Monthly Archives: December 2014

Dreaming of Dragons by T.A. Chase

6497620Title: Dreaming of Dragons (Dragons, Book 2)
Author: T.A. Chase
Published: May 26, 2009
Pages: 153
Publisher: Loose Id
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:

This was an unexpected series for me. When I read the first book I wasn’t sure what to expect and even the beginning of it made me wonder if it was going to work. But wow – I do absolutely love this world that T.A. Chase has created and the characters in it. Such a wonderful mix of fantasy, modern day, and science fiction and it’s thrown together almost seamlessly without feeling contrived.

I do love seeing Hugh and Kael together, but I very much enjoyed learning more about George and Mordred and their past in this book. I’m definitely looking forward to the next installment.

New Year, New Perspectives

ID-100291747I can’t help describing this past year as wonderful.  I’ve been very fortunate in many different areas in my life, but even if I just focus on this blog, I have only good things to report.  This year the blog moved to its new home, I moved to daily posting of content (with at least 3 reviews per week), expanded the types of non-review content, reviewed for more new authors and publishers at their request, and generally just had a great time sharing my love of books.

Going into 2015, I hope to continue the momentum of this year.  I have some plans to continue expanding the content and working to bring more new release and pre-release reviews to my followers and readers.

One key change that I’ve already implemented has to do with the type of reviews posted here.  Although I didn’t have many, there are no longer any one- or two-star reviews posted here on the blog and there won’t be any more going forward.  Since I see the posting of reviews here as recommendations, it doesn’t seem very useful to make posts for books I wouldn’t recommend.  I also find that in the case of two-star reviews, many times it’s just a case of the book not clicking for me though someone else might find it very enjoyable.  Posting my review here in isolation doesn’t provide much to go on for someone who might be interested in something I didn’t like.  So those reviews will only be seen on my Goodreads profile (and in some cases retailer websites) where they can exist in the context of other reviews and reviewers.  I’m hoping this makes the blog even more of a resource for readers and ensure it stays a positive space that celebrates books for the wonders they are.

Thanks for sticking with me this year and I look forward to continuing to share and interact in 2015…

Image courtesy of krishna arts at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Off Campus by Amy Jo Cousins

22857416Title: Off Campus (Bend of Break, Book 1)
Author: Amy Jo Cousins
Published: December 30, 2014
Pages: 317
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:
[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Tom Worthington is excited to be back at school.  After his father was arrested and he lost everything, he thought he would never be able to finish his degree.  But now he stands outside the door of his room in Perkins House, an off campus residence, knowing it’s a possibility.  Yes, he was only barely able to pay the first semester’s tuition and he’ll only be able to pay the next if he keeps his spending to a minimum and returns to Boston to drive a taxi every weekend.  But right now he’s just excited to have a bed and can’t wait to fall into it and sleep.

He discovers a hitch in that plan as soon as he opens the door.  His room is a double and his roommate was obviously not expecting him (as evidenced by his co-opting the second bed as a makeshift sofa).  When his roommate, Reese, appears in the door moments later, his suspicion is confirmed.  Tom wonders how someone as young as Reese ended up in Perkins house, but for the moment he really just wants to get some sleep.  Reese is determined to see him gone, though, and is very open about the fact that he is gay.  That’s not enough to scare Tom off, though, and it quickly becomes clear that the two of them living together is going to be a boundary-pushing experience for them both.  But will they be able to push past their respective walls to reveal both of their hidden truths?  And once things are out in the open, what more might be lurking there for them to learn about each other and themselves?

I had a hard time putting this one down.  From the very beginning, I was easily intrigued by Tom and Reese, and I was indeed impatient to see where things were headed.  Amy Jo Cousins has demonstrated a real skill in character development here.  Even the secondary characters–Cash, Steph, the other Perkins House residents, and even Jack–have a level of easy and realistic complexity that helps bring this world to life.

The overall subject matter here is colored by angst.  Both Tom and Reese are dealing with some heavy stuff from their past and only gets intensified as they are thrown into the same living space.  But the book manages to stay a bit on the lighter side (we can probably thank Cash for some of that).  Aside from the fact that I felt like Tom’s issues really dragged on in a bit too much (and found it slightly frustrating) the overall story was not too overshadowed by that aspect of things.

I recommend this one.  I’m looking forward to the second installment to see what happens to Jack.  Maybe we’ll get a chance to see him redeem himself a bit, too.

Home Work by Kaje Harper

15706627Title: Home Work (Life Lessons, Book 3)
Author: Kaje Harper
Published: October 5, 2012
Pages: 356
Publisher: MLR Press
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:
It’s interesting to see the ways in which Mac and Tony (and their relationship) have developed over the course of this series. There has been a number of changes and the way they’ve grown separately and together is definitely endearing. Following along as they work through the challenges of coming together as a family and raising two children on top of the stresses of their respective jobs – well, it’s refreshing to me in its own way.

I did feel like the case/mystery in this one dragged a bit slowly at the beginning and then rushed to a finish – especially more so than in the previous two books. But I still enjoyed it overall and it did keep me guessing through much of the book as well.

The Broken H by J.L. Langley

2033276Title: The Broken H (Ranch, Book 2)
Author: J.L. Langley
Published: September 2006
Pages: 220
Publisher: Loose Id
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:
It’s been a while since I read The Tin Star (the first book in this series) so it took me just a bit to get back into the world of this story and remember who was who. Overall, I didn’t find the story here quite as gripping as its predecessor. There are a lot of sex scenes in this one – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I feel like they dominated the story and took some of the focus from character and relationship development. I do like this world, though, and definitely plan to continue reading to see what happens next.

Punch-Drunk Love by Nico Jaye

22459578Title: Punch-Drunk Love
Author: Nico Jaye
Published: June 12, 2014
Pages: 55
Publisher: Goodreads M/M Romance Group
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:
Oliver Reyes is a slightly nerdy kickboxer who is part of an elite team in San Francisco.  Oliver is also more than slightly gay and has a crush on the team’s captain, Derek Vance.  Oliver is not very obvious about his crush, certain that it’s unlikely Derek would reciprocate.  When the team travels to Las Vegas for a competition, Oliver goes out to scope out entertainment options for a future trip with his friends, and what he finds is more than he expected.

I really liked this story.  It’s sweet and fluffy with a dash of racy heat thrown in–something I think is expected from a Nico Jaye story.  The pacing is a bit inconsistent, with a lot of slow build and then very quick resolution that almost leaves some things feeling unresolved.  Though that just increases my desire to read and know more about these characters…if they might possibly resurface somewhere in the future.

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

23228Title: Boy Meets Boy
Author: David Levithan
Published: September 9, 2003
Pages: 185
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:
Paul is a sophomore in high school, but it’s not a high school like one you’ll probably see anywhere. From the drag queen quarterback who is also the homecoming queen to the cheerleaders who ride on Harleys to the quiz bowling team that competes in competitions where they bowl while yelling out trivia answers, this school is far from typical. And when Paul meets Noah, he suddenly feels out of his element – he knows he likes Noah but just isn’t sure how to make a move, especially when he can’t seem to find him again at school.

Honestly, I thought this was a cute story, but it was also one with which I had difficulty to engage. The town and the school are so obviously fictional that it was hard to take the story seriously. I almost found myself tagging this with ‘fantasy’ for that very reason. But if you can look past that, there is a complicated story of young romance here that is worth a read.

Guarded by Kim Fielding

22446836Title: Guarded
Author: Kim Fielding
Published: June 9, 2014
Pages: 111
Publisher: Goodreads M/M Romance Group
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:
The prince has never hidden his disdain for Volos, a former soldier and palace guard whose father emigrated from the country they fought in the last great war, so it is no surprise when he declines Volos as a bodyguard to accompany him on a diplomatic mission. But after the prince is captured, Volos finds himself chasing after him anyway. He is bound not only by a sense of duty to his country and the crown but also feelings that he’s harbored for the prince for some time but never outwardly expressed – and can’t help but wonder how those might impact how his rescue mission might play out.

Even though this is on the shorter side, it felt like an epic story to me. There is a wonderfully rich world here that comes through in ~100 pages and it is so easy to get immersed in Kim Fielding’s writing. I give this one a very high recommendation.

Happy Reading

snowmen-1434010-mAs we count down the last week of 2014, I just wanted to take a moment to send out my best wishes to all followers and readers of the blog as well as authors, illustrators, editors, and publishers everywhere.  You all make the reading experience that much more enjoyable.  May the last few days of this year be wonderful and be a precursor to a wonderful 2015!

Measure of Strength by Caethes Faron

16047510Title: Measure of Strength (Measure of Devotion, Book 2)
Author: Caethes Faron
Published: September 25, 2012
Pages: 344
Publisher: Branwen Press
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:
When Jason and Kale parted ways – well, when Jason sold Kale at Kale’s insistence, to be more accurate – neither of them ever expected to see each other again. Kale expected Jason to move on and find happiness and Jason was so guilty over what he thought he did to Kale, he would never think about trying to ever find him again. But when Jason, who has been anything but happy, finds Kale working as a labor slave in a mill owned by his wife’s family’s company, he thinks he might have an opportunity to try to make things right. He certainly doesn’t expect the two of them could go back to where they were before, but he never intended for Kale to end up as a labor slave and he can at least set that right. But when the two of them are under the same roof again, will they really be able to deny the feelings they had for each other that never truly went away?

I absolutely adore these characters even if I found myself frustrated by them at times (both in the first book and in this one). Caethes Faron has created a world that, while very different from our own in many ways, is one that readers will certainly appreciate getting lost in again and again.