Tag Archives: published: 2013-10

Slide by Garrett Leigh

Slide

Slide by Garrett Leigh

Series: Roads, Book 1
Published by: Dreamspinner Press on October 14, 2013
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Tattoo artist Ash has trouble trusting people. A life that started in foster care and ended on the streets taught him to be self-reliant. Which is why even he is surprised when he starts to fall for his paramedic roommate, Pete, and the feelings seem to be mutual. What he finds with Pete helps to keep his demons at bay, and he thinks he may just be able to make it. But it can take quite a bit to exorcise the ghosts that haunt us. And a series of unexpected events and miscommunications send everything crashing down for Pete and Ash, leaving them unsure if they will be able to piece everything back together…

Sometimes it is easy to forget that bring able to trust someone, to give them your heart and really mean it, can be a scary and difficult prospect. And that’s not just for those who have experienced heartbreak, abuse, or violence in their past. But those experiences certainly complicate matters in ways that we can’t always understand. By recognizing this and understanding that everyone brings things to a relationship that are beyond their control, perhaps we can be a bit easier on ourselves and give ourselves permission to love freely, to trust another person, and to really engage. Some deep themes here in what is a well-written story of acknowledging and confronting the past rather than simply hoping it will go away.

Last Train to Istanbul by Ayşe Kulin

Last Train to Istanbul

Last Train to Istanbul by Ayşe Kulin

Published by: AmazonCrossing on October 8, 2013 (translation)
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Selva is the daughter of a traditional Turkish man who disowned her when she decided to marry Rafael Alfandari, son of a prominent physician–and a Jew. As much as it pained her to lose the connection to her family, Selva had to follow her heart. And to get out of the shadow of disapproval from both sets of parents, Selva and Rafael relocated to France where they had a son and made a life for themselves. But things changed quickly when the Nazis invaded France and began seeking out and rounding up Jews. While Turkey, being neutral in the conflict, has been able to keep some of their Jewish citizens from being taken, they worry that they may not be able to protect them in the face of continuing extreme approaches by Nazi officials. In an effort to keep their citizens safe, Turkish officials arrange for a train to bring a single car of Turkish citizens home. But for people like Selva, whose community includes friends who are not Turkish but are clearly in danger, there’s a compulsion to take a risk to protect them. And it’s a risk that could lead to consequences for everyone…

This is a wonderfully-written and well-researched piece of writing that I am so glad I took the time to read. While this period of humanity’s history is challenging to approach and read about, I think it’s incredibly important that we don’t simply ignore it. And thankfully this story provides the contrast between those who acted with very little regard for others and those who are willing to risk themselves in service of doing what’s right. You’ll quickly become connected to these characters. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll enjoy an excellent story that embodies the better aspects of our nature.

Double Full by Kindle Alexander

Double Full

Double Full by Kindle Alexander

Series: Nice Guys, Book 1
Published by: Kindle Alexander on October 7, 2013
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Star quarterback Colton Michaels takes a chance one night in the locker room during his senior year of college: he lets cheerleader Jace Montgomery know he finds him attractive. The two share an intense sexual moment before parting ways. Then Colt takes it a step further, inviting Jace to spend the break with him in Hawaii. But after a few bliss-filled days in paradise, Colt’s world comes crashing down. The reality of his future as a professional football star and a continued relationship with Jace are in direct conflict. And those around Colt make it clear what will happen to him–and to Jace–if things continue. Colt is left only with his career and alcohol to get him through his loss.

Heartbroken by Colt’s abandonment, Jace managed to make the best of things. He’s built the largest and most successful cheerleading gym in the country. And while his success has brought him some fulfillment, there’s something missing. So when Colt shows up in Hawaii when Jace is there on vacation, his heart leaps at the chance to have Colt back in his life after a ten-year absence. But he also knows he can’t go through losing Colt all over again. Can Colt really reconcile a life with Jace and his career? Can Jace find a way to trust that Colt will stay this time? And what of those outside forces that interfered the first time they found each other? Will they let them ride off into the sunset?

Yeah, yeah. There seems to be no shortage of the “jock must stay in the closet to have a professional career” m/m romance stories these days. It’s such a common trope that the sheer volume alone must tell us that there are more than a handful of men living this life at present. And it also makes one wonder when we will reach the day where we read one of these and go “really?” But the fact remains, it is still culturally a “thing.”

What makes this one different is the very real outside forces that are stopping Colt from living his life the way he would like. It’s not so much that he fears what his team or the fans will say. No, he has some incredible family pressures, threats of violence, and legitimate reasons to fear for Jace’s safety. I can assure you that you will find Colt’s father disgusting. But there are still those who have to live Colt’s reality in this regard too.

In our lives, we have to make choices. And there are moments where we have to weigh following our hearts or following our heads. And sometimes we have to decide if we want to follow our heart in one direction or go the opposite–both showing that we care, just in different ways. To love takes courage, even when it’s not in the face of physical violence. In caring for someone and embracing them fully, we risk giving up parts of ourselves we can’t get back. We risk losing them and never being able to fill the hole that is left when they go. But we gain loving support in return. We gain the opportunity live our lives fully. We gain a truth that isn’t found in any other act…

Drinker Class X by Sasha L. Miller

Drinker Class X

Drinker Class X by Sasha L. Miller

Published by: Less Than Three Press on October 30, 2013
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Laurence works in law enforcement, tracking vampires who’ve gone rogue by bucking the rules of drinking. But when he’s bitten on the job, everything changes. Now he’s a drinker. He needs to adjust to a whole new lifestyle. He also needs to learn self-control to follow the rules. It’s only if he can prove he can follow the rules that he can return to work.

To do this, Laurence must meet with a court-appointed psychiatrist. Dr. Ira Ashwood specializes in newly-turned drinkers. And while Laurence is not one for opening up about his feelings, he finds there’s something about Dr. Ashwood that feels comfortable. And then there’s the fact that the man is attractive. But everything becomes complicated when Laurence finds Dr. Ashwood has a connection to his social life. And even more so when a connection between the doctor and one of Laurence’s colleagues comes to light. In short, there’s far more to this psychologist than Laurence ever could have imagined.

This isn’t a too long of a story, and it’s interesting enough to keep readers engaged for that length. The character interactions and the mystery provide a few unexpected twists. But it also doesn’t take too much sleuthing to pinpoint the right suspect when things go south.

What is lacking here is a solid foundation for the world in which the story takes place. It comes together as the story progresses. But I do think readers will find they start at a bit of a loss. As I got closer to the end, things fell into place, but some readers might not be as comfortable with that approach. And it did make some pieces in the beginning a bit difficult to follow.

But it is an enjoyable read and it’s entertaining enough for sure.

My Only Sunshine by Rowan McAllister

The Details

My Only Sunshine

 

Title: My Only Sunshine
Author: Rowan McAllister
Published: October 4, 2013
Pages: 226
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★★☆

The Review

Tanner Wallis is in dire straits. Having run away from the hospital after he and his boyfriend were attacked on the street, he has nowhere to turn. After being robbed and dumped by his latest ride, things only get worse when he stumbles onto a brutal attack on a cow and then is discovered at the scene of the crime by the owner of the ranch. But Tanner does his best to convince him–Mason Seidel–that he was only a witness. Seeing Tanner’s condition, Mason offers to let him stay on the ranch for a few days until he’s well enough to continue on his way.

The last thing Mason needs is trouble on the ranch. He’s recently returned to help run things after his father–who kicked him out of the house a decade earlier for being gay–suffered a debilitating stroke. Things are still strained between Mason and his father, but he does his best considering everything that’s happened. And considering his father’s beliefs, Mason knows he should let Tanner heal up and be on his way. But something about the younger man attracts him and that something proves extremely difficult to deny…

With this being such complicated and challenging story, Rowan McAllister’s choice of title–<i>My Only Sunshine</i>–seems incredibly appropriate to me. In so many ways, both Tanner and Mason are living lives that are shadowed by clouds and storms, neither every really knowing when things will let up. But when they find each other, it seems like there might be a ray of light breaking through. The question of whether it will be enough to make the clouds go away is one that lingers there for them both for some time, neither really knowing if they could or should be the redemption and comfort that they both so desperately need. And it’s certainly a well-written story, as well.

[Content warnings: descriptions of violence/hate crime, character with PTSD, violence against animals]

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant_DemiJacket_WetProofTest.inddTitle: Allegiant (Divergent, Book 3)
Author: Veronica Roth
Published: October 22, 2013
Pages: 526
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publisher Link: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:

After learning the truth about their city, Four and Tris need to go beyond its walls to see what is beyond. They are Divergent and are the point of the experiment, after all. So with the help of a few others, they will defy the city’s new leadership and make contact with the outside world. But is what they find the truth? After everything they’ve been through, they’re almost conditioned now to question authority and what they’re told. And that’s something that could save their lives…or just as easily get them killed.

I enjoyed this so much more than the second installment. The action picks back up here and there is the unique factor of switching the narration between the viewpoints of Tris and Four. As a reader, I felt like it was great to get more insight into Four’s thought process and by following them both, the reader knows more about what is going on than in the previous books. This was also very interesting to me because as I reached the end of the book, I felt like the overall story is just as much (or perhaps even more so) about Four as it is Tris, and understanding him better made the ending so much easier to accept. I know many people don’t like the way this ended, but I honestly can’t see it ending any other way. (And here’s hoping the films stay true to the books in this regard and don’t try to change it to mollify the masses…)

Aftermath by Alexis Hall

18739317Title: Aftermath (Glitterland, Book 1.5)
Author: Alexis Hall
Published: October 28, 2013
Pages: 28
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Publisher Link: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

If you’ve read Glitterland, I’m sure you probably wanted more.  What happens next?  Do Ash and Darian truly reconcile?  Do they find a way to make their relationship work?  Well, wonder no longer.  This free short serves as an excellent follow-up to the novel and provides the resolution many readers (myself included) really wanted to see.  And it definitely hits the spot.  I won’t say more in order to avoid spoilers, but I will say it’s a must for anyone who read the story that comes before…

Model Love by S.J. Frost

18664798Title: Model Love
Author: S.J. Frost
Published: October 23, 2013
Pages: 141
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:
Former model Ian hasn’t been the same since the death of his twin brother.  Wracked by guilt, he left the modeling world and retreated into a solitary and lonely existence.  When his former agent invites him on a getaway to Bora Bora, he is wary, certain it’s all a ploy to get him back into modeling.  He reluctantly agrees, but makes it clear he has no intention of returning to his former profession.

Enter Temaru, a diving instructor, who finds himself immediately drawn to Ian when he sees him on the beach.  But can he get past the walls that Ian has put up around himself?  Can Ian let someone into the world he’s created?  Will he push Temaru away as he has everyone else or can Temaru be the one who helps Ian realize what’s he’s lost by refusing to work through his guilt?

This was a bit of a fluffy and cute story to read.  There’s some angst on Ian’s part (obviously), but overall it’s one of those sweeter romances that I think we all need to pick up from time to time.  Temaru is one of my favorite characters that I’ve read in a romance recently and I wouldn’t mind finding a Temaru of my own, to be completely honest.  Definitely worth a read.

Wallflower by Heidi Belleau

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Title: Wallflower (Rear Entrance Video, Book 2)
Author: Heidi Belleau
Published: October 19, 2013
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Pages: 178

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:
This one was definitely a bit different than I had expected but I can’t say I’m disappointed by it. It’s definitely easy to connect with the characters and even those moments that might be a bit out of my own comfort zone or realm of experience were well-written. There are a few points where the story seemed to drag or was slow to come together (and also a few plot points that just seem to show up for convenience’s sake), but I’d recommend this one.

Content warning: Attempted sexual assault

Title: Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction
Author: Jeff VanderMeer
Publication Date: October 15, 2013

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review: I picked this up because of its Hugo nomination (and because of my own interest in writing). I will say, first off, that this book is expertly designed. It is a striking and beautiful book from its cover to pretty much every page throughout. Additionally, it offers some great suggestions and tips on writing. Unfortunately, I found it difficult to parse. While the various (and very busy) illustrations and charts do have some utility, I found them distracting and their placement often leaving the overall guide feeling a bit disjointed. Still giving this three stars, though, as I think it has some great content and there are people who might not find its disjointed style quite as jarring as I did.