest work, Michael takes a slightly different angle than I've seen in his other works (so, it's new at least for...moreOverall While "Ghost" is not his strongest work, Michael takes a slightly different angle than I've seen in his other works (so, it's new at least for me). Trip, the curious doctor, and Ghost, a boy who's a puzzle, make a nice combination as Michael's characters once again find their happy endings with one another.
While the story's concept and completion are all well done, there are chunks of dialogue that felt stilted and forced, like daytime dramas. However, even though this counts against the work as a whole, I still enjoyed the majority of the story. Also, this seems to be one of the few stories that doesn't involve more "hard core" BDSM. The only references we get are in discussion or inner thoughts.(less)
Overall A clever commentary on the state of our world mixed with an enjoyable story. Should We Drown in Feathered Sleep touches upon enviro...moreStars: 3.5/5
Overall A clever commentary on the state of our world mixed with an enjoyable story. Should We Drown in Feathered Sleep touches upon environmental, political and religious topics without delving too deeply or offending too completely. It works to make the reader think while we are carried on the wings of the story...and the loons.
Strengths Original story. Although the post-apocalyptic (or post-horrible things) world is nothing new, the author has taken a fresh approach. The environment is dead or suffering, but the atmosphere of the story isn't desperate or depressing as the people have begun to survive in this new world. In addition, the story takes an interesting angle when it looks at religion, faith, and miracles.
Main Character. Our heroine is a good mix of weak and strong. She's has moments of 5-year-old child, throwing tantrums when she feels her independence is being threatened, but it adds to the depth of her character, even if it possibly could grate on a reader's nerves. Although her greatest struggle--keeping independence while being limited to a wheelchair--is not anything new, the parallels the author draws between her and the loons pushes this beyond a story of a handicapped individual and into a story of overcoming fears of our weaknesses.
The ending. While I won't divulge the end, I found it appeasing to the buildup through out the story. We are given a happy ending that many post-apocalyptic stories do not give us, while it isn't completely unrealistic.
Cover. It has a lovely, eye-catching cover that is very fitting for the story.
Weaknesses Ending. While the ending was fitting for the story, it felt slightly rushed and a little too tidy, but nothing awful.
Although there wasn't much that I would mark as a weakness in the story, the reason it scored so low in my star rating was because it never really grabbed me or spoke to me. The romantic interest was lukewarm, which may be appropriate because the focus of the story isn't romance, but I felt like most of the story had the same lukewarm approach. It doesn't mean the story wasn't enjoyable--it was--but neither the story nor the romance nor the characters really grabbed me and held on so I wanted to finish the book this instant. Would I read it again? Sure. Would I recommend this to others? Probably. (less)
Overall Sara and Filip are two pawns in a game, struggling to do what is right, and best, while playing within the guidelines. If they can...moreStars: 2.5/5
Overall Sara and Filip are two pawns in a game, struggling to do what is right, and best, while playing within the guidelines. If they can manage to work together, they might just be able to win.
I'll admit it's been a while since I read a het romance, but the concept of an angel falling for a djinn was tempting. That part of the story held up strongly and was satisfying. I recognize that my perspective may skew this review.
Strengths Plot. I felt the strength of the story was in what was happening. For a shorter piece it has a good amount of action and just enough complexity to move the story along without requiring exceptional details.
Side characters. There was good variety here and none of them were simply cardboard cut outs meant to fill a spot. They all had at least a little depth and played their parts.
Weaknesses Turning Point. I felt the turning point from "I'm resisting you" to "Take me now" was abrupt. The author provides reasons, and possibly even acceptable ones, but I didn't buy it. Her reasons for resisting were good and too easily thrown out the window.
Sexual encounters. I didn't find the sexual encounters particularly enjoyable. The first felt a little ridiculous and the second seemed so abrupt that it disrupted the rest of the story for me.(less)
Overall Our story opens in clutter as Jonathan sorts through the things in his office that he hasn't gotten around to putting away, even a...moreStars: 3.5/5
Overall Our story opens in clutter as Jonathan sorts through the things in his office that he hasn't gotten around to putting away, even a year after being in his position at the university. With it, Danse shows the reader the life Jonathan is living, disorganized mentally as he struggles to overcome the shadows of his past while dealing with his new limitations, mainly that of a mangled arm that has a clockwork replacement. Although this is a first person perspective, we are not overwhelmed with angst or emotion, as our narrator is stoically Victorian British and a scientist, which is a refreshing difference from the emotional rides that some stories focus on.
Instead, Island of Icarus is a study of man, of determination, and of creating one's own fate. Although initiated through someone else's will, Jonathan's growth through the novel gives him a spine to make his own decisions and the confidence to follow through.
Strengths Steampunk. Danse did a very nice job of creating a lightly steampunk atmosphere without short-changing the reader. She included steampunk elements (clockwork, mechanics, Victorian era), without making it a true steampunk piece of writing (aka, heavy with mechanics/steam engineering). True enthusiasts of this genre may feel it doesn't fit the style, but it's present enough to pass.
Characters. We have our classic Victorian educated man, Jonathan, who has suffered injury and heart break and has been marooned on an island with Marcus, a dashing American who is ambitious, crafty and a genius. Even though he is a genius, he's not socially inept, and yet he has isolated himself on this island. Of course the reader knows it's about more than wanting time to work on his project.
Writing. It was enjoyable, and led me to discover that "wow" is not a modern term (I initially thought it was an anachronism within the novel), but dates back to the 1500s. The novel seemed fairly well researched, both of the time period and the mechanics of clockwork gears and flight.
Weaknesses Beach Sex. There are at least two places you don't want to be naked and rolling around. The beach and in hay. Thankfully the sex didn't involve penetration, but sex on the beach is just a bad idea generally. But I guess when it's all very instantaneous, you don't want your lover to run off because he's changed his mind.
Title. Icarus is the son of a craftsman who, along with his father, used wax and feather wings to escape the island they were imprisoned on. Ignoring his father's warning, Icarus flies too close to the sun, melting the wax and falling to his death. Perhaps it should have been titled Island of Daedalus, since Marcus is the craftsman. There is also some issues that Marcus doesn't really want to leave the island as Daedalus and Icarus did, although he does show some reckless behaviors like that of a young boy (Icarus) which requires Jon to rescue him. I like the basic concept of the novel being called Island of Icarus since there are wings involved, but I'm not sure it's appropriate.
While I enjoyed the story overall, I was never enthralled with the characters or the plot, never motivated to keep reading to see what happened next. If you're looking for something mellow to read, this would be a good choice. If you're in the mood for something a bit more adventurous or emotional, I wouldn't start here.(less)
A sweet sort of read about fixing past mistakes and changing. While nothing was amazing about this, it was also just a nice story, and I liked how the...moreA sweet sort of read about fixing past mistakes and changing. While nothing was amazing about this, it was also just a nice story, and I liked how there isn't that sudden change in thoughts/behavior that could have so easily happened. (less)