BOOK REVIEWS

Haffling Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2017-08-18 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 35 user ratings
ISBN:1623808944
LANGUAGE:English

"This book made me feel a gambit of emotions. At first the story was really good and I loved it, then I got frustrated cause I was confused, I wanted to stop reading it but I just couldn't, I like this book now, I couldn't stop reading it, then it got better and then I was surprised due to twists in the story.

The concept of the story is great. I love stories about fairies and mortals who are half fey or something. That's what drew me to this book.

The beginning of the book starts out great. I'm understanding it and it really draws me in. After Alex enters the park it gets complicated and confusing. I was wishing for an explanation of what was happening. After this, the story goes back and forth between understanding what was happening and being confused. About halfway through the book, that levels out and I'm understanding it and it gets smoother and better. A few surprises arise, but they are good. The ending I had a problem with, though.

Also, the cast of characters are wonderful and well developed.

Overall, the story is really great and written in such a way that it's like I'm watching a movie. The confusing bits are a little bit difficult, but if you press in and continue the wrinkles press out and it becomes smooth.

I received this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review from Inked Rainbow Reads.
" said.

"Sixteen-year-old Alex Nevus lives a challenging life for a teenager. Living with a schizophrenic mother, he does all he can to keep things together for his younger sister, Alice. He will do everything he can to keep his family together. And while he manages, it's always just by a thread. And he tries hard to ignore the fairy that he hallucinates, worried he might end up just like his mother someday.

When Alex's mother disappears on the day of a court hearing, he knows he has to find her. And his quest to find her takes him to a strange place--the land of the Fey. What he learns there helps explain some of what's going on in his life, but it stirs up more questions than answers. And in the land of the Fey, all questions come with a cost.

Alex learns there might be a bigger threat to his family than the court system. To save them, he'll need to find a way to stop May, queen of the Fey. And it won't be easy.

Complicating things is the fact that the boy of Alex's dreams, Jerod Haynes, just started talking to him. As much as Alex has longed for a relationship, Jerod's timing is terrible. Or is it actually the best timing ever?

--

I really enjoyed this fun and action-packed story. Once things get moving here, they move quickly and stay that way right up until the end. There's a rich history between the Fey lands and the lands of the humans that the author has developed. And there are some fun references to other stories that certainly made me smile.

This is the start of a series and I'm looking forward to the next installment.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
" said.

"3,5*

"What's wrong, Alex?"

"What’s wrong is we live in a shit hole. What’s wrong, Alice?”

Without breaking stride, she answered. “What’s wrong is we live in a shit hole, and my clothes come from thrift stores. What’s wrong, Alex?”

“What’s wrong is we live in a shit hole, your clothes come from thrift stores, and our mother has schizophrenia. What’s wrong, Alice?”

“What’s wrong is we live in a shit hole, my clothes come from thrift stores, our mother has schizophrenia, and you don’t have a boyfriend. What’s wrong, Alex?”


"What's wrong" is one of game Alex played with his sister, Alice, try to lighten what they've been through. Schizophrenic mother was just one of "the wrong" in Alex's life. But this schizophrenic mother who keep him and Alice away from the foster care, so when his mother goes MIA (again), Alex have track her down through the danger of faeries world.

I love the idea of teenager who struggle to keep his family together and Alex doing his good job to keep him and Alice away from foster care while fighting the evil fey queen, May. How's cool is that!
But, as much as I drawn to the family-drama and romance side of this story, the fantasy side doesn't impressed me much. Granted, there's no rule about how you build your fantasy world, but when it come to fey realm I was expecting a mysterious, dark, dangerous, beautiful world. Yes, the realm here has some of elements of that, but for me it felt mostly confusing and errr... ridiculous. Holly Black's The Darkest Part of the Forest has better fey realm.

I enjoyed better the dynamic between Alex-Alice & Jerod-Clay interaction rather than Alex adventures in fey realm. Really. (And Alex-Jerod were really cute together, I shipped them hard!) I hope to see more of them in the next book.
" said.

"(Originally reviewed for Love Bytes Same Sex Book Reviews with a copy provided by the author / publisher for an honest review.)

I wasn’t sure what sure what to expect when I read the blurb for this book on our available books to review worksheet. It intrigued me enough that I decided to give it a shot. I’m glad I did. It was a well written tale of the world of the fey, or fairy, or faerie, breaking through into modern day Manhattan.

Alex Nevus is a super intelligent sixteen year old attending Stuyvesant High School, a school for the gifted in Manhattan. His life hasn’t been easy though. His mother has schizophrenia, and it is getting worse. Alex is doing everything he can to keep himself and his sister from being taken away from their mom and put back into foster care. The ended up in foster care once before…and really bad stuff happened.

Now Alex’s mother is missing. The very day she has to appear in front of the state reps to continue her disability, housing assistance, etc. If she doesn’t show up, at a minimum Alex’s little sister Alice will be taken into foster care.

Alex follows his mother’s cell phone GPS to a remote park at the north end of the island of Manhattan. But what he finds there won’t be just his mother. Maybe the land of the fey is real?

There begins a topsy turvy journey between our world and one that lies beyond. Along the way there will be a really cute, but straight, boy in Alex’s class, an assortment of various fairy species, an evil fairy queen, and a truth that Alex might, or might not, be ready for.

I recommend this book for anyone looking for a modern day tale of fairies. Notice I didn’t say a modern day fairy tale. There is a big difference. I, for one, much prefer the tale of the fairies. This tale is also a young adult read. There is no sex in the book, and there shouldn’t be, as it wouldn’t fit the tale. I saw that the book originally was published in 2013, but the end of this current edition has a teaser for book two, so I’m hoping we will see it soon!
" said.

"This book starts off pretty well, with a very sympathetic main character in Alex, a gay NYC teen trying to keep his family together in the face of adversity. Alex juggles school, social services, his little sister Alice (who is plenty damaged herself), and his mother, whose apparent mental illness belies more complicated issues -- fae issues, as it turns out.

I enjoyed seeing Alex navigate a recognizable if cartoonishly outmoded version of NYC, as well as the ins and outs of his precarious family and legal situations, about which the author clearly knows something. I enjoyed his love of martial arts, drawing, and a seemingly straight classmate named Jerod. I even enjoyed his initial foray into Faerie, by way of northern Manhattan's Fort Tryon Park.

Unfortunately, this book went wildly off the rails for me the more time it spent of Fairie and fairies. This stuff was just WAY over the top, as Queen May obsessed over entering the human world through reality TV fame, her sister proved to be posing as a famous children's book author (wearing slutty clothes at an NYPL appearance, no less!), and Alex's mother's madness proved to be the result of too much time spent in the other realm with her faerie lover. Alex and Alice's home situation is ultimately solved by their mother being replaced by a "sane" changeling of sorts, while the genuine article stays in faerie. Not a very clear message about mental health in the real world, I would say, especially considering how much time the first half of the book focuses spends on that element. I also didn't appreciate how quickly Alex and Jerod's relationship went from Zero to True Love -- I just didn't buy that, and it was bothersome that we never saw Jerod's girlfriend and school friends again after their early introduction.

So, this book had a lot of good things going for it, but was ultimately scattershot and disappointing. But I'd still be interested to read the sequel, which concerns one of Haffling minor faerie characters dumped in the human world. There's a lot of potential in the world that James has created here, and a lot of potential in his writing abilities.

** I received a Review Copy of this book via NetGalley ** (2nd edition, DSP Publications, January 2016)
" said.

"Fantasy is not something I read a a lot of, but Haffling is a book that I have had my eye on ever since it was first presented on DSP's website. Now I have finally got around and finishe dit - and I am glad I did.

Haffling is more and better than I expected on so many levels. First: the writing itself; the language is right on spot, the words flow so well and even though this is a story told in 1st POV - an other thing that is not my first choice of narrators in a story - Alex's voice is captivating. Second: so is Alex's family matters. I love the way the author intertwine Alex's life in the real world and his life in Queen May's remnants of the fairy land. Alex has a sister that is eleven years old, and a mother that has schizophrenia (or has she?) and the siblings are about to loose the one safety they have - the ratty apartment.

Third: the author has populated this world with some real sinister characters. These are some blood-thirsty creatures that we encounter while reading. And when circumstances look realy bad for Alex adn his sister, they don't get better, they get worse, and worse and worse.Until you ask yourself how on earth they will make it better again. I like that too. Too often you find stories with too little conflict, too little tension and/or too little at stake. Stories where problems are without real stakes or are solves too quickly and too easily. Not so here.

Fourth: although this is a story about a gay boy it is not a story about being gay, neither is it making it the central issue. Yes, Alex ponders about being gay on occasion, but he is far too busy with coping his other much bigger life issues. He has a crush on a presumably straight boy (we all know he's not that straight, just too shy to say it outright, yeah?).Alex and Jerod's falling in love is a sweet romantic sub-plot, but that's it. It's a sub-plot. The main plot is about keeping Alex family and mainly Alice safe, and the consequences that will follow in its lead.

At one point toward the end I reached a passage where I came to miss the contact with "real life" and it got too much fairy land actions for my part. It caused me to put it down for a day and a half. I am happy I picked it up again and finished it, because I liked the end too. Haffling has a satisfying end, but leaves opportunities for a sequel open. Will there be one?

When I reach the end of the novel I read that Caleb James is a psychiatrist (could explain where some of the ideas for this novel came) and that he has written both fiction and non-fiction under other names prior to this book (could explain the swift and precise language use and the great build-up that leads to an almost explosive finale). Now I'd like to find out more about that.
" said.

" This is my review of Exile, by Caleb James, from my M/M Romance Books Blog, OJ He Say.Click the links below to see the whole review and more.
OJ Library LOGO - Copy (2)

Exile by Caleb James at OJ He Say!

EXILE – HAFFLING BOOK 2

To be honest I’m not one for fantasy usually, however after having read Dark Blood by Caleb James and then seeing that he’d gone on and written other fantasy I just had to give this a whirl, and I am so glad I did. Mr. James, AKA Charles Atkins, weaves an incredible tale of fantasy in the modern world that, for me, makes it all work wonderfully. By bringing the age old stories of the fey in to the 21st Century one can see the plausibility of such happenings. To do it as masterfully as he does? That’s an awesome talent! One bit of advice: read Haffling, the first book in this series, as Exile follows the happenings in book 1.

THE CHARACTERS

Liam Summer:

The man, who had to be about his age, in his early twenties, with matted blond hair that glinted gold from the reflected flashers on the streets and the shoots of fire that surrounded them, met Charlie’s gaze. Even in the dim light, Charlie marveled at the color of his eyes— purple. Guy’s naked in an abandoned apartment, wearing colored contacts. Stop staring at him, Charlie. “Come on. Can you stand?” Is he totally naked? Shit! He averted his eyes. Don’t be a perv… It didn’t help that, even covered in soot and sawdust, He’s perfect. Like someone out of an underwear ad, only… no underwear.

Charlie Fitzgerald:

For an instant he couldn’t recognize the tall man, but he knew those blue eyes, the dark hair matted to his scalp from the helmet Liam had originally taken to be an ogre’s head…
He’s not hurt, just filthy. His face, hands, and arms were smudged with soot, and his thick wavy hair clung matted to his scalp from the Kevlar hood of his respirator.

THE STORY

Exile, Haffling Book 2, is the story of Liam Summer, a gorgeous, blond fey whose gift is the ability to glamor others. May, Queen of The Fey, enslaves him as a youth after she kills and eats his parents and uses him as her tool to glamor others so she can eat them, as that is how she maintains her powers.

Exile picks up at the end of Haffling as Liam escapes the world of the fey, the Unsee, into the realm of humans. Even though May is being held prisoner by her sister Lizbeta she is steadily regaining her powers and re-starting her attempted conquest of the human realm. May attempts to kill Liam by sending a ball of fairy fire after him and instead ends up burning down the condo where Liam has entered the human realm. As the building is burning down Charlie Fitzgerald, a hunky, tall black Irish firefighter, rescues Liam and falls head over heels for him.

As I don’t do spoilers I’ll leave it for you to continue with this wonderfully written story of gorgeous, magical fey and hunky Irish firefighters. Trust me, you won’t regret it.


THE WRITING

Mr. James’ writing, AKA Charles Atkins, is simply, superbly flawless. This is the third book I’ve read by him and I can honestly say the experience is consistently flawless. It’s that rare ability to develop the characters and build a universe with such laser-like precision that allows the reader to totally and completely immerse him/herself in the story and go along with the ride.
" said.

" What a page turner. I could not put this down until I was done. This was amazing. Lovely story! " said.

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