Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Faster than sorrow

When I was nine years old, I fell in love for the first time.
This was when I was riding pillion behind my father's broad back on his 250ccm MZ, and at the red light next to us stopped a slender, black, elegant motorbike which made a deep, throaty "blop-blop - blop-blop" instead of "eng-degedeng-degedenng" like the MZ did. From that day, I dreamed of riding that motorbike just to feel the shuddering vibrations this sound made for myself.
They say be careful for what you wish, you might be granted it. I was. And boy, did I love her, my beautyful,skittish Yamaha SR 500 bitch. She had a kickstart which was really tricky for me since I had only about 120 pounds on me.The lever had to be brought down with maximum momentum at just the right speed and angle for the engine to catch without the whole contraption toppling over. She had a fickle gas and tended to die at red lights when I forgot to play with the throttle. But she VIBRATED and her sound BOOMED. She got opened up at some point, giving her 50 ps which is quite the guts for a bike of roughly 340 pounds plus rider, and she was lithe and nimble - not a single traffic jam for me anymore, I skidded right through those even the big bikes got stuck in.
Over time it was exactly the thing I loved most about her that did her in, though. The vibrations loosened parts, and I got fed up cleaning up winkers, mirrors, screws and bolts behind me. I lost my left hind flash in the middle of Autobahn once and couldn't replace it with the original parts not produced anymore. And she was slow, even at 50 ps, and my spine which stopped to be so young as it used to be suffered seriously during longer rides.
Well, just like real life, I suppose. I came across a younger, heartier version of my dear old lady, and since I couldn't afford two bikes, my spinster got replaced. The Yamaha 600 Fazer became my bonnie lass, a big-bosomed wench, eager to dance and strong enough to pull her parts.
She's the one which now takes me away faster than sorrow and faster than pain.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Review: Sleeping Stone

Sleeping StoneSleeping Stone by Alexa Snow

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jazz Stone is playful, chaotic, relentless, open, funny, impulsive and endlessly interested in anything that goes on around him. In other words he's everything that Chris Turner isn't. When they meet, it's like opposites attract quite from the beginning, and what starts out as a funny pastime grows into something more over the weeks. But when Chris finally is ready to throw his misgivings overboard and moves in with Jazz, there's suddenly another man with them in the picture: Richard, Jazz's ex. Richard is obviously still in love with Jazz, and what's worse, Jazz still loves Richard. But the biggest surprise, even to Chris himself, is that he feels attracted to Richard too, and in a big way, a feeling Richard wholeheartedly returns. It takes all three men quite a bit of time to acknowledge that maybe three people can be as good together as two, but finally they manage. Now they're a still slightly awkward, but for the time being, stable threesome, this could get perfect. Hadn't Jazz gotten a liking to driving a motorbike he can't master. Hadn't he had a terrible accident which throws him in a coma.
And now Chris and Richard, left alone are hanging in a terrible lurch of time, nearly speechless without Jazz's inexhaustible energy, waiting for the man they both love to wake up. But will he ever?

The story started kind of slow; it took two or three chapters getting used to the alternation between the present tense parts which tell about Chris spending time with Jazz in the hospital and the past tense parts which tell about the story of the three men getting together. (Both parts are mostly not connected as regards content; luckily the present tense parts are printed in italics and easily discernible. )
But it rapidly took up speed, and when it did, it became an unable-to-put-down read.
Since the story is told entirely from Chris's point of view, Jazz is pictured the most colorful and thorough of the three. We see him through Chris's eyes and therefore presumably mostly through pink-hued glasses, but still he's a very likeable character. His carelessness borders on daredevilry, his self-confidence on egoism, but he is so considerate and so very much aware of Chris that there is no doubt why Chris simply has to fall for him as hard as he does. Chris, on the other hand, is easily manipulated by Jazz, but mostly for his own good; he is someone who has to be dragged to his own luck kicking and screaming, but he is also protective and caring AND manages to give Jazz space. Richard is least drawn out, but still the characterization is well enough to understand why both Jazz and Chris are drawn to him.

There were some minor issues, too, first and foremost with the threesome in on itself. From Chris's former characterization I simply couldn't see him accepting Richard into their relationship as easy as he does - unless Jazz pushes him towards it, and that takes sympathy points from Jazz. Still, the relationship, after it is established, is nicely done and in fact is one of the strongest pros for this story.
There's also a lot of sex scenes. And while some of those are integral to the plot and the development of the characters, there are also some superfluous scenes (albeit greatly done ones, so I won't complain too much)

Overall, a great book about the power of love overcoming even the biggest obstacles. Very gripping and a wonderful story. Definitely recommended.

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Review: Bound by Blood

Bound by Blood (Soul Mates, #1)Bound by Blood by Jourdan Lane

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Peter is a bartender at Rave, a gay night club in an AR Houston where vampires, werewolves and any other kind of paranormal creatures are a quite common thing. Peter's been working there for over ten years, or so it seems, having an on-off fuck-buddy relationship with his fellow bartender Jack, Jack's boyfriend Mike and a number of one-night stands, mostly strangers passing through. One night, though, just another stranger catches Peter's eye and soon Peter can't get the beautiful, mysterious Lucien out of his head anymore. In the beginning, Peter freaks a little over Lucien being a vampire, but the hot sex and the pleasures of being with a vampire soon help him come around. Finally, Lucien's very existence is threatened, and Peter throws all inhibitions overboard as his beloved needs him so desperately.

This book was like a train wreck: twisted, flooded with blood, outright horrible, but unable to look away from. Geez, the bucketfuls of semen and the gallons of blood those characters spill! In Lucien's and Peter's world, sex is the answer to just about everything. We need to talk about this? let's have sex. Your're pissed at me/ someone else/the world in general? Let's have sex, preferably with those you're pissed at, too. We're in mortal danger? Let's have sex first. Oh, and don't forget, if sex doesn't help, there's always the blood, which can answer teh otehr half of the questions.

Don't get me wrong, I liked this book. Although there was so much sex I lost track of who put his what in whose what first, or last, or sometimes in between, those sex scenes were still hot, and a lot of emotion was transported through them. The relationship between Peter and Lucien was very good, and the author even managed to add their respective pets (Caleb and Xander)and exes (Antoine, Christopher and Jack) into the mix and make the way those are all bonded together in love, lust and mating believable. But outside of sex, blood and action, there was quite a lot left to want.
The worldbuilding, for example. Vampires, werewolves, incubi and whatnot are mixed up and thrown together like in a funny shaker. Okay, it's fiction, and its this author's world, but still - lore is lore, and if you're about to break familiar patterns, you better make sure you're really consistent about it.
Another major issue was why Peter was so important to Lucien in the first place. Peter was nothing special, he even came across as a bitchy queen at times. So this Lucien has waited four hundred years and won his position as Master Vampire in a bloody fight, and for what? A quite ordinary Joe who happens to be pretty and who needs to be convinced he loves Lucien in the first place? Well, love isn't partial, I guess. Still, once Peter has been convinced he actually loves Lucien, the relationship is, as I said above, beautiful and deeply empotional.

All in all, a story for those who like lots of (HOT) sex with multiple partners, overwhelming emotions and don't mind inconsistency, lack of logic, convenient solutions and lots and lots of blood.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Review: Stirring Up Trouble

Stirring Up Trouble Stirring Up Trouble by Z.A. Maxfield

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now this was an absolutely fantastic read!

Evan is wonderfully gruff, the classical golden-hearted bear, and Toby might be his perfect Goldilocks. The villains are deliciously mean, and Toby's little nephew is simply edible.

The author managed to capture the world of the high cuisine perfectly. Every single one of the cooks, chefs and waiters are taken right from real life. Evan and Toby are real people with real issues and...so perfect for each other.

This book belongs on every m/m reader's menue. Definitely recommended.

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Way of the Sword

"Hey, Earl!"

The stocky security guardsman in his glass cubicle jumped at Arvid's voice from behind his back and sputtered into his drink, spilling it all over the magazine he was reading. Arvid got a glimpse of bare breasts, now soaked in coffee, and winced. Earl looked up at him and, finishing his coughing and trying to hide his mag at the same time, squeezed out: "Mr. Sveinsson! You scared me half to death. Didn't expect you here at that time of the night."

Arvid leaned his tall figure against the doorframe, arms crossed over his chest. "Why are you here, anyway? Aren't you supposed to do your rounds by now?"

The man puffed up. "Why, I just finished one, at 2:30 and everything was quiet. You can take a look for yourself." He pointed at the bank of four monitors in front of him. Each screen displayed a different security camera take of the empty Main Hall. The pictures switched every ten seconds to another location.

Arvid nodded. "And you're always keeping an eye on the monitors, I'm sure," he said, his face stern. The guardsman visibly tried to judge whether Arvid was joking or not, and obviously settled for yes, for he winked an eye and grinned. "Always one eye, Mr. Sveinsson," he said.

"However," Arvid straightened. "You know, Samuels has been complaining about the armory being in disarray in the mornings for a week now, and I came here tonight to check it. Probably a waste of time, but I'd like to be sure. No offense to you, Earl."

"None taken", Earl said, although his sour face belied his words.

"Would you please tell your colleague at the back doors that I'm gonna be around for a while?" Arvid asked. "I will contact one of you when I'm leaving."

Earl nodded, and Arvid gave him a thin smile and turned. Walking away, he could hear Earl on his walkie-talkie. "Listen up, Razeen, we've got us a visitor. No, it's Mr. Sveinsson. Yes, the stunt coordinator. Says he's gonna check the armory. Dunno..." the voice faded to a faint murmur behind him as he entered the Hall proper. He didn't care if they were annoyed. After more than ten years as a stuntman and actor, this was his first job as stunt coordinator and Master of Swords. And this film was an ambitious fantasy game adaptation with a ridiculously generous budget and a director famous for shooting blockbusters. It was all about his special subjects:  martial arts, swordplay, and riding horses. Ben Johnson, leading man of the film and Hollywood's recently most successful actor, even took swordfighting lessons with him. Nothing, not the slightest crap, was to go awry with this job, if it was up to him. And he would not rely on derelict security men to make sure that his charge, an armory full of valuable custom-made weapons, was as safeguarded as possible.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Review: Strawberries for Dessert

Strawberries for Dessert (Coda Books, #4)Strawberries for Dessert by Marie Sexton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What happens if a flaming, flamboyantly out gay man meets an uptight, half-closeted accountant? Sparks fly, of course. At first it's sparks from two diametrally opposite characters clashing, but soon its from an entirely different sort of friction.

Jon and Cole are opposites if there ever where. Set up on a blind date together by Cole's former casual lover, Jared from "Promises", their first meeting is a diaster. Jon is constantly on the phone with work, annoying Cole so much he walks out. Luckily, Cole found Jon interesting enough to leave his phone number and give him a second chance. Slowly, very carefully, their "it's-just-sex" arrangement moves along and changes into something far more serious. When they finally both realize it's love they feel, it's almost too late.

This was another wonderful book by Marie Sexton. Although it's loosely connected to her "Coda, Colorado"-Series, it can be read as a standalone.
The characters were wonderful. I loved Cole, the very picture of what Jon's father calls rightly a fruitcake, so affectionate and gay cliché, yet hiding his vulnerable, loveable self behind his attitude. And I also loved Jon, who's self-centered and obsessed with climbing the company ladder, and needed Cole's pushing to quit vegetating and start living. They were very real and very believable together. The emotions are so vivid and understandable, they seem to shine through the pages.

Jon, the 1st person narrator, was given an unique voice by hints of colloquial language in the narrative. The author managed to make him sound genuine, like a real person; at times the story didn't feel read but more like listened to, as if Jon told it in person over a glass of his beloved Chianti. And Cole's mannerisms, wich at times rubbed off on Jon, were sometimes hilarious.

Well, some obstacles are quite conveniently solved, and the last few sentences could have been just as easily left out, but this didn't lessen the experience of this story. Simply great, enthralling, wonderful. Highly recommended.

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Review: The Station

The StationThe Station by Keira Andrews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sweet, really sweet. Colin Lancaster, son of a wealthy English family fell in love with his father's horse groom when he was only a kid, but it takes him witnessing Patrick's trysting with another man to realize the true nature of his feelings. Shocked and horrified, he tries to deny what he feels, because it is against everything his 19th centuries morales teach, but to no avail. When Patrick is found out, Colin puts out for him and reveals his desires in front of his entire family. Both men are shipped off to the colonies, Australia in their case. During the long passage on the convict's ship, Patrick and Colin grow closer, but only when fate in the form of a frightened, widowed woman extends its hand, they get to truely know each other and finally find out whether this strange, dangerous land may hold a futuree for them together.

There was much to like about this story. Colin, coming to terms with his true nature and telling about it with his own voice, is sometimes as naive as one would expect a sheltered schoolboy of his times to be; it's hard to remember he's actually supposed to be twenty years old. He welcomes the sudden and thorough changes in his life with open arms, determined to see a good in every bad thing that happens to him. He was truely likeable in his unshakeable optimism. Patrick, on the other hand, gloomy and forbidding, is very well drawn too, a proud man so busy being at odds with his fate that he can't see beyond his destroyed dreams.

The story is mostly narrative, though; there's precariously little showing with all the telling. Yet, some of the lengthy narrative describes early Australia beautifully, the action scenes, when they happen, are great, and the sex scenes are beautifully done and hardly ever superfluous. The author went about the task of showing the coming-out of a nineteenth century youth with a loving, skillfull hand and in a truely entertaining way. Positively recommended.

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Review: Trinity Trespass by Val Kovalin

Val Kovalin owns the obsidianbookshelf blog (http://obsidianbookshelf.blogspot.com/) where she reviews m/m romance books. She's also a wonderful author in her own right.
This is how I reviewed her first book, Trinity Trespass, on goodreads:

Demons were freed from Hell by the first atomic bomb launched by J.Robert Oppenheimer at Trinity Site. Since then, they walk the earth among us, lead by their "higher-ups", the cadre, and fought every step of the way by their eternal enemies, the Angels. Demons and angels are connected by a kind of common mind, the Collective, an energy net through which they can sense each other's souls right down to detecting true feelings and lies. Only in New Mexico the Collective isn't as powerful as it is everywhere else; there is a border, set by the Cadre, to create a no-man's-land where neither angels nor demons are supposed to reign.
This is, in short, about the essence of the worldbuilding as I perceived it. A very interesting and unique concept. The author plays on the chords of Catholic lore, giving it some new twists which sometimes remind of "the Exorcist" and sometimes of the Matrix movies. For example, the angels are the bad boys here, since they obviously think they will return to Heaven when their physical body dies no matter what they do. The demons, fearing death since it means their return to Hell, seem to be much keener on balancing good and bad.

Since the worldbuilding is so complicated it was amazing how the author managed to get it across through the thoughts of Parnell, the 3rd person narrator, or through dialogue. Due to this, though, the book was also a bit slow to begin. Even one of the key events which happens early on is almost drowned under the need to get more information across.
Yet, after about one-third of the book, the picture is clear, and Parnell and Navarro take off like rockets. Those two are totally hot together, it was easy to buy the emotional passion which needed frequent release through wild sex (of which there is a lot from the very beginning). There was love and hate precariously balanced between them, underlined by Navarro's fierce loyality and Parnell's desperate need.

The third man, Chavez, remained a bit of a mystery. An angel-demon-hybrid, he's sought after by the Cadre after he has been used by the angels for several years. They suppressed his sexuality completely, and now, let loose, he makes up for lost time with Navarro and Parnell.  Both were attracted to him and he to each of them, threatening to trip their power-play. In the end Chavez is still an outsider, but not because Navarro and Parnell make him, but because he simply is what he is.
This book is more about the world and characters than about plot (although there IS plot!). I think the author did a great job, and hope she won't let all that work go to waste by NOT writing a sequel. This cries for one. 
An unusual, intriguing fantasy with speedy action and a lot of very passionate sex. Definitely recommended.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Review: Persistence Pays by Mara Ismine

Librarian and martial arts enthusiast Asa Hartvigsen is less than thrilled when Tan Gordon shows up on his doorstep one rainy night soaking wet and looking for a place to get dry and spend the night. Although Tan is hot as hell, Asa kept trying to hold him at arm's lenght because Tan has a reputation and Asa isn't inclined to become one of Tan's tricks. But, as Asa puts it, Tan is like a stray cat: show them one moment of friendliness and you never get rid of them again. So Tan kept coming back stubbornly for five years, kind of pushing into Asa's life, obviously determined to stay there. The night and the following morning could have been one of their usual dances around the subject if, yes if not Asa's parents had decided to drop by in the morning. Asa's mother who threw herself to the task of having a gay son with body and soul, immediately takes a liking in Tan, and their little scheme changes things for Asa once and for all.

This was a really nice little story, full of humor and sweetness. Some lines had me laughing out loud, and the character of Asa's mother was one of the best supporting characters I've ever come across. Asa made me want to smack him over the head sometimes with his stubborn determination to save himself from getting hurt and his gruffy refusal to take the good offering that was right in front of his nose - a feeling I obviously shared with Asa's mom. Tan was sunny, open and fetching and totally likeable. It was heartwarming to watch Tan going to such lengths in order to win the heart of a hedgehog-like bristling loner like Asa. I was happy to see them coming to terms with each other.
A fine, nicely done, entertaining short read. Recommended for everyone who wants to escape reality for a while and have a really good time.

Out there

When I first met Hunter, he was carrying a Saker falcon on his fist through JFK airport's International Terminal arrival hall. He was lost, and yet he didn' t look it, winding through the crowd, heedless of the strange looks he got. I watched him as the authorities in the body of PAPD officer Mark Bowman stopped him, and I watched him sizing the officer up, picking up his scent and deciding to give it a try. I coudn't fight back silent amusement when I saw the poor officer's reaction as Hunter worked his magic with quiet self - confidence and zenlike serenity. It made me wonder what could make a man like this lose his cool, and why it was Mark, of all people, would be the one to make him. And this lead to wondering how a man like Hunter could have become that way in the first place, what it might have taken to build those many layers of stillness around a burning hot, untiring core.
This was when Hunter stepped forward to tell me his story. I only needed to write it down.

The result became a short story, DESERT FALCON.
I liked it. Actually, I liked it a lot.  I let a few people read the story, and guess what? They liked it, too.
So I decided to give it a try. Do you know what happened?

Make an educated guess, as the angels suggests to the dead man with the coffee maker in the commercial.