I spent this past weekend at Emerald City Comicon in Seattle and I’m still recovering from an exhausting but extremely fun three days. I didn’t get into the one author panel I’d put into my schedule because panel seating was not managed well, but I did end up snagging two free books–both of which have been on my to-be-read list for at least a short while.
The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett & His Majesty’s Dragonby Naomi Novik
Naomi was there on Sunday doing a signing, but it was right in the middle of John Barrowman’s panel, and I couldn’t be in two places at once. I do look forward to getting these off of the to-be-read list over the coming months!
Title: Dirty Laundry (Cole McGinnis, Book 3) Author: Rhys Ford Published: April 18, 2013 Pages: 260 Publisher: Dreamspinner Press Publisher Link: link Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ Review:
Private investigator Cole McGinnis can never seem to catch a break for long. On the heels of his last major case which led to his office manager being shot, he finds himself in the middle of two sibling surprises. His still-closeted boyfriend, Jae-Min, gets a surprise visit from his sister while Cole is sprung upon by a previously unknown half-brother from Japan. The personal drama aside, he’s also approached by a fortune-teller whose clients are meeting mysterious and deadly ends.
I do really enjoy where this series goes with each installment. Unlike similar series that I’ve read, this one manages to take the case in each book as its sort of “episode” while keeping the overall story thread of Cole and especially Cole and Jae-Min’s relationship. So many times the relationship and character development is just as episodic as the rest of the plot, and there isn’t as seamless of a connection from one book to the next. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book!
Title: My Fair Dork (Men of Holsum College, Book 8) Author: Daisy Harris Published: October 13, 2012 Pages: 134 Publisher: Siren-Bookstrand Publisher Link: link Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ Review:
Harold Jacobs is embarrassed of the size of his penis and as a result feels compelled to shower in the middle of the night when no one will see him. But one night when Owen McKenzie sees him, all bets seem to be off. Owen becomes surprisingly fixated that particular part of Harold’s anatomy, so much so that he wonders if he might actually play for a different team. The two of them are as different as two people can be, but can they get past that, Owen’s sexuality, and Harold’s insecurities to find a place that might allow them to be together.
I adored this series, and while this is probably one of the weaker titles in it, I still think it’s worth a read in the context of the larger series. Can’t get enough of the Men of Holsum College.
Title: Caregiver Author: Rick R. Reed Published: October 23, 2011 Pages: 210 Publisher: Dreamspinner Press Publisher Link: link Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ Review:
Dan has recently moved to Florida with his boyfriend, Mark, for a new start. When he starts volunteering with the Tampa AIDS Alliance, he finds a fast friend in Adam – and a piqued interest in Adam’s boyfriend, Sullivan. When it turns out the new start isn’t as fresh for Dan and Mark as they hoped and Adam hits some hard times of his own, Dan realizes that the new start might be waiting for him but in different ways than he ever expected.
I laughed, I cried, I smiled – this invoked a whole range of real emotions for me. There’s an authenticity to these characters and the story that I don’t know I see very consistently from other authors. And even though this book is not all sunshine and rainbows, it did leave me with a sense of fulfillment and hope.
Title: The Room Author: Jonas Karlsson (translated by Neil Smith) Published: February 17, 2015 (originally published in Swedish in 2009) Pages: 186 Publisher: Hogarth Books Publisher Link: link Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ Review:
[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.]
When Björn takes a new job with the Authority, he sees himself on the rise. He was encouraged to make the change by his old boss and he has a plan to make a splash among his new colleagues. But when he discovers a secret room that no one else is willing to acknowledge, his plans are thrown off–especially when his office mates begin to see his behaviors as bizarre, concerning, and even a bit threatening. Will he be able to discover the truth of the room? Will Björn find a way to strike a balance between being productive and giving in to the demands of his coworkers?
As this is quick and easy read, I found myself quickly pulled into Björn’s world. The story is broken down into short scenes as chapters–almost a bit like journal entries, but not really framed that way–and it allows the story to keep a unique and appropriate pacing and momentum throughout. There are definitely moments when I didn’t want to like Björn, but just as many when I didn’t want to like is colleagues, either. The whole idea of “the room” is an intriguing one and there are many layers of metaphor and allegory here that I expect will have me thinking for days. Highly recommended and both enjoyable as well as thought-provoking.
Title: Genius and the Jock (Men of Holsum College, Book 7) Author: Daisy Harris Published: September 15, 2012 Pages: 131 Publisher: Siren-Bookstrand Publisher Link: link Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ Review:
During freshman year, football jock Griff Parker did something completely unexpected–he had a sexual encounter with another guy. Although it was a momentary thing, he’s never been able to shake that experience in the locker room with Raj Mehir, even though he never really saw him again. Now that he’s working in the lab building and seeing Raj on a daily basis, it’s even more present in his mind (and elsewhere). But Raj wants absolutely nothing to do with him, still angry about what happened and not entirely willing to go down that road. Will proximity wear down his resolve?
I love the way in which Daisy Harris has seamlessly assembled this series. They can all be read as stand-alone books, but there is a wonderful added layer if you read them in order and start to recognize the various characters that make cameos–it definitely gives the sense of this all taking place at the same school. This one was frustrating, but mostly because of the characters, not the writing. But it was very interesting to see their development over the course of the book and to see where they ended up at the conclusion.
Title: A Case of Spirits (A Charm of Magpies, Book 2.5) Author: K.J. Charles Published: January 6, 2015 Pages: 32 Publisher: Samhain Publishing Publisher Link: link Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ Review:
Stephen and Lucius are pulled into another most curious case. This one involves ghost sightings followed by bouts of madness and a rather painful route to blindness. And it becomes personal for them once Lucius’s servant (and friend), Merrick, becomes the latest victim. The two must work together, along with Stephen’s colleagues, to track down the cause and, hopefully, the cure…
This series: what can I say? Even in the shorts like this, K.J. Charles manages to bring this world to life in a way I think few authors can. I’m continually impressed with how this series has developed and the way each installment seems like a fresh and unique look at these two guys and the mysterious, magical, and frightening world in which they live.
Tom finds himself drawn to Jake almost instantly after he meets him, and it doesn’t take much for them to find the feeling is mutual. But when Jake learns of Tom’s boyfriend Cass the next morning, all of that magic seems to fade. Though Tom and Cass have an open relationship, Jake isn’t sure he wants to be a part of it. But there is something about Tom that keeps him interested and there’s something about Cass and the dynamic between the two of them, too. They all three end up in situations none of them expected, and none of them can really say how it might all turn out.
I had no idea what to expect when I opened this one up. And I must certainly say I was pleasantly surprised. This is so well-written and there is a true richness to the characters and the world of this story. I can see some people not wanting to pick it up because it isn’t your typical relationship dynamic, but I would say to set that aside if it’s a possible issue–it shouldn’t be a reason to miss out on this one.
Title: Safe Harbor Author: Laylah Hunter Published: December 1, 2012 Pages: 30 Publisher: Dreamspinner Press Publisher Link: link Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ Review: Blake left home seven years ago after the death of his father and hasn’t looked back. But when he returns home, his best friend Tom is waiting for him and quickly makes him wonder if maybe he left more behind than he was willing to admit.
This is short, sweet, and fun to read. These two are just so adorable and it’s always fun to see people get a potential second chance at something the missed out on before. Certainly worth a read.
Title: The Prince and the Brute Author: Avery Rott Published: March 13, 2015 Pages: 24 Publisher: Avery Rott Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ Review:
[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.]
This collection of three brief but related stories follows Prince Emil, who has recently become engaged to a princess and who must deal with the rather unwelcome advances of her brother. Well, at least he thinks they’re unwelcome. But maybe they’re not. As he’s never even considered anything like this before, he can’t help but wondering if there is much more to the princess and her brother than he initially suspected.
The author has billed this as the setup to a longer series with these characters, which I think is needed to really make sense of what’s going on in these stories. They’re a bit quick and abrupt, clearly meaning to provide readers with short related scenes that will be tied together later. From what I see here, I don’t know that this will be everyone’s cup of tea, to say the least, but the writing is well-done and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing more from Avery Rott.