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M/M Romance Reviews by Maybedog

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Green Eggs and Ham banned due to "homosexual seduction."

Green Eggs & Ham - Theodor Geisel

I came across this article and laughed at first. How ridiculous that a children's book was banned not because of the content, but because the Texas State Board of Education confused the name of the author with that of a Marxist philosopher. How absurd that James and the Giant Peach was banned at a school in Texas because it contains the word "ass," never mind that the word is referring to the animal, "a long-eared, slow, patient, sure-footed domesticated mammal"[dictionary.com]. If an ass was good enough for Jesus...  John 12:14 "And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written." "What would Jesus do" when presented with this book? Get your mind out of the gutter, Texas.*

 

But this really isn't funny. It is frightening how frequently the ignorant and judgmental try to control the dissemination of knowledge. God, if they could read what I do. I think half of Texas would die of horror and shock just reading this blog. For the record, two of these books were banned on homosexual grounds including Green Eggs and Ham. Seriously.

 

[Stolen from Buzz Feed]

 

15 Classic Children’s Books That

 

Have Been Banned In America

 

The land of the free.

 

1. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Handford

When: 1987
Why: The book was banned and then reprinted because it originally showcased a topless beachgoer (not like anyone could find her if they tried, though).

 
Where's Waldo? by Martin Handford
 
 

2. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

When: 1988
Why: Everyone’s favorite childhood book was banned from a public library in Colorado because it was considered “sexist.” It was also challenged by several schools because it “criminalized the foresting agency.”

 
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
 
 

3. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne

When: 2006
Why: Talking animals are somehow considered an “insult to god,” resulting in this book’s banning throughout random parts of the United States. Several institutions in Turkey and the UK have also banned the book, claiming that the character of Piglet is offensive to Muslims. Other institutions claim that the book revolves around Nazism.

 
Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
Leon Neal / Getty Images
 
 

4. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

When: 1999
Why: The book was banned from an elementary School in Texas because it included the word “ass.”

 
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
 
 

5. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

When: 1983
Why: The book was banned from several schools for being “a bad example for children.” It was also challenged for teaching “children to lie, spy, talk back, and curse.”

 
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
 
 

6. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

When: 2010
Why: Forget anti-semitism; the 50th Anniversary “Definitive Edition’” was instead banned by a Virginia school because of its “sexual content and homosexual themes.” Additionally, the book was previously banned by several schools in the United States because it was “too depressing.” Most recently, in May of 2013, a Michigan mom tried to get the book banned due to its “pornographic tendencies.”

 
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
 
 

7. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

When: 1996
Why: The book was banned from several classrooms in Pennsylvania on accounts of “profanity, disrespect for adults, and an elaborate fantasy world that might lead to confusion.” The book has also been banned by other schools for its use of the phrases “Oh Lord” and “Lord.”

 
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
 
 

8. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

When: 2006
Why: Similar to Winnie-the-Pooh, this book was banned in Kansas because talking animals are considered an “insult to god.”

 
Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
 
 

9. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

When: 1900
Why: Apparently there are references to sexual fantasies and masturbation in this book, resulting in its ban from classrooms in New Hampshire. Since this original banning, the book has been challenged by thousands of other institutions, most famously in the 1960s in fear that it would promote drug use to children.

 
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
 
 

10. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

When: 1963
Why: The book was primarily banned in most southern states immediately following its publication, and it has since been challenged due to the fact that it promotes “witchcraft and supernatural events.”

 
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
 
 

11. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

When: 1989
Why: A California school district banned the book and claimed that it “criminalized the foresting industry” and would thus persuade children against logging.

 
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
 
 

12. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

When: “Until as recently as 1991”
Why: Remember that time when Sam I Am tried to seduce his friend? Me neither. But the book was banned in California on accounts of “homosexual seduction.” It was also banned in China for “early Marxism” from 1965 until Dr. Seuss’ death in 1991.

 
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
 
 

13. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

When: 1988
Why: A Colorado library banned the book because it embraced a “poor philosophy of life.” Additionally, since its publication in 1964, the book was under fire for comparing the Oompa Loompas to Africans. The characters’ descriptions were later changed in an edited version in 1988.

 
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
 
 

14. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

When: 1928
Why: All public libraries in Chicago banned the book because of its “ungodly” influence “for depicting women in strong leadership roles.” In 1957, the Detroit Public Library banned the book for having “no value for children of today.”

 
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
 
 

15. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Bill Martin, Jr.

When: 2010
Why: The Texas State Board of Education briefly banned this picture book after confusing its author, Bill Martin, Jr., with philosopher Bill Martin, author of ‘Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation.’

 
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Bill Martin, Jr.
 
 

BONUS: The Merriam-Webster Dictionary

When: 2010
Why: The 10th edition was banned in several classrooms in California because it included the definition for “oral sex.”

 
BONUS: The Merriam-Webster Dictionary

 

*I have nothing against the people of the State of Texas. I am referring to the large number of book banners that reside there. I think at least a third of all the stories I hear about books being banned or challenged come from Texas.

Boots and Leather

Boots and Leather - T. Strange
I won this story as a part of the Erotic Enchantments holiday party. Although I don't usually like BDSM, it was the only M/M book offered for that contest so I chose it. I am so glad I did because I loved it.

Gavin, the protagonist, is funny, endearing and loveable. He doesn't have the same taste in men that I do but I could completely picture Terry who was delightful, too. Gavin's quest for the perfect Dom is adorable.

I felt the BDSM was respectful, although a little too light. I would have liked a little mild bondage or something, and I totally cannot believe I'm saying that. The bondage probably wasn't enough for people who seek bondage stories, but it works for those of us for whom it's a little uncomfortable because it's so sweet and Gavin is so safe.

Terry does a really good job of making sure Gavin is comfortable with his first BDSM experience. They don't even have sex the first time because he wants Gavin to make sure this is what he really wants. Terry does something really simple to get them started and continually asks Gavin if what he is doing okay, and reminds him he can stop anytime. Later they sit down and iron out their boundaries, what Gavin wants to do and what he's not comfortable with. He's given a safe word. When they are finished with their first session, Terry is exhausted but wants to continue but Terry says he has to rest first and then makes him drink water despite Gavin's claim he's not thirsty. They didn't drink with dinner because "booze and BDSM do not mix well." I think that's excellent advice. Terry insisted on condoms even for oral sex which is great.

There were a few continuity errors that were confusing. For example, Gavin said something about the jeans terry was wearing and a few paragraphs later when Terry stood up (they had just been talking) he said he had to put clothes on. Another time they were both naked without taking their clothes off. There was also a scene where I couldn't for the life of me picture the position Terry was in. It sounded physically impossible. But it was only that once.

Instead, I could usually picture the scene very well such as in this example where Gavin has just set his eyes on Terry for the first time:
I flapped a hand at [his best friend], making little hissing noises for him to act natural. "Over there," I whispered out of the corner of my mouth. "Don't screw this up for me."

I just love that flapping hand. I have done that exact thing so many times.

But the best part for me was the humor. Here are a couple of quotes from the book that I thought were really funny:
"I bit back a playful, 'yes, mother'. [sic] We weren't quote close enough for that yet (just, you know, close enough for me to suck his cock and hump myself silly on his boot."
"I gave a startled yelp that quickly turned into--wait for it--a giggle. That would certainly impress him."

The story was too short, though. I wanted to see their second date. I so home Strange writes another story with these characters.

Sevener

Sevener - Thea Hayworth Very well written. Definitely horror and not romance. The sex scene was probably the least hot sex scene I've ever read (between two consenting adults). I could have done without it.

World is well built but truly horrific and chilling. Distances were confusing. Mac could see stuff coming in too much detail for how long it took to arrive.

Ambiguous ending typical of horror but I hate it in a romance.

2 stars for enjoyment, 4.5 stars for storytelling makes it a 3.5 star read for me, rounded up because it did a lot for a short story.

Wild: The White Wolf Pack

Wild (The White Wolf Pack) - Zoe Perdita There's something about this series I just don't like, and it's not just because of the menage aspect from the first book in the series. The Russian wolf pack shows up again in this book and we aren't supposed to necessarily like them which is good because I only liked one of them plus the MC even in their own book. It's a little odd but realistic. I do like the protagonists here and I like that the little guy in this typical big alpha little omega tale is strong and independent. I like that there is growth in the characters and that the mating isn't the same as love. But something just rubs me the wrong way and I don't know what it is. Maybe it's the Russians. Maybe it's the lack of people getting along. Maybe it's the long scenes in the past including an overly long sex scene that wasn't in the slightest bit about love, had too much detail, and only contained one of the MCs along with a sex partner I didn't like. But it just leaves me cold.

There are weird editing issues where the wrong word is used such as "transcend" instead of "descend," "tolerable of" intead of "tolerant of." The age gap is unnecessary--when I have a problem with age gaps it's almost always when one of the characters is a minor and this guy is 18 (he thinks, doesn't even know)--and the older one calls the younger one "whelp" throughout almost the whole book. I hate it when characters talk about their mates as if the other were a child.

Although this was better than the first one, I'm rounding down my 2.5 star rating because it's left me without any desire to read another in the series.

To Catch a Croc (Banded Brothers)

To Catch A Croc - Amber Kell I really like this series. I love how funny it is and how big alpha guy isn't always the strongest. This one was slightly more traditional and not quite as funny but I still thought it was great. I love the characters and how the humans are the scariest bad asses there are. It's sweet and funny and they're all adorable.

Isaac was really great but he kind of went on and on about how he was going to spend the rest of his life making sure everything was wonderful for Denton. I got the point after the first several times he said that.

I wish there had been a big climax with the main bad guys and not just a few sentences in the epilogue. There was too much about the next couple who are in the next book so I'm not sure how that one is going to go. I love them though.

One of my favorite lines from the book is: "You know this won't work, right? I mean, you're a puma and I'm a crocodiles. We're one animal away from a bar joke."

I really love how Kell sets her stories in a place she knows and loves: Seattle. She gets it right, unlike the scads of people who set their stories here for no reason and probably have only visited once if at all. I'm a sucker for people who love Seattle like I do.

Great story and I'm on to read the next one.

Hunter of Demons (SPECTR)

Hunter of Demons - Jordan L. Hawk I've only read two of Hawk's books and I'm already pretty sure she's going to be one of my favorite authors. I loved this book. This is a new modern fantasy world, and while it has some familiar elements (sheesh, I'm so tired of eyes turning completely black when a demon takes over the body--but even there you'll find a twist) there were enough new elements to make it fun and exciting. Here is yet a new take on werewolves and demons, and a more complex hero. He isn't Joe Blow who just happens to stumble into everything. He's Mr. Joe mediocre paranormal who kind of gets dragged in screaming and fighting. Gray was a very interesting and intriguing character who definitely affected everything in a less than usual way.

Caleb's snarky and feisty, not an unusual trait, but I felt he read a little stronger and less lust-addled and scared than average novels in this genre. He was mostly just pissed off. Neither MC was the alpha male and neither was weak. Caleb describes himself as a twink (as well as being 6'2". I didn't think twinks could be that tall) but he is very strong-willed and scrappy. John is big and muscly, and very sweet and accepting but not too laid back nor is he mellow; he's just perfect.

The book was really funny and both MCs were snarky. Caleb would dish it out and John would shoot right back and vice versa. One typical exchange occurs after Caleb growls about being interrogated:

John: "Ready to start the inquisition?"
Caleb: "Your rack-side manner could use some work."

I appreciate that because I think sarcastic people need to be with other people with a similar sense of humor or it doesn't work. The partner/other person needs to not take the crap seriously or personally. (For example, today I asked my current kid to check out my books for me. He said, "I'm not even sure what to look at; I don't usually look at them that way." My own mom would have paused confused and then been irritated or disgusted. My daughter would have taken a moment then said, "OMG, that's stupid, shut up." I replied, "I'm a spine woman myself but a lot of people really look for a hot masthead." I am one of the very few people he can tolerate being around, and I am one of the very few people who can tolerate him.)

There was plenty of action, suspense and danger in this novel. There was enough fear and life-threatening peril--even for me--without being melodramatic or any character coming across as a victim. The characters were individuals and believable. I loved them all, even the boss, who was also refreshingly different.

Nitpicks:
-By the time of the events in the book, apparently all "the rare medieval texts house in the Vatican had been scanned and uploaded to an international database." Yeah, right, like the Vatican would allow free access to anything of theirs, especially knowledge that is currently tightly controlled and locked away.
-Some timing was a bit off such as when someone accomplished a bunch of stuff in the time it took another to drive home from work.
-This happens frequently in books: one person is nauseated and another rubs his/her back to comfort. When I am nauseated or throwing up, the last thing I want is for someone to touch me. Movement is not preferred.
-(major big spoiler) After ripping someone's throat out with his teeth, a person's face would be covered in blood and totally gross, not in the slightest bit kissable.

I'm interested to see where the series goes from here and how (major big ass spoiler) the affect Gray is going to have on Caleb and John's relationship.

4.5 stars rounded up because I am so eager to read the next one.

Ruby Red Booty Shorts and a Louisville Slugger (I.O.N.)

Ruby Red Booty Shorts & A Louisville Slugger - Lexi Ander The beginning was too familiar. I kept thinking I'd read the book before because it reminded me of several shorts I've read. But that didn't mean the start was bad. No, it was hot. It's a little weird to start out with a sex scene but it was good so it worked for me.

Interesting new take on werewolves which I liked. I don't like it when someone is referred to as "the blond," especially a main character, but this only happened a couple of times. I'm not sure why Diego didn't help out his family with his money instead of establishing a scholarship fund. I'm not judging, it just seems more likely from a cultural perspective. I actually teared up when (major big ass spoiler) Beck proposed. Maybe I was just emotional yesterday.

It was a little too short, ended quite suddenly; I might have rounded up instead of down if that weren't the case. There better be a sequel.

4.5 rounded down because of sudden ending.

Heart of Dame (Solomon's Pride)

Heart of Dame - Dawn H. Hawkes Typical growly protective big alpha with tiny but spunky mate. I love that kind of story, though, and it's exactly what I wanted. Which is why I was able to forgive all of the following issues:

I really hate how the only woman is crazy and evil and not even the good scary kind of evil we love to hate but just messed up stupid idiot evil. There are all kinds of errors including continuity and editing errors as in all these typical three star shifter stories and it drives me crazy. For example, months after an addictive agent is ingested, the agent still shows up in the blood. This was written in 2011 and a lab geek saves everything to floppy disks. A man is described as a half-breed but he's only a quarter breed and shouldn't really have all the skills he has as a result since they were weak in his half-breed mom. A character wonders why something critical happened to his mate that he needs to solve and never even bothers to ask the mate who would have been able to supply a lot of helpful detail. They assume that all big guys are dominant tops and all small guys are submissive bottoms and any show of dominance from a small guy is surprising.

There's too much infodumping, too much time spent inside a person's head without any action. But one stand out in this series is the humor. It's a kind of humor that not everyone would find funny, but it just hits me right. Here is an example which I'm not even sure why I found funny given how anti-violence I am in my everyday life:
All he knew was that Shamus had dared to (minor spoiler) mark Timothy and therefore needed to die a slow, horrible, and extremely messy death a death quite possibly involving power tools of some sort.

Like Pizza and Beer

Like Pizza and Beer - Elle Parker
Like Pizza and Beer is an excellent follow up to [b:Like Coffee and Doughnuts|6516978|Like Coffee and Doughnuts (Dino Martini Mysteries, #1)|Elle Parker|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1327948887s/6516978.jpg|6708807], the first book in this series. This time around the writing is tighter and the story runs more smoothly. Here there are two mysteries to solve. The first is that Dino's ex, Gina, has someone trying to sabotage her restaurant's business. The second is that Seth's sister Molly has someone possibly following her and Seth believes it's related to her lowlife boyfriend.

Can you guess the conflict yet? Yes, Seth is jealous of Dino's ex and yes, he perceives that more time is being spent on Gina's case than his sisters. However, Seth isn't the typical jealous boyfriend who overreacts with everyone and has temper tantrums and refuses to help. No, Seth apologizes almost immediately every time his jealous streak shows, and he's so good natured that he doesn't have a problem helping Dino and Gina. He's incredibly sane and easy going about it, actually.

I love Seth--he has the patience and kindness of a saint--and I would be a hell of a lot more threatened than he was. Dino isn't even out of the closet and he's constantly afraid of getting caught. This does bother Seth, but he doesn't make the obvious connection that maybe Dino would be happier being with a woman. It's very clear that Dino and Gigi never stopped loving each other, they just couldn't reconcile their work lives and Seth knows this. Dino does seem to put Gigi's issues above Molly's and at first Molly was in more danger. Seth was right to be irritated.

Although Dino reassures Seth, his own thoughts aren't always where I wanted them to be. For example, (medium spoiler)Dino and a friend are reminiscing about old times, how good Dino and Gina were, and how great things would be for Dino if he were still with Gigi. Then Dino thinks, "By the end of it, I wasn't sure he didn't have a point about Gigi and me..." There were a couple of other times where he thought similar things but that was the worst. I never really got from him that it was ridiculous for him to have ever thought that, but I think it was because I read too much into it. I think he really was just agreeing that yeah, he'd have more money and a calmer life, but he didn't really think it would necessarily be better. Or maybe I'm just rationalizing.

Dino doesn't reassure Seth as often as he should and even evades the subject at times, which should only make Seth more concerned. I think there were points where Dino was being a jerk, exacerbated by the fact that he has never told Seth that he loves him. In fact, he isn't sure what to call Seth. He refers to Seth as his "boyfriend. Or whatever we were calling it," as if it was barely a relationship. They've been best friends for nearly a decade. The sexual part of the relationship hasn't been very long but how much time do you need when you know the person that well? (medium spoiler)I don't think Dino ever really apologized for his behavior. I'm not sure he ever realized what an ass he'd been.

The closeted issue really was bad. (moderate spoiler) When someone catches the two of them in a very compromising position, his first reaction is to shove Seth away (which dumps the man on the floor) and say, "I never meant for anyone to find out." He continues to make things worse by not shutting up. He is more worried about losing his apartment than respecting his relationship and Seth (and the latter is never addressed). Seth is understandably upset but he gets over it much too easily (part of that easy going thing again) and Dino is way too oblivious and much too arrogant when he finally deals with it. (medium spoiler) It doesn't occur to Dino that Seth might not make up with him easily. I think he really should have been made to really understand the import of what he did and Seth should have wanted to keep his distance longer than he did. That said, I think the actual resolution, how Dino dealt with stuff after his "apology" was just right for the character--not too sappy or drawn out or dramatic. Dino is a very private man and would probably be keeping any relationship close to the vest. So I don't think that to him, his actions were homophobic. The end of the whole issue was perfect when he was confronted about whether Seth was his boyfriend and he didn't lie or hedge or anything, just said yes. He redeemed himself a lot in my eyes.

Little hurrahs:
I really liked when at one point Dino sees some strippers doing their thing and notices that none of them looked as if they enjoyed themselves. It always bugs me in books when it seems like a stripper's life is either glamorous or violent. I like that reality that it's a really sucky job.
The author uses this idiom correctly: "If he thinks...then he's got another think coming." So many people use it wrong and it drives me crazy. Brava!
The women were victims and a little blind to the dark side of others but at least they were strong, not wilting flowers, and one of them eventually (minor spoiler) became kind of kick ass.
The detective work is really well done and believable. Dino plods through the boring stuff (without boring the reader), covering all bases, and even when he's pretty sure a subject is innocent, he doesn't remove the person from the suspect list. He a good at his job.

Nitpicks:
Dino drinks amaretto on the rocks which is such a girly drink and doesn't fit his personality as a closeted Italian ex New York cop at all.
They don't recycle at all, even beer cans. We've been recycling those since childhood. Don't all people know about recycling by now? At least newspaper and aluminum cans?
They use the term "wifebeater" to describe those tacky, low-class undershirt tank tops. Yes, we immediately know what is being described, but it's really unacceptably callous to use that word in such an offhand way. It drives me crazy.
Seth's like a golden retriever, all hyper and expressive and full of emotion but like that dog, he doesn't strike me as an angry person. In fact, he's very easy going. So the fact that he allegedly gets into bar fights frequently and he's the one that throws the first punch is hard to believe.
At least three times, Dino referred to a little thrill or tingle running up his spine when he was about to catch a break or onto something good. Each time it sounded like this was new information.
There were some continuity errors and blocking issues such as when someone knows something she hasn't been told yet or when Dino is taking photos of the back license plate of a car and is aware of the face of the person in the driver's seat.

Overall this was a strong story with a mostly believable cast (minor spoiler) I'm not even going to think about the bookie and an interesting if not earth-shattering mystery. The ending was good. I wish there had been a little more danger in the action, but I'm one who loves that kind of deathly peril type of stuff. Most people would be perfectly satisfied with the action and suspense. I'm eager to read the new short that was recently released.


Thirst

Thirst - T. Baggins 1.5 stars rounded up because it was at least not poorly written. I just hated it.

Widdershins by Jordan L. Hawk

Widdershins  - Jordan L. Hawk

There's a reason Jordan L. Hawk is one of my favorite authors and this is juts another example of why. I don't like historical romances. To say I hate them would only be slightly too strong. They are definitely my least favorite sub-genre of romance. Yet I loved this book.

Like I've come to expect from Jordan's books, this is a story of love and passion intermingled with an excellent story that could stand on its own. There is plenty of action, excitement, danger and suspense. She's created unusual monsters that are unlike those seen in other paranormal books. There's even an emotional and personal component to the hell that the characters face which makes it that much more intense.

Her heroes are damaged people with baggage but they're also strong and likeable. Here we have two complete opposites in Whyborne and Griffin. Both, especially Whyborne, grow over the course of the book. I love how Whyborne learns how strong he is and has been all along, what a good person he is. I really felt for them and how difficult their lives were as gay men in that era. (That is one of the reasons I hate historical romances, although far from the only reason.)

The female characters are intelligent, the mother being strong in heart and the Egyptologist Christine strong all over, including physically.

I felt the book started off a little slowly, although something sort of exciting happened at page 20. After that, though, I couldn't put the book down. Thrills alternated with romance which alternated with other emotional and/or research scenes. I didn't even look at page count as I went which is something I do with all stories.

I felt the name of Whyborne's childhood crush a bit too obvious, but perhaps that is my own study of classical history. It's certainly a beautiful name.

All in all, I loved this book and understand why it's done so well. I highly recommend it even for those who do not like historicals and I look forward to reading the second in the series.

Blood in the Sand by Robin Saxon and Alex Kidwell

Blood in the Sand  - Robin Saxon, Alex Kidwell

This is a hard book to review because there were a lot of things that bothered me about it and yet I loved it. As a result, I'm going to make this review more of a list of things because it's hard to keep it all coherent in my mind.

What I loved:

The action and suspense. The danger and excitement and intrigue. The mortal peril.

The characters and characterization. Every person was unique and I could picture what individual was speaking even without dialog tags or any other direction. Each had his own voice. (Yes, there weren't any important female characters but when one showed up, it wasn't in a sexist way.)

Jed in particular is different from other alpha males. I loved that he's touchy feely and all gooey lovey dovey with Redford and about Redford and then macho "I don't care about anything" with everyone else. The part that's different is that he doesn't hide his intense feelings for Redford and will be all mushy with others around including strangers. He'll sit in Redford's lap and bottoms even more than tops.

He's also an asshole. Sometimes this is really funny but I couldn't help but noticed that sometimes it wasn't so much funny as just mean. The scene where he calls home to talk to his cat was one of these where parts were hilarious and parts had me cringing and wanting to slap him. So I guess this is one of those both love it and hate it pieces.

But his relationship with Redford is beautiful and just got me right here (hand on my chest). I love Redford's innocence and it take's Jed's breath away. I love that they want to touch each other all the time (and that it bugs the hell out of Victor and David). I wish I got a little more from Redford's perspective, but I got enough to know that the intense love is mutual. And it's really wonderful that they both want to defend each other, that although Redford sounds like he's subservient to Jed's alpha maleness, he's not at all. Redford often defers to Jed because he's so ignorant of so much and hasn't been exposed to enough to have an opinion. But when it's something he does know about, they both realize that they're equals (except that Jed's main goal is to protect Redford and is so terrified that something might happen that he isn't always as open and honest as he should be at times).

The relationship, though, is a beautiful juxtaposition with Victor and David's. As the story progresses, we see more and more the differences and what makes a relationship stronger and what hurts it. This comes from both sides, but the things Jed and Redford learn are so different from what Victor and David need to learn. I'm not saying anything here that isn't in the blurb. As J & R just get stronger and stronger together, V & D (oh, that's an unfortunate combo...) start falling apart faster and faster. I think the whole thing is really well done with it's subtlety in that the comparisons are inferred rather than blatant and in your face.

Although I had already figured out from the last book why David was doesn't smell like a human, I didn't understand what was up with Victor outside of his relationship with David. I really liked where that went and where what we found out might be handled in the next book. (How's that for vague?)

The plot was good, too. I wasn't convinced at any point that anyone was right about what was happening. My take on the mystery changed every chapter or so. While there wasn't any new ground broken here, it was still entertaining and the twists usually took me by surprise. There were some parts where clues were left for the reader to figure out stuff at the same time as the MCs, but not completely spoon fed, either.

One of my favorite parts, though was the humor. There were some very funny moments. This one is Jed being absolutely serious: <blockquote>...[He] picked up a souvenir he thought Redford might like to start a collection with. Nothing said <i>class</i> like a shot glass with the pyramids on it. Memorable <i>and</i> practical!</blockquote>and one more (I hope your humor is like mine and that you're not rolling your eyes saying, "That is so not funny, maybedog.") <blockquote>"Learn to see everything," Jed said, almost under his breath. "Don't lose the sight of the forest for the trees." First advice he'd been given, on his first sniper run. Well, after <i>don't jam that gun up your ass and spin, Walker, we need a hit.</i> That was less advice, though and more of a general rule of thumb.</blockquote> and at one point when Redford is upset with Jed for doing something macho and stupid, and Jed is trying to defend himself, David says: <blockquote>As fun as this is going to be to watch," he said with a low smirk, "I've had quite enough bonding togetherness time. Besides, watching someone dig their own grave is just boring after the first six feet."</blockquote> (Although, what the hell is a "low smirk"?)

In this book more than most others, I really got what a horror it is to be a vampire. So many have a protagonist saying they don't want it for their loved ones but it doesn't make any sense because they are almost invincible, can survive on animal blood just fine, and live forever. The only drawback is not being able to go out in the sun and even that is sometimes changed. Here, though, the life is terrifying to think of and dark and dank. I would never want to be a vampire in this world, even if I were faced with immediate death.

(major spoiler related to plot)

When some of the kidnapped victims were rescued and delivered to the hospital, the next day there was nothing about the kidnappings on the news. (They were looking for news about something else about the kidnappings.) This was an enormous news issue that had dominated the headlines for weeks and yet when victims are found there's no mention of it.

(show spoiler)



What I didn't love:
The pacing was inconsistent. Some sections were just too long, especially with description. Some things felt unnecessary. (I don't know what was up with the prologue--it didn't fit with the story at all.) I felt that there were too many times we saw David's interactions with that which made him crazy.

A psychologist holds a pen and notepad when he's talking to a client. At least when they start to get something important he puts it aside. But seriously, it's distancing so no decent mental health professional would use one. They'd tape if necessary.

I hate Jed's nicknames for Redford, particularly "Fido." It sounds like an insult.

Jed's flirtations. There's no doubt he's head over heels in love with Redford from page one, so this crap pissed me off. True, (medium spoiler)

Redford eventually calls him on it and Jed's surprised that it even bothers Redford since in his mind it's absurd that he could want anyone else. But I was disappointed in his sort of apology in that he didn't say he would be able to stop.

(show spoiler)



I think Jed has a drinking problem and it's not addressed. I hope it will be in the next book.

Jed and Red (sounds like the start of a redneck joke) hold hands and more in public. They're in Egypt where homosexuals are routinely arrested and beaten and tortured. Thinking that you're immune to that because you're strong or because you're not Egyptian is just insanity, especially when you're trying to not attract attention to yourself.

At a restaurant where the menu is in Arabic and therefore for locals, they poor a glass of water out of a jug. Only someone who is not used to traveling to developing nations would write this. It is almost never safe to drink water in any country that is not your own except ones that have exceptional filtration systems. It's not just that it might not be clean, it's also that the microbes in it may mess you up even if they're fine for locals. Even fruit picked from a tree can be harmful. It works the other way around, too. An Egyptian coming to the US can also get terrible diarrhea and stomach aches. On top of that, Egypt is not one of the countries with said exceptional filtration systems. People who live there can get sick, too. All in all, BAD idea. Take it from someone who knows first hand, microbial infections are something you never want to get (and I had been very careful!)

There were lots of continuity errors like twice the characters sat in a booth and then Jed put his arm over the back of Redford's chair. Another time someone was sitting in an armchair and is punched in the face which knocks him backward and then has to pick himself of the ground and brushes off the front of his pants. Then someone went to bed fully clothed and a few sentences later woke up in just his boxers.

There's lots of visual confusion, too. I just don't know how the living area of the hotel suite was configured. There were two couches, at least two armchairs, a table that more than one person could sit at, a large TV, a large window with a view across from the entryway, and a door on each of the other walls plus a kitchen that can be scene from the living room with some kind of bar/counter separating it from the living room. This has to be the biggest hotel room in the history of hotel rooms. This is just one issue, though. There were many times that it didn't make any sense how someone could be in one place and then in another place. There was a time when two people stood toe to toe arguing about something on the table between them. Huh?

I also have an issue that isn't just related to this book but to many vampire stories. If vamps have to eat regularly (especially a body every day or two as here) and there are dozens in a city, how would people not notice? Even if only the people who wouldn't be missed are taken, very soon there wouldn't be a homelessness issue because they'd all have disappeared.

At one point the werewolf went back to a scene and said that he couldn't smell anyone other than the victims that had been there. He couldn't smell investigators or rescue workers?

Many times is TSTL. People try to give him tips in working with the supernatural, a whole new world for him, and he just cuts them off or ignores them. He can't be very good at his job if he doesn't get all the info he can before he goes into a situation. Even if he's amazing, there are always surprises and knowledge is key, sometimes the difference between success and death.

The beginning was all about Redford and his (low medium spoiler)

random spurts of insane wolfiness and yet that's not really dealt with. It's mentioned at the very end as something they need to figure out, but even when Jed is threatened, nothing happens. Redford should have wolfed out at that point in fitting with his triggers before.

(show spoiler)



At the end, (huge major big ass don't read if you want to read the book and want to be at all surprised spoiler)

David and Victor split, which in light of everything had to happen. I expected it since they didn't set it up that the two were in love, but it still made me a little sad. But just because David fucked up and was fucked up, didn't mean that he couldn't leave Egypt and start again somewhere. It was very clear that Egypt is what messed him up and he needed to get away again. I felt like he just gave up his humanity at the end, but as a conscious decision, despite that he still had feelings for Victor. I hated that.

(show spoiler)



So see my dilemma? I have so many problems with it that it sounds like this would only be a 3 or 3.5 star read, but it was still so fabulous, the positives far outweigh the negatives. Hopefully this review will help you see if you would agree with me or if these less appealing things would drive you crazy.

I loved it so I'm only docking half a star for these issues.

Any Closer by Mary Calmes

Any Closer - Mary Calmes

This had so much promise but fell flat. This is probably my least favorite Mary Calmes book, which is very disappointing. It felt rushed and it wasn't as funny as usual. The ending was pretty sudden and I wanted a little more, maybe an epilogue.

I've been complaining lately that I'm uncomfortable with the sexism in Calmes's books. This one wasn't nearly as bad. While the office person was a woman, she was kick ass, although that reminds me too much of Heinlein's heroines. But the main character and his family were way too tolerant of racism. Here's part of the relevant passage:

"My grandmother always said that if my father had just married Susie Apelt like he was supposed to, that I would have had blue eyes instead of brown. I shook my head and explained that I wouldn't even be me without my mother, but she would just wave her ahnd dismissively like I was stupid. Of course I would still be me, just better. My eyes would be the right color. But it was okay; my [Puerto Rican] mother didn't care, because she and my grandmother had become friends over the years. It was, my mother said, generational. My grandmother categorized her friends: my Korean friend Jean, my black friend Tanya, my grandfather's dear Chinese friend Tommy. It was ingrained in her to see the race of a person, just like it had never been ingrained in me to care."

It's one thing to "categorize" people because that's just how you were raised (although that should change over time with exposure to people of different cultures) but saying it's no big deal that a woman says her grandson would have been better if born to a white woman because he'd have blue eyes is disgusting. Yeah, he'd still be him but with blue eyes, but that's disapproval because of his hereditary race traits and also just not approving of how he is.

I also didn't like how the MC thought two people divorced because they weren't happy but that wasn't a good enough reason to "split up a home or a family." That's absolutely a great reason. Kids raised in unhappy opens tend to have a lot more problems than kids whose parents divorced and then found happy lives where the kids could see happy relationships modeled. It wasn't relevant to the story or the completely nonjudgmental character and I feel it was put in just to make a point. This conservative attitude fits with the stuff I mention above and it's soured me a bit on her writing.

But back to the writing. There was major info dumping over and over and the characters ended up talking things to death. There was too much we were expected to read between the lines. For example, at one point a minor character is attacked at home but it's a big scene and we are never told who the attacker is, just a hint by what he says.

I loved Charlie but there was too much time in the book without him in scenes that weren't necessary to the plot. There was so much potential in his past trauma that wasn't explored really. Leo is just kind of there, not really active in his own life. The scene when his mom and dad are arguing was really good, vivid in my mind, and yet his scenes with Charlie were often one dimensional; only the last couple of chapters were better but they also talked everything to death and it was typical Mary Calmes characterization with people wanting Leo.

It hurts to say this but 2.5 stars rounded down because of the racism and judgmental tone.

Counting Down

Counting Down - Kiernan Kelly This was good but I felt it ended too soon. I wanted to know what the outcome of the lawsuit was. I think I'm supposed to be an adult and all literary and be okay with how it ended but I'm not.

There were times I was practically screaming mad at the boss. I was even angrier at his coworkers. Somehow as horrified as I am by evil people, part of me says, "they are mentally ill and so messed up and evil, I can't even hold emotion for them" but the every day person who just stands by while evil happens? Those folks I really want to shake and scream at. At times my believability was strained because not one person even came up and commiserated with the MC in private, but mostly I was just angry.

3.5 stars but I'll round up because it was so sweet.

So true...

19 Quirky Conundrums Only Book Lovers Understand (stolen from another blogger)

Reblogged from Kate says:

old book

 OMG!! How come strangers know so much about me?!

 

via HuffPost:

 

1. Finding a comfortable reading position is a never-ending quest. Chair or bed? Side or back? In a box? With a fox?


2. On airplanes, you hesitantly flick on the overhead light while everyone else is napping.


3. Paper cuts may look like minor injuries, but the pain can be excruciating.


4. Walking and reading at the same time requires hand-eye coordination only professional athletes have been endowed with.


5. What on earth are you supposed to do with the jacket on a hardcover while you're reading it? Keep it on and risk damaging it? Take it off and store it in a weird nook, never to find it again?


6. Deciding what to read is a choice that presents you with an embarrassment of riches.


7. The typeface and page length of a book can seriously impact your reading experience, sometimes for the worse (sans-serif font is a huge no-no).


8. A book can be composed of the worst drivel you've ever laid eyes on, you're still afflicted with major guilt when you banish it to the "I Will Never Ever Ever Finish This. Like, Ever." shelf.


9. You lament time that you've wasted in the past; all of those hours scouring celebrity Twitters could have been put towards finally reading [The Charioteer]!

 

10. Some people count down the minutes until their lunch hour; you count down the minutes until [Abigail Roux] or [Dani Alexander] releases their next book (roughly 5 million for [Alexander], but who's counting?!)


11. Finishing a book you loved is like saying goodbye to a good friend. You've been through so much together! And while you may see each other again, it won't be quite the same.


12. Forget finding roommates; the most stressful thing about moving is figuring out a way to transport boxes upon boxes of heavy books.

 

13. You're constantly rethinking your bookshelf strategy. Should you color-coordinate, or take a more practical approach, such as publication date or alphabetization? Or, if you're feeling ambitious, should you tackle the autobiographical bookshelf, à la [David Sedaris] from Me Talk Pretty One Day?


14. Your mood is directly impacted by the mood of the book that you're reading; your friends have learned to avoid you during [Josh Lanyon] months or [Kaje Harper] weeks.


15. You take found books home like abandoned puppies, chirping, "Can we keep it?!" That'd be well and good if it didn't happen once a day.


16. One does not simply walk by a bookstore. One must poke around, at the very least, and one usually ends up filling one's tote bag with more books than one can carry.


17. "I don't read" is a relationship death knell, akin to "I loathe my mother" or "I enjoy upsetting kittens."


18. You may or may not own two (or three or four) copies of a beloved book. You can't help it, the redesigned covers are irresistible!

 

19. Laundry day and other important obligations get completely overlooked when you're in the middle of a great, un-put-downable book. "Same shirt Saturday"? Sorry you're not sorry.

 

[Names in brackets were changed by me to fit this blog.]

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/10/book-lover_n_4562002.html?ref=topbar