Showing posts with label Jordan Castillo Price. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jordan Castillo Price. Show all posts

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Minis: Ilona Andrews, Jordan Castillo Price, Amy Lane

CLEAN SWEEP (Innkeeper Chronicles #1) by Ilona Andrews
(Self-published, December 20, 2013)

On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is...different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, "normal" is a bit of a stretch for Dina.

And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night....Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.
Clean Sweep is a great combination of urban fantasy and science fiction. I love the world-building with a magic Inn, a powerful Innkeeper, a fresh look at shifter werewolves and vampires, and some pretty strange rules. The action is almost non-stop with Dina as the fabulous central character, werewolf Sean Evans playing the perfect romantic interest, and cosmic vampire soldier Arland coming in to give him some competition in the last third of the book.

I loved the ongoing humorous dialog and hilarious moments that happen between Dina and Sean, and the way the two learn how to work with each other. There is some great chemistry there between them that I hope will be further explored in future installments. But they are all fighting a dangerous monster on the loose, and there is enough action and gruesome scenes to satisfy urban fantasy fans. My favorite scenes, however, have to be when the Inn uses its magic through Dina and when her Shih Tzu dog, Beast, shows his true nature. Clean Sweep is a different, fresh read from the Ilona Andrews writing team. I know this story was developed at their website and the next installment is on the works, but I won't read it until it is done. I hope they hurry because I can't wait! Grade: B+

SPOOK SQUAD (Psy/Cop #7) by Jordan Castillo Price
(JCP Books, August 30, 2013)

Everyone enjoys peace and tranquility, and Victor Bayne is no exception. He goes to great lengths to maintain a harmonious home with his partner, Jacob. Although the cannery is huge, it’s grown difficult to avoid the elephant in the room…the elephant with the letters FPMP scrawled on its hide.

Once Jacob surrendered his PsyCop badge, he infiltrated the Federal Psychic Monitoring Program. In his typical restrained fashion, he hasn’t been sharing much about what he actually does behind its vigilantly guarded doors. And true to form, Vic hasn’t asked. In fact, he would prefer not to think about the FPMP at all, since he’s owed Director Dreyfuss an exorcism since their private flight to PsyTrain.

While Vic has successfully avoided FPMP entanglement for several months, now his debt has finally come due.
A transitional book in this excellent urban fantasy series, Spook Squad is about changes, closing old threads from previous installments and opening new ones to be addressed in the future. The story is absorbing enough, but there are too many pieces of the puzzle left dangling to make this more than a bridge read. Additionally, favorite recurring characters disappointingly act a bit out of character. Vic, Jake, Crash, and their little crew of close friends spend little time together, so missing and sorely missed are those tight emotional ties between favorite characters. Still, this is a favorite urban fantasy series and I look forward to the next installment. Grade: C+

(Dreamspinner Press, January 6, 2014)

Dawson Barnes recognizes his world is very small and very charmed. Running his community college theater like a petty god, he and his best friend, Benji know they'll succeed as stage techs after graduation. His father adores him, Benji would die for him, and Dawson never doubted the safety net of his family, even when life hit him below the belt.

But nothing prepared him for falling on Jared Emory's head.

Aloof dance superstar Jared is a sweet, vulnerable man and Dawson's life suits him like a fitted ballet slipper. They forge a long-distance romance from their love of the theater and the magic of Denny's. At first it's perfect: Dawson gets periodic visits and nookie from a gorgeous man who “gets” him—and Jared gets respite from the ultra-competitive world of dancing that almost consumed him.

That is until Jared shows up sick and desperate and Dawson finally sees the distance between them concealed painful things Jared kept inside. If he doesn’t grow up—and fast—his "superstar" might not survive his own weaknesses. That would be a shame, because the real, fragile Jared that Dawson sees behind the curtain is the person he can see spending his life with.
I'm a bit perplexed. I don't know what happened because from the beginning I loved the premise for Behind the Curtain, the characters -- Dawson, Jared, and Dawson's best friend Benji -- and how the story was evolving,. Unfortunately about half-way through this book I became tired of Dawson, Benji and the rest of their friends as they went about the daily grind, or whatever, which seemed to be explained in minute detail. I began skimming this book (something I rarely do), and finished it only because I skimmed. This is not a good thing. To me that's a sign that I'm either bored or just not interested. Anyway, by the time I reached the meaty part involving Jared, all the emotional punch was gone. It's a good story that grabbed my attention and engaged me in the beginning, it just did not keep me there. Grade: C-


PERSONAL NOTE: This past week I almost lost my husband to a pulmonary embolism and other complications. He is still hospitalized, but out of danger and under observation. He's the type of man who makes lemonade out of lemons and his fantastic outlook and incredible disposition got him, and me, through it all. Second chances. Sometimes we get them and we must make the best, tastiest, lemonade ever!! I'm finally home getting ready to do just that thanks to a fantastic team of surgeons and nurses who worked tirelessly day and night to give us that opportunity.

John wants me to read or do something to begin the process of getting things back to "normal." There you have it hon, I posted something. . . :)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

February 2013: Books Read Recap + Minis

February was a short, rather complicated month. Somehow, however, I managed to read quite a few excellent books. I do believe that because it was such an emotionally stressed sort of month, I indulged myself by reading books that fitted my mood. So if you look at my list you will notice that there is only one (ONE) mainstream romance in there.

The end of February also marked the end of my participation in the highly enjoyable 2013 Science Fiction Experience. Although I didn't get to half the books stacked on my coffee table, ALL those books I planned to read, with a total of 14 books read and 11 posts, it was a satisfying year. You can read my wrap-up post here.

Here are my total numbers for February.

Total Books Read: 20
--Historical Romance: 1
--Science Fiction: 3
--Poetry: 1
--Speculative Fiction: 1
--Non-Fiction: 1
--LGBT: 13 (Gay Fiction: 1, Gay Urban Fantasy/Romance: 7, Gay and/or Erotic Romance: 5)

A = 4
B = 9
C = 7

Favorite Reads of the Month:
1.   The Rest of Us: Stories by Guy Mark Foster: A-
2.   In Search Of an Others by Will Ludwigsen: A-
3.   Criss Cross (PsyCop #2) by Jordan Castillo-Price: A-
4.   Secrets (PsyCop #3) by Jordan Castillo-Price: A-

Balance of Great February Reads:
5.   The Natural Takeover of Things by Tim Z. Hernandez: B+
6.   Among the Living (PsyCop #1) by Jordan Castillo-Price: B+
7.   Hermovore by Jordan Castillo-Price: B+
I loved the different take on vampires -- the virus -- and the details that JCP provides to make the world of vampires and non-infected humans come alive in Hermovore. Her characterization is also excellent and Mark's voice as the human narrator is fabulous. Jonathan as the secretive vampire love interest comes off as a sex bomb turned sensitive macho love bucket. I don't know who I liked best; Mark's snarky, biggest-queen-in-the-world attitude or Jonathan's sexy, secretive persona. The story's pacing is a bit inconsistent, with some too-slow portions and other action-packed spaces, but overall a very good read!
8.   Lord of Darkness (Maiden Lane #5) by Elizabeth Hoyt: B
9.   The Human Division #3: We Only Need the Heads by John Scalzi: B
10. The Human Division #4: A Voice in the Wilderness by John Scalzi: B
11. Body & Soul (PsyCop #4)by Jordan Castillo-Price: B
12. Camp Hell (PsyCop #5) by Jordan Castillo-Price: B-
13. GhosTV (PsyCop #6) by Castillo-Price: C+
14. On Basilisk Station (Honor Harrington #1) by David Weber: C+
15. Trick of Time by J.L. Merrow: C+
I like J.L. Merrow's m/m romance stories. I've enjoyed them primarily because her characters never seem to fit the usual A&F mold. Instead her characters are, for the most part, unusual and/or unique. The two main characters in Trick of Time don't necessarily fit the mold either, so why didn't I enjoy this story more? This is a time travel story that shifts between contemporary and Victorian London and the execution of this particular storyline didn't quite work for me. I kept picking at the time travel aspect of it and finding too many holes, so that took me out of the story. Additionally, the time in which the two main characters develop a strong attachment to each other is very short! So, where did that leave me? After suspending disbelief, I enjoyed Merrow's turn of phrase, the unique characters she created and the emotion that she always seems to pour into those characters.
16. Striking Sparks (PsyCops #2.1) by Jordan Castillo-Price: C+
17. Many Happy Returns (PsyCops #2.2) by Jordan Castillo-Price: C+
18. In The Dark (PsyCops #6.1) by Jordan Castillo-Price: C+
19. The Stroke of Midnight (PsyCop #3.1) by Jordan Castillo-Price: C
20. Red-Inked Retablos by Rigoberto Gonzalez (Upcoming Review)

That's my recap for February and on to March! I already have a few new releases I've been looking forward to reading AND some old books that caught my eye too! Let's see if I can get through all of them.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

TBR Overview: PsyCop Series by Jordan Castillo Price

For the TBR Challenge this month, I decided to read one book from Jordan Castillo Price's PsyCop series and ended up reading the whole enchilada. These books (the entire series) have been in my TBR for a few years and Jordan Castillo Price's work (or JCP as this author is commonly referred to by readers) has been recommended to me by multiple friends. However, for the purpose of this month's theme I must say that Mariana is the one fellow-reader who has most often recommended both the author AND this series to me. 

So instead of writing a review for one book, I decided to post an overview of the series, which includes books read: Among the Living #1, Criss Cross #2, Secrets #3, Body & Soul #4, Camp Hell #5, GhosTV #6 and various novellas that complete the series only by focusing on certain characters and giving them a bit of depth, but that do not really give away any important information pertaining to the overall storyarc.

The PsyCop series by Jordan Castillo Price is a combination urban fantasy and m/m erotic romance narrated from the main character's first point of view. It sounds pretty standard, doesn't it? But as always when considering urban fantasy world-building must be taken into consideration, and in this case I was quite taken with JCP's world-building, as well as with her wonderful characters.

In JCP's world the action, murder mysteries, and paranormal events that Psychs and Cops encounter take place on or around Chicago's gritty streets. Her world building is that great fusion of alternate contemporary and heavy on the paranormal, with suspense and crime solving always as the center of each book. The other very important aspect of the series, the one I am sure that pulls at most readers, are the characters and the complicated relationships that develop between them. These relationships include both central and secondary characters since they have a tendency to become key contributors to the storylines.

Victor Bayne is a medium and the Psych half of a PsyCop team with his partner being the non-psych or as they are commonly referred to, a Stiff. Vic has a fabulous narrative voice. I don't know of anyone who would not fall in love with the talented but always grumpy Vic with his drug-induced insecurities (or is it his insecurities that cause his tendency to abuse those "feel-so-good" drugs?), vulnerabilities, and snark. I do love that Vic is very much aware of his flaws. But I think that what I've enjoyed most about this series, besides the fact that I'm enjoying JCP's writing style, is that the relationship between Victor and his romantic partner Jacob grows incrementally as the series progresses. By that I mean that although the two of them maintain a sexual relationship, the real trust and balance that makes a true partnership takes time to develop. The same can be said for Vic's relationship with his growing list of friends or secondary characters.

There is also character growth for Victor and Jacob individually, neither remains static as JCP uses the overall storyarc about the Psychs, which she packs with action and exciting revelations, to accomplish this growth. My favorite books of the series are Criss Cross #2 and Secrets,#3, probably because intimate revelations are thick in both books. Camp Hell, a favorite for many readers, was also a great read for me, but left a few holes and important questions unanswered, giving the book an unfinished feel, and GhosTV had a fantastic paranormal atmosphere, but unfortunately the book ended with one of those personal cliffhanger revelations. That was a disappointment, particularly since there has not been a follow up to this book. Hopefully there will be an end to the series.

Theme: Recommended Read
February 2013
Overall this is an addictive series for good reason. Jordan Castillo Price can weave an action-packed story, create a character, and maintain suspense and sexual tension. She can also write some over-the-top steamy scenes! Pheww... those scenes are the reason I decided to label this series UF/Gay Erotic Romance. Do I recommend this series? Absolutely!

Category: UF/Gay Erotic Romance
Series: PsyCop (#1-#6)
Overall Grade: B+

Monday, February 18, 2013

This n' That: Scalzi, Guy Mark Foster + Updates

Hey, how is everyone! I've been missing lately, I know, and slow in posting, but so far this has been one of those tough blogging months for me. Let's see... I had one long week of migraines that would not go away, I am still serving on Grand Jury duty every Thursday and won't be done until the end of February. That means double duty at the office. I can't seem to catch up no matter what I do! Plus, the situation with my mom seems to be deteriorating and it is both an emotionally draining and stressful time for all of us.

But you wonder if I've been reading, I have! Reading is one of those personal joys that I need to keep going. So what have I read lately? What am I reading now? I think I've chosen to read everything but "romance," and by that I mean mainstream contemporary and historical romance.


I have been keeping up with John Scalzi's new science fiction serial, The Human Division and read, Episode #3: We Only Need the Heads, and Episode #4: A Voice in the Wilderness. In We Only Need the Heads, Scalzi returns to the Ambassador's negotiating team and Harry Wilson, cleverly weaving in the events that took place in the wildcat colony featured in Walk the Plank. In A Voice in the Wilderness, Earth is the setting and readers get an inkling as to how the Colonial Union is viewed from their perspective. Political ramifications, manipulation by and of the media play a big part in this installment and I love that this episode ended with a bit of bang! I have Episode #5: Tales from the Clarke in my queue to read, but didn't get to it yet.

I'm really enjoying this serial, folks! So far Scalzi has alternated between the overall storyarc involving negotiations between the Colonial Union and different aliens and key events that affect or will affect those negotiations. So far some of the individual episodes work well on their own while others do not, and as a whole book the flow may seem a bit choppy. However, as the story moves along and revelations come to light, it works. I think that after Tales from the Clarke the story may flow better. I will let you know. So far this is a solid B read for me.

The 2013 Science Fiction Experience 
Earlier in the month I highlighted The Rest of Us: Stories by Guy Mark Foster. Foster is a gay African-American writer whose collection of gay fiction stories turned out to be fantastic. I purchased the digital edition, began to browse and ended up reading the whole book in one sitting.

The collection begins with "Boy," a short piece that sets the tone for the rest of the book, where a father explains to his son what manhood is all about, "rest the ankle of one leg on the opposite leg's knee-never cross one leg over the other's knee, and people won't too easily peg you for the punk you are right under my very roof due to become; " and ends with the amazing "Between Us," a story in letter form addressed to "Dear M" where Foster's character Mark attempts to explain to his former white lover why he tends to push people away. Foster's character explains that in addition to being black and gay he also has to "navigate the ever present complexities" of racial history: "simply being a human being presents a whole host of conflicts, but to be gay and of African descent in our society only increases those conflicts."

In between, Foster's wonderful collection of stories captures the social and cultural complexities of growing up as a gay African-American male while dealing with difficult family issues, religion, racial differences, racism, homophobia, and snapshots of men who continue to love men regardless of the obstacles. Highly recommended, this was an A- read for me.


Then, I got all caught up reading Jordan Castillo Price's addicting PsyCop series. Now, some of the books in this series have been sitting in my eReader for years. No kidding. So yeah... I gloamed and read: Among the Living #1, Criss Cross #2, Secrets #3, Body & Soul #4, Camp Hell #5, GhosTV, Book #6 plus the novellas Many Happy ReturnsStriking Sparks and In the Dark, to complete my reading experience. As you can imagine, I really enjoyed that experience, otherwise I would not have read all of these books consecutively. Expect an overview of the whole series soon!

I'm not done with Jordan Castillo Price yet. I'm planning on reading more of her series, plus Hermovore. All books already in my Kindle. Can't wait!

I began but have not finished The Mad Scientist's Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke. I really wanted to concentrate on that book and unfortunately my migraines hit while I was in the middle of it and I had to place it aside for another time. Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone suffered the same fate. This is a book that has been sitting in my Kindle since last year and I was enjoying it so much! But, I really needed the time to concentrate on the world building which is quite intricate and unfortunately my head was not in the right place to do so. So I will be reading it at another time. Hopefully soon.

What Am I Reading Now?

Two upcoming March releases: In Search Of and Others is a collection of speculative fiction stories by Will Ludwigsen that's working perfectly for me at this time because I can read and enjoy a few stories at a time in between other books. I will let you know how it turns out when I'm done, but there are some great stories in this collection so far.

The other book I'm reading is Rigoberto González's upcoming creative nonfiction release from UA Press, Red-Inked Retablos. This is another book that I'm thoroughly enjoying. It is totally different from my other reads in that it is nonfiction, but because the book is essentially a collection of distinct essays it can also be read slowly. So far a great read.

That's it for now folks! Hope those of you in the U.S. are enjoying President's Day.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Catching Up with some Minis!

Summer's craziness finally caught up with me. So far July has been a month chuck-full of distractions -- the World Cup, my brother's huge birthday bash, preparations for my mother's upcoming 82nd birthday on the 16th, plus the walks and the BBQs and the fun.

The down side? Both my reading and writing have suffered, I'm too distracted and happily tired by end of day to read much or write, although of course I've read a bit -- can't go without some reading. Since I haven't finished any of my reviews, I decided to share a few mini-impressions of some books I read these past months but never reviewed.

Blaze of Memory (Psy/Changeling series) by Nalini Singh

The story of Dev Santos and Katya Haas, this is not my favorite book of the series. I enjoyed the overall storyarc and discovering details about the Forgotten. However the romance itself was not one that kept my interest. Dev was not a character that I loved and Katya didn't make much of an impact. Although for me the romance was lacking, I thought that with this installment, Nalini Singh continued to keep the worldbuilding tight and intriguing, added newness to it and answered questions along the way. Grade B

Stroke (Psycop), Thaw (Psycop), Kindred Spirits by Jordan Castillo Price

Stroke and Thaw are very short stories and part of the popular M/M Psycop series by Jordan Castillo Price. One is a Holiday story and the other is a moment in Victor and Jacob's lives. They are both self-contained short stories that make you want to know more about both the characters and the series. I was certainly curious. Both stories Grade: C+

Kindred Spirits is an amusing encounter between two men at a party. Adam thinks he has developed the ability to see into other people's souls and he thinks John might be a kindred spirit. I had a good laugh at the end of this story when after the encounter Adam seems to have been both right and really quite wrong. :) Grade: B-

Moonstruck by Susan Grant

I had Moonstruck on my pile of books to be read for almost a year. I can tell you up-front that this was a great sci-fi/romance read. The sci-fi plot and details were there, but so was the romance -- we're talking one hot couple here! I loved that Britt Bandahar was a strong, tough, kick-ass captain who didn't take crap from anyone. She fell in love, despite incredible prejudices, with a man who was her enemy. And Finn? Finn, being the male in this tale and an alpha male at that, was one of the best parts of the book. Why? Because HE was the one who was Moonstruck! He fell for Britt hook, line and sinker and I loved it! I had some slight problems with the way the world was presented, but there's no question that I truly enjoyed the romance. Grade: B+

I have a few more first impressions to post, but for now I'll leave you with these. Hope you're enjoying these summer days -- mine are hot, humid and hazy! Keep on reading!