Monthly Archives: July 2015

Claimed by the Order by J. Johanis

25707176Title: Claimed by the Order (S-Gods, Book 1)
Author: J. Johanis
Published: June 1, 2015
Pages: 241
Publisher: J. Johanis
Author Website: link
Rating: ★★★

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

In the land of the ancient gods, young gods and goddesses attend a college at the Temple of Power to learn more about their roles and their powers. Marduk is one such young god, who finds himself interested in another god–one of his classmates–on his first day of classes. This interest leads him down a dark path, however, as he finds himself lured into and claimed by a secret order of gods at the college who keep their newest member as a sex slave. Marduk knows the way out is to lure a new god to take his place, but he can’t bring himself to do it. And when he finds himself falling for a new god to the school, Anu-Akad, the order gives him an ultimatum: deliver Akad to them or they will take him anyway and Marduk will remain their pet for eternity…

A wonderful convergence of several mythologies in one book. There’s a rich world here that the author has created and the unique intersections are rather interesting. And the struggle that Marduk faces is portrayed quite vividly making it easy to understand how he was feeling as he tried to sort through his situation.

I will say that the content here is somewhat extreme and intense. More than one scene of non-con occurs and other forms of ongoing and repeated abuse. Normally, I’d honestly shy away from a book that’s so heavy on that type of content, but the way it’s handled and the overall story is so well done, that it didn’t seem gratuitous to me. I do want to make the content warning quite clear, though.

Hard as Stone by Rory Ni Coileain

25611094Title: Hard as Stone (SoulShares, Book 1)
Author: Rory Ni Coileain
Published: May 2015 (Originally Published October 2012)
Pages: 185
Publisher: Riverdale Avenue Books
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★

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

After committing the ultimate crime in the eyes of the Fae, Tiernan Guaire has been exiled to the world of the humans, cut off from the Realm and his people. But in the process, his soul was split in two, leaving him destined to roam until he finds and connects with the human possessing the other half–even if it means eternity. Enter Kevin Almstead, a bright but not very ambitious attorney, who has always felt like something was missing from his life. Little does he know that by walking to Purgatory, a gay nightclub, he just mind find what he’s been looking for in more ways than one with Tiernan. But connecting with Tiernan won’t be easy. And can the connection they have stand up to the magickal force that’s set out to possess Tiernan and find its way back into the human world?

A rather fun and enjoyable read, this combines several elements that I absolutely love in a book. It’s an urban fantasy that’s just rife with conflict (both internal and external), and the characters are rather dynamic. There is a lot going on here in terms of subplots, but the author has constructed things in such a way that they don’t become tangled unnecessarily and are still able to resolve in a way that makes logical sense.

Tiernan and Kevin do fall a bit fast, but when you end up in a SoulShare, I guess that’s what happens. I didn’t feel the sense of foreboding at the end of the book that I would have expected, but I’m definitely looking forward to picking up the next book in the series to see where things go from here!

Four: The Traitor

18080923Title: Four: The Traitor (Divergent, Book 0.4)
Author: Veronica Roth
Published: July 8, 2014
Pages: 48
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★

The final installment of the Four stories overlaps with the beginnings of Divergent. Having seemingly settled into a role within the Dauntless faction, Tobias has never let his guard down, especially when it comes to faction leadership. And these suspicions lead him to uncover a plan that both shocks and worries him, while he has little time to decide how to react…

This one was interesting because it’s the only one of the stories that overlaps with one of the original books. It provides for a more complete story and knowing what Tobias knew makes me want to go back and re-read the first book to see if there are any hints in the text. But, that aside, this is a fitting end to the series and a great way to tie these back into the trilogy itself. It feels a bit rushed at a couple of points, but I think that’s because a knowledge of the series is assumed, so there is no need to expand on the information that one should already know.

Four: The Son by Veronica Roth

18080922Title: Four: The Son (Divergent, Book 0.3)
Author: Veronica Roth
Published: July 8, 2014
Pages: 65
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★★☆

After getting through Dauntless initiation, Tobias works to settle into his faction. There are roles they want him to play, and he’s not sure it’s what he’s comfortable with. And when someone from his past emerges, he learns there may be something going on between the factions that could spell danger for everyone.

I continue to enjoy the Four stories, as it’s interesting to see more from his perspective and to understand how he became the person we first see in Divergent. The added depth provided through these stories makes the original series more meaningful, but because these are so full of spoilers, they really should be read after finishing Allegiant and not before. I certainly wouldn’t mind another story or two focusing on Tobias, if there’s a place for them anywhere in his world…

The Metamorphoses of Narcissus by Tamara Vardomskaya

Title: The Metamorphoses of Narcissus
Author: Tamara Vardomskaya
Published: January 8, 2015
Pages: 8
Publisher: Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Publisher Website: link
Rating:

And it didn’t matter. This was not my blood; it was but part of glamorous transfiguration. I was beautiful, or I believed I was. What did it matter, the beauty a woman was born with, my long fair hair that was now a wooden horse’s mane, my hands and feet that had once moved in the dance so skilfully? Beauty was a construction, a blueprint geniuses dictate to mere mortals who could not know for themselves what it meant.

In a world where artists transfigure people into new creations, the ideas of art and beauty have reached a new level of subjectivity, dictated by those with skilled in the art. And for the narrator of this story, she’s willing to defer to the subjectivity of the genius artists of her day. But in the face of war and destruction, she finds that beauty may be more subjective (and perhaps less of a lofty pursuit) than she had led herself to believe.

This is a short but powerful piece from Tamara Vardomskaya, and I definitely recommend it.  The layers of meaning that I think one can find here makes this quite profound, especially considering its length.  Definitely looking forward to more from this author.

Strange Bedfellows by Cardeno C.

25734007Title: Strange Bedfellows
Author: Cardeno C.
Published: June 26, 2015
Pages: 226
Publisher: The Romance Authors
Author Website: link
Rating: ★★★★☆

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

Bradford “Ford” Hollingsworth III is in the early stages of a bright career. He’s a junior U.S. congressman whose senator (and former presidential candidate) father has created quite a legacy for him to follow in the Republican party. But he’s keeping a secret that might just derail those plans: he’s gay, something that’s likely not going to go over well with the conservative base. But when a random one-night stand turns into a desire for something more, he’s not sure just how long he can keep his secret hidden. And to complicate matters even more, the object of his affection is Trevor Moga, son of the current President–a Democrat, and someone who has done his best to stay out of politics. Can Ford find a way to have his career and Trevor? Or will he give that all up if it means happiness with someone he loves? And how will his family react when they learn the truth–both truths?

What a fun and interesting read! There are some definitely steamy moments, but the focus here is on the story and these two endearing and wonderful characters. One of things that I’ve found with Cardeno’s novels is that I’m never disappointed with the characters, and this book is no exception. They are dynamic individuals, they are flawed in just the right ways, and there’s never really a question of how their actions and motivations line up. And in this book, even the side characters pulled me in, as there’s quite a cast here with Trevor’s parents and Ford’s larger family.

I’m not usually one for books with a political background–not that I’m particularly averse, it’s just not where I go when I’m looking for a good read. But after reading this, I’m thinking maybe I need to give more of them a chance. This is great and I definitely recommend it.

Lessons for Idle Tongues by Charlie Cochrane

25098264Title: Lessons for Idle Tongues (Cambridge Fellows, Book 11)
Author: Charlie Cochrane
Published: June 29, 2015
Pages: 241
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

Jonty and Orlando are academics who have taken up sleuthing in their spare time and have enjoyed success and fame as a result. But most people don’t know they are partners in more than just investigating, something they must keep secret because of the time. What starts out as a case of finding a missing wooden cat quickly turns into a homicide investigation when a guest at dinner alerts them to the mysterious death of a young woman. While the initial consensus is that she wasn’t murdered, they learn of several questionable deaths in the area and rumors about a local recluse that cause them to give this more than just a second look. What they find is a puzzle even they’re not entirely sure they can solve.

While this is part of a series, it can certainly be read as a standalone. It’s only the second of these I’ve personally read, and I had no trouble following the events of the book at all. This is a complex and confounding historical mystery with just a dash of m/m romance to give it some interesting twists. Orlando and Jonty are a great crime solving team, and i enjoy Jonty’s parents just as much–they provide some excellent comic relief in what is generally a lighthearted book (despite the criminal/potentially murderous elements). This is definitely worth a look for anyone that has an interest in any of the subgenres represented here.