Review: WAVE GOODBYE TO CHARLIE by Eric Arvin

51qhmyM0aTLWAVE GOODBYE TO CHARLIE By Eric Arvin

Fantasy / Second edition released April 3, 2017 by Dreamspinner Press / (First edition published by Wilde City Press October 2014)

My name’s Charlie. I’m many things, though none of them having to do with any real talent. I’m a runaway, a hustler when I need to be, a ghost when I have to scare hoodlums away from my home, and a loner who maybe reads too much. But most of all, I’m the keeper of the carnival. That’s how I see myself. I look after the place ’cause even dying things need to be cared for. Maybe it’s illegal. Maybe that rusty metal fence around the carnival is supposed to keep me out too. Or maybe me and this place were meant to find each other. Truth is, I never felt at home anywhere but here, not even in all the foster families and orphanages I was placed in as a young shit. They don’t look for me no more, those places. I suspect I ran away so much they finally just said, “Fuck! Let him go.” I am a hangnail on society’s manicured middle finger. I’m older. One year past the age anyone gives a shit. 

And this is my adventure…

I am an eclectic reader. I look for interesting stories of all genres. As a reviewer, I get a lot of emails from publishers on new releases. When I received an email from Dreamspinner Press about rereleasing WAVE GOODBYE TO CHARLIE I was fascinated by the amazing cover by artist John Coulthart. I just had to read the book.

WOW.

Seriously, I mean WOW.

The fact that this is a M/M story is inconsequential. This is an adventure in this world and the next. A story of friendship, and loyalty and the power of love versus evil. A page-turner of epic standards full of twists and turns, none of which I saw coming.

Eric Arvin, I am a fan and this will not be the last book of yours that I read.

Review: LOVE’S TETHERED HEART by C.L. Etta

51br1r9nfdlLOVE’S TETHERED HEART By C.L. Etta

GLBT Contemporary Romance / Released Jan 2, 2017 by Dreamspinner

 

BOOK BLURB: Two years ago Mico and his partner suffered a savage gay bashing that left Mico a quadriplegic—and ended his dreams of traveling the world as an archaeologist. Abandoned by the man he loved, he lives in isolation, tethered to his bed by the machines keeping him alive, with only his caretakers and immediate family as companions.

Assigned to interview Mico and uncover the story behind his assault and his refusal to identify his attackers, journalist Danny is unprepared for his reaction to the fragile enigmatic man. Mico is afraid to let Danny into his life, and Danny is unsure how to change his mind. Mico is also keeping secrets, and he isn’t the only one. Danny is determined to protect Mico, and he’s determined to show Mico that their feelings for each other can thrive amidst the mechanics of Mico’s existence.

The premise of this book really intrigued me: A romance that included a paraplegic. A real challenge and C.L. Etta handled it beautifully.

With an air of mystery and a sigh of romance, this book held so many page-turning elements. The characters were multidimensional with an excellent balance between backstory and the present.

I grew so close to these characters that the day after finishing the book I had the urge to give Danny and Mico a call to see how they were doing.

C.L. Etta didn’t just write a book, she told a damn good story. Thank you for the journey.

Donna’s favorite reads in 2015

The December column is always my favorite because I get to look back at my favorite reads from the year.

Duke City Desperado2015 saw the third book in the Duke City series by Max Austin released in June. DUKE CITY DESPERADO was a fun frolic through the misadventures of Dylan James and his buddy Doc who tried to rob a bank through the drive-up window.

Yeah, most of us would see the folly in this right from theDuke City Hit start but Doc, well, his perspective was skewed. It comes as no surprse that Doc was immediately captured but Dylan manages to stay about a half-step away from the law through a crazy set of circumstances that only Max Austin can deliver.

517UBdb43dL._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_Each book in the series stands alone with one common element: Alburburque, New Mexico. If you like crime from a slightly tweeked angle you’ve got to give the Duke City series a go.

 

 

The Jamie Sinclair series by Nichole Christoff is a hit for me. The debut 51U7daFZDcL._AC_UL320_SR242,320_was THE KILL LIST where Jamie and the baggage she calls “ex-husband” try to rescue his three-year-old daughter from kidnappers. In the course of her investigation she meets her love interest Adam Barrett who feeds stray dogs. Ladies, can I get a collective *sigh* on this?

51JHDkkSCwL._AC_UL320_SR240,320_THE KILL SHOT  goes international as Jamie tries to understand what send Adam rogue.

THE KILL BOX dives into Adam’s past when he returns 515VW7PtWhL._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_home unexpectedly and Jamie is hired by his grandmother to investigate his bizarre behavior.

Tightly written, with great insight to military life, Christoff delivers a fast-paced series for the romantic suspense crowd. I definitely recommend you grab all three.

41nV2oVnGZL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Another series that grabbed me was the urban fantasy series HIDDEN by Colleen Vanderlinden. I stumbled onto the books from a free give-away on FB and didn’t stop reading until the last book.

The first book, LOST GIRL, introduces us to Molly Brooks, a telepathic vigilante with a passion for finding lost girls. 519utj1FxaL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Fast paced, funny and heartwrenching this series delivers a host of fascinating supernatural characters in a highly imaginative world.

From the first page to the last this series is gold. I haven’t delved into Ms. Vanderlinden’s other series but they are certainly on my TBR pile.

 

Up From the GraveUP FROM THE GRAVE was the exit in the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost. I enjoyed the strong willed vampire killing Kat and her teacher/husband Bones escapades and all the characters from that world, many have found series of their own.

While this wasn’t the best book in the series it is still a must read once you’ve dived into the tale and I do recommend that you enter their world.

 

Bronze FoxThe paranormal adventure BRONZE FOX by Diana Green was a delight. Tobias is a fox-shifter and Etty a street-wise ball of fire are teamed up in an adventure that is part Stargate, part steampunk and all adventure. Author of the Dragon Clan series, Ms. Green has written a wonderful tale. The only complaint I had was that I would have like the romance to take a little longer, I was enjoying the dance. BTW, Ms. Green also designed the gorgeous cover.

51CRFtWro3L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_This year saw the final installment in the Unknown Assassin series by Allen Zadoff. The first book I AM THE WEAPON introduced us to Boy Nobody. Taken at an early age and transformed into a teenage assassin, Boy Nobody was always the new kid in school, becoming who ever he needed to in order to get the job done. All went well until he started asking questions.

I loved the series and the final book, I AM THE TRAITOR gave a satisfying I am the Traitorending to these fast paced and intriguing books. This award winning series has been translated into over a dozen languages and has been optioned by Sony Pictures. Great for teens and adults.

 

An Untamed StateRoxane Gay delivers the powerful tale of Mireille Duval Jameson in AN UNTAMED STATE. While visiting family in Haiti Mireille was ripped from her fairy tale life and held for ransom. Knowing her father would never pay, this strong-willed woman fought to survive the horrific abuses inflicted on her by her captors.

The true power of this story comes in the second half of the book, after Mireille has been released by the kidnappers. Her journey back from the trauma was something I could not stop reading.

 

51HRGdMz39L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I requested a review copy of this book because Barney Teegarden just seemed like the kind of guy whose company I would enjoy. I was right. COMING BACK by John Inman was a wonderful tale of people who look out for each other with tenderness and humor. I look forward to grabbing the first two books in this series.

 

51sUwrukhPL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_This last book in my list of 2015 favorites is THE SOUND OF GLASS by New York bestselling author Karen White.

The generational effects of domestic violence are at the heart of this story. The story opens with a tragic plane crash in 1955 near the home of Edith Heyward in Beauford, South Carolina that deposits a suitcase in Edith’s yard and leaves the reader with a mystery.

Fast forward to 2014, Merritt Heyward loses her firefighter husband but inherits his family home in Beaufort where she meets the brother-in-law she didn’t know she had. Arriving in Beaufort on Merritt’s heel is her too-young stepmother, Loralee, and her half brother, Owen.

White brilliantly guides us through the awkward interactions of four people who seemingly have little in common as they grow to become a family. Rich details, compelling characters and numerous secrets keep you engaged until the last page. I loved this book.

Donna writes the review column The Eclectic Express for the Book Breeze.

Review: SUTPHIN BOULEVARD by Santino Hassell

Sutphin BoulevardSutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell

Dreamspinner Press GLBT

Very much an adult story – not just due to the sex, but because of the situations and themes. This is no sweet romance – Michael and Nunzio have been best buddies for most of their lives, , but an unexpected sexual encounter changes the dynamic of their friendship just as Michael’s family is falling apart under the burden of his alcoholic father who has come home after abandoning the family years before. The pressure creates problems for Michael at work – he teaches in an inner-city high school — and exacerbates his own issues. When his father dies of the illness created by the alcoholism, Michael goes into a death spiral that lands him in a rehab center, where he finally confronts his own alcoholism, and his own emotions.

I am not a big-city person, but this novel would have to be set in a big city and Hassell wears New York like it was tailored for him. Even the minor characters are unique individuals, and besides heaving a sigh of relief when Michael finally gets his act together, I found myself with a strong admiration for anybody teaching in the NYC school system.

Not a light read, but one I couldn’t put down.

Got to give this one an A … that is, 5 paws up.

Review provided by Ace Katzenbooks for the October 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.

Review: THE LANGUAGE OF HOOFBEATS by Catherine R Hyde

The Language of HoofbeatsThe Language of Hoofbeats by Catherine R Hyde

Lake Union Publishing GLBT

This month brought me a couple of books I would probably not have chosen to read for recreation. Both deal with some difficult situations in problematic environments that are polar opposites.

“Hoofbeats” is set in rural California. The main POV narrator, Jackie Archer-Cummings, is moving with her wife Paula and their adopted son Quinn to a small town of Easly. Also with them are two foster teens, a troubled teenage girl named Star and a young man of Guatemalan descent, Mando, whose mother is in prison on a falsified charge. The reason for the move is Paula’s career – she’s a veterinarian who had been unable to set up her own practice in Napa Valley due to an overabundance of vets. In Easly, she will be the one-and-only vet around. Though this was a plan Jackie agreed to, she finds herself isolated and lonely as a stay-at-home mom to the kids.

The prospect of making new friends seems dim when her first contact with the neighbor across the road is a shrill complaint from an angry middle-aged woman who objects to Star trespassing to visit her horse. Clementine D’Antonio is nobody’s friendly neighbor; she seems to exist to attack anyone and everyone who comes near her, and upon finding the new arrivals to be a same-sex couple, she immediately runs back home and starts complaining to her husband. And for her husband Vernon, that is the last straw; after many years of enduring her displeasure with the world, he packs up and walks out.

This could so easily have been a dance of cardboard characters, but over the course of the story the reader gradually comes to know and understand even the least likeable of them. This is a terrific story because it allows the characters – even the youngest, Quinn – to grow and change. I hadn’t expected to like this novel very much, but it drew me in and even though I really could not identify much with any of the characters (for instance, I would not want to take responsibility for a teenage girl with the habit of running away), I’m glad to have met these folks and wish them well.

Five hoofprints!

Review: COMING BACK by John Inman

51HRGdMz39L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_COMING BACK (The Belladonna Arms #3) by John Inman

GLBT Romance Dreamspinner Press

Barney Teegarden knows what it’s like to be alone. He knows what it’s like to have a romantic heart, yet no love in his life to unleash the romance on. With the help of a friend, he acquires a lease in a seedy apartment building perched high on a hill in downtown San Diego. The Belladonna Arms is not only filled with the quirkiest cast of characters imaginable, it is also famous for sprinkling love dust on even the loneliest of the lovelorn.

At the Arms, Barney finds friendship, acceptance, and an adopted family that lightens his lonely life. Hell, he even finds a cat. But still true love eludes him.

When his drag queen landlord, Arthur, takes it into his head to rescue a homeless former tenant, he enlists Barney’s help. It is Barney who shows this lost soul how to trust again—and in return Barney discovers love for the first time in his life.

I requested a review copy of this book because Barney Teegarden just seemed like the kind of guy whose company I would enjoy. I was right. I loved this book and the residents of The Belladonna Arms. Inman tells this tale of people who look out for each other with tenderness and humor. I look forward to grabbing the first two books in this series.

Review: PRIDE OF POPPIES: Modern GLBTQ fictions of the Great War

414YDznlGlL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Pride of Poppies: Modern GLBTQI fictions of the Great War

Authors: Julie Bozza, Barry Brennessel, Charlie Cochrane, SamEvans, Lou Faulkner, Adam Fitzroy, Wendy C. Fries, Z. McAspurren, Eleanor Musgrove, Jay Lewis Taylor

Manifold Press (April 2015)

This is anthology of WWI-related stories about LGBT people coping with war. Some of the characters are in the military, some are civilians, but none are unscathed. And—realistically—some of them don’t survive.

These stories are all good, although one had a confusing juxtaposition of flashbacks that broke concentration. A minor issue, but one that did pull me out of the story.

My favorites? Per Ardua Ad Astra, because of the incredible research Lou Faulkner did. Follow the Wikipedia link in his afterword. You will not believe the design of that airplane. The Men Left Behind—a transgender boy who can’t fight because he’s living in a girl’s body. And perhaps my very favorite, Ành Sàng, set in what was known as French Indochina – Vietnam. I like stories that teach me something, and this explained a lot about the roots of the Vietnam war. Did you know Vietnamese men were drafted to fight for the French in WWI? Neither did I.

Some of the profits from this book go to the Royal British Legion, a support group for the British armed forces. The change in the world shows even here—50 years ago, that organization would probably not have wanted funds raised by a queer book. Today, they were happy to accept.

If I have one small criticism, it’s in the layout. When a collection has more than one story by the same author, it’s hardly necessary to put the author’s bio after each story. A page or two at the end would have kept the focus on the stories. Also, a summary of each story was put at the end – where no one would look for it until after the stories were read. This would have made more sense at the beginning…

A good collection of stories, and an excellent reminder that even when things are tough, we can remember that for LGBT people a hundred years ago, they were much more dangerous.

This review was provided by Ace Katzenbooks for the Sept 2015 issue of The Book Breeze.