Thursday, December 25, 2014

A King Undone by Cooper Davis


Noble Pleasures - Book 1

One of my favourite m/m historical authors, KJ Charles mentioned reading this book and had many nice things to say about it. Off I went and bought it.

The world in which our heroes, Arend and Julian, live, is a world where men may openly court and marry men. That's all well and good, but we find that there are still questions of lineage, heirs and royal duty. So when the widowed King Arend finally seeks out and contracts a male concubine long after the death of his queen, one would think that things would go smoothly. He's done his bit for the kingdom and produced an heir with his late non-lamented wife but oops... the prince is all about the men too. Anyway, King Arend contracts with the Temple Sapphor and gains the gorgeous Julian as his concubine for a year.

I loved this story. And funny, I didn't think I would at first. The voice of the author, Cooper Davis, is sort of different. Sort of .... let me tilt my head until I figure what I'm hearing wrong. Once I got used to it, once I realised that this is actually how the residents of this alternate Victorian world think and speak, things got a whole lot better. I still found myself brought up a few times by the constant use of the term male instead of man and thinking why can't he just be a man for heaven's sake! But that's how these folk think of men... I think... as males. I dunno, it's weird, but for the most part it works.

The other thing that sort of set my teeth on edge was what I felt was a feminisation of the concubine, Julian. Julian described as quite gorgeous, quite beautiful, big and manly but with a feminine voice... I'm going to be honest, I spent some time wondering if Julian was suddenly going to turn out to be trans because these things were mentioned somewhat regularly. I understand that Julian's voice is unique and different and I assume... high? I found it puzzling, but maybe that's just me.

And then there's the end. Talk about ABRUPT! It's not really a cliffhanger in the sense that no one is dangling off the edge of said cliff, but there are SO many questions unanswered and the tale of Arend and Julian is really just beginning. I actually double checked to see if I had skipped a chapter or something! *LOL*

One of the things on the big plus side is the angst and the UST. OH MY GOD! It steams right off the page/screen. The intimate scenes are SO intimate and sensual and sexy. And the dialogue... OMG, there is some terrific banter all throughout the book. (And yes, I've already begun pairing up a couple of the secondary characters.).

Those are the things that didn't let me give this book 5 stars, but I'll tell ya... I'm all over the next one in the series!

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Feast of Stephen by KJ Charles


A Charm of Magpies - Book 3.5

Loved it!

A perfect story for the holiday season! It has a very family feel about it and I love the way KJ was able to work the traditional carol into Stephen and Lucien's love story. It worked REALLY well for me.

Thanks for the lovely Christmas prezzie, KJ! It was just what I needed today. :)

Three the Hard Way by Sydney Croft


An ACRO Novella

Okay, it barely makes it as a Christmas story. This novella is set at Christmastime and it refers back to a major backstory plot point that takes place on Christmas, but other than that, it's not really a holiday type read. *LOL* And that's okay!

The story makes up a small part of the Acro World, adventure/thriller romances and what we have here is an adventure/thriller peopled by gorgeous men who have all kinds of super type powers. :) There are a pair of opposing organisations (ACRO and ITOR) that make use of people like these guys. And there's lots of gunfire and lots of sexytimes. :) And it was FUN!

As this is a novella that focusses on three main characters, there's not a lot of room for character depth and growth, but that's not a problem in my eyes. I like to look at it as watching a James Bond movieor an X-Men or Avengers movie.

This is the first thing I've read by Sydney Croft (Stephanie Tyler and Larissa Ione) and as I understand it, the rest of the novels and stories in this universe are m/f. I feel fully confident in saying that if you enjoy some paranormal adventure with plenty of steamy sex and hot romance, Sydney Croft is certainly worth your time. :)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Mistletowed by Tara Lain


Another Christmas/Holiday read. It has an interesting premise. Mistletoe magic and secret heart's desires and fated meetings. Unfortunately, these things don't really get explored in any depth. But, if you're in the mood for a quick, hot, fun, holiday story with not much delving into characters and personalities and plot, well, this is a good story. :) I did chuckle out loud once or twice.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

What Happens at Christmas by Victoria Alexander


Millworth Manor - Book 1

This is the second of my Christmas reads and I must say, after the first few chapters, I enjoyed it very much.

It's a light-hearted romance - in fact I found myself chuckling under my breath more than once and even laughed out loud a time or two. It was the most well-written novel I've ever read, that's a fact. There is head-hopping, hyperbole, deus ex machina and all those good things, but it was such FUN to read.

I guess the real tale is that I found the whole cast of amusing and silly characters quite enjoyable and would be ready to see what other mischief they could get up to. I did enjoy that there were no paragons of virtue AT ALL. All the main characters had their flaws and their moments of - ooh, I don't like you! - but in the end, I ended up liking them! *LOL*

Anyway, a fun Christmas read.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sleigh Ride by Heidi Cullinan


Minnesota Christmas - Book 2

I finished this book a half an hour ago and I'm still smiling. I loved it. Totally and completely loved it.

Sleigh Ride is the second installment in the Minnesota Christmas series - the first one came out last Christmas season. When I began to read it, it didn't take long before I felt as if I had just curled up in front of a blazing fireplace with a blankie and a good cup of coffee, reading by the light of the Christmas tree.

This is the story of Arthur, the ginger bear who is so rough and ready and amazingly marshmallowy; and Gabriel, one of the most endearing characters that I think Heidi has ever written.

Arthur is so straighforward, it seems, and Gabriel is so tightly wound, so ... I guess the popular word is damaged?.. so very much inside his head as many smart folk are. They are such opposites and well, opposites do attract, don't they? Each has a need that the other fulfills, but above and beyond that, they LIKE each other. Even when Gabriel was freaking out about what he'd done with Arthur, I still got the feeling that he couldn't help but like him.

There are some serious things addressed in this book as well as the romance and the hot and steamy stuff. There is a scene in the library, 3/4s of the way through the book that had me dissolved in tears, having to put aside the e-reader for a little bit because I was so overwhelmed. Not in a bad way at all. In a very good way. And in the same vein, some of Gabriel's observations and reminiscences of growing up gay could very easily be thought of as lecturing or preaching, but Gabriel being Gabriel (or Gabe as Arthur calls him), you know that this is exactly how he would talk. And it's never boring or pedantic or any of those things. I'm explaining this badly, I know, just works. :)

Throughout the book we meet some old friends (including a mention of the couple from the very first Heidi C. book I ever read - the book that hooked me. *LOL*) and we make some lovely new friends.

And something that was a very big deal for me... both Arthur and Gabriel are over the age of 35. Mature men! What a breath of fresh air!!

Oh, I loved this book. So much. And loved these men so much as well. And yes, I'm still smiling. A perfect book for the season... a perfect love story that I'm still thinking about and creating images of their future in my brain.

Thanks Heidi, you've done it again!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Interlude with Tattoos by KJ Charles


A Charm of Magpies Interlude

Exactly as advertised, an interlude between Book One and Book Two of the A Charm of Magpies series. A lovely, steamy, fun interlude that hit the spot when looking for a quick enjoyable read.

I love this author and I love this series.

The King's Deryni by Katherine Kurtz


Childe Morgan Trilogy - Book 3

Deryni Rising
, the first in the Deryni novels by Katherine Kurtz was published in 1970 and was the book that instilled a love for fantasy that is still strong today, almost 45 years later.

The King's Deryni is the latest of Katherine's Deryni novels, closing The Childe Morgan trilogy. The previous book in this series, Childe Morgan, was published in 2006. It's been eight years, yes. EIGHT years. George R.R. Martin doesn't even compete. *LOL*

Now the books of the last 15 years, beginning with King Kelson's Bride, have not been as totally wonderful as the previous books and series. Too many characters, not enough important and interesting events plot-wise and just... they've not been the same. That being said, The King's Deryni was more than I expected, even though some of the events were just retellings of incidents that we had seen before in Deryni Tales and flashbacks in other Deryni books.

The King's Deryni is basically telling us the story, the broad strokes of which we know quite well, of Alaric Morgan and his king, Brion Haldane, and how Morgan came to be the man and the hero we were introduced to way back in Deryni Rising. If you're not a fan of the Deryni, you will not enjoy this book at all. It's a book for the longtime fan, I think. Fleshing out characters and tales that we all know. Although, I need to do some research to find out what happened to Llion, Alaric's long-time mentor and protector.

I took my time reading this book, savouring it because I fear that it might be Katherine's last. She has just turned 70, but I hope... oh, I do hope, that she has enough left in her to write the book about the year 948. I know she intends to, but I don't know if there's another 8 years left!

So, the writing is not what it once was. The plotting is not what it once was. Characterisation has taken a bit of a hit - and yes, I still bitch about the precociousness of Alaric the child. But this is a book about my beloved Deryni by my favourite Katherine and since it's official publication date was December 2nd, the day before my own birthday, I like to think it was written just for me, and as such I have cut it some slack. I have loved reading it and some of the passages, some of the tales told therein have shown flashes of the wonder of earlier volumes. The scenes concerning the grey mare especially were of that sort.

So, yes. Definitely not of the ilk of The Legends of Camber of Culdi trilogy, nor The Harrowing of Gwynnedd nor High Deryni - this Deryni book, The King's Deryni was still a treat for me. :)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Blushing Bounder by Meljean Brook


An Iron Seas Companion Story

A quick, fun read! Steampunk romance with the most adorable of couples. I started it last night, read the first 2 chapters and then read the final 3 today.

I've not read a lot of Meljean's work yet, but what I have read I really, really enjoy, so... there will be more. :)

It's Here!! It's Here!!

It's here!! It's here!!

I had pre-ordered it from Chapters and it was only supposed to be released on December 2nd, the day before my birthday, but it arrived today!! Yes, Canada Post is delivering on Sunday because they have so many parcels to deliver, according to the fellow that came to the door.

Anyway! Katherine is my most favourite of faves and while the last few books of hers haven't been up to the standards of the Camber series and the Heirs of Camber series, I still have hope. She's the only author I will buy in hardcover, no questions asked.

I am going to be good and finish the novella I'm currently reading but then, I'm diving in! I'm SO excited!!

Bomber's Moon by Alex Beecroft


Under the Hill - Book 1

I have come to really enjoy Alex Beecroft's work. She gives great plot, terrific characters, a love story that takes its time to grow and some super dialogue. And I'm very enamoured of the historical settings that she uses as well.

This time around, we're thrown into the action rather quickly. We meet Flynn who is in Fairyland with the mythological creatures, and then Ben and Chris and other modern day group in what feels to me like small town England. And it seems that while this is modern day, Chris is actually a bomber pilot from WW2. These days, he's a Fairybuster (as opposed to a Ghostbuster.) or maybe a more inclusive term would be Mythologicalcreaturebuster. *LOL* He and his small group of co-workers are ready to help out with all your paranormal needs. I know that sounds flip and it's treated with far more seriousness in the book. And it makes sense, it fits in this slightly skewed view of our world and its history.

In the fairy realm, there seems to be some crossover with parts of what I assume to be Indian mythology. I don't know a helluva lot about those cultural myths and I admit to just making assumptions based on how the story is going.

From what I gather, Chris and his WW2 bomber crew were attacked by something from the fairy realm and all were killed except for Chris who woke up something like... 30 years later in a field with his plane wreckage. And somehow, Flynn is connected to Chris and wears the face of Chris' lover, Geoff Braxtasomethingorother... I haven't figured that out yet. And something bad is going down in Fairyland - there's some kind of war? It's complicated.

The upshot is, we're left with a HUGE cliffhanger and a ton of unanswered questions. it makes me think that this book and its sequel Dogfighters would have been better served as one large volume. But you know... we don't do things that way in an M/M world. It seems that most M/M readers can't read past 250 - 300 pages max. And even then, it's asking a lot. But I have the second of the two Under the Hill books in my TBR pile so whenever I'm ready I can jump right in to it. (I have a book coming next week - Monday? - that I MUST read right away and then it will be holiday reading.)

I quite totally enjoyed this though and I have been charmed by both Ben and Chris, so the sequel won't languish in the TBR pile for very long. :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tattoos & Teacups by Anna Martin


Well... they can't all be winners, can they? I admit, I bought this one a while ago because the cover was just so stunning and musician/professor and an age difference - worked for me.

Except it wasn't that great.

There was absolutely no conflict in this book, all 200+ pages of it. No conflict between the main characters, no obstacle for them to overcome, no real journey at all. They meet, they are interested in each other, they fall in love, they part for a bit, they get back together and they set up housekeeping. And yes, it was all just that bland.

First off... HUGE pet peeve of mine is the use of the word smirk. Synonyms for this word include, leer, smug, simper, sneer, sly smile.,, It's not cute, it's not attractive, it's not hot - it's obnoxious, insincere and smack-inducing! Unfortunately, the younger of the two MCs does it all the time, ALL THE FREAKIN' TIME and quite frankly it didn't help his likability quotient.

So, Chris is a 23-year old drummer who drums in a band as well as for the symphony orchestra (I found myself wondering if he was inspired by the harpist from the Metallica S&M concert DVD) and he's full of energy, laughter and tattoos. The other MC is named... um... hold on.. .I have to go look it up... Robert. (And that's hysterical because it was one of the big deals, supposedly, between the two that Chris called him "Rob" and no one EVER called him that.) Rob is 32 and boy, is that ancient! ANCIENT, I tell you! Yeah... no... that's not working. This is supposed to be some kind of bone of contention between the two, but quite honestly, it's only given lip-service in the depths of Rob's mind and a few teasing little affectionate asides by Chris.

Oh, and that upbringing/cultural divide between them? Never explored. Robert's Scottishness was a big deal in the first chapter or two, it seemed and then... conveniently set aside. Just like every other set up in the book. Mention it and then sail right by it. Just like the surprising and sudden pull back when Chris has his hand down Rob's pants and about to touch his balls. OMG, NO, don't touch me there! Time passes... it happens once again and Rob confesses about his testicular cancer as a kid and how he only has one testicle. Traumatic, okay... *nodnod* But it's mentioned and Chris makes a few noises of sympathy and that's the end of that.

Chris is invited to come to one of Rob's lectures and in the end he doesn't because he feels uncomfortable. He's barely graduated high school and he doesn't want to look the fool. Rob makes a few understanding noises and that's the end of that.

The characters begin as interesting and you can see how the two would clash as these things do in relationships, but everything is a non-issue. There are no sparks. There are no misunderstandings. Never ONCE was there ever a thought as to ... how the hell are they going to work this out? They work everything out by the end of the damned page!

And then... the last couple of chapters of the book go from being told in the first person (Rob) past POV to being told in the first person (Rob) POV present. It was weird..

And the ending... the ENDING! The lines that are supposed to be final and satisfying and let you close the book with a happy sigh.... all I was doing was wondering when the hell Chris EVER had a problem with drinking tea...

This read to me like a series of vignettes that were written in a fanfic AU and then strung together to make a novel-length narrative.

I had such high hopes for this one... but sadly, it sure didn't deliver.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fatal Shadows by Josh Lanyon


Adrien English Mysteries - Book 1

I do enjoy a good mystery and this one didn't disappoint. This wasn't the first Josh Lanyon work that I've enjoyed but I think it is the one that settles me firmly on the Lanyon bandwagon.

It's not a romance. It's a mystery with a sort of romantic subplot.

Adrien (with an 'e') English is the owner of a used bookstore and an about to be published mystery author. His high school friend is murdered and the adventure begins.

I liked Adrien a lot. He's not perfect, he has flaws, but they are flaws I can relate to. He has moments of uncertainty and confusion. He can be a bit of a smartass at times. And he has bitchy moments. And he basically has my dream job - second hand bookstore and writer. *LOL*

The other characters were nicely formed and those that needed fleshing out were fleshed out. There are a couple of weird ones and I'm looking forward to learning more about them further into the series. I do lament the killing-off of one of them and up until the scene where it happened, I had no idea it was coming.

The mystery was pretty good - it kept me wondering until the last couple of chapters. It really could have gone either way in my mind. And it did keep me turning the pages to find out what was going on - and isn't that the hallmark of a good mystery?

I really enjoy Josh Lanyon's voice too. I like how he writes, the way he puts stuff together, the balance between action, dialogue and exposition and just the overall rhythm of his books. He's good. :)

So I'm a fan. Adrien English has stolen my heart a little bit and I'm looking forward to reading about his next adventure and seeing where that ending - which by the way, was perfect in it's open-endedness - takes us!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Flight of Magpies by KJ Charles


A Charm of Magpies - Book 3

I loved this book. :) Stephen and Crane are among my favourite couples in all of Romancelandia and the opening scene of this installment of their adventures had me squeeing online as I read it. The affectionate banter, the wonderful characterization, the casual sexiness, it all had me grinning from ear to ear.

And then things start to happen. Paranormalish type things. Gruesome murders, theft, pretty yet shifty young men appear on the page. We have Stephen's partner, Esther, with her own challenges. It all seems very disparate at first, but by the time the last chapters roll around, everything hangs together quite nicely.

There's a scene not quite halfway through the book, I think, where Stephen and Crane have an explosive argument. It was so REAL! The author did a wonderful job and had me holding my breath as it played out. I find these books so READABLE.

I think that in this book, the actual paranormal plot, while important and exciting and served to drive the story onward, was really only of secondary importance to the growth of Stephen and Crane's relationship into the strong, walls all down, no holds barred, permanent relationship we've been reading for.

Now, an argument could be made that the hurt and anger they both felt through most of the book was manufactured by outside forces, but I think that what they felt may have been magnified by what was going on, but that there were definite and deep issues that both had to work out. It was all very believable for me and you know, I'm not sure that everything has been perfectly ironed out. Nor should it be. Even if we are looking at the supposed closing of the trilogy and the story of Stephen and Crane. They have their HEA, but there is no doubt in my mind that they will face challenges and hard times and quite honestly, that's how it should be.

I am looking forward to the passage of the torch, so to speak, from Stephen and Crane to Jonah and even more superb writing from KJ Charles.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Magic Mansion by Jordan Castillo Price


In all the M/M reading I've done over the past couple of years, Jordan Castillo Price was always an author that was recommended to me but I never had the chance to follow up on those recs. One day I had a thought strike me that I had never read a romance about magicians and I thought that would be an interesting occupation for a main character and indeed a fascinating world to explore. I mentioned this on Twitter and someone came back with a rec for Magic Mansion with the added bonus that the main characters weren't twenty-somethings or younger. Having always wanted to try JCP, I picked it up.

Magic Mansion was originally written as a serial and unfortunately it shows when reading it as a novel. Also, the fact that it's about a weekly reality TV contest show only added to the weird up and down reading experience I had. It felt as if I was driving on a hilly road or one of those baby rollercoasters with the gentle rise and fall motion. I think this way of writing the story hindered the development of the relationship between John and Ricardo, the two main magicians. At least that's how it felt to me.

There was just so much about how this TV show was being produced and the details of the competitions; so much behind the scenes stuff when I would rather have been focussed on John and Ricardo. I didn't feel as if I got to see their relationship grow and progress from that initial 'coup de foudre' meeting at the auditions. Instead I felt as if we were being given relationship markers along the way. The pair is at this point of their relationship now here... and then at this point here. And it's a shame because I really, really liked both of them! I wanted way more about them and way less about the BTS shenanigans of the TV show. I find myself wondering how much of this lack was because of the way the story was originally published.

There was also the interesting "True Magic" angle. Some magicians have it, others don't. They can sense it in each other... or is it only some of them that can. I don't know what it is really, I wanted to know more about it and how it formed and affected those magicians that possessed the power. And is that the same thing as the "Truth" reading that John seems to be able to do? I don't know... it seemed to be more important to describe each set, each competition down to the last screw and nail than to explore the truly magical side of things. When I first started the book, a couple of chapters in and the "True Magic" was mentioned, I got all excited because I hadn't been expecting anything like this... then sadly... it became a minor thing, hauled out as a deux ex machina I felt.

Don't get me wrong, the tale was enjoyable, the MCs interesting, the supporting players were fun but the whole thing just ... left me feeling a little disappointed, a little flat, a little let down. I will most definitely read JCP again - I have the first PsyCop in my TBR and that's gotten A LOT of praise from people whose opinions I trust. It's just that I felt this book could have been a helluva lot more.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan


A Land Fit for Heroes - Book 1

It took me a long while to really get into this book. It's the first of a trilogy (the final book is out November 20, 2014) which might be why there was so much setting up. So much info dump. So much "back during the war". At times it was a bit of a slog - thank God Richard Morgan creates interesting characters and can write a nice turn of phrase or I'd have probably DNF'ed it.

But I didn't.

I was intrigued by all 3 of the main characters. The blurb from Richard Morgan's website describes them perfectly:

Ringil, the hero of the bloody slaughter at Gallows Gap is a legend to all who don’t know him and a twisted degenerate to those that do. A veteran of the wars against the lizards he makes a living from telling credulous travellers of his exploits. Until one day he is pulled away from his life and into the depths of the Empire’s slave trade. Where he will discover a secret infinitely more frightening than the trade in lives.
Archeth,  pragmatist, cynic and engineer, the last of her race – is called from her work at the whim of the most powerful man in the Empire and sent to its farthest reaches to investigate a demonic incursion against the Empire’s borders. 
Egar Dragonbane, steppe-nomad, one-time fighter for the Empire finds himself entangled in a small-town battle between common sense and religious fervour. But out in the wider world there is something on the move far more alien than any of his tribe’s petty gods.
Anti-social, anti-heroic, and decidedly irritated, all three of them are about to be sent unwillingly forth into a vicious, vigorous and thoroughly unsuspecting fantasy world. Called upon by an Empire that owes them everything and gave them nothing.

Thanks to these 3 I kept reading and for the last quarter of the book I could not put it down. Things finally began to hang together. There was far less telling of things and much more doing. Hopefully, all the meandering we did in the first 3/4s of the book will prove to be more important in Books 2 & 3, especially all the set-up of Ringil's family, his place in it, their society and more about the lizards and The War.

The last oh... 4 or 5 chapters were fascinating. Ringil especially blossomed as an intricate character for me. I love his darkness. Yeah, he was dark in the beginning, but by the end of The Steel Remains, he was positively MOONLESS MIDNIGHT.

A small but important thing that I never got an answer/explanation for was how Archeth's weapons came to be named and why. I do hope we learn more about her antecedents in the following 2 books.

So, while it didn't blow me away, The Steel Remains finished on a high note for me and I will pick up Book 2 at some point.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

One-Eyed Jack by Elizabeth Bear


A Novel of the Promethean Age

I love Elizabeth Bear's work. I love how she layers sentences into paragraphs. I love her way with dialogue. I love the atmosphere with which she imbues her stories. For anyone looking for a juicy read in the fantasy, urban fantasy, mythology turned on its ear she would be one of the first authors I would recommend.

That being said, when she writes in her Promethean Age universe, I always end up feeling as if I've missed something vital in the tale. The "Ahhh... THAT'S what's going on," moment. It's like wine, okay? See... I like wine. I like to think that I can tell the difference between a lousy bottle and a good bottle. But the thing is, once we get into the Really Good Stuff, I don't taste the difference from the good stuff. It's like I have a plateau. *LOL* And that's how I feel about Elizabeth's Promethean Age books. (For the record, I don't get this feeling with her other worlds/universes.)

One-Eyed Jack is really a fun read though, don't get me wrong. Media ghosts... I love it.. media ghosts from early 60's TV join up with American legends and there's a battle over who is going to control, be the genii, the caretaker of Las Vegas and Los Angeles. I think. See this is where it gets... foggy for me. Is there magic? There is to an extent, I'm pretty sure, but the weapon of choice is a selection of guns and the abilities of a pair of the American Legends. But see... I don't really understand or 'grok' the stakes - what will happen to the cities if group A wins... what if group B wins... what if there are no winners? Maybe I need more backstory? I don't really know, but I do know that I'm not as clever as Elizabeth thinks I am.

But still.. imagine how good it is if I still enjoyed the book while feeling as if I just wasn't clever enough to get the whole picture. :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How to Train Your Dom in 5 Easy Steps by Josephine Myles


Fun, sweet, sexy, touching... Josephine Myles does it again, this time, turning one of BDSM Romance's most prevalent tropes on its head.

Most of the time, it's the all-knowing Dominant and the young (usually), exploring submissive he takes under his wing. The sub is usually confused, coming to terms with what he likes, worried about giving up control and every other uncertainty you can imagine. And the wise Dom shows him the way, breaking the hard, world-weary shell around his own emotions at the same time.

Not this time! Jeff is the Dom and he's new to kink, hell, he's new to gay! After breaking up with his long time girlfriend - long time being 14 or so years, he's all about exploring the things Sarah would never allow - except he's not very skilled at it. Enter Eddie, experienced, gay, good-natured, happy sub, totally willing to show Jeff the ropes because he finds Jeff just that hot. :) Which would be all well and good except that Jeff doesn't like boys. :)

And thereby hangs the tale. :)

Jo, as always, writes with her lovely British voice. These are real people, who do real jobs, and have real families and if their love affair is a little shiny and sparkly, I didn't care at all. I loved how both the physical side of their relationship bloomed as their emotions grew. And it wasn't all about the Hawt Sex, Jeff and Eddie found things to talk about, moments to share out of the bedroom and were just totally charming together.

I really appreciated how the kink was written so matter-of-factly - sometimes it comes across as very um... titillating and voyeuristic - and not in a good way. Not here. Jeff's glee at being allowed to do all sorts of things to Eddie and have Eddie love them all, well, it was a lot of fun as well as being steamy hot. I don't get the attraction for having my partner trussed up like a Christmas turkey, but Jeff certainly liked it and THAT made it very hot.

Funny thing... I discovered a personal squick in reading this book. I don't enjoy it when a Dom calls his sub, "bitch". Maybe it was the frequent use by Jeff in this book? I don't know, but I did find it bugging me by about halfway through and even said as much to a close friend I was talking to online in between chapters. But that's a very personal thing.

So, if you're up for a sweet love story that's peppered with humour and enjoy the BDSM aspect, the exchange of power et al... well, this is a great one!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan


This was an odd book, I must say. I didn't feel as if it got going much before the last third. The first two thirds were basically set up for us to get to know the characters and all their 21st century quirks. I kept wanting something... anything to happen. Anything other than more puzzlement. I think this was a book that was trying to hard to be clever, maybe.

To quote Blair on GR (whose description I thought was excellent and right on):

It's a mystery/adventure set in San Francisco, revolving around an out-of-work marketeer and web designer who takes a job as a clerk at the odd little bookshop of the title. He soon realises that there is more to Mr. Penumbra's than meets the eye, and together with a group of his friends, he embarks on a mission to get to the bottom of the shop's real purpose. What follows is a fantastical series of events involving an international secret society and almost impossibly complex codes hidden inside a series of books. It's a collision of ancient mystery and very modern, internet-savvy characters.

Except none of that really starts until the last third of the story. I loved the ideas and I really liked most of the characters that the author created, but something never quite gelled for me. There are some great passages like the following:

So I guess you could say Neel owes me a few favors, except that so many favors have passed between us now that they are no longer distinguishable as individual acts, just a bright haze of loyalty. Our friendship is a nebula.”

So while I wasn't as enthralled and OMG as I had thought I'd be, I did enjoy the read for the most part. The juxtaposition of books vs the internet/technology gave rise to some humourous and thoughtful insights and the important thing to take away from all this is an imperative READ!

(NB: I paused in the reading of this book so I could read Kingdom of Scars.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Kingdom of Scars by Eoin Macken


A terrific novel reminiscent of Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies and Stand By Me. I will freely admit that I bought this book because it was written by Eoin Macken, a favourite actor that I wanted to support. I was prepared for it to stink, but you know what? It DEFINITELY DOES NOT stink!

The novel is set in the suburbs of Dublin and it FEELS like I imagine the 'burbs of Dublin should be -and really, it's not so different from any suburb, anywhere. The prose is rich and evocative, the dialogue clear and unique in my mind's ear and it's just an all-round feast of a read. Kingdom of Scars is Macken's first novel and I hope not his last. He has a talent and flair for writing that needs to be shared, and read by all ages. Macken remembers what it's like to be a teenage boy and shares with us all the uncertainty, bravado, hope and despair of being 15 years old with an artful hand.

I don't read many YA books any more - they don't hold my interest, but this one had me hooked from beginning to end. These kids are real. Flawed, imperfect, growing, dumb as posts and brilliant in the most surprising ways. I knew boys like all these boys here, hell, my own son fits in there somewhere. :) And I knew girls like the girls that make up part of the story, I was one of them way back when.

Treat yourself. Read this book.

An extra bonus is the interview with the author at the end of the book. Eoin Macken has talent, folks!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The 7 Deadly Book Sins

Found this on Hunger for Knowledge's blog and thought I'd give it a shot. :)

The 7 Deadly Book Sins

1. Greed- What is your most expensive book?

To the best of my recollection it would be the original Metallica photo book by Ross Halfin. I paid through the nose on Ebay to add this sucker to my collection!


2. Wrath- What author do you have a love/hate relationship with?

Anne Rice. I love much of her earlier work, including most of the Vampire books and the Mayfair Witches books. Interview with a Vampire, I think, is pretty damned awesome. That being said, she has shown herself to live in her own little navel-gazing world and so many of the statements she's made in the past decade have been way too over the top for me. So... I love a lot of her work but think she's a total nutjob.

3. Gluttony- What book have you devoured over and over again with no shame?
Oh, there are so many! To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Rings, many of Katherine Kurtz's Deryni series, my Trixie Belden books - to be honest, anything I read I read without any kind of shame whatsoever. :)

4. Sloth- Which book have you neglected reading due to laziness?

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clark. I really, really want to read this one, but for some reason I have the sense that it's going to be a slog and I'm going to feel bad for finding it such slow going. One day I will read it. One day.

5. Pride- What book do you most talk about in order to sound like an intellectual reader?

I don't believe that I do that, but if I had to pick something, I'd pick the D'Artangnan Romances by Alexandre Dumas.

6. Lust- What attributes do you find attractive in a male or female character?
Smarts and a sense of humour are most important. As well, I like characters that have depth and that we see growing in their journey.

7. Envy- What book would you most like to receive as a gift?
Back in 1974/1975 when I was working at W. H. Smith, we were selling hardcover copies of Lord of the Rings (all 3 books) that had the most lovely onionskin type pages with gold edging. It came with a slipcover - no dust jacket. And we were selling it for $45, a HUGE amount back in the day. ( I just went to a conversion site and it seems that the buying power of that today is almost $220.) I coveted that book and would LOVE to have a copy. I've not seen one in the past 30 years though.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


So one of the bloggers I follow, The Book Nut, is doing a Bookshelf Tour on her blog and I thought it was a fun idea, so of COURSE, I had to purloin it. :)

Climb aboard for the tour! :) Lots of pics ahead!

First off, in the living room, we have a selection of my hardcovers. Guy Gavriel Kay, Frank Yerby, Tad Williams among others. And those little red ones? Those are my grandfather's Hopalong Cassidy books that I inherited. :)


Behind my desk is a little bookcase that holds music, erotica, how-to writing books, reference and my Rockfic collection. And yes, that is a figurine of a reading lady who is missing her head. I live in hopes of finding it one day in one of the boxes of stuff I have all over the place since the renovation... 6+ years ago. *LOL*


Over by the stairs we find my small bookcase that is full of Nora Roberts and only Nora Roberts. I have a big collection, hardcovers, paperbacks, trade paperbacks and I'm determined to get them all at some point. I'm at 90+ and counting. *LOL* And this bookshelf is stacked two deep as you can see.


In the hallway outside my bedroom door is the bookcase that holds my graphic novels and some reference books, including my grandmother's family bible as well as coffee table sized books. In the blue box are my Metallica and Green Day CDs. :) Oh, and that copy of Tad Williams' Shadowmarch? It actually belongs in the space you can see back in the first pic, on the bottom shelf between The Hedge of Mist and Tigana.


Up in the bed/sitting room we find the bulk of my books. This is a small bookcase that holds favourites. Katherine Kurtz, Anne McCaffrey, Jacqueline Carey, Robin Hobb, Patricia Kennealy and more. These shelves, as you can see, are two deep. I need the room!! :) And that middle shelf isn't quite as bowed as it looks. :) Also, I missed it, but on top of this bookcase is a pile of a dozen books that form part of the hard copy TBR pile.


This bookcase holds some miscellaneous old books on the bottom shelves but on the other two are books that I have yet to shelve in their proper spots. As well as part of the TBR pile.


The bulk of my books are in these Billy shelves from IKEA. On the left hand side is the bookcase filled with fantasy and science fiction and the right hand side is the one that's mostly historical romances, fiction, childrens series, mysteries, etc... Again, these books are two deep. A real pain when I have to look for a specific book! *LOL*


This bookcase is kitty-cornerd to the other two and is filled mostly with classics, hardcovers I inherited from my grandfather, my parents and my aunt and just miscellaneous books that I've picked up over the years.


And this is a snap of the tops of my 3 Billy bookcases where I store magazines and yes... even more hardcovers! *LOL* Most of the books are my hardcover Anne Rice books - the good ones, before she eschewed an editor. ;)


I have one more bookcase, it's an antique, but it's behind a bunch of boxes that I have yet to empty in my sitting room and it's full, mostly, of hardcovers that I got through the Book of the Month club and the Science Fiction Book Club. So sadly, no pic of that. :) I also have an archive box filled with my Star Trek novels and another archive box filled with paperbacks that I don't have room for on my shelves.

I also have a Kobo filled with eBooks. :)

And that's my tour!

Stormhaven by Jordan L. Hawk


Whyborne & Griffin - Book 3

This third installment of the Whyborne & Griffin series continues the love story and paranormal adventures of our stalwart heroes.

I enjoyed this one more than the previous novel. A big part of that was my preference for the undersea menace as opposed to the um... outer space monsters of Threshold, as well as for the whole paranormal side of the plot associated with the 'baddie'. I enjoyed the suspense part of the book a lot. I might have wished for a little more detail and explanation, but that's not really the nature of this series, and that's okay. (Although I could have used more resolution with Kerr, Griffin's father, after what happened at the asylum.)

We also get to meet Griffin's family and learn a little more of his background. He is hiding his relationship with Whyborne from them and leading them to think that he's been cured of his 'unnatural predilections'. And we know how well THAT always goes. :) I found myself giving Christine many internal "Atta girl! You tell him!"s thoughout the story. And while I'm at it, I'd have like to have seen more of her because she's very much a favourite, but I do recognise that W&G are the main characters here. *LOL*

But while I love the boys and all their flaws and quirks, there were times that I found both of them rather whiny and clueless about their relationship. Didn't they learn anything from the previous two books? I mean, I get that Whyborne is insecure about the relationship and the depth of Griffin's feelings for him, but JEEZ, it's like he hasn't grown at all at times. (And that's a big reason why I didn't give Stormhaven 4 stars.) And if Griffin was any more unaware of what was going on with the people closest to him I'd have to accuse him of being a belly-button gazer.

I do hope that the huge strides Whyborne and Griffin have made in their relationship will stick into the next book and beyond. The moments where they FINALLY realise how deep and lasting their feelings for each other are among my most favorite in the book.

In closing, Stormhaven is not without it's problems, in my opinion, but it is a fun and satisfying read and I will definitely be continuing the journey with Whyborne, Griffin, Christine et al. :)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Forbidden Rumspringa by Keira Andrews


Gay Amish Romance - Book 1

I picked this book up because Heidi Cullinan totally lost her shit over it on Twitter the other day. I don't think I've ever heard Heidi gush so much about a book, so of course, being as she's my hero, I had to pick it up.

And I wasn't disappointed. A Forbidden Rumspringa is a beautifully written story about two young Amish gay men and how they fall in love and the tragedies and doubts that haunt their time together. It's not an inspirational story in the genre meaning of the word. Yes, the Amish angle is very, very important to the story, and the author does a wonderful job of being respectful and truthful about the religion and culture and how difficult, nigh on impossible it would be for two young men such as Isaac and David to even admit their feelings to each other, never mind to their families and friends and the general public.

I had a few quibbles with the story. For instance, David seemed to have experience in sexual matters that I don't think would have come from magazines, books or movies and when juxtaposed with Isaac's total ignorance on the matter it was a bit jarring. The sex scenes were very intense and hot, though, don't get me wrong. :) Another thing that bothered me was that David ended up seeming to me to be a bit of a wishy-washy user - which sounds more harsh than I mean it, probably, but if I'm honest, the last couple of chapters cooled me on him.

And then there is the matter of the cliffhanger ending. I think it needed more of a lead up, maybe. Although the story is told from Isaac's POV, I think I found David's abrupt about-face at the end too convenient and wanted more of the why behind it. And then there was the metaphor of the train that ran through the book but was never really exploited come the final chapter, sadly.

So while I'm not as OMG OMG OMG as Heidi was, I did really enjoy the book for the most part - enough to give it 4 stars - but for my taste there were a few things that could have been done differently. :)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Not Fade Away by SE Jakes


Hell or High Water - Book 3.5

Basically it's a series of hot sex scenes that serve to explore the growing trust between Tommy and Prophet. There is nothing wrong with this at all as SE writes wonderful sex scenes. And it's Tommy and Prophet. I love Proph.

A quick and steamy read. :) Good one!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Mélusine by Sarah Monette


Doctrine of Labyrinths - Book 1

Y'know, I'm not quite sure what to think about this book. :) I can safely say that I enjoyed it very much. I can also say that I spent a good part of the books with a tickle of confusion in the back of my thoughts.

Basically, it's the story of two men, Felix and Mildmay, as their lives get turned upside down. Felix Harrowgate is a wizard and Mildmay the Fox is a thief who get thrown together by a catastrophic upheaval in their city of Mélusine.

Sarah Monette is a wonderful writer and a detailed and skilled world-builder. The thoroughness with which she creates her worlds is almost too much at times. Too much for me - hence the tickle of confusion I mentioned. For instance, the way time is told throughout her world. There are two different ways. The non-nobility/non-wizarding folks use a system that is based on multiples of seven. And there are no years, they are termed as indictions. It seems that the wizards and nobility reckon time as we do with years and days and stuff, but there is not a lot of that in Mélusine - maybe in the following books? There are also different types of wizards throughout the different lands, like different religions, and it felt as if we had to meet all of them. There is just a lot of different information that is presented and I'm not convinced it was all needed.

Felix spends the majority of the book descending into madness. It's not easy to read but you certainly experience the depths of his despair and hurt and anger. You also begin to get a handle on how he feels about his relationship with Mildmay.

And Mildmay experiences his own type of madness throughout the book. He's in uncharted territory and feels quite ill-prepared to deal with it all, as well as dealing with Felix.

The whole book felt like it was laying the basis for the real story that is to come. We get to know Felix and Mildmay, but I don't think we come know all of their secrets. We also get to meet a bunch of characters who sort of disappear off the page and I'm left wondering where they are and what they're doing. The resolution of both Felix's and Mildmay's challenges at the end of the book felt rather too easy considering what both had been put through, which is another reason I'm thinking there must be more that's going to pop up and bite us in the next volume of the Doctrine of Labyrinths.

I must also say that the very ending of the book is such that, while not being an actual cliff-hanger (tied to the tracks and the train is coming), you know you HAVE to read the next one. *LOL*

But be that as it may, I enjoy Sarah's writing and her characters are always different and unique. I'll be adding the other books in this series to my TBR pile. :)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Killing Floor by Lee Child


Jack Reacher - Book 1

At first I was going to rate this as 3.5 stars, but then I thought for a moment and decided that, no, it really is more a 4 star read for me because for almost all of it, I resented having to put the book down and take care of other things. *LOL*

For the most part, the book was non-stop plot moving forward. Lots of action, lots of important exchanges of dialogue, lots of simple but thorough scene-setting and the introduction of interesting characters throughout the whole of the novel. Jack Reacher, the main character, is an interesting fellow. At 6' 5", 200+ lbs, he's a very big man. And man of few words we come to know.

Thanks to the introduction written by the author that tells of how Jack came to be, I went into the story with an idea in mind of who and how he would be. Child describes him as somewhat of a "knight-errant" and I'll go along with that. He mentions comparisons to Shane or some of the Zane Grey westerns that my grandfather loved so much. It's a very apt description. As is a kinship with John D. MacDonald's 'Travis McGee' series of mysteries which I love to bits.

The novel is written in the 1st person, so we necessarily see everything through Jack's eyes and hear the story from Jack himself. And maybe that's why the narrative sentences are so short and choppy. I will admit that I tended to read them as longer after a bit. Was that me getting used to it? Maybe. :) As I said on Twitter, though, Lee Child hates commas and loves periods.

The secondary characters were nicely drawn and fleshed out, even though we see them as Jack sees them. I just wish Child had named the lady cop differently. Roscoe just conjures visions of Roscoe Lee Brown far too easily in my brain. *LOL*

The only time the book lost me was in the midst of some of the longer-winded explanations of why the bad guys a) were doing what they were doing, b) how they were able to do it and c)how all the people were intertwined. I felt like my eyes were beginning to glaze over at some points during the final quarter of the book.

There were some terrific plot twists - minor as well as major. I did not see the first biggie coming at ALL, so kudos to Mr. Child. :) And you know what? The story of this town, Margrave, had a feel of the TV show Banshee about it. Not a bad thing. Just interesting.

All in all, a great fun read for folks who like suspense thrillers and a hero who is different and intriguing. I'll be reading more of his adventures, that's for sure.

Box O' Dailey

Box o' Dailey

More of the book collection.

These are my Janet Daileys that I've been collecting... well, since she started writing. *LOL* Yes, there is another layer of books beneath the top. (I had them out of the shelf to add details to the book database.) I have all but 4 of her Americana series. They're all very dated now, but I still love my collection and remember the reads quite fondly. She sure had some crazy hero names though!

My D. E. Stevenson Collection

My D.E. Stevenson collection. I was fine-tuning the Book Collectorz catalogue today and had them all out to check details.

I got most of them from my aunt who was wonderful about catering to my reading addiction. When I was a girl, she would use any occasion to buy me a book. :) D.E. Stevenson was one of her favourite authors and she hooked me on her stuff as well. Sweet, feel-good British romances. :)

Thanks Auntie Blanche!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

10 Books That Made an Impression on Me

As others have done (thanks Liz Loves, it occurred to me that I should add this list here, in my book blog, where I talk about books. *LOL* So, in no particular order, these are 10 books that made an impression on me.

1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.- The first time I read this I was in Mr. Wallace's grade 7 English class and I have read it every couple of years since. It's my favourite book of all time.

2. Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay - This is a close second to To Kill A Mockingbird. It's simply one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. It's a fantasy, yes, but the magic or fantastical parts are far from the most important thing about it. Everything about it is perfect. Including the ending which has the most perfect cliffhanger EVER. And it stops there. No sequel, no series, this is a one shot deal. And couldn't have ended any other way.

3. A Private Gentleman by Heidi Cullinan - An excellent romance. This was the first historical m/m romance I had read and the characters were so beautifully flawed. I think this is the book where I fell in love with Heidi's writing.

4. High Deryni by Katherine Kurtz - This was the first fantasy book I ever read and it began an odyssey that has spanned over 40 years now. At the time, I was a teenager, maybe 14 or 15 and hooked on historical romances. I found this book in a pile of second hand books at my aunt's that had come from a friend of hers. It had kings and queens and, how interesting, magic! So I gave it a try. The Deryni books are still favourites today. :)

5. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas - I was around 12 or 13 when I read this for the first time. It was my dad's book. It was also the first 'classic' I had ever read. I loved it! I have read most of the others in the D'Artagnan romances since.

6. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin (Vol. 3 in the Song of Fire and Ice saga) - This was the book that taught me that authors were not to be trusted and I mean that in the best way, really. I learned that favourite characters are expendable no matter how 'main' they are. I learned what a ruthless storyteller really is and that I could adore an author while hating him with the fire of 10 burning suns.

7. The Golden Hawk by Frank Yerby - The first 'grown-up' book I remember reading. Pirates. Big blond heroes. Action, adventure, romance. A real pot-boiler. :) I LOVE IT!

8. Tailchaser's Song by Tad Williams - Really the most charming anthropomorphic book. Better than Watership Down even and not just because it's about cats! It's a really beautifully written book.

9. Swordspoint by Ellen Kusher - You've seen my love for swashbuckling and historical settings in many of the other books of this list. Swordspoint was special in that it was probably the first book I read where the heroes weren't straight. It's also a terrific story and wonderfully crafted and written.

10. Under the Rushes by Amy Lane - I just recently read this book and I cannot get it out of my mind. Even though I have read a couple of really good books since, I find that when not otherwise occupied, my thoughts continue to stray back to this wonderful world that Amy created and peopled with such enchanting characters. Superhero Steampunk Sci-Fi - that's how I classify it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bone Rider by J. Fally


I LOVED THIS BOOK! Loved it so much I gave it 5 stars which is something I don't do easily these days, since I tightened up my ratings 'criteria'.

I bought this book on an impulse one night near the end of March, after seeing one of my favourite authors, Amy Lane, make a comment on Twitter about how one of the characters was her new book boyfriend and how she was enjoying the book. I am SO glad I followed that impulse!!

Bone Rider is set in contemporary time and is the story of a sentient alien armor system (who ends up naming himself McClane) and Riley the good-natured cowboy who's on the run from a failed relationship with Misha, a Russian mobster hitman. We also meet Misha's best friend, Andrej. His good friend J.C.. Misha's employee/friend Kolya and of course Misha's sister, Maryia. And the military folks including the doctor and the general and the president. All these characters, every last one of them, works for me.

Bone Rider was like a movie on the page. I was hooked from the beginning and could not put it down. The action was fast-paced and the battle scenes, for once, were clear and easy to follow. There were lots of periods of introspection by the characters, especially Riley and Misha, but they didn't feel like info dumps at all - they were perfect insights into the characters and served to move the story forward. There were sex scenes and each and every one of them were integral to the story. Bone Rider is an excellent example of how to write hot, steamy, fun, heartbreaking, intimate sex scenes and make them matter.

Bone Rider is funny too. I laughed out loud so many times, especially with McClane learning the ropes and Riley's reactions to him. And then the camaraderie of the 3 Russians - Misha, Andrej and Kolya - a bunch of smartasses at times and I loved it.

Now I've been pretty immersed in the world of m/m for the past couple of years and when Bone Rider came out back in October/November of 2013 I don't remember much of a buzz at all. I have NO idea why. This book would DEFINITELY appeal to the legions of fans of Abigail Roux and SE Jakes. Is it because it's marketed/catagorised as a Science Fiction/Western? Because really, it's more of an Adventure with futuristic elements. Okay, what's the difference between that an Sci-Fi? Well... McClane, even though he is an alien AI armour system is an actual full-fleshed character as opposed to a piece of futuristic weaponry. The whole book just doesn't have a sci-fi feel to it at all. As far as it being a western.... well, Riley is considered a cowboy, but a modern day cowboy and there are NO horses involved at all - except maybe under the hood of Riley's truck or Kolya's muscle car. So I really think it was, and continues to be erroneously marketed.

Anyway... you like Abi Roux and SE Jakes? You like action/adventure? You like fast-paced novels with great characters, wonderful relationships and fun dialogue? READ THIS BOOK!! I don't give my 5 stars easily, but with Bone Rider, it was a no-brainer!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Think of England by KJ Charles


I loved it! Think of England is the story of Archie Curtis and Daniel da Silva, complete opposites inside and out, and I fell in love with them both. Thrown together by happenstance at a country house at a turn of the century (1904) house party, they soon find out that they have many things in common. And thereby hangs the tale. :)

KJ Charles always does her homework and it shows in this novel. The mystery works. The characters are wonderfully drawn. The setting and atmosphere are artfully presented. The dialogue is perfect for the time period, evocative, real and engaging. The love story is sweet without being saccharine. (Daniel is ANYTHING but saccharine! *LOL*) And it doesn't overwhelm the story. The sex scenes are intimate and hot and the attraction between Archie and Daniel, while sudden and quick, works quite nicely I thought.

I also enjoyed the ladies, Fen and Pat and find myself hoping that if KJ continues to write about the adventures of Archie and Daniel, they won't be left out of the fun.

All in all, a terrific m/m romantic suspense historical novel. Yeah, I would definitely read more about the adventures of Archie and Daniel.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Beyond Temptation by Kit Rocha


Beyond - Book 3.5

I love the Beyond series. I find the world-building fascinating, the characters full and diverse and the plots are usually integral to the development of the main characters. I didn't find it so in this novella.

Beyond Temptation felt like filler to me. This is #3.5 in the Beyond series and I honestly didn't feel the urgency or the 'this love is destined for me' in it. It fell sorta flat. :/ I didn't feel that I got to know Emma at all, other than that she's a tattoo apprentice, likes to strip and has found her family with the O'Kanes. And as for Noah, he's supposed to be the token beta-male, I guess, but he's still built like a brick shithouse and while we got his backstory nicely laid out for us, I didn't feel like I really got to know him the way I've gotten to know other Beyond heroes. (Thank GOD this didn't carry over to Book 4 which features my favourite of all the Beyond characters, male or female, Ace.) The think is, I think that computer whiz Noah could have become one of the best-beloved of the gang with a little more attention.

I was disappointed, but it was still a good erotic read - I just wish the non-sex scenes had carried the weight the sex scenes did.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Under the Rushes by Amy Lane


The Grande Dame of Angst delivers something unexpected in this out of the ordinary novel. Most folks know Amy as the talented author of contemporary angsty wonderful gay romances, peopled with characters that you fall in love with and suffer right along with them when they get put through the wringer, physically, emotionally and even spiritually. Well we have that here, but it's the setting that's so different - if I were categorise this book, I would call it a romantic steampunky superhero sci-fi novel. The cover sort of screams traditional steampunk, but it's more than that. It's like steampunk set on Victorian Aldebaron with superheroes.

One of the many things that Amy writes well is the creation of a family - sometimes it's a family of outcasts, sometimes a family of necessity, sometimes a family of circumstance but always a family of love, protection, acceptance and always of hope. Even in the darkest of hours - and believe me, Amy delivers on those - even in the darkest hours, there is always a tiny glimmer of hope.

The two main characters, Dorjan and Taern have their fair share of tragedy and then some in their pasts and indeed in their present as well, but they find each other. Despite everything, including themselves, they find each other. They are lovely and I wept of both happiness and sadness for them and their love story unfolded. Then there is Areau, Dori's best friend and close to the most damaged character that I think Amy has ever written. (At least that I have read). I ended up loving him the best, I think. And then Krissa and Mrs. Wrinkles and Madame M... such WONDERFUL secondary characters. And the baddies... so bad and nasty and weak, driven by greed and a lust for power.

Amy has given us a tale frought with sadness and danger, but also imbued it with love and hope and trust. The world-building is not intense but it works as the foundation for the story it serves. The creations of Nyx and then Cricket were so much the Batman and Robin growing into Nightwing, of my mind and since I have been an UBER fan of Robin/Nightwing/Dick Grayson from the age of 8 or 9 (that's back in 1964 kids!) it delighted me no end.

I love this book with all the love I feel for the Promise series and Clear Water and while it may have small imperfections to the genre purists out there, it's a 5-star read for me. :)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Thousand Names by Django Wexler


The Shadow Campaigns - Book 1

I loved this book. :) I actually surprised myself by how much I enjoyed it. I had it on my Christmas list because I'd read in numerous places that people had enjoyed it and the blurb appealed to me, so on the list it went. My son bought it for me and I finally cracked it open last week. And couldn't put it down. Sadly, most of my reading is done before dropping off to sleep, so I never seemed able to read as much of it as I would have liked in one sitting. *LOL*

Anyway... it was the characters that caught hold of me from the beginning. Marcus d'Ivoire, Winter Ihernglass, Colonel Janus and the trio of corporals, Bobby, Graff and Folsom, Lieutenant Fitz; they drew me into the story from the get-go. And the world-building and scene-setting was thorough without being boringly over-whelming - a trap many fantasy authors fall into. And there are no elves, trolls, dwarves, unicorns or wild wizards on mountain tops. *LOL* The fantasy here is more of a Game of Thrones type than a Lord of the Rings.

It's a military fantasy and made me think of the Sharpe books by Bernard Cornwell, books by Larry Bond without the techno, books by Harold Coyle and even the Richard Bolitho books by Alexander Kent. The action takes place in a setting I thought of as being similar to Northern Africa and into the desert. There's some magic, but not a whole lot, just enough for the important bits. The Thousand Names are seldom mentioned even though they become a very pivotal plot point and then it's like... OH OF COURSE! :) I said that to myself a few times during the book when certain reveals came.

The adventure wraps up quite neatly, but the story is by no means finished. There's a cliff-hanger, but it's not one where you scream and throw the book across the room. It feels natural. *LOL* Actually, it's kind of like a movie in the Marvel series of films.

Django Wexler has written a juicy, enthralling, action/adventure thrill-ride with some wonderful characters and I can't wait to get a hold of book 2!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

You Know What? (A Rant)

Twitter just doesn't have enough damned characters! I need to express my feelings and thoughts, dammit! Is it a full moon? *goes to check* Nope, not a full moon, so just things pissing me off. *LOL*

Here we go...

The term TSTL aka Too Stupid To Live. You see this term all over the place in discussions about romance novels of all sub genres - fantasy, PNR, suspense, urban fantasy etc... Writers, reviewers and readers all use it ad nauseum and it's always used to talk about the heroine of the novel. I have seen others try and use it in fandoms, media fandoms in talking about TV shows, but not that often, yet always talking about women. So, you say, what's the problem? So many of these romance heroines are dumb and shame on the authors for writing them that way and yadda yadda yadda but, all you people standing up for the rights of women, and denouncing the rape culture in our society, and calling out all the things that denigrate and insult and belittle women.... TOO STUPID TO LIVE??? What is THAT? You're agreeing that women, if they make the wrong choices should die??

NO ONE is TSTL. Really. And in this case it only adds to the misogyny and all these women complaining about how women are being written... it's kind of hypocritical. It's like... YAY for the strong, multi-faceted, smart portrayal of women, but those ones here? TSTL. Do you see the problem? The less than clever, brave, well-rounded are not worthy of life.

I know it's a clever, catchy, pithy little phrase/acronym, but isn't it really just feeding the misogyny?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Beyond Solitude by Kit Rocha

3.5. STARS

Beyond - Book 4.5

I hadn't been planning to read this novella just yet, but when I ended up in the hospital ER with my son (kidney stone), it was the perfect read to take my mind off my worries.

First off, let me say that the reason I gave it 3.5 stars instead of 4 is because it was too damned short and the consequence of that was that I didn't learn nearly as much about Ford as I wanted to. Mia was a little more fleshed out, I thought, but I could have gotten deeper into what makes her tick too.

I think Ford may just be my second favourite male character in the Beyond books, after Ace. The read I get from what we're given in the book is that he's a little older than most of the other O'Kanes. And he thinks before he acts for the most part. And I like both of those things.

I liked Mia a lot too. I liked how she pretty much understood what Ford was dealing with after his accident from pretty much the beginning and acted accordingly. She read as a lot younger than Ford, but I thought they fit together right well from the very beginning. It felt to me that their chemistry was instant and it was shown through the simple parts of their interaction. I didn't need the gutpunches and the flushes etc... to get it, you know? But when those did come, it was perfectly right - and good. :)

As always, the intimate scenes - be they filled with lots of steamy, hot sex or just a random touch and a look - were excellently done. And they were the characters' own scenes. They weren't a rewrite of any of the others that have come before in the Beyond series and that's not always the case in these romantic series.

I just wanted MORE! I wanted more scenes like the one where Ford and Mia went on their motorcycle ride outside of the sector. I wanted to see more of how Mia was settling in with the core community of the O'Kanes, making friends etc... and see more of how Ford was healing and how the two of them were creating their life together. And more Ford period. :)

I love this series and can't wait until the next one comes out!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Noble Metals by L.A. Witt


Metals - Book 1

That was disappointing. :( This is a book that I had marked for a long time to buy because I generally enjoy the author and I had been wanting to discover steampunk. Unfortunately, it had been pulled from the original publisher and was in the process of being added to and re-issued by the author. "(Publisher's Note: This book was previously published by a different press; it has since been edited extensively and expanded by over 10,000 words.)"

Okay, I could be patient; it's not like I don't have a kajillion books in my TBR pile. Sadly, the book was not worth the wait.

The main characters, Robert and John, are flat. I have no further understanding today of their wants, needs, motivations, raisons d'etre or anything than I had reading page one. John is a scientist and his life's work rests in inventing/creating/discovering... something that I think is similar radio and TV. He's in competition with Tesla and Edison and this is what drives him to the gold fields of the Yukon.

Robert is a tanner/farmer's son. One of - I originally thought 4 but maybe it was only 3 - brothers who go north because.... I dunno, they want gold. One of the brothers dies and the other leaves after Robert loses all the group's money gambling and so Robert becomes the only male prostitute in the brothel in Seattle. That's where he meets John. They have The Good Sex and then John is hiring Robert to accompany him to the gold fields. I think Robert just doesn't want to go back to the family farm/tanning business so he needs gold. I THINK that's his motivation, I'm not sure. John, he's looking for platinum for his inventions and he's being chased by a bunch of bad guys working for someone named Sidney.

The author has done research on the Gold Rush, the Klondike and the Chilkoot Pass and the steampunk elements (one of the main reasons I wanted to read the book) were an integral part of the story and well thought out. The writing remains easy and enjoyable to read but the most important thing to me, the characters and their growth, well... it was a major letdown. The were rather cardboard and really, I saw no compelling reason that they should be wanting to get together in the face of all odds other than that they had The Good Sex. A few passing references as to how they talked a lot on their journey doesn't cut it for me.

So all in all, rather disappointing. There's a second book in this 'Metals' universe coming in October, and while the blurb sounds good, the book clocks in at about 10,000 words less than Noble Metals so I'm tempted to think that the things that bugged me in this book will be even more apparent in the next. So while Precious Metals might be on my radar, I don't think it will be an autobuy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Next by Rafe Haze


Oh, dear Lord. I don't even know where to begin with this. Let me start off by saying that the premise is terrific. Rear Window-esque gay suspense. Instead of the broken leg that kept Jimmy Stewart apartment-bound in the movie, what keeps our nameless (at least I can't remember if the guy has a name) songwriter protagonist apartment-bound is crippling agoraphobia. That's why it gets a star and a half. The ideas.

What he sees through his window... when he's brave enough to open the curtains is a mixture of sadness, heartache, pathos, voyeuristic sex, and murder? Enter the hot, sexy, beautiful, god-like detective with the dimples and sweet smile - I think it was sweet, but the author is trying so hard to write Like A Guy that words like sweet aren't used unless we're talking about sugar in coffee. See... it occurs to me that the author seems like he's trying hard to show that without a doubt, he's a Guy.

This was one of the few times I felt compelled to take notes as I read because I just couldn't contain my WTFery. And here are some of those notes...

I suspect that the author thinks he's being edgy, but the language is close on purple prose at times. It's flowery and overblown and diminishes whatever story he's trying to tell by swamping the actual narrative.

Everything is stated in 3's... adjectives... descriptive clauses... portions of sentences. Yeah, just like what I just did there. All the freaking time! Does the protagonist have a deep thought or a sudden insight? Let's make sure we repeat it at least 3 times in different fashions to make certain the readers get it.

By the halfway point, I don't know if this is a story about the songwriter and the detective, the disappearance of the songwriter's neighbours, the songwriter's past with his brother, parents, grandfather, the songwriter going slowly insane, what's going on in the Perfect Family's apartment... I just have NO idea.

And how the guy can see SO clearly into the apartment across the courtyard is beyond me! The details of what he sees... incredible. The guy should be an elite sniper instead of a failed songwriter.

The author is very, very enamoured of metaphors to get his point across - there are a MILLION of them. Everything is like something else.

Then there's this gem of a paragraph:

"In lust-driven swiftness, Mr. Perfect bent over the bed, his stomach on the shiny quilt, his arms in front of him, stretched out to the pillows, burying his nose and forehead into the quilt, with his legs bent at perfect right angles down to the floor, his muscular hairy globes thrust into the air. With one hand strangling the pillow in front of him, he reached with his other to pull Ruben's dick between his bulging lobes.

The Peasant was crowning the King."

I can't count the times I was treated to globes, lobes and other non-sexy euphamisms. Which, you know, okay fine, this isn't marketed as erotica, but if you're writing a sex scene don't you want it to be sexy? Your mileage may vary, I guess.

Another goodie...

"The knob at the end of his thick, fleshy rope swung like Tarzan down to his knee and picked up Jane at the bottom."

Well, that certainly sounds appetizing. *eyeroll*

Dear Lord, we've gone from countless 'members' and 'poles' to now... 'hot rod'. And I've not mentioned all the various usages of 'meat'.

"I found his puckered asshole shining as smooth and pink as a raw breast of chicken."

Hot and sexy isn't it? *more eye rolling*

I mean, SERIOUSLY! The guy has just acknowledged that he might like guys 'in that way' and has given his first blow job (deepthroating too) and now ... now... he's RIMMING THE GUY???

And of course, all the bouldery muscles, hot and heavy meat, globes and lobes... all this manages to give our protag an insta-cure for his agoraphobia AND a very high level of gay sex proficiency.

You know... this could have been a terrific novel - had it been written by someone else. I kept thinking that through the last half of the book. The idea is great, the backstory of the protag is fascinating, the mystery (although I thought it needed more focus) was kinda cool... it just... well, the whole book felt like Authorial Masturbation to me. So much of it read like bad porn and I was so disappointed. This could have been a terrific livre noir in another author's hands. I'll not be checking out anything by this author again.