Monthly Archives: September 2014

Title: Fair Game
Author: Josh Lanyon
Publication Date: August 1, 2010

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
I’m a fan of Josh Lanyon’s murder mysteries. They’re always well-written, engaging, and have just enough twists to keep me guessing. Fair Game is certainly no exception. The characters are dynamic and the world they live in is made very real. I found myself enjoying this one, even during those few moments when I wanted to say ‘okay, maybe this is a bit more out there than the story needed to go’ in terms of realism. I’d recommend picking it up.

I always appreciate stories set in real settings when the author truly does their research and lets it show in the writing. But I’m a bit thrown when there’s a miss like there was in this book. At one point it’s mentioned that Ballard is ten minutes from Seattle – Ballard is actually in Seattle. Small detail but impacted the realism a bit here…

Title: Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction
Author: Jeff VanderMeer
Publication Date: October 15, 2013

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review: I picked this up because of its Hugo nomination (and because of my own interest in writing). I will say, first off, that this book is expertly designed. It is a striking and beautiful book from its cover to pretty much every page throughout. Additionally, it offers some great suggestions and tips on writing. Unfortunately, I found it difficult to parse. While the various (and very busy) illustrations and charts do have some utility, I found them distracting and their placement often leaving the overall guide feeling a bit disjointed. Still giving this three stars, though, as I think it has some great content and there are people who might not find its disjointed style quite as jarring as I did.

Title: The Family We’re Born With
Author: Kaje Harper
Publication Date: December 14, 2013

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
When Jesse’s mom tells him she doesn’t want his boyfriend Devin to be a part of the family dinner where they’re going to meet her son that she gave up for adoption for the first time, he’s not sure what to say. He is not one to lie about himself or who he is and always thought they considered Devin a part of their family, too. Though they’re all pleasantly surprised when Jesse’s half-brother shows up and has a much different reaction that Jesse’s mother ever could have expected.

A wonderfully sweet story all about family and and what it means to be family. I really felt like this story resonated with me as someone who has always felt like family isn’t always your blood relatives but the friends and others with whom you surround yourself, as well.

Title: Let’s Hear It for the Boy
Author: T.A. Webb
Publication Date: March 20, 2013

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
Paul Stewart has been assigned to write a story about Auntie Social (a.k.a. Matthew Trammell), one of Atlanta’s biggest drag queens, who has worked for 30 years raising money for HIV/AIDS programs and is seen as a pillar of the community. Though Paul has heard and read Matthew’s reasons time and again for his work, he can’t help but wonder if there’s a story that hasn’t been told and, surprisingly, is able to break through and get Matthew to tell him a story that resonates on levels he hadn’t expected.

Incredibly moving, heartbreaking, touching, etc. The list of descriptors could go on and on here. This really was an incredible story that pulled me in and hit me in a lot of ways. T.A. Webb has created a masterful story here. The only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars is because I felt like the last scene was just a bit contrived and took away from the overall story, but it’s still wonderful all the same.

Title: Remnant
Author: K.J. Charles & Jordan L. Hawk
Publication Date: March 11, 2014

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
I haven’t read either of the two series that are converging in this story, though I find myself interested and intrigued about both sets of characters after reading it. I am (disclosure) a big fan of historical paranormal mystery romance stories (of which this is one – though perhaps a bit light on the romance in this iteration) and Remnant does not disappoint. I don’t think it’s necessary to have ready the respective series to engage with and understand this one (I hadn’t and I liked it), though it probably would add to one’s overall enjoyment.

Title: Love Means… No Boundaries
Author: Andrew Grey
Publication Date: February 2010

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
Another charming installment in the Love Means… series. Joey has been living and working with Geoff and Eli at the farm since a motorcycle accident that left him scarred and a bit shaken. When Geoff and Eli agree to host a musician from the National Youth Symphony, Joey finds something more in Robbie, the young violinist that comes to stay with them. Robbie is blind and, as far as Joey can surmise, certainly not gay. But as they spend time together, they learn more about each other and themselves, pushing the boundaries of their own worlds. Robbie is only at the farm for a short time – can it last for them after he leaves?

Andrew Grey is wonderful, as always. No real disappointment at all for me from this one. I did go with three stars, but that’s mostly because I feel like the ending was a bit rushed compared to the rest of the book and parts of it were just a bit jarring as a result. It’s definitely an enjoyable read, though, and I recommend it.

Title: Icecapade
Author: Josh Lanyon
Publication Date: November 16, 2010

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
A short story about thief-turned-novelist Noel Snow who once seduced FBI agent Robert Cuffe before disappearing with the spoils of one of his heists. Snow has gone on to model one of the characters in his book series after Cuffe and, though it’s been years since they’ve seen each other, he still finds himself fascinated with the lawman. So it’s with a bit of a thrill (both excitement and fear) for Snow when Cuffe shows up at his home just before Christmas. Cuffe makes it clear he’s there as part of an investigation and is convinced Snow is guilty – but can Snow prove he wasn’t involved in this recent string of crimes? Can he find a way to get Cuffe to forgive him for what happened years ago (and since)?

A shorter story, but very well-written, which is something I’ve come to expect from Josh Lanyon. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Cuffe and Snow and their exchanges throughout the book make both the tension and the way they both feel about the past really come to life on the page. I definitely give this one a recommendation.

Title: Rise of the King
Author: R.A. Salvatore
Publication Date: September 30, 2014

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
I’ve very much been enjoying the story of the reincarnated Companions of the Hall, started in the first book of The Sundering and continued in The Companions Codex (of which this is book two). Drizzt and the Companions always makes for an epic story and what we have here seems largely no exception.

While I’ve been enjoying the story thus far (Night of the Hunter – Companions Codex, Book I was one of my favorite books so far this year), this one didn’t really seem to pull its weight. Much of this story seems to be set up. Instead of continuing along the lines of the epic showdowns that occurred in Gauntlegrym, there’s a lot of moving, talking, etc. here but no real major plot points. It’s clear to me that it’s all moving toward something major in the next book, but I was just struck by how little really seemed to happen in this installment overall.

I do plan to continue with the series – I really need to know what happens next. I just hope the next book brings us back to the type of story we saw in The Companions and The Night of the Hunter.

(eGalley provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Title: An Invitation to Love
Author: Blaine D. Arden
Publication Date: May 11, 2013

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
Dominick knows he can’t turn down the honor of standing with his work partner during her mating ceremony. He is reluctant as he doesn’t like to speak in front of people, but is thankful that it will be acceptable for him to use sign language during the event. But things change when he spies a dancer, Lysander, who grabs his attention and then is quickly introduced to Lysander’s new friend Zachary. The attraction and chemistry between them is undeniable and is so much that Dominick finds himself almost frightened by it. But since they’re unlikely to see each other again after the ceremony, he wonders if maybe he should just give it a shot.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s on the shorter side, but is definitely a complete story with a well-defined world. If you’re at all interested in fantasy, romance, m/m, or all three at once – this is likely a pick for you. Personally, I want to know what happens next, but this sadly doesn’t look to be part of a series.

Title: Puckish
Author: Wart Hill
Publication Date: June 10, 2014

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Review: 
When Minoru pops into a coffee shop to grade papers, he has no idea that he’s about to go on an adventure he never even thought possible. But that’s exactly what happens when the dashing Charys enters, sits across from him, and takes him as an unwitting passenger on a trip to the Underneath, a land of the fae. But Charys doesn’t know that there are some unexpected things waiting on the journey for him as well.

This was a short and sweet story that I found enjoyable. I do have a soft spot for fantasy m/m romance, and this definitely hit it. I’ll be curious to check out more of Hill’s work as a result.