Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book of the Week - Bear, Otter and the Kid



Title: Bear, Otter, & the Kid
Author: T.J. Klune
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 350 pages
Rating: 4 Quills
Tags: family drama, kids, angst, in the closet, contemporary

Blurb

Three years ago, Bear McKenna’s mother took off for parts unknown with her new boyfriend, leaving Bear to raise his six-year-old brother Tyson, aka the Kid. Somehow they’ve muddled through, but since he’s totally devoted to the Kid, Bear isn’t actually doing much living—with a few exceptions, he’s retreated from the world, and he’s mostly okay with that. Until Otter comes home.

Otter is Bear’s best friend’s older brother, and as they’ve done for their whole lives, Bear and Otter crash and collide in ways neither expect. This time, though, there’s nowhere to run from the depth of emotion between them. Bear still believes his place is as the Kid’s guardian, but he can’t help thinking there could be something more for him in the world... something or someone.

Review

This is the story of one man's struggles to keep his family together. He must realize that he is not alone and his family is larger than he ever expected. Three years ago, Bear's mom left him to raise his little brother on his own. Since then, he has been doing the best he can to provide a loving stable environment for the Kid, all the while missing the one person who makes him feel like home. When Otter finally returns and they are forced to admit their feelings for each other, fireworks ensue, and not just the good kind.

I had avoided this book for quite awhile because it was so hyped up. I tend to purposely ignore "it" books until they have lasted for awhile. However, this book deserved the hype. I started reading it, planning just to start it for a few minutes before bed. 4 am rolled around and I was just finishing it. The characters drew me in and would not let me go. I experienced a whole gamut of emotions from tears to laugh out loud moments to wanting to rip my hair and knock some sense into Bear and Otter. 

However, my one complaint is that the "big misunderstanding" felt a little contrived. I get that he was being threatened and felt there was no way out but it seemed a little over the top how that played out (no spoilers here though). Despite imperfect characters and a few over-worked moments, this book is a gem. 4 Quills.



You can find Bear, Otter and the Kid at Dreamspinner Press for $6.99.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday First Kiss - Something to be Thankful For

I ducked out of the General Store on Main Street before Old Man Peterson could snag me and force me to help unload “just this one box.” It was never one box. I glanced furtively over my shoulder to ensure I had made a clean escape before fleeing back to my house. This Thanksgiving was my first trip home since I had left for college. I’d been gone three months and absolutely nothing had changed. 

All of the sudden, I practically skidded to a stop, watching as a vision from some city-fied magazine stepped off the bus just a little ways down the road. His blond hair was a little wavy and shone brilliantly in the east Texas sunlight. His muscular shoulders were perfectly outlined in a lush green button down and one of those fancy vests. My eyes traveled down the man’s back and ate up his ass in dark grey slacks and matching shoes. He was so far from the boots, jeans and plaid shirts everyone else (including me) wore that it took me a second to tear my eyes away.

Then the mystery man grabbed his bag and turned around.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Book of the Week - In the Darkness



Title: In the Darkness
Author: Charles Edward
Publisher: LooseID
Length: 177 pages
Rating: 4 Quills
Tags: fantasy, first time, demons, magic

Blurb

Gareth is his parents’ dirty secret: Cursed with a demonic appearance, he has always been in hiding just to stay alive. He must never be seen or his family will die. But when a violent attack endangers a local youth -- whom Gareth adores from the shadows -- there is no one else to help, and Gareth is driven to risk everything to save him.

Now the young man, Evin, wants to know more about this terrifying and beautiful stranger. Where did he come from? Is he a demon, or something more? They begin to meet in the darkness, becoming friends and then lovers. Evin’s sexual exploration and adoration of every part of Gareth’s strange body erase fear and self-loathing; and Gareth’s enthusiasm and prowess make every tryst more powerful, more deliriously sensual than the last.

But there is a purpose to Gareth’s existence, and when it is revealed, Evin and Gareth will be enslaved by rivals, separated to end up on opposite sides of a war. Evin will be forced to play a dangerous role: One which may make him Gareth’s destroyer.

Review

This is the story of Gareth, who has been hidden away his whole life by his parents because of his "demon-like" appearance and Evin, a boy just turned man who has been abused his whole life and always felt left out. Gareth is unfailingly kind and naive in the sweetest sense. He is loyal and true of heart, if occasionally misguided. Evin is slightly jaded but still open to the unexpected when he is saved by Gareth.

The first half of the book was sweet as they got to know each other and I spent the second half of the book on tenterhooks, wondering when they would find each other again. The simple joy at finding each other and then the exquisite pain at their separation is palpable when reading and my heart broke for Gareth and Evin as I was reading. But never fear, there is a happy ending, and one I never would have expected from Evin. ;) 

I know that there has been some discussion about there being on screen m/f action in this book. There was, but very limited in detail and only to demonstrate the evil machinations of the queen. This was not an m/f romance plot by any means. All the romance is between our two boys.

So now for what you have been waiting for.....I give this book a solid 4 Quills. Go forth and read it!!



You can find In the Darkness By Charles Edward at Loose ID for $7.99!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Friday First Kiss - Everything Changes

I reached out and pressed Jessie’s doorbell, trying to ignore the butterflies that were trying to stage a prison break in my stomach. He had never made me feel quite like this before. But, today at lunch, everything changed.

As I sat doing my best not to wonder what mystery meat my hotdog was made of, I jerked into awareness when I heard Nelson mention “that theater freak.” Now there are any number of theater kids at my school but only one rated that level of scorn in Nelson’s voice: Jessie.

“D’ya hear? That theater freak’s a fag.” Nelson told everyone at the table, with a sneer plastered on his face.

“Yah?” replied someone else at the table. Nelson responded by recounting how Jessie had told everyone during his speech on Gay rights during Public Speaking class that morning. But after I realized what he was saying was probably true and not just another way for Nelson to torment Jessie, everything went a little fuzzy. A rushing sound filled my ears and my vision tunneled. I think my heart even stopped beating for a second from pure unadulterated hope.

Then reality smacked back into place and I broke out in a sweat, fearing someone had noticed my reaction. No one at my table appeared to be paying attention to me. But as I looked up, I saw Jessie staring at me from one table over. Before I could react, he got up and stormed out of the cafeteria.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book of the Week - The Girl for Me



Title: The Girl For Me
Author: Failte
Publisher: Fictionpress
Length: 268 pages
Rating: 4 Quills
Tags: high school, athlete, cross dressing, first time, contemporary

Blurb

Straight jockboy Kevin thinks he has gay, cross-dressing Danny under his thumb. Kevin only likes girls.

So... why does he keep thinking about her?

Or him.

Whatever.


Review

All I can say to begin with is, "Wow." This is the story of two high schoolers trying to figure out who they are. I think it highlights the fact that there aren't necessarily discrete boxes in which people's sexuality fit into. Danny, or Dani, depending on how s/he is feeling that day, struggles with fitting in with what s/he perceives as trans. Kevin struggles first with realizing he might be attracted to a guy and then with having that guy being confused with his own identity. This story was heart warming at times and brought into the light the struggles many people have to deal with. These two get into any number of hijinks that only high schoolers can find themselves in and occasionally you want to smack one or the other of them upside the head just for being a teenager but overall you can't help but loving these two characters.


I did have one issue with the story. ALERT - SPOILER COMING BELOW.

In one scene, Kevin gets very excited and doesn't listen when Dani says no and Dani is hurt. This scene was relatively explicit and could be too far for some readers. I was torn reading this because I felt that Kevin had unforgivably violated Dani. I will not say how this was resolved, but, thankfully, it was not ignored.  I am not sure how realistically I was able to engage the end of the book because of this though. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and feel that it portrays the gender and sexuality struggles of many teens very well. Despite some of my misgivings, I would still highly recommend this book and give it a 4 Quill rating.




You can find it for free at Fictionpress. I'd love to hear from you if you decide to read this book. =)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday First Kiss - Peace

Jumper patted the top pocket of his tactical vest as they were about to pull out. It was a like a prayer that he would get back alive. In it he had a picture of his family. Mom, dad, sister and best friend who was closer than a brother to him.

They were headed back from a simple recon mission and he was in the middle truck. It all happened so suddenly, there was hardly any time to think. The first thing he noticed was that it seemed like he couldn’t hear anymore. Then there was dirt and fire and metal flying at the front of his truck. Without thinking, he grabbed Hernandez’s vest by the neck as he started to stand up next to him.

They had to keep moving. If they were under attack, they had to keep moving. Push through the fire. That’s all he could think. The truck in front of him was gone. Blown to bits by the IED. That meant O’Shaugnessy would never get to see his kid before he was born and Hansen would never see his daughter graduate high school.

Jumper’s stunned thoughts were cut off as a wave of heat hit him. There must have been another explosion. He could tell he was on fire, but it was like he was watching it in a movie. There was no pain yet.  Just shock at the smell of burning flesh. He saw his hand still gripping Hernandez’s vest, but Hernandez was unrecognizably mangled. At that sight, it all wooshed back into focus; the pain and the fear were white hot in his mind and he passed out, clutching his hand to the top pocket of his tac vest.

“Jared, Jared…Wake UP!” He heard as someone shook his shoulders. Jared? No one had called him Jared since he’d left for Iraq. It was either Richardson or Jumper. “Jared…” He heard again, in a more insistent tone.

He opened his eyes, momentarily confused to be on the couch in his best friend’s apartment.

“Robbie?”

“Oh, thank God. You were screaming so loud. I thought you would never wake up,” Robbie breathed worriedly.

Before Jared knew what he was doing he was clutching Robbie to him and crying as if his soul had broken. Maybe it had. After a moment of hesitation, Robbie’s arms wrapped around Jared. Strong, solid, dependable. Jared cried until there were no tears left and all he felt was empty. And still Robbie held him.

Eventually, Robbie pulled back and looked him in the eye for a brief intense moment. Then he leaned forward and gently kissed the tears off each of Jared’s cheeks and pulled Jared more firmly back into his arms.

Jared thought he should feel awkward. They had never talked about his being gay. But he didn't. Then Robbie pulled him down on the couch and whispered, “sleep,” into his ear and, for the first time since he went to war, all he felt was peace.

The Beginning.



Give to the departed, especially those killed in war, eternal rest and let light perpetual shine upon them. Amen.

Happy Veteran's Day

Never fear, today's Friday First Kiss is on the way. I am just running a bit behind today. In the mean time, in honor of Vetaran's Day, I leave you with this picture:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Book of the Week - Grown Men



Title: HardCell #1 - Grown Men
Author: Damon Suede
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Length: 95 pages
Rating: 4 Quills
Tags: sci fi, futuristic, first time, isolated/desert island, series

Blurb

Every future has dirty roots.

Marooned in the galactic backwaters of the HardCell company, colonist Runt struggles to eke out an existence on a newly-terraformed tropical planetoid. Since his clone-wife died on entry, he’s been doing the work of two on his failing protein farm. Overworked and undersized, Runt’s dwindling hope of earning corporate citizenship has turned to fear of violent “retirement.”

When an overdue crate of provisions crashes on his beach, Runt searches frantically for a replacement wife among the tools and food. Instead he gets Ox, a mute hulk who seems more like a corporate assassin than a simple offworld farmer.

Shackwacky and near-starving, Runt has no choice but to work with his silent partner despite his mounting paranoia and the unsettling appeal of Ox’s genetically altered pheromones. Ox plays the part of the gentle giant well, but Runt’s still not convinced he hasn’t arrived with murder in mind.

Between brutal desire and the seeds of a relationship, Runt’s fears and Ox’s inhuman past collide on a fertile world where hope and love just might have room to grow.

Review

I have to say that the first thing that struck me about this book was the intense world building. And I mean that in a good way, a wonderful way. Reading this book I could almost taste sea air of a distant planet in the Andromeda Galaxy. I could imagine the bio engineered animals scurrying around the beach. It was like I was transported into this world that was created by Damon's mind and come alive on the page.

As I jumped headfirst into the universe unfolding before me, I got to meet the prickly on the surface but open underneath, Runt, and the gentle giant with a secret past, Ox. Those of you who read Damon's Hot Summer Days Short, Seedy Business, will begin to recognize some of the back story before the end of this book but by no means must you have read Seedy Business in order to enjoy Grown Men.  For the first half of the book, I wondered how Damon was going to get these two together and if, in the end, it would be a matter of "I'm just so horny, I can't help myself." But I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of feeling and breadth of emotion these two displayed.

So, if you are in the mood for fun sci-fi story with a bit of quirk and real heart, Grown Men is definitely for you. 4 Quills.




You can purchase Grown Men at Riptide Publishing for $4.99.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Friday First Kiss - Traveling Home

“Santi, you can’t really be leaving,” I begged him plaintively. “People die sneaking into America. Don’t you get that? You could die.”

He just looked at me with the weight of the world in his eyes and sighed sadly, “Javi, I can’t stay. I just can’t breathe here.”

I tried to ignore the pain gripping my chest as my best friend in the world told me about the coyote he had paid to get him across the border and the cousin he was going to stay with in San Antonio and how he would send me postcards. I tried not to be hurt that even though he knew I couldn’t go with him, he never asked. And I was still trying to pretend there was no hole in my chest as he walked into the night and out of my life.

Five Years Later

As the truck bounced over yet another rut in the rode I automatically tightened my arm around MarĂ­’s shoulder and gripped the postcard in my hand like the lifeline it was. It was the last one I had received from Javi, almost two years ago, on my twenty first birthday. I prayed to God the address was still right.

Cooking, Control and the Fun you can have with Ketchup

Today I am going to interview Seiran Rou, son of Dominion leader Tanaka Rou. While Sei is a level five earth witch and attends U of M for magical studies, that is not his real passion. He is here to talk to us today about his love of cooking.

Me: So, Sei, how did you start cooking?

Sei: Um, I've been cooking for as long as I can remember. My mom never cooked, sometimes my babysitters would, but the food was always so awful I began to do it myself. The first thing I ever cooked was a frozen pizza. I know, gross, right? My own recipe has a whole grain crust with cheese sprinkled over it and then the marinara put on it, but we'll save that for another time.

Me: Sounds like you sort of got thrown in the deep end there. What is your favorite thing about spending time in the kitchen?

Sei: The control. I handle every ingredient, know what's in everything, and what it does to my body. There is no place I feel more in control of my life than when I'm in the kitchen.

Me: Do you have a favorite recipe that you could share with us today?

Book of the Week - Deceived




Title: Deceived
Author: Megan Derr
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 88,000 words
Rating: 5 Quills
Tags: historical(ish), alternate world, anthology, royalty/nobility, family drama

Blurb

Five stories of men and the secrets and lies that shape their lives...

Review

First off, let me say that Megan Derr is a master of the short story. She always leaves me wanting more but feeling satisfied (Is that possible?). Deceived is no exception. Originally I waffled on whether to buy this book because I had read the first story, Deceived, while it was free on her website. However, the allure of four new stories in the same universe won out. Since last Wednesday when it was released I have re-read the whole thing once and parts of it three to four times.

I am not going to rehash the plot of each story here as that will force you to go forth and read in order to discover what happens in each of these stories about truths finally being revealed. While some of the situations the characters of these stories find themselves are improbable, that is what makes them all the more fun. Megan draws you into the world she has created and forces you to enjoy yourself there. Her main characters are stubborn and blind and sweet and loyal. They do the exact wrong thing for all the right reasons. They find themselves in situations beyond their ken and react badly but do so endearingly. Through the throwing of small objects, much yelling, misunderstandings, bad weather, lying relatives, smugglers and secret loves these ten men find the happily ever after they deserve. This collection of stories gets a solid 5 Quill rating. So go out and read it!!!!



Deceived can be found at Less Than Three Press for $6.99 in multiple formats.

Friday First Kiss - Perfect

This is dedicated to my friend Vic over at  the Goodreads  M/M Romance Group and the rest of you at the "The 'T' in LGBTQ" thread.

Perfect

I ran up the stairs because I knew Jesse would be waiting to start our weekly pizza and gossip night. We’d been doing it since we met first semester of college, back when I still went by Lisa. He’s the only friend who stuck by me through it all and we’ve never missed a Friday night. Even when he broke his leg and had to be rushed to the hospital I just went there.  It’s fitting that we would celebrate the end of the whole process together too.

As I burst through the front door of our shared apartment, I had a huge grin on my face. “It’s done!” I yelled, excited my final follow up appointment had gone well. “No complications, no infection, completely healed and clean bill of health!” My top surgery had been done years ago but I had just gotten my bottom surgery a little over a month ago.

He grabbed me into a hug and I could feel his grin on my cheek as he whispered, in a voice choked with emotion,“That’s awesome, Leo. Congratulations.”

When we separated we just stood there staring at each other grinning for a few moments. And then something shifted in his gaze and I don’t know how I knew, but I did. I only had a heart beat of warning before he had threaded his hands through my hair and pulled me in for a kiss.

For a second, I was so shocked I couldn’t even react and then Jesse just pulled away with a stricken look on his face.

“Shit. Sorry. I shouldn’t have done that. But, god, I’ve wanted to that for ages. But then I wanted it to be perfect and for you to feel like you and…”

It looked like he was about to wind up for one of his stress rants so, without really thinking about much beyond this is Jesse and he wants to kiss me, I grabbed him and kissed him back. Reacting more quickly than I would have imagined possible, he slammed me into the wall with his body and devoured my mouth. His hands pulled my hips into his and then there was no more room for thought. Just for the feel of heat pooling in my groin, the frantic beat of joy through my heart and the way I finally fit effortlessly in myself and against him. It was perfect.

The Beginning.

A/N: An expanded version is available here.

Blurb of the Week - Deceieved

In an effort to continue posting regularly to this here lovely livejournal, I have decided to institute another weekly post: BLURB OF THE WEEK! This will be the blurb of the book I most want to read this week (I always read 3-5 books every week so there is always something). Then, starting next week, I will post a review of the previous week's blurb along with the new one. It should be fun!!!

I will start off my Blurb of the Week fun with a fun short story anthology of five stories by Megan Derr. I LOVE Megan Derr and cannot recommend her enough.

Deceived By Megan Derr





Five stories of men and the secrets and lies that shape their lives...

Deceived —The hatred between Prince Benedict and his secretary Rae is well-known, and the source of much gossip at court. Each one too stubborn to walk away, determined to make the other one the first to break, they spend their days fighting or ruthlessly ignoring one another. Determined to put an end to the matter once and for all, and to give the notoriously rakish Benedict a taste of his own medicine, Rae sets upon a deception only to realize that there is more than one deception afoot...

Scandalous —Gideon has led a very strict life since the death of his parents, determined not to live the scandalous life that led to their untimely demise and to bring up his little brother in a more stable home.

Get Excited!!!

As you may have noticed me mention before, I LOVE first kisses so I have decided to start a weekly post called Friday First Kisses. I will post mostly first kisses written by me (this forces me to write something every week even when I am super busy) but occasionally I will read a first that is so sublime, so amazing that I can't help but want to share. So sometimes you will get other people's first kisses. This Friday's is already written up and just waiting to be posted so come on by and check it out if you get a chance. And now I leave you with this lovely image:



*I do not own this photo.

Updates and Thoughts on First Kisses

One of my favorite things when reading is the first kiss between two men. If the first kiss is weak my expectations for the whole book have just notched down a bit. If the first kiss is amazing, then, even if the rest of the book doesn't live up to it, it leaves me with a warm glow.

Sooooo.....here's a first kiss from one of my WIPs. They have just had a romantic dinner on the roof.


I leaned back against Charlie and a feeling of warmth spread throughout me as I looked out at the sunset. This was a perfect night. Vivid orange and purple and red streaks filled the sky as the sun sank below the edge of the building. Even after the bright orb was no longer visible, its rays trailed through the heavens and seemed to reach out and wrap themselves around us binding us together.

Charlie’s arms tightened around me and I could feel him smiling against my cheek. I turned my head slightly so I could look into his eyes. What I saw there almost knocked my breath out of me. They were blazing with passion and heat and something so much deeper. They drew me in. I leaned towards him and he pressed his lips to mine. For a moment it was just soft and wonderful. Then we both shifted and deepened the kiss, opening to each other.

The warmth that had been taking root in me exploded in amazing intensity. It was one of those truly brilliant perfect moments in life that I would never forget. As the last rays of the sun disappeared it felt like they settled into us, comforting and eternal. I melted into him and it seemed for that time we were one soul, intertwined forever.

As we started to lose our breath, Charlie pulled back. He caressed the side of my face and his eyes bored into mine, and he just smiled at me like I was the best thing in all of the world. My heart flooded with joy and a broad smile spread over my face as well. I settled back against him to watch the stars come out, each bright twinkle of light shining down and illuminating our happiness.