Monthly Archives: May 2017

Review of Concourse (Five Boroughs #5), by Santino Hassell

I received a copy of Santino Hassell‘s Concourse from Netgelley.

Description from Goodreads:
Ashton Townsend is the most famous celebutante of Manhattan’s glitterati. The black sheep of his wealthy family, he’s known for his club appearances, Instagram account, and sex tape. Most people can’t imagine him wanting for anything, but Ashton yearns for friendship, respect, and the love of his best friend—amateur boxer Valdrin Leka. 

Val’s relationship with Ashton is complicated. As the son of Ashton’s beloved nanny, Val has always bounced between resenting Ashton and regarding him as his best friend. And then there’s the sexual attraction between them that Val tries so hard to ignore.

When Ashton flees his glitzy lifestyle, he finds refuge with Val in the Bronx. Between Val’s training for an upcoming fight and dodging paparazzi, they succumb to their need for each other. But before they can figure out what it all means—and what they want to do about it—the world drags them out of their haven, revealing a secret Val has kept for years. Now, Ashton has to decide whether to once again envelop himself in his party-boy persona, or to trust in the only man who’s ever seen the real him.

I am sad. I have to say that this didn’t really work for me. I won’t go so far as to say I didn’t like it, I love Hassell’s writing too much for that. But this is my least favorite of his books so far. And considering my second least favorite is First and First, I have to think that I just don’t love his wealthy dramas as much as his working class boys.

I very much liked seeing a demisexual as a lead character, and I thought it was represented well (as far as I can tell). I liked that Val was from an Albanian culture and that Ashton played into his own androgyny, was open about his love of sex and fetish, and he spoke his mind.

As always the writing is good. But I felt like I’d been dropped into the middle of Ashton and Val’s relationship. What’s more, because Val was already trying to put distance between the two of them when the book started, and was constantly frustrated, if not angry for much of the book, I felt very much like he didn’t even like Ashton, despite everything else. I just never felt their chemistry outside of sex, because so much of it was supposed to be in the past. The sex was hot though.

Lastly, the whole plot line of two people loving each-other, but refusing to be together for whatever reason has never been one that works for me. This is a personal preference kind of thing. So, all in all, I just think this wasn’t a book that was ever going to light me up. I’m glad to have read it, because I want to read all the Hassell-books, but it wasn’t a big winner for me. Not a flop either, mind you. Just not one for the favorites list.

Review of Crying For The Moon, by Sarah Madison

I borrowed a copy of Crying for the Moon, by Sarah Madison from Hoopla, through my local library.

Description from Goodreads:
Vampire Alexei Novik may have the teeth and the coffin, but he’s given up the lifestyle for an old fixer-upper in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Weary of his past, Alex plans to keep to himself, but it seems his sexy, new neighbor, Tate, can’t take the hint—a good thing, since it turns out he’s handy for all kinds of things around the house. Tate even gets along with Alex’s werewolf friends, though one of them pointedly reminds Alex that their friendship is a bad idea. 

If a platonic relationship is a bad idea, the growing attraction between Tate and Alex is a disaster waiting to happen. Loving Tate will draw him into Alex’s dangerous world, and Alex is torn between having the relationship he’s always craved and keeping Tate safe. Tate won’t take no for an answer, however, and seems to handle everything Alex can throw at him without blinking. Just when he thinks things might turn out all right after all, Alex’s past catches up with him—forcing him to make a terrible choice.

So that was, um, well, that was….not very good, in my opinion. Look the writing is mechanically fine, but the story is flat and dull. There is almost no conflict. Only one bit pops up predictably (because the reader sees the obvious foreshadowing) out of nowhere (because it’s not there and then it is for no real reason) and then is defeated in no time at all (because of course it is). There are large chunks dedicated to unimportant things and, unless I was just misunderstanding what was supposed to be happening, I would advise the author to actually see an uncut penis before suggesting the things she seems to think could easily be done with a foreskin and maybe a penis in general if she imagines someone could blithely stick their tongue down a urethra. I’m just sayin’.

I did like the characters and the representation of werewolf pack behavior and the interesting lore around the vampire’s coffin. I didn’t really approve of the Alexi’s solution at the end, but that’s neither here nor there. I think this is a case of just not a good book for me. I’m sure others might love it.

Bonus side note: I especially cringed when I hit this sentence: “Her sculptured cheekbones and rich, café au lait coloring gave her an exotic look that made her stand out among women in general, but among Nick’s friends, she was clearly the diamond in the rough.” The author managed to use a food reference to describe a black woman (who was of course from New Orleans), squeeze the dreaded ‘exotic’ word in there to fetishize her, and then topped it with a cliche, all in one sentence. I’m a bit iffy about the ‘stand out among women in general’ too. So, that whole sentence left me agape.

Review of The “Wonderful” Wizard of Futhermucking Oz, by Matt Youngmark

Through Goodreads, I won a copy of Matt Youngmark’The “Wonderful” Wizard of Futhermucking Oz.

Arabella Grimsbro is a 15-year-old girl with a mouth like a dock worker and an attitude to match. When she walks into Voyages Through Literature—a cheesy mall store promising virtual reality tours of public domain classics—the last thing she expects is to be whisked away to an actual, magical world.

To make things worse, this Oz is very different from the one she saw in a movie when she was little. Ferocious beasts with grizzly bear bodies and tiger heads? A town of creepy, porcelain dolls? The Tin Woodsman lying broken and battered at the bottom of a ditch? Arabella will need more than surliness and silver slippers to find the answers at the end of this rainbow—or even just survive the trip.

A quick diversion:
Before I get to the review, can I just show you the Editor’s Note, which pretty much gives me life?

I laughed so hard at that and it perfectly establishes the tone of the book. Anyhow, moving on to an actual review, the actual review, as it were.

First off, that cover is just awesome pretty. Half Peruvian, angry ‘Dorothy’ is fearsome and I love her.

Secondly, I appreciate the diversity in the few non-Oz characters available to the author. (The Oz characters are, you know, a scarecrow, a tin man, a lion, a dog, some witches, flying monkeys, munchkins, etc. So, you know, Youngmark was maybe a little tied down with them.)

Thirdly, this book is funny. Utterly ridiculous, of course, but purposefully so. It’s completely hammed up. I had a ball with it.

Having said all that, I am glad it isn’t any longer than it is. Because for all its humor, it is still the story of Dorothy in Oz, a completely known and predictable plot. It is at the end of the day a one trick pony and if it had been much longer the schtick wouldn’t have been enough to carry it and I’d have lost interest. As it is, it ended in time and I enjoyed it quite a lot.

What I’m drinking: Look I figured this was the sort of book that would pair well with alcohol. So, I’m drinking Seagrum’s gin and orange-mango juice. Yes, I do realize that is an odd mix, but it came down to what was available in the house and it was gin and tropical juice or that stuff on the right. Since I did actually want to remember reading the book, the Chinese fire water wasn’t really an option. As it is, you might notice almost every picture is a little off kilter. Sorry ’bout that.