Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mini Impressions: May Reads 2011

Here are some of those mini-impressions I usually include with my monthly recap. I decided to post them separately for my May 2011 reads because my post changed, and it turned out to be too long. As you can see they're mainly LGBT and contemporary romance reads.
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Homecoming by Rick R. Reed

Homecoming is a story of loss, grief and finally a second chance at love as life goes on. This was not an easy ride, but rather Reed takes the reader for an emotional roller coaster ride. After Toby dies in an accident, his partner Chase is left devastated by loss and grief. Chase's journey to recovery from that grief begins when the couple's friend Mike invites him to visit their old haunts in Chicago with hopes that Chase will snap out of his depression.

There are two love stories in this book, the central one is Chase and Toby's and then there's a more subdued one that develops as Chase finds his second chance at love. I loved Chase and Toby's love story, told through Chase's memories as he both grieves and is haunted by his lost love. I also enjoyed the hopeful ending, but most of all the journey that took Chase to that end. (LGBT) Grade B

Promises (Coda Books #1) by Marie Sexton

I enjoyed this story, the two main characters and the slow building friends-to-lovers trope. It does have a "gay for you" feel to it, although it might be argued that the one character is basically buried in the closet. However, I found the writing lacking in detail and rushed throughout with more "telling" than "showing." As an example, issues and problems between the two main characters are introduced, but the reader never experiences the resolution with the characters, instead they are "told" in a paragraph what that resolution was and the story moves on at a pretty quick pace to next scene. Having said that, Sexton's main characters are likable and the story has enough good moments that I enjoyed it to the end. (LGBT) Grade C+

The Dark Farewell by Josh Lanyon

A good whodunit with a rather distant protagonist and a rushed and dissatisfying ending. That's what I thought of The Dark Farewell by Josh Lanyon. This is one of those novellas that would have benefited from more character development for those secondary characters and fine details, although again the historical atmosphere and particularly the whodunit were well-done. (LGBT) Grade C

Still the One (The Educators, #1) by Kathryn Shay

This was an average contemporary romance read for me. It's a self-published story by Shay that deals with a teacher who falls in love with one of his senior female students, leaves, and years later returns to town to apply for a position as principal of the high school. The young woman, who also had feelings for the teacher, reacts radically when he leaves and basically ruins her immediate future. In the present she is a widow with two boys and a teacher at the school.

Shay takes on the sensitive subject of attraction between teacher and student and deals with it quite well. I also liked the high school student and teacher atmosphere she developed in this series. There's definite chemistry between the two main characters and that's a plus. I had a few problems with the story though, the teacher was 24 years old when he fell for 18 year-old Annie in senior year, however he "had been there for her" ever since she was a freshman. How old was Dylan when he began teaching, 20? When did he have time to get his BA and his teaching degree? I don't know... just one of the little niggles. The bottom line for me is that although there is chemistry between the characters, the romance just doesn't feel well developed and for some reason, I had a tough time connecting with Annie. The fact that even as an adult she blamed Dylan for her downward spiral bothered me to the end. This is a self-published book/series, so expect a few errors throughout the text. (Contemporary Romance) Grade C

Someone Like You (The Educators, #2) by Kathryn Shay

In the second book of The Educators series, Shay goes back to Crystal Corners High School and features another teacher and war widow, Brie Gorman, as she falls in love with her dead husband's best friend and hot coach, Nick Corelli. As with the first book, Shay also makes the students part of the romance and in this one she highlights Matt, a young man with severe issues at home who has turned to cutting as an avenue of escape.

I enjoyed this story a bit more than the first one. The initial dislike and slow-building attraction between the two main characters kept me reading. The teacher/student relationships and school atmosphere were also well rendered by Shay. However, the story takes a few turns where the reader must suspend disbelief in order to finish it. The resolution to Matt's story is one of them. A good read that fizzled toward the end. (Contemporary Romance) Grade: C

Maybe This Time (The Educators, #3) by Kathryn Shay

In this, the conclusion of The Educators trilogy, one of Shay's teachers again confronts tough issues while finding love. This time it's the cool, young teacher who gets her turn. While stuck at Atlanta's airport on her way home, Delaney meets a man and proceeds to have a hot and sizzling one-night stand, that both feel might turn into more. Later, she finds out that this man is non other than her favorite student's father, Gage. Stephanie is not just a favorite student, but a troubled and psychologically fragile teenager who trusts Delaney as an adult. A relationship with Stephanie's father is out of the question, but as the parent and teacher have more contact with each other the mutual attraction becomes a frustrating, losing battle for the couple.

This contemporary romance had good moments with a couple that had chemistry and again, that good high school atmosphere with teachers that care. However, I had just one too many problems with it, including the amount of issues that were thrown into the simmering pot for Gage and Delaney. Stephanie's psychological rebelliousness, the school situation, the way over-the-top drama with Stephanie's friends, Stephanie's mother and how her bipolar illness was handled within the story. Most of all the unplanned pregnancy, which is not one of my favorite devices, and how that affected the romance between the two main characters. So, not a favorite read for me. (Contemporary Romance) Grade: C-

His Hearth (Warder Series #1) by Mary Calmes

An M/M romance that basically, like its characters, couldn't make up its mind which way to go: a contemporary romance through 80% of the story and a paranormal for the last 10%.

This story had one main character who didn't sleep around unless he was in a committed relationship, yet did, and another one who was begging, and I mean begging and pitiful, throughout most of the story. He comes off as weak and manipulative yet later, during the paranormal part of the story, we are supposed to believe this character is somehow a macho, killing machine. I didn't buy any of it. Nothing made real sense, neither the contemporary part of the story, nor the paranormal. A real disappointment for me. (LGBT) Grade: D-

7 comments:

  1. I am going to stay away from His Hearth. I've read some other stuff by that author before and enjoyed it though. Have you read anything else by MC?

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  2. Thanks for the mini review of Homecoming, I definitely will be reading it. One of the reasons that I enjoy Reed's stories is that he is honest with his characters and their emotional journey. Even if it's a love story or romance there are no rose coloured glassed.

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  3. Nice post, Hils!! Too bad there wasn't at least a book that stood out ^_^;

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  4. The same things that you liked and that bothered you about the Shays were what I liked and what gave me niggles as well.

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  5. I liked the blurbs for the Shays, bought the first two. Too bad they didn't work so well for you.

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  6. Thank you Hils. Sorry Promises didn't work so well for you. I loved it, but then I think I just fell in love with the characters and forgot about all the important details, like problem resolution :)

    An M/M romance that basically, like its characters, couldn't make up its mind which way to go: a contemporary romance through 80% of the story and a paranormal for the last 10%.

    Oh dear. I loathe the introduction of paranormal elements at the end of a book, especially when I'm not expecting them.

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  7. Ames, this was my first read by this author, but I'm not giving up on Calmes. I've heard good things about her work too. I'll just try something else besides this series. :)

    Indie, you're right on the money with your assessment there. Reed definitely approaches Chase's journey that way in "Homecoming." It is one of the things I appreciated about the story. I think you'll definitely enjoy it. :)

    Nath, thanks. There were quite a few stand outs for me in May. I chose to write Minis on one B and my C reads for the month, though. In this batch, Homecoming was my standout. :)

    Lori, I went on a Shay-buying binge last month on your recommendation. *g* I began with this series, and although they were mixed bags for me, there was enough there to enjoy. I still have other books in my TBR that I hope I'll like more!

    Leslie, I liked those blurbs too. The first two books were good reads for me, just not great. That's not to say that you won't like them more! Shay does a wonderful job with the teacher/student/high school atmosphere... I think you'll enjoy them.

    Orannia, lol! I know how that feels when reading books and falling in love with characters. "Promises" was actually a very good read for me. I really liked those characters, and obviously Sexton did a wonderful job with them. I just wish I could have experienced more with them.

    RE: His Hearth. Yeah... not the best introduction to a paranormal series. It was very abrupt and it came out of nowhere. Literally.

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