Saturday, January 31, 2015

Tied Together by Z. Allora

Title: Tied Together (The Dark Angels #2)
Author: Z. Allora
Purchase at Rocky Ridge Books
Purchase at Amazon
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: P.L. Nunn
Genre: yaoi, comtemporary
Length: 274 pages
Formats: mobi, epub, pdf, print

Josh has loved Robin since the day they met, although he never dared to follow his heart. After the two are kicked out of their house, a night of despair turns into a night of discovery, forever changing them both. One taste of his dream leaves Josh hungry for more, but Robin’s fear of abandonment forces him to pull back, denying them both.

Their fortunes changed. Josh and Robin are now in the limelight with legendary megaband The Dark Angels, but Robin is still the scared little boy inside the rock star who isn't convinced he won't be left behind. He clings tightly to the word "brother" because stepbrothers can't leave, right?

There's only one way for Josh to prove to Robin, now and forever, that the love tying them together can never be broken.

This second book in the Dark Angels series is an excellent second look at the band and all its gay members. Josh and Robin showed up in the first book as supporting characters to larger than life Angel and his waffling bisexual love interest Dare. We could see clearly from their brief moments in the first book that there are ISSUES.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A few thoughts about the new EU VAT rules concerning ebooks

In 2015, the new EU VAT rules on digital services became effective. Since they also apply to ebooks, those new laws changed the reading landscape for EU ebook fans. Mostly by making both ebook pricing more complicated for publishers and often making ebooks more expensive for readers.

This web article describes the UK situation: wordsthatchangetheworld 
and also the situation for sellers outside the EU and for self-publishing authors.

For me in Germany, VAT is 19% on ebooks. (Curiously, it's only 7% on regular books). Since the new rules came into force, I'm generally  paying 19% more for ebooks I order directly from an US or international publisher or through an international distributor. Since those rates of taxes are different for every EU country, I can't even begin to imagine the administrative nightmare that must mean for international businesses catering to ebook-readers in the EU.

Some publishers have already taken appropriate steps; for example Manifold Press (UK), who closed their online shop completely (much to my chagrin; I loved the personal interaction I received with every Manifold purchase) or Amber Quill Press, who no longer sell ebooks to EU customers from their website store.

Of course, as an EU customer, I can still buy books through distibutors like All Romance Books, Amazon and the like, if at a higher price (for which, just to be clear, I don't blame the distributors themselves!) But what if I preferred to buy directly from the publisher who happens to be based outside the EU? What If I happen to like a particular publisher who in consequence of the new laws stopped to sell directly to EU citizens? One of the benefits of digital purchases is just that, getting access to sources of supply I normally couldn't dream of, confined to what my corner bookstore has on offer. I'd never have discovered m/m in the first place had I waited until I could buy the physical books here in my neck of the woods.

Of course, I can still look for books on the website of my favorite publisher. But in order to buy it, I'll have to take extra steps: click over to a distributor's website, log in there, select the book again...

I don't know about you, but the instant gratification of buying an ebook kind of was my main incentive to start reading ebooks at all, and also to stick to reading them almost exclusively. More steps to take means I've got more time to reconsider my buy. I must admit I've already found myself taking a pass on books I was only casually interested in to begin with by the time I arrived at the distributor's website.

And even if my laziness didn't feature in my decision whether to buy a particular book or not, higher prices in relation to an unchanged reading budget most certainly will. I'm certain the same will apply to many other EU ebook buyers.

However, I think who'll be most under stress as a result of the new situation are self-publishing authors. Some platforms (like Amazon's Kindle store) take care of VAT, pricing ebooks differently according to the respective country's VAT tax. That means a self-published author's book will have different prices depending on buyer's country. Irritatingly enough, but what if said author publishes through a platform that doesn't take care of VAT for him? What are they to do - price their books differently per country? Sell at the same price to all, keep track of every single buyer and calculate the respective correct tax deduction (or risk committing tax fraud if they don't) ?

The implications are numerous and open to speculation. I don't know what the new laws will do to the international ebook market in general. All I know, that newest bureaucrat's guff, only effective for a few days now, irritated ME already, and I'm a mere reader who doesn't have much to be irritated about except for having to cut back on her book buying.

Let's see what comes of it in the long run.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Winter's Wolf from Tara Lain




Winter's Wolf 
(Tales of the Harker Pack #3)
By Tara Lain

Winter Thane was raised on the two cardinal rules of werewolf existence: don’t reveal yourself to humans under penalty of death, and there’s no such thing as a gay werewolf. It’s no surprise when his father drags him from his wild life in remote Canada back to Connecticut to meet his old pack in hopes it will persuade Winter to abandon his love of sex with human males. Of course Dad’s hopes are dashed when they come face-to-face with the gay werewolves in the Harker pack.

Winter takes one look at FBI agent, Matt Partridge, and decides bird is his favorite food. Partridge is embroiled in an investigation into drug dealing and the death of a fellow agent. He can’t let himself get distracted by the young, platinum-haired beast, but then Winter proves invaluable in the search for clues, a move that winds them both up in chains and facing imminent death. Winter quickly learns his father’s motives are questionable, the pack alphas are a bunch of pussies, humans aren’t quite what they seem, and nothing in the forests of Connecticut is pure except love. 




Release Date: 

February 27, 2015

You can pre-order your copy at



Also available for pre-order in paperback from Dreamspinner Press


Excerpt


Matt’s heart stopped beating. Cliché, Partridge. Watch the clichés. Still, that’s what it  felt  like. Walking  straight toward  him,  like  he  was  being  pulled  on  a  rubber  string, strode that huge hunk of gorgeous he’d seen two nights before. The one related to Cole Harker’s husband. The man moved like an animal, gliding and rippling, and the big bulge in the front of his jeans advertised another kind of animal. Big Bird! Shit, the thing had to  be  at least  at  half-mast,  and it looked  huge. Matt  wanted to  fall  down  and  worship. 

Control. Deep breath. He’ll probably walk right by.

Sweet Jesus, he stopped right in front of the table.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Fool's Errand by Chris Quinton

Title: Fool's Errand
Author: Chris Quinton
Purchase through Manifold Press (publisher's online shop ceased for now; all purchase links on the site though)
Purchase at Allromanceebooks
Genre: Mystery/ Fantasy/ futuristic
Length: 40.000 words/ 142 pages
All Formats

First in the Fool’s Odyssey Trilogy - Xavi is a sometime hooker, sometime gigolo, working the rich pickings of wealthy tourists and bored socialites of Barcelona in 2042. His current meal ticket is Sophia Matas, the wife of a prominent politician. Then Sophia is assassinated and he’s the only witness. Within hours, Xavi finds himself in protective custody and in a safe house. His guardian is Andreas, a vampire liaising with the Barcelona police.

Andreas needs to exert control - of himself, his abilities, and his relationships. Now he must keep Xavi safe. If he can keep Xavi in one place long enough. They embark on an affair that will define who and what they are, played out in an deadly dance of kill-or-be-killed danger.


 The Fool’s Odyssey trilogy: Book One


When Xavi becomes an accidental witness to the murder of a wealthy woman he knows exactly what to do – get the hell out of there, fast! Xavi lives on the edge of the law; he and the police don’t exactly mix. Unfortunately the cop who is sent after him turns out to have some rather unusual abilities, so it isn’t long before their paths cross – which is roughly when Xavi begins to realise that getting caught may be the very least of his troubles.

This book was published as early as 2010; I've had it sitting on my TBR forever. Now that I've read this I'm kicking myself why I didn't so sooner...
This book is marked futuristic, but since it's set in a not-so distant future the socio-cultural rules, everyday happenings and character's mindsets still felt familiar to me. Only difference: Vampires aren't a mere legend anymore; about a decade ago, they pleaded successfully before the UN to be recognized as a nation. Now a largely autonomous commune of vampires peacefully farms a stretch of land near Barcelona. This is about the extent of Vampiric worldbuilding we get in this book, aside from the fact that the Vampire society created some kind of police force for themselves, the Wardens; one of which, Andreas Rousakis, serves as a liaison to the Barcelona Police

I often find vampire books off-putting for the elaborate vampiric worlds and societies described; sometimes I feel like I've read similar things over and over with only the slightest varieties ever since I picked up my first Anne Rice book. But nothing of that sort occurs in here. The vampire lore in this book is interesting, but only hinted at; the story is more character-driven, focusing on how Andreas and Xavi find their way together. And yet, Andreas's vampiric nature is an intricate part of both the underlying crime/ thriller plot and the budding relationship between him and Xavi.
 
I really really liked street-smart, no-pushover Xavi. Andreas, on the other hand, remained a bit more inaccessible to me; maybe because he's meant to be a bit of a mystery while yet fulfilling most Vamp clichés in line with expectations (and additionally shows some interesting Werewolf traits...)
 
I loved the writing, it pulled me in from the first sentence onward and never let go. A totally engrossing book that makes me curious about the rest of the series. Five marbles



PS: As of today, 1/23/2015, this book is available for FREE through all purchase links!

 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

An Uncommon Whore by Belinda McBride

Title: An Uncommon Whore
Author: Belinda McBride
Purchase at Loose Id
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: PL Nunn
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: 139 pages est, 43k words
Formats: ePub, MOBI, PDF

"As a general rule, you won't find the love of your life while you're on your knees under a table."
-- Helios Dayspring

Pasha is a slave, whoring for travelers at the most dangerous bar on Warlan. He has no memory, no future of his own, yet deep inside Pasha knows that that he is meant for better things. The day that Pasha spots the dangerous pirate in the bar, he knows that he mustn't let the stranger slip away, regardless of what he must do to attract his attention.

Captain Griffin Hawke spent the greater part of a decade searching for his lost king, only to find Helios Dayspring crouched between his knees, swathed in the robes and shackles of a whore. Though he is appalled by the downfall of his king, the hardened officer finds himself falling for the allure of the sensual creature who has taken his place. Returning Helios to his position on the throne is the only right thing to do, yet Griffin knows that in doing so, he risks losing his lover forever.

"A whore is a whore is a whore, unless he's something else completely. I guess I must be an uncommon whore."
-- Helios Dayspring

~*~*~*~*

I can’t believe I hadn’t read this until now. The vivid first person narration of Helios Dayspring, sometime whore and slave, brings a whole universe to life in an economical way. With his accepting, calm demeanor, he narrates his adventures, beginning with the hours spent under the table between the knees of his rescuer and once and future lover, Captain Griffin Hawke.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A picture is worth...

This statue of Apollo stands in the Tuilleries Gardens in Paris. He's in bronze, and was created by Paul Belmondo in the twentieth century, but he figures in stories and art going back to antiquity. Apollo's the Archer, the musician with a lyre, the mover of the sun. Perhaps there's a story for him now.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Working Elf Blues by Piper Vaughn


Title: The Working Elf Blues
Author: Piper Vaughn
Purchase at All Romance  eBooks                    
Cover Artist: 
Genre:  fantasy, holiday
Length:  
Formats:  Epub, MOBI, PDF

Garnet Evergreen has never heard of an elf abandoning the North Pole for a human, but he yearns to be the first. Ever since he saw Wes, the boy with sorrowful eyes, Garnet felt an undeniable kinship. Over the years, he's watched that boy grow into a man, and now he's determined to give Wes a Christmas he'll never forget. If only Garnet had thought to test his father's sleigh before leaving...

Orphaned as a child, Wes spends every Christmas alone at his cabin. When he's woken by a suspicious boom and finds a wrecked sleigh and an unconscious elf, he doesn't know how to react. Wes isn't fanciful. He doesn't give much credence to the stories about Santa Claus and flying reindeer. But a part of him wants desperately to believe when Garnet promises forever, even if life has taught him that no one ever stays... 
Cute premise: an elf from Santa’s workshop wants to spend his life with a human, and finds a way to accomplish that. However, Garnet’s not the most deft pair of hands in the workshop, and manages to drop himself from heights and get into other predicaments from which he needs rescue. Getting pulled out of snowbanks is meet cute but rather embarrassing for the guy who’s now soaking wet.

Wes, on vacation in the frozen forest, is attracted to the inept elf, but his own history doesn’t include a lot of love, so he’s not good at recognizing what’s going on. Also, other forces are at work, both to help and to hinder, so if he gets left again by this pointy-eared Christmas present, he won’t be entirely surprised.

The whole setup is one of proving oneself, which I liked, but I was rather disturbed by one element. Garnet’s always been attracted to Wes, which fine, except, he first sees Wes as a child, and the story evolution doesn’t really start with something on the order of “this kid needs a friend and I could be that friend” and progress from there; it’s always presented as “we should be together always, even if he's not gay, oh goodie he's gay”. I could have missed something, but I don’t think so, because I was looking for it, so it comes across as creepy stalkerish. Garnet reads young, but he doesn’t read young on the par with child Wes, which... brrr. Only his extreme naiveté keeps the squick factor down. Otherwise, everything that takes place in present day is cute.

I seem to be the only one with this problem, so maybe I’m the Grinch. 3 marbles






Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Favorites of 2014

Please join me for a recap of my favorite reads from 2014. Some are from long time favorite authors, others from new to me writers, and all of them made me very, very happy.

CryselleC's favorites 2014 album on Photobucket

Thanks to everyone who came by this year, and thanks to guest reviewers Feliz Faber and Eden Winters, who might be coaxed into more reviews. Thanks to the publishers and authors who offered books, and thanks to the readers who thought I might have something useful to say.

Here's to a fabulous 2015! And keep reading!


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Blog Tour and Review: Canning the Center by Tara Lain


Welcome, Tara Lain and readers! I've just read Tara's new release, Canning the Center, and want to recommend it to you as well. Tara's stopping by with some goodies, giveaways, and above all, a good story. Check out the review, and sign up for a goodie or two.If you like hunky football players, torch singers, and some crossed motives, this is your book for sure. Let's start off with the review.

Six foot seven inch, 300 pound Jamal Jones loves football, so when he finds out the ultra-conservative owner of his new pro football team fired their current center because he’s gay, bisexual Jamal decides to stay in the closet and hang with the females. Then, at a small drag show, he comes face-to-face with his sexual fantasy in the form of Trixie LaRue, a drag queen so exquisitely convincing she scrambles Jamal’s hormones -- and his resolve to nurse his straight side.

Trevor Landry, aka Trixie LaRue, hides more than his genitals. A mathematician so brilliant he can’t be measured, Trevor disguises his astronomical IQ and his quirk for women’s clothes behind his act as a gay activist undergrad at Southern California University.

To Trevor, Jamal is the answer to a dream -- a man who can love and accept both his personas. When he discovers Jamal’s future is threatened if he’s seen with a guy, Trevor becomes Trixie to let Jamal pass as straight. But Trevor risks his position every time he puts on a dress. Is there a closet big enough to hold a football pro and a drag queen?

~*~*~*~*

I really enjoyed the hours I spent reading these two men’s story. While I didn’t read the first book in the series, that’s my loss and not for long! Both men, while very different, had their strengths and their flaws, and had to work their way to an honest relationship.

Jamal, the soft spoken rookie NFL player, knows going in that being open about his bisexuality is going to create friction. If not from his fellow players, then from management, and he’s not encouraged by the object lesson that puts him in the starting lineup. He’s an honest man and resents the deception, and it only gets harder once he meets the fabulous Trixie Larue.

Jamal’s head over heels for Trevor as Trevor and Trevor as Trixie, who sings torch songs with pointed messages. Trevor has a pretty good idea of what Jamal’s up against in the way of keeping secrets and of opposition and support for being true to himself in public. After all, Trevor is part of the problem--he's behind the heat getting turned on the team about GLBT acceptance.  Still, he’s willing to appear in public as Trixie to keep Jamal in the team’s good graces.

Trevor was a slightly problematic character for me. He was willing to function far below capacity and starve himself intellectually in a field where brilliance shows early and quirks are practically required to fit in. Perhaps that was his point, but the sense of screaming WTF was a little loud. I wasn’t sold on his family situation either: his severely demented mother read like she was 80 years old, though his hateful brother rang unfortunately true. Just—so much was stuffed farther down than I could buy into. It did make his final blossoming that much sweeter. He also demonstrates some of the practical problems of dressing in drag, from the discomfort of tucking to how to camouflage an Adam’s apple.

Football of course permeates the story, not too much for someone who isn’t especially into the game, but enough for a very firm foundation. Jamal’s teammates have some complexity: Boogaloo’s in over his head in a few directions but wants the best for his sister and teammates, and Jet the quarterback wants to focus on the game and leave personal matters outside the stadium. Jamal’s family are good, loving people, with a fair amount of idealism. A few characters are drawn with something less than subtlety: Lavinda becomes Evil Harpy Version 5, but she does force a situation into directions no one would at first believe were positive.

The plot kept me turning pages, because Trevor and Jamal kept bashing into each other's issues, whether it was picketing outside the game, prospects evaporating with the truth, or getting introduced to family. The sex was hot, although two guys with that much to lose were awfully carefree about sex in public parking lots.

The ending had a certain “ripped from the headlines” quality that made me want to dance for the appropriateness of the justice and for the joy that Jamal and Trevor can openly take in one another at last. Whatever was drawn with a slightly heavy hand gets burned away in the final chapters, and the book left me with a smile and a sigh. 4.25 marbles




Now for the goodies! Find your copy at Dreamspinner, Amazon, and all your favorite retailers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 23. Her best­selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. She lives with her soul­mate husband and her soul­mate dog in Laguna Beach, California, a pretty seaside town where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”

Website: http://taralain.com/
Blog: http://www.taralain.com/blog
Twitter: https://twitter.com/taralain
FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/taralain
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4541791.Tara_Lain
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/taralain/

Excerpt:

Trevor stuck out a hand. “My name’s Trevor. Pleased to meet you.”

Jamal reached out to take the offered handshake and—whoops! In one gentle pull on Trevor’s arm that clearly required no effort on Jamal’s part, Trevor was up against that huge chest. “I’m Jamal. I don’t mean to be presumptuous. Just tell me to stop. But if I don’t kiss you again soon, I’m a dead man.”

Trevor smiled up into those dark brown eyes. “I would never want to be accused of murder.”