Blog Archives

Disasterology 101 by Taylor V. Donovan

Disasterology 101Disasterology 101 by Taylor V. Donovan
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  MLR Press, LLC
Novel:  114,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

Kevin Morrison had it all. A house he worked hard for, a loving wife, and three beautiful children. But it wasn’t until his marriage ended that he realized what the void he’d felt almost all his life meant. Coming out as a gay man at thirty-six is not an easy feat, but he is determined to be true to his heart. Meeting a man who shares his values, and is good with his children would be a bonus, but when the guy arrives in a uniquely wrapped package, and has very specific handling instructions, Kevin needs to decide if he’s up for that kind of love.

Obsessed with order and symmetry, and a paralyzing fear of germs, Cedric Haughton-Disley has lived with isolation and loneliness as long as he can remember. Desperate to be normal, he makes some much-needed changes in his life. If he can commit to his treatment, he might very well be able to procure some quality of life… even if that’s all he can get, as finding love and having a relationship are only possible in Cedric’s wildest dreams. But when a chance encounter leaves Cedric wishing for more, he decides to take a leap of faith, and pursue the guy he wants.

Together the two men make an unlikely match. Cedric needs organization, and Kevin represents chaos. In order to stay together they both need to compromise, but will they be able to deal with Cedric’s issues and the potential disaster, or let it break them apart?

Excerpt

The storyline in this book is a bit slow.  There is a lot of going over the same ground in regards to Cedric’s OCD and germaphobia that at times got to be a bit much.  I understand the author’s usage of this in order to portray the character’s illness but it was a bit of overkill.

Now in regards to the storyline, though it moves slowly I enjoyed it.  Cedric is an adorable character that you just have so much sympathy for.  He is easily relatable for me.  Kevin is a bit different.  He takes Cedric’s condition a little too easily.  Yes, he fights it a bit at first and there is some struggle near the end but he comes out a little too “perfect” for reality.  It would have made a bit more sense if struggled to deal more with Cedric’s condition instead of sticking to the sex angle.

The writing was really good for me.  I enjoyed the descriptions given and how the author built up the story.  Warning Cedric’s character is a bit of a dichotomy.  He is rich but dresses often like a “thug”, he has trouble with kids and germs but seems to get along rather well with them, he comes off all aggressive and then all fragile, his speech has American and British slang and usage.  I think this actually makes for a more interesting character.  Kevin is a bit flatter.  I just didn’t get into his character as much.  He doesn’t draw me into his life like Cedric does.

Overall it was a fun and sweet read.  I think the ending did leave a lot to be desired.  When you combine Kevin’s character, the overkill on the illness, and the ending, I have to say I wasn’t as impressed with the read as I hoped.  Enjoyable but not a GREAT read.

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Strength of the Wolf by Kendall McKenna

Strength of the WolfStrength of the Wolf by Kendall McKenna
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  MLR Press, LLC
Novel:  121,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

Major Tim Madison has his hands full. A young Alpha werewolf has stormed into his personal life, while Tim struggles to keep military werewolves from safe on the front lines.

After a fiery exit from Afghanistan, Tim Madison is promoted to major. Jeremy Wagner is a civilian, just beginning his Transition to True Alpha. As a lone wolf, he has no one to teach him the vital principles of strong leadership. After a volatile chance encounter, Tim and Jeremy form an intimate bond. As Jeremy prepares to someday lead his own pack, Tim struggles with military werewolves being needlessly maimed in combat, as well as specifically targeted by hostile forces. Despite Tim and Jeremy’s feelings, werewolf and human politics or family conflict could prevent their mate-bond.

Excerpt

This was the second book in The Tameness of the Wolf series.  This book differed a great deal from the previous book.  The relationship is focused on a different set of men.  One Noah and Lucas’s commanding Officer Tim and the other a civilian, Jeremy.  The story is approached in a totally different way.

Jeremy enters the story at the very beginning of his Transition to a True Alpha wolf.  Tim was out with Noah, Lucas and some of the other military werewolves and they run into an aggressive Jeremy in the parking lot.  Luckily Noah understands what is happening and subdues Jeremy.  Jeremy is a mild mid-level wolf until his transition.  He was kicked out of his pack because the Alpha wanted to keep his position.

Tim and Jeremy are immediately attracted to each other.  The relationship builds from there.  The story is not well developed.  Jeremy always remains a shadowy figure to the reader.  We learn very little of his character.  The relationship seems to be the focus of the book but we get a lot of what is happening with Tim and his unit.  I really didn’t see much of why Jeremy and Tim are together other than sex.  Tim keeps thinking of Jeremy as a kid and a brat.  Jeremy just clings.

I liked that we got some information on Transitioning.  Other than that and an update on what is happening with Noah and Lucas with the military, I don’t see much growth.  I have a feeling that the information and status of everyone will be important in following books.  Other than that I felt that this book was weak in character and plot line.

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Out-Foxed by Haley Walsh

Out-FoxedOut-Foxed by Haley Walsh
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  MLR Press, LLC
Novel:  81,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

Skyler breaks it off with Keith, a teacher is murdered and a student might be involved through some twisted football initiation; Just another week at James Polk High.

Distraught at being outed, Skyler breaks it off with Keith, but they’ve got other problems. Protesters have gathered at the school and the school board has called a special disciplinary hearing. And as if that weren’t bad enough, Alex is getting into fights and skipping class. Might he be responsible for the murder of a teacher? Did Coach Carson send the boy to do the dirty work out of some twisted football initiation? Skyler knows it all has to stop, and he and his friends are on the trail to find a murderer and discover once and for all what is happening at James Polk High.

Excerpt

This is the third and finally book in this story arc.  There will be other books in the series but this finished the story arc that began the series.  Skyler is still an immure guy.  He doesn’t ever listen to those he should, even when he KNOWS what could happen he actually drags his friends into trouble.   Personally Keith should have dumped him!

So the writing was good.  I love the humor that the author infuses into the story.  The descriptions are fairly good.  I do think that Skyler finds a little too much evidence for real life.  Also I think the author really downplays cops and their roles.  Skyler, who is quite the obvious kind of guy, finds stuff out before the cops in situations where it really doesn’t strike me as happening.  The little book…yeah, I don’t think so.  So realism isn’t real high for me in this book.  The uproar over Skyler’s outing seemed a bit over the top too but I guess I can say I’ve never seen one come out that way.

The characters are fun in the story line though.  The humor and snark is great.  Keith, again not very realistic, was a shallow character; especially given he is a main character.  I think the author did a much better job with even the side characters than with Keith.

I think the story contain within this book ends a bit abruptly.  It feels weak.  The whole situation with the relationship between the two main characters really didn’t give me any satisfaction.  Skyler doesn’t redeem himself in the relationship to me, and Keith just stays on the same track with Skyler that he always seems to be on.  It just doesn’t seem to match the rest of the book.  Skyler produces drama yet that is lacking.  It could be a ploy that the author uses to show the difference in this relationship compared to others Skyler has had but it just didn’t work for me.

The side characters are great.  They seem to really be brought out in this book.  The author seems to have set this up for some good books in the future of the series.  I look forward to them.

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Laying Ghosts by James Buchanan

Laying GhostsLaying Ghosts by James Buchanan
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  MLR Press, LLC
Novel:  123,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords
Roses:  5
 

Some families are haunted by tragedy. Some people are haunted by their pasts. Some men are haunted by who they are. Joe Peterson is haunted by all three. His parents’ return from their mission, combined with a family reunion, forces Joe’s kin to deal with his new life: out of the Mormon Church, out of the closet, and living with his lover Kabe. When a decades-old murder of a child lands on Joe’s desk, digging into it dredges up long buried truths and festering secrets about folks Joe thought he knew — including Kabe. Joe and Kabe must lay the ghosts of the past and bring closure to a family scarred by loss to move forward in their life together.

Excerpt

This is a continuation of the series Deputy Joe.  Kabe and Joe are settling in to their relationship and still working out the little kinks.  Joe has been assigned desk duty while his knee is still not up to regular patrol.  He is also trying to work with the new lieutenant that has replaced him.  Joe has been assigned to input all the old case files into the database while on desk duty.  While he is doing this he runs across a file for his deceased sister who he was always told drowned and finds that isn’t the whole story.  Joe is faced with this, telling his parents he is gay and living with another man, and lastly bad news about his mother.  On top of this he must face the “kinky” sex he and Kabe have and if it is too much for him.

I have enjoyed this series and how Joe, a devote Mormon, deals with finding the man for him and his excommunication from his church.  Joe dealing with the drama of telling his parents adds another intriguing level to the story.

Joe’s personality is still the same.  He still has to be pretty much forced out of the closet each time.  He would put that kind of news off forever if he could.  He loves his family so much and it really hits home that he may be spurned by his parents because of his sexuality.

Kabe is forever pushing against Joe’s boundaries.  It is the reverse of what you usually see in stories of a Ds relationship.  It is usually the Dom that pushes the Sub.  Joe though fears his own needs and Kabe’s lack of boundaries.  Kabe and he must reconcile that in their relationship to move forward.

I love the interaction between Joe and Kabe.  The two men play well off each other.  They are so opposite and yet to see them work together is the perfection of how two opposites can form a very loving relationship.

The writing in this story is superb.  I think the author has done a very good job of showing so many dynamics in this complicated relationship and Joe’s other relationships.  I enjoyed getting to see more of Joe’s family.  They are a very complex group that show how one family can raise up very individual people.  I think the only issue I had with the writing was the language used.  At times the use of the incorrect language and words by the characters got a little heavy for me.  Even in the narrative it was used and it became, at times, a little hard to follow and repetitious.

This is a very solid read that I would recommend to almost anyone.  I have to give some leeway to those that don’t care for the “rough” sex, though I didn’t think it was too heavy others may disagree.  If you don’t mind a LITTLE kink in your sex I would recommend reading the whole of the series, I don’t think you will be disappointed.

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Butt Pirates in Space by Kiernan Kelly, Kage Alan, Angelia Sparrow, T.C. Blue, and Shae Connor

Butt Pirates in SpaceButt Pirates in Space by Kiernan Kelly, Kage Alan, Angelia Sparrow, T.C. Blue, and Shae Connor
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  MLR Press, LLC
Novel:  88,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  2
 

Strap yourself in and strap something on as you’re transported across galaxies and lifetimes by Kiernan Kelly, Kage Alan, Angelia Sparrow, T.C. Blue and Shae Connor. Whether it’s an interspecies pregnancy between two hormonal males, a swashbuckling group of pirates, or free gifts that talk, you’ll soon learn why in space, no one can hear you cream. Open wide for BUTT PIRATES IN SPPAAACCCEEE!

What to Expect When Your Boyfriend is Expecting
What fun is a cross-species pregnancy without an old-fashioned kidnapping to shake things up?

Spacehunters
The Future of Perfect Love Is A Bitchfest!

B’Utopia
There are times when even a space pirate needs to do the right thing. This isn’t one of them.

Free Gift with Purchase
Sometimes the free gifts are the ones that keep on giving…whether you want them to or not.

Pride of the Rangers
Disgraced Lieutenant Commander Cliff Cody of the Space Exploration Rangers escapes from prison and turns pirate.

Excerpt

“What to Expect When Your Boyfriend is Expecting” by Shae Connor

This was a cute, little story.  Yes, it is shallow but it is fun.  We learn really little about the main character, Zeke.  We know for some reason he came to a different planet in the second landing of humans and met his boyfriend there.  They had a quick relationship and moved in together.  Zeke had no idea that his boyfriend could get pregnant and of course he does.  Now the two are the first cross-species pregnant couple.  They get word that privateers are after his boyfriend and baby.  Poor Zeke ends up in their clutches though.

I really liked the background of the story.  All the little details that make up this world are interesting.  Zeke is a smart man and knows he and his boyfriend are in love and never wavers in his faith in his boyfriend.  I would have loved to have seen more of the background and surrounding story of these two.  I think it would have made an excellent novella with a little more detail.  As is it is just a cute short.

Roses: 3

“Spacehunters: Master Elite and the Maternal Order of Loganites Beyond Uranus” by Kage Alan

This was a lighthearted story that was more about humor than story.  It was hilarious!  Some of the “cult” names…lol.  Jayden and Chace are boarding a station illegally to get a scroll.  It is never said what is on the scroll.  It really doesn’t seem to matter in the scheme of things.  Jayden and Chace snark back and forth the whole story long.  At times it is not always easy to follow them but that is the fun of the story.  As I said this is more about humor than anything so the plot and all else is pretty thin, but it is an enjoyable read as it is.  The only trouble that I had is that I got so tired of all the names…it got a little ridiculous.

Roses:  2

“B’utopia” by Kiernan Kelly

Hmmm, this one just didn’t catch me.  I thought that Rictor was interesting but personality challenged and Jerrick was just…Blah.  The whole premise of the story sounds good but the actual story just was too over the top for me.

Roses: 2

“Free Gift with Purchase” by T.C. Blue

This was a very interesting story.  It is a well thought out one.  I loved the characters.  The story could have had a little more detail too it.  It was tough to be in a short that had so much thrown at you so quickly with little time to truly absorb it.  It could get a little confusing.  I enjoyed the characters.  Mama was a very interesting addition and Miss Jocelyn Uranus, lol!!!  Ah, it was a very enjoyable read.

Roses: 4

“Pride of the Rangers” by Angelia Sparrow

This book was definitely not for me.  I didn’t like the characters.  The premise itself was good but it had little feeling in it.  There was lots of sex but it was stilted and lacked any emotional connection for me as a reader.  It also made no sense to me how Cade, Jake, and Frank ended up together.  There really wasn’t a connection there.  I didn’t feel or see it.  I had no sense of Jake and Frank as characters.  One minute Cade hates everyone the next in love…yeah, no.

Roses:  1

Overall the book is trying to be funny and lighthearted but really just ended up being too over the top to really enjoy.  I know this was supposed to be funny but mostly I was glad to finish the book.

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Shifting Sands by Jet Mykles, Willa Okati, Ally Blue, J.L. Langley, Kimberly Gardner, and Brenda Bryce

Shifting sandsShifting Sands by Jet Mykles, Willa Okati, Ally Blue, J.L. Langley, Kimberly Gardner, and Brenda Bryce
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  MLR Press
Novel:  100,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  3
 

Witches, shifters and ancient curses, such is life on the Shifting Sands.

A woman’s wrath is bad, but a witch’s wrath is hell on earth. No one knows this better than the six men of Shifting Sands Ranch. When the owner’s Chinese witch of a wife abandons him and the ranch, she takes one of the cowboys and leaves behind a curse that dooms the remaining inhabitants to a life that is anything but normal. Now, every month when the moon comes full, each man takes on the form of an animal. Witches, shifters and ancient curses, such is life on the Shifting Sands.

Excerpt

Unlike most anthologies I have read this one begins with a story that will tie all the others together.  The men on Shifting Sands Ranch in Texas have been cursed by their boss’s wife because they are gay.  She is a witch and so the curse comes true.  Each cowboy turns into an animal from the Chinese zodiac.  Daniel, the boss, is the only mythical creature, a dragon.

“Snake Charmer” by Kimberly Gardner

Cy turns into a snake.  Bobby Lee is his lover and love.  Problem, Bobby Lee is afraid of snakes.  Cy knows he needs to tell his Bobby but is so afraid.  This is such a short story segment that it is hard to get a real “feel” for the characters.  I thought the writing was good but the story just didn’t quite catch me.

Roses:  2

“All the Moon Long” by Ally Blue

Judson turns into a rat.  He has had a crush on Woody for a long time.  Woody is difficult to figure out.  He loves animals and collects injured ones.  Judson is usually a fairly level headed guy but just can’t help himself around Woody.  Well written but just like the first one I couldn’t connect to the story or the characters.  It is sweet and cute but missing something.

Roses:  2

“Cock of the Wall” by Willa Okati

Michael turns into a rooster.  Zan is an excitable little guy.  They meet at a dance and Zan won’t give up on have Michael.  Michael fights hard.  I liked Zan’s character, he was a fun guy.  This one was a little better than the first two.  I was laughing and having a good time.  Yes, the story is still shallow but it is well written and the characters are fun.

Roses:  3

“Hare of the Bull” by Brenda Bryce

Gordy turns into an ox.  Tristan is a new addition to the ranch.  He cleans the house and bunkhouse.  He has been abused by his last boyfriend and is scared of all the large men on the ranch.  Gordy can’t help liking the man and of course that means he goes after him.  Like the other stories in this anthology it’s shallow and not real detailed.  I loved the characters.  The writing was well done too but still too short.

Roses:  3

“Lost and Found” by J.L. Langley

Ben turns into a horse.  Shay is a witch.  Shay has been discovered by the cowboys he works with of being a witch and they have decided to do something with him.  Shay escaped but is injured and falls into a stock pond at Shifting Sands Ranch.  Ben and Gordy save him from drowning.  I thought this particular story was very good.  Well written and entertaining.  It was interesting to see if Ben could handle being with a witch.  In my opinion this would have made an excellent longer story.

Roses:  4

“Pulling the Dragon’s Tail” by Jet Mykles

Daniel turns into a dragon.  Russell is the cowboy who betrayed the ranch by sleeping and leaving with Daniel’s wife, the one that cursed them all.  Russell didn’t though, he was spelled into it.  This was a cute story.  Once again not much depth but good overall writing and characterizations.  I loved the little detail about the dragon, like the vision and how Daniel learned how to control his size.

Roses:  3

The ending of the book is a wrapping up of loose ties for the whole of the story.  It’s a cute little anthology but due to the lengths of each individual story very shallow.  I think it would have made a nice series but a so-so for a book.

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500 Miles by Parker Williams

500 Miles Parker500 Miles by Parker Williams
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  MLR Press
Short Story:  12,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble
Roses:  5
 

Mark loves Jase, but will that be enough to bring Jase back from the brink after a devastating tragedy?

Since he was fourteen, Mark knew he loved Jase, his brother Eric’s best friend. As Jase and Eric leave for the Army, Jase leaves Mark something to hold onto, but when the two men are shipped to Kuwait, things change when Jase tells Mark he’s met someone. Confused and hurt, Mark is left to wonder what happened. Eric returns, but with devastating news – and needing Mark’s help. Can Mark help the man who broke his heart? Or will he let Jase push him away – for the second time?

Excerpt

Wow, for a short this was quite amazing.  I really was blown away.  It was so sweet and yet so moving.  Since it is so short it is hard to say much without giving away everything.  The whole of the story is told from the point of view of Mark.  The story starts out with a very young Mark saying goodbye to his brother Eric and his secret love, Jase, as they head for basic.  It is the 80’s and Mark is only 14.  The blurb really left me expecting something very different in the story than what I got.

 

It’s rare to have an author pull off a truly good short story.  There is so little time to set up the story, setting, and characters and then have readers able to make a connection to it all.  I look forward to see if this author can also manage the same with the longer stories.

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The Great Wall: Made in China #1 by Z. Allora

The Great Wall by AlloraThe Great Wall: Made in China #1 by Z. Allora
Reviewer:  Tj
Publisher:  MLR Press
Novel:  75,000 Words
Purchase at Amazon and MLR Press
Roses:  3
 

There’s no gay in China so what’s the drummer of Made in China supposed to do about loving his male best friend when his family thinks he’s engaged to the girl next door?

Jun “Styx” Wong’s heart and mind battle to determine his destiny. His mind tells him to be a good Chinese son and marry the girl his parents chose, but his heart longs for his best friend, Jin, and life with their new band. “Jun” means honesty, but he’s not even honest with himself. A quest to eradicate his feelings for Jin nearly ends his life. Styx’s near death serves as a wake-up call for Jin, whose blond hair–legacy of his German father–marks him as different. Jin harbors secrets of his own. His experiences prepare him to take the drastic measures needed to help Jun overcome the walls surrounding them. Because there is no gay in China…

 Excerpt

Hmmm….interesting story.  I think it would help to understand the difference in custom between America and China with the need to please the family, money and the like.   At times the story just made me want to scream.  It wasn’t that Styx couldn’t support himself but more the responsibility that he felt towards his family.

The writing was excellent.  I could imagine the rockery at “The Lion’s Grove Garden”.  It sounded so pretty.  Jin and Styx were vivid characters, though at times I think Indigo overshadowed everyone.  That was the character though.  He had to be larger than life.  To be honest I have more interest in Indigo and Li and even Tian Di.  What is doing to happen to these three men?  It seemed obvious to me where the story was going in regards to Jin and Styx.   I think I would have enjoyed the story more if I wasn’t so sure of what would happen with Jin and Styx.  The author did a good job with the plot and all it was just a little too “pat”.  It’s a fairly common plot line and it took away from the story.  Still there was plenty of drama and etc in regards to it all occurring though.

I really will read the second book in the series, not so much because I loved this book but because of how the author set it up the story for the next one.

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