Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Picture is Worth...

Uh Oh, Jethro's been fighting again. Why'd he get that shiner? Or who's gonna kiss it and make it better? Or... Tell us in 100 to 1000 words (drabbles are fine, really) and send your news along too. See How Thousand Word Thursday Works for details.

The rest of us will dream about undoing that remaining strap.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

No Such Thing by A.M. Arthur

Title: No Such Thing
Author: A.M. Arthur
Buy at Carina
Buy at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: not listed
Genre: Contemporary
Length: 67k works
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf,


Twenty-two-year-old Alessandro Silva knows that returning to tiny Perch Creek to help his foster mother was the right thing to do. With no degree and a delinquent's reputation, he's lucky to have landed a job waiting tables. But not everyone is happy he's back, and the only thing keeping his move home from being a total bust is his boss's hot brother.

Jaime Winters spent most of his life watching the world go by, first from a series of hospitals and then from behind big stacks of textbooks. Studying is easier than facing the fact that years of heart failure means he's still a virgin at twenty-three. Until the new waiter in his sister's diner awakens desires he'd long ago given up on.

The last thing Alessandro wants is to fall for someone as fragile as Jaime. And Jaime may have a new heart, but he's scared of what giving it to another person would mean. Their no-strings-attached, instructional approach to sex keeps emotion safely at bay, until a secret from Alessandro's past forces them to confront their feelings in the present...

Review:

I had wildly different reactions to different aspects of the story. Some of them were good, some meh, and one blew my socks off.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Forester by Blaine D. Arden

Title: The Forester
Author: Blaine D. Arden
Buy at Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Buy at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Nathie
Genre: fantasy
Length: 18,600 words
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf,

Blurb:

Kelnaht, a cloud elf, is a truth seeker caught between love and faith. Worse, a murder committed ten days before Solstice reveals an illicit affair between two tree elves he desires more than he can admit: Kelnaht's former lover Ianys, who once betrayed him, and the shunned forester named Taruif, who is not allowed to talk to anyone but The Guide, their spiritual pathfinder. When Taruif turns out to be the only witness for the crime, Kelnaht has to keep Ianys from sacrificing himself and losing his daughter, while at the same time realising he'd gladly sacrifice himself to end Taruif's loneliness.


Review:

This short piece (novella?) packed quite a lot into the slender word count. We are introduced to the society of elves, who have a hierarchy and rules that cannot be bucked, and members of their society who cannot stay within the strictures.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A picture is worth...


I"m going to be very distressed if no one can explain why this lion's mane is in curlers. A hundred to a thousand words pretty please?

See How Thousand Word Thursday Works for details, and the rest of us are going to go O_O.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Thorns by Feliz Faber

Title: Thorns
Author: Feliz Faber
Purchase at Dreamspinner
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Genre: contemporary, sports, interracial
Length: 240 pages
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf, print

How can love between two men possibly be responsible for a horse’s death during the Kentucky Derby? Reporter Will Yeats wants to know the truth.

Seventeen years ago, a love affair between a jockey and a horse trainer and a tragic accident on the racetrack scandalized the horseracing world. But Nic Pithiviers and Louis Meerow seem to have no desire to set the record straight: they refuse the interview and send attorney Francis LeBon to question Will’s motives.

Francis has a special place in his heart for Nic and Louis, who taught him to take pride in himself as a gay man, and he’ll stop at nothing to protect them from a gossipmongering reporter. However, Francis doesn’t expect the reporter’s honesty and genuine determination to exonerate two men falsely accused… or the growing attraction to Will he feels.

While visiting with Nic and Louis at their horse training center in France, Will uncovers a web of intrigue, secrets, and old lies, and he unwittingly sets a series of perilous events into motion that not only threaten to destroy his budding relationship with Francis, but Nic and Louis’s decades-long commitment as well.

Review:

Fans of Dick Francis will delight in a racing based novel, and fans of mm romance will appreciate that instead of 12 pages of the hero getting beaten up, we have the MC getting smexed up by a hot lawyer.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Slushy slogs and diamonds on the ground

Just so you know, I’ve been getting corrupted at Chuck Wendig’s blog. After I read him, I cuss a lot more, and let slip weird and personal bits of information that may not be strictly true. While I don’t really believe his story about the garter snake and the serving spoon, my little ditty about the socket set and the VCR might possibly be true. Or not. Well.

Lately he’s been going off on the self-pubbed volcano of crap. I can sort of see it. His plea for self-pubbers to take some pride, get some edits, make a nice cover, write a blurb that entices, really is in a lot of people’s best interests to listen to. Of course the comments that followed were kind of harsh. Like, I won’t read indie ‘cause it’s all kinds of crap.

I’m not too worried about it on our end of the genre spectrum here. I read indie books. Jordan Castillo Price self-pubs. Josh Lanyon does too now. Never heard anyone complain about their quality. They’re pros, they work their publishing like a business, they do the right things to create a lovely chunk of entertainment. And a lot of other folks I read do it too. Because there are some great pieces out there that didn’t go through an imprint, from authors who take pride.

Of course, I see some of the volcano spew too. Some from authors who should know better. From writers I really did think knew the difference between its and it’s, or that sentences need punctuation on the ends. Be glad I don’t name those names, they make me talk like Chuck Wendig and then I say things like fucking fuckbasket.

Some indie writers have asked me to read their work, and I have. Some I plan to read again. Some I probably shouldn’t have said yes to. Some I’ve declined. Some indies I’ve bought. I buy a lot of books from a lot of authors.

Some I’ve opened the file on and thought oh no, there went my remaining sanity, and closed it again. If you don’t believe that a good cover and a good blurb matter, yes, they do. If, against my better judgment, I look past an eyesearing cover (which in mm is relative, I know) and a blurb of stones and errors, the story tends to match. I try to weed these out early. They aren’t all indie, either, which is another fucking fuckbasket.

One problem I do see as being more of an mm indie issue is that a complete story arc may or may not be in there. If the book is clearly One Big Book divided for manageability, and does have some completed plot arc as part of the bigger situation, that’s cool. But if the books are short and really should be all three together for a plot arc, that sets me off. I stopped reading fanfiction because I got so tired of a neat set up that got abandoned before the plot really started, and a lot of “Book 1”s seem like more of the same, only with money.

Chuck Wendig didn’t really address that volcanoes make diamonds too. There are some spectacular indie things out there. And they aren’t too hard to find. Here’s three of my favorites, some I’ve reviewed, some coming soon.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What's right about this? All three books are clearly marked as going together, they have a great story, lovely covers, pretty formatting, and just in general show how it's done right.

This Digital Box Set contains all three volumes of the Impulse trilogy: Inertia, Acceleration and Velocity.

DRAWN TOGETHER BY IRRESISTIBLE FORCES

Quiet, grounded Detroit handyman Derrick Chance isn’t looking for a relationship. After spending his twenties recovering from a series of tragic losses, he’s content with his insular existence and not interested in risking the possibility of another.

Stylish accountant Gavin Hayes has every reason to avoid entanglements, too. Fresh out of an abusive relationship with a world-class manipulator, he questions whether he’s ever going to be fit for another partner. At the very least, it will be months before he knows just how big an issue his future health will be if he tries again.

But when a series of home repairs unexpectedly turns into an extravagant game of flirtation, they discover that the last thing they thought they wanted is the one thing they can’t live without. As the autumn months pass and they wait for the final verdict on Gavin’s health, the two wounded men learn to open up, to let someone into their lives, and to trust again. But when Gavin’s dangerous ex re-enters the picture, will their new and fragile bond withstand the final test? 

Find at Amazon. I reviewed each book separately. Might as well get the set, you'll start and want to finish right away.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
What's done right?  A complete plot arc, it stands alone, even if it's better in order, the tale is fast paced and gripping, we CARE about these two guys and besides, Lucky's the  funniest pain in the ass ever. Also I want to lick the cover. Review to follow.

 Renegade biker. Drug runner. Recovering addict. Wanted by the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau. But he isn’t a crook, he’s the law.

SNB Agent Bo Schollenberger’s solved his cases using his brains and not a gun, and with his partner, not alone. Now he’s handed a tough new case involving designer drugs that turn users violent. One false move could end his life as he immerses himself into a motorcycle gang to locate the source. His fate depends on how well he can impersonate someone else. Someone named Cyrus Cooper.

Cyrus is everything Bo Schollenberger isn’t, including the badass enforcer for a smuggling ring. He establishes pecking order with his fists and doesn’t take shit from anybody, not even the undercover agent who comes to help his case.

Simon “Lucky” Harrison’s always been the best, whichever side of the law he was on. Former trafficker turned SNB agent, he damned well ought to be undercover in this motorcycle gang, instead of hanging around the office going crazy with new policies, new people, and “inter-departmental cooperation” that sticks him in a classroom. Yet he’s passed over for the SNB’s biggest case in decades in favor of the rookie who shares his bed. A man Lucky thought he knew.

When survival depends on a web of tangled lies, lines blur, worlds collide, and a high stakes game turns friend to foe. Lucky knows the difference between Bo the agent and Cyrus the outlaw, but does Bo?
 Find at Amazon
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
What's done right: a hotdamn of a standalone story, where the stakes are higher than just getting shoved out of the closet, a great setting, and a paperback copy that looks as good as anything on my shelf. Review to follow.

Pro cyclist Luca Biondi lives for the race. For the star of Team Antano-Clark, victory lies within his grasp—if he can outdistance 200 other hopefuls, avoid suspicion from race officials, and keep his lieutenant more friend than foe. Luca also has secrets, and eyes for amateur cyclist and journalist Christopher Nye.

Christopher understands Luca’s need to keep their relationship under wraps, but chafes at hiding in the shadows of his lover’s career. He’s ready to cheer Luca’s victories, but he knows too well how triumph can turn to tears. While Christopher’s heart sees Luca the man, his inner journalist—and his editor—sees the cycling world’s biggest scoop.

From the jagged curves of the Colorado Rockies to the viciously steep Belgian hills, Luca can ride out any bumps—except rumors about his loyalty.

A few words in the wrong ear could crash everything. With miles between them, hints of scandal, and Luca’s fierce need to guard his reputation, a journalist might have to let go of the biggest story of his career or risk forcing his lover to abandon the race. Christopher and Luca face a path more treacherous than any road to the summit in the Italian Alps.  Find at Amazon
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Notice I didn't say anything about the editing. That's because nothing sticks out, these three (5?) books are all coherent and proofread to a fare thee well.  So there, Chuck Wendig.

If this is indie, I like it.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Picture is Worth...

A picture is worth a thousand words, but this one's only half a picture because the whole one is behind the cut where it won't get me in trouble. I think. Even if it is all Qing dynasty and historical and such.



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Zipper Fall by Kate Pavelle

Title: Zipper Fall
Author: Kate Pavelle
Purchase at Dreamspinner
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Genre: contemporary, mystery
Length: 350 pages
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf, print


Wyatt Gaudens, an advertising executive and adrenaline junkie, has fine-tuned the art of breaking and entering into apartments, misusing his considerable rock climbing skills. Once inside, he steals a pretty, shiny thing or two. When his friend Reyna complains that her jerk of a boss makes her workplace a living hell, he breaks into her boss's home to get even. More than any other pretty thing, what really catches his eye the most is her boss, Jack.

Working hard to overcome his own lingering problems, investment specialist Jack Azzuri focuses on his second chance at making his business grow. But grief for his sister, Celia, recently killed in a suspicious climbing accident, sabotages his attempt to start over. When he meets Wyatt, he's strongly attracted even though Wyatt is the last person he should associate with. With Jack's explosive temper and Wyatt's adrenaline addiction, the path to a stable relationship will be a tough climb. They might succeed if they can sort out what really matters, as well as learn to take the good with the bad. Wyatt hopes to speed their progress by solving the mystery that’s weighing Jack down: how did Celia really die?

Review:

I have seldom been as perplexed by a book as I am with this one. Maybe I should put it on the “Guilty Pleasure” shelf, because while it had some flaws that normally send me frothing at the mouth, I ended up enjoying it a great deal.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Queen's Librarian by Carole Cummings

Title: The Queen’s Librarian
Author: Carole Cummings
Buy at Dreamspinner
Buy at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist:Paul Richmond
Genre: fantasy
Length: 224 pages
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf, print


All Lucas Tripp wants is prosperity for the tenants of his family’s estate; good weather for the harvest; suitable matches for his sisters; a little money left over at the end of the month; and more quality time with his boyfriend, Alex Booker. That’s not so much to ask for, right?

Wrong. When his sister’s new suitor suddenly disappears, Lucas is drawn into an adventure of a lifetime—kicking and screaming all the way. Magical beings who were allegedly banished hundreds of years ago are coming through portals that were supposed to be shut against them—and that’s only part of Lucas’s problem. The rest consists of missing princes, breaking and entering, suspicious magicians, well-meaning women who are far too interested in Lucas’s sex life… the list goes on. Lucas is decidedly Not Amused, but he’ll get over it someday. Probably. After all, there’s always Alex.

Review:

Regular readers here know that I adore Carole Cummings’ work, and to find a full length novel where she’d taken a light tone is a new treat! She describes this book as her antidote to living in a much darker character’s head for three books, and she’s brought us along for the diversion.

Comedy is much harder than it looks, and sustaining it for this long a work is a skill. The author isn’t going for a laugh a minute, but she takes a gentle tone that pokes fun at everything from the Jane-Austen-ish issues the main character, Lucas, faces, to his travails with another character who becomes Quite Vexed with him. I did chuckle aloud often, and yet the underlying seriousness of their quest didn’t get lost.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Picture is Worth...





Somebody's thinking complicated thoughts. Anyone who wants to put up to 1000 words (flash fiction, I'm cool with a 100 word drabble or anything in between)  send your ficlet and your news to post here.

See How Thousand Word Thursday Works for details. The rest of us will speculate on how warm it's getting inside that black clothing.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Pantomime by Laura Lam

Title: Pantomime
Author: Laura Lam
Buy through Strange Chemistry
Amazon buy link
Cover Artist: Tom Bagshaw
Genre: fantasy, YA
Length: 392 pages (US paper edition), 4400 Kindle locations so I’m estimating about 130k words
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf, print

R. H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass—remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone—are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.

Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star.

But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.

Review:

This book is not at all what the blurb makes it look like. That’s fine, we’ve seen star-crossed lovers before. We haven’t seen the premise of this book before.

There’s really no way to talk about this book without what I consider a small spoiler: Micah is Gene, Iphigenia, run away from her family before they perpetrate a massive act of betrayal upon her. This book earned its place in this review site by the gender-bending aspects of Gene’s makeup and how he chooses to deal with it. All the clues are there from the beginning, both voices are the same and in first person, so if they weren't the same person, it would be weird. The demands of being female in this society sit very uncomfortably upon Gene: being the androgynous Micah in the circus is a more comfortable if less affluent fit.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Little Crow by Caitlin Ricci

Title: The Little Crow
Author: Caitlin Ricci
Buy at Amber Allure
Buy at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Trace Edward Zaber
Genre: paranormal
Length: 85K / 246 pages
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf, print

Detective Jamison Landry knew his job was never going to be easy. He’s dealt with the worst criminals imaginable and believes in his work and the community he serves. But he’s never met someone quite like Mal before.

The mysterious man, rescued from a basement in which he was chained by cultists, keeps Jamison guessing, both confuses and excites him, and Jamison isn’t sure how he feels about that. Plus, things turn from unusual to downright strange when people start insisting Mal isn’t quite human. And Jamison’s creepy dreams of crows and graveyards don’t make things any better for him.

Will Mal stay around long enough for Jamison to figure out his secrets, even learn his full name, or will this stranger leave him aching for more?

Review:

I had read the beginning of this story in it’s prior incarnation in separate sections. I was intrigued, but wanted all the story in one place. My wish was granted: this new version has the entire story arc.

Detective Jamison Landry has the strangest victim to assist, rescued from a cult intent on some strange kind of mayhem. Weird things happen around Mal, weirder things come out of his mouth. With circumstances twisting around Jamison to throw him into constant contact with Mal, he finds himself both drawn and repelled.