Review: Summer Lovin Anthology

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Summer Lovin' CoverRemember those long summer, sultry days when the heat beat down, the songs played endlessly into the night and romance was in the air?  Summer Lovin’ anthology brings you five stories of summer love by some of the best authors around. Chrissy Munder, Clare London, JL Merrow, Lou Harper and Josephine Myles put their spin on summer romance from light hearted love to an angst filled romance with the potential for more.

Grab a tall glass, filled with something wonderful and decadent (umbrella optional) and sit back and enjoy five tales of summer lovin’.

Stories in the Anthology are:

“Summer Hire” by Chrissy Munder
“Lost and Found on Lindisfarne” by JL Merrow
“Salt ’n’ Vinegar” by Clare London
“Werewolves of Venice Beach” by Lou Harper
“By Quarry Lake” by Josephine Myles

Usually when I read an anthology, I normally find a story or two that could be skipped over or at least is not up to the quality of the others included.  Not here.  Each one of these stories will resonate with a reader, whether it is the more lighthearted fare of Summer Hire by Chrissy Munder to the somewhat darker Salt n Vinegar by Clare London  They are all quite wonderful and each in of its own makes Summer Lovin’ a must have anthology.  I have a mini review of each story waiting below.

1. Summer Hire by Chrissy Munder: 4.5 stars out of 5

When Jim Carlson accepted a summer job along with his best friend at a repair/summer rental business, he had no idea his was stepping into one of his favorite porn dreams.  Too bad that gorgeous tattooed hunk in the overalls was also his new boss. And to make matters worse, Aaron  is also gay. Worse  because Aaron is remaining decidedly professional even when being friendly.  Jim thinks Aaron’s attitude towards him is because he is unremarkable and kind of dorky.  He is after all a just graduated IT major with no hopes for a job.

Aaron Torres has worked hard to overcome his family and poor start in life.  Now a successful businessman with his own business, Aaron avoids any romantic entanglements with employees, especially seasonal ones that will be gone in the fall with the tourists. Still, there is something so engaging about Jim Carlson.   Jim is clumsy, hardworking, and totally adorable.

As the end of summer draws near, the two men find it impossible to say goodbye.  Can a summer love last a lifetime?

Chrissy Munder takes all those lovely summer memories at the lake or beach and incorporates them into her short story of summer love.  The characters are engaging, the story well done and the relationship between Jim and Aaron realistic yet lighthearted.  No angst just a lovely relationship between two men you will adore.  Great way to set the tone for the collection.  Loved it!

2.  Lost and Found on Lindisfarne” by JL Merrow. Rating 4.75 stars out of 5

Single dad Chris and his 12 year old daughter, Kelis, are vacationing on the holy island of Lindisfarne when they run into a group of Viking re-enactors, village and all. Ulf the berserker, also known as Ian, strikes up a conversation with Chris. One conversation turns into a tour of the historic spots on the island.  When his daughter’s lost necklace makes them miss the ferry home,  Ian invites them to stay with him and the other re-enactors for the night.

Chris and Ian are more than attracted to each other but Chris has Kelis and no one wants a single dad as a  boyfriend do they?

Merrow offers up a tale that is both travelogue and love story and it works on both levels.  I loved all the details about the Viking villagers from making berries as ink to the historic places they visited on tour.  It’s a loving portrait of the island overlayed with a realistic persona of a single dad making up for lost time.  Chris is a wonder of a character and his backstory (and Kelis’) gave depth to the summer love story.   This is no case of instant love but just the beginnings of a wonderful relationship.  JL Merrow is one of my favorite authors.  Her attention to detail and loving descriptions of the settings in her stories make her a must read.  That includes Lost and Found on Lindisfarne.  This is how it starts:

“It was a hot summer’s day on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. The lanes were dusty underfoot, the languid breeze was heavy with the scent of the North Sea, and a Viking had just offered to buy my daughter.”

3.  “Salt ’n’ Vinegar” by Clare London. Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Joe and his twin sister, Mandy, were enrolled at Brighton University, so it only made sense that Joe, a Psychology major and Mandy, Food and Hospitality major, live and work together at the fish and chip shop opposite the entrance to the pier. “Chip ‘N Fin”.  The work paid enough for their lease and a little more and the location near the beach make it perfect for Joe to pick up the gorgeous young gay boys for casual fun and sex, especially during the summer months when Brighton was full of tourists.

But all that changed when a shy young man named Steven makes the chip shop his regular stop in the afternoons.  When it becomes apparent that he waits for Joe when ordering, Mandy urges her brother to ask him out. The resulting relationship quickly turns serious to Joe’s surprise as Steven is fun, intelligent and they are absolutely compatible in every way.  But Steven is hiding a dark secret that will threaten their new found love and so much more.

Salt ‘n’ Vinegar is the darkest of the 5 offerings in the Summer Lovin’ anthology.  I liked that it brought a soberness and diversity to this collection that made me not only appreciate its attributes but in comparison, those of the other authors as well.  I liked everything about this story from the setting in Brighton to the characters that felt very authentic from the sibling relationship to the superficiality of Joe’s initial outlook on romance.  My only quibble here is with the ending.  I am not sure how to say this without giving too much away but one character (secondary but important) doesn’t ring true to what I know about those type of individuals.  They do not react by walking away instead the opposite unfortunately holds true.  But that would have called for a much longer story and would not be in keeping with the tone of most of this collection.  Still that imperfection bothered me for quite some time, especially given the  seriousness of the situation.  And while I liked the story, that aspect made this my least favorite story of the anthology.  You tell me what you think.

4.  “Werewolves of Venice Beach” by Lou Harper.  Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Bryan Williams is  house-sitting for the Spencers.  He plans to spend the time deep in study for his architecture degree and maybe some time at the beach.  But Bryan knows that he is a nerd, and that the beach just spells trouble. Little did Bryan know that the trouble was waiting for him next door in a house full of interesting and quirky individuals, starting with the naked man that just ran past his window, up the front stairs into the house next door.

How can you not love a story that starts with “the naked man came out of nowhere”?  I love, love this story.  Bryan is a wonderful, decent young man. The next door people who could have been flat stereotypes instead are fully fleshed out human beings and the romance that springs up between the naked guy and Bryan is full of road bumps and self doubt.  Harper then adds in a bit about a possible werewolf and cracked me up too.  If this wasn’t my favorite, it came close.  I am still smiling as I think about it.

This is how it starts, so irresistible.

The naked man came out of nowhere. One minute I was eating my Wheaties and enjoying the early morning peace and quiet, the next there he was, walking through the neighbor’s front yard. The Spencers’ porch—where I was having my breakfast—sat at least a foot above ground level, providing me with an excellent view over the low stone wall separating the two properties.

5.  By Quarry Lake” by Josephine Myles. Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Tommy Freestone left his hometown 3 years ago to attend the university but the real reason he fled was because of Rob Carver, his best friend.  Now Tommy has returned.  He learned much about himself in his time away, including the fact that he should have never left Rob and the town behind.  Tommy hopes that now that he has accepted his sexuality, he can approach Rob, ask for forgiveness and a new relationship.

Rob Carver has never stopped loving and missing his best friend Tommy.  While Tommy left, Rob continued to work his family’s farm, staying deep within the closet.  His one and only attempt at a romance cost him Tommy so when Tommy returns Rob is determined not to let that happen again.  Just friends, right?  Tommy has other ideas.  Can Tommy woo Rob back or will their past cost them the relationship both want?

This story is in a tie with Werewolves as my favorite stories of the anthology.  Myles pulls me in with her descriptions of sleepy rural Somerset and the two boys who grew up there.  You can feel the heat beating down on the farmland, and the quiet, cool water that awaits Tommy and Rob in their secret lake in the quarry.  It’s engaging, its magical and it feels like the best of every summer you dreamed about.  You, your best friend/secret lover, a hideaway known only to the two of you and a cave.  Those are elements that will speak to every reader, it’s the best of summer hopes and dreams. I loved it all.

One kiss sent Tommy running away but once he realized and accepted that he was gay, it also sent him running back.  It’s the classic love story.  Boy loves Boy, Boy loses Boy, Boy gets Boy back.  That never gets old and Myles did a great job with her take on that classic theme.  Again no instant love but an old one reignited, totally believable and satisfying.  Especially the scene with Rob’s Dad, how I loved that scene, just perfection.  It pulls you in right from the opening line:

The river wasn’t the same as when he’d left it.

I can’t remember when was the last time I enjoyed an anthology as much as I did this time.  It wasn’t just that it happened to fall as August was waning, or that pictures from a cousin brought back memories of times at the beach.  It was the hopes and dreams these stories evoked inside me, the smells and sounds of summer overlaid with memories of fleeting romances that somehow you always wished would linger long after the vacation was over but never did.   I highly recommend this collection and loved them all, although not equally.  You will have your own favorites.  Let me know which ones they were.  Pick it up and return to your own summer recollections and dreams.

Cover art by Lou Harper works for the collection.  It feels like romance and summer.

Book Details:

ebook, 247 pages
Pink Squirrel Press
Published August 14th 2013 by Pink Squirrel Press
edition language English
other editions
None found

Scattered Thoughts Summary of Reviews for August 2013

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August banner with pencils

August 2013 Review and Blog Summary:

5 Star Rating:

Fifty Fifty Chances Are (Chances Are #3) by Lee Brazil, contemporary
Ghost of a Chance (Chances Are #4) by Lee Brazil, contemporary
Wicked Guidance (Wicked’s Way #4) by Havan Fellows, contemporary
Wicked Incarcerations (Wicked’s Way #3) by Havan Fellows contemporarysummer images with book

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

Chances Are (Chances Are #1) by Lee Brazil (4.5 stars) contemporary
Dance Only For Me (Dance With The Devil #6) by Megan Derr (4.75 stars) fantasy
Demolished by Astrid Amara (4 stars), contemporary
Home Sweet Home (Home #5) by T.A. Chase, (4.5 stars) contemporary
Second Chances Are (Chances Are #2) by Lee Brazil
The Beast Without by Christian Baines (4.75 stars) supernatural
Welcome, Brother (College Fun and Gays #5) by Erica Pike (4 stars) contemporary
Wicked Bindings (Wicked’s Ways #2) by Havan Fellows
Wicked Solutions (Wicked’s Ways #1) by Havan Fellows

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Burden by Annmarie McKenna (3.5 stars) contemporary
Faire Fugitive by Madeleine Ribbon (3.75 stars) fantasy
Fall For Me (Rock Gods #1) by Ann Lister, contemporary
Handle With Care by Josephine Myles (3.5 stars) contemporary
Mixed Tapes, Vol. 2 by Kris Jacen editor (3.5 stars) contemporary
Nischal (Leopard’s Spots #9) by Bailey Bradford (3.75 stars) supernatural
Subtle Innuendos (Mixed Tape series) by Z. Allora (3 stars) contemporary
The Boy Who Came In From The Cold by B.G. Thomas ((3 stars) contemporary

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:

The Queen’s Librarian by Carole Cummings (2.75 stars) fantasy

1 to 1.75 Star Rating:

Aching For It (Dominican Heat #1) by Stanley Bennett Clay (1 star) contemporary

Other Blogs:
Author Spotlight: Havan Fellows    
Author Spotlight: Lee Brazil
Wait? That Was The Ending? A Writing Mini rant From Scattered Thoughts

Review: Handle With Care by Josephine Myles

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

handle with careBen Lethbridge spent most of his life taking care of his little sister when his parents were killed.  It was a job no eighteen year old should have to shoulder, especially a diabetic one.  But Ben did it and with love and patience, becoming the parent, guardian and security for his 6 year old sister.  And when his sister grew up, the lessening of those duties made Ben a party boy, determined to make up for those years he missed out on while she was growing up.  But the excess to which Ben partied and drank was too much for his fragile body to handle and now he is paying for it by living on a home dialysis regimen and waiting for a kidney transplant that never seems to come.

The highlight of Ben’s day is his delivery boy coming to his house to drop off a package.  Ollie is a young, purple haired skateboarder whose bright personality and gorgeous body is the stuff of Ben’s dreams, day and night.  But not only is Ben not sure of Ollie’s sexuality, Ben feels unlovable and downright unsexy due to the tubes running out of his abdomen, his swollen physique, and strict daily regimen he is locked into.  So, other than a casual greeting with Ollie, all Ben does is look. And dream.

But one day a package Ollie is delivering breaks and Ben’s gay porn CDs fall out. In the ensuing mess, it comes out that Ollie is as gay as Ben had hoped. And Ollie’s kinks mesh with Ben’s status.  As with everything else in Ben’s life, nothing is ever easy and that goes for a relationship between Ollie and Ben. Can both men overcome the obstacles between them or will Ben let this chance at happiness slip away.

Handle With Care has so many terrific unexpected elements to it not normally found in m/m romance novels or any romance novel actually.  Myles gives us two main characters whose physical traits, and past histories make them unusual to say the least.  Her first MC is a young man responsible for his own (mostly) physical decline.  Ben Lethbridge was a 18 year old diabetic when his parents death made him responsible for his young sister as her only guardian.  Myles makes us understand why Ben would party to excess when he was finally able to let go, while remaining factual as to the physical  ramifications that such an abuse of drugs and alcohol would have on a diabetic.  Now in his thirties, Ben is living with the consequences and they aren’t pretty.  Josephine Myles gives us graphic descriptions of exactly how Ben goes through his daily regimen that is barely keeping him alive.  This happens early on:

Three hours after Zoe left I hooked up the catheter tube in my belly to an empty bag and started to drain out all the waste dialysis fluid. I’d infused a dialysate bag not long before she’d turned up, so I had to wait for it to diffuse before opening the parcel. It might sound silly, but I had problems getting it up with all the dialysate fluid inside me. I’d look down and see my bloated abdomen and that bloody tube sticking out of me, and any trace of arousal just evaporated. I’d just start thinking about how the fluid was sloshing around inside my peritoneal cavity, getting more and more toxic as it leached all the waste products out of my blood.

In some ways, I’d have preferred to stay on the haemodialysis, which was only three hospital visits a week, but what with the diabetes, it didn’t work so well for me. I felt terrible most of the time and kept having crashes. Peritoneal dialysis was better at keeping my blood sugar level, even if it could be a hassle having to infuse and drain four bags a day.

As the fluid drained out, taking all those toxins with it, I ripped open the cardboard wrapper and pulled out the latest acquisition to my library. I was getting quite a collection. Like I said, I had to get the variety somehow, didn’t I?

Vivid, matter of fact, and perhaps more than the reader would  want to know.  And this is perhaps the mildest of the descriptions of the reality that Ben faces daily as a man who needs a kidney transplant and lives a fragile life according to a medical regimen.  Ben has a disease that many live with and more than a few mishandle it as badly as Ben does early on.  He loves his sister, and has been her main support and companion for her entire life.  Ben is intelligent and holds down a good job, albeit at home due to his physical condition.  He seems like an ok guy. And while there is much to admire about Ben, there is also elements of his personality that made it hard for me to like him.  Is he human? Absolutely but does that translate automatically into a character we can care about and relate to?  I don’t think so.  For a character to have a disability or a disease is not enough to make that person someone the reader would automatically connect with.  They need a good or great core at the center to go along with whatever else is happening to them.  Ben, unfortunately, is also a bit of a curmudgeon.  He makes assumptions about everyone and everything, not always nice ones.  He has a next door neighbor who fills her garden with gnomes and other statuary.  Here is his thoughts on poor Mrs. Felpersham:

Ollie to be at the door on Monday morning. What I was expecting was Mrs. Felpersham, the old biddy who lives in the gnome-infested house next door and who insists on calling round once a week to ask how I’m doing. I wouldn’t mind if it were purely an innocent enquiry, but I swear she’s just looking for a chance to snoop around my flat and pass judgment.

In fact Ben rarely has a nice thought about any one with the exception of his sister.  And that gets old fast.  I kept telling myself that this was supposed to be reflective of Ben’s mental and physical state at the time.  And while it may have been realistic, it didn’t make him any more accessible as a person.

And it’s not just Ben.  His sister, Zoe, is as understandable and unlikable as he is.   She is young and protective of her brother/guardian.  In fact, due to Ben’s illness they have switched places with Zoe acting almost as Ben’s caregiver and sole companion.  She cooks all his meals for him due to his dietary restrictions and acts as his only friend outside his house.  Not exactly a healthy relationship but that never comes up.  She wants Ben to date, she wants to control who he dates.  She throws fits of anger and jealously that seem real given her personality and circumstances but do I like her? Again, no.

And then there’s poor Ollie, our young purple haired skateboarder who dreams of opening his own cafe.  I actually liked Ollie the best but Myles has burdened poor Ollie with a back history as a doormate/domestic servant with benefits with an older man who took advantage of him.  The history Myles created for Ollie seems authentic and potentially realistic.  So does his behavior with Ben and that makes Ben’s actions later more than a little repugnant and hurtful.  Ollie is young, ebullient and in financial straights.  I understood and liked this character.  Just not his choice of lovers, and that includes Ben.

I think my biggest issues here have to do not only with the characterizations but the relationship.  These all felt like very real people.  So were the events that happened to them, from the accident that killed Ben’s parents to the transplant that Ben undergoes to save his life.  The location, the events, everything is beautifully layered and fleshed out but no matter how hard I tried (and truly I did try), I just never got the attraction between Ben and Ollie.  That pull or magic that needs to be created on the page in order for the reader to buy into their love for each other seems utterly missing.

Josephine Myles is a terrific writer.  She thinks outside the norm when it comes to her characters and plots.  Sometimes they work and other times while we see the potential of the story, the actuality comes up short as it did here.  I liked the chances the author took with her characters in this story.  I like seeing people with disabilities or more common diseases being represented in romances as they deserve to be.  I only wish I had liked these a little more.  If you love Josephine Myles, then maybe you will feel differently than I do about Ben, Zoe and Ollie.  But if you are new to this author, skip this one and proceed to her many other books.  There is sure to be one you will love waiting for you on her shelf.

Cover art by Kanaxa is both lovely and touching.  Great job.

Book Details:

ebook, 149 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
ISBN 160928965X (ISBN13: 9781609289652)
edition language English

Martin Luther King, Jr., I Had A Dream speech, and This Coming Week In Reviews

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MLK on the MallIt’s the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s speech on Wednesday and yesterday tens of thousands of people gathered to commemorate that momentous occassion and to remind  the world that his dream still needs to be fulfilled.   Racism still exists and we as a nation still have such a long way to go for all to be equal under the law and in each other’s eyes.

Just in time for his anniversary, the MLK statue on the memorial was “fixed” so that awful truncated version of MLK’s speech is now gone,  That was just another example of how this man and his message is still misunderstood by some, in this case the Chinese artist and a group of architects responsible for that statue..   IMLK statue am not a fan of that statue.  To me it belongs in Tiananmen Square not Washington DC, it exemplifying the type of statuary so often seen in the communist nations.  Where is the man of passion?  Where is the man of fire and vision?  I don’t see him in the statue but instead look to his speeches where he and his dream will live forever.

Martin Luther King’s “I Had A Dream” speech:

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Now to the week ahead in book reviews.  I have the second series from the Pulp Friction authors and a guest blog from Lee Brazil this week.  I love these series and can’t wait to bring the third one to you the week after next.  That will be the Triple Threat series by Laura Harner.  I also have two books by authors who are always on my TBR list, Astrid Amara and Josephine Myles.  Be sure to grab those up as well.

The weather is exquisite.  Present are those clear blue early autumn skies that make you smile and stay outside until twilight falls.  I heard my first flock of snow geese go trumpeting overhead last night, the first of many that signal an early fall.  The whitetail deer herds are also reforming early.  That would account for the over 15 of them in my neighbors yards last night.  Did it make the terrors three crazy?  Why, yes it did!  As well as every other dog in the neighborhood.  Almost time to start winter proofing my gardens but not just yet.  I will enjoy them for a little longer.  So its time to gather up my Kindle and my knitting (and of course the dogs) and head outside to enjoy the day.   I hope you will enjoy yours too.

Monday, Aug. 26, 2013:                     Fifty Fifty Chances Are by Lee Brazil

Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013:                     Ghost of Chances Are by Lee Brazil

Wed., Aug. 28, 2013:                            Author Spotlight: Meet Lee Brazil

Thurs., Aug 29, 2013:                           Demolished by Astrid Amara

Friday, Aug. 30, 2013:                         Handle With Care by Josephine Myles

Sat., Aug. 31, 2013:                              A Summary of Scattered Thoughts August Reviews

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Book Wishes for 2013 – Authors, are you Listening?

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Book Wishes for 2013:

While everyone has been busy making New Year’s resolutions, I have been thinking about what I would wish for 2013 in books.  Turns out I have quite a few wishes, some  I would like to share in hopes they reach an author’s ear or more…..

❋I wish that 2013 brings a new book from JL Langley, this one to feature Sterling and Rhys, her wolf shifters…boy have we been waiting for their story.

❋I wish that 2013 brings another book in the Knitting series from Amy Lane *cough Jeremy cough*

❋I wish that 2013 brings Roan, Dylan, Holden, and the rest back with a fervor because Andrea Speed is killing me with anticipation over what the virus is going to do to Roan next.

❋I wish that Josh Lanyon is relaxed and happy from his sabbatical and ready to unleash some new books on his adoring fans.

❋I wish that I finally have time to start and finish JP Barnaby‘s Lost Boy series.

❋I wish that when authors are describing human eyes, the term “orb” doesn’t even come to mind as a word choice.  Really, people, you are making me mental with this one.  No more “his adoring blue orbs”.  Do you hear how dumb that sounds?  Magical orbs, alien orbs, fine.  Human orbs, no. Emphatically, unwaveringly, absolutely no.  See my Vocabulary Gone Bad series.

❋Ditto man tits.

❋I wish to that Abigail Roux doesn’t hurt Ty and Zane too badly in her next Cut & Run series, but that probably won’t happen.

❋I wish to see fewer instances of “instalove”, more measured steps towards a romantic relationship.

❋I wish that 2013 brings new stories about the Roughstock gang (BA Tortuga) and see Sam further along in his recovery.

❋I wish that Mary Calmes gives us another story in her werepanther universe and Domin Thorne and Yuri, really love those two.

❋I wish that I start taking my time reading books I have been waiting for instead of rushing through them (and then having to start over).  Patience, I need more patience.

❋I wish that when authors put their characters through hell (rape, savage attacks etc), there is no instant recovery without any effects from the abuse.  If you are going to go there, then at least make what happens to these people realistic all the way through.  No brutal multiple rapes and then joyful snowmobiling through the countryside. This makes me crazy too.

❋I wish that Andrew Grey is as prolific as he was in 2012.  I need more  Range stories and Taste of Love series.

❋I wish that 2013 let’s me finish and write the rest of the reviews for Charlie Cochrane‘s outstanding Cambridge Fellows series, really I have no good excuse for this one, time just got away from me.

❋I wish that RJ Scott continues to write in her Sanctuary series, love those boys and TJ Klune brings back more bad poetry from the Kid as well as the Kid himself.

❋I wish to see less rushed endings and more complete backstories.

❋My wish for Sarah Black is for the Pacific Northwest to be as big a muse as the American southwest has been in the past.

❋I wish for more great m/m science fiction.

❋I wish for more in the Wick universe from Megan Derr.

❋I wish for anything new from Laura Baumbach.

❋I wish to see Tucker Springs explode with stories from many of my favorite authors (Marie Sexton, Heidi Cullinan and LA Witt).

❋I wish for more of the Bellingham Mysteries from Nicole Kimberling and Bellski stories from Astrid Amara.

❋I wish that 2013 let’s me discover more new authors I can’t live without.  Thank you, 2012 for RC Cooper, Amelia C. Gormley, Rodney Ross, Shira Anthony, Poppy Denison, Marguerite Labbe, Joel Skelton, Katey Hawthorne, Piper J. Vaughn, Cardeno C, Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane to name the ones that jump into my fogged brain this morning.

❋I wish to thank those authors whose stories I have been reading for sometimes for the continued enjoyment and hours of escape you have given me and so many other readers…..Ariel Tachna, Ethan Day, Anne Tenino, James Buchanan, SJ Frost, Josephine Myles, Willa Okati, Carole Cummings, Isabelle Rowan, Kate Steele, Lynn Lorenz, and so many others (again fogged brain from late night and Redskins game).

❋And a final wish for 2013 is for people to remember and rediscover the wonderful Home series by William Neale, an author who will truly be missed.

So that’s it, all my pathetic brain can spew out today.  I am sure there is much more trying to battle their way forward but they will have to wait.  A shout out to all the couples in Maryland that starting getting married at 12:01am this morning. Congratulations and a Happy New Year.  I will be leaving you all with a picture of Kirby in his New Year’s finest, please note the black leis, a nice touch don’t you think to go with his tiara?

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Review of Lashings of Sauce Anthology

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3rdRating: 4.5 stars

Lashing: British slang for lots or large amounts.  In celebration of 2012 Olympics, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the 3rd Annual UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet, a lashing of authors from all over the Globe put forth an GLBTQ anthology of stories that highlight everything that makes Britain  (and mainland Europe) a great place for GLBTQ people to love and live.

Here is a list of stories and authors in the order they appear:

• Post Mortem by Jordan Castillo Price
• Dressing Down by Clare London
• Et Tu, Fishies? by JL Merrow
• Zones by Elyan Smith
• Sollicito by Charlie Cochrane
• A Few Days Away by Elin Gregory
• Vidi Velo Vici by Robbie Whyte
• Shelter From Storms by Sandra Lindsey
• Faulty Genes by Rebecca Cohen
• Lost in London by Tam Ames
• My Husband by Zahra Owens
• Waiting for a Spark by Lillian Francis
• Social Whirl by Emily Moreton
• School for Doms by Anne Brooke
• Dragon Dance by Josephine Myles
• Reclaiming Territory by Becky Black

The stories contained within this anthology really run the gamut of GLBTQ sexuality as well as genre.  Here you will find stories of wereshifters of London (no, not those, quite the contrary) to lesbians in love, love in transition, timeless love or should that be love amuck the ages and finally lost lovers reunited after a long separation.  There is humor, ok, humour (sheesh) and brooding, and angst, all the emotions love pulls out of you and more.  And oh what authors await you between the pages, it is almost sinful to have such a wealth of talent in one book.

Some of the stories don’t fall into the realm of books I normally read and review but I will say that I enjoyed them all.  Thank you for my visit into f/f fiction as well as D/s.  There are stories of transgender persons and one who cross dresses with panache. These stories manage to combine great characterizations, vivid descriptions from locations all over Britain and plots that make you guffaw and break down in tears.  Here were some of my favorites among a list of outstanding stories:

Et Tu, Fishies? by J.L. Merrow.  When Bill leaves his fish tank along with his flat in the hands of Marty for the week, Marty was prepared for many things.  Cleaning, feeding the fish, masturbating in Bill’s bed, lots of things.  Nothing, however, prepared him for Arthur, the weird upstairs neighbor.  That would be Arthur Prefect. When Marty challenges him on his name, he says it used to be Herbert Wells.  Right.  And Arthur has lost his lover.  That would be..nope not giving that one away.  Yes, indeedy, we are off on a wonderful romp involving lashings of vodka, wine , walnuts and cheesy balls.  And time travel, snappy dialog and drunken sex.  Loved it.

Sollicito by Charlie Cochrane.  She did it, she went ahead and did it. Charlie Cochrane gives us weresloths of London.  With shifters of all sorts bounding across the pages of book after book, there was nary a weresloth among them.  Until now. Told from the point of view of an unnamed bloke who sprouts fur and long curved claws at the most inopportune moment, he bemoans the fact that his shifting, unlike the numerous wolf shape shifters, has no rhyme nor reason to it.   One moment he is fine, the next he has fur and the urge to move slowly along a balustrade.  Yes, insert spew event.  The whole story is like that.  While laughing out loud, I found a new phrase to use “divvy doo dah”.  Love the sound of that.  Had to look up Martin Johnson (not a clue), read the words “brolly dangling stage” several times as obscene images flittered across my mental landscape while remaining completely in the dark about the Junction 6 of the M40. Yes,I know.  It’s a British thing!  Love this story even as it boggled my very American mind.

Vidi Velo Vici by Robbie Whyte. Whyte uses a clever format for this story of lust, if not love discovered during a daily commute through traffic.  Each day Evan sets out for the office in his car only to find himself trapped in horrific traffic. Each day finds him on the phone to his sarcastic assistant, Tia, to have her rearrange his schedule as he is going to be late into the office.  Monday, 8:38 am and Evan’s car mirror is clipped by a cyclist weaving through the clogged cars.  Evan’s rage is only abated by watching some outstanding glutes in tight spandex peddling away.  Day after day, Even and the faceless cyclist appear on the same road and at the same time.  You listen in on Evan’s inner dialog as he watches for that magnificent physique to appear in the mirror, Evan consults with his sat-nav with the voice of Vader, Evan talks to Tia whose droll comments on Evan’s current legal case involving a shih tzu,  dog custody and someone named Antonio who he keeps sleeping with had me giggling madly.  It’s funny, it’s real, and has a great ending.

Shelter From Storms by Sandra Lindsey takes us back to the French Revolution as a wounded, frail Louis appears on the doorstep of Daniel Elcott in England.  He has made his way through war torn France to Daniel’s country manor with only a small dirty calling card to hand the butler. Once the men were lovers when younger, now Daniel is married with children.  But Louis has no where else to go as he has lost it all.  The men reconnect as Louis falls ill and Daniel attends to his needs.  Their love sparks once more as Louis convalesces.  Daniel finds that with Louis’ return so does the man he once was.  Lovely, well told story that brings history to life and makes a gay relationship seem not only possible but realistic as well.

Lost In London by Tam Ames.  Here we meet Kevin Larton, from Calgary in Canada.  He’s in London to go to school but finding it difficult to navigate his way.  He is finding his courses difficult, making new friends more so and when it comes to reading maps and getting around town, he is at a complete loss.  It doesn’t matter that he is here to get his PhD in Economics or was a city planner.  Kevin just can’t read maps so he is always lost. A chance meeting with Benjamin White gives Kevin a change in direction.  Everything starts to become possible, friends, degree and perhaps even a boyfriend.  There is a hilarious drunken scene, wonderful characters and I learned what a feedlot was.  Ewww.  Great story, though.

My Husband by Zahra Owen charts one person’s marriage through the tumultuous stages of their transitioning from female to male.  There is never a missed step as Owens treats the subject with sensitivity and authenticity.  Told from Sam’s POV, we meet Sean their husband and see their courtship and marriage through Sam’s memories.  Owen gives us a glimpse of what it must feel like to be born in the wrong body and the journey one person makes to correct nature’s mistake. Poignant and lovely.

Dragon Dance by Josephine Myles is the penultimate story and one of my top two (I have no intension of telling you all the other, guess why don’t you).  I love going to Chinatown here in DC and watching the Dragon Dance during the Chinese New Year so imagine my delight over a story wrapped around two friends and their families preparing the costumes and dragon for their neighborhood’s New Year celebration. Gan and Archie are two lifelong friends whose families are equally close in their small village’s Chinese community.  As their mothers make the Dragon from crimson parachute material and fashion the pearl it will chase after, the boys discover their sexuality and the love that has always been present.  Myles pulled me in completely from the vibrant portraits of the boys as they dance the Dragon Dance. As they practice, their movements are jerky and uncoordinated with respect to each other but as they communicate their love and desire  it becomes sinuous, motions beckoning each other forward that mimic the depth their relationship has finally achieved.  I could picture it unfolding so real did it all become. Sigh.

Reclaiming Territory by Becky Black is the last story of the anthology so it is fitting that it is the story of  an old love lost and then later reclaimed.  Jim and Andy are riding a motorcycle and sidecar to Whitby, a place full of memories for both men and their relationship, good and bad.  As they wander through town, making various stops we learn their history and what is has taken for the men to get to this stage in their relationship where they are now.  The story bounds between 2012, 1987 the year they broke up, and 2009, the year they reconnected.  Jim is so very human in his fears and faults as is Andy in his anger over Jim’s betrayal and cowardice.  All it takes is a look at the date and remember what it meant to be gay during that time period.  Yes, things have changed, yes, they have gotten easier in some parts of the globe but this story is a reminder of the fears of coming out and staying together as a gay committed couple that many had during the 80’s.  It is fitting that in celebrating our present, the past is never forgotten and Black does an outstanding job of bringing that  to us in the forms of Jim and Andy riding into the future firmly hooked together by vehicle and by choice.

Go out and grab this anthology, read each story, find your own favorites, Mine might shuffle as I read it once more.  Happy Jubilee, Queen, Great Olympics, Britain and have a wonderful time at the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet.  I really wish I was there with you.  Divvy doo dah!

Cover art by Alex Beecroft.  Smashing I say! lol