Tag Archives: published: 2015-10

Winterwode by J. Tullos Hennig

Winterwode

Winterwode by J. Tullos Hennig

Series: The Wode, Book 3
Published by: DSP Publications on October 6, 2015
Rating: 5 stars (★★★★★)

Robyn’s band is all back together. His sister, Marion, is back at his side. And he’s recovered the lost love of his youth, Gamelyn. Except Gamelyn isn’t just Gamelyn anymore. Guy of Gisborne, Templar, still resides in there somewhere. It’s an identity that can’t easily be shed. But Robyn is patient, and Gamelyn sometimes seems willing to try.

When a traveling minstrel informs the Shire Wode outlaws that the Queen Mother is essentially being held prisoner by Prince John, their relatively happy reverie is broken. Despite being branded outlaws, they’re too noble to let that stand. Of course, it helps that it’s an opportunity to stick it to the tyrannical prince.

There are a few problems, though. Not only do they need to sneak in and break out the Queen Mother. They will need to take her to Temple Hirst, thrusting Gamelyn/Guy right back into the Templar order. And to complicate matters even more, someone with knowledge of the Wode’s magic is on their trail. And he may just be a force to be reckoned with.

Can they pull off the rescue? And if Gamelyn rejoins his fellow knights, will he fall back into the life of Guy? Will Robyn lose him forever? And what would that mean for the Lady’s prophecy?

I’m such a fan of this series, and I’m so glad there are some additional books coming. It’s such a well-written retelling of the Robin Hood story. This history, the imagery, and the fantasy combine to create such a rich, dynamic world. And I’ve honestly devoured every page since I started the first book in the series.

There are some wonderful twists and turns in this book that certainly serve to keep readers on the edge of their seats. And the tension that exists throughout creates an incredible thread to pull you along. Writing of this caliber is a rare find.

Tricks by Rick R. Reed

Tricks

Book Info

Title: Tricks
Author: Rick R. Reed
Published: October 12, 2015 (Originally released October 14, 2010)
Pages: 200
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

Sean is suddenly a bit lost. His boyfriend of two years has just dumped him. He thought they were more in it for the long haul. He’s out of practice when it comes to dating, and most of the clubs just aren’t really his scene. So even he’s a bit surprised when he winds up at Tricks, one of Chicago’s hottest clubs. The dancers on the bar are almost a bit too much for him, and he doesn’t stay long.

Arliss is one of the dancers at Tricks, and he does fairly well for himself. His real dream is to become a porn star, so he can put the late nights of dancing behind him and be even more successful. But he knows better than to be too trusting of just anyone who might make him an offer…right? Arliss spots Sean in the club and remarks that he looks like someone who could use some company, but Sean is gone before he can make his way over to him. When their paths cross again on the shore of the lake, Arliss strikes up a conversation and the two find that there might be a connection between them. Arliss knows that Sean is a bit more traditional and reserved, so how will he understand what Arliss wants to do with his life? He knows it’s a lot, but it’s been his dream for so long. And when the opportunity presents itself, can he really turn it down?

There’s a lot of complexity in this story, though it may sound like a straightforward plot. The relationship dynamics are certainly complicated, and there are people outside of the couple that have their own agendas. The story has a decent heat level, but it’s nowhere near the only thing this one is about. Communication is key to relationships, as is understanding the other person’s perspective and finding ways to compromise. Relationships often require sacrifice, but those sacrifices can certainly be worth it. These are things that Sean and Arliss learn the hard way…

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

sword of summer

Book Info

Title: The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 1)
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: October 6, 2015
Pages: 528
Publisher: Disney Hyperion Books
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

Magnus Chase has lived alone on the streets of Boston since his mother’s death. The streets were his only option, as his mother told him never to trust his uncle, making him wary of his family. But when he learns that his cousin and others are out searching for him, he decides he needs to find answers. He sneaks into his uncle’s mansion and is caught. But that’s not the worst of it. His uncle tells him he’s the son of a Norse god. It’s almost laughable to Magnus at first, until they’re chased down by a group of fire giants and Magnus has to make the choice between himself and innocent bystanders. And his choice is one that only sets a whole series of other events in motion…

I honestly devour everything that Rick Riordan writes. As a lifelong fan of mythology and an avid reader of fantasy, these books always hit so many buttons with me that I just can’t seem to ever put them down. And this kickoff to a new series–though with some connections to his other work nicely woven in–is no exception at all. Riordan has a way of weaving in the existing mythology that doesn’t require one to be very knowledgeable, but it’s also clear that you’re reading his unique story and not just having the myths rehashed in various ways. Magnus’s story takes some unexpected turns very early on, which is something that has me really looking forward to where this series is going to go as it develops.

Sinders and Ash by Tara Lane

Sinders and Ash

Book Info

Title: Sinders and Ash (The Pennymaker Tales, Book 1)
Author: Tara Lain
Published: March 31, 2012 (Re-released October 14, 2015)
Pages: 167
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

Mark “Sinders” Sintorella is a housekeeper at an upscale resort, responsible for many of the more involved cleaning tasks: fireplaces, chimneys, and the like. But he secretly aspires to be a fashion designer, making dresses in his room during the little spare time he can find. Things at the resort turn on their head when Ashford Armitage, son of the fifth richest man in America and a very attractive and eligible bachelor, arrives for stay. It’s no secret that Ashford is looking for a wife; he needs to get married to keep his inheritance. Mark is immediately smitten, though he knows he’d never stand a chance. But around the same time, a mysterious guest–one Carstairs Pennymaker–shows up and takes an interest in Mark and his fashion career, having him masquerade as a woman in his own designs to impress some investor friends. But Mark’s designs are stunning and he quickly gets noticed, even by a few unexpected people…

Adaptation is an art, and it’s something that I think few people do extremely well. But Tara Lain’s clever adaptation of the classic Cinderella fairy tale is extremely original, with just enough nods to the original to know what’s being referenced without feeling like one has read this story before. There are a couple of points where I feel like the plot hits a lull here–hence not giving a higher rating–but I really enjoyed this and recommend it to people who are looking for a fun and entertaining but sweet romance with a hint of fantasy and a nod back to one of the all-time classic fairy tales.

Strong Enough by Cardeno C.

Strong Enough

Book Info

Title: Strong Enough (Family, Book 2)
Author: Cardeno C.
Published: October 13, 2015 (originally released in 2013)
Pages: 247
Publisher: The Romance Authors
Author’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

Spencer Derdinger is a college professor who just might be the definition of shy. Which is why he has no idea how to respond when the hot construction worker he’s been watching approaches him and asks him out–right now. Emilio Sanchez is anything but shy. He’s an outgoing, confident guy who knows what he wants and doesn’t hesitate. While he knows his personality is in direct contrast to Spencer’s, he can’t help noticing that there’s something causing Spencer to hold back. Both will need patience and strength if they’re going to pursue anything together–and they’ll have to overcome some distractions and challenges along the way.

Emilio! What can I say about him? He’s unlike any character I think I’ve ever read before. He’s just so care-free and confident in the way he presents himself, and it’s genuine. Of course it doesn’t mean everything is perfect for him all the time, but he’s not going to apologize for who he is and for expressing himself. And poor Spencer finds himself overwhelmed but equally intrigued by this man he never expected to speak to–never mind bring him home. What transpires here is a sweet story of a relationship that builds organically but in a nontraditional manner. And I loved every minute of it.

This is the second book of the series, but it can be read as a standalone story. I haven’t read the first book and had no problem following the story.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.]

Reasons to Love a Nerd Like Me by Becky Jerams

Reasons to Love a Nerd Like MeThe Details

Title: Reasons to Love a Nerd Like Me
Author: Becky Jerams
Published: October 12, 2015
Pages: 508
Publisher: Becky Jerams
Authorr’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★★☆

The Review

Scotty Williams is far from the most popular guy in the sixth form at Havensdale College. He’s a nerd, a member of the Dungeon Adventure Club, and he’s openly gay. This makes him a prime target for Taylor Raven, the college’s star tennis player and obvious homophobe, whose bullying to Scotty is torturous to say the least. Scotty bears it because he knows the power that Taylor and his family hold in the school…his threats to ruin Scotty’s life and the lives of those around him seem all too real. Though it’s difficult, he think he can make it to the end of college years intact. But when Scotty crosses paths with Vincent Hunter–the biggest badass in the school–things change in ways he never expected, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everything will get easier.

So I’ll start off by saying this is a long one. That’s a higher page count than I normally expect for something in the genre. But don’t let that scare you–it’s definitely worth it. There are a number of layers to this story that reveal and play out on their own time, and I never found myself feeling like this drags at any point. The characters are very interesting, and the secondary characters–I always find they can make or break a story as much as the protagonist–provide for some great entertainment as well as add depth to the overall story. If you’re looking for a complex story that doesn’t skip to a simple resolution, this is it. And refreshingly so at that…

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review…]

An Extra Treat

When searching for some additional information for this book online, I came across a lyric video for a recording of a song the author wrote. This song actually is referenced and appears in the book (so spoiler alert if you plan to listen to it). Listening to it while writing my review was a fun added touch. I share it here in case you want to listen to it during the scene it shows up in the book because I think that sounds like an awesome idea… 😉

Banished Sons of Poseidon by Andrew J. Peters

Banished Sons of PoseidonTitle: Banished Sons of Poseidon
Author: Andrew J. Peters
Published: October 19, 2015
Pages: 240
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★★☆

Dam was part of one of the most powerful houses of Atlantis before a flood caused everyone to take refuge underground. But it’s not like his lineage mattered much before–he had been turned away by his kin and knew little of the benefits of his lineage. But the unfortunate events that have befallen his home have given him a second chance among a new people. One of those people is Hanhau, a warrior who has taken a bit of a shine to Dam. Dam’s people won’t be content to stay underground forever, however, and he knows their leader–his cousin, Aerander–will need to make a move eventually. But when a tragedy befalls their temporary home, leaving Aerander unable to lead, Dam sees this as an opportunity to prove his worth and redeem himself.

There’s such a rich and interesting world here. I found myself so easily pulled in and immersed in the events of this book that it was difficult to put it down. The action and adventure that is here is very engaging and well-paced. And the history and backstory is delivered right along with the story in a way that makes it almost seamless. And several of the secondary characters add quite a bit to the story, as well.

Banished Sons of Poseidon is a sequel to The Seventh Pleiade, but it’s not necessary to read the first book to enjoy this one (I didn’t even know it was a sequel until after I was finished reading). I do intend to go back and read the first one, though, as I’m curious to read even more about the history of Dam, Aerander, and their people.

Definitely a well-written young adult fantasy–which isn’t always easy to find–with a nice sprinkling of gay romance thrown in.

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

Blog Tour: Duce by Kai Tyler

Title: Duce
Series: Worlds’ End #2
Author: Kai Tyler
Genre: MM Romance, Mafia, Suspense, Dystopian
Published: October 19, 2015
One mafia boss.
One rival’s son.
One deadly setup.
Parties and orgies… those are the only things Carlos Carmichael wants to do. It’s the only way he knows to deal with his life as the son of a notorious cartel boss. He’ll get whatever he wants by any means necessary.

Until he tangles with a man who plays by totally different rules.

Dante Orsino has been raised in the old ways of honor, loyalty and respect of the business. His role as mafia underboss is more than just a job. It also makes him an heir to one of the biggest families in the Southern Territories.

When Carlos meets Dante and plays a silly game, their weekend tryst sparks a deadly cartel war.

For Dante there’s no other life except—the life. And he wants Carlos in his. But in the New World, a gay man is a dead man. Can he find a way to keep everything he loves and stay alive?

In a new world gone mad, even the good guys are bad. Welcome to the World’s End series.

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review:

Many people think organized crime is a thing of the past. But what might it look like in the future? For Dante Orsino, a mafia underboss, it doesn’t look all that different than one might expect–there are traditions and expectations, and they don’t leave much space for a gay man. And when he finds himself entangled with Carlos Carmichael, the son of the head of a rival family, he learns just how deep those traditions run…

A very interesting and intriguing read. In a world where I often feel like I’m reading some of the same stories over and over again in m/m romance, it was nice to see what I think is a new take and voice in the genre. Definitely an enjoyable read.

The focus here, to me, was on the characters and the relationships. The dystopian elements aren’t very strong, but that’s okay because they’re not incredibly relevant to the overall plot. I feel like the focus here was in the right place, for sure–just wanted to mention that caveat in case someone was picking this up looking for a story a bit heavier on the dystopian elements.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.]
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Vienna in Violet by David W. Frank

Vienna in VioletTitle: Vienna in Violet
Author: David W. Frank
Published: October 20, 2015
Pages: 220
Publisher: Blank Slate Press
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★★☆

Franz Schubert is convinced by his friend, Michael Vogl, to compose a commissioned work setting a poem to music. While Schubert isn’t normally one to take on such a task–especially with the finishing touches on his opera needing his attention–Vogl is able to prevail. The song will be unveiled at an event hosted by Michael’s dear friend, the Countess Eugénie von Neulinger. Schubert’s patron seems to receive the song very well, judging by her initial reaction, though Vogl soon learns there may be more to her reaction. And when dawn finds the countess murdered in her sleep, it may well be that there is far more to this simple song than either of the performers could have ever expected.

This is a work of fiction, but it read to me like it could be an account of something that actually happened. I must confess that I am a Schubert fan–he wrote so many great songs for tenors to sing!–and that’s what initially drew me to this book. I always find myself enjoying speculation of what life may have been like for composers of the time (yes, I know we have some historical records, but it’s those day-to-day glimpses I enjoy), and what sort of intriguing stories could potentially have inspired some of the works that they left behind. I’m also a fan of a good murder mystery, so there were many appealing facets of this book.

And this is definitely a well-written work. The pacing is great, the dialogue seems authentic, and the reveal is great–I hadn’t really pinned down the culprit by the end of the book (something I always think is the mark of a good mystery). Historical fiction can be tough when you include people who actually lived during the time, but I think the author treats those characters with great sensitivity while rounding them out with a dynamic cast of characters.

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

Secret Funding by S.M. May

Secret Funding by S.M. MayTitle: Secret Funding (Secret Agreements, Book 1)
Author: S.M. May
Published: October 15, 2015 (Originally published April 2, 2015 in Italian)
Pages: 155
Publisher: S.M. May
Author’s Page (Goodreads): link
Rating:★★★☆☆

Noah Kress is an investment broker who is not afraid to make bold choices in his dealings. And he’s not afraid to do the same in his private life, moonlighting as Master Noah at a local BDSM club. When one of his investments ends up on shaky ground, he is approached with an offer he finds very difficult to refuse. But accepting it means he will have to confront the few things he is actually afraid of–and it may mean that nothing will ever be the same again…

I found this to be an interesting concept. I don’t read a great deal of BDSM, but when I do, the doms and masters are always presented as being so tough and hardened. Even when they’re not, the need for an outward appearance is so strong they fight so hard to show any weakness and it gets in the way of an authentic story. Here, we get something different. Noah knows and accepts his limitations, despite those pressures that demand perfection and strength at all times.

There were some scenes that struck me as a bit awkward and/or unnecessary, but the overall story arc kept me reading. The changes that the main characters experience make for an engaging book and it pulls them to the foreground. This was quick read, it was paced well, and it flowed quite nicely. I think I might be curious enough to find out what happens in the next book…

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.]