A MelanieM Review: Fire and Light by Berengaria Brown


Rating: 2.5 stars ouf of 5 stars

Fire and Light coverSeveral years after the divorce, Hugh’s ex-wife decides that she doesn’t want her son and gives Hugh full custody.   Hugh loves his son and finds this a wonderful turn of events, even if it means he has to rearrange his life.  With 6 year old Orion living with him, Hugh and his son are adjusting to life as a family when a chance encounter with a man named Quigley changes all their lives forever.

This is a short story about a romance that starts in an equally small amount of time.  Hugh has just gotten custody of his son from his ex-wife.  She is in a new relationship and her boyfriend does not want Orion around.  Quigley is a man on a 2-week vacation.  All three meet cute in a surf shop and bond over board shorts and goggles.  In that 2 week time frame, the men fall in love and decide to be a family, along with Orion.  Orion adjusts beautifully.  Everyone is happy. The end.

That’s the story.  Short, sweet and has no character building, no foundation on which to build a realistic love story and certainly no depth.What it does have is loads of sex scenes, with a smattering of story.  It’s fluffy with some lovely scenes between Hugh and his son.  That is really the best part of Fire and Light, the father-son relationship.  Of course, that is also the component that makes the acceptance of a stranger and the instant family kind of creepy.

If Berengaria Brown is a must read author for you, then go ahead and pick this up.  But for the rest of us, I would give this a pass.

Book Details:
ebook, 2nd Edition, 57 pages
Published June 19th 2013 by Torquere Press (first published June 16th 2011)
ISBN 1610404882 (ISBN13: 9781610404884)
edition language English

Review: Queer Dirty Laundry by Jason Lloyd


Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

Queer Dirty Laundry Cover“In this nonfiction coming of age mini memoir, Kevin and Jason embark on an adventure to Philadelphia to visit friends and to get into their normal hijinks. Along their journey, they confide in each other the only way best friends can; through laughter, love and pain. They share stories of coming out, first time sexual experiences and dramatic events that changed their lives forever. This hilarious and heartfelt journey through the past can only strengthen their friendship in the present.”..Jason Lloyd

I used the author’s blurb for his story because, honestly, this book is hard to describe in plot or category.   Fiction?  Non-fiction?  Jason Lloyd himself calls his book “creative non-fiction” so anyone’s guess would be accurate. It features Jason Lloyd taking a car trip with his best friend Kevin, aka” Monkey”, on their way to a weekend reunion of sorts with some old friends.   Jason Lloyd uses their road trip as the framework for a succession of personal remembrances and flashbacks into his childhood and early adult years.

It all starts in the Prologue, 40 Minutes After.  Jason and Kevin are in route and a tractor trailer is coming at them head on.  Jason’s life passes before his eyes and the flashbacks begin to….exactly 40 minutes before.

Not exactly a bad beginning but shortly after we find out that this is all so much smoke as the truck misses them and they are back on track to make their rendezvous in Philadelphia.

My issues with this story started almost immediately with the arrival of Kevin at Jason’s place.  His “brazen steps” announce Kevin’s presence like a “herd of elephants”.  Loud, heavy, right? Then Kevin appears and “prances” and “frolics” over to the refrigerator.  So heavy and assertive have given way to light and airy?   The word choices here are enough to flummox Funk & Wagnalls.  Kevin himself is no picnic.  Is Kevin real?  A character?  A real character?  Not sure exactly.  However, he is prone to calling people the “F” word, he is unshaven, wearing old Christmas pajama bottoms, a dirty t-shirt without sleeves as Kevin typically cuts off the stained, smelly armpits rather than wash them.  Offensive thy name is Kevin.  And this is someone the reader (and Jason) will spend the entire book with.  I found Kevin and his nigh constant verbal spouting of derogatory terms and epithets not only irritating but repulsive.  And you are in the car with him and Jason for 150 pages.

As they motor down the road, a conversation between them will bring up a memory which is followed by a flashback into Jason’s past.  Whether it is childhood bullies and the nickname Troll from grade school or remembrances of his closeted years, each segment seems to pop in and out without much effect or depth.  And those events should make an emotional impact on both the reader as well as Jason but that never comes across.

In additional to a jumpy flow to the narrative, the reader is also offered up such insights into Jason’s thoughts like this one:

“Bi was just a slippery dick before Homoville.”

This is Jason remembering how he told people he was bi because he wasn’t ready to come all the way out of the closet . Jason figured bi was more palatable. And yes, I can almost see the cringing from some that this sentence causes.  Jason is the narrator here of his own life and freedom of speech certainly applies.  But I found this offensive and I am certain others will too.  But this is one of the less derogatory sentences to appear here.  The “F” word is so liberally thrown around that I thought I must have been at a anti LGBTQ march.  How you feel about that will let you know whether this is the book for you.

And all along the way, there are just plain odd sentences strewn here and there.  Jason says at one point “his voice can no longer make a signal only dogs can hear..” Uh, you don’t make a signal with your voice, you make a sound, signals being, of course, a sign or gesture.  Jason also believes in “fate, kismet, and serendipity.”  Hmmm, one of these things are not like the others as the saying goes but Jason Lloyd appears unaware of that fact. Here is the quote:

I have always been a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. That just maybe the stars hold our fate. I would like to believe in fate. Serendipity. Kismet. I guess I am like a sappy Hallmark card in that way.”

Well, I can hear Hallmark shuddering now.  I would like to think a rather large red pencil and a determined editor could have fixed some of these problems but   honestly, I just don’t know.  I hate being the person who rains on a new author’s parade so to speak but I can’t see any way around it here.  If you are a friend or fan of Jason Lloyd’s, then pick up a copy and see if you appear inside.  But for all others, wait for the next book from Jason Lloyd to be released and give this one a  pass.

Sales Links:  Smashwords  Barnes & Noble        All Romance eBooks      Amazon

Cover art by Jason Lloyd.  The picture is unfocused.  Is that intentional or not? I suspect not as the type font for the title and the author’s name is blurry too.  Poor quality control cheapens the entire design.

Book Details:

ebook, 150 pages
Published June 12th 2014 by Ginge Publishing
edition languageEnglish

Review: Hunter By Blood by Robin White


Rating: 2.75  stars out of 5

Cover - Hunter By BloodWerewolf hunter Kayn is in pursuit of a  werewolf when he is bitten by his prey.  Found by another hunter, the injured Kayn is returned to headquarters to shift and meet his fate.  But there is something different about Kayn.  The transformation isn’t normal.  Kayn can control the  wolf and its hunger.  Kayn is also much bigger and a different color than was expected.   The leader of the Hunters lets Kayn live and his decision has long lasting ramficiations for all.  For the answer to Kayn’s transition and the new werewolf he has become is hidden in plain sight.  Behind the red door in the Hunter Headquarters lies the answers Kayn needs and his future requires.

Well, all I can say is that its just too bad that so many neat ideas ended up in such an less finished, and disconnected story.  I love werewolf stories and the author has included some intriguing elements  created for Hunter by Blood.  Unfortunately she has buried it in a morass of confused storylines, a lack of any sort of universe building, frustrating disconnected plot threads and lack of defined characterizations.  Everything about this story is as murky as its cover.  From the start we have no information about the universe we are reading about.  We learn nothing  about the city and society.  Ditto about the band of hunters killing the werewolves. And sometimes vampires?  We don’t know anything because the story lays no foundations for anything, it’s just confusing.

Equally confusing are the relationships among the men we meet.  Or the people we meet, some might be men and some are…..something else?  Not human?  Again, just don’t know.  Kayn and another hunter, Bryce.  They arrived to join the Hunters on the same day (which according to the story is odd but it never explains why). Since that moment, the men have competed (in what again we dont know) and have been at odds ever since.  Or have they.  One, Kayn, has dark coloring and  Bryce is his exact opposite.  What does that mean if anything?  Kaye’s wolf shape is white with red stripes., when he should be black.  Again why?

At certain points in the story its  mentioned that they might have feelings towards each other but as we aren’t supplied with any history or evidence of such, it turned into a throwaway line until it reappeared towards the end.  The Hunter group appears to have been created along the lines of the French Foreign Legion where each person leaves their family and past behind.  Only the author keeps bringing Kayn’s past up, although without any details, just vague references to some family ties that make him an even better hunter.  Trust me, after 20 pages or so, you will be frustrated beyond belief at the lack of details given that the author clearly wants you to think is a great mystery instead of the great pain in the you know what it actually is.

Here is an example with Aaron, the head of the Hunter group in his rooms and a furred demon snake appears floating at his head. sigh:

“I haven’t seen you this nervous in quite a while, Aaron.”

The voice seemed to come from nowhere, and something like smoke seemed to rise from the shadows. Aaron sighed quietly, but he smiled as the smoke formed into something he often compared to a snake covered in fur and and infused with a very talkative personality. Biblios, a word demon, had been one of his few trusted companions for quite some time and was always offering his advice. The other hunters didn’t know about the strange creature, and for that Aaron was grateful. His long, sleek body curled up on top of Aaron’s desk, silver runes glowing in his dark fur. Biblios seemed to have recently digested, in his way, a story once again. The way it worked was a riddle to Aaron, but it wasn’t of concern for the moment. He needed to talk about his current situation to someone, and Biblios was just the right … entity to talk to.

“You are worrying about Kayn’s condition, correct?”

“Yes. It should be impossible for him to even think rationally any longer, yet he stood before me and even talked about his worries about what the infection might entail for him.” Aaron tilted his head to one side. “I simply don’t understand it.” “Well …” Biblios exhaled, a cloud of silver-white smoke coming from his nostrils. “That is a mystery indeed. We already know that there’s a multitude of different werewolves out there, every single of those variants with very specific attributes and abilities. But what we see happening with Kayn might be a completely new species, without any ties to a werewolf.”

Aaron shook his head. “No, Biblios, that strains credulity too far. He was bitten by a werewolf. There is no doubt he will— well, you know …”

No we don’t know and quite frankly neither do they.  Although I have to admit I liked Biblios, a word demon who consumes words the way others devour hamburgers. He is a inventive creation, quite wasted in this story.  But liking a segment here or appreciating an element there doesn’t add up to a whole story.  For me, it just frustrating because even with all the small interesting bits, it just doesn’t work as a finished product.  So I am giving this werewolf tale a pass.  You should too.

Cover design by London Burden.

Book Details:

Expected publication: November 13th 2013 by Less Than Three Press LLC
original titleHunter by Blood
edition languageEnglish