Scattered Thoughts Book Review Summary for June 2013

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june

June 2013 has come and gone but some of the books I read that month continue to linger in my heart and mind, just some outstanding stories. As always, there is something for everyone here, from contemporary to paranormal books, terrific additions to wonderful series.  If you missed them the first time, here is your chance to check them out again:

5 Star Rating:

Hobbled by John Inman

Infected: Undertow by Andrea Speed

Mighty Casey by Willa Okati

One Breath, One Bullet by S.A.McAuley

Prelude by Shira Anthony and Venona Keyes

4 to 4.75 Star Rating:

A Casual Weekend Thing by A.J. Thomas (4.75 stars) (contemporary)

A Silence Kept by Theo Fenraven (4.25 stars)(contemporary)

Aria of the Eclipse by Vivien Dean (4.75 stars)(science fiction)

Flawless by Cat Grant (4.25 stars)(contemporary)

Stonewall by Martin Duberman (4.25 stars) (non fiction)

The Hanged Man’s Ghost by Missouri Dalton (4.75 stars)(paranormal)

The Night Shift by Missouri Dalton (4.25 stars)(paranormal)(series)

3 to 3.75 Star Rating:

Fennel and Forgiveness by Ari McKay (3.5 stars) (contemporary)

Heart of the Race by Mary Calmes (3.75 stars) (contemporary)

In Search of a Story by Andrew Grey (3.25 stars) (contemporary)

When Dachshunds Ruled the Serengeti by Michael Murphy (3.75 stars) (contemporary)

2 to 2.75 Star Rating:

The Caveman and the Devil by Chris T. Kat (2.75 stars)(contemporary)

The Jouster’s Lance by A.J. Marcus (2.75 stars) (contemporary)

Review: The Caveman and the Devil by Chris T. Kat

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Rating: 2.75 stars

The Caveman and the DevilZoologists Paul and Noah were brought together by their love of animals and their jobs at the Philadelphia Zoo.  But Paul is becoming fed up with Noah’s impulsive nature as well as what Paul sees as unprofessional and dangerous behavior from Noah around the animals he is taking care of – big cats.  Noah was a subject of an attack by a zoo jaguar in the past and hurt badly.  So Paul is fearful and shocked when Noah charges into a cage where a lioness is threatening her cubs.  Noah’s actions endanger not only his coworkers but the general public as well, something Noah will not acknowledge.

Paul is furious, their bosses horrified and Noah in danger of losing his job.  Frustrated and angry, Paul and Noah have to find a way back to each other while keeping their jobs intact as well as their relationship.  Can Noah understand the danger he put everyone in and can Paul find a way to understand the basis of Noah’s actions?  Only time will tell.

The Caveman and the Devil is a quick read at 80 pages and  quite honestly I am not sure if that hurts or helps the story.  What doesn’t help is that the media has reported the deaths of two zookeepers recently, one a volunteer, for the same issue that almost gets Noah injured and fired.  Almost from the beginning I found myself solidly on Paul’s side, thinking the story should have been called The Caveman and the Twit, not a reaction the author was going for, I am sure.  Here is an example of not only how they communicate (or don’t as it were) but also how clueless Noah is:

 “You are mad.” He wrinkled his nose as his searching gaze flitted over my face. He was clearly puzzled by my behavior. “Why?”

“Why? Why? Seriously? You’re seriously asking why I’m mad at you?”

“Yes, dear almighty Caveman, I’m seriously asking why you’re mad at me! I didn’t do anything wrong!”

Utterly baffled, I forgot all about what I was doing or what I had intended to do. I stared down at Noah, my lover, the man I’ve loved for almost a year now. Incredulous, I croaked, “You didn’t do anything wrong today? Is that right?”

The light bulb slowly went on for Noah. Of course, he immediately lunged into defense mode. “I just wanted to get the cubs out of there!”

“You went into Kiara’s compartment without waiting for the inner door to be locked! She had just killed two of her cubs and was in the process of killing the other two!”

“She had walked into the other compartment!” Noah protested.

“But the separating door wasn’t closed yet!” I shouted, eventually losing the fight with my emotions.

“Trent locked the door right after I was inside.”

“Yes, and she came back and jumped against it, roaring. What if Trent hadn’t managed to lure her away?” “

But he did. Don’t be such a nitpicker all the time.”

I could hardly breathe.

Paul later goes on to think that he would have fired Noah based on this incidence and he would have been correct.  Anyone who has worked with animals would be aghast at such carelessness and disregard for regulations.  So I am amazed that Kat would have written this character with these personality traits and expect the reader to identify with him.  Noah “wrinkles his nose” in puzzlement.  Is that supposed to be adorable while his boyfriend is confronting him about his behavior?  Not so much.  Nor is his bemusement over Paul’s anger and reaction to his actions.  The characters then go on to have massive amounts of sex, makeup and otherwise but settle nothing between them.  Lots of shouting, lots of sex, and not much else, including story.

Another puzzling element is that Paul and Noah are two characters first introduced in a story called Cuddling Up in the Animal Magnetism anthology.  I mentioned there that the author seemed to know her zoo protocol, and the same applied here.  So why is Noah constantly flouting the rules and regulations of the zoo they both work for.  In Cuddling Up,  Noah exclaimed that the cat he was in the inclosure with “would never hurt him”,  an inherently false idea that I left fly at the time because it was a short story.  But here the incidence is much worse, Noah’s reactions more painfully obtuse and only Paul realizes the ramifications.  The question remains as to why an author would have a character negate the research that makes the story realistic and then want us to accept that character as an authentic zookeeper?  What was barely acceptable in an anthology shouldn’t work in a longer story.  And it doesn’t.

What makes this tale enjoyable are the main characters inactions with two lion cubs.  Those sections prove to be the story’s saving grace because who doesn’t love lion cubs?  Those also reveal the strongest parts of Paul and Noah’s relationship.  But when the story takes to the bed or back to the zookeepers office, then it falls apart.  Paul hedges and muddies the account of the actual events of Noah charging into the cage, there is a batty and bigoted media director, and it all just falls to pieces.  Paul is an authoritative and dominating character, hence the Caveman appellation.  In fact that is Noah’s term of endearment for him.  So obviously, the Devil is Noah.  Tasmanian Devil  that is, spinning constantly around, upsetting everything in its path, dangerous and impulsive. Just the person you want as a coworker and partner, right?

I just remain puzzled over Paul and Noah’s relationship as written by Kat.  To me it seems dysfunctional, lacking in communication.  I realize that this is supposed to be a fluffy story but I guess too many issues that circle around Noah kept it from being enjoyable outside of lion babies.

I silenced Noah’s cry of protest by laying a finger on his lips. “That is, if I can convince the zoo management not to fire you.” Loosening my embrace, I turned Noah around. He stared up at me from large, frightened gray-green eyes. Water trickled down his pale face in small rivulets as the impact of my words hit home.

“They won’t do that, right? Fire me, I mean? I rescued those two cubs!” His voice rose.

“Noah, any of us could have saved these two cubs after the compartment door was closed,” I said. I was doing my best to be gentle and understanding, but at some point, he would have to accept the truth. His behavior hadn’t only been unprofessional but also irresponsible and extremely dangerous. I wondered if the management would give Noah another chance. If I was honest with myself, I wouldn’t.

By this time, I find myself nodding in total agreement, thinking fire Noah, and move on.  Oh well, I liked the lion cubs and Paul. But for the rest of the story, I give it a pass.  I haven’t read any of this author’s longer stories, and I consider this one is only for those of you who are die hard Chris T. Kat fans.

Cover art by Paul Richmond is the best thing about this book.

Book details:

ebook, 80 pages
Published May 1st 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1623803314 (ISBN13: 9781623803315)
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com

It’s Gay Pride Month and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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Its Gay Pride Month, a great time to celebrate and give back to the community. Washington, DC’s Capital Pride is coming up this week and culminates in the Capital Pride Parade on Saturday, June 8 and the Capital Pride Street Festival on Sunday, June 9.  If you live in or around the metro area,  there is something for everyone to enjoy.  I mean how could you not want to dress up as a super hero and attend SPANDEX: The Official 2013 Pride Week Superhero Party on Friday, June 7?   Plus the parade on Saturday travels through Dupont Circle, a historically gay neighborhood.  I worked there in the 80’s, and believe me, that place had gay pride before Gay Pride.  Here are the links to the events and places to purchase tickets:capital-pride-superhero-banner

Capital Pride 365

Gay.com – Capital Pride

If you are in the area and taking pictures at the events, send them to me and I will post them here.  And for those of you in other places, send me the dates and info and I will post that as well.

There are also many organizations that help LGBTQ youth  from Promise Place on the DC/Prince Georges County line to The Wanda Alston House in Washington, DC.  Or perhaps the Ali Forney Center in NYC or The Albert Kennedy Trust in the UK.  A favorite organization of mine is The Matthew Shepard Foundation founded by Matthew Shepard’s mother, Judy Shepard. If you haven’t visited that site before, please do so.  It’s both heartbreaking and immensely uplifting to see what has emerged from such a horrific tragedy.

There are not enough shelters and organizations to go around for all of those children and teens in need and those that exist really need our support in every way possible.  One easy way is to buy ebooks.  Several authors and one terrific editor, Kris Jacen, have contributed their royalties from several novels.  S.J. Frost  and Kris Jacen with Finding A Dream, Sue Brown’s The Sky Is Dead, and Lost and Found Anthology (Kris Jacen), whose  entire royalties will be sent to Lost-n-Found Youth, Inc.  And these are only the most recent.  Enjoy a good book and give at the same time.  It’s easy, its enjoyable, and it is needed.

So have a great week.  Celebrate, dance, and make time to read a book or two!  Oh, and check out the cocktail recipe at the end. Here is the week ahead in reviews:

Monday, June 3:                  Outlast The Night by Ariel Tachna

Tuesday, June 4:                  Flawless by Cat Grant

Wed, June 5:                         The Caveman and the Devil by Chris T. Kat

Thursday, June 6:                The Jouster’s Lance by A.J. Marcus

Friday, June 7:                     Stonewall by Martin Duberman

Saturday, June 8:                 Prelude by Shira Anthony and Venona Keyes

Here is a specialty cocktail recipe just for Gay Pride (shakes head, you really went there, didn’t you).  It came from Alex’s Cocktail Recipes

Gay Pride Cocktail:

1 shot Apple sourz
1 shot blueberry sourz
1 shot cranberry juice
2 shots 5 alive
pop rocks
Instructions

Put the cranberry juice and 5 alive into a tumbler. Pour the sourz into shaker over ice and shake well. Pour into tumbler and add a pink umbrella, then sprinkle with pop rocks

“A womanly drink, it won’t get you drunk but drink it wearing hotpants for the ultimate sense of gay satisfaction.”  Alex also has links for other drinks, none of which I can print here.  Visit his site for more information.