My thoughts to this years GRL:
It was my third retreat and I was very much looking forward to it - only to now afterwards I have to say, it fell short. If not for meeting my good friend Lynley it would have been a big let down. Regarding the venue I had some doubts after reading the reviews on tripadvisor, but as I stayed at a hotel nearby, I thought it wouldn't matter that there were rather few good reviews.
When first arriving, the whole hotel felt outdated, the meeting rooms were not very good up-kept and besides ice water there was nothing offered from the hotel. After attending this years UK Meet - with coffee, tea and cookies all day long - I was a little bit disappointed.
Nevertheless, the panels, Q&A, readings and so on were very interesting, if only the electronic equipment would have worked better. On top of that the A/C was hit and miss - one day we were sweating like pigs, the next day it was freezing cold.
Anyway, it was very nice to meet with old friends, listen to interesting discussions and I don't want to miss it. The highlight for me was the Q&A with T.J. Klune and Eric Arvin:) On the other hand - the Dinner with an author was that loud, I couldn't understand a word of the person sitting next to me.
My biggest problem with GRL this year was: everything took place inside the hotel. I don't want to start recapping the first year in New Orleans, but there we were in the middle of the French quarter and several meetings/bar brawl, cruise on the Mississippi took place outside, within the community we wanted to support. But even last year in Albuquerque we were driven by bus to Old Town for a bit of sightseeing and afterwards a very fitting cocktail hour at an 'hazienda-like' setting.
This year - nada. We could have been in the middle of nowhere for all we had to experience the surroundings. The only one profiting from our retreat was the hotel.
Overall I have to say - my beloved readers retreat developed into an author/reader convention and the charm from the first year, already waning last year - this year it was rather gone.
I already decided not to attend next years 'retreat', because we have scheduled vacation at that time, but after this years experience I'm not sad about missing it.
** spoiler alert ** 4.5 stars
It was a slow beginning, as Bobby's voice got on my nerves. So I put it aside, read something else, but then I returned and from chapter 2 on it was a very good read. Poor Bobby, following his journey wasn't fun, but very engaging to read. His character growth was believable, complete with relapse. What a joy when he was able to withstand another one! And to witness how much his little dog helped him along the line - very nice. My only niggle, yes I have one again, is, for me the development in the end was a bit too fast. Yes, there was attraction between Bobby and Aaron along the line, but nevertheless, I would have enjoyed to read a little bit more of their realizing, well at least on Bobby's side, that the right one was in front of him all the time. There was a very fitting epilogue, perhaps a bit too nicely wrapping up the story lines with Wade and Caden. But that's probably just me:)
Oh what a wonderful read! Yes, no insta-love, no story front to only string together love/sex scene after another. Nope, this was a slow burn and nicely developing story among a setting that was very interesting and entertaining. I totally like cooking shows and I especially like fine dining, it always amazes me what a highly skilled cook can do with a handful of ingredients! Therefore it was especially entertaining to read this story with regard to the well-balanced telling of the cooking part and the relationship-building part. Like a successful menu this whole series worked out wonderfully. It was a joy to read from beginning to end and I am looking for the next book by Ms. Andor.
Have to think about it - I'm still in the world of fine dining, food competition and - cooking. Yes, also Nik and Alex, too cute, those two:)
After a good night's sleep, tomorrow I'll see what'll come to me.
What a nice start of the series! I really like Ms. Andor's writing and this was another joy to read. Off to start part 2.