Monthly Archives: October 2014

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett


Title: City of Stairs (The Divine Cities, Book 2)
Author: Robert Jackson Bennett
Published: September 9, 2014
Publisher: Broadway Books
Pages: 464

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book was on the periphery of my radar for a while after it came out; I heard some discussions here and there but only a few bits here and there. So when I saw it as an option to request from Blogging for Books, I decided to give it a chance. And I’m so very glad I did.

The city of Bulikov used to be the seat of a great empire but after the gods who protected it were defeated, the city finds itself conquered and made subservient to those it formerly oppressed. When a senior diplomat is murdered inside the city walls, Shira Thivani is dispatched to investigate. And as she starts to poke around, she finds evidence of something much bigger going on beneath the surface and eventually must face the truth about the city, her country, and her family’s past.

I found myself immersed into the world that Robert Jackson Bennett has created almost immediately. There is a rich history here that just flies out onto the pages and the characters are dynamic, life-like, and engaging. Layer that over the top of a well-written high fantasy novel with a strong female protagonist and there’s no wonder I’m sitting here giving this five stars and an incredibly high recommendation. I definitely look forward to reading more from this author (and certainly wouldn’t be opposed to hearing more about Shira’s world and what happens next).

Disclaimer: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Measure of Devotion
Author: Caethes Faron
Publication Date: May 21, 2012

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Wonderful. That truly sums this one up in a single word. I was a bit nervous about reading a story in which one of the MCs is a slave – the idea of a forced relationship isn’t something I’m too keen on reading – but this one really surprised me. I found myself connecting with the characters and the story, and it really turned out to be a bit of an emotional roller coaster. And even though I saw the ending coming, I really, really was hoping for it to turn out differently. Guess that just means I’ll need to pick up the next book to hope everything changes…

Title: Delsyn’s Blues
Author: Lou Sylvre
Publication Date: January 2, 2012

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
I can say with certainty that I preferred the first book to this one. This is partly because I feel like this one was a bit less engaging but it also was just a totally rip-your-heart-out-at-every-turn book. Luki and Sonny – they’re exhausting to say the least. But it’s easy to get caught up in their world and I definitely look forward to the rest of this series.

Title: Frat Boy and Toppy
Author: Anne Tenino
Publication Date: March 26, 2012

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
I don’t know that I enjoyed this one as much as other people have. Part of it, though, I’ll admit is that I was kind of going through a phase where I’d read so many insta-love stories before this one that I’m sure seeing ‘YET ANOTHER’ impacted my overall views on this one. I also felt like the story dragged in a few parts and could have moved along a bit more quickly.

That said, I did find myself somewhat liking and connecting with most of the characters and think it would probably be of interest to m/m fans, especially those who like stories in a college setting or with a bit of a teacher-student vibe.

Title: Here Be Dragons
Author: T.A. Chase
Publication Date: September 5, 2006

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
I came into this one not really knowing what to expect and was pleasantly surprised. It’s a contemporary high fantasy m/m romance that hit almost every note I enjoy in a story. The dynamics between the characters are great, the writing is engaging, and the story flows quite well. I’m definitely planning to pick up the other books in the series when I get a chance.

Title: Loving Luki Vasquez
Author: Lou Sylvre
Publication Date: June 19, 2011

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Sonny James had no idea what to expect when Luki Vasquez wandered across his path – but he figured the man could bring something new into his life. Turns out that was an understatement. Luki can definitely ignite Sonny’s passions, but they are together quickly pulled into a multi-state chase that leaves both of their lives in jeopardy.

I’d heard bits and pieces about this series before jumping in and now I can see why people have such great things to say about it. The reader is definitely taken on quite the adventure with these two men. This is also one of those books that keeps you guessing – assuming nothing truly bad can happen to the main characters or those close to them just seems like something you shouldn’t do. I definitely like the feel, the speed, the pacing – and am very keen to pick up the second book.

Title: Townie and the Twink
Author: Daisy Harris
Publication Date: June 11, 2012

Rating: ★ ★ ★  
I really enjoyed the first book in this series and like the second – but the third is probably the best yet. Daisy Harris is a brilliant author (I’ve liked everything of hers I’ve read to date).

Gabe has pegged one of his classmates, Nick, as gay even though Nick insists that he’s not. But Gabe can’t believe that after he sees the way Nick looks at one of his high school friends. And as Gabe and Nick start spending time together, Gabe starts to be even more convinced until he finds himself wondering if he’s just wishing for things he can’t help himself…

The characters (main and secondary) are very well-written and dynamic, the character development is believable and sound, and I just fell absolutely in love with this story. I highly recommend this book.

Title: Alex & Drew
Author: Justin South
Publication Date: July 26, 2012

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
The connection between the MCs and their relationship? 4 stars

The surrounding story? 2 stars

Average for overall rating? 3 stars

I really did enjoy the interactions between Alex & Drew. The two of them on their own and their relationship – those were some real high points in this story. I found myself rooting for them and hoping they would all work out.

The background behind all of that, though, was really jarring. Yes, this story contains difficult subject matter. But it seems just sort of ‘there’ in the story. The characters don’t really deal with it. When it call comes out in the open, there are tears from some, but Alex himself just seems nonchalant. He just says what happened, shrugs if off, and then is instantly over most of it? I like dynamic characters but the changes he goes through in terms of his self-esteem and the processing of what he’s dealt with just doesn’t seem to ring true.

In the end, the book is enjoyable. And I’d probably recommend it to people who can handle the content. And it is possible to look past those other things to focus on the romantic relationship in the story and revel in the love and sweetness.

Content warnings: rape, physical abuse, violence, child abuse, neglect, long-term abuse, verbal abuse, bullying

Title: Sixty Five Hours
Author: N.R. Walker
Publication Date: November 1, 2012

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Cameron and Lucas have quickly become one of my favorite M/M couples. Seriously. I had no idea what to expect with this one and I wasn’t quite sure where it was going to go when it started, but it didn’t take long for me to get sucked in and finish this in one sitting. Everything about this story is pretty amazing to the point that I hesitate to say much more because I feel wrong spoiling anything. Seriously. Pick this up and read it. The only complaint I have is that I want more…

Title: Brokeback Mountain
Author: Annie Proulx
Publication Date: 1997

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
It was really interesting to read this and realize this was what spurred the movie. Had I read this before seeing the film, I think it might have edged closer to four stars, but it’s difficult to compare the very small bits of connection one gets in this short story with the depth of the relationship that we see on screen. The inconsistent dialect in the dialogue threw me just a bit, too.

That said, the story of Jack and Ennis is a powerful one, if tragic, and they are definitely characters that hold a special place for me regardless of where I find them.