Tag Archives: published: 2014-04

Straight Shooter by Heidi Belleau

Straight Shooter

Straight Shooter by Heidi Belleau

Series: Rear Entrance Video, Book 3
Published by: Riptide Publishing on April 5, 2014
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

College hockey player Austin Puett appears confident but is often the odd one out. Most of his roommates are gay, but he’s straight. While the rest of his team is straight, Austin’s pretty sure he’s the only one who gets turned on when someone calls him “pussy” or “fag.” And both facts just might do him in.

One of Austin’s roommates is exploring his gender identity. And while Austin hasn’t had any problems living in the house, this fact is one that’s harder for him to deal with. But if he can’t get past things and start treating his roommate better, he’ll be evicted.

The solution to how Austin reacts to being degraded is nowhere near simple. But when a customer returns a fetish video during one of Austin’s shifts at the video store, he finds himself intrigued. There’s something about the premise of the video–and Master Puck, the man on the cover–that draws him in. Austin’s not gay, but neither are the guys in the scenes, right? Getting lost in the video fantasy might just be what he needs to get past his “problem.” But when Master Puck shows up at the store, Austin wonders if there might an even better and more lasting solution… Of course, things are never nearly as simple as we sometimes think they are.

Learning about these young men who live together and work at Rear Entrance Video has been interesting. Each one has faced some interesting complications in understanding and coming to terms with who they are. And Austin’s story is no exception.

There’s a lot of angst here. But one might expect that in a story where the main character is reconciling his sexual desires with his identity. And especially when those desires and that identity don’t seem to match up. The journey isn’t easy, but the author gives us a glimpse while keeping things real and respectful.

Repairing the World by John Chu

Title: Repairing the World
Author: John Chu
Published: April 1, 2014
Pages: 11
Publisher: Apex Magazine
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:

In a future where the world is routinely fractured by beings breaking in from elsewhere, Lila is a sealer–she literally tapes and seals over the fractures that appear in the ground, the sky, everywhere.  But she is required by the university’s review board to have a linguist along with her when she responds to a break, a task that often falls to Bridger.  Bridger is a serious and accomplished linguist, and he spends countless hours studying.  Though Lila quickly learns that he has another motivation for where he goes to study, and it’s one that is not exactly accepted in their society.  But Lila’s never been one to feel restricted by the rules and she certainly doesn’t expect Bridger to do so, either.

The first John Chu story I read was “The Water that Falls on You From Nowhere,” the much-deserved winner of last year’s Hugo for Best Short Story.  There is something about the way he constructs a world in a short story that I find very compelling.  Often, in short fiction, it’s difficult to present a story that resonates with rich and dynamic characters in a world that feels complete.  There just isn’t the same amount of space one has in a novel.  But in this story, much like with my previous experience with Chu’s writing, he has done just that.  I found myself immersed in this world and connected to the characters in seemingly no time at all, leaving me with every opportunity to truly enjoy what I was reading.

Public Display of Everything by Cara Dee

21799352Title: Public Display of Everything (Public Display, Book 1)
Author: Cara Dee
Published: April 4, 2014
Pages: 161
Publisher: Cara Dee
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Review:

Cory is an American in London in need of work. Flynn is a slightly awkward webmaster of a website for those into voyeurism. When the website’s users want to see their webmaster on the site, Flynn approaches Cory to ask him to take on that role in his place. What follows is a whole series of events and experiences neither likely ever expected to happen at any point in their lives.

This one is fluffy and a bit awkward, but that’s the nature of the characters, I think. Readers will either find them endearing or frustrating–I certainly oscillated between the two, though I ultimately settled on endearing in the end. The story is unique and creative, and it’s certainly something different. And I’d say different in a thankfully refreshing way in a genre that so often reuses the same tropes over and over again. I would have liked to see a bit more depth to the characters, but since this is fluff, it’s probably okay where it’s at.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

17910048

Title: The Goblin Emperor
Author: Katherine Addison
Published: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 446

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Review:
Maia, fourth son of the Emperor of the Elven lands, was exiled from the Imperial Court and relegated to an outlying estate as a child following the death of his mother.  After all, with three sons before him (and the fact that he was half-goblin), there was really no need to have him present.  And because of these facts, he never expected he would see the Court again.  But when the Emperor and everyone in the line of succession before Maia is killed when their airship crashes, Maia finds himself suddenly returning to the Imperial Court for a purpose no one–including Maia–ever would have expected: to take his now rightful place on the throne.  But becoming Emperor certainly isn’t easy.  There are those who certainly oppose Maia’s ascendance to the crown.  And his absence from Court means he missed out on much of the necessary education to fully understand all of the requirements, expectations, and duties of his new role.  Add to that the revelation that the death of his father was not an accident, and Maia certainly has his work cut out for him if he’s going to keep his realm prospering and his people inspired.

Talk about some well-written fantasy here.  Katherine Addison has created a wonderful world with a rich history and a very complex set of relationships between these characters.  While not poised as a mystery per se, it also contains a whodunnit plot line that certainly kept me guessing until the end, too.  It’s very easy to become invested in these characters, to see all of their dimensions (including their flaws), and really understand what motivates them.  The players here are certainly not stock characters by any means and the storytelling is masterful.

It can be easy to feel intimidated by the 12-page list of names at the end of the book: but I say don’t be.  While there are a lot of names (some of which are a bit similar due to family relationships), I found it is always very easy to understand who is who by relationships.  In pretty much every scene, it is apparent the role each person plays either in relation to the Imperial Court or to Maia and thus it’s easy to track the major players that way.