Monday, July 30, 2012

Booyah Books! Hot Summer Reads

Hey everyone, Lisa from The Novel Approach is back with another edition of Booyah Books:

Summer’s in full swing and I don’t know what it’s like in where you live, but the Midwest has decided to do its best impression of Death Valley, so my plan for the month of July was pretty much to stay cool and read some great books.
I was all over the place again this month and discovered a handful of new-to-me authors in a variety of genres in the process.
So, time to share!
Fantasy/Literary Fiction/Non-Traditional Romance
King Perry by Edmond Manning
Honestly, I’ve run out of ways to say how much I loved this book. There are some books you read, then there are books you experience, and King Perry is most definitely an experience unlike any I’ve ever had.
It’s the journey of a man, Perry Mangin, whose adult life and relationships are all influenced by his father’s untimely death, when Perry was just a boy. Perry wears the scars of his father’s unintentional abandonment like a permission slip to live a could’ve/should’ve/would’ve/didn’t sort of existence. Perry Mangin is a Lost King, you see, and it’s this book’s narrator, humble auto mechanic Vin Vanbly, who is the navigator on Perry’s journey to give absolution and, ultimately, to become one of the Found.
Vin is unlike any narrator I’ve ever encountered. He’s smart and quirky and funny and sees things just a little bit differently than most people do, but what he does best is give freely of his love and passion and compassion. There are no lengths Vin is unwilling to go to for the men he chooses to King, and he does it with a fervent belief in the healing that comes along with the truths he helps these men to see.
While this book is not a romance, it is utterly romantic. The book doesn’t have a traditional happy ending, but it ends happily. It’s a part of Dreamspinner Press’ Bittersweet Dreams collection, but while I good-cried, I found the story far more sweet than bitter. It’s seductive and as enchanting as any fairy tale I’ve ever read, and Edmond Manning completely charmed and disarmed me with both his humor and the heartfelt joy with which he tells this beautiful story.
Buy King Perry HERE.



YA Fantasy
(In)visible by Anyta Sunday
Surprising. Magical. Unbelievable.
Those are the final three words of Anyta Sunday’s wondrous novel and to be perfectly honest, there are no three words I could come up with that would better sum up all that this book was for me. Part coming-of-age story, part fairy tale, part fantasy, part love story, this novel is so much more than I’d expected it would be when I began reading. It’s a journey of self-discovery for two young men, filled with all the teenage angst of awakening sexuality, first love, the first kiss, and the bitterness of loss when fate and misfortune burden Rune and Scott with the curse of witnessing the harshest realities of the world around them, all too soon.
From the opening paragraphs of this book, as Rune stands at the edge of a river, contemplating yet another attempt at ending his own life—as he’s done every year for the past three years—the mystery and the need to unravel the tangled threads of his affliction begins. Rune is invisible, you see, which I’d mistakenly believed to be a metaphor for a lost child who’d been overlooked, ignored, dismissed, and become dispensable, but it soon became very clear that I was wrong. No, Rune is not the unseen; he is quite literally the invisible, a curse handed down to him by his mother, and one that figures prominently into every aspect of this narrative. Rune is the personification of magic and mystery and it didn’t take but a few sentences for him to cast his spell on me.
The journey with Rune and Scott was not an easy one to make; in fact, I had myself completely prepared for a tragic ending, but it was indeed magical and unique and absorbing, and I read all two-hundred-nine pages in a single setting. I guess I loved it pretty well.
Buy (In)visible HERE. *This book is self-published and available only in Kindle format.*



YA Contemporary
Don’t Let Me Go by J.H. Trumble
I’m not going to lie to you; I had a hard time getting through this book. I ugly cried like nobody’s business, but all the anxiety was so worth it for me in the end.
Nate Schaper and Adam Jeffries’ love story is one for the ages until a chapter of their romance rewrote itself and rather than happily-ever-after, they became yet another tragic ending, overwhelmed by the weight of expectations and the burden of miscommunication. Where there ought to have been trust there was doubt and where that doubt was allowed to fester, it thrived, and just when it seemed they’d put paid to all the misunderstandings, Nate himself put the final exclamation point on how far adrift he and Adam had gone.
Theirs is a love that’s tested by a brutal crime, a crime, which I discovered from J.H. Trumble, was loosely based upon an actual hate crime that ended far more tragically, and though their love withstands the horrific aftermath of that violence, it survives only to be tested again and again, by bitter regret and insecurity, by a distance of miles that causes a distancing of emotions, by a blatant manipulation that severs what should’ve been an unbreakable bond, and in the end, by a misguided farewell that eviscerates their relationship and leaves it hemorrhaging its lifeblood all over a future that never had a chance to become.
This book is filled with angst and conflict, heartbreak and hope, anger and betrayal, misunderstanding and hurt, damnation and redemption, destruction and recovery, judgment and forgiveness and finally, healing. It’s a love-overcoming-the-odds story, and while I had myself fully prepared for a variety of endings, the one I got was probably for the best.
Buy Don’t Let Me Go HERE.



Free Read (Historical)
Roses in the Devil’s Garden by Charlie Cochet
It was an Ava March/Charlie Cochet kind of month for me. In other words, I read a lot of their work, and I was NOT disappointed. If you love Regency Romance, I’d definitely recommend giving Ava March’s Brook Street series a go, but before I get too far off topic, let’s talk Charlie.
I was introduced to her through this free story she did for the M/M Romance Group at Goodreads, but don’t worry if you’re not a Goodreads or even a Group member. You can get the story at All Romance E-Books too.
Roses in the Devil’s Garden is a short and sublime little story set in New York City during the height of prohibition in the United States, when the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution made it illegal to manufacture, transport, sell, and consume liquor in America, but the Amendment did more than further the agenda of the American Temperance movement; it was also the catalyst for the swell of organized crime in the US, as well as fostering rampant corruption within law enforcement, which is often a side-effect that comes along when enterprising men exercise the ability to exploit power and human want for financial gain. There was no gray area in those days: there were good guys and there were bad guys, and sometimes it was difficult to tell the difference between the two until you found yourself on the wrong end of a gun.
Agents Harlan Mackay and Nathan Reilly care about doing the job they were hired to do, even though they don’t care very much at all for the temperance movement itself or for the corruption it has bred. Their jobs involve nabbing the small fish that swim in the much larger pond of criminal activity, attempting to bait and hook the much bigger fish that remain in the shadows and who are the untouchables.
A man from Nathan’s past resurfaces, a man Nathan thought had died during World War I, but he suddenly turns up in their precinct’s interrogation room, attempting to work a little information out of one of those proverbial small fish Harlan and Nathan had just nabbed in a speakeasy sting, and while Danny’s at it, he also tries to work his way back into Nathan’s life. Danny Brogan is Nathan’s childhood friend and his first love and he is a temptation the likes of which Nathan has not faced since he fell in love with and committed himself to Harlan. Danny is the Devil’s garden where temptation is the poisonous thorn on every rose, a poison that could very well kill what Harlan and Nathan have worked so hard to grow.
Every single thing about this book drew me in: the title, the cover, the setting, the time period, the writing style, and most of all, the men who populated the piece. Though it’s a short story and I didn’t get to spend much time getting to know Harlan and Nathan, I was immediately attracted to them, individually and as a couple.
This is the first book in a new series and it sets things up perfectly for a budding romance between Danny and Detective John Flynn, a man Harlan and Nathan literally talked down from the ledge of despair and a man I can’t wait to get to know better. There is also a secondary character, Julius, who plays a small but significant role in the story who’ll be getting his own book in the series as well.
I’ve since read every single thing Charlie Cochet has currently published and wasn’t disappointed in a single one of her books. In fact, I’d also recommend checking out The Auspicious Troubles of Chance, another historical set against the backdrop of the French Foreign Legion. Chance, Jacky, and the boys are pretty amazing too.
Download Roses in the Devil's Garden HERE.
And that brings a close to another month of Booyah Books! Until next month, happy reading!
Lisa
The Novel Approach

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hero Contest at ARE

So the news is that Malic is in the hero contest at ARE. I know, I was amazed myself.
Malic. Who knew?
But how very cool and all you lovely people who put him in there-- it's all fan based--I want to say thank you. It means a lot to me especially because as traditional heroes go, that's not Malic. He's more of the growly, grouchy, permanently irritated variety. I love that you all saw past that to his gooey marshmallowy center. If you would, once the voting starts, (August 1st) pop over to ARE and vote for the big lug. Thanks everyone. :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Still In Transit...

So still in transit with the move. Not in Kentucky yet, doing a layover in Phoenix but will be there soon. I have had the best time visiting friends but I feel homeless at the same time. I really can't wait for my life to slip back to normal. In the meantime, on Friday the fate anthology is out and in my story, these two here figure distantly. I am looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks so please let me know.

And in other news, the last Jory and Sam book will be out in October. Yeah! It was accepted and I am very excited.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Couple of Things

So in case anyone missed my whining, (and I have been), I'm in the process of moving. Today was the last of the donated stuff, the movers came last Friday, and three days of sleeping on the floor has made me cranky. The car goes on the boat tomorrow and we fly away from Hawaii forever on Wednesaday. I have not written a word in three days and that is enough to send me spiraling into some strange limbo at any second. I need this to be over, I need my routine back, I hate moving. Hate. It.

*breathing*

On a much better note, the lovely Chris at 
Stumbling Over Chaos
is running a contest for the fate anthology that I have coming up with Andrew Grey and Amy Lane. If you get a minute, please pop on over and enter. And oh, I submitted my last Jory and Sam book, so cross your fingers for me that is accepted.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Real Love Shouldn't Hurt

Today I want to welcome the amazing Ellis Carrington to my blog to talk about a topic that is very important to her.


Gina* had blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair. She would have called herself fat, but I called her curvy. She was crazy smart and snarky in the extreme, and she had like…a thousand talents. Everyone was sort of magically drawn to her energy. I think I was thirteen or fourteen when we met, and I loved everything about her.

Except… Except sometimes with our friends, she would make jokes at my expense to get a laugh. She began to pick at the way that I looked. If I screwed something up, I was stupid. If I did something exceptionally well, that was even stupider. Slowly, occasional physical violence cropped up.

Sometimes I think it wasn’t her fault. She was abused as a child. Being gay/bi in a small town is very hard. It was natural for her to lash out. On the other hand, we choose how we respond to situations, don’t we?

It’s true that there was size difference between us, but I think it’s also true that abuse is never about physical power. I came into our eventual relationship on the heels of a violent attack. She started out acting concerned, but then systematically separated me from the rest of our friends (Why doesn’t anyone like me anymore? She’s all I have…). Convincing me I was stupid and needed to lean on her for help in school (After we broke up, I would graduate from high school with honors). Insulting my appearance because she was unhappy with her own. Over time, those things took their toll.

So why don’t people just leave if it’s so awful? Often, the behavior creeps up slowly. At first, you can excuse the warning signs. There’s manipulation, and something that feels an awful lot like love. I thought my girlfriend might get suicidal, and that guilt was hard to handle. A smart abuser removes your safety net. Slowly our circle of friends got smaller, so I had few people around who I thought I could trust. And in same-sex relationships, violent behavior is tough to spot from the outside. It’s even tougher to own up to.  

Eventually I started hitting back. It gave me a false sense of strength. I don’t like to think what that would have escalated into if we’d stayed together much longer. In fact, I tried hard not to think about it for a long time. I believe they call this denial.

Thing is, what we resist persists. This is probably why my first m/m story, an anthology short called After Party, wound up starting with a guy nearly being run over by his jealous boyfriend. That was a different relationship, and that guy got dumped the very next day, because if my relationship with Gina taught me anything it was vigilance.

And while my novella Amor Prohibido is by no means autobiographical, I wound up purging a great deal of my emotions into the story of Jacob and Pakal and their literal journey through Hell. Jacob’s history isn’t mine, but I did lend him some of my experiences to him. Like Jacob, I had a poor relationship with my parents (maybe why I was receptive to being with someone unhealthy), and later used yoga and martial arts to get a handle on my anger. Like Jacob, I learned that while having someone in your life to love you is nice, learning that you are strong enough to fight your own battles is the best thing you can do for yourself. Even if I never got to fight those battles anyplace badass, like the Mayan underworld.  

If any of what I’ve said ever sounds familiar, remember the airplane rule: Help yourself first. Don’t let guilt keep you around. Don’t fall for “But he/she really loves me,” because real love shouldn’t hurt. The first time a person who’s supposed to love us tells us we are fat/stupid/ungrateful/worthless/ugly/etc. we’ve made a wrong turn. Period. If it comes down to it, do what one person I know did and hide money and clothes in the trunk of your car or a backpack somewhere and when the moment presents itself, just go.

People are more willing to help than you realize. Even strangers. If you need it, the following web sites have resources and hotlines that you can call for help:
Bio: 
Ellis Carrington was born after the Christmas of 2010 when she was gifted a Kindle and discovered the gay romance category on Amazon that same day. Sometimes her heroes are human and sometimes they aren’t, because angels and vampires deserve happy endings too. Her favorite things are great friends, great music, and books that make her sob like there’s no tomorrow. Find out more at EllisCarrington.com

Monday, July 2, 2012

Three Fates

So this is the fate anthology that I was lucky enough to work on with Andrew and Amy and it's out on July 27th! Here's the blurb:
 For time immemorial, the goddesses of fate have decided which human threads will shine and which will be cut short. But even the fates have off days.

Fate Delivers a Prince by Andrew Grey: Finding love shouldn’t be that difficult for a diplomat’s son, except Cheyenne is part of a grand tradition of werewolves, and a werewolf with a skin condition needs more help than most mortals. When Chay meets the prince of his dreams, it takes Clotho’s intervention to keep him from letting go.

Jump by Mary Calmes: When two lovers die, their threads of life are collected instead of scattered, as one of them was the brother of a god. Can the fates reunite two lovers whose threads should have twined together for eternity? Or will Cassidy allow Raza’s interest to pass his pale, mortal self by?

Believed You Were Lucky by Amy Lane: The gods’ meddling isn’t always welcome. It’s given Lief good luck but poor fortune, and Hacon a family curse he’s lived in fear of all his life. But when Lief’s good luck saves Hake’s life, Hake has to reevaluate everything he’s ever believed about luck, life, and love.

Booyah Books! The Long, Hot Summer

Hey everyone, the wonderful Lisa from
 The Novel Approach is back  to give us another installment of Booyah Books!

It's hard to believe the month of June has already come to an end. In fact, it's hard to believe this year's half over already. Kind of amazing how fast time flies when your nose is almost constantly buried in a book, yeah? It was a mixed bag of reading experiences for me this month, so since I read some great books in a variety of different sub-genres, I think I'll break things down that way, just to make it a bit easier, 'kay? 'Kay. Without further ado, here we go:

Romantic Comedy:

I'm just going to come right out and say it: I love Ethan Day's sense of humor. He manages to do snark like no one else I've ever read, and just when you think his characters couldn't take life and love less seriously, they find someone who makes them want to take life and love way seriously. I know I probably say this with every new Ethan Day release, and I do sincerely mean it each and every time: Second Time Lucky is my favorite book yet.

Luke Landon and Owen West get a second chance at love. They were young and kind of scared, for lack of a better word, of the way the felt about each other when they began dating in college. They didn't break up as much as they ran away from each other, which is pretty much Luke's M.O. - when the going gets tough, he gets going as fast as he can in the opposite direction. Fast forward fifteen years, to Luke's birthday party, a party to which none of his friends show up(!), and there you go - the perfect setting for Owen to catch Luke when he's at his most vulnerable.

Owen is as steady as Luke is changeable, and watching them work and fight and grow and make mistakes with each other was both funny and hugely rewarding. The failure of Owen’s eleven year long relationship with his ex, Tommy, wasn’t due to his lack of commitment but from his being with the wrong man. And it could be argued that Luke’s failure to commit to one man wasn’t based in a lack of ability but was due to the lack of the right man in his life—the right man being Owen, and the right time being the moment they saw each other again after so many years spent drifting through life, waiting for the right one and the right time to come along.

They are realistically imperfect men who are realistically perfect for each other, and their story is one I can’t recommend highly enough for being touching and clever and so very romantic.
Buy Second Time Lucky HERE.

Young Adult:

If you came of age anytime during the '80s and believed John Hughes' movies were the epitome of the fictional teenage experience, movies like "Sixteen Candles" and "The Breakfast Club", then I can't recommend John Goode's Tales from Foster High series highly enough.

This series follows Foster, Texas high school seniors, Kyle Stilleno (the brain and maybe a little bit of the basketcase, too) and Brad Greymark, the athlete—the invisible nerd and the popular jock—who fall in love and endure the trials and turmoil of coming-of-age and coming out in a small, conservative north Texas town. Theirs is a story of courage in the face of fear, and of standing up for yourself, your beliefs, and for those who are powerless to stand up for themselves when confronted with bigotry and discrimination within the establishment. They are two boys from very different walks of life who discover that their home lives maybe aren’t so different after all, and who are both attempting to cope with their roles as sons within highly dysfunctional families, as they’ve each built invisible walls around themselves to mask their burdens.

In a relationship where their roles might otherwise be defined by expectation, Kyle and Brad discover that who they are—or who they believed themselves to be—is influenced and transformed by how much they grow to care for and want to protect each other from those who would make them suffer for the sake of their differences. The brain becomes the brawn in their relationship as Kyle, along with his mother, Brad’s parents, and a whole host of others fight the powers-that-be to defend Brad’s right to be treated fairly and equally.

I can’t begin to praise the three novellas in this series enough, beginning with Maybe with a Chance of Certainty, through End of the Beginning, and finally to Raise Your Glass. John Goode has introduced two heroes who are nothing less than wonderful, engaging, and courageous.
The author infuses these books with humor and warmth and angst, perfectly capturing the power of first love and skillfully depicting what it means to fight for and be proud of who you are.
Buy Maybe with a Chance of Certainty, End of the Beginning, and Raise Your Glass HERE.

Epic Fantasy:

I've been praising Carole Cummings and the Wolf's-own series since Chapter One of the first book wormed it's way into my head and heart and refused to let go.

Incendiary is the fourth and final installment in this legendary journey of two men who must learn exactly who it is they're meant to be before they can be anything close to whom the other needs. It's mythology and magic, action and adventure, as well as a story of the transformative power of love and the discovery that that most monumental of emotions doesn't make a man weak but brings him the strength and courage he needs to accept himself exactly the way he is.

The Wolf’s-own series is an experience; that’s all there is to say. It is a feast for those who love to dig beneath the surface to the symbolism beneath, and a journey for the reader, a puzzle that just begs to be solved and an unforgettable adventure.
Buy Incendiary HERE.

Literary Fiction - Non-Romance:

Joshua Martino's Fontana is a brilliant book. And I don’t mean that solely in the intellectually brilliant sense of the word; I mean that it is also luminous and powerful, and it made me angry and it made me cry, and it’s been some time since I’ve read a book that engendered such a strong emotional reaction in me.

This book is told in the first person by sports journalist Jeremy Rusch and is the story of baseball player Ricky Fontana, set during one epic season when the twenty-year-old wunderkind held America’s pastime and, indeed, the world in the pocket of his mitt and the sweet spot of his bat.

During one memorable summer, when nearly every baseball fan’s (and many non-fan’s) attention was trained on the Mets and a young man from Rhode Island who was set to break the long standing records of two of the sport’s greatest—Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio—and doing so in a single, monumental season, Jeremy was struggling with the failure of his marriage, alcoholism, and the near anonymity of a career that would change dramatically with just one scoop, a single byline that would set him apart from his colleagues and propel him from the dregs of mediocrity. Jeremy accidentally finds that scoop in his pursuit of Ricky, and in a moment of avarice, trades his personal integrity for career gain, opening a Pandora’s Box and releasing a storm of bigotry and intolerance upon Ricky, a gay athlete. “On a warm, wet June night, I said yes.” And at that moment, the moment Jeremy Rusch traded his soul for a story, my heart broke just a little for a fictional athlete named Ricky Fontana.

Fontana is the story of a young hero whose meteoric rise and subsequent crash back to earth, puts him in the center of a Salem-Witch-Hunt that overshadows his incredible accomplishments in the sport that means everything to him. Ricky only ever wanted to play ball, but instead becomes the poster child in the raging debate over gay athletes. In spite of his best efforts to pay for his privacy, the public ends up taking its pound of flesh in their “right to know” everything about him, and in that violation, Ricky, a man of integrity and loyalty and incredible courage, remains strong and focused and succeeds in doing what many thought was the impossible.

And then, at the age of twenty, his legend both tarnished and secure in the annals of baseball, Ricky fades into history.

Fontana is a book within a book, a story that Jeremy has written chronicling his own personal losses and triumphs, as well as those of Ricky Fontana. It is both Jeremy’s personal account of that summer, as well as a series of interviews with Ricky’s ex-lover Peter Morgenstern, that comes together in an outstanding novel that should make everyone examine the need to label and the fascination with what goes on in the privacy of a person’s bedroom.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It will be a long while before I can think about Ricky and his struggles and triumphs without a lump coming to my throat and a tear coming to my eye.

Fontana will be available for purchase on July 16, 2012, HERE.

Historical - Mystery/Suspense:

Danger, extortion, betrayal, and homophobia welcome Charlie Harris and an incriminating photograph to Whistle Pass, Illinois, a photo that is allegedly being used to blackmail Mayor Roger Black with a threat that could derail that man’s ambitious pursuit of the office of state representative if the picture is ever leaked to the press.

Charlie has been summoned.

”Need you.” Two words that years before had meant something coming from the lips of someone Charlie believed had loved him. Those two little words effectively do their part to tempt Charlie to Whistle Pass, where, rather than finding the man he’d fallen in love with in the trenches of World War II, he discovers an ambitious politician (and married man) in his place, and also learns, in a painful way, that politics in this city are intimately acquainted with corruption.

Involving hotel manager Gabe Kasper in the danger that has suddenly become Charlie’s life was not a part of the plan, but recognizing a kindred and sympathetic spirit in Gabe, that’s exactly what Charlie unintentionally does when he hands the photo over to the man for safe keeping. Falling in love with each other was also not part of the plan, but that’s exactly what happens as the two men become embroiled in what amounts to a nasty domestic situation with further reaching implications, revealed as the twists and turns keep wending their way through this story.

Whistle Pass has a lot to offer: mystery, intrigue, suspense, some homegrown justice, and an unlikely—some may say near impossible—romance between two men in 1955. Charlie’s particular affliction and the sense that he’d found safety and no small measure of comfort in Gabe was a lovely contrast to the hope they might overcome the odds of building a successful relationship in a time when their attraction to each other was equated with mental illness. It lends a bittersweet feel to the novel, while the setting and KevaD’s writing gives the book a noir-ish sense that complemented the plot very well. The well written characters, both major and minor, only added to my need to finish this book in near record time.

This book languished in my TBR pile for what seems like forever. The best compliment I can pay to it is that I could kick myself for waiting so long to bump it to the top of the heap.

Buy Whistle Pass HERE.

And that's it for another month of Booyah Books! Until next time, happy reading!