I'm an avid reader and reviewer of romance books, especially m-m and erotica. You can find me on http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4669232-baba-marcus-tyler-tate-dan-ty-hunter
4.5 stars. Review completed March 20, 2014
A few years ago Steve quite literally ditched his abusive Master's shackles and fled to England. Now he's back in Australia to claim the life and property he had to leave behind and attends a charitable fundraiser impersonating Stevie Nicks. Good ole Steve is quite…er…busy that evening.
"I thought this was a c@ck-sucking contest, not bobbing for apples in a bloody barrel."
Sorry, no c@ck just an apple...
Steve is relieved to not run across his former lover but it so happens that another Master crosses his path. Master D. At first sight there's no love lost between them but that's about to change when they start to work together to untangle their past.
This book…oh, where to start? Don wears a ridiculous moustache for crying out loud! (view spoiler) Lol Back to being serious, though. There is so much to love about L+L. However, what clearly stands out for me personally is the unconventional resolution of L+L. It took me by surprise and it wasn’t something I’m used to encounter in BDSM romance books. Big, big, big thumbs up from moi! Also, there was plenty of room for character and story development which I always appreciate very much. There's actually not a lot of smexin' in this story. The author’s storytelling skills are of high quality and very engaging. While Leather+Lace was my first read by A.B. Gayle, I’m very sure it won’t be my last.
They say (view spoiler) Mine seemed to be on a time delay.
Leather and Lace -- Stevie Nicks and Don Henley
Steve aka Stevie Tricks
Despite Steve being into drag I bonded very easily with him. I liked the prickly Steve who dished out smart-ass remarks and was hiding his true self behind an armor of humor to divert from his insecurity, vulnerability and fear. The more (view spoiler)The physical scars, proof of the abuse he suffered from his former Master Julius, will never go away but what about Steve’s mental scars? Did the therapist take care of those? The psychological aspect of L+L and the way the author dealt with all the resulting issues which, ultimately, led to that thoughtful resolution were convincing and felt like the real deal to me. The outcome almost tempted me to give this book five stars. Almost.
What a beautiful and thoughtful analogy. Love it.
Don was pretty ripped but he wasn’t a gorgeously tall or handsome man yet I adored him nonetheless. It’s actually true, what’s most important about a human being comes from the inside. Personality, charisma whatever you want to call it and Don had exactly that in spades. In fact, Don represents more than dominance, whips and chains. He’s an empathic and caring man; very level-headed and smart. Don helped Steve to obliterate the frightening thoughts of his past and regain his confidence. Step by step he encouraged him in a subtle way to confront specific situations that triggered bad memories and he accomplished to extend Steve’s limitations. He never put any pressure on Steve. No claims, no demands. And Don showed Steve that not all Masters are abusive pigs like Julius. Ultimately this was not only about trust, it was about a mutual respect and treating each other as equals. Respecting the man behind the slave. Respecting his thoughts, needs, wants as well as his boundaries. I always like to see a man’s vulnerable side and Master D sure had to deal with a couple demons of his own. When (view spoiler) Due to his feelings of inadequacy, which a good Master can’t afford to have, he isn’t sure if he’s ready to accept and embrace the role of a Master again.
Just when I was admiring Don’s prudence…
(view spoiler) Aside from that faux-pas he handled every situation carefully and he made well-considered decisions.
(view spoiler) Don had captured my body, my heart, and my soul.
Under the direction of Don, an accumulation of many natural momentums of the water carried Steve back to the shore; his feet found purchase on solid, nurturing and trustworthy ground.
Leather+Lace can be read as a standalone.
Especially recommended to (M/M) BDSM novices but also seasoned M/M readers should give it a shot.
If you'd like to read the spoilers then check out the GR link below.
1 star. DNF at 70 %. Review completed March 17, 2014
I think there is a thin line between good humor and sinking into the depths of ridiculousness. Certain sentences in South Row are slightly, only slightly, reminiscent of Charlotte Stein's Addicted which I didn't enjoy at all. There wasn't anything remotely funny about South Row. Not even South acting as an awkward and simple-minded klutz could elicit a laugh out of me. Besides, trying so hard to come across as hilarious missed the mark completely, at least for me. If anything, it felt contrived and unbelievable. At no time was I ever able to connect with the characters, all of whom I found unlikable, shallow and silly. Plus, I didn't care for the plot or the added drama and don't get me started on the cheese factor. SapsVille said to say hello. While the waterworks were flowing very generously, not once was I close to crying myself. To be honest, this story provided one major eye rolling moment after another.
I said it before and I will say it again. I don't want to read over and over again how hunky all those men (especially the hero) are; and I don't need to read over and over again how beautiful the heroine is. Don't get me wrong. It's fine by me that we have two very attractive main protagonists but it makes the writing very repetitive when I'm confronted with their physical merits all. The. Time. Also, I was ready to lend poor Collin a towel, just so he could soak up all the wetness between South's thighs. Boy, one could think they were jumping each other's bones at all times but you couldn't be more wrong. I quit at 70 % and they hadn't even done the deed yet. And no, I didn't throw in the towel due to lack of smexin' or anything. I just couldn't stand the characters and didn't appreciate the writing style and plot, so I gave up.
Well, we've had creaming and rippling pussies and coochies that do flips of joy, clenching lady bits, tightening and pebbling nipples and peaks and strained breasts, coated panties (and more coated/soaked panties), pulsing and throbbing dicks. Then there was lust and more lust. And let's not forget all the chuckling, chuckling, chuckling, growling, snarling, groaning, giggling, winking and gasping. Oh, the gasps…*Baba gasps* The heroine can stomp her foot like a pouting toddler. Besides, South does the transformation from being a shy and inexperienced semi-virgin girl to an annoying bitch in the blink of an eye. Astounding. I think she's definitely not a woman who should represent our female population. To be very straightforward, I would call her a juvenile twat. And what was up with that so-called hero? When I quit at 70 % (view spoiler) But it's all right to act like a hypocritical jerk. What an ass. What I found mighty unrealistic was the fact that South hadn't (view spoiler) Uh-huh. Seriously? And then when they were face to face again, Collin was on fire for little South in a heartbeat and vice versa. I mean she stole his money and vanished into thin air out of the blue. For ten years he heard nothing, nada, zilch from her and yet they acted like starstruck teenagers. Hey, no biggie, you can't blame neither of them except their short-circuited brains. And last but not least I was irritated by their never ending trivial inner monologues.
Another problem was…
…because it wasn't engaging. Thanks, Lenore, for letting me borrow your gif. :)
Quotes to your perusal:
"Oh, God, I'm gonna burst a blood vessel in my coochie if you don't fuck me soon. Jesus…"
He is trying his hardest not to look down at my chest, but I want him to. I want him to see my boobies. I've grown into them. They're nice and supple, fucking juicy. I don't have kid boobs anymore.
"I don't have kid boobs anymore," I blurt out…because I have no fucking filter. Oh, my God! Shut up, twatwaffle!
My coochie flips in excitement, clapping her hands together and screaming like an excited Valley girl. Oh, my gawd, I want him!
Taking things a step further, I shove my hands underneath Collin's shirt and place them on his hot body. He's blazing. No, seriously, he's on fire. Argh! Not like that. I mean, yeah, he's got a hot body, but that's not what I'm talking about here.
"Collin, are you sick? You're burning up." I break away from the kiss with concern.
South, I think your brain cells are fried.
And boy, what a kiss! It makes my toes curl, my head spin, my tummy flutter, my panties wet. All tension seems to vanish with his lips on mine like this. I am putty in his hands. Like the strings of a guitar, he plucks me just the right way to get beautiful music. In this kiss, he owns me.
Quickly, I strip my tee over my head. I don't know about him, but I mean business. Insert slot A into slot B type business. He does the same, so I guess we mean the same type of business; but…wow.
Her panties are utterly soaked, you would think she sat in water or peed herself. The heady scent of her arousal fries the remaining synapses in my brain and I snap.
But all she does is shiver, widens her legs and grips my hair firmer as she presses me closer to where she wants me most…all while still yapping.
Baba: I don't yap. *pets doggie South*
"I'm just saying; I might be a little tight down there.(Baba: where have I heard that one before? Hmm…my Inner Goddess does a flip-flop. Not.) Maybe not as impenetrable as Guantanamo Bay, but tight like Fort Knox, you know? (view spoiler)
South Row is a (I quote) comedic romance. After having read a rather serious book, I thought it might be a good idea to check out something lighter, funnier. Frankly, I do enjoy humorous books and I particularly love the kind of humor of the following books:
Shaking the Sugar Tree
It saddens me to say that South Row didn't accomplish to make it on my list of best humorous books. It wasn't my cup of tea kind of humor.
**Review at request of author, Ghiselle St. James**
3.5 stars. Review posted March 16, 2014
"I am in your summers."
While Our Last Summer is a pretty impressive debut, it doesn't measure up to Matthew's Vivaldi in the Dark series. Our Last Summer was a tough one to rate. At times I felt like I was engulfed by a yoyo-effect. The beginning was promising and then it kinda fizzled out; it picked up again only to test my patience once again. The story shined the most during the last 30 %. At that point I felt totally invested in the characters as well as the plot and there was something going on. Simply put, the story was really compelling for the first time.
It was hard for me to connect with Alex who was a very closed-off and taciturn loner unlike Ryan who was more responsive. Also, it was difficult to deal with Alex's indifference (view spoiler) I caught myself telling him secretly to do something already!
Pretty much when I made do with It was good but… Matthew pulled something emotive out of his hat that proved how talented he is when he puts pen to paper.
"I am part of your summers," Alex says. "I'm part of this world, out here, in the middle of nowhere, with the sun and midnight wanderings and little secrets that don't mean anything. I'm not part of that world: of your autumn or winter or spring. I'm not there."
Passenger -- Hearts on Fire (with Ed Sheeran)
If you are a fan of Matt's writing then I recommend you to read Our Last Summer.
If you'd like to read the spoilers then check out the GR link below.
DNF at 29 %. No rating.
"I understand why you didn't tell me initially. I need you to be honest. Even if that's just you saying you can't do something. That something affected you negatively."
Harry snorted. "Shall I pick a safeword next?"
I started reading this book a couple weeks ago and had to put it down because it didn't grab me. I gave it another try but realized I just couldn't connect with the characters. Fact is there wasn't any chemistry between Harry, December and me. It's better to bow to the inevitable instead of dragging myself through the whole story at snail's pace.
**ARC courtesy of Painted Sky Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
All quotes are taken from the pre-published copy and may be altered or omitted in the final copy.
3 stars. Review posted March 12, 2014
Me before reading Ball & Chain…
Me after reading Ball & Chain…(I'm talking about my frame of mind) *Baba raises eyebrows*
“I don’t know who the fuck to trust out here. I’m at the ‘shoot first and feel bad later’ stage.”
Shoot! I feel bad for saying this installment didn’t wow me at all. I enjoyed certain parts of it, however, I have more than a couple complaints. It’s more pleasant to begin with the stuff I enjoyed. So let me cut right to the chase of the matter.
The (view spoiler) lovey dovey mayhem right at the beginning of Ball & Chain was great! It gave me the warm fuzzies. <333
I also loved a lot of the scenes between Ty & Zane and Nick & Kelly, i.e. Ty & Zane (view spoiler) On the other hand, I was wondering if it’s realistic that Ty (view spoiler) Oh well, that’s Ty, right? I don’t really complain because I enjoyed the (view spoiler)very much, yet it’s just a (justified?) observation. As expected the smexin’ was hot and I loved all their good-natured bickering. I got some good laughs out of it, for sure.
My favorite quotes:
“Scotland?” Zane echoed, perking up. “Does that mean Ty has to wear a kilt?” I wish!
“You’re the only person I’ve ever been with who made me want to try things like that.”
“I mean that all the experiences I’ve ever heard of in life…I want to have them with you.”
Chester began to cackle at the end of the table.
“I’m the only Grady who didn’t get lucky last night!”
Nick dropped his fork and put his hand over his eyes.
Chester grabbed his arm and shook him. “You want to bang something too, sonny, you can borrow my shovel!”
“Tyler, come on!”
“This is police brutality!”
Now let me address the not so good stuff.
The way (view spoiler) I was hoping that a part of book 8 would be set in the Middle East. Stupid me, that’s just wishful thinking. Why would something like that happen when we don’t even get to see how the guys in Ball & Chain have been murdered? There’s talk about how awful it was and all that but it’s actually rather harmless coz the guys are dead already when we are confronted with the gory details. And no, I’m not a blood-thirsty reader but it could have helped to enhance the plot, make it more…thrilling? That’s the crux of the matter, I didn’t particularly care about the mystery and plot. It was ‘meh’, somewhat messy and bland in my opinion. Besides, my interest petered out during the second half of the story because it wasn’t engaging. Also, I found it mighty convenient how every (view spoiler)
The frowning, scowling, winking, chuckling, smiling, laughing and giggling and raised eyebrows were all over the place. I guess it’s time for me to check in with my sons, they love to read cartoons on a daily basis. They could update me in that regard because I’m pretty sure cartoon characters frown and chuckle all the time with the occasional twack and boom thrown into. *Baba frowns and scrunches nose* BTW, Nick and Ty freaking out made me raise my eyebrows for once because that felt a bit stilted. Plus, some TSTL moments made me roll my eyes but that’s probably irrelevant. And dare I say that a few scenes bordered on being cheesy? Come to think of it, I’d say Ball & Chain escalated in a weep fest somewhere along the line.
We all know that everything has to come to an end. And even though the prospect of letting Ty & Zane ride drive into the sunset is upsetting and sad, it’s going to happen nonetheless in the next and final installment of the Cut & Run series. I think this story reads like a prolonged goodbye for Ty & Zane, but at the same time it’s also a transition to the Sidewinder series because Nick and Kelly acted as the second main couple in Ball & Chain. Since I enjoyed Shock & Awe (and Nick) very much, I’m excited to tackle Cross & Crown and I really hope that Abigail Roux will deliver a couple great and fresh stories.
All in all a decent enough read but it left me underwhelmed. In fact, Ball & Chain is my least favorite in the Cut & Run series.
„Unfuck your shit, Scotland!“
If you'd like to read my spoilers then check out the GR link below.
5 unapologetically candid stars. Review completed March 10, 2014
Wiley has long hair and a goatee. Even though he's not Jared he keeps popping up in my mind. :)
What Bill is trying to say is that the deaf boy should have a real man for a father," Papaw pointed out. "Someone who likes a good set of tits and knows how to scratch his balls, not someone who's going to teach him how to have sex with a chimpanzee."
"That's what your parents did, Papaw, and look how that turned out," I said.
"I reckon if you're a friend of Wiley's then you like rear deliveries. Am I right? Bend over, take it up the chuff? Ha!"
"It's like a massive onramp to the freeway of love," Papaw observed. "Fasten your seat belts! We're going in!"
"Every time a woman has a period, it's a spontaneous abortion because the egg didn't take," I said, undeterred. "Are we going to start having a funeral for every used tampon?"
"It's like they say: If you love Southern men, raise your glass. If you don't, raise your standards."
Papaw is the s@it! Oh my, he is a character. Both Papaw and Wiley have a wicked and mighty crude sense of humor.
"In a Northern fairy tale, you start off by saying: 'Once upon a time' and all that. In the South, we start off by saying: 'Y'all ain't going to believe this shit!'" I can't believe it but I LOVED this s@it!! I've got a crush on a book. *goofy grin on my face*
Wiley Cantrell is living in Tupelo, Mississippi. Statistically speaking, Wiley lives with his son in the (I quote) poorest state, the least educated, the fattest, the least healthy. Wiley is gay and he loves his deaf son Noah very much but he feels lonely. He would love to have a boyfriend in his life to talk to, someone who would make him laugh and of course he misses sex. He would like to feel desirable and wanted again. And being gay doesn't really help him to enjoy the benefits of society. As a gay man it's tough to find a job where he can make good money. In consequence, the 'failed' writer who depends on food stamps, can hardly make ends meet with his job at FoodWorld. While Wiley's financial situation is a long way off from being more burgeoning, his love life situation seems to be ready for a change when an attractive man in blue scrubs puts two cases of Dos Equis on Wiley's counter at FoodWorld. His name is Jackson Ledbetter. Wiley and Jackson (Jack) hit it off and the story takes it from there.
Shaking the Sugar Tree is thoughtful and thought-provoking and really amazing. The snarky dialogue made me laugh my ass off (Papaw, anyone?). On the other hand, it was an emotional ride that forced me to shed a few tears. However, the sad parts have been outweighed by the positive ones, all the happiness and joie de vivre, and I closed the book with a smile on my face.
The story doesn’t provide any hot smexin’ and it’s not particularly romantic either. It is, however, a difficult and sad yet funny and interesting story that gave me an insight into the lives of a Southern family and their environment. What’s more it’s a book about a gay dad who has to face the daily challenges of raising a special-needs child—a meth baby with birth defects. Politics, religion, bigotry and gay rights are rather prominently displayed in Shaking the Sugar Tree. Also, the writing is unapologetically candid, even crude at times. If you are easily offended then I'm not sure if it's a book for you, but I gotta say you'll be missing out on something fabulously good. It's not a perfect book by any means. Regardless, when an author is able to make me feel such a wide range of emotions and keeps me glued to the pages from start to finish, then I'll be gladly giving out five stars.
Due to Noah's hearing loss he needs reassurance more than other kids. He’s insecure and anxious yet at the same time he's very curious, sociable and open-minded. Noah is a happy boy and very eager to make new friends and it pains him when he's rejected. Noah not only connects with his father and other people through sign language, he does it even more so through touch and he depends on facial expression as well. There's more than sign language, after all, and our body gives off lots of signs without being vocal. Wiley and Noah hugging, touching and having fun playing a game was beautiful to watch.
I'm not a US citizen and I'm certainly not familiar with your situation in the South. It’s possible that some readers will state it's yet another book that depicts stereotypes, but isn't it true that behind every stereotype is a grain of truth? I guess in this story there is way more than a modicum of truth to be found. Plus, the author is living in the south, and I assume he's familiar with his surroundings, the political situation, religious communities and gay rights. While the American Family Association (AFA), BaptistLand and the Republicans have had their come-uppance, Father Ginderbach was portrayed as a kind and open-minded man without prejudices. He was a priest who welcomed Wiley and his son with open arms and I really liked him very much.
Walking In Memphis by Marc Cohn
Despite his flaws, Wiley was a very likable character. He was sorry for the mistakes he made in his life prior to Noah’s birth and he was willing to shoulder a part of the responsibility and guilt. He changed his ways and his son’s well-being was his priority. In fact, the affectionate relationship between Wiley and Noah was a personal highlight for me. This leads me to this train of thought: Straight parents being affectionate with their kid(s) are considered normal, and I don't get it why gay parents shouldn't do the same with their kid(s). Straight or gay, what counts most is being devoted and attentive to your children. You listen to them, you educate and protect them, so they can grow up and become human beings who will treat their fellow human beings with respect and kindness.
I was disappointed how (view spoiler)
Steam: What's that? Joking aside, there are no explicit sex scenes in Shaking the Sugar Tree.
The ‘romance’ between Wiley and Jack didn’t play the first fiddle. That’s why I was pondering for a long time what I should call this story, and then at some point, Wiley Cantrell took the words right out of my mouth. This is a love story between a father and his son. At the end of the day it doesn't matter that Wiley is gay and Noah is deaf and, as outcasts, have to struggle to fit in. It is what it is. A loving relationship between a father and his son.
Maybe things DO change in the South, I thought. Or maybe all we could do was change ourselves and hope the South would eventually catch up.
If you'd like to read my spoiler then check out the GR link below.
2 stars. 1 one star for the story and characters and one extra star for the lyrics. It was the only thing that I actually enjoyed about this novella.
The question mark is justified because it was bloody awful sex. I really need more than the use and mention of cock and pussy to feel anything close to excitement.
Yes, I read the warning. It contains strong language, sex and references to drug use. I didn't mind the strong language and I would have enjoyed the sex if it had been great. The drug use…that's another story. I guess it depends on several factors. While drugs are a definite no go for me, I can deal with it in a story but it depends on the protagonists, on condition that I can connect with them. Plus, I need an explanation why they are users and I'd like to see them going into rehab. In consequence, if I don't get a history I can't connect the dots. Granted, this is only a novella and there will be sequel in which, I assume, the reader will get more background information. But since this short story was such a turn-off already, I will be giving it a miss.
(…)Her arse is a thing of beauty, but it's those endless legs I need to see more of…Stripped bare. Wrapped. Around. Me. I mentally slap myself. What the hell am I thinking? I am truly fucking despicable. This is my best friend's ex that I'm having wholly inappropriate thoughts about. This is his funeral. (Baba: a f@ck in the church, why not? Of course I'm being sarcastic. And no, they didn't to the deed.) She's still wearing his jacket, which makes me think she's still his, and anyway, I made a promise. One I fully intend on keeping.
As mentioned above I really enjoyed the lyrics. The music, however, plays an incredibly minor role which I found very disappointing. Overall the story fell flat and the characters are as cold as a block of ice. They are focused on moping, getting wasted and f@cking everybody walking on two legs; drinking was more important than eating. In fact, they seem to need a fast and hard f@ck, drugs and booze more than air to breathe. Also, f@cking without protection is so dangerously thrilling. Yeah, as if. Honestly, I couldn’t care less. This story is riddled with shallow and pathetic f@ck ups. Let's not forget that we have yet another vilified step-mom. Considering the unlikable stepson, they deserve each other.
In consequence, Death of a Rock Star didn’t accomplish to evoke one little iota of emotion from me. You know some kind of romance is desirable but not a basic requirement to make me happy. However, something like this I will gladly return to Amazon for a refund of my money.
4 stars.****Review completed March 6, 2014
He wanted this, to stand under scalding hot spray and just hang on. Jayden hugged him like he'd never let go, and swayed them to imaginary music, and Darren was content to go with the flow, stroking water off Jayden's neck and shoulders and pressing lingering, open-mouthed kisses into wet skin as Jayden played with his hair. Eventually, Jayden found his mouth again and stole what little air remained in the tiny bathroom, letting Darren relearn the shape of his tongue and teeth and jaw, massaging both hands briefly into Darren's soaked curls before dropping one hand between them and pushing him back into the tiles.
He was bound to this: the swell and chorus of thirty, forty instruments in perfect harmony, and the terrible fall as the pitch plummeted. He was tied to the high, terrible shriek of lonely violins, and the deep boom of a threatening horn, like the tide rushing to claim the crying cliffs. His heart picked up, hammering in time to the crashes and bangs of waves on the shore, and his ear strained towards the low note, almost unheard under all the chaos, that whispered for calm in the eye of the storm.
The Devil's Trill Sonata is about making choices. Wrong and right choices. It's about friends. Fake and true friends. It's about influence and adjustment. How much do you bend to fit in? It's about distance. A distance that complicates love. At the same time, however, remoteness can strengthen the bond of love when you're willing to recognize and overcome the problems and barriers caused by a physical distance. This story is also about the scary simplicity of drifting back into darkness…
Guiseppe Tartini's Devil's Trill Sonata
The Devil's Trill Sonata is set three years after Vivaldi in the Dark ended. While Jayden is mighty excited to live his dream at Cambridge University, Darren seems to be a little less spurred. Jayden going to Cambridge means they will have to endure a physical separation for the next three years. Instead of taking the path to an academic career, Darren prefers a nine-to-five job. He's going to start training as a crime scene examiner in Southampton. Thus far Darren could always count on Jayden being there for him and with him whenever another bad day struck him. Will Darren be strong enough to weather out their separation or will his depression draw him in a black hole again?
"Jayden, I'm bisexual. What do you want me to do, become a hermit?"
"Hang out with lesbians," Jayden replied promptly.
"…I suppose I asked for that."
This installment begins innocent enough; from piano to a strong crescendo, so to speak. It's comparable to a faint drizzle that turns into rain pattering at your window and then slowly yet steadily the rain grows stronger until a dark storm threatens to drown you. I must repeat myself, Matthew has a neat way to brighten a 'dark' story with snarky banter and humor. Whilst reading The Devil's Trill Sonata I've had enough time to get used to the prospect of a painful climax because the laughter and fun join hands with the angst and drama. I think the build-up was very well done and considering the dark theme, a certain level of drama is a necessity and that's perfectly fine by me.
I don't want to nag but I have one major complaint. There were way too many words written in italic; it was pretty distracting. In my opinion authors should use it as sparingly as possible because the effect of italic type tends to get lost when overused. Just go by the rule less is more.
Both Jayden and Darren can rely once again on Jayden's loving and supportive parents as well as Darren's older half-brother. Of course the two jesters Ethan and Paul make more than a little cameo and a few other characters are introduced in this story. The Devil's Trill Sonata sucked me in right from the start and never let go. Sure, a couple scenes tested my level of frustration and I had to question the choices they made. *points finger at Jayden* Yet at the same time I had to cut the guys some slack considering how very young they are. Engaging writing and storytelling and an interesting cast of characters made for a very good and satisfying reading experience. All in all an emotional ride that dealt with plenty of uncertainties. A story also that might tug at your heartstrings in the end, and I'm looking forward to reading Jayden and Darren's story arc in Rhapsody on a Theme which should be released coming May.
Steam: very low but sex is overrated anyway. Still, I'd love to read an erotic romance novel written by the talented Matthew J. Metzger because I'm convinced he'd deliver. Whatever he'll decide to write in the future, I feel confident that we can expect great things from Matthew. He's definitely an author to watch out for.
2.5 stars. Review completed March 4, 2014
"Shostakovich wrote the symphony when things were pretty rough for him… The dissonances are all about that. Suffering."
Shostakovich -- Symphony No. 5
Let's not beat around the bush. I suffered through Encore because frustration paved the way through the entire plot. I'm fine dealing with problems (emphasis on dealing), not running away and leaving people frustrated and angry. Urgh. I've enjoyed Shira Anthony's books in the past and I've had pretty high hopes that I would like Encore as well. My rating does by no means reflect the quality of the author's writing. In fact, the writing was good as expected but my low rating reflects my feelings and of those, I assure you, I've had enough. Unfortunately, they belong to the annoys-the-heck-outta-me category.
Let me arrange a nice bouquet of flowers irritating issues:
LACK OF COMMUNICATION. LACK OF COMMUNICATION. LACK OF COMMUNICATION. It feels like a mantra and one that gets old fast. I caught myself soliloquizing numerous times while reading Encore. Yeah, Baba, encore une fois parce que ce n'est jamais assez. It was like an effin' and unwanted encore all the time. BTW, the let's-be-honest-with-each-other conversation took place at (view spoiler) Not even the well internalized phrase Better late than never could really placate my agitated state of mind. Granted, I did like the final 15 % and yet the book was beyond saving for me. That ship had sailed, so to speak. Besides, Encore is not your common romance book because the main protagonists spend a huge majority of the plot apart from each other and that didn't sit all too well with me either.
I'm fine. It's not your fault. You didn't do anything wrong. Blah, blah blah. Just…please, talk already and come clean for $*+!?!!£^!!?=&% sake!
Did I say they did not talk about things that bothered them?
I can imagine it must have been tough being queer in the 70s, and I do understand that Roger was afraid of being openly gay but he couldn't even admit it when he was alone with John. Also, even as a grown man when he didn't depend on his parents' financial support anymore, Roger did not have enough backbone to come out to his parents. It's all Miranda here and Miranda there (Roger's mom). He was under her thumb and it was not reasonable. Yeah, let's keep mommy happy, shall we. Although when Roger turned (view spoiler) Sorry but that was too late.
Roger was responsible (view spoiler) of assuming responsibility and acknowledging that he was guilty, he wallowed in misery and self-pity. He felt sorry for himself FOR YEARS because he couldn't (view spoiler)
And then there was this situation in New York. Roger and John were lovers for four years and during the time in New York Roger had a hard time supporting John and his dreams. Due to Roger's weak psyche he (view spoiler) Wow. Unbelievable. This must be love. No, scratch that, they're (view spoiler) That's the stuff that dreams are made of. Not. Thinking back about all those "special" moments makes my anger flare up again. Well, and when Roger FINALLY (view spoiler) Oh my, Baba calm down and take a deep breath.
Both of them were very jealous...
It's quite telling that my favorite scene of Encore was when Roger (view spoiler) Alex Bishop, hero of Prelude. In fact, both main characters of Prelude make a cameo in Encore. I've read three books by Shira Anthony and Prelude is still my favorite.
Schubert -- Fantasy in F minor D.940 (part 1)
Well, Mr. Schubert, are you going to sit there watching me play half the piece, or are you going to join me?"
"I thought you said my piano playing was deficient," Roger said as he sat to John's left on the bench.
"You could convince me otherwise." John's eyes sparkled in obvious challenge.
I love a good coming-of-age story and the premise of Encore did sound promising. It is very unfortunate, however, that certain plot twists and the MCs didn't really do it for me. Regardless, I hope you'll enjoy it more than I did.
"God. I've missed you so damn much." Like a fucking hole in my heart. My life.
If you'd like to read my spoilers then check out the GR link below.
3.5 stars.***Review posted February 28, 2014
We have a hot (disabled) hunk who's a Chris Hemsworth look-alike…
…and a geek who's a splendid inventor, engineer as well as a great cook.
…thank you, Sam. :)
I'm not in the mood to write extensive reviews, so this is going to be short.
I loved the beginning; it started off strong but somewhere along the line it lost its sparkle and irresistibility. The story truly lacked any real conflicts or tension. Despite Christian being a disabled hunk, the characters seemed to be a little bit too perfect and everything happened a little bit too easily for my taste. Also, if I encountered a minor problem it was resolved quickly with a nice little bow, sort of. Don't get me wrong. I really enjoyed it otherwise I wouldn't have rated it with 3.5 stars. Apart from my issues, this is an entertaining and solid read that provided very likable characters and enough good dialogue to hold my attention. I have to look at it for what it was: a light and fun read for in between.
I'd like to take this opportunity to point out what a talented author S.A. McAuley is. I think we can expect great things from her in the future. Please check out:
Someday It Will Be
This is What a Cold Lake Looks Like
An Immoveable Solitude
If you've read them already then you know what I'm talking about. Sam deserves the praise.
3.5 stars.***Review posted February 27, 2014
Year 2546…The Borders War had waged for three hundred years and had wiped four hundred million people from the planet.
At the end of One Breath One Bullet you’ll find an index that contains a timeline of the Borders War, a detailed list of the characters and most importantly a glossary. I honestly wish I had known about it and read that first because it would have facilitated my understanding of the plot and setting. While I’ve read and enjoyed dystopian books in the past, One Breath One Bullet was not always easy to grasp. This was some sort of “hardcore” dystopian for me and it took some getting used to. Regardless, it’s a good and interesting story and I already read the sequel. The third book is due out in March 2014.
I loved the main protagonists’ names. Merq Grayson and Armise Darcan do sound predatory, adventurous and mighty cool. I would have liked to get more background information about Merq and Armise, though, because it felt very impersonal. On the other hand, they live in an impersonal, cold and sparse world. Feelings are not welcome. In consequence, you shouldn’t expect anything romantic about their “relationship”. If anything, their encounters are rather violent, fierce and intense yet it suited their characters and environment. Also, I struggled a bit to adjust to the timeframe switches.
Merq and Armise have a complicated connection and that's putting it mildly…
It was as simple as undeniable attraction. As complicated as an instinctual tether that should have been too theoretical and hokey for either of us to believe in, but that neither of us seemed to be able to free ourselves from. It was as base as the primal force of having your release gripped with a firm, commanding hand that straddled the line of agony, urgency and necessity. As existential as our one desperate claim to freedom in a life that was predetermined, years in advance, by men in uniforms who would never see the real-life implications of the orders they gave.
Armise and I, in another world and another time, might have been inevitable. Inseparable. I just couldn't imagine what that would even entail.
One Breath One Bullet is more about the world building, the history of the Borders War, the ominous infochip and how Merq and Armise met; there’s hardly any relationship build-up. In this first book Merq and Armise are more foes than friends, let alone lovers. One of my friends said it reminded her of a post-apocalyptic Special Forces and I tend to agree with her. I admire Sam’s writing and One Breath One Bullet shows what a wide range of writing skills she has to offer.
Overall an intriguing read that provided an alternative (and scary) concept of our future world. I liked it but I expect the sequel, Dominant Predator, to be better. I'm done with book 2 and it was better. If you’re a fan of somewhat dark and gritty dystopian stories, then I recommend you to give this series a try.
2 stars.**Review completed February 26, 2014
I need to find…
…that hype gene.
Yes, I did enjoy hyped books in the past but more often than not I feel odd for not liking them. I would love to say…
…instead I end up like this…
…highly consternated. It sucks. Adding a book to my TBR pile is like playing the lottery.
Reading is a subjective experience. Even though we’ve read the same book, it happens all the time that we have a different reading experience. That’s the reason why we’re here on GR; to share our different point of views. I’m sorry to say that I’m swimming against the tide because Broken Pieces didn’t wow me. I think this story was supposed to be a tearjerker and I must admit that I cry very easily. BUT. Unfortunately, I wasn’t even close to tears whilst reading Broken Pieces. The author failed to engage me emotionally. I was turned off by:
a) The cheesy drama.
b) The constant puking or Mateo’s urge to vomit (Puky Mateo/Teo).
I recommend you this drug, Mateo. It's known to be very well tolerated. In fact, my two boys could confirm my statement.
c) The writing style.
d) The characters in general.
e) The weak Josiah and his antics, mainly after the Mateo drama. Between the age of 18 and 23 Josiah was living like he’d been dead. I could understand the no smexin part but not going out and having fun from time to time and not making any friends either and staying in his little hole of an apartment is by no stretch of the imagination relatable. I was like “Grow a pair already!” Geez. And then some inconsistencies irritated me. Josiah shaved his hair off because Teo loved it so much. Also, he didn’t go to college to defy Teo’s wish (before he met Tris) and yet he kept the chess piece and went to the beach to feed the birds. What gives? Either you really draw a line, leave everything behind and start a new life or you can drown in self-pity and “obey” his wishes. I found his behavior contradictory.
f) The repetitiveness: “I’m weak”, “I need to protect him”, the over usage of dios, dios…did I say dios, sexy and beautiful and Tristan’s pulse quirk. More than enough is too much.
g) The unerotic smexin; some of it was downright awkward.
h) The ménage scene came out of the blue; there was no build-up whatsoever. For nine years there was no sign of life from Mateo and then suddenly he’s back and they pick up where they left off. Nine years is a darn long time and people change and don’t forget when the separation happened they were teenagers. And what about Mateo’s prison time? I’m pretty sure that Swiss prisons are a walk in the park compared to yours in the States. Teo didn’t seem affected by it which is not realistic because incarceration should have left its mark on him. Besides, let’s not forget the fact that Josiah was hurt and angry. Maybe you can understand why I had my issues how the threesome happened. It was not realistic. Yet they jumped each other’s bones effortlessly even though they didn’t have any serious talk first because it’s all about “You deserve it” and “WE deserve it”. I. Just. Did. Not. Buy. It. Er…by the way, nobody "deserved it.” And let’s get real here. A relationship between two human beings where you must meet so many different needs is a daily challenge already, but we’re talking about THREE guys here. No biggie, though, they found common ground in no time flat and all the broken pieces fit so nicely and perfectly. It worked out way too easy considering there should have been so much conflict potential. I’m sorry to say it but some sappy dialogue delivered with a nice little bow is not good enough for me.
i) Too much smexin once the three were (finally) together. Not sure WHY I felt it was too much…maybe because I wasn’t turned on by it…?
j) Tristan’s mom was absolutely incoherent and confused when Mateo found her in the streets. However, shortly afterward at the emergency room she glanced at Tristan only once and recognized him immediately and was able to speak coherently. Uh-huh. Then still at the hospital the talk with Tristan. I must say that was some mighty odd plan of hers and I cannot relate to her train of thought. She said she had to overcome her problems. And even though she acted like she was agoraphobic for ages, she left the house based on her sudden desire to live and got lost. And then what? She suffered from an unexpected episode of dementia? She got depressed? She freaked out? She was in shock? Er…I’d rather not comment.
k) The super duper sappy ending including that healing fuck. For the first time I was close to throwing up myself.
It's safe to say that Broken Pieces wasn't my cup of tea. Hence, I won't be reading the sequel.
Review completed February 25, 2014. Probably the best three-star book I've ever read. I loved it. And I hated it.
As much as I want to marginalize the bad to let the beauty shine in all its brilliance, I just can't do that. It wouldn't be fair because I want to stay true to myself. My rating simply reflects my conflicted feelings.
Barber's Adagio for Strings:
All around me the ocean swayed gently, the sun shone brightly and the world was falling apart.
I was falling apart.
Sky lanterns. Letting go of their troubles...
The two of us were intertwined in ways I didn't know how to unravel, even if I wanted to.
Adele's Rolling in the Deep
The scars of your love remind me of us
They keep me thinking that we almost had it all
The scars of your love they leave me breathless
I can't help feeling
We could have had it all
Rolling in the deep
You had my heart inside of your hand
And you played it
To the beat
Think of me in the depths of your despair
Making a home down there
It reminds you of the home we shared
Maybe I can compare the lyrics to a deep, passionate love as well as a deep and searing pain caused by betrayal and despair. The depths of the endless and dark sea, a man or a ship rolling in the waves of the ocean; the sea luring him into its depths. An Immoveable Solitude and Rolling in the Deep form quite a nice symbiosis.
In a nutshell
After having lost his dive shop and the man who meant the world to him, Hash decides to accept Kelle's offer to work as a co-captain on a private yacht. Hash feels betrayed, rejected and misunderstood. He's got a tough time to get over his ex-lover and spends a lot of time out on the sea, far away from South Africa and he tries to lose himself in casual hook-ups. Yet it's not the cure against all the pain, anger and anguish. When they arrive in Fiji's capital, Hash comes face to face with his former lover. Three years ago Kiernan simply vanished without a trace and left Hash groping in the dark. Why did he leave and will they have a second chance at love?
What I loved
The writing is intensely beautiful and I love the author's 'voice'. I think her narrative skill is excellent. Also, I really enjoyed the magnificent setting. The author has a wonderful talent to convey the mystery, the silence and the infinite vastness of the sea in a way that could almost tempt me to go diving myself. And I'm a self-professed non-swimmer. Hash's love for the sea and the sharks could be considered as poetry. I loved Hash (Erik). Despite him being kinda needy, too weak and a hothead to boot I still fell for him. That he looked like a gorgeously hunky, long-haired, blond surfer dude didn't hurt either. Besides, I really liked his soft and vulnerable side and he blushed so nicely. He's able of conveying great empathy, compassion and love for those who are dear to him. I felt the main protagonists communicated best when they had sex and I gotta say the passionate and well-written smexin' was something that could inflame me as well. There were lots of unspoken emotions conveyed through their erotic encounters which can be positive as well as negative.
What I disliked (hate might be too strong of a word)
There was not enough (vocal) dialogue between the MCs and there was clearly too much crying for my taste. Kiernan (Kerry) ruined the book for me. Did I say that I hated disliked him? Did I? He may be unemotional, calm and introverted for all I care, I just wanted him to talk to Hash. Kiernan was a selfish, egotistical and thoughtless bastard and I didn't accept the lame excuse that he was apparently too young. If he'd had any backbone and brains he would have come clean to Hash. I didn't appreciate the strange plot twists, the reasons behind his leaving Hash. WTF?(view spoiler) And what the heck was up with that f@cking (view spoiler) A divine intervention? What for? Sure, the descriptions felt real; all the pain and anguish ripped through me as if I had been there myself. Still, I can't help and feel manipulated. Should that have made me like Kiernan more? Should I have forgiven him? To this day I do not like him.
Overall An Immoveable Solitude made my heart ache. Numerous times. It ripped me apart and I had to put the pieces back together. I closed the book with many conflicted feelings and to be very honest, I felt quite often as if I should manhandle my Kindle. Regardless, S.A. McAuley is a very gifted and talented author and I'm looking forward to reading more from her.
Recommended read. Yes, I do recommend it because there's a lot to love about it and I hope that the myriad of emotions will sweep you off your feet. On the other hand, chances are the anger, pain, frustration and some inexplicable deeds will choke you and bring a hurtful mess in its wake. It's all about CONFLICTION. Despite my average rating, it's actually the first three-star story that I would read again in a heartbeat because at its core it's a beautiful book.
I should have asked for a shorter chain.
Oh, let's not conjure up any connotations now. Of those I've had too many already.
P.S. Just a fleeting thought…a chain to (view spoiler) :)
If you'd like to read my spoilers then check out the GR link below.
5 too-beautiful-for-words stars. Review posted February 24, 2014
Four very emotional pages filled with memories, silence, grief and sadness that are so much more evocative and touching than any long-winded book. This was so poetically beautiful. It hurt. It took me apart layer by layer and yet the author's words did surround me like a comforting blanket. I guess it's time to confess that I've got a crush on S.A. McAuley…or let me rephrase that. I've got a serious crush on her writing.
Looking at the flow of the water can offer solace. Water is a silent listener. You can confide in it; you can share your pain and, in a metaphorical sense, it can wash away your grief and regret.
Water gives us a way to honor our mourning over the loss of something dear to us.
When we place our grief in Water's arms, she will hold it for us.
by Cait Johnson
Tomorrow is never a promised day. Don't rush it. Breathe it in and savor it. Each and every day.
You can download the short story here:
The added quotes below my review are spoiler-ish, so you've been warned.
Recommended read. You're still here? Go, go, go. Read it!
If you'd like to read the quotes then scroll down...
The premise did sound very good and I sure as heck am a huge sucker for erotic or romance books that incorporate an art theme. The story and its characters, however, fell flat as a wooden board. The Dark Collector failed to engage me emotionally and the somewhat kinky sex was clinical, monotonic and boring. Besides, less is more. I would have preferred longer sex scenes instead of all those numerous fast f@cks and BJs. I was glad it was so short otherwise I would have DNFd it.
You know whenever a fictional (M/M) character is throwing the endearment pet around, I can't help and remember an outstanding book and its unforgettable hero.
The Dark Collector:
"Oh, God, pet, you make me so crazy."
And then we have an excellent Master who's so much more charismatic and intriguing...
“Everything you hold in your arms is yours, pet,” Marcus murmured. “Everything.”
“I was here, pet. I was always here. Even if you told me you needed me just for an hour, for this, I would have been there.”
“You take care of me, pet. Just by breathing and existing, you take care of me in ways you can’t imagine.”
Marcus closed those green eyes, then turned his face to the mattress. "Thomas…I can't. Do this. God, just do it, or I'm going to break. Hold me together, pet."
I think it's natural that I think about Marcus whenever I hear that endearment and I must say The Dark Collector can't hold a candle to Marcus Aurelius Stanton.
4 surreal and loving stars.****Review posted 23, 2014
A surreal, dreamlike yet beautiful transition from a graffiti-laden, cold and snowy alley somewhere in Chicago...
...to a sandy and hot beach in summertime. Waves gently lapping at Poe's toes, soaking his socks...
"Grief is like the ocean;
it comes on waves ebbing and flowing.
Sometimes the water is calm,
and sometimes it is overwhelming.
All we can do is learn to swim."
by Vicki Harrison
I think we all have encountered situations where we wondered WHAT IF…
What if I had done it differently…?
Someday It Will Be is an homage to a love lost and gone forever. It's reminiscent; precious moments frozen in time and a deep connection that can't be erased neither by time nor by death. Present and past blended together perfectly but the story is mostly told in flashbacks and the reader is privy to Poe's life as he's given a chance to change the course of life. In a way it's a second chance at love and life, albeit an imaginary opportunity. Beautiful.
(view spoiler) That's purely hypothetical. On the other hand, it's a needed plot device in the context of WHAT IF and that's fine by me.
Only five months after his death, the memories of Isaac's voice, his smell and his laugh were fading in Poe's mind. The more he consciously buried the memories to maintain his sanity, the more he lost of Isaac. It was the only way he knew to survive.
But with every piece of Isaac that he forgot, he abandoned a part of himself. So instead of fighting against the pain of seeing what he had lost, he welcomed it.
He let the fissure break open and took in every detail of this Isaac. The tilt of Isaac's chin when he laughed. The way he used his hands when he spoke, every word so important that it deserved physical emphasis. How he would lean in to whisper as if no one else in the world was privileged enough to hear what was said between them.
Poe watched the billowing black clouds approach. On the horizon sheets of rain were falling, streaking the rays of the fast-setting sun.
"And you know what's really fucked up about fear? You're most afraid of the things that will never happen.(…)"
Someday it will be.
Someday It Will Be was my first read by S.A. McAuley and it's safe to say it won't be my last. A beautifully written short story filled with plenty of emotion that accomplished to hold my attention from start to finish. I loved it.
If you'd like to read my spoilers then check out the GR link below.