STRW December 2013 Summary of Reviews and Best Dec. Covers

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Winter trees longs

December 2013 Book Review Summary and December Best Covers of the Month

December 2013 Review Summary

*Key:
S series
C contemporary
F-fantasy
SF-science fiction
PN-paranormal
SP-supernatural
H-historical
YA-young adult

5 Star Rating:

Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane, C
Grime Doesn’t Pay: The Brothers Grime, Eddie by Z.A.Maxfield C,S
Oceans Apart by Laura Harner, C, S
Odd Man Out (4 series finale, #6)by Laura Harner, TA Webb, Lee Brazil and Havan Fellows C,S

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

Blue River by Theo Fenraven (4 stars)PN
Christmas Serendipity by Liam Livings, (4.25)C,
Continental Divide written by Laura Harner, Lisa Worrall (4.25) C,S
Indelible Ink by Marie Lark, (4.5) C
Kick Start by Josh Lanyon C,S
Lost and Found by Z.A. Maxfield (4.5)C
Mindscape by Tal Valante (4.5) SF, S
Model Love by SJ Frost (4.25) C
Roughstock: Tag Team – Fais Do Do Season Two  by BA Tortuga(4.25)C,S

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Christmas Wish by Mychael Black, Shayne Carmichael SN, S
Housekeeping by Kim Fielding (3.75) C
Ride-Off (Polo #2) by Mickie B. Ashling (3.5)C
2 to 2.75 Star Rating:
N/A

1 to 1.75 Star Rating: N/A

Best Covers of December 2013:

Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane, cover by LC Chase
Housekeeping by Kim Fielding, cover by Paul Richmond (his M/M American Gothic)
Lost and Found by ZA Maxfield, Cover by LC Chase
Mindscape by Tal Valante, cover by LC Chase

Housekeeping

LostAndFound_500x750

Mindscape_500x750

Christmas Kitsch cover

Review: Indelible Ink (Boys Will Do Boys) by Marie Lark

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

indelibleink_msr_1Tattoo artist Jon Park has just left Seattle for a new start on the East Coast.  Jon fled a bad breakup with his ex boyfriend who also happened to own the tat shop that Jon worked as a tattoo artist.  Now he has opened his own place, a tattoo and piercing parlor,  with his college best friend in her hometown. But deciding to open Park Ink in the middle of winter  in a small town in Upper New York might not have made the most sense.  Business is scarce and the bills are barely getting paid, not a position Jon thought he would be in his thirties.

Then Jon runs into a group of guys beating up on a young homeless man outside a bar and everything changes.  Arthur is a young 22 year old  and homeless.  A product of the foster system since the age of 8, Arthur soon learned that lying and stealing were the quickest way to  get what he needed to survive and applied them often, gaining a dubious reputation in the bargain.  But when Jon saves him from a beating, everything changes for him.  Arthur sees the potential for change for himself and help for Jon, assistance that Jon is not even aware he needs.

Despite all objections and arguments from those around them, Jon and Arthur find themselves falling into love and a relationship.  But both mens pasts come forward to threaten their fragile relationship and Park Ink’s success.  Jon and Arthur will have to summon  their courage and face their opponents together or everything they have worked for and want will be lost.

Here is a story that charmed me utterly while introducing me to new aspects of the tattooing process.  I was unfamiliar with Marie Lark but Indelible Ink will have me seeking out more of her stories because I enjoyed this story on many different levels from plot to unusual characterizations.

Let’s start with her characters of Indelible Ink.  Jon Park is unusual in so many ways.  A 6’4″, long-legged and rangy, Jon is part Korean, part Hawaiian and on the cusp of 30 years old.  Jon is a much softer individual than his size would indicate, preferring floral and more delicate tattoo designs to the more hard line and popular artwork such as skulls and bones.  I think artistic and gentle are the words I would use to best describe this unassuming man.  Lark pulls us into the story on the strength of Jon Park alone because he is such a lovely and unexpected human being.  Then the author adds Arthur, a troubled 22 year old homeless young man with concealed strengths and artistry of his own.  Arthur’s true character is slowly revealed over the length of the story as he learns to trust Jon and  start to believe in a different future for himself.  Arthur will grow on you at the same pace that Jon accepts him, a terrific strategy by Lark to help connect the reader with this struggling man with a pile of problems behind him.  Lark also throws in several strong women characters to support Jon and Park Ink, from his best friend and business partner, piercing artist Val to another local bar owner and her husband who welcome him to the neighborhood.  Lark just fills her story with great characters, people you could see yourself spending the afternoon with, chatting about neighborhood politics while sipping coffee or getting a tattoo.

And that brings us to the tattoo element of this story.  I have read quite a few stories that revolve around tattoo artists and their shops and in each one I learn something new.  In Indelible Ink, Lark is able to bring the sensations of being tattooed alive by her intimate and detail oriented scenes within Park Ink, including the high you feel under the needle and the almost out of body sensation towards the end.  Here is an excerpt from the scene where Jon is starting to work on a tat he created for Arthur:

Arthur huffed a laugh and rolled his head to look over at his arm. “It looks great,” he said. “Yeah?”

Jon smiled down at his work and wiped away ink and a little blood with a damp paper towel. “How are you feeling?”

“Fine,” Arthur said quickly. “Good—great, actually. I forgot how good it could feel when you don’t have a rank amateur digging into your flesh.”

“It’s definitely addicting,” Jon agreed, pressing on the foot pedal and starting the machine again. “Do you have any questions about what I’m doing? This is supposed to be a tattoo lesson.”

Arthur closed his eyes and slowly rocked his head back and forth against the chair. “Nah. I’m—curious about tension in your hand and how hard to press down but I probably just need to practice that myself.”

“Yeah, we’ll get you working on grapefruits and oranges this week if you want.”

“Awesome. We still get to eat them after though, right? Shit is expensive.”

Jon could hear the smile in Arthur’s voice even though he’d redirected his attention to Arthur’s arm.

“Definitely. The needle never goes below the dermis—if you go the whole way through a grapefruit rind, we need to seriously reevaluate your career choice.” Pausing to glance up at him, he saw Arthur’s mouth fall gently open and his eyes flutter behind closed lids. If he hadn’t suspected already, that expression confirmed it—Arthur was a tattoo junkie.

There was something about the kind of pain that came from a tattoo machine—the way it fired along nerve endings, the way it vibrated down to the bone and in the brain—that had people just like Arthur and just like Jon coming back for more whenever they had the itch and the cash. It’d been well over a year since Jon had gotten his last tattoo and knowing what the sensations were doing to Arthur brought the itch back in a rush.

Her vivid descriptions just bring alive that moment in the chair where you commit to a design and the reality of a tattoo.  It’s sensational, emotional, and almost as addictive as getting a tattoo itself.

My only quibble with the story is that I felt the resolution and the ending arrived almost at the same time.  It would have been nice to have shared in Jon and Arthur’s happiness for a moment before the book ends.  But it just felt a bit rushed and not as satisfactory as the rest of the book.  The other thing I wish to point out is that Indelible Ink is listed as part of the Boys Will Do Boys series but that is a loosely connected group of stories with different authors and not a continuation of the characters and situations found inside Indelible Ink. So be warned if you are looking to purchase the others because you liked this story.

Small quibbles with the ending aside, I really recommend this story to all lovers of m/m romance and contemporary fiction.  This is not a case of instant love but a realistic, halting climb to trust and love with characters you will adore.  I enjoyed Indelible Ink and think you will too.  It will be released by Ellora’s Cave Publishing on December 6th, 2013.  Put it on your calendar!

Book To be Released on December 6, 2013.

Amazon Buy Link Kindle

Book Details:

Indelible Ink [Ebook] By: Marie Lark
ISBN 9781419948114
Book Length Novel
Publisher Ellora’s Cave Publishing Inc.
Imprint: Romantica®Line: Spectrum
Series: Boys Will Do Boys

Twas the Week Of Christmas Poem and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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Winter trees longs

Scattered Thoughts “Twas The Week of Christmas” Poem!
(with my apologies to Clement Clark Moore)

It’s the week of Christmas and all through the house
Everyone was running around like crazy, even the mouse
Stockings need to be hung by the chimney with care
But until they are found, the mantel is quite bare.

The dogs were all nestled all snug in my bed
while visions of Dingle Rounds and bacon danced in their heads
And with Captain in his cage and the fish swimming laps
I settled in my chair for a long over due nap

With a bang and a pop on the lawn, there was a clatter
That I slowly rose out of my chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I tottered without a crash
Only to knock over the books on the table I had stashed

The moon on the crest shown on the lawn below
to highlight the waving penguins, bears and deer ornaments aglow
When what to my nearsighted eyes should appear
Not one fox but two instead of miniature reindeer

 
With my old wooden driver, I tried to be quick
So I hollered and shouted until I was sick
More rapacious than gluttons, definitely not tame
Those foxes yipped and danced until they were lame

Go Away, now, happy foxes, Be Gone you, Vixens
It’s late at night, everyone is sleeping or fixin’
to head up to bed, but to sleep won’t happen at all
until you find yourselves another place to hold your fox ball.

As the dry leaves before the leafblower did fly
Through the lawn figures and lights the foxes  did spy
A bunny running across the neighbor’s yard with a bound
So with a yip and a bark, they ran after the prey they had found

The bunny so brown, white tail and fleet of foot
That the foxes, exhausted and panting, found that it took
More energy and speed than had their little pack
So before I knew it they were all headed back

To commune with my lawn animals who twinkled so merry
That to those foxes eyes, they were not even a little bit scary
The penguins were waving, both wearing a bow
And the polars bears glowed white, glistening like snow.

The figure of the dog held a fake bone in its teeth
On its head was a Santa hat, with ribbons beneath
The figures were tall, with heads as large as their bellies
That they often fell over, looking like Great Aunt Nelly(snort)

The foxes danced as I watched, “so happy” I said to myself
that they looked like the fox figurine that now sat on my shelf
With a prance and tongues hanging out of their heads
I knew without a doubt, I had a wonderful memory to take with me to bed

I watched a bit more, and then with a jerk
I waved to my visitors and left with a smirk
And grabbing my cane and with a rub to my nose
Up the stairs to bed and my pups I did go

As the foxes went on their way, running through the thistle
Captain woke in his cage and gave a sleepy whistle
And I thought I heard that parrot say, as I turned off the last light
“Goodnight, sweetheart, Merry Christmas and Good Night”!

With my apologies to Clement Clark Moore’s poem, Captain didn’t say that.  What he said is not suitable for print (he cusses a lot). But I am sure the mumbles I heard were in keeping with the spirit of the week before Christmas.  I do have a wonderful yard for wildlife and they will be getting their own treats for Christmas and winter time.  So will the terriers three and Captain, the AG.

Here is hoping for joy and love and good health to all for the holidays no matter what or if you celebrate.  Especially for two special men in Virginia in so many peoples hearts and prayers at this time.  If you are inclined to give a little bit more at this time of year, I have a link below to the Eric Arvin Support Fund.  All donations are welcome no matter the size.

Now to the week ahead in reviews:

Monday, Dec. 23:          Indelible Ink by Marie Lark

Tuesday, Dec. 24:          Housekeeping by Kim Fielding

Wed., Dec. 25:                Shira Anthony’s Symphony In Blue Guest Blog

Merry Christmas!

Thurs., Dec. 26:              Christmas Wish by Mychael Black ,Shayne Carmichael

Friday, Dec. 27:              Tal Valante’s Mindscape Blog Tour and Contest

Sat., Dec. 28:                   Mindscape by Tal Valante