Tag Archives: publisher: harmony ink

Choices by Jamie Mayfield

Choices

Choices by Jamie Mayfield

Series: Waiting for Forever, Book 1
Published by: Harmony Ink Press on June 6, 2013
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Brian McAllister knows that he’s unlikely to find acceptance for his sexuality living in a small community in Alabama. He’s heard the comments people make at school. He’s sat through the sermons in church. So he’s never told anyone–the last thing he would need would be to lose his best friend or to have his foster parents send him away. So when his best friend, Jamie Mayfield, confronts him when he’s acting strange and said confrontation ends in a kiss, Brian thinks it’s all over. To his surprise, however, Jamie lets Brian know he feels the same way. The two embark on a clandestine relationship, but in a small town secrets can only stay hidden for so long. And once they’re found out, it’s hard to make them ever go away.

For being one of those “growing up gay in a conservative town of bigot stories,” this one was actually on the easy end of the reading scale. The angst level isn’t through the roof, and the supportive characters are written in a believable and understanding way. I tackled this one fairly quickly because it kept my attention and I never ended up putting it down until I was done.

The Midnight Gardener by R.G. Thomas

The Midnight Gardener

The Midnight Gardener by R.G. Thomas

Series: The Town of Superstition, Book 1
Published by: Harmony Ink Press on November 12, 2015
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Thaddeus Cane’s mother died when he was a baby. He’s spent as much of his life as he can remember with his father, moving so frequently from town to town that he’s never really made any friends. But when they arrive in Superstition, Thaddeus hopes they might be in a place where they can stay for a while.

One evening, Thaddeus looks out his window and sees a young man tending to the garden next door. There’s something intriguing about him, and Thaddeus finds himself paying attention whenever he sees the man out there–though he’s curiously only out at night. And when Thaddeus finds himself running from a wild animal a few nights later, he crawls over the fence and into the presence of Teofil. From there, things begin to get really strange and Thaddeus soon learns there is much more to his life and his history than he ever could have imagined.

I love young adult fantasy. Toss in a light m/m element, and I’ll read it up as easily as drinking a cup of tea. While this one is a bit slow in the beginning (though it’s necessary for readers to connect to Thaddeus), it picks up quickly. And the backstory is definitely very interesting.

I look forward to the next book in this series. I need to know what happens between Thaddeus and Teofil, and I also need to know if Thaddeus and crew are successful in their quest.

The Night Screams by Devon McCormack

The Night Screams

The Night Screams by Devon McCormack

Published by: Harmony Ink Press on July 28, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

After his family abandoned him, Cal took refuge at a shelter for homeless LGBT youth. But one night he woke up in a dark room, naked, and with no idea where he was. And the torture that followed was nearly unbearable. When he manages to escape on a whim, he first heads to take care of his basic needs (clothes and food). But he’s caught shoplifting from a store, and he finds himself in a position where he’s once again unable to run.

Cal certainly doesn’t expect the kindness shown to him by the owner of the store. Gary and his wife Luce are willing to give Cal the benefit of the doubt (even though his trauma has left him speechless). They welcome him into their home and help him work with the police to find the man who abducted him. It’s a bit overwhelming for Cal but it’s definitely the support he needs.

Though what’s truly overwhelming for Cal is Luce’s nephew, Jake. Jake is skeptical of Cal at first, but Cal can understand why. Cal also understands why so many people are drawn to Jake. He’s attractive and he has an edge to him that is nothing short of intriguing. But Cal know Jake isn’t interested. He has a girlfriend. And Cal’s the guy who tried to steal from his family. But as Jake hints there might be a possibility for a relationship, Cal finds himself confused. Even if Jake is interested, should he take such a leap? Is he ready to be with someone like that after all he’s been through? Can he trust someone on that level? And would he be taking advantage of his generous hosts?

I enjoyed this one more than I originally expected I would. The characters–all of them, including the supporting cast–are complex and dynamic. The storytelling is engaging and descriptive. And the plot is paced well with just the right twists at the perfect time. Add to that the fact that it’s difficult not to feel for these two guys on a number of levels, and you can see why it was hard for me to put it down.

There are layers of issues that the author touches on in this story: abandonment, abuse, assault, kidnapping, religion, small town issues, violence, family, homophobia, etc. But none of it is done in a way that comes across as patronizing. And the intersection of these issues adds some realism to the story. We’re never dealing with just one issue at a time in our lives.

Despite this being a Harmony Ink title (Dreamspinner’s young adult imprint), I find myself questioning where this fits in the young adult spectrum. Yes, the main characters are in their late teens, but the content is really heavy and at times graphic. It seems like this may be more of a new adult title.

Content warnings: sexual assault, graphic violence, forced imprisonment, hate crimes

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

Bender by Gene Gant

Bender

Bender by Gene Gant

Published by: Harmony Ink Press on June 16, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

College freshman Mace Danner works his way through college as an escort for a specific clientele. He seeks out those interested in domination and pain. He doesn’t experience sexual urges, so it’s not about sex for him. It’s about the punishment he feels he deserves for causing his brother’s death. And though he knows it’s a dangerous coping mechanism, he feels it works for him as he keeps everyone who expresses any care or kindness at a comfortable distance.

After a job goes wrong, Mace loses the bit of control he still held on his life. Mace’s resident advisor, Dex, notices this and won’t let Mace push him away. He’s determined to help. Of course, until Mace is willing to allow someone to help him, things aren’t really going to change. And his dangerous course could prove to be deadly before too long…

This is an intense story. It’s not long, and there is a lot that happens here. And some of the subjects that come up are difficult. This is definitely not something I expected from this particular imprint, but I think it’s an important story to tell. The issues here–guilt, self worth, assault, self-destructive behavior, asexuality–are things that the mainstream wants to shy away from. And it’s important that we don’t do that.

I’m not sure I’d necessarily call this young adult (which is what Harmony Ink tends to be), but certainly new adult or maybe an older young adult, just due to the intensity of the subject matter.

Content warnings: sexual assault

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

The Bridge by Rachel Lou

The Bridge

The Bridge by Rachel Lou

Published by: Harmony Ink Press on June 2, 2016
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)

Everett Hallman is a witch, working with his grandfather to investigate the paranormal and help lost souls cross over to the other side. When a mysterious feeling leads him to a local martial arts studio, he’s surprised at the amount of power he finds there. It’s a place worth investigating. But the source of the power remains unknown to him.

In another surprising twist, Everett learns he is a Bridge Master. Bridge Masters are special witches tasked with guarding the bridges between worlds. They also are the only witches who can freely cross the bridges and enter the spirit world. As a young witch who is still coming into his power, it’s just a bit overwhelming.

And he’s still trying to figure out what’s going on at the martial arts studio. And what exactly is going on with his new friend he met there. Especially since Everett wouldn’t mind at all if he became more than just a friend…

Throw some well-written young adult urban fantasy at me and I’m happy. And this book is exactly that. It’s a unique world and story, and I found myself drawn in quite quickly. And there were a few twists that I absolutely did not see coming.

Everett goes through quite a journey in the short span of this book. So many things around him are changing. And he is learning new things about himself. Despite this personal growth and challenge, he holds strong to his purpose, even when it might put him in danger.

I’m not sure if the author has any plans for more, but I wouldn’t mind reading another book or two set in this world.

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

Finding the Sky by A.M. Burns

Finding the Sky

Book Info

Title: Finding the Sky
Author: A.M. Burns
Published: February 11, 2016
Pages: 180
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

Dillon Smith doesn’t live in the best part of Dallas. And he’s looking forward to the end of the school year, so he can spend the summer away from the gangs and the classmates who are pressuring him to join one. Even though he doesn’t have a lot of friends, a gang’s just not something he wants to be a part of. But when he stumbles into the gang’s activities, he finds himself being treated as guilty for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Though he’s never been in trouble, his mother doesn’t believe him. Dillon’s uncle, Bryan, offers to take him for the summer, giving him the opportunity to spend time at Bryan’s house away from the city. Dillon isn’t jumping for joy at the prospect, but he gets along with his uncle and at least he won’t have to worry about any run-ins with the gang for the rest of the summer.

On the way to Bryan’s house, they come across an injured hawk along the side of the road. To Dillon’s surprise, Bryan suggests that they take the bird with him–his neighbors run a wildlife rehab, and their specialty just happens to be birds. This is just the start of Dillon’s journey and the whole new world of possibilities that opens up to him. Over the course of the summer, perhaps in having the space to do so for the first time, he discovers more about himself and about life than he ever could have imagined. And his fast friendship with the son of Bryan’s neighbors, Scott, proves to be a whole new experience all its own.

A coming-of-age story with some unique twists. Too many times those stories where young people question and come to terms with their sexuality are filled with pining and crushing over the hottest jock in school, harsh bullying, and overnight epiphanies accompanied with sudden confidence. While these are all realistic situations, it’s great to read a book that looks at different challenges that a young man in this situation might face. Dillon’s journey is one that definitely has its own challenges–and some of those are heartbreaking–but his story struck me as both fresh and authentic. A great LGBT YA title!

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

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover by Robbie Michaels

Don't Judge a Book by its Cover

Book Info

Title: Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover (The Most Popular Guy in the School, Book 1)
Author: Shira Anthony
Published: July 15, 2012
Pages: 200
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Publisher’s Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Review

Mark Mitchell isn’t one of the popular guys in school. He’s not a total pariah, but he’s a bit of a nerd and not even the slightest bit athletic. His plan is to just do what he needs to do to get through high school and not make any waves until then. On one cold morning when Mark is volunteered to help unload the chocolate orders for a class fundraiser, he’s a bit surprised to be working with Bill Cromwell. Bill’s probably the most popular guy in school, and he’s incredibly sexy. Mark manages to get through the day without being completely distracted by his attractive classmate and puts all of his thoughts away for later. He stands no chance with a straight jock like Bill. A few nights later, when an unexpected snowstorm hits, Mark finds Bill stranded in the parking lot and offers him a ride home. It seems like an easy enough task, but the chance offer turns out to be something that intertwines the two of them together in very unexpected ways. Mark’s vision of Bill’s life as being perfect is clearly far from the truth, and they both just might have to stick together to survive until graduation.

I had an idea of the basic concept of this story when I read the blurb. Nerdy gay teen starts crushing on the obviously straight jock. It turns out maybe the obviously straight jock isn’t so straight after all. It’s a story I’ve definitely seen before. But there’s more to this story–it goes in some unexpected directions and deals with a whole range of other issues. So it stands out as unique for me in terms of the way the story unfolds. And I found myself enjoying reading about the characters and the town where they live.

I did feel like Bill’s speech didn’t come across as being as inspiring as the characters in the book seemed to think it was. And I also feel like the book could have ended a little earlier than it did. But I definitely think this one is worth a read. I’m looking forward to picking up the second installment in the series.

 

Mad About the Hatter by Dakota Chase

25926238Title: Mad About the Hatter
Author: Dakota Chase
Published: August 20, 2015
Pages: 190
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Publisher Website: link
Rating: ★★★

Henry refused to believe the stories his sister, Alice, would tell about visiting a place called “Wonderland.” After all, there was no way that such a place could exist. Yet, she insisted, and her insistence only served to drive a wedge right through their entire family. But when he finds himself suddenly in an unfamiliar place, he remembers that his sister told him to “find the Hatter.” He’s not sure what it means, and when Hatter arrives he thinks he may just regret asking after him, but it’s all he has to work with.

Hatter–yes, that Hatter–faces certain execution. The Red Queen has made it clear she wants his head to roll, and there seems to be no escape. But when the Queen learns of the presence of “Boy Alice” in Wonderland, Hatter may just have the opportunity to do her a favor and save his head…literally. And why wouldn’t he gladly serve up the cantankerous “Boy Alice” to do just that.

But can Hatter really give someone else up to save himself? And might Henry’s first impressions of the Hatter soften as they journey together through this strange land? Regardless, both Henry and the Hatter are about to learn there is much more to this situation than either of them ever could have imagined.

I absolutely love a well-written retelling of a classic tale. While this isn’t a “retelling” per se, but a reimagining of the world of Wonderland and what happened after Alice left for the last time, it hits all the right points for me. There’s humor, suspense, adventure, romance…and it’s all woven seamlessly together in a truly organic way.

There is a need for high quality LGBT YA, and this book is one that helps fill that need. This is a story that I think is enjoyable for all ages, but it’s one that I particularly think teenagers would find appealing. Dakota Chase demonstrates a creativity and an original voice here that truly stands out. I look forward to more from this author, for sure!

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