A Free Dreamer Review: The Hunger Man by Scott D. Pomfret

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The Hunger ManAt the outset of the Great Irish Potato Famine of 1845-50, a family of Irish revolutionaries attacks a British food convoy and kidnaps a young English officer named Julian Hawke. This first act of overt rebellion unleashes a series of events that both inextricably ties the O’Rahilly clan to Hawke and to the gay seanachie (storyteller) Ciaran Leath, but also seals their fates.

The only daughter, Muireann O’Rahilly, an aspiring physician, fails to resist the strong mutual attraction between her and Hawke. Hawke tries to balance his love for Muireann and his growing love for Ireland with his duty to suppress the budding rebellion. Ciaran Leath, who falls in love with both Julian Hawke as well as an angelic young tinker man, foresees both the coming famine and the disintegration of his adopted O’Rahilly clan, but finds himself unheard and powerless to protect them—or himself. Encountering spirits of the dead and other bad portents, Ciaran Leath invokes his old benefactor, the ancient Faerie Fin Bheara, but in doing so learns something devastating about himself and of what he is capable. When the O’Rahilly clan sets its sights on assassinating Queen Victoria, whom Hawke is sworn to protect, during her 1848 state visit to Cork, the stakes loom large for all involved, and the story turns inexorably toward a tragic end.

Against the backdrop of the terrible beauty and exquisite misery of southwestern Ireland during the famine years, this part-comic, part-romantic struggle against starvation, oppression, and one’s own worst impulses plots an epic arc from London and Dublin to Cork and New York City. Magic, Faeries, haunts, spirits, legends, ancient kings, monsters, and lovers richly populate this clash between the British Crown and the Irish people, and there can only be one survivor.

This is a work of literary/genre fiction.

If I had only two words to describe “The Hunger Man”, they’d probably be “difficult” and “strange”.

Difficult because of all the Gaelic words. Difficult because of the subject matter. Difficult because of the countless references to Irish mythology. Difficult because this book broke my heart. And difficult, if not impossible, to forget.

And strange mostly because of Ciarana, the seanachie. I’m still not entirely sure what to think of him. Did he really spend years living with the Fae? Or was he just insane and hallucinated it all? Or did he just pretend to be insane?

One thing’s for sure: “The Hunger Man” was incredibly intense. I was captivated. Still am, really, even a week after finishing it. In all honesty, this book left me speechless, so I’m having a very hard time coming up with the right words.

I’m not very familiar with Irish history, and while I’ve heard about the Potato Famine, I didn’t know any details. Having finished “The Hunger Man”, I feel a lot more educated on the topic. The book definitely works without background knowledge, but I think it would have been easier to understand had I been more familiar with the topic.

I really liked all the way the author made Irish mythology such an easy, natural part of the story. Once again, I now feel better educated, without getting an info dump. More than once, I ended up hitting Google to find out more.

There is a lot of Gaelic in this story. Now, I have a thing for languages, so I’m always thrilled to learn new words. There is a glossary at the end, but sometimes the Irish just got a little too much for me. I even considered getting myself a dictionary, but couldn’t find anything for a decent price. Some more translations in the book itself wouldn’t have hurt. But that was a minor annoyance overall.

This story had real depth. Every character was unique, no matter how minor they were. Muireann, Ciaran (the only one in first person) and Julian each get their own POV. Neither of them was easy to like. Ciaran was very strange and felt a little other-worldly. Muireann was incredibly pious and always tried to impress her older brother. And Julian was horribly ignorant and arrogant. Still, they did grow on me. They just felt like real people, each with their own weaknesses.

The tone is very dark and does get pretty violent at times, which was to be expected.

Overall, this book was simply brilliant. I lack the words to do it justice, so I’m going to shut up now.

If you’re interested in historical novels and aren’t necessarily looking for an easy read, then go for it. Just don’t expect a sweet love story with a historical backdrop. This is a literary novel that happens to have an MC who prefers men over women.

First I thought four stars would be an appropriate rating, because I did struggle with all the Gaelic. But that felt incredibly unfair, because I’ve read other books with lots of Japanese, which I didn’t mind because I have a friend to help me with that. Then I gave it 4.5 stars. That looked a little better. But ultimately, I think this book deserves the full 5 stars. It woke an interest for the topic in me and the MCs won’t let me go. And it’s not often that a book makes me feel so conflicted.

The cover by Natasha Snow shows a heap of stones, probably one to mark a grave. The sky looks ominous and stormy. That part looks really good. I’m not too fond of the green mist on the edges. And the publisher’s logo is extremely jarring.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book details:

ebook
Published June 6th 2016 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781911153566
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Collars N Cuffs Anthology

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Wayward Ink Publishing Anthology

Collars N CuffsSince this is an anthology, my review is broken up into mini reviews of each section:

Forged in Steel by Layla Dorine
A sculptor named Finn takes in Trace, an eighteen-year-old homeless boy who lost his parents in a train accident. Finn offers him a job as his helper in his workshop. At first, only offering meals and minimum compensation, later he also offers a bed. First it’s in a separate bedroom, but over time, Trace’s submissive side and his attraction to Finn becomes more evident and Finn’s dominant side overrules his decision to keep Trace at arm’s length. The story is told in retrospect from Trace’s POV as Trace has left Finn, unable to forgive him from something we don’t learn until the end of the story. Very well done, this one is 4 stars

Playing it Safe by Aimee Brissay
Paul asks his friend Jackson if he would provide Paul’s sub, Michael, with the night of his dreams: a night where Michael doesn’t have a safe word. Though initially against the idea, Jackson finally decides to do it when Paul agrees to be present to witness the scene and intervene if he sees his sub in trouble. This story seemed to end abruptly. It just ended when the scene was over with no mention of any future for either man, nor was there further mention of the reason Paul chose Jackson to do the scene with Michael rather than doing it himself. The reason had been stated and it would have affected the future, possibly for all three men, but with the story ending so abruptly, I felt lost so this one was only 2 stars.

Room to Play by Lily Velden
This story is about an MM couple who get involved in BDSM without any formal training. Their occasional foray into a scene becomes more frequent until it gets to be too much for the sub and he calls a halt to their play. He needs to have them both list boundaries, learn more about BDSM, and confine playtime to a playroom. This was interesting with plenty of sex scenes, but it was just too short to get involved with the characters. 3 stars

A Touch of Kink by Alina Popescu
This story takes place in Romania where Tudor is awaiting a VIP at the airport. His coworker, Rahu, is along as this is apparently a major VIP, but the flight is delayed so they talk about Tudor’s upcoming birthday and how disappointed he is that his boyfriend, Kahoni, couldn’t make it from Hawaii. They’ve been successfully seeing each other once a month ever since they met in Hawaii six months before. Needless to say, Tudor is shocked when the VIP turns out to be Kahoni and Rahu was in on the surprise. But there’s further surprises in store for Tudor when the kinky gift Rahu gives him turns out to be something Kahoni really loves. The story was good, though a bit unbelievable. 3.5 stars

Let’s Dance in Sin by Kassandra Lea
A fairly short story about an angel who frequently visits Las Vegas, even though he shouldn’t, but he’s smitten by a devil he met there and neither man can seem to get enough of the other. 3 stars

New Love, New Sight by Carol Pedroso
This was a bit longer than the other stories. It takes place on the Earth space station in a BDSM club where an alien being is running through the club shouting Red. Thankfully, Sorl, the dungeon master understands what he’s saying as he grabs the frightened man. He’s from Sorl’s home universe and Sorl can speak his language. Finding out he’s been captured and almost sold into slavery is the first step, but finding out later that he is Sorl’s life mate adds another level to what becomes a sweet romance and D/s pairing. No explicit sex, though lots of warmth and caring. 4 stars

Switch by Eddy LeFey
This was a well-written story about a young man who is finally coming back into the BDSM scene after having been severely injured by his Dom two years before. The man was banned from the local clubs after it was proven that he had so severely hurt his sub, but the damage was done and now Robbie is struggling to step foot in the club. He shows up for his uncle’s birthday party and meets a Dom who happens to be a switch and a former counselor. Daniel is willing to go an extra step toward helping Robbie overcome his fears and in bringing out the dominant side of his cute little switch. When the Dom from the past threatens to upend all the progress he’s made, Robbie learns that he can switch to his stronger nature while still being Daniel’s submissive. 4 stars

Hell Bound by Asta Idonea
This one is a bit longer than the others and is a very interesting story about an angel who visits Amodeaus in Hell to deliver a reprimand. The lust demon has been exceeding his quota each month and Taharial warns him that he must stop. Something about the demon attracts him, however, and when Amodeaus catches on that Taharial would be open to being bound and having sex with him, he goes for it. The visits continue until Taharial is found out by the archangels and Amodeaus has to take steps to save his lover. This was creative, interesting, well-written, and fun so 5 stars for this one.

Averaging all the stories, my rating is 3.5 stars overall. This is a BDSM anthology, however, it is very mild and would be fine for someone who has never read BDSM before.

~~~~~
Cover art by Peculiar Perspectives shows a handsome, bare-chested, inked man holding a chain so it’s a good representation of the contents.

Sales Links:  Wayward Ink Publishing | ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published June 23rd 2016 by Wayward Ink Publishing
ISBN139781925222937
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Alisa Review: My Busboy by John Inman

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

My BusboyRobert Johnny just turned thirty, and his life is pretty much in the toilet. His writing career is on the skids. His love life is nonexistent. A stalker is driving him crazy. And his cat is a pain in the ass.

 

Then Robert orders a chimichanga platter at a neighborhood restaurant, and his life changes—just like that.

 

Dario Martinez isn’t having such a great existence either. He needs money for college. His shoes are falling apart. His boyfriend’s a dick. And he has a crap job as a busboy.

 

Then a stranger orders a chimichanga platter, and suddenly life isn’t quite as depressing.

 

But it’s the book in the busboy’s back pocket that really gets the ball rolling. For both our heroes. That and the black eye and the forgotten bowl of guacamole. Who knew true love could be so easily ignited or that the flames would spread so quickly?

 

But when Robert’s stalker gets dangerous, our two heroes find a lot more to occupy their time than falling in love. Staying alive might become the new game plan.

 

John Inman is a new author for me; I own a few books but haven’t gotten to reading them yet.  I was not disappointed with this story, it was wonderful.

 

Robert is pretty depressed as he turns thirty, with nothing positive happening for him and he doesn’t see it changing anytime soon.  He is taken with Dario when he meets him at his favorite Mexican restaurant and when they see each other again he has a great need to protect him.  Dario realizes pretty fast that he will need to show Robert how he feels for anything to grow between them.

 

Robert took a little bit to connect to, he was so depressed with himself and his life he couldn’t see anything really happy and he keeps everyone at an arm’s length.  When he meets Dario something clicks and he can start to see the positive side of life.  Dario was so adorable, not much could keep him down but I just wanted to keep him safe throughout the story.  Both of these characters are so loveable and seeing them fall in love for the first time was wonderful.

 

Cover art by AngstyG is a beautiful picture and I love it.

 

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | ARe

 

Book Details:

ebook, 210 pages

Published: July 4, 2016 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN: 9781634770842

Edition Language: English

In the Spotlight: What Remains by Garrett Leigh~Riptide Publishing Blog Tour and Giveaway

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What Remains by Garrett Leigh
P
ublished by Riptide Publishing
Cover art by G.D. Leigh

Read an Excerpt/Buy it Here

About What Remains

Web designer Jodi Peters is a solitary creature. Lunch twice a week with his ex-girlfriend-turned-BFF and the occasional messy venture to a dodgy gay bar is all the company he needs, right?

Then one night he stumbles across newly divorced firefighter Rupert O’Neil. Rupert is lost and lonely, but just about the sweetest bloke Jodi has ever known. Add in the heady current between them, and Jodi can’t help falling hard in love. He offers Rupert a home within the walls of his cosy Tottenham flat—a sanctuary to nurture their own brand of family—and for four blissful years, life is never sweeter.

Until a cruel twist of fate snatches it all away. A moment of distraction leaves Jodi fighting for a life he can’t remember and shatters Rupert’s heart. Jodi doesn’t know him—or want to. With little left of the man he adores, Rupert must cling to what remains of his shaky faith and pray that Jodi can learn to love him again.

About Garrett Leigh

Garrett Leigh is a British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Black Jazz Press. Her protagonists will always always be tortured, crippled, broken, and deeply flawed. Throw in a tale of enduring true love, some stubbly facial hair, and a bunch of tattoos, and you’ve got yourself a Garrett special.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible. That, and dreaming up new ways to torture her characters. Garrett believes in happy endings; she just likes to make her boys work for it.

Garrett also works as a freelance cover artist for various publishing houses and independent authors under the pseudonym G.D. Leigh. For cover art info, please visit blackjazzpress.com.

Social media:
Website: http://garrettleigh.com
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Garrett_Leigh
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/garrettleighbooks
Cover art enquiries: blackjazzdesign@gmail.com

WhatRemains_TourBanner (1)

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of What Remains, Garrett is giving away $25 in Riptide Publishing credit. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 9, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!