Tuesday, June 30, 2009

July 2009 M/M Releases

July is coming and there are some great upcoming releases for Romance reading lovers. I know I'm personally looking forward to quite a few new reads within the different genres. However, there's nothing like a hot, humid July day and a hot, steamy M/M romance read. 

There are quite a few new releases coming out, but I thought I would highlight a few for you. I'm personally looking forward to both Death and Life and Nowhere Diner: Finding Love by T.A. Chase, ePistols at Dawn by Z. A. Maxfield and Conventional Wisdom, a Novella by T.C. Blue. Jet Mykles continues her ever popular Heaven Sent series with Revelations, a series I'm determined to start reading after I conclude the M/M Romance Reading Challenge. So, here are some hot reads for a hot month!

July 6 Death and Life by T. A. Chase

Noah Wiltson wants nothing more than to be left alone. His father's candidacy for Presidency forces him to have secrets. Imagine his surprise when a hired killer gives him the means to live his life without doubt or fear

The killer knows this hit is going to be his last. Whether he chooses to walk away or whether they kill him. He's never been a team player, so he ends the game on his terms.

A few months later, Noah meets Cain Packert, a man who intrigues and excites him. Only one of them knows the 
truth. Can they find love amid secrets and threats?

July 7 ePistols at Dawn by Z.A. Maxfield

Jae-sun Fields is pissed. Someone has taken the seminal coming-out, coming-of-age novel Doorways and satirized it. He's determined to use his Internet skills and his job as a reporter for the tabloid The Adversary to out the author as the fraud and no-talent hack he's sure she is.

Kelly McKay lost a bet and wrote a satire of his own novel Doorways, which as far as he can see is his own damned prerogative. He likes his anonymity and except for Will, his houseboy, factotum and all-around slut, he craves solitude. There's also that crippling case of OCD that makes it virtually impossible for him to leave the house...

Jae is always several steps ahead in their due for information. He's determined to find Kelly, but Kelly has no intention of being found. A chance meeting pushes the stakes that much higher because their magnetic mutual attraction can't be denied.

Kelly wants Jae. Jae wants Kelly. But there's Doorways to deal with, Kelly's OCD, and Jae's job as a professional stalker. So when they meet, it gets complicated...
July 8 Another Dream by Addison Albright

July 12 The Mask He Wears by Fae Sutherland and Margueritte Labbe

July 12 No One But You by KC Kendricks

July 19 Double Standard by J.M. Snyder

July 25 Conventional Wisdom by T. C. Blue

July 26 Nowhere Diner: Finding Love by T.A. Chase

July 28 Heaven Sent - Revelations by Jet Mykles (m/m/f)

(Blurb from Author's Site subject to change)

For years, Gretchen's main objective has been taking care of the boys of Heaven Sent. When her boys decide to take a year-long hiatus, she decides to do the same. Before she can begin her summer off, Gretchen has one last public commitment. There, she meets tall, mysterious, and wickedly handsome Archer Thanos. Archer's company has a video game based on Heaven Sent and he has been trying to get in touch with her to discuss it. Their first meeting quickly turns into a discussion of another type... in a nearby hotel room, sending Gretchen headlong into a whirlwind summer affair she hadn't anticipated.

Only, someone isn't exactly thrilled about Gretchen and Archer's romance. Gretchen's adorable new assistant, Owen, has been pining for his boss since he started working for her but he hasn't had the courage to assert himself and tell her he wants her. The result, Gretchen is completely blind to his feelings for her. To make matters worse, after meeting Archer, Owen knows he has no chance against the handsome devil. His own attraction to the older man is instant and overwhelming, the bisexual urges he hasn't divulged to Gretchen fully awakening.

Owen thinks he's not enough for Gretchen. Gretchen thinks Owen is far too young for her. Archer thinks they're both ridiculous. He knows the three of them are just right for each other, if they can survive the miscommunication and trials ahead.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Titan's Curse (Percy and the Olympians, Book 3) by Rick Riordan

When Percy Jackson receives an urgent distress call from his friend Grover, he immediately prepares for battle. He knows he'll need his powerful demigod allies at his side; his trusty bronze sword, Riptide; and... a ride from his mom.

The demigods race to rescue to find that Grover has made an important discovery: two new powerful half-bloods, whose parentage is unknown. But that's not all that awaits them. The Titan lord, Kronos, has set up a devious trap, and the young heroes have just fallen pray.

Hilarious and action-packed, this third adventure in the series finds Percy faced with his most dangerous challenge yet - the chilling prophecy of the Titan's curse.
In this third installment, the battle for Olympus and Western Civilization picks up momentum. Kronos and his army, led by Percy's old friend, Luke--son of Hermes-- has gained ground. Luke has been recruiting half-bloods and monsters who have not existed for centuries and are coming back to life. Now they have a mysterious new leader... more powerful than Luke. The General will prove to be a ruthless and a worthy adversary for both heroes and gods alike.

In The Titan's Curse, Percy, his friends, and the gods have their hands full. Our heroes are successful in rescuing the unknown half-bloods they were charged with retrieving from Westover Hall. Joining the fight and their rescue efforts, the goddess Artemis and her Hunters save the day, but not before Annabeth is lost. 

Following a hunch, the goddess Artemis decides to hunt a mighty monster whose scent she picks up -- one she thinks is capable of destroying Olympus. The Hunters and our heroes must return to Camp Half-Blood and wait. Percy just wants to look for Annabeth. He's convinced she's not dead but no one will listen.

So far, we've met quite a few gods and monsters in our adventures with Percy, Annabeth and Grover. In the Titan's Curse, they are all let loose to both our horror and enjoyment. 

"...The Great Stirring is underway."

"The Great what?" I asked. Anything to keep him talking while I tried to figure out a plan.

"The stirring of monsters." Dr. Thorn smiled evilly. "The worst of them, the most powerful, are now waking. Monsters that have not been seen in thousands of years. They will cause death and destruction the likes of which mortals have never known. And soon we shall have the most important monster of all - the one that shall bring about the downfall of Olympus."

This is where Kronos makes his move and the gods, as a whole, take the situation seriously. In the meantime, our friends must follow a prophecy as told by the Oracle - five of them must go West to rescue the goddess Artemis. On their way, one will be lost and one will die by a parent's hand. It will be a difficult quest, full of danger, feats of heroism, and some terrible mistakes. Our heroes take us for a ride through an adventure full of dangerous, funny and sad situations. 

Thalia will confront doubts and danger, and both she and Annabeth will have to make difficult decisions. Grover's dream will come within his grasp but he'll have to let it go, and Percy will come face to face with his greatest weakness and we'll question his judgment. Other heroes will save the day and our friends will learn some difficult lessons. The gods, as always, will be both a blessing and a curse -- a mixed bag, you just never really know those gods.... 

This book really moves the storyline along. The pace is quick and relentless with danger in every corner and at every turn. The darkest book in the series, so far, Rick Riordan still maintains the same level of wit and fun that he established in previous books. Characterization continues to be excellent in this series. The established characters continue to grow in development. New characters introduced in this installment are both rich and well drawn -- some better than others, depending on their importance to this particular story. 

Favorite chapter titles on this one? "Thalia Torches New England," "I Go Snowboarding with a Pig," and "We Meet the Dragon of Eternal Bad Breath." It was a tough choice, there are quite a few great titles on this one. 

In my opinion, this is the best book in this series, so far. Percy and the Olympians just seems to get better and better as it goes along. I'm truly looking forward to the fourth installment, The Battle of the Labyrinth.

You can find the book here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

M/M Mini Reviews: Angela Benedetti

I'm only half way through my list for the M/M Romance Reading Challenge and must finish by August 31st, so I better hurry. I did manage to read two short pieces under the New-to-Me Author category. I've had this author on my list for a while and decided to give her shorts a try during this challenge. So, today I'll be featuring, Angela Benedetti.

In The Driver's Seat by Angela Benedetti

Brian Stokes is looking for a new bed mate after his latest bed-buddy leaves him for a permanent partner. Benedetti draws Brian as a good looking and arrogant male used to having his own way. He's not interested in serious relationships, but would like to have someone who at least knows his likes and dislikes. He knows it won't take him long to find someone new... but, the gym where he works has the same faces and bodies -- been there, done that.

Brian walks in the locker room and notices someone fresh and different. Val turns out to be an old acquaintance. He worked at the gym during summers as a teenager and Brian was a kind of mentor to him back then. Things have changed.

Val is now a grown up man with assets that won't quit and Brian wants him on the spot. He figures he can teach Val a thing or two between the sheets and is surprised when Val seems reluctant -- but a date is on. Brian is in for an unexpected, if ultimately, pleasant surprise. The question becomes; who will be giving the lesson and who will be receiving it? Who will give and who will take?

Benedetti did a terrific job with this short Torquere Sip. I enjoyed how she wrote Brian and Val's surprisingly hot and erotic encounter, as well as, the quick pacing and phrasing of the story. Brian's internal dialogue and personal ramblings became a personal favorite.

M/M Erotica, D/s: Hot B+
You can read an excerpt for In the Driver's Seat here.

Candy Courage by Angela Benedetti

Take an old gentleman who mixes magic into his yearly Halloween supply of home made peanut brittle. Stir in a single father who takes his boy trick-or-treating, and throw in a gorgeous co-worker who lives in the area. There you have the recipe for Candy Courage.

Our main character Glen Bellamy is a single father who recently moved to the neighborhood. He and his son Georgie are out trick-0r-treating when they come by Mr. Fiorentelli's old home. The peanut brittle Mr. Fiorentelli gives the kids smells wonderful, but it is not store bought, so Glen is not about to let Georgie eat it -- that doesn't mean he himself can't have it.

A couple of more blocks and they unexpectedly reach the home of Neal Sampson. He is Glen's hot and smart co-worker, and he has a bit of a lusty crush on him. To his own surprise, Glen flirts and aggressively makes a date with Neal for the following day. Will Glen continue to have the courage he needs to approach Neal once the magic wears off? Will his shyness allow it?

I found this short Torquere Halloween Sip by Ms. Benedetti to be a sweet, hot read. She captured a moment, the consequences and its possibilities quite well.

M/M Erotica: Quick, Enjoyable, Sweet B-
You can read an excerpt for Candy Courage here.

In conclusion, I enjoyed both stories by this new-to-me author. These were both short reads but I found them to be solid. I'm looking forward to reading longer books from Ms. Benedetti. You can visit her here.

Originally posted at Musings of a Bibliophile on June 26, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Touched by Light by Catherine Spangler

WARNING: You'll find some spoilers in this long review.

Touched by Light is the third installment in Catherine Spangler's Atlantis based paranormal romance series. I liked the first two books in this series, Touched by Darkness (Book 1) and Touched by Fire (Book 2), they kept me interested enough to continue reading -- both of them were B to B- reads for me.

Spangler introduced us to a world based on an Atlantis that existed millions of years ago and was destroyed by evil Atlantians. The souls of the good Atlantians, or warriors are reincarnating into "Sentinels" and it takes place in contemporary times. The souls of the evil Atlantians or Belians, those who destroyed Atlantis, are also reincarnating and committing terrible crimes. The "Sanctioned" supervise Sentinels and are more powerful, older and not altogether human. Over them, are the "Highly Sanctioned" -- spirits or lights who don't reincarnate, at least not so far. Sentinels track down and capture the souls of the Belians who are actively committing crimes. Once they have the evil/corrupted soul, it's dispatched to Saturn where it is restricted to do penance until purified.

Of course there's a catch, Sentinels cannot sense Belians unless they find a "Conductor." Usually a Conductor is from the opposite sex, and he/she can help the Sentinel find the Belians best by having a "sexual conduction"-- although not necessary, it's the best way. The reason for this? Sentinels are spiritual beings who can only see psychically through the "upper chakras." Belians are earth bound and use the "lower chakras." Conductors allow Sentinels to use those "lower chakras" and that is how they have visions to pin point the Belians. This is where lots of the fun can be found in these books, especially if you like the erotic mixed with the paranormal.

Touched by Light focuses on Julia Reynolds and Adam Masters.We met Julia in Touched by Fire and we know some of her history. We know she was raped twelve years ago and as a result, and by choice, she has become a bitter, lonely woman. Her main focus are her career as a professor at the local University and making sure her sister Marla, who is also a Conductor, is safe and happy. She wants nothing to do with her psychic abilities, Sentinels or visions -- especially if Adam Masters is involved.

In the last book Adam, a Sanctioned, figured out that he and Julia are perfectly matched. Something that is unheard of as the Sanctioned are celibate and don't have mates or perform conductions -- that is something left to the Sentinels. Now, however, Adam needs Julia. One of his Sentinels is missing in San Antonio and there have been violent Belian activities in the area. He suspects that Matt, who lost his wife recently to a Belian attack, has fallen to darkness. The danger is unimaginable and unprecedented, and only someone very powerful can take down a Belian who is siphoning off the powers of a Sentinel.

Talking Julia into helping won't be an easy task for Adam. She just found out her rapist will be released from prison within a few days and memories of the horrible event drive her to loose control. Control has been Julia's long-term companion and loosing it does not a pretty sight make -- especially after too many drinks and a confrontation with Adam. After more than a few tiring confrontations and manipulations by Adam, Julia finally agrees to help and off they go.

I'm afraid I lost patience with Julia early in the book. I understood that because she was raped, she needed to resolve more than a few personal issues. However, in my opinion, Julia had a huge case of the nasties. One minute she was gloaming Adam in her mind and the next minute she was hitting him with her cane -- she limps due to the attack by the rapist. Her back and forth, yes/no, I want him/I hate him, went on and on throughout the whole book (almost to the end) to the point where it just frustrated me. She was supposed to be a strong heroine, yet she allowed herself to be manipulated into almost everything.

Adam manipulated Julia into helping him, he even manipulated her into an engagement-- not because she didn't want to help him or because she didn't have the hots for Adam, but because she would not admit that she wanted both. Julia acted as if she resented Adam's manipulations, yet she would not make the necessary decisions to stop them. She accepted them grudgingly and waited for the last minute when there were seemingly no other alternatives left open to her. One of the most annoying heroines I've encountered in a book in recent times--even with her terrible history, I couldn't make myself sympathize with her.

As a Sanctioned, Adam is super powerful. His responsibilities encompass all the Sentinels and Conductors in Texas. He is like a GPS unit who can feel every one of these people who are under his care. A super alpha, Adam is supposed to be cold, brilliant, ruthless and manipulative. He really wasn't all that overly alpha or cold or ruthless, although he was plenty manipulative -- he at least showed warmth and I liked him for that. He attempted to show Julia some tenderness. I don't think it was his fault that she was unprepared to accept it. Although, the whole idea of Adam being celibate all that time sounded like a really great set up for the book, it doesn't seem to have panned out. Their sexual encounters were okay, but personally I didn't find them all that erotic when compared to the other books.

Spangler's world also suffered in this book in my opinion. During the Touched by Fire, Julia was supposed to have these super-conductor powers and used them effectively. In this book she was less than effective, more like a left zero in that respect. Adam was also less than effective -- his powers just didn't hold or live up to expectations.

As a Sanctioned, Adam is supposed to "feel" and "know" where every single one of his Sentinels is at every single moment-- yet when at different times, Matt surfaced from being possessed by the Belian (some intervals longer than others), Adam attempted to contact him by cell phone. Cell phone? What happened to his internal GPS system? He could tell where Julia was having lunch, but could not pin point Matt when he resurfaced for longer periods of time? Sorry, that just didn't make sense to me.

Another thing that did not make sense? The Sanctioned are supposed to be celibate and not/never paired with a Conductor. Throughout Touched by Light, we are told over and over again how rare this pairing between Adam and Julia is in their world. Yet, the reasoning behind it is never explained. There are no consequences for Adam either... I mean, I kept expecting for something to happen to Adam because of this pairing, or for there to be some sort of meaning behind it-- but nope, nothing.

There are a couple of secondary characters in this book that were well developed and worth a mention. I'm concentrating on Miriam, Julia's student. She turns out to be a psychic and a legitimate Gypsy. For me, Miriam was one of the most interesting characters in this book. Not only because her background and her abilities are totally different from those exhibited so far by the women in these stories, but she was a breath of fresh air compared to Julia. Her psychic abilities were strong and I found myself wanting to learn more about her. I loved her personality and her relationship with her father. Her background is a bit of a mystery and it just made me want to know more. This is her second appearance in the series and her development in this book was excellent.

As you can see, Touched by Light is definitely not my favorite book in this series. This was a tough review for me, especially since the book is by a favorite writer. I give this one a C-

You can visit the author here. You can read an excerpt for Touched by Light here.

Originally posted at Musings of a Bibliophile June 23, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

Review: The Sea of Monsters (Percy and the Olympians, Book 2) by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson's seventh-grade year has been surprisingly quiet. Not a single monster has set foot on his New York prep-school campus. But when an innocent game of dodgeball among Percy and his classmates turns into a death match against an ugly gang of cannibal giants, things get... well, ugly. And the unexpected arrival of his friend Annabeth brings more bad news: the magical borders that protect Camp Half-Blood have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and unless a cure is found, the only safe haven for demigods will be destroyed.

In this fresh, funny, and wildly popular follow-up to TheLightning Thief. Percy and his friends must journey into the Sea of Monsters to save their camp. But first, Percy will discover a stunning new secret his family-one that makes him question whether being claimed as Poseidon's son is an honor or simply a cruel joke.
The Sea of Monsters is the second installment in this five book Young Adult adventure series. After reading the first book in the series, The Lightning Thief, I couldn't wait to find out what happened to Percy and his friends.

As you can see from the above description, the book picks up at the end of the school year when Percy and his friends are due to return to Camp Half-Blood for the summer where they need to continue with training. However, by the time Percy, Annabeth and their new friend Tyson make it there, they realize that the place is no longer the same. It's being besieged by evil, as the magic borders are not holding. Thalia, Zeus' dead daughter's pine tree has been poisoned and this poison is seeping into everything.

In the meantime, Percy is dealing with more than a few friend troubles. He is having horrible dreams about his friend Grover who at the end of the last book went on a quest seeking the god Pan. In his dreams, Percy sees him running from a monster, terrified and in danger. He knows he must go save Grover... but even Annabeth doesn't believe him. Percy also discovers a truth about his new friend Tyson that makes him feel angry, uncomfortable and guilty. These conflicted emotions and reactions put him at odds with himself and with his friend Annabeth and they argue constantly over Tyson. The camp is no longer the heaven he had been looking forward to all year.

If you are familiar with the myth of Jason and the Argonauts, you know where we are headed. Percy must go with Annabeth and Tyson through the Sea of Monsters to save his friend Grover and Camp Half-Blood. His quest is full of danger and all kinds of new monsters we would encounter in Greek mythology are introduced -- Cyclops, sirens, beautiful sea horses and more. At times, it's easy to recognize them immediately and other times it takes a little while to figure out who is who. It's a tough journey for Percy and his friends. They're not always sure who is evil and who is redeemable -- but the action is non-stop.

The overall core of the series continues and, of course, it's the reason for all these events. Western civilization must be saved and Olympus with it. The real enemy is well known by now--Kronos, father of the gods and king of the Titans, the most evil of them all is behind these events. In this second installment his evil plans begin to take shape. As a character, at this point, Kronos is a shadowy figure -- we meet him sparingly through dreams -- however, we do meet his evil underlings and through them, Annabeth and Chiron we learn his history of violence and cruelty.

As a hero, Percy is slowly learning the weight and seriousness of his responsibilities. His mentor and teacher Chiron, the centaur, tries to explain it to him:
"Humans don't exist on the same level as the immortals. They can't even be hurt by our weapons. But you, Percy--you are part god, part human. You live in both worlds. You can be harmed by both, and you can affect both. That's what makes heroes so special. You carry the hopes of humanity into the realm of the eternal. Monsters never die. They are reborn from the chaos and barbarism that is always bubbling underneath civilization, the very stuff that makes Kronos stronger. They must be defeated again and again, kept at bay. Heroes embody that struggle. You fight the battles humanity must win, every generation, in order to stay human..."
Percy is beginning to realize he might be the "key" to many of the events happening around him and he is just not sure he'll survive. Our friend Percy and his friends are brave and true but will they continue to make the right decisions? Heroes have free will and the gods cannot interfere. Riordan leaves this installment with a twist at the end that will make it even tougher for Percy and the gods to defend themselves.

As a sequel, The Sea of Monsters did not disappoint me, it is just as exciting as the first book. The wonderful world Riordan created continues to be grow and manages to seem both simple and complex. As with the whole world of Greek mythology, there is always a dual meaning or a lesson to be learned in Percy's world. In his world, the anger of a child feeling ignored by a parent takes a dangerous twist and being ashamed of a relative for his inadequacies turns into a painful lesson.

Choosing my favorite Chapter titles from this book was tough, but I finally settled for "We Hail the Taxi of Eternal Torment" and "I Have the Worst Family Reunion Ever." Through the whole adventure, excitement, the dangers and funny moments, what really wins the day on this one are loyalty, friendship and compassion.

I'm going on to read the 3rd book in the series, The Titan's Curse. I give this second installment another Solid B.

You can visit Rick Riordan and find out more about this series here.

Originally posted at Musings of a Bibliophile June 22, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Lightning Thief (Percy and the Olympians,Book 1) by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school...again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus' master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus' stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.
The Percy Jackson and the Olympians Young Adult series attracted my attention for a few reasons, first it's based on mythology and second it was written by Rick Riordan, writer of the popular Tres Navarre mysteries for adults. This is a five book series and with the last book released last month, it is now complete.

Percy has been tagged as a troubled 12-year-old boy who has been kicked out of every single school he ever attended. He has been diagnosed as suffering from both dyslexia and ADHD and the best he can do in the academic field is a C -- from there his grades go down hill. Percy also has behavioral problems. He seems to get in trouble without even trying and the boy doesn't even know why or how some things happen to him. Yet, even though he seemingly has so much against him, our Percy is a lonely little boy who loves his mother above all things and who will do just about anything for her and for his friends. Percy turns out to be a true hero.

The Lightning Thief begins when young Percy and his classmates from the Yancy Academy go on a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The first Chapter is titled "How I Accidentally Vaporized My Pre-Algebra Teacher." That title should give you an idea of the events. He goes from viewing a Greek tomb and answering questions from his Latin teacher to being confronted by his Pre-Algebra teacher, Mrs. Dodds, who turns into something horrifying -- with help from a pen and a friend, Percy survives a dangerous attack and becomes more confused than ever.

This one incident is just the beginning and it sets up a chain of events that leads Percy to find out the truth about himself, his mother, father and a whole other world. Riordan takes us along into an adventure full of gods and monsters, both human and mythological.

In Percy's world Olympus is hidden in Manhattan and the only place where he may be safe is at a summer camp hidden in Long Island. How does Riordan explain the existence of Greek gods or the fact they reside in New York of all places? Here's a great passage I think sets up the whole series:

"Come now, Percy. What you call 'Western civilization.' Do you think it's just an abstract concept? No, it's a living force. A collective consciousness that has burned bright for thousands of years. The gods are part of it. You might even say they are the source of it, or at least, they are tied so tightly to it that they couldn't possibly fade, not unless all of Western civilization were obliterated. The fire started in Greece. Then, as you well know - or as I hope you know, since you passed my course - the heart of the fire moved to Rome, and so did the gods. Oh, different names, perhaps - Jupiter for Zeus, Venus for Aphrodite, and so on - but the same forces the same gods. .... Olympus is where the great power of the West is. And we are here."
The Lightning Thief sets up the fight for Western civilization -- if it's lost, then all is lost. That seems to be the core of the whole series. In this book however, the focus stays on Percy's self-discovery. He finds out that his father is one of the gods, making him a half-blood or a hero. Half-blood Hill, the summer camp where Percy must go for training, is a place where the children of gods and humans are trained to fight for Olympus.

Percy confronts sad, tragic situations and has to make some tough decisions while undertaking a quest that can stop or precipitate a war between the gods. He decides to take his new friends Grover and Annabeth on his quest -- one will provide protection and the other wisdom--in the process he'll find the real meaning of friendship and loyalty.

The characters they meet along the way are varied. Some of them are fun and horrifying depending on where and when they encounter them. The gods are not exactly your nicest or friendliest of beings and Riordan mixes mythology with contemporary language, mores and culture beautifully. While on his adventure, Percy will meet satyrs, centaurs, a Menotaur, gods, the three Fates and more -- he'll also fight monsters and gods while trying to survive and solve a mystery.

A terrific start to this series, I couldn't help but make comparisons to the Harry Potter books. The only thing I could really find were the three friends, the 12-year-old boy and the fact that Percy has powers inherited from his father. The writing, setting and plot are all different and I was glad of it.

Riordan builds a world with Greek mythology as the core but full of adventure, rich characters, monsters and action. This is a wonderful way to expose young adults to Greek mythology while they have a great time following Percy and his friends on their quest to save it all -- with Chapter titles such as "I Become Supreme Lord of the Bathroom" and "I Battle My Jerk Relative," you know this is a fun read. I must admit that I fell in love with Percy--he has the makings of a great hero full of wit, attitude, insecurities, strength and insight.

This book is recommended for 6th to 9th graders, but I really feel maybe 8th to 12th graders would enjoy it more -- depending on maturity. I'm looking forward to reading The Sea of Monsters, Book 2

You can find the first 3 books for this series here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Reviews at Musings

My Reads
Today you can find my Weekly Reads post at Musings. It was a week with mixed results for me on the reading front. Some great finds, some disappointments -- but still reading, which is a good thing, right?

This Week's Reviews

Also at Musings you'll find my reviews for this week -- they were done as I read the books and were not scheduled.

You will find Silent Blade by Ilona Andrews, a Sci-fi Futuristic Romance short story, and Just One of the Guys by Kristan Higgins, a Contemporary Romance. Two very different stories and reactions from me. See you there!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Review: Just One of the Guys by Kristan Higgins

Being one of the guys isn't all it's cracked up to be...

So when journalist Chastity O'Neill returns to her hometown she decides it's time to start working on some of those feminine wiles. Two tiny problems: #1 - she's five-foot-eleven of solid girl power, and #2 - she's cursed with four alpha male older brothers.

While doing a story on local heroes, she meets a hunky doctor and things start to look up. Now there's only one problem: Trevor Meade, her first love and the one man she's never quite gotten over - although he seems to have gotten over her just fine.

Yet the more time she spends with Dr. Perfect, the better Trevor looks. But even with the in-your-face competition, the irresistible Trevor just can't seem to see Chastity as anything more than just one of the guys...
This week I decided to start by reading a contemporary romance that sounded right up my alley and I thought, why not? I'll start with something fun and easy. Just One of the Guys by Kristan Higgins was supposed to be a book with two of my favorite tropes: friends to lovers and a secret crush. Well, it did have both those tropes, but there were other factors involved.

This story is told in first person point of view from Chastity O'Neill's perspective. She's a journalist who recently moved back home where her whole family lives-- her parents, four brothers, their wives and children. Her father, brothers and her "forever" love interest, Trevor, are all firemen or in the life-saving business. Chastity is attractive, but some consider her too tall and too athletic looking. She's insecure about her looks and looking for a permanent relationship and wants to get over the crush she's had on Trevor since the third grade.

Chastity's insecurities and her search for that permanent relationship set up the book and some truly hilarious situations. She has great wit and her snappy remarks are a hoot! The relationship between Chastity and her brothers are beautifully developed and you can really feel the warmth between them. The brotherly/sisterly love and banter is great. The parents are going through a divorce and that part of the story is quite heartbreaking -- at least it was for me.

One of my problems with this book was Trevor, the hero. He was likable as a guy, thoughtful and more than a bit insecure. But as a hero, I'm not sure weather he was likable or not... he was a kind of shadowy figure in the book seen through Chastity's eyes and for most of it, it seemed as if he cared for her as a sister or a friend. I never felt the chemistry between them.

I know this story is in first person point of view and we're seeing it from her perspective, but usually, somehow as readers, we get the hint -- even when the heroine doesn't -- that the hero wants her. As a result, because the first person point of view wasn't well defined, there seems to be a disconnect in this story. The hero not only felt shadowy to me, but at times he felt more like a secondary character.

My other problem? There's a triangle for a while when Chastity finds someone she commits to, Ryan the surgeon, and she makes some decisions that bothered me. Now, Ryan was pretty well developed and I thought he took Trevor's place in the book -- not in the romance but in development. I thought this relationship really showcased Chastity's desperation. I'll admit that it engendered some funny moments as well as truly bad judgment on her part, but again... where was Trevor?

Things worked out well in the end for Chastity. I just wish we had more scenes like the last one in the book when Trevor and Chastity actually connected. The excellent humor and the great family relationship kept me reading this book to the end. I give this one a C

Visit author here. Read excerpt here.

Originally posted at Musings of a Bibliophile on June 13, 2009

...on Books, Disappointments and Decisions

So, what do you do when you've been waiting for a book to release for a whole year and then when it finally arrives, it's a disappointment? What do you do when you read two of those the same week? It happened to me this last week. Both highly anticipated books in the Paranormal Romance genre--both quite disappointing to me personally. 

I try not to read books within the same genre together but don't always succeed. This time, I read other genres in between. It didn't help... I was not comparing the two--there was no comparison, really. But, both had disappointing heroines and plot holes I could not ignore--at least that was my conclusion. Now, my question is: do I continue reading these two series? 

One series is so inconsistent for me, I never know from one book to the next weather I'll like, love or hate the book. This was the sixth book in the series, so it's pretty advanced already. Hmm.... time to let it go? 

In the other series, this is the first disappointment. I enjoyed the first two books in the series, but didn't love them, just liked them. This is a favorite author but not a favorite series.

I find it easy to let go of a series if I have two disappointments in a row but the type of inconsistency I'm encountering with the first series, and the "okay but not great" quality in the second are making it tough for me to make a decision.

So many books, so little time... do I continue with these books that are so-so reads? Or do I move on to something new? Decisions, decisions.