A Review of Opposite Day by Erica Kealey

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This review was first posted on JoyfullyJayblog where I am a guest reviewer:

Rating: 4.75 stars

Davis Wheaton is having the bad day of all bad days.  His live-in boyfriend has cheated on him (not the first boyfriend to do so), his job and family are strangling him in expectations and demands, and it is pouring outside.  Unbelievably,  his day gets worse.  Standing at the bus stop, a passing car hits the puddle in front of him and he’s drenched.

Enter Brody Simons, hot, handsome, and the driver of the car that just soaked him.   Brody is the opposite of every man Davis has ever dated and not the type of man his family would find acceptable.  When Brody offers Davis a ride home to make up for the soaking, a range of choices appear before him.  There is the safe, normal path…refuse the ride and go on as usual.  Or take a chance and do the opposite of what he has always done.  What will Davis choose?

This is a delight of a book.  Winning characters, great dialog, and realistic scenes combine to present a picture of a life on hold until an unexpected opportunity offers him the chance to make a change.   Davis charmed me right from the beginning.  Erica Kealey makes it so easy to empathize with him. Davis’ frustrations are our frustrations.  The tone is just right for someone feeling boxed in but stymied in his attempts to move forward. Brody is another great character, sympathetic, easy going and willing to take a  chance on rejection from a “suit”.  Brody has layers to him and that pulls in the reader and Davis at the same time.

All of this happens in 11,000 words.  Opposite Day is a book small in size but not in heart. By the end of the book, I wanted to buy a “Opposite Day” t-shirt or make Opposite Day a national holiday. Trust me…it would do us all good.  So does reading this book.  You’ll love it.

Cover:  I wish they had chosen any color other than red here.  The color choice makes me want to look away and the black font makes it hard to read the author’s name.
Opposite Day [Ebook]
Blurb: Davis has it all: the wealth, the connections, the job, the car—and the cheating ex. His long weekend with his lover ruined, tired of his life and the way it always goes wrong, Davis just wants to go home and enjoy a stiff drink. All that changes, however, when a moment of carelessness results in a chance meeting. Brody is everything that Davis is not supposed to want, so far from his tightly-regulated world that spending even thirty seconds with him would be a foolish waste of time. Any other day of the week, Davis wouldn’t waste his time. But every other day hasn’t worked out so great, and Davis decides that for just one day, maybe he should try something different… Word count: 11,000

Available from Less Than Three Press

Review of Crossroads by Keta Diablo

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Rating: 1 star

I have never given a book one star before. Usually there is at least one redeeming factor that makes it two stars. But not this story, this is pure rubbish. Everything about this book screams trash bin – from poor writing and unlikable main characters to rape masquerading as BDSM, nothing works.

Another reviewer states that Keta Diablo likes non pc characters. If so, that’s fine. But this goes far beyond that. They are not merely non pc, the main character is reprehensible and the author seems unable to tell the difference.

Frank McGuire is a psychic ex cop who has been asked to help the police find a serial killer. Frank left the force after his partner died in his arms during an arrest. He distanced himself from everything that reminded him of his former life, including his partner’s family. Now, his partner’s widow calls Frank with a frantic request which is remarkable considering he had abandoned the family. Her son has gone missing and she wants Frank to find him. So far sounds harmless right?

Stop reading if you don’t want spoilers:

Spoiler Alert: But it turns out that both Frank and Rand (the boy ) are gay. Rand idolized Frank and Frank had sexual thoughts about the kid when he was underage. Once Frank finds the boy (now 19), he follows him back to his apartment, dons a black hood and rapes him to scare him into going home. I am sure that Keta Diablo would tell you that it is BDSM but it’s not. Its rape. And what’s worse is that when Rand at a later date ties up Frank and tries to threaten him (to get a little payback which he is due), Frank gets loose and rapes him again even as the boy pleads with him to stop, that he is hurting him. This is a man Rand worshiped as a kid. Later Frank only feels nominal guilt and really at this point, the reader doesn’t believe it. The man’s a pedophile and a sadist and the main character?

The psychic section of the novel is weak as well. Pick any D rated horror movie and they do a better job with the dead floating about with messages for the living than this does. More “flipping pages, flipping pages”. But the worst is yet to come. The serial killer ends up with Rand’s sister in his basement so Frank and Rand are obliged to rescue her. So it turns out that there are two killers operating together, and the main one is a transvestite who does the torturing and killing. Of course, it’s a Transvestite. Because that’s NEVER been done before. *shakes head* But the very worst of this book? That Rand moves in with the man who has raped him twice, saying that his mother approves. Boy loves man who rapes him, moves in with him. Does nobody have a problem with this? It would be different if they were writing about a character that had Stockholm syndrome but that is not the case here. Shades of Luke and Laura and General Hospital in the 80’s. It caused an uproar than. It should still do so now.

So like I said. No redeeming value. Definitely not worth the bytes it takes up on my computer so I am deleting it. I usually give an author at least 3 tries before I stop reading their books but may make the exception here. It would have to be a great recommendation before I pick up anything else from Keta Diablo. It says she has an “environmental lake” on her six acre property.j That should have warned me as lakes by their very nature are “environmental”. *shakes head* Clueless, she is absolutely clueless.

Don’t buy it, don’t read it. I’m done.

Cover:  The story makes this cover much worse.  Here is “smarmy guy” as Chris from Stumbling Over Chaos calls him.  Look him up in her Misadventure in Stock Photography. Given the content of the book, having a smirking naked guy on the cover is rubbish.  So rubbish on the cover, and rubbish inside. Perfect for each other.

A Review of Burn by T. J.Klune

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This review was written for  and posted on JoyfullyJay on February 20, 2012:

Rating: 3.75 stars

Burn is the highly anticipated second book by author TJ Klune, whose debut novel, Bear, Otter And The Kid was a wonderful and well received story of a young man coming to term with his sexuality within the confines of family neglect and maternal abuse.

“My name is Felix Paracel, and when I was nine, I became angry at my mother and killed her with fire that shot from my hands.”

With those words, T J Klune again takes us  into the mind of another young man seeking out both his identity and his destiny, Felix Paracel.

Burn takes place in an alternate Universe where Elementals, those people who can control the elements of fire, earth, wind, and water, are a minority race on Earth.  There are many of the same historical markers (i.e, WWII but with Elementals having helped win the war against Germany), but just alien enough to throw off familiarity.  Felix and his father have fled underground after Felix killed his mother. They took new identities and lost themselves in the metropolis of Terra City.  But the darkness is rising with intolerance and bigotry are now the ruling forces within the Government.  Much like Nazi Germany, the rights of Elementals are being taken away, and they are being rounded up for experimentation and incarceration.   As in any epic tale, it is time for the One to appear to save his people and that is Felix.

Burn is the first volume  in the Elementally Evolved Trilogy.  Here TJ Klune is striving for epic storytelling. He has created an ambitious Creation saga, complete with a huge cast of characters, a Tree God, and, of course, the Savior figure, the One…known here as the Findo Unum—the Split One—whose  “coming has been foretold for generations”.  Along with Felix, there is Seven, his Iuratum Cor, or Felix’ heart/mate, and a group of people who make up Findo Unum’s guard of warriors.

I was really looking forward to this book after reading Bear, Otter And The Kid because of its warm, funny, and sometimes heartbreaking characters.  T.J. Klune had warned everyone that this was different in scope than BOATK which would have been fine if the quality of storytelling remained the same.  Unfortunately for me, it did not.

In reaching to create such a large vision in Burn, the story became weighed down with too many timelines (Felix is narrating the tale from the future, then Felix is relating the story in the present, back to the future tense, then Seven is telling Felix the story of the past, then to the present and so on).   At one point, Felix (future) tells us about a betrayal that will happen soon (present), but then loses any emotional buildup as it takes another chapter to happen while they all train.  Sigh.

T. J. Klune has a wonderful way letting dialog paint a picture of a character, and that is true here. Tick and Tock the Clock Twins to Otis, a brain damaged gentle giant, come instantly to life through their words.  Seven too seems realistic, driven and obsessed with finding Felix and keeping him safe . It is the character of Felix himself, age 24 when the first chapter starts, that seems in so uncertain.   His “voice” seems to vary between that of a rebellious teen to one of indeterminate age, sometimes on the same page.  Can you care about someone when you can’t get a grip on who they are?  I don’t think so.

Repetition in the narrative is another killer here.  I think the author did it on purpose, trying for a certain greek chorus effect, but it merely becomes irritating and bogs the story down further. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I read about Seven’s “ocean eyes”.  This becomes a problem when you start anticipating that phrase instead of paying attention to the story.

There are several riddles figured into Burn that are supposed to shock you at the end as they are revealed.  I won’t give anything away but while one is well concealed the main  secret is easily guessed at from the very beginning so the shock value is lost. Again I blame overly dense, repetitive storytelling and wonder where his editor was.

It is not until the last two chapters, that T. J. Klune’s talent starts to shine.  It is here at the end that the promise of real storytelling that flickered throughout the majority of the book roars into life.  The writing is crisp, the action dynamic, and the story comes alive with all the fire and wind that Felix commands.

And it is that promise at the end that will make me continue with the series.  I can hope that with this volume out of the way and the exposition done, that the story of Felix Paracel will become more concise, more linear, and of course, elementally evolved.

My rating:  3.75

Cover:  I love the cover for this book.  Nice imagery and perfect for the story within.

 

Review of Lessons in Discovery, Cambridge Fellows #3 by Charlie Cochrane

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Rating: 5 stars

Lessons In Discovery is the third in the Cambridge Fellows series, and the one that cemented my love for Jonty and Orlando. With the first book, the characters felt very removed and dispassionate. I loved the historical feel of the book, but the men? Not so much. The second book, Lessons in Seduction, started to draw me in, as the characters fleshed out and become real. Then the angst and layers of Lessons in Discovery pulled me completely into the world of St. Bride’s and the pairing of Drs. Coppersmith and Stewart.

Previously, Orlando had finally gotten over his fear and made love to Jonty as he had long wished. Now, an enthusiastic partner in their love making, Orlando runs up the staircase to the bedroom ahead of Jonty, slips, and hits his head. The result is a catastrophic head injury that causes partial amnesia. Gone is the year in which he met and fell in love with Jonty. Gone is all memories of first friendship as well as first love. The pain that Jonty feels upon learning that Orlando doesn’t remember him is palpable. But the worst is to come when Jonty decides to tell Orlando that they weren’t just friends but lovers. Trust me when I tell you to have the tissues handy for this one.

Lessons in Discovery take the reader on a journey with Orlando, as he uncovers the layers to his past with Jonty and starts to fall in love with him all over again. Charlie Cochrane does a splendid job with the setting and dialog. I actually felt as though I were walking the frozen fields and paths with Jonty and Orlando during their visit to Jonty’s family at Christmas time. The descriptions of the Hogmanay Ball filled me with delight. And as usual, there is a mystery for the fellows to solve. This time is the mystery of the Woodfield Ward, whose skeletal remains have been found in a well. Both the resolutions of the mystery and Orlando’s missing memories are interwoven beautifully, creating a tapestry of love, mystery, and murder that leaves the reader so very satisfied and content.

So it’s merrily on to the rest of the series. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Jonty and Orlando. I am sure that there will be love, angst and a good mystery as the sun shines over the Cambridge landscape. I think I will go find a supply of bulleyes in preparation for our next visit. Join me.

Blurb from the Publisher, Linden Bay Romance:  Cambridge 1906, On the very day Jonty Stewart proposes that he and Orlando Coppersmith move in together, Fate trips them up. Rather, it trips Orlando, sending him down a flight of stairs and leaving him with an injury that erases his memory. Instead of taking the next step in their relationship, they’re back to square one. It’s bad enough that Orlando doesn’t remember being intimate with Jonty—he doesn’t remember Jonty at all.

Back inside the introverted, sexually innocent shell he inhabited before he met Jonty, Orlando is faced with two puzzles. Not only does he need to recover the lost pieces of his past, he’s also been tasked by the Master to solve a four-hundred-year-old murder before the end of term. The college’s reputation is riding on it.

Crushed that his lover doesn’t remember him, Jonty puts aside his grief to help decode old documents for clues to the murder. But a greater mystery remains—one involving the human heart.

To solve it, Orlando must hear the truth about himself—even if it means he may not fall in love with Jonty the second time around

Cover:  Love these sepia toned covers, perfect for the time period and the story contained within.

 

A New Delight – French Cooking At Home with Laura Calder

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I love cooking shows.  They give me new ideas, they make me drool over spices, pastas, breads and knife skills.  I dream of new kitchens and Vulcan ovens.  It doesn’t matter if they are cooking Italian (think Giada) or New Orleans style (think Emeril), they are a constant source of delight.

Recently, I was flipping through the channels and came upon a quirky cooking show on the new Cooking Network.  French Food At Home with Laura Calder.  It quickly became a must see, must DVR show for me.

A Canadian show, French Cooking At Home disarms the viewer immediately with a kitchen set that could be your kitchen or your neighbors.  Intimate and low key, Laura Calder introduces the viewer to easy to understand French cooking techniques and recipes.  With nary a modern kitchen appliance in view, Laura Calder shows us the simple way to clarify butter to making light as a cloud orange chocolate mousse.  It also helps that she is lovely, with a self-depreciating self of humor.

 

Here is her introduction to the recipe Mountain Duck:

“You’re probably picturing some poor lost mallard in hiking boots, yodeling his lungs out in the snowy Alps.  Actually, the mountain influence here is cured ham and the duck is just duck,…”.  See? So charming…

Accompanied by a soundtrack that seems to come from the movie, The Triplets of Belleville, Laura Calder builds each show around a simple topic like Puff Pastries or Butter. To keep things easy, she only demonstrates 3 things at the most.  Laura Calder will give even the most green of cooks the confidence to try something new.

I also got her first cookbook, French Food At Home.  Much like the show, it is simple and easy to understand.  There aren’t any pictures or glossy pages, just good recipes, amusing and wonderful descriptions and techniques to try. I love it!

So slow down, turn on French Cooking At Home and enjoy!

LGBT Romance Spotlight: Goodreads M/M Romance Group

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LGBT Romance Spotlight: Goodreads M/M Romance Group.I love Goodreads and stumbled upon the M/M Romance Group  quite by accident to my delight.

Here the discussions are lively, and thought provoking.  The members always interesting and they love sharing the books they read, just like me.

This interview with Heidi Cullinan, author and blogger of The Amazon Iowan, and Moderatorix Lori, our head whipsnapper on how it all started.  Great interview.

A Review of Riot Boy (Superpowered Love #2) by Katey Hawthorne

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Rating: 5 stars

What do you do when your lover cheats on you? Why you head out and go clubbing and get your drink on, that’s what Etienne Fletcher is doing. Accompanied by his sister, Et is listening to a local cover band, downing Martini’s, all the while wondering if he wouldn’t be better off just going home. He’s feeling old and out of place, a Abercrombie and Fitch in a hipster world. Until he spies sex on two legs and it’s headed straight for him.

Eyes rimmed with black eyeliner, all lean lines and tats, Brady is everything Et’s former boyfriend wasn’t. With a smirk and a roll of his hips, Brady turns Etienne’s world upside, picks his pocket and disappears.

So begin’s Katey Hawthorne’s Riot Boy and what a wild sexy romp this is. Et and Brady are both wonderful and wonderfully unique characters right from the start. Their true personalities are concealed by the front they present to the world. Both have hidden depths and one has a frightening secret. Written in Et’s POV, the reader tags along as Etienne’s attraction to and need for Brady grows. With music, Rimbaud and live wire dialog, the author sends you on a careening ride of sex, anxiety and love no matter the obstacles before them. And there are plenty.

This is the first book I have read by Katey Hawthorne but it won’t be the last. Joyous, succinct, and sexy, here are two characters that will live in your hearts long after the last page has turned. And isn’t that why we keep reading?

Note; The author includes a playlist at the back of the book so you can listen to the music played in the novel. I loved this as I was not familiar with all the bands. Great job.

Cover: Loved the cover, it represents the novel perfectly.

Blurb from the Publisher:

Etienne never thought getting his pocket picked could lead to a first date. He knows the second he catches punk boy Brady’s eye that the guy is pure trouble, but Et can’t resist his wicked sense of humor, pretty face, cold hands — and the “piss off” swagger when Brady’s on stage with his band doesn’t hurt, either.

From Rimbaud to Buzzcocks to Malbec to handcuffs, they introduce each other to their favorite pleasures, and the chemistry is unstoppable. But Brady disappears in the night, won’t give Etienne a phone number, doesn’t talk about his past; Etienne’s never known someone so hungry for affection but with so many trust issues. Et would give all he has, but he has the feeling Brady needs saving from something before he can take what Et offers.

Then, the “something” shows up: Brady’s dangerous family, all of them more than human — including Brady, who has the ability to supercool matter with the slightest touch. Throw in the family talent for criminal activity, and it’s an explosion waiting to happen.

Et wants to help him escape his past, but if Brady keeps disappearing, he may not get the chance.

Available from Amazon, All Romance, Loose Id (http://www.loose-id.com/Riot-Boy.aspx) Continue reading

A Review of Infected Freefall by Andrea Speed

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Rating: 4.5 stars

Here we are at book 4 of the series and I am still as seriously addicted as I became on Infected Prey. It is a good thing that I already know that another book is being written because if I thought this could even be the last book, I would pull a Roan, and roar at Andrea Speed at full volume. Lucky for all of us that will not be necessary. Andrea, can we talk Book 10?

Roan McKitchen (“….it’s Mc KEE an” as he reminds people) is one of those remarkable characters who is so large, so real, that they live beyond the page. His actions, thoughts, and words leap out at you, grab you by the collar, and shake until they get your attention. With each book, Roan continues to evolve, changes caused by the virus taking him into unknown territory physically and mentally. This is a fascinating take on shapeshifters and it has me hooked.

Paris, Roan’s love and partner, has been dead now for several years and Roan is still feeling the loss. But he has moved on enough to have a boyfriend in Dylan (artist and bartender) who is questioning their relationship. I like the character of Dylan but he’s no Paris and knows it (and the reader knows it). Engaging secondary characters like Holden Fox (prostitute, assistant), Murphy, Gordo, and Gabe from the Police Department – all present and accounted for which is a huge plus as Andrea Speed is as marvelous with these people as she is with her main characters.

Roan is juggling several cases again. The warring leadership of the Church of the Divine Transformation want’s Eli’s computer back, a client of Holden’s has died and it may be murder, and oh yes, there’s a rogue cat on a people eating binge. All demand his immediate attention as does his relationship with Dylan. Roan may deal with some of these issues with quips and pills, but his headaches are getting worse and so is his depression.
Tension and dread ratchet up with each turn of the page. By the time I was halfway through, I had as big a headache as Roan’s, mostly from my imagination. I won’t give any spoilers but the last section of the book was handled totally differently from the other 3. Don’t look for everything to be settled, there are still answers out there I hope to some of the questions posed in this book. But what a way to get the reader engaged and keep them there.

So here I am, on the edge of my seat……waiting and wanting….to see where Roan and the virus take me next. Please, Andrea Speed, don’t make me wait too long.

Blurb from Dreamspinner Press: “Conceived bearing the lion strain of the virus, Roan is the only fully functioning virus child in the country—maybe in the world. But that doesn’t mean he’s okay. He’s still struggling with the death of his husband and the guilt of finding new love; his old enemy, the Church of the Divine Transformation, is becoming increasingly hostile; and he’s taken on a tragic cold case involving a long-missing boy.

As Roan fights to control the lion inside him, his world explodes with all kinds of trouble. The leader of the church is ramping up the violence against him, calling Roan out as a traitor to his kind. There’s a loose Infected terrorizing the city. And Holden, male prostitute and Roan’s unofficial assistant, brings him a case involving the suspicious death of one of Holden’s clients, which puts Roan far too close to a murderer for his state of mind.”

Available from Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, All Romance, Fictionwise.

 

A Review of Lessons in Desire, Cambridge Fellows #2 by Charlie Cochrane

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I have just finished Lessons in Desire, the second in the Cambridge Fellows series and I am beginning to see the reasons for the good reviews. Unlike the first book which left me detached and uninvolved in the characters, Lessons in Desire delighted me and gave me a better understanding of Drs. Coppersmith and Stewart as well as the times they lived in.

It is 1906 and classes at St. Brides College have been adjourned for the holidays. Jonty Stewart has persuaded his love and colleague to go on vacation with him to Jersey, a journey Orlando views with trepidation. Once the fellows reach the shores of Jersey, the book really began to engage me. As Jonty introduces Orlando to the joys of the seashore, from swimming to hunting crabs in the tidal pools, you experience these precious first times with him. Charlie Cochrane’s descriptions of the shore and its delights are lyrical. She clearly loves the sea and has spent much time there in much the same pursuits as Jonty and Orlando. Orlando’s repressed and restricted childhood leaves him unprepared for the childish games and day trips Jonty has prepared for them to do.

This is such a wonderful look into a gentler, slower time. I loved riding with them on the bicycles, or catching shrimp and bedeviling the hermit crabs in their favorite cove. I laughed at their descriptions of the bathing costumes and Orlando’s embarrassment in disrobing outside of his room (even though he would be merely taking off the clothes on top of the bathing outfit). As Orlando slowly opens himself up to fully experiencing being on holiday with Jonty, more of his past is revealed.

Of course, a murder occurs at the inn they are staying at and, much like Agatha Christie, you are introduced to all the suspects during Orlando and Jonty’s stay. From the kind older couple to the young honeymooners, all the staple characters of an English murder mystery are here. But unlike a Agatha Christie novel, the murderer is easy to spot and the crime not really much of a mystery. That was my only real disappointment in this book. I wished that the murder mystery was as high in quality as the descriptions of Jonty and Orlando on holiday. But I love the fact that this is a typical cosie but a m/m cosie, a lovely addition to the genre.

If you are looking for hot, descriptive sex, then you will find the title misleading and the book disappointing. Here Jonty wishes Orlando to open himself to exploring new horizons of all types, not just including physical love. The lovemaking is gentle and usually under wraps as it were, left more to the readers imagination than visually realistic in terms. I thought this was very much in keeping with the tone and flavor of the story and feel that anything else would have been inappropriate.

I look forward to the next installment in the series, Lessons in Discovery and another visit with Jonty and Orlando.

Rating: 4 stars

Note: I really like the cover of this book. It evokes the time period beautifully unlike the new modern cover for the first novel which was jarring.

With the recent series of college murders behind him, Cambridge Fellow Jonty Stewart is in desperate need of a break. A holiday on the beautiful Channel Island of Jersey seems ideal, if only he can persuade Orlando Coppersmith to leave the security of the college and come with him. Orlando is a quiet man who prefers academic life to venturing out into the world. Within the confines of their rooms at the university, it’s easy to hide the fact that he and Jonty are far more than friends. But the desire to spend more time alone with the man he loves is an impossible lure to resist. When a brutal murder occurs at the hotel where they’re staying, the two young men are once more drawn into the investigation. The race to catch the killer gets complicated by the victim’s son, Ainslie, a man who seems to find Orlando too attractive to resist. Can Stewart and Coppersmith keep Ainslie at bay, keep their affair clandestine, and solve the crime?

Available from: LindenBay Publishers, All Romance, Amazon, Fictionwise.