Review – Forget Me Not by Jordan Castillo Price

Forget Me NotTitle: Forget Me Not
Series: Mnevermind #2
Author: Jordan Castillo Price
Publisher: JCP Books
Rating: 5 stars

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Publication date: February 18, 2014
Genre: M/M romance/Science fiction
Length: 206 pp

Review Summary: A mesmerizing second book in the Mnevermind series from Elijah’s POV – even better than the first, but doesn’t stand alone.

Plot Summary/Blurb

Elijah Crowe is a talented mnemographer with skills and ideas that startle even Daniel Schroeder, but he’s on the autism spectrum and his communication issues have stopped his career from ever taking off. Instead of being prized for his talents, he’s teaching beginner classes at the mall.

Elijah’s strongly attracted to Daniel, but there’s still an ex-wife with an important place in Elijah’s life. He also has some issues with a co-worker, and he’s not sure how to handle them. Will Daniel understand and accept him as he is – either in the world of mnem or in real life?

Forget Me Not Review

This is the second in the Mnevermind series by the wonderful Jordan Castillo Price – or is it a serial? I’m not sure. There was little resolution at the end of book #1, and they are of a length where the whole trilogy could be published as one book – a long book, at around 600 pages, but still.

Anyway, this volume is told from the point of view of Elijah, who’s on the autism spectrum and therefore way off the regular M/M hero spectrum of characteristics. I loved Elijah – I think I like him more than Daniel, who seems a little puzzled by Elijah.

The author does an excellent job of showing Elijah’s communication difficulties in action, while making him one of the cutest characters imaginable. He’s only able to act like others in mnem, and to explain that, I’d have to go into the sci-fi aspect of this series, which I like but don’t totally understand. I said in my review of the first book that it reminded me of Total Recall and maybe that’s stopping me understanding it better. Anyway, that’s not a heavy element, so you can easily cruise through it.

Something that does come across better in this book than in the first, is Daniel’s skill as a mnemographer and how successful his business was before things went wrong. Modesty prevented Daniel from revealing this in his own narrative, but Elijah doesn’t hesitate to do it for him. I appreciated Daniel much more at the end of this volume.

Elijah has been married (to a woman) in the past and still seems to be best friends with her, which leads to some interesting challenges for other characters, if not for Elijah himself.

I hate some of the things that are happening to Elijah in this book. He’s being menaced, and his psychiatrist or whatever she is seems to have no idea. On the other hand, he and Daniel seem just wonderful for each other. Each of them brings out the best in the other, and that’s lovely to read.

All in all, I found this book mesmerizing.

This is a trilogy so we’ll have to wait for the third volume to tie everything up. There’s no question about Elijah’s feelings for Daniel but is Daniel really going to fall for the ‘real life’ Elijah? This is romance so we know the answer … it’s just a question of how convincing Jordan Castillo Price can make it.

The books don’t stand alone too well. You’d want to have read Mnevermind 1: The Persistence of Memory (see our review) before getting this one, or you’d have (even more) trouble understanding the sci-fi aspects. In fact, if you didn’t read them back to back as I did, but read the first book a couple of years ago when it first came out, you might want to give yourself the pleasure of reading it again!

I haven’t found a release date yet, but there were nearly two years between the first and second books … *gulp*. Not sure I can wait that long.

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Review – The Persistence of Memory by Jordan Castillo Price

PersistenceOfMemoryTitle: The Persistence of Memory
Series: Mnevermind #1
Author: Jordan Castillo Price
Publisher: JCP Books
Rating: 4 stars

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Publication date: May 2, 2012
Genre: M/M romance/Science fiction
Length: 194 pp

Review Summary: Intriguing first book in a trilogy focusing on induced dream/memories with some very engaging characters. Plan to read the whole series because you won’t want to stop at the end of this one.

Plot Summary/Blurb

Daniel Schroeder is a mnemographer, helping clients to have positive experiences or mnems in a kind of dreamworld, and he used to be very good at what he does, until an accident left his Dad with memory loss and Daniel with a severe blow to his confidence. His memory palace has gone downhill and he’s barely making ends meet. Then a very cool guy dressed in black starts showing up in the memes that he’s supervising, heralded by black crows. Daniel is intrigued, but is he losing his grip on reality?

The Persistence of Memory Review

On the borderline between paranormal and science fiction, this book is set in a world where people can define and build their own dream-like experiences. Even though they (mostly) don’t remember them afterward, they are left with a feel-good factor that persists. Mnemographer Daniel’s issue is that he’s lost his nerve for developing new mnems because of the accident that left his father with memory loss. Because of this, his business is suffering. He’s also not had a date in a long time.

If you know Jordan Castillo Price’s writing you’ll be expecting a male/male romance here but this first volume in the trilogy only begins to set that up. The two main characters are both engaging and Elijah is refreshingly different from most heroes of any kind of romance. I wanted to see more of Elijah and I was thrilled that book 2 is written from his point of view.

Secondary characters like Larry, Daniel’s co-worker in his second job (yes, the business is doing that badly!) and Big Dan, Daniel’s father, are well developed. Larry’s a funny guy and a great addition to the story. I was more uncomfortable with the sections featuring Big Dan because Daniel insists on telling him the bad news he’s forgotten, day after day, even though he’s only going to forget it again. Big Dan doesn’t have Alzheimer’s but the principle is surely the same – it’s cruel to upset people over and over so pointlessly, and I was sorry to see Daniel doing it.

The idea of mnems is not particularly original, being strongly reminiscent of Philip K. Dick’s We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, the book on which the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Total Recall was based. But this is a very different treatment of it – there’s none of the scary adventure story here. We’re clearly heading for a cute romance between Daniel and his Man in Black, who’s found a way to enter other peoples’ mnems.

The ending is a little abrupt and there’s no real resolution but it’s the first book in a trilogy and fans will be pleased to know the second in the series, Forget Me Not – Mnevermind #2 is already available. I read them back to back and can’t wait for the final book in the trilogy.

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Review – Fish and Ghosts by Rhys Ford

Fish and Ghosts coverTitle: Fish and Ghosts
Series: Hellsinger #1
Author: Rhys Ford
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Rating: 4 stars

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Publication date: December 30, 2013
Genre: M/M paranormal romance
Length: Novel

Review Summary: A must for anyone who likes their M/M romance served up in a haunted house.

Plot Summary/Blurb

Tristan Pryce’s uncle died and left him the huge and beautiful Hoxne Grange because he was the only one of the family who could see the ghosts that used it as a stopover on their way to the next world. His other aunts and uncles, not surprisingly, want to have Tristan certified as crazy to get their own hands on the house, so they call in Wolf Kincaid, the CEO of the paranormal research team Hellsinger Investigations, to prove there are no ghosts at the Grange.

Wolf’s looking forward to showing Tristan up as a fake, but things don’t turn out that way. He’s not as crazy and a lot more attractive than Wolf’s expecting. Then Wolf’s team’s activities unleash the ghost of a serial killer in the grounds, and not just their hearts but the Grange and even their lives are in danger.

Fish and Ghosts Review

So right off, I loved the premise here. Haunted house, reclusive hero, friendly ghosts. Other things I loved included Tristan, who is troubled enough to be interesting without being angst-ridden. Wolf is a good partner for him, if a little less developed. Rhys Ford is an excellent writer and I like her style.

Tristan and Wolf are two appealing characters and there is a good tension and fun dialog between them. Some of the ghosts are lovely – Jack the dog and Heather the cook are too sweet for words (although a little research might have prompted the author to give her a different name – Google’s telling me ‘Heather’ didn’t become popular until the late 19th century, and cooks were always called by their last names in England anyway).

On the subject of names, at first I thought the name Wolf was too cheesy to be bearable, but I forgave the author when it turned out to be short for Wolfgang – almost. Because then you’re left with the question of whether it sounds like ‘volf’ or ‘woolf’. I’m sure there’s a rule in all those ‘how to be a writer’ books about not giving your characters hard-to-pronounce names…

The main characters do have a bad case of insta-love. Initial hostility set up by the situation dissolves almost on sight. Wolf forgets about his client’s interests and takes Tristan’s side. Tristan, who has preserved his virginity until now (why?) suddenly decides this is The One.

The sex scenes are long, maybe too long for some readers. However, they’re not just acrobatics, they do develop the characters and the relationship, so even readers who usually skip these scenes might appreciate them. If you like M/M sex scenes you’ll love them.

In summary, Fish and Ghosts by Rhys Ford is a must for anyone who likes their M/M romance served up in a haunted house. Since it’s the first in a series, I’m hoping the relationship between the two MCs will develop at a deeper level in the next book. I’d like to see more of Tristan and the ghosts, and less of Wolf’s staff and family. But I’ll certainly be looking out for more from the Hellsinger ghost hunting team.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering about the fish in the title, it’s a play on the old saying, ‘fish and guests stink after three days’. Because that’s how long the ghosts stay at Hoxne Grange…

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Review – Rites of Passage by William Golding

Rites of PassageTitle: Rites of Passage
Series: To the Ends of the Earth, #1
Author: William Golding
Publisher: various
Rating: 5 stars

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Publication date: 1980
Genre: Literary fiction, historical with LGBT interest
Length: Novel

Rites of Passage Review Summary: Stunning and sad historical prizewinning novel set on a ship bound for Australia in the early 19th century. The arrogant upper class narrator is unintentionally hilarious, but it’s really the story of the young parson Mr Colley and his catastrophic wish to please.

Plot Summary/Blurb

In a makeshift cabin on a stinking former warship bound for the new colony of Australia, an educated young man writes a journal to entertain his godfather back in England. With a mixture of wit and arrogance he records mounting tensions on board, as an obsequious clergyman attracts the dangerous animosity of the tyrannical captain and surly crew.

Rites of Passage Review

Young Edmund Talbot is on his way to Australia to take up a post in the government there. He’s well-connected but not rich, and has been sponsored by his godfather, to whom he addresses the diary that he writes on board.

We get a strong sense of the snobbish young aristocrat who clearly thinks he’s the most important person on the ship. Both he and a newly-ordained young parson, Mr Colley, offend the captain with their different demands: Edmund’s focused on his status and comfort, Mr Colley’s on his wish to provide religious services for the passengers and crew.

Poor Mr Colley is desperate to be liked and accepted, especially by Edmund, since he agrees with Edmund’s own view of his status, and by a certain handsome young crew member. But it’s his mistakes in approaching the captain that ultimately bring about the tragic ending.

The ship was formerly a warship; the captain is hostile to passengers. What starts as an unpleasant situation becomes dangerous. In that respect it’s like Golding’s Lord of the Flies – a group of people isolated by circumstances move closer and closer to savagery – although the tone and style are completely different.

This is the first in a series of three novels about Edmund Talbot and his trip to Australia. The character of Edmund is well developed with him becoming older, wiser and humbled by the events of the book. It’s a very convincing sea-going historical read with an LGBT theme in a subplot (but no happy ending).

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