Sigrid H. (sigrid) - Reviews

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Alien Taste (Ukiah Oregon, Bk 1)
Alien Taste (Ukiah Oregon, Bk 1)
Author: Wen Spencer
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 82
Review Date: 9/6/2008
Helpful Score: 2


Someone recommended this book to me ages ago, and it's languished on my TBR pile because I could never get past the title. Even now, knowing what goes on in the book, I hate it. It really does the book no favors because the mystery of Ukiah's heritage which is supposed to carry the first two-thirds of the book becomes not a mystery at all. It becomes a waiting game for Ukiah to catch up to the reader, which lessened my connection to him during that time. I also got drastically slowed down by the florid writing and exposition dumps in the first few chapters. Seriously, I almost put it down. I'm glad I didn't. About a third of the way into the story, the writing smoothed out into something more readable for me, and the story itself started getting more engaging.

There are never really any surprises in this as most developments get telegraphed in advance, but the characters and the depth of feeling between them helps to compensate for that. I liked the relationship between Ukiah and his partner Max best; Max filled a much needed role in the young man's life. Though I liked the character of Agent Indigo Zheng, I didn't really believe the instant love that happened between her and Ukiah. Still, it was nice to see a strong woman who wasn't a bitch. I'll be picking up the second book in the series. In the end, it's worth it to hang around these characters more.


All I Did Was Ask : Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians, and Artists
Review Date: 2/2/2009
Helpful Score: 1


This is a fascinating collection of interview snippets of even more fascinating artists. Gross is upfront about the fact that some of these are combined interviews from different times (i.e. Dennis Hopper interviews from 1990 and 1996 merged into one section), so don't expect that you're going to get the same experience reading the book as you might listening to her program. This takes the most insightful or interesting sections of those interviews and condenses them into bite-sized portions. It's a great introduction to Gross' style of interviewing as well as the people she talks to.


An Arrow's Flight
An Arrow's Flight
Author: Mark Merlis
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 8/13/2008
Helpful Score: 4


I wasn't sure what to expect when I read this. Though a fan of both mythology and gay fiction, I didn't know how melding the two would work. I spent the first half of the book intrigued by the general concept, admiring the craft in utilizing classical methodology in storytelling - like the destruction of the fourth wall to have a chorus commentary running alongside the narrative - but not really connecting to the self-centered characters. But then, just over halfway through the story, something clicked. A single scene with Pyrrhus rocked me to the core, and I realized that the presentation of the first half hadn't distanced me from the story at all. It had slowly but surely maneuvered me into understanding this young man to the point of being as blindsided by an emotional revelation as he was. I absolutely devoured the last third of the story, desperate to get to the end.

It's not perfect. Several slightly meandering passages scattered throughout the book drag the story. Sometimes they're chorus commentary, others were Phoenix's longwinded stories. There were enough of them to slow me down in reading, and to almost skim when I'd hit another one.

In the end, though, it's a story that gets under your skin and stays there. I definitely recommend it.


Bad Attitude (Bureau of American Defense, Bk 2)
Bad Attitude (Bureau of American Defense, Bk 2)
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 331
Review Date: 10/7/2009
Helpful Score: 1


As long as you're willing to overlook the occasional editorial inconsistency and the farfetched nature of the plot, this is a fast-paced, entertaining read, with cliffhanger endings at the end of the chapters that make it very difficult to put down. Steele and Syd might not be very well-rounded, but they're consistent and fun to listen to, with a definite attraction that helps to make them engaging. I'm not normally a fan of Kenyon - I find her headhopping aggravating most of the time - but this was more than enough to get me to try the rest of the series, a first for me with this author.


The Becoming (Anna Strong Chronicles, Bk 1)
The Becoming (Anna Strong Chronicles, Bk 1)
Author: Jeanne C. Stein
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 252
Review Date: 3/16/2011
Helpful Score: 1


Not very original, and more than a little predictable. The 1st person, present tense helps make it a fast read, but wears thin halfway through the book. I found myself far more interested in the possibilities and minor characters than I was in Anna, though I'm going to try the second book to see if it improves. Or if characters I actually like get some page time.


Beg For Mercy (Mercy Hollings, Bk 1)
Beg For Mercy (Mercy Hollings, Bk 1)
Author: Toni Andrews
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 164
Review Date: 9/7/2008
Helpful Score: 2


I really tried, but I just could not get into the book. The heroine's psychic ability to "press" people into doing exactly as she says - her own Jedi Mind Trick - and her propensity to do it with little provocation and for not very good reasons at the opening of the book made it impossible for me to like her. I was so angry with her by the fifth chapter, that I just gave up.


Blood Dreams 1
Blood Dreams 1
Author: Mlyn Hurn
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.5/5 Stars.
 19
Review Date: 2/15/2009
Helpful Score: 5


Though it's not a slow read, the prose in this vampire erotic romance is immature and pedantic (like, "Iain was interrupted several times before he reached a man seated alone, in the far right corner of the auditorium. Iain crossed between the seat rows until he stood directly in front of the seated man. His eyes traveled over the dark-haired man."), making it a chore to slog through. The plot is okay, though stereotypical, but there is no way I can recommend this to anybody but people who like the author already.


Blue Moon (Night Creature, Bk 1)
Blue Moon (Night Creature, Bk 1)
Author: Lori Handeland
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 130
Review Date: 7/31/2008
Helpful Score: 3


Jessie McQuade is just a small town Wisconsin cop when things start going screwy. What seems like a random car accident pushes her into a world where werewolves roam the streets, gorgeous professors walk around naked, and German werewolf hunters prove the most sane minds of the bunch. It's up to Jessie to try and stay ahead of the pack, before the werewolves win and nobody's left to fight them off.

I actually read "My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding" before this, and got my first taste of the author there with her short story, "Charmed by the Moon." Because I enjoyed that one so much, I decided to check out the entire series, and I was thrilled to see the two characters from that in this first offering. Even better, the book turned out to be swiftly paced, with an incredibly likable heroine, a gorgeous romantic hero, and supporting characters that leap off the page. Jessie and Will both have their insecurities, and while the suspense was mildly spoiled for me because I read that later short story about them, there were still moments when I questioned just who was a good guy and who wasn't.

I'm also tremendously relieved because it doesn't fall into the whole mate trap that so many shapeshifter/werewolf romances do. That might change for later books, which I plan to start reading as soon as I can get them, but for this one at least, it made a welcome change.


A Body to Dye For  (Stan Kraychik, Bk 1)
A Body to Dye For (Stan Kraychik, Bk 1)
Author: Grant Michaels
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 9
Review Date: 4/26/2010


Fun and campy with a mystery that clips along at a fast, unpredictable pace. The story of a gay hairdresser with an obsession for finding out the truth was more than enough to entice me to continue on with the series.


Bones (Alex Delaware, Bk 23)
Bones (Alex Delaware, Bk 23)
Author: Jonathan Kellerman
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 113
Review Date: 12/23/2010
Helpful Score: 1


It's a definite improvement over previous books. Characters are more interesting, Alex isn't so morose, the crime itself a tad more intriguing. Sometimes, it feels like Kellerman is playing too much with side characters, like he wonders if they're worth getting their own stories, and while I felt that here, I didn't resent it as much as I have in the past. I buy the Delaware books because I adore Alex and especially Milo. I don't really have the need to explore other possible good guys, because they're usually just not as interesting. He finally seemed to tap into some that might be worth following, however, which for me is enough to give me hope that the books themselves are returning to the exciting reads I remember.

Not one of the best in the series, but stronger than the ones previous to it. I'm still invested, and if it continues like this, will go back to buying hardcover.


Caine's Reckoning (Hell's Eight, Bk 1)
Caine's Reckoning (Hell's Eight, Bk 1)
Author: Sarah McCarty
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 180
Review Date: 12/7/2012
Helpful Score: 1


I struggled to finish this one. As much as I love a good damaged hero, I have problems with stories that headhop (multiple povs within a scene without a break). It ruins the immersive experience for me, and this one was pretty rife with it, starting with the second chapter.


Review Date: 9/15/2008


This is the book I pull out when I'm feeling particularly down on my creative endeavors. It's not anything earth-shattering, and it's hardly going to change the world, but the vast majority of the stories in this - all very short and incredibly easy to read - are the kind of uplifting reminders we need that good things can happen to people. American Idol might be criticized for being commercial, or talentless, or any of a number of derogatory things, but the truth of the matter is, it makes a difference in a lot of people's lives. It's an ideal of what the American Dream always used to be, and in today's cynical world, it's very easy to forget that.

So I keep my copy tucked away in my nightstand, to pull out on those occasions when I need to be cheered up. Because I'm not ashamed to admit that it does just that.


A Dangerous Game
A Dangerous Game
Author: Julia Templeton
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 10
Review Date: 9/3/2011
Helpful Score: 1


I was fully prepared to give this at least four stars if not more until I got twenty pages from the end and all the careful character exploration was pretty much ignored to rush it to the conclusion. Salvatore and Nicolette are wonderful leads, and I loved the almost gentle relationship they had from the start. Their feelings are rich and believable, and it's very easy to root for them.

That unfortunately gets spoiled by too-convenient plot turns in the end as well as an entirely unbelievable turnaround on the part of one of the other primary characters. Within the space of two pages (only four pages from the end), I'm expected to change my mind about all the despicable behavior displayed previously in an all tell not show fashion. Um, no, I just can't turn on a dime like that, and ultimately, my disappointment at how that was all handled marred my overall enjoyment.

I really enjoyed it all the way to that point, however. They were a wonderful couple.


Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, Bk 1)
Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, Bk 1)
Author: Charlaine Harris
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 2419
Review Date: 7/22/2008
Helpful Score: 1


I kept hearing how charming this series was, how funny and different, but most of the humor really didn't work for me. For a vampire, Bill was pretty boring - which I guess was the point since Sookie craves normalcy - but it meant I never really cared about the romance or what was going on with them.


Ellora's Cavemen: Dreams of the Oasis, Vol IV
Review Date: 1/18/2009
Helpful Score: 1


I bought this anthology as a fan of 3 of the authors already, so it's tough when some of the work just isn't that good. Most of the ideas in this have been done to death, so it just leaves the execution to make the stories stand out. Not all of them do.

The first story in the mix is "Getting Slayed" by Anya Bast. Jeweline is a spoiled princess stuck in a chastity belt until someone slays the dragon and wins her hand. Tired of being a virgin, she decides to take matters into her own hands and kill the dragon herself, only to discover he's really a gorgeous guy under a curse. Jeweline is far from saccharine and the set-up is fun and hot. Bast serves the story well, and this one is by far my favorite of the bunch.

Story #2 is Charlotte Boyett-Compo's "Sting of the Wind." I'll admit upfront I'm not a fan of this particular author. I've read other work by her and found it melodramatic and overwrought. This was just more of the same, about a woman who's the human assistant to a vampire and his do-gooding corporation. Not my style.

Lena Matthews' "Temperature Rising" is an interracial romance between Danner and his best friend's little sister. It's typical Matthews' style, with little actual plot but plenty of steamy action. It delivers exactly what it promises.

My surprise read of the bunch was "Virtuosity" by Kris Starr. This was one of the authors I'd never read before, and I was surprised to find a slightly melancholy story of loss as a widow struggles to move on from her husband's death. It's set in the future, and the widow in question is a skilled starship captain, but even as she begins to explore her options by trying out the pleasure programs on the Holosuite, there's a sense of universality about her characters emotions that makes it not only relatable but a poignant read.

The story that disappointed me the most was "Shadows Stir" by NJ Walters. I'm a huge fan of the author, but the more I read of her, the more I think I'm more a fan of her contemporary work than her paranormal. This is a story of love at first sight/know your true mate without any logical reason/save the future of a dying race through magic children kind of story. It's not my thing, and unfortunately, not even an author I love could sell it to me.

The anthology doesn't end well with Ravyn Wilde's "Passionflower." This scifi is about a woman who gets kidnapped by an alien for mating purposes, chosen *specifically* because she's plus-sized and can thus accommodate his larger size and greater strength. Turns out, he also has extra endowments, which push the story so far into the realm of the absurd that I can only laugh at any attempt to take this story seriously. Oh, and the alien's name is M'ike. Because, of course, an apostrophe automatically makes a name exotic.

Not a keeper for me, not even for the stories I did enjoy.


Fadeout (Dave Brandstetter, Bk 1)
Fadeout (Dave Brandstetter, Bk 1)
Author: Joseph Hansen
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 7/25/2009
Helpful Score: 1


I picked this up on the recommendation of an author I respect, and while I was expecting a good read, I wasn't expecting to be so utterly shattered. On its surface, it's just a straightforward mystery about a guy who may or may not be dead, and the insurance investigator who needs to find out for certain. But just like the brittle prose, there's much, much more to it than that.

While I can appreciate that this is an important hallmark in gay fiction, portraying a gay man as normal as normal can be, the reason this now holds a place on my keeper shelf is the skill with which it hooked me into the wide range of emotions and never let me go. Brandstetter is mourning his 20+ year relationship, and his palpable grief permeates every page, every interaction, every word. The mystery might not necessarily be all that groundbreaking for readers of the genre, but in light of the characters the author creates, and most importantly, the protagonist who guides us through all of it, that doesn't matter. It's just that good.


Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural Midwest
Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural Midwest
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 9/12/2008
Helpful Score: 2


It's not about being gay, or living on a farm, or growing up in rural areas where your entire life is centered on a small representation of what is available. It's about identity, about what molds some people into the individuals they become. The stories run the gamut from simple and uplifting, to long and angry, representing factions within the gay community without being held back by the knowledge that it's a faction of its own. It's next to impossible not to be moved by them, and even harder not to reach a keener insight into American rural culture throughout the twentieth century. The ambling nature of the prose is a superb reflection of not only the older generations represented within the interviews, but of the environment within which they were raised.


Fear - An Anthology of Horror and Suspense
Fear - An Anthology of Horror and Suspense
Author: Multiple Authors
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 7/22/2008
Helpful Score: 1


A real mixed bag, though most of the stories really didn't work for me.


Gone (Alex Delaware, Bk. 20)
Gone (Alex Delaware, Bk. 20)
Author: Jonathan Kellerman
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 173
Review Date: 1/11/2009
Helpful Score: 3


"Gone" is a more cerebral offering to the Alex Delaware series, with more attention than usual paid to the psychology of actors than the crimes themselves, and yet, in the end, we're left with no real answers, not even anything very concrete as to why the crimes occurred in the first place. Alex seems to be wandering in this one, as he re-evaluates his life, and the changes that take place - with Robin's return and Allison's slow fade - exemplify that. The distance Alex takes makes it hard to care about much of anything except his relationship with Milo. I'll freely admit half the reason I love these books is because of Milo, so getting to see him so much is a joy. It's the interactions between him and Alex in this one that make it readable, not necessarily the mysteries themselves.


Grimspace (Sirantha Jax, Bk 1)
Grimspace (Sirantha Jax, Bk 1)
Author: Ann Aguirre
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 135
Review Date: 12/5/2008
Helpful Score: 5


I discovered Grimspace through reading the author's e-published romances. I really liked her voice in those stories, so I thought I'd give this a try, though sci-fi isn't usually my first choice. While not perfect, I still found myself sucked in, and devoured this book in record time.

The 1st person/present tense is a risky choice, and for me, works. It creates an urgency within the action that propels it forward even more than the short, clipping chapters do. It puts us into Jax's head, and makes it impossible to see her as anything but a very damaged woman. She's had a lot of trouble heaped on top of her, and the only way to deal with it is to compartmentalize it away. It makes her brittle and caustic, but getting to see her own insecurities, her fallibility, helped me sympathize with her. Though she makes less than heroic choices during the course of the story, they're true to who she is, and make her far more human than if she suddenly always did the most honorable thing. I was on her side, almost the entire way.

There's a very large cast of characters, as people and creatures come and go in her life. Some of their characterizations suffer for their short time on the pages; others thrive. March and Vel are the best drawn of the supporting cast, and falling for the relationships they have with Jax was easy.

Another criticism I have with the book - even as much as I like the author - is the one-liner endings she put on each chapter. It was fine in the beginning, but grew wearisome halfway through. I didn't need the reminder of Jax's quippy nature. I already had that through the rest of the text.

But I thoroughly enjoyed myself. And I'm going out tomorrow to get the second book. I like Jax and March enough to follow them, mostly because they are so flawed. It just makes them human.


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