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Rainy Days and Mondays

Blurb: Don’t let rainy days or Mondays get you down. Let the boys of the Rainy Days Taste Test brighten you up instead!
In I Don’t Like Mondays, by GR Richards, Brent and Mitch are having a rotten commute in to work. Going home to change clothes makes the rain go away pretty quickly.
In Encore, by Mercy Loomis, bandmates Derrick and Nate have great chemistry onstage, but it takes a certain kind of rainy night to really get them making music together.
And in Rain Delay by Taylor Lochland, Aaron loves spending time with his young lover, Nathan. What he doesn’t love is all of the interruptions that a thriving farm and a busy veterinarian practice give them. Can they tale advantage of a rainy day and snatch a few glorious hours of pleasure?

My thoughts: The title of this Taste Test attracted me because I like rainy days. So I had to give this one a try; I didn’t know any of the authors before. There isn’t too much to say really, the stories are all extremely short and just show a glimpse of the life of the guys.

The first story is extremely short. Brent and Mitch are just having a good time and make a decision at the end as to what their future is going to be like. Quick and nice read.

The second story is slightly longer and reminded me of some other plots out there. Two band members, one in love with the other, the other has no clue. Add a little bit of D/s and you have an entertaining short story.

In the third story we encounter the problems a couple has when one of the guys is still living with his parents. Pretty entertaining as well, even though it is hard to believe how blind or how much in denial the parents must be.

“Rainy Days and Mondays” is uncomplicated and fast to read. Good if you don’t expect a complex story and any kind of ramifications. Liked it.

Available at Torquere Books

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The new boy in town

I’m a big Archie fan. I used to read it years ago, then stopped and got back into it recently when news came out that Archie is going to marry Veronica. Thank God that that statement turned out to be somewhat misleading.

I learned today, with a few days delay, that there is a new boy in town, Kevin Keller. Kevin is gay and obviously needs to fight off Veronica’s advances. Sounds like fun, too bad he will be introduced for the first time in “Veronica” in September and not in the Archie comic itself. But maybe in time he will make his appearance there, too. I sure hope so.

Anyway, it’s nice to see that Archie keeps up with the zeitgeist.

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Found by Sean Michael

Blurb: Billy has no idea what prompts him to take in a ragged, dirty man off the streets. All he knows is that Montana calls to him somehow, and that he always listens to his instincts. Montana, or Tanny, thinks that Billy is crazy, because nobody is that nice. Not in his experience, anyway.

Tanny brings all sorts of problems with him, from addiction to trouble with the police. Billy is determined to make Montana whole again, and he thinks he knows just the thing to replace Tanny’s favorite high. All Billy has to do is help Montana get back on his feet, and then he can teach Tanny all about his lifestyle.

Too bad no one believes that Tanny is redeemable, least of all Tanny. Billy’s friends threaten to become overprotective, the people who populated Tanny’s life on the street pop up at the most inopportune moments, and Tanny thinks that Billy is far too good for him, a homeless guy fresh off the reservation, scarred and way less than perfect.

Can Billy convince Tanny to give him, and their newfound relationship, a chance? Or will the reality of Billy’s lifestyle scare Tanny off just when life is starting to get good again?

My thoughts: “Found” is a “Hammer novel”, a series of books all revolving about a members-only BDSM club called the Hammer. This is my first Hammer story and I can’t say I learned a lot about that club. Apart from the fact that Oliver (one of Billy’s overprotective friends) seems to be somehow involved, possibly as an owner) we don’t get any information whatsoever. It is mentioned a few times, but Billy never goes there during the time covered here and Montana shows no interest in it whatsoever.

Obviously the only Hammer connection is the circle of friends of Billy’s who are all living the same lifestyle. And that circle of friends deserves the name, too. They are all extremely caring, protective – up to a point where you are inclined to tell them to back off – and make sure that everybody in the community is being looked after. A nice change from the meddlesome but rather egoistical friends you meet elsewhere. Those guys would go through hell and high water for each other. I liked that.

Now that Billy and Montana managed to get a relationship out of a chance encounter, I’m curious as to what happens next. Also, I wouldn’t mind at all to see more of the other guys. Generally I prefer stories with the focus on one couple but with novels the length of the Hammer novels I’d welcome a bit of variety or at least a bit more interaction with others.

Available at Torquere Press

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Books are good for kids

Not that anybody ever doubted that, but now we have scientific evidence.

An article on “Idea of the day” talks about a study on books and schooling in 27 nations. It says that “Children growing up in homes with many books get 3 years more schooling than children from bookless homes, independent of their parents’ education, occupation, and class. This is as great an advantage as having university educated rather than unschooled parents, and twice the advantage of having a professional rather than an unskilled father.”

To add a library to a house is to give that house a soul. Cicero

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Weekly Geeks 13-2010: Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month in the US and Canada. It is "a celebration of poetry first introduced in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry."
Now I’m not one for poetry but maybe I should learn more about this literary form. For this week’s theme, I encourage participants to to help celebrate National Poetry Month by:

  • Posting a favorite poem, or
  • Reviewing a poem or book of poems, or
  • Discussing a favorite poet, or
  • Posting a vlog of yourself reading a poem or find a video of someone else reading one, or
  • Writing a poem yourself- any form

Or come up with something I haven’t thought of to celebrate and post it on your blog. Let your imagination run wild.

I love Ancient Japanese poetry and haiku. Haiku is a form of traditional Japanese poetry with no title, no rhyme and in three metrical phrases of 5, 7, and 5 moras (sound units). Before Masaoka Shiki came along haiku were called hokku. They became popular in the second half of the 17th century.  When a nobleman entertained in the evening a collaborative poem called Haikai no Renga was created by several poets. The first verse – hokku – had to be done by a renga master and had to follow certain rules, like contain a reference to the time and the host of the evening. Usually this was done by referring to the current season and by honoring the host with an image taken from nature. Matsuo Basho was a master at this and already during his time the hokku became a separate form of poem.

Only in the 19th century Masaoka Shiki gave it the name haiku and made it so popular that it later became known all over the world.

One of my favourite haiku by Shiki is this one:

Oppressive heat —
My whirling mind
Listens to the peals of thunder.

Unfortunately in this translation, as so often, the 5-7-5 isn’t there anymore. A German translation of the same haiku goes like this (and here the translator managed to keep the 5-7-5)

Die Hitze drückend
die Sinne ganz benommen
lausch ich dem Donner.

Here are some links to haiku sites that I recommend (mostly modern haiku):

Here you can see what other Weekly Geeks say about poetry.

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Sucks and Blows by Storm Grant

Blurb: Dr. Cary Drewel is a dentist in trouble. The loan shark who financed his equipment is threatening to break both his arms if he doesn’t make a payment. Hoping to attract the orthodontia-ready Twilight crowd, Cary distributes a flyer advertising his new practice: Vampires Our Speciality!
Then sexy Pierce Sharpe walks into the clinic holding one of the flyers. Pierce is starving, unable to eat due to his impacted teeth. But even pale and shaky, Pierce makes Cary’s pulse race and his smock tent. Imagine Cary’s surprise when he asks the man to, “Open, please,” and discovers Pierce just might be the real thing!

My thoughts: Vampires with tooth problem: that alone is already hinting at a not too serious sort of story, and this very short one is no exception. A fun read. Cary excels at corny puns and when I thought I’d read enough of those I couldn’t believe that even Pierce, the cool vampire, comes up with a name like “Vlad, the Inhaler”, :-). The problems of Cary were swiftly dealt with and both guys can go home looking forward to a fun night. Quick and entertaining.

Available at Torquere Books

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If you like pop ups and dinosaurs…

beasts Normally I’m not talking about kid’s books, but I’ve got to tell you about this one. Our kids, especially the older one, who is 6, is mad about dinosaurs and has been for a while. We found the “Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Mega Beasts” and loved it right away. It is a pop-up book with lots and lots of pop ups by paper artists Robert Clarke Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart. You have to have a look at them, they are amazing. Every page comes with one very large one that pops up right when you open it, and more smaller ones hidden behind little pockets. They are very detailed and intricate – astonishing. Also the books provide a lot of information about the animals and the time they lived in. Our son loves the book and now wants more. Thank God there ARE more…

Available on amazon.

Check out the websites of the two artists! They offer a lot of  info on pop-ups with instructions to make your own as well.

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Satisfaction by M. L. Rhodes

Blurb: Although Jesse McIntyre slings drinks in a gay bar, up until recently, he kept to himself and stuck to his rule never to hook up with customers. He’d been down that road before and bore the physical and emotional scars from it. The last thing he’d wanted was to fall for Robert Bauer, the wealthy businessman with the sexy smile who started frequenting the bar. They were opposites in every way, so Jesse never dreamed Robert, the pressed and polished owner and CEO of a multi-million dollar corporation, might be interested in a tattooed, college drop-out bad boy like him. But when fate threw them together for a long weekend, they finally gave into the passion that had been brewing, and the resulting explosion rocked their worlds.

Now, five months later, though the fire’s still burning sinfully hot between them, the realities of their opposite lifestyles begin to take a toll. Robert’s constant business travel weighs heavily on Jesse. When he realizes they’re having more phone sex than real sex, and he’s sleeping alone the majority of the time despite the fact he and Robert are supposedly living together, he worries there’s more behind Robert’s trips than just business. Jesse’s sure Robert’s avoiding him, avoiding them, but through the years his lover has built so many thick, protective walls to guard his emotions, Jesse finds it tough to get past them and discover why. He loves the man like crazy, and doesn’t doubt Robert loves him, too, yet will love be enough to overcome whatever is haunting Robert and heal the rift that’s slowly tearing them apart?

 

My thoughts: I picked this up because I really liked the prequel „Passion“ and wanted to know how the story continued. From the first book we know already that Jesse easily jumps to conclusions and this was again proven here. But where then it was sort of understandable now I found it was just too much. 

If you don’t like SPOILERS, don’t continue reading!

The whole story alternated between the two men sleeping with each other and Jesse either complaining about Robert’s absence or Jesse analyzing Robert’s every move and tone in order to find out whether Robert really loves him or not. I found that extremely annoying.

In “Satisfaction” Jesse has become a needy whiner who constantly begs Robert to not leave again or to come back home soon. Geeze, he’s a grown man who has spent most of his life without a partner and all of a sudden he becomes clingy to the extreme. Even though he did correctly suspect there was an ulterior reason for Robert’s frequent absence (I’m coming to that in a minute), it still is feasible that a successful businessman has to travel a lot and his partner has to either put up with it or draw the consequences.

Robert, on the other hand, has his reason to be absent all the time which is equally irritating. You either want to be with someone or you don’t. To get together and long to be with your partner and at the same time leave him continuously just doesn’t make sense to me. The reason for this contradictory behaviour was basically that he was afraid of getting dumped out of the blue again and took precautionary measures not to get attached too much. For crying out loud! Robert is not the first person in the world to get dumped and won’t be the last one either. Even given his childhood situation (which, by the way, I couldn’t remember from the first book; so I have to go by what was mentioned briefly here) I just found this hard to believe. Get over it already!

I can’t say I was too happy with this story. It was a quick read, even more so as I only skimmed through the sex scenes. All that whining and moaning so got on my nerves that I just couldn’t get into it.

Available at Amber Allure

Here you will find my thoughts on Passion.

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The Gentleman and the Rogue by Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon

Blurb: A lad from the streets meets a lord of the manor…
When war veteran Sir Alan Watleigh goes searching for sex, he never imagines the street rat he brings home for one last bit of pleasure in his darkest hour will be the man who hauls him back from the edge of the grave.
A night of meaningless sex turns into an offer of permanent employment. As Sir Alan Watleigh’s valet, Jem offers much more than polished boots and starched cravats. He makes Sir Alan Watleigh’s smile and warms his bed. Just as the men are adjusting to their new living arrangement, news about a former soldier under his command sends Sir Alan Watleigh and Jem on the road to save a child in danger.
The journey brings them closer together as they travel from lust toward love. But is Sir Alan Watleigh’s love strong enough to risk society discovering the truth about him?

If you hate S P O I L E R S, don’t continue reading!

My thoughts: I got this book because I read an extremely positive review at Literary Nymphs who made it one of their recommended reads. Also I have read two other books by Bonnie Dee (not m/m though) which I liked a lot, so I thought I’d give this one a try.

I can’t exactly say what it is that bothers me about this story, but I’m not that enthusiastic about it. I liked everything about it that was there, but somehow for me something was missing, that I can’t really put my finger on.

Maybe it was that I found the love / sex scenes somewhat lacklustre, even though Jem and Sir Alan were mad about each other. Maybe it was the fact that Sir Alan never confesses his love for Jem. He possibly didn’t because he just couldn’t bring himself to do it, due to his misgivings about his sexual preferences. Those misgivings were supposedly gone by the end of the book, but I didn’t buy that.  Maybe it was the fact that we saw more love scenes in the first half of the book when it was more about lust than love, and less in the second one where it would have been the other way around. Maybe all the stories Jem told Sir Alan to cheer him up (a noble intention, for sure) or to steer away from a potential emotional outburst were just too much for me; I prefer characters who talk about their emotions out in the open instead of hiding them (even though I understand the latter very well).

The slang that was used in some of the dialogues I didn’t get at all. Admittedly, it was not really necessary in order to understand what was going on and Jem did translate some of it for Sir Alan. Still, it would have been nicer for me to fully understand what he was saying.

All that makes it sound as if I didn’t like to read this story, but I did. I wanted to know what was going on with the girl, what had happened to her, how Jem and Sir Alan will end up, so I couldn’t stop reading. And maybe this is all that matters.

The last sentence of the blurb, by the way, is the typical misleading question, that doesn’t arise in the book at all. Jem and Sir Alan had to be careful, of course, but nothing happened that threatened to expose them or anything. I don’t know why blurbs always have to create some suspense that is never delivered.

Available at Loose ID

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Enlightened by J.P. Barnaby

First instalment in the “Little Boy Lost” series

Blurb: Little Boy Lost is the story of Brian McAllister, the boy next door.
Brian goes to school, he does his homework, and he helps his foster parents around the house. Brian also has a secret. He is in love with his best friend.  In Crayford, Alabama being in love with another boy is the worst kind of sin.

In this first book, Enlightened, Brian and his best friend Jamie discover just how deep their emotional bond runs, and at what cost. From fumbling through their first sexual experiences to shrouding every aspect of their relationship from everyone in their lives, Brian and Jamie battle for the one thing that is truly theirs – love.

What will they do if their secret is discovered?

My thoughts: OK, from the blurb this story had so many things going against it that I’m amazed at myself that I even started it. I don’t particularly like stories with two teenage boys discovering their sexuality, I don’t particularly like 1st person POV and I definitely dislike reading about religious zealots and fervent preachers who condemn everybody who doesn’t fit into their small little Bible Belt world. But I read the excerpt on JP Barnaby’s site and that made me curious because I really liked the writing style and the scene.

Maybe it is because I live in Europe and views over here often tend to be more liberal than in many parts of the US, it seems, that I always have trouble believing in the existence of those religious, self-righteous parents and overzealous preachers, but I must assume they do exist somewhere. To my great relief their personal appearance in the story were kept to a minimum, even though they were always present in the minds of the two boys and they had a great impact on the course of their story.

Anyway, before I digress even more, I couldn’t have been more wrong with my apprehension. I totally loved this story. Looking at some of the sub-standard stuff that is sometimes being sold by the known publishers I’m at a loss as to why this story is self-published  and didn’t get picked up by a publisher. Unless, of course, J.P. Barnaby chose to self-publish for other reasons. Maybe it’s the age of the two boys who are both under 18, but I have read other romance fiction with at least one partner underage, so it doesn’t seem to be a total taboo.

Brian and Jamie are very lovable boys, insecure at first, but extremely mature and grow into their relationship in a very believable way. They are ready to face the world when it comes to that and won’t be swerved by superior behaviour or irrelevant prayers, whether they come from a preacher or a parent.

The love scenes ARE love scenes. Not simply some quick, inexperienced, uninspired fumbling either, but loving, tender and perfect. Brian and Jamie go through various stages in their physical relationship and each one of them is described in such a beautiful way,  I was so enthralled I couldn’t stop reading. At 216 pages I was expecting to take a few days to finish the book, since my reading time is limited, but I just couldn’t stop and finished it in one day.

The story goes more or less medias in res with Brian’s and Jamie’s visit to church where the pastor goes on about homosexuality is a sin yadda yadda. At first I didn’t know when the story is set and thought that it must be in the forties maybe. It definitely had that feel to it for me, with the Sunday church clothes, the boys in suits and ties, the girls in neat dresses…until it turned out that it must be set now. I was dumbstruck. Can it be that the Bible Belt is being stuck in the 40s or 50s in more ways than one? 

At the cliff hanger end of the book there is a preview on the next instalment “Abandoned”. It seems Brian is in for a rough time for the next year (which was to be expected). I can’t wait to read more about those two boys. In the meantime I might have a look at “The Forbidden Room”, another first book in a series  by J. P. Barnaby dealing with BDSM. Again not my first choice as far as topics are concerned, but after reading “Enlightened” I’m afraid I can’t trust my own preferences anymore.

Highly recommended.

Available as .pdf at J.P. Barnaby’s site, or as paperback and kindle on amazon.com

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The High-Class Highwayman by Julia Talbot

Blurb: When Julian is forced to turn to crime after he loses his inheritance, he decides that he can do better than the incompetent highwayman who tries to waylay him one dark night. That’s how the High-Class Highwayman comes into his own, and he does very well for himself, at least until Griffen Michalis comes along.
Griffen is far better versed in the criminal underworld than Julian, and he has no interest in the legitimate, and rather modest, fortune that is rightfully Julian’s. Being a Lord would cause him too much trouble. Can he convince Julian that he’s giving the money back, and that he wants something far more than one night of excitement on the high road?

My thoughts: I picked this one up for sentimental reasons. When I first started reading m/m romance a couple of Julia Talbot’s stories were among the first I read and I liked them a lot. They were paranormal ones, though, and I thought I’d give a historical story of hers a try.

I found the blurb somewhat misleading. At the beginning I was under the impression that the story is about the blooming relationship between Julian and Griffen and about how they settle the inheritance issue. Not at all. The affair was established right from the start. I have to admit though that I couldn’t quite follow the development of the emotional side of things that turned those trysts into a relationship. Somehow that didn’t quite gel with me. I’m not sure about the sex scenes either. I don’t mind kink and I don’t want to go into details here but I found that the sex scenes turned kinky a bit too soon for my taste.

Other than that I liked the story once I wrapped my head around the fact that it is almost a mystery. Well, not quite a mystery, but there is an elusive opponent who tries to ruin either Julian or Griffen, who just can’t be pinned down. In fact I was pretty curious about what on Earth was going on with that Williams – and sadly Julia Talbot has yet to provide the answer to this question.  However, at the end of the book Torquere Books let us know that there are more Highwaymen adventures coming later in the year. So does this mean that the story of Julian and Griffen will be continued and we find out more? I sure hope so.

Available at Torquere Books

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Weekly Geeks 2010-12: Checking Out Libraries

National Library Week is coming up April 11-17, and April is School Libraries Month (2010 is the 25th anniversary). This got me wondering about the state of libraries around the globe.
What’s your earliest memory of a library? What was it like for you? Were you more likely to hang out in the gym or the library when you were in school?
How’s the health of the library system in your community? How do you support your local library? How often do you check out books from the library vs. buying books? Tell us what your favorite library is like and include some photos if you can.

I remember that when I was a little girl I went to the local library with my mother. We had our library booklet where the librarian used to fill out by hand what books we got and when they were due. Then she would fill out the card which stuck in the book with our reader number and due date. The cards she kept. I have no idea what system they used back in those days to keep track of which books were due and who had them. They must have been pretty efficient in organizing.

Then years later I went to another library where they had little punch cards that were punched with a machine, not a computer yet, but definitely technically more advanced than the older system.

I always loved libraries. There was a time when I didn’t go that often, but now, that the kids like to read or be read to, I go more often again. I don’t get that much fiction, which I tend to rather buy and keep, but I’m getting tons of non-fiction there. Our older son has his own library card which he also uses with the library bus that comes to his school every two months. Also both our boys are members of the local church library because the kindergarten goes there regularly. So, at least where I live, the kids automatically get used to libraries from a very early age.

Library courtyardThe library system seems to be pretty healthy over here. Our local library has several little branches in the various parts of town and a number of library buses that go to schools. That way most of the school kids have a library card – whether they all use it though, I don’t know. Our library is situated in an old building (not old enough to be beautiful, just old enough to be ugly, except for some parts), but is in the process of being renovated. Outside the library Some parts of the building are either torn down or cored, so that the library had to move into different other buildings. Quite inconvenient because for kids’ books you have to go here, for non-fiction you have to go to another place…In one of the buildings they have a small cafe with lots of international newspapers where you can hang out for hours reading and watching people. It has a courtyard where you can sit outside in summer. Very nice and quiet.

Whenever we go to the library it is packed. Not that this reflects whether the library makes good money. It is subsidized and only wants money from the readers when books are not returned in time.

You can see a lot of beautiful libraries at Curious Expeditions. But I want to draw your attention to a private library. It is Jay Walker’s library in his home in New England. If I had a library like that I don’t think I’d ever leave my house again. AMAZING!

I had a look around for famous libraries and came across some ancient ones of which only ruins remain.

Hadrian's library by agelakis

Library of Ephesus by ultimatejourneys

Library of Pergamon by Zsenya

Angkor Wat by stuck_in_customs

 

All four images above from flick’r.

To read what other weekly geeks have to say about libraries go here. Oh, and the library in the original weekly geeks post is the Library of Congress.