Monthly Archives: October 2016

Book Review: Unspeakable Words, by Sarah Madison

Unspeakable Words (The Sixth Sense #1), by Sarah Madison

Special Agent John Flynn is everything Jerry Parker is not: dangerously handsome, coolly charismatic, and respected by his peers. Special Agent Parker is dedicated and meticulous, but his abrasive personality has given him a reputation for being difficult. When new information on a cold case appears, Parker is assigned to work with Flynn, and the sparks fly as their investigative styles clash. Contact with a strange artifact changes everything when it bestows unusual and unpredictable powers on Flynn… and the two men must learn to trust each other before a killer strikes again.

Rating: 4 out of 5

When I started into this I didn’t realize that it’s short enough to almost be a novella. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it does explain some of the issues I had with the story. I could wish for more backstory on Flynn, and the “mystery” was rather perfunctory, making it clear that the purpose of this book was to establish the characters first and foremost.

The book is a fast, fun read though. The introduction of The Artifact gives an interesting spin to the usual cops-who-don’t-get-along-become-friends (or more) trope. Flynn getting used to managing his newfound skills does give some interesting insights into his personality. Parker is genuinely likeable, and the ease with which he provides help for Flynn makes sense given his personality is established as someone who is supportive in all of his roles. Points also for the narrative gymnastics in the latter part of the story, drawing out the tension and leaving the reader guessing.

I see that the sequel to this book (Walk a Mile) is double the length in pages, which is a good sign. I will definitely be picking that up!

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Musings on Asexuality

It’s the last day of Asexuality Awareness Week. I’ve been trying to understand why discussion and postings about it have had such resonance with me and I think I’ve figured it out.

If I had known such a thing existed in my late teens/early 20′s, I’d probably have said I identified as asexual (as much as I would have been brave enough to identify as anything but heterosexual in rural South Carolina in the 1980s). I knew I wasn’t interested in women, and while I knew I might be interested in guys, I had zero interest in doing anything about it.

When I was 26 years old I came to the realization that I was gay. It is a given that orientation can be a fluid thing, so maybe I was asexual then I was gay, or maybe I was gay all along and simply unmotivated to act on it. There are also degrees of asexuality that could be used to define that period of my life. I don’t think it really matters in the end.

My point is that my experiences make me extremely sympathetic to those who identify as asexual and the societal pressures they are subjected to. I hope to support and validate aces that I know, and to continue to learn more so that I can be as good an ally to aces as my straight, lesbian, bi, and trans friends have been for me.

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Unintentional hilarity

I’m starting a new m/m romance/shifter book which shall go unnamed for now. I’m withholding judgment (with difficulty) since I’m less than 20% in, but here are my reactions so far…

New student transfers to Eastern Washington University from Austin, TX.
OK, that sets it up. Pretty rural place that really exists outside of Spokane, WA.

Ready for the “West Coast” mindset
Um, another name for eastern Washington state is “Idaho”. Very, very different from West Coast.

Guy is revealed to be fleeing an abusive relationship, has cutting scars, and unexplained scars on his neck
OK, that’s a whole lotta baggage

Guy’s friend talks about the huge LGBT population on campus
Um, hello? What part of “Idaho” did you not hear?

Friend takes guy to a big club that is out in the middle of the woods, far away from anything
Well, that’s not suspicious at all

The club is a gay BDSM club, and all of the students on campus fight to get in there every weekend
wat

The club is having a competition to find the Alpha’s Pet, and guy is unwittingly entered into the competition
You know what’s awesome right after an abusive relationship? Getting shoved unwillingly into a situation where you suddenly learn all about dominance and submission. What could possibly go wrong?

And that’s where I am now. There will be werewolves, of course, because of the Huge Secret References (some of you might call it “foreshadowing” which is technically true, although one does not typically foreshadow with the subtlety of the Vegas Strip). The club is called “The Lodge”, the shadowy owners are a group called “The Wolves” led by “The Alpha”. Ayup.

I’ll keep reading because at this point my disbelief is suspended so high it may need oxygen. Even if it doesn’t get better at least it’s unintentionally amusing.

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Book Review: Wolf, in League, by A. F. Henley

 

Wolf, in League (Wolf, Book 3), by A.F. Henley

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Wolf, in League follows the progression of Wolf, WY (a local setting), then Wolf, en Garde (a national setting), by expanding the story of wolves, vampires, and more to world-wide in scope, and it does it in grand style.

I will say up-front that vampires simply don’t interest me. Werewolves, heck yeah – vampires, zombies, and other undead things, not so much. Setting aside that preference, though, the relationship between Matthew and Gavin is wonderful to watch develop. I found Matthew extremely relatable, although it didn’t hurt that the story is told mostly from his point of view. Even so, he’s a complex, intelligent, and thoughtful character.

Gavin is a bit harder to read (intentionally so), and if I have any complaint it would be that it would be nice to know more of his history. I could see how that could slow the overall story down, though. Much of his behavior is attributable to his affliction, but as the story plays out we find there is much more to it than that.

I liked that Matthew takes time to come to grips with his feelings towards Gavin. He’s forced into a difficult situation and being pulled in multiple directions. The rush of feelings when the dam breaks, though, is gratifying. I can’t say that I found Matthew and Gavin as sympathetic a couple as Vaughn and Randy or Lyle and Rafe, but that could be due to the whole vampire   thing.

One thing I loved about this book is that the story moves along at a steady clip. Starting
within the familiar setting we left at the end of en Garde, step by step we learn that the world is a much scarier place than originally thought. There are conspiracies on multiple fronts and it is up to the characters, new and old favorites, to uncover them. This all builds to a conclusion that creates a whole new setting for future books – books that I definitely look forward to reading!

Side note: huge props for dropping “Not all vampires” into the dialogue, too (vampsplaining?). This cracked me up so much!

A different spin on werewolves

@afhenley (stupid Tumblr autotagging isn’t working) offers an interesting, if grisly take on werewolves in the Wolf series. The transformation from human to werewolf and back isn’t neat and clean, shimmering from one form to another effortlessly. No, it involves breaking bones and chunks of flesh falling off, blood and snot everywhere. It can be stomach-churning for anyone watching. Going out somewhere where you know you are going to change requires bringing along a plastic tarp.

It’s not particularly sexy, but it introduces an icky but believable element into an well-established idea.

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kittenwiskers: writing-prompt-s: You’re in charge of assigning every child on Earth the monster…

kittenwiskers:

writing-prompt-s:

You’re in charge of assigning every child on Earth the monster under their bed. One child in particular has caused every monster assigned to him/her to quit. You decide to assign yourself.

Case: #273402
Status: Disastrous.

I stare at the file and realize I have no options, over the last 2 years every monster assigned to Charlotte Dower has quit, every last one. Her first monster; a giant goldfish-faced humanoid named Bubba, had been with her for four years, and then she wasn’t scared of him anymore. After that it was a string of different common, uncommon, and rare monsters… I even assigned a sentient sock monster to her. He came back crying!
I look on my tablet, only one assignable monster left; myself. Field work has never been my cup of tea, but desperate times call for desperate measures. So at 8:03 pm, after Mrs. Gideon tucks in Charlotte and her little brother Daniel; I slither into the space beneath Charlotte’s bed.
Across the room underneath Daniel’s crib is a rookie, Chico, a standard Creep kind of monster.
I turn my attention to the bed above me, Charlotte is still awake but barely, I reach up over the bed and run an ice cold finger over her cheek, silence, so I do it again.
“I’m not afraid of you monster!” She whispers, but her voice is shaking. I can see a small clock on the wall 8:14, a door somewhere in the house slams and there is an audible hitch of breath from above me. A few minutes go by I can hear Francis Gideon yelling at his wife. There are heavy footsteps on the stairs, and loud panting breaths, Charlotte scrambles off the bed and…
She. CRAWLS. Under. The. Bed. With. Me.
“Move. Over!” Charlotte hisses at me. I do.
The door to the bedroom slams open and I smell the stench of human intoxicants before the man even steps inside.
I know why Charlotte isn’t afraid of any of my monsters; she’s afraid of her own.
Francis reaches a hand under the bed and I thrust my wrist into it, he starts to pull, I slither out.
“What the…” I cut Francis’s next words off by unfolding to my full 12 foot height. Looming over the drunken man I caress my cold fingers down his face.
“If you ever touch, scare, or harm my child again, I will find you, and I will do the same to you, for all eternity.” I promise to him.
As Francis runs from the room he soils himself.
I pull Charlotte from under the bed, tuck her back under her covers and kiss her forehead goodnight. “I’ll be back tomorrow night, sleep well darling.”
Charlotte Dower is my child, I am the monster under her bed.

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Book Review: Wolf, en Garde, by A.F. Henley

 

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Wolf, en Garde (Wolf #2) by A.F. Henley (with fabulous cover design by Drawboy)

Three years ago Lyle made a mistake that cost him his freedom, and almost his life. Now, sick to death of watching his father love the man that Lyle wanted, Lyle accepts an offer to leave Wolf, WY behind and see what life in Washington, D.C. can do for him instead.

When Lyle comes across a seductive, attractive stranger with a fascinating yet terrifying view of humanity, he’s more than intrigued. It doesn’t take Lyle long to realize that Arius isn’t just playing games, though, and when Lyle runs across a secret in Arius’ lair he has no choice but to flee, even knowing his actions will enrage Arius.

On the run, with only a psychic’s second sight and his own instinct to help him, Lyle has nowhere to go but home. The only question is, will they have him when he shows up.

Oh my gosh, this book. I love it when an author only gets better through a series, and these books are an excellent example of this. My review of the first book in the series, Wolf, WY, was that it was a 4 out of 5, a pretty good book indeed. This one? 5 out of 5, and with good reason. All the issues and concerns that I had by the end of the first book were addressed to my satisfaction in the first few chapters of this one, making Wolf that much more of a satisfying story.

Wolf, en Garde takes up the story of Lyle, a werewolf fighting his way through a difficult time in his life. As he goes off to the big city he finds excitement and some very nasty surprises. I love the fact that although Lyle goes from an initially annoying and petulant character to a sympathetic one by the end of the book, you can always see where he is coming from and what is motivating him.

The plot twists here are great fun, with shifting alliances and shadowy hints of people knowing more than they should. Even better, Henley takes the cozy setting of Wolf, Wyoming from the first book and expands it out with some excellent world building, showing where werewolves (and other beings) fit in modern society and suggesting even greater manipulating forces that the characters still don’t know about. I see it as a narrative tool akin to the blind men and the elephant. As each new piece of information presents itself you are forced to reformulate your view of the world. The slow reveal makes for a great read, though. After a slow buildup, the last part of the book is a hell of a ride!

This book obviously leads directly into the next in the series, Wolf, in League. I will be starting in on that immediately! I definitely recommend the whole series.

 

For the record while I do not personally identify as asexual, I am entirely sympathetic. I am…

For the record while I do not personally identify as asexual, I am entirely sympathetic. I am horrified at the idea that one’s sexual identity could be disregarded and discounted as “not having met the right person” – how many gays, lesbians, and bisexuals have heard that exact phrase? How is that any different if applied to those who identify as asexual? So rock on, and be who you is!

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fuckyeahasexual: fuckyeahasexual: After having @glaad erase aces (and aromantics and agender…

fuckyeahasexual:

fuckyeahasexual:

After having @glaad erase aces (and aromantics and agender people) last year to the point of them having to publicly say sorry, I am moved that they kept true to their promise and included us in their other events. Like this is the first default image on mobile.

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For complete details check out their website.

If you click through to facebook, there is that and more. 

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Book Review: Wolf, WY, by A.F. Henley

 

Wolf, WY, by A.F. Henley 

There’s nothing like a fresh start, and for Randy, still nursing wounds left by a cheating ex and harboring a deep mistrust for all things corporate, Wolf, Wyoming seems like the perfect place to start over. Secluded, quiet, and self-sufficient, Wolf is bound to not only inspire, but to bring Randy the peace he needs. The view’s not bad, either.

Vaughn O’Connell and his family are Randy’s only neighbors for miles, and while Randy knows it’s somewhat unlikely that a man with three kids is gay, it doesn’t hurt to look. When a misunderstanding brings Randy face to face with both Vaughn and his eighteen year old son, Lyle, Randy’s not sure what to feel about either of them.

But things are not what they appear in Wolf, and the closer Randy gets, the stranger the O’Connell family seems…

Rating: 4 out of 5

This was a really enjoyable book. The setup was good, and I enjoyed the characters. Randy is a funny, snarky guy who is prone to wisecrack at wholly inappropriate times (a man after my own heart!). Vaughn is a crusty local, grumpy but endearing in the end. The setting is lovely too – the descriptions of the area led me to Google Maps and using Street View to get a good look at the surrounding area. Oddly enough this actually allowed me to better appreciate the story.

The expected conflict between the normal and paranormal worlds is present, but Henley also adds an interesting interpersonal additional conflict that is a unique spin in what I have seen in the genre. This helps to elevates what might have been a pretty standard story into something memorable.

At times the prose could be somewhat overly-florid it was forgivable. It would have been nice to know more of Vaughn’s backstory, too. Despite these things, though, I found this to be a quick, enjoyable, and engaging read.

Book Review: Into This River I Drown, by T.J. Klune

 

Into This River I Drown, by T.J. Klune

At once an exploration of grief and faith, Into This River I Drown is one man’s journey into the secrets of his father and discovering the strength to believe in the impossible.

Five years ago, Benji Green lost his beloved father, Big Eddie, who drowned when his truck crashed into a river. All calledit an accident, but Benji thought it more. However, even years later, he is buried deep in his grief, throwing himself into taking over Big Eddie’s convenience store in the small town of Roseland, Oregon. Surrounded by his mother and three aunts, he lives day by day, struggling to keep his head above water.

But Roseland is no ordinary place.

With ever-increasing dreams of his father’s death and waking visions of feathers on the surface of a river, Benji’s definition of reality is starting to bend. He thinks himself haunted, but whether by ghosts or memories, he can no longer tell. It’s not until the impossible happens and a man falls from the sky and leaves the burning imprint of wings on the ground that he begins to understand that the world around him is more mysterious than he could have possibly imagined. It’s also more dangerous, as forces beyond anyone’s control are descending on Roseland, revealing long hidden truths about friends, family, and the man named Calliel who Benji is finding he can no longer live without.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Staggering. What T.J. Klune does with this book is simply staggering and damn near overwhelming.

The atmosphere and emotions in Into This River are just as much central characters as Benji and Cal. By the end of the book, I could imagine standing at Mile Marker 77 and know what it looks like, how it feels. The grief, pain, hope and love experienced here damn near leave me speechless. As always, I am amazed at the depth of feeling that T.J. Klune can evoke with his writing.

This is a weighty book, and definitely not an easy read (at least it wasn’t for me). I had to take a break and read something a bit lighter every now and then! That said, it was extremely rewarding. I would urge any reader to stick it out through the halfway mark, because the latter half of the book is one hell of a ride.

I am glad that I have read other books by Klune before reading this one. Many of the themes (and indeed phrasing) featured in Wolfsong (reviewed here) are repeated here, though this does not detract in the least – rather, I feel it allows a glimpse into the author’s thinking.

I highly, highly recommend this book. Simply incredible.

Side note: Damn, that cover is great, and so very suited to this book.

Book Review: Hexmaker, by Jordan Hawk

Hexmaker, by Jordan Hawk

A straight-laced policeman. A lighthearted thief. A murdered millionaire.

Fox shifter Malachi steals for one of the biggest crime rings in New York City. But when he witnesses the murder of a millionaire, the only person who can keep him safe is Dr. Owen Yates, forensic hexman for the Metropolitan Witch Police—and Malachi’s witch.

Owen is horrified to discover his familiar is an uneducated thief. Even worse, Malachi
threatens to unleash Owen’s deepest desires…desires Owen can’t act upon, as he’s destined for an arranged marriage to secure the Yates family fortune

Their agreement: Malachi will be Owen’s lover as well as his partner, until the day of the wedding. But as their hunt for the murderer carries them from teeming slums to Fifth Avenue mansions, Owens begins to realize Malachi commands his heart as well as his body.

With dark forces drawing ever closer around them, Owen must decide whether
to bow to the demands of duty, or to risk everything for the man he loves.

Rating: 5 out of 5!

This book gave me all sorts of warm fuzzies, and not just of the foxy variety!

Jordan Hawk created a fascinating world in Hexbreaker, and this book capitalizes on that. I feel like all of the things that left me feeling so-so about the first book have been fixed here, and it makes Hexmaker an outstanding story.

Malachi is a fascinating character, and here we get a full picture of who he is and what his motivations are. Likewise we understand where Owen is coming from, and why he feels bound to make the decisions that he does. In both cases that allows the reader a degree of empathy that really helps make the story resonate. An important motivating factor here is class status, the haves and the have-nots, and the clashes between the two worlds.

One thing that I thought really made the story stand out was the book’s willingness to touch on themes other than the usual “guy meets guy then they jump into the sack.” Themes of dominance and submission and transsexuality are touched on but do not completely drive the story; they are handled intelligently and in a matter-of-fact manner that I found refreshing. Not to say that the fun in the sack wasn’t steamy as hell, because daaaayum! This was the perfect balance of plot and sexytime for my liking, though.

If I have any complaint about this book it’s that once the big reveals happen it gets a little tricky
for the reader to connect all the dots, but it wasn’t as ridiculously convoluted as some that I’ve read. This in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the story though. I happily recommend this book to all!

radfursandstuff: sniperj0e: pros of werewolf boyfriend: happy with any present as long as its…

radfursandstuff:

sniperj0e:

pros of werewolf boyfriend:

  • happy with any present as long as its chewable
  • very very excited to see you after any period of time apart
  • will lie in your bed and keep you warm whenever you take a nap
  • growls at jerks, may eat them

cons of werewolf boyfriend:

  • absolutely nothing

@dateawerewolfsuggestion

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alexdarke: I was in the store today, thought of Matt, so I…

alexdarke:

I was in the store today, thought of Matt, so I bought him some flowers.

(At the checkout lane)

Male Clerk: So what did you do?

(At home, after Matt has seen them)

Matt: So what did you do?

>_< This whole “guys only buy flowers when they are in trouble” thing is boring. Buy them “just because”. Because you love them. Because they make you smile. Because they will make them smile. Because you were thinking of them. Because.

Hell yeah! I love to do this for my man.

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Book Review: Protector of the Alpha, by Parker Williams

Protector of the Alpha, by Parker WIlliams

Adopted at an early age
by a wealthy family, Jake Davis has always seemed to have an easy life.
Even in college he was blessed with good grades and an apparently clear
path to a pro football career. Good thing his best friend keeps hanging
around to keep his head from getting too swollen.

Zakiya
Incekara has always been…odd. Being fluent in six languages and having
a flair for international cooking should open the world to him, but
those skills leave him isolated.

When Jake sees Zak for the
first time, with water beading down his slender form, something inside
him shifts, and it hungers for Zak. To have him. To claim him. And Jake
knows that whatever it is, it won’t be denied.

When they are
approached by a man who claims knowledge of a secret past they share,
Jake and Zak are thrust into a world they would never have believed
existed. The forests of Alaska might seem an odd place to find your
destiny, but these men will meet the challenges head on, as they learn
that sometimes you have to make sacrifices to be Protector of the Alpha.

Rating: 2 out of 5

No. Just no.

It says a lot when the blurb for a book reveals more about a character than you ever learn in the book. This was the case for Zak/Zakiya. It was painful to get through the first 60% of the book. After that I started skimming. I don’t feel like I missed anything.

Ugh, where to begin. Paper-thin characters, cookie-cutter plot, poor pacing…

I think I knew it was all over 23% into the book with this passage:

It
was as if he was seeing Zak through new eyes. The sinew of his neck
begged Jake to bite, to mark. The breeze fluttered through hair that
called to be brushed, to feel the silky strands trailing over Jake’s
body. His cock grew harder as he moved toward Zak. When those beautiful
eyes peered at him from beneath the long lashes, and the upturned lips
gave a shy smile, Jake groaned as he came in his pants.

Really. Really? Really. It doesn’t improve much from there.

The buildup to the finale was tedious, and when they meet the big-baddies? Meh.

I can’t say that I would recommend this book at all.
       

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