September 2013 Summary of Reviews

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September and Fall

September 2013 Book Review Summary

What a wonderful month it was for books and reviews!  Most of the books I read fell into the 5 and 4 star category, a few into the  3 star and none below that.  Series predominated the ratings this time.  Most notably the series offerings from the Pulp Friction authors. There 3d-person-sit-pile-books-reading-book-26141531were new books in well established series such as Katey Hawthorne’s Superpowered Love series as well as followup stories and new series  from such talented authors such as Kendall McKenna (The Tameness of the Wolf series) and Aleksandr Voinov (Memory of Scorpions series).

Other new series includes Poppy Dennison’s Pack Partners , Cat Grant’s Bannon’s Gym) and Harper Kingsley’s Heroes and Villains series too.  My cup (and yours) runneth over with series, all promising more great stories featuring characters we have come to love. And believe it or not, October is starting the same way!  What a fall!

So grab a pen or notebook and jot down those books and authors you may have missed the first time around.  I have linked my review to each one listed.  Happy Reading!

5 Star Rating:

Crucify (Triple Threat #4) by L.E. Harner
Defiance (Triple Threat #3) by L.E. Harner
Re-entry Burn (Superpowered Love #5) by Katey Hawthorne (supernatural)
Retribution (Triple Threat #2) by L.E. Harner (contemporary)
Scorpion (Memory of Scorpions #1) by Aleksandr Voinov (fantasy)
Strength of the Wolf (The Tameness of the Wolf #2) by Kendall McKenna

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

Accidental Alpha (Pack Partners #1) by Poppy Dennison (4.5 stars)(supernatural)
Black Dog (Bannon’s Gym #1) by Cat Grant (4.5 stars)(contemporary)
Blessed Curses by Madeleine Ribbon (4 stars) (fantasy)
City Knight (City Knight #1) by T.A. Webb (4 stars out of 5)(contemporary fiction)
Heroes and Villains (Heroes and Villains #1) by Harper Kingsley (4 stars)(supernatural)
Sonata by A.F. Henley (4.5 stars out of 5)(contemporary fiction)
Summer Lovin’ Anthology (4.75 stars out of 5) (contemporary)
The Crimson Outlaw by Alex Beecroft (4 stars)(historical)
Triple Threat (Triple Threat #1) by L.E. Harner (4.5 stars)(contemporary)

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Coliseum Square by Lynn Lorenz (3.75 stars)(historical)
Roughstock: Blind Ride, Season One by BA Tortuga (3 stars) (contemporary)

2 to 2.75 Star Rating: none

1 to 1.75 Star Rating: none

Review: Blessed Curses by Madeleine Ribbon

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Blessed Curse coverWhen David was 8, his world came crashing down around him, isolating him from his family and all of society.  David had been cursed by his 9 year old brother in a fit of jealous anger and it stuck.  Despite everyones efforts, including the best sorcerers of the time, no one could undo the curse, a curse that made people fear him and unable to be in his company for longer than a minute.

Now, years later, David has adjusted to his life and the curse, or as much as anyone could be.  He works the night shift at his cousin’s magical practitioner shop and then goes home to his video games and lonely life.  Then one day at his brother’s wedding, David is introduced to Vaughn, a magical enforcer. The firm Vaugn works for is the law enforcement agency charged with picking apart complex curses and making sure sorcerers stay within the law.

Vaughn is intrigued immediately by David. David has long been known to them as The Impossible Kid because of the cure he carries.  But Vaughn also finds David handsome, shy, and kind of heartbreaking in his loneliness. Vaughn loves solving supposedly irreversible curses like David’s and can dampen the magical fields he comes in contact with, enough so that he can stand near David without screaming…for most of the time.

Vaughn vows to help cure David of his curse, but finds that the more he gets to know David, the more personal his quest becomes,  David is more than a puzzle to Vaughn, he just might be the love Vaughn has always wanted.  David seems to want him back.  But before a relationship can happen, there is a curse to be dealt with and Vaughn is not having much luck.  What will happen to them both if David’s curse is truly unbreakable?

Madeleine Ribbon is a new author for me.  Blessed Curses is only the second book of hers that I have read but already I look forward to her stories because certain elements of her books are so well done.  Ribbon’s world building is terrific.  She gives us a credible universe for each story, one that is complete without going into scads of details when it is not necessary.  Ribbon also has the gift of bringing magic and its practitioners to life as thoroughly as any common place profession and its employees.  This enforcement agency suffers from cut backs, dingy office space and overworks it employees because of budget cuts.  Within this world magic is both commonplace and a talent to be taught and nurtured.

The characters that Ribbon creates for her stories are just as well done as her world building.   David is such a tragic figure but one that never gives in to self pity or bitterness.  Vaughn too has many interesting layers.  A self described “slut” for most of his years, Vaughn is tired of his promiscuous ways and wants to find someone to love.  The author makes both men authentic sympathetic individuals who she then surrounds with equally moving and real secondary characters.  I especially love the grumpy Trekker, Vaughn’s partner at the agency and Cole, a young homeless sorcerer.  They really helped bring this story to life.  Less well rounded in personality was Todd, the brother who cursed his brother and has spent the rest of his life being his companion.  Given his was the curse that started it all and that he was bound to his brother by guilt as well as love, I think his character should have reflected more of the dichotomy inherent in their situation.  He seemed a little shallow to me unfortunately.

The beginning of this book will absolutely make you cry.  In fact the poignancy and heartbreak of those earlier scenes is so powerful, so pain filled that the feelings they engender are never fully recaptured.

David sat down on the next swing over. It hung just a little too low to be comfortable, but he didn’t want to lose this taste of friendship by moving down to the other end of the set.

He managed to kick his way up almost as high as Andy, though he had to keep letting go of the chain to push his shaggy brown hair out of his eyes.

Todd would see them when he got home from camp. David wondered what sort of a reaction he would get, once Todd realized that his friends didn’t mind David quite so much as David had been led to believe.

It was nearly dark when Todd finally found them talking and laughing, still on the swings. David stopped pumping his legs when he saw his brother stomping toward them. “Davey,”

With the joy of the scenes before when a lonely young boy realizes that someone will play with him, the boys swinging together on the playground, a rarity for young David, to the sight of his  angry brother stomping towards them, well, it will feel absolutely spot on to anyone who knows young kids and sibling rivalry.  But in this case, a fight between an older jealous sibling ( who has consistently bullied his brother) and his baby brother will have far more grave consequences than can be fixed by a bandaid and a time out in their room.   The innocence of David combined with a child’s fear and sense of betrayal will haunt this book for several reasons.  One reason is that it is so beautifully written, the emotions flowing from the boys are visceral in their impact.  And secondly, the consequences upon the siblings and their relationship is never spelled out to the readers satisfaction.  Yes, Todd became his brother’s companion but how did they feel about that?  Where is the realism to their complicated relationship? Nor do we see what is Todd’s (the brother) reaction to the curse being lift.  This whole element is lacking from the story and when it is such an emotional component right from the start, it should be included in the story as well to make this a well rounded plot and feel complete at the end.

Aside from this gap in the narrative, I loved this story.  I did feel the denouement lacking in intensity.  It just sort of happened.  Another missed opportunity.  Others may not feel that way.  The majority of this story is terrific. In fact its downright magical, including elements of angst in the form of a young teenager discarded by his family.  I definitely recommend this story and am off to locate more of Madeleine Ribbon’s stories to read,

Cover Art by Brooke Albrecht is gorgeous.  I think it know where the design was going with the picture but I am just not sure anyone would know what the story was about from the cover.  I wouldn’t and it that part of the cover’s job?

Book Details:

ebook, 168 pages
Published August 7th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press (first published August 6th 2013)
ISBN 1627980571 (ISBN13: 9781627980579)
edition language English

A City In Need and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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Washington, DC, home of the federal government, the Smithsonian, the World Bank and all those other government agencies who names are reduced to alphabet letters, doesn’t have a shelter for LGBTQ endangered youth.  How is that possible?  We have food banks, shelters for homeless families (although not nearly enough) and shelters for battered women (House of Ruth, although again horribly more is needed here too).  We have famous this and that, shiny new, expensive condos are rising up everywhere to help shelter the masses of people, young and old, who are returning to the city to live and work.homeless youth are real sign

Where is the shelter for those thrown out of their homes for their sexuality?

Discarded like garbage, removed from family, schools, and every type of support possible, these kids are then forced to scramble to survive on the streets while lacking the skills to do so.  Fragile prey who often meet the predators just waiting for them. Others arrive thinking the city offers some hope and answers and find neither.

Who is going to answer their cries for help?

There used to be the Wanda Alston House but they went bankrupt.  Other shelters I reported on apparently (from sources working in DC close to the situation) are turning away LGBTQ youth because of their sexuality. *shakes head*  But there is a glimmer of hope at least for Homeless Youth out in the streetsthe future.

Yesterday, my Metro M/M group (authors, bloggers, publishers and readers)  met to talk books, conferences, and other things at the  wonderful Freddie’s Beach Bar in Crystal City VA.   A friend mentioned that the Wanda Alston House is being revived as The Alston Project and she is working with the organizers.  That is wonderful and much needed news.  We need this shelter, the LGBTQ youth need this shelter and I want to help.  And hopefully you do too.

So I will keep you all posted.  Watch for a blog on The Alston Project.  I have ideas percolating to launch a Homeless youth 40 percent picdonation drive when it is ready for one.  Maybe even auctioning off/giving away ebooks and t-shirts for money to go into this project.  Let me know if you all have any ideas!  Lets pool our thoughts, our resources, our energies and make a shelter for LGBTQ homeless youth a reality.

We read books about them, romances and fictional stories by authors whose extraordinary talents make us weep over the plight and reality of gay youth so lets channel those emotions and help them in other ways too.  Keep tuned in for more information and ways to help our LGBTQ endangered kids!

Here are links to LGBTQ shelters in other  cities that need help and donations too:

www.aliforneycenter.org (New York City)

U CAN – LGBTQ Host Home Program (Chicago, IL)

Lost-n-Found Youth, Inc. (Atlanta, GA)

Article on House Bill – New House bill seeks to aid LGBT homeless youth

And now for the week ahead in reviews:

Monday, Sept. 23:  Heroes and Villains by Harper Kingsley

Tuesday, Sept 24:   Blessed Curses by Madeleine Ribbon

Wed., Sept 25:          Summer Lovin’ Anthology

Thurs., Sept. 26:       City Knight by T.A. Webb

Friday, Sept. 27:       Roughstock: Blind Ride, Season One by BA Tortuga

Sat., Sept 28:             The Case of the Missing Aha Moment – Scattered Thoughts Mini Rant on Writing

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: Faire Fugitive by Madeleine Ribbon

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Faire FugitiveSmall time thief Devlin is on the run. Mac, his friend and former protector is trying to kill him and Devlin can never stay any place for long.  When Mac catches up to Devlin again, Devlin flees to a local Renaissance Faire hoping to pick enough pockets to get the money he needs to move on.  But the faire and the people inside are not quite as they seem.  As Devlin winds his way through the crowd relieving them of their money, he notices a man with piercing green eyes watching him.  Disconcerted, Devlin runs deep into the Faire town, a place full of shops and pubs.  One shop calls to him. EZRA’S AMULETS, and he  enters.  Once inside, one particular amulet calls to him, and unable to stop, Devlin steals the amulet from the shop and puts it on.

From that moment on Devlin’s life starts to change.  For the magic inside the amulet is real and pulls Devlin back to the Faire even as he runs off  back to the city.   Injured, Devlin returns, and waiting him is the man Devlin saw watching him – Ezra.  But Mac is close behind Devlin, gun at hand.  Devlin will die unless a miracle happens.   Will Devlin trust in Ezra and the Faire’s magic to keep him alive or will Mac win out in the end?

Faire Fugitive is my first  book by Madeleine Ribbon but it definitely won’t be my last.  I found this story to be charming, engrossing, absolutely winning in almost every way.  Madeleine Ribbon has created a wonderful universe in her Faire and its varied denizens.  From a fox furry to a fortune teller with more than fortunes up his sleeve, the author has created a modern Brigadoon in the guise of a Renaissance Faire.   Her descriptions of the Faire should be familiar to any person who has visited their local festival but then she takes it several marvelous steps further into a magical realm with a sentience of its own.

Ribbon’s characters too are charming and endearing each in its own way.  Devlin’s life has been a hard one of foster families and then life on the street at the tender age of 11. His only friend has turned against him in a cruel twist of fate and now he is permanently on the run, fleeing for his life and out of funds.  His desperation is keenly felt and the reader not only fears for him but feels for his circumstances too.  Ezra, the amulet maker, is a little more of an enigma.  I wish the author had given us more of his history.  As it is, he doesn’t come against quite as realistic as Devlin does.  None of the others do, except Gail, the fox furry, an adorable character.  But perhaps that is the author’s intent because most of the other people involved are wedded to the magic that is the Faire and are no longer of the outside world.

Madeleine Ribbon’s narrative flows smoothly, bogging down only slightly when it spends too much time with Devlin prior to the Faire.  Once within the gates, however, it picks up speed, gathering momentum as the plot proceeds to the end.  And that is where all my quibbles arrive.  Madeleine Ribbon sets us up for a denouement that never happens.  We keep waiting for the “aha” moment and by a strange and deflating plot twist, takes that satisfaction away from the reader, giving us a poor substitution in its place.   She also ends her story just where we would love to see an Epilogue appear. I hope that the abrupt ending foretells another story in the same universe.  I would be first in line to pick it up.

Even with my quibbles, I recommend Faire Fugitive and look forward to much more from Madeleine Ribbon.

Cover art by Fiona Jayde.  I thought this was a gorgeous cover, perfect in tone and coloring for the story within.  One of my favorites of the month.

Book Details:

ebook, 201 pages
Published June 25th 2013 by Loose Id
ISBN139781623003890
url http://www.loose-id.com/faire-fugitive.html

A Touch of Fall and The Week In Reviews

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So you know that certain color of blue that only appears in the fall skies?  That is the color of the sky outside this morning.  The air has a certain crispness about it, so foreign usually in August here in Maryland.  The light is shining at a different angle, portending the coming fall and the promise of colder weather.  I even heard a flock of Canada Geese this morning, honking as they flew overhead in the largest formation I have seen this year.  What does it all mean?  Probably nothing.  But as I love autumn, I am sure that my step is a little lighter this morning and the dogs a little bouncier on this day that seems so full of anticipation.

So I will be gathering up knitting, Kindle, dogs and my coffee and heading outside to bask in the light of a fall to come.  I cannot tarry inside for I know how fleeting such days are.  Here is the week ahead in reviews and a mini rant on story resolutions.

Monday, Aug. 5, 2013:                    Dance Only For Me by Megan Derr

Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013:                    Wicked Solutions #1 by Haven Fellows

Wed., Aug. 7, 2013:                           Faire Fugitive by Madeleine Ribbons

Thurs., Aug. 8, 2013:                         Wicked Bindings #2 by Haven Fellows

Friday, Aug. 9, 2013:                        The Beast Without by Christian Baines

Saturday, Aug 10, 2013:                 Wait? That Was The Ending? A Story Writing Mini Rant