Nanny Ogg's reviews and stuff

 

Sole Support

Sole Support - Kaje Harper

Mike and Kellen are two 40-ish guys who met on the internet and share a common love of books.
Mike is still a virgin (in every sense of the word), mostly due to some self-esteem issues. Kellen is a relationship virgin because the idea of depending on another human for comfort and support is frightening. The two meet up in real life, and quickly fall for each other (even though Kellen wasn't about to admit it to himself or anyone else). But the real relationship starts when Kellen has to move back to the house he grew up in to take care of his mother.

Sole Support was definitely hard for me to read, because about 3-4 years ago I was in almost the exact same situation as Kellen. Caregiver burnout is something I still feel the consequences of, even after all these years. I cried a lot while reading this book, but it was a cleansing kind of crying, I think, and I feel lighter now that I've finished it.

Kaje's stories to me always seem more real somehow. With other writers I'm always aware that what I'm reading is fiction, no matter how much I connect with the characters. But I wouldn't be surprised if one day I came to America and met a real Tony, or Mac, or Kellen, or Mike. It's what makes me appreciate and love her stories all the more.

Time Trials

— feeling what?!?
Time Trials - Jay D. Clark

I have so many problems with this story I don't know where to begin.

- The writing itself - Granny is omnipotent, and people use words and expressions not used in normal, everyday conversation (eg. "your sacred birthright" or "let's see if this will fit Nick's and yours needs and desires")
- The MCs are barely 18 and are behaving like they're much older
- The plot is not believable and has no clear explanation and none of the side character's motives are explained in a way that is satisfactory
- Some scenes were entirely inappropriate. It started out neither here nor there, but gradually became more and more obvious. Examples:
* Granny is guarding the MCs while they kiss. Then she proceeds to put her hands on their faces to break them up.
* Granny making comments about the MC's physique throughout the story.
* Granny, Nick's dad and the dad's boyfriend walk in on Nick and Luke making out naked in the middle of the basement. After they let Nick and Luke put their towels back on, they proceeded to all together eat ice cream, while Nick and Luke were licking said ice cream off of each others chests still in only their towels, and calling it flirting.

 

Granny and Nick’s two dads would just laugh at us, Mr. Vogel and Coach kissing one another every time either Nick or I licked ice cream off the other one. But when Nick spilled some down near the edge of my towel and it started to seep inside, Nick’s dad said, “That one’s out of bounds, boys. Use a napkin on yourself for that one, Luke.”


I'm not going to talk about the comments about fudge in the middle of a rim job.

For me personally, this story had absolutely no redeeming traits whatsoever, so I'm going to give it one star and never read this writer's stories again.

Looking For Group

— feeling amazing
Looking for Group - Alexis  Hall

I must say I'm really really glad Alexis Hall exists and writes.
Can that man do anything wrong? /fangirling

This book appealed to me in many ways.

First off, if it wasn't already obvious, Alexis Hall is one of my favorite writers. /fangirling

Also, RPG games and fantasy books are almost single-handedly responsible for the first real friends I made in high-school, met over the internetz (and we've been going at it for the last 10 years so I'm pretty sure I hit the jack-pot).
I haven't played WoW (or any MMOs), but I lived and breathed Baldur's Gate for most of my high school days (and I spent the last year playing the Enhanced Edition and a chunk of this year's spring playing the SoD expansion). So you know, I got some of the references (and when Edwin was mentioned I realized he and Bjorn are probably related in some way, and if there was an anthropomorphic personification of SoD I would name it Tinuviel :P ), and I didn't get a lot of the abbreviations and slang, but there's a glossary so I managed :D

What I loved about this book is basically everything. I loved the setting (obviously), I loved the MCs (I could relate to both Drew and Kit in some ways) and the ending was so utterly sweet (I still want more, but I also kinda liked where it was left). Not to mention the writing.
It's a book about finding somewhere you fit in and love being and not letting anyone tell you it's wrong. The fact something happens only in your imagination doesn't make it less real. If you are moved by an emotion, if it touches a part of you in any way, it becomes real at that moment, and if it makes you happy the perception/judgement of others shouldn't ever matter. That's what Drew was learning and what Kit was showing him.


"When you got right down to it, killing imaginary pigs with a bloke who lived on a different continent was no worse or sillier a way to spend your evenings than throwing a piece of plastic around with a bloke who lived down the corridor. The really silly thing was that he’d ever believed there was a difference. As long as you cared about what you were doing and who you were doing it with, then it didn’t matter if you were in a pub or your living room or on a virtual rock in an imaginary kingdom in a video game."

 

A bit on the morbid side - I have this thing I do when I really love a writer, that is I start planing on stretching his/her books to last me a lifetime. So, when I heard Terry Pratchett was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's? I basically stopped reading Discworld, because he's gonna stop writing soon because death and then I will have read all of his books and then what am I gonna do the rest of my life without anything new to read written by him? So I pace myself. I realized I started doing the same with Alexis Hall books, and that's why I haven't read this as soon as it got out, even though I had it on pre-order. And also why I stretched it over a few days rather than reading it in one sitting. My point being, Mr. Hall, please please please live long and prosper.

A Good Vintage

A Good Vintage - Ashlyn Kane

No, this was the part where Mal broke Luke down into tiny component pieces and put him back together different. When this was over, Luke didn’t know who he’d be. Just that he’d be Mal’s, maybe forever. And even though the thought terrified him, he couldn’t stop it. Didn’t want to.

 

I absolutely loved American Love Songs by this author, but then I read True North and I didn't like it and was kind of disappointed. Then came A Good Vintage and I didn't know what to expect and I was kind of dreading more disappointment. But I needn't have worried because this book hit the spot!

When Luke was 19, he left home and started working in a vineyard in Napa in order to earn enough money for his first year's college tuition. There he met Mal (then 28 years old), whose wife has recently died from cancer. There was chemistry between them and over several weeks they grew closer, but nothing ever happened because Luke picked up and left before it could.

Fast-forward eight years. Luke is a man who relationship-vise made one bad decision after another. He claims he's a poor judge of character, but I got the impression it was more like self-sabotage. His father was abusive, especially toward Luke, seemingly for no reason, and no matter how much Luke resented and even hated his father, he couldn't help feeling as if every beating and abusive word were somehow deserved, so naturally he doesn't deserve a boyfriend who's not a deadbeat like his father in one way or another.

When he catches his live-in boyfriend whoring out in their bed for money he needs to cover his gambling debts, Luke packs his bags and goes to his older brother, Val. Val sends him to a vineyard/b&b to relax, but 'forgets' to mention it's the same vineyard Luke worked at the summer he was 19, with it's name changed. There, Luke meets Mal again. The chemistry is still there and the book follows them learning to be in a relationship - Luke in the first relationship with a man he actually trusts, Mal in the first relationship since his wife died. They are learning to trust each other and to communicate, and along the way you fall in love with them too.

What bothered me about this book is how many of the plot points remained unresolved -

How did Jo's tests go? What about Gabriela? What about Luke's real father?

(show spoiler)

These are mostly minor events (or treated as such), but it's the stuff I wanted to know, because I loved the side-characters too. Also, the book ends with a HFN ending and I would really love to know weather the HFN turns into a HEA at some point.

A Cowboy's Home

A Cowboy's Home - R.J. Scott

Overall, my feelings about this book is that it was kind of... pointless.

Justin reappears on Crooked Tree ranch after 12 years of everyone thinking he was dead. He thought he was about to die and he wanted to do it somewhere he considered home. He didn't die, mostly because Sam found him and got help and basically nursed him back to health.
In the meanwhile, most of the rest of the ranch found out he's alive, including his best friends, Gabe and Adam, his brother Ethan and his father Marcus. Naturally they all wanted to know what the hell Justin was up to while everybody believed him dead, but he wouldn't tell them because he didn't want to make them a target of an assassin he's expecting to come and kill him at any second because of the things he knows. So he repeatedly brushes their questions off and is waiting to get strong enough so he could run away.

This all happens in the first 70% of the book. I was amazed at the number of ways the writer vaguely explained something without actually telling us anything we didn't already know. Justin didn't only keep in the dark every character in the book , he kept the readers in the dark too. Soon enough I got extremely bored and just wanted for the book to finally end. The last 30% of the book was more focused on Justin's and Sam's relationship, but at that point I stopped caring at all.

The reason I'm giving this book 2 stars instead of one is that part of my frustration probably comes from not reading the first two books in the series - I just wasn't invested in the characters enough to care what happened to them, and maybe I would have been have I read the first two books.

The Painting of Porcupine City

The Painting of Porcupine City - Ben Monopoli

Because I've read The Cranberry Hush, I thought I knew what to expect from Ben Monopoli's books. I was right and I was so, so wrong.

The fact that I've been reading it for about two months is purely my fault. If you want to be amazed and surprised and kept on your toes, go read this book!

Please Remember Me - Jacob Z. Flores

— feeling what?!?
Please Remember Me - Jacob Z. Flores

What I liked:
- Some scenes were so beautiful and/or painful they made me cry.
- Hank! Big, sweet teddy bear of a man.
- It took a while for the story to get a grip on me, but when it did - oh boy! I couldn't put it down until I finished.  

What I didn't like:
- The writing was overly descriptive in places and that distracted me from the story. In fact, the first 20% of the book I was convinced I would dnf.
- Being introverted does not equal being shy. As a very introverted and very much not a shy person, I would know.
- They were constantly "clawing" and "chewing" on each other. While I'm used to that kind of expressions in shifter books, in contemporary romance it invokes some very unpleasant images.


"I had to slowly pull my lip from his jaws and take deep breaths to calm down."


"Whenever Hank rimmed my ass, he grunted and turned into an animal rooting around in his favorite spot."


- And then, there was this gem also:


"Touching him was like sticking my tongue in an electrical socket."


What, potentially deadly and you need a two-digit IQ to do it?

Spencer Cohen Book Two

The Spencer Cohen Series, Book Two - N.R. Walker

This was more of the same stuff we got in the first book - lots of sweet scenes, hot sex (eventually) and little in the way of relationship conflict (and I like it that way!)

I am really looking forward to the next book where it seems like Spencer will get some closure.

Relief Valve

— feeling grin
Relief Valve (The Plumber's Mate) - J.L. Merrow

I loved this story! It was funny and it kept me reading. Tom is hilarious and the twist at the end is going to keep things interesting in the next book.

SPOILER ALERT!

Dark Horse

Dark Horse - Kate Sherwood

Dan is a drifter who finally stopped drifting when he found love in the horse trainer Justin. They've been living and working together on the Kentucky horse ranch owned by Justin's parents for several years when Justin had an accident which left him in a coma. For a year after the accident Dan has existed in kind of a limbo. He was hoping Justin is going to wake up, but at the same time, deep down he knew the doctors are right and Justin is already gone.

Dan makes sure he doesn’t inhale when his face is near Justin. There’s no smell, but rather than making Justin seem clean, it just makes him seem… empty.

So when Justin's parents sign a Do Not Resuscitate form, Dan is at first furious at them but then  he agrees that it's for the best.

Jeff and his lover Evan and Evan's younger sister Tatiana came from California to Kentucky to buy a horse for Tat. A very specific horse she's fallen in love with while watching him perform. But the horse is too much for inexperienced Tat, and when Dan points that out in spite of Justin's parents wanting to make a sale, he gains a bit of Jeff's and Evan's respect and trust.
Evan wants to buy the whole horse operation including Dan's services as a horse trainer. Dan doesn't want to leave while Justin is still alive, but when Justin has a heart attack and dies, he decides to try and move on with his life. He has nothing really keeping him in Kentucky except maybe his friend Chris, so he follows Justin's horses to California.

Through the whole story Dan is working thorough his grief and guilt. He has some trust issues and he doesn't feel like he deserves anything good happening to him. And when something good does happen he's always on edge, waiting for the other shoe to drop. He feels guilty for starting to date again only a month after Justin's death (even though Justin's been in a coma for a year before that) and the waiter / musician Ryan helps him a great deal with his understanding and his non-judgemental, zen attitude.

Jeff and Evan have an open relationship. Before the move, Dan felt a connection with Jeff (and it was mutual), but he was pretty annoyed with Evan's come-ons. He eventually mellows towards Evan too, and when the two offered him a threesome (in more than a physical way) Dan is flabbergasted and more than a little scared. He feels like he belongs with Jeff and Evan, and even Tat, but he can't convince himself it will last. What scares him the most, I think, is the idea that Evan and Jeff will eventually get tired of him and leave him behind... and Dan can't deal with being left behind anymore.

“Maybe anything could happen, I guess. But, really… what are the chances? Seems a lot more likely that you’ll decide that it was a fun little experiment but it’s time to get back to real life. And then I’m left standing there, all… attached… to two guys who are moving on.”

The three of them get together in the last 4-5% of the book (and what a hot getting-together it is!), but mostly this book deals with Dan's grief and how he allowed himself to start living again.
Dan is not secure in his place in the relationship dynamics at first, but that's only to be expected when joining an already established couple.

Overall, I liked the book. The writing flowed and gripped me right from the start, and I felt for Dan and his inner drama wasn't too tiresome. I was hoping for a bit more of the three of them as a whole, but I guess I'll be seeing that in the sequel. I would really love if we could get a perspective other than Dan's though.

Reviews and stuff

I decided I'm finally gonna do something about this blog here.

 

Reviewing has always been a challenge for me. For one, there's the language barrier (not that I would write a review in Serbian either). But mostly I use that as an excuse.

The real reason is because I find it hard to organize my thoughts and then I start reading the next book and then I kinda forget.

 

That's also the reason that among the reviews I have written, there are more negative than positive ones. When a book pisses me off I want to rant now and when a book is good it takes time to ponder on things before writing anything down.

 

So now I'm participating in this challenge called the Scavenger Hunt, and one of the requirements is to review every book I read for that challenge, so I'm gonna try. Wish me luck!

By The River (Elementals #1)

By The River - Katey Hawthorne

The story was interesting and well written. The writing is different and engaging. Both Adam and Leith were quirky and cute. I liked it!

Us (Him #2)

Us (Him Book 2) - Sarina Bowen, Elle Kennedy

I didn't think I could love Wes and Jamie more - but guess what :D

In this book we follow Jamie's and Wes's struggles with keeping their relationship secret.

Jamie is  isolated and away from his family and friends and reluctant to let new people into his life because he would have to lie about a very important part of it. He is a naturally friendly and outgoing person, so this situation slowly makes him more and more lethargic. It was painful watching him but I was that much more glad when he managed to get out of that headspace.
Wes is used to being alone, but he worries about Jamie (sometimes a bit too much). He's afraid he's not enough for Jamie, that he's keeping Jamie from his family, that he's not family to Jamie. And Jamie is the only family he's got. I found it very sweet when he called Jamie's mom Mom, and the whole conversation with Reggie the driver brought me to tears.

And then there's Blake! The teammate who moved in the same building and who has no regard for personal space or silence. He was a very nice surprise and a welcome respite from the angst that were Jamie and Wes. At first he was a bit annoying but he grows on you :D I heard the next book will be about him and Jamie's sister Jess (chiweilers! :D )

In all, I thoroughly enjoyed this story and I can't wait for the next installment even if Wes & Jamie are not the main characters.

Happy World

Happy World - Kiernan Kelly

I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would.

While I see the story was meant to be fluffy and sweet and cinderella-ish (exactly what I was in the mood for), at times it came off as superficial and fake. The amusement-park-turned-high-school setting didn't help one bit. I couldn't feel the characters, they came off as juvenile in the worst ways. And the story itself was nothing special, and at times dragged a bit.

But for all that I did kinda enjoy it, so I'm giving it a round up instead of round down.

Dark Space

Dark Space - Lisa Henry

Brady is a guy who just can't get a break. Everything that happens to him (and it mostly happens to him, without his input) goes to s*it really fast. He hates the space, hates that he's been conscripted and can't help his father take care of his younger sister. The reason he won't get training that would eventually lead him to an officer position (even though he's very capable) is because that would mean he'd have to spend 5 more years (together with the compulsory 10) in space. He is young and lonely and afraid, but used to nobody giving a crap about a recruit, a kid from a refugee camp. The anger gives him energy to keep pushing on.

Cam is... I didn't quite get a hold on Cam. He's a good guy who's been through some serious nightmare-inducing stuff. But even after all that happened to him, he still feels love for space and stars and piloting. He came to an understanding of what happened to him and why, and so was at relative peace with it.

Their love was intense. It would fall under the category of insta-love, but when you're in each other's thoughts and memories and emotions and dreams, when you're not even sure where your emotion begins and his ends, I'd say insta-love is the only possible result (that is if the guy in your had is not a total a*shole).

It was not quite clear to me what happened at the end -

Why did Kai Ren let them go? Why was it part of the deal for Cam to go back with Kai Ren as some kind of sacrifice? What happened with the "peace treaty" considering Cam and Brady were released?

(show spoiler)

but I'm hoping those (and other) questions will be answered in the next installment.

I loved this book! The writing was excellent (the kind of writing where some parts were so beautiful they made me cry), the story and the characters captivating (I read it in a day, and I'm a very slow reader!) and I'm really looking forward to reading the next book.

Unjustified Claims

Unjustified Claims - Kaje Harper

I really really liked the MCs in this one. The story too of course :)
I connected with the geek in Ethan and I really liked how different Brandt's experience of being a wolf is from the rest of the wolves we got to know so far, he had a certain connection and a kind of peace with nature we haven't seen in the rest of them.
I also liked the new development! I'm especially curious how

the whole coming out to humans went

(show spoiler)

since that part was kind of skipped with more focus on Brandt and Ethan. But I wasn't expecting it at all. And I can't wait to read the next installment because of it!