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Ami's Hoard

To Read is To Live

SPOILER ALERT!

One Snowy Night (Jill Shalvis)

One Snowy Night - Jill Shalvis

3.5 stars

A sweet holiday novella -- I loved the tension between Rory and Max when I read Willa's book, The Trouble with Mistletoe, back in September, so I pre-ordered this one when I saw it being listed.

I knew that it being a novella length, it would be pretty rushed in romantic department. The fact that there was a history between them helped. Plus I thought the chemistry was believable. And there was a dog (can't forget to mention the dog)

I just wish they they skip the whole "I love you's" between them. I will be fine without it. They need to return to San Fransisco and make an attempt in a relationship first.

SPOILER ALERT!
Guardian Angel (The Jimmy McSwain Files) (Volume 4) - Adam Carpenter

3.5 stars

Jimmy McSwain is back, again handling two cases at one. He has been hired to protect socialite Serena Carson from an abusive ex, when later the abusive ex and Serena's boy toy for the moment are both found dead at her house. Meanwhile the other case hits very close to home, when Jimmy's cousin, also found dead with a bullet in his forehead ... a murder that might somehow related to the death of Jimmy's father fifteen years previously.

I didn't enjoy this as much as the previous one -- which at the moment was my favorite McSwain book. Here, I thought immy was very much distracted with his love life as well as his need to close his father's case ... the Forever Haunt. I know that the case probably what drives this series, but we're in book #4 already, this becomes HIGHLY repetitive. Especially since I read these four books within close time range. So I didn't think that Jimmy did a lot of investigation, the answer to the murder seemed to come out of the blue.

And I really thought that the doctor Jimmy was seeing in the beginning to be rather creepy. Seriously, he asked Jimmy to move in with him only after a couple of dates?!? I felt rather relieved when Jimmy decided to take step back ... and seemed to bring him back to the arms of Frank.

What I did love was the somber mood regarding the death of Jimmy's cousin. The previous cases weren't all too personal for Jimmy. This one is. Plus there seems to be a slight development regarding the Blue Death. So maybe the next book -- which seems to be entitled FOREVER HAUNT -- will finally answer everything.

The Wrong Side of Goodbye (Michael Connelly)

The Wrong Side of Goodbye - Michael Connelly
You’re a good detective and you’re going to miss it. Look at me, scratching and fighting to keep a badge on my belt at my age. It’s in the blood. You’ve got cop DNA.



Bosch is back and this is another SOLID Bosch. Working as private detective, Bosch takes a case where he needs to find an heir for a billionaire that may or may not existed. At the same time, since he also lands a job as reserve officer for the tiny San Fernando Police Department, Bosch works to find out a serial rapist that on the loose...

I loved BOTH cases; although I must say that the missing heir case worked me more emotionally. There were heartbreaking facts that Bosch discovered; plus it took his memory back to the time when he was a tunnel rat back during Vietnam war. I liked the serial rapist case as well, but it didn't move me as much as the missing heir case.

So I'm definitely happy that Bosch is fighting tooth and nail to keep working, despite his official retirement and the aftermath of his lawsuit towards the L.A.P.D...

When to Hold Them (G.B. Gordon)

When to Hold Them - G.B. Gordon

I immediately bought this book (yay for discount :p) after I finished Bluewater Blues because I fell in love with Gordon's writing. I loved the fact that these two books only related to Bluewater in terms of surroundings. I read the earlier books but I have never been a fan of romance about famous people. I prefer the guys and gals next door; which is probably why small town romance is one of my favorites.

Anyway, I loved this as well!! Loved it. Gosh, I think I can add G.B. Gordon books in the Bluewater Bay universe to my watch-list. I just loved his characters and their troubles. And Gordon's writing! For me Gordon's writing made me feel like being wrapped inside a warm blanket when I read it.

I thought Doran as adorable with his crush over Xavier, but I also loved him for fighting with his gambling addiction. I loved Xavier for immediately wanting to protect Doran but at the same time also fighting his internal struggle of controlling one in the bedroom. I even enjoyed their scenes in the bedroom, probably because I loved these characters that I wanted to devour every scenes they had together.

It probably didn't start as a 'balanced' relationship before, with Doran more like a wounded puppy that needed to be taken care of in the beginning. But I think they both are going to be just fine in the end.

Bottom line a very good hurt/comfort read for me :)

Murder Between the Pages (Josh Lanyon)

Murder Between the Pages - Josh Lanyon

2.5 stars

Sigh. I couldn't even raised enough enthusiasm to place this on my 3-stars category. Considering I just had streaks of enjoyable stories (four in a row!) that I loved, this was a bummer :(

And I love Josh Lanyon!! It never feels right giving her stories below 3-stars!

However, this one felt dry and lackluster. The first chapter actually reminded me so much of the Holmes & Moriarity book, my initial thought was, "wait, can an author copies her own previously released work?" In addition Felix and Leonard's voice of narration were SO similar, I couldn't separate the two. When I put down the novella for a while and then picked up again, I couldn't remember who was whom!

For me, it lacked the 'punch-to-my-gut-wreck-my-heart' emotion that I usually assign to Lanyon's stories. Heck, it didn't even have Lanyon's brand of humor that usually helps when the story isn't passionate enough. The chemistry between the two main characters was missing; up to the point where I thought the fact that Felix and Leonard ended up sleeping together later in the book as preposterous.

And last, I didn't really care enough for the mystery -- the first victim was a stranger to me as a reader (so he was murdered, big deal!) and the second one -- well, okay, I felt bad enough for the second victim but not enough to root for finding his murderer.

Overall, this was a forgettable, a let down read *sad face*

The Next One Will Kill You (Neil S. Plakcy)

The Next One Will Kill You: An Angus Green Novel (Angus Green Series) - Neil S. Plakcy

3.75 stars rounded up

Neil Plakcy's Mahu is one of mystery series with gay detective that I follow religiously. When I found out that Plakcy wrote what looked like to be the first of another series, I immediately requested the ARC over at Netgalley.

Well, I really enjoyed this.

First of all, The Next One Will Kill You definitely falls into mystery/procedural book. It features Angus Green, a young gay (and out) FBI rookie. So, for those looking for Angus developing a romantic relationship will be disappointed. Yes, there is a potential love interest -- for once, he is NOT part of the investigation *laugh* -- but even the sexy times are written off pages.

Personally, I couldn't be happier with that fact. I always consider myself a mystery/procedural girl at heart, and it's refreshing for me to have a solid mystery book with gay character that is not boggled down with romantic entanglement. I love romance but hey, I grew up with Agatha Christie, and romance novels came to me when I was in my late teens. Mystery will always have a special place in my heart.

Throughout the book Angus is involved with the investigation -- it starts with an informant who tells an FBI about a possibility of jewelry robbery but then he turns up dead. The case expands a bit, involving drug smuggling in addition to the heist plan and the murder of the informant. At times, Angus also deals with his brother who seems to be involved with a crime. On this part, I thought it became a little convoluted. Too many things going on, you know? I wouldn't mind if the cases were more focused.

Having said that, I thought that Angus is quite competent despite juggling a couple of cases at once. This is Angus first field investigation -- he uses to work behind the best, starting his career as an accountant -- and Angus shows that he can gather information, does research, and stumbles into clues with both luck and his own charm.

Being gay helps Angus approaching potential people with information, even befriending them without seeming snobbish, manipulative or overbearing. This is an advantage that other agents don't have. Angus also comes up with some great thinking when needed and he seems respectful towards his seniors.

I definitely like Angus as a protagonist. Angus feels young, eager, fun, friendly, and determined. He is a character that I can root for. Considering that he is still a rookie, I can also imagine the potential of Angus flourishing at his job at the Bureau. I will look forward to future books on this series...




The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

Sea Lover (J.K. Pendragon)

Sea Lover - J.K. Pendragon

3.75 stars rounded up

Intrigued with the blurb, then convinced by ~✡~Dαni(ela) ~✡~'s review ... and I thought this was just LOVELY. I fell in love with Pendragon's tone of writing. There is something lyrical to it; it was gorgeous and pulled me right in.

While I didn't fully get the significance of Ian being

a transgender

(show spoiler)

and what it brought to the story, I guess this could was meant to show Ian that S'mika accepted him as he was. Then again, S'mika is not exactly human, was it? He has different anatomy to start with (legs vs. tails) so maybe it doesn't matter to S'mika either way. So I am back to the whole reason of Ian's gender identity.

Anyway, I loved S'mika -- there is an innocence to him that charmed me. He is like a smart kid, embracing the life outside the ocean. I loved Ian too -- his loneliness spoke to me well. I am a sucker for characters that carry that kind of loneliness.

I wasn't a fan of the drama brought by Ian's best friend. Didn't see the reason why it needed to be included to the story. I prefer that those pages to be dedicated to Ian and S'mika instead.

Coffee Boy (Austin Chant)

Coffee Boy - Austin Chant

3.75 stars rounded up

I must say that at first, Kieran was way too prickly for me. It took a little time to get myself comfortable with his attitude, especially when he confronts Seth. I imagine I will probably take a step back if I ever encounter someone like Kieran in real life. Which was why the relationship progress from supervisor/intern to colleagues to something more between Seth and Kieran felt believable because they were not on good terms in the beginning.

Kieran is grumpy, Seth is uptight. Kieran thinks Seth is hot (and Kieran laments over the fact that he likes Seth) while Seth is painfully hiding his crush over their boss. Plus there is that 12 years-old age-gap between them. But they work things through and I loved how Seth is trying to make the work-space a safe space for Kieran.

The trans part is wonderfully written. Yes, it is a significant element to the romance. Considering that the novella is written solely from Kieran's perspective, I felt like I got more information about how trans feels and the challenge they are facing. At the same time, never for once I felt like I was being preached by the author. It never became overwhelming. It was just facts of this story.

The ending was the reason of my placing Coffee Boy to my 4* category. It was sweet and put a smile to my face :). This is one occasion when my impulsive purchase is a GREAT purchase ^^

Must Like Spinach (Con Riley)

Must Like Spinach - Con Riley
2br – Central Seattle Apt – Cheap, but must like spinach!


Full disclosure, I haven’t read any of Con Riley’s stories for the past four years. I wasn’t happy with her first debut series, and decided to leave it at book #2. Never really interested to pick up her latter ones. Until I saw the title for this. Must Like Spinach. An interesting catchy title for an MM romance or what? I was immediately intrigued and then requested the ARC.

I’m glad that I did.

This book starts with Jon being reprimanded for confronting his client by being sent-off from New York all the way to Seattle. Jon must prove himself to his boss that he is still worthy of his job. He needs to make an analysis on what is going wrong with a company called, Hallquist Holdings. At first, things look so perfectly clear for him, but Jon realizes that there are things going on below the surface the longer he stays.

In the meantime, Jon rents a place from a lovely old lady, Peggy, because he thinks that her other tenant, Tyler, is leeching off her. Plus Peggy has a beautiful garden, which reminds Jon of his mother and his childhood.

One joy from reading, in my perspective, is when the story surprises you, takes you to somewhere you don’t expect when you open that first page. This is what Must Like Spinach gave me. A wondrous journey where Jon (and in that sense, so did I) discovered that sometimes what you see is not all that you get; that people can still surprise you with good intention.

Because Jon then finds out who Tyler really is and why he tells Peggy that she should just sell her place. Jon also learns that the man he deems as the root of the problems at Hallquist Holdings has a lot more to offer, and that his boss might be hiding a reason that is not at all like Jon expects.

This book was just LOVELY for me – from Riley’s writing (sentences like this: Want unspools inside like a kite string, lifting his spirits steadily skyward before he’s even made it airside), to the romance (slow burn, low steam, but with beautiful connection), to the slow uncovering of what has been going on at Hallquist Holdings (I got choked up during the revelation). I thought the love declaration was grand, and the ending perfect.

My only nitpicky complaint would have to do with the plot about Tyler’s ex. I thought it wasn’t fully resolved. I guess I wanted to draw blood and for Danny to pay for what he did.

I guess I must bring back Con Riley to my author-to-watch list for next time :)



A Guest Review for The Blogger Girls



The ARC is provided by the author for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

Friendly Fire (Cari Z)

Friendly Fire - Cari Z.
3.75 stars rounded up

I think I have good record track with Cari Z. -- which was why I asked for the ARC from Riptide/Netgalley for this one. I deliberately didn't re-read the blurb before I started, so I was going in blind. Well, turned out that I really enjoyed it. Most especially because of the suspense/mystery element.

Cari Z. writing is good, I was entertained the whole way through, even if I was guessing where the story would go from the beginning. I think the moment that Lennox and Elliott met, then the threats towards Elliot was escalated, the mystery fan in me was rejoicing. Oh yes, the mystery ... sure, we knew the players and their identity might not be too surprising but I enjoyed how Cari Z. added the slight twist to it. If you like your mystery in romance, this should be in your consideration.

However, if you want to get more straightfoward romance ... I might be slightly tentative to fully recommend it. The thing is, while I thought Elliot and Lennox had the right amount of chemistry, but there was potential of some hurt/comfort elements that never fully materialized. Lennox was suffering from PTSD after the friendly fire that he experienced in Afghanistan. But he never really opened up to Elliot about it. We did have scenes of him talking to therapist, but never exactly with Elliott.

So the emotion that came from them was slightly lacking and I never really certain on how they reached to the point of that lovey-dovey epilogue. Did they ever touch the issue of Lennox's nightmares. Did Lennox finally share that part of his life to Elliot? Because to me that is also important ...

In any case, this was another solid book from Cari Z. for me. Heck, I even enjoyed the sex scenes!! They were not plenty and I thought they were pretty HAWT. Just right amount of sex scenes made me so very happy ^^





The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

Hotline (Quinn Anderson)

Hotline - Quinn Anderson

I was literally groaning out loud when this story fell into what I would like to describe as stupid and juvenile misunderstanding between the two young men. Zack said it himself ... “It’s like one of those bad teenage dramas where the whole plot could be fixed with two minutes’ worth of honest dialogue”, he said to his neighbor.

Up to that point, I thought Hotline was pretty good. New-to-me author, Quinn Anderson, offered a different take of an MC working in sex industry. Actually the words "phone sex operator" in the blurb were what drew me in to request the ARC from Riptide ... and I've enjoyed what Ms. Anderson wrote about Zack's job. It was pretty detailed -- and even if the whole role plays and phone sex didn't do anything to me, I thought the fact that these operators could whip out scenarios and acting on them on the spot was pretty awesome.

Since the book was solely told from Zack's point of view, as a character, I found him to be 'alive' on pages. I loved his personality, and I loved reading about his friends. Unfortunately, I didn't get the same impression about John. John as a character was still a bit mysterious to me. So yeah, he was a law student, and he was rich ... but that was it. To me he was flat and rather undeveloped. I felt that I got more connection with Zack's friends and neighbors compared to John.

Which was why I thought that latter conflict was stupid and it ruined my overall reading experience. I already wasn't impressed with John and the budding romance, so when faced with what John did as well as how they got to that conflict, I was ready to bang my head on the table (but I don't want to injure myself *lol*).

Oh, one more thing ... I thought that Anderson didn't follow up the problem that Zack had with his parents. His parents appeared once, they had painful dinner conversation, and they were just gone. I would love to get some kind of resolution for that particular matter.

The good thing though, I thought Anderson's writing style fit me :). This book was long, but I wasn't really bored. I'll keep eyes on her future titles. I heard that she would have a second "Murmur Inc." book; I'm going to check that one for sure.




The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

Bluewater Blues (G.B. Gordon)

Bluewater Blues (Bluewater Bay) (Volume 16) - G.B. Gordon

When you take a chance on a new-to-me author and it pays off; isn't that one of the most satisfying feelings ever?

I have never read any of G.B. Gordon's books before. I honestly didn't know what make me pick up this book in the first place. Most probably it was the blurb, which I kept seeing when I followed the blog tour. It mentions an autistic character, and that just intrigued me.

I loved the three characters... The adorable bumbling Jack Daley, his sister's keeper, who protects their secret of the past that drive them through Bluewater Bay in the first place. Mark Keao, the costume designer with autism who captures Jack's eyes. As well as Margaret, Jack's autistic younger sister, who doesn't really function as better as Mark, but still has a significant role of pushing Jack and Mark together. I thought they all shone with their own characteristics, complimented one another and made up for a very compelling story.

I loved Gordon's exploration towards Mark's and Margaret's autism ... though Mark has more spotlight than Margaret. It is understandable since he's Jack love interest and has his own chapters, while I only knew of Margaret from Jack and Mark's perspective. I thought Jack and Margaret's past were a bit dramatic but not truly over-the-top. It could happen; what with so many [disgusting people out there, trying to take advantage of a disabled person (hide spoiler)].

Jack and Mark's romance also developed well ... I liked the fact that Mark's autism brought something to the table and added a flavor to the relationship. I mean, Mark didn't like being touched, but both men found a way to work around it. Which shows that people who truly love each other can work together albeit their differences.

And last ... I LOVED Gordon's writing. There's a lyrical quality to it that just clicked with me right from the very first chapter. Gordon writes this book using two different point of views. Jack's chapters all using third person narrative. While Mark's is in first person narrative.

I admit that sometimes, I had trouble switching from Mark's chapters to Jack's. Probably because Mark's first person narrative made me feel like I was deeply rooted in his thoughts, so I felt being yanked out suddenly when the chapter switched to Jack's third person. Like there was a sudden distance between myself and the story. However, it didn't annoy me too much to reduce the solid 4-stars I am giving this story.

Now I really want to read Gordon's previous novel in this Bluewater Bay universe *sigh*.

A Christmas Hex (Jordan L. Hawk)

A Christmas Hex: Winter Wonderland Collection - Jordan L. Hawk

3.5 stars

I immediately bought A Christmas Hex when I received newsletter from Jordan L. Hawk. I loved this world of witches and their familiars, so I was happy when I knew she released a new one, albeit being a short story.

This time, the story moves away from the detectives over at Metropolitan Witch Police. Instead we have Roland, a wolf familiar who also a writer as well as an Irish-Chinese private detective, Augustus Cao, who happens to be Roland's witch.

The story is written solely from Roland's perspective. I thought being a wolf familiar, an animal that is not exactly a tame pet to begin with, Roland has more stories to tell. Roland is thrown out by his family, afraid of his animal form. He struggles to tell Cao about him being a wolf as well, fearing that Cao will reject him in fear. I didn't miss Cao's perspective at all....

The story was pretty quick -- it was short after all. But I didn't feel that Roland and Cao's attraction as instant. Maybe because Roland said that he had been visiting the restaurant where Cao worked undercover for a while now. So their beginning had been built for a while, albeit off pages.

Definitely a lovely addition to the Hexworld universe. Put a huge smile on my face when I finished :)

Every Heart a Doorway (Seanan McGuire)

Every Heart a Doorway - Seanan McGuire

3.5 stars

This book came to my attention after El over at Just Love Romance reviewed it back in July. El raved over this but what captured me the most was when she mentioned that the main character, Nancy, was an asexual. So a couple of days ago, I decided to give it a go

Well, I liked it; I didn't love it though. I guess it was a bit weird for me? Plus somehow I had a difficult time to feel emotionally invested to these characters ... except for Kade. I thought he was the most interesting one; his story heartbreaking, being thrown out from the world he stumbled upon because of the wrong gender. I probably also liked Jack, the mad scientist in this book.

The rest, including Nancy as the main character sounded a bit whiny to me. Their inability to move on, to keep moaning about wanting to go back kind of grated my nerves. This is probably I'm not very good with young adult characters in over all (*embarrassed*). Because at several points, I want to say to them, SNAP OUT OF IT!!

But I admit that once the dead girls with missing body parts started to appear, my interest was gone up. Even if I was able to guess the answer of the murder-mystery before it was revealed. The murder-mystery added action and thrill to the whole story. It also gave the chance for these kids to actually do something meaningful, not just moaning over the fact that were in the human world.

I also liked that it was pretty gruesome. In fact, I probably needed more bodies. Huh, I sound like a psychopath, do I?

I see that there's another story in this universe released next year? I might check it out because it seems pretty short as well. However, I'm not making it a top priority though....

What Everyone Deserves (Dan Ackerman)

What Everyone Deserves - Dan Ackerman

3.75 stars rounded up

"You deserve what everyone deserves. To be with someone who you care about, who cares about you, and neither of you makes each other do things you don’t want to do."



Well, this is definitely different than what I usually read. First and foremost, for me this falls into gay fiction (or gay historical fiction) rather than my usual MM romance read. The relationship between June and James Kelly was moving slow, we had no explicit sex-scenes, and the ending was more of a hopeful note, much like ending in ‘fiction’ rather than ending of ‘romance’. And yes, that is IMPORTANT element for me as a romance reader, okay? So I need to point that out.

Having said that, I really enjoyed this book. Mainly because I fell hard for Junius “June” Thompson, malak-ha satan, among the first fallen. June is a very sympathetic character. June is kindhearted, he is good with babies and children, he cares for his plants and pet cat … and as a fertility demon he has the deep need to care for things that produce life.

His loneliness, his yearning for love and companionship… all of this just spoke volumes for me. I cared for him deeply. I wanted June to be happy. I wanted to hug him, gave him the companionship he needed. Hey, I’m an asexual woman, June only wanted to be with men … I could be a good roommate for him, right? Cause we won’t have sex *lol*.

James Kelly, on the other hand, was more difficult for me to connect with. He was rather fucked up, in my opinion. Yes, I could somewhat grasp his internal emotional battle: James Kelly was a black man in the 50s, struggling with his sexuality, and he was turned into vampire and then had to live against what he wanted (his maker wanted James Kelly to kill people). But I felt that he kept hurting June with his rejection and his perception about how wrong and unnatural it was being with men.

Which was why I wasn’t really sure about the relationship; it wouldn’t be an easy one for sure. At least, both men are basically immortal so June has forever to gradually work on James Kelly’s personal issues about same sex relationships.

I liked Ackerman’s writing though – this is my first experience with him. I liked the Manhattan atmosphere that he created, alongside the paranormal creatures that roam the street. I liked that he wrote characters I could emotionally care for. If Dan Ackerman writes another LGBT fiction, I will give it a try for sure.


A Guest Review for The Blogger Girls



The ARC is provided by the publisher for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

SPOILER ALERT!

Dead Ground (Adam J. Wright)

Dead Ground (Harbinger P.I. Book 4) - Adam J Wright

It took me a few days to finish this one, but I still thought it was another good addition to the series. My inability to read it in one sitting have something to do with my mood of reading more romance-y read. Because the pace itself was pretty fast, and it was quite action-y.

Felicity's on-time screen is a little less here (she's in England), so I was actually VERY happy to see more Leon helping out Alec this time. They go to Canada to help Alec's old mentor, to deal with murders and end up having to protect Lady of the Forest from vampires. It's not that I don't like Felicity, I just don't want Alec to be involved in some sort of relationship with her just yet.

I thought there was a great twist in regards to Midnight Cabal, in terms of Alec's mother is actually a member?!?. And that ending, with Alec getting Excalibur from Lady of the Lake; that should give Alec a chance to fight Midnight Cabal, right?