Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Imposition by Juniper Bell

Imposition by Juniper Gray
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: Sci-Fi, GLBT
Length: 215 pages

Summary: Therse Bodan is a Navy Lieutenant of exceptional caliber, approached with an offer of his dream position in the upper echelons of Navy Command. Therse is on a transport cruise ship, returning from a far-flung region of space with only his best friend and chronic under-achiever Genham Drisjic for company when he realizes that if he accepts the offer, he and Genham may never see one another again. Therse wants to confess his long-held feelings for Genham but is afraid he might be pushed away.

The arrival of Meitou, a member of the military's secretive elite, aboard their quiet ship throws them into turmoil, forcing Therse to confront events in his past, and making Genham face up to feelings of his own. And the ship itself is no stranger to dark secrets...

In space, no one can hear you weep.

Even a large spaceship can feel too small when your only crewmate keeps getting in your face. Therse Bodan can't get away from Genham Drisjic, isn't sure he wants to, and has a huge desire to smack Gen when they're together. Imposition by Juniper Gray gives us the complicated course of their careers and relationship.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Picture is Worth...

Well, Thursdays are becoming Mondays and Tuesdays for getting a prompt pic up. (Let's all wish Deb at Dark Divas a speedy recovery! We miss her there and it adds to my erraticness here. Is that even a word? It is now.)

I liked this young man sitting by the water, playing his, um, his what? Tell me who he is, what he's playing, and whatever else you can work into a ficlet or an excerpt. A hundred to a thousand words works best. More than one story per pic allowed, because there are so many fabulous imaginations roaming around. We've been getting some super excerpts lately.  I'll post it here, with covers, blurbs, news, and links.

Monday, August 22, 2011

7 Arguments for Assessment

I totally stole this from Janna at Rarely Dusty Books, because it's just such an amazingly good summary of what to look for in a book. I found this after I started reviewing, and it really made me think, and I hope it made me review better.

The seven arguments:

1.Realistic argument -- A book is good (or bad) when it’s projecting the world (un)realistically, when the story’s reality is (un)believable.

2. Moral argument -- A book is good (or bad) when it contains certain ideas about sex, religion, morals or politics.

3. Structural argument -- A book is good (or bad) when its structure is (not) solid, when the story is (not) built/paced well, when there’s (no) consistency.

4. Stylistic argument -- A book is written in a good (or poor) writing style.

5. Innovation argument -- You can learn something from the story. The book contains original ideas and provocative thoughts.

6. Emotivistic argument -- A book has to touch you emotionally. It has to entertain you, move you and captivate you.

7. Intentional argument -- The reader/reviewer assumes that the writer has a certain purpose/intention with his story and assesses whether the author has managed to achieve that goal.

It's probably not possible to touch on every argument in every review, and some of them just don't apply all that much. #5 isn't nearly as big a reason for reading a romance as #6. But still, who wants to read the same sort of take on Subject X from 32 authors?

If #1 isn't on, I'll notice it. Usually that's what I notice first when something isn't working for me. Consistency matters, continuity matters. Adherence to the laws of physics, or at least the laws of that world, matter.

#3 is important to me too, but I can be a little more flexible there if #6 and 1 are working. And if #3 is working really well, I can be flexible even on that highly important #1. # 2 usually isn't an issue in my romance reading unless an issue pops up to beat me over the head: it's happened. And for some reason, #7 is usually an accident for me, and I notice it when some happy author says I noticed it. I guess I figure if #1-6 are humming along, #7 will come automatically. Maybe that isn't a good assumption.

#6 is kind of a given for a romance, but do any of the others especially matter for you?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tea and Crumpet, edited by Josephine Myles

Tea and Crumpet ed. Josephine Myles
Publisher: JMS Books LLC
Genre: Anthology, Contemporary, Erotica, Historical, GLBT
Length: 193 pages

Raise your rainbow umbrellas high and celebrate!

Enjoy this enchanting, entertaining and thought-provoking collection, a heartfelt expression of what it means to be queer in Britain, past and present. All these stories reflect the iconic sights and national character of the British Isles: a taste of our idiosyncrasies and eccentricities, but also an unashamed representation of the love, loyalty and laughter of our people.

Including a wide range of style and subject, this is the perfect way to sample different authors and to find both existing and new favourites. Follow the British way of life from historic villages to modern cities, from the countryside to the sea, through history and with a fantasy twist, in gardens, churches, campus and the familiar, much-loved local pub.

The stories cover universal themes of romance, desire, remembrance and reconciliation. The authors range from multi-published to up-and-coming, and they all share a passion for their characters, whether through great drama, erotic excitement, humour -- or a combination of all three!

Contributors include: Alex Beecroft, Jennie Caldwell, Stevie Carroll, Charlie Cochrane, Lucy Felthouse, Elin Gregory, Mara Ismine, Clare London, Anna Marie May, JL Merrow, Josephine Myles, Zahra Owens, Jay Rookwood, Chris Smith, Stevie Woods, Lisa Worrall, and Serena Yates. Edited by: UK MAT (UK Meet Acquisitions Team).

This anthology is a souvenir of the 2011 UK Meet, an occasion for GLBTQ supporters to get together in a relaxed setting to celebrate and chat about the fiction community they love. Funds from the sale of this anthology will go towards future UK Meets, to which all are welcome.

Oh, my, this is what happens when the constraints of American publishers, American-speak, and standard romance conventions are released. Tea and Crumpet is a charming collection of short stories from British authors in all their native glory.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Call and Answer by Val Kovalin

Call and Answer by Val Kovalin
Publisher: Amber Quill Press
Genre: Contemporary, GLBT
Length: 131 pages

Summary: Small-town Louisiana in 1959 is a dangerous place to have a gay affair. But Henri can't help his instant attraction to Gabriel, a handsome black musician who accepts his advances with amused tolerance. Henri hopes for a summer of hot, uncomplicated sex before he leaves for college. He doesn't realize that Gabriel is a powerful shapeshifter who also lives as an alligator in the bayou.

When Henri first sees Gabriel transform into an alligator, he mistakes him for the Devil. Then he learns that Gabriel exists to raise power through sex-magic. For that, Gabriel needs a human lover. In the past, some lovers have helped Gabriel spend the power for the good of the land, and others have squandered it for personal gain. What will Henri do--given that he never wanted to be a magic-wielder in the first place?

As his summer romance with Gabriel deepens into passionate love, Henri must learn to face responsibility as he encounters prejudice, family feuds, and startling glimpses into the underworlds of New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Can he persuade Gabriel to take a chance on a future with him?


So many things are off the beaten path with Call and Answer--this shapeshifter story is definitely an unique offering. Set in bayou country in the late fifties, the elements of time and place shape but do not overwhelm the plot. Val Kovalin has created something special here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Picture is Worth...

Our last pic netted a tantalizing excerpt of JB McDonald's Dragon Hunted; nothing brings a couple together like the thought of meeting eternity inside a monster's belly.

How about a museum? What kind of story can be told about people looking at paintings and statuary? Or about the art itself?  Any author who has a ficlet or an excerpt for this scene (100 to 1000 words), send it to CryselleC AT gmail DOT com, with blurbs, links, covers, and news, because we want to read it!

I know, it's not Thursday, but posting around another blog's schedule has me going .

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Apologies to everyone who stopped by during the construction; we were trying to make the place more readable, not less.

Note to self; adding a poll screws EVERYTHING up. Apparently the javacode overrides a lot of other instructions. Not doing that again.

But now that you're here, tell me what you think? I'd had a couple of people tell me that reading the white on black gave them after images and that it wasn't pleasant, so, we picked a color that is supposed to match the tones in the picture. Is it too dark to read comfortably?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Thousand Word Thursday Story by JB McDonald

An Excerpt from Dragon Hunted

He whipped around, yanking a knife free before he even realized the voice was just Katsu. He grinned and tucked the blade away. "Katsu! I didn't think anyone was around here!"

"What, you thought I'd leave everyone to get gored by a dragon on their own? What's the point in having a medic?" Katsu tromped through the forest, heedless of breaking branches or snapping twigs. It was almost like he was daring the dragon to come back and eat him -- and Ashe doubted even a dragon had those kind of guts. Katsu'd probably give it indigestion.

Ashe fell in beside Katsu, relieved to have company, glad it was the medic. Somehow, things seemed better with Katsu around. "Do dragons gore people? I don't think they have horns to gore with." Ashe squawked as Katsu slapped the back of his head, sending him stumbling forward. He caught his balance, rubbing his skull. "Bad medic."

Katsu snorted. "Bad medic? Bad elf. Shouldn't you be up with the others trying to kill yourself? Or do you save that for your off time?"

Ashe fell back into step with Katsu. "I save that for my off time. How else am I going to get to see you?"

Where He Belongs by Rachel Haimowitz

Where He Belongs by Rachel Haimowitz
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Genre: Fantasy, GLBT
Length: 31 pages

Summary: The hottest name in network news is Daniel Halstrom. He is a sensation, a rising star. He is also a slave, owned wholly and completely by NewWorld Media.

But before he was a star, he was a frightened child from a bad place with a promising, if limited, future ahead of him. In The New Kid, young Daniel begins his schooling. Then, for a slave, the simple pleasure of a Bathroom Break is sometimes the only pleasure to be had. Later, Daniel doesn't know it, but A Chance Encounter might be the most important of his life. Next, in Camera Obscura, one of Daniel's colleagues reflects on the fact that as much as the camera may show, it can hide even more. Finally, when you're a slave, Independence Day is just another day.

Exclusive Bonus Content!

Excerpt from Anchored by Rachel Haimowitz, the debut novel in the Belonging series
The never-before-published prequel to Anchored
A sneak peek at Counterpunch, the upcoming Belonging novel by Aleksandr Voinov

In a series of very short, flash-length stories, Rachel Haimowitz outlines an entire world, giving hints and glimpses, and somehow managing to build a rather complete society in Where He Belongs. Meant as companion stories to the already published novel Anchored, they still stand alone and completely sucked me in.

Each story is a small gem – Daniel is revealed through others' eyes in three stories and two are in his POV. He's beautiful, bright, and not so beaten down with the pain of being a commodity that he can't dream of more. The alternate universe that contains him isn't explained to death, instead, major societal differences are laid out tidbit by tidbit. With each story, I ached for Daniel and his limited horizons, wishing his world contained more. From the simple skills Daniel came to late, to the crashing importance of someone named Victor, seen only in glimpses and memories, there is a sense of striving, and sometimes of desolation and resignation.

These are vignettes more than stories in a "completed arc" sense, and they are excellent teasers for the larger work, which I am now thoroughly anxious to read. 5 marbles

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Treasure of Love by Scotty Cade

Treasure of Love by Scotty Cade
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: GLBT
Length: 214 pages

Summary: Hunky Alaskan dive master and charter boat captain Jackson Cameron is absolutely sure he’s straight until openly gay treasure hunter Dax Powers calls him and offers him the adventure of a lifetime: Dax and his sister Donatella have found the Anna Wyoming, a ship that went down during the 1889 gold rush on return from Skagway Island—very possibly carrying a fortune in gold.

But real treasure is never free, and this one comes with some heavily armed strings attached. Jack and Dax struggle to keep their small crew safe from a powerful threat while they fight against the attraction they feel for each other. Between the danger of the hunt, the risks in the dive, and the thrill of being lost in passion, Dax and Jack are going to have a hard time holding on to their treasure... and to each other!

Treasure hunters need good maps, good hunches, and a lot of determination to find their booty, and Dax Powers has both when he charters Jack Cameron's dive boat. In Treasure of Love by Scotty Cade, Dax starts by looking for gold but finds a great deal more.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Aisling Book Two: Dream by Carole Cummings

Aisling Book Two: Dream by Carole Cummings
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: Fantasy, GLBT
Length: 408 pages

Summary: What begins as Constable Dallin Brayden escorting the prisoner Wilfred Calder back to Putnam quickly turns into a flight for both their lives. Political betrayal and malicious magic lurk behind every bush and boulder in their flight across the countryside, resulting in Dallin becoming more protector than gaoler, and fostering a growing connection between him and his charge. Haunted by dreams not his own and pursued by just about everyone, Dallin begins to understand that he’s not just protecting Wil out of duty anymore.

As the shadow of Wil’s previous life as a captive and tool continues to loom, the shadow of the man who kept him prisoner looms larger. Forced into a terrifying battle of both will and magic for not only his life, but his soul, Wil discovers that the Aisling is sought by more powerful enemies than the Guild and the Brethren: ancient gods and soul-eating spirits seek what lives inside him as well. And it seems his only salvation may well be Dallin and his goddess, the Mother, against whom Wil has been warned all his life.


It's been worth the wait – the second installment of Carole Cummings' Aisling trilogy is out, at last. I've been going nuts waiting to find out what's happened to Wil and Dallin since I finished Part 1: Guardian. That was a 5 marble read here. Part Two: Dream is every bit as good.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Artie the Good Witch by Scarlet Hyacinth

Artie, the Good Witch by Scarlet Hyacinth
Publisher: Silver Publishing
Genre: Fantasy, GLBT,
Length: 239 pages

Summary: My name is Artie and I have a problem. My dear grandfather Brew died, succumbing to his love for pastries and leaving me all of his possessions. I now officially own a crumbling tower and two black cats. Unfortunately, this means I also have to take on his responsibilities as a wizard, an impossible thing for me, since I am not one. I am a witch, a good witch, and terribly poor at it. My cats are no help, and they only mock me. My parents are off gallivanting Goddess knows where. I suck at casting spells, yet I am supposed to participate in the very important ritual of the Beckoning in Brew's stead.

To top it off, instead of trying to figure things out, I keep drooling over weird men and finding love in all the wrong places. Wizards and necromancers? What's next, a dragon? In my defense, choosing a boyfriend is really difficult when you're trying to resurrect the land and save its ungrateful people. It doesn't help that I have to avoid being seriously hurt by evil geniuses and cackling witches. Help me out here. I pay in hugs and black kittens. For an inquiry, call 0-900-ARTIE-THE-GOOD-WITCH.

Content advisory: This title contains references to near rape.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Winterlude by Tam Ames

Winterlude by Tam Ames
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: GBLT
Length: 22 pages


Summary: Eric hates the cold weather and his broken-down car, which means venturing out on foot into the sub-zero temperatures. Navigating the icy sidewalks, he runs into Omar, literally. An impromptu hot coffee on the cold day findsthat tattooed and pierced Eric and government IT guy Omar might have more in common than they expected. When Omar is called away before Eric can get the guy's number, Eric believes it may only have been a pleasant winterlude to temporarily distract him from the cold. Or is there a possibility his winter will get a lot warmer?

Tam Ames makes the rugged Canadian winter a character in this story. The weather dictates everything: how Omar and Eric meet, how much ogling they can do, where it makes sense to go, and how much effort it's going to be to get undressed. Winterlude is a skirmish against the elements.

The story is sweetly humorous – within a few paragraphs we get a feel for Eric's witty if grumpy personality. Omar can sling the humor right back. His ethnic background is more a getting to know you talking point than a plot point, but it's good to see a character with a different cultural viewpoint.

The men are in easy accord; their trajectory from snowy street to bed is pretty straight. The story's charm lies in the banter, the sex, and the struggle with the winter more than any struggle with each other. It's a nice pick-me-up on a day you need a smile. 3.5 marbles