The Sochi Olympics Have Arrived and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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Google Gay Doodle for Olympics

So one of the most strained and contentious Olympics has begun, that of Putin’s Sochi Olympics.    Eyes are on NBC to see how they report on the many issues that abound at Sochi as well as on the athletic contests and the olympians that compete.

In the past, NBC has been almost too reverential towards the IOC and the hosts of the Olympics.  Think Beijing and civil rights.  Now comes their chance to report fairly on all the issues as well as with the athletes participating in the Olympics themselves.  As gay rights or the lack of at Sochi and in Russia are such a large issue, I would hope that when interviewing the athletes and their families, including partners, NBC will be inclusive, interviewing gay participants and their partners and families instead of just the straight athletes as they have done in the past.   I don’t want the athletes to get lost in all the controversy, they have worked too hard for that.  But some of those athletes are gay.  And their identity should be on equal status as everyone elses.  Putin and Russia don’t recognize that.  It is too late to talk about whether or not Russia should have been awarded the 2014 Olympics.  That’s done.  And the IOC continues to be as spineless as they always have been.  But I have hopes for this Olympics that go beyond sporting events into a larger global discussion.  As Google, Chevrolet and even more sponsors show their support for the LGBTQ community through commercials, Google doodles, and PAs, the discussion and support for equality grows.swan-lake-dancer

So today I am including some of the best blogs/segments reporting not on the contests themselves but extraneous issues that have come out of Sochi to date.  The links are below.  I did watch the opening last night.  Wow.  Builders and construction again.  Red baby buggies for an expanding population, hopefully for Putin. Lots of flying Red scythes and what seemed to be floating Stalinistic heads.  There were some lovely moments too. The singing policemen were wonderful. I liked the floating islands and volcano. That segment with Swan Lake as its accompaniment as ballet dancers swirled under amazing contructs that lifted and floated as they danced was my favorite.  So was the Olympic Gods portion with the heavens full of constellations that looked like the various athletes.  The lighting of the torch was memorable too.  And those wonderful athletes from all the countries marching in under their flags, with joy and exuberance, happy to be a part of such a great community.  Nothing Putin does can take that away from them.  What was your favorite moment from the Opening Ceremonies?

Now here are the books being reviewed this week.  Don’t forget to check in with me on Thursday and enter the Riptide/JL Merrow contest for It’s All Geek To Me. I also have a terrific story just in time for Valentine’s Day.  Don’t miss out on Geoffrey Knight’s Be My Valentine, Bobby Bryson and bring a tissue or two. I will be glued to the tv, with my Kindle, popcorn and of course, my terriers!

Monday, Feb. 10:     Reviewing Life by Lara Brukz

Tuesday, Feb. 11:      Of Last Resort by Megan Derr

Wed., Feb. 12:           It’s Only Make Believe by Havan Fellows

Thurs., Feb. 13:        J.L. Merrow’s It’s All Geek To Me Book Tour & Contest

Friday, Feb. 14:         It’s All Geek To Me by J.L. Merrow

Sat., Feb. 15:              Be My Valentine, Bobby Bryson by Geoffrey Knight

Review: Wicked Truths (Wicked’s Way #05) by Havan Fellows

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Wicked Truths coverWicked Templeton is not happy.  Usually he is in total control of his life and that’s the way he likes it.  But lately things are happening all around him that make him feel edgy and unsettled.  First of all Ned has disappeared.  No calls, no friendly break-ins at his home, no dinners or worst of all no sex.  Plus someone is still targeting young gay men, torturing and killing them, putting many of his friends lovers at risk.

Then Wick finds out that his past has returned and is behind Ned’s disappearance.  All Wick’s secrets have come back to play and that is a wickedly deadly thing to happen.  Wick must first save Ned and then his  circle of friends but at what cost to himself?  When all the secrets are revealed, Wick’s life changes forever.  Who will be left standing at the end?

Wicked Truths is the fifth in the Wicked’s Way series and is a marked departure from all the stories that preceded it.  In those stories, Wick Templeton is  almost supernaturally great at  everything he does.  He is quick with a quip or a gun, knows where the bad guys plan before they do and how to outsmart even the smartest criminal. Wick is also seemingly impervious to pain, angst and any form of commitment outside of friendship.  A kind of James Bond outlook  but much grittier and, of course, definitely gay.

But in Wicked Truths, many of the carefully crafted images we have of Wick is shattered.  With Ned’s disappearance, we see cracks in the hard veneer Wick has created for himself over time.  He misses Ned and hates that he does so.  And as his life starts to spiral out of control, we get to see not only Wick Templeton’s beginnings but how that history has created the man Wick Templeton is today.  True to form, this is not a happy past but one so torturous and twisted that everything about Wick and his personality becomes understandable.

Havan Fellows does a terrific job in bringing the horror and banal evilness that is Wick’s past to life.  Her descriptions are succinct and perfectly reflective of the depraved personality at work behind the events that occur.  Wick’s desperation is made all the more real because we have never seen the character in this mental and emotional state before.  It’s a revelation as the truth about Wick shatters our assumptions about him and his character is created anew from the rubble around him.

The ending of the story is heartbreaking but leaves a path open for more.  It’s realistic, grounded in Fellows characters and the lives they have built for themselves.  And now I want more.  So will you.  What a tremendous series, what a compelling character! If you are new to the series, start at the beginning.  Its necessary to understand the characters and all the events that follow.

Here is a small excerpt:

Wick opened the fridge and grabbed one of his hard ciders. In the middle of his second long swallow, he heard a strange ringing noise. Bottle still upturned at his mouth, he briefly glanced around. It came from the corner of his counter reserved for those uni-tasker appliances that he never messed with. If it wasn’t a toaster or coffee maker, he had no use for the damn things.

After setting the half empty bottle down, he walked across the kitchen to the ominous corner and moved the electric can opener—wasted appliance when he had a perfectly good handheld one.

There, tucked back in the corner, was a landline phone. When the fuck did he get a landline phone installed? He picked up the cordless phone and stared at the face of it as it rang for the umpteenth time. The whole thing lit up with each ring, and he could honestly say he’d never seen this damn thing before in his life.

He set it down ringing and took the three steps over to the other counter, leaning against it as he took another sip of his drink.

He watched that black piece of electronic plastic as he tilted the bottle to his lips, eyeing it like he expected it to do some sort of trick or something.

“That’s thirty,” he whispered as it kept with that damn annoying eighties ringtone. Either it was defective or someone who had a number he never even knew he had wanted to talk to him really badly.

Cover Art by Laura Harner.  Perfect for the conflagration that is this story.

Wicked’s Way series in the order they were written and should be read:

Wicked Solutions (Wicked’s Way #1)
Wicked Bindings (Wicked’s Way #2)
Wicked Incarceration (Wicked’s Way #3)
Wicked Guidance (Wicked’s Way #4)
Wicked Truths (Wicked’s Way #5)

Book Details:

Buy Link:
All Romance EBook, Amazon
ebook, word count 16, 649, approx. 55 pages
Published September 13th 2013 by Appleton Publishing Avenue
ISBN HFPF000004
edition language English

Author Spotlight: Meet Lee Brazil!

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ST: Good morning, everyone.  Today’s guest author is Lee Brazil, author of the wonderful Chances Are series in the Pulp Friction offerings.   Good morning, Lee!

*pats chair and hands Lee a cup of coffee*.

“Don’t mind the terriers, they will ask their own questions later”  *shoos away dogs*

LB: Good morning! Thank you for inviting me over to talk today. For those who don’t know me, I’m Lee Brazil, author of m/m romance with Breathless Press, Silver Publishing, Evernight, and Total E Bound. I’m also a member of a writing association known as Pulp Friction.Chances Are cover

*sips coffee*

LB: Which is what Melanie invited me to discuss today. Pulp Friction came about as a mash-up of old fashioned pulp fiction writing and modern romance. Laura Harner suggested it to us, and the three of us jumped on the band wagon quickly. Originally, it was supposed to follow a strict format of 8 thousand words, and other tried and true pulp strictures.

ST: “Tell me about Chance.  How did he come about?”

LB: When Chance was born, I knew keeping it with in those bounds was going to be impossible. Telling his whole story, getting across the complexity of who he is in eight thousand words wasn’t going to happen. So it became a serial.

ST: “When we think of Pulp Fiction, we think tough, wise-guy detectives who have seen it all.”

LB: Chance is my version of the hard boiled tough guy, he’s known grief and pain, and disappointment, and that’s where we meet him, wallowing in his past. He presents a cold and unfeeling persona to the world and tells himself he’s happy with what he has.

That’s Chance in the first book, Chances Are, where that façade begins to crack. As the stories progress through small mysteries and tragedies and life happens to Chance, the cracks grow bigger and wider and eventually the walls fall down, blasted to rubble by his stalwart friends and a feeling he hadn’t been aware of growing inside.

ST: But that changes, doesn’t it?

LB: When he wasn’t looking his heart was sneaking people in, from the drunkard cop who sits at his bar every night, the cocky but dependable Gerry the bartender, the melancholic chef Blake and all Chance’s old buddies from his days on the force, Wick and Marcus and Zack the civilian. Turns out, he’s never been as alone as he thought.

And into this mix comes Rory. The golden-skinned, golden-haired open-hearted antithesis of Chance’s lost love. He finagles his way into Chance’s bed, and into his life, seeking more at times than Chance is willing to give.

Chance’s own sense of integrity eventually convinces him that his relationship with Rory is wrong, but events transpire that force him to take a deeper look into his closed off heart and make changes in his life. In the end, Chance learns to let go of the past, to embrace the possibilities of the future and to allow himself to be happy.

And the stubborn mule headed ex-cop turned my whole pre-drafted story line upside down in the second installment of the serial. Because that’s who he is. A man who has to follow his own path even when it wanders through hell.

ST:  I just love Chance and the entire series.  I can’t wait for the next book to be released.  Thanks for coming by today, Lee.

LB: *sips coffee. Thanks for joining while I blather about my sexy ex-cop. You can pick up the latest Chances Are book, Chance in Hell at ARE, Smashwords, and Amazon on September 1. In anticipation of that release, I’m offering a discount of 33% on the first four stories at ARE from August 28th until September 4th.

If you want to know more about me and my work, you can find me at the following places on the web:
Lee on FB http://www.facebook.com/lee.brazil
Lee on Twitter @leebrazil
Lee Blog http://leebrazilauthor.blogspot.com/
Pinterest http://pinterest.com/leebrazil/
You Tube http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKmjXLWlO4c2_5ZZQigbeZg?

Books in the series to date in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and events within:

Chances Are (Chances Are #01)
Second Chances Are (Chances Are #02)
Fifty Fifty Chances Are (Chances Are #03)
Ghost of a Chance (Chances Are #04)