Monthly Archives: December 2014

Bridges by M.J. O’Shea

11989858Title: Bridges (Bridges, Book 1)
Author: M.J. O’Shea
Published: July 4, 2011
Pages: 27
Publisher: Goodreads M/M Romance Group
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:
You know that cliche about the kid on the playground that is mortal enemies with the other kid he’s secretly crushing on? Dallas and Brooklyn are exactly that personified in Bridges by M.J. O’Shea. With a rough start in childhood, they never did get along and actively antagonized each other before eventually just completely losing sight of each other until they find themselves stuck working together in the summer after high school. And it’s then that they both learn that maybe they weren’t destined to be enemies after all. This one is short, sweet, and cute. I enjoyed it and recommend it as a quick and fun read (it’s only ~27 pages).

Nor Iron Bars a Cage by Kaje Harper

18003646Title: Nor Iron Bars a Cage
Author: Kaje Harper
Published: June 1, 2013
Pages: 279
Publisher: Goodreads M/M Romance Group
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:
I will admit that I’m a bit of a sucker for a good fantasy story with magic and royalty and impending doom. You add in an element of m/m content and I’m definitely there. And this story had those things that I enjoy and generally, the story was told very well.

But there were a few things that ended up detracting from my overall opinion of the book. For one, Lyon seems to get over his PTSD really suddenly and inconsistently. Second, there are parts where the book really, really drags – discussions that likely don’t need to be relayed because they have no bearing on the overall plot and are secondary to the main characters and story. Third, Lyon’s reluctance to relocate permanently – something he’s been adamant about – just seems glossed over at the end.

That said, Lyon and Tobin are interesting characters and seem to be great together and I enjoyed this one.

Screw the Fags by Josephine Myles

17405860Title: Screw the Fags (Screwing the System, Book 1.5)
Author: Josephine Myles
Published: February 21, 2013
Pages: 39
Publisher: Josephine Myles
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:
Cosmo wants a car for his birthday.  His boyfriend, Alasdair, decides to make it a quid pro quo situation: Cosmo can have a car if he quits smoking.  Knowing it’s not an easy feat, Alasdair brings Cosmo with him  to the office and finds some creative ways to keep his mind off his cravings.

I’m not sure if I’m missing something having not read the first book in this series (though I’ve seen many people say it doesn’t tie too much into the previous installment, and as a short, I’m guessing it probably doesn’t), but I really couldn’t get into this too much.  It’s definitely well-written and the characters are dynamic and engaging, but the situations they’re in and how the story plays out was a bit too outlandish for me, personally.

Pressure Head by J.L. Merrow

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Title: Pressure Head (The Plumber’s Mate, Book 1)
Author: J.L. Merrow
Published: September 18, 2012
Pages: 279
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:
Tom Paretski isn’t just an ordinary plumber.  He has a special talent–one for finding things that people are trying to hid–that gives him unique insights into people and places.  He’s sometimes called on by the local police to help with their investigations, so it’s not entirely out of the ordinary when it’s asked to help with a case of a missing woman.  But what makes this case unique is the involvement of private investigator Phil Morrison, Tom’s childhood crush and a man partly responsible for an injury that left Tom with a messed up hip that still bothers him to this day.  But has Phil changed or is he still the same macho bully Tom remembers?  Can the two of them really work together on the case?  And what is it that Phil really wants from Tom?

As interesting as the description might be, I found this to be an enjoyable light mystery.  Obviously there is heavy content here between the disappearing people, murder, possible suicides, and much unresolved childhood angst, but I really enjoyed Tom as a character and the story is an easy and engaging read.  I definitely look forward to continuing with this series and seeing what’s in store for this interesting pair…

The Gift of Books

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As the holidays are fast approaching, I have to confess that almost everyone on my gift list this year is getting a book.  I know some people roll their eyes at the idea, but I personally think that books are an excellent gift and with the wide range available, it’s not difficult to find something that matches the interests of everyone one of your recipients this year.

Here are a few of the reasons books have become my gift du jour this season–

1. A book is the gift of entertainment and adventure.  Books take people on a journey–through history, fantasy, the shop down the street–in a way that nothing else can.  A book can put someone right into the action (even in a biography) and transport them anywhere through their imagination.  Some might say television and movies are just as capable of that journey, but there’s a difference between a world on the screen and a world in your head.

2. There’s a book for everyone.  There really is a book for every interest.  This year, I’m giving Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet (a children’s book) to a niece, City of Stairs (a fantasy novel) to a sibling, and The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D’oh! of Homer (a non-fiction philosophy text based on the words and actions of a fictional character) to a friend.  I might even throw in Pacific Northwest: Land of Light and Water (a coffee table book) for one of my roommates.  Books are a perfect choice for those hard-to-buy-for people on your list.

3. Giving books can be incredibly convenient.  With all of the online retailers and publisher bookshops, it’s very easy to seek out the right book and order it right from your own home.  And if ebooks are your fancy (or those of your recipients) many websites now have built in ‘Send this as a gift’ options allowing your gifts to be delivered either through email or directly to the web account of the lucky reader.  (Of course, if you’re like me and you enjoy spending time in bookstores, it’s another fun excuse to spend a few hours at your favorite haunt.)

And maybe even with all of my excitement, you’re still not convinced.  Or maybe you’re keen on the idea and you just don’t think anyone on your list would be interested in receiving a book.  Well, there are still ways to give books this holiday season with only a little effort on your part:

Read-Give-Share-728x90-52cf1b3672986eefe10df5ee6e7ac40cWe Give Books is a free website that offers free online access to award-winning children’s books.  During the holiday season, for every book read on their site, they are donating two books to children in need (up to 10,000 books per week).  The giving drive runs through January 4th, so you have time, even after the holidays, to make an impact.  Also, it’s a great chance to share reading with a young person in your life (or to take a moment to enjoy a nice children’s book yourself–go ahead, you’re entitled).

My Fair Captain by J.L. Langley

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Title: My Fair Captain (Sci-Regency, Book 1)
Author: J.L. Langley
Published: June 12, 2007
Pages: 312
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book and it pretty much blew me away. Regency, space, science fiction, subterfuge, military, romance, fun characters, and so on and so on – many, many wonderful things in one book. I adored all of the characters – especially Nate and Aiden – and found this one to be extremely difficult to put down. Definitely looking forward to what happens for everyone in future books (and how the overall plot progresses, too)…

The Thing I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know by Brent Hartinger

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Title: The Think I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know (Russel Middlebrook: The Futon Years, Book 1)
Author: Brent Hartinger
Published: December 15, 2014
Pages: 256
Publisher: Buddha Kitty Books
Author’s Book Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:

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

Russel Middlebrook is in his early twenties, living in Seattle with his two best friends from high school, and trying to figure out what to do with his life.  Splitting his time between two jobs, neither of which he really enjoys, he feels a bit aimless.  Everyone else seems to have figured out what they want from life, and while Russel knows he wants more than just random hookups and jobs that don’t leave him fulfilled, he doesn’t know how to solve his problem.  After he saves the life of Vernie Rose while working as a lifeguard and she becomes a fast friend, Russel starts to see things differently.  And when his high school romance, Kevin Land, shows up, Russle begins to center in on exactly what he wants.

I read and enjoyed the first series of Russel Middlebrook books.  I found them meaningful and I enjoyed experiencing the development of Russel as a character.  Although we’ve jumped ahead a few years with this installment, it’s clear that this book is still in keeping with the style of the previous series and it seems part of the same world.

The story itself here is very engaging.  It moves at a good pace (for the most part) and the overall story arc flows well.  Russel’s friends Gunnar and Min seem a bit more subdued here than in previous books, but that made sense to me as Russel is obviously more focused on himself in this book than he was in the earlier series.

I did find myself cringing just a bit at the reappearance of Kevin.  While I definitely enjoy and understand a good second-chance-at-love (or in this case I think it’s something like fourth-chance-at-love) story, it was just slightly disappointing to find Russel’s life suddenly revolving around this same guy once again.  I would have liked to see Russel develop some sort of meaningful connection with someone else to remind him that he, in fact, can do so (Otto was mentioned VERY briefly here with no real context–even just acknowledging that relationship would possibly have helped, I think).

That said, I do look forward to what Russel’s big move brings for him in the next installment…

Dirty Kiss by Rhys Ford

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Title: Dirty Kiss (Cole McGinnis, Book 1)
Author: Rhys Ford
Published: July 1, 2011
Pages: 216
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:
Cop-turned-private-investigator Cole McGinnis agrees to investigate a suicide on behalf of his brother’s employer.  While the case seems easy, Cole quickly finds there are layers to the death that he had not imagined–and some of those layers leave him in danger.  During the course of the investigation, Cole crosses paths with the dead man’s cousin, Jae-Min, and finds feelings stirred inside himself that he may not be ready for.  He’s still getting over the death of his former boyfriend, Rick, in an incident that left him scarred and injured.  But Cole can’t shake Jae-Min and feels a need to be there for him when it seems Jae-Min is in danger, as well.

There’s a well-written and engaging mystery here with dashes of romance.  I find it the mark of a good mystery if the author can keep me guessing until closer to the end of the book and Rhys Ford did just that with this book.  There are enough twists and turns to keep you wondering just who is responsible and exactly why everything has happened.  The interactions between Jae-Min and Cole threw me for a bit of a loop, though, and I struggled with Jae’s constant hemming and hawing regarding the relationship.  That said, it’s an enjoyable read and I recommend it.

A Taste of Love by Andrew Grey

ATasteofLove

Title: A Taste of Love (Of Love, Book 1)
Author: Andrew Grey
Published: November 8, 2010
Pages: 199
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:
Darryl can’t really complain about the fact that his restaurant is doing so well–except that he needs to hire more staff to cover the lunch rush. Enter Billy, a young man who desperately needs a job and shows promise. Darryl hires him and is very impressed by how quickly he picks up the job and his work ethic. But Billy has a secret that he won’t be able to keep forever and Darryl is faced with the ethical dilemma of finding himself incredibly attracted to one of his staff. And each of them has something more lurking in their past that might cause everything to unravel.

This was an adorable and sweet story. It was very easy to connect with both Darryl and Billy and the connection between the two of them builds easily. It’s interesting to see the ways in which these two grow–individually and together–over the course of the book. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows and parts of hit are truly heart-rending, but I really did enjoy this one.

One thing that did sort of throw me, though, is the way Darryl’s past trauma is handled. He’s been carrying major issues/doubts/beliefs about his sexuality for most of his life and they seem to be magically lifted after one quick phone call with his parents. While the point of the call is to reassure him that what he believes happened wasn’t the truth, it just doesn’t seem like that’s something that could just change like the flip of a switch. And that’s what gets this three stars from me, because while I enjoyed the story and recommend it, it did have a hard time trying to look past that major unrealistic plot point.

The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd

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Title: The Vast Fields of Ordinary
Author: Nick Burd
Published: May 14, 2009
Pages: 309
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Review:
The last summer before Dade goes to college is a time when everything changes. And that’s not a bad thing – he wouldn’t mind a change from his closeted friend with benefits and hostile, homophobic peers and a way to get away from his parents’ crumbling marriage. When he meets Alex Kincaid, he finds that he can and should be willing to expect more for himself.

Nick Burd presents us with an incredibly well-written tale about Dade and the people in his life. This coming-of-age story is one that seems to capture what it means to grow up, to go from being a teenager to being an adult. There’s no instant moment that it happens, but when it does, we change as people and we change how we see the world. And Dade is no exception.

Content warning: mentions of suicide