Monthly Archives: June 2015

Dex in Blue by Amy Lane

15832828Title: Dex in Blue (Johnnies, Book 1)
Author: Amy Lane
Published: October 1, 2012
Pages: 350
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

David had a bright plan for his life, but that was all blown up after a tragic accident that took away the things that held the most meaning for him in his life. He found his way to California and reinvented himself as Dex, a top model for Johnnies, a porn company. He presents an image of normalcy to his coworkers, hiding the turmoil in his life that he’s never been able to resolve. But when one of his fellow models is kicked out of his home, Dex offers him a place to stay and soon discovers that they might just have more to offer each other than he thought at first glance.

This is the second book in a series, but I have not read the first one and had no problems following what was going on. It’s a largely self-contained story. The characters and story come across as very authentic and Amy Lane, as always, has written a story that it’s easy to get lost in while you’re reading. The emotions and complexity of the characters really shines through.

The only slight drawback I saw was that it probably could be just a bit shorter. There are a few places where I felt things dragged just a bit, but overall, it wasn’t enough to detract from my enjoyment of the story.

Moksha by Andrew Kaye

Title: Moksha
Author: Andrew Kaye
Published: February 2015
Pages: 9
Publisher: Fantasy Scroll Magazine
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

Anusha is a mantrik, an individual blessed with magical ability but cursed with the memory of all of their past lives. She works for the Raj as a suppressor, going to places where spells have been cast to siphon up the rogue magic left behind to ensure it doesn’t open a portal through which the gods can access their world. But the memories of her past lives aren’t just something neatly tucked away in the back Anusha’s consciousness–no, they are actually quite vivid and can come back and manifest almost as though they’re really happening again in her mind. So when she is given an assignment at the site of one of her most vivid and violent memories, no one really knows what to expect…

Andrew Kaye has created a rich and unique world here that he manages to deliver quite well in just a handful of pages. I always have an interesting relationship with short fiction because I like reading brief and varied stories, but it can be so difficult to create a connection with a character and the world in shorter works. And when an author is able to do that, then I find myself somewhat in awe. And that’s exactly what has happened here. I would love to see more of this world, for sure…

Clear Water by Amy Lane

12393029Title: Clear Water
Author: Amy Lane
Published: September 1, 2011
Pages: 230
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

Most people see Patrick Cleary and focus on the fact that he must live a privileged life. He has a rich father who can provide everything Patrick needs so Patrick doesn’t need to do too much for himself. But the truth is that he wants to. And he knows he can if someone can believe in him and he can find a way to believe in himself. Especially if that someone is not his boyfriend who has just left him for dead–until biologist Wes Keenan finds Patrick, saving him from danger, and offering him a space to sort things out and get himself together. But can Patrick be more than the screw-up his father and friends think he is? And what of this guy who has randomly shown up in his life doing more for him in one night than anyone else has his whole life?

This is an interesting, witty, and engaging read. Though one really should expect that from Amy Lane. The relationship dynamics here are really interesting and the layers that make up the plot are unexpected in a number of ways, too. I really enjoyed this. It’s sweet, hopeful, and just enough angst to give it some color.

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

17934530Title: Annihilation (Southern Reach, Book 1)
Author: Jeff VanderMeer
Published: February 4, 2014
Pages: 195
Publisher: FSG Originals
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:

Area X.  No one really knows what it is, just that it has been separated from everything else and from civilization for a number of years.  Access is restricted, though small expeditions have been allowed in to study it and report back.  Some of them have made it out and others haven’t, though everyone who has gone in has wound up dead.  But now the twelfth of these expeditions is on its way into Area X and we get to see what it’s like inside in the journal of one of its four members.  There is definitely something different about Area X, but is it the environment or the people themselves that pose the real danger?

Wonderfully written, engaging, and truly unique.  Those are just a few ways I would describe this book, the beginning of a trilogy that I’m super excited to continue reading.  Things in this book are just confusing enough to leave you wondering, but not so much that one gets completely lost.  This is definitely one of the better science fiction books I’ve read in a long time, and I expect it to become a classic…

The Demon Door by Kim Alexander

25392871Title: The Demon Door (Powers of the Air, Book 1)
Author: Kim Alexander
Published: June 16, 2015
Publisher: Booktrope
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Eriis, world of the demons, and Mistra, world of the humans, used to be connected by a door. But when that door was blasted shut by the humans, leaving desolation in Eriis, there are those who would give anything to get the door open again. When the Prince of Eriis, Rhuun, is found to be the potential key, he escapes to Mistra, finally getting a chance to see the humans he’s always been curious about, a curiosity further heightened by the romance novel that was left behind in Eriis when the humans left. But the world of Mistra is like nothing Rhuun imagined and he has no idea if he’ll ever get back to Eriis again.

This is an extremely slow moving story. Which, as it is posited as the start of an epic series, that may not necessarily be a bad thing. But the problem is it gets to the end and doesn’t feel like enough of the story has been told. There is just so much lead up that when the book ends–even though there is a sequel in store–it feels like a bit of a letdown.

That said, there is some amazing world building here and the character development is something for which I give a great deal of credit. Despite the pacing and lack of action, it kept me to the end.

Safe in His Arms by Renae Kaye

23479658Title: Safe in His Arms
Author: Renae Kaye
Published: November 28, 2014
Pages: 208
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

Casey has had been through a very traumatic experience which has left him unable to trust most people, especially men. But when he meets Lon by chance in the shower of his grandmother’s trailer park, the two hit it off in completely unexpected ways. There is something about Lon that Casey finds safe, and despite a significant age difference, Casey wants to pursue their relationship. But Lon has a history of his own and events in his own past that he still hasn’t come to terms with and when the two come to a head, will they be able to make it work?

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with this one, but I found myself pleasantly surprised. Casey and Lon’s relationship is endearing and emotional and sometimes just downright amusing, too. I really enjoyed reading about them and their experiences.

Content warning: Discussions of past sexual abuse.

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

23012481Title: The Gracekeepers
Author: Kirsty Logan
Published: May 19, 2015
Pages: 320
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.]

In a world overrun by water, there are two types of people: the landlockers who live on the land and the damplings who live their lives at sea. Callanish, a landlocker at birth, has become a Gracekeeper, living at sea and overseeing the watery burials of the dead. North, a dampling all her life, is a performer in a traveling circus, Excalibur. Neither feels truly understood by others and both feel a loneliness and yearning to find something more until unfortunate circumstances cause their paths to cross.

Talk about an enchanting and somewhat dark tale! The characters and their development are definitely incredible here. I found myself simply engrossed into the world that Logan created, anxiously looking forward to what would happen as I turned each page. Even though the description may bring to mind images of that ill-fated Kevin Costner film from a number of years ago, I can assure you this is nothing like that. This is a well-written story of the journey two women take to find themselves and relative happiness in a world that is not conducive to either. (Granted, there is that trend of merfolk in science fiction/fantasy writing that has been so prevalent over the past year coming up here, but it’s very much in the background to the whole story, so it can be forgiven.) For a debut novel, this is an absolutely excellent start, and I personally look forward to more from this author going forward.

Third Eye by Rick R. Reed

23489343Title: Third Eye
Author: Rick R. Reed
Published: November 11, 2014 (originally published 2008)
Pages: 264
Publisher: DSP Publications
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

When Cayce D’Amico goes out in search of his son Luke during a thunderstorm, the most he expect will happen is that he’ll get soaked by the rain. So when lightning strikes a tree causing a branch to fall and knock him unconscious, he already has more than he bargained for. When he wakes, however, he finds that he now receives visions about other people, notably two young girls who have recently gone missing. Because the visions are so vivid, Cayce can’t help but feel he must help them, even though no one believes him. No one, that is, besides local report Dave Newton, who has piqued Cayce’s interest as well.

I did enjoy this even though it’s a bit different that some of the other Rick R. Reed stories that I’ve read before. It’s not so much a murder mystery as the reader knows who is responsible from the beginning and sees their actions parallel to the other characters involved. But it is still very compelling, though I’d have to say it’s not really one for the weak of heart.

Summer Travels

I have a fair amount of summer traveling coming up.  I have cross-country trips by airplane in June, July, and August.  I also have a mini road trip for June and a longer road trip planned for early September.  The advantage to this is that I expect to get a fair amount of reading done–it’s my go-to activity when I’m on the plane or waiting for a transfer and my plan is to be a passenger on all of the road trips too.  The downside is that it means there may be times when posting gets a bit more sporadic.  I aim to try to queue things up in advance so as to not miss a beat, but that might not always be possible.  So if things go silent for a few days, fear not.  Things will pick back up as soon as I get a chance.

Lonely Shore by Jenn Burke & Kelly Jensen

25129173Title: Lonely Shore (Chaos Station, Book 2)
Author: Jenn Burke & Kelley Jensen
Published: May 25, 2015
Pages: 187
Publisher: Carina Press
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

While Felix and Zander are both happy to have been reunited, their circumstances are nothing but challenging. Zander’s headaches are becoming more frequent and intense, which means he’s blacking out and losing control far more often than he would like. It’s clear he’s deteriorating and there appears to be no hope. But when they learn their might be an option, though an experimental one, Zander decides he needs to give it a try. He might die, but that’s where he’s quickly headed anyway. Add the fact that the Agrius Cartel has caught up with the crew and seems intent on revenge, and it’s a very trying time for everyone on the crew of the Chaos.

This picks up nicely from where the first book left off. The tension felt by every crew member is so intense, I could almost feel it coming off the page. The events here are very trying for everyone and the writing adds a real human (well, I guess I should say “being” since some of them are aliens) touch. I found myself connecting with the characters even more than I did in the first book and definitely look forward to the next installment in the series. If you haven’t started these yet, you are totally missing out on something great!