Book Review · reading

Stranger on the Shore by Josh Lanyon

I really liked the title. It fits the book. I have to add that I got this book from NetGalley.

There are two parts to this book: the mystery and romance. The mystery, but I do not know that the romance worked for me.

The main character comes to research and write a book about a twenty year old kidnapping. The love interest interferes.

Blurb from GoodReads:

Twenty years ago young Brian Arlington, heir to Arlington fortune, was kidnapped. Though the ransom was paid, the boy was never seen again and is presumed dead. Pierce Mather, the family lawyer, now administers and controls the Arlington billions. He’s none too happy, and more than a little suspicious, when investigative journalist Griffin Hadley shows up to write about the decades-old mystery. Griff shrugs off the coldly handsome Pierce’s objections, but it might not be so easy to shrug off the objections of someone willing to do anything to keep the past buried.

The Mystery:

Some of this I saw coming, some of it I didn’t. I figured out the part I saw coming half way through the book. I enjoyed finding out I was right.

So, IMO, it’s good. It is a fun, enjoyable read. I finished it pretty quickly.

The Romance:

I have to admit, I didn’t actually get the romance. The love interest is hot and cold. Uses him one minute and the next minute he is all hearts and roses.

Plus, the love interest did a few things that I personally would have a hard time forgiving. I think the main character should have made him grovel more. Like, weeks more instead of just forgiving him. It was just too quick.

Favorite Scene:

This is a hard one. There are a lot of really good scenes. But if I had to pick one, I would pick the conversation one between the main character and the love interest’s sister. Not, note, the love interest.

If I had to pick a favorite scene with the love interest, it would be the last one, the one where he declares his love and is practically forgiven. For all that I thought the forgiveness came too quick and the main character should have just driven on, it was pretty good. That might sound contradictory.

I have to say, there were no boring scenes. I also think every single scene did something to push the story forward.

Would I reread Stranger on the Shore by Josh Lanyon? Probably not. It wasn’t bad, but not nearly as good as some of Josh Lanyon’s other efforts.


Best Reads of 2012

I’ve read so many books this year I don’t remember all of them. So many books that reading interfered with the writing. Which is not okay, but I can accept it.

So these the best of the books I do recall reading. If there is one thing this list is based on, it is how memorable the books are, how much I liked it, how much I re-read each book. That list bit, re-rereading, probably puts a basis on books from the beginning of the year, since there’s been more time to re-read a book from January than the book I finished last week. At the same time, I am more likely to recall the book I finished yesterday than the book I finished in January. I figure that evens things out.

So in no particular order:

1) A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

I read A Natural History as an ARC, it comes out on February 5, 2013, and I still have to do a review on it. But let me just say it’s fabulous. It’s written as a memoir of a old lady who had the most fantastic adventures in her youth. She studies dragons, falls head long into danger and apparently does something for the cause of feminism. She also gets her husband killed, which leaves me wondering how she acquired the title Lady Trent. I like the matter-of-fact way this is written. I can almost believe this is a real memoir. It’s very different (and also much better IMO) than previous Marie Brennan books.

2) Goblin Quest by Jim Hines

Funny, full of adventure, and also has goblins as I never pictured them before. Fun to read and I cannot wait to get started on the next Goblin book.

3) Men Under the Mistletoe by Ava March, Harper Fox, Josh Lanyon & K.A. Mitchell.

This is an ARC from last Christmas, one I only got around to reading in January of this year. 😉 But it’s one I’ve re-read again and again and again. I said in the review that Winter Knights Harper Fox is the best story, but I keep re-reading the Lone Star by Josh Lanyon. I don’t actually understand why.

4) The Serpent Sea by Martha Wells

This is another book I’ve re-read a few times. It’s good. I love love love the world and the main character. I want more books in this world. I don’t think Martha Wells has come close to plumbing the depths. Even if she chose a different main character, I wouldn’t mind, I love this world so much. It’s beautiful and magical and really vivid.

5) Imagine by Jonah Lehrer

This is probably the only non-fiction book on this list. It’s about imagination and creativity and how it all works. Very interesting.

6) Stars & Stripes by Abigail Roux

I don’t know how many times I’ve re-read Stars & Stripes. A lot. I don’t know what it is, the romance, the ridiculous danger or the characters. This one is special is because the main characters come out to their family, act openly like a couple for maybe the first time. There is even talk of children. Next, they need to come out at work.

7) Bridge of Dreams by Anne Bishop

I don’t know how long I waited for Bridge of Dreams to come out (ever since I heard about a new Anne Bishop book probably). It’s worth the wait and explores the word in far greater detail, has far more bizarre creatures than I dreamed even Anne Bishop to come with and make work. I loved it, and yes, this too is a book I’ve re-read a few times.

8) Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard

I’m pretty sure Servant of the Underworld is a first novel and it is amazing. It doesn’t feel like a first novel at all. I can quite decide if this fantasy or urban fantasy or something in between, but whatever it is, this book pulls you in.

9) To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to include this in a Best Reads list, but even though I never really re-read, it is still worth reading and not a book I am likely to forgot anytime soon so . . .

I don’t know what else to add. 9 are probably enough. But in case they are not, here are some honorable mentions:

1) Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold: I love Lois McMaster Bujold and I wanted to add this just for that, but I don’t think it stands out quite enough for a Best Read novel. 😦

2) Cake by Derekica Snake

I feel that Cake could have been stand-out, but it’s missing something. I don’t know what. It’s a disturbing and exciting all at once, but it needs something.Memorable, though, if only for how disturbing it is.

3) Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro

Finished this just yesterday and fun fun fun read. Fun!!!! Also, quick. Took only a few hours to finish reading.

4) Black Sun Rising by CS Friedman

I love the setting, the system of magic. Very imaginative. I like the anti-hero. Very nice. But I am not sure about this one yet. I need a little bit more time to digest, I think. It falls in some bizarre science fantasy category, though I put it on my fantasy shelf.

Covers to come later!

Book Review · General · reading

Book Review: Men Under the Mistletoe

I meant to write this around Christmas, but that didn’t happen for various reasons. So here it is in the New Year.

Men Under the Mistletoe is a collection of four stories: My True Love Gave to Me by Ava March, Winter Knights by Harper Fox, Lone Star by Josh Lanyon, and The Christmas Proposition by K.A. Mitchell. None of these writers are new to me. 😉

I don’t normally like regency romances, but My True Love Gave to Me is pretty good. A lot better than I expected. The characters drive the story. Thomas left Sasha when they were both 17 because his desires scared him. The second part of the story is pretty damn emotional. I liked it a lot. The characters are special. They can’t exactly be open about their relationship, but they get a HEA anyway. And the way they do the HEA  isn’t too unrealistic!

Winter Knights is probably the best story in the whole anthology. It’s my favorite anyway. 😉 It has a twist on the Arthur and Lancelot legend. The main character gets lost in the snow and they appear. Well, a version of them. 😉 I can’t tell if it really happened or if he was just dazed and hallucinated the whole thing. I am inclined to think it really happened. But I like the idea of Christmas ghosts. Anyway, the whole thing is pretty romantic. I loved it.

Josh Lanyon wrote the Adrian English books, a really good romantic suspense series. Lone Star doesn’t disappointment. Even if there is no suspense. There is a ballet dancer and a Texas Ranger and a high school romance. Mitchell goes home after catching his lover with someone else; he hadn’t been back since before his father’s death and decides to settle the estate while he’s there. They do get a HEA or at least it is implied. But in this short story they haven’t decided how to make their romance work when one lives in NY and the other lives in Texas. I think that part deserves a story all its own.

I loved the ending of The Christmas Proposition. It was funny and sexy and not that full of angst. Mel discovers he’s going to host a wedding a week before the event and his life gets a little crazy. There is some family drama – K.A. Mitchell does a good job of explaining family history, past problems and so on. And the ending made me laugh. 😀

General · reading · Writing

Erotica vs Romance

I’ve read a lot of romance and a lot of erotica, but I don’t know where exactly is the line between the two things. I started wondering about it I began the gay modern-day fairy tale.

The easy answer is that romances are about love and erotica is about sex. But all romances have sex and most erotica has romance, too. In erotica (to my mind) the plot revolves around sex. In romance, plot revolves around the romance. But in both the sex has a point. A plot point, character development, something. The sex isn’t gratuitous. If the definition of erotica is any story where sex serves a plot point, than everything would be erotica and this post would be pointless. (Plus, a good chunk of urban fantasy would be called erotica, too.) BTW, that’s how they are organized in my kindle. Romance or erotica, they are all in one folder.

My favorite erotica (Vampire Trinity by Joey W. Hill. But I love anything by her) the sex and romance are equally balanced. It’s hard to imagine one without the other. Of course, Joey W. Hill gets into alternate lifestyle situations that most traditional publishers wouldn’t touch. Alternate situations include not only kinky stuff, but gay romances. Josh Lanyon, whose Adrien English Mysteries is a long, drawn-out romantic suspense series. Oftentimes it has more suspense than romance. I discovered it on an erotica publisher’s website, but it is not erotic in the least. It has equal or less sex scenes than your average romance (i . e. Nora Roberts). So I am thinking that’s one way a story becomes erotica; the sex is out of norms somehow.

But that’s not enough! I mean, plenty of erotica has vanilla, one, guy, one girl kind sex. So I am thinking now one of the differences is language. Erotica has words that you would never find in romances. (i. e. pussy) Sometimes the words seem kind of forced, like they don’t belong, maybe as if the publisher insisted on using those words. But they are there.

The third thing is that if someone is published by an erotica publisher, they will always be erotica writers and everything they produce afterward will be deemed erotica. That isn’t fair and I am not sure how true it is.

What do you guys think? What separates erotica from romance? Does the separation even exist?

Book Review · General · reading

Book Review: Fair Game by Josh Lanyon

From Josh Lanyon‘s website:

A crippling knee injury forced Elliot Mills to trade in his FBI badge for dusty chalkboards and bored college students. Now a history professor at Puget Sound University, the form

er agent has put his old life behind him — but it seems his old life isn’t finished with him.

A young man has gone missing from campus — and as a favor to a family friend, Elliot agrees to do a little sniffing around. His investigations bring him face-to-face with his former lover, Tucker Lance, the special agent handling the case.

Things ended badly with Tucker, and neither man is ready to back down on the fight that drove them apart. But they have to figure out a way to move beyond their past and work together as more men go missing and Elliot becomes the target in a killer’s obsessive game…

I’ve read other books by Josh Lanyon. Some were good, others were not. Fair Game is one of the good ones.

It has romance and adventure and intrigue. I didn’t figure out who the bad was until the end. The romance between the main characters was good, but not overly sweet or sentimental. I liked how the author revealed why they had split (the real reasons, not just the bad leg reason).

I liked the minor characters too – the father, the parents of the dead kid, the kid’s friends. The father is stronger than minor characters usually are, I think. He has a bad moment of suspected about his father and that adds depth and just more drama to the story.

It was fast, easy read and really worth getting.

General · reading · Teaser Tuesdays

Reader Teaser Tuesday: Fair Game

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“Yes, it is. Once you made up your mind to find out what happened to Terry, you committed to following every possible trail. I know you, son. It’s not a bad trait – not the in the fuzz  and not in a scholar – but I wasn’t happy to have you looking at me like a suspect.”

– Fair Game by Josh Lanyon