Scattered Thoughts Summary of Reviews for October 2013

Standard

Oct-BW Header

October 2013 Summary of Book Reviews

It was a terrific month for books.  Sarah Black came out with her sequel to The General and the Horse-Lord titled The General and the Elephant Clock of Al-Jazari.  In my opinion it is the best book she has written to date, wide in scope with subtly nuanced characters that stay with you long after you have finished the story.  Also the Pulp Friction group of authors, (Lee Brazil, Havan Fellows, Laura Harner and T.A. Webb) start to bring their interconnected series to a close with 4 outstanding stories to equal the memorable characters to be found within. S.A. McAuley also brought us the second novel in The Borders War series, Dominant Predator.  I love those men, and need more of their history and complicated relationship.  Sue Brown gave us The Isle of Wishes, second in the Isle of Wight series, plus Ariel Tachna’s Lang Downs series (one of my favorite) expanded to five with Conquer The Flames, a “must read” book for all.

Well, I will let this list speak for itself.  So many great books here that there is sure to be something for everyone.  Grab up your notepad, IPad or paper, and write down the titles for those stories you might have missed.  I have linked my reviews to each book.  Happy readings!

Lady Reading Book in Chair 50 style    


5 Star Rating:

Conquer The Flames (Lang Downs #4) by Ariel Tachna, contemporary
Chance In Hell (Chances Are #5) by Lee Brazil, contemporary
Darkest Knight (City Knight #5) by T.A. Webb
Dominant Predator (The Borders War #2) by S.A. McAuley
Duplicity (Triple Threat #5) by Laura Harner
Knights Out (City Knight #4) by T.A. Webb
The General and the Elephant Clock of Al-Jazari by Sarah Black (contemporary, military)
Wicked Truths (Wicked’s Way #5) by Havan Fellows, contemporary
Wild Onions by Sarah Black (supernatural)

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

Enigma by Lloyd A. Meeker (4.25)(contemporary, paranormal)
Goblins, Book 1 by Melanie Tushmore (4.5 )(fantasy)
Home Team by Jameson Dash (4)(contemporary)
Isle of Wishes (Isle of Wight #2) by Sue Brown (contemporary)
Knightmare (City Knight #2) by T.A. Webb (4.75)(contemporary)
Northern Star by Ethan Day (4.25)(contemporary)
Playing Ball Anthology (4.75)(contemporary, historical)
Starry Knight (City Knight #3) by T.A. Webb (4.75)(contemporary)

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Burning Now by A.R. Moler (3)(fantasy, supernatural)
Fool For Love by Cassandra Gold (3)(contemporary)
Strange Angels by Andrea Speed (3.75)(supernatural)
The Night Visitor by Ewan Creed (3 stars)(contemporary, supernatural)
Wireless by L.A. Witt (3.5)(science fiction)

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:

Justice (Leopard Spots #10) by Bailey Bradford (2)(shifters, supernatural)
The Unwanted, the Complete Collection by Westbrooke Jameson (2.5)(science fiction)

1 to 1.75 Star Rating:

None this month

Other Blogs:
Author Spotlight: Havan Fellows on Wicked’s Way Series and Pulp Friction
Author Spotlight: Lee Brazil on Chances Are Series and Pulp Friction
Author Spotlight: T.A. Webb on City Knight Series and Pulp Friction
Author Spotlight: Laura Harner on Triple Threat series and Pulp Friction
Author Spotlight: Sarah Black on Wild Onions
Author Spotlight: Sarah Black on Writing Old Men and the second General release

Review: Fool For Love by Cassandra Gold

Standard

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Fool For LoveCollege professor Vincent Norton is feeling every bit of his forty-five years of age.  Three years ago his partner of 20 years died in a car accident. Estranged from his family, now just his dad, Vince has used all his energy and time at his profession, teaching college kids and not much else,  Even his apartment of three years still looks empty of personality or his past.  His life is in on hold until he meets one of his neighbors from the apartment next door. One of a group of four college students, Vince finds the young man attractive and that is something he hasn’t felt for 3 years.

Rob Bridges is 21 and getting ready to graduate at a nearby college.  He has been secretly crushing on the older man in the apartment across from his.  That man is tall, gorgeous with just a little silver starting to show at the temple and Rob wants to date him.  But he doesn’t even know anything about him other than he is a professor at Washington University, let alone that he is gay?  What is a man to do?

An accident in the hallway brings the two men together and a date soon follows.  And while Rob is sure Vince is the one he wants, Vince is having second and even third thoughts.  The age gap between them is huge and surely Rob will tire of an older man, won’t he? Opposition to their dating mounts from all sides.  Will Rob succeed in making Vince  believe in their love or will Vince’s own doubts and outside influences push him away permanently?

In Fool For Love Cassandra Gold has written a very sweet love story.  Her May – December romance between Vince Norton and Rob Bridges has many lovely qualities, including two believable characters who talk and act their age.  Vince Norton is every bit the still grieving, stuck in stasis middle aged professor.  He cares about his students and mourns the loss of the man he thought he would spend the rest of his life with.  In an authentic touch, Gold has his apartment reflect this inability to move forward.  It’s not decorated, bare walls and barren of spirit, it states that it is more of a staging area than a home.  And I absolutely believed in Vince and his current situation.  Her characterization is of a man who finally realizes he might be ready to move on but how and with whom?

Then into the picture comes Rob Bridges, another likable persona.  He is intelligent, compassionate, and kind. He is also quite handsome.  And Rob likes older men and has been secretly crushing on Vince next door.  All well and good.  Rob has three roommates who are also his friends.  I liked their easy acceptance of his sexuality as well as the layers to their characterizations.  If one acts like a jerk, he is also capable of an apology that makes sense.  Again, I like the secondary characters involved in Vince and Rob’s story.  They are all quite human, funny and flawed. And their presence goes a long way in making this story more viable and lovely to read.

Another moving element is the scenes with Vince’s Dad.  I think Gold handled this aspect of taking care of older parents realistically and quite movingly. And unfortunately, I think it helped highlight what might be the one obstacle that will keep readers from connecting to this book and Vince and Rob’s relationship.  And that would be the huge gap in their ages.

We aren’t talking 5, 10 or even 15 years here.  No, the gap is that of 25 years and for many people that will be an insurmountable obstacle.  And I think I count myself among them.   Cassandra Gold did such a good job with her characters that Rob feels way too young for Vince.  And yes Vince is far too old for a young man of 21.  As the author has Vince point out, they are at two very different stages in their lives and that gets brushed over a little too quickly.   When Rob breaks down in tears because Vince had to cancel out on an important date,  while we might have had some empathy for him, it also highlighted just how young Gold had made him emotionally.  Vince gets mistaken for Rob’s father while out on dates (again I can see that). And as Vince cared for his dying father and thought about himself and Rob in the same position, I found myself agreeing with him that it was entirely plausible.  It’s not something you want to bring up in a love affair but 25 years is 25 years and Vince is turning 47 as the book ends.

And finally, because yes, my mind goes there.  There is the physical differences in physiology between a 21 year old man and a 46* year old man.   At 21 years old, the sexual drive can match up with the body’s ability.  Unfortunately, not so with middle-age.  And that wasn’t touched on at all.  Perhaps because it’s not a very sexy thing to think about. Athough I have read some books where the authors treated aspect realistically and still made the relationship sexy.  Certainly though it is a fact of life, not exactly dealt with here.   But that’s what I kept thinking about.    So yes, I just couldn’t make myself believe in this romantic relationship.   To be honest, I don’t think I would by it as a M/F romance either.  The difference is just too great.

There are a couple of odd phrasing here and some confusion about ages, all that is minor issues in an otherwise sweet narrative.  So again, how you feel about the age gap between these two realistically portrayed men will define how you feel towards Fool For Love.  It has many lovely elements but in the end I just couldn’t connect to the love affair.  You make up your own mind.

Cover art by Valerie Tibbs is far preferable to the original.  At least it shows two men of difference ages.  But the blue tone makes it all a little hard to see.

*It states that Vince is 45 at the beginning of the book, then 46 and at the epilogue which occurs one year later, Vince is turning 47.

Book Details:

Note:This book is a re-edited, revised version of one previously released by another publisher.
Published August 20th 2013 by Loose Id, LLC (first published April 9th 2009)
original title:  Fool For Love
ASINB00EOA5Q8I
edition language English
characters Vince Norton
setting United States

I’m Off To GRL and The Week Ahead In Reviews

Standard

GRL 2013logoShort and oh so sweet this week.  I am off to GRL in Atlanta this week and I am beside myself in anticipation.  If you listen hard enough you can hear a little fan girl “squee” here. So many people to meet and3d-person-sit-pile-books-reading-book-26141531 get to talk with, there are authors galore, publishers,, editors, other bloggers and of course readers.

Some authors i have chatted  with electronically just recently, some I have admired for years as well as so many new authors I have yet discover.  Really I am beside myself with joy. I hope to post some pictures and small journal pieces while I am gone but if things get busy (as I anticipate them to do) then, it will wait for a Scattered Thoughts at GRL Blog to pull it all together when I get back.

So here are the book reviews to be posted this week:

Monday, Oct. 14:     Conquer The Flames by Ariel Tachna

Tuesday, Oct. 15:      The Unwanted Collection by Westbrooke Jamison

Wed.., Oct. 16:            Strange Angels by Andrea Speed

Thurs, Oct. 17:            Wireless by L.A. Witt

Friday, Oct.18:           Fool For Love by Cassandra Gold

Sat., Oct. 19:               Justice  (Leopard’s Spots #10) by Bailey Bradford

Review of Lessons Learned, Wishes Earned by Cassandra Gold

Standard

Rating: 4 stars

Lessons Learned Wishes EarnedLachlan Douglas is bone aching tired after spending yet another day as Santa’s Elf.  It’s not just that it’s his small size that makes him the perfect man for the job,  it’s his position within the store too.  But when he has to play Elf to the rich store owner’s son’s Santa, well that’s even worse. Lachlan’s last boyfriend was wealthy and took advantage of him so having to work with another spoiled rich boy is just not something Lachlan wants to do.

Haven Wellesley is not a rich man’s spoiled son.  He has worked his way up the ranks, working at every level no matter what the job calls for.  And this Christmas, he is going to play Santa for a very special set of people and needs an Elf’s help to hand out presents.  That’s when Lachlan realizes that maybe Haven isn’t like the other man, and that together they will find the true meaning of Christmas.

This is a perfect Christmas story, all about not judging others and the true meaning of Christmas.  Cassandra Gold gives us two lovely men in need of each other, especially Lachlan who has lost the Christmas spirit along the  way.  His former boyfriend has skewed his self image and made him very judgmental of others like him.  Even while helping out a friend and taking over his Elf duties, Lachlan does it grudgingly.  But his views are shaken when Haven asks him to accompany him on one last stop to hand out toys.  It’s a very special place and gives the men a chance to connect outside of work.  A night of giving to others turns out to be just what each other wanted for Christmas, a chance at love.

It’s the Holiday Season! It’s all about Books, Holiday Books and the first Winter Cocktail Recipe

Standard

I am definitely in the mood for the holidays this year.  I am singing carols under my breath, holiday songs are playing on the radio, the tree is getting decorated, and the aroma of Frasier firs and cinnamon waft through the house.  Of course the last bit is because our tree is a Frasier and cinnamon Glade was used liberally in every room Kirby ran into after rolling around in some dead guts he found in the  backyard.  In all my 25 plus years as a naturalist, I have smelled some rotten things but nothing prepared me for Kirby as he ran past me back into the house.

You know they talk about a delayed sense?  That was the horrendous smell that kicked in once Kirby was well past me and up the stairs into the living room.  And then the  smell hit and nausea followed.  And there is no way to chase a dog when you have a cane and no breath, so he romped his merry way through the house spreading foul odors and gunk as he went.  Yeah not a pleasant afternoon, following him with bleach and towels. And then he had to be sheared to get rid of the smell that not even tomato juice helped with.  But not even that deterred me from my Christmas cheer! I am a most determined elf!

So I decided to pile on the pressure and have two reviews a day this week.  One a Holiday story and one regular book.  The end of the week will find me making the first Winter Cocktail recipe that can be found at the bottom of the page.   Let’s try it out together, shall we?

Monday:                              New York Christmas by RJ Scott

                                                Acceleration by Amelia C. Gormley

Tuesday:                              Turkey in the Snow by Amy Lane

                                                Esau (Leopards Spots 6) by Bailey Bradford

Wednesday:                        Snowbound in Nowhere by Andrew Grey

                                                Cupid Knows Best by S.A. Garcia

Thursday:                           Lessons Learned, Wishes Earned by Cassandra Gold

                                               Gregori’s Ghost by Sarah Black

Friday:                                 The Christmas Throwaway by RJ Scott

                                               Willow by Lee Brazil

Saturday:                              Mending Noel by Charlie Cochet

                                                 Colors of Pastor Saul by S.A.Garcia

Winter Cocktail:  The Isle of Pines Cocktail:Isle of Pines Winter Cocktail

Ingredients
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup white rum
1/2 cup fresh grapefruit juice
Ice cubes
Preparation
Bring pomegranate juice and sugar to boil in heavy small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Cool syrup.
Pour 2 tablespoons syrup, 1/2 cup rum, and 1/4 cup grapefruit juice into cocktail shaker. Fill with ice; shake vigorously. Strain into 2 Martini glasses. Repeat to make 2 more drinks.

Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit!

                                           

Holiday Stories, Dreamspinner Advent Stories – Sneak Peek at Next Week in Reviews

Standard

As I  have said many times before, I love holiday stories, it doesn’t matter whose holiday, Jewish, Christian, Pagan, I just love them.  Love what they  stand for, the angst, the family traditions, unrealistic hopes and dreams for that perfect holiday dinners, the high drama and love in all its permutations that seems to come out at the holidays, and of course, holiday miracles both little and huge.

So here are some holiday stories and ratings for the first week in December, I adored each and every one of them.  There is really something for everyone, check them out.

Holiday Stories:                   Eight Days by Cardeno C – review here

                                                  Turkey in the Snow by Amy Lane – Rating 4.75 stars to be reviewed with Andrew Grey’s story next week

                                                  Snowbound in Nowhere by Andrew Grey – Rating 4.5 stars – reviewed next week

                                                 Lessons Learned, Wishes Earned by Cassandra Gold – Rating  4.5 stars – reviewed next week

                                                 New York Christmas by RJ Scott –   Rating 4.5 stars (loved this too!) to be reviewed on the 10th

The Christmas Throwaway by RJ Scott – Rating 5 stars, review coming up next week.  This story came out last year but it is so darned great that I The Christmas Throwawaywill be reviewing it this year in hopes that people will pick it up. Had me sniffling but good.  It is now available at RJ Scott’s website, Love Land Books.

And of course, there will be other book reviews posted as well, including Amelia C. Gormley’s Acceleration, 2nd book in her trilogy.  It is not to be missed.  So next week it’s double the books, double the fun!  No stress, really I’m fine. *grabs the nearest bottle of Cabernet*  Woohoo, tis the season to be jolly!!!! OK, no singing I promised the dogs (and the neighbors) never again, all those sirens and lights, never a good thing.  The whole list for next week will be up on Sunday along with the first of the Winter cocktail recipes.  See you on Sunday.

ps thanks, StealthMountain, peek not peak.  Typing and Nyquil is never a good mix.