Book Review: Stranger on the Shore by Josh Lanyon

10155216_10101700702994575_5550919188911807228_nFor some odd reason, this book kept making me think of Murder, She Wrote. I just kept expecting Angela Lansbury to pop in and be all like: By Joe, I think I got it! I was really caffeinated when I read this book. It was the butler!! Not really.

So, Jarrett Arlington is the head of the Long Island Arlington Empire (super wealthy people). He invites an investigative journalist named Griffin Neptune Hadley (his parents might have been stoners) to the Winden House estate to investigate the disappearance of Brian Arlington that happened 20 years ago. The kidnapping happened during the family’s Midsummer Nights themed party, and even though they paid a ransom, Brian was never returned. So what happened to Brian? Is he still alive? Bum bum bummm.

Despite having permission from Jarrett, Griff is met with some resistance from the rest of the family (a very eccentric family, I mean seriously eccentric. There’s all kinds of quirky characters in this special batch of crazy). There is a lot of resistance from the family friend and lawyer, Pierce Mather. Pierce immediately has it out for Griff, and doesn’t want him to write the book about the family. Despite this warm welcome, Pierce makes Griff swoon…weak at the knees…twitterpated. Dang Pierce and his good looks and confidence.  So, as Griff dives deeper into the mystery that is Brian, he becomes even more drawn to Pierce. I mean of course he does, we are in a m/m romance. But with the mutual attraction between the two of them, there is still distrust. We are in a mystery novel as well. I mean, come on people…

Enter suddenly, Leiland Alvin, a man claiming to be Brian. This has been one crazy week for Griff! Now Pierce and Griff must put aside their differences and join forces to prove that Leiland is a fraud! Will they be able to work together? Can their love survive the suspicious accidents and creepy phone calls? Where’s Brian?! Jessica Fletcher probably knows.

In all honesty, you don’t have to be Jessica Fletcher to figure it all out. The answers are handed to you fairly early, if you pick up on them. But this doesn’t detract from the book. I found it a fun and light read. A nice mix of mystery and romance, with just a few weird parts (thanks for the sex, let me collect some DNA). Although Lanyon is pretty formulaic in his writing, I am a fan, and I’m excited to read some more of his work.

A doll house or maybe a piece of wedding cake.

4/5 stars


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Book Review: Spirit by John Inman

5199022I’m not sure where the sudden involvement of ghosts in gay romance novels came from, but I like it. Toss a murder, a hot young stud, an unexpected love affair, and a spooky-ass ghost with a weird sense of humor into Jason’s summer plans, and you’ve got the makings for one hell of a ride. There’s also an arthritic dog named Thumper.

Jason Day is a video game designer, gay and single. His sister, Sally, goes on a four week vacation with her boyfriend, Jack; leaving Jason to babysit four-year-old nephew, Timmy. Timmy is crazy smart for his age. He’s also cute, funny, inquisitive, and manipulative; making him a giant handful for Jason. One of my favorite parts of the book was the fact that Timmy basically took over. He constantly stole the show.

I will say though, that I have always found kids to be a little creepy, and Timmy is another example why. Shortly after his arrival, Timmy starts talking about the man in the basement. Cause that’s not creepy. But Jason just leaves it to the boy’s imagination, even though his house was built in 1923 (which is a reasonable age for it to have paranormal activity). Something interesting we find out is that Jason bought the house from Sally. She sold it to him after her husband and Timmy’s father, Paul, disappeared one day. I’m guessing he just went out for a pack of cigarettes.

Enter Timmy’s uncle from his dad’s side, Sam! He happens to be in town on secret business and because he’s hot, Jason tells him to stay with them instead of a hotel. There’s an immediate attraction between to the men (this is an m/m romance after all). Jason had met Sam once before at Sally and Paul’s wedding, but they really hit it off now.

Now that Sam’s staying in the house, Timmy’s ghost friend becomes more active. As he (yes I called him a he…not sure if that’s Spoiler Alert worthy) makes himself more apparent, even to Sam and Jason. But don’t worry, he’s a friendly ghost. He spends most of his time playing and hanging out with Timmy. The only time there’s an issue is when the phone rings and Jason isn’t allowed to answer it for certain people. I think that’s vague enough to not give anything else away.

As the days go by, Jason and Sam develop a sexual relationship. And we all know that leads to love, let’s not forget the genre I’m reviewing. Their mutual concern for Timmy’s welfare, and their budding love, makes them want a simple life, one without a ghost. So they work together to find out who the ghost in the basement is and what he needs to move on to the afterlife.

There’s a lot more to the plot, but with the limited settings and cast of character, if I wrote more I’d basically be giving away the whole story. I can only recommend reading it to find out for yourself. You might not be surprised by the outcome, but it’s a still a quick fun read, full of mystery and humor. Seriously, Timmy will have you giggling throughout the chapters. But be warned that there are sad moments though too, especially with the ghost and some involving Timmy as well. Luckily, there’s only a few of those moments sprinkled throughout.

Timmy accepted with stoic resignation, although I did hear him mumble something about chicken poop and peckerheads

4/5 stars


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Book Review: The Ghost Slept Over by Marshall Thornton

5199022Ok, have you ever had that one ex-boyfriend who just never seems to go away? Like he’s basically haunting you. If so, then maybe you should read The Ghost Slept Over.

Cal Parsons is a forty year old actor who is currently homeless. He has been tossed out by his latest boyfriend, and is living in his Ford Ranger. His only source of income is performing his one-man-show about Rock Hudson for $50 wherever he can. Honestly, I would probably pay to see that show, I really like Rock Hudson. Anyways, things are bleak for our main character, but he stays optimistic. Cal believes that with some help, he can make his show a hit. I mean, he did have success in a soft-core porn film called Lust/Anger/Joy when he was younger.

While Cal waits for his career to really take off, Dewitt (Dewey) Morgan, enters the story. Dewitt is a small town lawyer of Marlboro and has been urgently trying to contact Cal. Fearing a lawsuit, Cal reluctantly gives him a call. Luckily for Cal, no one is trying to sue him. Turns out, he has just inherited the estate of a recently deceased ex-boyfriend, McCormack (Mac) Williams. Which is crazy since they haven’t seen each other in 15 years. They ended badly and Mac was a total douche and swore he never loved Cal. But why question it? So Cal ditches the Ford and travels to New York in order to claim his inheritance. We should all take a lesson from Cal on how to get our ex’s to leave us a couple million dollars instead of hateful voicemails.

When Cal arrives at the estate he is met by Dewey and there is an immediate connection between the two. But Surprise!, there was a catch to inheritance, Mac isn’t really gone. He’s dead, but his ghost remains and he wants Cal to die and join him in the afterlife. No biggie! Cal turns the offer down of course, because he is quite smitten by Dewey. Mac doesn’t take being turned down very well and tries to sabotage Cal and Dewey’s budding relationship. Cal must now deal with a stubborn ghost who won’t go to the other realm or even the other room for that matter. Hell, he doesn’t even leave the bed when Cal and Dewey have at it. It was little odd, I admit.

Can Cal rid himself of Mac? Will he and Dewey be able to survive a ghost with no boundaries? Or will Dewey think Cal is just crazy? Will Mac succeed in killing, I mean convincing Cal? If you want the answers, read the book! Mac alone is worth the time. His antics and the humor they bring is delightful. You will hate the man, but love the ghost.

I gave the book 4/5 stars because I had a few issues. The scenes without Mac dragged a little for me. I don’t know if it was that I got really attached to him and wanted him to cause more mischief or what, but I just didn’t give a shit about Cal and Dewey’s alone time. That brings me to the next problem, the humor totally outweighs the romance. Which is okay if you go into the book to be entertained and not for a great love story. It was a cliché: Hi, I’m Cal, I have typical emotional baggage. Hi, I’m Dewey, I do too. Let’s work them out together and fall in love. All that aside, the book was funny and fun. If anything, read it for the ghost sex scene. Wink*

I know what kind of underwear you wear without your having to pull your pants down.

4/5 stars


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Book Review: The Chocolate Temptation by Laura Florand

17832864 Sarah Lin won an internship in Paris working under Luc Leroi, the head chef in the pastry kitchen of Hotel de Leuce. But she really works under Patrick Chevalier. Patrick who manages to make everything seem ridiculously easy and who seems to flirt with every single woman who has a pulse, including her. Watching him create insane desserts with ease and beauty, not breaking a sweat and grinning and winking at her all the while makes her want to break a pan over his pretty little head.

Patrick, meanwhile, cannot understand why Sarah is so determined to not warm up to him, almost to the point of barely speaking. He feels unworthy of her and tries to show her how he feels about her through his actions in the kitchen and being protective of her. Sarah feels unworthy of Patrick at the same time and second guesses her actions in the kitchen. She can’t tell if she made the right decision leaving her previous life behind when she chose to go for it and take on the internship. So with every wink and nudge from Patrick she wonders if she should go back.

I love Laura Florand’s writing and her previous Chocolate books, which are all set in Paris with various chocolatiers. Before this series it never had occurred to me to think about the profession as one of such passion or intensity but Florand had me hooked from the first book. Each of her heroes is equally invested in their professions for different reasons and every story is beautiful in its own way.

This story in particular felt very intense and had my stomach in knots at times wanting to scream at both Sarah and Patrick. Sarah second guessing herself felt very familiar as I think that’s a pretty common thing for women to do. Especially since she essentially picked up her life and is starting all over again with her new profession. She was so protective of herself and her feelings that at times she felt like glass but that is so never a word she would use to describe herself

Patrick’s laissez faire attitude to the world, and towards Sarah was a façade as well. Normally these kinds of hurt feelings and almost misunderstandings can irritate me in romance novels. What’s so great about this book is that these misunderstandings don’t actually happen. While we get the internal monologue of both characters and get the benefits of understanding their motives, we also get actual conversations that occur. Both Sarah and Patrick are guarded and things happen slowly but things actually happen.

The prose is beautiful and the ending was very touching. If you’re a fan of the romance genre at all I would highly recommend reading this series. You will not be disappointed!

4/5 Stars

ARC provided by the author in return for an honest review.


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Book Review: Bone Rider by J. Fally

18619542Cowboys and Mobsters and Aliens, oh my! Did you read The Host and wish it had more? More cowboys, Russians, and man on man action? Although the book was crazy over the top, it turned out to be an enjoyable read.

The Bone Rider is a story told through several different POV’s, like over 9 of them. Not only do you read the story from the main character, but the secondary characters get a say as well. The POV changes at the start of a new chapter, so it if you hate changing views, it isn’t that hard to follow. New Chapter = New Character view. The chapters aren’t very long either, so even if you don’t like a character, you’ll switch to a new one shortly. I will say, the jumping around made it really hard to hate any of the characters. You get a nice understanding on why they did the things they did.

The story starts when System Six, a sentient symbiotic artificial weapons and armor system, who decides to abandon his current host and ends up crash landing in Texas. System Six needs a new host and that’s when we meet Riley, who just so happens to be a cowboy on the run from his Russian hit man boyfriend, Misha. Now, don’t expect anything creepy when System Six invades Riley. He’s more useful than a hindrance. System Six or McClane, as he begins to call himself after watching Die Hard, begins to form a close bond with Riley. A bond he hasn’t had with any of his previous hosts.

So Misha, the dangerous mobster, is actually desperate to win back the love of his life. Riley is the only man who has ever meant anything to him. He loves him and he will do anything to get him back. Misha’s right and left hand men, Kolya and Andrej, make for excellent side characters. The bromance between Misha and Andrej is adorable.

Riley and McLane are still sorting things out, when all three meet in El Paso. But wait, there’s more! General Nick Young, who has been after McClane this whole time, and his Special Forces are there too! And now it’s all-out war! The battle scene was by far my favorite. It was easy to follow, well written, and is not too gory. It had everything an avid Halo player could need: sharpshooters… helicopters… missile launchers… and mobster hit men.

So, since nothing says love better than a well fought battle, let’s talk a little about the love stories in this book. The way I see it is this: Riley loves Misha and Misha loves Riley. But then you have McClane who’s kinda hitching a ride and in love with Riley but Riley only loves McClane in the friendship sort of way. Friends with benefits. Wink*

Like I said before, there’s a lot going on in this book. There’s plenty of characters, crazy situations, weird love triangles, but it was a lot of fun. So if you’re up for one crazy ride, I suggest buying this book.

“McClane’s not real,” he argued, once he was coherent again. “He’s a movie character. He’s make-believe.”

“All names are make-believe”.

4/5 stars


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Book Review: Greenwode by J. Tullos Hennig


Did you ever read or hear the stories of Robin Hood and think “A bunch of merry men hanging out in the forest together seems a little queer?” Well, J. Tullos Hennig confirms your suspicions.

Greenwode takes place in 12th century England, the beginning of the legend of Robin Hood. Young Rob is the son of a forester and firmly believes in the pagan Gods. He eventually take the place of his father as the Horned Lord. One day, while running an errand for his father in Sherwood Forest, he rescues a boy who had been thrown from his horse. Enter Gamelyn. Gamelyn is the third son of a nobleman and a good ol’ Catholic boy.

Rob takes Gamelyn home resulting in a friendship between Gamelyn and Rob’s older sister Marion. But Rob and Gamelyn are not quick to friend. Throughout the book, they are in a constant state of attraction/hostility. Gamelyn wishes that Rob liked him more, but they are both aware of the divides between them. It also doesn’t help that Gamelyn thinks everyone grew up receiving the same noble treatment and living the same noble life that he did.

Needless to say, there is a lot of conflict in Greenwode: Robin vs Gamelyn… Peasants vs Nobles… Pagans vs Christians. But for the stories sake, there is only one conflict that matters; that which is between one Pagan peasant and one Noble Christian… and the odds are NOT in their favor. Robin must deal with the fact that Gamelyn is basically his enemy; while Gamelyn must deal with the fact that he is in love with a peasant who is also male. I mean, if it was discovered he loved a man, it would mean death. Another classic case of doomed love.

But don’t be quick to hate on Gamelyn, he has his own problems. He has an ailing father and a cray jealous older brother. And then there’s his kinswoman, who is also a negative presence in his life. She wants to help him achieve his destiny as a Catholic priest. Granted, he was probably going to be a priest if Robin hadn’t been so sexy. Clueless Gamelyn is also blissfully unaware that his kinswoman is a crazed abbess trying to hunt down all pagans.

Greenwode gives us a better understanding of Robin of Loxley. We see that before becoming a hero, his life full of love, confusion, conflict, and danger. Of course, there is also the addition of the magic and a couple of supporting characters (big sis Marion and Gamelyn’s jealous brother). All of these things help guide Robin to become the legend we know.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and the story. If you’re into historical (?) gay young romance novels, then this is the book for you. Just be forewarned that you might find yourself googling the definition of a few words or skimming through the overly descriptive parts. Greenwode also ends on a cliffhanger so you’re going to have to read the second book to find out if anyone got their happy ending. Pun kinda intended.

Little what? Are you calling me an ass?

4/5 stars


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Book Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

1503932_1446882858866409_776461211_nHi there, ten-inch, wicked-looking knife.

Ever wonder what the world would be like if aliens invaded? In Rick Yancey’s first book of his series, The 5th Wave, we find out that it is not all fun and games. It’s certainly no Lilo and Stitch, and definitely no Superman coming to help Earth. No, the alien invasion comes in waves.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Cassie is one of the main characters of the book, battling/surviving through the waves like a teenage version of Sigourney Weaver in Alien. That’s Cassie for Cassiopeia, not Cassandra. She has a harder time than Sigourney because the aliens look just like human beings. And as if surviving wasn’t hard enough, because you can’t trust anyone, she is on a mission to save her younger brother who was taken by the aliens as part of the 5th wave. Equipped with his teddy bear, she tries to make good on a promise to return to him. But her journey goes a little off course when she is rescued by a mysterious, yet handsome Evan Walker. Is he friend or foe?

Will she fall victim to Evan’s shy charm? Or will she remain infatuated by her high school crush, Ben Parish? Whatever happened to Ben Parish anyways? He’s probably dead like the rest of the human race.

I could easily spoil the book for you with just a little more description of the plot. It’s pretty predictable. There are a few moments where you might find yourself biting your lip, but the knowledge of a second book should reassure you that at least Cassie lives till her sequel.

The book has received many mixed reviews and it’s easy to see why. Some people have been raving about this series, comparing it to The Hunger Games or Divergent. It’s good, but not that good. Just go into it without expecting the “next big thing” to come out of it. The obvious turns of the plot make it hard to be surprised, you know where the book is going…you know what the 5th wave will be. Think of it as a dark version of The Host. The aliens in this book are not that polite. Except for Evan. Don’t worry, you would have figured that out.

Now some people absolutely hate the book. I’m not sure why. I think they read something different from me, maybe the glorified alien addition. The story is mainly told by a sarcastic, teenage girl, who despite an alien invasion is still experiencing all the awkwardness of having crushes.  My inner cynic related to and appreciated her, although a lot or people did not. This didn’t stop people from hating the minor love stories in the novel. She’s a teenage girl with a cute teenage boy, trapped in the woods for several weeks. If nothing happened between them, I would have been disappointed that our main protagonist was possibly going to die a cold, heartless wench.

People also hated that the POV of the book changes often. I thought it was a nice way to keep the plot going without going stale, but a lot of people had problems figuring out who’s POV they were on; even though Yancey makes it super easy to figure out with sentences like: I am Ben Parish or I am the silencer (neither of which are real sentences in the book).

My best advice if you decide to read this series is to go in with an open mind. I enjoyed the book and I’m looking forward to next, I have some unanswered questions and I can’t predict them.

It’s my first truly awkward moment in the alien lair.

4/5 stars


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Book Review: The Lump of Coal by Lemony Snicket

2850394The holiday season is a time for storytelling, and whether you are hearing the story of a candelabra staying lit for more than a week, or a baby born in a barn without proper medical supervision these stories often feature miracles. Miracles are like pimples, because once you start looking for them you find more than you ever dreamed you’d see, and this holiday story features any number of miracles, depending on your point of view.

Continuing on with my love for the holidays, I bring you The Lump of Coal. I’ve always been a fan of Lemony Snicket because I get his wit and humor, so when I saw he had written a holiday story, I knew I was in for a treat. In this story, Snicket uses a grumpy, well-dressed piece of coal to remind us that Christmastime is a time of miracles. And the greatest miracle of all is pursuing your dreams.

Becoming a great artist is the dream of our little flammable friend.  Unfortunately, everywhere he goes, he gets rejected. He even goes into an art gallery, but is quickly turned down because they only represent “human” artists. After being rejected and feeling discouraged, he considers burying himself deep in the ground so eventually he will turn into a diamond. The biggest obstacle for the lump of coal is that he needs someone to draw with him so they can make beautiful art together. The problem is that it is the holiday season when he rolls into the world and everyone is busy. His search for a fellow artist  proves to be difficult. The lump of coal meets plenty of naysayers and phonies on his quest to be an artist, but he never gives up on his dream. When he finally meets a teenager, and they combine their talents, a miracle happens.

Miracles can happen, even to those who are small, flammable, and dressed in all black.

 A great book for kids and adults alike, Snicket provides plenty of chuckles on the coals journey to its happy ending. On of my favorite parts of the book is Brett Helquist’s illustrations. The lump of coal is brilliantly drawn and elegantly dressed throughout the story. All the characters and scenes are drawn with such charm that perfectly captures the holiday feel. If you love Christmas stories and have my sense of humor, then this is . This will probably be the first time you ask Santa to bring you a lump of coal even though you’ve been a good boy/girl all year!

Also, the real Santa Claus is at the mall.

4/5 stars


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