Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Iron Trial by Holly Black, Cassandra Clare (Magisterium #1)

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication Date: September 9th 2014
POV: Male - Third-person, Past tense
My Rating: 3 out of 5


Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.

Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.

All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.

So he tries his best to do his worst – and fails at failing.

Now the Magisterium awaits him. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come...


After all the negative reviews I have read, and all the claims that this is a Harry Potter rip-off, I was expecting it to be a lot worse than it was. Really, the only comparisons to Harry Potter that I saw were the basic setup of the story. The fact that it takes place in a magic school, featuring a young boy whose best friends are a boy and a girl. But the Magisterium is absolutely nothing like Hogwarts; the mages are nothing like the wizards of the Potterverse; Callum, Aaron, and Tamara are absolutely nothing like Harry, Ron, and Hermione. The Enemy of the Magisterium may have been corrupted by his desire to defeat death, like Voldemort, but really, what else is going to turn someone with magic to evil? It was the same desire that turned Darth Vader to the dark side. Did JK Rowling rip-off George Lucas? I don't think so. I actually see much more of a basis for comparison between the Harry Potter series and The Mortal Instruments.

As of now, Callum is far from the hero that Harry was. He is actually extremely cynical for a 12 year old. He seems to think the whole world is out to get him. He was a bit annoying and there really wasn't much that was special about Aaron or Tamara either. Although they are better together, and having people actually care about him for the first time in his life, not counting his father, seems to be making Call less bitter. He seems to have the potential to be a better person, and proved that when he risked his life to save Aaron. But how will the revelation that he learned at the end affect him?

I really did not see that revelation coming and it definitely changes things. It changes the direction of the whole story and tells us that things are not as simple as we first thought. Call is not who we thought he was. Is he even the hero of this story, or is it Aaron? It brings into focus a lot of things that a 12 year old shouldn't have to think about, and that is the main reason why, for the time being, I will be continuing with this series. I am very interesting in where this will take us.

Although, I have to admit, I did a good deal of skimming. The characters are pretty flat, the writing is not engaging, and it was overall pretty boring. But the story was original enough to keep me interested and wanting to know what happens next.

“They all yelled in excitement. Tamara yelled because she was happy. Aaron yelled because he liked it when other people were happy, and Call yelled because he was sure they were going to die.”

Monday, 13 October 2014

The Girl For Me by Failte

Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication Date: November 27th 2006
POV: Alternating - Third-person, Past tense
Smut-O-Meter: 5 out of 10
My Rating: 5 out of 5


Straight jockboy Kevin thinks he has gay, cross-dressing Danny under his thumb. Kevin only likes girls.

So... why does he keep thinking about her?

Or him.



I don't even know where to start. I can't say how much I loved this book. It started out feeling very much like a normal YA contemporary romance. Danny was 16 and Kevin was 17 when they met at a party, despite a few significant changes, it began to progress as expected. Kevin convinced Danny to help him with his homework and they study together after school At this point it felt like a normal "wrong side of the tracks" romance, except they are both boys, and Danny likes to wear dresses.

Kevin and Danny don't get off on the right foot, but from the beginning you can tell Kevin isn't a horrible person. He just hasn't had the right influence. From the sound of things he had some pretty horrible friends, not to mention his father. But once he befriends Danny you see his real potential, not only in his school work, but in the person he could become. And Danny has found someone he can finally be himself with, even if he doesn't always know who that really is. Kevin doesn't judge, and he eventually finds himself falling for Danny. Once he realizes what is important in life, and what will really make him happy in the long run, he jumps in with both feet. It is pretty much from that point forward that he wants Danny in his life, and he never wavers.

"At the bottom of his pit, one light shone in Kevin's eyes. Of course. Fuck school. Fuck Dad. Fuck football and college and jobs and fags and straights and girls and boys and everyone and everything else - but Danny."

As their relationship progressed it starts to feel more like an NA. When Kevin turns 18 he gets his own apartment and they spend a lot of time their together, feeling very domestic, even though Danny still lives with his mother. I was surprised how little supervision they are given by their parents, and the amount of sex they have. I would definitely give this an NA label. Since they age a bit during the story, and they are just around the border age, I would lean it towards the NA label, due to content.

There is a point in the story where they have a big fight, and it was bad. I feel like it was a bit too much, and almost unforgivable. The story does bring us around to forgiving Kevin when Danny eventually does, but it was so out of character for Kevin, I really don't understand how he could have let it happen. And although it made Danny feel weak and vulnerable, and temporarily made him reconsider his desire to be a woman, I don't think his gender really came into it from Kevin's point of view. He was momentarily an asshole of the tenth degree, but it wasn't because Danny was a guy, or a girl, he was just being selfish. It shouldn't have made Danny question his gender. Kevin was a true bastard in that moment, and he only has himself to blame, not Danny.

Danny continues to be confused about his gender for most of the book. We don't really know in the end what conclusion he comes to. In the beginning, he considers himself a woman in a man's body, but as time goes by, he eventually learns more about what it means to be transgendered, and realizes he doesn't fit the definition. I don't know a lot about transgendered myself, but I wouldn't imagine it comes in degrees. But I don't know. Danny likes to wear dresses, but not all the time. In the beginning, he is extremely disturbed by the fact that he has a penis, but as his relationship with Kevin progresses it starts to come into play more and more and he enjoys it. He even mentions in passing that he at one point topped Kevin (I know that this is not that kind of story, but I would have loved to see that. I am a smut fan, so sue me). His sister tells him about surgery and hormone supplements, and the more he learns, the more he realizes that there are things about being a guy that he would miss. But he still never gives up the dresses. Every time Danny questioned Kevin in any regard to his gender, Kevin kept reassuring him that he loved who he was, not matter what. Male, female, it didn't matter, and that he just wanted Danny to be able to accept who he was. I hope that Danny was able to do that in the end. He did seem happy in the epilogue. Although we don't know what conclusion he came to, was in in drag at the time. 

“I wish you could just be you. You're great, Danny! You're fuckin' wonderful! Why do you have to be one thing or another? I... I just don't get why its so important to you to call yourself 'boy' or 'girl'!”

I loved how, once Kevin and Danny came out at school, that the entire school body stood up with them against homophobic teachers. It was amazing, and I loved how it also gave other Glbt students the courage to be themselves. It was truly inspiring and I hope things like that actually happen.

But of course my absolute favourite thing about this book was Kevin and Danny's relationship. They had some rough spots, and not only the one mentioned above, but in the end it all came down to the fact that they both knew that they were better, happier people when they were together. Kevin was ignorant of all things gay before he met Danny, and Danny not only educated him, but made him love him, made him want to be a better person, and literally taught him how. Kevin's love for Danny was so constant and unconditional, not even his gender was a condition and that makes me shed a lot of tears. And Danny loved that Kevin loved him. That he supported him and accepted him when no one else had. He loved that Kevin was really sweet underneath all his buffoonery, and that he was a lot smarter than he seemed. They were such a perfect pair, pretty much soul mates, that for the first time in an M/M romance (and I really think that the term M/M really doesn't do this story justice), I don't have a preferred main character. Despite Kevin's huge hiccup which I wanna just pretend didn't happen, I love them both so much. I can't remember the last time I got this attached to characters, or the last time I was this sad when I finished a book.

I loved the epilogue, but I still could have used more. The epilogue was set quite a while after the rest of the story, and it shows us where their life has gone, and that they are still together. But only Danny is in the epilogue. Even just one more page, set the evening after the epilogue, with Danny and Kevin both getting home and maybe cuddling; a kiss and a hug and an "I love you"? I would have been in heaven. I really didn't know what to expect going into this story, but it definitely blew any expectations I had right out of the water. This story really wound itself around my heart. My heart was racing as their relationship first started to grow. I was so anxious when Danny and Kevin were fighting. I was weeping as they proved they were forever. I will carry this story with me always. 

Danny chuckled, "So first you like boys, now you like cross-dressing boys, next-" 
"I like everything about you," Kevin said, while Danny thought about what might be 'next'. 
"Uh... next... Uh... I forgot what I was saying..." 
"You were about to say you loved me." 
"I love you. Thanks. I totally forgot.”

Friday, 10 October 2014

A Rose is a Rose by Jet Mykles

Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Novella
Publication Date: February 8th 2011
POV: Male - Third-person, Past tense
Smut-O-Meter: 8 out of 10
My Rating: 4 out of 5


When his latest sugar daddy drops him like yesterday's news, Carson's got more than a bruised ego to deal with. He's broke! No designer clothes, no baubles, and while he loves his job with the burlesque show he needs to pay the bills.

Should be no problem. Carson's young and pretty, so it should be no trouble finding someone new to pick up his tab.

Instead, he finds Eddie. The superintendent of Carson's apartment building, Eddie couldn't be further from Carson's usual type, financially or physically, but his gift of a single red rose touches Carson's heart.

For the first time, Carson doesn't want to be just a kept man.

To live the life he always thought he wanted, he needs to find a new sugar daddy. But how can he part with the support of someone who seems to really love him?


This story was so sweet! It took a bit for me to adjust to an effeminate MC. I have never read a book like this before. Where the MC is a man, refers to himself as a man and has no problem admitting it, but acts and dresses like a woman. It was a bit jarring at first, until I got used to it and I could see that that is just Carson. It's just who he is and he is wonderful.

He was also very much like Jet's usual MCs, with low self-esteem and I just could not wait to see him shown his true worth by someone. So enters Eddie, the superintendent of Carson's building, who, when he sees Carson crying over a bad break-up, gives him a single rose from his gardens. Carson cannot resist befriending the man because he is just so gosh darn sweet, and shy, and adorable, and straight.
Carson may be slaking his lust for Eddie alone, and Eddie is continuing to shyly dote on Carson, but it isn't until Carson confronts him about his attentions that it becomes clear that Eddie may not be so straight anymore. I really enjoyed the virgin factor too. Eddie wasn't a virgin be he was new to sex with men, and it was endearing to see Carson have to teach him what to do. But after the first time Eddie wanted to take charge, although he still needed help now and again, which was adorable despite the high intensity of the moment.

We never really get to know Eddie as well as I would have liked. This story would have greatly benefited from an alternating POV, but that may be too much commitment for a novella. Either way, Eddie was a bit of a cut out. Not that his characters was dull or unoriginal, but I just felt like I only saw his silhouette without the details of who he was. He was quietly caring, masculine, a serious sweet talker, and he loved Carson.

Carson on the other hand, is the kind of person that can always make someone feel better when they are having a bad day, even if his own day has been even worse. He will always have a smile for you. He knows he is beautiful, but he never acknowledges it in a conceited way. He may have used his looks to get the support of admirers, but he was not very confident about anything else. But Eddie believe in him, and, eventually, that was enough for Carson. Enough for him to get up off his butt and make his own like better, so that he could make a place in it for Eddie. :)

"Eddie, you can't do this to me. I do nothing for you." 
"That's not true. You make my world bright."

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Home is Where You Are by Tessa Marie

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication Date: September 30th 2014
POV: Alternating - First-person, Present tense
My Rating: 4 out of 5


Anna’s life reads like a check list.
Straight A’s (Check)
Editor of the school paper (Check)
Volunteering time at the local soup kitchen (Check)
Ivy League (So close she can taste it)
Falling in love with a homeless boy (Not on the list)

Dean has a plan too. Survive. After being subjected to his foster father’s violent attacks, Dean made the hard choice to leave. Now he lives on the streets doing everything he can to get by, refusing to let people help him. But when he meets Anna, he realizes not everyone is out to hurt him.

Slowly, Anna and Dean let each other in, blending their two worlds into one. But when a series of events brings Dean’s world into perspective, he pushes Anna away. Not willing to accept the line that divides them, Anna sets out to bring Dean back to her. Her determination and faith in their future puts her on the tracks of danger, and he is the only one who can save her.


This story was really sweet and heartwarming. I was looking for something "feel-good" after having a bad experience with a dark romance, and this ended up being perfect.

I really loved Anna. She was a such a disciplined girl. She was so studious, but it was not in an annoying way at all. And she may have been volunteering to make her college applications look good, but she was also doing it because she is just an amazingly selfless person. She cared too much. She wanted to save everyone that she could not possibly save, and it broke her heart whenever she failed. But she did save Dean.

Dean was a great kid who had been given a really shitty hand. He did his best and I actually really admire him for sticking through his situation as long as he had. And then surviving on the streets for two years at his young age and remaining clean is impressive.

It was a lot of fun to watch them falling in love, and it was just such a heartwarming story. They were so perfect together and their paths were clearly always meant to join. They have such a bright future together.

“We may be part of two very different worlds, but right now we're in our own together.”

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