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Reviewed for THC Reviews I’m now five books into Victoria Alexander's Effington Family & Friends series, and I have to say that while I do derive sReviewed for THC Reviews I’m now five books into Victoria Alexander's Effington Family & Friends series, and I have to say that while I do derive some enjoyment from these books, for the most part they haven’t been stand-outs for me. Her Highness, My Wife is my least favorite of the series so far. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it at all, but I did see a lot of missed opportunities for deepening the plot and character development that would have made it a much more engaging read. When I picked it up and found out that the heroine is the cousin of the hero from the previous book, The Prince’s Bride; that she is also a royal princess of Avalonia, the fictional nation that was introduced in that same book; and that she is going on a quest to find the missing crown jewels, also a continuation of an earlier plot point, I thought perhaps this was going to be a fun treasure hunt story. Unfortunately the plot kind of meanders around almost as much as Tatiana and Matthew meander around through England. I think that if the author had created more intrigue around this “adventure,” such as them finding clues along the way, or the villain being in hot pursuit throughout the story and them barely finding each missing piece of the puzzle before she did, it would have been more fun to read. As is, it’s a bit dull with the hero and heroine traveling from place to place, only to discover that there isn’t any new information to be found in those locations. Nothing particularly exciting occurs until about two-thirds of the way into the story, when Tatiana’s room is ransacked, an important letter is stolen, and she and Matthew end up on an ill-fated balloon ride, which I kind of saw coming. The evil princess who is also looking for the jewels doesn’t even show up until after that, but she does little more than make a verbal threat. Then there’s not much more of note until the very end. Even that, IMHO, could have been played out in a much more dramatic fashion than what it was. So, in the end, I would call this an OK read, but not one that held my attention very well.
Matthew is a likable enough hero. He certainly isn't a jerk or anything, but he does seem to be completely lacking in direction. He’s been out of touch with his family for ten years due to some mysterious falling out with his father that led to him being disinherited. I kept waiting and waiting to find out exactly what it was that happened to cause this family rift, and I’m sorry to say that no satisfactory answer was ever given beyond that he and his father were a lot alike in personality and that they often argued. How that created such disharmony as to make Matthew stay away for so long and not even write his family a letter during that time is still a head-scratcher for me. He seemed to think that his brothers wouldn’t forgive him, but what exactly he did that he thought was so unforgivable was never specified, which was a bit frustrating. Then when he does reunite with them it’s easy-peasy, with no issues at all. As the youngest son of four, Matthew spent some time serving in the navy, after which he went into ballooning to supplement his naval pension, with hopes of perhaps earning enough money from competitions to start his own shipping company. I thought him earning his livelihood as an aeronaut was a unique twist and not something I’ve seen before in romance. He’s even a bit of a tinkerer when it comes to the mechanics of flying the balloons, so I thought he was going to be a geeky hero, which I would have loved. Unfortunately we soon discover that his seeming passion for it doesn’t really exist and it was only a means to an end. Matthew just seems to be struggling to know what to do with his life even after Tatiana returns and he realizes he’s still in love with her, so consequently I struggled to make a genuine connection with his character.
Tatiana is an OK heroine. I didn’t strongly dislike her, but there were several things about her character that gave me pause. She was dishonest with Matthew from the start, when they first met in Paris, not telling him she was a princess. It was the classic story of royalty posing as a commoner to temporarily escape the pressures of their position. The problem I had with it, though, is that she strung him along, even going so far as to marry him, and then just dumped him by walking out while he was asleep, which seemed rather cowardly and cruel. She claims she never stopped loving him, but that she realized she had a responsibility to her people, although the exact nature of that responsibility is somewhat murky. She eventually goes in search of the missing jewels, but that doesn’t occur until over a year later. As a widow, it seems that Tatiana could have simply been honest with Matthew from the start, had her fun, and then walked away in the light of day, without marrying the poor guy and giving him non-existent hope. Of course, she comes back after all that time, asking for his help, but still not being honest with him about why she needs him. In fact, she practically wears her ability to lie convincingly like a badge of honor, always telling Matthew that she’s a better liar than he is. I also can't blame Matthew for being upset about her leaving him without a word, yet every time he brings it up as a point of contention in their relationship, she simply apologizes in what I felt was a somewhat flippant manner and refuses to talk to him about it anymore, as though he's the one in the wrong. In this way and others, Tatiana sometimes comes off as a bit entitled. It might seem from my criticism that I did dislike her when I didn’t per se. It’s just that she did a lot of things that didn’t make much sense to me and that didn’t endear her to me, so it was very difficult for me to relate to her or sympathize.
As a couple Matthew and Tatiana didn’t really spark off the pages for me. They were obviously wildly attracted to one another to have engaged in their brief but passionate affair in Paris that occurred before the events of this book. However, I didn’t quite understand their attraction to one another much less them falling love, because I couldn’t feel it. From the very beginning of the story, the reader is dropped into the scenario that they met, fell in love, and got married during a short six day span, but Tatiana walked away. Now she’s back more than fifteen months later, and they’re supposedly still in love although they don’t really trust each other. From Matthew’s perspective this made sense, because of how Tatiana left him, but Tatiana’s mistrust of Matthew made less sense. She supposedly lacks trust because of her first husband's numerous infidelities, but Matthew never gave her any reason to distrust him on that count or any other as far as I could tell. They keep bringing the trust issue up, but nothing really occurs to rebuild their trust. They more or less just get over it. For me, trust is an absolute must in a romance, so having a huge disconnect in this area was a detractor. Also when they finally do reconnect, it’s like everything else in the story. It was just too easy. The stakes simply weren’t high enough to suit me. Perhaps if the author had pared down some other parts of the story in favor of a few flashbacks to Matthew and Tatiana's time together in Paris, I would have understood their connection better. But as is, I had a hard time believing in their love even though I will admit that the emotional connection between them did improve somewhat as the story progressed.
In Her Highness, My Wife, there aren’t a lot of stand-out supporting characters, but we do get to visit with a few other characters from the series. The Dowager Duchess of Roxborough, the Effington matriarch, is an old friend of Matthew’s grandmother, as well as Tatiana's aunt, who Tatiana believes may have taken the jewels to England when she went into exile fifty years ago. Tatiana hopes that the Dowager might have information that will help in her search. Also some other past characters show up at a couple of different balls including Thomas and Marianne (The Marriage Lesson), and Randall (who is Tatiana’s cousin and the grandson of the exiled aunt) and Jocelyn (The Prince’s Bride). Then there’s Matthew’s friend, Ephraim, publisher of the tabloid-style newspaper for whom Marianne wrote her stories in The Marriage Lesson. He tries to persuade Matthew to do the same, but he refuses. And of course, there’s the villainous Princess Valentina, who was also one of the villains of The Prince’s Bride.
I felt that Her Highness, My Wife had a number of weaknesses that could have been shored up to create a stronger and more interesting story. I also thought it contained quite a bit of extraneous dialogue and narration that could have been pared down to make more room for actual storytelling. I would consider all the previous books of the Effington Family & Friends series that I’ve read so far to be romantic comedy, because they do contain a lot of humor, even though some of it wasn’t entirely to my taste. However, I’m not quite sure I can say the same of this book. It is pretty light, but the humor wasn’t nearly as witty and obvious as with the other books. Overall, this is a very slow-paced read. It's a whole lot of book with not very much happening to hold my attention. If there had been more character development, more plot development, more action in their “adventure,” or even more witty humor, it would have been better. I’ve certainly read far worse books (At least with this one I had no trouble following what was happening even if it wasn’t a whole lot.), which is why I decided to give it three stars, but it just wasn’t a particularly engaging read....more
Reviewed for THC Reviews When reading anthologies, I usually pick up one novella here and there to fill in gaps between longer books and rarely read thReviewed for THC Reviews When reading anthologies, I usually pick up one novella here and there to fill in gaps between longer books and rarely read them straight through. With that being the case, I've decided to post reviews of each story as I finish it. Reviews on the remaining novellas and the overall book rating will be forthcoming.:-)
I Was a Teenage Bigfoot by Jim Butcher - I Was a Teenage Bigfoot is a novelette in the Dresden Files series that takes place around the same time as the full-length novel Dead Beat in the series chronology. It’s also the second in a group of stories sometimes called The Bigfoot Trilogy that follow Harry as he helps his friend River Shoulders, who is a Bigfoot, look after his son, Irwin, who doesn’t know that his father is a creature of legend. In this one, Harry is tasked with going to the boarding school where Irwin attends to check on him, since his mother is out of town on an archaeological dig. Bigfoots aren’t supposed to get sick with human diseases, but surprisingly the boy is ill. This leaves Harry to find out why, and he finds some supernatural shenanigans afoot.
These Bigfoot stories have been fun so far, and this one, in particular, was light and amusing. I love Harry for being committed to his job and for not taking “no” for an answer in making sure his charge was OK. I also love how he handled the situation when he found out who the perpetrator was. It was quite funny, as was the way in which the story began. This little novelette was very well-written and engaging and I didn’t necessarily feel like there was anything else to tell, so my only real complaint here is that it was too short of a foray into Harry’s world. But otherwise, I very much enjoyed it. Star Rating: ****1/2
Blood-Red Greens by Joel A. Sutherland -
V Plates by Kelley Armstrong -
Put on a Happy Face by Christopher Golden -
Devil’s Contract by E. S. Magill -
Nine-Tenths of the Law by Eric James Stone -
Scrumptious Bone Bread by Jeff Strand -
Let That Be a Lesson to You by Mark Onspaugh -
Mind in the Box by Mike Baron -
The Great Zombie Invasion of 1979 by J. G. Faherty -
Dating After the Apocalypse by Stephen Dorato -
Typecast by Jeff Ryan -
Making the Cut by Mike Resnick, Lezli Robyn -
Acknowledgements by Will Ludwigsen -
Mannequin by Heather Graham -
Short Term by Daniel Pyle -
Distressed Travelers by Nina Kiriki Hoffman -
Bayou Brawl by L. A. Banks -
The Steeple People by John Alfred Taylor -
For Sale by David Sakmyster -
The Man Who Could Not Be Bothered to Die by Norman Prentiss -
The Last Demon by Don D’Ammassa -
A Misadventure to Call Your Own by Adrian Ludens -
Smoke and Mirrorballs by Chris Abbey -
BRIANS!!! by D. L. Snell -
Still Life by Ken Lillie-Paetz -
A Day in the Life by Sherrilyn Kenyon -
Old MacDonald Had an Animal Farm by Lisa Morton -
Two for Transylvania by Brad C. Hodson -
The Four Horsemen Reunion Tour: An Apocumentary by Lucien Soulban - ...more
Reviewed for THC Reviews A Dog Named Cat is a cute children’s picture book about a little dog whose family names him Cat. When he finds out from the otReviewed for THC Reviews A Dog Named Cat is a cute children’s picture book about a little dog whose family names him Cat. When he finds out from the other animals that he isn’t a cat and that cats aren’t very nice, he sets out to get his family to change his name.
The story is written in fun rhyming verses. My only critique here is that sometimes the verses seem a little uneven and maybe don’t flow as well as they could. I guess I’ve gotten used to rhyming books that are more in the style of Dr. Seuss, so when I read ones that don’t have that kind of a steady rhythm, it seems a little off. On the upside, though, the author uses words that are appropriate to the age group that would most likely be reading a book like this, and uses some repetition as well. This makes it accessible to beginning readers who are starting to read independently. I’m sure this is a testament to the author’s background as an elementary school teacher.
The illustrations are simple, but bright and colorful, which will likely draw young eyes. All the animal characters are very cute, especially the dog. A little more sophistication in the artwork would have been appreciated, but overall they’re a nice compliment to the story. Aside from a couple of minor issues, I found this to be a nice, fun little book that I’m sure kids will enjoy.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the author via the publicist, Bostick Communications, in exchange for an honest review....more
Reviewed for THC Reviews I’m still pretty much a novice to M/M romance. Compared to other readers, I’ve barely dipped my toe into the genre. I do enjoyReviewed for THC Reviews I’m still pretty much a novice to M/M romance. Compared to other readers, I’ve barely dipped my toe into the genre. I do enjoy them as much as any other romances, but for some reason, I typically only read maybe two or three per year. That’s why K Is for Kindred marks the first time I’ve read a “gay for you” romance. Now, I have to admit that I’ve been aware of this theme and its popularity for quite some time, but when I first heard of it, it raised my eyebrows. Doesn’t this somehow play into the belief that many people still harbor that being gay is a choice, I thought. Perhaps because of that feeling, I think I might have been avoiding this theme. Well, when my friend, JossiLynn, released her Book Convention Romance series, I couldn’t ignore it anymore if I was going to read the series in its entirety, which of course, I wanted to do. I approached it with a mixture of skepticism and curiosity as to how a (supposedly) straight man would turn gay, but I can’t say that I was disappointed. It was very obvious that Oscar and Randy were well-suited for one another and loved each other very much. The nerd in me, though, needed to research this “gay for you” phenomena, and I found a very good article written in part by Damon Suede, a gay author of M/M romance, who called the term outdated and that the theme would be more aptly named “out for you,” a term coined by author Marie Sexton. I like that phrase much better too, because especially after reading Mr. Seude’s remarks, it makes much more sense. So that’s what I’m going with.:-)
It also started me thinking about “gay for you” versus “out for you,” specifically in regards to how events play out in K Is for Kindred, and I realized again that “out for you” (or at the very least, bisexual) made a lot more sense. Everyone may have initially thought that Oscar was straight, but his best friend and roommate, Pete, is gay. He also doesn’t hesitate to strike up a close friendship with Randy, who as the other hero, is obviously also gay. Oscar has no trouble talking about sex, including gay sex. He’s extremely outgoing and flirtatious right from the opening pages, flirting like crazy with quiet, reserved Randy, and teasing him about the possibility of hooking up. He isn’t the least bit averse to sleeping naked with another naked man close beside him in the same tent, and he realizes that he isn’t particularly disinclined to something of a sexual nature happening between them. Since no fully hetero guy I know would do any of those things, yeah, I think Oscar falling for Randy was definitely a case of “out for you” or at the very least, him discovering that he’s bisexual. Now that I’ve satisfied my need to get all that off my chest, on with my review of the book.:-)
Randy is a shy guy who barely strings two words together most of the time, but I love how he instantly feels at ease with Oscar and is comfortable talking with him on a deeper level. Randy has worked for Lily (K Is for Kissed) for quite a while, helping her take care of her little ranch and her horses. He was her best friend and roommate through all of the pain and suffering she went through, following the rape, and was always there to wake her up from her nightmares. Now that Lily is so much better and in a strong relationship with Blake, it’s time for Randy to find someone of his own. There are a few things we discover about Randy in this book that were in turn intriguing and heartbreaking, but that I thought could have been developed a little more fully than they were. In the opening chapters, we find out that quiet Randy loves to play the dominant and usually goes to sex clubs to get his fix. However, the dominant side of him doesn’t really end up playing much of a part in his relationship with Oscar. Then we find out more about his background growing up, which explains his need for control. It’s a sad tale of prejudiced parents who never really cared for him and couldn’t stand him after he came out. Randy says his own father would do him bodily harm if he knew about his annual secret trips home ostensibly to see his mother. Randy’s love for his dog warmed my heart and broke it all at the same time, but I felt like there was a lot of fodder here for building his character in a deeper way that didn’t quite materialize. In spite of that, though, I loved Randy and was so happy that he finally found his own happiness with Oscar.
Oscar is a model and bartender who’s worked at Blake’s convention and always shows everyone a good time. He’s the outgoing charmer, a playboy who quite simply loves sex. But since he’s limited his sexual encounters to women so far, he’s a little surprised by how attracted he is to Randy. His and Randy’s friendship is pretty much like any two guys would be, regardless of sexual orientation. They genuinely get each other and love one another’s company, so I really enjoyed the friends to lovers aspect of the story, which is a favorite trope of mine. Oscar has his own troubled background, with the sister from hell, and now a stepsister with whom he had an ill-advised sexual relationship and who has teamed up with said sister to cause him grief. His father is a pretty wealthy businessman, who intends to pass his fortune on to Oscar, but his family would not look kindly upon him having a relationship with another man. I really like that Oscar cared far more about Randy and the friends whom he thinks of as his real family than he did about his inheritance. All that said, though, much like Randy, I would have liked to be inside his head a little more. The whole idea of merely being attracted to another man, much less being in a committed relationship with one, is very new to Oscar, but we aren’t really privy to his thought processes on how he comes to terms with all that. Otherwise, he’s a great guy who I couldn’t help but like too.
Much like how Samantha and James (K Is for Kink) played a big role in their story, Blake and Lily play a big role in Randy and Oscar’s story. They get many of their own POV scenes, which are probably about equal to Randy and Oscar’s. I find this to be a double-edged sword, though. On the one hand, if Blake and Lily’s perspectives weren’t included, it might have given space to more fully develop Randy and Oscar’s characters. On the other hand, in my review of the previous book, I was actually wishing for this to be the case, so I can’t say that I’m disappointed either. I did very much enjoy seeing Blake and Lily taking that next step in their relationship and other happy events in their lives as well as the roles they play in helping to get Randy and Oscar together. So I guess I can’t complain about this. If the trend continues, I’ll be seeing more of Randy and Oscar in the next book of the series anyway.
Other than craving a little deeper understanding of the characters, I very much enjoyed K Is for Kindred. The story moves along at a good pace with lots happening for our heroes and their friends. I love the characters JossiLynn has created. I could see myself being friends with them, and that isn’t surprising since I’m friends with her. She gets a few extra points for creating this close-knit group who are more like family to each other than most of their own families are. I enjoyed seeing something good happen for Pete. Even though I knew he wasn’t the right person for Randy, I didn’t want him to get left out in the cold. Blake’s friend, Kade, who was working for the FBI but was a reservist called up for active duty in Iraq, comes back a changed man, but Randy and the rest of the gang help him start to put his life back together. He becomes the hero of the next book, K Is for Kismet, paired with Molly Wood, an author at Blake’s convention that we briefly get to meet. And of course, Samantha and James were there too, along with Samantha’s dad and more heartwarming sightings of her ghostly mom, whose appearance always seems to portend a soul mate match. So overall, there was a lot to like in this book, and I look forward to continuing the series soon....more
Reviewed for THC Reviews Jesus Feminist was the latest pick for my church book club. I hadn’t heard of it before, but the title intrigued me. I have toReviewed for THC Reviews Jesus Feminist was the latest pick for my church book club. I hadn’t heard of it before, but the title intrigued me. I have to admit, though, that before I started reading it, based on the sub-title, An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women, I guess I was expecting a scholarly book that would dig into the Biblical views of womanhood a bit more. The author does have a couple of chapters where she takes a closer look at some of the often used Bible verses for supporting female submission, particularly the words of the apostle Paul, and gives a new take on them by exploring their historical and cultural contexts, which I appreciated. I also enjoyed the part where she discusses the original Hebrew words for woman in Genesis, ezer kenegdo, and how the translation of these words have been watered down to mean something they don’t. A part of me wanted more of these types of scholarly explorations, because IMHO, they’re the only thing that may persuade those who believe that woman is subordinate to man.
However, the further I read, the more I realized that this isn’t the type of book Sarah Bessey was writing. She didn’t seem to set out to challenge theology, so much as to celebrate and affirm the female experience within the context of Christianity and the church. She writes in a very conversational style that makes the reader feel like she’s addressing them personally. Right in the Introduction, she invites the reader to join her by a bonfire on the beach, which of course, if a very relaxed environment that promotes healing and meditation, and she references it a few more times throughout the book. Then in the final chapter, “The Commission,” she again addresses the reader very directly, sending them forth into the world to minister wherever and in whatever circumstances they might find themselves. With her bookending the narrative in such a personal way, it allows the reader to insert themselves into the author’s vision and find encouragement and affirmation in her words.
Jesus Feminist was a very easy-to-read book that had a lot of good things to say about womanhood and who we are as a gender, especially in relationship to our faith. I was particularly encouraged by the section where the author discusses how Jesus related to women. It was very eye-opening for me, because it shows Jesus as someone who truly cares about women. He never bullied, dominated, or put down any woman who came to him, not even those who were considered fallen women, but instead, he always treated them with love, kindness and dignity, no matter where they were in their lives. IMHO, more Christian men need to follow Jesus’ example, especially in light of current events. Another inspiring chapter was the one in which the author discusses many of the women of the Bible, as well as Christian women down through history. She explores how their contributions were integral to events of their times, and in many cases, we wouldn’t be where we are without them. I also enjoyed the sections in which the author relates events from her own life and how they’ve shaped her and her evolving understanding of God over the years.
I know that many readers might take one look at the title of this book and turn away in disgust. As the one male member of our book club discussion said, “It’s a shame that the word feminist has taken on negative connotations, when it’s really about equality for both genders.” The author herself has come up against many skeptics since starting to call herself a Jesus Feminist, but her love for Jesus is very clear in her writing and her faith informs her position. While this book may not persuade those who’ve dug in their heels and refuse to have anything to do with a book that’s associated with the “f-word,” I personally found it to be an uplifting book that gave me some new things to think about. I think that any woman who might be struggling with their place in the church and in God’s plan could find encouragement here too....more
Reviewed for THC Reviews "4.5 stars overall" Welcome to the Jungle by Jim Butcher, Ardian Syaf - Welcome to the Jungle was another enjoyable short stoReviewed for THC Reviews "4.5 stars overall" Welcome to the Jungle by Jim Butcher, Ardian Syaf - Welcome to the Jungle was another enjoyable short story in the Dresden Files series, this time in graphic novel format. I rarely read graphic novels, but have to say that this one was quite fun. It was kind of like reading a movie or watching a book.:-) The illustrations were very appealing and complimented the text perfectly. They also expressed the emotion and action of the scenes quite well. The illustrator, Ardian Syaf is billed as a rising star in the comic book world, and I'd have to agree. He is very talented.
The story itself is a fairly simple one with Harry investigating the mysterious and brutal murder of a security guard at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Those who don't believe in the supernatural are quick to blame it on a gorilla, but Harry knows better. Each of the Dresden Files shorts I've read so far have drawn me into Harry's world. He's almost like a super-hero with his wizard powers, but at the same time, he's just an average everyday guy who's easy to relate to. He's something of a hard-boiled detective, but also has a softer side and seems to really care about people. The tidbits of Harry's backstory that are revealed in this graphic novel really intrigued me, and make me eager to read the first full-length book of the series so that I can delve into this character and learn more about him. The two Chicago PD officers Harry works with, Murphy and Carmichael, are introduced in this story as well. Overall, Welcome to the Jungle was a very enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours of my reading time and really has me looking forward to continuing the series. Star Rating: 4
Storm Front by Jim Butcher, Mark Powers, Ardian Syaf, Brett Booth – This review is in two parts, because I originally read the graphic novelization of Storm Front in its two separate stand-alone volumes.
Part 1:The Gathering Storm is a graphic novel adaptation of the first half of Storm Front, the inaugural novel in the Dresden Files series. The book contains four chapters, and each chapter was originally released in comic book format, then collected together into this one volume.
I won't bother critiquing the overall story, because I've already done a review on the full-length novel version of Storm Front, a book that I very much enjoyed. What I will say is that IMHO, The Gathering Storm is an excellent adaptation of the novel into graphic novel form. Even though it's been a while since I read Storm Front, it's all coming back to me, and now in living color.:-) I really like Ardian Syaf's illustrations. I feel like they capture Harry and the other characters, as well as the situations in which they find themselves, quite well. While I've categorized some of the other Dresden Files graphic novels under young adult as well as adult, I would say that The Gathering Storm is firmly in the adult category. It contains some mild to moderate sexuality. Harry is seen naked throughout one scene, although the important parts are strategically covered. There is also a fair bit of violence, including a particularly bloody, gory murder scene.
Overall, I very much enjoyed The Gathering Storm and don't think they could have done any better job of capturing the look and feel of the novel as well as the salient plot points into a comics style format. It was extremely well done, stayed true to the original source material, and is highly recommended by this reader for graphic novel fans. Star Rating: 5
Part 2:Maelstrom is a graphic novel adaptation of the second half of Storm Front, the inaugural novel in the Dresden Files series. As with the first volume, The Gathering Storm, the book contains four sections, and each section was originally released in comic book format, then collected together into this one volume.
Once again, I'm not going to review the overall story, because I've already written a review on the full-length novel version of Storm Front, a book that I very much enjoyed. Just like with The Gathering Storm, I thought the adaptation of the story was done extremely well, definitely hitting all the important plot points and staying true to the original source material. Again I would consider this book to be firmly in the adult graphic novel category as there is a fair bit of violence, some of which can get bloody and gory, both male and female nudity is depicted with the important parts strategically covered, and in two frames, a couple is seen in the background in the throes of passion. None of this bothered me, but since graphic novels tend to be popular with teens, I wanted to provide the information for those who might be concerned. My only small complaint is that this time, the illustrations were done by two different artists. I guess overall, I was generally satisfied with both artists' renderings. They each had something unique to offer, but I still have a bit of a preference for Ardian Syaf's work. Where I had a slight issue with it is that I found the switch in styles about halfway through the book a little jarring. I'm not sure why the book publishers did it this way, but I do wish they'd stuck with one artist for the entire series. Otherwise though, I thought it was an excellent graphic novel adaptation that I would definitely recommend. Star Rating: 4.5
Fool Moon by Jim Butcher, Mark Powers, Chase Conley - Fool Moon is the graphic novel adaptation of the second full-length novel of the same name in the Dresden Files series. Much like with my review of Storm Front, I’m not going to critique the story too much, because I’ve already written a review of the novel. Overall the story was adapted to this shorter format pretty well, hitting all the important points. Since it’s been a couple of years since I read the novel, I didn’t remember a whole lot of the story, so this was a great refresher. My only complaint in this regard is that there were a few places where the narrative felt a little choppy to me, like something was missing, and I was having a hard time following it. This made me wonder if I wasn’t already familiar with the story if I would have been able to figure things out at all, but it wasn’t too bad.
The artist for this graphic novel, Chase Conley, is a new one to me, who hasn’t done the artwork for any of the comics up to this point in the series. His illustrations were OK, but I’d have to say they’re my least favorite in the Dresden Files graphic novels I’ve read to date. For the most part, his renderings weren’t as spot on with how I’ve imagined the characters, and I was also somewhat annoyed by the fact that he created most of the female characters with impossibly huge breasts. This didn’t seem to be the case with any of the previous graphic novels I’ve read in the series, or at least, if it was, the artwork overall was so good I didn’t notice. I was also somewhat confused at times by his framing techniques and occasionally it was difficult to discern who was speaking in dialogue. All of this somewhat distracted from the story for me, hence the reason I gave this graphic novelization a lower rating than the novel.
As with the Storm Front graphic novel, Fool Moon is IMHO firmly in the adult category. There is one brief moment that implies sex. There are also numerous frames depicting nudity, both male and female, but mostly it’s one female character who is almost constantly running around naked. At these times, the characters are either only seen from the back and/or with sensitive parts strategically covered, but I thought it worth mentioning since teens often read graphic novels and some sensitive readers, teen or adult, could be offended by it. Overall, Fool Moon was a pretty good adaptation, but I felt there were a few things that could have been better, mainly the illustrations. If one of the other artists whose work I previously enjoyed had done the illustrations for this one it probably would have earned keeper status from me. Star Rating: 4
Restoration of Faith by Jim Butcher, Grant Alter, Kevin Mellon - The graphic novelization of Restoration of Faith was done very nicely. When I read the short story, I must have missed that Karrin Murphy was the cop who helped out Harry and his young charge. It was probably because I wasn't yet familiar with the characters who would be playing key roles in the books, so it was nice to get that little blast from the past. I didn't like the art work in this one quite as well. It was done by a different artist, and there was just something about it that didn't quite speak to me in the same way as Ardian Syaf's work on The Gathering Storm did. But overall it was a nice addition to the book. I also enjoyed seeing the original comic book covers at the end. Star Rating: 4...more
Reviewed for THC Reviews I’m a sucker for romances that have a Pretty Woman vibe to them, as well as for physically damaged characters, and The EscortReviewed for THC Reviews I’m a sucker for romances that have a Pretty Woman vibe to them, as well as for physically damaged characters, and The Escort fits the bill on both counts. The hero is blind, although quite independent and self-sufficient, as well as lucky enough to be sufficiently wealthy to afford great assistants. The heroine has just started working for an escort service, and while she’s instituted a no-sex policy and isn’t officially a prostitute, she breaks her rule in pretty short order, leaving some room for interpretation on that account. While the story did have a few downsides to it, overall, it was a nice, easy, feel-good read that I generally enjoyed.
Thanks to inheriting a fortune from his mother’s side of the family, Daniel is a wealthy man, but because his father was a career military man who expected his oldest son to follow in his footsteps, Daniel went into the army, where he worked his way up to a commanding officer. He was badly wounded in Iraq, along with two of his comrades he was trying to save, while the others in his unit were killed. As a result he lost his eyesight due to a blow to the head. He’s a very strong-willed man, who’s learned to make the best of a bad situation, and now he’s trying to use his money and influence to help others like himself who aren’t as fortunate. More than anything he wants to help the two men he rescued, whom he’s recently found out are having a hard time readjusting to life stateside. One is an alcoholic, while the other one has attempted suicide on multiple occasions. Daniel wants to show them how he’s carved out a new life for himself, in hopes that they’ll be inspired by him, as well as to pay for their stays in treatment centers. But in order to accomplish that he wants to seem as normal as possible, so he hires Annie to be his pretend girlfriend for the weekend he’s going to spend with the guys and their wives.
After a failed marriage and a bitter separation, Daniel doesn’t think he’ll get married again, and his blindness makes it hard for him to get out and meet women anyway. He’s hired a number of women from the escort service, some for companionship, some for sex, but with Annie, it’s all different. With the help of his assistant, Daniel hired her not just for her beauty, but also her classiness and intelligence. She turns out to be even more than he expected, handling a number of challenging situations with grace and dignity, and despite her no sex rule, she turns out to be a willing bed partner as well. Daniel has that take-charge military demeanor, but it isn’t over the top. He’s a kind-hearted man who wants to help others. I liked how Annie thought of him as a collector of misfits, as he tends to surround himself with lost souls, making it his mission to give them a new purpose in life. Despite his wife trying to turn their daughter against him, he’s always taken the high road, and he’s good with kids. He’s a consummate seducer, who’s so sexy, charming and persuasive, he could talk his way into a nun’s bed. He’s one of those rare over-40 romance heroes, although that isn’t something we find out until the end of the story. Overall, I really liked Daniel. I just wish I’d been inside his head a little more to understand better how and why he fell so hard for Annie so fast after thinking he would never have a serious relationship like that again.
Annie was married to a man who severely abused her, nearly killing her. She also had to deal with a gravely ill child, and with all the medical bills racking up, she needed some fast cash. A friend put her on to the escort service, and when Daniel offered her ten thousand dollars for one weekend, she simply couldn’t pass it up. She’s surprised by how much she likes him in such a short time, but then he’s an easy man to like. In fact, his seductiveness proves irresistible, and since she hasn’t been with a man since her divorce, she figures why not have a no-strings fling. When the weekend is over and he wants to keep seeing her, she isn’t sure where things might go, but she bravely gives it a shot. Annie is a good mother and daughter, an overall nice girl who would be nearly impossible not to like. However, I really wish the author had explored her background of abuse a little more. Ms. Sinclair toys with the idea that it somehow made Annie a more submissive person or that it might have affected her in other ways, but then it doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s not much more than it happened, it’s over now, the end. I honestly think Annie would have been a fuller, richer character if this side of her had been explored more in depth.
I also thought that Annie’s abuse could have been great fodder for heightened conflict as well, which this story needed more of IMHO. Things are just a little too easy for our lovebirds. Daniel’s legally still-married status only gets in the way for a few days until he can officially file for a divorce. Then Annie’s ex appears, fresh out of prison, wanting to see his daughter. I thought perhaps he might try something, but nada. Apparently he’s a changed man. Daniel’s ex has words with him a couple of times, but it’s little more than a token fuss. His daughter is the stereotypical sullen teenager, but falls into line with Daniel’s military discipline pretty easily. So there really isn’t a whole lot to stand in our couple’s way or make their relationship stakes high. This is the main reason I marked off the star, but there was also some awkward wording and difficulties with knowing who was speaking in dialogue at times.
Otherwise, The Escort was a pretty enjoyable story. Even without the conflict it held my attention pretty well. I wasn’t bored while reading it. Also I appreciated the author’s use of Daniel’s other senses, especially his penchant for touch. I love it when touch is an integral part of love scenes, and because of Daniel’s disability, this story has that in spades. I feel like it helps to create a more sensual bond between the lovers, so this earned it a few extra points. The Escort may not have reached the heights of perfection for me, but it was a nice, gentle story that made for a pleasant reading experience.
Note: I’ve noticed this book is usually classified as erotic romance, but I personally thought it leaned more toward ultra-steamy, as the sex doesn’t overwhelm the story, nor is there anything over-the-top kinky. One love scene involved the use of a special blindfold so that Annie could see what it was like for Daniel being blind. There are also a couple of very brief moments of anal play with fingers, but that’s about it as far as sexual activities that are out of the ordinary....more
Reviewed for THC Reviews Karen Rose is one of those seemingly rare authors who has not failed me yet, but probably because her books tend to be longerReviewed for THC Reviews Karen Rose is one of those seemingly rare authors who has not failed me yet, but probably because her books tend to be longer and harder for me to fit into my reading schedule, I only seem to get around to reading one every couple of years. I really need to rectify that, because her books always impress me with their expert plotting and taut, edge-of-you-seat suspense. But even though the suspense and mystery tend to be more of the focus in her stories, she doesn’t skimp on the romance. Nothing to Fear was no exception to these rules. The characterizations are complex and tightly woven, as is the plot. I was kept guessing as to the villain's motivations for quite a while and there were a few twists that I didn’t see coming. For the most part, it all unravels slowly over time, but there were also parts of the story where I was on the edge of my seat, wondering how everything was going to turn out. So overall, this was a great story that kept me engaged throughout.
Dana was introduced in Karen Rose’s first book, Don’t Tell, as the social worker and director of Hanover House, who helped Caroline escape her abusive husband. She’s still working in that capacity in this book and unknowingly ends up harboring a woman who kidnapped a young boy and has murdered multiple people in cold blood. Dana is a kind, caring person, who wants to help women escape their abusive pasts and start over fresh. She’s extremely self-sacrificing and so committed to her work as to be somewhat of a risk-taker, which tends to upset the people closest to her. She has very deep-seated and complex reasons for what she does, but I won’t go into that too much so as to not give away spoilers. It was very enjoyable to peel away the layers and figure out the woman underneath, so I don’t want to take that away from readers. But suffice it to say that she’s been avoiding any relationships, not because she’s afraid of men, but because she feels her work is too demanding to allow her to get involved with someone. When she first meets Ethan and feels the electric connection between them, she thinks it will just be a fling, because she also knows that he’s from out of town. I liked, however, that her heart was open to the possibility of more when faced with the intense emotions she feels for him. While some of the people in Dana’s life feel she places herself in too much danger, I had to admire her for her bravery and keeping a cool head under intense pressure. I also couldn’t help but love her for her big heart and the work she does that has helped so many women and children.
Ethan is a former marine who had every intention of making it a career until he was wounded in Afghanistan. Now he experiences blinding migraines that can temporarily sideline him. He and his friend started up a security firm, where Ethan mostly does the computer work. He’s drawn into the kidnapping by the brother and sister-in-law of his former best friend who was killed in the war. He also happens to be godfather to their son, the boy who was kidnapped, so he’ll do whatever he has to do to get Alec back. Like all of Karen Rose’s heroes to date, Ethan is a great guy. Much like Dana he has a very complicated background that drives him to do the things he does. Even though he wants to involve the police, he’s moved enough by the parents’ fear for their son’s well-being that he’s willing to go it alone with only Clay, his friend and business partner’s help. He becomes so obsessive about getting Alec back that he doesn’t eat or sleep properly for days. Then Dana comes into his life, helping him to slow down just a little. He feels the instant electrifying connection every bit as deeply as Dana does, and knows he’d regret it if he didn’t at least try to get to know her. I loved him for his unwavering trust in Dana and for intuitively knowing there were things in her past that needed to be uncovered. He’s also a kindhearted person and a tender lover.
As with all of Karen Rose’s previous books, the villain here is pretty dastardly. This is the first of her books I’ve read where the villain is a woman. We know from the beginning who she is, at least in the respect of knowing her name, which changed the dynamic for me somewhat. The only one of the author’s books I’ve read so far where this was the case was Don’t Tell, and in all honesty, I felt like Caroline’s husband had more teeth than Sue/Jane, which is rather weird to say considering all the horrific crimes she committed. After analyzing her action, I don’t know that it was so much the character being female, as it was the way in which she commits her crimes. With the previous villains, they were out there terrorizing the town and you didn’t know who they were or in the case of Caroline's husband, he was hunting her down, leaving mayhem and destruction in his wake. With Sue/Jane, she has a detailed plan in mind and even though things don’t always go her way, her motto is “Adopt, adapt, and improve.” This in some ways made her actions seem a bit more impulsive, not in the sense that she doesn’t still have a master plan, but each murder she commits seems to be fairly quick albeit brutal. Granted the grand finale she’s working toward is the stuff nightmares are made of and she leaves a trail of bodies in her wake, some of which were gruesomely killed, but there was just something about her that didn’t seem quite as intense to me. I’m probably not explaining it very well, because I’m not entirely sure what to attribute that feeling to myself. Maybe it was her being a woman, but most of the time, I didn’t feel quite the same sense of fear and loathing toward her that I did with the previous villains. The thing I did like about the Sue/Jane character, though, was the psychology behind what she was doing, which was pretty fascinating. On the one hand, she could probably be considered a bad seed, because there are plenty of people who’ve gone through horrible circumstances not unlike those she endured and don’t turn out the way she did. On the other hand, there was a part of me that while I wouldn’t exactly say I sympathized, I could kind of understand the why of her actions, which to me is a very well-written character.
Additionally, the author utilizes her complex character web with many characters we’ve already met or who will eventually get their own books appearing. Max and Caroline (Don’t Tell) as Dana’s friends, play fairly significant roles, as does Max’s brother, David, who helps Dana out at Hanover House. Also there’s her friend and assistant, Evie, who’s almost more like a sister and who’s still pretty young. We get to see how her experience with Caroline's husband in Don’t Tell has changed her, but at the same time, she’s still pretty sassy and occasionally a bit immature. The things I love about her character, though, are that she loves kids and is very kind to Alec, and despite everything she went though previously, she’s pretty resourceful under pressure. I think she made great strides in this book, and I look forward to her maturing a bit more to become the heroine of I Can See You. When bodies start turning up in Chicago and the cops are finally brought in on the case, we get to see Abe (I’m Watching You) and Mia (who was also in Abe’s book, but becomes the heroine of Count to Ten) again. Their commander, Lieutenant Spinelli, and Julia, the ME, show up too, along with new law enforcement officials from Maryland. There’s also Ethan’s best friend, Clay, who’s always looking out for him like a mother hen and who becomes the hero of Watch Your Back. Last but not least, is Alec, who’s a good kid who doesn’t let his disability get the best of him, and his parents who are harboring some pretty big secrets of their own.
Overall, Nothing to Fear was a tense and enjoyable read. One might think that slight misgivings about the villain would have dropped my star rating, but I decided not to. In the end, I couldn’t deny that the book was every bit as well-plotted as the previous ones and the characterizations are undeniably deep and complex. The tender romance also earned it a few extra points. Despite Dana and Ethan’s relationship developing within a matter of only one week, their connection was strong and heartfelt. I could just tell that they were meant to be together. So I couldn’t not give it the full five. I’m eager to read more of Karen Rose’s books, just so that I can visit with these wonderful characters again. So I’ll have to try not to allow so much time to pass in between next time....more