Sunday, 31 October 2010

DIK Challenge Review, M/M Challenge Review - Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy

My DIK book for October is Tigers and Devils by Sean Kennedy. It's one of Jenre's picks and I enjoyed it very much. Set in the world of Australian Rules football, Tigers and Devils tells the story of how Simon Murray football fan and film festival organiser finds himself in a relationship with star forward Declan Tyler. It's not the most straightforward relationship, Simon is out whilst Declan is not. And trying to build a relationship whilst avoiding the speculation of the media is not the easiest thing to do. Will the increasing pressure make or break them?

First off don't worry if you know very little about Australian Rules Football - to be honest I'm not that interested in sport in general - but an extensive knowledge of the game isn't necessary to enjoy the book. And Sean Kennedy makes it so that doesn't matter anyway, he's able to sum up an entire family's feelings about the game on page 1. He lets you know everything you need to know right at the beginning and to be honest it's much more about individual character's feelings towards the game. I'm sure most of us are fanatical about something, so it's easy to understand the attitudes of the various characters.

The whole thing is told in first person from Simon's point of view, in chapter one we find out everything we need to know about him up to the point just before he meets Declan. I like his voice, he's snarky, sarcastic and self-depracating (three of my favourite s-words). He's not the most perfect hero you'll read, but again I like that, it makes him seem more real. He has a tendency to assume he knows what people mean and does behave like a brat on more than one occasion. (Something which Declan calls him out on).

We're also introduced to Simon's friends and family, especially the close relationship he has with his best friend Roger. And the more problematical realtionship he has with his mother and father. In some ways I think Simon is a little too hard on his parents, it's easy to see why he feels the way he does but I was also left thinking just give them a little bit of a break, they are trying. You see that although Simon is very intellectual, he is also judgmental, but I think (maybe assume) that this is a product of his experiences. When Declan says to him (paraphrasing) 'you have to learn to read around what your dad/mum mean'. It does make Simon think.
I thought that was a nice way of putting it and remembered how my mum had claimed my father worried about me. Maybe Declan was a lot wiser than I was.
I enjoyed the way the relationship developed between them. Declan doesn't let Simon get away with stuff.
"...I don't like looking like a dickhead in front of you."
"Really? Then you should stop being one."
The story also illustrates very well the pressure of being in a relationship which has to be hidden, and then dealing with the different pressures once that relationship has been revealed by the media.

I wish that all the m/m I read was this well written. The characters were engaging and people that I wanted to get to know. I cared about what happened to them.

This is a first novel so I don't want to be overly picky but I'm going to be honest, there were a couple of things I had issues with. There was a little bit of phrase repetition and in some ways I felt it could have ended about 80 pages before it did. I felt like we came to a conclusion and then started again, maybe this could have been solved by some rejigging of events? Maybe this was also because the last section started several weeks after the conclusion of the previous section.

Apart from those two points, if you like m/m and haven't read this one yet I do recommend you check it out. It will be getting a place on my keeper shelf and I will be looking forward to reading more books by Sean Kennedy in the future.

Winner of the...

Neat or Messy? giveaway is

Valerie

I have a copy of On the Edge waiting to be posted to you. Valerie posted the first comment and the number chosen at random.org was 1.

Apologies for not posting yesterday I got sucked into a game of Assassin's Creed (which like all games I play badly, though I'm great at running round in circles like a headless chicken).

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews

Magic Bleeds is the fourh book in the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. And I would suggest starting at the beginning of the series and reading the previous books before you check this one out (if you haven't done so already). Mainly because so much of what is here builds on what has happened before. And whilst you could probably work out what's happening from the backstory I really think you'd be missing out on so many layers and subtle little things.

Book 4 could be subtitled - Magic Bleeds - The Book Where the Shit Really Hits the Fan and Everything Changes. In some ways it's a bridging book because at the end of this one Kate's situation is totally different from what it was at page 1. But it's such a well written story as well, not always the case with a bridging book. Some major plot threads are tied up, whilst at the same time a whole new bag of worms is opened. (lol sorry for the mixed metaphors).

It starts off simply enough, Kate goes to investigate a fight at a bar and things rapidly spiral into chaos from there. Kate will be up against the biggest bad she's had to face yet and if that weren't enough her relationship with Curran has hit breaking point.

If you like urban fantasy and you're not reading this series, I urge you to give it a try. It's definitely in my top five favourites and Kate Daniel's is in my top five UF heroines. It's all to do with the character of Kate. At turns vulnerable, tough, sarcastic, best friend and worst enemy.

I think one of the things I like most about this book is that so many things are resolved. Often when you read series, you can end up feeling like things are being dragged out for the sake of it. But that is not the case here. Two major plot arcs are - resolved is perhaps the wrong word - dealt with, but both of them will have repercussions.

The dialogue as always is brilliantly written and incredibly quotable. Most especially the banter between Curran and Kate. Their courtship has to be read to be believed.
His face was peaceful. I've never seen him so relaxed. It was as if someone had lifted a huge weight off those muscled shoulders.
And dumped all of it on me.
I made a comment in my review of the first book in the series about Curran being a bit of a git. He blamed Kate for something that in fact he had done. And this - I'm never wrong - attitude of his is actually addressed in this book. I really liked that. I like it when authors can keep all of their metaphorical balls in the air and know exactly where they are. I like it when things are not forgotten.

Speaking of which p.126 Saiman's comment to Kate. I can't wait to find out what that means. It's almost like it's mentioned in passing. But it feels important and hopefully will be cropping up in a future book.

There is one more character introduced here - the attack poodle. Usually (as you know) I'm not a huge fan of animal companions in urban fantasy. But the poodle has a couple of things going for him - 1) he's not a ferret 2) he's not anthropomorphized but still has a character all of his own 3) he reminds me a little bit of my dog (the attack shih tzu).

Kate Daniel's fans probably already have this one on their book shelves. But for anyone who hasn't read the series and who likes urban fantasy with a kick ass heroine, I highly recommend starting with Magic Bites and not stopping until you've caught up with the rest of us.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Do You Like Neat or Messy?

Storylines that is.

I've been thinking about that this week after reading Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews and Fallen From Grace by Laura Leone.

Do you like everything tied up at the end of a story with a nice little bow on top or do you like a little bit of mystery left at the end. Something for you to think about after you've closed the book.

Personally, I like my stories to be a little messy - not too messy, I like to have an understanding of what's going on - but I don't need to have everything spelled out for me. I think it makes things a little more real, it also engages your brain with what you're reading.

In my review of the first in the Kate Daniels series, I made a comment about Curran being a bit of a wanker - he blames Kate for misidentifying the bad guy when in fact it was he who made the suggestion. So...a little bit messy. Did he have to be such a git? lol. But having just finished book 4 in the series - Magic Bleeds - I absolutely LOVE the fact that it acknowledges that Curran does make bad decisions but cannot take it back if he does and no one is in a position to contradict him either or say - "you're being a git". It helps make the characters feel so much more real.

Fallen From Grace is the first m/f in a long time that I've really enjoyed but I wish that something that happened at the end, hadn't happened - this is a really personal thing, so for most readers I doubt it would bother them, especially if they're reading a lot of m/f contemporary anyway. But it was like - here's your happy ending and now I'm going to put a bow on it. (One of the main reasons why I've come to prefer m/m over m/f).

This type of thing always makes me think of the Amazon review of one of my favourite urban fantasy's, which complained about the hero and heroine having sex. The fact that the hero couldn't wait to get his hands on the heroine, that they didn't make love, but rather went at it like two rabbits hopped up on viagra. But I like the fact that the sex was a little messy, that they couldn't wait 'til they had access to a bedroom.

So do you like your stories all wrapped up at the end, or do you like them to be a little messy? I have a copy of On the Edge by Lynn Erickson to give away to one posted to this thread. Winner to be chosen by random number at randomnumber.org on Saturday.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Back to Blogging...

...after having a little bit of a break.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Winner of the Prologues Yay or Nay Giveaway is...

...

Sarai

She posted the first comment and the number at random.org was 1. So I have a copy of the Cravings anthology waiting for you.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Prologues - Yay or Nay?

I started a book last week and my mum looked over my shoulder and the following conversation went something like :-

(Mum) "You're not reading the prologue, are you?"

(Me) "Yes."

(Mum) "I never read the prologue. Why are you reading the prologue?"

(Me) "Because it's part of the story." ??!?

Which got me to wondering - surely most readers read the prologue don't they?

Maybe it's because I read a lot of murder mystery and urban fantasy, and you generally find that if there's a prologue it's important and usually three-quarters of the way through the actual book there's a big reveal and suddenly everything that happened in the prologue makes sense.

I'm sure there have been cases where I haven't wanted to read a prologue, where I've been put off a story by a badly written / boring one.

I have a vague memory of books where the prologue seems to have been a very dry recounting of either a world's history or a character's genealogy. And I admit I probably skipped those. But in general, at least these days I read the prologue. (If anything I'm more likely to skip the epilogue, especially those that seem to consist of a single page at the end - they got married and had children.)

What about you? Do you read the prologue or skip it? I have a copy of the Cravings anthology to give away to one poster to this thread. Winner to be chosen on Sunday by random number at random.org.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Winner of the Banned Books Giveaway is...

Nicole

She posted the second comment and the number chosen at random.org was 2.

I have a copy of the Love at First Bite anthology waiting to be posted to you.

Friday, 1 October 2010

If it's Friday it must be Ferrets

funny pictures of cats with captions


I've decided that from now on I shall be employing a fictional ferret grading system (1-5) as follows:-

1 Ferret - the ferret in question is a perfectly normal ferret.

2 Ferrets - the ferret in question is normal but there's something slightly "off" (air quotes) about it. (If it's the first book in the series, the ferret grade may be rising in future books).

3 Ferrets - the ferret in question has some supernatural attributes but they are not annoying and contribute in a useful way to the story.

4 Ferrets - the ferret in question is obviously supernatural. And its talents are more annoying than useful (though it does have its cute moments). It doesn't save the day but without its contribution the hero/heroine would have hit a brick wall.

5 Ferrets - the ferret in question is actually a disguised prince/magician/genie, travelling under a curse/spell. Without him the heroine would never have solved the problem / won the war. It puts the ferret in ferret ex machina.