Monthly Archives: October 2013

Title: Snow Prince
Author: A.R. Jarvis
Publication Date: September 27, 2010

Rating: ★ ★ ★  
Review: 
Though a quick read to begin with, I found myself compelled to plow through this in one sitting. A heartwarming (pun intended) fantasy-adventure-romance. I actually found myself thinking this would make for a great film – but that would be only if they made films where the male protagonist winds up on a quest to save his imprisoned male lover from the evil queen (I wish they did). Thoroughly enjoyable.

Title: The Last Four Things
Author: Paul Hoffman
Publication Date: April 1, 2011

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
I never would have found The Left Hand of God if I hadn’t received it in a Goodreads giveaway. The Last Four Things, the second book in the trilogy, picks up right where the first book leaves off and we quickly learn Redeemder Bosco’s plans for Thomas Cale – as fanatical and sinister as ever. There is more action in this second book – and occasionally the battle sequences are a bit of a struggle to follow – but there is also a great deal more background about the various groups of people that inhabit this world and the dynamics that are at play across factions. And, just as in the first book, there are some twists at the end that one likely won’t expect. I’m definitely excited to get my hands on The Beating of His Wings to see how the story of Thomas Cale ends…

Title: The Left Hand of God
Author: Paul Hoffman
Publication Date: January 1, 2010

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
I received a copy of this book through the First Reads program on Goodreads.com. At first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the book or really even what to expect after reading the short teaser description. I started off very intrigued and was quickly sucked into the world that Hoffman created for this first novel in a series.

I was worried that I wasn’t going to like the book because the title and first couple of chapters made me worry that it was going to be religious fiction, which is not really my cup of tea. But as it turns out, the religious aspect is a catalyst to the story and instead it seems (from this first book at least) that it is more a criticism of blind religious zealotry (while also providing interesting critiques of other aspects of society as other groups of people are introduced).

This book definitely had all the elements that keep my attention: dystopian themes, a fantasy setting, conflicted characters, and, at times, a seemingly anti-hero protagonist. The setting is a timeless one, as many arguments could be made both for the idea that it is in the future and that it is set in the past – which really allowed me to set that question aside and just focus on the story.

The author’s use of language to describe what is happening is excellent. He uses unique metaphors so I had little trouble understanding the tastes, smells, etc. of things that only exist in the world of this book. I also had no trouble vividly imagining the various battle scenes – while they aren’t overly-described, the descriptions are just enough to get a clear picture without slowing down the action.

I would say I had a hard time putting down this book and the only reason it took me a week to read it was that I was busy and didn’t have as much time to read as I would like. I definitely recommend to anyone who likes fantasy novels, especially with dystopian overtones.

Title: Mindfuck!
Author: Jessi Bond
Publication Date: February 23, 2012

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
A very quick-to-read but well written short story. Blake Underwood is at the height of his career, a well-known psychic with a stage show that draws sold out crowds and delights the audience. Nothing could go wrong…until one night Steven appears at a show and gets invited up on stage. As Blake begins to “divine” what is going on in Steven’s head, he soon finds out he has a lot to learn about himself.

Recommended for those who like M/M erotica and are fine with an intense short dose of it.

Title: College Boys
Author: Daisy Harris
Publication Date: April 9, 2012

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
Chris Fischer knew that coming to Holsum College would mean new experiences – he was miles from home and knew no one when he first arrived. And it didn’t take long: he had a completely new experience with Peter Cohen during his orientation weekend (nothing sexual, and it surely didn’t make him gay). Other things in his life allowed him to forget about it until he found himself moving in next door to the guy he barely knew. The wall between them being paper-thin, Chris quickly learned he was going to get to know Peter better than he had expected – and would get to know more about himself than he ever imagined.

The novella is a relatively quick and easy read, flowing very well from chapter to chapter. I had no trouble connecting with the characters – the situations, dialogue, and storytelling helped make them very easy to relate to. Avoiding some of the cliches of M/M stories set in college, I found College Boys to be unique, intriguing, and one of the best gay erotica I’ve read in some time.

(eGalley provided by Siren Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Title: The High King’s Golden Tongue
Author: Megan Derr
Publication Date: May 1, 2012

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
Prince Allen Gaulden, sent to High King Sarrica to be his new consort, finds himself summarily rejected by his intended. Feeling he cannot stay in the palace and knowing the shame and guilt he would be subjected to if he returned home, Allen sets out for an afternoon in the city before deciding what to do. By chance, he finds himself helpful to the leader of a band of mercenaries and is invited to join them on a secret (yet dangerous) mission they’ve been assigned by the High King. When things don’t go as planned, Sarrica is forced to both rethink and explain his actions, but will Allen come home safely and what might the future hold for them.

I found the storytelling to be thoroughly enjoyable. The author drops readers into this rich world, with history and backstory that seems like it could go on for pages and pages, but masterfully delivers it in an engaging way throughout. The characters of Allen and Sarrica demonstrate complexity that is often hard to find in stories of this length and I found myself wanting to read more about both the history and the future of this kingdom.

Highly recommended for anyone looking for a M/M romance in a medieval fantasy setting. Overall, it’s a bit fluffy (no abundance of steamy romance here, though it is an 18+ read), but is a beautiful and encouraging story.

Title: Built 4 It
Author: Daisy Harris
Publication Date: January 4, 2012

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
Ben Spiegel has struggled with his job as a lab assistant at Built4, a company that reanimates corpses (known as ‘steins’) to be used in medical research. As the steins begin to demonstrate more human-like qualities, his guilt over his work grows. At the same time, the alpha stein, Kee, has captured his attention and it seems Ben may have captured Kee’s as well. As Ben’s ethics are pushed to their limits, he finds that he may not exactly have to follow all the rules – and Kee just might have a chance to regain some of his humanity.

I particularly enjoyed this book. It’s M/M erotica (there are a few explicit scenes), but the author has done a great job of balancing the graphic sex with the development of the characters and relationships. It is the third book in the series, but don’t let that be off-putting. I’ve not read the previous two (YET! I plan to, now…) but the world is presented in a way that knowledge of previous events isn’t needed to jump in and know what’s going on. A great choice for those interested in M/M with a bit of a paranormal and almost dystopian twist, first times, and unlikely lovers.

(eGalley provided by Ellora’s Cave via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Title: The First Rule of Swimming
Author: Courtney Angela Brkic
Publication Date: May 28, 2013

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
Through a story of family, secrets, and sacrifices that spans decades and continents, Courtney Angela Brkic weaves a rich and emotional story with just enough suspense to keep you turning the pages. Though more different than they are alike, Magdalena and Jadranka are close as sisters, sharing things with each other they would never share with anyone else. The characters and family dynamics are presented so vividly that the reader can’t help but truly feel the bond these sisters share.

At times, I found it slightly confusing to follow the timeline, as the story bounces between characters, places, and decades, sometimes within the same chapter. Nonetheless, I found it difficult to put the book down and all of the flashbacks came together and made sense in the end. Recommended for anyone who enjoys a light mystery or a story of a family’s struggle to come to terms with their past, present, and future.

(eGalley provided by Little, Brown and Company via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Title: A Wrinkle in Time
Author: Madeleine L’Engle
Publication Date: January 1, 1962

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
A good story – well-written and a fun read. Definitely enjoyed the fantasy and dystopian elements, however I found the Christian imagery a bit off-putting.

Title: The Last Lecture
Author: Randy Pausch
Publication Date: April 8, 2008

Rating: ★ ★ ★  
Review: 
Beyond inspiring and a very quick read, I picked this up based on the recommendation of a friend. Mr. Pausch’s amazing journey is one that makes you think about the important things in life and how to make the most of the time you have. As it is derived from an actual lecture, the book has a conversational tone that allows you to truly connect to the story. You’ll walk away with a bit of a smile but finding yourself moved in some incredibly emotional ways.